Salvation is the most precious commodity…

Folks, to send off 2013 right, I thought I’d share a personal thought with you that I wrote and posted on our Ministry Forum, known as the CCForum. Anyways, as you read this I hope it inspires you to look at the gifts of the Father through His Son our Lord and delivered to you personally every waking moment of your life going forward in a new and exciting way and light for your life. This is a very personal enlightenment and testimony I am sharing with you so I hope as you celebrate the New Year, it will instill in you a greater awareness of the daily love our Savior has for you and what is important to Him and should be for you.

Happy New Year Warriors, I love you one and all and May God bless you for your time in reading this topic and sharing it as well if you do…

Sincerely IHS and yours, Bp. Andrew

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When I think about this topic, I since a bit of confusion. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I’ll explain it this way.

To me my salvation is the most precious commodity I have, next to my soul.

Think of it this way. You come into the world with nothing except your spirit and body. You will leave this world the same way. Taking care of both and using it according to the way God intended is the specialness that makes up you and your relationship with the one who created you. God our Father. He made you in His image and breathed life into you making you alive. He also gave you the gift of choice and with these gifts we can do most anything. Including abusing these precious gifts, which many in this world just seem to waste away, or rather throw away.

We are placed on this earth for many purposes, like growing up, learning and experiencing all that life has to offer. The good, the bad and even the ugly of it all. What makes us different than all other creatures on earth is our free will. Will to learn of God and not. To accept God or not. And yes, to even love God and his commandments or not.

What gets us into heavens gate is the knowledge and acting on that understand and building on that relationship through faith. Or rather belief / faith, in God the Father, His only begotten Son and their combined and ever Holy Spirit.

Once we understand the meaning of Jesus Christs life and actions for all mankind, one can begin to grow spiritually in the grace and love that one is, with the Holy Trinity. It is not tangible, you can not see, taste or even feel it with your mortal senses but, rather you experience it through your spirit. Your immortal soul. As well as followed up with action, of living and learning all that the Holy Trinity wants you to know and understand and live in this world.

So through the act of His Crucifixion, Christ Jesus gave mortal man an out from an eternity of immortal hardships and persecution. Which is Salvation, your key into heaven and an eternity within the confounds of eternal joy being in the presence of God the Father Jesus Christ His son and all of the Saints and heavenly Angels above.

So now maybe in this basic understanding of Salvation, you can understand why I hold this gift as the most precious of all gifts given me by my Father who art in Heaven.

What say you ? I’d like to know, what you hold dear to with your saving grace.

Bishop Andrew R. M. Manley DD., M.R.Php., O.S.A., O.S.P., O.S.B., O.S.BB.
of Celtic Cross Ministry…

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To live is to be blessed. ARM

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A Review Of “The Case For Christ” By Lee Strobel

In the field of apologetics, leadership is often taken by scholars in the discipline of philosophy as such academics are often inclined to point out the inconsistencies of various belief systems and the rational superiority of the Christian faith. While such efforts will always be at the forefront of worldview analysis, experts in the fields of history, journalism, and law more oriented towards concrete fact than theoretical reflection also have an essential role to play in defending the Christian faith and in presenting a reason for the hope that lies within the believer.

One such work exemplifying this approach that is both comprehensible to the average reader yet filled with informative detail for those of a more academic bent is The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. Himself a former skeptic, The Case For Christ recreates Strobel’s spiritual journey where this Chicago Tribune reporter turned his journalist’s eye and trained his legal mind towards the fundamental claims regarding Jesus Christ.

Strobel recreates this process by interviewing the foremost Christian experts in the fields of ancient history, Biblical studies, and even medicine and psychology. To some, this approach no doubt reeks of a detached tedium for which many professors are infamous; however, Strobel imbues this quest with both intrigue and a touch of humanity.

Strobel assures those reluctant to commence an in depth theological inquiry that such an investigation can be exciting and does not require any esoteric mental abilities beyond the commonsense used to operate in normal everyday life. Strobel accomplishes this by beginning each chapter with an anecdote drawn from his own life.

For example, in the chapter examining the eyewitnesses for Christ, Strobel opens with the story of a teenager on a respirator, paralyzed from the neck down by a robber’s bullet, who testified to the judge and jury assembled in his hospital room of the deed done to him (48). The victim died eighteen days later.

Many of the experts interviewed by Strobel themselves have their own engaging backgrounds that the reader will find both interesting and assuring to readers that these imposing intellects are not all that different than the rest of us. For example, Lewis Lapides, interviewed as an expert on the Messiahship of Jesus, went from being born into a Jewish family, into a skeptical phase surrounded by a dope-induced haze, to embracing Christ as his savior. Particularly touching was how the Resurrection was more than an academic truth to historian Gary Habermas but rather a source of existential comfort getting him through the loss of his wife to cancer.

It is through this witty give and take that Strobel lays out the evidence of the case for Christ. Though the entire book should be read, the conclusion does an excellent job of summarizing Strobel’s main points.

