Friday, December 22, 2006

The 12 Days Of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

...and so forth. The last verse is:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Twelve Drummers drumming
Eleven Pipers piping
Ten Lords a-leaping
Nine Ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden (sometimes gold) rings
Four calling (or colly) birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves and
And a partridge in a pear tree

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a children's rhyme that was originally published in a book called Mirth without Mischief in London around 1780. It was originally a memory and forfeit game and it was played by gathering a circle of players and each person took it in turns to say the first line of the rhyme. When it is the first player's turn again he says the second line of the verse and so on.

100 years later the game and rhyme were adopted by Lady Gomme as a rhyme that "the whole family could have fun singing every twelfth night before Christmas before eating mince pies and twelfth cake".

These are the twelve days beginning on night of the 25th of December and ending on January 5th, the eve of the Feast of The Epiphany. In the Middle Ages this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season.

During the twelve days of Christmas, traditional roles were often relaxed, masters waited on their servants, men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels. Some of these traditions were adapted from older, pagan customs, including the Roman Saturnalia.

Some also have an echo in modern day pantomime where traditionally authority is mocked and the principal male lead is played by a woman, while the leading older female character, or 'Dame' is is played by a man. Some people give gifts, feast and otherwise celebrate on each of the twelve days rather than just on one day at Christmas.

Some Christians assign symbolism to the gifts in the song. One of the most common versions of these assigned meanings is:

• The 'partridge in a pear tree' means there is only one God and is also symbolic of Jesus (see Luke 13:34).
• The 'two turtle doves' are the Old and New Testaments.
• The 'three French hens' are the three Persons of the holy Trinity or the three virtues: faith, hope, and love, though according to Ace Collins' book "Stories of the Best Loved Christmas Songs", they represent the expensive gifts of the Wise Men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
• The 'four calling birds' are the Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; or their Gospels. Which makes sense because they are "calling" out the story.
• 'Five gold rings' are the first five books of the Bible, or the Pentateuch.
• 'Six geese a-laying' refer to the six days of the Creation.
• 'Seven swans a-swimming' are the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
• 'Eight maids a-milking' are the eight Beatitudes.
• 'Nine ladies dancing' are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
• 'Ten lords a-leaping' are the Ten Commandments.
• 'Eleven pipers piping' are the eleven faithful Apostles.
• 'Twelve drummers drumming' are the twelve doctrines in the Apostles' Creed.

This interpretation is usually taught with a story that British Catholics, suffering persecution in the 16th century, wrote the song with these hidden meanings. Although some sources, such as Snopes, disagree on this point. They point out that under the rule of Henry Vlll (1509-1547) ties were broken with the Catholic Church in Rome and the Anglican Church was established. After Elizabeth l established rule the “old worship” and open practice of the Catholic Church was forbidden following the Act of Uniformity. This was until Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. However it is not accurate to say that, without exception, anyone caught practicing Catholicism or possessing related material at any time during this 270 year period was immediately imprisioned or executed. The state’s tolerance of Catholicism waxed and waned with political exigencies of the times.

We can say with certainty that the song would have served as a pedagogical tool, however, some sources say that it was merely a "memory and forfeits game" originally played by children.

Sometimes "sent to me" is used instead of "gave to me"; also "five golden rings" is sometimes "five gold rings". Some argue that "gold" is correct and that "golden" is not. But because "gold" requires stretching into two syllables, the word "golden" seems to fit better. Additionally, some interpreters of the song argue that the five rings refer to coloring around the neck of birds such as pheasants, not jewelry.

The line four calling birds is an Americanization of the traditional English wording four colly birds, and in some places, such as Australia, the variation calling is supplanting the original. Colly is a dialect word meaning black and refers to the European blackbird Turdus merula.

The line four calling birds in some versions is four coiled birds. One version even had four mockingbirds.

The line nine ladies dancing in some versions is nine ladies waiting. The ladies themselves are also called dames a-dancing.

In Scotland early in the nineteenth century the song was started with:
"The King sent his lady on the first Yule day,A popingo-aye (parrot) Wha learns my carol and carries it away?"

I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Street Preaching

Though many think of Street Preaching as antiquated in today’s age of mass communication, fortunately it still goes on.

