Welcome !

Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Negotiating the Swirling Sea of Chaos

Sunday February 5th, 2017

A Reflection on Matthew 5:13-16 N.A.B.

By: Larry T

In verse 16 of the Gospel reading for this Sunday Jesus told his disciples, “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Jesus said to his disciples:
13 "You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
16 Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father."
-Matthew 5:13-16 N.A.B.

What does “glorify your heavenly Father” mean? And how should we go about it? Are we to stand, gaze skyward with arms raised, and recite the Lord’s Prayer fifty times a day? Or should we kneel eight hours a day and piously pray one rosary after another? Perhaps we could sit motionless hour after hour lost in the peaceful abyss of deep contemplative prayer. These venerable activities would certainly glorify God, but is this kind of endless adoration all that He wants from us, the subjects of His Kingdom, the Kingdom inaugurated on earth by His Son? No doubt, there are those among us, who would declare, rather disdainfully, that a God who simply wants people to adore him all the time is not a figure they can respect, much less worship.

Since the reading for this Sunday is at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10), the meaning of glorify your heavenly Father has to be understood in the Beatitude context, the code of conduct for the subjects of God’s kingdom on earth.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

How does God see me? When He looks at me who does He see? In a manner of speaking we present three images to the world: there is the image we have of ourselves, the way others see us, and the way God sees us.

Every morning I see a reflection of myself in the bathroom mirror; that’s how I see myself. I like that reflected image because the light fixture over the mirror uses old fashioned incandescent light bulbs and under that kind of light I look as though I have a nice tan. What’s more, if I turn and tilt my head just so - my grey hair looks darker and a little thicker; it makes me look a few years younger and I really like that! Who wouldn’t?

On the other hand, one day last week, while accompanying my wife on a shopping trip in a department store, I caught a glimpse of myself reflected from a full-length mirror. Whoa! I looked at least ten pounds heavier! And my hair was almost white and a lot thinner; I was much older looking than the man I had seen in the bathroom mirror that very morning. Hmmm, I guess that’s how other people see me, older and heavier - looking my age.

But then, how does God see me? In his book, True Self, Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, writes:

"What we are-our identity-is only truly known to God-not to ourselves, not to other men. The greatest terror of the particular judgement is that, the moment after our death we instantly appear before the face of God and learn our identity-truly; we finally see ourselves as we really are! The measure of our identity, of our being (the two are the same) is the amount of our love for God"

We are all called to be holy and being holy means trying to be like Jesus; since the Beatitudes are a self-portrait of Jesus, they are our instructions on how to be like Him, and they are rules on how to conduct ourselves in God’s earthly kingdom, rules that when followed evaporate the swirling sea of chaos, which if unchecked could once again cover the earth.

At the final judgement, the amount of love which we have for God will be measured against how well we followed His commandments and lived the Beatitudes; it is how the obedient and willing subjects of His kingdom bring glory to Him.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Humble Handmaid

Sunday January 1st, 2017

A Reflection on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

By: Larry T

In his book Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology, Fr. Roch A. Kereszty O. Cist. writes:

Besides stressing that Mary and Joseph were truly husband and wife and that the son of Mary truly became the son of Joseph, the Gospels also give some hints about their relationship to one another and to Jesus. It seems likely that the reason Matthew (or at least the Aramaic tradition behind the present Greek text) gives why Joseph wanted to dismiss Mary was not a suspicion of Mary’s unfaithfulness but rather the fear of getting involved with a divine mystery, the presence of which Joseph sensed in his fiancée. He needed God’s assurance and command to overcome his awe. In Krämer’s reconstruction, the Aramaic text underlying Matthew 1:20 should be translated in this way: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife just because the child was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit.” In other words, “Do not let the fact that Mary is bearing a child conceived by the Holy Spirit frighten you from taking her as your wife.”

