Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What is sexual perversion

Recently I was criticized, attacked, and condemned as I made a comment that Christians shouldn't be involved with organizations that are actively fighting for sexual perversion. This was somehow seen as an attack against homosexuals even though I hadn't even mentioned anything about homosexuality. Unfortunately, many Christians have equated perversion to homosexuality while ignoring its broader context.

The definition of perversion is "the alteration of something from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended." Sexual perversion is any act that turns sex or our sexuality from its original God created purpose which is to be in union with our spouse in a way that reflects Christ's union with His Church. Our sexuality is a mystical thing that is just as much spiritual as it is physical.

According to that definition sexual perversion includes things that are common and accepted in our culture such as: homosexuality, extra-marital sex, pre-marital sex, pornography, masturbation, divorce, and contraception. All of these things pervert God's original design for us. Rather than focusing on one particular deviance we must point the fingers at ourselves and examine how we ourselves have been guilty and complicit with perversion. Those of us who consider ourselves Christians must reclaim Biblical sexuality and fight to maintain it. And we must support those around us who are on the same quest.

Monday, March 18, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Sermon

I share about how we should view St. Patrick's Day through the lens of the Lenten season. Lent serves to prepare us for the resurrection of Christ. The example of St. Patrick can empower us to be victorious over our own struggles.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sermon

Preached today at St. David's San Rafael.

Pentecost as the defining moment of the Church. A new Mt. Sinai and a reversal of Babel. The creation of one new united man.


Monday, January 23, 2017

A Tale of Two Marches

This past Saturday I witnessed two marches. The first was one that I was a part of: the annual West Coast Walk for Life. It was characterized by peaceful and prayerful demonstration. There was no yelling, no shouting, no ugliness. Simply tens of thousands of Christians walking down Market Street holding signs. The loudest we got was when portions of our crowd would chant "pro-life" to drown out the counter protesters that showed up to hurl profanities at us.

The second march was the SF Women's March which was held later that day. I made a point to witness it. It was billed as a peaceful demonstration against hate, misogyny, racism, and other forms of prejudice. I was shocked to see how many signs had messages of hate, anger, and profanities. I was also shocked to see multiple signs calling for the death of Trump and Pence. Where did the call for tolerance go to? Not to mention that the organizers made sure that conservative pro-woman viewpoints were not represented at the march. I was appalled to see how many parents brought their small children to such a march. There were things being said that no child should be exposed to. It was not a march of peace, love, and tolerance.

But I was also made aware of the deep fear that many carry. Behind all of that anger and hate is a fear that our current administration will inflict changes upon the lifestyles of those protesting. I can say that they are in needless fear and their concerns aren't valid- which may be true. But the fact remains- there are deeply held concerns. Trump, in his inaugural address, called for unity. We need a healing to come to our nation and it must start by us laying aside the hate and anger to truly listen to one another. Lincoln took the presidency during a trying time much as this. And there are a lot of parallels between Trump and Lincoln that I won't go into here but the fact remains that we have a deeply divided nation. I don't think our nation has been this divided since Reconstruction. We need to pray that Trump would be used by God to bring healing to this nation. I truly believe that is God's plan for Trump. To make America great again and to bring our nation together from our polarized pieces. But this will only happen if we pay attention to the verse that Pence laid his hands upon as he took the oath of office:

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Go to Hell!" The power of a curse.

We all have heard that there is life and death in the words that we speak. We are truly a powerful people for the words that we choose have the ability to create. Even the secularists understand this and have written best selling books about this truth. How much more do we have the ability to transform the atmosphere around us? We are kings on this earth as we rule in the place of Christ. All authority on Heaven and Earth has been given to Him and He has chosen to delegate that authority to us. You are an heir of the Kingdom. And we must live accordingly.

Have you been the victim of word curses? Have you been careless with the things that you have said? You can transform someone's circumstances by how you speak. You can transform your own circumstances. Those who dwell in the negative will speak in the negative. Those who speak life will reap life. Why is it that pessimists often have such miserable lives? Because they speak it over themselves. Is it any mystery that they attract so many bad things to themselves?

What is hell? Theologians debate whether it is a physical place or if it is a state of being. The Orthodox teach that hell isn't a place but is an experience of God's Presence by someone who has rejected Him. The person who hates God, and by extension they hate themselves for they bear His image, will experience incredible suffering within the fullness of God's Presence. Hell might not be merely an absence of God. It may be a state of being in which one cannot experience any of God's goodness and will be filled with the utmost misery. Hell in this view is a state experienced by one who has so rejected God that they have rejected all of His Godly attributes. They will only feel His wrath and misery for there will no longer be any measure of grace shielding them from evil.

We place ourselves in hell each day. We place ourselves in hell when we reject God and choose to follow our own ways. We choose hell when we decide to ignore what God has for us. "Hell is a spiritual state of separation from God and inability to experience the love of God, while being conscious of the ultimate deprivation of it as punishment." - Theodore Stylianopoulos I've had measures of that. When I have been unable to experience the love of God because I have placed myself into hell. Sometimes it can be as the result of someone else. When someone curses you with "go to hell" we might think it is just a simple expression of anger that doesn't really mean anything. I think it does. It is a powerful word curse. The enemy will use that as a weapon against us to try to remove us from God's Presence and place us into a state of being in which we cannot experience God's love.

