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 – October 19, 2018 – Maximum Allowable

  • 1842AFC101918 – Maximum Allowable

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

    Isaiah 53:10 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. Another translation says “It was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush him with pain” The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. Susan Jones. New York: Doubleday, 1985

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at some of the most difficult passages to read in the Bible. They are not difficult because their meaning is obscure; quite to the contrary, the meaning is abundantly clear. These passages are difficult because they describe in stark language what Jesus was looking forward to on his journey back to Jerusalem: Death by crucifixion as ordained by his Father – a death that would inflict the maximum allowable suffering on the frailty of his human body. Was God so cruel that he would delight in seeing his Only Begotten Son suffer incredible pain in body, mind, and spirit? There’s a famous TV personality who is rankled and infuriated by this kind of statement “God was pleased to crush him with pain.” Of course, this woman also rejects that God is God and Jesus is God and claims she is as much god as either of them. She is looking at Jesus’ sacrifice through worldly eyes that do not see into Eternity. God sees beyond what she can see, and what God sees pleases him immensely.  Let’s start by looking at the language in our Key Verse.

Let’s begin by listening to this (↔ Music Link) very popular piece of music. I heard it in Shrek. You may have also heard it on America’s Got Talent or American Idol. It’s played on radio stations often. It was written by Leonard Cohen over 30 years ago. It has been covered by dozens of artists. There are reportedly as many as 15 verses of the finished piece and originally as many as 80 verses in the draft. Everyone recognizes at least some of the verses, especially the first one:

“I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?”

Just what does it take to please the Lord? We can look to one of God’s “besties” to get an idea. You’ll remember the Lord chose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to succeed Saul as King of Israel because David was a man after God’s own heart (See 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) God is pleased when our hearts are like his heart. What is God’s heart like? Generous, kind, loving, forgiving, merciful, full of graces, perfectly integral. Who has more integrity that God? He himself tells us he is ONE. How then can God delight in the death of his Servant and Son? We need to dig a little deeper and ask –

Why would Isaiah prophesy that God would be pleased to see his Messiah suffer? What kind of father wants to see his son die a horrible death? What kind of God determines that crucifixion the way to fulfill his plan of Salvation? Once again, if we turn to the original words, we can get a clearer understanding of this passage.

Many of us have heard this verse dozens of times. We’ve heard it in sermons, homilies, and Bible-study lessons. It comes from Isaiah’s prophecy of The Suffering Servant. Perhaps the most quoted verse from this passage is Isaiah 53:6

6  All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

This verse, I think, holds the key to better understanding what follows in verse 10 about God being pleased to see Jesus suffer. There are myriad paths we can take to analyze this connection, but I’d like to keep it simple. When Adam sinned, God’s plan for salvation, already prepared since before Creation, was activated. It required the shedding of blood, and death. For millennia, that was accomplished through the sacrifice of animals in place of humans. But at the right time, God gave us the Christ to die for all the ungodly souls in all of time (See Romans 5:6-8 and Galatians 4:4). The first step in unraveling this mystery of Christ’s suffering is that it was part of the Plan so that he could take on “the iniquity of us all.”

Whose plan was it? God’s plan. And just to check our understanding of what that means, what should be our understanding of who GOD IS with regard to that plan? Was it God the Father who said, “Son, I’ve got some Good News and some bad news.”? Was it God the Son who said, “Father, I think I have an idea that will clear up this whole mess.”? Was it God the Holy Spirit who said, “How long should we wait before we proceed with our plan?” You have guessed the correct answer! It was ALL of the above! God has always been a community of Love. There wasn’t any “imposition of will.” There was only congruity of will! If, then, “everybody” in the Trinity was in agreement, we still need to know why God was pleased. Let’s look at three words in the Old Testament that mean “pleased.” The first one to look at is the verb used in Isaiah 53:10.

The word is חָפֵץ (chaphets) {khaw-fates’}. It is to delight in something, to receive that which is desired, or be pleased to do. Another word used frequently is יָאַל (ya’al) {yaw-al’}. This carries the connotation of being content, aiming to please, willingly make a beginning, agree to, to be content, resolve to, be determined to. See for example Genesis 18:27, Judges 17:11, and/or 1 Samuel 12:22. Another word in this sense is רָצָה (ratsah) {raw-tsaw’}. This one connotes favorable acceptance, to satisfy or feel satisfaction, to be determined, or to make oneself acceptable. All three of these words carry the meaning of being pleased or satisfied. It was חָפֵץ (chaphets) that Isaiah used to express God’s inspiration as he wrote this incredible prophetic poetry about The Suffering Servant whom God chose for us.

We could never have chosen Christ to suffer and die for us! It is not our privilege to do so; it is a privilege assigned only to God. And Christ, as God, chose to suffer and die for us – even for us who sin greatly! All who are called are justified by his willing sacrifice. He willingly laid down his life for us because that obedience pleased God and that means it pleased Christ to do it. Why? God saw with satisfaction the obedient and willing sacrifice of the Christ. God looked ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and saw the JOY of our redemption! It was God’s determinate plan that Jesus would be the instrument of our redemption (See Acts 2:23) Moreover, God the Father chose Jesus as the sacrificial victim – the blood offering – for our sin and Jesus concurred! Jesus willingly offered himself as a pleasing sacrifice that would make the Father rejoice. You see, Jesus’ heart is like his Father’s heart because it is his Father’s heart. That is why we often pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto your heart!” Jesus’ offering was the perfected sin offering (See Exodus 29:14 and Leviticus 4:3) given by Jesus for us as the perfected guilt or trespass offering (See Leviticus 7:2 and Ezekiel 46:20).

Here we need to look at two nearly antithetical aspects of Jewish law regarding sin. The Hebrews made sacrificial offerings of many kinds. Some were “guilt (a.k.a. trespass) offerings.” These were temporal actions for dealing with the consequences of sin. The goal was to accomplish satisfaction for the errors committed. Some were “sin offerings.” The sin offerings were made for the expiation – amends, penitence, punishment, reparation – for sins. In his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus accomplished both. He provided the temporal satisfaction for the consequences of sin as well as the full atonement for all sin. And Jesus was pleased to do this because it was God’s plan.

In Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah writes:

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.

Here the Suffering Servant is portrayed as a Guilt Offering and in Isaiah 53:10, he is further portrayed as a Sin Offering. Jesus did it all – willingly, completely, perfectly – just as God (The Trinity) had planned it. It pleased God to do that because it was The Plan.

“The plan for what?” you might ask. The Plan for our Salvation. God’s Plan of Salvation was not for his benefit – although as we have seen it pleased him to formulate it and bring it to fruition – but while God was pleased to create this Salvation, he is all the more pleased to bless and approve, to sanctify and make holy, this plan for our benefit. He is especially delighted, joyous, and genuinely pleased-as-punch to see that we are redeemed by this plan. “By his stripes we are healed.” What kind of language is that for prophecy? You might ask, “Shouldn’t prophecy be future tense?” Yes, you are right again! God has no future tense, no past tense, but only present tense, all the time, everywhere. That pleases God who are always happy to destroy the barriers between God and Man. He who gave himself as a ransom for us all, he who paid in full all the debts of our sins, including death, he who willingly sought to please God so that God might be pleased to welcome us back into fellowship with Him – HE is pleased that WE are once again fully HIS.

That certainly pleases me. It also blesses me because it blesses God. It pleases us because when we say “God Bless YOU,” we mean that blessing to be in present tense in the same way that God is in present tense – all the time and everywhere. We have been given the remarkable Gift of Free Will so that when we finally hear and understand that “he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (See Isaiah 53:12), we will know why Isaiah says, “through him the will of the LORD shall prosper,” (See Isaiah 53:10c) because our hearts become like unto his heart – utterly devoid of iniquity.

    All of your sin, all of my sin, all of our sins, all of every sin is “paid in full,” negated, wiped out, gone without a trace as if sin had never happened. Only God can do that! And when we read “he shall see his offspring and prolong his days,” all of that is predicated by and contingent upon his dying in “the land of the living,” to reopen to us the “Realm of the Resurrection.” God made Jesus to be sin by imputation (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That was so very pleasing to God – our Almighty Everliving Triune God – that God rejoiced in its perfect Perfection. That is why he did delight in seeing his Only Begotten Son suffer incredible pain in body, mind, and spirit. It was not for him or for the suffering that he felt delight. God’s Justice always precedes God’s Mercy. Here we see what Jesus did for our benefit. He was spurned, suffered, infirm, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, harshly treated, condemned, chastised, killed, and all of this was done because it pleased God to do it so that we can be restored to God’s presence.

