Is it Wise to Have Hope in the Pope?

pope francis
Image found on wikimedia

Pope Francis has been making his rounds the last few weeks in the United States of America.

In St. Peter’s Square today, he gave a speech about the Three Gazes of Jesus concerning wealth and faith, implying that one cannot live the faith attached to material things.

Now that is some great teaching.

But who is Pope Francis and should we treat him as the cure to the world’s ills?

Pope Francis 2015

Basic Facts:

  • He is the 266th and current pope of the Catholic Church.
  • According to Wikipedia he was born in Buenos Aires.
  • Worked briefly as a chemical technologist and nightclub bouncer before attending Seminary.
  • He’s been noted for having concern for the poor, his humility and his commitment to interfaith dialogue.

Catholicism and the Rise of a Pope

Thankfully, after a little digging around. I learned some fascinating things about the introduction of the papacy.

Around late 4th century(?) political differences and unrest as well as geographic expansion caused the division of the Western Church which then led to Roman Catholic Church.(Morgan, G.R., 2012, p.23:World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day)

Second, during a particularly tumultuous time in church history, the churches began appointing emperors and running political systems which led to a “decrease in spiritual fervor”(p.27).

It was only around 500-1500A.D. that the Bishop became known as the Pope. At this time he declared authority over all Christians and the church became catholic or “universal”, as the term means.

Papa?

The term pope means “papa”

The pope, according to some sources is biblical. He is like how Peter, Paul and James were. Someone to look up to for hope and wisdom.

The word catholic means “universal” or “all embracing”.

Pope John XXIII, eventually held a council and declared that protestants and orthodox were also Christians.

Again, I ask. Should we put hope in the pope?

I don’t think it wise to put hope in any man. Put your trust in God.

Certainly Peter, Paul, and James were revered for their power and advice and I suppose the pope garners the same respect.

But the pope is not God.

If he is all he claims to be, then he is a vessel. That is what the saints were in the bible. Humble, willing vessels of the Lord.

I don’t have anything against the pope. In fact he seems to be teaching the things all churches should teach every day. Let us continue to teach about faith, hope, love and building communities.

Kudos to him for doing that.

_______________

Reference(s)

Morgan, G.R.,(2012) World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House

The Conservative, the True Believer, and a Much Needed Conversation

This post is dedicated to all Believers who find themselves having to defend their faith to Conservative Churchgoers.

To understand the difference, let me help you out. A Believer is Born Again and have the biblical faith in Jesus the Word emphasizes. There is either God’s way or no way. Yahweh or the highway. Get it?

Conservative Church Goers regularly attend church. They tend to boast about money, power and politics. Jesus’ teachings are cast aside as mere moral thoughts and ancient at best. Those who are followers of Christ are put under the bus by Conservatives because they may have less. Conservatives are your modern day Pharisees.

Where can you find these conservatives? In the news talking about politics, money, and business. You may even find them on the silver screen helping others who are as affluent as themselves.

Let me back up a sec.

I stand as a sinner who has been Born Again and am deserving of punishment. And I believe in the power of the Redeeming Blood and thank God for the gift of Repentance.

And I also know that people will see my fruit and ask if I am really who I say I am.

Our fruit(Matthew 7:16) is how people will know where we stand. God took the guesswork out of learning who is for Him. It does not take being a psychic. It is really simple. If I see your actions, then I know your character. If I know your character, I know your thoughts.

Why am I writing this?

To some people, my husband and I appear to be “monks”(and we are far from it) but the fact that we love Christ and try to walk like Him we are persecuted verbally.

And so I write this to inform you, beloved that your battle will not just be against the powers and principalities of this world. There are those who proclaim to be in the faith but are instead false teachers. Wolves in sheep clothing. Stand on the Rock. Continue to watch and pray and worship the one true God over all.

Blessings 🙂

Dump the Windows 8.1 Upgrade and Get the Romans 12:1 Version

The new Windows 8.1 upgrade is a trip isn’t it? Aren’t upgrades supposed to be better? You can’t play DVDs no more unless you pay for a DVD playback software and the new Intel Rapid Storage Technology has a few hiccups on this new upgrade.

If you are like me, then you rarely trust upgrades anymore. Any renewing done to our machines may be okay in some ways but bad in others.

Our spirituality is like that.

When we were first saved, the sun seemed brighter, we wanted to hug it.

And hug even our enemies, including the bully, the mean mom and absentee dad, or bad sister. We had love for everyone.

We felt God for the first time and could not think of ever letting Him go.

But what happens when we get older and more mature? Do we stay positive and hold on to the faith or let it go because of addiction, afflictions and (gulp!) education? And can we ever get that hope back?

