Monthly Archives: May 2006

May 2005 Peripheral Neuropathy

May 2005
HIVers can be forgiven a collective snore at the media’s newest medical obsession: the excruciatingly vague science of pain relief. Suddenly, pain afflicts the front cover of Time, the New York Times’ science section and scores of TV news segments. It all began when Vioxx was bumped off the market last December. Along with Celebrex and Bextra—other Cox-2 inhibitors in the class of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)—the blockbuster painkiller significantly raised heart-attack and stroke risk. Typically missing from the press frenzy was any mention of what Cal Cohen, MD, research director of Boston’s Community Research Initiative of New England, calls the “additional burdens in diagnosing and treating pain” that HIV—and its treatments—place on patients and providers. POZ took a look at how HIV pain experts shoulder those burdens, offering a short list of HIVers’ most common hurts—and tips on top treatments. Plus, HIVers contribute remedies that aren’t on Doc’s formulary. “Many drugs are useful in treating HIV-associated pains even if they’re not approved for that purpose,” says Howard Rosner, MD, med head at LA’s Cedars Sinai’s Pain Center. (You may have to go way off-label—and mix and match remedies—to keep your pain from going off the chart.) As for the Cox-2 newsmakers, most HIV docs say they will prescribe ’em for headaches and joint, muscle and back pain—but mostly for short-term use.BIG PAIN #1: Peripheral Neuropathy (PN)WHY IT HURTS: PN’s nerve damage numbs or inflicts a burning sensation on the hands and feet of about 30 percent of HIVers. Linked to “d” nukes—d4T (Zerit), ddI (Videx) and ddC (Hivid)—it can also result from HIV itself. WHAT HELPS: David Simpson, MD, director of clinical neurophysiology at Mt. Sinai in New York City, both studies and treats HIV-related PN. He usually starts HIVers on the least invasive treatment, such as Lidoderm, a lidocaine patch for post-herpetic neuralgia (a painful shingles after-effect; see “What Else Hurts,” below). • Second choice: antidepressants like the new Cymbalta or anticonvulsants like the new Lyrica (or the older Neurontin). • If you’re still hurting, Doc might try narcotics like percodan, vicodin or Tylenol with codeine. Studies show that drugs like the tricyclic antidepressant Elavil may soothe diabetic PN, which stems from impaired bloodflow and high blood sugar, but might not ease HIV PN, which has a different cause. • Some HIVers swear by acupuncture; others try exercise, yoga, marijuana, hypnosis and anodyne infrared-light therapy. Ray, a 44-year-old New Yorker, says he got PN from Zerit. His doctor recommended B-12 injections. “It took over a year, but that was the only thing that helped,” he says.WHAT’S COMING: Simpson is planning studies of Cymbalta and Lyrica (both FDA-OK’d for diabetic PN) on HIV PN. He warns that the body uses the same route to process Cymbalta and HIV protease inhibitors, so doses might need adjustment when the two are paired. • Trials of one pain-relief hope, Prosaptide, have been halted—at least for now—but high-dose capsaicin patches and carnitine are still in the running. (To find a carnitine study:, 312.572.4545.)

