Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

There Are No Cons

Jesus in Prayer

I struggle with spontaneous prayer, which as a former Protestant this is a bit difficult to admit; however, I have always been fond of talking to God. Then when I started on the road to Catholicism, the first structured prayer that I learned was the ‘Our Father’. It was odd to me. It seemed dry—I did not see the beauty in what I was saying. I did not realize that the ‘Our Father’ was the way that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Now, the ‘Our Father’ springs to my lips easily, while I’m working and I struggle with people and projects; while I’m running and struggle to keep going; while I’m cleaning and thankful for all that God has blessed me with; while I try to fall asleep to still my mind on the peace of God. I have not abandoned spontaneous prayer. In fact, often times I couple the two together. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Underestimated Holy Spirit

I don’t know about you, but I know something about me… I underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. My first step towards Christianity as a Protestant was my belief in Jesus. I was still not quite right with God, but I was headed in the right direction. At that time, I believed that God was a very unkind God (the Old Testament was my proof—He wasn’t very nice to his chosen people. I know now that they had it coming to them as they just refused to listen) and the Holy Spirit was just this odd, third entity that I recognized as important, but less important than both God and Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is not at all less important in the Trinity, nor should he be any less respected. I could be totally off base here, but I think that as Protestants and Catholics (perhaps the majority of Christian believers), we put more emphasis on Jesus and on God and tend to remember the Holy Spirit as an afterthought. However, we must remember that the Holy Spirit does not come third to the Father and the Son, but is the third person of God. Read the rest of this entry »

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Preaching for Christian Unity

From Microsoft OfficeI don’t like to preach. Some people might ask, well Pam what is it that you are doing with this blog then? And I would tell them, I’m sharing the truth. To me, preaching is more than sharing the truth—it’s forcing it upon people without listening or respecting their own personhood. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word preach as “to deliver a sermon; to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action; specifically: to exhort in an officious or tiresome manner.” Like the word ‘religion’, the word ‘preach’ tends to be a loaded word.

Lord knows that I have a lot of opinions; some are in line with the Church and others he is working very hard in me to change so that my thoughts, words and actions do not contradict the Church. Today, I have a desire to preach on my thoughts about Christian unity and this whole religious freedom, abortion, health care controversies going on in America.

The Issue

I think that most people would agree that America is having some issues with her values and morals changing. The government is elected by the people to be From Microsoft Officea voice of the people, yet so many of us truly object to the way and the direction that America is being led. Personally, I have always thought that if you have a problem with how something is done, then do something about it. Sitting around, preaching (like I do so now) and complaining does not solve anything.

And the classic question: what can one person, who is not an elected official, do? Another thing that I do not like is politics. My general opinion on that is that politics means many tics and tics can’t survive without a host. But, as just one person of this country, I can vote. And when that fails, as it clearly did in the last election, I can pray.

The Solution

From Microsoft OfficeIt all comes back to prayer. In fact, it should have started with prayer. The classic question should not have been what can one person do, but what can God do. And the answer is anything, everything and the impossible. Being that this is an election year, it feels like America is holding her breath, just waiting to see which direction she will be led in next. It feels like a turning place, like Israel in the bible—will America follow God or will she be left to her own devices to be conquered by other countries?

This battle—will we follow God or not?—feels like it is taking place worldwide, rather than just in America. For if America, the very country that was founded in the name of religious freedom, trumps on people’s religious freedoms, who is to say that other countries will not fail when faced the same issue?

Yesterday was the last official day of the worldwide, church-wide prayer for Christian unity. Whether you joined in or not, now is definitely not the time to stop praying for Christian unity. It does not matter what sect of Christianity, it doesn’t matter where you live or your race or your gender, for we all belong to one church and one body with Jesus as the head. The theme was “We will all be changed by the Victory of Jesus Christ” and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.

Let us pray continually that God will change us all, in his mercy, for his glory and because of the Victory that Jesus won for us.

I’m done preaching… for now…

From Microsoft Office

What do you think?

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The Question of Free Will

Without free will, we would be like animals

I wonder why we were given free will. Intellectually, I understand—God gave us free will because he made us in his image. He made us to be rational, thinking human beings with the ability to make choices. If he had not given us free will, then we would not have been any different than an ape, a parrot or any other animal. We were purposefully given cognitive abilities, a soul, a beautiful home, and a question—will we choose to love God or not?

On some level or another, this makes sense to me intellectually. Until I look at my life, all of my mistakes and goof ups, the broken relationships, my love ones and their regrets, this sad, sad world, it is then that I no longer understand. Free will gives us the ability to choose, and sometimes we choose wrong, sometimes we choose right, sometimes we can’t tell if it’s wrong or right until many years later. And sometimes I wish that we didn’t have to choose at all because sometimes it isn’t as clear as black and white.

Free will seems to be the crux of humanity. Somehow it makes us beautiful and at the same time makes us the most dangerous being on earth. For with free will, we are given the ability to love one another at any time and the ability to take that love away at the drop of a pin. We are given the ability to make a mess of our lives and to hurt those closest to us.

What would have the Garden of Eden looked like?

It’s a pessimistic thought, really. Perhaps not totally Christ-like. And yet it is the truth. I wonder what it was like for Adam and Eve. They were not placed into a broken world, but into a beautiful world with beautiful relationships. They were naked in mind, body and spirit. Their lack of clothes not only showed the perfect union between Adam and Eve but also between them and God. What would it have been like to be totally naked before our spouse and our God—I’m not taking about physical nakedness but where we drop all of our guards, walls and masks to be in perfect union with one another and with God?

