The Safest Road to Hell

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screwtape letters

When you think of Satan what do you think of? Do you think of the pictures we so often see of a creature with horns and a pitchfork? What about when you think of temptation, and how Satan tempts us? Do you think it is through some kind of “In your face” method like taking over your body, as in a possession?

In this week’s edition of the National Catholic Register, there is an article about a recent meeting of exorcists. It seems there is an increase in the number of these being performed throughout the world. But in the article is this warning:

Both Father Barrajon and Father Truqui pointed out that although the devil causes the sensationalism of demonic possession, he is at work in much subtler ways. Possession attracts “lots of attention,” said Father Truqui, “but we should be aware of the more common ways the devil works, through tempting, deceiving, pushing people towards lies.” – National Catholic Register

When I think back to my own past, I know how the devil worked through me. Very slowly and methodically. He turned me to sin, convincing me it was okay, it was alright to do these little sins I was committing, I wasn’t hurting anyone. How wrong he was. I was hurting others in my life, I was hurting myself and most importantly I was hurting the Lord.

Here is a quote from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” a book of letters written by a head devil to his nephew, helping him along on his way to being a really good devil.

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

How true this is!

Now more than ever

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How many times during your reading of the Bible have you thought about how even though it was written 2,000 or more years ago it is still very relevant to today’s world? Probably it is more relvant now more than ever.

This isn’t the first time I have written about the way we have pushed God from our everyday lives, and I bet it won’t be the last. With that in mind, periodically I look at various chapters or passages in the Bible and see how they relate to today’s world. Now, don’t forget I am not, nor do I pretend to be a biblical scholar, just a frustrated guy trying to understand things.

Today let’s take a look at Psalm 10. I read this last night and immediately it struck me how the first two lines relate so much to today.

1.Why, LORD, do you stand afar and pay no heed in times of trouble?

2. Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes.

Doesn’t it seem that God is not paying any attention to all the turmoil going on in the world today? I believe the poor being referred to in this day and age are both the poor in spirit and beleivers who are ridiculed by those non-believers and those with an agenda to remove God even further from our lives than he already is.

3. The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the LORD.

4. In their insolence the wicked boast: “God does not care; there is no God.”

The are proud of all the “things” they have acquired, even though they have gotten them without caring about others, without taking care of the poor, without caring who they hurt on the way to the top, all the time not really knowing what the “top” truly is.

5. Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them.

6. They say in their hearts, “We will never fall; never will we see misfortune.”

7. Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues.

They think because they are successful, they don’t need God, they don’t need to listen to Him, they don’t believe they will ever fail. They will do whatever they need to do to succeed. We who believe give up, we are attacked for our beleifs and crushed and beat down, thinking God really doesn’t care what happens for us.

13. Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, “God does not care”?

14. But you do see; you take note of misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans.

Bur God does care and He will take care of those who believe, when we reach the “Top”. The top is the Day of Judgement and and we will either be rewarded, or not. God is watching, He sees what is going on and we can never give up hope, no matter how bad things seem to be.

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If Jesus Could, So Can’t I

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I have a confession to make, I haven’t been to confession this Lent. In fact, I haven’t been having a good Lent at all. I haven’t fasted, I haven’t abstained from anything, I’ve missed Mass and I haven’t done any extra prayers. The funny thing is if I ever needed God in my life more than ever, it is now.

It has been a long, cold, snowy, hard winter and it shows no sign of letting up. Freelance work is extremely slow in coming. I am still trying to get my unemployment, and frankly no one wants to hire someone who is closer to sixty than he is to fifty. Part of the problem is that all I have really done for the last 15 years or so has driven various trucks. Yes I ran my own business for awhile, and those skills can certainly help me, but I just don’t know what I want to do, other than write. But writing isn’t paying the rent.

