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

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OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2017 


Mark 10:28-31 

Peter began to say to Him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed You.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for My sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’”  

 

After Jesus explained to the rich man that obedience to the law is only the first part of the key to inheriting the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ disciples had a moment of “confusion” as Jesus continued to explain the challenge and difficulty that those who are bound to the materialism and pride of this world will have in entering the Kingdom. He tells them that that it would be “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”  

 

He then says, “for mortals, it is impossible, but not for God; for God, all things are possible.”  Peter, yet again the bold one, says, “We have left everything and followed You!” Jesus gently reminds Peter and all the disciples of two things, regarding theirs, and our, acceptance of Jesus’ call: 1- All who unconditionally accept and trust for Jesus’ sake and spread The Word will be rewarded in this age and the age to come; and 2- This choice to accept will not be without challenges and persecutions by those attached to worldly goods and desires.  

 

The promise of Jesus, though not without challenges, is ultimately strengthened and fulfilled through fellowship and unity of believers. The Spirit of God works through us and with us, binding us together to courageously face this world’s challenges.  

 

Lord, we want to follow You! Fill our hearts and bodies with desire and strength to share (in) Your Eternal Peace. Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017


Mark 10:17-27

“As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!”  

 

How appropriate these words as Christians prepare for the commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection! During the Lenten Season we are called to look within ourselves and strive to become more Christ like: more giving; more sacrificing to self; more compassionate!  Jesus points out the simplicity of the law—the Commandments. The young man, knowing the law, responded that he has “kept the law”.  Jesus lovingly tells him, then, that he lacks one thing: “selflessness”. To truly follow Jesus is to put Him above all things and to trust Him above all things.  

 

In our human condition, this is a daily challenge as we live, work and interact with others. Our desire for worldly things, material and emotional, is a distraction to this challenge.  

 

Lord, teach us and strengthen us to die to self and selfishness, in the same perfect love with which you showed us how to live, love, and sacrifice. May our obedience translate to acts of Love! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017


“People were bringing little children to Him in order that He might touch them; and the disciples scolded them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”  

Mark 10:13-16 brings out two very important lessons for us, as followers of Christ! First and foremost, we are reminded of our call to strive to maintain the natural simplicity that exists within us simply because we “are”: God created us with a simple joy and trust. This is evident in the nature of small children. They are happy and trustful in such a simple manner. All of us, without exception, came to existence by His love; filled with that joy and trust. So in this passage, Jesus reminds us that it is to whom those who trust God, in this manner, that the Kingdom of God belongs. 

 

The second piece is an admonition that we are to not stand in the way of ANYONE who desires to come to God. The disciples had scolded parents for bringing their children forward to Jesus, perhaps afraid that this was a “bother” to Him? Jesus, on the other hand, became indignant with His disciples for standing in the way. He is open to all who turn to Him and will immediately take any of us “...up in His arms, lay His gentle hands upon us, and bless us”. It is good to strive for success in this life, but we must strive to avoid the distractions that cause us to lose our joy and trust and, as importantly, we must encourage those who have it, to continue seeking Him in joy and trust!  

 

Lord, may we not only seek You in childlike joy and trust, but, also, not hinder others, especially those young or confused in faith and spiritual yearning for You! May we never lose our simple desire for You. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2017


Mark 6:30-34 is a perfect reading as we ponder all that is going on in today’s world and for discerning how we are to respond as disciples of Christ. It reads, “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  

 

Remembering that this passage is the prelude to Jesus’ teaching of the masses and feeding the 5000, with a mere and few fishes and loaves, let us examine it. First, His Chosen return to Him and gather about Him, after having been out spreading His example and he invites them to come away to a quiet place to rest with Him. How important is it that we take time (daily) to take some time to be with our Lord in Him and His Word and in conversation with Him?  

 

Jesus highlights the importance of this throughout the Gospels! They went together to do this. Yet this passage goes on to tell us that, ultimately, Jesus will not nor cannot ignore those (still) seeking His goodness and mercy; His Presence! If we want to understand (and live) His insights into our lives, thoughts, words, and deeds, we must turn to Him!  We must do so in both quiet and private prayer, listening and discerning, as well as through acts that bring Him (His Word and Example) to others!  Resting in Him, is rejuvenating for that “faith in action”, which we are called to live!  

 

Lord, our world and all in it are troubled and pained! Give us wisdom, courage, and strength to always seek Your Mercy, first!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017


In Mark 8:27-31, we find the account of Jesus, walking with His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi. In their conversations He asked, “Who do people say that I am?” They responded with answers such as, Elijah, John the Baptist, a prophet of old. Upon hearing these and having spent “quality time” with His disciples, in prayer, teaching, modeling and simply having shown them “Who He Is” through this example, He asked them, more directly, “Who do YOU say that I am?”  Peter immediately responded, “You are the Messiah.”  

