Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Latest HNN (Henry News Network) Update

Today makes one month and five (5) days since I resigned my position as a Paralegal at the South Carolina Department of Social Services.  It still seems a bit weird to say that, but I've gotten used to it.  While I had a plethora of reasons for my decision (of which I will not publicly discuss on a blog), the main reasons were family and grad school.

My wife Jenn and I adopted a baby girl, Selah, in October 2011, who is now 16 month old as of yesterday.  I often ended up working 50-60 hours a week, with no overtime pay, and missed out on bedtime, play time, and dinner time--in other words, some key times for Daddy/Daughter time.  Thanks to the holiday months of October, November, and December, I've been able to hold her, play with and talk to her, help her learn to walk, and see her take her first steps.  I realized during that time that if I continued at this job, working the hours I was working, I would miss out on many other firsts in Selah's life.  And while I appreciated having a job and the work I did in prosecuting child and adult neglect and abuse cases in Family Court, my job, in my opinion, took me away from my family.

In addition to family time, Graduate School played a major role in my decision to resign.  Now that I am almost finished with the General Ed requirements, the majority of the classes I need to complete my program are offered only during normal work hours, not to mention my practicum and internship.  I enrolled in my program in 2011--the same year we adopted Selah--and took a school break from June 2012 to December 2012 because I was needed more at home.  Due to that break, I have less time to finish my essential course work.  The only way I can effectively complete my schooling and get my Master's Degree in Psychology and my Ed. S. in School Psychology is for me to go to school full time.  Which I can't do if I classes are only offered during work hours, and I still can't do if I am putting in 12-15 hour days at the job.

So, due to those two main concerns, I resigned in December 2012, and left SCDSS in January 2013.  While I am happy that I no longer have DSS stress in my life, I do wish the agency the best in it's future endeavors.

As I prepared to leave the agency, I didn't have a chance to say thank you to a number of co-workers, legal professionals, and especially the Family Court Judges of the Ninth Circuit.  I have learned from all of you, argued with you, complained with you, and and laughed with you. More importantly, I consider myself blessed to have the chance to serve the families of Charleston and Berkeley Counties with you.  Thank you for your dedication to the families of the Ninth Circuit.

With that said, now that I am a private citizen again, I got something to say...

(Jump on Soapbox):

The majority of employees and case managers at DSS work long hours for little to no money compared to their counterparts in the private sector, mainly because they care about the families and children of our state. Not everyone at DSS is the enemy, and I wish that the media provided fair and balanced news coverage when it comes to DSS.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for DSS, because child abuse and neglect would be unheard of, and families had access to resources necessary to provide for each other.  It would also mean that churches and the private sector would be doing more to help their communities and Government could get back to its main tasks of punishing evil and protecting my rights.  Unfortunately, this is NOT a perfect world, people don't have access to necessary resources, Government is too stretched out thin carry out its actual functions, and churches don't have the money or volunteers to carry out the mandate to take care of orphans and widows.  And sadly, we still have plenty of legit cases of child abuse and neglect in our society.

The case managers and legal professionals at DSS are doing the absolute best they can with what they've been given, and again with little pay and little support and resources (both physical resources and employees).  The last thing on a DSS employee's mind is "messing up your life."  Cut them some slack, and tell them 'Thank You' for their hard work sometime. They are people just like you.

(Jumping off soapbox)

That felt pretty good there.  Thanks for indulging me.  I'm gonna have to blog more often now...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When Last We Left Our Hero...

           He was in the process of being ordained a Deacon in the Presbyterian Church inAmerica, applying for Grad School, and preparing for an adoption.  All of this feels like it’s been a long, LONG time ago.  A bit too long, I think. 
                So, UPDATE TIME:
1)      The adoption process is coming along.  Our social worker came by today for our home study, and all that we need to do is get our SLED criminal background checks to her (SLED, for those not in the know, is the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division).  Jenn was able to retrieve her report online without a problem. Me—not so much.  I’m going to have to send off for the SLED check, and hopefully I’ll be able to get the results back this week.  
2)      The Diaconate is definitely a calling, and not one to be taken lightly.  Even though I have volunteered and participated in many service opportunities in my life, I will honestly say that none of them have truly prepared me for the office of Deacon.  I’m truly blessed, however, to be able to serve with some other wonderful men at my church, and it’s a blessing to be able to serve.  One of the challenges in serving in active church ministry is the possibility of burnout, and getting tired of serving.  I am still learning how to better take care of my spiritual life so that I can effectively serve, and also I’m learning when to stop and rest rather than to keep going until I hurt.   

3)      I start Grad School on August 22.  I’m taking two classes this Fall—Human Growth and Development and Applied Measurement and Technology.  As it stands, my plan is to take 2 classes a semester until internship/practicum time, and work full-time while I’m in school.  I’m excited, but a little bit nervous.  It’s been YEARS since I’ve been in a school/classroom setting, and I already have a lot on my plate.  I’m going to need to work hard at balancing my time in order to serve well with school, and to best take care of my family. 

