Verse of the Day

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Fifth Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 


Consider these words from the Collect:

… the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness …

In the Collect, we ask that the events of this world might follow God’s governance or will.  Why?  Because in those places where it does, we find happiness and joy.  It is that simple, it means more, reflect on that.  After all, amazing is it not?  Since the Garden, it has always been one of the two same choices:

1.     We follow God’s Will for us, we do what is good for us, individually and as a people or a country.  It is hard work, but easier than we imagined; we prosper when all goes well.  It was all our doing, we are happy because we were so smart.

2.     We ignore God’s instructions, doing what we want to do, not what we are supposed to do.  It turns out to be way harder than we thought possible, in the end everything turns to weasel spit.  It was not our fault, it is God’s fault, He is punishing us.

As long as we are imperfect creatures with free will, humanity will not change.  The key word in this phrase is will. The will of humanity is set towards embracing sin and running away from God. But there is the possibility that through the Holy Ghost, we as individuals can change and with enough individuals changing, the whole of humanity of change.  We just have to start with our corner of the world and work out from there. Humanity would be better off if we fully embraced the principles found in the Gospel.  However, there is a big obstacle to this: human nature. By our own nature, we are naturally resistant to embracing what God wants. We have to understand doing what God wants will be better for us in the long run than doing what we want. 

If you think about it, all of our problems can be solved by doing what God asks! Don’t try to get out of doing what God wants to do what you want, and don’t look for loopholes.  Don’t be a Pharisee! Consider when Jesus told Simon Peter to go out and set his nets.  Simon was tired, he was hungry, he had fished all night with no result.  After making excuses, he decided to do what he was told! There is a lesson there, instead of making excuses why things are the way they are, why not be quiet and do God’s will instead? It will have a lot better result, that is for sure! 

That is what happened to Simon Peter; that is what will happen to you, if you will but listen and act. Listening and then acting are the key principles of this Gospel, we must listen to what He says, and then ACT upon it.

The point Saint Peter makes in this morning’s Epistle is that it is easy for us to be sinful creatures and not do good. It is much easier to swim with the flow than it is to swim against it.  God is calling us not to swim with the flow of the world, but to swim against it, for as GK Chesterton put it, A dead thing goes with the stream, but only a living thing goes against it.   It is much harder to resist that sin and to do good. However, we have help in the form of the Holy Spirit. He will give us that strength to resist the sin and to good and to overcome obstacles and feelings, but only if we let it. God is open to those who do good and He is against those who are evil. God will open his ears to us, but we have to also open our ears to what He asks us to do.  The Epistle is calling us to action, to act for Him, to be Holy and not conform our minds and actions to this world but God’s World.

Action and not just diction are what counts in the end. That phrase is what St. Peter’s Epistle boils down to and it is also a shared theme with this morning’s Gospel. When Simon Peter finally listened and acted according to Jesus’s instructions, wonderful things happened. So too will they happen for us when we finally actually listen to what God wants and do it instead of doing what we want.

Do not misunderstand, every day Jesus speaks to you telling you what to do.  It is your choice, you can listen like Simon Peter or you can ignore Jesus.  He has the pony for the lottery.  He wants to give it to you, all you have to do is accept.  While He is a bit more subtle than a Drill Instructor, the question is the same, “Can you hear me?” The problem with us is that we just do not want to hear. That is why we need the Holy Ghost to open up our ears, that we might hear and obey.

There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. 

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Fourth Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal

We desperately need Gods Help, yet paradoxically, God can only help us if we put our trust in Him; we can never be strong, nor set aside to Him, if we do not let Him be our leader.  No one except God can be their own leader, no one.  Each of us, no matter our position, must have an immutable directional reference or we become hopelessly lost.  For navigation, we have a magnetic compass or better yet the Pole Star, Polaris, which will tell us True North so we can keep headed in the right direction.  People have died of starvation in a closely wooded area less than a mile across because they became lost while following their own sense of direction.  By definition, they were always less than 3,000 feet from safety, yet they died after many days.  So it is with our spirits. 

