Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Lenten Journey Has Brought More Questions Than Answers

Only fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
~ Psalm 14:1, NLT

Tonight Lent comes to an end as the Holy Triduum begins with Holy Thursday. This also means that this is the last daily blog post I will do for Lent. It has been quite an adventure. I realize as I look back that my blogs that they really reflect my life. The ups and downs, the happiness and sorrow, the playfulness and the seriousness all come out in my writings.

But what I didn’t expect is more questions than answers in my spiritual life. I fully expected to travel on this Lenten journey and come closer to my faith—instead I’m right where I was before. I’m not sure what is happening…am I under attack spiritually? Probably.

The hardest thing for me, and it sounds like my kids may have inherited this gene from me, is the lack of “realness”. I’ve been accused, and rightfully so, that I get too caught up in the emotions of Christianity—my highs are too high and my lows are too low. Finding that happy medium is difficult for me and I find myself hitting the bottom only to be thrust into the high. I’m surprised I haven’t broken my spiritual neck with the back and forth in my emotions.

So where do I go from here? As the scripture says, only the fool says there is no God. I’m most definitely not a fool—there has to be a creator. It takes MORE faith to believe that we evolved from a spec of space dust. But I find myself questioning biblical history. I ask myself why won’t God reveal himself to me? Why must I “think” I believe that Christ really died for me? How is it possible to come “closer” to the Trinity reading more and praying more when I don’t feel any closer to Christ than I did some 17 years ago?

I end my Lent 2011 blogs with this thought…..God, I need to know you are real. I need to know you care. I need you to reveal yourself to me FOR REAL. My soul is hanging on by a thread and my faith is more unstable than it has ever been before. Please don’t make me out to be a fool for fool’s sake. Move me like never before in REAL conversion.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love Means Sacrifice

Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
~ Ephesians 5:2, The Message

Imagine for one second if the world turned off its “Christian-filter” and Christian’s turned off their hypocrisy act and actually followed this bible verse.

That’s right…the world would be a better place.

This is what we are all called to be like, especially those who follow Christ. Give everything of ourselves in love to others. Instead of hating the Catholic or the Protestant or the Muslim or the Jew of the homosexual or the opposite race and instead treat them as well as you would wish to be treated….HOLY COW! This world would be a better place.

Keep in mind, Jesus Christ is the Son of Man—he is God! He could have said, “Hmmm, torture and beatings AND a crucifixion? Nah, I’ll just take the next first class flight back up to heaven.”
The point is he didn’t; he loved us so much that even knowing what he must do, he still died for our sins. He died so that we may have eternal salvation and be rescued from the fires of hell.

I can’t think of anyone who would willingly go through what Christ went through except maybe a parent for a child. Yet God sacrificed his son for us. God loved us so much that he was willing to give up his son to death so that we can live with him forever.

I have never, and pray I never will be put into a situation where I have to choose between my life and the life of my child. I will always choose my child. BUT, imagine if you had to choose between your child and the life of another—I couldn’t. My child would be my choice…and that’s why I am no god. When you look at God’s sacrifice from that point of view, it demonstrates how much the Father truly loves you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To Be a Christian I Must Serve Others

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
~ Matthew 20:28, NLT

We talked about this very idea tonight with the kids. How much more are we called to serve others when the savior of the world came to serve us? For many, including myself, this is not an easy concept to understand. Too many times in our society the label “Christian” is seen as a crazy lunatic or well off person making money off the weak.

We need to drop this facade that Christians are better than anyone else. Christ took the lowliest position at the last supper and washed the feet of his disciples. This job was reserved for those lower than slaves. By demonstrating to the twelve his servitude, we all learn from Christ we are to have servant hearts for others.

Thursday night mass we will take part in the foot washing ceremony. This is a very profound and moving act of oneself. I know I feel like proud to wash the feet of my family—to make myself the least of them to serve their needs. I encourage others to partake in this wonderful Holy Thursday ceremony before we head into Good Friday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Am a Hypocritical Christian

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
~Matthew 16:24

This is without a doubt the toughest verse in the bible for me.

I think it’s confession time…well, at least as much as I responsibly can share. I have a me problem. I want to be comfortable. I want the latest gadgets. I want to be entertained. I want PG on Sundays, but R the other six days. I have urges and desires I like. I want more money. I don’t like most people. I can’t stand authority. I don’t want to work hard. I do things I know I shouldn’t do and don’t do things I know I should do. I’m lazy. I don’t want to pick up my cross daily. I want salvation, and I don’t want to make sacrifices for it. I ask Christ to stay home when I go out with the boys. I am a hypocrite to my kids. I don’t respect my wife enough. I am a bad employee. I talk behind people’s backs. I don’t pay my bills on time.

I am a flawed Christian. I put myself ahead of Christ more times than I can count. It’s easy to say to myself, “Oh, you’re being too hard on yourself…you’re a good guy.” That’s not the point. The things I write are the issues I deal with in my life on a daily basis—not my cross, but myself. I struggle every friggin’ day with my faith! Just when I believe I am onto something or I’m beginning to understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ, I get in the way of myself. My pride enters and I start to wonder why other people get it. I start to doubt Christ and his sacrifice.

What does “a man of God” do? He keeps holding on.

Among the list of desires I mentioned is a desire that continues to flicker in my heart…the desire to know God. I thank God daily for his blessings. I thank God for my family. I ask God for his protection over my wife and kids. I pray for my brother and his wife. I pray for my sister and her child. I pray for my dad, my stepmom, my uncle and my grandmother. I pray for my in-laws. I pray for friends. I keep moving forward.

