Aloha Friday Message – March 23, 2012 – Fifth Friday in Lent

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

KJV 1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

NIV 1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

NAB 1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today we are going to look at a beautiful letter attributed to Peter, also called Cephas (KAY-phus) which means Rock in Aramaic and is also a Greek word for rock Κηφᾶς.

In this letter, Peter gives us many beautiful images, draws many examples from Old Testament writers, and presents a wide array of topics that address many aspect of life in the early Church. The one I chose for the open in this message is one of my very favorites. In this he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is ζῶντα zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from za,w zao {dzah’-o}. za,w is the verb “to live,” and ζῶντα is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind!

Peter tells us Christ was “chosen by God and precious to him.” Christ, the Messiah is “called ‘elect,’ as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable.” And we are called to that same life as his servants. We are called the elect, the chosen because “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4) This word is ἐκλεκτός eklektos {ek-lek-tos’} and it denotes the best of its kind or class.

As living stones, we are to be built into a “spiritual house,” a family for generations, offering up ” spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That is such a powerful statement, because it describes not only our calling, but also the fulfillment of that calling.

In 1 Peter 1:8-9 Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What is that inexpressible joy and how do we feel it? How do we recognize it? It is the power of his love as delivered to us in and through the Holy Spirit that makes our hearts and minds leap for joy as we raise hearts and hands and voices to praise god for his generous love, unfailing promise, and awesome presence in our lives.

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us the reason God has fashioned us a living stone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God is Light. We are called to live in the Light, to let our Light shine, to be the Light shining in the darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

There are dozens of power-packed images like that in this single short letter. Scholars generally agree that it was written by Peter, with help from Silas (who may have been a “professional writer,” helping Peter achieve a very polished Greek text which might have been a bit out of Peter’s reach normally). The letter is addressed to churches planted by Paul and his fellow sojourners in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That may have been the order in which a courier might have delivered the letter to those churches.

The letter mentions persecutions, suffering with Christ as we daily take up our cross, even dying under persecutions for the Gospel and for the joy we have of being so close to our Savior and God. I looked at several analyses of how this letter is put together, and here is a listing based on those reviews:

 

  1. 1 Peter 1:112: The JOY we have in knowing God loves us so much he provided a Perfect Sacrifice for our salvation – his only begotten son.
  2. 1 Peter 1:132:3: God’s love should inspire us to v-be some much like him that we strive mightily to be holy as he is holy.
  3. 1 Peter 2:412: Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the People God chose to be distinctly his own, the People of the First Covenant. Despite the many times they ignored that, God honored his promises, and not only made Abraham the father of many nations, he also us part of Abraham’s descendants through Jesus sacrificial suffering.
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-23: We can share in, identify with, and submit to persecution and suffering with Jesus and for the Gospel. Whenever we do so, we die a bit to ourselves and to the world, but we also glorify God.
  5. 1 Peter 2:2425: Jesus’ expiation (The complete reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus) of our sins is a powerful, awesome, incomprehensibly valuable gift – it is a gift given through the Grace of God, and that brings us back to the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls – our Creator, God. How can we begin to measure how grateful that can make us feel?!?
  6. 1 Peter 3:17: God is community as the Trinity. He established family as a community through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives can honor this sacred vocation by honoring one another, loving one another as God has loved them. Dishonoring one’s spouse is point-blank dishonoring God.
  7. 1 Peter 3:822: This passage begins, ” Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on to say that under no circumstance or persecution and suffering should we seek to harm those who bring about that persecution and suffering. If we suffer for doing what is good, that is so much better than suffering for doing evil!
  8. 1 Peter 4:111: The World wants us to be like them, and constantly entices us to live “in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” They make fun of us for being “religious nuts,” but when Judgment comes, they will have one hell of a time coming to them. As for us, we are to ” keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (theirs and ours). Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. Jesus blood cleansed you of your sins – the ways you have hurt yourself, your community, and your God; is blood also cleansed the sins of those who hurt you, hurt your community, and offend our God. His sacrifice covers all completely, permanently, eternally.
  9. 1 Peter 4:1219: “No matter how you struggle or strive, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” And struggle and strive as we might, we will always be facing situations where our suffering persists. Rather than wail and gnash or teeth, we can rejoice because are blessed, in that suffering when “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us. ” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  10. 1 Peter 5:16: When the World sees us acting this way – joyous in serving, joyous in suffering – they will want to know more about our joy and more about our shepherd. Those who are chosen for servant- leadership through the gifts of God will serve gladly, equitably, humbly – as did Christ. I probably will never be easy, but Peter tells us ” after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  11. 1 Peter 5:714: God will do all these powerful and wonderful things to and for us because of his intense, eternal, infallible LOVE. No matter what Satan tries to do to us to destroy our relationship with God, that relationship is always restored when we reconfirm our alliance with God and rejoice in the wonder of his uncompromising love and care.

Share-A-Prayer

M&PC wrote to tell us, “We are praying for whole world for peace, safety, and wellbeing everywhere.” What an excellent prayer intention. Maybe you can add it to your list of intentions. So many places around the world are experiencing terrible weather, terrible acts of evil, terrible acts of violence. Pray that Peace will rule the planet, and let it begin with you.

Please continue to pray for the family of Baby Cheyanne. She lost her battle with multiple health problems. It has been so difficult for Mom and Dad, and for the whole family. They know Cheyanne has found 100% healing in the Light of His Glory and Love. The loss of that sweet child, however, was a hard blow. Pray for them to return to the joy they anticipated the moment she was born.

Pray for those who suffer for their faith. You would think that “in this day and age” religious persecution – even to the point of martyrdom – would be nonexistent. But it is not.

Pray for everyone who suffers poverty, injustice, hunger, loss of work or loss of income; for those who suffer through illnesses like cancer, mental illness, chronic disease, acute or chronic pain; pray for those whose family are falling apart and for those whose families are just beginning or just beginning to heal.

Finally beloved, pray for one another. You know there is a Daily Intercessory Prayer List. Whenever you pray the MBN prayer, that short prayer includes all of the intentions in the Intercessory prayer list – over 100 now.

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

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

Today I am thinking about Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a wonderful story is there. We’ve heard it before, maybe seen it enacted in a movie or a play, and we have a pretty good idea of the events. I want to look at some of the characters and symbols in this story. In Matthew it goes like this:

Matthew 21:1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.'” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

In Zechariah 9:9 we read: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey was, in part, a fulfillment of scripture. But there’s more. In Jesus day, and in many Eastern cultures, a donkey is seen as symbol of peace. A king who rides in on a donkey is coming peacefully. A king who rides in on a horse is coming in war. It is also significant that the colt Jesus’ disciples borrow is one that has never been ridden. Here the King of Peace is so gentle and so humble that even a young colt never before ridden submits to Jesus’ presence. Instead of bucking him off, the colt meekly carries a full-grown man. It is interesting to me that the disciples who went to fetch it did so without question, and then they put their own cloaks on the back of the colt to make a more comfortable seat. I think it might have also been more comfortable for the colt! And you know, I think that colt’s mama walked next to him on that journey. Read it again and see if you think so, too. But how did this come about?

How did the owner know it was OK to lend his animal to Jesus’ Disciples? The gospels don’t say, but as often as Jesus traveled through that area, he sure must have had more friends than just Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Since this must have been shortly after Lazarus was raised, maybe the guy who owned the colt had told Jesus, “If you ever need anything at all just let me know. It’s yours!” Just speculating about that is kind of fun, but really, we don’t know exactly what happened in that part of the story.

Jesus was in Bethany, close to Bethphage (“Place of new – or unripe – figs”) somewhere perhaps around the Mount of Olives. He gets on the colt in Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and heads into town. On the way people who have seen him, who know him – some intimately, some only be reputation – get excited about seeing him, and they begin to remember Zechariah 9:9. They start pulling down palm fronds and laying them on the path in front of him or waving them in the air. The palm was a symbol of victory – even Holy Victory. In addition people were laying their cloaks down in the road and letting the little donkey pass over them. A similar event is reported in 2 Kings 9. [They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”] Elisha had just anointed Jehu (“Yahweh is He”) as King of Israel, and had ordered him to go avenge the murders committed by Jezebel’s forces when she had the prophets slaughtered. The king, Ahab, had permitted this, and Jehu was told to destroy Ahab as well.

Spreading cloaks or other object to “pave the way” was a common demonstration of respect for the dignity and power of a person – a King, a general, even a prophet. So now we have Jesus on a baby donkey (my mind keeps hearing the Christmas Carol “Little Donkey, Little Donkey, With a heavy load,”) and everyone is shouting and happy and cheering and dancing and running ahead and coming back and just going nuts over what Jesus is doing. He is finally defining himself as the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, The Son of David! And, they surely thought he was about to kick the Romans out of town as the Rightful Ruler.

But, he was on a donkey, not a horse.

Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’ head? He’s going to Jerusalem in just six day to celebrate Passover for the last time. Then he will die a most horrible, terrifying, painful death. And he will be forsaken by his Father. On the way into town he looks out over Jerusalem and sheds tears because of what they have missed out on while he was with them, and then He just goes into town and busts up … Not the Romans! The Temple!!

Whoa! That was a surprise! And from there on, things sort of unfolded into The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, the pavement at Gabbatha, and finally Golgotha. In less than a week he went from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!”

Now you know a little about the story. When you are holding your palm branches Sunday, think about that little donkey and what a privilege it was to carry Jesus. Beloved, you can carry him too; in your heart, not on your back. Spread out your best things for him and invite him to have a seat. Carry him wherever you go and once in a while, just for the sheer JOY of it, shout, I said SHOUT, “HOSANNA!!”

Share-A-Prayer

• A special request from WT to pray for J. Joseph who was admitted to the hospital in her continuing fight with cancer. Pray for hope, healing, and health.
• Our MBN friends I Haiti report that many of the children and the workers too are ill. Sounds like a virus is sweeping through their numbers. Pray for return to health, and that the many new infants they have with them can stay hydrated and be strong enough to recover.
• Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks. Please go back and look at the prayer requests from the beginning of Lent. I believe as you take the time to look at them, God will move your heart to make a special effort to embrace one or more of those requests.
• Thanks for the family of EW for sharing the news that E had gone to meet his Lord. He was – and still is – a remarkable man. You might remember him here.
• Thanks also from KV who reports prayer has been working for her and she feels pretty darn good!

Thanks everyone. Next week the message will be about Good Friday – sort of. Please watch for it on a computer screen near you!

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

chick

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Aloha Friday, August 10, 2004 – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

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Aloha, dear friend! Another week comes to an end. For so many people, this has been a week of severe testing – Florida, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sudan and Indonesia. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

These difficulties are so prevalent that we can sometimes feel – and see – hope is defeated. Not so. If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follow that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

What can we do about all this? Perhaps we can choose to live a spiritual life at home, at work, at school, at play, and even (incredible!) at church. Here’s a little quote from NIV Bible:

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In a recent article that appeared in THE CATHOLIC HERALD the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control is a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this note, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall (I made a really pretty one with fancy lettering and images). It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

Love in Christ,

Chick

PS: Here’s a bonus just for you. http://m11.t3media.net/t/15274/8554348/694/0/

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Aloha Friday Message – April 19, 2019 – Return to The Truth

1916AFC041919 – Return to The Truth

Μετάνοια εἰς Την Αλήθεια – Metánoia eis Tin Alítheia ~~ Repent toward The Truth.

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     John 18:37-38a 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

During this season of Lent we have been exploring applications of the word μετάνοια – metanoia. We have seen that it means a “turning around” or “turning back to” God. It is a mental, visceral, actionable decision to reform one’s life so as to live in a way that honors and glorifies God in thought, word, and deed. All of us are sinners, so all of us have sinned. That means all of us need to repent – turn around – and go back to being what God created us to be – Holy, like him. We pretty much understand that we probably will never be wholly holy until the Day of Resurrection, but we really should be headed in that direction – toward God rather than away from God. What happens, though, if we don’t turn back to God, if we don’t reform our lives, and instead we keep moving away from God? What is out there if we just ignore the warnings – internal and external – to turn back, to repent, to reintegrate into Truth?

Returning to God, to Truth, is returning to holiness, to good, to Light. Fleeing from God, from Truth, is leaving holiness, good, and Light behind so as to be immersed in Darkness. Who would choose that, any of it?

The answer is heartbreaking. Millions and millions – indeed billions with a B – intentionally and deliberately move farther and farther from God in every moment of their lives. How is this possible? What enables any earthling to ignore all the clues, and hints, and communiqués that God has given us, all of which testify to the Truth? The only answer I can see is that we choose to believe the primordial lie that somehow we can do it ourselves – we don’t need God’s help to find God and Truth. We’re perfectly capable of figuring that out ourselves, thank you very much. That’s what our First Parents, thought, too; how’s that working out for you and me today? Not so hot, is it? And yet, each of us obstinately clings to the idea that it is our own effort that causes Grace to be part of our lives. What utter rubbish that is! There’s an adage I coined (at least I think it was me) about 25 years ago when facilitating the Zenger-Miller Toward Excellence training program that applies to this line of reasoning: “If you really knew as much as you think you know, you’d know it’s not enough.” The result of assuming we are sufficiently wise to figure out God on our own is that we completely miss the Truth: God is God and I am not. When this basic Truth is corrupted by Satan’s favorite tool – lies – we carom off away from God and create our own Fantasy Land where we call the shots, we make the tough decisions, and we set the rules. Regrettably, many of those BILLIONS of souls who have followed this course without wavering will have little recourse on The Day of Reward. They will share the fate of those described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

I entreat you with all sincerity to read the following passages ( with emphasis added) with your utmost attention so that you may gain a clear discernment about the battle we are in:

Isaiah 53:1 1 Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Jeremiah 2:19 19 Your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies* will convict you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord God of hosts.

*Apostasies from Apostasy – the total rejection of Christianity by a baptized person who, having at one time professed the Christian faith, publicly rejects it. It is distinguished from heresy, which is limited to the rejection of one or more Christian doctrines by one who maintains an overall adherence to Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:3-5 Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those who did not believe.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.

2 Peter 2:1-3 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 13 For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 1 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Titus 1:15-1615 To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

This awareness informs the ministry of the Moon Beam Network – that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, but how can they call if they have not heard (See Romans 10-13-18, please.) Yet we know that even many of those who have heard have not believed and instead made their own foolish constructs to disseminate their apostasy. One such organization has the boldness to proclaim that the Church – the entirety of Christendom – was in a state of apostasy until Charles Taze Russell “discovered” that apostasy and set up an offshoot of the Bible Study movement in 1879. His goal was to find biblical evidence that God would never send any anyone to Hell because there is no such place. This organization’s ironic claim is that they – who are in fact apostates – are in the World to correct the previous apostasy of the preceding 18 centuries!  In 1931, the group adopted the moniker “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and decreed that God alone should be worshipped by his correct and proper name which they claimed to have ample evidence to prove was supposed to be pronounced jeh-ho-vah. While this concept was “already out there” as popularized by William Tyndale, the KJV, and the Geneva Bible, the temerity of Russell’s group was that its discovery of this revelation disqualified all other believers. As they regressed farther and farther from Truth – and Jehovah – they even reinvented Holy Scripture by publishing, in 1950, The New World Testament (NWT), a thoroughly bad and deceptive mistranslation of Judaeo-Christian Scripture. One quick example: At the institution of the Eucharist we read in Matthew 26:26 26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is* my body.” (See also Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, and 1 Corinthians 11:24)

* ἐστιν (estin) from εἰμί (eimi) {i-mee’} – I am, I exist, ergo, is. In the NWT, this passage reads as follows: “26  As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf, and after saying a blessing, he broke it, and giving it to the disciples, he said: “Take, eat. This means my body.” (See in context here.) I’ll put this as plainly as possible: Claiming that “this is my body” is properly understood as “this means my body” IS A LIE.

Recall now Jesus’ words in John 8:44 44 You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Belovéd, this is but one of thousands of misconstruances of Truth circulated today as the “one true religion” – but a clever and well-worked-out scheme of deception worthy of Old Scratch himself. He would have us believe, as he himself believes, that Truth is mine only if I create it. God’s Truth is merely another version of what in our hearts and minds is the explanation for everything. As that famous author Anonymous has said, “There is an explanation for everything that happens in the Universe. Unfortunately many of them make no sense whatsoever!” Satan’s assertion that Truth is allocated to 144,000 who are part of a “heavenly class” – which persons deny the Holy Trinity as being “unbiblical” (the word “Trinity is not in any Judaeo-Christian Scripture) – and who are “the little flock of 144,000 (another term which does not appear in any Judaeo-Christian Scripture) simply makes no sense whatsoever. What does make sense is returning to The Truth.

Let the reader beware! What is Truth?

GOD ≡ LIGHT ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ ETERNAL ≡ MERCY ≡ GOD

(↑ That’s a Music Link)

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Message – April 12, 2019 – In My Right Mind

1915AFC041219 – In My Right Mind

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Philippians 2:5-8 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday is the beginning of Passiontide, Palm Sunday of the Passion of The Lord. At week’s end, we will be in the Triduum. Friday, April 19th is Good Friday. You’ll probably get next week’s message on Holy Thursday, rather than Friday. The 19th also happens to be the 50th anniversary of our marriage, and Crucita and I are planning to celebrate with friends and family the following weekend. Lots of things happening in this month of April!

