Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hymn 54 - Alleluia, Song of Sweetness - 28 February 2017, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

If you prefer, an easy to read and print READER version is RIGHT HERE!

3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. 4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. 5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. 6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.   (Psalm 68:3-6)

1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:  (Rev 19:1)

            The first occurrence of the word, Alleluia, appears in Revelations 19:1 above. It is in the context of the highest form of praise recorded in Scripture – that of much people in Heaven. It comes at the moment of great celebration at the coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Last Supper of our Lord was a prefiguration of that Wedding Supper to which all of the elect shall appear. But the same term is included in a number of the Psalms of David under a different expression – Praise Ye the Lord which is expressed in Hebrew as Alleluia. 

            The liturgy of the Mediaeval Church forbade the use of Alleluia from the Saturday before Septuagesima until Easter. The Hymnal 1940 Companionp 41. This was more a matter of Roman superstition than of reason and biblical logic. It is appropriate we praise the Lord even in adversity and the contemplated sorrows of the approaching Lenten season.

            This is a translation by John Mason Neale from the Latin, 11th century. Tune: Dulce Carmen.

Alleluia, Song of Sweetness

Alleluia, song of sweetness,
voice of joy that cannot die;
alleluia is the anthem
ever raised by choirs on high;
in the house of God abiding
thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia thou resoundest,
true Jerusalem and free;
alleluia, joyful mother,
all thy children sing with thee;
but by Babylon's sad waters
mourning exiles now are we.

Alleluia cannot always
be our song while here below;
alleluia our transgressions
make us for awhile forgo;
fort the solemn time is coming
when our tears for sin must flow.

Therefore in our hymns we pray thee,
grant us, blessed Trinity,
at the last to keep thine Easter,
in our home beyond the sky,
there to thee for ever singing
alleluia joyfully.

            Alleluia, song of sweetness, voice of joy that cannot die; alleluia is the anthem ever raised by choirs on high; in the house of God abiding thus they sing eternally. Choirs on high do surely raise the anthems of praise. As the beggar Lazarus abode in blissful joy in the bosom of Abraham so do the peoples of Heaven abide in joy beyond the Gates of Splendor. The voice of joy is eternal and does not distill in the higher atmospheres of the Throne of God. ‘Praise Ye the Lord’ says enough to make the anthem immortal. When the soul is filled, brim-full, with joy; it is nigh impossible to suppress songs of praise. In the presence of God, there is no recourse but to remember the blessings of God in praise and the songs of the heart.

            Alleluia thou resoundest, true Jerusalem and free; alleluia, joyful mother, all thy children sing with thee; but by Babylon's sad waters mourning exiles now are we. There is truly a kind of Heaven on earth that is precursor to that which is above. We catch glimpses of it in the beauty of a child’s laughter, the budding of a rose, and the purring of a kitten. We know of it in moments of silent meditation upon new diamonds of truth from Scripture which we have discovered for the first time. That Jerusalem of present-day Judaea is not the Jerusalem of our final destination. That Jerusalem to which we pay homage is the New Jerusalem of God. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:2) We may feel disposed to do as Israel did in the Babylon of the world: 1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?  (Psalm 137:1-4) In the world, we are pilgrims and strangers. Is it any wonder that the world should appear as a strange land to the people of God?

           Alleluia cannot always be our song while here below; alleluia our transgressions make us for awhile forgo; for the solemn time is coming when our tears for sin must flowWhy can Alleluia not ALWAYS be our song here below? It is because we cannot remain on the spiritual mountaintop indefinitely. We must descend to the fertile plains where the fields are white for the harvest. In doing so, we come among the mundane attractions that sometimes deter us from a fixed compass on our True North. Sin, even that of the Elect, separates the believer from God. It needs repenting of as we do in every Morning & Evening Prayer, and the Holy Communion. Our firm faith and devotion are interrupted by sin. But even a magnetic compass, though it fluctuates with the storms and billows of the sea, will again return to its proper reading as the storm subsides. If our sins do not compel tearful repentance, it may be that we have not repented enough.

