Thursday, November 29, 2007

A journal entry from one of my Protestant Missionary Heroes

"Psalms 104:4 - 'He makes His ministers a flame of fire'. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of "other things." Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul, short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God's house consumed Him, and He has promised baptism with the Spirit and with Fire. 'Make me Thy fuel, flame of God.'"

Jim Elliot
July 7, 1948
as recorded in The Journals of Jim Elliot

Oh to have a heart after God like Jim Elliot did! I still love this man, even in spite of his anti-Catholicism. I don't know what to think of him and many of my Protestant heroes now that I'm Catholic. Are they in Purgatory? Heaven? Hell (because of their anti-Catholicism)? I don't know. I pray for their souls and trust them to the God of mercy who will not treat them or anyone unjustly.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Just because it's true...

...and I've never stated it specifically on this blog:

I love Jesus!

I love His Church!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ghosts from years past...

I've been reading this guy's blog off and on for a while now. He's funny. This particular post brings up a point that makes me feel better about an eccentricity I have. First, quoting from James' story:

"…I did not take into account my fear of smelling bad.

"It sounds like such a juvenile fear - smelling bad. I suppose it sounds so juvenile because its roots reach back into my juvenile years. I don't recall the age at which I first began to wear deodorant, but I do know that I only started following a suggestion from my parents. When it came to the pain of childhood and teenage social interactions, my parents subscribed to the School of Gentle Prodding. For the most part, they only spoke up when it became pathetically obvious that I was not going to figure some obvious truth out on my own. In the case of deodorant, they had to buy me my first stick, along with some gentle prodding: "Here. Use this." A few years later, they repeated this exercise with a small selection of cologne brands. The implications were appalling: I smelled bad."

It's amazing how little things from childhood can "scar us for life". Once, when I was in the third grade, one of my teachers told my parents I had a propensity of talking about things that had no bearing on what was being discussed. She provided no examples, so I don’t know exactly what she meant by that. Unfortunately, I went into panic mode and started analyzing my thoughts as I listened in on conversations. If someone talked about their pet, I would consciously follow my thoughts as they traversed the fields of association. Their pet would remind me of my pet which would remind me of the time Lassie did something in the car which might remind me of the time the car caught fire which would remind me of the time we had a bonfire, etc. The ultimate end of the association process had nothing at all to do with the original thought. So if I felt like contributing anything to the conversation, I would worry that what I was about to say would fail my third grade teacher's relevancy test, even if my contribution did have bearing on the subject at hand. Using the pet example above, someone might relate how his pet fell off the bed. I might talk about how I once thought I broke my dog's leg by dropping him off the bed, but I would begin my story with: "I don’t know what reminded me of this, but…" To this day, I still begin many stories with, "I don’t know what reminded me of this…" I doubt my teacher meant for me to be haunted by that phrase for the rest of my life, but it has haunted me! I wonder how some of my other insecurities developed? I wonder if I've caused my nieces and nephews any worries like this? I hope not.

And "that's all I've got to say about that."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fluff, I tell you! This post is pure fluff!

Terry Nelson over at Abbey-Roads 1 has a post called "Thanksgiving at the Gretels". It's about "dysfunctional fairytales." He inspired me to share a few of the stories I re-wrote for my nieces and nephew. Here's the first one.

Once there was little girl called Red Riding Hoodlum. In spite of her name, all the other kids at school thought she was a goody-two-shoes, but that was just her cover. Red, as her family called her, and her grandmother ran an underground arms smuggling racket. Red constantly made trips to her grandmother's house, taking her baskets of "goodies". Goodies, indeed! The baskets had false bottoms in them. "Why?" you ask. Because under the false bottom was the place they hid the weapons. "What kind of weapon would fit in a picnic-type basket?" you ask. Well, glass vials full of biogenic serums, silly. Don't you know anything? You see, Red and fam. lived on the edge of a forest right where the borders of the Seven Great Kingdoms met. (There were actually nine kingdoms altogether, but two of them were just mediocre.)

Now the kings of these kingdoms were all wealthy men who had great power and prestige and control. Sometimes, an evil witch would rebel against a king and threaten him. For example, she might say to a king, "Give me one million dollars, or I'll turn your oldest son into a frog!" If the king refused, the witch would get a serum from Red and her grandma (her grandma's name was Large Margo), inject it into the prince, (don't ask me about the logistics of this—I don't know how it happened, only that it happened), and the serum would re-write the prince's DNA turning him into a frog.

