Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The HOLI (holy)-days

As the year comes to an end,  we get closer and closer to the holiday season. This time of year always puts me in a great mood. Christmas is my favorite holiday because of what it represents as well as the joyous feeling that it gives me. All aspects of Christmas make me happy: eggnog, decorating the Christmas Tree, the smell of cinnamon and pine cones, etc. My favorite portion of this holiday is its TRUE meaning, Jesus. In the media we are bombarded with holiday films and holiday themed shows that focus on the superficial aspect (spending loads of money, waiting for Santa Claus, etc.) of the holiday. It is rare that a television program focuses on the TRUE  meaning of CHRIST-mas, which is the birth of CHRIST.

A day or so ago, I raised the question to my Twitter following, asking " How can one celebrate Christmas, but not believe in Jesus?  I got very few responses, however one of my followers did share that she wondered the same thing. She stated how she has a friend that celebrates Christmas as well as Chanukuh. Chanukah is a Jewish holiday and in Judaism Jesus is looked upon as a false messiah. So, I was just completely baffled at the idea of someone celebrating the birth of someone  that  is looked at as a false messiah. This is a clear representation of how Christmas  has become so commercialized that people are celebrating something they don't even believe in.

The origin of Christmas is the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. There was no Snata Claus, Elves, or Reindeer. For children, it is a beautiful picture to paint, but lets not fool them as well as ourselves. The true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus and it is important that we teach our children and remember it ourselves. I'm not saing that it is wrong to decorate a tree, purchase gifts, sing Christmas Carols, but I am saying in doing all of this don't forget the true meaning of this HOLI-day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chatting It Up with Rev. Ellyn Kravette

It was my initial plan to interview a male reverend (he shall remain nameless) about the topic of deciding to be an official over same sex marriage ceremonies. After to reaching out to him, I was told that he would be out of the country for a days but will be returning within that week and would conduct the interview then. A week had passed and I heard nothing so I reached out to him and unfortunately got no response. So I hit the dusty pavement again, on my search for a PRO-GAY MINISTER. (I was very passionate about this particular subject and wanted to know their opinion) While on my search, I came across "Open Door Ministries" which is the home to Reverend Ellyn Kravette. She was an ordained clergy member in 1990, and began her own ministry in 1993. I had a chance to ask Rev. Ellyn a few questions about what she does and she was eager to answer. Enjoy! (I also used the pseudonym, Claire, just for protection purposes. So when you see "C', that's me, Claire)

C: Hello Pastor, I hope all is well with you. I hope you are able to answer the following questions. They are not meant to offend and I will truly understand if you decide to omit some questions. I do thank you for the time that you are taking to help me with this assignment.

R.E.: Hello Claire, thank you for that lovely salutation and I will do my best to try to answer all of the questions you have. I am glad to help in anyway I can.

C: Thank You! My first question for you is, What exactly are your views on homosexuality?

R.E.: I would like to state that I don't use the terms homosexuality or heterosexuality. I believe in love and its beauty expressed between people. I don't catergorize a man loving a man as homosexual nor a man loving a woman as heterosexual... Love is Love, there are no colors, labels, or genders.

C: In comparison to those views, what are your views on same sex marriage?

R.E.: They are pretty similar. I feel that I should not deprive individuals that are in love the right to spend the rest of their lives together. I am extremely happy that our society is starting to understand that as well.

C:How did you come to make the decision to perform same sex marriage ceremonies?

R.E.: I made that decision very early. I felt that I should not be like others and shun two people from their love for one another. In our society today, people tend to put members of the clergy in the same box. I wanted them to know that they would be able to find refuge in Open Door Ministries, and not all of us were against this type of union.

C: Have you received backlash about your decision to perform these ceremonies?

R.E.: Very much so! *chuckles* I have been slightly ostracized for my decision to perform same sex marriage ceremonies. Some have gone so far as to even denounce my title as a reverend. However, I stand firm in what I believe in and that is what keeps me on what  consider to be the right path.

C: Final question Rev. Ellyn, Do you think that you a contradicting all that you say stand for/against by performing these ceremonies?

R.E.: Absolutely not! If anything, I believe I was more true to my beliefs than anything. As I mentioned, I believe in love. All types of love. Jesus loves all of us as we are, so who am I to keep people from that. At the end of it all, love is the center of my beliefs and I will always support those who are on a quest for eternal love.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Pray the A.C.T.S. Prayer

Prayer is something that is held in high esteem, not only the Christian faith, but in all faiths. Prayer is the avenue that is used to communicate with that religion's preferred superior being. It is looked upon as a way to release burdens and trust that a person's particular "god" will help them or handle the matters troubling their heart. In the Christian faith, there are multiple prayers that we can say or we can be very informal and say what is on our hearts. It is very easy for a person to begin to pray and have no clear direction as to what they want to say, how to say it, if they should say it, etc. This is how A.C.T.S comes into play. Most people recognize ACTS as a book in the Bible. However, ACTS is also used as an acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, & Supplication. This is considered the order in which one should pray.

  • First,  there is Adoration: in the beginning of the prayer, you should Praise and Worship God for who He is and what He means to you. At this time you should express your love for Him.
  • Next is Confession: this is the time where you confess all your sins. Although God is all knowing, it is still in your best interest that you confess all of your sins before Him with a clean heart. Knowingly leaving out certain things will create a barrier between you and God because you are being untruthful. It is important that your heart is pure because if it isn't then you are basically asking for forgiveness of something that you plan to do...again.
  • Thirdly is Thanksgiving: this is when we thank God for things like good health, life, jobs, education, food, etc. We basically show our gratitude and appreciation for all that we have.
  • Lastly, we have Supplication:  This is the time where we ask God for the things we want and what we want for others. It is our time to intercede for ourselves as well as others. Some pray for short term things such help on a test or a holiday bonus, whereas others may ask for good health for their parents or to allow them to remain financially stable.

