Monday, December 28, 2009

28 Deceber 2009

Jeremiah 22:1-30

As we see in much of the prophets and other areas of the Tanach, God emphasises the need to do justice. He tells us: “Practice justice in this place, let rectitude be found here. Free the oppressed from exploitation, don’t humiliate nor mistreat the alien in the land, nor orphans, nor widows. Don’t kill the innocent. If in truth you do all I commanded, then there will always be kings to occupy the throne of David.

But they didn’t. Justice is emphasized over and over again, do justice. Fair weights, fair measures. Do not pervert justice in favour of the rich nor the poor. Treat people as they deserve. And if not the destruction of God will come upon the people of Israel and Jerusalem.

Why do we think we are so special? I hear people saying over and over again, “God does not judge, he will not punish us because ‘God is Love.’” How is it that we think that God will treat us better than his own chosen people who have been exiled three times. God is really serious about justice. Look once again. Do justice, Practice uprightness. Free the oppressed. Do not humiliate the foreigner, nor widow nor orphan. Do not kill the innocent, yet we do all these things. Do we truly practice justice? I fear not. Are we upright? Why we cannot even obey the speed limit nor the stop signs. Are foreigners mistreated? Yes they are. (And of course some is their own fault, for when we ignore the nation’s laws, we open ourselves up to mistreatment.) Don’t mistreat orphans nor widows, yet divorced men do not pay child support, childless couples spend $80,000.00 to have a kid, when they could adopt sixteen for the same amount. Innocent are gaoled or killed instead of taking time to get it right. People are kicked out of their homes by banks which were loaned big bucks to keep them solvent.

Should we be surprised when the judgment comes? The problems with the economy, 9/11 are all signs of worse things to come.

But the worst injustices are: Christians are not living Christian lives. We do not follow the Biblical precepts relating to marriage and sex and divorce any better than the world. We are becoming worldly with prosperity gospel. Tithe and God will make your rich. The Bible promises blessings, not money, it promises peace, not without hardships. Our lives are a disgrace in the sight of God.

The other great injustice practiced by Christians, is we do not share the faith. No volunteers tonight to go caroling. We just want to sit ant home or work. We are glad to proclaim our favourtite football, basketball, hockey, cricket or soccer team, but when it comes time to tell others what Christ has done for us, we are silent. Maybe they don’t really know God. Maybe he hasn’t changed their lives. I praise God, he has delivered me from alcoholism, tobacco, and pornography and worse. If not for him I would be dead, not only in sin, but in body. God transforms us, and we need to tell the world.

Go tell it on the mountain. Jesus Christ is born, to save sinners and transform them into saints.

Monday, November 30, 2009

29 November 2009

Deuteronomy 30: 10-20

As we enter the season of Advent, we reflect on the lessons. The 3rd lesson from Ecclesiastes, reminds us that there is a set time for everything. For us now in the western church, it is the time of Advent. Advent comes from a Latin word which means to come. Advent has the double sense of preparing for the coming of Christ, his first coming when he was born into the world as a little child to save the world, and for his second coming, when he will come to judge the world.

The question is, are we ready. Deuteronomy tells us that if we listen to the law and obey it, then we shall live and multiply. While of course in its initial sense, this reading is for the Jews getting ready to enter the promised land, it is also for Christians. God has set before us the way of life and of death. Jesus, who is the Law has come down for us, so we do not need to seek in heaven for him, nor anywhere else. He is as close as our heart, if we truly seek him, and he has given us his word, and his word can be obeyed.

Do we love Jesus then? Love is what gives us the power to obey. Love gave me the power to give up tobacco because I loved the kids in the church enough to know I didn't want to be a bad example. Love for family allows us to sacrifice for them, and to live according to the spirit. Love for Jesus allows us to obey his laws. Are his laws tough? Without love they are. If we are having trouble following God's word, we need to ask ourselves, "Have I really accepted Jesus?" What does this mean? In the new Testament, we are told, "if you believe in your heart and confess with your lips you shall be saved." In Mark, we are told, if you believe and are baptised, you will be saved." We are also told , "Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Are these mutually exclusive? NO they describe a process. We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with our hearts. We must call upon his name, and we must confess our belief before witnesses, the church, and we must be baptised. All of these ingredients are necessary. Baptism shows we are obedient to him and is a sign we have passed into new life, and is a sacrament by which we are joined to the church. Does this mean if you accept Jesus, and die before you have a chance to be baptised, that you will be condemned? Clearly not, but I would wonder about your salvation if you put off being baptised.

Salvation is not about fire insurance. Many say they have accepted Christ as Saviour, but their lives do not show it. When we are saved, (made whole), we are truly made whole, maybe not all at once, but Jesus will be moving in our hearts and minds so that he will be our Lord indeed. Often we fall away, sometimes because there was no true faith to begin with, and sometimes because we never achieved the discipline we need to be true disciples.

Ask yourself, "Do I truly love Jesus move than anything? Do I love him more than _______________(wife, kids, money, tennis, football, soccer, whatever)? Where do I spend my time? How do I spend my money? Do I need to make a change? Am I ready for Jesus to come back?

What would you do different, if you knew that Jesus would return tomorrow? That is the point of Advent. To figure out what we would do different if he was coming back tomorrow and to do it. I myself have cut back my time with the TV and increased time with the Bible. Our love relationship with Jesus is only strengthened by studying his work, and through prayer.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Monday, November 16, 2009

Third Sunday of Kingdomtide: 15 November 2009

Genesis 19:1-38

This week’s Tanakh gives a powerful message of the love and mercy of God. As you may recall, God states that there is a great outcry against Sodom and Gomorra. He has also told Abram that he will not destroy the city if he finds ten righteous men in the city.

