Monday, May 30, 2011

If Only

Friends in Faith:

Is your faith, your marriage, your family life, or your time tested by the “if only’s?”

If only… I had tried harder or not given up so quickly. If only… I had said this or not said that. If only…. I had one more day or one more hour to do something differently.

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it….
“... So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, or when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. … and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does…. “ James 1

How many times do we have to live with the regrets of an “if only” because we gave up too soon?

Do we give up because we lost confidence or felt like there was no hope? Do we give up because we don’t feel like we can take the pain any longer? Do we feel like we are reliving “ground hogs” day and we don’t want to do it one more time?

What if God would have given up after he created the sun and the moon? What if God would have given up after he created Adam? What if God would have given up when Adam and Eve sinned? What if God had given up before He sent Jesus to us? What if God had given up before He sent us His Spirit to guide us? What if there were no apostles to spread the Gospels?

What if parents quit telling their young children “no?” What if a home builder couldn’t “see” past the framework? What if no one “talked” to their family? What if no one ever served another person, a waitress, a beautician, a housekeeper, or a cook? What if no one ever said “please” or “thank you?”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up on a goal because I feel as if everything is working against me.

If only…I had stayed on my diet and not given in to that one little “brownie” put before me.

Sometimes I am tempted to quit because there just isn’t enough time, so I put off what is truly important because of more urgent demands.

If only… I had spent time with family or friends instead of searching the internet or reading “junk mail/email.”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up on societal problems because they are so large I don’t know how I could possibly improve the situation or help solve the problem.

If only…I were more influenced by the example of the saints, like Mother Theresa who just kept moving forward for God’s greater goals and less influenced by “the Jones.”

Sometimes I am tempted to give up because I don’t see a “personal” reward or the person I am working with doesn’t show any gratitude for the time commitment I have made to help them.

If only…I would remember that God rewards me with His grace even when I forget to say “thank you” for His blessings.

Heavenly Father, Your example of perseverance is perfect guidance and strength. Help me to focus on goals that are made for Your glory—my family, my health, Your time, and Your grace. Thank you for blessing me with this day, this hour to spend in Your presence. Help me not to give up too soon, but to move forward in Your path, towards Your light, guided by Your truth. Show me the way by guarding me from the evil that tempts me to give up so that I don’t have to live with the regrets of the “if only’s.” Amen.

What is your “if only?” Is God Your strength? Will you persevere in seeking and finding His truth, living his commandments and serving others as he has called us to do?

Make today a day that you set aside one “if only!”

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm Still Here!

Friends in Faith:

Yes, I am still here. And, no, the world didn’t come to an end on Saturday, at least not for anyone reading this message.

But, whether we like it or not; whether we are prepared or not; whether we have changed the way we are living our life or not—we are all closer to our end, to judgment day, to the end of what we know as life on earth.

But are we one day closer to heaven or are we one day closer to hell? Would we be satisfied that tomorrow or even the next second might be our last?

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” Mark 13:33-34

Just because the world didn’t end Saturday doesn’t mean that the world won’t end someday. And just like we didn’t know whether that day would be Saturday, we really don’t know when that day will be.

Jesus also told us how we should love, how we would know His love and how He would reveal His love so that we could be with Him in our final time:

“Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Jn 14:21-26

I have been taught His commandments, so am I living His commandments? God has been revealed to me thru Jesus’ death on the cross, so am I keeping His word, am I loving as He has taught me to love, and am I willing to sacrifice my life for His?

Or am I waiting until the last possible moment to make that choice, living day to day, and hoping that somehow I will know when my last day will be, so that I can change, pray, accept, love, serve, believe, care or give, “just in time.”

When will the last day be, when will my last day be? I don’t know. But I do know
that I am not going to wait to find out, to try to “market time” my life. God deserves better! Jesus gave us more, therefore I need to give everything, not just at the end, but all the time.

Heavenly Father: Praise be the time You have given me, Your time. Thank you for each moment you give me to learn to serve you. Thank you for all the time I have been given to spend with Stan, with my family, and with my friends. But most importantly thank you for the time I have to give back to you. I owe you so much for your promise of heaven. Help me to make every choice as if it were my last. Help me to speak every word as if it were my last. Help me to be deserving of an eternal life with you. Amen.

Make every moment count!


Monday, May 16, 2011


Women of Faith:

Are we in a “shortcut” society? We have microwaves and tweets; fast food restaurants and text messaging and email. Out of favor are walks around the block, a handwritten letter delivered by the postal service or a meal cooked in the oven and eaten around the family kitchen table.

We are looking for instant food, easy exercise, instant messaging and instant gratification. We pray and expect an immediate answer. Time is measured in minutes and seconds instead of hours and days and it can’t take more than 140 characters to get our message across. We want to hit the “easy” button.

And we wonder why are children (and ourselves) can be so demanding and have so little patience to endure difficult circumstances, or even to look for, wait, or see the simple pleasures or treasures of life.

“Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” Jn 10:1-10

So what actions do I take that make me like the thief and the robber; someone who jumps the fence before I get to the gate, shortcutting God’s plan and yet hoping to receive all of God’s promises and graces? Do I believe I can “shortcut” my path to heaven?

Do I think I will get to heaven just because I say I believe in God? Have I done just what I think is “enough.” Or do I continually strive to try to do more to honor Him, to serve Him, and to love Him? Am I feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned. (Mt 25:34-46) Am I caring for the widows and children? Do I love my spouse “completely,” without seeking repayment, reward, and “instant” happiness?

There is no “shortcut” to God. The bible gives us instructions to live our lives, our marriages, (Eph 5:21-33) to serve each other and to be His shepherds by leading others to Him. God promises us eternal life, but he doesn’t promise us that this life will be easy.

It takes patience, it takes enduring the hardships and the sufferings of life. Happiness can’t be turned to lasting joy by shortcutting God’s plans for my life.

Just because all I want to do is “believe,” doesn’t mean I will “automatically” be rewarded his grace—I can’t take the easy way out, I can’t take shortcuts, I can’t just do what I want and still expect to receive God’s reward. I have to “do” God’s instructions. He didn’t die on the cross to make salvation “easy”, he died to make salvation possible.

God wants us to believe in Him and then live like believers —Serve! Give! Lead!
Love! Give me everything you have—your service, your gifts, your leadership, your love.

Bring me your life as I brought you mine. Give me your gifts (time, money and talents)(Mt 25:14-30) so that I can “multiply” them and give them back to you.

Love each other as you wish to be loved.

Be a shepherd by bringing others into the flock. Don’t take shortcuts, don’t take the easy way—come thru the gate, it is always wide open.

So, if you are tempted to tweet a shortcut, pass on or read Holy Scripture today, this is the path to the verses in bold 

Heavenly Father: Praise be your “instruction book”- the Bible. Help me to have wisdom and patience in understanding your messages. Hel p me to seek your full truth, not taking shortcuts just because I think I can get to You faster, or because it is easier. Thank you for Your patience in guiding me. Help me to remember that Your love is patient and does not seek its own interests by taking a shortcut. Amen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Women of Faith:

I am humbled and blessed that this writing is my 100th Monday morning reflection. I also think that it is appropriate to use today’s message to honor Jesus’ mother, Mary, the Queen of Heaven. Rev 12: 1-6

Have you ever wondered where we would all be if Mary had not accepted her role as the Mother of Jesus? If she had said no to her vocation as a mother? If she had decided to have a career outside the home or not to have children? Her choice to be the Virgin Mother was the first gift we as the children of God received.

Mary was no ordinary Mom; she was made special by God, for God, to carry His son. She is the temple by which God brought His only son into the world. He created her with absolute perfection, without blemish, full of grace, a virgin vessel which he used to deliver our redeemer. That perfection includes being conceived without sin.

Only Mary and Jesus were created without the blemish of original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve. Mary is the new Eve and Jesus the new Adam. She is the first saint in heaven and is the Queen of heaven.

The prayer we call “The Hail Mary” begins with two greetings Mary received before Jesus was born. The first part of the greeting comes from when Mary was called and accepted her role as the mother of Jesus at the annunciation. There the angel Gabriel announces that Mary will become the Mother of God by greeting her with: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women” Lk 1:28 And the second greeting by Elizabeth at the visitation, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Lk 1:42

And then at the end of Jesus’ own life He gave Mary to us at the crucifixion to be the mother of humanity. He looked down from the cross and said, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19: 26-27

The second part of the Hail Mary asks Mary to intercede with God for us at all times. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us Sinners Now and At the Hour of Our Death. Amen.”

This is the same intercessory type prayer that is the common practice we have as Christians asking for the prayer of our sisters and brothers. We have prayer groups, prayer chains, and prayer partners—each of us praying for the other. We ask our family, friends and relatives to pray for us because we believe and have seen the power of prayer—and the more people praying the better.

When I think about who I would ask to pray for me it would first be my own mom. She has the unconditional caring love that always champions my needs. Your own earthly mother is probably your biggest prayer partner friend. Likewise when one of our children has a huge favor to ask us as parents, they will probably come to me first, and ask me to take the favor to their dad.

So it is with prayer thru Jesus’ Mother, Mary. We go to her first, to have her ask our Father for the favors we need of Him, our heavenly Father. She is the most direct connection to God of anyone who has ever lived with the exception of Jesus himself. And she is with God in heaven.

Just as we ask our friends to pray for us, we ask Mary to pray for us, because if anyone can “reach” God’s listening ears she can.

We are told to ask the intercession of those Christians in heaven, who have already had their sanctification completed, for "the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (Jas. 5:16).

