Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday of Holy Week

Excerpt from: The Blog from the Arch Diocese of Washingtion

Tuesday of Holy Week According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus again returns to Jerusalem where he is confronted by the Temple leadership for what he did yesterday. They question his authority. He also teaches extensively using parables and other forms. There is the parable of the vineyard (cf Mt 21:33-46), the parable of the wedding banquet, (cf Mt. 22:1). There is also the teaching on paying taxes (cf Mt 22:15) and the rebuke of the Sadducees who deny the resurrection (cf Mt. 22:23). There is also the fearful prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem if the inhabitants do not come to faith in him. He warns that not one stone will be left on another (cf Mt 24). Continue to pray with Jesus and listen carefully to his final teachings just before his passion.

BTW--did you know this is also called "Passion" week?  Or maybe you have heard "Passion of Christ".

The word "Passion" comes from the Latin root: "Passio" which means "suffering".  And the word "Passion" means suffering, then later it referred to  strong emotions and only in recent years has come to be how we think of Passion today---a word referring to a strong emotional love.  

Have you ever seen Passion Flowers?

How the passion flower got its name.
(taken from: Plants in Motion)

When Christian missionaries arrived in South America in the 16th century, they found a plant which they felt was a good omen for their mission. They called it the passion flower because to them it symbolized the death of Christ. The five sepals and five petals of the flower, which are similar in appearance, represent the disciples without Peter and Judas. The double row of colored filaments, known as the corona, signifies the halo around Christ's head or the crown of thorns. The five stamens and the three spreading styles with their flattened heads symbolize the wounds and the nails respectively. The vines tendrils resemble the whips used to scourge Christ.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday of Holy Week

Jesus enters Jerusalem and clears the temple

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written,‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’but you have made it a den of robbers.”
That is what the Gospels tell us.    See, it is Passover week and the Israelites  must make their sacrifices to honor God.   They have traveled to Jerusalem from all over and many decide  instead of taking their sacrifice from their home to Jerusalem, they will just purchase it there.  At the temple are men selling lambs and other animals for sacrifice.   There are also "money changers", (who would exchange the peoples roman coins for coins acceptable by the pharasees) 
 I can imagine that they really jacked up the prices at this time too! And they did not sell these at the markets, but right inside the outer court of the temple!   So instead of being a place of worship, it has become a place of business.  And not an honest business either---hence Jesus calling it a den of robbers.
Angered by the desecration of the Holy Temple, Jesus weaves cords into a whip and then turns tables and chases out the merchants.    It is important that Jesus uses the words "Den of Robbers"  because it relates to Jeremiah 7:11 to mean a gathering of sinners trying to hide from their sin. 

To Close, I would like to Share this Meditation with you From:
As once you came into the temple, come to us, Lord Jesus,

and cleanse us from all that makes us unholy.

Silence the noise that prevents us hearing you, 
and help us see when we are blind.
Turn over the barriers that block your word, 
drive away the distractions that stop our awareness of you.

Give us the wisdom of your commandments. 
For you command only what is good, 
We are temples of the living God,
help us to know who we are. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Soldier's Dog: Chapter One (revised)

 Ancient Molossus Dog Roman molossus dog a type
Roman Molossus Dog

He was strong and brave, fearless as he fought by the side of his master.  The sounds of war did not terrify him, as it did other dogs.  Rather he found the clashing of swords against armor and the war cries of men to be exciting.  He had fought alongside his master for over five years and now patrolled the city of Jerusalem keeping rebels in their place.  Tensions had been climbing over recent weeks with rumors of a new king coming soon to lead the rebels in an uprising over their Roman keepers.  It was also a time of celebration in the culture of these rebels, leading up to a great feast called Passover.  The soldiers were working double shifts keeping watch over their city.

The dog and his master had been commanded to the East gate near the Jewish Temple.  The structure was a large double arched gate, constructed of stone brought to Israel by the Queen of Sheba in the times of Solomon.  They were polished and shining golden in the morning light. 

A large crowd had gathered and the excitement rippled among the rebels.   As the dog was led past the crowds his nose constantly scanned for any sign of stress in a human that might indicate trouble.  He could recognize the smell of anger and fear in a human that could be a deadly mix for any rebel if they dared to square off against him and his master. 

