Monday, June 27, 2011

Matthew 16:15 - Jesus is Lord

Scripture Matthew 16:15
“Who do you say that I am?”


If Jesus was not just a mortal prophet, a great and powerful man then who was He?

This is the central question of the Gospel? And it is asked by none other than Jesus himself, who turned to His disciples and said: “Who do you say I am?”

There are really only 5 possibilities and they all start with the letter L

Light and fluffy new ager


The problem with calling Jesus a “legend” is that no reputable historian in the world would say Jesus never existed. Most of the New Testament was written when the eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus life, death and resurrection were still alive. If the apostles were enthusiast who just got a bit excited and mistook their rabbi for God, then why do the Gospel accounts show the disciples to be slow to understand His message and put their faith in Him?


Maybe the apostles told what they believed to be true. Isn’t it still possible that Jesus was the deceiver here, bent on selling Himself to the crowd for the usual reasons of power and money?

The problem is Jesus does not do the things that a deceiver or opportunist would do. He flees into the desert when people try to make Him king (John 6:15). Then He makes speeches (John 6:25-60) that are guaranteed to offend all but the most die-hard grassroots supporters. He repeatedly conceals His miracles (Mark 5:43, 7:36, Luke 5:14) etc. Such “political” blunders characterised His entire career. If He was after worldly power, He had a strange way of showing it.


Perhaps Jesus was just insane and merely believed He was God. This explanation doesn’t work. Consider the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew ch’s 5-7). Does this look to you like the ravings of a lunatic? Read again His deft answer to the people who wanted to catch Him in His words (Mark 12:13-17). Observe His brilliance and subtlety of His answer to those who wanted to stone the woman taken in adultery. (John 8:1-11). This kind of savvy is hardly evidence of madness.

Light and Fluffy New Ager

Some say that Jesus did claim to be God, but He meant it in an Eastern or ”New Age” way. He was merely asserting His “God” conscienceness in an attempt to awaken this same conscienceness in us. He was, in short, a guru to the Jewish people. It is an interesting thought but its not what Jesus said. On the contrary, He affirms that God is Lord of heaven and earth, not that He is heaven and earth. He does not speak of God as identical with creation. Far from asserting that He’s OK and we’re OK, he frequently tells us we are evil, but He is without sin; we are from below, but He is from above (John 8:1-11; 23) He insists that the way to life is not by discovering our divinity but by putting our faith exclusively in Him.

Jesus is the Lord

As we consider all the evidence, there is only one possibility that truly satisfies: Jesus is who He says He is.

He is God in the flesh.
He is the eternal Son of God, the Messiah, sent to save the world from it’s sins.
He indeed is the Lord of the universe, who came to give us eternal life.
He really and truly shed His blood for us on the cross and
He really and truly rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Now He offers us all the riches of His love, mercy, forgiveness, joy, power, and peace by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life with His Father through the sacraments of His Church, which is His body.

That’s what we find when we really “seek the truth”.

Source: The Da Vinci Deception by Mark Shea and Edward Sri

"[T]o the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of him that has willed everything which is"

Source: Ignatius of Antioch – who knew the Apostle John - Letter to the Romans 1 [A.D. 110].

Revelation 22:18-19

Scripture Revelation 22:18-19

I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.


One false claim made by the Da Vinci Code

The Bible is a product of man not God; man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions (DVC 231)


The translation committees today do the best they can with the best knowledge they have in producing the most accurate translation from the original texts.

Those original texts are known by textual criticism to within an accuracy of 98-99% pure (Geisler / Nix, page 474).

We have well over 5000+ Greek manuscripts, over 10000+ Latin manuscripts, over 36000+ citations from the Church Fathers, from which to reconstruct an accurate original text (Geisler / Nix, page 466-467, 385, 345-346, etc).


The New Testament Scriptures are the most reliable texts we have from antiquity.

The Second Most Attested Manuscript From Antiquity is the Iliad by Homer

There are about 5,000 ancient Greek copies of New Testament versus about 650 copies of Homer’s Iliad.

These New Testament copies are much closer in date to the originals and are considered reliable due to having a 99% match.

To sum up:

“The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book—a form that is 99.5 percent pure.”


John 20:31 - Risen Christ


John 20:31

These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

2 Tim. 3:14-15

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Are we going to trust the word of 4 guys who apparently don’t even have last names, that there was this guy Jesus, after all weren’t those 4 guys “followers” of Jesus?

Groups of disciples on multiple occasions claimed to have seen the Risen Christ.
That is a fact.
There might be various explanations for this but you can’t just say that they didn’t claim to have seen the Risen Christ.
If you do that, you are writing off all of ancient history
You could also ask: “How do we know if Socrates existed?”

There is probably not a philosopher in the world who doubts the existence of Socrates.
Nobody doubts that there was a Socrates.
Yet how do we know there was a Socrates?

The truth of it is we have only three sources.
Plato, Xenophon, (who were disciples of Socrates) and a satire written by Aristophanes.

Do you hold that because the documents relating to Socrates often came after his death is the reason that we are not going to believe a word of it?

If you apply the standard used by atheists for determining the validity of historic Biblical writings, you may have to right off ALL of ancient history.

We would not believe anything we read.
We wouldn’t believe Caesar crossed the Rubicon.
We wouldn’t believe Alexander the Great conquered Egypt.
We wouldn’t believe that Socrates was walked the streets of Athens.

Essentially ancient history would be reduced to complete nonsense.
Mainstream historians are in no doubt that there was a Jesus.

Source: Dinesh D’Souza v Dan Barker and John Loftus debates

1 Corinthians 15:12-14 - Resurrection

Scripture 1 Corinthians 15:12-14

[12] Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

[13] But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;
[14] if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.


Mainstream historians generally concede these 5 accepted facts of the Resurrection of Jesus as a historical event.

There was a man called Jesus
He lived on the earth, he preached, he made a lot of enemies, they got a hold of him and they crucified him

After they killed him they stuck him into a cave and they put a big stone in front of it and had Roman guards guarding it.

Later, some disciples, notably women, showed up and claimed that when they got to the tomb the tomb was empty

Numerous groups of disciples (a bunch of Jesus followers including some sceptics) on different occasions said
we saw the Risen Christ. We saw Jesus after his death, he spoke to us, we touched His wounds, we saw the guy, He is alive.

The disciples were so excited and animated by this they began a movement of conversion - the greatest conversion movement in history. Even in the face of horrible persecution and opposition such as people saying to them “Renounce Jesus or be killed”, many of them went to their deaths.

What explanation makes sense of those facts?

The Jews, for the first couple of centuries after the death of Jesus said the disciples stole the body.

They stole the body and claimed that Jesus was resurrected.

But think about it, disciples mainly women fought off the Roman guards and rolled back a big stone and then stole the body.

It is a little far fetched.

How would they have done that?

If they have stolen the body they would have known Jesus was actually dead and yet why would they go to their deaths and the face persecution for what they know to be a lie.

Who gives their life for a lie – for what they know to be a lie?

Modern theorists dismiss this.

If the resurrection happened, it makes sense of those five facts.

Source: Dinesh D’Souza v Dan Barker (and) John Loftus debates

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Romans 1:20-22 - Atheism

Scripture Romans 1:20-22

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Fine tuning of the universe calls for a Fine Tuner
Not only did the universe explode into being out of nothing.
It did so with extreme precision.
In other words, the Big Bang was not a chaotic explosion but an incredibly precise event.

Source: Frank Turek

Our universe operates according to some very specific numerical values. We have the speed of gravity, speed of light, the weak force, the electro magnetic force, the strong nuclear force.

One physicist who teaches at Princeton said it is sort of like this.

It is like God is sitting at a big desk and He has got loads of different dials each representing one numerical constant each set precisely to a fixed number.

Now what one of the dials were moved? For example what if light were not to travel at 186,000 miles per second but 200,000 miles per second.
What if the values of the universe were a little different?

This question was described by Stephen Hawking in his book a Brief History of Time.
If you move one of the dials not 1% (one percent) but 1 part in a hundred thousand million million you would have no universe and you would have no life!