In my 17 years as a Christian I’ve experienced the highs and the lows—my spirit gets rattled during the lows. Yet this I know, I hunger for Christ. I yearn to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I crave to turn my back on the things of this world and live for God. Ultimately, my actions to fulfill my sinful desires show how much I don’t trust God to be my all in all. In the grand scheme of things, I am still in elementary school with my faith; I am stubbornly holding onto the training wheels—afraid to let go and let God.

All of this is not easy to share. I constantly need prayers. I wish to be broken to the point that Christ is all I need. I pray that God reveals to me what my spiritual gift is and that he uses me to the fullest—for the glory of the kingdom.

Please Lord, change my heart. Fill me with the desire to die to self and pick up my cross daily to serve you. You are my hope for eternal salvation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Would've Cheered for Christ Today...and Screamed to Crucify Him on Friday

The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout, “Praise to David's Son! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!”
~Matthew 21:9, GNT


As we were heading off to church this morning I was explaining to the kids about how today is recognized as the day that Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey to huge fanfare. Everyone except for the religious leaders where welcoming him with open arms. What the crowd didn’t know then that we all know now is that in four short days this same crowd will be screaming to crucify him.

Crowds and groups of people can be finicky…I can be finicky.

Whereas I spend some time last night talking to my brother about how happy I am with the Catholic church and how much I’ve grown in my spiritual life under the direction of the leaders, I found myself today complaining because “they didn’t do the Palm Sunday mass right”.

I am a tool.

I would have been someone in that crowd on that day some 2000 years ago who would cheer Christ on Sunday and crucify him on Friday. That’s not meant to shock anyone who reads this, it’s meant to demonstrate that I am human. This introspection into my heart reveals that I still need to go deeper with my relationship with Christ. I am afraid I am still too much like Peter before Christ was crucified. Around close friends and family I may stick up and embrace Christ, but out in public I might deny him. I pray I wouldn’t.

The point is this, just like the Jews from 2000 years ago I can get excited about Christ. The hope is that I realize WHO Christ is—my savior; the ONE who died on the cross for my sins; the same sins that put those nails into his hands; the same hands that comfort me when I come back to him. On this Palm Sunday I desire to be excited for Christ’s entrance into my life, but I also must remember that my Lord—an innocent man—will die on Good Friday because of MY sin.

Thank God for Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rumor Weeds and Firefighters in the Same Blog

Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, quarreling stops.
~ Proverbs 26:20, GNT

One thing I have a bad habit of doing is fueling the fires of gossip.
I Wish I could say I've improved, but I suspect I still have a long
ways to go. This is one area of my life that I pray that will change.

Gossip is interesting; sometimes harmless, but almost always none of
my business. Gossip feels like twitter in a way. I feel like I have to
share the latest information with everyone in ear shot. But, gossip
should have no place in my life.

I think about an episode of Veggie Tales with the Rumor Weed. It
starts off as a small weed but with the town's gossip it grows into
this huge out-of-control monster weed. It isn't until the truth is
spread that the weed shrinks and eventually goes away.

God asks me to not even allow the weed to have a chance to grow. The
weed is also more than what we think gossip is—gossip can also be
truth. Just because it is a fact that the boss came to work drunk
doesn't mean we are to share this information with everyone.

God calls me to a higher standard, and that standard is to not add
fuel to gossip fires. I am to be a firefighter and stop gossip before
it spreads. This is easier written than done, but with God's grace I
can do it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

YELLING DOESN'T SOLVE ANYTHING, but Calmness Helps

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
~ Proverbs 15:1

It seems I was pre-destined to have a temper. I don’t know if it’s my father’s fault, my grandfather’s fault or even my great-grandfather’s fault—I just know that I can have a very bad temper. So, it’s easy to see why a career in outside sales was not a good mix.

Now, when the economy was good everyone was happy with smiles and business deals were being made right and left with wild abandonment. I believe I hardly dealt with a financially disappointing day. As soon as the economy tank? OH BOY, here comes the Pitts boy temper!

As I tried to continue making sales at my earlier pace, the more resistance I came across—at least it felt that way. The more desperate I got, the more aggressive I became. When a business owner decided to go with Company B because price was more important than value I became upset. It wasn’t until a general manager, who I clearly knew was using me but I held out hope he was going to keep our service, left me an email at the end of the day Fourth of July weekend that I became enraged. What was a flippant and easy email for him to send, was the livelihood of my family being tossed into the recycle bin.

I wrote a scathing email back to him. I told him he was a dishonest person who only used me for his gain. I exclaimed that he never gave me a chance to earn his business and that his mind was already made up before I sat down for our initial meeting. I stated that when Company B screws him over and lets him down that he shouldn’t think about giving me a call because I don’t do business with liars!

I didn’t send the email.

Something deep down inside of me told me that’s was not the right way to handle this. Of course, in business they always say not to burn your bridges. Little did I know then that I was living out what God teaches us to do. By not sending THAT email, but one that was more professional and left the door open for the future I was responding back not out of anger. I was talking the talk and walking the walk.

Well, the general manager called me back about six months after using Company B. He went so far as to say they made a mistake in using the other company. Instead of telling him I told you so, and asked how we could help to make things better for him.

About a month later I quit that job.

I had heard my former employer finally got the account. I even heard a sales manager took credited for getting the sale. But I know it was because I went against my built-in nature to get angry at the general manger and remain calm towards him. Little did I know then—I wasn’t strong in my faith—that I was living for Christ. A lesson I can look back at now, and see God still working in my life—even when I wasn’t devoted to him.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I've Said a Dumb Thing a Time or Two

Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.
~ Proverbs 12:18

There was a time in my marriage when I was more of an idiot. Guess you could call it our “breaking in” period. I had to learn the hard lesson of how words can hurt—even if my intentions were for good, the meaning hurt more.