The angels proceed into the city, where Lot finds them. It is important that we look at Lot. When we last saw Lot, he had decided to live in the area around Sodom and Gomorra and indeed had been captured when these cities were attacked. This weeks reading, we find Lot living in the city, with his daughters promised to men of the city. Such is the power of evil. When we choose to stay close to it, it slowly drags us in.

Lot, though, is still imbued with the values of Abram. Hospitality is very important to him, and he insists that the angels stay with him. The angels, after some resistance agree. The men of the city come to Lot, insisting that he turn the men over to them for the purposes of sex. Lot refuses, and showing the importance of hospitality offers his daughters instead. The men refuse this offer, and try to take Lot, but the angels strike them blind.

Now a quick aside. Sadly the heresiarch, John Spong and others tell us that the main sin of Sodom and Gomorra was the lack of hospitality, and that homosexuality was not the problem. They tell us that the only reason that the Bible condemns homosexuals is because the Jewish culture was anti-homosexual. We should point out that it was God’s commandment which shaped the Jews, not some prior bias. God is Lord of all, and he could have chosen any homosexual culture he wanted to be the ancestors of Messiah. There were plenty to choose from in Canaan.

Back to the story. Remember, that God told Abram there was a great cry against these people. God, when we refuse to obey him, lets us stew in our own juices so to speak. We are told in the New Testament, that homosexuality is the result of idolatry. We also know they left off hospitality. There were probably many other sins against Sodom and Gomorra, and when a people or person refuses to turn to God, then God allows that sin to reign over those people. This is exactly what happened to Sodom and Gomorra, and in time is what happened to the Canaanites. These are the only two societies so completely condemned in the Torah. Societies so evil, that they had to be destroyed lest they contaminate other peoples, and as we recall, the Canaanites were not completely destroyed and led the people of Israel astray!

The Angels warn Lot of what is to happen, and tell him to gather his family. He goes to his sons-in-Laws, and they think he is joking. Evil has no comprehension of judgment. Wicked men turn things into a joke and reap the consequences. Giving up on his sons-in- laws, Lot returns to the house, and appears befuddled. This is the only place in the Bible in which I can recall that God forces someone to be saved. The angels take Lot and his wife and daughters by the hands and lead them out of the city, and command them to run for the mountains, so as to be safe. Lot again pleads with the angels, the mountain is too far, could he not go to Segot, and God in his mercy permits it. But our story is not done. The angels command him and his family to run, and not turn back, but Lot’s wife cannot resist. She looks back and is transformed into a column of salt. God requires obedience. He covers us with the blood of Jesus for our salvation, but Jesus must be our Lord as well as our saviour, or all bets are off. Lot and the daughters are safe, but his wife is gone. They arrive safely at the village, but Lot seemingly has learned his lesson. He realizes how evil these people are and leaves for a mountain. His daughters in a fit of desperation ply him with wine to get him drunk so they can have children, showing their desperation (it was the sons who took care of the mothers) and their contaminating. In the congregation, it was asked yesterday, why Lot didn’t go back to Abram. I had never thought about it. I suppose that maybe Lot was ashamed to go back. It is certain that Abram would have taken him back in and probably found husbands for the daughters.

We have then the story of Sodom and Gomorra. God judged them and found them wanting. He remembered Abram and his promises, and for Abram’s sake rescued Lot from the destruction to come. He virtually forces Lot to leave the city, for the sake of Abram. What a gracious God. He wants each of us to be saved as well. Are we willing? If you are ready to accept Jesus, send me an email and we will talk, or give me a call.

Mar Michael Abportus, O.S.L.

Monday, September 28, 2009

27 September: 17 Gracetide

Isaiah 57:14-58:14

I am actually writing this on Monday, sadly to say, but our Tanach of the week is interesting and is taken from one of the lessons appointed for Yom Kippur.

First of all, God expresses his love. He wants the road cleared of obstacles, he promises his people he will not give up on them. If they can repent of their greed, then God will heal them. He also gives a promise, that needs to be taken into account: "I have promised that none who are evil will live in peace."

God instructs Isaiah to shout: Tell the people they have sinned. They worship and claim to seek justice, but God does not answer them. Why does God treat them this way when they are fasting (This lesson takes place in the context of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement). Because their minds are not truly on God. The people are being greedy and selfish, thinking only of themselves and taking advantage of their workers.

Is fasting and and dressing in sackcloth what God truly wants? No, to worship God in truth is to free the prisoners, to share food with those who are hungry, to share your home with the homeless, to clothe those in need and not turn away our relatives!! (note: he doesn't say it is to have soup kitchens, build orphanages and shelters, but to take care of it ourselves). So often, we let the institutional church do the work of the body of Christ. Shame on us! When WE do these things, then our light will shine for all to see, and God's glory will defend us. Jesus didn't say build orphanages and shelters, but for us to go out, just as the church did in its first centuries, when it grew by leaps and bounds because people served the Lord by serving the poor, weak and helpless.

