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 – February 16, 2108 – Top Forty Countdown

1807AFC021618 – Top Forty Countdown

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.

Mark 1:13 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Matthew 4:11 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

¡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!) Good morning and welcome to the first Friday of Lent. Some of us look upon these forty days of preparation for Easter with dread. We sometimes get stuck on the idea that we have to “give up something” for Lent. “Jesus made a sacrifice and so must we.” That’s an OK way to look at it I suppose, but I’d much rather look at it as 40 days of good, strong spiritual discipline (often lacking in my day-to-day endeavors). That means I have 40 days to really work hard on making my relationship with Jesus, other, and myself better. Do you recognize that formula J-O-Y? J is for Jesus, O is for Others, and Y is for you. Lent can be for us a season of sorrow and mourning, of struggle and denial of personal comforts, or it can be a time of waiting filled and willed with great hope!

Why do we wait with hope? Well, it is certainly for the joy of Easter Morning, but it is because of what happened before that stupendous day. Not the Passion, not the Ministry, not the waiting, but only the long-held HOPE that began in Genesis and was perfectly expressed by Job. Here is how he confidently expressed his hope: Job 19:25-27 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; 26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! If you’d like to hear that in a very special setting, try this: “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” (↔ Music Link) MY went into the desert for 40 days as preparation for his ministry.

This period of preparation is described in the Gospels as forty days and forty nights. We see that phrase in Scripture often. One can be quite literal about it and claim it covered 40 calendar days; another way to think of it is as an expression of “a really long time.” Either way, a period of waiting that lasted 40 units of time is a common occurrence in Scripture:

The most famous perhaps belongs to Moses as we read in Exodus 24:18 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights. Again, after Moses smashed the tablets because of Israel’s sin of idolatry, we read in Exodus 34:28 28 He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. Equally famous is the forty days of rain we learn about in Genesis 7:4, 10-12 4 “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

There are more:

  • There were forty years of peace during the leadership of Gideon (Judges 8:28)
  • Goliath presented himself to the army of Israel for forty days. (1 Samuel 17:16)
  • After eating a loaf of bread and drinking a cruse of Elijah fled from Jezebel traveling to Horeb for forty days without stopping(1 Kings 19:8)
  • David rules over Israel forty years (1 Kings 2:11)
  • Jonah announced that Nineveh would be overthrown in forty days, but they repented and the Lord stayed his anger (Jonah 3:4-10)
  • 40 stripes was the maximum whipping penalty (Deuteronomy 25:3).
  • The holy place of the temple was 40 cubits long (1 Kings 6:17)
  • Ezekiel bore the iniquity of the house of Judah for 40 days (Ezekiel 4:6)
  • Jesus remained on earth 40 days after resurrection (Acts 1:3)

When 40 is used in terms of time, it often represents a period of testing, hardship, and reprimand. It is a time of waiting, growing, and preparing for the blessings that are sure to follow. For Jesus, his 40 days in the wilderness were a time of resolution to do his Father’s will. Satan came to test him, perhaps because he suspected Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and Jesus was victorious in the test. At the moment of that Great Victory, Jesus was attend to by angels. Satan had seen enough, and he took off. We sometimes need a reminder of who and what Satan is.

We first hear of Satan in 1 Chronicles 21:1 – he “stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.” He is first referred to as the devil in the New Testament. The terms are roughly equivalent. Satan is a devil and a devil, like Satan, is one who “stands against” – opposes, accuses, contends – against us, the earthlings. Satan, also referred to by his angelic name Lucifer, the “Angel of Light,” is that angel which rebelled against God by desiring to be “greater-than-or-equal-to” God. When he was cast out of heaven (See Isaiah 14:12-15), he took many of his followers with him. He is the prosecutor who charges us with sin and attempts to bend us to his will by twisting the truth; he is a liar. Satan looks like this in Hebrew: שָּׂטָן‎‎ (Satan) {saw-tawn’}, meaning “enemy” or “adversary,” who is always opposed to God’s will, constantly plotting against God and all of humanity. In the Greek version of the Old Testament, he is referred to as διάβολος diabolos {dee-ab’-ol-os}, a slanderer who throws misrepresentation of Truth into our path.

He is the Prince of Demons, the Old Serpent, Old Scratch, and Prince of the Air. He gained Adam’s right to God’s Garden when Adam gave the Serpent a higher level of trust than he gave God.  Satan’s minions (which are not at all like the cute little yellow creatures so popular these days) are called Fallen Angels – δαιμόνιον (daimonion) {dahee-mon’-ee-on} – evil spirits who are the messengers and ministers of the devil. They serve him by plaguing us with lies and more lies attempting to get us to trust ourselves rather than God; in short, they try to get us to commit their sin of opposing God in all things. Jesus saw Satan fall and I sincerely believe he was expecting him to show up when he went into the desert to fast and pray.

That is what we are to do during this season of Lent – fast, pray, wait, and HOPE. Jesus knew what was ahead of him. He did not cower when facing his enemy. Jesus knew he was God’s only begotten Son, and he had a job to do. If you are alive and reading this today, you, too, have a job to do.

God said, “This is my Belovéd Son in whom I am well pleased.” Satan leads with “IF you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Satan tells us as well, “Don’t just stand there! Do something!” This is the same lie he told Eve: “Don’t wait for God to make life better. You can do it yourself.” In this Gospel passage, Satan quotes – or rather misquotes – Scripture. We often hear of folks who decide to “test their faith” by testing God. How do we test God? By taking risks with sinful things we know will hurt us – everything from addictions to misplaced piety. Our holiness does not come from within us – it comes from God and returns to God when we choose to be righteous.

In the Gospel of Mark, the whole forty days and the temptations therein are summed up in one sentence. Jesus was with the wild beasts (μετὰ τῶν θηρίων). This describes for us the intense seclusion of his trial. In addition we can infer that due to the virtue of our Redeemer he was unafraid and unmolested by any beast or vermin as did Adam in Eden. Jesus is indeed the Savior promised in Genesis 3:15, the Redeemer Job anticipated, and the prophet Moses declared God had prepared for his people in Deuteronomy 18:15-18 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. 16 This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” 17 Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.

What Jesus spoke to us was to “repent and believe the Gospel.” In these coming 40 days (minus three for Wednesday, Thursday, and today), we can do just that. These can be the best 40 Days of 2018 if only we live these days in Hope and make them our Top 40 Countdown to Victory in Jesus (↔ Music Link). Belovéd, let’s do this together – let’s make these Forty Days and Forty Nights (↔ Music Link) as authored by George Hunt Smyttan in 1856 the Top Forty Days of 2018. Remember, we each have our own Guardian Angel (↔ Music Link), and all over Heaven we know that we can sing Angels Watching Over Me (↔ Music Link). Perhaps you also will remember to sing one more hymn with reverent joy and hope:

These Forty Days of Lent, O Lord (↔ Music Link)

These forty days of Lent, O Lord,
With you we fast and pray;
Teach us to discipline our wills
And follow Lord your way.

As you with Satan did contend,
And did the victory win,
O give us strength in You to fight,
In you, to conquer sin.

As thirst and hunger you have known
So teach us gracious Lord,
To die to self and only live
By your most holy word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through your Passiontide,
Forever more, in life and death,
O Lord with us abide.

Abide with us, so that this life
Of suffering once past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.

There is such J.O.Y. in Hope! Instead of giving up something for Lent, take up something instead. TAKE UP HOPE! You might just end up in the company of angels.

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

Share-A-Prayer

Pray for an end to the anger that is tearing this nation and this world apart. Anger is one of Satan’s favorite tools (he tried to use it against Job), so use Hope and Joy instead of anger.

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

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 9, 2018 – Follow The Leader

1806AFC020918 – Follow The Leader

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.

