Aloha Friday Message – February 15, 2019 – Come Back Again

1907AFC021519 – Come Back Again

   Jeremiah 17:5-6 Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a barren bush in the wasteland
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in lava beds in the wilderness,
a land, salty and uninhabited.

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Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Happy Valentine’s Day! How wonderful it is to have someone in your life who loves you enough to put up with you. Do you know why? Because that’s the way God loves every single one of us! No matter how badly we mess up, or how often, whenever we come back to him and say, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to stop that,” he just keeps forgiving us. Oh, it’s true, he’ll let the consequences of our missteps take their course – maybe toned down a bit – but he’s always got his arms open to hug us and his hands filled to bless us. I confess I am amazed at how many people I see in just my narrow sphere of contacts who stalwartly ignore, deny, and even renounce him. Let’s see what The Word holds for this weekend.

In the weekend’s readings, we learn about the hope we have in the Goodness of the LORD. We know God takes care of everything we need, and yet so many times we reject his blessings and choose to do it ourselves. Jeremiah tells us that when we turn away from the Lord like that we are “like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.” In the same way, the Psalmist tells us we are blessed when we do not choose to follow “the counsel of the wicked, or walk in the way of sinners, or sit in the company of the insolent.” Blessed instead are they who hope in the Lord. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that it is unwise to disbelieve that Christ has been raised from the dead because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” Finally, in “The Sermon on The Plain,” Jesus reprises some of the same themes heard in the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Matthew: Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated. God will give you all that you need to be fulfilled. As good stewards, we willingly serve the Lord and know that he rewards all of his “good and faithful servants” with the best of all he has. It is remarkable to see how often we reject his best and embrace what remains – our mess.

In the daily torrent of information washing over and around us every waking moment, we have little control over what others say and do. Everything we say and do can be a target for angry dispute by just about anybody else – and sometimes the results are ridiculous. Say the sky is blue and someone will argue that it really isn’t blue and we only believe it is because we have a bias against orange. Give a meal to a hungry homeless person, and we are labeled as a racist because we didn’t feed someone of another ethnicity even if no person of other ethnicity is present. There just isn’t any way to be right any more. How can this be? How is it that any person can tell me I am wrong if only because they are right? It sort of reminds me of what parents often tell their kids when the kids challenge them with the eternal “WHY?!” What do we answer moms and dads? “BECAUSE I SAID SO!

We should be in authority over our children, but – honestly – that just doesn’t seem to be happening as it should any more. We have abused and misused the inspiration we are intended to draw from family to the point that our global society is more favorable toward killing unborn – and now even just-born – infants, “euthanizing” sick or dying adults, murdering masses of people because they are “different,” and destroying our planet to amass more wealth and power. We have polluted everything from our air, land, and water to our heart, minds, and souls. It is the latter pollution that threatens us most – and for far too many people, concerns us least. We’ve wrecked just about every ecology there is.

When we talk about ecology, we usually never think of the ecology of the soul in the same terms as God does. There is a book called The Ecology of the Soul – Peace, Power and Personal Growth for Real People in the Real World by a guy named Aidan Walker. Honestly, I can’t recommend reading it – or even looking for it. It’s mostly New Age claptrap about finding all the answers by looking inside yourself. He does have at least one thing in proper perspective – though poorly described – when he says, “any belief is intuitive.” We’ve presented this idea here before, but from a non-humanistic point of view. Walker’s writings preclude the presence of God, so right off the bat he leaves me wondering. “Hey, wait!” you might say. “Aren’t you doing what you were griping about just a moment ago, finding something wrong with another’s point of view just so you can ‘be right’?” You could say that; you could even believe that; however, if we make a start at explaining Life and leave God out of it, there’s no way to “be right.” Without a Divine Creator – which every world culture, every religion, every “spirituality” expresses a belief in some form – there is nothing left but superstition, imagination, and nonsense. Am I saying that Walker and his ilk have muddied their vision of Truth? Absolutely, because they deny that there is A Truth. I usually bring in this quote when discussing Truth, so – even though you may have heard it or read it previously – I ask you to read this quote (emphasis added) from Frank Peretti carefully:

“There is no way for you to know whether what I am telling you is True, unless you know what the Truth is. And there’s no way for you to know what the Truth is unless there is a Truth that you can know! You’ve got to have a Truth that is True, whether you believe it or not, boom! It’s True whether you like it or not, boom! It’s True whether you even know about it or not, boom! It’s just TRUE! Objective, external Truth that stands in and of itself. The bible talks all about that; from cover to cover it talks about the Truth. And the Lord says, “I am the Lord thy God, I declare what is true, I declare what is right.”

