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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

1115AFC041511

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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

437AFC081004
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/

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – July 10, 2020 – Grow Where I Send Thee

2028AFC071020 – Grow Where I Send Thee

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.

Luke 8:8 Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Luke 8:11b The seed is the word of God. – The Sower is Christ

Matthew 13:23 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! You know this story, don’t you? It’s the Parable of the Sower. When we hear sermons or homilies about this passage, we usually talk about the soil into which the seed was sown. In poor conditions, nothing grows. In fair conditions, something grows but with a low yield. In better conditions, more grows with a better yield. In the best-possible conditions, a sower gathers a wonderful yield. All of that yield, whether 30- or 60- or 100-fold, comes from good soil. We could look at it like this:

  • Poor = 0 yield
  • Fair = 30 X yield
  • Better = 60 X yield
  • Best = 100 X yield

(See also Mark 4:13-28 which includes 26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. Also look up Luke 8:11-15 which includes 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And also 15 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.) We aspire to be that good soil in which the seed can be held fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. We do not want to be the soil that yields less-than-the-best. That’s usually how we think about it, yes? We want to be the “good soil” that has the highest yield.

When we read this, often times we identify with the sower, the farmer who is scattering the seed. He wants the seed to grow, but doesn’t seem to have 100% control over where the seed falls. Some lands in the rocks, some on the path, some in the weeds, and some – hopefully most of it – falls where it grows with great fecundity producing 30 or 60 or even 100 times more seeds in the crop that is harvested. Other times, we might identify with the soil. We are quick to hear the word but slow to take it in and it is whisked away before it can germinate. If it sticks with us for a while, we are shallow and resistive to the rooting of the word, so it sprouts up, but dies quickly. We are so distracted by the temporal and material wants in our lives that when the Word does take root in our hearts, it can’t compete with all the other trash planted there. And once in a while we are so open to the Word, so committed to nurturing its effects in us that we receive the seeds of the Word and its lush harvest is shared. There are several not-so-obvious things to consider here:

   First, the seed falls wherever the sower casts it. The yield depends, in part, on where it is cast. Throw it on the path, and it won’t yield much – it gets carried off by the birds. Throw it on the good soil, and it grows a lot – if you take good care of the growing crop. Toss it into the weeds, and it gets a good start, but gets choked out. Now, the soil can’t move and try to catch the seed, so it has to passively wait to receive the seed. In 3 of 4 cases, there is some yield, some growth that occurs, but the amount of growth depends on where the seed falls and how well it is take care of after it falls. Selah.

Second, the seed grows in all of those conditions. There is always a yield if the seed is received. While the seed cannot – of its own volition – get up and move over to the best soil, neither can the soil – of its own volition – move over to where the seed is scattered. Where the seed can take root, it does, and it yields what it can.

Third, the seed is the Word of God. As we read in Isaiah 55:10-11 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Wherever it takes root, it produces a yield.

Fourth, that yield takes time. This is the meaning behind Jesus’ words, “… these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.” When I think of that idea, I am often reminded of a story about the effectiveness of cramming before exams. If one fails to study and then hopes to gain enough understanding the night before the exam by staying up all night, it’s a bit like the farmer who sows his crops the month before harvest begins. He probably won’t garner much of a harvest.

Fifth, we also need to look at this from the standpoint of the seed. What happens to a seed that is planted in soil? In the beginning, the ground is broken to receive the seed. Then the seed does what it does – it develops roots, stalk, leaf, and breaks the soil again to enter into the light. Then the seed – which is not there anymore, it’s gone, dead, disappeared – carries on as the new plant with the goal of being fruitful. The seed has to die to unlock the miraculous potential of life within it. Once the fruit comes, the fruit must be harvested. Some of the fruit is retained for future planting. Some of the fruit is drastically altered. It is separated from its husk and boiled, or parched, or crushed into ever-finer powder which is mixed with other ingredients, passes through fire, and becomes bread. In most circumstances, the purpose of the whole process is to provide seed to the sower and bread to the eater.

We’ve looked at preparing the soil, but just for a moment let’s look at the sower. Did he give up because some of the seed was lost? Did he give up because the sun was scorching hot? Did he give up because there were rocks, or weeds, or birds? Did he scatter only ONE handful of seed to see how it would do? Or did he sow great quantities of seed tirelessly and then care for it until the time of harvest? What will we do, Beloved, when it’s time to account for the fields and orchards we have been given to tend? Do any of us know a seed-sower who sows in early September and expects a harvest by the end of October? Even more prevalent these days is the one who neither sows nor reaps; they have neither storehouse nor barn (See Luke 12:24 concerning ravens), but they want what the conscientious farmer has done – without putting in the work or without receiving it from God. (Ravens are illustrative of God’s generous gifts of sustenance for all his creatures. (See, for example, Genesis 8:7, 1 Kings 17:4, Job 38:41, and Psalm 147:9.)

If I am a Disciple, I too must sow the seed; and I must sow it everywhere, but take care to sow it where it will be fruitful. I must nurture it. I must patiently persevere. I must make it my mission to provide seed to the sower and bread to the eater. And if I really want to be the perpetuator of seed and bread, I will take a deep, long-term, personal interest in every aspect of bringing in that crop, storing the seed for next year, and baking the bread for today. How about you? Can you see a future in being part of Bread Blessed and Broken? (↔ Music Link) Are we truly One Bread, One Body? (↔ Music Link)  Can you and I grow to our highest potential and give our highest-possible yield? Can we, can you, can I give all of our being to being willing to allow the Word of God to become fruit in our hearts? Will we satisfy the hungry heart with Gifts of Finest Wheat? (↔ Music Link)

Ah, Belovéd, let us be enlightened in the teaching of the Apostle Paul 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written,

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Indeed, blesséd be God forever! No, Belovéd, I am not telling you to strive for homemade religion – remember we are talking abo0ut The Word who is The Bread of Life – nor am I telling you to give unlimited provision to those who are able but unwilling to sow or reap the grain to sustain physical life, expecting instead for us to do that work for them. I am telling you to assiduously cultivate the Word of God in the most fertile regions of your heart with loving care and hopeful perseverance so that you can feed those who hunger for the Word and plant seeds of Faith in the hearts of many. Our mission is to bring the True Bread to everyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness.

Keep praying for our friends who are struggling with things that can prevent them from being fully fruitful in all their endeavors. Jesus tells us, “Grow Where I Send Thee.” [There’s a pun on this great song: Go where I send thee! (↔ Music Link)] It’s like my dear friend in Arizona says – Bloom where you’re planted. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

Here’s a bonus music link for online readers!

Go where I send thee! (↔ Music Link)

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – July 3, 2020 – Longing and Belonging

2027AFC070320 – Longing and Belonging

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.

Romans 8:9b , 13 9b Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Please use the link provided so you can see these excerpts in context.)

Matthew 10:37-39 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Back in the days when I worked for the Indian Health Service Agency, I did a lot of management-training sessions. One of the topics I often covered was about human need – what we need to make living “understandable.” Like many training topics, this was presented in a quadrant format:

Attention

Affection

Affiliation

Approval

Attention. Affection. Affiliation. Approval. Four things every human being needs every day. Without these things, we whither. It starts when we are infants. We bond with the persons who hold us and feed us and clean us and love us. Their attention makes our minds, and hearts, grow. The affection we share with parents and siblings, relatives and friends helps define our personality. We have a natural tendency to form community and to express our need for affiliation; we want to belong. And to belong, we require approval. To get approval we have rites and ceremonies, hazings and initiations, standards of conduct and codes of behaviors. And from the attention, affection, and affiliations we have made, the approval we receive tends to foster warmer and closer attention, affection, and affiliations. It’s a nice cycle when it works the way God planned it.

This type of peer relationship, a collegiality of caring, is the basis of our community-centered living. I believe that laws and religions and governments and families all reflect ways we build and strengthen community ties and boundaries. We have requirements for membership in any community whether it is as broad as the whole of humanity or as small as a group of playmates in preschool. Those requirements are based on respect and caring for ourselves and for those around us, respect and caring that has been taught to us through our immersion in the community.

Community, though, is not, or at least should not, be just a human experience. We know that God is also Community expressed as the Holy Trinity. For this community all of the requirements for membership, for participation, for conduct are absolute because the Community is Absolute – Unconditional, Totally Integral, Unlimited, Supreme, Pure, Perfect: God. Not “The Force.” Not “Intelligent Design.” Purely and simply, wonderfully and awesomely GOD in Three Persons. And that Community and our community can also share with one another attention, affection, affiliation, and approval.

How do we give God attention? Listen to what is said by The Word, look at what happens when The Word is expressed, appreciate the effects of that expression, and acknowledge the greatness of each moment spent paying attention to the Creator’s creations.