This Aramaic interpretation is startling, but makes sense: Joseph sensed a divine energy radiating from Mary which both awed and frightened him. Did the baby in Elizabeth’s womb also sense divine energy radiating from Mary? Is that what caused the baby to leap in Elizabeth’s womb? When Elizabeth was overcome by the Holy Spirit, cried out “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” was that, too, a spontaneous response to the divine aura surrounding Mary? It’s a possibility worth considering.

Most modern Catholics accept that Jesus was both divine and human, and that Mary gave birth to Him; therefore logically, she is the “Mother of God”, and that’s the way it always was. But, the increasingly nonspiritual culture which we live in intentionally labels our traditional values as being unfounded and insists that clinging to them is senseless and useless; therein, is the stumbling block of accepting that’s the way it always was. Unless we are thoroughly versed in the history and tradition of our Catholic faith we face the same danger as a shallowly rooted tree which can be easily blown over by a strong gust of wind. This is what makes reviewing some of the landmark events in our Holy Mother’s life worthwhile.

At the most opportune time for mankind’s salvation, God instructed the angel Gabriel to take on human form so that he would be visible to Mary. When he appeared to Mary he saluted her with: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.”

Ignoring her bewildered silence, he continued, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father, and he shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Lk 1:28-33, Holy Angels Edition)

What did the angel Gabriel mean when he said “Hail, full of Grace”? Through the centuries our Church has become increasingly aware that this divine announcement meant that God preserved Mary from original sin at the very moment of her conception (C.C.C. 491). God then continued to shower graces upon her, preparing her to be the earthly mother of the Son of God, (God Bearer, in Greek: Theotokos).

Beginning with Jesus’ death and resurrection, how many years passed before his mother was officially proclaimed Theotokos? Nearly four-hundred years. Before Mary could receive the title of “Mother of God”, her Son had to be recognized as “Son of God” - for the early Church just getting to that threshold of understanding and acceptance was extraordinarily difficult. The First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. declared that Jesus was “begotten, not made, of the same substance as the Father”. Then, in 381 A.D., the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople was forced to reaffirm that Jesus was “the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”, and proclaimed that the text of the Nicene Creed was complete and forbade any change (addition or deletion) to it.

However, Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, didn't agree. Nestorius and his following of sixteen other bishops denied Christ’s full humanity, arguing that Jesus had two separate persons, the divine Logos and the human Jesus. He opposed the title of Theotokos (God Bearer or Mother of God) for Mary, insisting that she should instead be called Christotokos (Bearer of Christ). He taught that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to the human Christ, not the divine Logos who existed before Mary and indeed before time itself. Nestorius’ opponents found his teaching too close to the heresy of adoptionism – the idea that Christ had been born a man who had later been “adoptedas God’s son. His teaching was ruled heretical by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. This led to the so-called Nestorian Schism where churches supportive of Nestorius separated from the rest of the Christian Church. The Council of Ephesus declared that the text of the Nicene Creed, previously decreed at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., and the revisions of the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. were accurate and complete; Jesus was truly the Son of God and Mary was indeed the Mother of God.

In what way can these events bolster our faith? Mary had free will; she could have simply said, No thank you, but her “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to thy word.” signaled her willingness to participate in God’s plan. God created the earth and we live on it, in this we have no choice. God’s Kingdom on earth arrived with the birth of Jesus. We have two options: choose to be a subject in God's Kingdom on earth or live out a simplistic existence on God's earth. We, the willing subjects of God's Kingdom on earth, that is, those of us who accept His gift of faith, are tasked with collaborating with Him in the expansion of His Kingdom; this is how we signal our willingness to participate in His plan. How do we go about that?

Just as Joseph and Elizabeth sensed a divine presence radiating from Mary as she carried our Lord, so should those who we come in contact with sense the divine spirit of Jesus dwelling in us, and that can be as simple as a smile in His name, our demeanor and more importantly, our actions. “We ought to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6 R.S.V.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Sword of Hatred

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

A Reflection on Romans 15:4-9, N.A.B.

