Christianity, faith

Evangelically Catholic

I’ve been a Roman Catholic since 1999 in the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese. And I truly love the Church. I will admit, I don’t always agree with some of the doctrines, small things. Like unmarried priests (Peter the first Pope was married) or the no-remarriage without first getting approval from the marriage tribunal. But the doctrines that pertain to my walk with Christ I fully support. But this article is not about those subjects.

Before finding the beauty of my Catholic faith, I was Evangelical. And over the past few years, I have come to realize that there are things from the Protestant system that have a beauty and biblical standing that I still love. I’m not going to debate what Vatican II got wrong in implementation. Because to be honest, Vatican II (as many traditionalists claim) ins’t the problem. The over liberal way it has been implemented is.

The reason that Popes from Vatican II until now get so much vehemence from traditionalists is because of there understanding that there is beauty in some of the way that Protestants worship and believe. And I have been struggling to find a way to merge my love of the fullness of the Catholic doctrine (the oldest there is) and the beauty and biblical standing of some of the Protestant doctrines.

I will say this first and foremost, Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is not a thing. Yes, when tradition is used improperly or forced over scripture, it  can cause major issues. But one has to remember, Jesus and the Apostles were Jewish and followed that tradition. They held the feasts and followed the law (using the spirit of it more than the letter of it). And in doing so, show us that tradition, when done within the spirit of that tradition, bring us closer to God.

That being said, there are areas that all denominations fail to understand the fullness of the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. With Protestants, it is the fullness of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ’s real presence in the Holy Eucharist (John 6:54-57). Or that things like asking the Saints for aid (just like asking your Grandmother to pray for you) and understanding the Jewish mindset of the prominence of a mother and Queen Mother being the reason that we believe and love the Blessed Virgin so dearly (read the Jewish Roots of Mary). BUT, Catholics also fail in recognizing the beauty of scripture and the life of Christ and the Apostles that for the basis of Evangelical belief (1st Corinthians 12:8-11; Book of Acts).

I have seen the movement and the power of the coming on of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost for you Evangelicals). I have seen the healing power of the laying on of hands and prayer. I believe in the speaking in tongues (1st Corinthians 14). However, most of the time it done without proper scriptural following (1st Corinthians 14:27-28).

I spoke to a wonderful man that has a Christian Catholic ministry, based in Australia, that I have followed since this year’s Lenten season. Bruce Downes is a man that, although Catholic, sees the faith of Christ much like myself. I asked a question to his ministry about the ability to merge my Catholic devotion to my Evangelical background. We spoke for about a half hour or so and when that conversation was over, my Spirit had been lifted and I finally felt a peace.

The Holy Spirit worked through him that day to make me understand the beauty of grace and power of the Holy Spirit in a way I hadn’t before. I will always defend the fullness of faith that comes from the Apostolic Seat of Peter. I also will defend the signs following that show the power and grace of God that has formed the basis of the Evangelical belief. From that moment of speaking with Mr. Downes and feeling the grace of God lighten my spirit I have come to understand more about the beauty of God in more areas of my relationship with Christ.

I do suggest that all Protestant read the Church Fathers and Doctors as well as the Catholic Catechism. It will help you understand why we believe what we do in the fullness of faith. But I also suggest that Catholics start looking more at Scripture to see the fullness of the faith in all its beauty that has become the hallmark of the Evangelical believers. Here is an article by Bishop Barron that wrote that explains Pope Francis’s understanding of the beauty of both (https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/pope-francis-and-the-evangelicals-1300).

I also suggest getting the daily devotionals by Bruce Downes. He presents the beauty of the Christian faith in a way that combines all of the faith. Here is his link (https://brucedownes.org/).

May God keep all of you in his graces and we’ll meet when we get upstairs.

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Christianity, faith

THE DEVIL EXISTS, SIN IS REAL, AND HELL IS HOT

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul (Ezekiel 3:18-21).

This message will result in mostly hate mail and condemnation. Not only from society as a whole, but from the Body of Christ as it is today. I work with social media and writing to put forth the word of God as is the commission of every believer to do. And as I look around our nation and the globe, I see the church losing souls. Even its own. We, as a society have come to the point spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20). And the reason we have reached this point in the global society is failure and compromise for those that call themselves Christian. But by their words and actions, this is in name only.

The whole reason behind the CRUCIFIXION was and is the need for REDEMPTION through CHRIST JESUS. For the wages of SIN is DEATH; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). This is the part of the Gospel message that has been lost. Those claiming to be the children of the Most High and redeemed through the blood of Jesus, preach and teach that God loves everyone and only judges the heart. And yes, God does love everyone. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17). 

