Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Tag, You're It!"

TAG-You’re it! That’s what Jesus is telling the apostles in Sunday’s gospel. Lk 9:51-62 “And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus calls he wants an immediate answer. He needs us to be ready immediately, just as if we are in a game of tag. We can’t wait until we have gone out to eat one more time, finished a project, made more money, or taken care of some other business. We have to be ready to answer Him immediately.

Because we are Christians we know that our call is to follow Jesus. We always have to be ready to answer yes to His purposeful call. Worrying and planning won’t make us ready and if we are not ready for God, then we are not yet “fit for the kingdom of God.”

God needs us to be willing and ready to say YES! Immediately.

Yes, to being a witness—we never know when God is calling us to be a role model, regardless of our age.

Yes, to speaking our faith—we never know when God is putting someone in our path or at our door who needs an encouraging word and the hope and love that He gives us to share.

Yes, to loving our spouse, unconditionally—we never know when we are the last person they have to depend on for hope, emotional strength or encouragement, or even just a listening ear.

Yes, to becoming a parent—not, “wait, until I ‘earn’ or ‘save’ a little more before we add to God’s family.

Yes, to helping or spending time with a child—we never know when God is giving us the opportunity to teach what it means to love.

Yes, to living healthy—not to wait until we are sick to begin taking care of ourselves, but to live a healthy lifestyle—physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.

Yes, to a vocation—regardless of our career choice, God’s choice, His purpose for us, may not always be ours.

Yes, to reading His word and seeking the Truth—we never know when we will need His Truth and wisdom.

Yes, to taking time for a prayer—there is always something else to do, and if we don’t say yes to prayer, we may forget to ask God for help, and He can’t answer if we forget to ask.

Yes, to being called home—we never know when our last minute will be with our family and friends, when we will be in an accident or get sick, or will just fall asleep into His waiting arms. We never know when this will be our last chance to answer God’s call.

Dear God, Thank you for “tagging” your apostles, the pope and priests, the saints, Mary, the martyrs, to be my role models for saying yes, without hesitation, to your call. I’m sorry for the times you have had to ask me more than once to answer your call; for the times that I have asked you to wait until I finished something that was my choice, not yours. Help me to always be ready and willing to say “Yes!” to your call, to be tagged—“I’m it!” Amen.

Are you ready to be “it?” What is it in your life that you are putting before God’s call? Are you ready to answer God’s call?

God says, “TAG! You’re it.”


Treat Your Spouse Like a Customer

From Family Life Today

I know that most men want to be just as successful at home as they are at work. And initially, you wouldn’t think of calling your wife or children customers. They are so much more than that, right? I mean, you need your work world so you can earn a decent living, but you don’t love your customers and colleagues. You don’t live with them, vacation with them, or sleep with them. Your wife and children are flesh and blood, while your customers are, well, customers. In your hierarchy of importance, your wife and children are at the very top, right?

Sort of.

While it’s true that you love your wife and children but only work with your customers, your behavior often sends signals to your loved ones that your customers matter more than they do. That is why the cry of a woman’s heart is often, “Please, you don’t have to be perfect, but give me the same respect you give your people at work.” And that’s really sad when you stop to think about it, because in a way, she is settling for something less than what she deserves; those you love should expect to be treated better than the way you treat your customers and work colleagues. So really, I’m setting the bar kind of low for you, but I can almost guarantee that if you begin thinking of your loved ones as your customers, they will become your best customers and you will begin to feel like the hero you want to be to them.

Holding on to your most loyal customer

If I ever get too far removed from one of my customers or business colleagues, the worst thing I can do is just ignore the problem and hope they don’t leave for one of my competitors. However, when you get to that place in business, the temptation is to do just that. You’re embarrassed and don’t really want to face your customer, or it just seems like too much work, so you’re tempted to procrastinate or just move on. Instead, I have to swallow my pride a little, get an appointment with that customer, and just put the cards on the table: “Hey, we haven’t been paying enough attention to you lately, and I’m sure it shows in the way we are serving you. I’m here to tell you we’re going to start treating you like a brand new account and get things back on track again.”

And that’s exactly what we need to do when we have lost touch with our families. There’s no perfect way to do this, but the following steps will help you begin to reconnect with your most important customer.

Make a Date with Your Spouse
Give them as much "scheduled" time as you give your customers.

Lean into the problem. The best leaders I know never hesitate to admit they are wrong or that they’ve made a mistake, and they don’t waste any time doing it. Instead of avoiding problems, they lean into them. Surprise your wife and ask her to pick a day when she can meet you for lunch. Then put your cards on the table, so to speak. Thank her for meeting you and tell her you know that you’ve let too many things interfere with your relationship with her and your children. Tell her you want to make some changes but that you want her input. Then invite her to say whatever she wants.

Don’t just listen. It’s one thing to listen to your customers. But if you don’t follow through on what they say, they will take their business elsewhere. If a colleague asks for my input, I’m always impressed when he pulls out a piece of paper and takes notes. It shows me that he values what I have to say. It may seem awkward, but when you ask for your wife’s input on the changes she’d like to see, write them down. If she seems taken aback by that, explain that you’re serious about this and that she’s as important as any client, with whom you would do the same thing.

Be prepared. When a sales rep has to meet with three different customers in a day, he tries to spend a little time before each appointment going over his file on the customer just to make sure he’s prepared. It helps him address the customer’s unique needs and give that customer his full attention. Sometimes the transition from the office to home is clouded with the things that are on your mind from work, causing you to let them creep into your relationships with your family. You wouldn’t think of walking into a business appointment and talking about the meeting you just had with another customer, but that’s often what we do when we walk in the door after a long day at the office. Use your drive home to prepare for what you really want when you get home: an enjoyable experience with the people you love. Reflect on your wife, her needs, hopes, and dreams. Focus on your kids and think of what their day at school was like. Mentally page through your profile about your wife and children to prepare for a great “appointment” with them.

More than a customer

I know this business language might seem inappropriate when thinking about your loved ones, and in a way it is. Time spent with your family is not really an appointment, and all that you know about them is much more than a profile. But it’s the language we use fifty to sixty hours a week, and sometimes our language dictates to us what is most important. If your family doesn’t have a slot in your calendar or a file in your customer database, they might not get the attention they deserve. It’s strange how that works, which is why we should undo all of that by learning how to treat the people we love as if they were our customers.

Taken from Treat Me Like a Customer by Louis Upkins. Copyright © 2009 by Louis Upkins . Used by permission of Zondervan.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seeking Answers?

Women of Faith:

I read, watched and heard, Oprah, Matthew Kelley and Father Corapi, all say this week: we are “just trying to satisfy our inner spirit.” Our inner being, our subconscious mind, tells us what is right and what is wrong, and we will not find happiness, satisfaction, or peace until we “listen and follow” our inner being. That inner spiritual need is for God to be the controlling power in our lives.
We are often torn in our decision making: in deciding what is right and what is wrong: what is God’s will and what is ours. As humans we are impatient and stubborn, we want what looks fun and what will make us instantly “feel good,” just as if we were children.

We shop for things we think we want, but don’t need. We eat when we are not hungry.
We hang out with friends who have what we want or make us “feel good” because they accept our bad habits. We are intimate (not necessarily sexually, but in spirit through conversations) with the people we work with, and then wonder why we can’t, and don’t have anything to communicate with our spouse. We choose the escapes of drugs, alcohol, gambling, or just “being busy” so that we don’t have to face the problems in our lives.

In reading this week’s gospel messages, I found comfort in knowing that God realizes that our choices our difficult and that He has given us the answers to those tough decisions we face each day. God, thru His scripture, is very clear as to what we must sacrifice, to whom we must serve, and to where our inner spirit will find God’s treasures—consolation, hope, comfort, peace and ultimately happiness. He also makes it clear when, where, why and how to make our choices. He truly gives us the solutions to all of our needs, and answers all of our questions. If only we will listen.

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:21

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other...A house divided against itself cannot stand. Matthew 6:24-30

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

“Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments.” 2 Kgs 17:13

If our heart is with food, we will be overweight. If we choose money, we will serve the “work master” and never have time for the things that really matter in life—our spouse, our family, or serving the poor, lonely, or needy of this world. If we don’t deny ourselves we won’t ever see the inner happiness of the giving of ourselves—I think we have all heard the saying: “it is better to give than to receive.” And if we are not following God’s commandments, then we must be following the devil’s answers and answering to evil.

The saints who are God’s human role models gave us the following wisdom about how to make choices—

“The devil’s snare does not catch you unless you are already nibbling on the devil’s bait.”—St Ambrose

“The soul possesses freedom; and though the Devil may make suggestions, he does not have the power to compel you against your will.”-- St Cyril of Jerusalem

“You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good and reject what is evil. You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything.”—St Gregory of Sinai

“However great may be the temptation, if we know how to use the weapon of prayer well, we shall come off conquerors at last, for prayer is more powerful than all the devils. He who is attacked by the spirits of darkness, only to apply himself vigorously to prayer, and he will beat them back with great success.”-- St Bernard

There are only two roads: good and evil: God’s road and the Devil’s. What is your Choice?

Dear God: Praise be your Answers. Thank you for giving me the saints to be my role model s. I am sorry for the times I have followed the Devil and been a sinner. Help me to ask the right questions so that I can make the right choices. Protect me from my need for instant gratification. Help me to be self-sacrificing and not self-serving. Amen

Blessings on your Choices this Week,


Monday, June 14, 2010

The Spirit Within Us

Women of Faith:

“Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest, and in our hearts, take up thy rest; Come with thy grace and heav’nly aid, to fill the hearts, which thou hast made.” (Lyrics, Come Holy Ghost c 776)

Do you have an inner voice which speaks to you? Are you listening?

Matthew Kelley in “The Rhythm of Life” says that we will not be at peace until we listen to our inner voice. He also says we must be “still,” “at rest,” to recognize, to know that inner voice, and to know that that inner voice is God, the Spirit. (Ps 46:10)

How many times has someone said, did or been in the right place for you? How many times have you done, or said, or been in the right place for someone else?

Do we recognize the Spirit within us?

The Spirit is what Jesus promised his disciples during the days after His death and resurrection. He promised them that The Spirit would come upon them and lead them when He was no longer on this earth.

And when the Spirit came, He came as fire, wind, and with the gift of speaking in tongues so that everyone would hear. He did not make a quiet entrance, even though He could not be seen physically. He came IN where He was locked out, through a closed door. He made himself know through the very forces of nature in which He revealed Himself. Acts 2:1-11

While some of us may know or understand more than one language I also think that “speaking in tongues” can also mean that he gives us the grace to be able to say the right thing at the right time; to be able to give our family and friends the inspiration to move forward as God would want us to.

I think about the times when I have been in a place where a “tough question” was asked, or a decision had to be made, and the process was not being handled in a Godly manner. When it would have been easier to follow “common practice” rather than the God’s righteousness. And either I or someone else answered with the right analogy, the right words, to put us all back on the right path, on God’s path.

I also think about the times we have had to help our children or our friends make a decision. We cannot change them, nor can we make their decisions for them. Our prayer has been, and must continue to be, that they would listen to their “inner voice,” to the Spirit, to God.

We have a “key question” that we have asked for many years (starting especially when our kids were teens) in our house when we are/were making tough decisions: “Will this decision, this path, lead me closer to, or farther from my ULTIMATE goal?”

Of course the ULTIMATE goal, must be heaven, but sometimes we “see” the goal as smaller, like a career choice—then we have ask ourselves the same question again, about the smaller goal—“will this decision lead me closer to , or farther from my ULTIMATE goal?” That goal always has to end ultimately at heaven.

Then my inner voice, the one I must always “answer to,” leads me to make decisions which ultimately follow the Spirit. And if I answer to the Spirit, eventually I will find the Spirits promises: peace, comfort, rest, and happiness within God’s graces.

So, what decisions are you currently wrestling? Could the answer, the key to your decision, be that you are not listening to your “inner voice,” to the Spirit within you? Is your decision one that will lead you to your ultimate goal? Are you listening, TRULY LISTENING to the Spirit among us?

“Come Holy Spirit, Come to My Aid, Fill My Heart, Give Me Rest, Bring Me Comfort, So That I May be Blessed.” Amen.

May the Spirit of God, Fill Your Week!



Monday, June 7, 2010

Who is My King?

Women of Faith:

I am sure everyone of us has, or is, or will, at some point in our lives, get up five days a week and either put the kids on the bus, or go to a job.

Why? Because it is our responsibility. To “learn,” because the government tells us we should, and to provide for our basic needs.

I am sure, that because we are all Christians we are just as diligent every Sunday, in spending the Sabbath with God as our primary boss, and as our focus. First, we set an example and take our children to church and then, we spend time refreshing our Christian souls, spending time with our family or by using Christ’s day to serve others. We set aside school (the government) and jobs (money) and let Sunday be “God’s day.”

Or are we? What are we letting intrude into “God’s day?” Are we standing up as Christians and telling our other “kings” that Sunday is sacred? Are we showing our children and our neighbors who the real King in our lives is? Is Christ our King?

Ps 121: 7-8 “Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The LORD will guard you from all evil; he will guard your life. The LORD will guard your coming and your going,both now and forever.

How can we be helped if we don’t make God our King? How can God guard us if we allow 5 days of the week to overshadow God’s day or if we “skip” God’s day this week? Why is it so important to remind ourselves and others that Christ is our King.

Matthew Kelley, in “The Rhythm of Life” talks about God’s day, with an emphasis on it as a day of rest: “The philosophical foundation of the lifestyles celebrated by the media screams, “Life is about what you have and what you do.” Pleasure, possession, and power are the three pillars… The emphasis is on having and doing, rather than on BECOMING. The truth is that what you BECOME is infinitely more important than what you do, or what you have.”

So , can I become “Christ” if I don’t spend a day with Christ? How can I become an imitator of Christ, my King, if I let the world become my King?

Dear God: Praise be Your Holy Day! I am sorry for the times when I let someone or something other than you be my King. Thank you for giving me a day to “rest” with you. Thank you for giving me time to spend with you and with my Christian family. Refresh my soul. Refresh the souls of my friends. Guard and protect me this week. And help me always to “become” more like you. Amen.

Blessings on your Week—