Verse of the Day

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Sunday in Lent

The entire AOC Sunday Report may be found RIGHT HERE!

Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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:

… Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory …

In the Collect, we ask God to help us to subdue our natural evil tendencies so that we can live life here His way and honour His wishes so we can be truly happy.  Without His help, we end up with what we want, not what we need. We are asking him to help us fight our human nature and follow His divine nature, we are attempting to replace our nature with that of God’s. It will be a long and difficult road that we must travel, doing this, but we are going to be much happier in the long run if we at least try. Do or do not, there is no try, Yoda is quoted as saying, and I have found it applicable here and in my own life. We have to act, not just say we are going to act, but we have to actually physically perform ACTIONS1

Want and Need; two words, used interchangeably in both our speech and thought that do not mean the same thing.  Think about that!

Following the thought of the Collect, Paul asks us to be worthy of the grace God has given us.  He tells the people when they needed him, he was there.  They need to be there for those around them.  They must not frustrate God’s work by showing up late, or not at all. We have to put in our 110% for Him, as He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us, so we should truly show our gratitude for His act, by serving others and performing actions for Him, with His Help.  We are outnumbered fiercely in this world, by the enemies of God.  We are like the men in the Battle of Ia Drang (also related to being Paul’s message, the sacrifice of Kenneth Ogles and his fellow men in the Vietnam theatre, as well as those in WWI, WWII and before, and now.), fiercely outnumbered by the enemy, they did not just sit on their hands and wait for the enemy to come. They did something about it, they took action, otherwise they were going to be overrun by the North Vietnamese. We have to always keep moving, like the article I read this morning about Wally Kaenzig, a 93 year old man who is one of the last survivors of the Iwo Jima, he said on Iwo, the big deal was to keep moving so you didn’t get hit. We want to keep moving and avoid getting hit by the forces of evil, if we are to minister effectively.  Like them, we cannot just sit and wait, else we will be overrun by the Forces of Satan.

Those around us are watching our actions in the time of testing.  God is also watching us in the time of testing to see how we perform with the talents He has given us. Make no mistake it is a hard battle we are fighting, against the forces of wickedness, of the Devil all across the globe. The key to winning this battle for souls is to never ever ever give up and to trust in God and Dread Naught. We have been given eternal salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice, the understanding of the Gospel by the Holy Ghost.  We are at this time dying here on earth, yet progressing towards eternal life in the next world, in Jesus’ world with His help. While we may never be wealthy here on earth, our actions can make our fellow Christians wealthy in spirit beyond measure. 

If you claim to be a Christian, you know what is right.  If you are a Christian, you do what is right, you don’t take a vote to see what the right course of action might be.  Right does not change with public opinion and we must do the right thing. In fact the public opinion often times is rather in the wrong, see peoples opinions on homosexual marriage and abortion to reference this. This is because of our fallen nature. We must go especially against the grain to become Christians. The truth does not change, as it is the constant that never changes. God is the Truth, The Word and the Life of this universe. It is our actions that count, in good times or bad.  We are Christ’s ambassadors to this world; unfortunately we do not have diplomatic immunity.

When the devil attempted to tempt Christ, he shows how little he knows of Him.  If we emulate our Lord, it shows how little the devil will be able to tempt us with his deceit. If we follow Him we will be able to withstand any temptation that arises as our Lord showed for us in the desert 2,000 years ago.

Consider how little the devil really offers you and how much Christ offers, the temptation is ever so much less.  The devil is often referred to as the deceiver or dissimulator.  His forte is deception, he seems one thing, is another.  He offers what he has no intention or ability to deliver.  He ignores the inevitable result of accepting his proffered help or inside track.  Jesus has more for us than the devil can ever hope to offer, the promise of eternal life with Him and His Father. The devil can never offer us anything close to that. We have to remember this next time the Deciever comes and tempts us for earthly riches and treasures. We also have to remember that mammon cannot make us happy, only serving God can make us truly happy.

He clearly knows Jesus is the Son of God.  There is no doubt in his mind.  So, having understood that, consider what he offers Jesus in temptation. 

Remember, Jesus has fasted 40 days OF HIS OWN CHOICE; now comes the devil daring Him to show His Power by turning the stone into bread.  This to the Son of He who delivered manna daily to the Jews in the wilderness for 40 years. 

