Thursday, October 31, 2013

unity! pleeeeeeeeease, unity!

Martin Luther has always been a fascination to me. His heart for God caused a revolution. I used to admire him with the utmost respect. But once I saw the fruit of the first division - which is division upon division upon division upon division upon division...and now we have 30,000 denominations, or divisions, I realized that the fruit of the Reformation doesn't necessarily tie to the will of God as seen in the Gospel.

About 8 years ago I met an on-fire Catholic named Sharon. I was married with one child at the time and working with her. I had never met a Catholic who was so excited about her faith or who knew so much of the "why" regarding the Catholic faith, and I had never met a Catholic who was able to explain things to me like she did. She marked me. One statement she said in particular really stayed with me,


"Imagine what Christians could do against Satan if we were in unity."

I couldn't argue with her. I had never thought about unity in the body of Christ before. I had never even noticed the passage in John 17 when Jesus prays in the garden before his death. He prays for unity of believers (Christians) and the unity of the apostles. 

That's when I began to question what Martin Luther did. 

Martin Luther didn't intend to start a new church when he posted his 95 theses on October 31, 1517. The Catholic Church had some very corrupt practices going on. The Church needed to be reformed. When Martin Luther stood up and demanded reform, the Church leaders made sure he wouldn't be successful by excommunicating him and later condemning him as an outlaw. I believe Martin Luther wanted to change the Church, not start his own thing. He later went off course when he started changing the Bible and becoming his own pope.


www.catholicmemes.com
The Catholic Church wasn't an innocent victim in the Reformation. The abuses in the Church were the root of the problem. But others who also disagreed with the abuses that were going in the Catholic Church instead helped to reform it from within. Great men and women of God  - Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales - risked their lives to make the Church what God wanted her to be. This is known as the Counter-Reformation. I had never heard of the Counter-Reformation before. I assumed the abuses that Martin Luther stood up against were still commonplace in the Catholic Church today.

But they're not!

I'm not saying that the leaders of Catholic Church is always perfect. They're human, they can't be perfect. But no other church is as in line with the will of God in the area of unity as well as numerous other areas as the Catholic Church. Jesus gave us the Church and promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. 2,000 years later, this promise still stands true.

Jesus prayed for us all to be one - you could say it was his dying wish/prayer. He prayed this so that "the world will know that you sent me and have loved them..." Time after time the world recognizes the relevancy of the Catholic Church. It has been reported recently that the NSA may have been spying on the Vatican. When the anti-christ comes, who do you think will be his first target? The Church who is the most relevant and strongest against him. Join us in our fight against evil.

If you love Jesus and hate the devil, please consider learning more about what the Church teaches and join us. I promise you that you will find that the Catholic Church is not what you thought it was.

Imagine what Christians could do against Satan if we were in unity.

Friday, October 18, 2013

the time zoë almost spilled the blood of Jesus


Did I tell you about the time Zoë almost spilled the precious blood of Jesus? She was about 6 or 7 months old, and I took her up for communion with me - just like every other time. Only she had become really grabby, and I forgot all about this new phase of hers. I held her on my left hip while holding the chalice in my right hand. As I was handing the chalice back to the server, she grabbed the rim of the cup and pulled it towards her. I could see the precious blood within centimeters of splashing out. I was so thankful nothing was spilled!

Oh my goodness! Our Lord Jesus shed his blood for us, and my sweet baby almost knocked it to the ground! What if she had spilled it?! Would they wipe it up with a towel? BUT IT'S JESUS' BLOOD! You can't just wipe it up with a towel, can you? Surely it wouldn't be the first time someone had spilled the Blood of Jesus in the last 2,000 years!

Well, as it turns out, there's protocol for this type of thing. So it's probably happened before. Because we've been receiving the blood of Christ for 2,000 years, and babies have been grabbing and pulling at things for even longer.

So here's a quick answer from Catholic Answers to the question, "What is the correct thing to do when the precious blood is spilled during distribution of the Eucharist?" Then read here to answer the related question, "Can you pour out the precious blood?"

And since a person can receive only the host and not the cup and have received the full "body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ", I'll be passing by the chalice the next time I have Zoë on my hip. It'll relieve a little anxiety for me at least.

If this all sounds crazy foreign to you - the way we think of the bread and the wine as being sacred and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus, read John 6. Read all of it. The entire chapter. A lot of people try to explain away John 6 as just being symbolic. You can read commentary explaining why John 6 doesn't mean what John 6 says. I mean, people do mental backwards somersaults to explain it away. The Bible warns us about men who make the Word of God void, "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13 NIV) Before you read John 6 ask God to reveal the truth of His Word to you. He will.

As some more icing on the cake, here is a little 7-minute video to illustrate how AMAZING WONDERFUL the Eucharist is and what we believe the Bible says about the Body and Blood of Jesus:


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

40 Days for Life starts tomorrow



A prayer for life. 
Heavenly Father, we have turned our backs on you and your principles in your Word. We have allowed man to usurp Your role as God over life and the number of our days. But we come to you in brokenness and repentance over our sin.   We cry out for Your mercy and ask you to remove the scourge of abortion from our land.   Use us as your vessels, Lord, to bring the light of Your Truth to our nation once again. Because of Christ we pray, Amen. 

Every time I step in front of our local abortion clinic to pray, I can almost feel the spiritual battle taking place. It is very surreal. 

The enemy hates life. He comes only to steal, kill and destroy. And he starts with the innocent in the womb. 

Sign up to join in the spiritual battle. Join others in prayer for life. It does make a difference.  http://www.40daysforlife.com/

kristy

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the apostles of The Apostles

When I say something like, "Catholicism is the oldest Christian faith and the only Christian church who claims to have been started by Jesus himself," it seems to ruffle feathers. The comment that I often hear in response is, "That's such an arrogant statement." 

Well, I guess it would be an arrogant statement if it were merely my opinion.

It's true that the Bible does not say, "Then Jesus started the Catholic Church." But it does say in Matthew 16:16-18 that Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (which means "Rock") and said he would build his church upon this rock. Pretty plain as day to me that Jesus appointed Peter as the leader of his church, unless you do a mental one-handed backwards somersault to explain this passage to mean something else.

