Thoughts on judging after…

Luke 6:37  “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

My wife and I just completed watching “The Keeper”, and can be found on Netflix.  If you haven’t seen it yet I warn you that you may tempted to judge, just as I was tempted to do.  Briefly, back in the 60’s a nun was murdered.  She was preparing to go to the police and report sexual abuse by a priest…the chaplain at an all girl high school.

When someone in power abuses another person, especially a child or the elderly, it becomes as disgusting as it can possibly be.  If you’ve seen the movie “Spotlight” then all of the memories of priest abuse re-surfaces.  In our case, there was a young man in our parish, several years ago, who was abused by one of our priests.  If that’s not the worst part though, then a diocese/archdiocese that covers up the abuse has to be the biggest betrayal of their vows that I can think of.

Matthew 7:15  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.

So, I sit through all of the episodes with so many emotions…mostly sad.  I found myself praying, when I began to get riled up, that I wouldn’t judge.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is something I remind myself all day long.

John 8:7  But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I have faith that God dealt with all of these people justly.  It isn’t my place to suggest that they shouldn’t receive absolution.  My wife asked me that what they did, the actual abuse and cover up, has to be the greatest sin of all.  Lust, adultery, lying, stealing innocence…are all grievous sins.  But the greatest sin one can make is turning away from God.  In essence isn’t that what they, in all of their power, were doing?  My take away from this is that anyone who commits mortal sins, such as the priest and bishops in the “The Keeper”, is someone I want to distance myself from; until I can conquer the sin of judgement.  It would be sinful of me to not trust God on how He would judge such a person.  And do not want to sin.

God Bless

Wisdom

I’ve kind of hit (no pun intended) on this before.  Followers of Christ are not very popular at times…even with other Christians.   I’ve commented on this before, but I know that many do not want to know what the truth is…it makes them uncomfortable and cuts into their freedoms.  But that’s not what this is about today.

For us that commit ourselves to the commandments of God will be rewarded with a ticket to paradise.  Sure, it can be rough at times with all of the bullying, comments and foul barbs thrown our way; but that’s not our problem.  We know that our ultimate reward is heaven.  I know that we will all go to heaven if we follow God’s intentions.  How do I know this?

1 Peter 4:13-17  But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. For it is time for the judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who fail to obey the gospel of God?

The temptation is there to drop my guard so that I may blend in to be accepted into a group.  It used to be very difficult but has become easier to do…to fight off the temptation.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be liked?  Sometimes it’s a very lonely island when I think I might be going through this alone.  (Now, right there, I consider that thought as egotistic on my part, that I might be the only one experiencing these situations.  Of course, that’s hogwash.)  That’s a temptation for me in itself that I continually fight.  Self pity?

So what do I do?  I pray for continuing wisdom.

James 1:2-6   Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing. These steps require wisdom of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.  But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.

I think the most important part of that verse is when we ask for wisdom, we should ask for it in faith…no doubt.  What I’ve been able to do with wisdom, is not get into any debates…unless God is viciously attacked.  Here’s an example of how a conversation with a non believer might go.

Person:  I don’t believe in God.

Me:  OK

Person:  Aren’t you going to ask me why?

Me:  I might already know the reason, but if you would like to share, please do so.  I’ll always listen.

Where I would once start explaining why God exists and argue that point, I let the other party take the lead and I listen.  In addition, instead of debating, I ask questions.  I chalk it up to the gift wisdom.  When asked a question, I don’t answer with any arguments.  I let the other party figure out if they want to continue the conversation or even if they understand.

The wisdom I’ve prayed for my whole life, carries me like never before.  When I feel I need a refresher…I pray.

Proverbs 3:13  Happy the one who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding!

God Bless and Happy Memorial Day…be safe!

Shortened schedule

Hi everyone.  I’ve had a few ask me how I can come up with a post everyday.  I don’t know, but it’s hard.  I try not to repeat myself and honestly try to post something meaningful as opposed to rambling on.  I don’t want to force anything.  I just want to share my inspirations…those of God.

