Saturday, July 1, 2017

Failing For Christ by Teresa Beem





Hollywood teaches Americans that we can do anything! From a child, we are indoctrinated into this romantic optimism that if we try hard enough, wish hard enough, stick with it, that in the end.... everything will turn out fine. The American spirit--so fiercely independent that it pulls itself up with its own bootstraps--takes risks, pursues its wildest dreams. Then, the United States god of liberty will look down upon such hardy, strivings souls and grant success. (And for the god of capitalism, usually the success is monetary.)


 Click here if you cannot view video.

I can assure you, I grew up with a double dose of this idea, for the video above was about my grandfather's company, Ling-Tempo-Vought. If there ever was a stunning rags to riches story, it was James Ling's. A Dallas orphan from a family of seven children, my grandfather ran away from his foster parent's home and lived on the streets, washing dishes and vowing that one day he would be so rich that he would buy his brothers and sisters mansions on the same street.

So the American promise was right at my fingertips every morning when I arose in my 10,000 square foot mansion and each time I was introduced as "Jim Ling's granddaughter."




And I took it in and watched life carefully. Even as a small child, I realized that money couldn't buy happiness. My grandfather's financial success left in its wake a trail of tears. Therefore, I vowed to God that I was going to be a spiritual success, just as my grandfather was a business success. I was going to heroically right all the wrongs and help the world to never cry again. And of course, I assumed God would be right there helping me because I was so sincere and loved Jesus so much.

As I grew, I found little successes. I remember seeing a dog on the beach tormenting a seagull with a broken wing. Adults were everywhere around me, but no one was getting off their beach towels to go stop the dog. So, I went over to the dog, shooed it away and stood guard. But I didn't know what to do about the broken-winged bird. After a few minutes, some adults came over and helped me. AHA! I thought, people are just waiting around for the one person to begin--to spearhead the movement and then they will join. (I would sing the song: Stouthearted men and believed it.)

That moment set me up for the feelings of abandonment and failure the rest of my life, because what people will rise and do for a broken-winged bird, they will not do for a broken human.

No matter how heroically I have poured out my heart and soul and energy for implementing change to help wounded souls, I have always failed. Oh, there was that one time I held a fair in my front yard for Muscular Dystrophy and earned a few dollars to give to Jerry's Kids. And as student president of my Seventh-day Adventist elementary school, I successfully fought to keep us from having to wear uniforms (ironically, I argued that was too Catholic!)

But when it really mattered, I was an utter failure. By fifth grade my friends were taking drugs and that scared me to death. I was going to rescue them, so I cried "help!" to teachers, principals, pastors, parents and was patted on the head and told I was making too big a deal of it. Then by seventh grade, my friends began introducing sexual promiscuity into their repertoire of evil and again, I told everyone and no one seemed to care. These kids were broken and the wolves were coming after them and the adults seems too cowardly to arise to save even their own children. 

In my teenage years, friends repeatedly told me of their sexual abuse by family members, teachers and clergy. When I spoke up, I was shut down. I told myself that I would be listened to when I grew up, the problem was no one paid any attention to a frail, petite girl--who was labelled a drama queen. 

Therefore, as an adult, I started the first pro-life organization in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  I poured every extra penny, every waking hour, every ounce of love and energy into saving the unborn. And while most Adventists secretly told me they supported our ministry, they couldn't openly support it--it was too controversial. After twenty years, my energy and money petered out, for only a handful of Adventists cared enough to help. Failure. And not just any kind of failure, failure to save human life. That was crushing.

Other failures followed: In the Keene SDA church I started a prayer warrior ministry and Sabbath after Sabbath I knelt in a prayer room either alone or with a couple people to pray. Every week, the bulletin pleaded for people to come in and pray and each week.... no one. After years of this, I stopped. I have begun several ministries to Seventh-day Adventists and Catholics with little to no success.

I wrote a book "It's Okay NOT to be a Seventh-day Adventist" and I lost a tremendous amount of money on it. With three children, I went back to school to get a music degree so I could have a career in singing. I was hit by a drunk driver and dislocated my jaw, ending my dreams. I will not add to the list but it seemed to me that at every step forward, God sent me three steps back. What was wrong with me that God was always thwarting my success? 

Then, finally, I realized something...


God never called us to success. I had been sucked into this idea that success was making money, making a name for yourself, getting degrees, having some type of respect from other people in one's field. That is human success and that is not what God calls us to. Talk about bursting one's bubble. Fame and fortune aren't God's purpose for us.

It took years and years of sobbing in hot showers, despairing in my prayers, seeing myself as an utter failure for this spiritual awakening to sink in because it is so counterintuitive. Look at all the good Billy Graham could do with money and fame? Look at Joel Osteen! I had grown up hearing all about the philanthropic deeds of my grandfather--he gave millions upon millions to charities. It certainly seems like worldly fame and fortune are from God in these instances!

Then, I would read the Book of Job and it would remind me time and time again that the good guys are the devil's target and in this world the bad guy does seem to win.

Yet the Bible and what I saw daily clashed. Hollywood makes us feel as if we are not the good guys if we don't "win" in the end. We did something wrong, God didn't bless us, if we don't achieve a certain degree of worldly success. And many a man and woman have gone to their deaths despairing that their lives were in vain because they could not see any success.