Excerpt from Mark 6:30-46 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Mark 1:40-41 40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” (Follow the link to also see the New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) version of this passage)

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Are you ready for a Hymn Sing? When I was a teenager – age 15 – 18 – I was in Christian Endeavor. We used to have kids from all over Denver and many other places in Colorado come together by the hundreds about once a month just to sing hymns together. It was wonderful! I don’t know of anyone or anywhere that is still done; let me know if you do, though, OK? I ask if you are ready for a Hymn Sing because I plan on sticking a bunch of (↔ Music Link) signals in this post. Let’s start off with that excerpt from Mark 6:30-46.

Last week in our lesson on Capernaum, we looked at how Jesus would go off on his own and pray in a deserted place. We certainly do need to get out of the rat-race rut these days and just spend a little quiet quality time with Jesus. We can trust him to sit there quietly with us, and perhaps he might quietly speak a Word of Wisdom to us, or give us a little knowledge, and insight into his life and ours. So, as we did last week, let’s retreat to a quiet place and prayerfully read his Word and sing his praise.

We go away to a place of rest to compose our hearts and minds in God. Some of us feel convicted by our sin and wish to join in the Sacraments to set our lives aright. Some of us feel the necessity of “being religious,” and some appreciate the fellowship with others whose religious aspirations and views match ours. Some of us feel the joy of friendships and some of us feel shunned by the hypocrites around us. Some of us believe we are better at complying with the practices of worship and praise – we recite, gesture, sing, listen, and nod appreciatively on cue – and some of us think that the people around us are superficial religious nuts who have no idea about the depth of faith in our own hearts. If we look at all of these traits of the people at church, we see that we are a microcosm of humanity very much like the crowds – including The Twelve and Jesus’ closest disciples – who were the foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God and The Church of today.

In that sense, we recognize – or at the very least, we should suspect – that we are a work in progress. We are aware of our own imperfections (even if we don’t always fess up to them), and sometimes we are (regrettably) more acutely aware of the imperfections of others both in the assembly and outside in the World. For whatever reason we have for being in church, we come as we are even though we may not exhibit our true selves. Perhaps from time to time we pray or sing “Just As I am.” (↔ Music Link)  And sometimes, if we lift up our hearts and minds in prayer, we acknowledge our sins and repent, calling on our Lord and Savior to cleanse us from the things that keep us at the threshold of the Gates of Heaven as fully-participative citizens of the Kingdom of God. We may, on occasion, become so in tune with what God wants from his servants that we cry out “Here I am, Lord.” (↔ Music Link) There, in church, we are inspired by the people, things, and actions around us to do as Jesus invites: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” In the tabernacle of our hearts, we go to that inner closet where only God sees the real person that we are. Once we have placed our attention in the presence of God, we are ready to take a meal together; we feast on the Word and The Presence of Christ. But how do we get to the Presence of Christ? Can it only be in a church pew that we find him? Christ is always with us, but are we always with him? Recall Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.

Going with the Lord is not difficult if we make up our minds to be where he is when he is there. HUH? Maybe this will help: I have decided to follow Jesus (↔ Music Link). Jesus asks his Disciples to follow him. How are we going to do that if we don’t look for him? We have to follow Jesus. Why? Because when he calls us, we belong to him! Now I belong to Jesus (↔ Music Link) isn’t just a “pretty thought;” it’s a reality once you go wherever he goes. He leads, and we follow because he is the Good Shepherd: John 10:14-18 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us (↔ Music Link) now, you are probably beginning to get the idea of what a Hymn Sing is like!

Certainly we want to follow Jesus! He invites us over and over to do just that:

Matthew 16:24 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

John 1:35-37 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

John 8:12 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Some days we have problems in this era with trusting our leaders to lead us to safety, prosperity, and well-being. We wonder if they are reliable. We wonder, sometimes, if they are sane. But Jesus is another story. He is easy to trust because he is God, and there is a sweetness in trusting in God. Remember Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him! It is why we sing ‘Tis so sweet in Jesus and Jesus Loves Me (That’s not a Music link, but this is).

 

He is calling me, calling you, calling us to follow him. Let’s go already! Like the Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:21-25 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” [See Isaiah 53:9] 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Come on, let’s sing together as we go together and Follow The Leader! You take his hand (↔ Music Link); I’ll take your other hand and go with you!    ♥

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 Message – February 2, 2018 – Capernaum

1805AFC020418 – Capernaum

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Psalm 147:3-5 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. ¡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 will continue with Jesus’ mission which was situated for some time in Capernaum. Last week we looked into an event early in his ministry where, at the synagogue of Capernaum, he combined teaching and the miracles of exorcism and healing. This weekend’s reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:29-39) continues with events immediately after his teaching in the synagogue. He then goes to the home of Peter and Andrew. James and John went with those three. On entering the house, Jesus learned that Peter’s mother-in-law was ill with a fever. He went to her, healed her, and she immediately got up and served her guests. Later that evening, “the whole town was gathered at the door,” and Jesus healed many diseases and cast out many demons. After this long period of healing and ministering, Jesus surely must have been tired. Nonetheless we read (as in our Gospel reading for Sunday) he healed many. As the Psalmist says, God heals the brokenhearted. He heals those whose lives are broken by their health, by their tormenting demons, and he makes them whole. God is so wonderfully powerful that he knows the name and place of every star in the universe. His Word spoke them into being, and his Word named them all. God’s greatness is so vast that we cannot begin to understand it; and yet we experience it daily. The man, Jesus, was surely tired, but God the Son had more to do that day. He went off on his own to pray.

Mark 1:35 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Jesus went off alone to pray several times. He often went to a deserted place. Have you ever asked why he felt the need to pray? He was and is God, after all. A child once asked “Was Jesus just talking to himself then?” No. God the Son was speaking to God the Father. What would Jesus need to pray about? I always felt he was asking for strength, in much the same way as he did in Gethsemane. Here are some examples of passages where Jesus was praying: Matthew 14:23; Matthew 26:36-48; Mark 6:46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18; Luke 9:28; Luke 11:1; Luke 22:39-71; and best of all, John 17:1-26. That last one in John 17 is a great example of how Jesus prayed for his Disciples – including us! Now, how is that that the Creator of the Universe of whom John said, “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (See John 1:3) wants to pray for those Disciples and for these Disciples reading this message? Jesus chose to pray to ask his Father to protect us. Why did he choose? Jesus was human, and as a human I believe he, too, had free will. We understand in Scripture and in Liturgy that Jesus willing sacrificed his own life for us – for humanity. “Not my will but thine be done.” Jesus knows we also have that choice. We can choose to live with, in, and for him or with, in, and for ourselves. The former is difficult and increasingly rare. The latter is easy and increasingly popular; just watch the evening news or any of the several dozen awards programs constantly televised. Jesus went off to pray for himself and for us. He went somewhere that he could control the distractions of his day-to-day life – the crowds, the draining of his personal and spiritual energy, the fear of being killed before it was time … and the absolute knowledge that he would die a horrible death as a completely innocent man. Jesus did this because it was a wise thing to do; it helped him cope with the rigors of his fully human nature; and so the God of whom David said Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure also has the understanding that it is essential for Jesus to pray! If Jesus has the wisdom to pray, and if we wish to imitate Jesus, then we must pray as well. We often hear the words of Matthew 6:6 (in multiple versions here). Many people take this quite literally and set up a War Room or a Prayer Chapel in their own homes. For many years, my prayer chapel was my car. I usually had at least 30 minutes between home and work, and that was enough time to have a good long session with my Triune God El Shaddai-Olam. It’s a good idea to have a certain place to pray that allows you to be free (or freer) of distractions. It’s also a good idea to have a regular time to pray. First thing in the morning seems to work best for many folks. Start your day off with God and pretty much everything is well-ordered because you did the important things first (instead of doing urgent or selfish things first). It is especially important to be regular in prayer if you are one of those souls whose life is struggle after struggle after struggle. David says God heals the brokenhearted. Constant illness, or sorrow, of persecution, or any other negativity can really wear you down. In that verse, brokenhearted is שָׁבַר (shabar) {shaw-bar’}. It carries a connotation for being crushed, torn apart, shattered, or broken into pieces. God heals that! Many of us love sing that old hymn “TAKE IT TO THE LORD IN PRAYER.” What a Friend We Have in Jesus (↔ Music Link) Jesus did; so should we. That peace that surpasses all understanding (See Philippians 4:7) need not be forfeited because we don’t want to “bother God with our troubles.” God knows our troubles. He is pleased to attend to our prayers anytime, anywhere; he will take and shield thee. Take it to the Lord in prayer.  But where?

