Friday, October 6, 2017

WHAT IS LOVE?

God IS love.

God does not possess love like it is something other—something outside Himself. God did not create love, as if it is material. Nor is it ours to grasp. 

Love is freely given to every living creature on earth that they may fulfill their purpose in glorifying God. Humans are the only creatures that can choose to love or choose not to love.

When we want to understand love, when we want to be loving, we go to God. There is no other source of love than God Himself. All love we see in the world finds its source in the Creator. Each act of kindness, each patient word, each sacrifice for another has an unseen and often unrecognized mover. God is glorified in each selfless act, no matter who gets earthly credit. He is pleased when humans show they are made in His image by even the tiniest acts of self-giving. Each glimmer of goodness reflects back to He-who-is-good.

We often mistake love for comfortable, emotional sentimentality—a feeling that warms and soothes us. Yet love is so much bigger than that. While love is feeling—in the present moment—the distant shores of a peaceful land, love does not allow us to sleep and dream too long. Love abruptly awakens us and gives us supernatural power to stand and fight today’s battles of pride, selfishness and lethargy.

Do not fear love. Often we substitute pleasure for love because love can be more painful to receive than to give. Love tells us who we are, and the natural man does not want to know who he is. For the infinite meaning of who we are to God is unbearable without His grace sustaining us. As that knowledge of love is unfolded to us, as we enter the holiness of love, we often long to cling to our wretched view of ourselves. And we retreat back into fear. 
For, Love stretches us to our full height as it embraces us.

Love is a daily, hourly, and by the minute letting go of fear. The fear that we will not get our way.  The fear of loss of control. For love freely gives control to God knowing that “though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.” It is the mystery of faith that as we pour ourself out as a sacrifice for others, that Christ’s grace will continually flow through us so we do not dry up.

Love is liberating. Our choice to give ourselves over to loving God and others opens up more and more freedoms. While choosing to refuse to love will eventually restrict us. Because--s
in does not knock when it enters. Sin does not ask our permission, nor announce what he is doing. Sin takes advantage and creeps in, enslaving us to our indifference and hate. 

Love understands that sin is man’s greatest enemy and always picks up the sword to fight with and for the sinner—not against him. Sin cannot endure love and when sin is convinced love will win, it flees.

Love never blocks another's way to heaven.

The Christian journey is a series of learning to prostrate ourselves before Love. For love is demanding. It does not allow us to think ourselves better than others. It molds us into a perfection of patience and kindness. It teaches us to look upon the terrible struggles of sin in others and never judge the outcome, for love never gives up hope that God will win in every soul.

The more we love, the less we sin. It is the definition of how love works. For as we behold the very source of all life and love, we are changed into His image.

The Catholic Church has helped me see through the eyes of Christ, which are the eyes of love. I could never have seen unless He healed me of my great blindness. I never even knew I was blind, until He gave me sight. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WHY SOME CATHOLICS CALL SUNDAY "SABBATH"

Let me begin by saying, the Sabbath issue is basically a non-issue for everyone but Seventh-day 
Adventists. To take the time to explain the theology of the Lord's Day and the Sabbath day is about as important to Christians as debating who wrote the book of Hebrews--was it St. Paul or Apollos or Barnabas? People simply don't care, so this is why the Catholic Church doesn't address this mistake of many Catholics calling Sunday "the Sabbath." When you are in battle against Satan, and families are being torn apart, the last thing you are worried about is whether your socks match. And that is the importance to Catholics about this subject.

But I will give a very brief and incomplete history of how this Sunday "sabbath" issue grew up in America and why Seventh-day Adventists can find a whole slew of writings they quote in their literature that back up Catholics calling Sunday, "the Sabbath."

First, through the centuries, scholars--all theologians--have seen the similarities in holy days. There are similarities in the high holy days that occur once a year in Lev. 23 to the sabbath that occur weekly. In fact, the Passover was called a "sabbath" just as the 7th day was called a Sabbath, though they were not commemorating the same event. The Passover was a holy day just as the seventh-day was a holy day, but they were very different in that one pointed to the Promised Land and the other pointed to Creation. We have holidays in America and are free to call Christmas a holy day and somehow that is not confused with Easter. It's similar to the way Catholic theology treats the Lord's Day and Sabbath.

