Monday, June 21, 2010

Preachers and Morality continued . . . again

To read the previous two posts and comments side by side in additional windows, click on these links: Preachers and Morality and Preachers and Morality continued . . . .

Dear Nick,

It is good that you recognize the importance of the subject. Because you impress me as one who is sincere, I am responding to you as one who is sincere.

At first I struggled to know your perspective and why you are pursuing this fallacious argument. I did not at first grasp why you pressed upon me the argument against “alien righteousness” when I did not use this terminology. I think I understand the reason now. For the concept of alien righteousness permeates the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, and therefore it permeates my theology, whether or not I use the terms themselves. You are, in fact, attacking and denying the chief article of Christian faith, the article of salvation by grace through faith, through your attempt to discredit alien righteousness, which is clearly articulated throughout the Scriptures as the righteousness of God that supplants our unrighteousness through the faith that the Holy Spirit works through the power of the Gospel.

You have attempted to use one word, logizomai, and a partial definition and use of the word as set forth by a skewed lexicon, to avoid the doctrine of God’s righteousness that is from outside of ourselves, imputed to us through faith worked by the Holy Spirit, as that which justifies, sanctifies, enlightens, saves and preserves those whom God saves. The lexicon that you have chosen claims to use Thayer’s and the large Kittel for its sources. Yet the final statement is not in either, at least not that I found. Neither is it in BAGD. All three of these recognized resources demonstrate a much broader usage of the word, logizomai, than that final statement that you quoted.

You mention 40 occurrences of the word in the Scriptures. But you ignore the context, especially of the ones that you do not quote. One passage is enough to demonstrate the fallacy of your argument.

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (Romans 5:13-14)

You have argued:

The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

In Romans 5:13-14 St. Paul uses logizomai to teach that the imputation of sin is not made where the Law is not residing or being. Thus the imputation is taught as not being dependent upon the sinful act, but upon the gift of the Law which imputes the sin to us so that we may be brought to recognize our need for the righteousness of God that is from beyond our grasp or doing. According to our own imputation, according to our own logizomai, we do not account for our sin and our unrighteousness, our total corruption that makes sinners of us even from our conception, as Psalm 51 clearly teaches.

Thus, in Romans 5 St. Paul uses logizomai exactly the way that you say that it is not used.

But the larger point is that it is entirely fallacious to rule out by means of one word what the Scriptures plainly teach. That is why at first I did not deal fully with the word, logizomai, but rather gave other Scriptures that teach what you deny.

In my original post I directed the attention to the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, in accord with St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2. I also referred to preaching “Christ our righteousness.”

The following are passages of the Scriptures that teach this:

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6)

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 51:10)

O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Daniel 9:16-19)

You argue:

So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22).

But St. Paul does not say that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Here is what St. Paul writes:

     And being fully persuaded, because what He has promised He powerful is also to make, through which also was credited to him into righteousness.

“Being fully persuaded” = plerophoretheis, which is an aorist, passive, participle. For this discussion the points of emphasis are that it is aorist, or past tense, and especially that it is passive, meaning that it was worked on him from beyond, that is, his conviction or persuasion or belief was alien to him. It was worked by God, who gave the promise and with the promise also made the faith or persuasion, which overpowered Abraham’s unbelief, so that God’s action was credited to Abraham into righteousness. This also is critical to right understanding. St. Paul does not actually say “as righteousness” but “into righteousness.” This is the same manner as with Baptism, especially as St. Paul refers to it in Titus 3.

