Month: November 2015

Polygamy

Society has successfully rewritten the definition of marriage.   The sacred nuptials have been changed from one man and one woman to include one man and one man and one woman and one woman.  Although American society has approved this, many churches and other cultures have not.

Whether we approve of the change or not, we need to admit that the train has left the station and we need to deal with it.  The question now is what other cars were attached to the train.  Is polygamy the next car to hook on?

Society is currently shouting “No!” but why?  Once society rewrites a moral code (based on popular opinion) what is stopping it from changing another?  There is no moral basis for the change to include homosexual marriage other than “acceptance of lifestyle preference”.   When the numbers stand up for “acceptance” with multiple partners what will society say then?  “No, we accept this change but not that one.”  In other words – you can’t have it both ways.  If a moral law is going to change without a solid reason then any moral law can be changed in the same way.

There are plenty of arguments for polygamy from both men and women.  Society is still closing its eyes to them but what if . . . ?  What pressure will be needed?  What popular Hollywood types will be needed to push it?  What liberal politician will need to be elected?

Remember that the train has left the station and I believe there may be room for more cars.  Who will society turn to stop it?

Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

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A Heart for God

I wrote this four years ago.  I forgot about this experience until reading it again.  I hope you enjoy it again too.

Last night I was traveling home from Houston to Philly on a late night Southwest flight. I pulled a pretty high number for seating and I was afraid that I was going to get a middle seat in the back of the plane. It turns out that I sat in the first row (with extra leg room YAY) at the window next to a woman with her daughter. Our conversation somehow evolved into world religions and without being mean, this lady had less than a first grade education on the subject. After finding out that I was raised Mennonite, she wanted to continue talking about “Messonites”. I tried to correct her but she continued on her discussion of Messonites and what that means. She didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept and I didn’t want to get into a heated discussion.

You might think that I wasn’t impressed by this person but I was. She was traveling with a 20 year old daughter in a wheel chair. The daughter is paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident at the age of 16. They were traveling to Philadelphia to be a part of a medical study on exoskeletons. She went on to describe the procedure and showed me video clips of a prior fitting. Very interesting stuff. So interesting that I went home and Googled it at 3 a.m. to learn more about it. This mother and daughter are very close – it was obvious. They were affectionate and caring and clearly have a close relationship.

For what this mother lacks in knowledge of world religion, she definitely has a big heart for her daughter. That’s what I came to appreciate about her. That’s what God wants to appreciate about us. We don’t need to be a seminary scholar – we just need to have a heart for HIM. I’m sure He will celebrate Thanksgiving if we can do that. It’s not by outer appearance or by great things that we do but whether we love God with our whole hearts.

(Acts 13:22 NIV) After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

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No Thanks, No Giving

There is so much talk today of “offensive” speech.  Everyday we are told we can no longer say or do something because it offends someone.  Redskins, All lives matter, Americans, Muslims, Indians, Gay, Homosexual, Transgender, the list goes on.

What is offensive?  Who defines it?  Is it wrong to offend when we don’t even know who we are offending?  When I was growing up “black” people were called “Colored”, then it changed to “Negro”, then to “Black”, then to “African American”.  I don’t like the last term because I know people who are white and “African American”.  I don’t think it is an accurate term.  I also have friends from the Caribbean and they don’t want to be called “African American” because they are Caribbean American.

I guess “offense” changes with time, education, awareness and society.  In the 70’s I was in a youth group/church that held “slave auctions” to raise money for the youth group.  Adults would bid on a particular youth to get work done around the house, babysitting, or wax a car.  It was a fun event and there was anticipation to be a high bidder.  It was meant to be a fun activity and no offense was meant but can you imagine if a group did that in today’s world?  Would we have done it if there were any black families in our church?

On the day after Thanksgiving, there is news to another offense.   “Thanksgiving” has always been safe in the offending camp – it’s not religious  and everyone is happy to be thankful.  But everyone isn’t happy.  Below is a speech written by a Native American about Thanksgiving.

Is Thanksgiving safe?  Is it offensive?

Ezekiel 36:24 (NIV)

24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 

 

Suppressed Thanksgiving Speech, Wamsutta F. James

Suppressed Thanksgiving Speech, Wamsutta F. James (1970)Suppressed Thanksgiving Speech, Wamsutta F. James (1970)

 

Suppressed Thanksgiving Speech Of Wampanoag Wamsutta (Frank B.) James (1924 – 2001). This is the Suppressed speech of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, Wampanoag. that was to be delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970. The Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

 

Three hundred fifty years after the Pilgrims began their invasion of the land of the Wampanoag, their “American” descendants planned an anniversary celebration. Still clinging to the white schoolbook myth of friendly relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag, the anniversary planners thought it would be nice to have an Indian make an appreciative and complimentary speech at their state dinner. Frank James was asked to speak at the celebration. He accepted. The planners, however , asked to see his speech in advance of the occasion, and it turned out that Frank James’ views — based on history rather than mythology — were not what the Pilgrims’ descendants wanted to hear. Frank James refused to deliver a speech written by a public relations person.
Frank James did not speak at the anniversary celebration. If he had spoken, this is what he would have said:

“Information Clearinghouse” — I speak to you as a man — a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction (“You must succeed – your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!”). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first – but we are termed “good citizens.” Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you – celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises – and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called “savages.” Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other “witch.”

