Category Archives: Personal Reflections
In my blog:the masterful suborning of Christians by the Evil One, I talked about how the leftist media and some christians are consumed with hate and disdain for the President, while North Korea develops weapon that is aimed at destroying the United States. I am astonished that the leftist media and liberals are surprised that North Korea test fired a missile that could hit the mainland of continental US. The outrage over this recent missile launch is laughable. We have wasted more than one year and millions of dollars on the so called Russian investigation into our election, while our service members die in large numbers as a result cuts to our defense budgets, making it difficult for the military to service it’s equipments or purchase state of the art armaments to fight and win wars. Then you have those who want the President impeached because he is not presidential (what ever that means ). It’s time for these individuals to wake up! Maybe believe in God or something other. I can’t for the life of me understand how people will wake every morning chearing the failure of another person simply because he/she doesn’t fit their mold, instead of thanking God for being alive. Some of these individuals call themselves Christians and are ready to stand in the place of God, ready unleash their wrath on the infidels……..
One of the challenging tasks of being a healthcare and a US Army chaplain is being able to support people of all faith traditions. At my military unit of assignment, the Soldiers don’t see me as a priest, they see me as a fellow Soldier and their chaplain. They come to me with their emotional and spiritual concerns in hopes that they can find help. They come to me because as a Staff officer and personal adviser to the brigade Commander, I am what the Army calls the (SME) “subject matter expert” on Religion. And one of my job requirements is to enforce Title 10, of the US Code, free exercise of religion for all Soldiers within the brigade. But the challenge is that there are many Soldiers that have no religious preference, and some who claim they are not religious.
Part of my clinical pastoral education is learning how to support people in their religion, faith tradition or lack thereof. It used to be a struggle for me, because as a Christian, I know what the Bible teaches as the instrument of salvation. I know that if anyone confesses with the mouth that Jesus is Lord, that person shall be saved. I know that in God’s eyes there is no Jew nor Gentile, for the same God is the Lord of all. And so how can I minister to the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists and people from other religious group? Then I read Paul Tillich, an American theologian and philosopher, who describes religion as the essence of ultimate concern. That which concerns us the most. For me, it is faith in the risen Lord expressed through Christianity, seconded by my family. For other people, it could be something different, and it is incumbent on me to find out what ‘that ultimate concern’ is for the people to whom I minister, and support them in whatever that is, but at the same time not endorsing, and also not compromising my faith conviction.
In the 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul goes into a very dense theological discourse, and concludes with this declaration: everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). In order words, anyone who does not call on the name of the Lord shall not be saved. But what are people saved from? Why do we have to be saved? I am not a slave. I am my own person? What do you mean saved?
Historical background: Paul is working with Deuteronomy 30. This passage is full of promises and life. It was well studied by the Jews of Paul’s era. They studied it carefully to find out what God is going to do for them after all the years they have suffered under the Gentile yoke or the pagan nations. Why would they study this passage to find out what God has for them? Chapters 28-30 are the closing remarks of Moses’ charge to the Israelites before they enter into the Promised Land. These chapters highlight what will happen to Israel in the days to come. If they keep the covenants, God will bless them. If they don’t, the curses will come upon them. Moses had premonition that Israel will disobey God’s word and then be taken into exile. That is what chapters 28 and 29 of Deuteronomy are all about. But chapter 30 has a fresh word. A word of hope. God promises that even when Israel has gone into Exile and suffer affliction in the hands of their oppressor, if they turn from their wicked ways and turn to Him, He will rescue them.
God promises not only to rescue them, but also to transform them, change their hearts so that they can keep His laws. The exile will be over, the curse will be broken; and Israel will be saved. But there are conditions to be met before God rescues them. They have to return to Him. They have to embrace his laws and do them. God had made it easier for them to return to Him by giving them the gift of grace, which will be like the original law. This gift of grace is found in the person of Christ! And anyone who believes in Him, calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This is exactly what Paul is saying in this passage. The Messiah has already come down to you. You don’t have to go down into the depths to find Him. He is God’s gift of grace to you like the original law but in a new way.
When the word grace is referenced, a common understanding is that grace is ‘unmerited favor.’ It seems to me from my shallow understanding of biblical languages, in this case the Hebrew language that there is another meaning to grace. Will you be interested in learning about this other meaning? Stay tuned!
