The Most Inspiring Christian Since Helen Keller



I’d heard of Nick Vujicic. I’d caught a glimpse of him on Christian television. But nothing prepared me for his recent appearance at my church.

A mighty man of faith, Vujicic delivered one of most powerful, spirit-filled messages I’ve ever heard. I think the Australian-born evangelist the most inspirational Christ follower since Helen Keller.

Keller’s life story was immortalized in the 1962 motion picture “The Miracle Worker.” Born in 1880, Helen was 19 months old when she contracted “brain fever,” as the Keller family doctor called it. She was struck blind, deaf and mute.

Nearly feral as a child, Helen’s desperate family found her a teacher – Anne Sullivan, the miracle worker – who leaned in and, over time, got through to the blind, deaf and mute girl, teaching her to communicate.

One of those with whom young Helen communicated was Rev. Philipps Brooks, who introduced her to Christianity. He was renowned, in his time, for his preaching. He is best known today for writing the lyrics of the famous Christmas Carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

In one of her letters to Rev. Brooks, Helen told the clergyman that, even before she could communicate, she knew about God. She felt His presence in her darkness; heard His still, small voice in her silence.

Helen didn’t know what to call the presence that was always with her. The tender-aged blind, deaf and mute girl had no concept of names. But she knew God.

As an adult, Helen was able to share her testimony with millions of people throughout the world. “The only really blind,” she said, “are those who will not see the truth – those who shut their eyes to the spiritual vision.”

On the other hand, she also said, “Blind people who have eyes know that they live in a spiritual world inconceivably more wonderful than the material world that is veiled to them. The flowers they look upon are the immortal flowers which grow in God’s garden.”

I can’t help wondering if Helen Keller might have been present, in spirit, on that recent Sunday when Nick Vujicic visited my church; if she might have been among that “great cloud of witnesses” of which the Apostle Paul wrote about in his Letter to the Hebrews.

Nick was born 31 years ago with tetra-amelia syndrome, an exceedingly rare disorder that consigned him to a life with no arms and no legs.

By age eight, Nick despaired that he was not like other kids; that there was no happy future awaiting him. And, two years later, he tried to end his misery by drowning himself in the bathtub.

But God had put a hedge around the boy. Nick’s repeated attempts to take his own life failed.

Over the next few years, young Nick was awakened to the Holy Spirit working within him. And, at age 15, he gave his life to the Lord.

By immersing himself in God’s Word, Nick learned that he was not cursed at birth, but “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He learned that his being born without limbs was not purposeless, but “so that the works of God could be revealed” through him.

And the Lord has, indeed, done miraculous works through Nick and his global ministry, “Life Without Limbs,” as the evangelist has traveled throughout the world sharing the Gospel.

Like the time Nick traveled to Mumbai, India. The Holy Spirit moved him to visit the city’s red-light district; to go from brothel to brothel preaching Christ. At one brothel, a woman asked Nick to pray for her sister, an invalid who had not walked in four years.

The woman had previously prayed to her assorted Indian gods. She had bowed before their graven images. She had left offerings. All, to no avail.

So she decided to put the Christian evangelist to the test. “If your God is real,” she challenged Nick, “pray for my sister to walk?”

So Nick prayed aloud, in Jesus’ name. And, lo! and behold!, the woman’s invalid sister stood and walked for the first time in four years.

The women of the brothel were dumbstruck, much like those who witnessed Jesus heal the blind, the lame and the leprous. They repented their lives of sin and declared Jesus their Lord.

Their chains were broken. They were set free. And it was because the work of God was revealed through Nick Vujicic, a man with no limbs, a mighty man of faith.

Honor Moms, Not Mammon, on Mother’s Day



Today marks the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.

It is the fourth-biggest holiday for spending, according to CNBC. It is the third-largest card-sending holiday, according to Hallmark, with America’s moms receiving more than 133 million cards.

It’s the biggest phone-calling day of the year, according to, with call volume spiking by as much as 37 percent. And it’s the biggest holiday of the year for dining out, according to the National Restaurant Association.

