About Father Maney

The Venerable Kevin Maney received his PhD from the University of Toledo in Curriculum and Instruction, majoring in educational technology and minoring in educational leadership. He completed his studies for a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and did his coursework almost entirely online. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) on February 9, 2008 and as a priest in CANA on May 1, 2008. He is now the rector of St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Westerville, OH, a suburb of Columbus. St. Augustine’s is part of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (ADLW) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In February 2020, Father Maney was appointed archdeacon by his bishop, The Right Reverend Julian Dobbs, to oversee the newly-formed Ohio Valley Archdeanery

The Surprising Power of God

Sermon delivered on Trinity 8B, Sunday, July 25, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 11.1-25; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3.14-21; St. John 6.1-21.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

In our epistle lesson, St. Paul prays for the power of God in the lives of his people, of you and me. He ends by making the bold declaration that God’s power working in us is “abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.” What does the apostle have in mind when he tells us this? How are we to read this in light of David’s folly in our OT lesson? This is what I want us to look at.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time you will certainly know it is not an easy thing to be a Christ follower and lover. As the psalmist reminds us starkly in our lesson, there is no one who does good, not a single person. It seems that we all have inherited Adam’s sin-sickness, a sickness that distorts and corrupts God’s image in us and makes us think, say, and do all kinds of things that dehumanize us. This, of course, is not God’s original intention for us as his image-bearers and our sin-sickness disqualifies us to rule God’s world on God’s behalf. Yet hard as we try—and try we do being the proud rebellious creatures we are—none of us have the ability to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps so that we can be the humans God created us to be. What to do?

Enter the power of God. When St. Paul prays for God’s power to be with us, he has in mind first and and foremost God’s ability to overcome our sin-sickness on our behalf. And even a superficial reading/knowledge of Scripture reminds us that God does indeed have the power to deliver us from our incurable sin-sickness. He is the God who created this vast universe by speaking it into existence out of nothing. He is the God who has the power to raise the dead as he did with Jesus that first Easter morning. He has the power the free his people from their bondage to slavery as he demonstrated when he brought his people Israel out of Egypt at Passover. And as our gospel lesson testifies, God become human has the power to feed the masses and rule over the storms of creation and life. Many of us have not experienced God’s power in such a spectacular manner, but some of us have, experiencing mighty acts of healing and other acts of God’s transformative power. 

And this power is surely behind St. Paul’s prayer for Christ’s body, the Church, in our epistle lesson. Earlier he made the astonishing claim that God’s purpose for his Church, for you and me, is to demonstrate God’s wisdom and purposes for healing and redemption to the dark powers and their human agents. Imagine that! We as Christ’s people are called to show the world and the powers who have usurped God’s rightful rule—an enigmatic mystery in its own right; why did God allow that?—how to be human and live according to God’s good will and created order! Clearly we cannot do that on our own because we are hopelessly sin-sick. Most of us can’t even manage to follow through on our new year’s resolutions for more than a month let alone live faithfully and obediently as God’s image-bearers! So how do we become God’s healed and redeemed people? Answer: by the grace and power of God. But how does that work? It works to the extent that we can bind ourselves to Christ so that we understand the nature of God’s power in us. When God empowers us to be his people, he does not empower us to lord it over others or to be mighty conquerors. Doing so would only help us impose our selfish desires on others—we do that quite nicely on our own, thank you very much—and satisfy our fallen human nature. No, the kind of power about which St. Paul speaks is the power to forgive, the power to be patient, the power to love, the power to be compassionate, the power to be humble, and the power to do good, to name just a few. It is the power to take up our cross and follow Christ, especially in the face of the world’s scorn and hatred of Christ and us, to suffer for his name’s sake so that he can use us to help bring in his kingdom on earth as in heaven. It is the type of power that doesn’t always bring immediate results; in fact, it is power that often looks like failure in the eyes of the world. And because it does not often meet our expectations of what real power looks like—the ability to impose our will and views on others, to stop at nothing in an effort to obtain security and wealth and status—we often mistake God’s power for weakness and timidity, and we treat it scornfully.