 

Matthew, in 16:13-20, gives this very same account. In both accounts, Jesus goes on to foretell His Death and Resurrection for the first time. This would be the first of several times in which Jesus strives to help His disciples truly see why God became Man, bringing them to full understanding of His Mission. As we consider Jesus’ question of His Disciples (and us), we can ponder it in two different ways.  

 

In the first, we must look at how do we answer Jesus’ question in our daily lives? Do we reply as if we are the “other people” who were describing Jesus as some vague “re-incarnation” of a previous man of God? Or do we truly respond as if we are one of His Apostles, and as Peter boldly proclaimed, saying “You are the Messiah (the Son of God)!” If the latter, then how does this belief impact how we respond to each day’s moments and events?  

 

The second way we can look at it is more personal. What if we asked those around us, “Who do people say I am (related to how we think people perceive us as followers of/in Jesus, that is)? How will they respond? Will “Christian” be part of their response? Will “compassionate”, “kind”, “merciful”, “caring” or other such Christ-like descriptors be part of their response? As we reflect on these to considerations, make note of all we can do to reflect our stated Christian belief in both Word and Deed!  

 

Lord, give us strength and courage to answer, like a true disciple, in both word and deed, that “You are the Messiah, The Son of God”  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017 


We are called to be bold in our life’s declaration of faith in God—our faith that Jesus, God-Man, who became one of us so that we would see the Glory of God and know and understand how to live our lives! In Matthew 16:13-18, we find Jesus “testing” the Twelve by asking two questions: 1) “Who do people say I, the Son of Man, am?” 2) Who do you say that I am?” 

 

The disciples had already begun ministry with Jesus and had witnessed the people’s hunger for Him, but they also witnessed in that desire, the questioning doubt as to Who He truly is. They knew that people understood Jesus was special, but also knew that they did not truly know or believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. In answer to the second question, though, Peter (always bold) answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”  

 

Jesus, satisfied with his bold answer commended him, blessed Him, and emphasized that this knowledge did not come from some human witness and experience, but rather from truly experiencing God. He goes on to tell Peter and the disciples that it is through this revelation and acceptance of this revelation upon which the Church of God is built. Peter was directly told, “You are Peter (which means, “rock”) and upon this rock I will build My Church…” 

 

Jesus makes it clear that no power of evil can overcome His Church! How does this apply to us as His Body of Believers today? We are called to be “living stones” of  God’s Church, just as  the foundation of this Church was laid upon these first faithful! Living stones are vibrant, vocal and usable elements of God’s Spiritual Kingdom. We are called to come to Him as living stones!  

 

Lord, use us as building blocks in the house that is Your Spiritual Kingdom, both now and for eternity. May our faith and lives be living stones that strengthen Your Church’s foundation. Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017 


Mark 9:30-37 

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it.  He was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise."  But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me." 

 

There are those conversations that end like that—dead silence—when someone walks into the room. Maybe it was something like that for the disciples as they were laying out plans for themselves as to who was the greatest among them. That long pregnant pause when no one says anything but everyone knows that there is an elephant in the kitchen and it can’t be avoided. 

 

Jesus got right to the meat of the elephant, so to speak. He called out the Twelve, putting them on the hot spot, maybe even making them sweat a little as He must have known their thoughts. As much as they had been with Him, Jesus knew what it was they had been discussing, much like He knows what we think and what we want and discuss amongst ourselves. Talk and thoughts about serving Him. Thoughts and talk about doing better. Even those thoughts about being better than the other folks we sometimes may judge and put ourselves above. And yes, even those other thoughts we would as soon not bring up here. 

 

He made it clear as He wrapped His arms around the child as He said whoever receives a child in His name, receives Him. And whoever receives Him, receives the One who sent Him. Jesus makes it clear for us what we are to do: humble ourselves before Him as children. He’s known us that way and how we are today: we are His children still. He came so that we might have eternal life. Let us not talk our way out of it, for we are not greater than the next person and we are never to be greater than He. 



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017


“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But, I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matthew 5:43-44 

 

Jesus is continuing His longest discourse recorded in the Gospels by speaking of the perfect, all-encompassing Love of God which requires us to love our enemies. Throughout this discourse He has shared with us the attributes of blessedness, our call to be salt and light-flavor and highlight- for the Word, and the importance of LIVING God’s Law and Word, not just mouthing it. 