Okay... so, understanding this, I jump to 19th century United States.

America had been very anti-catholic. Many early colonies did now allow Catholics to live there. The KKK's targets were both blacks and Catholics. The Catholic Church was attempting to survive by proving to Protestants we were not the great evil thing it was being portrayed as. Public and private debates erupted.

There seemed to be one point upon which the Protestants could not answer the Catholics. Catholics asked them why Protestants went to church on Sunday when there was nothing explicit in scripture that commands Christians to worship on Sunday. It was their "gotcha" moment in all exchanges. The point was that Protestants unknowingly accepted the authority of the Catholic Church by going to church on Sunday. To this day, the same argument is used by Catholics to Protestants who deny that the Catholic Church has authority. Why do you go to church on Sunday? 

...... crickets......

Because the Catholic Church sees similarities in the Lord's Day and the holy seventh-day of the commandments, Catholics are free to use those similarities.

However, the Catholic Church never changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Sunday is the Lord's Day. It is the first day and the eighth day---it is not the seventh day. If one goes to Rome, one will hear anyone speaking Italian or Latin refer to the first day of the week as "The Lord's Day" and the seventh day of the week as "The Sabbath." There is not a transference. Sunday gets its holiness from being the great day of the Son of God gave His life to save the world. Sunday doesn't need to borrow its holiness from Sabbath. Indeed Sabbath derives its holiness because it foreshadowed the holiest day of all time.... the day heaven and earth met in a cosmic battle for our souls. And there was never a doubt as to who would win. Jesus won. And each Sunday we are celebrating that.

The sabbath was just like John the Baptist when he said something similar to, "I must grow lesser that Jesus may grow greater."

American Catholics have used the Sabbath/Sunday as a survival issue so that the could end the attacks on Catholics. They just have never taken the time to explain the theological nuances of the Lord's Day. And that has caused untold misunderstandings with Adventists.





















Monday, September 25, 2017

A WAY OF FINDING TRUTH



After we left the Seventh-day Adventist church in 2001, I began an online support group for former Adventists. I considered it my ministry. I saw this ministry as a hospital for the war wounded. That is not a criticism of Adventists at all. Anytime a person makes such a large change in belief it it can be traumatic for themselves as well as their families.

Most Adventists became former Adventists because they had been raised to believe that they had the truth. Adventists alone not just had the truth but lived the truth by going to church on the seventh day of the week. They had a prophetess, Ellen White, who supposedly explained the Bible and they have a Bible, the Clear Word, that clarifies scripture by translating it in accordance with Ellen White's writings.

The SDA church emphasized the Sabbath-truth to evangelize other Christians into our denomination. They preached that a true Christian must have the courage to join the remnant church even against the wishes of their family. Fiery Revelation Seminar speakers would plead for souls to have the faith to quit jobs that make one work on the Sabbath day, suffer financial depravation and humiliation and even, in the soon-coming last-days, be martyred for their faith in the Adventist message.

SDA church school teachers read mission stories during Bible class about distant villages learning the Three Angels' Message. A few children would desire to become SDA, but their parents would be so against it that they would threaten their children's lives if they believed the missionaries. Upon being lifted out of the baptismal waters, these brave parent-defying children, were shot and killed by their fathers. And one day, we SDA children would also be called upon to die for the Sabbath truth. And many of us sincerely prepared our hearts to live and die for Jesus by never, ever giving up the truth.

Adventist children were primed to be willing to follow truth no matter what, and later many would give all to follow truth if they found it outside Adventism. So the majority of former Adventists who joined our group, did so because they no longer believed the SDA church had truth and in fact, taught false doctrines.

On the other hand, there are always people who leave a denomination because they were hurt by someone in the church and it had nothing to do with truth. Our Former Adventist group had many people purging years of hurt, anger or bitterness and our Facebook page allowed them to criticize Adventism. I prayed each day for these souls that they would heal and learn that there is joy reaching out for them from heaven. I believed truth would set them free from pain.

