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AFRAIDNOT

Do not be afraid. Just have faith. Mark 5:36

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Offer It Up April 30th


We know it’s true that everyone wants to feel better, reduce stress, and shed unwanted pounds. That’s why people continue to spend billions in the health and fitness industry. People - especially myself - purchase diet books, join health clubs, hire personal trainers, start Weight Watchers time and time again because they want to look and feel better. Slowly but surely though, those same people are discovering that walking may be the best exercise of all. There is a fitness philosophy, which first took hold in Japan, that touts walking 10,000 steps a day. It’s gaining popularity in other countries and we’re no exception here in the fad-conscious US. Experts do advise though, starting slowly and working toward a higher goal, realizing each day that every step counts.

Walking. What a concept.

It's even more important to stay spiritually fit by "walking with God," which the Bible describes as an intimate, growing relationship with the Lord. "Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (6:9). Both men are mentioned in Hebrews 11, where they are commended for their faith. "Enoch . . . had this testimony, that he pleased God" (v.5). "Noah . . . became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (v.7).

To walk with God, we need to keep in step without running ahead or lagging behind. Along the way, we talk with the Lord, listen to Him, and enjoy His presence. We trust His guidance when we cannot see what lies ahead. It is not just the destination that's important, but the journey we take together. Through our commitment to our formation, our journey - whether it started back in September or a few weeks ago - has begun. There's no better time than now to begin walking with God, because each day every step counts. Take heart in knowing that your brothers and sisters in Christ will be there with you every step of the way as well.                                   sbf


Offer It Up April 29th


Why me? What did I do to deserve this, Lord?

What else is going to happen?

I don’t need this right now Lord!

I have run through these phrases, or similar ones, while throwing myself my own little pity parties. Maybe you have heard them too in your own way, while mired in your ‘ain’t it awful’ exchanges with those that would take time to listen to your woes. After a while, some of us soon come to realize just how awful it is to live that way—worrying, carrying anger, resenting, hating—and we look to reset our way of thinking. A way of accepting what God has planned for us.

I read something some time ago and it came across in a daily reading again—God takes us where He wants us to follow. What we learn as we go with Him may seem of little use to us at the time but at some point, it may be just the thing someone else needs—or we need—later in our lives. There is a time and purpose to everything. What a stranger shares with us in a smile and exchange may come back to us years later in our own time of need. What we experience as sorrow today may stay in our hearts for a time when share with someone the joy of how God brought us through it.

Thank God for bringing you through the highs and lows, the ups and downs. How bland and empty would life be without them? And when the storm is raging and the winds and waters are crashing down on you, know that God has brought you to this to bring you through it. Trust Him. He has made our plan. He can calm our storms. He is God.

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Do not work for food that perishes. . . . (John 6:27)


Offer It Up April 28th


Faith produces good works

Galatians 3:3-5

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? — if indeed it was in vain. Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?

It all sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Go to church, read some scripture, say some prayers and you should be good to go, right? After all, going to church is an action of your faith… saying prayers is action of your faith… even reading is an action, right? So is this what we are supposed to do-this and only this?

What all that is on the outside is good, but can be better. What really matters is what is on the inside. As goes the heart, so goes the body. If we were to look at what we are accomplishing from our outside perspective, we would see little wrong with what we are doing, if that is all we ever knew. But we do know more. If we were to adjust our view and look at what we are doing from within ourselves—from inside the heart, looking outward—we might find out that the material things we are settling for are of little value compared to what God has called us to do.

How is it that we can truly carry out God’s plans if we continue to settle for less than His full complement of love? God is not selfish. He has all of it to give. We have all of it to accept. Yes, it can start with the prayers, attending mass or Sunday or church services and reading Scriptures. But then you can take it beyond that and put it into a higher gear. Random acts of kindness. Increasing your tithe. Volunteer more. Small steps to bigger ones. You will soon see how God can impact your life as you impact others.


Offer It Up April 27th


John 6:23-29

Other boats had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’

Jesus answered: ‘In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to carry out God's work?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the one he has sent.’

A lot of times, I find myself giving attention to numerous things that really, in the grand view and scope of life, will matter little whether they are done right then or not. When I finally recognize that I am locked in this mode—a friend of mine calls it the BADD mode, for Bindel’s ADD (Look, something shiny… hey, is that a chicken?)—I have since learned to stop and reassess what it is that truly needs to be done. What is really important, what is not; what can be done now; what can be done later... what doesn’t need to be done at all. And this is not to say that my attention to so many things is all wrong or bad, but it is to say that I might need to rethink why it is I am trying to do the things I am doing.