Peter handed down his authority to Linus, who handed down his authority to Cletus, who handed his authority down to Clement...and it happened this way until we get to Francis. 

Peter was our first Pope. They didn't call him "Pope" at the time. "Pope" is a title that was coined later to indicate the head of the bishops. 

But can we know this is true? I mean, it's not in the Bible!

Catholics have a different understanding of what a bishop is compared to the average independent non-denominational local church in America (I say "America" because only in America do we have small churches who do what they want with no authority to submit to. Could be the product of the "me" mentality of America drifting into our churches, I dunno. We can chase that rabbit later...) How can we know whose interpretation of the role of a bishop is correct?

We can look back at what the early church writers had to say about bishops. These writers were the apostles of the apostles. And then the apostles of the apostles of the apostles. In most cases these were the men who either knew the apostles personally or knew someone who knew the apostles (as in the apostles were a sort of a spiritual great-grandfather to them). 

What did they write about bishops in the early church back then?

Ignatius of Antioch
Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).
In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]). 

Irenaeus
The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]).
Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there should arise a dispute relative to some important question among us. Should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the churches? (ibid. 3:4).

Tertullian
Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago – in the reign of Antoninus for the most part – and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])
But if there be any (heresies) which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst Of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,--a man, moreover, who continued stedfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. (On the Prescription Against Heretics 22,30 [A.D.200])
Cyprian
The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home . . . Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills? He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 6 [A.D. 251]).
Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear or obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another (Letters 66 [A.D. 253]).
I love reading this stuff. History is fascinating to me, and I can get lost to the world when I read this stuff. You can read more for yourself at Early Christian Writings. The writings are listed by the approximate date they were written, and there is a rating for each as to the reliability of the dating of each. Some writings are "more sturdy" than others. Some of the important writings in church history are from Polycarp, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Origen, Ignatius of Antioch. The entire collection of writings are at this website, not just bits and pieces and quotes. 

These writings cover a multitude of topics, not just about bishops. And please do not misunderstand me - I do not equate these writings with the Bible. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. These writings are merely historical information.

Peace and love to you,
kristy


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apparently now we don't have to believe in God to get to Heaven!

Did you hear the one where the Pope wrote a newspaper and said you don't have to believe in God to go to Heaven? 

Pope Francis said nothing new. 

This has been in the Catechism for I don't know how long. Here's the deal - a snippet of a quote from his 2,500-word letter has been grabbed and taken out of context. Why? Why would reporters do this? Maybe because they are looking for the Catholic Church to change.

The media. The media who hates Christianity and everything that it stands for. The media who hates anyone who is pro-life or who stands for traditional marriage. This is who you trust for your Catholic theology? The media grabs on to what they think drives their agenda, and their agenda isn't the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

The Catholic Church stands for truth and won't change according to the whims of the world. And the media and the world HATES this. So they hold on to every snippet of a quote that may point to the fall of the Catholic Church as we know it. Because this would mean the rise of their agendas.

This stuff drives me bonkers. Then again, maybe I'm underestimating Pope Francis and his brilliant plan to use the media.

Leila Miller at the Little Catholic Bubble has a great series called "Little Teachings", and she addresses the question, "Can non-Catholics be saved?" As she emphatically states, 
There is no salvation except through Christ Jesus, and it is simply impossible for anyone to get to Heaven without Him.
And this is not a contradiction to what Pope Francis wrote in his recent letter.

Let's think of this in another way. I'll use an example. Amy reads in the Bible that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Amy is a brand new Christian, and since she hasn't been in church long or read the Bible very much yet she interprets this verse to mean it's fine to sin all she wants. Jesus' love will cover it. But Amy is wrong. She hasn't read that verse with the context of the entire Bible, so she in mis-interpreting it. 


The same is true of what many non-Catholics are doing with Pope Francis' recent statements. The statements are snatched out and interpreted without an understanding of Catholic theology. The pope is not saying that you can get to heaven without Jesus. I know that's what it sounds like, but that's not what he's saying at all.

But you shouldn't just take my word on the matter. Search it for yourself. Catholicism is the oldest Christian faith, the biggest Christian faith, and the only Christian church who claims to have been started by Jesus himself. Isn't it worth further investigation?

And for God's sake, don't get your Catholic teaching from the unbelieving world or the general media.

Leila's post that talks about the salvation of non-Catholics and non-believers isn't a full teaching on the matter, but it is a really, really, really good way for a quick start to understanding this topic (as are her other little teachings). Please read Leila's teaching (from a year and a half ago), and read what the Pope really said in his letter to fully understand what was said. And here's a good piece from the National Catholic Register that also goes into what Pope Francis wrote. That is - if you really want to understand what Pope Francis was saying in his letter. Or you could just go on being ill-informed and using snippets of quotes from the Pope to use against him and the Catholic Church. Either way, it's your choice.

Jesus gave us the Catholic Church to help guide us while we're here on Earth. He built his Church and promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Jesus always keeps his word. He's pretty awesome that way.

kristy

Thursday, September 5, 2013

losing baby #8

We got some horrible news at my doctor today. The baby who was growing inside of me no longer has a heartbeat. Before we had a chance to tell the whole world about our newest surprise, we lost the baby.

I went to my OB last Tuesday for my first prenatal visit. It's amazing how things change from one pregnancy to the next. With my other babies we had to wait until around 15 or 18 weeks before we got to see our little blessing on screen. Now my doctor does an ultrasound to confirm a pregnancy on the first prenatal visit. So I got to see our little peanut on the ultrasound machine. He or she was measuring 6 weeks. I could see the heartbeat. The heartbeat measured at 128 beats per minute, which is right where it should be at 6 weeks gestation. It's the smallest little heartbeat I ever did see!

This Tuesday I woke up and saw that I was bleeding. I've had two miscarriages before. I knew this was not a good sign. I called my doctor's office and was told to come in Thursday for an ultrasound.

Today I am 7 weeks along. Before the ultrasound technician even looked for a heartbeat, she measured the baby's size. I saw on the screen that it measured at 6 weeks 1 day. Same as last week. My heart sank but I still held on to hope. Within seconds the ultrasound tech looked for the heartbeat but found none. I cried and held on to my husband.