            Therefore in our hymns we pray thee, grant us, blessed Trinity, at the last to keep thine Easter, in our home beyond the sky, there to thee for ever singing alleluia joyfully. Every believing heart has a Christmas Season and an Easter. There is a new birth in which our hearts are born anew at the coming of Christ into the formerly vacant chambers of the heart. That moment is the Bethlehem of our pilgrimage. Then comes the Easter of our Joys in which our calling and election are made steadfast by the completed work of Christ – not only at the cross – not only in the Garden Tomb – but in the glorious resurrection of our Lord. It is by this wise that we come into a full communion with the Trinity of God having become ONE with Christ as He is ONE with the Father and the Spirit. The true Christian has a veritable joy of eternal bliss as his prospects in the Eternity of God and His Heaven. Does this not cause you to want to break out in songs of praise and joy?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

AOC Sunday Report for Quinquagesima, which is the Sunday next before Lent

The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
This is the link to the AOC Sunday Report for Quinquagesima.

Sermon Notes - Quinquagesima - Saint Andrews Anglican Church - 26 February 2017, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

If you enjoy this the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
The Sunday called Quinquagesima, or the
Sunday next before before Lent.
The Collect.

 LORD who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

hen he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.  35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
(Luke 18:31-43)

            We discover in today’s Gospel reading comparison of two forms of blindness and helplessness: the first of the spiritual is the more serious; and the second is that of the physical. 

            Before delving into the heart of the account of the Apostles’ blindness and that of Bartimaeus, let us first observe the context of the scene:

The Opening
Jesus and the apostles are bound for Jerusalem by way of Jericho. The purpose of this last trip to Jerusalem is only too well understood by our Lord – it has been a matter that has shadowed His walk from the wooden crib at Bethlehem to the wooden cross at Golgotha. Now the appointed time draws near – in fact, a matter of days (perhaps one week). If you or I were diagnosed with a deadly disease that would end our lives in one week, attended by the most excruciating pain, it is doubtful that we would continue in our calling to dedicate that little balance of time in teaching and helping others so.  But Jesus did as many good works and miracles in his last few days as at any other time in His ministry. He was faithful and persevering until the very end. May we be similarly disposed though we could never reach that high mark of Christ.

The Beginning of the Occasion
Jesus calls His apostles aside and informs them in very plain terms of the fate that awaits Him at Jerusalem: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted onAnd they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. Note, in the first place, that this fate is well prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures and available to all to read. (all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.) Not SOME things, but rather ALL things. A serious Bible scholar of the time would have picked this up from reading the Scriptures. The Scribes and Pharisees were, indeed, Bible scholars and they knew all that was prophesied of Christ, but chose to ignore it in favor of their greed and obstinacy. 

Though told by Christ DIRECTLY and in DETAIL of the events to occur in Jerusalem, the apostles were made blind to those events; so why did Christ tell them? “34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” Our Lord was making preparation for their spiritual understanding which would cpome to light following those events. This was an affectionate kindness displayed by our Lord to the apostles. How would they be able to carry on if they fully understood those things beforehand? So, Jesus tells them at this time so that they would fully understand after the crucifixion the Prophets had already revealed it to all who would have their minds and hearts open to that understanding.

But there is also another spiritual blindness that renders the soul destitute and naked of the benefits of salvation. That is the darkness and blindness that separates a soul from its Maker. It is oftentimes a willing blindness such as that of the Scribes, Pharisees and Jewish rulers of that day.

Physical Blindness Compared to the Lost Sinner:
Now, as Jesus approaches Jericho, there is a situation that perfectly fits the condition of each of us before we came to Christ. It is the story of blind Bartimaeus. (see Mark 10:46) This poor fellow had been blind for as long as he could remember. He was helpless in his condition. Family or friends had to bring him daily to this familiar sight beside the Jericho Road where he begged for a pittance of the passersby. Our Lord, too, knew of blind Bartemaeus. Even before he had been conceived in His mother’s womb, our Lord saw blind Bartimaeus sitting there begging. He had kept Bartimaeus in the “apple of His eye” all those years for He had a special plan and purpose for Bartimaeus – just as He has for all to whom He comes and heals. 

Bartimaeus was desperately poor as well as blind. Perchance, a blind man from a wealthy family would have had greater leisure; but to be both blind and poor is so very much like the sinner for whom Christ came to save. It is not certain Bartimaeus would have ever called out to the Lord had he been blessed with perfect vision and a means of livelihood. It is true that the blind and poor can appreciate full vision and a means of living better than those for whom it comes naturally. God placed blind Bartimaeus beside the road for the purpose of blessing him, not for his hurt. He knew from ages past that Bartimaues would receive a greta blessing that would radically change his life on this very Spring day in Judaea. No man could remedy the want and poverty of Bartimaeus but that One Man of Galilee who was walking, at this very moment, toward where he sat. Though we are not able to choose Christ, He is able to come to us where we are.

