28 June 2007

PCLOSBE

My favorite Linux distribution, PCLinuxOS, has been taking the linux desktop community by storm.  It has been in the #2 spot on Distrowatch for a while now.  But some of the community members don't want to stop there.  They want to bring the PCLOS experience to the small office or home office (SOHO).  That's right.  They want to take the 'radically simple' -ness of PCLOS and bring it to the workplace.  On June 27th, they were one step closer in making that a reality.  The PCLinuxOS Business Edition released their first candidate for Server Basic.

This is extremely exciting in that it gives small businesses an opportunity to implement new technologies in their growing business without spending a lot of money.  And we all know why that is, right?  Yep!  Server Basic is free!  Now people can bring more organization to their business.  The Server comes with a number of items that make setting up and maintaining a network environment a lot easier.  Some of these items are:

  • Network authentication (usernames, passwords, privileges, etc.)

  • Web server (host your own web page locally)

  • Groupware (email, calendar, etc.)

  • Print server (your printing needs are transfered from the individual users to the server)

  • File server (store critical data on the server that can be accessed from anywhere within the network, providing the user has the correct privileges)

  • SQL database (this could take the form of a POS system or used as a simple database of client information)


I am really excited about this new server OS.  I think it will be a great tool for the small business owner.

You can read more about PCLinuxOS Business Edition at their website.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

27 June 2007

This is the day YHWH has made.

I have been a little busy today so I apologize for the late post.  Working around the house (I'm a house husband a lot of the time), cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, sweeping the floors, making the beds, etc.  I'm also working through a call list for my business, Odyssey Computing.  And I'm converting my music on my PCLinuxOS laptop from AAC to OGG.

And I'm loving it!

'I will rejoice and be glad in it!'

Peace be with you.

+ OD

26 June 2007

Is it a baby or not?

I know that I will probably catch some flack for this post, but I gotta say it.

In the murder of Jessie Davis, the media is quick to point out that she was pregnant and would have delivered any time.  But the fact that they point this out begs the question, 'Is it a baby or not'?  It seems to me, at least, that this issue of 'life' and when is some 'thing' a person, is questionable by the mainstream media.  We all know that women can choose to terminate their pregnancy at almost any point they choose.  And this is not considered 'murder'.  However, in the Jessie Davis case, Bobby Cutts, Jr. is arrested for the murder of Jessie and 'her unborn baby'.  Does any of this makes sense?  How can we pick and choose when a baby is a baby?  Who gets to decide that?  We can't just pick when we want a baby to be a baby.  A pregnant woman has another human being inside her.  Period.  No matter what stage she is in.

I can hear the cries already, 'A woman should have the right to choose'.  Choose what?  The death of another person?  That's okay?  I had someone last week tell me that he has no problem with certain types of people as long as they don't harm anyone else.  But this same person supports abortion.  I'm sorry, it just doesn't make sense.  Life is life.  A human being is just as much a human being whether he or she is in the womb or out of the womb.

Cutts is rightfully accused for a double homicide.  I just don't understand why some people don't see abortion as 'medical murder'.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

Prayer for Today

O God of all the nations of the earth: Remember the multitudes who have been created in your image but have not known the redeeming work of our Savior Jesus Christ; and grant that, by the prayers and labors of your holy Church, they may be brought to know and worship you as you have been revealed in your Son; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

25 June 2007

Collect of the Day

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

21 June 2007

Prayer for Today

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

20 June 2007

Today's Scripture Reading

1Samuel 2.12-26.

Psalm 119.97-120.

Acts 2.1-21.

Luke 20.27-40.

Todays Old Testament (OT) reading had a verse that is used a lot in the Calvinist view of God's sovereignty.
1Samuel 2.23-25 (NRSV). [Eli] said to [his sons], ‘Why do you do such things?  For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people.  No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad.  If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord; but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?’  But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.

'...it was the will of the Lord to kill them'.  Is this right?  Is this how we are to understand God?  Or is this how the OT people understood God?  How does this line up with God's incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth?

