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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Issue with the Rick Warren is the Question

It seems that the issue with Rick Warren praying during the inauguration of Barak Obama is not making too many people happy. On the one hand are the gay activists who feel betrayed by Obama. They can't stand the fact that the current president-elect chose a pastor who opposed gay marriage to give the invocation. To them, it is anathema. Everyone who does not conform to their view is homophobic and intolerant. Holding this view is on par with denying them basic civil rights. So, to have someone representing such view is reprehensible. Let's give them credit, they are trying to be consistent. Barak Obama is not worried about being consistent in his view. In my opinion, he is looking for political expediency.
On the other hand are the Christians who oppose Rick Warren involvement in the inauguration. To them, it is also anathema that he would take part in a ceremony of a man who is pro-abortion. In their view, it is inconsistent with Christianity. Praying during the ceremony is equated with conforming, supporting and agreeing to some degree with Barak Obama's view. To say it strongly, Rick Warren is a hypocrite.
But here is the question. Does praying at the inaugural ceremony equal to supporting Barak Obama in some form? I think this is the question that must be answered. I think it is hard to answer unless you are Rick Warren. Let's play hypothetical. If his intent is to take part because he believes this is what every one ought to do for those in power ([this is what the Apostle Paul instructed Christians to pray, “… for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives” (1 Timothy 2:1b-3a)-by the way Nero was in power around this time.] then I think he is right. If his intent is to, in some way, support Barak Obama in any of the views contrary to Scripture and Christianity, then he is wrong to do it. My guess is that it is the former. Furthermore, I think the prayer is ceremonial in nature and says very little about what association Warren and Obama have with each other. We will have to wait and see what happens after.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Helping the Needy, the Poor and the Hungry

For many years I have been supporting three children from World Vision. One girl from Mexico, one boy from Africa and one girl from Albania. For about $30 bucks they are able to provide help for poor communities that don't have their basic necessities, such as food, water, health aid, and education. One can also give a monetary gift that can go directly to the sponsored child. They assess their needs and they give the money. In return, you get a letter, pictures of what was bought and the satisfaction of helping someone in need. This has brought great joy to me and my family. I know my money is is being used for someone who really needs it. I also give to other local organizations such as Fred Jordan Mission who feeds hungry people in LA, The Long Beach Rescue Mission and the Orange County Food Bank. I have to other organizations as well: Samaritan's Purse, The Salvation and the Red Cross.

Why do I this? I do it because I count myself blessed and cannot fathom the fact that there are so many people close and far who don't have their basic necessities. We in this country, no matter what financial status we are, are rich. We have so much. Why not give a little this Christmas season and fulfill its true meaning: Giving and blessing others as the God has given us everything in his Son.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My favorite time of the year is Thanksgiving. Christmas is also one of my favorite but its meaning is over shadowed by the commercial and cultural aspects of it.  Not so with Thanksgiving.  There's no giving of gifts.  Don't have to worry about giving and receiving.  It's just a time to enjoy with our families and be grateful for all God has given us. Thanks-giving. It's clear. You can't interpret in many ways.  Of course, it has a historical meaning that some revisionists see differently.  But whatever the case, it is still Thanks-giving.  Thanks-giving teaches not to be selfish.  When we are thankful we are saying we are content with what we have been given.  It isn't a time to complaint. Just thankful! Thankful it is Thanksgiving. Just before Black Friday. So appropriate. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where's the right Church?

Recently I have been on a church hunt and I have to admit it has been hard finding the "right" one for me and my family. Before I say anything else, let me give a little background on where I come from. I have been a Christian for over 20 years and have served in quite a few Hispanic churches doing quite a bit of teaching and preaching. I also went to Bible College and Seminary where I obtained my BS and MDiv. I served as a church "planter" among Hispanics for about 5 years. I left this job because I thought I could no longer do the job without giving it my all and because I thought my future was uncertain. I was a hard job but I thought it was my calling. Now I just attend church. I have been in at least three churches but I don't seem to find the "right" place. I don't seek perfection. I now there isn't such thing. But nevertheless, it is important for me to find the church that I think fits the profile of what it ought to be. Here's what I look for in a church: 1. Good theology. Good theology is based on the Book (i.e. the Bible). 2. Thinking Pastor. I'm not looking for the best speaker. I'm looking for a pastor that doesn't just follow other preachers teaching but thinks on his own and is not afraid to step out with this convictions. 3. Friendly, accepting people. It saddens me to see that I have attended churches for many years and in some I hardly know anyone. People don't want to know each other. You have to fit their profile. If you are a "non-believer" then you are more likely to be accepted but if you are someone like me, it's harder. They rather not deal with you. 4. Relevant teaching. Teaching based on the Bible but also relevant and challenging. I don't want to be entertained nor do I want pop psychology. 5. A challenging youth group. This is specific to my son's needs. We have become so disillusioned with what youth groups are today. They do little or no teaching. They try to entertain the youth with games and activities. But there's no challenge to them. No wonder we can't see the difference between Christians and non-Christian young people. 6. Looking out, not just looking in. The church needs to not just care about their own little world. Many seem to me, are just trying to build their own little kingdom. It needs to look out to those outside of the four walls and beyond.

This are some of things I'm looking in a church. It's been hard. The next few weeks we will be visiting some. I'll try to give more observations. I have much more to say about the church and what I see it's her future here in America. It's not very positive but it's not void of truth. But this merits another blog later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

About Teachers

"To teach, one must be passionate, motivated, and inspired-full of life. However, many teachers die soon after entering the system, showing up routinely everyday as part of the walking, breathing, living dead, with no hope, inspiration or motivation....Maybe our students are not on fire because we, the educators, are not on fire. Many of us have become fire fighters, pouring water on the fire of our children's hopes and dreams, rather being the fire lighter, and igniting them every day to go beyond their limited view. Be honest, which are you: fire fighter or fire lighter?"
-- Calvin Mackie quoted in "Teacher Buried at 70, Died at 25!" in Education Matters

Friday, February 15, 2008

Teaching to Change Lives Part 4

In my previous blog I mentioned the first "law" of teaching, to get to know students on a personal basis. The second law of teaching is to teach with passion. Teaching with passion means that when you share with students a particular subject, you share something that is real for you, as much as possible. Be open and admit it when you don't like a subject but show your willingness to learn. Don't fake it! Let me clarify a bit more. Maybe, you don't really "love" the subject but when you present to your students, you present it with enthusiasm. Make it believable. Let them see how you are a learner too. Don't say, "I am going to teach a subject, but I don't really like it but I have to teach it." Or, when you say, "reading is important and we should always be reading", don't just say it. Show it. Recently during our reading time with my 8th grade reluctant readers, I have begun to read as well. I have noticed a difference. They seemed to be quieter whereas before they had a hard time being quiet. I was trying to get them all quiet by "saying" things instead of showing them. Showing them tells them that I value it. It makes it believable. They don't just hear that I love reading. They see it.

I often hear from students that their teachers are boring and in part they are right. Many of us don't have the passion for the subjects we teach. Thus, when it is delivered it comes across to them as boring. If we want to impact our students we need to resuscitate our teaching and make it our passion. Embrace it. Make it personal. Make it real. Share it with passion! When you do this, they may see you as a bit "odd". They don't often see it!