     That said, the past several months have been interesting, and there are still some changes that I’m unable to discuss yet.  Hopefully now that I’m back in school and getting on a schedule, I’ll be able to do a better job of blogging and keeping everyone posted on what’s going on.  Until then, ciao!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Heidelberg Catechism, Week 31

Lord’s Day 31
83. What is the Office of the Keys?
The preaching of the Holy Gospel and Christian discipline; by these two the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers and shut against unbelievers.1
1 Mt 16:18-19, 18:18; Lk 24:46-47; Jn 20:21-23; 1 Cor 1:23-24
84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the Holy Gospel?
In this way: that, according to the command of Christ, it is proclaimed and openly witnessed to believers, one and all, that as often as they accept with true faith the promise of the Gospel, all their sins are really forgiven them of God for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, to all unbelievers and hypocrites, that the wrath of God and eternal condemnation abide on them so long as they are not converted.1 According to this testimony of the Gospel, God will judge men both in this life and in that which is to come.
1 Isa 58:1; Mt 16:19; Jn 3:31-36, 8:24, 20:21-23; Acts 10:43; 2 Cor 2:15-16
85. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by Christian discipline?
In this way: that, according to the command of Christ, if any under the Christian name show themselves unsound either in doctrine or in life, and after several brotherly admonitions do not turn from their errors or evil ways, they are complained of to the Church or to its proper officers; and, if they neglect to hear them also, are by them denied the holy sacraments and thereby excluded from the Christian communion, and by God Himself from the kingdom of Christ; and if they promise and show real amendment, they are again received as members of Christ and His Church.1
1 Mt 18:15-20; Lk 15:20-24; 1 Cor 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Cor 2:6-11; 2 Thes 3:14-15; 2 Jn 10-11

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heidelberg Catechism: Weeks 28, 29, and 30

Like last week, I'm including all three lessons on the Lord's Supper as recorded in the Heidelberg Catechism. As always, the full catechism can be found here

Lord’s Day 28
75. How is it signified and sealed to you in the Holy Supper that you partake of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and all His benefits?
Thus: that Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup in remembrance of Him, and has joined therewith these promises:1 first, that His body was offered and broken on the cross for me and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, as certainly as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, which are given me as certain tokens of the body and blood of Christ.
1 Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-20; 1 Cor 10:16-17, 11:23-25, 12:13
76. What does it mean to eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ?
It means not only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal;1 but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Spirit,2 who dwells both in Christ and in us, that, although He is in heaven3 and we on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone,4 and live and are governed forever by one Spirit, as members of the same body are governed by one soul.5
1 Jn 6:35, 40, 47-48, 50-54; 2 Jn 6:55-56; 1 Cor 12:13; 3 Acts 1:9-11, 3:21; 1 Cor 11:26; Col 3:1; 4 1 Cor 6:15, 17, 19; Eph 3:16-19, 5:29-30, 32; 1 Jn 4:13; 5 Jn 6:56-58, 63, 14:23, 15:1-6; Eph 4:15-16; 1 Jn 3:24
77. Where has Christ promised that He will thus feed and nourish believers with His body and blood as certainly as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?
In the institution of the Supper, which says: “The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had eaten, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.”1 And this promise is also repeated by the Apostle Paul, where he says: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, so we being many are one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.”2
1 1 Cor 11:23-25; 2 1 Cor 10:16-17
Lord’s Day 29
78. Do, then, the bread and the wine become the real body and blood of Christ?
No, but as the water in Baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, nor becomes the washing away of sins itself, being only the divine token and assurance thereof,1 so also in the Lord’s Supper the sacred bread2 does not become the body of Christ itself, though agreeably to the nature and usage of sacraments it is called the body of Christ.3
1 Mt 26:29; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5; 2 Mt 26:26-29; 1 Cor 11:26-28; 3 Gen 17:10-11; Ex 12:11, 13, 26-27, 43, 48; 1 Cor 10:1-4, 16-17, 26-28
79. Why then does Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood; and the apostle Paul, the communion of the body and the blood of Christ?
Christ speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby, that like as the bread and wine sustain this temporal life, so also His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink of our souls unto life eternal;1 but much more, by this visible sign and pledge to assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood by the working of the Holy Spirit, as we receive by the mouth of the body these holy tokens in remembrance of Him;2 and that all His sufferings and obedience are as certainly our own, as if we ourselves had suffered and done all in our own person.3
1 Jn 6:51-55; 2 1 Cor 5:16-17, 10:16-17, 11:26; 3 Rom 6:5-11
Lord’s Day 30
80. What difference is there between the Lord’s Supper and the Pope’s Mass?
The Lord’s Supper testifies to us that we have full forgiveness of all our sins by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which He Himself once accomplished on the cross;1 and that by the Holy Spirit we are ingrafted into Christ,2 who, with His true body, is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father,3 and is there to be worshipped.4 But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have forgiveness of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is still daily offered for them by the priests, and that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and is therefore to be worshipped in them. And thus the Mass at bottom is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ,5 and an accursed idolatry.
1 Mt 26:28; Jn 19:30; Heb 7:27, 9:12, 25-28, 10:10-12, 14; 2 1 Cor 6:17, 10:16-17; 3 Jn 20:17; Acts 7:55-56; Heb 1:3, 8:1; 4 Lk 24:52; Jn 4:21-24, 20:17; Acts 7:55; Php 3:20-21; Col 3:1; 1 Thes 1:9-10; 5 Mt 4:10; Heb 9, 10
81. Who are to come to the table of the Lord?
Those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, yet trust that these are forgiven them, and that their remaining infirmity is covered by the suffering and death of Christ; who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to amend their life. But the impenitent and hypocrites eat and drink judgment to themselves.1
1 Ps 51:3, 103:1-4; Mt 5:6; Jn 7:37-38; 1 Cor 10:19-22, 11:26-32
82. Are they, then, also to be admitted to this Supper who show themselves by their confession and life to be unbelieving and ungodly?
No, for thereby the covenant of God is profaned and His wrath provoked against the whole congregation;1 therefore, the Christian Church is bound, according to the order of Christ and His Apostles, to exclude such persons by the Office of the Keys until they amend their lives.
1 Ps 50:16-17; Isa 1:11-17, 66:3; Jer 7:21-23; Mt 7:6; 1 Cor 11:17-34; 2 Thes 3:6; Tit 3:10-11

