Christians: Mirrors can make harsh friends!

Christians: Mirrors can make harsh friends!

Dear Readers,

Most people tend to see their own image in mirrors multiple times each day. We often feel a sense of dissatisfaction with our reflected selves–we’re too heavy, too thin, not enough hair, too much hair, not enough makeup, too much makeup, wrinkles creeping across our face, and bags under our eyes. To one degree or another, most of us do this dance with the mirror at the start and end of every day.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and contemplated the state of your soul? Behind the everyday view of our face and bodies lies our soul. We can’t see it, though for those of faith we know it’s there and we know it is the animating force of our lives. Do you ever wonder what our soul would look like in that same mirror? Would it have an angelic appearance, or would it come closer to an image of Marley’s Ghost from, “A Christmas Carol?”

We each sin, it’s not a maybe or an if, it’s a spiritual truth that we all sin. Do we carry those sins through our lives, allowing them to weigh down our souls with chains we can’t see in the mirror’s reflected image? If we were able to use a mirror to look at the state of our souls, what would we see? Would you want to see the state of your soul if you could?

This is the time of year for contemplating such critical issues. With Christmas a scant three weeks away, perhaps it’s time we clean our spiritual houses. For Catholics, that is best done by going to a Priest for Confession, after which our souls are cleaned of all sins, and we are restored to a right relationship with God. This takes a genuinely repentant heart (which entails an authentic turning away from the sins in question).

How different would the world be if people repented and worried more about the state of their soul, than of the state of their everyday appearance?

I’d love to know what you think of this post, submit comments in the box below. You can subscribe to my email list (below), and follow me on Twitter:

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T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

About those Dogs and Cats

About those Dogs and Cats


Dear Readers,

Most of us love our animals, and we welcome them into our lives. Dogs and cats hold a warm place in the hearts of many, and for good reasons. Our pets are fun, and can often help a lonely or pain-wracked heart. There is no doubt that our pets are gifts from God.

Yet, our pets remain animals, no matter how we think of them. They are adopted members of our families only because we choose to make them so, but they are not truly members of our families–we are humans, they are animals. A recent trend tends to eliminate the lines between humans and animals, and it is a line I believe should remain in-place. Consider the following phrases (spoken to or about) regarding pets:

— “Oh, there’s my baby.”

— “My little man, or little lady.”

— “Where’s your daddy?”

— “Mom will be home soon.”

— “We are babysitting our grand-dog or grand-puppy.”

— The list goes on and on. Insert your own commonly used phrase here.

It should be needless to say this, yet dogs/cats are not our babies, and we are not their parents or grandparents. They are not little men or little ladies. They are dogs and cats with animal DNA and animal instincts.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I care about such things, and in general, I don’t care much about what names or attributions people give their pets. For a long time pet owners have dressed and coddled their dogs and cats, and I honestly didn’t care. However, there does seem to be a sharp trend toward humanizing our pets, and that troubles me. We already see fewer marriages, and many of the couples who do marry are having fewer children. It seems as if for many, pets are replacing real people. Billions are spent every year, and pet parks are being built in cities and suburbs, with owners frequently speaking in human terms regarding taking their pets (animals) to the local pet park — such conversations and terms used to be reserved for human babies and children (a troubling trend indeed).

Why does it matter? As I stated above, I believe pets are a gift from God, and I’ve always been a dog person; however, the phrases and terms we use matter. By referring to our pets in human terms, we are blending the reality of being a human, and we are doing an injustice to what God has made. We (humans) carry the image and likeness of God, it is a special and singular gift given to humans, and nothing else around us holds that gift.

During a season in which we celebrate the birth of our Savior (a divine and human baby in a manger), perhaps we can begin to place our pets in proper perspective.

I’d love to know what you think of the article, post comments in the box below. You can subscribe to my email list (below), and follow me on Twitter:

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T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think of this Prophecy?

What do you think of this Prophecy?

Dear Readers,

I would like to know what you think of the prophecy below. It was given (in 1976) by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, and who is now Saint Pope John Paul II. It appears to be a direct statement about the times in which we live. Please leave your comments (below) so we can discuss.

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.”

[http://www.catholic.org/news/national/story.php?id=57376]

Take note the Saint pointed his remarks at American Society, and the wider Christian community. So, what does it mean to you? How should we respond to these warnings?