Here is excerpts from an article in a Delaware Online newspaper, The News Journal by Mike Billington:

Garry Dickinson bent low over his worn Bible, his fingers rapidly flipping through the wafer-thin pages until he found the chapter and verse he sought.

“You see brother, right here, in the Bible, this is the truth,” he said, pointing to a passage.

A tall man standing in line for a noonday meal at the Emmanuel Dining Room on Walnut Street in Wilmington glanced down at the Bible. He nodded, then looked away.

“You must believe to be saved,” Dickinson said, his voice intense.

A few people turned to stare at him, disapproval written across their faces. He paid them no mind. “You must believe that Jesus is the truth. He is the way. You must repent and seek salvation,” he said to the tall man. “I can’t make you believe, I can only speak the Word.”

The tall man shook his head, then turned away.

Dickinson is not an ordained minister. Neither is his twin brother Larry. Neither is Ed O’Donnell and a dozen or so other men and women who can be found on the streets of Wilmington preaching the Gospel to anyone who will listen and even to those who won’t.

They stand on street corners, in line at feeding programs for the homeless, and in parks and squares regardless of the weather. They pass out Bibles, rosaries, books and pamphlets for the spiritually downtrodden as they preach. They have been bullied, cursed, punched, shoved and kicked. Occasionally they have been arrested and often they are simply ignored, but they preach on.

You don’t find nearly as many street preachers in U.S. cities today as in years gone by. This is just the opposite in other parts of the world.

Teen Challenge was founded and has blossomed into World Challenge as the result of David Wilkerson, who was called to preach on the streets of New York to gangs.

I salute all those brave men and women that stand up for their faith and share it with others.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dances With Bears

What do bear really do in the wood?

Find out with me as we go on our forest adventure...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Leadership Lesson of King Saul

For as long as there have been Christians there have been failed leaders. Recently Ted Haggard made the news and joined a list of names that have succeeded in proving to the world that hypocrisy exists within the ranks of Christian leadership Because of that one could surmise that Christianity = Hypocracy.

We know that is not true, however with leadership like Reverend Haggard, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Billy James Hargis and Aimee Semple McPherson to name but a few that were implicated in sexual and or money scandals, we can see why the general image of Christianity may be tarnished and type cast.

The Bible gives us an important lesson that apparently these men and Miss McPherson overlooked.

In 1st Samuel we read about Saul, the Benjaminite that was anointed of God to lead God’s people. In the first sections of the book we learn that Saul was filled with God’s spirit and obedient to God. Saul listened to Samuel as well. The people of Israel wanted someone to rule over them, despite the fact that God was their ruler. So God gave them Saul.

Saul ruled over Israel for 42 years. He was the leader of his people against the Philistines.

During a battle with the Philistines, Saul was quick to act and did not wait for God’s command.
He took his eyes off the God of his Salvation, the God that set him up as a leader. Saul trusted in his own instincts. Instead of listening for God, he prepared a burnt offering. This was strike one of his downfall.

During the same war Saul called upon all of his men to fast before a big battle. Yet his own son Jonathan ate honey. When the half starved soldiers came upon animals left behind by the Philistines, they butchered them and ate the meat raw. In doing so they sinned against the Laws of God. Their sin was upon Saul. This was the second strike in his plummet.

God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, their king, Agag, all of the Amalekites people and all of their cattle and property. Saul destroyed the Embolic, but did not kill King Agag and he allowed his soldiers to take the best of the herds. This was strike three.

Though Saul offered burnt offerings to the Lord and though he considered himself “religious”, his sin was rebellion. Saul did not listen to God and God said that was as bad as idolatry. Saul eventually put Agag to death, but not until Samuel had pointed out this necessity.

As we move along in our story of Saul young David the son of Jesse comes into the picture.

David is brought in to comfort Saul by playing music to ease his troubled spirit. We are all familiar with the story of King David. We know that in defeating Goliath and the Philistines, the Hebrew women sing, “Saul has slain thousands and David has slain tens of thousands. We all know that Saul eventually becomes insanely jealous of David. Instead of ruling his people, Saul goes on and on hunting down David and trying to kill him. The Philistines attack and Saul goes to his final battle. During this period Samuel has died. Saul has no one to offer him spiritual guidance and Saul has turned a deaf ear to God. He consults a witch and is told that he and his three sons will be killed in battle. Even at this Saul does not listen to God, but to be certain that the mediums fortune comes true, Saul commits suicide by falling on his own sword.

