Monday, December 28, 2015

O Come All Ye Faithful

Women of Faith:

O Come, All Ye Faithful, Joyful & Triumphant for we have been blessed by the birth of Your Holy Savior, Christ Jesus.

 “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” Ti 2: 11-14

So, am I truly faithful, joyful and triumphant? Do I accept the training I am being given to reject godless ways and worldly desires?

It IS the true reason for the appearance of the glory of God – Jesus Christ our savior!

I am being called to live according to His commandments, faithful in my trust, to live devoutly so that I can trust that God (not I) will handle whatever comes my way—even if it causes me distress, sorrow or suffering.
I am being called to be triumphant and joyful in all the gifts I have been given—especially for the freedom to have the opportunities to know Jesus and to accept His very real presence in the Eucharist and in my very life itself.

“Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 Jn 1: 5-2: 2

I constantly remind myself that I have been given so much more than so many other believers, especially those in other countries. Opportunities for family, spiritual guidance and even material possessions: gifts which I may be asked to give back even though it may cause me pain because I have become used to “having” that particular gift.

And I know that the greatest gifts I have been given are the ones that don’t “cost money”: my very life and the love and acceptance of my human faults by family and friends, especially by those I so often take for granted.

And I am reminded also of the gifts of wisdom and knowledge which allow me to freely know and learn more and more about His plans, His design and to see the signs of His presence in my life. I am amazed by what is revealed to me, for the more I know, the more I know there is to know.

Heavenly Father: Thank you for showing me your presence in my life. Help me to remain your faithful and trusting servant. Allow me to be triumphantly joyful, especially for the gifts of your mercy and forgiveness, which you give to me so freely when I fail to acknowledge and obey your design for my life. Please help me to use my gifts wisely so that others may see “Jesus” through me. Amen.

Keep the true Spirit of Christmas alive in your life – Oh, come let us adore Him by, in, and with faithful, exuberant, and joyful trust!
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Having a Party. You're Invited.

Friends of Faith:

I’m having a party. Are you coming?

Essentially that is what God is telling us every day. He’s inviting us to a party. And it is our choice as to how we respond-- yes or no, there is no “in between” or “maybe” answer. We either show up or we don’t.

We must not be too busy, too worried, too anxious, or too ready to do it ourselves. We must rejoice that he is asking.

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4: 4-7

We must love him more than our jobs; the Iowa Rosebowl, Iowa State basketball or the Chicago Cubs playoff; our kids soccer coach who says the kids won’t play if they don’t go to practice; The Voice or whatever it is on TV that is “our show;” our lake house or whatever else it is that keeps us away from church, prayer and working with the poor.

We must choose him over everything else.

Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast* for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,* and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Mt 22: 1-14

And because God says “what we do for the least of our brothers, so we do for Him” sometimes the choice isn’t just about my attendance at church (that’s a given) but the tougher choice about choosing to stay home from work, shopping, or skipping something recreational, to take care of my family or my neighbor; have a listening ear to someone who is lonely; or spending time with someone who is ill.

The great thing about God though is that he keeps giving us a second chance, and he asks us for nothing, only that we ourselves be with Him. He does not ask us to bring presents, food, or challenging games or conversations only the gifts of our time and talents. And He continues to give us the chance to say yes with the opportunities for giving into faith and shutting out the worlds call for more success, more money, and more happiness. He simply calls us to love him through our love for others.

Heavenly Father, I want to say yes! Help me to shut out the worldly distractions. Help me to realize I can’t do everything by myself. Help me to realize that others need what you have given me as a gift. Thank you for giving me answers to my prayers and the faith to see you in the tough choices I am called to make. Please give me and others peace, joy and comfort when we say yes and when we see others say yes because we have been a witness for you. Amen.

Will you be one of the chosen because you said yes when he invited you? God asks everyone but His question requires an answer. Make your RSVP this Advent season! 

Let’s not forget that Christmas is His party. I’m hoping to see you there.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Finding Balance

Friends of Faith:

Each time I write I struggle to find balance in what I write – to share and to teach, but not to preach; to inspire with hope, but 
not give into the despair of my own shortcomings; and to seek and share truth but not judge our human tendencies to give in to our selfish desires.

That’s the way earthly life is if we believe in God’s grace. It is a journey to constantly seek the truth, while acknowledging that we all have faults, a journey in which God promises us His undeserved love, mercy and forgiveness, if we will only accept it. And a journey through a world filled with temptations demanding everyday choices between earthly happiness and heavenly righteousness, a journey which if we have faith and trust in God tells us that He offers us every gift: love, happiness, our daily needs, peace and joy.

I find this balancing act to be even more of a challenge each Advent season.

A challenge to give to all of those that are needy, while receiving what others offer to me in charity.

A challenge to find quiet time in prayer, in church and in search of God in my own life, while doing all of the things I want to do to help others to feel God’s love in theirs.

A challenge to accept God’s forgiveness for my own shortcomings, while being patient in offering mercy to those who do not yet have an understanding of what God is granting them through truth and grace.

A challenge to both remember and share that JESUS is the Reason for the Season and that I should be grateful that his gifts are free.

“Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception,  to discern what is of value,  so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness  that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” 
Phil 1: 4-6, 8-11 AMEN!!

Take time for God. Pray, hope and find Balance. Know that all He wants from us is our faithfulness in Him. Seek and share the truth, be thankful, and accept His love and the love of others.

May the peace and joy of the season, of Christ Jesus, be with you all.