Thursday, May 25, 2017

All Hands on Deck!

"It is coming! It is coming! It is coming! A great harvest of souls is coming! Now is the time to get ready!"
That was a very intense and powerful word the Lord gave me through an angel a few years ago.

It was coming back to me this morning as I was praying, along with a few other things I am supposed to share.

I can be shy about sharing prophetic words the Lord gives me but He gave me 1 Tim. 4:14 this morning, about not neglecting the gift within. So, out obedience I will share:

As storms pick up in the world, worldly people who don't know the Lord are going to be looking to Christians for answers. 

We have a choice to make as God's people.  We can coward and go back to our old ways of thinking and doing things or we can stand, walk in the knowledge of who we are in Christ and share with people the hope that lies within us.

Perhaps you have been discouraged, wondering if God is going to use you.  You see others doing and stepping out in the things you have always desired to do. Believe me, he is going to need all hands on deck! This could be your finest hour and you were made for such a time as this!

If you have been spending time resting in the Lord, growing in Him and allowing him to do a work in you, the time has not been in vain! If you have neglected this, it is not too late! Ask the Lord to multiply and make up for lost time!

Like a caterpillar in a chrysalis, you may be dormant now but He is saving the best wine for last! You are about to be released as a beautiful butterfly, full of His glory!

Did you know there is such thing as an arctic butterfly. These butterflies can endure and survive through extreme temperatures and circumstances. These are the kind of butterflies the Lord has been creating in us. No act of suffering and difficulty, joined to the heart of Christ has gone unseen or has been wasted!

He is especially going to need those who know his heartbeat through entering his rest. Those who know they are beloved by no merit of their own but because of God's goodness, love and His mercy! The joy that comes with knowing the Father's love and mercy will be contagious and will be a magnet for those who don't yet believe!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Revert's Perspective

It is no secret that my husband has struggled with deep regret over us leaving the Catholic Church and being away for 10 years. He has since worked through it and has forgiven himself, especially now that the Lord has restored him and he is doing what he is passionate and gifted in. I on the other hand have not dealt with the same regret. I can honestly see how the Lord used our time away and coming back to give us a deeper appreciation for what we had. The Lord can work good out of anything! Also, sometimes, you have to go to the other side to realize the grass isn't always greener. 

I hope I don't offend my Protestant friends. I did gain some valuable friendships during the time we were in a non-denominational church. There were also some things I really appreciated. I appreciated the often passionate worship, sense of community and the openness to hearing God speak. 
 Also, I often enjoyed bridging the gap and dispelling myths Protestants have toward Catholics.

My list however for what I appreciate now that we are back is longer. I share this with you because there are many Cradle Catholics who don't realize what they have and is why converts often make the best Catholics.

I appreciate that when we go to Mass, the focus is not on socializing, but on prayer and preparing ourselves to encounter the Living God!

I love and appreciate the Mystery that is there!

I appreciate the sense of the Sacred and the visible signs that point to the invisible. 

I appreciate the beauty, the statues, the incense... These things magnify God and they draw my attention upward, helping to open my heart to the things of Heaven.

I appreciate that Catholic worship isn't just about the music. There are many ways to worship God. The highest form of worship for Catholics is the sacrifice of Mass.

I have a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist and the depth of intimacy that is available through receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist also helps me have a deeper awareness of the habitation of God within me at all times.

I appreciate, that surprisingly, I am more accepted now with the ways I hear from God than I was when we were in a church that is supposed to accept those things. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. Many of the Catholic Saints had dreams, visions, prophetic words, etc. 

I appreciate that Catholics recognize the Communion of Saints. There are some Saints that I feel very close to and that's not considered weird. I know they are praying for me and helping me draw closer to God.

I appreciate the authority of the Church. I appreciate that, when it comes to doctrine and moral issues, it's not just left up to my own interpretation of scripture, especially because there are many modern issues that aren't even addressed specifically in scripture. 

I appreciate that there are boundaries and a correct understanding of grace; A cheapened form of grace goes around the cross instead of through it. It makes allowance for every kind of sin instead of offering people redemption and freedom. 

I appreciate the safety and protection that comes with the covering of the Catholic Church. I never experienced so much spiritual warfare as I did when we were Protestant. 

I appreciate that I no longer have to defend certain doctrines and morality. The Church does that for me so I can just focus on loving people.

