Lighthouse September 22, 2020
How do you make decisions? We have
been looking at a couple different mental filters one might operate
out of in making decisions: majority opinion, polls, lesser of two
evils, natural law (how was something created to function). Today I
would like to get down to making a decision, well thought out on
one's own. This can work for any decision making although I always
suggest one begins with prayer that one is not fooling oneself. A
common way is to just list the pros and cons in different columns.
The problem there is one might think the greater number wins. Not
only are we capable of stacking the deck, we also know that every
reason does not have equal value, just as every issue does not. So,
what I like to suggest, if one were looking at political parties for
example, is, take the known issues. What does the candidate, or party
say it stands for and what does the record show. So, list the issues.
Immigration, environment, gun control, medical reform,
infra-structure, economy, abortion, religious rights and education,
family life and equal rights and so on. Now, looking at the
Constitution how does the issue affirm: life, liberty, pursuit of
happiness (religious freedom). Is there any issue that must pre-exist
all the others? Is there any issue without which none of the others
would matter? If so, you might say that is a non-negotiable value.
Look at the other issues and ask yourself if there is room for
debate, room for give and take. Then, use the Olympic model: on a
scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, how earth-shattering is this
particular issue right now for the country? For example you might
say the economy is reasonably well so you give it a 5. You might see
immigration is in serious need of reform to bring greater justice and
give it a 7. Then as you look down your list and you see several
issues are a 7 or 8 you might ask if one party addresses all those
in the way you want. If one party is really strong on one of them
and the other party strong on your other issue, you again ask if they
are of equal value. You might recognize your heart pulling for one
or the other and acknowledge that. Then finally one has to ask, are
any of these issues non-negotiable values without which your other
strong inclination could not exist. In staying focused on the more
important there will always be another day to address the other
concerns. Are you on your knees yet? It sometimes takes a lot of
Lighthouse September 15, 2020
How do you make decisions? We've looked at 'lesser of two evils' and 'what is everyone else doing' and today I would like to consider something similar. No man is an island. No one lives in a vacuum. We can't help but seek or know what others think. Is it okay to seek what others think? Certainly. There is a difference between seeking truth and seeking what is 'politically correct'. Hopefully we all have trusted advisers, people who are in the know. We need to seek the news in media and print. In doing so though, we need to know what filters, what biases they use. Yes, every news organization has a bias, and so do we. Sometimes we want to endorse that bias. Like, are they truly 'pro-life'? Sometimes it helps to read or listen to a representative of news which might have biases on opposite sides and, yes, sometimes CNN and FOX tend to be on opposite sides. In doing all this we come to a point where we can vote 'our conscience'. What is that conscience? It means 'con' = 'with' and 'science' = 'knowledge'. You notice it means we have to investigate 'what is the truth'. In this process we have to be careful we are not just responding to 'majority opinion' or to 'the best presentation of a poster-child'. It is so easy to buy into something that really appeals to the emotions, the feelings, the heart. It is important to listen to the heart but we have to be careful, recognizing how the heart can be easily misled. How many young, and not so young, people are captivated in person or in social media, thinking someone loves them. Oh my, that really gets the juices flowing. If you examine many movies you can easily see how producers use the appeal to the heart to lead the public to their way of thinking. For example, I think of one of the first movies where I was aware of this was 'Dr. Zhivago'. In this the handsome doctor, Omar Sharif, is facing tough times with Russia's involvement in a war. There are few resources at home and seemingly little love there. When the poor doctor gets drafted he ends up escaping to a family get-away in the country with a lovely lady with whom he has a tryst, and subsequently an illegitimate child. The audience is drawn to have empathy for his indiscretion. This movie was followed up by another where the gentleman seemingly loves his wife but has to put her in a nursing home at an early age. Now the poor guy is out in the world alone and just needs someone to console him. You get the picture. The movie industry has experts who know how to move the heart towards something you would normally call 'wrong!'. Others, like, Hallmark might do the same thing in moving the heart but normally to a positive value. So, I guess the word today is: Go with your conscience; but make sure your conscience is fully formed by the truth.
Lighthouse September 1, 2020
HOW DO YOU MAKE DECISIONS? Last week we looked at the reality that many people simply bow to 'what is the majority in favor of?' we certainly realize the danger of that, or least recognize that we are not making a decision at all. Another form of decision making I would like us to ponder on is what we call 'lesser of two evils.' Life is about making choices, choices between things, we are told to compare apples with apples; choices between people for friends, business, or that unique permanent relationship of spouse. We choose one hospital, one business over another often based on the word of others. Most of the time these kinds of choices are between one good over another. We want the best. We marry the greatest person on earth burning all other bridges as they say. Then there are those times in life when we are faced with 'the lesser of two evils.' for example, last night when I was on highway H between Van Buren and Piedmont I saw a doe crossing the road; then, all of a sudden there was a fawn trying to catch momma. Do you run off the road and do great damage to the car as well as hurting yourself or do you slow down as quickly as possible and hope the critter has time to get across the road? It didn't. Those choices are part of everyday life. Then there is that other area of our human existence, our moral life, which demands we make choices. For a Christian the basic choice should have already been made; God calls it a sin, that settles it. The lesser of two evils is: do I forgo a temporary pleasure which I actually see as a good “help me make it through the night, let the devil take tomorrow for tonight I need a friend.' which was a popular song expressing this temptation, or do I keep God's word and avoid eternal damnation. I was taught that “it is never right to do an evil that good may come of it.” Which is the true 'lesser evil'? How often have I heard people try to rationalize by saying: 'times have changed.' or 'God wouldn't send anyone to hell (All Dogs Go to Heaven) , if there is such a thing (the Shack, quoting God as saying “it takes me a little longer with some'). How often have I heard stories of parents allowing their children to have drinking parties at home, as a lesser of two evils because 'they are going to do it anyway.'? And then, carrying that philosophy over, to allowing children to have sex at home 'because they're going to do it anyway.' or, at the least they provide birth control thus telling the child 'I don't believe you can choose the Gospel anyhow.” I can't help but think of what a sad judgment that is on their child, or, maybe on their own parenting. Rather than continuing to look at life as a choice between evils should we not be challenging ourselves and our loved ones to make choices based on the greater good: what is God's will? 'Unless you take up your cross and follow me you are not worthy of me.” What will give me greater hope for heaven? Today, I would encourage you not to succumb to 'the lesser of two evils' as a way of making your moral choices, for truly, there is nothing which can't be justified by using such reasoning. Seek for the greatest. Seek for God's will in all you do.
