Home

Faithful to the call

2 Comments

Every Christian is a called Christian.

In spite of the fact that there are over six hundred thousand paid clergy in the United States, every Christian, irrespective of denomination or church affiliation, has been called to “spread the Good News”.

Think about it; there are currently over 7.6 billion souls on the earth. If only those 600,00 paid clergy were sharing the gospel, each of them would be responsible for 12,666 of those 7.6 billion souls. How practical is that?

The ‘Great Commission’, found in Mark 16:15 directs us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature“. This is the defining call upon the lives of all believers everywhere.

The fact is that God intended for all of us, whether paid/professional clergy or laymen and laywomen, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a solemn and divine mandate handed to us by Jesus Himself.

The question all of us must answer is simple: are we being faithful to this very personal call to preach the gospel? And if not, why not?

We hear many excuses for not heeding the call, don’t we? Let me list a few and see if they sound familiar.

  • It’s not my job
  • That’s what we pay the minister to do
  • I’m not qualified
  • I give in the offering, isn’t that enough?
  • I lack the confidence to talk about such things

The thing is, most if not all of us have used these or similar excuses before to explain away our missed opportunities to share the Gospel. It’s not that we set out to deliberately shirk our personal responsibilities, it’s just that in our humanity we somehow manage to do so.

I’m from the camp that believes that God has not only called us all to spread the Good News, but that He has also equipped us all to do the work. You don’t need to be a Biblical scholar, nor do you need a seminary education to be a witness of His goodness.

You see, God has a unique way of taking our life’s experiences and using them as a catalyst to reach the lost. In other words, he takes what you already have and uses it to reach someone who needs to hear your story.

As an example, I was approached one day by someone I had never seen before who wanted to speak with me about Christianity and divorce. When I asked her why she was coming to me, she replied that she had heard that I had been divorced and had been watching my life from a distance.

Scary, huh?

She wanted to know how I had been able to move past such a difficult and personal issue. This was an opportunity to share with her that the Gospel is both personal and powerful, and that faith in Jesus will sustain us in the worst of times.

God took a tragic season of my life and was able to use it to encourage another of His children to keep pressing on. What’s great about this is that all of us have stories of hurt, abuse, despair, and bitterness that God can use as an opening to to share the Good News with another person.

Our role is simply to be faithful to the call by allowing God to use our brokenness to reach others. It’s a proven fact that some of the most powerful witnesses for Jesus are also some of the most broken.

Like you.

My hope and my prayer is that we would allow God to take our lives and use them as His hands and feet to reach this desperately lost and searching generation.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How Good Do We Have to Be?

4 Comments

This is the title of a book written by Harold S. Kushner. Full disclaimer: before seeing this book on a shelf along with several other used books, I had never heard of either the author or the book, therefore I have no idea of its contents.

What intrigued me about it however was the title, because this is THE question that people have been asking for thousands of years.

Just how much do I have to do, and how good is good enough to make it into heaven?

We all know that the underlying belief system for many people is one based upon works. If you’re a good enough person, meaning that at the end of your life your good deeds outweigh the bad, that’s all that’s required to gain entrance into heaven.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this all of your life. That’s how pervasive this belief is.

So, is it possible to be ‘good enough’?  If so, how exactly do you measure what ‘good enough’ is? Is there a sliding scale or barometer of ‘good’? Has the criteria for ‘good enough’ been made available to us all?

For the answer to those  questions, let’s go to the official source of information for understanding heaven’s entry fee: God’s Word.

The Psalmist declared that there were none that were good. Not even one!

The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.   Psalm 14:2,3

Jesus, in response to the question of “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”, said “Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…”  Matthew 19:16,17

The man that asked Jesus this question was very wealthy, and believed (like many of us) that the key to inheriting eternal life was found in the word ‘good’. He likely thought he could donate a sum of money or possessions, or that by doing a “good thing” it would ensure him entry into heaven.

Unfortunately for this man (and billions like him), the scriptures are clear that any priority placed on ‘good’ is misplaced. That is because ‘good’ as defined by man is never going to be ‘good enough’.

That is why Jesus said that there is no one good, but God.

In other words, apart from God man can never be ‘good enough’ to inherit heaven. If he could, there would have been no need for Jesus to come and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, He has died in vain if we ourselves could somehow be ‘good enough’.