Do we serve the poor today? No in fact we are becoming greedy as the Israelites in the time of Isaiah. I note today that a certain rather radical union is rather proud because its members get $7.20 per hour, but at least they have insurance! Seven twenty an hour? Seven twenty an hour? That is fine for a college or high school student, but for a man to work all day at $7.20 per hour. How can he do this? He cannot. He either has to get food stamps to survive, medicaid for his kids, etc. Is it really the job of the United States government to subsidize employers who make their employees work hard and underpay them? Shame on us. What about all the illegals who are hired because they will work without insurance (and end up in the emergency room). Are we called to subsidize these industries as well? Are we called to subsidise doctors too, whose offices are filled with young women (and men) who are paid a pittance to work hard all day? What about fifty plus million children aborted since Roe vs. Wade? Shame, shame upon this nation. A man needs to be paid a fair wage so as to support his family without being subsidised by the government. Greed greed everywhere. We want it cheap without thinking of those who work for that money. God will condemn this nation if there is no repentance. God will also condemn and punish this nation for abortion. Seventy per cent of the population according to some studies oppose abortion, but the courts and certain people claim it a right to murder innocent children for the sins of their parents, or even worse, for convenience. Will this nation repent in time?

If we let our light shine by taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry, treating people fairly, then God will bless us and help us to truly celebrate that he has forgiven our sins when we truly repent of them. We will fast, and study God's word, but it will be a time of rejoicing for truly knowing God.

What will you do this day?

Chag sameach!

Mar Michael Abportus

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Heroes: 22/9/2009

This week we go back to IV Maccabees 1:1 of which most of the rest of this book demonstrates. The NETS version of the Septuagint states that pious reason is able to overcome the passions, and the rest of the book describes this. I sorry I don't have many other versions handy, but another version says religious reason. To me this means that a mind which has been trained in the Bible is able to conquer the passions.

Some examples. A gentleman whom I used to council was sexually abused by older boys when he was about five, and apparently this made him attracted to boys, as he would dream of naked boys. When actually given the opportunity to do something about it in junior high school, he was able to resist, because he had read in the King James Version, that any man who sleeps with another man as with a woman is an abomination. That gave him the power to resist temptation for years, because his mind was fed by the whole word of God. In the early to mid seventies, sadly enough he came in contact with some articles written by Bishop Spong and others declaring the Bible to be wrong on such things and fell into a homosexual lifestyle, of which through counseling and the power of the Holy Spirit, he has been delivered. Forgiveness of those boys who abused him broke the power of pornography over him. (Lord have mercy on those who led him astray.)

Another example from my own life. I was very much a slave of tobacco in the form of Skoal. Swore to myself that when it hit a dollar a can, I would quit. Well the dollar came and went and I was still on it. At the same time I was one of the cosponsors of the EYC in Conroe. One of the kids wanted to try some, and I had to turn him down, because I was his brother in Christ, and could not start him on such an addicting habit. My mind was formed by the Bible, which lead me to understand, that I was responsible for my brother, and this gave me the power to take that Skoal to the altar of the church, leave it there, and pray to God to deliver me from the desire. I have had no desire now in about twenty-five years.

Now I am not exalting our will, not detracting the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the same scripture to guide us and set us on the straight path. What is important is our belief. The first example had power to resist, as long as he believed God's word was true. When that building stone was torn down, it no longer had the power to help him, until he was able to believe again.

When we look at heroes, or the saints of the church, then we see interesting things. Unlike the TV programmes, we don't see super powers (except in the case of Sampson) or many supernatural things going on, except when angels are seen. What makes a Biblical hero a hero, that is a saint? It is his commitment to serve God, guided by knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. Some of the greatest heroes, such as King David, and St. Peter also messed up a lot, but they were willing to confess their faults, and allow God to move in their lives to transform them into instruments to do God's will here on earth.

We too, need to concentrate on learning God's word. Here at Benim Avraham, the entire New Testament is read every four years. The Old Testament in about six years. We hear the whole word of God, and live by it. The Holy Spirit uses that word to guide us as we work for the kingdom.

If you wish to be a hero of the church, you need to read the whole word of God, and apply it to your life.

Shalom b Yeshuah haMoshiach

Mar Michael Abportus

Sunday, September 13, 2009

13 September: 15 Gracetide

Jeremiah 12:1-24

This weeks lesson begins with Jeremiah crying to God, "Why do things go well for the sinners?" a question which many of us have from time to time, especially in these days when we look at Bernie Maydoff or at Allen Sanford and ask why they did so well. Truth is, in the long run they did not do so well and were finally caught. And what does not get caught by man, will be caught by God.

Truth is what God throws at us in life is exactly what we need to develop our characters. When we rise again at the time of the resurrection, God wants us to be perfect and he sends the appropriate training material our way, whether we are saint or sinner, and he fully desires that all come to him. Both Maydoff and Stanford were or will be given the opportunity to come to know Jesus, and their experiences will have helped to pave the way for them to know and serve him, if they accept him as Lord.

God in the same way prepares us for this life here on earth. As I was growing up, it was amazing the various ways I was prepared for my life as a missionary. Canoeing, and compass skills in Boy Scouts were absolutely necessary to life as a missionary on the Miskito Coast, as was the fact that I had studied languages with case endings, giving me a tremendous advantage in learing Miskito, one that English and Spanish speakers do not have. Mechanical skills and many other things that I had learned at an earlier time all were excellent in helping me to be prepared to be a missionary. AS God prepared me for that time in my life, he prepares each of us who love him, and who will love him for the resurrection.

