The Price Of Righteousness: Mark 6:14-30


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

I’ve often thought, would I have become a Christian, if I’d known what all it entailed? The short answer is yes, because I haven’t renounced my faith or turned away from God. But there are times (like now) when I seriously think of throwing in the towel for the seeming injustices in my life, yet Peter’s words hauntingly return to me, “To whom shall we go?” [Jn. 6:68]

John the Baptist followed God. He did and said all that God had given him to say and do. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who He was, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) With all the righteousness and truth in his life, he suffered the death of a criminal.

It seems John had not only been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He pointed out the specific sin of Herod and Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife.

You can not tell the story of Christianity without recounting the deaths of those who told the truth….. and died.

God gives us His Spirit for strength in this journey, I know that, and yet I feel abandoned, though I know I’m not.

When John the Baptist was in prison we see that he sent some of his disciples to Jesus, to ask Him, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

We all have bouts with doubts in our faith, but this is starting to take a toll on me. Please pray for me my brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith.

Amen.

Jesus Comes Home: Mark 6: 1-6


He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter,  the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.

This passage must drive universal salvationists, as well as hyper-Calvinists loony. What do I mean? Well this passage of scripture, places limits on the unlimited God . What’s going on?

Well, we have here yet another paradox presented to us. Much as the paradox Jesus Himself was; all man and all God, at the same time. We see here the example of the All Powerful God being limited by man . How can this be?

Anytime we have a paradox, it is helpful to not to draw any hard-line “either/or” conclusions. But what needs to be done is to weigh the paradoxical statements  seeing indeed, how they work together.

A great example of this, of course, is the Incarnation  itself. The All Powerful God chose to work through humanity, instead of around it. As a matter of fact, God has always chosen to work through humanity, using their actions and decisions ; starting with Adam and Eve in the garden.

When God created mankind, he gave him what we call free-will . The ability to make choices. Good or evil. God allows us to make these decisions, because of the love He has for His creation. Grace is offered to all, some receive it, others don’t. God doesn’t force His grace upon anyone , yet it is always present.

It’s the same in this case. Jesus comes home, to His native place, to teach and proclaim the gospel. And His relatives refuse to realize who Jesus is. They reckon in their human understanding,Is he not the carpenter,  the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? They thought they knew all there was to know, and refused what God was offering to them; Himself. They had heard of His mighty deeds, they were hearing is wisdom, but still the refused. In fact it states, they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

And Sacred Scripture goes on to say, So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there because of their lack of faith. A cooperation with one another. God with man and man with God. Not a fifty-fifty relationship, but 100% cooperation  with one another.

What is so prevalent in Christianity today, is the same attitude that Jesus hometown realitives had; just enough knowledge about who Jesus is, as to be completely wrong about  who He is!

Many Christians will not go to the polls and vote  this election day, reasoning that “God establishes governments” and therefore, He doesn’t need my help. And on one level, this is indeed true. But God has chosen to limit His All Powerfulness – for us to be able to participate  in His on-going salvation history story.

Remember when Israel asked God for a king ? The people chose Saul, yet God told Samuel He had someone else in mind. What is the immediate difference from that of the people and that of God? The people looked on the outside  appearance, and God looked upon the inside ; the heart.

Look closely at the candidates and their actions , for their actions will indeed reveal what is within their heart  (Matt. 15: 19-20). And your actions will reveal what is within yours. Will you use  this election as an excuse for your inactivity? Will you let  the the liberal agenda be imposed on you, because you didn’t want to impose your “christian” agenda on them?

Wake up Christian’s !! God wants to use you. He wants to use you in this particular way, to change the world . This is one of the few direct ways, that us “little folks” have the chance to effect the whole world. Let’s not squander it . Let us go forward, in the name of our Father, and reclaim this land for Him. He was gracious enough to give it to us in the first place, let’s reclaim it for His glory .

Our inactivity will jeopardize this country , just as our inactivity will jeopardize our standing in God’s kingdom. Render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s and to God what’s God’s. Isn’t it all God’s? Another paradox, or a call for God’s children to be active in the affairs of this world ?

So this week, let us make history  and not become history! Go and vote ! Vote Pro-life , Pro-family ; for these issues are Pro-God ! Economies will fluctuate, leaders will rise and fall; but life, and the family were here before  those things; and will remain after  these things have passed.

Blessings to you this week!

Amen.

Think about it…..


I heard this on the radio today. From this guy.

“Everyone who supported slavery was free. Everyone who supports abortion is born. That’s how opression works.”

Happy Birthday Humanae Vitae


Pope Paul VI’s encyclical turns forty today!

If you’ve never read it check out the link. It’s an insightful and prohpetical letter.

Here is the opening:

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

Enjoy! 