What most of us are unaware of is the Christian origin of Mother’s Day. It wasn’t about obligatory Mother’s Day presents or perfunctory Mother’s Day greeting cards or dutiful Mother’s Day phone calls or orgiastic Mother’s Day brunches.

Those are a secularist outgrowths of what was centuries ago a truly holy-day.

It was called Mothering Sunday. It was the one day each year when the faithful would return to their “mother” church in the village or hamlet in which they were born and raised; where their ears first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached.

Mothering Sunday eventually became an occasion for family reunion; when those who had moved away for work or other reason, who had started families of their own, who had found a place of worship (a “daughter” church) in their adapted village or hamlet, would reconnect with their loved ones.

Mother’s Day here in America is different from Mothering Sunday but shares two things in common: Its Christian origin and its family orientation.

Indeed, the first Mother’s Day celebration in this country was held in 1908 at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. It was organized by Anna Jarvis, a woman of faith, who sought to honor the sacrifice the nation’s mothers made for their children.

Because of the purpose-driven Christian woman’s tireless campaigning, President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday.

Alas, it took only a few short years for Jarvis to become disillusioned with Mother’s Day. That’s because the holiday that began in her West Virginia Methodist church had been hijacked by secularist moneychangers who worshipped at the altar of Mammon.

Jarvis actually undertook a campaign against the holiday she did much to establish, urging Americans to stop buying Mother’s Day cards, flowers and candy. By the time she went to be with the Lord in 1948, she had actually disowned Mother’s Day, going so far as to seek rescission of its designation as a national holiday.

As the nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, it’s time for the Christian faithful to reclaim the holiday as our own.

Let us honor our Christian mothers for bringing us into the world, for taking care of us when we couldn’t take care of ourselves and, most of all, for starting us out in our walk with God.

The Devil Shows Up at Franklin Regional High



Why did Alex Hribal do it? Why did the 16-year-old sophomore at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania stab and slash 20 of his classmates (and a security guard), leaving at least four of his victims in critical condition?

WTAE in Pittsburgh reports that “investigators continue to explore bullying as a possible motive.” NBC News cites criminologists who suggest Hribal was driven “by rage and adrenalin.” The Associated Press reports “[t]he boy’s family is just as puzzled as police about what triggered the attack.”

But there is an obvious explanation of Hribal’s murderous rampage, which has been ignored by the investigators, the criminologists and even the teen-age slasher’s family: He was acting under demonic influence.

Indeed, the Apostle Peter warned that our adversary, the devil, “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” That’s why the Apostle Paul advised Christ followers to “[p]ut on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Secularists dismiss the Word of God as fiction. They are the 30 percent of Americans, according to the Gallup Poll, who don’t believe the devil exists; who refuse to accept that the evil one is behind the violence and mayhem that occurs all too frequently in this country in places like Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

And the devil isn’t interested in devouring a troubled kid here, a troubled kid there. He wants to destroy an entire generation. And his means of doing is to undermine our institutions and corrupt our culture.

Indeed, under the evil one’s influence, secularists have succeeded in getting God banished from the nation’s public schools.

On-campus prayer is forbidden, even to ask the Lord to heal the victims of the latest incident of school violence. The pledge of allegiance is no longer recited in an increasing number of school systems because it includes the words “under God.”

The theory of evolution, which posits that monkeys somehow transmogrified into human beings, is freely taught in the nation’s classrooms, while discussion of intelligent design, is considered subversive.

Public school students still get time off for Christmas and Easter, but schools must not mention the reasons for the seasons – celebration of the birth of Christ the Lord, and commemoration of His death, burial and resurrection.

That’s why the spirit of God has departed from the nation’s schools.

That’s why the Almighty has withdrawn the divine protection the public schools enjoyed from 1635 – when Boston Public Latin School, America’s first public school, was established by Reverend John Cotton – until 1962 – when the U.S. Supreme Court banned school prayer.

The nation’s public schools have been Satan’s playground ever since.

Indeed, was not Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, under the influence of the devil when he molested 23 children, blindfolding them, spoon-feeding them semen, placing cockroaches on their faces?