And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the “savage” and convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great epidemic again.

The white man used the Indian’s nautical skills and abilities. They let him be only a seaman — but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man’s society, we Indians have been termed “low man on the totem pole.”

Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives – some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man’s way for their own survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic reasons.

What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as “civilized” people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags’] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.

History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.

The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his “savageness” has boomeranged and isn’t a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian’s temperament!

High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!

Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.

You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We’re being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours.

~Wamsutta, September 10, 1970

http://iloveancestry.com/memories/20st-century/item/278-thanksgiving-suppressed-speech-of-wampanoag-wamsutta-frank-james-1970

World War 3

There is talk that we are entering WW3 with the Russians getting involved in Syria.  Some even say that it has already started.

Very few of us were not around to remember the build up to WW2 and no one is old enough to remember the beginning of WW1.   We have only read about the political climate and what happened during those years.

A world war reminds me of becoming a man – one day I knew I was a man but I’m not sure when the transition happened.  One day we have a civil war in Syria.  One day we are battling ISIS.  One day the Russians are involved.  One day the French are involved.  One day Turkey shoots down a Russian plane.  One day we are in WW3.

A world war is defined as: A war involving many large nations in all different parts of the world. The name is commonly given to the wars of 1914–18 and 1939–45, although only the second of these was truly global.

We live in dangerous times.  There is so much tension with little compromise on any of the issues.  Should we live in fear or faith?  Should we have hope or are we being naive?

Where do you put your trust?

Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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Where are your gifts?

Every time we visit an orphanage we take gifts for the children.  Soccer balls, cars, dolls, etc.  The children love them and run off to play.  The next time we go to visit, NONE of those toys can be found.  We ask “what happened to the toys that we brought?”

Some of the answers are: They broke, they were stolen, they are lost, they got kicked over the wall, the orphanage workers took them for their own children.   I think it is nearly impossible to keep toys in an orphanage.

Where are the gifts that God gave you?  Are they broken?  Were they stolen or lost?  Did you use them so hard that they were kicked out of your life – lost forever?

God has blessed you with so many gifts and yet you act like you don’t have any.  Prophets come to your church and you ask for more wisdom and gifts.  Maybe those prophets should ask what you are doing with the ones you already have.

Take a look around your house and see what is hiding.  You may be surprised at what God has already given you.

1 Corinthians 12:27-29  (NIV)

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

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*On this trip to Guatemala, I bought Isaiah new Nike sneakers because his were duct taped together!  I never saw those shoes again and he didn’t remember what happened to them!  He did wear out shoes fast!

Remember to give thanks

A couple thoughts for this week of Thanksgiving:

The “pilgrims” left Europe in 1620 – not for adventure but because they were suffering religious persecution.

The trip across the ocean was treacherous, taking 66 days.

After reaching the wrong landing area, the pilgrims basically lived on the ship all winter.  Half of the 102 passengers died from freezing and sickness.

Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims get established had suffered through kidnapping and slavery.

Jump ahead 168 years – George Washington declared a Thanksgiving proclamation following the years of battle for independence.

In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians.

President Lincoln finally made it an official holiday in 1863 in the middle of the horrible, bloody civil war.

Are you struggling this week?  Are you struggling to say “Thank you”?  You’re not alone.  Many others have suffered and struggled and yet have found Thanksgiving.   I hope that God gives you strength and grace on this special week.

Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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Guns and Church pt 5

Take a look around you – in church, school, work, at the mall, on the street, in your neighborhood.

Who do you want carrying guns?  Take a look.  Which of the people around you do you trust with a loaded gun on their belt or in their purse?  Do you trust them?  Are they trained?  Do they have the wisdom and experience to be carrying a loaded weapon for their “defense” or “defense of others”?

If an armed man walked into your area, do you or that other person have the training and experience to handle their weapon or will you cause more harm to everyone in most situations?  Will you or they be too quick to pull their gun out when the situation could have been diffused in a better way?

If you think I am being harsh on guns – I’m not.  I am thinking through the issue.  You may think everyone carrying a gun is a clear headed, mature, self disciplined, not to mention, trained individual.  But what about that creepy guy – you know the one who isn’t quite stable?  You know who I mean.  The one who gets violent at times.  The one who can’t keep it together.  What if he is carrying a gun?

You see, if we open the doors for everyone to carry a gun; everyone may really carry a gun.  Even those who really shouldn’t be carrying guns.

Take a look around.  Who is carrying and who is not?  Who do you want carrying and who shouldn’t be?

…..men ready for military service—able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle.
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Disagreements

What will we disagree on this week?

What will drive us to hate?

What arguments will be on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites?

Will it be new or a reborn issue from weeks or months ago?

Will anything be solved by our bickering?

Will anyone be healed?

Will anything improve?

Who will die and be mourned?  Who will die and be forgotten?

Will we find peace?

Will we find joy?

Will we find God through all the noise and distractions?

How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?

 

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Sing for Joy

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

We have so much to be thankful for.  We have so much to be joyful about.  The Lord is our salvation.  He alone is worthy of praise.

Raise your hands today and sing Hallelujah to our Lord!

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