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

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OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 31, 2014

Jeremiah 18:1-6

This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD: rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message. I went down to the potter’s house and there he was, working at the wheel. Whenever the object of clay, which he was making, turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

 

We all start with some sort of foundation. Even as newborn children, we have what our parents have given us, however much or little that is or has been. From there, we are taught and we learn and we grow. Some of us might even mature in a number of ways.


Whatever that foundation is, we continue to use it to stabilize, to build, to further our own journeys. Be it faith, be it family, or be it more worldly, we find ways to use the lessons we have been taught to raise ourselves up to another level of life. Yes, maybe and hopefully, even mature in our faith along the way.


As the potter will mold his clay, if it is not what he or she has intended, they will take what they started with and begin again. They don’t throw away everything they have learned nor do they necessarily make ‘new’ clay. They use the tools and materials and gifts at hand and make something else, more often even better than what they had previously. It may not be what they had originally intended but it ends up being something that ‘pleases’ them just the same.


Much can be said for the plans we have for our lives: though man proposes, God disposes. With our free will and the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer and discernment, we can actively live according to the will of God in our lives. As the potter molds the clay, so will God’s way mold us as we submit to His will for us. There is no better way then for any of us to be formed in our faith than in the hands of the master potter.




OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014
Happy Birthday Tony!

The Kingdom of God, Jesus says is like… a mustard seed, leaven, pearl of great  price, treasure found in a field. As we listen, read and reflect, what does it mean? To find something that is so fantastic, we sell all we have and obtain it. More than we are willing to give our life. Even in giving our life, we come out with more than we can imagine. 

 

Eternal life.

 

As we hear this message from Jesus Himself, do we really grasp what He is saying? Perhaps the created world around us with all its wonders, with all its pleasures, with all its continually new discoveries that bring us moments of happiness, they are all too quickly cast aside. They are but distractions that blind us to the wonder of what Jesus is telling us in today's Gospel.  

 

We can get so caught up with all that we discover in God's creation, that we are like children with a constant stream of new toys, and in our preoccupation we fail to see the Creator who longs for our love. Will we seek to find the pearl of great price like the merchant? Will we rejoice with the one who, walking through life's fields finds the treasure and realizes it and responds in love? We can only pray that we do.

Deacon


Birthday notes...
He would be celebrating maybe his 67th birthday today. Or maybe he wouldn’t. Whatever he would be doing, he would be doing by example with his faith, living and leading with an attitude of faith we should all strive for. That is the witness that was lived and left by Tony.

 

Humble service and kindness toward others—just because. Generous to a fault with love, with treasure and with talent, all from his heart and soul. As he was given abundantly, so did he share in that same way. He responded to God’s call in so many ways with so many gifts. And as he did, he trusted that God would keep him faithful till the end.

 

And that is what mattered to Tony. Faithfulness. And the love of God that we all find in it. Were it not for the love and faithfulness that God has in us and what we return to Him, then what would matter at all? Tony reflected God’s love as he offered it back on his journey. Let our journeys be so reflective of God’s love as well.

 

Happy Birthday Tony.

Till this day you are missed.

Till this day you are loved.




OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014 

Today, in opening the Gospel to Luke 10:38-42, we find sisters, Martha and Mary, welcoming Jesus into their home. We see a contrast in their style of welcoming and serving Him.

 

Upon His arrival, Jesus was seated and Mary immediately sat down at his feet, listening to and visiting with Him. Martha busied herself with the tasks of service to their guest. After awhile, Martha became irritated that she was doing all of the work while Mary simply sat with the Lord. 

 

Jesus reminds Martha that she worries too much.  It is not that He did not appreciate Marthas efforts in welcoming Him and serving  Him. But, she must not begrudge Mary taking the time to sit, listen and talk to Him, either. Rather, she should understand that Mary is simply filling His desire (of all of us) that we take some time to sit with Our Lord and listen!   Be still, and know that I am God (Ps 46:10) comes to mind, as this Gospel is read.  

 

It is obvious that the home of Mary and Martha was filled with a love, respect and Faith in Jesus, demonstrated by them welcoming Him in. When we welcome people into our home, there is always preparation and work to do.  It is the same in welcoming Jesus into our hearts. There is always work and service to do, but this Gospel reminds us that we are not to get too busy to take the time to spend time with Him, listening and talking, when we welcome Him into our lives. Each of the sisters welcomed Jesus in. At that moment, each took on a different role in this welcoming.  

 

Lord Jesus, come into my heart and home! As I welcome You, please give me the strength to serve You in thought, word, and deed and the wisdom to know when to sit and listen, when you speak to me, through Your Words and Gifts of the Spirit.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014 

Last week we spent some time in Matthew 13:31-32, the parable of the mustard seed, growing from the tiniest seed into a beautiful tree that serves as shelter for the birds of the sky. In revisiting this parable, we must dwell upon the start of faith in our hearts—faith starts from the smallest beginnings and when we are receptive to God’s Word. 

 

Just as the growth of the mustard tree begins in a “mysterious” fashion, within a tiny seed that is receptive to the richness of the soil and water (thus growing into a tree that, ultimately serves as shelter and protection), so is the seed of our faith, which grows to serve as shelter protection for us, not only in this life, but for eternity in the joys of the Father in Heaven. 

