Looking for Home (Update)


For anyone who has been wanting to read more of the “Looking for Home” story, I’ve added 2 more chapters this week. I’m sorry this has taken longer than I anticipated. But to be honest, some of the memories that are recalled in this story bring back some hard-to-deal-with emotions.

I think I’m through the toughest part now.

Happy reading! ūüôā

A New Commandment


Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in Him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.    1 John 2: 7-11   (NAB)    

Oh no, Tim!! Not this loving your neighbor stuff again, please!!! How many different ways can you say it!?! We get it!!! But do we really? A story about St. John, written in St. Jerome’s commentary on Galatians, tells how he was was carried into the midst of the¬†congregation when he was old and unable to say anything except,”Little children, love one another.” When¬†he was asked why he always spoke these same words, he replied,”Because it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

I think, of all the Gospels, John’s emphasizes love more than the others. God’s love for us, to be sure, but also our love for God, manifested in our love for one another. This can also bring us to ask the question,” Just who is it I’m supposed to love?” The short answer is, of course, everyone, but¬†let’s go more in-depth. Let’s look at the different ways we are to love different groups of people.

Getting the short answer out of the way, we can say to love all people the way God loves them. What would this mean? Well, as John would state in his Gospel, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..” God offers His Son to all, He loves all His creation and the grace He poured out at Calvary is extended to all, in the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this sense, He loves all the same. And yet, there is a deeper love, even than this.

Jesus reveals the love of the Father, “our” Father. This is the love that the Father has for His Son. This is a stronger and much deeper love, than the general love offered at Calvary. For through this love, we are incorporated into the family of God, through baptism, as¬†His adopted sons and daughters. For baptism, identifies us with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection, in which we take up spiritual residence in the heavenly places. Therefore, as adopted sons and daughters, we are loved with an even greater love; a familial love. In other words, I may love my neighbor, but that love is not the same as the love I have for my family.

There is a love that will draw people in, if it is exhibited properly. Is this not¬†what John is describing in the 13th chapter of his gospel,” This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” verse 35? This is the family love of which I’m speaking. If we love one another in the right way, is it not a more powerful witness of our personal relationship with Christ? Wouldn’t that surely bring people to us, for us¬†to give an explanation for the hope within us? Is it not a more powerful testimony for God,¬†for us to be unified before¬†a world of unbelievers? Where is the power of the kingdom on earth? Was it not given to Christ’s body, the Church?

Now, in this type of love, familial love, we understand what St. Paul was writing to the Galatians in chapter 6 verse 10,” So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”

Our love for God should be so great, that it causes all unbelievers to crave, or desire what we have with our heavenly Father. Love. The powerful love of God himself, poured out on us through the Holy Spirit, made pure by the blood of Christ. And that is precisely the love we should show one another, daily.

Let us not quench the Holy Spirit this week, but let Him love all people through us, for His glory and His name sake.

Amen.

The Commandments of Christ


My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. The way we may be sure we know Him is to keep His commandments. Whoever says,” I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with Him: whoever claims to abide in Him ought to live just as He lived.¬†¬† 1 John 2:1-6¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Just as a father would encourage his “children” to do good, so John encourages his community not to sin against God. But¬† if we do sin, he adds, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. Meaning¬†, that we should do everything in our personal¬†power, not to sin against God. Of course, we can not do this in our own natural¬†strength, we must rely on the Holy Spirit for His supernatural strength (our will in full cooperation with His will). But it is a mindset, a decision to do what pleases my Father, over what pleases me. I should make my prayer everyday, live my life everyday, committed to not letting God down. Not to grieve Him with my sinning.

We may be sure we know Him by keeping His commandments. This is a tough teaching. “Hasn’t Christ set us free?”, ” We are under grace, not the law!” Freedom without rules is chaos. God is not chaos. God is the God of order and structure. We see that in creation, in nature itself. We see it within ourselves, created in His image, in our desire to live life in an orderly fashion. The commandments of Christ, are a natural by product of¬† an orderly and structured God, to lead His people into full communion with Himself. And also with our fellow man.

Our response to these commands, are the fruit that we bear. Our obedience to God is His love perfected in us. Disparity in our everyday lives and the commandments of Christ, is evidence that we do not  know Him.

