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Weekly Blog

Some Things Are Different Than They Appear

Things are often different than they appear. A friend (Jack) forwarded the following to me as a good example. I liked the point it made, believing it relates to our faith lives. As such, I wanted to pass it along to you. 

During World War II, fighter planes would come back from battle with bullet holes. The Allies found the areas that were most commonly hit by enemy fire. They sought to strengthen the most commonly damaged parts of the planes to reduce the number that were shot down. A mathematician, Abraham Wald, pointed out that there may be another way to look at the data. Perhaps the reason certain areas of the planes weren’t covered in bullet holes was that planes that were shot in those areas did not return. This insight led to the armor being re-enforced on the parts of the plane where there were no bullet holes. 

The author goes on to make the point on the above…the story behind the data is arguably more important than the data itself. Or more precisely, the reason behind why we are missing certain pieces of data may be more meaningful than the data we have.

Think about the above in relation to your life. If you’re like me, you’ve had things happen and not known why. Sometimes we don’t even know how. It’s difficult to connect the dots. What just happened? How? Why? The same can apply to what we’re seeing go on around us, in our country or world. 

A week ago Sunday, we observed the anniversary of 9/11, the day in 2001 that over 3,000 people were killed in the largest terrorist attack in US history on US soil. Given the obvious suffering and tragedy, the question is “why”. 

I have some ideas on why the “why”, given my life experiences, but my real message today is to cling to the Cross. As you’ve read in my blogs, God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. You can add to that…no matter what has ever happened to you. My life is way better with Jesus in it than when not. 

“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead they are more determined to struggle for a better future”. Queen Elizabeth II, who just passed away on September 8th, is quoted as saying that. My cousin (Teri) shared that quote with me, in addition to this from the Queen as well, “It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is more difficult.”

By NASA/Bill Ingalls 

Lots going on in our country and world. It’s difficult to understand or rationalize much of it. In addition, we have challenges in our personal lives. For me, central to life is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. As Jesus says in Matthew 19:26 (and several other places in Scripture), “with God all things are possible”. With God, we can survive anything. And we can “build and cherish”, as the Queen invites us to do. 

Growing closer to Jesus means growing in faith. There are some great upcoming local opportunities for men (happy to promote some things for the ladies…let me know) to do just that:

I’ve been to all and as such, would highly recommend each. The only thing better than the spiritual experience and great speakers is the fellowship…Men being with Men, all Brothers in Christ.

As always, please feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

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

Remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Who Are Your True Friends?

Who are your friends? Are they always there for you? Do they always have your best interests at heart? Are they truly your friends?

I believe that “friend” is one of the most overused words in the English language, especially in this day of social media. If you’re like me, you literally have 100s of acquaintances, but very few true friends.

What is a Friend?

  • Someone who you engage with on a regular basis
  • Who you are invested in and them in you

Have you surrounded yourself with people who meet this definition? Many people don’t. Instead they surround themselves with negative people, those who only pull them down and don’t lift them up. 

Only Surround Yourself with the Best

I’ve made a conscious decision in my life to only surround myself with those who truly care for me, those who love me and want to help me be a better me. There are only a few, including my wife. I refer to this as my “inner circle” and it has the following characteristics:

  1. Based on demonstrated behavior
  2. They are regularly there for me and me for them
  3. They support me in my endeavors
  4. They don’t beat me down, but love me

#4 doesn’t mean they agree with everything I do, but they tell me in a loving way, coaching and guiding me, without the negativity or sarcasm (subject for a future blog).

Everyone Else is in Your Outer Circle

Everyone else but those few are in my “outer circle”. Now you may think that doesn’t sound very Christian. Or you’re not sure how those in your immediate family or longtime friends could be in your outer circle. I’m here to tell you that they can. I’m not suggesting that you completely turn your back on them, but instead think of them as opportunities for ministry.

Everyone wants to be loved and everyone needs the love of Christ (whether they know it or not). You/we need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you should count on everyone to love you and support you….

  • Some are incapable because of what they’re dealing with
  • Some won’t take the time
  • And there are some in this world who are just bad people. 

Love Makes for True Friendship

Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic, one of my favorite authors and speakers, defines love as helping others become better versions of themselves. That’s the measure I suggest we all use. Are those in your life helping you be better, be your best? If so, they should be in your inner circle (by the way…you need to reciprocate their friendship). If not, it’s the outer circle where they should go, as a great opportunity for ministry. 

Be intentional with who you call “friend”. Pick wisely. Make sure they are worthy of your inner circle. Work and grow to be better together, loving one another the way Christ loves you.

Please share with me your comments and what you think about “inner circle” and “outer circle” at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

May God Bless you with Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Letting Go of Your Resentments

Letting Go of Your Resentments

Most of us have had the experience of holding a grudge. Many are trapped and overwhelmed by the resulting resentment. If left unaddressed, resentment can consume us. Does this ring true to you?