Cast thyself down and let angels catch thee; this to He who walked on water.

Up to the mountain lookout – Here is it all yours if you worship me.  This to He who as it says in Psalm 95:

In his hand are all the corners of the earth; * and the strength of the hills is his also.

The sea is his, and he made it; * and his hands prepared the dry land.

O come, let us worship and fall down, * and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is the Lord our God; * and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

The devil promised Jesus nothing that was his to give, nothing that would help Jesus in the real world beyond the Shadowlands.  He never does.  The devil is all about shortcuts.  Remember, if the shortcut was the best way, it would not be a shortcut

The temptation of Jesus is no different than his attempt to tempt us!  The devil never delivers what we need, only what we, in our imperfect want.  Remember as little as the devil understands of Christ, the same way, as we are in God, so he understands little of us.  He will never offer you real help.  Remember that and the temptation is ever so much less.

Or, as my grandfather said, “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole”

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quinquagesima - Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold - Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Find out why the Gladiators by reading the entire AOC Sunday Report which is RIGHT HERE!
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider these words from the Collect:

… that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity …

In the Collect, we acknowledge to God that if we have not charity, nothing we do is worth anything; we then ask Him to send the Holy Ghost into our hearts with the precious gift of charity.  Webster tells us that Charity is love; universal benevolence; good will; the word which properly denotes love. What it really means is Love in Action! Like many areas of our Christian development, we will never fully get there. But we shall make progress so long as we do not give up! As Winston Churchhill once said “Never, never, never, never EVER GIVE UP”. So should we never give up in our Christian development. We may stumble and fall at times, but if we get up and keep going and return to our Lord, then all will be well in time.[1] Properly understood charity is the Love of God, that perfect love, to which man should aspire. Charity is not giving oodles of money away to an organization, hoping to make yourself look better, like many modern “philanthropists.” It is to help people with the love in your heart that Christ and God has given us, to enable us to act on His behalf here on this Earth. Love is not selfish or wasteful, but kind and abundant. We are to be agents of good change, not that of bad, and with Charity, we will act with love towards one another.  If we do not have love in our hearts towards one another, how can we expect to be able to have any positive change on the world around us?

Paul tells us no matter our gifts, talents and so called accomplishments, without the Love of God, we are nothing and have done nothing.   It must be clear to us that our understanding here on earth is limited, we will never here see the fullness of God’s plan, yet the part most clear is the love we are to have one for another, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, for no reason other than we know that is right so to do.  It does not matter to us we will never see the fullness of His plans, each of us are a small piece of a much bigger plan. And all of us small pieces work together to fulfill the bigger plan. We only need to find our part in the plan and act upon that, again with Charity in our hearts. For if we do not have true love or Charity within our hearts, we cannot act for God. When Paul talks about God’s great plans, he uses the phraseology “through a glass, darkly”, which is very interesting inasmuch as CS Lewis uses a variation to describe earth as compared to heaven.  He calls the earth The Shadowlands and says in heaven all is clear and bright, not dark and muddled as here on earth.  So, here our understanding is limited, it will not always be so. That will be fulfilled when we pass the Pearly Gates into heaven, and in order to do that, we have to have faith, and have good works acted upon with charity. If one of these ingredients are missing, we are not acting according to what He wants for us. So, we have to believe with all our heart in God and Christ, and act upon that belief with great Charity.

As they were coming in to Jericho, Jesus told the disciples of what was to come, yet they could not grasp their leader would submit to such treatment on their behalf.  He was the Conqueror; in a sense they were right, He came to conquer death for us, not the Roman Empire.  As they went along, they encountered the blind man who was, like many of us are, blind.  His blindness was of the eye, not the heart, he knew the power of God, and of love. The blind man who wanted his sight and knew Jesus had The Power.  He cried unto the Lord and was rebuffed by His People.  Did he give up?  No, he cried the more.  As we should not let others discourage us from following the Lord, indeed we should increase our prayers and serving fervently. When Jesus heard him, he turned and asked what the man wanted.  MY SIGHT!  No generalizations, no beating about.  The blind man asked of Him what he truly wanted.  Ask and it shall be given unto you.  The blind man lacked sight, but not vision.  Nor, it might be added did he lack faith. We should ask God to have to sight and hearing that we might see, hear and act upon the Word. To some, the faith he had might seem a blind faith, but it was one that he acted on and gained what he lacked.  Will we have the faith to act?

