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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Another Proof of God

I thought of another proof of God’s existence. It came to me as Nancy and I talked about the astonishing moral blindness that has so clearly fallen across America.

When has it ever happened in our history that publicly avowed socialists (who are really fascists by another name) so boldly declared their plan to dismantle everything that has made America the greatest nation EVER to exist on planet earth? I’m not sure if Hitler’s Mein Kampf was as forthright in his demonic plan for Europe and the rest of the world.

In their crosshairs are not only our religious freedoms, the right to speak our mind without fear of violence, and to be held innocent until PROVEN guilty – but they have marked out for destruction the very fabric of the Constitution of the United States.

And this is the astounding thing: They do it with the joyful approval of a growing number of Americans.

If you don’t know what I am talking about then either you’re not paying attention, or you’re among the blind.

And therein is the proof of the supernatural.

Such blindness reminds me of several texts in both the Old and New Testaments. Here are only two in particular. The first is from 1 Kings. You can read the entire chapter for context (follow this link), but this small slice of the incident that makes my point:

[The Hebrew prophet] “Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. 20 The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 The Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ 23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.” (1 Kings 22:19-23)

Did you catch that?  God sent a deceiving spirit into the mouths of the false prophets in order to drag Ahab to his death in battle.

And then there’s this text in the New Testament. You can read the chapter for context, but here is the section specific to my point:

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)

Once again, God sends a deluding influence. They resisted truth, so now their spiritual blindness makes them unable to see truth.

Which brings us to 2018.

There is no other logical explanation for the evil we see paraded before us each time we scan the newscasts  – evil that is applauded by so many Americans.

And so again to the ‘proof’: If there is a supernatural blindness, a spiritual covering over their eyes, then there must be a super-natural and spiritual source.

Christians call that source, ‘God.’ 

And He will not be mocked by those who refuse to see and to hear – and to repent.

We should not be surprised if the blindness gets worse.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Crazy Man, Crazy Talk

The ‘Real Presence of Christ’ is a Christian theological phrase used to communicate the doctrine that Jesus is “really and literally” present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. His presence is not merely symbolic or figurative. You will find the basis for the doctrine in the literal interpretation of John 6:47-69.

I’m copying the text from the New American Standard Bible. Every other translation of the Bible says the same thing. I know the quote is kind of long, but it’s necessary for context.
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(Verses 47ff) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

“Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

“These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
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Verse 66(above) tells us, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” 

And why was that? They thought Jesus was a crazy man, talking crazy talk.

But was He crazy, and was it crazy talk?

The 12 disciples didn’t think so. They took Jesus literally. And so did many of the early Church Fathers – all of whom are all well-respected among Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic theologians today. For the sake of space and time, I quote only two:

St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 A.D.) “I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible.”

St. Justin the Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.) “For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

Others of the Fathers who believed in the “Real and Literal Presence” of Jesus in the bread and wine include (but not limited to):

Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 140 - 202 A.D.)
Tertullian (c. 155 - 250 A.D.)
Origen (c. 185 - 254 A.D.)
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - 216 A.D.)
Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200 - 258 A.D.)
Athanasius (c. 295 - 373 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 350 A.D.)
Basil the Great (c. 330 - 379 A.D.)
Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330 - 389 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (c. 344 - 407 A.D.)
Ambrose of Milan (c. 333 - 397 A.D.)
Jerome (c. 347 - 420 A.D.)
Augustine (c. 354 - 430 A.D.)


And, finally (if there could be a final comment about the Eucharist and the Real Presence), Martin Luther also believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic Celebration.

So what is my point? Simply this: Jesus was not a crazy man talking crazy stuff. He was speaking words of serious truth and supernatural reality.

And neither are those crazy today who take Jesus’ words literally. They believe nothing more than what apostles and the great theologians of the early Church believed: When they receive Holy Communion, they are really and literally receiving the very Body and Blood of the Savior.

And I thank God for His indescribable gift.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Soul-Cleansing Blood

I opened my Bible to 2 Timothy this morning – and didn’t get beyond verse three before the Lord stopped me:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience . . .”

Now here is an amazing thing – amazing and, at the same time, what ought to be instructive and encouraging.

There was a time – not too long before Paul penned these words to Timothy – there was a time when Paul was a monstrous anti-Christian terrorist. He tells us that himself. For example:

So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:9-11)

And yet, in his letter to his young protégé, he writes, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience.”

How could he write such a thing?

That’s easy. It’s because he knew God had completely, totally, irrevocably forgiven him. He knew, when he confessed his multiple and egregious sins to God, when he repented and mourned for his evil, Paul received God’s merciful and most generous gift of forgiveness.

And although to the day of his death he never forgot what he had done, he ALSO never lost confidence in God’s promise of complete and absolute forgiveness – merciful forgiveness even of his most vicious and unspeakable sins.

It was THAT confidence that enabled him to fully devote himself to the service of Christ, and to do so with a “clear conscience.”

And that, my fellow Christian, is God’s word of encouragement to you and to me.

Do your past sins – the ones you’ve confessed to God and are now covered under the blood of Jesus – do those memories and what is now the unnecessary guilt still haunt you? Do they prevent you from entering fully, and with a ‘clear conscience’, into service for Jesus?

Your guilt is unnecessary because God has already cast those sins into the deepest part of the ocean. He has irreversibly cleansed you soul of every one of your confessed sins.

Every single sin. Washed forever in the blood of Jesus.

CS Lewis said it better than I can: “I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as higher tribunal than Him.”

The devil will always seek to deceive you, to confuse you about God’s precious promises.

Oh, Christian! May today be your day to finally tell your enemy, “Get behind me, Satan. You are lying about my beloved Heavenly Father.”

May today be the day that you begin serving Christ with a clear conscience, knowing with utter confidence that all your sins have been washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb.

Amen.





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 communiqué to us – the Scriptures – has 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.
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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!

Period.

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