Like Peter, if we are separated from Christ, then we too shall become lost. But, if we have the Holy Ghost, we are not separated from God and Christ and will thus become stronger. So, if we have the Holy Ghost in our heart, he will both strengthen us and help us to holy, that is set aside. He can also help us be merciful to other people. We just need to listen to what the Holy Ghost says and act upon it.  

We need a leader to follow. We cannot be our own leaders. If we try to become our own leaders, it will not work. But fortunately for us, we have God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost.  if we will follow Their Lead, we will pass through this world in good order and go on to the next in eternal happiness. This is a very common theme within Scripture, do what God asks, be happy; dont do what God asks, dont be happyIt seems simple enough in theory, but a lot harder in practice. It is a lot easier said or thought about than done.   We want to do what we want to have fun, God wants us to do what we need to do to be happy.  Funand Happy do not mean the same thing, they are used interchangeably, their meanings are orders of magnitude different.

We should not consider what man thinks of us. We need to be concerned with what God thinks of us.  If we follow Him, then those who really matter will like us for who we are and how we conduct ourselves while following God and those who don’t are of no concern. Do what is right, avoid what is wrong and you will be happy are the basic principles of the Christian faith.

Paul builds on this, telling us walking Gods path, though it may seem hard at the time, is nothing compared to the reward we receive in heaven for following God’s will. There may be quite a struggle on this Earth before we go to our heavenly home. Paul assures us that heaven will be worth the wait. It ties in also with the collect saying that we need to focus not on things temporal, but things eternal. Meaning we need to look at ourselves and our actions with the long long term view with the goal of getting to heaven for eternity. It must be remembered eternal life doesn’t just start when you die and leave this Earth for Heavenit starts right now. The Collect is asking for God to help us make our way through this temporal universe to His Realm, the ultimate eternal universe of Heaven. We need His help to guide us through all of life’s trials and temptations 

In the end, our reward will outweigh all of our struggles, if we will but keep our eye on the true prize.  Our struggles here on Earth in the eternal view will not be as big as what our eternal reward will be, if we but stay the course that God has set for us. God gave us free will, which if we exercise it properly, that is the will to overcome temptation.  What at first seems like a constrained way of living, once actually lived is really perfect freedom. It only seems constrained, because we cannot conceive how following His Word will allow us true freedom.  If we overcome temptation to do what we want and do what God wants, we will receive the gift of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Luke presents a simple message, yet one that is often misunderstood, with majestic language which brings the message to a point of incredible sharpness.  We are to be a guide to others to Christ, yet we cannot help others until our own problems are on the way to solvation”, that is being solved through the salvation offered by Christ.  We need to follow Him, before we ask others to follow us.  After all, if we are not going in the right direction, what positive value is there in others following us?  We cant very well lead people to Christ if we ourselves are not on the road to Christ.

We do not want to be leading others towards The Pit, rather, we want to be sure we are on the right path before we guide others along the path. We must not lead others astray by our actions and judge unrighteously, but judge with righteous judgment through the Holy Ghost and on the solid foundations of Holy Scripture.

When he said use righteous judgement, he was talking about judging peoples behavior by the standards of Scripture, not condemnation. He was talking about using the Scriptures as the standard for judging individual’s behavior. He does not mean us to condemn others. This is connected with the parable of the mote. Often times when we are tempted to condemn somebody, we often ignore our own failures and focus on theirs. Let us get our act together first, before we help others. So, how can we, imperfect as we are, be honest with ourselves?  The answer is easy, hard to implement, but easy!  The Holy Ghost!  Let Him into your heart and do what you are told.  Simple, yet hard to do.  

Speaking of doing, what we do to others is a good measure of how we follow God’s Will and Direction.  We are expected to treat others as we would be treated. Remember the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done unto you. Our real earthly fortune, as well as are eternal lives, are a reflection of our commitment to God.

We are so ready to condemn the performance of others when our own is even worse.  It is common within all of us, especially me particularly. As Paul tells us, “all fall short.”  The operative word here is ALL.  If we look to condemn and repair our own spiritual lives before condemning others, we will be better suited to help them.  Our beam before their mote.

For only when we have taken care of our own spiritual health by looking to God for help to evaluate and improve how we follow His Word, we will be able to effectively spread the Word of His love for us.