How do we give God affection? Most of us know that is easy to do. “We love Him because He first Loved us.” I believe He doesn’t love any one of us more than any other of us, so no matter how we say, “I love you” to Him, He hears us saying, “I Love you.” Capitol-L Love is the way God Loves, and He seems to be delighted to believe that we Love Him in the same way.

Affiliation. There’s a tough one. How can we affiliate with God? He’s Perfect, and all those things listed up there with Absolute. Humans can’t affiliate with THAT! Well, God knew we would think like that, so He made the Affiliation part the easiest part, not the most difficult. He became Filios, one of us so He and we could find common ground and therein the basis for affiliation.

So what about approval? Is it possible to show appreciation and agreement with God? Oh, yes! Whenever we praise Him in thought, word or deed, we are showing our appreciation and agreement with His Presence in our world, in our lives, in our hearts and minds. When we realize how much we admire His works and His ways and acknowledge that to each other and to Him, we are showing Him and each other our approval. And that’s a good thing, too.

It is good because we are created to be like Him. We have an affinity for everything that He is: Holy, Integral, Eternal, Just, Loving, Merciful, and most importantly capable of choosing to meld our community with His and His with ours. We need to give and receive attention, affection, affiliation, and approval because God made us that way; He made us in His image and His likeness. We are most complete when we decide to be Community in every way He intended us to be so.

If God’s intention is to make us part of the Community of Faith – part of the Family of God – then becoming one of us was a perfect solution. Still, if we look at the Key Verse for today, we might wonder if God is really welcoming us into Community with him. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. That’s how the Apostle Paul put it, and Jesus himself said ” … whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” It’s the kind of thing that can start a riot these days! Of course, sneezing wrong can start a riot it seems. But let’s go past that to what else the Apostle Paul says.

He says, “ if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Well, that’s more like it! We’ve hashed over “the deeds of the body” often here, so let’s summarize that by saying we “put to death” our Seven Deadly Sins and all that accompanies them in our lives. THAT also makes sense! Let’s consider just one of them – Envy. We want to be virtuous, to do the right thing, and – too many times – we think we can just snap our fingers and we’re done with Envy. Nope, it never worked for me, either! Let’s turn again to the B.I.B.L.E. to find a good strategy.

Take out your Bible and turn to 2 Peter 1:3-7 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.

That’s right, Belovéd. The resource for this virtue is not worldly goodness, but spiritual strength obtained directly through the Power of God.  Click here to look at Psalm 119:1-3, and click here to see Psalm 128:1. When we walk in the way of the Lord, when we honor and reverence God (talking about the Trinity here), we have no room for envy or jealousy. We have everything needed for life and godliness and that promotes and fosters the virtue of Kindness. It is so simple! We walk with the Lord and simply Trust and Obey (↔ Music Link). Then we will be empowered to avoid being foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, [and] hating one another. (See Titus 3:3) Look at what Jesus said again there at the top of the post – Whoever loves [anyone or anything] more than me is not worthy of me. So there is a conditional phrase there – more than me. What we should all be able to remember as a template for Christian living is the acronym J.O.Y. – J is for Jesus, O is for other, and Y is for you. God comes first; all else should be a distant second. Making God primary in our lives is willingly offering our allegiance to our Creator and Savior. Look at what we find here in Psalm 110:3 Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day you lead your forces on the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning, like dew, your youth will come to you.

Those who reverence the Lord are those who show up at reveille every day, not just when the Last Trumpet sounds. Those who listen attentively to the Gospel and teaching based on the Gospel – and the entire Word of God revealed in Christian Scripture – are those who know and serve God with joy, mercy, grace, peace, love, and especially reverence. If we are “Gate-Post Christians” – someone who does not participate in the Liturgy as part of the Community of Christ but just stands or sits like a gate post, completely unmoved by what is happening – then we are failing to be The Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, The Church, and Life of the Gospel. There is no sense of gratitude in that sort of failure to worship, to be engaged in the community of believers. We have been taught to be better than that. We are taught to be FAMILY, and that is the in-born desire of every human heart. The psalmist says God will give us the desires of our heart.

Does God really give us the desires of our heart? If our heart’s desire is God, then yes, he does. I invite you to reread Psalm 37, particularly verses 4 and 16. We want attention, affection affiliation, approval, satisfaction for all our hungers, advantage over others, recognition, food, clothing, “stuff.” We spend our lives pursuing these things. We spend what we have been given trying to obtain what we don’t need but absolutely want. There is a more excellent way. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the spiritual gifts God provides for his faithful. Immediately following his teaching on these gifts, he directs us to “still more excellent way.” God provides everything we need for happiness. We can chose his Gifts or ignore them. If we accept the Gifts, we honor the Giver of all good things. As Jesus himself said, But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (See Matthew 6:33) God has not forgotten us, but he has allowed some of the consequences of our disobedience to be felt here and now; we can choose to acknowledge those consequences and to repent of the evil we have done. We can examine our own hearts to see if we desire God above all else. If that examination is carried out in the Light of the Word, then we can embrace the Light and abhor the darkness. As we love the Lord more and more, the desires of our hearts change to the actions of our wills. Remember the power in these words: Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. Do not forget the Lord your God who made heaven and earth, and even you and me.

The desires of our hearts should be the desires of the Spirit. It is only that desire which can put to death the deeds of the body and enable us to take up the cross and follow Jesus. What will we do if we give and receive attention, affection, affiliation, and approval in Jesus? We will know the JOY of belonging to the Community of Faith, the Community of The Word. It is the longing for the Peace and Joy we know in Jesus that unites us with that community. We long to belong. Give God what’s right – not what’s left. Man’s way leads to a hopeless end – God’s way leads to an endless hope. We don’t change God’s message – His message changes us. And remember this WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.

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

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – June 26, 2020 – On the receiving end

2026AFC062620 – On the receiving end

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 10:40 40 Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Romans 6:9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today we will look a two excerpts from Sunday’s readings and a whole boatload of other Scripture. We will explore what it means to welcome Jesus, and also look at what many unbelievers will welcome during these perilous days. Let’s get right to it!

Romans 1:17-25 (emphasis added) – 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Please see Habakkuk 2:4)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

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

And here is an excerpt from a link in last week’s post (Matthew 10:26-33). If you did not use the link (I hope you did), you did not see this. It bears repeating. It’s from just a few verses up the page from today’s Key Verse ~~ Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”

One of the most difficult parts of living a Christian life is defending the exclusivity inherent in its fundamental basis for Salvation. In John 6:44, for example, we read 44 “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” And again in John 14:6-7 we read, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” We believe, therefore, that God has created in us a type of natural, irresistible affinity for him because we are created in his image and likeness. It is natural for us to know God, to see what God has done, and to seek unity with his Perfect Integrity of Oneness. We are aware of his presence even though he is invisible because we see the effect of his presence in his Creation and in living within that Creation because we, too, are an observable part and product of Creation. We know and understand that we did not create ourselves, and most rational people will believe that Creation – including all living and nonliving things – is real, tangible, and observable. We are conscious of “being,” aware of our own existence and of the existence of the rest of Creation. Our “personhood” is an observable fact (although there are some loonies out there who debate that). In this way we are able to conclude that there is a Creation, and therefore there is a Creator. If instead we are determined to claim there is no objective evidence of Creator or Creation, we deny God’s existence. Now, remember that when we say “God,” we mean all of God – the Holy Trinity. If we do not “credit” God with the acts of Creation, Salvation, and Animation then we deny him and everything he is and does. That is where Jesus’ statement comes into play: whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Because one can see what God does, one can know that God is, and we also have Scripture to tell us what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. God is the Source of the act of creation, and Creation is the Object of that act – the Source and the Object are separate. What is it we call that Object? One might call it by many names – the Heavens, outer space, The Great Void, and – quite popular these days – “The Universe.” For some who use that taxonomy, there is often a tendency to give it its own animation, to attribute powers, sentience, will, and identity by self-awareness. One might believe this because, after all, we are part of the universe, and we have powers, sentience, will, and identity by self-awareness. For example, one has the “power of creativity.” Suppose a college student named Mary uses her computer’s word processor as she composes a research paper for her Philosophy class. Did she “create” that body of work? Did the computer “create” that body of work? Did the Universe “create” that body of work? No, none of that can be true. Mary used billions of recycled electrons by accessing the programming in her computer, and the computer facilitates her activities, but the computer does not – and certainly ­cannot­ – create Mary’s document. Additionally, her document is based on research that is the result of scores, or even thousands, of other collectors of knowledge. We talk of creativity in the arts, and even in science (perhaps even politics), but CREATION is the process of making something from nothing. One can make or construct material objects, and even ideas which receive no material characteristics, but all of those are not CREATION. One should be able to conclude, therefore, that all of these things presented are ongoing Objects of one, singular act of Creation.