I remember one time I made a comment about my wife’s appearance. My little brain-dead mind thought I was pointing out something that could be easily “fixed”. To her, I just shot her through the heart. BUT I WAS TRYING TO HELP!!! Didn’t matter, my thoughtless words cut her deep.

Too many times I have done this same exact thing; either at work, in a social setting, in front of family, you name the place and I’ve said something stupid. Fortunately, as time has gone on I have come to realize that my words can be very powerful instruments. Today I try to teach my kids while carefully choosing my words—especially when it is a disciplinary moment.

When my kids do something stupid, I find it is important to tell them what they DID was stupid but that they are smarter than that. I focus on the action and not on the person. I see it in their eyes. I know that they are upset at their actions. I can tell later on that they believe they are better than that.

Imagine if we all, including yours truly, spent more time focused on the actions that people did and addressed those versus attacking the person for making a dumb choice?! With patience and kind words, there would be much more healing in this world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Death Was Not on the Menu for Me Today

Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.
~ James 1:19

Today I got into a car accident. Mind you it was a small fender-bender in the big scheme of things. But, I was very fortunate. Some might say lucky, others might say it was a coincidence but I tell you this I was blessed. Yes, I am important enough to God’s bigger plan that it was not my time to go today. As I write this now, more than 8 hours since it happen I still find myself a little dumbstruck at how God protected me.

Time feels like it’s moving so fast lately that the accident, the exchange of information, the tow out of the ditch, the police report, the last couple hours of work and the trip to the auto body shop for an estimate all seem like a blur to me. Time will move on, this is one guarantee other than death and taxes—which death was not on the menu today and my taxes were taken care of last month.

So as I sit here pondering today’s verse, I think about my initial reaction once I got out of my car. I was mad, but not necessarily at the man who caused the accident. I was mad that I now had to deal with this: insurance, tow truck, police, etc, etc etc. Then I realized that wasn’t going to make the situation better. By the time the guy came over to check on me and the car—about 2-3 minutes later—I consciously calmed myself down. This guy knew I was a little upset by my body language, but not once did I yell at him about the incident.

As we talked and waited for the officer, my first thought was to stop and listen to this guy. What was he thinking? How was he handling the situation? By being quick to listen and slow to anger I found out that this guy was a good dude. He told me what happened from his point of view and then took responsibility for the accident. This very action is what I have been trying to teach my kids—if you mess up, take responsibility for it, deal with the consequences and then move on.

When the officer showed up onsite this guy told him the same thing. The whole incident was over and done with in about 15 minutes. Everyone was professional and stand-up—something our society needs so much more of today.

I really appreciate the blessings and protection God allowed in my life today. I’m thankful that I am able to come home and kiss my wife, hug my children, have a great conversation with a buddy and write a blog post tonight. I’m grateful that God isn’t ready for me to leave this planet yet. I feel like I have so much more to share and do in his name.

Praise be to Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior! Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Godless People Will Not Lead You Towards Righteousness

You can be ruined by the talk of godless people, but the wisdom of the righteous can save you.
~ Proverbs 11:9, GNT

I am generally a friendly person. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. There have been times in my life that my friendliness has allowed me to venture down the path of unrighteousness. Now, before I make this out to be a blog about how “holy” I am—stop right there. My point is this; I am also easily persuaded to follow the group. The easy road is just that, easy. It is easier to follow the crowd over a cliff then to stop in mid-exodus and turn the other way.

My past is littered with old friendships that have been severed. This makes me sad but also makes me understand that in order to get closer to God; sometimes it’s necessary to cut all ties with those who have no desire to turn towards God. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who don’t go to church. But these same people respect me enough to not lead me down a path of destruction—knowingly. These are not the people I’m talking about.

The people I’m talking about either 1) subconsciously influence my life in a negative way by their actions or words through normal conversation or hanging out, or 2) they think all religion is bogus and deep down inside enjoy “making the Christian do bad things”. I understand this may sound like I’m attacking everyone else, but keep in mind we are all influenced by someone or some group. Our lives will show who we allow to influence us by our positive or negative thoughts and/or actions.

Lately, I have been trying to fill my life with positive Catholic influences. This is not to say if you aren’t Catholic or Protestant I will sever all ties with you. Far from it! If I feel like you are a positive part of my life I want you in it. Yet, it is important for me to grow in my faith and become a better Catholic. I love my friends…..however, I love Christ more.

So I challenge you. Are you hanging around people who are truly ungodly and having a negative impact on your life and/or relationship with God? If so, maybe it’s time to make the tough choice and turn to God. In the end, the choice will be easy and God will lead you towards righteousness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Bible Verse That Encourages Me to Shut Up

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.

~ Proverbs 17:27, NLT

Most of my family and friends might say I can be a little "chatty", almost a little annoying when it comes to most anything. I desire to please God and live his example. Therefore, if you get a chance read my previous blogs. There you'll find my thoughts about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church, Protestants and non-believers. 

Remember this, by God's grace we are saved. It's is by the sacrifice of the Son for our sins that we may experience salvation and life everlasting. It takes a leap of faith to believe God loves us that much. Take that leap this Easter.

God bless.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Choose Fresh Living Water Instead of Guilt

Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."
~ John 4:10

I sometimes find myself a little dumbstruck at how humans can make having a relationship with Jesus so difficult. Yet, at the same time I get it—we are human; we have free will and can accept the gift of salvation or not. It saddens me though how many people will not only turn their back on Christ, but make other people’s lives miserable in the process.

