Thoughts From an American

For two years, not a word, not a note.
Now he wants to know who gets my vote.
Her morality comes in the form of hate.
It’s a roaring fire nothing can abate.
Social media is a breeding ground for misinformation,
Polluting and infecting the environment of our nation.
People are demanding a utopia,
Saying those in their way have a phobia.
The battle drums ring in everyone’s ears.
Soldiers energized by a potion of fears.
It’s brother against brother,
Child against mother.
Lady Wisdom is raising her voice,
Telling us we have a choice
To walk in the light path of life
Or stumble in darkness and strife.
We dishonor the bonds that tether
Our lives and love together
Then ask, “What is worth it?”
No, it is never worth it.

Combating Comparison

John 21:15-25

            A struggle that comes to us all too naturally is comparing the events of our lives with those of people we know. Peter demonstrates this mistake that we so commonly make. When Jesus foretold the death Peter would die, Peter probably didn’t understand that Jesus was telling him he would someday be crucified, but rather that he would in his old age be forced to do something he would never choose to do. I can only imagine how anxiety must have flooded Peter’s soul when he heard Christ’s words. Upset by the bleak prediction of his future, he then became curious as to what would happen to his fellow disciple John. Would his friend have an easy life while he had to suffer? Jesus was quick to put an end to this dangerous thought process by saying, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (v.22). In other words, Jesus was saying that John’s fate had nothing to do with Peter. Peter’s responsibility was to follow Jesus no matter what. The rest of the disciples were so curious as to the news about Peter and John that they misunderstood Jesus’ answer to Peter and thought Jesus was saying that John would indeed remain alive until Jesus came back. How often are we like them, being so curious as to the lives of those around us that we miss what God is saying to us?

As weak humans, we have our own ideas as to what is fair or unfair according to how our desires are met. That is why it is our default to compare our lives with the lives of others. We know the suffering and struggles that we face every day and grow discontent when it appears that our friends have it so much easier than we do. But God has His own plan for each of His children and knows what set of circumstances will be the most effective for His goal of sanctification. We cannot know what hardships our friends are able to handle or not. I believe sometimes God withholds hardships from certain people because if they were to experience them, they would utterly fall apart. Their faith and endurance has to be built gently first. God may spare other faithful believers from trials that they would be able to endure for different reasons in His plan for them. For others among us, like Job, God allows the trials to fall like heavy rain to prove the perseverance of our faith, which glorifies Him. As Christians, we should change our outlook on heavy trials as actually a sign of God’s love and favor rather than the opposite. No matter what we are going through, we are called to trust our Heavenly Father and obey the voice of Jesus that says, “Follow me.”

Building a Temple

One day this thought came to my mind –

I should build a temple for my King.

He has called me to His service divine,

And what a better offering!

With paper and pen, I wrote a plan

Then set out to put my plan into motion.

I asked God to bless the work of my hand

With a heart full of zeal and devotion.

For this house, I used only the finest wood.

For hours and hours, in sweat and pain,

I worked, mustering all the strength I could,

Knowing in the end would be great gain.

But before my glorious temple was complete,

A mighty storm came and destroyed all I’d done.

When the storm had calmed and I was back on my feet,

I saw a mass of debris under the risen sun.

Wiping the tears from my dirt-smudged face,

I determined not to be discouraged.

I would build a new temple in a new space.

I began to build again with a heart encouraged.

But before my glorious temple was complete,

An earthquake destroyed all I’d done,

While the rumbling knocked me off my feet.

I saw yet another pile of debris under the sun.

“Oh God,” in grief I cried,

“I was building a temple for You!

Why has success to me been denied?

Why are You not blessing what I do?”

As I sat in silence next to my mess

I felt His answer travel into my heart

Pulling me out of my distress

So that to His will I would submit every part.

The real temple of God is not one made by my hand.

The person and work of Christ is the foundation,

God the master architect of His great plan.

The Spirit builds me up to be a strong beautiful creation

Through every lesson learned by the Word or adversity.

The temple of the Holy Spirit is me.




Upon Visiting the Cathedral Basilica (Spenserian Poem)

My feet are sore from walking city streets.
My eyes see buildings void of beauty there.
My heart increases its number of beats.
While wandering I feel my attention tear
Away from all else that could not compare
With beauty from a castle made of stone.
I see it is a sacred place of prayer.
The thoughts in my mind nag and drone.
My soul needs this place where I can approach God’s throne.