My point is that Saul WAS appointed as King of Israel by God. Saul did NOT have to lose his throne. Just as all of the “evangelists” mentioned did NOT have to have their reputations besmirched had they listened to God. They all fell nature to their own “Philistines”, their own worldly desires. In getting caught up in the cares and wants of the world, they lost their credibility in the eyes of God’s people and the world.

Oh Lord God Almighty. May our leaders learn about you and love you and walk in your ways and do that which is right in Your Eyes. May they not be like your servant Saul the former King of Israel. May they learn lessons from his misdeeds and may our leaders always keep their eyes and hearts upon You. We ask this in the Name of Jesus.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ben Stein Commentary

Many folks think Ben Stein is just a quirky actor/comedian who
talks in a monotone. He's also an economist and a very intelligent attorney who knows how to put ideas and words together in such a way as to sway juries and make people think clearly.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

He begins with: "Here with a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly, when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.

In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a Creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly
atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a
little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's
intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this Happen?" (regarding Katrina)

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said,
"I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events. . .terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.
I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.

Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible

Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire
but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice
about sharing.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through
cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and

Are you laughing?

My Best Regards. . .honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Friday, November 03, 2006

Comfort And Aid For Those That Comfort And Aid

One of my personal heroes is Dr. Gary Sweeten. As a Christian and a Psychologist he has tremendous insight into helping pastors build strong Christian lives. In fact this is his life’s work as the director of Life Ways Ministries.

He made some comments in his blog this past year about the breakdown a minister can go through when no one is ministering to him.

I guess I am among those that consider the pastor of a church to have a gravy job. He goes to work on Sunday morning and speaks for 90 minutes. Perhaps there is some weekly service he is required to lead. He has to smile and make nice and hope the church board provides enough for you and your family to live on. Of course this is not actually the case.

According to Dr. Sweeten, there is a lot more that Protestant ministers have on their plate than these sweet aspects and it is driving many of them to find comfort in hidden vices and many others are calling it quits and leaving their profession. From a reading of the news the outlook in the Catholic community appears just as bleak.

In yesterday’s news we learned about the hidden life of Evangelist, Ted Haggard. Reverend Haggard serves as the head pastor at a 14,000 member charismatic church in Colorado called New Life Church. He was elected to be head of the National Evangelistic Association. A male prostitute in the Colorado area claims that Reverend Haggard has been paying him for homosexual acts over the past 3 years.

Yesterday Reverend Haggard denied that claim. As Dr. Sweeten said in the blog I referred to, “He doth protest too much.”

Today when taped phone messages became public Reverend Haggard amended his denial to say that all he did was pay the prostitute for an innocent massage. Oh yeah, this reverend and father of five admitted that he bought illegal methamphetamine to share with the gay masseuse. So much for his credibility. The good reverend has quit his gig with the National Evangelistic Association. He has stepped aside as head pastor while his churches governing board investigates.

When I was a very young guy I was involved with a Christian group that was lead by a very charming middle aged man. He was married and the father of three. He was a seemingly devoted Christian and worked as a city engineer. He lost his position as leader in a church due to what he said was a difference in interpretation of the Bible. That should have raised a red flag, but I was a young and naive kid at the time.

To make a long story short, the light shone on a secret life that he thought he could keep hidden. He was having sex with a lady that was staying in his home and he was physically abusing his wife and children. The man needed help, but based on what he perceived as his position as leader there was no one to help him to come to grips with his spiritual and psychological needs. This is that same position in which Reverend Haggard finds himself.

We have seen this sort of thing in the news before from other well known Christians. These events are probably repeated on a daily basis by “professional” Christians in bedroom communities throughout the USA.

The men (and women) that serve us in the capacity of minister need someone to help and share their burden and give them the encouragement. They need to be provided with the tools to cope to continue in their work In fact isn’t this something that we all need?