The entire universe has to be as big as it is and as old as it is and contain precisely the numerical values it does because if it didn’t we wouldn’t be here.
The universe is a giant conspiracy it seems to produce us.

Now this argument has put modern atheism completely on the defensive.
Because it is an argument utterly immune from Darwinian attack.
We are talking why, not just our planet, but the whole universe has the values it does.
I would suggest that the idea of a Creator is the best available explanation.

The universe is fine tuned for life.

The fine tuning of the universe suggests a fine tuner.

I am calling that finer tuner “God”

Source: Dinesh D’Souza vs Dan Barker – The Great God Debate.mp3

The fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life makes Gods existence highly probable.

During the last 30 years or so scientists have discovered, that the existence of intelligent life depends on a complex and delicate balance on initial conditions simply given in the Big Bang itself. We now know that our existence is balanced on a razors edge.

The existence of intelligent life depends on a conspiracy of initial conditions which must be fine tuned to an accuracy and degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable. It has been calculated that a change in the strength of gravity or the weak force by one part in 10 to the 100th power would have prevented a life permitting universe.

There is no physical reason why these constants and quantities should possess the values they do.

Source: William Lane Craig debate

The complexity of the universe, saying it is based on “an incredibly delicate balance of 17 cosmological constants. If any of them would be off by one part of a tenth at a forty potency, we would be dead and the universe would not be what it is.”

Source: Fr Spitzer

Matthew 10:29-31 - Atheism

Scripture Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.


Who made God?


A follow up question is generally raised which is:

If functional complexity requires a designer how do you account for the functional complexity of the mind of this designer you are compositing?

Basically what was asked is:
Maybe God did create the universe.
Maybe some complex mind created the world but who created that complex mind?

I think that question is irrelevant to our investigation.

It can be answered by an analogy –
We search for life on other planets and lets say we go to Saturn or Jupiter and we discover that there are all kinds of artefacts and monuments.

So we say we conclude there are intelligent beings on this planet they must have done this.

An atheist concludes that is a ridiculous explanation and they raise a follow up question –
Who created those intelligent beings?

And the answer is “who cares!” I don’t know who created the intelligent being.

I am simply trying to prove that the existence of intelligent artefacts and intelligent life shows that there must be intelligent beings that did this.

Who caused them is a matter for a separate investigation.
The fact that we don’t know where the intelligent beings came from is irrelevant.

The fact is we are trying to explain the artefacts and the presence of an intelligent alien is an acceptable explanation of the facts at hand.

We have an experience of artefacts.
Somebody must have made them.
We have no experience of alien intelligent beings.
We don’t know if those intelligent beings could live forever or someone made them at all.

We have no basis for inferring causation about intelligent beings because alien intelligent beings are alien to our experience.

Artefacts are not.

Therefore the first logical move – artefacts leads to alien intelligent beings is valid – the rest of it “there must have been other aliens” is conjecture because that is too remote from our experience for us to say anything about it.

So the bottom line of it is, if we can show an intelligent being – God – created the universe then that is a full and adequate explanation.

We can debate tomorrow if God is self sufficient, do God/gods require a cause themselves, we have no direct experience of that question therefore the logical problem of who created God does not arise. The fact that we don’t know who created the intelligent beings doesn’t mean that the intelligent beings didn’t do that.

Source: D’Souza vs Loftus Debate - Does The Christian God Exist.mp3


Source: Dinesh D’Souza vs Dan Barker – The Great God Debate.mp3


Are You Paying for Atheism?

"Children spend the majority of their waking hours in school. Parents invest a good portion of their life savings in college education and entrust their offspring to people who are supposed to educate them.

Isn’t it wonderful that educators have figured out a way to make parents the instruments of their own undoing?

Isn’t it brilliant that they have persuaded Christian moms and dads to finance the destruction of their own beliefs and values?

Who said atheists aren’t clever?"

Dinesh D'Souza - What's So Great About Christianity

Psalm 42:2-3 - Atheism

Scripture Psalm 42:2-3

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

My being thirsts for God, the living God.

When can I go and see the face of God?


Looking at Ourselves

Things in the world are not the way that they aught to be.

That is a way of saying that we human beings live on two levels –

Ø we live on the level of the way things are and

Ø a second level where we can envision/imagine/work towards a perfect way of life – perfect justice, perfect beauty, perfect truth, perfect harmony and so on.

So here we have a chasm between the way things are and the way things aught to be.

This is verifiable by looking within us. We don’t need theories or science.

We can just look within ourselves and we see we operate on these two levels.

Lets just call the first level the way things are – the human level

And lets call the way things aught to be – the divine level.

I want to suggest that in all the religions of the world that to go from the human level to the divine level you have got to build a ladder and make a supreme effort through codes, commandments, laws, dietary regulations –these may differ but the idea is the same. You climb up this ladder and as human beings we move rung by rung to the divine level.

What is unique about the Christian answer is that Christianity steps back and looks at this process and says this is a very impressive attempt but it is not going to work.


Because the chasm is between the way things are and the way things aught to be is too big.

If this gap is going to be closed, it has to be closed from the other side.

In other words, God has to descend or condescend to the human level and that is the only way to bridge this chasm.

This is the role of Christ helping to bridge this huge chasm between the way things are and the way things aught to be.

Source: D’Souza vs Loftus Debate - Does The Christian God Exist.mp3


First, there is the question of whether something exists or not. A thing can exist whether we know it or not.

Our argument first derives a major premise from the real world of nature: that nature makes no desire in vain.

Then it discovers something real in human nature—namely, human desire for something more than nature—which nature cannot explain, because nature cannot satisfy it.

Thus, the argument is based on observed facts in nature, both outer and inner.

The atheist Jean-Paul Sartre admitted that "there comes a time when one asks, even of Shakespeare, even of Beethoven, 'Is that all there is?'"

Source: Peter Kreeft

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists.

A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food.

A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water.

Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Source: C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope"


Celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking knows more about the universe than almost any other person ever to walk the planet, but some answers still escape even him.

In June 2010, when asked by ABC (USA) News' Diane Sawyer about the biggest mystery he'd like solved, he said,

"I want to know why the universe exists, why there is something greater than nothing."


Did you hear the one about the atheist who goes out fishing with his believer friend?
The atheist pulls up his net and finds a rock inscribed with the words: “I do not exist. Signed: God.”

The atheist turns to his friend: “What’d I tell you!”

One wants to be sympathetic to such a sincere cry of the heart. But one can’t help wondering: Is this all there is to life—pursuing a liberal social agenda while eating, drinking, and making merry?

What happens when we suffer, when people do us wrong, when we face persecution or attack for what we believe in, or for no reason at all?

What happens when we age and realize that this is all we’ve done with our lives?

The problem of the new atheism is the problem of the old atheism.

It amounts to the demand that God stand trial, that he justify his ways and means before a jury of his creatures.

It’s the protest of reason against the uncertainties and injustices of existence.

Reason tells us that God could have made the world differently—without giving us the possibility to do all the bad things we do to each other, without the possibility of all those things insurance companies used to call “acts of God.”

Reason causes us to wonder why God made us with free will, knowing what we would do with it. Why couldn’t his purposes be served by creating us with a little less freedom, or none at all?

And if it’s true that we’re made for heaven, why didn’t God put us there in the first place and let us skip this brief life of testing, pain, and heartache?

These are reasonable questions for which reason alone can give no answers.

What the new atheists forget is that a world without God is not a world without evil or innocent suffering.

It’s simply a world in which we face sufferings without hope, without any possibility of justice—in this life or in the next.

Atheists demands of the Bible things the Bible was never meant to provide—certitude, black and white answers, the absolutes of reason.

The Bible wasn’t meant to tell us why people starve in sub-Saharan Africa any more than it was meant to tell us about evolution or the “big bang.”

The Bible is written as the apostle John wrote—that we might believe in Christ and that by believing we might have life eternal.

It’s a book not only of reason, but of faith.

Faith helps us to see beyond this veil of tears, this gloomy Golgotha of pain and death.

It lets us see what angels longed to see, what the human eye has not seen and cannot see—that the suffering of this present time can’t be compared to the glory that will be revealed.