And that is absolutely a lie from the deepest pits of hell. Worldly success is not God's success. Repeat that saying over and over in your head if you have experienced any of the great disappointments I have.

What God calls us to is not worldly success for there are limited spots for human fame and fortune and very few achieve it or should achieve it. God calls us to holiness and in the eternal spiritual economy, each and every one of us can be a saint. Spiritual success is absolutely doable for every single person who asks it of God. Ask and you will receive. That is a promise for every soul.

Fling away this empty promise of pursuing your worldly dreams. Pray that God will drain your mind and soul of this pernicious and poisonous idea that Christians are supposed to be "successful" with money, fame or position. We are not called to a life given over to impressing others, we are to live to impress God and we can do that with obedience to Him.

I make you a promise, a vow, that if you empty your heart of this demonic, narcissistic hope that if you try hard enough, you will gain the American dream of financial success. Rather, focus your life on being a holy saint, if you dedicate your life to God and put His kingdom first, you will experience a joy that will surprise you. All of a sudden, what you thought was success will grow so distant and insignificant in the light of His glorious grace.

Each time you kneel before a mighty and loving God, your life rises above this earth and you enter into timelessness. Each time you sacrifice your wants and desires for God's will and pour out yourself as an offering for others, you experience a realm far, far above the temporal pleasures that worldly success brings. God's success has  heaven's attention. For remember, your life is on stage and eternity is watching.

The love you give that goes unnoticed by humans, is cheered by the billions watching unseen. The glory each human heart desires is God's glory. The crown given by Hollywood, the New York Times, the American Idol, the World Cup, the World Series, Business Week and the rest is a crown that will bring you no lasting happiness. These crowns turn to ashes for someone will take them away in the next moment or months or year.

Strive for an eternal crown that will bring you into eternal glory, a success that can never be taken away and one that never carries with it envy, or dissatisfaction or that perpetual demands you be smart or strong to keep others from knocking you off the top.

My grandfather lost all his money (millions upon millions). The end of his story was, by human reckoning, very bitter and many would call his life a failure. That's the way of human success. Don't try it... it's not worth it. Rather joyfully fail for Christ.

Failing for Christ often means living for Christ where your good deeds are not seen by men. However, they are seen.





Sunday, June 25, 2017

Walking Through Holy Fire by Teresa Beem


Why does God allow suffering? The cry burst forth from every heart who has known or seen great tragedy. Suffering is all around us, behind the most courageous smiles, the jokesters, as well as the quiet, the judgmental, the irritable. Even pondering the question of suffering can cause pain for it questions the very goodness of God. Why God, why all the death and appalling hatred and destruction, the agonies of the innocent cross human time?

As Christians we often hear the answer to this question as: "sin."

Sin desires hopeless, despairing suffering. The force some call Satan, desires the utter destruction of God's creation. This mad ceaseless, tireless, merciless force will never sleep until there is not one breath of life, one grain of sand, one distant star left in the universe and all is obliterated.

Jesus warns us against following this force of sin, for it is the very cause of the suffering we see. But Christ gave us an answer to how Christians can combat this force while we await His ultimate eradication of it.

Jesus did not tell us to fight suffering with fun, nor to defiantly stand and face down suffering. Jesus said, we fight sin by taking up our cross daily and following Him.

Christianity, rightly understood and lived through the power of Christ, does not seek to avoid the suffering, at least through means that will not draw us into holiness. But Christians seek to redeem this curse of suffering through transforming it. We wrest the power from the devil to hurt us and twist it upwards, giving it to Christ. We take what is meant to harm and use it to make us holy.

When we willingly take up our cross and follow Jesus, we understand where this is going. It is going to our own crucifixion, where we will transform the hate of the kingdom of Satan and turn our sorrows into joy. Through willingly bearing our cross, given us by Christ, Satan's power to harm us and rend us useless with pain and confusion, is forever broken. Christ gives us the power, not to ceaselessly avoid injustices and submerge ourselves in distractions as to not face life, but as King David 23 Psalms, to courageously walk through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil, because "Thou are with me."

Christ warned us that his followers' persecution and tragedy will not be lessened but indeed, they will become a target by the dark principalities for greater attacks. Our defense is not to fear these moments, but conquer the power of Satan by holding our arms out in fearless acceptance as Christ did on the cross. We will break the power of the dark forces by our faith that God will not just sustain us during these but with absolute trust in God, He will give us joy!

Imagine the miracle that we can face sufferings with joy. There is nothing the Devil fears more from us than that we will have the courage to walk through fire for Christ. The power of sin that controls us with fear and tragedy would be eliminated. And that fire, meant to destroy us, will turn into a consuming fire of holiness that gives us a freedom that we can never experience when we are enslaved to sin.

God's kingdom turns this world of sin upside down! Think of a life of peace and joy, without fear, not because we perfected the art of ignoring and numbing ourselves with alcohol, drugs, entertainment, or hedonism but because Christ gives us a transcendent life that glimpses eternity!

That is what Christianity is: a glimpse into the divine life of God. And it is worth walking through His Holy fire.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May and the Bombing at Manchester Arena


After the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert inside the Manchester Arena, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, stood before the world and reported that a bomb was detonated at the "conclusion of a pop concert which was attended by many young families and groups of children.... deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

Please take a moment to think about the Prime Minister's words. This was supposed to be a family night—with innocent children. At a family concert staring Ariana Grande.


