September 30, 2011

2 Kings 8.7- 15

[skipping again]

Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the King of Syria was sick; and when it was told him, "The man of God has come here," the King said to Hazael, "Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord through him, saying 'Shall I recover from this sickness?'"

So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, "Your son Ben-hadad King of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this sickness?'"

And Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him,'You shall certainly recover.' But the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die." And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was ashamed. And the man of God wept.

And Hazael said, "Why does my Lord weep?"

He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set on fire their fortresses, and you will slay their young men with the sword, and dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child."

And Hazael said, "What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?"

Elisha answered, "The Lord has shown me that you are to be King over Syria."

Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?"

And he answered, "He told me that you would certainly recover." But on the morrow he took the coverlet and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, until he died. And Hazael became King in his stead.

September 29, 2011

Luke 9.44-50

Amid the general wonder and admiration at all he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, "What I now say is for you. The son of Adam is going to be given up into the power of men."

But they did not understand what he said; it had been hidden from them so they should not perceive its drift; and they were afraid to ask him what it meant.

A dispute arose among them: which of them was the greatest?

Jesus knew what was passing in their minds, so he took a child by the hand and stood him at his side, and said, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. For the least among you all-- He is the greatest."

"Master," said John, "we saw a man casting out devils in your nam, but as he was not one of us we tried to stop him."

Jesus said to him, "Do not try to stop him, for he who is not against you is on your side."

September 28, 2011

2 Kings 6.24-7.17

Afterward Benhadad King of Syria mustered his entire army, and went up and besieged Samaria.

And there was a great famine in Samaria when they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for 80 shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver.

Now as the King of Israel was passing by upon the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying "Help, my lord, O King."

And he said, "If the Lord will not help you, whence shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?" And the King asked her, "What is your trouble?"

She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son, and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, 'Give your son, that we may eat him,' but she has hidden her son."

When the King heard the words of the woman he rent his clothes-- Now he was passing by along the wall-- and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath upon his body-- and he said, "May God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shapat remains on his shoulders today."

Elisha was sitting in his house; and the elders were sitting with him.

Now the King had dispatched a man from his presence; but before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, "Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?"

And while he was still speaking with them, the King came down to him, and said, "This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?"

But Elisha said, "Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine meal shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria."

Then the captain on whose hand the King leaned said to the man of God, "If the Lord himself should make windows in Heaven, how could this thing be?"

But Elisha said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."

Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate; and they said to one another, "Why do we sit here until we die? If we say, 'Let us enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit here, we die also. So now, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us, we shall but die." So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; but when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there.

For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots, and of horses-- the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the King of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us." So they fled away in the twilight and forsook their tents, their horses and their asses, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.

And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent, and ate, and drank; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them. Then they went back, and entered another tent, and carried off things from it, and went and hid them.

Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news; if we are silent, and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us! Now, therefore, come let us go and tell the King's household." So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, "We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied, and the asses tied, and the tents as they were."

Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the King's household. And the King rose in the night, and said to his servants, "I will tell you what the Syrians have prepared against us! They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking 'When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city!'"

And one of his servants said, "Let some men take five of our remaining horses, seeing that those of us left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel that have already perished; let us send and see."

So they took two mounted men, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying "Go and see." So they went after them as far as the Jordan; and lo, all the way was littered with garments and equipment which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the King.

Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians.

So a measure of fine meal was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord.

Now the King had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned, to have charge of the gate. And the people trod upon him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the King came down to him.

September 27, 2011

Luke 9.37-43

Next day when they came down from the hills he was met by a large crowd.

All at once there was a shout from a man in the crowd: "Master, look at my son, I implore you, my only child! From time to time a spirit seizes him, gives a sudden scream, and throws him into convulsions with foaming at the mouth. It keeps on mauling him, and will hardly let him go! I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not!"

Jesus answered, "What an unbelieving and perverse generation! How long shall I be with you and endure you all? Bring your son here."

But before the boy could reach him, the spirit dashed him to the ground and threw him into convulsions.

Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, cured the boy, and gave him back to his father.

And they were all struck with awe at the majesty of God.

September 26, 2011

2 Kings 6.8-23

[Skipping a brief miracle story in 6.1-7]

Once when the King of Syria was warring against Israel, he [The King of Israel?] took counsel with his servants, saying, "At such and such a place shall be my camp."