Today’s Key Verse is part of the Second Reading (Philippians 2:6-11) for this Palm Sunday in Year C. Based on its lyrical arrangement it is, perhaps, based upon a hymn, or perhaps some creedal form, known to the Apostle Paul and his intended audience in Philippi. It is a beautiful summary of everything about the reality of the Christ, not just historically, but also prophetically and theologically. There is a very powerful meaning in the opening words – Let the same mind be in you – and that is what we will investigate today.

We’ve all heard someone say, “He must be out of his mind!” Or “Nobody in their right mind would think or do such a thing.” When the Apostle Paul speaks of being “of the same mind,” he is presenting a very specific teaching. The little meme up there expresses it in more modern English – have the same attitude that Christ has. In this case, the root word is φρονέω (phronéō) {fron-eh’-o} (from /phrḗn, “the midriff or diaphragm; the parts around the heart,” J. Thayer). This form, phronéō, connotes something internal and visceral being manifested cognitively – what we feel becomes shown in what we think and do. Our personal opinion, our “self-talk,” our attitude – these come together so that they conform cooperatively with the personal opinion, presentation, attitude of another (or others). Whose attitude(s) should we try to match? The Apostle Paul lets us know it the next five words: that was in Christ Jesus. This is an important concept, something we should try to understand. The Apostle Paul felt it was important enough to spell it out several times: Romans 12:16, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 2:2, Philippians 2:5, and Philippians 4:2.

The Apostle Paul is exhorting us to take on Christ’s humility for though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited …. Now, one thing we can see right off in this short phrase is that he was in the form of God. I include that for the folks who somehow mistakenly believe that Jesus set aside his divinity so he would be 100% human. This is a heresy. Jesus was fully human and fully divine simultaneously. It is a Mystery of Faith earthlings cannot and do not understand intellectually, but can accept as a matter of Faith. Christ, then, being fully human and fully divine lived in humility so great that he surrendered everything to God The Father. Even everything he said and did was from The Father. His will, his attitude, his opinion of himself and his mission was from God. Jesus put everyone – yes, EVERYONE – ahead of himself. That was his mindset, his attitude, his self-image if you will. Here is the result as it is found in Philippians 2:1-4 1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

When The World sees us even trying to act like that, we get painted as “Little Goodie Two-Shoes,” a children’s story written by that World Famous Poet, Anonymous, and published by John Newbery in London in 1765. The story gave rise to the use of the phrase “goody two-shoes” as a derogatory label for an extremely righteous and even intrusive person while at the same time it surreptitiously mocked the main character as being too-good-to-be-true and actually self-important. Jesus isn’t like that. In our right mind, we shouldn’t be like that either because – despite what The World thinks – being good for goodness’ sake is an unambiguous form of humility similar to this: And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. That’s no “Goodie Two Shoes” attitude. That is the attitude of The Suffering Servant, the kind of person who understands and commits to – Servant Leadership. How many of us can really Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves? That list of verses I gave you a few lines back demonstrate the value of that mindset. Yet how in the World do we attain it?

The answer is, of course, that we cannot attain it in The World. It comes through the Holy Spirit, and it comes in the Spirit when we can arrive at that point in our hearts and minds (and souls, it seems) of metanoia. We repent of our arrogance and take on the nature of Christ. Here in Romans 8:9, we find another of those “pesky” conjunctive phrases: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed* the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. New English Translation (NET) NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.
*εἴπερ (eiper) {i per} – since, if it is true that, if perhaps, if indeed, if after all, if only. How, indeed, does the Spirit of God live in us?

We do that by imitating – even better, emulating – Christ Jesus. When we imitate Christ, we try to copy, model, mimic, or style ourselves to simulate his thoughts and actions. When we emulate Christ,  we live so as to equal or match his mindset and actions; we desire to excel at being as well-esteemed and correct as Christ, not just copying him. Honestly, Belovéd, I find this to be extremely difficult. As I said last week, I’m not a Perfect Loser. There are things within my sphere of influence that I believe I should be able to control, but cannot. There are things outside my sphere of influence that in know I cannot (i.e., should not) try to control, and yet I do. I cannot even imitate Christ, much less emulate him. It seems hopeless.

And yet …

The Holy Spirit provides. Here is another way to look at this whole idea of being wholly holy. It’s one of those Internet floaters that I often think about but can never remember. It’s called

The Quilt of Holes

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us our lives were laid out like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare, and empty, like binding air together with smoke.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, somehow only to muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. A gasp of surprise filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, “Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.”

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through! God determines who walks into your life….it’s up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.

When there is nothing left but God that is when you find out that God is all you need.
~~  Anonymous

And so, Belovéd, it is not we –  not you, not I – who can emulate Christ to “be of the same mind” as his, for it all depends on if indeed only the Holy Spirit is emulating him in us. Then, truly, are we in our right mind because our mind in us is right.

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

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – April 5, 2019 – The Perfect Looser

1914AFC040519 – The Perfect Looser

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Philippians 3:8 … I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ Jesus my Lord.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we go back to the readings in Year C for Lent. Today’s Key Verse is from Sunday’s second reading. This is one of those passages that sounds very familiar; it is also a passage we usually reckon as unattainable. We may recall hearing this quote attributed to Dr. Albert Schweitzer: “If you own something you cannot give away, then you don’t own it, it owns you.” Another version says, “Whatever things you can relinquish are your possessions. Whatever things you cannot relinquish possess you.” When I think of what the Apostle Paul is saying in that way, my mind and heart say, “Well, it looks like I’m going to fall far short of the mark.” Honestly, I’m not a good loser. Truth be told, probably none of us like to lose. Being a loser in this society is a very undesirable designation. General George Patton one proclaimed,Americans love a winner. America will not tolerate a loser.” That attitude is mirrored by Coach Vince Lombardi: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” Many of us know of the TV program “Biggest Looser” where a handful of seemingly borderline personality disordered fitness trainers work with obese persons to help them reduce their girth. In this case, being a looser is interpreted as being a winner; but that’s not always the case.

    “What a loser!” That’s a powerful insult. When that epithet is thrown at us, it hurts (despite that old “sticks and stones” adage). It is devaluing. It is derogatory. It is even dehumanizing. Jesus told us that when we say to someone “You fool!” we are “in danger of hell fire.” (See Matthew 5:22-24)* That’s a pretty alarming statement, and it should be sobering; but, we usually just slide right past it and secretly believe it belongs to “all those other sinners – like the Pharisee who ostentatiously prayed thanking God he was not like that Tax Collector. (See Luke 18:9-14) If I live as Jesus warns (and don’t we all), then perhaps 100 times a day I am in danger of hell fire because I name so many people losers. I can just as surely know that I gain that title just as often from others. We hate being losers, and that is exceptionally dangerous because Christ expects us to be perfect losers. He asks us, ironically enough, “What have you got to lose?”

That’s a tough one. What do we have to lose? Perhaps our smug attitude would be a good place to start. Like all weeds, it has deep roots and crowds out other, more valuable things in our lives. We usually postpone that for “another time;” there’s that verse 6 in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; [1] But we hate to lose anything – a game, a sock, an old watch, a friend, a tile from Scrabble. Jesus expects us to lose all of those and more. Remember? Matthew 16:25-26 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (You can find the same intention in Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25-26, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:24, and John 12:24-26) Again, losing one’s life for the Gospel is something someone else does – those Saints, those missionaries in far-off lands, those martyrs in Nigeria, those innocent children in the Coliseum. We retch over the images we see that show us the direct effects of hatred, of human beings making everyone else a loser so that no one else is a winner; but unless we ourselves are prepared to give all for the Gospel, we are not all that different – and that’s terrifying.

The Apostle Paul gave us plenty of information about being losers. Philippians 1:21 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Philippians 3:7-8 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Jesus assures us that whatever we lose can be and will be restored immeasurably more – we can lose “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields” and they will be restored a hundredfold now and later in our eternal life (See Mark 10:29-31). There’s a little pair of words in that passage we’d rather not hear. We’d rather focus on getting back everything we lose and more to boot, but there’s that pesky little prepositional phrase “with persecutions.” If there’s anything we’d like to lose, that’s probably at or near the top of the list. I suppose we’ll never know as imminent (and dear God, not “not if but when”) we have a chance to testify with our lives whether or not we truly can lose all for the sake of the Gospel. In our hearts our prayer might be, “Let the righteous and holy of the world handle the suffering; God has prepared them for that. As for me, I can live without it.”

