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AFRAIDNOT

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

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Offer It Up February 28th


Luke 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

Yesterday, our priest told us how he likes to play golf. And on his day off, he plays golf with another priest whose skill level is a bit above our priest’s. As it is from time to time, as our pastor tells us, he is often encouraged by his fellow priest to ‘take a lesson or two’ to improve his game. Not a bad idea, he thinks, as it would probably lead to a more enjoyable time playing golf, not to mention that it would make him more competitive when he plays against his fellow priests.

There is only one big problem with the idea of taking lessons—the discipline it would take to change the way he is playing now. After years of swinging the club the way he has grown comfortable swinging the club, a golf pro would make changes to his swing that would require lots of time, effort and practice—discipline—to undo and change what years have engrained already. He would have to decide that he wants to quit whatever ‘swing routines’ or habits he has developed over the years and then actually do something about those habits to change them, if he wanted to improve his golf game. It will be difficult but the results will be worth it.

His point in this sermon is that we too can change as God wants us to but it is going to take some effort, some discipline, if we want to reap the rewards. God gives us that opportunity to be open to His love and grace. It is through His mercy that our growth and change is possible, provided we opt to change our ‘swing habits’. Take time this Lenten season to see through to those things that need to be different-not just different but better-in our lives. Ask God for the strength and courage to triumph over sin so that all we do, we live to do His will.

db


Offer It Up February 27th


Deuteronomy 30:15-17, 19-20
Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Reading from Deuteronomy and from Luke’s Gospel, we can see that Moses and Luke tell us that God has His own ‘ifs’ for us. That should come as no surprise to any of us, really. He gives us our own free will and we can choose to do His. In addition to what Luke and Moses relate, we get even more help with from the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes not to mention the width and depth of the rest of the Scriptures. All He asks is that we “deny himself, take up our cross daily and follow me.”

The daily emphasis is mine only because of my tendencies to be a casual cross-bearer, only when it is not that big a burden. I am learning to do it daily, with prayer and prayerful help from others. Maybe others are like that too, and that’s okay. The more we put forth the effort, the easier it gets to pick it up the next time. And yes, ‘if’ it does get too heavy to bear, we know He will do more than share our burden but will carry it for us.

Lent is as good a time as any to further embellish a prayer life that will help us all follow Him every day, offering up our sacrifices-even penance and charity-that will bring us closer to Him. Whatever your cross, pray for God’s mercy to move you forward and grow in His love and grace. db

Luke 9:23-25

Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"


Offer It Up February 26th


Mardi Gras! What does this phrase conjure up for you? Visions of revelry? Crowded streets of New Orleans with a sea of revelers? I wonder does is look toward a season in the desert pondering the great mystery of faith? How will you spend the season of Lent?


Have you really thought about it? Forty days to prepare for the wondrous season of Easter. Forty days to enter into the desert as Jesus did to spend time in communion with God and to battle the forces of evil that confronted Him?
What about you and me? Do we take time to seek the Father's will and to root out of our living any tendencies toward sin?

On Ash Wednesday we were challenged with the words, "Remember you are dust, and to dust will you return!" or "Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel." Do those words touch the core of who you are, a Child of God?

Lent is a time to walk along desert paths, to enter into the stark realities by walking daily with the Lord and conversing frequently with Him about our life journey. In past years for most of us we were told to "give up" something for Lent, something that would require sacrifice. That was not bad advice as far as it went, but often lacking was the why? I remember the struggle to not smoke during Lent... looking forward to Easter and returning to those cursed cigarettes. For what purpose?

Lent is a time for giving up something, and that something is any tendency to sin in our lives. Giving up something like smoking is great if it leads to change...not smoking again perhaps. But each of us needs to thoughtfully prepare to walk the Lenten journey by looking within and sincerely seeing what God is calling us to. Perhaps it isn't only giving up something, but rather doing something.

Like praying daily with rapt attention to our prayer.

Going to celebrate Eucharist more frequently than just Sundays.

If I haven't been faithful to Sunday worship... doing all I can to be there each Sunday.
As a husband and father looking each day to fulfilling my role as husband and father in the most loving way possible.

As a Mother and wife doing all with love and in imitation of Mary.

Each of us were created by Our Loving Father, and are being created still each moment of life. He is calling us to life with him with every breath. Perhaps a Lenten exercise that could draw us deeper into life and deeper into the mystery of faith would be to learn to pray with each breath "Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner."
For after all isn't that why Jesus took flesh to redeem us ALL? EVERYONE. May all you days of Lent be a walk on the wild side with Jesus!                                                                                               

Deacon


Offer It Up February 25th


2 Corinthians 5:17-21

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

When we pray, how often do we have a few ‘ifs’ for God to answer?