But the man of God sent word to the King of Israel, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there." And the King of Israel sent to the place of which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.

And the mind of the King of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you not show me who of us is for the King of Israel?"

And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O King, but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the King of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber."

And he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him."

It was told him, "Behold, he is in Dothan." So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"

He said, "Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed, and said, "O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see."

So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

And when the Syrians came down against Elisha, he prayed to the Lord and said, "Strike this people, I pray Thee, with blindness."

So He struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.

And Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man you seek." And he led them to Samaria.

As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, "O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they might see."

So the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and lo, they were in the midst of Samaria.

When the King of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, "My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?"

He answered, "You shall not slay them. Would you slay those whom you have captured with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master."

So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master.

And the Syrians came no more on raids into the land of Israel.

September 25, 2011

Luke 9.28-36

About eight days after this conversation he took Peter, John, and James with him and went up into the hills to pray. And while he was praying his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white.

Suddenly there were two men talking with him; these were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, the destiny he was to fulfill in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile Peter and his companions had been in a deep sleep; but when they awoke, they saw his glory and the two men who stood beside him.

And as these were moving away from Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, how good it is that we are here! Shall we make three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?" (but he spoke without knowing what he was saying.)

The words were still on his lips when there came a cloud which cast a shadow over them; they were afraid as they entered the clous, and from it came a voice: "This is my son, my chosen; listen to him!"

When the voice had spoken, Jesus was seen to be alone.

The disciples kept silence and at that time told no one anything of what they had seen.

September 24, 2011

2 Kings 5

Naaman, commander of the army of the King of Syria, was a great man with his master, and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little maid from the land of Israel, and she waited on Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy."

So Naaman went in and told his lord, "Thus and so spoke the maiden from the land of Israel."

And the King of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the King of Israel."

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shields of gold, and ten festal garments. And he brought the letter to the King of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy."

And when the King of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me!"

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the King of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent to the King, saying, "Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know there is a prophet in Israel."

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the door of Elisha's house.

And Elisha sent a message to him, saying, "Go and wash yourself in the Jordan seven times; and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean."

But Naaman was angry and went away, saying "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.

But his servant came near and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much, rather, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"

So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Then he returned to the man of God, all his company; and he came and stood before him, and he said, "Behold, I know that there is no god in all the Earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant."

But he said, "As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will receive none."

Then Naaman said, "If not, I pray you, let there be given to your servant two mules' burden of earth; for henceforth your servant will not offer burnt offering nor sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter, may the Lord pardon your servant: When my master goes into the House of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the House of Rimmon; when I bow myself in the House of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your master in this matter!"

He said to him, "Go in peace."

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him, and get something from him." Sp Gehazi followed Naaman.

And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he alighted from the chariot to meet him, and said to him, and said, "Is all well?"

And he said, "All is well. My master has sent me to say, 'There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Pray give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.'"

And Naaman said, "Be pleased to accept two talents." And he urged him, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two festal garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they carried them before Gehazi.

And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand, and put them in the house; and he sent the men away; and they departed. He went in and stood before his master.

And Elisha said to him, "Where have you been, Gehazi?"

And he said, "Your servant went nowhere."

But he said to him, "Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants for ever."

So he went out from his presence a leper white as snow.

September 23, 2011

Luke 9.25-27

"For what will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self?

"For whoever is ashamed of me and mine, the son of Adam will be ashamed of him, when he comes in his glory and the glory of his Father and the holy angels.

"And I tell you this: There are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they have seen the kingdom of God."

September 22, 2011

2 Kings 4

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha; "Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.'

And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what have you in the house?"

And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil."

Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels of all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few! Then go in, and shut the door upon yourself and your your sons, and pour into all these vessels; and when one is full, set it aside."

So she went from him and shut the door upon herself and her sons; and as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel."

And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing.

She came and told the man of God; and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts; and you and your sons can live on the rest."
One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. And she said to her husband, "Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, who is continually passing this way. Let us make him a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there."

One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there. And he said to Gehazi his servant, "Call this Shunammite." When he had called her, she stood before him. And he said to him, "Say now to her, See you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the King or to the commander of the army?"

She answered, "I dwell among my own people."

And he said, 'What then is to be done for her?"

Gehazi answered, "Well, she has no son, and her husband is old."