All of us are familiar with the argument that the likelihood of the universe coming together in such remarkable order and continuity is comparable to expecting the Oxford English Dictionary to come together as the result of an explosion in a printing shop (or of being written by a billion chimpanzees typing on billions more typewriters, hopping from one to another after completion of each word). As ludicrous as that might sound, one still hears people saying things like, “The Universe will punish your for that,” or “The Universe gave me an incredible gift today,” or “I’m counting on the Universe to get me that job” or, most grievous, “I have faith in the Universe because it’s never let me down.” How very tragic that one can accept such balderdash when there is so much evidence to the contrary! Worse still, it is appalling that these statements flatly and utterly reject God, his Creation, and the Object of his Creation because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen because whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Our own existence shows us what the Apostle Paul meant here: Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. The Psalmist also concludes in Psalm 33:6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. Recall as well that we read in the opening verses of the Gospel of John that All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (See John 1:3) That includes the universe and all the objects in it – you and me for example. There is an even greater consequence for deifying the universe; it has no power of resurrection. Only God has that power, remember? We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Christ, who is God, is Resurrected. We sometimes think of persons “raised from the dead” as being resurrected, but that is as false a notion as believing the universe can have its own volition. Lazarus, for example, was resuscitated – he experienced the reanimation of his natural, physical, mortal body. Jesus is RESURRECTED.

     This is why he said in John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” If one believes “The Universe” created us, cares for and about us, and provides us with the good things we desire, WE DENY GOD’S CREATION, REJECT Christ, and endanger our salvation which is the source of hope in our resurrection. We must instead WELCOME Christ, as God intends. Never forget, Belovéd, that everyone, every living soul past and present and future, will experience the Resurrection to Eternal recompense. Those who are called by the Father and go to him through the Son are destined for Eternal Life and Endless Joy in the presence of God. Those who are called by the Father and reject that call by rejecting the Son and counting instead on an Object named “The Universe,” an idol of their own making, are destined for Eternal Death and Endless Sorrow in the absence of God. When Jesus spoke of his identity as “The Resurrection,” the Greek word we have in Scripture is ἀνάστασις (← Check it out!) (anastasis) { an-as’-tas-is} a standing up, a resurrection, a raising up, rising up alive and transformed – it refers to the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ – and people (both of the redeemed and the unredeemed).

Just as Mary’s paper is not contingent on the volition of her computer, the course and outcome of our lives is not contingent on the volition of “The Universe.” (OR the stars for that matter.) Where did Mary’s thoughts originate, and what things were caused or effected by them? Her thoughts had an object – her paper – and all thinking, the making of connections between things we know to be sensible, has to be in relation to another object, that is, they have aspects of existence involving thoughts such as beliefs or desires about different kinds of objects, including those that have no actual existence. Only animate objects think – earthlings and many forms of animal life. Vegetable, mineral, and “outer space” or “the Heavens” or “The Universe” do not think or act and have no volitional characteristics. They have only existence which one accepts as true because one chooses to do so. It is through that choice that we receive what God gave us as opportunities of good works he prepared for us to complete before he created us. In James 3:13, the Apostle James reminds us 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. Is it only believers then who are good and gentle and wise? No Belovéd, all of us know persons whose generosity and kindness are irreproachable even if they put their faith in the universe instead of God. We know that 17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (See James 1:13-17). We are always on the receiving end of what God has created in and for us. “The Universe” exists as an object from or to which other objects can be taken – or sent – by or through choices it does not make on its own. The best one can say about the universe is For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Faith in “The Universe” is not righteousness because it is not faith in our Creator but rather faith in his Creation. One thereby rejects God’s perfect integrity, endless mercy, and eternal salvation through Christ our Lord. Death still holds dominion over those whose faith is based on something that is not Eternal. Therefore, “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” with God forever. (See Deuteronomy 30:19) We must make wise choices that do not exclude God’s gifts to us and as the Apostle James says in James 1:5-8 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

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

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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.

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – June 19, 2020 – Fear Not and Know Fear

2025AFC061920 – Fear Not and Know Fear

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.

Jeremiah 20:10a10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”

Matthew 10:2626 But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when the truth will be revealed: their secret plots will become public information. Living Bible (TLB)[1]

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. I very much do not want this to be a diatribe, but I very much do want to be clear about what those of us who profess the Christian faith must be doing during this turbulent time throughout the world. It would be easy to write a forceful and bitter attack, a rant against what we see and what we know is wrong. As the expressions goes, “Everybody’s doing it.” And of course, as soon as we hear that, we can hear a parent or a preacher or a teacher saying, “Well if ‘everybody’ went and jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” Instead of getting all livid and shouting, let’s just make some recommendations, share a little Praise, maybe give a few tributes and ovations, and perhaps include a Blessing – or two (or more).

One has to wonder how the whole world came unstitched in just a few weeks. We’ve seen so much bitter division over so many different things. It seems being offended has become the new National Pastime. The notion of being “ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” has become the basis for bitter recriminations. We have a widespread pestilence with devastating virulence that looks like it will be with us for years to come. History is being rewritten as people attack and destroy art they find offensive. (A quick aside here: Some of the folks who are tearing down statues are the same folks who decried the destruction of historical locations and art by ISIS.) This week sex was redefined as a characteristic unrelated to gender. Within the past year, the “right to life” for an unborn child was completely negated in some states. Laws permitting human persons to collaborate with a physician (sworn to “do no harm”) have been put in place that allow for another form of legalized murder. At the same time, laws that required capital punishment for certain heinous crimes were taken off the books.

Now, as we enter into what promises to be a very violent summer, we have unprecedented protests and riots around the world. The mayhem, criminal conduct, and disregard for life and property are horrific. The people we called heroes a month ago because of their contributions to keeping the nation running – police, fire fighters, truck drivers, healthcare workers, and the military – are now villainous usurpers of our individual rights. Leaders who pray for our Nation and our citizens are mocked as hypocrites while leaders who curse our citizens and government are hailed as models of decency. Let us praise God for those who serve others in humility rather than destroy others in pride!

On top of that, we have the prospects of a very serious and destructive hurricane season along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, a moderate possibility of a serious hurricane in the Central Pacific, the likelihood of at least one – and maybe more – super-typhoons in the Western Pacific, additional storms and flooding across the northern hemisphere, and who knows but what we might get a damaging earthquake somewhere along the line as well. There is no longer a “fire season” as there are humongous fires set off daily someplace in the world, probably in some West Coast states unfortunately. Again, in the past year or so, nearly the whole of Australia was burning and a great swath of the Amazon as well. Many of our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans are brimming with pollution of some sort.

Despite all of these calamities, there are still wars going on, there are still terrorists acting, there are still crooked politicians (I heard that. Someone said “all of ’em”), and the world economy is tanking without regard to nationality, need, creed, or income. Millions around the world have lost their jobs. Well over eight MILLION (8,000,000) people have been infected with COVID-19 VIRUS, and close to 500,000 have died. We are told there is more of that coming. Social media is “blowing up” with people who are disgusted and impatient with all these catastrophes. What is an earthling to do? I want you to know that – really – it is not what we do at the start that will make a difference; it is what we do not do. We must not be afraid.

All of the things I’ve listed here are the kinds of things that make us afraid. Is that what God asks of us? In our Key Verse from Jeremiah, he speaks of his abuse by his own countrymen because he dares to prophesy against the false prophets who have led the nation astray. There was a false prophet named Pashhur son of Immer, a Priest and “chief officer” of the Temple. He used false accusations, false prophecies, and false evidence to persecute anyone who challenged his power. Jeremiah was sent by God to prophesy against him, to get him and his cronies out of power. To put it into modern lingo, Jeremiah told Pashhur the swamp was going to be drained, and he was going with it when Babylon wiped out Judah and carried Pashhur and his family off to Babylon where they would die by the sword. And so it was. Israel, Judah, the Chosen People were again conquered and subjugated, impoverished, and subjected to a vicious pogrom. Yet, some survived. Some remained faithful even in captivity, even in times of great fear and suffering. As you may recall, Cyrus (← Check it out!) eventually freed them and sent them home. We’d like an outcome like that, yes? So where do we begin?

First, be faithful to the Gospel. In the words of the simple instructions Jesus gave at the beginning of his ministry (and the end of John’s) – “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Prophecies that do not include a call to repentance were instantly recognized as false prophecies. We must start out with Faith that is nurtured and pruned through repentance. That is how we face and overcome the fear that all of the commotion around us can stir up. That is the second thing we must do. We must not fear.