This went on for a few hundred years (Red and her grandma had a serum that would allow them to live for centuries. On a side note, while they were still figuring out the long-life formula, they gave one of their early tries to an old homeless man. It horribly disfigured him, and he ran away. Red and Margo had to hire the mercenary Gruff brothers to take care of him. They took care of him all right. Hungry troll, indeed!). As I said, this went on for a few hundred years, until one day the king of the smallest kingdom and his wife had a baby daughter. She learned how to speak in complete sentences by the age of six months, and had Ph.D.s in chemistry, biology, zoology, physics, and philosophy before her twenty-third year, and because of her great athletic abilities, had won Kingdombledon, the Tour de Seven Kingdoms, and the Kingdom Chase, too. Her name was Priscillaquareanimamacita, but people called her Fred for short.

Princess Fred loved science. She loved science so much, that she started a research institute when she was twenty-four. Fred invited all the brightest minds from all the surrounding Kingdoms to join it. It was a huge success and was called the Kingdoms' Institute for Scientific Studies. This gave it the acronym KISS. In its third year, Fred and her chemistry team found a way to reverse the DNA re-write. Kings brought their sons to the Princess's KISS to be cured. It was lovely and a good time was had by all (except for Red, Large Margo, and the witches. I don't know whatever happened to them).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yet another Web Test!

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||| 60%
Stability |||||||||||||||| 66%
Orderliness |||||||||||||| 53%
Accommodation |||||| 23%
Interdependence |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Intellectual |||||||||||| 50%
Mystical |||||| 23%
Artistic || 10%
Religious |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Hedonism |||| 16%
Materialism |||||| 30%
Narcissism |||||||||| 36%
Adventurousness |||||| 23%
Work ethic |||||||||||| 50%
Self absorbed |||||||||||||||| 63%
Conflict seeking |||||| 23%
Need to dominate || 10%
Romantic || 10%
Avoidant |||||| 30%
Anti-authority || 10%
Wealth |||||||||| 36%
Dependency |||||||||||||||| 63%
Change averse |||||||||||||||| 63%
Cautiousness |||||||||||||||| 63%
Individuality |||||||||| 36%
Sexuality |||||||||||||| 56%
Peter pan complex |||| 16%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Physical Fitness || 10%
Histrionic |||||||||| 36%
Paranoia || 10%
Vanity |||||| 30%
Hypersensitivity |||||| 30%
Indie |||||||||| 40%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by

My great friends.

In my last post, I wrote about my friends, my roomoate especially, driving me crazy. This post is positive. First, starting with my roommate: He's been a great encouragement to me in my struggle. He also has problems with chastity, and has been much more successful than I at overcoming them. He has pointed out to me good things about myself and tried to help me "love myself" in the Christian sense. Also, he charges me cheap rent!

In spite of the fact that I'm kind of a loner, my friend Larry indefatigably invites me over to his house to hang out, let's me know when the guys are getting together, and does his best to get me involved.

Marty is the most loyal person I know. He'll stick by you no matter what. He's like the grass: if you crush him, he gets right back to the business of growing. He prays for me and tells me he loves me. Here's a funny story about him:

Once, when I had just started being honest with myself and my friends about my sexual orientation, he asked me, a little nervously, whether I had found any guys in our church group attractive.* I told him I had, but had made a conscious decision not to lust after any of them because doing so would have warped my view of them. (I'd made that mistake at the last church I'd attended.)

Marty: "What about so-and-so?"

Me: "Oh yes, he's cute."

Marty: "What about ------?"

Me: "He's hot! But I still don't allow myself to lust after him."**

Marty: "What about me?"

Me: "Well, truthfully Marty, I am not attracted to you at all."

Marty (in a huff): "Well my wife thinks I'm attracive!"

I love that he got offended!

These are the guys I hang out with regularly. I love them. They're good friends.

There are a few friends I don't see very much because they moved out of town. I miss them terribly. My friend Danny, who was like a brother to me. I used to know him like the back of my hand (but not know in the Biblical sense; he's straight, after all). My friend Kim who was my best friend in high school. She tells me if I ever go straight to let her know because she'll marry me. Matt who was not afraid to share deeply shameful things about himself with me. My friend Steve who is the most intellectual of my circle of friends, although he's not comfortable with that moniker. He and I started learning about the ancient faith around the same time.