I think I understand why—guilt.

You see, Christianity is not based on guilt. The foundation for our salvation is in the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. It is by God’s grace that salvation is offered—that he sent his only Son to die for our sins for eternity. Based on that explanation, why would anyone turn away from the life giving water of Christ? Free will.

With that free will comes a sacrifice—choose Christ and die to some of the pleasures of this world or choose this world and die without Christ. Think about this for a second, the creator of the universe sent his Son to earth to die for our sins so we are not lost for eternity and all he asks in return is to confess with your mouth, believe in your heart and turn away from sin. That last reason is why so many non-Christians hate Christ.

They know in their hearts they are disobeying God. Yet they allow their minds to tell them that with thought and reason they can certainly disapprove Christianity and they should be allowed to live however they want. These people have made the choice to not accept the life-giving water of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are too many people in this world today who know this choice makes their souls empty. What’s the old saying? Misery loves company. If they are going to miss out because they CHOSE to disobey God, then they sure as hell aren’t going to let anyone else be happy!

These “open-minded” souls will take out their hatred on those who choose to be obedient to God; people who have chosen to let Christ be their living water for eternal nourishment. Yet, stealing the joy from others in the name of “tolerance” is quite the opposite. They will protest against the Catholic Church for its stance on homosexuality. They will write letters to ban a Catholic confession app in the iTunes store because it asks if they person has sinned by committing homosexual acts—of course no one seems to be up in arms about the portion that asks if the person has cheated on their spouse!

My point is this, if you choose not to accept the life giving water of Jesus Christ that is on you. Because you feel guilt for your choice, don’t make the rest of us Christians out to be the bad guys. We choose to follow Christ. Our faith is based on the hope of eternal salvation. If we are wrong, so be it. But if you are wrong, what are you left with? A life of hatred and anger against a group of people—an anger that did not allow you to live your life to the fullest. In the end, in both scenarios you lose.

Give your life to Christ and live obediently or simply move on with your life and leave Christians alone.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are You "Open-Minded" to God's Word?

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16

It has taken me years to fully embrace this particular verse. Over the past 15 years I have to admit I've enjoyed the bible ala carte. I find myself challenged almost daily to what is written in God's word. In my life I find that it takes faith to believe the bible is truly God-breathed and inspired.

I used to listen to The BJ Shea Morning Experience on 99.9 KISW. It always struck me as interesting how he would go off on Christians, and in particular Catholics, because of his upbringing. To my ears it irritated me to no end. However, when Christians would call up and spout scripture to a person who doesn't believe in the bible I also thought that was dumb.

You see, NO ONE can prove without a shadow of a doubt the bible is true. No human can. Believing that the bible is indeed the word of God takes faith—something that cannot be proven. This notion brought me to a new understanding of my faith in Christ. It made me realize that I can't just say, "Because the bible says so," to someone who either doesn't believe in the bible or understand it's life giving wisdom.

I don't find myself denying the teachings of the bible when talking to non-Christians. I now look at it as an opportunity to lay the foundation to get a person to that point where they are willing to be open-minded to the possibilities and opportunities God offers in his word. In a way it's like I'm telling them, "You're not ready—that is you're heart is not ready—for the glory of God to transform your life."

It is at that moment that a person is ready to learn about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that mountains can be moved and lives can be changed. Until a person is willing to be open to the mysteries of God's wonderful word, they just won't understand.

This thinking will offend people. They will think they have every right to open a bible and read it—and they are correct. But if their heart is not ready to "hear" what God wants to reveal to them in those pages, reading the bible will be like reading a foreign language. God desires all to understand his word. You have to decide if you're ready to accept God's grace for the opportunity to read his life instruction manual—a manual of hope, despair, redemption forgiveness, salavation and the eternal promise.

Are you open to God's word?

Friday, April 8, 2011

So You're a Sinner. Good, Now the Healing Can Begin

Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!
~ 2 John 1:3, The Message

I’ve been talking a lot about reconciliation during Lent. While I was sitting at the Reconciliation service at our church tonight I got to thinking, “I wonder if people think I am just this horrible person for always going to reconciliation.” Maybe sharing about the amount of times I go to confession would put people off. Am I being a good witness by…..sinning?

The answer is yes.

The reason I share with you my sins is two-fold. First off, I want to share with anyone who will read this blog that there is forgiveness and there is hope. There is nothing you have done in your past that the Father will not forgive you for. If you come to him with an honest heart and seek forgiveness, God will meet your needs. I can’t prove this, but my faith and my personal mental health have dramatically improved since I began to go to God with my sins.

Secondly, I am a sinner. Guess what, if you are reading this you too are a sinner. Of course, if you’re not reading this you’re a sinner as well. For too long society has looked down on this term as derogatory and filthy. Here’s the deal, everyone sins and no one is perfect. I walked out of the service tonight and I’m sure I sinned. Why? Because of human nature. But the good thing is this, once you accept the fact you’re a sinner that’s when the healing begins. That’s when you let go and let God take control.

I read the other day that parish priests are actually happy to see more of their parishioners go to confession. Why? Because they say that it’s obvious that those people are trying to live more like Christ and acknowledge their flaws/sins. Give your burdens to the Lord and be FREE!!! I can’t preach this wisdom enough—I know where I was last September and where I’m at now.

Because of that leap of faith to let God take control and carry my burdens I am a much happier and peaceful man. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. But don’t be a wuss, give it ALL to God! Let Jesus carry your burdens and experience the same grace, mercy and peace that God has given to me.