True love is Faith, Hope, Charity[2].

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

[1] To quote Winston Churchill, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”  (29 October 1941)
[2] The three Gloster Gladiator fighters Faith, Hope and Charity defended Malta against the Italian Air Force during the early part of the siege of Malta in World War II.  Legend has it that all three persisted and of the three, Charity never failed.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sexagesima Sunday

The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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:

…put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity …

In the Collect, we tell God we put our trust for eternal life not in our actions, but in His Power.  If we do this, then we must do as He asks us.  For, to make trust in His Power rational, we must follow His Direction. If we do not follow His Direction then we are surely just going be as lost as before we accepted Him into our hearts. It would be foolish to think that we could guide ourselves, when in fact we need Him to guide us. The problem is that often, at least in my case, pride gets in the way of seeing that I/We need to relie on Him for guidance. We need Him as our navigator to guide us along the rocky paths of life, so we don’t crash into the rocks of Sin and Death! We need His directions if we are to proceed upon the path to Heaven.

This squares with what Paul tells us, that is salvation, honor and glory come not from what we do or have done, but rather from God.  Therefore, we should turn to Him for guidance and not ourselves. By following His Word that is where the salvation, honor and glory come from. And that is also to whom we should give credit and not us. We havn't earned the credit, so we should give it to whom it is due, that is to God our father. Nothing that we have done as far as anything good or significant is not from us on our own volition, but from God. He will guide us through all of our lifes trials, if we let him. Paul, who as Saul, had been a super star on his way to being the number one rabbi in the Hebrew nation, he was more learned, more vigorous in following the law, more vocal in all things.  When he “saw the light” and converted, he took that same approach to Christianity.  No one was more in any thing than he.  He had been the best of the worst and the best of the best.  Now he was keenly aware of how short he himself fell.  But even more importantly, he was keenly aware of the saving perfection of Christ. Because he had been at rock bottom, he was able to recover, which then brought him to his best, so that he was aware of the saving power of Christ. From this he could tell us of the experience of the power of God first hand, using his life as an example of that. He told us these things not to glory himself, but to show the glory and honor that comes from on high, from following His Word. He wanted to highlight God’s saving power and Grace, which had helped him, and show us how it can help us as well. He wanted us, other Christians to learn from his example and to do their best to follow Him. Thus he counseled all to take comfort and pride in God, not themselves.  Do your best and look towards God.

This brings us right in to the well known Parable of the Sower, which might be better referred to as the Parable of the Four Soils, for the seeds were all alike. 

Like the seed sown by the sower, The Word is spread throughout the world for all to hear and act on:

·      Yet, some will not even hear The Word (Hard ground);
·      Others will hear, act quickly and abandon God’s help at the first sign of adversity (Stony ground);
·      Still others will hear The Word, but The Word is overtaken by the “pleasures” of this world and is choked out by them.  Like the line from the Bible, where your money is, that is your worldly effort, there is the evidence of your heart.  The temptation of this world is great, the reward from God should be greater, but you have to look long term;
·      Finally we come to those who accept and act on The Word, like the one seed planted growing into a great plant bearing its fruit, the rewards are manifold, though the effort is also great, the end reward far greater.  For the seed to grow to full fruition and glory, with its manifold blessings, it must have the ground prepared, carefully tended against encroachment of the evil weeds, it must be continually watered by the life blood of those around it.  There is much effort required on our part, but the ultimate reward is so much greater.

While we are on the subject, consider the issue of weeding.  Is this not part of the reason for the Church, that is to say the body of believers, to exist.  We cannot often pull our own weeds, but we can help others and they can help us. We cannot pull our weeds alone, but with help, we can remove them one by one. Christianity is not a religion of hermits; it is a social religion where we can help each other.  This is why it is best that believers attend a Bible believing Church, where they can get valuable friendship and from that friendship, spiritual mentoring for their day to day lives.