Thanks for reading,

T.P. Johnson

 

Christmas – Shopping – A different View (Redux)

Christmas – Shopping – A different View (Redux)

Every year as we journey through the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas, many lament the significant commercial aspects of Christmas in our modern and fast-paced culture. Those people are well-intentioned and make a sound point that the primary focus for Christians should shine on the birth of Jesus, and less on the drive for purchasing presents. Yet, I feel some of those opponents of the gift giving season might be a bit unwilling to see the matter in a different light.

We should strive to give gifts from a place of love and not as an obligation; however, we must not denigrate even those gifts given from a sense of duty, because whenever we fulfill a thoughtful responsibility, we are doing good. Let us not forget that for Christians (and indeed the full world), the reality of Christmas is a joyous occasion—for it was the birth of Christ that gives everyone the hope of salvation and eternal life. Christmas Day is one of the highest feast days in the Church calendar, and for a good reason, it is the day we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. It is good to remember that feast days are cause for celebration—the Church advises us to treat these days as times of joy.

Many Christians who set out to defened gift giving will point to the three wise men and the presents they brought to the new born king (expensive gifts) of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and while that does help provide a sound foundation for giving during Christmas time, the greater reason is that giving in nearly all forms results in many blessings. The gift-giver is blessed, as well as the recipients, the stores, the various companies making the many items we purchase, along with the people who work at jobs where their income originates from such consumptions. Furthermore, families are blessed and enriched because of the exchange of gifts, they are often drawn closer during those days, and the funds to pay for their homes, and all their other goods often exist because of the rich tradition our culture enjoys during the most festive time of year. How can anyone reject so much goodness?

None of this is meant to imply that we shouldn’t slow down during the Advent Season. It’s wise to set aside time for prayer and contemplation of the most cherished gift we have ever received, and that is the birth of our Lord. The nation would be well served if more Christians took just a little time for Jesus during this joyous and holy time, each year. Those who feel stressed when attempting to purchase every present on their various lists might benefit the most from some prayerful downtime. However, let us not forget how blessed we are to have a savior born to the world, and let us not feel ashamed to celebrate that event through the channel of gift giving that has such a long and joyous history. It is through giving that we are richly blessed, at Christmas, or at any other time of year.

Perhaps, when you feel the most strained during Christmas Season, it would be wise to take a few minutes to ask the Lord for His Grace to help lift your spirits, and it might offer a fantastic opportunity to do something kind for those around you—a smile, a door held open, a helping hand to someone with many packages. The well-timed small gesture can often raise the spirits of those around us, and kind acts often lift our own.

Opportunities to learn about various acts of darkness surrounds us on an almost daily basis. In response to that reality, it is wise to bring as much light and goodness into the world as we can; therefore, I say go ahead and joyously purchase gifts for those you love and allow yourself to feel the happiness that fills the season. Help bring light into the world by embracing the traditions of the season—it is a time to banish darkness from our lives and embrace the hope that the birth of Jesus brings. Go ahead, ignore all the naysayers and all the Santa bashers–be corny and joyful, be different, and dare to be happy! 🙂

T.P. Johnson

Catholics: Are you a “Fool” for Christ?

Catholics: Are you a “Fool” for Christ?

Dear Readers,

I ran across an article that really hits home about the reality of Christianity, and I thought it would be good to pass it along. The general basis of the piece centers are a clear choice, will we be fools for Christ, or will we choose to be fools for the world? Please go to the link below:

http://spiritdaily.org/blog/inspiration/heed-not-the-bell-on-wall-street

I hope you find the piece productive.

I’d love to know what you think of the article, post comments in the box below. You can subscribe to my email list (below), and follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

New Release – Releasing Kailyn a Novella Part One

New Release – Releasing Kailyn a Novella Part One

 

Dear Readers,

My newest release is now available in PRINT and KINDLE format at Amazon. CLICK HERE, to get a copy.

This latest work represents a different path for me since until now I have written full length books in fiction and non-fiction. This first part of, Releasing Kailyn, is a romantic novella and is approximately 20,000 words long, which is about one-quarter a full novel; however, this story will contain at least four parts. I plan to release a new part every 2-3 months, so watch for the next novella in the series. Here is the story description:

They had everything, education, productive careers, and an unshakeable love for each other, but then…

Aaron and Kailyn, married with a beautiful home in Oak Valley, Illinois, and deeply in-love, knew they had a bright future stretching out before them. They set out on a drive to the Rocky Mountains for a short vacation, alone.

