Monday, November 26, 2007

25 November 2007

Isaiah 6:1-8:
In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory." And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

This week lesson manages to sum up some very important tenets of Christianity, and well needs examination. To begin with, the lesson gives us a specific time in history, the year King Uzziah died, roughly 736-732 B.C. Isaiah, probably during a worship service sees the Lord. He is high, and lifted up and his train fills the temple. My Bible gives, hem, and the indication is that the Lord’s deeds and presence fill the temple and creation. The Seraphim were flying about, with two wings to cover their faces, because they were not worthy to look upon the Lord, two to cover their feet, because they were not worthy to stand in the Lord’s presence (and I know others interpret this differently, but this is my reading of it) and two wings to fly. They call one to another, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts and the whole earth is full of his glory. The complete Jewish Bible renders this, “More holy than the holiest holiness,” while the scriptures gives us, “Set apart, set apart, set apart is YHWH of hosts.” The angels are crying, and Isaiah is given to understand that YHWH is wholly other, he is not man, nor anything that we could understand aside from his revelation to us. He is completely set apart from us, yet Isaiah sees him in his holiness.

Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me, for I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips.” Isaiah has come to a realization. His worship, expressed primarily through his lips is totally inadequate for a holy God. Even worse, he lives among a people who are of unclean lips, that is a people who do not truly worship the Lord, that is they worship with their lips, but not with their lives (to take off from the General Thanksgiving of Anglican use). A Holy God requires worship that is Holy from people who are Holy. In other words Isaiah realizes that for his sin he (and the people) are completely unworthy to worship a Holy God, and can do nothing about it. God sends a Seraph to Isaiah, who takes a hot coal off of the altar of incense, and he touches it to Isaiah’s lips. In other words, only God can cleanse us of our sin, and that cleansing might not always be pleasant (a hot coal pressed against my lips sounds like no fun at all).

After Isaiah has been purified from his sin, the Lord asks, “Whom should I send, who will go for us,” and Isaiah answers the call, “here am I, send me.” When God cleanses us from our sins, it is to a purpose. We are sent as a result of our call. Remember when Peter’s mother-in-law is healed. She gets up and serves them. When Paul has his Damascus Road experience, he goes to preach the Gospel. Today we have a bunch of namby pamby Christians who do nothing. Every one of us has a call on his or her life. That call might be to preach the Gospel (of course we are all called to share the good news in one way or another.) It might be we are to change society, as Wilbur Wilberforce made it his life’s work to stop slavery and reform the manners of the British Empire. It might be just to say something nice to someone, or being a good influence.

So confess that sin to God, allow him to cleanse you from your sin and get to work.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Sunday, September 23, 2007

King David's Sons

King David’s Sons

II Samuel 13:1-19:43

The Tanach teaches us in many things. First, it is the history of Salvation and our need for a saviour. In addition, it lays out the spiritual rules by which we must live. It also specifically defines sin for us, and shows us how we must live.

The tragedy of David and his children is one that parents everywhere must take into account, so that we do not repeat the errors of King David. David, was to say the least, overindulgent of his children. When Amnom rapes his sister Tamar, David as king is obliged to enforce the law, but chooses not to do so. As a consequence, Absalom, takes justice into his own hands and does his brother in. David again does nothing, and Absalom conspires to take over the kingdom.

When Absalom is defeated, David nearly loses the kingdom again over his grief for Absalom. David in other words elevated his children to an undeserved height. Jesus tells us that we must love God above parents and children, but all too frequently, we like David, out children above God. When David allows Amnom to get away with raping his sister, David loses the respect of his family. David as father and David as King is obliged to enforce the rules. He does not because he loves his son, turning lose events which will eventually destroy the Kingdom.

The Bible tells us we are to honour our parents, and wives are to respect their husbands. The two are linked together. If the oldest child is allowed to disrespect the father, then it will follow through unless the cycle is broken. Unfortunately many women love their children more than their husbands, and if they see a conflict between their children and their husband, the child will win out, to the heartbreak of the husband, who then must live in an untenable position. (but even if the wife does not respect him or does not encourage the children to respect him, he is still bound by his marriage vows. The Christian partner is held to the higher standard, and his suffering will make him a stronger person). This is why it is so important to make sure that when you marry, that your spouse is a Christian as well (this is one of the commandments for Christians in the New Testament), and it really helps that the Christian maturity levels are similar. Sometimes people can be fooled. That is why year long engagements are a good idea.

