Duck Dynasty & A&E : The Battle for Human Nature

Below is excerpted from the GQ interview with Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson. Based upon Scripture, he included homosexual activity in speaking of sin. Duck Dynasty was subsequently dismissed by A&E.

In our ongoing dialogue with culture, this article prompted some questions and considerations in sincere interest of reply. 

Doesn't A&E's decision reveal their OWN organization to be "intolerant," "hateful," "discriminatory," "judgmental"? Doesn't their decision demonstrate that we can not NOT judge? Indeed, disputing this, or anything herein, constitutes judgment.

If we're going to navigate life based upon judgment, ought not the compass be based upon the indisputable, human nature we all share?

In the instance of homosexual activity (not inclination), what argument can counter the one the body has already made: Same genders do not "fit" together; their sexual processes can never accomplish their undisputable, natural end. Does anyone deny that the sexual arousal involving an erection is complementary with a woman's physical receptivity, as are the complementary purposes of sperm and egg?

As such, homosexual activity is un-natural, as un-natural as is eating and intentionally throwing up. As un-natural as any sexual arousal divorced from it's intended purpose, outside it's evident, natural context of commitment between a man and a woman.

Peal back the layers, the heart of the argument for homosexual "marriage" is simply this: "Per sexual preference, to each her own, recognized with rights." No one has the right to question anothers' sexual preference. So much more, homosexual "marriage" insists that we as a society recognize anyone's preference in the form of special rights.

Anyone challenging this is met with the pop-cultural Leviathan unleashed: "hateful," "discriminatory," "judgmental."

What the multitude do not realize is that this Leviathan will not have a leash. It will not play by our selective rules. It turns on us.

What objection can anyone make to "marriage" comprised of multiple partners? Or between a father and a son? Or with a pet? Or with one's Ipad? Answer: Nothing. We've got nothing to say. How dare we be so hateful.

The Monster is unleashed.

When we don't recognize and respect a special something, it becomes everything, and thus, nothing. Thus we find ourselves today, internally and in our relationships - divided, splintered, alienated, incomplete. Something within us constantly beckons for real intimacy and wholeness (the root meaning of "holiness").

Our internal and external worlds reveal us to be at war with ourselves, with our nature. We are a people given a gift as a participation in the life of the Giver. Used apart, using others, using ourselves - we remain in exile. We are in prison. There, we will never find peace.

All this culturally reinforced by false understandings of "tolerance" and "freedom" whose values a false liberalism has enshrined. When we see the Leviathan banish Duck Dynasty, but extol Miley Cyrus, we ought to recognize it has fully morphed into a full-fledged ideology of anti-nature. Unmoored from our anchor, who we really are, whom we are revealed to be, we are adrift. There can be no real freedom.

And yet our enemies are not human, but "spiritual powers in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12), those whose rabid jealousy seek to deceive us into rejecting our God-like nature.

Robertson's was a "truth spoken in love" - validated by the sociologically proven fact that we really can't break the law, only ourselves against it. Indeed, what Commandment have any of us ever broken that has not, in fact, broken us?

Which of us, in fact, have not fallen? Are we not all in need of God's abiding, healing, transforming grace and mercy?

In this very moment, with an impassioned heart we could never comprehend, God seeks us back into the Great Fellowship, the Great Intimacy with Him for which we were designed, and in which we are destined if we would choose.

Brothers and Sisters, this Christmas Season He beckons us. Seek. Choose. Believe. He is near. Emmanuel.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong... Sin becomes fine,” he said. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Paraphrasing Corinthians he added: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The gay and lesbian rights group GLAAD was quick to criticize Robertson for his comments and called on A&E to take action.

"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe," said GLAAD rep Wilson Cruz. "He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans – and Americans - who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."

Robertson also told GQ his family has lost its privacy since they were thrust into the limelight as the stars of the hit show, but it was well worth it because the series has given him a platform to spread his religious beliefs.

“For the sake of the Gospel, it was worth it… All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s 80 years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

Mary, Medjugorje, Mass Impact. Grace Pouring Out...

God is With Us. Setting the Stage for a Mass Impact.