 

As a tree grows, it becomes stronger in the face of winds, storms, and scorching sun. So to, our faith becomes stronger until it is the refuge we seek in the face of life’s storms. But, this strength is only built if the seed is nurtured and tended. The transformation of seed to full-grown plant, though mysterious to the naked eye, cannot occur fully without water and soil to strengthen and protect it as it comes to bear.  

 

The transformation of our faith cannot occur without the rich soil of God’s Word and the water of His Saving Grace and Wisdom.  And once it comes to fruition, the tree of our faith becomes a haven, not only for us but for those around us who need to rely on our strength (and we, theirs).  

 

Father, fill me with Your Spirit of transformation to be a model of faith that You desire—an example of the seed of faith, growing and strengthening with the passage of time, fed by Your Word, Wisdom, and Grace. May I and others find comfort in You and the strength of this Faith!

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014 

Todays Gospel provides enough reflection opportunity for a dissertation on the treasures of the Kingdomin Matthew 13:44-50, Jesus reminds us that we must desire, seek and treasure Gods Will as our own and stop at no distractions to identify and obtain His Gifts. 

 

Jesus, in a series of parables, describes the gift of Gods Kingdom as looking for and finding a treasure that you must have and will give all you have(and are to obtain that treasure. Frankly put, we are reminded that there is no greater treasure than the Kingdom of Heaven that has been offered to us from the beginning of time and affirmed for us through the Sacrifice of God. He, literally, gave us the ultimate example of giving ones self (entire self) to Him for His Glorythrough Jesus life, teachings, passion, death, and resurrection!  

 

In the parables presented today, He describes a man who finds a treasure hidden in a field and, desiring it, sells all he owns to buy the field so that he can obtain that treasure. There is the merchant who finds the finest, peerless pearl and trades all that he has to obtain it. So it must be with Gods Kingdom! If we but try to comprehend and grasp the joy and consolation that His Word and Will brings to our lives, we will give of ourselves so as to obtain the finest and most enduring wealth we can imagine:  Eternal Life!  

The final parable brings us back to an understanding that in this life, there will always be the distractions (weeds, yesterdays reflection) in life. He drives this point through an example of fishing. When you cast your large net into the water you not only get the most desirable fish in the net, you get those that must be separated and put back or sorted away from the good.  

 

Lord, may Your word root in my heart and transform my thinking, discerning, and outward actions. Open my ears to hear and mind to understand so that I can unearth the treasures of Your Word and the reward of Kingdom! 

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JULY 26, 2014 

 

Take time to think 
 - It is the source of power.
Take time to play 
- It is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to read 
- It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to pray 
- It is the greatest power on earth.
Take time to be friendly 
- It is the road to happiness.
Take time to laugh 
- It is the music of the soul.
Take time to give 
- It is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to work 
- It is the price of success.
Take time to do charity 
- It is the key to heaven.

 


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014 

Todays reading finds the mother of James and John asking Jesus to put her sons in positions of ultimate authority, one at His right and one at the left, in the Kingdom of Heaven. Who among us does not want to be first and held in esteem? Jesus, of course, explains that His vision of leadership and greatness is not the esteem in the eyes of man, but in those of God: to be a truly great disciple is to serve without expecting reward. Jesus clearly explains to them that He came to serve and not be served. 

 

First, He asks James and John if they can truly drink from His cup (even though it was not fully clear to them at the time what this meant). They readily answered, We can. Once they agreed, He made it clear to them that specific promises of grandeur were not His to grant, except for the simple (and greatest) reward of Eternal Joy in the Kingdom.

 

Then, he went on to explain to the other ten who were understandably indignant at the request of these two and their mom, that earthly authority is lorded over others, by those who consider themselves great in the eyes of man. But, in Gods Kingdom (and Will for us), this is not to happen. In order to become great in Gods eyes, you must be a servant, just as the Son of Man came to serve (and give His life for the sake of many).  

 

Lord, today of all days, may you grant me the grace of authentic and generous service to others for Your Glory in that service to others.  This may not always be easy, but with Your Spirit, I can dwell on this daily and forever in Your Kingdom

 


OFFER IT UP!   THURSDAY,  JULY 24, 2014 

In reading Matthew 13:10-17, one might think that Jesus is advocating the adage, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” in relation to spirituality. But upon further reading, we would have to expand this to understand that perhaps, He is saying that the rich see financial opportunity while the poor see only financial difficulties. Therefore, the faithful see opportunities for spiritual growth while the faithless see difficulties and roadblocks.  

 

Ultimately, we must be firm in believing and seeing that God is there for us, which is the meat of faith—such faith does not allow the pains and trials of the human condition to blind us from the opportunities of Truth and Love that God has given us. Too often we do not see the opportunities that God has placed right in front of us—which is why Jesus’ references Isaiah 6:9-10, in referencing to “listening, but not understanding” and “looking, but not truly perceiving”.  

