Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Seeing that the Law of God is Good

At the consecration of the newly built temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon pled to God for His people, Israel, that they would live according to Yahweh's commands. Then Solomon thought of foreign visitors, who evidently must have been many to merit mentioning in his prayer:
As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear you, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name. 2 Chronicles 6: 32-33

 Historically, Jews have not evangelized. Israel's neighbors and those who heard of them from distant lands, were not impressed with Israel's charities, or community outreach outside of their own people. The foreigner didn't think, "Wow! Those Israelites are nice, warm, friendly people." 

In fact, it was quite the opposite. I am not saying they were mean-spirited, not at all. Few foreigners could get to know an Israelite in an intimate way because God's laws restricted interaction with non-Hebrew people. Israel could not live among the gentiles, for they would become unclean and unable to perform God's ritual laws. So they stayed separate, even when living in a diaspora city. 

The Talmud records how the Jews would measure off their section of town so they would be a certain distance from Gentile homes, and orient their windows, preventing interaction with non-Jews on Sabbaths and holy days.

In a general sense, if the non-Israelite was kept from being friends with the Israelite, how could they hear the people of God's heart-felt testimonies? Why would foreigners come from a long distance to worship Yahweh at His temple? 

Because in the Old Testament, God set up Israel's system of laws to announce the coming gospel. And rather than saying, "Look at the nice, friendly people of Israel!" the foreigner thought, "Look at the good laws of Israel!" 

The Torah itself spoke of the goodness of God. God was seen as a light unto the world through His commandments. The Old Covenant system itself proclaimed the character of God. Israel was a living example of the fruits of God's laws. In a sense they were performing, as if on a world stage, the Torah. 

The commandments cried out the glory of God as the humble people of Israel acted faithfully.  

The New Covenant 

Before Christ ascended into heaven, He gave the New Covenant and told His disciples to go out into the world and announce the good news. This was radically different than the way the gospel was proclaimed by Israel before Christ. Now, the followers of God were expected to go out and live among the gentiles and verbally tell the story of Christ while continuing to magnify the laws of God through acting with righteousness.

If you look at the modern evangelical strategies, you would think that the Great Commission was merely the spoken word. Our bishops, priests, Protestant pastors and laymen express faith as only what one says rather than what one does. The idea has disappeared that Christian obedience to God's New Covenant laws proclaim His glory equally with that of what we say. They go hand in hand. 

I fear it is because so many of our bishops and priests are embarrassed by the law of God. Rather than loudly live the glory of God through His just and merciful commandments, Christians uncomfortably demur and apologize that God has set such a high standard. We have hobbled our witness because we have defaulted into only telling the story of Christ. 
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi

Are we truly, deep down, convicted that God's call to holy living and sanctification is too difficult? Too harsh? Unreachable? Or even that His laws are mean-spirited? Is God judgmental and intolerant?

Is it possible that we are not convinced that God's commands to us are loving? 

What a tragedy! 
Christ's commandments are life! They are the way and the truth. Our living them is just as glorious a witness of the gospel. Christian morals and standards are the very foundation upon which our gospel stands. If we take the commandments out of the picture because we are embarrassed by them, we give the listener an experience whereby they may joyfully understand God's love for them and then rob them of the very netting that will catch them when they fall back into sin. 

His ways, His New Testament laws are good, very good. And as we live them, the foreigner will be drawn to the glory of God even if we kept silence! Because God made man to love His law. His laws will bring us the joy and peace we so long for. We do the unbeliever a great disservice when we recoil from presenting the joy of the obedience of faith. 

God commanded that we go and tell of Him. And that is wonderful. But let us never withhold the fullness of the Gospel. Let us never shirk to proclaim the goodness of God's morals both through our voices and through our lives. 

And we can only do that if we find His laws good and joyful! 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

There is Freedom and Then There is Freedom!