Unfortunately, free will ended that. Adam and Eve were graced before the fall with gifts of perfect unity, but when they listened to the serpent, that unity was broken. And unfortunately, it was broken for all. As a result, we have this sad world with dissent placed between husbands and wives, children and parents, best friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

It isn’t all pessimistic however. We were given a way out, one that God devised before Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. A woman and a man showed us that we can live in this broken world with free will and be in harmony with God and with one another. Where Eve used her free will to listen to the serpent, Mary used her free will to have faith in God. Where Adam chose not to stand up for God’s commandment, Jesus laid down his life. Both were given the same weaknesses as we have and both were able to use their lives for the good of all.

Jesus chose to sacrifice himself for us

Jesus and Mary set an example for us. It is like they are saying; look, free will isn’t just for us to destroy one another, but for us to use it for good. Despite my past, despite all that is broken due to poor choices, I find hope in this. I find optimism among the pessimism. After all, one cannot know white without knowing black, love without knowing hate, right without knowing wrong. One cannot know what it is like to be whole without knowing what it is like to be broken. And we would not know these things without free will. It is through Jesus and Mary, ultimately through God, that we are given hope.

I may not always understand or even like free will. Without it maybe we wouldn’t be such a sad world. But without it, we would not have known Jesus and Mary. Without it, we wouldn’t have the ability to know God. In this light, I suppose that I can accept free will—maybe only with a prayer that God grants us the wisdom to use it correctly.

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IgnitumToday: Another Path to Holiness

English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child ...

Today, I direct you to one of my favorite blogs called Ignitum Today, where I was welcomed to submit a guest post.  Ignitum Today is a multi-blogger site that cover topics relevant to the younger generation of the Catholic Church.  The site features many talented writers, such as Brandon Vogt which is one of my favorite, published authors. 

With much excitement, I submitted a post on how the Holy Family can teach us to become holy ourselves.  You can find the article here

There are many different paths to holiness– a person does not have to be a nun or a priest to become a saint.  Do you have examples of ‘average’ people becoming a saint?  Any particular person, Catholic or non, alive or dead, who inspires you?  Share in the comments.

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Love Came Down

A reflection on love and relationships in light of Jesus

Holding Hands shadow on sand

If there is anything that I’m learning that is a matter of importance, it is that love is rough. It is one of the hardest things that a person can do, especially all giving love. I do not have any kids of my own. I am not married. But I have this man, whom I adore, and as I wait for him to present me with a ring, I realize that there will be never anything harder to do than always fully giving myself over to the love that is between us.

I struggle everyday to set aside my more difficult traits for him. I know that I could go to a jewelry store and find the perfect ring. I could get what I desire most, propose to him, and take care of it so that it would never plague me again. But I realize that this is not the love that we are supposed to have for each other. I am not even sure that it could be called love. It would be me pushing events in the manner and timing of my choosing merely because I couldn’t suffer waiting any longer. It would be taking the easy way out.

The love that we feel, between the BF and I, between the parent and the child, more importantly between husband and wife, it is a very minor reflection of God’s love and endurance for us. I have a hard time setting aside my controlling behaviors for the man I know very dearly, the man who I profess my love for. And yet Love came down from heaven with an even greater purpose—a purpose to redeem all of mankind—to suffer incredible pain that would have killed any other person time and again before they even reached the cross.

Jesus didn’t just love us. He was human, and yet he was able to set aside his humanity in order to do the Lord’s bidding. Jesus suffered greatly for us. He knew what was coming and he still did not run, push it aside, or take the easy way out, because he is love. Loving people and being in relationships is not easy at all, but we have an amazing intercessor that is willing to help us understand just what love endure. Who better to show us how to set aside our wants, desires and emotions for the well being of our love ones?

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How Cell Phones Separate Us From God

Various cell phones displayed at a shop.

My mother, three nephews, niece and I piled into her big suburban this Sunday to attend church in a neighboring city in the mountains.  It takes around an hour to get there.  The drive is beautiful.  The city fades into the desert which becomes hilly and the hills become spotted with trees until enough elevation is gained and the wonderful vegetation of the forest surrounds the car on all sides.  And the most beautiful thing is no cell service.

My nephews are twelve, ten and seven, and all three have a cell phone.  I understand why my mother (who is raising my them) got cell phones for my nephews, but it was disheartening that the entire drive up the mountains to church, all three were constantly on their cell phones, playing games and checking for service.  Then I realized that I just turned my cell phone on for the millionth time, and I quickly became disgusted.

We are constantly ‘plugged’ into the secular world through these small devices.  Our children are growing up believing that it is normal to be plugged in like we are.  I hate to admit it, but even I who admonish the social medias and having a cell phone attached like a third arm, am obsessed with communicating with the outside world.  I am beginning to think that I am more obsessed than I think I am and that scares me.  It’s like this saying in running, it is not the big rock that twists your ankle–it’s the little one.

I think that this applies to us Christians and our relationship to God as well.  It isn’t the big sins that catch us, for we watch out for those.  It’s the little ones.  We all know the Ten Commandments, and we do our best to be ‘good’ Christians and follow them.  We notice (hopefully) the big sins in our life such as do not steal, murder, covet the neighbors stuff, adultery, idolatry, etc., and correct those in our life, but do we notice the little things?  Such as obsessing over a cell phone instead of obsessing over the coming of Christ?  Checking the latest Facebook status update instead of the Word of God?  Or even placing high priority of the incoming call above prayer?  How about Christmas shopping over attending church service?

Let us set aside the cell phones, the social medias, the emails, the constant pounding of the secular world against our consciousness, — just for a little while this Advent season—and truly ponder the wonder of the little baby who came to suffer for our sake out of great love.

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