God does give him an answer, which may sound strange. "How will you run against horses if you cannot run against men?" which is God's way of saying here, we are not involved in a fight against men, but in a fight against spiritual forces that are much stronger than us. We can only battle these spiritual forces when we are filled with God's Holy Spirit.

God also makes a promise. Those nations who surround Israel, will be restored if they come to know God. This problem has been partially completed at this time, and will be completed fully at some time in the future. But now we can look at the countries surrounding Israel. The Coptic Christians who speak the language of the Pharaohs are 10% of the population. The Maronite Christians were around 40% of the population of Lebanon. There are still Assyrian and Persian Christians who are the descendants of those countries which persecuted Israel. They are still with us, and while they are moving out of their native lands they show no signs of disappearing.

God kept his promises to them. He too will keep his promises to us, and will use life to make us the best people he can, if we will only let him.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL
Bishop of La Porte,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gen 8:1-9:17

Today very briefly we will discuss the lesson. We are told that God remembered Noah. This is a Jewish expression. It doesn't mean that God forgot that Noah was floating on the flood waters. It means it was time to do something, so the waters begin receding. Noah sends out a raven, which does not come back, presumably feeding on carrion. He sends out a dove twice. The second time the dove comes back with an olive branch, which shows that plant life is returning to the earth.

God makes a promise, and to confirm it send the rainbow, so that he and we will remember his promise. That promise is that as long as the earth exists, God will never wipe out everything with a flood. We need to take care of what is promised. God does not promise that floods will cease. H merely declares that the entire earth will not be destroyed by flood as long as it exists. At some point, (I think maybe within the lifetime of my children), the earth and heavens will be completely destroyed and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. All mankind will face the Lord Jesus, those who accepted him to eternal bliss and those who did not to eternal judgment. So we need to get ready.

Any time I see a rainbow, I think of the promises of God. God tells Noah and his sons to multiply, but the world is forever changed. Now in addition to fruits nuts and vegetables, man is now permitted to eat meat, although, not with the blood in it, for blood is the life.(we might note that this injunction is one of the very few dietary restrictions placed on Christians as well) This is a huge change, but mankind is still to have dominion over the earth we are still to command the animals. Another rule is given to all man kind. Man is not to be killed because we are made in the image of God. The tanach places real value on man's life. We have a special relationship with God as co creators.

May God bless,

Mar Michael Abportus

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


III Maccabees 2: 1-20

Technically speaking, this book is not part of the Tanach because the Jews do not recognise this book of the Bible, which is recognised by the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox. For those of of you who are not familiar with I and II Maccabees, the four books relate to the event relating to the history of the Jewish people just after the time of Alexander the Great, when Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to force the Jewish people to adopt the pagan Greek religion. Judas Maccabees and his sons lead the rebellion.

Anyway, leading up to this chapter, Ptolemy wants to enter the Holy of Holies, and verse 1-20 are the high priest's prayer. Verses 1-13 describe what God has done for the people. Verses 14-15 relate to God's promises. Verses 16-20 are a confession of sin.

This prayer is very much a model prayer for us. When we begin our prayers, we should begin with what God has done for us, both the miracles in the Bible, our salvation, and the things he has done for us individually. We also need to remember what God has promised us. In addition, we need to be very consious of our sins, and to bear in mind that many of our problems are of our own making because of our sinful nature.

To see this wonderful prayer go to:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

Isaiah 53:4-12

The Lesson from Isaiah most clearly shows what Jesus has done for us, but let us remember first that Jesus's death and ressurection are based on and shaped by the Passover (which begins this Wednesday night). The ancient church, and most especially Jewish Christians were well aware of this. The Passover Lamb was sacrificed. His blood was spread on the lintels of the door, so that the Angel of Death, seeing the blood would pass over that house. The blood of the lamb gave life, and not one of his bones was broken. Later that day, the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea. There they passed from death unto to life, from slavery to freedom, just as per the Gospel of St. Mark, when we confess and are baptised, we pass from slavery (to sin) to freedom (from sin), and from eternal death, to eternal life.

Now the reading from Isaiah tells us somewhat in more detail: He took our infirmities and carried our sorrows, he was pierced for our iniquities and punished for our transgressions, yet his punishment brought us peace. After his suffering he will see the light of day. H will justify many because he bore our sins.

We often miss the point. The point of the suffering of Jesus was to restore us to right relationship with God, with each other and with nature. When we truly seek those right relationships and allow God to guide us, then we will be better candidates to be the kingdom of heaven. God does not want us just to be saved. He wants us to be transfomed, to truly be made whole. Healing is part of this mission. Look again at Isaiah. He took our infirmities. One translation of this portion of Isaiah translates, "By his stripes, we are healed." Now when God heals us he does not just heal the disease, he heals the person. God doesn't see our cancer or our blood pressure. He sees the spiritual, moral and physical problems that lead up to that cancer. Depending on where you most need wholeness, he might just let you keep that cancer to deal with another area in your life which needs wholness. This is what God wants, true healing and wholeness so we may truly join with him in fellowship. When our bodies are whole, we will be able to do more. When our minds are whole, we will be in right relationship with naure and others. When our spirit is whole, we will be in right relationship with God the Father and will be ready for heaven.

