Saturday, October 29, 2011

Test or Temptation

 Without a doubt we often confuse these two words and in the bible there are many examples of person of faith who were tested. We also see examples of persons who were tempted, are they the same thing. I pondered on this and came to the conclusion they are different.

 Temptation - As in the Lord's prayer temptation often follows forgiveness. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
Noting that after the believer has accepted forgiveness , he is often tempted. We are taught to pray thus not to be led into temptation. How can we avoid temptation, living in the present world it is all around us. We go where God leads us yet sometimes there is a temptation to stray off the path. I live in an area where there are a lot of Amish and they often put on their horses what are called blinders. A blinder is a shield that blocks the vision of the horse keeping him centered on the road ahead. Of course we do not wear such blinders and are not horses. Do we rely on our conscience ah ha! No- our conscience is not a finely tuned mind. We must rely on the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit will lead us away from temptation. Only through prayer can we avoid temptation as Christ taught.
 Will we ever be tempted-Yes . Even Jesus was tempted as in the example following his baptism . He fasted for forty days and was tempted by Satan. Now Jesus overcame temptation after temptation he was tempted to end his fast , something he was committed to in his journey, he was tempted with power and material possessions. All theses things were part of the example that he was willing to go through , to show us it is possible to avoid temptation. We cannot completely avoid temptation but are shown to overcome it.
 I know this might sound trivial but it is like starting a diet say you chose the south beach diet and would eat certain things. You start the journey on the south beach diet to conform to a weight that you decided was more comfortable. On the south beach diet you are supposed to find a buddy to go with you on the journey, the Holy Spirit is a great comforter. You are also given a list of good foods, you are not to even think about the unhealthy food , just the good stuff. Do you see where we are heading here, Good Food. Food for thought daily prayer and dwelling on the healthy diet will get you to your goal. It is more important to know what to eat , than what not to eat. I will say this again in another way - when you go shopping get the things on your list that you prepared and if your cupboard has something not on the list throw it out. Clean out those cupboards get yourself some healthy food.

 Test- We now have overcome temptation - well at least we made it part of our daily practice to eat the right food. Now we find out that we are tested , when is this going to end . I am going to say tests are par for the course in the christian life. If you are not being tested , then you probably are just an admirer of Christ and not a follower. Yes , just like Nicodemus who admired Christ but would not go through the rigors of actually following him. You can find a Nicodemus just about any where - they seem to be the ones who throw compliments and go along with just about anything to please others. They also will enjoy your company because they live off your spirituality. Yes- they may even be a relative or friend- ha ha! A true follower of Christ will be tested and you know what - that is not such a bad thing. I remember in the old testament David was tested. Abraham was tested, many of the prophets were tested - uh, Job . I remember first reading the book of Job - what that man did not go through. I actually got mad , why are you putting this guy through this God? He is a holy man - its not fair, we often say that to God, why am I being treated unfairly. Well it is because you are a follower a true believer and that is what happens - you are tested.
 I often like to dwell on the book of Psalms , and in Psalms 23 a basic principle is taught fear no evil.
That is good stuff, conquering fear is the end result of testing. It also grows our faith and when that happens we become sons and daughters of the living God. We become enlightened , we start to feel different inside , inner peace. We become spiritual beings and thine is the kingdom the power and the glory , forever and ever - yes, eternity. We become part of the kingdom of God - all this because we were tested. 1 Peter 1:6,7  "In anticipation of this ultimate deliverance, your joy overflows, though at present it may be your lot to suffer for a time through various trials to the end that your faith may be shown to be genuine. " How do you test a diamond, you examine it closely test its properties and behold one of the most beautiful and precious stones on earth.

 So, temptation and test are different as night and day. Temptation is bad for you- Test is actually good for you. It is important to know the difference because sometimes we think we not on the right path and are just being tested. - peace to you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

God makes Stones

While in spiritual meditation God reminded me that we are not bricks, but that God makes Stones.
Each one of us is special and unique where bricks are all the same - clones. There were several versus in the bible eluding to this fact and one that came especially to mind is:

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.

 How can you build a church with stones and not bricks. First you put down the corner stones usually these are large stones.The church needs the unique abilities of each member and we come in all shapes or sizes- God who makes stones knows just where to put them. It is a fact that a church built of stones will far out last one made of bricks and in the end more beautiful.
 Bricks crumble after awhile especially when faced with a disaster or dilemma. Praise God! I would not want to be a clone of someone else or follow in mans footsteps. He does make teachers and we can learn things from others but always must maintain our uniqueness, never look upon man. When the only footsteps we are to follow is Jesus Christ , we will see there is no perfection in man. A lot of churches will go through failure , mega churches , even the catholic belonging to the largest christian body should realize all men have flaws. I remember when all the scandal broke out in Boston and spread throughout the globe about priests. God was teaching us a lesson not to look upon man. The catholic church suffered as the carnal mind loves gossip and a mob. They had lost parish priests not wanting to be associated with the scandal. Young men were reluctant to enter priesthood and some turned to other christian denominations.
 There is a lot of power in large denominations and such unity can deliver a large punch to hunger to the common good of humanity. I will tell you my wife is catholic and often we will attend the services and take communion together, many of the sermons are inspirational and the practice  of the holy communion and the Lords prayer are part of my culture also. We have never argued about religion in 30 years or enforced our minor difference upon each other. I consider her a christian as much as some will prefer to point out differences.
 Everyone even within a small community parish is unique in their person. Does this fit in with theology , certainly - if God wanted a race of androids with certain features cloned , he would have done so. That is the wonder of humanity and the wonder of you that he created us in his image but yet with  diversity. I often think what makes a person attractive in the human sense- it varies , on the islands of the Pacific Micronesian and Hawaii their culture leaned toward larger the better. You can see in our society petite , or skinny, muscular model of human is the pitch. All of this is vanity as long as a person lives a healthy life and eats sensibly cultural difference will not effect your spirituality , God makes stones. If we spent all of our time admiring ourselves or not in front of a mirror, how would that seem. I say accept who you are and live healthy if your life style is destructive to your health then consider a change.
 My mother is almost 79 years old , and my father 82 years old they both live healthy and often work outside getting fresh air. It was not always that way they made life changes as they became wiser and older. I have relatives of the same age that can not get out of bed or barely walk to a car without being out of breath, they smoked packs of cigarettes every day and now paying the toll. They may have been imitating the people they saw on the earlier commercials that it was sexy to smoke, trying to be bricks. God's love extends to our inner and outer  and certainly about every aspect of our health. Mental and physical - he will not push us beyond our capability.
 We often see scripture that He keeps us in the palm of his hand. Funny, but sometimes I picture God holding a stone, clutching onto it feeling the texture then gently placing it in a garden, admiring it among the rest of his creation. He actually did this on the first days of creation and of mankind also meaning womankind , saying that it was good. he separated the light from the darkness and called them night and day saying this was good , every thing he created was good. Then something changed man thought he knew better than God , he discovered knowledge but used it for evil not good. He distorted the truth and eventually fell from grace. Eventually wanting to restore grace , He sent living stones among us. He also sent his Son to restore us to grace, then gave us a choice to accept or reject the stone.-Peace to you.

Psalms 118:22  
The stone which the builders rejected has become the head stone of the corner.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


 I really appreciate all the wonderful responses to my poetry as my time is stretched so thin, working 70 hour plus weeks. It seems harder to find time to write and finding that sharing what is on my mind and heart has been noted. I was a full time minister in my early years , until my son Sean was born and had a need to pay doctor bills , there was not a lot of help back then and Down Syndrome can have a terrible toll on a person. It also had a toll on us emotionally as he was both blind and deaf. We managed to find the right doctors with Gods help, Dr Calhoun of Wills eye hospital and Dr Lee of Hershey Hospital who performed amazing surgery and transplants, he is able to see today. He also was able to hear thanks to John Hopkins University physicians in Baltimore.
 My son had a stroke several months ago due to medications but surprisingly after the stroke he is better than before, amazing how God works. I just want to thank all the wonderful people in my life. I always thank the Lord for bringing them my way. A lot of time has passed and tribulation for me personally, one could not even imagine. As things settle, I prayed for direction and feel called back into ministry of hospitality. It is not as high profile as evangelist or pastor . I feel directed to pray one on one with the elderly and read to the sick in homes and hospitals. It may seem small for someone with years of education but my eyes are being open to this. It is something we did on week days in the ministry which filled the gaps. Showing a little hospitality may be all I can handle at this point in my life but we will see where it goes.
            One who wants to shake the world must first learn to shake a hand. -amen
A lovely poetic response that I serendipitously came across to yesterday's post. 
                                                                A Stone in Time

In the present I live,
Not a prophecy to give.
No end of world to predict,
or special powers to convict.
God put me here today,
A Stone in time to pray.
War and suffering still exist,
Virtual worlds must I resist.
Till my soul rest in peace,
In the present never cease.
Why worry about the past,
or future shadows cast.
Your time is here and now,
Time to sow and time to plow.
Woven in the seam of time,
You were placed in the rhyme.
A greater poet will ever be,
The creator of the wind and sea.
Saint Eule (I like his stuff check it out)

Pastor Kocak was kind enough to share one of my poems in his Plant Medina ministry in Ohio. He recently became an ordained minister completing years of seminary in Anglican church and serving as a chaplain. His daughter is named Anna Rose who just turned 1 years old last week, which is a spiritual blessing because my Grandmothers were names were Anna and Rose is that quite a coincidence, since they inspired me.
Diamond in the Rough by Saint Eule,  "Refracting multi faceted, Opulent rays of light. Found beneath the earth, In the mud one bright. Shiny diamond in the rough, For what purpose, did it surface. At first a feeling of joy, Then a sense of possession. Perhaps love is an obsession. Was the opulence real, or just a cruel bluff, the diamond in the rough."

 This is a picture by Geoff Trotter a very special artist in photography. He took this picture at Christs Church in New Zealand. The church was destroyed all that remained was a stained glass window protruding from the wreckage. He placed one of my poems beneath the picture which paired up beautifully.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


 A relative of mine had gone back into our ancestry shared it with the rest of the family. It was not too surprising to find many were fleeing religious persecution. Starting out as Celtic origin eventually settling in the US and Northern Canada. We were of the early Brethren faith until my uncles decided to join up in World War two and were shunned. I think we have had a generation in every war since, my father a Korean war vet and I was Vietnam vet. Far from our Brethren roots and faith which prohibits a member from entering armed services.
 I believe in peace and without a doubt choose peace over war - but also believe there is a time for everything under the sun. If a neighbor was being mugged I certainly would not sit by and watch or if my children were being harmed would protect them. Luke 6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. This is a difficult thing to do, turn the other cheek. I have learned to with hold anger and to not be possessive my things are not worth shooting someone over. I would however protect the life of my grandchildren or fellow soldier in war time.
 Is it wrong to go to war - the bible says thou shall not kill. Yet - God has intervened in helping the Israelite in defeating enemies- David and Goliath . There is a time and place for everything, a  christian soldier was one of my favorite poets Alfred Joyce Kilmer who wrote the poem "Trees" and another favorite "The House with nobody in it". He was of the christian faith and once turned down a commission to fight on the front lines, in which he lost his life to a snipers bullet. He did not write that many poems considering his main claim to fame was poetry. I can say war is one of my pet peeves, in my poems call it the whore of humanity. A lot of good men and women losing their lives and sometimes in friendly fire. There is a time for even war though- to protect your loved ones from a foreign invader.
 I  do remember turning the cheek when being mocked as a christian but never left my post or would have any hesitation to fire my weapon if called upon. This is a tough call Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save it, yet there is a time for judgement and a time to act. Fortunately I never had to kill another human being but have lost dozens of close friends in war time, in a plane crash.
  I attend the Lutheran church and my wife is Catholic so also attend there too, but could just as much feel at home in a Baptist or any fundamental church. I would not consider ever going back to our origins of Brethren , if we did not fight for this country during the revolutionary war we would be be under the control and persecution of the British still offering oaths to the Queen instead of in God we trust. I know there are pacifist Christians of various denominations who enjoy the freedoms the Baptist, Lutherans and Catholics and others have died for in good conscience and that some day Jesus will come to judge the wicked and with an army,Yes- there is a time for everything under the sun.
 Jesus said in Matthew 7:6 "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you". That is also in the bible. Not everyone will be receptive to Gods grace or words. There are evil and wicked people out there , that have no intention of changing- this is reality.  My experience has been to reach others earlier in life for a higher success rate, I would not want to discourage anyone in prison ministry, since they are most needy- so I removed my personal experience from this posting. I regret perhaps sounding harshly toward my Brethren origin, or any Amish or Mennonite Christians that have passive resistance policies asking their forgiveness. Sometimes passive resistance works and would be my first choice , but this is a non -perfect world in which in defense of the innocent and to fight for liberty I would.
  One of my favorite persons of all time beside Jesus Christ of course was George Washington , I write about him in my poetry, here is an example of one of his letters:
  "The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations".  He was talking about service to his country at that time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Peacemakers

 I had written a quote about society which for a time was listed in the greatest quotes of all time even number one for a while. It went like this:

 We humans tend to expand or shrink our social circles relative to the circumference of the circumstances.

 What is meant by Shrinking our circles - we sometimes get motivated, secure and want to just reach out to the world, in our blogging, in our giving - sharing thoughts. Then maybe we get caught up in work or our financial situation changes, or our motivation is diminished. We tend to shrink the circle to just family preservation, then sometimes just self preservation.
  This is nothing to be ashamed of it is a human reality, sometimes we need a break from saving the world or perhaps need to put food on the table, maybe our priorities adjust. When my grandchildren were born , they became an important part of my inner circle. I stopped my TV cable and put aside that monthly bill for their futures. My eating habits changed , no longer went to restaurants as frequent - because I love my grandchildren.
 I have a child who has disabilities , downs syndrome- he still lives with us and is 29 years old. I had to shrink my circle to take care of his needs at one time his medical expenses were tough but he has always brought us great joy.
  We then find our footing  and are able to give to mission work or help out in the community. I was always a coach or manager of little league, pee wee football , challenger league baseball for my handicapped son. Spent a lot of time in community service , in church youth organizing etc. but there were times when I felt inspired to reach the world. With so much going on how was it possible to have time to expand my circle to the entire world. I prayed on this and started to write poetry not just from a natural sense but sometimes shed tears. Writing poetry is not always a joy- it can bring out all your emotion. My wife would see me with a tear sometimes and say what is the matter, I would say oh, just writing a poem.
  What is expanding our circle- During my early years in ministry I had friends that were beside me for over 30 years , imagine a long friendship such as that , how precious. Then one day God spoke to my heart and wanted me to expand my circle again. He wanted me to reach beyond the christian community to the Hindu, the followers of Buddha, the Jewish, the Aboriginal and the Islamic. My friends of 30 years abandoned me - they thought I was no longer a christian. I said - yes, Jesus Christ is my Lord but my journey has led me to a path of peace that even I did not understand.
 The Lord if he were here today, would he be speaking at the local Baptist or Lutheran church. Would he become a Catholic priest, or Episcopal clergy. I think not- what do you think? I believe he would reach the world his desire was that the gospel be shared with the entire world. This means crossing religious barriers not an easy path. I can tell you when my friends of 30 years abandoned me, it broke my heart - my wife stood beside me which helped. They held onto their religious prejudice - I had to learn every custom or belief possible so as not to offend. My complex theology changed because God willed it , all those years of learning mans theology. Why was God pulling me out of my comfort zone, I agonized over this.
  Love your enemies - Blessed are the peacemakers, how did this all fit in. I started to minister at Jewish funerals, Catholic funerals found myself speaking to gurus about their spiritual journeys. I studied aboriginal beliefs , read many , many books on religion. God then led me to Love, Hope and Forgiveness. I found inner peace like never before- no longer did I condemn others for their beliefs, Jesus came not to judge the world but to save it. It all started to make sense my circle still has Christ in the center but reaches out to the world, even if dogma or religious hatred get in my way, I must Love my enemies. Not only love them but be with them in their grief, embrace not their beliefs but embrace them. 
 I reached out to the interfaith community to find common ground- to end war. To end human suffering caused by religious indifference. Jesus actually scolded me for not reaching beyond the christian community, my journey was to change - I was to become a stone not just a christian. Some of the churches would not me let speak in them. They knew I was embracing their enemies no longer wanting to speak evil of them but Love them. I did however find people like me , some were reformed Jews, some were Islamic , some were Catholic priest, and some Hindu. They wanted peace and were willing to expand their circles to reach out for peace in Love, Hope and Forgiveness. Yes, they had the same desire put into their hearts.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


 What does it mean to be infinite , in mathematics everything is defined- infinity cannot be defined. There are prime numbers , no cognitive or deductive science to explain infinity. Cognitive would conclude from hypothetical and deductive from known reasoning. In Genesis we see the Hebrew word "barah" which means to create out of nothing. We also see the Hebrew word "asah" which mean to create from existing materials. In mathematics it was originally thought about by early scholars the number "zero" , nil , nothing. How can you have something from nothing therefore how can there be a "zero" it is what the greatest minds of greek and other thinkers of the day pondered over. Yet without a "zero" nothing in math could be explained, algebra could not exist - so "zero" was needed. Is it so strange that God could create out of nothing "zero" an unexplained but needed phenomena.The scholars perceived if there is a zero, then there also is an infinity.