Were not Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who took the lives of 13 souls at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Adam Lenza, who massacred 27 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and, now, Alex Hribal, whose knife attack last week left 21 injured, doing the evil one’s bidding?

That’s why those of us who are Christ followers should not be deceived by those attributing violence in the public schools to guns or bullying or mental illness or other secular causes.

No, there is spiritual warfare going on in the nation’s public schools. Which is why we must pray, without ceasing, that God will put a hedge of protection around our schoolchildren.

Dog Cult Prays For Pit Bull That Mauled A Child



“Save Mickey.” So pleads the Facebook page lamenting that the pit bull faces “the death penalty” just because he mauled four-year-old Kevin Vicente.

The Phoenix, Arizona boy was hospitalized with a broken eye socket, check bone and lower jaw bone. “He still can’t open his eye,” said Dr. Salvatore Lettieri, chief of cosmetic surgery at Maricopa Medical Center.

“Well need to fix the tear duct drainage system,” said the surgeon. “That is, if he makes tears.”

Meanwhile, there are no tears shed for poor young Kevin on Mickey’s Facebook page, which announces that 50,000 people have signed a petition (on imploring Maricopa County Animal Control to stay the canine martyr’s scheduled execution this upcoming Tuesday.

“Thank God,” read one of the comments on Mickey’s Facebook page, that so many people have registered their objection to what the online petition terms nothing less than a “travesty of justice.”

But the real travesty is the cult that has developed around Mickey, who brutalized a four-year old child. That the dog’s supporters dare to invoke the name of God in their campaign to absolve the animal of its horrific attack upon a defenseless child is a sacrilege.

Indeed, the Mickey cult actually created another Facebook page promoting the “Save Mickey Candlelight Vigil.” Cult members were invited to gather in a plaza “to show our love and support for Mickey.”

Those who couldn’t attend were encouraged to “light a candle,” wherever they happened to be, and “post the picture.” And many did so.

“Mickey, we’re praying for you sweetheart!” proclaimed one of the pit bull’s supporters. “We love you and are thinking of you Mickey,” commented another. “You are in our thoughts and prayers sweet Mickey,” posted still another.

Well, there’s nothing unGodly about having an affinity for animals. That is, unless that affinity is taken to the extreme, as is the case with the Mickey cult, which has elevated the dog to deity status.

Like the Hindus, who worship dogs as part of Kukur tithar, an annual religious festival during which a big red tika is put on a dog’s forehead and a garland around its neck as the faithful pray to dogs to protect their houses.

Like the ancient Mesopotamians, who created a dog cult around Gula, a supposed healing goddess. The dog was considered Gula’s earthly mediums, possessing protective magic and supposedly guarding cult members against certain sicknesses.

The thousands of Mickey supporters, who liked his Facebook pages, who signed his online petition, who attended his candlelight vigil, who are praying on his behalf for divine intervention, are a modern day dog cult.

They care more about the pit bull than they do about the helpless four-year-old boy he would have killed but by the grace of God.

“Having Mickey killed is not going to take away Kevin’s pain or injuries,” said John Schill, the dog’s attorney (that’s right). “The only thing this is going to do is kill a poor, innocent dog.”

Such is the callousness of Mickey’s supporters, who declare the dog “innocent” of his vicious attack on young Kevin. Their cultish adoration of the animal smells to heaven.

Supposed ‘Christian’ Dad Claims Gay Son is No Sinner



Chris has a gay son. He neglected to mention that when I met him at a business event the week before last, when we talked a little politics, when he invited me to join him and his buds for their weekly golf game.

All was amicable on the golf course. As it turned out, two of the guys were fellow conservatives. And two others happened to be members of my church.

But things got twisted when our two foursomes sat down for post-round libations and conversation. That’s because Chris, a social liberal, an Obama-loving Democrat, insisted on talking politics.

And particularly about homosexual “rights.”

He made the pseudo-scientific claim that homosexuality was an “immutable” trait, like race or gender. And the church-going Presbyterian claimed there is no Biblical basis for declaring homosexuality a sin.

