Deck of Cards Random Scripture Selection System (DCR3S)

Ever feeling the itch to read the Word, but don’t know where in the great big beautiful Book to start? Ever get a little suspicious of yourself favoring certain parts of the Bible while avoiding others and want to take your own will out of the equation to make room for His? That’s been me more than once, especially when in between my cover-to-cover reading cycles, so being the nerdy solitaire player that I am, I whipped up this little card game version of “casting lots” to help me more randomly and objectively select a Scripture reading when feeling the need to.

Step 1: making/designing the cards

a standard 52 card deck with jokers is used

a book of the Bible is written on the top and another is written on the bottom, so that whichever one is not upside down when you draw the card is the one you will read from. the list below shows how I marked my books and pictures you can paste on your cards for more relevant decoration:

joker 1 — Job/Revelation/open book, joker 2 — Joshua/Proverbs/trumpet, ace of diamonds — Daniel/Ezekiel/skull, two of diamonds — Baruch/Zephaniah/music notes, three of diamonds — Obadiah/Jude/angel, four of diamonds — 1 John/Colossians/church, five of diamonds — 1 Peter/2 Peter/crosier or staff, six of diamonds — 2 John/3 John/quill, seven of diamonds — Ephesians/Jonah/whale, eight of diamonds — Galatians/James/horse with bit, nine of diamonds — Philemon /Jude/sword, ten of diamonds — Ruth/Amos/sandal, Jack of diamonds — Nehemiah/Ezra/brick, queen of diamonds — Esther/Ecclesiastes/crown, king of diamonds — 1 Maccabees/2 Maccabees/Hanukkah menorah, ace of hearts — Malachi/Colossians/star of David, two of hearts — Habakkuk/Hagaii/eye, three of hearts — Micah/Nahum/vineyard, four of hearts — Titus/Joel/holy name of Jesus monogram (IHS), five of hearts — 1 Thessalonians/2 Thessalonians/dove, six of hearts — 1 Timothy/2 Timothy/triangle, seven of hearts — 1 John/Philippians/laurel wreath, eight of hearts — Jonah/Ruth/boat, nine of hearts — Song of Solomon/Lamentations /palm tree, ten of hearts — 1 Peter/2 Peter/mitre or rock, Jack of hearts — Amos/Song of Solomon/lily, queen of hearts — Baruch/Ruth/barley, king of hearts — Philippians/James/flame, ace of clubs — Genesis/Exodus/bitten apple, two of clubs — 1 Kings/2 Kings/scepter, three of clubs — 1 Chronicles/2 Chronicles/throne, four of clubs — 1 Corinthians/2 Corinthians/scroll, five of clubs — Isaiah/Jeremiah/crown of thorns, six of clubs — Mark/Acts/cross, seven of clubs — Luke/John/chalice, eight of clubs — Revelation/Psalms/scarred lamb, nine of clubs — Isaiah/Jeremiah/lion and lamb, ten of clubs — Psalms/Matthew/lyre, Jack of clubs — Leviticus/Hebrews/burnt offering, queen of clubs — Deuteronomy/Numbers/donkey, king of clubs — 1 Samuel/2 Samuel/sling and stones, ace of spades — Sirach/Wisdom /arched rainbow, two of spades — 1 Maccabees/2 Maccabees/mountain, three of spades — Tobit/Judith/fish, four of spades — 1 Kings/2 Kings/bread, five of spades — Job/Ecclesiastes/wine, six of spades — Romans/Joshua/tower, seven of spades — Judith/Zechariah/gem, eight of spades — Tobit/Hosea/coins, nine of spades — Matthew/Luke/ox, ten of spades — Mark /John/eagle, Jack of spades — Genesis/Acts/fig leaf, queen of spades — Deuteronomy/2 Kings/Ten Commandments tablets, king of spades — Exodus/Judges/parted sea.

underline, or write in a different color, the books that have less than ten chapters. you will find these books on all the red cards except the royal diamonds (10, J, Q, K) and diamonds that are multiples of three. mark a cross or asterisk next to each book that has only one chapter. these are on the three, six and nine of diamonds. (or you can write these books in a different color than the rest.) all the other books can be left in regular print.

on the royal cards (A, J, Q, K) mark the following digits next to the letter on both top and bottom: A — 1, J — 03, Q — 01, K — 07. Leave the ten cards as they are. mark the jokers with a zero next to their symbol in each corner.

