First Look New Release Cover

First Look New Release Cover

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 for young adult Catholics who want to learn more about their faith and the Bible while drawing closer to the Lord.

Through 15 weekly study units, T.P. Johnson takes the reader through a methodical study of this great opening Gospel.

The book will be available at Amazon soon and later at Barnes and Noble.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

Why aren’t K-12 Catholic schools full?

Why aren’t K-12 Catholic schools full?


This post will be reasonably short compared to previous articles.

I’m curious, and would like to get some opinions from Catholics. The world today is in a chaotic mess, and many avenues to a sound education are simply not as good as they were in the past, yet Catholic school enrollment is down. I’m wondering what the reasons might be. When considering all objective measures, Catholic schools perform better in every academic category (including, reading, math, and science), and teachers in Catholic schools are able to teach (and openly discuss) the Christian faith. Certainly, cost is a problem for many parents, and yet it seems sacrificing capital to provide a better education is worth the effort.

Even if you don’t care about the faith, Catholic schools have a higher graduation rate, higher college enrollment, and higher scores on all standardized tests. So, what’s the deal? Why aren’t more parents sending their kids to Catholic schools?

This topic is easy to research, yet if you CLICK HERE, you can read one source.

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

My book, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT — 50% off sale!

CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT


Dear Readers,

My book titled, CATHOLICS: IT IS OUR FAULT, is on sale in PRINT format for $7.45 (from $13.99). You can get your copy here: http://amzn.to/2gdd87f

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

Have you ever read Matthew 11:11?

Have you ever read Matthew 11:11?

Have you ever read MATTHEW 11:11? In case you haven’t, here it is:

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. [Matthew 11:11, RSV-CE]

That passage can easily be lost in talks about many of the Lord’s teachings in Matthew’s Gospel. Yet, it is a passage that should give us both great hope and a somber seriousness. We are all born of women; therefore, the passage speaks to everyone on earth. Jesus held John the Baptist in great regard, and despite the Baptist’s lofty place in the Lord’s plans for salvation, Jesus made it quite clear that the very least in Heaven are greater than John. Wow! Truly give that some thought. If someone such as John the Baptist would be the least in Heaven, imagine the wonders and joy we will find there. 

The passage gives us hope because despite the conditions of this world, Heaven will contain none of those painful realities, and even more, life in Heaven will go beyond anything we can imagine.

The passage creates a somber seriousness because it shows us we must make Heaven a true priority if we desire the joy and happiness found there. We cannot receive salvation (Heaven) without faith, and Jesus calls us to follow all that He taught. Isn’t Heaven and eternity worth entering a loving commitment to our Lord?

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson

 

 

 

 

Should we return to weekly faith services? – (part 2 UPDATED)

Should we return to weekly faith services?


Dear Readers,

This is the second part of my piece titled, “Should we return to weekly faith services.” In this article, which starts after the image of the empty pews, I conclude and summarize the points I make for the return to weekly services for all people of faith.

The world, and the USA, are filled with problems and issues (nothing new, there’s always been hard times but, the pace does seem to have quickened in recent years). Do you believe a turning back to God is in order? Speaking as a Roman Catholic, and looking at some quick stats, weekly Catholic Mass attendance in the 1950s was approximately 74%, today that has fallen to 22-25%! Similar numbers are found in non-Catholic churches. Is this massive drop in faith a healthy development? It is easy for a person to say they believe in God, yet do they place their proclaimed faith into practice, or is it simply a moniker many wear but never really pursue?

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading, and please share this work,

T.P. Johnson


I am convinced that the trend of decreasing attendance at weekly worship services is harmful to souls and damaging to our nation. It is important to recall some critical comments made by founders of this country:

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams is a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and our second President.

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

“Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness . . . it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof.” Continental Congress, 1778

George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” 

There exist hundreds of statements by the founders of the United States that make it unequivocally clear that only a religious and moral people can free people remain free (GO HERE).


I now return to the arguments for weekly worship services for all people of faith.

WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?

Let us review the reasons (note: all faiths can create their own lists that should convince its followers) that we have discussed:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular weekly attendance at worship services? If that is the case, than what about attending for the sake of our kids?

As we have covered previously, parents (and especially fathers) have an enormous impact on the faith of their children. If parents neglect their responsibilities to God, it is likely that their children will follow their poor role model. When a father decides to stay home rather than attend faith services with his family, he is providing a behavioral model for his children. That is not a unique situation; it happens every week across the nation. It is not at all hard to see that parents frequently provide contradictory messages to their children. On the one hand, they tell their kids they must attend services; however, on the other hand, they refuse to participate. Their children will look at what they do, not say—they will follow their actions, not their hypocritical words. People need to decide whether handing down their faith to their children is important to them—if it is, they must show the way.

During the early years of growth, children see their fathers as protectors and as people of power and authority—it leaves a lasting impact on children when they regularly see their father kneeling in adoration or prayer to God (they come to understand that if their father is kneeling before the Lord, they should too).

If one believes in God, and follows Christ, then attending Mass (or Church services for non-Catholics) is a Biblically mandated practice that provides the attendees and their children many benefits—not least of which is improved grades in school for their children and an increased likelihood that their children will hold onto the faith when they become adults (GO HERE for research results regarding students grades in school via regular worship attendance).

If the researchers cited above are correct, then it is possible that our children will do better in school if they attend faith services each week. Couple that with the stability, discipline, and faith formation provided by participating on a regular basis, and it seems clear that we are taking a valuable developmental tool away from our children if we do not bring them each week. If you are a parent and reading this, ask yourself: do you strive to ensure your children get to sports practice, while ignoring their faith? Have sports and other worldly activities taken the place of regular worship?

TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD

Let’s review the reasons (for attending services we have discussed so far:

The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…

  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending services for the sake of enjoying time with like-minded people and for the sake of hearing the Word of God in scriptural readings?

People are social in nature and often gain substantial strength from gathering with other people to embolden their faith. Seeing other men and women in similar situations sitting next to us in church is a powerful means to connect with other people and a powerful tool for connecting to the Lord through sharing our faith with the community as a whole. Christ mandates us to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,…” (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). How can we make disciples of all nations if we are not willing to join with our communities in worship every week?

Humans are not created to be alone. In the Genesis account, God stated that it is not good for man to be alone. By attending Mass or faith services we are entering a prayer life united to all those attending, and we are united to Christians and people of faith throughout the world—and, while these statements apply to Catholics and all Christians, the points also apply (in their own way) to people of every faith. If those who came before us did not share their faith, how then would we have come to know the Lord?

There is no doubt that we can, and should, study and learn the truths of scripture at home; however, by gathering together, and by listening to the Priest’s Homily or our Pastor’s Sermon, we are forcing our ears to take in words that we can only read at home. Our lives are often busy, and taking the time to read scripture at home is an activity that many people place way down the list of their priorities; however, as St. Jerome once said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” By attending Mass or church services each week, we are guaranteed to digest at least some of the Holy Scriptures. The Catholic Church urges the faithful to read the Scriptures, and it uses St. Jerome’s statement above in paragraph #133 in the Catechism, as follows: The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

During the early centuries of Christianity, people learned and grew in the faith by hearing the word of God at church and at worship gatherings. There were precious few personal copies of scripture then, and not until the invention of the printing press in AD 1440 did lay Christians have access to copies of the Bible. For more than thirteen centuries, followers learned by hearing, not by reading. Each person learns differently—some read books, some listen to lectures, some learn best by using visual aids, and when we go to church, we often receive all three.

All Christians should regularly study Scripture, and they should balance their reading each week by gathering together with other Christians where they will hear the Scriptures read, and where they will listen to a Homily or Sermon centering on the weekly readings. In the Catholic Church, during every Sunday liturgy, there are four readings from Scripture (OT, Responsorial Psalm, NT, and Gospel). During weekday Masses, there are three readings. Many of the prayers said at Mass are based on Scripture. The Mass itself is based on Scripture, which means that attending Mass is a Biblical function in nearly all ways. The Church follows a three-year cycle for its readings; if a Catholic were to attend Mass every day for three years, they would have heard a majority of passages from the Bible—and that is only at Mass, which can be increased significantly by self-study at home and by joining study parish groups and programs (again, all points made regarding the Catholic faith are important for all people of faith–each major religion has its own sacred texts and rituals).

If one wants to know Christ, they must study His Word and (for Catholics) also receive His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist.

BECAUSE GOD AND THE CHURCH MANDATES ATTENDANCE?

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending because God and the Church mandates a weekly day of worship?

We know that God included the observance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, and we are aware that Christians are not bound to the Law of Moses; however, the Commandments still hold value for all people. For Christians, the commandment to observe the Sabbath was changed to worshipping and gathering together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). For Christians, the Lord’s Day replaces the Sabbath, yet at the same time at least partially fulfills the Sabbath requirement by making attendance mandatory on a weekly basis. The Church, having Divine origins, has received the power to make such pronouncements by Christ Himself:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Matthew 16:13-19 RSV-CE] 

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [Matthew 18:18 RSV-CE]

For Catholics, the passages above are critical. In them, we see the establishment of Simon as the first Pope when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (meaning rock), and then Jesus proclaimed that He (Jesus) would build His Church upon the rock of Peter. Jesus then gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose (later also given to the apostles in general). If you are not Catholic, you will likely see those passages in a different light, yet the overall point still applies to all people of faith – there are central tenets of every religion that followers are called or even mandated to hold.

Recall, also, the first part of these posts and the brief statement on the Sabbath. People of faith should recognize that God is loving and merciful, and He does not give us rules to bind us or control us—the Lord is trying to help us live better lives by following His rules (the Creator certainly knows what is best for His creatures). If you are a parent, you make binding rules for your children, and it is probable that your directions are not meant to be mean or hateful; instead, you are acting as a loving parent by teaching your kids the parameters and realities of life (likewise, God is not mean or hateful by handing down commandments; rather, He is trying to show us a path through life, while also offering a way back to Him).

The power to bind and loose means that Peter received the authority from Christ to make pronouncements within the Church and those decisions are approved or ratified by Heaven. The other apostles also received the power to bind and loose, as we see in the second passage. The office of Pope (Peter was the first) was handed down to his successors.

Receiving the keys means that the recipient received the authority of the person giving the keys (in this case Jesus gave Peter the keys—the Lord gave His authority to Peter in Jesus’ absence). Peter and his successors and the apostles and their successors, received the authority to decide what is permitted and what is forbidden by the Church and faith. The Pope and the Church hold the Christ-given authority to make binding decisions, and one of those decisions has been to shift our weekly worship to Sunday, which makes sense for many reasons, not least of which is that Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. Therefore, God has proclaimed a weekly day of rest and worship, and He extended His authority to the Church, and the Church moved the day for Christians to Sunday, which means we must attend Mass (or church services for non-Catholics) every Sunday and on Holy Days. As state above, this is not for God’s sake, it is for the good of our own souls, for our lives, and the lives of those around us. It is to our spiritual detriment not to listen to what God asks of us. Recall, also, that in truth the Church did not move the Sabbath to Sunday; rather, it moved required worship to Sunday. This is an important distinction since Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, which has always been seen as happening on the third day, Sunday. Therefore, Christians are called to celebrate the New Covenant completed when Christ died. Recall these passages:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. [Acts 20:7 TRSV-CE]

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 RSV-CE]

The early Christians gathered together for worship on Sunday.