The option of doing a DNC was offered, but I chose to go through the process of miscarrying naturally. My second miscarriage was at 6 weeks, and I somewhat know what to expect. Over the next week or so my body will cast aside the life that once was.

Today I have such a heavy heart. Over the last two days I've had ample opportunity to go through the questions wondering if I did something to cause this. Did I drink too much caffeine? Is this due to my age? Was I not thankful enough for this gift who was growing inside of me, too focused on the part of my self that I would have to give up to love another baby?

There is one thing I know to be true. My God is a good God. He creates life; He doesn't destroy it. The loss we are suffering now is because sin entered the world. The nature of this world was altered to include death when Adam and Eve believed a lie and brought sin into this world. Some mysteries of this life we will not understand until we get to Heaven. This will be one that we will have to wait on to fully understand.

We had already told our kids that we would be welcoming another baby into our family. So tonight we had to tell them that I had a miscarriage. Our oldest son, Todd, took it the hardest. He loves having brothers and a sister so much, and he was obviously looking forward to loving another sibling. He also understands that "we'll see him or her when we get to Heaven" can feel like an awful. long. time.  He even asked us tonight if we can adopt a brother or sister for him. He's trying to fill the space in his heart that was left now that his baby brother or baby sister is gone.

My husband is my dearest friend. I am so thankful that my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to being open to life. We want to be smart about having more children (whatever that means). Maybe we shouldn't have any more. Maybe we should. We know that right now isn't the time to lament over these decisions, but to mourn our loss and count our blessings. We have been so blessed with five gorgeous, perfectly healthy children. And we will have the opportunity to get to know the souls of our other three children when we meet them in Heaven. 

You can be sure that my kids got extra kisses from me tonight!

Kyrie eleison!
Christe eleison!
Kyrie eleison!

kristy


Monday, September 2, 2013

on unity

Seeing that unity was the will of Jesus is one of the main reasons that I came home to the Catholic Church

One thing that always bothered me once I got serious about Christianity and started attending a Southern Baptist was the denominations within Christianity. The wonderful people I met in my new church were very helpful in teaching me the importance of the Bible. We had a wonderful youth group, and I learned more about the Bible than I had ever known before. It became part of my life. A part that I couldn't live without.

There was one Holy Bible - the inspired Word of God. Yet there are an estimated 8,000...or 30,000 denominations. I get dizzy at some of the figures I see, but the latest Wikipedia reports 41,000 denominations, so I'll go with 41,000. To be correct - it's actually 41,000 and counting. Churches aren't finished splitting. I could not reconcile how one Holy Word of God could translate into 41,000 denominations. Every single one of those 41,000 use the same Bible, and every single one of them would say they were the most accurate in their interpretation of Scripture. 

Does anyone else think that maybe someone might be wrong here? How on earth could 41,000 people be right using one Bible?! The Bible is THE WORD OF GOD!! And God isn't schizophrenic. There is only one Truth. And 41,000 denominations. It just doesn't add up.

One day I read some passages in John 17. I am sure I had read them before, but for the first time I really saw them for what they were (emphasis mine). 
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." ~John 17:20-23 (NKJ)
This is Jesus' prayer after the last supper, right before He was betrayed by Judas. Luke's account of this time of prayer says that Jesus' sweat was like drops of blood. This was a very difficult time for Him as He prepared for His sacrifice. And he prayed for us. For us to be one. He cared that much about the unity of His believers - Christians. Not only that, but He also prayed in the following passage of John 17 for the Apostles - the leaders of His church - to be one.

Jesus' will is for us to be one. Disunity is against His will. I believe it grieves Him to see the state of disunity within His bride, the church. I don't want to be out of Jesus' will. I don't want to grieve Jesus.


3,000,000 Catholics participate in Mass in Brazil.
What a statement of hope to the world!
I've heard the response that we all somehow share in an invisible unity by being believers in Christ. Yet Protestants can't join worship services for a month before they start arguing about interpretations or who our leader will be. And then they split over disagreements. I think this "invisible unity" is a way to justify the status quo. I wonder what the world thinks about the unity of Christians? As the author of the blog Carpe Veritatem writes, "[divisions] causes people to look at us and say, 'How can Christianity be true, they can't even agree amongst themselves!'"

Human pride has caused the body of Christ to divide. I don't blame one side or the other - the pride and resulting problems started before 1517. Please read on at Carpe Veritatem posts about unity between denominations. There are 7 parts to the topic, and the author describes in more detail the unity that Christ desires and why we have the divisions that we currently have.

This is a huge topic to my heart, and I wonder if there are people "out there" who have given division within the body of Christ any thought? How do you think we can achieve unity within the body of believers?

kristy

Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (#3)


Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting!

1. This is an awesome story about a man who had a seemingly perfect life. His wife got pregnant with their second child, and they learned the child had Down Syndrome. The man pressured his wife to have an abortion. The rest of the story will require a box of tissues.



It reminds me of a similar story I heard this week on the radio about a dad whose fifth child was born with Down Syndrome. The father on the radio admitted that at first he hoped his daughter would die. The baby had to have some surgeries right after birth, and the mother couldn't take the baby to the operating room. So the father had to take her. He described how his heart was transformed as he walked his new baby girl to the operating room. He began to love her with a deep love, and he cried and cried and begged God to spare his daughter's life. He is now so thankful that he has his daughter with Down Syndrome and recognizes how his daughter has enabled him to love in a fuller way than he ever loved before.

2. I have a problem. I can't read stuff like this and not let it deeply affect me. As in - it affects me all day, all night, and sometimes well into the next couple of days. And then it drives me crazy that no one else seems to care. It makes me want to scream at people (but I don't). I can't help think about this baby being born, and the first thing he wants and needs is the loving embrace and caresses of his mother. Instead he gets thrown in a trash bag and stuffed in the toilet. As a mother, I cannot understand how someone can have their own flesh and blood come out of her body, touch the sweet skin and delicate bones of her infant with her hands and within seconds stuff him in the toilet. Does no one want to get to the bottom of why stuff like this is happening?! Maybe they don't want to know the answer.