Gene therapy has bee, by A. Centers

Gene therapy has been a buzzword for many years now. There have been some stunning successes and glaring failures, sometimes with frightening results. However, with a growing understanding of the human genome and some tantalizing successes, gene therapy continues to be pursued.
Occasionally, some genes are expressed at reduced levels or, maybe not at all. Depending on what gene is involved, this may go unnoticed or it could even be life threatening. In short, gene therapy is an attempt to overcome these shortcomings by inserting one or more properly functioning copies of that gene into a patient. Alternatively, a gene may be inserted that augments an existing function or even adds a new one. This has been VIRxSYS approach to HIV gene therapy.
But first a little biology: The life cycle of HIV requires that it infect lymphocytes, or white blood cells, after entering a host, resulting in reduced numbers of these cells. This is very unfortunate because lymphocytes play a huge role in both our innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate system is made up of many types of cells that continuously search for and directly attack foreign material, bacteria, viruses, etc. The adaptive system is also in constant surveillance for anything foreign. However, once something foreign, the measles virus for example, enters our body and is identified as such, the adaptive immune system begins producing antibodies.
Antibodies are made by T cells, and are incredibly picky about what they interact with. The antibodies from the example above would recognize and bind only the measles virus, nothing else. Once bound by antibodies, the virus is targeted for destruction by other components of our immune system. Production of antibodies is a lifelong commitment for T cells. Once a group of T cells begins production of a specific antibody, they become dedicated factories for producing only that antibody. Such subpopulations of T cells retain the ability to recognize the same virus if it were to re-infect us sometime in the future. Antibody production would begin immediately. This is where the name “memory T cells” originates. This is also why you get the measles only once. Any parent of school age children has been exposed numerous times to measles, but thanks to you memory T cells, the immune response was instant and therefore effective.
T cells regularly die off and the antibodies they produced slowly degrade. If all T cells of a given subpopulation died off we would lose the ability to mount a rapid antibody mediated immune response. You would measles over and over! To safe guard against this, some T cells of each subpopulation go dormant. Once re-exposed to the same foreign material, say, the same virus as in the example above, memory T cells begin antibody production anew.
I apologize for the biology lesson above but the role of T cells in HIV is a big one, one perhaps more evident now that the above passage explains why we have dormant T cells. You see, the unfortunate thing is that HIV likes to replicate in them. When these cells go dormant they are in fact allowing HIV particles to hide from our immune system and drug treatments. This allows HIV to continually reestablish an infection in the host for years (a theory but one that makes sense and has many supporters). Here is part of the problem with highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART. While HAART can be initially effective at reducing HIV viral loads, it would have to continue uninterrupted for life to completely get rid of all HIV particles. Even without the emergence of drug resistant HIV strains, this scenario is just not a good option.
Here is where the gene therapy comes in. Virxsys is attempting to introduce a gene into HIV patients that changes the surface of T cells, specifically, a single protein. This single protein recognizes HIV, potentially boosting the ability of T cells to bind HIV. Virxsys believes this will translate into a faster stronger anti-HIV immune response. In a bit of irony, Virxsys is using another retrovirus, a lentivirus, to accomplish this. As you may be aware, retroviruses are RNA viruses, carrying with them the machinery and proteins to copy their genome into DNA and then integrate their DNA into that of the host cell. Now, the cell will unwittingly read host and viral genes, manufacturing the proteins called for by both. This process goes on constantly, leading to production of more and more viral particles. Lentiviruses pose no threat to humans, incorporate very well into our DNA, and grow very slowly. All of this means lentiviruses can effectively deliver their anti HIV payload inside us for a very long time.
This is not the only gene therapy Virxsys is pursuing. In our cells, a hugely complex group of proteins read our DNA and in a very complex series of steps make new proteins. As long as everything in our DNA is coded properly, the correct proteins are made. However, if our DNA contained garbled portions, the above mentioned machinery would struggle to make proteins. Depending on how seriously garbled the DNA message was, the resulting protein would not function properly or might not be made at all. Virxsys is attempting to do this on purpose. Using lentiviruses again, Virxsys is attempting to insert into HIV patients a garbled version of a gene unique to HIV. This garbled gene would produce malfunctioning copies of a crucial structural component, without which HIV cannot survive. Theoretically this could result in production of a huge number of noninfectious HIV particles. Potentially, this drops the number of infectious HIV particles to a level low enough the infection can no longer be maintained.
These approaches are not a cure – yet! Early results are promising, but only time will tell how ultimately successful these treatments can be.

The Ascension And Our Mission

This will be the last issue for two weeks because I am traveling to St. Louis next Thursday to attend the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans convocation. It is Pentecost weekend, what a great time to be received as a postulate brother! I request your prayers for me during this time of new beginnings.
I attended a high school graduation of a friend at St. Michael’s today. This marked a new rite of passage for him and it reminded me of this week-end in the church, that of the ascension and what it means for us. It is a rite of passage for the church.
It was at that mount in Galilee that Christ gave the great commission, the command to go out with the good news to all the world. It was then that he told us to preach, make disciples, and baptize believers. It was from there that He ascended and took His rightful place on the throne at the “right hand of the Father” to be our high priest and intercessor. And it is from that place that He empowers us with the Holy Spirit to accomplish the great commission. This is our graduation day, our rite of passage. We should be just as thrilled to graduate and move into newness of life as my friend at Sayre High School. We should also be expectant, taking Christ at His word that He will indeed empower us to overcome, to accomplish His work, to spread the good news, to see true miracles, and to do good works. We should want to see these and see them in others.
Awake, oh Church of Christ, to the Resurrection power. We must realize the implication that Christianity makes to the world. It is no light matter. This is no social pastime, no game of wits, no mere human philosophy. This is the Word of Almighty God and the heritage of His children. Let’s get busy!
Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ
ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things:
Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his
promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end
of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory
everlasting. Amen.
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!

