Links to my Books

Links to My Writings

Third Daughters at Smashwords
Meditations on Maintenance for the Kindle
Memoirs of a Super Criminal for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
One Year in the Mountains for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
Adventures of Erkulys & Uryon for the Kindle and Nook

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Matthew Chapter 3


Matthew Chapter 3
John stood outside the religious norm. He appears as a wild-man, a prophet, a revivalist even. His call to repent was for a transformed life, turned and changed. It is a lifestyle calling, not situational forgiveness. All the country was drawn to him, where they confessed sin and were baptized. His name was known. And he stood against the religion of the day. Fruit of repentance is more important than position or religion of birth. Purification is on its way and only the good fruit will survive, for the Holy Spirit and fire will not tolerate chaff regardless of its birthright.

Then Jesus comes, an unknown figure, but recognized by the known figure of John. John’s baptism is symbolic leading to a new life. Jesus is baptism of spirit, which is life. And the life in the spirit is fire that purifies or burns up depending upon what is aflame.

Righteousness must be fulfilled. There is a proper order to things. First the forerunner comes, then the one announced appears. This is ordained by God and the baptism is blessed by word and spirit. Fulfillment of righteousness can be a good and beautiful thing, but it can also lead to very agonizing experiences. The path of righteousness that the Messiah will take passes through both peace and pain, as we see in the next section. It is not all rose gardens, flowing water and blessings. There is also hunger, wilderness and temptations.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Matthew Chapter 2


Matthew Chapter 2

Magi come from the East following the signs in nature that something new has come. They come to find a king and yet the Jews do not know of him, nor the secular rulers. The distant Magi are more in tune with the divine workings through nature than the close by leaders with Scripture. Some times distance and a change of perspective will reveal what cannot be seen up close.

Scripture supports what nature had revealed and the Magi discerned: the time, place and person of the Christ. But the Magi by turning to the rulers of the land while searching for the Christ alert those rulers to the birth of the Christ. Immediately plots and actions are put into place to stop the Christ from coming. But God cannot be easily thwarted. Like the dream that warned Joseph of the proper action towards Mary, so the Magi receive a dream of the proper action towards Herod.

The Magi had to come but in so doing they alerted Herod to Jesus existence causing problems whereas Joseph and family had to flee until the problem was dealt with. In life we are often the source of problems, even unknowingly. We are also the receiver of problems. God did not need Joseph in Egypt; he just needed them away from Jerusalem. Sometimes we see solutions as an ending but it is just a moment in time until the next step of the journey is readied for us. Herod could have responded in many ways but his choice sent Joseph and family on a certain course of action. Joseph could have become bitter towards Herod, or even God for those events. And perhaps he did, but he stayed faithful. Later they were able to return to the Promised Land. The events of today may change tomorrow and the outcome may be different then we expect. But staying with God, in God, will bring about the best possible outcome even if the moment seems lost. Despair is looking at the past leading to the present, not the present leading to the future. Hope is looking towards the future standing in the present. Magi came in hope of finding the King. Joseph hopeful of the future obeyed God and fled to Egypt even thought it was an uncertain move.

Dreams and nature play important roles in this chapter. Nature brings the Magi to Jesus. Dreams help to determine the safest course of actions. How often do we turn to nature to find the way or listen to dreams to discern the correct course of actions? But also throughout this chapter Scripture appears. Scripture confirms what is known through nature or dreams. The three work together to discern, affirm and confirm the way to God.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Matthew Chapter One


Matthew Chapter One

This Gospel includes a genealogy. Obviously the lineage of Jesus as an identifier of Jesus’ authority had become important. Speculation on the need to define Jesus’ identity could run rampant and many questions could be asked but not fully answered. I think it is safe to leave it at there was a need in the community to define Jesus’ identity and this genealogy fulfills that need. It is a marker to Jesus as the Christ through both kingship (Son of David) and spiritual heritage (Son of Abraham). Jesus fulfills the role of earthly king and spiritual priest according to his genealogy. It is a distinctly Jewish lineage naming all the important Jewish figures, which make the inclusion of four Gentile women all the more prominent.

The birth of Jesus, through Mary, is told through Joseph. A Jewish tale. Joseph would do the right thing, which was to divorce her quietly. The compassionate thing would be to take her in and raise the child. And after a visit by an angel that also becomes the right thing to do. Interesting how the compassionate thing and the right thing merge after a divine intervention.

Through God, and Joseph’s obedience, Jesus is brought into the world. He has a divine purpose of which Scripture has spoken. Every section in the first few chapters of Matthew is supported with quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. Joseph (and Mary) take it in stride. Certainly that says much about their characters.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gospel According to Matthew, first words


Matthew, first words
Mathew is quite a bit different from the Gospel of Mark. Where Mark is a concise version, a bare-bones outline of the life of Jesus, Matthew is much more detailed. This Gospel spends much more time with the teachings of Jesus. If Matthew was written later, possibly that first generation of believers was beginning to pass on and the first hand accounts of Jesus teachings was being lost. The community would desire a written account to preserve the life and teachings of Jesus for future generations. Certainly large parts of Mark were used as a guideline in the general structure but much new material is provided.

