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Mother’s Day Message

4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)

With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.

Introduction of Mother Mary

26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.

Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God.  Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.

Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree.  How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David.  God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.

26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).

The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God.  In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!

33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.  He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).

Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG). 

The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;

38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG). 

 Mary’s Love For Jesus and God

21  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE) 

Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love.  She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.

Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!

Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure.  The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

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Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Peace Left by Jesus

27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to never be able to find peace in their lives? Have you ever wondered why they are always sower towards others, nothing is ever fair or just in their eyes, and they seem to enjoy this self-inflicted agony? I’ve known people like this. I’ve seen how they imitate happiness but it never lasts for long. Things that have happened in their lives are never their fault because it’s easier to blame others. Responsibility for their own actions is a foreign idea and never seems to apply to them. So why the misery, why the drama, why do they run so far and fast from peace?

Self-Worth vs. God’s Peace

11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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To understand this behavior we first must understand why the human race ignores God’s ministry of Peace. At this point, it would be all too easy to say that we are all sinners. Yes, that is part of it, but not the whole picture. Rather we must dig deeper and look for that character flaw that some people exploit more so than others called self-worth. It works like this, many people have lived hard lives, as children they are subjected to crappie things that are at the first outside of their control. The craziness of their lives become addicting, much like a drug. The older they get the more they are told how worthless they are until they begin to believe it. At some point, they begin to expect the bad in life, and they chose to ignore the good. This becomes a routine of bad choices that cascade one after another. Now logically speaking they know they should strive for peace in their life, but they are their own worst enemy as the choices they make repeals peace. These broken people believe that they do not deserve to be happy as every attempt fails. So they ignore that singular voice within their hearts and run away not feeling good enough to receive God’s peace. They run and hide because the cannot believe that God has a plan for them that includes happiness and peace here on Earth. They cannot believe that God wants to take control!  But I say to you my brothers and sisters who are broken, God wants to instill his plan into your heart and take all the bad and turn it into good which glories His love for you!

Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”

Every time I read this I feel at peace. Why? Because I believe with all my heart and soul that God’s peace is everlasting. I believe blindly in the idea that Jesus really said that.  I believe that Jesus is real and loved us so much that he would die to give us a chance at receiving that everlasting peace.

So, why can people like me believe and other people just can’t quite make that leap of faith? Because they believe they do not deserve God’s love, because they expect nothing but the bad in life. The difference is I do not expect to be saved rather I hope to be saved according to God’s word. Whereas, the broken person dwells in the expectation that bad is all they can hope for, which leaves them without hope of salvation. Thus, if you give in to hopelessness then you in truth shackle your life to this world and to the expectations of a life mired in sin! You give up on the hope God has for you, the salvation he won for you, and the everlasting peace he left in your care.

Conversion

19 “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,” ~ Acts 3:19 (NABRE)

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Again, logically speaking the only way out of this hopelessness is to be converted! This means you must die to your sins and be reborn in the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ! Scary sounding… right? Well to the nonbeliever it is the scariest thing they will ever do. Ok, so how do you convert someone who is broken?  Believe me, when I say it’s easier said than done, but it begins with being the example in every aspect of your life, teaching that God’s grace can be found in everything be it in the good or bad things of this world. Yes, being the example by living your faith, practicing what you preach, do what you say, believe with all your heart, mind, and soul in the words and promises of God. To be a witness to others who need help in believing, who need you to be their a road map to faith, and a guide to those broken down and beaten by this world who expect nothing but bad and show them kindness, love, and mercy. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight, rather it takes time for people to hear, then reacts to God’s call. But know God is calling and He is using you to make that connection!

There is hope, there is love, there is mercy, and there is peace in this world. But the peace we all should strive for is the peace of salvation in the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

My brothers and sisters, if you enjoyed this message today then I invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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The Great Surrender