3. As long as we're on the topic of things that bother me all day long, I read Wednesday that Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, signed into law a ban against gay conversion therapy. Even for homosexual teens who may want to be heterosexual. So let's make sure we have the logic of this perfectly clear. If a boy decides he should be a girl - meaning he's a homosexual boy who wants to be a heterosexual girl - that's just fine. We'll help you along your way and support you. But if a homosexual boy decides he should be a heterosexual boy, then sorry dude - you're on your own. I don't want to get into the ins and outs of either side of the arguments for or against "conversion therapy". The gap in the logic right here should be reason enough for people to take a stand for kids out there who are confused and need guidance! Can someone please explain to me the logic in this??

4. I am constantly seeing people who try to live in their own, new, nontraditional ways. But in being different they all end up conforming to the same "different". Conforming isn't different at all. Living "green" was for a short time the new different. Now it's the way to conform (not that conforming to being "green" is bad). Wanna see a couple who really lives in a different way? Jase and Missy Robertson of the show "Duck Dynasty" were virgins until their wedding night. Gasp! That's crazy! Being a Christian and living it out is now the new different. Seriously. We get more looks walking around as a family of 7 than this guy probably does.

5. One of the difficult things for me as an introvert having 5 kids is the way we are gawked over when we go out. I don't think people are being rude. It's really not them - it's me. I am not comfortable being in the spotlight at all. When we go to a restaurant, I am very aware that people are staring. And our kids are good kids, so people aren't looking because we just brought a bunch of loud, squawking kids in to ruin their nice quiet meal. I don't like eyeballs on me, and it makes me want to go hide in the corner. But you know what? I'm gonna have to get over it. Because that's what happens when you're different - you get looks.

6. We really should carefully consider the version of the Bible we are reading. I mean, this is the Word of God. We put an awful lot of trust in the individual who translates the Word of God for us. Have you ever looked at a verse in the NIV and compared it to, say, the Message Bible? Too often the verse has a whole different meaning to it. The first Bible I ever bought was an Contemporary English Bible. I liked that it used English that was easy for me to understand. I would take it to my Baptist church with me and follow along as the pastor gave his sermon. I was very uncomfortable with the wording used in my Bible compared to the translation he was using. Sometimes it seemed like my translation was saying the opposite of his. The Word of God is Truth. I don't want anyone's interpretation stuck in there ready for me to mistake the author's opinion or interpretation as God's Truth. I'm not saying some of these Bibles aren't a useful way to get a deeper understanding on a particular verse. But don't go all quoting it as if God had said it. This is a good Bible Translations Guide to explain the difference between a translated Bible and one that has the author's interpretation integrated within.

7. Peter started speech therapy this week. He turned two in July, and the pediatrician recommended that we get the state-sponsored child development program to assess his speech (and they decided he needs some help). The therapist comes to our house, and he took right to her. He is using substitution for words (such as snorting instead of speaking a word that he doesn't want to try to say), and he doesn't say the end sounds of words, which seems like all the experts agree could be because he has had ear problems resulting in two sets of tubes so far. The therapist taught me some tactile cues to help him understand some of the sounds he needs to be making. He's already showing signs of learning new sounds, and my husband and I are pretty excited about it! 

Happy Friday!

kristy





Thursday, August 29, 2013

Agápe

Nearly 16 years ago I exchanged marriage vows with my husband. They were traditional vows, promising to love each other no matter what. Yet, I didn't know what love was at that point in my life.

Although I had been a Christian for several years and tried to live my life like Jesus, I bought into the world's view of love. I believed love was more of a give and take. As long as my husband was meeting my needs, I loved him.

We went to a Christian marriage retreat weekend the first year or two of our marriage. The speakers reminded us not to buy into the world's view of marriage. The world's view of marriage is that it should be 50/50 - fifty percent of the love and responsibilities should be covered by the husband and the wife should assume the other fifty percent. The problem with this is that someone will always be coming up short, likely leading each other to frustration and disappointment. Instead, we learned that God calls us to be 100% the spouse that we can be. When we are both giving 100% of ourselves to our spouse, never asking for anything in return, that is when marriage works according to God's plan. This made perfect sense to us, and we tried to live this way in our marriage. Still, I don't think I had opened my heart to the fullness of this message. I understood it in theory, but unfortunately it didn't "click" with me until much, much later.

The world's understanding today seems to be, "as long as my spouse makes me happy, I will love him/her". But this isn't true love at all. At it's very core it is self-seeking. Me, me, me. And a marriage will not work if the object of my love is me.

I've been reading Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West. This is crazy good stuff (and from the title it apparently gets even deeper after you've grasped the "beginner" part!) West describes how original sin twisted our hearts and the focus of our love. God made Adam in his image. God is self-giving, so Adam was designed to give himself to another human being. Yet Adam had no other human to whom he could give himself. So God made Eve. Adam and Eve were made naked and were not ashamed. Their passion for each other was pure and mirrored God's perfect love. They gave themselves freely to each other. Along came sin, and they immediately covered their bodies. Their nature and hearts had changed. They went from self-giving to self-seeking. Instinctively they knew they could be used as objects, and they had to cover themselves to protect themselves from being used and hurt.

I was self-seeking in my marriage. I wanted it to please me, to make me happy. I got married for my "happily ever after". One day God revealed to me that my life was not meant to just be about me, me, me. If I were to truly live out the way I was designed to live, I must give, give and give of myself. Jesus gave himself fully to us in his Passion. We beat him. We mocked him. We betrayed him. But he loved us anyways. Not only is his Love patient and kind and gentle, but it also is perfect in giving no matter what.

I am called to love like Christ. Once I allowed this reality of what true Love is, I became a better wife and a better mother and better person. My attempts to love are not perfect by any means. Loving by giving of myself is one of the hardest things for me to do. When it's late in the evening and I've finally sat down after a day full of chores, my body aching for some rest, and one of the little guys asks for some milk - love gets back up out of the oh-so-comfy chair and gets the glass of milk for my son. When my husband and I have a disagreement, love doesn't insist on being right. Love embraces humility and gives from the innermost depth of ourselves. Love does for others instead of taking from others.

