Categories
Christian living Scripture

It is enough

Today I read a passage in Luke’s Gospel that was interesting in light of present circumstances. People are worried about the political future of the world, we have had a year of corona virus fears, and today I am snowed in due to winter storm Uri. Because of all of this, there is a growing number of Preppers, who are trying to be prepared for future disasters.

In Luke 21:35-38, Jesus is attempting to prep his disciples for His upcoming arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Let’s go through this passage a piece at a time.

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

Luke 21:35

Jesus begins by reminding them about when He sent His disciples out to preach, and He instructed them to not take with them any of the things one would need when traveling. They were to be completely dependent on God to meet all of their needs. This shows us that God is certainly able to meet all of our needs, but they could only count on such miraculous provision because Jesus specifically commanded them to not provide for themselves.

He said to them, “But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

Luke 21:36-37

Jesus is going to be treated as a criminal, and so will his followers. Jesus is telling them that they need to be prepared with provisions and means to defend themselves. While it is true that God has the power to supernaturally defend them, it is not usually His plan to do so overtly. God usually wants us to do our part, and He supports us in more of an invisible way. This behavior of God is referred to as Divine Providence. I have never seen a spectacular miracle in my life, but I have seen Divine Providence at work throughout my life, working in such a way that unbelievers might describe as “lucky.” It is certainly not because of my brilliant planning, even though I try.

These verses support the idea that Christians should make some kind of preparation for difficult times in the future. We should not presume that God will provide for our needs if we refuse to do anything ourselves.

And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Luke 21:38

When I read these words this morning, I was struck by the impossibility of the disciples knowing what was going to happen in the hours, days, and years to come, including Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and the beginnings of the Church. We don’t know what to expect in our future either, and we cannot adequately prepare for it. It is easy to get obsessed or overwhelmed when contemplating these things, so we must always seek God’s direction and His help. I believe He will call each of us to be prepared in our own way, and He will use our meager preparations in his plans, often in ways we never expected.

There are preparations that we know will always be beneficial no matter what happens. Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of God, and all of the things we needed will be added (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, we should all seek God, repent of our sins, develop our prayer life, and build up the local church community.

I will close with a line from the 1970s Christian rocker Keith Green, who was a big influence on me in my early days as a Christian believer. “Just keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest.”

Categories
Scripture

Telegram #3

In Luke 21, Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, and then the scope of his prophecy moves to global proportions with “men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (vv 26-27). While the world is filled with fear, what does Jesus say his followers should do? “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v 28). I don’t know when the end will come, but the troubles we see are signs that it is drawing near. We should not be filled with fear and foreboding, but we must look up in expectation that victory of Christ is nearing.

Categories
Culture Politics Scripture

Telegram Post #2

“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors” (Psalm 119 [118]:23-24). Many Christians are dismayed that government and cultural powers are growing more anti-Christian, but this is nothing new for the people of God. The answer is to be immersed in God’s Word and being conformed to his truth. His kingdom is not of this world, and neither should our hope be in this world.

Categories
Culture Politics Scripture

Telegram Post #1

I have been exploring alternative social media technologies, and one that interests me is Telegram. I decided to start a Telegram channel, Catholic in a Hostile World. If you are using Telegram or want to give it a try, check out my channel. If you don’t want to get into Telegram, you don’t have to because I will be reposting most of my posts here. Telegram is more conducive to smaller posts, so I plan to post shorter but more numerous posts there. I will link to this blog for longer posts.

Here is my first post, setting the tone for the channel.

Jesus said, “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21-22). Although it is good for Christians to want to influence the culture and see the laws of our nation conform to the law that God has revealed, we should not be surprised when the world violently opposes us. Western civilization has moved from the Christendom of the Middle Ages to an anti-Christian secularism of modernity. For a while, we thought we could get along by compromise, but we are seeing that the anti-Christians are not interested in compromise. Therefore, we must bravely stand firm and proclaim the truth, putting our hope in the promises of God that His kingdom will endure forever.

Categories
Politics Theology

People are Complicated

One reason I made my last post about our spiritual adversaries is to deal with the fact that so many people today are demonizing their political opponents. The spiritual beings made their decision for or against God a long time ago, and their decisions are fixed. That is why we can categorize them as angels and demons. This, however, is not the case with humans in this present life. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has a great quote about this.

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either–but right through every human heart–and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.

The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Humans develop and grow in this life, not only physically and mentally, but also morally and spiritually. We develop a sense of right and wrong, which is called our conscience. Every day we make many decisions that have a moral consequence. Sometimes we follow our conscience and do what we think is the right thing, and sometimes we violate our conscience and do what we think is wrong, usually justifying it with some rationalization. These choices affect who we become, and as we move through life, we are a work in progress. It is not until the end of our life that our ultimate choice is made to either embrace God and goodness forever, or to reject Him forever. Until that happens, we are all a mixture of good and evil of varying proportions. Therefore, if we try to divide humanity into the good guys and the bad guys, we will get into trouble. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

This doesn’t mean that we don’t judge the words and deeds of people as either good or bad. Crimes and lies are bad regardless of who the perpetrator is. The judging that Jesus prohibits is summing up a person as ultimately good or evil because we humans do not know the totality of the person or what he will ultimately become.