If your church or denomination teaches you that God will accept you because of your good works, you are sitting under deception. God will only accept you because he sees that your sins have been covered by the blood of his only Son.

If we were to humble our hearts and really think about it, is there really anything within us that is good, except for the Lord himself? For me personally, I know that the answer to that is NO!

Any good found within me has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him!

How about you?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

Finally, a response from the Pope

6 Comments

If you or one of your loved ones have been victimized by one of the Catholic church’s ‘predator priests’ in their latest sex abuse scandal, you have no doubt been waiting for an official apology from the Pope for the unholy actions of those under his charge.

Unfortunately, instead of mercy and compassion, instead of Godly remorse and sorrow over the lives ruined by these ‘counterfeit clergymen’, what the Pope offered instead was deflection. That’s right, he tried to assign guilt to the victims in order to make his own ‘robed rapists’ appear as though they are not at fault for their crimes.

During a recent Mass, the Pope said that victims of sex abuse by his own ‘predatory priests’ are nothing more than a “pack of wild dogs”, and that Jesus himself would remain silent on the issue.

“Pope Francis then advised Vatican officials to remain silent on the scandals, saying he asked the Lord for the grace to discern when it is better to speak or to remain quiet, and Jesus told him that the answer is “silence and prayer.”  emphasis mine

In my previous posts about this latest sex abuse travesty involving the Catholic church, I have been (hopefully) careful to try and not offend the sensitivity of some of my readers who are or were from the Catholic faith. I have resisted until now in sharing just how vile I believe the leadership of the Catholic Church to be.

Now that the Bishop of Rome has played his hand, as it were, by making the reprehensible statements I quoted from the linked article above, I will no longer be constrained in my contempt of and utter disgust for the actions of those involved in the actual abuse or subsequent cover-up of such demon-influenced behavior against innocent children.

As a matter of fact, the comments from Pope Francis are proof positive that the Catholic church is one of the single most abominable,diabolical,Christ-usurping organizations mankind has ever devised.

And that is being charitable!

Any man, be he a Pope or a pauper, that would make such reprehensible comments regarding the sexual abuse and perverse actions against innocent children by his own priests, has not an ounce of the Spirit of Christ within him.

He is in essence Anti-Christ.

The fact that millions of Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, are not demanding the removal of this Pope are indicative of just how far removed the Church has fallen away from the Truth.

Make no mistake, we have lost all ability to discern between good and evil. How else could otherwise sensible men and women continue to support such an evil, corrupt church? It simply defies all imagination.

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE???

As I mentioned in a previous post, do we look the other way because it is the Catholic Church and no one dare cross them? Apparently so, because this tragic story has been relegated to the back pages in order to sweep it under the carpet.

Rest assured, the systematic rape and abuse of our children at the hands of these monsters is not hidden from the One whose eyes are like fire, and His feet like brass. Every single occurrence has been duly noted, and retribution will come one day.

The Bible is clear: Hell is hot and it is eternal, and they that do the things that the Catholic church turned a blind eye to will have their place in the lake of fire.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.   Revelation 22:12-15    emphasis mine

In contrast to the Pope and his ‘predator priests’, Jesus sees children very differently.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”   Matt.19:14

Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”  Mark 9:36,37

Jesus shows us what He thinks of children. We know that because He was NOT silent about them in the Scriptures. Perhaps Pope Francis forgot this in his hurry to cast blame upon his innocent victims?

The Pope has also shown us what he thinks of our children. He thinks they are a pack of wild dogs, “shouting without reason”.

You have to make a choice: will you choose to follow Jesus or the Pope?

Ron

 

 

“The evil of many is the consolation of fools”, says Catholic Cardinal

6 Comments

Deflection

[dih-flek-shuh n]
noun
  1. the act or state of deflecting or the state of being deflected.
  2. amount of deviation.
  3. the deviation of the indicator of an instrument from the position taken as zero.

When the news first broke concerning the latest sexual abuse scandal involving six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, like most people (I hope), I was both shocked and outraged.

For many days this has weighed heavily on my mind and heart, and I’ve wanted to express my outrage at this abuse, yet knowing that if I did many would consider it nothing more than “Catholic bashing”.