He said, "Call her." And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. And he said, "At this season, when the time comes around, you shall embrace a son."

And she said, "No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your maidservant." But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.

When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. And he said to his father, "Oh my head, my head!"

The father said to his servant, "Carry him to his mother."

And when he had lifted him, and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. Then she called to her husband, and said, "Send me one of the servants and one of the asses, that I may quickly go to the man of God, and come back again!"

And he said, "It is neither new moon nor sabbath."

She said, "It will be well." Then she saddled the ass, and she said to her servant, "Urge the beast on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you." So she set out, and came to the man of God on Mt. Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, "Look, yonder is the Shunammite; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?"

And she answered, "It is well." And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet.

And Gehazi came to thrust her away. But the man of God said, "Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me."

Then she said, "Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?"

He said to Gehazi, "Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, do not salute him; and if any one salutes you, do not reply; and lay my staff upon the face of the child."

Then the mother of the child said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."

So he arose and followed her.

Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff upon the face of the child, but there was no sound nor sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him, and told him, "The child has not awakened."

When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door upon the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. Then he got up again, and walked once too and fro in the house, and went up, and stretched himself upon him.

The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

Then he summoned Gehazi and said, "Call this Shunammite." So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, "Take up your son." She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took up her son and went out.

And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, "Set on the great pot, and boil pottage for the sons of the prophets."

One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and cut them up into the pot, not knowing what they were.

And they poured it out for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the pottage, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it.

He said, "Then bring meal." And he threw it into the pot, and said, "Pour out for the men, that they may eat." And there was no harm in the pot.

A man came from Baalshalishah, bringing the man of God bread of his first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack.

And Elisha said, "Give to the men, that they may eat."

But his servant said, "How am I to set this before a hundred men?"

So he repeated, "Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, 'They shall eat and have some left.'"

So he set it before them. And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

September 21, 2011

Luke 9.23-24

And to all he said, "If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind. Day after day he must leave self behind and come with me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost, but if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, that man is safe."

September 20, 2011

2 Kings 3

In the 18th year of Jehoshaphat King of Judah, Jeroram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal which his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.

Now Mesha King of Moab was a sheep-breeder; and he had to deliver annually to the King of Israel 100,000 lambs, and the wool of 100,000 rams. But when Ahab died, the King of Moab rebelled against the King of Israel.

So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria and mustered all Israel. And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat King of Judah, "The King of Moab has rebelled against me; will you go with me to battle against Moab?"

And he said, "I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." Then he asked, "By which way should we march?"

Jehoram answered, "By the way of the wilderness of Edom." [Notes: At that time the King of Edom was a vassal of the King of Judah, & Jehoram needed permission to march through their territories.]

So the King of Israel went with the King of Judah and the King of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the beasts which followed them. Then the King of Israel said, "Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of the King of Moab!"

And Jehoshaphat said, "Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we might inquire of the Lord?"

Then one of the servants answered, "Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah." And Jehoshaphat answered, "The word of the Lord is with him." So the King of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the King of Edom went down to him.

And Elisha said to the King of Israel, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother[Jezebel]!

But the King of Israel said to him, "No, it is the Lord who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab."

And Elisha said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat King of Judah, I would neither look at you, nor see you. But now, bring me a minstrel."

And when the minstrel played, the power of the Lord came upon him.

And he said, "Thus says the Lord, 'You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your cattle, and your beasts.' This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord; he will also give the Moabites into your hand, and you shall conquer every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop up all springs of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones."

The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.

When the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out, and were drawn up at the border. And when they rose early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water before them as red as blood.["colored by the red sandstone of Edom," sayeth my Bible's notes.] And they said, "Surely the kings have fought, and slain one another. Now then, Moab, to the spoils!" But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and attacked them, till they fled before them; and they went forward slaughtering the Moabites as they went. And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone, until it was covered, and stopped every spring of water, and felled all the good trees, till only stones were left in Kirhareseth, and the slingers surrounded and conquered it.

When the King of Moab saw that the war was going against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through, opposite the King of Edom, though he could not. Then he took the eldest son, who was to reign in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the war. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

September 19, 2011

Luke 9.18-22

One day when he was praying alone in the presence of his disciples, he asked them, "Who do the people say I am?"

They answered, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others say that one of the old prophets has come back to life."