Lighthouse August 25, 2020
How do you make decisions? “I don't know, what does every one else want?” becomes a standard line by many who don't want to be on the wrong side of the group. Some listen to what the 'polls' say for the same reason. We figure what everyone else wants must be the right thing. Then, it becomes a question of what maneuvering has this or that poll pulled in order to make the majority reflect what they want. Do you have any real starting points for making a decision? In regards to buying something we might ask: “can I afford it?” or “do I need it? In regards to raising children we might first be asking: “Is it safe? Age appropriate?” For many things we do have ideas of a standard to go by. But, how are we when we are dealing with matters which involve the greater community? Again, when we are looking at the infrastructure we may ask many of the same questions we ask in running our own home. When we look at leadership do we just automatically check off one party? We just finished the primary elections. Where there any value issues we had to consider? As we look to the national elections are we willing to take the time to see not only how the candidate wants to take care of the infrastructure of society but also those issues which define who we are as a people? Am I willing to look at the values they operate out of and see how consistent they are in supporting those values? What values do you have that are non-negotiable? Do you believe there are such things? We live in an interesting time today fulfilling one of scriptures warnings that there would be a time when good would be evil and evil would be good. How has this happened? There is a philosophy which has been embraced for some time now called 'relativism'. With relativism there is a call for socalled tolerance saying 'you have your truth and I have mine.' so, if you truth is based on natural law, that law which is in every human where you ask: 'what is the nature of this action?' for example: since the beginning of time humanity throughout the world has recognized that there is a male and a female in most all creatures. As such all have recognized that the basic nature of this difference is to make a complementarity where male and female come together bringing about the continuance of the species. Some want to say this is arbitrary and that it is up to the individual what should constitute marriage. If your value for that is based on divine revelation, believing that an all-loving God revealed and confirmed this natural law then you are asked to at least tolerate other so called opinions. But, when those who think natural law or revealed truth ought to be other than it is then, if given the chance, try to codify their opinions, making them law and become intolerable to anyone who holds to the original truth. That truth, then becomes recognized as a 'hate crime'. And so it goes, with a number of rights some may have held as non-negotiable. Other, and greater examples would be how some hold to the inviolability of human life recognizing the scientific fact that a new distinct human being begins at conception and therefore ought to have every right any other human being has. This, the taking of innocent life gets rephrased from being pro-life to freedom of choice'. Another right which gets attacked with this new thinking is a re-casting of the inalienable right to 'pursuit of happiness' or freedom to worship as one sees fit. This right, must of necessity be stripped down in order to create other new rights to where those of faith are hate-mongers or racists. One of the dangers Pope Benedict pointed out is that 'relativism provides a sense of being liberated from an accountability to truth.'
He noted that general opinion today holds that "whoever is not a relativist is someone who is intolerant. To think that one can understand the essential truth is already seen as something intolerant." The pope suggests that there is a dilemma regarding doctrine and dialogue: On the one hand, the denial of absolute truth overturns the permanence of Christian doctrine, while on the other, to maintain the certainty of truth often is taken by non-Catholics as intolerance for other religious or worldviews. In other words, the issue for many is one of freedom, and relativism provides a sense of being liberated from an accountability to truth.
Relativism, however, is a weak man's position. Progressives always use "tolerance" to introduce their wrong thinking. Initially, they claim that there is no absolute morality, and that their ideas are as valid as those that have been held for millennia and that are God-given. Eventually, however, as acceptance increases (and more rapidly if they are able to secure the coercive power of the government) they move on to substituting their own supposed "moral code", and enforcing it. At this point "right", such as a woman's "right" to an abortion and homosexuals' "right" to marry suddenly spring forth from nowhere. These newly-discovered rights are based on some notion of "fairness". If you do not agree with their new "moral code", then you are a "hater". Thus in some perverse logical twist Christians who follow the precepts of a loving God who gave us rules in order that we might flourish as His people are suddenly transformed into demons, at least in the eyes of the Left.
Relativists clearly have a notion of right and wrong. Ask them about the racism and genocide of a Hitler or other criminal despot, and they will rail against it. They believe firmly that this sort of behavior should not be allowed, and their promotion of hate speech legislation and their constant overreaction to innocent statements shows that they believe strongly in some standards. The problem is that they have no basis for their standards. They, like all of us, have the natural law written on their hearts, but they can choose to ignore it and substitute their own "morality". So, how does one decide which laws are part of the Natural Law and which are not? Ultimately, one has two sources of information as to which position to believe.
