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

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

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

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

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

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

chick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love in Christ,

Chick

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

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Aloha Friday Message – April 20, 2018 – Flock to the Shepherd

1816AFC042018 – Flock to the Shepherd

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.

¡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!) Before we get into today’s lesson we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of you who prayed for us during our catastrophic weekend recently. Officially we are told that the Northern end of Kauaʻi around Hanalei received more than 28 inches of rain in 24 hours. In the 48 hours ending April 15 at 6 p.m., Wainiha got 32 inches of rain (Use the link to see the map). That’s more than Mount Waiʻaleʻale — the wettest place on Earth — which got “only” 22 inches. The flooding was epic. At least 3 homes were completely destroyed, several dozen were badly damaged, Our Mission Church – St. William the Confessor in Hanalei – was rendered unusable, and Hanalei Elementary sustained significant damage as well. Multiple landslides across Kūhio Highway, our main North-South road, stranded residents and tourists. It’s going to be an expensive cleanup and will take quite some time to return to normal. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the property damages on all 7 of the main Hawaiʻian islands is formidable. You can find more news here. We deeply appreciate your continued prayers. Now, down to the business at hand.

John 10:17 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

We all know that tired old debate about the chicken and the egg. The best answer is that the chicken came first because it was what [1] laid the egg, and [2] incubated the egg until it hatched, and [3] mothered the chick to maturity. That makes sense, and contrariwise not much else does. In the same line, we could ask, “Which came first, the shepherd or the flock?” That truly is a tricky question. If we are thinking of Cain and his little brother Able, the answer is that the flock came first because God made all the “living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” (See Genesis 1:24-25). Scripture shows that in verse 26, God decided to create man; so we see that in the Creation story, the flock was there before the shepherd. However, the GOOD SHEPHERD was there before the flock. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus came before Adam (See John 1:2-4), before the cattle, before the dry land, and even before the deep.

It is this same sequence-seeking, seeing which comes first, that sets the scene in our Key Verse for today. Jesus must first lay down his life in order to take it up again. But wait, Jesus is eternal, was there before the sheep were created, and is The Good Shepherd. How can he lay down his life? He can do that because he will willingly sacrifice his own human life in his own human body so that he can take it up again in his own resurrected body. He is eternally The Good Shepherd with or without his human body. He is eternally divine. He cannot be resurrected, though, unless he first dies. We know that makes sense because we know how to answer the question, “Which came first, the Death, or the Resurrection?” The Good Shepherd has always been part of God’s plan for salvation, and it ends with all of us, his flock, being resurrected so when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. (See 1 John 3:2) It is always that way in God’s plan: First things first and Last things last. He has revealed to us that, like a good Daddy, he “saves the best for last.” Let that sink in for a moment.

What is the last thing we do on this earth? We die, and for most of us, that is not a conscious choice. However, that’s not the absolute last thing we do on earth. We also decay. That also is not a conscious choice. These things have to happen first, though, so that the “last things” can happen in their proper order. What, then, is the last thing we experience? Well, properly speaking, the last that happens to us is to be rewarded with eternal life in our resurrected body – also not a conscious choice, but one we willing accept. We are able to accept that reward because of conscious choices we make before we die. What is the last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die?

The last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die is to be in the flock of The Good Shepherd. Let me expose a little flaw in the assertion that the sheep came before the shepherd. The sheep indeed were created before the shepherd, but it is the shepherd that calls together the flock. Without a shepherd, sheep form a herd – a social group of four-legged mammals all of the same kind that live and move together. With a shepherd, sheep become a flock because they come together to move to a different place because of the presence of the shepherd, not because of the instinct of the herd. Sheep choose to follow the shepherd. Now, in popular culture, we regard sheep as mere stupid animals who can be easily led because they don’t think for themselves – hence the term “sheeple.” But let me tell you, unless you have tried shepherding a herd of sheep, you have no idea how obstinately independent they can be. You recall those stories in the Bible about lost sheep? They get lost because they choose not to follow the shepherd. They abandon the flock for their own purposes – however foolish that may be.

The Good Shepherd tells us he lays down his life for his sheep. Shepherding sheep is something that requires presence and committed involvement. Jesus contrasts his care for his flock with the hired man’s lack of care for the flock. Jesus says, This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. (See John 10:12-13 for details) A real shepherd cares more about the sheep, even to the point of risking – giving up – his life for them. One does not lead a flock of sheep by remote control (unless you count this guy on the Internet). The Good shepherd leads his flock. The cattleman drives his herd. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they know him and follow his voice. The cattleman may know some of the members of the herd but would be hard-pressed to know if one was missing. There certainly are many ways of managing a large group of social animals, and there are also many types of shepherds.

Good shepherds lead their flocks to good pasture, safe places, and refreshing rest. When it comes to humans as social animals, we have seen shepherds who are not good. They do not lead their flock to protection and rest, but instead lead them to destruction and death. We know that, for the most part, humans choose to follow those shepherds, to become part of those flocks, to listen to those voices. Following that kind of shepherd also ends up in eternal life; but it is a life we should not consciously choose – it is a life without the comforting Joy of the Presence of God and his Angels and his Saints. When we choose to flock to The Good Shepherd, we are the sheep of his flock. We don’t hear about a “flock of buffaloes.” There are some critters that are not inclined to be shepherded. There are limited exceptions of course, but generally shepherds and sheep go together. Our Good Shepherd indeed laid down his life for us so that he could take up his and ours again. Once for all – all time and all his flock – he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (See Hebrews 10:14) And who were those who were sanctified? Those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:3-4) Isaiah 40:11 11 He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

You can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd,” (↔ Music Link) and for that matter you can’t roller-skate in a flock of sheep either, but you can choose to flock to The Good Shepherd. He knows you, and he leads you to greener pastures beside still waters. The Good Shepherd leads us in love to Love for Love because he is Love. Blesséd be God For EVER! (See Psalm 118:1)

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

Share-A-Prayer
Please continue to pray for everyone around the world – not just Kauaʻi – who has suffered the effects of inclement weather. We didn’t choose the weather, but we have chosen to not only survive but to prevail – with God’s and neighbor’s help.

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

Special bonus shot! Not many people know we have a herd of buffaloes here. Some of them got loose during the storm. You don’t see buffalo on the beach very often.

 

 

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Wainiha to Princeville (via Google Earth)

Aloha Friday Message – April 13, 2018 – Can I Get a Witness?

1815AFC041318 – April 13, 2018 – Can I Get a Witness?

