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

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

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

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

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

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

chick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love in Christ,

Chick

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 18, 2017 – What do you want to do?

1733AFC081817 – What do you want to do?

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!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We are already at the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s flying by so fast! With the hectic pace of our lives these days, it can be difficult to slow down and contemplate the Lord and his goodness. I’d like to do that with you today, so let’s look at a few gems from the Sunday readings.

Isaiah 56:1 1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

Isaiah 56:6-7 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

My heart is deeply grieving for the people who have suffered at the hands of violent men and women. From the murder of innocents around the world – infants through elderly – to the persecution of humans in the name of a god, and the destruction of property – from churches and arts to the very planet we live on – out of greed and arrogance … I mourn for those who endure this suffering as well as for those who cause it. This is not what God created us to be, and somewhere inside every violent person knows that. Our opening verse says “Maintain justice, and do what is right” and that is good advice for every earthling then, now, and always. Where we seem to get hung up is knowing what is right. Let’s look into that.

When our children were in grade school, we put up two banners on opposite walls in their room. On one side the banner read, What do you want to do? The banner on the other wall read, The right thing. It was an easy object lesson to use because when guidance and/or correction were necessary, we’d just point to the first banner. They learned to point to the second banner. That opened up the opportunity to decide on what the right thing would be. They were learning how to make those decisions. Regrettably, it appears that not everyone has had that kind of upbringing, and even those who may have learned that lesson have set it aside for whatever reason and chosen a different path. The do not know or do not remember – or do not choose to maintain justice; and yet they “justify” their violence by claiming to be “restoring justice.” The method they chose for that restoration is known in biblical terms as vengeance.” People who know how to do the right thing know that vengeance in human hands is always the wrong thing. It is not the way of Peace; it is the way of destruction. That is not God’s plan for any of us. We see a glimmer of his plan a little farther down the page in Isaiah.

Isaiah 56:6-7 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Just who are “all peoples” as described here? The Hebrew word used is hā-‘am-mîm {hayamim’}, and it carries the connotation of nations, groups of people, who share among themselves language and culture. One can also look at the word house here and see that it refers not only to a structure, a human abode or even a temple, but also a family as “of the house and lineage of David.” Along with many other verses that express this promise of God with regard to his plan for salvation, this verse characterizes God’s family (house) as widely diverse and wisely obedient – a house of prayer. As the news of the past few weeks has unfolded, I do not see a house of prayer for all peoples; I see houses of cursing from many peoples. This simply cannot be the right thing.

In Sunday’s responsorial Psalm, we will pray together: Psalm 67:1-3 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah  that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. If you watch the news, you may possibly agree that many of the things you saw certainly in no way praised the Lord. How, then, can those instigating and committing such violence – whatever their motivation – believe that they are doing the right thing? What is the right thing? Once again for the umpteenth time we return to Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? If you ask some of those demonstrating, they will tell you they are restoring justice because of the injustices done to them or to others with whom they “identify.” Unfortunately, with regard to this Scripture, they stop there. The rest of it is and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. There was very little kindness in many of the actions we have seen lately – although of course those acts of kindness, or humbly walking with God – are not often what gets broadcast. But one wonders, “How can so many people believe they are so right when they are truly so wrong?”

I think perhaps it is because we earthlings – generally speaking – have forgotten what the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. So many people these days – all around the world – go out of their way to curse, to violate, to denigrate, and to discriminate against everyone who doesn’t think like them. We ignore instructions such as those in 1 Peter 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 to have (as St. Peter puts it) unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. “Ah!” you say, “you forget, not everyone is Christian. Non-Christians will never accept that.” Actually, only the most evil persons cannot accept that. ALL major religions at their core preach and teach respect for each other and encourage peace as the preferred way of life. Hate is definitely a perversion of God’s intent for human nature. God wishes to bless everyone, even the unjust, and he does so in many ways. That is because God is infinitely Just which allows him to be infinitely Merciful. His mercy endures forever – for those who trust in his ways. For those who do not trust in his ways, his justice falls upon those who will not accept the Power of his Grace. That Grace has an amazing effect when we can do some very simple things such as these:

James 4:17 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

Hosea 10:12 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

There it is. “Do the right thing.” We “hunger and thirst for righteousness”  if we are doing the right thing. Rather than oppress others – violently or passively, personally or institutionally, willingly or ignorantly – we are to uplift and care for others; ALL others, not just the ones who share our personal proclivities for evil. How does one find a list, or an instruction, or some guidelines or boundaries to at least get started on such a mission of mercy and peace with our fellow earthlings? Virtually the whole Bible gives us that instruction, but there are a few passages like those here in this post that help clarify our To-Do list. Here’s one I find particularly clear; read the underlined part carefully: Isaiah 58:6-11 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. If I use that as my checklist, I still have a lot of work to do! I choose, therefore, to begin with blessings rather than curses, with understanding rather than resentment, and with the resolve to work even harder to do the right thing. I thank the Lord for his blessings on me (↔ Music Link) and counting them (↔ Music Link) is far better than worrying about what life would be like without them. There is something in the Book of Numbers that often comes to my mind. I have adapted it for use as my own personal blessing on some occasions. You’ll find it in Numbers 6:24-26, and it goes like this: 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. To that I add, “May Almighty God bless you, and I bless you, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” as I trace a cross on a person’s forehead. It’s a small thing, but it also is a right thing. Let’s take a moment to look at the “a” part of today’s verse for additional guidance:

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants — all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, (for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.) In my heart and mind, I find I must confess that it is difficult for me to accept that “all peoples” belong in the house – the family – of God. What I have often failed to realize is that it is not I who gets to make that decision; I am not the one to discern between us and them, this and that, you and me. God alone is our judge, and he always judges with fairness and rules with equity. If I truly want to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with … God, then I have to do the right thing. It’s what I want; it’s not always what I get; it is always what I need.

What about you, Belovéd? What do you want to do? Because, as he says in Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed, we have good things coming to us when we do the right thing.

Share-A-Prayer (continued)

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • AD – Working her way through breast-cancer recovery in a remarkably positive way despite the fatigue associated with treatments.
  • IDC – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (six down, about 10 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook, and looking beautiful.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; IVIG infusions (please no side effects), dental issues
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • RV – Advanced metastatic cancer. Recently admitted to ICU for septicemia. Now requiring frequent surgeries for debridement of leg infections
  • DP – Husband with advancing Alzheimer’s and she needs a broader support base for respite-time.
  • EP – Peripheral polyneuropathies which make mobility difficult and painful.
  • VLC – Needs to sell the house; facing foreclosure

 

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

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – August 11, 2017 – Stepping out

1732AFC081117 – Stepping Out

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!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at a famous story about Jesus and the Sea of Galilee. Here is the Key Verse for today:

Matthew 14:28 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

This is from the Gospel for Sunday, August 13. The Old Testament reading is from 1 Kings, and describes Elijah in a cave on Mount Horeb. He is waiting there for God to give him a task to perform: 1 Kings 19:11-15 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we have the account of Jesus walking across the water to a boat in which several of the Disciples were struggling as they tried to cross the water to another destination. There are three accounts of this event in the gospels.

Matthew 14:22-33 Early in the morning Jesus walks across the Sea of Galilee toward the Disciples. When they see him they are terrified because they think they see a ghost. Jesus tells them not to be afraid, “Look! It’s me!” Only in this Gospel do we have an account of Peter trying to walk out across the water to meet Jesus. In verse 29 we read, “So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.”

Mark 6:45-52 In this account, there is no mention of Peter trying to step out onto the water. Instead, Jesus calms the Disciples by stating “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” He steps into the boat, and immediately the winds stop. Their astonishment over the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes is intensified by this incomprehensible event.

