If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Sad Verse

This has to be one of the saddest verses in the New Testament: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.” (John 12:42)

That happened 2000 years ago. Yet, how many people have you come across in your experience who would not come to Jesus, would not live for Jesus, chose not to commit to Jesus because if they did, others would ostracize them from their ‘group’ – whatever that group might be.

Oh! May it never be that you or I should EVER succumb to that idolatry. Oh, God! Hear our prayer.

When Shall We Be Salt Again?

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you . . . “ (Romans 2:24). 

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless . . . it is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matthew 5:13).

With the moral decay sweeping America nearly at sonic speed, and the stunning silence of Christian leaders in general, and of Catholic leaders in particular, this Vatican document should raise a critical question in our hearts: Specifically, don’t we realize our silence – even (God forbid!) our tacit approval in the face of such moral depravity – is a great scandal? And our failure to stand for righteousness a stench in the nostrils of God?

Here is a portion of that Church document titled, Gaudium et Spes,  Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Second Vatican Council, 1965

Paragraph 19 – Kinds of Atheism and Its Causes

19 .  . . .  Without doubt those who willfully try to drive God from their heart and to avoid all questions about religion, not following the dictates of their conscience, are not free from blame. But believers themselves often share some responsibility for this situation. For, in general, atheism is not present in people's minds from the beginning. It springs from various causes, among which must be included a critical reaction against religions and, in some places, against the Christian religion in particular. Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.  (Underline is my emphasis)

While we spend our time debating philosophy and social justice issues, our world is putrefying around us. And multiple millions of souls are being lost.

Forever.

Isn’t it time for laity and leaders to stand for Christ, become salt of the earth, and stop the madness? For if we do not, the second part of Christ’s warning will be the sure result.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Wolves and Sheep


It is not the white collar that makes a man a man of God. It is not the title, or the education, it is not the size of the congregation, or the praise given him by others that makes a man a man of God.

It is a lifestyle lived in obedience to the word of God that makes a man a man of God.

St. Paul’s warning about Satan’s workers in the pew and in church leadership is applicable to 2018: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

Please! For your sake, and for the sake of your family, develop a working knowledge of God’s word so you may accurately practice Biblical discernment.

Do not trust those who, regardless of title or position, do not seek daily to imitate Jesus in word, in thought, and in action. 

The wolves still dress remarkably well in sheep’s clothing. You will know them by their fruit – and by their words.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Simple and Direct Approach

It had been years since I had prayed to God. Been that many years since I even chose to admit He existed. I wanted to do what I wanted to do far more than I wanted to admit I was doing wrong. 
But then came that day in September 1972. It was Yom Kippur,  the Day of Atonement. The highest of the holy days in my Jewish faith. And the weight of my compounding sins pressed heavily on me. 
I could not – I would not on this day play games any longer with God. But I didn’t know what to say to the One from whom I had run for so many years. So I chose the simple and direct approach: 
“God, forgive me for my past sins, and look with tolerance on my future sins.”
I knew I was trapped in sin. I knew intuitively I’d never be free of it. I could only plead with God for His mercy.
And in His mercy, three months later, He showed me Jesus.
Only those who’ve despaired, who’ve grieved over their sin can understand the freedom, the joy, the wonder, the grace, the glory, the relief inherent in that last clause.
I hope you are such a one.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Clenched Fists

I wrote this a long time ago. Twenty years, if memory serves me well: ----------- His muscles quivered with tension. His tail flicked left, right – and left again. Anticipation oozed from every pore of his mixed Pug/Chihuahua body. How could I say no to those coal-black eyes? "You want a chewy?" Before the last syllable left my lips, Odie leapt and twirled in circles around my legs. His ear-piercing yelps sent goose bumps down the back of my neck. You'd think I'd offered him a 32-ounce charbroiled steak.
I pushed open the pantry door and reached for the dog treats. That was a mistake. As soon as he saw me pull the box from the shelf, he ratcheted up his frenzy another few decibels. Odie's only a foot and a half tall when standing on his hind legs, but can fly three feet off the floor at the thought of getting a goodie. "Sit," I ordered. "Roll over. Good dog." Satisfied he knew who was boss, I tossed the treat at his feet. Before it bounced twice, he snatched it between his teeth and trotted to his rug in the kitchen. He circled himself into a cozy spot and, for the next few moments, I watched him nuzzle and lick his chewy with the affection I thought he reserved only for me. He seemed oblivious to my existence . . . until I took a step toward him. As I did, he scrambled to his feet and snatched the treasure between his jaws. I smiled when I realized what Odie was thinking. I stepped back and he carefully laid it again on the floor – never taking his eyes off me. Each time I moved toward him, he grabbed the chewy as if to challenge: "Mine! You can't have it." I played the game a few more times until I tired of it and walked past him into the living room. From the recliner, I watched him still watching me and I wondered, didn't he realize I'm the one who feeds him, takes him for walks in the rain, snow, heat, and hail? Didn't he remember I sacrificed my favorite belt so we could play tug-of-war? I thought we were buddies. So why does he jealously guard a treat I gave him? While Odie nuzzled his treasure and warily eyed me, a troublesome question interrupted my thoughts: How often do I act like Odie? Just as every good thing my dog gets, he gets from me, so every good thing I get "is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow" (James 1:17, NASB). From the goodness of my heart, I give Odie chewies. From the goodness of God's heart, I receive treasures such as money, talents, and time. So why, when He asks me to return some of my treasure to His work, do I jealously guard each coin, each minute, each talent in tightly clenched fists, as if to challenge the Giver: "It's mine! You can't have it"? After these many years of walking with Christ I still struggle with that question. Odie acts like a beast because he is a beast. But, I am a child of God. I wish I'd act more often like one. What are you holding in clenched fists?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Free!