The dog pulled hard on his short leather leash, eager for a fight.  But all he smelled in this crowd was excitement and anticipation.  His master was under orders to simply observe and report back to his commander.  He was one of many soldiers scanning the crowds, some in uniform, others disguised as merchants and peasants, blending in with the rebels.

The entry of the gate was mobbed with people.  Some climbed the neighboring walls or trees, others stood in carts or sat on shoulders to get a better look at what was approaching from the Mount of Olives.  The hackles on the dog’s back raised and his muscles tensed as the crowd suddenly broke into a loud roar shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!”  The dog strained against his leash and began a low growl.  His master laid a hand on his shoulder signaling for him to relax.  The fight was not to be now.

The dog could not see the source of the commotion, but he could smell the scent of a man mixed with that of a colt, or young donkey.  Behind that scent mixture was the scent of several men and a few women with odors of the desert; the smell of travelers.

As the travelers passed the cheering crowds, the crowds fell in step behind them, looking much like a parade led by the man on the colt.  Those not in the line of revelers laid palm leaves, linens or sack cloths on the ground in front of the man riding the colt.  The man smiled and nodded acknowledging the crowds, his white robes draping the grey colt.  

The colt seemed unusually calm for all the attention drawing so close to the travelers, especially for being such a young animal.  There were several men accompanying the rider, surrounding him and the colt like a fence.  The man holding the colt’s lead spoke harsh words to the crowd attempting to keep them from mobbing the rider and colt.

The travelers and the man on the colt melted into the crowd as they passed the soldier and his dog and disappeared from view.  The crowd pushed forward and away from the dog following the man riding the through the city towards the great temple.  The dog strained against his leash, whining, wanting to follow the mob, but his master held him tight.  Their orders were to remain at the gate.  When the sun reached its peak in the clear blue sky the crowd was gone, leaving behind a few Roman soldiers and a handful of merchants who were now without buyers.   The dog’s master spoke in a relaxed tone, even laughing with the other soldiers.  

The dog lay down at his master’s feet with a heavy sigh in the dust as his heavy head rested on his front paws. The sight of that man riding the young colt would not leave the dog’s mind.  He felt drawn to and curious about this person. 

A strange sensation and energy had flowed through the crowd that morning, something the dog could not identify.  Never had a traveler invoked this level of attention and adoration from the rebels.   There were waves of hope, eagerness, excitement and love flowing in the crowd.  The dog never sensed fear, anxiety or hatred as he usually did when he and his master were surveilling the rebels.      

The dog sighed again, yawned and tried blinking the boredom from his eyes. But as the warm sun beamed on his dark coat the dog drifted into a deep sleep.  Images of the cheering crowds swirled in his mind.  They were waving palm leaves and shouting with joy.  But suddenly darkness filled the sky and the crowds swiftly shifted from love to hate and became riotous.  The man riding the colt was suddenly alone, his fence of friends gone. 

The colt threw the man to the ground and kicked him, drawing blood.  The site of blood stirred the crowd into frenzy.  The dog barked and charged the crowd but he couldn’t reach them.  He grew frustrated wanting a return to order and wanting to protect the fallen man.  But he was restrained and could only watch as the downed rider was cruelly beaten by both rebels and Roman soldiers alike.  The dog barked as loudly as he could, but the shouts of the crowd were louder, drowning him out.

The dog began to thrash and whimper in his sleep which grew lighter and lighter as he came to a realization that the shouting of the angry crowds was not in his dream.  

They were real.  Shouts of anger echoed across the market place.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Where Do Souls Come From?

Thank you StarryGem for inspiring this question!!

Everyone knows that we have,  dwelling inside of us, a soul.  And when we die, our soul (hopefully) goes to Heaven to spend eternity with God.

But what about before we are born??  Are souls sitting in Heaven waiting for an "Earthly Host"?   Are souls recycled?  Do souls exist before our bodies are created?


The Idea of Eternity leads us to believe that something that is eternal (such as God) has no beginning and no end.  In the Bible God calls himself "I am".  Not "I was, I am and I always shall Be".  