God, if it is Your will…

Lord, if you want me to do that, I guess I will…

And then there was Peter when he was in the boat with the other disciples and he says… “If it is you…”

What is it with these contractual or conditional type prayers we offer, or is it suggest, to our Lord? Too often I have been in situations where I have done just that—bargained a deal (or so I was thinking anyway) with Him so as to get my anatomy out of one more jam. I really used to think that God would be into bargaining like that—if I went to church more often, He would send a few more blessings my way. If would say a few more prayers, He would make life a little less cumbersome for me.

Who are we to say He doesn’t do such things? Prayer does change things. He knows what He’s doing. We pray as if we will change His mind. He doesn’t change His mind, He changes our hearts and minds. And when He does, our changes are the answers to the prayers we offered, or suggested, to Him. Then our faith is enhanced to accept these answers and we grow even more in Him, in gratitude and in the peace of knowing He hears and answers our prayers.

Whatever it is that you are doing this Lenten season, offer it up with a sense of gratitude and a belief that God does hear and answer our prayers in earnest supplication. Be open to hear His response and be ready to do something with it—keep that expectant attitude of faith. db


Offer It Up February 24th


Psalm 103: 8-23

“Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness. God does not always rebuke, nurses no lasting anger, Has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our deeds deserve. As the heavens tower over the earth, so God's love towers over the faithful. As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful. For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust. Our days are like the grass; like flowers of the field we blossom. The wind sweeps over us and we are gone; our place knows us no more. But the LORD'S kindness is forever, toward the faithful from age to age. He favors the children's children of those who keep his covenant, who take care to fulfill its precepts. The LORD'S throne is established in heaven; God's royal power rules over all.

Bless the LORD, all you angels, mighty in strength and attentive, obedient to every command.

Bless the LORD, all you hosts, ministers who do God's will.

Bless the LORD, all creatures, everywhere in God's domain. Bless the LORD, my soul!”

Main Entry: fast

Pronunciation: \’fast\

Date: before 12th century

If one were to use the definitions found in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, you might think of a person who is ‘fast’ as one who had roots firmly fast in the ground or one who was tightly shut, like drawers fast shut. You could also see that person as one who is stable, where they were once movable, they stationed themselves immovable. On the other hand, they could also be up to be being quick, imparting agility that is ‘conducive to rapidity of play and action’.

Humor me and stay with me a little longer. A person who might be ‘fast’ can also be firmly loyal, a true friend. That same person can be the one that would be the one that would hold 'fast’-tenaciously-to you in times of need and support. And to move it along even more, a fast friend can be ‘unfading or not changing color readily’, even resistant to change at times. Another one we may have heard—he runs with a pretty fast crowd—would have meant that our parents would not have been proud of us to have been a part of that particular crowd.

These definitions and others-‘fast’ synonyms that include swift, quick, speedy, and rapid are some that we are familiar with on a pretty much regular basis. This time of year brings to mind yet another definition of fast. As the Lenten season begins tomorrow, we are called to practice abstinence and fasting. Lent is a time of fasting but also a time of joy, prayer and sharing of one’s love and heart in preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection.

Over the next several weeks, hold fast to your time of fasting. To get something out of it, you're going to have put something into it. As much as it is about 'giving up', it can also be about doing or 'being' more. Bring your most loyal and fast friends and family along. Share it. Spread the Good News with all your heart.

Enjoy this Lenten and Easter Season. Before you know it, it will have gone by way too fast. db

Isaiah 43:4                                                     

"Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you"


Offer It Up February 23rd


One day I decided to quit. I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality.

I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.
"God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"
His answer surprised me.
"Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?"
"Yes", I replied.
"When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.
In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo".

He said. "In the third year, there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit.
In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit.”
He said. "Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.
Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just six months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle."

He said to me. "Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots. I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don't compare yourself to others."

He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern, yet, they both make the forest beautiful."
"Your time will come," God said to me. "You will rise high!"

"How high should I rise?" I asked.
"How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return.
"As high as it can?" I questioned.
"Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can."

I left the forest and brought back this story. I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.


Never regret a day in your life.
Good days give you Happiness.
Bad days give you Experiences.
Both are essential to life. Keep going.

Happiness keeps you sweet, trials keep you strong.
Sorrows keep you human, failures keep you Humble.
Success keeps You glowing, but Only God keeps You Going!

Have a great day! The Son is shining!!
God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love and so small He can curl up inside your heart.

Submitted by M. Martini


Offer It Up February 22nd


Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25
Thus says the LORD:
Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.
The people I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob, for you grew weary of me, O Israel.
You burdened me with your sins, and wearied me with your crimes.
It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more

Sometimes, we can’t seem to stand prosperity. And when we reach a moment of it, we won’t let go of it. Like prosperity is only a here and now thing. Not that there is really anything wrong with that. Our lives are very often filled with times of contentment and satisfaction. It is during those times we have a tendency to trust our own instincts as we roll along in the everyday life that living in the mundanity of contentment brings. We have a sense that we have attained something that is good and (add your own cliché here) ‘it doesn’t get any better than this.’