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Luke 24:48 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! I hope this title seems familiar to you because we’ve used it before. In fact, already in this year of 2018 we have built teachings around the idea of a witness at least four times. Are we stuck in a rut? No, I think it’s more like we’re on the right track. In our American culture, being a witness is a huge part of our daily lives. Even the newscasts like “Eye-witness News” affect the way we receive information. Instead of the traditional reporter-on-camera broadcast, this form of reporting uses observational data in live-action video and other visual components. There is less emphasis on third-person observation and more emphasis on the experience of “you are there.” The premise is that the person in the field is the presenter of the information instead of the anchor back at the station. The anchors become providers of segues between reports and function as “media magnet” to boost ratings. This format, which has been branded in broadcast corporations around the world, began with KYW-TV in Cleveland, OH and was expanded and improved by news director Al Primo. The emphasis on historical authenticity encouraged audiences to feel they were more directly involved in whatever was happening now. As mass-media communications became denser and more sophisticated, the immediacy of being part of history has also risen to become the expected norm. We can sit in our living rooms or the hair salon or our favorite sports bar and be “live witnesses” to something happing anywhere in the world. We become part of the history being made by being witnesses to history in the making.

There is another aspect of being a witness that also plays a big role in our lives today, and that is the legal concept of being a witness. Just as with the historical interpretation of witnessing, the legal interpretation depends on seeing, hearing, or in some way gathering and sharing information that is used to make legal decisions. Most folks would agree that the legal usage differs from the historical usage because the legal usage involves experts in the law who openly try to sway the legal system to interpret events in favor of their cause – a client or government institution; they give the facts a spin which they hope will benefit the persons on whose behalf they work. Many would argue these days that in the historical concept of witnessing, there are even more “spin doctors” who work ever harder to spin things, but without us realizing it. Whether it’s in the evening news or in the courts, the emphasis these days is consistently, “I’m telling you the truth and ‘they’ are not.” Here again we see the impoverishing effects of moral relativism. Something can be true only if we believe it to be true. “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” How can there be a witness to something which may or may not be true?

Let’s turn to the Bible and the book of Proverbs to start answering that. Proverbs 14:25 25 A truthful witness saves lives, but one who utters lies is a betrayer. We also gain some insights in Exodus 23:1 1 You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. There you have it, possibly the first mention in the Bible of fake news. In the Mosaic Law, there were prohibitions against “he-said-she-said” suits. God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites how to make life-and-death decisions for people who broke the law. Deuteronomy 17:6 On the evidence of two or three witnesses the death sentence shall be executed; a person must not be put to death on the evidence of only one witness. This is echoed by Jesus in Matthew 18:16 16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. The Apostle Paul brought up this idea several times including 2 Corinthians 13:1 1 This is the third time I am coming to you. “Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”  1 Timothy 5:19-20 19 Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. Hebrews 10:28 28 Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” The part that I underlined there is an example of using legal and historical witnessing as a deterrent to further infractions against The Law. A central theme in the Bible is, of course, The Law.

There are over a dozen words related to “law” in the Bible (e.g., lawful, lawgiver, lawlessness, lawsuit, and even lawyer) and over 600 occurrences of such words. In the Old Testament, we often find the word תּוֹרָה (torah) {to-raw’} which we recognize as the word Torah – Law. Some of us will remember the episode in Numbers 17 where a cadre of rebellious complainers tried to usurp Moses’ authority. God told Moses to gather a rod – walking stick, staff, or scepter – from each of the twelve tribes, and also the Rod of Aaron, and to lay them in front of the Testimony – The Tent of Meeting which held the Ark of the Covenant containing the stone tablets of The Law. When Moses went back the next day, Aaron’s Rod had three stages of new growth – buds, blossoms, and fruit (it was an almond branch). This was a testimony from God against the rebels to convince them that they needed to stop complaining. The “witnesses” were the twelve rods that did not bloom and the one that did, and they were witnesses in the presence of The Law legally and historically.

Wherever there is a law to be enforced, there are also witnesses to aid in the enforcement. Wherever there is an event to be remembered, there are also witnesses to aid in the documentation. If two or three (or more!) persons witness, the likelihood of identifying Truth is enhanced and increased. It is important, then, to remember that being a witness carries with it the responsibility of being objective in reporting what we see and/or hear. At times, this requirement for objectivity is literally a life-or-death matter. Even in the life and teachings of Jesus, we see what happens when objectivity fails.

Let’s look for this in John 5:31 31 If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. (Good News Translation – GNT): 31 If I testify on my own behalf, what I say is not to be accepted as real proof. I strongly encourage you to read this in context by going to John 5:24-33. In Jesus’ life, the “spin-doctors” were the ruling classes – Pharisees, Sadducees, the Sanhedrin, and the Elders. At that point in his life, Jesus had Disciples, but he did not have witnesses. We’ve discussed the derivation of witness before. It comes from the Greek word Μάρτυς (martus) {mar’-toos}  meaning a witness; an eye- or ear-witness; one who testifies. You may recognize it as the root of the English word martyr. Jesus did die as a martyr, and also as a redeemer, and as the Only Begotten Son of God. We are to be witnesses of that Truth. We are to testify to the Truth of the Word – Who is, was, and always will be The Law, the ever-living תּוֹרָה – the fulfillment of everything God gives and receives. We are more than two or three witnesses; we are billions throughout all of human history and human law.

Turning again to the Letter to the Hebrews, we read about the history and law of Israel as the Nation consistently and heroically bore witness to God’s Goodness as we read in Hebrews 12:1-2 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

We should also consider what the Apostle John said about one’s testimony about the Son of God in 1 John 5:6-13, especially verse 9 (use the link to see this in context): If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.

If God himself stands as a witness to the Truth – historically and legally – of Jesus, the Christ of God, we too can bear witness and testify, with our lives if necessary. We are the witnesses; now, who will testify?

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

Share-A-Prayer

Did you print out the list I sent you Tuesday? If not, please do. If so, please add

  • SR – experiencing a protracted and painful recovery from knee and shoulder surgery. Please pray for a full and expedient recovery.

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 – April 6, 2018 – Credo in unum Deum

1814AFC040618 – Credo in unum Deum

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1 John 5:1-2 1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah] is born of God, and whoever loves the father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Did you have a wonderful Easter? We certainly did! Crucita and I attended all three services of the Triduum, cheered on our Elect as they received their Sacraments of Initiation and are now Neophytes, watched as their dad, as well as our son Timothy, came into full communion with the Church, and experienced a ton of blessings in our Retreat with the kids. God is GOOD! (All the time!)

Yesterday, April 5th, was also a very special day. April 5, 1969, I received my Initiation into the Church with my Air Force friends looking on at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. In fact, there have been several important celebrations in my life recently:

  1. March 25, 1977 – Confirmation at St. Bede the Venerable Church in Montgomery, AL
  2. March 27, 1948 – Baptism as an infant at 1st Presbyterian Church in Rapid City, SD
  3. April 3, 1955 – 1st profession of faith at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO
  4. April 5, 1969 – Baptism and first communion as a Catholic in 1969 at LAFB in San Antonio, TX
  5. April 18, 1955 – Anniversary of my selection for membership at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver CO
  6. April 19, 1969 – Anniversary marriage: Charles O. Todd, III married Crucita A. Gonzales at Chapel 2 on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.