Let me start with the fact that I agree with this guy. Please remember that: I AGREE with this guy. What frustrates me is that it seems no one gets the BIGGER picture. The bigger picture happens to be philosophical and not emotional--so people will tune out how to SOLVE this problem because thinking in a rational, analytical way hurts one's brain. We have A.D.D. as a nation and are too impatient to even focus for a few minutes on something we don't want to think about. Thinking hurts!!! But many people (not my family and friends, of course!) need to realize they must THINK PAST the pain.... it is so important for our future.

(Note: Any use of the word "you" is general--not intended for anyone in specific.)

I get why this man is saying that our freedom is threatened by politically correct language. I agree--a whole BOOK could be written about this subject. But to address it, we really need a higher perspective--historical, intellectual, philosophical and most important-- theological perspective.
Number one: WHY are we feeling triggered in the first place?


ANSWER: Because the family has fallen apart. Because we no longer trust our authorities BECAUSE the family has fallen apart. We worship comfort and stability BECAUSE we have substituted food, entertainment, and fun for reality because reality hurts. Why does reality hurt? Because the family has fallen apart. Realize, I am not blaming these university kids. They are a product of their parents who are a product of their grandparents. In general, the blame points backwards.

Most people look at their family and think, "My family was okay." That may be true. I am not arguing the individual family. When the structure of a culture strains under the weight of the corporate collapse of the family, and when everywhere you look there are children of divorce, people who cannot hold down jobs, people who can't relate to others.... it will affect you no matter how perfect and functional your own family was.

No matter how wonderful we personally may be, we are swimming in a culture of depravity, corruption, vulgarity, emotional instability and despair BECAUSE the family has fallen apart. America has one of the top divorce rates on the planet. It is among the top in drug abuse, pornography addiction, materialism. Studies have suggested our nation is one of the most unhappy on the earth. Our prisons are overflowing. Think about this: When HALF of all adults are being medicated for emotional problems, we have a real crisis.

AND THIS IS IN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT IS CALLED A FREE SOCIETY!! Freedom didn't prevent this..... Freedom can't solve this. In fact, a fake freedom helped cause it.


So why are the families falling apart? Because we live in a society that is driven by hedonistic, materialistic pleasure. Our god is money, emotion and comfort. We feel it is our God-given right to pursue happiness and live according to our own wills. We have wrongly conflated patriotic ideals with Christian ideals. Americans often believe that at the Founding Father's words were birthed from the Apostles' words. We actually ignore the
scripture that says that we must take up our cross daily, and sacrifice in love to live for others and try to fit that into a slice of "right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These two things are diametrically opposed to own another. You can't live for yourself and live for Christ. You cannot serve two masters. You are either living to make money so that one day you can retire and do what you want to do, or you are giving your life to serve Christ. It is impossible to do both.

More FREEDOM will not solve this problem. Christians need to choose this day whom they will serve.


If you are living in sin you are not free. That's the bottom line. No matter what laws you put in place to protect rights, no matter how many lives are given for the idea of freedom, there is NO freedom outside of a holy life. Christ tells us the TRUTH will set us free--not a well-written, nor carefully enforced Constitution. Living in His Truth sets us free. And not immediately... but eventually as we learn to accept more and more of His forgiveness and grace. We become free AS WE BECOME LIKE HIM! (smile!)

Look at the mess we are in under all the false freedom and libertine liberty and riot-producing rights? Have we found peace as a nation? No. We have been lied to. Peace is not about getting to walk around and do what one wishes without impediments. Rights do not empower us, nor give us respect or value. Liberty was known, even to the ancient pagans and to the greatest Greek and
modern philosophers of all history, to be but a puff of smoke. And that is why you have the brilliant Nietzsches and Sylvia Plaths putting their heads in the oven and committing suicide. That is why the Freuds and the Hegels, who helped birth the nihilistic spirit of our age, have philosophically inspired three generations to plunge into the most hedonistic and narcissistic lifestyles unknown since the Imperial family of Caligula.