This is nothing new. Ask the surviving disciples on that Good Friday night if Christ was truly God’s Messiah and/or if they had seen God’s mighty power at work, and they would have looked at us like we had three heads. It took the power of the Resurrection for them to see that in the cross—a worldly sign of humanity’s ability to degrade, to torture, to humiliate—God’s power to forgive all our sins was at work and accomplishing God’s purposes. Nobody in Christ’s day expected a crucified God and many in our own day join with them despite the fact that we have 20-20 hindsight now. 

Yet it is only in Christ’s death and resurrection that we find forgiveness of our sins and the table set to have real reconciliation with God our Father, something the world has not seen since before the Fall and until God arrived on the scene in the person of Jesus to deal with our sins and hostility toward him. At just the right time, St. Paul tells us in Romans, Christ died for us, even though we were still God’s enemies. Before Christ and bereft of his Holy Spirit, none of us would even consider dying for our mortal enemies, and even with the Holy Spirit living in us and making Christ known and available to us, many of us still struggle with the notion of loving our enemies, let alone dying to save them because we are so profoundly broken. But this is exactly what we are called to do, and as St. Paul promises in our epistle lesson we do indeed have Christ’s power and presence in us in and through the presence of the Holy Spirit to transform us into the people God created us to be so that we will one day be fit to rule God’s new world, the new heavens and earth. 

So if this is true, why do we have stories like David and Bathsheba in our OT lesson? After all, here we have King David, the man after God’s own heart, who was clearly endowed with God’s Holy Spirit even before the Spirit was made available to all God’s people at and after Pentecost, involved in one of the most sordid stories in all the Bible. In this story, we see God’s man commit adultery and then murder to cover it up to save his own skin (adultery was a capital offense in Israel, even for a king). And it was a murder committed with great cynicism and malice aforethought to boot. Not only did David violate the commandments to not commit murder, he also violated three others: he coveted his neighbor’s wife, stole her from her husband, and lied about it. Five out of ten is an impressive batting average, even for the worst sinners among us, let alone God’s anointed king. How could this have happened? In David’s case, there were some unfortunate circumstances involved, but we all have endured those before, often without sin. No, the bottom line is that David let his sin-sickness control him and the results were catastrophic, just as all sin is. In great understatement the writer ends this sordid story by observing succinctly that the thing David did displeased God. You don’t need reality TV. Just pick up your Bible and read it if you want to see humans at their worst. But unlike reality TV, you will actually profit from reading and pondering these stories.

All this can be terribly unnerving. Are God’s promises false? Was St. Paul delusional in praying his prayer found in our epistle lesson? Some would say yes. After all, we all know stories of religious leaders missing the mark and falling into catastrophic and grievous sin. You all have to put up with me on a regular basis, surely proof positive that God’s promises have failed! But for those of us who pay attention to these things, for every failure we can count many more successes in our lives and the lives of those we love. Think of serious illnesses that were healed. Think of hopelessly damaged relationships restored. Think on the fact that all of us here are reconciled to God while none of us deserve a lick of it! No, the power of God is real, even if at times it can certainly be unpredictable and enigmatic. But we must keep our eyes focused on Christ our prize, for only in and through his power do we have any hope of overcoming our sin-sickness and enjoying eternal life with him now and forever. In this world there will always be heartache and failure; after all, we live in a cursed world ravaged by human sin that naturally separates us and keeps us alienated to God our Father, the Source and Author of all life and health. Thus we suffer and fail. But there is also victory and healing and redemption in this world and I would boldly suggest that our little parish is a microcosm of God’s victory on our behalf in and through Christ, warts and all. Despite the fact that we are losers and ragamuffins, we are a family who love each other and support each other, despite the times when we irritate each other. We are usually patient and kind and (hopefully) forgiving of each other. We care for each other and enjoy sweet fellowship despite our differences. These are all signs of God’s power at work in us because none of this is possible without Christ in our midst and as our Center. And if you think otherwise, you are the one who is delusional, not St. Paul.

I close with a story from The Way of a Pilgrim that illustrates how Christ typically works in his people. 