It was for our restoration to his presence that he felt delight. After all, we are created in him, by him, and for him. How could we, and he, not rejoice to be back together again!? So, Belovéd, let us echo the words and actions of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 4:16 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need because, as Jesus himself said in Mark 10:45 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. That is God’s plan, and it is a mighty good one because it applied the maximum allowable atonement for the maximum allowable redemption. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

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.

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – October 12, 2018 – Prophet and Loss

1841AFC101218 – Prophet and Loss

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 10:29-31 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we continue with the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark. You may remember that this Gospel was probably the first one written – it is usually dated around 66-70 AD. We believe that the intent of the person(s) who compiled this Gospel were more motivated by the idea of presenting a theological exposition rather than an historical record of the life, travels, and teachings of Jesus.

There are many nearly word-for-word connections between the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and for several centuries it was believed that Mark was synopsis of Matthew’s Gospel. During much of that time, it was also believed that the author was one John Mark – the companion and assistant to the Apostle Paul; further scholarship on ancient copies of this Gospel indicate it may not have been authored by a single person, but by a group of gentiles, that is, Greeks – the Gospel is written in Κοινή (Koiné) {koi-né} Greek. Other evidence that it was intended for a gentile audience is that many Jewish and Aramaic terms are explained and/or translated; this would not be the case if the audience were intended for Jewish followers of The Way as is the case with the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew goes to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus’ Jewish roots, his connection to and fulfillment of Mosaic Law, and Jesus’ messianic salvific role in God’s plan.

In today’s Key Verse, Jesus is quoted as telling the Apostles – and quite likely some gentile Disciples – that everything they have “given up” or lost, or had taken away – with be restored to them many times over: ” houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, […] — and in the age to come eternal life. Jesus had just stated in Mark 10:23-25 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This statement was a real shocker for the crowd around Jesus. Worldly success was seen as favor from God and poverty something to be avoided. If the wealthy were not “the favored ones,” then who could be saved? The Greek word used here for “hard” is δυσκόλως (duskolós) { doos-kol’-oce} and it points to that which is preposterously impossible – like walking a camel through the eye of a needle. (Parallel versions can be found in Matthew 19:23-36, and Luke 18:24-27) This is a metaphor for absurd situations. (And yes, there really is no evidence that there was a gate in Jerusalem called The Eye of the Needle.) Then Jesus points out that those who are overly-attached to the idol of wealth will find it exceedingly difficult to set that Worldly view aside and embrace the humility and lowliness required for entering the Kingdom of God and the Life of the Gospel. This is given as a heartfelt comment of sorrow at Jesus’ remarks to the young man who asked him “What must I do to be saved.” The character is often referred to as “the rich young ruler.”   {{ – and a little “speculative biblical history here:” Do you remember the young man in Mark 14:51-52 wearing only a linen cloth and the grabbed him but he left the cloth and ran into the night naked? Some have suggested that he may have been “the rich young ruler” who had indeed sold all that he had and returned to follow Jesus. }} This rich man who posed the question which led to this lesson on trusting in worldly riches is also the only person mentioned in the Gospels as being loved by Jesus: Mark 10:21-22 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Other translations say that he was deeply saddened, that his face fell, that his hopes were dashed. This was terrible news!

It’s such terrible news that in recent years (and on and off throughout church history), the “Gospel of prosperity” has been popular. This particular heresy certainly is appealing to many. “God wants you to be rich! He wants you to be swimming in money and material things! Tell HIM you’re ready for HIS blessings!” Wow. Jesus said repeatedly that putting worldly things first – fame, wealth, respect, power – all of that had no place in the Kingdom of Righteousness. After all, what Treasure in Heaven can top being fabulously wealthy? Jesus’ statement about there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, indicates that even in this life, what we “give up” for the privilege of living in the Kingdom will be returned to us in this life; and in addition, we would have in the age to come eternal life. Belovéd, have you noticed I edited out one other little phrase of Jesus’ promise for his Disciples? Scan up  a paragraph or two and look for […]. What do you think is missing? Do you remember what it says in the Key Verse? The missing words are underlined there: with persecutions. Now that doesn’t sound like any fun at all! I have to give up everything I have and give it to the poor, and then I’ll get back – in some fashion other than material wealth – everything I lost and as an extra bonus, I can expect persecutions?

Somehow that’s not the kind of “deal” most folks find attractive. We do the things that God wants us to do and then get punished and persecuted for our obedience? Who wants a job like that? Well, if you go dust off your Bible and heft it a little, it might surprise you to learn that at least half of what you’re hefting is prophetic in nature. Aside from the Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah (including Lamentations), Baruch (for the Catholic Bible), Ezekiel, and Daniel – and the Minor Prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi – there are also many prophetic passages in other books of the Bible such as Psalms (to name a few: 2, 18, 22, 45, 89,102, 132 and many more). What or who is a prophet?

A prophet is anyone who claims to speak God’s words or to teach in his name and is inspired by God to deliver God’s Word and Will to others. The Old Testament word for prophet is נָבִיא (nabiy’ ) {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over”,” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. Belovéd, let’s stand in agreement with Moses that all may be gifted with prophecy! (See Numbers 11:29) How wonderful it would be if all of us could lay aside all our Worldly idols and speak the words God sends us which begin with, “Thus says the LORD.” What is it that prevents us? I think it may be those two little words we’d rather not hear: with persecutions.

In studying the Bible, we will see that every person who “received the gift of prophecy” also received a heap-and-a-half of persecution! To be a winner in God’s Kingdom, you have to be a loser! We lose everything so that we become as one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news. That’s the wage of the prophet: LOSS! And yet, in Mark 8:36 we read 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? What do you, what do I, what do we WANT? Over the years in these writings we’ve pretty much agreed that want we WANT and what we NEED are separated by a vast abyss. God gives us what we need; and how does he know what we need? We need what God wants. If God doesn’t want it in us, we don’t need it! Does God want prophecy in us, does he want us to speak his Word and his Will? If so, we will certainly become a Prophet and a Loss. Upon reflection, Belovéd, doesn’t that sound like a perfectly good idea? Some of us may think we’re the last person who could be called to prophesy for our God, but maybe there is something else to consider here: But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. When we are looking for what we should do first in the Kingdom, we will find that what we should do first is be there! (↔ Music 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.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – October 5, 2018 – Consecrated by God

1840AFC100518 – Consecrated by God to God For God

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.

   Genesis 2:21-25 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man*, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman** and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
* אּישׁ (ish) {eesh} – man, husband
** נָשִׁים (ishshah) {ish-shaw’} – woman, wife

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!) Today’s topic arises from the reading for this coming Sunday. In the past several weeks we have been surrounded by a conflagration of accusations and counter-accusations about sexuality and interpersonal relations. Much harm has been done on both sides of the current issue; however even greater harm as been done through millennia of abuse, neglect, confusion, and failure to honor the aegis of God’s commands at the moment when Eve first approached Adam. In the passage above, we have a description of how God brought about this marvelous duality of beings. Eve was created from the flesh and bone of Adam. You might call it mythology, but I call it  Common Sense. Here’s why:

God had created animals out of the clay even as Adam was created. When God saw that none of those were suitable for a companion and helpmeet for the man, he took part of the man and made of that a partner for him. Adam liked the change! He took one look at Eve and said, “at last!” I have a suitable companion. That joy in seeing Eve was a blessing for God. It made God happy to see Adam happy, and I dare say Eve was happy to see Adam as well. She was, quite literally, “made for him.” Talk about love at first sight! But, as we well know, later those two came to a rough patch in the road. Maybe it had something to do with the quality of materials used to create them?

Man comes from dirt, and – as I have often said here – that pretty well defines his character – dirt. Woman comes from dirt that had been improved by making it a living being; woman was created from the flesh of the man. Woman, it could be said, was created from better ingredients, not just dirt, but improved dirt. Borrowing from Papa John Pizza a little – “Better Ingredients. Better People.” Men – who come from dirt, remember – have a hard time accepting that “first” is not directly-equal to “better.” I am reminded of “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” as translated by Mark Twain:

Adam: Dear Diary. This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don’t like this: I am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals. (To himself) Cloudy today, wind in the east, think we shall have rain. We? Where did I get that word? I remember now, the other creature uses it.

When a married couple learns that the pronoun “WE” is the appropriate pronoun for a couple, that is when God is also praised, because that is when God’s intentions for Man and Woman come together. They are “one flesh” and – in many ways it seems – also one soul if everything is working well. I cordially invite you to look back with me to February 14, 2011 for a special message about how that works for Crucita and me!

I remember a Radio Preacher’s sermon on the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs. One statement he made struck me as particularly and elegantly insightful. He said, “There is nothing in this world more beautiful than a virtuous woman serving the Lord.” I thought about all the difficulties women have endured for millennia because they were deemed lesser in every way because of their gender. You know what I have often said about women: Naturally they are not the lesser; they are certainly deserving of all equitable consideration and treatment. In fact, I argue that women are the better part of humanity. Man was made from dirt. Woman was made from flesh and bone. Better ingredients, better people. OK, so I probably sound a little flippant (and redundant) there, but I say that to illustrate that indeed there is little in this world that can outshine the Light one sees in a life lived with virtue and valor. And that applies to both men and women, boys and girls, saints and sinners. We are being led by Satan to ignore the Light and embrace the Darkness. Note I said “led.” We DO NOT have to follow his lead or dance to his tune!

Adam and Eve were Consecrated by God to God For God. We don’t hear the word “consecrate” very often so it’s useful to take a closer look at it:

CONSECRATED: Dedicated to a sacred purpose; to devote irrevocably to God by a solemn ceremony; to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication;

God created man for God, not as God, but for God. God created Woman for man and only for man – not for woman, not for beast, not for abuse or neglect – for man; and in and with man, Woman is created for God.  They are consecrated by God to God for God and for each other. Sin has corrupted that Consecration, but sin has not eliminated that Consecration. Earthlings have tried mightily for all of recorded time to get around the idea (and ideal) of that Consecration, and they’ve made quite a mess of Life because of those efforts, BUT we have not eliminated the holiness of being created to serve God together as one flesh – as one entity if you will. In our sinful stubbornness, we’ve tried thousands of ways to wiggle out of that – everything from divorce to prostitution to domestic violence gender confusion to character assassination. All of those things are wrong because they contravene the Holy Consecration of Man and Woman to God. We have made prodigious efforts to essentially slap God in the face for daring to create us as complementary, harmonizing, paired beings. We have demanded that God “stay out of our business” so we can redefine his Gift of Consecration according to our own poor judgment. What foolishness that is! (See Isaiah 45:9 and Romans 9:21) Throughout our history we have contrived to make society primarily patriarchal – with a few exceptions of matriarchal structuring. Whichever we choose, we have nearly always forgotten that leadership is not ownership. (Please reread Ephesians 5:22-33 as a reminder of how God intends Matrimony to be lived.)

Matrimony is another word we hear only in certain contexts – for example in the Catholic Church, the Sacrament which unites the lives of two baptized adults is called Matrimony. This word is worth a closer look, too. Matrimony derives from an Old French word, matrimoignie. The word stem for this term is a Latin word matrimonium. There is a root form matr- which is from the Latin for mother – “mater.” In the word “matrimony,” the stem matr- is followed by the suffix mony (think acrimony, parsimony, alimony, ceremony, hegemony, etc) and that suffix indicates a role, or a function, or more properly a state of being. Therefore Matrimony is a state of being which literally leads to a woman as a mother. In the CCC ¶ 1660 is this very clear statement. 1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 § 1; cf. GS 48 § 1).

There are two words there to which I direct your attention: Covenant and Dignity. When we fail to recognize the gender equity implicit in the placement of two (and only two) genders in life, we ignore the power of that Covenant and besmirch the Dignity of our Consecration to God as essential components of his creation. Men and women who attempt to replace individual perceptions of self with anything other than what God created us to be forcefully disrupt the essence of human nature. Husbands and fathers who neglect their children and abuse their spouses, wives and mothers who neglect their children and abuse their spouses, men and women who manipulate and abuse each other to satisfy carnal cravings – all of these are contrary to the Creator’s intentions for the descendants of אּישׁ and נָשִׁים. Pause and reflect for a moment on this quote from Matthew Henry (1662-1714):

   “Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

For those of us who remember the good old Baltimore Catechism we may recall that Matrimony confers Sacramental Graces which are “1st, To sanctify the love of husband and wife; 2nd, To give them grace to bear with each other’s weaknesses; 3rd, To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.”

In closing, I would be remiss not to present Jesus’ very clear teaching on this:

Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. God did not, has not, will not Consecrate or condone any other Matrimony. Earthlings have attempted to change the definition of Matrimony and marriage as a marriage solemnized as a civil contract without religious ceremony between any two human beings regardless of gender. Some have also decided that it’s pointless to even consider marriage when cohabitation – regardless of gender or number – brings psychosocial satisfaction to participants. Let me state as plainly as possible; this is wrong and must be condemned as must all other aberrations of relationships between men and women. It is equally wrong to say, “it’s none of my/your business.” If that’s not acceptable, we’ll have plenty of time between now and the Resurrection to complain about it to God – you see, he makes the rules; we don’t!

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

— at your service, Belovéd!

Remember this?

GOD ≡ LIGHT ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ ETERNAL ≡ MERCY ≡ GOD

Click on it! ( ↨ Music Link)

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – September 28, 2018 – Discernment and Discrimination

1839AFC091418 – Discernment and Discrimination

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 9:38-40 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Well, I think we’re “Back in the Saddle Again.” Although it will be only three weeks this coming Monday (10/1), progress is being made. I haven’t been able to get busy on my keyboard during most of that time, blinksut that is starting to change. Thank you – all of you – again for the prayerful support. My caregivers – Timothy and Crucita – thank you as well. Now, let’s get into this lesson which I’ve been percolating for a couple of weeks.

In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, the Disciples are appalled that others who are not “us” are doing something that belongs to “us.” They are not us. They shouldn’t be doing what we do. It is wrong for them to be like us because they are the “other.” This perception is one of the main stanchions on which “Civilization” is built. We are us. You are them. You are not us and we are not you. The “Us-Them Dichotomy” has been written about in thousands of texts and articles. How in the World did we ever come up with something so polarizing?

It’s in every form of story, history, Scripture, religion, nationalism, and even in our speculations about whether or not other sentient life exists “somewhere out there.” This tendency to form identity through exclusion is so natural that we never really think about it much. We do not often realize how disruptive this divisiveness is. Perhaps there are some earthlings who – by some fault of nature – have ideas that are radically dehumanizing, or pathological expressions of mental disorders, perhaps it is “merely ignorance” or pig-headed defiance, or even warped perceptions of interpersonal identifications brought about by inhumane abuse – whatever may be the genesis of negativity for some of us, most of us do not fixate every waking moment on the tension of dissention and the seduction of destruction. We cannot help but notice, however, that there are indeed some persons who do live like that, persons who actually do fixate every waking moment on the idea of destroying THEM. One might hope that deep in the soul of such a one there would be a glimmer of goodness and rightness – the “Anakin Skywalker” waiting to be released. As we are reminded daily through the major syndicated media, that is a very shallow hope. The individuals and groups that are consumed with malevolent wrath about their stations in life stridently proclaim that their angst is the fault of others who discriminate against them.

This word, DISCRIMINATE, is ill-used these days. It is not properly understood and the connotative meaning has obscured the genuine denotative meaning. Sometimes it is even confused with the word DISCERN. Let’s find out how these words are so easily confused in this era of violent divisiveness.  Both words start with the prefix dis which is a Latin prefix indicating apart, separated, asunder, separate, negative, opposite. DISCERN has as its root a Latin root cenere – to separate, distinguish, perceive, recognize, notice, observe. DISCRIMINATE seems to be virtually identical. It is derived from discrimen – distinction which yields discriminat- which means distinguish between by noting difference, interval, distinction, separation. We use DISCERN when speaking of an individual, personal perception of an unobvious yet ubiquitous underlying truth. We use DISCRIMINATE when speaking of using perceptions of obvious distinctions as the bases for judgments which may or may not be valid or true. Discriminating, as originally used, involves acute and precise observations of differences, of distinction, of separation and division, and of characteristics. Today it has a meaning very meaning that is more closely related to judgment. Judgment involves a perceived difference in power, and that one person has the right to use that power against another. Discernment is more internal in its aspects and is used to make choices based on reasoning, intuition, or verifiable perceptions. It is devoid of partiality. We might easily conclude that discernment is always good and discrimination is always bad. Let’s look at some Scripture for guidance on that analysis.

God made a distinction between the Nation of Israel and all other nations when he chose them as “his people,” brought them out of Egypt, and established them in Canaan through the intentional annihilation of other nations in that region.  God gave earthlings his spirit and created them in his likeness and image. Animals, on the other hand, are created by him but not created like him.  “You Only Live Once,” and it’s forever. Not all souls will spend “forever” in the presence of God.  There are entry requirements for Heaven! (and for Hell as well!) God’s laws command that we discriminate between all that is holy and all that is wicked.  Jesus taught that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge others, and that we must amend our own lives before pointing out deficiencies in the lives of others. Is any of this discernment on God’s part, or discrimination? What do you think? “Well, I think you’re off your rocker old man! Discrimination isn’t in the Bible, and in fact it’s unbiblical! What do you think of that!?”

I think that’s close to being true, at least in the negative, judgmental sense attached to “discrimination” in our culture (even around the world). But let me just put a list of passages where “discern” is used: Genesis 31:32, Genesis 38:25, 2 Samuel 14:17, 2 Samuel 19:35, 1 Kings 3:9, 1 Kings 3:11, Ezra 3:13, Job 4:16, Job 6:30, Ezekiel 44:23, Jonah 4:11, Malachi 3:18, Matthew 16:3, Luke 12:56, Hebrews 5:14. I didn’t put links on them because I want you to trust that I have that right. If I was being judgmental, I’d say that you probably wouldn’t click on all of those links anyway. (But go ahead and try at least 2-3 if you wish!) So here’s my question: Based on what you’ve just seen above, am I wrong in stating

  • Abortion is murder, and those who promote or perform abortion are accomplices to murder and therefore evil?
  • There is but one God and his name is YHWH – El Shaddai-Olam?
  • There are “truths” to be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, but only Real Truth is found only in Christianity?
  • There are two genders – period, and any claim otherwise is unfounded and totally subjective?
  • There is one race – the human race – which God made remarkably diverse and that any creed, culture, law, or action that denies that is evil?
  • Judging someone for actions instigated by, for, or through evil is discernment and not racist, biased, misogynistic, prejudicial, or unbiblical?
  • It is quite likely more souls are going to Hell than to Heaven this week?
  • ALL of the above are nondiscriminatory statements?

Consider these:
Discriminate against the World and its baubles
1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

Do not expect spiritual actions from those who are unspiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:14 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

If someone claims to be Christian but their actions proclaim otherwise – stay away from them. If someone who claims not to be a Christian acts in the same way, have nothing to do with them, either.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons – 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one.

Don’t get hung up on convoluted controversies. It does not depend on what the definition of “IS” is.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 23 Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, 25 correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, 26 and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Confront heresy directly, fearlessly, and properly (without silly arguments) all the time.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.

If it is of human and not divine origin, it is most likely ungodly, unbiblical, evil, and idolatrous.
Wisdom 14:22-31 22 Then it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but though living in great strife due to ignorance, they call such great evils peace. 23 For whether they kill children in their initiations, or celebrate secret mysteries, or hold frenzied revels with strange customs, 24 they no longer keep either their lives or their marriages pure, but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve one another by adultery, 25 and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury, 26 confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors, defiling of souls, sexual perversion, disorder in marriages, adultery, and debauchery. 27 For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil. 28 For their worshipers either rave in exultation, or prophesy lies, or live unrighteously, or readily commit perjury; 29 for because they trust in lifeless idols they swear wicked oaths and expect to suffer no harm. 30 But just penalties will overtake them on two counts: because they thought wrongly about God in devoting themselves to idols, and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for holiness. 31 For it is not the power of the things by which people swear, but the just penalty for those who sin, that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.

Belovéd, what are we to do? Where is this gift of discernment which is not judgmental and not discrimination in the most negative sense? How can we purge this evil from our midst? I know of only one way: Replace it. Love with discernment.

Must we love everybody? Of course we must. “But I don’t really like him/her/them at all!” We don’t have to like someone to Love them. Perhaps people we don’t like are actually easier to love. With people we like, there are always little things we wish maybe they would or wouldn’t do. But that’s not always true with people we don’t like. Everything they do sets us off, so there are no little tweaks we might hope for in our relationships with them. If we’re going to love them, we have to love them as-is, warts and all as the saying goes. Not all love is Love. Have you ever heard the hymn –

Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me Lyrics Albert Orsborn Melody (↔ Music Link)

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me (Jones)
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity.
O Thou Spirit divine all my nature refine
‘Til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.*

When your burden is heavy and hard to bear
When your neighbors refuse all your load to share
When you’re feeling so blue, don’t know just what to do
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

When somebody has been so unkind to you,
Some word spoken that pierces you through and through.
Think how He was beguiled, spat upon and reviled,
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you

From the dawn of the morning ’til close of day,
In example in deeds and in all you say,
Lay your gifts at His feet, ever strive to keep sweet
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

*  This first verse is transcribed as originally written. Additional lyrics composed by other lyricists.

That is how we discern – with eyes, hearts, and mind of Love seen as the Beauty of Jesus!

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.


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 – September 21, 2018 – Tongue Tied

1838AFC092118 – Tongue Tied

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Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This weekend is another difficult post. I had intended to write on Discernment and Discrimination. Not all love is Love; however, my DELL’s internal Power Supply croaked, so we’re going to go a different direction. There is so much in the news these days about things the people said and/or did even decades ago. The tone of the rhetoric back and forth is wearying. The world is filled with self-proclaimed experts in any and every subject. Everyone claims to have the right solution – all of which pretty much boil down to “I was right all along and all of you knew that but did it wrong anyway!” The mythical 15-minutes-of-fame has become a marathon of accusations, counter-accusations, and often outright lies which deluge the Information Highway with more than any of us can possibly process – all ending in a lifetime of shame (sometimes well-earned!). The other day it got me thinking about the way cowboys would prevent their horse from running off; they hobbled it – they tied it up in such a way that it could still graze, but not wander far from camp. I wondered if we could hobble – or even completely tie up – those wagging tongues and the vicious damages they care causing.

Today I have two things on my mind. The first is this past Sunday’s Healing Word: Orbit. The second is this verse from

   Proverbs 13:3 Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives; those who open wide their lips come to ruin.

This passage always reminds me that [1] one of these days my mouth is going to be the end of me, and [2] despite that, I can do something about it. I know this because of what I learned when studying the Epistle of James 3:1-12. (Go ahead and read that one right quick. It’s very helpful!)

James talks about the power of speech, the power of the tongue. The power of speech is one of the most amazing gifts God has given us. In any language a human can praise God, bless God, worship God, adore God, glorify God, teach fellow souls about the power of God’s Word, and assist the Holy Spirit to lead lost sinners to Christ. But with that same tongue we can blaspheme God, insult God, sin against God and our brothers and sisters, and – like the Adversary – we can tell lies that can ruin a life, destroy a relationship, or break someone’s heart.

We have the ability to speak truth; it is certainly the best way to influence others; and yet so often we take this ability for granted or – worse – abuse it and invent our own “truth.” James’ Epistle gives us several different ways to understand the versatility of the tongue: the bit, the rudder, fire, a poisonous animal, a fountain, and a fig tree. I’d like to focus on the first and third of those for today.

A bit: Let’s think of the whole body and then think about how small a part of that body comprises the tongue. Yet, for such a small part, it truly is wonderful because of all the things it does; Taste, chew, speak, swallow, spit watermelon seeds, whistle, drink, even breathe; all of these things are possible because of the way the tongue was created. Small thing; big functionality. That functionality is one of the major determining factors in how we live out the course of our life on Earth. James points out another small thing with big functionality: a bit – and bridle of course. The analogy is that we put a bit into a horse’s mouth and – with the bridle – we can control a horse. A horse something that is animal as opposed to mineral, alive as opposed to inert, has a certain amount of self volition as opposed to with no self-control (bingo!), and doesn’t work at all unless it is held firmly in place. Hmmm. My tongue is alive, often does what I don’t want (including get between my teeth when I am eating), and sometimes I lose control of it because it gets disconnected from my bridle a/k/a brain. And whenever it “acts out on its own” someone or something usually gets hurt.

Fire: Many lives, governments, marriages, self-images, and even politicians have been reduced to ashes by a “tiny slip of the tongue,” a “little white lie,” an insult delivered as humor, or complex orchestrations of propaganda. James points out that the smallest spark – set loose carelessly or deliberately I would say – can set a whole forest afire. If you’ve ever been at a bonfire, you know how hot and dangerous it can be, and that’s a fire that is supposed to be controllable. A forest fire is something that is at once terrifying and fascinating. Who cannot watch the images on TV as a fire creeps across the land devouring everything in its path? But if you’ve ever been at, in, or even close to a forest fire, you know it is something only slightly less powerful than the ocean. Such destruction can begin from the smallest incident and progress far beyond its place of origin. Even a small, brief contact with fire can cause lasting trauma. Have you ever burned your finger lighting a match or picking up a heated object? Fire can cause hurt and, in some instances – depending on how it is controlled – can also provide help. We set intentional burns to make fire-breaks, we cauterize wounds, we smelt ore, we cook food, we defend against the wild, and fill a room with light – all generated by fire under control. James’ point is that when fire is allowed to be out-of-control, usually bad things happen. I am leaving lightening strikes out of this illustration because, for me, that opens the door to another huge area of learning.

James’ images in this passage are meant to show us what may happen when we fail to control our tongues. He states that the person who can control his/her tongue can control the whole body – and avoid sinning in the flesh. If we step back a little farther and look at the context of this passage, we see that it begins with an admonition to those who are, or wish to be, teachers. In the early church there were apparently a lot of people who laid claim to knowing the truth about Jesus. James admonishes them to be careful, because a teacher has a greater and higher level of accountability. The authority to teach can be abused; it can even be falsified. James cautions people to be discerning about the fruit of their service to others. (See last week’s AFC as well as Matthew 7:14, and Luke 6:44). We, too, must be discerning (see 1 John 4:1-3 … “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, 3 and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.”

OK, so we get the idea: The tongue can be a tiny little monster at times, yet it is essential to life, but can also be a source of death. We need to be careful how we control it and how we deal with the consequences. Another passage in Proverbs speaks of the person who doesn’t care about the destructive power of his carelessly spoken words. “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking!’” (See Proverbs 26:18-19) Often the folks who cannot keep their mouths shut and control their speech (including Social Media Speech) claim “I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I know it was wrong, and I apologize.” Or “It’s my inalienable human right to say and do what I want. If you don’t like it, leave, or do what I demand.” (See Proverbs 26:18-19) It’s easy to let our ego move us away from “love thy neighbor as thyself” and smack-dab into “Umm-m-m-m-m! You stu-ped! I’m going to tell.” It’s easy because that’s what The World expects under the domination of The Prince of The Air – Satan, The Accuser whose whole existence is controlled by his own lying tongue. Because of that he was cast away from God, and when I follow his advice, I am also moving away from my Creator.

Some days I am close enough to God and strong enough in my faith that the Light and Warmth of The Son enriches everything in my life. Other days my orbit carries me into cold and darkness and my life shrivels; that dark cold even affects everyone in my life.

  • When my orbit has nothing at the center, I just run around in a circle until I lose control and dash off into oblivion.
  • When I orbit around something powerful enough to keep bringing me in no matter how much or how often my own momentum wants to carry me out, my orbit is cleaner and less likely to lead to destruction.
  • When I orbit with and around others who are centered in that same power, we influence each other and become a system of orbiting bodies. Now I can’t extend that too far without running into trouble, because the point I want to make is that where we have the potential and power to control our lives, we should do so.

Orbits are a complex function of gravity and mass. That gravitational pull is a little like a bridle. If I oversimplify that, and draw that oversimplification back to the passage in the Letter of James, what I learn is that the best place to put that bridle connected to the bit that controls my life is in the hands of The Master. My brain, my heart, my tongue, my imagination, my devotions – all of these can be turned over to Him. Once in a while (like nearly every day) in the same way a headstrong horse yanks at the bit-and-bridle, I can regain “control” for a while. That usually does not turn out well. That bridle is the “orbit” that keeps me centered on where the Real Power resides. Hobble my tongue, Lord. I don’t want to hurt anyone with that thing!

Thank you for your prayers this past week. My surgery was spot on, but the recuperation is considerably different this time. Much more swelling and level 7,8 pain in my left thigh pretty much 24/7. However, both prostheses are properly placed, I’ve got the best Ortho team and PT team, and two exceptional caregivers who are helping me get going – Crucita and Timothy. Please continue your prayerful support of everyone in the MBN, especially those who have asked for our prayers. I really do hope you ae using the prayer list link I provide. And while we’re at it, there’s this from that page:

We pray for all leaders everywhere in all institutions, governments, organizations, religions, families, and relationships that they might govern with morality, com passion, integrity, wisdom, and justice so that we can all live together in Peace. LORD GOD, tie up our tongues so that in our thoughts, words, and deeds we will not sin against you or each other.

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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 – September 14, 2018

1837AFC091418 – Recuperation-Required Rerun

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! This week I just don’t have the stamina to spend 6-8 hours at my keyboard creating this week’s post. I wasn’t able to use my computer earlier in the week because it was seriously ill – the monitor finally died yesterday – so that pushed everything into Thursday, and there’s just not enough left in the tank. The topic I was given will require some clear thinking and a good deal of research, so we’ll just have to try that another time. Instead, I’m going to send a rerun of something from 2012 that is connected to the readings for this weekend: Isaiah 50:4-9Psalm 116:1-6, 8-9James 2:14-18Mark 8:27-35

James 3:17 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.

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika’i ‘oe! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you!)

Today we take a peek into a truly remarkable epistle, the Epistle of James. First, let’s pick up a little background. The Epistle of James begins, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” In this opening greeting, James refers himself as a servant (viz. “slave”) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This points us away from the assumption that the epistle was written by the same James that was an Apostle, the brother of John, and a possible relative of Jesus who is usually referred to by the word ἀδελφὸν [{a•DEL•phon}: a brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian] (See Galatians 1:19)

   Secondly, this document is not really in the form of an epistle – a letter – like those which were written by Paul. There’s no general blessing at the beginning, and the document ends abruptly by stating that whoever converts a sinner “will save his soul and will cover a multitude of sins.” No one who is a contemporary of James is mentioned by name. Only the Great Heroes of the Jews are mentioned. It has no distinct divisions other than segues from one topic to another. It is a very pleasant, well-composed essay about the ethical boundaries the Christian Community should respect and teach. It is a collection of the respected teaching of someone who had a strong commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior, James the Just. The “letter” was distributed and studied widely throughout the Diaspora. For the next 300 years or so there was ongoing debate as to whether or not this document was something that should be included in the uncontested (canonical) literature but it was finally ratified by the third council of Carthage in 397 AD. It always traveled with the name JAMES attached to it.

This particular JAMES seems to have been recognized as a representative of the early Christian community in Jerusalem who is often referred to as James the Just. He was stoned to death under the authority of the High Priest at that time, one Ananus II, who was the son of the High Priest Ananias who completed a famous role in the Passion of Christ. It may be no coincidence that this epistle seems to have appeared within a year or so of that incident, around 62 A.D. James was clearly a man who was well respected in the early church, not just in Jerusalem, but throughout the Diaspora, the dispersion of the Jews and of the Church. I accept the assertion of many scholars who have identified him as “James the brother of the Lord” – a cousin of Jesus – who at first did not believe, but then came to know a profound faith when Jesus appeared to him individually after the resurrection (See Corinthians 15:3-11 especially v. 7)

So, all in all, this epistle was a collection of information sent out by James the Just and/or his disciples. It was sent to encourage the early Christians (first called Christians in the Church of Antioch in about 31 AD) to endure everything brought against them by

 

  • relying on God’s generous wisdom, James 1:5
  • recognizing Christ as the Living Word of God (LOGOS), James 1:19-2:13 16
  • understanding the true work of faith by putting true faith to work James 2:14-26
  • speaking always in, through, and with LOVE James 3:1-12
  • tuning to the wisdom of God to inform the wisdom of man James 3:13-18
  • submitting fully to God’s authority and teaching in Jesus James 4:1-17
  • resisting the enticements of materialism James 5:1-6
  • waiting patiently for the imminent return of the Lord, James 5:7-11 and
  • using the power of faith rather than the power of persuasion James 5:12-20

For the next 300 years or so there was ongoing debate as to whether or not this document was something that should be included in the uncontested (canonical) literature but it was finally ratified by the third council of Carthage in 397 AD.

The two verses I chose capture something about the book of James that has always brought me back to reading it when I have questions about how certain things should get done – day-to-day living things. I have a knack for finding ways to do foolish things, to “lack wisdom.” At times it seems it is the only aspect of my life in which I truly excel. James 1:5 was one verse that was quoted frequently to me when I was growing up. The idea is to ask God for HIS wisdom, because it’s way better than mine, and to ask with confidence because of God’s generosity.

From there, James goes on to say. “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” There is just so much good, practical, easy-to-understand advice in this treatise on good Christian conduct. If you have teens in your family, try reading it with them– half a chapter a day at least –so they can hear the content. It will serve them well both soon and later.

It is in James that we have the idea of the tongue being a terribly powerful weapon worse than fire, stronger that a ship’s rudder, and able to bring calamity on others and especially one’s self. (James 3:1-12) In the very next section of James, he writes about the importance of wisdom from above and how those who teach about God must rely on that more than anything else. Only the Wisdom of God is so pure that it can put our hearts and minds at rest. Our own wisdom leaves much that can undo itself, whereas God’s wisdom is so complete that there is nothing in it which can be undone. It is not through religiosity that wisdom comes, but the The Spirit of God which is the Spirit of Wisdom that accompanied God at the Creation and is with God always. Immersing our intent in God’s wisdom makes that intent pure and peaceable and the person with that intention become purified, humbled, and holy. It purifies the heart above all else, making the intention and the one who holds that intention righteous, harmless, and just.

When our inward lives – our hearts and minds – are transformed like this, made pure and just in the Wisdom of God, our outward lives – our works, prayers,  joys, sorrow, sufferings, victories, defeats, distress, desires, and dreams – all of these in turn become pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.

So we know we should seek God’s own Wisdom, and sometimes even God’s own energy, so we can grasp that wisdom, and when He bestows that wisdom on us, we must accept it with humility and openness so that we will willingly allow our life in him to conform to that Wisdom which is also His will and His Gift to us through Jesus.

It would probably take you about 20 minutes to read straight through this remarkable document (which truly is one of my favorite things to do), so I urge you sometime this week either to read it through, or just read 1 chapter a day until all five chapters have been read. I am certain you will benefit from that exercise.

And here is Wisdom, Belovéd:

 

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When your enemies treat you with kindness and are conciliatory, are you more inclined to spring to a renewed attack, or return the kindness with the goal of reconciliation?

W-W-J-D? Easy answer: Die for you to reconcile you to God.

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

Next time we hope to get into Discernment and Discrimination. Not all love is Love.

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 – September 7, 2018 – UNPLUGGED

1836AFC090718 – UNPLUGGED

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

   Isaiah 35:5-6 * – Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; * The Link will take you to this passage in context. Additional discussion will be based on that context.

Psalm 146:8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.

Mark 7:32, 33a-35 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Thanks and praise be to God who gives us everything that’s good and in whom there is no change or variation. (See James 1:17-18 from last week) This week as I open the kit that contains God’s gift for us, I am grateful that he still insists on taking an active role in my day-to-day life. Yes, he is there with me every day. We get up together, and my day starts with, Good morning LORD, and thank you for this day. As we go out to help the world together, go beside me all the way.” My friend and fellow laborer in Christ, Brendan Case, reminded me of that recently. The Holy Spirit, who is the Lord, the Giver of Life, goes with us everywhere we go because … well, because it’s what he does. Remember, from the very moment God created earthlings he wanted to be with us. Even when we are not receptive to his presence, he still wants to go with us. It’s pretty clear he loves this place he created. He feeds all the animals (or goes along when we feed them), and takes care of the seas, the breeze, the grass, and the trees. Sure, things get messed up – we have storms, and fires, and diseases, and discomforts; but, he’s still with us all the time because he always wants to give us good things, things that help restore our awareness of him. When that awareness is restored we can see him and hear him so very much better. He likes it like that.

As I was contemplating the readings for this weekend (See Lectio Divina), I was reminded of something my parents used to say. It was a bit of nonsense that was clearly meant to be amusing. These days, I suppose someone could stand up and say, “That offends me!” Well, y’all have a right to be offended, I suppose, and that’s that as the offense is within you, and not me. Here’s that silly little quote: “I saw,” said the blind man, “a hole in the wall.” “So I’ve heard,” said the deaf-mute, “but, you can’t see at all!” As Mr. Spock would say, “That is illogical.” A blind man cannot see a hole in the wall, and the deaf-mute could not chastise him about his statement. But you know, God certainly takes that in a different turn. He says that the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will speak, the lame will walk – and LEAP!, and sick will be cured, and the dead shall be raised. (See 1 Corinthians 15:50-52) In this World, that just doesn’t make sense; and that is precisely my point. Those are the things that occur in the Kingdom of God, and as Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem to willingly die for us, he paused along the way to share God’s gloriously generous gift of mercy with all who would accept it. Sometimes he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” (See Mark 10:51) Sometimes he said “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (See Matthew 9:28) At one point he asks, “Why are you looking for me?” (See Luke 2:49) Jesus confronted his Disciples with their own blindness and other limitations. It was as if their eyes were filled with dust, and their ears with mud. They could neither see nor hear that the Gospel was the Key to the Kingdom of God. It was like their eyes and ears were all plugged up. Jesus’ confrontations were intended to help them get unplugged.

We talk about “going unplugged” these days, too. In this technical age, we usually mean turning off the iPhone (or Blackberry or Android or whatever), and shutting down our social media account(s) for a time. In the world of music, it means playing music with acoustical instruments – unamplified and perhaps in a way more pure. Jesus beckons us to get completely unplugged so we can see and hear better. “Take the plank out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your brother’s eye. (See Matthew 7:5) Jesus repeatedly told the Disciples (not just the Apostles, but all who came to listen to him) that they should relinquish everything that tied them to The World. He wanted them to turn away from evil and embrace the Gospel (… repent and believe the good news – Mark 1:15) We have many expressions that describe what happens when we have so much going on that we can’t think straight – plugged up, jammed up, messed up, muddied up, overwhelmed, plunged under, backslid, lost, and hopelessly confused. In the Kingdom of God, all of those get fixed. We can taste and see that the Lord is Good (See Psalm 34:8). All of this happens when we stop saying, “I’ve got this” and start saying, “Jesus, can you get that for me?” We often (usually?) fail to recognize, as did the Disciples, that what we can do for, in, and with ourselves in this World is of no avail. We who know Christ and claim him as Savior walk with the Holy Spirit everywhere all the time. He’s right there, asking to be included in what we’re doing; we choose to carry on with our DIY attitude and leave him out of our day. But, what if we didn’t?

What if every day we unplugged, unjammed, cleaned up, drained out, and plunged ahead? What if we blinked and cleared our eyes, washed out or ears, cleaned up our mouths, purified our hearts, brightened our spirits, and jumped for joy in the Lord instead of slogging along in the World? What if we looked harder into the answer Jesus gave to John’s Disciples when they asked him “Are you the One?” Look at Matthew 11:4-5 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. “That’s cool,” you say, “But that’s Jesus. This is me, and I can’t do that.” Oh, yeah? Well unplug your ears, open your eyes, and latch on to this in John 14:12 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. (Thank you, Brendan, for reminding us of that! Brendan says faith works like ABC’s – A: I can’t do that. B: God can. C: I’m gonna let him! Check out these books and other lessons.) The Lord has done marvelous deeds (See Psalm 118:23 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.) This is how we affirm that The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. We can go directly to Jesus, with the Holy Spirit at our side as our helper and advocate, and ask him to open our eyes, empower our mouths, unstop our ears, enliven our hands, and cleanse our hearts. We can, and must, invite him to treat us to recurring moments of Ephphatha:  34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. What if you prayed, “Oh, God! I want to be unplugged!” Do you think Jesus might ask you, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” What will you say, what will you see, what will you hear if you do believe?!?!? Try it! You’ll like it! Why not give it a go? You know by now the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. Not you, you say? It’s time to wrap it up then.

