….CONNECTING THE DOTS….

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Did you know that there is a HUGE difference between being a ‘Christian’ and being a ‘Follower of Christ’..???

Yep….HUGE difference…

I was reading today’s “Reading of the Day” and it occurred to me that while I have been afforded a BIG responsibility being His servant, I see others who cannot seem to comprehend one little thing: JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE CLERICS DOES NOT MEAN THEY GET A ‘GOLDEN TICKET’ INTO HEAVEN!

While some may argue this point, I wish to present MY thoughts on this and YOU can decide for yourselves if what I say is truth…

When a person is a ‘Christian’ they attend church, tithe (if the case applies), toss money into an offering bowl, sing a few psalms, repeat prayers by rote en mass, have SOMEONE ELSE read the Bible TO them and tell them what THE CHURCH says it means…then they go home, and whatever has been done in that building is pretty much forgotten, as they feel they have done their ‘obligation’ to God for the week…they say ‘I have read my Bible’ and then proceed to use it as a weapon to point out the wrongdoings of others with GLARING precision….

These same people also shout “AMEN” and “HALLELUJAH” to the rafters yet in private curse, do DIRE things to others, drink heavily, and ignore EVERYTHING that was said during the lesson…and HATE IT when THEIR OWN inequities are pointed out to them…

Similar to seeing one of the “Gangsta” types who wear a cross, say they are Christian, then pull a gun and kill because someone is not showing them “respect”…you get my drift…

A ‘Follower of Christ’ is one who AFTER hearing a sermon, or lecture, goes home and INCORPORATES it into their life…. one who READS the Bible and ADHERES to it’s teachings..who does not pound their faith into others, nor try to attack others because they are not of their faith.

One who realizes the basic truths found in Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

These sorts walk around doing GOOD deeds, not merely MOUTHING them…one who PRAYS with ALL their heart not for themselves, but for OTHERS who are in far greater need than they are. A Follower of Christ is one who does not count cost when they see someone in need…they give of themselves, their time, their money, their skills to make the poor and suffering LIVE rather than merely exist.

In other words…they LIVE ‘The Word’…in every breath, every action, every minute of the day…they UNDERSTAND what it means,the sacrifice (yes, both of themselves and of Christ)…they may not get rich, or be noted in the annals of history…nor will you see them on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine…but you will SEE their deeds…you will FEEL it when talking to them…that ‘aura’ of quiet acceptance around them…that sense of PEACE in their soul…

They do not walk by someone who lay bleeding on the pavement, they STOP TO HELP…

I have seen people laying on the streets here…people who, yes, may be on drop over the rim of a bottle…and I see almost everyone just walk by without a glance.

Case and point: Just last week I saw a man laying under a bush…most just said “He is probably drunk” and kept walking…I, on the other hand (due to the fact being a cleric means MORE to me than just simply ‘preaching’) checked to see if he was okay…it turns out he had been robbed the night before, injured, and left under there bleeding…(yes, I called the services and they took care of him)…now…here is where we separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ in this…I went TO THE HOSPITAL later that day to see if he was ALRIGHT.

See, I am not one who is merely content to just ‘preach’ my faith to another, or ‘save their soul’ as others would have me do…I CARE. I care enough to WANT to help without asking, to AID those in need without thought to cost…true, I am the poorest mouse in the church, but THAT IS MY JOB.

(No, I am NOT blowing my own trumpet..I am giving an EXAMPLE of ONE THING I do besides wear a rather hideous robe! 😀 )

Not to stand there, preach a small sermon, then hightail it out for a round of golf…it is not MY place to ask “What church do they attend?” if someone asks me to bless or baptize someone…if someone seeks Communion, it is not for the likes of ME to say “They are not of this church, so no”…WE ARE HIS SERVANTS..not BETTER than those we serve.

To serve God means YOU HAVE NO ‘SELF’…your ‘self’ is to GIVE TO OTHERS…to LEAD them by example so that they too will rise up and lead others as well….AS A CLERIC WE ARE JUDGED HARSHER BY GOD…because we are supposed to be THE EXAMPLE by which HIS WORD is made known.

They are fond of speaking about ‘the end of times’…yet fail to realize how CLOSE they are..how much their soul is in DANGER..

“‘An end! The end is coming on the four corners of the land. 3’Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you.