For quite a while, I was overwhelmed by my wounds and resentments, almost in disbelief that these seeming “injustices” could have happened to me. I experienced a range of emotions and remember being angry and bitter almost on a constant basis. It was real. It was penetrating. And it hurt, sometimes almost physically. I felt very isolated, embarrassed to share the details with anyone.

Swallowing Poison and Waiting for the Other Person to Die

There’s a painfully true saying that “resenting someone else is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die”. In other words, when you harbor resentment, the only person it really hurts is you. Even if the other person knows of it and feels its repercussions, the impact on them pales in comparison to the impact on you.

There is no question that people wrong us, hurt us, sometimes very deeply, whether with malice or not. But when we let this fact get in the way of us living with peace and joy, we only hurt ourselves.

You Can Only Change Yourself

So how do we get out of habits of resentment and hurt? The fact is that the patterns of resentment that weigh us down are often rooted in the false belief that other people have to change in order for us to be happy. And this lie has roots in the lack of self-love suffered by most…if I believe that my whole worth is based on what other people think of me, then it stands to reason that I will resent people when they fail to love me.

Step #1

A first step in healing is moving past the idea that other people have to change. Remember, even when people treat you terribly and hurt you, that does not diminish your worth one bit. Because your worth is rooted in who you are (not in what you do or how you perform), you have the power to take responsibility for your own life, beginning with choosing to let go of resentment and hurt.

Step #2

An important second step has to do with our identity. Our tragedies, wounds, and set-backs are not to define us. When we allow our identity to get wrapped up in our hurts, it makes it difficult to surrender them, to experience healing, and to move on. As such, we need to understand our identity in Christ, each of us made by His Father, perfect in God’s image and likeness.

Step #3

Lastly, it was critical that I take ownership of my role in each of my painful circumstances, recognizing that I bore at least some responsibility for what had happened. It wasn’t until I started the challenging process of fixing myself, and yes forgiving myself, that I could humbly acknowledge my role, allowing me to also forgive others (which doesn’t mean condoning).

In doing all of the above, I let go of my resentments. How about you? What have you done or what are you prepared to do to have peace and joy in your life?

Please share your comments with me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

Why So Angry

If you’re paying attention today, especially related to politics (no…this isn’t a political blog), so many people are so angry. Whether related to politics or not, it seems that we’re less tolerant than in the past. Common decency is much less prevalent. Many of us were taught, “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. That approach appears to be a thing of the past. 

It seems that not only does everyone have an opinion about everything, but that they are very eager to share it and with no filter as related to who the audience may be. It used to be that our rights stopped when they negatively impacted another. Today you’d think that it’s our right to insult anyone we want.

It’s a Problem for Me

I’ve noticed an anger building in me over the last several months. I’ve told myself that it’s a result of my frustration with how things are being done (or not done). It manifests itself in me yelling at the television while watching political commentary (nope…I won’t tell you which side I’m yelling at) or being critical of leadership to others, whether in the Church or the secular world.

In prayer recently, I very clearly sensed that the Lord said to me, “lose the anger; your heart is hardening, which is not of Me”. Wow!!! That smacked me between the eyes. Before that very moment, I hadn’t thought of myself as being angry and as such, hadn’t considered what else may be going on within me.

Where is all the anger coming from?

I discerned that the anger stemmed from ego and pride, things that I thought that I had in fairly good check. You see, in my mind I had better ideas and solutions than those being exercised by others. It not being practical to share my ideas with the people from the institutions or organizations I was angry with because they’re not in my immediate sphere, it’s not like I was rejected, attacked, or offended personally in any way. I just thought my ideas were better and that they were exhibiting poor judgement in doing otherwise. And I was angry about it.

If you’ve had a chance to review my website or read my free eBook , you know that one of my primary themes is the healthy self-love we attain by understanding and internalizing God’s unconditional love. And you further know that the person who knows such love is very comfortable with who she is, made in God’s image and likeness….to do great things. That person is not bothered by others’ thoughts or opinions, but instead is accepting (not necessarily agreeing or endorsing) of what they have to say. Not suffering from an inflated ego or pride, he doesn’t have to be invested in always proving himself right. Nor does he get angry over such things.

I had let pride creep back into my life. Ever so subtle, my ego (which stands for “edge God out”) had swelled. They being my most challenging sins from my past, I was somewhat shaken, to be honest, to the degree to which they resurfaced. Satan was at work and I didn’t see it coming.

You may have other theories as to why you sometimes get angry. I’d love for you to share them with me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

How to Overcome Anger

Here’s my experience. When I live from that place of God’s unconditional love (knowing that God made me with special gifts and put me on this earth for a purpose, all according to His plan, which includes wanting me to be happy) for me, the anger doesn’t exist. Neither does it when I’m practicing surrender, gratitude, humility, and love.  

We Have a Great God

The good news is that we have a great God Who forgives all. He loves us unconditionally. He’s there for all of us all the time. He knows that we’re going to fall down. He’s always there to pick us back up. It was anger for me, caused by ego and pride. What is it for you? Take it to our Lord. He doesn’t disappoint. 

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

Mark Joseph