Also in the Bible God tells us to him One Day can be 1000 years and 1000 years to Him can be 1 Day.  

For God there is no Time.  He exists outside of time, for him it is always "Now". 

Weird concept, it boggles my mind to the point of a headache!

Anyway, time is an earthly thing, we see beginnings and ends.  We are born, we live, we die.  Beginning and End.   When they say our eternal soul, it is natural for us to think that it has no beginning or end.

To find out if the soul is created at conception or was created at the beginning of time in the past, I did some research. 

Here is what I found on this catholic website  ( http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=219175 )

"I don't think there's a Bible verse that explicitly says ensoulment happens exactly at conception, but if you look at the creation of Adam and Eve and if you read Psalm 139, all of which refer to God's special creation of human beings, it doesn't mention any of them having pre-existing souls. The separation of the soul from the body is death which is a consequence and punishment of sin, so the idea of the soul being not joined to a body before physical life doesn't make sense -- body and soul go together in a unity. What would be the purpose of creating a soul before a body to go with it? "


This makes sense to me too, because nowhere in the Bible does it talk about "warehousing" souls, meaning, if God created all the souls at the beginning of time, then he created over 7 Billion souls and they would be sitting somewhere waiting for a human to be put into.  The Bible also never mentions "re-using" souls, or recycling.  They are created and when you die, seperate from your body to be with God in Heaven.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What would it take for you to Believe?

Image result for is god real

The people I meet who do not believe in God always say about him:  
"Why doesn't he show himself?  
Why doesn't he prove to me that he exists?"

How arrogant is that on it's face?   
He needs to prove Himself to you???
And if so, does He need to prove himself to everyone?
All 7 Billion of us?  
And throughout all history and time?   

What can He do to convince mankind once and for all and forever?

Flood the world?

Image result for noah's flood

Destroy a huge tower?

Lead slaves in the desert by a cloud or pillar of fire?

Produce supernatural bread to feed the hungry?

Image result for manna

Collapse walls around cities?

Set fire to a water soaked alter?

Guide a boy with a sling and stone to defeat a giant?

Come to Earth in Human form and heal the blind, the lame and the sick?

Image result for jesus heals blind

Turn water into wine?

Fullfill hundreds of  prophecies?

Rise from the Dead?

Image result for resurrection

What would it take for you to believe?   

What would convince you it wasn't a coincidence 

or that it had a scientific explanation?

Once during an asthma attack that was more severe
 than I was used to I called out to God and said,
 "If you are real make this go away".  

And suddenly I could breathe.   
Nah----just a coincidence I told myself.   
Even though that had never happened to me before.

When I tell you my asthma story,
 does it make you believe?  

Or do you explain it away?

If God showed Himself to you in the way you ask----
would your atheist friends believe you?  
Would they begin to believe in God?

I don't think there is anything He can do
 to make you believe
 if your heart is turned away from accepting Truth.  

In the words of Ravi Zacharias: 
"God has put enough into the world to make faith in Him
 a most reasonable thing.   
But He has left enough out 
to make it impossible to live 
by sheer reason and observation alone."

God is not going to walk up to your house, 
knock on your door 
and introduce Himself.  

Image result for god knocks on your door

You wouldn't believe Him if He did. 

God is not going to coming charging 
through the clouds in a chariot of light.  

Image result for god prove himself to us
You would think you were loosing your mind.

God is not going to heal 
a dying loved one just to prove Himself.  

Image result for hospice patients

You would give all the credit to doctors and medicine. 

God is not going to come to you
 in the middle of the night and speak to you.  

Image result for dream of god

You would be sure you were dreaming.

Proof of God is out there----everywhere.  

Look at the complexity of a feather.  

Image result for feather structure

God or Evolution?  

Look at the intricate balance of nature allowing for life on this planet. 

Image result for earth from space

 God or Chance?   

Look at the brilliant simplicity of the DNA molecule.  

Image result for dna

God or Star Dust?

God is everywhere.   

Not waiting to prove Himself to you.

He is waiting for You to prove yourself to Him.