What would Love do? It's not easy, but then again being a slave to self-seeking desires is a prison in and of itself. So it's not easy, but it brings peace and joy that we were intended for.

kristy

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

we all need baptism, including infants

Infant baptism was not one of the big doctrines that lead me to the Catholic Church. I focused on studying theology on things like apostolic succession, visible unity of the church, sacred Tradition, the papacy, and the Eucharist. Once I had these things settled in my mind and my heart - once I saw that Catholicism lined up with Scripture more than any Protestant denomination I had ever been a part of, I looked into things like baptism, prayer of the saints, and contraception (just to name a few). But no Protestant ever asks me about apostolic succession or visible unity of the church or even the Eucharist. I can understand why - as a Protestant I never even heard of these things much less considered them very important. When I'd be in a group talking about the anti-Bibleness of the Catholic Church, people always brought up infant baptism and prayers to the saints. Oh, and Mary worship (which is feels odd to even write this because Catholics don't worship Mary). Now as a convert, infant baptism is often the thing I get questioned about the most.

Baptism was not a big deal to me before. I believed that the Catholic Church relied on this man-made tradition of baptizing infants because they were backwards and never thought it fully out - that Catholics were just mindless sheep doing what they were told to do and never reading the Bible to find out what it actually said about needing to be of an accountable age before you can be baptized. (What I didn't realize is that there was no verse about being at an accountable age before deciding to be baptized.)

When I was learning to evangelize, one of the arguments we prepared for non-believers went something like this, "If I'm wrong about my belief in God, what's the worst that will happen to me? I will have lived a life of love and charity the best I could and then I die and get buried and that's the end of that. But what if you're wrong?" The implication was that if the non-believer was wrong about the good news of the Gospel not being true, well then he was going to have hell to pay for being wrong. This argument was not used to scare people into believing in Jesus, but rather as a way to spur them to some deep thinking on the solidity of their beliefs about truth. The same question rang through my mind when I didn't believe in baptizing infants. What if I'm wrong? As any other parent, my children are precious, priceless gifts to me. The answer to "What if I'm wrong about not baptizing infants?" scared me enough that I wanted to know the other side of the argument to see if truth was there.


This isn't my baby, but it looks just like my Zoë
Catholics aren't the only ones who believe infants should be baptized. There are many Protestant faith traditions that believe in infant baptism - Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopal/Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Reformed Christian churches all believe in infant baptism. Of the 800 million Protestant Christians in the world, at least 540 million believe in infant baptism, or 68% of Protestants. Take the entire world of Christianity into consideration - Catholic and non-Catholic - at least 87% of Christians believe in infants baptism. (I came up with these calculations using Wikipedia's number of Christians by faith tradition.) This of course doesn't mean that majority rules. But it is at least worth mentioning. If you are in the 13% minority who do not believe infants should be baptized, do you feel you have some sound evidence to take this position?

Baptism is not optional for salvation. The Bible stresses in verse after verse the necessity of baptism for salvation. In John 3:5 Jesus says, "Verily verily I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." Mark 16:16 says "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he that does not believe will be condemned." 1 Peter 3:21 says baptism saves a person "this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus." Peter insists baptism is integral in salvation in Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Acts 22:16 "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." In fact, in every instance in the Bible where people learn about Jesus, they are immediately baptized. It wasn't optional.



We are all born with original sin. We can't help it. We inherited our sinful nature from our parents, Adam and Eve. Psalm 51:5 says, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Ephesians 2:3 says that we're "by nature all children of wrath". Jesus says in John 3:6 that "Flesh gives birth to flesh." We were stained with sin from the beginning. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 says "death came through a man (Adam)...For as in Adam all die..." Without salvation, our sinful nature inherited from our first parents is a death sentence. It's a death sentence as soon as we enter the earth. Babies need forgiveness. They need it at birth.

The Bible does not exclude infants from the promise of baptism. The objection that is often brought up against infant baptism is that there is no reference to an infant being baptized in the Bible. However, there is no objection to infant baptism in the Bible, either. So if we are to discuss infant baptism, we have to agree that the Bible does not spell out the words "thou shalt not baptize thy infants". Actually the Bible has several verses that show that baptism was not restricted to adults. In Acts 2:38 Peter commands, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Then in 39 he says (emphasis mine) "This promise is for you and your children..." Jesus himself did not turn away infants when they were brought to Him. In Luke 18:15-16 people brought their infants to Jesus and when the disciples saw this they rebuked the people for bringing their infants (after all, the infants cannot themselves make the decision for Jesus). Jesus corrects them instead welcomes the infants of believers into the kingdom of God, "Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such in the kingdom of God." In 1 Corinthians 1:16 Paul says that he baptized the household of Stephanas. 

Jesus instructs the disciples in Matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The term "all nations" has always been understood by Church fathers to exclude infants mean everyone. The promise does not leave infants out.

Baptism is to the New Covenant what circumcision was in the Old Covenant. In Colossians 2:11-12 Paul equates baptism with the old circumcision, saying, "you yourself were circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands, by putting of the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism..." Christians have no need for physical circumcision.  They have already received that inward circumcision, that spiritual cleansing of the heart, that is effected by the Holy Spirit, given to us in baptism.

Circumcision under the Abrahamic covenant was applied to infants on the basis of parental faith. Galatians 3:29 says "if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." We've already seen how Paul explains that baptism is the fulfillment of circumcision. 

Now, imagine a father who was Jewish and newly converted to Christianity in 70 A.D. He brings his baby to be included in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the covenant of his father Abraham. Do you think the Apostles would have turned away his baby because his baby could not choose Christ for himself? Of course not! If it were so, then the man would have been turned off by the new covenant, which was preached as a fulfillment of - as better than - the old. Infants were included in the old covenant. They are not to be turned away in the new covenant, which is a better covenant than the old.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not claiming that baptism alone will save someone. But it is necessary.

Baptism is a sacrament, which means it is  given to us by Jesus to give us a powerful grace in our lives. Remember, it is only by God's grace that any of us have faith, adult or child or infant. And for an adult or an infant, faith should grow after baptism. The faith required for baptism is not a perfect and mature faith. 