Come join us for Holy Week and Easter.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Saturday, March 28, 2009

29 March 2009: Five Sunday in Lent

All three of our Tanach lessons express some degree of hope. Our first lesson from Deuteronomy speaks of thanking the Lord, once the people have come into the promised land. The last lesson from Chronicles talks of restoration of the King, and the people tearing down the temple of Ba'al, but our second lesson from Isaia (Isaiah 56:1-57:13) talks of a different kind of hope. The Lord says, "keep judgement, do rightousness" and tells us some of the results. The foreingner and eunuchs will not be rejected. We might recall, that we have read that Eunuch's foreingners and others were not allowed to participate in the worship of Israel, but in today's lesson we learn of a change. To keep judgement, and to do righnteousness stems from a condition of the mind. If we carefully look at Jesus's miracles, many restored people in a broken relationship to worship. Curing the blind, cleansing leapers, etc. not only gave people wellness of body, but wholeness in relationships, especially the relationship with God.

Those who truly obey God from the heart in love and thanfulness will be restored to a true right realtionship with him. This is in contrast with those who worship idols and who have forgotten the covenent. Those who mock God, will be punished and be destroyed.

Le us be careful then not to mock God, but to obey him in spirit and truth. Do you love Yeshual? Then obey him. Do you really love Yeshua? Then be as intent on telling other people about him as you are to espouse the latest fad diet or proclaim your favourite TV show. Are you sure you love him? Then be as joyful in talking about him as you are about your favourite band or sports team. Let us love him in Spirit and truth and learn to gossip the Gospel.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

15 March 2009: 3rd Sunday in Lent

Deuteronomy 24:1-22

Today's lesson is an interestin combination, mostly showing the mercy of the Lord. The lesson starts straight out on marriage. If a man divorces his wife, she marries another, and they divorce, she is not to return to her first husband. It would be detestabel

The second lesson is probably something more applicable today. It basically defines a honeymoon as a year. I think there is great wisdom in this, and it would be wonderful if we could fully apply this to all newly weds, that within reason they should not be separated from each other durnig the first year of mariage so they can truly get to know each other.

Continuining and jumping around a bit, a principle is laid out that if we were to apply it today, life would be much easier for any. We are not to take someone's means of livelihood as a guarantee of a payment. The Israelites were agricultural, and the millstone was necesary to make bread, the staff of life. LIekwise we treat the person we are loaning to with respect. We do not enter his house to collect the surety, we allow him to bring it to us. Even more important, if that surety is something he needs to live, we are not to keep it. The example given is a cloak, with which the poor not only used as a coat in the cold, but as a blanket as well.

We go on, no kidnapping, and listen to what the doctors say about disease, so that it will not spread.

Do not keep back wages. In other words pay your employees on time. Also treat everyone fairly, not only our brothers, but the stranger in the land as well. Each person is to be punished for his own sins. The son is not held responsable for what his father has done, nor is the father held repsonsable for wht the son has done, in ohter words we are to be responsable for our own actions.

The last in practice is maybe the most difficult to apply. A person is only to harvest his field once. Anything he missed is to be left for the poor the widow and the orphan. In other words, we are to help the helpless, but do so in such a way that allows them their dignity. For example, when working with street kids in Honduras, I did not just give them food. I would send them on errands, or even have them help in the kitchen or get coconuts. to allow them to feel that they were earning there own keep.

The lesson today is truly a mixed hodgepodge, but the principles apply even today.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

1 March 2009: 1st Sunday in Lent

Deuteronomy 21:22-22:30

The Tanach for today has a set of laws some of which apply to us, and some of which apply in principle.

The first is a man hung on a tree is not to be there past sunset because he is cursed. We note in passing, Jesus was cut down from the cross before sunset.

The next is the law of return, and it applies to us even today. If we find our neighbours animal straying, or something belonging to our neighbour, we are to return it to them. This is not always easy to do, but something we strive to do if possible. God will bless us for it.

The next is pretty obvious, no tranvestites. Now some people have held this law to mean woman should not wear pants, but the vagaries of fashion are ever changing and vary from culture to culture. The purpose is not that a woman should not wear pants, nor that a man should not wear a kilt, but that a man should dress as a man and a woman as a woman. God wants no confusion about the sexes.

Maybe some of our game laws derive from the next one, but it is emminently practicle. If we take the eggs, we leave the mother so she can lay more eggs. If this law and the principel behind it were applied everywhere, (and here I am thinking of Central America where a favourite way to eat iguana is stuffed with its own eggs, and iguanas are harder and harder to find) food might not be such a great problem.

The next is common sense. If we build a house with a roof which you can walk up to, it needs a wall. In other words we build things safely.

Ox and donkey ploughing together, but combined with the next, we are not to mix differetn kinds. The same with two different kinds of seed. The tassles were on the outer clothing, and included one blue thread to remind us that we are set apart and are to be holy for the Lord.

The next adresses divorce. We note that while Moses permitted divorce, Jesus told them the permission was because of hard hardedness. The instant adressed here is if a man falsey accused his wife of adulter or not having been a virgin. If he has accused her falsely, he can never abandon her. IF the accuasation is true, then she is to be put to death. The Bible holds marriage and chastity in high regard, standards that we need to return to. Folowing we are again reminded, the punishment for adultery is death. This is followed by practicle matters. A woman taken in the city is guilty of adulter because she didn't call for help. In the country, she may have called but no one could hear so she is innocent. Lastly we are told that if a man has relations with a woman they are to be married, and can never be divorced. Lastly the first of several incest laws, a man is not to marry his father's wife, for that would dishonour his father.

