Friday, March 21, 2014

Don't Let Hate Win

Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, passed away yesterday at the age of 84.  The Westboro Baptist Church made itself famous by never passing up the opportunity to protest something.   They protested everything from soldier's funerals to concerts to scenes of natural destruction.  And their protests spewed hatred while claiming that they were spreading the word of love.   Unfortunately, even in death, Fred Phelps continues to create hatred--this time towards him and his church.

My Facebook timeline and Twitter feed was abuzz yesterday after Phelps' death.  Most of what I read what the exact same type of hatred that the Westboro Baptist Church delivers.  If there is one thing that Phelps did it was unite people from the left and people from the right in their contempt towards the WBC.   I had people in the military saying, "I hope you rot in hell" and liberal friends who think that everyone should be free to believe what they want saying, "I'll piss on your grave."

Reading all of this truly made me sad because I believe that instead of spreading the word of God they were aiding Satan in spreading hate and Satan loved every minute of it because that hatred was going back to the WBC.  The WBC claims God hates when the opposite is true.   God cannot hate because God IS love and when people hate they are separated from God---just what the Devil wants.  

Everyone has been saying that Fred Phelps is an evil man.  Some even comparing him to Hitler or Stalin.   I'm pretty sure that he did not kill thousands of innocent but I cannot judge how evil he was because I cannot look into his heart and thus I cannot judge the man just like he couldn't just all of those that he claimed God hated.  

I do know this though.   God loved him.   He was created in the image and likeness of God and God desired to have a relationship with him.   I know that Jesus died on the cross for him.  I know that God has called me to love just He loves me.   So, you'll excuse me if I don't hate Fred Phelps and instead, I pray that in the end he found peace with God and is on his way to Heaven instead of Hell.  You see----I won't let hate win in my heart.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Easy is Sin

I have two little prayers that epitomize where I seem to be spiritually.   The first one is one I learned from Mark Hart and it is, "Lord, I grant you permission to remove anyone--or anything---that keeps me from you."    The second prayer is attributed to St. Augustine and is, "Lord, make me chaste----just not yet."

You see, I want nothing more than to be a saint and to spend eternity in front of the face of God in Heaven, yet the lure of sin is so great that I seem to desire it more than Heaven.  I think there are several reasons for this.  

The first is the deception of what sin is, provided by the Devil.  The Devil convinces us that sin is not that bad, and what people tell me is sin probably isn't really.   I mean, who are we really hurting?  And who is making the rules up anyway?  Who are they to tell me that something is wrong.  I'm the one who knows best about what's right or wrong for me.  

The reality is of course, I'm ignorant when it comes to most things much less theology.   Should I really trust my eternal soul on my own opinion when I don't even know how the combustion engine works much less even begin to understand the inner thinking of God, who created the universe?    We are blessed that God gave us the Church to guide us and help us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to become saints.

They second lure of sin is that, lets face it, sin is so much damn fun.   I enjoy a good snarky comment that zings someone.   I enjoy finding the good juicy gossip on someone and I certainly enjoy complaining about someone and telling my friends how dumb someone else.  And don't even get me started on attractive women---they are pleasing on the eyes.   Even when I know things are a sin and understand why a certain behavior or act is sinful it is so difficult to turn away and and do what is more pleasing to God instead of what is pleasing to Jamie.   Those chains of sin are strong and very difficult to break.  But it's not impossible.  As I've matured, I've broken some and the lures of certain sins are as attractive as they once were.

Finally, I don't think that, as humans, we are more in touch with our physical sides and not so in tune with our spiritual sides.   As such, I don't think we are aware of the damage that sin causes us.   When we sin, we turn away from God.   We are walking away from Him.   So, the real price of sin is death.   So, if I die in a state of mortal sin I've destroyed my relationship with God and I've sentenced myself to eternity without His love and without being in His presence.  Fortunately, God loves us and wants us to be with Him.  So much in fact that He became a man Himself and became the ultimate sacrifice for our soul.  Fortunately, He is merciful.  Fortunately, he gave us a way for us to repair that relationship with us in the sacrament of reconciliation.

God knows me.   He knows that I love Him and want a relationship with Him.  He also knows my failings and how desirable I find sin.    He gave me the Church to lead me and to help me better understand sin and not be fooled by the Devil.   He gave me the Church to help me break those chains of sin.  He gave me the Church to that I can receive that sacrament and be reconciled with Him.   So, yes Lord, remove anyone or anything from that keeps me from you---and do it now, because I do not want to ever be separated from you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Five Love Languages

Several years ago, I read the book "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and to this day I think it is one of the most fascinating and eye opening books about love and I believe that every spouse should read it.   It helps you to understand that the way you are expressing your love may not be received in the way that you think it is.

The basic premiss of the  book is that we all speak one of the five different love languages.  The love language that we speak is how we express our love for each other.  It is also the most favorable way that we receive love.   So, a husband and a wife may be madly in love with each other but if they are expressing their love to the other in a language the other isn't speaking then that love isn't being communicated and that person is not feeling loved.    Then problems arise because  that love that the  couple has for each other is not being communicated.  So, the key is to determine what love language your spouse speaks  and communicate to them in that love language, even though it may not be your primary language, so that they more fully receive that love you have for them.

The different love languages are:
Words of Affirmation- Compliments, words of love, verbally expressing your love, appreciation and admiration about the other
Acts of Service--Doing something for the other, especially something that the other person does not like doing
Receiving Gifts--Actually giving something physical to someone such as something that you've noticed they need or something as simple as a card or a love letter
Quality Time--sitting down with the person, eye to eye contact, uninterrupted time
Physical Touch--goes beyond the bed room (but certainly includes it),  holding hands, a gentle touch as you pass by, hugs

An example is the husband who constantly brings home gifts for his wife but she is frustrated because she just wants him to help around the house more often.   He then gets upset because she is fixing dinner instead of appreciating the gift.

It is important to know your spouses love language not only so that you can communicate your  love to them in that language but to hear it from your spouse.

I think a reason I enjoyed this book so much is because my wife and I don't speak the same love languages.   I have no doubt that Abby loves me but there are times when I'm sad and lonely because she is not speaking my language.   I actually have two----"Words of Affirmation" and "Physical Touch."     When she isn't speaking those languages, I have feelings of rejection and my self-esteem tanks.   It is in those moments that it is important for me to hear her communicate in her love language---which is "Quality Time."    So, I realize that her going to the store with me or watching television with me are ways that she expresses her love for me.  And I, in turn, have to make sure that   I plan dates nights and such for her.

We can't alwaysexpress our love for our spouse in the way that only makes us happy.   Buying your wife a bowling ball when she does not bowl (like Homer Simpson did for Marge) doesn't make sense.   Sometimes, we have to get dressed up and go to the ballet.   Sometimes we need to take time to tell her how beautiful she is, or buy him the video game he wants, or hold hands.  Whatever your loved one wants.

If you have not read, "The 5 Love Languages" then order it today.   Download it to your Kindle or Nook and read it tonight.   There are some great ideas in there for showing your spouse you love them.   You can also checkout their website at 5 Love