Real freedom; true freedom is not living in a country that flies a flag and tells us it is there to protect our freedom. Freedom comes--not from without--but from WITHIN US! Few people are authentically free, for they are enslaved in a system that has utterly imprisoned them in body, soul, mind and spirit.

People live their lives--without any meaning--as automatons moving about in a fake world in a little box run by Siri, who spend their evenings isolated and entertained, their days dutifully
responsible to the capitalist system awaiting that future moment when they can take their money and go find a little peace and pleasure.

This is the system we proudly call freedom. And it is a horrible lie. A Devilish lie. And it is why we are unhappy and we don't even know the source of our confusing and meaningless existence. Most people are not even AWARE of their own existence other than when their body calls out to be fed or rested or anesthetized.

Each soul longs for true freedom. But humans in every age and in every time have sought it unsuccessfully until they found it in Him. At the foot of the Cross. In humbly letting go of self and witnessing a God of such love that He was willing to die to conquer sin so that we could taste TRUE freedom. And that freedom is felt when we repent and turn from the sins that we believe give us so much comfort and pleasure, the sins that seem to give us so much power and respect. That freedom is an illusion. Do not allow the devil to fool you any longer--to make you stupid and keeping you blind and deaf and dumb.

Our freedom and our liberty can only be found in one place, and that is in Christ. Devotion and utter obedience to God will truly undo the shackles of narcissism, the meaninglessness of self-centeredness. In giving our lives to share in His Divine life through uncompromising devotion and the obedience of faith, we open up the vast eternal cosmos and we go from the darkness of deception to the true enlightenment.

In fact, we find there, underneath all the rubbish of false promises what our hearts and minds were yearning for. Love. Not a love that fades but a love that burns so brightly, it has the energy of a trillion stars. It is a love that burns sin from our souls and sets us free. And that is worth giving up a life time of illusory freedoms.

Sunday, January 22, 2017



After God had formed the earth and the stars, the sun and the moon; after the oceans were teaming and the skies were filled with the creatures of flight; after He had breathed the animal kingdom into existence and after the Creator had made a man in His own image, God crowned all that He had made with a creature of unsurpassed radiance. God gasped at her glory. Only then did He announce for the cosmos to pause and look upon the woman.
"Behold," God announced, "My creation is finished and it is very good!"

To the precious women—the mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, neices and granddaughters who marched on Washington yesterday, (specifically the speakers and those who placed those depraved, bizarre pink caps on themselves in protest. I have no problem with being pro-women and protesting Trump.)

I must cry out and ask you:

Who has done this to you? 

Who has convinced you to display such depths of self-loathing?

You have fully and willingly submitted to having your eyes blinded! You, who have so eagerly tossed aside your limitless capacity to love, that you would form a mob to overthrow your own gender?

Why would you wish your sex to commit genocide with such irrational disgust for your own womb? To be at enmity with your own body and the body of the innocent unborn? Your movement is nothing but reckless, visionless self-carnage!

What deceiving snake has whispered into your gullible ears that your power derives from casting off all that is beautiful of womanhood and convinced you that femininity is to be crushed? 

You debase yourself in order to protest men debasing you! 
You demand men and the government give you rights that you freely have trampled underfoot.

You have tossed aside your glory to become all that you claim you hate in men.

Your anger and lust for power have given you over as silly pawns to your greatest enemy and you do not care. You would rather publicize your laughable, ridiculous "victimhood" to the world than live in a way that would generate respect. A
s long as you can vent your uncontrolled emotions in a spectacle, it doesn't matter to you that the majority of women who did not join your vulgar revelry will be painted into your hellacious picture of women. 

Do not fool yourself that you were courageous. 
You may have had the eye of the world for a moment. But ultimately, you have made your movement irrelevant and all thinking, decent people will no longer take you seriously. The shame of your behavior will linger far longer than your demands. All you have left yourselves, to make your voices heard, is to sink even lower and screech even louder.

Soon the world will weary of your mindless, meaningless tantrums and the next, wiser generation of young women will abandon your pathetic movement to embrace the glory that you stole from them. 

