Sermon: “Stuck In The Middle”

taken from http://www.jamyesack.com (All Rights Reserved)

Below is the link to the sermon I preached entitled “Stuck In The Middle” based on John 18:33-7 and Revelation 1:4b-7.

Sermon Link

[audio http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/13a5updhv0/stuck_in_the_middle.mp3|titles=Stuck In The Middle]
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Edit: Changed audio player link from box.net to Kiwi6. (8:15pm 6-30-2013)

Review: “Soul Repair: Recovering From Moral Injury After War”

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

English: A folded American flag held by a United States Marine at the funeral of Douglas A. Zembiec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have never served in the military.  I have had family and in-laws who served this country in a variety of capacities though the armed forces.  Now more than ever, the public is keenly aware of the movements and campaigns of the US military are leading in the Middle East and around the world.  New stations cover a returning solider, coming back home to a throng of people cheering and waving US flags; we get choked up when we see a solider surprising their family; we stand and clap during sporting events when a service person is recognized on the jumbo-tron.

While all of these things are wonderful expressions of thankfulness and gratitude, what about what is going on in the inside of the solider, inside their mind, their heart and their soul?  Can one ever understand what life is like in service to the country?  Can one ever understand the what life is like in the line of fire? to shoot a gun? to have bombs go off near you? to lose a friend? to kill someone?

How does one (if ever) reintegrate into a fast paced, self centered, on the go American society?

The book Soul Repair: Recovering From Moral Injury After War takes a look at the notion of moral injury in returning combat veterans.

Moral injury results from having to make difficult moral choices under extreme conditions, experiencing morally anguishing events or duties, witnessing immoral acts, or behaving in ways that profoundly challenge moral conscience and identity and the values that support them. Moral injury is found in feelings of survivor guilt, grief, shame, remorse, anger, despair, mistrust, and betrayal by authorities. In its most severe forms, it can destroy moral identity and the will to live. The struggle of combat veterans to return to civilian life can be even more difficult than serving in war and last a lifetime. (taken from http://www.brite.edu/soulrepair/)

The book profiles five different soldiers from different campaigns that the US has been involved with and their struggle with their own morality and faith and how their soul was injured during their deployment.  The book is written by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini who both had family member serve in combat; both articulate that their loved ones were not the same people after their deployments.

This is an eye opening book to the pains and injury (not just physical) that combat has. I guess sub conscientiously knew it but I never connected the dots.  This text brings moral injury to the forefront, to a place where we as a society and nation are faced with it.  By hearing the stories of struggle and pain that the soldiers went through the reader is taken to a different place, into a world that most of us are not privy to.

The book states that returning combat vets are at a statsically greater risk for suicide and violence; this leads many to think that the pangs of war and combat are deeper than just what is reported on television.

Soul Repair does not hold back on its critique of the Veterans Administration and the US government for not support returning veterans.

Selected Quotes:

Moral injury results when soldiers violate their core moral beliefs, and in evaluating their behoavior negatively, they feel they no longer live in a reliable, meaningful world and can no longer be regarded as decent human beings. (page XV)

Veterans who struggle with moral injury are struggling to recover their lost sense of humanity, which they require to reintegrate into the human community. No easy shortcut can bring them home. (page 54)

Engaging in collective conversations about moral injury and war can help us all to strengthen the moral fabric of society and the connections that tie us to the rest of the world. Our collective engagement with moral injury will teach us more about the impact of our actions and choices on each other, enable us to see the world from other perspectives and chart pathways for our future. (page 114)

The Disciples of Christ in 2011 voted to look into the notion of moral injury and how the church can help veterans from all campaigns with moral injury. Thanks to a grant Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas opened the Soul Repair Center.

I support the work of the Soul Repair Center and I pray that it will be used for the healing and restoration of all people who are faced with moral injury.  The authors note that the church used to assist with the transition of those returning from war who had “shed human blood.” They had to undergo “a rehabilitation process that included reverting to the status of someone who had not yet been baptized and was undergoing training in Christian faith. … this ancient form of quarantine was required because early Christians understood that killing or participating in war, regardless of of the reasons, injured the souls of those how fought. (page xviii)”

I recommend this book to anyone who has or has had a member of their family in military combat, no matter how long ago.  Moral injury is something that has been with humanity ever since the first war broke out.

 

Book Link
5 out of 5 stars
★★★★★
In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Sermon: “Here Is My Servant”

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

 

Below is the link to the sermon I preached entitled “Here Is My Servant” based on Isaiah 42:1-9.

