A Voice Cries Out

There is one voice upon the earth that unites humanity and utters its lonely cry through many tongues. This voice comes forth from the depths of the souls all people, from hearts that long to know the answers to two questions. The first being “God are you out there”? The second being predicated on the answer to the first being yes, is “do you love me”? In other words, “am I okay, and do I dare to hope”? Many who cry this prayer know that the answer is yes and others dare not believe for fear of one more disappointment. They fear that it would undoubtedly be fatal rejection, like the schoolboy who never asks the girl he fancies to dance. Acknowledged or not, the cry is the same from every heart on earth.

We are created by a loving God who displays evidence of His existence in every direction that we look; in the warmth of the sun; in the beauty of a women or man; in the water He provides for us to drink; in the wheat of the field that we eat; in the amazing workmanship of a single flower; the miracle of sight; or the birth of a child. The heart that can look upon the beauty and complexity of the created world and deny that God exists is a heart that is afraid to believe, for the evidence is undeniable.

I wonder if there could be anything more beautiful to God than the soul that reaches towards Him in love. The soul that responds to His loving touch in worship, the soul that weighs the evidence and in his or her heart and cries, “thank you” for the life that it has been given. God not only displays the evidence of His existence through His creation, but He also speaks to the hearts of humanity through His Spirit. People throughout the ages and in every corner of the Earth have responded to the beckoning call of God’s love to His creation. The response to this call can be seen in the evidence uncovered by archaeologists as they discover the ruins of ancient civilizations throughout the world. We can plainly see this response in or modern world. The cry is the same, “We hear you God and desire a relationship with You.” Our expressions are quite different, however, but the cry is the same. In Tibet they fly colorful flags in the wind, Native Americans call out to the Great Spirit, Muslims cry out daily in their mosques, Christians in their churches or cathedrals, and countless other expressions of love towards God are carried out daily throughout the world.

God has responded and continues to respond to every cry from every soul who has ever existed. He came to us in perfect humility in the form of a helpless baby named Jesus (Emmanuel). He came as a light into a dark and needful world. He stepped off of His throne and walked amongst His creation, knowing full well that the ones He loved would turn on Him in anger. He suffered and agonizing, shameful, death that He did not consider shameful, but as the way to redeem a fallen world unto Himself.

16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

Jesus laid down His life in perfect humility. Who would say to a man “Tie me to that post and whip my back until my flesh is torn from my bones because this is the way that I will heal you?” Who would say “Drive spikes through my hands and my feet because I want you to spend eternity with me?” Who would say “Hang me upon a cross until I die because I so desperately want to forgive you of all of your sins?” The answer is One Who loves deeper than humanly possible.

Every human who has ever existed or ever will exist has shared in crucifying our Savior through our sin. We are all guilty of the Blood of Jesus Christ. The Good News is that we are all saved through His sacrifice if we humble ourselves and meet him at the foot of the cross and accept our part, by repenting of our sins, and accepting Him as Lord and become washed by the Blood of His suffering.

This is the Good News of the Gospel – A great light of hope has come into the world and has offered humanity a way of salvation. Those of us who have accepted Jesus at the foot of The Cross and who are washed by His Blood have become bearers of the Light. Our part now is to go throughout the world and share this “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, illuminating a hurting world with Hope.

Jesus is the Truth the Life and the Way, and it is by no other that access to Heaven will be granted (Ephesians 14:16 paraphrased). No other has given enough, or could ever to pay our debt: the innocent blood for the wretched souls of humanity, the humble for the proud, the Creator for His creation. There could be no way to Heaven other than through this Door that our loving Father in Heaven opened in love, yet there are those who seek another way.

Why do many seek another way? Why isn’t Jesus enough? The answer is simple. Sin! Sin is what separates man from his or her loving Creator. The lie that separated humanity from our Father in the Garden of Eden is still being perpetuated to this day. The lie that we can be like God. The lie that has been whispered in the ears of humanity throughout the ages – saying “God is trying to keep you from all of the goodness that this life has to offer.” The lie that comes from the enemy of our souls that says, “Just look around at all of the fun that everyone else in the world is having. Why shouldn’t you have that everything you want right now?”

How do we walk in sin and still find our way to Heaven when we die? There are some who believe that the answer to this question is the “cosmic christ.” The teachers of the “cosmic christ” claim that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were unnecessary. They assert that a loving God would not require the death of His Son as payment for the sins of humanity. The problem of sin has been solved by these teachers (Yes, this is absurd). They will tell you that “christ” was released into the earth at creation, that creation itself was the first “christ,” and that God released this “christ” back into the earth at the incarnation of Jesus.

Does this “cosmic christ” story sound familiar? For those who are students of the Bible, it should sound very familiar. Let’s take a look at the first time this story of deception was told by the father of lies.

1. Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”

2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;

3. but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.

5. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

7. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:1-7

Herein lies that most disturbing part of this deception. Adam and Eve walked in perfect union with God, and yet they fell for the lying tongue of the serpent. This lie has been whispered into the hearts and minds of humanity throughout the ages. This deception was originally perpetuated through Adam and Eve, the first to walk with God, and is now being perpetuated by those who are walking with God, through the Church.

God redeemed humanity from the effects of following after the lie of deception perpetuated in the Garden. God sent us His son Jesus out of Love. The way of salvation is so simply laid out before us, yet there are those who chose a lie over the truth.

22. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

2 Peter 2:22

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FB Ad Purgatory

“Wellspring of Life”

There was a time when I was absolutely convinced that a belief in a place called Purgatory was foolishness. I was sure of the fact that I would never be convinced of anything different. I quite often shake my head and smile as I consider that this doctrinal belief that I at one time so adamantly opposed has become a wellspring of life within my spirit.

Read The First Two Chapters Free – Click Here!

Purgatory CoverMy hope is that “Purgatory – Heaven’s Healing Waters” will minister to your spirit. I wrote this book as a resource to help all believers come to a better understanding of this place of our Lord’s healing.

The following is from the chapter titled “The Suffering of Purgatory.”

I picture our journey toward God as a progressive state of purification—God being this “all consuming fire” that we are walking toward. As we walk closer to the fire the “stuff of this world” starts to burn away: the hurts, resentment, jealousy, hatred, and shame, just to name some of the “stuff.” We stop to take breaks along the path because the heat is too much for us to handle, but as we allow this “stuff” to be burned away, we are able to move closer. When we reach the end of our journey, we will be standing in front of God, this all consuming fire, and the flames will not hurt us in any way; they will actually, become our habitation, the place where we live. We will be living in Glory with God in His habitation.

It is when we move closer to God that we start feeling the pain of the “stuff” beginning to burn away. We are being purged of the sin and pain of this life. Purgatory is a place of purging, just like the word sounds. When I speak of Purgatory as a place, I am not speaking of a specific place. Purgatory is not a huge pit of torment as described by so many throughout history. Purgatory is a place in the heart. We often hear people say, “I am in a good place right now in my faith” or conversely “He or she does not seem to be in a good place right now.” Being in the place of Purgatory is the same thing, positional in our walk with the Lord. I have also heard people say that our experience here on Earth is part of Purgatory. If we are drawing closer to God and allowing Him to cleanse us of our hurts and faults, I would agree. Quite often as people draw closer to God, and the pain of Purgatory becomes too great, they pull back. I know I have pulled back. The danger is when we pull back for too long a period of time. Most of us know people who have pulled back never to return. They are just not going to deal with the pain. They retreat instead into the bottle, drugs, or even bad relationships.

One of the things that really got my attention when I was going through my “big breakdown” was when I would wake up out of a sound sleep sobbing or when I would break out in tears for no apparent reason. Although we might not be aware of the pain in our earthly consciousness, the pain is affecting our spirit just the same. I often wonder what people’s spirits would look like if we could see past our earthly facades? Would we see the pain that sits so very close to the surface of our consciousness?
St. John of the Cross, in his poem and commentary, The Dark Night of the Soul, explains this condition of our beings in great detail. He describes the condition of our soul and spirits as being hidden within this “Dark Night.” This is one of those books that I would encourage any person to read at least once a year. The writer’s perception of God’s interaction with our soul has been a great comfort to me through my personal healing process. This work, however, is one of the most misquoted within the church. Please read the writing for yourself. You will not regret the insight and richness that it adds to your walk with our loving Father. St. John details the steps that take place as God heals our fallen souls and spirits during this life. This healing is very painful at times and causes much suffering; however, this suffering is not the reason St. John titles his work The Dark Night of the Soul. When he refers to the “Dark Night” or “Dark Nights of purgation,” he is communicating a state or states of healing in which God places us during this life. The inference is that during this life God has separated our consciousness from being aware of the movements of God as He interacts with our soul and spirit. St. John of the Cross is not describing a really bad depressing period of time in one’s life, although many of these periods of emotion are inevitable during this Dark Night. Our consciousness is separated into darkness from our soul or spirit as it is being ministered to by God in His light.

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The e-book is being offered on Amazon. It is our hope that you will enjoy the book and bless us with a review on Amazon. Positive reviews will help this message reach the folks for whom it is intended.

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Purgatory – Introduction

I have received many comments and questions concerning the book and on the subject of purgatory over the past few weeks. I touch on many of subjects discussed in the introduction of Purgatory – Heaven’s Healing Waters. The following is the introduction in its entirety. The introduction and about half of the chapter titled “Holiness” are available on Amazon at no cost by clicking the book cover icon, or by downloading a free sample.