After a while, that sense of prosperity loses it luster and we soon are longing for something more. And we look around and find out we don’t even know what that ‘more’ is sometimes. We just know that we are wanting more, maybe even needing more, than what we currently have. In a sense, we are ready to abandon the mundane and move on.

Anytime is a good time to grow and leave behind one’s old ways. With the season of Lent beginning this week, leading up to the joyous Easter Sunday celebration, what better time is there to reflect and admit and let go and forgive those things that are keeping us in the past? With God, we can choose to grow even more with His gifts of grace and mercy. db

Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.


Offer It Up February 21st


Jesus was on the road a lot. Born in Bethlehem, he traveled and spread the Good News around His ‘hometown’ more than in it. In His own words, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house."

He told the fisherman, “Come follow me.”

When asked where He was staying, He said, “Come and you will see.”

For people to follow Him, Jesus went to them. The more He went to them, the more they came to see Him. He knew the importance of what He was doing and He wanted those that were following Him to know it, too. And since they could not all get closer to Him, He had to get closer to them, taking the Good News to them.

In a sermon I heard recently, our priest spoke how he was going to get to celebrate three masses that day and give three sermons from the same readings. The congregations that would be at the masses would be different enough that his sermon, though over the same readings, would be adapted to those in attendance. In other words, as he said, ‘You gotta meet the people where they are at.” Much like Jesus did taking the Good News to the people and towns during His ministry; He met them where they were.

To take it a step more, God can do the same for us. He will meet us where we are. He will do for us what we can’t do for ourselves, if we put our trust in Him. For sure, we will have to carry our cross, maybe take a few hits across the bow from time to time and even find ourselves off the straight and narrow. Yet, the choice still remains ours to hold fast to what we hold to be true:

Mark 8:35-38

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

What could one give in exchange for his life?

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Rest in His certainty. db


Offer It Up February 20th


Not that any of us need 'signs' that God has loved us always...

Genesis 9:12-13, 17

God added:
"This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."

God told Noah: "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all mortal creatures that are on earth."

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 24:8

And they remembered his words.

From the Old Testament through the New, there is no doubt. db


Offer It Up February 19th


Philippians 3:12

It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus).

So we go to church, we say our prayers, we go out and spread the Good News—we are walking and talking and praising the Lord. Indeed, we are walking the talk. So what else is there, right? With all that we look to do on earth, we might then think that there is not much else... except that we can beso much more than what we do.

In Mark’s Gospel about the blind man who first saw “people looking like trees and walking”, (Mark 8:22-26), Jesus let him see more clearly as “He laid His hands on the man’s eyes a second time.” Mark’s Gospel then goes on to say the man’s sight “was restored,” as if to say he could see again. How can our own spiritual maturity be compared to that of the blind man’s sight being restored? We have to start with some faith to have it grow.

Our faith can be like that—small and/or a bit transient—sometimes, or at least mine is. Have some faith; have a lot. Have a lot of faith; ummm, have not so much. I am learning though that the more I have faith, the more faith I have. The blind man had faith and Jesus gave him more. His faith was his clear sight.

We all want to see more than walking trees with arms and legs. From Philippians to Mark, we have not reached, nor will we ever reach, perfect maturity though we may see things a bit more clearly. That can help us toward our goal, however.

And that goal is our salvation. db

Philippians 14-15, 20

I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus. Let us, then, who are "perfectly mature" adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Offer It Up February 18th


Mark 8:22-24

When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.

He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, "Do you see anything?"

Looking up he replied, "I see people looking like trees and walking."

If you have ever gone to the matinee showing of a movie, one, you probably saved a few bucks and two, you most likely went in the afternoon. Coming out of the theatre into the afternoon sun, you may have experienced a bit of momentary blindness as your eyes adjusted from the darkness of the movie house to the light shining around you from the midday sun. Fortunately, it is something that lasts only for a few seconds till your eyes adjust. Though you are not totally blind or in total darkness, you wouldn’t want to take too many steps while in that condition as you may run into something or trip over the curb as you walk to your car.

How is it then that our lives are like that when we may choose to live, at times, in spiritual blindness? If we wouldn’t want to take so many steps while our eyes were adjusting after the movie, what sense does it make to take any steps without our eyes and hearts focused on living in His Word? People way smarter and wiser than me have been saying so for years: God's Holy Will and His graces can be brought about through prayer and through living in His Word.

God knows our needs whether we are walking in the dark or light, or somewhere in between. Like the blind man’s sight, sometimes miracles take time. They are still miracles. And like the blind man, we can give Him time to work one in ours.