So I challenged him on both claims. And my fellow conservatives, my fellow church members backed me.

Having lost the debate he started, my golf host stood up and angrily stalked out of the clubhouse, leaving the other seven of us sitting there. That’s when one of the guys confided to me that Chris has a gay son.

His was the typical reaction by social liberals who have a family member or friend or business associate or even acquaintance who is gay.

The social libs not only delude themselves that homosexuality is perfectly “normal,” not only deceive themselves that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable to God, they also insist that those of us who are social conservatives, who are Bible-believing Christ followers, agree with them.

Otherwise, they slander us as “homophobes.”

But the word of God declares, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Indeed, those of us who oppose homosexuality on Biblical grounds are very much like Lot, who lived in the ancient city of Sodom, who was visited by two angels of the Lord, whose home was surrounded by the men of the city who wanted to have to have their way, sexually, with his visitors.

“Please, my brethren,” Lot pleaded, “do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish.”

Lot’s gay neighbors were offended. “He keeps acting as a judge,” they murmured among themselves.

They deluded themselves that evil was good, that darkness was light. Just like Chris, who hosted me for golf, who insisted his gay son is “normal;” that his son’s sexual preference for men was okay by God.

Well, I’ve never met Chris’ boy. But I think I actually love him more than his dad does. Because I don’t want him to befall the fate of the homosexuals of Sodom, on whom God rained brimstone and fire. They all died in their unrepentant sin and will spend eternity separated from God.

Indeed, even if I accepted the dubious, politically-motivated science that there is a supposed “gay gene,” that homosexuality is a supposed “immutable” human trait, I would continue to believe homosexuality a sin.

And to those attracted to men, like Chris’ son, I would urge them to “crucify the flesh” with its passions and lusts; to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. And I would encourage that they pray that God lead them not into temptation, but deliver them from their desire for “strange flesh.”

Those of us who are social conservatives, who are Christ followers, are not “homophobes.” We do not hate gays.

We speak the truth to them – in love – that homosexuality was and is and always will be a sin. And that the Bible warns that homosexuals shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

We also encourage them that the Lord desires that none would perish, but that all should come to repentance. And that if those who are gay confess their sins – rather than denying that homosexuality in a sin in the eyes of God – He is faithful and just to forgive them and cleanse them of all unrighteousness.

God Shows Up at the Oscars



Over much of its history, the Academy Awards have been the backdrop for some rather off-putting acceptance speeches.

In 2011, for instance, Melissa Leo dropped a so-called “F-bomb” when she accepted the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “The Fighter.”

In 2003, “Bowling for Columbine” was awarded Best Documentary, which provided Michael Moore a platform to rant against duly-elected President George W. Bush. “We live in the time,” he said, “where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president.

And, in 1972, Jane Fonda took the stage after winning “Best Actress” for her performance in “Klute,” telling the audience, “There’s a great deal to say and I’m not going to say it tonight.” Then she proceeded to go backstage, where she declared, “There are murders being committed in our name in Indochina.”

Last night’s 86th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was decidedly different. That’s because the Holy Spirit showed up most unexpectedly.

It began when Darlene Love, a 1960s backup singer, strode to the stage to accept the Oscar for Best Documentary for “20 Feet From Stardom,” the film in which she starred.

Midway through her remarks, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and suddenly gave a powerful, impromptu performance of the gospel hymn, “His Eye on the Sparrow.” When she finished, Bill Murray leapt to his feet – yes, funnyman Bill Murray – and much of the audience followed suit.

It truly was a God moment.

Then there were the remarks by Matthew McConaughey, who’s leading role in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” won him an Oscar statuette for Best Actor. McConaughey didn’t deliver a mere acceptance speech, but powerful, Spirit-filled testimony.

“First off,” he told an audience of an estimated 40 million television viewers, “I want to thank God, because that’s Who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand, nor any other human hand.”

He concluded, “Amen and all right, all right, all right.”