By: Larry T

The second reading for this Sunday is from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans. Since Paul wrote this letter to a Christian community that he neither founded nor as yet had visited, it is unique among his writings. Even so, Paul’s Letter to the Romans is widely acknowledged as the single most influential document in Christian history because of its profound theology.

4 For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus,
6 that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,
9 but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.”
- Romans 15:4-9 N.A.B.

The substance of all Holy Scripture might well be summed up in verses 5 and 6:

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus,
6 that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When a scribe asked Jesus “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 N.A.B.). Does being in keeping with Christ Jesus include loving our neighbor as ourselves?

Has there ever been a time when we have been in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus so that with one voice we could glorify God the Father and the Lord Jesus? Biblical scholars and Church historians will answer: probably not even from the beginning. Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and 1 John both express utter dismay at the disharmony that arose in the early Church.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, in the Seven Storey Mountain writes:

“It was St. Augustine’s argument, that envy and hatred try to pierce our neighbor with a sword, when the blade cannot reach him unless it first passes through our own body.”

Merton went on to write:

“In so far as men are prepared to prefer their own will to God’s will, they can be said to hate God: for of course they cannot hate Him in Himself. But they hate Him in the Commandments which they violate. But God is our life: God’s will is our food, our meat, our life’s bread.”

One of the elements of wisdom is recognizing that which is unchangeable in the face of a culture which insists that it is changeable. This will never change: true followers of Jesus cannot be hate driven; it is God’s will that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. This, too, will never change: the sword of hatred aimed at our neighbor will damage our personal relationship with our God. Saint Paul’s prayer/plea (v. 7) is that we welcome one another as Christ welcomed us, for the glory of God.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists, however imperfect in their faith or belief, who follow the Second Greatest Commandment can accomplish what no president, congress, army, or police force can: they can heal the rifts which are tearing our nation and world apart. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jesus, Remember Me When

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

A Reflection on Luke 20:27-40, N.A.B.

By: Larry T

Riddle me is a figure of speech that means: Go ahead and try to explain that to me. It’s easy for us to shake our heads and smile at the Sadducees’ foolishness at approaching Jesus, the Author of Life, with a riddle, a brainteaser which they had used to stump the Pharisees for years.

In Judaism of Jesus’ time, a childless widow would marry the brother of her late husband, according to the custom known as levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5). The law was designed to perpetuate the name of a man who died childless. The hapless woman in the Sadducees’ made-up story suffered through seven childless marriages and finally died. At the resurrection, whose wife would she be? The haughty Sadducees had cooked up this riddle to show that resurrection would lead to ridiculous results; it suited their purpose perfectly because they didn’t believe in a resurrection whereas the Pharisees did. The riddle had never been satisfactorily explained, that is, until the high and mighty Sadducees decided to challenge Jesus with it.

27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him,
28 saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’
29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.
30 Then the second
31 and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless.
32 Finally the woman also died.
33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”
34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry;
35 but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
36 They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.
37 That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
38 and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39 Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.”
40 And they no longer dared to ask him anything. 
– Luke 20:27-40 N.A.B.

The eavesdropping scribes might have been clapping and high-fiving when Jesus solved the riddle by contrasting life in the current age with life in the age to come where marriage will not be a part of the age to come because one of them approached him and said, “Teacher, you have answered well.” Not only had the arrogant Sadducees, along with their gloomy doctrine of no life after death, been put in their place, but the scribes and Pharisees could look joyfully forward to life after death.

At this confrontation Jesus not only upheld the doctrine of resurrection, but he also spoke of the age to come noting that “only those who are deemed worthy” would have life in the coming age. Since worthiness to enter the age to come cannot be grasped or assumed because it comes from God’s judgement, and is therefore a grace, Jesus’ words bring endless joy to those souls God calls to himself, to those who hear and obey. Are these words of dread or discomfort to those souls who hear and fail to respond or understand? If they aren’t, they should be. Do those graceless souls hate God? Probably not, it’s His commandments that they dislike and choose to ignore.