 

We know that faith and understanding are part of God’s Gifts of Grace through the Holy Spirit. By growing faith and seeking Him, we foster these gifts that enable us to hear God’s Word with more clarity so as to better know Him in our daily existence. In this passage, though, Jesus is warning the disciples that not all will understand the teaching, though he uses parables to provide such common and simplistic opportunities to understand. One striking point of Jesus using parables to help provide simple and clear examples of His Word is that they (should) stir a call to action. The scribes and Pharisees had difficulty with this simplicity, perhaps because their extensive knowledge of the scriptures caused them to be “spiritually blind and deaf” to the call to action that is clear in this simplistic fashion of teaching? How could a simple “son of a carpenter” know more about God and His Word than they? 

 

Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide—open my ears to hear and my eyes to see and understand God’s presence and His call to action in my life. May my heart and senses sharpen with each OPPORTUNITY to demonstrate and increase faith in action. 

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014 

Today, we return to Matthews Gospel (13:1-9). The Gospel selection this morning revisits a recently reflected upon parablethe seed which falls upon soil. In revisiting this passage, today I was forced to dig deeper into what it means to actually hear AND absorb Gods Word. The four types of soil, in this parable, can be compared to what type of hearer we are of Gods Word.  

 

How do we accept Gods word? Are we a prejudiced hearer?  This hearer does not want to absorb the Word of God and blocks it out, letting others around him take it for themselvesjust like the ground that is so hard, the birds can (and do) come take the seed. 

 

One can also be a shallow hearer. As a shallow hearer we dont think things throughwe hear, we have a basic understanding and desire, but there is no depth beyond, perhaps, a brief period of emotional reaction. This is similar to the rocky soil in which a plant takes some root, but with no depth the sun and wind eventually wither the growth.  

 

The third type of hearer is the busy hearer. Just like a seed in the thicket, this person grows among the weeds and thorns, but eventually gets distracted and choked out by the growth around him, just as we often get distracted by the worldly desires around us that minimize or stop our spiritual growth.  

 

Finally, we have the active hearer. This person hears with an open mind and is willing to listen, learn and absorb that which is going to help him grow. This person chooses to listen, seeks to learn and discern that which is good from bad. And, ultimately chooses to accept Gods will. 

 

Lord, as we dig deeper into Your Word, allow the roots of our faith to take hold in the rich soil of Your Wisdom. Open our eyes to Your wonders and ears to your call and give us strength to grow in You! 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2014

Today the Church honors Mary Magdalene. The readings in the liturgy Micah, the Psalmist both lead us to reflect on the loving mercy of God who brings healing and forgiveness for our sins. The readings lead us into the Gospel of John's account of the Resurrection and Mary Magdalene's experience on that first Easter morn.


It is still dark that morning and Mary is on her way to the  tomb.  The darkness is symbolic of Mary's sorrow at the death of her teacher and Lord. His death on Good Friday and the initial burial preparations still fill her mind and break her heart. On her arrival at the tomb she is shocked to find it open, so she ran to Simon Peter and John  to tell them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put Him."


Mary returns to the tomb weeping in her distress, and she looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. They inquired why she was weeping and she responded that they had taken her Lord and she didn't know where they laid him.  Saying this she turned and saw Jesus but did not recognize him. He asks why the tears, and in the ensuing dialog she recognizes the Lord. He tells her to stop hanging on to Him and sends her to the Apostles to announce that she has seen Him. She becomes the Apostle to the Apostles. From darkness to light, Mary came to the tomb not with the light of faith, but with the darkness of mourning and perhaps doubt. She had not experienced the resurrection but was consumed with the loss of Jesus on that terrible Friday we now call Good Friday.


Mary responded by going to the apostles to tell them she had seen the Lord and reported what He told her. As we listen to this account today what is our response? Do we hear in the depths of our beings the words of Jesus that bolster our faith and draw us to Him? Does Mary's encounter remind us of the appearances of Jesus during the next 40 days? Do we hear with our heart and soul Thomas' proclamation: "My Lord and my God"? Do we find ourselves at breakfast and hear Jesus ask Peter and perhaps us...Do You Love Me?


The resurrection completes  the  revelation of Jesus of God's love for humanity for all that He has created  Pray this day that we like Mary may find the deep Joy of knowing that all will be well. 

Risen Lord hear our prayer.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JULY 21, 2014 

In Matthew 12:38-42, Jesus is challenged by church leaders to provide a sign as proof that He is the Messiah. Jesus immediately rebukes them, telling them that it is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for such. He makes a comparison, here, of the three days that Jonah remained in the belly of the whale to the three days the Son of Man will spend in the heart of the earth, thus anticipating His own passion, death, and resurrection, though they were too stubborn to His Words to understand that He IS Gods signGods Message of Salvation. 

 

These same leaders had rejected the message of John the Baptist and now that of Jesus: God, Himself! The leaders were too busy questioning the authority from which Jesus came , therefore could not confirm in their hearts the many miracles, works, words, and wonders He was sharing, leading up to the greatest sign of all: His Resurrection. 

 

Jesus used the words, It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign.  What would Jesus say about our generation?  About our words and ways, in our daily lives, in our churches?  James, in 3:17, tells us that Gods Wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruit, and is never uncertain or insincere. We have, in our generation today, full awareness of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, yet how often are we still seeking signs? How often are we doubtful in mind, thus causing static in our connection to the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit!

