006: Bible Basics With John Bergsma

catholic_FINAL_150I’m sure that a lot of you know John Bergsma. For those who don’t, allow me to introduce him.

Dr. Bergsma is a Professor of Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and convert to Catholicism. He’s not any old convert…he’s a former Protestant pastor. Those of you who have heard him speak, know he specializes in the Old Testament, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dr. Bergsma speaks regularly at conferences and parishes nationwide, and has appeared a lot on radio and television. He and his wife Dawn reside with their eight – count ‘em – eight children in Steubenville, Ohio. A couple years ago he wrote a fun little book which we’ll talk about a bit called Bible Basics for Catholics. You can learn more about him at JohnBergsma.com.

In this episode, we’ll hear some of his conversion story, as well as dive into some very interesting questions and incidents from the Old Testament. Let’s get it on!

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Glory Days? A Huge Mistake We All Make

It’s a speaker’s nightmare. The person in front of you has a better story than yours. I was toast.

The vector illustration of the Robber

A couple years before I converted to Catholicism, I was preparing to leave for the mission field in Mexico. Like so many before me, I made the rounds to several churches in the hopes of gathering some financial support. I’ve generally experienced success when a mic is put in my hand (karaoke excluded), but this time I was in trouble.

As luck would have it, there were two people speaking to this Protestant audience that Sunday. I was second.

I am/was a very clean cut pastor’s kid. That made me somewhat of an anomaly.  “PK’s”, as we’re called, are a notoriously rowdy bunch. Since dad and mom are normally doing tandem duty for the church at all hours, the kids often become rebellious. (They’re a great argument for a celibate priesthood.) So I was pretty confident my status as a “good” pastor’s kid was a good, interesting angle. At least, that’s what I thought until I heard the first guys’ opening line – “I was a bank robber.”

Suddenly I didn’t seem so unique. My story was banal. Who would support me when this guy had been so bad and come back to God? Why hadn’t I set fire to something? Why hadn’t I at least broken into my school, or heisted a gum ball machine? I should’ve sinned more!!!

It was ludicrous. I actually wanted to have been worse than I already am. (Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’ve got quite a few warts. I’m not perfect. (Gasp!) I know, right?)

My point in this story is that all too often we glorify sin. How often do we love to reminisce about how bad we were, as if it were cool. “I did this….I did that.” That’s not only dangerous. It’s sinful itself.

Sin is ugly. It’s awful. It’s an affront against the good and loving God who constantly puts all of his energy into saving us from it. To glory in our unseemly past is to diminish our glorious future. So let’s all try to turn away from the evil we’ve done and focus on what is holy.

As St. Paul says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. Don’t forget to grab a FREE copy of my talk Writing Straight With Crooked Lines: How God Saves You Even When You’ve Been Really Bad. Just enter your name and email in the box at the top of the page.

 

005: Curveball – The Conversion of Taylor Marshall

catholic_FINAL_150This is a great conversion story. Dr. Taylor Marshall is the president and founder of the New St. Thomas Institute, but in a previous life he was an Episcopalian priest who found the Lord through a chance encounter with a baseball card. You heard me right…a baseball card.

Give it listen and don’t forget to please leave the show a rating! God bless!