It is common now in the United States to divide people according to left and right, and to label one group as good and the other as evil. This can be a problem when dealing with individuals because good and evil exist in both groups, and some people are difficult to put into one of the two groups. Even in the realm of ideas, one cannot always say that a particular idea is necessarily left or right. I primarily identify with the right, and I am very concerned with many of the ideas I hear coming out of the left, but the way I prefer to look at it is that I am a follower of Christ, and I am opposed to ideologies that will drag people away from his salvation. That’s why I wrote in my earlier post that the real enemy is spiritual. We must remember that our enemy is loyal to neither the left or the right. He hates all of us. He will happily provoke the bad elements on one side to do something that plays into the plans on the other side as long as evil advances on all sides. Therefore, we must be careful to not defend bad actions or condemn good actions no matter who does them.

Categories
Theology

The Real Enemy

St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (6:12 RSV2CE) The Bible tells us that there are multitudes of spiritual beings that were created by God before man was created. Although most of them are loyal to God and help us, about a third of them rebelled against God. These demons, led by Satan, hate the human race because we are loved by God. They want to destroy us, and they ultimately do that to some of us by drawing us away from God to an eternity in hell. Note that they do not accomplish their goals if they merely kill us and we end up in eternal happiness with God in heaven.

The power of these beings is limited by God. They cannot do anything without God’s permission, and they are usually not allowed to directly touch us, but that protection from God can be forfeited by those who reach out to dark powers through witchcraft and the occult. The usual way the demons attack us is through lies. They can introduce deceptive and untrue thoughts into our heads. We can choose to reject those thoughts, but if we let them take hold, they can lead us into a downward spiral of sin.

Not only do these forces of darkness tempt individuals to draw them away from God, they also try to influence human history to establish structures in the world that will have a corrupting influence on us. I suspect that many of the times people think they see global conspiracies, what they may be seeing instead is coordinated efforts of demonic activity across the world, influencing various people to act in ways that work together for evil ends.

Because of God’s limits on their power, and the resistance of good and holy men and women, their plans do not always come to fruition. Even when they are able to bring about great evil, God is able to turn it into a greater good. This is illustrated most clearly in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the ultimate evil that brought about the salvation of the human race.

Because faithful Christians live in the power of the Cross, we have nothing to fear from these demons if we cling to God’s mercy. Nevertheless, it is good to know that they are at work. Indeed, I think we are entering a time when their operations will be even more manifest to those who have eyes to see. It is good to keep in mind that they are the real enemy. Men and women that may oppose us, although they bear responsibility for their actions, are also victims of the deceptions of the real enemy. This is why Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We never know the power of prayer, but it could lead to very unexpected changes. We should never give up on the most seemingly corrupted person. As long as they still have breath, the powerful grace of God can bring them to repentance. Pray without ceasing!

Edit 1/24/21: Add image.

Categories
Theology

Alternate Realities

There is growing division in our country, and many people have their theories on why that is. I believe an important reason for this division is two fundamentally different views of reality. I do not usually use the political language of left versus right. That division is related to what I am about to propose, but I think the real division goes much deeper than politics.

The first version of reality is what I will call the heavenly reality. It sees God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Everything exists according to his design and purpose. Everything in the universe has its place, and the universe is full of meaning. Men and women need to seek to know God and how he intends for them to live so that they can be in harmony with their creator, each other, and the world around them. When there is a conflict between the will of a person and God’s created order, the person needs to submit their will to God and conform to his ways.

The second version of reality is what I will the earthly reality. It does not acknowledge God in any meaningful sense beyond a possible psychological construct that must remain a private affair of the individual. It recognizes no creator and no meaning in the universe. Men and women decide their own meaning for their lives, and if there is any conflict between their will and the natural order, they alter the natural order to fit their will.

By the way, Christianity, in addition to affirming the heavenly reality, also acknowledges that man has failed to follow God’s ways and is need of redemption. In Jesus Christ, God reaches down and becomes one of us to restore us to friendship with him and enable us to live according to his ways.

As Christianity spread through what became Christendom, the heavenly reality became the accepted view, even among those who rebelled against it. However, in modern times, many think scientific progress confirms the earthly view, and they hold tightly to it because they believe it gives them freedom to live however they like, not realizing it actually makes them slaves to their own restless desires. This so-called freedom is actually licentiousness.

The earthly minded come into conflict with the heavenly minded because the heavenly view of justice would place some restrictions on the licentiousness they hold dear. A common point of conflict is in the area of sexuality. The heavenly reality has a particular role for sex within the family because sex is the way through which God creates children who are made in his image, so sex is a very holy thing. These children deserve to grow up in a stable, permanent, loving family, so the sexual act that conceives them should only take place between the man and woman who will be the parents in such a family, and those parents must be bound together for life in marriage. This view of sexuality excludes fornication, adultery, and sodomy as violations of the divine order. However, the earthly minded want to engage in sex with whomever they want whenever they want. The fact that a baby may result from this activity is dealt with through abortion. This is why so-called abortion rights are sacred to them.