God’s love is stronger than evil, suffering, and death.

That’s the Bible’s true answer to our ultimate question.

Source: David Scott

Genesis 1:1 - The Big Bang

Scripture – Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


You really must read this article
** God and Modern Physics **

The Big Bang Theory
You don’t look at a book and assume it has no author.

Distinguished biologist Edwin Conklin, an associate of Albert Einstein at Princeton university, agrees with St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274AD) proofs for the existence of God when he said “The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop”.

God may have created the world through a “big bang” followed by millions of years of evolution, or He may have simply created everything at once in its current form. We do not know for sure.

What is certain, however, is that it is absolutely impossible to look at an intelligently ordered and beautiful creation and deny that an intelligent creator is behind it.

Source: Do I Have To Go by Matthew Pinto and Chris Stefanick

A feature of this “scientism” is the extremely disturbing assumption that science and religion are, by their natures, implacable enemies.

Thoughtful Christians must battle the myth of the eternal warfare of science and religion.

For example, the formulator of the Big Bang theory was a priest.

When I say that the Big Bang theory itself demonstrates that the universe in its totality is contingent and hence in need of a cause extraneous to itself, atheists think I’m just talking nonsense.

Source: Fr Robert Barron



Extract of Christian v Atheist Debate transcript

How did we get a universe?

Now for a couple of centuries there was a kind of scientific answer to this question that seemed to support atheism.

Namely the universe has always existed. There has always been a universe and there is no reason to ask how we got it.
It has always been there. The universe is forever.

However one of the most important scientific discoveries of the twentieth century is that this notion that the universe is forever is factually false.

The universe is not forever.
The universe had a beginning.
In physics, it is called the Big Bang theory.

In a sense, first there was nothing and then there was a universe.
Now if you think about this for a moment.
This idea that first there was nothing and then there was a universe actually was stated before.

Before the scientists figured it out, the writers of the first book of Genesis, a bunch of Hebrews, said ‘first there was nothing and then there was a universe’.
Interestingly, if you asked these ancient Hebrews if they did any scientific experiments to figure it out they would have said:

No, we didn’t do any experiments, God told us, this is how it happened.

You may say this is common to every other religion, but actually it is not.
In most other religions, they believe God (or god’s) fashioned the universe out of some other existing stuff.

The Jews were the first to say, in effect, the universe was made out of nothing.

What I am saying today is that modern science has discovered that the belief that the universe was made out of nothing is basically true.
Not only did the universe have a beginning, interestingly space and time had a beginning.
Scientists used to believe space and time was eternal.
And so if space and time are properties of our universe, it follows that the term ‘before’ only applies to our universe.

In other words, before the Big Bang there was no ‘before’.

Source: Dinesh D’Souza vs Dan Barker – The Great God Debate.mp3

Or put a slightly different way

Discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics in the last 70 years have rendered the theory that the universe is eternal as improbable.

According to the Big Bang model of the universe all matter, energy, space and time came into being at a point in time, prior to that point the universe simply did not exist.

This fact tends to be very awkward for the atheist.
An atheist proponent of the Big Bang theory must believe the universe came into being from nothing and by nothing.

No such difficulty confronts the Christian theist.

Since the Big Bang theory only confirms what he has always believed, namely in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Source: William Lane Craig debate

A More Scientific Response (news article extract)

As science develops and the so called “Big Bang” theory of the origin and existence of the universe becomes more refined, “it becomes less and less possible for other explanations (of the universe) to be scientifically viable.”

The theory, developed by the Belgian Catholic priest and astronomer Georges Lemaître, proposes that the Universe has expanded from a primordial dense initial condition at some time in the past (currently estimated to have been approximately 13.7 billion years ago), and continues to expand to this day.

The model, according to Fr. Spitzer, has been revised, refined and scientifically established to a point that any other theory of the origin and existence of the universe has become harder and harder to defend.

Fr. Spitzer quoted the 2003 experiments by three leading cosmologists, Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, who were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.

“Every single Big Bang model shows the existence of what scientists call a ‘singularity,’ and the existence of each singularity demands the existence of an external ‘element’ to the universe,” Fr. Spitzer said.

He quoted Roger Penrose, the world-famous English mathematician and physicist, who corrected some of the theories of his friend and colleague Stephen Hawkins to conclude that every Big Bang theory, including the one known as Quantum theory, confirms the existence of singularities. Therefore, said Spitzer, the need to find an explanation to the universe’s existence drives us to seek “a force that is previous and independent from the universe.”

“The concept at this point is clear: nothing is nothing, and from nothing, nothing comes, since nothing is... nothing!” Fr. Spitzer said, to explain the fact that contemporary astrophysics demands “something with sufficient power to bring the universe into existence.”

“It sounds like a theological argument, but is really a scientific conclusion.

“There is no way to ignore the fact that it demands the existence of a singularity and therefore of a Creator outside space and time,” he added.

According to Fr. Spitzer, “this theory has become so scientifically solid, that 50% of astrophysicists are “coming out of the closet” an accepting a metaphysical conclusion: the need of a Creator.”

“What can we conclude of this? First that the Creator is really smart... and second that it must be a loving one, because He could choose so many more violent and chaotic alternatives, that it really has to make you wonder.”

Fr. Spitzer explained that “all this information must be conveyed in a simple manner to our seminarians, our college and high school students, who are mostly ignorant of the powerful Theistic message of today’s astrophysics.”

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD - philosopher and physicist

Source: 1-October-2009 -- Catholic News Agency

If current Big Bang cosmology is correct (and the evidence is very good that it is) then the entire space-time universe exploded into being out of nothing.

Therefore, the Cause of the universe would seem to have these attributes:

· spaceless because it created space

· timeless because it created time

· immaterial because it created matter

· powerful because it created out of nothing

· intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed

· personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces don’t make choices).

Source: Frank Turek

Isaiah 45:18 - Atheism

Scripture Isaiah 45:18

For thus says the LORD, The creator of the heavens, who is God, The designer and maker of the earth who established it, Not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in:

I am the LORD, and there is no other.


Many of us have seen various high profile atheists convincing others that God does not exist.

I have put together some responses from various sources that may provide you with some points to remember should you encounter such a position in your travels. Please excuse the length of these emails. I have arranged the emails so there is a quick summary below the scripture verse for the day but if you want to continue reading then the topic is expanded upon further on in the email.

Answering the big questions


Where have we come from?
What is the point of our lives?
Where are we going?

You might ask, lets consult science and get some excellent answers to these questions.

Well, here is science’s official answers to those three questions.

Don’t have a clue
Don’t have a clue
Don’t have a clue

In other words, when it comes to the three core questions of existence

Why are we here?
Why do we have a universe?
What is our ultimate destiny and purpose?
Science is embarrassingly silent, we have to look elsewhere for an explanation.

Source: D’Souza vs Loftus Debate - Does The Christian God Exist.mp3

Since the dawn of time people have sought to answer the big questions like: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

Can any of these questions really be answered?

A classic example of these questions is expressed in Gauguin’s painting entitled, “Whence, What, and Whither?” No honest person can ignore these questions and still consider himself thoughtful.

In the area of life and existence, and how life came into being, there are only three known explanations of origins.

1. Everything sprang out of nothing.

RESPONSE: Out of nothing, nothing comes

2. Existence and life originated from an impersonal source.

RESPONSE: With the view of an impersonal beginning you must accept that you are a product of chance.

To be a product of chance one would have no meaning or purpose; you just happen to be here.

3. Existence originated from a personal source.

RESPONSE : To be “created” implies a reason or purpose for that creation.

Our life would have meaning and would also explain our complex personalities and aspirations.

These are the only known possible answers to life and the universe.

Source: Does God Exist? by Cindy Ray Brown


The first possibility, that everything sprang out of nothing, cannot be sustained or proven because it is scientifically impossible that anything could come into existence out of utter nothing.

One of the most basic laws of physics is that, “Out of nothing, nothing comes.”

For example, zero times zero still equals zero.

As far as we can search back into history, and as played out in our daily experience, we have always seen the physical law of cause and effect.