I am 68 years old. 
Wow. Sixty-eight.  
Sometimes I get to wondering how many years I have left – if my lifespan is still measured in years. It might be months. Or days.
That’s why when I read this verse again in John 8, I felt encouraged: "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Verse 31)
The truth will make you free. 
Free from what? I asked myself. And the answer came quickly to mind. 
Were it not for my love for Jesus, I would fear death. Were it not for my trust in Jesus’ promise of eternal life for those who obey Him, the afterlife would terrify me. Were it not for my love-guided relationship with Jesus, death would be a nightmare from which I could never awaken. 
But oh! “Death, where now is your victory? Death, where now is your sting? For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But, Oh! Oh! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  (See 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Were it not for Jesus, no child of God could sing out to one another: “Therefore, be steadfast. Immovable. Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is never in vain in the Lord.” (See 1 Corinthians 15:58)
Oh God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, please compel us to always seek Truth. It is only Truth that frees us from the fear of death. It is only Truth that frees us to work fruitfully in Your vineyard.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Real Presence

The ‘Real Presence of Christ’ is a theological term referring to the doctrine that Jesus is literally – not merely symbolically or metaphorically – but literally present in the Eucharist used in Holy Communion. Not only literally is Jesus present in the consecrated bread and wine, but He is present entirely – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. 
Because the doctrine of the Real Presence is rooted in the supernatural work of God as expressed in Scripture, it is as true – yet as inexplicable – as the doctrine of the Trinity. Because it is grounded in the supernatural work of God expressed in Scripture, the Real Presence is as true – and as inexplicable – as the reality that Jesus is 100% human and 100% God. Because the Real Presence rests squarely on the supernatural work of God taught by Scripture, it is as true – yet as inexplicable – as the doctrine that we can be born again and become a new creation in Christ. 
We ought not to insist our natural and finite minds grasp the supernatural and infinite work of God. 
Here is what God-in-the-flesh taught His disciples early in His ministry (John 6:48ff): I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.. . . 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh . . . “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.” 
Then, just before His crucifixion, at the end of His earthly ministry, the Lord gathered His disciples for the Last Supper. Matthew records it this way: 
“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”  (Matthew 26:26ff) 
Years later, the apostle Paul addressed the subject in 1 Corinthians 10:16 –  Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a ‘sharing’ in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a ‘sharing’ in the body of Christ?” 
It is also worth noting that Christian theologians of the early centuries – even before the Roman Catholic Church gained religious ascendancy in the West – early Doctors of the Church would have thoroughly rejected the idea that the Lord’s words in John 6 and later at the Last Supper were merely symbolic. 

For example: 
St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 A.D.) “I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible.” (Letter to the Romans 7:3) 
St. Justin the Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.) “For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.” (First Apology, 66)
And there are many other theologians who are well-respected in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox circles today, who also believed in the Real Presence. For example:

Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 140 - 202 A.D.) 
Tertullian (c. 155 - 250 A.D.)
Origen (c. 185 - 254 A.D.) 
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - 216 A.D.) 
Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 - 258 A.D.) 
Athanasius (c. 295 - 373 A.D.) 
Basil the Great (c. 330 - 379 A.D.) 
Gregory of Nazianz (c. 330 - 389 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (c. 344 - 407 A.D.)
Ambrose of Milan (c. 333 - 397 A.D.)
Jerome (c. 347 - 420 A.D.)
Augustine (c. 354 - 430 A.D.)
And, finally (if there could be a final comment about the Real Presence), Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, also believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. 
So, what’s the point?  When the Lord Jesus spoke of His Body and Blood in John 6, and to His disciples at the Last Supper, did He intend His words to be taken symbolically or metaphorically? 