You see, it is fear that the Foe uses to make us abandon our mission to go to all corners of Earth to proclaim the Good News. Satan uses F.E.A.R. to keep us in doubt and desire to keep us dissatisfied. We don’t have to submit to those tactics; in fact, we must not buy that line of baloney from Satan or his minions among our fellow earthlings. Earlier this week I sent you a music link: Be Not Afraid (↔ Music Link). Maybe you could watch it again? We cannot, must not, should not be afraid to make the Gospel known and to live it as completely as we can. We know that Jesus has told us he is always with us, that God is always watching over us, and – as the Apostle Paul said – “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose.” (See Romans 8:28) Ah, that last little phase there is quite the hook. For what purpose are we called? We are called to be faithful, to testify from the housetops (see Matthew 10:26-33, especially verses 32 and 33), and to reverence God. Here is a little logo I created a few years ago that summarizes that:

This image reminds us there is a “proper fear,” the Fear of the Lord, , and that includes adoration, thanksgiving, and praise – like Standing Ovation Praise. Now, most of us know that when we see that phrase – fear of the Lord – it does not mean we are to be afraid of God. It means to be in awe of God, to reverence him, and to know he is our Creator, our Salvation, and our Enduring Hope. Fear Not, because you Fear God! Someone has written that there are 365 instances in the Bible that tell us not to be afraid. I’d say that is pretty convincing evidence that being afraid in our lives is not what God intended for us. Here’s a good quote from the above selection in the Gospel of Matthew:

When each of us faces our day of judgment, what will it matter if we were afraid? Will we tell Jesus, “I couldn’t live the Gospel; I was too afraid.”? We know our mission will include controversy, confrontation, and contradiction – sometimes to the point of imprisonment or death. Do not be afraid. (← Check it out!) Fear can make us do things that are contradictory to our faith – we might act unethically because “no one will know,” or “everyone is doing it, so it’s OK for me.” We might do this because we are afraid of rejection, bullying, criticism, or persecution. We can honor those who stick to their faith by following their example. Do what we know is right. Avoid doing what we know is wrong. When we commit a wrong, we must repent. We must remember it’s The Ten Commandments, not the Recommendation List. We must remember that prayer is worship and praise, not a To-Do list for God. And we must remember not to be afraid!

There is a hymn I learned in our Youth Group around 1960. It was written Ellis Govan 1897-1983, born in Biggar, Strathdyde, Scotland. He served in World War I, and then worked in Kenya for several years. He later joined Faith Mission, the evangelistic agency his father founded in 1886 in Scotland and Ireland. Ellis wrote the hymn, “I Will Not Be Afraid.” (↔ Music Link) This hymn was born among the persecuted missionaries and believers in China during the war with Japan, 1931-1939. They boldly sang it together daily as they were surrounded by constant danger. Music: “Duntroon,” usually listed as Anonymous. As we listen to this simple tune and read the words, we can think about the love in our hearts and examine that love to see if there is any fear within it. If there is fear, we must “look upward, and travel onward, and not be afraid.” True Love does not evoke fear. We are repeatedly commanded to Love, and repeatedly reminded “Do not be afraid. (e.g., Psalm 56:11) Fear not. (e.g., Luke 12:32)” Love, instead, delivers us from all fear if we will just love one another in the same way that Jesus willing and completely, without pretense or demand, Loves us they same way his Father Loves him.  That is our blessing, the blessing we must share with everyone who Loves God.

God Our Father himself said, Isaiah 41:1010 … do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. We have Jesus’ word as well in John 16:33 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world! So, Belovéd, what shall we do? Scripture shows us we need not be afraid, so what outlook should we embrace? Let’s choose Psalm 37:3Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Fear Not and Know Fear.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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

 

[1] Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – June 12, 2020 – Call it what it is

2024AFC061220 – Call it what it is

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.

Many Keys to Something

John 6:51 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Today we anticipate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The “old name” for this was Corpus Christi. It was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264 as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the Thursday after Pentecost. He decreed it as a feast for the entire Latin Church, by the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo. .Hence, the feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist. The recommendation for the papal bull came from none other than Saint St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church. Aquinas’ suggesting had its roots in some forty years of dedication to the Eucharist by a certain Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century Norbertine canoness, also known as Juliana de Cornillon, born in 1191 or 1192 in Liège, Belgium, based on a vision she had of Christ in 1208. In the vision, she was inspired to request a special, unique celebration of the Eucharist. Remarkably, she kept the vision – and the request – a secret for about 20 years. [i] This Solemnity (a feast day of the highest rank) has been celebrated on the assigned date ever since it was established. Take note of the subject of that solemnity – The Body and Blood of Christ. It makes a difference which I hope to show you by telling you a little story from my past.

You may have heard this before.

When I was in the seventh grade, we had a wonderful teacher for General Science named Mr. Skylar. He was a teacher who inspired even the most truculent students to learn something. He frequently challenged the class to disprove some point of Science he was teaching, and often the challenge was a bet for a piece of cherry pie from the cafeteria. He was one cool cat, too! He drove a Triumph TR3, the girls thought he was “dreamy,” and the eggheads thought he was super-smart. One of his favorite teaching routines was to give a pop-quiz at the start of class based on the latest assignment. Then he would turn the papers over to his teaching assistants who would grade the papers and return them to Mr. Skylar so he could read off the scores out loud in front of the whole class. We usually had 10 minutes to answer 20-25 questions. You had to work fast!

One week we were studying a dissection of a perch. We all knew there would be a quiz and probably a bet, too. Well, there were both. One boy lost a bet about whether perch were fresh water of salt water fish. There are both kinds of perch. He lost. The quiz was “only” 20 questions, so as soon as I got my paper, I launched right into it – put my name at the top and raced through all 20 questions! I was sure I had at least passed. At the end of the class, the assistants came out and he started reading the names and scores; “Bob, 85; Jan, 90; James, 75; Susan, awwww 60! Then it happened: ” … Who’s CHICK?!?!” I had rushed the writing of my name CHUCK so that it was illegible and I forgot to put my last name Todd. The laughter was … not unusual for me. I was always a skinny, homely nerd.

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

No matter what you call me, God created me as CHARLES OLIN TODD, III. I am immensely pleased with that because it is the very definition of my history. If you are going to call me who I am, that is what you call me. If you are going to call me who I want to be, you call me Chick Todd. If you are going to call me by who I do not want to be, you call me Chuckie – or one of the scores of other insults male earthlings fling at each other. I want you to understand that because I want you to understand the name of this Solemnity.

It is not the Solemnity of Wonder Bread and Welch’s Grape Juice, nor of Matzah and Manischewitz, nor of Bread and Wine. It is Body and Blood of Christ. Catholics, and a few other non-Catholic denominations, believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. (Please see 1917AFC042619 – THIS is important for some insight into what we believe.) When I hear someone speaking of the elements of the Eucharist as “the bread and wine,” it makes me cringe just as much as hearing the name “Chuckie” directed at me. The offering for the Eucharistic Feast is unleavened bread and unadulterated wine (no preservatives, “natural” fermented grape juices, and fresh, i.e., not soured). The unleavened bread wafers used are wheat (like the shewbread), and are passed to the recipient with the phrase “The Body of Christ;” the response is “Amen.” If Communion is given under both species, the recipient receives communion from the Chalice with the phrase “The Blood of Christ;” again the response is “Amen.” Throughout the Eucharist, and in every Mass prayed at every church in every hour around the world, the practices are the same. But here is something I find remarkable:

     According to several studies over the past 20 or so years, researchers have found that about 40% of confirmed Catholics, including the twenty-three Eastern Christian sui iuris (autonomous) particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope in Rome – do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ! Honestly, there is really no point in the Eucharist which is “the source and summit of our faith” (Please see CCC 1322-1344) without knowing that one is receiving the True and Real Presence of Christ. Is it that hard to believe? Yes, and that is why we call it a Mystery – a Mystery of Faith. Look again at the words of the Key Verse: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. HE, and HE ALONE gave his life – very literally his “flesh and blood,” for the life of the world. If you have looked at or remember the message linked above about the word THIS – in Greek οὗτος (oútos) {hoo-tohs or oo-tohs}, as well as 1512AFC051515 – Look him up, you will know how seriously we take the Eucharistic Mystery. Here is a resource on that topic:

When Jesus says, “this is my body,” his declaration is that what he is about to share – pieces from the broken loaf of bread – IS HIS body. He is not saying, “this represents my body,” “this is like my body,” “this is a symbol of my body,” or “pretend my body is bread.” He means what he says: “this is my body.” In the next sentence, there is another declaration in the form of a command: “Do this in remembrance of me.” He is telling the Apostles they are to do and say exactly what he has done and said. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the presiding Priest does NOT say, “This is his body,” or “This represents his body.” The Priest, in his ministry as the alter christus, repeats what Jesus told the Apostles to repeat: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Here again, the meaning, intent, and purpose are perfectly clear. It is the same with the communion Chalice – as in Matthew 26:27-28 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Here is the Real Presence of the Body of Christ, here is the Real Presence of the Precious Blood of Christ, and here is the exact expression of what Jesus commanded should be said and done. Wherever we find one of the demonstrative pronouns in these passages, there we will also find the meaning this one, meaning the item actually present here, the one just named and none other than this one; and also this action, meaning the action actually performed here, the one just shown and none other than this one. The first time we come across τοῦτο is in Genesis 2:1919 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The Hebrew word there is ה֥וּא (hu or hi) {hoo} which is an emphatic form for the pronoun it replaces, in this passage it would be the name Adam gave.