It can happen. db

John 12:46

I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.


Offer It Up February 17th


God's will.

Philippians 4:9

Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.

Then the God of peace will be with you.

I had a brother that used to walk a lot, getting others to walk with him and keeping track of those miles that everyone walked with him. Family and friends joined in over the months that he did his walking… his goal was 1,000 miles in a year. He would keep track of the miles walked on a spreadsheet and send out reports, keeping us informed as to who had how many miles. He was always at the top and he kept encouraging us though we knew we could never catch him. He didn’t quite reach his mark before God called him home but I did learn a valuable lesson from him that last year, a lesson that just hit home recently.

I like to ride a bike more than I like to walk. Walking is good and gets you someplace. Biking is good and it gets you someplace quicker. As Tony and the others walked, I rode and my miles started adding up quicker as well, at least so I thought. He sent out the first report and I saw that my miles reflected only 60% or 70% of what I actually rode.

“What gives with only 60%?”

“You can’t coast when you walk,” was his terse reply.

“Coast? I don’t coast when I ride. I am always pedaling.”

Or do I?

The next time I went out to ride, even though there was a lot of effort as I pedaled and shifted gears, there were those times when I was coasting, with the hands off the handle bars and the ‘look at me, ain’t I good’ sort of posture that guys do when they think they have accomplished something of great magnitude. That is when I understood what he was talking about. And it made even greater sense yesterday.

You can’t coast and expect good things to happen in a relationship. You can’t put it in neutral and let a relationship just sit there and idle. It may look good and sound good but without work and ‘putting it in gear’ not much is going to happen.

Too much can go wrong if you don’t keep working at it. Having had that experience firsthand, it is not a pretty sight.

Much more can go right if you do.

You have to keep pedaling. It takes work to move it forward. And work includes prayer. And prayer, like work, changes things. db

James 1:2-6

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. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.

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Offer It Up February 16th


My wife does a great job at keeping our bank account in great shape. Even to the penny most of the time. She does it even though she really doesn’t like to do it. She does it because she is way better at it than I am. I know this because I tried it—once—and was pretty much out of my league when it came to trying to do what she did with all the checks, debits, deposits, and credits. After a couple of months of floundering, and of course a total abomination of our checking account, I admitted my lack of prowess (or even hint of it) and handed it back over to her. And we are so much the better for it—she’s good at it, I’m not; she does it; I don’t.

How simple could keeping the account be? Write a check, make a deposit… easy stuff, right? How could I not know how? Like the body, how is it that the left hand cannot know what the right hand is doing? One foot follows the other when walking, right? How can it be that the brain not be engaged before the mouth speaks? (Wait, don’t answer that one.)

As the hands and feet and brains and mouth are parts of the body, so are we all parts of the same body. And as the parts of a body work individually for the good of the whole, members of a church work for the good of the congregation. The gifts we can contribute differ as the abilities differ from the parts of the body. Try running with your hands and see how far you get. Or, try opening a tube of toothpaste with your feet and see what type of success you enjoy. Or, in my case, try balancing a check book for a month or two. Sounds a bit preposterous but you get the point.

Let those with certain gifts and abilities do what God has given them the ability to do. Work with what works for the good of others, not ourselves. db

Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ 3 and individually parts of one another.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching;if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.


Offer It Up February 15th


At a recent daily mass, as the priest prepared the Eucharist Celebration, he opened the ciborium and found that there were not enough hosts for all those in attendance. He diligently broke up what hosts he had into smaller pieces so that all could receive the Body of Christ during Communion. He saw to it that there was enough for everyone to be filled with the Body and the Blood of Christ. After mass, someone had asked him if that had ever happened before and he said, “No.”

As short as that reply was, it was the sort of ‘No’ that one would clearly understand that it was not going to happen again, either.

Hopefully, it won’t happen again. But, in a much larger way, it has happened before… feeding the masses with so little bread. In Mark’s Gospel (8:1-10), as well as in others, there are those miracles where Jesus fed the multitudes with little to eat. As in the daily mass instance, the priest had little to offer but he found a way to satisfy their spiritual hunger, just as Jesus did with the loaves and fishes, satisfying the hunger of those He fed. In the parable, He fed them bread to fill them for their journey home; we can take The Word for our bread for our journey home.

Luke 1:50-53

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

God always finds a way to fill our needs. Let’s not forget Him and remember to thank Him for all we have. We may think we don’t have enough on hand to fill our own needs but with trust and faith in God, we will know He is always with us. All we have to do is be open for Him.

His reach is not so short that it stops before ours does.

He won’t-He can’t-forget us. db

Matthew 28:20

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."