Strobel comes to the following conclusions. The biographies of Jesus stand up to scrutiny as reliable history as they were not countered as being inaccurate and have been reliably preserved in that the number of manuscripts indicate 99.5% accuracy of the text (350). Furthermore, evidence regarding the existence of Christ can be found outside the Gospels such as the mention of Jesus in Josephus and archaeology confirms that the Bible is accurate in numerous small details, thus increasing the credibility of its claims in more complex matters. Strobel then proceeds from these brick and mortar issues to address the more profound theological matters such as whether Jesus was insane to claim He was the Son of God and an examination of the various alternatives to the Resurrection such as the swoon theory that fall short of both logic and evidence.

As an introductory text, The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel is bound to become an apologetic classic as it succinctly addresses the fundamental issues of the Christian faith in an engaging manner that will stimulate reflection among believers and the spiritually curious alike.

By Brother F.B. Meekins

Coming Out & Called Out…

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Christian Warriors and Not… I am posting a conversation that took place today on the subject of “COMING OUT” and it was started by a fellow man of the cloth Archbishop George Booty. I merely address support for his comment and then I was “CALLED OUT” by another man of the cloth, Br. Barry Frier who claims to be a “Gay Clergy”.

What follows is the banter back and forth between him and I. So without hate, without screaming, without getting overly carnal, I am posting this conversation to show why mankind needs to Reverence, Fear and Love God and not personal will.

Remember folks, we are in the end of times and at this moment, as far as I am concerned, every man, woman and child’s soul and eternal life is at stake. Trust me when I say that the stakes have never been higher. Satan is the master of deception and manipulation and will without a doubt, win billions of souls, unless we take very seriously the tactic’s and the deception that Satan uses to twist the minds and heart of man, from God. Which is to a point of no return.

If I’ve said it once, then I have said it a hundred times and that is I don’t care about your feels in the same way that mankind does, what I care most about is your eternal salvation and how fragile it is. It bothers me a great deal to see and know that most of the world’s population doesn’t even recognize that their eternal salvation is not only at stake but that it is the one most precious gift God gave to man, next to giving us His only begotten son Jesus Christ, for the redemption of our sins.

Did Christ die in vain for you? Surely not. Are you once saved always saved? Again, surely not. So why gamble on your eternal soul even making it into heaven and forcing your self-will and self-gratification on those people who love and fear God and work everyday to preserve and protect this precious gift.

It is what I want for you, them and all mankind. My personal “carnal” philosophy is to not let the Devil win, by any and all means possible. We are called to fight him at every occurrence wherever we find him. Recognizing what is of him and not as we come into contact with him or his demons and trust me when I say, that Satan knows the Holy Scriptures far better then the most learned theologian on the planet. Yet we can win this battle for mankind’s eternal soul, for the Holy Scripture sates, that if God before us, then who can be against us. God with us, and God in us.

So read this conversation and then, come and stand with me on the side of Gods Holy Will for yourself and everyone in the world. Even if that piece of the world is only where you are and those that you come into contact with.

Sincerely, IHS and yours, whether you like it or not ! Bishop Andrew R. M. Manley

 

So much in the news about coming out! I am coming out today… Here it is… I am coming out first as ‘Christian’ a follower of Jesus Christ who is my Savior… and then I am coming out as an ‘Englishman’ and proud of it…
I am coming out for many things for myself… I am coming out as a Heterosexual and very happy to be one… without condemnation of Gay people…
I no longer wish to follow public opinion so I am coming out as a person who is more concerned with Godly wisdom rather than the modern trend of politically correct nonsense, where common sense and Godly values are lost to the downgrade of the consensus of public opinion, which is often leaderless, confused and depraved.
I am fed up with living in a time when there is so much that is destroying families and marriage as an institution so I am coming out for Marriage and remarriage too where appropriate. I don’t care who you want to marry, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. It is to every man’s conscience before God to decide what they wish to do..
And now having celebrated my Savior’s day… I am coming out as a person who is a Lover of God and my religion is to be simply a follower of JESUS. Amen. I am coming out today against anything that sets itself up against God in Jesus. . Christ His only Son. I am coming out as a Convergence Minister believing that we are one body in Christ. There are many things I wish to come out about and I will continue to do so in this coming New Year. Bless you all. ~ +++George.

 

  • SeniorBishop Primus Andrew Manley Amen Br. Booty, I to came out sometime ago and have drawn the proverbial line in the sand and stand solely on our Lords Holy and Divine word and teachings. It’s time we members of clergy make known with out question where we stand on the Holy and Loving word of God. What say you ?

 

4 hours ago · Like

 

 

Barry Frier While I agree with somethings that are put, I also feel that saying your “coming out” is something that has of lately been made to be a negative thing. Why do you feel you have to “come out” as a Christian etc…… its clear to most if not all who you are, but the mere thing of being a Bishop, Priest Deacon within the church. I personally never came out as a Christian or a priest or anything else which you have put in your message. The only “coming out” I did was as a gay person and this was for the reason that I believe I had to be honest not just with myself but with family and friends and people around me. So I would ask you Why the words “coming out”

 

4 hours ago · Like

 

 