Yes, we can live without it, and that means we cannot die for it. Jesus has some advice about that in Luke 14:27 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. John 12:24-26 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. Luke 9:24 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. One of our most vivid examples of this type of availability to the Gospel can be seen in Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Elliot was one of five missionaries killed in Ecuador in 1956. He lived – and died – by that biblical promise. Can I, can you, can we, who aspire to be Christian, do either – live or die – in the true spirit of that promise from Christ? When and how can our capacity to be perfect losers be the reality of our Christian duty and sacrifice? It will take some prayer, some Bible study, and some – no, make that a lot – of things we cannot relinquish being finally let go. Prayer can even become an iffy thing. I once read about someone describing his prayer life, “Sometimes I fall asleep. Sometimes it’s really dry. Sometimes nothing happens. If God wants me, he knows where I am going to be.” Yep, “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” (See Isaiah 55:6)

Our Catechism says in §2650 Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray. Through a living transmission (Sacred Tradition) within “the believing and praying Church,” the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray. In addition we have in §2653 The Church “forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful … to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. . . . Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For ‘we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles.”‘ We become like the saints we admire by doing what the saints do – living on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God whether revealed through prayer or Scripture. Everything we gain in this way helps us to lose all else that hinders our coming closer to God in Christ Jesus. Consider this: 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26 So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27 but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. It is how we perfect our ability to be a real loser. You see, Jesus Loves The Loser. (↔ Music Link)

Together we might pray, “Dear Jesus, teach us and help us to be just and merciful, to live righteously, and to walk humbly before you wherever your Spirit guides us.  May our hearts and hands and mentality be emptied of everything contrary to your presence so that we may have only you living in us and thus we may become perfect losers.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

* Read the note here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mat+5%3A22-26&version=NABRE

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.

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

[1] New English Translation (NET) NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.

* Read the note here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mat+5%3A22-26&version=NABRE

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Aloha Friday Message – March 29, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #4

1913AFC032919 – 2019 Lenten Series #4

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 3

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    2 Corinthians 5:17-18 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we pick up on the end of a conversation between two buddies named Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:) with some help from the Narrator (N:). We finished up with the Narrator asking, ” (WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.”)

N: (Previously on A Frank and Earnest Conversation:)

E: You’ve given me a lot to think about. That narrator, too. Maybe I should get home and pull out the laptop and find the Catechism of the Catholic Church (↔ Click Link) and look for the word “repent” I can get some more ideas.

F: Good thinking. RIGHT THINKING! Say hi to Ethel when you get home.

E: Thanks. I will. I wonder if that narrator will be around?

F: I imagine so. He’s got some closing remarks to do here.

N: (Thank you guys for being frank and earnest in your conversation.)

F: Very funny.

E: Yeah, like who else could we be?

N: (It sounds like maybe we need to think more about why we DON’T repent. You folks out there, reading this, WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.)

N: (And now the conversation continues….)

E: I think I see what you’re getting at. What Jesus really wants from us is conversion, but not just as a one-time-thing. It needs to be a continuous process – like living with a good habit.

F: That makes sense, doesn’t it, given what we know about God’s call to repentance? If we experience conversion, and then act on it, that is metanoia – turning away from sin and back to God – in a very real and special way.

E: Yeah, I see; it’s like “Conversion plus action equals … holiness.” But riddle me this, Frank, how come we have to go to a Priest and everyone else just goes directly to God? Why can’t we do that, too?

F: The Church teaches that Reconciliation is a Sacrament, not a DIY project. Because it is a Sacrament, it is firstly instituted by Christ, secondly carried forward by the Church, and thirdly must be conducted by Ordained Clergy with the authority to perform the Sacrament. Not all Christian churches treat reconciliation as a Sacrament. Our Church does.

E: So you’re saying that Ordination makes it possible for a Priest to forgive sins, is that right?

F: Almost. Think about the prayer of absolution the Priest says: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” God has reconciled us to himself, and it is through the ministry of the Church that God pardons us at the moment when the Priest exercises his Sacramental authority received during his ordination to carry out Christ’s instructions found in John 20:21-23. Hey, Narrator, how about a little help with that?

N: (Sure thing: 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”)

F: Our Church’s teaching is that Christ himself gave the Apostles the authority to provide absolution. This occurred because they experienced what is called “an ontological change.” The remain human and sinful – like all of us – but unlike all of us, Christ has imputed, assigned, righteousness to them which no one could ever earn through personal effort. That ontological change is passed down through the Apostolic Succession so that each ordained Priest receives the same authority.

E: Huh! That’s something I hadn’t thought about. It must be even more difficult now with all the furor over the errors made by a small cadre of errant Priests and the hierarchy surrounding them.

F: Sad but true. But even there, those who repent have access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Remember, it requires conversion and action – including penance accompanied by the act of restitution and the experience of renewal. That is what the Apostle Paul referred to as the “ministry of reconciliation.” That means we can have our relationship with Christ restored through the forgiveness of our sins which is promised as being available to us through Christ when we acknowledge regret for our sins and repent, confess our sins and do penance, and seek and accept his forgiveness.

E: That sounds a little complicated, but still, it makes sense. I think you’re telling me that God always makes it possible for me to get back to him and be restored to his Grace. It makes me wonder, though, how some people can regret their mistakes and try to make amends with God but their lives are still a mess. How does that happen?

F: There are still always the temporal consequences of sin that must be lived out. Let’s try another example from the Old Testament. Do you remember that Bible passage we hear during Lent in Exodus 17:6 when Moses struck the rock at Meribah?

E: Sure. God told him to strike the rock with his rod and then water came out.

F: Very good; now do you remember the second time Moses struck a rock?

E: There was a second time? Remind me how that happened.

F: The first time, God told Moses to strike the rock. The second time, God told Moses to speak to the rock – to command the rock to yield its water. Moses didn’t do what God told him to do, and because of that, God forbade him from entering the Promised Land. That’s a harsh lesson we often overlook. As righteous and holy as Moses was, the only man to stay in the Presence of the Lord so long that some of the Lord’s Sh’khinah glory made his face and garments glisten will brilliant light, Moses had to endure the temporal punishment for not trusting God and for not showing God’s holiness before the Israelites.

E: Well, wow! Now I’m convinced that it’s hopeless for me to be holy. I’m right back at “What’s the point?”

F: The point is that you don’t have to be holy to be reconciled. The point is that reconciliation restores us to friendship with, in, and for God. Then we experience a restoration of the state of Grace God intended for us when He created us. We are spiritually reborn, converted from a sin-stained soul and reconformed to the image of God. We are radically changed and able to recognize, accept, and make use of the graces God has given us; we are made new again. We do this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we experience a humbling encounter in a person-to-person setting. There are always three persons in that setting: Me, the Priest, and God. It is Jesus who is listening to me recounting my sins. It is the Holy Spirit who is guiding my confessor’s spiritual instructions and provision of absolution. It is God the Almighty and Everliving Creator who provides everyone with this Grace of repentance and reconciliation.

E: I don’t know. That sounds pretty convincing, but I’m still not sure I can make it last.

F: I understand. Let me ask you a question. What is the shortest possible measure of time?

E: I’m no good at math! Maybe a micro-nano-second?

F: No, the shortest measure of time is a “moment.” Remember? It Only Takes A Moment to be loved a whole life long? It only takes a moment to do one holy thing. Can you picture yourself being completely abandoned to God and utterly, profoundly in Love with him if only for a moment? Isn’t it possible you can actually do that, even for just a moment? *

E: Well, if you put it that way, I guess so.

F: Imagine then, that if you can do that once, then you can do that a second, and third, and fifth, and ninetieth, and a 4,357th time. Further, if you can make that many of your moments holy, then you will be different because you are developing the habit of holiness. Repentance and reconciliation is God’s gift to you – especially during Lent – to help you remember that you are created in HIS image, created to be holy, and to help you with that he keeps giving you more moments to “do whatever he tells you.” God does not see us as being holy as he is Holy, but he does see us continually striving for holiness and treasures us every moment we make our lives a holy moment for him. God is always present in our messed-up lives – even in our messed-up church – and because of that we can always be reconciled to him through this most beautiful (N: And most underutilized!) Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a very personal dialogue with him.

E: I guess I really shouldn’t worry so much about what the Priest will think of me then. I should just go in there and get it over with.

F: Maybe you could just go in there and get it started again? Don’t be afraid to approach Christ this way. He took on our human nature to do something we cannot do for ourselves: Redeem us.

E: I see what you mean. Every repenting followed by reconciliation is a new beginning – like the Apostle Paul said – and all I need to do is accept that this is the will of God for me and believe firmly in his divine wisdom, justice, and mercy. That makes a lot more sense than skipping confession because I think it makes me look bad. I already know how I look; I look like a sinner, but I also already know how I can look. I can look like a redeemed sinner!

F: Brother, you bring joy to my heart to hear you say that. And if you listen carefully you will hear the Angels rejoicing, too. God bless you, Ernie!

E: I guess I understand now why so many of us don’t repent, don’t seek the Sacrament of reconciliation. It’s Pride. Talk about “stiff-necked people!” It has been my lack of – my refusal to accept the importance of – humility in my life. Humility is, in a way, a masterful blend of the Four Cardinal Virtues – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Humility gives us the power to be a statesman rather than a politician, a servant rather than a ruler, and a child of God rather than a spawn of evil. Humility is the form of Love Jesus showed by coming to us as an infant – helpless, impoverished, homeless, and yet mightiest of the Mighty.