The first source is history and culture. The idea of homosexual marriage, for example, has never existed anywhere, and didn't exist contemporaneously prior to this new "revelation" of the progressives. Marriage has always been understood as being between a man and a woman, and for the purpose of having a family and raising children. Homosexuality has always existed, but the idea of a homosexual couple being "married" is a new aberration.
The other source, of course, is the Bible. We understand the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and it is clear that marriage is a sacred covenant between and man and a woman. A question to ask those who would say that they are atheists and do not believe in God or the Bible is, "OK, you want to replace religious and cultural norms that have existed for thousands of years. What do you want to replace them with? Your opinion? Why would that be more valid?"
Ultimately then, in order to be a progressive one must be an atheist. Without a belief in a moral code that is of divine origin, the progressive cannot logically justify his belief in "fairness", "human rights", or any of the other ideals he claims to espouse. Morality becomes simply a matter of opinion, and all opinions are equally valid. However, that position is untenable because he might get his nose punched, so he must substitute coercion, enforcement of his arbitrary new code, in order that people with varying opinions obey his precepts and become subordinate to his will. He must be in favor of hate speech laws, censorship of writing and the Internet, the "fairness" doctrine, marginalization of those who do not share progressive views, mandatory "sensitivity training", and so forth. Does this sound familiar?
Lighthouse August 18, 2020
Excited? YES! A little scared? YES! We are excited about being able to get on with our schooling, with getting back to some normalcy, with being able to have a little more social interaction with our friends—at this point, even with our non-friends. You and I both know that there has always been risk in being social creatures. While we do take risks we try to make those risks more reasonable as we get older. In the long run we know we can't live in isolation. Very few are true hermits. No man is an island as the line in the 'South Pacific' says. No man stands alone. So, while there may be some risk in our attempts to get together we are exited, trusting the leaders God has given us. Jesus says: “Be not afraid.” Jn. 6:20. Being part of any team, any social organization requires trusting those who are in leadership even when our own sensibilities would say otherwise. Peter may have been afraid of walking on water but he trusted in Jesus' call. If you and I cooperate with those whom we have to lead us knowing that they have to balance many factors: the frailty of individuals, the need for community, the aggressiveness and statistics of the enemy we trust that the greater good will be achieved. Does that mean there will be no suffering, there will always be some suffering in order to achieve any kind of goals in life. Sometimes there is great suffering in exchange for what is determined to be a greater good. Sometimes that suffering is voluntary as a fireman who rushes into a burning building to aid someone else. Sometimes it may be less than voluntary as when one is drafted to overcome a national enemy. Today I think of VJ Day. It was 75 years ago today that the war with Japan was ended. It required many deaths before coming to that point with many battles such as at Guadalcanal and then the Victory over Europe Day which is coming up. It was achieved only by the loss of thousands and thousands of lives in the Normandy Invasion. Life is full of risks and when some pay a greater price in trying to achieve the objective then others need to be aware of their own call to help bear the burden and be there for that person's family. Today, let us move forward and 'not be afraid' knowing by God's Providence there are much greater times ahead again. What is your current fear? Can you bring it before the Lord? Are we learning to pray as a family to embrace God's umbrella over us? Even when we may experience things we do not like let us know that God does love us and is looking over us.
Lighthouse August 4, 2020
I want to share something a little different this week about something I know many of you have questions about: What is the difference between a nun and a sister? This past week I celebrated the anniversary of two Religious sisters who have a combined 121 years in religious life. They have served a total of 63 of those years in our area here. Sr. Rita began Whole Health Outreach 30 years ago in Ellington to offer shelter for abused women and minister to other women's needs. Sr. Rose has worked for that as well as offering counseling in Van Buren, Annapolis, and Piedmont schools. How did it start? Sisters, nuns? At the time of Christ it was almost unheard of to remain single. The greatest desire was that 'your quiver be filled with sons.' With Jesus we hear the words 'some remain eunuchs (unable physically or by commitment to have sex) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.' Mt. 19:12. then as the Christian community began living this out we hear Paul tell Timothy 'let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age.' 1 Tim 5:9. and again to the Corinthians 'are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage.' 1Cor 7:27 Although many sought to be hermits, choosing to live a life of prayer separated from community, it was not until St. Benedict and his twin sister Scholastica around 500 AD that we find men or women groups choosing to live in community with a rule. Under that rule most women would be nuns, making vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and living in a cloister, an enclosure, away from the world, in order to pray. These would be solemn vows, lifetime. In the modern world, the last several hundred years women were more able to minister out in the world but being out in the world they would take temporary vows and then final vows of poverty, chastity and obedience from which they could be more easily dispensed from and return to the secular world if they liked. It was the training of many of these as nurses in Europe that led to over 600 working in the Civil War Battlefields and led Pres. Lincoln to say: “Of all the forms of charity and benevolence seen in the crowded wards of the hospitals, those of some Catholic Sisters were among the most efficient. I never knew whence they came or what was the name of their order. More lovely than anything I have ever seen in art, so long devoted to illustrations of love, mercy, and charity are the pictures that remain of those modest sisters going on their errands of mercy among the suffering and the dying.... They were angels of mercy.” doing for the wounded what so many would not. They had already established 28 hospitals in the US before that war. When the scriptures describe how those who are married naturally have a greater concern for their family while those who are single can more wholeheartedly focus on the kingdom one can see why Sisters have done so much in being able to focus on the needs of a community wherever they are. If you get a chance, tell them 'thanks'. And, perhaps this will give you a chance to ask 'what more is God asking of me?' Does He want you to be a missionary?