So, Belovéd, yeh cain’t call me Ray (↔ Video Link) , or Raymond, or RJ, … “but you doesn’t hasta call me Johnson!” OR CHUCKIE. And just the same way, you don’t have to call it bread and wine, because it’s not. It is the Sacred Body and the Precious Blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. I’m CHARLES O TODD III, and if you call me that I know you know who I am. It is my right and proper name. It is used in right a proper circumstances where formality is right and just. Certainly the Holy Eucharist is a circumstance where the formality of that which is right and just is most certainly proper. I encourage everyone – Catholic and Non-Catholic alike – to remember that, in Faith, we share the Presence of the Lord whenever we meet him the in the Eucharist. He is first, last, foremost, and singularly the living bread that came down from Heaven.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

I should also mention the Key Verse icon for this post. That’s a whole pile of keys of many descriptions. I chose that because they represent the hundreds of Key Verses I have chosen (even before I started calling them Key Verses), and also because of the hundreds of posts I have put up using those Key Verses. Every key in that pile is the key to unlocking something. Every Key Verse in this blog is also a key to unlocking something called Scripture. There are many cross-references in this post, and if you follow them, you’ll be busy for a while-and-a-half. It’s good practice for the process of Scripture Study.

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

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

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

 

[i]  See this article on Juliana de Cornillon

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – June 5, 2020 – Let’s WIN This Thing!

2023AFC060520 – Let’s WIN this thing!

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. For the past few weeks, we have had some difficulty with scheduled posts being publish as the scheduled time. Thanks to the extraordinary helpers who maintain the Moon Beam Network, we believe this problem has been resolved! Thank you Kukui-IT for everything you do!

2 Corinthians 13:11b Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

¡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!) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

I am going to share with you some thoughts about what we’ve been through this year and especially about what is happening NOW. The Spirit of Evil, the Destroyer, the Ha-Satan – “Accuser” – is running the show. As a Nation, we are divided about whom or what is responsible. Is it race? Is it politics? Is it history? Is it really my fault? How could it possibly be your fault? Surely it must be OUR fault? Maybe you remember seeing this:

It seems to me that the way things are going, it really doesn’t matter where the fault originates because too few people genuinely care about justice for everyone. Justice for ME, that’s OK, but justice for YOU – fugetaboutit.  It seems we do care a great deal about BLAME though. Why is that? I believe – and you may disagree – that it is because we are too tolerant of Injustice. If there is no viable, objective, indelible Truth, then how can there be anything even remotely resembling real Justice? And if there is no Justice, there surely can be no Mercy! Without Justice and Mercy, all we have is injustice and malice. Belovéd, that is what I see happening around the whole World this very day – injustice and malice perpetrated by earthlings who are controlled by demons. Demons!? Who believes in that stuff – other than Hollywood?

Belovéd, these are difficult times, perilous times, perplexing times. We know we are at war in multiple places and multiple levels. We see warfare waged on six of the seven continents. In some of these locations, evil clearly has the upper hand while in others the battles go better for one side or the other without any conclusive ending. And then there is the war behind these wars, the war of the Spirits. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul writes, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Think of it, Beloved. Paul wrote those words roughly 1900 or so years ago! Who is in that battle now, and who has the upper hand? Let’s look at Scripture, and see if we can find some answers.

MBN members may recall a previous message describing the War we are in. I capitalize that word War to call attention to the fact that this War is different from what we usually think of as war. Recently we also published a four-part series on The Full Armor of God on Catholic365.com. This is a spiritual battle which continues to grow and no earthling anywhere is unaffected by this monstrous conflict between good and evil. Lucifer is grinning ear-to-ear, wringing his hands in gleeful anticipation, and taking full advantage of much of humanity’s denial of his existence. The Father of Lies, who himself is an angel of light (Lucifer), appears all round the world stirring up strife, anguish, terror, and war (small w). What are we to do about this Spiritual War? And how can we help stave off the spirits which ceaselessly assault us in every place? Does that sound like an exaggeration, like something from one of those demonically-based horror flicks? That is because we are being conditioned to accept Evil as truth. Let me ask you a couple of questions.

Do you believe in God? If you do, then you must also believe in Satan, our mutual enemy, because God is not a liar, so he would not warn us against him if he was not real. Do you believe in Angels? Then you must believe in demons, because Satan took with him many of the Holy Angels who joined him in his rebellion against God. Do you believe the souls of our Faithful and Obedient departed are with God? Then you must believe that the souls of the faithless and rebellious departed are with Satan. Do you believe the idea that Satan is not the personification of Evil, and that he is actually helping God? Are you among those who believe God is the source of all things, including what earthlings regard as good or evil? That obviates the existence of immutable Truth.

Think of all the people you know – not just the ones you hang out with – all the people in the news, all the people in the nations where war is happening right now, and all the people whose “spiritual ideologies” exclude any aspect of the reality of the Holy Trinity. Think also about all the people who could possibly be being paid to inflict anarchy on their communities. As citizens of the Republic of the United States of America, none of us should be working for the overthrow of the government. We are being conditioned not only to accept evil, but also to believe that our national goal should NOT be: ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Is there liberty and justice for all? No, there is not. Is fomenting hatred, division, mayhem, destruction, and brutality the pathway to Justice? Of course it is not! We are seeing around the world the result of a small percentage of the humanity on this planet determining to inflict the maximum amount of pain and suffering on the rest of humanity. Why are they doing that? They are doing that because we have allowed evil to displace Love. Whoever does not know Love does not know God, and whoever does not know God cannot know, or act in, Love.

Now [1] think of all the people who claim to know God, to serve Christ, but whose words and actions contradict everything they claim. Next, [2] think of all the people whose words match their lives, who can say with absolute certainty “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Lastly, [3] think of all the people who detest God and his People. Run a quick tally in your head. Which of these three groups is the smallest? Which of these three groups are most likely to become God’s allies when the battles intensify? Finally, if you know in your heart how to distinguish one group from the other, then you know how to “test the spirits.” In the end, we will all have to answer these questions, so it is best to answer them today and every day as we test the spirits we encounter. Paul refers to one of those spirits as the Spirit of the antichrist.

When we hear that word, we think of opposition – anti meaning against; but the Greek word/prefix ἀντί – anti – not only means “opposite of” but also “in place of.” The spirit of the antichrist is not only among us, it is often within us whenever we place anything or anyone above The Holy Trinity. Think of the vices that control portions of our lives – little idols we serve – like booze, nicotine, sex, violence, ego, hatred, indifference, envy, selfishness, greed, lust, gluttony … got the picture? When Christ is replaced by even just one these things, these spirits, we welcome the antichrist into our lives. Now this is not the fabulous charismatic world leader who will “solve” all the world’s problems, perform wondrous acts of great power, and set himself up as a god. No, this is the “evil that men do [which] lives after them.” It is our failure. But it is not our defeat! As we see, you who belong to God have already defeated this spirit, because the one who lives in you is far stronger than the anti-Christ in the world. (See 1 John 4:1-6 please do follow that link!) That is, if indeed He lives within you. (Again – please follow this → link to Romans 8:5-9)

The War is fought on multiple fronts. There is war in our flesh and against our flesh. There is war in our families and against the very foundation of families, holy matrimony. There is war in our minds as we quell the warning signals in our heart, our minds and our spirits and – in the name of tolerance and “good will” – we accept what we know is wrong, and reject what we know is right. Antichrist! Remember: It has been said that for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing. (Rev. Charles F. Aked) And why do good men so often do nothing? We must ask ourselves, not others, for it is us, and only us, who can be held accountable for the good that we do as well as the good we do not do. “He who is in you” has conquered the World and all its evil; when we oppose or replace Him, we tip the scale of victory away toward the ever-advancing tide of evil that swells across the planet.

Test the spirits! 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.(See Jude 1:20-21) Forewarned is forearmed, and we are forewarned daily. Why do we fail to heed that warning? I said previously, “In the end, we will all have to answer these questions, so it is best to answer them today and every day as we test the spirits we encounter.” Here is a passage from Ephesians 6 (J. B. Phillips New Testament) that describes our responsibility, accountability, and God’s dependability:

Ephesians 6:13

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) ®

Be forewarned and forearmed in your spiritual conflict

10-18 In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ’s men and women.

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

  1. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”, 1962 edition by HarperCollins

Ephesians 6:13 in all English translations

Finally, Belovéd, reflect on the power in the Scripture selections that follow. We have Victory in Jesus! (↔ Music Link)

1 John 4:2-4 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Now, please use these links to give you more Power in this War!

