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

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

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

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

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

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share-A-Prayer

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

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

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

chick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love in Christ,

Chick

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 10, 2018 – I AM COME

1832AFC081018 – I AM, COME

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

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! As I write this we are delighting in the Lord’s Providence that hurricane Hector continues past our fair state without stopping by for a visit. To be sure, there are some effects but nothing catastrophic. We thank God for that. Our El Shaddai-Olam, the GREAT I AM, generously gives his Only Begotten Son so whosoever would believe in him might live forever in the Father’s House of many mansions. Jesus reminded his followers – including us, Belovéd – that he, Jesus, is the Christ of God. The reminders he gave us came in the form of seven remarkable statements in the Gospel of John that affirmed he is the Son of The Living God. (See Matthew 16:16 for Peter’s declaration) Today we are going to look back at those statements and think about why Jesus came; why did he say “I AM come?” (Also translated as “I came.”)

I also want to pass along a tip for the Scripture links I provide. If you follow the link, you will see 3-4 translations displayed. This can sometimes be difficult to read on a small screen like an iPhone. You can click on the CLOSE box [X] to eliminate one (or more) of the versions displayed. Also, if you’d like to look for another version with which you may be familiar, you can click on the DROP-DOWN box and scroll through dozens of translations. Here is an illustration:

 

 

 

 

  Isaiah 54:13 13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the prosperity of your children.

John 6:45 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.

I am often saddened and perplexed by fellow earthlings who claim they do not know why Jesus is God, or do not understand why he was sent by God for them. Some folks even claim that Jesus didn’t know why he was here, what he was doing, or why he had to die. This is simply balderdash – hogwash, garbage, nonsense, bunkum, and a genuine lie from the father of lies. We are just going to go ahead and list a bouquet of Bible verses that show Jesus not only knew he was the Son of the Living God (and his Disciples confessed that as well), but that he knew why he was sent to us, and how it would change the World for those who choose to respond to his Father’s beckoning. All of these statements are in the Gospel of John. Jesus is the Son of the Great I AM who came to restore us to the presence of his Father, the Almighty Ever Living God – El Shaddai-Olam. Let’s listen to what Jesus says about his connection with his Father and with us.

In the Gospel of John, there are 7 distinct statements Jesus makes which all begin with “I AM.” These statements are significant for thousands of reasons (at least thousands of sermons and homilies, articles, essays, and tracts have been written about them). One of the most significant reasons is that the structure – in Greek – of the statements is a bit unusual. It is a little like the intensive form we sometimes see in a statement that combines two pronouns for emphasis such as I myself. What we see – in Greek and in Latin translations – is Ἐγώ εἰμι ≡ I am me …. Ego sum (I am) ≡ Me, I am … This intensive/emphatic form carries a very clear message; it leaves no doubt about excluding everyone but Jesus from the claim about to be made. Combining that intensive pronoun with a definitive article “the” makes a very strong statement: “I myself am specifically and only this.” I AM WHO AM or I AM THAT I AM: YHWH.

So, here is a list of the statements:

Seven I AM Statements
I AM …
The Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48-51)
The Light of the World (John 8:12)
The Gate (John 10:9)
The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6)
The True Vine (John 15:1 & 5)

I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE – Jesus begins his sustaining relationship with the citizens of the Kingdom of God the same way his Father did: With Bread. God revealed the power of his love by providing bread – Manna – in the desert. Manna sustained life, but only in a temporal, ephemeral way. People still got hungry the next day and needed more manna. And even after eating manna for many, many days, people also eventually died. Jesus says that he is the Living Bread come down from Heaven (John 6:51). And this Living Bread sustains eternal life. While Israel had manna in the desert to sustain their corporeal lives, Jesus alone (I AM) can sustain Spiritual Life, Life as known only in God and by God, but now made available to us through Jesus. Through Jesus we are transformed so that we will also know Life in God as God knows Life. Only Jesus can do this because he is the only truly begotten son of I AM. Remember? That was the NAME YHWH, and the use of that style of speaking – this intensive/emphatic form – was (and is) the way God speaks. So not only do we have Jesus demonstrating that he and he alone can rightfully claim to be the Bread of Life, but his statement also asserts his Deity by identifying with YHWH – I AM. The Apostle John is stating something that would have been very clear to Jesus’ listeners, but it would also be very extraordinary. They even say, “How can he say he came down from heaven?” This was a mind-blowing statement, and the ones that followed were even more remarkable.

I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. LIGHT is a strong recurring theme in the Gospel of John. Take a look:

  • John 1:4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
  • John 3:1919 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.
  • John 9:5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  • John 12:35-3635 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
  • John 12:4646 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

Jesus was speaking in the part of the Temple where the offerings were put (John 8:20), where candles burned to symbolize the pillar of fire that led the people of Israel through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22). In this context, Jesus called himself the Light of the world. The pillar of fire represented God’s presence, protection, and guidance. Jesus brings God’s presence, protection, and guidance. Is he the Light of your world?

I AM THE GATE. In Jesus’ time and place sheep were the source for precious staples such as wool, milk, and meat. They were not raised for slaughter only, but were counted as a resource, as wealth. They were certainly worth protecting, so they were usually penned in. On the pen, there was only one doorway in the wall. Since the sheep were valuable, often the shepherd slept in the doorway – he was, in fact, THE door! Once again, Jesus is confronting the Pharisees. In the previous chapter (9) Jesus had healed a blind man using clay made from dirt and his own spit. They are questioning the blind man and claiming he is a liar and even accuse Jesus of being a sinner. Jesus testifies that the blind man has seen “the Son of Man.” Jesus uses this metaphor of the sheepfold to illustrate that the safety, security, protection, and care given to sheep by a lowly shepherd is possible because the shepherd becomes the barrier between the sheep and the dangers outside the sheepfold.

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Jesus intensifies his metaphor by showing that the Gate or Door) is the Shepherd, and a Good Shepherd at that. He, literally, lays down his life to protect the sheep. In this we see another sharp contrast between Jesus and the Pharisees. They were supposed to be the “Shepherds of Israel” – spiritually that is – and they were anything but good. They are acting like the hired-hand who doesn’t really have anything of himself invested in the sheep or the sheepfold. To him they are just dumb animals, and in a similar way, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of not caring for the people of Israel. The Pharisees would sacrifice nothing of themselves for the people, yet Jesus is preparing to “lay down his life for the sheep.” Not just for the sheep in the sheepfold of Israel does he do this, but he says it is also done for “sheep of another pen” (The gentiles, see John 10:16)

I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. Here, Jesus is talking to Martha, the sister of Lazarus. She believes he is talking about the end-of-the-world resurrection. In a matter of minutes Jesus fully validates his statement by calling Lazarus out of the tomb. Jesus gives a very powerful object lesson: I AM The Resurrection. Death is no longer a final obstruction. I AM the Life. The Life in Jesus is not constrained by any temporal bounds; it is eternal. Jesus shows all present that he has a supernatural and divine authority that reigns with unquestionable supremacy over even death. As we later learned, that supremacy covered even his own death.

I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. Back in 2011, we touched on the meaning of this statement while discussing the floor plan of the Temple, particularly the Sanctuary and Holy of Holies. Pop back there for a look if you don’t recall it. In this statement, the heaviest emphasis is on the first part, The Way. He is talking about the path to Salvation, for he says, “No man comes to the Father except through me.” Each of these elements is distinctly separate and unique, but all three share this in common: All three refer exclusively to Jesus, and work together to disclose his divinity. Jesus says he is The Truth, not just someone who knows, or teaches, or exemplifies truth. He is The Truth, that is Jesus and Truth are identical. Therefore what he says and does is True because it is what God has ordained for Jesus’ purpose. Then he says he is The Life, and here again we see that it identifies his divinity, his oneness with God the Father who created us and everything around us out to the edges of creation (if such a thing exists and an edge of creation). As The Way and the Truth, he is the point of mediation and expiation the point at which the loops of the infinity symbol cross and these – the Way and The Truth – tie humanity together as recipients of God’s Gracious Mercy. As The Life, Jesus connects us – through and in him – to and for God the Father thus making it possible for God to “be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), because “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

I AM THE TRUE VINE. In Psalm 80:8 we read, “You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.” The vine, of course, was Israel and it was transplanted into a better soil – a land of milk and honey – from which Israel with God’s help and direction had cleared the land of its former noxious inhabitants. Once transplanted, a vine draws moisture and nutrients from the earth and the sky, in a way uniting them. The stalk of the vine divides in smaller and smaller portions out to all the tips of the tendrils, leaves, and finally the fruit. It gives this nourishment to all without interruption. Any leaf, any tendril, any branch, or twig that is connected to the vine is connected to the roots. Jesus is the Divine vine that unites heaven and earth, and his father is the vinedresser. Jesus is the source of all Life in his disciples (including us), and through him we receive the grace and energy to become fruitful in holiness. And it is God the Father who prunes – cleans and cares for the vine. There’s something important about this I want you to know, and it has to do with pruning grape vines:

If a grape vine is not properly pruned, it will “overproduce.” It will make a huge number of buds and leaves, so many in fact that it cannot support the fruit that comes from this explosion of vegetation. When purging, the master of the vineyard cuts away all but 2-5% of the remaining growth from the previous year! Only 2-5% is left. Think about that. If the vine is left without pruning a second year, the fruit it produces will be of poor quality, the grape clusters will be sprawling and disheveled, and not much of the fruit will actually ripen. Even if some of the fruit ripens, the vine pours so much energy into producing the fruit that the production of leaves and woody-stalk is diminished.

