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

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)

Monday, June 4, 2018

What Love Looks Like

I talked to a woman a few weeks ago – married 60 years to her husband – who said something remarkable to me.

Her husband has suffered a number of debilitating medical issues during the past 10 years. The latest requires she help feed him through a tube surgically placed in his stomach.

“I didn’t know when I was 18 that 60 years later we’d be here, doing this.” Then, with a conspicuous strength and poise, she added that remarkable addendum, “But this is what I signed on for – in sickness and in health.”

Oh! You want to know what love looks like?

THAT’S what it looks like. That’s what commitment to vows made to each other in the sight of God looks like.

Young marrieds – even long-time marrieds -- pay closer attention to the old and graying couples around you – your grandparents or parents, you aunts and uncles, even to strangers holding hands as they walk into church, or into the supermarket.

When you vowed before God and family and friends that day at an altar, you promised to love and to cherish, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health. To take care of each other. Until death parts you.

That’s what real love looks like.