Colossians 2:13-15

Luke 10:17-20

Romans 16:17-20

1 John 5:3-4 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Our Faith is in the Lord – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – who made Heaven and Earth. Our Faith is the assurance of our Victory regardless of what the Accuser says or does to us through his subordinates.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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.

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – May 29, 2020 – Among the Gifted

2022AFC052920 – Among the Gifted

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 12:7-11 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. It’s finally here! Pentecost is coming! What will we see? What manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit will we find in our lives? Will you, will I, will we recognize it? More importantly, will we know what to do with it? We know these manifestations go by a couple of familiar names in Scripture: the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit. There is some information on that at 1603AFC011516 – Gift Wrapped. Just for a refresher, though, let’s look at what’s included in those two titles.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Fruit of the Holy Spirit
The Word of Knowledge Love
The Word of Wisdom Joy
The Gift of Prophecy Peace
The Gift of Faith Patience
The Gifts of Healings Kindness
The Working of Miracles Generosity
The Discerning of Spirits Faithfulness
Different Kinds of Tongues Gentleness
The Interpretation of Tongues Self control

In the Key Verse passage for today, the opening verse – verse 7 – is one that I see as the bow on the gift wrapping for these gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Let’s see it again:

    1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. We’re going to pick that apart a bit and see what comes of it.

First, the Apostle Paul says “to each.” Just who is included in that word “each?” in verses 2-3 of this chapter, he says “You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” This is addressed to Christians who have converted from their pagan beliefs in idols and professed their faith in Christ, were baptized, and confirmed in the Holy Spirit. These manifestations of the Spirit the Apostle Paul will soon to describe are established in members of the Church, The Body of Christ, the Bride of the Redeemer. By saying “each,” he describes the phenomenon as occurring to two or more individually, rather than “severally.” As a group of believers, they are all gifted by the Holy Spirit, but as individuals, they are each gifted with something of what is needed for the benefit of all.

Next we see “the manifestation” as the process for the actions of the Holy Spirit. A manifestation is a “showing forth.” One might immediately think of the Epiphany of Jesus, his “showing forth,” and that is a good reference. An epiphany is a manifestation of divinity; a manifestation – when not of a divinity – is a public revelation of human characteristics. But wait! Aren’t we talking about the Holy Spirit? How is that not divinity? It is not the divinity of the Holy Spirit that is made manifest. It is the manifestation of gifts and fruit from the Holy Spirit. This is a public showing-forth of what God, through the Holy Spirit, gives to Christians in the Church for the benefit of the Church. We can see these gifts when they are used in that context.

Next we read “of the Spirit.” Well, there’s nothing hidden or obscure about that! These are not manifestations of our actions. They are manifestations of the Spirit’s actions. This is one of those super-easy traps the Foe often uses to mess with our hearts and minds, and to wage war on the Church. “I’m such a Good Little Christian, because I can ….” It is not our “go-power” that establishes these gifts in our lives. They are gifts so they are not something from ourselves which we give to ourselves. It reminds me of that story about Granny who was knitting socks for her grandson Tom for his return to college in the fall. Tom’s sister, Anne, saw her knitting and asked what she was working on. “Oh, I’m knitting some warm socks for Tommy for when he goes back to school.” “But Granny, why are you knitting three socks?” “Oh! Tommy sent me a postcard in August at the end of his road-trip and told me he’d grown another foot over the summer.” Belovéd we can no more generate the gifts God sends to us for the Church than we can generate an additional appendage! It was the Spirit of God who moved across the waters in Genesis, and it is the Spirit of God who moves across us when we receive the Holy Spirit.

Finally we end, as the Apostle Paul did, with “for the common good.” That’s the clincher, as far as I’m concerned, because it says what we must do with those gifts. We must use them! Whenever we use those gifts, we not only give service to God and to the Church, but also give others around us a view of what the Holy Spirit does. In the Church, and in the world, our actions make the Holy Spirit manifest to others. We have gifts. We use those gifts (they are called “charisms” in the Church). Through our charismatic actions the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit is made known. In this way the Holy Spirit reveals himself to everyone both inside of and outside of the Church. And what is the coolest aspect of these gifts? The more we use them, the more we have of them!

We sometimes jokingly refer to things as “the gift that keeps on giving,” but that is exactly what happens with the Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit. They continue to grow, to blossom like beautiful blossoms that yield rich and varied fruits for the nourishment and edification of EVERYONE. NO, it should be clear that this is most definitely NOT something we can do for ourselves by ourselves. What is (are) your gift(s)? If you can’t see them, how do you know they are there? You know by looking at the things you can do best. I’ve covered that earlier. Seriously, I ask you to look at Aloha Friday Message – July 20, 2012 – Whose gift is that? 1229AFC072012. I’m going to borrow a few words from that post. First, though, some supporting Scripture about these spectacular – yet common – gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:26 26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Ephesians 4:11-13 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Romans 12:6-8We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:28 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.

“None of those gifts or fruits sound like the kinds of things I can do.” If that is what you are thinking, then you may not have found a way to perceive and be aware of your gifts. When you think of the things you might be able to share with your faith community, begin by thinking about the things you are good at, the things for which you have developed a passion over the years. For example, I love scripture study, I’m comfortable in front of groups, I have the “gift of gab” like all my siblings, and all of these things come together in being a Lector – a person who reads passages of Scripture during the liturgy. Many churches of all descriptions have what I’d call on-going education for adults (a.k.a. “Sunday School”). In some cases though, it is increasingly difficult to get adults involved in these faith-based learning opportunities. The opportunity to grow in Faith is a very special gift because it is a gift that allows you to grow in service. When you look at your skill-set, what kinds of things do you enjoy most which might have a meaningful connection to your faith community?

When you offer to present your gifts for the betterment of the community, God blesses that offering by choosing for you something that you can do well and which you love to do. He stirs up in you the desire to serve his church effectively, and he brings glory to his church and to his provident care through the esteem given for the effective works accomplished.  Let’s look at just one of the Gifts of the Spirit for a moment to see how that might translate into an opportunity for stewardship. Let’s look at the first one in the list above – the Word of Knowledge. How is that expressed in your community?

Some of the activities that fit into this gift category are teaching, preaching, technology and science, leading and/or participating in educational conferences or retreats, writing, home-schooling, religious education, and working on the pastoral council. That is one Gift having many (and many more) applications.

Let’s look at one other gift – Intercessory Prayer. Paul was constantly interceding for the fledgling churches he and the other apostles had founded. This could be usefully expressed in your community through group intercessions (prayer meetings), healing-prayer team, prayer walking/driving, as a parent praying for children (yours and/or others), as part of a prayer chain or circle (like the MBN!), as a sponsor for baptism or confirmation or marriage or ordination, and as a community activist prayerfully leading your neighborhood to a better life.

It is important to understand that God does not limit us to seven Fruits and nine Gifts of the Spirit. There are dozens if not hundreds of Gifts, and the fruits we nurture through the use of our gifts also number much higher than nine.

Belovéd, as you can see, we are indeed among the Gifted, one of the Many and Great (↔ Music Link) whom God has chosen to receive Blessings and Graces in abundance. There are only requirements that come with these gifts:

  1. Honor the Giver by accepting the Gift
  2. Honor the Gift by sharing it with others.

Do just those two things, and you will enjoy a very Lovely Present from your Creator!

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

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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.

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

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

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – May 22, 2021 – What is doubt?

2021AFC052220 – What is doubt?

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 28:17 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Mark 16:6-16 Now after he [Jesus] rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, Belovéd. This coming Sunday, May 24, 2020, a great many Christians will be celebrating The Ascension of the Lord. This is one of my favorite celebrations of the life of Christ. I’ve written about it here several times, notably in Aloha Friday Message – May 15, 2015 – Look Him Up! One of the readings in that event we commemorate next Sunday comes from Acts 1:1-11. Verses 10-11 read – 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” I make it a point to mention that the word “this” in that last sentence is supremely important. The Greek word used in this passage is very specific and means this one, the one visibly present here, the one just named and none other than this one. There’s not another one, there’s no way it could be someone else. It will be precisely, exactly, permanently that same guy you just saw take off into the clouds. It is HE who will return to you. (See 1917AFC042619 – THIS is important) This one verse in the whole New Testament confirms to me every word Jesus said to the Apostles, his Disciples, and every Christian that has ever lived. Exactly that one-and-only Jesus is coming back to get us in the same way he departed Earth! I tell you, if you can believe what those “two men in white robes said,” you have Hope and Peace and Joy and Love and  the Promise that he lives – not just in our hearts – but for sure and certain in his Father’s House of many dwellings. And honestly, folks, I don’t see how anyone cannot believe that if they’ve gotten anything from God’s Story of Salvation the B.I.B.L.E. Now, take a look at the first Key Verse for today. Those last three words astonish and appall me. It says, “but some doubted.”