The debate and outcr

     The debate and outcry continues over the fictional movie released this weekend called “The Davinci Code”. The primus of the movie is that the Catholic Church has covered up a secret for centuries. The secret, (merely fictional), has a few facets to it. First, that Jesus was married to Mary of Magdalena, because a second century story rather infers that he kissed her a lot. The problem is that the document is not written by an eyewitness of the events or by a friend of an eyewitness of the events. That is why it is not in the cannon. In addition, the papyri are blank at the most crucial point. It says, ‘Jesus kissed her on the ————.” Therefore, the story could say on the hand, foot, head, ECT. It is just not credible.
     Another facet of the movie infers that the first century church did not believe that Christ was God in the flesh, or more theologically correct; Emmanuel, God with us, God incarnate; very God and very man. Dan Brown, the author of the story, has his characters saying that the emperor Constantine, in the 3rd century, initiated the belief in the deity of Christ at the council of Nicea. He also states that the some 300 bishops narrowly passed the doctrine. This is not true at all. In fact, the first century church believed what Jesus taught them to believe, and what He was crucified for, which was blasphemy. Not only these, there are ancient Roman letters to Domitian complaining about the Christians who would not worship him as God because they worshiped Jesus as God. Hummmm, Mr. Brown? Who was Jesus? Yes, the third century Gnostics said that he was only a prophet, just a physical man, and that humans have a divine spark within that with a secret knowledge can be ignited. The same philosophy that new age is today; goes to show us that Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun.  Jesus was truly God in the flesh.  He called himself the “I am.” He claimed to be the Son of God and God in the flesh and the first century believers knew it, believed it, wrote about it, sang about it, and died because of it.
     Another facet of what movie critics are calling very long two hours claims that the books of the New Testament and the four gospels were not decided upon until Nicea. On and on the scoffers go…. This is old stuff. The fact is that All four of our Canonical gospels were written and in circulation prior to the end of the first century as well as all of the epistles. Eyewitness to the life and miracles of Jesus Christ wrote all these books. They were people such as the Apostles, and students of the apostles. These folk are the disciples. The reason why there is a difference between the Apostolic Creed and the Nicene Creed is because….? Right. It existed prior to the end of the first century. Then there are saints like Polycarp, Irraneus, John Mark, and other disciples of the Apostle whose writings we have that support the truth that stands against that which the Davinci Code states.
     Therefore, another movie, another controversy to divert our attention, around we go…. Listed below is a tomb of scripture, unfortunately in the KJV, (the only program I had to search with the Greek), on the work knowledge, knowing, to know, what we know, can know, do know, should want to know, and should want to avoid knowing. I call it the “And we know club” taken from Elder Ward’s sermon this Sunday, on Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  I pray that all of you will come to the real knowledge and ever- increasing faith this and every day!