John 6:16-21 In this account, the Apostle John states that the boat was about 3-4 miles from the shore, it was evening, and the wind was whipping up the Sea. They see Jesus walking toward them across the water and are terrified. As in the other gospels, Jesus comforts them by identifying himself. They are relieved to recognize him, and (using the New Living Translation (NLT)) in verse 21 – 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

Following this event, we have accounts of healings at the village of Genessaret. In the Gospel of Mark, this is the second account of Jesus calming the sea. In Mark 4:35-41 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This probably took place on the Sea of Galilee. That’s the largest freshwater lake in Israel – about 33 miles around – and is about 21 miles long and 13 miles wide. It is also the lowest freshwater lake on earth in that it is in some places over 700 feet below sea level. It is also referred to in scripture as the Kinneret (see Numbers 34:11), the Lake of Genessaret (Luke 5:1), the Sea of Ginosar (in the Babylonian Talmud), Sea of Minya (Persian and Arabic name). In the Gospels it is called Sea of Galilee, Sea of Tiberias, and Lake Tiberias (See John 6:1 for example).

We don’t know for sure the point of departure nor do we know what the destination was; however, you can see that it would be quite a trip given the size of the water they were crossing. In addition, the crossing would be at least partially at night as it was already evening when they left. The passage contains an interesting comment – they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. This signifies that he made no additional preparation for the journey. He was already in the little boat, so they just hauled anchor and left the crowd behind – although a few other boats did follow along. Jesus may have been sitting or perhaps even reclining a bit on the cushion in the stern as he taught. When he decided to leave, he stayed where he was and asked the owners or users of the boat to take him to the “other side” – perhaps Capernaum. The trip started out well enough, but soon there was trouble in the weather. A storm interrupted their journey.

Because of the surrounding geography, the Sea of Galilee is especially susceptible to storms. There are large temperature and humidity differences between the sea’s coast and the surrounding mountains some of which are up to 2000 feet above sea level. The cool, drier air in the heights collides with the moist, warm air at the level of the lake and generates a convection pressure which can generate terrific wind and rain – squalls – in a very short time. Everything can be A-OK one moment, and then in a jiffy a small craft out on the lake can be violently tossed about with a good chance of capsizing. The winds are compressed as they come through the valleys between the hills and when they break out across the surface of the water they can be surprisingly disorienting and very dangerous in mere moments.  The kinds of boats in use at that time were between 20 to 30 feet long and around 8 feet wide. Such small craft would be really dangerous in bad weather.

Given the ferocity of the wind and waves, we may find it remarkable that Peter attempted to walk across the water to Jesus. Let’s dissect that verse a bit:

  • Peter looks out across the water and speaks to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you.” Jesus has just told them, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter’s shaky faith is struggling with this mystery of Jesus doing the impossible. He’s willing to step out of the boat to go to Jesus if only Jesus will tell him it is permitted.
  • Jesus simply replies, “Come.”
  • As mentioned above, Peter does exit the boat and actually begins to walk across the water. But then he panics and begins to sink in the waves.
  • Immediately Jesus reaches out for him and pulls him to safety.
  • Jesus expresses disappointment in the strength of faith displayed.
  • The second that Jesus and Peter step into the boat, the wind stops. The disciples worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

When we think about this story, it is important to remember that Jesus took time to rest and pray after a full day of teaching – and feeding 5,000 people! As he retires to reflect and revitalize, he sends the Disciples forward to the next part of their mission, a destination across the Sea of Galilee. They were expecting him to meet them at that destination. Instead, he comes to them – in a storm – and miraculously walking across the billowing waves. As soon as the see him they are terribly frightened – terrified – because of course this is something they have never seen or even imagined before. Even though the weather was stormy, Jesus answered Peter’s request to go to where Jesus was. Peter – for whatever reason – stepped out of the boat and actually walked toward his Lord and Master. When his fear overcame his faith, he faltered and fell – as do we all – and immediately called out IN FAITH for Jesus to save him. In every part of this account, we learn about the Power, the Proximity, and the Permanence of God’s Providence in Christ Jesus.

Why did Peter step out of the boat? Did he expect he would be a participant in a miracle? Was he hoping Jesus would give him approval and praise? Did he imagine that a fisherman that could walk on water could corner the market? Did he just want to show his love for Jesus? Did he know that if Jesus permitted him, he could not only imitate Jesus but be just like him? We won’t know until we can ask Peter face-to-face, but it is good to know these things:

  • Sometimes it’s important to take the risk of getting out of the boat.
  • Even in a storm, we can count on Jesus to be an ever-present help nearby.
  • No matter how powerful the storm is, God IS ALWAYS STRONGER – and often quieter – than the storm or the damages that follow it.
  • Satan tries to use our lack of faith to weaken our strength to withstand the storm, but a Prayer Warrior knows to tell him, “I am the storm.”
  • Going through a storm not only changes you, it also confounds your enemies.
  • Sometimes God’s answers are as quiet as a whisper or even sheer silence, yet even in that, we can recognize his will.

If God is everywhere, then God is in the storm with you:

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Psalm 107:23-32, especially verse 28-30 – 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Step out in faith, and let The Master handle the storm. Keep your eyes on Jesus and, though the storm rages and at times even prevails, you will be at Peace in the arms of Him who says to you, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

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

Share-A-Prayer

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • IDC – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (about 10 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; pending surgery recovery
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • RV – Advanced metastatic cancer. Recently admitted to ICU for septicemia. Improving some, but friends and family are asking for a complete healing.

 

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

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

 

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – August 4, 2017 – Abundance Revisited

1731AFC080417 – Abundance Revisited

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Peace be with you! 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!

On Sunday August 6, 2017 we mark the celebration of the Transfiguration of The Lord. We covered that event earlier this year (Please see 1710AFC031017 – Belovéd – Second Friday of Lent), so today I will share with you something else. I encourage you to go read that message again as preparation for this Sunday. Thank you.

Today, instead, we will look at the “usual readings” for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. These include Isaiah 55:1-3, Psalm 145, Romans 8:35-39, and the Gospel is from Matthew 14:13-21 – the feeding of the 5,000. We begin with Isaiah’s description of The Abundant Life. He’s speaking to a Nation that is dead.

Isaiah 55:1-3 – The Abundant Life

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.

Dead men don’t tell tales. Dead men don’t die. Dead men don’t wear plaid. Dead men don’t tell Charlie Chan. Dead men don’t cry. Dead men don’t eat. And certainly, dead men don’t listen.

Isaiah is speaking to Israel in this passage. He is announcing that God is going to bless them with such abundance that that it can never be depleted. Not only that, but also the blessings of His abundance are so magnificent that no price can be set for them, but it does not matter because they have already been paid for by Someone else. These abundant blessings are far beyond our expectations. We answer the call of God hoping for the simplest things to sustain our lives – bread-and-water things – and instead He gives us rich and luxurious food and drink, wine and milk, honey and finest flour, the richest meats and the sweetest fruits. He says, “Take this. It is for you. It will answer all your wants and satisfy all your needs. Just listen to what I AM telling you. These are the Words of Abundant Life. If you believe, then you shall live. Come and eat and all of this will become part of you for you to enjoy with Me forever.”

Can you hear that? Israel did not hear it because Israel was dead – exiled to Babylon and cut off from the Promised Land. Israel was a captive nation, and they had no way to meet their needs, much less their wants. God said he would restore them to the Promised Land – and then some – and that instead of crossing a barren desert to get there – as they had done in the Exodus – this new exodus would be across a paradise where the mountains would be lowered and the valleys raised, the road traveled would be level, and instead of the barely-adequate water in the desert, their journey would be blessed with pools and streams of fresh, life-sustaining water … FOREVER! Nothing at all would be lacking because God was restoring the Land and restoring the People to the Land. He is calling them to begin this Journey, this New Exodus, by just saying “Yes, I’ll take that abundance.”

And what is this Abundance? What is this promise God is making? Is it all the material, physical, momentary, temporary, short-lived things we work so hard all our lives to acquire? Of course not! It is The Kingdom of God present in and through Christ Jesus. Christ and Heaven are ours without any indebtedness. We owe God nothing for this abundant Grace, this gift of absolute satisfaction and contentment that satisfies our hunger and quenches our thirst far, far beyond our expectations. It is the Rich Abundance of HIS Righteousness.

