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AFRAIDNOT

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

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Offer It Up May 31st


Romans 12: 18-21

If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

For personal growth really to take place, real change has to take place. And that change for growth comes from within. As you may have heard or read somewhere before, it’s not the circumstances that need altering first, but ourselves. It is then the conditions will naturally follow.

So many of us have been living our lives on auto-pilot or sleepwalking through them, either in full or part time modes. We may even use the mode as a method of ‘getting through’ or ‘just existing’. When we decide to turn off the switch or we wake up from the sleep, we find that what we have for a life is not exactly what we bargained for, hence the reason we do what we do. Questions about what we are doing for our livelihood, questions about our relationships, our families and even our faith—the focus is outward instead in.

It’s as if sometimes we look for ways to keep the focus away from ourselves so we don’t have to deal with things. (There’s a shocker.) A little here, a little there. A bit more pain here and a bit more anxiety there and before you know it, the heap is too big to ignore. Stacked and strewn about and full of the stench of garbage. Stuff nobody should have to live with or even around. But yet we choose to do so. Oh yeah, we have free will as a gift. So we can do with it as we please, right?

That is right. So give yourself permission then to let it go. Get rid of it. Reconcile. At least start to forgive and forget—with yourself and with others.


Offer It Up May 30th


John 21:20-25

Jesus and the Beloved Disciple

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Peter, come here, I want you to do some things for me.

Well, what about him, how come he doesn’t have to go?

That’s right, what about him? I’m taking care of your plans now. I will take care of his plans later, with him.

Most likely, the conversation was not as direct as that. Yet somehow, Peter got the message loud and clear that Jesus had his plans for him and that whatever it was that John had to do, Jesus would take care of in His own time. And how often in our own lives have we put ourselves in similar positions when we see family or friends move on in their lives—or we move on in ours—and have a few questions about how things will turn out? Kind of like Peter had?

However our paths have been set, He has set them so that we may choose to follow Him. Through our actions and our prayer, we are called to serve others through Him. We have been blessed with the gifts and His grace; with humble hearts, we give Him thanks for His guidance. With courage, discipline, obedience and trust, we can be the messengers, the disciples, the bearers of The Word.

Like Peter, John, and so many other disciples, we just have to learn to leave it Jesus’ hands.


Offer It Up May 29th


John 21:16-19

"Do you love me?" and he said to him,
"Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

On the night before Jesus died, Peter denied Jesus three times.

Now Jesus leads him to declare his love three times. It’s not that Peter needed to atone for his denial, or that he loved Jesus more than the other disciples did, or that Peter was being commissioned for a particular assignment and assigned a particular martyrdom. More than any of these, Jesus wanted to emphasize the one thing that really matters: “Follow me” (John 21:19). Peter needed to stop comparing himself to others and fix his eyes on Jesus. He needed to stop fishing for fish and get back to fishing for people. And so do we.

Follow Jesus. Today. Follow where he’s leading you as best you can understand it today. Maybe tomorrow you’ll understand more, and better. God directed St. Francis of Assisi to “build my church,” and Francis started out by laying bricks—not very expertly, either. Over time, though, he learned what God really wanted. The important thing was that he started and was willing to be taught.

Follow Jesus. It’s that simple. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows everything else, too. Leave the divine orchestration to him. He doesn’t call you to impossible tasks. He has been fitting you to serve him your whole life long. The ability you were born with; the talents you have developed; the experiences you have had; the gifts he has bestowed on you through his Holy Spirit—he harmonizes all of them so that you can give him glory.

Follow Jesus. Focus on what he says to you. Write it down, and read it often. Ask the Lord questions, and seek deeper understanding. Keep your eyes on his words to you, not on questions of who loves or serves him better or who has a better position and calling. Remember: God has given you the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you. Welcome the Spirit into whatever you are doing today, and you will bear abundant fruit.

Of course you will make mistakes or mistake God’s meaning. It’s not a calamity! The Holy Spirit will gently redirect you in the way you should go. Just trust God, and follow Jesus.

“Jesus, I believe you love me and have good things planned for me. Help me to hear your voice and follow you today.” www.wau.org/meditations


Offer It Up May 28th


James 1:5-6

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.

The man had never been in a blacksmith shop.

He had happened upon it on a business trip and was on his way back home when he saw one and stopped. As he entered, the blacksmith gave him a friendly nod but kept busy hammering away.

The man walked about and his eye caught something red—a red horseshoe. He had seen plenty of horseshoes before but never a red one. He walked over toward the bench and curiously reached to pick it up—only to let it drop too fast as he found out just how hot red horseshoes were.

From behind him, he heard the blacksmith say with a bit of grin in his voice, “Was that horseshoe hot?”

“No,” he replied. “Just doesn’t take me long to look at a red horseshoe.”

