Single And Christian

August 1, 2014

I was 30 years old when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. With that decision came the desire to change my life as I was weary of the relentless dating and the non-committal relationships. The reality of the situation was that I wanted to be married. Period. I was ready – or so I thought – and I sat down to wait for what I reasoned would be a relatively short process. I just knew that all I had to do was to pray and God would bless me with Mr. Right in an instantaneous manner.

That was in March 1984 and I was married in November 2001 at the age of 48. Clearly the fulfillment of my prayer was not immediate and initially I was unable to fathom what caused the delay.

In the early days of my walk with God, I was under the mistaken assumption that other Christians, particularly those who were married, would render emotional support. That, however, was not the case as I oftentimes heard the worn out refrain “How do you know that the Lord wants you to be married?” One particular person said “Why would you want to bother Him with that? Don’t you realize that the world is going to end soon?” And on and on they droned. Obviously discouragement set in but it was through those experiences that I learned the wisdom of restraint. Not everyone can nor should be afforded the privilege to know the longings of your soul or the Savior’s plan for your life.

There are a multitude of books on the Christian market that deal with single hood and the prospect of marriage for those who wish to meet their mate. Thankfully some of the advice was based on common sense such as the maintenance of personal hygiene, a change of style, and freedom from debt. That was all well and good. Others authors suggested a closet full of new lingerie, flowers about the house, and a place setting at my dining room table for my soon to be beloved. Though I speculated that the goal of those persons was to bring hope and healing on a sensitive issue, admittedly I regarded their pointers as fantasy counsel.

As one who waited over 17 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise, I will readily attest to the fact that there is no set formula nor does the Lord necessarily adhere to popular strategies such as “10 Ways To Meet Your Mate.” What ultimately brought my desire to pass was my decision to trust my Savior with every facet of my life. Psalm 37:4 states “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I also sought to be holy and to live in a manner which exemplified His Word. He had already freed me from the enslavement of sexual sin and I had no wish to return to that which displeased Him.

In the summer of 1993 – six years before I met my husband – another single friend and myself comprised a list of the qualities that we expected from our future mates. One which I held onto for a long while focused on my mandate for a professional man. I had no inclination at all to consider anyone with less education and a lower social ranking than mine.

I had noticed my husband at church and spoke to him for the first time on May 9, 1999. I was affected by his conversation for it was more than apparent that he was indeed a Godly man. Dismay set in when I subsequently learned of his non-college status and work position. As I mulled over this one morning, I distinctly heard the Lord say to me “You may have more education than Austin but he is way ahead of you in character.” I repented before God and embraced Austin’s friendship which led to a relationship and then marriage on November 3, 2001.

To say that God is faithful is not a cliche. When we prioritize His presence and commit to His Word, we can expect a fulfillment of His covenant blessings.

The Abuse of Grace

June 11, 2014

To say that the grace message has been abused is an understatement at best. Though the original intent was to show God’s willingness to forgive our sins, it has instead parlayed into a teaching which eliminates our responsibility to live Godly lives.

My spirit grieves as I witness those who, though they profess Catholicism/Christianity, render the Lord to an eunuch status. They’re comfortable in their efforts as they adjust His Word to adapt to society’s norms as well as their own wishes and desires. Gone is the fear of God or the concept of holiness as they readily describe themselves as “a work in progress.”

As humans, all of us are subject to temptation and frailties. It is also true that none of us have yet arrived at the pinnacle of God’s knowledge. However, we do have an obligation, once we accept Jesus as Savior, to pursue that which pleases Him. We’re told in Romans 6:1-2 “What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?”

Simply put, the gift of grace does not permit us to live in purposeful opposition to the Lord or His Word. A decision to persevere in compromise is deception and bears its own spiritual consequences.

The Route To Eternal Life

May 9, 2014

A popular teaching of today, which is generally referred to as Universalism, purports that a relationship with our Savior is not a prerequisite for eternal life as all will be welcomed into heaven by a merciful God.

The Lord states in John 6:40 “This is indeed the will of my Father that all who see the Son and believe in Him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Quite simply, eternal life does not exist apart from Jesus Christ. He is not just “one of the ways to God”, nor should He be relegated to a place in the line of the “great masters.” Our Savior is Lord…period. The issue is whether you believe Him or opt not to.