In most of those passages I gave you about Jesus praying, we are told he went off to a deserted place to pray. That word is ἔρημον (eremos) {er’-ay-mos}, and it means solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, deserted by others, and even deprived of the aid and protection of others, especially of friends, acquaintances, or kindred. Belovéd, you already know we are never alone, especially when we go to God in prayer. Jesus went to such a deserted place just outside Capernaum. You’ll remember that he “relocated” there at the start of his ministry. He was teaching at the synagogue there in Capernaum and then in today’s lesson – he went over to Peter’s house and continued ministering there. Very early the next morning, before sunrise, he left to find a deserted place to pray. I’m going to put two photos here. One is an aerial photo of present-day Capernaum and the other is the ruins of “The White Synagogue,” a 4th century AD synagogue apparently built at the same location as the synagogue in Jesus’ day. (See bottom photo below)

 

If you look at the photo on the left, you can see that there are still many places that look “empty;” there no agriculture, gardens, or housing; just rock and dirt and plenty of it! I say this because it’s not that difficult to find a place close to where you are that can be your preferred place of prayer. It’s good to have a time and place that you yourself set aside for the sole purpose of conversing with our God. In the lower right of this photo you can see the balloon marker that indicated the location of Capernaum, and the body of water that fills that corner if the Sea of Galilee. It had several names throughout the millennia. It was also called Lake Tiberias. In Arabic it was called Buḥayrat Ṭabarīyā. Historically in Hebrew the name was Yam Kinneret. It is famous for its biblical associations; its Old Testament name was Sea of Chinnereth, and later it was called the Lake of Gennesaret. Chinnereth and Gennesaret are probably the same place – a smallish town a wee-bit southwest of Capernaum and right on the coast of this fairly large lake. And so Belovéd, we can feel comfortable going to the God who spoke into being all the stars and then named them each one by one, the God who heals the brokenhearted, the God who had the courage and will to pray to his Father for himself and for us. Please, take it to the Lord in prayer! Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. That means he even understands you and me. Praise God!

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 – January 26, 2018 – A Prophet In Deed

1804AFC012618 – A Prophet In Deed

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Deuteronomy 18:18-20 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19 Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! January is nearly gone. What’s happening to this world? How can we be going through time so quickly; and why is that speed so predictable? Part of it has to do with, I believe, the toilet-paper syndrome. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes. Ah, but which “end” are we coming to?

For many of us born in the 40’s, the end is nearer for us than for those of you born in the 70’s and 80’s. Even those among us in the early 90’s are probably already experiencing that time acceleration. When we were children, we couldn’t wait to get older – even counting our age in fractions – “I’m nine-and-a-half plus 13 days.” I find I’m in less of a hurry nowadays, but time is not. It just flies by in a blur. It goes by so fast that some days we can’t even keep track of what has happened, or what is happening, and have only foggy guesses about what’s going to happen.

There are plenty of folks out there, though, who are in the business of telling us what’s going to happen based on what is happening. Quite a few of them work in mainstream media or politics (although sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which lately). Some of these folks think they are prophets of the future and believe they can predict what happens, and they think that is “prophecy.” They believe they are able to prophesy what’s going to happen to us if so-and-so doesn’t stop (or start) doing such-and-such. We sometimes attribute the Gift of Prophecy to horoscopes (God forbid!), or to pundits who blather on in public about every possible outcome. That is a common and unfortunate understanding of what and who a prophet is. Let’s get that straightened out. Here are a bunch of questions about prophets, and yes, these are intended to be punny.

Prophet Humor Was Jimmy Swaggart a prophet or a loss? Do Camp-Meeting Revivalists depend on high-volume prophets? If Jerry Falwell joined weight-watchers, is that a prophet reduction? Could the spaces between the texts on the Dead Sea scrolls be considered prophet margins? Is Jean Dixon a paper prophet? How about Sidney Omar? When Tibetan Lamas levitate, is that a rise in prophets? Is Oral Roberts an example of prophet variability? Are seminaries prophet-making organizations? Were/are Sun Yat Moon and Eric Pepin gross prophets? Atheists are non-prophet centers. Was the Soviet Polit Bureau a non-prophet organization? Was the PTL club a prophet distribution program or a non-prophet organization? Are Seminaries, Monasteries, Nunneries, and Abbeys prophet centers? If you win all of the sports betting pools at work, does that mean you have prophet-ability?

OK, yes, most of those are pretty lame and based on the homophones prophet and profit. But really, what is a prophet and what is a “seer?” Here is a very formal definition gathered from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE):

One common notion is that a prophet is someone who predicts the future, a “seer” as in someone who is clairvoyant, can divine the future through supernatural powers. In this connotation, a person is often already considered a false prophet, a hoaxer, and one whose pronouncements are self-promoting. This is not the biblical meaning of prophet. There are words in the Bible that are translated as “seer,” and the persons associated with that word (usually the Hebrew חֹזֶה (cho-zeh) {kho-zeh’} or רָאָה (ra’ah) {raw-aw’}) are recognized as persons through whom God sends messages. We see this in 1 Samuel 9:9 (In former times in Israel, anyone who went to consult God used to say, “Come, let us go to the seer” for he who is now called prophet was formerly called seer.)

The Old Testament word for prophet is נָבִיא (nabiy’ ) {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over”,” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. How then can we tell the difference? If we look at the verses following Jesus description of wolves in sheep’s clothing, the answer is clear.

In today’s key verse, we have a prophecy about a future prophet who will be a perfect prophet in word and deed. He will speak what God tells him to speak. Jesus is that prophet. In Sunday’s Gospel we will hear in Mark 1:22 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. In John 5:19 and John 7:16, Jesus confirms that he is a prophet when he says that the words he speaks are not his own, but come from his Father, the one who sent him. This is the primary test of a true prophet – that what s/he says is consistent with what God says. A second test is whether or not the prophecy comes true. Jesus consistently speaks and does what God commands. Those who listen and believe receive the reward of eternal life. Those who refuse to believe are judged by the Word, i.e., the words Jesus spoke on behalf of his Father:

John 12:44-49 44 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47 I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49 for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

In just a few verses surrounding today’s Key Verse, we have a snapshot of Jesus’ teaching on a Sabbath in the vicinity of  the synagogue of Capernaum (Mark 1:21-31) combines teaching and miracles of exorcism and  healing. Mention is not made of the content of the teaching but of the effect of astonishment and alarm on the people. Jesus’ teaching with authority, making an absolute claim on the hearer, was in the best  tradition of the ancient prophets, not of the scribes. The narrative continues with events that evening (Mark 1:32-34; see the notes on Matthew 8:14-17) and the next day (Mark 1:35-39). The cleansing in Mark 1:40-45 stands as an isolated story.  [ Notes, New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)] Capernaum Καφαρναούμ (Kapernaoum) {cap-er-nah-oom’} was the place where Jesus set up a residence. The name means “village of comfort.” It was a large and busy city in the region of  Galilee situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. Lake of Gennesaret) near the place where the Jordan flows into the lake.

I urge you to revisit John 3:16-22 so that you can see how Jesus’ prophecy – speaking the Word and Will of God – fits in with his mission. Just for good measure, we should also carefully read (in context) Matthew 10:32-33 and Matthew 10:40-42. We can get some idea of what happens to people who claim to be prophets, but who do not have the word, the will, or the permission of God to speak. Check out Jeremiah 14:14-19, Matthew 7:15-19, and of course all of Matthew 24. Anybody can take a guess at what the future will bring, but only a Prophet can tell us God’s will. Many claim to have that ability to prophesy, but test everything as we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good. What do we use as a test? Please, go up a couple of lines and click on Matthew 7:15-19. The answer is in verse 16a – 16 You will know them by their fruits. If any prophesy is inconsistent with what God himself says or directs, it is FALSE.

