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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Leaven of the Gospel - Sunday Sermon

What our world would be like if the Church did its job as the Church did its job in the first century when a few rag-tag men changed their entire world? THAT is the leaven of the gospel. You can listen to my message here:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sermon from Galatians 4_4

Those who believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God know there is a time for everything in God’s individual and specific plan for each of us. I talk about it in my latest message through Galatians. https://youtu.be/Er14bI6-_yc

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Best -- or the Only?

You were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . . (Ephesians 2:1-5).

It felt like the hottest day in mid-August. As I jogged around the neighborhood, my sweat-soaked shirt clung like a second skin. Waves of heat rippled above the asphalt. The humidity was so high, I thought I was breathing water. 

That suffocating combination of heat and humidity is probably why I smelled the cat before I saw it. I rounded the corner and spotted its decaying body in weeds by the curb. Its lifeless lips tightened into a grotesque grin, and sun-bleached ribs peeked through putrefying flesh. I held my breath and picked up the pace to move past the odor.

Over the years, I’ve passed dozens of dead animals during my exercise routine, and I always ignored them. But this time – probably to keep my mind off the heat – my thoughts wandered back to the cat.

“What if someone dressed the dead cat in a silk suit and tie?” The question dropped into my mind and, for a moment, the image startled me.

“What if someone draped a gold chain around its neck and splashed expensive cologne on its face?”

I smirked at the ludicrous image. A gallon of cologne couldn’t mask the odor of death, nor could the most expensive clothes hide its appearance. Nothing short of God’s supernatural intervention could breathe the fragrance of life into that corpse.

Then the spiritual parallel swept into my mind.

Scripture repeats the message so often, it’s a wonder anyone misses it. Without Christ, we are all spiritually dead in our sins. That’s the point St. Paul tried to impress on his readers in Ephesus: “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word the apostle used to emphasize their condition before God made them alive in Christ (v. 4) is nekros. It’s the same word from which English speakers get necrotic.

In other words, before God’s intervention, they were necrotic. And without His intervention through Christ, so are we. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we have – academic degrees, religious titles or affiliation, hefty bank accounts, political power, or praise from others. Without Christ, we stink (Isaiah 64:6; 2 Corinthians 2:15,16), and God can smell us on the other side of the universe. Nothing short of His supernatural power exercised through His Son gives us life.

The Bible calls it being, “born anew” (John 3:1-7, 1 Peter 1:3). And the Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims: One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew," a birth "of water and the Spirit," that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism” (Para 782).

Being compared to a dead animal was not a proud moment for me. But the dead cat image captured my attention and gave me a glimpse of God’s ineffable mercy, because regardless of the depth, breadth, and frequency of our sins, God’s grace can cleanse us. By our faith in Christ – and in no other -- God clothes us in glistening robes at our baptism and, through our ongoing confession and repentance, breathes life into our necrotic corpse (Isaiah 61:10).

No one smells so badly that Jesus’ blood cannot transform the odor of decay into the sweet fragrance of eternal life.

We have Scripture’s promise about it. But we also have Scripture’s warning:

Jesus is not the best way to heaven. He is the only way.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Social Media and Evangelism

Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.”(John 9:4)

Who knows how much longer Christians will be able to work in the fields that are “white to harvest”? For those who are paying attention, darkness may very well be settling not only over America, but over the whole world.

Social media has provided the devil and his children an unprecedented means of evangelizing the world for his relentless evil. But social media ALSO provides God’s children an equally unprecedented means of evangelizing the world for Jesus Christ.

Not everyone believes he or she is sufficiently articulate to write and post meaningful essays on social media about Jesus. But we DO NOT have to be articulate to effectively and fruitfully evangelize for Christ on social media.

Here is one suggestion: When you read your Bible and God speaks to you through a particular paragraph or verse, type that text into social media and share a sentence or two about what the text means to you.

Or, here is an even easier suggestion: When you read a text of Scripture that speaks to you, copy the text onto social media without comment. God’s word – by itself – is able to speak to the hearts of those who will read the Scripture.

Night is coming when no one can work for Christ – certainly not as easily as we can work for Him today. Let us then use every tool available while it is still day.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Sermon Galatians 2_20 part 2

Each time we don’t receive from God what we ask, each time we get knocked to the ground, we face two choices: throw Christ over the cliff, or look to the One we call Father and trust Him to work in our circumstances from a heart of deep and abiding love – regardless how things look or feel.  I talk about it here: https://youtu.be/NMB5Tvp9FA8