Offer It Up February 14th


Sack Of Potatoes

A teacher once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to school. For every person they refuse to forgive in their life's experience, they chose a potato, wrote on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of their bags were quite heavy. They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to their desk at work. The hassle of lugging this sack around with them made it clear what a weight they were carrying spiritually, and how they had to pay attention to it all the time to not forget and keep leaving it in embarrassing places. Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty smelly slime. This, in turn, made them unpleasant to be around. It didn't take long for each of the students to figure out that getting rid of the potatoes was much more important than carrying them around. This is a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity!

Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person.

Forgiveness, very clearly, is for ourselves!

As submitted by M. Martini


Offer It Up February 13th


The test of faith is willing obedience.

Sometimes we are unduly excited when things go well, and at other times we are too alarmed when things go badly. We ought to establish our hearts firmly in God's strength and struggle, as best we can, to place all of our hope and confidence in the Lord so that we will be like him, as far as it is possible, even in His unchanging rest and stability. Blessed Jordan of Saxony (1190 - 1237)

Balance and poise.

Hope and confidence.

Trust and faith.

From one end of the spectrum to the other, we can sometimes find ourselves over-reacting or occasionally even under-reacting to the struggles or the blessings that come our way. Not a problem every once in awhile. Yet if we continue to sound the alarms or raise the white flag at every obstacle, it could be that we need to rethink our position.

It might also be that we need to get over ourselves. We need to try to be less and less about ourselves and have our lives be more and more about the lives of others. We need to get out of our own way and let God be the way. We have to do things for and be about our Christian faith, even if those things that we do may bring about risk or even challenge our friends and families.

2 Timothy 1:13

Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

God does have His plan for all of us, collectively and individually; as a part of the body and as the body. The good and bad and the ugly will continue to happen and how we choose to respond to each will be a measure of our faith and trust. Be open to putting God’s will into practice. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your humility and gratitude.

Make a difference. And while you’re at it, why not be the difference? db

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Offer It Up February 12th

Happy Birthday Margaret!


Although people lose everything they leave behind in this world, they nevertheless carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms they have given, for which they will receive a reward and a fitting payment from the Lord. - Saint Francis of Assisi

How true it is that we come into the world by God’s grace, we live in His world by His grace (and mercy), and after it is all said and done here, we are called home to live eternally in His grace. It's what happens with that grace and mercy along the way that reflects the depth and authenticity of an individual. Through God’s will, we are given our own free will to choose to live God’s way. Choosing to live accordingly—open to God’s grace—that is how one can draw all their strength from God.

That strength can be so founded in Christ that it can be unshakable. Think of what that means: a life that is unafraid to serve God willingly and unashamedly. A life of service and giving. A life of peace and patience. Pope Benedict XVI says this about that:

By its very nature, the Gospel urges people of faith to offer themselves in loving service to their brothers and sisters without distinction and without counting the cost; love is the outward manifestation of the faith that sustains the community of believers and empowers them to be signs of hope for the world.

It’s rare that a person gets to see a life like this, truly, first hand. These types are most often read about in the books of saints or spoken of in the tales of angels. And if they are even talked about today, quite often it is done with a bit of reverence and honor. You may know a person that knows another person that knew somebody that remembered somebody like that once… you get my point. Like I said though, some of us have been blessed to know one personally. And I am one of those that have been blessed.

2 Timothy 1: 6-8

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.

My sister celebrates many things in her life—the birth of her children, the birth of her grandchildren, siblings birthdays, a birth ‘day’ that ends in ‘Y’… Today she is celebrating not quite her 50th birthday. And she will do it with the same fire and intensity she does for everyone else.

She also celebrates her love for Jesus Christ. And not just some of the time, either. She is pretty much on fire in her faith and love for Him 24/7, 365. She is a servant in the greatest sense of the Word, giving of herself with joy and passion without thought to the cost. One could do worse for a sister; none could do better for one.

Happy Birthday, Margaret. Thank you for sharing your passion for Jesus Christ with us. Let us all celebrate His love for us.

TSGLORT…                                                                                      db


Offer It Up February 11th

Happy Birthday Brady!


God uses us in our weakness.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23

To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

If you drive a car, you probably know what a blind spot is. And while you’re driving, you are even more aware that there are a few of them that just happen to be in every car. From the rear view mirror and that spot just out of view to the side view mirror and ‘Caution: vehicles may be closer than they appear’ warning, blind spots are there. And if we don’t do some double-checking and even sometimes triple-checking, we can find ourselves in near collisions or, worse yet, engaging in full blown metal-to-metal crunching and crashing.

If we were to put those ‘blind spots’ in our daily walk, it might be easy to compare them as our weaknesses, or weak spots, our occasion to fall back or fall into the occasion of sin… temptation—then the fall. Like a blind spot while you are driving, sometimes we don’t see it coming and it is on us before we know it. Other times we see it coming but only then it is too late and we fail to get ourselves out of the way or put on the brakes. And still even other times, we catch a glimpse of it, and know it’s there because we past it on the road just a bit ago but we still let it catch up to us and then it ends up running us off the road.

