Who Is The Jesus I Follow?

JMJ

At the beginning of my testimony, I speak about my first encounter with God at the age of eight or nine. I was watching a movie about the life of Jesus, I think it was "The Robe", and as the scenes of the Jesus' crucifixion faded from the TV screen, I asked God why such a loving, caring, and kind man as Jesus had to die such a horrible death.

Notice the words I used to describe Jesus: "loving, caring, and kind". As children, we are taught that Jesus was the nicest person who ever lived and that in his humanity he epitomizes God's love for us. Now this is true, but if we correctly read the scriptures, we also see another side of Jesus, the one who continually challenges his disciples and us to "deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him."

The question for each of us is "Which Jesus do I follow, the one I read about in the gospels or the one I constructed in my childhood?" The answer is fairly simple. If what I read in the gospels challenges me, then I am following the true Jesus. If what I read in the gospels never bothers me, then I am following a Jesus of my own construction.

For reflection, I recommend you read one of two passages:

Mark 8:27-29 and ponder the question, "But who do you say that I am?"

Luke 9:23-25 and ponder the question, "What does it mean to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Jesus?"

Remember to spend 10 minutes a day in the classroom of silence with God.

Book Review - Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist
Dr. Brant Pitre, New York, Doubleday, 2011

In early 2011, I listened to a CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media (www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org) titled Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Dr. Brant Pitre, a professor of sacred scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Intrigued by the CD I visited Dr. Pitre’s website and discovered that he had recently published a book with the same title. I purchased the book from CatholicProductions.com, read it twice, and developed a 21-page outline which I use to teach about the Jewish roots of the Eucharist.

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Who Do You Say That I Am?

JMJ

In 1999, I had to write a paper for my masters program and answer Jesus' question in Mark 8:28, "Who do you say that I am?"  After much reading, thought, and prayer, I came to the conclusion that Jesus was the perfect example of the "man of the Shema". Briefly the Shema is the prayer that devout Jews pray at least twice a day and is comprised of three parts: The Shema (Deut. 6:4--9), the Vehayah (Deut. 11:13-21), and the Vaiyomer (Num. 15:37-42). Shema is the Hebrew word for "hear" and the first word of the passage.  For my purposes, I am going to concentrate on Deut. 6:4-5 -- "Hear, O' Israel: The Lord our God is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all you soul, and with all your might." And Leviticus 19:18b -- "[B]ut you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (NRSV)

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Am I Addicted to Pornography?

Many men I know tell me they either have a "problem" with pornography or that they are "addicted to pornography." While there is some truth to this, pornography in and of itself is highly addictive and is a problem for anyone who views it, it often takes guys years to realize the problem isn't pornography but lust. It is true that pornography did indeed fuel our lust fantasy at some point and brought it to depths we previously thought impossible. However, the driving factor is not pornography as such but the Spirit of Lust. We owe to the Desert Fathers our classification that we call the seven deadly sins:  pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, avarice, and sloth (remember:  p.a.l.e.g.a.s.).

The Desert Fathers were master psychologists in many ways because they looked deeply into their own minds and hearts to better understand how it is we end up doing things we ought not do. They considered each of the sins, before they become sins, as temptations in the form of various spirits, thus with lust there is the "Spirit of Lust." The Spirit of Lust is in some way personified insofar as it truly is not merely a principle of evil that tempts us, but actual evil beings, fallen angels and Satan. Thus, lust is not merely a principle, but an invitation to the rebellion of God which the fallen angels live in for eternity.  By uniting oneself with the Spirit of Lust one joins in the rebellion against the power and goodness of God. The person who engages in auto-erotic behavior using pornography to fuel his fantasy is actually a person who is coupling with forces which are demonic in nature. It is above all else a rebellion against Jesus.

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The Spider Story

The Spider Story – Inspired by the Holy Spirit – Transcribed by Ed Achtenberg

This is the Spider Story which I feel was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This was the opening of a letter I sent out to several of my friends who are in prison and who may struggle with depression or feelings of helplessness.

A spider is confined in a bathtub that he had entered out of curiosity. Once there, he finds that he is in a domain of uncertainty and cannot get back out. He scrambles around the tub knowing the only way out is up, yet he cannot grip the walls with his legs in order to climb out.

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On the Topic of Forgiveness

On the topic of forgiveness, let me ask this question: “What is God’s message to us?”

I believe that it is clearly a message of love and forgiveness! Note, that I say love and forgiveness. Why do I say this? Is it not true that when we read Scripture the overall message that Jesus gave to his disciples and the world is the message of God’s love? Jesus constantly and consistently reminds us about God’s love for each of us and to love one another (John 13:34-35). However to truly love our fellow man, we need to also know God's message of forgiveness (Mt. 6:12, 14-15), for being able to forgive one another is the true test of love.

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Living Out Our Baptismal Call

As baptized Christians, we are called to profess our faith and share in the Church's mission of evangelization.1
Here are some examples of what recent popes have said about that mission:

Pope Paul VI states in Evangelii Nuntiandi, ".... the person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn."2

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An Effective Tool

I have been very pleased to be one of the men Rick Lentz is mentoring. He introduced me to an effective tool for our journey, The Catholic Topical Memory System by Rich Cleveland. www.emmausjourney.org

The intent of the book is to help the reader memorize scripture verses. These verses may then be used in the everyday evangelization situations we all find ourselves in from time to time.

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The Ocean of God’s Love

Carry me, O’God, into the deepest part of the ocean of Your love.

Like a sea sponge, soak me in the water of Your love.

Then like a cloud, squeeze out Your love on those You want to touch through me.

Squeeze the last drop of Your love from me.

Immerse me again in Your love in a continuous cycle of filling and emptying.

Help me to love this day all whom I meet so that glory may be given to You.