As the saying goes that there are a lot of things in life that you learn, you learn with experience—good or bad as they might be. Growing up, we may have heard more than once, ‘Don’t touch that, it’s hot.’ Yet, instead of listening to someone who knows better, the someone who has experienced what ‘hot’ is, we have to find out firsthand just how ‘hot’ the iron is.

The more we live, the more we learn from finding out how hot the horseshoe was. And it’s those lessons learned that build who we are and the values that we have. We learn where to continue and where to draw the line. We find out what is good for us and what is not. We find our gifts and talents and where we could us a bit more ‘experience.’ We are truly defining ourselves through our experiences.

And that is the beauty of experience. The more we learn, the more we have. Just like our faith, the more we have, the more we want. The more we find out we don’t know, hence the more we want to know. And with that faith, we also find out that we hold on more to our values and they become more deeply rooted because of the faith experiences we’ve had, good or bad. For as good or bad as they might have been or are now, God was, is and always will be.


Offer It Up May 27th


1 Peter 5:6-11

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.

To him be dominion forever. Amen.

After a while, when all else seems to be empty and promise-less, we find ourselves looking for that panacea that will bring about the change or wonder or fullness we’ve been lacking or to fill the cup with whatever we were searching for. As we make our way around the next corner, next job, next relationship, the next latest and greatest thing just never shows up.

What the heck is going on? Or some vernacular similar to that comes across our minds or lips.

Regardless of what we do or say, we get nada. Persistence and perseverance being key, we press on and still we get goose eggs. It really is as if there is some sort of aura or cloud about that hangs over us that prevents any overt goodness from coming our way.

Then something happens—a midnight wake-up call, a layoff, a breakup, (some bad things) or some decent things could happen just as easily—you get a raise, a clean bill of health from your check up, or a blast from the past brings you closer to where you want to be. It might take one or more or a combination of the above or something like them to ‘clear the mechanism’ so to speak, to open one’s heart and mind and body to hear and feel the guidance from the Holy Spirit.

We begin to realize the importance of prayer and how anything we do can be done in prayer or even as prayer as long as we do it with faith in Him.

Sometimes and a lot of times, our steps are large ones in faith. Peter had doubts too and he ceded control of his livelihood to Jesus—his boat—and then his life. Look at how he turned out… not too bad, even with denying his Savior three times.

Let your faith in God lead you. With the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the trust and deepening faith and prayer life, the panacea you thought was just around the corner won’t be so important anymore. The Holy Spirit will provide the energy, direction and freedom while you supply the faith, trust and prayer. db


Offer It Up May 26th


2 Corinthians 5:17-20

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

We’ve all been there and we will all be there again—a time in our lives when we have to ‘become new again’. For many of us, yours truly included, it is an everyday sort of deal. Some days more so than others… a lot more so than others.

And the beauty of it all? God does welcome us back each and every time.

As tired as we get. As painful as life can be. As much as we want to give up and let our faith fall out and our trust rust away, His voice can still be heard to say

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’Matthew 11:28

It is an everyday choice to make to live our lives for Him. A conscious decision to put our hearts on the line to choose to do His Will and His Way. And He will help us do so-it is not something we have to do on our own, as much as we think we can or would like to think we can anyway. All we have to do is surrender, trust and ask. And keep doing it. And share it.

Practice may not perfect but it will make permanent. db

Hebrews 4:16

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.


OfferItUpMay25th

May God Bless Those Who Gave Their Lives for Our Freedom

This Memorial Day and Everyday


John 15:12-16

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

Our pastor was telling a group of us the other day about someone he had seen and how they were suffering with the recurrence of cancer. This particular person had begun treatment for the cancer the second time after years of remission. The prognosis wasn’t good, the treatments were not going well and the overall disposition… well you might imagine how one might feel.

The patient, as well as a number of friends and family members, were at odds with their faith and with God. They were wondering why it was that after all this time of being free from it, that the disease and pain would come back. Their thoughts and prayers were centered on ‘why now?’, ‘why here?’, ‘why me?’.

For all the prayers that had been prayed and for all the times they felt he had heard no response, he told the pastor he finally heard God say clearly plainly—and often—‘Why not?’

‘Why not?’ I heard myself say out loud. Wow. I don’t know if I could say that and mean it even if I did. But if I really did think about it, in any instance of suffering or trial or tribulation, why not me? And if any of us were to put ourselves in a situation we see daily—the hassles we have to endure—why not us?

Our life here on earth is not for this world. And living for others is what God wants us to do. For us to do so is living in His Way and in His Light. What we go through along that Way will be worth it for sure though not necessarily easy. That is His promise.

John 15:7

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you


Offer It Up May 24th


Psalms 27:4-9

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the days of my life, To gaze on the LORD'S beauty, to visit his temple.