We sat down to table and the officer began his story: “I have served in the army ever since I was quite young. I knew my duties and was a favorite of my superiors as a conscientious officer. But I was young, as were also my friends, and unhappily I started drinking. It went from bad to worse until drinking became an illness. When I did not drink, I was a good officer, but when I would start drinking, then I would have to go to bed for six weeks. My superiors were patient with me for a long time, but finally, for rudeness to the commanding officer while I was drunk, they reduced my rank to private and transferred me to a garrison for three years. They threatened me with more severe punishment if I would not improve and give up drinking. In this unfortunate condition all my efforts at self-control were of no avail and I could not stay sober for any length of time. Then I heard that I was to be sent to the guardhouse and I was beside myself with anguish.

“One day I was sitting in the barracks deep in thought. A monk came in to beg alms for the church. Those who had money gave what they could. When he approached me he asked, ‘Why are you so downcast?’ We started talking and I told him the cause of my grief. The monk sympathized with my situation and said, ‘My brother was once in a similar position, and I will tell you how he was cured. His spiritual father gave him a copy of the Gospels and strongly urged him to read a chapter whenever he wanted to take a drink. If the desire for a drink did not leave him after he read one chapter he was encouraged to read another and if necessary still another. My brother followed this advice, and after some time he lost all desire for alcoholic beverages. It is now fifteen years since he has touched a drop of alcohol. Why don’t you do the same, and you will discover how beneficial the reading of the Gospels can be. I have a copy at home and will gladly bring it to you.’

“I wasn’t very open to this idea so I objected, ‘How can your Gospels help when neither my efforts at self-control nor medical aid could keep me sober?’ I spoke in this way because I never read the Gospels.

“‘Give it a chance,’ continued the monk reassuringly, ‘and you will find it very helpful.’

“The next day he brought me this copy of the Gospels. I opened it, browsed through it, and said, ‘I will not take it, for I cannot understand it.’

“The monk did not give up but continued to encourage me and explained that God’s special power is present in the Gospel through his words. He went on, ‘At the beginning be concerned only with reading it diligently; understanding will come later. One holy man says that “even when you don’t understand the word of God, the demons do, and they tremble”; and the passion for drink is without a doubt their work. And St. John Chrysostom in speaking about the power of the word of God says that the very room where the Gospel is kept has the power to ward off the spirits of darkness and thwart their intrigues.’

“I do not recall what I gave the monk when I took the copy of the Gospels from him, but I placed the book in my trunk with my other belongings and forgot about it. Some time later a strong desire to have a drink took hold of me and I opened the trunk to get some money and run to the tavern. But I saw the copy of the Gospels before I got to the money and I remembered clearly what the monk had told me. I opened the book and read the first chapter of Matthew without understanding anything. Again I remembered the monk’s words, ‘At the beginning be concerned only with reading it diligently; understanding will come later.’ So I read another chapter and found it a bit more comprehensible. Shortly after I began reading the third chapter, the curfew bell rang and it was no longer possible for me to leave the barracks.

“In the morning my first thought was to get a drink, but then I decided to read another chapter to see what would happen. I read it and did not go. Again I wanted a drink, but I started reading and I felt better. This gave me courage, and with every temptation for a drink I began reading a chapter from the Gospels. The more I read, the easier it became, and when I finally finished reading all four Gospels the compulsion for drink had disappeared completely; I was repelled by the very thought of it. It is now twenty years since I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages.

“Everyone was surprised at the change that took place in me, and after three years I was reinstated as an officer and then climbed up the ranks until I was made a commanding officer. Later I married a fine woman; we have saved some money, which we now share with the poor. Now I have a grown son who is a fine lad and he also is an officer in the army.”

Notice first how Christ used human agency (the monk) to introduce the young soldier to his Gospel. Notice how the monk abandoned his agenda (begging alms for the church), at least temporarily, to address a person’s needs that he perceived. We have to be ready to see others in pain if we ever hope to help them address it. Notice too the monk’s gentle persistence and the faith he had in the transformative power of the Gospel in people’s lives, a faith based, in part, on past experience.

Next, pay attention to how Christ used circumstance instead of understanding to stay the young soldier’s hand from drinking. He read the Gospel without understanding it, but was prevented from going on a drinking binge because he had lingered too long in his quarters to read it. Was it really coincidence that the soldier found the gospels before he got to his drinking money? This is how God typically works to control the circumstances of our lives in a wise and loving way, but we have to pay attention to realize it!

