Christianity, faith

From the Darkness

I needed some time to contemplate my life and faith. I was raised with protestant parents, saved in a protestant church but became Roman Catholic in the last year of the 20th century. Since then, there have been times when I have stepped from the church to get air so to speak. But this was different.

Catholics, and maybe protestants as well, have a period known as the dark night of the soul. My definition and tradition, this is where one thinks God has stepped from your life and you seek Him in earnestness. The fall of 2021 was mine.

I had gotten back into my faith fully in the last couple of years after issues that affected me and ended the family unit I had known for 20 years. At that time, the stress had caused my health to falter and my spirit to cry out. For the first time since being a Catholic, I hit my knees, wept, and prayed. It led me into my Catholic Christian faith unlike before.

But for some reason, this fall had played havoc within my mind and spirit and I needed to refresh, think, and clear the cobwebs. So, while not leaving my faith, I stepped away from the building that had become my church home. I had only planned on it being about a month. What it led to was something I had not really expected.

What it led me to, instead of free wheeling life and secular enjoyment, was deeper. It led me to deeper scriptural study. Instead of just one translation, I started using multiple including translations like the King James, New American, and New International. But it also included the Stone edition Tanach and the Douay-Rheims. In the mix of these, I started finding new influence and messages that hit my spirit and mind. It called me to self examination. This then led to a deeper prayer life. And to deeper study.

For all of this time, I had attended a Methodist church with a couple of my children and found that, like the Catholic faith, believed not in only a bread and juice remembrance of the last supper of Christ and His apostles, but in the beautiful truth of the words of Christ himself when He spoke “This is My body…and this is My blood”.

This self imposed sabbatical and longing search went beyond the month I had expected and lasted until the 3rd week of Dec this year. A former priest had passed and I went to his viewing, out of the respect that I had for him. As I stepped into the first parish I ever attended, and my Catholic home for most of my time in the faith, the noise and chaos faded away. There is that sanctuary, among the scent of the decades of incense and visuals of the life of Christ and the saints, that small still voice came. Not like a voice or whisper, but something more distant yet comforting. Only 2 words, “you’re home”.

This, the 4th Sunday of Advent, I returned to the little parish I had stepped out of months ago. As I sat there, taking in the visuals of Advent and the liturgical music and homily, I found myself with an inner peace that I had not had in awhile. Like someone who had left home and traveled the world, only to return to the place he was raised, I had indeed come home. That type of peace can only truly be found in a home.

During my 50 plus years I have been protestant and Catholic, Christian and pagan. During my walks outside of the faith of Christ, the pagan pantheons never answered, spoke, or given me any divine inspiration. And of my 25 years as a Christian, first as a protestant Christian and now as Roman Catholic Christian, this is the first encounter with that small still voice.

While the pagan pantheons are once again raising their heads, and yes infighting between Christians and the Pope himself having and promoting heretical ideas, have I seen for myself that one light and hope in this world of darkness. An old country tradition is to leave a candle lit in a window to guide home those that wander off from the homestead. Mine was the only light brighter than a million suns. When others have dimmed and gone out, this light will shine for an eternity.

The revelation of the Apocalypse witness and recorded by St. John on Patmos said that the Light of God will be so bright in Heaven and the new Jerusalem that there will be no need of a physical sun. That is the light that leads me, that calls me, and the comforts me.

What I thought was to be only a few weeks brought me back at a perfect time for a new beginning. What a better place and time to start a new and refreshed path than at a little cave hewn out as a place of birth for beginning of our Salvation. To behold the One that created the whole of everything and yet started His human life the way we all do.

May God the Father always guide you, bring you unto Himself through Christ the Lord, endow you with the Holy Spirit in wisdom and guidance, and comfort you on your journey through this temporary landscape of life.

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Christianity, faith

The Commandments: No Other Gods

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” Exodus 20:3

This verse starts what are known as the 10 commandments of God. Given to Moses on Mt. Sinai after being brought out  of Egyptian captivity and going across the Red Sea. But what is the meaning of this verse? Many believe it says that only God Jehovah is the only god. But as you go down through history, there are three types of gods that can be seen in this quote.

The definition of a god is simply something a person worships. There are three classifications to this: spiritual gods, men who are seen as gods, and inanimate objects. All three will be discussed and to show why the GOD of the Abrahamic faiths is the one that is the one true God.