My call to the Christian vocation did not come until I was thirty years of age. Maybe because I was one of those people who did not think much of ministry, or among those who had set their minds on what they wanted to do in life. My journey to finding God or God finding me took me to more than one avenue and also led me to try a religion other than Christianity. When I finally accepted the call, I wanted to do things differently. I was not impressed with the ostentatious lifestyle of the ministers particularly the televangelists, who make it seem like prosperity is the litmus test of one’s faith. I wanted to be a good student of the word with the view to rightly diving the word but with humility and impeccable cadence-a task that I have done a poor job accomplishing. But I also understood the grace of God and His relentless availability to me in times of distress, when all human options lie outside the realm of possibility. I had this bold assurance that no matter whatever situation I faced, I will pray my way through it. Maybe this was because this ministry thing was God’s idea and not mine. Maybe because I saw myself as the worst candidate for the job but God insisted that I am the man for the job. However, for whatever reason I had this arrogance (in a good way) that when I pray that things would change. The most amazing thing that was people close to me knew this. Ten years ago, my former spouse (bless her heart) was pregnant with our first child. As she progressed in her pregnancy, she was told by the doctors that our child would have birth defect, and advised her to abort the baby. She was troubled but she did not accept the doctors’ recommendation. Some Christian ministers and believers alike have the tendency to make disparaging statements about the doctors when they make recommendations based on their expertise and their wealth of experience relative to health issues especially if they report a poor prognosis. They make it seem as if the physicians are not part of God’s healing source. I hear things like “the doctors said I have two days to live, but that is a deception from hell, they are not God,” and many more negative things alike; almost making it seem as if there are no Christian doctors. In my case, I knew that the doctors were honest about their finding; and meant well by asking us to abort the baby because of the difficulty raising a child with such health challenge as they have reported about our son, but I also know that there is a God, who is still in the business of healing, restoration, and recreation. One morning, while I was in the shower thinking about this report about our baby’s health and the aftermath effect it would have on us, the Spirit of the Lord said to me, “he would be fine, do not be afraid! Nothing would happen to him. I don’t remember if I told my former spouse about this experience or not, but on June 25, 2004, one hour past my birthday, I was called into the OR of the Rhode Island hospital to see my son for the first time.
He was the best looking baby I had ever seen! He is ten years old today. Blessing is one of the smartest and kindhearted young man there is. Everything about Blessing is so special. He started walking before he was nine months, and did not crawl. He stopped using diapers on his own, had all his teeth almost at the same time, and the lists go on. Blessing is always willing to help, and has a calming presence. He also has analytical mind, and his grandmother thinks that he makes facial expressions similar to mine. Blessing is very caring, and loving. Join me today as we celebrate his 10th birthday!
Welcome to Saint Michael’s Anglican Church! Today is Trinity Sunday!
WHAT IS TRINITY SUNDAY?
The first Sunday after Pentecost is the Festival of the Holy Trinity. On this day, the church rejoices in the impenetrable mystery that God is triune (three-in-one) — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How the Lord can be one God in three distinct persons is completely beyond the ability of any human to understand. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians accept this incomprehensible mystery as a fundamental article of faith.
WHAT IS THE ATHANASIAN CREED?
The Athanasian Creed is the Christian church’s wonderful and profound confession of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. This creed takes its name from the influential North African (Egyptian) bishop and theologian, Athanasius (293-373 AD), who was once thought to be its author. Athanasius creed was a response to Arius’ claim that Jesus is not co equal with God the Father. He claims that Jesus was created and cannot be coequal with the Father. This sparked a controversy that a church council had to be called. It was at the council in Constance that the Lord bishop Athanasius presented this creed. Because of its length, it is not recited in church on a regular basis. However, many congregations including Saint Michael’s use it on Trinity Sunday. This creed, along with the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, is one of the three ecumenical creeds that have been universally accepted and confessed by the Christian church since ancient times. It is very interesting that this feast comes after the giving of the Spirit of God (The Pentecost), when God’s indwelling presence came to take abode in human kind, making them temples. No longer would people to go Jerusalem to experience God’s presence. The Spirit of God now lives in them.
WHY IS TRINITY CELEBRATED ON THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST?