I call out to you my sisters to no longer be deceived. 

Return to the true feminine that inspired
princes to launch a thousand ships for you, that infinite power that excites and entices in men a passion that would write sonnets and sing your praises--the womanly charm that stirs in men's hearts to shed their blood to protect you and the children you bare. Rouse the noble masculine in men, not by your vicious spewing, but in your alluring gentleness. 

Return to the lofty position that made men die to civilize the world for you. 

With joy embrace the children you were created to bare and live so that your children will call you blessed. You will never find lasting joy in this indecent, coarse behavior. 

Open your eyes and your intellect and look upon yourself as God looks upon you. You have flung yourself to the dogs and handed out your treasures for free making yourself far more stupid than whores, when God created you to be queens! Value yourself again--for you are precious beyond limit. You have within you greatness as a woman and a mother and wife. Love your self again and that can only happen with humble submission to God.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Brief Review of Gregg Allison's Book : Roman Catholic Theology & Practice: An Evangelical Assessment

I don't review books. I am just a layperson who became Catholic in 2008 and who wants to write about my life and, right now, my life is about finishing up this book. 

Therefore, this will not be a scholarly review, just a few thoughts. 

I have a family member who converted into the Reformed Calvinist faith and to have a book that compares and contrasts Catholicism and Calvinism is helpful for me to understand her faith. This person absolutely believes with all her sincere heart that Catholics are lost and they teach a false gospel. I would like to be able to dialogue with her someday about her erroneous understanding of Catholicism. (Anyone reading this: please pray for this situation.) Hence, why I thought this book might be helpful. 

What is the book?

The author, Dr. Allison, pulls passages from the Roman Catholic Catechism and gives a Protestant assessment of it. I applaud his efforts to actually use the catechism because so many Protestants, who speak with great authority about Catholicism, use only anti-catholic propaganda or cite Catholic authors who--intentionally or not--give a false testimony about their faith.

The book is fair. He didn't seem to be looking for that "gotcha" moment many Protestants scan for when reviewing Catholic beliefs in order to expose the "Romanists" for the great whore of Babylon they believe their church is. 

Dr. Allison also attempts to understand the broader worldview of the Catholic and paints a fairly accurate picture of the framework by which the Catholics understand the Bible and their Church.
Most Evangelicals are not aware of the nature-grace connection and the Church-as-the-mystical-Body-of-Christ that Catholics base their interpretation of scripture upon. Most Protestants simply pull individual threads (doctrines and dogmas) out of the tapestry and then don't understand why that thread makes no sense to them. Dr. Allison gives a good introduction to how Catholics think.

And thank you, Dr. Allison, for writing that Catholics do not re-sacrifice Christ at the mass!
However, it is usually the error of the author that impel people to write a review. So, keep in mind that any criticism on my part is about five percent of the book. (That is always hard to get across as one is criticizing.... Sorry, Dr. Allison.) 

I will not be making any reference to where Calvinism is theologically wrong. Obviously, to have embraced Catholicism and rejected my Protestant roots, I think the Reformed movement is absolutely unbiblical. I will only address where I think Dr. Allison got it wrong in his assessment of Catholicism. 

As impressive as his attempt, the author still doesn't quite get Catholicism. Allison still propounds the myth that Catholics believe salvation is synergistic--that it is a work of God and man. It's a tough thing for Protestants to really understand, I know. For Catholic believe in freewill. Christians do make a choice. We do not believe salvation is thrust upon us by a God who predestined us to be saved no matter what we want. But we also believe that God's grace is sufficient. We are justified by our faith. 

Dr. Allison's misunderstanding is forgivable for he sees the world through Calvinist lenses. I freely admit I don't get Calvinism. For, to me, it seems unbiblical, mean-spirited and paints a picture of an arbitrary, unloving God. So I am still attempting to work on this from my side. 

Besides the salvation model, here are a few other points:

On page 48, Allison writes that evangelicals take sin more seriously; then on the next page he quotes another author who claims that Catholics have a "mild concept of sin."

