Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
As I mentioned to you earlier, today is the feast of Christ the King.
This day is one of the newest feasts on the Christian calendar, having come to us in the latter part of the second decade of the 20th century. It came about because of a strange and deadly event.
The strange thing happened in October of 1917. The Russian government which had been a long-standing monarchy fell to what became Soviet communism. The Soviets had a very perverse and deadly philosophy that said that there was no God. That God existed, as Karl Marx had said, as an “opiate for the people.” And that the promise of heaven was something that had been invented simply to keep people happy and docile as they worked their way through the world for the benefit of the elite. It was, shall we say, the ultimate class-warfare argument.
Shortly after that, in 1925, Pope Pius XI created the feast of Christ the King and placed the feast on the very last Sunday in October. He placed it there for a simple reason: He wanted to make a final and definitive statement that, all appearances to the contrary, that Christ was the Lord of all things, both in heaven and on earth and under the earth. That all things ultimately stand under the authority of Jesus Christ, the second Person of the divine Godhead.
So on Christ the King we bring the season of Trinity almost to a dead stop. We put away our green vestments, bring out the royal gold, and celebrate this day to remind ourselves, especially to remind ourselves as Christians, Who is really in charge.
You know, things are not always what they seem. David Copperfield can make an elephant seem to disappear. He can make a building seem to disappear. However, elephants and buildings do not disappear because of a parlor trick.
When my wife and I were on a cruise, there was a magician who could take a deck of cards and he could make these cards do things that were statistically impossible. It was such an incredible trick, that I even wanted to sit as close to him as I could to see how it was done. The reason why? Things are not always what they seem.
Magicians create illusions. They blur the distinction between reality and illusion. They make you think that what is real is actually the opposite.
Now in the case of our Gospel reading today, we have the reverse. In this case the illusion is the starting point. Jesus stands before Pilate and appears to be weak and helpless and Pilate appears to hold all the cards. But that, my brothers and sisters, that is the illusion
Now any reasonable person in this situation seeing Jesus before Pilate, would have to say that Jesus was not the one with the power. After all, he had been taken captive by the Jews and Herod’s soldiers. He had been beaten and was probably a bloody pulp.And he was brought before Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman governor of the whole province.
Think about that for a minute.
It’s hard for us to realize just how powerful the Romans were. They controlled everything and their governors had the power to give life or demand death, whatever they wanted. A Roman governor could just do this on a whim: “Put that guy to death. Let’s go have lunch.”
It was that simple for them.
What is it that Pilate, standing there before this beaten man, says to Jesus? He says, “So, then, are you a king?”
“Are you a king?”
You can almost hear the sarcasm dripping from his voice. “Are you, this bloody man in front of me, this little carpenter from Nazareth, are you saying to me that you are a king of the Jews?”
Any reasonable person in Jesus’ position would have said, “No, my Lord, I’m no king. This is all a mistake. Please let me go. Please don’t kill me. Torture me, if you want, but just let me live.”
But Jesus, standing before Pilate, says something very different. What he says essentially is this: “No. I’m not a king of the Jews. But I am a King. My kingdom is not of this earth. And if my kingdom were of this earth then my people and my soldiers would be here fighting for me. My kingdom is of far more than this earth.”
Saint Paul tells us about Jesus and his kingdom in our Epistle. He says that Jesus, this same Jesus who stands bloodied before Pilate, “…is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Later on, in his epistle to the Philippians, Saint Paul describes the kingship of Christ in terms that make clear Jesus’ confrontation with Pontius Pilate. Saint Paul says, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus Christ did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What a powerful statement.
What an incredible thing that the Word of God, that the Logos of God, who by his very speaking brought the heavens and the earth into existence. Who by his very speaking brought man and woman out of the dust. By his very thought knew each and every one of us by name before we were even in the womb. That this very Word becomes one of us, taking the form of slave. That this very Word of God is willing to humble himself to stand bloodied before a Roman governor, before a Roman governor who owes the fact of his very existence to this same humble and beaten man.
Why does Jesus, our Lord and King, the One through whom all things were created, why does He humble himself to accept even death, death on a cross?
He does it to set us free from our sins.
His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. His kingdom is not restricted by geography, it is not restricted by time, it is not restricted by rulers, it is over all things from everlasting to everlasting.
Maybe this is a good time in our national history to think about the kingship of Jesus Christ. As we go into an election to decide our nation’s next leader, maybe this is a good time to gain some true perspective and ask ourselves: Who is really in charge? Who do I, as a Christian, really serve and honor as my Lord?
Maybe it’s time to understand that the real challenge which confronts every person and every nation is: When will we bow the knee to Jesus and acknowledge him as our sovereign Lord? Will we do it now, while we live and have the ability to give our will to him in all freedom? Or will we do it later, when we are forced to our knees to acknowledge him as our Judge?
To whom do we owe our allegiance? Do we owe our allegiance to something that is bound by this time and this place? Or do we owe our hearts to that One, who is God and who comes from God, who is Jesus Christ our King, and who exists to set us free from sin now and for all time.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Check this out here:
Ever wonder how things will look in the 2012 after four years of President Obama? FOF has an interesting perspective on this with a letter from the future. Read and weep. Better yet, read it and vote.
Here's the link:
Monday, October 13, 2008
I've been a little tough on Roman Catholic Bishops of late. I suppose that I will now have to eat some crow.
To me, the absolute defining issue of this presidential campaign has been abortion, even though no one is really talking about it. I have always believed that a person who denies a baby the right to life is capable of denying anything to anyone. Add to that, Barack Obama's absolutely radical abortion stance (including infanticide) and there is no way that I could vote for a Democrat, particularly Barry Obama. Make no mistake, Barry will appoint judges all throughout the Federal bench who will guarantee that Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land for generations to come. Barry will further sign the Freedom of Choice Act and he says that will be his top priority. This act will effectively federalize the entire abortion issue and remove any "reproductive rights" practice from the control of the states. Scared yet?
John McCain is no prize, either. He's been wrong on taxes, although he says he's seen the light. He's been wrong on energy, although he says he's seen some of the light (ANWR is still in the dark for him).He's wrong on immigration. He's wrong on climate control. He is wrong on the $700,000,000,000 bailout (actually $830,000,000,000). He's abrasive and seems to really enjoy ticking off every conservative in the country, if not the world.
John McCain is PRO-LIFE. That's enough for me. I'll pull the lever for him for that reason only.
Now, back to the bishops. Bishops Farrell of Dallas and Vann of Fort Worth have issued a brilliant statement that says that although there are many issues that are important to the election, abortion is an issue that trumps all the others. They go so far as to say, "To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible."
Compare this to Pastor Brady Boyd, who heads New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Ted Haggard's former church. In an article in the New York Times (or, as Mark Levin aptly calls it, The New York Slimes), reporter Timothy Egan says this regarding Pastor Boyd, "Boyd is ...saying that the environment, the poor, and helping those in his church who’ve lost a job or a house are things that matter to his congregation.
"Abortion? Homosexuals? Bill Ayers?
“'To be focused on those things at a time when people are hurting would really be to the detriment of families,' said Boyd."Yes, I really equate losing money in my 401k, seeing my housing price drop, and facing greater economic uncertainty as being far more important than whether some innocent little blob of protoplasm, otherwise known as a human being, gets to live. And God knows abortion is not to the detriment of families. Maybe Pastor Boyd needs to re-read Genesis or any other book of either testament.
Shame on Pastor Boyd. Thank God for Bishops Farrell and Vann. May their tribes increase.
Here's the link to their letter:
Monday, October 6, 2008
Some Thoughts on Fear
by Debby Morgan
In light of the upcoming election, I think we all need to remember several things. First of all, I do believe it is our responsibility to vote, but we have to leave the outcome in the hands of our Heavenly Father. Many are expressing fear that the wrong person might be elected President. I was one of those. When I realized that I was afraid, I had to ask myself, of what was I afraid?
If we are truly putting our trust in the Lord, then we need not be afraid of anything—fear is a sin and is the opposite of faith.
Sometimes I think we are afraid of the unknown, but the whole aspect of faith involves the unknown--being certain of things not seen, being certain that we have a God in heaven who loves us with a perfect love, and if His love for us is perfect then nothing is to happen that is not part of His plan for our lives. Trusting Him in the unknown, and not being afraid of anything is the essence of true faith.
Is our trust in our government, or in the one and only true God? No matter who wins the election, our God in heaven is still the same yesterday, today and tomorrow—He is never changing, and to me that is awesome!
I do not believe we know what God’s will for this election, yes, it would seem that it is His will that it would be for a man of His principles to be elected; but the times of the greatest oppression have produced some of the greatest revivals in history. We have been spoiled, living in this free nation, and we have taken for granted many things—maybe we will begin to experience really hard times in this United States; but would that be so bad? WE have taken so many things for granted that our nation is turning away from God, doing hideous things and making a mockery of His holy name. Maybe it is time for God to turn His back on us, as we have done Him, in hopes that in desperation, we will cry out to Him and beg for repentance and mercy, of which His supply is vast.
In the book of James we are told to count it all joy when we have trials, joy because we know God will use it to strengthen us and refine us as pure gold. Are we to desire a life of comfort, or a godly life, a life that brings God glory no matter what life’s trials may bring? Can we honestly pray and ask God to work His will in our lives, NO MATTER WHAT may happen?
The Israelites did not know from day to day whether or not God would tell them it was time to take up their tents and move. For those of us, like myself, who like to have our lives all neatly planned out months in advance, the unknown is a scary thing, but maybe it is time for us to live out our faith in a moment by moment dependence on God and knowing that whatever time brings, whatever comes in our life, He will give us the grace and strength to endure. He promises grace for the moment, not for what has not yet happened. That is why we get fearful, because we are looking ahead to unknown circumstances and taking our eyes off the Lord.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, not seek ye first a Christian government, not seek ye first quality healthcare, not seek ye first our rights, not even seek ye first our 401Ks and retirement plans, but seek ye first God’s Kingdom! And all these things will be added unto you (the necessities of life).
I have to confess that I have not been putting my faith in God first in my life. My faith has been in my comfortable life that I have been living in this United States. You know how I know that? Because the thought of losing these freedoms, the thought of losing the money in our savings account (because of the financial collapse lately) began to cause me anxiety. That is when I had to stop and reflect what really had first place in my heart. It was certainly not God, because if it was, I would be obedient to His word when it says “do not be anxious about anything, but with …prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God that passes ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. If I have not peace, then God is not first place where He belongs.
Let’s not try to fit God neatly into our lives, and only having faith when things are good; but let’s make God our whole life, bringing Him glory by not having fear in these times, but by having faith, knowing that no matter what happens, our God is still on the throne and our God reigns and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!