I propose, we go get that Romans 12:1 upgrade.  But first let’s see what happened when we gave ourselves to God- the first time.

Temptation Got Worse.

You know it did. If you were a child/teen when you were first saved then when puberty struck, you were surrounded by different friends, new media, and developed new feelings. God suddenly took a back seat. You didn’t mean for it to happen, it just- kind of did. The euphoric medicine called lust came into play and gave immediate gratification and we still loved God, just loved It more. This goes for sex, money, drugs, food, whatever.

We Lost Someone.

Classic case.

When we lose someone, it hurts and it hurts bad. We want them back. Why haven’t our prayers reached God. Did He not hear us?

Ever been down that road before?

I have.

After all our pleas, we still lost our loved ones.

What happened?

We Philosophized Our Way Right Out of the Word.

I will be honest and say I love school. I love learning math, science, I love to write.

Even better. I love studying other religions and philosophies.

But when does too much education become way too much?

When we become too big headed to pick up our bibles anymore. And the gap between us and the Lord widens.

Without using too much of my own opinion, I can offer some suggestions to get back on track with the Lord, because as you well know, we are the ones who leave Him and although the Lord can and does work through us, we have to be pliable.

  • Fellowship: Power is drawn from those around us who are also saved. In this way you can connect with others who can pray for you and who may have been through the same issues but they have to be godly- and fellowship does not always mean you will find these folk in a church building.

  • Bible Study:  You know when I was a teen, the only counselor I had was the Word. Next to me on my pillow was my teen study bible and the words were golden to me. I fell even harder for Jesus on those confusing nights and you know what? You can reconnect with Him too by reading the Word. Even reading other Christians’ memoirs and self help books are so encouraging to me.

  • Prayer: Highly important. This is your communication time with God. Your time of peace and meditation. And personally, I like to incorporate The Lord’s Prayer with my daily morning routine because it pretty much covers the praise and adoration part(“Our Father who art..”, “Hallowed be your name.”), our daily provisions(“Our daily bread”), and spiritual warfare(“deliver us from evil…”). And there are other prayers you can pick from the bible to be your model prayers-Psalms for example. Even better- let the Holy Spirit guide you.

And let us not forget those other helpful nuggets like faith, love, and being sure to repent.

 Ready for that upgrade?

Romans 12:1 says,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”(NIV)

Warranty Notice: Forever.

We welcome your comments, questions and if you can add anything else of value which you have learned, don’t be shy. Share it!

Why We Have Mixed Messages After Reading the Same Bible

This week I had the opportunity to read through Mark Yarbrough’s How to Read the Bible Like a Seminary Professor for review. Here is a little piece of it here:

Yarbrough makes it very clear from the beginning that the way bible study is conducted within churches today is not quite right. We should not ask what a particular Scripture mean to us. We should instead learn to read God’s holy message to us and he offers a few tips and guidelines on how to do it just right.(Read more on Examiner)

What an amazing challenge!

Don’t interpret the bible for what you want it to mean, but instead ask, “What is God’s Message?”

This is difficult to me because as a student of literature, what an author writes may mean something to them, but that is a hidden mystery. What do I think the passage mean? In writing courses in college, you must have evidence within your essay to prove why you feel a verse or story means what you think it means.

Does the bible deserve the same kind of treatment?

Or should we study the Scriptures by underlining, Googl-ing, read different translations etc. to get the whole message?

Will we then understand the Word better? Will we then have one True Religion because we all will have now interpret it the same way?

So many questions.

I gave the book five stars because it had humor, it was organized and the author offered excellent tips for reading the bible and interpreting it the way God intended.

What are your thoughts? Is it possible to still get mixed messages even while reading the bible with study tools available?

The Holy Spirit was given to us to give us His interpretation of the Word, so why do we still send each other mixed signals continuously? Why are there so many denominations?(I feel this would make an excellent post in the future)

God bless you 🙂

I Want to Be Holy, Not Holier Than Thou

Mount Pleasant Granary
Mount Pleasant Granary

  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”- Hebrews 12:11 NIV

~

Sometimes we say someone is “holier than thou” because they exhibit one or more of the following thoughts and behaviors:

  • They typically do not dabble in pop culture at all(e.g.. Ask them about Rihanna and you may get a stink face and asked if you were perhaps meant to say “rehire”)
  • They typically have a Scripture for everything and I do mean EVERYTHING.
  • They attend church every week or more than once a week.
  • They don’t do “normal” things and may dress differently.

Personally, what is wrong with those characteristics? Nothing really. I mean, I’d rather have Scripture daily than some of the filth I hear and read daily.

Me Thou, Art Thou?

Look closely. The term “thou” is referring to you. So I think I am holier than you( I don’t think like this- promise!)