I'm thankful for each of these individuals. They're good friends. May God richly bless them!

*At this point I was still an Evangelical. I had attended for a few years a church which had a group, an excellent group, for twenty-somethings. I was not attending this church any more when Marty asked me this question. (I was in a different church, a few years away from being Catholic still.)

**And that can be difficult because this particular individual is HOT!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Warning: High Rambling Alert!

Do you ever have crises of faith? I do, every three or four months. This has been going on since late '99. I was 24. Although I'm not sure I should call them crises of faith. This is the first time I've ever tried clarifying what I'm going through, so forgive me for rambling. Sometimes I read things by critics of Christianity or by people who are skeptical of all religious belief and I worry that they may be right. But I'm not sure I really doubt that Christianity is true. Maybe I just worry because I don't think my faith is entirely rational but believe it should be. Maybe I worry because I can't explain it rationally; that is, I cannot quote facts that disprove some of the critics' assertions. And I cannot quote facts because I don't know what criteria historians use to verify the truth of an historical claim or what criteria scientists use to determine the truth of a scientific claim, etc. It bothers me that I cannot do this. Maybe I worry too much about the skeptics. After all, I don’t really know any personally. That worries me too. As a Christian, shouldn't I know and hang out with non-Christians? I've been isolated in the Fundamentalist- and Evangelical-Christian subcultures my entire life. Even after joining the Catholic Church I'm still surrounded mostly by Evangelical Christians. I don't have any friends who are not Christians. No Muslim, Hindu, agnostic, Jewish, etc. friends to challenge my faith, make me think through what I believe and why I believe it. My Christian friends don't do this either, in spite of the fact that they're all Evangelicals and I'm the only Catholic among them. My roommate can be especially frustrating in this respect. Every time I ask him a question about the Christian faith, any question, even about things we'd both agree on, I get a negative response. For example, one day I was talking about Hebrews 13:3: "Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured." (NRSV) For awhile now I've thought about doing practical things to help myself remember Christians who are persecuted for their faith, but I have no ideas. I asked my friends, my roommate among them, if they had any thoughts. My roommate only said, "I don't know, but God doesn't want you to go around hurting yourself." Well, duh! But instead of telling me what I (obviously) should not do, how about suggesting "You could fast lunch on Tuesdays so your hunger pains will remind you to pray for them, and then you could give the money you'd save by not eating to Open Doors or Amnesty International." (Actually, he'd never suggest I give money to a secular organization.) Another example: He believes Bible teachers should not exist; somehow they're un-Biblical. I asked him how he understands Ephesians 4:11, 12: "And He [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ…" (TMB) Teacher is an office specifically mentioned. His response: "I've prayed about that and I've come to the conclusion that they're not supposed to teach people where they're [the teachers] at spiritually." Third example: "Where did we get the Bible?" Roommate's response: "The church did not produce the Bible!" Note the negatives: 1) Heb. 13:3-remembering suffering Christians consists of not hurting oneself; Eph. 4:11, 12-teaching means not teaching; Bible's origin-not produced by the church.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent. To reiterate: it bothers me that I don’t hang out with non-Christians (or even so-called "liberal" Christians).

Another concern: I don't spend enough time with people. My job keeps me pretty busy. For example, since November 1, I have worked 123.43 hours. I'll put in another eight hours minimum tomorrow, followed by Saturday in which I'll be on-call for 24 hours with the potential to work that many with a chance of some more hours spilling over into Sunday's morning time. How do I fit a social life in with a schedule like this?

Okay. Here's another crisis issue: I wonder if I have faith. As a Protestant, I never understood what faith is. As a Catholic, I think I may be starting to understand what faith is. I find that I can't really disbelieve in God, even if I try. I believe in God. I have faith on that point: God exists (although I do sometimes doubt it). But do I have faith in God? That is, do I trust Him? Do I believe in His mercy towards me? I used to know God, when I was a teenager. I really did. Now, I'm not so sure anymore.

I'm not done addressing this crisis yet, but I want to post this right now. So here goes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Meme I got...

...from EveTushnet:

Pick ten passages (I'm including individual verses as well) from the Bible which are especially meaningful or striking to you.

Psalm 139
To the chief musician. A Psalm of David. (For some reason Crosswalk doesn;t include the title of the psalms in most of the Bible versions. It drives me crazy.)