"And you," he said, "Who do you say I am?"

Peter answered, "God's Messiah."

Then he gave them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And he said, "The son of Adam has to undergo great sufferings, and to be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and doctors of the Torah, to be put to death and to be raised again on the third day."

September 18, 2011

Apology to a Rabid Conscience

[for Larry Milligan]

You asked me once, could I read
my poetry to the ragged man
living in the cracks between our eyes

and I never answered you; I couldn't
say the ears are torn, open
to what I have and cannot give.

The men are outside the mission
waiting to earn stale bread
by the sweat of their ears;

I have nothing to say to them
sleeping in the all-night horror show;
I am sorry their hands were stolen
but the police station is locked
and only thieves are welcome.

I have no storage space for pain
where the ragged man could sleep
or gnaw my words in charity.

So call me hypocrite; you will
have to be true to your logic
which condemns all but victims,
saints and heroes.

I have no skill to comfort ghosts;
my words are for those with hands
firmly in their ears;
they refuse to become bread.

Nothing I say will open
the freezers where pride is kept
lest it melt in the eyes of the Sun.

It is too late for words
but there is nothing else
to heal the killers

Forrest Curo

2 Kings 2.23

[ELisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!"

And he turned around, and when he saw them he cursed them in the name of the Lord.

And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the bears.

From there he went on to Mt Carmel, and thence he returned to Samaria.

September 16, 2011

Luke 9.10-17

On their return the disciples told Jesus all they had done; and he took them with him and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. But the crowds found out and followed him.

He welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who were in need of healing.

When evening was beginning, the Twelve approached him, and said, "Send these people away; then they can go into the villages and farms round about to find food and lodging; for we are in a lonely place here."

"Give them something to eat, yourselves," he replied.

But they said, "All we have is five loaves and two fishes, nothing more-- unless we ourselves should go and buy provisions for all this company." (There were about five thousand men.)

He said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of about fifty or so." They did so, and got them all seated.

Then, taking the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to Heaven, said the blessing over them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.

They all ate to their hearts' content, and when the scraps were picked up, they filled twelve great baskets.

September 15, 2011

2 Kings 2.12- 22

Then [Elisha] took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. And he took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the the Lord, the God of Elijah?!" And when he had struck the water, the water was parted from one side to the other; and Elisha went over.

Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him over against them, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. And they said to him, "Behold, now, there are with your servants fifty strong young men; pray, let them go and seek your master; it may be that the Spirit of the Lord has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley."

And he said, "You shall not send." But when they had urged him till he was ashamed, he said, "Send."

They sent therefore fifty men; and for three days they sought him but did not find him.

And they came back to him, while he tarried at Jericho; and he said to them, "Did I not say to you, Do not go?"

Now the men of the city said to Elisha, "Behold, the situation of the city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful."

He said, "Bring me a little bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, "Thus says the Lord, I have made this water wholesome. Henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it." So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Elisha spoke.

September 14, 2011

Luke 9.7-9

Now Prince Herod heard of all that was happening, and did not know what to make of it; for some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, others again that one of the old prophets had come back to life.

Herod said, "As for John, I beheaded him myself; but who is this I hear such talk about?" And he was anxious to see him.

September 13, 2011

2 Kings 2-2.12 (There goes Elijah!)

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to Heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, "Tarry here, I pray you; for the Lord had sent me as far as Bethel."

But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."

So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?"

And he said, "Yes, I know it. Hold your peace."

Elijah said to him, "Elish, tarry here, I pray you; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho."

But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."

So they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?"

And he answered, "Yes, I know it; hold your peace."

Then Elijah said to him, "Tarry here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan."

But he said, "As the Lord lives, as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.

Then Elijah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the water; and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them could go over on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken away from you."

And Elisha said to him, "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit."

And he said, "You have asked a hard thing. Yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so."

And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven.

And Elisha saw it; and he cried, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel, and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more.

September 12, 2011

Luke 9.1-9.6

[Jesus] now called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority to overcome all the devils and to cure diseases, and sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to heal.

"Take nothing for the journey," he told them, "neither stick nor pack, neither bread nor money; nor are you to bring a second coat. When you are admitted to a house, stay there, and go on from there.

"As for those who will not receive you--When you leave their town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." So they set out and traveled from village to village; and everywhere they told the good news and healed the sick.

