Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bracing myself for 2014

While many will be ringing the new year with partying and celebration, I myself am not particularly looking forward to 2014. From my point of view, 2014 summons old routines as well as new and unforeseen challenges and situations. Not only will my holidays and vacation end, and the routine and rhythm of work begin, but new unseen challenges, experiences and tests await me.

At least with 2013, I can look back at what I passed through, reflect on lessons learned, mistakes made and give thanks for the worst that did not happen. However, for 2014, I know not what will happen nor whether my life will go according to plans or deviate from them. And considering the global problems in 2013, I approach 2014 with trepidation and an expectation that things might get worse.

For 2014, I wonder what difficult decisions will I have to make? What challenges will arise? How will my character be tested in 2014? These are the questions that loom in my mind as 2014 approaches.

With these question, I begin to appreciate the secular traditions of wishing people a happy or prosperous new year. (I prefer the term prosperous 2014, as both 'happy' and 'new' are temporary and come with expiry dates). Yet 2014 is a secular year, and not really one that is embedded in God's biblical calendar. The real new year is in April (Spring), when the Passover season begins. Hence for me, while the secular new year has begun, the spiritual new year hasn't. So I await God's spiritual renewal to face the unknown that is ahead.

God bless you and a prosperous 2014 to you!

Friday, December 27, 2013

My emerging views on abortion Part 1

I recently received some news that the Seventh-day Adventist church hospitals have been performing operations (The Third Angels Message, 2012). Whether or not the news is true, it has made me reflect deeply on my own experiences and emerging views on the subject matter. In this post, I share some of my reflections and emergent perspectives, especially seeing that we have just exited the season where many Western Christians reflect on the nativity and story of the birth of Jesus.

My ideas about abortion have been emerging from my interaction with a number of persons including young females that have been molested or raped, as well as a non-profit organization that is pro-life (and one feminist to a lesser extent). However, most deeply, my own views on abortion come from my personal experience as a parent of three girls and also as a father that experienced the early miscarriage of my second child.

Further, when I reflect on the story of the birth of Jesus in light of all those experiences, I can empathise with what Mary and Joseph went through. A child out of wedlock in a strict religious society? In my generation, we have been subjected to the propaganda of family planning videos that told us and our parents that two children are better than too many ("A history of government family planning", 2008). We have also been fed by various agencies the idea that poverty is caused by the number of children that we have. We have also been told that we must not have children until we have the resources to care for them. These successful propaganda has so affected our world today that there are developed countries that are bribing families to have children or even more children (Smith, 2011).

But back to me and my own lived experience. It is only now that I realise how the early miscarriage of my second child has affected my views on abortion. At the time when my wife missed her period in that season, our first born was barely a year and a half. I was worried and so was my wife. We had just gone through the experience of pregnancy and everything was still fresh in our minds. It was scary and frightening.

But then the child died naturally within the womb after less than three months. At the time, I felt relieved. Yes... it was bad, but I felt relieved. However, now as the father of three girls, I wonder if my second child was actually the son that we so badly wanted and prayed for. Today, that experience has lead me to embrace the viewpoint that life begins at conception and not at birth.

If I am to define when does a person become a person today, I would argue that a person becomes a person when a document is created about that person's existence. Such a document thereby provides evidence that such a person existed or exists. For governmental purposes, this is usually done through a birth certificate. However, for the parent who wants to keep that child or being, documents are created from the day that woman discovers that she is pregnant. (For example, a photography of the positive result on the pregnancy test).

Medically, records are created to document that a potential human being is about to enter the world. Yet doctors, rather than treat the blob of cells and matter within the woman's uterus or womb as an individual or person with a name and life ahead of him/her, use language and semantics to de-emphasize the person as an "it".

However, in the past, language and semantics were used to rationalise the ill-treatment of Negroes as slaves. Negroes were denied personhood and considered as chattel and property similar to cattle. Similarly today, economists and business managers do the same, denying  workers personhood and individuality, by labelling us as 'human capital', 'labour', 'human resources' or as 'a factor of production'. Hence dehumanization allows us to have 'labour substitution', which reduces the employment opportunities for people in favour of technology.

Hence, I am not a fan of these word and language games. I believe that we should call the foetus what "it" is, a helpless and dependent bundle of potentiality and promise. When I check the dictionary, it says that a fetus is either an unborn mammal or especially an unborn human "more than eight weeks after conception" ("fetus", 2005). For me, it is very technical that the dictionary writers had to say that the fetus is only a human after eight weeks from conception. This disclaimer suggests that we need the dimension of time in order to define when a fetus becomes human. (Time by itself is another artificial construct and language or symbolic manipulation of our reality).

My argument is simply this, that a person becomes human after conception, when documents are being created about him or her. No date and time is required to elapse after conception before we consider the fetus human. Once a fetus is conceived in a woman, we known that the fetus is not going to be anything except human if giving the chance to live (unless the DNA has been tampered with, which is another story).

However, that brings us the other problem of whether or not we must legislate against abortion, which is something that I am still meditating on, as I do consider the argument that one cannot use his or her own moral conviction of God's laws and Biblical principles and impose it on unbelievers. This goes against the principle of free will. Which is why I still find myself keeping silent on these issues.


A history of government family planning efforts in Jamaica [blog post] (2008, October 28). Retrieved from http://stanford.edu/group/womenscourage/cgi-bin/blogs/familyplanning/2008/10/24/a-history-of-government-family-planning-efforts-in-jamaica/

Fetus. (2005). Pocket Oxford English dictionary. 10th ed. Oxford: Oxford University P.

Smith, R. (2011, November 3). When governments pay people to have babies. NPR Planet Money Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/11/03/141943008/when-governments-pay-people-to-have-babies

The Third Angels Message (2012). An open letter to Ted Wilson on abortion in our hospitals the Trademark and recent imprisonment of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved from http://www.thethirdangelsmessage.com/open_letter_ted_wilson

Sunday, December 8, 2013

'Pentecostal' experiences in Seventh-day Adventism?

While I generally embrace a largely Christian identity, I label myself as Judeo-Christian, in recognition that the roots of Christianity is Jewish. Further, as a Protestant, I find that if I am to be consistent with an identity that challenges the worldwide influence and domination of Roman Christianity, then I must start to uncover what the Christian faith looked like before the domination of Roman Christians.

This journey has lead me to become more tolerant of Christian diversity as I realise that all of us have got it wrong, and no one group has the full 'truth' or authentic 'Christian' traditions. I appreciate from my reading of Jenkins (2010) that Roman and Western Christians' violent domination and subjugation of Eastern Christians also contributed to the rise of Islam. In this regard, I recognise that Islam's rise was partially a reaction against Western Christians violently imposing their own theology on Eastern Christians with different theologies and practices.

In the task of trying to understand more about my spiritual roots I have been reading a number of books, especially those about groups that I am personally acquainted with. I am currently reading a book written about Seventh-day Adventists by some sociologists, which to me is an objective look at the denomination's development. For me, this reading is important because of my path and spiritual journey with God, which found me becoming a member of the church back in my early university days. I feel obligated as a result to thoroughly understand objectively how Seventh-day Adventism developed separate and apart from what the denomination's gate keepers wants the congregants to know. I also want to get the information from a source that is not biased like the ex-Seventh-day Adventists that spew venom in their analysis and research or even other denominational researchers with an agenda.

That said, I find Bull and Lockhart's (2007) an excellent scholarly resource from which to view the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) denomination objectively, without the indoctrination. Bull and Lockhart's (2007) book is indeed a good read objectively covering how outsiders viewed the church (including the popular media) as well examine the insiders' experiences, literature and views.

