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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

No Hope - Unless . . .

The Bible has very little to say to us by way of hope, or encouragement, or comfort unless we believe the Scriptures are the actual words of God to us. Unless we believe every chapter, every verse, every line is without error, what confidence can anyone have that God speaks to us through its pages?

Certainly some parts of Scripture are confusing. Some are hard to understand. But always, upon in depth scrutiny, God’s word has always, and will always, prove to be what God says it is.

The reasonableness of the idea of inerrancy should surprise no one who believes God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He would not be God if He were not all of those things in total. So why should it seem unreasonable that God was able to ensure His communiqu̩ to us Рthe Scriptures Рhas been kept from error?

What the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica is exquisitely applicable to us: “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.(1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Only when they believed what Paul said to them to be “the word of God” – only then was it able to perform its work in them.

The timeless principle remains with us in the 21st century. Only when we receive the words of Scripture to be “the word of God” – only then will it be able to perform its work in us – for hope, for encouragement, for comfort, for direction, for chastisement, for spiritual nourishment.

Let God be God. And let Him speak to you through your well-studied, well-informed knowledge of His inerrant Word.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Yom Kippur -- and You

At sunset this month on September 18, many Jews will observe the most holy day in Jewish faith. 

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – dates back to the days of Moses when God instituted the observance so that, through repentance and blood sacrifice, the sins of the people could be forgiven. You’ll find reference to Yom Kippur in Leviticus, chapters 16, 17, and 23. 
As part of the ritual, God instructed the High Priest to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal on the Mercy Seat which covered the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a wood box overlaid with gold, atop which were two gold-cast angels called cherubim. Inside the Ark were the tablets of the Law God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was that Law which Israel broke not long after God gave it to Moses.

When the High Priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sins of the people, God chose to not see the broken Law, but rather the sacrificial blood. It was that blood that reconciled God again with His people.

Yom Kippur, then, provides us a picture – a figure – of what Israel’s Messiah would do, not in figure but in reality, 1500 years later. As the Holy Spirit told Israel through the prophet Isaiah:

But He (Messiah) was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah I53:5-6)

Again, the Holy Spirit tells us in the New Testament book of Hebrews: But when [Messiah] appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle . . . not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained [for us] eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

And yet again, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist said of Jesus before baptizing Him in the Jordan, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

The Jewish nation no longer has a sacrificial system of atonement – principally because they longer have a Temple or a priesthood to make sacrifice. But everyone today – Jew and non-Jew alike – has welcomed and free access to the atonement God has provided to wipe away our sins.

That access has a name. We call Him, Jesus the Messiah. Many know Him as Jesus the Christ. It is Him alone whom God designated as our atonement. He alone is our High Priest whose own blood sprinkled on our hearts covers our sins. He is our sacrificial atonement that reconciles us with God.

Have you ever asked Jesus to cover your ‘ark’ with His blood? Have you ever asked Him to make atonement for your life stained with the guilt of breaking God’s laws? You don’t need to wait for September 18 to receive full and complete reconciliation with God. 

St. Peter urged those gathered in Jerusalem for another Jewish holy day – Pentecost, and if he were standing before you now, he’d say the same thing:

"Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  (Acts 2:38-39)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Can We No Longer Use the 'G' and 'W' Words?

I published this to my blog in July 2009. I republished it to my blog fiver years later, in 2014. Today, more than nine years after the original post, things have even grown worse -- even INSIDE the Church.  I updated my original remarks only a little.

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life. (Ezekiel 33:8-9)

Many years ago, St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "For when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

In discussing politically sensitive subjects like abortion and same-sex marriage, I hear Christians appeal less and less to eternal standards -- like, God says it is Wrong (the "G" and "W" words), and instead they appeal to more nebulous "touchy-feely" arguments like, it's not good for the family, or, it's not good for the children, or, it's not good for society, or it's not good for (fill in the blank).

But God tells His followers to preach Christ. Here is His word to us through Paul's letter to Timothy: "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."  (2 Timothy 4)

Preach the truth! Teach the truth!


Why? Because the time would come when people would willfully turn their ears away from truth and seek pastors and teachers to tell them what they want to hear. 

And Oh! If there ever was such a time that people seek ear-ticklers, it is 2018.

Lord Jesus help us! When will we who claim allegiance to the King of king, Lord of lords, and the Judge of all flesh -- when will we recognize we need to leave off the arguments from sociology, philosophy and post-modern theology and stick to eternal truth? The current culture -- even within many churches -- scoff at the idea of eternal truth, but in proclaiming it, real Christians will have done what the eternal God has called us to do.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Naked and Defenseless Without It