F: Well, said Ernie! With that attitude, you really can Go Make A Difference. (↔ Music Link) It’s that lack of humility that seems to negate our awareness of sin. We no longer have a sense of sin, what it is, or how much it affects our lives. We excuse it by telling ourselves “Oh, it’s not all that bad,” when instead we still consciously and knowingly choose to disobey God’s call to holiness. We conclude we’re not as sinful as everyone else and so we don’t need to repent. That is a serious error, and it’s really hurting the Church. Ernie, your moments of holiness, along with many other’s moments, can actually help all of us correct that error.

N: (Thanks for tuning in. Someday we might continue this conversation, but that’s all for now.)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

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

* Want to learn more? Read Matthew Kelly’s The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity or join him at The Best Lent Ever  at Dynamic Catholic.

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Aloha Friday Message – March 22, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #3

1912AFC032219 – 2019 Lenten Series #3

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 2

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Psalm 103:11 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him

May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we pick up in the middle of a conversation between two buddies named Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:) with some help from the Narrator (N:). We finished up where Frank had just asked Earnest about what would happen if he stopped taking his diabetes medication.

N: (Previously on A Frank and Earnest Conversation:)

E: You quit smoking by continually quitting, right? How about your medicine for diabetes? What happens if you don’t take it?

F: I get sick and die?

E: Right! Now, let’s remember what Jesus said at the start of his ministry: “Repent and believe the Gospel.” That’s the process called conversion. You decide to change, to embrace “metanoia,” and then you place your faith in him. That’s conversion. Once you experience conversion, you’re ready to follow him. Remember? “Come, follow me.”?

F: That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t last.

E: Unless you make it last. Think of it as a four-step process: Repent, believe, follow, repeat. When we repent and believe, that’s conversion. When we follow and repeat, that’s action. Conversion plus action equals … holiness.

F: I don’t know. It sounds too easy. And, like I said, it doesn’t last.

E: Frank, it’s never “once and done.” Remember, it has to become a habit – like not smoking. Most days you don’t even have to think about that, right?

F: Yeah, that’s true, but this is different. I don’t know how to be holy.

N: (And now ….)

E: Narrator?

N: (1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.)

E: YOU can’t do it without HIS help, and his help comes through Love: Matthew 22:37-39 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” In other words, we make a conscious decision to correct our thinking, our communications, and our behaviors and we make that decision continuously public through our actions. That’s repentance in a nutshell. Narrator, what’s your take?

N: (The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] §982 begins with “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ, who died for all men, desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin. §983 Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ’s gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the apostles and their successors.)

F: Who is that guy? What’s going on, anyway?

E: We’re just trying to tell you two things [1] if you sincerely confess your sins, there’s forgiveness – you acknowledge your sins and repent. That’s necessary because repentance is turning away from sin – which we recognize and regret – so that we turn again toward God. In this case, repentance involves something many people don’t think about: Conversion.

F: You mean like the “born-again Christians” on TV?

E: In a way, yes, we do need real conversion. Here, let’s ask that narrator again for some help.

N: (CCC §1427: Jesus calls [us] to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” §1429 St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!” St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.” §1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus [affliction of spirit] and compunctio cordis [repentance of heart]. Emphasis added.)

E: It’s that interior repentance, the “radical reorientation of our whole life” you seem to be wondering about. Trust me, everyone feels the same way, like we should be able to stop being so sinful. Even the Apostle Paul wrote about that.

N: (Take a look at what the Apostle Paul said: Romans 7:15-20 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.)

E: Now, Frank, do you think Paul worried about whether or not God could forgive him even if he never lost his sinfulness? You see, God can, and does, forgive our sins, and then he forgets them. We don’t need to keep reminding him of stuff he’s already forgiven and forgotten. Think about conversion. Is that something you can do?

F: Like that song “Just As I Am?” (↔ Music Link)

E: Not quite. Jesus expects you to repent, not just show up without doing anything about your sin. He does certainly accept you as you are as a sinner – you don’t have to wait until you’re holy to repent, because you repent to approach holiness – but he wants you to take it through the process of conversion. Remember he said, “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” Believing the Gospel without repentance will leave you dissatisfied. Is that how you feel now?

F: I admit, I was feeling like that, but it I feel have some things to think about. It seems that metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also – and most importantly – a change in actions and behavior. I can change my actions and behavior at least a little and if it doesn’t last long, I can try again, right?

E: That’s right. There’s no limit (N: ← Check it out!) on how many times you can repent – of anything or everything – as long as it includes the aspect of conversion – that “firm purpose of amendment” in the Act of Contrition. Conversion is the key to sincere contrition and effective repentance no matter how many times you have to do it. If Jesus is as real to you as he was to the Disciples at the Ascension, then that should help you realize that you’re confessing to him, not “just Fr. Kelly.” That’s because God’s Mercy is the result of his Justice being dispensed in Love that is so complete and unwavering, so steadfast and constant that we cannot comprehend its full extent. The best we can do is to think of Grace, “the free gift and unmerited favor of God,” which is always available to everyone.

F: You’ve given me a lot to think about. That narrator, too. Maybe I should get home and pull out the laptop and find the Catechism of the Catholic Church (↔ Click Link) and look for the word “repent” I can get some more ideas.

E: Good thinking. RIGHT THINKING! Say hi to Ethel when you get home.

F: Thanks. I will. I wonder if that narrator will be around?

E: I imagine so. He’s got some closing remarks to do here.

N: (Thank you guys for being frank and earnest in your conversation. )

E: Very funny.

F: Yeah, like who else could we be?

N: (It sounds like maybe we need to think more about why we DON’T repent. You folks out there, reading this, WHAT STOPS US FROM REPENTING? That’s something to think about, OK? For next week try thinking about who repents to whom, and why we often decide not to repent.)

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – March 15, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #2

1911AFC031517 – 2019 Lenten Series #2

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Acts 1:11 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Today we continue with our discussion of μετάνοια. Last week we said that metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also (and most importantly) a change in actions and behavior. Today I’d like to share with you a frank and earnest conversation about the “WHY” of repentance. Actually, we’re going to eavesdrop on a conversation between Frank (F:) and Earnest (E:).

A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 1

F: Hi, I’m Frank.

E:  And I’m Earnest.

F: We’re having a conversation about repentance.

E:  There’s got to be a good reason for repentance, so we’ll be looking into that. There’s another person who might participate –

F: we’ll see about that –

E:  and that will be the narrator. His comments look (like this.)

(N:  I’ll try to stay out of the way, OK?)

E: OK.

F: OK.

E:  So Frank, you look a little down. What’s going on?

F: Oh, you know. It’s Lent. Time for the whole “fasting, prayer, and almsgiving” thing – and then there’s the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don’t know why they had to change the name. “Confession” seems good enough to me.

E: What part of that has you worried?

F: Oh, it’s not that I’m worried about it so much. It’s just that … well confession seems to get harder and harder. I don’t know why we repent if all we do is just go out and do the same sins over and over. It’s like “what’s the point?” any more.

E: Well that’s a good question. What is the point?

F: The point is to be reconciled with God and neighbor. You know that! We have Reconciliation because we trust God’s justice and mercy.

E: Yes, that’s why we can – and do – repent. God is just and merciful, your confessor is trained not to be judgmental, and there’s always the Seal of Confession, so what exactly is bothering you?

F: I guess it’s the repentance part. I just don’t seem to get that done right. No matter what I do, it just doesn’t stick. I’m still so angry all the time, and ashamed. The way I’ve acted toward Ethel and the kids, even stopped going to Mass because I don’t want to sit there and not go to Communion because everybody will know I haven’t gone to Confession. Repentance seems impossible.

E: I see. Do you know what repentance is?

F: Of course I do. I’m not an ignoramus. I’m just not holy enough to make repentance a lasting change.

E: So? Do you know anyone who really is that holy?

F: Probably not personally, but there’s people like Mother Theresa and JP2. They were pretty saintly. And there’s Ethel. I don’t know how that woman puts up with me!

E: Were they like that every moment of their entire lives?

F: OK, probably not, but they were way better at it than me!

E: Maybe they got better at it because they practiced it so often. How often to you repent?

F: Alright smarty-pants, now you’re poking fun at me. I don’t go for reconciliation every week or even every month. Mostly I go for Christmas and Easter, and maybe sometimes in between if I really mess up.

E: Is that often enough?

F: It’s as often as I can make it. I know I’m a sinner, and I know I have to stop that if I’m going to get to Heaven, and that means I’ve got to repent. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? You repent so you don’t go back and do “what is evil in God’s sight” any longer? If I keep  keep up like that I don’t think he can forgive me.

E: Tell me this: Has God ever forgiven you?