Now, I'm all for understanding that 'good' and 'perfect things' come from God (James 1.17); but what about 'bad' things?  'Evil' things?  Are we to believe that these, too, come from God our Father?  Is this what Jesus taught?  I don't think so.  It seems to me that over and over again, Jesus regarded God as a Father and a 'good' Father takes 'good' care of his family. In Luke, Jesus said,
Luke 11.11-13.  “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?   Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion?  Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Now, I realize that the context is talking about prayer and that Jesus specifically mentions God giving 'the Holy Spirit to those who ask'.  But look at the contrast.  Jesus was contrasting the difference between how the 'sinful people' respond to their children with how God responds to God's children.

I think a more biblical understanding is that God's very good creation was marred by the Fall of Humanity (Genesis 2-3).  Things like sin, death, sickness, etc., are things used to continue to destroy God's good world.  Granted, God may use such things for God's own purposes (see the story of Joseph) but that is not God's 'best'.  I mean, in the closing chapters of the story, those things are done away with.  It seems that with the call of Abraham, God has been in the process of getting rid of everything that destroys the whole creation.  This was ultimately consummated in Jesus life, death, and resurrection.  Since that time forward, we have been moving one step closer to that reality of Revelation 21-22; of heaven and earth being united together.

So, again, is this really how God works?  Or is this a primitive, elementary understanding?

What is your take on this passage?

Peace be with you.

+ OD

19 June 2007

Pipes

As some of you have noticed, I smoke a pipe (there is at least one picture around here that shows that). I have been smoking a pipe for several years now. My Grandfather smoked a pipe. My good friend Jeff, who had been smoking a pipe for awhile, started me smoking a pipe. It's an interesting story.

When leaving one night, Jeff asked if he could through away some of his pipe paraphernalia. The sliding rear window in his pickup had broken and it had rained and got his pipe bag wet. He felt that some of the stuff had ruined because they had gotten soaked. After he left, I looked through the thrown out stash and found a pipe that wasn't too bad. It was a Dr Grabow bent pipe with a 9mm paper filter. I let it dry out and the next time he came over I took it out and asked him how to smoke it.  Later, I went to a local tobacconist and asked them if they had any pointers.  They handed me some 8.5"x11" sheets of paper on how to smoke a briar pipe and how to care for it.  I purchased an inexpensive Italian Second (which means, that it is an Italian made pipe, usually a 'name brand' but wasn't good enough for their primary collection) which I still have.  After smoking for a while and trying other cheap pipes and tobacco, I discovered what was to be my all time favorite brand of pipe -- Peterson.

Peterson pipes have been a round for roughly 140 years.  Initially started by the Nurnberg brothers, Friedrich and Heinrich Kapp, in Dublin, Ireland, 1865 under the name 'Kapp Brothers'.  Soon afterwards, Charles Peterson entered their shop and showed them a revolutionary pipe.  After showing them his pipe, Peterson suggested that they all become partners and make his dream pipe the world's dream pipe.  They agreed and the company was renamed Kapp & Peterson.peterson.jpg

In 1890, Peterson's 'System Pipe' was introduced.  This pipe contains a small chamber to capture the moisture one procures when smoking.  This added feature makes for a cool, dry smoke.

In 1898, Peterson introduced the 'Peterson Lip' (or 'P-lip') mouthpiece.  This change from the traditional 'fishtail' mouthpiece, draws the smoke to the roof of the mouth, helping to eliminate 'tongue bite'.

Today, I smoke (almost) exclusively Peterson Pipes.  I have three system pipes and a couple from some of the other lines (Aran and Emerald, if you must know).  I would love to add a Deluxe Quality System pipe to my collection.  I keep looking on e-Bay, but always miss the auction.

Until tomorrow,

Peace be with you.

+ OD

18 June 2007

Collect of the Day

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

14 June 2007

Struggling with sin

Colossians 3.12-17.  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.  And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

To me, this should be the passage that exemplifies people who profess to follow Jesus the King.  If we want to know what the will of God is for our lives (and who doesn't) this passage is a very good place to start.

If we were to live this way, there would be ample opportunity to tell people about Jesus.  Our lives would reflect, like angled mirrors, the love of God toward creation.  In us, they would see Jesus. We would be the Word of Jesus made flesh in the world (John 20.21-23).