Belovéd, do not cling to what is false, but only what is true, and remember that everything Jesus said or did conforms to the definition of a True Prophet because he was Divinely Inspired – Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. By their fruits you will know them through the deeds that they do in Love. Deeds performed as acts of sacrifice are validations of the words of Love. Jesus’ message is the prophetic Word – spoken on behalf of God and powered by his inspiration – that becomes redemptive by his perfect sacrifice. Jesus’ loving promises are spoken in love, and the deed – the action of, the doing of – speaking those words of promise is the Love of God through Christ Jesus. There is now truer deed, no truer prophet, no truer prophecy that to prophesy as Jesus did: John 15:13 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This prophecy is Love given in deed and not merely in word. 1 John 3:18 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

Here is how we can know the effectiveness, the efficacy, of that prophecy. We learn of the Love of God and it’s power is that we Love To Love (↔ Music Link) him in word and in deed … and in song! (In Ireland, they have a proverb, “He who sings well prays twice.”)

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

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 – January 19, 2018 – Fish Catch

1803AFC011918 – Fish Catch

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 1:14-15 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This coming Sunday, many of us will be reading an excerpt from the book of Jonah. One of the most popular stories circulating on the Internet is about the little girl and her teacher discussing Jonah’s story: A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah!” The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Well, then you can ask him.” Jonah was called to get a job done. Among the Aloha Friday Messages there are several essays about being called. In some of those writings, the person(s) called responded, in others, they did not. Recently we’ve written about The Church and those who were called, answered the call, and then went back to their former lives. Today, I want to look into a few of those persons who answered the call and followed through. Let’s start with Jonah.

You will remember that God called out to Jonah and told him he was to go to Nineveh, but Jonah disobeyed and ran away. Jonah 1:1-3 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. He was on that ship when a huge storm came up and the sailors cast lots to find out who had brought this great misfortune upon them. Ships sailing to and from Tarshish bore fantastic treasures of silver, gold, iron, lead, and tin. A ship in such a storm would mean a great loss in lives and cargo. When they had cast the lots, Jonah was identified as the “source of the problem.” He came up with a very surprising solution. He told them to throw him overboard!

Jonah 1:15-17 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 17 But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This is where I’m supposed to point out the Bible doesn’t say “whale;” it says “great fish.” How did Jonah survive in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights? It’s a mystery, one that prefigures Christ’s death and burial. However it came about, Jonah was apparently convinced the Lord meant business because he prayed for his life:

Jonah 2:8-10 “Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” 10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.

Jonah repented and obeyed. He went on to carry out his mission of prophecy against the people of Nineveh. Jonah 3:1-5 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

Sackcloth in the Bible is a cloth made of black goats’ hair. It was prickly, itchy, and fairly heavy. As the name implies, it was used for sacks, and also worn by those in mourning or – along with ashes – as a sign of deep repentance. Nineveh “heard the word and repented.” When Jonah’s message was understood – that Nineveh would be overthrown – they [1] believed, [2] fasted, and [3] humbled themselves in repentance. Our key verse for today has pretty much the same formula: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Nineveh was spared because a fish caught Jonah – sort of the reverse of what happens when humans go to catch a fish. We may recall that Jesus was particularly interested in fishermen. His first Disciples were fishermen – Andrew and his brother Peter (see last week’s post). Just a few words farther down the page in the Gospel of Mark we see that Jesus’ call to several fishermen was a life-changing experience. I’m going to put the whole passage here so you don’t have to look it up. (But it would be wonderful if you went and found your Bible to look it up or even clicked on the link I provide so you can see it in three different versions!) Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. We have two sets of brothers who may have been business partners. They were called and left everything – nets, boats, family, coworkers (“hired men”) – and followed him. They had been catching fish for a living, now the fish were less important than following Jesus. FOLKS, THEY CHOSE TO FOLLOW HIM. They left everything because Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you Fishers of Men (↔ Music Link). Many are called, few are chosen. (See Matthew 22:14) Some were apparently either not called or ignored the call:

Zebedee, the hired men, Thomas’s twin, Peter’s wife and his mother-in-law, the bride and groom at Cana, the boy with the loaves and fishes (brought to Jesus by Andrew), the man carrying the water jug who leads the way to The Upper Room, the person who owned The Upper Room; the man who owned the donkey and the foal; these are not called by Jesus, and except for Zebedee we do not know their names. Of the Twelve who were called, we know their names and smatterings of their history. We know they were called by Jesus. Some who were called turned away, like “the rich young ruler.” The ones who answered the call became The Church. The ones who lived the call became the saints. BUT “those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (See John 3:16-21 especially verse 18)

Fish and fishermen figure prominently in Jesus miracles: The feeding of the 5000 and the 4000, the Great Catch (See Luke 5:1-11), Jesus’ third appearance to the Disciples after his resurrection (See John 21:4-14), and the fish with the coin in its mouth (See Matthew 17:27).

Answering the call of Jesus is undoubtedly a life-changing experience. We give up the life of sin and paganism and live in Christ’s Law of Love as The Church. If we return to that life, we choose to fail to do what is right and willfully do what is wrong which means we are living outside The Church. Go back to last week’s post and read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20. If those who are in The Church receive the same condemnation as those who are outside The Church, then what sort of Eternity awaits whose who deny The Church by denying The Lord? Are all to be saved? Will all repent and believe the Gospel? Do me a solid and check out these two verses, then answer me, “What must we do to be saved?”

A Gaelic Prayer

See Matthew 10:32-33 and Luke 9:26. C’mon, you’ve got to be at least a little curious! Are we going to catch the fish, is the fish going to catch us, or are we in the desert of The World where no one can fish and no fish can be caught? Are we doing anything to catch people for God? Suppose we learned we have “forty days” left? Would burlap be a good substitute for sackcloth? If God is already crazy in love with us, shouldn’t we reciprocate? What are you doing, what am I doing, what are we doing to impress God with our worship and awe? Whatever it is, we should stop and just go with Psalm 63: “Step by step You’ll lead me and I will follow you all of my days.” (↔ Music Link) Matthew 9:9b … and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

As the hand is meant for holding and the eye for seeing, you have created me for JOY, O God. Share with me in finding that joy everywhere: in the violet’s beauty, in the lark’s melody, in the child’s face, in a mother’s love, in the purity of Jesus. Amen.

Traditional Gaelic Prayer

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

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Aloha Friday Message – January 12, 2018 – What’s in a name?

1802AFC011218 – What’s in a name?

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 1:40-42 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)

1 Samuel 1:20 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”

1 Samuel 3:10 10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessings always be with you and may God bless you in every way, Beloved!

When I was growing up (I’m almost afraid to tell you this!) everyone I knew called me Chuckie. By the time I got to fourth grade, I “rebelled” against that and told everyone to just call me Chuck. That worked all the way through high school. Then, at Hope College in Holland Michigan, I changed it to Chick – mainly because I was tired of all the “chuck” jokes like “how much wood could a wood chuck chuck,” and chuck wagon, and drill-chuck, and chuck-wrench, and chuck steak, and chuck out, and up-chuck, and chuck-full, and (maybe the worst) chuck-hole. Whew! Well, it didn’t take much longer for “Chick” to get the same treatment – here chick-chick-chick, and Chick Corea (one heckuva great jazz pianist), Chic-lets, chickadee, chick’n’noodle (really!), and chick peas, chick flick, Chick-fil-A, and a weird one – chickerica. ¡Ai! I submitted to these nick names of Chuckie, Chuck, and Chick because my given name, Charles, sounded too formal to me … “Chaahhhhrlz.” Now, my dad was called Charles by many people – including my mom and most of his coworkers in the Air Force and the Denver FHA office – but he never wanted to be called Charlie (and I never picked up that moniker, either!). On Facebook I was unable to get my profile listed as “Chick Todd,” even though nearly everyone I know and everyone who knows me calls be Chick. Nonetheless my name is CHARLES OLIN TODD, III (and there are also COT IV and COT V!)