The Blind Man’s Prayer
There is not much evidence to suggest that Bartimaeus had ever found the faith to pray until this very moment. Though he was blind, his sense of hearing had been made profoundly keen by the absence of the loss of sight. He used every sensible resource left him to compensate for his blindness. He had listened patiently to the accounts of transients passing on the road of a Savior who could heal the leper, make the lame to walk, cast out devils, raise the dead from the tomb, and, yes, restore sight to the blind! Though we may know the scriptures by heart, if we are spiritually blind, we can never behold their beauty. Bartimaeus desired, above all else, to see the beauty that he heard described about him of the flowers; the green, leafy trees; the butterflies, and the jubilant children playing. But Bartimaeus would soon see more than these. 

Bartimaeus heard the commotion of a large crowd of people approaching. He inquired of the men walking by who told him it was JESUS. But wait! Was this not the same of whom he had heard so much! He wasted no time – and neither should any who stand at the abyss of Hell burdened by their sins. “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Well, this is a very simple prayer – not articulated in grand vocabulary, but in simplicity. Note that Bartimaeus asks no great thing of Christ except MERCY! He knows if the Lord grants MERCY, then all other things of benefit will attend that mercy. Notice also that he addresses Christ in the proper title and respect. He does not shout out, “Hey, Man, gi’ me a break!” or some other vulgar nonsense, but in reverence and proper tone. So should we address the High Sovereign of all Sovereigns. This is an effectual prayer uttered from both need and faith. 

The Response of Those With Christ
39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Be careful, brothers and sisters, in getting out ahead of the Lord. Heed the counsel of the Psalmist: 14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord(Psalm 27:14) When we begin to do the work of the Lord according to our own counsel we are bound to go amiss. These men who were nearest to Christ were the very ones who attempted to prevent the one who needed the Lord most from coming to Him. Have we done likewise unwittingly?  But those men could not discourage Bartimaeus. He persisted even more ardently: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

The Response of Our Lord Jesus Christ
40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him. The simple prayer of Bartimaeus stopped our Lord in His tracks. God always has ears for the prayer uttered out of great need and faith. Our Good Shepherd always finds occasion to stop for those who need Him most, and call upon Him in faith. He will stop and listen. Have you tried that approach in times of dire need? I believe it is important to observe the Lord commanded the blind man be brought unto Him” The Lord gives His servants the privilege of a role in bringing His chosen before Him. 

The Results of Bartimaeus’ Prayer
It is clear all who simply pray frivolous and faithless prayers will not get the desired answer to that prayer. The Lord will examine the heart of the supplicant just as He examines that of Bartimaeus. He does so for the purpose of public testimony for He already knows the heart of Bartimaeus. 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. Only upon receiving acknowledging mercy from the Lord does the blind man make his deepest desire known – “that I may receive my sight.” He does not ask the Lord IF He can heal his blindness – he already knows that fact with the certainty of faith. Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. Note that the eyesight of Bartimaeus was granted, but something altogether MORE! That other thing was SALVATION!  thy faith hath saved thee.

The Response of Bartimaeus
How can one be cured of such a debilitating malady and not rejoice? How can one be saved from a life of decadence and ruin without glorifying the Lord who granted it? “43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God.” When your eyes were first opened to the Gospel of Christ, and His salvation, how did you respond? Hopefully, in the same manner as Bartimaeus! We immediately drop our mundane affections and follow Christ – IMMEDIATELY! And every step of the way, we glorify the Giver of all Mercies! 

The Response of the Crowd
How do those about us react to the witness of a newfound salvation? How did the Samaritans react to the testimony of the Woman of ill-repute who met Jesus at the Well of Jacob? THEY BELIEVED HER! She had a newfound authority and credibility which she had lacked before Christ. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast(Eph 2:8-9) The men beside the road at Jericho that day had seen the blind man daily begging there in that same place; but now, they say a new man – a man restored in his vision, but also in his soul! and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Friends, it is hoped that those around us KNOW that we are the Children of God, and that they will be moved to praise God for the outward, and inward, blessings of which we have been recipients from His Mercy and Grace!