This week has historically been a big week of grace in my life.  June 21 marks Summer Solstice, the day of great light, the longest day of the year. It was on that day my wife and I began dating in 1996, and on that same day we were married a year later.  On June 24 we celebrate the Feast of my confirmation namesake, St. John the Baptist. As the sunlight begins to decrease, so John asks us to decrease that God might increase in us. And on this date of June 24, 1991, I found myself in a little village behind the then Iron Curtain where, ten years earlier to the day, Mary purportedly began appearing to six village children.*  Over those ten years numerous books and television programs showcased the miraculous things that were happening in Medjugorje.

My personal circumstances of going to Medjugorje coincided with a good amount of trouble, heart breaking things going on with siblings and friends, exacerbated by my front-row view of a spiritually searching world as communications director of an international organization.

All I had head-learned in my Catholic faith was becoming real, particularly that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12).  Yet, in the midst of this bleakness my soul was becoming attuned to an inexplicable, deepening love for Mary, perhaps even more, her love for me. She was simply there.  And I was blessed by a number of spiritually astute friends who were opening my eyes to understand her God-given role to combat the devil (Gen. 3:15), particularly in these days, particularly through encounter with Her Son.

The story of how Medjugorje "happened" for me was miraculous enough, but for another time. While there, I was joined by a multitude from every nation, each drawn for their own reasons, but all united beyond words like a close-knit family. That alone was miraculous. I met with the visionaries- those whom Mary communicated with every day. I witnessed numerous instances of miraculous, physical healing, including a little child who came blind but, after prayer, could see. Many, perhaps everyone, shared a sense of spiritual healing.

Looking up one evening at  Mont Krizevac, or "Cross Mountain," I observed with all present the mysterious, bright light that consumed the cross.  I observed and gazed upon the "dancing sun," that should have left me blind. The burdens that seemed so heavy only days earlier all seemed to dissipate.  One evening, gazing out from the top of that mountain, I was acutely aware of an all-consuming peace that blanketed the place.  I couldn't help but think: "The Mother of God is appearing here, inviting us to pray from the heart, to know her Son... and I'm worried about what?"

Whether one believes Mary is appearing there or not is of little interest to me.  There's nothing she's saying that has not already been emphasized by our Church. She's calling us to pray from the heart, to believe and know God is with us, to turn from our sins and prepare our hearts for Him.

There's so much more to share, but nothing that wouldn't require a lot more ink. The bottom line is that we are living in spiritually perilous times. Satan is competing for our souls, causing us to be distracted, if not lost, by so many lesser things. But more importantly, the gates of heaven are open and God's grace is being poured out.  God is calling us to Himself.  He wants so much more than our empty actions. He wants our hearts. He wants to awaken us to His indwelling Spirit.  And He gives us His Mother to help lead us there.

The great thing in all this is to tell you that you don't have to go overseas to experience all this.  His full, real power and presence is awaiting us... likely within miles of where you're reading this.  He's inviting us to more than a moment, but a movement.  He is really here, and He's waiting for you.

Find out more at Mass Impact.
*On the Church and Medjugorje: Many books and programs have showcased the miracles taking place at Medjugorje. Scholar Dr. Mark Miravalle's well articulated summary concludes: "Is Medjugorje real? According to the Church's own criteria, the spiritual fruits superabundant throughout the world, and the saintly witnesses and discernments of Pope John Paul II and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, I believe the only proper theological response is 'yes.'"

Parenthood Today for our Kids Tomorrow (Taking Off the Gloves)

We labor for the kind of house that makes it impossible for us to ever be home. We celebrate pregnancy long enough to leave them on others' door steps. In the name of our expensive education. We name them "boredom" or "unfulfilled."

And at the end of the day, when we are with them, they get the scraps of our time, attention and energy. We have our TV programs and electronic media. We buy them stuff to further orphan them. We sacrifice our kids for things, instead of things for our kids.

We are fathers of the fatherless. In absence of our love our daughters search for it artificially; we allow them to dress and act in certain ways as if we've forgotten what it was like as a teenage boy. To our sons we bequeath an image of "adult" that is anything but. No true north. No anchor. No fundamental sense of mission and purpose. To both we surrender important boundaries, expectations, follow-through easily to their push back, leaving them puppets to the world around them-- which reaffirms their lack of worth.

To all this we say, "they'll be ok" - an answer we wouldn't think of giving our boss about our work.