The secular world can do that to us. We can get wrapped up in the news, the entertainment world, sports, who won, who lost. We see the headlines in tabloids. Magazines. The latest on the television shows. We can even get overly consumed in our own spiritual life to the detriment of our family and jobs. What is it that we want from all of this? Is it the busyness? Or is it a matter of attention? Of our focus?


Maybe that’s what is. It is about our motives; why we are doing what we are doing. If we are doing it for our own benefit, nope, not a good thing. This life is not about us. We get preoccupied with what we think God wants for us instead asking Him first.

Consider your situation, consider what it really is that you want to get done and then ask and pray in words in action so that you will be open to hear and know that His will be done. As in John’s Gospel, to carry out God’s work, our actions here on earth are not for our earthly life but for our eternal life. That’s where our focus should be. The food of Eternal Life. db

Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life


Offer It Up April 26th


Luke 24:29-36

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.

But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."

Like the two going to Emmaus, we may find ourselves doing this in our lives; we go throughout the day with our usual plan of action, caught up in our own world, trying to make sense of our thoughts and make them real. In this case, the two know God is real yet they are trying to grasp how it is that Jesus could do what He had done… obviously, they were having their doubts. They wanted to know more; and maybe this person whom they met on the road could be the one to tell them what they needed to know.

Every day we have our doubts. Every day we over-think things. Our faith is shaken, our lives are in distress. We get caught up in our own analysis traps, thinking too much instead of knowing that God will bring us to what He has planned for us should we only open ourselves to His will.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

Again, like the two on the road to Emmaus, every day we want to be open to recognize Him so that when He does approach us, we will know Him. He already knows us. Inside and out. The more we come to know Him, the more our hearts will burn to love Him more.

John 6:29

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."


Offer It Up April 25th


1 John 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Holidays happen, right? And of course, we celebrate them, relative to the amount of interest we have in them. In our Christian faith, we turn to Easter and Christmas as the holidays we give most of our attention—and faith—to. And as it often happens we can get caught up in the trappings of the material world and lose sight of what we are celebrating. Along with the many other secular practices, we rush into the what the world offers us—gifts, parties, money—anything but what we should be doing.

And then it’s over. A day or two before. The day of. Maybe a day after. Add the days up around Christmas and Easter and for a matter of five or six days, we celebrate and then we put it on the shelf till it takes it turn on the calendar a year from now. So much like the light mist on a spring morning, it’s gone before we know it.

How long will it be before we let go of this Easter season, if we haven’t done so already? Surely the half-price sales have gone to 75% off by now for what goods are left. But is that what is really important? The Easter season is now in full swing on the Catholic Christian calendar, with readings from the Acts of the Apostles and John at the masses from now till Pentecost. The message is to continue to live the Resurrection. To live the glory of being ‘born again’ every day. To know that Jesus Christ not only died for our sins but rose from the dead so that we too will rise again. For all of that, don’t you think it’s worth more than just a week’s worth of ceremony and worship?


Offer It Up April 24th


Ephesians 5:1-2, 10

So be imitators of God, as beloved children,

and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

He’s not going anywhere.

Anthony de Mello told this about a preacher who said “We must put God in our lives,” and God said, “I am already there. Your task is to recognize this.”

Really, how true that is. God is always here, there and everywhere. And how often it is that we just choose not to realize or recognize the enormity of His presence. What do we do? We opt out when we should stay to task. We give up when we should stand up. We pass judgment when we should offer guidance. We quit when we should carry on.

Regardless of our spiritual condition, our emotional state or our mental state of affairs, God is still God and He is still as big and as present as He has always been and always will be.

He’s not going anywhere.

And nothing we can do will make Him bigger or any more present than what He is now. Nothing we can do will make us any more worthy than we already are in His eyes for His love is everlasting and unconditional. No frequent prayer points or Scripture sky miles—not that either of those won’t improve us as believers—God has all the love for us He can give us.

It is up to us to live in it, with it, and for it.

Really, how true is that? db


Offer It Up April 23rd


James 1:22-25

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.