But along with this is the issue of sin.  We are still people who deal with sin on a daily basis.  Perhaps 'sin' isn't the right term.  Maybe 'sins'.  There is a debate going on that there are different things.  And I don't really care.  It seems to me that one stems from the other.  I mean, you can't have 'sins' unless there is 'sin'.  So, to me, it's a moot point and I will be using the terms as I see fit depending on my comments and context.  So 'sin' is an issue that we have to deal with, wrestle with, constantly.  But are we really doing that?  Are we really dealing with the sins in our lives?  And these can be anything from gluttony to sloth to greed.  After referencing our ancestors whose faith was tested, the writer of Hebrews stated:
Hebrews 12.1-4.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

'You have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.'  Pretty powerful stuff.  On one of the blogs I frequent, Ted wrote, 'It is better to die in the struggle than to live in the sin'.  I think that is the point of this passage. Another translation puts it this way, 'In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood' (NRSV).  I know that I haven't ever 'resisted to the point of shedding [my] blood' or have 'given [my] life' in my struggle against sin.  And honestly, I don't know of anyone else, either.  And that is the rub.  Why don't we do this?  Do we believe that Jesus conquered sin (John 1.29; Hebrews 9.26; etc.)?  Do we really believe that we are no longer slaves to sin because, when we were baptized, we died to sin (Romans 6)?  Do we actually believe that?  I have a real hard time believing that because I struggle with sin all the time.  But not to the point of bloodshed.  Is my faith that small?  I sometimes think the answer would be to live like the monks in medieval times.  You know the one who would flog themselves.  They would actually beat and torture themselves bloody in their struggle with sin.  Am I just a lazy (so-called) Christian who is only giving lip service?  I fear that is the case.  A lot.

I think we should set up AA type programs in our struggles against sin.  Places where we can have complete trust and be transparent like in those meetings.  Where we lay it all out on the table and are not judged by it because everyone else there is a struggle person, too.  I know, in my case, that might help.

You see, this is the delimma of everyone who is a follow of Jesus.  We see the paradox.  On one hand, we have complete trust that Jesus died to 'take away the sin of the world' -- to defeat it completely and totally.  And his resurrection proved he was successful.  And when we were baptized 'in Christ', we also died to sin.  It is dead to us and we to it.  But on the other hand, we still fumble around with sin!  We are still liars, law breakers, cheats, thieves, adulterors, drunkards, etc.  How can this be?  And if we know that we are to put away those things and to live as one who is dead to those temptations, why don't we do it?

Let's read slowly what St Paul wrote about this in Romans.  And then meditate on it.  And then digest it.  And then, with God's help, let's live it!
Romans 6.   Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?  Of course not!  Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?  Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism.  And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.  We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again.  Death no longer has any power over him.  When he died, he died once to break the power of sin.  But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.  So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.  Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life.  So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.  Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?  Of course not!  Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?  You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  Thank God!  Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.  Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this.  Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin.  Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right.  And what was the result?  You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom.  But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God.  Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

God of the Universe, creator of all that is, seen or unseen; Give us your children the grace to make this passage a reality to us.  Help us to struggle against sin no matter what the cost.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Lord increase our faith.  Amen.


Peace be with you.

+ OD

13 June 2007

Lord's Supper, Eucharist, Communion, etc.

eucharist-still-life-painting.jpgThis is a really interesting issue.  And frankly, I don't care what you call it (but I prefer Eucharist).  What gets me is that it is the one issue that should unite us who follow Jesus and yet, sadly, it divides us.  And that is wrong.

The reason for the division, as you know, is the answer to the question 'What is it?'.  That is, is the Eucharist just a memorial, just symbolic, or is it that actual body and blood of Jesus?  Well, being an Episcopalian, it think it is a little of both and neither at the same time.  And my take on it (and we must remember, this debate has been going on for a long, long time) is just that, my small understanding.