If you’re going to stay connected to The True Vine, you are going to be expected to “bear fruit that will last,” and for that 90-95% must be pruned away. 90-95%, Beloved. Wouldn’t we all love to get rid of 90-95% of the things that keep us from being fruitful?

So we have covered these statements. All of them affirm the identity of Jesus as the Christ of God. They confirm his divinity, his mission, and his eternal role in creation, salvation, and reconciliation. Jesus is Truly the I AM because he is Truly YHWH. In the Aramaic Bible in Plain English this last passage reads “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The True Vine, and my Father is the vine dresser.” Amen, to that. Come, I AM, and be our God and Redeemer. We know that has been revealed and is real because we have been taught by God.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 3, 2017 – Day-Old Bread

1831AFC080318 – Day-Old Bread

Last week’s index number was mistakenly entered as 1831AFC080318. It should have been 1830AFC072718 – A Heart’s Desire.

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  Psalm 78:25 25 Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Wow, time is really flying! Yesterday was August 2, an important day in our family for two reasons. First it is the birthday of Merilee Alice Todd. Born in 1953, she’d be 65 this week. We miss our sister, the only girl in a family with six kids. She left this world to be with our mom and dad on August 28, 2006 at age 53. And, it was on her birthday in 2008 that David Earl Conrad, the Choir Master at Kauaʻi High School went to meet our Maker. Both died due to massive heart attacks. Both were greatly loved by just about everyone. If they had met each other, they would have been great friends here, so we’re pretty confident they’ve been friends there for quite some time. Remembering her brings up a lot of images from the past, and as I was preparing this message, one image in particular popped up. Here it is:

This is a King Soopers Grocery Store. It was one of the places we frequented to buy “day-old bread.” The grocer would fill at least one shopping cart with discounted bread. We arrived as a strike-team – swoop into the store (it had a turnstile entry like a subway station) and head for the “bread baskets.” One of us would grab an empty shopping cart and the others would start gathering (crabbing was more like it) loaves of bread and we’d toss it over to the sibling guarding the cart. We were rarely the only family doing this, so competition was pretty fierce. Merilee could hold her own in that mêlée, and because she was small, she could slip under the turnstile and get in good position while the empty cart was brought in. This was especially important during the school year, because with six kids eating 1-2 sandwiches a day, we went through a LOT of bread! We used to make up dozens (seemed like hundreds) of sandwiches all at once – using our day-old bread – and put them in waxed paper sandwich bags, stack’em into shoe boxes, and stuff’em in the freezer. That way, all you had to do was go to the freezer, grab your sandwich(es), get an apple from the bin under the stairs, pick up a few chips, and some of mom’s homemade cookies, and lunch was ready. Of course by the time lunch hour came around, the sandwich had mostly defrosted and it was really soggy with little ice-crystals here and there. We mostly made bologna salad and egg salad as I recall. Even the lettuce – if we had some to put in – defrosted and was pretty wilted and tasteless. BUT, we had a lunch and it filled us up, and that was that.

This memory comes to mind because of the content of the Scripture for this Sunday and last Sunday. Last Sunday, Jesus fed 5,000+ people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. You remember how that turned out, don’t you? Matthew 14:20 20 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. There certainly was an abundance of food. Last week we commented that God always gives us so much of anything we need that we always have enough for ourselves plus some to share. In today’s key verse, the Psalmist recalls the gift from God to the Israelites in the desert: Manna, the bread of the Mighty Ones. If we take a look at a few of the words in that passage, we can gain some good insights into how the LORD likes to do things:

  1. Bread – לֶ֣חֶם (lechem) { lekh’-em} bread; also connotatively, food – especially satisfying food.
  2. Angels – a אַ֭בִּירִים (’abbîrîm) from אַבִּיר (abbir) {ab-beer’} mighty, valiant, Stallions(!), valiant steeds, the mighty ones, and in this case, Angels.
  3. Abundance – לָשֹֽׂבַע׃ (lā-śō-ḇa‘) from שֹׂ֫בַע (soba) {so’-bah} satiety, abundance, fullness, fully satisfied, enough to have plenty plus leftovers.

Jesus’ miracles of feeding thousands of people with the contents of one single meal resonate with the history of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years (See Exodus 16:35). God supplied them with manna all of that time and there was always enough. Those who gathered much and those who gathered little had enough. You will enjoy reading this passage about the manna in Exodus 16. Each had enough to eat; if there was more than could be finished, they had to discard it. If they tried to save some for the next day, it rotted and got all wormy. They could gather enough for the whole family every day. The was one exception: They could gather two day’s worth before the Sabbath so they would not have to work at gathering on the Sabbath; however it had to be boiled or baked. This “bread from Heaven” never had a chance to become day-old bread because it was consumed as- and when-needed. God also provided meat – quail – which came to them for the evening meal. God had heard enough of their wailing and whining and decided to give them reason to stop grumbling.

Even with the abundance of manna, they complained that they should never have left Egypt. There they had food, and meat, and melons and cucumbers, and certainly much more than just MANNA. This is recalled in the Psalms here: Psalm 105:40 40 They asked, and he brought quails, and gave them food from heaven in abundance. God had a pretty good idea there! He told them, “If you don’t stop grumbling about my provision for you, you’ll be sorry.” He told them they’d have to eat quail for a monthuntil it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.” (See Numbers 11:18-20) It’s a pretty clear reminder that later got translated at family dinner tables as “eat what you’re given or go without!” You know, in a way, God says that to us about Jesus, too.

John 6:32-35 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. That’s prefigured for us in Exodus 16:31, scripture tells us they called it מָ֑ן (man) {mawn} which means “What (is it)?” According to the accounts of their wanderings in the desert, they had it available to them – along with the quail – for 40 years. It could be prepared several ways – baked, boiled, ground into flour and made into cakes/loaves of bread. It was always there, always fresh, and always the same. Jesus is always here, always fresh, always the same FOREVER. Jesus DOESN’T GET OLD. Loving Jesus never gets old. Being loved by Jesus never gets old. We can never take in so much of him that he becomes loathsome to us. His flesh is true (perfect) food and is blood is true (perfect) drink. This means that, as bread becomes fully assimilated – completely incorporated – into our living bodies, it is the same for Christ Jesus who becomes fully assimilated into our souls as part of the Divine presence. The Manna which came down from Heaven into the wilderness sustained the bodies of the Israelites, but not the souls. Jesus, the Bread come down from Heaven feeds us the source of all life – God. God is the Father of Life. Jesus is the Deliverer of Life who announces the Salvation of God through the conquest of Death. We literally become what we eat because he says “for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

I think God tells us there is no way we can gather an excess of his Grace, for even though our need for Grace is immense, God’s store of Grace is infinitely larger. Remember what he told Paul: “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” There’s always just enough, never too little and never too much. It’s always just Right for he himself is Righteousness. And what did Jesus say about those of us who want that Righteousness? Matthew 5:6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Fresh Bread from Heaven is yours! Just open up your heart and tell God, “Fill’er up!”

