Tag Archives: Jesus

Ep81 Good News



Irish shares some good news about the return of the Wrestling with God Show and the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions featuring Father Len.


Ep80 The Purpose of Prayer



Father Len explores two Bible stories about the purpose of prayer beginning with the time the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. This is a preview of episode 3 of the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded.”

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares a fun story about his experience with a Protestant minister and his wife who have a very different idea than Jesus about the purpose of prayer.
  • The purpose of prayer is not to ask God for help getting something as if God is the big Santa Claus in the sky.
  • We don’t pray to get something. We pray to become something.
  • “If your definition of prayer is to get something you want, you better be careful. You may become a very self-absorbed person and then call it religion.” – Father Len
  • We pray for the bread of life so that our lives become bread for other people. We hand on the bread of life to other people in the way that we live our lives.
  • Becoming the bread of life for other people requires persistent prayer, day after day, year after year.
  • The Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke refers to the forgiveness God gives us when our lives become a force of forgiveness and we free ourselves from all grudges and resentments.
  • Becoming a constant force of forgiveness isn’t easy and takes a lifetime of prayer.
  • Prayer is a type of hospitality.
  • The prayer life of the prophet Abraham, the father of religion and hospitality, was all about welcoming and praying for the life of other people, not for himself.
  • True prayer is not being concerned about yourself. True prayer is this hospitality where your prayer life feeds other people.
  • “You have a choice. When you offer hospitality to other people, God grants you greater life. When you only care for your own life, God will take away the little life you have.” – Father Len
  • Prayer is a constant lifelong dialogue with God about becoming holy.
  • Bible stories explored in this episode:
    • Book of Genesis 18:20-32
    • Gospel According to Luke 11:1-13

Ep79 The Religion of Jesus



Father Len explores the Bible story of a wealthy and powerful man and a bankrupt and outcast old woman. Both seeking healing from Jesus. The story reveals the essence of the religion of Jesus and puts our personal beliefs about religion on trial. This is a preview of episode 2 of the new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded.”

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Jesus pushes us to take religion beyond just believing that He is the Messiah and being a good person obeying moral laws.
  • Jesus dismisses laws in the Book of Leviticus that reject or marginalize people.
  • “If the best that you can say about your life is that you’re a good person who obeys all the moral laws, you’re boring and lack spiritual depth.” – Father Len
  • The Book of Wisdom tells us that God is about love, life, and healing. God rejoices in welcoming and loving all people.
  • Jesus gives us a test of religion. Do we want a religion that is about rules, regulations, and moral laws that causes us reject or marginalize some people? Or, do we want the religion of Jesus that accepts and loves all people unconditionally?
  • “Let your heart be broken when people are marginalized, rejected, or treated as if they’re dead. Believe in the way of Christ. Believe in life and unconditional love for everybody.” – Father Len
  • Bible stories explored in this episode:
    • Book of Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
    • Gospel According to Mark 5:21-43
  • Please prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions
  • We welcome your questions and comments;

