Monday, October 29, 2012

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader


 As kids we all played follow the leader. I know I had fun playing it. Well, I think that is because I was always the leader to be honest.  As adults we play it also. We may not realize we are but we do. We follow many things and many people at times.  We become followers of this world and not a follower of Jesus. I am not saying that we do not follow Him from time to time but let’s be honest in what or who we truly follow. We may not follow anything or anyone but ourselves as well. We allow our wants and desires to lead us in our lives. 

    I admit that I follow myself more then Jesus in areas of my life. Part is that I am a control freak. Being a control freak helps with not following others down paths that I do not want to go down but, it also puts up blocks for areas where Jesus is trying to lead me. I need to let go and let Jesus lead. Easier said then done but it is a reality of the life I want to be a part of. 

     What or Who do you follow? Is it a celebrity? Money? Power? Job? Drugs? Alcohol? Pleasure? All of those things can be what leads us in our lives. We will do anything or go anywhere it is. We do not question what it or they say and we follow whatever path it takes us to. Some of these things are good for us but it is when we take away the leadership from Jesus and hand it over to this world. It can be from the simple things like wearing something only because you saw a celebrity wear it to doing anything to get to the top of your business so you can have money and power. 

      When we let Jesus lead us less and less we become more focused on ourselves and of this physical world. This pulls us away and our relationship with Jesus suffers and then our faith will start to suffer as well. When we allow Jesus to be our leader we follow Him into a deeper faith and relationship. The deeper we go with Jesus the stronger the focus on our spiritual life comes in focus. We start to do less for ourselves and more for Jesus. Jesus will not lead you into anything that is not good for you. He may lead you down some paths that you would never have thought of for yourself. 

     Once you identify who or what you lead everyday then you will be able to start to change that. You may find that where Jesus leads you, you are right where you wanted to be anyway. He is not a tyrant, that will dictate to you where to go but when you follow Him you will follow what is in the depths of your soul. Following Jesus will give you a drive and purpose that will last longer then just this life but for the everlasting life. 


Until tomorrow, God Bless, and be a follower of Jesus. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Knocking

Knocking

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” ~Revelation 3:20



 Today was the full day retreat and one thing that was said a lot today was that Jesus will not do anything unless you open yourself and that He will wait for us. I have seen this picture so many times and some people do not realize that there is no door nob on Jesus side of the door. He can not open it. Only the home owner can. 

      There is some comfort in that, Jesus will not act on His own and go against our Free Will. I have spoken about free will a bit in the blogs. I saw this image today and it has stayed with me all day. Before we open the door we can see who it is. Think about a time when you just opened the door and someone you rather not see is standing there. It is not the case with Jesus. We know that He is there waiting and knocking. He wants to come and dwell with us in our physical body, in our home and in our life. 

        In revelation He says to sit and dine. When we dine with someone it is a intimate thing. It is a personal time that is shared and as we learned in Matthew that it is the breaking of the bread Jesus is revealed. Jesus broke the bread in fellowship and when He asks to sit down and dine, He is calling us to be in a fellowship with Him and let Him dwell with us. 

        I know that I have not allowed Jesus full reign in me. I have some areas blocked and He has not been given the yes to enter. He will wait until He is asked. Everyone has areas where we do not let Jesus work. We invite Him in and then we restrict Him to work only where we gave Him “clearance”. 

       I am going to say that please focus on this image and see where you let Jesus enter and where you do not. What ares do you have that door locked up tight and no one can open? We all have them. Try and open one door at a time and allow Jesus to work in you and through you. 

Until tomorrow,  God Bless, and allow Jesus to walk into your soul and help you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Memories

Memories


  Tonight started a two day retreat. It is in the style of The Life in the Spirit that I first attended about 8 to 9 years ago. I walked away from that retreat with a deeper faith, a closer relationship to God, stronger prayer life and much more. I even gave talks and ran that retreat in the years that followed. Now, I am back after that time away and oddly enough back at the same church that I went to for the first LIS.

     It is somewhat different and the talks are good but I have to say that what I got tonight is the memories of a life that was. A life that lived for all the things I got from that retreat. There were some down times but mostly they were very blessed years for me. It has me desiring it all again. The format and talks are the same for this retreat and I know what each person puts into these talks. You open up your life and your faith journey, with the hopes that Jesus ,through you, is reaching people. In some way those memories are being relived again. 

     There is a reason for me to be there this weekend. We never know what we may gain or learn in and from a retreat. So far it is that sensation of being back where I belong. A life that has waited for me to rejoin it. It is a simple confirmation that I was just walking on the shoulder waiting to get back to the main road. 

      I know I will be writing more about this but for tonight there was not an over whelming tone that was to be written about for the blog. Just that simple notion of “ Remember the memories and embrace them because they are still part of who you are”. I needed to feel this and share it. I might have left the life but the life never left me. It was waiting for me. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and take time to smile at those faith memories. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Adoration


Adoration

"The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth,"
- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

Adoration is one of the blessings of the Catholic Church. It gives us a chance to sit and spend time with Jesus as the bread of life. We are able to sit, pray and talk with Jesus outside of the confines of the mass. Some people are lucky to have a parish that has adoration 24/7 and others may only offer it for few hours a week. Either way I highly recommend it. 