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Introduction 

The belief in a place called Purgatory is one of the Catholic doctrines that kept me from entering into full fellowship with the Catholic Church long before I did in April of 2009. I just could not get my mind wrapped around a place where God would send people to suffer for their sins.

Purgatory CoverIn my mind, Christ paid for my sins upon a cross one very dark day over 2,000 years ago, on a lonely hill called Calvary, outside of the city walls of Jerusalem. He took my punishment upon Himself so I would not have to burn in hell. God is Love, not some sick deity who delights in seeing people suffer! The Blood of Christ saved me. What more was there to discuss?

My view of Purgatory, to say the least, has dramatically changed since coming to understand and embrace Catholic doctrine. I have been asked time and time again, “Why did you decide to join the Catholic Church?” I quickly learned that most of my Protestants friends were not truly interested in learning why, nor did they offer enough time or respect to enter into a reasonable dialog. Their questions were typically rhetorical code for “Are you out of your mind? You joined a cult!” For those of you who are genuinely interested in understanding why I joined the Church, this writing on Purgatory will help in illustrating one part of my journey. I hope you will take the time to join with me in further discussion.

One of my motivations for putting down my thoughts in writing is my desire to have something to pass along to my children. This is my first attempt at creating that. Most of the answers to the questions people ask me are not a 5-minute response, as many are hoping. The greatest challenge I typically face is where to start. How do I explain something that has developed in my mind only through years of studying the Scripture? How do I express over a forty-five minute lunch what the Holy Spirit has been ministering to me for over twenty years?

Most Cradle Catholics (Catholics from birth) are catechized (taught about their faith) at a young age and continue through life very settled in their faith (Footnote 1). They typically trust in what they are taught and do not ask many questions. Conversely, as Protestants, we questioned everything. We were taught to “be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation” (2 Timothy 2:15).

When a Protestant asks a question of a Catholic, he or she is looking for an answer grounded in Scripture. Scripture is the Protestant benchmark concerning the truth of God’s Kingdom. Most Protestants live, eat, and breathe the Bible and consider the Bible to be their ultimate governing authority, a platform that the Catholic Church refers to as “sola scriptura” (Latin for – “scripture alone”). Catholics, on the other hand, look at the authority of the Church differently. Catholics believe that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of truth” as stated by the Apostle Paul in his fist letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verse 15.

The difficulty herein surfaces when a Protestant asks a question of a Catholic concerning what he or she holds as a certain tenet of his or her faith. In response, a Catholic will most often give a scripted answer that has been taught by the Church.

For example, some time ago I was participating in a small Bible study group when a new convert to Catholicism expressed frustration in understanding the doctrine of Purgatory. A Cradle Catholic in the group answered with intentions of being helpful and explained that “Purgatory is the place where we go after we die to be cleansed of our sins after the death of our physical bodies.” While this answer is not incorrect, it is, however, incomplete. Additionally, the person providing the answer did not understand the question as it was framed in the mind of the person who asked the question. It would be unrealistic to expect of him to be a mindreader, but we must keep in mind the basic differences as to the way we come to the understanding biblical truth that, far to often, needlessly divides.

Catholics typically do not have a problem believing what the Church teaches and most often do not understand the Protestant mindset. This is great for Catholics, but if we as Catholics are ever going to communicate to our Protestant brothers and sisters with some understanding of what we believe to be true, and share the beauty of our faith, we need to begin listening to the questions in the ways that they are asked.

What Protestants hear when they receive an answer like the one above is that the person giving the answer is completely ignorant of Scripture. Walls go up, and all communication ends. These types of answers are the reason why the majority of Protestants believe that Catholics do not understand the truth of the Bible. However, this, in reality, is not even close to the truth, when the Catholic Church, as I have so happily learned, embodies the truth of the scripture.

Catholics understand the truths of the Bible through the teachings of the Church. Unfortunately, though, it is true that the majority of Catholics have a limited understanding of how and where to look in the Bible for the scriptural texts that back up those teachings, and, quite frankly, most don’t feel any need to learn scripture because they trust the Church. Happily, I can report that there appears to be a movement within the Church for its parishioners to read and learn the Bible.

Fellow Catholics, the burden is ours to reach out to our Protestant brothers and sisters in love. I am not saying that they are wrong and we are right—to endorse this type of mindset is the way walls are built. We do not need to be wall builders; we need to be bridge builders. We have plenty to learn from the Protestant tradition.

Getting back to the question asked by the convert in the small group. What she was actually, saying was “Please show me in scripture where God teaches about Purgatory. Please help me to understand, because if it is true, I really want to know.”

Catholics, I understand that the Church is our authority when it comes to Church doctrine, but, as I have learned, the doctrine that we have been taught is grounded in biblical truth. If for no other reason, please learn how to explain our faith through the Bible out of love for our neighbors, so that when we are asked, we can give a reason for the hope that we carry so precious within our hearts (1 Peter 3: 15).