I haven’t given up on God, in fact, I probably trust Him more than ever. Even with all I have done in the past He is still with me, frustrated with me I am sure, but still here. I guess I am still waiting for that God moment, where He somehow sends me a message telling me this is what you need to do.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

I know that the Lord is my shepherd and as long as I trust in Him, I will be alright. He will guide me and make sure I get through this.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

No matter how rough things get, no matter how bumpy the path, I will make it through. And I am comforted knowing He is there.

Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of my enemies; make thy way straight before me.

As I look back over the past few years, I realize, even though right now I am in somewhat of a spiritual drought, I have come a long way. I have a long way to go, but I have come a long way. I haven’t given up, crawled into a hole with a bottle or two and I have plugged along every day, doing my best to keep moving forward.

Today is Good Friday. Just around this time is when Jesus was carrying His cross, where he would be nailed to it. He never gave up, He never turned away, even though He very well could have. He accepted His fate and the pain He would go through. What I am going through is nothing compared to that, not even close.

Like Jesus, I need to continue moving forward, one step at a time, no matter what adversities I face, no matter what pain I am in.

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Jesus Didn’t Give Up

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From Unsplash.com

From Unsplash.com

Here is a question for the class: How much faith do you put into God healing you when you are sick? I am not saying to not go to a doctor, or refuse treatment, but do you you think having faith in God helps you beat your illness?

As you may or may not know I have fibromyalgia and I am in the process of writing a book about it. I have done a lot of research on it, including visiting various fibro forums where I learn that many people with fibro are a lot worse off than I am. For that I am thankful. But I also wonder how many of these people may have given up and just except the fact that they are going to be miserable.

I always remember something my way older sister told me when I asked her how she deals with her rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that can be crippling and she told me “I just get up every day and don’t let it get to me.” Now that might not be a completely accurate quote, but it is close enough. She told me no matter how bad she feels, she gets up, moves around, goes to work and eventually she “forgets” the pain. This is what I try to do each day as well. There are days, especially lately because of issues with my insurance changing my meds, when I hurt or am exceptionally tired, but I still get up and start my day. Believe me there is nothing I would like better than to stay in bed, but if I did that, I would feel worse because I didn’t do anything all day.

Did you ever stop to think what would have happened if Jesus just gave up and stayed in bed every day? He must have been pretty tired, walking everywhere, teaching, healing and praying, yet he kept going to save us. He could have did what Pilate asked, he could have not gone to Jerusalem, he knew what was going to happen. But he went anyway.

He suffered a lot more than I ever will and if he could do it, so can I. Here is a passage from my book, coming soon to an eBook seller near you:

When you wake up every day you have a choice to make. You can choose to get out of bed or you can choose not to get out of bed. You can choose to be thankful for you still have or you can choose to commiserate about what you don’t have. You can choose to have a good and near normal quality of life or you can choose to be miserable. It really is your choice.

Comments, questions, criticisms? Feel free to enter them below.

“…and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” – James 5:15

Thy Will Be Done

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We all know that line from “The Lord’s Prayer”. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” How do we know what God’s will is? We often hear that instead of asking God what he can do for us, we should ask Him what we could do for Him, what is His will, what does He want from us. But how do we know?

“Everything happens for a reason”, “God has a plan for all of us”, these are other things we hear but we are never told what the plan or the reason is. How do we discern what God wants us to do? We pray, but nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change, we never receive a sign telling us what we should be doing. Or do we?

Do we get “signs” from God and just don’t realize it? Do we take the time to listen when He speaks? The last couple of weeks have been tough here at the little house on the lake. I still haven’t found a new job, my better half was out of work for a month, we’re behind on all of or bills, my insurance company made me change my meds for my fibromyalgia and they aren’t working and we appear to be in a winter that just refuses to end. Needless to say I am more than just a little depressed. Is this part of God’s plan for me – to make me suffer? What did I ever do? Wait, it’s best I don’t go there.

Then I realize a few things. First, I am still here and that’s a plus. I also realize that losing my job was really God’s way of telling me maybe it was time for me to stop working 14 hours a day, driving 700 miles and constantly being in pain from the lifting I did every day. I also have more time to write, something I always have wanted to do although right now it isn’t paying the bills. And despite the problem with the med change, most of me feels better, at least I can stand up straight again. I also realize the fibromyalgia was impairing my driving somewhat (combined with the long hours and lifting), so maybe God was giving me a sign.