Let us all make this our prayer this week: “to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual worship.” (Rom.12:1)

Amen.

God is Light


Now this is the message that we heard from Him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say,”We have fellowship with Him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say,”We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just¬†and will¬†forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say,”We have not sinned,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 John 1:5-10¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† (NAB)

The message is simple, isn’t it? “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”Light in this context should be understood as complete and absolute truth and goodness. Darkness then, should¬†be understood as complete and absolute untruth and depravity (Jn. 3:19-21).

John explains that to walk in the darkness (untruth) is to not walk in the light (truth). We must walk in truth to have fellowship with God and with each other. This means we can not live in a lifestyle of sin. We can not make excuses for it, defend it or sweep it under the rug, hoping it will go away. It must be confronted! We must repent!

The more we understand our relationship with our heavenly Father, the more we will understand that sin is more than just breaking rules, it’s breaking relationships. First, it breaks our relationship with God and it also breaks our relationships with each other.

Jesus came into the world to restore our broken relationships. First with God, and secondly with each other. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, His answer was, a 1a and 1b answer; love God and love your neighbor. He reconciles us to the Father, to become one body in Himself! Jesus teaches us that it is of utmost importance to do both. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, this is what John is saying here. This is the truth.

In a previous study, What is truth,¬† I found a very good definition of truth in the dictionary, it said; Reality; actuality. So God is not only the truth¬† He is the reality! Making Jesus’ life our reality, that is living faith! That’s walking in truth, that’s walking in the light.

So let’s show God how much we love Him, by showing love for our neighbors also.

Amen.

The Word of life


The purpose of John writing this letter was to combat false ideas about Christ, and to increase the awareness of Christian communities in spiritual and social matters. There was mis-teaching and false teaching going on, much like today, and John wants to warn members of his community that there are indeed ways to tell who is a true follower of Christ and who is not. Much like the book of James, John is insistent that true belief and good works are inseparable and that error in one, affects the other.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life- for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us- what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.  1 John 1: 1-4    (NAB)  

John gives us the perfect starting point in searching/discovering truth; the beginning! As he was with Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, so he wants us to be, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

Though similar with his gospel intro, the emphasis is not on the preexsistent Eternal Word, but the apostles’ personal witness to the “Word made flesh.” 12 times in these four verses, John uses the words,”we”, “our”or, “us”. The seeing, hearing and touching the Word of life, makes it possible for them to testify to it.

 Likewise, the acceptance of their testimony, brings not only fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also the with the community of Faith, so that you too may have fellowship with us.

As Paul would write to the Ephesians;  I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:  one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.    Eph. 4:1-6 

Oneness in unity, that’s the essense of the Trinity. That’s also what we are called to.

Amen.

Next up….


A study through the first letter of John.

Book ’em, Dano!


Besides the Bob Dylan cd, my family (and friends) gave me some great books this Christmas. I thought I would share them with you.

Catholic and Christian by Alan Schreck:It was written in 1984 but is an excellent resource to help explain misunderstood Catholic beliefs. He( Mr. Schreck) was (and may still be) an associate professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

A Father Who Keeps His Promises; Hail,Holy Queen; First Comes Love by Scott Hahn:Written in 1998,2001 and 2002. Dr. Hahn is a convert to Catholocism from the pulpit of the Presbyterian tradition. He is also a professor of theology and scripture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also the Founder and President of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. I have also read his conversion story, Rome Sweet Home, written with his wife Kimberly. At this time I’ve read Hail, Holy Queen and I’m half-way through First Comes Love. A Father Who Keeps His Promises is about God’s Covenant love in Scripture. Hail, Holy Queen is about the Mother of God in the Word of God, and First Comes Love is about finding your family in the Church and the Trinity.

The last two I received, I found myself, at a little flea market in south Alabama while visiting my father.

Life Is Worth Living: First and Second Series; Lift Up Your Heart by Fulton J. Sheen.He’s a bit deep but he is able to¬†simplify and make sense of the heavier doctrines. These were written in 1955 and 1952.

Just thought I’d share this with everyone. Happy reading and God bless!