Everything that we have, and have been able to discover, is a product or result of something else.

There is a source for everything.

If nothing was, then nothing it would remain.

It is a scientific fact that an effect cannot be greater than its cause.

Therefore, nothing could not cause something.

A beginning from nothing cannot be an adequate answer.

Nothing explains nothing.

So this leads us to the conclusion that something must have been forever. Something must be eternal. Therefore, if the universe was born from something that is eternal, then the cause for the universe must have existed outside of it because the universe is not known to be eternal. This eternal “something” could either be a variety of impersonal matter or a personal being. If nothing is eternal, then at one point something must have sprung out of nothing, but we have already established this theory to be unfeasible. Therefore, something must be eternal. Something has existed forever.

Somebody might ask, “Can’t we just believe that the universe always existed? We don’t have to explain its origin. It has always been here. Carl Sagan held this position in his best‑selling book entitled Cosmos. He wrote, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

While God may not be available for empirical investigation, the universe is. The vast majority of astrophysicists accept the theory that the universe began at a particular moment in space and time. As Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, summarizes the overwhelming scientific consensus, “Now the three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the universe had a distinct beginning.”

Thus far we have reasoned that something must be eternal, such as impersonal matter or a personal being. Also, current scientific discoveries have concluded that the universe had a distinct beginning, therefore, the cause for the universe must have been outside of itself.

The second possibility, that everything had an impersonal beginning, implies that: Time + Chance and Matter + Energy = Existence as we know it. Holding to this belief, everything would be a product of chance and impersonal forces.

The immediate dilemma with an impersonal beginning is twofold: first, it does not give an adequate explanation for an orderly universe, nor does it explain the human being with all the riches of personality, aspirations, and love.

With the view of an impersonal beginning you must accept that you are a product of chance.

To be a product of chance one would have no meaning or purpose; you just happen to be here.

If man has just been kicked up out of the “primordial soup,” that which is only impersonal chance, then those things which make him a man—hope of purpose and significance, love, notions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication—are ultimately unfulfillable, and are thus meaningless. In such a situation, is man actually higher or lower as compared to impersonal nature? He would then be the lowest creature on the scale. The green moss on the rock is higher than he is, for it can be fulfilled in the universe which exists because moss is also impersonal. The purpose of moss can be found scientifically, while the purpose and meaning of man cannot. If the universe is a product of chance and impersonal matter, then man, being unfulfillable, is meaningless. In this situation man should not walk on the grass, but should respect it, for it is higher than he.

Accepting the theory of an impersonal beginning sounds very chancy.

The three big questions—where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going?—are still not adequately answered. It must take an awful lot of faith to believe in this origin.

The third possibility, a personal beginning, is very different from the previous two.

The theory of a personal beginning is based on the existence of an eternal, Personal Being. (Remember, we’ve already concluded that something must be eternal.)

This Personal Being would have created the universe and mankind by an act of sheer will.

This position is most clearly stated in the Apocalypse where it reads, “For you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”(Revelations 4:11b)

Starting from a personal beginning, all the big questions can be adequately answered.

To be “created” implies a reason or purpose for that creation.

Meaning for our life would then be a real possibility.

This theory would also explain our complex personalities and aspirations.

A personal beginning provides a philosophical position that a person can live out consistently.

Source: Does God Exist? by Cindy Ray Brown

John 3:27-30 - Christmas and John The Baptist

Scripture John 3:27-30

John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease.


I have taken this opportunity to reflect on an important day in our calendar.

On this day each year the Church remembers the birth of John the Baptist.

Why today?

Like all things in the Christian faith, its meaning should be Christo-centric (centred on Christ).

The 24th of June – which was regarded as the date of the Summer Solstice (northern hemisphere) where from this point onwards the days got shorter meaning the amount of day light was becoming less and less culminating on the day of the Winter solstice when the amount of light was at its least..

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun and occurs on the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun's daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest.

In 46 BCE, Julius Caesar in his Julian calendar established December 25 as the date of the winter solstice of Europe. (wikipedia)

The birth of Jesus is “observed” on December 25 historically recognised as the day of the winter solstice, while the birth of His forerunner is observed six months earlier at the time of the summer solstice. Christmas is a "light" feast; the same is true today. (

In other words, the amount of light from this day (June 24) onwards was reducing.

The days were getting shorter and the nights longer.

Therefore, the time in history when Jesus was born (recognised in the Church as during the Winter solstice) the nights were at their darkest and the amount of light during the day was as its least.

Jesus then declared that He was the light of the world.

This point has great spiritual significance.

The text below is from a sermon on John the Baptist of St. Augustine written over 1500 years ago (Sermo 293, 1-3; PL 38, 1327-1328)

John is born of an old woman who is barren; Christ is born of a young woman who is a virgin.

That John will be born is not believed, and his father is struck dumb;

That Christ will be born is believed, and he is conceived by faith.

John, it seems, has been inserted as a kind of boundary between the two Testaments, the Old and the New. That he is somehow or other a boundary is something that the Lord himself indicates when he says, The Law and the prophets were until John. So he represents the old and heralds the new.

Because he represents the old, he is born of an elderly couple;

Because he represents the new, he is revealed as a prophet in his mother’s womb.

You will remember that, before he was born, at Mary’s arrival he leapt in his mother’s womb. Already he had been marked out there, designated before he was born; it was already shown whose forerunner he would be, even before he saw him. These are divine matters, and exceed the measure of human frailty.

Finally, he is born, he receives a name, and his father’s tongue is loosed.

Zachary is struck dumb and loses his voice, until John, the Lord’s forerunner, is born and releases his voice for him.

What does Zachary’s silence mean, but that prophecy was obscure and, before the proclamation of Christ, somehow concealed and shut up? It is released and opened up by his arrival, it becomes clear when the one who was being prophesied is about to come. The releasing of Zachary’s voice at the birth of John has the same significance as the tearing of the veil of the Temple at the crucifixion of Christ. If John were meant to proclaim himself, he would not be opening Zachary’s mouth.

The tongue is released because a voice is being born – for when John was already heralding the Lord, he was asked, Who are you and he replied I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

John is the voice, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John is a voice for a time, but Christ is the eternal Word from the beginning.

Luke 2:42, 49, John 2: 13, 16, 17, John.14:1-7 - My Fathers House


Luke 2:42, 49

[42] And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom;
[49] And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
[50] And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.

John 2: 13, 16, 17

[13] The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

[16] And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."
[17] His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me."


[1] "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.

[2] In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
[3] And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
[4] And you know the way where I am going."
[5] Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"
[6] Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
[7] If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him."


After having read these verses many times, the thought of Jesus teaching us all about “my Fathers house” in two separate context, did make me want to learn more.

I have searched for an explanation for quite a while now and found the following insight (edited for brevity):


The account of the first Passover in John (2:3–3:2) has prepared the reader to interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus in the third Passover (John 11:55–20:3) as the destruction and rebuilding of the true Temple, and nothing less.

We have here several significant deployments of Temple terms and images.

First, the phrase, “Father’s house,” in John 14:2 recalls the nearly identical description of the Temple in John 2:6 (“my Father’s house”). The two expressions are certainly close enough for the connection to easily be made, yet there is a subtle, theologically significant alteration.

In John 2:6 the phrase used in the Septuagint translation describes the Temple, the palace, and other large buildings in the Temple complex.

In John 14:2, however, the phrase also means “house,” but frequently tends toward a more personal and familial rather than architectural sense—“household,” “home,” or even “family.”

A shift is taking place in John 14:2–3 as compared with John 2:6: The sense of the new Temple is being extended from Jesus’ physical body to the community of God, that is, to God’s “household” or “family.” The Temple concept is being applied to what the later Church tradition would call the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Temple reference in the phrase “Father’s house” is confirmed by other Temple allusions in these verses. The reference to a “house” with “many rooms” could not fail to bring to mind the Jerusalem Temple, the largest and most multi-chambered edifice known to the Jewish reader. Indeed, the Temple’s “many rooms” are immortalized in certain passages of the Old Testament (Ezek. 40–42).