And we wonder... why they're disconnected. Confused. Angry. Misguided. Disrespectful. Rebellious. Selfish. Unkind. The truth is, they're imaging us. They are passing along us. They are our legacy... crying out for a kind of love they were designed to receive, for which we alone were uniquely designed to give. Your greatest and most sacred trust.

Parents- there are no presents that surpass the gift of our presence. Our greatest joy in life will only be found in giving it away-- to our spouses and our children. We have but a moment and then it's gone. That moment is given now.

Let's live it.

Lenten Road Map: Begin Here (Pope Benedict's Letter)

For Lent this year don't just give up something, gain EVERYTHING! Recognize the invitation to an authentic, richer, fuller life - only possible in Jesus Christ, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Let this be our road map. Share it. Let's Rock this place (Matt. 16:18). 

VATICAN CITY -  "Believing in Charity Calls Forth Charity: 'We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us' (1 Jn 4:16)" is the title of the Holy Father's Lenten Message this year. 

Pope Benedict XVI on Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God?the God of Jesus Christ?and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.

1. Faith as a response to the love of God

In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John’s fundamental assertion: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”, I observed that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us, love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us”. Faith is this personal adherence?which involves all our faculties?to the revelation of God’s gratuitous and “passionate” love for us, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. The encounter with God who is Love engages not only the heart but also the intellect: “Acknowledgement of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love. But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete”. Hence, for all Christians, and especially for “charity workers”, there is a need for faith, for “that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love”. Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and accordingly, under the influence of that love?“Caritas Christi urget nos”? they are profoundly open to loving their neighbour in concrete ways. This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to was h the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love.
“Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! … Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light?and in the end, the only light?that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working”. All this helps us to understand that the principal distinguishing mark of Christians is precisely “love grounded in and shaped by faith”.

2. Charity as life in faith

The entire Christian life is a response to God’s love. The first response is precisely faith as the acceptance, filled with wonder and gratitude, of the unprecedented divine initiative that precedes us and summons us. And the “yes” of faith marks the beginning of a radiant story of friendship with the Lord, which fills and gives full meaning to our whole life. But it is not enough for God that we simply accept his gratuitous love. Not only does he love us, but he wants to draw us to himself, to transform us in such a profound way as to bring us to say with Saint Paul: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”.
When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity. If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him; only then does our faith become truly “active through love”; only then does he abide in us.
Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it; charity is “walking” in the truth. Through faith we enter into friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated. Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master; charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice. In faith we are begotten as children of God; charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine sonship, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith enables us to recognize the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful.

3. The indissoluble interrelation of faith and charity

In light of the above, it is clear that we can never separate, let alone oppose, faith and charity. These two theological virtues are intimately linked, and it is misleading to posit a contrast or “dialectic” between them. On the one hand, it would be too one-sided to place a strong emphasis on the priority and decisiveness of faith and to undervalue and almost despise concrete works of charity, reducing them to a vague humanitarianism. On the other hand, though, it is equally unhelpful to overstate the primacy of charity and the activity it generates, as if works could take the place of faith. For a healthy spiritual life, it is necessary to avoid both fideism and moral activism.
The Christian life consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love. In sacred Scripture, we see how the zeal of the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel and awaken people’s faith is closely related to their charitable concern to be of service to the poor. In the Church, contemplation and action, symbolized in some way by the Gospel figures of Mary and Martha, have to coexist and complement each other. The relationship with God must always be the priority, and any true sharing of goods, in the spirit of the Gospel, must be rooted in faith. Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelisation, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelisation is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical "Populorum Progressio", the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development. It is the primordial truth of the love of God for us, lived and proclaimed, that opens our lives to receive this love and makes possible the integral development of humanity and of every man.
Essentially, everything proceeds from Love and tends towards Love. God’s gratuitous love is made known to us through the proclamation of the Gospel. If we welcome it with faith, we receive the first and indispensable contact with the Divine, capable of making us “fall in love with Love”, and then we dwell within this Love, we grow in it and we joyfully communicate it to others.
Concerning the relationship between faith and works of charity, there is a passage in the Letter to the Ephesians which provides perhaps the best account of the link between the two: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God; not because of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. It can be seen here that the entire redemptive initiative comes from God, from his grace, from his forgiveness received in faith; but this initiative, far from limiting our freedom and our responsibility, is actually what makes them authentic and directs them towards works of charity. These are not primarily the result of human effort, in which to take pride, but they are born of faith and they flow from the grace that God gives in abundance. Faith without works is like a tree without fruit: the two virtues imply one another. Lent invites us, through the traditional practices of the Christian life, to nourish our faith by careful and extended listening to the word of God and by receiving the sacraments, and at the same time to grow in charity and in love for God and neighbour, not least through the specific practices of fasting, penance and almsgiving.