We must live lives in which we speak blessing and life. We are accountable for the words that we speak- even in anger. And there is no such thing as an idle sentence. Our words are powerful for we are powerful creatures. We have the ability to plunge someone into a hellish existence. Why should we do that? Why should we create warfare for those around us? The entire kingdom of darkness exists to do that. Why should we join them? I ask you my brothers and sisters to be a prophetic people. To be a people who speak life and who reject the words of darkness. Let us walk in the light! And let us bring others into that same light.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Your vote matters- don't worry about being a one issue voter!

People tell me that they don't want to be one issue voters. That I have to look at the whole picture. That would be nice but one has to take a stand against injustice rather than tolerating it.
Slavery endured in this nation because the majority didn't want to make it an issue. They tolerated it and it took the devastation of a Civil War to put into motion the circumstances needed to end it.
Segregation endured because most didn't care enough to shake the status quo. They were willing to keep electing leaders who would leave it alone because there were other things that were "more important." The majority didn't want to become wrapped up in "one issue."
Today abortion endures, despite the majority being against it, because we don't want to make it "the one issue." If we, as Christians, made it a deal breaker and refused to vote for pro-abortion politicians we would see abortion end quite quickly. I firmly believe that if the Church arose and started showing up to the polls en masse while voting consistently pro-life that we would see abortion end within 4 to 6 years. 
Why does this not happen? Because people say that we shouldn't be one issue voters.... I agree that there are a lot of important issues that one has to weigh. But there are some that should be absolute deal breakers. And those politicians who support the legal murder of innocent life will never get my vote. Our vote means something and we are accountable to God for how we vote. Those who vote for abortion will have blood on their hands that they will have to explain. Please my friends, vote pro-life! Lives are at stake.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Confessions of a heretic

I've spent most of my adult life branded as a heretic. It began when I was nineteen and started to go to a Charismatic Church. I gladly embraced much of the tenants of modern Charismania. I accepted the doctrine that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased and are just as applicable today as they were in the days of the apostles. I had supernatural experiences and blogged about them. And I had the audacity to believe that God speaks to us today and that we can receive direction from these words.

I lost friends. People I grew up with refused to speak to me. Social gatherings would prove to be awkward as my presence would be completely ignored as if I was invisible. This was less painful than one would think as I found so many new friends in the Charismatic movement. These became like family to me as we served the Kingdom of God together. I could deal with hateful letters written to me as I had my band of brothers and sisters who had also endured persecution. And nothing in me wanted to go back as I had tasted a beautiful expression of Christianity that contained a measure of life I had never had before.

Over the past eighteen months I have had another development in my spiritual journey. I discovered Anglicanism.  For most of my adult life I had always considered myself the strange product of a hodgepodge of different traditions. Finally I found a theological home for what I had always thought was an eclectic blend of Reformed, Charismatic, Evangelical, and Ancient Christianity. I love the Charismatic movement because of how the worship service is centered around ushering in the Presence of the Holy Spirit through worship. And I love Anglicanism because of how the Sunday service is centered around the Presence of Christ in the sacrament of communion.

I had always struggled with certain Protestant doctrines but was uncomfortable with the Roman Catholic viewpoint on those issues. In Anglicanism I found this middle road that expressed much of what I had already come to believe. However, this came with a price. I was surrounded by those who didn't believe you could be a non-Protestant Christian. The two are antithetical to each other in their minds. They reject many of the early church fathers as Catholic heretics. They proclaim that it is impossible to be Catholic and saved. That we believe in a different gospel. I would hear this said by people who I loved and respected and I would weep. It pained me when I heard those who I had thought would be co-laborers in the gospel attack my salvation unknowingly. I received letters stating that I believe in a different Jesus because of my belief of His Presence in the Sacrament.

I've asked myself if this is worth it. But just like when I discovered the Charismatic movement; I had discovered something beautiful that I couldn't turn my back upon. Every Sunday, as I kneel to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, I receive life. I have discovered a holistic theology that makes sense to me. A theology that doesn't ignore certain passages of Scripture or allegorizes portions of Scripture that seem to be taken literally. I don't have to reject the early Church Fathers as primitives who didn't understand true Christianity. They were discipled by members of the original twelve. If they believe that Jesus is in the Sacrament then why shouldn't we? I'm just using this as one example of many theological issues.

Yes, the Protestant Reformation needed to happen. There were abuses and errors within the Roman Church that needed to be addressed. But we can't reject 1500 years of Christianity as illegitimate. I've grown up in the Protestant tradition that acted as if the had Church laid dormant between the closing of the canon and the beginning of Protestantism. Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. For us to say that the Church laid dormant is to say that the gates of hell prevailed.