Those who are satisfied with what The World has to offer do not respond to this call from God. They neither hunger nor thirst for righteousness – virtues, morality, decency, honest; all these are commodities which could be used to buy worldly products, goods, services, and comforts. Instead, they accumulate that which is unrighteous and ultimately useless because “you can’t take it with you.” They have no expectation of anything greater than what they can possess. Even love itself becomes a possession that can be bought and sold, withheld, decorated, abused, and discarded. Everything is disposable. Only what-they-want-next has value. Everything they have has been bought with a price. And they fail to realize that they, too, have been bought with a price. Thus inclined, they reject God’s offer of abundance, joy, and everlasting happiness. They have what they think they need because they have taken what they want.

We know these people. Some of them are the agnostics, the atheists, the hypocrites, and the unfulfilled. They may do good deeds in their lives. Some may choose to be kind, generous, and even pious; yet these characteristics are part of their bartering system for the enhancement of their worldly prestige. Even so, we all tend to embrace, or to like, or merely to tolerate them. There are still others who are the criminals and depraved people who cause immense suffering out of greed and evil; the general public has a low tolerance for these individuals, especially when they make claims that their depravity is a service to their deity. Collectively, these are the earthlings who choose not to hear, and therefore not to answer, God’s call to the abundant life He promises. They hear only their own music, see only their own finery, taste only their own pleasures, touch only their own world, and smell only their own death.

God is calling me, calling you, calling many to the Table. The banquet is ready. The table is set. We have been invited to feast with our friends. If we are dissatisfied with The World’s pointless passion, let that disappointment cause us to listen intently to God’s invitation, and then take Him up on it. If the vanities of our lives are so mundane that we are given over to addiction, infidelity, or indifference; if our lives are filled with the pain of abandonment, the anxiety of confusion, or the pointless acquisition of emptiness; then we must answer the call. Why should we have to pay for it when it is more than we want, more than we need, and more that we can comprehend? Why work and work and work at filling our lives with The World when we can have that Abundant Everything which our God has promised – every single Blessing and Grace promised to Israel through King David – free?

That is F – R – E – E FREE!

And why does God call us to this eternal banquet? Check out the last sentence in our scripture today: I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David..

So, now you are telling me you’re already at the Banquet Table, everything’s fine, and you’re just on the verge of getting second-helpings? Excellent! One question though: Is that empty chair next to you for your neighbor? Not sure how to invite him/her? Maybe you can share what you heard in this message, or send them to aloha-friday.org. Share what you know, answer the call, take the invitation, and invite others. That which we are promised is not the abundance of worldly things that leave us unfulfilled. We are promised the Eternal Banquet of Righteousness and Love. That is why we open The Word and learn about what plans God has for us. (See Jeremiah 29:11!)

It is important that we learn – and share our learningwith others. Why? Someone has to tell them! You probably remember this one from the Apostle Paul: Romans 10:17 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. Christ IS The Word! Let the Word be heard! And who will speak the word? Those who believe, of course. Knowing and believing in Jesus is not just a Sunday School lesson; it is the way to eternal life which is only available through and in Jesus. I’ll bet you know what’s coming next!

John 3:16-21 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Belovéd, come to the Light and share in the Feast. Come to the Table of Plenty (↔ Music Link). God will provide for all that you need. Do not let that old liar and thief break in and steal your Joy! Come to the Table and live The Abundant Life. God promised it to David, and God’s intention is that we – you and me and all we invite – will get everything promised to David, to Israel, and to those who love The LORD. Remember this:

John 10:10 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

It is ours for the taking, and we will not be denied if we just answer, just accept, just fall back into the arms of Jesus and say, “Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.” (See Mark 9:22b-24) And if we accept that invitation – either directly from God or from our neighbor or loved one – then we cannot be separated from that abundant life promised by God through Jesus, the Christ of God:

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When do we answer the invitation? As soon as we hear it! (In other words we answer NOW!) Please take a quick look at Isaiah 55:6-8. I’m inviting you to come with me. Let’s do this – together!

 

Image result for heavenly banquet

 

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 28, 2017 – What Do You Think?

1730AFC072617 – Think about 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!

Romans 8:28 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

There is also this interpretation of Romans 8:28 in J.B. Phillips New Testament: Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.

¡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!) What you think about this passage? Is it one with which you are familiar? Have you heard it somewhere before? Have you ever pondered what it all means? Me too. Here’s why.

One of the most wonderful things about living a Christian life is that it is a life based on Hope. We are given the assurance of eternal life with God when we become believers. Sometimes that’s hard to believe because it seems so intangible. Not only is it difficult to imagine living forever, but also it is difficult to imagine living without worry, or pain, or fear, or (best of all) without sin. I think that last bit is the part I most look forward to when I contemplate eternal life. Somewhere in me there is a hope which cannot be extinguished, a hope that says, “You know it’s true, somehow, that God loves you enough to create you in his image and that includes everlasting life.” We’ve commented many times in the recent past about the absolute fact that every human soul is predestined for eternal life – all of us are going to live forever, because that is what God has ordained in his wisdom and through his creative power. Where we spend eternity is something we really need to think about. If you’re going to live forever, which of the two possible choices do you prefer? Here’s the thing: You get to choose.

There are some pretty clear guidelines about making that choice. In today’s passage it says all things work together for good for those who love God. That sounds great, doesn’t it? I love God, so I’m all set, right? But what do we do when things are not working together for good? Among the people reading this today are folks who are desperately ill, or in a deep financial crisis. Perhaps there are others who seem to be “doing OK,” but their marriage is falling apart, or their addictions are tearing apart everything they love. There may be others who work night and day to support their family, but they just never catch a break. Is this what the Apostle Paul means by saying all things work together for good? If you’re going through those kinds of trials, you’re probably feeling miserable, and overwhelmed by what God seems to expect of you. Why does he keep calling you to do that which is not only painful but also seemingly impossible? If you love him, shouldn’t things be good? Here’s another Golden Oldie to partially answer that question:

With God, it’s always good in the end. If it isn’t good yet, it isn’t the end yet.

We wait as patiently as we can; we try hard not only to persevere but also to prevail; we live our lives as humble servants; and still the suffering never ends. Sometimes we ask God, “Why isn’t my love good enough for you? I love you as much as I can, but I’m still down in this muck trying to find whatever you think is good about it. What gives with that? What is the purpose of all this?” Ah. Purpose. That must be important. It is tied to things working together for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. Now, some of us might say, “Oh, dear, what are we going to do about that? There’s a purpose for all this misery? And what does it mean to be among those who are called? That sounds suspiciously like predestination to me!” That’s certainly something to think about, isn’t it? How do we deal with the idea of “predestination?” It’s an important question because the term appears in at least four passages of Scripture: Acts 4:23-28, Romans 8:28-30, 1 Corinthians 2:7, and Ephesians 1:3-12. (You really should click on those and see what they say. Many Christians – and non-Christians, too – just ignore those passages; that’s not a wise thing to do. Just read’em.) Now, I’m not going to set aside millennia of theology by saying, “That’s not important.” Of course it’s important because we know that God planned everything and that his plans always work better than our plans because our plans are imperfect and his are not. Here are a couple of easy examples.

From the instant God spoke the first “Let there be” command, God had a plan for salvation; that plan is still working. You and I are part of that plan. Everything that goes on in the universe was and is and will be something planned by and for God. Salvation has to be part of the plan because the potential for sin was also part of the plan. Once that potential became a reality, the rest of the plan fell into place. Now you might ask, “So if God knew Adam would sin, why didn’t he just stop him?” Well, you know the answer, right? Without the necessity for salvation, you wouldn’t be here and neither would I. The deeper question is, “Why did God allow sin? Here comes that other mysterious doctrine: Free Will. God’s not going to force you to love him. He predestined you to love him by creating you in his image; but he allows you not to love him. Oh, no; now someone is thinking, “God must think I don’t love him well enough to make my life good.” Well, that’s not quite right, either.