Ep78 Future of WWG Show & How to Love like Christ



Irish explains why there hasn’t been a new WWG Show episode lately and Father Len unpacks three Bible stories about love and illustrates the traits God will help us develop, and we’ll surely need, if we are to love like Christ. This a preview of episode 1 of a new podcast from Wrestling with God Productions, featuring Father Len, titled “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded”.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • When Jesus began preaching love and pushing the boundaries of love to include loving all people unconditionally, the people didn’t like it. All they wanted to hear was God loves me and people like me.
  • God tells the prophet Jeremiah, people “will fight against you” when you preach unconditional love, but I will “form you into a wall of brass, a pillar of iron, a fortified wall” so “they shall not prevail against you.”
  • “If you call yourself a follower of God, you need to push yourself to try to love everyone.” – Father Len
  • “Some religious people say they want to hear the word of God, but only if it agrees with everything they think and believe already.” – Father Len
  • “When I die and stand before Christ, the question won’t be, does God love me? The question will be, did I love like Christ?” – Father Len
  • Bible stories examined in this episode:
    • Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
    • 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
    • Luke 4:21-30
  • “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded” is crafted from hundreds of hours of Father Len’s homilies and talks on faith, religion, and life recorded over the past eight years.
  • “Life Lessons from Jesus and the Church He Founded” is the first new podcast produced by Wrestling with God Productions, the organization founded by Irish with the mission of identifying extraordinary teachers of the Catholic Faith, people like Father Len, and publishing their teachings far and wide.
  • The new podcast delves into stories from the Bible. Stories that reveal God’s purpose for creating us and his intentions for our lives. Stories about God’s expectations for our relationship with him. Stories about what to worship and how to worship.
  • The intention for the new podcast is to help listeners grapple with the true purpose of life and deal with the messiness and mysteries, challenges and difficulties that this crazy life seems to throw at us all.
  • Please prayerfully consider supporting the mission of Wrestling with God Productions by making a financial donation here: GiveSendGo.com/WWGProductions
  • We welcome your questions and comments

Ep66 Curing Shame



Father Len shares his favorite method for the difficult and necessary job of curing shame.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Shame can control you and make your life and the lives of those around you miserable.
  • Shame is that voice inside your head that constantly tells you that you are worthless.
  • Self-esteem programs are not effective for curing shame.
  • You have to learn how to love yourself in order to cure shame.
  • The practice of self-compassion is the antidote to shame.
  • Father Len introduces his version of the St. Ignatius Daily Examen that he uses and recommends to cultivate self-compassion and conquer shame.
  • People who are controlled by shame are usually less compassionate.
  • People who are able to change the shaming voices in their heads are more likely to develop grit and determination and overcome failures.
  • Father Len demonstrates how he used the St. Ignatius Daily Examen to avoid shame and produce self-compassion and personal growth after being a “jerk” to a homeless man and his dog.
  • Father Len tells the story of Oprah Winfrey using a daily gratitude journal to help overcome the shame of being raped, having a child out of wedlock and to learn that it’s the simple things in life, not her money, that bring her joy.
  • “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
  • “What I Know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey
  • You can pray as much as you want, but it will be hard to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit if the loud voices of shame are playing in your head.
  • Shame is connected with low grade physical pain.
  • If you are controlled by shame, every failure reminds you what a piece of trash you are.
  • If you are controlled by self-compassion, every failure says I’m going to get better and better.

Ep59 Understanding the Language of God



Responding to a listener’s question about whether God’s teachings are black and white, Father Len explains why it’s difficult for us to fully understand the language of God’s love.

Highlights, Ideas and Wisdom

  • God’s morality and teachings are black and white and pure because God is love, without ego and without corruption.
  • Our interpretation of God’s morality and teachings is often wrong because it is viewed through the prisms of our egos and agendas.
  • Father Len illustrates the dangers of interpreting God’s word through ego by pointing out how wrong the Jews were in their interpretations of the Bible’s prophecies about Christ’s purpose on earth.
  • Jesus interprets morality and laws from the perspective of love.
  • Father Len points out that Jesus welcomed prostitutes and adulterers in his life knowing that prostitution and adultery are wrong because that’s what love does.
  • Love perfects us.
  • The Bible tells us that anyone who does not love and proclaims that they know God is a liar.
  • Our black and white view of morality often errs on the side of being harsh and judgmental, void of love.
  • Black and white morality can be very seductive because we can proclaim it to be justice, but without compassion it can be very wrong.
  • There are two kinds of moral extremes: black and white and relativism. Both are based a lot on ego.
  • Moral relativism is morality based solely on personal feelings and choice usually driven by ego or agenda.
  • Reacting to immoral behavior with love forces us to have empathy and compassion.
  • Father Len uses the Bible’s various perspectives on slavery to illustrate how God is constantly trying to help us evolve in our morality understanding we can’t always accept the whole truth all at once.
  • Fully understanding God’s language of love and morality is a lifelong process.