In this post in particular, I want to highlight in particular the 'Pentecostal' experiences in the SDA denomination as presented by Bull and Lockhart's (2007) research.

Those today who visit a Seventh-day Adventist Church will know it as a quiet church. There is no shouting, people falling on the floor or expressing themselves emotionally in worship. Well, I have news for you. In Adventist early history, the church people were more noisy than they are today. In Chapter four in particular of Bull and Lockhart, it is mentioned that the Adventists were once confused with the Shakers and spiritualists. In addition, both Ellen and James White report experiences of praying and falling to the floor or feeling the Holy Spirit come over them. Adventist believers engaged in house prayer sometimes found themselves 'slain in the spirit' according to several accounts documented by Bull and Lockhart (2007). According to Bull and Lockhart (2007), James White in a letter to his wife relates

how, when visiting some believers, "I fell upon my face, and cried and groaned under the power of God. Brethren Sanborn and Ingraham felt about the same. We all lay on the floor under the power of God." (p.77)
 This was not just a one off situation either. Bull and Lockhart (2007) also reports Ellen White describing another situation:

While the larger family of Brother P. were engaged in prayer at their own house, the Spirit of God swept through the room and prostrated the kneeling suppliants. My father came in soon after and found them all both parents and children, helpless under the power of the Lord
I also find a similar typical occurrence in White's (2000) documentation of her experience in Early Writings (p. 12):

That said, it is interesting given this history that in my experience, Jamaican Adventism draws almost hostile lines of distinctions and demarcations from Pentecostals and that Jamaican Pentecostals do the same with Adventists. For me, the evidence points out that we are all coming from the same tree. In fact, Adventism is likely to have 'quenched' the spirit, which is why Pentecostals seem more advanced in the manifestations of Bible miracles and signs.


Bull, M., & Lockhart, K. (2007). Seeking a sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American dream. 2nd ed. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Jenkins, P. (2010). Jesus wars: How four patriarchs, three queens, and two emperors decided what Christians would believe for the next 1,500 years. NY: HarperCollins.

White, E. G. H. (2000). Early writings. Washington, D.C: Review and Herald Pub Assoc.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My views on Ellen White

In this post I tackle a potential controversial topic on the inspiration of Ellen Gould White. For this topic among others, my fellow Evangelicals and other Protestants have labelled my SDA community as a cult.


Not too recently, I went to the Creation bookstore in London and saw the pamphlet on sale that expounded on why Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) are considered a cult rather than as Christians. Apart from a belief in the Seventh-day Sabbath and the argument that SDAs believe in a different Jesus, the argument that was most worthy of my reflection was the argument  of the role of Mrs. White and her writings in the SDA denomination. The concern raised by my Christian friends in the pamphlet is that the SDA community gives Mrs. White's writings equal authority as the Holy Scriptures.

It is easy to see how this concern is justified. On reading some of Mrs. White's writings to my family, my eldest daughter began to call it 'Daddy's Bible', perhaps because the book, like the Bible contained events, as well as a whole lot of moral instructions. (I stop reading the book to the family after that). Also, it is true that from my experience of the SDA community that there are many members that are so inclined to see Mrs. White's writings as equally as inspired as the Bible. The denomination's official statistics show that 75% of the community believe in Mrs. White's prophetic gift. Today, I present my own views on the matter.

It is complicated if one believes in the Bible to not believe that God will continue to have prophets and to reveal things to believers. For me, I do not discount people having a claim to seeing visions. The Bible itself establishes that one of the ways that God speaks to us is through dreams and visions (Job 33:14-18). I am sure my Pentecostal brethren will agree with this. In fact, before the Pentecostal movement, which my Pentecostal brethren trace back to Azusa street revival (1906), Ellen White experienced seeing visions and even speaking words of wisdom. In fact, a defence of the perpetuity of spiritual gifts can actually be found in early Adventist literature. James White, Mrs. White's husband, in his introduction entitled 'Spiritual Gifts in Spiritual Gifts Vol. III makes a defence of the perpetuity of spiritual gift doctrine that sounds similar to any Pentecostal minister (White, 1945).

I myself have seen visions or received a word in my spirit though not as frequent as I would like. Hence I am not going to debate the authenticity of people getting revelations or visions from God. However there are 3 things that I raise opposition to:

  1. that all of Mrs. White's writings are complete and there is no need for new revelations
  2. that all of Mrs. White's writings are wholly inspiration and wholly prophetic
  3. that Mrs. White is a false prophet.
For the rest of this post, I deal with these 3 points.

Mrs. White's writings are incomplete and we still need further prophetic revelation for today

My thesis on the matter is that while Mrs. White did see visions and receive revelations from God, what she saw was incomplete partial and sometimes interpreted by familiar theological lens. Going back to Job 33:14-18 it states in the NIV Bible:

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another
    though no one perceives it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people
    as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
    and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing
    and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit,
    their lives from perishing by the sword
Prophetic revelation is therefore given for a specific time and purpose, that when it accomplishes its purpose, it may not be applicable or appropriate for people of a future time. As Apostle Paul states in the New Living Translation of 1 Cor. 13:12:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
In my paraphrase, even when we see visions or have dreams, even the interpretation is into very clear or the knowledge of the application is not so definitive. Daniel received visions which he did not understand and had to wait for further revelations to clarify the meaning of what he saw (Daniel 8:27). Apostle Peter also saw a vision in the story of Cornelius (Acts 10), which he did not understand until events unfolded before his eyes. Peter on seeing the vision doubted what he saw, until later he interpreted based on his lived experience what God meant in showing him the vision (Acts 10:28).

Giving these examples, brings me to my next point, that while Mrs White got visions and heard from heaven, sometimes she had to interpret and make sense of what she saw or heard. This might have meant drawing on human resources. language and understanding to communicate what she saw to others.

Not all of Mrs. White's writings are wholly inspiration and wholly prophetic
We must understand that Mrs. White was informally educated and as such got most of her words, education and knowledge through informal education of reading many spiritual and theological books. Hence while sometimes she documents what she saw or heard, at other times she dilutes these visions and revelation with interpretation and moral instruction. To understand this, one only needs to examine theories of organizational and personal storytelling.

Central to a story is an event that takes place or an experience that one has (Benjamin, ). However during the telling of the story, sometimes the narrator inserts material that was or is not a part of the original event or experience. On some occasions, the narrator tries to make sense of the event or experience using their understanding of the world and how it works or is supposed to work. At other times, the narrator extracts from the event or experience some wisdom that they believe others should learn or some moral of the story or event. This is what I am afraid happens in some if not all of Mrs. White's writings.

Mrs. White is not a false prophet/prophetess

If one undermines Mrs. White's gift of receiving revelations or visions from God, one is in danger of undermining a gift that the Bible authentically promises believers. Didn't God say in Joel 2:28 in the New International Version that:

"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

Further, some of my other Non-SDA Sabbatharian Sabbatarian friends would argue that Mrs. White cannot be a true prophetess wholly on the issue of gender. They said that because she is female, her claims to hearing from God must be dismissed. They would cite that the Bible says that no woman must teach using 1 Cor. 14:34. However didn't we just read that God would equally pour out his spirit on 'sons' and 'daughters'? Further, Apostle Peter quoting from the same book of Joel also reinforces that 'your daughters' will 'prophesy' (Acts 2:17).

So it is my thesis that while Mrs. White did see visions and receive revelations from God, what she saw was incomplete, partial and sometimes interpreted by familiar theological lens. Some of it may have been revealed for specific situations or settings in which she and the early Advent movement found themselves in, and might not fully be applicable in our present reality. For example I raised in a previous blog post how while Mrs. White received no revelation about the rebirth of the nation of Israel, one of her contemporaries predicted that this would take place.