In all six of those events, The Apostles Creed had an important, central position. Do you remember that Creed? It goes like this:

Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I encourage you to look into this a little further than we will here today by following this link to a history of the creed. It’s been around for a long time, and – in the western church – is used by Catholics, and non-Catholics. Knowing, and often reciting, this Creed is very often one of the criteria for being admitted to a Christian Church. Not all religions have such a complex creed. Judaism is in some ways indisposed to formulated creeds as it tends to limit thought. Islam’s “creed” is very short and affirms that Allah is god and Muhammad is his prophet. Christians have used this creed or some form of it since at least 400 AD. So what is a creed?

A creed is any organized statement of doctrine or values. It is a statement of beliefs, such as the ethical standards that guide one’s life. In other words, a creed is a systematic statement, usually written, of one’s personal commitment to one’s beliefs and values. It may be entirely personal and unique, or – as is usually the case – it may express shared beliefs and values. The words in the title of this post are the beginning words of the Christian Creed in Latin – Credo in unum Deum which is I believe in one God. It is used in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. In Catholic Tradition, the Apostles Creed preceded the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed dates to 325 AD and has remained mostly unchanged since then. Consult the Wikipedia Article for additional insights.

The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed are both Trinitarian in their expression and content; that is, they express a belief in a Holy, Triune God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as stated in The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Apostles Creed is also sometimes referred to as the 12 articles of faith. Here is how that works out:

  1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
  2. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
  3. Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
  4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
  5. He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead.
  6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
  7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  9. the holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints,
  10. the forgiveness of sins,
  11. the resurrection of the body,
  12. And in life everlasting.

It could be honestly said that we live in a non-creedal or anti-creedal world these days. The very idea of having any form of indisputable statement about anything is just not acceptable “in this day and age.” Some of the reasons for this are –

  • Moral relativism
  • Existential, live-for-the-moment emphasis on personal and immediate gratification
  • Being altogether PC so as to believe any form of doctrine – or not
  • Attempts to over-simplify everything so that it is palatable and inoffensive
  • Ignorance of history and its significance
  • The fear that using, or even having a creed weakens the efficacy of Scripture

This was even a problem in the history of the early church. Here are some examples of what can be found in the Epistles about sticking to the teachings of the Apostles:

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.

2 Timothy 1:13 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:9 He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. (Referencing the requirements for a Presbyter)

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

I’d like to make one final point about today’s Key Verse. For that, I turn to a verse that shows up often in these pages. John 1:12-13 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. John says  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. Jesus commands us to believe (Mark 1:15), and to observe his commandments (John 14:15), and to love “one another” (John 15:12). We are to love the Children of God, we are to show mercy and compassion to the Children of God, and we are to build up the Church in the Children of God like living stones laid upon the foundation of Christ and the Apostles as in 1 Peter 2:4-5 – Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, 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. Jesus is The Living Stone rejected by the builders.

Do not be unbelieving, but believe! God does not lie! Numbers 23:1919 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? What I tell you is True. I know it is True because it comes from God, and God alone is True. CREDO!

Thank you for your continued prayers. Keep at it. Look to the Rose Garden I sent to you earlier this week. Do you remember the song I come to the garden alone? (↔ Music Link) That beautiful hymn was written by C. Austin Miles (1868–1946) in 1912 as he reflected on the passage in John 20 in which, alone, Mary Magdalene enters the garden wherein Jesus’ tomb is prepared. He envisioned her, holding back her grief, and then her rejoicing greatly as Jesus spoke to her. Go to that prayer list I gave you and read it while you listen to this hymn and think of Mary meeting Jesus there. You will believe, as I believe ~~ The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed!

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 – March 30, 2018 – An Intersection in Eternity

1813AFC033018 – An Intersection in Eternity

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Today is Good Friday. It is a day of solemn remembrance for billions of people. It is the crucial juncture between the Old and New Covenants. If you think about the symbol for infinity it is the place where the “loops” cross – on The Cross.

We are often reminded at this time of year – and also in times of trials – that “There is no Easter without there first being a Calvary.” Even better is the corollary of that adage: “There is no Calvary without an Easter.”

Today I am going to list a few things for you to think about over this coming weekend. I actually hope you will think about them even beyond this coming weekend. Some of these sayings or observations come from a Mission given in our Parish several years ago by Fr. Bill Burton, OFM. Others are just things I collected along the way. In instances where I can attribute the statement, you’ll see that in italics.

In the Old Covenant, everything that was offered in sacrifice was something that could be used as food. Fr. Bill Burton, OFM (Think about that especially this weekend.)

One often meets one’s destiny along the road taken to avoid it. Jean de La Fontaine

Not all thorns have roses.

“God helps those who help themselves.” Hezekiah 9:9 *

“God helps those who cannot help themselves.” Chick Todd

“God helps those who help others.” Vivian Gordon

“God helps everybody whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not, whether they ask for it or not. Regrettably not everyone accepts that help.” Chick Todd

Remember the smile on your face was put there by you but the ability to do that is a Giftfrom God! Be generous with that gift!!People often don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

If you should meet someone without a smile, give them one of yours. No other gift could cost you less to give or be of such great value when received. Chick Todd

“We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.” Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life)

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. C. Wynn

Do Not Rob God! Malachi 3:8-12

Micah 6:8 ~~ He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. God through the Prophet Micah

Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20

 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

In my view, this is the path to Peace. Let’s walk it together with Him in whom all Peace resides.

“Where you sit depends on where you stand.” Chick Todd (See Luke 14:8-11 [Thanks to Fr. Bill!])

You can be a thermometer or a thermostat. One testifies to what’s going on. The other not only testifies, but also changes the environment to preapproved conditions. Number 27 in “27 Beautiful One-Liners”

A.S.A.P.!

There’s work to do, deadlines to meet;
You’ve got no time to spare,
But as you hurry and scurry-
A.S.A.P. – ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER

In the midst of family chaos,
“Quality time” is rare.
Do your best; let God do the rest-
A.S.A.P. – ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER.

It may seem like your worries
Are more than you can bear.
Slow down and take a breather-
A.S.A.P. – ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER

God knows how stressful life is;
He wants to ease our cares,
And He’ll respond to all your needs
A.S.A.P. – ALWAYS SAY A PRAYER. Lisa Englehardt

Always remember to keep that FROG in your life – Full Reliance on God

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real Brendan Case

FAITH – Fully Aware I Trust Him

And so, Beloved, I will say a prayer for you: May your day today be filled with Love and Light from Him by whom are made all good things in Heaven and on Earth. AMEN.