So how to avoid familial conflicts: Before even getting married, the couple should make sure they are on the same page as to expectations of the children’s behaviour, whether any children are there or not. Depending on the culture, maturity etc., the wife may think that the children are not subject to the husband (especially if she has children from a prior marriage.) If this is your wife to be’s thought, go find someone else. Children living in a house are subject to their parents until they leave the house (note I did not say until they are eighteen or twenty –one.) If the child is over seventeen and feels that he or she does not fall under parental authority, then they should leave the house. A mother’s (or father’s) insistence that the child should stay only brings problems into the household, and the other children will be affected.

Another obstacle to watch for is the parent who desires peace at any price. Maybe this was David’s problem. He did not want to confront Amnon or Absalom, and he thought it was best to let the dead dog lie. True peace is not not yelling, or not having problems. True peace comes from subjecting our thoughts and actions to Christ. If problems are ignored in order to prevent a disagreeable discussion, then there is no real peace. It is a lie. Do we remember Neville Chamberlaine? He told the world that there would be peace in our time! How wrong he was. World War II was just around the corner. The same thing happens in families when we as Chamberlaine and Atlee seek peace at any price. Is your child on drugs? Your spouse looking at pornography on the Internet? Other unresolved problems? They must be brought out into the light of Christ’s truth, dealt with and resolved.

It is especially important to resolve problems in marriage. Marriage is the icon of Christ’s relationship with the church. The man must love his wife, being ready even to die for her and her salvation. The woman must respect her husband, and teach the children as well. The Bible words it like this for a reason, because God understands the difference between men and women much better than we do. If a wife does not give her husband respect or teaches the children not to respect their father (usually subconsciously) it tears the man down. Men have this need to be respected by their wives and children. If a man does not love his wife, it tears her down, for a woman needs to know that she is loved in a way that is not necessary for a man. Children who do not see the love/respect relationship in their parents have a more difficult time relating to Jesus Christ. Children who do see that relationship acted out have a much easier time relating to God (and their future spouses I might add).

Another thing to note, and the New Testament hints at this, when we live according to God’s rules, we do receive blessings. Where the man truly loves his wife, and where the wife truly honours the husband, the children are much more likely to grow up well adjusted. Where this love and honour are missing, children are much more likely to go wrong.

If these relationships are well established, then it easy for parents to get together on raising their children. This is of extreme importance as the children are the future of the church. Many children today, especially in the USA and Latin America lack the basic skills necessary to become good Christians. There reasons f or this, is boys are not learning to love their future wives. IF anything they are deciding not to marry or have children because in having children, they will not be able to buy the things they want and think they need. Girls are being taught in many ways, that men are not worth respecting. All think of marriage as an easily revocable contract instead of a life time commitment. Discipline is a four letter word, and those parents who attempt to teach self discipline are undermined by the great majority who do not teach it. If it feels good do it, seems to be the ideal for today.

So read the Tanach carefully. It is just as important as the New Testament in what we can learn about living, maybe more so, in what it shows through negative examples, especially in the lives of David, Abraham, Joseph and others. The keys to the kingdom are found here.

Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach,

+Mar Michael Abportus.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yom Kippur 2007

Yom Kippur is upon us. It begins this coming Friday night at sunset. While Jesus very deliberately related his Crucifixion to the Passover, other signs can link his death to the feast of Atonement.

To begin, the feast of the atonement takes place shortly after the Jewish New Year, the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hoshanah. Good Jews reflect on their lives and seek to improve them, during the time in between. Yom Kippur is the only celebration in the Torah upon which it is commanded to fast, in sorrow for our sins. Along with the normal offerings, there are two goats. One has the sins of the people confessed over him, and he is sent out to the desert to the demons. (We might recall that Jesus too faced the devil in the desert and defeated him) The second is sacrificed for the sins of the people, but first the priest must sacrifice for his own sin. It is dramatic. The hem of the High Priests robes have little golden bells. A rope is attached to his leg. If the bells stop ringing, God has struck him dead, and he is pulled out with the rope.

The priest is aware of this, and aware that two of Aaron's sons were struck dead for offering incense to God in an unauthorised manner. A day of great solemnity. Incense is offered over the altar, which is then sprinkled with blood. The High Priest, leaves, washes and changes his clothes, confesses the sins over the second goat and sends it to the desert.

