Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day begun by slaves

May 25, 2009  BY BRIAN HICKS, THE POST AND COURIER (Charleston, South Carolina)Charleston was in ruins.
The peninsula was nearly deserted, the fine houses empty, the streets littered with the debris of fighting and the ash of fires that had burned out weeks before. The Southern gentility was long gone, their cause lost.
In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, “a city of the dead.”
On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.
For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral.
The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing “John Brown’s Body.”
Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later —picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.
On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day.
Read complete story on original website
Gotta tell ya, this kinda puts Lincoln's Gettysburg Address into a different context for me. The liberated paying tribute with prayer and thanksgiving for the liberators. Especially when Lincoln says that it is to we the living to be rededicated in devotion to the cause for which the dead had given their last full measure of devotion. Liberty, equality, justice, unity. Yeah, it's sad that this day has become an excuse for drinking, eating, and appliance sales. But I think that it's also too bad that it gets confused and interchanges with Veteran's Day, Labor Day, Armed Forces Day, All Saint's Day, and Flag Day. It shouldn't be about empty patriotism, flag waving or political posturing any more than it should be about beer, brats, and boating.

If we take the example of those slaves almost 146 years ago, we will listen to God's Word and spend time in prayer. Recognizing the enormous sacrifice of those who have lost their lives serving to protect our freedoms. If we follow President Lincoln's advice, we will devote ourselves for the same things they sacrificed for. It's not about the flag, it's not about our colors or our pride. Shouldn't it be about liberty, equality, unity, and justice? Of ALL the people, by ALL the people, and for ALL  the people.

Yes for the fallen troops, but also for what they were fighting for. That's what I believe we need to remember and memorialize today. May God direct our words, thoughts, and actions so that we do just that. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." ~Galations 6:8
Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on. 
John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on. 
He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened "Old Virginny" till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on. 
John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on. 
The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on. 
Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When you don't know what to pray...

Sometimes we're left speechless. Paralyzed by shock or fear or just plain confused, confounded or disoriented.

Sometimes the most open, honest, and sincere prayer is this one; "HELP!"

That's Okay. God knows what we're going through. It's times like that when I may just keep reciting the Lord's prayer, or tell God straight-out, "I don't know what to do, I don't even know what to ask you or how to pray about this..."

Ever get to the point where you either want to follow the age-old advice to "let go and let God,"  but you just don't know how? Or have you been at that place where you just want God to hold you and comfort you and help you fall asleep?

He will. Just like Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples, the Holy Spirit prays for us too.

"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." ~Romans 8:26-27

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ayn Rand influenced Ryan Plan

What would inspire Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote to take away healthcare for the elderly and working families -- all while protecting tax breaks for the wealthy -- like they did just weeks ago?
Well, Paul Ryan, the author of the Republican plan, credits radical right wing author Ayn Rand as his inspiration to enter politics -- and even gives copies of her books to his staff.
So what does Ayn Rand believe?
  • Altruism is evil.
  • The "weak" do not deserve love.
  • All religions, majority rule/democracy, and any regulations on capitalism should be destroyed.
This is the vision that’s driving his budget proposal. We think it’s time Ryan got some new reading material, starting with a text with a moral vision that couldn’t be more different from Rand’s: the Bible.
Paul Ryan is now even defending his budget as consistent with his Roman Catholic faith -- even claiming the Catholic bishops support his proposal when in fact they have criticized its cuts to the poor.
We're not sure how Paul Ryan could think a budget out of an Ayn Rand novel could uphold faith values, so we're sending him a reminder of just what those values are.
For every 1,000 signatures we get, we’ll deliver one Bible to Paul Ryan.
We’re not asking Congress to base laws on the Bible, but we do think Ryan and all the other politicians who voted for draconian budget cuts while touting their faith could use a reminder of moral principles like this:
If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then 
your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:10)

And this:
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25: 40)

Monday, May 23, 2011

1 John 4:8

"Where Love is,
God is."
~Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

See you tomorrow! And probably the next day too)

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:2

How can I put this politely?


It is bunk. Most of the malarkey you hear from fundaMENTAList Christians about a rapture, millennialism, the tribulation and Jesus' second coming are not found in the Bible. They're not really in the book of Revelation or Daniel or Ezekiel. They're not even in the Apocripha.

Most of them were made up in the 1800's by a  guy named John Nelson Darby who wrote his own interpretation of the Bible.

Darby came up with a messed up idea called dispensationalism. Basically he thought that God arranged these times for providing salvation.

"Special-dispensationalists" believe after all the saved people are raptured up into Heaven, everybody else will have a second chance to change their minds and believe after all. Right-wing radical Christian-conservatives who support the state of Israel unconditionally hope that that's when all the Jews will suddenly become Evangelical Protestants. They seem to think that Jesus will return to a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.

Hyperdispensationalists (including Darby), on the other hand, believe that once Stephen was stoned in the book of Acts, God closed the door on any Jews ever receiving salvation. I wonder if that's not at the root of so much antisemitism in the United States.