Thank you for YOUR love and light. You have made something beautiful and wonderful out of the love God created for you and in you. I am humbled and blessed to know you have shared that love in your prayers.

Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive because it is inspired and empowered by God. The only cost is the will and time to do it, but the rewards are beyond comprehension. Let’s continue to pray for one another.

God blessed YOU, so make it a great day!! God blessed me by leading you into my life (or leading me into your life, eh?), so for me, it’s ALREADY a great day!

Oh, and don’t forget to give God a little PUSH once in a while:

Pray
Until
Something
Happens!

P’s Power
Plan Purposefully, Prepare Prayerfully, Proceed Positively, Pursue Persistently!
May “P’s” be with you Always!!

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

* And for you astute Bible students: Yes, I know there is no book in the Bible called “Hezekiah.” That is why this famous quote is not in the Bible!

Serving Him on Earth may not always garner the best wages, but the retirement plan is out of this world!!

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 – March 23, 2018 – A Look Beyond

1813AFC032316 – A Look Beyond

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 27:51 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today I want to look several of the things that we read in Scripture during Holy Week, the week which begins with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and ends with his passion, death, and burial. We will look beyond the words and try to piece together a little history and some other insights. We begin with a comment about an impending event being advertised on television – a broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC. Crucita and I remember when this first came out in the early 70’s. We were living in Tucson at the time and a DJ there (who later became a dear friend here on Kauaʻi) was playing excerpts from the musical on his radio show. It really was an amazing experience and initially we thought a step forward in bringing the Gospel to a new audience. Then we noticed some disparities such as Judas and Mary (the Magdalene) saying “he’s just a man.” Mary Magdalene knew Jesus was not “just a man.” In addition, during the entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is portrayed as helping lead the signing of praises to God and states the kingdom of God can be won. In a scene purporting to be Jesus at the Temple he is approached by lepers who beg to be cleansed. His response is, “There’s too many of you – don’t push me! There’s too little of me – don’t crowd me! Heal yourselves!” At Gethsemane, Jesus laments that he is no longer inspired; he is just sad and tired. The Libretto by Timothy Rice intimates that Jesus is not Divine, and that he accepts the death of a martyr as an assurance that he will be famous afterwards. There is no mention of the Resurrection.

I bring this up because I see it as another manifestation of the poisoning of hearts and minds by the surging tides of evil in these days. Nearly 50 years ago this musical drama was hailed as a breakthrough, a beginning of a new era of “Rock Opera.” In the ensuing years other mass-media productions mocked the Messianic reality of Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection; they were so vile I will not even mention the names. Now this production will bring all of those errors (blasphemy, or heresy, or both?) into the public arena again. This is another attempt by the forces of evil actively persecuting the Church to damage and interfere with the spread of the Gospel. The implication that Jesus lost sight of his mission while on the way to Jerusalem is a blatant lie. At the institution of the Eucharist he opines “For all you care, this bread could be my body ….” This must be utterly rejected. With all my heart, I earnestly implore you to avoid viewing that broadcast. I sincerely believe it will be damaging. It brings filth into the Temple. “How is that possible?” you say. Let’s turn to something the Apostle Paul said about our individual Temples.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 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. There is a Tabernacle in that Temple, a place where the Holy Spirit dwells, where the Sh’khinah Glory can work in your soul. Did you know you have a Holy of Holies inside you? It is that place in you where you and God speak to one another “in Spirit and in Truth.” It is the life-core of your existence, the part of you made in the image of God. For that reason it is the holiest part of your life. You have heard and read that our bodies are to be a temple for the Holy Spirit. In the most-perfect portion of that temple is your spirit, and we think of it as dwelling in your heart. It is hidden and protected by a Gift called Life. When the veil is removed, the spirit is released from your Holy of Holies and joins its Creator.

Surrounding that Holiest place is the manner in which we live in the World. If we are “in the world but not of it,” then the life we live is protected by morals that defend and protect all living souls. Our beliefs match our actions and our actions match our belief that all life is sacred; indeed, all Creation is sacred because it was made by and in God for his Glory. This is the Truth that is mentioned in these messages previously as described by Frank Peretti: “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. (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.” Life is sacred because it comes from God, so it is the Gift of Truth that shelters that Sacred Place, and helps protect the innermost part of our being. Without that Sacredness, the Holiest place can be defiled with Worldly corruption leaving just a hollow shell without true Life at its core.

If we allow worldly corruption of the Gospel of Christ to enter our hearts and minds, we in reality surrender to evil. One of the greatest lies we hear almost daily is that sin is irrelevant, or that only seriously wicked souls can sin. We are taught that sin is actually a minor problem because “it really isn’t that bad,” that “everyone does it,” and “besides, nobody really gets hurt.” I remind you to look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and Galatians 5:19-21 for lists of things we see daily (especially through mass-media outlets – print, video, cinema, and social). The World tells us “It does not matter.” We can turn to Jesus and see his plan for those who practice and perpetuate evil in Revelation 22:14-15 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. The musical described above delivers a great deal of falsehood!

Going back to our Key Verse about the veil of the temple being torn, there is an abundance of commentaries about how it happened, when it happened, and why it happened. I’ve read and heard many expositions about that event. Many suggest (or in the view of some, affirm) that it was the inner veil, the Veil to the Holy of Holies that was torn. That would indeed be a formidable event because that veil is described as being about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. This teaching is an indication to many that the veil separating humankind from God has been taken away and that now humanity has direct access to the glory of God and no longer has to go through the Ritual Sacrifice prescribed by Moses. There are also accounts that the veil that was torn was visible from the place where Christ was crucified. From that we can infer that it was the outer veil that was torn. Descriptions of it are not as easily found as are descriptions of the inner veil. We do know that it was a veil, a “doorway” that kept the gentiles from entering into the Temple proper. The conclusion of this teaching is that the way for gentiles to approach God has now been opened. In either case, I believe that the real lesson is that [1] the curtain was torn supernaturally at the moment of Christ’s death, [2] that it was torn from top to bottom, and that [3] the rending of the curtain points to the rending of Christ’s flesh as described by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:19-22 19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

There were two veils torn that day. We have thought about the veil of the Temple, but there was also the Veil of the Flesh of Jesus. In this passage about the torn flesh of Jesus, Paul says we now have entry to the Holiest of places by “the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,” And because these two veils were torn apart for us, our bodies are the dwelling place for God. The Temple was an extraordinary building fabricated of the finest materials and a symbol of the great wealth of Israel even as a subjugated nation, a source of nationalistic pride, and it was afforded deep reverence. In Israel’s past, the desecration and destruction of the Temple was seen as the consequences of their failure to love and serve God as He commanded. Now, in this act of destruction – the rending of the veil – the Temple is essentially decommissioned – laicized if you will. It is no longer a place for God’s Sh’khinah Glory – the Spirit of the Living God Dwelling Among Us. He has removed the barrier and commissioned billions and billions of new Temple locations. That would be us, temples of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ sent His Spirit to the Disciples at Pentecost they were prepared by the Holy Spirit to do the work of evangelization as the Spirit descended on them as tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. God took up His dwelling, his presence, his Sh’khinah Glory, in them; and in us as well. Once we open the door at which Jesus stands and knocks, the Glory of the Lord is enshrined in our hearts, and our bodies house this astonishing shrine, the Tabernacle of the living God. Paul warns us that we should not desecrate it, especially with immorality which he describes as sins against ourselves. You see, while every sin we commit is a sin against God because it is a rejection of His Love and Grace, we also sin against our own being, or own life, our own bodies which are all a gift from God.

