Friday, November 27, 2009

Love - Jaeson Ma

This is a great video. Watch Love by Jaeson Ma

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Know What You Believe and Why

Recently, I have taken a bit of a curve. I am on a quest to see the love of God active in my life. But I also know that love is based upon truth. That's the whole idea unsaid in the great commandment of Christ to love God, love others. The premise is first to love God, we must know Him. And to know him we must know what the scriptures say about him. That's the first half of the love command. He brings to fulness of meaning to all the scriptures, the law, the psalms, the prophets, what we call the Old Testament. In order to know him, we learn...learn about him from these scriptures. And the New Testament highlights the old by completing the picture and showing how what we know in Christ is practiced. Without the Scriptures, we are blind to the particulars about God. Without the Holy Scriptures we cannot grasp the fullness of the love of Christ.
So in light of that, I remember an old title I read many years ago early in my journey by Paul Little called Know Why You Believe. It's a classic and a master piece. It's still available and can be purchased at Amazon.
Today, theology and doctrine have been cast into the shadows and as a result we are casting around a lot of shallow experience related belief systems. Just love and others and God will take care of the rest. Well, a half truth has caused a lot of bad doctrine to be taught. Love is the primary focus of the gospel. But that truth is based upon important truths that keep the idea of love in harmony with the love of God. So as a result teachings bordering on outright heresies are being taught.
I know that's not popular, but truth sometimes is hard to take. So, what's my point? Take time to think and don't get sucked into this idea that doctrine and theology are not important. Turn off the television, your computer, your Ipod, or whatever and do some hard thinking. I'm doing that only because I realize the we live in a world that is crumbling into major confusion and disintegration. I know I must know why I believe what I believe.
So, long story cut short. Go to the New Reformation Press and listen to to great lectures. Craig Barton Esq. gives a great lecture on Why Defend the Faith At All. It's a block buster.
The second is an Introduction to Apologetics by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. It is one of the best talks I've heard on the subject. Both these guys are Missouri Lutheran guys and are dead on.
If you are not used sitting any longer than 15 minutes listening to talks, stop every 15 minutes and try to write down what the guys just said. If you don't understand listen again. These aren't "Dick and Jane" first grade books. They are meat not milk. Folks, it's time to grow up in our faith. These guys will provide good stuff to grow on.
Enjoy.

Thanksgiving Prayer and Videos-My Gift To You Today

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Lord, so often times, as any other day
When we sit down to our meal and pray

We hurry along and make fast the blessing
Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing

We're slaves to the olfactory overload
We must rush our prayer before the food gets cold

But Lord, I'd like to take a few minute more
To really give thanks to what I'm thankful for

For my family, my health, a nice soft bed
My friends, my freedom, a roof over my head

I'm thankful right now to be surrounded by those
Whose lives touch me more than they'll ever possibly know

Thankful Lord, that You've blessed me beyond measure
Thankful that in my heart lives life's greatest treasure

That You, dear Jesus, reside in that place
And I'm ever so grateful for Your unending grace

So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You've provided
And bless each and every person invited

Amen!

--Scott Wesemann



\

Johnny Cash sings a Thanksgiving blessing.

Who can ever forget this?


Thanksgiving sounds and sights by pianist George Winston

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More links To Challenge Us To Think

Some blogs really challenge my way of thinking. The following are prime examples.

Check out...
The Gospel, Old and New

Evangelicals and Catholics...a very good presentation on the similarities and differences. Chris Castaldo presents a very good arguement and one in which I find similar to my own. Read the follow on comments as well as they are thoughtful.

Feeding On Christ...If you love Reformation thinking, here's a gold mine for you to dig around in.

Required Behavior Modification and the Gospel...And how can I not bring a little balance here with my favorite Internet Monk...who is not a monk, by the way...Michael Spenser. Follow the links he suggests. It is great reading and listening.

Change of pace...
Want to listen to some music? Try Steve McCoy's suggestions at Reformissionary for some good Five dollar CD's.

That's all folks...until next time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Miscellaneous Postings

Greetings on this day in which much of the Christian world ends the liturgical year with Christ the King Sunday. I hope your day was filled with appreciation for the one who is King.