It is the day of Atonement, when God forgives Israel their sins. Now St. Paul tells us, that with the one, full and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, there is no further need for sacrifices. Jesus has paid the full price. But the Gospels speak in a more eloquent way. As Jesus dies, the curtain separating the holy of ho lies from the holy place rips in half. This shows the end of the sacrificial system (after all the Holy of Holies was empty, had been since the time of Jeremiah), but more importantly, it shows that we no longer need an intermediary to enter into the presence of the living God. The blood of Jesus has paid the price once and for all. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt even claims that the Ark of the covenant was in a cave under where Jesus was crucified and that the blood of Jesus fell on the Ark as the blood of the lamb did in days of old. If this is true it shows how wonderfully God planns things.

But we are reminded, not one of us, no not one deserves to enter into the presence of God. Before a just Lord we all merit the death sentence, and there is nothing we can do on our own to merit life. It takes the blood of Jesus, and nothing but the blood of Jesus, as the old song says. So as we approach the day of atonement, let us remember the final day of atonemement, when the true lamb of God shed his blood for you and me, that we could enter into the presense of the Father. And let us cry Father, but let us too aknowledge him as LORD.

+Mar Michael Abportus

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rosh Hashanah 2007

Happy New Year to all. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the Feast of Trumpets begin this coming Friday evening with the sound of the Shofar (a ram’s horn). According to the Jewish way of reckoning, the original new year was the day that God made man (and woman) 5767 years ago. It is a day for rejoicing, but it is also a day for thought and reflection.

First, let us remember, on this day, God made man in his image. To be made in the image of God means in part, we are co-creators with him. We are at our most God like when we are creating with him, whether a book, a concert, a nice dinner etc., especially when the creation is made in his honour To be made in the image of God also means we are capable of reason, that we are not slaves of instinct as animals are. Also to be made in the image of God means that we are capable of having a relationship with us, which is what he created us for.

The problem was that Adam and Havah threw all of this away. Adam was a Lord, or steward over the earth and sea, but threw this away when he ate the fruit. Creation, which had been his servant and responsibility became his enemy. No longer did he just work the Garden, but was to eat by the sweat of his brow. He also lost his relationship with God and his wife. The Torah tells how the result of sin spread over all the earth.

But lest we blame all our problems on Adam and Havah, let us remember that the story of Adam (man) is the story of all men. We want to become like God’s and make our own decisions. We forget that to break spiritual laws, have just as much result as breaking physical laws. Just as jumping off a ten story building will result in a fall and death, so do breaking the moral code of the Bible result in a fall and death, sometimes physical, but most certainly spiritual. The rapid spread AIDS in certain countries is related to homosexuality. In Africa it is related to marital infidelity. In New York, a large portion of the epidemic was related to drug use. We could spend days on this topic, but suffice it to say, when we truly learn to obey God in moral matters (and of course we cannot obey relying on our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in this, and give us strength as well), then we will come much closer to living as God intended Adam and Havah to live.

So let us reflect this Saturday on how well we follow Adam and Havah. Do we want to be like “gods” as Satan tempted them, or do we wish to walk with our Lord day by day. What can we do to join him in creation? How can we follow Him so others see him in us, and come to know the Lord?

Please reflect in these Holy Days, (the 10 days after Rosh Hashanah) and join with me in the fast of Yom Kippur.

Some customs to know: The trumpet (shofar) is blown on Rosh Hashanah. Round bread is eaten to symbolize the cycle of the year. Bread and apples are eaten with honey that we may have a sweet year. Pockets are emptied out to show we are making a new start. One of my favourites, we drop bread crumbs in the water (symbolizing God carrying our sins away) while saying God will separate us as far from our sins and the east is separated from the west.
A poem for your reflection:

What Does the Shofar Say?

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
Letting the wolf in the door, to destroy, corrupt and more.
He’s in the music, promoting drugs,
He’s on TV promoting sex and rebellion,
He’s in the school teaching one to be a hellion.
Parents, do you love your children,
Then teach them, teach them.
At their rising, at their sitting,
Going out, coming in, at their eating,
Jesus Christ is Lord, He died for you, and many more,
And expects to be your Lord.