Our bodies are equipped with a tabernacle, a perfect meeting place, and it is the special Meeting Place for us and God. He is always at the Meeting Place – always. And as long as we live, so are we. That means we and God are always in the presence of one-another. He waits for us to open our tabernacle for Him so he can take up residence there. How often should we tidy up that room? How often do we need to clean out the garbage, the filth, the desecrations we pile up because they give our bodies pleasures that are illicit and offensive both to us and to God? How often do we point an accusatory finger at someone else when it is our sin that needs purging, our Temple that reeks of the worst of human aberrations?

Consider this passage from farther down the page in Hebrews 10:

Hebrews 10:26-29 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? Look beyond what The World tries to tell us. We know better!

Please use the following link to find Philippians 2:4-11. Use that to fill up your Easter Sunday time, and not the farce that NBC will present.

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

Please pull up Tuesday’s message and grab the Share-A-Prayer list.

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 – March 16, 2018 – 1 light, 1 dark

1811AFC031618 – 1 light, 1 dark

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 12:31-36 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

John 12:26 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

¡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!) It is already THE Fifth Sunday of Lent and the time for the Third Scrutiny for our Elect. In just a few days – March 31st at the Easter Vigil – they will receive the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Eucharist. These kids are so ready for this! Our two candidates are also working toward full communion and will finish up their sacraments on Easter morning. We are excited for them, and their excitement is plain to see as well.

Today we are using a verse from the Gospel of John – part of the Cycle B readings – but our kids will be hearing readings from Cycle A which include Ezekiel 37:12-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:8-11, and the story of Jesus’ dear friend, Lazarus, found in John 11:1-45. You can see all of that online by clicking on this link. In the Cycle B Gospel from John 12:20-33 (follow this link), Jesus is speaking to a group of Greeks who have come to see him. He is telling the crowd that he is going to be lifted up and will die, and they just can’t understand. The Apostle John consistently uses the image of Light when describing Jesus. Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness. The crowd does not realize how close and heart-wrenching the darkness Jesus is foreseeing as he describes his death.

The Jews in the crowd protest that they have been taught that the Messiah will be eternal. They ask, “How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Indeed, who is this Jesus who is Light, and Truth, and Grace? The Apostle John tells us in 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.” If we are followers of Jesus, that first of all means he is leading us. If he is leading us we will never walk in darkness. If we are following him, we are walking in the light of his Glory and Grace (↔ Music Link). John 12:26 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. How will the Father honor the servant of Christ?

The one who follows Jesus walks in the Light of his Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and the only begotten Son of God. It is easy to skip over that important word only. If we read just a few more lines farther down the page we come to John 1:18 which says 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. New English Translation. (NET) The NABRE notes for that passage state that the Greek term used in this verse for The only one is monogenēs theos μονογενὴς (monogenēs) { mon-og-en-ace’} Θεὸς  (Theos) {theh’-os} literally, “one (monos) of a class, (genos)” hence the only one of its kind. God is Light. Jesus is God. Jesus is Light. We who follow – walk with – Jesus walk with the Light. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light. Believe, and become children of God (John 1:12).

There is one (1) Light and that Light is God. But what of the darkness? Is it also one? I am reminded of a fictional story that circulates around the Internet fairly often; it’s called “Does Evil Exist?”. It is about a college professor who claims to be an atheist. He challenges anyone in the class who believes in Jesus to stand up prove their faith is valid. One student stands and the exchange between the professor and the student form the testimony of faith the professor wishes to refute – but cannot. He claims that, since God created everything, God must have created evil. At one point, the student asks the professor, “Professor, does darkness exist?”

The professor responded, “Of course it does.”

The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

This is seemingly a winning argument, and indeed – even spiritually – we might say that Spiritual darkness is a term used by people to describe what happens when there is no Light present. Spiritually, though, there is 1 Light and that Light is our Triune God who is a living God of Power and Might. Spiritually, there is also a being who is darkness because in him there is no Light. Returning to the Letters of the Apostle John, we come to 1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. Satan is darkness and in him is no Light at all. And yet, we have many people – thousands upon thousands – swearing that light is darkness and evil is good (See Isaiah 5:18-23, especially v. 20 which reads in part 20 Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light). There is 1 light and there is 1 darkness in the Spiritual War we act against, but that darkness is not merely the absence of Light, it is also the presence of evil and every bit as real as the Light we follow and eventually become. This is what the Apostle Paul meant by this passage from Ephesians:

Ephesians 5:8-16 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. And if the days are evil, then we must not be asleep but rather vigilant: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.

God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is our Light: 1 Timothy 6:16 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. Let us therefore be followers of the Light described by Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! If we are in that Light, we are of the Light, and we will share the Light as we carry the Light. Light grows by giving it others. Jesus spoke of his life as a grain of wheat in John 12:24: 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The “fruit” of Light that is shared is much more light just as the fruit of the grain is much more wheat. Choose Light and choose Life. Then, when we are transformed at the end of the Age, we will know what John meant in Revelation 21:23-27 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Those who choose darkness will have it as their eternal heritage. Those who choose Light will share it in Heaven with God, and all his good angels and all his dear saints.  Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. It is time for the Light to drive out the dark; the Light has come. Blesséd be God forever!

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

Share-A-Prayer

  • For JE – a lifetime of illnesses and suffering, now dealing with psoriatic arthritis and experiencing much pain and frequent falls.
  • For IDC – on the verge of beating breast cancer and now faced with brain cancer.
  • For RR and her entire family grieving the passing of another loved-one.
  • For all the chronically ill who endure pain and many other discomforts, please, let’s make time to be in unity with another mind; and then make room for another mind; and then make room for another mind; and so on. Especially for NAS, RB, KD, MT, DP, LC, KW, FO, and AD, Let us pray to the Lord. LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER.

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 – March 9, 2018 – Why me?

1810AFC030918 – Why me?

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.