Jesus is telling his disciples that his departure is necessary to prepare a Temple sanctuary for them in which they will dwell with him. Frequently this is understood in terms of a heavenly, eschatological fulfilment—the disciples will dwell with Jesus forever in the “Temple” of heaven.

Jesus clearly speaks of the disciples “abiding” in Christ even now, in this life.

One also must be cognizant of John 4:23: “If a man loves me … my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Thus, Jesus goes to prepare a (holy) “place” for the disciples, with dwellings for them, but simultaneously the Father and Son will come to the faithful disciple and make their dwelling with him.

Therefore, John 4 taken as a whole, describes a mutual indwelling of Father and Son with the disciples, a mutual indwelling which is treated at greater length and more explicitly in the (Eucharistic) vine discourse of John 5:–7, with its stress on “abiding” or “dwelling”. All this suggests that Jesus’ promise to prepare a Temple in which the disciples shall abide will be realized now, in this age, through the mutual indwelling of the disciples, the Father, Son, and Spirit.

The disciples will be constituted a Temple by the Spirit, whom the Father and the Son will send after Jesus departs. The idea of the disciples as Temple—a concept also present in the scrolls found at Qumran —resonates on a deep level with other themes of the last discourse, especially when these are understood in light of Old Testament Temple traditions.

The Temple was the dwelling place of the name of God, the glory of God, and indeed, of God himself.

Compare these characteristics of the Temple with what is said about the disciples during the last discourse:

they are the locus of the name of God: “I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world. … I have made known to them your name.”
They have received the glory: “The glory which you have given me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22).
They are the dwelling of God: “the Spirit of Truth … dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:17);
“If a man loves me. … We will come to him and make our home with him” (14:23).

Source: Temple, Sign, and Sacrament: Towards a New Perspective on the Gospel of John

Scott W. Hahn - St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

John 4:2 - Greater Works

Scripture John 4:2

He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.


The term “works” (erga) is used as a synonym for “signs,” that is, referring to Jesus’ miracles, in many places in the gospel.

What could it possibly mean that the disciples will do the same “works” and even greater “works” than Jesus?

It could mean that the apostles would perform miracles, even more spectacular ones than those Jesus performed. There are two problems with this interpretation.

First, a historical problem. While Acts does record the apostles, especially Peter and Paul, performing miracles similar to those of Jesus himself, one would be hard pressed to argue that they exceeded the “grandeur” of, say, the raising of Lazarus or the resurrection itself.

Second, a theological problem. The “signs” and “works” Jesus performed were never ends in themselves. In fact, his comment, hinting at a kind of exasperation, in John 4:48 (“Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe”), suggests that the performance of miracles was a concession to a lack of faith among his contemporaries (compare John 20:29), but not a practice Jesus thought should be normative.

Thus, the thesis that the “greater works” refers to miracles performed by the disciples that would “outdo” those of Jesus himself faces some formidable objections.

But what other interpretive options are available?

One clue to the nature of the “greater works” is the explanation given at the end of Jesus’ statement, “Because I go to the Father.”

Taken at face value, this is not much of an explanation: there seems to be no reason why Jesus’ departure to the Father would result in the disciples accomplishing greater works than those of Jesus himself. The statement must be taken in conjunction with John 6:7: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The reason the disciples will perform “greater works” is not because of the absence of Jesus, but because Jesus’ departure will result in the gift of the Spirit, through which the disciples will be empowered to perform these works.

Another clue is the pattern we have observed—that, in the aftermath of performing signs, Jesus attempts to move those who have witnessed the sign from the “earthly” to the “heavenly”—from the physical miracle to that to which it points.

In John 3, Jesus tries to move Nicodemus from thinking of the “signs” in terms of “earthly things” (a physical re-birth) to “heavenly things”—rebirth by the Spirit, inseparably tied to baptism.

In John 6, he urges the people not to seek earthly bread through another multiplication miracle, but heavenly bread—himself and his Eucharistic presence, through which the Spirit gives life.

And without doubt, in Jesus’ hierarchy of significance, the Eucharistic bread of his “flesh” is “greater” than the bread created by the multiplication of loaves.

Could the “greater works than these” that the disciples will perform include the divine works of baptism and Eucharist carried out by the power of the Spirit?

This was noted long ago by Oscar Cullmann: “The “sacraments have this in common, that in the time after the resurrection they take the place of the miracles performed by the incarnate Christ.”

At least the following conclusions may be warranted exegetically: whatever the “greater works” will be, they will not be performed apart from the power of the Paraclete sent by Jesus; and whatever they are, they will not be unrelated to the rebirth of baptism and the nourishment of the Eucharist, toward which Jesus’ own “works” pointed.

That the “greater works” to be performed by the disciples do indeed relate in some way to baptism and Eucharist is supported by some of the imagery in the last discourse itself. (section of text at this part of article was removed for sake of brevity of email)

The major block of teaching in John’s third Passover narrative is the last discourse, which implies that the disciples will be formed into a new Temple through the work of Christ (John 4:2–3), and strongly emphasizes the commissioning of the disciples to continue the ministry of Christ after his departure.

The disciples will, in fact, perform “greater works” than those Christ has displayed, once the Spirit is given to them.

There is reason to think these “greater works” are related to the celebration of baptism and Eucharist, because in John 3 and 6 Jesus himself indicates that the reality of these two sacraments are of more value than the sensible “signs” he has performed.

A possible sacramental sense of the “greater works” is supported by the fact that Jesus’ commission to “wash feet” and to “abide in me” have baptismal and Eucharistic connotations respectively.

It is possible, then, that in the last discourse, we are to see that one of the ways the “works” or “signs” of Jesus will be continued is through the Spirit-empowered administration of baptism and Eucharist.

Source: Temple, Sign, and Sacrament: Towards a New Perspective on the Gospel of John

Scott W. Hahn - St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Luke 18:1-5 - Prayer

Scripture Luke 18:1-5

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.' For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.


One of the most difficult duties of the Christian life is prayer.

This is one of the most essential duties, but it is challenging because we are engaging in spiritual exercise and therefore we do not see the immediate fruit in the natural realm. Today’s readings invite us to strengthen our prayer life and to remember that perseverance is the key.

In today's Responsorial Psalm (Ps 121:1-8) we're told to lift our eyes to the mountains, that our help will come from Mount Zion and the Temple - the dwelling of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

Joshua and the Israelites, in today's first reading in Exodus (Ex 17:8-13), are also told to look to the hilltops. They are to find their help there - through the intercession of Moses - as they defend themselves against their mortal foes, the Amalekites.

Notice the image: Aaron and Hur standing on each side of Moses, holding his weary arms so that he can raise the staff of God above his head. Moses is being shown here as a figure of Jesus, who also climbed a hilltop, and on Mount Calvary stretched out His hands between heaven and earth to intercede for us against the final enemy - sin and death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26).

By the staff of God, Moses bested Israel's enemies (see Exodus 7:8-12;8:1-2), parted the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:16) and brought water from the Rock (see Exodus 17:6).

The Cross of Jesus is the new staff of God, bringing about a new liberation from sin, bringing forth living waters from the body of Christ, the new Temple of God (see John 2:19-21; 7:37-39; 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4).

Like the Israelites and the widow in today's Gospel, we face opposition and injustice - at times from godless and pitiless adversaries.

We, too, must lift our eyes to the mountains - to Calvary and the God who will guard us from all evil.

We must pray always and not be wearied by our trials, Jesus tells us today. As Paul exhorts us in 2 Timothy (2 Tm 3:14-4:2), we need to remain faithful, to turn to the inspired Scriptures - given by God to train us in righteousness.

As Jesus points out in the gospel reading in Luke (Lk 18:1-8), we must persist so that when the Son of Man comes again in kingly power, He will indeed find faith on earth.

May each of us grow in the perseverance of our prayer life and have the patience to wait for God’s timing.

May God bless all that you do for Him, and may everything else fall by the wayside.

Source: Catholic Call

Matthew 6:24-25 - No one can serve two masters

Scripture Matthew 6:24-25

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?


Attachment to Things

Our enslaving attachment to things prevents our inner freedom. How to overcome it?