SeniorBishop Primus Andrew Manley For me, it is more about be honest with the word of God and the drawn line and not crossing it except to reach over and help someone to come to Christ. In other words I don’t give a hand out, but rather a hand up to sinners, of which I am the Master Chief. However, I do have a question for you and an honest answer is what I would like as I just gave you mine to your question. That is do you selectively preach the Holy Scriptures or do you preach the whole truth and reflect His ways and examples in your personal and private life as the light on the table ? Meaning, live as the Holy Word of God say’s in all facets of your life. Or do as the word of God say’s and do as I do, attitude. Just curious. You say you are “gay” and that is your choice. However, I have to ask why you do not fear God but rather live what He is against? Like I said, I’m curious, I’m not trying to argue or pick a fight. But merely trying to understand and put into perspective what you preach and how you justify it in the Holy Eyes of God’s Word. Thanks, in advance for your answer. Sincerely IHS and yours, Bp. Andrew

 

3 hours ago · Like

 

 

Barry Frier Thank you for your answer, while I follow the word of God, I also understand it in my own life, if I’m to be judged then God will do this. If I’m tone condemned then God will do it, if in people’s eyes I and others like me are an abomination as it says in Leviticus then God will tell me when we meet face to face. Being Gay is not a choice I have always been this way, I’ve never found the opposite sex, sexual attractive but I do say they are beautiful, if a gay people are wrong in Gods eyes why does he call us to be ministers of his gospel?

 

3 hours ago via mobile · Like

 

 

SeniorBishop Primus Andrew Manley So you preach the Holy and Divine word of God selectively and or manipulate His Holy Word to fit your life style. Well that is not what the Apostles, Christ or God teach for folks to follow. Secondly and to answer your question ” if a gay people are wrong in Gods eyes why does he call us to be ministers of his gospel ?” In my opinion and understanding of the Holy Scripture, I’m not so sure He did call those who flatly refuse to accept His ways and Holy Word for their life. Granted, all sin can and will be forgiven except the one who blasphemies the Holy Spirit, which includes the Father and the Son for whom all are one in the Holy Spirit. However, even Christ Himself says “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18., verse 6… So like I said, I’m not sure who called you to deify His ideals of what is right and wrong. As for me and my house, they will know the whole word and nothing but the word of God. Don’t get me wrong, I love all people’s from all walks of life, but it is my calling to help them to recognize their sinful nature, and repent and live His truth not mans, opinion. I guess we agree to disagree. No wonder there are over 34,000 plus and growing interpretations of the Holy Bible. I’m reminded of the book Revelation 22, verse 18 & 19, which states : 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” … As I see it and understand it, it is the entire Holy Bible, every book that Christ is speaking of, not just Revelation’s… I’m not judging you for if I were, I would not quote Scripture. I speak from the heart and the fact that God resides in me and I in Him. There is no room for carnal thinking anymore. If it does creep into my heart and mind, then I immediately upon recognizing it as sin, I purge myself through humility and prayerful meditation and reflection asking God to help me over come that which is by His definition an abomination to Him and sanctify and strengthen me to resolve this from me so that I do not cause someone else to sin and fall away from His will, deigning my own selflessness. To the point of in His words again, being in the world but are no longer part of it… Again, No disrespect, but I shall pray for you and others and even offer my hand to help you up out of your self-centered sinful nature of personal choice… Humbly your friend, Bp. Andrew

 

2 hours ago · Edited · Like

 

 

Barry Frier Regarding preaching, I preach on what God puts in my heart, I’m happy that this whole thing was brought up, I don’t come to change people’s minds on the whole subject of coming out or on the subject of being LGBT, I see it as an education. Not just on my side but I think that both parties can educate each other and we can all can understand each part. Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner and maybe we all can help build the Kingdom of God

 

2 hours ago via mobile · Like

 

 

SeniorBishop Primus Andrew Manley I guess you did not read what I just stated, but then that is your choice. Blessings upon you and in abundance…

 

2 hours ago · Like

 

 

Barry Frier No I just read it and please I don’t need your prayers, and don’t ever preach at me, I’ve been in ministry for 13 years and have started 5 successful churches and one in which I’m still the senior pastor. On the subject of the apostles please when the universal life church have the sacred apostolic lines back to Christ himself then you can start by all means and preach at me. I don’t need or want your prayers or blessing. And yes I’m angry.

 

about an hour ago via mobile · Like

 

 

SeniorBishop Primus Andrew Manley Not very Christ like is it. Just trying to have an open and honest conversation which you started with a question. Also, I’ve been ministering since 1986, and was raised as an orphan in a Convent of Franciscan Sisters since 1965. So don’t think for a moment that I’m worried about your feelings, because I’m not. Your right as for we will all stand in judgement before God however, Christ and the Church taught me that we are to judge “righteously”, Mathew 7, verses 1 – 5 : “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye… So I will judge according to the Holy Word of God. I hold no malice, no anger, no frustration, no condemnation towards you or anyone for that mater, for we all have fallen short of the Glory of God the Father. So no matter what you say, think or feel I will always lift you and all of the Lords called up in prayer. For I am an exult-er of prayer for all people. I care for all mankind’s souls, and I care very much about yours and all that feel the way you do. The condemnation you are feeling is God trying to get through to you. It truly is the only reason I can see why your taking my remarks so personal. There just facts. No mater what though, I do wish you a very blessed and very Happy New Year… Sincerely caring and worried for all mankind’s souls, I will fight and endure until the end for all……

Bp. Andrew

 

Here is a topic from our Ministry Forum…

Contribute your thoughts on Today’s lawlessness…

Presented by: Sister Wendy Eriksson, O.S.B., O.S.J.A., O.S.BB.

