“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER in love.” Ephesians 4:2
I was thinking the other day of things that go together. The common ones came to mind, like peanut butter and jelly and salt and pepper. I even began to think of people who went together like Lucy and Ethel or The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Funny how in your mind, some things are just a pair. I’ll bet if you stopped for just a minute you could come up with dozens of things that match. I think we get conditioned to see things together, and don’t really give them much notice. We even see pairs in Scripture. I did a little “independent research” and realized in most cases, (how scientific is that) when people describe something or someone, they use a pair of words. For instance, that flower is so bright and colorful or that baby is so cute and chubby. We tend to do a lot of things in pairs.
As we charge into the tail end of Lent, whose up for a “Double Disciple” challenge? Your challenge will be do Christian acts double. Not just one good deed, but two. Not just a kind word to one person, but two. You could go all out if you wanted to, instead of giving one thing from each closet in your house to charity, make it two. What would happen if you took a plate of cookies or a bouquet of flowers to two neighbors instead of one. What about that young couple with little ones you know who could really use a night out, why not offer to babysit their kids for two hours instead of one so they can enjoy a peaceful dinner or a good nap. The possibilities are absolutely endless!
I saw a great church sign recently that said, “A narrow mind and a wide mouth are not a good combination.” It made me giggle. So I’m going to use the idea from that sign to make the “Double Disciple” challenge a wee bit stiffer. If during the week, you happen to demonstrate a pair of “not –so-Christian” behaviors or attitudes; like being grumpy and impatient with a spouse or co-worker, you have to do another double good act to make up for it. I can’t wait to see the blessings that are in store for the world if we all take on the challenge!
A Seed To Plant: Take on the “Be a Double Disciple” challenge these last two weeks of Lent and let us know what happened.
Blessings on your day!
It's Monday...that means a new post...except for this Monday. Instead of a post this morning I'm offering the gift of peace to you and to me.
I had a visit with a wonderful priest Friday and he told me I seemed weary and restless and he said I needed to read Psalm 23 and find some peace. Not quite the greeting I expected from a visiting priest at the beginning of my Confession, but I was drawn to tears because he was so spot on! He saw what I felt and was trying so hard to conceal. Oddly enough, the songs, and Psalm response at mass Sunday focused on those exact words. So...instead of a post today, I'm asking you to forgive me for my lack of words and lets all just take a few minutes to read Psalm 23 and enjoy some peace, knowing "There is nothing I shall want!"
Blessings on your day!
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Wow! Good to know…I can do ALL things! Maybe I’ll begin by leaping a tall building with a single bound or establishing world peace by lunchtime or maybe just getting all the closets organized and the crumbs cleaned out of the silverware tray and out from under the toaster! To tell you the truth though, each task seems as daunting as the one listed before it. So exactly what do you think Paul meant when he spoke these words to the Philippians?
I think the key words in this verse are not “I can do all things” but rather “through Christ”. We weren’t created by God to be super heroes, or to live each day breaking our neck trying to do a hundred things to please everyone we know. We were created to be His hands and feet here on earth. I don’t recall a single passage in Sacred Scripture that described Jesus multi-tasking, over-booking His schedule or speaking only to those people with the most urgent needs.
The beauty of this verse is that it is simply calling us to do the tasks that God puts before us each day. He’s not asking us to bear the burdens of the world and do ALL things. He’s directing us to ask Him what His plan for us is each day and then He will supply us with all the grace, mercy, love and strength we need. I think it’s a good idea to take an inventory of ALL the things we’re trying to accomplish in a day and prayerfully sort through them…maybe we’re trying to do a task that was really meant to bring somebody else closer to God! Maybe our greatest task of the day is as simple as stopping to listen carefully to a person who just really needs to be heard.
A Seed to plant: Take a look at your “to do” list for the next few days and ask God for the wisdom to know which tasks are really yours. Then take a few minutes to ask for the strength to be His hands and feet as you accomplish them.
Blessings on your day!