Some of these rules are practical for today, and all have implications for us today. As mentioned above, God is very serious about marriage and sex. It is time for us to return to being serious about it to. One reason God is so concerned about this, is because marriage is an icon of the relationship between God and his people This is repeated over and over in the prophets, God is the faithful husband, Israel is the bride, and in the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, the church is the bride. God insists on fidelity in marriage because it demonstrates his faithfulness to his people, and he wants the people to be faithful to him.

I note in passing that the teenage pregnancy rate is growing, and of course it is well known the results that single motherhood had on children. Someone stated on an interview, that abstinance was not very practicle, and that by having a baby she was being forced to be an adult. I find it interesting, that when I was in high school, birth control was not readily available, but we had very few pregnancies. It is sad to day that most kids today do not want to take the repsonsability of waitning to have sex. This is sad in many ways, firstly becasue, the icon of marriage being a relationship of God and his people is rapidly disappearing. It is sasd becaue numerous studies indicate that two virgins have the highest success rate in marriage and the lowest divorce rate. It is sad because the greatest thing one can bring to their marraige parner is their virginity.

Now, sex is important. After all, God made us as sexual beings, but he also established rules for that sexuality. As we ignore those rules, we set the seeds of the destruction of our society.

Mar Michael Abportus

Sunday, February 22, 2009

22 February 2009

Today we remember when the Father appeared to Moshe and Eliyahu. These experiences are reflected when Moshe and Eliyahu appear to Yeshua when he is transfigured. God tells Kephas, Yakob and Yohanim to listen to Yeshua. When a parent tells the child to listen, he usually means to obey.

As we approach Lent, and Shrove Tuesday, we need to ask ourselves, "Are we obeying Christ?Do we give him time each week? Do we share our treasures, and talents with him? Are we actively inviting people to join the Kingdom? Am I studying the Bible? Are we healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and helping the widow and orphan?" In these last days before Lent, we need to ask ourselves these things. If there is a besetting sin in our lives, we need to go ahead and confess it to a priest and accept our penitence for the time of Lent. We should condider, what we need to do to improve our relationship with Christ. Prayer and fasting should be an important part of our Lenten discipline, fasting not only from foot, but from those things which keep us from advancing the kingdom, no matter what they are.

Join us Tuesday night to forgive one another. Join us Wednesday morning in accepting the ashes of repentance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

15 February 2009

II Chronicles 18:1-34

But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of Yahweh whom we can inquire of?"

As Jehoshaphat asks this question, he is surrounded by prophets telling him to attack. He realises in his heart that none of these prophets are really of the Lord. Whenever we commence a venture, our first question should be to inquire of the Lord. The first way we inquire of the Lord, is by searching out his word. Any project that we do should be in conformity with God's word. Secondly, we should search out good advice from Godly men and women, and inquire together of God's will. Jehoshaphat recognised that many of these men, despite being prophets were not truly Godly. God will speak with us, but only as we have learned to obey his word.
Richard Hooker, a prominent theologian of his day laid out some basic rules for us. The first was that we should seek God's word. God's word, where it makes a statement on an issue, is to be obeyed. The Bible is very clear on certain issues. We should obey where the Bible gives a clear word. Where the Bible does not apply direct rules, then we should follow the tradition given by the church in accordance with the dictates of the Bible. Where the Bible and tradition are silent, then we are to us our reason to follow God. Now this has often been referred to as Hooker's three legged stool but this is very much a misnomer. Three legged stool implies that Scripture, Tradition and Reason are equal, but this is not at all what Hooker said or implied. There is a very clear hierarchy, Scripture is most important, Reason is the least, and we only use reason where scripture and tradition are silent, and only in line with what the two suggest.

For example in modern times, some churches wish to put the three on equal footing, and use reason to trump the Bible. Some people will tell us that homosexual is a natural thing and some people are born homosexuals, so we should permit homoerotic behaviour and permit active homosexuals to be clergy. Instead we look at scripture which tells us that homosexuality is wrong period. We allow our reason where scripture is silent, but again in accordance with precepts laid down by the Bible.

But we find out something else about God's ways in this lesson. God's ways are not our ways, and no matter what we try to do we cannot outsmart him. God sent lying prophets to lure Ahab to his death. Ahab must of had some kind of premonition that this might be true, so he disguises himself. At first the enemy concentrates on the king of Judah thinking he is Ahab, but they realise their mistake. An archer though, drawing his bow in random strikes down Ahab. God's will will be fulfilled, no matter what we do. The only way to escape is to repent, which Ahab did not seem to be inclined to do.

Let us then learn to obey God in his word, and following the traditions of the church, and obeying him with heart and mind and strength. He will then give us the wisdom to follow him truly where the Bible and tradition are silent.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Saturday, February 7, 2009

8 February 2009: 5th Sunday of Epiphany

I Chronicles 17:1-19

We are told: 3 The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals 4 but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. 5 The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. 6 His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.

God is in the business of blessing. When we as a nation and culture, learn to truly follow God, the blessings will be with us. The lesson tells us, the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because...he walked in the wasy his father David had folled. The kingdom was full established under Jehoshafat, and later on we are told, that the fear of the Lord fell on the surrounding kingdoms, they didn't make war and the Phillistines and Arabs paid him tribute.