I hope I've at least spurred an interest in some to investigate further into the theology behind infant baptism. If I'm wrong that infant baptism is right and true (I don't believe I'm wrong, but let's just ask for argument's sake), what's the worst that would happen? But if you believe it's wrong to baptize infants, what if you're wrong?

And here's a little completely interesting fact. Do you know how Catholics dip their finger in holy water when they enter and leave church? There's meaning behind it! It's to remind us of our baptism! I get sooooo excited about this. I love the opportunity to relive, in a way, my baptism each and every time I go to church and to remind myself that I am His.

Some additional resources: 

http://www.scripturecatholic.com/baptism.html

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/infant-baptism

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm

And, of course the CCC (with Bible references) - start in the section called "The Sacraments of Christian Initiation."

Kyrie, eleison
Christe, eleison
Kyrie, eleison

Friday, August 16, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (#2)



Is it Friday already? I can't believe I made it through the week!

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. We started football practices this week with my sons. Todd is in tackle football for the first time this year, and Eli is still in flag. There is something about that first tackle practice that was like my son crossed over to the journey of becoming a man. He had to eat a piece of humble pie and do 5 push-ups when he fumbled a ball. During his first practice. He was pretty upset, and he was ready to quit football. But now he has had three practices, and he loves football. I LOVE football, too, so I can't wait to watch their games.

2. I spent a little time eating some humble pie this week myself. Or conviction pie. Either way, it was hard to swallow but I know it will be good in the end.

3. My 4-year old, Isaac, enjoyed a home visit from his pre-K teacher this week. We had to switch preschools this year because our Catholic school shut down in May, and he went to preschool there last year. I am very impressed with this new preschool so far, and I'm really impressed they do a home visit before school starts up in September. At the end of her visit, his teacher, Miss Linda, asked me a few questions about Isaac, including if Isaac had any fears she should know about. Isaac spoke up and told her that he is afraid of the dark and...something else. He acted like he was nervous about this "something else". He finally told her. He is afraid of getting a swirly. She acted like she didn't know what that was, so he explained his understanding of a swirly (which originally came from his older two brothers). "It's when someone sticks your face in the toilet and flushes the toilet and then poops on your head." Unfortunately I couldn't find a table to hide under. And just for the record - he's never had a swirly.

4. Indiana is withdrawing from Common Core! I am so relieved that we won't have to go to D.C. if we don't like what our kids are being taught. Other states are starting to withdrawal, too. Subsidiarity wins, thank God!

5. This video is powerful. Watch the whole video beginning to end. It is amazing to see the change in the countenance of the people being interviewed when they start to realize the state of their souls and their need for a savior.

I used to think there were two kinds of people in the world - those who believe God exists and those who don't believe God exists. But there are probably people who believe there is a God and don't want to admit it because then they'd have to give up their will...they don't believe the promise of the gift of joy in following God. 

6. There was a horrible crime committed against a newborn this week. A woman went into a Kohl's bathroom and gave birth to her child then intentionally murdered it. She was eventually caught and arrested and when she was charged with the crime she had no expression on her face. I cannot believe that a woman could have a child - flesh of her flesh - come out of her and then murder it. It is so dark and twisted. This is a bi-product of abortion, of course. Abortion has devalued the preciousness of human life. Kyrie, eleison!

7. I can't leave on that note. I miss the 80's. Now worries, by the looks of the fashions today, the 80's are making a big comeback. Here is an old classic. "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister. "Kyrie, eleison" is Greek for "Lord, have mercy". Enjoy!



Lyrics:

Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I'm going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I'm going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

Thursday, August 15, 2013

the Assumption of Mary - is it Biblical?

Marian doctrines take me a looooooong time to wrap my head around. This post at the Archdiocese of Washington is really, really clear and concise and helped me a little further along in my faith walk today.

If God assumed Enoch and Elijah into Heaven, why is it so difficult to believe He would do any less for the mother of his son? "All generations will call me blessed." (Luke 1:48)

We can all have the hope that we will one day be body and soul united in Heaven, just as Jesus did for his mother! Because He is good and loving and merciful. 

Glory to God!

kristy

Friday, August 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (#1)



Thanks to Jen for hosting 7 Quick Takes. I'm excited to join in the fun today!

Protestants struggling to keep Millennials in church. son lays prostate with his priest father. Awesomely funny blog: Momma Knows, Honeychild. New school starts for the older two boys. Jim Gaffigan quote. Thoughts on "sending positive thoughts your way". Pat Robertson devalues the lives of poor children (who are also blessings from God in my Bible!)

1. A message I keep seeing recurring in the evangelical Christian world is that the flashy mega churches aren't working. Sure, they might be bringing people in the doors with their concert-style "sanctuaries" and night club-style worship services and casual lobbies, but what they are teaching people isn't sticking. The youth are falling away at higher and higher numbers. Once they leave their homes and go out on their own, they leave God, too. The Washington Post ran an interesting article about this frightening trend. The author points out that the effort to make Christianity "cool" is not making disciples.

The part that struck me most from the article was the summary in the last paragraph (my emphasis in bold):
As a Millennial, if I’m truly honest with myself, what I really need from the church is not another yes-man entity enabling my hubris and giving me what I want. Rather, what I need is something bigger than me, older than me, bound by a truth that transcends me and a story that will outlast me; basically, something that doesn’t change to fit me and my whims, but changes me to be the Christ-like person I was created to be.
Folks, this is the Catholic Church that people are longing for, and this is why 18 to 30-years olds are converting to Catholicism more now than ever before. They crave the Truth of Jesus that was given to us by Jesus 2,000 years ago and that will not change - cannot change - to fit the world's fleeting whims and trends.

2. I saw this article about Father Patrick Allen, who is the second Episcopal priest in South Carolina to join the Catholic Church through the Anglican ordinariate. The picture of him laying prostate with his son beside him really really blessed me.


I think I need to lay prostate before the Lord. And not because I have five kids who exhaust me most days. Can laity just go and lay prostate before the Lord? Someone who is Catholic - please tell me! I need this!