Spiritual Gods

Spiritual gods in this article are referring to the multitude of pantheon gods of bygone cultures and civilizations. I will not say that this entities had no abilities. The bible proves they did at some point. After all, the bible tells us in Exodus that the priests (magicians) of the the Pharaoh could perform certain things like Moses and Aaron. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 7:8-13)

The actions of Aaron’s ‘serpent’ show that God Jehovah was superior. Later, when it was time for the Israelites to leave God used some of the Egyptian gods to plague the Egyptians and proved He alone was almighty. (http://www.stat.rice.edu/~dobelman/Dinotech/10_Eqyptian_gods_10_Plagues.pdf) Look through Exodus 7:1-12:36 and study the hyperlinked pdf.

Then we move to areas like Babylon. Where there gods were put to the test. So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel.And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it.And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down.Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,”and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs[a] of seed.And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time.And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (1 Kings 18:20-40)

As we move through the points of history, the gods and goddesses of every pantheon have fallen. From Medo-Persian and Roman of the ancient world to Celtic, Viking/German, African, and Meso-American. In the end, all of these pantheons fell to the Judeo-Christian God. And were left buried in antiquity until modern times. Now these pantheons are making a comeback. But like then, they will again fall.

Here’s where these false gods came from. They created nothing. They can’t save the soul of their believer. And they must bow down and forfeit to the one true God because they came from him. They are nothing more than the fallen that sided with Lucifer against the Creator himself. Because of lust of self and power, Lucifer and one third of the angels were cast from heaven. Where did they go? Here. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15). Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:7-9). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Men who place themselves as gods

Throughout man’s history, there are men who have placed themselves as god on earth. Pharaoh was believed to be the sun god Ra walking on earth. In more modern times, people like Jim Jones and David Koresh have led followers to their deaths with these claims. Most of these are demigods of man’s making. Take how people flocked and followed to Donald Trump over the last few years. They have been blinded by his words and emotional influence. Much like men throughout history: Julius Caesar, Adolph Hitler, and quite a few television evangelists/prosperity preachers (such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland). But one seems to be set above all others. The Pope of Roman Catholicism. Over his reign, the pope has commanded countries who bowed, armies who fought (inquisitions and crusades), and placed himself as god on earth.

The Catholic church believes they have the ability to forgive sin, According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” confession involves either “venial” (minor sins) which are confessed to God and “mortal” (major sins) which must be confessed through a priest. This means the priest (or above) acts as mediator between man and God. But we are told in Scripture that not understanding that Jesus was God in flesh (John 1:1-14) they made the statement Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Luke 5:21). The Catholic also tends to forget that there is only one mediator between man and God, and the priest is not it.For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

In Pope Leo XIII’s 1885 Encyclical ‘The Reunion of Christendom’ he states, “the pope holds upon this earth the place of Almighty God”. His title is, besides Pope and Bishop of Rome, is Vicarious Filii Dei ‘Vicar (replacement or agent) of God on Earth’. So, by the Church’s own admission, the seat of the papacy is the thrown of a man that is seen as a god. The power and influence of the papacy have grown majorly, especially since the Francis became Pope. We see the spiritual and political influence this man has throughout the world.

Inanimate objects

Everything else that can be worshiped falls within this category. Money, power, and position are the main points of this category. This are tangibles that man seeks for. Now, these things may be needed (try buying groceries without financial ability or having a business operate without a person in the lead). BUT when the desire for these become the main component of one’s life and ambition, that is when they become a god to that person. For these things when they reach that level of importance, mankind has killed, cheated, lied, warred, and stolen to get them. They have taken precedents over his soul and his compassion for his fellowman.

Conclusion

There is one reason that the first commandment is what it is. With all of these categories of false gods, we need reminded that there is only one God over all. He is the Creator of all things. He is the spoken word that became flesh in Jesus the Christ. HE IS GOD ALONE. Because we fell for the great satan, the liar and deceiver, the once great Lucifer, we need to be reminded who our Father really is.

Take a moment and ask the Father, the one true God to help you always remember who He is and to have the strength through him to turn away from these false gods. We all need that repentance and forgiveness. As an earthly parent may chastise his children, he will also have their back when they need him. How much greater will the Father that created all protect His children. As time draws near to the end of all things and the return of Christ the King, please remember who the true God is, and seek His protection and salvation.

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