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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

His god Wants Him Happy

I talked with a woman the other day who’s been married 27 years. She told me her husband wants a divorce so he can marry the woman with whom he’s been sleeping for the past several months. As his excuse, he said to her, “My god wants me to be happy.”

I tried not to look too stunned, but I doubt I was successful. A moment later I responded, “I believe it is true that his god wants him to be happy. But,” I continued, “his god is clearly not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Later that afternoon while driving home, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a breakfast meeting I’d had the day before with some local church leaders. As we ate our pancakes and bacon, I overheard two ministers from a nearby church who talked among themselves about their same-sex ‘partners.’

And so the bold ‘in-your-face’ mockery of God's demand for our holiness and sanctification goes on and on and on. Yet even though I've encountered multiple dozens of such self-deceived church-goers in the past decade, I still do not cease to be amazed that such people can be so shamelessly cavalier with Him of whom the Holy Spirit warned:

“If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries . . . . It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)

The true and eternal God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will not be mocked; especially by those who call themselves Christians.

It really will be a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Oh, Holy Spirit PLEASE -- help us all to not “think lightly of the riches of [Your] kindness and tolerance and patience.” Indeed, as the Scripture tells us, Your kindness should lead us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Too Hard? Really?

I hear it so often I get so weary of it. “The Bible is too hard to understand for the lay person. They need to have a good commentary in order to understand it.”

But when they say that they preclude the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth – as Jesus said He would.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13-14)

Of course, there are passages of Scripture for which the average reader can benefit from some guidance into the history and culture surrounding what was is written in Scripture. But in my reading of the Bible multiple times, there comes to my mind only a small snippets of God’s -- especially the New Testament -- for which we need additional guidance. I’d suggest easily 95% of the New Testament can be understood by a child.

But when we insist people need a commentary to understand the Scripture, we do nothing less than give many Christians an excuse to avoid reading the Bible. That is why the words of the prophet Amos come to  mymind: “Behold days are coming when I will send a famine on the land, not a salmon for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and from North even to the east, they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord but they will not find it. (Amos 8:11-13).

Has anyone else noticed the famine in our land for the word of God? Television, radio, books -- even from some of our pulpits, nothing less than pablum week after endless week. Lukewarm mush to tickle the ears of those in the pews. Banal drivel without either authority, or challenge, or exhortation to live holy lives.

There is good reason the Lord Jesus told us to pray, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:37). 

And Oh, God!  I add, please give your children a passion to read your word for themselves, that we may know You, and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering, that our lives may be truly conformed to Yours.

Monday, May 15, 2017

No Other Address

It came back to me twice. The first time, I only glanced at the address, thinking my email provider's network was acting up again - as it does occasionally. But when my message returned the second time to my in-box, I looked more closely at the address. Then I saw my mistake: I had accidentally added a letter to the addressee's name.

Unlike mail delivered by the U. S. Postal Service, an electronic-mail address demands perfection. Mail carriers have correctly delivered mail to my house despite multiple misspellings on the envelope. I have even received my mail when it was addressed to the incorrect house number. Electronic mail, however, is a different story. One letter out of place, one character missing, and your letter is not going anywhere but into the great cyberspace-boomerang.

The analogy is not perfect, but when it comes to the subject of eternal salvation, many people presume God is more like a friendly mail carrier than an inflexible email provider. They believe it doesn't matter how the mail is addressed: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, the Good Fairy. All roads lead to heaven -- or so the argument goes. As long as our intentions are good, the celestial delivery service will get us where we want to go.

They couldn't be more wrong. God accepts only one address for eternal life. He has determined only one Savior, one Bridge between us and God, one Door between heaven and earth.

The Jewish Prophets caught just a glimpse of Him. Isaiah said He shall be called, " . . . Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace'" (Isaiah 9:6). The prophet Daniel added, "And to Him was given (an everlasting) dominion . . . that all the peoples . . . might serve Him" (Daniel 7:14). But it was not until half a millennium after Daniel's death that the Savior's identity was fully revealed.