3. So one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Fulwiler, let her readers in on a little gem-of-a-blog called "Mama Knows, Honeychild" Now I have added Heather to my list of favorite bloggers! I read through some of her posts yesterday and I was laughing so hard that I was crying. I even lost my breath and worried for a couple of seconds that my lungs weren't going to be able to inhale. I worried I would die from laughing. Literally. "Warm It Up" especially hit me hard. I cannot tell you how many times we've sat our hineys on the couch and ate fattening snacks while "getting inspired" by watching the "The Biggest Loser". So I knew by the first picture of the blog it was going to be something I could relate to.

4. My sons' Catholic school shut down last year (don't want to talk about it - makes me too sad), so they have started their new school and have been there for a week. It's the closest public elementary school to our house, and we had heard great things about it. So far I've been thrilled about it. And my sons are adjusting pretty well considering. My oldest son says that everyone there is really nice (big sigh of relief for a momma!) I have mixed feelings - super happy about the school, super sad that they don't pray or learn about Jesus during their school day.

5. My new favorite comedian is Jim Gaffigan. Our pediatrician told me about him because he has five kids. I looked him up on the internet, and really liked his acts. He's come out with a new book, My Dad is Fat, and I love that he is bringing attention to the crazy wonderful that comes with a big family. After all, what is the point if you can't laugh (hysterically) at yourself? Here's quote from Jim Gaffigan that I love (emphasis mine): 
“I watch the faces of single people in their twenties after I bring up that I ‘have children.’ I imagine them taking a small step backward as if to avoid contagion, with a look of ‘Sorry to hear that’ on their face. Like I naively volunteered to contract leprosy, forever quarantining myself from the world of having fun by having children.  Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat. Well, it depends on how much hair.”
He gets it.

6. One comment I see over and over on Facebook from my non-Christian friends is something like "sending positive thoughts your way!" This is mostly used to try to comfort others who may have posted that they are having a difficult time with this or that in life. I asked the question, what does this phrase mean? How does one send positive thoughts to another person in such a way that it would benefit the other person? I got all kinds of answers. One person even equated it to telepathy. Someone said I was over thinking the phrase (which is probably true, and as a real nerd I have to over think everything). It seems to me it is just a phrase that people say to say something nice, but it doesn't have any power behind it. I think it is interesting the lengths the world will take to sound like Christianity, but with all fluff and no power. As for me, if I am having a hard time in life, please pray for me. I would appreciate to know that you're thinking about me, but that doesn't really help me with my problem, does it?

7. Boy, Pat Robertson made a lot of people mad this week by insulting the dignity of poor children and taking a dump on the value of their lives (not to mention fanning the flame that is the division between Catholicism and Protestantism). If you didn't catch what he said on his program about birth control and ragamuffin kids, you can catch it here. It is hugely offensive what he said about God-given life, and many people have pointed that out. I'd like to point out something else he did that is anti-Protestantism in a big way. When I was an evangelical Protestant, what your pastor preached was a big deal. He's your pastor, he's your shepherd charged with guiding you through this earthly life. So this woman who wrote to Pat Robinson says her pastor taught that contraception is a sin against God (which it is). And Pat Robertson trumped her pastor and said he was wrong and he didn't even give any Bible verses to back it up. Didn't Pat Robertson just make himself the pope of the Protestants? I mean, who gave him the authority to trump a pastor? Furthermore, what version of the Bible he is getting his answer from? I think Pat Robertson thinks too highly of himself and needs to get his brain back in the Word of God. Division within Christianity makes me ill (and was one of the things that lead me to the Catholic Church), and he is promoting division, he is promoting the killing of children for the idol of self. Maybe he should read Jim Gaffigan's book.


Monday, August 5, 2013

dreams waking up (a.k.a. my conversion story)


My journey back to the Catholic Church started in mid-2008, although I had no idea at the time that the Catholic Church is where my journey would lead me. That isn't to say there weren't seeds planted before then, but the seeds began to take root when a popular flamboyant preacher named Todd Bentley gained popularity within the Pentecostal faith traditions. This tattooed preacher was seen as a fresh breath of air, with his unconventional and theatrical style. He was asked to lead the Lakeland, Florida Revival for one week. The revival became a phenomenon that lasted much longer than one week, and Pentecostal Christians all over the country were buzzing about the rock-star style revival meetings. The meetings aired on GOD TV, and there were numerous healings claimed by the evangelist.

Some Pentecostals we knew were head over heels excited about what God was doing through Todd Bentley. Others were cautiously optimistic and dove into their Bibles to verify what was happening on the TV screens wasn't in conflict with the Word of God. Generally, my experience was that those who dove into their Bibles to check the revival came to the same conclusion - this guy doesn't jive with Scripture.

Still others that we frequently talked to and greatly respected couldn't stop talking about how everything that was happening at the Lakeland Revival was amazing. So we were sort of left scratching our heads. My husband watched several of the revival meetings on TV to see for himself. He prayed and watched. His report to me, his feelings toward what he had witnessed - this cannot be of God. It's a fraud.

We waited and watched. In August 2008 it came out that Todd Bentley had an affair on his wife, his marriage was ended in divorce. The Lakeland Revival meetings ended and when the truth came out, guess what? It was all about money the whole. The whole thing was a sham.

My husband and I were greatly bothered by the stark disagreements of the two camps of people we talked to - those who were "all in" on the goings on at the Lakeland Revival - even after the thing came to a screetching halt - and those who saw the Lakeland Revivals and Todd Bentley for what is was - a wolf in sheep's clothing. Or in this case a rock-star's clothing.

God, this can't be what you have for your church. There must be truth out there somewhere that doesn't contradict itself from one day to another.

We prayed together, "Lord show us your will for your church. We are open to anything outside of our current experiences. We just want something real."

We asked ourselves - why do we believe what we believe? Because of what we were taught growing up? What if those over us while we were growing up were wrong? There are many different denominations that we've never looked into; what if one of those denominations were more accurately teaching truth and we never knew it just because we were taught that our denomination - or lack of denomination as sometimes had been the case in our lives - was the correct one? What if the people teaching us that our denomination was correct...were wrong? What if Methodists interpreted the Bible more accurately and we just never knew it because we were never taught what the Methodist faith taught? Or Baptist? Or Church of Christ? Or something else?