Completely wrong. I can't imagine anyone knowing Catholicism and thinking they don't take sin very seriously. However, we are not obsessed nor oppressive in our beliefs. We are very reconciliation-oriented

He doesn't quite understand the hierarchy of Catholicism. But I don't think it is a big enough deal to comment further here. 

It is in the conclusion of the book where things go off rail into the bizarre. 

In chapter fourteen, "Evangelical Ministry with Catholics," Dr. Allison gives suggestions on how to convince Catholics they are wrong and Protestantism (specifically Calvinism) is right. He claims these things work, but I would suggest that they work with only Catholics who do not know their faith.

He tells evangelicals to really stress to the Catholic the depravity of man. 

If that works, I would not just be surprised but really sorry for the poor person trying to be convinced of such a dreadful thing. 

He suggests that the evangelical should insist that the Catholic Church isn't the original church Christ began. 

That would work. However, I don't know how a Protestant would actually do that. You can't prove it historically or biblically. Just insisting that it is true because that is the Calvinist belief isn't enough.

And if the Catholic Church isn't, then it would be the Orthodox Church--but never, ever could it be the Protestant Church. So I have to ask, what would the point of throwing out that erroneous belief be? If the Catholic Church isn't the Church Christ started then you would have to throw out the Bible because the Catholic Church put it together in the late fourth century. The evangelical would be cutting off his own nose to spite his face. 

Dr. Allison writes that all a Catholic needs to become Protestant is exposure to scripture and to "become familiar with the person and work of Jesus Christ."

Now I understand that this university teacher of theology and Roman Catholicism had literally no idea what he is writing about. Catholicism from front to back, up and down, diagonally, backwards and infused into everything is our Blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. If he claims to have read the Catechism and then wrote those words, I have to assess that Dr. Allison can't see the forest through the trees.

Then on page 456, I just had to stop reading to ponder the strange encounter the author suggests. He says evangelicals need to ask a Catholic a critical question, "Have you ceased to rely on all of your own efforts to earn God's love and forgiveness?"

Did the author actually ever ask such a demeaning, insulting and unnecessary question to a believing Catholic? What was their response? I  hope it was gentle and Christlike because that is how a Catholic is taught to respond and how most Catholics responded to my deeply prideful and elitist questions when I entered RCIA. However, the question shows a strange blindness to Catholic beliefs that should have been healed when he read the catechism.

Then, he tells the evangelical reader to assess how the Catholic answers the above question and if "the person grasps the importance of faith but is still committed to adding something to faith alone for salvation--[it] signifies that the person is not yet ready to embrace Jesus Christ." 

I sat back non-plussed. What tragic judgmentalism! The equipoise of the book just toppled and at that moment I realized the author simply judged Catholics by the people who were raised in it but did not understand it. What if Catholics judged Calvinists by its adherents who didn't understand it? 

If you wish, as a Catholic, to understand how a Calvinist sees your theology, the book is helpful. You might want to say a rosary before you read the conclusion. Calvinists are sincere and they mean well. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Restoring Us to His Image, Part Three by Teresa Beem

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full
submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. I Timothy 2: 9-15
For the last four generations of the women in my family, we have been confused by St. Paul. Did he just not like women? Was he a misogynist? We have wondered if the reason he never married was because he disliked females, because obviously he wanted us to shut up and not be seen. 

Therefore, Christian women dismiss this celibate Apostle because he obviously didn't understand women. He was a chauvinist bigot, right?

Yet, it is not only St. Paul who gives this same message to women. The very rock and foundation of our church, St. Peter, writes something similar.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. I Peter 3: 1-6
Yes, I know reading this makes today's modern, liberated female furious with offense, dismissing these Apostles' words as oppressive remnants from a male-dominated world. Some jump on the idea that any literal interpretation of the text must be wrong. "That's just your personal interpretation of the text, Mrs. Beem, prove it is the right one!"

