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Lent 2016……..steps

Put one foot in front of the other, you’re walking.  You’re moving forward.

Jesus did this.  He put one foot in front of the other and walked into the wilderness to be tempted.  Not to give into temptation but to overcome it.

Do you remember when the Devil tempted Jesus?  …I am waiting….. Okay – at the END of the forty days (and nights) the Devil tempted Jesus.  Only in His human nature when He was weak is when the Devil approached.  For some reason I never put two and two together, then on Sunday at yet another parish (in our quest to find where we should be) did I hear that “and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

We are only approached by the Devil in our weakest moments.  That is when he can take advantage of us.  That is why we need to train like athletes, keep tuned up, stay in shape, keep strong in the faith.  By doing this we at least have fewer temptations and when they do appear we are more equipped to defeat him.

 

The Basics

I was sitting at my favorite bar talking to the bartender.   He is taking some college courses right now so I asked him how he was liking it,  “It’s boring”  “Why do I have to take these basic english and business math classes again that I took in high school?”  So I ask what his major is, “General Business”.    I’ll take another beer and here’s my advice to you.

Learn the basics.   The three R’s;  Reading, Riting and Rithmatic.  (maybe our elected politicians should be tested on the basics….)

These things you will carry throughout your life. You are giving me change back from my bar tab, learn how to count it backwards without the use of a computer.  You need to add four beers to my tab, how much is that?    I would like to leave a 20% tip, would you add that on my bill please.  Are you able to read the pamphlet of information on the drugs you about to take?   Can you write down directions for me?  Now I know that there are other things or lessons that we should learn, that will enhance our lives.   But let’s be honest here and say we need these everything tools first.  These MUST be in ingrained in our memory first.

Acquire some skills.   Everyone one of us has the ability to learn some type of skill.   What skills do you possess?  Maybe you are mechanically inclined and like to take things apart and put them together (mechanic, engineer, carpenter, welder, chef ).    In today’s world it is so easy to learn a new skill, all you need to do is YouTube it and someone has made a video showing you how to do it.  (See where learning the basics comes in handy here).

Have Faith.   You need to have faith, trust and love.   Have faith that you already possess all of these, you were born with them.  All you need to do is find them.   Have faith in your family that they are raising you the best they know how.  Have trust in your teachers and leaders that they are doing the best they can for you.  Love your family, your friends, your neighbors and even love those you hate to the best of your ability.  What I mean is not to seek revenge but extend a hand when they need help.   For most of our kind acts we do not need to exchange words, our works will suffice and send a more significant message of love, faith and trust to those who need it.

That’s my advice – take it for what it’s worth.   I’ll take another in honor of my brother.

2015 Easter Time

It always happens doesn’t it?  We are cruising along the highway of life.   Something happens,  a loved one falls ill,  an accident happens or a tragedy.   We don’t expect it, we can not foresee it and we never want it.   We have to adjust, adapt and move forward because there is not a rewind button.

The excitement of Holy Week rushed by.   And now I am finding myself standing in the pool of exhilaration like when you go down one of those big water slides!   It is Easter time!

Easter (FYI – the resurrection of Jesus) doesn’t end on Easter Sunday.   Jesus shows Himself multiple times to many different people (One of the many reasons that the christian faith is so strong is the fact that many people testified to this fact and not only was it recorded in many letters (aka the Bible), but it also had to be passed down, verbally, to many more friends and family.  Which makes up our deposit of faith.)   One of my favorites is on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) when Jesus comes upon two men walking home from Jerusalem, three days after Jesus was crucified.   He walked and talked with them.   He explained to them why He had to be crucified.  They were amazed.   They wanted more.   Later that day as they were about to dine with Him  I think they were astute enough to ask Him to say a blessing before breaking the bread.   And Jesus “took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them” , their eyes were opened and then Jesus vanished.

This year during Easter time, let us be willing to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts and recognize Jesus in our lives.   Now Jesus can appear in many ways such as; movies, music, children, animals, scenery, sports, work or even old family pictures.   The funny thing is if you seek Him, you are more likely to find Him!

2015 Lent Day 35

Today’s Readings

I once took a job that I thought would be pretty exciting, decent pay and challenging.  Two days into the job it was not what I thought.   With the long hours I saw my decent pay dwindling.   Then the final straw was put on when, on a Friday they told me I had to work on that Saturday  – no thanks!   I had turned down some other jobs for that job and now I was trying to back track to those jobs to see if they were still open – nope.   Oh boy, not a good time to complain about not having a job.

The people were just freed from Egypt’s reign and abuse.  They had been wandering the wilderness for some time now and start to complain about God and Moses.  Oh boy, not a good time to complain about being freed.

Sometimes the path that God leads us on seems like the wrong one.  If His voice is clear to you along your journey then stay on the path.  If it seems muddled or confusing, seek guidance, pray, look for other signs.  But have faith that the Lord is with you!

2015 Lent Day 32

Today’s Readings

March madness is all around us.  We pick our teams based on their record, RPI, BPI, FBI and grade point averages. We discount those teams that we have never heard of and we have to do a little research.     The problem with making logical picks is we discount what those teams possess in their heart and soul to thrive.

People discounted from where Jesus was from as well.

“What good could come out of Nazereth?”

“Isn’t he the carpenters son?”

“This is the Christ?”

But blessed be those who believed with their heart and soul!!!   For it is by their faith that they passed down to each generation that we believe that this IS the Christ that is among us even today!!

 

 

2015 Lent Day 28

Today’s Readings

“Do you want to be well?”   How many of us refuse help?   Somebody wants to lend us a hand and we refuse, why?  Because we can handle it, because we don’t want any charity, because we did this to ourselves we can get ourselves out it, because of pride.

Good thing this crippled man did not refuse Christ, not even knowing He was Christ.   This cripple accepted charity, accepted the command of   “take your mat and walk”.    After all faith is believing without seeing as well as believing without any reservations.

Why are you so unbelieving?  Why do you doubt that their is a creator?  Why do we doubt so many who saw these miracles happen before their eyes?

Have faith, have hope.    Take up your mat and walk.

 

2015 Lent Day 27

Today’s Readings

I was visiting with an elderly friend of mine recently.  We go to the same parish and the thought occurred to them that, since I am a convert, that I am more spiritual than they are.   I disagreed with them about that and mentioned that they regularly attend mass, are with their family consistently and do good in all other areas of life.   We started talking about what my wife and I teach for the Church and they said “see you are more spiritual”.   More knowledge is not spiritual and gut feelings is not more knowledgeable.   So because you can quote book, chapter and verse does not make you a more “spiritual” person, you are good at memorization.

The pharisees thought they were more spiritual than everyone else because they adhered to the law of Moses.   But then along comes Jesus and is present not to abolish the laws but to fulfill them.   And to the father who believes his child will be healed because Jesus told him so, that is spiritual.

2015 Lent Day 16

Today’s Readings

I do not do yoga.   My daughter and some others I know do like to do yoga.  My niece is an advanced instructor of yoga.   My version of yoga is called “be still big dog” as I lie flat on my back with my head slightly tilted back, my eyes closed for quite meditation and I dream of being real flexible.   I really have no idea of all the poses in yoga or the meaning of the different poses.  But from the outside it seems like a very relaxing, yet strenuous activity.  With the core of your body and mind being centered or focused on what you are doing.  And like anything that once you start to get good or comfortable with it, it is very relaxing.

Recently a post on Facebook mentioned that a catholic priest thinks that practicing yoga leads you to the devil.  Well this banner is being held up by other Christian denominations as well!  Luckily the catholic church allows it members some leeway in this area, as well as believing in all the apparitions of Mary (Lady of Guadalupe, Lady of Lourdes, Fatima).  I do not believe that practicing yoga will lead you to the devil BUT  is determined by where your roots are.

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,             
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.

 

So if doing yoga, cycling, running, lifting etc.  helps you water your roots and brings you closer to God then I say  “be still big dog” !

 

2015 Lent – Ash Wednesday

Well it happened again. Again Lent somehow came in like a thief in the night and is upon us.
Why? Why now?
We were ticking along pretty smoothly like a fine watch. This past summer and fall was the best we had in a long time. We spent time with our families, traveled to Ireland and even went skiing for the first time (well I went skiing for the first time). So we are just fine, right?

Well, in the words of Kenny Rogers,  you picked a fine time to come Lent!   I’ll drop everything I am doing and re-organize my schedule.   I believe I have slot open for praying somewhere, it may have to be next Thursday between 4-5pm – will that work?  No?  Okay, Okay…  How about I try to clean out the cupboard and take the expired canned beans to the food bank?  No?  How about I take the clothes from my closet, that don’t fit anyway, to Goodwill – that should…No?

Lent is time for change.  A change of habits.  A change of heart.  A change of your thought process (think before doing).

It is not intended to be a quick fix program.

So for the next forty plus days – let us examine our ways, our hearts and our souls.

Ash Wednesday Readings

 

 

Why I am catholic ……. the crucifix

I grew up in a “non-denominational” church, Church of Christ.   Our building had no decorations or windows.  We did have a very large baptismal pool and vaulted ceilings.  It was never decorated for any season or purpose ( maybe weddings had some decorations).    The outside was just as boring.   All brick and no signs that it is even a church, other that the road sign that says “Church of Christ”.

So why do some churches profile a plain cross and the catholic church show a full crucifix?    Well I grew up with neither.   So here is my observation, years and decades later.   The plain cross is a “nice” reminder.  It reminds us of Jesus’ death, that it He suffered on the cross for our sake.  It helps us to remember His sacrifice.  The cross was once a symbol of suffering and ultimately death by cruel methods.  But Gods use of it has turned  that symbol upside down for us to be able to see  past the suffering and death.   The cross is now a symbol of hope, love and the life to come.

So why is it so important to remember this?  What can the cross do for me?

When I read the bible and it details the not so pleasant events of the process of torture, hatred, humiliation and the hammering Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.   When we reflect upon Jesus hanging there on the cross one does wonder why did God do this?  Why would God put His Son through this human suffering?   In Luke 23:35    “The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.””   So the question is why do we need reminded of this?  Well, I, us, we tend to forget.  We want to look past the suffering and only be reminded of the positive.   Well that is what I usually want to do, I want to look past my past.  I only want to look at the positive, never the negative.   I do not like to look in the past and the mistakes I have made in life.  Now God did not make a mistake, but we need to be reminded of His sacrifice and His love for us.  Remember that He came down to us, to show us how to live, love, laugh and to follow Him.

So now we begin to understand the crucifix, not just a cross, but we see Jesus’ agony on the cross.  We are reminded that He was 100% human and 100% divine, we need this reminder.  We need to see the suffering,  we need to see that our agonies and sufferings are miniscule compared to His!   So we need this not-so-nice reminder.

God may we begin to understand your love and mercy for us through your Son who died on the cross for us!

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