God knows this is going to happen to us. Forgiveness is just one of the many beautiful things He offers. Through reconciliation, He forgives the contrite heart and continues to love us, faults, sins, warts and all. Of all that He does provide, He desires the best for us, including the wonder and joy of eternal life. May our faith be enough to get us through our daily blind spots so that we can live and share the fullness of God’s will for us. db

James 1:2-4

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.

P.S.-There is a young friend of mine who has stuck with me through this past year and has even 'offered it up' with me. Without question, without anything to gain. That is the measure and the value of a true friend. Thank you, Brady, for being my friend. Happy Birthday, Masa Man!


Offer It Up February 10th


I was re-reading some scripture from last week, some Hebrews verses, and I could not help but see how my life could be so much more like that of Jesus-and if not Jesus, at least the disciples- if I would just follow the holy advice, principles even, as written in Hebrews 13:1-8.

For sure, the Bible is full of ‘life’s little instructions’. Yet I found these to be of particular interest to me as of late. I hope they are of some interest to you, too… not my words but The Word.

Let brotherly love continue.

How simple can this be? And how often is it reflected in Scripture? Love must be sincere… Cling to what is good… Live at peace with everyone…

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.

And been entertained by them as well. Our lives are full of stories where we were ‘touched by an angel’ or where we may have done some act of kindness that forever changed a cold heart. God uses us on our good hair days as well as our bad hair days.


Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.

We have so much to give and so much to live, whether we live it freely or under our own imposed imprisonment. With our gift of free will, God lets us choose how we care to be with ourselves and with others. Choose to do well.

Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
                Above all but God, honor your spouse. Love, honor and respect what God has

given you so that your life can be shared with love and joy and the peace that

comes with a love so deep in God’s faith, hope and love.

Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.
                As a popular song out now says ‘I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose

my soul.’ And neither should we. If He sees to it that the sparrows have their

food and flowers have their rain, He will certainly see that we have our needs

filled. He is not going anywhere without us and we shouldn’t go anywhere

without Him.

Thus we may say with confidence: The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

What anyone does to you is of little consequence or significance if we are to put

our lives and choices in the trust of God. Follow the role of the disciples and live

the Gospel as well as talk about it. We could do worse than to practice their way

of life.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

                Amen.                                                                                                                                                                    db


Offer It Up February 9th

Happy Birthday Cyndi!


A husband needs a wife that he knows will be there when he gets back from the field. He looks forward to hearing her voice while he is on the road, sometimes on long trips from home. He holds dear the time he has with her and looks to her for support when he's home. He loves that time with her.

Alternately, a wife looks to her husband to understand and to be understood, though it is not always easy. She also holds on to that time she has with him before he goes back to the field or back on the road. Her time becomes their time. And the more they grow together, the more they find that there is rarely enough of it for them both.

The love a husband and wife share is truly based on the relationship they have grown to know with each other and the blessings God has bestowed upon them. No two loving and caring relationships are the same. Hence, what is often good for this marriage and works so beautifully, will not work so well, or at least as well, for that one. Yet love stays and love grows.

This God knows as He brings together husbands and wives. The love God has for us all is unique, for us alone. The love husbands and wives share is unique for them alone. Together, these two 'loves' bring about an even greater joy, happiness--LOVE- that only God can fulfill in any life, in any relationship, in any marriage.

Happy Birthday, Cyndi. The love you share and are filled with is evident through all the lives you touch and is a blessing indeed. May God continue to let His love shine out through you as you grow in His faith and love.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of the fleeting life that is granted you under the sun. This is your lot in life, for the toil of your labors under the sun.


Offer It Up February 8th


At a recent men's group meeting I attended, one of the attendee’s talked about the days when he worked on the family farm with his brothers and his father. One particular night, his father was driving a large piece of harvesting equipment while he was in tow, driving a pickup. As young as he was, he was barely able to reach the pedals but once he got started—and if he didn’t stop—he was sure he would be able to keep up with his father. And those were the keys to keeping up-getting started and not stopping.

The sun began to set and as they came to a hill, and the pickup lagged a bit behind the combine. Though his father was still in sight, he was not as close as he would have liked for him to be, even as close to home as they were. The higher they climbed on the hill, the harder it was for the truck to keep up.

And then it stopped.

And started rolling backwards.

Toward a creek.

Being young, alone and hardly being able to reach the pedals, he was pretty much at the mercy of prayer and God. And good for him that he was. As much as he relied on his prayers and abilities, he feared the worst-running off the road, into the creek, and crashing the truck.