 

Lord, give me the Wisdom of Your Spirit, through Your Grace, to desire one thing: You! May the signs and wonder of Your Creation and the Gift of the Word be the strength and vessel by which we are filled with Your Spirit so that we may grow in wisdom and knowledge of You and Your will for us!

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 20, 2014

Do you allow God’s word to take deep root in your heart and life? This is the “question of the day” when one reads Matthew 13:24-30. 


Jesus uses parables, visualizing everyday actions for His listeners, to drive home the meanings of the Word. Today He uses the example of planting, harvesting, and sorting the good form the bad. Weeds, growing among the wheat, can spoil a good harvest if they are not separated and destroyed in proper time and manner. As he points out, uprooting them too early can destroy good plants in the process. 


Just as nature requires us to be patient in yielding the best harvest, God’s patience teaches us to guard the seed of His Word that has been planted in our hearts. In doing so, we must beware of the destructive forces of sin and evil than seek to and can destroy it. In the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this earthly life. Jesus makes clear that on that on the “day of harvest”, God will ensure the evil is separated from the good. Jesus goes on (in Matthew:31-43) to share two other parables.


In one, the mustard seed, in which it is proven that growth and transformation come from within. The tiniest of seeds grows into a tree that becomes a haven for God’s birds. God’s kingdom works in similar fashion, starting from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men, working in unseen fashion and causing transformation from within, for those receptive.


In the other, we see him use the example of leaven, in bread that transforms it from a lump of dough into a rich and wholesome bread. God’s Spirit produces such a wholesome change when we yield to Him.  


Lord, let Your word take root in the hearts of men and may your all-consuming power, love, and mercy transform our lives so that we may sow a pleasing harvest for You and to Your Glory!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014 

In todays Gospel passage Jesus withdraws from the crowds and officials as the Pharisees begin to plot against Him because He had violated the Sabbath by healing the withered hand of a crippled man.  Though He withdrew, many people found Him, still seeking His merciful gifts of healing and strength.

 

Jesus, knowing His time had not yet come and not wanting to start political strife, did not want people to make Him known as the Messiah. So, in His mercy, He also asked that they not make Him known at this time. Here we see, yet, another example of the old fulfilled in the new, as Matthew cites the suffering servant passage from Isaiah 42:1-4.

 

This passage explains how Jesus, the Messiah, would accomplish His mission, not through crushing power but through love, service, and sacrifice. In place of a kingly throne and earthly power, Jesus chose the mount a cross and wear a crown of thorns. There is no greater example of Gods Love for us than this sacrifice for our salvation. 

 

Lord, as Your love and mercy know no bounds, give me strength when I am weak, when discouragedhope! Send peace in troubled times and consolation in my sadness. May Your example of mercy and grace, through service and sacrifice, serve to guide me in my own actions, even when confronted and challenged by world around me.

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014

Today we encounter Jesus on the Sabbath with the apostles and they are plucking grain in the field as they walk on their journey. We are listening as the Scribes and Pharisees take issue by telling Jesus His disciples are breaking the Sabbath law. We listen carefully as Jesus takes care to defend the actions of His disciples. He speaks of mercy rather than sacrifice. Can we observe the reaction of the Scribes and Pharisees? This upstart teacher is trouble! He is stirring up the people.

 

I wonder are we not also capable of judging those we feel violate the law? How do we put into our way of living what Jesus is saying about man being over the Sabbath? We 21st century Christians are disciples of the Risen Christ. He has delivered us and called us to follow his way of truth and justice. He is the very Word of God, guiding us to the Father. 

 

Jesus help me in my lack of faith, strengthen me in my desire to serve You completely, that in union with You and those who are my sojourners in faith, we may be witnesses to You, that we proclaim You in all our endeavors. I lift up all who are associated with me in any way on this journey of faith. Bless us all with Your wisdom and strength. 

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 17, 2014

Come to me. My yoke is easy, my burden light.

As we listen to the Word of God our spirit comes alive at Jesus' words, His voice penetrates our minds and hearts. We heard the prophet Isaiah telling Israel and us of God's loving concern for all. And now God incarnate, Jesus the Christ tells us, in person if you will, that we are his concern. That in the ups and downs of our human journey if we will take His yoke, we will find the burdens less difficult. We will find rest in our difficult tiring times because He is with us sharing our burdens.

 

Daily we pray. We long for an increase in faith, hope and charity. It is in our determination to make time for God that we discover and become more aware of the awesomeness of this God who gives us life. With each breath can I continue to breath in the Spirit of God? When I do this, I become aware that He is always there, moment by moment, reminding me to pick up my cross, to accomplish those mundane tasks that lead to living and loving, fully alive to the wonder of being.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2014

Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed: 

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

 

Growing up, as children and as teens, we may have had a tendency to hear only what we wanted to hear. If we wanted something other than what our parents were telling us, we may have disregarded their instructions or pretended not to hear their direction. As we matured, some of us still hold on to that sort of practice in our relationships, tending to go our own ways when we get solid advice from spouses or friends or family… only to end up in conditions less favorable than when we started.