Quinquagesima, which is the Sunday next before Lent

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

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

Consider these words from the Collect:

… 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.”

Charity is the purest form of love there is, with no self-seeking motivations, just the goodness of God in it; this is the love that God gives to us to give to others. As the collect points out it is the very bond of peace and of all virtues. In other words, love is the bond that holds peace and is behind all virtious qualities that can be found in people though the help of the Holy Ghost. Love is one of the prime driving forces of the Christian Faith, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that causes God’s cause to be advanced here on earth. It is a purely unselfish emotion, in its purest form it is an emotion that does not cause evil or bad things to happen, but to cause wonderful and good things to happen. It stems forth from God the Father, spreads through Jesus and the Holy Ghost and when we open our hearts to it, we can do some really amazing things,

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; 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 effect positive change on the world around us?

In connection with the Collect, the Collect talks about one who is brought before God without love in his heart is a dead person. Paul makes this very point in his Epistle, saying that no matter what talents we have, without the Love of God in our hearts, it is all for naught.  He is the reason we are here in this life and He is the one we must act for.   It must be clear to us that our understanding here on earth is limited, while here we will never 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 Plan, 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. Charity is vital to our Christian life. We need to have it within us to perform good works for Our Lord.  For if we do not have true love or Charity within our hearts, we cannot act for God. 

Having Love in our hearts is a must if we are to perform actions for Him here on this world. In order to have love in our hearts, we must be open to the Holy Spirit. Only then can we truly receive His Love to spread around. And do not fret, there is an unlimited supply of love for everyone. 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. This is the key and it applies to us as well. 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.  Knowing what we want, we should not let others in this life rebuff us and hinder us from following Him. This is one of many lessons we can take from the blind man.

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.  He lacked sight, 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 he acted on and gained what he lacked.  Will we have the faith to act?

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

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.

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] 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 FaithHope 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 all three persisted and of the three, Charity never failed.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sluggards, Ants and Palace Spiders – 23 February 2017, Anno Domini

If you prefer there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)

10 . . . .  if any would not work, neither should he eat.  (2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV)

            I suppose that each of us possess either the character of the ant, or the slovenly disposition of the sluggard – or perhaps a combination of the two. This contrast in characteristics should not be confused with those of Martha and Mary of Bethany. Martha possessed a Type A personality and constantly felt the need to be about useful labors. Mary, on the other hand, was a thoughtful and reflective lady who considered the matters of the soul of greater need for attention than those of the hands. She loved to sit at the feet of Jesus and hang on His every Word. Martha’s fault was not in overworking, but in murmuring disdainfully about her sister. The ant alone was like Martha; but neither was Mary a sluggard. If her hands were not applied to the labors of the moment, her heart was busy digesting the Words of her Lord. Our Lord commended Mary for that dedication of her heart. The issue was reduced to a matter of PRIORITIES!

            The Bible is full of meaningful illustrations. The ant and the sluggard represent only two contrasting types of people – those who are industrious and dutiful to meet their obligations; and those who would rather relax and allow others to produce the benefits to society which the sluggard will lay claim to. This is socialism (welfarism) manifested in its purest form. It exists abundantly in the Church. Let’s examine, first, the qualities of the ANT.

           The ANT is quite inconspicuous in its appearance and size. Many pass under our feet daily without our notice. Their small size, in itself, makes a major point for consideration. Small size is not an impediment to service. From the smallest little girl to the most muscular man, service is measured by determination, perseverance and commitment. The ANT lacks none of these qualities, but the muscular man be desperately lacking in those attributes. We may be insignificant in the eyes of the world, but a small heart, dedicated to the Lord, can achieve more than the world is able to dream. Likewise, an ant may lift up to fifty times its own weight. This qualifies them as the strongest creatures, for size, of God’s Creation.

            The ANT epitomizes the ideal of industry. They never stop their labors. They traverse great distances in search of provender and, when they have found it, are able to communicate their find, and its location, to the colony. The queen ant does not take precedence over the others, and does not dictate to them. It is not necessary. Each ant performs its God-given duties as a matter of choice and develops a highly refined division of labor within the colony. The younger ants often remain in the nest to care for the queen and other housekeeping chores while the older ants go out in church of food. This division of labor is worthy of emulation in the Church. 