What is disturbing is that I have been called holier than thou simply because I prefer not to do certain things. When I tell someone that I prefer juice to liquor, they get upset or perplexed. And I feel the need to explain that I never liked the taste of alcohol before I was even saved anyway.

Or the most famous one: “Yall don’t want to want to hang with us, you are too holy for me.”

Or even better: “Excuse my French, but I ain’t perfect.”

Being Holy Comes From Trials

And the list goes on…without me saying a word to offend or defend myself. Where do these thoughts stem from?

These thoughts come from the heart. And we all know that from our mouths springs issues of the heart(Proverbs 4:23). The anxieties of someone else’s heart is now projected onto me for being different.

Now, let us get something abundantly clear. Not once should you apologize for being holy. Holy simply mean set apart from God. Jesus communicated with all walks of life but he did not do it as someone who was condescending.

There is a difference.

You see, only with rigorous training and strict discipline from my Father above can I hold my head high in righteousness as Hebrews 12:11 conveys. You do not know what I had to give up, put up with and how many people had to call me out of my character,  in order for me to be trained.

I am still being trained folks. Daily.

How about you? Have any stories of being called holier than thou, or were you the caller?

I’d love for you to share!

-Erica 🙂

The Tale of the Pastor and His Gun

Gun
Gun image from Wikipedia

*Before we get started folks, this is indeed a true story.

One afternoon, a pastor caught two men trying to steel copper tubing from the air conditioner outside of his church. The pastor goes to his SUV, pulls out a semi-automatic weapon and order the men to stop.

The two men(ages 50 and 34) took off running and hop into a pickup truck.

But the pastor does not stop there. We can assume he is frustrated(wouldn’t we all be?)

And so he fires at least 8 shots and now one of the thieves has two bullets lodged in his head and I am unsure if he is alive or dead.

The verdict from the online community?

The pastor is innocent.

I have to think about this one.

We have allowed our flesh to interpret the bible.

I will venture to say that as a  human being I hate being lied to, stolen from, made fun of, etc. But what is the Christian way, the Jesus way to appropriately respond to worldy, wicked events?

Any Scripture can fulfill the fleshly desire to harm someone if you look close enough. People on Google Plus have supported this pastor by saying, “Good for him” or, “Jesus said to purchase our weapons”

The devil knew scripture too. Remember when he tried to use it against Jesus for his own evil purposes?

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and,

In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ (Matthew 4:1-11)

Out of all the Scriptures we can find on peace, why do we stick to the one about Jesus telling His apostles to purchase swords?(Luke 22:35 NIV). Here is a piece of what I posted on G+ concerning “Jesus allowing us to weapons whenever”:

The entire passage if taken literally or for today’s time would fly in the face of Acts 4:25-31, 8:1-3, 9:1-2, 12:1-5- the apostles submitted to persecution peacefully, they did not fight with weapons of this world.”(Information originally from “Loveyourenemies.org)

Will there come a time when we have to take up arms or will we have to turn the other cheek forever?

I am not sure.

I do know that the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us in how to respond to situations. After speaking with my husband about this important matter, we’ve concluded that perhaps Jesus knew the apostles would need physical weapons to defend themselves because of Him. There would be struggles and fights and it is all in the name of Jesus.

But to lodge bullets in someone’s head over copper tubing? Something that can be replaced?

One person on Google Plus agreed that we are to fear the one that can take the body and the soul.

Thoughts?

 

Korra Made a Special Sacrifice and This is Why He Appeared

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.(Psalm 51:17) NIV

Sometimes books, movies and pastors, make it seem like we have to do strange and bizzare rituals to connect to God. And the truth is that we do not.

Worship is great.

Prayer and meditation is great.

Bible study and serving our communities are awesome things to do too, and we should continue to do these things.

Yet while watching the final episode in Season 1 of The Legend of Korra. Something happened. Please watch the clip above.

So what did Korra sacrifice?

Her tears.

Korra found herself in her weakest moment, the moment where everything seemed to be taken away from her and she had no choice but to cry out in her spirit. She had no choice but to rely on something “other” and different from her own flesh.

Have you been to that place before?

I have.

God will pull our ears just to get our attention, kind of like how he did Jonah.

But then there are those times where we have relied on our own strength and wit  and wealth so much, that when we are left destitute- we call on Him to make us stronger. To give wisdom. To give us peace.

If you find yourself in a “dry desert” today, a place that may be familiar to you or maybe not and you feel your strength sapped and zapped to nothing- I encourage you to just let go and let God do His thing. Let Him wrap his arms around you. Give you a hug, give you a gentle rebuke, let Him impart some gift to you.

He is your father, so let Him be. Stay encouraged and encourage one another, in this way, the world will know we love God and they will see Him.

Be blessed and be a blessing!