On the other hand, that does not discount that all her writings and prophecies are to be disregarded. The only way to know if they are applicable is to read them and interpret them with a historical perspective. We need to know what took place in the past that gave context to her vision or revelation. Further, we need in our times new revelation from God about our circumstances and reality. A God of the past, present and future, should not be a God that has ceased speaking and revealing to us what he is doing in the present to attain the future that he has promised.

Finally, if one argues that Mrs. White is a false prophetess, then the next question to ask is how do you know that any prophet is a true one? Further does one also do this by invalidating the very Bible that tells us that prophecy is a gift to the church? After all, the Bible promises us that God does speak to us and the church in this way.


Garcia, E. M. (2013, Oct. 17). Landmark survey reveals in-depth beliefs, perceptions of Adventist members. Adventist News Network. Retrieved from http://news.adventist.org/all-news/news/go/2013-10-17/landmark-survey-reveals-in-depth-beliefs-perceptions-of-adventist-members/

White, E. (1945). Spiritual gifts. Vol 3 & 4.Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The need to worship and what it does for humanity

I have been having a spiritual feast that I just want to share some of the soul food that I have been feasting on. I have been studying the sanctuary themes of salvation in the Bible and a book on Management principles based on the  gospel of Luke have guided my reflections, and made it possible for me to receive revelations and new insights into the Bible and spiritual principles. In this post, I will share some these insights, reflections and revelations.

To begin, after watching a sermon on the sanctuary, I picked up a National Geographic Magazine entitled: "The Birth of Religion: The World's first temple". In it, I read an article by Mann (2011) who discusses how historians are now theorizing that human civilization is largely the result of religion and human desire to worship. In general, from reading the article I also draw the conclusion that the need to worship is the foundation of society and community. We organize community and society around worship and based on our need to worship.

In his own words, Mann (2011) states:

Through primitive religious practices - burying the dead, creating cave art and figurines- organized religion arose...when a common vision of a celestial order was needed to bind together...big new, fragile groups of humankind (p. 56-57).
In addition, the point is also made that it takes religion to sustain both politics and economy (or political economy). Mann also acknowledges that:

Villages would be more likely to accomplish [their] aims if their members were committed to...collective enterprise. (p.56)
 Mann also argues that organized religion
helped justify the social hierarchy that emerged in...complex society. Those who rose to power were seen as having special connection with the gods. Communities of the faithful, united in a common view of the world and their place in it were more cohesive than ordinary clumps of quarreling people (p.57).
Jumping across to the next reading, the book on Management based on Luke's Gospel by Bruno Dyck, I also read

People simply do not have enough willpower to break free from oppressive structures..., especially when those structures reward them with self-interested material and social benefits. People need transcendent revelation and help to develop and implement [new] structures and systems. (p.115-116)
For me, putting all these together, gives me a picture of why it is difficult to change the status quo. First of all, everything that we know exist today was not possible without the intervention of God or the "gods", and so much is at stake when one wishes to challenge the structures that exist, no matter how oppressive. I see in this the Jewish Passover story, where the Israelites could not break free from Egyptian oppression except through the intervention of God through his servant Moses.

Further, another principle is that religion now today perceived as being very divisive terrain, was once used to bring people together in order to achieve great feats. I believe that in the future, there will be a one world religion that will seek to unite civilization and all human beings. However, we are warned in the Bible that there will be two such global religions, one false and one true. However, that is the subject of another post.


Dyck, B. (2013). Management and the gospel: Luke's radical message for the first and twenty-first centuries. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mann, C. C. (2011, June). Birth of Religion: Turkey's 11,600-year-old pillars reflect a surprising new theory about the origins of worship. National Geographic, 34-59.
Can also be retrieved at: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text/1#close-modal

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bible study on the Feasts of the LORD in the New Testament

God recently gave me the opportunity to lead a Bible study at church on the Feasts of the LORD in the New Testament. As I prepared for the Bible study, I approached it with an open mind, seeking just to find the facts and draw conclusions only based on facts. As such, I present in this post what I found and my conclusions on what I found.

First, let me begin by indicate the scope and limitations of this post and Bible study. It is meant to be a mere overview of the feast days in the Bible, particularly as they are mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures. My study does not cover all possible mentions of the feats. Further I present the feasts in the order that they appear in the Jewish calendar.

1. Passover/Pesach and Unleavened Bread
From my study, Passover and Unleavened Bread observance are the only feasts commanded in the New Testament for Christians. Jesus first commanded it, that the Passover feast should commemorate his sacrifice (Luke 22:19). Then Paul, speaking to Gentiles in Corinth, declare that they must keep the feast, not in the old Jewish way, but with the new meaning infused into the feast by Jesus (1 Cor. 5:6-8).

Finally it is clear that what apostle Paul refers to as the Lord's Supper is different from what we call communion and celebrate today. The Lord supper according to Paul was an activity that involved more eating than just bread and more drinking than just a small cup or sip of wine (or grape juice). So abundant was the feasting at the Lord's supper that some people were drunk, while others came expecting to have food and were hungry (1 Cor. 11:17-34).

Finally in Acts 20:6, we see that Luke (a Gentile) also use

2. Pentecost/Shavout
Unlike Passover, there is no explicit command for the keeping of Pentecost. Despite that, the apostles were obviously together on that day (Acts 2:1). Paul made special arrangements to keep this feast in Jerusalem, despite other Gentile Christians wanting him to minister to them (Acts 18:18-21;20:16).

However, I would be hard pressed to state that Christians are commanded to observe the festival.

3. Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah
Unlike the previous festivals, Feast of Trumpets is not explicitly mentioned. In fact, the feast is only referred to in the New Testament implicitly through symbolism. Perhaps the best way to identify symbolic references to this feast is to browse the New Testament scriptures for allusions or references to the blowing of a trumpet or trumpets (See Matthew 24:31; Revelations 11:15-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:51-52).

4. The day of Atonement/Yom Kippur
This feast is the only one that I consider not a "feast" as it is actually a fast. In Acts 27:9, the feast may be alluded to as "the Fast". The symbolism of this feast is mentioned through Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10 (Hebrews 9:6-14,24-28; Hebrews 10:1-3,11-13).

5. Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/Sukkot
Like the fellow fall festivals, Feast of Tabernacles is not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament, except for the references to the observance of these Festivals and events in the life of Jesus. Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast, even though he was risking his life in doing so (John 7:1-14). On the Last Great Day of the feast, Jesus announces the promise for living water for those who are thirsty (John 7:37-39). The symbolism of this feast is also alluded to in Revelations 21:1-6, where God comes from heaven to dwell with human beings and establishes a living stream that quenches the thirst of all the inhabitants living in God's earthly residence.

Concluding points
From these findings, I conclude that

  1. The festivals/feast days were as much a part of the Jewish calendar as they were of the Gentile Christian calendar. Gentiles like Luke use the calendar to mark times and significant events in his account and retelling of the history of the early church and the biography of church leaders and apostles such as Paul.
  2. One feast observance is explicitly commanded, both by Jesus and apparently even by Paul. This one feast explicitly commanded for Christian observance is not tied to the ceremonial laws nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). Passover and Unleavened (Exodus 12) comes before the Sabbath in Exodus 16 and the giving of the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. The very first Passover was kept before a tabernacle or temple was instituted. 
  3. There is no evidence that Jesus commanded the discontinuation of the observance of these festivals or feasts. Rather, the feasts continue to be alluded to throughout the New Testament Scriptures.