And that is our job, to improve ourselves to effectively spread His Word by example; our action, not our diction, is the measure.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Third Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities …

The Collect starts as they often do by asking God to hear us.  It seems to me this is rather odd a thing to ask as He hears us all the time; the problem is when we need His Help we so rarely ask, then when He answers, we will not hear Him.  That being said, when we do accept the Holy Ghost’s Help to pray, we can expect to receive spiritual, mental and physical comfort from God.  The key word in this is accept.  In order to receive the comfort from God, we have to first let him into our hearts to begin his renewal of our spirit. If we do not accept the Holy Ghost’s help, then God will not be able to help us.

It would be foolish not to accept the Great Physician’s help to transform our spirits. It would be like having cancer, and there being a cure for cancer and rejecting that cure because we don’t like it.  Without the help of the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we truly cannot follow Christ. We, of ourselves, cannot follow God without His Divine Assistance. We are sheep gone astray from our shepherd and without Jesus, are wolf food. But with Jesus’s protection, we are safe from the wolf/lion known as Satan. 

In order to have  the Holy Ghost’s help into our heart, we must let go of self centered and prideful  ways. Prideful beings cannot be followers of Christ. Peter makes this point when he says that God resists the proud and gives His Grace to the humble. The humble are those who are more likely to accept His Grace and the Holy Ghost’s help to renew their spirit. The proud believe they are self-made people and scoff at the very idea of God sending his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have life everlasting (John 3:16). These people are very resistant to God and the Holy Spirt.

The humble know they cannot make it into heaven on their own; thus they know they need that divine help and are willing to accept it. They know they can achieve nothing great without God’s help. These are the people to whom God gives His Grace, those willingly embrace His Help and utilize it in their lives.

We must strive to be humble in our lives and less prideful. When we let go of our pride, we can see where we are in error.  When we accept help from the Holy Ghost, we can begin to fix the cracks and faults in our spiritual character. He can shine a light into the darkest areas of our hearts. Jesus could do this as well and He knew very well the spiritual character of each person He encountered in His Earthly Ministry. 

With a clear view of the inner most thoughts of their hearts, Jesus tells the Pharisees the story of the shepherd who loses a sheep and searches for it.  When he finds the sheep he carries it back to the flock on his shoulders.  He goes on to tell the story of the woman who loses a piece of silver and turns her house inside out to find it.  That story ends in a very interesting word play in English, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece (peace) which I had lost.”  Jesus ends the story with, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” No doubt the Pharisees missed the point of the parable as their hearts were too blackened by pride to hear His Word. 

The moral of the parable is Jesus is all about saving the sinners, not those who are already “righteous.” But for realists, there are none who are already “righteous.” I liken the church as a hospital for sinners. And all of the saints were sinners in their past too.  Having said that, there is also joy when we do not sin, but choose God’s way.  And we enjoy it more also. So, it is preferable if we do not sin in the first place, but if we can’t do that, then God finds joy when we truly repent and turn back to Him and ask for His help and be willing to listen.

Notice Jesus’ actions when He finds a lost sheep, He carries it back to the flock on His shoulders with a smile on His face. He rejoices in each lost soul saved. This is what the Church is about, bringing lost souls to Our Shepherd of Souls, Our Savior, Our Advocate, Jesus Christ, to His Kingdom of Heavenly Joys.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.



Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hymns of the Church - Hymn 478 – Eternal Light, Eternal Light – 23 June 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


T
HIS then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  (1 John 1:5)

            This beautiful old hymn was written one evening shortly after sundown on the Isle of Wight in 1798 by Thomas Binney in 1798. The tune to which it is assigned in the Hymnal is Eternal Light by Kenneth E. Runkle in 1941. It is full of descriptive adjectives illustrating that Eternal Light without which no life would be possible. 

            God is Light and without Him all would be smothering darkness. He is the great self-Generator of Light. Such immense light requires a like and infinite energy to produce which result in the “Consuming fire’ which God alone is.

Eternal Light, Eternal Light

Eternal Light! Eternal Light!
What soul can bear Your searching sight?
What heart, so open, pure, and true,
Can live and calmly gaze on You?

