Categories
Weekly Blog

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

We’ve all heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. Is that how you handle conflict? Or do you, like me, fail to abide by that practice?
 
I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist how upset I was with her. Given the family dysfunction related to addiction, the disease was killing her and it was killing me, emotionally and physically (stress, weight loss, headaches). Gratified to hear that my feelings were normal didn’t mean that they were acceptable. Having heard the above expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.    

In Scripture we read…“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Another Scripture verse that speaks to this issue is where Peter asks how often he is to forgive. Jesus responds to him in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times”.

All of these verses speak to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. As I’ve learned, one of the tricks is to not assume malice. Most often, when someone does something that upsets you, they’ve not done it to intentionally hurt you. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to harm you, then working to resolve the matter. BTW, all of this is easier said than done. It really takes practice.

My experience would indicate that there’s another factor in all of this, that is the complicity that we may have in the conflict. How have our actions added to the dilemma? What role have we played? How does how we feel about ourselves contribute to the reaction we’ve had? All questions I’ve had to ask myself as I mature in life and in my faith.

Let’s consider a more global issue, i.e. abortion. As Christians, I’m hopeful that we can all agree that it is an intrinsic evil, as identified by the teachings of the Church and documented by the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops. After 49 years, Roe v. Wade was finally overturned by the Supreme Court, an answer to many prayers by many people for many years.

With the above, we’ve seen some real ugliness, whether it be personal attacks, protesting that turns violent, pro-life facilities being vandalized, and threats being made.

As Christians, we need to abide by Matthew 7:12 and 18:22, as well as Mark 12:31. We need to recognize that ALL OF US are beloved children of God. We’re also all sinners, each and every one of us. Another verse I’m reminded of here is when Jesus says, “how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the board in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).

It may be easy to hate the protesters sited above. I get it and I’m guilty of it. Their actions are reprehensible. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. And the reality is that hating them isn’t going to change them, nor our world.

I’d encourage all of us to try very hard to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. It’s the only way we’re going to change hearts and change our world. I’d also suggest that we examine our role in all things. And always, for guidance and as our greatest example, go to Jesus.

As always, please contact me at [email protected] with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

Five Ways God Speaks to Us (that don’t include prayer)


I recently read the “Bible in a Year”, where the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs are broken up into 365 (one for each day) sections. I’ve done this two-times in the past, the first just reading it, the second praying through it. My focus this year was on the New Testament, wanting to really pray through the verses.
 
When doing it for the first time, I remember being mesmerized by the fact that God was talking to people in the Old Testament on a regular basis. Having never heard the audible voice of God, I said to a couple of friends, “I wish God would talk to me just once in a while”. I recall the two of them answering almost in unison, “He’s talking to you all the time; you just need to pay attention”.   
 
They were absolutely right. A partial list of the ways God talks to us outside of Prayer include:

  1. A conversation you have
  2. Book or verse you read, including Scripture
  3. A song you hear
  4. Something you see, i.e. billboard
  5. Something you experience

I’ve written before about living in a place of gratitude, part of which is believing that everything happens for a reason…there are no coincidences, no mistakes. As such, I believe all happens according to God’s grand plan, for each of us individually as well as for all of humanity.

Consistent with the above, I’d invite you to look for God in everything you do. He’s always there. And He’s speaking to you all the time, whether it be a conversation you’re having, a book, a song, something you happen to see or experience. God is there. He’s present. He’s speaking into everything you do in your life.
 
The above doesn’t negate our need for prayer. God wants to be in relationship with us more than anything else. He being who and what He is, we should want to be in relationship with Him. Prayer is critical. We can’t thrive without it.
 
Having stated the above, God speaks to us in ways other than prayer, namely numbers 1-5 above. Pay attention. God is with you always.
 
As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or challenges at [email protected].
 
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!!
 
Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

Why Share the Love of Christ?