Charles is an old European name – the French version is Charles and the Germanic version is Karl. The name is usually translated as “manly” or “strong.” My middle name, Olin is from Gaelic for holly or Norse for “recalls ancestors.” Todd – Scottish (northern Middle English) for red (tod) or fox (todde). When I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, I chose the name Timothy. Timothy comes from the Greek word (Timotheos) {tee-moth’-eh-os} meaning “honoring God.” Timothy was a fellow laborer in Christ with the Apostle Paul. We named our son using my names: Timothy Olin Todd. My Dearest Darling Wife’s name, Crucita, comes from the Spanish word Cruz (her father’s first name which means Cross) with the female-diminutive ita attached (and the z becomes a c). Many people believe that giving a child a strong name affects them throughout life; I can see some merit in that. Others believe that giving a child a unique name or a uniquely-spelled name (like Krystiin instead of Christine, or Emily, Emely, Emilee, Emilie, or even Emmalee) sets them apart. We came across a little girl named Escusada (really!) because mom thought it was a beautiful name – even when she found out that word is Spanish for “toilet.” In this era, the giving of names is more about being unique than it is about having a name with meaningful roots. That was not the case in most cultures until the mid-twentieth century.

Biblical names always had meanings that expressed something about the person. We know many of them:

  • Abram – Exalted Father
  • Abraham – Father of many
  • Isaac – He laughs. Laughter.
  • Κηφᾶς (Kephas) {kay-fas’} In the New Testament spelled Cephas (pronounced KAY-fus, not SEE-fus), the Aramaic word for “Stone” or “rock.” The Greek word is Πέτρος – (Petros) {pet’-ros} Peter = “a rock or a stone”
  • Andrew = “manly” from Greek Andreas {an-dreh’-as}
  • Simon – From Σιμων (Si-mon’), the Koiné Greek form of the Hebrew name שִׁמְעוֹן (Shim’on) Shimon = “he has heard”
  • אֶלְקָנָה (Elkanah) {el-kaw-naw’} = “God has possessed” or “God has created” He was Samuel’s father.
  • שְׁמוּאֵל . Shemuel {sehm-oo-ale’} Samuel = “his name is El”
  • חַנָּה (Hannah) {chan-ah’} = grace; she was Samuel’s mother.
  • Iesous {ee-ay-sooce’} Jesus and/or Joshua = “Jehovah is salvation” Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor. Symbolically, the name Yehoshua/Yeshua/Jesus conveys the idea that God (YHVH) delivers or saves (his people). Yehoshua {yeh-ho-shoo’-ah} is another form of Joshua or Jehoshua = “Jehovah is salvation” – also seen as Yeshua – Jesus.

Some surnames – family names – can from what people did, for instance

  • Cooper – a maker of wooden, steamed-wood staves for barrels using metal hoops
  • Wagoner and Carter – operated a wagon or cart
  • Smith – a metals worker
  • Joiner – for carpenters
  • Mason – Stone worker
  • Spenser – provisioner
  • Marshall – horse-keeper, steward
  • Stewert – steward, bailiff
  • Garth – lives or works in a garden
  • Brooks – lives near a small stream

All these names carry a meaning related to what the parents hoped for in their child or what the person did as a profession. We know that the names of American First Peoples – from the Iroquois to the Hawaiians – also have clear and carefully-chosen meanings. For the most part, the kinds of names shown here represent positive connotations. There are also slang terms with very negative connotations usually used as racial slurs; we won’t list any of those here, but all of us probably know a few. The derivations of those words can be as fascinating as the derivation of other names. They are used as “labels” to point out the “otherness” of people, to make it clear there is a separation between “us and them.” Sometimes in the Bible, those names of separation are used to identify persons and pursuits that are improper. When I started this essay today, there were a few of those words that came along with the biblical names. None of us would want to carry these names to the next generation!

  • Fornicator
  • Adulterer
  • Prostitute
  • Robber
  • Reviler
  • Idolater
  • The unrighteous

A rose by any other name is …. A sinner by any other name is …. I want to show you just two passages that have these kinds of labels. It is important to remember as you read these words written by the Apostle Paul that he is referring to alleged Christians. They claimed to be Christian, but their behaviors were very un-Christian:

1 Corinthians 5:11 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-20Do 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. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.


Fornication and adultery are two very common and very misunderstood words in modern usage. These behaviors are so prevalent that they are widely accepted, even among Christians. The Hebrew word translated “fornication” in the Old Testament was also used as an expression of idolatry which was characterized as spiritual whoredom. Adultery, as it appears in scripture, always refers to the sexual sin of married people with someone other than their spouse. The word is used in the Old Testament both factually and metaphorically. The Hebrew etymology for “adultery” is “breaking wedlock.” In the New Testament, the two Greek words translated “adultery” are nearly always used contextually to refer to sexual sin involving married partners. The modern dictionary definitions of fornication (voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other, which would include adultery) and adultery (voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse). In the New Testament, “fornication” comes from the Greek word porneia, which includes adultery and incest. Porneia comes from another Greek word that also includes indulging in any kind of unlawful lust; and you might also see that it is the root word for this modern era’s severe plague of pornography.

How many “couples” do you know who hold marriage in disdain and practice cohabitation (“shacking up,” “just living together”) because they refuse to accept the idea of Holy Matrimony? They are fornicators. How many individuals do you know that have had extramarital affairs? They are adulterers. Do you know anyone, male or female, that offers or participates in sexual activities for money or other remuneration (including porn stars and those who watch porn, and of course prostitutes of any type)? They are all prostitutes. Do you know people who cheat on their Income Taxes? They are thieves. Do you know someone who uses racial slurs or character slurs or speaks derisively about neighbors or public figures? They are revilers (all of us should click on that link!) These are things so common they are deemed “acceptable,” based on the rampant moral relativism propagated throughout The World. The worst aspect of that is that very, very few people consider any of this to be “wrongdoing” or unrighteousness – even among Christians. Keep in mind what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you. Too many people are too willing to judge everyone. “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (See Matthew 7:1-2) and if “those outside” judge us as Christians, what is the outcome? “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Why are these things wrong? They are wrong because they contradict the Will of God and the Truth he created them to be.

The citizens of the “outside” have declared war on each other and dragged us into their mess. Stay out of it! MYOB! If it is true that “What we do says who we are, actions speak louder than words,” then we must avoid labeling or being labeled in any way as unrighteous wrongdoers, because Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Is that unfair? No, it is not. It is what God decreed. It is his universe, his rules. If someone doesn’t like that, (as I’ve said often), they are in for one helluva surprise! “But they’re such good people! Look at the great things they do for poor people, for people who are discriminated against by good people! See how generous they are! Anyone who does good things for people is a good person. You can’t tell me that someone who says they love God and takes care of other people is evil!” OK. Go read Isaiah, Chapter 5 and Matthew 24:4-27, and maybe even Psalm 50. Then you will know that God has spoken. Are you listening, servant? For what have I to do with judging those outside?

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

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Our friends, family, and fellow citizens in California now dealing with floods and deadly mudslides after losing everything in those overwhelmingly devastating fires.

BONUS SECTION FOR ONLINE VERSION ONLY

” So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

Deuteronomy 13:5
Deuteronomy 17:7
Deuteronomy 17:12
Deuteronomy 19:19
Deuteronomy 22:20-24
Deuteronomy 24:7
Hebrews 10:26-31 26 For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Frank Peretti On Knowing The Truth
“There’s no way for you to know whether what I’m 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. [Editor: If you’re searching for the truth, and there is none, then what are you searching for?] You’ve got to have a truth that true whether you believe it or not. It is a truth that is true whether you like it or not. It’s true whether you even know about it or not. It’s just TRUE: OBJECTIVE EXTERNAL ETERNAL TRUTH THAT STANDS IN AND OF ITSELF.”