But thank God, many former Adventists were not bitter at all and had happily moved forward to finding truth in other Protestant, Messianic, Orthodox or Catholic churches. I appreciated these formers joining with us as witnesses to others that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Soon we had hundreds of people join, then a thousand and several hundred more.

However, the nature of Facebook is that anyone can come on to a group and many of those who came were Seventh-day Adventists, hurt, angry and bitter that there was even a Facebook page they felt was against their church. Unfortunately, they were right. When former Adventists got together to talk things out, it was anti-Adventist by its very nature. Disagreements and debates broke out about how one read the scriptures. It was a battle of truth interpretations.

As the administrator of the group, I felt it necessary to ask the Adventists to leave because our corporate scrutiny of truth confused and offended them. This was their beloved church, they would naturally see us as being hateful by pointing out how the SDA doctrine was not correct. Then, many former Adventists pled with me to allow the debates to continue because it was helping them heal. Many of them did not have the time to sit down and figure out just what was wrong with Adventism and these debates clarified it.

So I allowed it. And mostly I was the main person debating the Adventists. I hated it and it grieved me because I knew something was wrong with Christians battling each other—competing over who had the truth. We could hurt each other, dismiss each other, judge each other, abuse and desert each other if truth was at stake. Above all, individual Christians had to protect "truth" because we evidently thought God was unable to do it, or at least we thought God had given each of us a special duty to protect truth. We all wanted to be the bold and faithful Martin Luther standing against the world to defend God's truth.

It took a huge toll on my health. If you think that is an exaggeration, please contact my husband and children. I sincerely didn't know what to do because I was seeing great fruit from our ministry, but also I was daily witnessing and being a part of an online battle that left a few even more wounded. Something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

Then after becoming Catholic, I was speaking to a priest about our online former Adventist ministry. Without knowing much, he was concerned and
said I needed to quit any ministry that did not bring Christians together in unity and love.

WHAT? My heart sped up in panic as I pondered his words. Did the priest not realize that the entire "ministry" of Adventism is to break apart the bonds of Christian unity by drawing Christians from their churches into the SDA church? The entire raison d'etre for Adventism was to give the Third Angels' Message—the Adventist gospel to the world— that everyone should recognize Catholicism and every other Protestant denomination on the planet was apostate. They believe that anyone going to church on Sunday would one day wear the demonic sign of 666 and be lost. By its very definition, Adventism was unloving and divisive. I argued with the priest in my head, "Didn't former Adventists deserve a safe space?"

After seven years, I closed out my former Adventist Facebook, being obedient to the priest and knowing that if the priest was wrong, then the Lord would raise up another person to continue the ministry.

As I reflect back, I know the priest was right. It has taken me lots of soul searching and prayer, but I have come to a conclusion that is easily going to be misunderstood. Therefore, I beg your patience as I struggle to explain why I believe the priest was correct.

SOLA VERITAS

Many Christians have placed the cart before the horse. Many Protestants have focused exclusively on truth. Every aspect of Christianity—why we join a particular church, how we judge other Christians, how we behave—is measured only by truth. It is the reason we separate from other Christians and other churches. We divide over what we believe is correct doctrine. As if correct theology is the standard by which Christ judges us. Because of this standard, many Protestants believe that Catholics and Mormons and Adventists do not have truth, therefore, they cannot consider them Christians. Many Catholics do the same.

Hmmm, what if…. what if we began to change our way of thinking. What if we began assessing other Christian denominations not only by their truth, but also by their love? How many Christians would stand up against that measurement? While I absolutely, please sincerely understand me when I write, I do not in anyway shape or form believe we should bend to something that is not true, I do think truth is essential. However, maybe we are looking at this wrongly.

I would like to adjust a famous statement by St. Anslem of Canterbury who wrote: “For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”

What if we replaced the idea of truth for understanding and faith community for belief.  The statement would then read, "I do not seek truth that I may join a church, but I join a church in order to have truth." Boy that is a scary thought for Protestants. It makes my body shiver all the way down in fright. That is so contrary and almost downright blasphemous to even think. Are Christians just supposed to be zombies—blindly following any church? If so then no one would ever leave Adventism! I know that makes no sense.

