Weekly Blog

GC Squared – Simple, But Not Easy

Have you ever heard the expression, “it’s simple, just not easy”? My experience is that this is true for much of life, including our spiritual life. If you’re like me, you’ve thought about Christianity as being overly complicated, sometimes as overwhelming as other things you encounter. The fact is that it’s very simple, just not always easy.

Jesus Only Gave Us Three Things To Do

Jesus only gave us three things to do, represented in the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Here they are:

Great Commandments
Mark 12:29-31 – Jesus said, “The first is this…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Great Commission
Matthew 29:18-20 – Jesus said to His disciples, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

That’s it. That’s what Jesus told us to do. As you can see, neither are complicated. Not only very specific, but He is direct in His command.

A Church Where It’s Really Worked

Saddleback Church, in Southern California, has a singular focus on what it refers to as “GC Squared”. At this thriving nondenominational Church, everything they do has something to do with the Great Commandments and/or the Great Commission. And if not related to one or the other, they don’t do it. My wife and I have visited there and seen that what they’ve accomplished with their singular focus is amazing. You can read about it in Reverend Rick Warren’s book, “Purpose Driven Church”.

How the World Could Be Different

What would this world be like if all Christians took to heart and really practiced?

  • Love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength
  • Loved your neighbor as yourself
  • Made disciples of all (which means teaching them to make disciples of all)

I’d argue that there wouldn’t be as much poverty in the world. Or hunger. Or shortage of water. There would be far fewer homeless. Everyone would have the clothes they need. Crime would be way down. Domestic abuse would be the rarity. There would be far fewer incarcerated. There would also be far fewer conflicts and wars worldwide.

It’s Unconscionable

Having recently gone on a mission trip to Haiti, it’s unconscionable to me how we allow others to live the way they do in this world. As it turns out, over half of the world’s population lives in the same poverty as those in Haiti. And we don’t have to leave our country to find those distressed, whether it be economically, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

What To Do

It may not be easy, but it’s simple. Have a personal relationship with God and share His love with others. From a practical standpoint, pray to God for Him to put someone on your heart who you can be helping, either an individual you know or through an organization. Then take baby steps…start out doing it once a month and then go from there.

Here’s the irony….you do these things and you’ll experience more peace, joy, and fulfillment than you ever imagined.

Please send me your comments at

God Bless you on your journey!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Why All the Tragedy

So often I’ve heard that the two inevitable things in life are “death and taxes”. I’m here to tell you that there’s a third, that is tragedy. It occurs in numerous forms and skips no one. That being a universal truth, the questions are:

  • Why does tragedy happen?
  • What are we supposed to do with it?

Tragedy Comes in Different Forms

Tragedy can strike as war or terrorism, a natural disaster, or a horrific mass accident. It can be something more personal, like separation or divorce, death of a loved one, a major health issue, addiction, a horrible personal failure, unresolved conflict with a friend or family, loss of property, or a financial crisis. We can’t escape it.

On a large scale, there can be great suffering, destruction, loss of life, and distress. Individually, it brings great sadness, despair, isolation, and even depression. Whether far or near, global or more personal, tragedy exists.

All of us, you and me, can point to a tragedy, either personally or in the lives of those closest to us. I suffered great tragedy in my life, losing my first wife to addiction. A 13-year battle, our kids and I lived through a war. I tell people that if they know addiction that they’d believe the stories we have to tell; if not, they’d think we were lying. They’re that bizarre. The lives we lived during that period of time were absolutely crazy.  

A Turning Point

Tragedy becomes a defining moment in our lives, whether for good or ill. It can be tempting to turn our tragedies and any wounds they may have caused into excuses, preventing us from moving forward, to go after our dreams or to take risks. Instead of learning from them and letting them make us stronger, we can let the scars of our experiences overwhelm us.

I had to learn that tragedy, if we allow it, can be a wake-up call, an invitation to accept the reality of our limitations. The fact is that we can’t control everything. Nor can we stop bad things from happening.

There are a couple expressions that we’ve all heard, that are more true than we possibly know. They are:

  • “What doesn’t destroy us makes us stronger” (and)
  • “God only gives us what He knows we can handle”.

I believe both to be very true. It is in our tragedies, our defeats in life, where our biggest lessons are learned. Part of those lessons learned are from the wounds we endure.

Growing Amidst the Trials

What I’ve come to understand is that we all experience tragedies, defeats, and set-backs…they’re inevitable.  Although never easy to embrace, I’d encourage you to accept and learn from them. It’s my experience that my greatest tragedies have resulted in my greatest opportunities for growth. As such, there’s an element of gratitude for me.

So, to revisit those questions:

  • Why does tragedy happen?
    • To bring us closer to God
    • To help make us better versions of ourselves
  • What are we supposed to do with it?
    • Learn from the experience and be grateful (can be tough….subject of a future blog), knowing how much God loves you
    • Make a ministry out of your misery; take what you’ve endured and learned and help others

The above may be a stretch for you, but I believe it to my core. I’ve lived it. Thank God!!!

Please provide me with your comments at

May God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

What we can control is the way we live our lives, and the way we accept the things that happen to us, the good and the bad.

Weekly Blog

The Most Important Things Our Kids Need To Know

As parents, we love our kids. We have great hopes and dreams for them. It’s our desire that they have better lives than us, that somehow the lessons we’ve learned can help them. We may not always get it right…not showing our love the correct way, nor delivering a message as charitably as we could at times. But deep down, we love them unconditionally, for who they are as our sons and daughters.