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
False shepherds abound misleading the sheep,
Saying science, psychology is King.
If it feels good do it, if it hurts no-one, ‘tis not a sin, or so they sing.
Jesus is not Lord, he’s just one way, of which there are many more.
Stand up O sheep, flee from such shepherds, For at that last day, they shall flee, or
Be astounded, upon finding resurrection is true,
But alas they are blue,
For never having known Jesus, they have condemned themselves,
And those who followed them to a future so bleak,
That to think upon makes me weak

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Ti ra! Ti ra! Arise, charge, ‘tis time to fight the good fight,
‘tis time to show the adversary our might.
Put on the Gospel Armour, refrain from retreating,
It is time to gain souls, it is time to gain kings,
It is time to show the world our Lord and King.
We have been asleep, allowing Satin his will
And we have had to pay the bill.
The time is over, Satin take cover,
For the church is called to be on the move.
Blow the shofar, blow the trumpet, Good Christians, ATTACK!
You are the mighty hosts of the Lord, armed with his Spirit and Word,
The battle is yours, the war is the Lord’s.

Shalom b'Yeshuah haMoshich

Mar Michael Abportus

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have no particular verse to talk about this week, but events have conspired to make me consider a very important element of Torah and how it relates to Christians. First, I want to note that according to Exodus 12:38, that (37) “The Israelites left…and with them came many people of all classes as well as many sheep and cattle.” We see then that the Hebrews (Habiru) included not only the descendents of Jacob, but many other peoples as well who were incorporated into the twelve tribes of Israel. God had to take these people then and form once nation, so that they would be united. We need to mention as well that many of these people were slaves, just as many as us were slaves to sin. The story of how God used the Exodus to transform divers peoples into a nation, and slaves into freemen is also paradigm or maybe better a type of how God works with us.

First, God does not throw us into a situation without preparing us for it. In Exodus, we are told that the people of Israel do not take a certain route because they are not ready to fight. They wonder the desert for quite a while before it is necessary for them to fight. At the same time God puts them through various trials, relating to food and water, and safety. Trials are to build character and to teach the people to trust in God. Help does not come from the people. It always comes from God, from the plagues, to the dividing of the Red Sea to the Manna, to the water, God responds to the people’s needs in miraculous ways, so that they will learn to depend on him and him alone. Yeshua reminds us, we are not to worry about food or clothing, just as the Hebrews were to depend on God, so are we to depend on him. This of course does not relieve us from work, for even the Hebrews had to gather the manna, to gather the water, and for that matter take the first step into the Red Sea (wasn’t that a brave person to trust that the waters would not close back over him.) We also know that during all the time in the desert, their clothes did not wear out, and neither did their shoes.

God too, puts us in situations. They may look tough, but in the long run, they are for our benefit, building character and teaching us to trust in God. When I left for Honduras as a missionary, I did not follow the usual pattern. In the Episcopal Church, at the time, you usually became a missionary through SAMS or VFM. I for various reasons decided to become an independent missionary. The custom of SAMS and VFM was to arrange for the missionary to go on deputation for how ever many years it would take to raise money to live in Honduras for three years. I made a number of fund raising trips to the US, but never stayed long enough to raise money. One reason I did not do this, was it would have involved too much time, and I did not want to leave my churches without a pastor for that time. In fact, that is ultimately why I returned to the US, because I did not want to have to go fundraising without my family. Anyway, for the fourteen years that I lived in Honduras, I always had the money I needed, food and transportation. I was never rich, and some might have considered me poor, but I had what I needed. My first year or so, I lived in a house belonging to the church. One gentleman was sending me $80.00 per month. Doesn’t sound like much, and I don’t suppose many Americans would have liked to live on that huge amount, but I was happy with it. That covered gas, food, clothes etc. I taught school, visited ships, helped start a mission, and worked with street kids. After a year or so, I got a letter from my one pledge, that due to financial situations in the oil patch that he could no longer sustain me, and the next day another gentleman, unknown to the first sends me a letter that he will begin sending me $80.00 a month. Isn’t God good?

My entire life in Honduras was like that. I was never rich, but when I was truly in need, the money was there, or the tyres, or the motor part. There was even a gentleman keeping me supplied with Dr. Peppers and Tex Mex food on the Miskito Coast. It continues to be that way. I am not rich by any means, but I have what I need. I have only been in the US eight years. Upon returning I discovered that my credit rating had vanished. Today some eight years later, I find myself the owner of a house several cars, and a fat cat. My bank account is virtually nill, which worries my wife. I am self employed, with a very small income, and no immediate prospects, my wife and kids are worried about perceived needs, but I know one thing, God will provide and in his time.