When we think about what we mean when we say, “life is good,” we think it means we’ve got it made. Everything’s going to work out OK, so don’t worry about it. It’s all God’s will. Don’t worry, be happy. Again, that’s not the way it works, and it’s not really what is meant by “works together for good.”

If you clicked on those links I asked you to read, you will recognize this passage from Romans 8:28-30: 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. The GOOD is being conformed to the image of his Son – it is to be like Jesus, to be with Jesus, to be eternally alive for Jesus and that “eternally” began the moment we were conceived in the womb. He chose us to be like him. (And take note here that Paul used past tense to describe future glory. He’s saying “It’s as good as done!” We only must choose to be conformed to Jesus’ image.) Too often too many of us choose to be unlike him! I have to admit, my life is often uncomfortable, and I make others around me miserable by grumbling, moaning, and groaning about it; but my life is nowhere near as difficult as billions of others in this world. On a scale from 1 to 10, my present “suffering” is in the .000x range. However, my future is good because day by day I choose to be conformed to the image of his Son. And you are correct in pointing out that I’m not all that hot at that job either. I’m still a sinner, but I’m a redeemed sinner. I want to take a quick look at an excerpt from the Gospel for 7/30/17:

Matthew 13:47-50 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It’s going to happen like that. I heard the Gospel call, and I answered. (I hope you will let me share with you again how that came about by reading Aloha Friday Message – August 12, 2011 – Would you get that call, please?) Your life, my life, our lives, the lives of the people all around the world who are suffering horrendous persecution, war, and all manner of evil – all of us can choose to be conformed to the image of his Son, and that is how everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. It is not the “good” the World expects.

The World is not conformed to the image of Christ. Consider this nugget from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual* do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. *The unchanged man without the Spirit – “natural” man, the sensuous human nature with its subjection to appetite and passion.

The gift of God’s love is constantly set before us, constantly available to us, constantly available for us to reclaim even after we have spurned it. The call to receive the gift is unending and cannot be denied because the gift is unending. If you look at that message from 2011, you’ll see this verse: Romans 11:29 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. That means the calling and the gifts are final, unalterable, permanent, set in stone …unless of course we decide not to answer the Call or not to accept the Gift. Here is the ending of that post from 2011:

However, if you heard the call and accepted the gifts, you are happy with your life because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB) And what is his purpose? Beloved, it is simply to be able to spend all eternity with you, one of his all-time favorite bits of creation, so that your Joy will be complete.

Now, isn’t that good? His purpose, the one to which you are called, is for HIM to enjoy your presence while you enjoy his, together, always and all ways. Think about it. While you do that, I strongly recommend you read 2 Peter 2. Click that link and think about it even more.

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

Share-A-Prayer

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • ICD – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (about 12 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; pending surgery recovery
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • JMR – A summertime of one illness and discomfort after another. Getting ready to go back to school and to work and needs to be back in top form AQAHP.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 21, 2017 – Lord of the Harvest

1729AFC072117 – Lord of the Harvest

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!

Matthew 13:24-30 24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This message is an amalgam of some previously-shared thoughts. This coming Sunday will be a continuation of the exploration of the parables in the Gospel of Matthew. We will again look to the parables to help us clarify our Mission as Disciples. One of the most interesting parables in the passage in Matthew 13 is the parable of the wheat and the weeds. You may have learned the title of that story as “The Wheat and the Tares.” Let’s begin with some background on that word, tares.

I am thinking first about homonyms – words that sound alike but have different meaning and/or spellings. Specifically I am thinking of the word TEAR as in tear it up. When I was listening for Sunday’s Healing Word, the word I got was “TEAR.” I was about to write that down when I thought, “That same word could also be pronounced tear, as in tear-duct. However, if you think of the first pronunciation, that might sound the same but could be spelled TARE as in “tare weight.” Ahhh… But a TARE is also a noxious weed mentioned in one of Jesus’ parables. Today’s Key Passage is that parable. Now, I want to briefly look at each of the homonyms in this group (if you think of another one, send it to me?)

Tear: Separate into parts by physical force; rip, rend, cleave. When we tear something, it is usually a forceful situation and usually opposing forces are pulling at something in the middle. We feel torn by opposing emotions. We tear into our work with fervor. We tear along the Interstate like a bat out of Hades. We tear off strips of cloth to make bandages. We tear a screaming child from the arms of an abusive parent.

Tear: My eyes tear when I think of you. She cried silent tears of joy. There’s a tear running down your cheek. Tears wash away our sorrow. Tears are shed for joy, for laughter, for sorrow, for irritation (smoke and pollen for example). Tears are usually voluntary, but some people learn to tear (cry) on cue. Sometimes even kids can do that. We cry when we are overcome with just about any emotion – joy, anger, embarrassment, frustration, pride, pleasure, even physical or mental pain. Tears remind us of the ocean because they are salt-water. Sometimes it seems our life begins and ends in tears.

Tare: The weight of the container used to weigh something. The Tare is usually subtracted from the Gross (total) Weight to get the Net (remaining) Weight. A box of crackers may contain 28.6 ounces Net Weight, but the gross weight of the package is 32 ounces which means the tare weight is 3.4 ounces. A tare is what is deducted or rejected, not used, discarded, not sold as part of the product, it’s just the package the product comes in; tare is often “built in” for weighing devices, or subtracted by setting the balance to zero while a weighing-vessel is on the balance before the item(s) to be weighed are added. The tare is not the item, nor is it the capacity or amount of the item.

W&T-Compare_SmTare: In Jesus’ day the TARE was a plant that looked very much like wheat when it started growing, but when the time came around for harvest, the tare, also called darnel, a type of rye grass, not only looked different from the wheat, but also was poisonous rather than nutritious. Back in that time, an enemy might sow tare seeds in a neighbor’s wheat field as a kind of economic sabotage. The unlucky neighbor would not know this until the plants started to mature. Darnel parasitizes wheat fields, and deprives the wheat of vital nutrients in the soil – it is a weed, and that is how it is translated in many bible translations. The Greek for this is  ζιζάνια (zizania) {dziz-an’-ee-on}. It is a plant that grows in Palestine and Eurasia. It resembles wheat in many ways but is worthless. It cannot be used for food because it is poisonous. It is named as Lolium temulentum (also often referred to as darnel, poison darnel, darnel ryegrass, or cockle), is an annual plant (it must be sown every year). It strongly resembles wheat in the early growing stages but soon can be distinguished by is rougher appearance and darker grain head – often black instead of gold or brown.

Many a sermon has been preached about Jesus’ parable, but I don’t want to detract from any of those in my little essay. I thought a bit, though, about how all of these homonyms describe how things in our lives become tears, tears, tares, and tares. Ready? Here we go!

We shed tears sometimes when events tear our life apart. In those trials we may discover that the tare in our judgment, our practices for weighing good and evil, has been misrepresented in the balance of things in much the same was as tares are misrepresentations of the intended crop of wheat. Sometimes we take things into our lives that look like they are good, nurturing, or will be healthy for us only to find that those things grow like weeds and choke the life out of us. Addictions are an example of those kinds of tares. Sometimes, though, the bad things that happen in our lives are not from things we do, but rather are things done to us. When this is done intentionally, it is usually the work of an enemy. When done unintentionally, it is often the work of ignorance or malicious behavior.

Jesus was making the point that the enemy, the Accuser, was the one who sowed seeds of dissension, anguish, poison, and death into the potentially fruitful fields of our lives. When those things first enter our lives, they can go unnoticed until they begin to differentiate from the good things in our lives. By then, it can be hard to uproot them because so many other things get uprooted with them. We all know it’s usually best to weed the garden, or the wheat field, as soon as you spot the weeds. But there are situations where you have to wait until what’s good is strong enough to tolerate the trauma of separation from what’s bad. Addicts can’t quit their addition until they are strong enough to turn away from it. As with the wheat field, where it takes skill and trained workers to gently unravel the weeds from the wheat, so also with our lives. Sometimes it takes an expert counselor, or a pastor, a loved one, or a close friend to help us tell the good stuff from the bad stuff and get the bad stuff out of the way of the good stuff.

Parents are familiar with this process. The number of bad influences that assault our children is growing at an alarming rate, and parents are hard pressed to head off disaster when those influences tip the scales of our child’s judgment by upping the tare weight in their lives. Kids pick up habits and ideas that, in later years, can poison their thinking and choke out the good stuff parents have been carefully planting all through childhood.

Even as adults, we sometimes hoard things that are actually not good for us and should be discarded. Then, when we need to weigh the difference between good choices and bad choices, our weighing system is all out of whack. When these things happen to us as children or adults, we have to find ways to tare (discard) them out of our lives without destroying everything else. We need to cleave the soil in which our lives are nourished and take the bad stuff out by the roots and leave the good stuff better-rooted. Often those are some really difficult decisions, and we struggle with them – often on our own – hoping that we can figure it out.

But if you look back at the Parable of the Tares, there is a huge clue about how to do that with optimal success. Take the problem to the Lord of the Harvest. He has the plan for defeating the enemy! Let the wheat and tares grow until the wheat is ready for harvest, ripe enough and strong enough to withstand the weeding process. At the harvest, the wheat will be brown and the heads of the stalks will be bowed over because of the weight of their fruits. The tares will stand up straight and black, a smaller yield per stalk than the wheat, but deadly even in small amounts.

So, Beloved, if you are shedding tears because of the tares in your life, empty your life to the tare weight, and tear away the disguises of the enemy so that your life will be fruitful 30-, 60-, and even 100-fold. Go to the Lord of the Harvest and divest yourself of the weeds that are choking out your life. Never be afraid to ask the Lord’s helpers to assist you in finding and carefully uprooting those weeds, but also make sure they are good and faithful servants who are not working for the Enemy. The accuser sows weeds, but he doesn’t do it all by himself. He has many, many helpers. The Lord of the Harvest also has many, many helpers, and He will direct them to spare the good and gather up the bad to be cast away and burned. Everything that we do plants a seed and as we are told in Scripture, we reap what we sow.

The seeds that are planted have to go through two ground-breaking events before their potential for new life can begin. After that there are a lot of changes that happen before we finally see the outcome of that process: The fruit of those labors. Sometimes the seeds that are sown in our interior lives are seeds we ourselves plant. Sometimes there are seeds planted that come from others. Sometimes the fruits of those plantings are good; sometimes they’re not. (Recall last week’s lesson on The Parable of The Sower.)

Sowing the seeds of weeds is something most of us would not do intentionally, or would we? When we knowingly use seed that is known to produce useless or even dangerous fruit, we’re sowing weeds. The Apostle Paul had some stark warnings about being weeds in the Lord’s garden. In Ephesians 5:6-9, he warns us to stay away from people who corrupt those around them through temptations to sin. He says, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Now this applies to those outside the Church as well and those inside.

When I think of my own sowing and reaping, I can easily remember the weeds I have cultivated over the years. The time and care I spent on ensuring their survival detracted from the nurturing I should have been giving to other plantings. What really alarms me though, is that I recall having been enthusiastically careless about sowing “the tares among the wheat” not only in my own life, but in the lives of others as well. If that has been the case in your life, and it may well be, I hope you have, or will, forgive me. The Lord has a plan for us, and I trust him way more than I trust me.

Belovéd, let us remember to go to The Lord of the Harvest when we find unproductive things in our lives. Whether it be the poison of sin, the ravages of disease, or the darkness of indifference, Jesus has the answer. There’s a good way to hear that answer shown to us in Isaiah 30:21 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” The Lord will straighten our path and purify our harvest. Blessed be the name of the LORD!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – July 4, 2017 – True Bread

1728AFC071417 – True Bread

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

Matthew 13:18-23 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 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.”

(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.)

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

That’s usually how we think about it, yes? And we want to be the “good soil” that has the highest yield. 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 as 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 hope 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 week 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 if 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. It most circumstances, the purpose of the whole process is to provide seed to the sower and bread to the eater.

Bread. It’s one of the most ancient, most basic, most common foods in the world. Bread in some form or another has been part of life for longer than history. Here are a couple of examples.

The one on the left is recognized as one of the most popular and successful manufactured products ever. The one on the right is homemade hearth bread. Most of us have eaten both kinds, and most of us would prefer the sweeter, richer, more substantial hearth bread. Both came from grain sown by the sower, grown by the farmer, milled by the miller, and baked by the baker. In the case of one, it was all commercially produced. In the case of the other, it could have been all personally produced where the eater was also the sower, the farmer, the miller, and the baker. It is still bread, but in one product it is impersonally provided, but not so in the other. It doesn’t take much of my effort to buy one product, or the other for that matter; but if I did all of that myself, I believe I would be happiest with the hearth bread because – as God told Adam – By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread (See Genesis 3:19) We are more like our ancestors when we are “Tilling the Soil.” (Try check that link, brah.)

The Seed is the Word of God and Christ is the sower. 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. 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.

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

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

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

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – July 7, 2017 – Where’s that Jesus Freak?

1727AFC070717 – That Jesus Freak – AGAIN

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!

Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

¡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!) Jump aboard today for one of those cascade-memory trips that started with a simple phrase. Last Sunday Fr. Anthony said, “Don’t be afraid to be called ‘The Church Lady.’ Or ‘The Bible Guy'” Well, of course many of us older folks immediately thought of Dana Carvey’s character, Enid Strict, on Saturday Night Live. Perhaps some of you will remember her sarcastic, sanctimonious satire of “holier-than-thou” Christians and the catchphrases, “Well, isn’t that SPE-CIAL?!”, “How con-VEEN-ient!”, and “Could it be…SATAN?” Enid was tough on “Sunday-goin’-to-meeting-Christians.”

Of course Enid Strict was mocking the people Carvey grew up with in his home church. Fr. Anthony was telling us we shouldn’t be afraid of the way people label us because of our faith. “The Bible Guy” is an Assembly of God preacher living in Iola, Kansas. His books and blog present detailed, well-reasoned messages on Biblical truths. In today’s world, Enid is touted for making fun of Christians, and The Bible Guy (and there are several who claim that title on the Internet) Tom Spencer advertises as “a trusted voice in a fragile world.” The PC world considers Tom and people like him (me for instance) to be crackpots. Bottom line, we need not be afraid of that label “Christian.” The World considers us to be foolish for that and readily rallies to mock us. That mockery is a stumbling block to many because it just seems like too much to endure. “Why should I wreck my life and my friendships just to follow Jesus? I don’t see any point in that at all.”

Here’s the point, expressed plainly for us by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:21-25 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. The fool is not the one who follows Jesus; the fool is the one who does not follow Jesus. “But it’s so HARD!” Jesus himself told us many, many times that we would be persecuted because of him. (See John 15:20, Mark 10:29-30, and 2 Timothy 3:12)  In all honesty I have to tell you, it is far less traumatic to be subject to Jesus than to be subject to The World. In The World the only hope available is inside you, and Belovéd, there is precious little of that. But in Jesus there is an eternal infinity of hope, and that is a huge difference when it comes to dealing with the burdens of life. Here’s a memory verse from days gone by:

Psalm 55:22 22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. In this passage the word burden is יְהָבְךָ֮ (yə-hā-ḇə-ḵā) from יְהָב (yehab) { ye-hawb’} and it means basically “what is allotted to you.” Your “burden” is the stuff that happens – the consequences of your decisions – and God loves you so much, he has personally promised to help you carry it. Yes, God, your Creator, carries for you the weight of your choices (especially the poorer choices). This is why Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This comes as part of a discourse about the difficult rules laid upon the Jews by “The Church and Bible Guys,” the hyper-religious despots whose self-righteous judgments made life miserable. They constantly pointed out the failures of others to live up to the Law while conveniently forgetting their own failures. Jesus nailed them on that over and over. The “yoke” the high-and-mighty placed on the populace was arduous to bear, but Jesus’ yoke – his requirements for being righteous – were genuinely easy. Instead of the Rule of Law, Jesus preached the Law of Love. We are preprogrammed to help the ones we love. And why is that? Because that is how God created us – in his own image of Love. That’s how and why we know he is just so eager to help us. Check this out:

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Psalm 68:19 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah

How can it be foolish to love and depend on The Creator, the one who made me, made you, made us? Depending on God cannot be foolish, but whoever cannot accept the Cross cannot obtain the Crown. Think about this message found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? And where is it written that God will confound the Worldly? Paul is quoting Isaiah 29:13-14 The Lord said: “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote; 14 so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.”

God’s wisdom is wiser than any in the world, and God’s burden is lighter than any other because HE’S THERE TO HELP YOU CARRY IT. I’ve already said we are willing to help those whom we love, but you also know we are often willing to help those we don’t even know because we act out of Love. The people around you notice that. Some of them mock you for it (you don’t need their approval). Love them anyway. Some of them praise you for it (you don’t need their praise). Love them anyway. In many places in the world, people will kill you for it (they perceive you as utterly irredeemable). Love them anyway. The burdens of Love are far easier to bear than the burdens of worldliness because the burdens of Love come from Jesus, and he shows us and tells how to find his help. What does he say?

He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Christ’s yoke is easy because it is the way we are joined to him through Grace. Everything he does for us, he does so that we can be closer to him and better prepared for The New Jerusalem. That’s my destination, and I am eager to get there, especially if you will come with me! I’d like nothing better. It’s a fascinating journey this old fool’s been on for over 70 years. And part of that time, I was referred to as “The Jesus Freak.” Some thought it was mockery, other meant it as praise, but everyone knew it was the essence of my life. That was back in the late 60’s, and my life then was … bizarre, but not out of the ordinary. Long hair, funky clothes, strange lyrics, and stranger consumptions were part of that lifestyle. Nonetheless, I was a Jesus Freak. Perhaps some of the folks who knew me back then have tried to guess in the ensuing years, “Whatever happened to that Jesus Freak, you know, what’s-his-name, the Bible Guy?” He’s still here, Brothers and sisters, and he’s still just happy as can be because – in most cases – I have good reason to stay like that. Take this quote, for example from, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. Why worry about any other judgment that Jesus’ judgment? Basically it comes down to this:

Throw away the burdens of anxiety and fear1 Peter 5:7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. And Move forward in the shelter of his protection 1 Corinthians 15:58 58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

It seems to me that, quite simply, I just have to trust Jesus to take care of the stuff I have to deal with, but I can’t expect him to take care of the stuff I don’t hand over. That stuff I need to dump off – it’s all my fault, that’s for sure. It doesn’t seem fair that anyone else should have to deal with it, but Jesus says he’ll be able to handle whatever I throw His way; he will share my burden and make it light. Sometimes I think we act as if we believe we cannot, or should not, be forgiven. We think perhaps God is going to say…

 Now, that’s crazy, I know, but sinners do crazy things. We’ll hold onto the very worst things in and about our lives as if God didn’t know they were there. (AS IF!) And even if we ask God to help us with laying that burden down, when we ask for the graces we need to be righteous, we sometimes don’t trust the answer he gives us. He says to trust him, to learn from him, to be like him – gentle and humble in heart – and cast our burden on the Lord. Don’t let people put you down about your “burden of faith.” Put your burden down and share that faith. If anyone wants to know why, tell them some Jesus Freak said it was a good idea.

For more information on a YOKE see “The Yoke’s on You” and “Wearied on Aloha Friday.”

Share-a-Prayer:

AD, BREAST CANCER (GETTING BETTER)
AL, PETTY CRIMES ~ BIG TROUBLE
BC, ABDOMINAL ILLNESS
MC, NEED PRAYERS TO FIND Jesus
DP, HUSBAND WITH ALZHEIMER’S
EC, REPEATED FALLS WITH CHRONIC LEG PROBLEMS
FO, MULTIPLE STROKES
ICD, BREAST CANCER AND CHEMO
KT, RECOVERY FROM BROKEN BACK
KL, BLESSINGS FOR SERVICE TO OTHERS
KW, REPEATED INJURIES TO SPINE AND HIPS
RB, CHRONIC ILLNESSES; PENDING SURGERY
RB, (NOT RELATED) RECOVERY FROM CHRONIC DOMESTIC ABUSE
TO, PREPARATIONS FOR A HUGE LIFESTYLE CHANGE
ALL CANCER PATIENTS AND ALL CANCER SURVIVORS
AND THEIR FAMILIES

SEND US YOUR PRAYER REQUESTS

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

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 30, 2017 – Let’s make a tent!

1726AFC063017 – Let’s make a tent!

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!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It’s already Friday again, and the Spirit is a movin’! I’m going to start of with a photo just to get you thinking about what I want to cover, so here it is. I hope you will look at it and smile.

Come to my tent:

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

John 13:20 20 Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

Mark 9:37 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

The blanket tent in the living room! Did you do something like that when you were a kid? We take blankets and sheets and pillows and drape them over couches and chairs and maybe an ironing board and that was our tent, our fort, our “this-is-mine” place. Sometimes we had siblings in there, sometimes even parents, often other kids played with us there. It was serious business, making a tent. Building shelter is intuitive; everybody wants to do it. These little tents were our safe-zone; we could be hidden there and read comics, or tell stories, or just giggle like crazy. Tents are such basic shelters that it just seems natural to have them. Tents are mentioned often in the Bible.

The first time we hear about a tent is in Genesis 4:20 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. The next mention, strangely, is in connection with Noah. It’s in Genesis 9:20-21 20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. Later we hear about Abram moving near Bethel (Genesis 12:8). In Exodus 25 Exodus 26, we have the plans for building the Tabernacle (there is an image there), a very large tent in the middle of a city of tents as Israel was in the desert. There are other places where tents are mentioned as well as instructions for certain objects used in tents, but only once do we find the word tentmakers. It’s in Acts 18:2-3 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. Paul often spoke about how he worked hard to provide for himself and yet still teach and preach the Gospel. He had a full-time job as a tentmaker and a full-time job as an evangelist. That’s one way to get into “Full-Time Christian Service.” (Please take a look here to see what that means to me.) There are, of course, many ways to do that, so let’s take a look at some other approaches.

When we think of Full-Time Christian Service, we usually think of someone who stays in one place and teaches about Jesus – someone like a Pastor at a church. For Catholics, this usually means a celibate male assigned to a Parish. For non-Catholics, that usually means a man – with or without his family – who accepts a call to pastor a faith community; is some denominations it may also be a woman who is a pastor. We frequently see that they are (mostly) full-time servants, although some congregations are so small that the pastor has to have a secular job to support her/his religious vocation. That kind of situation is not uncommon among catholic religious and clergy. There are Priests and Religious who are historians, archeologists, scientists, teachers, and just about any other professional discipline you can think of. They make their living by using the knowledge, skills, and abilities with which God has blessed them, but their Vocation is to serve God by serving his people. This differs in many was from the itinerant preacher.

Paul was in some ways an itinerant preacher in that he moved from community to community sharing the Gospel and building the Church, but he did stay in some place for years at a time. When we think of itinerant preachers, we think of – you guessed it – tent meetings. These are the folks who go out, set up a tent, put up a big sign that says “REVIVAL!” and then preach with great vigor, compassion, and love. They make their living by going from place to place and depending on God to provide for them through the generosity of the people they meet in their “tents.” They’re not always in tents, of course. They often got to a number of churches in a certain area and present “Missions,” or “Revivals,” or other structured teaching sessions. Most are ordained, but there are a few folks in the business that are lay missionaries. My fellow-laborer in the Spirit – Brendan Case – is one such itinerant missionary. Local pastors and itinerant preachers are easily thought of as persons in Full-Time Christian Service. But they need a structure to rely on. They need a “home church.”

For me, my home-church roots go back to Corona Presbyterian Church at 8th and Downing in Denver, Colorado. It was our family home church because that’s where my parents settled shortly after they were married. My dad was not a Christian when he married my mom, but through the wonderful friendships and Bible-based pastoral guidance available there, he became deeply committed to Christ for the rest of his life. This is the kind of home-based Christian teaching which actually makes up the majority of Christian teaching. It’s moms and dads teaching their kids about Jesus. It the Altar Society, or the Women’s Circle, or the Ambassadors for Christ Christian Business Men’s meetings. It’s the day-to-day way we live out the Great Commission by being ourselves. There’s a group I learned about in the early 80’s that I’d like to mention here, because what they do is what prompted this whole idea of making a tent. They are called Tentmakers. On their website, they state, “A Tentmaker is a dedicated, spiritually mature Christian man or woman who views work in light of the Great Commission and as an opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God.” They provide a very wide variety of training programs from Christians who want to make a difference in the world, but are not drawn to be a pastor or itinerant preacher. They just want to work and witness. There is a popular movement in the American Catholic Church called Intentional Discipleship based on the books by Sherry A. Weddel (See this article for more information.) the Tentmakers are Intentional Disciples. Some people would say, “They’ve got a real job that supports their vocation.” They enter the workplace with the intention of spreading the Gospel.

All of us who are believers have that commission, that command from Jesus to “go unto all nations,” but … well, we don’t follow through. From the Tentmaker website again, “Therefore, the difference between a believer who simply lives and works [ … ] and a Tentmaker is the intent and desire to spread the Gospel and make disciples.”I invite you to check them out. There may be something there that appeals to you whatever your “religious persuasion” might be. At least take a look at this page.

So why do I want us to make a tent? Well, if our memories are sharp enough to remember how that’s done, it’s fun!! It’s a great way to get together and just share life. We want to welcome people “into our tent” because that’s where fellowship – κοινωνία (koinónia) {koy-nohn-ee’-ah} happens among peers. Koinonia is Christian fellowship. It is the Greek word that means Communion (as in the Eucharistic prayers). We see so many models of being together for the Love of God in all of Scripture. We love Jesus. Why, then, is it so tough for many of us to talk about him? Why can’t he be part of everything we do together with others? Last week we talked about being a witness. It’s what we are – witnesses to Christ’s saving Grace. “I’m just not built for that sort of thing. It’s not my gift.” OK, I’ll buy that. The Apostle Paul told us in 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.

What, exactly, is “to the measure of the full stature of Christ”? It means that all Christians are working to build up the fullness of the Church on Earth – we are all fulfilling the work God has given us to do so that the Gospel is preached to all nations and peoples (See Mark 13:10) Not a missionary? Be a tentmaker. Not a pastor? Build a tent. Need something to do? Age quod agis – Do What You Are Doing (my personal motto). Work like your Boss is Jesus.

Colossians 3:23-24 23 Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24 since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. Live and work in the Love and Joy of Christ. Ephesians 6:7-8 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. Now, of course if your Vocation is to serve men and women – whether they are of Christ or not – then you work for them as you would for the Lord. Work to please God, not people, and you work will be greatly blessed.

God created us in his image so that our lives would be testimony to his Glory and Grace. Welcome everyone into your “tent” so that whatever you do and wherever you are, God goes with you. We have everything we need to get the job done. See 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.

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

Share-A-Prayer – continue Tuesday’s prayers. Please add another RB – the second on our list – who is working hard to recover from a long-term abusive relationship that was utterly devoid of compassion, faith, or religion of any kind. Thank you.

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

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 23, 2017 – What do you say?

1725AFC062317 – What do you say?

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We have a difficult topic today, so without further ado, let’s go for it.

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.

Mark 8:34-38 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 9:23-26 23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

2 Timothy 2:11-14 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

For those of us on Facebook, this is a passage we see often. “Jesus said ‘If you deny me before others, I will deny you before my Father in Heaven.’ If you love Jesus and confess him, type ‘AMEN’ and repost.” That type of “challenge” is tiring. We end up just putting a lot of SPAM on the Internet, and there’s already plenty enough of that for the whole world. It’s usually presented as a challenge along the lines of “If you’re not ashamed of being a Christian, post this and prove it.” And YADA-YADA-YADA. I sometimes think people who use that kind of challenge are playing the old “One-up-by-one-down.” I prove my superiority by putting down others. A similar game from Dr. Eric Bern’s book Games People Play is “If it weren’t for you.” Everything bad that’s happening to me is your fault. I’m going to try to avoid sounding like that because if I do sound like that, then the whole point of this goes down the drain. I want to look at the idea of acknowledge (confess, accept), and deny (contradict, refuse).

We will use the Greek words here again so that the differences can be clarified:

Confess – ὁμολογήσει (homologēsei) from ὁμολογέω (homologeó) {hom-ol-og-eh’-o} I confess, profess, acknowledge, praise properly, to voice the same conclusion, i.e. agree (“confess“); to profess (confess) because we are in full agreement; to align with (endorse); from Greek homologos ~ of one mind) (homologous for example).

Deny – ἀρνήσομαι (arnēsomai) from ἀρνέομαι (arneomai) { ar-neh’-om-ahee} properly, deny (refuse); hence, contradict, refuse to affirm or to confess (identify with); disown (repudiate) to deny, say no to.

Jesus is exceptionally clear about how Disciples are supposed to align themselves with him. We are to testify. We know from previous lessons that the words “witness” and “testify” are closely related to our English word martyr; from Greek μαρτυρέω (martureó) { mar-too-reh’-o}. All martyrs testify, but not all who testify are martyred in the sense of dying. We who testify are martyred in the sense of mortification, the “dying” of oneself for the betterment or acknowledgement of the other. Here are some examples of Jesus’ instruction on following him. First there is the passage at the top of the essay, Matthew 10:32-33 and then:

Mark 8:34-38 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 9:23-26 23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

2 Timothy 2:11-14 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

In addition to this passage which includes Luke 9:23 (deny themselves and take up their cross daily), we have these passages which convey the same challenge: Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27. There is obviously a large reward for denying oneself and a large punishment for denying Christ. If we align our lives with his, we accept that our life will have a mission (to make Disciples), as well as a via dolorosa, a Calvary, Life Everlasting, and a Resurrection. IF we are Disciples, then we go wherever Jesus goes. We are ready at all times to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (See 1 Peter 3:13-16). Bottom line, if you really love Jesus, saying so should be what you expect of yourself – witness. The foundation of that “bottom line” is acting like you really love Jesus. (Often – mistakenly – attributed to St. Francis: Preach the Gospel at all times and only when absolutely necessary, use words.) Hence the dare on social media to prove your faith by witnessing to it. That’s a great thing to do, and while it is also a right thing to do, it isn’t enough. If we love Jesus, we have to carry out Jesus’ command to fulfill our mission. His mission was to bring salvation as promised. Our mission is to make Disciples. Quite a lot of us prefer to do that passively, some even prefer to do it secretly. Jesus never said we had to be PC when it came to testimony. We are to be obvious and noisy about it. Take a look at Matthew 10:26-28 26 So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. I think perhaps there are not many of us who actually fear being killed for being a Christian; we know for a fact, however, that literally thousands of Christians are martyred – KILLED – ALL AROUND THE WORLD. No, we are silent in word and deed because we don’t want to offend someone, or make someone angry, or have to make [a] defense to anyone who demands from [us] an accounting for the hope that is in [us]. That, I suppose, is the justification for the challenge we sometimes get from others. What, then, of the challenge we should be giving ourselves?

Are we truly happy Christians whose lives display the hope that is in us? (Remember the thing about “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”) Do we actually look for opportunities to openly share our faith? Are we busy in the work of making Disciples? If I love Jesus, shouldn’t I be working hard to help other people know that hope, that love, that joy that should pour like a deluge from my heart? If we are embarrassed to testify to being a Disciple, are we not confessing Jesus? That word again – confessing – is tough to live with. In Latin, the word for “acknowledge” in today’s verse is Confitebitur – as in cōnfiteor: “I confess, admit, agree.” Catholics recognize that word Confiteor. It is part of the daily Liturgy when we confess that we are sinners and ask prayerful support from Heaven and Humanity at the beginning of Mass. It involves doing a quick examination of conscience – am I OK with God, OK enough that I can meet him here at his Altar? There are, it seems to me, two truths about this idea of acknowledging Christ. The first is that I have to be able to say, “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me.” (↔ Music Link) The second is more difficult for some reason. It is to say to others (known or unknown, loved-ones, and even our enemies), “I’m following Jesus. Would you like to go with me?” This is the mission – to make Disciples – and when we refuse to accept our mission, in effect we refuse the command of Jesus; we deny him. We are accountable for the souls we do not work to free from sin and death. Try this little test and see if it makes sense to you.