Luk 177 To give1325

Luk 1:77  To give1325 knowledge1108 of salvation4991 unto his846 people2992 by1722 the remission859 of their846 sins,266
Rom 3:20  Therefore1360 by1537 the deeds2041 of the law3551 there shall no3756, 3956 flesh4561 be justified1344 in his sight:1799, 846 for1063 by1223 the law3551 is the knowledge1922 of sin.266
Rom 11:33  O5599 the depth899 of the riches4149 both2532 of the wisdom4678 and2532 knowledge1108 of God!2316 how5613 unsearchable419 are his848 judgments,2917 and2532 his848 ways3598 past finding out!421
1Co 15:34  Awake1594 to righteousness,1346 and2532 sin264 not;3361 for1063 some5100 have not the knowledge2192, 56 of God:2316 I speak3004 this to4314 your5213 shame.1791
2Co 4:6  For3754 God,2316 who commanded2036 the light5457 to shine2989 out of1537 darkness,4655 hath(3739) shined2989 in1722 our2257 hearts,2588 to4314 give the light5462 of the3588 knowledge1108 of the3588 glory1391 of God2316 in1722 the face4383 of Jesus2424 Christ.5547
Eph 1:15  Wherefore1223, 5124 I also,2504 after I heard191 of2596 your5209 faith4102 in1722 the3588 Lord2962 Jesus,2424 and2532 love26 unto1519 all3956 the3588 saints,40
Eph 1:16  Cease3973 not3756 to give thanks2168 for5228 you,5216 making4160 mention3417 of you5216 in1909 my3450 prayers,4335
Eph 1:17  That2443 the3588 God2316 of our2257 Lord2962 Jesus2424 Christ,5547 the3588 Father3962 of glory,1391 may give1325 unto you5213 the spirit4151 of wisdom4678 and2532 revelation602 in1722 the knowledge1922 of him:848
Eph 1:18  The3588 eyes3788 of your5216 understanding1271 being enlightened;5461 that ye5209 may know1492 what5101 is2076 the3588 hope1680 of his846 calling,2821 and2532 what5101 the3588 riches4149 of the3588 glory1391 of his846 inheritance2817 in1722 the3588 saints,40
Eph 1:19  And2532 what5101 is the3588 exceeding5235 greatness3174 of his846 power1411 to1519 us-ward2248 who believe,Eph 3:4  Whereby,4314, 3739 when ye read,314 ye may1410 understand3539 my3450 knowledge4907 in1722 the3588 mystery3466 of Christ)5547
Eph 3:19  And5037 to know1097 the3588 love26 of Christ,5547 which passeth5235 knowledge,1108 that2443 ye might be filled4137 with1519 all3956 the3588 fullness4138 of God.2316
h 4:13  Till3360 we all3956 come2658 in1519 the3588 unity1775 of the3588 faith,4102 and2532 of the3588 knowledge1922 of the3588 Son5207 of God,2316 unto1519 a perfect5046 man,435 unto1519 the measure3358 of the stature2244 of the3588 fullness4138 of Christ:5547
Phi 3:8  Yea235 doubtless,3304 and2532 I count2233 all things3956 but(1511) loss2209 for1223 the3588 excellency5242 of the3588 knowledge1108 of Christ5547 Jesus2424 my3450 Lord:2962 for1223 whom3739 I have suffered Col 1:9  For1223 this cause5124 we2249 also,2532 since575 the(3739) day2250 we heard191 it, do not3756 cease3973 to pray4336 for5228 you,5216 and2532 to desire154 that2443 ye might be filled4137 with the3588 knowledge1922 of his846 will2307 in1722 all3956 wisdom4678 and2532 spiritual4152 understanding;4907
Col 1:10  That ye5209 might walk4043 worthy516 of the3588 Lord2962 unto1519 all3956 pleasing,699 being fruitful2592 in1722 every3956 good18 work,2041 and2532 increasing837 in1519 the3588 knowledge1922 of God;2316
Col 2:3  In1722 whom3739 are1526 hid614 all3956 the3588 treasures2344 of wisdom4678 and2532 knowledge.1108
2Ti 3:1  This5124 know1097 also,1161 that3754 in1722 the last2078 days2250 perilous5467 times2540 shall come.1764