Wha-a-a-a-a-a-t?!?!? When we see images of the ascension, we mostly see just the remaining 11 Apostles standing there looking into the sky as Jesus is taken up (or flies up on his own power) into the clouds and out of sight. In my mind’s-eye, however, I see Jesus’ mother Mary there with them, and the other Marys that had accompanied him along with Joanna and Susanna, Clopas, Joseph of Arimathea, and perhaps even some of the other converts – including a few from the Jewish priesthood – who loved him. He was seen by upwards of 500 persons, whether all at the same time or at various times during the forty days after the resurrection – we do not know, and so, perhaps it was more than just the eleven. Now why do I think that? That comes to mind because of those three startling words but some doubted.

You know I like to look into the original words, so once again we will dip a toe into those waters. The word Luke uses here is distazo which literally means twenty-thousand. Say what? It’s one of those idiomatic expressions that means “going two ways, shifting between positions; choosing “a double-stance” and hence vacillate (waver); (figuratively) uncertain at a crossroad because refusing to choose one way over the other – “wanting to have our cake and eat it too”; to halt between two opinions (views, beliefs).” It’s the same thing as not believing what you see!! You’ll remember the Apostle Thomas took that approach – “I’ll believe it when I see it.” A similar aphorism is “Seeing is believing.” Whether the gathering there as Jesus departed Earth was just the Eleven, or a small crowd of witnesses, all of them had seen Jesus’ many miracles, heard Jesus’ many admonitions and promises, and spent many months walking with him from Tyre and Sidon to Jerusalem and Bethphage. How could they do all of that and still have any doubts about anything Jesus did or said? We find a clue in Jesus’ own words to the Disciples and Apostles; it’s another biblical quote that has become a popular aphorism: “O YE OF LITTLE FAITH.”

Here again, we are wise to explore the content and context of that phrase. The word used in Greek is oligopistos – a fascinating word that is a contraction of olígos, which means a small quantity or a small number, and pístis which means faith. Oligopistos, then, is a state or action that occurs infrequently – Jesus is telling them to use and grow the faith they have, but they doubt – they are not just double-minded, they are 20,000-minded! The term describes someone whose “hearing” – understanding – is all stuffed up. Think of the three-year old with fingers in the ears going LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA! The Disciples cannot hear his voice, hear his message, hear his commands, hear his Love. They are insufficiently interested in HIM and therefore cannot increase their faith; in fact, they barely have faith. This word, oligopistos, is found only in the New Testament; it is not found in any known secular work! That alone should tell us that what Jesus is saying to “we of little faith” is extraordinarily important. If we are not interested enough in nurturing an intimate relationship with Jesus the Christ, if we do not hear or see how he teaches us and cares for us, if we fail to understand that being Christian means following Jesus by imitating his life and emulating his teaching, then we truly, surely are “O we of little faith.” We do not trust him. I say again, WE DO NOT TRUST HIM. Take a look at the instances in the Gospels where oligopistos occurs:

Matthew 6:30 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Matthew 8:26 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.

Matthew 14:31 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Again, distazo for “doubt”)

Matthew 16:8 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? (I urge you to read Matthew 16:5-12 to see this in context.)

Luke 12:28 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

Every time Jesus uses this phrase – O you of little faith – it comes after he has spoken what God has given him to say, and they “fail to hear his voice.” What he says, what he does, who he is seems to them to be too fantastical. Their inadequate response in action says, “I don’t believe you.” Even after the Resurrection – after everything they had been through with Jesus, they could not, did not, would not believe, as we saw above:

Mark 16:1111 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Mark 16:13 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Mark 16:14 14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. Later as they were eating, Jesus appeared to the eleven and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
Eventually, after scolding them, eating with them, talking and walking with them, their faith began to strengthen a tiny bit.
Acts 1:3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. (Once again I urge you to read this very important passage in context at 1 Corinthians 15:3-11)

Having seen how difficult it was for Jesus’ contemporaries to believe him, what are we to do to improve our own small faith? Jesus’ own words can be our guide.

  • Hear my voice
  • Obey my commands
  • Have faith
  • Believe I am able to do this
  • Believe as children do
  • Trust me, believe in me
  • Trust my works
  • Love me and Love one another as I have Loved you
  • Most convincing of all – Do not doubt:
    • Matthew 21:19-22 19 And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Belovéd, without a doubt we should, can, and will live in Faith. What is doubt? It is being overly-analytical – “20,000-minded” – about the reality of Jesus life, all of it. How is doubt thrown out? Through Faith, and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  (See Romans 10:14-17) And how do we hear the Word of God? Love Jesus, keep his commandments, and rely on the Spirit of Truth: John 14:15-17 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

We will have Faith, and not doubt, if we have The Truth, the Life, and the Way within us. I don’t doubt that one teeny little bit! Jesus, I believe in YOU (↔ Music Link)

THIS SAME Jesus IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE ONE I AM WAITING FOR BECAUSE I BELIEVE HIM. That is why our attitude of gratitude is absolutely essential. It makes it possible to hear his voice and find ever-greater faith.

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

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – May 15, 2020 – Stick with it

2020AFC041520 – Stick with it.

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 14:21, 23 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Proverbs 4:3-4 When I was a son with my father, tender, and my mother’s favorite, he taught me, and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.

Aloha pumehana, a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! Warmest Aloha, and may God bless you, Belovéd! Today is an Providential Day of serendipitous synchronicity. This is the Seven-Hundred-Fiftieth post on the Moon Beam Network. It is the twentieth post in the twentieth year of the twenty-first century – 2020 WHICH IS ALSO THE BEGINNING OF THE POST’S INDEX NUMBER and comes on the Ides of May. According to the Urban Dictionary, the Ides of May is “[t]he middle of May; approximately May 15th. This is the general date at which all [sic] high-school seniors have gotten where they want to be and thus, stop caring about high school. This coincides with the point in the grading term in which they can still pass their classes without doing any work from there on out.” Another way to put that is that it is the onset of “Senioritis.” I’ve never quite gotten over that, I guess, as I am still a Senior, and still coasting. Well, not really, but it seems that way sometimes. I don’t waste much energy on worrying or feeling deprived during this episode of World History. “We’re all in this together” seems to me to have been perfectly obvious since about November 20, 1946. I am not lonely, or disconsolate, or in any greater distress than usual. In fact, when people ask, “How are?” I’m pleased to answer, “I’m happy.” Oh, it’s true that I get irritated by kids on motocross bikes, and old men who run a weed-whacker 6 hours a day five days a week right outside our house. I do scoff at movie stars, costly athletes, purported comedians, and other celebrities who think they are medical experts or have the authority to speak disparagingly about our country; or politicians who can’t seem to keep their lies straight; or persons in authority who abuse that authority against the innocent. I am, nevertheless, not weighed down with personal responsibility – or guilt – for the vagaries of angry people. I choose to be happy.

I am happy because I know what JOY is simply because it is deep in my heart (↔ Music Link) and I am so happy (↔ Music Link) so much so that even when I am grouchier than Oscar (↔ Music Link), down deep I am truly, truly happy – and isn’t that what Jesus wanted, for your joy, my joy, our JOY to be FULL? There is after all a New Testament Commandment to love one another and abide in Christ’s love which carries with it the promise of complete joy: John 15:9-11 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

We are together with Jesus in God the Father because Jesus is together with us and with our Father. In this way we are able to Love God in Christ Jesus, and if we love him – that is what he tells us plainly – IF we love him (when we love him), we will keep his commandments. This brings to mind something we are hearing ad nauseum. There are a couple of ways we hear it:

We’ll all get through this together.

Together we’ll all get through this.

Well, here’s what I’d like to hear for a change:

We’ll all get together through this.

When we are reminded every few minutes – literally – that we should be feeling sad and lonely and have no place to go, that is a huge assault on the human spirit! We do have a place to go! We are never alone. Yes, I know that lonely and alone are two different things; I know we can be surrounded by others and still feel lonely. We may long for that human touch but feel we don’t deserve it or can’t bear it. In this pandemic, it is – in a very pervasive way – denied to us. There are times in our lives when we do not want to be touched; these are also times of pain for us. It may be emotional, physical, or spiritual pain that causes us to shrink away from the touch of others even if it is the touch of someone who loves us. We sometimes even shrink away from God’s touch. We may feel that God cannot possibly care about how badly we feel. “If God is really so loving and kind, why has he done this to me?” Intellectually, we can dismiss that rhetorical question by admitting that God does not cause evil; he does permit evil because it is part of his Divine Plan. Knowing that any of us could sometimes feel like God has deserted us, God made himself touchable. He gave us the Man, Christ Jesus, who was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and human in all ways except sin. He is resurrected and still very touchable. There’s song that I recall from the seventies that expresses this so sweetly. Written by Charles F. Brown in 1971, it became immensely popular in all kinds of Christian churches – including Catholic churches. (Yes, just to reiterate, Catholics are Christians!). It is called Reach Out and Touch the Lord as He Walks By. It’s a great way to be closer to God – reach out and touch him like an old friend. Jesus said, “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (See John 15:15). And he has told us what the Father expects of us. I mentioned New Testament Commands earlier. Let’s look at Jesus’ commands – the ones he told us we will follow when we love him.