Step 2: using the cards to select a Scripture passage

pray to the Holy Spirit and ask the intercession of His spouse the Virgin Mary, then shuffle the cards. draw a card for the book. the one not upside down will be the one you read.

if the book has only one chapter, marked by a cross or asterisk, just read the whole book.

if the book has less than ten chapters (underlined), draw one card for one digit. the number on the card will be the chapter you read. if you draw a ten, draw again. royal cards will be the number written by their letter.

if the book has less than a hundred chapters (all the rest except Psalms), draw two digits’ worth of cards. Jack has two digits “03”, so that card will be chapter 3. the joker has one digit “0”, and the five card has one digit “5”, so those two cards will be the fifth chapter. ace has one digit “1” and the three card has one digit “3”, so those two cards will be the thirteenth chapter. the ten card has two digits “10”, so that card will be the tenth chapter.

if the book is Esther, then you should regard the chapter number as an ordinal number and drawing the number one will be the first chapter, which in some translations will be chapter “A” rather than chapter “1”.

If the book is Psalms, draw three digits’ worth of cards as explained above. joker “0”, three “3” and ace “1”, will be 31. joker “0”, ace “1” and joker “0”, will be 10. joker “0” and ten “10” will also be 10. ace “1” and Jack “03”, will be 103.

if the number doesn’t make sense, draw again until it does.

if the chapter feels too long, draw two digits’ worth of cards (or three digits for chapters with a hundred or more verses) for the verse, then read ten verses or the rest of the chapter starting with that verse.

if you are using an unmarked deck of cards, you can draw two digits and use that as an ordinal number to find the book. number 11 would be the 11th book of the Bible.

trust God’s Word in the passage you are led to, even if it doesn’t seem like what you think you need to hear.

The Fearless Fancies of Grace N Pax

Meet my universal (Catholic) miracles in the stories linked below. Spooky and chilly and faith-affirming. More stories to come, so be sure to revisit this post from time to time.

Countess Van Henning

Van Henning’s Daughter

Son of Van Henning

Castle Van Henning

The Heart of Van Henning

The Faith of Van Henning

La Pantumana

Hope

Friends of Hope

God’s Gothic Princess

Legacy of Hope

“Religion” in the Bible

Recently I have been spending a lot more time conversing with non-Catholic Christians than I did in my previous years as a Catholic on similarities and differences and the state of ecumenism in general. I have found in this experience that there are more than you think among the more kind and reasonable folks who are willing to talk and listen, but as you might imagine, still a good few are very much one-sided and show no interest in understanding another point of view. This can be especially true of the preacher types who have been wrung through a lot of anti-Catholic programming by multiple instructors in their version of seminary, and whose ego that they may or may not be aware they have does not allow for the possibility that they don’t know or understand quite as much as their degrees and research make them think they do.

One favorite dead horse these individuals love to keep beating in multiple sermons in a surprisingly short period of time is the idea that “God hates religion” (a real life quote from one such character who really won’t let it go, and really harsh language I might add, since it should be well known that “God is love.” 1 John 4:8.) By now, I’ve become really fed up with this theme and the alienation of Catholic visitors in the congregation that results from blind aggression like this, so I thought I’d pound out a little “sermon” of my own here and get my word in edgewise, or rather I should say God’s Word.

Firstly, it should be noted that you can read the whole Bible cover to cover (and I have, BTW), and you will never read a verse where God says He hates or even disapproves of “religion”. In most translations, you will only even find the word “religion” in one passage, James 1:26-27, and it is a very positive description:

“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:26-27 RSVCE

You can look up this same passage in multiple non-Catholic translations of the Bible (here for example) , but even the most anti-Catholic translators can’t avoid using the word “religion” at least once, giving clear evidence that this is definitely the word God chose to use for how we are to practice the Faith.

Secondly, it should be well remembered by anyone who has been through the Bible that God INVENTED religion, rituals, beautiful and expensively made places of worship, and holy days/feasts/holidays. In the Torah/Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), for example, God commands and dictates to Moses the building of the tabernacle: a luxurious tent made with fine fabrics and dyes as well as gold and other precious metals (not wood and concrete and plaster), and also orders very specific and detailed rituals for sacrifices and other ceremonies that include sprinkling rites and vestments and the “Bread of the Presence”. For example:

“And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it to the tent of meeting; and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord which is in the tent of meeting, and the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the door of the tent of meeting.” Leviticus 4:5-7 RSVCE

And those who are about to say that the Old Testament no longer matters and does not reflect God’s will for us now, should hold their tongues, because God is unchanging and would not set a clear principle then, only to completely reject that principle later and demand the totally opposite standard in a way that betrays His Word from before. In fact, Jesus says:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” Matthew 5:17 RSVCE

That is why, in the Catholic Church, you will see the same worship God asked of us in the beginning, not abolished, but fulfilled and celebrated in a New Testament way.

Lastly, I would beg you to consider the motive for this argument and other attempts to put down Catholics as not true Christians, even though we are the original Christians and invented the word that you use today. (You’re welcome.) In Jesus’s last words to the Father before His death and resurrection He prays:

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and Thou in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:20-23 RSVCE

The apostle Paul also calls for unity in the Church here, and in various verses throughout the New Testament:

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” Philippians 1:27 RSVCE

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2 RSVCE

Seeing how His followers being “one” with each other and working together for the salvation of the world is so important to the heart of the Lord Jesus, I plead with you to heed His cry. Put aside the fighting, the assumptions, the need to be right and smarter than all your other brothers and sisters, and past grudges. Let us be separated brethren no longer, but a family in love with one another and in love with the Lord. Let us celebrate His Grace and His Word together in peace as we continue to hear each other out in gentleness and humility.

“Come now, let us reason together” Isaiah 1:18a RSVCE

The “Marvel of God’s Grace” series by Grace N Pax

After changing Google accounts, here are the new editions of my Marvel fan fiction stories:

The Real Avengers Endgame Ending

Agent Nunja of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Team Awesome-Nunja and Heroes Inc. versus Villains Inc.

Lady-Knight America

AGENT Catholic OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dr. Prophet: The Exile

Dr. Prophet and the Marian Alliance versus the Coven of the Beast

Agent DARK of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Fellowship of the Iron Maid vs. the Chosen Ones

The Rogers Family vs. the Shmidt Family

Enjoy!

The Bible Woman Trilogy

Below are the links to my Bible Woman Trilogy. I was always a really big fan of Bibleman growing up, so I created Bible Woman to be his perfect counterpart shortly after coming into the Church. Bibleman serves as an influential image of the power of God’s Word and the need for devotion to Scripture to non-Catholic Christians, boys, elementary and junior high schoolers (and more recently the preschool and kindergarten crowd too), and the southern half of the U.S., so I designed Bible Woman to serve the same purpose for Catholic Christians, girls, high school and college students and adults, and the northern half of the U.S.. Hailing from the fictional town of Quartzville, South Dakota, this biblically themed heroine fights different demon-monsters representing various sins and temptations that threaten young people and all of us with memorized Scriptures like Jesus did in Matthew 4, and with the armor of God in Ephesians 6. I hope you enjoy the story, and consider giving the Bibleman show a try as well (we’re all kids at heart), which is actually mostly Catholic-friendly as far as I can tell. The three Bible Woman books are linked below:

Bible Woman

Bible Woman II

Bible Woman III

Bible Woman’s Recommended Memory Verses

God bless you!

Announcement of “Friend” Bible Study

This Bible study will actually be starting on St. Valentine’s Day, 2023.

What is the highest and most important of human relationships? In our overly-sexual culture, we are most likely to answer “marriage” or we might answer “love”, a word that has all too often become synonymous almost exclusively with sexual attraction and attachment. After all, the Bible clearly places an extremely high value on the institution of marriage: the first human relationship was a marriage (Genesis 2:18-24), and the book of Song of Solomon is all about marriage. Our relationship with the Lord is also compared to marriage in several very key passages of Scripture (Isaiah 54:4-8, Hosea chapters 1-3, Ephesians 5:21-33, Revelation 21:9-11, and more.) as well as throughout the tradition of the Church. Science and logic also affirm the importance of marriage as it is vital to continuing the human race.

However, when it comes to defining moments in Scripture, especially the gospels and more specifically the words of Jesus Himself, the relationship label He uses to describe us is “friend”:

When Jesus defines “Greater love has no man than this….”:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:12-13 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

He doesn’t say spouse, parent, child, brother, “lover”, but friend. It’s an interesting word choice for those of us who have fallen into little cultural traps like when we say things such as “Oh, we’re just friends.” or “We’re nothing more than friends.” in a way that intentionally or unintentionally puts down a friendship that isn’t also a sexual relationship, because it’s a non-sexual relationship.

Again, when Jesus goes on to define what He calls us….:

“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.”

John 15:14-17 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

It makes sense too, when you consider from a logical and psychological approach too, what category every other healthy human relationship can and should fall under: it’s friendship. Spouses and potential spouses who are doing it right and enjoy a healthy relationship of true love as a result, will not hesitate to use the term “best friend” to describe the other person, whether or not any other labels enter into or remain in the picture. After all, when Scripture describes the nature of how a husband loves his wife….:

“Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'”

Ephesians 5:28-31, quoting Genesis 2:24 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

On the other hand, when Scripture describes how a friend loves his friend….:

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul,….”

Deuteronomy 13:6 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

And again here:

“When he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

And here:

“And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

1 Samuel 20:17 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

Last I checked, the value of the soul outweighs the value of the body, so if the Bible is comparing the way friends are meant to love each other to the way we love our own souls and the way spouses are meant to love each other to the way we love our own bodies, it sounds here like the Bible is putting the love of friends above the love of spouses. Again, we see an interesting word choice here. (If spouses are friends, though, and not just spouses, they won’t be missing anything either.)

Which seems to reflect another interesting verse here, where David mourns the death of his friend Jonathan:

“I am distressed for you, my brother Johnathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

2 Samuel 1:26 RSVCE (Emphasis mine.)

Consider also how in Heaven, all of us will be friends only, even those of us who were married or discerning marriage on earth. (Matthew 22:30) No one should dare suggest that we will love each other less in the Kingdom of the Lord, but rather it is there that our love will at last be made perfect.

I truly believe that if the rest of the world were to understand the value of friends and what it means to be a friend, people would not be afraid of being friends only, or exclusively friends or nothing else besides friends, and that all human relationships would be healthier and happier because we would be friends first, both in order and priority. We would nail down the most important part first before adding on other stuff, and we would also not be so disappointed if it were left at that, because we’d already be enjoying the most important part.

To this end, I am proposing a “FRIEND Bible Study” to my Facebook Bible Group, that will start in September of this year. In it, we will look at the value Scripture places on friendship, what the Bible means for friendship to be like, and the true love Scripture calls us to provide for our friends. The Bible study will also be copied to the document linked above if you don’t or are unable to follow my Bible Group on Facebook. If you would like to participate and prepare ahead of time for this Bible study, you can search “friend” in your concordance (biblegateway.com is an excellent free and online concordance.) and reflect on the listed passages with Bible Study Questionnaire #11:

  1. What is the Bible saying about “friend” in this passage?
  2. Is this passage’s teaching on “friend” being presented as a command, example, promise, statement/proverb, or warning?
  3. What is the lesson intended for us in this Scripture’s teaching on “friend”?
  4. How can I apply this lesson to my life?
  5. Do I know someone who can benefit from this teaching?

God bless you!

The Goal is the Soul

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”

Luke 10:20 RSVCE

When considering the subject of spiritual warfare, it is easy to get caught up in the supernatural and unusual nature of the cases looked at, the “oohs and ahs”. After watching “The Exorcist” for the first time and discussing the subject with a good friend, I was inspired to meditate further on the subject. In “The Exorcist”, the two priests battling for the young girl being held captive are surprisingly less interested in the “stunts” being “performed” and far more concerned with the girl’s freedom and well-being as a person. My friend, who is so much like the Lord Jesus, was also surprisingly less interested in the supernatural details of my stories and more concerned with the subjects’ souls as individual people. These reactions led me to consider the question “What does Jesus see He looks at a person who has been subjected to satanic culture or demonic possession?”

As God, Jesus is more mature and focused on what’s truly important than we are as materialistic people. Despite the dramatic insults to His authority as Lord, Jesus’ Sacred Heart sees past the ugliness and the drama. Jesus’ Heart is madly in love with each and every soul and all He wants is to be able to give that soul His love, His healing, and His blessing. A gem that has been dropped in mud does not cease to be precious, however ugly the mud.

The conclusion of my little meditation is that I believe Jesus is challenging me, and all Christians who take an interest in the supernatural, to not be distracted by “stunts” and “performances” on the part of the devil, but to focus on the true mission: — which remains the same no matter how many or how few dramatic and exciting details are involved in the story — that “the goal is the soul”. As the Savior’s hands and feet, we must resist any attempts of the devil to distract us with “oohs and ahs” and pattern our hearts after His, by concerning ourselves with befriending and healing souls instead. No matter the context, we must treasure the human dignity of each soul and regard the particular evangelization scenario the same as any other evangelization scenario. In spite of how angry we may be — and rightly so — at the ugly offenses made against our Lord and others, or the dramatic nature of the story, our concern should be with the person that our Lord desperately loves: the prize, rather than the battle or the glory. Instead of focusing on the devil and giving him glory and attention by doing so, let’s love the people like Jesus does, who cares more about their well-being than about His own reputation or popularity.

I thank God for His grace, and I thank God for my friend. Thank You, Jesus!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 RSVCE