Since the story initially broke, new information has come to light, and my conscious will not permit me to remain silent any longer. If what you are about to read upsets or offends you, that is not my intent. I am only seeking to call attention to the horrors being perpetrated by those who claim to be Christ’s representatives upon the earth.

So widespread is this scandal (it began as far back as 1947), that it has encompassed 54 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. For 71 years, nearly three quarters of a century, the Catholic Church has willingly and knowingly participated in the coverup of the most horrific sexual abuse of children in our time.

The grand jury * responsible for investigating internal church documents from these six dioceses revealed that more than 300 “predator priests” were ‘credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims since 1947’.

Do NOT miss this key point: the incriminating document were from the Church’s own internal records!

More than 1000 child victims!

Upon learning of the unfathomable atrocities committed by these imposters of Christ, one has to ask: where is the outrage from America and the rest of the world?

Are we simply numb with disbelief? Are we so apathetic as to have nothing to say? Are we so gutless as to have no fight left in us, even for our own children?

Americans will riot in the streets over a decision made by a President they say they hate, yet the fact that over 1000 children have been raped, abused, impregnated, and threatened garners hardly a whimper from these same impassioned, hate spewing ‘pretenders of the American Way’.

Where are the organizers who are so quick to make a few well-placed phone calls to their millionaire backers and political lobbyists? Why don’t we see them marching on Washington demanding justice for these 1000+ victims of the most sinister cover up of child abuse ever documented?

I say again, where’s the outrage?

Perhaps if we had a separate #MeToo Movement for these sexual abuse victims more people would join in the protest!

Our precious children were sexually assaulted for over 71 years, and there is no collective outrage? Are we so brain washed that we willingly turn a blind eye to this because it was done by supposed members of the Clergy?

Is this because the evil was perpetrated and subsequently covered up by the Catholic Church? Is that why the story dropped off the evening news almost as soon as it appeared? Does our society live in fear of retribution from the Catholic Church, therefor we remain mute? Do we have a subconscious fear that if we speak up it will bring about another Inquisition?

You who cannot resist the opportunity to continually rail against the President, have you nothing to say about the documented facts of the Catholic Church sexually exploiting our children?

Oddly, when we hear that some sadistic monster is found to have been torturing and sexually abusing his victims, it is all the talk around water coolers, the evening news, and the internet.

Web sites, blogs, and forums are on fire with comments for weeks on end. Yet we remain strangely silent about one of the most evil, diabolical, systematic patterns of sexual abuse ever devised by humans.

Tragically, for a variety of reasons many of these cases will never be prosecuted. Whether the statute of limitations has run out, or the victim or the accuser has died, criminal justice will never come for many who thought the one place they would be safe was in the Church.

Of course, this recent discovery of abuse is just one of many.

That we know about.

Few realize that the Catholic Church has even stooped so low as to spend millions of dollars on lobbyists in an effort to block child sex abuse reforms.

These lobbyists were retained, in part, to work on issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.” In layman’s terms what this really means is that when it comes to protecting predator priests, money is no object.

What has been the official response from the Catholic Church? In his speech to the Irish Republic this weekend, the Pope said ‘he is ashamed of the Catholic Church’s failure to adequately address the “repellent crimes” of sex abuse by clergy.’

Nice sounding words that we’ve heard many times before. What he did not say however is perhaps more important than anything he did say. What he failed to do was offer a solution to this plague of abuse. He failed every single one of the abused.

In essence, the official response has been NOT MUCH.

Unless of course you consider deflecting the attention away from their own guilt by reminding their accusers that they too have a few skeletons in their closets, that is.

Apparently, deflection is the name of the game for Mexican Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera, who recently spoke to journalists saying “I’m here happy to talk about nice things, not about problematic things.”

Cardinal Rivera

Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring

 

 

Attempting to deflect attention away from the unimaginable evil committed by predatory priests against more than 1000 children over seven decades, Cardinal Rivera sent a warning to those who would dare accuse “men of the church”.

To his credit, the good Cardinal did acknowledge that the accusations “make us feel bad and we want to improve.”

Wow. The sexual abuse, rape, and destruction of lives committed by supposed “men of the church” against innocent children makes them ‘feel bad’. They don’t want to talk about “problematic things” however.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera acknowledges that some of the accusations are true, but wants to draw attention to the skeletons in the accusers closets instead, telling them they “should be ashamed”.