      When we take that extra time to sit and pray with Jesus it never goes unheard. Some people have a set time that they volunteer to sit in adoration so that Jesus is never alone. During adoration people may pray, read the bible, pray the rosary, or just sit in the peace and quite. Many people find solace in this time. You are removing all those external stimuli and are able to focus on the spiritual life. Some people need to do this to feel that deeper connection and use that extra time to find that personal relationship to Jesus. 

       When you are looking for that deep personal relationship with anyone you spend time with them and the deeper the bond starts to form. It is the same with Jesus. When you take that extra time to spend with Him the deeper the connection will be. Adoration is a great way to get that deeper connection with Him. Read His words as you sit with Him and His words will sink into your mind, heart and soul. 

    Unless you are a regular volunteer you can spend as much or as little time as you wish. If you are new try it for 15 min and see how it goes. You can increase as you go or set a goal for yourself. You will find it is easier then you think to be in adoration. Time will go fast. Think of how fast time flies when you are with your friends. Have this be the same. Jesus is always free to spend the time with you, you just have to find the time and make the time to spend with Him.

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and spend the time with Jesus today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Seeing Jesus

Seeing Jesus

“And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.” ~ Luke 24: 30-31

  In todays world we are always on the go and many times miss what is right in front of us. If we are lucky we see it before it disappears.  On the road to Emmaus the disciples walked with Jesus and did not know it was Him until He sat down with them and broke the bread and it is only then their eyes were open and they saw who He was. It was not because the disciples were to busy to see Him but it was that their eyes were spiritually closed to see who He was. 

      It is harder to see Jesus sometimes in the world today because not only are our spiritual eyes closed and our hearts are not open but it is because we do not take the time to really see what is before us. We are on the go from one place to another. We try and do multiple things at once and one or the other suffer because of it. As I write this I am seeing that I do need to not only pray in my car on my way to work but take that time before I leave to do this as well. It is something that calls for a better discipline. I should be more attentive in prayer then scattered because someone  just cut me off as I was in the middle of the Our Father. I am missing that 100% pay attention time because I am in a rush to start the day. 

      Have you ever been in a situation and you are all caught up in it and then after it is done you see how things fell into place, who was the biggest help, or how it all got done? We need to appreciate those things and people as it is all happening as well as after. You hear how people help during and accident and before you can thank them, they are gone. 

      There are times when we do not see Jesus in our suffering, in our pain, in our joys and in our success. It is not till after that we see Him and that He was there to help us during those situations. I know He was there when I was away from God. I didn’t see it then because my eyes and heart were shut to that spiritual side of my life. We need to be open to His word so we can see it play our before in this world today. Open to His power and presence here on Earth. In our daily lives and not just on Sundays at mass. 

        The disciples did not see Jesus because they thought He was gone and not to be seen again. It was not till He showed how He will be ever present that they saw Him. We have to start to take the time to see Jesus in the people around us. In their actions, their words and love we will see the face of Jesus. We are called to be His face to those  around us and to go out into the world and be His face. It is in the actions of service that people may see the face of Jesus in us. Some people may only get to experience Jesus  through us. Then maybe down the road they get that revelation of our Lord and they see that He was there acting through us that they may come to understand Jesus and His love and grace.  

           Jesus spoke to the disciples and they felt that fire in them but it was in His “actions” that they saw Jesus be revealed. We have to slow down and take the time to listen and see how Jesus is around us and also be the actions of Jesus here on earth. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and think how Jesus reveals Himself to you?

    

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Suffering

Suffering

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
 ~Romans 8:18

Life has it ups and downs and even at times can just have a normal even flow to it. When we have the highs we are doing great. Nothing seems to bother us and everything is great. When it is that normal even flow we just go with it all. Nothing major is going on and its a calm time.  Then something happens and you feel like the bottom dropped out and you are in that low stage. 

    Sometimes in the low of life comes suffering.  Suffering can come in many different forms. It may be the death of a loved one, an illness, loss of a job, ending of a relationship, etc... Suffering is a personal experience that only that person knows how they are feeling. We may all feel some of the same things but its not the same for everyone. We have to remember this. 

     When we are going through the times of suffering we have to try hard to remember that God is not doing this to us. He did not put all our names in a giant hat and picked out our names to send some suffering down to us. It is a random event that has happened to us and it is now something for us to handle. This is not an easy thing to take at first. We all get mad and ask God why? There are no answers to be honest. I asked it a lot over five years and the answer did not come and it was something that I had to come to terms with. Also, is there any answer that could make it ok anyway? I doubt it. 

     Suffering is not something that comes from something we did or did not do. It is not a response from God because we have sinned. There is no punishment from God that makes us suffer here on earth. We internalize suffering and we take it onto ourselves that “I” did something to deserve this. It again is not the case. When we do this we start down that path of not just suffering but also self deprecation and it makes it worse for us. 

      Suffering happens to the good and not so good people. It is hard when we are in that pain and we see people who do not do the right things be at the high points in their lives. We can not focus on this because all it will do is add to our pain. Bad things happen to good people. It is a fact of life and yes it is not fair. Life is not fair. I wish it was. 

      When we are suffering we need to ask for the strength to get through this time. Ask God to ease the suffering and to remove it from your life. Ask for that healing of all things, physical, mental and spiritual. Keep asking for it and keep working on yourself as well. We will not just get through the suffering when we do nothing to help. Get up and get moving. Try and find things that just make you smile some.  No, it will not be easy and yes those first times you smile and laugh you may feel that it was wrong because of what is going on. It is ok to start to live again and to find some joys. God does not want us to stay in that state of suffering but to find those joys in the world. 