For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble, Will conceal me in the cover of his tent; and set me high upon a rock.

Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side! I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.

Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.

"Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; your face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!

Does God hide from us? The Psalmist felt so. In Psalm 27:7-9, we hear the plea: “Do not hide your face from me.” If God hides from us, how do we set about finding him? We do not find God by running hither and thither. We must return to our own heart, for God dwells in us, St John tells us. If we love, God dwells in us. We will, then, find God in a civilization of love, in a world enlightened by faith.

If we return frequently to our own heart through prayer, we will find there many longings and desires. We will hear God’s voice prompting us: “My heart has prompted me to seek your face.” Let us yield to our heart's promptings and continue to seek God’s face. Perhaps God hides from us. Perhaps, we have not sought Him where He is to be sought. Perhaps we have not assiduously sought as we ought to seek: in love, in faith, and in hope. May our search for God bring us to deeper faith and bring about a civilization of love.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. May all my being, all my heart, forever bless God’s holy name.

Adapted from the Jesuits of Singapore-Shalom


Offer It Up May 23rd


Mark 16:15

Go into the world and declare the gospel to every creature.

A critical moment in a relay race is the passing of the baton from one runner to another. More races are won or lost at that moment than any other. The feast of the Ascension might be compared to that moment in a relay race.

On it, Jesus passed on to us the "baton of responsibility" to preach the gospel to every creature." He entrusted to us responsibility to complete the work he began. Practically, that means we help the needy, forgive enemies, persevere when we want to quit.
At these moments we either take the baton from the hand of Jesus, fumble it, or drop it completely.

Practically, how well am I preaching the gospel in my everyday life?
Staying Great

Without love and compassion for others, our own apparent love for Christ is fiction. Thomas Merton


Offer It Up May 22nd


Another day is here and another day to put our plans to the test and go out with our ambitions, striving toward our goals and reaching for success—or not.

How about just mailing it in today and calling it good?

Nope, can’t do that, as much as we would like to some days.

Are you one of those that feel or think that God looks more favorably on the winners than he does the losers? Or does He look on those with less more favorably than He does those that have a bunch? After all, He did say, those that are last will be first and those that are first will be last, right?

I gotta feel that God looks on us all the same, regardless of our achievements or failures. What it comes back to is how we look at ourselves and ultimately, how we let go of ourselves and let God have His way with us. Letting go of ourselves includes letting go of our past sins and failures—read here: forgiveness of self—as well as living life as well as we can in spite of our successes. Yes, I said in spite of our successes because, like failures and sins, success does not last forever. Through not only our success but our suffering as well, do we grow more like our Savior.

Life will have its bumps and bruises and its gashes and gouges. It will also have its angels and its miracles and its blessings. Everyday. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, we can learn to be content with what we have… knowing what it is to have little and what it is to have plenty. db

Philippians 4:10-14NRSV

I rejoice—in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it.Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.


Offer It Up May 21st


Ephesians 4:1-13

Brothers and sisters, I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.

And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

What are you doing? No, I mean what are you doing?

What am I doing? You mean, what am I doing here?

On the surface and without too much thought or concern, the first question(s) is/are innocuous enough. It has been one that has been asked by and of me too many times—embarrassingly too many. Either in the context of when I am getting into trouble or doing something I shouldn’t be doing (more trouble possibly), or something even more relevant: what am I doing with my life?

Might be that you have asked the question of others or even yourself. And you may have a standard answer ready in the event that it does come your way. Sometimes I am ready with an answer and sometimes not. Relative to what I am doing of course. Lately I am not getting into too much trouble, thankfully, and I have been pretty much on what seems like God’s planned course… at least for today.

That is all we have, really. Today.

And to live it “in a manner worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1) is a way we can show our gratitude toward Him for all He has given us. We do know what skills and talents we have yet it might be that we may not know for sure our calling. So we move forward and pray for the two to come together. Until such time that they do, we strive to live in God’s grace and humble ways, growing more in our faith and more like Jesus himself, realizing the fullness of His love for us. The more we realize that, we’ll find that whatever it is we are doing takes on a whole new meaning. db


Offer It Up May 20th


Psalms 141:1-5

LORD, I call to you; come quickly to help me; listen to my plea when I call.

Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice. Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, a gatekeeper at my lips.

Do not let my heart incline to evil, or yield to any sin. I will never feast upon the fine food of evildoers.

Let the just strike me; that is kindness; let them rebuke me; that is oil for my head. All this I shall not refuse, but will pray despite these trials.

How many times have you looked up from whatever it was that you were doing and saw someone and said something along the lines of ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’? If you have done it recently, or at all, you may have been having a not so spectacular sort of day to begin with, recognizing that things could be worse than what you were currently going through.