The glowing spirits round Your throne
All serve where sin is never known.
Their eyes can bear the burning bliss
Beyond a darkened world like this.

But how can I, a native here,
Before Your blazing eyes appear?
Can I, a creature of the night,
Endure Your uncreated light?

Praise God, You come to us in Christ!
In Him our darkness all is light!
O Fire of all-consuming grace,
In Christ we stand here face to face!

Eternal Light! Eternal Light! What soul can bear Your searching sight? What heart, so open, pure, and true, Can live and calmly gaze on You? Simply expressed, no mortal creature can look upon the face of God and live. We must be transformed into that precise image of God as first conceived in the Garden, and be made spiritual children of God as well as those of flesh and blood. God’s Light is a searching Light which scans the Waters of the Deep in constant search for those to whom His mercy is made profoundly available. The Light not only illumines the outward countenance, but the inner spirit of man as well. Nothing is hidden from the searching eyes of the Lord. Those who are oblivious to the Light of the Lord will remain in uncharted darkness for an eternity future.

The glowing spirits round Your throne All serve where sin is never known. Their eyes can bear the burning bliss Beyond a darkened world like thisAll sin is darkness, but that darkness cannot abide the True Light of God. Neither will the Light abide darkness. God will countenance no sin, nor sinner, in His Heaven. The Light will unfailingly expose that uncleanliness of heart and soul. The Church Triumphant are those who die in the Lord and have gone to their reward with Him on High. All fleshly sins have been washed clean as they serve before the Throne without shame or hurt. Now their eyes can comprehend what those same eyes could not when abiding in the flesh below. The world they departed was half darkness and half light in its rotation, but now, all is Light.

But how can I, a native here, Before Your blazing eyes appear? Can I, a creature of the night, Endure Your uncreated light? The Light of God is uncreated because God is Light. He has existed from eternity past to eternity future without beginning or end. The eyes of God are as penetrating fountains of light. No mortal can ascend before God with a single sin to his record. But “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and “there are none righteous – no, not one.” So, which of us is able to appear guiltless before the searching eyes of God on that Last Day? It is by having the imputed righteousness of Christ who purchased us out of the bondage of sin. We are saved by that unmerited grace of the Lord.

Praise God, You come to us in ChristIn Him our darkness all is light! O Fire of all-consuming grace, In Christ we stand here face to faceIn him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believeHe was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:4-9 Yes, the grace of the Lord to us-ward is all-consuming and irresistible. He is the Light of the World and He permits us the title as well so long as we are lunar reflectors of that great Light of the Sun of Righteousness. The day will come when each of us will stand, just as did the woman taken in adultery and the woman at Jacob’s Well, face-to-face with the Lord. At that moment, we face Him alone. In what manner shall we stand there? Shall it be as the Redeemed of the Lord, or as the condemned of the world?

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Second Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name…

We must fully understand and acknowledge God will help and lead us, but only if we will look to Him for that help and leadership.  The spiritually blind (us) cannot lead the blind (also us). We are spiritually blind without God’s help. We need His Help, in the form of the Holy Ghost, to direct our hearts, minds and souls to look to Him for that Help in our time of need.  Thus, we continually ask God, through the offices of the Holy Ghost, to help us understand we actually need help and be open to accepting it. And we must note that to fear God is not to be scared of Him but to respect Him for who He is, our creator and heavenly Father, and loving Him involves loving the others around us with the Holy Ghost in our hearts.

Speaking of time of need; when do we need God?  Pretty much whenever we are not perfect, which would be all the time.

The Epistle is a great illustration of why we need guidance from the Holy Ghost all the time.  The world is not a nice place and at times it gets depressing to be in. John says we should not be surprised that the world hates us. For the World does not know of God and His Word so they fear that which they do not understand, namely the Word. We should not worry though because even in the times of darkness, we do have an ally. That ally is  is God, and He has a way to comfort us in these times, through His Love and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is here to help us spread that love, and to help us figure out what we need to do, to make our corner of the world a better place. 