     This world is full of suffering and sometimes it may feel that you get more then your fair share of it. Turn to those in your life to help with your suffering. Open yourself not to just God and Jesus but to the whole body of Christ. Remember Jesus knew first hand of suffering and so did His Mother, Mary. Pray to them and ask for their intercessions.  There is no simple quick fix when we are suffering. It has to run it course and we can either prolong the healing or work for the healing. 

      I have to say that I have not made growth in those times of highs in my life but it has been in those times of coming out of my lows that I have grown the most. Trust me I am not saying that it makes going through it easier but that there are graces after it. It can be a time of personal and spiritual growth. 

     Suffering is something that is a fact of the physical world. We have to pull from the spiritual and physical world to alleviate the suffering in our own lives. We are never alone in our suffering. God and Jesus is always there with us and for us. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and turn to those around you and mostly importantly to the Heavens when suffering is around you. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reconciliation

Reconciliation

“and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
[through him], whether those on earth or those in heaven.”
 ~ Colossians 1:20

It is amazing how two words that have the same action can have two very different images that comes to our minds when we hear those words. What I am referring to is Reconciliation and Confession. Maybe it is just me but those two words have different images but the action in both is the same. Confession seems to have a harsher image then that of reconciliation. I got that tonight when I went to Confession / Reconciliation. 

       When I always thought of confession I had that old image of me sitting in a chair with a bright light on me and someone drilling me on what I did. Even being on trial and waiting for you to confess everything you did so sentencing can be handed down on you. It really was not a pleasant image at all. It was more of the old school “ fire and brimstone” approach to keeping us in line. This idea carried into my adulthood and it caused more anxiety to go to “confession” then it really needed to be. I would go rarely and would be as quick as I could be. Make general statements and get out.  I was absolved but it just never felt right after. Not that I did not feel absolved but just the feeling of this is not what this is to be.  

       Then when I started to think of it as the Sacrament of Reconciliation that image of trial and bright light changed. It has become a way for me and all of us to turn  back to God and remove those things that block or hinder the path to Him.  Reconciliation has three parts to it. The first is conversion. Second is confession. Third is celebration.  The first part is the desire in us to turn from our sins and focus back onto God. We acknowledge the desire of our heart and soul to be back in focus with God. We then start that conversation of what caused us to stray and turn from God and the spiritual life to our own earthly desires. It is just a discussion with the priest who is standing in for Jesus. Then after is the celebration of a new slate. That we are a new creation because of the forgiveness of Jesus. It is a fresh start and a way to acknowledge we did turn our attention away from God and now here we are to acknowledge that in church along with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is an act of profession of what we believe. 

      I went tonight to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after about 7 years and as I stood on line the anxiety started to fade and a peace started to take over. I was ready to leave my sins behind so I can get fully back on the path to God. When the door opened I was ready and took my seat facing the priest. There is something easier when it is face to face for me.  It is just talking over what has gone wrong with a friend to me this way.  There is no pressure. Then the words come that takes my sins away and restores my soul to that new creation. I forgot how powerful that feels. 

       It is a blessing that I belong to a church that has this sacrament and that it is there for us to partake in. It feels like a huge stone has been lifted. For anyone who thinks that it is no big deal think of a time where you are holding something in or that you and someone you care about is at odds and you say sorry or speak about what has gone wrong. Then how did you feel after? Think of it as getting something off your chest and how much easier it is after. Sins weigh us down and when they have been released it makes the life we want easier to obtain. The grace of our God, Jesus and Holy Spirit resides in us and lifts us from despair of our sins so we may glorify Them.

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and may the graces of our forgiving God fall afresh on you. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roots

Roots

They are like a tree planted beside the watersthat stretches out its roots to the stream:It does not fear heat when it comes,its leaves stay green;In the year of drought it shows no distress,but still produces fruit.~ Jeremiah 17:8

Without roots, no plant or tree could survive. They would not be able to grow and bear fruit as well. The roots are where the plant or tree gets it nourishment, water, and keeps it grounded. Faith is very similar because it needs to have roots so it can survive as well. We need to nourish our faith so it too may grow and bear fruit. Also having roots for our faith, it will help it stay in place when the troubles and storms come our way. 

    Our faith needs to be nourished and when we have our roots planted deep in Jesus’ teachings, God’s word and the traditions of our religion, it will be. Roots search out for the things that will nourish the plant and will travels out in different directions to find it. We also need to do the same for our faith. Go out and find what nourishes it. Tap into those things or people that will help it grow. 

    What we need to understand is that there in not just one way to nourish our faith. There are many ways and you can draw from them all the time and even multiple times. There is not just one root of a tree that looks for the water and nourishment but many. If there was only one then it would not grow. It would be more of luck if it did because it is limiting it’s chances for growth. Now, with many roots it is increasing it’s chances of finding it. Try out a parish mission. Maybe look into a bible study program. Join a prayer group. Read the bible. Try different churches. Learn about the Saints. Pray the rosary. Read the catechism. There is so much out there for us to draw from. 