6. My people are ruined for lack of knowledge!

Hosea 4: 6

It only takes a quick Internet search for “Purgatory” to fill the mind with hundreds of grotesque images of the depravity of humanity—images depicting naked, suffering, and often burning souls that have been illustrated through paintings and various other forms of disturbing artwork throughout the history of the Church.

Please do not go to the Internet to see these images. These images are nothing that we need to let into our minds, nor do they accurately depict Purgatory. Throughout Church history, there have misguided people who have felt that creating a picture of God as a mean, nasty, and vindictive being would somehow turn people away from sin, and toward holiness.

I love the Catholic Church, but I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge that there have been those who have planted some very misleading thoughts in the minds of the faithful that are, in fact, not Church doctrine but have just the same become an integral part of Her fabric. The Church is very clear in Her belief in the doctrine of Purgatory, but, unfortunately, not everything taught by Her members, leadership, or lay is official Church Doctrine.

God is the God of Love. He is truly Love, who sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. Jesus paid the price for our sins that we could not pay in 10,000,000 years in a place called Purgatory.

So what is Purgatory? Purgatory is a place where we go to deal with our past sins, but not as a penalty or punishment. Purgatory is a place of healing. There is a huge difference between the penalty for sin, which the Blood of Christ covered, and the effect that sin has on our souls. Sin leaves scars and pain upon on our souls, perceived by us or not, that are in need of the healing touch of Christ. When we enter into God’s Throne Room in Heaven, we will be whole beings free from “spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27). Jesus is our healer, and He “who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Pope John Paul II described Purgatory as a “condition of existence” rather than a physical place. The goal of every believer should be to grow as close as possible to the Father, not just simply to enter into Heaven. God is perfect, and Holy and His habitation is Glory. As we move closer to Him, we become Holy as He is Holy (1st Peter 1:16 & Leviticus 20:26). In this world, we become entangled (Hebrews 12:1) in a web of sin. Our only hope of becoming freed from this web is the healing touch of our Savior (Romans 7:25).

God is most concerned with the “condition” of our “existence” (our souls). We are here on earth for a reason. None of us is completely sure of why we are here or the ultimate goal of our existence (1st Corinthians 13:12), but we need to understand that God loves us and that He will not stop until every one of us, who loves Him, is made whole and has reached the goal that He has for us to achieve, the most important of which is to be with Him in Eternity.

In summary, this book has two main goals.

The first is to help our Protestant brothers and sisters gain a better understanding of Purgatory and likewise, perhaps gain a better understanding of our Catholic faith through a few of the rabbit trails that will come up throughout the book.

The second is to give our Catholic brothers and sisters the resources to better explain our faith. Protestant or Catholic, I hope you enjoy this part of our journey together.
Please understand this writing is a complete thought meant to be read in its entirety. Please do not put the book down half way through. My intention is to build one biblical truth upon another. My concern is that the reader might come to anticipate where the trail is leading.

The e-book is being offered on Amazon. It is our hope that you will enjoy the book and bless us with a review. Positive reviews will help this message reach the folks for whom it is intended.

Purgatory – Heaven’s Healing Waters

Read TheFirst Two Chapters Free – Click Here.

The word “Purgatory” all too often invokes images of suffering, tormented souls. The word never appears in the Bible but has nevertheless become a major bone of contention within the Church. Beginning my faith journey as a Protestant, Purgatory was presented to me as a Catholic teaching that proves that Catholics do not understand the saving grace of the message of Jesus Christ—that Catholics somehow believe that they will be made to pay for their sins in torment after they pass from this life. The sad truth, though, is that is exactly Purgatory Coverwhat many Catholics have been taught through the age of the Church regardless of the truth of what the Bible communicates and what official Church doctrine states. During my conversion process into the Catholic Church, I began to come to the understanding that this doctrine was not a Catholic fabrication, but a beautiful truth so very clearly illustrated throughout Scripture. God is our loving healer, and once the scales begin to fall from the eyes of our understanding and we learn to read scripture, not through Protestant or Catholic lenses, but through lenses of how much God loves us, we will begin to see clearly how much our loving Father desires to heal us from the filth of this life. What we need to understand is that God is not a vindictive spirit that gets some type of sick feeling of satisfaction out of watching those whom He created suffer. The truth is that Purgatory is a place where our loving Lord brings us to wash us free from the wounds suffered in this life. It is not a place of punishment for sin, but a place where we will learn to wade out into deep places of the healing waters of Heaven. Once we truly understand this truth within our hearts, we will begin to thirst for this place of existence that we call Purgatory.

The e-book is being offered on Amazon. It is our hope that you will enjoy the book and bless us with a review. Positive reviews will help this message reach the folks for whom it is intended.