Are you still reading this?! Get moving and experience God’s forgiveness and healing TODAY!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Used to be Veruca Salt

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!
~ 1 Peter 1:3

I had days where I would fall on my knees and plead, almost angrily, with God to give me the tools I need to follow him. The stresses of life easily blinded me to the goodness of God. I know over the past year I have begun to embrace all that the Lord provides for me. That wasn’t the case before 2010.

I got so caught up in things of this world that I was more focused on me and “why was God allowing me to be miserable”. I had it all backwards. Like Veruca Salt, I wanted it all—money, fame, happiness, holiness—I wanted it all and I WANTED IT NOW!!! My spoiled brat attitude drove me deeper and deeper into a feeling of worthlessness and depression. I was going the opposite direction of God.

It wasn’t until I dropped the big baby act did I finally find God—I had moved, not him. He began to show me what he had already done to help me get to know him on a personal level. It was all right in front of me and I was completely blind to his love. His faithfulness along with my wife’s patience and prayer helped me to come home.  

When God sends you an invitation don’t make the mistakes I made and throw it into the big pile of busyness we call life. It’s an invitation to bring you peace and happiness. An offer to have your burdens unloaded and your soul filled anew with God’s love. The greatest thing I have come to discover is that I truly have a friend in Jesus—a friend who loved me enough to die for my sins. What a wonderful Savior I worship!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Protestants NEED to Know This About Catholics

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.
~ Ephesians 2:8, NAB

Today’s verse actually caused me to do a little research. Not because I was confused on its meaning, but more that I wanted others who aren’t Catholic to understand what the Catholic Church REALLY teaches about grace/faith/works.

Before I became a Catholic I believed that all Catholics thought they had to earn their salvation. I remember thinking that was so stupid—“the bible clearly states that if I believe with my heart and confess with my mouth Jesus is lord then I am saved.” I was wrong and the crazy thing is most Protestants don’t truly believe that nonsense either. The funny thing is Catholics and Protestants believe the same thing; it’s just that each group says it differently.

It is ONLY by the grace of God that we have faith in our salvation. It is through the good works that we do, that we demonstrate that faith. You see, it’s not a matter of faith vs. works. Sadly, that’s where the dialog gets all messy. Catholics do not participate in all of our rituals because we think our works will save us. Far from it! We go to mass, confession, pray the rosary, abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, and receive communion and all of our other traditions so as to demonstrate our faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. These things won’t save us—it is the grace of God and the blood of Christ that saves us.

Interestingly enough, Protestants do the same things to demonstrate their faith in Christ’s sacrifice—attend church, meet for bible studies, do missions work, tithe, etc., etc., etc. All of us Christians do some kind of works to show our faith in Christ, not to earn our salvation. In the book of James, there is a verse that makes this perfectly clear:

Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
~ James 2:24, The Message

We are called to put our faith into action. Protestants do it, Catholics do it—we live our faith BY doing good works. The author further makes the point in verse 20:

Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
~ James 2:20, The Message

The final point is this, we cannot separate faith and works—they must go hand-in-hand. ALL Christians are not saved by works and faith is not enough for salvation, but by God’s grace we receive faith that we put into action with our good works. Let’s come together and remember we are all serving the same lord…Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"I LOOOOVE Going to Confession" O_o

If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
~ 1 John 1:9, NAB

I sin. I sin every day. Sometimes my sins are small and really don’t hurt anyone, but they are sins nonetheless. Then I have days when I bust out the industrial sized sin and just feel like a complete putz afterwards. By the way, yes, putz is the technical term for feeling like the biggest jackass in the world when I know I sinned.

So needless to say, today’s bible verse brings me comfort…daily. As one of my favorite Catholic radio hosts Lino Rulli says, “I “love” going to confession.” I joke, but I’m actually quite serious. I do like going to confession. Now that I understand the value of the sacrament that God has given to me of reconciliation, I do like going there.

However…..

I’m still a sinner—a sinner who has been making a habit of going to confession as of late. In the past month I have gone to confession three times (one of the times the priest ran out of time and couldn’t listen to my confession, apparently there’s a lot of us sinners out there). And, I’ll be going again this Friday to reconciliation mass.

Now understand this, I get that there is a difference between small sins and big sins. My understanding of “big” sins are ones that separate me from fellowship with the Lord—sins that cause me to fall and fracture my witness of the Lord. In other words, if Jesus were literally hanging out with me it would cause him to shake his head in utter disgust. The little sins? He’d give me that parent “hey that’s not appropriate” look. But the “big” ones, they make me sad too.

Yet, even though I sin Jesus is there to pick me back up. When I go to confession I tell the priest everything—thanks to an iPhone app which really helps me remember things I had forgotten. But the point is I tell him everything; get it off my chest. I acknowledge my sins before God and he forgives me…and cleanses me. That is the best part of confession, the feeling of cleanliness and holiness afterwards. It’s my moment where I am pure in God’s eyes and he’s most proud of me.

This Friday’s reconciliation service will probably not be the last time I go to confession. That’s for certain. But if I continue to aim for holiness and acknowledge my sins when I fail, God will faithfully forgive me and the blood of Christ will make me white as snow. What a wonderful feeling, what a wonderful God.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Common Sense Says I Won't Please Everyone

He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.
~ Proverbs 2:7

There have been times in my life when I have been very frank with my feelings about God. I wish I could say I was always strong to take God’s side on an issue. Unfortunately, I’ll compromise or take the conversation in a different direction to please everyone somehow and someway. God did call me to please everyone.

God calls me to be “candid and sincere” in my witness. If I am faithful to this, he promises to be my personal bodyguard. How cool is that?! If I make a stand for the Lord and am sincere in my witness he’ll have my back. That brings me comfort.