Believe me, I sympathize. I am a strong, independent, intelligent Texas women who is used to being in charge. I have always been suspicious of, if not down right offended by these patronizing passages.

Yet, Catholicism has taught me that today's feminist reading of these passages is erroneous. These great saints gave women some of our most precious, grace-filled Words of God. 

In fact, with the proper perspective, we can say that St. Paul and St. Peter revealed to women how merciful is our Father. God was always looking out for us with a special and tender understanding of our weaknesses. Look at the warning of St. Peter to husbands:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. I Peter 3: 7
If a husband is not respectful of his wife, his prayers are hindered. Are we really attempting to humble ourselves and listen with love to the words of our Maker?

Here's why these admonitions from God need to be seen as the greatest gift for women, not to rob us of our dignity or oppress us. To fully explain, we need to return to the topic at hand. And that is how we are being restored into the image of God. 

I suggested in parts one and two that to return us to His image, saved Christians must undergo a transformation we often call sanctification. And the penances for the guilt of our first parents, given by God in the garden, still remain to restore us today. 

In the garden, Eve was deceived. Because Adam did not take authority over his kingdom, Eve fell. And though her sin was first, it was not the one for which mankind was punished. (I Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5: 17.) So God looked upon the woman with much kindness and mercy. 

While the man had to act against his nature and go out from the comfort of his parent's shelter, seek a wife, have children and take care of them--cleaving to his wife (or being faithful to her) in contradistinction, a woman's sanctification was natural. 
To the woman [the Lord] said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3: 16
Childbirth was the woman's way back to restoration to His image. 

Think of the goodness of this system for women! Eve's daughters were not thrust out of the protection of home, like her male counterpart. While the man must go out and find the courage to self give—to find ways of self sacrifice, a woman produces her own sanctification from her own body!

Wives need but to submit to their husbands and they bring forth children. And through children they will understand what self-giving and sacrificial love is. Hers is the easier, much easier, route to sanctification for she need only to do what was natural to her. 

How magnificent for God to give the woman the way of learning love from having children! In fact, the woman's sanctification was her very reward--children are the greatest blessing. 

And that is exactly what Satan has attacked. Women have been deceived into thinking that their position as a mother and wife is somehow less respected and important than a man's position. Before you young women get angry with me, please stop and think about this. 

A brilliant general expends his most vital resources, both physical and spiritual, on the enemies' points of strength. One can tell what Satan considers the most important based upon what he focuses his fiercest and most ferocious attacks. Think about what is going on in the world today with the hysterical focus on overpopulation. The environmental movement is trying to convince the nations that to save the planet we must discourage people from having children--that little feet have the largest carbon footprint.

Demons are attempting a maniacal and staggering rout of the traditional family in confusing the roles of male and female, the suppressing of offspring by contraception and abortion and euthanasia. 

With this agenda, Satan has attempted to keep women deceived ever since the Garden. Through women's lib, Satan has done something most clever, he has again made women feel they have the right to be in charge. He has betrayed them into believing they should attain the man's position of power and independence. 

The Father of Lies slowly introduced the "freedom" of a childless existence, having women fall to the lie that they will be happier if they give themselves sexually to men without any pretense of desiring marriage or conceiving with the man with whom she is having sex. 

We young women born in the sixties were told, "You don't have to be a mom! You have the right to choose a career. A child is your option, motherhood is a drudgery." Then in the seventies women were told, now that the culture had thrown off the social taboos of fornication, you can take a pill and sleep with anyone you wish. "Be smart. Don't waste your life. Get an education and job. Don't get stuck with babies."

Now in the 21st-century, babies are irresponsible. Women must get an education, and then they must sacrifice their best child-bearing years to pay off those crushing student loans and are enslaved in a system that makes them feel they have added to the planet's groaning overpopulation of they want families. Women in Japan are so shamed into believing children are irresponsible that they are treating their pets as children complete with taking them on walks in strollers in baby clothes, giving them bottles and birthdays. 

Satan has used the capitalist system and feminization to destroy the natural means for female's to learning the joy of self giving. He has turned sacrifice into a bad word, especially the sacrifices of being a wife and mother and diverted women's to believe their happiness and fulfillment will be found in fighting for their rights and achieving success in a culture of money, power and fame.
A note:
This is certainly not a criticism of those whose vocation is to be a monk or priest or nun. In fact, those whose vocation is to remain celibate are an example of God's way of learning the joy of self-sacrifice outside of having a family. They do not make their lives about watching sports or entertainment or living for personal fulfillment nor happiness. They go out and find those people that need their help. They become the bulwark for other people's families. Keep in mind, though, that their sanctification requires much more effort, for it is found only through a supernatural grace. 

God set up a wonderful way for us to learn the joy of self-sacrifice seen in the Cross. And our culture of success being achieved through fame or fortune, through pursuing happiness instead of holiness, of being ruggedly independent instead of courageously obedient to God, of always feeling good rather than giving sacrificially for others' good, is taking us down a path where we resent and reject God's most precious gift and that is to be like Him. We have fallen for Satan's trap. 

Have the courage to see past the trap. For God's future for us is eternal glory.

We will be restored to our natural selves as Kings and Queens in His Image by learning that the greatest joy in our lives resembles the cross. When we look upon Christ and His passion, we see the greatest example of love and that is the joy of suffering and self-sacrifice to the point of death. Giving all. 

When, through His grace, we learn this--we will be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Restoring Us To His Image, Part Two by Teresa Beem

In part one, we explored Christ's command to "be perfect" as God the Father is perfect and what that really means to us as Christians today. I suggested that one way we may better obey Christ and restore us to the image of God is through finding and living the joy of self-sacrifice. For the ultimate example of how to be perfect as God is perfect was seen in the joy of Christ's offering of Himself on the Cross. If we look to the Cross, then we see that perfection isn't about keeping laws perfectly or learning perfect truth or making perfect decisions and acting perfectly. As humans we will never be able to know all and so we will make mistakes. However, what we are able to do is love like the Father... love perfectly. 

It is found in suffering for the other. For suffering helps us to understand this eternal and highest thing we call love. In fact, suffering in an act of self-giving, best exemplifies love.

And this is hard for most people to understand. Before I was a Catholic, I would have simply stared at that concept without even the slightest notion of how to understand that, for I had been raised in a culture that says love is a feeling, a tender connection between two people. I did not see love as a gift of self-sacrifice based on one's will. I never realized that perfect love was not easy to give.

While we all enjoy things like gifts, time with each other, people listening to us, the greatest gift one can ever receive is when a beloved is in need and another person gives up what they need for the beloved.

I don't mean that real love is giving your ice cream to someone. I mean the really hard stuff.

Jesus told us that the greatest love is for a man to give his life for his friend. Sometimes that is not just taking a bullet for them. Sometimes it is not about an instant death to save another--as a soldier gives his life for his country on a battlefield. Sometimes giving one's life for another means giving up your dreams, your ambitions, your rights, your energy for them--day in and day out. Sometimes we are called to be living martyrs of love.

Think of the husband whose wife has had a stroke and his days are spent in total care,

brushing her teeth, dressing her, helping her to the bathroom not for a day, but until death do they part. This sacrifice, as painful as it is, through Christ's grace, we can learn to give with joy. And that will restore us to perfection.

Think of the spouse who has been unfaithful, or is an alcoholic, or is irresponsible. While love does not mean to sacrifice so that these people can remain in their sin. It does mean that we give up what we want, what is easiest for us, in order to authentically help that person be better. True love does not enable people to be weak and sinful. True love stands by, never abandoning them, as love helps them be strong overcomers of sin.

A side note: Please understand I am not saying this saves us. This is not about justification or earning salvation. This is about restoring us to perfection--sanctification. My audience is the Christian--the one already accepting the covenant relationship of God and themselves.

The Garden of Eden

I have been thinking about this quite a bit and here's some thoughts about how this idea of perfection can be traced all the way back to the Fall of Man in the garden.