Hello everyone,

I have recently had a few situations come up which have caused me to ponder long and hard on the treatment and punishment of today’s criminals.

To illustrate, here is one such incident which happened only yesterday.

For those of you who don’t yet know, I am an avid horse rider, and I keep 6 horses agisted on about 45-50 acres. My family and I are well acquainted with the actual owners of the property, and they have other horses agisted on their ajoining acreage. The owners live in a house on the property which is up on an elevated rise, so they have clear views of all their property.

Yesterday, as I am in the daily habit of doing, I went up to ride one of my boys. I didn’t feel like an argument with my stronger-willed horses, so I chose my quietest Thoroughbred. I have owned him for 6 years and have ridden hundreds and hundreds of miles on him over that time. When I haltered him yesterday, he immediately began to display aggressive and VERY uncharacteristic behaviour toward me. Bear in mind that he is my “go to” horse if I am at events or out riding on roads etc.

I was shocked to say the least, but I don’t let horses get the better of me, so I groomed and tacked him up anyway. I no sooner had my foot in the stirrup and he started. First he moved off before I gave him the ok. This quickly escalated to rearing and some mild bucking. I dismounted, checked my tack – all good. I was at a loss. After some thought I decided the most prudent course of action was to untack him and go home to “count to 5” and regain some composure. I needed to figure this out.

In the meanwhile, the property owner had called my mother to say her neighbors had reported seeing a four wheel drive enter my paddocks earlier in the day, and they were towing a boat. They were seen putting the boat into the dam and spent an hour or so in the boat, and, to my horror, also chasing my horses in their car.

That explains Ranger’s disgusting behavior. He was frightened, and being a Thoroughbred he takes quite a bit to calm down after he’s been scared.

So here I am today buying padlocks to padlock 7 gates…..quite an expensive exercise.

What sort of people are so blatantly in disregard of the law, that they would brazenly trespass onto private property in broad daylight and in full view of passing traffic and neighboring houses?

A lady who works at the Pharmacy nearby to me told me this morning that she had thwarted a man in a four wheel drive who had entered her property while SHE WAS CLEARLY AT HOME, and was in the process of hitching her jet ski and trailer to his car. When she approached him and asked him in no uncertain terms what he thought he was doing, he actually said to her, “This is mine”. I won’t repeat what her answer was to that on a public forum. He was obviously not used to country women and took off – minus jet ski – in short order, lol.

Is this what we have become as a society? Are we so soft on criminals, so duplicitous when it comes to ‘truth in sentencing’, that we have created a species of thief (and the Lord knows what else) that has NO REGARD for consequences or the Law? Is this what an explosion of ‘do-gooding’ has generated over the past 30 years or so? And how do we feel, as Christians about things like “reforming the criminal” – is there in fact any such thing for those other than petty crooks?

This line of thought led me to tossing around questions about worse criminals, in fact serial killers. I personally believe these people are demonically possessed, literally. Whether you agree with that theory or not, can beings like this be reformed? Should we lock them up and use tax payers money to keep them? Should they be executed?

These are big questions generated from a relatively minor few incidents, but the point is, do we as a society need to bring in tougher sentencing starting from more minor crimes upward?

It is of great concern to me that people have become so sure of their “rights” that they are willing to brazenly step on the rights of others. Is this ultimately a sign of a world that has turned it’s back on God, removed religious instructions from schools (most any religion teaches that stealing etc is wrong), and created and promoted extraordinary rights for children and adults which almost override the Laws of the Lands???

Had my horse been any other, he could well have gone rodeo completely and I may have been injured or killed. Not so minor then.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and musings on these questions. Please don’t be shy, put in your 2c worth!! Very Happy

Oh, I did ride Ranger again very late yesterday afternoon, and thankfully, he was back to normal. Needless to say, I have prayed over the land and all my horses, and the others, for God’s protection.

Regards and Blessings,
IHS and yours,
Sister Wendy Eriksson, O.S.B., O.S.J.A., O.S.BB.
Convent of Joan of Arc,
Diocese of Queensland, Australia.

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HERE IS MY PERSONAL RESPONSE TO THE TOPIC…

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Crime and Punishment…

Dear Sister in Christ Wendy, Your comment here is very well thought out and composed. You bring up several good points. Though I do not know how liberal or not your laws are down under, I can say that you are not alone in your thinking. We here in the United States deal with issues like you speak of and worse, more than you think.

I thank God that some states still enforce the “death penalty” for the most harden criminal. However, the liberal mind set is beginning to crumble, so to speak. As the monetary cost continues to rise in order to house and “rehabilitate” the criminal at all levels, it is becoming a growing concern as to the financial cost to the good citizens to maintain the system at a level that is more then lenient with most all offenders.

I myself believe in “corporal punishment”. That is through public humiliation. Once a petty offender is made to stand in the town center in a stockade wearing a notice of their offense, chances are they will never do it again. Then and only then in a three strikes sentencing program should the tax payer be burdened. Even then, the offender will be required to do continual community service during and after the time served, until every penny is paid back.