In our world today, doubters and unbelievers try to distort and twist God’s word. But a close examination of scripture and tradition shows that the Christian faith is filled with common sense. Just because you don’t like what God says about divorce, adultery, abortion and homosexuality doesn’t mean God is wrong. Think about it—the creator of the universe with over 4,000 years of Jewish and Christian roots and YOU think you are bigger than God. Wrong.

To turn from God’s common sense is to live a life less than fulfilled. Why should I constantly struggle with life’s issues when the author of life has already given me all the common sense answers I need?! There is no doubt that humans will try to take God’s teachings out of context or simply be unable to intelligently discover what God is trying to tell all of us. Yet, that is no excuse not to search out God for the answers to this life.

In the end, common sense says that God loves each and every one of us. We are called to obedience in his teaching, outspoken in our witness and to offer sincere love to all. Anything less would be worthless—and all who come to him are worthy in God’s sight.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

God Has Given Me Everything I Need to Live a Godly Life

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
~ 2 Peter 1:3, NLT

The other day my son shared with me a piece of wisdom that I thought was profound. He said to me, “Dad, did you know that everything we need to make an iPhone is here on this planet.” Granted, this wasn’t some “blow scholars out of the water” kind of thinking, but it was quite an interesting thought nonetheless. Everything man needs to make things is already on this planet.

The same is true for living a godly life.

You see, God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. Through the bible and tradition and stories from great men and women from long ago, everything we need has been given to us. Yet, sometimes I think we miss the mark. We try to over think God. In some arenas of knowledge, humanity tries to out think God.

A godly life is one which shows love for other people. This is not to be confused with acceptance for their lifestyles—no matter what the lifestyle is; if it’s against God’s teaching it is unacceptable. A godly life will love everyone, even those who sin against us. This is not easy. This is why I struggle every day. This is why I am not godly. Yet, by the grace of the Lord I am given a chance every day to grow closer and closer to godliness.

I will not achieve this in my lifetime. But I am called to live the life. I need to empty myself on a daily basis and allow God to fill my cup with his goodness and understanding of what it takes to live a godly life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Catholic? Protestant? We Are One Body Called to Live in Peace Together

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
~ Colossians 3:15, NLT

Every Christian denomination today has its roots planted in the Catholic Church. In a brief history lesson, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. Luther “protested” against some of the corruption going on in the Catholic Church at the time. This caused unrest in the Christian faith which eventually fractured off into many different denominations. There’s no telling how many different Christian church affiliations there are in 2011.

This makes me sad on so many levels. Because of the blatant corruption of the Catholic Church at the time, the body of Christ was divided into many different pieces. Instead of winning souls for Christ, these people were busy fighting each other. The Devil: 1, the Body of Christ: 0.

Yet, I think there is hope for the Body of Christ today. As time has moved on more Christians are looking past the denominations and realizing we are indeed ONE BODY. This is evident in our everyday lives. Catholics and non-Catholics are abstaining this Lent season for the glory of God. I have friends who are not Catholics, but are actively participating in Lent. That is so encouraging for our faith.

I also see the Catholic Church beginning to learn from the sins of the past. There is more stability and growth in the Catholic Church. More lives are coming to know Christ through the Church. Leaders in the Church are now focusing their full efforts on removing bad leaders from the pulpit and filling them with men of God. It seems this generation of Catholics is ready to fight for Christ and not for self. My brothers and sisters who are Protestants are also winning souls for Christ. Mission trips, shut-in visitations and love offering events are helping to show the lost the love of Christ.

Bottom line is this, God is in control. If we all believe that our “differences” are bigger than God than none of us know God and we should be ashamed of ourselves. What is most important? Going out into the world and sharing the Good News of salvation through the blood of Christ.

Yes, it probably saddens God that our Catholic Church was divided into many different denominations over the last 400 years ago. But I serve a God who is the creator of the heavens and earth. My God is bigger than any denomination squabble. My God calls all those who love him to live in peace. Let’s accept that we are all in this together and fighting for the same end goal: sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and saving lives.   

Friday, April 1, 2011

There is No God. No worries, right?

Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt,
and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!


~ Psalm 14:1, NLT

This verse will divide family and friends. Why? Because those who
openly proclaim they don't believe in God actually are offended that
an "old book" would call them on the carpet for their beliefs. I
always find it funny that atheists and agnostics get upset over this
stuff.

You see, if it's not real or a big deal then simply ignore it. But
verses like this one convict their heart. They don't want to admit it.
It's easier to be the "master of their universe" then to rely on a
higher being. If science can't prove it, then they won't believe it.

This is not to say these people are murderers, thieves or pedophiles.
Quite the contrary. The few people I know who don't believe in God are
nice people. Pay their taxes, give to charity and help little old
ladies across the street. Yet, it's such a tragedy that these good
people turn their backs on the One who created the heavens and the
earth.

By denying the existence of God, the Enemy has won their souls. When
the day of judgement comes and they stand before God and plead their
case, the Lord will say He never knew them. They will be condemned to
the fires of Hell for eternity. It's not a matter of what's fair, it's
a call to obedience and trust in God. They turn their backs on God; he
will turn his back on them.

But hey, if it's all just a fairy tale you shouldn't have anything to
worry about.....right?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Though I Have Been Impure, God Still Fights For My Soul

God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.

~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7, NLT

Hmmm....I should have known why I was subconsciously avoiding today's blog post. Talk about a smack to the ol' being. Let me just get this out in the open.....there are times I have lived an impure life. Heck, I can't count how many times in the past 4 years I've been impure. When I say impure, I mean stuff that even nonreligious people would shake their head at. I lost my focus; I turned my back on Christ.


