Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Emailing God

Not attending church on Sundays (or Saturday evenings if your church has that option) is like always emailing someone, but never meeting them in person (like in the movie "You've Got Mail". When asked why they don't attend weekend church services, many people say, "Oh, we pray at home." Or "I don't need to go to church (or to be a member of a church); my faith is just between me and God (or me and Jesus)."
  When we gather to pray with others, Jesus said He will be with us. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. Matthew 18:20.
  St. Paul says in Hebrews: We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another;... (10:25)
  Reading the New Testament shows us that Jesus came to establish a church, not just individual people with a personal relationship with Jesus.
I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church,... Matthew 16:18. Also, Matt 18:17, Acts 2:47, Acts 5:11, Acts 8:1, Acts 8:3, Acts 11:26, etc., etc.  The church is "a congregation gathered for public divine worship", not each individual just praying by themselves.
  For those who have the Eucharist at their church services (the real body and blood of Jesus), gathering together to celebrate the Eucharist is a real flesh and blood meeting with Jesus, rather than just a spiritual one. For those who have commemorative Communion services, the Presence of the Lord is still just spiritual, but with a much deeper presence than a person would experience by themselves.
  Another reason to attend church with others on Sundays is that God commanded us to "Keep holy the Sabbath day." (Exodus 20:8)  This is not just a church rule or a suggestion, but a commandment given by God. Jesus said: If you want to enter (eternal) life, obey the commandments." Matthew 19:17.
  We will all stand before God one day and be judged according to how we lived our lives on earth. (Matthew 25:31)  Even if we are saved, our behavior will still be judged. If you were to die today, how do you think God judge you?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Guarding Our Fortress

"A strong city have we: he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us." Isaiah 26:1b

Whatever you see, whatever you hear, whatever you read, becomes a part of you. Our minds are like the hard drive of a computer and there is no delete button. Protect the fortress of your mind. Be discerning about what you allow to enter it. Ask God to strengthen you when you are tempted to see, hear or read something that may cause you to sin or not become the good person you were meant to be.
  God's Word says:
  Finally, my brothers, your thoughts should be wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On Disciplining Children

Disciplining children is like putting braces on their teeth. It's easier to deal with straightening the teeth when they are young and pliable than to deal with deformed teeth as an adult.

Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Do Opposites Attract?

Regarding the romantic relationships between men and women, the old saying was that "opposites attract."  But current online dating sites or services, especially eHarmony,  seem to focus on similarities between a man and a woman. So which is better for choosing a lifetime mate?
  I think that when you are looking for a friend, you tend to be drawn to a person similar to yourself but when looking for a person to marry, you tend to be most attracted to your opposite. In my experience I have noticed that most people marry a person different than themselves. For instance: day people tend to marry night people; people who are always hot seem to marry someone who is always cold; extroverts tend to marry introverts; the loud, outgoing person tends to marry a quieter, more easygoing person. Think about your own marriage, those in your family and couples you know or have met during your life. Don't you find that to be true?
  So if similarities help to insure compatibility in marriage, why do people tend to choose those with opposite characteristics? Doesn't that almost insure a stormy relationship? I think one of the answers may be that being married to someone with opposite personalities forces us to grow as a person.
  We are all born selfish and self-centered. If we are disciplined and nurtured properly as children, we learn to come out of ourselves and think about others. I think marrying our opposite helps us to continue that journey into adulthood. We learn to compromise since we have to make mutual decisions. We all begin by thinking our way is the "right", the best or only way. Marriage to our opposite helps us to appreciate the God-given differences in people; that individual differences all make up the whole; that God made people different, with different gifts and talents, to accomplish different tasks. One is not right or wrong, just different.
  To conclude, I think that this is one reason divorce is so pervasive in Western society. Many of us have stopped growing and maturing. We are still stuck in the self-centered stage of childhood. We are attracted to and fall in love with our opposite and then shortly afterward (when the glow of being newlyweds wears off) begin to try to get our spouse to be like us!
  The answer is to learn to truly love your opposite. To appreciate their gifts and talents. To learn from them; to give, to change, to compromise. To bear with their faults as you would like them to bear with yours. To think of them, their needs and desires as well as your own. To desire their happiness. That's the secret to a happy marriage.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Love Is Not Enough

My youngest grandchild is almost three years old. It has been pure joy being with him and enjoying his growth and development. But recently he has begun to be defiant, saying "No" and ignoring the requests of his parents and grandparents. It's not all joy now to care for him. Often he needs to be disciplined.
  He is a much-loved only child, also the only grandchild of his other grandparents. His mother and father love each other very much and have made a lovely home for him to grow up in. He wants for nothing. His parents are loving to him, but he is not spoiled.
  So where does the rebellion come from? What does he need to rebel against? The answer lies in our human weakness; our inherent rebelliousness and self-centeredness. The Bible says, All men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  And this is why loving our children and grandchildren is not enough--they need discipline as well. And not just talking with them or trying to reason with them (children are not reasonable nor are they mature enough to be reasonable). They need consequences applied by a loving adult--negative experiences that occur as a result of their bad behavior to help them make the right choices. Parents and grandparents need to love a child enough to discipline them; just as God disciplines us. God's Word says:
  At the time it is administered, all discipline seems a cause for grief and not for joy, but later it brings forth the fruit of peace and justice to those who are trained in its school. Hebrews 12:11
  Scripture also says: Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. (Proverbs 22:6)  If we put in the time and effort it takes to discipline our children and grandchildren now we will reap the reward of well-balanced, responsible adults when they are grown.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Fingerprints of God

The heavens declare the glory of God,
  and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
  and night to night imparts knowledge;
Not a word nor a discourse
  whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
  and to the ends of the world, their message.
                              Psalm 19:1-5

God is not silent. He speaks to us in many ways. One of the most obvious ways is through the beauty, variety, and intricacies of nature.
  Look at the stars, the moon, the sun, the other planets; the vastness of the universe beyond which man cannot see.
  How many varieties of trees are there in the world? An online Reference website states: "The exact number of tree species in the world is undetermined because only a small percentage of plant or animal species have been discovered and classified."
  How many varieties of fruits are there? The exact number is not known. It's estimated that there are approximately 400,000 types of flowers in the world; and 10,000 species of birds. But these are only scientific estimates; no one knows the exact number.
  Each and every part of the natural world--trees, flowers, fruits, plants, birds, insects, etc.--point to a Creator beyond our human ability to comprehend.
  I like calendars and purchase several each year to post in various rooms of my home. I always choose a few with pictures of nature especially birds, flowers and butterflies. When I look at each picture, I marvel at the intricacy and variety of God's design. Perhaps you would like to do the same. Or perhaps you prefer to view nature shows or online videos. It's a great reminder of who God is.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Exercise Your Spirit As Well As Your Body

Many people are into exercising a keeping fit. Some are even obsessed with it. Keeping our bodies physically fit is a good thing. God wants us to take care of our bodies so we will not be prone to illness or injury. Sickness and injury can detract us from doing God's will.
  But focusing on keeping our bodies healthy without devoting at least as much time to our spiritual lives is not a good thing. Actually, the spiritual life is much more important than the physical life.
  St. Paul says: Athletes deny themselves all sorts of things. They do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:25. So we should devote just as much time and effort to exercising our spiritual lives as an athlete does in training for a race. The Finish Line of our race is Heaven.
  We will all get old. Our bodies will weaken and deteriorate no matter how much we exercise, eat well, take supplements, etc. But our spiritual lives only grow stronger with time if we spend time nurturing them. That is definitely the better investment of our time and energy.