The meaning of “To believe”

In his book, “A well-build faith: a Catholic’s guide to knowing and sharing what we believe”, Joe Paprocki writes:

“To believe is to enter into a relationship with another and to place our trust in that person. Until that happens, what we have is not a belief, but an idea. An idea evolves into a belief when it makes the leap from the head to the heart. Belief or faith is not blind. It is grounded in reason. We do not intimately love another person unless we have good reason (and some degree of evidence) to think that this person can be trusted. In the same way, we place our faith in God, not blindly, but based on good reason and some degree of evidence that God can be trusted. What is that evidence? Namely, the story of salvation history and the living witness of other followers of Christ. The Sacred Scriptures tell us the story of how God has been faithful to his people since the dawn of creation. The living witness of the saints – those canonized and those quietly leading lives of faith – provides us with credible evidence of the trustworthiness of God. Our own experience can also lead us to believe that God can be trusted. And yet, in the end, we have no proof, no guarantee – only an invitation to trust. And so, when we say in the Creed, ‘We believe in one God,’ we do so at our own risk. “

To help people to believe in Christ, we are to help them to trust God. The three main works for us are: 1) helping people to understand the meaning of the Scripture; 2) living out a faithful life; and 3) inviting people to experience God in their own life.

A good reminder for the missional community

As a church planter building a missional community, I like to read books on church planting. In his book, “The Honest Guide to Church Planting”, Tom Bennardo gives us a good reminder:

“…with all the emphasis these days on missional community, be careful that serving in the name of Jesus doesn’t become a substitute for articulating the cross of Jesus. One of the missional community strategy’s trends has been that a lot of good service happens, but it doesn’t always translate into transformed lives or repentance from sin. Missional community activity needs to be attached to message delivery. If it doesn’t, it devolves into social gospel.”

I have ministered in churches of different denominations. I found that each denomination has their own emphasis on being a missional community. I invited one denomination to feed the hungry while I encouraged another to give more attention to people’s souls.

In my opinion, Tom reminds us a missional community needs to offer people both good service and message. Good service and message are attached to each other.

Normal Enjoyment or Addiction?

As a priest/pastor, I need and hope to help people to conquer their addictions, for example, alcohol. At first, we need to distinguish what might be considered normal use of alcohol, for example, from dependent or addictive use of alcohol (and a variety of other substances and “things”).

In his book, “Addiction and Pastoral Care”, Nicholas Roberts quotes different experts’ definitions of addiction, addiction “is a syndrome in which a reward seeking behaviour has become out of control” and “an excessive desire for the consumption of a variety of drugs and difficulties in giving up their use…”

According to these definitions, I do not think my normal enjoyment of coffee should not be considered an addiction. At least, I can have my days without coffee, but what about my cell phone? Are there any harms if I have been addicted to the cell phone?

Pray this prayer as His children

A book called “Children’s book of Classic Catholic Prayers” edited by Robert F. Morneau includes the following prayer called “Act Of Love”:

“My God, I love you above all things because you are all good. I love you as the creator of life, I love you as the one who has forgiven our sins and opened the gates of heaven. I love you as the Spirit whom you have sent among us to guide us in this world. Because of my love for you, I love my neighbor as myself. Amen.”

We are children of God, therefore, this prayer is also for us. Pray this prayer and grow daily in faith, hope, and love.

Growth vs. The Good Old Days

In his book, “Church Marketing 101: Preparing Your Church for Greater Growth”, Richard Reising points out that “Change is a requirement of growth. No change means no growth. One of the biggest challenges I see in churches is that they commonly get stuck in the generation in which they felt the greatest spiritual impact…Let me challenge you, do not have a sense of self that clings to the past. God is doing a new thing!”

I have seen and experienced what Reising describes here. Many declining and closing churches are still living in their “good old days”. Therefore, these churches could not keep and attract younger generations; most of their members are either the Builders or the Boomers (for some Chinese churches, the majority of their members are the “young” Boomer and the “old” Busters). Even though some of them called themselves missional, their programs are for their own generations and members only.

24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:24-26)