"Wise Man?"

Wise man, wise man,
Where are you going?
Crossing the desert
To follow a star?

Wise man, wise man
What are you bringing
Some far-away king
From the Empire Bazaar?

Wise man, wise man
Waht will you do
With the hungry eyes
That are looking at you?

Wise man, wise man,
Can you pass by —-
Not seeing the waif
While watching the sky?

Wise man, wise man,
Which will it be?
For millions and millions
Are waiting to see.

rit by rod

"The Seven Deadly Sins" part 7

Since I have been writing about the seven deadly sins as listed by a 6th century AD pope, I will conclude by series of devotionals with one we can read in the letter to the Ephesians. The bible tells us that sin is more than just personal. Even though the Creation story in Genesis implies that sin resulted from Adam and Eve eating the apple off the tree, one of my seminary professors taught that sin was not related nearly so mo much from the apple on the tree as it was from the “pair on the ground!”

We humans are born possessing many desires and appetites. These are good or bad only in relationship to how they are perceived and how they are used. And that pertains to organizations and institutions as well as individuals. Sin is certainly relevant to large institutions and organizations that serve many people. The writer of Ephesians there puts it this way: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

The will of God is not always in line with majority rule or via a five to four vote in the Supreme Court. The Bible tells us: “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 6:29 (As a man I think I can safely say that God intended to include women in this order as well! Just in case we should ever get a female majority in congress!)

Ephesians, in the concluding chapter says. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 10, 14-15


"The Seven Deadly Sins" part 6

An Old, Very old, book in my library named ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION is the source I have used in listing the Seven deadly sins surrounding us humans in our cultural environment. It bears the copyright of 1945, which is the vintage of many of the books I own. But many of my colleagues in ministry says that when it come to sinning there is nothing new under the sun. In the same book sin is referred to as:”…distinguished from crime (violation of the civil law) and vice (immorality resulting from the disregarded of the social and ethical standards of society).” Sin is defined as “an act or attitude by which the reality of God is denied or violated.” So if you don’t believe in God, none of these devotional preparations will have any meaning for you.

Pope Gregory the Great’s listing of the seventh deadly sins is the sin of LUST. A man named John Cassian, a Monk of early Christian Monasticism, made a list of eight deadly sins a century before Gregory made his list of seven. In Cassian’s list, his number 2 sin was FORNICATION. That is a word that could be similar to LUST. as both are tied to human sexuality. However LUST is a word that can be tied to other passions. We can, for instance lust after things. And the current passion for an addiction to min-altering drugs is something that addicts lust for. - and would do anything or say anything to get.

The current understanding of LUST, I think, is related to human sexuality, which, it seems to me gives sex a bad name. And that’s too bad because non of us would be here without it. (Maybe the current discovery of the cloning might make that statement untrue). But I am not worried that cloning will replace sex as a way of reproducing life.

In the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis, which has to do with …”In the beginning”, God creates woman - “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.(Gen 2:18) Centuries later a man singing in the movie South Pacific sings the words “There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame.” To me, that is confirmation of the Lord’s wisdom.

Of all of the appetites God has installed in us humans, sex is probably the most beautiful and enjoyable-and necessary. But sex, like all of the other appetites installed in our anatomy can disable or destroy us if not used responsibly. Those who have ears to hear let them take notice - LUST you damage or destroy yourself - or worse yet, damage or destroy someone else.

"The Seven Deadly Sins" part 4

This will be my forth dissertation of Pope Gregory the Great’s listing of the seven deadly sins. In my last writing I covered AVARICE which is a synonym for GREED. The fifth one that Gregory mentions is a very relevant to our own times since it is estimated that about half of the citizens of our land suffer from varying degrees of obesity. The 50% of course, is speaking in round figures! The word used to describe it is GLUTTONY. Some pundits estimate that about 30% of the USA citizens suffer from being a little or a lot obese- which some say that - that’s speaking in “round figures!” One dictionary synonym defines GLUTTONY as excessive eating and drinking. A broader definition of it would be INSATIABLE. Most of us in the Western world have a tendency to collect more than just calories. The long rows of storage sheds that are found in most every community you visit is a sign that we tend to hang on to too much stuff - and it is stuff of all kinds. Two of my own examples of this are books and clothes. And a small example is that I have over 50 neckties in my closet. And I rarely wear one any more. But I can’t bring myself to give them away or throw them away. Such antics aren’t new. There is a man named in the Bible (Luke 12:15-21) that didn’t have room to store his stuff —so “he tore down his barns and built bigger ones.” Jesus describes this man in his parable of the rich fool.