 

He warns against anger, adultery and divorce—calling us to focus, instead, upon commitment to each other in the same perfect commitment He has to us! So, His transition into this topic of “all encompassing love” is natural. He begins by telling His followers how to handle those who would do them harm. He says, “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” 

 

In our human condition, the challenge to overcome the desire to retaliate against someone, whom we perceive as having “wronged” us, is great. To continue his point, Jesus clearly tells us that we are to love our enemies—those we see as standing against us.  He recognizes this challenge, but goes on to challenge us to “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”. How do we meet this incredible challenge?  One way is to recall that St. Paul writes, in Philippians, “We can do all things in Christ, who strengthens us.”  

 

Lord, often we pray for the strength to do things we desire. Help us to pray for those things that are difficult for us to desire, such as loving those whom we perceive as “against us”. Give us strength to truly love. Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2017


In Mark 8:14:21, we find Jesus and His Disciples in a boat, having left the religious leaders on the shore.  As they crossed the sea, they realized that they had only brought one loaf of bread. As they grumbled about this, Jesus did two things: 1) He mysteriously said, “Watch out, beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” And 2) He reminded them that He had just fed thousands on two different occasions, with just a few fish and loaves. 

 

Jesus often spoke to His disciples in confusing parables or statements. In warning them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod He desired that they understood that we are not to be distracted and blinded by human desire. Rather, we are to be guided by God’s influence and action in our lives and, most importantly, we are not to be blind to that influence.  

 

Seeing their “panic” in the boat when they realized they only had one loaf between them was evidence, to Jesus, that they had yet to understand the goodness and mercy of God. The Apostles had literally, just witnessed two occasions of His Mercy, in feeding thousands of people who were seeking God and yet, here, Jesus’ closest friends still expressed doubt and fear! He asks them, “Do you not yet understand?” 

 

This “reprimanding question” calls them on not grasping the importance of the two different occasions in which thousands were fed from “nothing”. Surely, as it becomes evident that Jesus is the “True Bread of Life that offers Eternal Life”, Jesus needed them to understand these two miracles’ significance!  

 

Lord, help us to build our trust in You, placing all things, great and small, into Your loving hands!  Let us not lose sight of You in any moments of our lives.  When we pray, “Give us, this day, our daily bread”, let us be confident that Your very Presence will guide us through this life and into the next.  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2017


In Mark 7:1-13, the Pharisees question and condemn Jesus and His Disciples for not following the “tradition of the law.” In particular, they criticize that His Disciples eat with unclean hands. Jesus responds, quoting Isaiah, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” Isaiah 29:13 reads, “The Lord said, “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;”.  

Jesus, because He is God, cannot be “outwitted”, as we learn throughout the Gospel accounts of His earthly ministry. So, here, He directly and rightly warns them against “outward appearances” versus truth and faithfulness of hearts in action! This caution is particularly relevant in today’s world, as well! We must ask ourselves, “What constitutes “clean” in the eyes of God?” Is it strict adherence to the laws and rituals that have been established, without regard for our fellow man?  

The Pharisees and other religious leaders and scholars prided themselves in their knowledge of the law and their outward conformity. Jesus, in His caution, does not downplay the importance of knowing God’s Word and Law, but the sole purpose of His Coming as Man was to give us the example of Living that which we know! 

Leviticus 11:44 reads, “Be Holy, for I Am Holy.”  God created us in His image and likeness. These two scriptural commands embody Jesus’ emphasis that we are called to be Holy—that is, dedicated to God’s Purpose.  This can’t be in appearance only—it must be in word and deed. We must take action to create ourselves into God’s image in this life, so as to be one with Him in the next!  

Lord, instill in us a clean heart, mind, and soul that is reflected in and by our service to you in this life!  Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y.

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2017


“From Gennesaret, He set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know He was there. Yet He could not escape notice; a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about Him, and she came and bowed down at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-Phoenician origin. She begged Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then He said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.”  

Mark 7:24-30 may at first, be a bit “confusing”, as we read about Jesus, seemingly denying help to this woman with a rather harsh statement “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 

It was not normal for Gentiles to approach Jews for assistance, nor for Jews to give it. But, as we read on, with our understanding that faith and firmness of faith is what God desires of us in this world, we see that Jesus was not condemning this woman, rather He became moved by the strength of her faith—willingness to persist.  And Jesus again, shows an example of willingness (and obligation) to go beyond law and traditions to show true mercy to others—ALL others. 

Jesus did not withhold his care and compassion from anyone, therefore, we are called to do the same in welcoming everyone, even those whom society may deem unworthy out of some fear or other (seemingly rational?) emotion.  

Lord, help us to witness to each other and grow a willingness to “leave our comfort zones”, reaching out to those who may be “marginalized” by our own human limitations/institutions.  Jesus, Only You!   J.O.Y.