F: Of course he has! Many times, too. He must be tired of that same old song and dance, though,  every time I hit the confessional booth. Some of those things I can’t get past – like the way Richard always gets to me, or when Ethel starts nagging again. I just lose my cool and blow up.

E: Have you told either of them you’re sorry?

F: Ethel? Yes, she’s my wife after all, and she puts up with me even when I rant and pout for days. Talk about a faith and love! I wish I knew how she does it.

E: She must really love you. How about Richard?

F: Ehh, no, not really. That blowhard wouldn’t accept an apology if you gift-wrapped it.

E: When you tell Ethel you’re sorry, does she forgive you?

F: Generally, yeah, although usually she gives me a piece of her mind, too – which I deserve.

E: So then Ethel, who is human, can forgive you, but God, who is Divine and Omnipotent cannot?

F: I didn’t say he couldn’t do it, I just think he’d get tired of me saying the same thing over and over and not really getting past things like my anger, or – back in the day – my alcohol hang-ups. I mean, it worries me all the time. What if I relapse, or what if I really lose it one day and give Richard the beat-down he deserves, or Ethel – what if I disappoint her again? I just can’t bear to go through that or make her deal with it again!

E: Look, let’s try something different. Have you ever done anything that wasn’t sinful?

F: I suppose I have, but what do you mean? Like maybe when I was baptized? That was when I was a baby so that doesn’t really count; I was already “innocent” – except for original sin, of course.

E: Good. That’s a great way to understand it. Now, let’s say we think about the day you took your First Communion – was there something about that which was sinful, or did you receive in good form?

F: Yeah, it was OK. Fr. Kelly was a stickler about having your hands palm-to-palm and opening your mouth just right so he could lay the Host on your tongue. I did all of that. Ahhh, I haven’t thought about that in a long time. I was just maybe 8 at the time. That was a pretty good day.

E: How about the day you married Ethel? Did you really mean what you said when you took your vows for Holy Matrimony?

F: Of course I did. I loved Ethel so much – still do, too.

E: Never been unfaithful – not even “lust in the heart” like Jimmy Carter?

F: Nope. Not happenin’.

E: Alright, so you do know there are a few times in your life when you “did things right.” How do you describe the times in your life when you “did things wrong?”

F: That’s not it. Being wrong isn’t the problem. What’s getting me is that I cannot repent because I know I’m going to sin again – probably the same things, too. Holiness is spiritual excellence. That’s not in my wheelhouse.

F: What was it Aristotle said about excellence?

E: Dunno. Ask that narrator guy.

N: (Aristotle said, “We become what we continually do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”)

F: Think about this: How did you stop smoking 7 years ago?

E: I stopped buying the nasty things.

F: That was the first day. Did you buy any the second day? The third day? The first year? Yesterday?

E: No. Whttps://www.aloha-friday.org/archives/8031hy?

F: You quit by continually quitting, right? How about your medicine for diabetes? What happens if you don’t take it?

E: I get sick and die?

F: Right! Now, let’s remember what Jesus said at the start of his ministry: “Repent and believe the Gospel.” That’s the process called conversion. You decide to change, to embrace “metanoia,” and then you place your faith in him. That’s conversion. Once you experience conversion, you’re ready to follow him. Remember? “Come, follow me.”?

E: That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t last.

F: Unless you make it last. Think of it as a four-step process: Repent, believe, follow, repeat. When we repent and believe, that’s conversion. When we follow and repeat, that’s action. Conversion plus action equals … holiness.

E: I don’t know. It sounds too easy. And, like I said, it doesn’t last.

F: Ernie, it’s never “once and done.” Remember, it has to become a habit – like not smoking. Most days you don’t even have to think about that, right? Repentance works pretty much the same way. If Jesus is as real to you as he was to the Disciples at the Ascension then, then you know he’s always there for you, always coming back to you in the Sacraments. AND you’ve got the Holy Spirit to help you, too. Repentance opens the door to holiness.

E: But I don’t know how to be holy.

N: (To be continued next week in A Frank and Earnest Conversation – Act 2 Who repents to whom?)

(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.)

(Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com)

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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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Aloha Friday Message – March 8, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #1

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Sirach 17:24-29 24 Yet to those who repent he grants a return, and he encourages those who are losing hope. 25 Turn back to the Lord and forsake your sins; pray in his presence and lessen your offense. 26 Return to the Most High and turn away from iniquity, and hate intensely what he abhors. 27 Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades in place of the living who give thanks? 28 From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased; those who are alive and well sing the Lord’s praises. 29 How great is the mercy of the Lord, and his forgiveness for those who return to him!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Today is the first Friday of Lent, 2019 and the beginning of a series on the word metanoia. That word has come up before a few times, but in this series we will be using it often. It is a word Jesus used at the beginning of his ministry and the Apostle Paul also used it (although not always where we correctly remember him saying it.) Here are three examples. The first is from John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:4, and Luke 3:3“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The Second example is from Jesus at the start of his ministry in Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, and Luke 5:3217 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The third example appears first in Acts 2:38 in Peter’s Pentecost Preaching – 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We know that repentance is an integral part of God’s plan for salvation, and metanoia is the word most often used in both the Old Testament and New Testament for the concept of repentance. Let’s make a quick review of the definition for metanoia. The word in Greek looks like this: μετάνοια, – metanoia {met-an’-oy-ah}. It is a change of heart, a change of mind, or a change of direction as in a one-eighty turn. A closely-related word is μετανοέω – metanoéō {met-an-o-eh’-o}. We should also pointed out – quite rightly – that μετάνοια, – metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also (and most importantly) a change in actions and behavior. Both come from the same root meanings meta – above, beyond, higher; and noein to think from nuos – mind. So, metanoia is to move beyond where our hearts and minds are to a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and feeling and seeing everything in life. When we repent, we have a change of mind – not a renewing of mind (See Romans 1:12). Another way to think of it is we quash, break, nullify, defeat, or conquer a temptation that is repeatedly before us; we break a bad habit; we realign our values-system so that it aligns more closely with God’s values. WE make an effort to sin less even though we know we can never be sinless. Repentance restores our relationship with God, and often it also restores our relationships with community, family, and friends. It gives back to us the whatever or the whomever we lost because of sin; it even gives us back to us. It’s not a matter of time – how long we are away, or of intensity – how greatly we’ve sinned. It is a matter of turning around and going back, repenting. There’s a flip side to that, and that’s what is behind the page.

Repentance restores us back to God. Intellectually, we know God doesn’t move away from us, he doesn’t take off to some mountaintop and sulk because we’ve decided to ignore him. No, he stands at the ready, eager for us to turn around and say, “Father! Abba! I’m back!” We have come back to God, and suddenly we discover God is “back with us.” While we are lost in sin, we cannot encounter God, our Loving Father who is so crazy in love with us that he can’t wait to get us back. He watches for us, reaches for us, comes out to meet us. He helps us find that lost sheep and the coin that escaped our control. Those are things and he cares about them, too; but he cares about us more! He loves us. Well, duh! Of course he does. He made us for the sake of Love. He also redeemed us for the sake of love, and when we accept that redemption, God and the angels in heaven (and saints, too, I reckon) rejoice as a community over our repentance. Why? Because that means they will get to share eternity with us – with God and the angels and saints. But there’s one angel that will not rejoice. He’s the angel that says (and is always telling us), “What’s in it for me?”

As we work through this series, we will also use the “Journalistic Outline Questions,” where, why, who, and so on. Let’s begin, then, with “Where?” Where do we repent? To answer that question, we need to look at where we sin. Where do we sin? Is it a physical place? No, it’s not really like that. We can sin in any location – a home, at work, even in church. Sin is a spiritual predicament, a drawback in our day-to-day living that gets between our life and God’s Life. Our spirit comes from God and it is like him for God is Spirit, and we must worship him (and Love him) in Spirit and in Truth, so I would posit that it’s not in our Spirit that we sin – in fact I’d say we sin against our Spirit. So what does that leave? What part of our spiritual life isn’t Spirit? Let’s take a quick clue from Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin”? Looking back to Genesis 6:5, we read, The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. It is in our hearts and minds that we sin. Imagination, the gift of thought, is one of God’s greatest gifts. It must have been in us even before the Fall, because Eve and Adam were able to imagine what it would be like to be more like God. That was the first instance where earthlings misused the gift of thought and instead of thinking up something good, something evil entered the heart and mind of humanity. The Hebrew word root used here is יֵ֫צֶר (yetser) {yay’-tser} – thought, the forming of ideas in the mind, imagination, mind, frame / framework. It is also translated as inclination of the human heart. If that is where we sin, perhaps that is where we begin to repent. What will we find if we look – right now – into our hearts? Will it be The Word?

