Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

Media Review: CHSS Ministry & eBible

Another Word for Heaven

I must confess—I am a resource junky.  My profession as an engineer has fed this addiction, as there is nothing better to an engineer than a great resource.  In fact, an engineer is only as useful as his (or her ) resources.  Being a believer in the unseen (three cheers for God and electrons!), I search for all the  books, web pages, audio files, PDF’s and blogs out there that accurately explains and describes the truth.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The Five W’s of Prayer: Part 1

From Microsoft OfficePrayer should be easy and come naturally from us. After all, God created us to have a relationship with him, and a huge part of any relationship is communication, the ability to talk to one another. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, that natural, easy communication with one another and with God became broken. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, suddenly became aware of his iniquities and hid from God in shame. [3] God never stopped communicating with Adam—Adam stopped communicating to God out of shame and fear.

We inherited this brokenness. As such, it is our own fears, desires, shame and sin that make prayer difficult. However, the story doesn’t end with Adam. We can learn about prayer from many different people in the bible—Abraham and the prayer to save others (Gn 18:27), Moses and the prayer of the mediator (Ex 33:12-17), David and the prayer of the king (2 Sam 18-29), Elijah and the other prophets regarding the conversion of heart (1 Kgs 18:36-37), the Psalms as a prayer of the assembly, Saint Paul and his many letters (Rom 8:27), and Mary the mother of God (Lk 1:46-55) are just a few. [1,3] The most important figure for us to learn from is Jesus. It was Jesus, God made man, who came down from heaven to restore our relationship back to God.

We inherited that brokenness, but Jesus came to heal us and to teach us how to have a relationship with God. With his help, we can learn to communicate with God again.

What is Prayer?

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (CC 2559) [1]

From Microsoft OfficeSome people might think that prayer is just talking to yourself or delusions that the invisible will listen to you. Others only pray in time of need or only of requests of God. In fact, prayer is much more. Prayer is communication with God. It is spending time with him and the basis of our relationship with him.

Mother Angelica says it beautifully in her book titled Journey into Prayer.

The word Prayer means many things to many people. To some it means asking for “things”—for health or success. To others, it means repentance, imploring God’s Mercy for their sins and infidelities. Prayer is Praise and Thanksgiving to many and to the majority it is a cry in times of distress.

Prayer is all these things, but it is more. It is Union of Love: God’s Love and your love; it is an awareness of God’s love for you—His personal love.” [2]

Why Do We Pray?

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14, emphasis added) [3]

From Microsoft OfficeJesus said to ask and it shall be given (Mt 7:7). [3] Let us keep in mind however our feelings for a family member who only speaks to us when they want something. It becomes irritating, and there is little for a relationship to build on. While it is good to ask of God our needs, as he wishes to provide for us, let it not be the only reason we pray. Let prayer be a covenant, a communion and a seeking of the face of God.

Who Can Pray?

From Microsoft OfficeAnyone. This may seem like a silly answer, but it is the basis of Christianity. There are no barriers based on gender, race, or (oddly enough) religion. Anyone can come before God, humble themselves and pray. God listens to what is in our hearts and responds accordingly. I remember when I was not yet a Christian; I fell to my knees and asked God for his salvation. I do not find it a coincidence that I became a Christian a month later and was baptized a month after that. God still heard my prayer to him, despite my lack of willingness to follow him and his church.

There are examples of pagans praying to God in the bible. One such example is the book of Jonah. Jonah, a prophet of the Lord, was sent to the pagan city Nineveh to warn them that the judgment of the Lord was upon them and that if they did not repent, the Lord would destroy the city. The people listened, put on sack cloth and repented. They called to God to spare them, and God listened. [3]

When and Where will be covered in Part 2.

References

[1] Catholic Catechism (CC), available online

[2] Mother Angelica, Journey into Prayer, available online

[3] The Bible, available online

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Weekly Media: CU Podcast

Have a media that you love to use? I would be glad to review it and provide a post on it with you and your website attributed to it. Just send me an email through the Feedback! Page or post in the comments.

