Archive | September, 2012

Is Prayer Enough?

30 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 18 After Pentecost 30 Sept 2012

Is Prayer Enough?

Me:      Lord?

Jesus Christ:   Yes.

Me:      I noticed that in the Gospel lesson for today’s lectionary readings from Mark 9:38-50 when You talked about stumbling blocks (v 42) You did NOT mention “ears.”  You talked about the neck (v 42), hands (v 43), feet (v 45), eyes (v 47), and the worm that never dies (v 48), but You did not mention ears.

Jesus Christ:   True.

Me:      May I have Your ear for a moment while I lament?

Jesus Christ:   Of course, Little One.

Me:      You told me to “share the journey.”  I met with my spiritual director on Monday (24 Sept 12).  She said my journey is real and intense, (as she would know since we’ve been together since the beginning of my calling.)  She said when I share too much it is overwhelming.  I honor that.  We both prayed for our faith to increase.  With the help of the Holy Spirit as we discussed my journey we boiled it down to one sentence: 

“As we come into the Fall of 2012, I have now been 21 Seasons (that’s over five years) praying ten to twelve hours a day in my car for the reconciliation of the Churches.”

Lord, now, I know that Nebuchadnezzar was a tad nuts after God had him hit the road (Dan 4:16), but he only had to endure in the wilderness for seven seasons (Dan 4:25) until he “woke up” and remembered that God is the Most High God.  I’m not crazy; my own sin didn’t get me into this mess; I went into this journey knowing that God is the Most High God and that I wanted to serve Him.  It’s not fair that I have had to endure three sets of seven, weather-beaten seasons (Rev 12:14) praying in my car for the reconciliation of the Churches, because the Churches have been in denial.  (And I was praying in my car well before You ever sent me to the Seven Churches.  I really need a hermitage, but Lord, You even asked for that vision back after You gave it to me in the first place, so I have no comfort from that.  What’s a princess to do?)  I don’t understand, Lord.  I do what You tell me to do and the Church still does nothing.  Both the Episcopal Church and the Catholic Church have Canon Law to make provisions for and to show tangible value of their full-time pray-ers.  I researched “Setting Apart for Special Vocation” back in 2008 after I got “The Call.”  Protections are in the national canons of the Episcopal Church under Title III, Canon 14, section 3.  I have shared this multiple times.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  When a prophet falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear, does she make a sound?

On Tuesday on the very minute of the hour of the start of Yom Kippur You asked me to share my One Sentence this week with the school of prophets.  I sent it at 4:52 pm Jerusalem time (7:52 am Pacific Time), the time when the first candle would have been lit in Jerusalem to celebrate the Day of Atonement.  I offered my life as a prayer.  I trusted You, Lord.  You did say to Abraham and Isaac that You, Yourself, would provide the lamb for the burnt offering, and then the two of them went on together.  (Gen 22:8)  Well, the Church and the Jews have also both gone on together.  You were the Lamb that was sacrificed on the altar.  God didn’t send a ram in Your place like He did to Abraham. (Gen 22:13)  Whazzup with the Churches and the school of prophets?  What are they waiting for?  What “ram” are they waiting for?  There’s a whole lot of “unquenchable fire” going on over here (Mk 9:43, 45, 48) and that doesn’t even include the two verses (vs 44, 46) that our own contemporary Bibles leave out because they’re a repeat of verse 48!

Mk 9:48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

Lord, I understand that everyone and every sacrifice is “salted with fire.” (v 419)  That goes along with tenderizing for any BBQ.  But Lord, some of us are getting the whole Morton Salt container dumped upon us!  This isn’t fair!  And it tastes bitter.  I choose not to buy into that spirit, but the taste is bitter nonetheless.  I can (and do) tell You now with every ounce of dignity I can muster that I don’t feel loved when You allow all this “salting” to continue!  It feels like I’m in a barren desert and there are no echoes of sound coming back.  Have I lost favor with You? (Nu 11:11)  I claim Moses’ words as my own:

Nu 11:14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me.

11:15 If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once–if I have found favor in your sight–and do not let me see my misery.”

Lord, You told Moses to gather seventy elders to the tent of meeting so that You could distribute the load. (Nu 11:16, 25)  Later, there were fifty prophets who stood at a distance facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had crossed the Jordan. (2 Ki 2:7)  You, Yourself, sent out 72 disciples to spiritually sweep the area before You got there. (Lk 10:1)  All any of them had to do was bear witness.  I feel bad and sad and I cry out to You that I could not even engage twelve—plus one—shepherds of the Seven Churches and a handful of prophets!  All they had to do was bear witness and do what you asked them to do!  I wasn’t tackling the whole world, just a Brotherhood!  And this is still very unfair.  I’m not a Jedi Knight!  I cannot fight the dark force all by myself!  Is everyone still so busy working hard for You, Lord, that we don’t know how to be “salt;” to know how to have “salt in ourselves” and how to be at peace with one another? (Mk 9:50)  Well, if that’s the case, then I use Queen Esther’s appeal to You, O my King!

Esther 7:3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O King, and if it pleases the King, let my life be given me — that is my petition — and the lives of my people — that is my request.

7:4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to [You, O] King.”

Lord, today is the Feast of the Tabernacles, aka the Feast of Ingathering.  What are the Churches feasting on?  You said You are the Resurrection and the Life. (Jn 11:25)  Resurrection IS New Life.  Where do they think that resurrection is supposed to take place?  Do they not know that resurrection happens within ourselves?  In this most desperate hour of our anguish, please help all of us to stand in dignity and in self-respect as you raise us up like the phoenix using her own tears washing the ashes which bring her back/forward into New Life.  We are only mortals and cannot gather in the “first fruits” of Your harvest without Your help.  Without Your vision we can only see from our human eyes the worm-eaten stubble of our lives.  Only You can unify us together in New Life in You.  Only You can help us bear witness to others of Your Truth.  We have no power as mortals to convince anyone else of Your Truth.  The Holy Spirit must do that.  Please soften us, God.  Please give us Your mercy.  Please intervene with Your mercy, grace, and peace, with Your compassion in action once again in history, so that we may find the “salt” within ourselves, within each other, and that You restore our covenantal relationship with You, to be at peace as we look to You, our Lamb of Atonement.

Jesus Christ:   Sweetheart, I hear your lament.  I hear your prayer.  I am stirring hearts into compassionate action.  I make good on My promises.  So, yes, to answer your question, prayer is enough in this context.  Do you remember the “sea of glass, clear as crystal”? (Rev 4:6) 

Me:      Yes.

Jesus Christ:   It is a sea of great peace with crystal clear clarity.  The seven spirits of God are there. (v 5)  The Seven Virtues work together to bring peace by the workings of the Holy Spirit.   The Seven Virtues work in harmony since they are part of the Holy Spirit’s character.  In the New Heaven and the New Earth there is no more sea [of anguish.] (Rev 21:1)  The soul fires are quenched because the Truth has been told.  And God’s mercy endures forever.  I breathe on you, Dear One.  Be “seasoned” in grace, in kindness, in gentleness, in mercy, rest, purity, and peace.  Help is on the way.  I am sending and connecting you to those whom I have been training up for this very hour.

 

18 After Pentecost                  30 Sept 2012                                       Gospel: Mark 9:38-50

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
7:1 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.

7:2 On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.”

7:3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me — that is my petition — and the lives of my people — that is my request.

7:4 For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.”

7:5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?”

7:6 Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

7:9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.”

7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

9:20 Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far,

9:21 enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year,

9:22 as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and presents to the poor.

Psalm 124
124:1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side — let Israel now say —

124:2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,

124:3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

124:4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

124:5 then over us would have gone the raging waters.

124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

124:7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
11:4 The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat!

11:5 We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;

11:6 but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

11:10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the LORD became very angry, and Moses was displeased.

11:11 So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?

11:12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,’ to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors?

11:13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’

11:14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me.

11:15 If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once–if I have found favor in your sight–and do not let me see my misery.”

11:16 So the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.

11:24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent.

11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

11:26 Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.

11:27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

11:28 And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!”

11:29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!”

Psalm 19:7-14
19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;

19:8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;

19:9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

19:12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

19:13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

James 5:13-20
5:13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.

5:14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.

5:15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

5:17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

5:18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

5:19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another,

5:20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Mark 9:38-50
9:38 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.”

9:39 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.

9:40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

9:41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

9:42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.

9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

9:45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.

9:47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,

9:48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.

9:50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Bride as Wisdom

23 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 17 After Pentecost

Bride As Wisdom

A woman’s mind is hardwired to look for relationship connections.  Is it any wonder that Eve sought wisdom and beauty when she ate of the fruit in the middle of the Garden so that she could discern good from evil?  (Gen 3:6)  She had just been created out of Adam’s side (Gen 2:21), not out of his head to think like him, nor out of his feet to be trampled on by him.[1]  Somehow she had to figure out a way to cleave to this new bachelor and make sense of his naming everything! (Gen 2:19)  And men still do this!  What’s a girl to do?  She takes what he names and tries to make sense out of it and to see if it’s related to anything else he may (or may not) be thinking.  There’s a lot of “fill in the blanks” space that goes on… (and on…) [And the guys say women are the mystery?]  But God is in the blank spaces, too!  [Yeah, God!]  The guys are afraid to ask (Mk 9:32), and then they fall silent after arguing about who’s the greatest. (v 34)  Meanwhile the women keep spinning and weaving (cf Pv 31:19) and asking their children what’s important to them.  And they respond with: “It’s all good!”  [Ah, the faith of a child!]

The First Lesson in the lectionary readings for this week is from Proverbs 31:10-31, and the chapter heading in my Bible is called: The Wife of Noble Character.  The NIV annotation says these verses are an acrostic with each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. (p 982)  Character is a package of universal qualities.  There are refined noble qualities and there are base qualities adulterated by sin.  Sin warps God’s splendor in a double whammy.  It hurt both Eve and Adam.  It rippled out to the countries.  Sin is an ugly incarnate, word-so-fleshy thing in mirror opposite to God’s Light incarnate.  In Rev 18:1 John saw an angel with great authority coming down from heaven, and the angel told us Babylon the Great fell because she had become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit. (Rev 18: 2)  All of this yuck warped and morphed because of excessiveness. (v 3)  The counter to excessiveness is simplicity.  Today’s Lectionary passage from Proverbs 31 provides the ABC’s of incarnate noble love, love described of as an honorable wife.  This passage from Proverbs 31 is the positive reflection to the opposite reflection in Revelation 18 which shows the results of the carnal love of a people.  Why bring it up again?  We already know that God’s Word on the Fall of Babylon was fulfilled in actuality when Babylon fell in 2004 and the reporters declared this:

Published on Saturday, January 15, 2004 by the Guardian/UK

Babylon Wrecked by War
US-Led Forces Leave a Trail of Destruction and Contamination in Architectural Site of World Importance
by Rory McCarthy in Baghdad, and Maev Kennedy

 “BABYLON TRASHED: US soldiers enter the ancient city of Babylon. A damning report by the British Museum revealed that US-led forces in Iraq have caused irreparable damage [!–my emphasis] to the site of the ancient city of Babylon, contaminating the soil and destroying archaeological evidence.” (AFP/File/Roslan Rahman)[2]  

Pardon me while I brag on God, but He did say:

Rev 18:21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:
   “With such violence
      the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
      never to be found again. [!]

You may ask that since this prophecy was fulfilled in 2004, eight years ago, why is there still so much strife going on over in the Middle East?  Just a cursory look at the headlines and President Assad’s massacring of his own Syrian people looks like a mad dog chewing off his own leg. (cf Rev 18:3) One reporter used a fire icon on a map of Assad’s country to show where civil war confrontations had erupted.[3]  The sight was impressive to say the least.  We are witnessing the word made fleshy, again. 

Revelation 18:8”Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine.  She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.” 

And we are witnessing it…twice: with Babylon eight years ago, and now in Syria.

Rev 18:6 Give back to her as she has given;
      pay her back double for what she has done.
      Mix her a double portion from her own cup.

There are times when something is repeated twice and that means that it has been established by God.[4] (see Gen 41:32)

And we are seeing it from far off:

Revelation 18:10Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:
   ” ‘Woe! Woe, O great city,
      O Babylon, city of power!
   In one hour your doom has come!’ 

Rev 18:15The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn

16and cry out:
   ” ‘Woe! Woe, O great city,
      dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
      and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!

17In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’

   “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.

There is hope, though.  The Middle East can also learn from far off (and it will still be an incarnate thing) by looking back in time at King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who went a tad crazy for seven seasons in the wilderness (although not violently against his own people) until he acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and God gives them to anyone He wishes. (Dan 4:25) Not only can the Middle East be nourished by this wisdom but so can every single country in the world:

Dan 4:27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

The Churches-as-Institution are learning this, too.  She stepped into the very lectionary verses she selected for today out of the Wisdom of Solomon.  Christ did tell us we are lampstands (Rev 1:20) and not to put the light under a bowl. (Mt 5:15)  But she stood far off and removed for three-and-a-half of those eight years.  Her light was so far off in the distance that it couldn’t illuminate a thing, and she was embarrassed.  Nothin’ personal.  So we have received a double portion from our own cup.  God spat out the Church out of His mouth because of her lukewarmness (Rev 3:16) and she was just doing what He did to her.  We did become like little children.  We do reflect our parents.  Hopefully we reflect their better qualities.  Just as the Wife of Noble Character wears strength and dignity as her clothing and laughs at the time to come (Pv 31:25), so the Church-as-Bride has made herself ready.  She is being given “fine linen, bright and clean to wear.  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)” (Rev 19:8)  The Churches-as-Institution have been the last of all and the servants of all (Mk 9:35) to “see” that they have accomplished God’s will and Word.  They just didn’t understand and were afraid to ask. (Mk 9:32)

The verses which the Lectionary Barons left out (Wisdom 2:2-11) describe the attitudes and behaviors of today’s “Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day) attitude that says: “Let’s do whatever we want, Destiny will have its way and run its course, anyway; we’re all gonna go out at the mark of the Mayan calendar, and we all die and there’s no return –but then who would want to anyway?- so we might as well live it up and oppress everyone in the process.  Who cares?”  Verse 11 of the omitted section sums up the crass attitude well:

Wisdom of Solomon 2:11 “Let our strength be the yardstick of virtue, since weakness argues its own futility.”

Even though the Lectionary Barons left these verses out, they still describe what Christ said to the angel of the Church of Thyatira:

Rev 2:26To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

[And He did give authority to the Church-as-Institution]

 27‘He will rule them with an iron scepter;
      he will dash them to pieces like pottery’— just as I have received authority from my Father.

[And the Institution has ruled over the people with an “iron scepter” and has dashed the humble to pieces like pottery.  The people did what the leaders preached even when the leaders couldn’t do it themselves.  The institution received authority from God who gave it to Peter, and the Institution reflects her “parent.”]

So she will receive “the morning star” just like Christ promised.  It’s a reflection.  Nothin’ personal.  

Rev 2:28I will also give him the morning star. 29He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The oppressed are everywhere.  It is true; we can’t help everyone but only the ones God has shown us. God is patient and merciful and is always seeking to restore.  The answers and solutions to the peoples’ oppression and the Church’s oppression lie among the gifts of her own people.  We just need to listen to them.

Mark 9:37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Welcome to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Rev 19:9)

Prayer:  Lord, help us to welcome You and each other.  Help us to not be afraid of each other.  John said, “If we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid in God’s presence, and whatever we ask Him, we shall receive, because we keep His commandments and live the kind of life that He wants.” (1 Jn 3:21, JB)  We ask for discernment, Lord, in living the kind of life that You want.  We “see” some in parts, but we often don’t really know what to say or ask.  We need discernment to bring proper applications to what we already see in the Spirit realm and draw that into the physical and symbolic realms.  May this discernment honor You, Father.  For all our pomp, we truly are children.  We only know what we know and can only apply our knowledge in context with others like a living testimony.  Lord, when the disciples were following after You, You asked them what they wanted and told them to come and see.  (Jn 1:39)  They made it personal.  They made it real.  Help us to do the same.  Holy Spirit, You are the Spirit of Truth and You with Christ and God through blood and water bear witness; the Three-In-One witness test through spirit, blood, and water that real is Real. (1 Jn 5:6-7)  This life is the real deal.  It is the sacred feminine as well as the heroic masculine.  Even ivory towers are real when they come tumbling down.  We ask for wisdom to treat Life with kindness.  We ask for wise ears and humble hearts to ask the right questions.  We thank You, Lord, for being our advocate when we cannot defend ourselves against forces in this world, and we cannot defend ourselves against forces which are not of this world.  Give voice to the oppressed who suffer so much under these forces.  Help us to hear You, our Lamb, and testify to You and to each other of Your awesomeness.  May we feast on Your greatness at the wedding supper as You are glorified, God.  Amen.

 

17 After Pentecost                              23 Sept 2012                           Gospel: Mark 9:30-37

Proverbs 31:10-31
31:10 A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

31:11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

31:12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

31:13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

31:14 She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away.

31:15 She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant girls.

31:16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

31:17 She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.

31:18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

31:19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.

31:20 She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.

31:21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson.

31:22 She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

31:23 Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land.

31:24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes.

31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.

31:28 Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her:

31:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31:31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.

Psalm 1
1:1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

1:2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

1:3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

1:4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

1:6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22
1:16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company.

2:1 For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end, and no one has been known to return from Hades.

2:12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training.

2:13 He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

2:14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

2:15 the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.

2:16 We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.

2:17 Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

2:18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

2:19 Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.

2:20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

2:21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them,

2:22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls.

Jeremiah 11:18-20
11:18 It was the LORD who made it known to me, and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds.

11:19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!”

11:20 But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously, who try the heart and the mind, let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.

Psalm 54
54:1 Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.

54:2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

54:3 For the insolent have risen against me, the ruthless seek my life; they do not set God before them. Selah

54:4 But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

54:5 He will repay my enemies for their evil. In your faithfulness, put an end to them.

54:6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.

54:7 For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

3:14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.

3:15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.

3:16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.

3:17 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.

3:18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

4:1 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?

4:2 You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.

4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Mark 9:30-37
9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;

9:31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”

9:32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

9:33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”

9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.

9:35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

9:36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,

9:37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

 

Bridegroom

16 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 16 After Pentecost 16 Sept 2012

Bridegroom

No one can really “teach” another about Christ’s Messiahship.  Truly, we can “tell no one” (Mk 8:30) about our love affair, but we can live honestly and in integrity in our relationship with Him.  Those who listen to God will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster. (Pv 1:33)  Teaching is not the same as knowledge.  The spiritual gift of teaching is a supernatural gift God imparts to teach about our supernatural God.  Knowledge and teaching go hand-in-hand with the fear (respect) of the Lord. (Pv 1:29)  Therefore, as James says,

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

In God’s economy, which is anchored in honesty and integrity, actions speak louder than words. With honesty and integrity the wedding canopy opens. (Ps 19:5)  The tongue is a fire; it sets on fire the cycle of nature, and it is itself set on fire by hell. (v 6)  Hell is not a destination but a chamber.  Hell’s mind is set on human things and not on divine things.  Therefore when Jesus rebuked Peter (and also today as He rebukes the Church-as-Institution,) Christ turned and looked at His disciples in order to do the rebuking of Peter. (Mk 8:33)  “Get behind me Satan!” was not a direct in-your-face confrontation.  Jesus did it sideways.  Denial cannot be confronted face on.  It is true that when we confront our own pet demons (ie issues we struggle with) they must flee when we face them head on.  When dealing with Satan himself, when a true evil is generated, often started by the tongue and perpetuated by the heart, then it requires a united front of the righteous to rid the evil.  The group listens to the Lord, lays down self-centeredness and CYA  [Cover Your Assets] for Christ’s sake, for the sake of the Peaceful Kingdom, and for the sake of the Good, very good, News. (Mk 8:35) 

God gave us a perfect example this week.  Those who debased the Prophet Mohammad this week by posting an offensive film on U-Tube set the Middle East on fire and their hearts ablaze. This hell was created and perpetuated by cursing.

James 3:9 With it [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.

We Christians know via compassion how it feels when our crosses are burned and believers are disgraced for what we believe.  It is our job to have hearts of compassion and mercy, not add to their hell.  It is the Holy Spirit’s job to intervene with grace and to reveal Christ Himself to change us from the inside out. 

Satan is all about lies, projection, and illusion.  Of course he doesn’t want the good news to get out.  He is revealed in the sons of man. 

Mark 8:38 “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

The Son of Man is the Everyman part of Christ.  Feeling ashamed is human, even when we’ve done nothing wrong.  It’s the glory of the Father with His holy angels that radiates the Light to dispel the shame.  Hell is personal.  It requires our personal God to get us out of the chamber.  With this being Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, we can blow the “trumpets” by joining in speaking forth blessing, or we can curse those who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:11)  Every one of us have been on both sides of the fence: in hell’s chamber and freed (even if only for a moment) from hell’s grip.  The Bridegroom knows first hand what you are going through.  It’s personal with Him.

On the global scale with the Churches, it’s personal with Him, too.  There is a reason why Christ addressed the angel of True Witness sent to the Church of Laodicea as last in the set.  (Rev 3:14)  In Truth it was her tongue that got her into trouble.  It is also the tongue which will free her and the other Churches.  In God’s etiquette, the Bride is presented by the chaperone.  This pattern is God’s “checkmate” on the cosmic chessboard.  Just as Satan is rebuked sideways because denial will only deny its denial when confronted face on, so true witness goes out sideways to bear Truth to all.  Truth is given away like the father of the bride gives her away to the groom to be wed as one by the priest, who also bears witness.  In the traditional wedding ceremony, the priest asks, “Is there anyone present who objects to the union of this man and this woman?  If not, forever hold your peace.”  In the case of the Seven Churches, they obeyed Christ’s words verbatim:

Mark 8:30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

There was no objection.  May the marriage of the Church commence, the Bride with her Bridegroom!  

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for helping us to fulfill Your Word.  May we dance under the wedding canopy with You and rejoice as You make us one with You.  May we celebrate our New Beginning, our Rosh Hashanah as we blow the trumpets announcing Your great mercy in Truth and integrity.  Please give us Your words and radiant joy where there is no speech, nor are there words, where our voice is not heard (Ps 19:3) and yet Your Voice goes throughout all the earth and Your words out to the end of the world. (v 4)  Thank You for Your unfathomable grace and selflessness that draws us to Yourself and makes our oneness with You possible.  You take our breath away as You make good on Your Word for You are Integrity itself.  Please make us Your Bride, healed and restored as on the Day of Pentecost.  Amen.

 

16 After Pentecost                  16 Sept 2012                                       Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

Rosh Hashanah/ Festival of Trumpets/ Jewish New Year begins tomorrow, 17 September

Proverbs 1:20-33
1:20 Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.

1:21 At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

1:22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

1:23 Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you.

1:24 Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,

1:25 and because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,

1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you,

1:27 when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.

1:28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.

1:29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,

1:30 would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,

1:31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.

1:32 For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them;

1:33 but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Psalm 19
19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

19:2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

19:3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

19:4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

19:5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

19:6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;

19:8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;

19:9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

19:12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

19:13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:26 – 8:1
7:26 For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.

7:27 Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets;

7:28 for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

7:29 She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior,

7:30 for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.

8:1 She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.

Isaiah 50:4-9a
50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.

50:6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.

50:7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Psalm 116:1-9
116:1 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

116:2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

116:3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.

116:4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, save my life!”

116:5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.

116:6 The LORD protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.

116:7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

116:8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

116:9 I walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

James 3:1-12
3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

3:2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.

3:3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies.

3:4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

3:5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!

3:6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

3:7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,

3:8 but no one can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

3:9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.

3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

3:11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?

3:12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Mark 8:27-38
8:27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

8:28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

8:29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”

8:30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

8:32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

8:33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

8:35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

8:36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

8:37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

8:38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Holy Cross: The Dregs

14 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Special Reflection for Holy Cross Day

Friday, 14 September 2012 [Prophetic]

The Dregs

“Prepare the Way of the Lord!” John the Baptist cried (Mt 3:3) and Isaiah crooned. (Isa 40:3)  Part of the process of preparing is practicing the art of praising God.  This is not easy in times of fear and stress and isolation to praise God.  I have noticed in my own journey that just before a glorious resurrection-type breakthrough in my life, each time there was…

The Dregs. 

It took me awhile to figure out this was part of the spiritual cleansing process in the Alpha and Omega loop cycle (or cosmic grieving cycle if you will.)  The Dregs would stir up all the old sediments in the bottom of my soul.  Even though I’d already honored, blessed, forgiven, and released the wounds incurred in that cycle (and unhealed wounds from previous cycles as well,) the muck would mysteriously get stirred up again.  It would strategically happen at this point in the cycle consistently each time.  I would get confused and impatient.  Old irritants became glaring, neon “snakes” biting my ankles.  I’d ask God, “What is this?  Why is all this happening again?  I already prayed for forgiveness, grace, and healing on this!  Why did it come back?  I didn’t do anything!”  Each time at this point in the cycle God would say, “It’s The Dregs.”  Oh.

I pictured my coffee mug and slime from coffee oils and grounds that coat the mug.  The main grounds had been filtered but some stray and rouge pieces got through.  I thought of my soul.  I suddenly understood.  Yes, I’d forgiven, blessed, and released the main wounds which had ground me down.  God had filtered and I drank from His Vine.  And still there was sediment at the bottom that was so deep that I couldn’t reach it.  Some “grounds” were conscious, others were subconscious.  Regardless of the origin of the wound and where the pain had lodged, I still couldn’t reach it.  God was bringing those to light.  In this segment of the cycle The Dregs would come rapidly with a force of their own.  Their impact would topple me over like Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statute. (Dan 2)  My golden head (v 32) with all my thoughts, ambitions, and visions would lay decapitated in the dust.  My chest and arms of “silver” (v 39) with which I’d tried to love fearlessly would first become stiff and then would suddenly break off or go limp with impotence.  My belly and thighs of “bronze,” (v 32 39) where I’d tried to store all my philosophies and motivate myself by good intentions and fine hopes crumbled to powder.  My legs of ‘iron,” (v 33, 40-43) where sheer tenacity and stubbornness drove me over impossible hurdles in the past, suddenly became brittle like a rusty old gate at the ocean.  My feet of “part iron and part baked clay,” (v 33, 41-43) which I’d used for so long to run away from myself and God, both through mock-devotion and through mock-martyrdom, became powder.  My toes of “partly iron and partly clay,” (42) with which I’d tried so valiantly to maintain my equilibrium were at once both strong and suddenly brittle.  I toppled like Stalin’s statue in Prague at the end of the Cold War.  Was I reflecting the world or was the world reflecting me?  Neither and both.  It was incarnational from the inside out.  We all go through this process—individually and societally. 

Since I was already winded from the spiritual pummeling, all I could do was look up at Christ from the threshing floor. (v 35)  What could I say?  He said the word for me: “Duck!”  Huh?  He repeated: “Duck!”  I curled and leaned into Him.  I pressed into Him.  The spiritual tornado finally passed.  That was followed by a soothing swirl of grace that reached every nook and cranny of my soul, even the deepest Dregs.  It felt like a cool, cleansing mist on sand-burned skin.  After I had breathing time, I asked the Holy Spirit to put on special healing ointment (not just holy oil) on to the wounds in my soul so they would properly heal.  To my delight not only did the Holy Spirit cleanse and put ointment on the owies, but also poured holy oil over my whole soul to take the sting away.  It was like a spiritual spa day!  With the sting removed I could see the world with a fresh perspective.  It was the completion of the Alpha and Omega cycle within my soul, which prepared me and cleansed me for the next new beginning.  It was the cross, the Holy Cross Process itself, which made all things new.  It was God’s grace through the cross that did it.  It was nothing I did.

Prayer:  Lord, we lift You up as our “snakes” of emotional, financial, medical, social, political, and spiritual traumas bite us in the ankles, wallets, relationships, and hearts.  They bite us where we live.  We lift the pain to You and ask that You would put Your healing Ointment on the wounds.  Please remove from us the sting; wash and cleanse us by the living waters of Your Holy Spirit and renew us as Your people.  Make us whole, healed, content, and alive with renewed strength, and with both passionate and compassionate focus on You.  As we head into Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening (the start of the Jewish New Year,) may we all celebrate a New Beginning starting today, this Holy Cross Day.  Lord, may today through Sunday morning be both prophetic and incarnate-fleshy (real) in the Golgotha-like process of healing and cleansing Your peoples in the Alpha and Omega grieving cycle, down to the parts we cannot reach, but Your Spirit can and does.  We celebrate what You did on the cross so that we may be whole as individuals, as Your Church, in the Jewish people, as well as in all the nations of the world.  From here on, Lord, may we enter Your Gates with praise and Your courts with thanksgiving!  Hugs to You, God!

 

Holy Cross Day                      Friday, 14 Sept 2012                         Gospel: John 3:13-17

Numbers 21:4b-9
21:4b but the people became impatient on the way.

21:5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.”

21:6 Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.

21:7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

21:8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.”

21:9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Psalm 98:1-5
98:1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

98:2 The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

98:3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

98:4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

98:5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

78:34 When he killed them, they sought for him; they repented and sought God earnestly.

78:35 They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.

1 Corinthians 1:18-24
1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

1:20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

1:22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom,

1:23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

John 3:13-17
3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

3:14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Be Opened

9 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 15 After Pentecost 9 September 2012

Be Opened

Mark 7:34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

7:35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

7:36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [Reverse psychology?  We ARE children!]

Church, Be Opened!

In Mark 7:29, Jesus casts out a demon from the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter.  The woman was a Gentile, but she “got” Jesus.  (Most of the Churches today are also Gentile (Gentile meaning not Jewish) and they “get” Jesus.  And we do live in “The Time of the Gentiles.” (Lk 21:24))  Jesus spoke code to the woman and she still “got” Him.

Mk 7: 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

I am fully aware of the traditional meanings that “the children” refer to the Jews and “the dogs” refer to the Gentiles.  I bless that understanding.  Two thousand years later and faithful people are still offering their lives for the sake of the gospel so that the Good News has spread to both the Jews and the Gentiles everywhere!  Go Team! 

Mk 7:28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

The “dogs under the table” became the “souls under the altar” of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. (Rev 6:9)  The Seven Churches didn’t maintain the testimony because they’re an Institution, and institutions by their nature must preserve their status quo to enjoy their equilibrium.  If the gospel didn’t hurt the dragon’s pride, then the PR would be as easy as boasting about the Olympic Games.  That doesn’t mean the gospel isn’t easy to share from a state of authenticity once the obstacles are removed. 

There is a connection between the Syrophoenician woman begging Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter [ie the Church-as-Bride] and then Jesus moving on to declaring “Be opened!” to the Decapolis Man (reference bridge to Mk 7:31), who is like the Seven Churches being the Church-as-Institution.  The heart-mind is a funny thing.  It starts off not knowing.  God reveals, such as when He sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel and said, “Know and understand this.  From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be…” (Dan 9:25)  Then later God asks, “What do you see?” (Zech 4:2)  As the divine discussion progresses, He asks, “Do you not know what these are?” (Zech 4:13)  He may then ask, “Who are they and where did they come from?” (Rev 7:13)  After merciful lessons in humility, we can respond with, “Sir, you know.” (Rev 7:14)

In the first century the Church’s eyes were opened and Decapolis Man spread the Good News from the hub, and the word zealously spread out from there.  Man couldn’t keep his mouth shut even though Jesus told them to tell no one.  Two thousand years later and the Gospel has reached to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)  At this point the tides have now reversed.  The Church-as-Institution is currently obeying Jesus’ words literally “to tell no one.”  Ah, but in this divine romance, God has the last Word when we choke on love because it’s too personal, too awesome, too intimate, too overwhelming, and too real.  He sends help to the earth.

Rev 12:16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

The earth is an incarnational thing, the Word made flesh and real.  The Earth has swallowed up the Good News (and me, too!) because the Churches didn’t/couldn’t see/hear that the news was good.  And the “dragon” clearly had something to do with that!  Does humanity require yet another martyr for her religious appetites to be satiated, be it with Jesus and the Pharisees or in the Inquisitions a thousand years later? (cf Rev 20:4) 

Medieval (aka Episcopal) Inquisition = 1184-1230’s

Papal Inquisition = 1230’s

Protestant Inquisition (aka The Reformation) = 1450-1650

Spanish Inquisition = 1478-1834

Portuguese Inquisition = 1536-1821

Roman Inquisition = 1542-1860

(Inquisitions’ dates vary depending on sources).[1]

The Institution is a mighty mountain no matter what century.  Back when the Jews came out of Exile from Babylon, Zerubbabel was governor in charge of laying the Temple foundation when it was rebuilt.  And he did a good job.  It’s just human nature to turn a good thing into an institution.

Zech 4:7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’

When John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, he did not “see” a Temple. (Rev 21:22)  Institutions don’t always do hostile takeovers.  Sometimes they are velvet glove.  My NIV Study Bible notes say:

“Unlike the more famous structures razed in 586 BC and AD 70, the temple begun by Zerubbabel suffered no hostile destruction, but was gradually repaired and reconstructed over a long period.  Eventually it was replaced entirely by Herod’s magnificent edifice.” (p 670)

In today’s world was it not further replaced by the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount?  One’s Mecca is another’s Temple is another’s “tent” for the Ark of the Covenant.

Repeat: And He shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”

The grace goes to the Capstone, not the temple.

My pastor did an excellent job of explaining Peter’s understanding of Christ when Pete said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Mt 16:16)  He said that Peter got the right answer but not the prize.  Peter got the right answer but missed the mark because he had limited understanding of the Word and limited personal experience in relationship with the living God.  It is possible to spend years (even a lifetime) with someone and not really know them.  And the Church?  The Church has grown up (but has she matured?) since Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”?  (Mt 16:16)  Since the “religious” of these Churches God has sent me to all have a thorough understanding of God’s Word and they have each experienced a personal relationship with the living God, and there is still stone silence with “nothing personal,” then what is the meaning of that which is written,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone”? (Luke 20:17)

Obviously Jesus is The Capstone!  All the other stones point to Him.  It’s the mantra of the Church-as-Institution of “nothing personal” that defies the personal message from God.  And pardon me if I’m taking all this a tad personally.  If the incarnational message is not personal then how does the Good News get out?  I’m the first one on the top of the list to sign up to be a fly on the wall!!  But God said with my calling I had to share the journey [doggone it!]  I share it via these Reflections.  I did so first via email (personal inbox,) then on a blog (a step removed from personal,) and then e-published Reflections Book One, the first year of Reflections (e-publishing is the farthest step removed from personal even though they are on the personal inward spiritual journey connecting to our journeys together.)  Thankfully, according to my contract with Kindle Direct Publishing, they are handling the marketing, so thank goodness there’s nothing personal there.  Then I tried to make it personal again and did my own public relations blurb on Facebook to promote Reflections Book One.[2] [Please see footnote for link if you are interested in reading or sharing this electronic book.]  And still nothing.  The word is not going out.  It sits in the quay with other books with no movement like airplanes waiting on a tarmac for the flight tower to give them the “all clear” for take-off.  Ok.  So I won’t take it personally.  God’s gotta fight this dragon. 

I did receive encouragement this week when Rick Joyner likened this portion of our collective journey to Isaiah 40.  He said:

“I know this will sound like foolishness to many, but I have been convinced that this is the Lord’s plan for us, who wants to do good for us. If you have an eschatology that the antichrist is going to take over the world, I’m sure this will seem even more foolish. I have an eschatology that Christ is going to take over the world, that His kingdom is going to come and His will is going to be done right here on earth as it is in heaven. My eschatology also compels me to believe that we are here now to prepare the way for the Lord. We do this by building a highway for our God as we see in Isaiah 40.

          This highway in Isaiah 40 is God’s “higher-way.” Jesus came to show us this highway, and now we must walk it. He showed us by His life that we are only limited by our faith and our obedience. There are no speed limits on God’s highway. You can go as fast as you want or as slow as you want. However, the traffic on it must be moving because it is not a parking lot but a highway. How far have you gone on it? How fast can you go?”

God is doing incarnational things to set the captives free from ourselves once again.  Having an eschatology is a belief system, a worldview of end times.  I am absolutely convinced that God is finishing (ie, making right that which was turned upside down); He is finishing what He started, and what He started was good, very good.

Zech 4: Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things? [incarnational]
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

Since Christ is the Capstone and there are Seven Churches and the seven eyes of the Lord have ranged the earth and settled here with His bride (ref Rev 22:17), and the bride is treated like her Husband, is it not possible and good that we did not know, like Zechariah (Zech 4:5, 13) and later we deferred the knowing like John did in Rev 7:14?  And the angel did say to John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev 21:9)  Are not Husband and wife treated the same way?  Does humanity really need another thousand years just for Satan to get released yet one more time (Rev 20:7) to prove that God was right?

In Zechariah 4:6 we are told that Z saw a golden lampstand with a bowl at the top.  I believe the bowl was full of mercy in humility.  Seven lights were on it with seven channels to the lights.  In Rev 1:20 there were seven angels to the seven churches (ie lampstands.)  The Seven Churches can show the light of mercy in humility.  Mercy in humility flows by the Spirit, not by might or power, but by God’s Spirit, just as He said. (Zech 4:6)  There are seven channels to the lights. (v 2)  There are seven virtues, which hold up against the seven deadly sins.  Those “lights” channel into mercy in humility in the bowl.  Christ is all about mercy in humility.  There are two olive trees on either side of the bowl.  John Belt said they represent unity and action.  I believe they also represent Peter and Paul, as Peter was sent to preach to the Jews, and Paul was sent to preach to the Gentiles.  We are now living in “The Time of the Gentiles.”  In our day both the Jews and the Christians have heard the Good News and tried to institutionalize God’s law of love.  That’s human nature.  How will the Churches and the Jews gather in unity in Christ to take action to share the Good News that God is merciful despite our human failures and to make the ground level (v 7), when the Church has not said, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord” (Lk 19:48)?  That hasn’t happened yet.  Nothin’ personal.

Both the Jews and the Christians are now on level ground, an even playing field.

It is meaningful that Zechariah asks again, a second time, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?” [anointing] (v 12)

Zech 4:14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”

It is no coincidence that Z asks twice who the two olive branches are.  Learning lessons in merciful humility within God’s own people (both Jews and Christians) have come with a heavy and costly price.  Only God pouring out His own bowl of Oil on us can provide the insight and understanding in grace for our eyes and ears to be opened, and our feet to rejoice in taking unity in action.

Prayer: O Divine Madman!  You sent me on an impossible mission.  You christened me like the Titanic when You asked me to “marry You.”  At the time it seemed so simple.  You commissioned me with Your directives to “worship You” and “share the journey” with the Churches-as-Institution, but the Institution is a stone entity, even though it is made up of real (incarnate) people.  The Institution is not “real” any more than the “dragon” is technically not “real.”  They both are, but they are not.  They feel real, act real, and breathe in rhythms that are real.  But they are ethereal.  The Church-as-Bride has been praying for unity and action by Your Holy Spirit.  Lord, only You can cut through the smoke and mirrors that separate the schizophrenic Church-as-Institution from the authentic Church-as-Bride.  Only You can teach us how to share.  So far the Church is the Great Benefactor.  She is the one with the power.  The spiritually starving are the recipients, the “dogs under the table.”  With this Great Benefactor, sharing is outbound and one-way only.  She lives by the golden rule: She who has the gold, rules.  The starving with the “crumbs” of the Good News have nothing but gratitude to offer back to the Institution, the benefactor with the power.  But Lord, I know there is another type of sharing.  Papa, You told us to become like little children.  Kids know how to share.  When kids share there is a balance of power in the risk-taking and the sharing.  There’s a trust that flows out of the innocence and wonder.  God, help us to become like little children even though we have lost our innocence as a society and as a Church.  Help us to submit to Your kingship.  Please help us all, Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, to humbly open our eyes and say with our mouths that You, Lord, were right.  It’s hard for us Father, to admit when Daddy was right all along.  We’ve had our “time out.”  Now we say we are truly sorry.  Please forgive us.  Open us to Your mercy and grace.  Open us to receive Your holy bowl of oil as You anoint us with the peace and wisdom of Your Holy Spirit as You draw us to Yourself, making our relationship right with You again.  Amen.

 

15 After Pentecost                              9 Sept 12                                 Gospel: Mark 7:24-37

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.

22:8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.

22:9 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.

22:22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate;

22:23 for the LORD pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.

Psalm 125
125:1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore.

125:3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong.

125:4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts.

125:5 But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers. Peace be upon Israel!

Isaiah 35:4-7a
35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”

35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

35:6 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;

35:7a the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.

Psalm 146
146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

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

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
2:1 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

2:2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in,

2:3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,”

2:4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?

2:6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?

2:7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

2:8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

2:9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

2:11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

2:13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?

2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,

2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

2:17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Mark 7:24-37
7:24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,

7:25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.

7:26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

7:27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

7:28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

7:29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go–the demon has left your daughter.”

7:30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

7:31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

7:32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.

7:33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.

7:34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

7:35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

7:36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

7:37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

No Human Traditions Above God

2 Sep

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 14 After Pentecost 02 September 2012

No Human Traditions Above God

Song of Songs

2:11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; (KJV)

I had just read this before I opened the lectionary readings for today.  I thought how odd the wording was when I read it.  Turtles I’ve known haven’t made a lot of noise or song (although they did hiss and snap.)  At the same time, for years others (and I, too) likened myself to the Turtle: quiet, reticent, contemplative, steady, moving about in my shell (even more symbolic now as I roam in my car-as-hermitage, while I park, pray, and write.)  I will snap and hiss when in pain or afraid (or when God tells me to, but then that type of snapping and hissing takes on a different quality with authority at those points, for it’s not self-focused but with a heart toward reconciliation of the Churches.)  Looking back to the verse, I looked up the other translations.  The RSV, which this lectionary uses says, “Turtledove” instead of “turtle.”  Turtledove is more visually in line with “singing of the birds.” I asked myself, “Have I been cooing with the turtledoves as I write to the Churches?  I try. More often than not, I feel like a turtle rather than a turtledove. It’s not easy cooing and wooing to stiff-necked, stubborn people to get them to see the Bridegroom peering over our church walls (v 9), gazing in at our stainglass windows or warehouse sanctuaries, and looking through the lattices supporting our landscaped vines and creepers.

Song of Solomon

2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.

2:10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;

In this same passage of Song of Solomon, Wade Taylor said the fig tree speaks of Israel:

SoS 2:13 The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

How is Israel supposed to hear the Good News of today when the Church-as-Institution is manipulating the very Word she intends to preach?  Israel of old got the Word to give heed and observe what God said in order to receive the promise. (Dt 4:1)  Israel of old got the Word not to pick and choose what to obey:

Deut 4:2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.

[Cough.]  Excuse me Lectionary Barons, assemblers of this Revised Common Lectionary of which the mainline Churches read; your royal clergy collars are showing as you included this verse:

Deut 4:6 You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!”

However, the Lectionary Barons left out Deuteronomy 4:3-5 leading up to this verse.  This may not seem like a big deal, but these verses revealed how the Lord took down Baal Peor.

You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.

What does the destruction of the unfaithful at Baal Peor, holding fast to God, and us still being alive today, have to do with the Church-as-Institution’s omission?  What does this omission reveal?  Dear Reader, please peruse with me back to the Book of Numbers.

King Balak took the prophet Baalam to the top of Peor in Moab so they could overlook the wasteland. (Nu 23:28)  It was Balak’s intention to have the prophet Balaam curse the Israelites when they came into the Promised Land. (Nu 22:6)  Balaam took a fee for divination. (Nu 22:7)  King Balak took Balaam to three different sites and asked him to curse the Israelites.  Each time with a change in scenery, Balaam got part of the picture and with each change of view he also got part of the sacrificial BBQ as part of his professional salary.  (After all, he was a prophet for profit.  He did love the Lord and he did pass along the Word from God.  He just put the “buck” as a priority over his relationship.)  From Bamoth Baal, he saw part of the people. (Nu 22:41)  From Zophim on the top of Pisgah, they built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. (Nu 23:14)  There was more BBQ, and still Balaam couldn’t curse Israel as Balak wanted.  From the top of Peor overlooking the wasteland, they would have seen the whole view, the big picture, the whole enchilada.  King Balak must have thought that once Balaam saw the whole valley covered with Israelites, Balaam would be convinced to ride Balak’s fear and dread [ref Num 22:3] and side with him to finally curse the Israelites.  But instead, up went seven more altars with seven bulls and seven rams on each altar, and more barbeque commenced.  This was quite a tailgate party!  Balaam must have gone home thirty pounds heavier than as he had arrived!

I make a joke, but it is only to break the tension.  Jesus explicitly told the Seven Churches, and Pergamum in particular, how He took umbrage with this practice:

Rev 2:14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam [ie “I’ll say what God tells me to say without the meat in the words and I’ll still make a profit,”] who taught Balak [fearful king of the institution] to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.

Today’s “Church of Pergamum” knows we are saved by grace at the cellular level.  The whole Church-as-Institution in every denomination knows we are saved by grace.  Today’s Church sets up different altars by different names but the rams and the bull is no different.  The seven altars are:

Pride, which is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, is what interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.  Arrogance grows out of this.

Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation.

Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.

Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.

Rage is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath and Anger.

Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.[1]

Sloth leads to apathy and indifference.  As someone recently said, “We are anesthetized by our own comfort.”  And another said, “We are steeped in an anesthetic of apathy.”  The Seven Churches that make up the Church-as-Institution (as opposed to the Church-as-Bride) is “comfortably numb,” (to quote Pink Floyd.)  The Church-as-Institution lumbered forward saying,

Dt 4:7 For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him?

And she did call to Him.  And He said, “Yes, KEEP My commandments, not adding to or taking away.”  The Institution is so heavy and obese now that she can hardly open her eyes.  She had the Good News and did nothing. 

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Jesus addressed this issue in today’s Gospel lesson as well.  The Pharisees came down on Him and the disciples for not washing their hands before eating. (Mk 7:2)  The Pharisees were quick to criticize instead of risking intimate conversation to explore the heart.  Jesus nailed them:

Mk 7:8 “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

The Church-as-Institution has done the same thing by idolizing Tradition, and creating a spiritual aneurism in the Anglican trinity of understanding faith by Scripture, Reason, and Tradition.  When this tripod is balanced in prayer, it does reveal Truth.  If Tradition in the tripod had not been idolized, she would have been able to practice what she preaches.  Instead, the Church washed her hands of her anchoress.  Idolatry blows things out of proportion and this is what led to the demise of the “Church of Laodicea.”  God did spiritually destroy from among them everyone who followed “Baal Peor.” (Dt 4:3)  Laodicea was rich, had wealth, and said she did not need a thing. (Rev 3:17) (Except more money of course.)  In truth this is what happened, and they put aside the commandment of God to not cling to human tradition and they did not listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit.  And the Lectionary Barons magnified the issue by omitting Mark 7:9-13 from today’s lectionary lessons:

Mark 7:And He continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

An Anchorite is a father or mother of the Church.[2]  Some Desert Fathers and Mothers in history may have been Essenes, (a branch akin to the Pharisees).  Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  (Jn 3:1)  Some scholars believe John the Baptist may or may not have been an Essene.[3]  The Church-As-Institution has been traditionally providing sanctuary for her anchorites (I would assume) since St Benedict. (480 AD.)  After my own calling, my priest had said, “Oh, there hasn’t been one of those [the anchoress] in five hundred years!”  The Institution set her wealth aside as “Corban” (that is, devoted to God) which meant she no longer had anything left for her anchoress, church mother, and involuntary monastic nomad.  The Institution took on a false form of godliness (2 Tim 3:5).  The Church-as-Institution was no different than the Pharisees (which the Institution also recognized and verbalized as such at the beginning of my calling.  She knew the truth about herself and did nothing.)  I bring this up not to bash the Institution, but to show that Jesus (in Mk 7:16-20, which the Lectionary Barons omitted from their selection today,) did address this, and the Institutions then and now did not want to hear it.  This was the second omitted portion in today’s gospel reading:

Mk 7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. (NKJV)

The NIV and many scholars leave out the verse Mark 7:16.  Didn’t Jesus repeatedly say in Revelation to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches?  But they didn’t/couldn’t “hear” because Isaiah 6:9-10 had to be fulfilled yet again and one more time.

Isaiah 6:And He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

10 “Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”

But the Word did not enter the Church’s heart but went instead to her stomach.  She became the great idolatress/harlot who sits on many waters. (Rev 17:1)  And she sits, and sits…and does nothing.  All inaction at this point is being caused by deception, cowardice, and lies.  It’s not because the Church did not know.  The Lectionary Barons graced us by including the list Jesus gave us on what evil intentions look like in Mark 7:21-23.  Jesus would have known those intentions by having encountered experiences with each one through the qualities, behaviors, and attitudes of the people He met.  Having been pure Himself would have made those dark encounters all the more striking and painful to His soul when He was around them. 

Since Jesus told the Churches for those with ears to hear what the Spirit was saying, and the Institution left out the “ears,” and not listening makes a man dull (Mk 7:18), and nothing that entered the Church’s ears from the outside that could make her ‘unclean,’ then the stubborn rebellion she clings to today is an internal issue and not an external one.  She does not see God’s mercy.  Did the Church assume that the shameful Great Nothing in the Grand Silence perpetrated by the Seven Churches in her acts of omission and commission mean that her silence has supposedly deemed her ‘clean,’ because what comes out of a man is what makes him unclean? (Mk 7:15)  See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil?  In her heart did she say: “You can’t touch me.  I did nothing wrong.  You can’t pin anything on me.”?  If she wasn’t hiding like Adam and Eve naked in the Garden, then why is there prevalence of a deep spirit of shame?  This shame is not generated from me or by me.  And, the Truth is we are all naked before the Lord.  True, the Churches said and did NOTHING.  This shame simply means she’s been burning in her own juices caused by her own convictions.  God destroyed nothing.  He has simply been removing the ego’s chaff with His holy fire.  The ultimate sadness is rejected forgiveness.  If I could send to the Institution a love song from God I’d send Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you. 

I just called to say how much I care.  

I just called to say how much I love you.  

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” 

God, please heal Your broken Churches.  Reconcile the Seven to Your oneness.

SoS 2:10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

Remember the fig tree the Song of Solomon 2:13 referred to at the beginning of this Reflection where the fig tree represents Israel?

SoS 2:13 The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Israel is very familiar with this whole dynamic.  Israel has great compassion, for she’s “been there, done that” (and hopefully doesn’t need or want to do it again.)  If we look back at the Book of Daniel when the Israelites were in Exile, we can see how God intervened with His own handwriting on the wall. (Dan 5)  God literally wrote to the Babylonians:

Dan 5:25 “And this is the inscription that was written:

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Literally, the translation is ‘a mina, a mina, a shekel, and half shekels.’  These are the lexical roots:  Mene comes from mina, the verb “to number.”  Tekel comes from shekel, the verb “to weigh.”  Uparsin is from “peres,” the verb “to divide.”[4],[5]

The backstory is that Belshazzar had thrown an orgy bash with the sacred vessels of the Temple. (Dan 5:1-4)  God numbered the sins of the Babylonians.  He weighed each sin.  And God really did end up dividing the Babylonian Empire in two with the Medo-Persians. (539-331 BC)  History tells us Belshazzar died the same night he saw the handwriting on the wall, thereby fulfilling Daniel 5:30.  Darius the Mede received the kingdom that night. (v 31)  Historians have traced that fateful date to 12 October 539 BC.  Then God brought in the Medes and the Persians and the first wave of Exiles were released from captivity on 5 March 444 BC.  Nehemiah 2:1 announced the release date “in the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes.”  The month of Nisan is important because 483 years (or 173,880 days) later on the Jewish calendar (which is based on a 360-day lunar year) historians have traced that on Nisan 10, or 30 March AD 33, Jesus would have had His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.[6]

When Jesus entered Jerusalem by the Mount of Olives on 30 March AD 33, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen (Lk 19:37) saying,

Lk 19:38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!” [ie, “Make them shut up!”] 

Lk 19: 40 “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

This is a repeat going on today.  The Church-as-Institution has kept as quiet as stones, but they are crying out nonetheless.  Even now Christ is repeating with tears the same words from two thousand years ago as He addresses the Churches today:

Lk 19:41 As He approached [New] Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you [!], had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. [cf Rev 3:17-18] 43 The days will come upon you [and they did!] when your [spiritual] enemies will build an embankment [of fear] against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the [spiritual] ground, you and the children within your [Church] walls. [cf Rev 2:23] They will not leave one [spiritual] stone on another, because you did not recognize [!] the time of God’s coming to you.”

It is true that the actual prophecy of Jesus’ words were fulfilled when Jerusalem was sacked in AD 70.  It was also a foreshadowing event of current times where the Church-as-Institution is being overturned, weighed, and found wanting, and her kingdom is divided.  She has been serving two masters: Self-interest and Tradition.  We must have no other gods before Him.  Christ is our Beloved.  He knows and sees.  It’s ok.  We all fall short of the glory of God. (Ro 3:23)  No one is without excuse. (Ro 1:20)  We all have an ego-self.  That comes with the packaging.  However, we are free from the bondage of the past and equipped to bear witness to what God is doing now in the Church-as-Bride.  As Pastor Daren Laws recently said on Facebook:

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you do change your future.”

While in prayer this week I gently held the events from the timeline and the Holy Spirit overlayed them on top of the Seven Churches.

MENE: “God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it.”  There ain’t no Eighth Church prong to divide into.

TEKEL: “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting.”  We have all fallen short of the glory of God.  Ours is to accept and receive His tender mercy.

PERES: “Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the “Medes and Persians.””  Thyatira fulfilled prophecy in this context.  There are two parts to her.  They are not separate sects worshipping unknown gods.  These gods are familiar.  The elect were misled and deceived by the enemy of men’s souls. (Matt 24:24)  Part of Thyatira followed after the New Age philosophy [ie Jezebel, Rev 2:20] and part of Thyatira was commanded by Christ to hold on to what they had. (Rev 2:25)  Both parts of Thyatira are known for “living on mission,” as they say.  She understands the concept at the cellular level.  Living on mission is exemplified by deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, and expansion. (Rev 2:19) Both the Catholics and the mega-churches understand this concept of “living on mission.”  In today’s Age the Church has not been divided between the actual Medes and Persians, but the dividing factor will bear fruit when obedience is practiced.

Rev 2:26To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

Doing God’s will in obedience to His authority is about KEEPING His Word.  It is about integrity of body, mind, and spirit individually and corporately in alignment with God’s good will for our lives. 