It would seem to me that people in positions of counselling emotional and spiritual advice would do well to have some sort of professional guidance on a regular basis. Most professionals in other fields have mandatory continuing education and peer review which keeps them not only on par with their contemporaries, but gives them a scorecard of how they compare. It is doubtful that most churches have these business standards set in place. I am of the opinion that pastors need to have someone to open up to and help them with resolving their inner conflicts. At the very least they would have an unbiased sounding board to provide them with reponse. And if it is found that their inner life has become totally polarized the response may be for them to find another line of work or at least take a sabbatical to evaluate their life. We see news articles like Reverend Haggard too often. This creates an embarrassment for his family, his church and the entire Christian community. If the cause of a man's problem could be diagnosed and dealt with before it comes down to bringing shame upon his family and all that associated with him we would be so much the better.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Story Of The Rich Man and The Story Of The Woman That Had Expensive Perfume

My Sister-in-Law Ann has been doing a Bible Study and posed an interesting question for me.

Her study involved a comparison between these two verses found in the Gospels.

The first is the rich man that asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

Matthew 19:16.
16. Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17. "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
18. "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "`Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,
19. honor your father and mother,' and `love your neighbor as yourself.' "
20. "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
21. Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26. Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27. Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
30. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

The same verse from Mark 10:17

17. As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
18. "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
19. You know the commandments: `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' "
20. "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
21. Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22. At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
24. The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
26. The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"
27. Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
28. Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!"
29. "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
30. will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
31. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

And here is the verse from John 18:18
18. A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19. "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
20. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' "
21. "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23. When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
24. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
25. Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
26. Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
27. Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
28. Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
29. "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30. will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."

The comparative verse concerns the woman that approached Jesus before his Crucifixion
with an alabaster jar of perfume and anointed Jesus.

Matthew 26:6
6. While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,
7. a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked.
9. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10. Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Mark 14:3
3. While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume?
5. It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
6. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
7. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
8. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.
9. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

John 12:1
1. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5. "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages. "
6. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7. "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.
8. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."

Simon the leper had invited Jesus (and all of His disciples) to dinner after being cured when Lazarus’s sister Mary pours a very expensive (likely costing her life’s savings) perfume normally reserved for kings on Christ’s feet and wipes them with her hair (only a prostitute normally untied her hair in public) – how much better it is to show love to someone before they die. Mary lovingly gave her best despite criticism and Christ honored her and defended her from evil attacks. We should similarly devote ourselves to the honor and mission of Christ. Martha’s question to Christ yesterday (Where were you when we needed you?) was the result of not really understanding His resurrection and life message until after He brought her brother back to life. Christ’s betrayer Judas, however, never understands and tries to sound spiritual by expressing concern for the poor that he surely did not feel (piety often cloaks hidden motives). John makes it fairly clear here that Judas was stealing from the disciples and may have been particularly interested in making as much as he could before Jesus died (remember that Jesus picked Judas fully knowing his character and demonic influence). While Jesus had given his disciples plenty of warning of the pending events, perhaps only Mary and Judas perceived that Christ’s death was imminent and therefore we have their two reactions to compare. Mary’s devotion angered Judas just as the success of Lazarus was angering the Sanhedrin.

It is of note that in John 12:10 it is stated that the high priests made plans to kill Lazarus when they killed Jesus.

As I read these two different stories it is apparent that the rich man wanted to buy his way into God’s Kingdom. His mindset was not ready for accepting Salvation for his god was wealth.

There is a story about the a Pearl of Great Prize that was the most awesome, beautiful jewel. An old man offered it to anyone that would give away all of their possessions to him. The catch was that if you accepted this Great Pearl, although the old man now owned all that you had including your wife and your children, he would loan them back to you. This is what the rich man did not understand. By giving up all that he owned he would be by far richer and receive a far better gift. He would be doing the Will of God.