Additionally, the following Scriptural passages highlight the fact that the righteousness which is credited to us is God’s righteousness (with emphasis added to certain pertinent portions):

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
(Romans 3:1-28)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:1-21)

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(Romans 10:1-10)

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-31)

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
(Galatians 2:15-21)

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11)

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11)

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
(2 Peter 1:1-4)

The Old Adam rises up in indignation against this doctrine. Our sinful nature despises the acceptance of the teaching that we are truly “dead in sins” and must be “quickened together with Christ” and that we are truly “saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” and that we are truly and entirely from beginning to end in every aspect “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2) Our sinful nature despises the notion that all that we are in Christ Jesus, all that is holy, all that is righteous, is God’s work and nothing that we logizomai as our own. That the good works that are manifested in our lives are God’s works, prepared beforehand, and that we merely walk in His good works being worked in us and for us, this is truly alien to our sinful and corrupted reason. But for all of our resistance to it, this is the way of grace, and grace is from God alone. When the Holy Spirit convicts us fully, as He did with Abraham, then we live confident of God’s power and mercy and love, and we live without the burdens that we and sin would place upon us. When we logizomai in accord with how God logizomais, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding does indeed guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Preachers and Morality continued . . .

In the previous post, posted below, Preachers and Morality, Nick at NICK'S CATHOLIC BLOG commented with a rebuttal. He argues using a very narrow use of the word logizomai in connection with righteousness and works that are accounted to the believer. Since his comment is somewhat extensive, and my response includes links to Scriptural references, I am posting them below. Nick’s commentary is sincere and kindly. It is quoted in lavender with my response following.

This is a very worthy topic, worth serious consideration and study.

To read the original post either scroll downward or to view it in another window click on the link Preachers and Morality.

Nick said:

In my study on this topic of imputed righteousness, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular lexicon here is what it is defined as:

QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
This cannot be right.

So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such. This is confirmed even more when one compares another similar passage, Hebrews 11:4, where by faith Abel was commended as righteous.


Thanks for taking the time to comment and for sharing your efforts on this subject.

I checked your quote at Bible Study Tools, which is at the very end of the reference and appears to be arbitrarily inserted by this group. I could not find anything like it in Thayer’s Lexicon nor in Kittel. Perhaps you would like to study this word further in these and also in BAGD. You’ll find that logizomai is a very comprehensive word.

Regardless, let’s take the $25.00 in the bank book analogy as legitimate, (by the way, just because you have recorded something in your bank book does not necessarily mean that it is actually in the account). Let’s go with this analogy, only let’s go with the money actually being in the account and not merely in our bank book. The question is not one of whether or not the accounting is correct. The question is regarding first, by whose accounting is it accounted as present, and secondly, by whose deposit it is present.

This is the point that you are choosing to ignore. The righteousness with which Abraham and St. Paul and I are credited or reckoned is God’s own righteousness, the righteousness of Christ. The works whereby this righteousness is reckoned are Christ’s works, God’s works enacted by Christ. The imputation or reckoning is God’s reckoning on account of the faith that He, the Holy Spirit, works in me through the Word, Jesus, connected with the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper. The very faith on account of which I am reckoned as righteous is mine not as my own work but as faith that God has worked in me. Here is a sampling of Scriptures that state this: Ephesians 2, Galatians 2:16-21, Galatians 3:22, and Philippians 3:4-12 .

The very faith by which we are accounted as righteous is accounted to us. It is ours only as that which God has given to us and worked within us, not as something which we have attained to by our own reason and strength nor as something that we have produced within ourselves. “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4. Whatever I hold up to God of my own doing is not upright, or as St. Paul declared, dog crap, skubalon. Only in accord with the righteousness of Jesus through the faith of Jesus given to me in Baptism am I and my life accounted as righteous.

Far from being a loss, this is great news. For this sets me free from the struggle and strife of trying to be righteous. Rather than striving to be righteous, by faith I then hear and believe the declaration of God that I am righteous, for Christ’s sake, and I thereby live by faith. Faith takes the work and the struggle out of life, for it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me. Truly His grace is sufficient for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Preachers and Morality

This evening my wife rented a movie entitled: Confessions of a SHOPAHOLIC. Like many comedies of this type it has a sort of morality that is presented. It contrasts, quite effectively, a young woman’s life of lies to the freedom of living honestly. The moral of the story includes the fact that belief in the worship of mammon as liberation is a terrible delusion. It also includes that facing one’s limitations and faults honestly is a beginning to freedom.

As I watched the plot of this movie unfold my mind turned to a saying of Luther regarding the teaching of morality. As I remembered it, he said that the teachers of the world are better at teaching morality than the teachers of the Gospel.