   I said earlier that there would be more from the context of Isaiah 35. If we want to know where we’ll end up if we ask Jesus to make us whole, we can just take a look at Isaiah 35:8 A highway shall be there,  and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. If we are in any way plugged up, jammed up, messed up, muddied up, overwhelmed, plunged under, backslid, lost, and hopelessly confused – then we need to hit the road called the Holy Way. We have seen that Jesus has pointed us on The Way, and given us a Companion to be our guide. Let’s get unplugged – together – and enter in by that King’s High Way, for indeed, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Try see Isaiah 30:21!  (Seriously, ya gotta click on that one!)

 

 

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 31, 2018 – What’d ya get?

1835AFC083118 – What’d ya get?

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   Mark 7:18-23 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions* come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (See also Matthew 15:16-20)

*In the Old Testament, God often refers to these as imaginations, the wicked inclinations of our hearts, and the malevolent plots we make against each other – and HIM!

James 1:17-18 17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! In the readings for this weekend, we once again hear from the Apostle James. I think that epistle is one of my favorite Inspirations Stations. There are so many wonderful bits of advice. Nearly every sentence is worth a homily. The verses I chose from James today appear frequently in these lessons. When we talk about gifts, or stewardship, or God’s generosity, or God’s undeniable Power and Might, we are talking about how he gives us gifts. When we accept his gifts, open them, and use them, God is happy, and we are happier for having made use of his gifts – that is, if we use his gifts properly. There is one particular gift we manage to use improperly way too often: Imagination. Here’s an example:

Genesis 6:5 (Maftir) Adonai saw that the people on earth were very wicked, that all the imaginings of their hearts were always of evil only. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

If you click on that link, you’ll also see this verse in the Authorized King James version. That’s the Bible I grew up with. I remember studying this verse – along with others where “imagin*” was used. Imagination, the gift of thought, is one of God’s greatest gifts. It must have been in us even before the Fall, because Eve and Adam were able to imagine what it would be like to be more like God. That was the first instance where earthlings misused the gift of thought and instead of thinking up something good, something evil entered the heart and mind of humanity. The Hebrew word root used here is יֵ֫צֶר (yetser) {yay’-tser} – thought, the forming of ideas in the mind, imagination, mind, frame / framework. It is also translated as inclination of the human heart; for example we have this from the ending of the Great Flood Story:

Genesis 8:20-22 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” We have a propensity – a natural tendency – to use our imagination for things that are contrary to God’s nature and will. When we do that, we contaminate our lives with “fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.” In the passage from Matthew (Matthew 15:16-20) the list goes For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. We are given the gift of thought – imagination – to help us appreciate God’s Grace and Generosity. We also have a gift that we can employ to make turning thought into actions that are holy: Free Will. This is another gift we frequently do not use well. What do you get when you use these gifts? As it does will all of God’s gifts, it depends on how you use them. How we use them depends on how we understand them. What is a gift?

A gift is something that is transferred from one person to another. It is “paid for” by the giver and not by the person who receives. Yet if the gift is given and received, the one who receives give honor to the giver by accepting the gift, and so we exchange gifts by giving and receiving. If a gift is given but not accepted, then the giver is demeaned. A gift cannot be a gift if it is not accepted freely without sense of obligation to return a gift or payment. Nor is a received gift meant to be horded. This especially applies to gifts from God. They’re not much use if you do something with them!

   All of God’s gifts come as a kit. The gift and everything you need to be able to use it effectively come together in one package. Not only that, but he also gave us an instruction manual. Remember “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”? Yep. The B-I-B-L-E. He also gives us living examples of how to share and appreciate his gifts – Tradition and the Lives of His Holy Ones. You don’t have to be canonized to be a Saint. You just have to accept and to use God’s gifts. You use them by giving them away. In the image shown, what part is the part that has been given? What is the part that has been lost? How much more is there to give? And does giving it away mean we get emptier or fuller? Think about these things as you enumerate the gifts that have been given to you: Have you accepted all of them? How do you know what they are? Are there some more out there or in there that you have not yet accepted? How much have you given? Is that enough? What about the gift of LOVE? You know you have it – how do you use it?

When we love another, we try to please that person. We find out what the other likes, what pleases them, and strive to provide whatever it is at whatever the cost. Such is love; the deeper the love, the deeper the cost. No one can outdo God’s generosity, and it is foolish to try, even foolish to believe we can somehow repay him. How then can we please him?

There’s the ultimate Bonus Question! “If I could answer that, I’d make millions!” Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know the answer isn’t that hard. Why? Because God seems to never tire of telling us what it takes to make him happy. Here’s what HE says:

  • Don’t make anyone or anything else more important to you than I AM.
  • Do what I tell you to do and do that all the time
  • Don’t be afraid of me; I love you and you are mine. (↔ Music Link)
  • Take care of yourself and your neighbors.
  • Be kind to widows, orphans, prisoners, and foreigners.
  • Don’t hurt anyone, but don’t be a wimp either. You can be humble and still be strong.
  • Honor me by accepting and using all the gifts I give you
  • Be like me. I AM Light. I AM Love. I AM justice tempered with mercy. I AM righteousness. I AM in integral part of you.
  • Wake up! Stop dying in the Darkness and start living in the Light!
  • All I need from you is a humble and contrite heart so there is plenty of room for me to fill up your life with countless blessings.

Little Children, my Belovéd, let us seek the Light and only the Light for that is what best pleases the Father of Lights. See James 1:17. If we use our imagination to spur us into the actions of Love, we will be helping one another love each other. Try this on for size: Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. When we use our gift of thought to guide and inform our gift of Love, we make Love grow. When we use our gift of thought to manipulate and re-form our gift of love, we make Love corrupt, toxic, and filled with fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. If we think we are “owed” love, we are thinking wrongly! Love and thought are gifts – gifts among thousands and thousands of blessings every single earthling receives throughout every single life.

They are gifts, not rewards. They are a matter of grace and not of merit. Such are all the favors which God bestows on sinners including forgiveness, peace, joy, holiness, and eternal life. It is an invitation (κλῆσις – klēsis in Greek), not a command; a beckoning rather than an imperative – and it is always with the intent of bestowing “grace beyond measure.” In this passage the gifts are things that make up the very core of all of us. They are gifts that allow us to more fully live our lives as he intended. They are not gifts that can be taken away. Are you in a ministry? That can be lost. We’ve certainly seen that before. Have you refused a calling to serve in the capacity for which you were created? You could miss out on a happy life because of it. No, these external gifts can be lost or refused, damaged or ignored. God’s deepest, oldest, and most wonderful gifts are part of us from the moment of creation and come to us by God’s perfect will for us. The Apostle Paul told us in Romans 11:29 29 … the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. And it is God’s will that we shall not be deprived of those gifts – no one can take them away from us; BUT we can use them wrongly, we can squander them on things that are ungodly, we can dishonor the Giver by dishonoring the Gift.

God gives us so many gifts! Life and health, faith and love and certainly hope, prosperity or poverty, shelter and peace, and all things of earthly life. All of these, if you think about it, can pass from our possession; but the calling to him and his righteousness, and the gifts of salvation are irrevocable. Everybody has them. Not all accept them. But let’s look at one man who did.

God has called you, and you will know constant joy and peace in your earthly life when you accept that call because that call guarantees you will receive all of his abundant love and grace here and in eternity with him. God has called you, and you will know unmanageable sorrow and conflict in your earthly life when you ignore that call because while that refusal guarantees you may perhaps receive some of the blessings give to all people of good will, you will not partake in all of the abundant love and grace – not because he withholds it, but only because you refuse it. Do you remember Diana Ross’ big hit, “I’m going to make you love me?” God would never sing that song! He will never force you to accept his love, his protection, his eternal life, or his forgiveness. He will, however, allow you to wallow in the discomforts caused by self-righteousness, obstinacy, and arrogant proclamations of self-sufficiency. To put it bluntly, you’ll be left twisting in the wind.