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

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 – January 5, 2018 – The Fruitful House of Bread

1801AFC010518 – The Fruitful House of Bread

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.

Matthew 2:5-6 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

¡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!)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Welcome to another year of engaging with God’s Word. A year ago we looked into the idea of Showing Up. The importance of showing up cannot be overemphasized. If you’re not there, you can’t be part of what’s happening. In school, it means you are unavailable for instruction. At work it means you are unavailable for production. In church, it means you are unavailable for praise. In life, it means you’re not available for days, nights, or weekends. In that message from a year ago, we looked into the day the Magi showed up at the house of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. We don’t know if that house was in Bethlehem – the place where Jesus was born – but we should know a little more about that place – Bethlehem of Ephrathah. It is a very interesting name and an even more interesting place. Let’s start with the word, Bethlehem.

לֶ֣חֶם בֵּֽית־ Beit-Lechem or Beyth Lechem {bayth leh’-khem} means House (Beyth) of Bread (Lechem). What a perfect place for the birth of The Bread of Life! It is the place where Jacob buried Rachael. It is in the Tribal Possession of the Tribe of Judah. That area was very beautiful and fertile, abundant in figs, grapes, almonds, and olives. The country is what we’d call “hilly,” gently-rolling hills. It is just a bit uphill from Jerusalem and about 5.52 miles south of Jerusalem (straight line distance). Here’s a little table that will give you some idea about the elevations in that area. Mt. Hermon is the highest elevation in Israeli- controlled territories:

TABLE:

City Elevation (feet)*
Mount Moriah (Temple Mount) 2438 ASL
Jerusalem 2474 ASL
Bethlehem 2543 ASL
Mount Hermon 7,297 ASL
Sea of Galilee -695.8 BSL
Dead Sea -1,410.8 BSL
*ASL/BSL = Above/Below Sea Level

Bethlehem is connected with the story of Boaz and Ruth (and hence to the genealogy of Jesus) in Ruth 4:11-12 11 Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you produce children in Ephrathah and bestow a name in Bethlehem; 12 and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

In this passage we also see the place-name Ephrathah; אֶפְרָ֗תָה {ef-raw’-thaw} or Ephraath {ef-rawth’}. It was considered a synonym for Bethlehem by even as far back as the book of Genesis. Ephrath is an older name. We see it in Genesis 35:19-20 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. People from Ephrathah would be referred to as אפרתי (Ephrathites); for example Jesse of Bethlehem (the father of David) is called an Ephrathite (1 Samuel 17:12), and so are Elimelech (Naomi’s husband was Elimelech which means “my God is King”) and Naomi (whose name means “my delight”) and their sons Mahlon and Chilion died (Ruth 1:1-3). Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, went to live in Moab after Elimelech and his two sons died; Ruth’s name means “Friendship.”  The name Ephrath(ah) means “place of fruitfulness.” (It also ironically means “ash-heap!”) The most famous prophecy about “Bethlehem Ephrathah” is found in Micah 5:2-3 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. You can see that this is the Scripture cited in our Key Verse, Matthew 2:5-6. Let’s look back at Micah’s famous prophecy again:

It begins with But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah …. It helps to understand a little about that peculiar designation. It has an important meaning in societies that have a tribal-based administration. It works like this: Nation → Tribe → Clan → Family → Person. Bethlehem of Ephrathah is a small clan of the Tribe of Judah of the Nation Israel. King David was born there and his family is/was part of that clan. David is a son of Jesse (whose father was Obed, the son of Boaz and Ruth). Jesus, in turn, is also a descendent of Jesse (See Isaiah 11:1 and the First Chapter of Matthew.)

As we continue, we read from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Another way to display that last phrase is “Ancient of Days.” This is a synonym for God (See Daniel 7:9). It also occurs as from everlasting, or from antiquity, or from eternity. This ruler is and will be, of course, the Christ of God, the Son of David, the Word (Logos), the Light of the World, and the Messiah promised in Eden.

In verse 3 we see Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth. To whom does “she” refer? About 30 years before Micah recorded this amazing prophecy, Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman [virgin] is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. And what about give them up until the time? For the people in Micah’s vicinity, this also meant that “Daughter Zion” would be delivered from her enemies in the same way that the world is now being delivered from our Ancient Foe. (See Revelation 12:1-6)

And lastly, then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. Historically, the return of the Remnant of Israel freed by Cyrus (See 1742AFC102017 – Whaddya think of that, eh?). Biblically, it is all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesse, and The Messiah (by adoption). It all starts in the Little Town of Bethlehem (↔ Music Link) a quiet little town in the hill-country from which came the greatest of earthly Kings and the King of Kings. God does stuff like that. He picks the second, or even eighth, son. He chose Jonah who was a reluctant, even rebellious, prophet. He chose a pagan (Gideon a.k.a. Jerubbaal) to rescue Israel from the Midianites. He chose Cyrus to deliver Israel from Babylon. Moses was 80 years old and a fugitive shepherd when he saw The Burning Bush. Abraham and Sarah were so old no one but God could see it was possible for them to have children. Elisha was out plowing a field when Elijah named him as his successor. The Apostle Paul was a zealous Pharisee viciously persecuting The Way when Jesus called him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. When God chooses, no one looses – as long as they obey God.

How about us, Belovéd? Are we small fish in a small pond in a small creek on a small hill? What shall we do if God asks us, or plans for us, to do the extraordinary? Is there a good way to handle a request like that? Consider the humongous request presented to Mary, the young woman who would bear the Son of God. Can we speak with confidence that same fiat? “Let it be done to me according to your word.”? God only knows what can happen if we just show up and say, “OK, Lord, what’s next?” Who but he knows how fruitful we can be in his House of Prayer?   בֵּית תְפִלָה (bayith tephillah) {bah’-yith tef-il-law’} (See Isaiah 56:7)

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

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 – December 29, 2017 – Never Ending Love

1752AFC122917 – Never Ending Love (↔ Music Link?!?)

1 Corinthians 13:8a Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:13 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

It’s true you know. Love never, never, never, never, ever ends. Love never quits. Love cannot be stopped, or killed, or be overcome. Love can be tainted, abused, forgotten, betrayed, corrupted, and even despised; but it can never die. Why is this, Belovéd? Surely by now you know. It’s part of our family treasure. God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them. (See 1 John 4:16) In fact, our family, the Family of God is our Forever Family – if we have love for one another and for God.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We made it! It’s the end of 2017 in just a few hours. Perhaps some of us may not celebrate here on earth with friends and family, but we will nonetheless be alive to mark the end of this year and the beginning of the next. This last Sunday of the year, the first Sunday after Christmas, is dedicated to remembering the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. By adoption, we are also members of that family.

We don’t really know very much about Jesus’ early years. We know quite a lot about his birth, his genealogy, his mission, and his Passion; but, we have very little to go on about what kind of a kid he was. Here are a few “one-liners” that are the only clues we have:

Luke 2:21 21 After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:40 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:52 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

At one point we are told that when he was forty days old, his mom and dad took him to the temple for the Rite of Purification. There they were met by two very remarkable characters – Simeon and Anna. (See Luke 2:22-38) In addition, we have a little knowledge about his relative, John which you can find here: Luke 1:57-80 – The Birth of John the Baptist. John was the son of Zechariah and Mary’s relative, Elizabeth. (His full name was Yochanan ben Zekharyah – John son of Zechariah).

We have the account of the Magi visiting the Holy Family in a house, but we don’t know how old he was then nor do we know for certain where the house was (but it wasn’t in the stable and he wasn’t in the manger). We know of course that after that visit from the Magi, the Holy Family fled to Egypt to evade the violent wrath of Herod (See Matthew 2:13–23). We also know the story of when he was about 12 and stayed behind at the Temple. The ending of that story (found in Luke 2:41-52) is that second reference above. We have no idea how old Jesus was when he returned from Egypt and moved with his family to Nazareth. So between roughly 13 and 30, we don’t know what the Holy Family was up to except that Jesus grew up, got smarter, was well-liked, had a keen mind and some strong curiosity, and that he was obedient to his parents. That sounds like a good family life, doesn’t it? I’m sure that, like me, you know many families that would just love for their life as a family to be that simple.