But that is my opinion. However, what God say’s the punishments should be for offenses of varying degree, is far more stringent then what even I am proposing. I firmly believe that the punishment should fit the crime. Once folks realize what the punishment is, then and only then will they think twice. That is if they are somewhat normal upstanding citizens to begin with.

But no matter what, discipline begins in the home and bringing God, Christ and the Holy Word back to the center of the family unit will be the only way to curve the situation. At least until the liberal mindset has had enough of the way things are. Or it directly effects them in an emotional, physical or financial way. Nothing is going to change, but only get worse.

I’ll keep praying for you and your neighbors and hope that vigilance will prevail. We are all “WATCHMEN”, in more ways then one…

Sincerely IHS and yours, Bp. Andrew
_________________
To live is to be blessed. ARM

Apologetics Lesson #10: Naturalism & The Supernaturalism

In the third section of his book, Geisler examines the matter of distinctively Christian apologetics more closely. In a technologically advanced age, many of the attacks against the faith center around doubts as to the extent to which God can intervene in the world and to what degree can we trust the accounts purporting to be a chronicle detailing this intervention.

In the chapter “Naturalism & The Supernatural”, Geisler examines the argument against acts of God classified as miracles. The basic argument, presented in its textbook form by David Hume, is stated in the following manner: “(1) A miracle by definition is a violation of (or exception to) a law of nature. (2) But the laws of nature are built upon the highest degree of probability. (3) Hence, a miracle by definition (as an exception) is based on the lowest degree of probability. (4) Now the wise man should always base his belief on the highest degree of probability. (5) Therefore, the wise man should never believe in miracles (266).”

The variations of this argument that have been developed over the decades and centuries since the time of Hume share a number of assumptions. The first is the assumption that the universe operates in accord with repeatable norms which we refer to as natural law. The Christian also shares this belief as God has chosen these to imbue the physical creation with what we perceive as order and what causes events contradicting these principles to stand out as events worthy of special attention.

However, it is beyond this point that the Christian and those that believe God does not intervene in the creation must part company. The naturalist essentially pursues two lines of reasoning that the Christian cannot endorse.

One principle basically eliminates miracles by definition. This is accomplished by postulating that whatever occurs in the natural world is a natural event. We as finite individuals might not be able to explain or understand why something happened in the way it did, but that does not mean there is not some kind of reason within a closed system to account for the phenomena in question without having to appeal to an interdiction by an outside higher source.

The other major assumption underlying arguments against the miraculous is that miracles do not occur because such events would be a violation of the probabilities natural laws are derived from. While natural laws are descriptions of what transpire in most instances, the sincere researcher aspiring to the distinction of scientist must study the events that actually take place and not sweep away those that do not conform to preconceived notions as to what is and is not possible. It is only by carefully scrutinizing these instances out of the ordinary that the researcher is able to uncover either explanations that fit within the normal operation of natural systems or rather the intervention of an intelligence beyond that which mortal minds are not generally accustomed to interacting with.

Even though the Christian must accept and defend the notion that natural laws as we understand them are not so inviolable, neither should the Christian go to the other extreme and herald every unexplainable occurrence as an undeniably direct intervention by the hand of God. As Geisler deliberately points out, there is a set of criteria an event should be evaluated by before the Christian accepts it as a miracle (280-282).

Foremost, the investigator seeking to determine the nature of an event contradicting normality must ascertain if its origin is possibly Satanic. Scripture warns that in later times there will be deceitful signs and wonders that would deceive the very elect if that were possible. The Christian must always let God’s revealed message rather than experience be the final court of arbitration.

Secondly, the Christian must be careful to distinguish between miracles and anomalies. For example, if someone appears to die on the operating table, is hauled off to the morgue, and seemingly comes back to life several hours later, though there would be reason to rejoice and look to this as a gift from God, there still might not be sufficient grounds to declare this a miracle. This is because such an occurrence could very well be an anomaly firstly because the event may have a cause which may be naturally explainable but at the time beyond the boundaries of our scientific understanding. And secondly, there is not necessarily any moral or theological claims connected to the unexpected healing.

To help the believer through this confusion, Geisler provides a number of guidelines an alleged miracle must measure up to in order to be categorized as such: (1) A miracle must be an exception to the normal pattern of events. (2) A miracle involves some kind of theological truth claim as an act of God would not contradict what God has revealed about Himself. (3) A miracle must also have good moral impact as God would not violate his standards. (4) And lastly, miracles suspend normal patterns rather than violate natural processes (282).

by Br.  Frederick Meekins

Why should I make the sign of the CROSS…

FOLKS, it’s not just a Catholic thing any more. Christians in our Non-Denominational Ministry do it to. Why ? For the Love and Respect of all God, Christ and their loving and ever Holy Spirit do for them everyday. Don’t you do it ? Or Do you ? If your not sure why do it, then read these 21 reasons and I’m sure you’ll even be able to think up a few more by the time your done. Trust me, it’s a great way to show Jesus you love him in an outward gesture that is sure to get His attention.