I have to chuckle when Protestants, who would reject the validity of my salvation, post quotes from CS Lewis as the great champion of the faith. CS Lewis, the great Anglo-Catholic, if he was alive today would be branded as a heretic and attacked throughout the far reaches of the internet. Why is he considered a champion of the faith while I am branded a heretic? This reveals the hypocrisy behind those who have appointed themselves as the doctrine police. I got hate letters when I quoted the words of Jesus in His high priestly prayer and said that those who attack the unity of the Church and sow seeds of division are attacking Christ Himself. We are His Body and those who attack the Church universal are attacking Christ Himself. But others say that truth should be valued more than unity. And they keep on holding their meetings and conferences in which they curse ministries that they disagree with and publish articles on how those people aren't really saved.

I can't go back. I believe I have drunk of the ancient wells. In the Charismatic movement we speak about drinking at the wells of revival and redigging those ancient wells. I have gone back to even more ancient wells. The wells of Celtic saints who transformed Ireland from a nation of paganism and Druidism into a Christian nation. Saints who planted monasteries throughout the British Isles and re-evanglized Europe during the Dark Ages. Those are my spiritual ancestors. As I look at America today, particularly California, I see so many parallels between now and the days of St. Patrick, St David of Wales, St Brigid, et al. I want to drink of the wells that they dug. I want to learn from them and receive the keys of authority that they fought for.

But I can't do this as a Protestant for they weren't Protestants. I can't try to emulate them while saying that their theology is heresy and that they weren't even saved. I'm trying to explain the logical conclusion of rejecting the salvation of non-Protestants. If we say that they aren't true Christians then we are doing so much damage. We can't pick and choose. I see individuals stating that Catholics are not saved and on different occasions holding up the martyrdom of Orthodox Christians in the Middle East. There's an inconsistency there. We can't be a divided Bride. Is Christ divided? Is there more than one Christ?

I have drunk of ancient waters. I sign myself with the cross throughout the day as a symbol of my discipleship to Christ and as a symbol of protection against the demonic. I wear the crucifix each day to remind me that I have been crucified with Christ. I pray in tongues throughout the day- even in the marketplace. I utilize the ancient prayers of the Church, along with the Book of Common Prayer, in my devotional life. I believe that in the communion meal I am stepping outside of time and partaking of one meal with the saints past, present, and future. We are one in Christ through His death and resurrection. I look at those departed as examples to follow, as ones who utilize their time in Heaven to pray for us still on earth.

I want to walk in the fullness of what God has for me. And for me, He has called me to walk the ancient paths and live a sacramental Christianity. Other streams are a blessing and I do not condemn them. But I have found something that I can not reject- over the past eighteen months I have grown so much in my walk and union with Christ. And that is what is most important. As ones who bear His name we are called to become one with Him and to allow His Holy Spirit to transform our lives so that we might be consumed by His Spirit. Our goal is to look like Him.

I write this with pain. I write this as one who has lost friends. I write this as one who has had doors shut in his face over this past year. I write this as one who has been shunned by those who I had considered as family. But I write this as one who has had to refuse to let bitterness set in. I pray the words of Jesus and ask that He would be faithful to make us one in Him. That we might be one so that the world would know Him through our unity.

We are called to be united. So many of Paul's letters were rebuking the spirit of division. Love is far more important than the need to be right. I look at the churches here in Berkeley (the same thing is true in so many other cities as well) and I see a group of congregations who are too busy pointing fingers at each other to do any real impact for the Kingdom. I can tell you what's wrong with every church but I can't tell you what's right because I rarely hear that. I see collections of congregants who are at enmity with each other. And we are too busy biting each other to do real damage to the kingdom of darkness.

What would happen if we were willing to lay aside our trivial differences? Whose name were we baptized by? Who was crucified for us? Christ is who should define us and not man made labels. But we have allowed doctrine and denominationalism to divide us. We care more about being right than being united.

I write this as one who has been attacked my entire adult life for following Christ. I can endure the attacks from unbelievers. But it hurts when it comes from my brothers and sisters. The knowledge that there are Christians praying against me and my ministry scares me. The idea that I have been thrown to the wolves and that their words are joining the voice of the great accuser is scary. And I am grieved to know that I have done the same in the past. The effect that this has in the spirit realm is huge.

I'm writing this as a plea. I'm writing this as an open letter to my brothers and sisters to accept me once again. And I'm writing this as an open letter to ask that we would all lay aside our differences and come together as one in heart and mission. Would we be one as Christ and the Father are one? If you have issues with my theology or my spiritual practices then come to me. Show me from Scripture where I am in error and I will listen. Scripture is my final authority- that hasn't changed. In fact as I have gone deeper down these ancient paths I have grown in my love and passion for the Scriptures. I have grown in my walk with the Lord. And I have gained new tools and practices in my daily fight against the kingdom of darkness as I resist the enemy and seek to be more like Christ. I simply ask that my Protestant brothers and sisters would see this and accept me as a fellow Christian. I am no greater than any of you. In fact I sometimes feel that I need the blessings of the ancient paths and the Sacraments, more than others, because of my own wretchedness. Please forgive me if I have ever appeared prideful or judgmental. And please, let us join together in the love of Christ.