In addition to teaching us that God will provide, he wants us to become one people. For the Hebrews He did this by giving them rules of Kosher, to keep them separated from the nations. Even thought Kosher does not apply to Christians, the same principles apply. We are not to be contaminated by the word (James). Unlike the Jews, we are to be in the world, but we are not to be contaminated by it. Unfortunately, the church in the west is more contaminated by the world day by day. It no longer preaches holiness in any form. Abstinence even for Lent is a dirty word. The moral laws are forgotten, or assumed not to be for us. Note that churches which do teach these things are growing. I see that Orthodox more united than many other Christians, because they still maintain the traditional fasts and feasts, which are done together so as to reinforce each other. Roman Catholics used to do the same for Lent, finishing off all meat in the house the Tuesday before Lent. Meat wasn’t even sold. But even this solidarity in fasting has vanished in the Last fifty years.

It is definitely time for Christians to put aside their differences and work together. Each week I work together with Christians of several denominations to visit ships. We do not do the Divine Liturgy together, but we work and pray together to be Christ to the men who come to the Port of Houston. There is no reason why churches cannot get together to witness in other areas. We might even find that some of our differences are unimportant.
What is your situation this week? Is God putting you through a situation to prepare you to serve him in some way? Are you part of a church which truly teaches the Bible? Does your church work with others to build the Kingdom? If not, look to God. Walk by faith, not by site, not by feelings, but learn God’s word and allow his Spirit to guide you.

+Mar Michael Abportus
Bishop of La Porte, TX

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sexual Purity

The Torah portion for this week, Levitiucus Chapter 20 spent a great deal of time talking about sexual purity. It also speaks of prohibiting certain actions which we do not usually apply to our selves today, such as passing our children through the fire to Moloch. Many people think that the Bible and the church are far to worried about sex. Those are usually the people who aren't interested in applying Biblical standards to our own lives.

I note in passing as well, the lesson from Acts today mentions, "Relating to Goyim who are believers, we have written our decision, they may not eat meat sacrificed to idols, nor blood, nor the meat of animals which have been strangled, and they must avoid sexual immorality. (enphasis mine).

Our lesson today from Leviticusl gives a pretty good definition of sexual immorality. It defines who and what we may not have sex with. Men may not have sex with men, sex with animals is prohibited as well as sex with one's close relatives (uncle, aunt, neice nephew, brother, sister, etc). All of these relationships carry with them the death penalty. In addition, the Israelites are told that they must obey these precepts that the land not vomit them out, as it did the Cannanites. It is very important that we note, God does not give the Israelites the land for any great goodness on their part, but because of the evilness of the Caannanites. this is something that many people are uncomfortable with, but we need to get used to it. God is merciful, but he MUST judge sin as well. The people of Israel were evicted for their sin several times.

Does God still punish sin? The Bible itself tells us that, "God is the same, yesterday, today and forever," therefore he must still judge sin. Will God still dispossess nations? I see nothing in the Bible which would lead me to believe that he wouldn't. It is time for the USA, Great Brittain, western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and many other nations to heed the wake up call. Our societies are being destroyed by sexual immorality. A homosexual is now more valuabe than a heterosexual, because someone who commits a crime against a homosexual will receive a greater punishment. Three percent of the population (and I'm being generous I think) define a great deal of what is going on in politics, both secular and religious. We are still passing our children through the fires to Molech, we just do it in a different way. Most child abuse in the USA and Honduras is committed by a boyfriend who is not the father of the children involved. These children are sacrificed by their mothers and fathers to the god of free sex without committment. I just read last week about a four or five year old in Honduras. Mother's boyfriend is regularly raping him, but she does nothing. What kind of world is it that we live in. It is a world in which we, like Adam and Hava have decided not to accepts God's boundaries, but to make our own. It is a world in which society is slowly poinsoning itself by ignoring God's laws.

That same article about abuse in Honduras mentions, that Honduran girls no longer are ashamed of having children out of wedlock (well that was true 20 years ago too). What is the result then, of sacrificing our children to Moloch, and by ignoring the Bible's sexual standards?