Here is The Truth:

Isaiah 45:18-19 – 18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.

19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in chaos.” I the Lord speak the Truth, I declare what is Right. We as a World Culture have settled on the “Politically Correct” invention of Relativism – “What’s true for me may not be true for you. There is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards. There cannot be any single objective standard for moral judgments on any matter.” Pontius Pilate sort of hit the nail on the head when he asked, “What is Truth?”

As humans, we find it easier, for some reason, to define Truth by listing all the things it isn’t. Unfortunately that perpetuates a lot of “knowledge” that isn’t true. One would think that attaining knowledge is the first step to obtaining Truth, but (watch out now) we know that isn’t True because we know there is knowledge that isn’t true – fake news for example. In human terms Truth has to be supported by objective verifiable facts and in accordance with reality. Well, the fact is that Truth is in trouble because we no longer believe in external objectivity; objectivity has become a personal possession that I, that you, that we take hold of and rearrange in whatever manner pleases us at the moment. In doing so, we deny the Unity of Truth – moral, religious, scientific, philosophical, Truth and so on. Going back to Walker’s idea that religion is “intuitive,” we can once more visit what the Apostle Paul said about the ubiquity of the knowledge of God among and throughout his Creation:

Romans 1:20-25 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

God created the Universe – and he himself is not the Universe – and so whenever we break, defy, deny, ignore, and/or mock the Rules of the Universe, we are WRONG, and everything that is WRONG is not the Truth! In our hearts we know it is wrong to murder children in the womb; to destroy priceless history because it didn’t come from our culture; to blame people for mistakes made 10, 50, 100, or 1,000 years ago despite the objective Truth that the mistake was a learning opportunity that resulted in a better understanding of what IS true. God is always pleased when we admit we are wrong and repent – we turn around and come back to him. God is not pleased when we hammer another person with their own past for the sole purpose of personal aggrandizement by public denigration of others. That’s not standing up for the Truth. That is hindering truth, and that is wrong. You and I can believe whatever we want, but our belief is irrelevant as to whether or not what we believe is True. Everyone has experience in believing a lie; so, too, has everyone experience in believing what is True. One must ask, then, why do we believe in lies?

It is the sinfulness, the pollution if you will, of human nature to try to restructure Truth to fit our own desires. Eve and Adam thought they could be more like God if they knew the difference between good and evil. The Truth is that they became less like God through their disobedience. We can think of truth in many of the same terms we use for Love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: Truth is patient, kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude or selfish or irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in sinning, but rejoices in the Truth. It bears all, hopes all, endures all; Truth never ends. Truth never changes. Truth always prevails. If we want to know Truth, we have to learn Truth, and to learn Truth, we must consider truth: Philippians 4:8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I am going to close this with a list of references about Truth. It is my hope that you will actually use all these references. In this table, there are many Bible passages that are “worthy of praise” because they are honorable, just, pure, commendable, and excellent. Think on these things and Truth will out. Come back again to God who alone is Truth. Trust God, not humans.

 

Job 34:12 Psalm 52 Psalm 53 Jeremiah 7:28
Ezekiel 13:3-9a Matthew 22:16 John 1:17 John 4:23-24 *
John 8:31-45 Romans 1:18-25 Romans 2:5-10 2 Thess 2:7-12 *
1 Timothy 6:3-7 2 Timothy 4:3-4 * Hebrews 10:26-31 2 Peter 1:19-2:17 *
James 4:1-10 * Please read at least these four important passages.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

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

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