My daughter Sumi had a friend come over and visit us Saturday night and she went to church with us on Sunday morning.  Her friend, being Catholic, asked me very specifically about how we viewed the Eucharist.  'What do you mean', I replied.  'Well, do you believe that it is the real body and blood of Jesus or just a symbol?'  I love loaded questions, don't you?  This is a good question but it's asked in the wrong way.  I appreciate the question, but it is worded in such a way as playing 'real' versus 'symbol'.  I said, 'It's both and it's neither'.  I told her that I don't believe that the bread and wine actually become the literal body and blood of Jesus, but I don't believe that it is just a symbol either.  To me, the bread and wine are literally bread and wine, but they have the presence of Jesus in them in a very real way.  'That makes a lot of sense', she replied.  And then it struck me, we have made this mystery very had to comprehend, let alone understand.  Think of it this way...

The Bible teaches that the entire creation has a real presence of God in it, and yet, it is not God.  It point to God, but creation itself is not God.  Just like a road sign points to the destination, so does creation.  Creation is a huge sign post that has 'glimpses' of God within it but it is not God.  It speaks to us, in very real ways, about God, but it is not God.  I believe the same is true concerning the Eucharist.  It has the very real presence of Jesus in it, but it is not Jesus.

Now, I know.  Someone will say 'But Jesus said this is my body... this is my blood.  He didn't say his presence would be (somehow) in it.  He said the bread and wine was his body and blood.' And that's all fine.  But are we really going to be that literal in a very wooden sense?  I mean, Jesus also said 'I am the door' but he doesn't have hinges.  So, while Jesus was enacting a great mystery, it is at least comprehensible.  His presence is with us when there are 'two or more gather in [his] name' right?  We have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit with us but we are not the Holy Spirit, right?  It is the same with the bread and the wine.  These elements symbolize the act of Jesus death for us and his presence, his very real presence, is, well, present in them... somehow.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

12 June 2007

Safari 3


The worlds best browser has just been given new life -- on the PC.  That's right!  Now you can run Safari, the native web browser from Apple, right on your Windows XP or Vista OS.  As most of you know, I am an Apple user.  I really love the whole thing -- the very latest hardware (iMac, MacBook, Mac mini, iPod, and the soon to be released iPhone), and the coolest, most advanced OS in the world, Mac OS X (current build, 10.4 Tiger and the next generation, due out in October, 10.5 Leopard).  As you also know, this isn't the first time Apple has released an app for Windows.  Apple's iTunes is downloaded almost one million times a day by Windows users.  So, they aren't too worried about this not being picked up by the Windows world.

Why would people want to do that?  A number of reasons: ease of use, eligance of the interface, but mostly -- speed.  Safari is roughly twice as fast as IE 7 and roughly 1.6 times faster than Firefox.  And these are speeds that the average user can actually see.  When I open Safari on my iBook (the predasesor to the MacBook), web pages open up considerably quicker than Firefox.

What I think is also interesting about this is that Microsoft quit development of IE for Mac a while back.  And yet, Apple launches Safari for Windows.  And not just Vista.  No Apple knows that Vista is not doing so well and a lot of people are sticking with XP so they have made it available for those users as well.

This is a great day.  But it is only the dawn.  When the full sun rises, we will see new things in view and see the possibilities of the future more clearly.  It is truly an exciting time in the computer world.

Now if I can figure out a way to get Safari to run on Linux...

Peace be with you.

+ OD

11 June 2007

A Cocktail Party, a Bow Tie, and a Little Black Dress

On Friday night, 06.08.07, Mahina and I went to an annual cocktail party some of our friends host.  Earlier in the week we both received text messages stating that this would be a 'little black dress' affair.

'I don't have a "little black dress" to wear', exclaimed Mahina.

'Neither do I', was my reply.

However, I did want to get dressed up for it.  In fact, I wanted to wear a bow tie.

'What?  Why?  Last year none of the guys were dressed up', she said.

'So?'

'You know how this event goes', she said.  'All the gals dress up and the guys just wear shorts and Hawaiian shirts'.

'But why should the girls be the only ones who get to dress up?'

Now, I like a good suit.  In fact, I like the whole dress up thing.  My favorite era was the 40's-60's Rat Pack era.  You know the era where people used to dress up to go out to dinner?  The time in American history where casual wear for men was still a sport coat, slacks, but no tie.  I love that time period.  Call me sappy, but to me, that was very, very cool.  Okay, so I'm a lost romantic in the postmodern age.  So be it.  To me, that is just classy.  It makes me feel very good.  Very happy.

So, on Thursday evening, Mahina and Sumi (our daughter) went shopping for a little black dress. Whenever we need some clothes, we usually go to the Salvation Army, or some thrift store, or a resale shop, or whatever.  Well, not luck there.  Those stores didn't have what Mahina was looking for.  But she did find one at Ross (the thrift store chain, as I like to think of it) for only twelve bucks.  Awesome.  I love those type of deals.  I, on the other hand, still hadn't found a tie.  To be honest, I hadn't the time to look for one!  I only like to drive when I have to, and this last week I didn't really need to be driving during the day.  So, when Mahina got home on Friday night (can you say last friggin' minute!), she and Sumi went looking for me a bow tie.  And they found one at a thrift store for, get this, one dollar!  Yeah.  One little, ol' George Washington.  Now, I just needed to learn how to tie it!  Never did that before.  I had always bought clip-ons.  But thank God for Google!  With a couple of clicks I found a page that told me step by step how to tie a bow tie.  After about the fourth of fifth try, I had it down.

We made it to the party and we had a wonderful time.  I loved it.  There was old Rat Pack, big band era music on vinyl (!) playing.  Little lights around the yard.  Finger food.  A big water feature that had candles and flower petals in it.  And a few cocktails.  Every one was laughing and having a grand time.  It was great.  It is (probably) my favorite event we have with this group.

Here are a few pictures of us.

   

Peace be with you.

+ OD

07 June 2007

Ministry of Reconciliation -- Part 3

In Part 1 we looked at various passages of Scripture and discovered our working definition of reconciliation -- 'To work through actions and words as a servant (of God) in restoring the harmony between God and creation to form one connected whole.'

In Part 2 we saw that, in the beginning, all creation, the whole cosmos, was in harmony with each other and God. We saw how people rebelled and the whole thing was spun out of control (from our perspective) and how God set in place a plan, in the call of Abraham and the nation of Israel, to bring the whole thing back together. We saw how this was ultimately accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As St Paul put it, '[God] made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of [Jesus’] blood on the cross' (Col. 1.19-20). In other words, God has done God's part. But, as we saw, we still need to do our part. You see, in reconciling things, all parties concerned have to work for reconciliation. It does no good when only one party reconciles. It takes all parties working together to make things whole again. Briefly last time, we saw that people need to decide that they want to reconcile with God. God has already done God's part, but now it is up to us to follow through on our side. We must reconcile ourselves back to God. This is accomplished through trust in Jesus. The result of that trust is good works -- of doing things that show true trust or faith. And that is what we are going to look at in this post.


People


Not only do we need to reconcile ourselves back to God, we need to be reconciled to each other. This is probably the most difficult part. It is relatively easy to reconcile our selves back to God since God is (supposedly) 'out there' somewhere and we don't have to look God in the face. It is altogether different with people. We have to see them every day. We have to determine, like God did, to forgive the sins of people. Of not counting their sins against them. That is a very tough job. And, left to ourselves, I would say it is an impossible one. But, we are not left to ourselves. We have been given the Holy Spirit, the abiding presence of God. There are several passages that tell us to forgive people. For example:
Matthew 18.21-22. Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

Luke 17.3-4. If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.

Colossians 3.13. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

From this we can see that we 'must forgive' people. This is an imperative; not a suggestion. In several places we are told, nay, warned, about forgiving. In the 'Lord's Prayer', for instance, Jesus said, 'Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us' (Matthew 6.12). From this we see that our forgiveness of others is somehow tied to God forgiving us. The following verses stress this point:
Matthew 6.14-15. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Other passages to consider:
Mark 11.25. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

Luke 6.37. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.

So, one of the things we can do to reconcile ourselves to other people is to forgive them. The Episcopal Church has a couple of section in the Book of Common Prayer that speaks specifically to this point. In The Reconciliation of a Penitent: Form One, after the penitent has confessed his or her sins the Priest then says:

Priest: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered himself to be sacrificed for us to the Father, and who conferred power on his Church to forgive sins, absolve you through my ministry by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and restore you in the perfect peace of the Church. Amen.


The Lord has put away all your sins.


Penitent: Thanks be to God.


The Priest concludes: Go (or abide) in peace, and pray for me, a sinner.



I love that last part. It shows that priests are sinners, too, just like the Penitent person.

Another thing we must do is love people. Personally, I don't think the two are that far apart. It is really difficult to love someone and not forgive them. And it is equally difficult to forgive someone and not love them. We all know that loving others is one of the key elements in the life of a Christian. In fact, Jesus said that it was 'equally important' to loving God:
Mark 12.29-31. The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.

Why is love so important? Because it was love that moved God to redeem creation (John 3.16). It is through love that we are seen as God's people (Matthew 5.43-48). I would go so far to say that, taking these passages together with 2Corinthians 5.11-21, these are our 'Reconciliation Charter', if you will.

But it doesn't stop there. We must also talk about our actions toward others. Again, Jesus is pretty clear about this in Matthew 5. But we are not just limited to Matthew 5. The Bible clearly states, on more than one occasion that we are to take care of other people, to reach out to them when they are in trouble and need. For example:
Leviticus 25.35-36. If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative.

Deuteronomy 15.10-11. Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

Hebrews 13.15-16. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

1John 3.16-18. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

That last passage is very telling. It shows us what we should be doing in order to bring reconciliation to other people. Of course, that passage ties in with James 2:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

.......


What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

........


Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

Therefore, as people who have been reconciled to God, we must show that reconciliation in how we treat other people. It is because of our actions to others that we '[show] to be right with God' through our trust in the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth. It is because of this trust that God 'gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ' (2Corinthians 5.19-21). And, God willing, others too will want be Christ's ambassadors; will want to join us in the reconciliation project. When this happens, God's New Creation is one step closer to consummation. But not quite. We still have to deal with reconciling with nature. We will do that next time.

I could go on and on. I have just glimpsed the surface of this topic of reconciling people to God. But I want to hear from you. What can you add to this conversation?

Peace be with you.

+ OD

<- Go to Part 2 or Go to Part 4 -->

06 June 2007

Flock Test


This is a test of the new web browser Flock. It is a Mozilla creation (who isn't these days!) and is geared toward web sharing. That is, pictures, news, etc. One of the features is blogging. If you have an account with Wordpress, Typepad, Movable Type, LiveJournal, Drupal, or Blogger, you can have an editor that includes everything that the usual suspects need from a toolbar, or you can change to the source tab and do all of the stuff yourself through HTML. While the editor toolbar doesn't have all the added features as the Wordpress extra toolbar, the basics are there. As you can see in the screen shot, it looks fairly simple. This post was created using the blog feature within Flock.

flock-snapshot.png

Peace be with you.

+ OD

05 June 2007

Garden Update!

native-plants-medium.jpgA few months ago, I wrote about our Community Garden.  Well, I thought I would take a few moments and give you an update to what has been going on around here.  The picture on the left is of our native plant bed.  All of these plants are native to Oklahoma.



This is a picture of one of our potato plants.

potato-plant-medium.jpg
Here are some of the potatoes we harvested.  We have been harvesting for a few days now.

potatoes-from-our-garden-medium.jpg

These tomato plants have a few very small (marble sized) tomatoes on them.  Can't wait!

tomatoes-medium.jpg
Our HUGE sqash plants.

sqash-medium.jpg
Our peas and cucumbers bed. We have been pulling peas off of here for a little bit now.  They sure are tasty!

peas-and-cucumbers-02-medium.jpg
Here is a picture of our lettuce bed that I took in April.  Now, it's empty.  We already ate most of it.

lettuce-medium.jpg
Well, that's about it!  Until next time...
O gracious Father, who opens your hand and fills all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let your Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show your loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what you give, that men and women everywhere may give you thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Peace be with you.

+ OD