My cursory search this evening did not uncover this quotation, leading me to think that I may have remembered it incorrectly. I did find this quotation from Luther in volume 54 of the American Edition of Luther’s Works: Table Talk No. 3490: High Recommendation of Aesop’s Fables Between October 27 and December 4, 1536.

     Luther praised the fables of Aesop highly:

     “They are worthy of translation and of being put into a proper order and arrangement. It is not a book that was written by one man only, but it was diligently assembled by many men in different centuries. It would be very useful therefore if somebody would translate the book well and put it into proper order. The important fables that are pithy, smack of antiquity, and are useful to the commonwealth ought to be gathered into a first book; then those that are more elegant ought to be placed apart in a second book, and the rest ought to be reserved for a third.”

     “It is a result of God’s providence that the writings of Cato and Aesop have remained in the schools, for both are significant books. Cato contains the most useful sayings and precepts. Aesop contains the most delightful stories and descriptions. Moral teachings, if offered to young people, will contribute much to their edification. In short, next to the Bible the writings of Cato and Aesop are in my opinion the best, better than the mangled utterances of all the philosophers and jurists, just as Donatus is the best grammarian.”

While I understand Luther’s point, I do not fully agree. In fact, if pressed I find that I disagree on the following principal observation, which this evening’s ponderings solidified:

     Preachers of the Gospel do not preach morality and obedience to the Law. Rather, they preach justification and sanctification and the obedience that comes through the repentance worked by the Holy Spirit unto faith.

Preaching of morality is foreign to the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel is the wonderful declaration of God’s love to us in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is the preaching of Christ crucified. The Gospel is the preaching of the new life that God works through Baptism and continually renews through the Lord’s Supper of His Holy Communion. The preaching of the Gospel is the preaching of walking in spirit by faith.

This is the opposite of what is preached and taught by sinful humanity who grasps after the glimmer of self-aggrandizement in search of works-righteousness.

St. Paul writes to the Galatians: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

Further contemplation on this matter led me this evening to this conclusion in this connection:

     If works and obedience of the Law could justify, then Christ would not have stood condemned and would not have died. Yet it was His perfect obedience and His perfect doing of the works of the will of God as proclaimed in the Law that brought Him to bear our condemnation and the curse of the death owed to sin.

No, the preaching and teaching of morality are works of the unbelieving world, whose preachers seek to make better people through knowledge of right and wrong and better or worse. The preaching and teaching of morality is the preaching of self-improvement and self-help.

This truly has no place in the Church of Christ. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Gospel. The Gospel is the preaching of the new life that is received in accompaniment with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3, Acts 2, 1 Peter 3:21). The life to which the Holy Spirit calls us is a childlike dependency upon the holiness of God won for us through the merits of Christ. It is the freedom to walk without fear of condemnation purely on account of God’s declaration of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith.

Thus, as a preacher of the Gospel, I have no desire to preach the morality that leads people to strive to become better neighbors and citizens and people. My desire is to preach the Gospel that leads people to know and rely upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified for their forgiveness, justification, sanctification, reconciliation to God and to all. My desire is to preach Christ as our righteousness, into whom we are incorporated through Baptism and kept everlastingly through the Holy Supper of His Body and Blood. This is the way of grace, mercy, and peace. This is the way of freedom and joy without end. Through this preaching people hear that the grace of Christ truly is sufficient for them, and in this knowledge their struggles turn to everlasting rejoicing and thanksgiving. Yes, I will leave the preaching of the bondage of morality to the unbelievers and continue myself in the preaching of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What IS On My Food?

Do you know what is on your food? Are you aware of how many chemicals and hormones are added to the food that you buy and eat? Do you know what the FDA knows, but does not tell you?

Do you know what these chemicals and hormones do to you and your family?

Which one consumed the glutamates?

Below are two sites of which you should take notice:

Truth in Labeling

Find out what's on your food at:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pray Without Ceasing

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

How do you hear these words of St. Paul? Do they make sense to you? Do they seem realistic?