Or maybe not. You may have been riding your high horse and were being dealt a bit of real world humility, just to let you know that there are those that may not have it all ‘knowed up’ like you and that if you aren’t careful—and thankful—the high riding life may soon come to an end.

Life takes all kinds of events and people to make happen. How we contribute to it is what God has planned for us. Notice that last line, especially the ‘God has planned’ part, and dwell on it for a bit.

...

...

...

Okay, you should be through dwelling.

He does have our lives planned and has had them ready for us, long before we were here. What makes us think that we can change them… or Him? We have the blessings of our lives from God our Father. We have the blessings of the gift of free will. We have the promise of Eternal life with Him by choosing to live our lives according to His plan for us.

So what is that plan? I don’t know so much about tomorrow or down the road. So today is all I have and all I can handle anyway. Living it in a way that reflects my faith in word and deed is what I set out to do.

And that is enough to know. db


Offer It Up May 19th


Make a Difference with Your Faith

Everyday we are in the middle of our own evangelical parade, albeit a one-man/woman show from time to time. From one example to the next, we are pretty much living, breathing, walking and talking witnesses of what it is we are supposed to believe. And when we are actually in that parade, that spotlight, everything we do is scrutinized to the degree beyond infinity... if that were possible.

Granted it is not always an easy task or journey to trek. Or even comfortable. But how easy or comfortable was it for the Apostles? They didn't even have cable or satellite around and they still got hammered-some even literally-for every thing they did contrary to what was popular. But what was popular was not always right. And what was right, was not always popular... just as it is today.

What it takes to be that difference maker with our faith will take just what it took for the Apostles: prayer, courage, trust, and patience. By living with these as our standards, along with the practice of all we understand in the Good News, it will be hard for anyone to question what you value as you live your faith. And make a difference. Even if it isn't popular, you know it's right. db

Romans 8:14-17

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.


Offer It Up May 18th


What is Faith?

There are four things necessary to come by before intellectual knowledge becomes faith: hearing the truth, convicting the truth, repentance of contradicting the truth and full acceptance of it, and finally, acting upon the truth we have heard, are convicted by and have fully accepted.

How you respond to the "The Truth" can define how you understand your faith.

Faith is not just knowing what God says, If you think that is what faith is, you are deceiving yourself about your faith.

Faith without doing what God wants us to do is only believism; it is not Biblical faith. That is what James is talking about in 2:14-26:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.

Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.

Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Knowing truth, without 'doing' that truth, is dead faith. Recognition of that truth can be our salvation, and is our salvation. Trusting completely in His love and saving grace will lead us to that truth. adapted from the Catholic Reader


Offer It Up May 17th


Psalm 25:4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.

A GPS system (TomTom, Garmins, etc...) have changed the way we get from somewhere familiar to an unfamiliar place. Using the signals from multiple satellites, the GPS receiver (in your car or on your phone) can compute our location anywhere in the world. It can take us on a cross-country trip, a house or business you have never been to before, or boaters can even use it to get back to the loading dock. In a very real sense, it is "guidance from above."

However it is only as much help to us as we allow it to be. What if we looked at the map from the GPS and said, "This isn't right - I can't possibly be where this says I am"? What good would it be to us if we turned it off. put it in our console, and headed out on our own, thinking, "I know I'm going east, even if this thing says I'm going south"?

Ironically, God's guidance through the Bible benefits us only when we trust His Word and obey it. God's word is only as much help to us as we allow it to be. "The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies" (Psalm 25:9-10).

Guidance from above is promised to all who will accept God's Word and follow His directions.

This week, why not make a 100% promise to open the Bible and read His words - His directions.

It is by His directions that we will ultimately be taken where we REALLY want to, or need to, be. submitted by sbf


Offer It Up May 16th


John 10:22-30
The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
The Father and I are one."

In this reading from John’s Gospel, we see Jesus being confronted by the leaders in Israel at the feast of the Dedication. Not so different from us when we are in our own struggles with life… ‘Tell us who you are and give us some sign that will prove what you say.’

Our world is distracting. There is so much wonderful stuff, so many accomplishments by very talented and gifted persons, that we fail too often to acknowledge the Giver of all good gifts. What is the Lord Jesus telling us today about eternal life? What are the circumstances in our life that can point to His presence and revealing love?

John in his first letter reminds us that we are children of God NOW. What we shall be one day... remains to be discovered but we do know that we shall be like HIM for we shall see Him as he is.

God is love and he who abides in God abides in love.

Father! Abba! Hear the cries of my heart and soul and fulfill my longing for you.

Grant dear Lord that I may always be aware of your presence. Each breath of life is your gift may I always hear the rhythm of gratitude in the beating of my heart. Bless all those whose lives are entwined with mine. May we always see in one another the wonder of You.