    When our faith is getting nourished by those things we have put our roots, it grows stronger. Have you ever been walking and you see in front of you the sidewalk all messed up?  Part of the sidewalk is lifted up because of the roots from the tree by it. That is the power of roots. It has the strength to move those things blocking it from getting the nourishment it needs. When our faith is strengthened and grows it forces those blockages that are in our way. We are able to move the doubts away and move on. When hard times or a storm come we are able to get though it better when we have our roots planted in the truth. We are able to draw from our roots and get nourished by what we have learned and gained from the growth. Yes, we may get bent in a new direction, even snap in some areas but we still can hold on because of our roots. 

    Not all of our roots will find that nourishment and sometimes they may find some things that do not nourish but that is where discernment comes into play. Everything is not always good for our own personal  faith and you have to know when to cut off that root so others may grow in its place. Only you know what is helping your faith grow and produce fruit. 

     Once that seed of faith is planted in us, it takes root. We have to make sure that we are taking care of our faith so it will grow and produce fruit. When  our faith produces fruit it allows others to be nourished and use the seeds from that fruit to grow in them as well. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and let the roots of your faith grow out and deep. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reflection


Reflection

As face mirrors face in water, so the heart reflects the person ~Proverbs 27:19


 The reflection of who we truly  are can be found in our hearts. God knows what is in our hearts at all times. There is no fooling Him. We may be able to fool those around us and even ourselves at times but not God. With each beat of the heart we have the chance to make sure that what our actions and words say about us is a true reflection of what is in our heart.


      There are times where we will mask what is in our hearts. We do this because if we did we would not be charitable to our fellow brothers or sisters in Christ. We maybe upset, angry, judgmental, or in pain. We will need to ask God for help in taking these from our hearts and make them clean of ill will. This is hard, I will not lie. It is easier to hold onto them then letting them go sometimes. Our actions are a major part here. This is not a time when our actions need to reflect those earthly feelings  but it is the heavenly and spiritual side of Christ in us that needs to shine through. 

      When you see your reflection in the mirror each day who do you see? Do you just see a man or a women or do you see a son or daughter of God? Do you see just your relationships to those close to you or a relationship as a brother or sister in Christ? We are part of the greater good. There is a connection with the person you see in the mirror and your fellow brother and sisters in Christ. When we see this there is a action that needs to go along with it. Just as Christ came to serve we are to serve our brothers and sisters. You would do that for your own family and we are all part of the family of God.  

       There is another aspect to our reflection of who we think we are and Gods reflection on who we are. I know for me I am more critical on myself and I think God see’s a different part. He see’s someone who is trying and is working to do better (at least I hope that is what He see’s). He knows what our real feelings are and knows the intent behind our actions. He knows if we are doing good to just do good or because we want something for it. I think He cares more on the why you do things vs actions. If you are feeding the poor because you feel that is what we are all called to do vs feeding them to get our picture taken and be honored. The same action is being done but it is what in our hearts that are different. 

       We need to decide what kind of person we want to be. It is our choice to be whoever we want to be. I want to be that “good son to God”, “good brother to Christ”, “man of faith”, and  “man of action”. That is what I want my outward reflection to be because that is what I want my heart to be. It is a daily quest for all of us to be and reflect who we are in the eyes of God. Think and pray on what do you want to reflect into the world. Remember we can reflect the light of Christ here on earth to those who are in darkness, We are called to do this. It is part of being a child of God. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and reflect who you are and be that light of Christ. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Praying

Praying

"Pray without ceasing."

1 Thessalonians 5:17

   What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”? It is nonstop praying. Pray in all things. The good times and the bad times and everything in between. Some prayers are for a specific thing or person and other are more general. It can be a formal prayer or as I say “pray as you say” prayer. Every prayer is heard and answered in one way or another. We need to listen and watch for the reply and prepare ourselves for those answers. We may not like the answers we get at times but like in yesterdays blog, we have to take a step back and see the whole picture and hope we can then understand. 

   I think it is safe to say that we are good to remember to pray when things are not going well. That when we are in the middle of that storm in our lives we are quick to put our hands together and pray. What are you asking for during that time of despair? This is where I must say I fall short. I can send what I want or need in that prayer request to God but not so good with adding the “let your will be done” part. Of course when someone is sick, we ask for them to be healed. How could we not? But, do we add heal them how You need to God? Let your will be done? I know I do not. It is hard to let that come from my lips. It is not that if I say that they will not be healed or suffer less but it is saying “ God, you know more then I do and You know what is best”. As I shared before that my mother passed away when I was 33 and it was a very dark time in my life. It took some time for me to say “ Thank You God that she did not suffer”. Even now at this moment that is hard to without getting all choked up. But, that is my only solace in that. The way I kind of get around it in my head is that I am asking first that they are healed and then secondly they are not suffering and then add let it be Your will. It is not giving up but turning it over to God. 

    We still should be praying during those times when things are going well for us. Give up prayers of “ Thanksgiving”. Thank God for working in you and in your life. Offer up prayers for those who are around you that are having great things as well. Pray for continued growth and progress in your life. Acknowledge all those blessings in your life. It is just like sending a Thank You card after receiving a gift. 

    For most of us it is a mix of prayers of Thanksgiving and prayers from the storm that we can send up to God daily. When we are in the storm we need to look for those areas where things are going well for us or even for those around us. It may be hard to find those good things when we are suffering but find at least one thing you are thankful for. It can be as simple as the sun was shining. It is those little things that help us during those hard times. The same when things are going well, offer up your prayers for others that are in need.  Everything is not just black and white when it comes to our lives. There are plenty of colors that God adds to our lives.