FOR OUR FAITH AND BECAUSE WE LOVE GOD?

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
  • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending Mass for the sake of your faith and the love of God?

By developing personal discipline in our walk with Jesus, we draw closer to the Lord. Again, the Lord does not need us to be at church every Sunday; we need to be there. The Sabbath was made for man (man was not made for the Sabbath) and so is worship on Sunday. Likewise, worship of the Lord on Sundays is for our spiritual, moral and life benefit. Each time we gather at Mass and receive the Lord in the Eucharist, we receive Graces for our journey – and this (in different ways) applies to people of all faith.

For most people, attending regular attendance can seem to bear little impact on our lives in an immediate or current sense, yet perseverance is what leads to an increased faith. We receive spiritual fruit and benefits during attendance. Beyond the many gifts we receive, it is always spiritually healthy to recognize our weaknesses before God and to offer God our time as a display of our love and respect for Him—without ever considering what is in it for us. We are blessed with 168 hours of living every week, and God (along with His Church) asks for one of those hours to be spent in worship and that time spent is for our own good (this means God asks for 6/10ths of one-percent of a given week’s time – not so very much if one is honest). Can we not find enough love for God to give Him less than one-percent of our time in love and gratitude for all that He has does for us?

These points hold true when we are on vacation, or if we do not want to attend Mass or church for whatever reason. The obligation to attend Mass or church services every week (and for Catholics also on Holy Days) is not lifted because it’s inconvenient for us to attend. There are ways to find a Mass (or church) close to us that fits whatever scheduling circumstances we might have. Developing a discipline in our spiritual life provides fruit, and it is a sign of love for God that we develop discipline in how we worship Him. When we develop discipline in matters to do with God, that discipline often spills over into our regular lives. Be honest, when you set yourself to wake when the alarm chimes, and you do it, don’t you feel better for that small act? And, if you set out to become more fit, and lose some weight, don’t you feel better for having controlled your innate desires antipathy to exercise? Likewise, when we create discipline to worship God regularly, it feels good, and we experience personal growth for the effort. 

For Catholics, there are internet sites (GO HERE) that contain Mass, Confession, and Adoration times that can be used when we take trips for business or pleasure and non-Catholics can find similar ways to meet their weekly worship needs (as a personal aside, I have experienced amazing spiritual joy when I have gone to Mass when on vacation and I experienced amazing churches and extraordinary people–always a deep blessing to do so with my family). We should plan not to miss weekly Mass, or faith services, wherever we happen to be. Our souls will fill with Graces, and our families will reap the benefits of our efforts to stay close to the Lord. Furthermore, as we need food and water to sustain our bodies, our souls also require regular nourishment. We receive food for our souls when we receive the Lord in the Eucharist and when we hear His Word in Scripture. After all, we perform our daily work no matter whether we feel like it or not, and we’ll go to extraordinary measures to become physically fit; therefore, how can we do less for God and for our souls?When we do not feel like going to Mass/Church, and yet still go, we receive Graces, and we grow in personal discipline having fought laziness.

FOR THE SAKE OF OUR COUNTRY AND THE WORLD

 Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

  • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
  • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
  • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
  • …and for the sake of our children…
  • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
  • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
  • …for our faith and because we love God.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending for the sake of our country and the world?

As I covered early in this post, our founders expressed the opinion that without a moral and religious people, a nation and its government will not remain standing. In our culture, there are many distractions, and we have countless opportunities to ignore God and His weekly worship requirements; however, as I have attempted to show, weekly attendance is not for God’s benefit, it is to our advantage and health that we should attend. Extend this outward from that point and apply this to the United States as a corporate entity, and then to the entire world. Without a proper foundation (God) upon which to base our lives, the same becomes a reality for our nation (and any country) and that poor basis suddenly flows across the world. We become a rudderless and directionless people who no longer recognize right from wrong since each individual has their own definition.

Do not misunderstand these points—in no way am I claiming the United States is perfect. Yet, the Church is a hospital for sinners, and without God, there is no cure for our real problems, both spiritual and earthly temporal. If we desire health for ourselves, our families, our nation, and the world, then we must engage in the world, we must live our faith in all aspects of our lives and that includes attending religious services every week. There is only one path to authentic hope, peace, and happiness, and that comes from God!

FOR THE SAKE OF OUR OWN HAPPINESS AND PEACE OF MIND

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

    • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
    • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
    • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
    • …and for the sake of our children…
    • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people…
    • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
    • …for our faith and because we love God…
    • …for the sake of our country and the world.

Is it true that the reasons discussed to this point are still not enough to draw you back to regular attendance at Mass/Church? If that is the case, than what about attending Mass for the sake of our own happiness?

In a Gallup poll, it was discovered that people who attend church, synagogue, or mosque, frequently report having higher wellbeing, and they get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays – while the rest of the nation sees a decline in their mood (excerpted from here).

If you consider that study more carefully, it comes as no surprise. People of faith who attend services regularly tend to have a healthier outlook on life and on their futures. Individuals who study, pray and delve into the mysteries of God also tend to weather the storms of this life far better than those who do not—this is likely due to the truth that this life has always been filled with obvious pain and suffering and that people of faith can recognize that as the temporal reality of human existence. This is not to say that we are not to strive to lessen suffering or help when we see human pain—we are mandated by God to help those in pain; however, knowing the nature of human life allows people to not fall as low during the hard times, because they know one day this life will wash away and our lives will stretch across eternity. The Saints knew these many truths—they understood that life is tough and that God’s Promises to us regarding eternity creates hope in our lives, and especially in our futures. They believed it so deeply that they were moved to incredible acts–Saintly acts.