One passage that has stayed with me for over fifty years is Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. As I grew (and grow) older, that verse has been and will be the needle in my compass. It reminds me that when I need to know what’s what, I need to go to the Word, especially the Word in my heart. The verse just before that was also one that formed a strong childhood memory. Together they look like this: Psalm 119:10-11 10 With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. 11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.  When we choose to face the fact that we are sinners, we have to make an intelligent, objective assessment of what is in our hearts and for that “you have to use your head.” I’m betting that both you and I can say that often when we sin, it’s because we weren’t using our heads … or we were misusing our imagination! We use our mind to recognize the effect of sin. We feel the effect, but until we admit that that discomfort is the result of sin, we can’t repent. Let’s touch briefly on The 7 R’s to see how that works.

Psalm 51:17 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    Contrite: Sorry; remorseful; repentant; regretful; apologetic; penitent; ashamed. Contrition is the a priori condition for repentance. If we only recognize our sin, we are aware we are sinful, but if we recognize and regret our sin – when we feel remorse for what we have done – we have achieved contrition. You may recall The 7 R’s. The first 3 are Recognition, Remorse, and Repentance. Contrition leads to repentance – or at least it should. This leads to extraordinary graces. You can read about those here: Psalm 103:1-5. All three of these first R’s begin in the heart and are seen with the mind. “Where” we sin is in our hearts, and that is where our repentance must begin as well. Our μετάνοια – metanoiamust begin there to be effective. Turn back to the Lord and forsake your sins; pray in his presence and lessen your offense. God himself has told us he will forgive our sins and remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. – See also Hebrews 8:12, 10:17). That’s a pretty good deal for just turning around and going back! And it’s not really all that much trouble, either. The Word is right where God left it and we treasured it – in our hearts! Deuteronomy 30:14 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. Listen – he calling us Come Back to ME. (↔ Music Link)

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

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Message – March 1, 2019 – You’re full of it.

1910AFC030119 – You’re full of it – Fruit for Thought

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Luke 6:45 45 The good person out of the good treasure a of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil b treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance c of the heart that the mouth speaks.

a θησαυροῦ (thēsaurou) from θησαυρός (thésauros) {thay-sow-ros’} → a store-house for precious things; a storehouse of treasure, including (treasured) thoughts stored up in the heart and mind; the root the English term “thesaurus” which refers to a “storehouse (treasure) of synonyms.” thēsaurós is literally “a receptacle for valuables” therefore the heart is the vessel/receptacle that holds good or evil.

b πονηρόν (ponēron) from πονηρός (ponéros) {pon-ay-ros’} → toilsome, bad, evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful; derived from πόνος (pónos), “pain, laborious trouble” – properly, pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies (misery) that always go with evil.

c περισσεύματος (perisseumatos) from περίσσευμα (perisseuma) {per-is’-syoo-mah} → περί peri- prefix meaning “all-around / excess” as judged by the outcome/results + properly, exceed, go beyond the expected measure, surpasses, to be over and above, to abound.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Hopefully when you read today’s Key Verse, something triggered a glimmer of memory that sounded like “By their fruits you will know them.” If not, perhaps now that I have mentioned that phrase it rings a bell. Here is the source of that saying:

Matthew 7:16b-20 Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

     So there is the idea behind “Fruit for Thought.” We sow and we reap; whatever we sow, that is what our harvest will be. You cannot sow wheat and harvest watermelons where you were sowing wheat. You cannot plant a vineyard and harvest barley from the vines. You cannot plant roses and harvest potatoes from the thorns. But, what about these things we all sow and reap?

– You cannot sow evil and pain and reap good things.

– You cannot spread goodness and joy and reap death.

We’ll come back to those last two statements shortly, but first, why would I tell you “You’re full of it?” Well for that, we have to look into what I used to call “Chick Todd’s Glass Class.

The glass is never half-full. The glass is never half-empty. The glass is always full. THIS glass is partially filled with water and partially filled with air. If you’re a water-breather, that’s good because half of the glass sustains your life. If you’re an air breather, that’s good because the other half of the glass sustains your life. If you live in a vacuum, it’s still good because neither the water nor the air affect you. So, it’s all good as long as you take it all and use what you need. To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be! (LOL)

God’s Grace is like that. It’s all-sufficient, and always good, and always just what you need with plenty extra thrown in for others. We need to be careful, though, of the nature of that surplus. If you, if I, if we think of the full content of our hearts, can we truly say there’s nothing there other than the Grace and Goodness of God? Like the water and air in Chick Todd’s Glass Class, our lives are a combination of what’s in The World. If we think of those two facets of being – breathing air or breathing water – Earth’s creatures pretty much have to be one or the other. While we do breathe fluid as a fully-alive embryo and fetus, once we are ushered into Earth’s atmosphere, our fluid-breathing days are over. Now, I can’t push this figure of speech much farther, but you can see that there truly is a presence of Good and a presence of Evil that we must contend with moment by moment. It is a battle raging inside each of us. It can be a brutally vicious fight. I’m thinking back around 10 years ago, and the story of The Black Wolf and the White Wolf. (← Check it out!)

I think most of us have read the story about the black wolf and the white wolf inside of us, fighting for control. The story ends with the promise that the wolf we feed is the one that wins. In everything in our lives we face the same kind of dichotomy – the conflict between Good and Evil, between carnal and spiritual, between conscience and consciousness of the effect of our choices. We have all fed both and known the victory of each. It’s not a pretty story. I think all of us would like to just dump the whole apple-in-the-garden outcome and get back to God without all the pain and suffering brought about by sin. It’s too bad that isn’t going to happen. We have to deal with sin as is our inheritance; BUT we do not have to be mastered by it!

In Pope Francis’ Lenten Message we find this statement: “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests…” and really, isn’t that the gist of what we have to fight against every day? The amount and degree of evil we see around us is staggering. You hear about it daily in the Major Network News. Terrorists, political high jinks, allegations of crimes committed that sometimes are decades away, and – most heinously evil – new and more gruesome ways to murder children both in and outside the womb. Doctors can force a breech delivery and pierce the neck of the baby with a needle or scalpel to sever the spinal cord before the head is delivered. Or they can use sharp instruments to dissect the child inside the womb and then pull the parts out to be discarded. A newer method is to inject the child’s heart with poison like Potassium Chloride or Digoxin to force a heart attack, and then the dead body is expelled vaginally 1-2 days later. Some will crush the skull and then pull out the remains with powerful suction, or just open the skull and suction the brains first and cut up the rest to be extracted with forceps. And now, several states – and the US Senate! – have given blanket immunity from prosecution to a wide variety of healthcare providers to murder a child up until the moment of delivery and even if it survives that botched abortion, they can just walk off and leave it to die. This is not perceived as anything evil by millions of people! This is every bit as evil as the Canaanites’ worship of Moloch.

This vulgar deity is also known as Moloch, Molech, Milcom, or Malcam, Baal Hammon and his consort Tanit, and in Greek Kronos because of the parallels of that deity devouring his children. Worshippers of this aberration of human nature built huge bronze statue of a grotesque beast with the head of a bull and the body of a man with outstretched hands. There was a large bronze brazier in front of the image. The image and brazier were heated red hot. Infants and children were placed in Moloch’s hands to be burned alive. Their bodies would fall into the brazier and be burned beyond recognition. The World has developed a less obvious form of the sacrifice of innocents to a more palatable “god.” We kill preborn and newborn infants in the womb and on the operating table for the deity called Self. It is no less evil than what was done in the name of Moloch. Evil like this has become so commonplace that mentioning it in the news, in the Government, and in day-to-day life has – for many – become trite and unnoticeable. It is reminiscent of the book by Hannah Arendt called “The Banality of Evil” about the revelations at Nuremberg. People knew about the atrocities and ignored them. That, too, is evil.

Here are some Scriptures related to sacrificing children:

Acts 7:42-43 42 But God turned away from them and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you offer to me slain victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 43 No; you took along the tent of Moloch, and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; so I will remove you beyond Babylon.’

Jeremiah 7:30-32 30 For the people of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord; they have set their abominations in the house that is called by my name, defiling it. 31 And they go on building the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire – which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. 32 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room.

Jeremiah 19:4-6 Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind; therefore the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter.

Leviticus 20:2-5 Say further to the people of Israel:

Any of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in Israel, who give any of their offspring to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone them to death. I myself will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people, because they have given of their offspring to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land should ever close their eyes to them, when they give of their offspring to Molech, and do not put them to death, I myself will set my face against them and against their family, and will cut them off from among their people, them and all who follow them in prostituting themselves to Molech.