 

Jesus would have us listen to Him and though we may have our troubles, there would still be the greater wisdom and understanding as we continue to hear and listen to Him. The more we come to know and follow Him, the more we understand His Father, the Lord God. The more we do that, the more others can see our faith growing too, just as it did in the earlier Church. As it worked then, so it works today—all are called to sit at the table to eat and drink and share in His supper and Word. As we are the ones that chosen by Him, let us respond with more prayer, more listening and more being active in His love and grace, thanking Him for what we have heard from Him and have yet to hear.




OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014

Isaiah points out that the Kings surrounding Israel are preparing for war. However, God says to Israel remain firm and all will be well. Be faithful and I will crush the enemies of Israel. 

 

In the Gospel Jesus points out to the towns where he had been ministering that Sodom, Tyre and Sidon—all in the misdeeds—would fare well at judgment and they would not. He says they would have repented had they received his preaching and his might deeds. 

 

We read this today and we are perhaps tempted to look at this Gospel message as a nice bit of historical reporting. But then, we must realize that we have 2000 years of Christian ministry, the Holy Spirit, the presence of Jesus, the very food of life for us. How have we responded?  

 

Is repentance in our way of life? Should we not heed the warnings in this Gospel as well as the towns to whom Jesus is speaking? He certainly speaks to all seasons, to all times, to US. May we be blessed with the grace to see clearly the way, the truth, the life and may with God's help have the courage to take up our cross and follow the way to the Father.

 

Lord, you come to us in word and sacrament, guide us on the path to the truth, let justice be our desire in all things.  Give us clear vision that we may always respond in loving ways in all circumstances.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!   MONDAY, JULY 14, 2014 

Matthew 10:34-42 finds Jesus describing His mission and the coming of the Kingdom in terms of division, not necessarily peace. Perhaps we should think of the sword, which Jesus speaks of, not as a physical weapon, rather a spiritual weapon that is designed to cut through, to the core—designed to expose the corruptions of sinful thoughts, intentions, deeds, lies and deceptions. These are the foes from which Jesus seeks to divide us.  

 

Throughout Scripture, we find references to God’s Word as a sharp, two-edged sword, with which He rules (Ref: Hebrews 4:12 and Revelations 19:15). Ephesians 6:17 also describes God’s word as the “Sword of the Spirit”, which has the power to destroy that which keeps people in bondage to sin – away from Him.  

In looking at the “Sword of the Spirit”, God’s Word, we must understand that Jesus brings this war against spiritual forces that oppose the Kingdom of God and His rule over all.  

 

Let us understand that Jesus came to wage war against anything that turns our minds away from Him! In today’s Gospel reading, it is clear that God must take first place in our hearts, minds, and actions. This call to service, in and of itself, will cause division between those who accept it and those who don’t. That division will be between friends and family alike, because not all will accept His call. Jesus tells us that we are to put no relationship, possession or other earthly desire in front of our relationship with God. The division comes when we shed ourselves of (any of) these things that don’t lead us to Him or cause us to separate from His Will.  

 

Lord, give us the strength to “take up our cross” in the same manner and attitude with which you so did, especially when required to deny ourselves of “things of this world” which separate us from You. Give us the “Sword of the Spirit”, with which to be armed as “Christian Soldiers”, waging war against anything that separates us from you. Finally, give us the courage, in that battle, to lift You up as the ultimate example in all we say, pray and do! Amen. 

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2014 

Today, in Matthew 13:1-23, we hear Jesus share a great parable which helps us understand the importance of understanding and living the Word: seed which falls upon certain ground flourishes better than on others.  Jesus, throughout the Gospels, uses short stories and images from everyday life to show the truths of the Kingdom! Anyone who farms, and perhaps anyone who has even grown small gardens, can and will attest to the importance of good and well-prepared soil for supplying nutrients for seed to grow.  

 

The roots are the manner in which growing seedlings absorb the necessary food and water they need to become healthy, strong, and productive. So it is with the Word of God (related reading:  Jeremiah17:7-8). In order for the seed of God’s word to grow and flourish in each of us we must prepare our soil and make it as rich as possible. Hearing God’s word, but not putting it into practice, makes for the opportunity for sin to “steal away” the good intentions of that word (such as the birds stealing the seed off of the hard, worn path). Or, not fully understanding God’s word and seeking to “dig deeper” into its meaning and desire for our lives, results in temporary or short-lived growth spurts, but when the temptations and allure of the human condition take over, the short-lived growth dies out, just as the hot sun burns out new growth in the rocky terrain.  

 

If we don’t truly turn our hearts, minds, and actions to Him, the worries of the trials we face daily overtake our desire to seek Him, just as the thorns of the thicket choke out good growth underneath it!  In order to prepare our “soil” to be rich enough to absorb and grow in the Word, Jesus has one simple command:  Listen!  

 

Lord, Open my ears to the sound of Your voice (and my eyes to your goodness) so that I may more fully understand Your Will for my life.  May I use this understanding to daily prepare the soil of my being to richly reap the harvest of Your Eternal Salvation! 

Paul B 



OFFER IT UP!   SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2014 

Today, in both Old and New Testament Readings (Isaiah 6:1-8 and Matthew 10:24-33) we see the theme of (healthy) “fear of the Lord” as our strength. We might ask, “What does fear have to do with the Kingdom of God?” 