I will hopefully in my next blog post thoroughly analyse why Christians should keep the feast of Passover and Unleavened bread.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How I became 7th-day Adventist? Part 2

This post is the continuation of a previous post (or part 2 thereof) that I started way back July 2012. As I ended part 1, I spoke about how I began a university experience that changed my religious and spiritual outlook.

First year at university

The 2000s was a turning point for me spiritually. It was in this period that I arrived at university and felt that Satan was assaulting my intellectual foundation in Christianity. It felt as if there was an intellectual assault on my Christian worldview and outlook, which I did not experience before within in my previous stages of education. For the first time, many of the lecturers and tutors that taught me, seemed to be secular or critical of Christianity. Then many of my fellow university students were the party going types. I met university students who justified the use of curse words and foul language intellectually. I learned of many Christian students who abandoned their faith on campus, some taking on Rastafarian world views, others falling to fornication and parties. I even had a person who seemed to be an overt Satanist in at least one of my classes. To make matters worse, I saw many idols (sculptures) that glorified images of naked bodies and paintings that seemed suggestive of sexual messages. This environment isolated me and made me feel that I was now in the Devil's campus.

So I sought refuge, and went to join the University and College Christian Fellowship (UCCF), the university equivalent of the Christian club that I was part of at my high school. However, unlike high school, for university I had greater options and variety of Christian groups to choose from. However, like the human being that I am, I stuck with what I knew and was used to.

As I attended the first meeting, I felt a sense of smallness, as the group was way bigger than what I was accustomed to in high school. In my first year, though, I at least continued with them, and especially their small group meetings, joining for devotions in the early morning and prayer times when I felt my spiritual reserve was emptying.

While UCCF was my mainstay, I must say that I felt the need to connect with others. I remember signing up for a bible study with Campus Crusade for Christ, though at the first meeting, the person did not show up. At that time I also encountered members of the Kingston Church of Christ. I remember the day I met this tall young fellow who just walked up to me and invited me to church. I was impressed at his boldness and bravery. So I obliged him once by attending the church one Sunday, but more so attended the small student group on campus.


It was a little while before members of UCCF began warning us about cults on campus. Explicitly they mentioned that members of the Kingston Church of Christ were one of those cults who appeared friendly, but were just hiding a deceptive agenda. I was shocked. How could they classify this group of friendly people who were so bold on campus to go up to strangers and invite them to church as a cult? Plus being in small group with them, I could not verify that these persons were up to no good.

This event shook me. Primarily because I too was coming out of a church labelled as a cult (the Worldwide Church of God). As such, I felt the need to seek God for myself and away from organized groups. How could I trust any group? This began my search for "truth" as well as a distrust in organized Christian groups, which continued during my first year.

My second year at university

In my second year, as I moved on campus (closer to the den of iniquity), I connected with Advent Fellowship. At the time, I just did so because I felt that at least we worshipped on the same day. So when I gave my name and contact to the leaders, I did not realise that this move was going to change my life for ever and put me on a path that I was not planning to tread.

I remember going through induction for the hall and telling them that on Friday night, that I did not want to participate, as I wanted to rest for church the next day. The student leader in charge asked me if I was a Sabbath keeper, to which I replied "kind of". The student leader at the time said I could not be on the fence, and that "either you are a Sabbath keeper or not a Sabbath keeper". However, for me it was really complicated. At the time, Worldwide Church of God was no longer observing Sabbath, though the Jamaican congregation still met on Saturday for worship services.

However, I remember, when the President of Advent Fellowship came to my rescue one Friday evening. he asked for me, and the student leaders released me. Then he waited for me to get ready to follow him to Advent Fellowship's first meeting for the term. As we walked to the meeting site, he interviewed me to find out about my spiritual gifts as well as my background. Eventually we arrived, and when the meeting began, I heard singing like I never heard before. This was a talented large group of students, who could really sing. I enjoyed the meeting and from then on, the group became a spiritual oasis for me.

Advent Fellowship also had small group meetings, and I too became involve in that. I hanged out with the ChanSea group (a combination of Chancellor Hall and Mary Searcole Hall). In this small group, the ladies out numbered the men. ChanSea met on Saturday, where we went to church together, had lunch together and studied the quarterly lesson of the SDA church together. Over time, I found that I studied the Bible more and topics about the Sabbath, the law and grace was featured in one of the quarterlies. This began to change my spiritual outlook on the Sabbath.

So far, I have omitted the romantic aspects of my campus life, and the love triangle that developed soon. However, since I do not want to write any names or implicate any of my former girlfriends, I have to keep it brief and just say that over time, I experienced a crises in my relationships that involved two girls. The crises led to depression and made me feel like the world's worst Christian and chief sinner.

Crusade by mistake or by God's design?

One day in the period of my depression, I told my ChanSea friends that I wanted to go to church alone in order to seek God for myself. They respected my wishes and left me to go to church alone that day. As I was on the bus to church, I fell asleep. The public bus passed the usual stop, and as such, I missed my turn. I panicked when I awoke and realised that I was off route. However a calm came over me, and it was like the voice of reason spoke and said there must be an Adventist church else where to go to.

I came off at a particular bus stop, where something was telling me that an Adventist church was located nearby. So I walked in the direction of what I perceived to be the church sign. However, I noticed that I saw some people dressed in church clothes going in the opposite direction. So I stopped them and asked where was the church. I was told that the church would be close today for a crusade, but I could accompany them to the crusade. So I walked with the group to the crusade, in which I was about to hear a sermon that would answer my questionings.

The sermon and altar call
The sermon built upon a principle that was sowed in me by my reading of the literature of Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God. The sermon was about Babylon (man's religion and laws) and God's religion and laws. The preacher asked us to choose which one we would follow. However, in my spirit, I was hearing a different message. I was hearing from God that of course there is deception even within Christianity, but he has given his word the Bible to help me to identify deception and to stay away from those who teach falsehood. Hence, once I study the Bible I would not fall victim to cults.

When the evangelist made the altar call, I wrestled with the question as to whether or not I should go up. I did feel like a sinner, but I knew I was already baptized. Nonetheless, I went up, and as I did, a lady greeted me and asked me if I wanted to be baptized. Thinking that this was God's will, I said yes, but exclaimed that I did not have any change of clothes. She told me that they had some for circumstances like these, and so that same day, I was plunged into the water a second time, with new life and joy.

And this brethren is how I became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church. However, the story does not end here, but is still developing as I write, and some day I hope that a book will emerge on my spiritual autobiography that will continue to tell you the complete story. For God knows where he is taking me, and that baptism or initiation was just part of the journey.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

How I view Christian life?

I have learned so much from being Christian. However, I must admit that not every Christian that I have met has learned the same lessons that I have.

First of all, I have learned that Christianity is very diverse (theologically, doctrinally and even culturally). Being Christian is belonging to a globally diverse group of people who trace their traditions, practices and beliefs to the same source, but yet practice and implement their faith differently. In some instances, we believe different things and come to different conclusions about the same historical text, our same common heritage, history and traditions.

Seeing that we come from such diversity, as a Christian I have been forced to learn to cope with uncertainty and such diversity. This includes learning that it is wrong to force your convictions on others within the faith. You cannot believe that everyone must believe as you do and that everyone ought to see and know what you see and know. Even within the same denominations, I have observed and learned that there are differences of opinions on even the same denominational heritage. As such, in order to maintain unity, a Christian must operate within this diversity and learn to respect the convictions of others, even if one personally disagrees.

In essence, I have learned that I can't force anyone to believe what I do. I can only present my personal convictions to others and let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work of either reproving me for error or correcting my brethren (or sistren).