Or did He expect us to take His words as literally as when He said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die”? (John 11:25-26)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mildred Was Right

I sat with a small group of seven or eight men and women in various stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We meet each Thursday morning for about 40 minutes to talk about Jesus, listen to a hymn or two, and talk about their prayer life. After we read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, I asked the group what they thought about Jesus’ death. A woman on my left, Mildred, startled me with her answer. She said, “It was useless.” When l asked what she meant by it being useless, her answer was simple and direct, yet profound.  She said, “What they tried to do didn’t work.” As her meaning blossomed in my mind, I sat in stunned silence. I’d never heard the events of Good Friday expressed so simply; And oh, how wonderful it was to watch her clouded memory pull from her Baptist past a truth so many, with far clearer memories, fail to understand. The religious and political leaders of Jesus’ day wanted Him dead. They’d heard enough of His teaching to recognize the threat He posed to their positions of power and religious authority. So they stirred the mob to cry out, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him” – although He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. As Mildred recognized, their plan was useless. Yes, they killed Him. As surely as if they themselves had hammered the nails into His hands, they – along with the Roman government – they killed Him. But three days later they discovered death could not hold the Prince of Life. If you haven't noticed, nothing has changed in 2000 years. Today’s rich and politically savvy power-hungry leaders know very well that Jesus’ teachings fatally undermine every one of their schemes to retain power and authority. And although most of them will go to their graves still refusing to accept it, their plots to destroy what Jesus is doing in people like you and me will still prove to be absolutely useless. Writing of Jesus several centuries before He walked those dusty roads of Israel, the Psalmist said it this way -- and his words echo into 2018: “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them." "Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.” “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2). Yes, it is always true, because God ensures it will always be true: How blessed are all who take refuge in the Prince of Life. Amen.


The Absolute Center


“They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (John 1:21-23)

John the Baptist is not the only person God called to be a voice crying out in the wilderness. Such is the enormous privilege and responsibility is given to everyone who calls Jesus Lord. For example:

“Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

And 1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Our Savior has entrusted us with the gospel – the good news of God’s love and His offer to forgive even our most egregious sins.

But, we cannot be fruitful with what He has entrusted us if we cubbyhole our faith to one day a week. If our devotion to Christ does not direct our affairs Sunday through Sunday, if our faith is not the cornerstone of what we say and how we act in the home, the workplace, the classroom, the supermarket, the ball field – then perhaps what we have is not faith in Christ at all.

Perhaps it is better described as a hobby.

There is only one way to fix that serious flaw: Prayer, followed by confession and a decision to, with God’s help, make Jesus the absolute center of our life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Little Foxes


As I prepared for my upcoming Bible study in the Song of Solomon, a verse in chapter two caught my attention: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom” (verse 15). 

‘Little foxes’ that destroy the vineyard are like the ‘little sins’ that destroy our fruitfulness for God. This picture is not unlike what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 10: “Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink.” (The word for oil is also used for the fragrant anointing oil the Old Testament priests used for anointing the altar of God. Similarly, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet used a fragrant oil). 

What sins do we consider ‘little’? An unwillingness to forgive? Gossip? Pride? A volatile temper? The list for some of us would fill this page. But St. Augustine said it well when he noted: “While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.” 

Be careful about those ‘little sins.’  They tirelessly work to destroy our fruitfulness for Christ. Like so many dead flies, they each create a stench in our life for Christ. 

What is our hope? Confession, and a determination to seek God for help in turning away from those little sins and dead flies.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Romans 8:1

One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There are at least six important elements in these thirteen words. I’d like to share them with you for further reflection on your own. 1. “Therefore”: This word ties directly back to what the apostle talked about in the last several verses of chapter seven. Essentially: “I do what I don’t want to do. I don’t do what I want to do. What a wretched person I am! Who will deliver me?” He answers that question in this first verse of chapter eight. 2.  “There is Now”: This word focuses us on the present. It is not something that will happen in the future. It is already accomplished. Now. As you read this. Paul tells us, “There is now . . .” 3. ‘. . . . No Condemnation”: Now we are now safe! Now we are now free. Now we are rescued from the eternal wages of sin the apostle wrote about in chapter six and verse twenty-three. God will not now condemn us for our past sins. There is now no condemnation . . . . 4. “. . . . For those”:  Paul begins to bring this message of promise to its climax – a promise only for a very specific group of people. This is a critical point. The promise is only for a specific group of people . . . 5. “. . . Who are in”: The assurance of “no condemnation” applies only to those who are ‘in’ (Someone). The assurance is only for those who have an intimate, obedient and personal relationship with the subject of this verse, who is . . . 6. “Christ Jesus”: No one escapes condemnation except in Jesus. No one comes to the Father except in Jesus. No one finds forgiveness except in Jesus. He alone is the way to heaven. He alone is truth. He alone is life. There you have it. Six elements in this one verse, each directly related to our eternal life in and through Christ. Perhaps, as we reflect further on these points, we will find deeper understanding of what Jesus has done for us.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

What's He Going to Call You?