We might not always know what God wants from us, we might not always know what He is trying to tell us, but you can bet He is there. We only need to listen.

Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6: 9 – 14

Growing in Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics Including Reflections on Faith by Pope Francis

You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible

The Gospel According to Matthew (2nd Ed.) (The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)

Is God Testing Us?

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Courtesy of Unsplkash

Courtesy of Unsplash

Have you ever been told that God is testing you? For example when there is some temptation in front of you, do you think it might be God trying to trick you into sinning to see how strong you are? I have to admit I used to think that at times, at least those few times I even gave sin any thought.

One of my favorite passages from scripture is the one that is at the top of my blog:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

When you first read this it almost sounds like God does indeed tempt you. He just doesn’t tempt you beyond what you can handle. But really what he is saying is He won’t let someone else tempt you beyond what you can handle. That someone else is Satan and his helpers. I guess this is where the saying “God only gives us as much as we can handle comes from.

I think back over my past, something I do way too much of I know, and I think of all the times I sinned and succumbed to temptation and I realize each time it was my choice. No one held a gun to my head, not even Satan, I sinned of my own free will. I also learned that God never let me go so far down where I couldn’t get back up.

There is another passage from James:

Blessed is the man who endures the trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. – James 1:12 – 15

This is where we learn God doesn’t tempt us. Each of us is “lured and enticed” by our own desire. Take a look at the seven deadly sins:

  • Pride
  • Avarice
  • Envy
  • Wrath
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth

Each of these are related to some type of desire we have. Our pride will lead us to perhaps do things we wouldn’t to get ahead in our jobs. Avarice is our desire to get more “stuff”. Envy is when we desire someone else’s “stuff”. Wrath is when we get angry because we can’t have “stuff”. Lust is when we really want “stuff “and will do anything to get it. Gluttony is when we have too much “stuff” but won’t give it up. And sloth is when we are too lazy to earn the “stuff” we want. All based on our desires. The word “stuff” can mean a lot of things, it could be a bigger house, a new car, or a “trophy” wife or husband. (Is there such a thing as a trophy husband?) We are tempted by the desire for any or all of these things.

As it says in James. Desire leads to sin which leads to death. Just don’t blame it on God.

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Pope Paul VI – Prophet

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In my last post I talked about how some people are trying to play God instead of letting God be God. I took some time today to read Humanae Vitae, an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1968. There are two paragraphs that in reading them now were so prophetic.

I don’t remember what was talked about when this came out, I was only 12 and what the Pope had to say about anything was the furthest thing from my mind. I understand now that it was pretty controversial. I am guessing this was probably the beginning of when many began to leave the Catholic Church, or at least the start of Catholics thinking they knew better than the Church. This encyclical was a result of the rise of birth control use in our society and why the Church believed it to be wrong.

Let’s take a look at the two paragraphs I think were the most prophetic. All three are in the section entitled “”Grave Consequences of Methods of Artificial Birth Control”.

Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men — especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point — have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion.- On Human Life: Humanae Vitae

I think we can all agree that there is a serious problem in the world today with the road having been “opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality”. Watch daytime television, shows like Jerry Springer, Maury and Bill Cunningham to get a birds eye view of what has happened.  Look around and it isn’t too hard to see how man has lost respect for women and has “come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion”.

Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be more efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.

Pope Paul predicted exactly what is happening around the world where governments are imposing restrictions on how many children one couple can have. Even the United States government, through the United Nations advocates population control for developing nations.

Take a hard look around and see if we as a society are any better off now then we were before 1968. We have unwed mothers, deadbeat dads, abortions that are through the roof, poverty, pornography, all of these things are the real war on woman.

And somewhere, looking out from whatever hole he happens to be hiding in, Satan is laughing at all of us.

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