Not bad for a little kingdom the size of Israel. When a country, or nation or peopel obey God, the blessing will follow. In the USA we have been blessed for many years because of the faith of our forfathers, men and women who came to be able to worship freely. Even thosse who did not come for religious reasons, thanked God for his providence in the new land. These blessings may or may not carry on. Our land is turning against God. We have a new president who voted yes to a law stating that if an aborted baby was born alive, he or she should be left to die. We are getting ready to kill fetuses for stem cell research. Some preachers are afraid to proclaim the Biblical truth about homosexuality. More and more children are born out of wedlock, so that millions of children are robbed of the opportunity to see the icon of marriage as an image of the relationship between God and his people.

We must learn to care for the poor and helpless. We need to discared the vain grip that money has on our hearts. Spend our selves into debt, and into derpression,and the goverment thinks we can borrow our way out of it.

We truly do need a change. A change in borrowing habits, in spending habits, in who and what we put first in our lives. The government has not said, but we need to learn to save and live in our means, a radical change from life in the last 20 years where we lived on credit. It means that there will be changes, there will be suffering, but if we start lining up our money and enonomy for saving, the long term result will result in a more fiscally disciplined country, one that can survive.

If we as a nation want God's blessing, then we as a country need to bless God, through obedience, money, lifestyle, through marriage and a return the the Christian agenda. If we continue in the path we are follwongg, it is well probable that God will withold his blessing.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Septuagesima Sunday: 1 February 2009

My apologies, my head is stopped up and I need to rest. But briefly as we are approaching Lent, I would like to talk about it a bit.

Lent has three emphases:
Preparation for Baptism.
Restoration of sinners to communion.
Spirittual Purgation.

For those preparing for Baptism on Easter, I say fast and pray, you are getting ready to become saints.

I you are a notorious sinner, then on or before Shrove Tuesday (Shrove is past tense of shrive, which is old English for absolve) you need to go to the priest and confess your sins. He will then pronounce a penance for you to keep for Lent so as to be readmitted to communion at the Great Vigil Serice.

Spiritual purgation. Lent is not about giving up chocalates for God, but about making ourselves better servants. Fasting is usually a part of this. We ask our congregation to abstain from meat during Lent, and to skip at least one meal on every Friday of Lent, and to fast completely on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Some for medical reasons may not fast, no problem. Give up a favourite food. Put away the TV or radio for Lent. Spend more time praying, reading the Bible, telling others about Christ. If you skip a meal, read the Bible in its place. Take the money you save and help the poor.

If you are giving up some noxious habit for Lent such as smoking or gossipping, resolve not to give it up just for Lent, but for all time. If you have besetting sins, see the priest of anachamra for help.

For more help, (and Lent is rapidly approaching, we have a Lenten Discipline Worksheet. For me to email you one as an attachment in wordplese email me at: and place Lenten Discipline Workshee in the subject line.

Blessings to all,

+Mar Michael Abportus, OS>

Saturday, January 24, 2009

25 January 2009: 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

Deuteronomy 17:14-18:22

Our lesson from Deuteronomy today once again is rather practical, even to our day and age. It tells us how the king is to behave. He must not be a foreigner. He shouldn't have too many wives (as they might lead him astray as happened to Shlomo (Solomon), he shouldn't be worried about collecting silver and gold. He was to take a copy of the law (what we call the Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) and copy them down and to read it each day of his life.

Now admittedly, our Bible is a little bigger today, but the idea of our President, Governor etc. Reading his Bible each day appeals to me. It helps him to set boundaries and know the standards. That is something that is important to any leader of the nation. The Bible will also remind him if he reads it through, that God has ultimately placed the leader in that position. Writing doesn't hurt either.

In my life I began a regular round of reading the Bible at a relatively early age, in conjunction with activities for Confirmation in the Episcopal Church and with activities aimed at receiving the God and Country Award. Even though through lack of good teaching I fell away from church in my college years and participated in some rather stupid things, I continued the Bible reading every day. During my senior year at Rice, I was reading the first chapter of the Gospel and it hit me. All the stupidity I had fallen into fell away immediately, for Yehsua (Jesus) was God and he had come into the world for me. It was a momentous occasion and the beginning of my return to life in the church. (This by the way is why I do not worry about my youngest son. He is not there yet, but he does read the Bible every morning and night, so I am sure the Lord will get through to him, the rest of them I worry about).

The lesson goes on to tell us the prerogatives of priests, which are important because we learn to support the clergy, as again Paul tells us in the New Testament. Then we are given some more commands. We are not to sacrifice our children, offering them to Moloch. Unfortunately today, we sacrifice our children through abortion to that God convenience, and unforgiveness. We often sacrifice our children in other ways, not giving them the time they deserve to help form them into mentally and physically healthy human beings and Christians.

We are also told to stay away from witchcraft, casting spells, necromancy and fortunetellers. Of course strangely enough, at least in Houston, the horoscope is right next to the comics, just to get the kids interested (and the comics are in the religion section, just what message are we sending?) How many Christians I wonder read the horoscope each day? Stay away from it. It will lead you astray. It lead me astray when I was young and foolish, and I know several pastors who were led astray as well. The Bible is not kidding, this stuff is eternally deadly to your soul.

The lesson ends with a prediction of the coming of Messiah.

Now believe it or not, the little stuff counts. When we learn to obey in the little things, like not reading the horoscope, women wearing a head covering when praying, then we are strengthened for the bigger things. Let us repeat that, obedience in the lesser things helps us to develop our spiritual muscles so that we can be obedient in the larger things. How many marathoners got up in one step and ran the Marathon. NONE. We all start the same way, one step at a time when we are babies, and building up our muscles for bigger and better things.