2Ti 3:2  For1063 men444 shall be2071 lovers of their own selves,5367 covetous,5366 boasters,213 proud,5244 blasphemers,989 disobedient545 to parents,1118 unthankful,884 unholy,462
2Ti 3:3  Without natural affection,794 trucebreakers,786 false accusers,1228 incontinent,193 fierce,434 despisers of those that are good,865
2Ti 3:4  Traitors,4273 heady,4312 highminded,5187 lovers of pleasures5369 more3123 than2228 lovers of God;5377
2Ti 3:5  Having2192 a form3446 of godliness,2150 but1161 denying720 the3588 power1411 thereof:846 from such turn away.665, 5128
2Ti 3:6  For1063 of1537 this sort5130 are1526 they which creep1744 into1519 houses,3614 and2532 lead captive162 silly women1133 laden4987 with sins,266 led away71 with divers4164 lusts,1939
2Ti 3:7  Ever3842 learning,3129 and2532 never3368 able1410 to come2064 to1519 the knowledge1922 of the truth.225
2Pe 1:3  According as5613 his846 divine2304 power1411 hath given1433 unto us2254 all things3956 that3588 pertain unto4314 life2222 and2532 godliness,2150 through1223 the3588 knowledge1922 of him that hath called2564 us2248 to1223 glory1391 and2532 virtue:703
Pe 1:2  Grace5485 and2532 peace1515 be multiplied4129 unto you5213 through1722 the knowledge1922 of God,2316 and2532 of Jesus2424 our2257 Lord,2962
2Pe 1:3  According as5613 his846 divine2304 power1411 hath given1433 unto us2254 all things3956 that3588 pertain unto4314 life2222 and2532 godliness,2150 through1223 the3588 knowledge1922 of him that hath called2564 us2248 to1223 glory1391 and2532 virtue:703
2Pe 1:4  Whereby1223, 3739 are given1433 unto us2254 exceeding great3176 and2532 precious5093 promises:1862 that2443 by1223 these5130 ye might be1096 partakers2844 of the divine2304 nature,5449 having escaped668 the3588 corruption5356 that is in1722 the world2889 through1722 lust.1939
2Pe 1:5  And1161 beside this,846, 5124 (2532) giving3923 all3956 diligence,4710 add2023 to1722 your5216 faith4102 virtue;703 and1161 to1722 virtue703 knowledge;1108
2Pe 1:6  And1161 to1722 knowledge1108 temperance;1466 and1161 to1722 temperance1466 patience;5281 and1161 to1722 patience5281 godliness;2150
2Pe 1:7  And1161 to1722 godliness2150 brotherly kindness;5360 and1161 to1722 brotherly kindness5360 charity.26
2Pe 1:8  For1063 if these things5023 be5225 in you,5213 and2532 abound,4121 they make2525 you that ye shall neither3756 be barren692 nor3761 unfruitful175 in1519 the3588 knowledge1922 of our2257 Lord2962 Jesus2424 Christ.5547
2Pe 2:20  For1063 if1487 after they have escaped668 the3588 pollutions3393 of the3588 world2889 through1722 the knowledge1922 of the3588 Lord2962 and2532 Savior4990 Jesus2424 Christ,5547 they are(1161) again3825 entangled1707 therein,5125 and2532 overcome,2274 the3588 latter end2078 is1096 worse5501 with them846 than the3588 beginning.4413
2Pe 3:18  But1161 grow837 in1722 grace,5485 and2532 in the knowledge1108 of our2257 Lord2962 and2532 Savior4990 Jesus2424 Christ.5547 To him846 be glory1391 both2532 now3568 and2532 forever.1519, 2250, 165 Amen.281
2Pe 3:3  Knowing1097 this5124 first,4412 that3754 there shall come2064 in1909 the last2078 days2250 scoffers,1703 walking4198 after2596 their848 own2398 lusts,1939
Joh 14:16  And2532 I1473 will pray2065 the3588 Father,3962 and2532 he shall give1325 you5213 another243 Comforter,3875 that2443 he may abide3306 with3326 you5216 forever;1519, 165