Sin is real. No matter what people think, it exists. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8).We see homosexuality and transgenderism in the pulpit. Both of these are an abomination (SIN) to God. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet ( Romans 1:24-27).

The Holy Scriptures say what type of activity is a way to hell. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1: 28-32). You shall not permit a sorceress to live (Exodus 22:18). Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am theLordyour God (Leviticus 19:31). And other actions.

These are the three things the Devil (Satan, Lucifer) has made men believe. That he doesn’t exist. God won’t send people to a lasting death. And nothing is sin. So let us break these into verse points.

The Devil does exist. WRONG. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

There is no eternal death. WRONG. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Revelation 20:14).

There is no sin. WRONG.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:8-9).

The real problem with this whole scenario is that it are preachers, teachers, and the amen pew sitters. They try, now, to be friends with the world so they are not accused of hating people. They speak blasphemy so that they can fill the churches and coffers and receive pats on the back. And most of all, make sure that those of the world no longer hate them. But Christ told us what true believers would go through. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you (John 15:18).But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up againsttheirparents, and cause them to be put to death.And ye shall be hated of allmenfor my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:19).

And he also said he wasn’t here to bring peace.Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.And a man’s foesshall bethey of his own household.He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:32-39).

And even though we have Christ as our Savior, we are not so perfect that we don’t need to still hit an altar or our knees and seek forgiveness. We are only different because we have already been saved by grace. But now the church is leading people away from understanding the need for grace. The need for salvation through the blood stained cross of Christ.

It is time to start speaking loud to the world. THE DEVIL IS REAL, HELL IS REAL, SIN IS REAL, AND THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO BE SAVED FROM THE SECOND DEATH IN HELL.

The message we are to give is that Christ died to cover the sins of all that seek Him and the salvation He offers. His is the only way to God and eternal life in heaven. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved. And in no other is the great salvation to be found; for, in fact, there is no second name under Heaven that has been given among men through which we are to be saved (Acts 4:12).Remember this, if nothing else. For those of us that have the saving grace of Christ, a sinner is going to die in his sin if there is no going to Christ. So the question we need to ask ourselves is this. Are we willing for their blood to be on our hands because we either didn’t say anything or we twisted scripture and lied to them.

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Christianity, faith

But For Grace, There Go I

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans 12:16).

Today, the pastor did a switch of sermon. I don’t know if he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so or if he had seen something from one congregants that caused it. But it was a message that was needed. Not just today, not just our church. But by the body of Christ globally.

You see churches like Westboro Baptist, evangelical churches, and others today forgetting that they were sinners at one point. They seem to have forgotten that they had a calling to kneel at the altar rail and ask for forgiveness. That they are still not worthy of grace but are given that grace because of the love of God through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Somewhere along the line, they forgot about hating the sin and loving the sinner. Members of the church as a whole have gotten to a point where they condemn a person instead of simply explaining sin and redemption through the shed blood of Christ. Or like my grandmother would have said in her sweet southern/midwestern mixed Ozarks voice, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

The passage for his message was Matthew 20: 1-16. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

He reminded us that, like the ones who had worked all day, those that have been in the faith for a long time, tend to forget that the redemption of Christ’s blood covers everybody who asks. He reminded us that it has the same exact value for those that came to that altar 50 years ago as well as those that hit the altar yesterday or have yet to hit it. He could have just as easily used the verse of the Pharisee and the sinner. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Having spoke with him after service, I told him that switching a message to one that calls the faithful to account is very seldom welcomed. The Pharisees had grown so pompous, that they ran their Messiah ragged and eventually to the Cross because of their inflated self-worth. Many Christians today have that same self inflation. But this pastor had an inspiration to remind them that their time in God’s service doesn’t equate for more love than new Christians or even those who yet have the calling to come to the Savior.

After his message, he did something I have never seen a pastor do in the 51 years I have been alive and the 40 plus years I have been going to services. He went and knelt at the altar while the final hymn was sung. I found it amazing that even a pastor realized he still isn’t perfect. Many congregants in all denominations need to see his example and remember the old adage, ‘but for the grace of God, there go I’.

I understand that this may not seem like much to most. But seeing how the pulpits have become compromised and even desecrated by soft wording and no fire by the pastors, a person doesn’t need to look hard to see why our neighborhoods, towns, nations, and world are in the position that they are in.

This pastor doesn’t preach with the flair or flame of men like Billy Sunday or Billy Graham. But he speaks with the humility and humbleness of a saint. He allows the words to be like arrows of the Holy Spirit. May this man’s ministry be blessed and a blessing, calling even the saved to repentance. Because no matter how long ago you knelt at that altar, tears of regret flowing down your cheeks, and asked for Christ to be the master of your life, we all still need repentance and the renewing of Christ’s saving grace.

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