50+ commands of Jesus – Repent; believe; follow me; seek the Kingdom first; do not be afraid; do not worry; do unto others a you would have them do unto you; do not judge; love God; love your neighbor; do more than is expected of you; beware of false prophets; take care of orphans and widows – the poor and marginalized; honor your parents; keep your word; be generous; do not swear; let your yes be yes and your no be no; choose the narrow way; forgive your enemies; bless them that curse you; and a whole bunch more! Had enough? How can we ever do all of these things? Do you realize that, by some accounts, there are over 1,000 New Testament commands? (← Check it out!) At least 50 of these are straight out of the Gospels, compiled by various authors, here, also here, and here. While the approach in these sites is not completely in keeping with Catholic Tradition, one can – nonetheless – get a good notion of the absolute fact that Jesus had quite a lot to say about what it takes to serve the Lord, his Father, and if you read the passages listed in context you will see that for the Jews in Jesus’ day, much of what he said was radically different from what they believed. If we are being true to Christian teaching – true to the Gospel – then shouldn’t we also be radically different from the World?

I know some of our readers find it a bit irksome when I take off into the languages of the Bible to show you how God has preserved what HE wants us to know and understand. I’ll try to go lightly through this, but it is edifying to understand the importance of the word KEEP when God speaks it to us. Here are some passages to consider:

John 14:21, 23 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Proverbs 4:3-4 When I was a son with my father, tender, and my mother’s favorite, he taught me, and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.

In the Old Testament, the word for keep is often shamar {shaw-mar’} I, keep, guard, observe, give heed. The Greek equivalent of this in the Old Testament is epereidō  to fix, prop firmly, lean or bear upon. In the New Testament a word frequently used is téreó tay-reh’-o  maintain, preserve, spiritually guard, observe, to attend to carefully, to keep intact without variation. Jesus gave us a set of directions to follow. It is the ultimate recipe for success. Like any recipe, it requires that we include all the ingredients. How can we do that if we do not know what they are? “I don’t know what God expects of me.” We can answer that question with one simple sentence which comes from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ And ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Here are some examples of what else we can do

Psalm 119:11 11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Deuteronomy 6:6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

Psalm 119:165 165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Proverbs 8:13-17 1The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. 14 I have good advice and sound wisdom; I have insight, I have strength. 15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; 16 by me rulers rule, and nobles, all who govern rightly. 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

That’s God’s recipe, His Story is history! And that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Won’t y’all come and get stuck with me while Jesus reveals himself to us? That way we can be happy and filled with JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY DOWN IN OUR HEARTS and truly

We’ll all get together through this.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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.

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Aloha Friday Message – May 8, 2020 – Your Place or Mine?

2019AFC050820 – Your Place or Mine?

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.

     Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.

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.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s begin with a little story that circulates around the Internet from time to time. I think I’ll ask forgiveness for this one before you read it! Here we go:

In a particular small country, there was a king. He was much beloved of the people, and so they built for him a castle. But they were poor people and could only afford to build it out of grass. So they worked for weeks, and finally completed a lovely woven-grass castle for him. And the king was pleased.

Another country, significantly richer than the first, presented a peace offering of an ornate throne. The king accepted this gift graciously and was most pleased. The only trouble was, the throne was very uncomfortable. So the king got himself a more comfortable chair and stowed the massive throne in the attic. Naturally, it fell through the attic floor and killed him.

The moral of this story: People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.

Building a house is an essential part of being an earthling. We require a few very basic needs for survival – shelter, air, food and water, sleep, and safety in community. If we are deprived of any of these basic needs, our chances of survival are small to nil. Our ancestors in prehistoric times sought shelter in caves. Even there, in those primitive shelters, there were additions made that personalized the space used by an individual or group; rows of stones to mark off territory, hides or cuttings of brush for privacy, specific locations for excretory functions, and even decorations. We need a place that will be home – a place where we know safety and comfort.

Our homes are built of materials we have at hand and those materials are adapted to our use. For the king in the story above, grasses were the norm. For the cave-dwellers, eventually they built higher walls, deeper pits, safer rooms, and places for worship. Worship is part of a life lived in community. Individually we recognize that Life “has a life of its own;” there are things beyond our control. Together as community, we share our recognitions and find ways to interact with what we do not understand so it becomes less frightening. There is a place in our lives – and in our hearts – for Mystery, and we learned early on to make accommodation for that Mystery in our residential places.

Building houses of stone is one of the most permanent, and most demanding, forms of home-building. Done well, it lasts for centuries, even eons. Done poorly, the dwelling can end a life instead of protecting it. The permanence of stone depends on the kind of stone used and how well it is cut and dressed to fit together. We might look at Inca stone masonry (← Check it out!) as an example of incredible skill in working with stone. Today, however, we are going to reflect on a kind of stone that is at once rare but plentiful – Living Stone. You doubtless remember this familiar passage from the Psalms: Psalm 118:22 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  Jesus quoted this in Matthew 21:42, Peter quotes it again in Acts 4:11, and we’ve already looked at 1 Peter 2:4-5. What does this mean? It means we are “a chip off the old block.” The Building Block (↔ Music Link)

We see that Jesus is the Living Stone rejected by the builders. In Ephesians 2:17-20, Paul concludes we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. As Peter told us, 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 zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from zao {dzah’-o}. Zao is the verb “to live,” and zaonta 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, in, and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind! We are stone-upon-Stone. Stones thrown up are weapons for destruction. Stones laid down are tools for construction. We are stone like the Corner Stone – cut from the same quarry and shaped by the Master Builder. The Holy Temple we are part of is the House of the Living God built with Living Stone that has Life Everlasting. It’s a great place to stow thrones, because every occupant is Priest, Prophet, and King. These are the characteristics El Shaddai-Olam assigned to his Chosen People – they are HIS FAMILY – the House of God. As adopted members of HIS FAMILY, we, too, are Priest, Prophet, and King.

Jesus is certainly a Priest in that he served God above all others and has Perfect Access to God in his own right. (See Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:17)He made the ultimate offering to God for our sin – himself. He is a Prophet because everything he told us was from his Father. (See John 5:19 and John 12:48-49). Jesus is the King of kings; as God, he alone has the ultimate authority to rule the universe he created. He is leader, prime mover, law-giver, and judge.

As believers in the Christ of God, we have a Priestly access to God our Creator through the One Mediator (See 1 Timothy 2:5-6). We, too, can offer ourselves as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” (See Romans 12:1) We are called apart, sanctified by the Blood of the Lamb, to serve God in our service and example to others. (See Matthew 5:16) We are participants in that priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

As Prophets, we are graced with the opportunity to speak The Word of the Lord in our hearts and minds as well as in the hearts and minds of others – our families, communities, churches, and workplaces – through example and testimony. In Numbers 11:29, Moses scolds the Israelites, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” Later the prophet Joel speaks in God’s way and says, “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.” (See Joel 2:28-29) We are the recipients of that Spirit of the Living God. In the Spirit of Prophecy, we teach our children and each other as witnesses to “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (See John 14:6) The Old Testament word for prophet is nabiy’ {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. By and through Christ, we can teach what God inspires in us, and are truly Prophets. (See more here) But are we also Kings?

Are we given the responsibilities of leadership, judgment, rule-makers, and progenitors in our families and communities? Consider these passages:

Ephesians 2:4-7 , Acts 6:1-6, 2 Chronicles 19:6, Matthew 4:17, and especially these – Revelation 1:4-6 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:15-16 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. We are anointed – consecrated, sanctified, set aside – to serve God by serving others. How can we fulfill these three roles? What is it in us that makes these roles even remotely possible? The answer is indeed “set in stone.” Our Rock and our Refuge, our Shelter, Shade, Stronghold, Saviour, and Salvation – all these are aspects of The Living God of Mercy. And he has a place for us a Dwelling not built by human hands, but prepared for us before the foundation of time.

John 14:1-3 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. My place is His place, the place prepared for me. This World Is NOT my Home! (↔ Music Link) I am, you are, WE will always be Living Stones in the House of God, built upon the Corner Stone and laid on the foundation of Eternity. Is it your place, is it my place, is it our place? Yes, all of those, because it is His place – Home. I was born a long way from Home, but I’m on my way back, and I expect to meet Jesus on the way. I thank God that you are walking there with me, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people. Blesséd be God Forever.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-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.

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

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Pages Email Newsletter Categories Archives Connect