Today, I list some of the sites I found interesting today. I hope you do as well. Enjoy.

From the Protestant World

1. Ben Witherington on the Bible and Culture, SBL Lecture---Wise and Sagacious Vistas on Matthew.
2. An interesting sermon from one of my favorite Protestant bloggers, Michael Spenser, The Internet Monk. His article On Christless Preaching is a home run in my book.

From the Catholic World

1. From the New Liturgical Movement, Architectural Imagination: Russian Churches
2. If you've never heard these guys sing, you've missed out on a treat. Read about them here in the article on the World of Mysteries website, We trust in the Lord but we still take pills for our health, say classical stars The Priests.
3. From the Vivicat blog, Today's the Solemnity of Christ the King. (some interesting historical explanations here.

From the Anglicans

1. Want an Advent tag for your blog? Try this at Liturgy by Bosco Peters.


Well, that's it for today. It's a slow day today. But this will keep you busy for a while. In the meantime check also check out, The White Horse Inn, one of the best Reformed sites I've seen. Listen to the podcasts and read the articles. It is filled with rich, rich stuff. In the same vein check out Stand To Reason a great site by Reformed apologist, Greg Kouki. One more on the new Reformed views, Reformation 21. These guys will challenge you to think. Great meaty stuff. On this site, particularly check out, Is Idolatry the New Sin? -Reformation 21. It is a blockbuster article and one that needs to be read more than once. I know that I've made some of the mistakes this author spotlights. This is a good one.

As you can see there are tons of choices here. My intent is to find common ground. It's not easy, but it's there.
Enjoy

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nagging Thoughts

Every once in a while I get the nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, God isn't going to do things the way I think he should. Or could it be, others just don't seem to understand that I'm right? Don't you question yourself, at least a little bit? I do. I'm always asking questions of myself.

Like, if Jesus says we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and then love our neighbor as ourselves, then.....why the heck can't I?
I mean, it's so easy to love my wife, my friends and my church but to love my neighbor? Come on...have you seen that jerk?

How can I love a guy I don't agree with? Doesn't he know he should think like me?

Then I get this thought, If I say I love God and don't love my neighbor then the whole mess falls apart. No unity is possible. No harmony is possible and furthermore, I don't love God. I shudder when I think that not to love my enemies tells me I really don't love God.

But...when I know they are wrong and committing grave and serious sin...in my opinion...then how can I love them? Well, does God love them in their sin?
Uh...yeah.
And doesn't God consistently try to reach out to them?
Uh...yeah.
And shouldn't they repent before they are forgiven?
Uh...uh oh...Forgiveness took place on the cross didn't it? Repentance is simple their choice to respond to God's forgiveness through Christ by turning to him.

Folks, I don't love God. I'm learning that to love God means I take on his nature to love others. But in order to love others, I need to fall in love with the Lover.
God is love. I can't make anyone else love. I can't make anyone else be lovers. I can't make anyone become what I think they should become. My job is to be what God wants me to be and that's to be His lover. And when I become his lover, he becomes my lover enabling me to love others. I repeat, my job isn't to MAKE someone love. My job is to love.

I'm not there yet. You'll know when I am before I do, I'm sure. But until then, be patient with me. I goof up.....a lot.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Look

As those of you who visit my blog, I've changed the look. Hopefully, it will be easier to read. I'll be making more changes over the ensuing months. Time is my biggest enemy. I only have a few hours a week to spend time on my blog and the bulk of that is early Saturday morning when all is quiet and I have no interruptions. The rest of the week is hit and miss as I'm still working 40 hours a week and then have little time in the evenings due to the necessity of family time.

My plans are to develop everything to match the title of my blog which is I Am Loved. The chief commandment of Christ was to Love God and Love Others and as a result serve the world. I'm woefully deficient in the latter two, so will be addressing those changes as time goes along. I realize that all the talk about loving God is useless unless I love others, friend and foe. That ultimately means sharing that love by touching the lives of others using the gifts given to me.