When I walk in, my breath is blown away.
Mosaics cover all the walls I see.
On ceiling and walls, stories they portray
Of God – His awesome works and majesty
And those who served our Lord so faithfully.
I strain my neck to see the domes so high.
Am I still in this world’s reality?
Does it look like this where the angels fly –
As they with His saints, “Holy, holy, holy” cry?

I gaze upon this beauty built by men,
A space to worship the true living Lord.
In my sight, hardships do not have their end,
But God by me deserves to be adored.
He is the God of beauty shows His Word.
His beauty inspired men to make this art.
Toward Him, His glory pulls me like a cord
To worship Him with all my mind and heart.
The beauty of His presence has peace to impart.













Sunt Leones

Today I opened one of my Norton anthologies and found this poem by an author I had not previously heard of — Stevie Smith (1902-1971). Her real name was Florence Margaret Smith but went by her nickname “Stevie.” She was actually a religious skeptic but one who was fascinated by the Bible and Christianity. I think the fact that this poem about martyrdom in the church was written by a skeptic makes the poem even more powerful, as we see a non-believer beautifully acknowledge the horrors of persecution in the early Church. As I had noticed in this poem, Smith does sometimes insert sarcasm into writing that is beautiful and solemn to more effectively prove her point.

Sunt Leones

The lions who ate the Christians on the sands of the arena
By indulging native appetites played what has now been seen a
Not entirely negligible part
In consolidating at the very start
The position of the Early Christian Church.
Initiatory rites are always bloody
And the lions, it appears
From contemporary art, made a study
Of dyeing Coliseum sands a ruddy
Liturgically sacrificial hue
And if the Christians felt a little blue–
Well people being eaten often do.
Theirs was the death, and theirs the crown undying,
A state of things which must be satisfying.
My point which up to this has been obscured
Is that it was the lions who procured
By chewing up blood gristle flesh and bone
The martyrdoms on which the Church has grown.
I only write this poem because I thought it rather looked
As if the part the lions played was being overlooked.
By lions’ jaws great benefits and blessings were begotten
And so our debt to Lionhood must never be forgotten.

General Characteristics of Anglicanism

In my last blog post, I discussed the practice of infant baptism as a major characteristic of Anglicanism. I often get asked, “What are the other differences?” The other differences are in church government and in the style of the Sunday service.

  • Church Government

Our church government consists of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. In my personal opinion, I think these layers of accountability are helpful for those in authority. I would also like to point out that in the Anglican church, the position of deacon is an ordained position, unlike in Baptist churches. The position of deacon is essentially the same as the position of assistant pastor in a Baptist church.

  • The Sunday Service: What You See

The style of an Anglican service is quite formal and reverential. It mirrors a Jewish synagogue, but with the emphasis that Christ is the fulfillment of everything, and reflects the worship in Revelation. In non-denominational or Baptist churches, the pastor doesn’t look different from the rest of the men in the congregation. In an Anglican church, all those up-front wear robes. Those in the front of the church are the priest (presbyter), deacon, lay reader, crucifer, and acolyte. The lay reader is one who leads in various Scripture readings and responsive prayers. The crucifer carries a pole with a cross on it when the service begins, when the Gospel reading is read and when the service ends. The acolyte is a young boy around 10 years old, who helps the other men with their tasks.

In the middle of the stage is the altar with a cross over it. On the altar are eight candles, recalling the manora, representing that Christians are to be the light of the world, and signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit in worship, since He is often represented in Scripture by fire. The altar is where the offering plate is brought after the offering and where the elements for the Lord’s Supper are prepared.

  • The Sunday Service: What We Do

For the service, we use the Book of Common Prayer. This book contains the order of service, called the liturgy, which includes Scripturally based prayers and Psalms that we read responsively at different times throughout the service. We do not split up into different Sunday Schools. Instead, we have a Morning Prayer service, which includes the singing of Psalms, prayers, and the reading of an Old Testament passage and a New Testament passage. Following Morning Prayer is the Holy Communion service. This service includes singing of hymns, an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading, the recitation of the Nicene Creed, and a sermon. The sermon is typically taken from one of the Scripture readings of the day. We end the service with the Lord’s Supper, which is preceded by a number of prayers we read in unison.

I could have gone on in more detail, but I hope this post provides a clearer picture of the unique characteristics of Anglican worship.



Infant Baptism

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine from college who, like me, grew up as a Baptist. I was sharing with her that I am now an Anglican. She, as well as many of my friends have, asked me what are some of the differences between Anglicanism and Baptist teaching. While I want to continue to talk about the characteristics of Anglicanism in future blog posts, today I want to talk about infant baptism as a major practice. While I know for sure that not all my readers adhere to this teaching, I hope this blog post will shed some light on the subject so that even my readers who may disagree will have a better understanding of the reasoning for infant baptism.