For My eye will have no pity on you, nor will I spare you, but I will bring your ways upon you, and your abominations will be among you; then you will know that I am the LORD!” -Ezekiel 7:2b-4

When I see other people saying “This or that is not what my church does” or “This or that is what my preacher says” I get SO ANGRY…I know, I know…but I sometimes cannot help it…they use their “church” to hide behind to cover their own inequities…

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Mark 7:6-8

DO NOT PLACE your ‘faith’ on DOGMA or RHETORIC…READ YOUR BIBLE YOURSELF…you are adults! You should be able to say after reading a passage “Oh, THIS is what he meant I should do”…not someone saying “This is what it means, and this is what you should do”…because 9 out of 10 times CHURCH DOCTRINE, and not THE WORD.

I can sum it all up in two short passages…Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

And Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no commandment greater than these.”

It is not enough to simply mouth prayers, you must BECOME prayer…it is not enough to SAY you are a Christian, you must ACT like one…not merely in singing and going to a building once a week, but in ACTION AND THOUGHT…EVERY DAY of the week.

Therein lay the difference…if you connect the dots, you will see that while one set of people say ‘I am a Christian’ there is a MINORITY who actually ARE….

SET YOURSELF APART…BE THE KIND OF ‘FOLLOWER OF CHRIST’ HE WANTS YOU TO BE…

But then again, this is just my take on the subject…

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READING OF THE DAY: 11 FEBRUARY, 2014

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“When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.

(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).)

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”

He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;

In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’

Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.

You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.” -Mark 7:1-13.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 11 FEBRUARY, 2014

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Our Lady of Lourdes
(1858)

The first of the eighteen apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the humble Bernadette Soubirous took place at Lourdes on February 11, 1858.

On March 25th, when Bernadette asked the beautiful Lady Her name, She replied: I am the Immaculate Conception.

The Church for long centuries had believed in Her Immaculate Conception, Her exemption from every trace of the original sin which through Adam, our first and common father, separated man from his God.

It was never proclaimed a dogma, however, until 1854.

In the fourth year after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, when a certain girl named Bernadette asserted that she had seen the Immaculate Mother of God many times in a rock cavern, on the banks of the river Gave, near the town of Lourdes, in the diocese of Tarbes, in France, so many and great wonders took place that every prudent and devoted follower of Christ could easily know that the finger of God was there.

The most famous among these is that sick people who took the water from a spring that had miraculously originated in the grotto were ever so often restored to health.

Reports of the favors which the faithful were said to have received in the sacred grotto had become very widespread, and with the gathering of people increasing daily, the Bishop of Tarbes, after a juridical inquiry into the facts, permitted the religious veneration of this Immaculate Virgin to be held in the grotto itself.

Before long a church was built, and innumerable crowds of the faithful have come there every year, and in time the name of the Immaculate Mother of God has become renowned everywhere in the world; the more so each year, as the procession of the most blessed Sacrament takes place, during which some of the sick who are brought there from all parts of the world seeking health from God through the intercession of his Immaculate Mother, grow well.

Because of all this, Pope Pius X officially extended to the Universal Church this feast which Leo XIII had permitted to be celebrated only in certain places.

Mary Herself, in 1830, had asked of a Vincentian Sister at the Rue du Bac in Paris, that a medal be struck bearing Her likeness and the inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Our Lady by Her apparitions at Lourdes in 1858 seems to convey Her appreciation for the formal proclamation of Her great privilege, by Pius IX, in 1854.

Countless and magnificent miracles of healing have occurred at Lourdes, confirmed by physicians and recorded in the Lourdes shrine Book of Life.

To name but one: a doctor wrote a book describing the great miracle he had witnessed for a dying girl, whom he had observed on the train that was carrying handicapped persons from Paris to Lourdes.

He had not expected her to survive and return home from the sanctuary.

Through the Lourdes Apparitions, the devotion of persons in all parts of the world to the Immaculate Mother of God has been wonderfully spread, and countless miracles have been wrought everywhere through Her intercession.

The Virgin Mother of God is truly the chosen Messenger of God to these latter times, which are entrusted to Her, the chosen vessel of the unique privilege of exemption from original sin.

Only with Her assistance will the dangers of the present world situation be averted.

As She has done since 1858 in many places, at Lourdes, too, She gave us Her peace plan for the world, through Saint Bernadette: Prayer and Penance, to save souls.

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)