We are to perform this task of loving people around us with great cheer. There is no true love without cheerfulness and a giving heart. In order to have Gods love, we have to love those around us. It is harder to put the actual love into practice. We have actually love those around us and not just say it. We may be serious at times, but we can still be cheerful in that we have the love of God within our hearts and we can spread that to others.  Don’t forget the little reminder from GK Chesterton:

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

A lot of times people put off church for other “more important” things, do you? They are like the people in the parable.  Like the certain man who made a great supper, the Lord sets aside a time every week for us to worship with Him.  Actually, His time is pretty flexible.  The Lord’s worship can be done at times other than 1000 on Sunday morning if you really do have to work, you have weekend duty, you are on alert or something you really cannot get out of. The key element here is prioritization. If you really do believe Christ’s word and He is important to you then you will make that time out of your week to worship Him. 

The Gospel is about more than just going to church, it is about prioritization.  It calls us to put the things that are really important in the list of things to do above the things that are not really important.  It all goes back to the want versus need issue. Two different words, often used interchangeably by people, but this is incorrect. We need to think about what is important to us and to God.  Sometimes they are different.  Then, we need the Holy Ghost to get our priorities in order.

People do what is important to them.  When they feel guilty they come up with excuses, but in reality, they please themselves.

So, what we need to do is ask the Holy Ghost for help to make God’s agenda ours; thus when we please God, we please ourselves.  A win – win situation. And it will make us far happier people as a result, which is what God’s plan is for us all along 

If we do not make time for God, how do we expect Him to make time for us?  If we will not diligently study the lessons He has left for us, how can we expect to know what He wants us to do?

Do you recall more sage words from GK Chesterton?

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

We need to come to church and read the Bible so we can find out what God wants.  But, the idea is not to find out what He wants so we can work around it or live with it, but rather to live it. Once we find out what God wants for us, we need to live that reality He has planned for us, not the one that we want for ourselves.  This means putting into practice in our day to day lives, wherever we may be, the principles of Scriptures. Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just as they wanted.  

If we find out what God wants and decide to actually do it instead of avoid it, we are still faced with an often huge problem of where do we get the strength to accomplish this task.   However, the answer is simple, it comes from God, the Holy Ghost.  He never asks us to do anything we cannot do good enough for Him if we rely on Him.  Never. 

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God



Sunday, June 14, 2020

First Sunday after Trinity


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; … through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed…

This is a little longer Collect than usual, but in it we acknowledge God is the source of our strength, as without Him we are weak and cannot do any true good.  Thus, we ask His help or grace to do His Will in both in our thoughts and actions. This is a consistent theme through all the collects, because it is based on the simple truth we cannot help ourselves and we need true Divine Guidance in order to make it into heaven.  We need His Guidance to perform the actions we need to follow the course Jesus set for us.

And, what is the first action we are to take?  To love one another.  Saint John pointed out if we do not love our fellow creatures here on earth whom we have seen and touched, how then can we claim to have love for God, whom not one of us have seen?  We do not love God if we do not love our fellow humans. Even if they have strayed a long ways off the path, we are still called to love them and help them if they want to be helped.. Jesus came to serve as the ultimate Servant, He serves as a perfect example.  Even though He is the King, He has chosen to be a humble King, one who puts His Flock before His Own life. He is the model we must truly follow if we are to call ourselves Christians. We are not Christians if we are not following His example of selflessness to the best of our ability.

We are called to love individuals.  For many of us, the first step is to stop hating them, for if love is the epitome of good, hate is the nadir of evil.   Hate is a truly bad thing for us, it is all consuming and all destroying.  First, stop hating, hate no person.  Hate is not a value Christ displayed and it is not a virtue of God. Hate stems from sin and evil and from Satan. There is no individual on this earth worth hating. Ultimately hate will rot away your heart and soul until you have none left effectively. Hate is not worth the energy that it consumes. Instead of hating people, try to love them; a positive force instead of a negative force.

However loving an individual does not mean that you approve of their acts that are sinful and harmful to one’s health, spiritual or physical. This is concept which confuses many today. We cannot condone smoking or homosexual acts or abortion. Though we may know individuals who do these things, we must despise the sin, but realize these people, no matter how truly fallen they may be (Some are worse than others, but none are better. As Paul says, all fall short), are people created in the express image of God by God. 

God loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for our sins.  That is true love.  Not that we love Him, but that first He loved us!  God is the source of true love and He is the reason true love has so many wonderful qualities, so strong and enduring.  So, if God first loved us, ought we also not love each other?  No one has seen God at any time.  Yet, He loves us and we say we love Him.  If we do love one another, then God is in us, the Holy Ghost, and we are in Him.  Be bold, the world will end sometime; for each of us this world ends when we leave here.  Fear not, trust in God and dread naught. 

Do not be afraid to love one another, regardless of what any man says. Do not fear man, only fear God, the great Judge, and Jesus the Advocate, and the Spirit, the Purifier, Guiding Light. Man can do nothing in comparison to God. God and His love will keep fear and the damage it does at bay.  Love each other and act on that love.

Jesus illustrates perfectly in this parable what happens when we only think of ourselves and do not help or even think of others. He could have taken pity on him and ACTually helped him, like the Good Samaritan. Instead, he just let him die, figuring that that was the end of him.  Lazarus was a rather disgusting feature of his world; when he died, the rich man was pleased not to have to pass by him.  Yet, it never entered into his head to help.  

How is that possible?  
He was too caught up in the cares and riches of this world to care about another human, that was quite hurting. He was suffocating on the desires of this world and was blinded to the needs of another human. This is how selfishness harms us and our ability to help others around us. It never occurred to him that Lazaraus was anything but an eyesore. He would not see that Lazarus was also just like him in that he had his own issues that he needed help with. Pride, vanity and gluttony all helped blind the rich man to the needs of his fellow humans.

How can we prevent our selves from becoming like the rich man? Put your trust in God and dread naught.  Love those around you and ACT on that love.  It does not matter if they are the same religion as you, but you still must love and act towards them all the same.  That does not mean baring your throat to the Koran following Muslims; but it does mean treating them with kindness and charity until you must act to defend you and your way of life from them.  They deserve pity, for as they follow Allah, that is the Devil, as Christ said They know not what they do.

Think how you can help, not how you can “enjoy” life. Helping never means supporting those who do not feel like supporting themselves.  For dependency breeds slothfulness and contempt.  Dependency destroys the soul.  
What is does mean is facilitating a way for those who do not have what they need to earn what they need; to bring them the means of acquiring those things which they need.  Those things are spiritual as well as physical.  A hand up; not a hand out.  You will find out the more you help, the more you enjoy real life.  Whether it is helping somebody at the office, around the neighborhood or a friend, there is immense pleasure from the result of helping people, so much more than feathering your own nest, so to speak.  It is not only more blessed to give than to receive, but it brings a lot more happiness into your life.

This is hard to do.  We want to concentrate on what makes us feel good about ourselves right here and right now.  We have to be coerced into staying on the narrow path upward and inward.  But, that is where our home is.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday


Sermon – Reverend Hap Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Today’s sermon covers the basic concept of the Triune God, that is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and how they were introduced to us through time and the Bible in particular; it draws the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  . 


Consider these words from the Collect:

… acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity …

In the Collect, we acknowledge there is a Triune God, that is to say there are three aspects of God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  A Triune God means literally Three in One, not three separate Gods or godlets, but a single being with three aspects.  How does this work?

The honest answer is – WE DON’T KNOW.  We have not been told of how this Being operates. We just have been told that there are three and They are ONE.  We have some knowledge and scriptural guidance on how parts of the thing work, but not all.  Saint Paul told the people of Corinth, 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) One of the basic principles of classified information is that it is only to be revealed to those who have an actual NEED TO KNOW, not just the curious.  Like many secrets, we don’t really have a need to know, so we have not been told.  

What we do know is:

·      God is I AM;
·      God the Father sent The Son to be our Savior, He was there at the beginning and created this world;
·      The Holy Ghost breathed life into the world, and brings understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration, patience;
·      They all have always been and always will be.