CU Podcast Avatar

I listen to a lot of different podcasts while at work and one of my favorites is Catholic Underground (CU), “Your guide to the digital continent”. The CU podcast is a round table discussion on news, media and technology through the lens of Catholicism. The round table is made up of priests and lay people—it is quite entertaining.

I attribute my motivation and desire to learn more about faith to these men. As a new convert to the faith, I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of the Catholic faith and these men discussing hot topics in the news and how Catholics should be responding to such events helped me to realize that there is so much more to being a Catholic than attending mass once a week. Somehow they are able to take pressing news and work in a discussion on pro-life, natural family planning, the papacy, etc., and be lighthearted and entertaining at the same time.

I listen to CU through iTunes. Click here to download iTunes for free. Once it is downloaded, click on the iTunes store inside the program and search for Catholic Underground. For those of you who do not use iTunes, you can listen directly from their site here.

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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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Weekly Media: YouVersion

This is a new type of post that I will begin posting every week. The purpose of these posts are to give my readers an overview of a media that I have found useful in my walk with Christ. The media could be anything from websites, books, podcasts, apps and technology.

Have a media that you love to use? I would be glad to review it and provide a post on it with you and your website attributed to it. Just send me an email through the Feedback! Page.

This Weeks Media: YouVersion

Overview

YouVersion is an online bible community owned by LifeChurch.tv. The homepage of YouVersion is a bible reader on the left side of the screen while the right side is the Organizer (see screen shot below). Through the Organizer, bible verses can be bookmarked, relevant notes written by other users, a section for your own notes, accessibility to reading plans, and an audio bible app. A dropdown box allows the user to select a version of bible, search for particular verses, or browse to a book/verse in the bible. YouVersion can also be installed on other devices that use apps or have access to the web such as smart phones and tablets.


Likes

The interface for the online bible is one of the best that I have found to date. It has the look and feel of a scrolling eBook rather than hyperlinked websites. Around the bible reader, several tools and communities have been built. For example, the user can subscribe to a reading plan for reading the bible in a year, a particular book over a set timeline, or topic based such as verses or books relating to relationships, humility or Christmas. The notes allow the user to read other peoples thoughts on the bible verses or to share their own thoughts. As the user scrolls through the bible in the reader, relevant notes that other users created populate under the organizer. This allows people to build on each other’s knowledge and to share their thoughts. The user can also join a group that share the same religious backgrounds or values in order to create a community that encourages and share knowledge.

The community developed around the bible reader is an exciting idea. It brings a whole new perspective to the social media arena, but does not attempt to compete with the likes of Facebook. Instead, the developers at YouVersion are carving their own niche by creating a community centered on bible sharing.


Dislikes

My biggest complaint is the usability of the site and the availability of help resources. Some of the features do not have logical access. For example, I have created a group for Growing Apologist, but I have yet to figure out how to post any bible bookmarks to it or share notes on the group’s page. I thought to myself, no big deal, I will go to the support page and figure it out. There was no information on groups on the support page. That being said, YouVersion seems to be a newer community, and it takes time to develop usability and help resources.

Note:  I discovered that there is not a specific way to post to the group, but any activity recorded to my username will automatically be posted to any group I am part of.

Check it out!

Over all, the idea behind YouVersion is unique and beneficial. The site is still being developed as it is a newer social media. The downfalls far outweigh the benefits that a follower of Christ can gain from using this site. Join YouVersion to reap these benefits and while you are at it, check out the Growing Apologist group.

What do you think of YouVersion? Let us know in the comments section.

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A Mathematician is to an Engineer…

… as a Theologian is to an Apologist

Square root of x formula. Symbol of mathematics.

This is an interesting thought. As an engineer, I’ve always thought the mathematicians are a little crazy.  I’m sure that the mathematicians think the same of the engineers.  But I digress already, before I have even begun.

In simplifying terms, a mathematicians world is A + B = C.  An engineers world is 1 + 2 = 3.  The mathematician is not only to learn the math, but to research it, expand on it, advance the knowledge.  They think in letters instead of numbers and in abstract thoughts.  An engineer needs to know the math as well, but they learn it as a tool not as the end itself.  They learn the math in order to apply it.