Lighthouse July 19, 2020
“If the church were as perfect as you and I would like there would not be room for you or I in it.” Let me repeat. “If the church were as perfect as you and I would like there would not be room for you or I in it.” Bp. Fulton Sheen The church is the one institution on earth where prerequisite to belonging is to be unworthy. Then, we have Pope Francis who reminds us that the church is a field hospital. Jesus reminds us that he came for sinners.
How many of these reminders do we need to help us know that when Jesus gave us the parable of the wheat and the tare in Mt. 13: 24 he was making it abundantly clear that only he could judge, and it would not be until the end of one's life. Unlike the wheat or the tare you and I realize that with our free will we can go from one to the other. We can fail to produce 30, or 60 or 100 fold as we heard in the gospel last week or we can be as the good thief on the cross who repented at the last minute and heard the words of Jesus say 'this day you will be with me in paradise.” This is why the church neither canonizes nor condemns while someone lives. It may, of course, condemn certain actions, such as the supporting of abortion or euthanasia in any way. It may condemn sex outside of marriage but it does not condemn the person. Even excommunication is intended to be a call to return to the mercy of God. Throughout history we have witnessed the wholesale slaughter of other human beings based on a mob response to what the crowd wants; whether it be the witch hunts of different ages; the French Revolution, the English Reformation; the Spanish revolution, the recent Mexican effort to demolish the church or even our own mob led groups in this country today who are seeking to destroy the church and any history of the good some have done through the years. In Jesus' parable of the wheat he clearly admonishes us not to get caught up in trying to destroy others who have different ideological ideas even though they may persecute us. We are called to be like the Father who rains on the just and the unjust alike. Or as described in the book of Wisdom, He is one who is lenient towards all and we, if we are to be just must also be kind in administering justice. I pray that all of us can avoid being caught up in any mob mentality but rather exercise a willingness to dialogue and to seek justice for all. For, which one of us is yet perfect, not me my friend?
Lighthouse June 30, 2020
A great line at the end of the movie, ‘the Mission’, the cardinal, cardinal Altamarano, at the end of the slaughter of a tribe of Indians hears the Portugese Viceroy say ‘such are the way things are.’ And he responds ‘such have we made them.’ If you get a chance, see the movie. It is a summary of about 100 years in Paraguay where the Jesuits had been trying to help stabilize an Indian tribes by helping them work like a co-op called 'reductions' and make a living for themselves. While the church condemned slavery well before Columbus came to America the political powers that be, the Spanish who accepted that ruling, found a way around that teaching of the church by ceding a section of Paraguay to the Portuguese. The Portuguese sought to enslave the Indians while the Jesuits fought those efforts and eventually lost their lives or were expelled. This scene has continued to play out again and again over the last several hundred years any time a religious group tries to help raise the oppressed by helping them to form co-ops. Recently Fr.Stan Rother from Oklahoma was a victim of such in Guatemala. Even though he knew he was on the hit list he told his family that the shepherd cannot run. I was in his room where he was killed and went to his beatification in Oklahoma City. Efforts to raise the poor are often met with violence by the powers that be. Such was also the case of Fr. Junipero Serra whose statues are being destroyed in California where rioters tore down his statues and those of Francis Scott Keye and General Grant who also fought slavery. There is no question that rioters, not necessarily the protesters, revealed their hand. Any cause for protesting is one with which rioters can tag along to destroy the greater enemy, the values of this country. Destruction is simply a tool to create a civil unrest to bring about a change which supports their lack of values. Neither the color of skin nor the blue uniforms is the enemy but rather Judeo-Christian values, the same values which sought to prevail at Sodom and Gomorrah. I pray that those who still see themselves as Christians will face this time of conflict for what it is with real prayer and trust in God, never losing faith in the good of others. St. Paul says ‘hold on to that which is good.’ And if anyone comes to the table with grievances we pray that they truly be listened to and that the powers that be seek ways of raising everyone up to share the common dignity which is given them by God. These times are not new, and we will get through them if we act with love. And what is love but to work for justice. As we have enshrined in our constitution: ‘there are certain inalienable rights given to us by God.’ They do not depend on men as if men have the power or right to take them away but rather are given by God and must be protected for everyone’s sake. Pray for peace. fr.dan
Lighthouse June 23, 2020
Divide and conquer
Jesus tells us that a 'kingdom divided against itself cannot stand' . We know that the Sadducees and the Pharisees were constantly trying to find something to accuse Jesus of. He himself said: “John the Baptist came neither drinking nor eating and they say, 'he has a demon'; the son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Mt. 11:19 From this we realize two basic things. Human beings have always tried to get the upper hand by name calling and false accusations and second, Jesus says pay attention to the deeds. How many of us cannot remember a childhood story where bullies would try to put others down using names, like 'fatty'. How many of us do not remember our history and how names are always used to put the other down, whether it be Chink, Dago, Savage, Niger, Wasp. And the list goes on and on. It is intended to antagonize, dehumanize and somehow make the other seem less than oneself. So you always wanted to be on the right team, right. Transition that now into our modern world and what do we find? Homophobe!, racist!, intolerant!. The other day I heard from a friend that a co-worker was fired because he said 'All lives matter.' when another co-worker said 'Black lives matter.' both are true statements and could be said simply as equals expressing a truthful sharing but now your own job is in danger if you try to enlarge on a truthful dialogue. Now, instead of simply belonging to an easily identifiable group based on looks we try to separate people based on a judgment of their intention, their heart, their conscience. Scripture says not to judge lest you be judged. Mt. 7:11. For example: some will try to say this or that politician is not pro-life because they also use caustic language yet have 100% record for bills having to do with saving the un-born. They will then turn around and say that someone who is 100% pro-abortion up through birth is prolife because they are showing concern for those involved and in trying to help others get more from the government. One would probably be hard-pressed to find anyone in the political arena who is not using judgmental, name-calling language. As with the ability to call someone a 'witch' in Boston a couple centuries could have disastrous consequences so the continued usage of this kind of language can't help but have disastrous consequences for today. If we want peace then we need to be a people who seek true justice. We need to be a people who watch our own dehumanizing language. We need to be a people who critically watch the national language being used and ask ourselves 'to what purpose?' We all have an obligation to judge the rightness or wrongness of an action while we have no right to judge a motive. If a wrong is done, find peaceful ways to bring about justice. As Jesus said 'wisdom is justified by the deeds.' what is the fruit of the action or actions being taken? We all do well to pay close attention in the coming months.