Not long after a casual stop for donuts and coffee, and having made a quick stop at a high rest area among the peaks, everything changed for them, forever.

RELEASING KAILYN is a story of pain and recovery steeped in emotion born of a life changing event.

 

Please post a five-star review online. Word-of-mouth remains one of the best methods to gain readers—if you enjoy this story, please let people know about it.

I’d love to know what you think of this first part, post comments in the box below, and online. You can subscribe to my email (below), and follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full print cover for upcoming novella release!

Full print cover for upcoming novella release!

Dear Readers,

This novella represents a different path for me since up until now I have written full length books in fiction and non-fiction. This first part of, Releasing Kailyn, is approximately 20,000 words long, which is about one-quarter to one-fifth the length of a full novel; however, this story will contain at least four parts, which will bring the total to 80,000 words or higher. Here is the rear cover description:

Aaron and Kailyn, young, married, and deeply in-love, knew they had bright futures stretching out before them. They set out on a drive to the Rocky Mountains for a short vacation, alone. Not long after a casual stop for donuts and coffee, and having made a quick stop at a high rest area among the peaks, everything changed for them, forever.

The book will release within a week on Amazon in print and Kindle formats, soon after, it will be available at Barnes & Noble in print and Nook formats. Please watch for new blog posts announcing the actual release.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
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T.P. Johnson

 

New Release – Gospel of Matthew Young Adult Version

New Release – Gospel of Matthew Young Adult Version

Now available at Amazon in print workbook (8.5″ X 11″) format:

JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW – FOR YOUNG ADULTS.

Book description:

In this world, spiritual restoration cannot take place without young adults rising to help the Lord renew the face of the world. The youth of our world play a vital role in God’s plan; the Lord calls them to learn and grow in faith so they will have a profound and lasting impact on the world around them.

This study is intended for use by parish-level Bible study groups (though it can be used as a personal study as well), and it is specifically targeted to young adults interested in learning about Scripture and about the Roman Catholic faith. There are 15 weekly units taking the studiers through a methodical study of this Gospel, with frequent emphasis placed on various points young Christians can consider as they journey through God’s Word.

Each unit contains sections entitled,  “THOUGHT STOP POINT,” which are intended to help individuals apply their faith to real life and to assist them in finding ways to serve the Lord and His Church.

Formatted in workbook format for weekly use, study units end with nine major questions centering on a given week’s Bible chapters, with extra note space provided for answers. 

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T.P. Johnson

Book sale has ended for, Catholics it is our Fault!

Book sale has ended!


Dear Readers,

Thank you to everyone who purchased the Kindle book while it was on sale. The book rose to 33rd place in my category. Not quite as high as I had hoped for but, still in the top 50. There are some big names in the top 10 of my book’s category, so 33rd isn’t bad. Thanks again. 🙂


My book titled, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT, is no longer on sale. The prices have returned to normal retail levels. You can still get a copy, at regular prices, by CLICKING HERE.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
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Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

The hearty souls of the Midwest (Redux)!

The hearty souls of the Midwest (Redux)!

This is a reposting of an article I published last year. We’re entering the time of year (in the Midwest) during which we often go from summer like temperatures, to vicious cold winds–in a few hours. Yet, take heart ye of the northern climes, we are a hearty lot, so start the process of preparing your minds now because there is merely a month until Thanksgiving.

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T.P. Johnson

This is the time of year when many living in the northern states think of moving south. As the temperatures plummet and the snow piles grow, more-and-more people complain and declare that this will be their last year living in the so-called snow belt. Yet, few move—and the reasons they do not relocate are many; however, the majority living here are hearty souls who enjoy the definite turn of seasons we journey through each year.

As someone living in Chicagoland, I can attest to this truth after living through decades of weather that is always changing. For example, on November 29, 2016, the high temperature was 57 degrees (Fahrenheit), while on December 19, 2016, Chicago experienced wind chills running 77 degrees lower. In the span of a few weeks, Chicagoans went from a beautiful autumn climate to snow and ice filled landscapes shrouded in surface temperatures that plunged to dangerous levels for human skin. Nothing new for us, we experience such changes throughout the year.