 

Fear is powerful. It is something that can lead us to panic and pandemonium or it can spur us into action! Fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing your life—your salvation!  

 

Just what is this Godly fear? It is a reverence and respect for He that is greater than us—Who made us and who sustains us in His mercy and kindness. The greatest loss we can experience is not physical, but spiritual! We must not lose our souls to the power of evil—the lure of evil. The Word of God and the Worship of God, with healthy and reverent fear leads us to a spiritual maturity that will free us from the sinful pride of the human condition. We must trust in God’s grace and mercy enough to obey His Word.  

 

Our readings over the past few days have made it clear that as His disciples we must expect the same treatment that humanity gave Christ as He carried His Cross—His burden—so willingly and lovingly. The question that comes to bear is: do I trust in God, Who gives strength and perseverance to withstand the persecution and ridicule of those who will tear down that which they do not (yet) understand?  

 

Lord, allow me to share in the joy and privilege of Your discipleship. Be my strength and courage to bear all that will come my way as I stand serving You. May I be a reverent, fearful, and true witness, through all of my life’s joys, trials, and sojourns, to the Good News of Your Kingdom: peace, joy, and righteousness.  Humble me before You and before men! Amen. 

Paul B



OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014

In Matthew 10:16-22 Jesus cautions that, as followers of Christ, His disciples will face trial and tribulation in their service to and of Him. He makes it clear that the depths of our love for God will be evident in how willing we are to make sacrifices for salvation – not just for our own salvation but the salvation of others through our example and service to Him. He advises wariness – be cunning as snakes, yet innocent as doves - because in our service, we will be ridiculed, persecuted (and prosecuted), and questioned in our motives. Finally, He tells us that we have all that we need in the Holy Spirit, who will guide our actions and words – giving us all we need to say, do, and stand up for God’s call.


As we read Matthew 10:16-22, we realize this is not the message we prefer to hear, especially in today’s society of quick solutions, easy and instant gratification. Nonetheless, we must truly understand and seek the privilege of serving and following in the footsteps of Jesus, who willingly laid down His life to bring salvation. Jesus’ mission, for our salvation, was never “sugar-coated”, therefore He does not hesitate to tell us what we might expect in truly choosing to follow Him. 


Lord, how willing am I to accept Your call? Help me to humbly, patiently and joyfully accept service in Your name, knowing full well that there will be hardships, adversity and persecution. May I have courage and faith to step forward, knowing that what guides me in the last step, the current step and in the next step is Your Spirit. It is only in knowing that You are God of all- Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – the Alpha and the Omega–the Beginning, the Duration and the En –that my faith is in full and my salvation imminent because of Your great sacrifice for me and for all! Give me strength of heart, mind, and soul to never shrink back from Your Will! Amen..

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 10, 2014 

Love. 

Today we are again given through the words of the prophet the assurance that God loves us.

Today perhaps each of us can sit and listen in wonder to what Hosea is saying. We can sit in wonder at what Jesus has revealed through His life, death and RESURRECTION.

 

All of us have an experience of love; love of a mother and father, love of a friend, maybe even love of spouse. And if we were asked individually to put words to what love is, no matter how unconditional we may feel the experience of human love, it would seem as a pittance compared to God's love for each one of us.

 

This is the love we are called to deflect to one another. Jesus revealed the Father to us, and now we are to reveal the Father to others. What others? Those near to us, those who share life and breath with us. Those who perhaps annoy us as well as those we enjoy association.

 

Jesus, You prayed that we may be one, and to be one would mean we are caught up in love. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we would see the image of God in one another. You told the Apostle Paul Your grace was sufficient for Him. I believe this is true for all who open their hearts and minds to You, desiring to be obedient to the Father. Be my strength Lord, my JOY.

Deacon

 


OFFER IT UP!   WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 2014 

Matthew 10:1-7 finds Jesus commissioning the twelve Apostles to proclaim the Good News of Salvation! Here, by name, He summons the twelve and gives them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and cure every disease and illness. Who is this Who can give such authority?  

 

By our own professed belief as Christians He is: Jesus, the Son of God! Jesus, God become man! Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth! From this point on, we will find Jesus teaching and feeding His disciples so that he can build them up and provide the strength they need to feed His people with His word. In turn, the Apostles will feed others who, in turn, will grow strong enough to feed still others.  What a “perfect system” God has designed.  

 

This “feeder system” is intended to perpetuate itself so that His word spreads (suggested reading: Acts 6:1-7). God, through the gift of His Word, calls each of us to lead others to the Kingdom in this same manner! To do this, we need to focus our lives on Jesus and the message of the Gospels–of the Word. We must ask ourselves, “What is my main focus each day and throughout each day?” Am I spending enough time with my Lord, in His Word?  Reflecting on His word? 

 

Lord, give me the grace to be a beacon of light. You, in Your Wisdom, give us all that we need, if we but choose You! You sent Your Son to be our example and, knowing our weaknesses, You give us the strength of the Spirit to dwell within us and guide us, if we simply “be still and KNOW that You are God” (Psalm 46:10).  May I see, grasp, and act on Your Great Commission of me!