September 11, 2011


[Random Arrow has suggested I move Hear and Act to the top of the blog from time to time (something I hadn't known to be directly possible and don't mind any of us trying later!!!) but I think the discussion we've been having is on the nature of the universe we're embedded in...]

Specifically, we were talking about "How does communication work." Stephen Gaskin discussed two basic models:

1) An academically-fashionable one that works like this: RA gets an idea and codes it into words. He writes the words on a note, attaches the note to a handy rock, tosses the rock over the figurative wall to where my mind lives. I pick up the rock, unwrap the note, read and decode. From this I construct something in my mind vaguely similar to RA's.

2) "We're all telepathic." My ideas and RA's, the underlying meanings and understandings, are in the shared mental space Zen Buddhists call "Big Mind." Both of us access this space but are typically unconscious of the bulk of it. We enjoy a pastime much like model #1, because doing this helps us expand the domain of Big Mind we can consciously appreciate.

I mentioned an old friend who'd self-identified as "a psychic," whom I used to say "couldn't read his own mind." And realized that in Gaskin's model, this tends to be our common condition. We "see in a mirror darkly". We painstakingly draw in words, much as a working mathematician may scribble notes and doodles.

But if you take walks in the early morning, when there aren't too many people around, when all you're saying is at best "hello"... You may notice a semi-tactile 'aura', a feeling-tone to these varying encounters. Even when neither of you say a word, you go on feeling a little of who they are at the moment, and vice versa. [Capital-s "Skeptics" would insist that this is entirely done with subtle visual cues and imagination, but then there's a lot such people imagine not to happen. If life can't convince them, all I can suggest is that they occasionally look through this telescope, eyes open, just to reassure themselves it doesn't work!] We don't commonly send/receive text in this mode, because that isn't the sort of mental content that truly interests the part of our 'mind' that does this.

One troublesome implication is, as Gaskin says, that "This changes everything!"

If you posit a clockwork universe, there's no mechanism in it to carry those signals. (And neither is there a credible mechanism available in it for consciousness. For highly-complex, innovative, even 'creative' data-processing, yes. For the generation of entirely-convincing "personalities", yes. For someone "inside" to "read" and experience the activity and content of our own mind/heart/soul, no. We are the data who overthrows 'materialism'.)

We can still have a lawful universe, just as we can agree that "Pawns don't move sideways on this chessboard." But we may occasionally find ourselves playing Fairy Chess. If we don't cheat other sentient beings, there may be allowable forms of 'cheating'.

Working out the ramifications: "What are the ethical rules for telepathic beings?" Gaskin concluded that our common world-religions had already done the groundwork with rules-of-thumb like the Golden Rule & "As you sow, so shall you reap."

What think?

September 10, 2011

2 Kings 1.2-1.17

["Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel from Samaria... He served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done."]
Now Ahaziah fell through the latice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them: "Go, inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this illness."

But the Angel of the Lord said to  Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the King of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?' Now, therefore, says the Lord, 'You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.'" So Elijah went.

The messengers returned to the King, and he said to them, "Why have you returned?"

And they said to him, "There came a man to meet us, and said to us, 'Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the Lord, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but shall surely die.'"

He said to them, "What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?"

They said to him, "He wore a garment of haircloth, with a girdle of leather about his thighs."

And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite."

Then the King sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, "O man of God, the King says, 'Come down.'"

But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from Heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from Heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

Again the King sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he went up and said to him, "O man of God, this is the King's order, 'Come down quickly!'"

But Elijah answered them, " "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from Heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of Godcame down from Heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

Again the King sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and said, "O man  of God, I pray you, let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Lo, fire came down from Heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight!"

Then the Angel of the Lord said to Elijah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him."

So he arose and went down with him to the King, and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron-- Is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire His word?-- Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die."

So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. Jehoram, his brother, became King in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, because Ahaziah had no son.

September 07, 2011

Hear and Act...

We've got something really problematical in [a recent] post on prophets... (1 Kings 20) and then, [a recent] Jesus saying-- that his true kin are whoever 'hears and does' God's will-- seems to tie in somewhere.

A large chunk of the Bible can be read as Obedience Training for Humans!

It's that simple? Hardly!