The secularist media didn’t get it. Like Time’s Isaac Guzmán, who posted an article today riffing on “McConaughey’s Confounding Acceptance Speech,” which the writer disparaged as “semi-bizarre.”

Well, of course it was confounding to Guzmán; to others who “didn’t get” McConaughey’s remarks.The Book of Corinthians advises, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”

Meanwhile, to those of us who are Christ followers, it was stirring to witness McConaughey’s testimony last night; to hear him give God the glory for the opportunities, the blessings he has received over his film career.

It proved the Oscar-winning actor is not ashamed of the Gospel.

Would Jesus Approve of SI’s Swimsuit Issue?



The annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue arrives on newsstands Tuesday. It features three semi-nude babes on the cover.

The issue is eagerly awaited by much of SI’s readership. However, let those of us who are Christ followers not deceive ourselves: the magazine’s swimsuit issue is nothing more than softcore pornography.

Indeed, SI’s cover, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its swimsuit issue, actually is more sexualized than the cover of the latest issue of Playboy, which marks the skin magazine’s 60th anniversary, and which features the model Kate Moss in a bunny costume.

What particularly offends about SI is its hypocrisy.

The magazine’s writers and editors pride themselves in being on the right side of controversial social issues that transcend sport. But they have been silent about the sports media’s shameless exploitation of young women for the lustful pleasure of men (and boys).

To wit: SI recently published a fawning cover story about Michael Sam, the former Missouri college football player who came out of the closet as a homosexual, who hopes to become the first openly-gay player in the NFL.

“America is ready for Michael Sam,” SI declared.

Then there’s SI’s campaign to compel the Washington Redskins to change its team name to comport with the magazine’s politically correct sensibilities. In fact, the mag’s NFL writer Peter King decided last football season he would no longer reference the franchise’s team name.

“It has nothing to do with calling anyone racist.” said King. “It’s just I’m uncomfortable using the name.”

Yet, SI’s writers and editors think it perfectly acceptable to pander to its preponderantly male readership with lascivious pictorials of young women that are seminude or fully nude (save for body paint).

MJ Day, the madam of sorts  who edits the mag’s swimsuit issue, even goes so far as to suggest that the cover shot of models Nina Agdal and Lily Aldridge, “clad in orange thong bikini bottoms,” as the New York Daily News described their skimpy attire, and Chrissy Teigen, in a “barely-there pink bikini,” was perfectly wholesome.

As to the models themselves, who’ve sold their souls for fame and fortune, “They’re really good girls,” Day told the Newark Star-Ledger. “They’re the girl next door.”

Well, really good girls do not take their clothes off for the titillation of millions of men. And girls next door don’t strike come hither poses suggesting that they’re inviting a sex acts.

Of course, most of SI’s male readers look forward to this Tuesday’s arrival of the swimsuit issue. They can’t wait to ogle the scantily clad models therein.

But for those us who are Christ followers first, sports fans further down the list (behind family, country, et al.) we are instructed to be not “conformed to this world,” where soft core pornography has been mainstreamed by the popular culture.

No, we will not go to hell by viewing the risqué photos in SI’s swimsuit issue. But we certainly will be conducting ourselves outside of God’s will.

Indeed, in the Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus declared, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

That’s why the men among us who are committed Christ followers will bring every lustful thought into captivity to the obedience of God. And that means avoiding SI’s soft core porn issue.

Two Super Bowl QBs Christians Can Root For



There is a longstanding Super Bowl tradition among Las Vegas bookmakers to offer the gambling public various esoteric betting propositions.

Among Super Bowl XLVIII props for which sports books in Sin City have posted odds is whether announcers mention “marijuana” during the game, whether any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be shirtless during their Super Bowl performance and whether Erin Andrews will interview Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman live after the game.

But there’s a prop for which Vegas bookmakers didn’t bother to post odds – whether there will be any mention whatsoever that the quarterbacks of both the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are unabashed Christians during the practically all-day televised coverage of the Super Bowl.

That’s because even the most gullible gamblers would avoid this sucker bet, no matter how generous the odds.