Sky News was interviewing several of the parents who heard or witnessed the bomb. 

The arena was "full of beautiful, young girls and boys and families. It was just tragic to think that such a great family evening has now ended in such horror."

One visibly shaken man explained that both his daughters, 12 and 10 years old were there.

Another couple who attended with their daughter said, "I feel sorry for the young children. How can you target seven, six-year-old children at a kids concert?" The father remarked that this "should have been the best day of her life."  

The best day? Not the day she is married. Not the day she has children or gets to see grandma. A pop concert.. a pop concert should have been the best day of her life?

That same father ended with, "no nine-year-old should see anything like that."

What? What should no child see? Death and carnage? Well, what people are not saying is what other thing children should not see.


Ariana Grande. Yep. That is a picture of her.

This was a concert primarily for young girls, the Prime Minister Theresa May stressed, and she spoke of girls who had received these prized concert tickets as a Christmas gift and had been eagerly anticipating this evening for months. Young innocent girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 18.

Here is one of her recent music videos:

Ariana Grande concert for little girls included explicitly vulgar lyrics to her song, Side by Side:
This new style with the fresh type of flow Wrist icicle, ride dick bicycle Come true yo, get you this type of blow All these bitches, flows is my mini-me Body smoking, so they call me young Nicki Chimney Rappers in they feelings 'cause they feelin' me Uh, I-I give zero f*#ks and I got zero chill in me Kissing me, copped the blue box that says Tiffany Curry with the shot, just tell them to call me Stephanie Gun pop and I make my gum pop I'm the queen of rap, young Ariana run pop 
and Touch It:
Cause every time I see you, I don't wanna behave I'm tired of being patient, so let's pick up the pace Take me all the way Aint' nobody gonna touch it, touch it, touch it     
Now let's return to the Prime Minister's words about the terrorist, "deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

And parents gave their little girls Christmas gifts of tickets to this vile concert.

Later I heard an interview dealing with why the terrorist hate us so much. "Do they hate our freedom?" was the question. It was interesting to hear a British commentator being honest enough to admit that some of the terrorists' problem with the West is their hatred of our freedom for women to dress like whores and act worse than prostitutes. Many radicalized Muslims despise our western values that Ariana Grande epitomizes--a radically immoral, "liberated" young woman.

I can't help but feel, as a Catholic, I am in a confusing and ghoulish nightmare where there are no longer any good guys. 

As in the days of Noah... 
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that their every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5









Saturday, May 13, 2017

NEW BOOK!! MISSION VATICAN



Hi everyone! 
After ten years of research and writing, six months of it in Europe, finally it's out. 
I have just published the first book of my mission trilogy, MISSION VATICAN! (at Amazon.com)

Mission Vatican


It is a must-read for anyone who likes intrigue, danger, history, theology, philosophy with a dash of romance that will continue in the next two books. Please take a moment to watch the book trailers and then get the book. It is also available on Kindle! 

Feel free to share the book trailers:








FOR A LIGHTER SIDE:





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MARRIAGE

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MARRIAGE

By Arthur and Teresa Beem



We have a large family by today's standards. With our own children, plus many nephews and nieces that have recently married and more who will become married in the next few years, I thought I would hand off some advice to them and their potential spouses. After all, my husband, Arthur and I began dating in 1979 and married in 1984 and so we have learned some things about how to be happily married.

WHAT IS MARRIAGE?

As crazy as it may seem to ask that question; in today's world, it is time to go back to the basics and review what marriage actually is and what God established it for. Marriage isn't just nature working itself out. It is so much more. In fact, God told us that marriage is a profound and great mystery. God infused marriage and the family with deep symbolism that foreshadow and prophesy of who God is. The triune man, woman and child express the relationship between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Marriage reflects the Trinity. God wanted us to learn of Him through His crowning creation of the family.

But the layers of meaning in marriage go much deeper. Marriage is a symbol of Christ and His Church. The man represents God and the woman represents His Church. Just as Christ and His Church are one flesh, the church being His Body on earth, so a man is to be one flesh with his wife. She is his body. Whole books have been written on just this very topic and the mystery of marriage is profound.

Marriage is a sacrament. That is, God instituted marriage in order to help man grow in perfection. When two Christians are joined together by God in Holy Matrimony, there is special grace given to them; marriage infuses divine graces that actually propel those people into righteousness. The selfless, sacrificial demands of marriage take us out of our narcissistic self-centeredness and through love we are to give ourselves fully to another person. Holy Matrimony is God's gift to His people draw us into and lead us to the perfection. And each spouse's first duty is to see that, through loving sacrifice and daily encouragement, their spouse makes it to heaven. That is one of the purposes of this eternal, monogamous institution. Marriage is supposed to be a saint-maker. But that vital truth has been lost in our culture of pursuing personal happiness.