In this sermon I heard recently, the priest spoke about how a woman had recently attended a renewal weekend and she had explained to him that on several different occasions in just a few days after the weekend, she had experienced and felt ‘communication’ with the Holy Spirit. It was as if she had been somehow opened to hear or feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when she prayed.

Fr. Hoa explained to her that with her time at the weekend, she had allowed herself to become open to receive and accept the Word of God as she prayed. He compared it to the signals of radios and televisions being in the air where ever you go—if one had a radio tuned in to a local station, they could certainly hear what was being broadcast on that particular band. Same with a television—get a set of rabbit ear antennae and turn on the tube and see what you get.

As spiritual beings, we have to be the same way to receive what the Holy Spirit has in store for us. We have to be ready to hear or see, to be the signal receiver, as the Holy Spirit is always ‘on air’. And like the radio and television stations, it is not enough just to take in the signal but we have to do something with it once we receive it. We have to send it back out and let others hear or see what we are broadcasting in our lives… walking the talk, as it were. God is always ready, we just have to plug ourselves in and get tuned into what He wants us to do. db


Offer It Up April 22nd


John 3:7-8

You must be born from above. The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Ever run into someone you haven’t seen in a long while and you share some fellowship and the both of you lift each other’s spirits, though you walk away and wonder what the heck that was all about and then a few days later, you read or hear about something happening to that person—good or not so good—and you find yourself saying, “Wow, I just saw that guy a few days ago.”

Or you might be leaving work one evening and yet for the ‘accidental fact’ of a water bottle rolling off the seat, you stop to pick it up before entering traffic from the parking lot only to look up and see a pickup--traveling the wrong way on a one-way street—at about 30 mph, that would have certainly smashed into your car had you not stopped to pick up the water bottle.

In circumstances like these and in many others you may find yourself shuddering or feeling the sensation of goose bumps chasing all over your skin. We may not know for sure as we cannot see it to know, but we almost certainly can feel the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives when these things happen.

Nope, not blind luck.

Not just a coincidence.

Not the fate of the gods of the water bottles or long lost friends, either.

We don’t have to fully understand or completely grasp the mystery of what the Holy Spirit brings us and fills us with. We can see and know and feel the effect in and on our lives. That person we ran into we had not seen for some time? We may have changed something for them that we may never know. The wreck that didn’t happen? Obviously great news for you and for the other person—who may have been grieving in the loss of a loved one.

We live our entire lives and never know the many lives we have touched and changed; we have been changing our entire lives from the many lives that touched us. db

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead my blind people by roads they never traveled. I will turn their darkness into light.


Offer It Up April 21st


Proverbs 22:17-19cf

The sayings of the wise: Incline your ear, and hear my words, and apply your heart to my doctrine;

For it will be well if you keep them in your bosom, if they all are ready on your lips.

That your trust may be in the LORD

Come to the Silence

And God said...

Come to the silence,

Life is so loud - And your soul needs a break from the clock and the crowd.

Life can get loud. With all the sound bytes and bites coming at us, it is an amazing feat just to carry on a conversation sometimes. And that is just on the outside of our skin. What about what is going on within the confines of the mind? The heart? Our souls as we try to call on our Savior to help clear the clutter?

Come to the silence,

And let my love start, To heal all life's hurts, And comfort your heart

Don’t be afraid to let Jesus Christ in during the silence. After all, He is the Great Listener and Comforter, and with His listening and forgiveness, His mercy and grace can bring ease and relief to an otherwise harried and wearied heart.

Come to the silence,

Be calm and be still, Just rest in my arms - for today, that's my will...

For today, let His will be all you need. For today, His will IS all you need. Rest assured that rest in His arms is the assurance you want and need. You will find that it is like no other calm, no other stillness… know that He is God.

Come to the silence,

In search of my peace, Gently your doubts and your fears will all cease.

Let His peace flow over, in and through your heart, mind, body and soul. As much as you look for what is peaceful and fear it might be lost, surrender to what He has planned for you and leave your doubts at the Empty Cross. He is Risen so that you will have peace.

Come to the silence –

Here, take my hand, Have you forgotten, that I understand? Anonymous

He is I am. Let Him take you where He knows what is best for you. And trust Him, He does know what He’s doing. Just listen. db


Offer It Up April 20th


Romans 8:28-30

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

If we are to make His purpose ours, how do we go about that? If we acknowledge that He has a plan for us, does that not include then His purpose? I would say it does, provided we choose to do His will, His way.