“Pray without ceasing.” Following his actual word order, he says, “Incessantly pray!”

What does this mean? How is this possible? What form does this take in a person’s life?

In order to understand this admonition from the apostle to the Gentiles we must first understand what prayer really is. Is prayer what people imagine it to be? Is prayer something that a person chooses to do? Is prayer an action or is it something else?

I believe that we sinful humans begin with a perverse perception of prayer. We begin with the notion that prayer is something that originates with us. We imagine that prayer is something that we do.

However, prayer is really nothing more than the ongoing activity of the Holy Communion of God. Prayer is really what God is working in the person whom He has incorporated into the communion of the Holy Trinity. Prayer is really a walking or living in spirit. Prayer is to the soul what breathing is to the body.

I’d like to share an example of prayer that became manifest in my daily activity one day last week.

Last week I was working out of town on a big job. It involved the pruning and deadwooding and cleaning of many trees as well as removal of dead and diseased and scrub trees.

This tree was one of the trees that needed extensive deadwooding and cleaning. It is probably about 60 ft. tall. In preparing to climb this tree, I needed to position my climbing line in one of the upper crotches. After selecting a crotch that would give me good climbing position and support, I shot my throw weight and line many times. Several times I had a perfect shot that went directly through the crotch, only to be bounced back out by a little twig. Many other times it bounced to one side or another off of little twigs and leaves that were in the path of the shot. Several times I cried out, “Why are you fighting me, Lord?” Finally, in frustration I demanded, “Why are you fighting me, Lord? Why do you refuse to allow me this shot? Is there something wrong with this crotch? Do you simply not want me to use this crotch? Is it unsafe? What?” I tried again, and said, “OK. I’ll try one more time and if you still block me, I’ll try another crotch.”

I had to select another crotch. When I climbed to that part of the tree, about 40 or 45 ft. high, I saw that indeed the entire branch was rotted. It looked solid from the ground. It was over six inches in diameter, but the center of the branch was severely decayed and weakened.

I prayed, “OK, Lord. Thanks for keeping me safe.”

The point is that I expect this from God. In my daily work I talk to Him and I listen to Him. Mostly, I listen.

I believe that this is what St. Paul is teaching us regarding our walk by faith. Faith is fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Faith is knowledge of the holy, or holy one. This knowledge moves one to acknowledge God’s Holy Communion in every aspect of one’s life. Being established in His Communion is to be continually listening and responding to Him, expecting Him to be present and involved in every activity and aspect of daily living.

Here is the tree after I finished climbing and pruning.

I was in this tree for about two hours. This was two hours longer than I would have been in the tree if I had not been listening and anticipating God to be directing me in my work.

I cannot imagine living without the blessing of incessant prayer. This stands as one little example of the form that prayer takes throughout the day. Prayer includes hymns that the Holy Spirit brings to mind and reflection upon Bible verses and thinking of various interactions with people and pondering plans and wondering about loved ones and longing for being home with my wife. Prayer includes marveling at the depth and power of God’s love. Prayer includes observing the songs of birds as they sing of the wonders of God’s creation. On and on prayer takes hold and manifests itself as God works and blesses.

The Lord commands that we call upon Him in the day of trouble. What day is without trouble? What day is not polluted by sin? What day does not provide limitless opportunities for prayer in communion with the One who loves us?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Type O Negative Blood Needed

The following is from an American Red Cross E-mail:

Need for Type O Negative Blood Reaches Critical Levels

The supply of type O negative blood at the American Red Cross has dropped to critically low levels.

If you are a type O negative donor you can make the difference between an adequate blood supply and a summer shortage.

Type O negative blood is always in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with any blood type, especially in emergency situations.

While all blood types are needed during the critical summer months, the Red Cross urges those eligible donors with blood type O negative to make and keep appointments to give blood this summer.

We highly encourage all type O negative blood donors who meet the eligibility requirements to double the difference by becoming a double red cell donor. If eligible, you are able to give two donations at once.

Please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit to find a convenient blood donation location and to schedule a lifesaving blood donation appointment.

Thank you from your Red Cross and the hospital patients we serve.