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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No Reason for Bravado



“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

Satan is on a search-and-destroy mission. And his primary target is the church leadership team. If he can destroy your bishop’s testimony, or your pastor’s, the catechist, or the choir director, the collateral damage to the average pew-sitter is usually devastating.

Of course, even those who do nothing more than sit in the pew each Sunday are not safe from the devil’s stratagem. Every Christian, even the laity, has a bull’s-eye painted on his or her soul. If the devil can destroy any Christian’s testimony, then think of the collateral damage he causes in the person’s family, among friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

Anyone who walks close to Jesus knows that the days in which we live are evil. A deeply visceral, spiritual darkness has spread across our world like a rancid shroud. That’s why every Christian must remember, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

Here is what the apostle also wrote to the church at Ephesus: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

I am reminded of Peter’s bravado when speaking to Jesus: Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.” (Mark 14:29) To which Jesus responded: “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” (verse 30). But Peter protested, this time vehemently: “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Verse 31)

Oh, how often have I sounded like Peter! Perhaps you have, too. No wonder the Holy Spirit warns us: So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Any Christian in the pew -- and perhaps especially in leadership -- can weaken, bloodied in the Satanic battle for our souls. The fight is too serious to enter the fray unprepared. It is too deadly to wage on our own. Oh, Holy Spirit! Remind us of that full armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-18).  Remind us, Oh, Lord, to daily “pray for one another,” because “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.(James 5:16)

Oh, Lord, hear our prayers.
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My book of prayer strategies, although written specifically for a Catholic audience, has sufficient overlap to other Christian groups to assist your prayer efforts.  http://amzn.to/2jltojF

Sunday, January 15, 2017

In His Time -- a YouTube message



God does not work according to our time line or our spatial relationships. That demonstrable truth is CRITICAL to our ability to cope with and to manage some of the things we face in our life. I talk about it during my 25-minute message I call: “In His Time”   https://youtu.be/CWHn584J2Ko

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

His Name is Jonathan



His name is Jonathan. Our meeting this evening at Kroger’s Market is nothing short of God-ordained.

It began earlier today when Nancy returned home from shopping and told me she lost her credit card – probably in the Kroger parking lot. We knew it would be useless to try to find it, so she called the bank and cancelled the card. A few hours later we had dinner, and I decided to take my usual after-dinner walk. We needed butter, so I walked the 15 minutes to the store.

When I arrived, I thought on a whim to ask the woman behind the customer service desk if anyone had turned in a credit card. She told me, “No,” so I thanked her and walked away. Not ten steps later she called me back. A man – Jonathan – was standing at the customer service counter. He had just turned in a credit card. He said he found it in the parking lot.

It was Nancy’s.

Suddenly aware of how this meeting could not have been planned by anyone but God, I repeatedly thanked Jonathan for his honesty and then told him I was going to pray for him. When I opened my walled to offer him money to emphasize my gratitude, he said to me, “I’d rather have your prayers than your money.”

How extraordinary!
 
If you are of a mind to do so, would you also pray for Jonathan – for health, for finances, a relationship – I’ve no idea what he needs most. But God certainly does. I cannot doubt, considering the randomness of the timing of our meeting, that our meeting was orchestrated by God. Nor can I doubt that God has

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Poetry in Motion

"For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus . . . ." (Ephesians 2:10)

The apostle could have used other words for ‘handiwork’ when he penned this verse. But God inspired him to use ‘poiema’ – the Greek word from which we get, ‘poem.’

Ponder a moment what that means. The Holy Spirit wants us to know that those in Christ Jesus are God’s profoundly artistic handiwork. Whatever your appearance, whatever your past or present, to Him you are poetry in motion, a wondrously beautiful composition of His ineffable creative love.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Crouching at the Door -- Sermon



God told Cain he had a choice:  Do well, and your  countenance will be lifted up. Do wrong, and sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you.  You must master it.” That was Cain’s choice. It is also our choice.  To do well or to do wrong.  I talk about what we face in the year 2017. You can listen here:  https://youtu.be/b-LN6colYp0

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Personal BC and AD

2017 years ago the One who created history separated history into B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, meaning ‘Year of the Lord’).

I know some have labeled history before Christ as B.C.E (Before the Common Era), and history after Christ as CE (Common Era). But history labeled with any other letters is still measured by God as ‘Before the Manger’ and ‘After the Manger’ -- Because God designed it that way.

But that's not the end of it.

Here is some good news for our personal histories: As God separated human history, He offers every man and woman an opportunity to separate their own history into a ‘Before Christ,’ and ‘After Christ.’

Here is what the Holy Spirit tells us through St. Paul: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthian 5:17).

Are you a new creation in Christ? Are you ‘born again,’ as Jesus defined it in John 3? If so, then thanks be to God that your life’s story has a ‘Before Christ’ and ‘Anno Domini’’ record.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Seven Words (repost)



A few minutes ago I got to thinking about the seven words I said to God 44 years ago. As my thoughts lingered on that memory, I thought it might be good to post this essay once again. It originally appeared here a couple of years ago.
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On this day 44 years ago I said seven words that changed my life. “God, I believe Jesus is the Messiah.”
Christmas Eve. 1972. I was 22 years old, kneeling beside my bunk in Barracks ‘M’ on the navy base in Yokosuka, Japan.

Back then I knew nothing about theology. I knew nothing about the Sacraments. I knew nothing even about the Scriptures. What I did know, after reading Hal Lindsay’s book of Bible Prophecy, The Late Great Planet Earth, was Jesus is the Messiah God promised to Israel and to the world.

Jesus. The Lamb of God who would take away our sins; even my sins. Even the worst and the darkest of my many sins.

Seven words. “God, I believe Jesus is the Messiah.”

No telling Him what He already knew of my past. No promise of repentance, or a plea for His forgiveness.

Just, “I believe.”

But what I did not say to God with my mouth, I said to Him with my heart : “From this moment I’m going to live for you. With your help, I'm going to walk a holy life. With your help I'm going to serve you for the rest of my life.”

Without even thinking to punctuate my words with action, I got up off my knees, walked to my chest of drawers, grabbed the plastic bag of marijuana and emptied it into the toilet. Then I went to my footlocker, grabbed the porn magazines, and threw them into the dumpster behind my barracks.

On Christmas Eve in 1972 God gave me the most wonderful Christmas gift I could have ever received. In a moment of time, like the twinkling of an eye, before the seven words had even crossed my lips, God gave me His gift of eternal salvation. He made me a new child in Christ. Old things had passed away. Everything became new. And on that same Christmas Eve, I gave God the best gift I could ever have given Him. I gave him my life. Forty-four years later, it still ranks as the best thing I have ever done. And Oh, I still love to sing it:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


(I hope you have at some time in the past said to God something similar to the seven words I said with my mouth and with my heart – and that you still live those words.  If not – please know that you still can do so).