Adam, Eve, every ancient Israelite could have been equipped from birth with an automatic, built-in, heads-up Commandment Display. 'Thou shall...' or 'Thou shalt not, and if you know what's good for you, you better not...' and so forth, in bright intercranial LED letters, for any conceivable occasion. God has power enough, but hasn't used it that way.

"Free Will"? Raymond Smullyan's 'God' [in "Is God a Taoist?"] says that He made people with free will because once you've decided to create a sentient being, that's the only kind possible. Okay, I'd say, rather, that if you're going to get a whiff of that Divine Breath, if there's going to be life in a person, there's going to be the whole Image of God living inside: which will be responding-to events, but not compelled-by.

I'm not sure how this works either. Douglas Hofstadter had a dialogue about a model of how the mind (not 'the brain') works... where his characters were arguing that if this model was true, everything they thought about themselves as conscious beings who did things by their own powers and wishes-- was an illusion. Really, there were only little sticky balls running through structures that said balls had formed and were constantly reforming by the way those balls were running through those structures. It wasn't at all a bad model; I think that there'd have to be a direct mapping between it and any other model capable of learning, continuing to do what it had learned, and  learning to do something else instead... capable, that is, of any sort of coherent, ongoing mental process.

What to do about this? Say that our thinking-and-behavior doesn't follow any such model?-- Then we're logically pushed to say that our thinking-and-behavior is essentially random and effectively senseless. Say instead, that our thinking-and-behavior makes sense, is a coherent and appropriate response to what we experience (internal and external)-- And we're logically pushed to conclude that some such model must exist that would potentially account for it.

But God has no such constraint on divine behavior-- and is anything but 'senseless.' This seems to imply that while we innately must be able to construct mental models of how our minds operate, capable of 'explaining' why we operate as we do-- No such model can ever be the truth.

Couldn't we just have a model that sometimes made sense-- but was prey to random glitches? No, that's just a mechanical model with a limp. The glitches have to come from outside the model, from another category entirely... from whatever 'spirit' means.

Wow, long fertile digression! Anyway, God tells a prophet that he has to strike (and wound!) a colleague; he's really asking for it. Instead of striking-- or consulting a shrink, as we might recommend-- this prophet refuses. For that, he is eaten by a lion.

First off, this is an echo of Ahab's fate. Ben-hothead has been asking for it, but Ahab instead cuts a deal for a bazaar concession in Damascus. And that decision is going to cost him. Ahab is trying to do the right, the peaceful and practical thing, but that isn't what God is asking here; Ahab feels it isn't fair, and he's right.

Does this mean we should dash out and obey whatever claims to be a Divine Voice ordering us to smite our neighbor's loud stereo (and while we're at it, sacrifice him and marry his widow after a suitable mourning period?) We say we're supposed to "test" leadings, but our prophet here tries to do that, and he's lunch!

It isn't fair; we can't win? Well, there's a flaw in the model that poses that question. If God is outside of us making demands, and we are outside of God trying to decide "Are you sure you're You, God?" and "You say you want me to do what?" then in that model we really can't win. We have to find out how and why and what it means that God and we are one 'Thing'.

The Ching says about 'innocence': "Whoever acts from these deep levels makes no mistakes." Phew!

September 04, 2011

Please Comment

I am asking for comments re: "The Bible is/isn't worth studying because..."

Partially this is because I don't get a lot of comments here-- and partially it's because I wonder from time to time myself: Not really buying any of the answers I've heard, why do I find this worthwhile?

Luke 8.40->

When Jesus returned, the people were expecting him, and welcomed him. Then a man appeared-- Jairus was his name; he was president of the synagogue. Throwing himself down at Jesus' feet he begged him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. And while Jesus was on his way, he could hardly breathe for the crowds.

Among them was a woman who had suffered from haemorrhages for twelve years; and nobody had been able to cure her. She came up from behind and touched the edge of his cloak; and at once her haemorrhage stopped.

Jesus said, "Who was it that touched me?"

All disclaimed it; and Peter and his companions said, "Master, the crowds are hemming you in and pressing upon you."

But Jesus said, "Somebody did touch me, for I felt power go out from me."

Then the woman, seeing that she was detected, came trembling and fell at his feet. Before all the people she explained why she had touched him and how she had been cured.

He said to her, "My daughter, your faith has cured you. God in peace."