It’s Satan’s job description to condemn you. It is his job description to twist Scripture and beat you to the ground with it. After all, if he twisted Scripture in an attempt to throw Jesus off center (Matthew 4), don’t think he will not attempt the same game-plan with you. 
But you – like your Lord Jesus – but you, wield the word of God. Take it in context, and easily defend yourself (and those you love, because Satan is after them, too) – defend yourself against the devil’s fiery arrows of lies, confusions, doubts, fears. 
It is the shield of faith (Ephesians 6), forged by your knowledge of God’s word – along with the sword of the spirit (which ‘is’ the word of God, Ephesians 6), that extinguishes those devilish arrows. It is your faith in God’s inviolable promises that enable you to stand firm against the trickeries of the evil one. It is God’s promises like: 
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death). (Romans 8:1-2) 
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” 
“Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . .” 
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39) 
“[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him . . . for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) 
“But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9) 
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 (my emphasis). (1 John 5:11-13) 
The Devil has his job description, and he does his work well. But our great God and Savior, Jesus, has given us His shield and sword for impenetrable protection. 
Learn to use them effectively. There is no substitute to effectively defend against Satan’s lies than the armor which God alone has given us (Ephesians 6). 
If you do not already regularly read God’s word, do an Internet search for key words such as ‘Bible reading plans” – or try mine at: http://bit.ly/2cv5cee  

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The God of 'Good For'

I wrote and posted this four years ago. I thought to repost it today:

"Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter?  You slaughtered  My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire" (Ezekiel 16:20-21).

And because of their tireless and stubborn slaughter of the innocents, within a generation God sent devastation across Israel and dragged His Chosen people into more than 70 years of captivity and slavery.

We do not now sacrifice our children to idols of stone or wood. Instead we slaughter them on the altars of less tangible gods –gods of Me and My, of gods we call:  

Good for Me.
Good for My career.
Good for My happiness.
Good for My comfort.
Good for My convenience.
Good for My pleasure.
Good for My finances.
Good for My plans.
Good for My  . . . .

In the last generation Americans slaughtered 55 million innocent children to those gods, children whom God gave us, children we sacrificed on altars of unfettered self-indulgence.

Do we really believe we will not face our own disaster unless we repent?

But what would happen in America if every bishop, every priest, every pastor, every deacon who calls Jesus Lord stood before congregations next Sunday, and every Sunday until the slaughter stops  -- what would happen if they warned their congregations that to support politicians who support abortion is to share in their murderous practice, and therefore place themselves in mortal danger of sharing their eternal damnation?*

What would happen in America if every Christian in every pew in every church across denominational lines would tell their bishops and priests and pastors and deacons – stand with us against the slaughter to the idols of Me and My?

As God’s warning remains ever current, so does His promise:  “If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

* 2 John verses 10-11

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

God Blew It (?)

“I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” (Galatians 2:21, NRSVCE)

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:21, NLT)
God Blew It (?) 

If we can be righteous by keeping God’s law, then God blew it. He made a serious error in judgment, because at the end of the proverbial day, Jesus didn’t need to die to pay the penalty for our sins. We could make it to heaven on our own merits.

But if what Scripture says is true – that our righteousness before God is entirely, wholly, completely, and inextricably tied to what Jesus did on Calvary, then ‘we’ blow it when we think we can add our works to complete His. We make a deadly error in judgment by rejecting – even in part – Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.

Let’s not blow it. Instead, let’s believe God’s word. Let’s ensure that He receives from us the absolute and undiminished honor that He alone deserves for our salvation. And let us continue to demonstrate our thankfulness to Him by our obedience to His Son.

Monday, August 27, 2018

V'imru Omein

Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo . . .
If you’ve attended a Jewish funeral, you know those Hebrew words begin the Mourner’s Prayer – also known as ‘Kaddish.’
I’ve said the prayer many times at Jewish funerals I attended. But I never bothered to find the English translation.
But on August 5, 2018, when we gathered to say Kaddish over my mother’s casket, I decided to find it.
Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo . . .
I was surprised to discover the Mourner’s prayer speaks nothing of death. Not a word. Instead, what it does speak of is the goodness and grandeur and the worthiness of our God.
What a beautiful and fitting prayer for those who grieve.
I'm sure it is not an exaggeration to say that better than 90% of Jews in America are not in the least fluent in their understanding of Hebrew. Many might be able to read the language – but without a translation the words may as well be gibberish.
And that’s sad, because mourners often miss the whole point of relational Jewish faith. I say ‘relational’ because God has always wanted His people to have a personal, vibrant, loving, and trusting relationship with Him. He has always wanted – maybe ‘hoped’ is a better word in this context – He has always hoped that His people would trust Him to be good all the time – and in all situations.
Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo . . .
Yes, God is good when the death is expected. He is good when it is sudden and unexpected. He is glorious when the death is accidental. Or suicidal. Or homicidal. He is worthy of praise when the death is of an infant, or of a great-grandparent.
He is good at all times and in all situations because He is God. He cannot be anything less than good, and wondrous, and worthy of praise.
Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo . . .
My mother’s birthday is next week, on September 8. She would have been 91. I will light the Yahrzeit candle in her memory that evening. And I will recite the Kaddish that begins, “Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo . . .”
And then I will pray the words in English:
"May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified throughout the world which he has created according to His will. May His Kingship be established in our lifetime and in our days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future."
"V’imru Omein"  (English translation: And let us say, Amen.)
"May His great name be blessed forever and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored, elevate, and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is He above and beyond any blessings and hymns, above any praises and consolations which are uttered in the world."
"V’imru Omein."
"May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel."
"V’imru Omein."
"He who makes peace in His high holy places, may He bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel."
"V’imru Omein."