We should learn the difference between wants and wishes and needs and necessities. One of the most valued lessons I have learned I learned on the mission field in the nation of Bolivia. In 1957 Pastor Henry Lewis persuaded the First United Methodist Church congregation to finance my way on the trip to South America to visit mission stations there. When visiting the American Institute in La Paz, Bolivia, we traveling clergy from a cross-many of us had trouble just getting our breath. None of the building had heat or air conditioning. I was tired and the room was chilly and the bed was cold as I tried to begin to sleep. Just as I was trying to drift off the wife of the missionary, Mary Fritz, opened the door just a crack and said, “Rev. Gist, if you do not have everything you need to be comfortable while you are here, you let me know, and I will teach you how to get along without it!” It was then I remembered what the Apostle Paul said as he wrote about some aspects of his life when he was a missionary to the Philippians. (See Philippians 4:11) -rit by Rod-

"The Seven Deadly Sins" part 3

After a month’s break, I think I should get back at the business of writing devotionals about Pope Gregory the Great’s list of the seven deadly sins. I am not sure that Pope Gregory listed them in order to their deadlines but number 3 on his list is - anger. When visiting with the people these days I seem to hear a lot about that topic. Many people sense that there seems to be a lack of civility in the dispositions of too many of us in the opinions express and the conversations in which we engage. That seems to grow more apparent in the political year and show up in the newspapers and TV dialogues and - I have read in the news that it is getting harder and harder at family gatherings for everyone to go home with everyone being happy! Some say it’s getting worse and worse.

But the emotion of anger appears early in the Bible we are encouraged to read in our daily devotion. Have you noticed that the word angry appears very early in the first book of that Bible? Cain and Abel were the first children of the first family on earth. It seems that Cain got the idea that the Lord’s regard and appreciation of Abel’s offerings of the roast mutton was pretty cool but didn’t care much for the green beans out of Cains’s garden.We might wonder why this became such a big deal but according to Genesis 4:5 “Cain was very angry and his countenance fell.” I think the Bible tells us early on that we are very susceptible to being infected by a fallen countenance! And the consequences can be dangerous. Cain wound up killing Abel. It is not that anger in itself is sinful.There is such a thing as righteous anger. But angry people are not those who are easy to live with. Another part of the of the bible reminds us of that. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us: “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don’t give the Devil a chance” The Old King James Version of the Bible says it this way. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26. I have my own way of trying to remember to deal with anger before it gets you into trouble. Somebody once told me that the ruffled rooster was the easiest to pluck!

If we do not learn to deal with anger, we can easily be overcome by ‘fallen countenance”. Which can lead to hurting someone or we can become like a ruffled rooster and embarrass ourselves. Jesus asks us to forgive our neighbor - and ourselves.

"Anger on Display" by Rod Gist

Since Cain killed Abel in the field that day
Evil has been lurking at our door;
Ill will and anger’s often on display.

Murder seems as commonplace today
And we still seek to “settle up the score”
Since Cain killed Able in the field that day.

Even nations enter in the fray
As armies blast from earth those they deplore;
Ill will and anger’s often on display.

One look at modern newscasts seems to say
Our hearts are calloused thicker than before;
Since Cain killed Abel in the field that day.

One must ask “Is violence here to stay?”
”Is our destiny one sad and long encore?”
Ill will and anger’s often on display.

Must generations all look back in deepdismay
And view what billions managed to ignore?
Since Cain killed Abel in the field that day
Ill will and anger’s often on display.