Man is told to make a kingdom on earth to reflect the Kingdom of Heaven.
Into marriage, this amazing reflection of God's unity and love, something miraculous happens. Within the marital embrace, we become most like Him. From this holy union, immortal life springs! If we have the wealth to build civilizations; if we build monuments that will stand for thousands of years to honor us, there is nothing a human can achieve on earth that comes close to the divine miracle of creating a human not only in our own likeness, but in the likeness of God! Our Christian children—those precious souls who will never die, who are destined to rule heaven as kings and queens—that God privileges us to be born from our own bodies, are brought into the world through the little trinity. Life! The ultimate joy and design of marriage shows us in a very real sense who God is and His love for us.

Satan's final attack on humans will be to utterly destroy the family—man, woman and child—for it most represents the Trinity in heaven.

Create your Kingdom and bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE

Statistically, almost everyone gets married, so everyone needs to be preparing for this way before they are old enough to date. Historically, all known cultures and civilizations used to prepare their children for marriage and families, but today we just assume it happens naturally. Tragically, parents focus their time and resources on preparing our children to make money instead of preparing them for something vastly more important.  

No matter how wild and irresponsible you were before marriage, parents need to step up and start expecting more from their own children. No need to just assume that your child's behavior will inevitably be like yours. You are to have the courage, as parents, to be the giant shoulders your children will stand on. Don't curse your children by saying nothing and assuming they will make the same mistakes you did. Teach your children to be faithful to the spouse they will eventually meet. Explain to them that one day they will stand before someone they love with all their hearts. They will at one point find someone they will make the vow to be faithful to "until death do us part." There is no joy on earth that equals giving yourself to your spouse fully, without regret of having slept with anyone else. The greatest gift you could ever give your husband or wife is to have been faithful to them sexually before you ever met them. In our Sodom and Gomorrah culture of lasciviousness and wanton self-gratification, we do not see the vital need of keeping oneself for one's spouse. Mainly because many, if not most, of us were not sexually pure when we got married.


If you are young, I urge you to pray and think about this important topic carefully. Be courageous. Be a hero to the one you will one day love.

NOTE FOR DISILLUSIONED NEWLY WEDS

One last note before we begin the Ten Commandments of marriage. I have often heard people make the grievous statement, "I think I married the wrong person." If you both are Christians, that is utterly impossible. God would never join in a holy commitment of marriage two people who He would not give the grace to be the perfect mate. Never even allow that thought to come into your head. You did not marry the wrong person. You have come up to a situation in which marriage has greatly wounded you or you feel betrayed or disillusioned. Grab your beloved and pray. Rededicate your hearts and souls and minds to God and start anew, no matter how painful or hopeless the situation. Do not despair. God has given us marriage to heal our wounded and sinful souls. Now is the time to grasp God's promise that nothing is impossible for Him. Time for the battle of prayer to release yourself and your spouse from the grip of sin.



TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MARRIAGE

10) THOU SHALT SLOW DOWN AND THINK

The bad news: marriage doesn't happen naturally and is hard work. The good news: the hard work can be fun and rewarding like climbing a mountain or getting to the Olympics or writing a novel or going on vacation. It is so worth the time, effort and sacrifice.


Take time everyday to think—not just about your marriage—about important things. Think about how to be a better person, how to be a better Christian, how your home can work better and how to be a better spouse.

Caution: Often in this step of thinking, newly-married people focus on how their spouse can change to make their lives happier. As you mature in Christ, you will focus less on how others can make you happy and begin to realize that you will only find lasting joy through giving joy to your spouse. Jimmy Durante had a song that helped remind me of this, "Make Someone Happy."
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_AQMaqDLtg)

Also, when you sit down to think, try and discover how your husband or wife sees a situation. Try to see things through their perspective. And ask God to give you wisdom so that you can see better how to make your marriage glorify Him and be a blessing not only to the two of you and your children, but be a witness to the world of the relationship of Christ and His Church.

We live in a world that is glutted with entertainment and noise. Take time daily to find a quiet spot to think. It will make your marriage better.

9) THOU SHALT KEEP THE FESTIVALS

Just as the church has liturgical seasons, such as Easter, where we are commanded by God to rejoice and celebrate, marriage needs these too! Find out what you both enjoy doing and do it often. It doesn't have to be expensive: cook together, watch sports, read to each other, walk or ride bikes, dance, sing.

It is normal for couples go to counseling and make time to deal with their problems, but they often forget that couples need to nurture the greatness of marriage. Life can be stressful—with student debts, misunderstandings, car troubles, taxes, health issue (we become enslaved by our culture of money). So, having marriage holy days is vital. Keep them even when you are furious with each other. Make a commitment that during this timeframe, there will be no fights, no criticisms. It is the "safe-space" for your marriage and the rule is that you must set aside everything to just enjoy that person during this time. And, it is best to end the night with a more intimate romance. That will inspire most husbands to keep the date!

Everyone's marriage is in need of holy days (holidays) just like your career. Create marriage festivals and celebrations. A time to enjoy each other.

8) THOU SHALT NOT QUIT

Erase the word "divorce" from your vocabulary. It is one of the most dangerous words spoken by humankind. It is marital blasphemy.  There is no end to the ills and ruination of our society when we, as Christians, believe that it is the right thing to do to divorce. (Don't let your marriage get to the point that there is so much abuse you think divorce is the only way out. Do something to prevent it. Separation. Jail time if it is that bad.) Remember as a Catholic, if God fused you as one flesh in a valid, sacramental marriage—only He can rend you asunder and believe me, He won't. He will heal your marriage, never tell you to divorce.

God made marriage. He created marriage to work. And women: know this—though both of you must be fully committed to marriage, men are designed for commitment. It deteriorates the souls and fabric of men to be only kind-of committed. They must fully commit. There is no such thing as a partial launching of an attack in war. Men should be launching their hearts and commit 100% to marriage and if not your marriage will be totally overrun.

Thou shalt not quit listening. Listening is a grace and a habit that one must develop. Listen to your spouse with patience and gentleness. This is especially difficult for some men because they are made to fix a problem. So it is a sacrifice for them to slow down and use their listening skill not just to improve their careers, but their marriage. 

Men need to realize women are brilliant but they think differently. Don't pander. 

Women need to spend more time listening and less time thinking about how they are going to respond to their husbands. Listening is done quietly, without interruption.

The Hard Stuff About Not Quitting: Marriage is going to hurt and sometimes hurt very badly for many years. Prepare yourself for that. You will survive it and be rewarded. However, your sufferings to stay married can be lifted up to God and miracles can occur. Do not pray for God to permanently separate you (for at times and for a short season, in serious cases you may have to separate); rather, pray for a miracle of healing. For to make gemstones, rough rocks are placed in a tumbler and they bang against each other to bring out each other's beauty. Marriage is a saint-maker, thats its point. There is no trouble, no situation, nothing beyond God's healing power.

7) THOU SHALT MAKE YOUR HOME A LITTLE HEAVEN

T
he world is a rough place. A place where you might be mocked, teased, put down, cursed, laughed at, fired, misunderstood and abandoned. Home should be a place where you do not need to keep up your emotional defenses. Home should not be a place of war or even a hostile peace.

Make your own home a place where your spouse loves to go most. It is his or her favorite place of peace and encouragement. We often make the grave mistake of giving our best to our friends and co-workers. Do not give your best to others. Give your best at home. Speak words that uplift and not tear down. Be careful with demeaning teasing, snarkiness and sarcasm. Sarcasm often is a way of spitting out pent up rage. It may seem cute and fun for a season, but eventually it will begin to wear away at your joy. Rather than allow rage to develop, talk it out rather than allow it to boil over in sarcasm. Sometimes sarcasm doesn't have any hidden anger, but is just a person showing off how clever they are. Even that can get old after a while in a marriage.

Never, ever, ever publicly humiliate your spouse.

Don't be irritable. Decide that you won't let little things irritate you. Learn to not take yourself seriously and laugh.

Cultivate a treasure of words that uplift each other. Let your home be full of Godly encouragement. The world will oppress us. Let home be a place of warmth and grace. It is hard to develop these habits but it is much worse if you don't. It takes commitment and discipline. And to live like this is possible, but only if you stay connected to the One who gives these graces freely.

6) THOU SHALT ALLOW THY SPOUSE TO BECOME A SAINT

Often inside a marriage we take on roles. He is the immature one. She is the nag. I have seen many people take on the victim role, the martyrdom role, the self-righteous one, the stubborn one; there are many of these we fall into out of habit. It is very difficult to break out of a role and your spouse should help and not hinder that.


No matter how bad you were yesterday, that does not mean you cannot be a saint today. The whole point of the sacrament of marriage is that each day married people walk together they are to be more heroic.

Do not force your spouse into a role you imagine. Sometimes women and men want to make their spouse out in the image they have in their head. God's image of who each of us should be far, far exceeds what we think we want.

Allow men to be men and women to be women. The differences are supposed to work together.

5) THOU SHALT KEEP THE MARRIAGE BED UNDEFILED

The marriage bed is holy. This means more than being faithful and not committing adultery. In our desperately wicked culture (i.e. Fifty Shades of Gray) even married people are encouraged to do sinful things, promising intense sexual gratification. Never do anything, watch anything, that you or your spouse will regret. Always remember that God created the pleasures of sex. Do not demean it with porn. Do not demean it with sin. Stay faithful, stay trustworthy. Never do anything together that you would be ashamed (not embarrassed, but ashamed) to go public or for your children to find out. NO PORN period. Period. No matter what.

(Note: Women put away your romance movies, novels and soap operas, they will make you unhappy with real life and with your real husband. They can become women's porn! To be happy with your husband—quit filling your brain with these novelists' impossible expectations.)

4) THOU SHALT COMMUNICATE

First and foremost, no secrets in marriage. (Surprises for birthdays, anniversaries etc, of course, I am not speaking of.) In fact, in the Catholic Church, if you enter marriage with serious secrets, you invalidate your marriage. Secrets are the home of sin; they often lead to lies (and worse) and will destroy trust between you. If men or women wish to be respected, wish to be a person of character, do not keep secrets from your spouse. In fact, I tell my family and friends that I cannot hear secrets (within reason, of course) that I cannot tell my husband. If a family member tells me something trivial that would embarrass them if my husband knew and it doesn't in anyway concern my husband, then that is different. But if my husband would want to know or should know? Then I can't keep it from him.

Communication is a learned skill and takes enormous practice. People, especially genders, communicate differently. Sometimes the same conversation must be said over and over for full understanding as you grow and mature in life and your marriage. Do not get discouraged if it takes many times to explain something.