To begin, in Honduras, a large number of children run away from home to escape abuse by mom's live in partner. This abuse is sexual, physical, emotional. Often the man refuses to feed or take care of kids which are not his. These kids end up on the street, sniffing glue (keeps you from feeling hungry) and living through prostitution and stealing. A fairly large number of younger boys have AIDS (as Honduras is a popular spot for sexual tourism, despite its high AIDS/HIV rate). Other kids end up on the street, because mom has no one to help her, and end up with many of the same probems as those who ran away. The average girl has her first child at age fourteen, causing the cycle to continue. Honest people are afraid to walk the city streets in some places or wear jewelry because of gangs. People with tatoos, and street kids are liable to be killed by police or other people.

In the US, it is well known, that children of unwed mothers tend to be unwed mothers themselves, tent not to finish high school, are more likely to be physically, sexually, and verbally abused, and are more liable to abuse drugs and alcohol.

It is time for us as Christians to start making a difference. Wilbur Wilberforce made a difference in the slave trade. Christians made a difference in India. It is time for us to once again be leaven to society and transform society, instead of letting society transform us. It is a battle that we must win, or the earth will indeed vomit up out.

Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach,

Mar Michael Abportus,

Monday, August 6, 2007

6 August 2007: Work and leisure

In Genesis 2:15 we are told that YHWH placed man in Gan Eden to cultivate and care for the Garden. In other words, man is created to work, even before the fall. It is only after the fall that work becomes something disagreeable. It is very important that we understand the nature of mankind. Mankind is created to work, and not only to work, but to work according to God’s purposes, which is why it is so important for us to seek the Lord’s help when preparing for a vocation, whether it be secular or religious.

In our popular culture today, work has become a four letter word so to speak, which is very said. Today, many people work to play. In my Father’s generation, most people worked to survive, or to take care of their family. Some lucky people actually work because the like it. I have a cousin, who plans on working as a dentist until the day he drops dead, because he loves his work. I myself intend to keep proclaiming the Gospel in one way or another until I day, and even my funeral sermon is an exposition of the Gospel. If I become unable to preach the Gospel, then I hope to slow down and train others to do so. Do you enjoy your job? I can honestly say, I have never had a job that I didn’t like. I’ve had some that were no so fun, and I have had some with disagreeable people, but in general I like to work, and in times past was usually able to combine work with sharing the Gospel.

The next generation coming up seems to have a different viewpoint. How many I have heard say, they will not marry because they do not want to work hard and share the benefits of that work. Many of that generation work to party, which seems to be a changing of God’s purpose, not that leisure is bad. In fact YHWH worked leisure into the Bible. YHWH rested on the 7th day of creation. The 4th commandment commands us to have a day of rest, which in fact seems to be one of the most frequent injunctions in the Torah. In fact God even programmed about three weeks of vacation a year for everyone in Israel.

The question is how do we view work, or vocation. If we are just surviving, and our work is drudgery, then we need to look at our lives. Bro. Lawrence in his book, Practicing the Presence of God, tells us that in our work we should do everything as if we were doing it for Jesus, not only in our attitude, but also in our quality of work. Imagine if everyone in the world would practice this. Brother Lawrence himself practiced this. He found himself washing dishes (not his favourite job) and he learned to wash each plate as if Jesus was going to use it himself.

Whatever your work is, wouldn’t your attitude change if you worked as if you were doing the job for Jesus. Wouldn’t you have more joy and enthusiasm. And when people ask why you are smiling and joyful at work, you can tell them why and witness for Jesus. IN other words, your work will become less a means to an end, but an end in itself, and end that will give you true joy.

But this means that we need to reevaluate our leisure time as well. First, leisure time should not be an end in itself. Leisure time and partying have become the end, in other words an idol for many people, which is a big shift. My day off in Honduras, was truly a day of rest. After visiting 3-4 churches by horseback or canoe, a day of rest was in order. What did I do? I read books, both the Bible and Christian related books, but secular books as well. Was my leisure time my end? No it was a means to an end so I would be refreshed to do my work in the week to come. Many people spend so much effort on their leisure, that they need a mini-vacation to recover so they can return to work rested. Isn’t that defeating the purpose of leisure. We have turned Holydays (holidays) into activity days, instead of learning to relax in the Lord. In other words, leisure has become an idol to our society. Leisure becomes a problem for older people, forced into retirement at 65 or 67 years of age, some of whom live another 20 years. I have noted, those people who retire and have no hobby are often gone in 5 years or less. Those who give themselves work, will last and have happy lives. My grandmother sewed (wedding dresses, pillow covers, etc) until close to her dying day. All of her grandchildren had pajamas made by her (of course with the buttons on the wrong side), but we still loved them. After all, how many kids in the 60’s or 70’ had custom made pj’s. In passing, my grandmother died at the age of 92. She lead a productive and happy life.