Sermon Link
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Guest Post: What Teens and Their Parents Should Know About Human Trafficking

This is the second guest post from Kimberly Rae be sure to check out her website out at http://www.kimberlyrae.com


I grew up loving Nancy Drew books. She was always getting kidnapped or held hostage. The bad guys would say, “We’re going to kill you,” but then they’d go to the grocery store or somewhere else, giving her a couple of hours to come up with a creative way to escape.

 

Thanks in part to Nancy, I grew up thinking that to be captured was cool, that it would be exciting to get close to danger because there was always a way out, and I would be a heroine.

Then I grew up. I found out that Nancy Drew isn’t real, and the bad guys aren’t that stupid.

Sadly, there are girls who don’t figure that out in time. I have a friend who works with prostitutes. Several of them said they got into prostitution after watching the movie Pretty Woman, about a prostitute who meets a nice, rich guy, and they fall in love and live happily ever after. These girls thought that might happen to them.

It didn’t.

Since my suspense/romance novels on human trafficking have come out (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future), I’ve had the opportunity to speak to lots of groups of women and girls. Teen girls are especially important to me, because in America, they are the ones at risk. The average age for a girl in the US to get trafficked is 12-14. Traffickers are good at seeing what a girl is seeking and becoming that…for a time, until they are trapped.

I want to talk with teen girls because they can make a difference. Not just by getting involved in different activist groups. They can make a difference themselves, where they are. And you can, too. Here’s how:

For parents:
1. Teach teen girls to find their worth in Jesus Christ, so they don’t look for it in dangerous places.
2. Keep open communication with your teenager. Be the kind of person they can come to if they are struggling.
3. Be real with your teen about the dangers out there, especially on the internet. Predators can pose as young girls, or even be young girls working for traffickers. Know who your kids hang out with online.

For teen girls:
1. Know how much you are loved and valued by God. The One who made the universe says you are worth dying for! That’s pretty amazing. (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 31:3, Zephaniah 3:17, John 3:16)
2. Don’t look for your worth, or try to prove your worth, by your looks, your body, or the attention you can get from guys, especially the older, edgy kind. I know if feels powerful, but it is often a door to a place you don’t want to go.
3. Please don’t post immodest pictures of yourself on facebook. That makes you a ripe target for exploitation.
4. Never, ever go alone to meet someone you met over the internet. If someone online even suggests a meeting, tell your parents about it. I’m in my 30s and I’ve been propositioned online–it happens.
5. Befriend the girls on the fringe, the ones who–if they disappeared–people would assume they ran away. Those girls are targeted, so your friendship could actually save their lives.
6. If you know your worth in Jesus, share it with other girls, so they don’t need to be looking for it in the wrong places either.

Nancy Drew stories aren’t true, but that does not mean that happy endings are impossible. We can change the world, one person, one heart at a time.

Let’s start with the hearts of the girls closest to us.


Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. Her Christian suspense/romance novels on international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Rae is currently working on a new series on trafficking for teens. Find out more at www.kimberlyrae.com or like Kimberly’s facebook page, Human Trafficking Stolen Woman, to get updates on the fight against human trafficking.

The BSA And The Affirmation of All

Boy Scouts of America Celebrates 100 Years

Boy Scouts of America Celebrates 100 Years (Photo credit: Daniel M. Reck)

Once again the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are back in the news– nothing new really just the same debate on whether to include openly homosexual members and/or leaders into the organization. Recently the BSA voted to include homosexual children as scouts. The this change however did not apply to openly gay leaders. The BSA vote stated that those adults would not be allowed to serve, lead, camp and mold young minds.

As one can imagine this has been a hot bed for debate and even after this particular vote, it will not end there. Some groups are threatening to remove support of the BSA if the decision is not reversed before the January 1, 2014 effective date.

The organizer of the biggest groups against the change, OnMyHonor.Net, decided to post a response to the vote. Part of the statement reads:

The Boy Scouts of America has a logo that bears the phrase ‘Timeless Values.’ Today, the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith. It has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion.
The saddest part of today’s decision is what the organization is teaching our children and young people in the program.
The BSA is teaching our kids that when your values become unpopular, just change them.
The BSA is teaching our kids that when your convictions are challenged, just cave to peer pressure.
The BSA is teaching our kids that public opinion polls are more important than principles.
Today, the BSA is teaching our kids that you should not stand up for what is right instead you should stand up for what is popular.

So OnMyHonor.Net, the Scouts are the sole arbiter of morality? Did the Scouts have these same conversations regarding segregation? For much of the South, de-segregating was “unpopular” and many people’s “convictions were challenged.” Were the Scouts wrong to allow multiple races to learn the important skills of Scouting together? Didn’t public opinion polls say it was wrong while many people stood by their “principles?” When did inclusion become something contrary to a “timeless value?” The BSA is not teaching children that their convictions are incorrect, they are teaching them that to be an honorable person means that you will have to handle situations with differing groups of people. The world outside of the BSA’s doors is not one of merit badges, campfires and helping people across the street. The world is complex and difficult at times and yes there are people who look, think, act and belive differently than you do.