Black lives matter!--- you know you're right, but are you saying that of yourself or because you endorse the proclaimed Marxist ideology of the three lesbian women who crafted the Black lives Matter movement?
Lighthouse June 16, 2020
Can you believe it? Even nature has a conspiracy against us. You just start enjoying some of the shutdown time and all of a sudden the days are getting shorter starting this weekend. Guess what, it happens, like clockwork. Some things you just know are going to be and you automatically adjust. Sometimes there are real surprises though, like the lady who was married for 18 years and really wanted children with no success. Then, all of a sudden she had quadruplets. Overall though, life happens. It is a journey. We prepare the best we can and trust the Lord in all things. There are some who make it a point to always have a year's groceries on hand while many others seem to have nothing set aside. Some are not only getting an emergency check but extra food and then another check to make up for what the children would have saved them by eating at school. Even the handouts become expected. For example the ministerial alliance has a food pantry which is to help those who truly have an emergency. I once got three requests in a row from our pantry with each one saying they hadn't gotten help in the last three months. Which they know is how often we help. Is that an emergency, or a planned emergency. Do you remember Joseph and the multi-color coat. In Genesis 51 He told the pharaoh to set back a portion of the harvest each year because seven years of lean would be coming. In doing so he saved the Egyptians who would have starved when famine came. All of us need to learn how to save something, no matter how little we make. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard where these emergency checks were simply seen as a bonus to be spent on trivialities. Bass Pro talked of how their boat sales really went up during this shutdown time. It may be a good time for all of us to take another look at our values. If we find ourselves buying a bottle of water or soda occasionally, or a pack of cigarettes or candy bars we can afford to save. I remember when I used to smoke, as a college student who didn't have much. I couldn't afford to buy cigarettes by the carton but somehow every day I could buy another pack. Something was wrong with that picture. No matter how little we think God is blessing us with we can give a little back to Him and put a little aside. Just as we witnessed with Egypt and just as we have recently witnessed the frailty of our meat supply we have no guarantee that the food pantry or any other back up resource will always be there. Save something. In doing so you will discover two things. First by giving back to God we discover a greater ability to trust Him day to day. Secondly we discover that we are masters of our future, not victims. May God give you the grace to, as He told Adam in Genesis, have dominion in your life.
Lighthouse May 24, 2020
If there were not a day scheduled for such an event how many of us would take time to reflect on the sacrifices others have made for our well being? When our personal freedoms get threatened then we pay attention but when those freedoms seem to be secured over a period of time we seem to, for some reason, get very involved in our present blessings and forget that the price of freedom is 'eternal vigilance.' sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the enemy is not always from without. As I'm writing this, feast of Christopher Magallanes who was put before a firing squad for his faith, with no trial, I can't help but think of the Christero Movement 'Christo Rey' in Mexico barely 100 years ago when the government used an almost forgotten law to close down all churches and deport any foreign born ministers. How many Christian nations experienced the same thing from within? The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish, the German Third Reich? Christians in those countries all thought they were safe but lost their freedom in a matter of days. Is that happening again as we witness a number of governors trying to close down churches while every other imaginable business is able to operate? Many who gave their lives in the past did so during epidemics because they were fighting for something greater than their own life, the lives and freedom to worship of their loved ones. It is certainly right that we ought to honor those who paid the ultimate price. I also can't help but think of dad who went down in a plane over France but survived, with a life of pain. As a Democracy we each need to recognize not only our responsibility for protecting our country from without but to also pay attention to what goes on in the current time, whenever that is. I pray you take time to remember our fallen brethren and not see such days as simply a bonus three day weekend. I'd like to leave you with a quote from John Adams in 1776 who said: “It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least; it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
Lighthouse May 3, 2020
Oh, I’m out of ?, I think I’ll run over to store and get some; and while I’m at it I think I’ll go over to this and that place and get these other things. And, while I’m out I might as well get my hair done. And the list goes on. Have you had sufficient time now to think of how blessed we are and how many things, how many services we take for granted? When by a single declaration you find yourself limited to where you can go, what you can do, what might be available you can’t help but wonder. How many of us have looked at the simple act of camping and thought nothing about being to go where and when we wanted? Did we realize the last time we said good bye to grandma at the nursing home might be the last time? Did we really ever imagine there would be a time when we couldn’t go to church even when we wanted to? I know for me it has really been a wake-up call. Not that I don’t already give thanks every day for all the blessings that surround me, but that, overnight, as in a Twilight Zone, they were no longer available. It’s not that they don’t exist but that you can’t have access to them. Never could I dream that as a minister I would not be able to go into a nursing home or hospital to visit a member. Never could I imagine that I should not be able to visit members who were home-bound and maybe had very little family to call on. Never, never, could I imagine that I would plan a church service and my people not be able to come. In all of history those who were sick were the ones quarantined. When there is any level of disaster there has always been felt an even greater need to come before God as a community and seek intercession. That all changed, almost overnight. Am I more aware of how much I have taken for granted? You bet. Again and again and again we are re-encouraged to live the present moment. It all sounds good. We think we are doing just that until we realize we have just been living with the idea in the back of our minds that these people I love, these services I depend on, these people I depend on day to day to round out my life and take care of so many things could, indeed all be gone in an instant. Let us not be afraid each day to express our gratitude for each of those people who make our lives so much better. Let us not be afraid to let our loved ones know it each time we can, that we do love them. Let us not cease to come before our God each day and ‘give thanks, for all things.’