I'll never be a polished academic author but in my own simple way, I'll use what gifts and writing skills I have to touch the common man. Love does that. I've always been someone who will fight for what I believe. But I've also come to the belief that doctrine and creeds do more to divide and cause division than they unite. Love teaches me that God is more concerned that we share his nature which is love and try to find common ground between the various understandings of truth. It's our understandings of truth that divide us. There is one truth we can rally around and that is Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It is in Jesus that we learn who the Father is and it is Jesus that we gain an understanding of love, for he is the reflection of the love of the Father and the Trinity. Trusting in the Holy Spirit, I learn that the Holy Spirit enables me to love, teaches me about love and guides me into love. Jesus prayed that we might be one with the trinity. There is nothing more important.

Jesus is my main focus. Love is the expression of his life. If I focus on Jesus, love will be the result. Sometimes that love is tough, but still, it is love. A.B. Simpson said it well in his great hymn Himself which reads,

HIMSELF

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying, Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning, Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking, Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the vail.

Chorus: All in all forever...Jesus will I sing
Everything in Jesus and Jesus everything.


Jesus is the source of true love. If love is to be our message then we begin with Jesus who enables us to love. There is no other message.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Contemplation...AT WORK???

If you have ever studied and practiced meditation and contemplation, I'm sure it has been in relation to solitude, adoration, quiet places or just simply being alone with God. But have you ever realized that work can be a place of contemplation? Yes, I mean bringing Heaven down here, as my pastor puts it, right into the chair I sit at in front of my computer at work. Or maybe you're driving a bulldozer ripping out the walls of a building that is being destroyed. One of my favorite author's St. Josemaria Excriva, founder of Opus Dei, gave his life to making "Heaven Come Down Here." His books illustrate over and over again that Christianity is not just a look into the Heavens for inspiration, but that it is also a mission here on earth. Our daily activities are an act of worship. Read this article Work and Contemplation that appeared on the Opus Dei website a few days ago on November 4th. It is very well done and can be helpful to Protestants and Catholics alike who want to put feet to their faith. Enjoy...and contemplate.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Musings etc

It's no secret when you read my blog that I love our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, we have our differences, of course, but if there is one prejudice we Protestants need to get over is our Anti-Catholic prejudices. Most of what I read that condemn Catholicism are rehashes of partial truths and downright lies. Once you research what they actually believe, you find we are more in harmony than not. And my big God sized prayer is that we someday be one in unity and love.

Having said that, I've also said that Catholics couldn't teach their faith out of a paper bag. They are horrible communicators. Their books are dense, full of Catholic shop talk that no one but them understands. And I doubt most of their parishoners understand them either. Just look at the dropout rate from Catholic catechism classes as well as major seminaries and universities. And when you figure that, in their own words, seventy five percent of their parishoners don't attend mass, you know something is wrong in their education.

But there is a slow shift occurring. In the acedemic world there are lights on the horizon that show promise. Former Presbyterian Scott Hahn is the behemoth on the block leading the way. Rather than me writing on the promising future of literature, read the Musings of a Pertinacious Papist. The blog on November 9th describes some of the bright advances that are taking place through Ignatius Press in San Francisco. You'll find this incouraging.

I would continue to argue that most of the books are still above the average reader, but that is slowly changing. Enjoy this blog.

The IMonk and Cowards

If you haven't read Michael Spenser's blog today, you gotta read this one. He is spot on. Three cheers for saying it right. Read, Gospel Cowards.

If you were brought up in a church that gave you a long list of do's and don'ts to prove your faith,like I was, this is a must read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Personal Repentence and the Ft. Hood Shootings

I must admit, I need to repent. As one who has faced losing friends in a violent shooting at my former company in the late 1980's I've always held a bit of bitterness toward mass murderers. Some of you may remember the shootings at ESL in Sunnyvale, California on February 18, 1988. I was just a few buildings away when those shootings occurred that took the lives of some of my friends. It's something you'll never forget. And this bitterness always simmers in the back of my mind especially to those who are Muslims since 9/11. But the article below is one that poked at a little chink in my armor that I know has been festering and bothering me for a long time. Do I really love my enemies? Do I lump all people different than me into the actions of one individual who has committed heinous crimes.

Read this article and see if you face the same questions. The Fort Hood Shootings and The Privelege of Disassociation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 50th Anniversary Fr. Groeshel

Happy 50th Anniversary Fr. Groeshel, you are a blessing and an example to all who follow Christ.