After humankind sinned, we learned to take care of ourselves first; we began to look inward and no longer enjoyed sacrifice. God knew that we would have relearn what had been natural to us--the joy of sacrifice and self-giving. And the "punishments" of God in the garden of Eden were to help us regain this knowledge of the natural joy of self-giving.

God Disciplines Man

Let's look at the Genesis story after the fall:
To the woman he [the Lord] said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3: 16-19

In these verses, God is using His gift of creation in order to restore us back into His image. These chastisements were not simply punishments to show us who was boss. No, these were specific penances/disciplines in order to restore us to His image.

Man's sin was that he did not truly love God, nor his wife. For Adam's love for his Creator was neither obedient to the command to take authority over the earthly kingdom nor did Adam love his wife perfectly. For Adam deferred to his wife. Because she was so beautiful a creature, since she had been the crowning creation, the man abandon his wife to deal with a deception without intervening as was his job as her husband. Keep in mind that Adam was not deceived. He was being irresponsible and disobedient. He fell to cowardice.

Therefore, God had to reverse these tendencies that would now follow man through the millennia. He had to give the man courage to take responsibility and act with self-sacrifice. Therefore, God told man that he must work hard tilling the ground. He must act in order to take responsibility for his wife and family.

In order for he and his family to survive, man must act with courageous love. He could not stay within the protective confines of his mother and father, but God said men must leave his parents--go out--and make his own kingdom cleave to his one wife--take courageous, self-denying actions.

By this action of hard work and sacrificing his mind and body, by being faithful to his wife, he would be taking back the kingdom he had been given by God.

The attachment to the land, the working and striving with the soil was man's way back--his restoration--to perfection. Man's sanctification would come through responsibility for a family. (Again to re-emphasize--this isn't taking away from salvation history and redemption through the Cross, this post is describing a kind of earthy penance.)

God still uses this method for man's sanctification. And that is why Satan has attacked men in this area. Satan does not want man to take authority over his earthly kingdom. Satan wants man perpetually irresponsible and cowardly. Satan has made men weak and given them Peter Pan syndrome.

Satan has taken men from the soil and enslaved him to the little illusionary digits in his bank account. He has lost his freedom and independence and man is reduced to toiling day in and day out for another man's kingdom, thrilled to get a few dollars, rather than seeing the work of his own hands on his own land. Satan's system has long been to make men nothing more than robots, creating a system where men no longer have kingdoms. Instead of self-sacrificing courageously for his family, many men have given their souls over to strive for mammon. And that is if they are striving for anything anymore. Many men have been raised to simply see life as a place to seek entertainment and comfort--watching others work hard for heroic masculinity via sports, video games and movies rather than becoming a hero themselves. 

Men today are demeaned by the culture. They are shamed into believing they have toxic masculinity. They are told they must not take up for themselves, that they are stupid and unneeded, that their most basic instincts are unworthy and evil--even their instinct to pursue a wife and then care of her. They cannot be the hero they desire to be, for everything they need to redeem them into the men God intended them to be has been shamed and mocked and stolen from them. 

Satan wants our culture to prevent man from learning perfect love through the joy of self-sacrifice. So Satan has allowed them to give into the dark and deep abyss of their weaknesses and now western men are vain, gender ambiguous cowards who would rather be a hero in a video game gratifying their sexual needs with a cyber freak than a wife.

And this has been Satan plan all along. 

Men need to start taking back their kingdoms. Marry. Have kids. Work hard for them. Be responsible and courageous and don't allow your wife to be deceived. Be a good warrior for God by being obedient. Be a good husband by making her your queen. Be a good father by disciplining your children, teaching them courage and godliness through your example. Take authority with sacrificial love. And ask for the grace to do it with joy.

Be a king. 

That was what you were made to be. For you were created in the image of God. 

(In part three we will discuss how Satan has tried to rip away women's sanctification, the female way of attaining joy through self-sacrifice.)