No true remorse. No indication of a need for repentance. No clear acknowledgement of guilt.

Just deflection.

The only thing I can think of more disgusting than this man’s reprehensible comments is that the faithful continue to support a diabolical system in which innocent children are fair game for an untold number of sexual predators dressed in priestly garb.

This, dear reader, is NOT the Church whose head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

And what of the Protestant,or Evangelical Church, where are the ‘protests’ from within the various denominations that make up this Church of between 400 million and one billion members?

Could it be that the deafening silence emanating from within the Protestant, Evangelical camp is because it is just as guilty as the Catholic church when it comes to its own patterns of sexual abuse? Or worse?

May God in His mercy open the eyes of the blind, and give them the courage to flee before another child has to endure years of unspeakable torment at the hands of these “men of the church”.

Ron

*I urge you to read as much as you can stomach of the 1300+ pages of the grand jury’s report linked above.

 

 

 

 

The Beatitudes: conclusion

2 Comments

As I have a very busy week ahead of me filling in for my Pastor, I need to finish up my thoughts concerning the Beatitudes. So even though it makes for a lengthy read, I have included the remaining four in this final blog.

Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy is the act of forgiveness and compassion from someone who has the authority to punish you, but instead chooses to offer mercy. If you’ve ever been the one in need of mercy, and you know you have, you can surely appreciate knowing that your Father in heaven is merciful.

When we are merciful and forgiving to others, we give them a glimpse of the Father’s heart of mercy and forgiveness that is offered to all. As his representatives on earth, we must always be mindful that we are often the only examples of the hands and feet of Jesus that people will ever see.

Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

The Bible talks a lot about the heart, doesn’t it? The condition of our heart as it relates to God is of the utmost importance in our daily walk. Having an impure heart, for example, keeps us from seeing God for who he is because having such a heart is like walking around wearing blinders.

Having a pure heart, however, allows us to see God in all his glory and splendor because our vision is no longer clouded by sin, judgement, or guilt.

When the Psalmist prayed “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me“, he was essentially asking God for a pure heart. [1] May this be our prayer as well.

Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

Would you agree with me that the world could use a few more peacemakers? After all, God is a peace-loving and a peace-making God, and we sure could use a respite from the constant bickering and fighting among ourselves today.

Peace is something that God has always desired for us. The whole history of redemption, starting with the fall of Adam in the garden to the death and resurrection of Jesus, is all part of God’s plan to establish a just and lasting peace between man and himself.

Not to be overlooked in this plan of redemption is God’s desire for men to also have lasting peace among themselves. It is never God’s will for men to quarrel and fight against one another.

If this message would somehow be heard by all today, what a different world we would be living in! All of us would do well to remember that if we are truly our Father’s children, we will display his attributes and character. What he loves, we will love. And God loves peace.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Persecuted. Not exactly a word that we associate with being blessed, or as some say today “highly favored”, is it?

Yet Jesus does calls us blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness sake. For certain, there are many types of persecution, and varying degrees of it as well.

Some will say that they are being persecuted because someone said something that hurt their feelings. Perhaps a promotion did not come your way and you determine that because of that, you are being persecuted.

I believe though that the persecution Jesus was referring to here is the type that results in the loss of liberty, freedom, and even one’s very life. So while American Christians have been spared (so far) such persecutions, regular readers will note that I have posted several articles on this blog detailing the severe persecution taking place in other parts of the world today.

Literally tens of thousands of Christians are being persecuted, imprisoned, and murdered for the testimony of Jesus in our day. Yet for all that, Jesus calls those of his servants enduring such persecution “blessed”.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Let’s face it, the world in which we live is becoming increasingly hostile towards Christianity. Today, anyone who aligns themselves with Jesus is mocked, scorned, slandered, and generally treated with disdain.

This isn’t something new however, as Jesus said they did the same things to those who came before us. Our job is simply to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. [2]

Peter even went so far to say that if we were insulted for the name of Jesus, we are blessed because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us! [3]

I hope that this series on The Beatitudes has been both worthwhile and a source of encouragement to you. I never tire of reading these words of Jesus because they seem to fan the flames when we need a little spark to keep us pressing onward, and my prayer is that you feel the same way.