That is what we know; it leaves a lot we don’t know, but we can certainly be kept busy with what we do know.  What we do know is that what we have must be enough for the here and now. It should enough for us to operate on His Word with our simple and limited understanding of the Trinity. We must be content with what we read in Scripture, all the other stuff we wonder about Him are just extraneous details, like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  So much theological discussion is captured in that term.  So, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  Whatever the number, the answer from our standpoint is so very simple; As many as God determines the circumstances require.  Note, as God requires!  Not you, not me.  God.  Trying to think about those intricate details that we do not know or understand only serves as a distraction from following God and doing what He asks. He does not want us to speculate on how the Three in One concept works, but rather just understand it is and go forth and follow Him to the best of our abilities.

We must put aside the thoughts of who and what God is, and just understand He is I AM, there is God, there is the Son, there is the Holy Ghost and they all work together in their own way to be the one God of our faith. There is a reason for this even though we don’t know it, but it works out, so we do not have to wonder how it works, we just continue believing and acting!

But, what of later?  If we have eternal life, we have it now and later.  What comes later?  Heaven.  What is heaven?  In the epistle John attempts to describe to us what Heaven is like.  He attempts to show us the majesty and glory of heaven using words.  The picture he paints is intended to be awe inspiring and seems to meet that goal handily.  The main thing we can be certain of is that we will not be disappointed.  We speculate as to will this or that be in heaven?  When we get there, the answer will manifest itself and you will have no regrets.  John’s description should serve to tell us heaven will easily surpass all of our expectations. He is trying to convey Heaven is a destination truly worth our earthly toils. In heaven, there is no disappointment.  Heaven is the real world, where things are bright, not dull and dark as though looking through a glass.  Rest assured, we will see for ourselves what it is like one day, all we need to know is that it is a really wonderful place we should be aiming to go to when we die, through our belief and actions here on earth working together!

So, how do we get to the real world from these Shadowlands?  There is but one way, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.[1]

Do not be fooled by “there are many paths to God” which seems to be the way of the world today, there is only one way into heaven.  All roads do not lead to heaven. Many lead to the pit, but out of the many roads, there is only one narrow uphill path which will get you to heaven. Doing good is good, so to speak; doing good without God is not good enough.  Only being accounted perfect will get you up the path and in the door.

One thing is clear, in order to traverse this narrow uphill trail we need help!  Lots of help as a matter of fact.  The first thing we need in our hearts is a new heart, a new and contrite heart.  This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus in the Gospel. He was explaining how we need a new heart in order to continue to serve God.  The Pharisees could not or would not see that their hearts were not good enough on their own to serve Him, as ours are not if they are not regenerated. That is really hard, in fact, it is so hard it cannot be done by ourselves.  We need something like turning over a new leaf so to speak. There is a way as a matter of fact for us to do this.

We must be born of the spirit!  What spirit?  

The Holy Ghost.  We must accept we in and of ourselves will never be perfect.  Our hearts as they are will not lead us towards God, but away from God unless we have the help of the Holy Ghost! No one gets in to heaven unless they are accounted as perfect.  We will never be perfect in and of ourselves.  Should we quit trying?  No!  We are commanded to follow our Christ.  Will we fail?  Without question.  What is the solution?  To believe and follow the Christ.  To open our hearts to the Holy Ghost that we might believe in full and accept the help from the Christ that our imperfection needs to be His followers.

To follow God, we need Christ as our leader and the Holy Ghost as our compass. In short, we need all members of the Trinity’s influence in our lives if we are to arrive in the real world, that of Heaven.

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost; use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God



[1] 1 St. John ii. 1, 2 and Book of Common Prayer, page 76

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Whitsunday



Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort …


When Jesus left on Ascension Day, we lost a teacher here on earth.  We still have Him in our memories as Redeemer and Savior; but what to do for understanding and that needed closeness to God?  In response to His departure, God sent us the Holy Ghost.

Who is this Holy Ghost and why is he here?

We worship the One True God, a triune God, that is Three in One; Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Most people have no trouble understanding the concept of God the Father, Christians seem to get God the Son, but many seem to have a difficulty with the Holy Ghost, the Third God Guy.

The Holy Ghost has been there since the beginning.  He breathed life into the world, yet His actions seemed to be sporadic until Pentecost. 