I hear it so often, I don’t know why I’m still surprised when people ascribe their life-successes to their intellect and talents – even to ‘good luck.’ Yet they hardly – if ever – give God more than a cursory nod for their achievements.  

Really? Are they serious? 

Who else but God, who lovingly orchestrates events and people and circumstances – who else but God drops thoughts into our minds to go here or there, to do this or that, so as to place us at the right time and place that ultimately leads to those achievements?  And He does all that even while He knows so many of us will remain thankless.
Such sad hubris is not a new thing. Here’s what Moses wrote some 3500 years ago:
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God . . . otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply . . . then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God . . . [and] you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth . . . (Deuteronomy 8:11-18).
There is, of course, a more honorable way to live. It’s called humility. It’s called gratitude – gratitude to the One without whose grace we could not even take our next breath. 
On July 4th, Americans take time to remember when our forefathers declared their independence from tyranny. But July 4th is also a good day to declare our independence from another tyranny – the tyranny of the deceptive illusion of self-importance. And it’s a time to declare our utter dependence on our Creator for our life, liberty, and our freedom to pursue happiness. 
Two millennia ago, the Lord Jesus reminded everyone who had ears to hear of the essential element of real success – success that transcends centuries and cultures and creeds:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)
In 21st century vernacular, God tells those who choose to live independent from His influence and direction, “You’re a failure.” But He tells those who choose to live dependent on Him, “You are a success.”
What’s God going to call you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

It's Called, "Faith"


Anyone who asks, I tell them I have absolutely no doubt that if I die today, I will find myself staring into the loving and smiling face of Jesus my Savior. 
Some people, though, have told me I am too presumptuous about God. 
I don’t think I am.  
It is not presumption to take God at His word. It was He who said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24) 
‘Belief’ in the NT is inseparably tied to obedience. Now notice the bolded verb tenses. They describe something already accomplished. 
And neither is it presumption to believe the apostle John when, under the inerrant inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)  Notice again the verb tenses describing something already accomplished.
But – and this is critical – the one who lives habitually in sin, even going so far as to take without repentance Holy Communion, and yet thinks he or she has eternal life – now THAT is presumption. 
That is dangerous, deadly, even damnable presumption. (For example, see Luke 13:25-27). 
God is always true to His promises. Whether for salvation or for damnation, God is never ambiguous. When we live for Christ, walking with Him each day, seeking to the best of our ability to obey Him – and always ready to confess and turn from sin – our trust in His promises is not at all presumption.
It’s called, faith.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Guilty, But . . .

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. (Revelation 20:12)

As I sat one morning and pondered the Final Judgment, my thoughts wandered to what it might be like when the books – the books that record my life – are opened before the Great Judge. And Scripture texts cascaded across the images forming in my mind.

----------

I am dead.

I don’t know how I know it, but I am dead. And I stand before the Judgment Seat of God.1 The Accuser2 stands next to me, denouncing me and charging me with the many crimes I’ve committed during my life. Murder. Perversions. Treasons. Rebellions. The litany seems to never end. He cites all of them.

Each in order.

I don’t remember most of them, but my prosecutor holds aloft his dossier of dates and times and places. And with each accusation the memories of my forgotten sins flood my mind. They overwhelm me. With great shame – and fear – I try to push them from my memory, but to no avail.

Then almost from nowhere, He appears – my advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.3

He waits for the accuser to finish. And then He looks soberly at the Judge. “These accusations are all true,” Jesus says. “But Father, I ransomed him with My blood.4, 5  He entered the waters of baptism. He confessed his sins with each offense. 6He followed Me and served Me these many years.7And You promised I would not lose any whom you have given Me.”8

The Judge listens in silence. Then He looks at my Accuser. He looks at me. He looks at my Advocate. He raises His gavel, and I wait for what is about to come next.

“Guilty,” the Judge says with a solemnity I shall forever remember. “I declare you guilty on all counts.”

Panic – unrelenting panic grips me. And then I hear Him add, “But I hereby pardon you of all counts for the sake of my son, Jesus.” 9, 10

His gavel falls to the Bench with a crack that echoes throughout the chambers of heaven and of hell.

Dazed, I look at my Advocate. His eyes smile back. It is true. Gloriously, wondrously true. I am pardoned. Forgiven. Redeemed forever because of the blood of the Lamb.

---------------
(All scripture from Revised Standard Version Catholic edition)
1 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. (Rev 20:12)

2 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Rev 12:10)

3And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

4 And they sang a new song, saying,“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Rev 5:9)

5 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

6If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

7 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26)

8And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. (John 6:39)

9But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

10 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)