We were attending a wonderful small Assemblies of God church with wonderful people. I mean wonderful in the kind of authentic Christ-like mercy-giving loving kind of people that we never wanted to think about leaving. But what if the Assemblies of God church wasn't what God wanted His church to be? Which church should we look at first? I mean, as we would soon find out in one History Channel program, there are 8,000 Protestant denominations. I don't have the ability to research 8,000 different sets of beliefs. My mind was spinning.

My husband had an idea. To find out what God wanted for His church, my husband would look back at the beginning...before Jesus was born, died and resurrected...he would study Judaism to find out what the earliest church would have been like. But it had to be Orthodox Judaism, as Reform and Conservative Judaism seemed to be evolutions of the Judaism that would have been on Earth 2,000 years ago. 

I wasn't quite convinced my husband's idea would work, but I didn't have any plan at all as to how I would look into 8,000 different Protestant faiths, so going back to the beginning - way before 8,000 Protestant denominations came about - sounded like an acceptable plan. I went through a kind of burned out period where - although I loved Jesus - I was feeling disillusioned by all of the divisions within Christianity. God, isn't your Truth out there somewhere?

So my husband turned started attending Orthodox Jewish services. It turns out an Orthodox Jewish service is about 3 hours long. I was pregnant with our third son, and a three-hour long service did not sound like the kind of research I was up for. So he went alone. He loved it. He soaked it in. He was excited about everything he learned. He started going to daily morning prayer services whenever he could find time in his schedule. People thought he was crazy, but we were OK with it. We knew the unsettled feeling we were dealing with, and we were OK with crazy for a while if it meant finding God's true desire for His church.

Now, my husband wasn't interested in denying Christ at all, so he took the knowledge he found to look for something similar in Christianity. Maybe it was the Messianic Judaism movement? We went to a couple of Messianic Judaism services. They were...long. And too many things just didn't add up to me. It just seemed like another Protestant division denomination to me. I couldn't see how something that started as a movement 30 years ago could be anything remotely similar to what God's church was like 2,000 years ago. Plus, in the Messianic Judaism services we went to, we never met anyone who had actually been to a Jewish synagogue. It was almost like they were making it up as they went and trying to base things on what someone told them happens in a Jewish synagogue service. 

All this time my husband would go and spend three hours every Saturday morning at the only Orthodox Jewish synagogue in our area. He begged me and begged me to go. In December 2008 I finally agreed to endure the three-hour long service with him one Saturday. I dragged my month-and-a-half-away-from-delivery butt over to the synagogue to please my husband. I didn't think anything would come out of it except maybe getting the best wife in the world medal for a day.

What I experienced made my palms sweaty and and heart race. What I saw was very...Catholic...except without Jesus. From the prayer book to the tabernacle to the chanting to the singing of the Psalms even to what the leader of the service was wearing and the way he kept bowing at the altar and the way the leader and the others read written prayers - it was more like what I remembered from my childhood days in a Catholic Church than any Protestant church I had ever been in.

No. Not the Catholic Church. I'm sure truth couldn't possibly be in the...but what if...

No. I was sure that's not what God is showing me. I started to look into what the Catholic Church taught. And it made sense. A lot of it was difficult for me to understand right away. I had to mentally chew on it. And I would get these moments of repulsion at the very thought of considering that the Catholic Church most accurately contained the truth that God wanted for His people. (I had, after all, very thorough and deep training in anti-Catholicism since becoming Protestant at age 15. And we were still fresh in the news of the priest sex scandals.) I even looked into the Lutheran church, since it was a direct shoot off of the Catholic Church and was very similar in liturgy and doctrine. So if it were a directly branch off of the Catholic Church, I thought, then it would be most like the original thing - sort of like a copy from an original is less contaminated than a copy from a copy from a copy from a copy...

I had a dream one night. I can't remember any of the dream except this - a Bible opened up in front of me, and there was such an amazing light and the most wonderful colors that you could ever imagine beaming out of the pages of the Bible. And there was such a joy and peace that only comes from knowing God and His holy Word. I knew during the dream that God was trying to tell me that there is more in His Word than we will ever be able to comprehend with our natural minds. That's what the incredible colors beaming out of the pages represented - all that God has for us in the Bible that we cannot fathom.

It's funny when you have a dream like that. There was such a joy and excitement in my heart and I tried to tell a few people about the dream only to get a nice smile from them and a, "that's nice, dear" response. But I knew the dream was a promise from God that He had more for me. More for us.

I kid you not - becoming Catholic has made that dream of Biblical awesomeness come alive to me. I never even knew the Catholic Church believed in the Bible. It's true! I thought the Catholic Church didn't want its laity reading the Bible. It was a lie told to me years ago and I believed it. The Bible brought me home to the Catholic Church. Apostolic succession, the papacy, their view of marriage (it's deeper than any Protestant has ever been able to explain to me) as a sacrament, confession (yes - confession!), visible unity of believers (a.k.a. the Jesus' church being ONE as opposed to 8,000 divisions), and the Eucharist (this is where I give a big shout out to John 6 - why had I never seen that whole chapter before?!), oh the Eucharist! It turns out 

(And have I mentioned - the Catholic Church doesn't teach that a person can go to Heaven by works!)

I'm not Catholic because of RELIGION!
I'm not Catholic because of old family ties.
I'm not Catholic because I went through a difficult time and "lost my faith" along the way.
I'm Catholic because God's grace touched my heart and opened the Bible up in a way that had never happened before.
I'm Catholic because of the Bible.
(Just in case anyone had to stand on their head backwards to not read that last statement I'll say it again.)
I'm Catholic because of the Bible!

I often imagine what people think of my conversion. I know the mindset I was in before. I would've thought someone who converted to Catholicism just didn't understand the love God had for them and the freedom from religion that His love provided. "Religion" had become a dirty word in our faith circles. It implied a faith void of any relationship with God, only rules and rituals. Mostly the word "religion" referred to Catholicism when I thought of it in a negative sense. But that's not at all what has happened to me. My relationship with Jesus has amplified since becoming Catholic. I know this is such an oxymoron to many.

I guess I can be thankful that Todd Bentley ignited a fire within me for my faith. I have been through a revival of my spirit through the washing of the Word. And I will never be the same again.

To God be the glory!

kristy