5 ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

The will of God is not a mystery as some would have you believe.  God is not far away on vacation, nor is His blind eye turned to us.  Rather the very opposite! God is with us, He is all around us, He is in your heart and from time to time God makes His will known whether we want to hear it or not.  The Bible is filled with dysfunctional people who God has saved but their walk to salvation did not truly start until they handed all their troubles and surrendered it to God.  I call this, “The Great Surrender”, because in every facet of your life God is present and has a plan for you that if you listen close enough you can hear Him guiding you step by step.  It’s not an easy thing to give over all facets of your life to God, it’s not a simple thing to trust in what we cannot see, in fact for most people this great surrendering is like hitting the bottom rung on the latter of life, you have only one way to go and that is up.  In this desperation people often times experience a panic, a depression, and go through a crisis that marks their journey and often times results in a complete self confession where everything is revealed, where all that we thought we knew and believed was wrong.  This confession generally follows a release and an out pouring of emotion that allows God to show you things you would otherwise not able to see.  I know this because I went through this exact surrendering process.  My “Great Surrender”, came in a time when I was emotionally led astray by the one person whom I had given everything up for and that was my ex-wife.  It came to me the realization that I had put all my hopes and dreams into a person who didn’t or could not return this out pour of love and in the process I had inadvertently alienated myself from those in my life who loved me the most.  I did so because I want to make my marriage work and I wanted to be a father to my only child who I loved with all my heart and soul; and who I still do.  I knew if I did not move away from my parents and family I would never see my daughter and she would never know who I was.  In that moment I opened my heart and cried out to God, I begged for relief or a reprieve something to end this pain and suffering that I felt in my heart and that is when I heard God speak to me.  The most interesting thing is that it wasn’t like I had never prayed before, nor was it that I had never heard God before, but this time I heard His voice so loudly that it shook me to my core and in that experience I instantly saw my error, my failings, misconceptions, and what shook me the most is how wrong I was in everything I had done for my sins sat in the seat next to me in the truck as I drove all I owned from Missouri to California in the summer of 1995.

Walking With God

17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

To walk with God is the most honest walk you will ever have for as long as you live.  From the moment you accept God into your life you begin the process that will lead you to, “The Great Surrender”.  Each step is like a small act of trust you hand over to God and each time a hardship happens your heart is moved closer to the solution.  As your conversation with God increases your mind and belief system is changed to see what before was invisible and a world of possibilities comes into view.  God’s will slowly becomes your only real concern as your life is transformed.  It is this which I call, “Becoming New”, as the actions you would have taken before are made straight and are different from the actions you take now.  God is the constant which moves your heart as life experiences leave questions that bring you back to God time after time. Becoming new in Christ is a belief which is the absolute power a person can actually see grow incrementally over time.  In my own life experience I have seen many years where Satan challenged my ever decision and God was always standing right beside me helping me, guiding me, and consoling me. There were many years I was left alone with my own thoughts and time after time God was talking to me through my pain and heartache the world seemed to always lay at my front door step.  When I say this, it sounds crazy, but God has never let me down and He is the only constant in my life. Though I am not perfect I have the confidence to know that God is there helping me through the troubled times I face constantly molding me into a better version of me!  God wants to do this for every human being on earth both past and present. For He is the only constant in the universe.

Amen

If you enjoyed “The Will of God”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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 Special Note

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 As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.

Support the Boy’s & Girl’s Tech Team Click Here for more details and to show your support.

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Matthew 14:11-20

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. ~ Matthew 14:13-14.

THE CROWD

God see’s what we need. He see’s not just the physical but also the spiritual needs of every human being. In this God cares for use through grace, and it is this grace we call compassion do we the human race find true healing. The crowd followed Jesus not out of curiosity, but through the hunger they felt deep inside. The spirit within them needed to be feed. This crowd Jesus took compassion upon and healed the sick, but through their faith in him so too was their soul also mended. If you read the scripture just before Matthew 13 you will discover that Jesus had been told about His cousin John being beheaded. It was this which made Jesus seek seclusion. But even in this state of mind of grief Jesus was very much aware of the multitude and of their many needs. It was not His grief which took center stage but it was the needs of the living. Our God loves us so much He puts all other things aside and tends to us filling our heart, mind, and soul with the spiritual food we crave. For our God is truly a loving and compassionate God, one of grace and compassion.

15 “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’” Matthew 14:15

MAN’S COMPASSION

In this we see the compassion of man for the disciples of Christ noticed only one need, that of the flesh. For the people had by this point been following Jesus for some time, they had not gone home to eat, to take a bath, to tend to their flocks nor had they brought provisions. For the disciples, food took center stage in their compassionate plea to Jesus. But again as mentioned before God see’s all of our needs. So Jesus argued against not sending the multitude home for food, but rather argued to keep them close to tend to all their needs personally.

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” ~ Matthew 14:16.