Why is there “day-old” bread? That’s easy to figure out isn’t it? More bread was baked than could be sold. Instead of hoarding it or discarding it, the grocer and/or baker give the buyer a discount. This kind of abundance is not like God’s kind of abundance. God blesses us in great measure with everything we need – so much that we have ways to help meet the needs of others. Jesus tells his Disciples – and us – that he is the true bread sent down from Heaven. I am baffled and saddened when people turn down the Bread from Heaven so they can chew on the sand in the Wilderness. In the passage from Exodus, the Israelites had been on their trek for about six weeks. They were hungry, tired, and pretty cranky. The exultant nation – just starting to get itself together – was already out of patience, and also out of the corn they had brought with them. They began to distrust Moses. Why did Moses come for them? Because God sent him. Why did Jesus come here? Because God sent him. What are the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus accomplishing in you and in me this very moment? What do we believe? We should believe that it was his Father’s will that everyone who looks upon Jesus and believes in him will have eternal life and will be raised up on the last day. (Verse 40) In verse 47 he says, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.” The food that does not perish is the eternal food, the Christ of God! That is why for thousands of years Christians have proclaimed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Believing is how we internalize the power of the Resurrection. Just as we internalize food and beverages by eating and drinking, we internalize the sacrifice of Jesus’ body broken for our sins and Jesus’ blood poured out for our salvation by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Eating and drinking mean believing! How can we find the faith to truly believe?

Jesus himself tells us the answer and then provides the answer in verse 63: Life is spiritual. Your physical existence doesn’t contribute to that life. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. They are life! If we try to understand the power of Communion by using worldly parameters, it makes no sense. We walk away grumbling, as did Jesus’ contemporaries and just as the Israelites did in the desert. The Perfect Food that preserved their lives for a whole generation was right outside their door every morning. The perfect food that brings eternal life is right at the door of our hearts every moment. Even after forty years of manna, manna, manna, Israel lived on manna and the word of God through faith, trust, and obedience. Who among us would prefer to chew on sand and sticks and rocks and roots rather have the manna of the Body and Blood of Christ? Don’t settle for day-old bread! Go get your manna!

Do you have manna, manna, manna every day? Then you should be happy, happy, happy every day! Come on, sing along with me! Manna in the morning, manna in the noontime, manna at supper time! The joy of sharing in the Eucharist, Holy Communion, is an even greater joy!! Opening the Word and devouring it every day? Fantabulous!! What do you think? Manna, manna, manna? How about

MA-NA-MA-NAH! Doot-doo-didoo-doot!! ( Music Link)

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 27, 2018 – A Heart’s Desire

1830AFC072718 – A Heart’s Desire

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  Psalm 145:16 16 You open your hand,
satisfying the desire* of every living thing.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Are you well today? Are you happy today? Are you wealthy today? Are you delighted today? Do you posses all that you desire today? Are you unwell today? Are you unhappy today? Are you disappointed today? Do you lack anything that you desire today? What do you, do I, do we desire and how to we acquire and/or squander those things? Let’s begin by looking at the Scriptural idea of desire: *In this passage it is רָצֽוֹן׃ (rā-ṣō-wn) {raw-tsone’} meaning that which is acceptable, delightful, pleasurable, that which our will anticipates, favorable, that which fully satisfies, the completion of fulfillment.

Today’s Key Verse is the Psalmist’s reminder to us that everything is in God’s control; he has his hand in every thought, word, deed, and need. This passage is one of those instances where the Omnibenevolence of God is acknowledged and praised. Because it speaks of “desire” and “heart” in a single breath, it is often tied to this passage:

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires** of your heart.

**In this passage the word for desire is מִשְׁאֲלֹ֥ת (miš-’ă-lōṯ) from (mishalah) {mish-aw-law’} meaning request, petition, desire, want, need, yearning, aspiration. Both of these passages describe the merciful kindness of God as he generously gives us everything we need. Perhaps like me you have learned that sometimes I cannot make room for the things I need because I am holding on too tightly to the things I want.

From Psalm 119:4You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently – which I had heard many times, I eventually came to understand that “my heart’s desire” did not properly come from within my heart; it was placed within my heart by God. When I made enough room in my life for God to load me up with his gifts, he did not give me – has not given me, will not give me – the things my imagination craves because those things are usually not good for me. Instead, if I get rid of the junk, he places a treasure in me and invites me to use it. In short, if I walk the talk, I get the fullness of his bounteousness. If our hearts desire what we need, all our needs are always fully met.

Not long ago I came across a statement attributed to Frank Sinatra. I feel it probably came from St. Augustine or St. Vincent de Paul, but I haven’t been able to locate it that way. Frank allegedly said, “If you possess something but you can’t give it away, then you don’t possess it – it possesses you.” This reminds me of one of my favorite “Little One-Liners”: Life is our greatest treasure because it is given to us expressly for the purpose of losing it, and how well we do that is what makes all the difference.

When we get to the point where it finally dawns on us that all – yes ALL – of the gifts we accept from God are meant to be given away and that all the gifts we accept from the World are meant to be hoarded, then we are mature enough to realize that we have to find our happiness in our needs being met, not in our wants being gratified. So many times we hear, “If you have your health, that’s everything.” Yet, how many of us are satisfied with health as our only possession? Beyond that, how many of us can actually claim to have our health? Honestly, how many people do we know who are perfectly (OK, nearly-perfectly) healthy? If that’s everything, does that mean that those of us who do not have our health have nothing? Of course it doesn’t mean that! “What would it mean for you to win this competition?” “It would mean everything. It would mean the world to me. It would mean my life is finally changing for the better.” They don’t ask you, “What would it mean to you to lose this competition?” because no one wants to know what another loser feels like; we all know how it feels to be lost, or at a loss, or to lose something / anything / everything. Losing is as much a part of life as dying; BUT you do not lose anything you give away!

If it is your heart’s desire to be generous, you will receive your heart’s desire by being generous, not by being greedy. If it is your heart’s desire to have everything you what, you will have your heart’s desire by wanting everything you have. If it is your heart’s desire to be healthy, you will receive your heart’s desire by living healthily in hope – even if you are chronically ill. How can that be? All of us who are chronically ill know that one day we will be completely healed; it may not be made manifest in this world, but we know it is already manifested in the next! What is it we want in this World? In my experience, I think the Psalmist said it best in Psalm 73:25 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. What if God was and is and always will be our only desire? Wouldn’t everything else be “icing on the cake?” Wouldn’t that be Abundance on top of Plenty?

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

  Those who are satisfied with what the World has to offer do not respond to this call from God. They neither hunger nor thirst for righteousness – virtues, morality, decency, honesty; all these are commodities which could be used to buy worldly products, goods, services, and comforts. Instead, they accumulate that which is unrighteous and ultimately useless because “you can’t take it with you.” They have no expectation of anything greater than what they can possess. Even love itself becomes a possession that can be bought and sold, withheld, decorated, abused, and discarded. Everything is disposable. Only what-they-want-next has value. Everything they have has been bought with a price. And they fail to realize that they, too, have been bought with a price, and should not become slaves to the World. (See 1 Corinthians 7:23)  Thus inclined, they reject God’s offer of abundance, joy, and everlasting happiness. They have what they think they need because they have taken what they want. Don’t be like them. When you go out into the World, go to give away Christ to everyone you meet instead of meeting everyone to see what they will give you. This especially applies to your “Church Life.”

As our dear friend, Fr. Chuck Faso, says “When we exit the church, we enter the World. The signs in the church above the door could say ENTRANCE. We ‘go in Peace to serve the Lord and each other.'” We are sent at the end of every church service – Mass or otherwise – to take the peace from our visit with God, the teaching we received, and the energy from the nourishment of Word and Eucharist and to share all of that with the World. The purpose of that sharing is to take invitations to everyone who has not come into the Kingdom of God. We share what-we-have-become when we feed on the Word and on the Christ. It is the rest (peace and comfort) of the story (our life in God). We cherish the sacrament of nourishment so much that we cannot help but want to share it – if indeed we partake of it fully. What we share through our gifts to others and to the Church becomes the treasure laid up for us in Heaven. It is returned to us in full measure, shaken down, pressed together, and filled to overflowing (See Luke 6:38). The measure of return is God’s measure, better than ours, because his is always more generous. What he returns to us is always better than we can imagine, better than we deserve, and more than we can hold; it just flows out onto the people around us. No matter what trials we have, the blessings we receive make the trials seem more manageable by comparison.

What are our heart’s desires worth if they do not find satisfaction in knowing, loving, and serving God and each other? God’s hand is opening – not because of what we desire, but because of what HE desires. He desires that we should know that we have everything that is acceptable, delightful, pleasurable, all that which our will anticipates, whatever is favorable, and that which fully satisfies; in short, the completion of fulfillment. We are blessed with everything we need to the point of affluent abundance – our cups overflow and our desires are satisfied. God gives every living thing – from starfish to grass to old fuddy-duddies – everything they need to survive. For God’s earthlings he goes a step beyond if we but Commit our way to the Lord; trust in him and remember his precepts [are] to be kept diligently. Then we will have the desires of our heart because we desire only what we need.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 20, 2018 – Woe is us.

1829AFC072018 – Woe is us.

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

  Jeremiah 23:1 1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we are looking at a small excerpt from the book of the prophet Jeremiah. The opening word in this key verse is Woe. We sometimes think of that as a kind of antiquated word, as in “Woe is me!” it’s not really used very often in today’s American English, but it sure was used often in the Bible. I believe it is used well over 100 times in the NABRE. Many of those usages are in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah – two prophets who dealt with the period of Israel’s exile. Isaiah predicted its beginning and the intervention by Cyrus of Persia, and Jeremiah prophesies the destruction of Babylon and the restoration of Israel. These two fellows used the word “woe” a lot! Their prophecies – announcements of the LORD’s intent for humanity – are cited frequently in the New Testament as well. There was plenty of woe to go around, and these guys (and many others) pointed it out. I was surprised to see the man I most expected to use the word WOE – poor old Job – actually didn’t use it but once or twice (See Job 10:15 and Job 31:3 – the latter has destruction, punishment, and misfortune for the word woe). Let’s begin, then, with a close look at the word woe.

That would give us synonyms such as misery, sorrow, anguish, distress, sadness, unhappiness, despondency, despair, depression, regret, gloom, melancholy, and – in more modern terms – really bummed out. Another word that has a nearly equivalent connotation is alas. Alas for me, I am undone. Alas, all is lost! Alas, there is no more. Alas, our love has gone. In our Key Verse, we might have it read, “Alas for the shepherds destroying and scattering my sheep!” How unfortunate it will be for those who lead others astray. What sorrows await those who fail to see that goodness is done from all and in all!

As I read passages literally filled with woes, I realized there are woeful times for us, warnings of impending woe, in most of what I read. It isn’t just enough to say, “Woe is me!” It isn’t enough to say “Woe to us!” We must say, “Woe is us!”

I know a few of you use the links I give you to see the Scripture I recommend for your review. Please recall that this is the whole purpose of these essays – to get us to open up the Bible and actually hear it speaking to us in our hearts and minds. I’m going to give you a very short list of woes, and I encourage you to at least open the link and see how many different ways the calamities of disobedience and inattentiveness can fall upon us.

Isaiah 5:8-22
Matthew 23:13-26

Isaiah 45:9
Revelation 12:12

One passage in particular, and not in this list, is Jude 1:10-22. I’m going to share that with you in three parts because I think we can learn something there. In Jude 1:1-13, Jude states that he is writing to a certain Christians who were being infiltrated by teachers who claimed to have a different Gospel than the one preached by the Apostles. He compares them to predecessors who also taught errant doctrines, and then continues:

Jude 1:10-13 10 But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. 11 Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.* 12 These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever. *(See Numbers 16 Moses had urgently warned Korah and his supporters that these imposters should be shunned for they are about to die). The warning in Jude continues in the following:

Jude 1: 14-16 14 It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.

Here the author cites an apocryphal book (Enoch). We see that he states the Lord and his Saints (the Holy Ones) will come “to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” I was struck by the phrase deeds of ungodliness. This certainly applies to our modern culture of death where everything is disposable, nothing is true, and the value of even life itself is “negotiable.” The World is increasingly sharply-divided on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, social and economic justice, and the whole concept of universal morality and ethics. Relativism rules in all things, though not in all persons.

He continues with, 16 These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.” Sadly – woefully – wherever division takes hold, both (or should I say all?) sides claim the absolute right to make their position supreme as bombastically as possible. They are critical of everything and everyone whose “world view” differs from their own. Yet, in our hearts we know that all those pretentious assertions for all quarters cannot possibly all be right because they are so contradictory – often even internally contradictory! There is ONLY one Supreme Behavior that we should espouse: Godliness. But who among us can claim that for ourselves? At the very most, the answer would be “not many.”

The author of this Epistle goes on to say in Jude 1:17-22 17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to  eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering>

What phrase in that passage caught your eye? For me it was 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. (See other translations of Jude 1:19) In my view, things are being stirred up by those who love evil in the World – and especially in their lives – so that they can make the claim “No one has the right to judge me.” Belovéd, as you well know, that is not true. God will evaluate our actions. Christ will atone for those actions in which we failed to be obedient. What we need to do is to discern what is good and what is not good, between what is godly and what is ungodly. Hypocritical judgment is to be avoided. Sensible discernment is to be embraced. It is true that we are warned “Judge not lest ye be judged.” (See Matthew 7:1) those who quote that to us argumentatively often miss what follows in Matthew 7:2-5. We need to clean up our own act before we trounce someone else’s. The Apostle Paul tells us to “test all things.” (See 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 – especially verse 22). To “judge” means to separate, to distinguish, to make or come to a choice – to issue an opinion between what is right and what is wrong, and judgment is based on commonly held rules of law. If one throws out everyone else’s rules and insists on following one’s own, that is not judgment; that is folly. When we weigh events, people, and values in our own lives, do we judge what is right and wrong, or do we discern in our hearts what the Holy Spirit speaks? The difference is in being devoid of the Spirit for 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. Perhaps the worst, and potentially unforgivable, position is the self-righteous proclamation “You are utterly and unequivocally wrong and therefore worthless.” We don’t have the right to think like that.

You may recall the adage often attributed to Albert Einstein about judging a fish as incompetent because it cannot climb a tree. In the same way, we cannot condemn someone as utterly and unequivocally wrong and therefore worthless because they strongly support abortion, or believe people with different ethnicity, religion, or sexuality are an intolerable blight on humanity. We can however condemn those views, those tenets of their principles which we discern are not godly. Another version of that we often hear is, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Not entirely biblical, but certainly worth thinking about. To help you think about it, I’ll give you one other link and seriously implore you to read the whole passage: Romans 12. If you feel that’s too much to ask, just at least remember this from Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good. If we do that, it doesn’t have to be “Woe is us.” It can be “Blessed are they.” By doing so, we can avoid scattering the sheep of the LORD’s pasture. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to  eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering.

If any of us is convinced that it’s everyone else who is wrong, we may be among those wavering.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 13, 2018 – The Road that was Taken

1828AFC071318 – The Road that was Taken

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Mark 6:12-1312 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today I’m going to start out with 2 facts about Judas Iscariot. He was Jesus’ friend (see John 15:15), and he was instrumental in performing miracles (See Mark 6:7-13). Of course that was early in Jesus’ ministry, and many months before Judas surrendered to the promptings of the Devil. We know eventually he betrayed Jesus; that was the road he took. But, early on, he wasn’t like that.

As with the other Eleven, Judas was a participant in Jesus’ travels, his ministry, and even these “missionary Excursions” on which Jesus sent his followers. First, he sent out the 12 – the men we know as Apostles – ἀποστόλων (apostolōn) from ἀπόστολος (apostolos) {ap-os’-tol-os}. Judas may have been a follower of John the Baptist initially – along with Phillip, Andrew, and Simon – and perhaps went with them to follow Jesus. Judas was part of The Twelve as we read in Matthew 10:2-4 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;  Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. At an early point in Jesus ministry, we know that Jesus already knew those who did not believe in him and even knew Judas would betray him as we read in John 6:64-71 (← Use this link to see the following in context) 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil*.” 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
* διάβολός (diabolos) {dee-ab’-ol-os} – slanderer, false accuser, liar, maligner, one who condemns another with the malicious purpose of severing a relationship, back-biter, calumniator, a gossiping betrayer.

Jesus knew Judas’ nature. Jesus knew Judas would stay true to that nature. Jesus still kept him in his ministry and allowed him to share in it up to the point where Judas gave way to the promptings of the Devil. (See Acts 1:17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.) What we don’t think about often is whether or not Judas understood, or even knew, the true nature of Jesus. I believe there were two incidents in Judas’ life during which Satan himself filled and controlled Judas’ heart. The first was when Judas went to the Chief  Priests (See Matthew 26:14-16 and Mark 14:10-11). We see that Judas continued to look for opportunities to betray him – in other words, he had time to reflect on his decision, but chose not to change his mind. The second is when Judas entered the Garden of Gethsemane with the armed guards. (See Matthew 26:47, Mark 14:43, and John 18:3) Later on, we know of course that Judas didn’t survive his treachery (I won’t get into the discussion of whether or not he hung himself or split open – See Matthew 27:5 and  Acts 1:16-18) BEFORE Judas chose to be the enlisted servant of Satan, he was an Apostle of Jesus. He went out with the Twelve to actively apply the authority, given by Jesus to all the Apostles, to cast out demons and to heal the sick. He may also have been among the 70 (or 72) that went out to cities and towns surrounding Capernaum – all the places Jesus planned on visiting before making his final trek to Jerusalem to die. The primary purpose of that commission was evangelization – spreading the Gospel – but they too had authority to cast out demons and heal the sick.

Someone in the employ of Satan, someone possessed by the Devil, could not do these miraculous deeds because they could not have exercised the Authority given to them by Jesus.

At some point the road that Judas took led him away from Jesus and the other Apostles. Instead of The Road not Taken, Judas took the same road Adam and Eve and Ahab and Jezebel and Herod all took (and many of us as well) – the road most traveled by – the Road to Sin and Eternal Separation from God – Perdition. That wide, meandering, attractive highway has such a strong appeal to all of us because all of us have the fatal flaw of Original Sin that makes us susceptible to the “Wiles of the Devil.” Satan, that oldest of Liars, is so very successful at making the pleasures of sin sound more attractive than the wages of sin; but before Judas detoured to Satan’s road, he walked with Jesus and shared in that ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons – many demons. There’s a term that needs a little more light shed on it these days. Too many people believe the age of demons has ended. Nope. Not even close!

So what is a demon? (You guessed it! We’re going Greek again!) A demon – δαιμόνιον (daimonion) {dahee-mon’-ee-on} is an evil-spirit or a heathen deity. Also daímōn (daimón) {dah’-ee-mown} is a diminutive form of the word used to demonstrate how powerless the demons are (as fallen angels) against the plan and action of Christ and his followers (some given to be Apostles, most given to be Disciples). Every demon is a spirit, a being inferior to God, however superior to men (a little less than the angels ← See Hebrews 2:7-9 and Psalm 8:3-5). They are said to have the power to enter into the body of earthlings to aggravate and torment us with diseases, irrational desires (sinful thoughts), and fears. But that’s old hat, isn’t it? Are there modern demons and do they come after us in the same way as ancient demons?

  The answers are Yes and Yes. Modern demons mimic the power of absolution. They themselves vigorously oppose us when we are inclined to do the right thing; they are able to influence our exercise of our free will. They make us harm ourselves and others, but “it’s not our fault.” Like Geraldine Jones, the famous comic character created by Flip Wilson, we proclaim “THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!” We feel absolved, vindicated, and exonerated from all guilt because whatever it was that happened, we didn’t mean to do it. “I just snapped.” “I was drunk / high / enraged.” “I couldn’t resist the temptation.” “It’s a disease. I can’t do anything about it.” “Yeah, I’m demon possessed. So what?!”  “Can’t you tell I’m insane?” “Frankly, I don’t give a damn. It happened. Deal with it.” “I’m not the liar! S/he – they are lying!”

Another way this “absolution” works is by making us believe that not only are our actions attributable to someone or something outside our control, but also everything is relative and noting is absolute. There is no “Truth.” Without Truth, there is no accountability. I cannot be condemned by any other earthling for something over which I had no control and for which there is no suitable agreed-upon standard by which to judge me – or anyone else for that matter. We’ve dealt with this many times in these lessons. God gave us everything we need to be like him, to be empowered to defy the Devil and make him flee. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Belovéd, the Devil is NOT able to “make” us do anything; but, he can sure make disobedience look alluring! Moreover, the Devil’s subordinates, those real-and-present minions we call demons, have even less power over us than their master. That is unless, of course, we give them that power over us by claiming we don’t know right from wrong.

  Here’s the thing I keep trying to remind myself and my Belovéd: God loves us and provides with everything we need to properly love him in return. Because I know there are Angels Watching Over Me (↔ Music Link), I know also that there are demons plotting over me. That’s a biblical truth which we can take to the bank where our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. Why is it that “The hard part is doing it?” Let’s go back to our key verse:

Mark 6:12-1312 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. If Judas could cast out demons (and we know they can’t be cast out in the name of Beelzebub), why didn’t Judas resist the Devil and his demons? I believe it was because he could not bring himself to repent. Repentance was what John preached. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus preached repentance. At the beginning of the Church, Peter preached repentance (See Acts 2:38; check the CJB version of that one). As Screwtape said to Wormwood when describing the uneasiness we feel when we’re not living righteously, “If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency. It increases the patient’s reluctance to think about the Enemy.” For the Devil and his demons, “The Enemy” is God. Why was Judas unable to repent? He chose to be unable to believe the Gospel. He utterly rejected the Truth that was right in front of him. Don’t be like Judas. Don’t take that road. Repent, believe, make the demons flee, and be whole.

______________
1 The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics The Screwtape Letters Zondervan/Harper-Collins Publishers, 2002; Page 149

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 6, 2018 – When Will They Ever Learn?

1827AFC070618 – When Will They Ever Learn?

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

   Mark 6:2 On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!

Mark 6:6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! I hope your Holiday was celebrated well and safely. It’s always a special day for us because my brothers – Dan and Dave – were born on July 4th. I remember my dad saying he’d be bringing home his little firecrackers. They came to our family just a bit over a year after my first brother, Ken, was born. Dad was an accountant in the Air Force and so the progression of his family’s growth was interesting. First to be born, had the house to myself for the first four years. Then along came Ken, and the number of kids doubled. Then a year later, along came the twins, and the number of kids doubled again. So, a couple of years after that when mom got pregnant again …. Well, fortunately the trend stopped there with our sister, Merilee. It took another seven years for our youngest brother, John Edward Todd to show up. The six of us made quite a scene traveling in our station wagon every Sunday – and several other days during the week – to go to church at Corona Presbyterian. We were a Faith-Based Family, and living our faith as a family with our parents was the foundation of everything we later became. It was wise of our mom and dad to teach us their faith-based wisdom. I can attest that it definitely stayed with me even to this day. Last week, we looked in to the concept of wisdom and read from the Book of Wisdom. Today we will see that wisdom and faith are akin to each other – much like our siblings are.

Faith is Wisdom because Faith surpasses and overcomes fear. If you need more faith, ask for it – along with the wisdom to use it – for he will generously bless you with more of ALL his gifts. After all, he is omnipotent and omniscient; he knows everything you need for your life, and faith is one of his most abundant gifts. You’ve heard that saying “waste not, want not.” Here is an even better adage that is true and well worth remembering: “Fear not, lack not.” We should never be afraid to lose what we have or to ask for more of what we need. “Fear not. Just have faith.” (See Luke 8:50 and Mark 5:36 in the story about Jairus’ daughter.) You have already heard it does not take much faith to move mountains. A life lived in faith is a life lived in wisdom; it is wise to love and serve our Creator. How marvelous if all of us were immersed in the Wisdom of Faith.

Wisdom seems to have fled the World in so many ways these days! So many go to the streets – especially if the action on the streets is being broadcast over major media outlets. We are inundated almost hourly with this group protesting that group and that group protesting just as loudly that this group is WRONG! Wisdom gets drowned out in that cacophonous flood of anger and vitriolic cursing. If we could hear Wisdom about all of that, she might be saying (as found in Proverbs 1:20-22)

20 Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
21 At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?

Many in these shouting forays claim to be “People of Faith.” As you know, one of my favorite adages is “What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words.” If hating your neighbor for being unlike you is the proof of faith, then it’s not the Faith of our Fathers upon which our Republic stands. That is not the Faith that leads to Salvation; indeed, it leads instead to condemnation. The Faith and Wisdom that lead to Salvation come when the message of the Gospel is preached, then believed, and then affirmed by any earthling called by God to receive the Gift of Faith. (See Romans 10:17). Salvation is something for which I ardently hope, a state of being that I believe is completely possible because God said it is ours for the taking. Salvation, the Grace that makes us wholly holy, is from God and the Salvation we hope for in Faith is the defeat for Death brought into this world through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it. (See Wisdom 2:21-24). In the ancient World, before God called his people out of Egypt, there was no Law. God gave them the Law so that they might find Hope in obedience. However, we read in Romans 5:20-21 20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Check the CJB version at that link.) the Law implied Hope, but did not confer hope.