It is possible to see how the community of Christians had developed in their thoughts and faith by looking at the material in Matthew as compared to Mark. In Matthew we have more about the teachings of Jesus, with the Sermon on the Mount being a large part of that. In Mark we have statements such as “And Jesus taught them in the hill country...” which leaves us wondering, what did Jesus teach them? And now we can look to Matthew for those answers.

Another question is raised. As the first generation passed and those eyewitness accounts were lost, other generations naturally would ask, “why should we believe the teachings of Jesus? Who is Jesus?” Without being able to experience the miracles of Jesus or hear him speak first hand it is natural to ask those questions. Matthew begins to answer those questions as well. Jesus identity and heritage is addressed in real terms. This Gospel is a fuller story explaining more about Jesus. Matthew says here is Jesus; this is what he taught and why you should believe him. The need to preserve the credentials of Jesus as Christ became just as important as the need to preserve the teachings of Jesus. The written testimony comes to replace the spoken testimony of the first generation eyewitnesses to Christ.

The organizational structure of Matthew has some interesting points. One should perhaps not read too much into it, but it is thought provoking. If one does a comparison of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and first seven chapters of Matthew certain points become clear.

 


Torah

  1. Genesis
  2. Chosen family (Abraham)
  3. Joseph to Egypt (dreams)
  4. Death of all 1st born
  5. Parting the Red Sea & Jordan River
  6. Forty Years in the wilderness
  7. Receiving the Law

Matthew

  1. Genealogy
  2. Magi to the Holy Family
  3. Joseph to Egypt (dreams)
  4. Herod kills all children
  5. Jesus through the water (baptism)
  6. Forty Days in the wilderness
  7. Sermon on the Mount


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Age of Erosion


Age of Erosion


Mountain breezes
Whisper ancient names
Into my ear
Of eras long gone by.
Kingdoms past away
Like shifting sand
Once proud mountains
Warn by wind
And rainy ice.
Kingdoms crumbled
In breezes
Under mountain heights
Forgotten names of
Forgotten realms,
High mountain pass
Leading into the Wind
Bringing ice to
Devour the mountain.
End in shambles
 And brambles
Ocean sand, slipped away.


From One Year in the Mountains
Copyright 2010 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mark: Tentative conclusions


Mark: Summary and Tentative Conclusions
I call this a tentative conclusions because with the Gospel and the Spirit there are always new insights, perspectives and leadings. One can never say the definitive word about the life of Jesus or the message he preached.

This Gospel has a noticeable lack of higher Christology and profound theological implications about the identity of Jesus that takes a major hold of the other Gospels. It seems a simple story, on of conflict but also of peace.

Jesus came preaching a message: repent, the kingdom of God is near. I take this to mean turn away from the direction you are walking which was trespassing on others and walk with Jesus towards the Kingdom of God. Although the Kingdom of God is not defined, the manner of walking is. The “walk” means to serve other in word and action. Jesus main teaching and life example was one of service: healing, exorcism, parables and teachings. It all spoke of how God desires us to serve others. This teaching was in conflict with the religion of the day and the power structure within that religion. The Jewish Law dictated all aspects of life leaving little room for compassion or even service to others. And the religious leaders controlled how the Law was interpreted and instituted in daily life. They controlled the people through their religion. The people were stuck between a rock and a hard place. Religion squeezed them on one side and the Romans on the other side. They cried out for a Messiah who would set the religion right and run the Romans out of town. This Messiah would establish peace where the people would be free from oppression. But the Messiah who came did not come to overthrow but rather to preach peace. True peace can only come from the heart, a heart set free through transformation.

The people turned to Jesus in faith. His message and his actions demonstrated God’s compassion on the people and a possible reform of the religion. But held as a king, he might also mean the end of Roman control. Many flocked to Jesus in expectation. But this Gospel account does not address those expectations in any terms of fulfillment. Jesus’ message is on of humble servant-hood. Even his disciples, the closest of his followers, do not fully understand that message. A truly free heart is one that is bent on service towards others through compassion.

Power structures cannot stand those who do not play by the rules. Jesus should have turned his crowds and followers into a rebel army, that would have made sense to the leaders, both religious and secular. But he did not. And that confounded them. Jesus’ teaching took the wind out of their sails and was incomprehensible to the power structure. But it rang with truth to the crowds. Religion will not save you; it will only oppress you. The state will not save you; it will only oppress you. Salvation, that is freedom to live, can only come through service to others. If everyone lived by this code, this way of life, there would be no need for religion or for secular government. And that would strip them of all their power. In light of this, the religious leaders knew that Jesus had to die. So they framed him and forced the secular government to murder Jesus, an innocent man, to maintain their power. But Jesus knew the outcome of his teachings. Death was not to be feared.

Although the Gospel ends with Jesus’ death and a surprise ending, an empty tomb, the story continues in Galilee where Jesus had instructed the Disciples to meet him. What happens next? This Gospel does not say. We are left wondering with questions. The implication is if we all follow the teachings of Jesus then we might all go to the cross for fear of the power structure losing its power. But that would be the Kingdom of God. A message still very relevant today because it is still much needed today.