The Necessity For Evangelization

April 16, 2014

I live in Bronx County, and almost every morning as I race to catch the subway at the East 233rd Street Station, I see the Jehovah Witnesses both near the outside entry and the turnstile as they proselytize to the masses. To them, Jesus has been relegated to a divine spirit creature, still they are successful in their efforts to win souls and enlarge their flock.

As Catholics, we need to become passionate about the Lord and speak His truth to the individuals whom we encounter. In doing so, it would be required that we become familiar with God’s Word. To hand out artifacts is a nice gesture, but knowledge of the Bible is a necessity particularly when those from various cults, in their own endeavor for converts, present a maligned interpretation in what appears to be a definitive manner. Each day we lose people to false concepts of Jesus, yet we burrow ourselves in comfort and rationalize that priests and preachers have been called for that assignment. In essence, we have ceased to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom.

Immediately before His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus, in Mark 16:15, instructed His disciples “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” The Catholic Church has always accepted this challenge and since 2012, the New Evangelization has been a primary focus. Though the methods vary, His message has not wavered.

Our Eternal State

March 4, 2014

When a person dies, or the anniversary of their death is commemorated in the newspaper and social media, it is commonplace to hear or see various phrases “rest in peace…happy anniversary in heaven…watch over us…” and so forth. The assumption is made that the decedent is in heaven and while we miss them, he or she is now in a better place.

Contrary to popular belief, heaven is not an automatic destination for the departed nor does our Catholicism alone provide a ticket for immediate entry. Instead, the one mandate that holds true for each one of us is whether we have confessed Jesus as Lord and live our lives according to His purpose.

Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3: “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.” He went on to say in verses 16 and 17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

Despite God’s directive, I’ve heard individuals say “Well, I don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven…I’m a good person…there were other prophets in addition to Jesus and they also spoke the truth…God is too loving to condemn me to hell…hell doesn’t even exist…well, i’ll get it right with God when I’m old.”

I read a story a number of years ago where a group of teenagers walked into a church during an evening service. An altar call was given and when one of the young men stepped forward to give his life to Christ, his friend loudly whispered “Sissy!” The young man returned to his seat and as the minister approached him, he said “You keep praying for me and I’ll think about it.” At that point, he and the other teens began to laugh as they exited the church. Not long afterwards, a car attempted to go over the railroad crossing and was destroyed by an oncoming train. Each occupant of the car was killed all of whom were the young boys that had left the church minutes earlier.

A few weeks ago, my husband went to a wake for a family member. He knew that the decedent had lived apart from God and it troubled him to hear the minister laughingly announce that she and all creation would be welcomed into heaven by a loving God…no matter what. My husband remarked to me “Unless she accepted the Lord as Savior before she died, the prayers and accolades are for naught.”

As Catholics, we need to realize that adherence to our traditions without a personal relationship with Christ means nothing. The Lord created each one of us to enjoy eternal life and fellowship with Him. However, the choice to accept His gift rests completely on us.

Christ My Healer

February 27, 2014

An unfortunate teaching that is rampant amongst the churches, is the fallacy that the Lord’s miracles, such as healing, ended upon the death of the apostles. To say that would render the Bible to just another historical narrative.

God’s Word is replete with promises that pertain to our healing whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. In Exodus 15:26, He told the Israelites “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord, and do what is right in His sight and give heed to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians for I am the Lord who heals you.” In Jeremiah 30:17, He said “For I will restore health to you and your wounds I will heal…” We are assured in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our inequities, upon Him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His bruises we are healed.” This is repeated in 1 Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.”

Admittedly, I tend to become annoyed when I hear individuals claim “Well, Jesus doesn’t heal everyone…. It’s not His will…” If those statements were true, then all four Books of the Gospel would have reflected the Lord’s refusal to heal those who approached Him. Thankfully, that did not occur. Failure to trust in God, however, is a deterrence for in Mark 6:5, it is recorded that “And He could do no deed of power there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and cured them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.”

In 2006, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Though he went through the process recommended by his doctor, we stood fast on various healing scriptures and believed that the Lord would fulfill that which He had promised in His Word. He was soon declared cancer free and eight years later, we continue to praise God for the manifestation of His power.