Instead of being jealous of the labors and recognition others receive for the talents they share, should we not strive more diligently to invest our own talents in contributing to the overall good of the Church and her work? As well, we should be tireless in sharing the Gospel to every dark corner of the world.

            The ant is the most persevering of any creature. Destroy their ant hill, and they will immediately set about rebuilding it. Wash them from their trail on the window sill and they will continue to re-establish the same trail. They are quite the entrepreneur. If you hang a feeder containing sweet juice from the window seal to feed hummingbirds, and any of the juice drips out onto the ground several feet below, the ants will find a way to climb the walls of the house, find the wire from which the feeder hangs, and use it to rappel to the source of the sweets. 

The aphids and rollie-pollies you may witness in their company are kept for the benefit of the colony as men keep cattle. They use the milky fluids excreted by these for food. They protect, defend, and house these creatures.  

Some species of ant also actually engage in farming. In Arizona, a particular species of ant will carry seed of a certain plant to a point above the colony beneath the ground. There they plant the seed. As the seed sprouts, the root goes deep into the ground and into the enclosure of the ant colony. The root secretes a food product that the ants consume. The ant sets a good example for the Christian. Not only are they busy in the labors of their bodies, but also in their minds to plan and execute the plan. We have received valuable seed from the Lord. We must not be remiss in planning.

Lawlessness in the ant colony does not exist. The laws of the colony strictly apply to every member of it. Work and responsibility are the heralds of behavior there. Were this only so of the modern church! Everyone seems to resist the authority of the church order – even of Holy Scripture. Everyone wants to make the decision for color of carpet or drapes, of the placing of furniture, of the layout of the church bulletin, and of what foods and beverages are served.  If 100% consensus were required, the church would be helpless to provide for itself. We are often more hung up on the non-essentials than of the essentials. As long as we have the most imposing structure (which does not define a church) we will abide whatever apostate lies are preached from the pulpit. But the most glorious principle of the church is that we be of One Mind with the Lord our God.

Are we better than the lowly spider? Have we ever lived in a king’s palace? Well, spiders do live in the most prestigious of homes, including king’s palaces:  28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces. (Proverbs 30:28) Perhaps we are no better after all. Perhaps we have a far higher opinion of ourselves than we should deserve. In fact, we are worthless without the grace and mercy of God to love us enough to lift us from the lowest parts of the earth and save us.

Do we live in homes as secure and solid as the conie (rabbit).  26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks (Proverbs 30:26) The rabbit home in the rocks of the mountain remain unmoved for centuries after our palatial estates have rotted and fallen into ruin. Maybe the lesson for us is to build, likewise, upon that Solid Rock which is Christ!

Do we require being led about on a tether by some faithless and hypocritical minister? 27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands. (Proverbs 30:27) Better to dispense with that false prophet and find a man called of God who does not dictate to you but rather leads you in truth and love. I have argued biblical facts with churchmen who respond, “Well, I know that the Bible says differently, but I must go along with what my my preacher says!” Wow! That kind of logic and deception exceeds my ability to fathom.

If we do not, or do not WISH, to see the truth in the above indictment against SLUGGARDS, there is a high possibility that we are the SLUGGARD. What identifies the sluggard? In the first place, the sluggard never contributes meaningfully to the task at hand. He loves to watch, but not touch. If we are able to shame the sluggard to action, he moves with the agility of an Australian ‘Stoner’ sloth. He groans and complains constantly of his unfair workload. In the second place, the sluggard loves to stand on the sidelines and criticize the work of all others. He could never be accused of improperly executing a plan for he never attempts to do so; but he is quick to criticize the execution of others. He is very much like the armchair warrior that writes news reports of the battle, but only based on his observations made from a distance to it. As General Robert E. Lee mused after being criticized by news reports for the carnage of Antietam, “It turns out that we should have made our best reporters generals, and our best generals reporters.”

I must confess to having been a sluggard about many things that I should have done in my life and did not do; but God wants a ready spirit and a ready mind to obey and do those works to which He has called us. If we do so, our efforts will be minimal for He will do the heavy lifting for us. 

Are you an ANT for the work of the Lord or a SLUGGARD for the insatiable leisure of the soul and body?