Hearty souls!

We fight back against the winter weather every day. We scrape our cars clear of most remnants of the icy proof nature dropped on them. We shovel our sidewalks and drives and salt them to make them safe for us, and for those passing by. When snow hits the region, we enter traffic jams that sometimes can rival those endured in Los Angeles. We buy unique products for all these battles—shovels, snow blowers, salts, winter jackets, gloves, hats, boots, scarves, special windshield washing fluids, ice scrapers and sometimes clear plastic film for our windows to seal out more of the cold. We have fireplaces and furnaces that are kept busy throughout the season, and manufacturers of blankets love us.

Most of us do not flock to the south during the cold months; instead, we go sledding, skiing, ice skating, and play hockey whenever we can. We build snowmen and have snow ball fights. We don’t become shut-ins during the cold months; we embrace the journey.

When big snow falls hit, we prepare our attack on the powdery stuff, plotting where we’ll put all that snow and how we’ll remove the white stuff. With a hot cup of coffee or cocoa in our hands, we watch from a window as the snow falls, making everything become part of a pristine and gorgeous white landscape. When we first step outside after a significant snow, one of the first things we notice is the increased quiet as most sounds are muffled by the blanket of snow. The noises of trucks and cars barely make it to our ears. For those first hours after a strong storm, the sights and sounds are almost majestic.

Hearty souls!

We do this because we love our families and they join us on on our journey. We don’t run away because, despite our complaints and objections, we enjoy the challenge of making it through another winter. There is nothing quite like the onset of spring for those living in Chicagoland (or any of the northern snow zone states). Most years, when March hits and temps raise to the 40s and 50s, smiles cover our faces, and we often reach for a sweater, rather than a jacket. We watch life return through the rains and showers that soon follow—green grass often is the first hints of better weather. Then we see buds on trees and bushes, and soon the region explodes with a visual resurgence of life. The occasional early bee or wasp is seen seeking new nests after their long winter seclusion. Then the sights and sounds of baseball in all its forms surfaces (Little Leagues start practicing, Major Leagues gather in the sun-swept south, and golf courses and public parks prepare for opening).

Hearty souls!

Easter crosses our seasonal path, and we see the spectrum of spring colors filling our churches. It’s an annual awakening that can only be truly appreciated if one endures winter first. Spring, summer, and fall, are nature’s gift to us in the snow zones—and we tend to enjoy the gift of good weather far more than those who are not challenged by temperature drops, snow, and ice. We stuff enjoyment into our calendars with outdoor parties, cooking all manners of foods on grills, creating festivals and carnivals for almost any reason—and we hit the beaches, baseball fields, pools, and golf courses. We know we have limited time to enjoy good weather and we make the most of it, year in and year out.

Hearty souls!

Interestingly, something revealing happens each year when school days’ return, and the first hint of autumn touches our faces—we smile, because by then we’ve had enough of the heat, we are looking forward to a crisp cool day when a sweater feels wonderful, or a blanket wrapped around us gives us just enough warmth while sitting by an outside fire pit. Taking in the incredible colors the fall leaves offer each year becomes a longed-for event. At this point, we are not outside as often as we are in the spring and the summer, but we’re still packing in as many outdoors days as we can by going to the season’s final baseball games, or heading to our favorite high school football game, or taking the big plunge and going to a Bears game.

In many towns across the USA, citizens will enjoy an 80-degree pleasant day, and then the very next day they’ll feel shocked when the mercury plummets two degrees but, in Chicagoland, and places like it, we take 70-80 degree drops in stride—we’re ready for it and we think nothing of it when it happens. In our area, there is a saying, “if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.”

Hearty Souls!

Now to be sure, this is not for everyone, and some do leave the north for warmer southern climates. But there is much to be said for the human need for experiencing something different. Winters can offer quite a challenge but, they also provide a distinct difference in our lives. Few would say weather in Chicago is boring—it keeps us aware and ready, it provides us with a difference.

For all those winter warriors, in Chicagoland, and across the nation—embrace the season because it won’t last. In 2-3 months, we’ll see the first signs of spring and our spirits will soar with all the natural beauty coming to life around us.

Hearty souls indeed!

What do you think? Are snow belt people hearty souls?

T.P. Johnson