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 and, 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.

See the video below: