Archive for June, 2011

The Ram, then The Lamb–God’s Dry Run

June 30, 2011

Reminder–God made us in His image.

Attributes we possess, even those that make us appear somewhat vulnerable, like sadness, or sensitivity, come from Him.

In today’s reading from Genesis 22, something happens that most Bible Scholars say is a test of Abraham’s faith.  They’d be correct in teaching that.

What’s not discussed as often is how our Father was inspired by Abraham, since He Himself would have to allow the same sacrificial offering a few centuries later of His Son.

The near death of Isaac was God’s “dry run.”

God saw for Himself what emotions a Godly man like Abraham would have to endure.

And, as a far weaker being than God, Abraham literally blew the Father away with His faith.

Here are excerpts from Genesis 22:

“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering”

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”

Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.  But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore”

Abraham’s brave and selfless obedience was a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on Calvary.

This story helps us see more clearly that Jesus choosing to die, was as much about the courage of a Father as it was the courage of a Son.

Help us Lord, especially those of us who are dads and moms, with most sincere gratitude, never to forget how it was the love of a family that redeemed the world.

Redemption was and still is, a family affair.

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Mounds and Almond Joy

June 29, 2011

My two favorite candy bars growing up were Mounds and Almond Joy.

Loved the combination of chocolate and coconut.

I could eat them every day.

Today’s the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.

There’s a connection to the candy bars, but you need to be older than eighteen to know what it is.

In today’s first reading, Peter and John help a lame beggar realize there’s more they can give than just a few coins.

Through Christ, they heal him and his reaction is to leap and shout for joy as he runs through the temple.

In today’s second reading, Paul talks about his three years in the desert, communing with God, then finally conferring with Peter for fifteen days.

Paul, though he did not walk with Jesus during His earthly ministry, later became an Apostle.

Jesus’ training period for Peter and the twelve Apostles was three years.

Jesus’ training period for His last Apostle, Paul, was also three years–in the desert.

There really are no shortcuts in life.

Everything we aspire to do, requires a process.

Whether it’s building a brand of candy, or becoming a better professional, we need to devote ourselves and learn from those who know more.

Our Lord could have easily given Saul all he needed on the road to Damascus when He was blinded and converted.

That was just his beginning.

The three year earthly ministry of Christ was not because Jesus needed all that time, it was because His Apostles did.

Both Peter and Paul became giant pillars in the Church, writing or dictating to scribes, most of the New Testament story or letters divinely inspired.

Which brings me back to the divinely inspired Mounds and Almond Joy bars.

The name of the confectionery that founded those two brands was The Peter Paul Candy Company.

The original owner was Peter Paul Halajian.

His parents named him well.

The First Rapture–A Prophecy of the Last Rapture

June 28, 2011

There’s always talk in the Christian community about the rapture and what it means, or when it will happen, or even if it’s real.

The fact is, Biblical events, Old Testament style, already give us a quick peak at what it will be like.

In today’s reading from Genesis 19, we see the story of the Angels rescuing Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family from destruction.

Abraham is a symbol of the universal family of God.

Redemption is just as much a part of the covenant God made with him as is the promise to have countless children.

In the Gospels, Jesus talks about the Angels separating the wheat from the tares (weeds).

Watch how it goes down in ancient times in these excerpts from Genesis 19.

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way!  Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.”  When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city.

…at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire
upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven.
He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain,
together with the inhabitants of the cities
and the produce of the soil.  But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham went to the place
where he had stood in the LORD’s presence.
As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah
and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.

The breaking of the dawn is a symbol of a rapturous change. 

Through the seal of the Holy Spirit, a gift that came to us in the New Covenant, in its fullness, the Angels can easily identify those who’ll be plucked and saved from the fire of God’s wrath.

The hesitation of Lot is his human nature…unfit to fly to God.

The Angels, by seizing their hands, almost like a Disney movie, where Tinker Bell sprinkles fairy dust, help the favored do anything.

Yet, in spite of these almost indescribable blessings, there are those in the Church that still cling to sin.

Lot’s wife, who turns into a pillar of salt for looking back, in my mind, is not lost forever, she’s being cured, or improved, for a later time, when she is ready to face God. 

Salting and curing meat was a common practice back then. 

Today we call it Beef Jerky.

As God’s redeemed family, (Abraham),  from the Lord’s presence, (heaven), looks down on the cities, we look ahead to that day when the raptured church will gaze upon a scorched Godless society.

The letter to the Hebrews calls it a great cloud of witnesses.

I call it justice.

God’s prophecies always come true.

Though no one knows when.

It’s better to be ready, just in case.

Otherwise we might end up like a man sized Slim Jim, stuck halfway between gory and glory.

Satan’s Plan–3 Things Greater Than 21

June 27, 2011

The Devil is real.

If you don’t believe me take a trip to Auschwitz and look around.

Evil began with one Holy Arch Angel, who decided that his beauty made him greater than our Creator.

This stupid Arch Angel was kicked out of heaven, along with one-third of the remaining angels, who joined him in his attempt to dethrone God.

He was and still is a community organizer with bad ideas.

His eviction from heaven, to our earthly realm, was not a cure.

It simply forced him to redirect his hatred of God toward those the Almighty loves, who are within his reach.

Yes, that would be us.

Since Lucifer has no more power in heaven, he’s working overtime here to drag as many humans into the slime of sin as he can.

Satan has numerous simple tools at his disposal.

Here’s a short list of 21 things that come to mind.

  • Doubt
  • Unbelief
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Pride
  • Egotism
  • Selfishness
  • Worry
  • Self pity
  • Fear
  • Stubbornness
  • Lust
  • Entitlement
  • Laziness
  • Denial
  • Disobedience
  • Lies
  • Accusations
  • Haughtiness
  • Adultery
  • Jealousy

God’s plan is simple.

He wants all to be redeemed by His Son Jesus.

How can we make that happen?

We must start with our own souls first, before we can help others.

Number 1; believe He is Lord and that He rose from the dead.

Number 2; avoid succumbing to the things mentioned above.

Number 3; live the Gospel, in word and deed.

Satan cannot always win souls to hell.

But he’ll never stop trying to make us ineffective.

His plan, once he loses a soul to God, is to short-circuit our testimony, so that we cannot bring others the Truth.

Do not try to out-think the Devil.

He’s an immortal being, with far too much power.

Let your faith in Christ’s atoning blood short-circuit him.

As a child, we can drive him to an even lower place, that being under our feet.

The same power that the Holy Arch Angel Michael had to defeat him, in pre-historic days, is at our disposal.

We are brothers and sisters of Christ, with power equal to Jesus.

Check this out from the Gospel of Matthew 26:53.

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown–Thumbs Up

June 26, 2011

Last night I had the privilege of seeing an all student run production of the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

I’ve seen it produced several times through the years.

This one, by the Taconic Brave Players in Pittsfield, was by far the best.

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, on which the play is based, was a true student of “The Child.”

His characters, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Linus, Schroeder, Snoopy, personify specific traits,  which all children possess, to exaggerated, yet believable comedic levels.

Good theater connects with its audience in such a way that it causes us to think about how it relates to our own lives.

This play magically reflected my entire household.

I relate most to Charlie Brown, (Liam Callaghan).

His silent and painful crush on the little red-headed girl and his constant, “woe is me attitude,” best describes my earliest years in elementary school.

I remember riding in the back seat of the Nun’s station wagon with a little brown-haired girl named Barbara.

The Sisters took us to some type of school review board, to ask us questions about grammar and a new learning method called “Phonex.”

It seems, at tiny little St. Mark’s School, we first graders were being used in an experimental reading program.

Sister Helen Elizabeth, my first teacher there, was the brains behind the program.

The ride to Springfield, from Pittsfield, in that back seat with Barbara, was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

She never knew my true feelings…until now of course.

I relived that ride a thousand times in my mind.

Good grief.

Here’s why this play was so well done.

Every character, including director (E. David Bertoldi), were no more than 18 years old.

Memories of childhood are so vivid for this age group, they’re hardly memories at all, they’re yesterdays.

Linus, (John DeBaggis),  looked like a kid having a thumb sucking relapse.

Lucy, (Alanna Bassett), well, let’s just say, she may not have been acting at all.

Sally, (Noelle Walser), sounded like the home movies of my Marisa at age 4, telling everyone in our house what to do and when they could speak.

Schroeder, (Dylan LeSage), was my child prodigy son Luke, the classical pianist at age 7, wooing his community.

Snoopy, (Kyael Moss), was my youngest son Marc, cool as a cucumber, entertaining everyone and loveable to boot.

I’ve included my whole family so far, except for my wife….she was the adult voice off-stage saying WAH, WAH, WAAAH.

Congratulations students, I was thoroughly entertained. 

You proved that no one can play a child better than one who still wets his retainer every night.

PS…Two Scenes in particular, The Book Report and the Glee Club Rehearsal, were impeccably directed and played, worthy of a standing ovation mid-show.  Bravo!

PSS…Special shout-out to Jessica (Guzzo) Passetto for mentoring this very talented gang…their first solo flight was a big success.

What Does it Mean to Be a Follower of Jesus Christ?

June 25, 2011

A liberal columnist wrote an article recently discussing religion in the race for Presidency.

Of course, he took a jab at Mitt Romney and John Huntsman for being  Mormon, implying to readers that somehow they must be over scrutinized to be considered, even though they were born into their religion.

As our society sinks deeper into relativism, I find it amusing how liberals have a problem with Christians born with a certain set of core beliefs, but have no problem with people who claim to have been born confused about their sex drive.

All rules must be bent to accommodate them, yet none can bend to help a Mormon or any other sect, become President, especially if they happen to be conservative.

In the last election cycle, Mr. Obama was asked, “what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?”

Since this is a column about Truth, I have no reason to retell his answer.

Let’s pretend for a minute that Jesus was the candidate.

How might He answer this same question?

Here are a few possibilities.

  • You must be born from above
  • You must take up your cross and follow me
  • You must go and sin no more
  • You must give all you have to the poor and follow me
  • You must preach the good news to all the world

Are you starting to see a pattern?

When reading the answers from the Man Himself, we see that relativism just doesn’t fit.

Only absolutes.

Gray areas are for my side-burns.

Lord, we need You more than ever.

Our world cannot survive without Absolute Truth.

  • You must feed my lambs

The Living Womb–Not the Parlor

June 24, 2011

Today’s the feast day of John the Baptist in our Church.

The readings chosen are focused primarily on the solemnity of the womb.

Before we get too far, my family was one that had a “living room.”

My folks never called it “the parlor,” which, I know is a common way to describe the place we kids weren’t allowed…unless of course we were there to shake hands with Umoo Leo or give Aunt Selma a boos.

My father would have us practice standing at attention, so that when we met another adult we’d have good posture.

His concept was right on.

Children sometimes don’t see adults as people, they see them as scary giants and slump or slink away from them out of fear.

I believe a child who’s become a good public speaker is one trained early to face things greater than his little siblings.

The theme throughout the readings today is God the Father’s influence on us at our earliest stage in life.

Jeremiah 1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you

Psalm 71

On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

Luke 1

He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.

John the Baptist, some argue, may have been one of the greatest public speakers in history.

His audiences were probably small at first, but by the time Jesus approached him to be baptized, they were enormous.

In the womb, God filled him with confidence preparing John to face the world and turn it back toward God.

My father did the same with us, but it was in our Living Room, facing Umoo Leo, and shaking his hand with vigor and a confident stare.

Like the crowd that followed John and turned their eyes toward the Father, I can still see Umoo Leo looking to my dad with an approving nod and a smile.

It’s never too early to teach your sons or daughters respect for their elders.

God started with John in the womb.

We can start with shooing them from the parlor, once they learn that, then boot camp can begin.

Father Abraham’s Hall Pass

June 23, 2011

A movie came out this year called Hall Pass.

The name and commercials were all I needed.

Literally.

I saved my money and did not go.

It’s a flick about men given permission from their wives to be unfaithful to their wives.

Hard to believe right?

These dudes are foolish enough to think there’s such a thing as a real “pass.”

Crazy as it sounds, the idea is Biblical.

Watch what happens in Genesis 16 the first time a historical couple try this experiment.

Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children.
She had, however, an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.
Sarai said to Abram:
“The LORD has kept me from bearing children.
Have intercourse, then, with my maid;
perhaps I shall have sons through her.”
Abram heeded Sarai’s request.
Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan,
his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian,
and gave her to her husband Abram to be his concubine.
He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant.
When she became aware of her pregnancy,
she looked on her mistress with disdain.
So Sarai said to Abram:
“You are responsible for this outrage against me.
I myself gave my maid to your embrace;
but ever since she became aware of her pregnancy,
she has been looking on me with disdain.
May the LORD decide between you and me!”
Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power.
Do to her whatever you please.”
Sarai then abused her so much that Hagar ran away from her.

The story speaks for itself.

Sarah’s (Sarai) moment of weakness, permitting her husband to have a concubine later became Abraham’s biggest problem.

The people sprung from Abraham and his family maid, the Arabs, have been pursuing the Jews, those later sprung from Sarah, since their conception.

Sexual sins and temptation always promises pleasure.

But sex, outside of God’s playbook, is an attempt at replacing His Joy, with earthly.

It’s our job as men and women of God to know that temporal feelings never last.

Poor moral decisions we make can dog us and our family for generations.

If you’re making them; stop!

It’s never too later to make a bad situation better by embracing Holiness.

Help us Lord to remember who we are and the complete Nature of Your promise to fulfill.

Let Your affection keep us whole.

Homeless Quite at Home

June 22, 2011

I was in the City of San Francisco this week on business.

The homeless population seems large.

The cops here know how to deal with them.

By law, they’re not allowed to aggressively solicit funds.

If they sit in one spot with a cup, or a frying pan, like I saw, they don’t get shooed away.

If they annoy tourists, the lawmen have little tolerance.

Tourism to any city is critical.

I saw one of them fall over drunk, off the curb, into the street and almost land onto a policeman’s motorcycle.

The man was scooped up by several officers and sat down.

A few minutes later a rescue van arrived and brought him to a clinic.

I was never a huge fan of SF liberal politics, but, some things you just have to condone.

Mother Teresa taught the world a great deal about human dignity.

God made places like San Francisco, with its near perfect climate, in which some of the planet’s lowliest souls might have a place to exist.

I don’t know the perfect solution.

But I do know, we’re not all the same.

That’s what makes America so great.

It’s a place where even the homeless have a home.

Abraham’s Choice–Pick a Lot

June 21, 2011

Real estate dealings are generally not tea parties.

They get rough right out of the gate.

For most generally kind people, it brings out the worst.

My mother studied and got her real estate license.

If you knew her this will not surprise.

She showed a few houses, but then, after a brief experiment, gave it up.

The whole concept was too “cut-throat” for her.

She stayed true to herself and let it go.

Mom was the type far happier making a Lebanese casserole to feed a family who just lost a loved one.

If a friend of hers died, she automatically took over their kitchen and organized things like, when to serve guests, or neatly recorded who was owed a thank-you note, so the family could focus on their harder task of saying goodbye.

Her greatest rewards were knowing she relieved sadness, not closing a land deal.

I’m proud to have an ancestor like her.

In today’s reading, from Genesis 13, we learn about Abraham’s (Abram’s) choice regarding a land deal.

It was a monumental real estate opportunity between he and his nephew Lot.

So Abram said to Lot:
“Let there be no strife between you and me…

If you prefer the left, I will go to the right;
if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.”

Lot looked about and saw how well watered
the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar…

Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain
and set out eastward.

After Lot had left, the LORD said to Abram:
“Look about you, and from where you are,
gaze to the north and south, east and west;
all the land that you see I will give to you
and your descendants forever…

Uncle Abraham did not fear failing.

His destiny was never tied to which valley he settled in.

He allowed Lot to choose a territory that could have just as easily been his.

Not a common way real estate deals go down today, is it?

Yet, people of faith, do not always need to fight.

God wants us to know, the biggest battles are His.

This is not a lesson on how to lose big in real estate.

It’s about how God always has our blessings in mind, no matter what happens.

When our decisions edify others, those blessings are innumerable and endless.

My mother didn’t need a few extra bucks more than she needed extra grace.

Abraham gave Lot the pick of the Lot.

Yet he’s the one we revere, not the one who got the better land.

Like I said, I’m proud of my ancestors, all the way back to Abraham.