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017


Reading Mark 8:34-38, Jesus talks to us about “life”! As Christians we profess a belief in Eternal Life. In professing this belief, then, we must challenge ourselves to live in such a way as to reflect that belief.  “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life, for My sake and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it”, Jesus talks about this very eternal life and the choices we are called to make in order to live it!  

 

The old “Miller High Life” commercials come to mind, as well as the phrase, “This is the life” that we often hear. In these commercials and when this phrase is used, what is depicted and glorified is a worldly life—people enjoying worldly luxuries and the implication is that “this is life”. Jesus, on the other hand, is arguing that Life is much more than this. And if we truly come to understand His “Eternal Life”, then we will understand that the worldly things that we tend to equate with “life” pass away, but the Life, exemplified by Jesus’ mission and earned by His Sacrifice (of coming to earth to show us how to live it), will not pass away.  

 

He makes it clear, though, that we are called to live His example in this world, striving to understand and emulate the kindness, compassion, and mercy of Jesus, with each other! He does not expect perfection from us, in our human condition, but he does make it clear that we are to acknowledge Him. What exactly does He ask in return for eternal life: “Those who are ashamed of Me and My Words… I will also be ashamed of.” In this verse we are warned to seek Him above the distractions of this world. If we place fading material and worldly desires above Him, we make a choice for something that goes away, not Him, Who is always Present! Jesus calls us to review our priorities, placing His Ways as our true guide in life’s word and deed!  

 

Lord, help us to live life as Your Disciple, acting towards others in the example you have shown us, desiring Your Ways!  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 


“Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and He looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”  Mark writes about Jesus’ curing of a blind man at the town of Bethsaida. Here we find three powerful elements of faith’s journey that this man experienced because He was open to Jesus’ presence! First, we find the word “intently”. Jesus had responded to the man’s pleadings to touch Him and heal him from his blindness. Jesus touched his eyes and asked, “Can you see?”, to which the man responded that he could see, but, “the people look like trees walking”.  

 

While laying on His hands, again, the man looked “intently”. Is this not what we are called to do? Maintain our faith with great intent and purpose? By doing so, the second element becomes apparent, “the man’s sight was restored”. Through his purposeful seeking of Jesus and openness to being “touched” by Him, the man’s sight was restored! Finally, it says, “He saw everything clearly”: the most important result of our faith’s journey!  

 

As Christians in today’s world, let us examine our faith. Do we approach it, dally with a clear intent to seek and be touched by God? Do we expect, through that intent, to receive Him in our heart and mind’s eye? Do we receive more clarity as a result of each day’s journey? What does this mean to us in our daily lives?  

 

When Jesus comes into our lives, we become enlightened—we understand and see others from His perspective. Such a view is our opportunity to be healed from the blindness of worldly prejudices and distractions, making forgiveness, love, compassion and mercy more “visible” in our lives and that of others!  

Lord, open our eyes to the blindness of this world. May we seek you intently so that the goodness of Your creation is restored for all of us. And may we, ultimately, see You more clearly, day by day! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2017 


Then looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.” This passage, from Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of a deaf-mute man, sums up that which we all pray for in our faith’s mission.  

 

We all are called to “be open” to the Words and Ways of God. As a deaf-mute, the challenge to effectively communicate with others must be incredible. Being unable to hear and speak would clearly be a hindrance, in this world of communication, spoken word, used in everyday life. The inability to do these two simple acts would create a problem for the person who is unable to do so, as well as the people with whom he is trying to communicate. These same problems, therefore, transfer into our relationship with God. If we are deaf and mute to God’s Word, how can we receive and communicate—proclaim—His Word?  

 

God calls us to hear Him and to speak to Him. When we accept our calling, through Baptism, to receive the Holy Spirit we are also promising to Live His Ways, which includes being open to His voice and sharing Him through our life’s work. It is that simple, though not always easy! Throughout each day, how often do we stop and listen, asking ourselves, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?” How often, in turn, do we share that guidance openly and boldly (through word and deed)? In this healing, Jesus blessed the deaf-mute with a life-changing experience—to hear and to speak! Jesus desires us to be healed and freed from that which prevents or distracts us from hearing and speaking—proclaiming God’s Glory—in our daily lives!  

 

Lord, place Your hands upon us and our lives, saying, “Be Opened”, thus freeing us from this life’s distractions to fully praise You in all thought, word, and deed! Jesus, Only You! J.O.Y. 

Paul B.

  



OFFER IT UP!  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017 


Matthew Five contains a lengthy discourse from Jesus, through which we draw so much on how to live our faith and to truly understand God’s love and desire for us! Jesus clearly states a summary of both God’s Love for us and His desires for us: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”  

 

We must remember that Jesus faced much criticism from the religious leaders for, what they interpreted, as His lack of regard for the Law of God. But, here and throughout His ministry, He makes it clear that obedience to the law is only a small part of the actual fulfillment of the law. It is fine and good to “adhere” to the law, but if we don’t understand it and act differently ( or better) as a result of the law, then what have we gained?  