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
Dave loves popcorn. Nearly every Sunday he has popcorn, apples and cheese…it’s just a tradition. I was traveling last week and came upon a shop that sold dozens of different flavors of popcorn so I brought home a treat for him. The flavor I chose was “sweet and salty”. It probably should have been called “salty, salty, salty and a wee bit of sweet”. It was delicious but after a handful or two he was after a second glass of water. I didn’t think it could be that extreme so I had a handful and before I knew it, I too was chugging down the water. I don’t remember the last time I was that thirsty.
I was thinking about that popcorn thirst this morning as Deacon Chuck read the Gospel about the woman at the well. The story is a deep one; one with lots of avenues for reflection about our relationship with Jesus. I realized that being thirsty is a two way deal. I need to thirst for Jesus like I thirsted for water after a handful of that popcorn. I love Jesus, I talk to him and I talk about him but I’m not sure I thirst for him with the same desire and almost desperation I approached that glass of water with the other night. It’s important to remember that Jesus thirsts for us too. It’s a lot easier to do something for someone when we know they love us and want us with them.
During Lent, I often watch a short video that comes to my newsfeed each day from a group called Redeemed Online. They are so good! They give a lot of thought in just a little 3 minute video. I showed one at Staff Morning Prayer the first week of Lent that just sticks with me. I realize that in order to obtain the living water Jesus talked to the Samaritan Woman about, I have to be in relationship with him and I know the only way to grow that relationship is through prayer. The video I showed had a message from a delightful Franciscan Sister who put prayer and faith in four simple steps.
It has it all…I can’t means I surrender. You can means I trust in God to act according to his will for my life. You promised means I believe you will do what’s best Father. God is a Father of truth and goodness and devotion to his children; he is a God who keeps his promises. Please do means I have faith that the Father will act. He won’t abandon us or leave us in harms way; he’s always there and I have faith that he hears and will act.
When I think of some of the hopeless situations in Scripture this is exactly how the characters reacted. Think about Moses facing the Red Sea or Esther faced with the dilemma of saving herself or saving her people or the woman at the well whose life was a bit twisted. Each of them got to the point where they threw up their hands, fell to their knees and cried out to God, I can’t , you can, you promised now please do and the story that followed is one that models faith and the amazing love of the Father. I think I’m thirsty enough to try praying this way, how about you?
A Seed To Plant: Read John chapter 4 and study the story and ponder it this week.
Blessings on your day!
… “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Mathew 14:31
I love this story from Matthew’s Gospel. It’s full of little lessons! One thing that always makes me giggle a little is how much I’m like the apostles that stayed in the boat. Poor Peter gets scolded by Jesus for being of “little faith”. Truth is, I’d be one of the 11 still sitting in the boat never having the guts to get out and even try walking on water in the first place! Sometimes my boat is rockin but I’m not brave enough to get out and be faithful!
I discovered three “boat rockers” in my life are 1) My children’s future 2) The shrinking moral conscience of our culture and 3) The economy and leadership of our country. Boy can I ever be an apostle glued to the boat seat when I think about these things! I need to leap out of the boat like Peter and take some steps toward Jesus. There are many things that rock our boat and test our faith but the message is the same to us as it was to Peter; trust Me, keep your eyes on Me,have faith in Me and I will guide and protect and love you!
I can’t guarantee that my children will get their dream job with benefits and a generous salary any more than I can sweep into the US Senate or House and pray with them and get things all straightened out. (talk about being tossed into a stormy sea…yikes!) I wish I could do great big things that would restore common values like modesty, honesty and respect for life but the truth is, I’m only in charge of my little corner of the world. So what’s a sea-sick scardey cat apostle to do…PRAY! TRUST! GET OUT OF THE BOAT SO JESUS CAN GRAB ON!
If I look back on my own life, the troubles and difficult times are the ones that caused me to learn the most. Having jobs that were hard, yucky and paid pennies were the ones that made me strong and grateful. Wrestling with tough decisions about my future gave me great opportunity to pray and trust God’s will for my life. Why would I want my kids to have an easy go of it and miss those important lessons and opportunities to grow in faith and character? I think I’ll get out of that boat and just ask God to bless them and remind them daily to ask Him for direction and then pray like crazy they listen and follow!
