homilies, articles, sHORT mEMOS,

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“Heavenly Alarm Clock”

Acts 7: 60: “And falling on his knees, Stephen cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep.” There’s currently a lot of unbiblical thinking concerning the state of the believer between death and resurrection. One concept clearly found in the earliest New Testaments writings is that of sleep: used here to describe Stephen, repeatedly in 1 Corinthians 15 (vv. 6, 18, 20, and 51), and don’t forget Jesus’ words to describe Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” (John 11: 11) Whether this is metaphorical or literal is hard to say, but one thing is certain: When it’s finally

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Walking in Christ’s Footsteps

1 Kings 19: 15-16; 19-21 Psalm 16 Galatians 5: 19-25 Luke 9: 51-62 “I just want to be where you are, dwelling daily in Your presence.” This song expresses a great desire, as stated in Psalm 16: 11: “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” I’m sure we all want that, the question is, how? The good news is, it is possible, and it’s not complicated. If you want to always be in the presence of the Lord: Luke 9: 60 “Follow Me” Follow Him. Follow Jesus. That’s highly logical, right? If you’re following Him, you will be where He is, in His presence. But what does that mean, that He will lead you to Samar, or Sulu, or Siberia? Is it just a matter of Jesus sending everyone out as traveling evan

“No Hard Feelings”

Luke 22: 51: “But Jesus answered and said, ‘Stop! No more of this.’ And He touched his ear and healed him.” Picture this man: trusted by the high priest to bring Jesus in. In Caiaphas’ house he had heard all the slander, all the lies against Jesus, and knew Him as the archenemy of his master. Obviously there was some malice in his heart towards our Lord. Why else did Peter choose him to strike at? But Jesus’ response to his suffering? Mercy. Healing. So can you hear Jesus today, as He beholds all our malice and war against each other in the Church, saying, “Stop! No more of this!”

“Looks Aren’t Everything”

1 Samuel 9: 2: “And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.” So Saul was handsome and tall. Great. If Israel had an NBA franchise, he would have been their man. Tall Saul could play ball. Unfortunately, they soon found out that, for all his sex appeal, he was highly insecure. And then he became angry, violently so. Then disobedient. So they were stuck with a tall, insecure, angry, disobedient king of their choice. But hey, he looked great in the team photo.

“Be Like the Nations”

1 Samuel 8: 19, 20: “Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’” Why would the people make a choice like that? For the same reason we do: Because following a king is easy. He can be seen, and reasoned with, and argued with, and manipulated when necessary. To follow God is to walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7). It is to follow His will and purpose, not our own. But if we would ever stop and notice – does the easy path lead to good results? The Israelites found out the hard way,

“What Time Is It?”

Psalm 119: 126: “It is time for the Lord to act, for they have broken Your law.” Somebody’s about to get disappointed! How can we know that? First of all, when have ‘they’ not broken God’s law? What makes this time any different? Secondly, God’s time is different than ours. We’re always quick to act in judgement, while God’s first action is mercy (James 2: 13). He’s far more longsuffering than we think.

“Listen to Who?”

Acts 5: 29: “But Peter and the apostles answered and said, ‘We must obey God rather than men.” There is a peculiar quirk in today’s society: It thinks it has taken over the reins from God. ‘It’s a new day (atheistic), with a new attitude (rebellion), and new rules (unrighteousness).’ Except it’s not. God has not relinquished control; He loves us too much to do that. So why would you obey those who aren’t in charge, whose system is crumbling and whose rewards are temporal? Timely tip: Go with Peter on this one.

“Now Hear This!”

Luke 21: 33: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” So you think it’s no big deal to disregard God’s words; to change them, make them more relevant, appealing, or user friendly? He might not agree with you. In addition to this passage, He makes the point in Isaiah 40: 8, Isaiah 59: 21, Psalm 119: 89, Matthew 5: 18, Matthew 24: 35, Mark 13: 31, Luke 16: 17, and others. Wow, seems like He really means it!.

Walking in Greater Things: 27th CEC Foundation Day

Isaiah 65:1-9 Psalm 40:1-11 Galatians 3:23-29 Luke 8:26-39 Jesus said in the gospel, “Let us go to the other side,” to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. It was a Gentile territory, and they found a man who was possessed with demons living among the tombs, among the dead. Jesus crossed the sea going over to the other side where there was death, demons, and unclean pigs. Jesus was not afraid to get dirty or get ‘unclean’. The righteous of that day would not have anything to do with pigs because these made them unclean. They had to do this because they thought they had to be holy like God, and if God is holy, He would have nothing to do with sin. They would preach that

“Straighten Up!”

Luke 21: 28: “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” How not to interpret this passage: ‘When things start going bad in the world, or for you personally, that means Jesus is coming back any moment.’ If that were true, Jesus has missed about 164, 000, 000, 000 chances to return in the last two thousand years. The true understanding is what the MDR has been telling us all week: If we see problems in the world, it’s not time to panic, or make like an ostrich and stick our head in the sand until Jesus comes back; but hold our heads high, look around us, and see who around us needs redemption, and let them know

“Perverse Generation”

Acts 2: 40: “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’” Again the advice from Peter: If you have problems with the current society, don’t complain about it or fear it or think you will be cursed because of it--just make sure you are not a part of it, but encourage them to be a part of you! Be converted, then work on converting them! In the words of Ezekiel, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; rather that he should turn from his ways and live.” (Ezekiel 18: 23) The call of God to His people is not to fear perversion, but to change it.

“How to get honor from God (and how to get dissed)”

1 Samuel 2: 30: “Those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.” Do you want honor from God? There’s a right way and a wrong way. He can’t be bribed, can’t be coaxed, can’t be manipulated, and can’t be fooled. (Sadly, much of what we think of as prayer comes under one of these categories) God is honored by men and women who practice what they preach, follow His commandments, and are motivated by love in everything they do. If you can pull that off, God will honor you. If not, you’ll get no respect from anyone that matters, especially Him.

“Time to Panic?”

1 Samuel 2: 12, 26: “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord … now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.” Did you know evil men were growing worse and worse? Of course, the Bible promises it! (2 Timothy 3: 13). This is a sign for us, not to bombard heaven and pray for deliverance from the evil, but to rise up in the Spirit and be who the Lord called us to be. And if the Eli’s in the Church won’t discipline and control the Hophni’s and Phinehas’ in the Church, He always has a Samuel waiting in the wings...

“So What’s a Few Giants?”

Psalm 78: 42, 43: “They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary, when He performed His signs in Egypt, and His marvels in the field of Zoan.” Israel was afraid to enter Canaan because there were giants in the land. Was that a problem for God? He had just, a short time before, brought a giant nation - the largest and most powerful ever known up to that time - to its knees. If Jehovah God could overwhelm a giant nation, He could crush a nation of giants, right? That’s why we need to remember God’s power in the past, so we will have faith, not fear, in the present concerning the future.

“Sir, Yes Sir!”

Acts 1: 2: “Until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Pop quiz: What is the first action the Book of Acts ascribes to the Holy Spirit? Comforter? Friend? Guide? Intercessor? Empowerer? All good, all real - and all incorrect. The first recorded action of the Holy Spirit in Acts is giving orders. If we’re talking Kingdom (v. 3) we’re talking authority, i.e., orders. And that’s the job of the Trinity, Holy Spirit included. His other actions and roles follow this one.

Trinity Sunday: “Walking in Trinitarian Truth”

Isaiah 59:15-2 Psalm 29 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:5-15 Before the Mass, songs for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost were being played because today is Trinity Sunday. It is the culmination of the Liturgical Calendar Year. Advent prepares the way for us for God to give of Himself by the giving of His Son at Christmas. During Epiphany, the Son manifested Himself to the nations, to the Gentiles. He gave of Himself in Lent and in Holy Week. The Holy Spirit also gave of Himself at Pentecost when He descended and rested on the disciples. Trinity Sunday is what preachers call a nightmare because they don’t know what to say. To me, the right approach is that we don’t even try to explain

“Who You Calling Weak?”

2 Corinthians 13: 4: “Christ was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we are also weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.” Don’t be confused: Jesus was crucified because of our weakness, not His. It was our weakness as sinners, as failures, as clones of Adam, that led Him to the cross, to accept its weakness, that God’s power might be conferred to us. Now, having borne and shared our weakness and overcome it, He shares with us His power – the power of God. That’s called salvation!

“Envy Them Not!”

Psalm 73: 3, 4: “For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat.” Important lesson from Asaph: There’s no need to envious of the wicked and arrogant over their death – because their after-death experience is a real bummer! Cast down to destruction, destroyed in a moment, utterly swept away (vv. 18, 19) – Are you really going to be jealous over that? Get back to the bottom line: Those far from God will perish, but the nearness of God is for our good (vv. 27, 28).

“I Told You Messenger was of Satan!  J”  (Ha, ha)

2 Corinthians 12: 7: “To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of satan to buffet me – to keep me from exalting myself!” How serious is the Lord about keeping you from exalting yourself? So serious that He’s willing to use satan to get His message across! Self-exaltation (pride) has been the downfall of ministries, movements, denominations, churches, and oh so many lives. Some say pride was the downfall of satan himself. Whatever, as St. Paul says here, whatever it takes to overcome it, it’s worth it!

“The Song of Moses”

Deuteronomy 32: 3b, 4: “Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” This is more than just the intro to Moses’ greatest hit (31: 30). It is about as good a description of God as you can get in less than thirty words, if you throw in merciful. He’s great, He’s perfect, He’s just, He’s faithful, He’s righteous, He’s upright – He’s The Rock! Sorry, Alcatraz, sorry, Duane Johnson …

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