This I know, when I finally realized I am a sinner and I came back to God I was welcomed with a loving embrace. God knows the things I've done yet he still wanted to be with me. He didn't give up on me. He wanted to be in my life again. Since September of last year I've been with my Father. Here's what else I know, I have stumble a few times since then--almost to the point of failing yet again in my walk. But God was there to catch me, hold me, to show me he wasn't going to let go. 


I was worth fighting for. Even in my sinful ways, he fought for my very soul against the Enemy.


This is my daily struggle, to live a holy life and turn my back on impurity. It's not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. The Enemy and his minions will do whatever they can to keep me away from God. Yet, I now know that I can call on my Father and he will protect my soul and lead me out of temptation. He gives me an example through Christ on holiness and a drive to live each day for him. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Threw My Arms Up in the Air and God Took My Burdens

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

~ Romans 8:28, NLT

I was grumpy yesterday.

My day at work was amazingly boring, I got a letter in the mail delivering potentially bed economic news and the house was a mess with lazy kids sitting around doing nothing. The perfect "oh crap, dad's going to explode" type of cocktail. I was not happy.

Then my wife in all of her wisdom told me something rather strange..."so, do something about it" -- referencing the lazy kids and the messy house. So I did. Shut off the computers, put the DSs away and cleaned house. Everyone pitched in. Within an hour we got the house just about spotless...ok, maybe not spotless, but it was clean again. Yay, victory.

As I lay in bed last night I had the economic issue on my mind. I figured if there was ever a moment, now was the time to trust God. So I prayed. I put the entire issue on his shoulders. I thought to myself that if the creator of the universe wants this situation to work out for our good it will--no matter the outcome.

Today I called the company and politely explained--which is not how I roll when dealing with stressful money issues--that there was a mistake and I needed it fixed. After checking her records she discovered that there was indeed a mistake on our account and we didn't owe money, but money was OWED TO US!!! Amazing. I was stunned. She told me it was because I filled out the proper paperwork in December that allowed for this miracle to happen today. For some reason it got lost in the shuffle and I was indeed in the right.


At that moment, I was overcome with thankfulness--not because we received a good sum of money in return, but that God was faithful. He knew our needs. Struggling to make ends meet over the past three months has been a little taxing. He answered our prayer in his timing for us to truly praise him with thankful hearts.


God doesn't need our praise. He loves meeting us just when we need him so that we may glorify his name. To God be the glory!



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just a Sinner Trying to Live God's Calling

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

~ 2 Timothy 1:9, NLT

One of the hardest things I find in my Christian walk to do is live a holy life. I'm not sure if it's because I'm stubborn, lazy or ignorant. I imagine it's a combination of all three. Amazingly enough, I don't have to be perfect—besides the fact I literally can't be. Because of God's grace, I am saved. Because of what his son did on the cross, I can receive eternal salvation.

Our family is reading through the bible in chronological order. Needless to say Leviticus and Numbers almost caused us to stick our heads into a furnace to offer up our sanity. However, one thing I came away from those books of the bible was all the rituals and sacrifices that God required of the Jews to remain or become clean again. It's no wonder St. Paul points out in Acts that we were predestined to fail with so many rules.

I could not begin to image how many sheep and goats I would need
around the house to cleanse me of all of my unrighteousness. That's
where Christ's work on the cross by shedding his blood washed away the
old law. Through Christ we have a direct connection to God to ask for
cleansing and forgiveness. Thank God he loves me enough to not give me
what I truly deserve.

Lord, I'm a sinner. Please don't give up on me. It's by your grace I
am saved and by no work of my own doing. I am called to live a holy
life. I will struggle and occasionally fail. I'm thankful you love me
enough to see me as a work in progress, and not as a lost cause. Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

God Used People to Help Me Hear His Good News

He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 2 Thessalonians 2:14, NLT

My story of how I became a Christian is quite interesting. I actually started going to church because of a girl. I know, how original?! At the time I really liked this girl and I was open to the idea of God. I began going to church and learning about the bible. I won’t go into details, but eventually I knew that this particular church wasn’t for me. Yet, I was interested about learning who this Jesus was.

One of my buddy’s from high school gave his life to Christ the summer before and was constantly bugging me about going to church. I would give reason after reason as to why I didn’t or couldn’t. Fast forward a few months and after breaking up with the girl, I asked him if I could go to his church. Words could not express his happiness…almost to the point I was questioning asking him.

However, this moment altered the course of my life’s journey. I came to learn about Christ, accept him as my lord and savior and become active in the church. Little did I know my future wife also attended this church—something I didn’t find out about until we started dating. God had put me in the right place at the right time. I got married in that church and spread the Good News to other teens while working with the youth group. Those teens grew up to become great ministers of God’s message. God’s will was done.

It’s quite a story that a young boy, who had no church background and constantly heard the Lord’s name used in vain in his surroundings, would be used in such a mighty way to be a witness to others about how Christ changed my life. I have had bumps in the road over the years, but I think back to that time with happy thoughts. To this day, God has been faithful just like he promised me so many years ago when I accepted him into my life.

All good things happen—in God’s timing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Heart's Cry Revealed My Real Prayer Need

Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
~ Psalm 10:17, NLT

There have been times in my life when I have been blind to the work that God has done in my life. Either through my heart cries or by actual prayers, God has been faithful when I have not always been. I can think about a time I had my prayers answered. It wasn’t until time had passed that I realized it was my heart’s prayer that was answered.