Therefore, I will begin posting 3 times a week and see how that works out.  After much consideration I’m going to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I hope that’s OK!

God Bless and have a great Memorial Day as we remember our fallen military.

 

Oaths

How many people did God make a covenant with?  Let’s see:  Adam, Jacob, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon…just to name a few.  How well did they keep His covenants?  Ahhh, how well do we keep ours?

Leviticus 26:12  Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people;

Everything about God was to be given to them and their people; all they had to do was agree, take an oath, to be His people.  All they had to do was follow His commands.  That’s right…big chore.

I believe that God made the new covenant with us in the form of His son Jesus.  Instead of hearing voices, or in Moses’ case fire and voice, we have someone tangible to follow.  Jesus, in human form, taught us for three years what we needed to do to keep up our end of the bargain with God.  Jesus showed us the way.  We have no excuse, do we?  We have 2,000 years of scripture and theologians reminding us of our covenant and, once again, what is required of us.

Hebrews 9:15  For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Paul writes about the new covenant at the last supper.  All we have to do is promise, agree, take an oath to be obedient to God.

1 Corinthians 11:25  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

By God’s grace and mercy He shares so many gifts with us.  For Catholics we have the seven sacraments.  For the world we have all of, what I call, the little sacraments.  (Little sacraments are our families, the rain for farmers, animals, flowers…the beauty of mother earth.  I once had a priest call me out that there are only 7 sacraments-period.)

Sacrament is derived from the word sacramentum; which means to take an oath or a vow, that they would pledge their allegiance to Rome.  In ancient Rome, Roman soldiers would make a sacramentum with their superiors much like we make an oath in our military.  Sacramentum also referred to a thing that was pledged as a sacred bond, and consequently forfeit if the oath were violated.

So God reminds us that, through His son Jesus, He will still be our God and we take an oath that we will be His people…through the gift of the sacraments.  Oh and the ultimate pledge from God…

1 John 2:25  And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.

I took that oath on the day of my epiphany.

God Bless

The Truth and nothing but the truth!

Have you seen the movie, “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson? In the movie, while being grilled by Tom Cruise’s character, he shouts from the witness stand, “You can’t handle the truth.”  How true!!

I’ve touched on truth about 100 times so far, yet it is so important to keep in our minds that God’s intentions, God’s plans and God’s commands are nothing but the truth…the only truth.

When I was younger I was so gullible.  I believed whatever someone told me.  If it sounded even a little bit reasonable, I’d grab it.  Fake news?  I got caught up in that stuff so many times, and then had to back track on what I accepted as real news.  It happens today even more frequently.  Social media spreads that stuff like wild fire.

Fortunately, since my epiphany, I have come to know the only truth.  It’s a truth that is very difficult for many to swallow.  As Jack said, some can’t handle the truth.  Many cannot make the distinction between God’s whole Truth and their feelings.  I go back to the woman I had a discussion with about abortion.  I asked her if she truly loved Jesus.  She responded by saying that she loves the Lord.  I then asked her that if she really loved Jesus then why pro-choice, since Jesus is pro-life.  It’s her feeling that the woman should be allowed to choose.  It’s how she feels, and seems not accept the truth, God’s intentions.

John 4:24  God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

The most important thing I discovered about truth is how at peace I am knowing that all I have to do is love God with all of my heart and follow His commands.  Understanding what His commands are, is the blueprint that we must follow.  It set me free.

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Psalms 85:11  Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.

As I’ve written before, it’s just one of those many gifts you receive when you consecrate  yourself with God.

God Bless

Hope

1 Corinthians 13:13  

So faith, hope, love remain, these three but the greatest of these is love.

I had been curious for a long time just why Paul told us that love is the greatest.  I would ask myself questions like, “Shouldn’t faith come first? ”  I accepted it just the way Paul wrote it.  Who am I to question, right?