Sincerely IHS and yours, Bishop Andrew R. M. Manley DD., M.R.Php., O.S.A., O.S.P., O.S.B., O.S.BB.

Sign of the Cross

21 Things We Do When We Make the Sign of the Cross
by Stephen Beale

The Sign of the Cross is a simple gesture yet a profound expression of faith for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. As Catholics, it’s something we do when we enter a church, after we receive Communion, before meals, and every time we pray. But what exactly are we doing when we make the Sign of the Cross? Here are 21 things:

1. Pray. We begin and end our prayers with the Sign of the Cross, perhaps not realizing that the sign is itself a prayer. If prayer, at its core, is “an uprising of the mind to God,” as St. John Damascene put it, then the Sign of the Cross assuredly qualifies. “No empty gesture, the sign of the cross is a potent prayer that engages the Holy Spirit as the divine advocate and agent of our successful Christian living,” writes Bert Ghezzi.

2. Open ourselves to grace. As a sacramental, the Sign of the Cross prepares us for receiving God’s blessing and disposes us to cooperate with His grace, according to Ghezzi.

3. Sanctify the day. As an act repeated throughout the key moments of each day, the Sign of the Cross sanctifies our day. “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign,” wrote Tertullian.

4. Commit the whole self to Christ. In moving our hands from our foreheads to our hearts and then both shoulders, we are asking God’s blessing for our mind, our passions and desires, our very bodies. In other words, the Sign of the Cross commits us, body and soul, mind and heart, to Christ. (I’m paraphrasing this Russian Orthodox writer.) “Let it take in your whole being—body, soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings, your doing and not-doing—and by signing it with the cross strengthen and consecrate the whole in the strength of Christ, in the name of the triune God,” said twentieth century theologian Romano Guardini.

5. Recall the Incarnation. Our movement is downward, from our foreheads to our chest “because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth,” Pope Innocent III wrote in his instructions on making the Sign of the Cross. Holding two fingers together—either the thumb with the ring finger or with index finger—also represents the two natures of Christ.

6. Remember the Passion of Our Lord. Fundamentally, in tracing out the outlines of a cross on ourselves, we are remembering Christ’s crucifixion. This remembrance is deepened if we keep our right hand open, using all five fingers to make the sign—corresponding to the Five Wounds of Christ.

7. Affirm the Trinity. In invoking the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are affirming our belief in a triune God. This is also reinforced by using three fingers to make the sign, according to Pope Innocent III.

8. Focus our prayer on God. One of the temptations in prayer is to address it to God as we conceive of Him—the man upstairs, our buddy, a sort of cosmic genie, etc. When this happens, our prayer becomes more about us than an encounter with the living God. The Sign of the Cross immediately focuses us on the true God, according to Ghezzi: “When we invoke the Trinity, we fix our attention on the God who made us, not on the God we have made. We fling our images aside and address our prayers to God as he has revealed himself to be: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

9. Affirm the procession of Son and Spirit. In first lifting our hand to our forehead we recall that the Father is the first person the Trinity. In lowering our hand we “express that the Son proceeds from the Father.” And, in ending with the Holy Spirit, we signify that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, according to Francis de Sales.

10. Confess our faith. In affirming our belief in the Incarnation, the crucifixion, and the Trinity, we are making a sort of mini-confession of faith in words and gestures, proclaiming the core truths of the creed.

11. Invoke the power of God’s name. In Scripture, God’s name carries power. In Philippians 2:10, St. Paul tells us that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” And, in John 14:13-14, Jesus Himself said, “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

12. Crucify ourselves with Christ. Whoever wishes to follow Christ “must deny himself” and “take up his cross” as Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 16:24. “I have been crucified with Christ,” St. Paul writes in Galatians 2:19. “Proclaiming the sign of the cross proclaims our yes to this condition of discipleship,” Ghezzi writes.

13. Ask for support in our suffering. In crossing our shoulders we ask God “to support us—to shoulder us—in our suffering,” Ghezzi writes.

14. Reaffirm our baptism. In using the same words with which we were baptized, the Sign of the Cross is a “summing up and re-acceptance of our baptism,” according to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

15. Reverse the curse. The Sign of the Cross recalls the forgiveness of sins and the reversal of the Fall by passing “from the left side of the curse to the right of blessing,” according to de Sales. The movement from left to right also signifies our future passage from present misery to future glory just as Christ “crossed over from death to life and from Hades to Paradise,” Pope Innocent II wrote.

16. Remake ourselves in Christ’s image. In Colossians 3, St. Paul uses the image of clothing to describe how our sinful natures are transformed in Christ. We are to take off the old self and put on the self “which is being renewed … in the image of its creator,” Paul tells us. The Church Fathers saw a connection between this verse and the stripping of Christ on the cross, “teaching that stripping off our old nature in baptism and putting on a new one was a participation in Christ’s stripping at his crucifixion,” Ghezzi writes. He concludes that we can view the Sign of the Cross as “our way of participating in Christ’s stripping at the Crucifixion and his being clothed in glory at his resurrection.” Thus, in making the Sign of the Cross, we are radically identifying ourselves with the entirety of the crucifixion event—not just those parts of it we can accept or that our palatable to our sensibilities.