Continuing on with the overlay and interweavings as led by the Holy Spirit; last weekend, my pastor (Bruce Zachary) was preaching from Luke 19 on the Parable of the Minas.  He explained that everyone received a mina.  Just so that we’re all on the same page, I’ll recap the basics with some simple Wiki-wisdom, because the words used in the explanation utilize the same words to explain it as in Daniel 5 and Jesus used in Luke 19; words like “weight,” “shekel,” “unit of currency,” and the linguistic roots of “mene.”

Q: What is “mina”?

“The mina (also mna, Ancient Greek μνᾶ) is an ancient Near Eastern unit of weight equivalent to 60 (50) shekels. The mina, like the shekel, was also a unit of currency; in ancient Greece it was equal to 100 drachmae. In the first century AD, it amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker. The Greek word mnawas borrowed from Semitic; compare Hebrew māneh, Aramaic mĕnē, Syriac manyā, Ugaritic mn, and Akkadian manū.
In folk language used by the sailors the word mina or minescame to mean “mines”, indicating mineral resources extracted from the ground.”[7]

[It is no coincidence that recently the miners at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa, became violent over their mistreatment by their overlords and 30 people were killed.  Now the management is using an old Apartheid law to say that 270 miners are guilty of murdering their colleagues.][8] 

My pastor drew in the spiritual significance of the meaning of “mina.”  He said it represented the Gospel.  Everyone receives the same Gospel, the Good News.  In contrast and support, everyone is given different Talents (cf Matthew 25:14-30) to use in sharing the Gospel. 

If God would reckon accounts, weigh the consequences, and divide kingdoms over sacrilege to golden goblets of the Temple (Dan 5:3), how much more will God reckon, weigh, and break in two those who were commissioned with sharing the gospel [mina] and they did nothing?  God already broke His Son, weighed the consequences, rose Him from the dead to give us new life IN Him (and not just rehashing stale lives from old ashes,) then how much more will God intervene with the Seven Churches who knew and did nothing?  They wrapped their “mina” in a hankie and hid it, just like Jesus said they would do in Luke 19:20.  God took out the chaff from our souls, which He did not put in and reaped the spiritual harvest that others sowed. (ref Lk 19:21)  God has been most kind and merciful.  He has been generous.  And all the Churches could do was sit in their apathetic comfort, and be anesthetized in a stupor of sloth?  If you were in God’s sandals, how would that make you feel?

Hear.

For awhile now the school prophets have been talking about positioning ourselves to receive God’s blessing.  We are already positioned to embrace God’s kingdom.  At this point it is no longer a matter of correct positioning in order to receive.  Now we must pay attention to our heritage and in the process not erect shrines to our Traditions.  How?  Listen to what Paul Keith Davis said:

“Only in the supernatural realm can we receive the provision for our generation. This spiritual reality requires a far greater faith than we presently possess on a corporate level. Therefore, we must set our faith in order to access God’s end-time promises to the Church. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and He desires to display His resurrection power and life, so we may behold God’s glory.

Long Foreseen Promises

Many aspects of His divine life have not yet been discovered. The God-empowered life is wholly supernatural. It is profoundly prophetic and embodies unfathomable depths of wisdom and knowledge. The prophets and patriarchs of old foresaw the promises given to the end-time generation; they longed to see this manifestation of God’s glory on the earth. They foresaw God’s plan and marveled at the resources of Heaven reserved for this coming appointment with destiny.

As expressions of God’s grace, windows and doors of opportunity will be granted to many of us, granting access to the supernatural dimension of faith. For many decades, we have implemented our various programs and organizational strategies to evangelize the world. Although we are thankful for all who have been touched by these means, it has not produced the bountiful harvest foretold and described in the Scriptures.

Strictly by the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and His power will such a harvest be realized! As we stand on the threshold of the new millennium and the dawning of a new day for the Church, we would be well served to examine our heritage and comprehend more clearly our future. Many Scriptures outline the pattern by which the Lord established His Apostolic Church. However, the Book of Hebrews records some characteristics of God’s Kingdom:

“God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:4).

In reality, this passage is forthright and underscores the cooperation between Heaven and earth in presenting the Gospel. Such pointed language as this requires no interpretation, only our faith to believe it. To attempt to explain away this supernatural dimension of our heritage would provide a refuge for cold formal religion and a hiding place for unbelief.

The Great Commission

Examining Jesus’ commission to bring light to this dark world and to evangelize the nations leaves little room for doubt that the supernatural realms of Heaven are essential in accomplishing His divine mandate. The overall superior strength and abilities of many in the world leave most in the Church feeling inadequate when it comes to natural capabilities and proficiency.

However, when united with the assistance of Heaven and the impartation of the supernatural dimension, we can confidently press ahead, generously equipped for the rich demands placed upon participants in the end-time army. Scripture indicates that God chooses to transform base and common things to confound the wise. Our confidence cannot be drawn from our own strength, but from His. Presently, the Holy Spirit is looking for the qualifications of a broken and contrite spirit and those who “tremble at His Word.”

In no way does this imply an endorsement of ignorance or a lack of excellence. Quite the contrary! God does not intend that we approach the world on its own terms. Our standard is a representation of Heaven according to the perfect model established by Jesus and emulated by the early apostles. Like the apostle Paul, our Gospel cannot rest upon superiority of speech and human wisdom but, rather, by demonstration of the Spirit and His supernatural power.”[9]

Prayer: Holy Father, help us to see and tremble at Your Word.  Help us to be aware as we completely depend upon You.  Illuminate our eyes and ears, and thereby birth truthful and faithful hearts.  Break the lesser spirits that hold us hostage to our Traditions and Institutions.  Help us to heed and keep Your ways and instructions and may we honor how You have faithfully provided consistently throughout history.  Help us to see what You have already done.  Please give us insight so we may receive our mature inheritance.  Please forgive us for turning our Traditions and Institutions into shrines and silent stones.  Release Your Voice, God, penetrating through the Great Nothing in the Grand Silence to produce Your glorious watershed of Your Holy Spirit, so that we all may bear witness to Your Truth within us.  After all, we are accountable to You in the holy NOW as well as in the future before Your throne.  Please reconcile the Seven Churches under Your leadership, Father.  As A. W. Tozer once expressed it: “My thoughts aren’t adequate, Lord, to enable me to lead Your people through the quagmire of today’s society. Nor are the thoughts of the writers, the teachers, the preachers, and the psychologists that bombard me from the pages and the airways. I’m only going to be effective as a spiritual leader as I learn to think God’s thoughts.”[10]  Help all of us to think Your thoughts and view our “wastelands” through Your perspective.  Please give us courage to act upon what You tell us to do, and encouragement to stay faithful in soft grace.  Amen.

 

14 After Pentecost                  2 Sept 2012                             Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Song of Solomon 2:8-13
2:8 The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.

2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.

2:10 My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;

2:11 for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

2:12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

2:13 The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
45:1 My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

45:2 You are the most handsome of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.

45:6 Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;

45:7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

45:8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;

45:9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
4:1 So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.

4:2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.

4:6 You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!”

4:7 For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him?

4:8 And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

4:9 But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children–

Psalm 15
15:1 O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?

15:2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;

15:3 who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;

15:4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;

15:5 who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

James 1:17-27
1:17 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.

1:18 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.

1:19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;

1:20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

1:21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

1:22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

1:23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;

1:24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.

1:25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act–they will be blessed in their doing.

1:26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.

1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
7:1 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him,

7:2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.

7:3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders;

7:4 and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)

7:5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

7:6 He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;

7:7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

7:8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

7:14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand:

7:15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

7:21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder,

7:22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.

7:23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”


[3] http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_CRD_BI_WasJohntheBaptistEssene.pdf

 [4] Fee, Gordon D. and Hubbard, Robert, Jr, eds. The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible,  Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publ Co; 2011; p 447

[5] Moore, Beth; Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press; 2006; p 107

[6] Moore, Beth; ibid, p 175

[10] ibid