I have hope only in those things which I perceive to be beyond my comprehension – in the things I cannot see, for – as the Apostle Paul says – what hope is there in things we can see? (See Romans 8:24-25 and Hebrews 11:1). We can be, and should be, deeply grateful for this astonishing gift of Hope. It’s right here, within our reach. Just as Moses said, it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. (See Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Moses was speaking about the accessibility of the Law, but Christ – for our sakes – fulfilled that Law so that if we are in Christ, we are secure in the Grace of God so that grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Here is where we are reminded of the importance of that “attitude of gratitude.” Giving thanks is – believe it or else – a sacrifice which God thoroughly enjoys: Psalm 50:14-15, 22-23 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. 15 Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” 22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver. 23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

 

Many times in the Gospels, Jesus tells us our faith is too little, too weak, too flimsy to do even the simplest things like hurl a mountain into the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus was in the boat crossing that Sea of Galilee, he rebuked the storm disturbing the Sea. The disciples who were there didn’t grasp what they had seen – the Son of God speaking “louder than words.” He looked at them “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (See Luke 8:25) Something, it seems, blocks our faith. Something makes us miss out of the certainty which come by believing in the power of prayer. Many times I have been speaking with persons who have complaints that they just can’t get past a certain point in their lives. I always ask, “What’s stopping you?” Often the reply is “I don’t know.” My response will always be, “If you did know, what would you say?” often this question breaks whatever is blocking their path forward (I call it a “Block Buster” question), and progress ensues. Sometimes though we need to look deeper and find the Spiritual obstacles that hold us back and defeat our Faith in Hope. It usually turns out we are not acting wisely, but instead acting sinfully. Here’s what James had to say about that in James 3:14-18 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.* 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. *This word is δαιμονιώδης·(daimoniōdēs) {dahee-mon-ee-o’-dace} which means demonic, demon-like, or as demons have and do.

  This is the point the Apostle Paul was making when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:4-8 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Belovéd, when we take over God’s job and say, like a spoiled three-year-old, “I do it myself!” then we are unwise; we are lacking Wisdom. Some of you will doubtless be thinking, “Isn’t there something like that in the Bible?” Yes, and here it is: James 1:5-8 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

What???? If we ask wrongly we get nothing? Yes. “WHY?” you ask? Simplest answer: Because God said it over and over and over. How then do we ask? With faith, with hope, and with thanksgiving we may have the Wisdom to ask for that which will please him most – according to his will. Does that always end our suffering? Again, just look at the Apostle Paul. He led thousands to Christ, but got beat up for it – literally – dozens of times. He willingly accepted weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:10 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

That was wise. It was the Wisdom of Faith. I pray to God that all of us might learn such wisdom so that Jesus will never look to us and be amazed at our lack of faith. How can we deal with all this dissension, hatred, violence, selfishness, and all the grief and sorrow that come with all that? Romans 12:21 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Just remember, the one who is wise will know s/he is the one who is weak and perfectly capable of being and staying evil. Give thanks to the LORD for he is good. His love and mercy are everlasting. God alone is Wise, but those who live as the LORD commands are also those who share, through Faith, in the Gifts of his Wisdom. Learn this. Live this. It’s not “live and learn.” It’s “learn and live.” Do it now.

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 29, 2018 – It’s not over yet.

1826AFC062918 – It’s not over yet.

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.

  Wisdom 1:12-16 12 Do not invite death by the error of your life,
or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;
13 because God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
14 For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
15 For righteousness is immortal.

16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;
considering him a friend, they pined away
and made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his company.

Aloha pumehana ʻŌmea! Aloha ʽoe! Today marks a bit of a departure from my usual choices for scripture. Today’s passage is from the Book of Wisdom. You won’t find it in your Bible if you use anything based on the Authorized King James Version. It is part of what some Christians call “The Apocrypha.” They do not believe the Book of Wisdom, and six other books, meet the “canonical standard” as being the inspired Word of God. The Catholic Church accepts the books a canonical. These seven books are included in the Catholic Bible: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon), Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and additions to Daniel and Esther. You can find out more about that here. I do not intend to debate that issue here as that is outside the purpose of this message.

The passage starts with a wise warning to all earthlings: Don’t be stupid. It could kill you. We know this well enough; it’s what our parents told us over and over while we were growing up – and then we preached the same thing to our kids. “Use your head. Think it over. Don’t do something that you know can hurt you or others. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP!” This certainly is wisdom, and common wisdom at that; in fact, it falls into the category of what we usually call “common sense.” What comes next, though, is a little surprising.

The passage goes on to say, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.” This seems a little counterintuitive. Death is such an integral part of our “world-view” that we seem sometimes to worship Death. We have been reminded in the past couple of decades that we live in a Culture of Death. Our movie heroes tell us it’s just part of the journey, a way of living in a different set of circumstances. We are often reminded not to fear death, and yet we seem never to take that advice and instead worry about dying. Death is the ultimate chaos, the dissolution of everything we gain through living to the fullest. We fear it so much that we say “Rest in Peace,” and “s/he’s in a better place now.” We are afraid of death, but somehow hold the irrational belief that it is better than being alive.

Christians believe there is life – LIFE – after death. Our spirit or soul lives on and will eventually (or in some cases immediately) be reunited with God and then – later according to God’s Will – we will be given a resurrected, glorified body, too. We believe this principally because God told us so – over and over and over. In fact, in our passage for today, the writer goes on to explain why death came to be and what God did about it: 14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. 15 For righteousness is immortal. God did not make things and people for the purpose of death corruption. God did not make junk.

God gave earthlings a perfect world with perfect Peace and then let them choose to accept or decline that gift. Part of the Gift of Life was the Paradise in which grew the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit of that second tree is what changed Paradise. The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (or the Tree of All Knowledge) made them aware of a “dualism.” There is good and there is evil; once they realized there was a difference, they had to make another – a second – choice. Their first choice was to disobey. Their second choice was deciding what to do about their first choice. You know the rest of the story; they hid, they tried to blame each other, and then they blamed the serpent. Adam, Eve, and the serpent each received a curse for the choices they made, but only Adam and Eve also received a covenant blessing.

So how did Death get into the world and why is it such a frightening thing? The writer of Wisdom continues: God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, 24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it. (See Wisdom 2:21-24)

God started Creation with the intent of sharing eternal unity with everything he created; nonetheless, he did not impose that intent on humankind. He gave us a choice – Free Will is what we call it. From God’s point of view it’s more like Common Sense; pretty basic stuff really – you can have paradise forever with me or opt out at any time and lose it all. Who wouldn’t chose “paradise forever?” Well, Adam and Eve, for starters, and all of us traipse right along in their footsteps every time we make the selfish decision to be our own god. But why is it through the devil’s envy? HE – Satan – wanted to be God and learned it was impossible, so – out of envy and spite – he did (and continues to do) everything he can to spoil God’s handiwork. Part of the dualistic reality that came with Free Will was the end of eternal life with God – death. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

There certainly are days when it seems that life is nothing but dust. The dust – death – we experience flits into every nook and cranny, every passing second, and every waking thought of our day-to-day lives. In this passage, death is the word Θάνατον (than’-a-ton) from Θάνατος (thanatos) {than’-at-os} in the Septuagint. Death is the wage we earn by sinning. We are eternally invited to accept the freely given Gift of Eternal Life. In this Book of Wisdom, God tells us not to seek death by the error of your life, or bring on destruction by the works of your hands because he does not delight in the death of the living. 14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. 15 For righteousness is immortal. We are immortal when we are righteous. Righteousness is a big part of being “created in the image and likeness of God.”

What, then, is righteousness?

In Proverbs 21:21 we read 21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor. Pursuing righteousness, therefore, is not to pursue Death; it is to pursue life and honor. In this verse, another word for “kindness” is “mercy.” Righteousness is thought of virtue, unfailing love, blamelessness, morality, decency, honest, and – yes – justice. The Greek word in the Septuagint is δικαιοσύνης (dikaiosuné) {dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay}, a word which refers to fulfillment of the law, divine righteousness, or the business of a judge. In Hebrew, the word used here is צְדָקָה (tsedaqah) {tse-da-kaw}, and refers to justice and righteousness in government, in a case or cause, and of salvation (among others). Righteousness could be thought of as “always doing the right thing because it is the right thing.” God is always righteous (See Isaiah 54:10), and he provides endless ways for us to be like him in righteousness; yet, we utterly fail to use them.