Family life never seems to be simple, though. The Holy Family certainly had some drama as they started out in life together! Angels, visions, visitors from the east, a murderous plot against an innocent child, an impromptu trip to a foreign country that was the reverse of the Exodus from Egypt, a presumably quiet return to their homeland after a lengthy absence, a career for Joseph in the construction business, and doubtless some worries over what would truly become of the boy who would be known as “The Son of the Most High.” Well, maybe not such a normal family after all? These days, however, a “normal family” is more and more difficult to define. Somehow, however, if it is a family, it has to be centered on Love because Love begins in the community of the family. A family’s love should be like God’s love. That may not be the case for many families. Never Ending Love is easier for God than it is for us.

Did you click on that music link at the top of the page? That’s a lovely song about God’s Never Ending Love. I’ll tell you what I know about that kind of love: It is stronger than Death! Have you ever wanted to tell God to give you back a loved-one who has passed? We know that’s not in The Plan, but sometimes we want it anyway. There are several accounts in the Bible of people being “raised from the dead,” nine of them in fact; well, maybe 10, but nine of them died again anyway:

Accounts of People Raised from the Dead – who also later died

  1. Elijah raised the son of the Zarephath widow from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22).
  2. The son of a Shunammite woman was returned to life by Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35).
  3. A man’s life was restored when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21).
  4. At the moment of Jesus’ Resurrection, many believers were also raised (Matthew 27:50-53).
  5. The son of the widow of Nain was resuscitated as he was being carried to burial (Luke 7:11-15).
  6. Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41-42, 49-55).
  7. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44).
  8. Tabitha was raised from the dead by the Apostle Peter (Acts 9:36-41).
  9. Eutychus was raised from the dead by Paul (Acts 20:9-1010).

And lastly,

10. Jesus was “raised from the dead,” but by resurrection, not resuscitation. He rose to eternal life in a resurrected body. (Matthew 28:5-8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5-7).

In families, we’d like for all of us to just keep going, just stay together forever. I think that’s because most of the time we forget that we are all going to live forever – not here on Earth of course since most of “forever” will be spent with or without God someplace other than Earth. You know by now that I’m cool with that. I think it’s just great, and I don’t mind being on this side of the grass as long as I know that the other side of the grass is the front entrance to Heaven! I know that because of the Love I know from my family (the people God gave me as parents, siblings, and relatives). I furthermore know through the love of my friends (the “parents, siblings, and relatives” I chose for myself – with God’s help of course!). The combined love I know from God, from my family, and from my friends is what sustains me on my worst days and what makes me exult on my better days. I am grateful for, and pray for, everyone I have ever loved (and there are many, everyone who has ever loved me (also quite a few), and anyone who has ever loved them (many, many). It is indeed a Never Ending Love.

Now, some of us of a certain age remember a song called I’ve got a Never Ending Love for You (↔ Music Link) What if you sing this to your spouse, your child, your mom & dad? What if you sing this to The Holy Family? What if you sing this song to Jesus?!?!

Belovéd, what if Jesus sang this song to you? He did, you know. He’s singing it right now. Stop and listen.

Jesus loves you, and so do I. It’s part of God’s Never Ending Love Story. AMEN.

(Please play that second music link a couple more times with your eyes closed and imagine it’s you and Jesus doing a duet.)

 

 

 

Forever Love
(See Psalm 16:2) What can be better than love!?
*Songwriter: Delaney Bramlett
Music & Vocals: Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett
Check this link for the LYRICS.

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

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Aloha Friday Message – December 22, 2017 – A Guest with a Gift

1751AFC122217 – A Guest with a Gift

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! 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.

Today I have the privilege of once again welcoming a Guest Author, Pastor John W. Kretser. John and I were laboratory supervisors in the Navajo Area Indian Health Service Agency back in the ’80s. We developed a lasting friendship having shared many trials and adventures in our work and many joys and assurances in our love for Jesus. Rev. Kretser offered to share some of his sermons with us to help alleviate the effort of preparing something every week during and after my weeks of feeling less than optimal. I am sharing it, with minor edits, because it expounds on the True Joy which is so easily lost in our present age. With great thanks and love, here is his message for the Moon Beam Network members:

Isaiah 11:10 10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. (NRSVCE)

Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV): 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving                                                   December 24, 2006

A teacher asked her students how they celebrate Christmas.

“Tell me, Patrick, what do you do on Christmas Eve?”

Patrick said, “Me and my brothers and sisters go to midnight Mass and we sing hymns. Then we come home very late and we put mince pies by the back door and hang up our stockings. Then we go to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with all our toys.”

“Very nice, Patrick,” she said. “Now, Jimmy, what do you do at Christmas?”

“Me and my sister also go to church with Mum and Dad, and we sing carols. When we get home, we put cookies and milk by the chimney and hang up our stockings. We hardly sleep waiting for Santa Claus to bring our presents.”

“That’s also very nice, Jimmy,” she said.

Realizing that there was a Jewish boy in the class and not wanting to leave him out of the discussion, she asked him the same question.

“Now, Isaac, what do you do at Christmas?”

“Well, we also sing carols,” Isaac responded.

Surprised, the teacher exclaimed, “Really!”

“Oh, yes. We do it every year. When Dad comes home from the office we all pile into the Rolls Royce and drive to my Dad’s toy factory. When we get inside, we walk through the warehouse to look at all the empty shelves and then we sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Then we all go to the Bahamas for 2 weeks.

As I reflected on this cute little story it occurred to me that perhaps the hidden lesson in the tale might pertain to appreciation. Of all the characters in the story, the one who expressed the greatest appreciation for Christmas or even mentioned the name of Jesus was the Jewish boy who was able to relate in practical terms to just what Christmas meant to him and his family. The others, by comparison, related to Christmas in terms of ritual, tradition, and fantasy, none of which included even a mention of the central figure that Christmas is supposed to honor, the Lord Jesus Christ. Father Christmas and Santa Claus are offshoots of the blending of pagan and Christian beliefs and seem to be the focus of greatest interest and attention to the Christian children in this story.

I think this little story is an example of how the world regards Christmas. The emphasis is, clearly, on worldly notions and values. I discovered this the other day while I was looking for some clip-art or photos to use on my annual Christmas letter to family and friends who are some distance away. Out of the 900 images I checked, there were only 12 that one could say were related to the Bible account of the birth of Jesus Christ. All the rest were pictures of presents, Santa, reindeer, ornaments, trees, wreathes, mistletoe, snowmen etc. I believe this experience, just as the humorous story does, reveals where the hearts of most people are today when it comes to Christmas, including those of us who call ourselves ‘Christians’.

Someone may be thinking right this moment, “John, why don’t you just lighten up? What’s wrong with a little fun even if it isn’t all focused specifically on the religious aspects of Christmas?”

There is nothing wrong with a little fun and joy in many of the traditions that have attached themselves to the Christmas celebration. However, we should remember these traditions are merely “attachments” that have added to, but have not improved, the true reason for the season. What is wrong is that these attached traditions become more important in people’s hearts than the spiritual reason for celebrating Christmas. It’s a bit like the fellows from the country who went to visit New York City but became so caught up in all the sights, sounds, hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station they never did see the city with its many sights and, instead, they wound up spending their entire vacation without setting foot outside the terminal. They became stuck in a small portion of what could have been a far more memorable experience.

But there is a more subtle shift away from the spiritual that most people are not aware of because it takes place in the church community. Christians love to hear the Christmas story. For the great majority of believers this story consists of several elements:

  1. The angel appears to Mary to tell her she will be the mother of the Messiah.
  2. The angel appears to Joseph to tell him the same thing.
  3. Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.
  4. Joseph and Mary have to stay in a stable because there is no room at the inn.
  5. When Jesus is born the angels sing.
  6. The angels tell the shepherds about Jesus.
  7. The wise men follow a star to Bethlehem and give gifts to Jesus.