How is this a bad thing?

The Scouts’ change I believe was for the better; yes it was outside influences that were motivating these changes, but sometimes we need a kick in the pants from someone else to make us get up and do something.

For the BSA’s first attempt is decent but nowhere near where it needs to be. The current rule change will effectively still support the current standard of opposition to homosexuals in the BSA. The BSA will tell youths who are struggling with identity or those wrestling with the feelings of homosexuality that you belong in the BSA; you belong– to learn skills for life and build character…. Until you are too old to be a scout then we want nothing to do with you. Once you age out of Scouts as an open homosexual male you will have no place among the leadership of BSA no matter your interest, skill set or passion. Why would anyone want to be apart of a group that will not recognize them when they are adults? Does the leadership of the BSA believe that Jamborees and camp outs will miraculously make them straight? I doubt it.

So BSA do the right thing and include both leaders and potential scouts. Do not let the fear of public opinion or losing members (who might start an alternative Scouting program or withdraw support like the Southern Baptist Convention) stand in the way for doing what is correct, moral and right. In doing so you will be able to share your message if duty, honor, respect, and character segment of the population that has been largely marginalized.
More good will come from this than harm. I promise… Scouts honor.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Scout Oath (or Promise)
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

Grace and Welcome to All

Christian College of Georgia is affiliated wit...

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)–it’s OK… many people have never heard of it, too.

I could bore you with the history of the Disciples of Christ but in a nut shell it is the oldest Christian denomination founded on American soil and follows a few basic principles.

  • Ministry of All Believers
  • Open Communion to all who believe in Christ regardless of membership or affiliation
  • Freedom of Belief
  • Baptism by Immersion (but if you were sprinkled… that’s cool too)
  • Local Church Autonomy

You can read more about the Disciples by clicking here and watch a nice video by clicking here.

Every two years the denomination gets together for a conference of sorts called the General Assembly. It is a time of worship, reflection, sharing, learning and discussion. Every year ministries and groups with in the denomination go through a process of proposing resolutions before the Assembly. There is a lengthy process of discernment before the general board sets the agenda. In years past things have been debated ranging from immigration reform to moral injury study to how the church understands itself in the 21st century and everything in between.

This year one resolution in particular is generating a lot of buzz. It’s resolution 1327. You can read it in full here.

In a nutshell the resolution calls upon the church to be a place of grace and welcome to all people understanding that all our welcomed at the table of God and thus that radical grace is extended to all.

Some people believe that this resolution is over reaching with regards to how the church is structured. If the church is autonomous from the national church then who a church welcomes or not welcomes is up to them.  Some believe that it is a good resolution but fails to address certain issues that have been plaguing the DOC for many year.

But I think it goes deeper than that.

I believe that this resolution calls upon the church to be the church. In the church we have put up artificial barriers. We decide who is in and who is out, who has the power and who is a by standard. The church needs to step up to the plate and open its doors to all people from every walk of life and even differing sexual orientation. If the church is to have any relevance in the 21st century and beyond then it has to stop judging people first and then giving them a relationship. It works the other way around. People (especially those disenfranchised with the church) are not looking for a place for people think they are better than everyone else in the world all under the guise of religion. No, people are looking for something greater than themselves and for a community that does more than pay lip service to how all people “have fallen short of the Glory of God.”

After people are welcomed despite their faults (or perceived faults) then and only then can a congregation have conversations about sin, morality, interpretation and the authority of scripture or whatever. It’s about relationships first not judgment. Christ welcomed people from all walks of life and even had the audacity to call a Samaritan good (a big non-no in his time).

How can grace and welcome ever be a bad thing? In my opinion never.

Watch the video below; I believe it articulates the intent of the resolution well.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Sermon: “You Will See Great Things”

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

Below is the link to the sermon I preached entitled “You Will See Great Things” based on John 1:43-51

 

Sermon Link
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 

Sermon: “Doctor, Doctor”

Now that I am a Chaplain in Beaumont, I thought I wouldn’t be preaching as much, but I was wrong.   I have been asked by a Disciples of Christ congregation in Beaumont (Northwood Christian) to fill their pulpit for the month of June.  I was honored that they asked and happy to do it.

Below is the link to the sermon I preached entitled “Doctor, Doctor.”

Sermon Link
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

I’m One Of The Coolest Dads On The Internet??

Today I found out that I was listed in the Top Five Coolest Dads on the Internet by People Magazine!  They ranked me number 3!