Because, while it was perfectly acceptable for CBS to allow the mass marriage of homosexual couples of its live telecast of this year’s Grammy Awards, while no one is giving ABC grief for having lesbian activist Ellen Degeneres host this year’s Academy Awards, FOX doesn’t want to risk anti-Christian blowback by letting the more than 100 million viewers of today’s Super Bowl know the role Christ plays in the lives of both Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.

“I committed my life to Christ,” affirmed Manning, in his self-titled book, “and that faith has been most important to me ever since.”

Does the Denver Broncos’ signal caller pray for God’s divine intervention on the gridiron? No, he said, “except as a generic thing. I pray to keep both teams injury free and, personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability.”

As to whether the Almighty has a rooting interest in the Super Bowl or any other NFL tilt, “I don’t think God really cares about who wins football games,” said Manning, “except as winning might influence the character of some person or group.”

Wilson, the Seahawks’ man behind center, recently testified at Seattle’s Mars Hill church that Christ has been with him in bad times and good.

“When we are at the worst times of our lives,” he said, “when we are battling with something, or struggles, whatever it may be…we want somebody to comfort us”

Or, he continued, “when things are going really well, we want somebody to … be there for us and say, ‘Well done.’

That’s Jesus, said Wilson, unashamed of the Gospel. “Jesus has always been there,” he said, “He’ll never leave you, never forsake you.”

Manning and Wilson are espousing a message of faith all too often mocked by the popular culture; scorned by the socially-correct.

Indeed, Christian athletes like Manning and Wilson don’t get invited to the president’s State of the Union address to sit next to the First Lady. That putative honor is reserved for jocks like Jason Collins, the pro basketballer feted last week for coming out as a homosexual.

Neither Manning nor Wilson appear in any way desirous of presidential plaudits.

For these Super Bowl QBs, these Christian athletes, are informed by the Scripture, which declares, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”

Are Catholics Christ’s Chosen People?



My Catholic in-laws get together one Saturday each month to break bread and to pray the rosary. They always invite me and my wife to join them – in hope, I suspect, that my wife will return to the Catholic faith of her youth and that her husband, a lifelong Protestant, will convert.

With the start of the new year, we decided we would attend the family’s very first montly gathering. And I very much enjoyed spending time with my in-laws.

But during the almost hour-long, ritualistic praying of the rosary, I never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, with each “Hail Mary” recited that evening, a nagging question would come to mind.

And were I not wary of offending my in-laws, were I not concerned that I might put them on the defensive about their Catholic faith, I would have asked them, respectfully, the following questions:

Why do Catholics deify the Virgin Mary?

Catholics refer to Mary as, variously, the “Mother of God” and the “Queen of Heaven.”

The Church teaches that Mary was immaculately conceived, without the stain of original sin inherited from Adam and Eve. It also teaches that, at the end of life here on earth, Mary did not die, but was “assumed” – taken up into heaven by God.

Now, the Bible tells us that Jesus was immaculately conceived. It also tells us that Enoch and Elijah never knew death, but were taken up, alive, to heaven. But nowhere does the Bible mention Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Assumption.

The same goes for the Catholic notion that Mary is the “Queen of Heaven.” The Bible never refers to her as such.

The Gospel According to Luke tells us the angel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary, telling her she was blessed among women and that the Lord was with her. But the angel of the Lord never told the handmaiden of God she was anything other than mortal; that she had any kind of otherworldly powers.

Moreover, her Son, Jesus, certainly didn’t suggest that His earthly mother should be exalted, as evidenced by a passage from the Gospel According to Matthew.

As the Lord Christ was addressing a multitude, His disciple, Matthew, recounted, “His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.” When the Lord was informed, He responded, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” Then He stretched His hand toward his disciples and said, pointedly, “Here are My mother and My brothers.”

So, it seems clear, the Lord never intended his followers to worship His earthly mother, Mary, like some sort of goddess.

Would Jesus approve of the rosary?

The Gospel According to Luke tells us that, “it came to pass, as Jesus was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John (the Baptist) also taught his disciples.’”