We make too many concessions to the world, as a result, we condemn ourselves and those around us to mediocrity.

Today, it is tremendously difficult to live amidst the world and not succumb before the spirit of the world. The saints compare it to a cobweb which traps men and women and never lets them go.

Create a New World
We must live differently from the others. We have to act differently in marriage, in family life, in business and employment, in politics, in all our relationships. In all of these areas, we are to distinguish ourselves from others by means of our Christlike character.

The first Christians had the audacity to be different and therefore, they created a new world, a world filled with Christian values.

To be different often means to appear crazy as the first Christians did.

It also means to do battle against sin in all of its forms, beginning with oneself, but also battling against the many situations of sin in the world which surrounds us, such as, abortion and same sex union.

The first Christians were willing to give themselves up for the new creation, and became martyrs for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

They would say: Non sine sanguine, not without blood.

Without blood, the world does not transform itself nor does the Kingdom of God advance.

God is his perfect will permits the blood of martyrdom, but he might be asking much less from you.

Are you willing to go the extra mile for the sake of the Kingdom?

Thus, in spite of everything, we have to dare to be different, to appear crazy, to battle against the evil in ourselves and thus live in advance the world of tomorrow.

On the other hand, it is necessary that we consequently cultivate a style of evangelical poverty in our life. God asks us to conquer an austere style of life centered on being more and not on having more, centering on having confidence in God and his loving providence and not trusting in our material goods.

Therefore, we must create a new style of living, simpler and more solid.

For example, let us think about our clothing, our food, our types of parties, our vacations, our homes, our gadgets, our cars, etc. Do these reflect Jesus’ lordship in your life? Are they instruments to take the Gospel to others?

Also in our social interactions we should seek concrete ways of being able to grow in simplicity and moderation, in how to become unattached and how to be supportive and share. A Christian cannot allow himself to be guided in this area by the society of consumerism or by the materialistic or secular culture.

We have to be different. We must live the Christian way.

We should distinguish ourselves from the others by our simple and restrained lifestyle, by our independence from the society of consumerism.

Source: by Father Nicolás Schwizer

Acts 1:6-9 - Ascension

Scripture Acts 1:6-9

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to the end of the earth." And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.


The celebration of the Ascension (this Sunday) used to leave me a bit flat. It was clear what Good Friday did for me. And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable. But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?

Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity. It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another. The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.

Charity shares in the beloved’s joys and sorrows (John 14:28).

The first thing to remember about the Ascension is that it is about sharing in Jesus’ joy.

It is about celebrating his return to the heavenly glory to which he refused to cling (Phil 2:6-11).

It is about rejoicing that his crown of thorns has been replaced with the kingly crown, that the mocking crowd at Calvary has been replaced with myriads of adoring angels.

The Ascension is about Jesus’ triumph and glorification.

If we get our attention off ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit’s love of the Son to animate our souls, we’ll experience great joy.

But the Ascension is not just about charity. It is also a feast of hope. Yes, there is something in it for us.

He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). We will also one day wear crowns made of gold instead of thorns.

For us to endure until that blessed moment, we need divine power. That’s another reason we ought to rejoice in his Ascension. He takes his place at God’s right hand so that he can pour out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, upon his disciples (Ephesians 4:10).

As he ascends, he tells the disciples to wait for this power. But notice that he does not tell them to wait passively for the rapture. He does not instruct them to pour over Bible prophecies, debating about how and when he will return. In fact in Acts 1:11, after the Lord ascends out of their sight, the angels ask why the disciples just stand there, staring into space.

The waiting is not to be a squandering of precious time. It is waiting for a purpose, nine days of prayer (the first novena!) leading to empowerment. Why empowerment? Because they have challenging work to do. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28: 16-20).

We used to think that evangelization was something that happened in mission countries far away, carried out by priests and religious. Our own neighbourhoods are mission territory, and that all Christians are called to be evangelists. It is the “New Evangelization” because the place is new–right next door–and the missionaries are new since they include all us all.

I’m really not sure that St. Francis of Assisi ever said “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.” But if he did, note this–Francis often thought it very necessary to use words. His words could be heard in marketplaces, on street-corners, in Churches, wherever there were people. Of course, preaching without an authentic witness of life is certainly counterproductive. But forget about the idea that just the witness of our lives is enough. It is not. You may not be called to preach on street corners, but echoing 1 Peter 3:15, we all must be ready to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems.

Feel inadequate to the task? You’re in good company. Pope Benedict’s first public statement was an admission of his inadequacy. Do as he does–pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through you, and take the time to keep learning more about your faith so that you can share it with ever greater confidence.

Source: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - Ascension - What's in it for Me?

Isaiah 6:8 - Here am I. Send me

Scripture Isaiah 6:8

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."


We are ready for mission.

We’re gathered, we’re healed, we’re sent.

Biblical religion is a mission religion.

In the Bible, when God appears, when God speaks, when God call’s, He sends people.

With Moses, he is addressed from the burning bush. He hears God’s name.

Moses doesn’t stay at the burning bush for the rest of his life.

God says Moses, I’ve got a job for you. My people are crying out in their oppression in Egypt. You go and liberate them.

Isaiah sees that vision of God in the temple. He doesn’t stay in the temple but rather he is sent out by God to proclaim.

God addresses Jeremiah. Jeremiah says ‘Lord, I’m too young, don’t ask me’

Don’t say you are too young, I’ve got a job for you.

Saul of Tarsus is knocked down – and then he is sent.

In the first half of life we set the agenda.

My will, my projects, my plans.

Fair enough. Ok.

But in the second half of life, when you are ready to get serious, the Holy Spirit will invade your life and revolutionise your life.

Source: Untold Blessings – 3 Paths to Holiness

Father Robert Barron –

Matthew 10:16-22 - I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves

Scripture Matthew 10:16-22
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Who are the wolves we are up against today?

Are they those who ridicule us when we stand up for refugees, or howl us down when we criticise the government for their lack of compassion.

We don't know what it's like to live in an occupied country, though we see images of this on our television screens every day.

But we do know what it's like to live in a country that sets the economy above justice and spending on defence ahead of caring for the poor and underprivileged.

We may not be brought before heads of government, as Jesus predicted would happen to the apostles, but we may need to bring ourselves to the notice of the decision-makers if we are to follow the lead of Jesus and speak out when we see injustice in our society.

Jesus says, 'Don't worry about how to speak'. The Spirit will give us the words to speak.

All we need is faith!

Source: Daily Prayer Online

Luke 7:30-32 - We piped to you, and you did not dance

Scripture Luke 7:30-32

but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

"To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?

They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.'


The role of God and the role of people are reversed in this gospel. People are judging God’s word and finding it lacking.

The reality—wisdom—is that the opposite is true.

Wisdom is, at heart, the acceptance of God’s word. When wisdom is rejected, there is little way that the heart can be open to listen.

John the Baptist appealed to people in a particular way, while Jesus appealed in a different way.

The children of wisdom appreciate and welcome God’s words, however they are presented.

The gospel today shows a message that is falling on closed ears, or rather closed hearts.

The appeals are judged as ‘possession’ or ‘permissiveness’.

Our prayer today is for wisdom and a prayer of praise for our Father who is so generous to all.

Source: Daily Prayer Online

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Romans 5:11 - Atonement

Scripture Romans 5:11
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (NIV)
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (KJV)

Radio callers question
In trying to make the jump to a belief in Christianity, one of the key things I get confused about is the “atonement”.
Why was there not another way other than the crucifixion of Jesus to atone for our sins?
It seems a harsh roundabout way achieving what God wanted.

The word atonement, which is almost the only theological term of English origin, has a curious history.
The verb "atone", from the adverbial phrase "at one" (M.E. at oon), at first meant to reconcile, or make "at one"; from this it came to denote the action by which such reconciliation was effected, e.g. satisfaction for all offense or an injury.
"For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Response from Radio Guest
The atonement actually begins with the incarnation and God cared about us enough that He would want to become one of us.
He made us in His image.
We were spiritual, we were intelligent, we had creative thoughts, imagination, language.
We were made in His image and then we rebelled against Him.