Joh 14:17  Even the3588 Spirit4151 of truth;225 whom3739 the3588 world2889 cannot1410, 3756 receive,2983 because3754 it seeth2334 him846 not,3756 neither3761 knoweth1097 him:846 but1161 ye5210 know1097 him;846 for3754 he dwelleth3306 with3844 you,5213 and2532 shall be2071 in1722 you.5213
1Jo 2:3  And2532 hereby1722, 5129 we do know1097 that3754 we know1097 him,846 if1437 we keep5083 his848 commandments.1785
1Jo 2:4  He that saith,3004 I know1097 him,846 and2532 keepeth5083 not3361 his848 commandments,1785 is2076 a liar,5583 and2532 the3588 truth225 is2076 not3756 in1722 him.5129
1Jo 2:5  But1161 whoso3739, 302 keepeth5083 his848 word,3056 in1722 him5129 verily230 is the3588 love26 of God2316 perfected:5048 hereby1722, 5129 know1097 we that3754 we are2070 in1722 him.846
1Jo 2:6  He that saith3004 he abideth3306 in1722 him846 ought3784 himself848 also2532 so3779 to walk,4043 even as2531 he1565 walked.4043
1Jo 2:26  These5023 things have I written1125 unto you5213 concerning4012 them that seduce4105 you.5209
1Jo 2:27  But2532 the3588 anointing5545 which3739 ye5210 have received2983 of575 him846 abideth3306 in1722 you,5213 and2532 ye need2192, 5532 not3756 that2443 any man5100 teach1321 you:5209 but235 as5613 the3588 same846 anointing5545 teacheth1321 you5209 of4012 all things,3956 and2532 is2076 truth,227 and2532 is2076 no3756 lie,5579 and2532 even as2531 it hath taught1321 you,5209 ye shall abide3306 in1722 him.846
1Jo 3:19  And2532 hereby1722, 5129 we know1097 that3754 we are2070 of1537 the3588 truth,225 and2532 shall assure3982 our2257 hearts2588 before1715 him.846
1Jo 3:20  For3754 if1437 our2257 heart2588 condemn2607 us,(3754) God2316 is2076 greater3187 than our2257 heart,2588 and2532 knoweth1097 all things.3956
1Jo 3:21  Beloved,27 if1437 our2257 heart2588 condemn2607 us2257 not,3361 then have2192 we confidence3954 toward4314 God.2316
1Jo 3:22  And2532 whatsoever3739, 1437 we ask,154 we receive2983 of3844 him,846 because3754 we keep5083 his848 commandments,1785 and2532 do4160 those things that are pleasing701 in his sight.1799, 846
1Jo 3:23  And2532 this3778 is2076 his848 commandment,1785 That2443 we should believe4100 on the3588 name3686 of his848 Son5207 Jesus2424 Christ,5547 and2532 love25 one another,240 as2531 he gave1325 us2254 commandment.1785
1Jo 3:24  And2532 he that keepeth5083 his848 commandments1785 dwelleth3306 in1722 him,846 and2532 he846 in1722 him.846 And2532 hereby1722, 5129 we know1097 that3754 he abideth3306 in1722 us,2254 by1537 the3588 Spirit4151 which3739 he hath given1325 us.2254
1Jo 3:1  Behold,1492 what manner4217 of love26 the3588 Father3962 hath bestowed1325 upon us,2254 that2443 we should be called2564 the sons5043 of God:2316 therefore1223, 5124 the3588 world2889 knoweth1097 us2248 not,3756 because3754 it knew1097 him846 not.3756
1Jo 3:2  Beloved,27 now3568 are2070 we the sons5043 of God,2316 and2532 it doth not yet3768 appear5319 what5101 we shall be:2071 but1161 we know1492 that,3754 when1437 he shall appear,5319 we shall be2071 like3664 him;846 for3754 we shall see3700 him846 as2531 he is.2076
1Jo 5:20  And1161 we know1492 that3754 the3588 Son5207 of God2316 is come,2240 and2532 hath given1325 us2254 an understanding,1271 that2443 we may know1097 him that is true,228 and2532 we are2070 in1722 him that is true,228 even in1722 his848 Son5207 Jesus2424 Christ.5547 This3778 is2076 the3588 true228 God,2316 and2532 eternal166 life.2222