Pretty much the way we go about living our lives is the way we will reach what He has made our purpose. In the life He has given us, we are challenged everyday to make do with what we have, to do the right thing, to make the best of a not-so-good situation, to ‘offer it up’ when the easy thing to do would be to react and pass judgment. And if we can’t or don’t meet the challenge, that sort of living brings about our own conditional purpose living instead His purpose.

He never said it would be easy to follow what He has planned for us. He did say His way was worth it. If we do ‘offer it up’ and if we make do with what we have, we will see the love of God grow in our lives as we accept His will. Mary did. So did Joseph. And it wasn’t easy for them, either. But look at how their lives turned out. He called them and they answered.

Be ready to do the same next time He calls. db


Offer It Up April 19th


John 8:47

Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.

There is a certain privilege that comes with belonging. To belong to God is the greatest privilege. It provides us the opportunity to encounter His living Word in all of Scripture, but most especially in the Gospels. While the Gospels offer different pictures of the man Jesus Christ, they also indicate what a right relationship with God looks like.

The privilege of belonging to God comes with the responsibility to grow into our own right relationship with Him. Mary is an example of one who belongs to God and cooperated with His will for her. Mary experienced in her faithfulness much joy and much heartache. Yet her right relationship with God and her awareness of his presence with her, was her strength.

From Finding God at www.loyolapress.com

When we look at the life Mary led, what can we gain from her way of life that will deepen our faith, our trust in God? Where can we go or what can we do make the Will of God our daily walk instead of our ‘instead of’ walk? Make the good , the better, the right and best choice to begin with and see how significant those choices become in following the will and way of God.


Offer It Up April 18th


Matthew 28:19-20

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

As Christian men, we often tend to be action-oriented. We can get over-involved at busyness, forgetting who our real ‘Boss’ is and say we ‘know the Lord’ but construe our work for Him as knowing Him; not a good thing but not entirely a bad thing either. It isn’t about the points, it is about a relationship of love and mercy and grace.

Of course, there are things we must do as his disciples—Jesus has told us to obey his commandments. But we must also do things out of our love for Him and for the love we have felt from Him. Things like giving up time to Him during a hectic schedule or stopping along the way to give a hand to someone who needs it, no matter how busy we say we are.

As a disciple, how can we continue to answer His call today? What if we asked the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love and a desire to know Him deeper so that we could serve Him more faithfully. Make your own prayer. Use one you know. Or use this one: “Lord Jesus, thank you for laying down your life for me out of your great love and mercy. I praise you because of what you did on the cross. Now I say yes to your call to be your disciple and freely give my life back to you. I ask for a fresh infilling of your Holy Spirit, and the grace to serve you and give your love to others.”

And if anyone were to ask what part of Jesus' spirit should they ask for, offer them this:

To follow Jesus:
"Care more than others think necessary.
Trust more than others think wise.
Serve more than others think practical.
Expect more than others think possible."
Anonymous

Mark 16:15

Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.


Offer It Up April 17th


Acts 3:1-10

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o'clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called "the Beautiful Gate" every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.

But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us."

He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.

Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, (rise and) walk."

Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.

When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

How often has it been that your faith has been crippled? And how long was it that you sat and waited for someone to come along and do something for you so that you would no longer be crippled? Ain’t it the pits? We find ourselves in these types of predicaments, many times of our own choice, and we wait for someone else to make an effort to help us… as if it is their problem.

Peter made it his problem to lead others to Jesus Christ. “About 3,000 were added that day.” “and the number grew to about five thousand.” Crippled or not. Slave or free. Rich or poor. Good or bad. His mission as a disciple was to continue his conversion as a follower of Jesus Christ and bring others to salvation.

That message and method is alive and well today. Kick up your heels and jump for joy for you too can be healed—spiritually through Jesus Christ. As the crippled man rose and walked, we too can rise from our sins and walk with our Risen Lord. Every day is a day of salvation and renewal with Him. Every day we are saved by His grace and mercy. Every day we are born again to live and love the way He commanded us to do.

What a remarkable way to live, don’t you think? db

Acts 3:12

There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."


Offer It Up April 16th


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, has a guard 24 hours a day. Every hour on the hour, 365 days a year, a new soldier reports for duty. When the new guard arrives, he receives his orders from the one who is leaving. The words are always the same: "Orders Remain Unchanged."

The same could be said of the orders that Jesus gave to His disciples. Just before He ascended to heaven, He told His followers, "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). He also said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Matthew 28:19).

The same could be said for us as well. What a precious gift our unforgettable weekend was to us, and how wonderful our formation was - to take us to a new level of discipleship. For some of us, it transformed us to be new disciples of Christ, and for others, it commissioned us to be stronger disciples. We will be serving these women every hour for thirty six hours this weekend. What a humbling gift we have been given again - to be able to experience our weekend again, and to see the beginning of the transformation in our guests, just as Christ and his disciples saw in us back in September.

But regarding the command to spread the good news of Christ, we can say these words to each other: "Orders remain unchanged."contributed by sbf

Keep the faith--

but not to yourself.


Offer It Up April 15th


EASTER!

The great feast that goes beyond any possible description or understanding. God who gave us life assures us that eternity is ours, why? because He loves us.

As the parish prepares for another CHRP weekend, we are invited to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew us all but particularly this weekend those who are opening themselves in faith to the working of the Spirit.

The demands on our lives can cause us too often to drift away from our plans to be faithful to our prayer time....it often seems that we can find time for all the "busyness" we can manage to inflict on ourselves but to spend quality time in meaningful prayer..ah how to do that faithfully?

The Easter season is a time to let the Alleluias ring in our minds and hearts and to rejoice in wonder and gratitude at all that God has done in Jesus Christ. The season of the year itself is a reminder of God's creative action and love as new life springs up all around us.

May God grant us all eyes, ears, the sense of smell, all to relish and enjoy the wonder of His presence and love.

The scriptures during the Easter Season provide us with much food for reflection and action Let the word of God fill you with the graces you need to live in holy Joy.

May the Easter season be a time of deep spiritual growth for all.

In Christ-

Deacon Shrek


Offer It Up April 14th


Isaiah 30:21

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,

While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: "This is the way; walk in it," when you would turn to the right or to the left.

GOD SAID
If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I'm a Healer?

If you never went through difficulties, how would you know that I'm a Deliverer?

If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?

If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I'm a Comforter?

If you never made a mistake, how would you know that I'm forgiving?

If you knew it all, how would you know that I will answer your questions?

If you never were in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue?

If you never were broken, then how would you know that I can make you whole?

If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them?

If you never had any suffering, then how would you know what Jesus went through?

If you never went through the fire, then how would you become pure?

If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them?

If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you?

If you had all power, then how would you learn to depend on me?

If your life was perfect, then what would you need Me for?

THANK YOU, GOD!

Submitted by Michael M.


Offer It Up April 13th

Matthew 28:9-19

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."

It’s the week of Easter Sunday. Life after The Resurrection. Contrary to the soldiers’ report, yes, He has risen. Now what?

“Do not be afraid.”

I would be. As much as I would want to believe that He was going to do what He said He was going to do, and then actually see that He did it—yes, I would be very afraid.

Afraid that I would not be able to do the things He set out for me to do.

Afraid that I would be lacking in the zeal He had when He first walked the earth.

Afraid that I would find myself in a position like Peter and, though a follower, deny Him.

Afraid that I would pass by the one person who would need my help most and not recognize them as the Risen Lord.

Yes, I would be afraid.

But I would persevere.

I would continue to act on what He left us with.

I would continue to live in the truth and in His Word.

I would continue to ‘just have faith’ and believe through Him, with Him, and in Him, that all things are possible.

There have been times when I have been afraid and my faith has been shaken—shattered pretty much. And times when I have left it as well. Those are the times when I was afraid.

I pray that my faith continues to grow in Jesus Christ so that, as I follow Him, I will not fear again. db

Mark 5:36

Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."


Offer It Up April 12th


Easter Sunday

Mark 16:6

"He said to them, 'Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him'."

The Empty Tomb.

Faith.

Easter.

Trust.

One day.

Courage.

Every year.

Conviction.

We are transformed.

Surrender.

Even more.

Grace.

Love.

Colossians 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.


Offer It Up April 11th


Holy Saturday

Isaiah 55:10-11

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

The Empty Cross

It’s the day after His crucifixion. Many of those that were with Him have gone back to their homes to try to grasp what has happened; others have scattered about, possibly covering their tracks as to have no association with Him. Some have gone to the tomb to wait. Maybe even others have come back to look upon the cross.

The empty cross.

Here they were, with Jesus in His tomb and they were at the cross. Will He rise on the third day? When will He do as He said He will do? Just hours ago, He had given His life so that they may have their eternal life. Willing and waiting, their faith is in tact. They know He will come back. And boy are they ready.

The empty cross.

Is our faith up to the task? Are we at a stage where we are at the empty cross, waiting for Him to return to us? The wait is over. Put down your guard. If you have to, give yourself permission to stop at the cross and leave all you have in you, there. Empty yourself as Jesus did. Surrender that last bit of control and let Him lead you by His will. Soon, and very soon, His way will be made clear.

Be ready for it. db

Isaiah 55:12

Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands


Offer It Up April 10th

Good Friday


My Lord and My God.

 

 

John 19:30

When Jesus had taken

the wine, he said,

"It is finished."

And bowing his head,

he handed over the spirit.

As believers, we have our faith in God and in knowing that He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins and our salvation. We are forever and mercifully thankful for the ultimate sacrifice of love. And in return, we show our love and gratitude for God by living our lives for and through Him. That means bearing our cross, taking it up daily.

Through the everyday hassles and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and pains of life, it is ours to bear just as Jesus Christ did for us so that we could share with Him our Eternal Life. How we chose to do so—how we opt to ‘put up with’ or tolerate or accept our cross—is ultimately our call. We are challenged every day, in small or large ways. It is a battle for sure.

                

Given the gift of free will, God lets us choose how much love we care to show in return for the love He gave us in the life of His Son. The challenges and battles—the choices— are more easily decided and overcome with Him than without Him.

He is as close as the Cross we choose to carry. db

Hebrews 4:14-16

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.


Offer It Up April 9th

Holy Thursday

Echoes and reflections. . . .
Would you dare to compare yourself to Jesus? To suggest you suffer in some way similar to His suffering? To offer yourself as an example as you bear some hardship, an example that illustrates what He endured? Would you dare?

I wonder if this is not the point: to dare. "Love one another as I have loved you" is what Jesus said and hoped. Apply the "as" where life is rudely out of balance and the "as" begins to level the competing forces. Apply the "as" to one's deliberate acts, the ones you will to be born from the Spirit in you and the instructing Word teaching you, and you are now an instrument of grace, not blind lucky niceness, but goodness, even to the point of sacrifice.

If you are not an echo, you are a reflection. Neither is ever the originating reality but each is inspirational and formative to seekers, seers and hearers.
Am I an echo to the command, "do this in memory of me," by so doing? Am I a reflection of His life by washing feet in a plain way, noticeable, in the world longing for some solace?

Will I let this feast of mercy and then a night of famine from justice prepare me for the hour I will know, as He knows, when I am to be revealed as a loved one who is loving Him, perhaps as public as disciples then were asked to be?

Is there an echo in the voices in the world when I failed Him and I hear, "Judas, would you betray me with a kiss?"

Is there a reflection of the divine banquet in the way I understand my discipleship to "love one another as I have loved you"?

- Rev. Stephen H. Gratto From The Journey, daily-meditations.org


Offer It Up April 8th

Luke 24:7

…the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified…

Stand in the gap.

Sacrifice.

Take up one’s cross.

To die for.

How many of us take any of the above postures for anyone we know? How about anyone we don’t know? Given the choice, I find it easier to take up another’s cross if I know them more than casually, especially family and friends. Maybe others are the same way.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so picky.

God did not send His Son to pick and choose who He carried His cross for. He did not offer the ultimate sacrifice for an elite sect or group of believers. He did send His only begotten Son to die for us all, on the cross, as a sacrifice for the multitude of sinners of the world—all of us. He stands in the gap today to fight our battles against those we cannot fight on our own and even those battles we will never know or see. He makes the stand against satan and we make a stand with Him.

Where are we all, as His ultimate sacrifice nears? Are we discouraged and down about the events leading up to His death? Are we beaten up about His scourging? Are our bodies and bones bruised and weighted to the point of collapse with the wood of the cross on our backs? Are our bones in our hands and feet crushed with every blow to each nail? Does our head pound in excruciating pain as the thorns dig into the sensitive nerves in our scalp? Do we find we have no air to gasp as the lance cuts into our side and we breathe our last?

Imagine that pain and then recognize the pain of sin. And then recognize how we should be so thankful that God did send His Son to die for those sins. Sins that we have left there at His cross seeking His forgiveness. Imagine the relief, the clarity, the love.