Ephesians 2:10 –  10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. New English Translation (NET)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today I am sharing with you some of the things we often do not share. In our family this week we are experiencing new sorrows that are not new and old memories that are no longer old. A much-loved family member has died. A dear friend who has been gravely ill and yet supremely courageous has learned – as one battle draws to a close – that there is a greater battle ahead. As you well know from in depths of your own heart, it hurts. Even if we know better, we can sometimes hear ourselves saying “Why me?” or “Why her?” or “Why this?” or “Why now?” or “Why must we suffer this?”  or “Why, God, why?!?”

That’s a good question. “Why God?” What good is it to know God if knowing God cannot prevent or end our suffering? So many times people will say that suffering is meaningless, or that it was punishment from God. Not so!! Faith, strength, endurance, patience, wisdom, leadership, and holiness are the fruits of suffering. For you, whom I love so deeply, I dread to see your suffering even if it means – sometime, eventually – the enrichment of your life and the betterment of the world. “What do you mean by that?”  I mean I need to be reminded that God prepares us for what we need to do … my old friend Abraham continues to teach me that. Asking “Why God” is important if we choose to know God, but I think it’s even more important if we choose not to know God. What is God doing in our lives if we suffer regardless of whether or not we know him? We might as well ask “What is the purpose of God?” That seems to be a popular question these days. For millennia humans have been asking that, and through much consideration of that issue, we came to learn that we cannot understand any sort of answer to “Why God?” unless we can answer “Why me?” Why am I, why are you, why are we – all of us – here? That is one of the fundamental questions in Catechisms. Here are some examples:

Do you remember the movie Alfie? (↔ Music Link) The theme song lyrics begin with “What’s it all about, Alfie?” A few lines farther in we hear, “Are we meant to take more than we give or are we meant to be kind?” If we ponder what we see in the news reports every day, it might be fair to say that about half of the people are committed to being unkind to the other half, and it’s often hard to tell which half originally chose that lack of kindness. If we are created to know and to love God and each other, why can’t we? I believe it is, in part, because we don’t take time to know what God had in mind when he created us – and frankly some of us have doubts as to whether or not God did create any of us.

When I hear those doubts expressed, I turn to The Word because I know Truth to be there. Here are some things that God gave us through his servants to help us better understand why he would do such an audacious thing as creating us. How can the instructions from God we received through the prophets be of any value to us, fellow humans with God’s chosen spokespersons?

2 Peter 1:20-2220 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Ah. Now that makes sense to me. In today’s Key Verse, the Apostle Paul says, “… having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.” We know that Christ was with God at creation (John 1:1-3), so the good things that we choose to do in our lives were established in us from Day Zero. Moses alluded to that when he told the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 5:32-3332 You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. 33 You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess. That’s really straight forward – literally – go on the path God gives us and do not wander off.

It is so difficult to do that – to stick to the path and not wander off. But give ear to what Jeremiah has to say about that in Jeremiah 32:39-4039 I will give them a single-minded purpose to live in a way that always shows respect for me. They will want to do that for their own good and the good of the children who descend from them. 40 I will make a lasting covenant with them that I will never stop doing good to them. I will fill their hearts and minds with respect for me so that they will never again turn away from me. New English Translation (NET) Does it ever seem to you that it is difficult if not impossible these days to be like-minded with everyone? I can honestly tell you it’s difficult to be like-minded with Christians as a whole, or even within a denomination, or a city, or … or a family. What does it take to be like-minded?

Being like-minded means making room for another mind; and then making room for another mind; and then making room for another mind; and so on. Selfish pride is what Satan uses to divide us from God and from each other. “Are we meant to take more than we give or are we meant to be kind?” It’s hard to do that – to be kind – if we insist that we should “just be human.” THERE ARE BETTER THINGS! Isaiah 43:19-2119 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

God created us in his image and likeness. He chose a particular group of humans to be his witnesses to the World – Believers. Throughout the history of Israel, they were a nation of believers set aside – consecrated – by God to bear witness that God is powerful, gracious and good. For thousands of years he sent us messengers to tell us we need to remember that. Was there condemnation for forgetting? Yes, there was, and as a consequence of those failures to obey, God promised – in very clear terms – that he would make it easier to remember: 2 Corinthians 5:1717 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (Please use the following link to see this marvelous assurance in context. There are many scriptural gems here! 2 Corinthians 5:1-17). How’s that for keeping a promise!

And what is this new thing? It is a New Life! Do you remember Art Garfunkel’s soulful ballad “Old Man?” (↔ Music Link) in the last verse, he sings, “Won’t be no God to comfort you,  you taught me not to believe that lie.” How can this be true when in these writings we have consistently said that we are gifted with Eternal Life. It is true in the Worldly sense, but in a biblical sense it is perfectly untrue: Romans 6:6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. That “old man,” the sinner who rejects God, is made new through the choice of returning God’s endless love. And it’s not as if none of us know how to make that change. Even here, the Word is crystal clear: Ephesians 4:22-2422 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 John 1:5-7This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Why are we given this message? Why does God keep wanting us to be like him and show others his Love? Here is Jesus’ teaching on that matter: Matthew 5:14-1614 You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

If you are asking, “What does all this have to do with suffering?” the reply is “everything.” When we share another’s suffering and sorrow, we are witnessing to the powerful love of God. We are showing the World what it means to be making room for another mind; and then making room for another mind; and then making room for another mind; and so on. Be a believer who believes in other believers and then serves them.  And if you don’t believe? Not all of you will accept this, perhaps, but I feel quite strongly that every good thing in your life is there for you by the Grace of God through Jesus who is the Word of Truth. No good thing or act – past, present, or future – could exist without His will. God is praised in all of those good things which come to us only through Jesus because everything that Jesus is or does is of, through, and by God. Nothing can supersede, exceed, or surpass those gifts. All that is required to make them realities present in your own day-to-day existence is to honor the Giver by accepting the Gift. Is today the day you will honor the Giver and accept the Gift as Savior and Lord? I do that every day, and I am inviting you to join me.

That is how God works in us, works through us, and works for us. Again, turning to the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12-1312 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. When we share our thoughts, words, and deeds, our works, our prayers, our joys, our sorrows, our victories and our defeats, our fears and anxieties, our hearts’ desires, everything we do and everything we fail to do, all that we are and all that we have with each other, we are giving God worship and praise because we are  created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

Belovéd, in this sharing we have much Hope, because it is sharing Love and God is love!

GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ LIGHT ≡ WAY ≡ TRUTH ≡ LIFE

“Why me?” Because God chose me, and you, and us, before we even knew him so that he could love us so much we would love him in return.

Share-A-Prayer

  • For JE – a lifetime of illnesses and suffering, now dealing with psoriatic arthritis and experiencing much pain and frequent falls.
  • For IDC – on the verge of beating breast cancer and now faced with brain cancer.
  • For RR and her entire family grieving the passing of another loved-one.
  • For all the chronically ill who endure pain and many other discomforts, please, let’s make time to be in unity with another mind; and then make room for another mind; and then make room for another mind; and so on. Especially for NAS, RB, KD, DP, LC, KW,FO, and AD, Let us pray to the Lord. LORD HEAR OUR 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.