GOD’S COMPASSION

Let’s take a moment and break this statement down as the disciples must have. There were hundreds of people of all ages. They were all in the wilderness nowhere close to any immediate food source and night was upon them. So to the disciples the question of feeding the multitude became one of,  “how”, shifting from their first concern of, “where”. For in this one statement by Jesus the responsibility then shifted from allowing the people to feed themselves to the disciples feeding them just as God feeds us.  Their confusion and misgivings, or lack of faith in both Jesus and in themselves prevented them from seeing this miracle which was to unfold and replaced it with blindness making it impossible for them to comply and is seen most readily within the comments they make next to Jesus,

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.~Matthew 14:17

BEGINNING OF THE MIRACLE

Here we see two concerns happening, the first is the amount of food, which is to be the disciples dinner. Secondly, the amount of food was not enough so logically it made no sense to keep the multitude with them.  Therefore, what must have struck the disciples the hardest was if they give what they have away then how or what were they going to eat. This disbelief of the disciples is the failing of every human being as we all tend to see the facts and discount the possibility of things we do not or cannot see in those facts. This then leads to lack of faith in God and His ability to see past the facts and pull forth the impossible. This also leads us to forget the love God holds for us, his caring nature, and his want in taking caring of all our needs. These two things lead us to falter and stumble even when we have seen His love in action before as the disciples had. The power which gripped the disciples in this moment was rooted in their inaction to believe in what they could not see, it was their refusal to look beyond the physical or to admit that they could feed thousands with so little food and this instead lead them to question if it could work even with the Son of God present, for this is called the power of doubt.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. ~ Matthew 14:18-19.

OUR GOD…

In all things our God is one of order, He is one who takes great care to account for each instant perfectly calling out each detail of our lives, deeds, misgivings, loves, worries, and triumphs. Our God is one of prayer, giving thanks for what you have for it was so delivered to us by God. Our God is one that provides everything that we need, in every instant that we live for all things belong to God. Our God is one that calls us forward to be His helper, teaching us what we need to know in every facet of our complicated lives. The lesson we see here is that God can do anything for His people, He can move mountains, build empires, create planets, and die a brutal death to cleanse us our sins, for there is nothing our God can not do. In giving the disciples the responsibility of feeding the multitude He teaches them how it is possible within the right frame of mind, heart, and soul to connect to our loving father in heaven who feeds us making the impossible possible.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful of broken pieces that were left over.21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. ~ Matthew 14:20.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

The miracle was in the belief that so many could be feed with so little food, with the prayer of thanksgiving, and with the compassion of God. For the Lord left no one out as everyone was feed and within this so too did the servants of Christ find that the love of God even extends to those who doubt such as they had. Our God leaves no one out from his gift giving as he keeps everyone in his sights like a good Shepard. Our God is fair and unchanging in his love that he gives to everyone of us. He calls each one of us to Him by name and within this He again knows what we individually need and so He cares for us the same. He leads us not astray but rather holds us close to Him and shelters us from evil and forgives us our sins in the same manner.

Amen

If you enjoyed “Feeding the Multitude”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Email: listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

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____________________________________________________

 Special Note

_______________________________________

 As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.

Support the Boy’s & Girl’s Tech Team

 Click Here for more details and to show your support.

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28 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” ~ John 5:28-29

Have you ever looked at your child and truly have no clue what they’re thinking? Have you ever looked at a co-worker and thought, “This person has totally lost their mind!” Have you ever wondered what makes people do the things that they do? In today’s special blog posting I wanted to put forward an idea that is not new but rather very straightforward and more logical than we would like to admit. That simple idea is that none of us have any clue of what’s going to happen in our future or what happens after we die. And that idea scares the hell out of everyone of us! Sin is such a major part of our lives and we hear almost on a daily basis from so called men and women of faith which sins will get us condemned forever. I was thinking not to long ago how thinking about sin is equal to walking in a mind field, take the wrong step and bam you are gone forever! Shortly after I had that thought I heard on the radio ministers talking about after life, and how some people have had “life after death” experiences then wrote about them, only to later admit after selling thousands of books and making hundreds of thousands of dollars that they made it all up. In that I know those authors may have been influenced by money but even still is money worth risking your immortal soul? “What are they thinking if death is not the end of life?” John tells us very plainly that those of us who have lived good honest lives even though dead will come to life once more to God and eternal happiness, but those who have done evil will come back to a life of judgement. If this is true then we must also assume logically speaking that when we die we are dead, or asleep as Jesus puts it, and only until we are all called do we live again at some future date. For the critics why believe in this crazy idea of judgement or even life after death or salvation of the soul anyway? I mean doesn’t that make a person live under a gloomy cloud always knowing that sin is real but is the punish also real? Death in a way is a punishment for sin isn’t it? Or is death just a natural process of life as scientists like to tell us? What should we believe in this age of technology and modern day miracles anyway? What I would like to assert on these points is history. We should believe in the resurrection of Christ as an example of our own impending resurrection, because John himself faced death for his faith in the risen Christ by being boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. But yet through his faith was he delivered, only to later be sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. It was here that John has visions of what life was like after death, and what the ultimate judgments of sin where within the Book of Revelations. Being set free John then became the Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. John was the only apostle saved from martyrdom. John was once a fisherman catching fish, and was transformed into a fisher of men! I use John as the example because it was John who told us what to expect after we die and he got his information directly from our Lord Jesus Christ who was risen on the third day.