     There is a prayer for everything on the internet. You will be able to find any kind of formal prayer out there. This is a great thing for people who have a hard time trying to put words to express how they are feeling. Same with there is a Saint prayer for just about everything as well. The resources are out there for us to use. Keep the prayers you use so you can share them with others when they are in need. There are times that I find it is hard to get into that prayerful area. When this happens I use the formal prayers to get me started. To ease into praying. I find it really helps. 
     The “pray as you say” prayers are just those times when you are talking to God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Mary or the saints. You are talking about what is going on in your life and asking for the guidance, the graces, the healing, etc.. This is the way I pray the most. I feel the most comfortable in this way. When I do this I also feel that I am being more direct in my prayers. I am able to share exactly what I have in my heart. Even though God knows what is in my heart. Sometimes when we are using this kind of prayer we reveal other things to ourselves. We are able to see more of what is going on and feeling. There are no set rules. 

      There are many levels of prayer out there. Explore them all. There are many opportunities we get to use prayers, so why not try different ways. Pray without ceasing is not as hard as we think. In all areas of our lives we can offer up prayers of both Thanksgiving and Healing. It can be from our jobs, family, friends, relationships, sickness, health, etc... Prayers are endless.  

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and keep that pray life alive each day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Taking a Step Back


Taking a Step Back


There are times that we need to “ take a step back” , take and breath and pray or talk to God. We can get so wrapped up and things are hectic and before we know it we feel that we are about to lose it all. Think like you are on the edge of a cliff and if you continue on with how things are you are going to fall off. By taking a step back we are able to be safe and more secure. 

   When you take that step back from any situation you are calming the situation and will be able to see things clear up. This is the perfect time to ask for God to help give you strength so you are able to stand and not fall off the cliff and into despair. Of course it is better to ask for God to enter into your heart and mind before you are at the edge of the cliff but sometimes we just do not realize that it has gotten to that point. 

   We all try and handle things on our own from time to time, well for me it is most of the time. I am starting to ask God to intervene before I get to the cliffs edge. When we are suffering or going through hard times we need to take that step back so we might be able to see the big picture. In the middle of suffering it is hard to see God at times and we think He just is not there. When we take that step back we might just get that glimpse of Him being there and trying to give us the grace that we need. 

     Think about a time when you need to write something for your job or school and the TV is on, radio is on, dog is barking, people are talking to you, the phone is going off, the computer keeps updating emails and you can not focus. What do you do? You either move to a quieter area of things start to get turned off. You are scaling down all things around you. You are taking that step back to where none of that was on. You are now able to focus and get what you need done. It is the same thing when we are trying to hear what God is saying. We need to take that step back from all that is going on and listen  for His voice. 

      Think about how you can take a step back during those times in your life when things are not going as you want. What do you do when you take that step back? What can help you take that step back? It is hard to step back at times because we feel that we have to keep going and be at 100% all the time. 

      Sometimes when we take a step back we can see things are not as we thought. Ask God to show you what is working? What is going well? Do not just take a step back and see what is wrong but what is good. It is like looking at  a painting in they style of pointillism. When you are close up all you see are a mix of dots in color but as you step back you see the whole image and not just the dots. Life is more then just those dots, its about what they all make up. The good and the bad. God can help with us seeing the whole picture and things will be easier to see. We just need to ask Him to open our eyes.

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and step back and enjoy the view.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dreams

Dreams


  This evening I went to a talk on “ What are God’s Dreams for You?” It was a mix of talks, prayer, mediation, and sharing. I would say it was one of the best spiritual events I have been to. It shifted how I view God’s Will in my life and showed me a new way of entering the presence of God. 

    Instead of focusing on God’s Will, look at it as what are the dreams that God has for us. It takes that pressure off figuring out His plan for me and puts there the things that He wishes for me to have. The idea of God’s will in my life was always that of following His orders. One after the next until the next set of things I am to be doing. When it is the dreams He has for me and shares that with me it comes from a place of caring and love then order and power. Even though it is the same things, the way you look at it changes how it is received. It is “ I want this for you” vs “ I want you to do this”. My view of God in this has changed from powerful to caring. It is not to say that He isn’t powerful, because He is, but now He has a level of caring and concern that I normally just put that on Jesus. I am still hours later digesting this. It left an impact on my heart tonight. 

     Another great thing that was shared tonight was when we go into prayer or meditation to start with thanking God for the good things in our lives. By doing this we set the more positive start and not asking for things right off. Think if someone just always was asking for things from you and how that makes you feel. Then instead they thank you for what you have done and was wondering if you can help some more. It is something so simple to start with and I never would think of that. Yes, somewhere in all of the asking I will remember to thank Him. Also, when doing the meditation or praying, add silent time. Just try and let the world go away for a bit and focus on the silence. There comes a peace from doing this. My mind is constantly going and to have that slow down and silence was amazing. It took some time to get there but it did happen.

I am going to add this to the pile of “after more thought do another post”. It is just sinking in and I know this is something that will help me. That shift from will to dreams. I hope that you will get something from that as well. More to come on Dreams for sure. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and what are the dreams that God has for you?



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Temptation

Temptation

   What are those things that tempt you and have you pull away from the life you want to live? How does those temptations pull you away from God? Temptations can cause us to turn away from God and look to our own inner wants and desires. Temptation stops us in our tracks and has us question what is right for us. It starts to move us off the path we are on and takes us away.

    I think most of the times when we think of temptations, we think of these grand things that pull us away. Temptations are not always grand but can be small things that can build up before we know it. It comes in all forms including people. People can tempt us by reinforcing those desires in us like sex, pleasure, power, etc. Those are what we think as those major temptations. They are those things that can lead us astray. I have to also say that those are the temptations that we look for and can prepare ourselves to avoid. To me, it is those small temptations that lead us away, and we do not see it until we are much further away. 

      It is in the small temptations that lead us away without even realizing it at times. Hitting that snooze button instead of getting up early to say morning prayers. Getting home too late and miss mass the next day. Hearing gossip and sharing it instead of walking away. Not talking to God during the day and instead filling your down time with other activities. It is even saying “ let me get to the next level in this game and I will turn  in” and with that you do not do your prayers at night. I am not saying that we are to be in prayer 24/7 but when we allow things to come in between us and some God time, we need to examine what is more important. What ever that God time may be for us. If we allow all these other things to tempt us and we take a few minutes here and there we lessen our time with God. 

   It may not seem like the small temptations can lead us away, but it is the cumulative aspect that does. Each builds off of each other and the time will add up. It is easier to tempt in the small things then in the larger areas. The red flag goes up and we are able to avoid it or stop it before it pulls us away. If you catch yourself saying “ it will just be this once”, “it is only 5 more minutes”, “ I will go next week” etc.. then it is time to stop and examine what path you are on. Are you being tempted? 

    The good thing about temptation is that we do not have to follow it. It is our choice to reject it and remain on the path to salvation. We can stop and think if this is strengthening our relationship with God or are we turning away from Him till this temptation is completed. Once we start to follow those temptations it gets easier and easier to fall prey to them. Miss one week of mass and next week is easier to miss as well. Temptation is that “slippery slope” we walk each day. It is in our free will to pick what path we take. Do not allow temptation to lead you astray. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and when temptation is in front of you, pray and ask for strength to walk on past it. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fishers of Men

Fishers of Men

“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” 
~ Matthew 4:18-20

Can you imagine dropping everything you have, leave your family and friends and follow someone without questioning? I am not sure how I would have reacted to this call of Jesus if I was there at the time. Now, I think what if that is what He is asking me to do that now. Are we still called to do the same. Abandon those things around us and serve Him. Some people do just that. They enter the religious life and leave a lot behind to follow His call.  Even some people of the laity take this call on as well. 

    That call is just for the religious or is it a call for all of us? I say it is all of our calls to some degree. The way we all approach it may be different but the message is still the same. We are all called to preach the Gospel to those around us. It is not just by our mouths do we preach the Gospel Message of Jesus but it also with our hands. We preach by our actions as well. When we are involved in ministering to those around us we are preaching to them. We are giving freely of ourselves. Our gifts and talents are used to share what we have been given to us by our Lord. 

     Some of us are called to use our mouths to spread the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. We stand as witnesses of the truth that lies in us. That sharing is planting those seeds of faith that may take root in their hearts and souls. When we are preaching the Good News make sure that you are being a witness and not being the judge. Speak as if you are on the witness stand and just state the facts of the Gospel and the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Do not hand down damnation but offer up salvation. Too many times people are turned off because of this kind of witnessing/judgement. Jesus did not judge those, He sat down with them and shared His message. We are to do the same. 

      Others of us share the message of salvation with our hands. We become the hands and feet here on earth. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, build shelters for the homeless and offer our hand to those who need a way to stand. If we are not doing this for the true love from our hearts then it is meaningless. It will come across to those who we are helping if it is not genuine and coming from a place of pity and not of love of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Being able to serve those who are not as fortunate as others will become more of a blessing for those who serve then is being served. We are allowing Jesus to not only live in our hearts but to work in us and through us in His name. 

    No matter where we are in our spiritual journey we are called to do this for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Also we also can and need to be ministered to as well. No one is greater then another on this journey of salvation. We all can learn from each other no matter how far or short your journey has been. The call of discipleship is waiting to be answered by everyone. No matter what plan you have that call is free for the taking. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and let us all answer Jesus’s call to discipleship.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Writing on the Wall

Writing on the Wall

 How many of us know that the saying “ I saw the writing on the wall” was from the bible? It is from Daniel chapter 5. I did not know this till few years ago. I will post the entire bible passage below this post so you may read it. 

   When we use the saying “ writing on the wall” we are saying that it is clear, it is right before us, that this is what the truth is, and this is how things are or will be.  In the case in the bible Daniel is asked to interpret what is written on the wall and speaks the truth of what the hand wrote. This was not good news for the king and most times when we use this saying it is not of good things written. 

     In a sense it gives us the heads up to what is about to come. It is that feeling you get when you know something is not going to go well. God uses this to prepare us for what is going to happen. It is not something that will just go away. This way we are ready for whatever may come from it and not be as hurt or upset by it. God is there so when it does come to pass that we are already seeking His guidance on what to do or how to handle this.  

     How many times have you thought to yourself, “ I was not shocked to hear,..., I was not shocked by this..... I saw this coming... “? That is because you saw the writing on the wall. It is a way for God to help us when He knows that if we did not see this we would be far worse then we are at that moment. We may have done or said something to make that situation worse if we did not know. 

      There may be times that God is trying to warn us about something and we just do not want to see it. We go about life ignoring what is right there before us because either we do not want to believe or that we do not want to deal with it. We would not ignore a sign that says “bridge out” as we drive so why do we ignore the signs from God? 

      In another post I think I will discuss more of the signs from God that we get or ignore and just focus this on “the writing on the wall”. When we ignore that writing, we are just postponing the inevitable. Think of somethings that you postponed just to realize its for the best? Maybe stayed in a relationship to long. Maybe stayed at a job longer then you should have. With each of them you knew it was time but held onto it. Change is not an easy thing to do but it is necessary. God does not want us unhappy or stuck in situations that are not good for us. He wants us to move on from them and not wait. 

      When you see the writing on the wall, act on it. Really focus and pray on it. It does not help to ignore or put it off. You will just be worse off in the end. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and look for the writing on the wall. 

Daniel Chapter 5


King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles, with whom he drank.Under the influence of the wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,* had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines might drink from them.When the gold vessels taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, had been brought in, and while the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines were drinking wine from them, they praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the hand that wrote,his face became pale; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked.The king shouted for the enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners to be brought in. “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means,” he said to the wise men of Babylon, “shall be clothed in purple, wear a chain of gold around his neck, and be third in governing the kingdom.”But though all the king’s wise men came in, none of them could either read the writing or tell the king what it meant.Then King Belshazzar was greatly terrified; his face became pale, and his nobles were thrown into confusion.When the queen heard of the discussion between the king and his nobles, she entered the banquet hall and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you, or your face become so pale!There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; during the lifetime of your father he showed brilliant insight and god-like wisdom. King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners. Because this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has shown an extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and insight in interpreting dreams, explaining riddles and solving problems, let him now be summoned to tell you what this means.”Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king. The king asked him, “Are you the Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, whom my father, the king, brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, that you have shown brilliant insight and extraordinary wisdom.The wise men and enchanters were brought in to me to read this writing and tell me its meaning, but they could not say what the words meant.But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems; now, if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means, you shall be clothed in purple, wear a chain of gold around your neck, and be third in governing the kingdom.”Daniel answered the king: “You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else; but the writing I will read for the king, and tell what it means.The Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar kingship, greatness, splendor, and majesty.Because he made him so great, the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Whomever he willed, he would kill or let live; whomever he willed, he would exalt or humble.But when his heart became proud and his spirit hardened by insolence, he was put down from his royal throne and deprived of his glory; he was cast out from human society and his heart was made like that of a beast; he lived with wild asses, and ate grass like an ox; his body was bathed with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God is sovereign over human kingship and sets over it whom he will.You, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this; you have rebelled against the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels of his temple brought before you, so that you and your nobles, your consorts and your concubines, might drink wine from them; and you praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence. But the God in whose hand is your very breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify.By him was the hand sent, and the writing set down.“This is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, TEKEL, and PERES.* These words mean: MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”Then by order of Belshazzar they clothed Daniel in purple, with a chain of gold around his neck, and proclaimed him third in governing the kingdom.That very night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dry Spell

Dry Spell

     Sometimes we may feel that we are not hearing God or that out prayer life seems to have, well “ Dried Up”. There are times that we  do go through some Dry Spells. It does not mean God does not care for us or is not listening. It is something many saints like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Dry spells in faith are not uncommon at all. 

     When this happens, dry spells, we need not to worry or give up. We have to continue on and move forward still. Keep on praying. Continue doing what you felt called to do the day before and do not take away from whatever prayers you have been doing. It is time to add things in your life instead of taking away. Start reading some books with christian messages and lessons. Check out those inspirational books that will lift us up and not drag us further down. Sometimes it may just be one quote that changes your spiritual life or stats that spark again. 

      There is also a physical piece that maybe hindering your spiritual side. Ask yourself these questions: Am I getting enough sleep? Am I eating right? Am I taking some down time? Questions like these my help us understand what might be causing this or adding to it. We need to make sure that we are approaching the spiritual side of our lives when our physical is also in tune. Try and have that alone time to charge yourself. Some down time alone helps. Be relaxed when you are talking to God. Do things that do not drain your energy but enhance it. That may be going for a walk in the park or sitting by the ocean and watch the waves come crashing in.  If we are weak physically it just may add to make us weak spiritually and we will not hear God speaking to us. 

      Receive the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist. They are both healing in nature. Confession can take the burden of sin off of our soul and a make room for God. Keep going to mass and if possible increase it. See about daily mass or a healing mass. It would be easy to not attend mass when you feel this. Instead by going you are increasing the graces that are out there. You are also going to be around some like minded people who, if asked, will pray for you. Speak to a Priest, Deacon or even a spiritual director and ask for their advice. Use the avenues that God has placed here on earth to get back and not feel like there is nothing there. 

     Another area to check is sin. Are you in a cycle of sin that is pushing away or blocking those areas that God uses to speak to you. You can go to confession to help remove sin but if you just go back to the same sin over and over you need to find another way to stop it. Confession is great but if you are not truly sorry or just keep returning to it then something else needs to be done. Only you can answer if this is true for you or not. 

      Sometimes we need to go through the dry spells so we can learn from them. That no matter what graces God gives or not, that we will continue doing as we did when we did not feel like this. It is not a give and take relationship and when that give goes then we go as well. Hold onto those times when grace was given so when when we are not feeling the graces flowing we have those graces to hold onto. When that dry spell is over hold onto what you learned tightly and hold onto what you have in the spiritual life. You may never know why it is happening but just remember you got through it and you cam out the other side. 

Until tomorrow, God Bless, and when dryness sets in, ask God to pour down His graces on you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

God's Love

God's Love

    God’s love should be a simple concept but for me for a long time it was not so easy. I bet for a lot of people it is not an easy and simple concept. The concept of love itself is not always simple to understand in the world we live in. Love has become a word that describes just about everything in the world.  We love our family, our friends and then we love chocolate and ice cream. Love is very different for each person and understanding love by itself can be complicated then add God into it and it becomes a different kind of love. 

     God’s love is on a different level. Unlike other relationships that love is involved in, God’s love is unconditional. Other relationships the person can stop loving and caring about us. With God there is not that fear of losing His love.  Well, I should say, we may have that fear of losing that love but He will not turn His love from us. It is that unconditional love that He pours out on us. This idea of unconditional love is hard to understand because we may not have seen that in our lives. The best way to understand God’s unconditional love is to look at the parent / child relationship. I was lucky to have that unconditional love from my mother.  We may also experience this kind of love from other family member or friends and if that is the case then it is a blessing in your life. 

      It is hard to see at times how can we sin, pull away, ignore, and disrespect God and He does not pull that love from us? We all know the bible passage that says

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16 

   It is in that ultimate sacrifice God shows us His unyielding love. Another act of His love before this was Him giving us “Free Will”. He did not and does not force us to love Him or to have Him in our lives. He leaves that up to us. That free will is the second biggest gift He gave us. Jesus was the ultimate gift of love but the option of what we do was His second. 

    God waits for us to choose Him and He waits with open arms each and every time for each of us. A problem I think is that when we are asking for something in prayer and we feel that He does not answer us means that He does not love or care for us. All prayers are answered. The  difference is that they may not be answered the way or in the time frame we want them to be. He is answering them in the best way for us and for whatever is in His will. We may not always understand that but it is what is to be. It is like that parent/child relationship. A good parent just does not give into every request of the child but does what is best for them. It is the same with God. There will be times where He could not give what we are asking and it is not because He does not love us. We are the ones that put that clause in. 

     The last part to understand God’s Love is to open your heart to it. Until your heart is ready you will not be able to take it all in. There may always be parts of His love that we do not understand but in time we will. It just may not be here on earth. As they say hindsight is 20/20. Look back and see where His love was pouring out to you. You may not have realized it at the time because of all that was going on. Sometimes we need to be removed from the situation to see the whole picture. God is always there in those times. 


Until tomorrow, God Bless, and remember God’s love is unconditional. 


      

Thursday, October 11, 2012

" Me, Myself and I"

Me, Myself, and I

"Don't let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become"
 ~ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 

   

  When we wake each day we have the chance to change things and move forward from what was done yesterday and even further in our past. We can set out for a new destination in our lives. That whatever path we took yesterday can be changed. We can cancel whatever we put in our own personal GPS and add a new destination. That is part of the gift of free will. We make those daily choices. 

     As followers of Jesus we know that there is forgiveness for those past transgressions and we are forgiven. When we actively seek Jesus and God we are walking in the light. There is a feeling of new beginnings, a fresh start. For as the bible say’s 
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

    This is that saving grace that we believe as Christians. That we are a new creation in Christ. That He died for our sins and we are forgiven. God came down and became man to save our souls and be set free. 

    If this was not the case we would face a different future. It would not have that saving grace but that of damnation. It is what keeps me going. That even if I fail today that I have another chance for redemption. If it was set in stone, it would not matter what we did on either side of right or wrong, truth or sin,  or good and evil. We are responsible for our own salvation. 

   Now with all that being said, I have something to add. Yes, we are a new creation when we follow Jesus. We are forgiven for our sins when we ask and confess to our transgressions. Those transgressions or sins are of the past but they are still part of who we are. Those sins and transgressions do have a part in shaping who we are, what we believe and what we will become. There are lessons to be learned from our pasts and if we try and wash the past away we lose what we learned. If we lose what we learned then we may repeat those same patterns that created those sins and transgressions. Do not focus on the acts or sins themselves but those lessons that you learned from them. 

    The time I spent away from the church, Jesus and God does add to what I am right now. I am not proud of that time lost but I know I am stronger now then when I left. All those experiences shaped who I was when I turned back to the life of church, Jesus and God. I can use that time and experience when I speak to people who are away from the church or just returning. They are shared experiences and when you become a witness to those people, they see the hope in the life. That someone else has done this and they understand. God needs us to help build the Kingdom of God here on earth. He needs us as we are and not just who we will be.

    God still moves in us and around us no matter what we are doing or what is in our past. We may not see Him at those times but when you look back you will be able to see it. If we do not let those times become part of who we are then we lose those graces and blessings that have come from them. We can use our past to help others come to this life of Christ. We are a church of sinners who by the grace of God was forgiven because Jesus died for our sins. 

    The past is not to weigh us down but lift us up to see where we came from and what we have gained to be who we are today. It is not rejoicing in those past sins but it is the redemption that came from them that we are able to be that new creation in Christ. 


Until tomorrow, God Bless, and remember it is not your past self that God see’s but the creation you have become in Christ.