After twenty years—twenty years of frustrating miscommunications, my husband and I decided to start defining our words. Everybody gets in our heads that words are defined in the same way for others as they are for us. Not true. Some words may even mean the same thing but have emotional contexts attached.

For instance, my mother would always say "please" when she was at the end of her rope! (She had six kids—so I don't blame her.) So I grew up with an emotional attachment of  irritated exasperation attached to the word. Others think I am being rude by refraining to use "please" even if I am generous with my "thank yous." I am not being impolite, I simply didn't want anyone to think I am upset with them. 

Marriage should be a safe space where you can be less than perfect with your spouse. You should be able to feel your spouse loves you and will not judge you harshly as you walk together towards sanctification. No one should be abandoned or shunned because they are less than perfect. Two Christians who are sold out in being obedient to God should know that marriage is the place to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Some people do not communicate because they don't want anyone to know how dumb or selfish they are. In fact some do not want to reveal that they are stubbornly clinging to a beloved sin. (By the way, that's why God set up confession!) However, it will actually help you overcome your temptations, your worries, your weaknesses if you discuss them with your spouse. Often just speaking your worries and temptations will help you see these things have less power than you gave them.


Ask many questions and as you grow old together, you will begin to know the right questions to ask so you will know the very soul of your spouse. 

3) THOU SHALT SACRIFICE

This is the one of the toughest ones. And it can only be done with much prayer and pain. (Wince. Sorry!) However, this is where Christian talk hits the road of realville. Take a deep breath and swallow hard and sacrifice your wants, your needs, your plans and even your most precious rights for your spouse. Don't expect sacrifice to be equal. Don't assume you know that your spouse is not doing his share of sacrificing, because one day you may awaken and find your spouse has been enormously patient and sacrificial for you and you didn't even notice. It takes a lot of maturity to see what others are doing for us. We all have an enormous blind spot that and with the help of our spouse, those blind spots will slowly diminish. And believe me, you will be humbled—sometimes humiliatingly, embarrassedly humbled as your blind spot shrinks.

However, there may be times you will be the only one sacrificing. And that's okay. Imagine yourself to be Sponge Bob and absorb the inequalities you are experiencing. Sometimes deep wounds in your spouse can cause them to behave selfishly out of self-preservation and with prayer and self-sacrificially absorbing the hits, you will show them the love they never felt they deserved.

This part will take wisdom: Never sacrifice for spouse or children to enable them to behave badly. Spouses and children should not be spoiled or encouraged to be self-centered by your suffering and sacrificing for them. You do not martyr yourself so that your spouse can buy a car you can't afford, or watch a television show that is full of moral filth. Sacrifice should always bring out the best in others. And it will be required of everyone who is married at sometime. My advice, be the first to sacrifice, because if you both learn this early—it will save you enormous pain in learning to do it later. 

Remember, Christ did not show the universe love by giving humans and example of buying everyone a car and cellphone. He didn't come to show us love through taking the whole world to Disney World. He showed the highest love when He was hanging on the Cross. Love takes up the Beloved's sufferings, not that they may continue to do wrong, but that they may do what is right.

2) THOU SHALT FORGIVE

Yes, as we near the top of the list of the marriage commandments, they become more serious and difficult. But I can assure you, that a marriage is worth it. It is worth all the sorrow and sacrifice and battles and drama. And the more you are genuinely following the rules, the less pain and drama there will be—guaranteed!

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do when your spouse had destroyed your trust. And your spouse may not deserve forgiveness. But forgive him or her anyway. It is the first step in healing the wounds for yourself and your marriage. Forgiveness is never carte blanche for someone to continue to wrong you or themselves.

Forgiveness is not a point in time, it is a process. If your spouse had abused you, betrayed you, lied to you, ruined your credit—something of great evil—you enter a cycle of forgiveness in your heart and mind that will take re-forgiving them over and over. Forgive, because you don't want to become bitter and full of rage. You will no longer enjoy life and pleasure will cease if you don't forgive. Your marriage will seem like a bit of heaven when the healing of forgiveness really happens.

And don't for one moment think that when you sin against your spouse that forgiveness is easy, nor cheap. Don't ever put your marriage in that dangerous position of needing such serious forgiveness. Wake up, grow up, don't do stupid things. Don't act selfishly. Both of you should learn to live so you don't have to forgive!

1) THOU SHALT PUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD FIRST

I bet you all knew I would write that as number one for a happy, healthy marriage. Well, it is true. For all the ten through two commandments cannot be done successfully if God isn't right there giving you the grace to think, persevere, sacrifice, etc.

Every single day, make it a habit to have devotions together—go to mass if possible, read the Bible and pray. Individually, have them too if you wish, but never neglect family devotions. Even scientific, sociological studies have proven that miraculously! families that pray together, stay together! (Hmmm, wonder why?)

It is so easy to let this slide, but every time you let is slide, restart it!

God gives us a promise: put the kingdom of God first and all other things will be added unto it. God first. Before entertainment, before sports, before job, before relaxation, before everything and anything…. before even spouse and children, for He is the source of love and energy and life that will make the family work. Nothing will work without His grace.