17. Mark ourselves for Christ. In ancient Greek, the word for sign was sphragis, which was also a mark of ownership, according to Ghezzi. “For example, a shepherd marked his sheep as his property with a brand that he called a sphragis,” Ghezzi writes. In making the Sign of the Cross, we mark ourselves as belong to Christ, our true shepherd.

18. Soldier on for Christ. The sphragis was also the term for a general’s name that would be tattooed on his soldiers, according to Ghezzi. This too is an apt metaphor for the Christian life: while we can be compared to sheep in the sense of following Christ as our shepherd we are not called to be sheepish. We instead are called to be soldiers of Christ. As St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. … take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

19. Ward off the devil. The Sign of the Cross is one of the very weapons we use in that battle with the devil. As one medieval preacher named Aelfric declared, “A man may wave about wonderfully with his hands without creating any blessing unless he make the sign of the cross. But, if he do, the fiend will soon be frightened on account of the victorious token.” In another statement, attributed to St. John Chrysostom, demons are said to “fly away” at the Sign of the Cross “dreading it as a staff that they are beaten with.” (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia.)

20. Seal ourselves in the Spirit. In the New Testament, the word sphragis, mentioned above, is also sometimes translated as seal, as in 2 Corinthians 1:22, where St. Paul writes that, “the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” In making the Sign of the Cross, we are once again sealing ourselves in the Spirit, invoking His powerful intervention in our lives.

21. Witness to others. As a gesture often made in public, the Sign of the Cross is a simple way to witness our faith to others. “Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still,” wrote St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

Sources include: The Sign of the Cross, by Bert Ghezzi, and Signs of Life, by Scott Hahn

SignCross

Lessons In Apologetics #9: Theism

The next worldview examined by Geisler in “Christian Apologetics” is Theism. Theism is the belief that a transcendent God created the universe as a reality distinct from Himself but which He actively sustains through both a system of natural law which He created and through divine intervention at the moments He deems such action appropriate for the accomplishment of His divine will. It is Geisler’s intention that, since the other worldviews thus far are contradictory and therefore false, Theism is the true worldview.

However, Geisler does not leave readers dangling by requiring them to embrace Theism simply for the lack of another viable alternative. Instead, Geisler provides an argument more positive in its orientation incorporating analytical and evidential components.

The argument is stated as such: “(1) Some things undeniably exist. (2) My nonexistence is possible. (3) Whatever has the possibility not to exist is currently caused to exist by another. (4) There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence. (5) Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists. (6) This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all powerful, all knowing, and all perfect. (7) This infinitely perfect being is called “God”. (8) Therefore, God exists. (9) This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Scriptures. (10) Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists.”

Borrowing from Descartes’ conclusion “cogito ergo sum”, Geisler posits that, in order to deny that one exists, one must exist in order to do so. From reflections upon the nature of our own existence, one concludes that our nonexistence is possible. For even though we do not like to admit it, there was a time when the world was at least able to hobble along crippled without us in it.

We know that whatever has the possibility of not existing is currently caused to exist by another. Each of us resulted from the physical union of the genetic material of our respective parents who in turn came from the union of their parents, etc, etc. However, physical laws such as those of thermodynamics point out that this chain must have a cause that does not need to be caused. To accomplish this, the uncaused cause would need to be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all perfect. Anything less would be unable to be this uncaused cause.

It is appropriate to call this cause “God” since it possesses the attributes traditionally assigned to divinity. Therefore, God exists.

Geisler further argues that the God affirmed by this proof is the God described in the Bible because there can only be one infinitely perfect and changeless eternal being. However, at this point in the apologetic task Geisler is careful to point out that, “This does not mean that everything the Bible claims that this God said or did, he actually said or did. Whether or not what the Bible says about this God is another question. What we conclude here is … the God described in the Bible exists; second, whatever the Bible claims for this God that is not inconsistent with his nature, it is possible that he did indeed do and say (250).”

Having reached this conceptual plateau, the apologist can rest for just a moment before he must begin the sectarian and denominational wrangling to make the case that the Christian path into fellowship with God is indeed the correct one.

by Br. Frederick Meekins

Lessons In Apologetics #8: Atheism

If the Christian has no assurance that God will triumph from the way the world appears to be going, one would be better off hedging one’s bets by siding with the Devil or sitting the whole thing out all together. There are those that attempt to do just that.

Atheism is the worldview that believes that God does not exist. Those embracing this perspective tend to do so over both objective and existential reasons.

Those claiming to embrace Atheism for objective reasons often concentrate their attacks on the more scientific approaches to the existence of God such as the cosmological argument. The cosmological argument for the existence of God holds that all contingent things must have a cause and that this cause is at the minimum Aristotle’s Uncaused Cause and preferably the God of the Christian faith as expounded by Aquinas when he adapted these propositions for Christian usage. Atheists raise their hands and say hold on a moment to what they see as presumptuous conclusions.

From the Christian perspective, since God exists beyond what we perceive as time, He is sufficient or necessary to jumpstart the universe and get the temporal ball rolling. However, the Atheist has no metaphysical problem with an infinite chain of causality. Yet the laws of thermodynamics might dictate otherwise as these fundamental principles of physics hold that there is only a finite amount of energy available within a closed system.