This conflict was already growing before Donald Trump became President of the United States, and it will continue to grow until it reaches a breaking point. If the heavenly reality is true, at some point either the earthly minded will convert, or God will intervene. It is because God is merciful that he gives us time to repent. I actually think the that earthly view will gain such prominence that the folly of it will become clear and many will repent. If enough people repent and turn to God, he will not have to intervene in an extreme way.

Edit 1/24/21: Add image.

Categories
Blog

Veritas in Texas

I’ve finally settled on a name for this blog. Veritas is the Latin word for “truth”, and truth has always been a challenge to find, but it is especially the case now. People are using words to manipulate and condemn with little regard to their truth.

Truth has long been important to me. It was the search for truth that led me from atheism to Christianity, and then on to Catholicism. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” I am convinced that what is more important than who is running the government is that Christians continue to speak the truth that God has given us, no matter what the prevailing culture says. There has been a steady movement in the United States since the 1960s to remove Christianity from the public arena, and most Christians, including myself, have yielded to this partly out of a sense of fair play. However, now it is clear to me that the other side is not interested in fair play, but wants to obliterate the Christian presence in our country.

I am determined to not be silenced, so I wish to use this blog to keep speaking the truth. I will not use the tactics of the enemy. I will not use deception, exaggeration, and misrepresentation to make my side look better and win a temporary victory. Instead, I desire to engage people in respectful rational argument, recognizing that we are all finite, fallen human beings. None of us has complete possession of the truth, so we can actually learn from our adversary sometimes. I will follow the charge of St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians and speak the truth in love the best that I am able to do, trying to convince the person that disagrees with me, but also listening to him because God may use that person to correct me where I am mistaken.

Therefore, I invite the reader that disagrees with me to express themselves respectfully in the comments, and let’s engage in a discussion. The fact that it seems like everyone out there is yelling and maligning each other doesn’t mean that we have to do that here. I live in Texas, and the name of our state derives from the Caddo word for “friend”. So may we seek the truth together as friends, and may we be set free from the tyranny of lies by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Categories
Politics

Thoughts on leaving Facebook

I have wanted to leave Facebook for a while, and I did at one point, only to come back after a short time because it was the best way for me to keep up with family and friends. My objective at the time had nothing to do with national politics, but I objected to how Facebook manipulated the content I was trying to access and fed my data to advertisers. I often got frustrated with how their manipulation affected usability. I would see something on my news feed that looked interesting, but when I went back at a later time, I could not find it because Facebook had decided I should see different things now. I have played with the MeWe social media platform a little bit. Rather than being advertisement based, they are subscription based, and using it has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel like I’m wrestling with an algorithm to get to my content. The material I subscribe to is presented in a straight-forward chronological manner that is the same every time I go back to it. Also, there are no creepy ads that appear to be reading my mind because it is subscription based rather than supported by ads. If I’m going to do social media at all, I would rather pay $5/month than deal with those ads and manipulations.

For a while, I preferred Twitter to Facebook because Twitter gave me a straightforward feed of the posts of everyone I was following, and advertisements were non-targeted. Sadly, they decided to follow Facebook’s lead. They now manipulate the feed and have increased advertising, making it more intrusive. At the same time, I saw much of the conversation there becoming more viscous and non-productive, and it was too much of a distraction, so I decided to drop it a few months ago.

The tipping point for me to finally and irrevocably leave Facebook was their censorship of the President of the United States. I always thought this was a danger with a huge, monolithic social network like Facebook, and for a while there have been accusations of their political bias, but this act was a blatant disregard for the importance of freedom of speech. I know that as a private company, Facebook is not required by law to protect speech, but as primary communications platforms, Twitter and Facebook greatly affect the direction of discourse in our country and in much of the rest of the world. By silencing particular points of view, they open the door to tyranny. World leaders in Australia, France, Germany, Russia, and Poland have spoken out against this act. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is no conservative Trump fan, is mounting a campaign against social media bans. I believe this issue is bigger than whether or not you are a “Trump supporter.”

Edit 1/24/21: Add image.

Categories
Scripture

God’s response

I began a meditation on Psalm 2 in my last post, where we saw a rebellion against God by the powerful people of the world. Now I want to finish the psalm by looking at God’s response.

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

Psalm 2:4-6 (RSV2CE)

We can get so worried when we see powerful people changing institutions and trying to erase our Christian heritage so that they can achieve what they think is freedom from accountability to God. As we can see here, God is not worried, and his answer is that he has established a king.

At the time this psalm was written, the king was David or one of his descendants reigning over God’s chosen people in Jerusalem, but Christians from the beginning of the faith saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this psalm, especially because of this next part.

I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Psalm 2:7-9 (RSV2CE)

Although we should vote and try to choose the best leaders for our government, that is not where our hope lies. The United States and all of the nations belong to Jesus Christ, and he will ultimately bring justice by destroying the forces of evil. This last part is what we need to be doing.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling rejoice, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:10-12 (RSV2CE)

Serve the Lord with your lives. Seek his wisdom in his Word. Do not be afraid of what you may hear in the news, but take refuge in the Lord and be blessed.