There won't be a rapture tomorrow because there's no such thing as the rapture. It's not in the Bible, it's a false doctrine, so misinterpretation by a nineteenth century crank who- like a lot of misinformed Christians, probably wanted to scare people into obeying whatever they say. Grrr! "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many...if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him." ~Matthew 24:11, 23

I don't think that Jesus will come back for us tomorrow. Mind you, I'm not willing to say with absolute certainty that Jesus won't come back tomorrow. Why? It must have been something Jesus said- "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."~Mark 13:32

I think it's really ironic that Jewish/agnostic comedians like Jon Stewart and John Fugelsang know this verse, but apparently an awful lot of people who call themselves Jesus' followers don't.

By the way, I'm not too worried about missing Him either, because He said, "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be." ~Matt 24:27. So I'm guessing that it'll be fast and it'll be BIG.

The choice ought to be clear

Even if you don't believe that Jesus really is God, it seems to me that Paul still makes a pretty compelling argument for choosing good over evil. If you merely look at these two lists as a comparison of hedonism/anarchy on the flesh side and altruism/civility- I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would deliberately choose the fruit of the flesh. Don't you see how those things will ultimately end up being self-destructive, not to mention hurtful to others and damaging to all you relationships?

The Flesh
  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • self-indulgence
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hate
  • arguing
  • jealousy
  • anger
  • selfishness
  • disagreements
  • division
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
The Spirit
  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness    
  • gentleness
  • discretion
  • self-control

Of course, what a shame if this was just a matter of choosing the "Good side of the force instead of the dark-side."

God gave us His son, Jesus not only to set an example for us (demonstrate the character traits of the spirit-fruit), but as a sacrifice to atone for all of our fruit of the flesh. So that we could actually be capable of having a loving relationship with God the Father.

Once He had defeated death and the Devil, He sent us His Holy Spirit, who makes it possible for us to be more like Jesus- to have His same character traits. Why would we want this? You're kidding, right? Why WOULDN'T we?

I believe that God wants to make us more like Jesus so that we can have healthier, genuinely loving relationships with others. In part, that will pretty much just plainly make life work better, but when you think about it, it is all about love- which ultimately is what Jesus wants for us and coincidentally it will make us more approachable and appealing to others, thereby giving us opportunities to share Jesus with them.
Galatians 5: 13-26; Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Empty Vessel Prayer

"Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether.
O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you."
~Martin Luther

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't put your faith in faith, put it in God

"Don't expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty." ~Flannery O'Connor

I think this is a mistake that many of us make all too often, we assume that because we're a believer, life will be smooth sailing. And when life gets rough, we blame ourselves for not having a strong enough faith. But faith isn't about knowing how things will turn out, knowing we're right, or having a grip on the situation. It's not even about uprooting those trees or moving those mountains. It is simply, trusting God no matter what.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pirate Blog's New Facebook Page

After years of being just a blog, I just launched the Prophet, Priest, and Pirate Facebook page-
Looking for a place online where you can fellowship and civil discussion of  issues of faith and society? Then check it out.

Over the years I've run into a lot of people who's social and political views don't completely gel with those of other people at church or work- and I've often found that those people don't want to give up on God, their faith or the Bible, but they feel pressured out to the margins of the body of Christ.

I figure that Jesus came for everybody, not just for white middle class Americans- like Country singer Miranda Lambert sings-

‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wineAnd I bet we’d get along just fineHe could calm a storm and heal the blindAnd I bet He’d understand a heart like mine.

We may not agree politically and I may not always be right, but if you visit this new facebook page of follow the blog, you'll always be challenged to think, read, pray, and discuss what God's love really means for us in this dark world.

Please check it out, "like" it, and share your favorite verses, quotes, discussion-starters and faith experiences.

One of the reasons bad things happen to good people

The short answer clergy often give is "because of sin." Bad things happen as part of the general curse brought about by the fall, but the good news is that God can make good things out of the bad...

"If one has never suffered, one cannot understand what hope is." ~Martin Luther

"We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." ~2 Corinthians 1:4

See also Romans 5:5. In other words, out of our greatest hurts and wounds (and our greatest mistakes and gravest sins) God can create our greatest effectiveness as His instruments and ministers to others. In plain English, whatever you've gone through or are going through- you can help others get through it too.

Monday, May 09, 2011

True Vision

"Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness." ~Helen Keller

"It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui (boredom)." ~Helen Keller

Friday, May 06, 2011

Show us how we can serve

 Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions or in a system that perpetuates injustice. Show us how we can serve your children and make your love practical by washing their feet. Amen. 
- Mother Theresa

Monday, May 02, 2011

On the capture and death of a great villian

"As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people" - Ezekiel 33:11

A dear friend and former student recently had this as their facebook status:

"I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him." -Booker T. Washington

Though I am happy that the man who (himself) claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks is no longer able to terrorize, I am saddened that he died without knowing the love of Christ. Christians we need to be praying for his lost followers that they will find the Lord before they leave this earth!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” -Romans 12:21

"Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"...invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger, which has produced, and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents..." -Abraham Lincoln asking Americans to pray for the Confederacy in his Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863

In his address to the nation Sunday night, President Obama reminded us that we are NOT at war with Islam, rather it was our intention to bring Bin Laden to justice for the 9/11 Attacks and to preserve our own safety and security from terrorism and specifically Bin Laden's organization, Al Qaieda. May we remember to follow Jesus' own example and not hate, vilify, de-humanize or demonize any group of people, but rather love, listen to, try to understand, care for, help, feed, heal, pray for, and share the good news of Jesus with them.

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" ~Matthew 5:44