And if you feel overwhelmed by this list, that's normal. The list is impossible, absolutely impossible and that is not a joke or hyperbole. For us, it is impossible, but with God… all things are possible. And I can assure with with all my heart and soul, with all my love and assurance that a good marriage is worth all of it. A good marriage is the beginning of eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Victimhood and the Christian Worldview by Teresa Beem



We are in a time when the most obvious observation is despised because it goes against this idea of being nice. Being nice and even good have become about not saying anything that corresponds with reality. And that is because reality makes people angry. So, nice people don't mention it. 

Well, I am going to mention it because I think reality is important. Reality itself isn't nice. Blame reality and not me! I figure Christians should be able to understand what I am about to write, but today, I am not so sure anymore.

A World of Victims

Everyone is a victim. Everyone feels victimized: men, women, racial minorities, old people, young people, transgendered people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, fat people, ugly people, short people, stupid people, poor people even rich people.

Oh poor, poor me! Oh poor, poor us!

And they are RIGHT! If you are feeling victimized, you are feeling reality correctly. Life isn't fair and life is filled to the brim with injustices. Everyone ought to feel exploited and used and abused because this corresponds with reality.


Whose to Blame?

Everyone clearly understands that injustices need to be righted, so they demand government to deal with it.
Men need to think above the waist.
The rich need to give more to the poor.
There are conspiracies against the regular Joe.
Enforce laws.
Make new laws.
More jails.
More education.
More tolerance.
Why can't we just all get along?

If every possible injustice had a law against it, that would not eradicate injustice. Laws cannot stop the problem, even if they can punish it.

Unfortunately we live in a society of such monumental irrational pride, so bent on self-destruction, we would rather tear each other apart with blame than actually admit the cause of injustice is right there in front of us and pretty much most civilizations in the last four thousand years knew or at least suspected it.

We are oppressed because we are guilty of disobedience to God.

Yeah, I know nobody wants to read that. I know some readers are saying, "You always want to blame everything on sin." Yes, that is true, because that is what God did. Sin makes us sinners who hurt each other.

God didn't die that we may have the best government system or to show us the correct political affiliation. Christ didn't suffer on the Cross that we could be wealthy and comfortable. He is not the Savior from being offended. His life and death were not to help us feel good about ourselves. He didn't die so we would be free to sin. He came to conquer the sin that brings about our death and misery and injustice and oppression and enslavement.

But I get it. 
If we admit that moral crime is causing suffering and injustice, that would make us all victims! And no one could feel much superiority in their oppression-hood. Wrongdoing, of course, is not equally distributed, so we are not equally abused, but make no mistake, sin brutalizes everyone.

No one wants to think about evil because they want the bad guy to be someone else—someone they can fight against. We all want to be the good guy! Of course, that is how we were created! It is wonderful to want to be the good guy and beat up the bad guy. It's just that because of disobedience to God, no matter how sincerely or ignorantly done, we have to re-learn how to be the good guy. It is not easy or as natural to us as we wish it to be.

I Don't Believe in Evil

Many of us who call ourselves Christian don't really believe in wickedness. That makes us feel uncomfortable and judgmental.

Why? Why do we all freak out (even Christians) when someone states the obvious?

Because no one wants to get rid of iniquity! Sin not only makes us the prey of evil, it makes us predators too. Transgressing God's law, being the source of injustice, means we sinners become not only the victims, but the bad guys who create the injustices.

We all believe and feel ourselves to be the good guys and it is a shock to our system—a shock to our reality—if we place the blame on injustice on ourselves. That means there is no guy in the black hat we can all corporately get rid of and injustice will vanish. We can't protest or strike against or boycott sin—unless we do it in our own life. 

The Empowerment of Righteousness

There is nothing we can do to stop the victimization of evil unless we personally stop doing evil things. If we wish true freedom so that nothing can victimize us anymore—we need to stop that which is enslaving us. And… that is sin. This power is right there for us no matter your gender, age, race, etc. God's mercy and grace is the ultimate heaven for those who wish to live in a non-biased, color-blind and just society.

Few can handle this truth—that most of the guilt of society comes from our personal decisions! While it is evident that the world suffers from others' transgressions, our deepest persecution is our own fault and derives from our own choices.

The Christian worldview of evil and oppression really is the nicest and most personally empowering because God promised that He would pull us from the depths of this horrible victimization and take our transgressions from us! Through His grace, Christ provided a way out of this enslavement. That is the good newsThat is the gospel.But no one today seems to want to hear that gospel because it means they would have to admit there was a problem with not just the world—but themselves—and admit the problem is wickedness and submit to the Great Shepherd for healing.

And for every holy man and woman, for each example of the saints who defy the law of sin through Christ's miraculous grace, a thousand injustices we can't control are defeated. Personal holiness effects much more than your own personal enslavement to sin, it shines the light so that others too may leave the prison of persecution.

And evil doesn't want that. It wants us humans to love our own oppression and blame others. Sin keeps us blind to our own faults but shines the light constantly on others. Evil is the master deflector, the master blamer, the master at dulling us to guilt, the master at tempting us to feel the enslavement it has us in, but to love our own choice to remain as a victim in our jail cell while screaming injustice at other prisoners from within it.