As for the boat rockin I feel when I think of state of affairs with our culture and our country, I had a thought. If your inbox or facebook newsfeed is full of jokes, slogans and stories about the woes of our world, what do you think would happen if instead of forwarding or sharing them, we would instead stop and pray? Judging by the number of those types of posts I see each day, that could be a LOT of prayin…I think the seas would calm and more folks would have the courage and the trust to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. I think we underestimate the power of prayer, especially with issues we think are beyond us. I sometimes forget to pray for our leaders. I don’t remember often enough to pray for people who have lost their way and make decisions that draw people away from God rather than toward Him. Shame on me…guess I better write that down so I remember! I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready to get out of the boat and test the water!
A Seed To Plant: What’s rockin your boat? Make a list and then stop today and pray for the courage to walk toward Jesus and hand Him your concern. While you’re prayin, stop and say a prayer for the President and all those in positions of leadership and power.
Blessings on our day!
He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30
Crosses, daisies and faithful Disciples of Jesus! That pretty much sums up the past couple of weeks for me! In the last two and a half weeks I have spoken to nearly a thousand folks who were on the same mission…to grow in holiness. As usual, I show up with my computer to do what God has asked me to do, using the words the Holy Spirit gives me and think I’m giving something. In all truthfulness; I always walk away taking more than I gave!
The Lenten message I’ve shared a few times involves the image of crosses and daisies. I saw a meme on Ash Wednesday that said “pick up your cross and not a handful of daisies!” It made me laugh and it made me think. After I pondered it a bit I realized Lent is about recognizing the power of both the crosses and the daisies. The daisies are the beautiful, simple, Christlike things I can do dozens of times each day that help me think of others more and myself less. The daisies are tiny acts of service and compassion that truly do help us grow in holiness. If these things are offered to Jesus with love, they console his heart and they draw our attention to the service of others and not ourselves. If I smile instead of argue; if I offer my spot in line or hold open the door; if I walk away instead of gossiping; if I offer a helping hand to a struggling soul and I do all those things out of love for Jesus…those little daisies allow holiness to blossom. Anything done out of love for, and offered to Jesus, has results that are as pleasing to him as a beautiful daisy is to us.
The crosses are the tough stuff! It’s true that the daisies help us grow in holiness but life can’t be all daisies. The crosses are personal, they may be private and they may be heavy but Jesus is just waiting there beside us ready to help us with the heavy lifting. We have to reach down and pick them up before he will grab on and help with the struggle. Our free will doesn’t allow him to join in until we get started and ask for help. Sometimes I hover over my crosses. I would imagine I must look to Jesus like one of those professional weight lifters on TV. I rub my hands, make some noise, bend down, practice the motions but as I step up to grab the cross I put my hands on it but don’t always stand up with the weight in my hand; I just go through the warm-up again and never get to the heavy lifting. Lent is the perfect time to quit the warm up and get to the lifting. No more studying the crosses; no more dragging the crosses; it’s time for ready set LIFT and CARRY!
Friday night I had the opportunity to listen to a true Catholic Giant, Fr. Michael Gaitley. It was powerful to be in a space with more than 800 Catholic women gathered to be inspired and enlightened by such a faithful and holy man. The even was wonderful but it was followed the next day by the stories of five women who live their discipleship in a way that touched the hearts and souls of a couple hundred more women. Fr. Gaitley was trained and educated and spends his life studying and writing and evangelizing. These five women who spoke on Saturday don’t have his theological training and experience but they live their lives with such beauty, strength, faith and powerful discipleship they left us strengthened and inspired. Fr. Gaitley teaches us the concepts and ideas, but these ladies showed us what they look like when they are put in motion. We heard stories of grief and loss, battles with spiritual warfare, fighting against depression, darkness and sadness and fighting against anxiety and doubt and defending the lives of the unborn even when it fills your own life with hate and hostility from those who can’t see truth. We heard the stories of five women who have picked up their crosses and witnessed the powerful strength and love of the Father who helped them carry them. We heard the stories that ended with the love, faithfulness, blessings and grace of the Father and we all left changed!
As you focus on your crosses and daisies this lent, stop to tell your story and stop to ask others about their story. God doesn’t mean for us to bear our crosses in silence. We are called to support and love each other along the way. I guarantee lives will be changed because five courageous women told their story and none of them particularly wanted to. None of them thought they had the training or education to make them Catholic rock stars but they rocked our souls with their honest, real, beautiful stories. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses and daisies you will focus on this week.
Blessings on your day!
Although I have much to say to you, I do not wish to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and speak to you face to face so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12
If you were asked to come up with five current events happening throughout the world how long would it take you? Given the speed and availability of today’s technology I’m betting you could complete the task within seconds. At the snap of a finger we can check a score, get a recipe, listen to a song or find a prayer and none of it requires personal contact. While somewhat fascinating, it’s also a bit scary!
We’ve bee talking about the Apostles in class and the middle lovelies had a hard time imagining how they could teach and lead thousands and thousands with no internet, airplanes or even cars. As one asked in a puzzled voice, “So, they just had to walk and talk and walk and talk and sometimes get in a boat; that’s it; that’s how they started the whole church?” Simply put, he was exactly right. It was all personal contact, storytelling and testimony. It really gave me cause to stop and think!
I asked the kids what they thought would have happened if the Apostle’s had decided they were tired of telling the story of Jesus? “What if they had simply decided they wanted to stay at home and keep the good news to themselves?” I asked. After thinking for a minute, one little girl said, “That just wouldn’t happen because Jesus was a good teacher and He taught the Apostles how to share so they had to mind Him and share the story.” Then she said, “It’s a good thing I wasn’t one of the Apostles because sometimes I’m a little bad at sharing!” I giggled but she hit the nail right on the head! I suppose we’re all guilty of being a “little bad at sharing” when it comes to our faith story.
I did an informal survey of some high school/young adult aged folks not long ago and the most popular answer to the question, “What does this world need more of?” was FRIENDLY PEOPLE! Holy Cow Batman…talk about a giant leap backwards…personal contact and not more technology…what…how can that be? I’ve never heard anyone say they always enter a room and look for the crankiest person to sit next to! We are made for human contact and most of us prefer the friendly kind, so instead of just looking for it, why not become the giver of it? Whether you are a Catholic or not, the names John Paul II and Francis more than likely ring a bell. They are two very holy and influential men of our time and if you really boil things down to the bottom of the pot, the reason for the overwhelming popularity of these two Popes is simple; they radiate the kindness and behavior of Christ to everyone. It’s not uncommon to see a picture of a very humble Pope Francis embracing someone with great sincerity and genuine love. His simple, humble compassion touches us.
My friends, WE are called to be Christ in the world. We are the disciples of this time and instead of being overwhelmed by the task we need to embrace it! God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called and He’s calling you and He’s calling me to spread His good news. Thank goodness it starts with simple, basic personal conversation just like that mentioned in the passage from John’s letter. So put down your phone, iPad, iPod, laptop or tablet and sit with someone and have a conversation…and include the star of the show…Jesus! If you’re not sure how to bring Him up in conversation, simply introduce others to Him through your actions. Don’t worry about offending someone by mentioning the name of your Savior; worry more about offending your Savior by not mentioning His name!
A Seed To Plant: Bring this scripture to life. Make a list of 3 people you will sit down and have an actual visit with this week. For bonus points, pick at least one person who desperately needs a visit from a friendly face!
Blessings on your day!
Taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8
Yes is a great word for Lent! Yes, Lord, I can do that; Yes, Lord I can do without that; Yes, Lord I can add that to my day. The beginning of Lent is so hopeful and full of promise. I always have such confidence in my YES! Yes, I will love you, love your people and serve you faithfully during the next 40 days.