Lighthouse March 24, 2020
ALL THINGS WORK TO THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE
Do you really believe that? That's a hard question when you begin to question why everything around you seems to be going wrong. Then each day it hits closer to home as you realize how everything impacts something else in your life. Then I think of the Word of God reminding me that it rains on the just and the unjust. I think of storms and how much I enjoy them and how there needs to be rain if I want to enjoy the rainbow. How can I not believe that something good will really come from our current crisis? I have already begun to see a number of wonderful fruits from it. Families are telling me of how they are working on some projects together. How that helps build up communication and brings them to know each other and the gifts and talents that are there. I hear of how the sheriff is working to make sure people get meals and the positive image that creates concerning law personnel. I think of how the schools are working to help make sure meals are available and how the ministers are personally working together to distribute food this week. I think of the families who are re-discovering the joy and importance of having family time for prayer. It is truly a time to re-focus on what values we hold or want to hold, to recognize how many of those values slipped away from us and what we need to do to again make sure they remain part of our daily life. Discover the joy you have from different experiences and make a commitment to do what is necessary to maintain such. Do we have a family prayer space, family prayer time that takes precedence over any other distraction. Are we rediscovering how personal interaction, yes, even with its sometimes conflicts, is of greater value that most of the false internet community we have surrounded ourselves with. These are the people you would die for, not those out there in the digital world. Although, I would hope that the digital world does open up an awareness of the many needs out there which our families can be a part of solving. God has blessed us with His Spirit and as such has given all of us gifts to be His Light in the darkness which cannot overcome it. St. Paul calls us to give thanks to God for all things, and he means, all things. He was grateful for being blinded in order to see the light. He was thankful for his many beatings, his shipwrecks, for they all gave him the opportunity to give Glory to God. God is good and he will not abandon us. Let us be a part of the good which He wants to bring from this. This too will pass. Will we be stronger for it? Will we be better Christians? Will we be more a compassionate, merciful people? It is a time for growing. Let us discover the gifts He has given us to serve others. To close I would like to share some words of a founding father, John Adams July 3, 1776: “it may be the will of heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies and vices which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals....it will require purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be not blessings..'
Also: any senior citizen who should not get in public is welcome to email me with a list of groceries or bring your list with you and we will have a volunteer at Town and Country from 11:00-12:00 Mon.-Fri. To do your shopping for you and bring the groceries to the car.
Lighthouse February 18, 2020
The choice is yours. Do you ever really think about it? You get to make an eternal decision. Of course, if you share in bringing a new individual into the world that is another being who will live forever and ever. But, in regards to yourself, you get to choose where you will spend eternity. It is not just a matter of whether you will exist forever, but where you will spend it. How often I hear people question the wisdom of God saying 'how could He allow such and such to happen?' from the very beginning of His creation of human beings He allowed something to happen which He would not allow Himself to have direct control over, another rational being. He gave humans the right, the freedom to chose whether they would spend eternity with Him or not. Again, in Sirach we hear 'before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.' And, when Jesus comes he extends that choice not just in terms of doing right or wrong but why. Do we do it out of love of God and neighbor. He tells us that it is not just enough to refrain from killing our neighbor if internally that is what we really want to do. I mean, why would you ultimately want to spend eternity with God if you don't share His values. Really! If God created sex to be so beautiful as to reflect His relationship as Trinity, a total self giving, why would someone try to use it in any way which did not reflect that? That is why Jesus would go on to say ' anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery.' Anyone who looks at pornography and fantasizes about it has already proven he doesn't want to use this tremendous gift as a reflection of the love of the Trinity. Truly Jesus calls us to go beyond the external keeping of the commandments. One could go their whole life having kept the commandments and yet be a narcissist, self-centered, unable to care about the needs of others. All the commandments are meant more like the boundaries of a ball field. They are warning signs, when broken, that one has gone outside of the game. As Christians, you and I are called to stay actively in the game and grow in our ability to love as Christ loves us. So, yes, the choice is ours. Each day, each action, tells God whether we love others as He does or whether we are wrapped up in ourselves. Do our actions, and our thought reflect a love of the other, or not. To the extent it does tells the all-loving God whether or not we want to be in the game with Him forever.