The Bible

So what in the world do mathematicians and engineers have to do with theologians and apologists?  What an excellent question.  My first impulse– theologians are kind of crazy.  Oh wait, digressing again.  It seems to me that the theologian is similar to the mathematician, in that they not only learn the theology, but research, expands, and advances it, and possibly even thinks in abstract thoughts.  And the apologist?  Well I think you know where I am going with this.  Let’s just say, I’m becoming more and more fond of apologists all the time.

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The Pride of the Pharisees

From The Crossroads Initiative: October 27, 2011

Here is the gospel reflection for this coming weekend from The Crossroads Initiative.  The mass bible readings that this reflection is based on can be found here.  The past few weeks, the Pharisees had tried to trick Jesus so that they could have an excuse to kill him.  In this reading, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their pride.  Enjoy!

Brooklyn Museum - The Pharisees Question Jesus...

The Pride of the Pharisees

From Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

A hundred and fifty years before Christ, they were the good guys. The Greeks were in charge and decided that, if they were to unify their kingdom politically, they needed to unify it religiously. So they imposed Greek ways on the Jews, including worshiping idols and eating pork. You can read about the Jew’s military resistance to this tyranny in the two books of Maccabees.

In these same books, you can read about the spiritual resistance of pious laymen who stood up for the Law and the traditions of the Rabbis, who sought to preserve the faith of Israel and live it with passion. The members of this renewal movement became known as the Pharisees.

Yet obviously something went terribly wrong with God’s champions. Because just a few generations later, when the Son of God appeared in their midst, they rejected Him. How did it happen? They succumbed to an insidious disease that they didn’t even know they had.

Today, there are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like this. One of them, HPV, is a virus that has no symptoms at all. A woman often does not know that she has it . . . until, that is, she is diagnosed with deadly cervical cancer.

Saint Mary Magdalene wipes the feet of Jesus

The Pharisees would have wagged their fingers at such women, as they did at the woman caught in adultery (John 8). “Serves them right– the wages of sin is death!”

Fornication and adultery are serious sins indeed. In fact, they are expressions of one of the seven capital sins–lust. Many assume that lust is considered by Christianity to be the epitome of sin, the worst possible vice. Actually, in the hierarchy (or should I say “lowerarchy”) of capital sins, the king-pin and most deadly of the seven sins is not lust but pride. Lust wrongly seeks sexual pleasure apart from love and life. Pride seeks greatness apart from God. The tricky thing is that pride can often start in the course of promoting God’s greatness.

Here’s how it works–as people begin applauding as you do God’s work, you think they are applauding for you. It’s a rather pitiful mistake really. Imagine the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem thinking that the crowd had turned out for him!

Such applause, however, can be addicting. The proud person ultimately will do anything to make the ovation happen and keep it going. But there can only be one star. Pride is essentially competitive. So anyone who threatens to steal the show becomes a mortal enemy. Even if he happens to be God.

The proud man does not teach to enlighten, but rather to pontificate, to impress, to appear as the authority. So the Pharisees laid heavy moral burdens upon the shoulders of the people without lifting a finger to help them (Mat 23:4). They coveted the title of “teacher” (that’s what “rabbi” means) and “father” (teachers in the ancient world were regarded as spiritual fathers), but really did not want the responsibility.

Brooklyn Museum - Curses Against the Pharisees...

When Jesus says to avoid being called teacher and father, he wasn’t talking aboutwhat titles educators and parents should and shouldn’t use. He was talking about an attitude. Humble persons realize that all wisdom and teaching comes from God, even if God happens to be instructing others through their mouths. They know that the applause ultimately is for Him, and they are glad to redirect it back to Him as Mary does when she is praised by her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1: 42-55).

Pride is deadly because it is so insidious. The further the disease progresses, the blinder the victim becomes until it is nearly impossible for him to recognize his plight.The strutting and posturing of the proud are nothing more than compensation for their own insecurity. The pathetic emperor cannot see what is perfectly plain to everyone else–namely, that he has no clothes.

The humble person, on the other hand, is secure in the love of God and therefore has no need of pomp and circumstance. He is not afraid to look at his own littleness, for He clearly sees the greatness of a God who is not a competitor, but a loving Father.

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