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

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Aloha Friday Message – March 2, 2018 – Wise Choice

1809AFC030218 – Wise Choice

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.

1 Corinthians 1:25 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

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!) For the next three weeks I will be using passages from Cycle B in the Lectionary. Our RCIA/C students will be studying Cycle A’s readings, because this is the period of The Scrutinies in their training for the Sacraments of Initiation. In the Cycle B readings, the passage from the Old Testament is from Exodus 20 – the Ten Commandments. Here are links to all of the readings: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19:8-11, 1 Corinthians 1:22-25, and John 2:13-25.

I wish to begin by showing you The Ten Commandments from a version of the Bible not often cited in these lessons, The New Jerusalem Bible. You’ll note that British spellings are used (neighbour for example). Verse 21 is somehow clearer to me in this version.

The 10 Commandments from the New Jerusalem Bible ~~ Exodus 20:1-17

NJB Deuteronomy 5:6 ‘ “I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the place of slave-labour. 7 ‘ “You will have no gods other than me. 8 ‘ “You must not make yourselves any image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; 9 you must not bow down to these gods or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God and I punish the parents’ fault in the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren, among those who hate me; 10 but I show faithful love to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 ‘ “You must not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who uses his name for what is false. 12 ‘ “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as Yahweh your God has commanded you. 13 Labour for six days, doing all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You must not do any work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servants — male or female — nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your animals, nor the foreigner who has made his home with you; 15 so that your servants, male and female, may rest, as you do. Remember that you were once a slave in Egypt, and that Yahweh your God brought you out of there with mighty hand and outstretched arm; this is why Yahweh your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 ‘ “Honour your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, so that you may have long life and may prosper in the country which Yahweh your God is giving you. 17 ‘ “You must not kill. 18 ‘ “You must not commit adultery. 19 ‘ “You must not steal. 20 ‘ “You must not give false evidence against your fellow. 21 ‘ “You must not set your heart on your neighbour’s spouse, you must not set your heart on your neighbour’s house, or field, or servant-man or woman — or ox, or donkey or any of your neighbour’s possessions.”

Henry Wansbrough, ed., The New Jerusalem Bible. New York; London: Doubleday; Darton, Longman & Todd, 1985. ISBN: 0385142641

Also, before I continue, I will state clearly that what I write today is from my own heart and is not intended to be anything near being an exhaustive study of this passage. I’m not a Torah Scholar, trained theologian, or any other sort of expert. I just want to share with you what little I know and understand about the wisdom behind this excerpt from the Bible. At times you may think to yourself “Well, that’s obvious,” and so it may be. If you can tell it’s obvious, that means you can discern the difference between obscure and obvious. Here is an example:

A certain man was perplexed about his two horses. He just couldn’t tell them apart. He spoke to the local Pastor about this and the Pastor advised him to do several things to increase the differences between the two. As instructed, the man first trimmed two inches from one horse’s tail, but still they looked alike to him. The pastor said to try trimming the mane of the other horse instead. Of course, both tail and mane grew back, so he was still unable to tell the difference. The Pastor was frustrated with the man’s ineptness, so he scolded him and told him to just measure the height of the horse at the shoulder. The man returned jubilantly praising the Pastor’s wisdom. “Pastor, it was brilliant what you said! The black horse is exactly two-inches taller than the white one!”

Well, Belovéd, what can we learn from this story? I am reminded of something from Tom Peters and Bob Waterman’s book, In Search of Excellence: “Obviously the obvious isn’t so obvious anymore.” I mean, who can’t tell the difference between a black horse and a white horse? If the man was blind, we could understand that; but he is not. He knows one horse is white and one is black, and he could see the tape measure. What is his problem?!? If he can discern the colors and the size, can he not discern that they belong to separate horses?

Ah. Discernment. The ability to distinguish one thing from another. A white horse from a black horse, a red shirt from a green shirt, a good choice from a bad choice – all of these could be called mirrored dichotomies – paired-opposites that are obviously dissimilar. Well, except for maybe the part about good and bad choices. We seem to have a difficult time with discernment there. Sometimes it may seem that the difference between a good choice and a bad choice is hard to discern. I mean, what is the basis for discernment? And why do some people seem to have that process mastered and some people haven’t a clue? How does one choose between good and bad? Do we have the power to choose for ourselves which is which?

You bet we do! All of us have the power of discernment. It is part of our genetic and spiritual heritage as humans. Recall the incident in Eden. Eve and then Adam consumed “The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” What is that fruit? Not an apple, that’s pretty certain. The fruit from that root – the knowledge of good and evil – is the ability to tell good from evil. The sin that separated Adam and Eve from the presence of God was graced by the gift of free will, the ability to choose between good and evil. Some fruit! Sin brings evil into the world – and vice versa – and right along with evil comes the ability to tell the difference between good and evil, black and white, and light and darkness. With that ability, the ability of discernment, also comes the responsibility to make a choice, to resolve a dichotomy, to make a choice between two mutually-exclusive things. In everything in our lives we face the same kind of dichotomy – the conflict between good and evil, between carnal and spiritual, between conscience and consciousness of the effect of our choices. How do we choose?

Hopefully we choose wisely. To choose, one must have at least some basic knowledge of the nature of things such as which plants are good for food and which are poisonous. We need to know a least a little about music or art or any and all other phenomena in our lives to be able to tell one from the other. We received from God the gift of intelligence, and despite some recent and very observable incidents of failure to use intelligence, we use that gift to accrue knowledge. This little logo is something I’d like to see on the rear windows and bumpers of cars. It comes from Proverbs 9:10 10 The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight [understanding]. Jehovah wants us to know him so that we can show The World what a good God he is.

Just how can we know him? Look at Deuteronomy 10:12-14, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, and (my favorite) Micah 6:8 and you will see God wants us to know him, to honor him, to love him, and obey him. And to trust him, to serve him, to worship him, and to seek him, we need to know, honor, love, and obey him. But how do we know God? He’s … well, AWESOME! AND HE IS GREAT, BREATHTAKING, WONDERFUL, OVERWHELMING, TREMENDOUS, STUPENDOUS, MAGNIFICENT, MAJESTIC, OMNIPOTENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNISCIENT, SUPERLATIVE, ETERNAL, FEARSOME, AND KIND, LOVING, FORGIVING, GENTLE, SAVING, A PROTECTOR, A LEADER, A REFUGE, AND ABSOLUTELY DIVINE BECAUSE HE IS LORD-ALMIGHTY-GOD! And he is Spirit and Truth and for most of us that means he is invisible. That is a stumbling block for many. If they do not see God, they cannot be sure he is real. Paul addressed that issue when writing to the Romans. In Romans 1:20 he says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

He does amazing things so that we will remember that the Lord is kind and merciful.