It’s crazy how the focus is all about what I will do. It struck me the other evening while washing dishes in the quiet…funny how everyone seems to disappear on secret missions when the water starts to run in the sink! What if Lent is supposed to be less about what I do and more about what I let him do? It kept my mind racing all the way up to the last dirty pan. I suppose he’s trying to tell me something. I suppose he’s trying to tell me to shut up and see what he wants to do in my life instead of trying to orchestrate the perfect 6 weeks. Ok, so what if YES and COOPERATE became my theme for lent…then what? That was really a question I asked him to answer for me.
This weekend we went to see the movie “The Shack”. I didn’t go expecting rock solid Theology, I went expecting to be inspired and uplifted. I went expecting to be reminded in a beautiful and entertaining way of some of God’s simple truths. I knew the story line…I was going for the effect. As with everything else these days social media seems to beat stuff to death with opinions and perspectives…I didn’t really care about the reviews, I just wanted to be entertained. The movie delivered exactly what I hoped for! The scenery in the movie was breathtaking and the message was simple and good medicine for a wounded world. Driving home from the theater in a quiet car I realized YES and COOPERATE were words that truly were important for me this Lenten Season.
God’s love for us is bigger that I can wrap my mind around…perhaps I should spend some time pondering that this Lent. If I look at at the nuttiest times in my life, I recognize that I didn’t have my eyes on him…I should work on my focus this Lent. God can bring unspeakable good out of the most horrible situations…I’ve seen that more times than I can count…I should revel in that and thank him dozens of times a day for it this Lent. The beauty of heaven is far greater than the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen on earth…I should get my heart in order this Lent so as to enjoy that beauty someday. There is no promise of a pain free life…I should learn to stop pouting about that this Lent and accept each situation as an opportunity to suffer a little bit and grow closer to him. The movie had lots of great nuggets for thought.
Taste and see…I suppose in order to do that, I need to let someone else do the cooking and stop trying to be in charge of the kitchen all the time. So this Lent, I’ll work on saying YES to the Father and ask him for the grace to COOPERATE instead of orchestrate myself.
A Seed To Plant: Now that you’ve made a list of things you’d like to do this Lent, make a list of the things you’re willing to let him do so you truly can taste and see his goodness.
Blessings on your day!
…Take your throne at my right hand while I make your enemies your footstool. Psalm 110:1
We had a dark green footstool in our living room when I was growing up and as I recall it had many functions. My favorite memory of that footstool was the way my little brother would fasten a bath towel around his neck like a super hero and jump off that footstool thinking it would boost him high enough that he could fly. We did use it to rest feet on, especially when there was a story to be read or a baby to be rocked. It was sturdy and comfortable and important.
I had to stretch a little and read this verse a time or two before it’s meaning really hit my heart. When I read the word enemy, I immediately thought of a person. I don’t have any human enemies so I moved on to a verse I thought had more meaning but something kept calling me back. After I let it percolate in my mind and heart a few days, it came to me. The enemy may not be a person at all. The enemy could be anything preventing my pursuit of the Fathers joy. Lent is a great time to do some soul searching about enemies that might creep into our lives and try to distract us.
I was able to stick a label on my enemies rather quickly once I started thinking about it. I would love to sit at God’s right hand and watch Him slap down a footstool on impatience or on judgmental thinking or on any other of the sinful areas of my life. The beautiful part of this verse is the “at my right hand” part. In order to have Him put those enemies at my feet, I have to be beside Him. He can’t help me if I’m a mile away, He needs me right there beside Him clinging to Him with childlike dependence. Then and only then will the footstool slamming begin!
Just like my living room as a child, sometimes we had to move some stuff out of the way to get to the footstool, so it is with our need to move the barriers that are keeping us from the right hand of God so we can get near that footstool. What’s in your way?
A Seed To Plant: Take the beginning days of Lent to prayerfully consider what enemies you would like to see under your footstool and then reach for God’s hand.
Blessings on your day!
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