Christ opened the door for us. He gave us the solution to injustice. And the solution begins with each of us falling on our knees daily in repentance, having faith that His mercy is great. He wants to shower grace upon us so that we can no longer be victims, but walk as kings and queens in His eternal kingdom.

He wants us to rise from the deepest filth of victimhood and will freely give us the love, courage and strength to go and sin no more. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What is the Catholic Mass

The other day, I mentioned to an Evangelical  that I was going to mass. Protestants often wonder why Catholics don't just say, "I am going to church." So this person asked me, "What is the difference is between church and mass?"

Ah, what a question. And now I get to pour out my love in an answer I hope and pray will be understandable. And an answer of love, often requires many words!
______________________________


Creation
Before the babbling gurgle of babies, before the laughter of children and the words of men, there was a deep and dark silent mystery.

Then suddenly, from the heart of God, burst forth a cosmos. Galaxies were thrown forth in an everlasting expanding spin, light exploded and in the wake of God's voice, trillions of stars were left against a black sky to mesmerize us each time we would look up to find God.  His love song radiated a divine offering of life. The universe echoed back His song as a beautiful symphony of love. And the oceans teamed with the first generation of babies. The sky grew heavy with thousands of species' first baby birds! The lion and lioness lay down with their cubs, and the cattle filled a thousand hills.

That is what love is! Love does not simply inspire creativity. Love's form is creation. As the sun does not simply produce radiation, it is radiation, as perfume does not create a scent, it is the scent. As flowers do not create beauty, they are beauty, so love does not simply create life, it is life. That's the nature and essence that God formed and called love. You cannot separate the life producing from love or it ceases to be love.

All acts of love create. The bliss of total self-gifting love is reproductive, in that it reproduces itself.


Destruction
Then the perfect symphony went silent. Adam sinned.
Sin stole from us the blessedness of life-giving sacrifice. Sin's nature is the very opposite of love. It is destruction. Satan's ultimate goal is to rip life from love, leaving it sterile and selfish.


Sin began a war.

Man chose to battle God. When Adam took the forbidden fruit, he placed himself at war with God. No matter his heart. No matter that he was deceived in the ultimate outcome. No matter how sincerely he repented and was sorry. Satan trapped man into a life of utter enslavement to self. 

Recreation
Two thousand years ago, the definitive battle of this still ongoing war was won by a Savior who totally surrendered His life for love. The Cross showed the raving madness of wickedness. Sin is hate so powerfully deceptive that given reign convinced the creation to murder its own Creator. But so much more, the Cross showed us the extent of Christ's love in a pure life-giving sacrifice. Christ offered us freedom from sin and death and He did it through the creative and jubilant sacrifice of love.


As excruciatingly painful as it was, it was a joyous gift offered that those who accepted it would be restored to their rightful position as His Sons and Daughters. And for those who choose to obey the King, they will reign forever with Christ.

Because we live in a world crowded and confused with sin, our understanding is clouded and we cannot clearly comprehend the Cross of Christ. For most humans, Calvary is indistinct, remote, and unreachable. 


So Christ gave the world His Church to bring back His love song and the music of life. He commissioned His people to bring the meaning of His sacrifice clearly focused into reality. We are to show the Cross through our actions to a dulled and desperate world. 

Catholics go to church for this purpose of re-creation. The word "mass" contains the entirety of the meaning of the Cross packed into it. The wording bursts forth with that life-giving memory of Calvary.

The mass is where we go to received the grace of Christ's Crucifixion that we may leave and be "little Christs" to the world. For that is how we got our name. The Roman pagans living in Antioch called us Christians, because they saw our living sacrifice and it reminded them of that criminal who died a cruel death because He believed in bringing us the love of His Father.

As true Sons and Daughters, we still should be doing that today. Bringing the living symphony of His creative life to the world! We pour ourselves out as He pours Himself in to us in mass. We become the living cup that overflows with His pure living water to satisfy the world's thirst. We become His broken bread to feed the hungry.

Not through just spoken or written words but through yielding up our freedoms and rights in the daily little things, often unnoticed by others.

By our gift of self-control when we are insulted or offended and desire to spit vengeful words and instead speak words of encouragement, we bring the Cross near.

When we have made plans to do something relaxing on our time off, and we see someone in need, we lovingly gift
 our much needed rest and act unselfishly to help—we bring the Cross near. 


When we have a right, a liberty we fought hard for, but for the sake of others, give that right up—we bring the Cross near.

When we give supernatural forgiveness to someone who has despicably wronged us—we bring the Cross near.


The mass gives us the grace to do the heroic even in the most mundane and irritating moments. His grace awakens in us the needs of those around us and urges us to give even when it is against our very fiber.

Dozens of moments during the day, we are faced with tiny choices of self-preservation or a painful sacrifices of what we want or need and we choose to take the hit out of love—we become Christ and bring the Cross more clearly to a confused and defeated world. Surrendering to God these precious tiny moments build and build until they form a tsunami of grace that floods the world.

And as we grow like Him as the decades go by, Christ is bringing us to His ultimate goal: that self-sacrifice becomes a exuberance and we are more able to pour out our life for others in an unending song. 


The Church is the building.
 

The mass is God's gift of His love that brings forth life in us, so we may then pour out our soul in charity, bringing the Cross near to everyone we encounter. The mass is His life. His love is creative through us.