So let us look at our attitudes. Learn to serve Jesus in your work. In you leisure time, actually do something restful and refreshing. If you are retired, find some work. That work could even include visiting shut ins and praying for the sick and missionaries. Don’t make leisure an end in itself, and don’t let your job cause you misery by being your idol either.

Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach

Mar Michael Abportus

Friday, August 3, 2007

2 August 2007: Marvin Zindler

My apologies for not being regular in these postings. I will endeavour to be more regular from now on.

Yesterday an Houston icon was buried. His funeral was at congregation Beth Israel and took several hours and was broadcast on channel 13 in Houston with no commercials. A truly interesting part of this funeral were the religious speakers, who were his Rabbi, David Lyon, Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell (Windsor Village UMC), Pastor Bill Lawson (Wheeler Ave. Baptist), Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church) and Bishop Joe Fiorenza (Archbishop Emeritus, Houston-Galveston Roman Catholic Archdiocese).

Pastor Caldwell and Pastor Lawson in particular did a fantastic job of remembering Marvin Zindler. What they did was preach a Christian sermon in a Jewish synagogue without mentioning Jesus Christ, using only Old Testament references. I need to mention in passing that Marvin Zindler was for 35 years a consumer affairs reporter, who did a lot of good for a lot of people over the years. In addition to consumer affairs, he took medical brigades all across the world and solved people’s problems with government and other agencies. His father owned a big clothing store and Marvin was known for dressing to the nines.

Rabbi Lyons began his comments with a verse from Micah, “Do justice, love goodness and walk humbly before your God.” Pastor Caldwell continued by stating that Marvin Zindler reminded him of God Almighty. Now some of us might take issue with that remark, but as Christians we should consider it carefully. Pastor Caldwell tells us that Marvin was like God in that he was concerned with helping the downtrodden, and in seeking justice. Marvin Zindler was behind the law in Texas making it illegal to run odometers back. He was also behind the law making sneeze guards mandatory over open food in buffet and salad bars in Texas. In other words, he cared about justice, and he cared about other people’s health. Marvin was always looking to help those in need and had a crew of Marvin’s Angels who contributed time to helping those in need.

Now in the Christian east, we have a term, theosis. Theosis is the process in which we become more like God. Now I ask each of you. Are you becoming more like God? That is the reason why we study his word, receive the sacraments and pray, so that we may become more like God, more like Jesus. Are we willing to sacrifice for others? Are we willing to serve others as Jesus served? Will anyone say of you, after you pass on, that you reminded them of God? A friend of mine, Bishop Barry Ferguson who has a growing ministry, told me, we just feed the hungry. Well, isn’t that what Jesus did? He fed the hungry, healed the sick, proclaimed the kingdom. Shouldn’t we be doing that as well.

Theosis should be a goal for each of us as Christians. We should seek those commandments from the old and New Testament which apply to Christians and apply them to our lives. We do need to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our strength and all our mind. We need to love our neighbours as ourselves, and to love justice, love goodness and walk humbly with our God, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, visiting the downtrodden, telling people that God cares and died for them that they be free.
Now how far should that go. Interestingly, Pastor Caldwell also mentioned Marvins fastidiousness relating to his clothing. Now this is something that we do not often think about, but do we dress as God’s representatives? And here I am not talking so much about dressing provocatively, or sleazily, but do we dress in a way that indicates that we represent God Almighty, that we are children of the King? Do we behave as children of the King? Now you do not have to be rich to look good. Clean and neat count for a lot.

So let us put on Jesus Christ. Let us imitate him, as the Bible commands us. Let us be holy as he is holy, and let us learn to be Jesus to those around us.

For those interested in seeing the funeral and hearing the different pastors for themselves, please go to:
and follow the links.

Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach,

Mar Michael Abportus