 Jesus said ' I am the Alpha and the Omega , the first and last.' This may seem a profound statement. In cognitive or deductive science is beyond understanding but then so was the "zero". A number that is needed to balance out the positive and negative. We cannot imagine infinity only that  scholars knew such a phenomena existed it is a number greater than any real number, an uncountable number. Jesus used the terms alpha and omega -first and last, to explain his existence in Revelations. Now - I have read the book of Revelations probably many times perhaps several in its entirety and still cannot comprehend it. I can honestly say at one point , I did not recognize it because it was so abstract. Then I realized it is one of the most amazing books. It takes us into another thought - the abstract thought.The concept of understanding complex relationships this is why Revelations is better left to an abstract mind.
 Perhaps the mind of an artist or someone gifted in that area. I unfortunately am not an artist or an abstract thinker. It is not something you can be be just because you want it. You either have that part of your brain turned on or not. I have always been an engineer when it comes to crunching real numbers it is my career. I do know that Jesus had a divine nature and it is said in Ecclesiastes God is beyond the understanding of even the wisest of men. He may someday reveal what Revelations is about and for now I am content with living in the present and not knowing. Patience is the key to understanding, at this point still waiting.



 There was a great miracle in the bible called the transfiguration of Christ. Many would want dispute  this controversial event which Jesus was declared the true Son of God and met with early prophets to have a conversation. This was witnessed by Peter, James and John , so  it is their testimony we are hearing in scriptures. It is the peak of Christ's life on earth by having the two greatest prophets of all time Moses who gave the ten commandments, and led the Israel nation out of Egypt through the wilderness just short of the promised land. Then there was Elijah the prophet who raised the dead , and was taken away in a whirlwind.

 Jesus had a conversation with them after his face shone as the sun, his garments were white  as the light. Early prophets showing up at this event confirmed his nature. Yet later in the book of John , it was Peter who denied Christ. I would think after witnessing such an event he would have more faith than any of the apostles, he also walked on the water for a short time with Christ. What would one give to have been Peter , someone who bore witness to so many miracles and Jesus himself teaching him to perform miracles. Yet - he denied Christ in his last hours before the soldiers as Jesus had predicted he would. Yet , Jesus said after Peter recognized in Him the nature of Christ , Simon Barjona ,  upon this rock I shall build my church. Could he have been speaking of Peter as  some church builders would say building his church on a man, making him the first pope and falling into a practice of papist beliefs -or Could he be speaking of the fact that Peter recognized the nature of Christ , and this was the rock, a building block of faith.
 I will share in my experience as one who first confessed to God , Jesus was Lord was given the gift of salvation believe the rock of my salvation is Jesus Christ. Peter was not present at that time, neither was Moses or Elijah. The transfigured Christ was my salvation not Peter, Peter only confessed Christ as Lord, that is his claim to fame and he was not perfect, neither are we, only Christ is perfection. I will bear witness to the fact that Jesus desire is to have us not only follow Him but also wants us to be righteous, yes to wear the white garments and be holy before God. Jesus once spoke of this in the story of the wedding feast, which I believe is the greatest revelation of the kingdom of heaven if understood. In the end the wedding of Christ to his church the union came down to who had on their wedding garments. All others were seen as imposters and cast into the pit. Even those who did miracles in Jesus name were looked upon as wolves in sheep clothing, that did not live up to a holy life.
 During the transfiguration Moses was present, earlier in the old testament Moses had died before reaching the promised land. I believe Moses was present out of respect to Christ holy priesthood, and Elijah the prophet taken away in a whirlwind also was there to confirm the prophecy of Christ in Jesus. Many awaited the return of Elijah , but was this only to be as a participant of this event . Why would even the two prophets be present with the apostles watching or was God allowing them to witness as a reward for their service the transfiguration of His Son. All of these are conjecture - I do not claim to know the answer to this mystery miracle. What did they talk about? Why were they there?

 Obviously a miracle to some minds is beyond comprehension, I was not there as was Moses, Elijah, Peter , James and John. I do know Gods ability is beyond comprehension and all things are possible. There are those who can accept Elijah being carried away in a whirlwind or Moses seeing and speaking to the burning bush. This miracle of the transfiguration far exceeds any other, it speaks of time travel, of prophecy filled, a man transfigured into divine. At his baptism a voice came from heaven ,This is my Son of whom I am well pleased. At the transfiguration we were given a glimpse of His glory.

 Matthew (17:2) states that Jesus "was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light." At that point the prophets Elijah and Moses appear and Jesus begins to talk to them.