In Romans 3:10 the Apostle Paul writes, 10 as it is written: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one. This is a reference to Psalm 14:1-3 – 1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They have corrupted themselves, and become abominable in their devices; there is none that does goodness, there is not even so much as one. 2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there were any that understood, or sought after god. 3 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become good for nothing, there is none that does good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. The Psalmist and the Apostle both make a universal declaration that “there is not one that is righteous.” What, then, shall we do? Indeed, what can we do?

How can we possibly do what Jesus asks us to do in Matthew 5:48? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. The word used for “perfect” here is a word we’ve had some experience with before; it means to be complete, to be consistent, to be virtuous in all seasons for all persons on all occasions; in other words, be like God. This is the meaning in Matthew. Don’t just be pious by loving just your friends and neighbors, but live out your piety by loving your enemies; imitate God; let your piety be complete, in proportion, and uniform. Every Christian has the capacity to do this. How? We can do this in the Word and in the Spirit:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 19 Do not quench the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:30 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Belovéd, it’s not over yet – For righteousness is immortal. Be complete, be consistent, be virtuous in all seasons for all persons on all occasions. Do it in the Word by Spirit and by Truth.

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 22, 2018 – His name is John

1825AFC062218 – His name is John

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

 Luke 1:59-60 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.”  61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It’s already getting toward the end of June! The Summer Solstice has arrived and passed! How did that happen so quickly? It was just a day or so ago when we passed out Valentine Cards, wasn’t it? It’s always surprising when something you’ve looked forward to for a long while suddenly arrives at your doorstep, and then >>¡POOF!<< it’s over!

This coming Sunday would customarily be the eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. However it is one of those rare occasions when June 24th occurs on a Sunday. The most recent previous time was in 2012. It will happen again in 2029, 2035, 2040 and 2046 (the year I turn 100!) June 24th is the day many Christians celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. It is given the rank of a Solemnity, a festival day of the highest rank in the Roman Catholic calendar. Solemnities have additional Masses associated with them – a Vigil Mass the preceding evening, a Mass at Dawn, and a Mass during the Day. As with certain Christian feasts, the event is not intended to celebrate a specific date, but rather to commemorate a significant occurrence. The Nativity of John the Baptist is linked to the Nativity of Jesus on December 25th and is set 6 months in advance because when Gabriel announced to Mary she would bear the Messiah, he told her “… your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.” (See Luke 1:36-37) John plays a essential role in the early days of Jesus’ ministry. He is referred to as “The Forerunner” in some cultures because of two very specific prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi:

Isaiah 40:3A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Malachi 3:1 1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

The Apostle Matthew in his Gospel first states Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

Later Jesus himself says of John Matthew 11:10 *– 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

(*I strongly encourage you to read Matthew 11. It won’t even take 2 minutes. The link provided will display the entire quotation of what Jesus said about John.)

In the Gospel of Mark, the author states in Mark 1:1-3 1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”

John the Baptist even makes a statement about this himself. (See John 1:19-34.) He denied that he was the Messiah, or Elijah. He declared that he did not know who the Messiah was – yet – but knew that his arrival was imminent. He said “‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Use the link to see this in context.) He grew up in the wilderness, and was probably about 30 years old when he started baptizing people “for repentance.”

He was named by “an angel of the Lord” – Gabriel – who appeared to John’s father, Zechariah. Zechariah was told to give him the name John: Luke 1:13-15 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrew he would have been John son of Zechariah (Yokhanan ben Zkaryah) In Luke the Greek name is Ἰωάννης (Ioannes) {ee-o-an’-nace} a name of Hebrew origin: יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) {yo-khaw-nawn’}.

The name Yokhanan means “Jehovah is a gracious giver.” Certainly to his parents, who were well beyond childbearing years and had no children because Zechariah’s wife, Elisabeth was barren, the gift of a child was indeed a very gracious gift! His parents knew the purpose of this wonderful gift – remember that Elisabeth knew Mary was pregnant with Jesus the Messiah and when Mary greeted her, Yokhanan recognized the presence of the Messiah and Elisabeth said, “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” (See Luke 1:41-45) We might deduce that the two boys grew up separately – Jesus spent some time in Egypt as a child and went to Nazareth in his youth and John apparently stayed in Judea in the hill country and desert.

John continued baptizing even after Jesus had selected at least some of his Disciples. There are some indications that Jesus’ Disciples were also baptizing (See John 3:23 and Mark 4:1-3) eventually, though, John began to realize that his assigned role was coming to an end; he had announced the coming of the Messiah, and angered King Herod by condemning him for an unlawful marriage. Here’s what he said about his career as The Forerunner:

John 3:30-36* 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. (*The link provided opens the Gospel at verse 22 to show the whole dialogue of John’s statement.)

John was indeed the herald of God’s greatest plan – the coming of the Messiah. The world had been waiting for uncountable years for that to happen, then >>¡POOF!<< there he was and just a short while later >>¡POOF!<< he was gone. John left this life a little sooner than Jesus, but not before seeing that the prophecies about him and is cousin were true. There are other men named John in the Bible. There is the Apostle John – the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James the Elder –  who wrote the fourth Gospel and was known as the Belovéd Disciple. He is also quite possibly the author of three of the catholic letters. There is also John Mark – Mark is his surname – who was a colleague of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. Lastly there is another man about whom little is known other than the fact that he was in the Sanhedrin (See Acts 4:1-6); he may have been known as Jonathan. Yokhanan ben Zkaryah, however, is still most famous for his role in pointing out the Messiah – “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.” John is still with Jesus. They are both alive and calling us to meet them soon. As the Ages roll on, many are still expecting their Messiah to arrive; many more have entirely given up on that. As for me and my house, we await the Lord’s return with boundless hope because we know if we don’t see him here today, we will see him soon there. What a Blesséd Assurance (↔ Music Link) we have in that!

Belovéd, his name is, not was, John. And because it is John, we know him for who he is.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – June 15, 2018 – DEEP-SEE diving

1824AFC061518 – DEEP-SEE Diving

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

Mark 4:30-32 30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look more deeply into this idea of “faith the size of a mustard seed.”

Before we begin, I need to ask if you are using the links-to-Scripture I provide. The purpose of these articles is to get us into the Word. I want you to be able to see what Scripture actually says. That’s why there always are at least 3 “translations” – three versions in different language styles – of ever passage I list. I also always use the full name of every Bible book so that there’s no question about the location of the reference. For example, many writers would denote today’s Key Verse as Mk 4:30ff. I’ll always give you the full reference and provide you with a link so you can look at it more than one way. Do you do that? I hope so; I don’t plan to change that approach in the foreseeable future.

Often I will also give you hints about what the passage(s) say(s) in the original language – as much as is possible – so you can see the Hebrew and/or Greek words that impact the connotative and denotative meanings of the Scripture we’re looking into. Again, the intent is to give you a more “in-depth” look into the Word. That’s why we have that punny title DEEP-SEE Diving. We want to see deeply into Scripture and fish-up the meaning. Then, the next time you see it or hear it, you might be able to remember, “Oh, yeah! That was when Jesus was talking about …!” So what do mustard seeds have to do with fishing (or diving), anyway? Let’s take a deep-see dive. Where else in Scripture does Jesus use the mustard seed as the basis for a parable?

Matthew 13:31-32 31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

In addition, we have these passages:

Matthew 17:20 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Luke 17:6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

If we “combine” the messages in these parables, we see that a mustard seed starts off really small and grows into a shrub or bush so large that birds can nest in it. This tells us a little bit of faith nurtured well yields a large volume of blessings that benefit many others. We also see that if our faith were “even as large as” a mustard seed, we could accomplish amazing things. We can toss around mountains or mulberry trees on just the strength of faith if only it is “even as large as” a mustard seed. Have you tried that? Me, neither; but I’d like to. How big is “even as large as” a mustard seed? Take a look at this comparison:

 

Celery Seed – 1.5 – 2 mm
Mustard Seed – 1 – 2 mm
Poppy Seed – 0.7 – 1.0 mm
Amaranth Seed – 0.9 – 1.4 mm
Some orchid seeds (check that out) are only 1/300 of an inch long!

So how large does a “mustard bush grow?” here’s an example from a post back in 2011:

Mustard Seed Tree

Yep, that’s ONE plant! They can be somewhere between 6 to 20 feet tall and have a ground footprint of about 20 square feet. That is pretty amazing for one really small seed. Maybe this will help you see it more clearly:

Jesus told his Disciples in Matthew 5:20 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness and faith go hand in hand, so if the most righteous people you know are not faith-filled enough that their righteousness will not gain the Heaven, where does that leave the rest of us?