Finally, mark how understanding occurs—through persistent reading. Ask anyone who reads the Bible regularly and systematically and you will hear this same answer. God grants understanding to humble minds willing to submit to his word (as opposed to trying to make his word submit to their agendas, which sadly many try to do, especially today) through our persistent reading of his word. God doesn’t beat us over the head to make us learn (usually). Instead he uses ordinary people and circumstances along with our own efforts to speak to and transform us. God can use even less than ideal circumstances to break through to us, as the young solder discovered. That may not be sexy enough for some of us but it is much more effective over the long haul because God respects us and our relational integrity. So if you are struggling with your faith, do the things that will cultivate Christ’s power. I beseech you, my beloved. Give yourself completely to Christ if you have not done so already. Please. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid. He loves you and he will not ultimately fail you because he is the only one who remains faithful to the Father! Cultivate his presence and power. He is our only hope to rescue and heal us from our sin-sickness! Read Scripture regularly. Partake in the Holy Eucharist as St. John exhorts us to do in our gospel lesson (listen if you have ears). Enjoy sweet fellowship with God’s faithful people, remembering our Lord’s promise to his fearful disciples in the midst of a life-threatening storm. Don’t be afraid, it is me, and only I have the power to save you. I know your lives are no less stormy. Trust in my power, and if you begin to doubt that power, meditate on my death and resurrection because in these events are your only hope and future. Doing so will remind you of the surprising and sometimes unpredictable power of God. Now to him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever.

In the name of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Father Philip Sang: Bringing Down the Walls

Sermon delivered on Trinity 7B, Sunday, July 18, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Like Father Wylie, Father Sang gets all whiny when we ask for a written manuscript. Nobody’s got time for yet another whiny priest so click here to listen to the audio podcast of his sermon.

Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 7.1-14a; Psalm 89.20-37; Ephesians 2.11-22; St. Mark 6.30-34, 53-56.

Father Jonathon Wylie: How to Be Courageous

Sermon delivered on Trinity 6B, Sunday, July 11, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Father Wylie gets all whiny when we ask for a written manuscript. Nobody’s got time for a whiny priest so click here to listen to the audio podcast of his sermon.

Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 6.1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1.3-14; St. Mark 6.14-29.

Father Santosh Madanu: Who Can Save You When You Reject the One Who Saves—Jesus the Messiah?

Sermon delivered on Trinity 5B, Sunday, July 4, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: 2 Samuel 5.1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12.2-10; St. Mark 6.1-13.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we pray that this world may see you with spiritual eye to recognize you as the son of God

HAPPY AND BLESSED INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day, the Fourth (4th) of July is a public holiday in the United States of America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies to be free from British rule.

Freedom is an inalienable gift of God to His children.  All the fundamental rights would make the person for what they are.  The Bill of Rights protects freedom of life

  • Right to self-determination. Right to liberty.  Right to due process of law. Right to freedom of movement. Right to privacy. Right to freedom of thought. Right to freedom of religion. Right to freedom of expression.
  • The freedom of will and conscience helps us to have the liberty and justice to life the godly life with kingdom virtues and values.
  • We thank God the almighty that we are able to enjoy these fundamental freedoms in the United Nations.  We all know there are many even today in many countries have no fundamental freedoms.  They are still treated as slaves in many ways.

Let us reflect the gospel passage: Mark 6:1-13

Jesus was rejected by His own people from his own town – Nazareth.  Because they see him with human eyes rather than eye of faith

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”   
Isaiah 61:1-2

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He said to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-21) The promise and prophecy are being fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is very profound statement. Jesus returns to the town where he grew up and starts a public ministry. One Saturday, he goes to the front of the synagogue – the Jewish house of worship where he spent many Saturdays as a kid — and reads a famous Messianic passage from the Prophet Isaiah. He finishes the prophecy – one that Jewish people had read for nearly 700 years – by identifying himself as the one spoken of by Isaiah.

Jesus rejected in his hometown of Nazareth – The Result

Jesus goes off and gets baptized by John at the river, runs off to the mountains for 40 days, and comes back revealing himself as the long-awaited Messiah to his hometown congregation.