So, think about this, we need to understand eternal life and indeed on a shorter term, happiness in our life here, comes not from our self-directed actions, but those of God and our action following His direction. If we follow our self-directed actions, we will find death and misery awaiting us. However, if we put our trust in Him and follow His commands, we will “live long and prosper” to quote Spock. Do your best and look towards God for the Light to illuminate your path.  If you prepare your heart, as the farmer prepares the field, root out the forces of this world as the farmer roots out weeds, cultivate the good given by God, water your heart with His Water, your life will be manifold.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Why we do what we do

The Bible has what we need and it is that pretty and that simple.  Jesus' death on the Cross is the key to our eternal life.
But, what about things?

Why is the Cross no more?  Why is the Holy Grail lost to the ages?  Why is the Robe likewise gone? 

Because they never existed?


They are intentionally gone from this earth because God does not want us to worship things.  Things are of this earth, so is the Prince of this World.   The prohibition against graven images is telling.  Saints?  Those who follow Him are all saints.  Special saints?  Medal of Honor material, examples for us to follow, leaders of us all.  Pray to them.  To quote Paul, “God forbid!”  He wants us to worship Him only - the Holy Trinity - Father - Son and Holy Ghost.

There are no “spells”, magic totems, special words or gestures.  There is one way, Einbahnstraße.  No one has the key to heaven, only ONE has that key.

Liturgy?  It is our way of worship.  Can you worship properly non-liturgically.  I suppose so, I cannot; it is a personal failing of mine.  I need the help of others of like mind to focus my heart.

The Anglican church was the first of the churches formed, well before Rome, Antioch or the like.  Its focus was on God, not expanding its power, thus it did not look for earthly power.  When the invading horde came with the “real” Roman church, it was defiled.  The Reformation simply returned the Church in the land of the Angles to its pre-defiled state.  Nothing more, nothing less.

All these people who want sell a secret that only they know are at best charlatans, at worst active recruiters for the Devil.  Remember the words of GL Chesterton:

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


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Four Chaplains Day – Seventy-Two Years ago today

On the frigid night of 3 February 1943, the fully laden Allied ship USAT Dorchester, carrying 902 servicemen, plowed through the dark waters near Greenland.

At 0100, a National Socialist submarine fired a torpedo into the transport's flank, killing many in the explosion and trapping others below deck.

It sank in 27 minutes. The water temperature was 28°F, time of useful consciousness was measured in seconds, not minutes.  Everyone on board knew that.

The two escort ships, Coast Guard cutters Comanche & Escanaba, were able to rescue only 231 survivors.

Navy Chaplain Lieutenants Fox, Poling, Goode and Washington

In the chaos of fire, smoke, oil and ammonia, four chaplains calmed the sailors and distributed lifejackets:

Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; 

Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed;

Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic;

Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish.

When there were no more lifejackets, the four chaplains ripped off their own lifejackets and put them on four young men. 

As the ship went down, survivors floating in rafts could see the four chaplains linking arms and bracing themselves on the slanting deck.

  They bowed their heads in prayer as they sank to their icy deaths. 

Congress honored them by declaring this "Four Chaplains Day." 

On 7 February 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower spoke from the White House in support of the American Legion Back-to-God Program: 


And we remember that, only a decade ago, aboard the transport Dorchester, four chaplains of four faiths together willingly sacrificed their lives so that four others might live. 

In the three centuries that separate the Pilgrims of the Mayflower from the chaplains of the Dorchester, America's freedom, her courage, her strength, and her progress have had their foundation in faith.

Today as then, there is need for positive acts of renewed recognition that faith is our surest strength, our greatest resource. 

This “Back to God” movement is such a positive act...

Whatever our individual church, whatever our personal creed, our common faith in God is a common bond among us...

Together we thank the Power that has made and preserved us a nation. By the millions, we speak prayers, we sing hymns and no matter what their words may be, their spirit is the same-”In God is Our Trust.  As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth-that there are no atheists in the foxholes."