4. Priority of faith, primacy of charity

Like any gift of God, faith and charity have their origin in the action of one and the same Holy Spirit, the Spirit within us that cries out “Abba, Father”, and makes us say: “Jesus is Lord!” and “Maranatha!”.
Faith, as gift and response, causes us to know the truth of Christ as Love incarnate and crucified, as full and perfect obedience to the Father’s will and infinite divine mercy towards neighbour; faith implants in hearts and minds the firm conviction that only this Love is able to conquer evil and death. Faith invites us to look towards the future with the virtue of hope, in the confident expectation that the victory of Christ’s love will come to its fullness. For its part, charity ushers us into the love of God manifested in Christ and joins us in a personal and existential way to the total and unconditional self-giving of Jesus to the Father and to his brothers and sisters. By filling our hearts with his love, the Holy Spirit makes us sharers in Jesus’ filial devotion to God and fraternal devotion to every man.
The relationship between these two virtues resembles that between the two fundamental sacraments of the Church: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism ("sacramentum fidei") precedes the Eucharist ("sacramentum caritatis"), but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”), but has to arrive at the truth of charity (“knowing how to love God and neighbour”), which remains for ever, as the fulfilment of all the virtues.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history, I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives. For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon each individual and upon every community!
Pope Benedict XVI

The Sexual Urge and Due North

By Greg Schlueter

The sexual urge. Let's just keep it real. We all have it. Let's understand it. By nature it is both body and soul.

Here's the defining truth: The heart of the sexual urge is the urge to completion. Not found in porn. Not found in any act in and of itself. On an experiential level, people know this. They've "done it" and moved along to the next. Incomplete. Bewildered.

Yet the urge makes promises for completion. Always hoping.

Let's take our cues from great wisdom of the ages. This "urge" points to a completion that can only be found in God. It is a compass whose "Due North" is God. A capacity to participate in the total, mutual, self-gift that IS God. The end is union in God.

[For those with spiritual eyes to see, this is the great symbol of celibate priests and religious... signifying our ultimate, eternal intimacy while yet on this earth!]

Now consider Satan's great jealousy. He knows this capacity for a completion in God. Not happy. Note that the "sexual urge" rightly conceived (pun intended) is ultimately a kind of worship. A capacity to imitate and participate in God. What does Satan do to avert us from this right worship? Distracts us with a shiny apple. Magnets. Pointing toward different gods. Alienation. Brokenness.

Compass out of kilter. Is this not what we see all around us? Within us?

The good news. Note everywhere that the sexual urge is quite alive. Just not well. It's working, with it's compelling power - just not working correctly.

Imagine if this compelling compass were to be re-calibrated. Rid of the magnets. Rightly ordered. Pointing Due North. Not the pill, but in the power of God's holy will. Godly, holy, pure, powerful, self-possessed, intimate, true love. Just imagine.

We can't do it. We need a Savior. We need to be saved. Not just once, but every new day. We need to invite Him to deliver us from the magnets. We need to cooperate. In this day, this generation, He calls us to be witnesses to His great, transforming mercy. Not just a one-time event, but many steps. Take the first. Don't settle for the artificial, fleeting, wounding version of passionate fire you were designed for...

"I've come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze!" Luke 12:49

[If you have this witness and are willing to share it, perhaps are in the midst of it -- please contact me privately -- we're looking for authentic witnesses to showcase what God is wanting to do... and is doing. Please pray about it-- and for the vast multitude - that our collective, human compass once again point Due North.]
Greg Schlueter is Secretariat Leader for Evangelization and Parish Life for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. He and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to seven children (one in heaven) and also lead Image Trinity, a Catholic family movement committed to engaging families in the great adventure of discovering our identity and living IT - we Image the Trinity. (Get IT?) 

Some Thoughts on "Media"

By Greg Schlueter

We're cleaning house. Literally. Getting ready to move.

Going through source media of the past seventeen years. Just seeing the titles is revisiting pages of our lives. Thousands of productions. Tributes honoring loved ones. ErieAlityTV that ignited a community's generosity in an Extreme Makeover episode. Amazing stories showcasing the heart of numerous nonprofit organizations.

In the faith arena, God's powerful movement through so many people... Journey to Emmaus, World Youth Day, Catholic Leadership Institute, youth rallies, Made2Worship, Presence for Christmas, LiveITStation... clips from superstars who rocked our world- Steve Angrisano, Bob Halligan Jr, Jesse Manibusan....

A very blessed, sacred time. And this media-- we're committing it all to "the ground." Fertilizing it with some tears. (No worries environmentalists, it will be transformed!) All seeds planted with hopes of continuing to reach up to eternity.

Funny thing, the word "media" - as in "to mediate" or "connect both sides from the middle."

God has chosen "mediation" from day one. He could speak directly to us (and in certain ways, He does!), it is undeniable that He has chosen to dignify humanity by speaking through humanity... through the flesh and blood of His Son... through human and material instrumentality of ink configured a certain way on paper (Word), through Sacrament.

The testimony of this "media" approach throughout the ages is the great validation of His Holy Catholic Church... not created of human ingenuity, but given by Love for Love... She is His Bride-- His Presence whose instantiation has variantly been disguised, experienced as imperfect and blemished as we people to whom She has been entrusted, nonetheless is He has remained faithful-- and She remains His chosen means of encountering and living in His life-transforming love.

If today you hear His Voice.... Say yes to Him without reservation, without contingency... in spite of your fears, weakness, uncertainty, doubt... not based upon your own calculation of what you think you can or can not do... but on the simple promise that what He calls us to, He will provide for.

If you're down, if you've fallen... in His power get back up again. God has destined you for greatness. Embrace His Mercy. You are His beloved-- not a spectator, but a participant in an ultimate drama attended by a multitude of heavenly angels and saints.

Be fueled by the awareness that one day you will see souls in heaven who wouldn't have been there had you said "no."
Greg Schlueter is Secretariat Leader for Evangelization and Parish Life for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. He and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to seven children (one in heaven) and also lead Image Trinity, a Catholic family movement committed to engaging families in the great adventure of discovering our identity and living IT - we Image the Trinity. (Get IT?) 

Redemption of a Hay-Wired Humanity | THE REAL WAR

By Greg Schlueter
During MSNBC’s “The Cycle” on Friday, co-host Toure thanked "God and country" that "abortion was there to save me... keep me on a path toward building a strong family I have."

English-French... Russian-Italian... we have numerous on-line translators that help us understand in our own language what is being said in another. Our world is very much in need of a good Ooze to Truth translator.

Plugging Toure's words in, this is what I got: "I allowed one of my children to be killed to preserve my way of life. Death of one of my children has enabled the rest of us to be strong."

What's ultimately tragic is that mainstream America doesn't only buy this (literally, with our tax dollars!), they extol it as humane. Say otherwise and you're intolerant. Hateful. Really.

If that's not enough to pronounce our hay-wired humanity, it's punctuated by it's mode of delivery: one whose race triumphed over the ugly regime of slavery, predicated by persons using persons, the powerful presiding over the powerless.

I'm out of punctuation marks at the end of "hay-wired humanity!" but here's the capital letters, bold and underline: this situation of killing children through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason -- was propelled by Planned Parenthood whose first masthead proclaimed it's eugenic intent: "More from the fit, less from the unfit." Their target was "unfit people" of "inferior race."

Satan is just laughing. Recall at the beginning of time it was he, the highest Angel of Light, the head of the Heavenly Choir who, from the vantage of being outside of time, who looked ahead and gasped at what he saw: God would not only create man IN HIS OWN IMAGE, He would TAKE THE FORM OF man!

With a multitude of his jealous minions, he rebelled and set himself to war against God through His children. That would be you and me.

Through the ages, how easily has he been able to present us with newer variations of the first, bright and shiny "apple" -- to worship alternate gods... in spite of the vacuous emptiness these offer! He has succeeded in fostering a culture where we reject our true image, His image - indeed, destroy His image in humanity.

Even more, he has succeeded in fostering a kind of culture where all this is boldly proclaimed, revered... not only as good, but IN HIS NAME!

Satan is laughing. And a multitude are crying.

Groggy but fresh off the long March for Life bus trip with our two oldest boys (arrival at 2:30 a.m. this morning!), where we found ourselves amidst a great sea of hope comprised of over a half-million standing for life, I was perhaps most struck by the cheering match that took place with "Keep Abortion Legal" protesters who greeted us at the Supreme Court steps.

Brothers and sisters, we've got to wake up and recognize that our enemy is not any other man or woman. It's not with Obama. Certainly, not the men and women involved with abortion. It's not even abortion doctors. No, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph. 6:12

To think anything other is to be deceived. It's to be marginalized in this great war. It is a war. We need to awaken to that reality and understand it's nature and terms. We are at war. With real casualties, not only temporal and human, but eternal.

We need to understand our greatest weapon. From the earliest of days up till present, the love of God in Jesus Christ has been punctuated by a love so great... so alive in Him... that it entails a willingness, even an eagerness, to die... AT THE HANDS OF and FOR those God desires to know Him!

I want to be there. I need to be there. Only by His grace, we need to be there.

This generation is dying to know such a complete, holy, pure and true love that surpasses understanding. A love radiating His glory. A love that can never die, but shines with the stars -- with the light of Christ -- through endless ages.

Lord Jesus, please grant us that kind of total, holy desire. Baptize us in your very presence with that kind of love - in You who ARE LOVE. Let your holy church arise in us! Here we are Lord. Fiat! Be it done unto us, in us, with us, through us... according to You! Let Your Kingdom come!

Greg Schlueter is Secretariat Leader for Evangelization and Parish Life for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. He and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to seven children (one in heaven) and also lead Image Trinity, a Catholic family movement committed to engaging families in the great adventure of discovering our identity and living IT - we Image the Trinity. (Get IT?) 

Our Big Announcement: Set the World on Fire!

Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Curtis Martin (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) concluded a recent letter with the exhortation, "Set the World on Fire!!"

Keeping it real, personal, simple-- I've been humbled, broken, journeyed enough to recognize that He truly is the answer to the deepest aspirations of the human person. Along with Curtis and a multitude of others throughout the planet-- I have sensed that we are on the verge of a great, new outpouring of Holy Spirit....

It's with this humbled sense of Him alive... on this day where the Gospel recounts the call of the disciples to "come follow," that we say "yes" to pulling up stakes after 17 years of tremendous adventure with wonderful people in this Holy Ground of Erie, Pa. (Stephanie living here 42 years)-- to embrace the call to serve Him as Secretariat Leader of Evangelization and Parish Life in the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio.

There I will be entrusted to partner with a multitude of others in setting that little part of the world on fire... embracing a vision under Bishop Blair and with a multitude of others that "institution" be an occasion for a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ... an invitation to follow Him and live an abundant life IN Him.

I'm writing seeking your prayers-- assuring you of our prayers-- mindful it's not about what we can do, but what God can do through us... that what He calls us to, He will provide for. We are delighted that a number of good people will be continuing Made2Worship / Presence for Christmas, Catholic Men's and Women's Gatherings, leadership of "our" Pre-Cana... the variety of outreaches we have begun here in Erie, and ask for your continued prayers and support (stay tuned).

Wherever you're at right now, whatever is going on in your life - know you are in the midst of an unveiling miracle- an extraordinary in the ordinary, that God is calling and equipping you to do GREAT things for Him...


With deep gratitude in Our Lord, Jesus Christ for YOU, and a pledge of our continued love and prayers,

Greg and Stephanie Schlueter

Alive In His Presence CD | Music from Made2Worship

In His Presence there is Healing. Transformation. Renewal. Forgiveness. Life.

Last year a multitude spanning all ages more deeply encountered Jesus Christ through Made2Worship events. Take a moment to listen to the above preview of the Alive in His Presence CD - recorded live at the last event of the year.

Your tax-deductible gift of any amount will help us continue to see people come Alive in His Presence... we'd love to share with you the full CD (minimum $12 suggested).

"Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” 

Pope Benedict XVI