Paul B

 


OFFER IT UP!   TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2014 

The Church offers us each day a glimpse into the revelation of God in Jesus, as we share the Word of God. Today we listen to Hosea and the Psalmist both reminding us to beware of false idols. For the people of antiquity, idols were created of stone and metal, dumb things that could not speak, hear or see because they were created by men from the materials given by the Creator. Not to be judged harshly by us, our forefathers were restlessly seeking the God who had given them life and sustained it with His creation.

  

The incarnation reveals brings God's revelation to fullness in the person of Jesus. And as the Gospel unfolds, we observe the difficulty some had in believing in Jesus despite His example, despite the wonder of the signs He displayed in the miraculous healings. In today’s Gospel we see the religious authority’s skepticism, saying that He does these things by the power of Beelzebub.

 

As we listen and ponder the Word today, where do we stand in our walk with Christ? He is with us today along with the promise of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church. And the Holy Eucharist—our strength for all circumstances— is always with us. Yet each day we are assailed by events that signal evil spirits are seeking destruction of God's Kingdom. Will we heed the words of Jesus in today's Gospel and put on the armor of light and goodness to be laborers in the vineyard, to protect and build-up the Kingdom of God?

 

You are chosen! We respond to God who has chosen us, not that we have chosen Him. Let us all get to work! 

Deacon


OFFER IT UP!    MONDAY, JULY 7, 2014
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPS!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY C.L.!

We take up today's readings from Hosea, the Psalmist and Matthew and allow our thoughts to create images to help us understand the wonder of God's revelation. 

 

In Hosea we here the Lord speaking wonderfully of the Love he bears for mankind. Imagine God wanting to marry us. I will allure her, espouse her. Let the wonder of God's message from the prophet Hosea wash over you. We respond with the psalmist our praise of the Lord will be day after day and forever.

 

In the Gospel we meet Jesus the healer. Do you need healing? Are you willing to admit you need healing? The woman with the hemorrhage knew, and if only she could touch the tassel of Jesus cloak. The official knew and knelt before Jesus begging for healing for his daughter.

 

Yet in all this there were those who ridiculed would not believe, would not admit that they also perhaps needed healing. Where am I in all this as I sit and quietly ponder God's word? I allow the whole scene to absorb my mind, my imagining and I realize I must turn to Jesus and plead for healing. Healing that will fill my being with that sanctifying grace and lead me into the way of holiness.

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!    SUNDAY, JULY 6, 2014

Today, we hear from Jesus, that His yoke is easy and His burden light, in Matthew 11:25-30. This simple analogy, makes it pretty darn clear: “Come to Me.  You must shoulder my yoke. I will give you rest”.  

 

Each part of this command provides simple clarity. “Come to Me”. This is clearly a call to us that we must respond to His Word, to His Call. Just prior to these words, He gives thanks and Blessings to the Almighty Father–recognizing Him as Father and God–His Father, Our God, Our Father! It is from this Divine authority that Jesus calls each of us. 

 

The second part, “Shoulder my Yoke” implies (rightly so) the work that we are called to do. Jesus does not say it will be easy. Oxen are beasts of burden and the yoke is intended to make the heavy hauling less of a burden. Jesus uses this analogy of the times to make it clear to us that we are to lay ourselves and the frustrations of our human condition down in front of Him and allow Him to guide us with the “yoke of salvation”–His Yoke, His strength, His labor, with us, will lighten any load. By accepting work WITH Him we are called, by His words, to be humble and gentle – compassionate in our ways as He is in His.  

 

Finally, we find our ultimate rest in His goodness. Nothing is better after a long day of labor than to rest and relax. We find our eternal rest, from the fruits of our labor, in Jesus. It is only through Him that this eternal rest will come.  

 

Lord, give me the simple and pure faith to accept Your Yoke as my own. Give me the strength to be humble and gentle in accepting your call to labor toward the eternal harvest. May my restful reward be earned through sowing Your Word in thought and deed.

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    SATURDAY, JULY 5, 2014

Queen Irene

 

I was born into a royal family

The likes of which have never been seen

Our castle is the house on the corner

And it’s run by the most beautiful Queen

 

She had so many grandchildren

The J-Team and Happiness Club

She made sure we all knew we were special

And deserving of God’s mercy and love.

 

Our pictures displayed in the hallway

She’d titled it her ‘Great Wall of Fame’ 

To show off her princes and princesses

And brag to all those who came.

 

She loved to have us sleep over

Kids sleeping on floors, couches and beds.

And she’d slip presents under our pillows

Sneaking them quietly under our heads.

 

Homemade donuts were always for breakfast

The flavors: brown, white and pink.

After that we’d all get ready for mass

Sharing two toilets, two baths and two sinks.

 

We’d be rewarded for remembering the sermon

With a crisp dollar bill and a grin

We’d use that dollar to “share” with our neighbor

While hoping to get the big win.

 

Then it was up to the treehouse

Or across to the famous Bindel Park

We’d swing and we’d climb and play football

Making sure to be back before dark.

 

By then it was game time for our parents

While us kids played our games up front

Moms, Dads, and the Queen played canasta

The young ones consumed with Duck Hunt.