So even though the Atheist may not have an intellectual objection to a material universe that is infinitely old, such an assumption smashes eventually against the hard wall of reality. However, seldom has that ever stopped anyone adamant about adhering to their favored delusions no matter what the evidence might say.

The next set of arguments for Atheism against belief in God center around a set of moral objections. All must confess these have crossed our minds at low points in each of our lives.

The most objective of these centers around the nature of goodness and God’s relationship to it. This argument was developed by Bertrand Russell (218).

The moral disproof for God states that good must result because either God decrees it or He does not. If good is good simply because God says it is and no one can argue against Him since He is the biggest guy on the cosmic block, good is not really good since God has willed it so arbitrarily. However, if God declares something good because of its own inherent nature or compliance with a standard beyond Himself, doesn’t that mean that the standard rather than God is ultimate? Thus, at best, God ends up being demoted to the status of Plato’s less than omnipotent demiurge.

Geisler counters, though, that this is really putting the ethical cart before the theistic horse. Geisler writes, “Rather than flowing from God’s arbitrary will, the moral law may be seen as rooted in God’s unchangeably good and loving nature, then the apparent dilemma is resolved (226).” Thus, good is something God is rather than something God decides or does. This brings to mind verses such as John 8:58 where God proclaims “Before Abraham was, I am.”

Other moral objections to the existence of God are a bit less ethereal and considerably more visceral and marked by the pain those leveling them have experienced or witnessed living here in an obviously fallen world. One such objection raised by Albert Camus in The Plague uses the backdrop of an epidemic to make the point that theism is inherently anti-humanitarian. The story posits the dichotomy that, if one assists the suffering, one is siding against God by interfering with the work of His judgment, and if one wants to be in His will and not stand in His way, one is therefore opposed to human well being (221).

Other related objections to God over the problem of evil dismiss His existence all together. A number of Atheists deny the existence of God on the grounds that, because people often suffer disproportionately to what they have done wrong, an all powerful and all good God does not exist. It is argued a God possessing these attributes would not allow evil. But because evil is rampant, that is proof that either God is not all powerful and cannot do anything about evil or that He is all powerful but does not do anything about the evil in the world because He is not good enough to care.

Though it is not always a comfort to someone that has befallen an overwhelming tragedy such as the murder of a loved one, the existence of evil does not by default disprove the existence of God. It does, however, toss the apologetic ball into the theist’s court to provide a plausible reason as to why an all-powerful and all-good God would allow suffering to exist.

Known as “theodicy”, these explanations attempt to reconcile the simultaneous existence of both God and evil. It is at this point that the theist must counter claim that the evil in the world is solvable or redeemable. The Christian especially can point out that God has indeed done something about the evil by sending His only begotten Son into the world to do something about this tragedy in the most personable of ways.

If the Atheist presses this objection too vigorously, the wily apologist ought to turn the argument back on his unbelieving compatriot. To even make the claim that God does not exist, because the world is not as good as we think it would be if He really did, is actually an indirect argument that He really does.

For to argue that things are not good enough is to assume some kind of standard exists beyond the earthly fray we find ourselves in. If this material universe was all there ever was, the highest good we could ever know is what we see around us and we’d be unable to criticize anything as the “is” automatically becomes the “ought” in such a context.

Yet there is a deep dissatisfaction that compels most human souls onward towards a better world. Romans 2:14-15 says, “…when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts…” Secondly, Atheists claiming disbelief in God because, in their view, He has not done enough to stop or prevent suffering in the world often want to have things both ways. These theophobes not only deny God over the imperfections they see in the world but then hypothesize that, if God existed, man would not be free because human freedom would be, as Geisler puts it, “circumscribed by his divine determination (231).”

However, it is because God loves us so much and respects us as individuals that in the vast majority of instances He does not directly interfere with most actions but rather permits their outcome to propel the world onward to His ultimate plan for all of His creation. Geisler writes, “If love is persuasive but never coercive, then allowing men to freely determine their own destiny would seem to be the loving way to make them (231).”

Unfortunately, some are in such a state of rebellion against God that they take this animus out on others. Foremost among such deeds would no doubt rank murder.

Some would respond that, if God really loved the innocent, He would intervene to prevent this crime. However, as C.S. Lewis hypothesizes in The Problem Of Pain, for our own benefit God has created a world that operates in the vast majority of instances by a series of repeatable and verifiable principles.

For example, according to this moral “steady-state theory”, I am able to pick up a knife to either slice a steak or slit my neighbor’s throat for the purposes of providing man with a rational world where we will not go mad. Faced with such, the Christian must embrace Romans 8:28 as a comfort in a world that often does not seem fair to our finite minds.

By Br. Frederick Meekins

STOP the MASS KILLINGS !!!

Warriors, we can do something about this issue. It knows no boundaries and effects more and more people, closer to home than you think. So why not start today. Educating ourselves and the general public will be a start to STOP the mass senseless killings. Other wise it will only continue to get worst. Remember, there are many ways to fight a battle. And in this case, education is one of our best weapons…
Sincerely IHS and yours, Bishop Andrew

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/mass-killings/index.html#title