What can we learn from this Gospel story that has meaning in our modern world? Our earthly transformation, the path to worthiness, begins when we start to model ourselves after Jesus by following his example and his teachings. This is how He is spiritually resurrected millions of times a day, even by the slightest act of kindness performed in His name; it is how He continues to live through us. In following Jesus’ teaching we announce His resurrection to the rest of the world.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Do You Trust in Something Greater?

A Reflection on Luke 11: 29-32
By Heidi Knofczynski

In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus’ words fall with such portentous weight that something inside me trembles a bit. Truly, the Christ-haunted areas in our souls quake in fear as His reality penetrates through all the vanities and reveals what you hold back from Him. Something greater is coming to bring true life, but only through death.  Can you let go of weak hopes for something greater?
In Ecclesiastes Solomon pondered how we “chase the wind “in search of something greater.  Riches, pleasure and even wisdom only give the illusion that our life “under the sun” will go on.  But even wise Solomon cannot see beyond death.  Solomon tells us to “cast our bread upon the waters”, since there is no reason to hoard up our treasures.  Enjoy what you have until you are gone.  Death will absorb you into its darkness eventually. Vanity of Vanities! Yet Jesus tells us:

But there is something greater than Solomon here.

Jonah goes into the belly of a fish -- which should have been a tomb -- in order for God to bring an urgent warning to the notorious city of Nineveh.  They listened and cast off their evil identity.  They placed their hope in a power that overcame a tomb.

And there is something greater than Jonah here.

Do you feel the same stirring in your spirit that I do when I read those words?  There is awesomeness to the reality of Jesus that is a quite unsettling.  The closer we allow Him to draw to us the more it illuminates what Solomon saw, but had no answer to:  The futility of our mortal lives. The sign of Jonah, however frightening it must have been to the Ninevites, reveals a hope beyond this world and a mercy that seeks out those who are in need, and they could not refuse it.  They cast off their futile and evil identity, they cast off their fear of letting go of vain hopes and they took hold of an eternal identity, and an eternal hope. 

What are you afraid to cast upon the waters? 

Savior, you have delivered us and You continue to create us in your image.  I enter into your mighty presence asking for the courage to continue yield my whole self you to you, whom death cannot overcome.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Priceless Gift of Faith

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

A Reflection on Luke 17:3-10, N.A.B.

By: Larry T
Jesus’ instruction to forgive the contrite transgressor as many as “seven times in one day” was raising forgiveness to a new height. So, the apostles’ natural reaction was to ask for an increase in faith so that they could forgive as Jesus had just instructed them.

3 Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”
5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
7 “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
8 Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
9 Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
10 So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” – Luke 17:3-10 N.A.B.

However, their demand for an increase in faith tells us that they didn’t understand that faith is a gift from God – a free will gift – a grace. Then, what is faith, and how can we obtain it? And once we have it, how can it grow? From the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:

Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.” To live, grow, and persevere in the faith, it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church. – C.C.C. 162, and:

Faith is a personal adherence of the whole man to God who reveals himself. It involves an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through his deeds and words. - C.C.C. 176

So then, is it true faith when a life-long Catholic rationalizes, my grandparents were Catholic, my parents were Catholic, I was raised Catholic; they were all good people. So I’m going to believe in God and follow in their footsteps? Is the intellectual decision, alone, to believe in God, albeit for a good reason enough? Probably not. Faith is more than an intellectual belief in God. Still yet, it could be a good beginning, but knowing that we should do something doesn’t mean that we will do it. Intellectually, I accept that for health reasons I should walk at least thirty minutes a day, but knowing it doesn’t mean that I will do it. Why not? Because my will dominates my intellect; unless my intellect and will are in agreement I probably won’t regularly walk thirty minutes a day. So, the intellectual decision to believe in God can be a good beginning, but unless the will is in full agreement, faith remains shaky at best. Then, in this matter of faith, at what point does our intellect and will (the whole person) come to believe in God?