Now I get it.  I’ve learned over the past 5 years that the proper order for me was love, then faith, then hope.  A couple of posts ago I wrote about loving God with all of my heart and soul.  It was at that point where I discovered what faith was and what faith meant.  Once I loved God with everything I had, I put my complete, undeniable, faith and trust in God.  It made sense.  And that’s exactly the way it turned out.

I asked the question a few years ago what hope was.  The answer I received was that one has to go through some kind of despair to understand hope.  I bought that answer mainly because I felt it had merit to it.  What I’ve discovered, however, is that I couldn’t have hope until I had faith, just like I couldn’t have faith until I had love.

Back in the day, I could hope all I wanted but that’s all it was…hope…vanilla word…didn’t really mean anything.  “Gosh I hope I get to heaven” as it came out of my mouth much like some kind of sarcastic remark.  It was kind of like a pipe dream, like saying I hope I get a promotion.  There is no display of confidence probably because I wasn’t prepared to do anything about it.  It was just a word.  But now, with love and faith in the books, hope takes on a whole different meaning.

Paul writes in

Galatians 5:5  For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness.

Our hope in God isn’t just a wish or a dream, but a sure confidence that what God says will happen, will happen.  So, again, love begets faith and faith in God begets hope; that by our faith we know that God will keep his promises.  It’s a faith statement.  I know that God will keep His promises.  This gives me confidence that I’m, at least, on the right path.  Despair has nothing to do with it.  I’ve gone through my share of despair and didn’t see hope the way I see it today.

Titus 2:13  as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ,

I rarely read Psalms but I did find this verse that sums things up nicely.

Psalms 52:11  I will thank you forever for what you have done. I will put my hope in your name—for it is good, —in the presence of those devoted to you.

 

God Bless

 

So, am I speaking the truth?

I’ve repeated this a number of time.  I have to be really careful not to “feel” what a bible verse meant, but speak the truth…God’s intentions.  Fortunately I’m not intellectual enough to write with authority.  That’s where pride could rear it’s ugly head.

It is extremely important for me to stay on tract.  It’s like the verse in 1 Timothy…

1 Timothy 6:3  Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life.

Don’t get me wrong by that verse.  I don’t consider writing this blog teaching, but simply sharing what I need to do, as a follower of Christ, to lead the life I’m supposed to be living before I even type a word.  It’s like what Paul said in his letter to Titus:

Titus 2:1  As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.

When  I started this venture I took a real chance with myself NOT to be some kind of intellectual expert.  I simply wanted to share my life’s experience, in particular my epiphany, with others so that may make their own conclusions.  Again Paul writes to Titus…

Titus 3:8  This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

Yesterday’s blog, about being a mere Christian, is my conclusion based on the lack of ability for someone to love God with all of their heart if they continue down the wrong path.  My daughter’s pastor agreed with this in his sermon last Sunday.

2 John 1:9  Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

I used to falsely think that St. Francis, my favorite saint and confirmation name, was instrumental for the following quote:  “Preach the gospel and when necessary use words.”  That doesn’t diminish the importance of the quote, however, but is a quote I hold deeply in my heart.  I’ve got to walk the walk, not talk the talk.

God Bless

What is a ‘mere’ Christian?

When  I’ve had discussions with Christians many times where I explained that what they believe is not part of God’s intentions.  I used top be on the receiving end of of those discussions too…when I was merely a Christian.  I thought I loved God with all of my heart, just like I am commanded to do, but now that I think back I really didn’t.  I asked myself the question, “If I truly love God than why am I sinning?”  And the resolution is?

I’m going to mention this event about 3,000 times it seems, but my eyes were opened the very instant I began loving God with all of my heart and soul.  As I’ve proclaimed over the past 5 years it was my epiphany.