There are no verses that explicitly say we are to baptize our babies. On the other hand, there are no verses that say that an individual who has grown up in a Christian home is to wait until a certain age to be baptized. So there is some omission on both sides. Infant baptism makes sense when we think in terms of covenants. Reading Romans 4 is important in understanding this issue. When God created the Abrahamic covenant, God established the practice of circumcision as a “seal” and “sign” of the righteousness credited to Abraham by his faith (Rom. 4:11). Scripture makes it clear that it was not the circumcision that saved Abraham, but rather his faith. However, this sign of faith was then performed on infant males to signify their being part of that covenant and of the people of God. If it was faith that saved Old Testament believers, why didn’t a boy have to wait until he expressed faith before receiving the sign? Bryan Chapell in his book “Why Do We Baptize Infants?” explains that the word “seal” in Romans 4 refers to the image of an author closing his documents with a seal to indicate the validity of what he had written.  He says, “Just as a seal is the pledge of its author that he will uphold his promises when described conditions are met, so circumcision was God’s pledge to provide all the blessings of his covenant when the condition of faith was met.” When I was first reading about infant baptism, I thought, “What in the world does circumcision have to do with baptism?” I’ll explain. Scripture calls the Abrahamic covenant an “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7), and Galatians 3 explains how we are the children of Abraham. Therefore, we today as Christians are part of the fulfilled Abrahamic covenant. The sign of the covenant, however, has changed. Circumcision required the shedding of blood, as many practices before Christ did. But Christ has shed His blood once and for all. He established the New Covenant, but Scripture teaches that the New Covenant does not do away with the Abrahamic covenant as it did with the old Mosaic covenant. In the New Testament, we receive the command to be baptized. Baptism has the same function as circumcision. Baptism is the sign of faith and as belonging to God. Yet with the all-fulfilling work of Christ, now all believers, not just males, could participate in the new sign, as we see women being baptized (Acts 16:15, 8:12).

With the changing of the sign, believers would naturally have wanted their children to receive that blessing as well. To go from commanding that infant males receive the sign to then forbidding children to receive the sign of the covenant would have been a radical change that most likely would have elicited much discussion and debate. Much of the epistles are devoted to refuting false teaching. Yet nowhere does Paul tell believers not to apply the sign of the covenant to their children. In addition, we see several examples of leaders of homes converting to the faith, then the members of their households receiving baptism as well (Acts 16:15 & 30-34, 18:8). In none of these instances is there a mention of babies being excluded.

Another example that, I believe, strengthens the argument for infant baptism is the beautiful picture we have of Jesus blessing the little children in Luke 18:15-17: “And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Taking the words of Jesus here literally, it is hard to believe that He would forbid these “infants” from receiving the sign of the covenant.

As a final point, I think we should consider that the church has been practicing infant baptism for centuries. Recorded examples can be found as early as the second century. Believers baptism started to show up in the early stages of the Protestant Reformation, but those who practiced it were still in the minority. It was the Anabaptists in 1527, the predecessors of Baptists, who started to make believers baptism popular. Though the church has not been right about everything, longevity in the span of history should make us stop and consider the validity of a practice.

I never expected to change my firm belief that believers’ baptism was the only Biblical model for baptism, but the verses and arguments I have discussed in this post were strongly persuasive to me. However, I certainly understand the reasons for the position that does not adhere to this practice. I am thankful, that no matter which position a Christian may hold, we can still enjoy loving fellowship and unity within the body of Christ.



I Should Not Love You for What You Can Give (Sonnet)

I should not love You for what You can give.
You taught Your faithful servant Job of old,
Afflicted and with nothing how to live.
No surety is found in stores of gold.
Position does not make one virtuous.
My power fails in frail humanity.
To lust for fame and life that’s prosperous,
Is idolizing what is vanity.
With pleasure, try to live a constant high.
You’ll find it lasts but for a moment’s time.
These earthly goods cannot fulfill or tie
A soul to happiness like the Sublime.
This is the gift I ask You give to me –
Your Holy Spirit that will set me free.

Gems of Hope: Poems and Devotionals for those who have Suffered Personal Loss: A Review — the boethian acolyte

Whatever one’s worldview, whether Christian or otherwise, the problem of evil is a reality every individual must face. Sometimes, Christians can be so eager to assure each other and themselves of their hope in Christ, that they forget to express the human sympathy for the grief of loss that Jesus himself showed when he wept […]

via Gems of Hope: Poems and Devotionals for those who have Suffered Personal Loss: A Review — the boethian acolyte