Deacon


Offer It Up May 15th


John 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

The Prince and the statue
A
handsome prince had a crooked back that kept him from being the kind of prince he wanted to be.
One day the king had a sculptor make a statue of the prince--without the crooked back--and placed it in the prince's garden.
When the prince saw it, he meditated on it and desired to be like it. Soon people began to say, "Have you noticed? The prince's back is growing straighter."
When the prince heard this, he began to spend hours meditating on
the statue. Then one day the prince stood as straight as the statue.

That story is a parable of you and me. We, too, were born to be a princess or a prince, but a defect kept us from being what we were meant to be. We realize our shortcomings and our sins, we say we’re not worthy… yet God still loves us beyond all our comprehension. And to show us, He sent His Son Jesus to show us how we can become what we were meant to be.

Study, reflect, think about, talk to someone about where you would be in this parable. Put yourself in each role of the king and the prince… and the people.

Ask yourself what do the following stand for in the parable: the prince's crooked back, the statue, studying the statue? Out of all of the parable, what are you hearing being said to you?

                        We are all from the vine and the branches need pruning. Withthe Father's love, wefindthat we may bear fruit-grow straighter-by staying inHis love and believing in Him. It will take some pruning-a crooked back-yet withprayer and support, we remain in Him and He in us. db

                        adapted from Spiritualexercises of St. Ignatius        


Offer It Up May 14th


Matthew 8, 23-27

23 He got into a boat and his disciples followed him.

24 Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep.

25 They came and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

26 He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

27 The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?"

As I get ready for the changes coming to me on the sea of life as I get ready to leave the Air Force, I have to wonder if I am like the disciples in the boat. Am I getting stressed out by the sea of change, letting myself be thrown around by the waves of worry, feeling beat up by the winds of change? Like the disciples, I am becoming overwhelmed by all the many different things going on at this time and cry out, “Lord, save me! I am perishing!” I need the reminder from God telling me “You of little faith”. God provides the support I need though the actions of others around me and in prayer. I have to relearn to let him have control and guide me in his calling for my life.

How many times do we forget that our Father above is there to help us? All we need to do is wake him up with our prayer life, studying his word, and asking others to pray with us. As the disciples had each other after Christ ascended into Heaven do we not have the Saints, our Christian community, and our families? When we put our lives in Christ’s hands the seas seem to have a great calm; when we try to do things on our own, stress provides the wind for violent storms. By offering it up to our Lord, we give Him the opportunity to change our problem into a stone that has been thrown into our sea of life, causing no more than a gentle ripple or small calming wave. J. Mosley


Offer It Up May 13th


We’ve all gone to them: the one-day, one and done, wonder workshops for our jobs or professions, have we not? And from those workshops, we sometimes take away tidbits, if not goldmines, of information that can jumpstart us into greater productivity, sales, management or whatever it is that was prescribed as the panacea when we first signed up and gave them our hard earned cash or credit card.

We get back to the office and we start dropping the latest learned buzz words in our conversations and people see that there is a bit of pep in our step as we move from one cubicle to the next, espousing the latest and greatest “it” since sliced bread and slip on shoes. And so it goes with the new jargon: it used to be that a group worked on a project and if it succeeded, great. If not, they went back to work to fix it. Now, since we’ve been “one-and-done workshopped”, you can “put a project to bed” and do a bit of “blamestorming” for its failure because no one could ever “wrap their arms around” it as they were “moving forward” “thinking the unthinkable”.

Every week we get a shot at a different sort of a one-day workshop, if you will. And its core presentation doesn’t last nearly as long as what you have to go through at those other all-day events. Just over an hour in most cases. If you show up a little earlier, you can do a bit of one-on-one networking too. During the presentation, it’s even a hands-on type of thing where you can be—and are—involved. As with any type of workshop though, there is the listening factor; you have to pay attention to get out of it what you really need to get out of it. And like all good workshops, you can hang around after it’s over and you can visit personally with the Presenter.

The thing about this ‘workshop’ is that is runs every week, every Sunday, and sometimes Saturdays. With options to attend early in the morning or later toward noon or after. Unless you do the Saturday presentation then you get to go the evening matinee route. And if you want to talk about buzz words, listen to the ones you will pick up: these will be the original thoughts if there ever were any. Words like faith, praise, peace… love, honor, truth, confidence. Even more like surrender, humble, Messiah, Redeemer, God.

If you’ve been attending your ‘workshop’, more power to you that you continue to grow in His faith and His will for you. (You could be one of ‘those’ types running around the office as if you had not a care in the world… because you don’t; God has it under control.)

If you have already started to look, do well to find yourself in your Church at mass, at your worship, where your ‘workshop’ is.