The Doctrine of Universal Salvation also known as Apokatastasis


I came across an article that references the Roman Catholic Church as teaching this doctrine. The article seemed very slanted in it’s presetation of the facts, particularly when quoting the Catechism and John Paul II documents even our Catholic prayers.

I called upon my former Pastor to explain this to me in layman’s terms. Here is his reply:

The bottom line is that according to Catholic teaching one may and indeed must hope for the salvation of all things (cf. Rom. 8:19ff.).  But that does not mean there can be salvation “against one’s will,” so to speak, nor against God’s will, either.  True, God wills (desires/wants) all to be saved (I Tim. 2:4—yet cf. I Tim. 1:3-11 for a balance).  But God has also created us with free will, and we can freely reject His love and gift of salvation.  Repentance & transformation will ever be pre-requisites for entry into the Kingdom (the 1st is our willingness to surrender, the 2nd is God’s power to heal).  But what if I reject God and His love?  God will not force Himself on me [love by definition cannot be forced, either in giving or in receiving]—and my state is that of one in hell—separated from Eternal Love.  

 A few years ago I wrote an essay “Is There Room In Heaven For Hitler?”  My conclusion was “Yes, but…”  I think it’s still in the archive section of “Pastor’s Corner” on the Our Savior web-site, Tim.  You might want to look at it. 

In the long run, we need not be concerned about anyone’s being in or heading toward hell other than ourselves.  To think that God somehow is compelled to welcome me, no matter what kind of person I am, is to tie the “hands” of God and make the sense of justice meaningless.  “Universal salvation” no matter what takes me off the hook for living the life of the Beatitudes or even the old Roman “cardinal” virtues of prudence, temperance, justice & courage.  In its own way, it is a version of Gal. 2:20-21—justification “through the law” here would become “justification, no matter what.”  Both would mean “Christ died for nothing.”  St. Paul was not happy with that conclusion, nor is the Church.

Public Policy Alert for Knights of Columbus in the U.S.


Congress considers transforming AIDS relief into a massive abortion program financed by U.S. taxpayers

ACTION:

A Congressional committee is about to take America’s overseas AIDS relief program and use it as a vehicle for population control and abortion promotion.  Knights are urged to write to their members of Congress (especially if they’re members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) to oppose this change.  See additional details at the bottom of this e-mail alert.

BACKGROUND

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is due for reauthorization in 2008. In 2003 this bill was passed with bipartisan support and has a proven record of success in saving lives.

Last month, however, the House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed a reauthorization bill (the “Global HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008”) which would drop the program’s exclusive focus on HIV/AIDS, and define HIV/AIDS and pregnancy as a “dual threat” to women’s lives.

The $50 billion authorized by the bill would then be used for both AIDS relief and what are termed “women’s reproductive health services” and “family planning services.” Although the bill’s definition of “reproductive health” does not mention “abortion,” abortion advocates have long interpreted “reproductive health” and “family planning” to include abortion.  Women seeking solely HIV/AIDS treatment could unexpectedly find themselves subjected to abortion counseling.

MEXICO CITY POLICY

Currently, the Mexico City Policy provides that no U.S. population assistance funds can be given to non-governmental organizations unless they certify that it will not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning.  But the Mexico City Policy does not apply to AIDS relief legislation.  The insertion of “reproductive health” and “family planning” in AIDS relief legislation is a ploy to redirect AIDS relief money to international abortion organizations, and represents an end run around the Mexico City Policy restrictions.  Foreign abortion groups that cannot currently obtain US funding for family planning would be able to do so under this AIDS relief legislation. 

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES AFFECTED

Catholic health institutions deliver approximately 25% of all HIV and AIDS care worldwide, and this bill places Catholic participation in jeopardy. Men, women and children seeking treatment for HIV and AIDS by Catholic providers in the world’s poorest regions could lose their access to treatment.

On February 6, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, wrote to the Foreign Affairs Committee, welcoming the major increase in funding for AIDS relief, but said that they were “deeply troubled” by inclusion of ‘reproductive health’ and ‘family planning’ services . . .” 

That is why the National Right to Life Committee and many other organizations are asking that the legislation be changed, and we ask that you do, too.

Click here for the full text of Bishop Wenski’s letter and a fact sheet.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by phone, FAX or e-mail.  This is especially important if your own representative in Congress is a member of the committee.  Click here for a list of committee members.

Even if your representative is not on the committee, it will also be helpful to contact your representative and your U.S. senators by mail, Fax, e-mail or phone.  Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121 or call your representative’s local office. 

MESSAGE:

“When you reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), please do NOT link the AIDS/HIV program to family planning and abortion.  PEPFAR should keep its bipartisan focus on saving human lives.  Those suffering from HIV/AIDS should not be sacrificed to the cause of abortion and population control.”

WHEN:

Due to the death of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, markup of this legislation has been postponed until February 25.  Immediate action will ensure that your voice is heard before the committee action is taken.