St. Peter told those gathered in Jerusalem that heaven's only acceptable address is spelled JESUS CHRIST (Acts 4:12). St. Paul wrote, "At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me (John 14:6). And further: [Jesus said], "unless you believe I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

Sometimes I am frustrated when the cyber-postmaster rejects my email. The idea that I could have made a mistake hardly crosses my mind. It's easier to place blame on the email provider, and more than once I have muttered aloud that if they can't be more efficient, I'll take my business elsewhere. Truth is, however, I don't need another email provider. I just need to follow the rules when I address my mail. Nothing short of perfection will work.

God's rule about eternal life is equally rigid. He requires nothing short of perfection in our "address." There is no savior but Jesus. No forgiveness of sins except through Jesus. No access to heaven apart from Jesus. Anything added to His rule, anything taken away, will only result in our rejection at heaven's gates.

And there will be no in-box available for a second chance.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Man Upstairs(?) Sermon May 11 2017

Some are flippant when referring to Almighty God. Others think we should grovel at His feet. But what saith the Scriptures? I talk about it here:  https://youtu.be/sTxWgkb70nI

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Two Sparrows

I like being in control of the circumstances that  can impact my life. Put another way, I hate NOT being in control, and I typically try to manipulate circumstances to ensure I attain control of whatever it is that falls across my path. That might be why I often find myself frustrated, angry, and at times bitter – because control over life is more often illusory than reality.

Then I read words like these: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  (Matthew 10:29-31) 

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  . . . .” (Matthew 6:26-32)

That thing about the birds usually hangs out in my intellect. Only on rare occasions does that truth reach into my heart. God knows when even one falls to the ground. Does He not know – and care about – my circumstances?

At 67, and having walked with Jesus for 45 years, I know it is high time for me to finally adopt a different attitude. But my multiple failures to change my attitude have, by this time, convinced me that such a seismic shift in my faith is not at all under my control. I absolutely need the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit.

How would my life – indeed, all of our lives be better – if by the Holy Spirit’s work, I put into practice my intellectual belief that God’s love is truly limitless and never failing – even during my desperate struggles and dreadful disappointments?  What if we were convinced that St. Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome also applies to 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 8:35-39)

What if we were unhesitatingly convinced God is good all the time and in all circumstances – that Psalm 145 is always true: The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds (verse 17)?

What if we were persuaded that God always retains absolute and moment by moment authority over nations, kings, and individuals? That Proverbs 21:1 is always true: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes”; as is Isaiah 40:15 “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold . . . All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”

“Richard,” I should start asking myself every time I sense a loss of control over my life’s circumstances, “What do you need that your heavenly Father cannot provide?  And if He does NOT provide it, does that mean He is Capricious? He cannot be trusted, or is in any measure impotent?”

“Or does it mean something more magnificent – that my circumstances can turn out for my good –perhaps especially if I participate with Him in the circumstances that surround me?”
Several years ago I wrote a poem that summarizes everything I’ve asked myself again and again, not only in recent years, but now once more today as I write this. I include the poem here because I believe it ought to provide all of us food for thought as we continue our journey toward spiritual maturity. And perhaps it will also help solidify the truth in our hearts that all we REALLY can control is our attitude toward life’s circumstances and events – and that we should just let God be God in our lives.

My First Thought

When I finally leave this body and stand in the presence of my Father's glory, when He reaches from His throne and draws me to His lap, when I then understand what I could not understand in life – that being the enormity of His incomprehensible power, the limitlessness of His authority over every molecule of eternity . . . when I finally understand that no creature in heaven or on earth can open what he shuts or close what He opens, and that the totality of creation throughout countless galaxies bow at His presence . . .

When I leave this body and stand in His presence, I think my first thought – when I realize where I am and in whose arms I rest – my first thought will not be shrouded in sorrow for my many sins, for things I did or did not do in life.

I think I will be most sorry that I didn’t trust Him more, when I had so many chances to do so.