The impact of that parable would have been immense to Jesus’ audience! It should have that same impact on us as well. You probably remember that other parable about seeds, the Parable of the Sower. That can be found in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15.

We still depend on the people who feed us with crops produced from seeds. In the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:37-39, Jesus says “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.” Throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, “seed” means “descendant.” The seed of Abraham means all of his descendants – more numerous than all the stars or grains of sand in the desert. Those “seeds” must be tended to as much as one tends to herds (See “The Good Shepherd“). We also know that we plant “seed verses” in our hearts, passages from Scripture that grow within us when we nurture them with love. Those seeds of faith produce a crop “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (See Matthew 13:8).

Beloved, where is our crop? Where is our mustard-seed bush, our acres of wheat, our vineyard of grapes, and our orchard of the Fruit of the Spirit? We cannot expect a harvest if we do not commit to the stewardship of planting. In Matthew 25:14-30 we hear about a greedy king who harvested where he had not sown and gathered where he had not scattered seed. He coerced others to do these things on his behalf. Good stewards saw that opportunity and profited by it. If our harvest is small, unsatisfying, and unsustaining, did we plant enough seeds? When we plant the Word in the “good soil” of our hearts, we have to plant more than one seed to get a harvest. We must also add to the stewardship of planting the stewardship of nurturing. And if we nurture the seeds, the crop they bear will require us to add the stewardship of harvest. It is from the harvest that the sower gets seed for the next crop and grain for the bread to feed himself and others.

The verses and Scripture passages we have looked at today are like seeds planted in our hearts. I call them “Seed Verses.” Seed verses are passages of Scripture that we have pondered over, ruminated upon, perhaps memorized, and when we “harvest” them by bringing them out to feed ourselves and others, we have “seed for the sower and bread for food” (See 2 Corinthians 9:10) so that we will multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. We get better seeds when we store seeds. Do you have any Seed Verses? Here are a few of mine:

See if you feel a seed-like response when you read the first few words of these Seeds:

“The Lord is my shepherd…” Psalm 23:1
“For God so loved …”  John 3:16-18
“I was glad when they said…”  Psalm 122:1
“Some men brought him a paralytic…” Matthew 9:2
“We live by faith, not by sight …” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“… everyone born of God overcomes …”  1 John 5:3-4
“Thy Word have I hid in my heart …”  Psalm 119:11-16
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …” Hebrews 12:1-2
“anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me …”  John 5:24
“I am the resurrection and the life …”  John 11:25
“There is salvation in no one else …”  Acts 4:12
“Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all.”  Acts 10:36
” … every tongue should confess … ” Philippians 2:9-11
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…”  Romans 10:8-9
“For I know the plans I have for you…”  Jeremiah 29:11
“… so that being justified by his grace we might become heirsTitus 3:4-8
(See also 1209AFC030212 – Titus The Evangelist – Catholic Letter Series
“… if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:25
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Romans 12:12
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15
” … be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord …” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Settle for nothing less than God in Christ Jesus.” That’s not a Seed Verse from the Bible. It is a seed from my mustard tree. In fact, this whole series of messages that stretch back to the early years of last decade are harvested seeds from those original seeds planted by my parents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, friends, and hours of deep-see diving in God’s word (no, that is not misspelled. It is DEEP-SEE – Look Deeper).

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

 

PLEASE USE THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER LIST. PEOPLE ARE COUNTING ON US.

 

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

 

This is a mustard seed charm similar to the one my mom

had when I was about 5. It travels with me on my rosary.

The round Medal directly below it was the first one I got on my own.

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Aloha Friday Message – June 8, 2018 – Site Unseen

1823AFC060818 – Site Unseen (↔ Music Link)

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

Mark 3:35 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

Psalm 116:10 10 I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”

 

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Did you try it already? If you did, then you know something about where we’re going this morning. If you didn’t try it, why not? Go ahead and try it now. ( the ↔ Music Link  up there in the title )

Yes, that is the “site unseen.” We don’t know what it looks like, we don’t know its location, but we know how to get there – at least we think we do. Today we’re going to do some probing around in the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. There are gobs and gobs of golden gems in that letter – like “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” (See 2 Corinthians 4:7) and “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (See 2 Corinthians 3:17). You’ll also find a heavy dose of Music Links; all of them are really great!

Let’s begin with the quote from the Gospel of Mark. In this passage, Jesus has been teaching a crowd of folks in his home town. Some Pharisees have come up from Jerusalem to check out this new street-preacher. His family and friends hear that he’s talking about things people don’t understand. He told the crowds to repent and believe the Gospel. He had driven out demons and healed the illnesses of many persons. He healed a paralyzed man whose friends had lowered him through the roof, and – in the process – told him “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” That got the crowd stirred up! They asked “By whose authority do you forgive sins?” Jesus challenged them, “Which is easier, to say ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘get up, take you mat, and walk’? Then he turned to the young man and directed him to do just that – get up and walk away.

In the Capernaum synagogue, he healed a man with a withered arm on the Sabbath. He appointed twelve Apostles – men who would share in his ministry and be his representatives as they traveled together. He and the Apostles were traveling extensively through the region of Galilee, and they had become that region’s “Fast Breaking News.” Word of his activities reached his home town of Nazareth, and his mom and some of his family went down to see what was going on. They were thinking maybe he was behaving irrationally because of what he was saying and doing; the reports they got “back home” were alarming. “Maybe he’s gone off the deep end with all this attention! He himself may have an unclean spirit!” The place where he was teaching was so crowded they couldn’t get near him, so they sent word that they wanted to talk to him. Perhaps his reply only confirmed their fears: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” then he pointed to the crowd and said, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” As he was teaching, he was also relieving the afflictions of others – and in his day, that allowed them to reenter society and family. The Psalmist said he kept his faith even in times of affliction. Jesus was establishing faith where faith seemed impossible – in the shunned and marginalized members of the community.

Very early on in his ministry, then, Jesus laid the foundation for the community of Family in God. We become members of that family by doing the will of God, and who better to show us the will of God than the Son of God? What did he show us?

Jesus showed us, through his teaching and actions, that the will of God is to love God and neighbor; we are to love God so much that knowing God intimately as Family is as easy as knowing our brothers and sisters and parents. Why? Why is that important? Why does God want us in his family? Answer: God ALWAYS wants us in his family. That’s why he gave us a way to rejoin his family in the perfection of his Presence. We’re supposed to be as intimately present with him as were Adam and Eve before that darn serpent showed up! And where are we supposed to rejoin that family circle which will eventually be unbroken again? Yes! There! In that site unseen, Heaven! This world is not our destination or our home. And yes, that is why that super big hint is at the top of the message. This world is not our home.

My Home is Heaven. I don’t know where it is, but I know I’m getting closer. I was born a long way from Home, but that doesn’t matter – I’m on my way, and as I go, my way is made clearer and easier every time I remember how to be Family: Whoever does the will of God. God’s will is that I serve him by serving others. It’s so simple that it sounds crazy, but not the kind of crazy the folks in Capernaum were thinking – crazy like demon-possessed. It’s crazy like un-worldly. In these crazy times, we do best in life when we shun The World. It’s time for us to act crazy – as The World sees it. ‘Ain’t it great to be crazy? (↔ Music Link)

And now it’s time for even more music! Please, please, please – play these songs!

The Servant Song “Will you let me be your servant? (↔ Music Link)

Servant Song (McGargill) “I am Your song and servant.” (↔ Music Link)

Normally, instead of “site unseen,” we say “sight unseen” as if we haven’t seen it but know it as if blind but somehow sighted. We can be blinded by the World. In fact, the World cannot perceive the Gospel because it remains hidden to them – behind a veil as it were – and when we share the Gospel people say of us “S/he must be out of her/his mind!” BUT we have such a humongous hope, the hope of rejoining that unbroken circle on the Family of God! Here are some additional thoughts from 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Oh, how I long to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God! Like the blind man at Jericho, my prayer is, “Lord, I want to see!” I want to see with the Eyes of my Heart (↔ Music LinkS) and so I pray – in songOpen My Eyes, Lord (↔ Music Link) “Help me to love like you.” If I could just love like HIM as I serve him by serving the Gospel, ahhhhhhhh, that site-I-cannot-see will be within sight. I will see it in you, Belovéd, even though I’m “just a-passing through.” The angels beckon us through Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this World any more.

Thank you for your prayers this week! Our three-year-old little sister in Christ is recovering quickly and well! Please continue to support others in prayer by using this link.

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

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

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

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