 

We often see quotes to the effect of, “Character is not displayed by what you do when everyone is watching, it is what you do when you think no one is watching.” This is, very much, a part of what Jesus is saying when He says that He is not here to abolish the Law of God but to fulfill it. Yes, His coming to earth fulfills the prophesies of old, and we know and understand that. But His life’s example is an example of how we “live the law”, not just blindly obey it. As Christians, we must understand that our actions, that result from our call to obedience to God’s Law, are being watched twice as much as the call, itself.  

 

We cannot live by the “do as I say and not as I do” principle and be successful! This is the basic premise of Mark 5:17 and it is a powerful one! Jesus goes on, in Matthew 5:18-37, to fully expound on how our obedience and actions must stem from the heart, thus causing good acts by and among us!  

 

Lord, help us to have clean and clear hearts that drive us to be part of the fulfillment of God’s Law in all of our words AND deeds.  May Love of You be evident in our lives!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.

  



OFFER IT UP!  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 


Mark writes, in chapter 8:1-9, about the feeding of the large crowd with a few loaves and fish. Each Gospel records an event in which Jesus fed four or five thousand by making a small amount go a long way (Matthew 14:13; Mark 6:31; Luke 9:10; John 6:5.) “They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.” 

 

This verse summarizes the significance of these accounts. The entire reason that Jesus came to the earth bears this same significance: God’s love for us is unending and, even when we have had our “fill”, there is more left, just waiting for us! How amazing is that? We often marvel at the idea that He was able to take a few fishes and loaves and feed the masses, which we should! But let us not forget the true wonder of the fact that, no matter what, there is always more left for us!  

 

Mark points out the lesson in faith that the disciples learned, when they asked Jesus, ‘How can we find these enough bread to feed these people in such a deserted place?’ This was in response to Jesus expressing His compassion for the multitudes who were following, gathering and clinging to His every Word. In response to their questioning and doubt, Jesus simply ordered them to gather any meager offerings they could, which netted seven loaves and a few fish, over which He gave thanks, blessed them and ordered 4,000 people to be served. ‘All ate and were filled’.  

 

The same is true for our spiritual hunger—God’s nourishment is endless and there is always something more, waiting for us! When we receive the Word and Christ’s Body, in communion, we are spiritually and physically (and emotionally) nourished!  

Lord, give us the faith to continually approach You and hunger for You! You are a never-ending source of enrichment for our journey in this life, as we traverse the road into Your Kingdom. Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2017


Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon him.

JIMMY TED MERE

1957-2017

'It's to you, Ted.'




OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2017


Mark 6:53-56 

”When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized Him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might touch even the fringe of His cloak; and all who touched Him were healed.”  

 

Everywhere Jesus went, the crowds followed Him, sought Him, called for Him! The first ten chapters of Mark’s Gospel are filled with record of the Good Works Jesus shared with all who sought Him! We read of account after account of healings, blessings, and teachings! Verse 56 sums up the faith to which we are called in order to experience the same:  “And, wherever He went… they begged Him that they might touch even the fringe of His cloak; and all who touched Him were healed.”  

 

We are taught and believe that “God is everywhere” (Psalm139:7-12). Knowing this, we must be like the people described in the gospel,  constantly seeking Him, finding Him and touching Him! We are called to be active in Faith, not sitting back waiting for Him to come to us. In fact, He is already here. In our distractions, intentional/unintentional blindness, and stubbornness, let us not lose sight of His Presence!  

 

We must ask ourselves, “Do we only seek to see Him when we need something?” Or do we endeavor to touch Him-or be His touch-in our daily lives and interactions with others? As with the people Mark describes, let us seek Him so that we can touch Him in faith, through our daily lives! Let us seek Him!  

 

Lord, You are the great teacher; show us how to be “ministers” to those in need! May we not only seek to touch You, every day, but to be examples of Your touch to those in need of Your physical, emotional, and spiritual Presence: Faith in Action! Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017


In Matthew 6:13, Jesus tells us that we are to be salt for the earth and we are to retain our zest and zeal, as salt does; for if we lose that appeal, we are “good for nothing”. We are all aware that salt serves two very important roles—preservation and flavor! In our pastor’s homily, he also discussed the “purity” of salt. These three elements of salt are relevant to the Christian’s task in being “Salt for the World.  