Ep58 The Big Mysteries of Christianity



Father Len and Irish grapple with the mystery of the three big events that are the foundation of Christianity: God taking on human flesh and living among us, God being tortured and killed by us, and God’s miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len explains why we should view these events as a whole, as one.
  • Father Len identifies three groups of Christians and their sensibilities: Christmas Christians, Good Friday Christians, and Easter Christians.
  • Christmas Christians love the idea of God becoming a human being and the practice of giving and receiving gifts as a way of showing appreciation for the gift of people in their lives.
  • God recognizes there’s a problem in creation and it’s us. We don’t realize that being a true human being means living a life of love. So God takes on human flesh to teach us the way of love.
  • Good Friday Christians see the brokenness in the world. They have a deep awareness of sin in the world. They recognize the fight between goodness and corruption and injustice, even in ourselves. They see and understand the need to “die” for what is right.
  • Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, believe that we can solve the problems of the world, on our own, with education and our intellect. Father Len explains why this is a big lie.
  • We have to be able to see sin and corruption in the world and realize that it’s not the world that needs to change, it’s us. We’re the ones that have to change.
  • Father Len uses the movie “The Help” to illustrate how Christ’s model for becoming a true human being and living a life of love actually works.
  • The struggle against injustice and oppression and dying to our ego purifies the soul. It gets us ready to enter the kingdom of God here and now.
  • Christ’s resurrection from the dead is not just a singular event. It represents a whole way of life that begins for us right here and now and is fulfilled in heaven when we die.
  • If Christ didn’t die, he couldn’t have been resurrected.
  • Resurrection for us is not returning back to our former life. That’s resuscitation. That’s continuing to live like zombies with half a conscience.
  • The resurrection for us is a whole new life. It’s Christ putting his life in our hearts. It’s freedom from all the shame and darkness in the world. It’s so extreme that in the early church those who were resurrected were called “new persons.”
  • Easter Christians live in the resurrection. Their hope is in them and beyond them. They live with love and joy inside them that can’t be taken away because they’ve died to anger and fear.
  • “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • All our sins begin on the inside, in our hearts.
  • Our modern culture tells us that the problems in the world are outside of us. Therapists believe this is the result of a generation raised with the idea that self-esteem is all important. A generation constantly told, “you’re smart, you’re good, you’re beautiful, you’re special, you’re a winner, you can’t be the problem.”
  • If you’re not participating in the resurrection, right here and now, why do you think that you’ll be participating in it in heaven? If you spend your whole life denying your own brokenness, not becoming something new, better, and connected, what makes you think that you will be ready for heaven?

Ep56 Bible Symbols Revealed and Explained-Part 2 Trees



Father Len reveals that trees are symbols for God and human beings and trees represent the most important choices we make in life.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Trees are the third most common thing mentioned in the Bible.
  • God loves trees and gives them a ring every year on their birthdays.
  • Trees are places where human beings choose to worship or reject God.
  • There is a tree present at every major event in the Bible.
  • Every major character in the Bible is associated with a type of tree.
  • The only thing Jesus ever harmed was a tree that produced no fruit.
  • The Bible begins and ends with the “tree of life” and trees are present throughout the Bible.
  • The story of human history is choosing between two trees: the tree of life and the tree of good and selfishness.
  • There are two types of food. One gives us physical life. The other gives us spiritual life.
  • If we eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness we are cut off from the covenant with God and disconnected from the source of life.
  • The temptation to eat the fruit of the tree of good and selfishness is the promise of the power to define what is good and evil for ourselves rather than God.
  • We don’t have to earn the fruit from the tree of life. God gives it freely to us.
  • When anybody makes a commitment to God in the Bible there’s always a tree, an altar, and water present.
  • The tree of good and selfishness often appears in the form of an Idol in the Bible. The Idol is a false tree we create to define our own version of morality.
  • The Hebrews called idols “luxuriant trees” representing the pursuit of power, sex, and money for happiness. The Hebrew letters for “luxuriant tree” cleverly spell Garden of Eden backwards.
  • Addictions always promise happiness, but in the end leave us destroyed.
  • Trees in the Bible symbolize commitments and altars represent the rituals around the commitments.
  • The spiritual life in the Bible is pictured as a tree that must push its roots down deep to find the water of life necessary to produce good fruit in all seasons of life.
  • Jesus’ cross is called a tree in the Bible representing the tree of life. That’s why there is one cross next to or above the altar in every Catholic Church. It’s a reminder of the tree we should be eating from each day for eternal life.

Ep55 What Is Salvation?



Father Len reveals the meaning of the salvation God seeks for all of us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Salvation is about freedom and belonging and being saved from harm.
  • Freedom doesn’t mean doing whatever selfish thing you want to do. That’s merely a form of slavery to the ego.
  • Salvation is freedom to be with and for others. It’s a whole lot of dying to your ego.
  • Salvation is not just about me being free. It’s about me and everybody else becoming free. I’m not free unless you’re free.
  • There is an unease in human beings, an innate desire to escape from freedom. Sometimes being confined is less fearful than being loosed. Being restricted can feel better than being free because freedom means choices and choices and choices. And, choices can be difficult.
  • Human beings really want freedom and structure. Structure that makes it possible for us to be free and at the same time feel safe.
  • “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm
  • Freedom without structure is just chaos. It’s emptiness.
  • The Catholic Mass is a prayer for the order in the kingdom of God, not the order created by human structures or capricious living.
  • There’s always this tug-of-war in the human heart between freedom and safety, between freedom and structure, between chaos and order.
  • Salvation is just another word for freedom, but it’s freedom with structure.
  • Totalitarian lifestyles and their appeal are created by the fear of freedom without structure.
  • God gives us the law to grant us freedom with structure that liberates our spirit for the service of love and community.
  • The ultimate place of freedom and order is heaven where everyone is completely free, but not self-absorbed.
  • Jesus came to show us the way to salvation; freedom from our ultimate enemies of hate, injustice, selfishness, and ego.
  • There is no such thing as personal salvation. Salvation is always tied to belonging to a family and community and everyone in the family and community being free.
  • Salvation is a mix of freedom, structure, responsibility, and belonging.
  • Catholics believe three things are needed for salvation.
    • Repentance: leaving our old life and slavery to our sins behind.
    • Trust and faith in God.
    • Baptism and the new life it brings.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does God save an individual. God always saves a community.

Ep46 Interpreting and Understanding the Bible



Father Len reveals the obstacles to accurately interpreting and fully understanding the Bible and what it takes to overcome these hurdles.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len shares a fun study about how people rate their driving abilities to illustrate the effect of ego on how we see ourselves and view the world.
  • Human beings believe their opinions and decisions are rational, but studies reveal they are most often based on personal desires.
  • It takes great humility and freedom from ego for us to accurately see ourselves.
  • In spite of more than 400 detailed prophecies in the Bible about the coming of the Christ, very few people showed up for the birth of Jesus.
  • Father Len explains why shepherds and Zoroastrian priests were the only people to go to Bethlehem to honor and celebrate the birth of Christ.
  • For all eternity, God desired to take on human form to teach us how to be true human beings. Ironically, the great desire of human beings is to become godlike, chasing power and wealth and distance from the problems of fellow humans.
  • In spite of constant study of the Messiah prophecies and authoring a complicated compilation of these prophecies, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essene monks missed the coming of Christ because they were highly judgmental and filled with hate.
  • If you read the Bible through the lens of your own ego, prejudice and social position, you’re always going to come up with a wrong interpretation.
  • Hatred, selfishness, and ego blind us from finding God even if we memorize and are able to quote the Bible.
  • The Bible warns us of false prophets, those who interpret Scripture through their own agenda.
  • The “Left Behind” series of books by Tim LaHaye is an example of false prophecies.
  • Sincere desire to discover truth, humility, and love are essential to accurately interpreting the Bible.
  • It takes years to gain humility and the self-awareness to recognize how often we interpret the world from our own perspective and we’re not always right.
  • “Awareness” by Anthony De Mello