The practice of praying thru or using the saint’s intercessory powers is given to us in Rev. 8: 3-4. The saints (of which Mary is the greatest) are shown to be carrying our prayers to heaven as incense rising in Revelations: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God."

One of the most public requests Mary made for Jesus’ intercession came at the wedding feast in Cana, when Jesus performed his first public miracle. ‘On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."’John 2:1-5

The servers went to Mary FIRST to tell her that they were out of wine. She interceded with Jesus, asking for His help, “they have no more wine” and even though his hour had not yet come, she still told the servants “do whatever he tells you.” Jesus honored his mother’s request, miraculously changing the water to wine. We believe that she still works in that way for us today when we take our petitions to her.

Mary helped institute Jesus’ first public miracle and continues to help institute many miracles in our present day. She does NOT perform the miracles, but she is instrumental in asking God for his grace in our lives. This is another of the reasons Mary should be our closest saintly friend.

Likewise the group of prayers which make up the rosary helps us to meditate on Jesus’ life, taking us from the Virgin birth, to His life in public and the miracles He performed, to His final walk up to the cross, His resurrection and His ascension to heaven—all thru Mary’s eyes. As we meditate and pray the rosary, then, we are meditating on the Gospels, not praying to Mary but walking His life with her and seeing Him in prayer thru her.

In Father Corapi’s words, “How did Jesus come to us? Thru Mary. How do we get to Jesus? Thru Mary.” Our words to Mary are purified and sanctified and taken to God—when Mary speaks, God listens.”

Do we have to pray thru Mary? No, we don’t have to, we can still pray directly to God. But why didn’t the servants tell Jesus directly that they were out of wine? It just seems Dads have a special ear for Moms. And if I need my friends to pray for me, I also want Mary’s prayers—“now and at the hour of my death.”

Dearest heavenly Father, I give thanks to you for the role model our blessed mother has been for us and ask you to hear the intercessions she prays for us. Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. (Luke 1:28) Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, (Luke 1:42) Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

May we each live every day as Mary did, always saying yes to Our Father,


Monday, May 2, 2011

Middle of the Road

Friends in Faith:

I don’t like conflict. I am a peacemaker. I want to see good in everyone I meet. I have a hard time listening to someone who is talking “trash,” or to someone who is laying blame on another person instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. I don’t like the confrontation of having to tell someone that their choice is against God’s commandments.

I have a difficult time taking a “righteous” stance if it means I might have to offend or make an enemy of someone. I want everyone to be my friend. I don’t want to have to “suffer” someone’s ill thoughts that I was either judgmental or acting out of my own self fulfillment. I sometimes find it easier to walk the “middle of the road” than to be persecuted because I chose to reveal or speak God’s truth.

But God says that we will suffer because we have faith. Many of His chosen people, the saints, who have been raised to the glory of heaven, were martyrs; martyrs who died because they took a path that wasn’t “middle of the road.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope … to an inheritance … to a salvation that is ready to be revealed … although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-9
If we are walking on the “wrong” side or with the “wrong” friends we are probably being told that we can do what we want and that we can make our own path. We may think that because God loves us no matter what we do, or how we choose, we are safe. Those on the “wrong” side are choosing to ignore the laws; they are driving down the wrong side of the road. It isn’t difficult to see that the accident waiting to happen will be deadly.

If we walk in the middle, we might feel safe or it might be the path of least resistance, but chances are we are still going to be hurt. But the middle is exactly what it says, we are in a place where we can choose either to be saved, or we can end up dead. When we are in the middle, there is usually an outstretched hand, a spouse or friend waiting to pull us to safety. God is putting that someone in our path to help us to make the right choice.

The middle of the road is more difficult to “see.” It may not be completely wrong, but it is just as dangerous, maybe more so, because we feel better, “safer,” when we are in the middle.

Eventually we must choose. God does love us no matter what, but He gives us the freedom to choose to follow Him. We must ask forgiveness, we must seek his mercy and we must have the commitment and discipline to try to do better.

What happens when I walk in the middle of the road in my faith journey? Will I become “road kill?” Can I survive?

When I am in the middle, I am no better than Thomas when he is doubting Christ or Peter when he is denying Christ. I must choose one side or the other, the right or the wrong. I must choose between heaven and hell. There is no middle path, no middle destination, when we are talking about our choice to follow God.

Dear God: Praise be Jesus’ choice to suffer and die for me so that I may have the opportunity to join You in heaven. Thank you for His resurrection which was given with the promise of eternal life if I choose His path, the right side of the road. Help me to choose His way even when the middle looks easier. Give me the strength to choose what is right and to accept my sufferings with the Spirit of courage you have granted me in faith. Amen.

Does it bother me that someone will speak about me unkindly? Yes. But if I am choosing the right side, if I have moved away from the middle, I know that God has promised me His protection. I may suffer, but in the end I will have achieved the ultimate in survival.

Blessings as you move away from the middle,