Just like natural seasons, I appreciate the liturgical seasons. There is always something to look forward to. There is a rhythm but it is never the same.

I appreciate that before Christmas and Easter, we recognize the season of Advent and Lent as a time to prepare our hearts.

I have a deeper appreciation for Mary. Catholics do not worship her like some Protestants suspect but in honoring her and recognizing her beauty, I think Catholics have a better appreciation and respect for women, their role and their femininity.

Now I do recognize, sadly that much of the Catholic Church got away from Orthodox Catholicism in the 70's. Like St. Pope John Paul II predicted however, we are coming into a new spring time in the Church. The Church even looks different than it did twenty years ago. I guess, people are realizing that throwing out the baby with the bathwater wasn't such a good idea. The Holy Spirit is definitely at work! There is a new desire and longing, especially among young people for the Sacred, Holiness, and Truth. 

As I am writing this and reflecting on the things I love about being Catholic, I feel a deep anticipation especially for Mass in a couple weeks.  

This year, Sunday, June 4th is the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is the day the Church was born. Tom and I were here, in Indiana last Pentecost for his interview. We got to attend Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel last Pentecost. It was definitely recognized as a high feast day! They had lots of incense, chanting, and beautiful music! It was very beautiful and you definitely could feel the presence of the Lord!

I also am very hopeful for the future of the Catholic Church and anticipate what the Holy Spirit still has in store!

Matthew 16:18 - ...And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it!

*I had to edit because I originally thought this Sunday was Pentecost Sunday because last year it was the middle of May :).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Recognizing God's Presence in the Familiar

Last week the Gospel reading was from Luke 24 about the road to Emmaus. It is one of my favorite stories in the bible. After Jesus died on the cross, many of his disciples became sad and discouraged. In this story, two of his followers were headed back to Emmaus, to their old life, from Jerusalem because they were disheartened over Jesus' death. Jesus appeared and even walked with them along the road but at first they didn't recognize him.

I have often found it baffling: How could they NOT recognize him?! Yet, how often have I been in his presence and also didn't recognize him?

Like many Catholics, I was born into the Catholic Church. I was baptized as a baby. Catholics believe baptism actually does something. We believe at baptism, we receive the presence and fullness of God through the Holy Spirit. So, because I always had the Lord in my life, I didn't know what it was like not to have him.

 I also spent many weekends at my grandparent's house in Frankenstein, Missouri and often went to church with them. My grandfather helped lay the stones of the Catholic Church there. It is a very beautiful church, but when I was younger, I don't think I appreciated the beauty of it. There were a few things about the church however, that even as a child, left me in awe! One being that when you walk into the church you are greeted by two huge angels holding holy water fonts. Another thing I remember is the beautiful stations of the cross and big mural paintings on the wall. They seemed to draw me in and I remember often staring at those instead of listening to the homily.

When I was 19, I had an "Emmaus" type experience and recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, through the consecration of the Eucharist. That was the first time I realized Jesus was in the bread we ate at communion. It also was the first time I realized God knew me and wanted to have a relationship with me.

As many of you know, Tom and I left the Catholic Church a couple years into our marriage and were away for about 10 years. We stopped recognizing that he was there and gave up hope that he could resurrect what appeared to be a sleeping giant.

When my grandma died, I went back to Missouri for her funeral which took place in the Frankenstein church that I attended a lot as a kid. Through the beauty all around me, the memories came flooding back. I then recognized that he was there and he had always been there, even when I wasn't aware of it.

After being away for 10 years, Tom and I realized the grass wasn't greener on the other side. We missed the sense of the sacred, the beauty and the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Being away gave us a longing for these things that we once took for granted.

In 2007 we came back and gained a deeper appreciation for the beauty and the presence of the Lord in the Catholic Church.

I think there is something to be said for beauty. God created us with a physical body, not just a spirit. He gave us senses. He often speaks to us through our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. The physical world can draw our eyes upward and point us to the supernatural and something bigger than ourselves. There is something to be said for using incense, bells, sacred music, chanting, beautiful art, and what appears to be bread in liturgy. The things of this earth can mirror and magnify the things of heaven. We can know that whatever beauty we encounter in this life, it is only a glimmer and taste of what awaits us in the next!

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - meditate on these things."