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heidelberg Catechism, Weeks 26 and 27: Baptism

Rather than post each of these separately, I'm posting weeks 26 and 27 together, as they both address the sacrament of baptism.  When I left the UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International) for a Reformed church in 2006, the question of baptism took me several months to work through.  Actually, I should say several years, as it is only recently that I've fully accepted infant/child baptism AND sprinkling rather than dunking (yet another post I need to work on!). 

For me, the most significant aspect of the Reformed view of baptism is that it's not part of an all-encompassing plan of salvation that is wrought with technicalities and such as it is in the UPCI; what you read and see is, essentially, what you get.  In other words, baptism is once administered to every person, and it is not a PATH to salvation, but it marks that we are part of Christ's church, similar to communion.  And while a Christian would be foolish to ignore this sacrament, their salvation is not forfeited for lack of it.

So, without further ado, here is the Heidelberg Catechism on Baptism (of course the entire catechism, as always, can be found here). 
Lord’s Day 26
69. How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross?
Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water 1 and joined to it this promise, that I am washed with His blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away.2
1 Mt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 2 Mt 3:11; Mk 1:4; Jn 1:33; Acts 2:38; Rom 6:3-4; 1 Pt 3:21
70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
It is to have the forgiveness of sins from God through grace, for the sake of Christ’s blood, which He shed for us in His sacrifice on the cross;1 and also to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, so that we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and unblamable lives.2
1 Ezek 36:25-27; Zech 13:1; Eph 1:7; Heb 12:24; 1 Pt 1:2; Rev 1:5, 7:14; 2 Jn 1:33, 3:5-8; Rom 6:4; 1 Cor 6:11, 12:13; Col 2:11-12; Heb 9:14
71. Where has Christ promised that we are as certainly washed with His blood and Spirit as with the water of Baptism?
In the institution of Baptism, which says: “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.1 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”2 This promise is also repeated where Scripture calls Baptism the washing of regeneration3 and the washing away of sins.4
1 Mt 28:19; 2 Mk 16:16; 3 Tit 3:5; 4 Acts 22:16
Lord’s Day 27
72. Is, then, the outward washing with water itself the washing away of sins?
No,1 for only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sin.2
1 Eph 5:26; 1 Pt 3:21; 2 Mt 3:11; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pt 3:21; 1 Jn 1:7
73. Why then does the Holy Spirit call Baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins?
God speaks thus with great cause, namely, not only to teach us thereby that just as the filthiness of the body is taken away by water, so our sins are taken away by the blood and Spirit of Christ;1 but much more, that by this divine pledge and token He may assure us that we are as really washed from our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water.2
1 1 Cor 6:11; Rev 1:5, 7:14; 2 Acts 2:38; Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27
74. Are infants also to be baptized?
Yes, for since they, as well as their parents, belong to the covenant and people of God,1 and through the blood of Christ2 both redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to their parents,3 they are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be ingrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers,4 as was done in the Old Testament by circumcision,5 in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is appointed.6
1 Gen 17:7; 2 Mt 19:14; 3 Ps 22:10; Isa 44:1-3; Lk 1:14-15; Acts 2:38-39, 16:31; 4 Acts 10:47; 1 Cor 7:14; 5 Gen 17:9-14; 6 Col 2:11-13