If you haven’t yet started, it's not too late—it’s never, ever, ever too late for God. db


Offer It Up May 12th


(Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a)

Jesus defies many of our hopes when he promises us his peace. We think of peace as the absence of conflict – a respite in the constant struggle to make ends meet or to please those around us. For our brand of peace we may take a cruise or find an apartment miles away from the helter-skelter of work.

But Jesus indicates in the gospel that peace is a condition of psychology not geography. As he is about to undergo the worse of human upheavals in the crucifixion and yet is undisturbed because of his relationship with the Father so he urges us not to worry about the predicament in which we find ourselves. Rather, we are to be confident of his love which conquers any and all of the troubles that the world slings at us. For sure, it is a tall order, but we have the assurance of his resurrection to show us that our trust is warranted.

As offered by Fr. Carmen Mele, O.P., hisHomilette for Tuesday, May 12, 2009, the Fifth Week of Easter. Fr. Carmen has allowed us to reprint his homilettes upon occasion. You can read his daily homilettes at http://www.cbmdominicanpreacher.blogspot.com/


Offer It Up May 11th


1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

Sounds like to me what is being said here is something along the lines of walking the talk

Sure, we can all put up the words of love and kindness and friendship and support. But when it comes to putting them into practice, just how consistent are with the words we use compared with the actions that should go with them? Oh yeah, practice what ye preach.

As disciples, we are all supposed to be ‘living sermons’ as well as spreading the Good News through our words and speech. Are we perfect? Nope. Things we have known as Gospel for many years we sometimes let slip through our hands. Things we have just grown in our hearts through our daily saving grace we sometimes forget one day to the next. But does that condemn us even though we cannot seem to get through a day—a morning, heck even an hour it seems—without some sort of misdeed or evident lack of faith?

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

As disciples, as believers, as Christians, it is our confidence and our persistence and our perseverance that keeps us doing the right thing, or at least wanting to. Even at those times when we know what is the right thing to do and what would be the wrong thing to do but… we don’t do the right thing. Paul didn’t get it right, right away either. He bumped his head a few times, literally and figuratively before there were those that believed him. The more he ‘lived what he spoke’ the more people believed him and trusted him.

The many ways of love include putting the good of others before the good of ourselves. As we step forward in our own journey, let’s put that way of love into practice in deed and truth. db


Offer It Up May 10th


Here I am.

How many times do we hear God calling us?

The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am." 1Samuel 3:3-5

Some of us it takes several times to hear his voice.

The LORD called Samuel again, for the thirtime. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:8-10

But once we learn to hear God calling us, we are able to deliver his message. Samuel went on to serve the Lord and do great things.

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect. 1 Samuel 3:19

He came to understand his role in serving others in Israel. Eli was told that his punishment for failing to correct his sons was about to come to pass. Eli also understood that it had to be.

Each of us needs to hear God’s voice. You never know when, where, or how
He will call you.

May the peace of Christ be with you.
J K Mosley


Offer It Up May 9th Happy Birthday Joe W. B.!


Peace, Be Still

Matthew 8: 23-27

He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?"

Who is this man?

This is a really great meditation you can do with Scripture.

Get comfortable for a moment. Sit in a chair or on the floor and relax, close your eyes and put yourself in the presence of God. Quietly, pray for Him to be with you as you imagine this Sit erect, with you feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes, relax, and put yourself in God's presence. When you feel ready, open your eyes and imagine the following:

You are living at the time of Jesus. One evening, you walk down to the Sea of Galilee. As you approach it, you see Peter and several disciples sitting on the dock talking and watching the sunset. They invite you to join them. Pause for about 10 seconds

In a while, Jesus walks up to the dock and says: "Let's go to the other side of the lake." Peter invites you to go along. Jesus smiles and you know you are welcome. Pause another 10 seconds

As the boat reaches the center of the lake, you look around and see Jesus in the back asleep. There's something about the way he looks. You can hardly take your eyes off him. Pause for 10 seconds

Without warning, a fierce storm blows up. The waves get so big that the boat is in danger of sinking. The disciples call out, "Save us, Lord!" Save us! You too, are among the desperate, calling for the Lord’s help. Pause for 10 more seconds

Jesus wakes up. He looks around. Then he says. "Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?" Then he gets up slowly and shouts, "Be still!"

Instantly—the wind and the waves grow quiet. Pause for at least 10 seconds

Even though you have known through what you have read, you think to yourself, "What kind of a man is this? He has power even over the wind and the waves. Who is he? Who is he?" Pause 10 seconds

"Suddenly you feel something touch your shoulder. You turn. It's Jesus. He smiles and says, "It was no accident that you came down to the lake this evening." Pause 10 seconds with Him


Now for the next few minutes, just rest there wondering why Jesus put his hand on your shoulder and said what he did?                             

(adapted from staygreat.com)

What is going on in your life that He would come to you and do that?