If you seek happiness—start attending faith services every week, pray and study, and pass it on to those you love. You will never feel regret for drawing closer to the Lord.

IN SUMMARY

Let’s review the major reasons for attending weekly services:

    • The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood…
    • …to the change from worshipping God on the Sabbath, to worshipping God on the Lord’s Day,…
    • …to the change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith,…
    • …and for the sake of our children…
    • …and for the sake of gathering together with like-minded people.
    • …and because God and His Church mandates weekly faith attendance…
    • …for our faith and because we love God…
    • …for the sake of our country and the world…
    • …for the sake of our own happiness an peace of mind.

In the list above we see nine major reasons for returning to weekly faith services, yet within each, many additional points help us realize that regular attendance is the best choice for all people of faith. It leads to benefits for us as individuals, for those we love, for our country, and for the entire world. I hope these reasons entice you to consider regular attendance at faith services, if not for yourself, for those around you. 🙂

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Not only should we learn more about our faith, and not only should we read the Bible and read the early Church fathers and doctors (and the texts of the faiths we hold) we should also start attending Mass (weekly services) every week (and on Holy Days of Obligation for Catholics). The rest will fall into place over time. But be careful, you might find your faith growing, and then you might feel your soul on fire for the Lord. 🙂
      
My prayer is that more people will turn to God, and that through Him we will help transform the world. There is but one path to that transformation—God, and God alone.
        
Please leave comments so we might enter a robust conversation and in your comments, please submit others reasons for weekly attendance that I might have left out.
      
May God always bless you with His peace and love,
       
T.P. Johnson

 

Should we return to weekly faith services? – (part 1 UPDATED)

Should we return to weekly faith services? 


Dear Readers,

The world, and the USA, are filled with problems and issues (nothing new, there’s always been hard times but, the pace does seem to have quickened in recent years). Do you believe a turning back to God is in order? Speaking as a Roman Catholic, and looking at some quick stats, weekly Catholic Mass attendance in the 1950s was approximately 74%, today that has fallen to 22-25%! Similar numbers are found in non-Catholic churches. Is this massive drop in faith a healthy development?

This is a reposting (see below) of a two part piece centered on the many reasons (or arguments) for attending weekly faith services (or Mass if you are a Catholic). It is easy for a person to say they believe in God, yet do they place their proclaimed faith into practice, or is it simply a moniker many wear but never really pursue?

A couple pertinent questions: Is it not true that with God all things are possible, so isn’t this the perfect time to return to a binding practice of your faith and call out to God for guidance? If not now, when?

Please post comments in the box below, and subscribe to my email.
Follow me on Twitter:

Thanks for reading,

T.P. Johnson


 

MEN WHO DO NOT CARE

How often do children, wives, parents, and friends, witness men who rarely make an effort to attend weekly faith services?

If a child’s father shows no effort to go to Mass, why should his child (or children)? How old must a child be before he/she starts questioning why they should attend if their father stays home to sleep in or to watch the Sunday football game?

Fathers and men in general, provide a powerful witness to faith when they attend Mass/Church and are engaged in what was happening in their faith, and especially when they demonstrate a desire to draw closer to God. Children see what we do–often we don’t want to admit that, but they have discerning eyes and intelligent minds. They can see the hypocrites in their midst, and they don’t like it anymore than we adults. If fathers do not go to church, their children will follow their example.

To all fathers and men: if you value your faith and want to see the next generation hold it firmly, than start attending regularly and delve deeper into your walk with God. It will pay eternal dividends for your soul and for the souls of your children.

WHY THE LORD’S DAY OVER THE SABBATH?

There is within Christianity places of worship that have rejected the Lord’s Day as a correct New Covenant replacement for the Sabbath. However, Christians from the earliest days of the Church observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Some converts in the early Church kept both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day; however, those people were Jewish converts to the Christian faith who mistakenly felt they remained bound to Jewish rituals. Before continuing, let us consider the underlying meanings behind the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.

JEWISH SABBATH

Observance of the Sabbath is a Biblical mandate for Jewish people. Orthodox Jews continue to observe to this day. It falls on the seventh day of each week (Saturday), followed by Jews beginning sundown on Friday and ending the following night (Saturday). It is a day of rest and the day recalls the Biblical Creation account, during which God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh. God made the observance of the Sabbath one of His Ten Commandments. The day is intended to be one of spiritual renewal.

THE LORD’S DAY

For Christians, the Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day, mainly as a memorial of Jesus’ Resurrection. Worship on that day does have Biblical support (see below). However, there are important reasons for observing the Sabbath that also apply to the Lord’s Day and those reasons can be gleaned from the Scriptures: (1) For rest; (2) To offer regular weekly worship to God; (3) To commemorate what God (Jesus) has done for us. Please consider the words of Jesus regarding the Sabbath:

And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.” [Mark 2:27-28 RSV-CE]

We see Jesus providing the right interpretation and meaning of the Sabbath: it was made for humans, not for God. There are times during which Jesus appeared to have broken Sabbath laws, yet during those times Jesus always gave the proper meaning. From this comes an obvious question: Why did the Church change the weekly observance of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day?