Belovéd, our hearts are to be a storehouse of Love and Goodness so that from that storehouse we can bring out great Treasures of more Goodness and Love. My heart, your heart, our hearts ARE truly grieved and sickened by this vile and violent evil; witness Exodus 23:2 You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice. Is the preference for murder truly a majority opinion? If so, we are in jeopardy of the same justice as the perpetrators of such evil. Some of you may, by now, be thinking. “Hey! Stick to Bible lessons and stay out of politics!” Folks, this is not politics – although many, many try to make it about that. This is about morality, ethics, Goodness and Love; it is about Life as God has ordained, not as earthlings have maintained. We know that Good and Evil battle through our days like ravenous beasts. We know God knows that too, and we can see by looking at terrorists, “religious” fanatics, selfish choices that lead to innocent deaths, and obscene acts of fornication and abuse that God has allowed the Tares to grow with the Wheat. (See 1035AFC082710) Even among the Apostles, there was a traitor; he did what he did without interference from Jesus, and it cost him his eternity with God. We are not the deity that created and controls the Universe, nor are we the “deity” created by the hands of men to take innocent lives for selfish reasons. We are not deities at all. It’s time we start being more visibly, vocally, and viscerally outspoken about those who have taken up the mantle of deity for themselves. That is how they have decided to fill their glasses, with sacrilege, blasphemy, and desecration. That is the treasure they have chosen. That is what fills their hearts – Evil. Our hearts are not like their hearts. We can speak out against this evil. You may phone the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

 

We know that the glass is ALWAYS FULL. It might have 120 cc’s of water and 180 cc’s of air, but still, it’s full. If you’re a fish, the water is great. If you’re a butterfly, the water’s not so great. But you know, we usually end up where we’re supposed to be, doing what we’re supposed to do, and living as we’re supposed to live. We may regret some of our choices, but those choices make us who we are and brought us to this point in life. If you think about it, that’s not half bad. We can choose to defend Life – or not. What shall we do, then? Go all radical and protest in the streets? Perhaps that’s not what is required in your life right now, but try this: Give God a little PUSH. Pray Until Something Happens. Take up the FROG – Fully Rely On God. Exercise your FAITH – “Fully Aware I Trust Him.” Are you afraid someone will disagree with you? Remember, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. When you look at your worried face in the mirror, tell yourself “Relax! God’s got this!” BE in him as he is in you. Think of John 16:33 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world! Go forth and bear fruit that is Good (See also John 15:16)

Which treasure chest suits us best? The one empty one with the long tongue and ferocious teeth or the one overflowing with All Good things? With which treasure do you choose to be filled?

 

 

 

 

 

Please read 2 Peter 2:4-12. Thank you for enduring this L-O-N-G post!

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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

     Proverbs31:8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996,      2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. New Living Translation (NLT)

 

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Aloha Friday Message – February 22, 2019 – Our Call to Mercy

1908AFC022219 – Our Call to Mercy

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Psalm 103:2-3a Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity …

Psalm 51:10-12 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right [steadfast] spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing [generous] spirit.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We are already preparing for the 8th week in Ordinary Time. Ash Wednesday will be March 6th – just 10 days from now! What kind of series – if any – would you like to see this Lenten Season? Drop me a line via return email, or leave a comment on the blog site at https://www.aloha-friday.org/ or at the end of this post; just scroll to the very bottom and look for Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published.

OK, enough with the commercials! Let’s get into The Word. A few years back we did a four-part Mercy Series – it was also seen at Catholic 365: Mercy Series. There is a very specific reason I titled this essay Our Call to Mercy. To help explain it, we will share an observation about one of the most successful television franchises – Star Trek. It’s one of those Trekkie Trivia Treasures: What does the Captain of the Enterprise say after s/he gives orders for the course to be laid in and the engines to be activated? It sounds like this – “Lay in a course for heading 275 mark 187.” (Navigator response: Course laid in Sir) “All ahead Warp 6.” (Helm response: Aye, Captain, ahead Warp 6) Q: What does the Captain say to execute that order? A: Engage. That is what we should be doing when it comes to Our Call to Mercy – we are to engage; move forward on a proper heading as directed. To help clarify, let’s look at what we mean by engage:

   In this context, engage is similar to interlock or mesh as when gears or cogs interlock. But it is more like the intransitive verb which means to enter into or to participate. It is to act reciprocally with mutual input and response. This sense of  engage is not just to receive passively, but to actively give and receive with intentionality; to fully involve and include the entire transactional  input and output that influences or affects all participants. Blather. Blather. Blather. Our Call to Mercy is to [1] acknowledge and receive God’s mercy and [2] to  give others mercy unconditionally. “That’s not surprising,” you may say. “Didn’t Jesus tell us to be as merciful as God?”

You remember well, ʻŌmea. Here is the passage: Luke 6:36 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And of course there’s this: Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. We know that our reward from God will be based on how well we followed Jesus’ command: John 13:34 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. That kind of love – agape love – is also unconditional and characterized by kindness, mercy, and grace. This is all summarized in the passage most-often quoted here: Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? There are many words used in Scripture which connote mercy. Among them are: Kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, graciousness, compassion, pity, benevolence, forbearance, forgiving, goodness, lenience, tenderness, favor, goodwill, charity, faithfulness, salvation.

All of these are GIFTS from God. WE cannot earn them, cannot buy them, cannot barter for them, or even really understand these gifts. They are overwhelmingly generous, incredibly opulent, and eternally accessible. We need only accept them in the same way as he gives them, and they are ours. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

To recall something from last week, God rules the Universe, and therefore the Universe is governed by God’s Rules – his commandments and his Perfect Plan. One of those rules states that WE have to share every Gift we are given. It’s so simple it’s obvious, but then sometimes the obvious isn’t so simple. We know what we would be like without God’s Mercy – miserable. We are created in the image and likeness of God; whatever God is we are to be. God is Holy, we must be holy. God is Love, we must be loving. God is Forgiving, we must forgive as he forgives – completely. God is Merciful, we must show others mercy – even our enemies. He has even told us what will happen if we cannot stay engaged in his Plan in James 2:13 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment [condemnation]. God’s Mercy is available all the time everywhere to everyone; the Psalmist illustrates this by saying things like “I called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered me,” and “Hear, O Lord, the sound of My Call.” (↔ Music Link) WE call to God for mercy, and HE answers that call in accordance with his will. Sometimes his will is that we are granted reprise, relief, or even redemption from our adversity. Sometimes his will is that Mercy is best served by our suffering; this is hard for us to hear, because when we ask for mercy, we expect our pain to end. That’s not the Rule. The Rule is that God decides, we don’t. God is righteous, we are not, and we cannot, therefore, make a righteous choice.

We know we can depend on him and his Mercy because of his Righteousness – his infinitely perfect holiness. Psalm 116:4-5 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful; and Psalm 123:3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. We can also depend on his Justice – his infinitely perfect integrity. His gracious Mercy and Righteousness pervade all of creation. He created everything, and he alone knows everything (and everyone!) in all of his creation. He made them for us – all the earthlings – and all who will acknowledge that by living for, with, and in him can and will witness and enjoy his goodness and mercy forever. Such is the kindness of God who ejected Adam from Eden lest he stretch out his hand and take from the Tree of Life and thus live forever in Sin. Kindness is an attribute of God that he expects us to have and to use.

Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Chris — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness* toward us in Christ Jesus.

* kindness – χρηστότητι (chrēstotēti) from χρηστότης (chréstotés) {khray-stot’-ace} goodness, uprightness, kindness, gentleness, kindness that is also serviceable. – See Galatians 5:22-23 where kindness is listed among the Fruit of the Spirit.

When we choose to be unkind, we choose to be ungodly, and that is one very unwise choice! God alone chooses wisely: Romans 9:15-18 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses. ( See Exodus 33:19, and Exodus 9:16) We are all in need of Mercy, and inasmuch as we call for Mercy and receive Mercy, we are similarly to possess Mercy and give Mercy. Everyone, every living soul, requires and receives Mercy:  Romans 11:32 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. It was disobedience that cut us off from the direct Mercy of God – living completely in his presence. It is the Grace of Obedience that restores us to the direct mercy of God. The Grace of Obedience leads us to the requisite for forgiveness: Repentance. From the beginning, God expects repentance as our response to his privilege of Mercy: Joel 2:13 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. This is because 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end  – Lamentations 3:22. We repent – acknowledge our sins and confess our weakness – and we are restored: Leviticus 26:40, 42 40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me – 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. It is foolishness to avoid repentance: Proverbs 28:13 13 No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

The outcome of this is a total transformation: Philippians 3:21 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. We once again become subject to, and therefore in union with, God. 1 Corinthians 15:49 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. We have an Earthly family in the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and a Heavenly Family in  the Eternal Communion of the Saints: Romans 8:29 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.

We call upon God for Mercy, and Mercy we must share; this creates in us a clean heart, a heart governed by Mercy and Love. If you acquire A Clean Heart (↔ Music Link), would you lose your heart of stone? (↔ Music Link) Then indeed each of us can say, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity …. When it comes to Mercy, our order from the Lord is “ENGAGE!”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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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.

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

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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