Over the course of their first 20 or so years, it’s our job to not only love them, but to prepare them for life. What does that look like? What should they know?

The obvious things are the basic life skills, which are many and include everything from eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep to how to fend for themselves, how to stay safe, spend wisely, and even save money. More complex things are how to choose a profession or a new job, or how to choose friends or a future spouse. There are also things like discipline, generosity, and integrity. The list is obviously much greater than the above. The things they need to know are many.

Having stated the above, what I’ve experienced as the most important things they need to know are:

  • The love of Jesus Christ
  • To be heavily engaged in our faith.

Cross Country Trip – Terrain Analogous to Life

This past week, I had the opportunity to drive from Pittsburgh, PA to San Diego, CA with my son, RJ, where he launches his career in ministry, having just graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville.

The 2,500-mile trip took us 4 days. The first 1,400 miles, over Interstate 70, all the way to Denver, was straight, flat, and green. There were really no bumps or curves, much like we would prefer life to be, which is often not the case.

West of Denver, still on I70, the roads wind and go up and down dramatically. The view is majestic, with the drive at points even being a challenge. Then comes Utah, along both I70 and I15, where the red rocks and mountainous terrain are equally as gorgeous. Like in life, there’s true beauty and important lessons in the peaks and valleys, in the twists and turns.

As nice as the ride was given the scenery, the real joy of the trip was the time spent with my son, talking about everything, including our faith. We covered all the ups and downs, the good and the bad…the life we shared that looked much more like I70 west of Denver as compared to the flat terrain east.

Why Faith is the Most Important Thing

Having both come to be deeply engaged in our faith in the same way, through tragedy, I’ve been blessed to be journeying alongside my son, learning and growing individually and together. We’ve both learned that it’s in knowing the love of Christ that changes everything, that all the answers to life are truly taught by the Church and are in the Bible.

In knowing God’s unconditional love, it’s apparent to both of us that He wants us to be happy. We know that God made each of us (including you) with a specific purpose in mind, with special gifts. We know that nothing happens by accident, that all is part of God’s grand plan. And we both know that our “yes” to the Lord brings us nothing less than great peace, joy, and fulfillment, even in the bad times (there will be bad times).

Although the other things RJ learned over his first 23 years were important, nothing can replace his faith in God as being so life changing. He’s learned that whether good or bad, up or down, he has God to love him and protect him. May God continue to bless my son and all of our children. May they all have the faith in our Lord to truly prosper in life.

Please share your thoughts with me at

May God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment.

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Relationships… The Closer They Are, The More Challenging They Can Be

Relationships Can Be Tough

I don’t know about you, but the closer I am to someone, the more challenging the relationship can be. I’m not talking about the good times. They’re easy for everyone. I’m referring to times of conflict or potential disagreement, where you don’t believe the other person is considering or has made the right decision.

My theory is that we fear the risk of loss. We care for and depend on those closest to us, whether family or friends. We don’t want to hurt them. We don’t want to create disagreement or conflict because we don’t want to lose them. So out of fear of saying something wrong, we don’t say anything, or we don’t convey our true feelings, or what we say comes across the wrong way.

This has certainly been true in my life, whether it be with my brothers, close friends, our kids, and even my wife. If I’m truthful, I’ve not communicated what or how I should many times in my life. Because of expectations that are most often unspoken, things don’t always come out the right way. Because of the closeness, assumptions are made and feelings are easily hurt. There’s a tension that doesn’t exist when folks aren’t so close.

Things are Different When Relationships are More Distant

I’ve been working within organizations for 33 years. Over that period of time, I’ve experienced plenty of issues that require resolution. Ironically, most never really reach the level of conflict, which I attribute to addressing them proactively and professionally.

I often say that if I were the husband and father that I am the business manager and coach, my family would be a lot better off. That statement stems from my approach in those roles and has proved to really help me not only in the work world, but at home. What I’ve learned is:

  1. Don’t assume malice; instead understand that the other person has the best intentions and as such, isn’t trying to hurt you, others, or themselves
  2. Let them know how much you care early in the conversation
  3. Share with them your discomfort with the discussion. Related to this one and #2 above, you might say something like, “I care for you more than you know. I don’t want to hurt you, nor risk losing you. As a result, I’m nervous about the conversation I think we need to have. I really hope I can convey what I’m thinking with you understanding my heart”. Obviously make this your own.
  4. Don’t make assumptions. You wouldn’t with a stranger or coworker. You shouldn’t with someone close to you. You’ve probably heard, “to assume is to make an ass out of you (u) and me”.
  5. You can say anything as long as you say it softly. Although not absolutely true, it is pretty true. Tone is so important. Sharing is always better than telling and way better than scolding. Yelling is obviously unacceptable and unproductive.
  6. Truly listen for understanding. Don’t be so invested in JUST getting your points across, but listen to understand the other person and his/her struggles, objectives, and ideas.
  7. Don’t be overly invested in the outcome. We all have our own lives to live. We need to make decisions for ourselves, while others need to make their own decisions. We can try to charitably influence, but we shouldn’t own the outcome. We can’t be relying on others for our own peace and joy (topics for many future blogs)

Interestingly, at work I see it as my mission to help people solve their own problems. I help by asking questions as opposed to imposing my view, whereas I want to solve the problems of those closest to me. Or more specifically, I want them to solve their problems the way I want them solved. You see the distinction? The problem? The preferred way? I have, which is why I try to follow 1-7 today.

I sincerely hope the above helps you. I know that these things have helped me over the years. Please share your thoughts with me via email at

May God Bless you on your journey to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph