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 – November 20, 2020 – Are you done with that?

2047AFC112020 – Are you done with that?

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

    Ezekiel 34:11 Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

1 Corinthians 15:28 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

Matthew 25:46 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment*, but the righteous into eternal life. *κόλασιν (kolasin) {kol’-as-in} kólasis – from kolaphos, “a buffeting, a blow” – properly, punishment that “fits” (matches) the one punished

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Today is Friday, November 20, 2020. It is the 325th day of the year. There are 41 days left. This is a day the Lord has made, so let’s rejoice, be glad, and try not to mess it up. At 00:06, the time this post went live, I turned 74 years old. It hasn’t changed me a bit, although I wonder if perhaps this will be the year, or even the day or hour, when I will complete my last assignment and get some time off. Or is that some time on? Ah! Knowing me, it’s probably a time out! I am eager to be done with all of this, nonetheless, I will keep pounding away until I don’t have to.

How about you? Are you done with this yet? I hear a lot of people saying that these days. “I’m done with this! No more masks, no more sickness, no more politics, no more nothing.” I get it. This is tiring stuff! There’s only one problem I see with being done; well, not a problem really, just an observation. I end up asking the question, “What’s next?” (← Check it out!) This post is along the line of that post from back in 2015. It’s possible some pieces of that might end up in this piece, but I really want to focus on that Key Verse passage from Sunday’s Gospel. The 2015 post talked about how to get to Heaven; the conclusion was it is only through the Grace of God that we have any chance of getting there.

This post is going to deal a bit with how to get to Hell. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but when the promptings for this message started, I ended up with four pages of notes on that topic. Don’t worry, Belovéd, I’m not going to take much more of your time than usual, but I am going to try to make all of us think a little bit harder about that question, “What’s next?”. As long as we are in this corporeal world, there is always a “next thing.” Do you remember YOLO-F? You Only Live Once – and it’s FOREVER. Our last “next thing” is the eternal part of our lives – that Life Everlasting in the Gospel of John. We’ve covered the idea of life forever in the presence of God, and death forever in the absence of God, several times over the years. What is that alternative like, that life in Hell?

I was surprised to learn that there are folks in the past who have spent a great deal of time thinking about that. Of course, since they are earthlings, there is no consensus. One view holds that at the Day of Reward (which most folks call Judgment Day) the “bad people” will be refused entry into Heaven, be shipped off to some mysterious place, and be annihilated. This is called Annihilationism. One’s existence is cancelled; that created soul as well as the entire life it led are permanently terminated. If these souls actually do spend any time in a literal Hell, at some point God causes them to cease to exist – eternal elimination. Being denied Heaven in any form is also referred to as “the second death.” (See for example Revelation 20:14 and Revelation 21:8)

Another view is referred to as Universalism. In this view everybody has immortality – YOLO-F – and the kicker is that eventually everyone is forgiven. In Universalism and Annihilationism, all evil will eventually be wiped out, and only Holiness will remain; Hell will be empty. These theological constructs are contrary to what the Church and Christian tradition hold to be true; that is, that God does indeed have a place called Hell – not just “Sheol” or “Hades” or “Gehenna” but really truly actually eternal tortuous hellfire and brimstone. This is the point of view called Traditionalism.

In the opposing views, it is argued that it is inherently unjust for a just God to eternally punish a soul for temporal – that is for time-alive – sins. They argue that God would not submit any soul to punishment because that cancels out his victory over evil and death won for us on the Cross. How would God create a soul knowing that ultimately that soul would be assigned to eternal torment? Or, in another view, is this whole idea of suffering in Hell – or even cleansing in Purgatory – just a perverted exaggeration of God’s Divine Sovereignty? Isn’t Eternity with God supposed to be one hugely harmonious God-centered celebration of Life and Joy? Why would God leave a dab of humanity in a disharmonious, ugly, painful eternal torment? What was most surprising to me as I read through these differing viewpoints is that they all claim to be biblical! The disparity between the three viewpoints is such that it would be impossible for all three to be true, and it seems equally unlikely that two of them could be true, but if we accept only one view, what should that be? I decided that the view I could best accept and understand is the Traditionalist view of Eternal Punishment. Here’s why:

Let’s take a look at the Universalist view. Take a moment to think of  a person or a group that’s been in the news recently, a person or group that really raised your ire. Now, picture them sitting with you at the Heavenly Banquet. Now imagine that next to them you see Stalin, Hitler, and Mao in a lively conversation. Further up the table are the Apostles Peter, Paul, and John. In the other direction you spot a neighbor who was caught in adultery and decided to get out of the trouble he was in by murdering his family and committing suicide. After all the good things you did in your life to gain a place at the Table, you realize it is only by the Grace of God that you are here, so the same thing must apply to them. God indeed has the power and authority to do that, so how or why did your struggle with sin and repentance make any difference?

We can say much the same about the Nihilists’ outcomes. After being judged as unfit for Heaven, they are eliminated from Heaven and eternity in the blink of an eye. That means that all the people imagined above simply disappeared without any further reckoning for their conduct on Earth. That banishment is indeed eternal since all those deemed worthy will live forever in the presence of God. But wait, haven’t we forgotten about YOLO-F? Didn’t God create us in his image and that means we too are created to be holy and eternal? Hmmm. Blinking the evil out of the Universe might not be an option. So how about those traditionalists? What would they say?

I need to interject something here that is strictly my own point of view, one of those IMHO[1] statements. It is related to this question: When we are all called to the New Jerusalem, to live with God and his angels as resurrected citizens of Heaven, will we still have Free Will? Most Christian theology stances point to Free Will as essential to Salvation. We must choose to love and serve God. There’s no point in him forcing us to love him, because then it wouldn’t really be love. Love requires the decision to commit the act of loving, and that impulse to make that decision is an innate part of us by God’s command. When we suppress that impulse, we sin. In the post-resurrection Heaven, IMHO, there must still be the choice to love God or not to love God, to obey God or not to obey God. If we have free will, then we can use that to elect to be unholy. Nothing unholy is permitted in Heaven, so what would God do with any soul – or angel – who chose to unholy? IF there was already a Hell, and IF it were extant outside of heaven, then the disobedient would immediately proceed to Hell. That’s why there should be a hell. Now, I agree, God could just blink them back into Heaven by forgiving them again, or he could blink them out of existence by banishing them, or he could do as he has always said he would do: Condemn them to everlasting torment.

Now, early on in this post I showed you a link that said (← Check it out!). The following inserts come from that post (1546AFC111315) in 2015. Follow the link if you want to check out that context:

Jesus himself said there is a continuation of life after death. We now know it as Heaven or Paradise. Admission to eternal, everlasting, glorious life with God is attainable through a belief in Jesus that is sufficient to constitute true faith.

In addition, Jesus referred to God the Father as “God of the living and not of the dead. He is the God of the living, not of the dead is found in …

Matthew 22:32 Mark 12:27 Luke 20:38

As such God will award the righteous with eternity with him and will award the unrighteous with eternity without him. It is Christ who will be the judge. It is God who will grant the awards.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Jesus told his disciples – especially those he chose to be Apostles – that there were good outcomes and bad outcomes based on how people lived.

Matthew 13:49-5149 “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. 51 Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”

Now, here some object that there is no literal “furnace of fire.” We don’t know for certain how that experience of being separated from El Shaddai Olam (Almighty Ever-Living God) will manifest, but it is clear throughout scripture that it will be extremely unpleasant and unrelenting.

Jesus will send angels who are assigned to gather into two groups all the souls that ever lived (remember, we all live forever).

Matthew 13:41-4241 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Not all of the angels will be with “the good guys.”

2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; (Want to know more? Try all of 2 Peter 2)

If we decide, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is no God, no Christ, no Salvation, and no sin then we condemn ourselves.

Revelation 21:8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

In addition, if we succeed at convincing – or even attempt to entice others to sin as we sin – then that will also bring separation from God. Jesus declares this in two of the Gospels:

Mark 9:42 42 If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

Matthew 18:6“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Yet God has planned all of this from the first Word of creation, and part of the plan is that we should choose to love him. As the Prophet Isaiah said,

Isaiah 64:4For since the world began no one has seen or heard of such a God as ours, who works for those who wait for him! Living Bible (TLB) The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Today, I ask all of us, “Are we done with sin? Do we commit to loving God and neighbor as he commanded? Are we done with the life we have chosen to live, including the times we suppressed our consciences? Are we ready to hear God ask us, ‘ARE YOU DONE WITH THAT?'”? Well, are we? Like you, I’m doing the best I can – I hope – but, honestly, it’s not enough. However God decides to deal with those who are deemed unworthy of Heaven, I absolutely aspire to be in that other group and I absolutely do not want to be guilty of failing to warn, to coax, or to plead with and for any soul that could end up being separated from God in any fashion whatsoever. I’m done with that, and I’m (finally) done with this post. I want you to know that if you got to this point, I deeply appreciate your patience! I just want to encourage you to Take Time To Be Holy (↔ Music Link) and to remember You Can’t Be A Beacon if your light don’t shine (↔ Music Link) so that God may be all in all.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

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

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

[1] NB – this is my POV and in no way reflects the teaching of the Catholic Church, or of any other person or organization. It may or may not seem reasonable to anyone else, but is based on my 65+ years of experience studying the Word. Of course, I’m not the only person to ever think of this, so you can run a search to find out about Free Will After the Resurrection.

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Aloha Friday Message – November 13, 2020 – What are you waiting for?

2046AFC111320 – What are you waiting for?

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

    1 Thessalonians 5:1-2  Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Hosea 12:6 But as for you, return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.

Proverbs 20:22-23 22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will help you. 23 Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.

Psalm 37:34 34 Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

Psalm 27:13-14 13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Proverbs 4:23 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! These days of confusion, anger, and conflict seems like they may go on for much, much longer. All of us are weary of COVID-19 VIRUS, politics, weather (it’s been over 80º most days here for weeks), and that “return to normal” for which we all long. If I were to ask you the question in today’s topic, “What are you waiting for?”, how would you answer?

Sometimes when people ask us that, it is meant as an encouragement to act; what are you waiting for? Go get it! Sometimes, it’s a challenge to commit to action when we’re not sure how things will turn out. Many times we have no idea why we are waiting. What do we expect will happen and when? If we don’t know what or when, or where or how or why, waiting can be pretty frustrating, even frightening. On the other hand, if we are waiting to be an aunt, or uncle, or grandparent or mom or dad, our expectation is filled with hope and Joy. We have also had times in our lives where we were waiting for what we dread – another hurricane, a trip to the principal’s office, the results of the CAT scan, or a root canal. Sometimes what we wait for seems worth the wait. Sometimes what we wait for is supremely disappointing. Sometimes what we wait for never happens. Why do we wait?

Waiting is a significant part of “the human condition.” If things happened as quickly and surely as we imagine them, life could be pretty chaotic. It’s pretty chaotic right now, and it seems like the chaos is caused by the delay of those things for which we have chosen to wait – or have been forced to wait. We seem to be caught up in the terrible power of the phrase “what if.” If we wait hopefully, waiting is endurable; if we wait fearfully, waiting is agonizing.

Much is said these days about the problem of “instant gratification. What if that happened every time we didn’t want to wait? Our lives would fill up with consequences and materials so quickly that we’d be lost in the deluge. Waiting is good for us even if it drives us crazy sometimes. The good comes from understanding what waiting is and how it works.

Waiting is an expression of anticipation – remember the ketchup commercial with the jingle “Anticipation is making me wait.”? There is the implication of expectation there, of hoping for, expecting, patiently enduring, watching, looking for, even desiring. We wait for someone or something but sometimes that is turned around; someone or something waits (or doesn’t wait) for us. Maybe the train or plane won’t wait, but maybe individual people will. The people in the service industries are said to wait on their customers, to wait tables, to wait for our demands/commands; those who wait on us often minister to us, too. So, let me ask you: Are we waiting on God, or is God waiting on us? Selah.

What did the psalmist mean when he talked about waiting? Check this out: Psalm 130:5-6 I wait* for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.* קִוִּ֣יתִי (qiw-wî-ṯî) {qavahti) {kaw-vaw’ti} hope for, expect, patiently endure, watch, look for, desire. How about these expressions of certainty that the Lord will be fair in all his ways?

Psalm 94:12-14 12 Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, 13 giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;

Matthew 26:41 41 “Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Waiting requires wakefulness – in either sense of the word, you have to be awake to wait for someone or something, and you have to be awake to wait on someone or something. Staying awake is a requirement of the sentinel who watches and waits for friend or foe. Are we watching for the Foe, the Accuser, the Father of lies? See here: 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. ††

The man of lawlessness; other ancient authorities read the man of sin ††The son of destruction. (Read the full chapter to see that in context, especially about the people held in delusions at the end of times. It will take less than 5 minutes.)

There were sentinels among the children of Israel, and they watched for enemies and for allies (look up Shibboleth sometime), but they also had sentinels who warned them of enemies or allies of God. They were called the Judges and the Prophets. We have similar sentinels in this day and age – Spirit-filled men, women, and sometimes even children who warn us against our enemies and identify our allies. If and when we recognize those Prophets and Judges, we wait for them to tell us what we need to know to be safe, to find peace, to be secure. Yet, we also have this warning from one of Jesus’ foremost sentinels, the Apostle Paul:

1 Thessalonians 5:3-6 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake* and be sober *γρηγορῶμεν (grēgorōmen) {gray-gor-yoo’-o-men} → literally, “stay awake”; (figuratively) be vigilantly responsible, watchful; to give strict attention to, be cautious, to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly  overtake one.

Belovéd, does that sound like something you might have heard or experienced lately? Waiting is a great deal more than sitting around doing nothing. The waiting God expects of us is endless awareness; it is a watchfulness which includes excitement for the good things and preparation for the bad things. These are the telltale actions of Faith; we hope because we believe, we believe because we trust, we wait because we love, we love because we obey. Where there’s life (← Check it out!) there’s hope, and God expects us, waits for us, to Trust and Obey. We walk with the Lord and simply Trust and Obey (↔ Music Link). But wait! There’s more!

We also need to take a look at the Old Testament reading from Chapter 31 of the book of Proverbs. This is the chapter that describes the Virtuous Woman (← Check it out!). We’ve studied passages about Men of Valor and Women of Virtue. I remember a Radio Preacher’s sermon on the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs. One statement he made struck me as particularly and elegantly insightful. He said, “There is nothing in this world more beautiful than a virtuous woman serving the Lord.” I thought about all the difficulties women have endured for millennia because they were deemed lesser in every way because of their gender. I also recall the several “Proverbs 31 Women” I have known. You know what I have often said about women: Naturally they are not the lesser; they are certainly deserving of all equitable consideration and treatment. In fact, I argue that women are the better part of humanity. Man was made from dirt. Woman was made from flesh and bone. Better ingredients, better people. OK, so I probably sound a little flippant there, but I say that to illustrate that indeed there is little in this world that can outshine the Light one sees in a life lived with virtue and valor. And that applies to men and women, boys and girls, saints and sinners. Now how does that relate to our theme of waiting?

Belovéd, you already know the answer! It’s in the adage, “Patience is a virtue.” (See more about that in The 2016 Lenten Series) To be Good Citizens of the Kingdom of God, we need to live virtuous, valorous lives because it is those qualities which give us the faith, the discernment, the patience and perseverance, and especially the humility to WAIT. After all, what does Scripture tell us of the Father of Nations, our old friend Abraham? It says, quite plainly, in Hebrews 6:15 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. And the Promise is the restoration of our communion with God.

In closing, please consider these passages:

1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober

2 Peter 3:7-9 But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (Use this link to read the full chapter with some very familiar statements.)

Joel 2:28-33 28 Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. (See also Acts 2:14-24)

Now, Belovéd, isn’t that worth waiting for with virtue and valor?

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

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

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

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 – November 6, 2020 – Using Wisdom to Light the Way

2045AFC110620 – Using Wisdom to Light the Way

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

     Matthew 25:3-4 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

Wisdom 6:14-16 14 One who rises early to seek her [Wisdom] will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. 15 To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, 16 because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

Matthew 6:10 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Aloha pumehana, a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! Warmest Aloha, and may God bless you, Belovéd! Before I get too far into this I need to ask a favor of each of you. I’m going to put a hyperlink here and ask you to share it with anyone you can. We’ve all heard the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. I am asking you to pass along this link: https://www.catholic365.com/article/11824/a-prayer-for-national-repentance.html. If you have a Twitter account (I’ve never taken that step – too “sticky” for my tastes), please send it out that way and have others re-Tweet. Maybe it will eventually get to @POTUS or @realDonaldTrump. Regardless of how this General Election turns out, the only way we can be assured that we have done all we should to make things right is to carefully heed the content of this passage from 2 Chronicles. Thank you in advance for your help with this!

Let us begin our study with an appeal to seek and utilize Wisdom. Scripture teaches us that Wisdom was with God during creation, and accompanies God in all his Works. Sunday’s gospel is the story of the ten virgins – five wise and five foolish. I am trying to be ready for God’s will in all things. Being ready means you don’t just assume that when the time comes you’ll be prepared for whatever happens. You have to be paying attention to “the little things.” Jesus taught several lessons on being ready. We will hear one such lesson this weekend – the 10 Virgins at the Wedding Feast. That’s the reason for today’s Key Verse.

In this story, there are 10 virgins who are waiting for the bridegroom to return so that the Wedding Feast can start. All of them fall asleep. Five of them have brought extra oil; they are referred to as the wise virgins. Five of them did not bring extra oil; they are referred to as the foolish virgins. When the bridegroom arrived, the wise were ready to go into the feast with him because they could refill their lamps and trim their wicks. The foolish ones begged the wise for more oil. The request was not granted. Instead they were sent out into the darkness to attempt to correct their foolishness. The wise went in with the bridegroom. The foolish were locked out. Although the parable does not say it directly, we can come to a reasonable assumption that the door was locked by the bridegroom after he entered the feast with the 5 who were ready. It is very apparent in this parable that Jesus is the bridegroom and the 10 virgins represent his followers – all 10 are invited to the feast. Only 5 were prepared to continue to be in the presence of the bridegroom because they were wisely prepared. Today, we know that we must also be prepared to pray and believe our prayer when we recall Matthew 6:10 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We must be prepared to anticipate God’s will (be prepared) and to obey God’s will (carry out). Philippians 2:14-16a 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing. 15 Then you will be the pure and innocent children of God. You live among people who are crooked and evil, but you must not do anything that they can say is wrong. Try to shine as lights among the people of this world, 16 as you hold firmly to the message that gives life. Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

We must be those lights, those lamps set on a lampstand, those souls filled with Hope and Peace. Do you recall what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 15:13? He said, 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Beloved, do not let the present times confuse you with stories about “The End” or messages about foolishness, or quarrels and disputes about the stark differences between the World and the Kingdom. Find someone who needs help – be it food, or prayer, or work, or comfort, or just a smile or a thank-you – then give that which is needed and move on to the next one. If you’re not sure who to pray for, pray for everyone. If you’re not sure what to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to pray within you. As St. Mother Teresa told us, “If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” The wise among us will not only bring that oil, but also know where to get it. Remember the foolish virgins had to go out in the middle of the night to find someone to sell them\ what they needed. We get our Light – and the oil in our lamps (↔ Music Link) – from the King who is the Light of the World.

Christians everywhere know that the Holy Spirit is actively countering the massive attacks against righteousness all across the World. If ever there was a time for us to exercise our spiritual authority, NOW IS THE TIME! (↔ Music Link) We have the authority of the Children chosen by God just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:2-4) How do we know we are chosen? Because we believe (John 3:16-19), and because by baptism and the Holy Spirit we are children of God as we learn from John 1:12 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God …

Often reviewing this verse leads to a discussion of how to survive those tests of faith we encounter so often in our lives. Sometimes things happen that we just cannot understand – like the death of a child, the betrayal of innocence, or pointless violence. These things are often difficult to comprehend even within our Christian understanding of life. This too is something about which much has been written – why bad things happen to good people (and the converse of that, why good things happen to bad people). Again, there is a short answer which is inadequate only if you don’t believe that the longer answer isn’t any different from the short answer. The short answer is, “with God all things are possible.” The good and the bad happen, but it all happens within God’s knowing of it. Victims exist and God knows the how and why of that existence. He does not produce the victim or the circumstances that result in victims. Regardless of what is happening now, we need not, must not, be victims. We can be, should be, witnesses – witnesses to the Wisdom of God by knowing we are intentionally praying “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

I have said recently that – as we watch this unique moment in history – about half of the Nation will see it as a slow-motion train wreck ending in disaster and the rest of the nation will see it as the Clash of the Titans with the few but the mighty prevailing. However we see it, it will not come to be without the knowledge AND WISDOM of God!

Belovéd, that’s good enough for everyone who is wise. James 1:5 tells us If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. Now that doesn’t mean we can just sit on our tushes and wait for God to crown us with Wisdom. We may have to seek her out, but that’s OK because One who rises early to seek her [Wisdom] will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. 15 To fix one’s thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, 16 because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

Put a little oil in your lamp (hint: it’s FREE in the B.I.B.L.E.), and keep it burning. We know not the day nor the hour, (← Check it out!) but the wise can see that now is the birth pangs (← Check it out!) and we can proceed with confidence because we are prepared through God’s own Wisdom.

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

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

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

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

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

Little clay lamps like this with a wick laid off to one side in a little trough were common in Jesus’ day. In this kind of vessel a piece of cloth or a bit of soft wood wicked-up (← Check it out!) the oil and provided light to the room. We can provide the Light of Wisdom in the darkness of this Age. Keep letting your little light shine!

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A Prayer for National Repentance

2 Chronicles 7:14 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

A Prayer for National Repentance

Please use the following prayer at least once daily until 31 days after the General Election is certified.

Almighty Everliving God, we – the citizens of America – come to You with humbled and contrite hearts. We repent of our tepid faith, our poorly-developed and fruitless works, and our indifference to You and to our neighbors. We are resolved to return to You, to submit to Your Will, and to become again “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” From the doors of our homes, from the gates of our communities, from the seat of our governments, and from the depths of our hearts we return to You for You alone are compassionate enough to heal and restore our Nation. Bless our civil and religious leaders and everyone in authority – including those who develop, enforce, and adjudicate laws – so that they serve with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so we can all live together in Peace. We stand against those who follow the ways of evil and anarchy, threatening to destroy our Nation and to set aside the blessings and wisdom You gave to our founding fathers. We will return to serving God, Country, and family so that Your Name may be glorified. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – October 30, 2020 – What’s left is Right

2044AFC103020 – What’s left is Right

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

     Revelation 7:13-14 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

1 John 3:1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Revelation 12:5-6 The woman gave birth to a son, who would rule all nations with an iron rod. The boy was snatched away. He was taken to God and placed on his throne. The woman ran into the desert to a place that God had prepared for her. There she would be taken care of for one thousand two hundred sixty days. (That is 180 weeks or 42 months or 3½ years.)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow is Halloween, so I want to look at that for just a moment, and then I want to explain what that oxymoron of a title means.

Halloween is properly Hallowe’en, or Hallow Even or All Hallows Eve. It is the day before the Solemnity of All Saints, and two days before The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls). On All Saints Day – which this year happens to fall on a Sunday, November 1, 2020, we remember those who have left this life and have been favored by God to dwell with him forever. November 1 has been on a Sunday in the 20th century 12 times, and so far in the 21st century twice – 2015 and 2020. There is a full moon on 11/31/2020, and it is the second full moon in the month of November, so it is referred to as a “Blue moon.” The occurrence of a blue moon is known to be rare, hence the adage “once in a blue moon.” Because the full moon is on the thirty-first, some people associate that with increased “lunacy” (craziness during a full moon), and increased power and frequency of black arts – witchcraft and magick. Why the extra K? It’s there because Aleister Crowley – a 19th-20th century “mystic” and “occultist” (1875-1947) founded the religion of Thelema. He used the term allegedly to differentiate what he considered human-generated change that is not necessarily metaphysical. Those who dabble in (or are wholly lost in) occult crafting believe that it is possible to make use of metaphysical incantations, behaviors, signs, and symbols to manipulate spirits and nature; it is witchcraft, divination, and blasphemy. I mention this because at Halloween it is not uncommon for people to dress up in costumes that are based on witches, demons,  (including costumes appearing like Ἑκάτη, Hekátē who is the Greek goddess of witchcraft!) and monsters and therein we find a problem.

Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires, make “Jack O’Lanterns” and wear costumes to keep evil spirits from affecting them. They believed it was possible to “outsmart” these wandering spirits, so they would put on masks when they left their homes after sunset so that the evil spirits would actually believe they were also spirits. You can find out more here. It is wise to remember that witchcraft, divination, sorcery, demonic activity, and similar imitations of cultic practices can potentially be dangerous. Satan has been working for centuries to make us unaware that all of that is NOT “merely” cultural tradition. One of his favorite tricks is to tell the same lie often enough that eventually we believe it. Just remember that God is in charge, Christ has conquered evil and death, and interacting with demonic spirits is likely to be eternally fatal. Now, let’s see what God has in store for us in the Scriptures for this weekend.

What do I mean by saying “What’s left is Right?” Another word for “what’s left” is “remnant.” A carpet remnant is a piece of carpeting that is left over when carpeting is installed. Fabric remnants, food remnants, and nation remnants are all smaller parts of the whole that are left when larger parts of the whole are used (or lost) elsewhere. Here are some passages about what’s left – the Remnant. This is not an exhaustive list, and we won’t get into the speculations about the 144,000. This list, however, gives us a glimpse of what God intends for the small part of Israel, i.e., Judah in some passages, as time goes by.

Jeremiah 23:3 Then I myself will gather the remnant* of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. * שְׁאֵרִ֣ית (sheerith) {sheh-ay-reeth’} left, remnant, rest, survivors, those who had escaped.

Joel 2:32 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors [remnant] shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Amos 5:15 15 Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 

     Micah 5:2-5a This is the prophecy about God waiting until the time when “she who is in labor” brings forth the redeemer so that “then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.”

Zechariah 8:6 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?

Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

How does the Lord “carve out” this remnant? The last small part of the whole has a certain set of characteristics which set them apart from larger part(s) – they are the ones who are righteous, the ones who are fruitful, the ones who “Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.” They are the ones who are left because they are the ones who are Right. They are those who do more of what others do in what God has decreed in his Law. We remember that several ways.

By now these little aphorisms should sound familiar:

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? The right thing.
Do what you know is right.
Avoid doing what you know is wrong.
Ask God to bless that choice.

That sounds easy, huh? “Do what you know is right, avoid doing what you know is wrong, and then ask God to bless that choice.” To do that successfully, we need these four actions in our lives: Seclusion for prayer, meditation on teachings, feeding on the Word and the Christ, and going forth to share the Gospel. Otherwise we decline a portion of the available Good, the Good that makes the remnant Right. We in essence tell God, “I don’t want any more blessings.” It sounds silly, but earthlings are messy like that. We interrupt the flow of blessings so we can do what we think we should and avoid doing what God requires of us. And what does he require? He requires us to repent, to believe in the Gospel, and to share the Gospel to all the corners of the World.

The do’s and don’ts in this season are the same as in every other season. As we look toward Halloween, we are invited to set aside our masks – especially the ones we think God cannot see through – and to face the reality that we are, and always will be, tempted. Not surprisingly, we are most easily tempted when we forget that we are more blessed than we can be tempted. God always provides the power to resist temptation, but we do not always use that gift; sometimes we intentionally suppress our consciences. Even if we realize that we do not have unlimited resources for dealing with the Devil, I think all of us know in our inmost self that we are overly-confident about our own power of resistance.  We are the Children of God by adoption. If we must, we will survive “the great ordeal” and wash our robes in the Blood of the Lamb. We shall live as, and be as, the Peacemakers of God. What will become of us over the next 42 months is in God’s hands. IF we are the remnant, then we are Right to be all that is left.

Our ever-living, ever-loving God gives us the opportunity to seriously weigh those decisions we often make way too lightly. We can usually acknowledge intellectually that it is pointless to try to hide from God, but in our secretly sinful lives we foolishly believe we can get away with it. We fall into Satan’s original trap: “You can be like God and forgive yourself. You don’t really need Him!” Ah, Beloved! We know better, but we fall for it anyway! That’s the best way to avoid being in the remnant that is Right. Now, I must share with you something the Lord gave me in preparation for next week.

Please use the following prayer at least once daily until 31 days after the General Election is certified.

Almighty Everliving God, we – the citizens of America – come to you with humbled and contrite hearts. We repent of our tepid faith, our poorly-developed and fruitless works, and our indifference to You and to our neighbors. We are resolved to return to You, to submit to your Will, and to become again “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” From the doors of our home, from the gates of our communities, from the seat of our governments, and from the depths of our hearts we return to You for you alone are compassionate enough to heal and restore our Nation. Bless our leaders and everyone in authority – including those who develop, enforce, and adjudicate laws – so that they serve with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so we can all live together in Peace. We stand against those who follow the ways of evil and anarchy, threatening to destroy our Nation and to set aside the blessings and wisdom you gave to our founding fathers. We will return to serving God, Country, and family so that your Name may be glorified. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

And finally this:

Sharing a few things I learned this week:

  • Vote for the platform, not the platitudes.
  • Vote for the Republic, not the Republican.
  • Vote for the Democracy, not the Democrat.
  • Vote for the mandate, not the man.
  • Vote for the future, not the past.
  • Vote for progress, not propaganda.
  • Vote for the results, not the rhetoric.
  • Vote for life, not death.
  • Vote for liberty, not liability.
  • Vote for continuity, not commotion.
  • Vote for execution of plans, not for excuses for schemes.
  • Vote for the privilege to be right, not the right to be privileged.
  • Vote for the right to be free, for there is no better alternative.

When it is all said and done,
VOTE!

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

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

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

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

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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 – October 23, 2020 – Being Good in the Neighborhood

2043AFC102320 – Being Good in the Neighborhood

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

   Matthew 22:34-40 34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    Leviticus 19:18 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

    לְרֵעֲךָ֖ (lə-rê-‘ă-ḵā) from רֵעַ (rea) {ray’-ah} → friend, companion, fellow resident.

Exodus 22:21 21 You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien*, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. The term resident alien is often translated as sojourner.

Sojourner is translated from a term in Hebrew – גֵּר (ger) {gare} – and it connotes the basic idea that a person or group is residing in a community and place that is not their place of origin. Such a one is dependent on the conceded rights and privileges – the  “good-will’ – of that community as an accepted part of the whole. (See Oxford Biblical Studies: Sojourner) There is also question about how gēr should be translated into Greek (for example in the Septuagint), as προσήλυτος (prosélutos) {pros-ay’-loo-tos} – a proselyte, a convert required to participate and observe the laws and customs of the “adopting nation;” or as πάροικος (paroikos) {par’-oy-kos} – one who dwells in a place not of his or her origin, but – although accepted by the community – lives within the population while observing their own customs and rules of behavior within the boundaries of the local laws and customs.

This idea of treating strangers with dignity, courtesy, and respect was probably unique in the era during which the Jewish people were formed as a nation. The treatment of foreigners – outsiders – was (and is still) harsh. They are mocked, picked on, bullied, denied certain rights, shunned, ostracized, snubbed at every turn, and the butt of coarse jokes. Treating them with decency was quite a new and different idea. What can we learn about God’s purpose for such a rule? Let’s start with why God chose Israel to be his “peculiar” people.

As we know from Genesis 3:15, before the ink had even dried on our Death Warrant, God promised and provided for a Redeemer. There was much to be prepared to provide this Grace and that required waiting until the “fullness of times” (See Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10) to come. For millennia upon millennia before the coming of God’s promised Messiah, the Lord was preparing the Way for His appearance by teaching us earthlings all the Truth that would make understanding the Works and Power of the Messiah at the proper time chosen by God. God is Holy; therefore if God planned to live among sinful humanity, humanity must have a Way for being Holy as well. Rather than simply impose the orderliness required to achieve holiness, God chose to gradually install the framework for Salvation step-by-step until humanity could comprehend and implement into their own lives the framework of redemption prepared for them by God. This plan was the Way for restoration of Truth, Life, and Peace – the Peace between God and his Creation which was destroyed by sin.

We earthlings are incapable of accomplishing Peace through our own efforts. We soon discover that Peace is unattainable without including God as a partner in the covenantal Peace that reunites us with him. How could it be?

Peace cannot be achieved solely through human effort; yet, conversely, perhaps, peace cannot be achieved without God’s participation. Is it true that all we really need is Love? (← Check it out!) Yes, of course that is True. Is it true that the kind of love that supports Peace is in any way attainable through nothing more than human effort? No, that has never been the case, and – fortunately for us – never will be. It took the immense Love of God sending his own Son to us to be our Messiah, God’s Christ. It was the only way we could return to Holiness with and within God. In Christ we become part of his Chosen People, as described in these three Scripture passages: (Please use the links to compare the language of these texts)

     Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Some translations read “a peculiar treasure,” as in Psalm 135:4 For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV) The meaning for “peculiar” is nothing at all like the way we think of it these day – someone or something a bit weird. It comes from another Hebrew term סְגֻלָּ֔ה (sə-ḡul-lāh) {seg-ool-law’} which means a special treasure set aside for only one person.

Deuteronomy 14:2 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; it is you the Lord has chosen out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured** possession.

**Περιούσιον  (periousion) {per-ee-oo’-see-on} of one’s own possession; costly, treasured, select, specially chosen; of abundant and surpassing value.

Titus 2:14 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own [periousion] who are zealous for good deeds.

God created Adam to be a companion in the community that is God. Through sin, Adam divided that community. God immediately implemented his plan for restoration – the reunification – of that community. For all the descendants of Adam, that plan included free will – the freedom to choose whether or not we would be merciful, and just, and walk humbly in God’s presence. We might choose hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times a day, and to help us with that choice God has given us instructions on how to be Holy:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Christ’s Law of Love is the only Way to meet the requirements of the following passages:

Leviticus 19:17-18 17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:33-34 33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

We are held responsible for treating the alien, the neighbor, the kinfolk, and the earthlings with whom we interact with dignity, courtesy, and respect; we are to Love them even if they are our enemies. Now I know some are saying, “Well, that doesn’t mean I have to like them!” Yes, I suppose that is true – we can hate the sin but love the sinner, despise the act but not the actor. We are to be separate from the World as citizens of the Kingdom, yet God requires that the Kingdom be a witness to the World so that The World will see, and perhaps even desire, a place in the Kingdom with us. That is part of being “a light to all the nations.” (See Isaiah 49:6) The Apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. No, that doesn’t mean Christians run around perfecting their inferiority complexes. It means we suspend our selfishness and treat our neighbors – native or foreign – as beloved of God. How simple that seems as a way to be good in the neighborhood, but how difficult it becomes when we set out to employ it! Even so, there is a simple little rule by which we may succeed. We find it in Psalm 37:3 Trust the Lord and live right! The land [your neighborhood] will be yours, and you will be safe. Contemporary English Version (CEV)

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

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

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – October 16, 2020 – Chosen for greatness

2042AFC101620 – Chosen for greatness

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

    Isaiah 45:5a I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. 

    Isaiah 44:28a [It is I, the Lord] who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose” 

    Matthew 22:20-21 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Today is Friday, October 16, 2020. It is the 290th day of the year. There are 76 days left in 2020. I think all of us will agree this has been an extraordinary year so far, and it’s likely to get even more extraordinary before 2021 opens up before us. Many of us have had a difficult year. Some of us have had a horrible year. A few of us have had a great year. ALL of us have memories of 2020 that will last us for the rest of our lives, memories we will end up sharing with our grandchildren who will pass them on to their grandchildren. In my heart of hearts I hold the hope that somehow all this chaos will be resolved; but, that little man in the right-rear quadrant of my brain keeps saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

     Recently we’ve mentioned the “birth pangs” Jesus spoke of when describing the “end times.” If, indeed, what we are seeing now is just the birth pangs, then the pandemonium lurking just outside the door (see Genesis 4:7) is something I don’t want to see or endure. That’s kinda crazy, because if these days are the birth pangs, and if the next item on the program is The Tribulation (with or without the Parousia), then – as a person of Faith – I should be jumping for joy because everything is going as planned, and the Day of Resurrection is in sight. The World would judge me as just plain crazy, another religious nut. You’ve probably seen this little meme before, so you’ll understand why it is very important that we do not pay attention to the World’s judgments.

We know the way God works – he does everything perfectly! We don’t do that because we can’t do that. That’s why he’s God and we’re not (despite what certain Hollywood nuts say). This Sunday, we’re going to talk about one of the guys God stirred up to do what God had planned. It’s a pretty good story. We’ll hear about Cyrus, ruler of the Medes and Persians – the same guy who defeated Babylon and returned the Jews to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile there. Here’s the back-story on that.

One of our Key Verses today is from the book of the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah’s prophesies were made the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all of which ruled in the closing years of the eighth century B.C. (ca. 740 – 701 B.C.). What’s really cool about this prophecy is that Isaiah specifically names Cyrus, who wasn’t even born yet! Cyrus was born around 585 ± 5 BC, around 150 years later! He was not a Jew, but rather a gentile. God refers to him as “his anointed” in Isaiah 45:1 – 1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him — and the gates shall not be closed. ALL the kings of Israel were anointed, and Cyrus was a Gentile whom God himself anointed with his Spirit. (See 2012AFC032020 – Anointed for Good for more information). After being whupped by just about every empire in history and carted off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, I imagine the Jews looked at this new, young military leader as just another oppressor. “Here we go again. Now what?” They seem to have forgotten that God himself had chosen Cyrus and told them “Cyrus will do what I tell him to do. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and all of you will go there.” From Genesis to Malachi, God tells his people I am the Lord over 160 times. You’d think they’d remember! Another of our Key Verses says I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. So, what are we supposed to do with that?

(This is where I’m supposed to insert Micah 6:8 again. We should all have that memorized by now.) We should also be thinking about the two greatest commandments – love God completely and love our neighbors (including our enemies) the same way Jesus loves us. That’s God’s plan for us. It’s a pretty simple plan if you really think about it. Trouble is it seems to be “too simple for our complex minds and hearts.” The folks who manage to figure out how it works and get’r done are the folks we name as Saints. Now, of course, all of the people saved by Grace are “the Saints of God,” but the exemplary ones are those who “do small things with great love.” We are all called to that kind of greatness. We who are baptized are also anointed Priest, Prophet, and King. If we think it was amazing that God would have Cyrus named as “his anointed” 150 years before it happened, then how great is it that millennia before we came on the scene, God named us – each and every person reading this – as his anointed? If God has prepared that for us, what ought we to prepare for him? I am not a Priest like Saint Pope John Paul II, I am not a Prophet like Isaiah, and I am not a King like Cyrus; but, I am chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:4) I am, you are, we are chosen and anointed by God, in God, and for God. As we hear in the Eucharistic Doxology, it is our call to live this proclamation as a core value in our lives: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen.”)

Everyone in our lives is affected by our anointing. For most of us, though, that’s no big whoop; that is, unless we are counting our burdens instead of our blessings. That sort of focused awareness is pretty depressing because we concentrate too much on what we don’t have and overlook everything we do have. If we are living in accordance with Christ’s Law of Love, we know, see, and understand how God’s Grace gifts us with extraordinary treasures. That kind of focused awareness gives us a predisposition to value God’s Love deeply and also inspires us to make a return on that love. God invests us – clothes us in Christ – so that when we return the love of Christ to God and to neighbor our blessings are increased. If we give whatever belongs to God to someone or something else in the World, we should not be surprised that our investing in the World does not produce spiritual blessings. Those investments only satisfy our liabilities to the law. Investing in the World is about the same thing as paying our taxes. That’s the lesson Jesus was teaching when the Pharisees plotted to entrap him by asking, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (See Matthew 24:17).Jesus told them, “Show me the coin used for the tax.” Now we recently said something about this particular coin. It was a Denarius showing the image of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor in Jesus’ day. It was a tribute tax, a way of paying Caesar for his “protection” (under his thumb!). Jesus held the coin so the Disciples of the Pharisees could see it and said, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Sometimes we earthlings have trouble sorting that out. Just what does belong to God? Let’s take a look at what Scripture says:

Psalm 24:1-2 1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

1 Chronicles 29:11 11 Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 17 Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

Job 41:1111 I am in command of the world and in debt to no one. Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The short answer, then, is that everything belongs to God. He made it, and it’s his to do with as he pleases. If you’ve ever received a gift that was far beyond anything you could have imagined, that’s what God’s Grace is like. He gives us more than we can comprehend or repay, so he just asks us to share a little of it with him and with our neighbors. It may look like we have a house, a car, a deed to property, a bank account, but all of those things come from God, and if they are his, we should use them as best befits their purpose – to give God the glory, the praise, the thanks, the adoration, and all the Good that flows from his generosity. We can use God’s car to take a friend to work. We can use God’s groceries to feed a grieving family. We can use God’s living room in our home to host a prayer meeting or Bible study. Whatever we have, we can use it for something greater in the Kingdom than what it is in the World. In fact, whatever we do in the Kingdom, whatever we add to the Kingdom, whatever share to the Kingdom has come to us from and through God. (See John 1:3-4) Even so, we can “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The reason is simple: Everything belongs to God, ultimately even the things that belong to Caesar.

If everything belongs to God, then it follows that everyone belongs to God. Our life, our love, our worshiping, and honoring of God and neighbor belong to God. If we offer all that we have – body, mind, and spirit – to God and neighbor, what becomes of us and of our gifts? I believe the answer is in John 15:13 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. All Good things come from God, so whatever is Good in our lives comes from him, but who can repay him – and how? If we give him All That We Have (↔ Music Link), could it ever be enough? Could we give God and each other All That I am (↔ Music Link), and still come up short? We want to Love God for the Greatness of his Love, but in the Light of his Love ours is Only a Shadow (↔ Music Link). Still, I am certain you have felt moments in your life when you and God are very much in sync and you know firsthand that Great Things Happen (↔ Music Link) when God mixes with us!

Belovéd, we are chosen for greatness in and through Love. Isn’t that great?

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – October 9, 2020 – The Few and the Many

2041AFC100920 – The Few and the Many

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

    Matthew 22:14 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 20:16 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen. World English Bible (WEB)  by Public Domain.

Matthew 20:28 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Today I ask you to look at The Parable of the King’s Wedding Feast. In this parable, Jesus tells about a King who prepared an elaborate wedding banquet. Many guests were invited. I described this a few years ago in “1343AFC102513 – Accountability?”, and I’m going to put just a few lines of that post here:

In the Parable of the King’s Wedding Feast in Matthew 22:1-14, the King’s invited guests snubbed him, so he ordered his servants to bring in strangers, stragglers, and seat them for the banquet. Then there is a strange incident of a man who did not wear a wedding garment. How could he? He was drafted as an impromptu guest. Yet the other impromptu guests were prepared. What does this mean? How does one prepare for the Wedding Banquet of our King? What is our “wedding garment?” First of all, it is our repentance. The man had not changed his apparel before entering the feast and for that he was kicked out. He was called but not chosen because he dishonored the call. He had not changed before entering the feast; the unrepentant also have not changed and are not prepared for the Wedding Banquet in Heaven. There’s no excuse for being unprepared because Christ the King has given us everything we need to enter in. This was a longstanding tradition for the Jews. Weddings went on for days, included much feasting and dancing, many gifts (including little crowns), and a wedding garment.

The family giving the wedding gave all the guests a special garment to wear at the wedding feast. One guy in this parable showed up without the freely-given garment; this was a terrible insult, worse even than those who were the first invited and then later refused to come to the wedding at all. The point of the lesson is that God give us everything we need, every “good and perfect gift,” to make it easier to answer his call. Many are called; not all accept. Who are “the many” who are called?

In our Key Verse section we see “many are called but few are chosen,” and “… to give his life a ransom for many.” This is another of those passages we often gloss over and don’t ponder its meaning. Now, for many, many years I figured Jesus Christ died for everyone and that all the world would be saved. That was kinda dumb, because it is not scriptural. I had placed my logic – faulty as it was – in The Most Famous Bible Passage. You know it by heart probably, or at least part of it. It looks like this:

John 3:13-19 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

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.

In my own “economy of the Scripture,” I thought, “Well, the whole World could be saved, but in actuality only those who believe will be saved.” Not everyone who hears the Word – and the Word is God’s call to repentance and salvation – will answer that call or respond to the Word by believing it. Those people will not be on the right side of eternity. But, why does Jesus keep saying “many?” Here’s another example, and a little better look at what “many” means:

Matthew 26:27-28 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many* for the forgiveness of sins.

* πολλῶν (pollon) from πολύς (polus) {pol-oos’} – signifies ‘many, numerous’; with the article it is said of a multitude as being numerous or abundant, plenteous; many, a large part of mankind. This is similar to the Hebrew word רַב (rab) {rab} – much, abundant, abounding, great or great in numbers. “Ah-HA,” he chortled with joy, “there it is!” There will be Salvation for all who believe, and there will be many who are saved. That is such GREAT news! Well, except for one thing. Those MANY, that multitude, that abundance of people is the group chosen, and they are described as “few.” Ooopsie. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” In the Good News Translation (GNT) for Matthew 22:14, it says “Many are invited but few are chosen.” If the chosen are a multitude, and “the last will be first, and the first last,” then what does that mean about the size of the group not chosen, not responding to the Word, not wearing the Wedding Garment for the King’s Banquet? If the many are the few, then all the rest must be … myriads? In Revelation 5:11 we read of “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” surrounding God’s Throne, the Four Living Creatures and the Elders. That expression is used to describe what cannot be numbered as in “billions upon billions,” or “gazillions and gazillions,” or a “googolplex with a googolplex.” (A googolplex is 1010 to the power of a googol. In other words, that’s 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 100. You could never write that down because it would take more time than the universe has existed and more paper than the universe could hold to write it down.) The multitude of believers is humongous, but compared to the group of nonbelievers, the believers are “The Few.” We could think of it like a math expression:

Many – Few = Myriads

The Many minus The Few = Myriads and Myriads

Well, that’s surprising. Or is it? In our society – the whole society of the World – we have a pretty lax view of what’s Good and what’s Evil. There’s a soft, wide, gray area between those opposites. Everything in Scripture tells us God doesn’t see it that way. From the moment Abram was chosen by El Shaddai-Olam to be the Patriarch of God’s Chosen People right up to the very second you are reading this sentence, myriads of souls have turned away from God. God chose Israel to be a light to the nations, a clear example of the power, the goodness, and the means by which God’s salvation will reach to the ends of the earth. (See Isaiah 49:1-6). The population of the Nation of Israel was few compared to the population of the many nations outside of Israel. It was and is the mission of Israel to demonstrate God’s lovingkindness – his Mercy and Grace – and to be the agent of God’s plan for Salvation – the Advent of God’s Messiah. What does this mean for “we few” who follow Christ?

We are called (invited? Yea, commanded) to carry on the mission of Israel. We must be the light that drives away the darkness and draws all to God’s Perfect Integrity, Endless Mercy and Eternal Salvation through Christ Our Lord. We are called to witness, to testify, to be Μάρτυς (martus) {mar’-toos}  meaning a witness; an eye- or ear-witness; one who testifies. You may recognize it as the root of the English word martyr. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to … .” To do what? To carry The Light to the Nations is just one thing – and there are few who take up that mission. Those who do so find they are carrying a cross of their own making to a death of their own choosing. The question before us, then, is “Will that death lead to eternal Life or eternal Death?” Can we be “the few, the humble, the faithful?” Are we ready, willing, and able to be Priest, Prophet, and King “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”? (See 1 Peter 2:9) We are the few, and we can be the chosen if we testify. What comes of that Nation who lives for and serves God? Look what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:2-6 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

We, the few, are called through Grace upon Grace (← Check it out!). That is enough. Let’s put on our gift of his Wedding Garment and head for the Banquet Hall. We Are Called. (↔ Music Link) Our best response is “Hear I Am, Lord.” (↔ Music Link) And meanwhile, let us also go out to the byways, alleys, and streets and bring in the many who are called but refused to answer. Who knows how many – or how few – of them will also accept a wedding garment? You are 100% correct! God knows, and he’s counting on us to make it happen.

READ THIS: Isaiah 59:10-15!

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

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – October 2, 2020 – Think about these things

2040AFC100220 – Think about these things

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

    Philippians 4:6-9 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, Belovéd, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Today will be another session that is mostly Scripture. The question to be dealt with is, “What can we do?” There is so much anger, turmoil, even outright evil happening today. What are we to do about that? What do we think about what’s happening? What are we doing to change it? Perhaps the most important question we should be asking is, “How did we arrive at this?!?! Let’s start with admitting that all of this is nothing new.

Ecclesiastes 1:9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. As I researched this, I remembered a snippet from a sermon for long ago: “When Adam bit the apple, he got the bite with the worm in it – the worm of death.” We know that sin and death are inextricably linked. The sin and evil, the chaos and destruction, the hopelessness and anger by which we are surrounded are not unprecedented. Perhaps the only precedent we are experiencing is the magnitude of these things, a magnitude that is reminiscent of the 430 years Israel was incubating in Egypt while Canaan devolved into absolute putrefaction. When with America hit that mark? Are we there yet? Let’s look back to what the Lord said to Abram in Genesis 15:13-16 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; 14 but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” God says he will not drive out the Amorites until they become so wicked that all hope of repentance and redemption is lost and they must be punished. I know there are people reading this that think perhaps all of these goings-on are God’s punishment. I’ll not try to counsel God, so I’m just going to say that if that’s what he has in mind, I’m all for it. Even if this is “just the birth pangs” before things go completely destructo-mite, I believe and accept that none of this could happen without God allowing it. I do wonder, though, if we might be coming up on that demarcation-line where God says, “Well, that’s it. You’re done. There’s nothing new under the sun, you know.”

In that case, there’s a passage from the Prophet Micah that we might want to look into: Micah 7:2-7 The faithful have disappeared from the land, and there is no one left who is upright; they all lie in wait for blood, and they hunt each other with nets. Their hands are skilled to do evil; the official and the judge ask for a bribe, and the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of their sentinels, of their punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household. But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Does that sound familiar? It’s a bit like what’s going on today, I submit. It might sound familiar because Jesus quoted this passage referring to himself in Luke 12:48c-5348c “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given. 49 I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to receive, and how distressed I am until it is over! 51 Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division. 52 From now on a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 Fathers will be against their sons, and sons against their fathers; mothers will be against their daughters, and daughters against their mothers; mothers-in-law will be against their daughters-in-law, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law.” Good News Translation (GNT)[1] As individuals, we know we are blessed with much, and hopefully we thank and honor God for all our gifts – our charisms – by accepting and using those gifts. We who love and serve the Lord should know that’s doing the right thing. It is those who do not love and serve the Lord that seem to be bringing us closer to the fullness of iniquity. Have the faithful truly disappeared? Are they just too silent, too hidden, too complacent perhaps? Some view the World as being afire with the Holy Spirit. Others say the Holy Spirit as left the World, left the Church, and left us to await the Doom ahead brought on by the godless heathens who are destroying all that is good. Where is the wisdom we need to turn this around?

I truly hope you are recalling the several times we have mentioned James 1:5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. Sometimes we are unwilling to pay the price for Wisdom. God does give it generously to all who ask, so how can there be a price for it? The price we pay is to use the Gifts with which God graces us. The Gifts are ours to use or lose. When we use those gifts, we profit by that. When we disdain those gifts … well, let’s just say there’s no profit in that. Here’s one way to look at it:  Sirach 4:11-18 11 Wisdom takes care of those who look for her; she raises them to greatness. 12 Loving her is loving life itself; rising early to look for her is pure joy. 13 Anyone who obtains Wisdom will be greatly honored. Wherever he goes, the Lord will bless him. 14 Wisdom’s servants are the servants of the Holy One, and the Lord loves everyone who loves her. 15 Those who obey her will give sound judgments; those who pay attention to her have true security. 16 Put your trust in Wisdom, and you will possess her and pass her on to your descendants. 17 At first, Wisdom will lead you along difficult paths. She will make you so afraid that you will think you cannot go on. The discipline she demands will be tormenting, and she will put you to the test with her requirements until she trusts you completely. 18 Then she will come to you with no delay, reveal her secrets to you, and make you happy.

So, Belovéd, what would Wisdom tell us in this current mess we’re in? Wisdom will tell us that patience is the virtue of the Wise. The Worldly will watch as the righteous’ lives end and believe they have triumphed. But see here what Wisdom says of that:

Wisdom 4:16-17 16 The righteous who have died will condemn the ungodly who are living, and youth that is quickly perfected [ended] will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous. 17 For they will see the end of the wise, and will not understand what the Lord purposed for them, and for what he kept them safe. Is the Parousia just around the corner? Will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth where there is now rebellion and desecration? Belovéd, you’ve heard this before: “God knows, but he’s not tellin’.” What do we do? We live in the Promise. We trust in the Lord. We do the right thing. We test the spirits; which spirits produce things that are good, and which spirits produce things that are bad? We seek Wisdom and her discipline. We honor the Giver by accepting the Gift. We pray for the hearts and minds that are deceived. We discern what is good, and follow all that points to the Love of God in Christ Jesus. We never, never, never, never give up Hope! We place Faith as our mast, and Love as our sail, and with Wisdom as our rudder we follow the course laid out in Scripture. We stop all the worry, because Why worry when you can pray? (↔ Music Link). Here is the secret to finding that Wisdom:

     Finally, Belovéd, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. We know these things are true because We Have Been Told (↔ Music Link). Jesus has overcome the World, and the World cannot overcome us when we are in Jesus. Remember John 16:33 33 “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” Remember also that the Apostle John has told us in 1 John 4:1-6 41 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess* Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. *Literally dissolves, annuls, or severs.

Stick with the good stuff and you’ll be much better off. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a lie. If it sounds like it’s not true, don’t go there, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Now that’s Wisdom!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —
at your service, Belovéd!
Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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

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

 

[1]  Scripture quotations marked (GNT) are from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission

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Aloha Friday Message – September 25, 2020 – Do Our Minds Mind?

2039AFC092520 – Do Our Minds Mind?

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

    Philippians 2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus 

    Colossians 3:2-4 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. My family and I thank you for the many comments of support made as we celebrate the Life of Paula Lee Belau-Todd. Such expressions of love and caring are deeply appreciated and demonstrate how we can indeed be like-minded in things that are important to everyone’s heart. Being like-minded can be pretty tough these days. There’s an old adage about not having too coins to rub together; it is an expression of extreme poverty. Today, I feel we can paraphrase that by saying some folks haven’t two kind thoughts to rub together. I heard another paraphrase regarding all the violence surrounding us that said something about two brain cells. It is very difficult in some places to find someone with whom we agree on virtually everything. I’d like to pursue that a bit today, so let’s start off with some of the ways we use “mind.” I was surprised at how may idioms there are that are based on that word. Here we go!

Mind – Noun

  1. Awareness of self to think, feel, choose
  2. Intellect
  3. Attention or attentiveness
  4. The seat of reason, remembrance, and imagination

Mind – Verb

  1. Care, object, careful
  2. Show concern; ascribe importance
  3. Express cautionary warning
  4. Obedience and/or remembrance
  5. Watch over
  6. Follow an inclination to act

And we all recognize these expressions:

  • Bear in mind – apply learned precepts to actions
  • Be of two minds – duplicitous, uncertain, indecisive
  • Be of one mind – concurrence, share an opinion, consensus
  • Closed mind – decline to acknowledge or consider
  • Come to mind – to remember or create a thought or idea
  • Don’t mind – accept an offer
  • A piece of mind – usually an angry castigation
  • Peace of mind – resolution or acceptance
  • A mind to act – an inclination to behave in a certain way
  • In my mind’s eye – imagined view or viewpoint
  • On my mind – reoccupied with someone or something
  • Out of my mind – crazy, loss of mental sense

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Do you mind? Why won’t you mind? Mind your manners. Make up your mind. Mind your P’s and Q’s. Mind the cat. Mind your parents. Don’t mind me. Mind if I cut in? Don’t you mind? My mind is blank. Keep in mind what I said.

That last one, for me, is a keeper because in it I hear Jesus talking to my heart and my mind. “Remember what I told you.” “Do this in remembrance of me.” And the most important thing he said:

John 13:34 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. And John 15:12 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

I’m going to pull up something from 1844AFC110218 – Me First that addresses that. I invite you to follow that link to see the full context.

Leviticus 19:18b … you shall love your neighbor as yourself

Romans 13:8b … the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Which is the above commandment in Leviticus.)

1 John 3:11 11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 Corinthians 16:14 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:16 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.

What, then, is the same mind – the same attitude some translations say – that was in Christ? “Love each other as I have loved you.”  When he says “as I have” it means just as, or in the same way asin Greek καθὼς [kathos] (kath-oce) – in exactly the same manner, to precisely the same degree, to the complete extent, and in a way that is identical to HIS LOVE. We could go back to the identity expression we have used in the past when we said

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

We can therefore understand Jesus is telling us it should be

YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER MY LOVE FOR YOU

This is a tough one for anyone to deal with, especially one who takes seriously (or at least makes an honest effort to) the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” I am here to tell you that if I am to be the measuring stick of love, most of the rest of the world is not going to appreciate the way I love them; I’m not particularly fond of me most days, and that makes the folks around me come up a bit short of what love they deserve. I came to a little better resolution of this question – how do I love me – in C. S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. In Book 3, Chapters 7 & 9,  Lewis discusses how this kind of love does not necessarily mean we view our enemy as a nice person. In fact, if we are going to lovingly forgive (or forgivingly love) or enemies, we have to lovingly forgive the main operator in this transaction: Us. If I cannot forgive me, cannot love me, cannot be in the same room as me without being completely irritated by being stuck with ME, then I can be pretty sure that genuinely loving someone else who irritates me is going to be such a big challenge that I will certainly see the value of “throwing in the towel.”

I cannot in good conscience do that because it means giving up on the Love and Forgiveness I have in Christ Jesus. This is because we must remember that Love is not a feeling – it is an action. I may not feel all that good about my own behavior or feel affection for some rioter tearing about town like a maniac, but I can desire to think well of myself for at least trying to do the right thing. That is loving myself by wanting what is best for my well-being – or to put it more clearly, I love myself best when I do things for me that make me well. If we think about that, we can love our neighbors in that same way – we work for those things which will keep them well. I don’t (probably won’t) claim an anarchist as a bosom buddy, but s/he can certainly be included in my prayers for Peace, for understanding among all persons and Peoples, and thereby be valued as created by God. If God values that person, so must I. Except, I forget that way too often!

When I forget to love others as Christ has loved them, always looking for the Good in and for them, I do not simply overlook their failings and run over to give them a hug. We know that, for some folks, that is the very thing they abhor because, as the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus, Titus 1:15 15 To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. We think differently, and – wouldn’t you know it – the Apostle Paul covers that as well in Philippians 3:14-16 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. Do you ever find that all the truly difficult things going on around the World just occupy your thoughts nearly constantly? Wouldn’t it be great if we had something or someone else to keep in mind? How about this? Colossians 3:2-4 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. We are, in these perilous times, assaulted from every side by evil, by natural and man-made disasters, by disease, war, famine, fear, and even by our own consciences. It can seem as if this is the worst the World has ever been, and that if it got any worse, it would surely trigger “The Last Days,” that eschatological event every Christian expects (and probably, because of conscience, dreads). I’m going to stick in another link here because it will lead you to a 16-verse passage I entreat you to read: Romans 1:16-32. I posted that passage to Facebook last week; it was pretty much ignored. Nonetheless, if you will (PLEASE) read it, you will recognize many of the things that are happening right now, today, right in our midst. The sort of people who do the things the Apostle Paul describes in that passage live all around us. Some of them are family members, some of them are friends, some of them are neighbors, and – most regrettably – some of them are us. What then shall we do, or what can we do?

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.Love one another as I have loved you.” (↔ Music Link) We must not give our hearts over to feelings of compassion that stop just short of being love-in-action. Instead, we must and can press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Do you mind doing that for yourself? Would you mind doing that for me? Can we, together, mind what Jesus said about Love? Do our minds mind – do they matter, do they obey, do they love, do they help hope … do they? To master the question of how our hearts and minds can be held in that Peace which surpasses all understanding (← Check it out!), we can all benefit from this very powerful prayer which millions use every day to reaffirm the Love of God, the love of self, and the love of one another:

Belovéd, do you mind sharing this post with other minds? Thanks. Because  14 Let all that you do be done in love.

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

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

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

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

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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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