It is important to remember that prayer is a time to communicate with God. This act helps with building a relationship. This model can be used for someone that is unsure of how to pray or what about. As well as someone who feels they ramble and may not convey everything they wanted to. Although it is structured, it is very helpful.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Would God Still Love Me If...

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the choices I make and they may be perceived by my peers, parents, and by God. It seems as if everything I do with my peers, my parents somehow are able to incorporate it with my relationship with God. When they do this it causes me to think if I am now a "bad person" because of my decisions. I was never the type to act "super-saved" or to constantly "walk in the spirit"because I'm not perfect...Hell, no one is. I don't act that way, but I feel as though some believe that I should.

I have been crucified for the way I think, what I believe and the reasons why, how I express myself (physically and verbally) and these judgements force me think is God judging me this hard? If so, does He think that I am actually a bad person? I may make some poor choices or make some controversial decisions but does that change who I am as a person? For example: If I got a tattoo and clearly in the Bible it states, "Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are no your own. (Corinthians 6:19), does that change my heart and my willingness to do good? I don't think it does but there are others who go on a crusade to prove that it does.

It is very easy to say, "Never worry about what others have to say or think". It is not as easy when it is time to apply that statement to a real life situation. As much as we hate to admit it, other people's opinions do weigh heavy on us at times. In my situation, it more so if this person is thinking this about me, could God possibly be thinking the same or worse?!

To sum this up, I know that God is a God of unconditional love and forgiveness, but I can't help to wonder... Would God still love me if...?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspirational Gospel Music

Many times, gospel artists are overlooked because there is an assumption that they only sing about Jesus and attempt to force their beliefs on others. The stigma is fasle and the following music video depicts how a gospel music group is able to sing inspirational music that serves as outreach toall audiences of all backgrounds.

This song  is a way to reach those that may not have a particular faith, or who may have fallen on hard times. The choir belts out words and phrases that allow the person to know that they have a friend in them, and are never alone. It is a song created to moreso inspire than to preach.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Secret Societies... Should Christians Join Them?!

Lately, I've engaged in much conversation that is centered around "Social Organizations or Secret Organizations"(Social/Secret Organizations includes sororities, fraternities, and social orders) ]. I found this topic to be extremely interesting because I have many friends that are involved in or are looking to be involved in social organizations, but there is much controversy surrounding the origins and underlying purposes of these organizations.

I will be focusing, primarily, on the Order of the Eastern Star or "OES". It is alleged that this organization was formed for the wives, sisters, and mothers of Freemasons. Allegedly, the men that were apart of this organization devoted much of their time and money to the upkeep of the org. However, in doing this, the women were not allowed to know the mission, principles, and practices of Freemasonry; this caused problems that lead to the men to create an organization for the women that make the women feel "apart" of the organization and engage in those practices. So the Order of the Eastern Star was formed.

There are allegations that the organization tries to portray themselves as a Christian organization by playing on biblical passages to support their principles. For example, Matthew 2:2 states that "We have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him"; hence the name "Eastern Star". However, with further reading, we come to realize that they stated, "we saw His star in the East" is an indication of the location of the speaker, not of the star. So how can they be "Eastern Stars" which is supposed to be a guiding light to salvation (Jesus) if the star was never in the East?! That's a very easy and important point to miss: Eastern Stars are groomed to believe they are supposed to be a guide toward salvation, however their name is based off of a play on words.

With further study, I learned that their principles are based off of the idea of self-salvation and that every man is a "christ"; through masonic initiation and in order to be deemed a savior, one needs to first save themselves. This is COMPLETELY against Christian teachings. We are taught that there was only one Savior, Jesus Christ and the only way be saved is through Him. With that said how can one profess to be  a Christian, yet believe that they can save themselves? It's no possible way, it's either one or the other. So, can Christians really be apart of an organization such as this one?! Absolutely not, it goes against all of the teachings of the Bible and Christianity in general. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good + Evil = Temptation

The following photograph is a depiction of the idea of temptation. For those that may be unfamiliar, the first woman of the Bible was Eve, and it is written that she was given specific orders by God not to eat the fruit that was on the Tree of Knowledge, however, she was tempted by the serpent and in essence she ate the fruit. This story may seem far-fetched to some, but this is actually a depiction of what happens on a daily basis.We, as human beings, having a constant struggle with temptation can take this picture literally or figuratively. Let's discuss this further...

In the photo, we see a nude woman, depicted as Eve, standing in front of the "Tree of Knowledge" with the serpent in her ear ( it is safe to assume based off of the written testimony in the Bible) coaxing her to eat this fruit.
How many times are we caught in the "Garden of Eden, vexed with the idea of eating the Forbidden fruit"? Multiple times in a day!! We often end up in situations that force us to go back and forth with our conscience. We may know that this is wrong but the way it is presented to us makes it look or feel right. It is our spiritual and moral responsibility to be able to differentiate between the good and the bad and proceed with the good. We can go on to say, who is to say what exactly is "good"? No one can tell you what is "good" for you, but you. When you have to second guess your potential decision, 9 out of 10 times, that is something that should not be done.
All in all, this photo is a depiction of what we go through each day: God or the "good"in us says one thing, yet the serpent/ "evil" in us tempts us to do another.