Lighthouse February 11, 2020
I try, I try, to be positive in these articles but then once in a while something screams for attention that convicts us all. Recently, after the Super Bowl, someone suggested that I take a look at the half-time entertainment. 10 seconds was more than enough. I thought to myself ‘we
just finished Human Trafficking Awareness Month and here millions of Americans are being given a heavy dose of burlesque’. Either we are fooling ourselves about wanting to overcome sex trafficking or we have grown numb to some of its causes. If you were watching the half-time show that far outdid Janet Jackson’s wardrobe failure of a few years ago and found yourself smiling inside at what you saw, you are part of the problem. To begin with football, as great a sport as it is, is a testosterone driven sport. For years the Super Bowl, as with other large crowd events drawing particularly men, has been targeted for extremely high rates of sex trafficking and subsequent arrests. Watching entertainment which by the colors chosen, the wardrobe, the body language, the music which is all driven to heighten this testosterone is nothing short of contributing to the commodification of women, and girls. Rather than contribute to the admiration of women for their beauty, their talent it turns them clearly in to sex objects. I can’t help but wonder, how many men would really appreciate seeing their daughter on that stage and then let them take a walk out into the neighborhood alone with those outfits on? Granted there has long been a male readiness to blame girls who got in trouble while wearing skimpy or suggestive clothing. That has never justified anyone taking advantage of them. But for a major, supposedly family oriented, sports event to deliberately choreograph a show intending to appeal to the weakness of lust in our society seeking to outdo previous years events only demonstrates all the more that we are not serious about eradicating sex-trafficking. If you enjoyed such entertainment do not be surprised when your own daughter disappears into the night to be abused, tortured and become a sex slave. If she does I pray she will be saved but there will be irreparable harm. I pray. You may value every woman as your daughter, your sister. If so, and if you truly enjoy the sport and not such half-time entertainment I pray you will be a voice in making the industry bring about changes so drastically needed. Until then, expect to see an ongoing increase in used, abused, and discarded girls. And women.! If you too enjoy seeing your men enthralled by such shows I feel sorry for you for you too are nothing more than an object in his eyes. May we all have the common sense to look at what we do, at what we support, and ask ourselves if that is really the kind of values we want for ourselves, for our children, and for our country.
Lighthouse January 27, 2020
January 22, 1973 will eventually go down as the most infamous day in American history. Why do I say that? The attack on Ft. Sumter was the beginning of 620,000 deaths in America. Some died to protect the right to own slaves. Some died for the freedom of all. Beyond that there have been 644,000 who have died in all other American conflicts involving the freedom of ourselves and others. That is one and a quarter million Americans fighting for freedom. There was ten times that number of innocent people killed in the Holocaust, some 6 million. Now, multiply that number by 10 and you begin to realize how great our own crime is in killing 60+ million innocent people through abortion. Science is getting more and more clear, as if that's needed, about the undeniable reality that each human life begins at fertilization. Americans have historically shown tremendous willingness to sacrifice life as soldiers, as policemen, as individual heroes in order to save a single human life. How much more does this threat against life demand that heroism from us? This week I will be on the 47th Annual National March for Life in Washington DC with a number of others from this area. It is always a sacrifice for them to make this kind of witness but they ask for your prayers for safety and for success as they look forward to a day when the word 'abortion' will not even be heard. If you have ever had an interest in helping the unborn I encourage you to first of all pray. Support some Pro-life organization, whether it be those fighting abortion or those helping with unplanned pregnancies like Birthright. Participate in giving witness. There will be a pro-life march in Jefferson City on Feb. 1 and an annual Pro-life lobby day in Jefferson City on March 10. Having participated in many of these 47 years I know progress is being made. When I jailed for helping to close the abortion clinic in Cape Girardeau I knew it would be a long battle but I still can't help but pray I will see total success during my lifetime. When we pray to God asking Him to endow people to come up with solutions to the environmental problem; to cancer and other diseases; to world peace I can't help but hear Him say “I sent you 60 million people, each with an unrepeatable gift to contribute to the welbeing of mankind. Where are they at.” it reminds you of the story of the woman whose house was being threatened by a flood. As the waters got to her door a rescue squad came and told her they would take her to a safe shelter. She said 'no' God would help her. As the waters got to the second floor a boat came by and offered to take her to safety and she said 'no' God would help her. Finally a helicopter came and they cut a hole in her roof and she still refused, saying 'God would help.' when she died and went before the Lord she said: 'where were You?' and God simply reminded her of how many times He tried to help through others. Those being aborted are those He has sent to help us.
Lighthouse Jan. 6, 2020
Wow! This Sunday many churches celebrated what we call 'Epiphany', 'the revealing' or 'manifestation'
For Eastern Christians this was originally Christ's birth. For Hispanics
and others this is the time for giving gifts. We talk about 3 kings or 3 astrologers coming from the east to the manger. Whatever they were it gives us a wonderful time for reflecting on the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy in chapter 60 where he says 'nations shall walk by your light and kings by your shining radiance...the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense.' This might be where we get the number 3 from. And then in the Gospel of Matthew we hear how these Magi were led by a star to Bethlehem where they prostrated themselves before the child and offered gold, frankincense and myrrh. It doesn't say that there were only three but does mention three gifts. The fascinating thing that so many astrologers get tied up with is, using our modern tools, trying to ascertain what kind of star could have led them and then seemingly changed course and be directly over the manger. Personally I'm more prone to think of the star as an angel. After all an angel announced to Mary that she would be the mother. Angels appeared to the shepherds to direct them to the stable so is it possible God began using an 'angel of light' way ahead of time to direct these foreigners there. After all, an angel could change directions and be visible to some and not others. In any case the exciting lesson I experience here is the reality that nature, science if you will, leads to God. When the Magi encountered the Christ child they prostrated themselves (getting on both knees and bowing). Once encountering Christ they listened to the word of God and changed directions. That's what an encounter with Christ does for all of us. And while nature is a great manifestation of God and can lead to God, it is not God. How many stop short in their search. They say “I find God in nature.” or worse yet: “I'm scientific and don't need God if there is one.” I would like to leave you with a couple quotes from three modern wisemen who were scientists. One, Louis Pasteur, founder of microbiology and immunology, said: “Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic philosophies. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged at my work in the laboratory.” and “A little science takes you away from God but more of it takes you to Him.” Albert Einstein said: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” and “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.” or a recently deceased Supreme Court Judge, Antonin Scalia : The body of scientific evidence supporting creation science is as strong as that supporting evolution. In fact, it may be stronger..the evidence for evolution is far less compelling than we have been led to believe. Evolution is not a scientific 'fact,' since it cannot actually be observed in a laboratory. Rather, evolution is merely a scientific theory or 'guess'. It is a very bad guess at that. The scientific problems with evolution are so serious that it could accurately be termed a myth.' or, finally, Werner Heisenberg, father of Quantum Physics,: 'the first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass, God is waiting for you.”
