HE SENT LEANNESSWritten by Clint Nobles
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"A false balance is abomination to LORD: but a just weight is his delight." (Pro. 11:1) God's word declares that if one man increases another must decrease. Jesus' ministry could not begin until John's decreased so much that he died. Therefore Biblical precedent had been set, fleshly man cannot increase without spirit man decreasing. If your flesh feasts . . . your soul must famish. It is a law of God.
In our everyday lives we fight and, by everlasting mercies of God, we must win this battle of flesh and spirit. "For flesh lusteth against Spirit, and Spirit against flesh: and these are contrary one to other: so that ye cannot do things that ye would." (Gal. 5:17) We are commanded to "Love not world, neither things that are in world. If any man love world, love of Father is not in him. For all that is in world, lust of flesh, and lust of eyes, and pride of life, is not of Father, but is of world." (I John 2:15-16) Therefore, let us learn from mistakes of past and remember always that though God "gave them their request" he also "sent leanness into their soul."
Clint has had many of his articles, stories and poems published in a variety of newspapers and magazines and is a contributing writer for the local newspaper.
Martin Luther Would Be ProudWritten by Gary Shirley
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Clearly intrigued, and impressed with Jeff’s insights, Tom said, “Are you saying that good Catholics can actually deepen their state of sin by following their conscience instead of a Church teaching that they find difficult or confusing? If you are, then where lies hope of Christian life? Where, indeed, is mercy?” With a quick glance at Rose, who was enjoying dialogue, Jeff responded, “Two issues, Tom. First, I am drawing that fine line between truly not knowing a certain teaching of faith versus knowing teaching in your heart and ignoring it willfully. This distinction is crucial. Do you think there’s a Catholic out there who does not know that Church is against all forms of artificial contraception? Yet, millions of Catholics wantonly disobey this teaching. How about capital punishment? The Church has come out in Catechism and in media against taking of human life for any reason, including those on death row. The position has been made clear many times. Now, poll your fellow Catholics next time an execution is scheduled. The result? ‘Kill guy,’ many will say. ‘An eye for an eye...’ and all usual clichés will come easily off tongue. Where’s support of Church’s teaching? Where’s deference to her authority? Where’s obedience? If Church does not possess one truth, who does? Once again we have “protestantized” faith. Pick any teaching of Church, it really doesn’t matter which one - from executive who thinks “white” lies are acceptable business practice, to feminist who refuses to acknowledge sacredness of new life, to student who insists that cheating he does now is offset by good he will do as a doctor in future. In each case, they know in their hearts that they are doing wrong but to absolve themselves they vilify Holy Mother Church for solemnly reminding them of Christ’s call to perfection.”
“Sounds to me like it’s better to not know faith at all and plead ignorance at feet of God when I die,” remarked Tom. “Sure, Tom,” responded Jeff, “and Our Lord should have just sat under a palm tree eating dates and not bothered to teach his flock. That brings me to second issue - never forget that we have an obligation to form our conscience. This obligation is serious, it is difficult and it is lifelong. We cannot hide behind the, ‘I’m following my conscience’ defense when we fail to properly form that conscience. We have resources to meet this obligation in form of Deposit of Faith. The Bible, Catechism, writings of Fathers, Saints, Doctors and Councils all provide insights into wisdom of ages, ably presented to us by our bishops, priests and deacons. With these profound resources we are equipped to handle life’s moral and spiritual challenges. The problem is that most Catholics attempt to get by with an eighth-grade understanding of Church’s teachings or, worse, they adopt society’s spin on profound issues of our day. That’s like turning to a Ford dealer to discuss virtues of owning a Chevy,” Jeff concluded.
Rounding curve into his subdivision, Tom seemed pensive. Jeff read his brother’s face and asked, “What is it, Tom? Are you still convinced that your pastor was wasting his breath today?” “Quite contrary,” replied Tom. “I now realize he was doing his job by keeping us aware of our Christian obligations. Like many in congregation, I put up my personal filter screen to block what I did not want to hear. It’s always easier to sit in pew and mock message.” He continued, “I feel somewhat overwhelmed by work I need to do to raise my level of understanding. What do you recommend?” Jeff, sensing his brother’s sincerity, replied, “I recommend we start with a pot of Linda’s excellent Colombian coffee, then we’ll crack open that beautiful Catechism you have in your study. You know... one still in shrink wrap,” he teased, as only a brother could do.
Gary Shirley, his wife, and three children are members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kennesaw, Georgia, where Gary serves as catechist in the adult education program.