Let us all celebrate a man who was a personal friend of Mother Teresa and who most exemplifies the kind of life she led. Fr. Groeshel is a modern day living saint whom God is using in New York and around the world through his exposure on EWTN Catholic TV and radio networks.

May God bless this humble man on this special day. Enjoy this tribute.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Great Video

Here is a great video that supports my earlier cry.

Do You Know What Solo Scripture is?

Do you know the difference between Solo Scriptura and Sola Scriptura? Here's an interesting article on a Catholic response to R.C. Sproul on the Called to Communion, Reformation meets Rome blog. This is something I think we need to quit fighting over. I know that will raise the hair on a few people's back, but if we can't get over these biggies, we'll never be united. I think this guy makes some sense when he points out the circular reasoning of the thinking of the Reformationist crowd. But, right or wrong...and by the way...I'm not in full agreement on his conclusions either...we need to get past this argument somehow. I don't know the answer unless it's to agree to disagree and still love one another and respect our differences over this issue.

I Get Passionate

I get passionate about my beliefs. Gee...no kidding eh?

I make no bones about it. I'm human. I have clay feet. I make mistakes all the time. I goof up, make a fool of myself, slobber when I should spit, bellow to relieve the pressure instead of swallowing my pride. Yep, I sometimes make a fool of myself.

I get passionate about Jesus. He who is love is my love. I'm not ashamed to say that. He is more important to me than any thing in this world or out of it. Jesus is more than a belief to me. He is a person who loved me. Hence the title of my blog. When I screw up, he loves me. When I get angry, he loves me. When I get hurt, he loves me. When I do wrong, (sin) he loves me. And when I recognize that my sin has made me less of a human, he's there to love me and remind me I was made for his love and that repentance needs to be made. There is nothing to stop him from loving me. He is real, he is alive and I love him. Is that schmaltzy? No, simple fact. I know him and love him, period.

I'm also passionate about the church. The church is Christ's body, therefore, I love it. The church is both the invisible universal (Catholic) body of believers and is a visible body of local believers who meet in a specific location. Jesus prayed that we be a unified church. He abhorred division. In his high priestly prayer he prayed that we might be one as he and the father are one. John 17:21-23. I get passionate when I don't see that prayer answered.

Don't think I'm pointing anyone out. When I point my bony broken finger at something, I have three pointing right back at me. I know that I'm contributing to disunity as much as the next person. And I don't love that.
I think this is Jesus' most important prayer. If he prayed for unity then I should pray and strive to make that the number one goal of my Christian life. That's why I harp on this again and again.

We are a broken body. We are divided into thousands of different denominations. We fight over theology, the Bible, each other, liturgy, worship styles and anything else that reinforces what we believe at the moment. And you know what? The rest of the world see that disunity and laughs at us and increasingly considers us irrelevant.

Folks, if our churches are not striving for unity in Christ, then we may as well forget all other programs. If we are not one in Christ or striving for that unity, then all the great preaching we here in the pulpits, all the evangelistic outreaches we ripple out to the community will be worthless.

We need to quit fighting and come together, with all our theological differences and unite under the banner of Jesus Christ. The world will never never take us seriously until we do. Now, the down side of that is, most likely, the world will attack us even more vigorously. I've heard it said the closer you get to God, the more likely you'll get burned. That's the hard part of being unified in Christ. All this talk about love without suffering is nonsense. If we follow Christ, are unified with him and each other, then his love will permeate our churches. It will be a strong love that is exhibited best in suffering and hardship. And it's when the world sees us willing to suffer for the love of them, then we'll see souls come to Christ in abundance.

That's why I get passionate. I don't care a wit about sola scriptura, solo scriptura, infallibility of any magisterium or whatever other doctrines we admire. If we are not seeking unity in Christ and coming together to discover what we have in common and then partnering on those common beliefs, then we are wasting our time. All the mega-churches in the world are nothing if we can't be one in Christ. I keep praying for the day when a Catholic priest can speak in a Protestant church and be loved and accepted as a brother in Christ rather than the enemy. I realize the difference between the Catholic service and the Protestant services. The whole purpose of meeting together is different in a mass. It is not a service but a meeting together for mutual prayer and participation in the Eucharist. The two can't be compared. But, but, somewhere, there should be a place for the Protestant to participate in the mass and not be considered a schismatic.