Greetings to you all

Greetings to you all!

     I would like to update you all concerning my application process into the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. My application has been submitted and accepted and the process has begun. I will be attending the annual convocation in Saint Louis June 1 thru the fourth, and at that time, I hope to be installed as a postulant. I ask for your prayers that God will direct my path and bless my trip to St. Louis. Here is an update on my health.
     The lab has discovered that they did not get all of the mice proteins out of the product before infusion. The proteins are used to separate white cells after they are harvested from the patient. I am having some allergic reactions, such as itching, rash, and fatigue. They do not understand or know what may further develop. I ask that you keep me in prayer, that God will provide smooth sailing for me. I have a lot to accomplish and I need the energy to do it. Thanks for all your support that you have shown. I am truly blessed to have so many brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones!

The True Gnosticism

“If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Joh 8:32

I love the daily office and lectionary for this past week, as well as the lesser feasts. The passages seem to center on knowledge, the knowledge of God. They also speak to His wisdom, which is His knowledge experienced. I love the verse pasted above and especially the word underlined; the word know. In the Greek text, it is the word gnosis, which is the root of Gnosticism. Christ is implying that we can know truth. Who said he wasn’t a Gnostic, anyway?
     The Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries were, in fact, quite different in their beliefs from mainstream Christianity. The main thing that set them apart was their belief that Jesus was not really God in the Flesh (God incarnate). They thought that he was an apparition and so were his works. As far as their thoughts about an inner knowledge, the Apostles and Christ himself teach that. Just check out the book of John chapters 15 thru 17. Jesus talks about abiding in us by the presence of the person of the Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of this inner gnosis in the book of Ephesians and Colossians. Check out Eph 3:16.
     You will know (gnosis) the truth and the truth will make you free. Most people misquote this all the time. It is not “set you free” it is make you free. What is the big deal, you ask? The answer is it is a creative action to which Jesus refers.  We are transformed by truth that abides in us. We are not set free to remain the in the same condition of soul that we were before we met Christ. If we had an anger problem before we met him, we should be resolving that problem now that we know him, ECT. We are being made free. This is a creative process. Christianity is not an act of doing it is a state of being, a process of transformation, and a journey from the mere intellectual to the experiential. We are traveling beyond theory to reality and from mere human consciousness to spiritual intuition. All of this means that we do know (gnosis). We are Gnostics in the truest sense, but not in the classic sense. For further reading:

I Co 2:11-16, Col 1:9, Eph 1:17-19, Eph 3:16-19, Eph 4:23-24, Romans 8, John 16:13
Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madamn Guionne
The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee

Mene Tekel Parsin

Mene, Tekel, & Parsin:
Our lives in the Balnce

Greetings and Peace to you!

Yesterday, the story of Daniel and King Belshazzar’s feast is in the daily office. A great Old Testament story, it has significance for us today with respect to our commitment to Christ. You can find the story in the book of Daniel, chapter five.
     The story begins by telling how the king took the Vessels of God, stolen by Nebuchadnezzar; his father, and used them for a pagan feast in Babylon, (modern Iraq). The vessels made by the Israelites in the wilderness, were for use in the Tabernacle, and eventually, the Temple in Jerusalem. Israel counted them as being holy and sanctified, (set apart unto Jehovah). Our New Testament writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that these instruments were a type and shadow of the real vessels of the New Covenant; us.
     Now the story goes on that the King saw a mystical “hand-writing” on the wall, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin,” which means “numbered, weighed and divided.” Eventually, the king called on Daniel to interpret the writing. The outcome; the kings days were numbered, his own life was weighed by his actions, and the kingdom was overthrown by the Medes and Persians. How does this story apply to us?
     Our lives are often numbered, weighed and divided in modern society, in our personal lives, and in our parishes. Sometimes this truth is negative and sometimes it is positive. We are God’s vessels. (II Timothy 2:21). We are meant to be so for His honor. Paul tells Timothy that there are honorable lives and those lived in dishonor, much like the king of Babylon. In all honesty, I can say that I have lived both. It is, in fact, a constant struggle to live a life of honor, save by the Grace of God. Enough has been said about lives of dishonor, there has been enough preaching about what not to be…. I would rather hear and speak the positive side, the things I can do to live in honor of Christ.
     Listen; God know our days (Mene), that our lives are often weighed by our own choices (Tekel), and that His grace given to us is to be divided (Parsin) out of us to produce growth and honor. This is the positive side; the principles that the king of Babylon would have done well by learning them. God’s grace is given to us according to Jesus’ numbers’; (Eph 4:7-8). These gifts and talents meant for His use are weighed by our actions and choices. They increase according to how and how often we exercise them. I peter 4:10, II Cor 10:12. The greater we distribute God’s grace to others, the greater vessels we become, in the sense of mercy and humility. The more we give, the more we have to give to others. Check out John 3:34:
                          “For he whom God hath sent speaks the words of God: for he gives not the Spirit by measure.”       Wow! God gave Christ the Spirit without measure, and on the day of Pentecost, God gave us that same Spirit of unending power and grace to fill our lives, the vessels of modern day worship. As we receive and dispense, He will keep measuring out more to us. As we give to others, He flows through us. This is the positive good news. It is a process.
     Even when we fail and seemingly act dishonorably in God’s sight, if we are receiving the “flow” of His grace, that process cleanses us and makes us into a worthy vessel once again! We are vessels of Grace.

May God Radicalize you as a vessel of honor this week! Amen.