Well, today is Pentecost, the time one normally thinks of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, the Comforter.  When people do think of Him, they oft think of the actions described in the words of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  The dancing and speaking in tongues.  All that happened so we might understand with the help of the Holy Ghost we might bring the Word to all mankind.  The Word of God is a universal language.  When the disciples spoke in tongues, the people around them heard the Word in their own language, not an odd combination of sounds that no one understood.  The disciples spoke and were heard by those around them in their own language, not Klingon.  It is not for us to speak in tongues without study; it was to show that  we were in fact to preach the Gospel to all nations, not just the nation of Israel, but to all the nations of the World. The many nations of the fallen race of Adam comprise those to whom the Good News is to be spread. Which is why God sent the Holy Ghost; so we would understand it is for us to bring the light of Christ into the world for all to see and believe upon. He is here so we can understand and then act upon His Word. He is here to provide us with the guidance and understanding necessary to preach and spread the Word into the far regions of the Earth. The Holy Ghost allows us to spread His Word amongst all the people in the world to give them the knowledge that they might open their heart to the Holy Ghost and believe. He opens our eyes to what is good for us and what is not good for us, so that we know what to believe and what not to believe. 

We need the Holy Ghost if we are to follow Christ’s Great Commission. He knew we would need the Holy Ghost if we were to have any success in this endeavor. However, He also knew He needed to leave if the Holy Ghost were to come and stay, so the Holy Ghost’s coming had to wait until after the Ascension. He had it planned out so the disciples would not be without a direct connection to Him for very long. 

The Holy Ghost also helps us to give the “righteous judgment” the Collect speaks of. This judgment is not the same as God’s final judgment on our performance, but it is a judgment based on Scriptural values, with the Holy Ghost’s help, we can make on our lives and others lives, based on how we see it through the lens of the Holy Ghost and Scripture. It is not to insult people, but to be truthful from the standpoint of Scriptures and be able to say certain behaviors in this world do not line up with Scripture, i.e. homosexuality and abortion. To say those behaviors are not Christian is a righteous judgment statement that the Holy Ghost helps us determine.  To stay on course we need to use the Holy Ghost for that righteous judgement so we can stay on the narrow up hill path towards heaven.

The Holy Ghost is also our direct connection to God. When Jesus left, the disciples were distant from God. When they were not near Jesus, they did not do as well as when they were with Him. This is why God sent the Holy Ghost that the Apostles and us might have that connection. As with the righteous judgement, the Holy Ghost helps us to align our actions and views with that of Scripture. The Holy Ghost helps us to properly understand and apply Scriptural principles in our own lives. Note Peter’s actions after the arrest of Jesus for an example, thrice denying His Lord. The Holy Ghost came so we would have understanding and a direct connection to God, wireless as it were, instead of having to be tethered to Christ.  This is how God can always be with us wherever we arer.

If we allow the Holy Ghost into our hearts, we will never be far from Him, and He will never be far from us. We have to consciously let Him into our hearts, He will not come uninvited into our hearts. The Holy Ghost helps us understand Scripture and gives us guidance on our earthly lives, as we work towards staying on the straight and narrow path towards heaven He will be a constant guiding presence in our lives, that will give us peace in times of trouble, and will help us guide and focus our minds in our worship of God.  He will give us inspiration and help us to do what is right for our fellow Christians and friends, while staying true to God. He will light our paths in difficult times and trials and will give us the guidance we need to finish our race for God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He would be leaving, but the Father would send a facilitator; one who whose presence, if we let Him into our hearts, would bring understanding of His Word into those self-same hearts.  The Comforter would bring the Love of God into our hearts to let us feel His Love.  He will help us understand we are striving to be one with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Ghost.  Our love is demonstrated by our actions.  Jesus points out those who do not truly love Him will not keep His Commandments. However, if we truly do love him, we must act for Him and by doing so will keep his commandments.  

If you think about it, you will recall the second half of the Book of Luke is titled The Acts of the Apostles.  It is not the thoughts, the beliefs, the feelings, the meditations, the inner feelings or any other touchy feely thing, it is the ACTS.  If you believe, you must act on those beliefs. The Holy Ghost is here to help us know how to act, we will just have to let Him into our hearts, and then ACT. 

We need the help of the Holy Ghost to learn what we are to do, how we are to do it and most of all to do it.  Action, not just diction.

Pray for His continual presence in your heart.

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God