And then imagine three days later. db

Luke 24:1-8

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?

He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

And they remembered his words.


Offer It Up April 7th

Psalms 18:29

You, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens the darkness about me

Light is only useful when it can be seen.

The smallest candle with the smallest flame in the darkest room will be of some use. It can be a beacon, a guide, a beam, however small, to help lead one from the darkness. All this from a small, paraffin mold with a string in the middle.

So where does the paraffin from a candle go when it burns? We can see the candle burning but we don’t see where the wax goes. Obviously, there is less candle after you burn it but there is no residue. To get scientific, there is an oxidation process—the burning—of the wax that turns it into carbon dioxide and water, dissipating around the candle, in a reaction that also generates the light and the heat. And we’ve probably all put a jar or glass over a candle so that it would use up its oxygen and go out. Some of us are surprised to learn that the water is produced from a burning candle… I was and am one of those. Other changes are taking place too as the candle becomes shorter, though it really isn’t going anywhere—it is just changing into something else. Somewhat interesting, maybe or not so maybe.

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.

If one were to suggest that our spiritual walk could be drawn against that of a candle’s function… God has only to give us a small light of hope in our darkest times for us to see Him. And in our coming to Him and laying our sins at His feet and seeking His forgiveness, like the wax from the candle, they too evaporate, never to be thought of or seen by Him again. And the water—who can live without it? And like the candle as it burns, doing what it was made to do, it changes into something else, just like we can, doing what He made us to do. db

2 Corinthians 4:6-10

For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ.

But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.


Offer It Up April 6th

Psalms 27:13-14

But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD'S goodness in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD

God's Will.

There once was a farmer who had a horse. One day the horse ran away.

All his neighbors came to console him, but he was not distressed.

He told them, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A few days later the horse returned and with it was a mare.

All his neighbors came to him to congratulate him on his good fortune, but again he would not mind them telling them, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A week later his son was riding the mare, fell and broke his arm.

Again the neighbors came to wish him condolences and tell him how very unlucky he was.

The farmer shook his head and said, "Good, bad, who knows?"

A few days later, war was declared and all able-bodied young men were conscripted, but because on his son’s broken arm, he was not.

We are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.

"Good, bad, who knows?" Author Unknown

God’s Way.

Matthew 6:34

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.


Offer It Up April 5th

Mark 11:1-9

When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.

If anyone should say to you, 'Why are you doing this?' reply, 'The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.'"

So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it.

Some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?"

They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it.

So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it.

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.

Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Here is an interesting take on Palm Sunday… what if you were the donkey? What if it was you that was selected to carry Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem? How would respond, that is, if you could respond being a donkey? Imagine the palms, the robes and coats laid down before you and the One you who sat on your back. Even a donkey would have to think that this was someone special, even before you heard them calling out His name.

“Jesus.”

“King.”

“Savior.”

“Hosanna,” they continued to shout as you and your Rider clopped through the streets.

How easy would it be to let your ego get in the way, (donkeys do have egos because they can be such asses at times), and to think that the praise and worship should or could be for you instead of the One whom you are serving? After all, how else would He get through the streets? Who, or what other animal, could do what you do so well and without so much as whinny or hee-haw? Yup, I am THE donkey and life is grand!

That’s what we get for putting ourselves before others, especially before Jesus Christ. Obviously, the donkey had his priorities a bit misaligned and fell into the trap that it was all about him and not about the real Him. Playing the role of the donkey, we can see that we were chosen to be of service. And in service to our Savior, it is not about us; it is all about doing for others through Him.

There is a bit of the donkey in all of us-some more than others it seems, present company included. Next time you’re called to do something you may think is below your pay grade, remember the donkey. It may just be Jesus asking for a ride. db

1 Peter 5:5-7

Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: "God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble."

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.


Offer It Up April 4th

Mark 15:6-15

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered, "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.

Pilate again said to them in reply, "Then what (do you want) me to do with (the man you call) the king of the Jews?"

They shouted again, "Crucify him."

Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?" They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him."

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified.

Has it ever happened to you where you get caught up in a crowd with all the pushing and jostling and howling, and the next thing you know, you’re moving right along with them, even though you had no intention of doing so? If not, maybe you’ve seen similar circumstances in the movies or on television where someone is caught up in the rush hour foot traffic in downtown Big City USA, being swept up in the flow and just looking for a way to get out of the flow and back up stream. They fight it for a while and then give up as they see little use in going against the flow… against what ‘everybody else is doing.’ Besides, if it seems to be such a good idea for them, why can’t it be a good idea for us too? We seem to give our thinking rights to someone else.

Maybe that is what was happening when Pilate offered the crowd their choice of Barabbas or Jesus. Maybe their hearts weren’t in it at first but with the ‘everybody else is doing it’ semi-mentality, it became the thing to do. It doesn’t take long after that to realize that the crowd went on ‘auto-Pilate’, (pun intended), and shouted even louder for Jesus and His crucifixion.

Yup, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd and become faceless when casting judgment. But we are never blameless. We are accountable for what we do and say. Always. In all ways. In another Gospel, another crowd comes forward, in another rush to condemn and even put to death someone they found to be guilty. This time, Jesus is the one who addresses the crowd and their accusations…

…he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

We don’t know how many were there to stone the woman—twenty or two hundred—but they all got the message. Instead of putting the woman to death for her sin, they may have walked away to get rid of their own sins. Whatever sins they were carrying could have been in the stones and they may have left them there… at His feet.

Jesus did not condemn the woman nor did He condemn the scribes and Pharisees. If we choose to follow His Will, His Way, He won’t condemn us either. No matter what the crowds say. db

John 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?"
They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them,

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
She replied, "No one, sir."
Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore."


Offer It Up April 3rd

Romans 14:17-19

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.

When we make a decision to follow Jesus Christ, we do so with the guidance and assurance that is found in The Word. Instructions? Sure and yes. A road map? Well, maybe not so much. Yes, we follow and hang on the words of the Old Testament and the very words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and Letters of the New. Yet there are no “Heaven-5 miles straight up” or “Salvation-turn here” signs.

What we do have though are His words and He said “Follow me.” And if we do follow Him, we find the use of a map or even a GPS is really o f no use or even value. We do have The Word and The Word was made flesh. Being in the flesh, the disciples followed Jesus and did what He did, practiced what He preached, and walked what He talked. With that, they were committed to serving Him and leading others to their own salvation.

That is the value of The Word. That is what we get in return. The disciples did not stay put or stand still with a single success or revelation—they moved on and kept sharing their faith. We should do the same. Belonging to God means more than an intention to do the right thing; it means that we intend to and actually do the right thing, building up one another. db

Romans 14:7-8

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.


Offer It Up April 2nd

Matthew 21:1-7

When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me.

And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, 'The master has need of them.' Then he will send them at once."

This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

"Say to daughter Zion, 'Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them.

It’s just next week. We are that close to holiest of weeks.

It is the week that starts of the beginning of the end.

And the week that ends with our Beginning, again.

We can be drawn to this by the beauty and the magnitude and the glory and mercy.

Or we can be repelled and repulsed by the ugliness and the hate and the spite and sin of it all.

Just like a magnet.

Are we driven back by the darkness and death?

Or are we being drawn in by His light and mercy and Life? db

Mark 13:37

What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"


Offer It Up April 1st

Through the Storm

Matthew 8:23-27
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

(Act One, Scene One. An uneasy, restless man is sitting in the second pew in an empty church, voicing his prayers.)

Okay, God, what’s the deal?

What do we do now?

We pray daily. A lot.

We go to church. A lot.

We read The Word. A lot.

We put ourselves into the practice of The Word each day. A lot.

We know in this life it is not about the we but it is about the them. And we know that a lot.

So I go back to the first line and ask again… God, what’s the deal?

Have we not experienced enough hardship lately that we get to go through some more? Have we not shown that we have surrendered all to You? Have our prayers of action and of word been in vain? Do we still need some additional transformation? Okay… I’ll listen now. Thanks.

(End of scene.)

You know the saying… be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet. I would hope it’s true because I know have a long way to go.

All the ranting will get us nowhere. The trust in the eye of the storm is when the real surrender kicks in. There are two powers and God is the stronger of the two. He gives us the free will to choose, though, which power to use. If it were up to satan, he would have us all on easy street. Thankfully, it isn’t.

It’s up to God as He has chosen us and we can choose to follow His plan for us, no matter what it entails. We can rise above any and all difficulties and find our way through the storms. The greatest news is, we will never have to go through them alone. db

Romans 8:35-39

What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: "For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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