However…. let us take a moment to think about it. I am not asking in any way to give up truth. I am saying that perhaps, we cannot reach truth by simply, individually seeking it. What if Christ purposefully created humans dependent upon each other to see things correctly.  And what if God purposefully placed truth in a position that it took Christians together in community to discover it. Like each of us was looking at a small pinpoint through a fence describing and elephant standing right next to the fence. If we each describe the part we can see, we can put the pieces together to see the whole picture. The fullness of faith in found in God's community.

And this is through the supernatural gift of God's vision for each of us. For no matter how brilliant an individual is, understanding is given to us by faith and through God's grace.

The nature of truth is that it is found within unity in Christ and cannot be found outside of this unity.

The Problem of Sola Veritas

I noticed through the years that when Christians begin discussing "truth" we tend to put on our mental armor and pull out our weapons. Instead of reveling in the holy pursuit of truth, we draw back in defensive self protection because any "truth" that contradicts ours causes us to panic feeling a direct hit upon our souls. It is an existential threat, because we are our beliefs. They are our identity and disagreement feels like an arrogant aggression. Truth seems to attack. The problem is that all of us are wrong about some belief.

Because of this perhaps truth should never to be our front line of evangelization. And that is what it has become.

Let's go to scripture to test my theory. The saint and apostle who wrote most of the New Testament and who Protestants claim is the greatest expositor of faith, also wrote the following:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  …And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Perhaps this should be our map to evangelization rather than sola veritas or riding into a conversation making truth the most important of all things to give to an unbeliever. Maybe we should first give them Christ's love. Perhaps only after we are known by our patience, kindness rather than our knowledge, perhaps it is only after they know that we are not proud, but that we respect them, that we are not angry or keeping records of wrong that they will listen to our truth. Perhaps after they know we are perseveringly there for them, to protect them—trust them, then their hearts and minds will be open to hearing our truth. And isn't that the point? We want them to know truth, right? Let us bring it to them as Christ did, we must be with them, healing their sickness, casting out the demons that torment their life. Love should always soften the beaches first, for if we do not have love. NO matter how right we are….

WE HAVE NOTHING. 

Truth is not the purest form of the Cross, love is.

Please don't misunderstand. I am not saying we must say truth nicely. Love is not how sweet the wording. I am saying, first be loving. They need to see how you respect them and understand them to the point that you are willing to sacrifice what you need or want for them. In fact, you need to show them that you love them like Christ first.

And love is not a means to an end. What devastation a Christian will reek in the name of Christ if we are good to people for the purpose of evangelizing them.  That will cause people to hate Christ because Christians use love to insinuate into their lives to manipulate them. 

St. Paul said love is greater than truth. So truth is not the point. Love is. If all we ever do is show them Christ's love and we never get to teaching them truth, that is enough. Because of we bring them to Christ, He is truth. And we can trust Him.

That is what I learned from the priest.

We were arguing truth on Former Adventist Facebook. We had put the cart before the horse. And I realized as I spoke with both sides, the Adventists there were wrong, and we were wrong. Healing will not come through a battle of truths, healing will come through love. And once healing is underway, truth will come in a surprisingly easy way. For only when our hearts are opened, can our minds be reached. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS, THE NATURAL LAW AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS



I am doing some research and at this point I don't know who or where to continue researching for answers. (Scholars who might have the answers are too busy to answer my emails--evidently.) 

Anyone who knows anything about this or knows of a book or class to recommend, let me know. 

My questions: 

1) The American Founding Fathers stated that some things are "self-evident." Would that mean that self-evident principles are self-evident to all cultures and peoples for all time? 

2) How do "self-evident" propositions compare to the Natural Law? Would the Founding Fathers believe they are the same? Are they basically the same? Or are they very different and why?

3) Would the Ten Commandments fall under laws that are "self-evident" or the Natural Law? Why or why not? 



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