Category Archives: God

Sunday Devotional: Abraham’s Test and the Chosen People

Genesis 22:1-2, 9A, 10-12, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Angel stays Abraham's hand

There was a time when this passage from Genesis greatly troubled me. How could a loving God actually command a father to kill his son as a “holocaust,” a sacrificial offering to Him?

Note: The historical and original meaning of the word holocaust is “A Jewish sacrificial offering that is burned completely on an altar.”

Not just any son, but his only son, whom Abraham loved desperately, who was born when Sarah was 90 years old and Abraham was 100. I can’t even begin to imagine Abraham’s anguish . . . .

But then, of course, the answer is in St. Paul‘s Letter to the Romans 8:

Romans 8:31B-34

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.

Christ crucified

In other words, God the Father asked of Abraham what He was prepared to do Himself — and did do, two thousand years later.

Not only is He a loving God, for He sent His messenger in the nick of time to stay Abraham’s hand, He sacrificed His only Son for us puny, puking, petty, congenitally ungrateful humans.

Why did God put Abraham to this horrible test?

The best explanation I’ve come across is the one by Roy H. Schoeman,* a Jew who converted to Christianity (Catholicism). It is also the best accounting of what Jews as God’s “chosen people” means.

In his book, Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming, Schoeman writes (pp. 19, 20, 23):

This story illustrates the quality for which Abraham was chosen to start the Jewish race — his total dedication to God. This quality was also to be the central characteristic of the entire race, the quality that would enable it to undertake all that was necessary to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah . . . . The Scripture makes it clear that it was Abraham’s behavior during this test that would earn for him, and hence for the Jewish race, the honor of bringing forth the Messiah — “and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18) . . . .

God would need a people to provide a temporal home for the Messiah when He came and to announce His arrival to the world . . . . The Jews were to host the Incarnation itself, to be the people among whom God would become man . . . a people of sufficient spiritual purity, virtue and morality . . . . This role . . . was entrusted to the Jews.

Put simply, Hebrews were “chosen” by God the Father to be the “people” — a spiritually pure (no false idols: “thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”) biological line among whom His only Son would be incarnate as man.

* Roy Schoeman grew up studying Judaism under the most prominent rabbis in American Judaism. After receiving a B.S. from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, he taught at Harvard. His unexpected conversion to Catholicism led to a dramatic refocus of his activities. Schoeman now hosts a Catholic TV show, studies, and writes on religious topics.

Our Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, I love You with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

Jesus, I trust in You!

May the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you on this glorious joyous Sunday, a day of worship in memory of His Resurrection!


Chinese Underground Church

A Rare Look At Secret House Churches in China

Rare video footage of Chinese Christians meeting in caves, houses, farms, and secret locations in order to worship Jesus.


While we live in a nation that is forgetting God, China is waking up.

Wednesday Funny: Dogs who destroy their homes

Some dogs trash the house because they have separation anxiety.

Some dogs trash the house because they like rolling around in garbage.

And then, of course, some dogs trash the house because they are just perverse.


H/t Life With Dogs: and FOTM’s silent reader CSM


Fly! You fools! GANDALF!!!!!


Tuesday Funny: Cat selfies!

If cats took selfies

H/t FOTM’s silent reader CSM


Creation: The planet between Mars & Jupiter

Those of us who are adults grew up being told in school that our solar system consists of the Sun, Earth and 8 other planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Then, in 2006, news came that the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto is no longer a planet, but is reclassified as a mere “dwarf planet,” which means students in schools today are taught that our solar system consists of the Sun, Earth and 7 other planets.


Now we are told that there is a planet between Mars and Jupiter! — a planet named Ceres, about which most of us had never heard of or known, although it was discovered some 214 years ago, in 1801, by an Italian Catholic priest named Giuseppe Piazzi.

Ceres appears to have an icy mantle — a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clay — and a rocky core that may harbor an internal ocean of liquid water.

CeresA picture of Ceres taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of 49,710 miles (80,000 km.).

Amanda Barnett reports for CNN, Feb. 20, 2015:

Way out beyond Mars, but before you get to Jupiter, is a planet.

You read that right. There’s a planet between Mars and Jupiter.

You may not have heard of it, but it was discovered in 1801 — 129 years before Pluto. It originally was called a planet, then later an asteroid and now it’s called a dwarf planet.

Its name is Ceres (pronounced like series) and you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks.

Ceres is one of five named dwarf planets recognized by NASA and the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The other four are Eris, Pluto, Makemake and Haumea.

But Ceres is the first of these worlds to get a visitor from Earth: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is arriving on March 6.

Ceres is a ‘planet’ that you’ve probably never heard of,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Ceres may be considered a dwarf planet, but it’s “the giant of the main asteroid belt,” Dr. Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director of the Dawn mission, told CNN. “It is not only the largest object between Mars and Jupiter, it is the largest object between the sun and Pluto that a spacecraft has not yet visited.”

“We are tremendously excited,” Rayman said. “We have guided this robotic probe for well over seven years on an interplanetary journey of more than 3 billion miles. Along the way we sailed past Mars. We spent 14 months orbiting and scrutinizing the giant protoplanet Vesta. … Now, finally, we are on the verge of conducting the first exploration ever of the first dwarf planet.”

New images from Dawn, taken when the probe was about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from Ceres, show craters and what NASA calls mysterious bright spots. Rayman said its surface is pretty beaten up and that the craters that are “scars from life in the rough and tumble asteroid belt.”

Why study a beaten-up space rock? Rayman said because it’s a survivor — and a mysterious one. Made up of rock and ice, Ceres may even have liquid water deep beneath its surface — “perhaps as ponds or lakes or even oceans,” Rayman said.

He said Ceres “appears to have been in the process of growing to become a full-sized planet when Jupiter terminated its growth nearly 4.6 billion years ago.”

So by studying Ceres, scientists learn more about how the rest of the solar system formed. And he said, we should study Ceres because it’s there — and we need to understand the universe we live in. “We should study it because we hunger for knowledge and understanding. Grand undertakings like this nurture our spirit,” Rayman said.

Rayman said that if you had learned about the solar system 200 years ago, “you would have learned that Ceres was a planet, just as people who learned about the solar system in more recent generations learned that Pluto is.”

Speaking of Pluto, the most famous of the dwarf planets gets its own visitor in July. The New Horizons spacecraft is closing in for a flyby of Pluto and its moons.

This talk of planets and dwarf planets is still a little confusing, so here’s the most recent tally: NASA currently recognizes eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and the five named dwarf planets we listed earlier.

But a sixth possible dwarf planet already is on NASA’s watch list.

Called 2012 VP113, it’s believed to be one of the most distant objects in our solar system. On its Solar System Exploration website, NASA says the object was nicknamed “Biden” after Vice President Joseph Biden because of the VP in its initial designation. It will be up to the IAU to decide whether i2012 VP113 is a dwarf planet and whether it gets an official name.

But expect the numbers for planets in our solar system to keep changing. Mike Brown, the CalTech astronomy professor who helped discover dwarf planet Eris and who takes responsibility for killing off Pluto as a full-fledged planet, has his own tally listing more than 360 possible dwarf planets. And NASA has said there may be many more dwarf planets that we haven’t found yet.

So Ceres, and its cousins, may soon outnumber the traditional planets you learned about in grade school.


Sunday Devotional: The beginning of Lent

Mark 1:9-13

And it came to pass in those days that
Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee,
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And straightway coming up out of the water,
He saw the heavens opened,
and the Spirit like a dove
descending upon Him.
And there came a voice from Heaven,
saying, “Thou Art My Beloved Son,
In Whom I Am Well Pleased.”
And immediately the Spirit
drove Him into the wilderness.
And He was there in the wilderness forty days,
tempted by Satan,
and was with the wild beasts;
and the angels ministered unto Him.

The Devil actually tempted the Second Person of the Triune Godhead!

Imagine the grandiose narcissism, the utter gall that would prompt a creature — a created being — to tempt the Creator Himself.

That is why it is my belief that Narcissism is the First Sin — of the fallen angel named Lucifer, and of Adam and Eve, our first parents. That is also why narcissists are of the devil because their self-worship violates the First Commandment:

I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.


Today is the first Sunday of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, excluding Sundays.

Sundays are excluded from our observance of Lent because Sunday is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, wherein it is inappropriate to fast and mourn as we must celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, our salvation. That is also the reason why Christians worship on Sunday, instead of Judaism’s Saturday Sabbath.

Lent is 40 days long pursuant to previous traditions set forth in the Holy Scriptures:

  • Moses remained on the Montain of God for 40 days (Exodus 24:18 and 34:28).
  • The prophet Elijah traveled 40 days before he reached the cave where he had his visions (1 Kings 19:8).
  • Nineveh was provided with 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4).
  • Most importantly, Our Lord Jesus, before going forth in His public ministry, spent 40 days in the wilderness praying and fasting (Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:2).

The season of Lent actually began last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, when Christians receive ashes on our foreheads as a reminder of our mortality: “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.”

Since Jesus prepared himself for his public ministry during these 40 days, Christians imitate Him with prayer and fasting during this time to prepare for Holy Week. In remembrance of how Christ our Lord was tortured, suffered, and died for our sins, we are also asked to make a sacrifice during Lent by surrendering something that gives us pleasure, e.g., eating chocolates, and/or by doing something good that we don’t ordinarily do, e.g., doing a chore for an elderly neighbor.

For Lent, I’m giving up going to Savers, which is like one gigantic yard sale. What are you giving up for Lent?

May the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!