Hence much of the work of evangelism is personal. We need to study, pray and meditate upon the scriptures, events and even nature to arrive at convictions about what is right and wrong. Then we need to share our convictions, revelations and justifications (or proofs) with others and let them personally decide for themselves whether or not they are also convicted and persuaded as we are.

Hence, I believe Christians must have the freedom to arrive at our own conclusions and share those conclusions with others. However, we must also give others the freedom to disagree without judging dissenters as being hell-bound.

Today, I find myself at the crossroad of being skeptic of dogma, traditions and doctrines, especially if I perceive these as being modern inventions with little historical roots in 1st century Christianity. I am further suspicious of denominational leaders as I know that many have received their theology degrees under the study and supervision of unbelieving Bible scholars. [This is one of the reasons why I do not want to be a pastor, though I feel the calling.]

I consider myself as an explorer within the Christian ideological landscape. I have a map, (a centuries old text written about historical events, peoples and lands). I also have tour guides (translators, pastors and spiritual leaders), who provide annotation and commentary to guide my understanding of the map (unto salvation). However, even with the map and the guides, one still has to uncover for oneself the meaning and understanding of the Christian frontier and find the way that leads to eternal life.

Today, more than ever, I find that Christianity is more about dialogue and conversation than it is about sermons (at least the non-interactive ones). I must have my own personal convictions about Bible "truths", but must also be willing to listen to others and understand how they may see those "truths" differently from me. I must have my own spiritual priorities, but still be willing to accept that other Christians order their spiritual priorities differently. At the end, it about our own convictions and on how God sees our work and faith that matters. Did he give you a particular light that you have refused or rejected? Did he give you a personal instruction or calling that you have not obeyed?

This reminds me of a sermon I once heard from a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist, Pastor Glen Samuels. According to Samuels, Terah, Abraham's father, got God's call to leave Ur for Canaan. On the way, Terah settled in Haran and apparently no longer obeyed the call of God. Eventually, Terah died in the land of Haran and never made it into Canaan. After his death, God then passed on the calling to his son, Abram (Abraham) (See the story in Genesis 11:31-2)

The big questions to ask are:
  • Is there a call on your life that you are rejecting?
  • Are you going to be like Terah and die before you fulfill what God has called you to do?

Sheltered until now

For much of my life, I have been raised in a nurturing environment where I felt that everyone loved me or was looking out for me (except my bully-type peers and childhood nemeses). From my nuclear family unit to my extended family; my church family to the teachers in my Anglican preparatory and high school. (For more on the warm fuzzy feelings I have towards my spiritual background see my previous post on Christian milieu and why people believe? and How I became 7th-day Adventist? Part 1: The Context).

Even when I began my first summer, part-time and full-time jobs, I felt blessed to have bosses and co-workers that seemed supportive of me. I have never felt what it was like to work in an environment hostile towards me, where I have to be watching out for my own interests and insuring myself against the possibility that I may make a mistake that will be catastrophic for my career or future opportunities.

It is only since I have been here in Canada, that I realise that my current reality and future reality is the not the same as before. My eyes are no open to a reality that I had never seen before. I now recognise how sheltered I have been. I now see a global climate (political, social and economic) that is potentially hostile towards me, in which I now must tread with caution. This brings these words of Jesus to mind:

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10: 16, New International Version)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The quest for quality video games with a Biblical narrative

I am not a serious gamer. The only two games that I really play are Scrabble and Chess. These are the only two games that I play online (sometimes). Due to a very busy life and schedule, I have little time for games.

Nonetheless, I was recently reading about video games and education from Prensky (2006), the author of Don't bother me mom-I'm learning! I have also been reading a number of other arguments for children playing video games (Franceschin et al., 2013; Olson, 2010; Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee, 2004). This reading got me thinking that video games are the new media for thinking and working. Many video games are based on narratives and stories (Laurel, 2001). In fact, I agree with the readings that it is possible that a child could learn complex concepts from engaging with the media and in particular the rich narrative that the media can tell.

So I thought that I would take the challenge of looking up video games based on Biblical-narrative to see if per chance I could discover any such game that I would not feel guilty as a parent letting my children play. After all, a video game based on a Biblical narrative would help them think about God's word in a new way and a new medium.

My first search lead to not so encouraging results. The first article I discovered made it clear that Bible narrative based video games have been critiqued for being of poor quality. Brown (2007) in an article critiquing Bible-themed video games states that "devout fundamentalists often make incredibly bad game designers".

I was further discouraged by the video games that I did retrieve, which seemed to have the potential to teach my children erroneous doctrine, like the example of the Left behind game, which is based on the distorted doctrine of the secret rapture (I really need to blog about that another time). Another such Bible narrative-based video game is the game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which unfortunately makes Lucifer into a good guy (Flagged by me for deception. Lucifer is not virtuous guy, or at least he's not a virtuous character today).

Later on, while reading Prensky (2006), I discovered that there is a Christian Game Developers Conference. But from the look of their website, I don't think I want to see their games: http://cgdc.org/. I do appreciate though their motivation to use the medium for God's glory.

Eventually, I decided to enlarge my search to finding a Jewish Bible game. (Jews seem to be the masters at tell good stories and narratives). I came across this guy, Alex, who suggests that Bible narrative could make good games, especially seeing that there are a lot of wars in the Bible (Alex, 2010). I totally agreed with Alex on his last point that doing a David versus Goliath game would really be cool: "Give the player a slingshot and have him go to town. It’d be awesome."

On making better games with a Biblical narrative, I just want to suggest that the problem with Bible games is that we cannot make just Bible quiz games that drill in people facts, but we need to use Bible narrative to get players to negotiate and experience the conflicts of the Bible and Bible characters. So in all seriousness, we need more Biblical narrative role-playing games. Too bad my drawing and programming skills aren't so good for me to participate in bringing such games into being.


Alex (2010, Jan 3). The quest for the Jewish videogame. Hipster Jew [blog post]. Retrieved from http://hipsterjew.com/jewish-videogames/

Brown, S. (2007, Nov 18). PrayStation: The 6 most misguided Christian video games. CRACKED. Retrieved from

Franceschini S., Gori S., Ruffino, M., Viola S., Massimo M, Facoetti A. (2013). Action video games make dyslexic children read better. Current Biology, 23(6): 462 - 466.

Laurel, B. (2001). Utopian entrepreneur. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Olson, C. (2010). Children's motivations for video game play in the context of normal development. Review of General Psychology, 14 (2): 180-187.

Shaffer D.W., Squire K.R., Halverson R. & Gee J.P. (2004). Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan 87, (2): 105-111. Retrieved from http://www.academiccolab.org/resources/gappspaper1.pdf

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interpreting Habakkuk chapter 2

Being troubled about events in the world (especially concerns about the future of freedom of conscience and the safety of myself and family), I turned to God and the Bible for answers. The Spirit told me to read Habakkuk chapter 2. And so I did. In fact, I read twice. In the morning and again at night.

The opening stanzas where Habakkuk states that he would stand on his watch and watch to see what the LORD would say to him (verse 1).  Further, Habakkuk was "watching" to learn from God what to answer people if he was reproved. His situation feel so much like what I feel that I am undergoing now in a world that is becoming increasingly anti-Bible (and anti-Biblical Judeo-Christianity). I wonder what I will say if people ask me about my beliefs which might be labelled as "Biblical fundamentalism". And I am beginning to seek how to live in the new world that I find myself in.

However, in verses 2 and 3, the LORD answers Habakkuk saying he must:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry."
New King James Version (NKJV)

What way to better write the vision so that it can be read on tablets than on a blog (mark you, my King James version uses tables instead of tablets). And such, I write to you my inspired interpretation of Habakkuk 2, based on what the LORD has impressed upon me.

