The Big 3

I once warned that I had several topics to blog about and intended to tackle them during my spring break.   I thought I had a progression of topics and the order I was going to write them, but nothing has happened on that front. Until now.  I’m skipping my first one to bring you perhaps the most important one I’ve been thinking about.

My Navigator bible study has been going through the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians and the insight and comments have been quite good.  I don’t think it’s possible to not have a good bible study, I mean, it’s the bible!  Anyway, I digress.

In 1 Thes 1:2-3, Paul writes “We give thanks to God always for you, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.”  Just some quick background, Paul preached in Philippi just before being forced out and then went to Thessalonika (That’s the Greek spelling; it’s not misspelled) You can read about it in Acts 16-17.  The point I’m trying to make, though, is that Paul was only in Thessalonika for 3 weeks or so, and already, the church he planted there came under persecution. (That’s why he had to leave for Berea)

Back to 1 Thes 1:2-3, So Paul prays for them, that’s great, but what does he remember in his prayers?  Their work of faith, their labor of love, and their patience of hope.  This part reminds me of the end of the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians (13:13) “And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 

The designer of our study drew our attention to the words that Paul used to describe their faith, hope, and love (Ie work, labor, and patience).  We see these words all over the epistles of Paul, most often speaking of his “labor among you” or a command to ‘be fruitful in every good work.”  We see these same ideas (Work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope) in the Lord’s messages to the seven churches, particularly Ephesus in Rev 2:2-3.

As the attention was brought to these words, I went to my trusty concordance in an effort to clarify why they were used that way.  The study designer had quoted a Charles Ryrie commentary which went like this: “The word Paul uses for labor in verse 3 means “fatiguing work” and differs from work in the phrase work of faith in that it includes the cost associated with labor.”  Thus, I went to the Greek dictionary.

Work of Faith,  the word “work” in Greek is “ergo” and means ‘toil as an effort or occupation”.  It’s used in John 6:29- “The WORK of God is that you believe…” In Acts 13:2, Paul and Barnabas were commanded to be “Separated to Me for the “ergo” to which I’ve called them.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 uses that word: “…always abounding in the work (toil as an occupation) of the Lord…” Col 1:10 “…Being fruitful in every good work…”

So then it’s the “occupation” of faith.  Faith.  Faith is foundational; by Heb 11:6, “without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” Faith is, according to Heb 11:1, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” There, it is connected with hope, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  James talks about faith in chapter 2:14-26. Faith without works is dead. So it therefore requires action, just like you can’t do no work and still have a job (occupation).

Labor of Love, again the word labor here is Kopos (the o’s are short, if you want to pronounce that correctly). It means toil, pains, trouble, weariness.  Again, its the same word as in Rev 2:2-3, 1 Cor 15:58, and Heb 6:10 (For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward his name, in that you have ministered to all the saints and do minister.) The most interesting passage it related to, I thought, was Matt 11:28–“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

So then this is the pains of love. I think of Romans 12:9-21, 1 Cor 13, and Phil 2.  Those characteristics of love are hard to do.  That’s probably why Paul asserts that “the greatest of these is love.” Even loving God in the way Jesus told us how is difficult. “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”  There truly is a cost to following Christ.  Paul said he died daily so that Christ might be made manifest.  Jesus Himself said, ” If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Lastly, Patience of Hope, The word for patience was Hupomone or cheerful endurance, waiting. Same word as the famous Luke 21:19 quote from That Thing You Do. (I thought you might like that). It is produced by tribulation according to Romans 5:3 and produces character. James 1, the testing of your faith produces patience.  Romans 8:25 says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, (Sounds like Heb 11:1 faith) we eagerly wait for it with patience. ” He was talking specifically of your adoption as sons.

The cheerful endurance of hope, I might know something about endurance, but not this kind.  What is our hope that the Thessalonian church was patiently waiting in?  Perhaps it was written about later in the book when Paul lays out the rapture. Maybe it was the living hope that 1 Peter 1:3-5 talks about.  Maybe it was like Abraham’s hope and belief in God’s promise of a son. But the evidence of this hope, this patient hope, was what they endured because of it. Hebrews 11:32-40 comes to mind and I’ll quote.