Here is what they wrote:

When Evan Dolive, a reverend from Houston heard about Victoria’s Secret’s Bright Young Things collection, he wasn’t exactly running to the mall. Based on observations of the collection – which ranged from polka-dotted hipsters screen-printed with the phrase “Feeling Lucky?” to thongs emblazoned with the words “Call me” on the front – he was worried the iconically sexy retailer was targeting middle school-aged girls. And so he thought of his daughter, a 3-year-old who loves princesses, peanut butter and jelly and drawing pictures for people.

“I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence,” he wrote in a March letter on his blog. “Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? … I want my daughter to know that she is perfect the way she is; I want my daughter to know that no matter what underwear she is wearing, it does not define her.” –Written by Alison Schwartz on people.com

I am honored to be selected for this list.  As I have said many times before (and will say many times again), I never thought that my letter to Victoria’s Secret would ever garner this much attention.

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting me on this journey!

A BIG THANK YOU TO PEOPLE.COM AND THE AUTHOR ALISON SCHWARTZ!

If you would like to see the others listed click here for the full article.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

I Take Children’s Books Too Seriously

I enjoy a good book.  I’ve liked books from when I was a child reading when I was three.  I didn’t care for the readings that were forced upon me in High School English but after college I learned to enjoy reading again.   I like being caught up in a story, finding a book that you can’t put down and having that sense of accomplishment when I close the book for the final time.  I like to delve into a person’s biography to learn about their development and the reasonings for beginning their life’s calling.  Ever since I attended seminary my list of books on my “to-read” list has been ever growing.  Due to the rise of technology books can go with us with general ease.  I love my Kindle and when I don’t have it I know the Kindle App is right there for me.

But all of that goes out the window when it comes to children’s books.  To be honest, I love children’s books.  It started when I was a kid; my mother is a Kindergarten teacher and I liked to read her latest addition.  I thought they were cute, funny, simplistic and even poignant.

When I became a parent I knew that at some point the daily routine would including reading stories to my child.  I knew the stats about verbal ability and cognition with respect to a child hearing the language.

But that changes when you have to read the same book over and over again before bed with your child.  I, like many parents, have tried the reverse psychology to get out of reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” for the 147th time that month, but it never works.  Hiding them never works either; we have to look through the entire bookshelf until the book “magically” reappears.

So whatever the book choice is, I read it, sometimes by memory and sometimes with a smile on my face.  Sometimes as I am reading the book in my head I am adding witty banter and commentary for two reasons: 1) it helps me to stay awake and engaged in the story and 2) the book will be entertaining to me and not a chore.  As hard as I try it can be difficult to be fully present at bedtime readings.

But maybe through it all I am taking children’s books too seriously.  Have I been jaded by my 30 year old eyes in which I see the world?  Do I see children’s books as more fantasy than reality to which we are propping up our children?  Do I need to learn to relax and enjoy some easy reading?  Maybe…

For example, my daughter has this book about going to the doctor.  It’s a cute book but there are some glaring issues that I see in it.  First, the boy is sick and needs to go to the doctor.  His mother takes him but also takes his friend along with him because she had a tummy ache last week and needed to go back for a check up.  I get what the author is trying to do here; the author is trying to show that sometimes we have to go to doctor even if we feel better to ensure everything is ok.  But that is not what I have an issue with.  First, the two children are holding hands throughout the book.  My first thought was “isn’t the boy sick and won’t that transfer the germs to the girl?”  Secondly, is it legal for the mom to take another person’s child to the doctor?  I used to work in a healthcare setting and my HIPAA alarm was going off.  Finally, the examination room was the size of a small house.  The room had a table, an area to play for the child who wasn’t being seen, a desk with a computer for the doctor and a view of a beautiful landscape.  In what fantasy land does this place exist?  In my experience of exam rooms, they are about the size of a janitor’s closet and have maybe two chairs and several copies of Zoo Books from 1987 in them, with diagrams of the human body and Care Bears adorning the walls.

Maybe my beef with children’s books is that I wish that they could be reality.  In children’s books the world is so much simpler.  Animals talk and walk and in some cases run for President, the doctor is not a scary place to go, there is generally a resolution of conflict is a manner of distributive justice and good moral teaching.  As a father that’s what I want for my daughter, but I know that truly is a fantasy.  I know that the world is not as happy and pretty as the books make it, but maybe that is why we read them in the first place.

Maybe I do take them too seriously from my adult perspective, but for a child I believe that they can be a glimpse of what can be and how humanity can act or even should act.  Books offer an escape from the world around us; they allow us to enter into a place for maybe a moment to find respite and to use the power of our imagination.

I have no plans to stop reading to my children or stop taking them seriously, but I do hope for the idyllic worlds found within the pages of children’s books will come to life in their lives.

Here’s to the dreams that children have, may they come true.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan