Evacuation Route to Heaven

Ezekiel the prophet warns of us of hurricanes. If we fail to heed the warnings, he is not held accountable. If we see that our brother or sister is heading into harms way, but do not warn them, we will be held accountable. Sometimes we complain that we were evacuated for no reason at all. Many didn’t listen to these warnings and died or were injured or caused first responders to be harmed. But what about the internal storms we harbor for others? How have we prepared for them? Are we warning others?

Yes, the storms are brewing. We tell people that we love them. We clean up our yards so that our junk doesn’t harm our neighbors as flying debris. We stock up on water and gas. We begrudgingly heed mandatory evacuation orders. Sometimes we share what we have with others even if we know there will not be enough. We trust God. We share our evacuation plans so that we can reunite once the storm passes or lessen the worry.

But Jesus asks us to do more than the law of preparedness. Jesus asks us not only to warn our neighbor of the impending dangers, but also to love them and help them to avoid the impending doom. Jesus loves both me, and my neighbor who has sinned against me. Period! If we warn our loved ones to evacuate and they end up dying, part of us also dies. This is a law of love.

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Why are you terrified?

There are many hurricanes in this world with far deeper and catastrophic consequences. These are the hurricanes of poverty, war, indifference, addiction, family discord and selfishness to name a few.

Jesus warns us of the consequences of family hurricanes and infighting. Here is the evacuation route Jesus proposes:

  1. If your brother or sister sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. Simple but seldom done.
  2. If he doesn’t listen, bring one or two along with you. In other words, if the road you are taking toward love is blocked, change course and find another way. Don’t give up!
  3. If he refuses to listen still, then tell the church. So often people come to confession and tell me the sins of others. It is my job to gently invite them to look at the part they played in the sin and love them.
  4. If that evacuation route is blocked, then Jesus tells us to treat the person as you would a Gentile (refugee) or tax collector. Following the law we would treat the offender with constitutional justice. But how did Jesus treat the Gentile or tax collector?
  5. If you cannot evacuate, have a hurricane emergency kit. Be prepared.
  6. If you bind judgment, racism and unforgiveness on earth, you will bring a surge of judgment, racism and unforgiveness into heaven.
  7. But if you loose or forgive the debt of others on earth, then God will let loose an abundance of love. Pack love, mercy, forgiveness and joy.
  8. Many of us are inconvenienced this week. We complain about losing things like electricity, possessions, running water, and abundant food that we have often wasted. Insurance, government help and citizenship help restore us quickly. God is asking us to consider the poorest of poor who lack basic essentials, insurance or even citizenship. They literally live the aftermath of a hurricane or some other natural disaster perpetually. Pack a cross.
  9. In our hurricane emergency kit, we need a very strong flashlight that requires no juice. The Body and Blood of Jesus is essential for our survival. Jesus is our Light in the darkness. Bring along Jesus.

This next couple of days could be an opportunity for us to connect with the eye of the storm. This time can be savored if we have faith.

A tiger was chasing a man. A cliff blocked his evacuation from the jaws of the tiger. But he saw a vine that he climbed down. When he looked down, he saw another tiger below. Then looking up, he saw two mice chewing on the vine. He felt his anxieties and despair rising. Then he saw a strawberry on the side of the cliff. He reached out and plucked it. He then placed the strawberry in his mouth and savored the taste of the delicious strawberry.

The hurricane is on both sides of our state of mind. Anxieties and worry have paralyzed us. It is time to turn on the Light of the World. Turn the hurricanes of your life with love for one another and prayers united.

My life flows on in endless song

Above earth’s lamentations,

I hear the real, though far-off hymn

That hails a new creation

 

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear it’s music ringing,

It sounds an echo in my soul.

How can I keep from singing?

 

No storm can shake my inmost calm,

While to that rock I’m clinging.

Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,

How can I keep from singing?

 

When tyrants tremble in their fear

And hear their death knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near

How can I keep from singing?

 

In prison cell and dungeon vile

Our thoughts to them are winging,

When friends by shame are undefiled

How can I keep from singing?

Words of this song first published by Robert Lowry, a Baptist Minister in the 1869 songbook, Bright Jewels for the Sunday School. Lowry most likely wrote the music but the words are anonymous and public domain.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

10 September 2017 ~ St. Monica, Palatka & St. John Interlachen~ Father Ron

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Ezekiel 33:7-9 ~ When you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

Psalm 95 ~ Come, worship the Lord, for we are his people, the flock that he shepherds…Alleluia!

Romans 13:8-10 ~ Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20~ Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  

The Woman gets Alone Time with Jesus

5th Sunday of Lent – March, 2016

Isaiah 43:16-21 ~ “In the desert I make a way,… for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.”

Psalm 126 ~ The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy

Philippians 3:8-14 ~ Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and Beloved. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

John 8:1-11 ~ Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

 

Finally

If anyone threw a stone in their arrogance, Jesus would protect her.

There is a growing time bomb beneath the soul of human kind.

The last century has been an accumulation of nuclear and hydrogen bombs and weapons. Polarization just like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time is taking place. Jesus was the scapegoat then, now it is the nasty opinions and anger. Automatic weapons and a plethora of guns keep stockpiling.

This is just like the Israelite community after “escaping” Egypt with Moses and Aaron.

No water.

No food.

A desert.

Grumble…Grumble…Grumble

God is bringing us Home forever.

We complain about the transport!!

We in the United States are

Blessed for no other reason:

IN GOD WE TRUST

Not everyone has to agree with us.

We can still love those with differing opinions…pray for them.

We have unheard of freedoms,

Speech

Religion

Rights

Food (freedom from hunger)

Wealth and safe water

Even crumbling infrastructure that still works

Ability to travel anywhere in the world safely

Citizenship and

Immigrants from every country in the world

The rest of the world is jealous… Can we blame them?

We can wake up in the morning and choose to walk with Jesus,

The creator of the world…

Of what could we be afraid?

Though you are homeless

Though you’re alone

I will bring you home

Home to your own place

In a beautiful land

I will bring you home

 

I will be your home

I will be your home

In this feared and fallen world,

I will be you home.

 

Whatever’s the matter

Whatever’s been done,

I will be your home…

                  (Song composed by Michael Card)

 

For all that happened to the poor woman dragged in front of Jesus,

She gets alone time with Jesus…

Are we jealous of her?

Such intimacy

Such love

Such mercy

She is my nomination for the Supreme Court justice…

Very, very liberal in Mercy!

O to Good News!!!

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Put out into the deep and trust Jesus!

CROSSING THE LINE by Bill Cain

Review by: Ron Camarda, MWSA

Crossing the Line takes the reader on a journey to Iraq and back again. The subtitle is misleading. The story isn’t just about one soldier, his eight-month pregnant wife, his children, an embedded journalist, or even the 42nd Field Artillery Brigade faced with a deployment to a warzone that was different than any other war, and yet a war like all other wars. As the story unfolds, the reader is allowed to experience, taste and be frustrated by the absolute boredom, tedious desert buildup and the aching for home along with the adrenalin rushes of the battle. The book is personal.

Those of us who have served or deployed (and those of us who watched and prayed for a loved one go off to war and return), Bill Cain captures that incredible place where a few days of waiting seem like an endless twilight zone. As a young intelligence officer at the time, Cain gives insight about how difficult and frustrating simple communications were in 1991. Cain places letters and notes of family, peers and enlisted throughout the book in chronological order, even though many were actually received days, weeks, or months later. It seems to be effective. Bill was tortured by not knowing whether his son was born. Historically, this book is very important for us to understand a time when most communications were done by snail mail. Today it is unfathomable for us to experience a war without Skype, Facebook, or cell phones. Yet the real fear of biological and chemical warfare wreaked havoc on the troops and all of us back home. It reminded me of my first convoy in Iraq in 2004 when I was terrified, whiney and just didn’t know what was coming next. Cain does a good job in showing the differences and similarities of the two Iraq wars. If a picture is truly worth more than a thousand words, the picture of Cain just before deployment with his caption pierce our humanity: “That’s me in the holding area, Rhein Mein, trying to cope with all the emotions of the moment.”

Even after we veterans return, we notice that something is left undone. Something remains in the desert, in the loneliness of being with others, and longing for the love in our bed beside us. Lovers have lost days, weeks and months that will never ever be found. We attempt to write them in books, journals, poetry, or songs, but we seem to never finish the story that has no ending. Crossing the Line is about crossing into the place of being lost, and then taking a shot at finding our way home…even if home is now changed forever. The true war is within. It isn’t political, although it often masquerades behind the political, capitalist, or communist machines of man’s creation.

Bill and Renee’s son who was born during the Desert Storm is now almost 20 years old. Their children’s lives are forever affected by this five-month deployment to a war zone. Their choice of studies, the kind of family they grow, and their involvements with the military were and are probably profoundly affected. It was only mentioned that their oldest son served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yes, we are soldiers and soldiers’ spouses…but our greatest love always sustains us and is victorious over any war or battle. The book left me longing for the real mark of the war in Bill’s relationship to his wife, family, and self over the years. Regrettably, Cain inadvertently puts too much emphasis on Saddam Hussein as the source of the war and evil. Much self-criticism of country and self is missing in action.

The last chapters were the most intriguing for me. Bill shares his wisdom as a seasoned colonel with his own bias that sometimes bordered on apologetics. In the chapters leading up to the “crossing of the line” I was a little bogged down by the military jargon, complaints, and tedious details of the plan of war. However, the weaving of Bill and Renee’s letters of love throughout the book kept the storyline anchored. Conclusions were based on his intimate experiences blended with his trustworthy and professional assessment in which disagreement was an option. On a few occasions his neutrality as an historian was skewed to the right, but for the most part he presented a very fair presentation. As one who went into Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 as a chaplain without this knowledge and understanding of the Gulf War, the book would be of great value for college and high school American History courses. The discussions would be lively.

When Bill writes about OIF: “…it’s easy to see how the insurgency was initially fueled by our failure to properly account for the immediate aftermath of war.” and “…it was clear that we had problems to solve beyond the enemy situation in Iraq.” These quotes revealed to me how crucial this book was to our growing awareness of the part we play in the wars of the world. Self-evaluation is always tough. Bill Cain was courageous in his attempt.

Bill Cain offers his own insight, craftily written to allow the reader to insert one’s own insight without negatively or positively reacting to the author. Bill is a hero for serving…especially for writing this thought provoking journey. It warrants all liberals and conservatives to read and then to come together and discuss on a back porch treating each other with profound respect and love.

This book was an honor to read. It offered me the opportunity to also go back to Iraq again to better understand what I (and those who love me) experienced. Thank you.