However, if you heard the call and accepted the gifts, you are happy with your life because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (See Romans 8:28) And what is his purpose? Belovéd, it is simply to be able to spend all eternity with you – yes! YOU! – for you are one of his all-time favorite bits of creation, so that your Joy will be complete. (See John 15:11) You have the gift of thought; think about this: Try to list the very BEST gifts you’ve gotten. What’d ya get? God can give you what you can imagine; after all, he is God! Jeremiah 32:27 27 “Look, I am Adonai, the God of every living creature; is there anything too hard for me? Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. What do you imagine he’d like you to have and to use?

Make a list of all the things [1] you’re good at that [2] you really love to do and that [3] other people tell you they notice. Anything that makes all three of those criteria is a gift you are sharing. Then, continue the list with the things you’re good at and really love to do, but nobody ever notices you can do those things. Those are gifts you have been given but have not shared. Time to get busy heapin’ those gifts on everyone you can find! Then make a list of those things that you’re really good at, but don’t really enjoy all that much. Those are the gifts you stuck on the mantel or hid in the attic. It is time to open them up, take them out for a spin, and make better use of them.

One of the very-best gifts I got was that I was burned! Please follow that link for a look into the mind of an 11 year-old geek! Another of the very-best gifts I got is

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

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MBN Message — 1834.1AFC082618-John6Summary — August 26, 2017

1834.1AFC082618-John6Summary

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today’s Gospel once again comes from the Gospel of John, Chapter 6. It is a continuation of what we have been studying for five consecutive Sundays, from the 17th to the 21st Sundays in Ordinary Time. When we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi back in June, we cited passages from this chapter. John introduces The Church to Jesus’ teaching that his flesh is True Food and his Blood is True Drink. I’d like to share the post from that weekend with you again today as we reflect on the last portion of this amazing chapter. In the Old Testament reading, all of Israel affirms with Joshua that they will serve the LORD. In today’s Gospel, many are scandalized by Jesus’ words and fall away. They take offense at his teaching. Today, many are scandalized by Jesus’ teaching still, but even more are scandalized by what those who claim to be Disciples have done. We join The Church in praying for those who have misused the Gospel and tha authority of the church in ways that bring scandal. Here is a link to the lesson from Corpus Christ, and als a link to John, Chapter 6.

Post ~~ https://www.aloha-friday.org/archives/9021

John 6 ~~ http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/6

 

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Aloha Friday Message – August 24, 2018 – Serving Others

1834AFC0082418 – Serving Others

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   Ephesians 5:21 21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!)

Today we revisit one of my Dad’s favorite verses. I have a kind of flickering memory of a plaque in our home on Ivy Way that said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” My Dad really worked at living like that, and – as head of the household – he helped us understand it was the right way to live. We were to serve Jesus first, others, second, and ourselves last. This adage produced the acronym JOYJesus, Others, Yourself. After over 70 years of hearing that aphorism, I can vouch for its authenticity and value. In fact, we’ve covered this passage a couple of times previously (See these references) Today we will try to go after some additional insights, nonetheless we encourage you to check out at least one of the five messages at that link – perhaps “1234AFC082412 – Who’s your Master?” would be a good choice. If you do that, you can add some additional perspective to this message about submitting to another. What does that mean, anyway?

To submit, in this context, is to surrender, acquiesce, yield, accept, surrender; it is to cease desisting, stop resisting, and end insisting on getting things your way. We are not very good at that Belovéd! Our society greatly values independence, self-reliance, individualism to the point of exclusion of everyone else. Shall we serve someone? It breaks my heart to know that all too often the response to that is, “Oh, hell no!” If you will take a look at that other post, you’ll find this link: ~~ Bob Dylan Gotta serve somebody, 1979. (↔ Music Link) It’s a great track, so take some time to enjoy it. It’s a good tie-in with the idea of our Key Verse – Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is deep, deep Christology which we should investigate further.

In this passage, the word for submitting comes from ὑποτάσσω (hupotassó) {hoop-ot-as’-so} to place under, or submit one’s self; and it has a suffix – transliterated menoi – which in context means to remain, or to be held/kept continually; thus, we have ὑποτασσόμενοι (hupotassomenoi) {hoop-ot-as’-so-me’-nō-ee}. It is a relationship that is “forever;” it doesn’t dissolve in a torrent of adversity, or a puddle of disappointment. There is staying-power in this kind of relationship. It is like our relationship with Jesus is supposed to be – lasting, indestructible, and mutual. It is a Christ-like thing to do: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (See John 13:34) The apostle insists  married Christians should develop a strong mutual love as he insists that marriage is a ordained by God (See Genesis 2:24). In this context, Christian marriage takes on a deeper understanding of the intimate relationship of love between Christ and the church. Wives should assist their husbands in the same manner as t the Church  serves Christ (See Ephesians 5:22-24), and the husband should provide for  and nurture his wife with the devotion of Christ to the church (See Ephesians 5:25-30). This wasn’t “the way it was” back in Paul’s day. It certainly has been misrepresented and abused in recent history, and it isn’t really very popular these days, either. It is uncommon to find wives who are submissive to their husbands “in all things.” (See Ephesians 5:24) In fact, there are some couples – married or not – who believe mutual submission is junk and contrary to their life-values. As we have said here in the past, that’s not the way God set things up. There are rules in the universe he created, and one of those rules is mutuality of service – to Him and to each other.

That is why the Apostle Paul continues by saying “ to one another.” Being selfish creates an intolerable imbalance in the mutuality of respect. Respect is a gift that should be freely given. If the giver offers respect and the gift is rejected, then the intended recipient fails to gain respect. If we insist that respect – and by inference, love – must be earned, then that makes these kinds of relationships into commodities. You cannot earn respect because that makes it a commodity, something that can be bought or sold. You cannot – and must not insist upon – love being earned for the same reason. The act of loving must be a gift; when accepted, it becomes mutual; when rejected, it remains as love unreturned, but love nonetheless. Love is what prompts us to submit to another. God is Love. He loved us before we loved him. (See 1 John 4:19) We love God because of that – and because of everything else he does for us – and that mutuality of love completes God’s plans for us. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Loving and serving God is the precedent for loving and serving each other – even outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony. That is why the Apostle Paul continues by saying “ out of reverence for Christ.

We do not love one another or serve one another for personal gain. Well, that’s not quite right these days, is it? In fact, through the ages, many have professed love and service solely for the purpose of personal gain. It goes both ways; men as well as women misconstrue the concept of a marriage partner as a way to get ahead or even to get even. Here we can look back to what Joshua told Israel as they were on the verge of cleaning up Canaan: Joshua 24:15 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Belovéd, those who are unwilling to serve the LORD will certainly find it difficult to serve another. Conversely, those who have difficulty serving another will definitely have great difficulty in serving the Lord. If we place our lives as first, that places God – at best – as second, and that’s not going to last. That is the formula for a very turbulent and tortuous life. In Creation, there is a proper order for everything and everyone. Some of the more miserable people we know are trying so hard to combine unrelated life-ways that include truth and untruth. They want to be Christian / Buddhist / Hindu / Amerindian / Scientologist / Rastafarian all in one day. As Hagrid would say, “Codswallop!” (← Image Link!) This kind of “spiritualist Smörgåsbord” is unfulfilling; in fact it is so unhealthy that it brings about a perpetual despondence that cripples those who try it. “The LORD your God is ONE.” (See Deuteronomy 6:4 CJB) Of course that doesn’t mean that you’re not free to make up your own gods and serve them. You can even borrow other peoples’ gods to serve. If, however, you want to serve El Shaddai-Olam – Almighty-Everliving God – there’s only one choice, so take it, make it, and never break it. You have Free Will. Use it wisely. Try starting with this question:

Are you grateful that you serve God before all, in all, and for all? If you and your household truly serve the LORD, then serving others is part of your inner-being. It’s not nearly as difficult as many make it out to be – this whole idea of being subject to one another. Turn your eyes, you heart, your mind, your ears, your whole being upon Jesus. No matter what happens to you, when you Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, (↔ Music Link) your life is set aright. If you’re like me and things get “a little crazy” sometimes, take a minute to put your hand in the hand of the Man (↔ ANOTHER Music Link) who stilled the waters. You will indeed see others – and yourself – differently enough to be mutually subject to one another.

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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