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke about the Ten Commandments. He mentioned all of the Commandments except the need to keep the Sabbath. A primary reason for this is that Christians are followers of Christ—they are free from the ritual observance of the Law. The Bible reflects that the early Christians gathered together on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, as the following passage reveals (there are additional readings):

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them,… [Acts 20:7 RSV-CE]

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 RSV-CE]

The Didache, along with the early Church fathers, taught that the Sabbath was replaced by the Lord’s Day: “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day,… [Ignatius, A.D. 110]On the first day of the week let there be service,[sacrifice of the Mass],…”Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. [Didache AD. 70] *** Note: The Didache is the teaching of the 12 apostles. It is a short piece describing the teachings of the Lord to the Gentiles (or nations) and was given by the apostles. It is believed to have been written between AD 50 and AD 120. It is one of the earliest known works that describe the faith as practiced by early Christians, and it serves as the earliest known document dealing with liturgical, Church and faith matters, a near first Catechism. As seen from the quotes above, both Scripture and the Didache speak of assembling on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). It must be remembered that the Lord gave authority to Peter and later the rest of the apostles to make binding rules upon the Church (Christians).Many additional citations can be offered; however, the point is that Sunday was always the day of worship for Christians. I recommend the following resources for further study:

The Didache (GO HERE)
The Mass of the Early Christians, Mike Aquilina — (GO HERE
The Fathers of the Church, Mike Aquilina — (GO HERE
The Faith of the Early Fathers, William A. Jurgens — (GO HERE)
The Sacrifice of the Mass (GO HERE)
The Lord’s Day replaced the Sabbath (GO HERE)
 

THE MASS AS HEAVEN ON EARTH

Of all the many reasons there are for attending Mass, this section describes potentially the most important. Many Catholics routinely take the miracle of the Eucharist for granted, with many dismissing it outright. The Eucharist forms the summit and source of the faith. Each time we receive Holy Communion we receive the Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is critical that we understand that Jesus made one sacrifice for us and that we do not re-sacrifice the Lord during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When we receive Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are entering into the once-for-all sacrifice of the Cross worked by Christ. The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, it is a memorial, and it is a true sacrifice by offering the same Body and Blood that Jesus sacrificed on the cross once for all. Christ offered Himself in a bloody manner on the cross, and since then the Church offers Jesus Body and Blood in a bloodless manner on the altar. That sacrifice is propitiatory or atoning (Catholics, read CCC #1367, and #1322-1381 in the Catechism). Where in the Bible do we find the teachings regarding the Real Presence? Consider Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in the following passage:

I am the bread of life…Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?…After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;… [Read John 6:47-69 RSV-CE]

In the passage above Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life. Jesus also states that His Body and Blood are food and drink and that we must eat His Body and Drink His Blood if we desire eternal life. Some will say that Jesus must have been speaking metaphorically; however, the passage reflects that many of Jesus’ followers could not handle Jesus’ teachings about eating His flesh and that caused them to walk away from the Lord. If Jesus was speaking symbolically or metaphorically, then why would there be any reason for many of his followers to leave Him, as they did? Further, in the [1]Last Supper discourses we read that what Jesus means is clear, the bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. [Luke 22:19-20 RSV-CE]

The Church uses the word, Transubstantiation, when referring to the transformation of the bread and wine into Jesus’ Real Body and Blood. The process remains a mystery; Saint Paul makes it clear that the bread and wine become Jesus Body and Blood:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? [1 Corinthians 10:16-17 RSV-CE]

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”…Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. [Please read 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 RSV-CE]

Saint Paul affirms that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” A person cannot profane the Body and Blood of Christ if they consume a mere symbol (notice that Saint Paul also teaches confession: “…let a man examine himself…”).

The Real Presence is one of the most Biblically supported truths of the faith with many more passages we could cite, and it was universally accepted in the early Church and has always been held by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Here is one example of the many statements made by early Church fathers:

“Take note of those who hold heterodox [the holding of unorthodox views] opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.” [Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110].

There are hundreds of statements from the early Church that support the Real Presence (see the endnotes section). Please consider this excerpt from “Understanding the Scriptures:”

The thank offering or “sacrifice of thanksgiving” became the primary liturgy celebrated at the Temple, rather than the sin offering. The thank offering was unleavened bread and wine freely offered to God in gratitude for deliverance. Ancient Jewish teachers predicted that, when the Messiah came, no other sacrifice would be offered; the thank offering alone would continue. The word for “thank offering” in Hebrew, todah, was often translated by ancient Jewish scholars (like Philo) with the Greek word, “eucharistia,” which resonates with the language of Jesus and the early Church.

The reader might, at this point, wonder why I quoted the various passages above. The reason is to firmly implant the truth of the Real Presence in the hearts of Catholics. The early Church, as well as the Church throughout history, has always held the truth of the Real Presence. Churches that do no accept the truth of the Real Presence have broken away from the early Church and the teachings of Christ as reflected in the Bible.

Jesus promised He would be with us until His return, and He does that through His Real Presence in the Eucharist (this is different than, and should not be confused with, the Presence of the Holy Spirit whenever two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name). Heaven comes to earth during every Mass; therefore, if one desires to have a foretaste of Heaven, they need to look no further than the Mass and the Eucharist.

The sad truth is that the Real Presence forms a stumbling block for many people, including many Catholics (it is hard for them to believe, as was the case for so many of Jesus’ followers in the Bread of Life discourse). However, many Christians have no problem believing that Jesus rose from the dead, or that God created everything from nothing. Is it difficult to believe that the Bread and Wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ when we consider all of the items of faith we each hold without doubts?

There is no more powerful expression of being in Communion with the Saints, then when we receive our Risen Lord in the Eucharist, for where Jesus is, so is the Father, so is the Holy Spirit, so are the Angels and the Saints. The Eucharist provides a means through which we receive Jesus, and a means through which we commune with the Father, the Holy Spirit, and all of the Heavenly Host.