Lighthouse Dec. 31, 2019
Last week we spoke about Christmas and how it came to be celebrated where it is, December 25. This week I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year which we mark this week on January 1. So, no, it is not the Chinese Calendar which is seemingly much older as is the Jewish Calendar. No, ours comes from a reform of the Roman Calendar by Julius Caesar which although it added leap days kept getting out of sync with the solar rotation. Pope Gregory the Great introduced today's calendar in 1582 which is off now only 1 day every 3236 years. With that accuracy all the world, including the Chinese adopted it even though it took 300 years before all countries did so. Today the Julian Calendar would be 13 days out of sync. In any case, from my perspective, what we want to look at is that we will be saying January 1, 2020 AD, or anno domini. Why is that important? It's starting point is based on the birth of the most influential person who has ever lived, Jesus Christ. Since 1582 Christians have been writing AD or BC, before Christ. And, just as there is a tremendous struggle in the world, the secular world, to change everything away from a recognition of Jesus. Witness the effort to remove 'In God We Trust' from our money, or the manger scene from to public square, or 'Merry Christmas' from Christmas and replace it with 'season's greetings'. So there is an effort for a number of years now to remove AD from the calendar and call it BCE for before the common era and CE for 'common era'. Common era of what? What is the starting point. If given a chance the world wants to turn everything 180 degrees from any recognition of God. Look at the debate this past week concerning the magazine Christianity Today started by Billy Graham. Frank Graham says it has totally misrepresented what his dad stood for. Or, look at the growing phenomenon of satanism and how they try to have what they call a 'black mass' in total mockery of the Christian mass. I'm afraid we live in an age, when to be politically correct Christians too easily buy into what the culture seems to want. That is why there are interminable polls skewed to make people think this or that is what the majority want. And everyone wants to be in the majority. So, some would ask: does it really matter whether one says AD or CE? On a moral basis, no. Does it really matter whether we say: 'in God we Trust' on our money? Again, on a moral level, no. But, little things matter. Each time Christians allow the secular culture denigrate something which reminds us that God is in our lives we lose out and the next generation has fewer aids to help them remain God centered. So, when you say 'Happy New Year' make it AD, another year of Our Lord, anno domini. Happy New Year!!!
Lighthouse December 24th
Do you have your creche up yet? If not, it’s not too late. We celebrate Jesus as a child until
Feb. 2 and the 3 wise men don’t come until Jan. 6. In any case it is amazing, and yet not, that
so many seem to ask that question. Ever since St. Francis of Assisi first had a live creche,
manger scene, people have been honoring and remembering Jesus, the Son of God, becoming
man, like us in all thing but sin. I guess we feel safe with a child and a certain openness to the
love of God coming as a child. As I thought of my own creche, actually 4 i couldn’t help but
think: what other events in Jesus’ live would we like to portray. If we were to create a diorama,
what scenes would you put in it? Of course at the manger we have the animals representing all
nations. We have the Shepard, the 3 wise men. Would you include the flight into Egypt? The
presentation in the temple? The finding in the temple? His baptism by John? The first miracle at
the wedding in Cana? The feeding of the five thousand? Or how about the miraculous catch of
fish? Or Peter walking on water and reaching out to Jesus? Or, maybe one of the many circles
of healing? Or Jesus showing Peter, James & John his glory with Moses and Elijah? And then,
there is his whole suffering and death which he endured for our salvation. Would you include
any of those scenes? Of course you wouldn’t worship any of them but they would make good
reminders of much of the scripture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Many don’t
realize it but it goes back to the earliest forms of written communication. Scientists are still
studying the primitive drawings found in a cave in France. The Indians used what we call
pictographs. We refer to the Egyptian picture symbols as hieroglyphics which transformed into
script. Modern people now use all kinds of icons and smiley faces to enhance their texts. So,
pictures, stained glass, statues have all been powerful communication symbols throughout the
ages. And of course, no one would fail to have pictures of their loved ones around. Isn’t it
amazing that immediately after God commanded not to have idols He commanded the
fashioning of two golden angels over the arc of the covenant and had Moses create a bronze
serpent for people to look to when they were bitten by a snake? Actually, to be an idol, one has
to recognize it as such and establish it for that purpose. Anything can be an idol, especially, the
dollar bill in our culture. So, let me encourage you to take delight in your creche. See how it
compares to others. I remember when I was in Mexico I saw many with fish and birds and all
God’s creatures. All creatures great and small must bow to Jesus. Finally, don’t limit your
witness to Jesus in this way, just to Christmas. How can you make Him visually present
throughout the year in your house?