This past week, and for the reason of talking about aspects of Catholic faith, I ventured a fact about the Catholic doctrine on sin to a Charismatic friend of mine. I noted to her that the Catholic Church obligates us to attend Sunday Mass. Should we not do so, it is considered a mortal sin and we must exclude ourselves from receiving the Eucharist until we have confessed to this negligence and sin.
Now my friend, like many Christians, has to work hard to give respect to the Catholic Church. After several small skirmishes between us over the matter of doctrine and practice, I found myself delivering a strong rebuttal on the common respect due Catholicism. I had learned at New Hope Ministries that Catholicism is more than frowned upon by many practicing Christians; as if it were some cave of lepers from the time of Jesus. So I was not surprised when what I received back for my offering was a look of disapproval and a dodge from discourse. Continue reading Purpose & Purity – The Obligation to Christ’s Church
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Along with Kathryn, I attended a seminar at St. Peter the Apostle Church a few nights back in Naples, Florida. The speaker was Father Matthew Linn, a Jesuit and healing therapist from Minnesota. He asked the question at the end of his talk, “Can you think of what you have been most grateful for this past year?
My answer was immediate and simple, and also a little shocking for me. “I was most grateful for the fact that God had revealed a truth to me about human choice and human willingness.” I say shocking in the fact that this realization seemed to come so easily to a person who lived his adult life not really defining gratitude, let alone coming to any conclusion on something spiritual and meaningful.
The result of this revealed understanding – in the physical – has translated into an incredible deepening of my spiritual relationship with God; His Word, and His will through the reading of the Old and New Testaments, and an intense study in Philosophy and its relationship with Theology. In the physical, it brought me an exercise routine this year – walking – that has improved my overall health, and has brought about a loss in weight of twenty-eight pounds. In the physical, I am being led to walk the Camino de Santiago; to fulfill the death of my past and ensure the life of my future in God. Continue reading Choice or Willingness – Part Two
In order to start something one has to choose to start it, and in order to continue doing something one has to choose to continue it. I know this sounds rather elemental, and so it is a fairly obvious observation. But I venture into these waters for a purpose. There is a fundamental stumbling block for many Christians as they attempt to walk out God’s purpose with their lives; they ‘choose’ to do it. I’d like to make the argument here that choice is not dependent upon, nor advantageous to the most important factor of man’s successful journey to God; willingness.
Choice can be made from humble reason, but choice need not entail humility. In fact, choice is at its very best when issued from a boundless source of pride. Willingness, on the other hand, cannot exist in conjunction with pride. Willingness is that recurring characteristic of many Saints we look to for God’s wisdom and teachings; though there were those who came to serve God without willingness in their hearts. Moses would be one good example. Isaiah, on the other hand, is all too ready to serve the Lord without considering choice. While choice appears to be our conscious nature at work, willingness appears to precede that of the conscious nature and lie somewhere in the spiritual relationship we have with God. I can think of no better scripture to illustrate this than in the Book of Luke.
Then Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Continue reading Choice or Willingness
It is January 20, 2009; one week after being born of the spirit. The past week was quite fascinating; for all of my perceptions, assertions and beliefs about this world and any possibility of there being a God were chucked out-the-window for the truth that had miraculously became so real to me, and God hadn’t quite finished with me yet. He wanted to make sure I knew that I had reached that shore that I wrote about in my letter.
This morning I awoke at 4:30am. As my body is lying in the bed and my mind is slowly passing through some space between unconsciousness and consciousness, I realize that my spirit is experiencing a vision from God.
I’m on that very shore now; the one I wrote about in my letter; the one just off in the distance from my raft and I. The sun is bright, the sky is azure blue, and the sands are pure and smooth. I’m lying on the sand, near the water’s edge. Propped up on one elbow and looking about I recognize the setting, I smile and my contentment and peace is overwhelming. I rise to my feet, look both ways up and down the shore line, and then turn to look into the vast growth of infinite, dark-green jungle in from the shore.
Again a smile, and I know what I am about to do. Nothing will turn me away for my faith is complete. I walk across the sands, and up to the edge of the jungle. With a sweep of my arm, I move a branch before me and venture in. The jungle is thick, dark, rich and inviting. I awake as I disappear into the darkness of the jungle.
I was content with the vision, confirmed of God’s work upon me, amazed that I have been chosen, and without fear of the darkness I had walked into as I entered the jungle. The last remark about fear was perhaps the most contradictory of feelings I thought I would have. After all, we are taught to fear the darkness, and as I know now, the darkness seems to symbolize being separated from God, being lost, and in the presence of evil. Yet I was quite anticipating and looking forward to this darkness. Continue reading God’s Work & My Work
It is January 13th, 2009; the day of my birth. As to events that first week, I did give my letter to Kim Sprague that morning. She read it while I silently watched, and I do believe there was a bit of mysticism as the common bond of God being in both of our lives became evident. I’m sure Kim felt something that must have truly been soulful deep; she had prayed for me and it worked! You see there was something that I had not been aware of at the time.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, Kim was attending the School of Ministries at New Hope, late in 2008, and through May of 2009. She had taken a class in evangelism and witnessing. In this class her teacher, Ron Rand, requested his students to list those family members, friends and acquaintances that each student felt they would like to see come to Christ. Kim wrote my name down, along with a few others. Ron then asked the students to select one from that list that they most wanted to receive salvation. Kim circled my name, and then she began to pray.
It is so important that you all know in your heart that you are in God’s service at all times. And that you can do God’s miracles as well and as easily as any Apostle. It is faith, and James addresses faith in noting that, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
What is being said here is that we are all called to something more than personal faith. Not to sit with our faith alone, but to put it into play. To make use of what God has so generously given us – our gifts from God – and to submit to God’s plan for you: in the service of your brothers and sisters. God used His gifts of love and patience – blessed upon Kim – to find a way for me to come home to Him.
Kim suggested church for the coming Sunday, and it seemed right to me. That’s what led me to New Hope Ministries, a non-denomination (Charismatic) church, where I would receive a tremendous amount of education over the next three years. Continue reading The Walls of Jericho