How could any Catholic, or any person who has studied and learned of the Real Presence, stay away from such an amazing gift? It’s hard to conceive of any reason to attend Mass that exceeds the reception of our Lord during Holy Communion; however, a joyful fact is that we do not have to wait for Sundays to receive the Lord in the Eucharist. We can receive the Lord every day during daily Mass, and we can worship our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration in many Catholic Churches. It is a joyful reality to know that the Lord comes to people in the Eucharist every minute of every day during Masses held throughout the world and across all time zones. Praise God for this wonderful gift!

In a future post, I will post additional arguments for attending faith services each week.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment so we can discuss this topic.

T.P. Johnson

 

Protesting by taking a knee? Should it be done?

Protesting by taking a knee? Should it be done?

No matter how you feel about the current debate over whether the USA flag and anthem are worthy targets of protest, it would do us some good to take a calming breath and recall the cost of liberty our founders paid to allow us to engage in such debates. I do not believe the debate should be about whether public sports figures should be allowed to use those symbols as targets of their protest; rather, I believe we should collectively ask the more direct question: Are the United States flag and national anthem proper targets of those protests?

The United States is far from perfect, and it has plenty of “sins” on its national soul, such as slavery; however, this experiment in giving individuals personal liberty (the first of its kind in history) is a precarious construct–it can easily be lost if we do not collectively respect the freedoms we do hold. The founders, as imperfect as they were (some were slave holders), intended this nation to be governed by the people and for the people. The flag and the national anthem are symbols of the founder’s desire to build this nation upon the people. To disrespect the flag and the anthem is to disrespect the very ideas upon which this country was founded. The flag and the anthem are not holy; they are not sacred things that deserve adoration or worship; yet, they represent the system we are striving to make fairer and those symbols deserve respect.

Not everyone feels as if our system of government is working for them, and therein lies the truly important issue. We must strive to find ways to make our nation work for all people, and yet the system our founders created allows us to do that. We can only do that if we look at each other as neighbors and fellow citizens. Let us not forget the strides we have made. An African-American was elected President (twice), and a woman came within a whisper of becoming President in 2016. Liberty is a messy business, and yet that is what the USA is all about, and the flag/anthem are the symbols of the history-making cause to provide liberty to everyone.

The American Revolution was a historical and horrific struggle for the cause of liberty. People of that day felt that personal freedom was critical, to the point of being willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause. Many mothers and fathers on each side of the Atlantic Ocean lost sons and daughters in that struggle. Siblings lost siblings; wives lost husbands; in some cases, husbands lost wives, and it was devastating for millions.

Tom Brokaw, best known as an American television journalist, wrote the book, The Greatest Generation. The book is an important work centering on the incredible heroes who fought in World War II; our nation owes those people a substantial debt. However, those who fought for independence for this country receive little attention in our current culture. People today stand almost 240 years removed from the early struggles our Founding Fathers and heroes endured to construct a land and government that allowed its citizens to live in liberty. There can be no doubt about the authentic greatness of the citizens living then; however, that generation would not have existed had this nation never been formed through the blood, pain, and sacrifices made by the people who fought the American Revolution.

Our existence as a nation did not look obvious when viewed from revolutionary battlefields. We lost many conflicts during the war, and throughout much of the early years, our army was a mess, without sufficient weapons, uniforms, clothing, shelter, food, or men to help fight. Our old brothers and sisters fought against all the odds, and for a brief time it looked like those who died might have died in vain. Nevertheless, in the heart of those founders was the desire to be free, to choose his or her destiny, to use the gift of free will that God gives each person. Our ancestors nurtured a deep desire for liberty, yet it seems that our culture has erased that passion. Brokaw’s work reminds us that liberty does not come free—men from this nation’s early days understood the tenuous nature of freedom: 

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” [James Madison, speech at the Virginia Convention, 1783] 

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
[Samuel Adams, 1779]

Patrick Henry’s speech in the House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775, is well known. The House was trying to decide whether they should mobilize against the British forces. Henry supported facing the British in battle, as the following excerpt from his speech reveals:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! [Patrick Henry – 03/23/1775]

Furthermore, let us not forget the horrific Civil War the USA fought. While there existed many economic and political issues resulting in that horrendous war, in the end the moral cause of freeing slaves won out. More than 600,000 people of this nation died in those battles, from combat, starvation, disease and accidents. Recall that in those days the United States had a total population of approximately 31,000,000–which is less than one-tenth of today’s census, and those who died comprised two-percent of the full population. To put this into perspective, if the Civil war was waged today, and the percentages (and conditions) of numbers who participated and died remained the same, we would see 6,600,000 people die. That is a massive statement of support for the high ideal of human freedom. In truth, free societies, while they have existed through history, are quite rare and it remain critical that each USA generation learn (and relearn) these lessons.

I dare say that most Americans have learned about the Liberty Bell, and that it is one of this nation’s iconic symbols of liberty; however, I also dare say that most do not know what is inscribed on its surface, as follows:

“PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND
UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF LEV. XXV X.”

That inscription is a quote from the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:10). In those days, people cherished freedom and God. Can we say the same?

DOES GOD WANTS US TO BE FREE

In this fallen and sinful world, we must always remember that freedom is a gift—we must not confuse liberty with equality, they are not the same. The Bible does indeed teach that God created all humans in His image and likeness; therefore, before God every person (created in His image and likeness) are equal. We must not confuse being equal before God as being a higher order than the freedom that God gives to every person.