Quite a distance from that time and place to “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” BH Obama.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


The full Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
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:

… we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness …

In the Collect, we ask God who knows we should be “…justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour …”  To get into heaven we need to be accounted as perfect.  Yet, we cannot be “cured” of sin nor “improved” to perfection. So how do we solve this irregularity? We are imperfect creatures with free will, the most confounding combination ever created for salvation.  We know we ourselves cannot solve our dilemma, Who can?  There is a solution for us!  Consider the words of John Newton near the end of his life, “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!” The answer lies in the latter part of Newton’s quote. Our sins are justly punished by eternal damnation, yet there is hope in our Lord.  For eternal salvation is the delivery promised to each of us by Jesus.  This is the reward of the race we run here on earth.  Our race is for that eternal prize, not just, as they say, filthy lucre.  It is the complete opposite of filthy lucre and an extremely pure one. It is for the promise of an eternal, unending life, to be spent with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It is for the promise of a world unaffected by the tarnish of sin, unblackened by the sinful deeds of imperfect beings. It is an unshadowed world.  It shall be true happiness at last, to meet with our beloved family, our Christian heavenly family, friends and beloved pets.

Eternal salvation is a far more valuable prize than anything we could possibly acquire here on Earth.  It is in fact a priceless treasure, truly priceless, except for the death of our Saviour and resurrection. That is the only price involved with our eternal freedom. We have to keep this foremost in our thoughts as we continue to run the race set before us!  Keep the eyes on the prize, as it were!  As my grandfather was fond of saying, “Keep your eye on the doughnut, not the hole.”  That means keeping the important things in sight at all times, excluding the unimportant.

Particularly when things get hard, we must keep our end goal fixed firmly in our mind’s eye in order to stay on the path. In order to stay focused on the path, we must always remember that the end, the arrival in Heaven will outweigh all of the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears we shed in this life. Paul assures us our efforts will give us a reward greater than even our pitiful minds can imagine, if we but stay the course.

Our eyes should be focused on the finish line, not our “competition.”  The only thing which counts is that we each cross the finish line.

So how do we run the race? 

With our eyes focused tightly on the finish line, not on those around us, wondering are they doing better than we are?  That is not a useful question.  The useful question is, “Am I doing the best I can?” And, remember this is a Team Effort. We have to want to win, and in order to win the race set before us; we have to perform actions. We need to act upon the Word of Scripture, the message, which is to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and preach it to all nations, as in the Great Commandment. But we must first start with our neighbors and work our way outward. It must be a team effort, we cannot all do it alone. We need support along the way, especially when things get tough, we need our Christian buddies to give us moral support and encouragement from the Word.   We want the Christian Team to win.  If an outsider joins, they join the team fully from then on.  We need to give each team member all the help we can.  A deathbed[1] conversion gains the same prize in the end as a life long Christian.  The life long Christian will have had the more rewarding life here on earth, but eternity is a long time after that. So, with that in mind, we must DO our best and not just say it, and we do that by acting upon the Word and not just reading it, but acting.

We are all so far from perfect that Holier than Thou is pretty damning praise.  Don’t even go there.  The best you can really do is not to be as evil as another, even that is pretty doubtful. But, we can do our best for our Lord and that is what really matters.

The Gospel for today, the very important parable of the vineyard, also gives us very good advice on the conduct of our daily lives and contains a crucial key to happiness.  There is the lesson that the deathbed conversion gains the same prize of eternal life as the lifelong follower, but there is a lot more in it for every day life.

It is a fine lesson in “buyer’s remorse” or coveting of jobs or similar concepts.  If you got a good deal, it does not change because someone else got a “better” deal.  Take what you got, go forth and be happy.  Don’t complain because somebody else got the same deal as you did sooner. Other meanings abound.  For a very direct application, what this means is “cradle” Christians are no more likely to go to heaven than this morning’s convert.  They just get to enjoy the Christian experience longer.  So let us not begrudge those who are newly converted, but let us rejoice that they have been saved! As Christ said, we should rejoice that one sinner has repented of his ways!  One note, if you wait until the last minute to join the gang, your time here might end before you get around to it.   So don’t wait until tomorrow to act, do it today while you still have time!

Sometimes people act like being a Christian is an unpleasant experience that they will do when they get a round TUIT.  It is not.  Christians aren’t perfect, they just have more fun being imperfect and imperfectly trying to improve!

Christ gave us eternal life.  But, we have to accept it.  Once you accept it, start living as if you will live forever.  You will and you will have to live with your actions for ever! So Act early and Act often!

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] Of course, you must consider that overshooting a deathbed conversion will result in no conversion, thus no eternal life.  Convert earlier than needed rather than later than needed.  My dad talks of a bombing range in England, Cowden, on the edge of a cliff.  If you dropped short, you got a score.  If you dropped long, you missed the whole country.  Same idea here.