We will have true, saving faith when we accept the gift of faith when it is offered to us by God. When that happens will there be angels playing harps, will there be thunder and lightning or will the earth tremble? No, it could be a subtle as the urge to learn more about God. More often than not, we won’t even remember the day - suddenly faith was just there. In our rear view mirrors we might look back and recall a certain period in our lives when we received it.

Then, is faith alone enough to get to heaven? Not if that means simply clinging to an intellectual belief in God, routinely attending Sunday services, and nothing more. If it doesn’t lead us to a holy life of righteousness and mercy, it is not a saving faith. The Letter of James tell us that faith without works is no better than words without deeds, that faith can be neither seen nor verified unless it shows itself in works, and even the demons have an intellectual belief in God, but it does not lead to their salvation.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.
 – James 2:14-19 N.A.B.

 What The Letter of James doesn’t tell us is that works which stem from true faith nurture and increase faith; without works faith is destined to wither and die like an olive tree which is never watered; it will never bear fruit.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

God, Family, Work, Then Play

Sunday September 4, 2016

A Reflection on Luke 14:25-33, N.A.B.

By: Larry T

A bathrobe-clad sleep-eyed husband balefully watches his wife prepare to leave for Sunday morning church services; finally he mutters, “Isn’t all of this praying at church just a waste of time?” A defiant teen age boy whispers to his younger sister, “Boy, have things changed around here since Dad got religion!” A bright young woman, a college student majoring in microbiology, returns home for the summer and announces, “I’m sorry Mom and Dad but science just doesn’t support religion, so I’m not going to go to church with you this morning, and in the future I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk about God in front of me!” And, so it goes!

Jesus was, and still is, the supreme master of capturing an audience’s attention with thought-provoking concepts. In this Gospel reading Jesus’ rhetorical statement about hating family would have astonished many of those in his audience; no doubt some of his listeners immediately turned their backs on him and stomped away.

25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them,
26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?
29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him
30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:25-33 N.A.B.

In our present day, as in Jesus’ day, when we answer the call to go to him we should be prepared for some negative consequences: estrangement from family and friends, and yes, sometimes even persecution. Tragically, those who suffer the disapproval or ridicule of family or friends are sometimes persuaded to ignore God’s call to discipleship; some even lose their faith.

In our modern chaotic world God has to come first, then family, then work, and lastly play. True disciples put God before everything else in their lives, including family. A wife reading this might respond with, “Wait a minute! Family has to come first!” Really? What is the probability of a man who puts God first in his life abandoning his family or becoming a spouse abuser? A husband reading this might think, “The kids and I had better come first!” Really? What is the likelihood of a wife who puts God first in her life being unfaithful to her husband? What the odds of a marriage ending in divorce when both the husband and wife put Jesus first in their lives? Can a true disciple neglect her children?

Putting God first in our lives doesn’t mean spending all of our waking hours in prayer; it can mean choosing to attend Sunday church services instead of going on a Sunday morning fishing trip with friends; it can mean shopping at the mall on Saturday instead of Sunday, it can mean being habitually polite instead of being customarily rude, it can mean driving safely instead of cutting another car off in traffic; it can mean spending fifteen minutes reading Scripture instead of watching television, it can mean refusing to use profanity when everyone else in the group does; the list is endless.

The urge to worship God (discipleship) is a deep-rooted and powerful and supernatural force which is ingrained in our souls. True disciples are at peace with God, themselves, their family, and their neighbors. Those who refuse to accept God’s call are predictably angry, hostile, and resentful because of the Godless existence they live. But there is always hope because God never abandons his people – even when they reject him!