28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” ~ Matthew 10:28

“Because the Bible says so doesn’t make it real!” How often have you heard this? I would be rich if I received a penny every time someone said this to me. The idea that John would be willing to die for his faith in Christ allows me to make that jump in faith that indeed there is life after death and because I tried all my life to do good, I will be resurrected to life and not judgement. But, I can not prove it true and that very fact is what faith is all about. Matthew’s testimony is also very appealing because it assures us that no man no matter how powerful or cruel can not take away or kill our life force, or our immortal soul. The cloud of impending gloom and doom of judgement should be lifted with this assurance, because again Matthew, like John got his information directly from the risen Christ Jesus. Matthew also goes one step further however and gives a purpose of there being a Hell, which is to destroy both resurrected body and soul. I think what also makes these scriptures relevant in our age of technology is that no matter how smart we get as a species we will never unlock all the mysteries of God. Thus, I would argue in the light of this truth it is easy to understand why all the disciples of Christ never once denounced their faith in Jesus even when it was obviously leading them to martyrdom. In fact they all did exactly what Jesus had also done years before. Faith was the core to their strength and unity and it was based on truth because a lie about the resurrection would eventually fall apart and be discounted, yet the truth has span two thousand years and is still a matter of faith for millions.

13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” ~

I tell you now my brothers and sisters that the time has not come and we have a sliver within the eternal calendar of God to get our lives right before God. We who are alive have a responsibility to build the best model of faith for our young, to be the greatest generation leaving behind a better place than what we found it. We are called to leave behind the negative attitudes of our ancestors, walk away from their petty differences and prejudices and instead live as one race with God and rejoice in His splendor for He is our creator and our Lord of Lords, King of Kings. We do these things without doubt as we have all the teachings before us to have ample faith in God, and it is assured over and over that live does not end after death, but what I and you shall find I will admit I do not know, but yet I still believe and so should you. Never again wonder about what others do, think, or feel as there is a reason that is a mystery kept from us as God Himself has kept some things as a mystery known only to Him.

Amen,

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9 “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” ~ Zachariah 9:9

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When I think of Jesus Christ as King it sets a warm loving fire to my imagination for God’s mercy is endless and that is something of a wonder in my heart, mind, and soul. In that I wonder what life for Jesus was really like? I often ask myself the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to travel back into time to have seen Jesus, to have witnessed His birth, Baptismal, His anointment by Mary, His Ministry… especially when He picked the twelve disciples, His temptations by Satan.’ The moments that matter most in most Christian’s hearts is celebrated with as much religious ferber now as it was then, and that is Holy Week; the seven days preceding his crucifixion and resurrection. I feel closest to God in this time frame as do most Christians because it is here we begin to see Jesus rule over His people, sacrifice everything for His people, and ultimately demonstrate God’s perfect love for His people, all of His people which in this context is everyone alive then to now and that will ever live in sin; for His love saved all of us with His blood. We celebrate Jesus’s arrive into Jerusalem as a victory, a triumph, and His ride into the Holy City marks the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Many scholars argue about the meaning of the colt, donkey, or foal. They try and find purpose behind the acts of Christ by the connections they can make to the gospel. But it is not what Jesus rode or whether or not it was really palm branches that was used to herald His arrival, but the fact our King came in the first place and that He loved us so much that He was willing to enter into the city that He knew was ultimately going to judge then put Him to death for crimes He did not commit. In this way we can begin to see life as Jesus saw it, experience His last week on earth as a mortal man, the Son of God.

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” ~ Matthew 21:10-11

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To have seen Jesus riding into Jerusalem first hand must have been something, or at least for those who where in the know of what was happening. The fact is most people during this period of time were clueless to the real event that was going on because they where blinded by what they thought was happening. To explain this further I have to add that in life we all see events one way when they are happening to us, then see them completely different many years later. But rarely do we ever see the underpinning facts of the event which caused it to happen in the first place in the moment, and if we could see the “WHY” that is driving the event we could have the chance, (the choice), to do something completely different. Again, few people in this period of time understood what was really happening as they could plainly see the “WHY” of Jesus, His mission and ministry, they saw first hand within the moment His ultimate goal and stood by Him until His arrest. Jesus on several occasions revealed this secret to His disciples, and all but one rebuked the idea and questioned the “Why” of His death. They say it was love they felt for Him that made them not want to see Him killed. But Jesus saw this in a completely different way. Judas Iscariot understood it and put the plan into action, as he was the only one strong enough to do so.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:33