Needless to say, the people were a bit skeptical. Then, Jesus calls them out and challenges their doubt. He points to past Hebrew generations that also doubted the scriptures and the prophets. Ultimately, the townspeople get angry and even try to kill Jesus by throwing him off a local hillside.

WHAT A TRAGIDY! Rejecting Jesus the true messiah

Who all those rejected Jesus?

His relatives and friends and his own town members rejecting Jesus- the anointed messiah.

The Jews, Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the Law.

Today Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Jainism, Buddhism and Gnostics and so on.

Can anyone have a being and have a hope of redemption without Jesus of Nazareth?

No one can be saved without the grace of Jesus Christ.

Have you been rejected by your own family, friends, relatives and community? If yes.  Then know this even Jesus is rejected and suffered the pain of rejection. Jesus understands our pain and loss of love from our own community. Many of the prophets were rejected by their own people. St Paul was rejected and his message was rejected.  He was in physical pain till his death. But he kept on going to place to place with the gospel of grace and power of Christ Jesus.

St. Paul in today’s 2 Cor 12: 7-9 speaking about a thorn in the flesh.  We all suffer physically, mentally and emotionally for various reasons, especially for being a missionary for the kingdom of God.  This is the promise of the Lord “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

Sending Out the Twelve:

The vision of Jesus Christ – Mission of Jesus Christ in sending the twelve disciples

What should be the character of a disciple of the Lord Jesus?

FRIENDSHIP GROWS OUT OF DISCIPLESHIP Disciples have to go through training, but once we graduate from discipleship, we become friends of the Lord. The Lord said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:12-15) More than just friends, we are called to be the relatives of our Lord, for He said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mt 12:49f) When we are friends of God, there is nothing we will not do for the Lord, and there is nothing the Lord will not do for us! Faith in God depends on how intimate we are with Him.

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

Work of God Jesus is the saving grace to the believers.

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” When Jesus was looking for workers in his harvest field, whom did he choose? Certainly not from the religious class! No learned Pharisees and stoic Sadducees, and no expert Scripture scribes! Rather he chose them from among his ordinary disciples. And there’s a good reason Jesus did that. They had a certain quality that he couldn’t find among the religious people. His disciples had a deep desire and willingness to learn from him. A “disciple” basically means a “follower” and a“learner”. 

It was a whole new teaching and radical teaching the Lord Jesus

And God gives these the strength to withstand the world and its temptations as they continue to live with Jesus and learn from him how to honor and glorify God. So Jesus equipped them with what was necessary in doing the work of God. How then did he equip them, and with what? Read verse 1 “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.   Spiritual authority! The world is sick with the plague of sin which brings about diseased hearts and minds, and unholy possessions from evil spirits. Human technologies cannot cure the hearts and souls of people. Only God can heal them. It takes God’s authority to do the job! 

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Those who are called for kingdom work need to believe this otherwise their labor is in vain.

What’s an apostle? He is “one who is sent out”.  Jesus at this point began to recognize his disciples as apostles! In other words, those who are sent out— men with a mission from God. Christ’s ambassadors to all people 

Now let’s consider the principles of gospel work which Jesus gave his apostles when he sent them out into the harvest field.

First, be a witness to others. (5-6) look at verses 5b and 6. “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” Jesus taught his disciples something very precious— who to witness to first. They need to first witness to the closest people. In other words, evangelism should first start where you are. 

Second, declare the message of the kingdom of God. (7) Read verse 7. “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’” That’s what was on Jesus’ heart! The kingdom of God! Jesus told them to declare the message of the kingdom of heaven. It was and still is the message of prime importance. It’s the message of hope. 

Third, “Heal the sick.” (8) Read verse 8. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.Freely you have received, freely give.” This is the character of Jesus’ ministry! It’s a ministry of preaching and of healing. It’s a ministry of compassion and sacrifice. 

Fourth, depend only on God, and nothing else. (9-10) Read verse 9. “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts.” A servant of the kingdom should always depend on God and on nothing else. 

Fifth, establish one person. (11-15) Read verse 11. “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.” Jesus told his disciples to look for one worthy person and stay with them. Who’s a worthy person? A worthy person is any person genuinely searching for the truth of God.

Sixth, expect persecution. (16-31) everywhere there is a work of God going on, there is also always Satan there doing his own work. So Jesus prepared his apostles to expect persecutions— under God’s sovereignty. 