God cannot tolerate sin.
God created the world to be good and to be holy like He is.
Man brought sin into the world.
As CS Lewis put it – we are not straight anymore, now we are bent and broken.

God loved us enough that He sent His son to become one of us, to relate to us but then also to pay the penalty that would have been due to us.

In other words, if I am a criminal and I kill someone and I break the law and I am in prison and then I am going to face the death sentence for that.
Somebody can come along and say ‘you know, I will take the death penalty for him, I will very graciously take his place if you let him go.’

Now this actually happened by the way in Auschwitz in 1941 with Maximillian Kolbe who voluntariliy took the place and died for another man and the man was set free.

And so this is somewhat what God did.
He came down in human form to die for humanity and take their place and in effect said I am going to show them how much I love them by doing this.

The interesting thing is, if you were in prison and on death row for murder and I came along and said I will take you place, that’s fine. But I am one limited person who can only be an exchange for one other limited person. The beauty of what Jesus did is that He is an infinite person and therefore He could die for an infinite number of people and save them. Now the reason I think, and when I watched Mel Gibsons movie the Passion of the Christ, this came to my mind – “Why is it so gruesome? Why is this so gory? Why did He have to go through this?”

And I think it was God trying to demonstrate how horrendous and egregious and wicked and upturning sin really is. It is not viewed by God or the church that sin is ‘oh we did something wrong, slap us on the hand’ but that sin is really a violation of the general rule that God made for the world and His moral code. And by violating that it does such damage not only to mankind but to all creation. It was so egregious and awful and wicked that only the crucifixion and a death like that could show and demonstrate how really bad it was and the consequences it brought about.

I think at the moment of Jesus death on the Cross was one of God’s most glorious moments. Jesus said ‘when I am raised up’ He is almost viewing this as being put upon a throne, the highest moment of a King, in all His glory. Jesus saw being raised up on the Cross as that pinnacle moment. It was at that moment where God who is Love by His very nature demonstrated to mankind how pure and powerful His love is. That He was willing to do that for us who didn’t even deserve it. How could you demonstrate love more than by that act?

Only God could come down and wipe out the sin and save us from the corruption that we have buried ourselves in and that is why I think we have the atonement.

(follow up question from radio caller)
Do you think that Jesus being God could have done it with a snap of His fingers?

He could have done something like that.
If I was Him I would have had a different reaction.
I would have said ‘you disobeyed, you are now living in sin and squalor and completely egregious behaviour. I am going to wipe you off the face of the earth’
I am not as loving as He is, I would have said ‘I am going to let you just rot in your choices’.

Maybe God could have snapped His fingers and done it, but because God is holy and just there is a requirement that justice be taken care of.

It is like in my family with my kids, I can over and over again overlook an evil done by one of my children but I know that if I have a great sense of justice that justice has to be done. If one son is beating up on another son all of the time I can’t just forgive him and ignore it I have to actually step in and rectify that.

And that is what God did. He came in and rectified it. He actually satisfied His own justice.

(the caller add’s in that he is beginning to understand the concept and that in his words ‘it basically comes down to justice, it is a combination of love plus justice’)
That is a very good point.

If God by His very nature is ‘just’ and ‘loving’, how can He satisfy both of those qualities of justice and of love?

In Love, God wants to forgive.
In Justice, God has to exact punishment and make things right.

But with Him and coming down and taking the punishment Himself, He satisfied both aspects of justice and love.

Source: Transcribed from the Catholic Answers Live radio show – Episode ca091023a
titled "Open Forum for Non-Catholics"
with guest Steve Ray

The Seven Last Words of Jesus


Here are the last words spoken by Jesus just before He died, in the order they likely occurred.

1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)

We know that this is the first of the sayings because Jesus made this statement immediately after the soldiers pierced His hands and feet.

2. "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk 23:43)

Scripture says Jesus said these words about the sixth hour to one of the criminals hanging on a cross beside Jesus. The hours of the day begin at six for the Jews and so the sixth hour is just after noon.

3. "Woman behold thy son, Son, behold, your mother!" (Jn 19:26-27)

This was later when the soldiers cast lots for His garments, while Jesus was on the Cross.

4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Scripture says He said about the ninth hour

5. "I thirst!" (Jn 19:28)


6. "It is finished!" (Jn 19:30)

are said in succession shortly before He died.

7. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Lk 23:46)

Is said just before He died.

Background - The Seven Last Words of Jesus

The Seven Last "Words" of Jesus Christ from the cross are actually 7 short phrases that Jesus uttered on Calvary that serve as an excellent holy week meditation. To find all of the seven last words of Jesus Christ, one must read all the gospels since none of the evangelists records all 7 last words. The sayings would have been originally uttered by Jesus in the Aramaic language, but only one of the last seven words of Jesus is preserved for us in the original Aramaic, namely "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani" or "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," which is actually a direct quote of the opening verse of Psalm 22. The rest of the seven last words of Jesus are found in the gospels after having been translated into Greek by the four Evangelists. For centuries these seven last words of Jesus have been also used as meditation points for spiritual conferences, retreats, and Lenten missions. (source:


Archbishop Fulton Sheen says from the very beginning of Christs experience of the Passion on the Cross, in this time suffering, Christ reveals the heart of God.

Notice in the first three words, Jesus speaks first to enemies, then to sinners and then to saints.

The first here words are directed from the heart of Christ to humanity, revealing Christs desire that all men be saved and protected in the family of God.

But His first thought was to His enemies, then to the sinner next to him on the cross and thirdly it was to His mother and John – to saints.

I think that says something powerful about Christs love for humanity and His desire that all would be saved.

Then in the fourth and fifth words, we see Christ turns from His hearts desire to see humanity healed, saved and cared for we see Christ turning to His own experience in His own person as the God-man, He experiences both (in the fourth word) the pain of separation from God (not that Christ was separated from God but in His radical union with us in the Incarnation He experiences our pain and our separation in His person in a mystical sense. So He can say for us “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me”. Here Jesus is referencing Psalm 22 which are words of hope and trust, not words of despair.

So He experiences man’s pain of separation or abandonment but in the fifth word He experiences God’s passion, if you will, of being abandoned by men.

When He says “I thirst”, as many spiritual writers tell us, Jesus was not only thirsting for water though it certainly was but He thirsted for souls.

In the sixth and seventh words Christ turns His gaze to His heavenly Father.

In saying “I is finished” it seems as though Jesus is completing His prayer that He began the night before when He said in John 17:4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gave me to do;

When Jesus said “It is finished” Jesus finished the task of filling the reservoir of sacramental life, but the work of letting it flood out into our souls is not yet finished. He finished the foundation but we must build upon it. He finished the Ark, opening His side with a spear but we must enter the Ark. He stands at the door and knocks but the latch is on the inside and only we can open it. Whether our work will ever be finished depends entirely on how we re-live His life and become other Christs for His Good Friday Passion will avail us nothing if we don’t take up His Cross and follow Him.

Into your hands I comment my spirit.

It was precisely in death that Christ overcame death.

Source: Catholic Answers Live radio - show - The Seven Last Words with Tim Staples drawing from the reflections in a book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen titled (as you would expect) the Seven Last Words

Luke 23:32-33, 39-43 - Two Criminals Crucified Next To Jesus

Scripture Luke 23:32-33, 39-43

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."


"Two thieves," because they thought this would make His death more disgraceful-making Him equal to common criminals.

One of these thieves, called the penitent thief, repented of his sins and received Our Lord´s pardon before his death.

The other thief died in his sins.

Holy writers tell us that one of these thieves was saved to give poor sinners hope, and to teach them that they may save their souls at the very last moment of their lives if only they are heartily sorry for their sins and implore God´s pardon for them.

The other thief remained and died impenitent, that sinners may fear to put off their conversion to the hour of death, thus rashly presuming on God´s mercy.

Persons who willfully delay their conversion and put off their repentance to the last moment, living bad lives with the hope of dying well, may not accept the grace to repent at the last moment, but may, like the unfortunate, impenitent thief, die as they lived, in a state of sin.