  • Think of someone you really love, someone for whom you would do anything.
  • Does that person know Jesus as Lord and Savior?
    • If so, think of another loved one
    • If not, what are you going to do about that?

Are we willing to let a loved-one continue to deny Christ and therefore be denied by him? Do we have a thirst for souls? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness for others and not just for ourselves? On the Day of Recompense, how will we explain to God that the one we love is counted among the goats? Should we maybe be on that side of Judgment with them? Is our child, our sibling, our spouse, our neighbor, our friend, or even our enemy aware that we claim Christ? Is our child, our sibling, our spouse, our neighbor, our friend, or even our enemy in danger of being denied by Him? How will you, how will I, how will we answer that?

What do you say?

Is it enough? Check out Matthew 25:31-46 and see where you stand.

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

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

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 16, 2017 – Show me the bread

1724AFC061617 – Show me the Bread

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea!

About last week: Some of you got multiple copies of the message “Koinonia.” I apologize for that. I guess my OutLook went rogue on me before I sent it out. Also, there was no Terrific Tuesday message because there was no computer access at the place we were staying. It was a nice visit – a place called The Cliffs – up on the North Shore in Princeville; it was good time to relax and rigorously avoid any “projects.” Today, we’re back in the house, we’ve cleaned up after the cats, unpacked, and we’re on schedule once more. Good to be back! And now,

Show me the Bread!

Maybe you remember that movie where the tag line was Show me the money!” I never saw the movie, but I sure remember that tagline. For me, it typified the “problem” with professional sports (among other professions) these days – MONEY-MONEY-MONEY. Sometimes we call money bread, so that’s the connection with this title. However, we’re not going to be talking about money; we’re actually going to be talking about Bread – specifically “Showbread” (or if you’re looking in the KJV “shewbread”). So let’s take a look at our key verse for today and get into the story behind it.

Exodus 25:30 30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

Leviticus 24:5-9 You shall take choice flour, and bake twelve loaves of it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. You shall place them in two rows, six in a row, on the table of pure gold.* You shall put pure frankincense with each row, to be a token offering for the bread, as an offering by fire to the Lord. Every Sabbath day Aaron shall set them in order before the Lord regularly as a commitment of the people of Israel, as a covenant forever. They shall be for Aaron and his descendants, who shall eat them in a holy place, for they are most holy portions for him from the offerings by fire to the Lord, a perpetual due.

*The Showbread Table was described in Exodus 5:23-30. It was made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold, like this.

John 6:51-57 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.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.

This Sunday is June 18, 2017 – The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). On this day we remember that Christ told his Disciples, and us as well, that he is the Bread of Life come down from Heaven which was followed by the statement for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Jesus is in the Father, the Father is in Jesus, the Father and the Son live in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, and the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in those who believe. St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote: “Material food first of all turns itself into the person who eats it, and as a consequence, restores his losses and increases his vital energies. Spiritual food, on the other hand, turns the person who eats it into Itself, and thus the proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, so that he may no longer live for himself, but that Christ may live in Him. And as a consequence it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual losses caused by sins and defects and of increasing the power of the virtues.” In Jesus’ discourse about the Bread of Life, he points out that God gave manna – bread from Heaven – to the Israelites. In this 6th chapter of John, he makes the claim that God is sending true bread from Heaven, himself. Jesus, eternally begotten of the Father, is eternally in the Presence of God. God showed us what this was like in the Bread of Presence, the Showbread, which was always in the Holy Place, always before God’s face, and always consumed in a holy way by God’s Holy Priests in that Holy Place.

The bread of the Servants of God and of the People was always in a Holy Place and consumed in a Holy way. The Bread of Presence was prepared in a Holy way by people specifically commissioned to mix, knead, bake, set out, and consume that bread. It was not the people who made the Bread of Presence Holy. It was instead the method and purpose of preparation that made it Holy. The manna and the Bread of Presence served as testimony that God was always with his people, always providing for them, and always keeping them in his watchful gaze. Now we have the Presence of Jesus as our Holy Bread, his flesh given up for the World. And what is that? How can that be? What is his flesh? It is belief that he has given his life for our salvation. When we believe, we use our faith to take in the Lord, to become unified with him. He is the Sacrifice that heals us of the affliction of Sin; however, WE do not sacrifice Christ.

In the Eucharist, Christ is the Altar upon which the sacrifice is made. Christ is the Priest who performs that Sacrifice. Christ is himself the Sacrifice given once for all. As we pray in Eucharistic Prayer I, Christ is truly present as “this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.” Does this mean he dies over and over at the Altar? No, of course not! He conquered death, and gives us himself in this bloodless and most Holy Sacrifice. Take a look at these passages which prove that is the case.

Romans 6:9-10 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Hebrews 9:23-28 Here we read, 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

1 Peter 3:18-20 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

Jesus reminded the Jewish authorities of the manna as well as the Showbread and of the time that King David ate the Bread of Presence as related in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 In this passage, David entered the Tabernacle on a secret mission. He asked the Priest, Abimelech, for five loaves of bread to feed him and his troops. The Priest gave him the Bread of Presence – Showbread – which enabled him to carry out the mission. The passage ends like this: So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. You can see Jesus’ understanding of the significance of this in Mark 2:23-28 In this passage we read, 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Yes, we believe it truly is Christ who is present in the Eucharist; we believe His true presence begins from the time of the consecration and then endures so long as the sacramental species are discernable. In that belief, we become what we eat – Holy. Perfect? No, we are not perfect or perfected. We are made WHOLE which is what holiness is. Christ is present, Christ is offered, and Christ offers the Offering.

We refer to this offering as an oblation. This is a solemn gifting of Christ’s sacrifice and ours as we look upon the True Presence with eyes enlightened by faith. (See Ephesians 1:17-19 for opening the eyes of our hearts.) An Oblation is a “meal” (grain) offering. It is the most fundamental of all offerings. In the Old Testament it is often called a “gift offering,” and the noun used in Hebrew is מִנְחָה (minkhah) {min-khah’}. During every Eucharistic Prayer there are two Oblations. The “lesser oblation” is the Offertory – this happen before the Consecration – in which the bread and wine are presented to God. During this Offertory, the Priest holds both hands over the Gifts on the Altar and blesses them. The “greater oblation,” the Oblation Proper, occurs after the consecration when the Priest, on behalf of Christ, offers God the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus as Jesus himself offers himself to his Father on our behalf. It is a truly amazing moment many people often miss even though we have opportunity to see the Bread of Life and to believe.

We see the Bread when it is offered. We see the Bread when it is consecrated. We see the Bread when is broken and elevated with the Chalice of Salvation. We see the Bread when it is given for consumption. We become the Bread when we eat the Bread and Drink the Chalice. In all of these instances after the consecration, if we see with the eyes of our hearts, we see The Precious Body and Blood of Christ – not just bread and wine. In the same way that the Bread of Presence was always before the Lord in the Holy Place, we hold the Presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle of our Hearts, and our hearts are always facing the Face of the Lord. That is why we look, that is why we eat, that is why we believe, that is why we go – so that God can show us the Bread.

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

Please keep praying for all our chronically ill friends and members. IDC, AD, JE, KD, RB, EP and everyone who is dealing with or has dealt with cancer and other conditions that just seems to keep hanging on. Pray also for those caught up in addictions, for children and adults who have turned to crime, and for the deep divisions and anger that are plaguing our Great Nation.

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

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

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

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