“32-And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak, Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33-who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34-quenched the voilence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valient in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35-Women recieved their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36-Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37-They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–38-of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39-And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40-God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

Finally, I came across another mention of the “big 3″ as I like to call them, in 1 Thes 5:8. The context is armor, ie the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation. It’s interesting that the breastplate guards and protects the heart and the helmet protects the head (mind). This also means that it’s a battle. News flash? Nope, we all know Eph 6:12 and the nature of our enemy in John 10:10. To close, I’d like to composite Eph 6:12, Jn 10:10, 1 Thes 5:8, and certain elements of battle into a statement.

“My battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the robber of hope, the destroyer of faith, the killer of love, where the battlefield is men’s souls and the plunder is their eternal destiny.”

JA Menter

I know I probably took a long walk in the realm of kapu, but it was worth it.

A Blast

I may soon be moving into the never fixed realm of “taboo”, but that’s the way it is.  Last evening was perhaps the most fun I’ve had on a Wednesday evening in memory.  It wasn’t spent watching a movie, partying, writing, or God forbid, working.  I went to Royal Rangers for the first time in over two months.  It’s amazing how much I missed it and how good it was to be back.

I can’t say that it was always like this.  Some days, I didn’t want to go at all.  I wanted to curl up in as many blankets as I owned and sleep for hours.  I wanted to read a book so that I wouldn’t have to right before a class.  I wanted to continue playing a boardgame that takes hours just to set up. 

Truly, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  You wake up and find something missing.  I know this is completely clique, but sometimes things become clique because they can’t be put any better way.  I made a tough decision to put my education above Rangers and other things this semester, and I still second guess myself at times, especially when I’m sitting through the most boring coaching class I’ve ever taken.  It happens to be on Wednesday nights and I’m sure that has something to do with it.

So now that it’s gone for a semester, what did I have?  Well, I had boys I’d watched grow up since they were in Kindergarden.  They’d become like sons to me.  I’d had fun with them, played sports with them, taught them bible stories and survival skills, and occasionally disciplined them.  I’d become a important part of their lives and vice versa.  They still mob me when they see me and try to play on me like a jungle gym.

I’m just so glad I was able to return, if only for a day, so that I could “check in on them”.  It turned out the Royal Rangers and Missionettes programs were shorthanded yesterday, so the fact that I could be a blessing in that way was awesome as well.  I probably won’t take that for granted anytime soon.

JA Menter

BTW-> As you can probably guess, this isn’t one of the three posts that have piled up on me. <~_~>

Long Time Coming

When I wrote Kapu last week, I had every intention of continuing to divulge various things as my list of topics and ideas for posts mounts in the absense of time or vivid articulation.  This past week, though, has just been that kind of a week.  I have been looking forward to this particular weekend for probably a month and a half, but the five days before it were brutal, especially when the excitment of “Spring Break” and all I had planned loomed just beyond my grasp.

The “work week” always starts with a Monday of just trudging along, hoping and praying you can somehow make it to the end, and in my case, I would have been happy to get to the next day without totally butchering everything and wasting precious time along the way.  Each day seemed to throw some new curveball my way, which on a continuing basis gets incredibly annoying to put it mildly. 

Monday, I was going to observe a Husker Volleyball practice, since I have to sometime in the near future for one of my coaching classes.  I come to find out, spring practice doesn’t start until the following day and I don’t see a convenient time to cram it in my schedule. I had a light day on Monday, as the days of my week go. Apart from Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays, I spend the least amount of time waiting for things to happen on campus of any day, about 9 hours.  During the week, it doesn’t get much lower than that ever. I’m pretty sure I spent that time trying to read Oedipus at Colonus knowing that I would have a quiz on it that I’d fail if I didn’t read it.