That’s it! It is a true and wonderful story, although not entirely accurate, and it is right to celebrate the wondrous event, the birth of the Savior of the World. However, there is so much more to the story than this. So many people become stuck on the Christmas story to the point they would prefer to hold onto this lovely story about a miracle baby and never go beyond it. As proof of this, how many times you have heard others, or yourself, say something like, “Oh! Christmas is my favorite time of the year!” The truth is that Christmas was only the beginning of a new and significant period of time in history that would set in motion another whole set of wondrous events, each proclaiming the glory of God and His infinite love for us.

Our scripture verse for today, taken from the book of Isaiah, reminds us of this truth and takes us far beyond the birth of Jesus Christ contained in the traditional Bible story. It is the truth about the gift that keeps on giving.

This particular verse is part of a prophecy by Isaiah regarding the Messiah. Bible historians, theologians, and commentators have written a great deal of material on this whole chapter of Isaiah as a two-fold prophecy. One part of the prophecy deals with events that have already happened – but were yet to come when Isaiah foretold them pertaining to the reign of King Hezekiah, the captivity and return of the people to Jerusalem. I don’t have time to discuss this part of the prophecy today.

However, the second part of the prophecy deals with the Messiah, Jesus Christ; the scattering of the Jews following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; their return to a united Israel; the return or Second Coming of Jesus Christ; and the establishment of His millennial kingdom. This is what our scripture verse for today is all about. The first words of verse 11, “And in that day… are significant because they clearly indicate a time in the future, not only the future for the people of Isaiah’s time but our future, too. The promise for the first coming of the Messiah has taken place and it is the fulfillment of that promise that we celebrate at Christmas-time. But, Isaiah tells us there are more and even greater things to come from this Messiah.

The next words in this scripture verse are there shall be a Root of Jesse, a phrase that clearly points to the second coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The “Root of Jesse” indicates the royal line of David, the genealogy of which leads from Judah, one of Jacob’s sons, to Jesus. This was first prophesied by Jacob over his son Judah approximately 1000 years before Isaiah was even born back in Genesis 49:10: The scepter shall not depart from Judah … until Shiloh comes, whom all people shall obey. Shiloh is yet another word for Messiah and refers to the same event, the Second Coming of Jesus that Isaiah referred to in his prophecy. This is awesome!

The next words of the verse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the

Gentiles shall seek Him, or as the Living Bible expresses the same words, will be a

Banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him… A Banner is a rallying symbol, and Jesus the Messiah is the banner for the gathering of peoples from all over the earth. This is a prophecy of the coming of people of all nations to the knowledge of God which is a work that has been in progress ever since Jesus gave His disciples their mission before He ascended into heaven. It is the mission which is our responsibility as Christians, today, as we work and wait for the return of Christ.  This mission is described in Matthew 28:19-20 19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

It is also interesting to note that the verses spoken by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel did not reveal a new Bible concept. The concept of evangelism was first given in Genesis 12 when God said to Abraham, “… 3I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you. (See Genesis 12:3)

Isn’t it awesome and amazing to see God’s plan for man’s salvation has been in effect for nearly 4,000 years? All these words and prophesies were written or spoken by men under the inspiration of God in many different periods of history. It is reassuring to me and serves to prove the authenticity of the Bible; it exposes the notion as impossibly ridiculous that the Bible exists by the collaboration of ordinary men.

Finally, the last phrase of our scripture reads …And His resting place shall be glorious.” There are many opinions on exactly what or where the resting place is, including Jerusalem, the temple, Mt. Zion, the right hand of God and the body, or church, of Christ. It could be all of these but I tend to favor the notion that the ultimate resting place of the Messiah is our hearts, the target of all God’s desires for His children. In Luke 12:34, Jesus said, “F or where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Ever since Adam fell away from Him into sin and death, God has been working on Plan B to restore that perfect relationship between mankind and Himself, 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) How much plainer can it be? God wants to be the treasure of our hearts even as we are the treasure of His heart.

What a deal that is for us! As we make Jesus our heart’s treasure, we inherit blessings in this life and then eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Brothers and Sisters, I don’t know where your heart is on this Christmas Eve. I earnestly hope, wish, and pray that you might know that Jesus is the reason for the season. That you are for Him and He is for you the Pearl of Great Price, the treasure hidden in the field of your own heart and the gift that keeps on giving, even unto the end of time and beyond.

Perhaps you have desired to accept this gift, but don’t know how to go about receiving. Perhaps you have not desired this gift before, but now you want it. Perhaps you have received the gift and want to make sure someone else receives it. Perhaps you merely want to affirm receiving the gift. How is it done? Let the words of the beloved Christmas carol show how.

“O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in;
be born in us, today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord, Immanuel.”

Hallelujah! Amen.
Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Pastor John W. Kretser

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

May Hope and Peace and Joy and Love

be yours in the Coming of The Christ Child

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The Todd Family 48th Annual Christmas Letter – 2017

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Here we are facing the end of another year that has passed way too quickly. Much of what has happened has been surprising – even though we saw it coming. We apparently need to forget about being “retired!”

Crucita is actually busier than ever. She’s still active in two retired-teachers organizations, and subbing at “our little school” – St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic School. She jumped in as a temporary-full-time teacher for a couple of weeks in December when one teacher left suddenly. This year she “broke a record” and subbed for every grade level including Kindergarten! That was “interesting!” we had planned on laying aside our roles as RCIA/C teachers, but no one else stepped up, so we’re back at it again with three young catechumens and two adult candidates. It’s very rewarding work. Maybe this coming Easter, someone else will step up to take the reins. Crucita does an amazing job catechizing the children. She is now the Vice Chair for the Pastoral Council; Chick left the council after 6 years due to health reasons.

Chick is still working – sort of – but only as a management consultant for Hawaii Home Infusion. He decided to step down from his duties as a lector and cantor at church. We decided it would be too much of a distraction if the lector fell over on the way to the Ambo. He really enjoys the RCIA/C classes, and continues to work on the Aloha Friday Moon Beam Network blog – there are now over 600 posts there! All of the messages are sent out by email, but it’s possible in the near future that only a link will be emailed; the Site Manager figured out a way to make a Reader View available even on Windows devices.

Health issues continue to play a significant role in our lives. We both got knocked for a loop in September and October with some horrific flu-bug. Nonetheless, Crucita manages her health issues quite well. We found out in October that Chick has a full-thickness tear in a tendon in the left shoulder. We considered surgery, but the surgeon recommended Physical Therapy first. That’s going well, and may pave the way for moving forward to replace both hips. We are hoping that if those surgeries are successful, we may be able to do some traveling again. That would be great news for Crucita.

The biggest change this year is that our son, Tim, has moved to Kauaʻi to be our live-in caregiver. He arrived mid-August, and has already made a huge difference by picking up the chores Chick just can’t handle any more. He brought along his cat, Lucius, and started busking around the island. Most days or evenings when he’s out he pulls in pretty darn good money! We are really happy to be reunited after 20 years apart; it has taken some getting-used-to for all of us, but it’s well worth it.

Cereza is still living and working in TN. Her boys are doing well in their classes; aged 13 and 11, they are good to their Mom and enjoying going to church. Perhaps if we are able to travel …

As for what’s next, Crucita is in the early stages of planning a BIG party to celebrate our Fiftieth Anniversary in April of 2019. She’s enlisted the help of some young ladies whose wedding we attended. The events were just beautiful, so she’s hoping to capitalize on their experience. And of course ALL OF YOU ARE INVITED!  Stay tuned for further details.

Come visit sooner if you can. Our email addresses are shown below and (surprise!) we’re also on Facebook. Be sure to check out http://www.aloha-friday.org and to join the Moon Beam Network. To sum it up, we’re doing pretty well, and still crazy in love. We’ll close with our traditional

Christmas Blessing:

May Hope and Peace and Joy and Love
Be yours in the coming
of the Christ Child!
Chick                       and                       Crucita

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