Currently memorizing this one. God sees me deeply. I don't understand my thoughts sometimes, but God does. There is not a word on my tongue, but He knows it already. I need Him to search every nook and cranny in me so any evil or sinful thing can be brought into His light and cleansed by Jesus' blood.

Philippians 2:5-11

I remember saying this with 20,000 other Christians at Urbana '96. What an experience of Heaven that was! Sometimes I miss the unity I used to feel with my Evangelical brothers. I was ignorant of the consequences of the great divisions that keep Catholics and Evangelicals apart. Being in the Church is worth it, though. And I can't wait for reconciliation between the "daughter communities" who came out of the Reformation, some of them very rebellious, and Holy Mother Church.

Revelation 3:14-22

This passage convicts me because I live in Laodicea so much of the time. May God have mercy on me, a sinner.

I Corinthians 6:9-11

There's hope for me, too!

Matthew 28:16-20

The Great Commission as given in Matthew's Gospel. But what I want to concentrate on is this little phrase: "…they worshipped Him; but some doubted." I doubt sometimes, too, even while worshipping.

Mark 9:24

Same reason as above

II Maccabees 1:1-6

I like that they told the other Jews they were praying for them, and what their prayers were.

Hebrews 13:3

It convicts me—remember those Christians who don't have as much freedom, food, and fellowship as you. Remember! Remember! Remember!

Lamentations 3:21-23

I begin my morning prayer with this passage every day.

I John 1:9

Forgiveness. 'Nuff said.

If you read this, love the Bible, and have a blog: consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Betty Scott Stam's Prayer of Dedication

Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.

Make Me Thy Fuel by Amy Carmichael

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified),
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

I don't know what to name this post

In my late teens and early twenties, Protestant missionary biographies were my constant source of enjoyment. Books like Through Gates of Splendor, Peace Child and Lords of the Earth, The Little Woman, Tales of a SeaSick Doctor, and The Journals of Jim Eliot fed my spirit, formed my heart, and fired my imagination. To take the Name of Jesus to peoples who've never heard It, to enthrone Him where He is not enthroned, to proclaim His Gospel – His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and coming-return – what else is worthwhile? Anything less seems banal and jejune!

Taking His Name where He is not named…

He actually is named among the Muslims of the world. He is called Isa al'Masih (Jesus the Messiah), but the Muslim idea of what Messiah means is very different from the Christian understanding. And while Muslims do call Jesus Messiah and believe He is a great prophet, they do not believe He is Lord and Savior. And there are very few missionaries working with Muslims to help them know the Truth about Isa al'Masih. The booklet The New Context of World Mission relates the following facts: over 1.1 billion people in the world are Muslim; over 80% of all Muslims have never heard the Gospel, yet regard Jesus as a key prophet; there are only about 900 missionaries working with Muslims. 900 missionaries for 1.1 billion Muslims!? This number is distressingly small: realize that there are approximately 30,000 missionaries working with Westerners. (And while Muslims are the least evangelized group, Hindus and Chinese peoples only have about 4,400 missionaries working with them!)

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I would like to be a missionary. Indeed, I'd like to be a missionary to Muslims. But I really wonder if I am willing and able to pay the price it would entail? Just before the War on Terror began in Afghanistan, Dayna Curry, Heather Mercer, and Stacy Mattingly were arrested and imprisoned by the Taliban for evangelizing. They denied they were doing it, but after the Taliban fell, they admitted that's exactly what they were doing. Their example frightens me. It doesn't bother me that they had to lie to the ruling Taliban government about their motivation for working in Afghanistan (human governments do not have the authority to override the Great Commission* and therefore, truth and obedience are not due any government that tries to do so; see Acts 5:29 and surrounding context), or that they were asking Afghans to make a commitment to Christ while knowing that Afghans faced prison and probably death for doing so (Luke 9:18-27). What does bother me is that they were not willing to face the same consequences as the Afghani Believers. If the Gospel causes people to suffer, Western Christians must be willing to suffer for the Gospel! If I am to be a missionary to people who might be imprisoned, tortured, and executed for the Name of Jesus, I must be willing to be imprisoned, tortured, and executed along with them. I don't know if I will ever be a missionary. I don't know in what land I will serve if I ever do become one. But will I choose to suffer for the Gospel? Will I choose to suffer for the Gospel? May God have mercy on me if I won't. Please pray for me.

*1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6