How God can be one God in three Persons is a mystery. Although it is clearly taught in the Bible (for example, in Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 13:14), it can never be understood or rationalized — it can only be accepted by faith. Since faith comes only through the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace, it is appropriate that this glorious mystery is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost, the great festival of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We at Saint Michael’s Anglican Church order our worship life around a liturgical calendar that has its roots in the practice and ritual of the ancient church. We follow a liturgical calendar because it is a guide that helps us remember God’s marvelous plan of salvation accomplished for the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While nothing in the Bible commands us to do this, we find that annually retracing the story of our salvation serves to make us well grounded in our faith. It also helps to connect us to the church catholic, the community of believers in Christ of all times, ancient and modern.
As you worship with us today, may the peace of God keep your hearts and mind in the knowledge and the love of God, and of His dear Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Yours for the sake of Christ!
The Reverend Blessing U. Jacobs
Priest & Cup Bearer: A Tribute to my son Levi Nehemiah Jacobs on his Eight Birthday
Eight years ago I was thinking of a Biblical name for our second son. Having completed over year of Greek and Hebrew then (For those of you know what I am talking about; because you think you‘ve all got it all figured out after one semester of the languages only to find out that maybe not), I came up with names like Melek, Mikael; Melek-zedek etc. My spouse did not buy any of that, she asked “who names their child Zedek?” So during one of my morning devotions, I heard the Spirit of God say to me name him Levi. My devotion that morning had nothing to do with choosing a name for our son. At the end of my devotion that mooring, I informed my spouse (then) that we will name our son Levi and went ahead to explain how I came to that decision.
What Amazed me was that she knew the name she had chosen for our son’s middle name all the time that I was trying to find one. She said “I will name him Nehemiah.” I was not sure of her criteria for choosing the name, but it sounded good to me. Not only did it sound good to me, but I also know that many scholars believe that Nehemiah “the cup bearer” was also a priest from the Tribe of Levi. I thought it was a confirmation from God to name our son Levi. Our son Levi is indeed a priest.
Levi never mentions ten words without referencing God or something Christian related. Sometimes, when I am watching news and he happens to come into the living room, I change the channel if it has inappropriate content for kids. He would say to me, “you are Christian why are you watching bad show?” I will have to explain to him that it is not a bad show, but that I changed channel because it was not appropriate for his age. Levi cannot sleep without the Bible being read and prayer said. Each time I am dropping him and his brother off at the their mother‘s, if I forget to anoint them, he will remind me, and he has to be the first one to anointed.
Nehemiah: From Centralized Faith to Localized Faith
One could argue that Nehemiah was as important to the formation of Judaism in the same fashion that the Prophet Moses was to the creation of the nation of Israel. In the book that bears his name, we learn of how Nehemiah obtained the favor of King Artaxerxes, which enabled him to organize a movement that rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. Not only did Nehemiah obtain the king’s favor to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, he also rebuilt the people’s lives.
After Nehemiah secured the “shalom” of city of Jerusalem, he selected certain division of the Levites and charged them not to conduct worship in Jerusalem but to go to the towns and the villages throughout Israel to teach the Jewish faith there and provide priestly services. The temple became dispersed to the people rather than the people coming to the temple. This is a very remarkable achievement by Nehemiah because up until this time all Jewish worship took place in the temple in Jerusalem with the Levites solely assigned to minister that worship.
Nehemiah’s community organizing skills led to the initiation of the synagogue worship system which in about hundred years became the center of religious instruction, decision making, and maintaining of the ethics of the Israelites. About three hundred years later, the synagogue became as important as the temple as the Jews went to their local synagogues to receive instruction and to worship God no matter where they lived, and their only obligation to Jerusalem was to travel there three times a year to celebrate the feasts of First fruit, Passover, and Booths. This is how localized faith became a centralized institution and it all happened because Nehemiah led a delegation that not only rebuilt the city but also rebuilt the peoples lives. The synagogue became the model that was used by the Christians to form the local Christian Churches. The synagogue became the Church and the Rabi became pastor or priest. The book of the law (Torah) became the Bible. It was the synagogue that formed Judaism into a movement that would eventually give us Jesus. And this happened because Nehemiah was not blindfolded by the comfortable lifestyle and luxury associated with “Susa” (Washington DC maybe?) and did not allow affluence to hinder him from pondering on the plight of his people and the city of Jerusalem. I pray God’s shalom on my beloved son Levi on His eight birthday on November 27, 2013 Amen!