At the root of every individual and soul is the God-given right to be free, to choose our way, whether that way is ultimately sinful or righteous. The classic Biblical example of this is the Garden of Eden (cf. Genesis 1-2). God gave Adam and Eve a firm command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They chose to disobey God and fell into the trickery of Satan. They ate of that tree, which bound them to the consequence of required physical death for them and for every person after them. A critical point in the account is that God gave Adam and Eve full freedom. They had the ability to choose good or evil. They chose evil; they opted to disobey God, and we have seen the horrors that have fallen upon humanity ever since that fateful choice by our first parents. Ultimately, God desired paradise for Adam and Eve and gave them significant bliss in the Garden, yet sin came into the world through free because God respects our freedom. He will not stop us from doing evil—He wants our love and acceptance to be a free choice. In the New Testament, we see the importance of individual freedom:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. [Galatians 5:1 RSV-CE – Italics and bolding added]

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
[2 Corinthians 3:17 RSV-CE – Italics and bolding added]

 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. [Romans 8:18-21 RSV-CE – Italics and bolding added]

Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [John 8:31-32 RSV-CE]

As an example revealing what God desires for us, think about the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. God set His Chosen People free from tyranny and slavery brought upon them by Pharaoh. However, many people do not know that at one time in history, Egyptians had embraced the Jewish people and had welcomed them into their land; the Jews were not always slaves of the Egyptians. Over time, Egyptian rulers forgot history—they enslaved the Jews. God desired that his people be free, for it is only through true freedom can a person rise to the heights that God intends for them. In that account, we see that freedoms can be lost slowly, without notice by those being slowly enslaved.

It is my hope that more people will begin to cherish the freedoms we have—history shows we must not take our liberty for granted.

T.P. Johnson

Please follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE.

Let us know what you think by submitting comments below and please subscribe to my email list.

[mailpoet_form id=”1″]

[Excerpts taken from my book: Catholics: It is our Fault]

 

What do you think of this future release book cover?

Dear Readers, what do you think of this book cover for a future release? Let me know in the comments.

Please follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE.

Please subscribe to my email list below: 

[mailpoet_form id=”1″]

Thanks for reading, and please let people know about my work,

T.P. Johnson

 

Men, this post is for You!

Men, this post is for you!

When was the last time you helped someone?

Which man among us wouldn’t help the fallen woman depicted in the image above? Can we say that’s true of most men in other situations? It seems most men (not all), reflect little desire to offer help to others without seeking anything in return. Be honest, does that describe you? Does that description fit men you know?

Many dictionaries define the word, “gentleman” as being a man who is: chivalrous, courteous, and honorable. Let’s look at a definition for each word or trait:

Chivalrous: (of a man or his behavior) courteous and gallant,
especially toward women.

Courteous: polite, respectful, or considerate in manner.

Honorable: worthy of honor.

That was the general understanding of that term (gentleman) not so very long ago; however, how many men (today) are chivalrous, courteous and honorable? Presently, the term, “gentleman” is typically used to describe an older man and has little to do with a man’s innate character. We refer to older men as gentlemen for no better reason than they are no longer young. We have ceased expecting men to hold the qualities listed above. That, in my opinion, is a massive loss to our culture.

To highlight this, consider the many discussions (over the last 20 years or so) about whether men should hold a door open for an approaching woman and consider the many resulting arguments centered on that simple curtesy. What is missed in those frivolous conversations is the truth that gentlemen will hold a door for any approaching person, no matter their gender — it is a courteous and simple act that men used to perform without thought, and an act that women used to happily accept. It’s not a sexist or power move; it stems from a man’s desire to be helpful to those around them. Sadly, we are living in a time of confusion and it seems men are the most confused.

Despite our modern world trying to redefine the norms people follow, men are at their heart problem solvers and often desire to be quietly helpful. This takes nothing away from the incredible contribution women bring to the world because if we look at the genders with open eyes, we will see they balance each in beautiful ways.

Again, not too long ago, boys were to aspire to be a mature gentleman when they reached adulthood (today, not so much). They were expected to be problem solvers, helpful, and yes protectors of those around them. In all those days and centuries of men following those unwritten codes, never once was it taught that men are to do those things as some form of power move over others, that is a modern myth. Imagine this, a man is walking down an icy street, and a woman about ten feet ahead slips and falls. The man rushes to her and helps her up and ensures she isn’t hurt. That man did not do those things as some form of power display, NO, he genuinely wanted to help the fallen woman. In this scenario, the man’s offer of help was natural and had no strings attached; he was following his nature to be helpful and to solve a problem (helpful by running to the woman’s aide and a solving a problem by helping her to her feet and ensuring she was well).

However…

Our present culture, and men in general bury these innate character traits. Men often avoid being helpful, and rarely want to be problem solvers (outside their business and professional lives), even when they are the only person able to offer assistance.

Ask any man who became a Police Officer or a Fireman if they did that to be macho or a tough guy; most will tell you they chose those professions to help others and to do so in a humble and non-descript way (again, this is not to take anything away from the many women who also enter those professions). 

The idea here is men have lost their calling to be strong, yet humble, gentleman, who (in general) are concerned about the well-being of those around them (all people around them). To regain or renew the traits we have thrown away, we must start with each individual man, and especially with fathers.

Fathers who have an obsessive concern about how their sons perform in sports often do not worry about the character of their sons (they’d rather see their sons rise high in sports, and hold little concern for developing their child into upright men). Those fathers are helping to create a generation of non-gentlemen. Furthermore, fathers who worry more about their own desires, than about the development and education of their sons, likewise are helping to create a generation of non-gentleman.