The Power Of Our Words

February 21, 2014

Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:21).

Our words are powerful and can alter the very course of our destiny. We can use them to either pronounce God’s promises or to wreak havoc in our lives. Spiritual laws are set into motion by the words that we choose. In James 3:10 we are told “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”

For many years, my verbal dialogue was filled with standard phrases “…that just killed me…I thought I would die…he/she makes me sick…” And on and on it went. I thank God to this day that a sister in Christ informed me that I would possess exactly that which I confessed whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. Jesus exemplified this in Mark 11:23. when He said to His disciples “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you.”

With those verses I realized that I would have to change my vocabulary as well as friends whom I had allowed to speak into my life. It was futile to have a Godly confession and then agree with those whose choice of phrases ran contrary to His Word and thus His plan for my life. It was a process but one that was well worth the effort.

Our State at Communion

February 21, 2014

With little exception, the majority of individuals who attend Mass, also partake of Communion. For many of us, it is a joyful and sacred celebration to feast at the Lord’s table. We eat His bread and drink His cup as we proclaim His death until He comes again. Sadly, I’ve also had occasion to witness those that while they engage in this Sacrament, do so in a purely ritualistic approach without thought to His sacrifice or the knowledge that they are required to first examine themselves.

I will never hesitate to use myself as a personal example since for many years I lived apart from God and had nil familiarity with His Word. And yet during that period I did not refrain from Communion. I bore an attitude of impudence as I considered that to be my right as a Catholic regardless of my spiritual condition. Yet according to 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the Bread and drink the Cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment;” Though I consistently approached His table in an ambience of carelessness and sin, I am so grateful that it was His mercy which allowed me to grasp the impact of those verses before the call of judgment.

The next time that we are invited to the Supper of the Lamb, it is imperative that we…as Catholics…as Christians…heed the Lord’s Word and examine ourselves. Communion is His gift but to continue to participate in an unworthy manner can bring damnation to our souls.

In Defense Of Catholicism – Part II

February 14, 2014

This is a continuation of yesterday’s topic.

Anti-Catholicism remains prevalent today. I’ve had numerous instances where individuals, once they knew that Jesus was Lord of my life, would excitedly ask “What church do you attend?” And upon my reply “I’m Catholic.” I would hear the one-word tone of dismay “Oh.”

I was a new Christian when a friend shared an article which castigated the Catholic Church for its adherence to certain traditions. As I read it, she remarked that the Episcopalians, to which her husband once belonged, were guilty of the same offense. When I asked why the article only included Catholicism, I was chastised for not having “…an open mind.”

A number of Christian shops, and some that are situated within non-denominational fellowships contain books that liken the Catholic Church to the whore of Babylon and other atrocities. There is also a publishing company that equates Catholicism to a cult and excoriates the Church in its popular comic strip tract. Moreover, it is not uncommon to hear attacks against our Faith in the public square by preachers and other members of the community.

With unabashed joy, I will readily attest to the fact that I love the Catholic Church. It is not perfect but I must say that in my 60 years I have yet to find one that is. Still, it has never wavered from its foundational truth nor has it altered the Word of God to fit societal standards. It is comprised of those who fervently seek Him and acknowledge Him as Lord.

In Defense Of Catholicism

February 13, 2014

My initial exposure to anti-Catholicism occurred 30 years ago which was shortly after I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life. At the suggestion of a friend, I visited her small non-denominational church in Nassau County – the congregants professed love but one of the members, when he heard I was Catholic, readily informed me that I was involved with the devil’s doctrine. To prove his point, it was during my next visit that, with the permission of the pastor, the testimony he gave to the church solely focused on his release from demonic Catholicism. And so the attacks continued – not just there but in several other venues.

To be Catholic is not a disease. Contrary to the belief of those outside the Church, we are not the anti-Christ. We are also not the personification of evil, nor do we claim to have all the answers. We hold to the Word of God as true and we know that a personal relationship with Him is vital if we wish to inherit the Kingdom and reign with Him for eternity. The tenets of our Faith uphold morality and life to a Catholic, in all forms, is sanctified. Indeed, we are a people who sincerely love our Lord and worship Him as Savior.