 

We are called to preserve the Life of Christ through our word and deed, proclaiming His Good News of Salvation and showing the way through our example! We are to add “flavor” to this Life we proclaim, with enthusiasm and zeal, just as salt adds flavor and “pop” to foods—bringing out each food’s special qualities. It is our call to bring out the good in others, by our own good! Finally, we must do so with pure intent, just as salt is a pure element: it does so simply and naturally! If we do not maintain our zeal and zest, we lose our purpose, just as salt, and we become useless to the world around us, for the purposes of God’s desires for man! 

 

Salt has several references throughout scripture and it is not without importance in the Law, as part of offerings made in sacrifices—Leviticus 2:13 says, “Every offering...you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking salt… with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Salt was used as a sacred sign of covenant (ref Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Salt has incredible staying power in its natural, pure form and Christ calls us to show that same power in our faith’s life!  

 

In Matthew 13:14-16, He also calls us to be light—the first thing created by God in Genesis 1:1-4. God purposefully separated the void of darkness from the Light! Light is meant to be seen and to be a beacon for all to be brought to God—therefore we are to let it shine before and for others to be led to Him.  

 

Lord, help us to be pure in Your motives, just as salt and light in their basic forms! May we bring lasting flavor and illumination to this life, leading to the next.  Jesus, Only You!

Paul B.




OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CYNDI!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRAD!


Birthday notes...

 

Friends come. 

Friends go.

  Those that stay through the tests of time and weather the storms with you are those of the truest sort. Scripturally speaking, Sirach regards such friendship as one’s ‘confidant’, ‘a sturdy shelter’, ‘beyond price’, indeed ‘life-saving medicine’. 

All worthy accounts of a good best friend of mine who today celebrates his birthday. 

 

  No, he is not such the friend that is there only as it suits him—fair weather and storm and all in between he would maintain the helm if called upon. When things are going well, it is not about him and even more about those he seeks to share in friendship and well-being, the essence of seeking the good of another. Yes, that is the strength and love he shares.

 

  He gets it all honestly as it comes from the faith he has, honoring and glorifying God his maker. And he will be the first to say he's not worthy of such praise or anything God has blessed him with as he knows where all he has is from--his God Who made him soooooo many years ago today.

 

Happy Birthday to my good best friend, Bradley Erle.

May the day be blessed and full of grace and may there be many more to share.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2017 


“….there is nothing outside a person, that by going in, can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Mark 7:15 

 

Jesus makes this statement to the crowds, in His continued response to the Pharisees questioning of the apparent lack of regard and commitment to the rituals of cleanliness—eating with unclean hands. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus goes on to point out that the true source of uncleanliness—that which is evil—comes from within, from our innermost thoughts and acts that result or don’t result, for that matter, from those thoughts.  

 

He goes on to emphasize this, saying, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come….” This reminder, again, serves to warn us of getting caught up with the distractions of self-centeredness and pride, the external appearances. Rather, we should live in a selfless manner, with all that comes out of us in word and deed, centering upon Christ’s example. We must ask ourselves each day, “What is important to us as Christians?” And, “Is our faith’s work the fruit of an inner desire to seek God; to be at peace with Him?”  

 

The answer to these questions lays in how we balance our focus between our “Sunday to Sunday Rituals” and the impact that those rituals have on every moment in between the “Sunday-to-Sunday” events. While we believe and know that the time spent in our worship services, with like-minded people, is important, these can become mindless commitment if we don’t strive to be personally connected to God in all that we say and do in our daily lives. Life is a gift (from Him) every day, not just on “Sunday”.  

 

Lord, may we remember and live the understanding that life, in You, is more than just our Sunday ritual and occasional reading of Your Word. May we truly reflect the example of Christ in everything that comes from us! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017 


Mark 7:1-13 

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" 
He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me;in vain do they worship me,teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say, 'If someone says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."

 

From Genesis, we learn that God made us in His own image. That image is from the inside out, from all that we hold in our heart, minds and souls and what we hold true in our belief and love. Sure, we all look a little different from one another yet we do carry within us His compassion, His love and His generosity—or at least we are supposed to. 

The gospel points out how the Pharisees thought a little differently about that. In their self-righteousness, they felt that tradition was more important than the commandments that God had for them. Indeed, washing their hands before they ate was healthy but was it more important than honoring your mother and father? Jesus pointed out to them that their traditions were important but not at the expense of loving God and one’s neighbor. As He said when He quoted Isaiah: 

‘These people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ 

Sort of saying here… somewhat like lip service—their words don’t support their actions. There is a story of the priest who would every week, throw all the collection up in the air for God. He would say: Whatever stays up, He keeps, and the rest comes to me. Similar then to the Pharisees—their offerings went to the air but didn’t stay up long enough to do any good. 

How often have we been in similar circumstances, going through all the right steps with our piety—honoring our Sunday obligations, saying our meal prayers, with occasional reconciliation… yet we still are no better in our faith as we get tied down in our ‘thou shall nots’ and judgments of one another instead of putting ourselves in a better position to be who God has called us to be. And we do that as we see ourselves as God made us in His image and with His love.



OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2017 


Mark 6:30-34, is a perfect reading as we ponder all that is going on in today’s world and for discerning how we are to respond, as disciples of Christ. It reads, “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”  

 

Remembering that this passage is the prelude to Jesus’ teaching of the masses and feeding the 5000, with a mere and few fishes and loaves, let us examine it. First, His Chosen return to Him and gather about Him, after having been out spreading His example and he invites them to come away to a quiet place to rest with Him. How important is it that we take time each day to be with our Lord in Him and with His Word and in conversation and prayer with Him? Jesus highlights the importance of this throughout the Gospels!  

 

They went together to do this. Yet, this passage goes on to tell us that, ultimately, Jesus will not nor cannot ignore those still seeking His goodness and mercy; His Presence! If we want to understand and live His insights into our lives, thoughts, words and deeds, we must turn to Him! We must do so in both quiet and private prayer, listening and discerning, as well as through acts that bring Him—His Word and Example—to others! Resting in Him  is rejuvenating for that “faith in action”, which we are called to live!  

 

Lord, our world and all in it are troubled and pained! Give us wisdom, courage, and strength to always seek Your Mercy, first! Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2017 

How are we challenged in our daily lives to stand of for the Truth of God’s Word—our Faith?  In Mark, 6:17-27, we see Herod, in his humanness, finding himself in a challenging position (and not faring too well). Here, he has John the Baptist arrested and does so out of “peer pressure” and lack of strength and willingness to stand up for himself in what he sees with his own eyes, as well as conscience.  

 

John the Baptist, being a bearer of truth, had stood up to Herod, telling him that it was against the Will of God for him to have taken his brother’s wife, Herodias. She, in her anger, wanted John killed. But we find that Herod believed John to “be a righteous and holy man and he protected him… he perplexed him, but he liked to listen to him.”  

 

We know that John was laying the groundwork for Christ’s coming. Yet knowing this, how do we ready ourselves in our daily lives? Do we believe in the righteousness of God? Are we interested, seeking, perplexed, or just curious? Do we like to Listen Him? Finally, do we protect Him by proclaiming Him in our daily word and deed?  

 

Herod, eventually “gave in” to Herodias, succumbing to human greed, pride, and desire, and had John beheaded. As we ponder all of the distractions in the world around us, we are challenged to think of the times we have been called to stand up for our faith’s teachings. We must assess the message we send in those moments and how we can continue to stand strong or stand stronger in future opportunities. This can and must be accomplished through continually seeking Him and asking ourselves the often casually thrown around question, “W.W.J.D?” When we encounter resistance to our faith, we must remain focused and fearless, as did John!  

 

Lord, give us the strength to remain steadfast in our proclamation, love, and response to Your Word and Call in our daily lives! May we put forth Your love in this world to live in it in the next!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2017 

In Exodus 13:2, the Lord said to Moses:  “Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine.” So in Luke 2:22-40, it is appropriate that Joseph and Mary took the infant Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, thus fulfilling the Law, as faithful followers of God’s Law! In doing so, they presented two turtle doves as their offering to the Lord, in thanksgiving sacrifice. 

 

While there, they were blessed by the presence and words of Simeon and Anna. Simeon, an old, righteous and devout man, was at the temple and rejoiced at the sight of Jesus. The Spirit of God had told him that he would live to see the Christ. He took the infant in his arms and said, “Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace… for my eyes have seen Your Salvation…”  

 

Anna, having lived a long life as a widow, spent her years in the temple praying for the redemption of Israel. She, too, upon seeing Jesus, gave thanks to God and spoke of this child as the redemption of Jerusalem! Joseph and Mary were amazed at their words, but knew that God’s hand was guiding them and Jesus.  

 

How do we present Jesus as part of us in heart, mind, soul, word, and deed? How do we invite and receive Jesus into our heart, mind, soul, word and deed? These are two questions we must ask ourselves in understanding this entire passage. We are called to know the Law of God and His desires for us. We can best know this through knowledge of Him as the Word. And, as Joseph and Mary did, we are called to adhere to His Law and desire.  We are called to seek and receive Him as Simeon and Anna did, praying and waiting for His Presence and rejoicing in it at every opportunity, every day of our life!  

 

Lord, be our hope and salvation! Be our Life, now and forever! May we patiently seek you and, through our lives, boldly point others to you!  

Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2017 


Our faith is not our own in that we are grown in it from the love of Jesus Christ. 

Our faith is about believing and knowing what God can do for us and through us, not about what we think we can do for ourselves. Indeed, we are healed, directed, saved and given new life and peace through His power and love.  