Ten Challenges for the Pro-Life Movement


I received this in an e-mail earlier today.More information is at the bottom of the post:

As we gear up for next Tuesday’s March for Life in Washington DC, I (Rev. Thomas Euteneuer) offer this list of challenges to the pro-life movement in America. If we really wish to beat the abortion culture we have to mature as a movement. Thirty-five years of the same strategies and ideas have not gained us the victory we seek because the fight against the most pervasive spiritual evil that has ever entered the world can only be won on God’s terms. The pro-life movement has invested more in political and cultural change than in spiritual change. Let us not be afraid to fight Goliath’s weapons of mass destruction with the faith of David who came against the giant “in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” (1 Sam 17:45)

10. Recruit Hispanics and other minorities into the pro-life movement—while we march on Washington DC, the abortion industry is scheming more ways to get minority women into their killing centers and capitalize on their vulnerabilities as immigrants, legal or illegal. Every pro-life group needs to put Hispanic outreach on the agenda immediately so that their largely Catholic values and culture will not be paganized by the politics of death.

9. Reject politicians who believe in rape, incest, life-of-the-mother and fetal deformity “exceptions”—political candidates who believe that these “exceptions” are legitimate are really saying that it’s okay to kill some babies and save others. They are worse than false prophets; they are frauds who perpetuate the notion that we can adopt the values of the devil while still serving God. Vote pro-life, not pro-some-life.

8. Challenge the accepted notion that condoms and birth control reduce abortions—reverse that lie with the truth: namely, that birth control does not reduce abortions, it increases them. Why else would a society saturated by birth control still have 1.3 million abortions? Almost 60% of women who go into abortion clinics cite failed birth control as their reason for aborting. Remember that the same folks who sell abortion also sell birth control, and they’re making a killing.

7. Educate doctors that abortifacient birth control is chemical homicide—most physicians conveniently overlook the abortifacient nature of all chemical birth control methods. Doctors are complicit in the chemical deaths of millions of babies and need to be told that they will be held accountable before the Throne of God for every lethal prescription that bears their signatures. If you care about his or her soul, you will educate your doctor!

6. Boycott corporations and organizations that fund or promote abortion—the abortion industry lusts for public support of any kind. Businesses and organizations that fund the baby-killers need to be awakened, and rather sharply, by the pro-life conscience of our society. Companies that refuse to see abortion’s moral dimension must be made to feel—economically—that abortion is a really bad business decision. And don’t hide your light under a bushel basket: make a public witness, write a letter, stage a picket. Let others know that you dissent from the culture of death.

5. Go on the offensive against Planned Parenthood’s funding—abortion is not the only source of money for the Planned Parenthood baby-killers; they are awash with cash due to the profits from their “clinic business” (i.e., selling birth control and sterilizations) and senseless government funding for “family planning.” Pro-life groups not willing to cut off their funding stream for contraception will just continue to see the PP monster grow and will never effectively undermine the demand for abortion.

4. Embrace the embryonic stem cell and euthanasia issues with the same fervor as abortion—let’s not adopt the same logic as the pro-aborts who dismiss the pre-born child and the inconvenient handicapped person as “not viable” and look the other way when they are destroyed for profit, or worse, market them as material for extermination. Let’s recognize that our defense of life must remain rock solid through the entire life spectrum, no matter how small or vulnerable.

3. Remind the Christian churches—again—that abortion exists with their permission—history will judge the churches of Christ that were apathetic toward abortion more harshly than the churches of Germany during the 30s and 40s. Christians living in a free society aren’t being sent to gas chambers for speaking out, so we have no excuse. It has been said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in the face of a moral crisis, do nothing. Christians must know that we will be held accountable if we are silent and indifferent to the plight of Christ’s least brethren.

2. Fast for the conversion of abortion promoters—“Some demons are not driven out except by prayer and fasting,” said the Lord (Mt 17:21). A regular habit of tangible sacrifices for those most immersed in the grip of the abortion demon will erode the power of this evil. The Lord just needs an army of souls who are willing to embrace this practice—then astonishing results will abound. Why not go back to fasting or abstaining from meat on Fridays for this cause?

1. Get down on our knees and ask the one true Savior to end abortion—the pro-life movement needs to humbly admit that abortion is such a massive evil and so deeply rooted in our social fabric that no human power can eliminate it. While we need to vote for pro-life politicians, they are not our saviors. Abortion needs to be driven out by the spiritual authority of Christ’s church like an unclean spirit. Once the pro-life movement begins to seriously fight abortion in its spiritual dimension, we will see some real pro-life victories in politics and society. We can’t say that prayer hasn’t worked until it’s actually been tried.

Spirit & Life®
“The words I spoke to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 03 | Friday, January 18, 2008

www.hli.org