I know that there are Biblical scholars that argue that the Old Testament was never written to us in the future. There are those voices that suggest that the Bible was written about the past, but not for our present or our future. However, to those views. I disagree. I believe God gave the prophets including Daniel and Habakkuk visions of the future, which they try to express in their own language and symbolism (which does not communicate the full force of what they saw). Further, the myriad of translations into languages that the common man can understand have further made the visions seem alien to the modern man.  So I am of the view that the Bible is never wrong, but it is only man's interpretation and translation that is way off.

As such, going back to Habakkuk, I believe his message is speaking directly to a future reality that is currently being designed and created. In essence, all of chapter 2 speaks of this man or being that:

  • transgresses by wine
  • is a proud, but not upright
  • is not content to stay in his home, but wanders out to make trouble
  • has this thirst for power
  • gathers nations and peoples unto himself
  • increases what is not his

Habakkuk however warns that people will eventually revolt and rebel against the being/man. Habakkuk speaks specifically that a remnant or remainder of the people that survive some calamity will turn against the being, because of the violence, blood shed and death of many.

Habakkuk mentions also that this being desires to secure his life from destruction (man-made or natural). Habakkuk states in verses 9-10:
“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
That he may set his nest on high,
That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

You give shameful counsel to your house,
Cutting off many peoples,
And sin against your soul.

I am not sure if this being seeks to create a secret hideout on a mountain or a skyscraper (considering 9-11, the being may not want to build a skyscraper for protection against disaster). But what is clear, is that whatever the being/man creates for his own and his family's security involves the destruction of the lives of many others. The being is further accused of building a city and town through depopulating the earth.

Habakkuk also mentions two more faults of this being/man:

  1. that the being gives neighbours wine to drink to make them drunk that he can get sexual satisfaction by watching them naked (and perhaps performing gross sexual misdeeds or voyeurism)
  2. that the being makes a grave image and appoints it as a spiritual teacher or rabbi. As King James Version puts it:

18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

For the latter point, I put it to you, what if the graven image is not just a dolly made of metal, stone and wood? What if the graven, molten image with wood and stone was a robot? Afterall, computers are made of plastic (mould/molten image), metal, stone (minerals like silicon) and a mother/circuit board (made of wood). This robot, the work of man's hands is then considered to be wise, and full of wisdom, yet it has no soul. Yet this being/man proclaims this robot to be a spiritual guru to provide moral instruction for humanity and be a faultless and wise spiritual leader or rabbi?

As such, I take not this word lightly, but write it as plain on this blog, that someone with a tablet or even an electronic table computing device, may read this in the future and run in shock as they see the very same thing being coming to pass in their lifetime. Could it be that you might be a witness to these words coming to pass?

This is the end of the interpretation of Habakkuk 2, that I have written under inspiration. May you take heed and make you soul secure by faith in the LORD, for as the word of the LORD says: "the just shall live by faith".

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What to do when your religion becomes outlawed?

Recent events in the world have made me realise how quickly Bible believing people are becoming minorities. The legislation in traditionally Christian countries are gradually sanctioning and permitting societal phenomena that are anti-Biblical principles (see a previous post on the subject). It is at this state, we need to prepare ourselves for the new world order in which Christians and Jews that uphold traditional Biblical interpretations and principles may find themselves the minorities that are targeted by law. As such, we need to ask ourselves the question, "What do we do when and if our religion becomes outlawed in states and nations that were one built by Judeo-Christian minded founders and leaders?"

For the answer to this question, I find no need for us to look back at church history or traditions, except the Jewish Bible. There are two stories in question. One reflected by the story of Daniel in the lions' den and the other by queen Esther, (both of which found themselves faced with this dilemma in the land of Persia).

Consider this, both candidates had their nation dismantled and completely changed by the ruling authorities who instituted and permitted religion and other practices that were contrary to their beliefs. However, their responses to their situations are instructive, as they did not act to change the laws that gave people the right to do what was wrong according to their beliefs. Rather, they continued their traditions and even service to the authorities (for Daniel it was the service of public administration, while for Esther, it was marital sex work being a good wife).

In the case of Daniel, even though he recognised that praying was outlawed in Persia, he did not decide to hide when practicing his religious tradition of praying. Instead, he still persisted in his public prayer tradition, doing what he always did to worship and serve God.

For Esther, the queen practiced her religion quietly and perhaps even secretly, not letting the king know her religious beliefs, even though she was his wife. She only made it public after fasting and prayer, when the king made a law that affected her and all her people that practiced her religion. Only then did she make public her religious background and how the new laws negatively affected her and the other people who practiced her religion. In other words (for the feminists among us), here we see a woman making political representation for minorities.

From both stories, we can learn the following principles:
  1. Represent our religion to the authorities. We should at all times make the authorities aware of our religion and religious practices, so that they are less likely to pass laws that negatively affect our religious and spiritual practices or activities.
  2. Continue the practice of our faith. If the authorities still outlaw our religious practices and activities, even after being aware of our beliefs, traditions and practices, then we continue to publicly or privately practice them until we are prosecuted.
  3. Present our convictions for the final time and prepare to face the outcome. When and if prosecuted, we make our final attempt to present our case before the authorities. It is those times, when we should pray and fast so that we can present our convictions about our beliefs and practices to the authorities in the power of God and his anointing. Then we let God decide whether or not to get the authorities to change the laws and make provisions or allowances for us. If not, then we need to stand in our conviction and in the power of God , ready to face the punishments that the law prescribes for practicing our religion and spirituality.
So, prepare yourself for the times and don't get caught up in false doctrines or let world events change your religion. Rather, remember Daniel and Esther, and keep the ancient faith even in the new world order. God bless you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How my theology is being challenged in Canada

The Lord is surely dealing with my worldview here in Canada, exposing me to radical rebuke and corrections through my circumstances, experiences and readings. More than any sermon, my lived experiences are pointing out flaws in my understanding of Scripture and the applications to real life. In this post, I just want to share how some of my theology and theological views are undergoing "reformation".

For the Sabbath of May 25, 2013, I listened keenly to a discussion on the practice of Adventism by Africans and Caribbean folk/nationals. It was noted that while both groups shunned jewellery and make-up wearing (to a greater extent than North American Adventists), both Caribbean and Africans emphasize fancy dress, attire, hats, accessories and even cars. One of the persons speaking made mention that where she comes from, "Adventists are known by how they dress".

Yet, in my own experience, the ideas apply not only to Adventists, but to most Christian denominations that I am acquainted with. Most Christian denominations that I have fellowshipped with put some amount of pride in the material things and/or outward appearance. Make-up, jewellery, accessories, fancy dress/attire, and fancy hairstyles are more or less a feature of every institutionalised Christian denomination that I have visited. These are in contrast to the Biblical admonition given by Apostle Peter to women:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, (1 Peter 3:3-5; New International Version)

Here is my simple rule for modest dress: if you do not need it, do not wear it! You only need clothing that is functional, that covers your body parts and do not reveal too much to others.

Yet, most of the assault on my theology comes from this book by Bruno Dyck entitled Management and the gospel: Luke's radical message for the first and twenty-first centuries:

Dyck does a critical inquiry into management and the dominant viewpoints on the teachings of Jesus in Luke. His radical interpretations have revealed to me how Christians today have not rightly interpreted the practice of Christianity as taught by Jesus. My take home points from the book so far are:

  1. Christians must not practice acquisitive economics (seeking to increase our money and wealth), but rather, we should practice redistributive economics (sharing wealth with others). For example, a Christian must not have money put down in the bank to earn interest. Instead, we must redistribute the money that we do not have immediate need for to help those who have immediate needs to be addressed.
  2. We must challenge the social economic order of the day that allows individuals to heap riches upon riches, through making debtors of others. We must also challenge income inequality and the situation where there are those that have more than they need and still hoard resources, while ignoring to help others who have dire immediate needs.