No sooner had he expected the splash and crash then the unexpected happened-the truck stopped. Not in the creek. Not in a ditch. Not even by a tree. It just stopped.

A prayer answered. Safely stopped. No one hurt. No damage done. But now what to do? Still not home. Still at the bottom of the hill. Still no one to help him.

Until his father came back. And made sure he was okay. And helped him get over the hill. And back home to where his father wanted him to be.

How this story is so much like Our Heavenly Father… getting started and not stopping-perseverance and persistence… as young as we are, barely able to reach the pedals but we want to do the driving… the higher we climb on the hill, the harder it is to keep up and keep our eyes on the top… we can be on our way, following the right road and almost get to the top of the hill and then slide back, praying we don’t make matters worse as we do… sure, we can even stay on the right road but often, through no fault of our own, we get left at the bottom of the hill and find out we have no way to get back over it… And just like his dad, with prayer, God is there to answer and to help.

Next time you find yourself rolling backwards or stuck at the bottom of the hill, ask your Father to put on the brakes and help get you back over the hill. And for sure He will get you back home.db


Offer It Up February 7th


WINDSHIELD WIPER LESSON FROM A CHILD

One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town.
Taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick.

Suddenly, my son Matthew spoke up from his relaxed position in the front
seat. "Mom, I'm thinking of something."

This announcement usually meant he had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that his seven-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear "What are you thinking?" I asked.

"The rain," he began, "is like sin and the windshield wipers are like God,
wiping our sins away." After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to
respond. "That's really good, Matthew." Then my curiosity broke in. How far
would this little boy take this revelation?

So I asked... "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that
tell you?" Matthew didn't hesitate one moment with his answer: "We keep on
sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us."

I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on.                        

As submitted by M. Martini


Offer It Up February 6th


Mark 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick —no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

How often does it happen that we look at a project or opportunity and say to ourselves “Whoa, that is out of my reach… my skill set”? We may not have the education, the experience or even sometimes the desire to muster up what it takes to try something out. Imagine then the path before the disciples when they were told to hit the trail and go and spread The Word.

Jesus set the plan for the disciples; all they had to do was go do it. The ‘it’ was to live what He had been living, breathing, telling and filling them with during His time with them. They had been chosen, they had been listening, and knew their mission: simply spread the Word. You won’t need much so travel light. Take with you only the basics. And when you get to a place, stay there; if unwelcome, hit the road. Preach and save and heal.

The disciples then were not perfect as are followers today are not without sin. That should not prevent us from carrying out the same mission they were sent to do. Instead of worrying about what you think you can’t do, why not give it over to God and let Him give it to you so that you can do it? All things are possible through Him, right? He qualifies the called, right? So who are we to challenge those arguments?

This life is not now, has not ever and will not ever be about us as individuals. To think otherwise is folly and irresponsible. God wants us to live for Him so that we can do and live for others. Salvation=Living the Gospel.db

Luke 9:23-26

To all, Jesus said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it.

‘What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self? For if anyone is ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.’


Offer It Up February 5th


Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15
Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:

My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.
Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as his sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.

“For whom the Lord loves He disciplines”?

“He scourges every son he acknowledges”?

“Endure your trials as ‘discipline’”?

Okay, God, I get it. Really I do. Please, enough with the discipline already.

Sound like anyone you know? Vaguely familiar to some cries or moans from your past—or maybe even present? So why is it that when experience this ‘discipline’ that challenges what we know the Lord to be—kind, merciful and loving—that we find ourselves assuming resentment, frustration and even disillusionment with God’s Word, and maybe even God himself?

We learn from our experiences, whether they be good or bad. We would all like to learn from the better types of experiences but we know that is not always going to happen. Use any of the adages and couch it how you would like, suffering happens. The good comes with the bad. Into each life a bit of rain must fall. Momma said there’d be days like this. God said it would be worth it—He didn’t say it would be easy.

As it suggests in Hebrews, we could help ourselves if we ‘strengthen our drooping hands and weak knees’. It could be saying to assume a more prayerful way of life, with our hands in offering of our prayers and ourselves on our knees in humble adoration and praise. And if it is not the only answer or complete answer, it can very well be a start.

Discipline and disciple are from the roots. To be a disciple will take some discipline. God’s discipline makes for better disciples. Pray that you have the patience to wait on His time and His way, to be that better disciple. Who knows, it could be to you that the Lord will say: “See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God.” db


Offer It Up February 4th


Yesterday was the memorial of Saint Blase, bishop and Martyr. St. Blase was martyred in the 4th century. His memory has been honored in the centuries old custom of seeking his intercession for healing of throats and other ailments. Not too much is known about Blase yet this remembrance of his life has lead to prayer for centuries.