John 14:15-16, 27  “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Advocate, Paraclete, Counselor…this is the Holy Spirit.  Thinking back, I never had the feeling of the burning the Holy Spirit provided.  But once I began loving God with all of my heart and soul, well, the rest is history.  You see, following His commandments is so much easier.  I didn’t say easy, but easier than it was before.

Joshua 23:11  So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

This is where the term, mere Christianity came from.  I began using that description even  before I read or knew that C.S. Lewis had a book by that title.  So what do I call true Christians, the folks that have committed their heart and sole to God.  I began using followers of Christ.  The two labels, if you will, have to be differentiated from, because they mean two different things.

I continue to pray for all the people who haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced.

 

God Bless

How far should we go?

We know about Jesus granting authority to all of his apostles and disciples.  We know that Jesus told them that they had the authority to preach, teach, heal, cast out demons and forgive.  Mark 3:15  giving them authority to cast out demons.

Paul (not an apostle), once converted, assumed his authority.  2 Corinthians 10:8  I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.

Lastly, John the Baptist (not an apostle) came along before anyone ever heard of Jesus.  So, where did he get his authority?  Luke 20:4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” 

Scripture is full of evidence regarding disciples like Paul, Philip, Stephen i.e, curing the ill, healing the lame, and even, once again, casting out demons.  They weren’t ordained but had the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and, therefore, understood their authority.

Fast forward to today.  You and I have the authority to spread the good news in whatever means is comfortable to us. ” Am I not a disciple?” I ask myself all of the time.  Of course I am.  But I discern all of the time about how far my authority extends.  I feel the obligation to spread the good news via this blog, defend God’s Word, teach and love.  I don’t have the authority to judge.  Maybe the actions per se, but not any person.  (Still a fine line of which I constantly remove myself.)  A biggie is healing.  Do I have the faith in myself that I could actually heal someone?  Shorten that question as to if I have the faith. As Jesus told the apostles, if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains.

Acts of the Apostles 8:6-8  speaks of Philip and his mission…Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.  He was granted, and assumed, authority and began doing great things.  

When I ask myself, “By what authority?”, I think about what John wrote in Revelations 2:28  They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!  

When I was once applying for the diaconate, I had a short conversation with a priest who was at St. Matthew leading a lenten mission.  When speaking about my wishes of becoming a deacon he told me, “You don’t have to be ordained to do God’s work.”  When I wasn’t selected it was ok because it didn’t mean I had to shut everything down in service of Christ.

Moral of the story is, as I think about all of this information I’ve shared, I do have authority…but proceed with caution!  I’d better be right and have God’s intentions in my heart.

God Bless

 

My special time with God

On Saturday mornings I get up at 3:30am and go to adoration at St. Matthew…from 4-5.  I find that it has become my special time.  Even though one or two others might be there, I still consider it my alone time.  (If there are any non-Catholics reading this and not sure what I mean by adoration, let me know and I’ll be happy to share.)

The tabernacle sits in a very small chapel.  At that time of the day there is absolutely no sound.  While I’m there I pray the rosary, read scripture and promise Jesus that I will listen to anything He has to tell me.

I recall many years ago that one of our young Franciscan priests came to adoration and fell asleep.  How relaxed and calm he must have been.  I can’t think of a better place.  I told my wife that the ideal place to pass away is in front of the Holy Eucharist.  We, as Catholics, believe that once consecrated the bread becomes the true presence of Jesus Christ.  Even 1 Samuel 21:6 speaks about the true presence.  Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.  John 6:48 puts it more simply, Yes, I am the bread of life!

People question me at times about His true presence.  They want to know, how I know.  We have our Catholic teachings and, of course, scripture; but that’s not the only way I know.  I cannot gaze upon His presence for any length time.  I will glance, but knowing that it is Jesus, I bow my head, in reverence,  for almost the entire hour.

Want to feel the Holy Spirit work and create your alone time with God?  Give Eucharistic Adoration a shot.

God Bless