If there is one thing that I most value about Canadian culture is this tendency to live by those two principles, whereas my own Jamaican culture tend to justify inequality and not sharing wealth. Yet, I find that Christianity as practiced today by multitudes, tend to do the same: buy and wear things that they do not need, adorn their facilities and institutions with things that are unnecessary, and ignore the needs of members within who really need help. May God make these lessons stick with me and you for the future and make us like his son Jesus, to challenge the establishment and also to make the personal adjustment in our thoughts and attitudes.


Dyck, B. (2013). Management and the gospel: Luke's radical message for the first and twenty-first centuries. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Commissioned to blog spiritual stories

If you have been following up on my blog posts for a while, you would realise that I have begun to incorporate fictional storytelling. In earlier posts (see http://mses-soul.blogspot.ca/2013/04/a-change-of-direction-on-my-spiritual.html and http://mses-soul.blogspot.ca/2012/09/the-parable-of-zoo.html), I have justified the approach. In this post, I would like to provide an update unto the direction to be taken with this blog as it relates to storytelling.

Just to report, that on May 18, 2013, I had a dream in which kind of reminded me of the Silver Surfer in the movie of Fantastic Four. In this dream, there was a man-like being literally running for world domination. He was running through the earth, and everywhere he ran, the path behind him experienced earthquakes, with bridges and buildings falling down and the work of human engineers being destroyed.

When I awoke, I pondered the meaning of the dream, and it was as if the L-RD subtly spoke to me that I have been commissioned to blog (or write) what I call "apocalyptic" stories that would warn readers about the coming destruction and destructive forces to be unleashed on earth. It further dropped into my spirit that in the times of censorship, the Christian prophet, John (attributed as the author of the book of Revelation), wrote his book in apocalyptic imagery.

This revelation has been the first one that I have received this year since my birthday, and also at the beginning of the season of Pentecost, which is the anniversary when the Holy Spirit was poured out to the apostles. Further this commission is in agreement with earlier revelation that my missionary purpose is to be a literature evangelist publishing tidings or news information in spiritual perspective. As such, I have no doubts about this new commission. There are however some questions remaining as to whether I need to establish a new blog to signify the change in direction or purpose and maintain this one to deal with sermons and conversations about spirituality and theological topics. I have however, started this other blog titled Apocalyptic Blogger to blog about those stories for which I have received the new commission for. Feel free to check out this other blog, for which I will go out of my comfort zone to work on images and graphics to help illustrate the stories.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost reflection: Issues about unity and disunity

I wrote the following sometime ago. Nevertheless, I read it today and still think it is relevant, especially as today is being celebrated as Pentecost by the Jews.

It is the season of Pentecost, and as such I pause to reflect and celebrate in my spirit and my mind the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early church. Rather than joy though I feel sadness for the state of churches today and even my own state of being on the fringes or sidelines.

A friend once asked me a question:

Question: What factors should decide what church you go to? Should it be that they have assembly on Sabbath or does the other beliefs they have matter as well?

My Answer:
For me, no church body is perfect. It matters not which fellowship I attend (as long as they hold Jesus as Messiah to be the core of the gospel). My beliefs will not be changed by the congregation that I attend, unless G-d convicts me otherwise.

I am basically a loner now when it comes to spiritual matters. My religious faith is patchwork. A piece of this group, plus a piece of another group.

I have no zeal for any church organisation now. I am weary of "organised" religious groups. I just want fellowship and outreach mission work with a fellowship.

I still go to church because it is commanded and despite the fact that these church organisations are not perfect, G-d still have to use them as his sole agent for preserving the elements of truth. Plus, I can always learn from the reading or hearing of the scriptures. You never know what scripture shall be read at any church setting. Scripture reading is the only thing that preserves truth.

Question: My friend then asked: God commands "sacred assembly"; what sort of assembly would count as not "sacred" for Sabbath? What decides that?

Answer: To which I replied, Sacred assembly does not mean church as we know it today. It is a gathering of people to hear the word of G-d so that they can learn G-d's purpose for them and be able to do and fulfill his will.

I know where I differ from many Sabbatarian groups and other non-Sabbatarian Christian groups. I am a Protestant, to say the least, waiting for the continuity of the reformation, knowing that truth and the reformation is progressive and does not stop. So there is no package of truth that is it, and nothing more. As long as the move is back to the biblical and religious heritage of the entire Bible.

Part of my difficulty in sharing my beliefs is the fact that my doctrines are not set in stone. I am open to hearing alternative perspectives and considering it, if a clear Bible logic is seen. There are many areas of uncertainty in my own faith.

For instance, I know I am suspicious of Trinity, but I am not convinced about Oneness, and still not certain about a Binity. The stuff I'm not sure of, I don't even speak about them much.

I am growing, and tomorrow, I may find that what I believe is false, and I'd just move on. So I am not going to say that I have the truth and that others need to see what I see. Most Sabbath groups are like that.

I believe that people must walk according to the conviction that they have.

For me, Amstrong groups like United Church of God (UCG) have a wrong outlook on current prophetic events, coming from the error that Britain and America are part of Israel. To me, that is error that is not yet corrected. It is based on speculation. I would rather believe the conspiracy theorists about the global financial bankers that influencing the world politically; I can't preach Amstrong's prophetic understanding.

Yet a prophetic gift/spirit is the mark of the last day remnant, and without preaching prophecy, you are only preaching part of the Bible. However even the use of the term remnant is questionable, as it may pertain to Jews who believe in Jesus/Yeshua/Yahshuah and not to Christians.

For SDAs with Ellen G. White, her beliefs came at a time when Israel did not even exist as a state. Thus she too made an error in substituting the Church for Israel. So SDA's prophetic outlook is also dubious.

I believe that to be the true remnant of G-d, you got to have correct understanding of prophetic events and history. The Jews were good at keeping their genealogy. So must we as redeemed Gentiles, ensure that we know the roots of our faith and can use the scriptures as a compass to show us where the world is headed.

They (the Jews) understand their roots. Genealogy for me means the study of one's ancestors. Jews know where they are coming from. They know their history. Genealogy was so important, that in the Bible, it is recorded. Which shows me that we as the redeemed Gentiles must also be able to trace our historical roots - the roots of Christianity. For Christianity, was not originally intended to be a separate religion from Judaism. Gentile Christians are to be grafted into the Jewish olive tree (Read Romans 11 for more on this subject). We are to become one (Jew and Gentile) (Galations 3:28).

When Jesus said other sheep I have (John 10:16), he was talking to Jews. He wanted to extend the access to G-d and the purpose of G-d to people outside of the circumcision. G-d told Abraham through his seed - JESUS - the entire world would be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Making the church or "sanctuary" family-friendly Part 2

In my previous post, I have highlighted a problematic situation that I see in some churches. So now, let me not just stop there, but offer a creative solution. To do this, I tell an alternative story:

Jane approaches church with her 3 children. The usher asks: "do you need help? We have a program where our teens and young adults assist parents with their children during services".

Jane declines the offer, and the usher replies "Let us know if you change your mind, and I will alert someone to come to your aid."

Jane enters the main hall (or pews) and members smile at her and the children, even waving. As she sits a teenage girl comes up to her and whispers: "Can I sit with you in case you need someone to watch the baby or take one of your children to the restroom?"

Jane smiles and says "Thanks. That's very thoughtful of you."