Needed the good-committed missionaries.  One missionary can make a difference in the lives of many thousands.  Example of a missionary in North India namely Israel baptized about 30 thousand Hindus as they got converted to the Lord and preached to millions of people with his simple and humble life of Christ. An ordinary professor of the college became missionary with his family lived poor life- with minimum expense about $150 per month even today.

Seventh, acknowledge the name of Jesus. (32-42) Read verse 32. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” Jesus wants his disciples to acknowledge him before the whole world. That’s the same as a confession of faith in Jesus.  Therefore, to acknowledge his name is not a private matter. 

In verses 34-42 Jesus tells all of us something very true about the Christian life! It’s a spiritual battle that requires loyalty to Jesus and to the gospel. Christian life is costly. And we need to bear that cost— willingly. You should first accept the authority he gives you serve his kingdom. 

I would like to share a story:

Once a group of blind people went to beautiful park and asked the photographer to take their photos individually and in group in different areas of park.  People in the park wondering why these blind people are taking their photos when they cannot see themselves.  

What do you think? Then one in the park asked them why you want your pictures taken? Then one of them said I go to the person who can see and ask him about my continence, color of my dress and about the garden and so on. And I get to know everything.  In the same way we need to go to the Lord Jesus to know about the heaven and paradise that St. Paul speaking in his letter about the paradise.

Jesus says John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Revelation 2:7 to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

  • Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven ( 2 Kings 2:11)
  • Ezekiel saw the heaven opened and had seen the vision of God. ( Ezekiel 1:1)

Therefore dear brothers and sisters in Christ we are all assured of resurrection in Christ Jesus.  Let us believe it even when we face the real struggles of sickness and death of our beloved ones. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus may we receive your grace and power in our weaknesses, sicknesses and struggles of life. Spirit of God bless us to be willing to go where ever your Spirit leads us to do the evangelization and to be good harvesters, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Independence Day 2021: The Full Text of America’s National Anthem

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so galantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star’spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’ver the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confustion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out there foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

—Written by Francis Scott Key, 1814

Independence Day 2021: George Washington’s First Inaugural Address of 1789

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

Read it all.

Independence Day 2021: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble to the Constitution
Read it all.

Would that God raise up leaders for us who would speak to the vision and ideals laid out in our Constitution’s Preamble instead of creating rancor and division by engaging in partisan and petty politics and playing the shame and victim’s game. There is much talk of justice, but not about justice for all, including those tasked with insuring domestic Tranquility. Where fearless leaders are desperately needed who are steeped in our nation’s history and willing to carry on the many good traditions of this country while addressing the bad ones, generally I see only weak and spineless politicians (I cannot call them leaders because they fail to lead) who cower at the mob because they are clueless about their own nation’s heritage (or even worse, hostile to it). It’s a sad state of affairs and simultaneously infuriating. There has been much blood shed to defend our nation and its great heritage, and those politicians who refuse to honor our Constitution’s Preamble by defending it not only betray those who elected them to office but also bring dishonor to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country. May the good citizens of this country condemn this behavior by voting them out of office this November. This Independence Day, pray for our nation. We are in desperate need of God’s blessings.

Independence Day 2021: Lincoln on the Declaration of Independence and the 4th of July

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In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that “the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!”

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as “his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

Some good stuff here. See what you think.

Independence Day 2021: Today in History

From here:

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In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France’s intervention on behalf of the Patriots.

Read it all and give thanks to God for this country of ours.

Independence Day 2021: The Declaration of Independence

With the forces of lawlessness and mob rule that are attempting to wipe out this country’s history and identity in order to destroy it, it is critical that we know the principles contained in our nation’s founding documents on which our country is based. Take the time to read and reflect on the Declaration of Independence and give thanks to God for this great nation of ours, warts and all.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration of Independence

Read it all.

Another Prayer for Independence Day 2021

Lord God Almighty,
you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory,
to serve you in freedom and in peace:
Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice
and the strength of forbearance,
that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever. Amen.

A Prayer for Independence Day 2021

Lord God Almighty,
in whose Name the founders of this country
won liberty for themselves and for us,
and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn:
Grant that we and all the people of this land
may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.