Now, this is all fine and dandy. Nice thoughts, but utterly impossible for little old me to bring that about. I know, I think that too. But, but..I can find one person to love. One person who is searching. God said not to cast our pearls before swine, meaning, we don't just throw out a big net and hope to build a strong church on whatever the net has entrapped. I think he's implying that he is preparing someone out there for the gospel, and when that one person comes across our path, then there is our ministry opportunity.

My personal prayer is always, Lord, show me that one person who is searching in their own heart for meaning and love and acceptance. That one person who has realized that all the world has to offer just doesn't answer the hunger in their soul. That's the person who has been prepared for me...and you. There is where the rubber meets the road. There is where the church is most effective.

I'm just a lonely voice out here in the blogging world with little or no readership. But, I hope that somewhere, someday, some lonely soul, looking for something different, something with meaning will notice something I've written and will be drawn to Christ as a result. Then, I will have accomplished my goal.

That is why I'm passionate. That is why I bellow and rant now and then. I think the church today has forgotten what the main thing Jesus asked for in his High Priestly prayer. May God do a miracle, for that is what it's going to take, to bring us back together into a fully functioning body of Christ.

Until next time....Be one in love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Go To Hell!!!

There are times when my blood boils to over flowing and I want to tell all Christian theologians, pastors, philosophers and faux Christian experts to go to hell!! I don't know if I'll post this or not, but let me tell you. I'm really, really pissed.

Oh...Richard....Christians don't say that word! Christians don't get angry.

THE HELL THEY DON'T!!! This is one who is angry right now.

I just read some blogs of some Frank Viola fans along with other blogs from Catholic to Reformed, from free church to liturgical leaders. From Scot Mcknight to Fr. Thomas Hopko, Orthodox priest. Ana Baptist or wanna be Ana Baptists, (misspelled on purpose) to Reformed Lutherans including one my favorites, Michael Spenser the Internet Monk.

All I read are "everybody is wrong from the first century on, and our group/theology/view of church/the body are the only ones that are/is correct. Rome went wrong with Ignatius so we kick them out of heaven. The reformers were wrong because they carried on the tradition of Rome. The new evangelicals are wrong because they have abandoned the liturgy.

A pox on you all. Not one word of how we can unite under Christ Jesus. Hell, even the liberals who try to make church look like the latest theatre production are more honest than most of our so called worship leaders. At least they admit they want to look like the world to bring in the world. Let me tell you a little secret sports fans, I've seen all this garbage in one form or the other for the last 65 years. There's nothing new under the sun and all this "new" stuff is just rehashed self worship of some kind or another.

Where is Jesus in all this. Sometimes I just want to leave Christianity and throw excrement on it but there's no need because the smell of today's church is sometimes worse than the excrement. I'm sick and tired of a Christianity that doesn't have teeth, a Christianity that is anemic when an honest question comes from a non believer. If they ask at all. Christianity is so irrelevant to the world today, it's no wonder nobody listens to us.

How can we be so dad gummed arrogant to assume we know more than those first century writers?? Do we have some secret time machines where our theologians are traveling back to view the ignorant church fathers who somehow screwed up their understanding of the Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew languages. You mean to tell me that when someone said something that was wrong in that first century no one spoke up and said, "I sat at the feet of the apostles and they didn't mean that."? Phooey!! Take all your degrees and bury them. I think ya'll are nuts.

And don't get me going on the worship wars of "how I can't worship" unless we sing in my tradition. (spit) Or even worse, right wing vs. left wing political nonsense in the church.

Harummph!!! O.K. I've ticked off enough of you to win the Outcast award of the month. I'll just go kick around a few boxes, punch a few holes in the wall, sit in my corner with steam coming out of my ears and pout. Leave me alone, I'll have my pity party by myself. Nobody reads my drivvel anyway.

Maybe someone will appear to me who will look like Jesus. Hmmm, I wonder what THAT will look like. He certainly won't come with the line, "our view is the right view." If he does, I have a size 14 boot that will leave a nasty smear on their backsides.