Does there have to be something ‘going on’ or ‘happening’ in our lives for Jesus to say “Follow me” or “We need to talk about something”?

He will use whatever means necessary to get the message to us that there is something He needs to relate to us, be it another person, a storm, or a walk on a pier. We have to be open to hear or see that He is relating to us. And we can better do that through prayer.


Offer It Up May 8th Happy Birthday Mary B.!


Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days' work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with?

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor, in fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence - an 8-foot fence-so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped.

There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge-a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, hand rails and all! and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. "You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after allI've said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.

"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to build." as submitted by M. Martini

What bridges do you have to build today? Who will you meet on it when you do?

Life is too short to be putting up fences when there's Good News to be shared.


Offer It Up May 7th


Left, right. Left, right. One foot in front of the other. It should be so easy, right?

Some days just don’t go that way, no matter what you do or pray. It seems that for all your efforts to ‘be the difference’ or to be an ‘advocate of change’, nothing really changed but your disposition. As a matter of fact, any of the change you may have brought about seemed to have caused more trouble and heartache than what you would have had if you had just left things alone. So much for that idea, huh?

To repeat some lyrics from a Rich Mullins song, ‘there’s bound to come some trouble to your life’. And the trouble you may have will not limit itself to a single day—though you might be thinking at the time, how much more could there be? With all the positive-speak, self-talk, psycho-babble help one can find on any book shelf or magazine rack or, even closer and a bit handier for some, the world wide web, it would be easy to turn to these things then that are readily available to help us through the hassles, right?

Slow down, don’t get caught speeding on this one. Remember this: I.N.A.M.—It’s Not About Me.

No matter the effort, no matter the success or lack of it, at the end of the day. all we can do is all we can do. Provided that all we can do is what God has willed for us to do, not what we want to do for ourselves. Although it isn’t about me, or you, it is about what God has planned for us, troubles, mistakes, successes and everyday life included. His Son lived a life so much like that, so to ask us to do the same—to be more Christ-like—is more of an invitation to share in His love and glory.


Offer It Up May 6th


Cooperation. Discipline. Composition. All components of one’s deepening faith as they discover His grace through trust and surrender. For sure there are more but to start, take these three.

One has to cooperate with God’s Will when it is what He wants us to do, not what we feel the need or desire to do on a whim.

It will take discipline to follow the commandments, to follow God’s Way when it seems all the world has other views running contrary to yours.

It will take composition, in community and in faith, to hold on to what is believed and held as right and true, even if one person is lost, the whole of the community—it’s composition—prays for and seeks the lost.

God will work His will and way through those that He chooses as His instruments. In our pride, though, we sometimes act as if we had more to do with it than what He did… really now, how inane is that? Through cooperation—our common benefit—we realize it will all be for the good when we do things His way. Through discipline, we ‘practice, practice, practice’ and then practice some more. The adage of ‘practice may not make perfect but it will make permanent’ would be good to remember. And with composition, with our church family and home family, we gather the support to live in His Word with others as there is strength in numbers.

As believers, as Christians, as Catholics, regardless of the depths of our faith, it remains our charge to be witnesses to The Word. We do that however it is we can, but most expressly by living it in an active, growing, visible faith, one full of love and hope, prayer and charity, and discipleship.


Offer It Up May 5th

The Internet? Is that still around? Who needs it?...uh, we do.


As it happens from time to time, technology gets the best of us. It certainly got the best of us here these past few days at afraidnot. For the sake of brevity, we had no local access to the web. For those that visit us daily, we apologize and will bring our pages up to date. For our first time visitors, we apologize to you too and thank you for visiting us and ask that you please 'stay tuned' to see what all we have to offer.

We have had a day or two to think about what we do with our time... we encourage you to take a about ten minutes, if not more, and see what more you can do with yours.

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.

- Author Unknown


Offer It Up May 4th


In the Second reading on Good Shepherd Sunday, from 1 John Chapter 2, we heard John say that we are God's Children NOW. A heady reminder of the wonders of the life we received at baptism.

Most of us can look back at our journey through life and realize now what we did not realize then what had taken place on that day of baptism. Most likely we were too young to hear the words, “you are now a child of God,” and for far too many of us, well, we didn't hear the message clearly as we lived on.

God for me has showered blessings, shouted at me, forgiven me repeatedly in my sinfulness, sought after me in all the wrong paths I have taken in life to lead me back toward the light. Still I falter and too often fail to be fully aware of His call, His love, His guidance. The symbol of being Sheep readily applies and I find I need the Good Shepherd who constantly searches me out.

But we reflect on John reminding us that we are God's children now. Dear to Him beyond our understanding. And, John adds, we do not know what we will be, but we will see Him as He is and that is beyond our most fantastic imaginings. How that should spur us on to putting on Christ!