The 2 year old after half an hour, begins to protest that she is hungry. The teen asks "Is it okay for me to take her to our snack bar?" Jane hesitates, then replies: "Okay, what do you have there?"

The teen replies "we don't give sweets, only healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, yogurt, vegetables. If your child has a nut allergy, we can just stick to fruits and veggies. We have things there like baby carrots, grapes, sliced apples and raisins."

"Sure, go ahead" says Jane. The 2 year old however does not want to leave without her mom. The teenage girl in assessing the situation says "That's okay. I will get the snack and take it back to you. Do you want a baby carrot?"  The 2 year old nods, and the teen goes off and returns with 2 carrots.

Within 2 minutes, the 5 year old requests to use the rest room. The teen offers to watch the months old baby, while Jane goes off to the rest room with both her children. When Jane returns, the sermon is about to begin. The pastor's booming voice startles the baby who begins to cry. The pastor recognises this and pauses his sermon to say: "I am sorry little baby. Did I scare you?" He then addresses the congregation "we pastors sometime forget that when we are preaching, our voices terribly disrupts the silence and startles babies".

Pastor continues the sermon, while Jane hushes the baby and eventually breastfeeds the baby with a shawl covering baby and mom's bosom. People around smile and no one stares or even dares to say: "You can't breastfeed in here. Go use the mother's room!"

Making the church or "sanctuary" family-friendly Part 1

This post is not to implicate any particular church or denomination. Nevertheless, based on experiences, I want to take to this blog to indicate a problem that I recognise in churches (especially Sabbatarian congregations) where young families can feel some what out of place in church "worship services".

I must begin, that I've always considered the church a family friendly place, having great memories of the church that my parents raised me in. It is only since I have left home and my home church and ventured else  where with a young family of my own, that I have realised that not all churches are young family friendly. At least the way that my Caribbean and North American church institutionalised cultures practice church. To illustrate, let me give you a fictional story based on lived experience.

Jane, a single mom, takes her 3 young children to church. One's 5, the other 2 and the other months old. On entry, the usher or greeter, points out "We have a mother;s room, down the hall on your right." Jane politely says thanks, but in her mind she thinks:

Why have I come so far from home, travelled to church via bus, spent bus fare to sit detained in a room just to watch the service from a TV screen? I could stay home and do that!
She goes into the main hall. After half an hour, her 2 year old starts to complain about hunger. The 5 year old at the same time wants to use the rest room. So Jane takes all three to the restroom where she supervises the 5 year old and insists that her 2 year old keeps quiet about being hungry as she played around the breakfast table and did not eat all her breakfast. Jane thinks to herself:

The service is short. It will perhaps be over in another hour. I can put up with this for 1 more hour. Plus, I definitely want to hear what God has to say to me.

She returns to the service and fortunately retains her seat. It is one of those days when church is not so crowded and well attended. As she sits, her 2 year old throws a tantrum, resisting mommy's command to wait until after service for a snack. The 5 year old, who previously passed the mother's room and say kids his age playing with cool toys, asks his mom if he can go play in the room.

Jane thinks to herself:

What's the point of bringing my children to church, if they are just going to sit in a room full of toys and not see by example how they ought to behave in church.
The person sitting beside her leans over to say "We have a mother's room, you know!" Another sitting behind her leans forward and says "Shh, I can't hear what's going on!"

The sermon begins and the pastor begins with a loud proclamation: "God is good!" At this the months old baby awakens, startled by the booming voice. Then the baby begins to cry. Frustrated, Jane takes her bundles and children and leaves the church altogether, crying baby, hungry 2 year old and disappointed 5 year old.

And this is just one of many stories. I haven't even told you about the Far-U-See that criticises when mom places a sweet into s hungry child's mouth to keep them quiet. Instead, the Far-U-See says "You are not supposed to eat in the sanctuary!"

So the place which ought to be a dwelling place for God's people, where it is Okay to eat communion bread and grape juice (if not wine), is not the place for food to be consumed by hungry children, even if it is just a grape sweet?

Then there is the Sad-U-See, who can't seem to concentrate if a baby is happily screaming or laughing during the church service. The joy and energy in the room are so distracting, that the Sad-U-See has to lean over to say "Why don't you use the mother's room?" Of course this is a rhetorical question. Further, when I go to the library, I see the sign about what is permitted and not permitted in the library space. I obviously did not see sign that says "No laughing, running or playing by children in the sanctuary!" I will look for it the next time I go.

Last time I checked, the Holy temple in Jerusalem was desecrated. I also thought that Christian theology taught that the new holiness is not in buildings but human bodies. I also thought that the church is not a building, but a community. It is the people or community who are holy and dedicated to worship. I further thought that we only need a room or space to gather at a particular time in order to"not forsake the assembly of the brethren" (Hebrews 10:25).

The same problem persisted in the beginning days when the church was yet to be organised. Jesus who had open door services had to contend with his disciples not wanting noisy children and their nursing mothers (who would be ritually clean, not having their period) around when Jesus was teaching (Matthew 19:13). They must have said: "the noisy bunch will distract us from the teachings and message".  Yet contrast Jesus' teaching that states:

"And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me" (Matthew 18:5; New Living Translation (©2007))
In my next follow-up post, part of the proposed solution!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Comic books and the gospel

On Saturday May 4, 2013, on my way to church, I saw the longest line that I have ever seen in Canada. It was a line that started at the comic bookstore and went all the way down to the end of the street, turning the corner unto another street. My wife commented "it is as if they are lining up for an important document". Unknown to her, but not to me, it was Free Comic Book day. Even still, it was surprising to see so many persons lined up in the sun, waiting to receive a free copy of a comic book! Some were even in costumes! Nevertheless, it tells of the human's fascination with heroes and villains and such narratives.

In my consumption of spiritual perspectives on comic books and superheroes, I have come across the view that states that comic book heroes are simply replacement gods. This view is thus articulated in the following paragraph:
Every culture since the dawn of time has told fantastical tales of heroes that have saved humanity from some unspeakable evil. The effect these mythological tales had on humanity when the true Savior Jesus Christ arrived on Earth was devastating, many didn’t recognize Him because they were seeking a much different hero. Did the Devil blind us from Christ’s first coming by flooding the world with counterfeits of God’s prophesies? Since Super Heroes in comics are based on classical myths, is the Devil blinding us again from the greatest supernatural event the world will ever witness, Christ’s second coming?
 Alternately, I have also read another spiritual perspective that suggests that
While [superheroes] themselves might not always speaks  outwardly about religion and the Gospel, their storylines make implicit, and sometimes explicit, points about theology. In this way the superhero myths direct readers toward the interface between popular culture and religious ideas... (Oropeza, 2005 p. 4)
Considering this, my perspective on the matter is simply that as Christians, while we may not share the beliefs and mythology as presented in comic books, we must recognise that comic books sometimes base their storylines on Biblical imagery (such as apocalyptic battles) and are the stories that the current generation and age are well versed in. It is important then for us to study to show ourselves approve, knowing the storylines and the way that comic books take Biblical ideas and imagery and twist them or use them to rewrite the theology of our everlasting gospel. But most importantly, we must be conversant in these stories to be able to engage the culture and share our gospel with them. I look at how Apostle Paul was able to engage the Hellenic or Greek community, because he was cognisant of their mythological views.

This does not mean that we must arduously consume comics. None theless, at least knowing the narratives and storytlines from Wikipedia or encyclopedias should be sufficient to give us some level of acquaintance with the narratives in order for ur to be able to identify similarities and differences between comic narratives and the Bible narrative.


Oropeza, B.J. (Ed.). (2005). The gospel according to superheroes: Religion and pop culture. New York : Peter Lang.

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