Tuesday was the easy day that I spent reading Antigone and Medea in Greek mythology before I had to be at school for Colonial History class and work.  At this point, I devoted my facebook stati to chronicling what I had to do before the bliss of break was upon me.  That was, at one point, 2 plays->Antigone and Medea, a quiz, a 350 page book, a bible study, a 2 part exercise with about 150 seperate calculations that needed to be shown, a dentist appointment :), 11 hours of class, 11 hours at work, and a volleyball practice.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that I didn’t have a chance to write another blog post or any more of the numerous ideas constantly swirling in my head in relation to my book.  Apart from the late nights trying to stay in the loop for a reading intensive history class and a greek mythology class that I enjoy but also want to excel in, (impossible without reading the material) I also had stressful days, often begun before the sun had risen in the timezone ahead of us, just packed with a smattering of this thing people call “school” and often equate to one big party. Hur hur hur.

Now that it’s all done, I need a extra dose of rest and relaxation.  Nine days might cover it and hopefully, I won’t have some issue cause it to not be as enjoyable and productively inactive.  I hope nothing captures my thoughts to the point of an obsessive compulsion to smolder and grind, as things have in the past.  I hope I’m able to sit down and write intelligently and productively in a world without care and cruise to a healthy finish to a project I’ve undertaken for the past five years. I hope the page total I write this week reaches a square of a non-prime number (16) and progress is made. Maybe I might even post the topics I’ve been intending to for the past month but haven’t had the right words or timing. I have to leave it to you guys to decide if they are kapu or just taboo.


JA Menter


It has been over a month since I last blogged.  The reasons are two-fold. The first reason is a well-documented fall from grace with words.  It is a master-slave relationship, but now the roles are reversed.  I once was able to mold and shape words to display my mind, but now they are unruly and foreign.  The second reason is “kapu”.


Kapu- I ran across this term in my colonial American history class about three weeks ago in a lecture in which I didn’t take notes because the material wasn’t going to be on any tests. It was bonus information I was getting “for free”. (Since when was content in a college class one paid an arm and a leg for free) But here I was, not taking notes, sitting back and biding my time so I could get ready for my track class that night. That actually has nothing to do with what I want to say, so I will refocus. Just Monday, I ran into the word again, in Greek Mythology class.


It struck me, because the Greek Mythology class has nothing to do with the meaning of kapu, or maybe it does.  More importantly, it was a word I remembered from a lecture I had every intention of forgetting, a sign of something else going on entirely.  Now, I have to explain what the word means so this makes sense.


Kapu is a native Hawaiian word; we have a similar word with a similar meaning in English- Taboo.  Over the centuries since John Cook made contact with the native Hawaiians, its English meaning has become diluted, commercialized, and secularized. In Hawaiian culture, things that were kapu were kapu because they were sacred. In other words, the sacred and only the sacred was taboo.  Not a guessing game with cards, not natural body functions, not certain other topics I won’t mention because they are taboo. Lstm J 


The native Americans around the New England colonies had a similar idea.  Not being a scholar in extinct native American languages, I don’t know what word they used, but one chief was ready to go to war with another tribe because someone named his dead father. That was taboo, no kapu in their culture.  So then, everyone must be wondering why I would run my mouth, or rather fingers, to give you a tiny history lesson about a word and then not explain its relevance. (You’re welcome, BTW, if you thought that history lesson a waste of your time and wanted to thank meJ)


There are only so many topics in the broadest sense that one can post on a blog.  In my case, there are really three that I’ve attempted. These are: Narrative, “Thoughts”- usually theologically based, and Poems, also mostly theologically based.  Perhaps you can see where the word “kapu” starts to come in.  I hate writing simple narratives; I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to write one and ended up with what should be categorized as “Thoughts”, Stadium Ruckus springs quickly to mind.  Somewhere along the way though, these subjects became taboo to me, whether they really are or not remains to be seen.  Instead, I get excited about progressing toward an end of a book five years in the making that combines both narrative and kapu thoughts.  Thus, it has taken my time, though understandably not as much as school itself has.


So, my first blog post since the beginning of February is written.  I have probably three more topics to write about in my head, but we’ll see if words and time cooperate. In the meanwhile, I occupy myself with the one area where the words are flowing out of me unchecked.


JA Menter