No matter your religion or faith, everyone can take lessons from the strong humility Christ showed the world. He did not flinch or pull-back from his plans; He saw them through to completion. Consider this passage:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:1-11 RSVCE]

Christian men, do you try to emulate Christ by counting others as better than yourself and concerning yourself with their needs? For non-Christian men, though you do not follow Christ, can you see the value in this teaching?

Imagine the change the world would see if men took time, every day, to do something kind for at least one person. Perhaps you can offer a caring smile to a frustrated co-worker, or to the over-worked person serving coffee at the shop in the morning. Maybe you can say a quiet prayer for someone you can plainly see requires help in ways you cannot provide. Or, perhaps simpler gestures such as a forgoing the last piece of cake left on the platter so someone else can enjoy it. And, perhaps when coaching or watching your son play a sport, you can emphasize character traits that help them develop into good men.

Obviously, you can create your own ways to develop traits in yourself and in your sons that reflect a true gentleman, and in so doing, perhaps not long from now people will refer to men as gentlemen because of who they are without thought to their age. But, we must take the first step to become better men ourselves. Looking in the mirror with honest eyes is a challenging task, yet it must be done if we desire to become gentlemen.

The true test of the character of a man lies not only in what people see him do, it is what he does and how he behaves when no one is watching.

Thanks for reading, and please follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE. If you enjoy my posts (or my books), please share this site with your friends.

Please let us know what you think by submitting a comment in the box below.

T.P. Johnson

[mailpoet_form id=”1″]

 

Follow me on Blogarama

Do you believe there is absolute Good and Evil?

Recently, I had a robust conversation with a neighbor centering on present day movies and how there is a discernible absence of absolute good and evil offered in the films we watch. The discussion caused me to pander the difference in eras, and it also made me wonder why we no longer see clarity in this area.

Good and Evil – do you believe they exist?

 

Before continuing, ask yourself the title question: Do you believe in absolute good and evil?

We live in a world filled with gray. It’s often difficult to discern right from wrong and good from evil. Frequently, people will contort and change their usual thought processes to see things from both sides, which is their effort to maintain an open mind. Having an open mind is, of course, the proper way to react to almost all challenges, yet is it possible we have taken matters to far?

To examine this a bit, let’s say a country desires to take over another nation for no better reason then they want to control those people and lands. Through most of recorded history individuals would not try to delve to deeply into such situations, they would instinctively know it is not a good act for a nation to take over and control another country or populace—such acts were routinely called evil; however, oftentimes today many people have a tough time referring to anything in absolute terms. This is revealed to us when we see the blatant chastisement of those who speak in basic truths.

Make no mistake: the words, good, and evil, are absolute terms and we live in an era in which those words are most unpopular.

Consider the scenario above. When a nation decides it will take over another country by force, battles and wars ensue (obviously), yet think about the soldiers fighting on each side, they are likely young men and they’re simply following orders from their leaders—it is not their desire to take over another country, and that leads many today to say we cannot call the conquering nation evil because so many of their soldiers have nothing to do with the decision to go to war. Yet, we appear to have lost the ability to discern between the macro and micro. In other words, we can beyond any doubt refer to the conquering nation (spoken of above) as committing an evil act on a macro level; however, on the micro level, the soldiers fighting the battles of conquest are not as culpable and referring to them as being evil might be improper.

Let’s refine this a bit farther. Germany’s actions during World War II, on a macro level, were evil; however, the guilt of Germany’s actions does not imply that every German soldier who fought during WWII was evil (most of them had families and lives that they wanted to live). Therefore, we can refer to WWII Germany as being evil, while intuitively knowing every German soldier was not necessarily an evil person. Our present culture has lost the ability to make such generalizations, and that represents a critical problem. The loss of the skill to make sound generalizations leads to chaotic thinking.

It must not go unsaid that individuals can commit evil acts. Murder is the obvious example, and yet even with some of the most debased actions, many refuse to use the word evil to define them.

So, why do so many today steer away from using such terms? I believe it has a lot to do with the loss of a sense of sin in our culture. We have tossed aside centuries, even millenniums, of what is considered good and evil. Most people today have their own pet grave sins they commit regularly, and they likely know somewhere in their conscience that those acts are sinful, but they have no desire to stop committing those acts. No one desires to be a hypocrite, so if person X knows they are committing grave sin Y, and they refuse to stop committing grave sin Y, that person will not call out other gravely sinful acts because they’d be hypocritical. Jesus once said:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. [Matthew 7:4-5 RSVCE]

Most know of that passage, and we also know we’re committing grave sins, yet we don’t want to stop, and we don’t want to be a hypocrite, so most of us remain silent and become reluctant to call certain acts evil. We’ve no intention of removing the sin from our personal lives, so we utterly refuse to acknowledge the many grave sins being committed all around us. This is how we’ve arrived at a place in which good acts are no longer called good, and evil acts are no longer called evil.

In earlier eras, people had no problem using absolutes, and while some of them might have been hypocrites, in general, they were correct about their discernments.

Things have gone farther than a simple denial of good and evil; instead, we have reached that place (predicted by the Bible), in which clear evil is being called good, and clear good acts are being called evil. I can cite examples, yet they are all around us, and I have no doubt you know many.

We have gone from a culture in which it was easy for people to discern good from evil, and then we journeyed through a time in which people refused to call certain acts evil or good, and now we are moving through a time in which we often call good evil, while just as often calling evil good.

The problem with all this is simple: good and evil still exist no matter what any generation thinks. Basic truths do not change with the passage of time.

What path will you choose?

What do you think? Do good and evil exist? Have we lost a sense of sin and have we rejected general absolutes?

Please follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Thanks for reading and please leave comments in the box below.

 

T.P. Johnson