Luke 23:33-34 - Jesus is Nailed To The Cross

Scripture Luke 23:33-34

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." …..

Reflection - 11th Station – Jesus is Nailed To The Cross

Wounded, mangled, made to bleed, You consent to the violent attack of the hammer.

Patient in Your agony, You allow the cruel penetration of Your Body to make us one with You.

You give Bread of life to fill us as You receive our nails.
From Your love You bleed.
For love of us, for love of the Father, the Child bleeds for the children.
Brother bleeds for the brother who is killing Him.

You become one with the cross, absorbing completely the burden of sin, allowing it to permeate You – all the rage and loneliness and anxiety and despair and hatred and lust and greed and incessant lies of all mankind through all the ages, sinking into You, filling You up.

You are bombarded with poison and still You love.

Source: Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

Matthew 7:7 - The Problem in Asking God

Scripture – Matthew 7:7

Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.


The Problem in Asking God
We have all asked for something in prayer and not received it.
How can Jesus say, “Ask, and it will be given you?”
There are no guarantees our prayers will be answered the way we want.
Sometimes we ask and God says, “No!”

One Bible expert suggests that we mistranslated Jesus’ words. He said the gist of what Jesus meant was, “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” He thinks Jesus was telling us to persist in prayer.

We’ll never know the context in which Jesus spoke these challenging words.
Matthew puts them in one setting; Luke (11:9) in another. Luke ties them to Jesus’ urging perseverance in prayer.

In practice we are face to face with mystery. We do not know why God does what God does, or doesn’t do.
We comfort ourselves by remembering two things.

First, Paul tells us that when we pray, it is the Holy Spirit praying with us (see Romans 8:26). The idea of God asking God should give us some confidence.

Second, remember the blessing of seemingly unanswered prayer.

Sometimes we ask for what is not good for us, even if we can’t understand it at the moment.


Lord Jesus, when you taught us to pray you added, “Your will be done.”
That phrase has always been the kicker.
Just when I am about to tell you what I want, you remind me that all prayer must be couched in terms of the will of God.
So here are the things I ask for…. Let them happen if you think it is a good idea.


Ask God for something that seems beyond the realm of possibility.
Don’t ask for something selfish (a million dollars or a new car).
Pray for world peace, for an end to abortion, for all people to come to know Jesus Christ.

Source: Lent 2009 - Daily Reflections for Lent by Rev. Norm Langenbrunner

Luke 23:22-24 - Jesus is Condemned To Death

Scripture: Luke 23:22-24

A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him."
But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.
So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted.


First Station – Jesus is Condemned To Death

Unjustly accused.
Jesus stands condemned. He is subjected to merciless indignities.
Those participating in the harassment of Jesus are not cruel and heartless persons.
They are everyday folks like us, caught in the fervour of the crowd.
They are afraid; afraid of authentic authority, the Authority of Truth. They are afraid of change

O condemned Redeemer and Author of life, we’re afraid.
There have been times when our fearfulness has not let us set aside our pride, our need for security, our need to be right; we have hurt and bruised each other.

Reflecting on your own sentencing, Lord, we lower our eyes in sadness and sorrow.

We have condemned that which is demanding of us. Forgive us and teach us to forgive each other.

Source: Stations of the Cross For Married Couples – Kass P Dotterweich

1 John 1:8 - Repent

Scripture: 1 John 1:8

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.


Lent prods us to repentance.
There is something wrong with us and the world. I am not OK; neither are you.
We are insufficient. This life is not enough.
This is not easy for a world given to excuses and plea bargaining.
The most we admit to is making a mistake or behavioral problems.
But to admit we are in profound trouble? Why?
We all know there is nothing so terribly wrong with us.
Even some of our hymnals have rewritten an old song here and there to mollify our tender ego’s.
I’ve caught myself doing the same, balking before the admissions of “Amazing Grace”.
I’ve thought of rephrasing it: something like” … how sweet the sound that saved a nice fellow like me”
Come to think of it, singing that I was once “lost” and “blind” seems to be overdoing it a bit.

We here in the real world know that we are all really rather nice guys and gals.
Sure, we make mistakes now and then. But who’s to blame us for our fumbling?
And surely no one of us would deserve such a thing as hell.
Surely we are not in such desperate need as the drama of Lent seems to suggest.
Surely we do not need someone to die for our sins.
Some of us do not even know what such a strange concept might mean.

Or do we?

Source: Daybreaks – Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Weeks – John F Kavanaugh

Mark 9:28-29 - Fasting

Scripture Mark 9:28-29
And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it (the unclean spirit) out?"
And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting."

Lent is just around the corner, and is a time when many Christians introduce fasting one again into their spiritual exercises.

Of course you don’t need to fast only in Lent as attests to.

I was in a local Christian bookstore recently I noticed a book written by Franklin Jentezen (senior pastor of a nondenominational church) entitled “Fasting”.
I haven’t read this book in order to recommend it however it has highlighted the fact that fasting is a Christian tradition that is gaining some momentum in some Christian denominations. Fasting is biblical. Fasting permeates both the Old and the New Testaments. The prophets fasted, Moses fasted, Jesus fasted, and the apostles fasted. Jesus told his apostles to ratchet up the power of prayer by adding fasting.

I am not trying to promote this book as I would offer other alternative resources to consider however the following points below about fasting taken from the introduction to this book and two reviews highlight the surprising reward on offer to any Christian who fasts.

Experience for yourself the deeper, stronger relationship with God that comes through prayer and fasting. Know about the purpose and practice of biblical fasting, and the blessings that flow from it!

I was so thankful I bought this book. It confirmed what I had previously learnt about fasting and brought added revelation. An easy read. Motivated my own fast which resulted in blessing and victory. A must for every Christian to bring Jesus his reward.

Reviewing Biblical fasts from the Old & New Testaments, this easy to read book sets out the motivations behind the fasts and the breakthroughs that happened as a result. It also applies those principles to our own lives. It started off my own personal journey of fasting, and I have not looked back since.

Ezekiel 36:26 - A New Heart

Scripture Ezekiel 36:26

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.


There is much written in scripture about the human heart.

But recent studies indicate there is more to this than I first thought, as I recently found out how actual heart transplants have affected the recipient after they have been given a “new heart”.

(one example of what I am referring to is in the text below, taken from

The phenomenon, which has its ardent critics and proponents, has been widely documented and was given some credence in a book called The Heart's Code in which author Paul Pearsall, a clinical neuropsychologist, provided evidence of heart transplant recipients reporting that they attained memories and personality traits of their donor.

The operation has also had an impact on his personality. "I am a lot more outgoing," he says, adding that he used to stay home while his wife went out. "I wouldn't socialise with people at all. Now, to my son's embarrassment sometimes, I will engage anyone in conversation."

He is also much more inclined to consider phenomena that are inexplicable but appear to have merit.

"Before I was extremely analytical and scientific," he says. "Anything that didn't fit into a nice, neat little box was silly. Now I have expanded the way I look at things."

Paul Barrett used to love full-bodied and old red wines. So, to celebrate his heart and double-lung transplant five years ago, he and his wife cracked open a Grange hermitage. "I took one taste and said to my wife, 'This is off'," he recalls. "She said, "No, no, it is lovely'." From being such a connoisseur of fine red wines that he could pick the year and area of origin, his preferences have taken a 180-degree turn. "Now I can't stand the stuff," he says. "I actually think alcopops and Vodka cruisers taste pretty good. And I am on to the sweet white wines now, which I would not even have looked at before."

It is one of many changes in his tastes, behaviour and personality that occurred immediately after his transplant, some of which he believes may be the result of cellular or organ memory contained within the donor organ and transferred via the transplanted tissue.

His hair has become curly and thicker and is growing faster while before it was "dead flat". He also now tolerates some foods, including mushrooms, sultanas, muesli and yoghurt, whereas before he detested them because they made him ill. He can't stand fast food whereas before he ate it whenever he got the chance.

Another radical change is his new-found love of pushbike and motorbike riding, which has replaced his passion for tenpin bowling. "Before you couldn't get me on a two-wheeler or a motorbike either," he says.