As we pray for one another the exercise in faith draws us ever deeper into the mystery of God with us. The grace of God is ever evident. We should be awake to the healing that is taking place in response to our prayer and the prayers of all those who are united with us in faith. The healing that takes place is not always evident because in many instances the healing is inner conversion of our souls as well as strengthening of faith and more than is often realized we are given the grace to bear with strength that comes from Christ Himself the ailments of body that can assail us.

I am particularly struck this day in my own conversations with Our Lord, how He has always taught us to approach life with a positive outlook. As we reflect on the Gospels and what Jesus taught there is little if any admonitions NOT to do something. Rather, Be not afraid, Take up your cross, neither do I condemn you, Go repent and live humbly and with justice and mercy...

It is often striking on the other hand how we can seem to look judgmentally on others even to the unbelievable conclusion that they will be or are damned. Today, I seek Lord to see all others and all events through your eyes, and to love all as you love with the help of your grace.

May the fruit of Peace be prevalent in all of life this day. Amen.

Deacon


Offer It Up February 3rd

Happy Birthday Bobby!


Hebrews 12:1-2
Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

If you don’t have a brother-in-law, chances are pretty high you probably know someone who is or who has one. I got plenty so if you need one, I can share.

One of them is enjoying the anniversary of his birth today and, as for as much as I know of him, he will do it as unassumingly as he has approached most everything else I have known him to take on.

He is a son, husband, father and grandfather and loves all his family deeply and does so in a way that is not pretentious or overbearing. He is a friend and co-worker and has worked steadily and is dedicated to his job, as well as toward those that he knows and those that know him. He plays golf-and plays extremely well-but does it rather matter-of-factly and humbly. He has been known to follow sports, college football particularly, as he and his father have sentiments for the crimson and cream of Oklahoma University… but we still love him.

One thing, though, where his life is known not to be dispassionate, is his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He has had opportunities, as we have all had in our lives, to lay his belief aside even for a while as he experienced tribulations in his life that many of us would not or could not handle. On those occasions where it would have been easy to fall on the pity of the world and its material holdings, he held on, took the high road and walked it with Jesus Christ. Just as he still does today.

Happy Birthday, Bobby. We’re glad you were born.db

Hebrews 12:3

Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.


Offer It Up February 2nd

Happy Birthday John Paul!


Romans 10: 14-17

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?

As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!" But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?" Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

I think my hearing has changed. Well, yeah, you’re saying, you get old-stuff like that happens. And with that I agree. And I also think it has changed in that I hear things in another way. Not either the little voices in my head telling me this or that but in the words that are shared from others.

Words from scripture.

Words from a homily.

Words from family and friends.

They are heard in a different way in that I take more time to listen. To really listen and hear what is being said. Yep, I was (and still am occasionally) quite guilty of surface and ego listening—taking only from a conversation or topic what I wanted for me before I quit listening to what was being said so I could prepare my eloquent and articulate response. It is an amazing difference when you can actually feel what is being said as opposed to having it breeze right past you.

To be sure, I have not always and do not always yet practice this better way of listening. The beauty of God’s forgiveness is that I—and all of us—can start again, putting aside our old way of thinking and getting a fresh start. It is through God’s grace and mercy that we can live a life of renewal as we ask for His forgiveness and be contrite for our sins. He wants the best for us and to do that, we have to want it too.

We have to hear His Word. db

Philippians 3:12-15

It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus).

Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Let us, then, who are "perfectly mature" adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you.

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Offer It Up February 1st


Mark 4:21-25
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
He also told them, “Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

We were talking today at our Bible study about the light being under the bushel basket or on the lamp stand or where ever it is that people want it from time to time. The gist of the conversation was centered on what and how much light people actually want shone and where it should be shining. About how some in today’s world have allowed so much to pass for ‘okay’ or ‘allowable’ that where the light once did shine on it as unacceptable now no light shines on it. It’s in the dark, out of sight and out of mind, so to speak and we/they don’t have to think or worry about it.

As Mark’s Gospel states, there is nothing hidden except to be made visible—no matter what is in the darkness is going to come to light. So it is with whatever it we are passing off as tolerable, acceptable or okay. It might be what is being said here, where Mark tells us that all will be brought to light, is that sin is sin, whether we put it under our own light or no light at all. As for any assistance we might need in that area, we have Scripture to help us; we have the Ten Commandments to help; we have ‘thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ to help us. Kind of hard to turn around without finding any help from one's faith.

With that being said, we can’t change what those things say to match what we want to feel or do at the time we want to do it. Those things are immutable. For the Light to become what it needs to be and what it needs to do, it needs to change where it shines--we need to change where we shine. It is in His Light that we do see who we really are. We are lights for God, used as His light for others. What greater messenger can we be than to shine His light out from within? db

2 Peter 14-18

Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. (Amen.)

 

 
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