John Paul II was known for telling especially the youth, Be not Afraid. Put Christ at the center of your life. Live courageously as His disciple. Follow Him. It becomes clearer for me, that to follow Christ, I must love Him. It is truly a need to learn to love, he who loves obeys and lives in His light.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness and Kindness, Trust, gentleness... may the fruits of the Spirit be evident in all our living.

Deacon


Offer It Up May 3rd


Acts 8:4-6

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Thus Philip went down to (the) city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.

In Acts 8:1-8, we are present at the burial of the first Martyr, St Stephen. Then Luke recounts how from tragedy comes God's action. The disciples are scattered after Stephen's martyrdom, but immediately this is an occasion to rise up and proclaim the Good News. Jesus is alive, and sits at the right hand of God!

Here we are now called to continue the mission: the mission of bringing the Kingdom to our World. In John 6:35-40, a Gospel for today and every day, Jesus makes this quite clear that this is the will of God.

In the stillness of our moments of prayer, when we enter into God's presence and as much as possible empty ourselves of distracting emotions, concerns, anything, ideas, we can open ourselves to awareness of what God is calling us to do, to be.

First, to accept the present moment and that we are with God. To get in touch with our own gifts, talents, abilities, and realize what God is calling us to in the circumstances of life, God's will. Jesus is clear in John’s Gospel. Read and reflect on that. Knowing God's will means first of all, truly desiring do God's will. But how do we discover God's will? I have never experienced or known anyone who experienced objectively God's will in the sense of knowing beyond doubt that God directed them to do such and such. (Well, there was Jesus.)

Rather we have desires, gifts, talents that can be used to live for the Greater Glory of God. We know in faith that God loves us, He is love. His will for us can be seen in our developing our gifts and abilities and following the example of the Lord Jesus.

Our desires can be a guide if they are the fruit of love and directed toward serving God and others. Sometimes we can get caught in our own needs and wants and selfish attitudes and behavior take over and we sometimes attribute what we want to be God's will. What current responsibilities are ours and how do we patiently and perseveringly meet them?

In our sincere and honest prayer time we learn humility, we keep deepening our awareness of who is creator and who is creature. Then we strive to love as Christ loves... beginning with our closest neighbor and ourselves.

Pray today for needed grace for today.

In Christ, Deacon

John 6:39-40

And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it (on) the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day."


Offer It Up May 2nd


JOHN 15:15-17

I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.

How many times has something happened in our lives and we instantly want or need a friend to confide in? How many times have we thought to talk to our friend, God, first and foremost? We all know that in the bad times it’s easy to look to God for support and guidance. But how often do we ask for God’s wisdom, support and guidance in our everyday lives? He is always there just waiting for us to ask. He is at our beck and call 24/7. In John’s gospel, He tells us that He chose us. That means that He who created the world and could choose anybody, decided to choose us. He wants to be our friend, our confidant. Will we allow Him to be that friend? rg/lb/gm


Offer It Up May 1st


While reading from Acts, we are present at the burial of the first Martyr, St Stephen. Then Luke recounts how from tragedy comes God's action. The disciples are scattered after Stephen's martyrdom, but immediately this is an occasion to rise up and proclaim the Good News. Jesus is alive, and sits at the right hand of God. Here we are now called to continue the mission. The mission of bringing the Kingdom to our World. Today's Gospel… Jesus is quite clear as to the will of God.

In the stillness of our moments of prayer, when we enter into God's presence and as much as possible empty ourselves of distracting emotions, concerns, anything, ideas, we can open ourselves to awareness of what God is calling us to do, to be.

First, to accept the present moment and that we are with God. To get in touch with our own gifts, talents, abilities, and realize what God is calling us to in the circumstances of life.

God's will. Jesus is clear in today's Gospel. Read and reflect on that.

Knowing God's will means first of all, truly desiring do God's will. But how do we discover God's will. I have never experienced or known anyone who experienced objectively God's will in the sense of knowing beyond doubt that God directed them to do such and such. Maybe Jesus.

Rather we have desires, gifts, talents that can be used to live for the Greater Glory of God. We know in faith that God loves us, He is love. His will for us can be seen in our developing our gifts and abilities and following the example of the Lord Jesus.

Our desires can be a guide if they are the fruit of love and directed toward serving God and others. Sometimes we can get caught in our own needs and wants and selfish attitudes and behavior take over and we sometimes attribute what we want to be God's will.

What current responsibilities are ours and how do we patiently and perseveringly meet them? In our sincere and honest prayer time we learn humility, we keep deepening our awareness of who is creator and who is creature. Then we strive to love as Christ loves...beginning with our closest neighbor and ourselves.

Pray today for needed grace for today.

In Christ, Deacon Roland