Jesus taught them what we know today as the “Lord’s Prayer.” He didn’t also teach them to recite the rosary while clutching prayer beads.

Moreover, the ritualistic recital of the rosary seems to this Protestant to be contrary to the Lord’s admonition against rote prayer.

Indeed, in the Gospel According to Matthew, the Lord cautioned his followers that, “when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think they will be heard for their many words.”

Then there’s the matter of praying in the name of Mary – rather than in Jesus’ name – for intercession with God.

That practice owes its origin to the Catholic “tradition” that the rosary was given to St. Dominic de Guzman, a Spanish priest, when the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared to him in 1214.

That was followed, in 1569, by a so-called “papal bull” issued by Pope Pius V, which officially established the Catholic Church’s devotion to the rosary.

Then, in 1883, Pope Leo XIII declared the Virgin Mary’s apparition to St. Dominic six centuries earlier not merely a Catholic “tradition,” but a historically established “fact.”

His Holiness also declared the rosary as the one – and only – road to God for the faithful: First to Mary, then through her to Christ, then through Christ to God.

But neither the declarations of Pope Leo XIII, the papal bull issued by Pope Pius V, or the Catholic “tradition” of St. Dominic comport with the Epistle to the Hebrews, which tells us “we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God,” who intercedes for us with the Father.

There is no Biblical mention of Mary being a great high priestess who intercedes for us with Jesus, who then intercedes for us with God.

Why do Catholics fail to observe the Second Commandment?

No one knows what became of the tablets Moses received on Mt.Sinai. But we know what God inscribed on those tablets – the Ten Commandments – because it is recorded in the Torah, which was written by Moses.

The Second Commandment declares: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness or any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

The early Catholic Church was faithful to the Second Commandment.

In 305, the Synod of Elvira pronounced, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration.” And in 730, Pope Leo III forbade the veneration of religious symbols, declaring it a “craft of idolatry.”

But that all changed in 842, when the Synod of Constantinople restored “icons” to the Catholic Church, going so far as to decree that the repudiation of the Second Commandment should be commemorated each year with a so-called “Feast of Orthodoxy.”

Twelve hundred years later, the worship and adoration of “icons,” the veneration of religious symbols, is endemic to the Catholic Church.

The Catholic faithful bow before statues of Mary; they kiss the feet of statues of Jesus. They cherish their graven images depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe (or Fatima or Lourdes) or the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

No less disturbing to this Protestant are the medals bearing the likenesses of dead “patron saints”  to whom the Catholic faithful pray for heavenly intercession. That includes the well-known St. Jude, supposed patron of hopeless causes, and St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers.

It also includes the not-so-well-known St. Martin de Porres, patron of hairdressers, St. Fiacre, patron of cab drivers, St. Bernardine of Siena, patron of gamblers, and St. Nicholas, patron of pawnbrokers.

And even Catholics are embarrassed about St. Guinefort, a greyhound “venerated” by French Catholics during the thirteenth century, which was a supposed protector of infants. The cult of the so-called “dog saint” reportedly lasted all the way up until the 1930s.

Has the Vatican succumbed to the influence of the evil one?

In the Gospel According to Matthew, Christ warned his followers to beware of deceivers, who appear pious, but are spiritually corrupt.

“You will know them by their fruits,” He advised. “Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”

So what does that say about the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which has been beset by scandal?

Father Gabriele Amorth, who has been the Holy See’s chief exorcist (that’s right) for the past three decades, has gone so far as to declare, “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences.”

The influence of the evil one at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy, he told the Telegraph newspaper, is evident by the legion of “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon.”

Father Gabriele also attributed the epidemic “violence and pedophilia” committed by Catholic priests to the work of the Devil.

Pope Francis actually addressed himself this month to the Catholic priest scandal. “Are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?” he asked.

The pontiff suggested that the Catholic Church, itself, bears no blame; that the stain resides with the individual priests guilty of molesting children, who, he explained, “did not have a relationship with God.”