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] Psalm 51:10

[2] Philippians 3:14

[3] 1 Peter 4:14

 

Blessed are they that mourn…

2 Comments

In my previous post, we dealt the 1st of the Beatitudes, the promise made to those who are poor in spirit yet possess the kingdom. With this second Beatitude, we turn our attention to a promise that those who now mourn will one day be comforted.

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted“. [1]

Whenever I hear the word “mourn” I think of a very deep sadness or grief, the kind that nearly overwhelms the soul. We humans mourn over all types of situations. It’s how we cope, or how we endure trials that are often beyond our capability to handle.

Mourning is an outward indicator of pain and grief. It reflects our inward sense of hopelessness over something that is usually out of our control. The loss of a loved one, for example, is one of the most common events that will cause us to mourn and suffer grief.

Of course, there are other types of mourning as well. In Jesus’ day for example, there was no doubt a spirit of heaviness upon the nation of Israel. This once proud, favored nation had succumbed to sin and found themselves under the authority of a foreign government.

No doubt Jesus himself was mourning the condition of his people as he looked out upon Jerusalem and lamented the fact that though he had continually called them back to righteousness, they had steadfastly refused to come. [2]

On a lesser extent, I’m sure that many of us today mourn the condition of our society, being forced to come to terms with the fact that what once was, is now gone forever.

Perhaps, like me, you mourn the present apostate condition of the Church. Knowing that Jesus gave his very life for the Church that now largely rejects him causes me to mourn greatly for what could have been.

Whenever we find ourselves in a place of mourning, it can be extremely difficult to see beyond our present circumstance to a place of having hope for a brighter day.

Jesus, however, said that those who mourn shall be comforted. So, what do we take away from that statement?

Perhaps the most important thing to learn from what Jesus said is that there will be an end to the mourning. Overwhelming as it may be in the moment, the source of our mourning must give way to the peace and the presence of God.

The Apostle Paul said that the peace of God surpasses all understanding [3], and it is during these intense times of mourning that He will show up, often when we least expect it, bringing the comfort of a peace beyond our own understanding.

That alone offers great comfort, because I can tell you from personal experience that there are times in our lives when it appears the pages of our circumstances will never turn.

To this very day, I mourn and grieve over certain things that I have been forced to deal with. And while the pain may not be as intense as it once was, it is still there, scarcely hidden beneath a thin veneer of faith and hope.

I thank God however that the story doesn’t end there, because Jesus said that comfort was coming! In fact, we are told that while weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning! [4]

We have inherited the promise of Jesus that we will be comforted. Whatever is causing us to mourn, it has an expiration date affixed to it. It will not last, nor can it defeat us.

I hope you will join me in clinging to the promises of God that one day, every tear will be wiped away. The day is coming when neither death, sorrow, or crying will ever be heard again. [5]

Until that day, take solace in knowing that God sees, hears, and understands the things that cause us to mourn.

Comfort is coming, in Jesus name!

The next Beatitude we’ll look into is “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth”.

Be blessed!

Ron

[1] Matthew 5:4

[2] Matthew 23:37

[3] Philippians 4:7

[4] Psalm 30:5

[5] Revelation 21:4

 

What is your church known for?

6 Comments

I read an interesting article from Thom Rainer about Three Ways Churches Think They Are Known in Their Communities.

The gist of it centered around the question of “What is your church known for in its community?” Thom collected the responses to the question and found three patterns emerged. Below are the results, and I urge you to read the entire article along with the readers comments at the end.

  1. “About one-half of the churches are known for ministries that require the community to come to the church itself. Great preaching. Incredible worship services. A friendly church. Great events at the church. How our members care for one another. You get the picture.
  2. About one-fourth of the churches cited great ministries in and to the community. Partnering with schools in the community. Serving the community with food and clothes. Medical and dental ministries. Ministries to families, parents, and children in the community. The list goes on and on.
  3. About one-fourth of the churches said they were known for negative reasons. Preacher-eater churches. Congregational fights and splits. Legalism. Unfriendliness.”

All of this got me to thinking about my own church, so much so that I’m going to take my own unscientific poll to find out what my fellow congregants think our church is known for in our community.

What would you learn about your church should you ask the question “What is your church known for in its community?”

Do you think you already know their answers, or do you think you might be surprised at what you would learn?

Be blessed!

Ron

Older Entries