Aloha Friday Message – December 10, 2010 – Second Friday of Advent

1050AFC121010 A Blesséd Aloha Friday to Everyone. Here is today’s selection from The List of 52 Verses.

ISAIAH 40:11 ~NIV~ He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

~KJV~ He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

The people in Jesus’ time, and for centuries before that, understood that a flock of sheep or goats was an investment in the future. They provided more than just food, of course. The also provided milk, wool, leather, and even income. Those who cared for the sheep knew each animal by its voice and appearance, and could tell the difference between “normal conversation” among the animals, and sounds of distress or caring. The shepherd protected the sheep. He led them by walking in front of them, and they followed his voice because they knew him, and they trusted their shepherd. Jesus asks us to follow him. He calls us, each by name, to walk with him through green pastures, to rest near gentle waters, and to traverse the valleys confidently following his lead. He cares for the littlest among us – no matter how young or old – and gives equal protection and value to every member of the flock. He is The Good Shepherd, and today he is calling you and me to prepare for his return as The King of Glory. Some of us spend so much time getting ready for Christmas that we forget to get ready for Christ. He is coming. He is near. He is here. Listen! He calls your name!

The Gospel of Peace and the Shield of Faith

The Gospel of Peace

15 … and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. At the beginning of the description of the Armor of God, Paul says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” And soldier can tell you that one of the most important pieces of his uniform is his footgear. It has to be strong, well-fitted, suited to the environment, properly cared for to preserve its utility, and able to keep him from injuring his feet and/or ankles. A soldier who cannot stand and fight is at a huge disadvantage. He can neither advance toward nor retreat from his foe. Therefore his footgear needs also to be reliable enough to continue to protect him until at last the enemy is completely vanquished. For the soldier in ancient times, the footgear included what we would call shin guards; these were often brass plates fastened to dense but supple leather that protected the soles, ankles, and lower legs of the soldier. (The term “greaves” applies here. They were coverings of metal and/or leather used mostly by infantry soldiers – what we call “boots on the ground.”) Often the soles of the footgear were enhanced with cleats or hobnails (short nails or screws inserted in the soles of the shoes to help provide durability and extra traction in slippery ground) to give better traction and prolong the life of the sole of the shoe.

So how is it that Paul likens Roman military footgear to The Gospel of Peace? Beloved, when we are standing on the Word, and have the Gospel of the Lord to help us keep our footing while engaging the Foe, we are more likely to be able to defend against his attacks and more capable of vanquishing him from our territory. When we are well-grounded in the Gospel through thorough study (as in the careful construction of the footgear) and proper application of the content and meaning of that study (as in the care and attention give to fastening on the soldier’s footgear), then we can stand firm in “the Peace that surpasses all understanding.” Thus, with such firm footing, we can enhance the effectiveness of the entire Armor which increases our confidence in our ability to stand against the enemy until we prevail. With this foundation of readiness which arises from the purposefulness of the design of our footgear – the Gospel, we can stand confidently on our knowledge of the Gospel and fight the good fight.

The Shield of Faith

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The shield is one of the most ancient defensive armaments. They are designed to fend of blows from an attacker and are usually worn on the arm opposite the arm wielding the offensive weapon – such as a sword. Shields in prehistoric times were made of leather, wood, and – in later times – metal reinforcements. The size and shape varied greatly over the centuries until around the 16th century as the use of gunpowder became more widespread. For Roman heavy infantry, the shield were fashioned to be identical and able to lock together to provide protection from archers’ arrows. This kind of shield was quite long – 3-4 feet so as to cover the body from neck to knee – and they could kneel behind it when there was a flight of arrows. It was mounted on a wooden frame and was comprised of multiple layers of hide. It usually also had a large metal knob or crest (called a boss) in the center and was rimmed with metal to protect the wooden frame. Although heavier than the small, rounder shields used in skirmishes or by cavalry, the “door shield” (scutum) was maneuverable enough that it could even be used as a weapon. One of the most dangerous offensive weapons was fire, and an enemy would use arrows or darts treated with combustibles. The fiery darts or arrows were intended to increase the danger to the foot-soldier in the hope of catching his clothing or flesh on fire and distracting or incapacitating him. The shield Paul describes was sometimes soaked in water to literally quench the fiery arrows, but even without water, the hides were taut enough that the arrows could just bounce off and be extinguished.

Paul likens that shield to Faith. Faith is build up in layers. Animal hides were the basis of the Roman shields, and throughout the history of the Hebrews – even in Paul’s day, animal sacrifices were made by Israel as well as by other pagan religions. The wooden frame held the hides in place and provided a way to shift the position of the shield for better defense. The metal components added strength to the frame and increased the protection of the soldier by preventing fracturing of the frame.

Our foe, The Accuser, uses “fiery darts” and “flaming arrows” to great effect. There are the temptations he fires at us to distract, injure, and even defeat us on the battlefield. Our faith, like the Roman shield, must be built up in layers. Each time we learn to trust in the Lord instead of trusting our own strength, we strengthen the layers of our faith. Faith must have a framework that is strong enough to support our trust in God. The framework that supports faith is knowledge. The more we learn about God’s heart and mind, his will and plan, the better protection we receive from our faith. The metal boss at the center of the shield and the metal rim around the shield could be said to represent our testimony of the power of God’s grace. Testifying to God’s protection through grace strengthens our faith and helps prevent damage to the trust and knowledge, the shield and frame, of our faith. In summary, our Shield of Faith is built up in layers of trust, strengthened and shaped by our knowledge of God’s will and plan for our protection, made stronger still by our testimony about God’s grace. That is powerful protection!

That’s a wrap for today, Beloved. Please, please, please take up the full armor of God! There is such a terrible spiritual war being waged against us. Here are some of the skirmishes and sieges we need to oppose:

Jesus we pray for All the Peoples especially those suffering in Haiti (Daniel & Patterson, Taisha, Jacob), Pakistan, Chile, Sudan* – especially Darfur – and in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia and in other disasters both natural and man-made over the entire world. We pray for Christians in these countries and for people of all faiths who are being persecuted for their beliefs.
Jorey’s surgery went well enough, and she’s still had some difficult and remarkably painful days; we hope there will not be any more of those ahead. After the craniotomy earlier this week, she had a rough go of it for a while, but was able to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday. She has to stay in SF for at least two weeks, JIC, but is recovering well. Please continue to support her during healing, and support her family as well. It is so difficult to watch anyone suffer in pain, but your own child or sibling … way worse. Pray with us that God will continue the healing of this rare tumor. Her surgeon called the tumor and the healing “baffling.” Jorey’s mom and I agree: Baffling is a synonym for “MIRACLE.”

KD’s home situation has not improved. We are hoping for an affordable apartment and the fortitude to let loose of all the possessions accumulated over a lifetime – all gone as if in a hurricane.

NA continues to battle on huge challenge after another with health. Latest word is that there is an arterial ulcer, and that is causing blood leakage which makes her badly damaged heart work harder, and ups the level of pain considerably. She will be 36 in February, and has chalked up about 70 years of suffering health-wise. In addition, trusted friends, counselors, and mentors are facing their own health problems and some have gone on to be with God. You can help with prayers of support and intercessions for her strengthening during these trials.

For those who are diligently looking for work, we pray for their success as well as for compassion from the communities in which they live.

For everyone dealing with cancer in any form – especially those we know like FO – please pray for their individual courage and strength, remission or removal, and for hope, healing, and health.

For MC: Husband, an abusive drug user, trumped up charges of child abuse and kids went to foster care. Pray with her for justice and a recommitment to her Christian upbringing.

We also pray that those who fear they cannot or should not be forgiven will find that your mercy exceeds all their fears.

• The likelihood of civil war, mass murder, genocide, and other atrocities looms on the horizon as the secession referendum for Southern Sudan approaches. Originally set for January 9, 2011, it has been postponed one week. This is important. Please pray for a peaceful resolution in this situation. There are several videos by George Clooney, a champion for this cause, on YOUTUBE, and there are hundreds of links where you can learn more about the background of this ongoing conflict which has already claimed around 2,500,000 lives since it began over 20 years ago. Pray it will not escalate with the referendum. Pray that it will be harder to kill people because we are also praying that the whole world watch and intervene. We’ve had Darfur in the prayer list for a long time; now please add the entire country of Sudan.

George Clooney on Sudan

Sudan Referendum
Sudanese War
Atrocities and War Crimes
Please especially this one: War in Darfur and this one: Second Sudanese War . Regrettably it is another situation of a wealthy country dominating a poorer country, serious and deep religious differences, and millions in natural resources hanging in the balance.

Pray for Peace everywhere beginning with your own life, and pray as if you know it can happen.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

One Response to Aloha Friday Message – December 10, 2010 – Second Friday of Advent

  1. Crucita A. Todd says:

    I like your website — a big Mahalo to all who have supported you in this endeavor.

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