Last year I was working at a job that I did not like anymore. From past mistakes I had made and eventual distrust by myself of upper management, I hated my job. Hate is a strong word, but I really did hate my job. I needed to make a change. God heard my heart cry even though I didn’t trust he would answer my prayers. I sinned at work. I was lazy. Although I was in sales, I stole company time by not working as hard as I could. These are difficult things to write even today even though I have confessed them six months ago to God.

That faithlessness in God’s plan lead me to a job I hated even more than the one I would eventually leave. With my attitude and continued lack of trust of upper management, that job lasted only four months before I was fired. This was humbling and a blessing at the same time. For it was at this moment that I realized I needed God. If I was going to continue in this life, I needed God’s strength to move headlong in anything I would do from that point forward.

God knew I was helpless; more importantly I finally accepted I was helpless.

The next six months would change my life forever. I began jogging on a consistent basis. I had allowed my health to deteriorate to the point I was the heaviest of my life and I was beginning to experience the ails of being overweight. I was killing myself. Over that stretch of time I lost 25 lbs.; a feat that I could not have done without God’s strength.

More importantly, I came to know Christ on a whole new level. I fell to my knees and spilled my guts to a priest during the sacrament of reconciliation. I found some new outlets to learn more about the Catholic Church and the faith I would grow to hold tighter. Different men of God like Mark Hart and Lino Rulli showed me it was ok to be proud to be a Catholic and through these men I came to embrace the Church more than I had ever before. I can honestly say that this change in me over the last nine months is due to God’s providence. He absolutely heard my heart’s cry; it wasn’t about a job or my career, it was my relationship with Jesus Christ. God answered my prayers and I am now comforted.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When God Plants a Seed, I Have to Have Patience

Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people, Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.
~ Psalm 97:11


One of the coolest things I've ever seen is the beginnings of a lawn. When we lived in Port Orchard 10 years ago, we got the keys to our brand new house. A house that we helped build--invested our blood, sweat and tears into that house. Yet, with a new house came no grass.

Part of the deal was we laid out the topsoil over some pretty rocky soil. This was included in the final price along with the initial spraying of seed and fertilizer on top of the newly spread out soil. After the first day we had no grass. I know, grass doesn't grow after the first day but here we were with a "green" front yard but no grass.

Over the next week we started to see the beginnings of little blades of grass. Again, I needed a magnifying glass but the grass was there! By the third week we had a full fledged lawn daycare--little baby blades of grass. But then doubt set in.

The grass seemed to hit a plateau. Was it not getting enough water? Did it need more fertilizer? Where the dang birds eating up the seedlings? I was concerned for the grass and thought it would never grow. But it did. It grew into one of the nicest lawns in our neighborhood.

You see, when it comes to joy in the Lord it takes time. In my experiences I have been "filled" with the Holy Spirit only to realize the seed was planted, but I didn't have the patience to nurture and let that faith grow. My heart was not good soil and I quickly would stray away. It wasn't until my life topsoil was almost completely
sucked dry of nutrients before God showed me how to tend to and nurture those joy-seeds.

I may have my days where I struggled to tend my joy garden. But God has shown me to have patience, feed my soul with His goodness and allow the Holy Spirit to continue to grow my faith. There will be a day when my joy seeds will become one of the nicest faith gardens ever.

Friday, March 25, 2011

God Won't Give Up On This Sinner Who Seeks Him Daily

I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.
~ Proverbs 8:17

I had some time today to think about this verse. Actually, I had all day. I sneaked a peak at the verse this morning as I was thinking about what I should share today on my blog. Then it hit me; why must I always sin after I experience a victory with God. Two words: The Enemy.

You see, lately I’ve been experiencing spiritual successes and spiritual failures. Almost like a ying-yang picture in my life. I get on track, I seek God and I find Him. I’m climbing the mountain to pursue out and reach God and then it happens—sin avalanche.

Now when I say a sin avalanche I don’t mean I just went ape-nuts crazy sinning. How does an avalanche start? Usually all it takes is something small that have it all come crashing down. In my case it can be a website I go to, or a movie I watch, or my attitude and language at work or even my reaction to those who are in need. The greatest thing The Enemy can do is get just a sliver of sin to creep into my life, and before I know it the sin has happened and I’m back to square one.

This pattern seems to be set on repeat in my life. It can be extremely frustrating at times. I will find myself questioning my faith and my love for God. If God love those who love Him, and my sin is obviously not an act of love towards God, does that mean He obviously doesn’t love me? My mind and The Enemy are pounding YES into my head. God says otherwise.

I’m a sinner. A sinner. I try to be a good person, but I fail. It’s human nature. I am not perfect and I will sin. No matter how hard “I” try, I will sin. Period. Yet, I know that God will always love me—“those who look for Me find Me.” I am constantly looking for God. Even when I’m sinning, there is a part of me crying out to God for help and strength to fight the urge to sin. I don’t always consciously know this, but I know my spirit is crying out to God. How do I know? Because after I have sinned, I am sad. Sad that I have just let myself down, but more importantly I have let my Father down.

However, God’s love is stronger than the chains of sin. The Enemy might win a battle when it comes to sin in my life, but I am encouraged by the fact that Jesus has already won the war. His death and resurrection give me hope that although I stumble and fall, Christ is right there to reach His nail scarred hands to pick me back up.

The love of this father for his kids is strong. If my children disappoint me, that doesn’t mean I love them any less. I know they messed up, they know they messed up; we deal with it and move forward. That’s exactly what God requires of me and that’s one reason why I go to confession. God uses the priest to deal with my sins, forgive me and we move forward together. A God that gives me the sacrament of confession is a God who loves me enough to not give up on me—no matter how many times I need to be picked back up again.