As I read the story of the woman that anointed Jesus with perfume it is clear that she is doing God’s Will. The cost of the perfume is of no consequence to anyone save Judas. Jesus knew that He was to be executed by crucifixion and He knew that His Father would raise Him from the dead. It was the custom to anoint the dead. You will note that further along in the Gospels when the woman come to anoint the body of Jesus they find the tombstone is rolled aside and His body is gone. Like the rich man, Judas was interested only in what was in it for him. Judas saw through the eyes of the world. Yet he was there. He knew Jesus. He spoke with Jesus. He learned from Jesus and yet Judas never understood.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Questions And Answers

Q: What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalms 117

Q: What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalms 119

Q; Which chapter is in the center of the Bible?
A: Psalms 118

Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118 Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118 Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q: What is the center verse in the Bible?
A: Psalms 118:8

Q: Does this verse say something significant about God's perfect will for our lives?

The next time someone says they would like to find God's perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of His Word!

Psalms 118:8
"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." Now isn't that odd how this worked out (or was God in the center of it?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Indiana Nun Up For Sainthood

There are nuns and there are nuns. And then there's the Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin. She brought Catholic education to Indiana, endured an overbearing bishop and is believed responsible for at least two "miracles" after her death.

Talk about living life to the fullest, and then some. Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Mother Theodore, along with three others, Sunday in St. Peter's Square in Rome, making her America's eighth Catholic saint. Achieving sainthood is the highest tribute the Catholic Church can bestow.

More broadly, the recognition will affirm what many in Indiana's Catholic community have known for years: This woman lived an exceptional life.

"With almost no resources, Mother Theodore - through just extraordinary vision, wisdom and willpower - set out to make people's lives better," says Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Her course from obscurity to sainthood makes for a compelling tale - part The Sound of Music and part Dances With Wolves, with a dash of The Sixth Sense thrown in.

Born in France in 1798, she left for America in 1840, having survived smallpox, the murder of her father and the deaths of her brothers, including one who died after sleeping too close to the hearth, according to church officials and her letters and journals.

Traveling by steamboat, canal and eventually stagecoach, she arrived at Indiana's wooded and uninhabited western frontier with no money or English skills.

Undeterred, she started several Catholic schools around Indiana. She also founded a new congregation, the Sisters of Providence, and a girls' academy. The school, a few miles west of Terre Haute, Ind., has since become Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the USA's oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women.

Not everyone recognized her saintliness in her lifetime: The local bishop viewed her as insubordinate, according to her journal and letters. The Vatican later dismissed him.

Typical nun benevolence and intrepidness, some might say. Yet what was said to have happened decades after Mother Theodore's death in 1856 sets her apart.

In 1908, Sister Mary Theodosia Mug was ailing from a crippled arm and breast cancer when she prayed over Mother Theodore's crypt under the Sisters of Providence church. Just hours later, her symptoms subsided; she lived an additional 35 years and died a natural death.

Nearly a century later, in 2001, Sisters of Providence employee Phil McCord prayed in the congregation's church after it appeared he was headed for a cornea transplant. The non-Catholic says he offered a mention of Mother Theodore in the hopes that she would put a good word in to "the big guy" for him. Because of McCord's prayers or for some other reason, the swelling in his eye quickly lessened, as well as his need for a transplant.

In the end, he had some scar tissue around his eye removed and now has 20/20 vision. His physicians have been unable to explain the healing.

"I'm not a theologian. I don't understand all of the implications of what happened to me or how they determine it to be a miracle," McCord said this year. "I just leave it to those who are more learned in that area. All I know is that it's my story. I'm sticking to it."

In recent years, the Sisters of Providence, led by Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, have tried to get Mother Theodore's accomplishments recognized. Their work bore fruit in 1997, when the Vatican - after reviewing old documents, journals and other evidence -determined that Sister Mary Mug's experience was a miracle. The late Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Theodore in 1998, a step on the road to sainthood.

McCord's healing, meanwhile, was formally declared a miracle in April this year. (Among other things, it takes two authenticated "miracles" to become a saint.)
Word finally came in July: The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict would canonize Mother Theodore along with three others: Mexican bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia, Italian priest Filippo Smaldone and Rosa Venerini, an Italian nun.

Nearly 700 people from Indiana will fly to the ceremony, including two students from an Indianapolis-area high school that bears the new saint's name. They will serve as altar boys.

"She truly saw herself as carrying out the mission of Christ on Earth," Otolski says. "When you look at what she did, her work is still going strong today."

By Theodore Kim and Robert King - The Indianapolis Star

Uncle Walt Answers The Question...

by Walt Kelly