While he was speaking, a man came from the president's house with the message, "Your daughter has died; trouble the rabbi no further."

But Jesus heard, and interposed. "Do not be afraid," he said. "Only show faith, and she will be well again." On arrival at the house he allowed no one to go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child's father and mother. All were weeping and lamenting for her. He said, "Weep no more; she is not dead; she is asleep."

But they only laughed at him, knowing she was dead.

But Jesus took hold of her hand and called her, "Get up, child."

Her spirit returned; she stood up immediately; and he told them to get her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he forbade them to tell anyone what had happened.

September 02, 2011

1 Kings 221.-40

For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. But in the third year Jehoshaphat the King of Judah came down to the King of Israel.

And the King of Israel said to his servants, "Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the King of Syria?" And he said to Jehoshaphat, "Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?"

And Jehoshaphat said to the King of Israel, "I am as you are; my people as your people, my horses as your horses."

And Jehoshaphat said to the King of Israel, "Inquire first for the word of the Lord."

Then the King of Israel gathered the prophets together, about 400 men, and said to them, "Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or should I forbear?"

And they said, "Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the King."

But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not another prophet of whom we may inquire?"

And the King of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, 'There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophecizes good concerning me, but evil."

And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the King say so."

Then the King of Israel summoned an officer and said, "Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah."

Now the King of Israel and the King of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets were prophecizing before them.

And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron, and said, 'Thus says the Lord, 'With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed." And all the prophets prophecized so, and said, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the King."

And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, "Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the King; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably."

But Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak."

And when he had come to the King, the King said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?"

And he answered him, "Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the King."

But the King said to him, "How many times shall I adjure you that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?"

And he said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd; and the Lord said, 'These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.'"

And the King of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"

And Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord: "I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of Heaven standing before him on His right hand and his left; and the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said one thing; and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord. 'I will entice him.' And the Lord said to him, 'By what means?' And he said, 'I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And He said, 'You are to entice him; and you shall succeed; go forth and do so.' Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets; the Lord has spoken evil concerning you."

Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came forward and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, "How did the Spirit of the Lord go from me to speak to you?"

And Micaiah said, "Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself."

And the King of Israel said, "Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the King's son; and say, 'Thus says the King, "Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with scant fare of bread and water, until I come in peace."'"

And Micaiah said, "If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me."

And he said, "Hear, all you peoples!" So the King of Israel and Jehoshaphat the King of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. And the King of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you wear your robes." And the King of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

Now the King of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, "Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the King of Israel."

And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "It is surely the King of Israel!" So they turned to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out.

And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the King of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.

But a certain man drew his bow for no particular reason, and struck the King of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn about, and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded."

And the battle grew hot that day, and the King was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died; and the blood of his wound flowed into the bottom of his chariot. And about sunset a cry went through the army, "Every man to his city; and every man to his country!"

So the King died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the King in Samaria.

And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up the blood; and the harlots washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken.

Now ther rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities which he built; are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahziah his son reigned in his place.

September 01, 2011

Luke 8.26-39

So they landed in the country of the Gergesenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped ashore he was met by a man from the town who was possessed by spirits.

For a long time this man had neither worn clothes nor lived in a house, but stayed among the tombs. When he saw Jesus he cried out, and fell at his feet, shouting! "What do you want of me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I implore you; do not torment me!"

For Jesus was already ordering the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many a time it had seized him, and then, for safety's sake, they would secure him with chains and fetters. But each time he broke loose, and with his devil in charge made off to solitary places.

Jesus asked him his name.

"Legion," he replied, because so many spirits lived in him. And they begged him not to banish them to the Abyss.

There happened to be a large herd of pigs nearby, feeding on the hill; and the spirits begged him to let them go into the pigs. He gave them leave; the devils came out of the man and went into the pigs; then the pigs rushed over the edge and into the lake, where they drowned.

The men watching them saw this and took to their heels; they carried the news to the town and the country-side, so people came out to see for themselves.

When they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the devils had gone out, sitting at his feet clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid. The witnesses told them how the madman had been cured. Then the whole population of the district asked him to go, for they were in the grip of a great fear.

So he got into the boat and returned.

The man from whom the devils had gone out begged leave to go in the boat, but Jesus sent him back. "Go home," he said, "and tell them everything God has done for you."

The man went all over the town spreading the news of what Jesus had done for him.