 

Scripture tells us—in gospel form or letter—tells us or urges us to remain faithful to our calling and not to be tempted to fall back to the ways of darkness and sin, the obstacles that keep us from our path of holiness. That great cloud of witnesses of saints and angels and holy women and men serve as our encouragement, our faithful and ongoing support we find in our faith. Those that have given us the Good News point them out as our witnesses to a faith that is filled with such an impressive list of heroes and saints from the Old Testament and New Testament. Martyrs, holy men and women and saints-to-be, as they lived and gave their lives to the power of faith and God’s faithfulness. As they did, so should we, laying aside every obstacle, especially that of sin which can be so difficult to shake off. 

 

As their model and as ours, we are to look to Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter” of their faith. He both leads the way in showing how to lead a life of faith and, through his death, and at the same time gives the strength and grace for us fully to develop our own faith. Jesus is both the start and the end of the race, our journey. He is also the supreme witness who has already run the race and overcome. Whether you see it as a long distance race or several sprints that make up the greater, complete marathon, Jesus knows the entire length and breadth of the distance. 

 

Because of this, he now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. If we but follow in his footsteps, we too can be with Jesus sharing the same glory as the saints. And whenever we are challenged beyond our own strength, let us look to the cross and see Him Who gave His all for us as we give our all for Him. Let us be Reminded and shown each day we have from Him of the loving care and grace He take with us and how we should do the same with others.



OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2017 

Mark 5:21-43 tells of two amazing accounts of the power of faith. It begins with one of the leaders of the synagogue, Jarius, approaching Jesus, begging Him to come and lay hands upon his daughter, who is near death. Crowds follow Jesus as He moves toward the man’s home. In the crowd is a woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years, with no cure. She, in faith, moves through the crowd seeking an opportunity to “but touch His clothes”, knowing she’d be made well.  

 

Both are examples of faith in the healing power of Jesus! The woman, getting close enough, touched Jesus and was immediately impacted by His healing power. Jesus, knowing what had happened in feeling the strength of her faith bringing forth his healing power, asked “Who touched me?” Think about this question in our lives? Is our faith such that Jesus asks amidst the busy-ness of this world, “Who touched me”, because of the strength of our faith? Do we, like the woman, seek out and reach for Him at all moments of our lives, no matter the distraction?  

 

Many have heard the Christian song, “He Touched Me” and we have all been blessed by His touch, but this woman’s plight brings to mind the importance of us making steps toward Jesus, in our faith’s efforts! He tells her, “Your faith has made you well.”  Now we mustn’t forget that this occurred while Jesus was responding to the call for help from the synagogue leader. As Jesus was delayed by His interaction with this woman, people from Jarius’ home came saying, “It is too late, she has died”.  Jesus hears this and says, “Do not fear, only believe.”  Jarius is faithful, patient and listens to Jesus. And he receives the reward of his faith as well.  

 

Lord, help us to seek you and to hopefully and patiently await the rewards of our faith in Your Eternal Power in our lives. May we touch and be touched by You!  Jesus, Only You! 

Paul B.



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2017


In every day we face fears in our lives. While some are more jarring, serious, or “attention-grabbing” than others, we must consider as Christians, how we face each one of them. And we must ponder the strength of our faith’s response in the face of each encounter with fear! How we react to that fear is a direct correlation to our relationship with God and the depth of the trust we are able to place in Him during these moments.  

 

In Mark 4:35-41, he tells of the disciples and Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee, after a day of Jesus’ addressing crowds of people. Jesus, tired, was asleep in the back of the boat and remained peaceful, even as a strong storm picked up wind and kicked up waves. The disciples, out of fear, woke up the Master saying, “Teacher, do you not care?” Jesus, seeing their fear, immediately commanded the storm to stop and it responded by calming.  

 

The disciples, though they had already witnessed the power of Jesus’ love through healing of the sick, casting out of demons, comfort of those in need and the forgiveness of sins, were awe-struck. Jesus asked, them, “Why are you afraid?  Have you STILL no faith?” 

 

Jesus asks us to ponder this question each and every time we face a challenging, doubtful, or fearful situation. The disciples, literally living in and with the Presence of Jesus, still feared for their safety! It is, in all spiritual reality, THEY who were asleep in faith, while Jesus was ever-present to them in their moment of need!  

 

As Christians we must strive to not let fear (or other human emotions) distract us from the knowledge of God’s Presence among us or, more importantly, from the promise of Eternal Salvation, where we will be, forever, in His Presence.  

 

Lord, may our faith increase, in all we see and experience, Your visible Presence among us. Awaken, in us, faith’s courage and strength! Jesus, Only You!  J.O.Y. 

Paul B.