So let us get into the Bible, studying it each day, and learning to obey in all things. Let us claim the blessing, which may not be health and wealth, but is the true peace which passes all understanding.

Friday, January 23, 2009

18 January 2008: 2nd Sunday After Epiphany

Deuteronomy 1:18-17:13

Coincidence or no, this lesson talks about justice and how it should be administered. There is repeated emphasis in Torah, Prophets, and the writings on justice. We are not to favour the rich because they are rich, nor the poor because they are poor. Both extremes have been found in society over time. By extension, we are not to favour someone because of skin colour. In other words true justice is justice with integrity. Martin Luther King (By the way, we do not celebrate his birthday in January, but the anniversary of his death), in one of his speeches, stated that he did not want his children judged by the colour of their skin, but by their character. It is a wonderful statement and one we should consider.

I am a product of Texas and of the south, and grew up with prejudice around me. Blacks and whites did not frequent the same restaurants. Whites sat in the front of the theatre, blacks in the back, and Mexicans in the balcony. How things have changed, in some ways for the good, and in some ways for the bad.

Remember what Martin Luther King said, we are to judge by character. Remember what the Bible says, justice, all should be treated the same. Even though there are still some people who are prejudiced, either consciously or subconsciously, it is time for affirmative action to cease. Everyone should be judged by their ability and their character. Yes there are differences in the way people live, but, if we look just at the children of unwed mothers, the differences between white, black, Hispanic, etc. virtually disappear. Unwed mothers children are more likely to be abused, not finish school, be on drugs, etc. Mothers regardless of race should not have children outside of wedlock, if they truly love their children. Unfortunately most of them love themselves more and do not consider the danger they put their own children in.

Let us be just, instead of assuming prejudice, let us look at the real systemic problems this society has. Some have predicted that the US, UK and some other countries will be no better than third world countries, if we do not deal with the problem of unwed mothers. There is no shame any more. Something that is gone, is the shame and stigma of having sex and children without the benefits of marriage. Our new President has commented on the biggest problem for black families is the absence of black fathers. Bill Cosby (unpopularly I might add) has been talking about this problem for years. But it is not just a black problem, although the numbers are higher among the black community. It is a Hispanic, white, etc. problem as well, a result of glorifying sex before commitment, glorifying pleasure before responsibility.

It is time for our society to develop morals once again, morals based on Biblical precepts, sex and marriage belong together, not apart. Marriage for two heterosexuals, only, not glorifying perversions. Men being responsible for their children. Media that promotes morality, not amorality, drugs and sex. We make the difference, when we turn the TV off, refuse to listen to things that are bad, refusing to rent some movies, and telling sponsors why we will not buy their product anymore, and yes, writing to your senator, representative, governor and President. It is also time for church to show the way again. Our daughters should be virgins before they marry. Our sons as well. For too long has society salted the church in the USA and Europe. It is time for the church to salt society.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Sunday, January 11, 2009

11 January 2009

Isaiah 42:1-9

In this day in which we celebrate the baptism of Yeshua, it is fitting that we read this lesson from the Tanach as well. When, the sinless Yeshua was baptised for our sin, he was taking on the mantel of his public ministry. This ministry is lined out in the reading from Isaiah.
See my servant.
I put my spirit upon him (when Yeshua was baptised)
He brings forth right ruling to the nations. (yet to come)
He does not cry out...Yeshua was humble and meek in his ministry.
He does not become week nor crushed (even on the cross, Yeshua voluntarily gives up his life.)
I Yahweh have called you in righeousness, for a light to the gentiles (Yeshua is a light to the nations, not just to Israel)
To open blind eyes (both literally and that they may see the truth)
To set prisoners free (again, both literally, and setting prisoners free from sin)

When we read this lesson, we need to consider. We often think of this lesson as defining the ministry of Yeshua, but in fact it defines the ministry of all Christians, the church, which is the body of Messiah.

When we were baptised and sealed, we received the fullnes of the Holy Spirit. This just isn't something fun God does for us. The Holy Spirit is power, and he leads us into all truth, including the ugly truth about ourselves, our depraved nature and our sin. Following the lead of the Holy Spirit, we congquer the old nature and put on Christ.

We are to bring right rulings to the nations. We should attend to Darfur, the women and children trapped in the sex trade, we should look out for the Israelis tortured by daily missile attacks and those innocenst who suffer as a result. Yeshua works through us.

Today we must open blind eyes, especially those who deny spiritual realiities, those who deny God, those who deny responsability. There are many blind eyes. Few adress the world's economic problems from spiritual viewpoints. Materialism, greed, living beyond our means are the cause of the problems. It is time to see, and live within our means, look at what we need and not what we want.

It is time for us to free prisoners as well, not just those who are falsely imprisoned, but those who are imprisoned by drugs, by alcohol, by sex, by pornography, by materialism, by enslavemnt to their computers, their video games, their cars.

It is our job, given to us, when we were baptised into Christ Jesus. We are his hands and feet, we are his mouth and ears and eyes. If we don't do it, who will?

So let's do it. Time for us to change the world in the name of Yeshya.

Shalom b'Yehsua haMoshiach

+Mar Michael Abportus

Saturday, January 3, 2009

3 January 2008

Please excuse me this week. Just too tired to get it done on time. Please pray for us.