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To write this in this fashion is controversial to say the least, but what drives me to this conclusion is found in the many different texts that had been buried, forgotten, that in their own time was outlawed and destroyed. For in the traditional Bible we have but a sliver of the true history of the events we celebrate. Therefore, we see with clouded eyes, we believe in traditions that come from completely different origins, and we collectively call it Christianity. In part I think that is what drives the truth seekers within the various faiths and sciences to conduct such magnificent research to find the truth in our Biblical history. This journey of seeking, documenting, and exploring is one that even the Catholic Church is involved in today. It is not wrong to try and peace together the truth of Christ, but it is wrong to celebrate and declare that we know things that in reality we truly do not know. In faith we believe that Jesus is the messiah, the King of Heaven and of Earth, but until we find factual evidence will truly know. In this we all are like Thomas who needed to put his finger in the side of Christ, touch his hands and see the wounds. Thomas is every man living today and it is this need to see before we believe that makes our faith stronger and more relevant. I say to you all never ask ‘Who is this?” but rather, ‘I know him who came and saved me.’ For truly God did send His son, and His blood needs no proof, His love needs not the “Thomas Factor” nor does His authority over all of His children need to be proven. It is good to know the facts, but it is better to celebrate the man, savior, son of God who came. Seek first the Kingdom of God that is rooted deep into your hearts, and reserve your questions until you meet Him face to face.

Amen

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Listening Faithfully Blog 2014 Post

18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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In past posts I have talked about Thanksgiving in the historical sense, explored the religious meaning, and I have delved into both sides of the human drama, (that being of the Native Americans and the English Pilgrims),  from a moral view.  But this year I wanted to write about what it means in a more detailed manner from the general view of family.

The very word, “Family”,  is the root that brought about the fight for freedom both here on Earth and in Heaven. In a broad sense God uses “family” as the template of every social group known to man. In every way we learn and grow from the bounty of our families. But this interaction is not exclusive to humanity rather almost every other bioligal life form that we know of on this planet thrives through lessons learned which both develop and mold such things as character, morality, compassion, survival, and even the idea of justice at some basic level. In the animal kingdom there is social order and hierarchical structures that are put in place to teach and which promotes the survival of the group or family. So in this broad sense family is the root of survival. But what does this hypothesis have to do with Thanksgiving, a man made tradition turned Federal Holiday? Well for this I share a deep secret found throughout the Christian Bible.

God is called the father! What is a father? In olden days a father was the head of the house, the disciplinarian, provider, protector, leader, mentor, teacher, and general supporter of all family activities. The same is true for Priests who are also called father for the same reasons but within a religious context.  Thus, it is from the father our families find a foundation and in this we see God as the head of every family both secular and religious. This structure within our families is from the divine and is pre-programmed into us from the start. In our celebration of family we are celebrating our very nature which we share with the animal kingdom under God. Because we are all related we are told by God to give thanks for the many blessings we receive from the father that which is in heaven from which everything is given. So Thanksgiving is the celebration of both blessings we receive throughout the year and is a celebration of  our families; the survival they provide on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis independent of our religious beliefs.

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In examining Thanksgiving from this perspective I asked my fourth grade students to write seven sentences about what they are thankful for and it is not surprising to me that they overwhelmingly wrote about their families. Few of them wrote about God though I teach in a Private Catholic School. Still fewer mentioned their teachers and the support we give them. Rather the majority was focused on their families love, kindness, sacrifice, and the many things they receive daily from their families. Many of those things are the necessities of life in general. Their paragraphs became evident to me of how we are all programmed by God to need the same things from birth till death. At the core of this need is the family unit!

So this Thanksgiving I celebrate the family in all of its forms be it biological, religious, social, political, economic, traditional and non traditional, friendships, and in a global community of beings sharing the same Earth, the same resources, and sharing the same needs. For it is within God the father’s plan that we celebrate our shared blessings, our shared needs, as well as our differences. Thus, I say to you in Jesus’s name are we to love one another and to jointly celebrate the role our many different types of families provide as it is granted first from God the father who art in heaven.

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Have a joyous Thanksgiving and remember to celebrate all things which are good that God has made.

I also ask that you keep the family and friends of our beloved sister Theresa Marie Mehan, born June 18, 1922 and who went to meet the Our Lord this past November 18, 2014 in your prayers this holiday season. 

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Amen

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