Meanwhile, in the same week in which Pope Francis delivered his homily, disassociating himself with “corrupt priests,” he inexplicably granted a private audience to Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired Los Angeles prelate, who covered up hundreds of sex crimes committed by clerics in his diocese. Mahony actualy boasted about it on his blog.

Those corrupt priests, and the cardinal who concealed their crimes, are bad fruit. And the tree that bore them, every one, is the Catholic Church.

Do Catholics consider Protestants their brothers and sisters in Christ?

I understand there is still vestigial resentment of Martin Luther within the Catholic Church, nearly 500 years after the Augustinian friar nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany, setting in motion the Protestant Reformation.

Today, the official view of the Vatican, which was affirmed in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, is that the 800 million of us worldwide that are Protestants do not belong to true “churches,” but to inferior “ecclesiastical communities.”

Some Catholic “traditionalists” are even blunter, like Marian Horvat, a columnist for the Daily Catholic.

“Every time I hear the term Christian used for Protestants, I cringe,” she wrote. “Its usage clearly nourishes a trend toward a dangerous religious indifferentism, which denies the duty of man to worship God by believing and practicing the one true Catholic Religion.”

When I reflect upon Pope Benedict’s pronouncement, when I consider the dogmatism of Catholic traditionalists like Horvat (and like my in-laws, I’m afraid), I’m reminded of the incident at Antioch, which is recounted in the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians.

“When Peter came to Antioch,” Paul wrote, “I opposed him to his face, because he was to be blamed.”

That’s because, “before certain men came from James,” leader of the nascent Christian church in Jerusalem, Peter “would eat with the Gentiles.”

But when the Jerusalem delegation arrived in Antioch, “Peter withdrew and separated himself,” fearing condemnation from the Jerusalem Church for associating with Gentile Christians, who did not observe Jewish law, nor follow Jewish tradition.

Is not the Catholic Church today like the Jerusalem church of two thousand years ago, looking askance upon non-Catholic Christians that do not observe its dictates, nor follow its traditions?

The Holy See should be reminded of the Council of Jerusalem, which is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.

Tacitly conceding his hypocrisy in the incident at Antioch, Peter rose up and addressed the gathering of apostles and elders on the matter of whether Gentiles had to convert to Judaism as a condition of becoming Christians.

“God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them (Gentiles),” said Peter, “by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

And so it is that God has acknowledged those of us who are Protestants by giving us the Holy Spirit and purifying our hearts by faith. In so doing, He confirmed that we are members of the Body of Christ and full heirs to the Kingdom.

The Christmas Carol For the Christian Right



Exactly 150 years ago this Christmas Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells.” It would later provide the lyrics for  the familiar carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Most of those who love the song – which has been recorded by arists ranging from Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Kate Smith to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Ann Margaret – know little about its backstory.

Indeed, the lyrics actually were written by Longfellow during a time of despair.

The poet had learned that his first-born son, Charles, a lieutenant in the Union Army during the Civil War, was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Paulding County, Georgia.

That heartbreaking news arrived while Longfellow was still grieving the loss of his beloved wife, Fanny, who died from burns she sustained in a fire in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home.

Longfellow’s melancholia over his family tragedies and his sorrow over the deaths of so many of America’s sons during the Civil War came across in the penultimate stanza of “Christmas Bells”:

And in despair I bowed my head;/“There is no peace on earth,” I said;/“For hate is strong,/And mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

But Longfellow does not leave it there. The poet appears to have suddenly been filled with the Holy Spirit. For in his final stanza he proclaims:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:/“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;/The wrong shall fail,/The Right prevail,/With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This has been for those of us who are Christ followers a most trying year. Our traditional, Bible-based values have been under assault on many fronts.

The atheists mock our faith this Christmas with 52 billboards in the state capital of California that tell us our God is a fairy tale. A cable channel bows to pressure from a homosexual activist group and suspends the God-fearing star of its most-popular series for daring to speak the truth. And the supposed leader of the free world says nothing as Christians are persecuted throughout the Muslim world.

But as Longfellow wrote 150 years ago today, God is not dead. Nor is He asleep. The unGodly element in this country ultimately will fail. And the Right will prevail, by God.

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