In my little world, certainly one of the most amazing things God does is to love me. Sinful as I am, he still leads me, speaks to me, hears me, and never abandons me. By Worldly standards, that would be foolish. I am grateful God is not bound by Worldly standards; nor should we be. Here in Hawaiʻi, we are shuddering over the possibility of yet another attempt at a Death With Dignity Bill. It just might pass this time! It is another attempt to legislate immorality. Exodus 20:13 says “You shall not kill.” The Hebrew word here is תִּֿרְצָֽ֖ח׃ (trə-ṣāh) from the verb רָצַח (ratsach){ raw-tsakh’} meaning to slay, to murder, “manslayer.” I can discern that murder is wrong, no matter what the circumstance, without knowing The Ten Commandments. I can discern this because I can see quite clearly that life is better than death, even a life of suffering. Others see it differently, and claim that they should not – indeed cannot – be forced to see Life as an eternal gift from God (YOLO-F). This is the “wisdom” of humankind based on the understanding that we have the Gift of Free Will, a result of gaining knowledge of the difference between Good and Evil. Their argument is fallacious. And by breaking one Commandment, they break the whole law. They are not the 10 Suggestions, or the 10 Options; they are The One Law with ten requirements. They are The Universal Law upon which everything in human life is founded.

It is truly true that there is no foolishness or weakness in God. The message of the Cross, the story of Salvation, the knowledge of the Law, the Goodness of God – all of these are confounding to The World because all of these are things that are spiritually discerend. If one begins by rejecting the very concept of the Spirit of God moving over the waters (Genesis 1:1-2), if one’s gathering of knowledge relies only on what is visible and “provable,” then that one’s knowledge is incomplete and will not – again indeed cannot – progress to understanding or wisdom. If one neglects or rejects the Divine, that one has only half a life or less. There is but one fundamentally wise choice. Chose that one. It comes to this:

Some have problems for God and some have problems with God.

Those who have problems for God need to work with God.

Those who have problems with God need to work for God.

Chose wisely Belovéd. Begin by revering the LORD.

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

  • Pray for our leaders – all leaders everywhere – to lead with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so we can all live together in Peace.
  • Pray for loved-ones everywhere with chronic illness.
  • Pray for victims of violence everywhere – at home, at war, at work or school, and in the hearts of perpetrators.

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 23, 2018 – What did you say?

1808AFC022318 – What did you say?

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

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we have another guest on the page, and this time it is The Holy Bible. I won’t have much to say, but Scripture will. Belovéd, we are under attack like never before in this era. As Christians we are being characterized as mentally ill, unfit to lead, pariahs in our own society. We know we can listen to God. We have seen his work. We know in our hearts that what David Haas wrote is true:

We have been told. (↔ Music Link)
We’ve seen his face
and heard his voice alive in our hearts.
“Live in my love with all your heart.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

There are so many key verses today! At the end of this list, there also a table with over a dozen more passages you can see. Some of those are pretty awesome as well.

Psalm 14:1-5 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.

Isaiah 30:21 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Exodus 19:9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.

Deuteronomy 4:36 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, while you heard his words coming out of the fire.

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.”

Proverbs 28:13-14 13 No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 14 Happy is the one who is never without fear [reverence*], but one who is hard-hearted [unrepentant] will fall into calamity.

Job 5:13 13 He takes the wise in their own craftiness; and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.

Psalm 85:8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Proverbs 12:15 15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice.

John 10:27 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit] is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law – indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 8:47 47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.

*This may also be “without fear [of sinning]”

Location Core content
Genesis 22:1-19 Moses listens, and obeys, when God tells him to sacrifice Isaac.
Proverbs 18:13 Listen before you answer
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice
Malachi 4:1-3 All arrogant evildoers will be stubble to be burned
Psalm 32:8-9 Don’t act like a mule
Mark 13:11 The Holy Spirit will tell you what to say
John 10:6 Other sheep will listen to Jesus’ voice
John 18:37c “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:33 God will defend his Elect
Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing
Hebrews 2:1-4 We must pay greater attention to what we have heard
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
1 John 5:15 He hears us in whatever we ask
Revelation 3:20-24 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying

What shall we do, then, Belovéd? I think first we must believe these promises and embrace them so as to completely live in, by, and through them. Secondly, I think we must, must pray for and educate the arrogantly evil persons who deny the reality of God as well as the reality of hearing him speak – mostly in our heart – but also, sometimes, in our minds and/or ears. I have heard him both ways, and he has never denied me his counsel or his love.

Belovéd, as we listen to his voice as articulated to us in Holy Scripture, let us take courage as the Psalmist says in Psalm 27:1414 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Finally, in addition to embracing Scripture and praying while teaching the arrogant, we need to ask for God’s merciful intervention: For leaders throughout the world and all of those in authority, guide them to govern with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so we can all live together in Peace. AMEN. There is a great division – not only in our country, but also around the world – between the World’s Way and God’s Way. God’s Way will triumph, but there will be much more to endure as the divisions deepen, widen, and grow in intensity. Some of us might say, “l don’t want to get into all this, and neither should you. It’s just all politics, bad politics at that!” No, Belovéd, this is not just bad politics; this is Spiritual Warfare: Ephesians 6:12 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Even at the threshold of Heaven, evil strives to capture the weak and reckless and to drag them into Satan’s miserable pit of destruction.

Who else but God can bring peace to all the troubled souls who embrace the evils The World offers? We know a secret, Belovéd:

Psalm 37:3-7
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

God will prepare us, as he prepared Abraham. Many times in these essays I’ve written about “My Old Friend Abraham.” Most of could never do the things Abraham did. Why? Because that is not our gift. Abram was a righteous man to whom God elected to revel himself as El Shaddai – Almighty God. Abram believed what God told him, and for his faith in God, El Shaddai made him Abraham the Father of Many Nations – and the founder of our faith in God. Abraham was prepared by God to do great things. We are all prepared by God to do some things. When we do part of those “some things” for ourselves, we are not giving all that God has given us. Every good and perfect gift comes from above (See James 1:17), so everything we have that is good comes from God through Christ Jesus. Everything we have that is not good does not. We should never try to give God the things that did not come from him; however, we can ask him to take them and make them good. That is what God does. He takes stuff that’s not-so-good and makes it wonderful. Believe it or else, he can even bring good things out of all the ugliness brought about in the past month, the past year, the past decade, the past century! Truly, “He hears us in whatever we ask,” and ” If God is for us, who can be against us?” I assure you it will not matter if it is those who “say in their hearts, “There is no God.'” Be still and wait on the Lord inwardly, but speak up and confront the arrogantly evil compassionately. What did you say? You said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

What did you say? You said, “God loves you, so I will, too. Now let’s see if we can solve this problem together.”

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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