 

After the weekend was over

Our parents would take us back home

And we’d fall asleep holding our pillows

A ministry of the Queen’s own.

 

She’d surely made over one thousand

Reminders of something so true

One side saying that you love Jesus

The other stating Jesus loves you.

 

…But now the castle is empty

And Queen Irene’s got the greatest reward

For we know she’s gone on to Heaven

Walking, talking and praising the Lord.

 

                                                            klb




OFFER IT UP!    FRIDAY, JULY, 4, 2014
HAPPY  INDEPENDENCE DAY  U S A !

Members Only! 

This is a phrase of exclusion that we see often in our society—at exclusive restaurants, country clubs, smoking clubs, fraternities, sororities, and other “so-called” society clubs. Today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 9:9-13, is a clear reminder that Jesus’ love – and ultimately Heaven’s Eternal Salvation - is not for “members only”, in which a few are selected on attributes which some have and others don’t.  Rather, it is “open membership” for all of us.  

 

Yes, and we get to personally choose membership or not! That is the difference between the members only clubs of our human condition, in which economic status, gender, party affiliation, or some other material or baseless means of separation prevents entry: WE get to choose! Jesus calls Matthew with two simple words, “Follow Me.” 

 

Like Matthew, Jesus calls us. In that call, we can surrender to Him, no matter our background, and our lives will be transformed. Remember, Jesus called Matthew to be his follower, not because he was religious and learned or popular…or saintly. Matthew, like most of the other Apostles, appeared to be none of these especially to the religious leaders of the day. So, we must ask ourselves, “What does Jesus see in me that makes me worthy to accept His call?” God searches for hearts that yearn for Him. 

 

Lord, allow me to hear the words “Follow Me” and (like Matthew), give me the strength and courage to ACT upon that call in showing compassion and mercy to others, so as to be more like You!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!    THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

Throughout the year, the Church has designated feasts to some of the great saints and inspirations of faith. There was a time when children born to Christian parents were named by designating a saint’s name, often a patron saint. We know those names: Joseph, Anthony, James, David, Dominic, Peter, Andrew, and on and on over the centuries. And today, we are I believe, in need of retelling and remembering and imitating the virtues of these stalwarts of the faith.

 

Today the Scripture readings are sharp in reminding us of the wonder of who we are. Beginning with Paul to the Ephesians, clearly directing us to our lineage. We are not wanderers in the mist, rather we are members of the Household of God, a Church community formed by Christ and a dwelling place for God. The awesomeness of these words can escape us if all we do is read them and not reflect on the profundity of what Paul is declaring. We should be shouting it from the rooftops, at every opportunity we have to share with others the wonder of God's glory in the Risen Christ.

 

"My Lord and My God!”  Today let these words linger in your mind, whisper them often in quiet moments and relish being present in your imagination as Thomas gasps them out in Jesus’ presence in that locked room with the other Apostles. 

 

Be awed with Him as you gaze on the Risen Christ, and let the fullness of the Resurrection absorb your whole being. Rejoice at what the Lord has accomplished. Death has been conquered, sin has won for us a Redeemer. Let the wonder of all this usher you into a new and deeper understanding in faith. Let the light of life enter and continue the transformation begun when in the waters of baptism you became a child of God.


Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.

 

Deacon




OFFER IT UP!     WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2014

Lord Jesus, unbind me in heart, mind, and soul, that I may love you fully and walk in the freedom of Your ways. May there be nothing which keeps me from the love, holiness, and joy of living in Your glorious presence! 

 

After reading in the Gospel of Matthew, this morning (Matthew 8:28-34), I was struck by two things: 1) the power of God to expel evil; and, 2) the submission of evil to that power. Luke and Mark, in their accounts of the same expelling of the demons (ch. 8 and 5 respectively), describe the demonic possession as “Legion”. 

 

In terms of fighting forces, I believe “legion” is a term used to describe an army 6,000 strong. This, especially in biblical terms, was a huge and powerful force and often known for great atrocities against the people they conquered. Yet, we see in this Gospel account, this “legion” imploring the Son of God to have pity on them. 

 

God’s Word, through these accounts, reminds us that there is NO destructive force that can keep anyone from God’s peace and safety. This brings to bear, to fulfillment if you will, the words of Psalm 91:7-16, in which God’s praises and power are proclaimed – though thousands fall about you, evil will not overtake you because You have made the Lord your refuge. Jesus had great pity upon these men whom had been overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. How willing and ready is He to free us from anything that prevents us from fully sharing in His love, peace, and grace? This begs the question, “How willing are we to part with anything that keeps us from His Salvation?” 

 

Lord, give me strength to search my heart with full sincerity and submit to Your Divine Authority to free us from the evil influences and sin of temptation of our human condition! May I live under the constant knowledge that no destructive force can drive me away from Your love and protection if I but honestly seek You!

Paul B




OFFER IT UP!      TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2014

In Memory of Irene E. Bindel

October 30, 1923-June 30, 2014


God broke the mold when He made Queen Irene. 

Not only did she talk the talk, but she walked the walk. 

"She was a radiant reflection of God's light and unconditional love. What a legacy she has left for her family, friends, and all of those who knew and loved her."

SEBF