In reading Scripture, the answer to the above is obvious. With all the things Jesus said while here on earth, two of the most impactful were the Great Commandments (Mark 12:29-31) and Great Commission, in summary…love God, love your neighbor, and share the Gospel message (love of Christ). I’d suggest that these weren’t mere suggestions from our Lord. He was specific.   

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus said before ascending to Heaven, 19 “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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Verse 20 gets less attention that 19. Jesus tells us, “behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”. Related, it’s my lived experience that the only path to peace, joy, and fulfillment is to say “yes” to Jesus. It’s what Jesus promises us in verse 20. 

Saying “yes” to Jesus means being His Disciple, a part of which is making other Disciples. The question is “how” do we do this. My first suggestion is to not hit people over the head with our Bibles. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. We need to love them first, where they are, for who they are. 

We’ve all heard the merits of teaching a man to fish as opposed to feeding him a fish. Discipleship calls on us to teach others how to become teachers of teachers, i.e. Disciples making Disciples. To do so, we need to exercise humility: 

  • The discipleship relationship is not that of a doctor to a patient, teacher to a student, or even a Priest to a parishioner 
  • It is founded in a personal relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. 
  • The intent isn’t to mold versions of ourselves, but to help others be Disciples for Christ, to be like Jesus 

As St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. There are several elements to evangelizing:

  • Be prayerful – you can’t give away what you don’t have
  • Pray for those God puts in front of you
  • Build relationships with others – learn their stories so that you can share in a way that is relevant to them. 

Pope Paul VI stated, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”. We’re called to share our faith, which means sharing our story. We do so by sharing…

  • Your life before you recognized Christ as a meaningful part of it
  • How you came to know Jesus Christ (your conversion)
  • Your life in Christ, including the challenges
  • Make the invitation to others to join you on the journey

We hear of Peter and the other fishermen dropping their nets. Others leave behind their former lives to follow Jesus, which is the most important decision a person can ever make. Our call is to follow Jesus consciously and intentionally with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Once made, that decision should drive everything in your life. Once made, you have the opportunity for peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

Remember, being a Disciple includes making Disciples. If interested in a model that is engaging, effective, and free of charge, go to https://steubenvilleconferences.com/discipleship-quads/, or contact me. I’d be happy to share with you. 

As always, please email me at [email protected] with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

What’s Really Meaningful? 

What do you read to inspire you? Or listen to? What inspires you? I love reading books about our faith and leadership, my favorite topics. I’m on the email distribution lists of my favorite authors. One of them, a great inspiration, is John O’Leary. A burn victim as a youth, John has mastered making lemonade out of lemons. You can find John’s books (great reads), blogs, and other products at https://johnolearyinspires.com

In his September 20th email, John told a story about a young girl he met at a burn camp for children. This courageous girl was burned years earlier, sustaining injuries similar to his, and had lost the fingers on her right hand. Because of that, she wore an oversized sweatshirt at camp to cover the scars on her arm and hide the extent of her injuries. John explains further below.

You don’t have to be a child to know sometimes it feels safer to simply hide scars.

At camp that day, I shared with the kids what I went through as a child and the gifts that came from it. I reminded them of the beauty of scars, the resiliency they possess, and ultimately, that they are being prepared for something bigger and better than they can currently fathom.

Afterwards, this beautiful girl approached in her sweatshirt. She stood in front of me, took a deep breath, then exhaled as she rolled up her sleeves for the first time that week. She then proudly lifted her scarred arm and hand.

You don’t have to be a child to know sometimes it’s liberating to honestly reveal your scars and embrace who you really are.

As we hugged goodbye at the end of that meeting, I told her we weren’t done being friends and the next time I was in her part of the state we were hanging out.

That’s how a few weeks later, at a little restaurant off the interstate, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with this brave girl. Her grandfather sat nearby as we visited about her experiences, what she had endured, the struggles she faced in recovery, the concerns she felt moving forward and the dreams she still had for her life. In other words, we had an awesome visit!

That interaction, with that young girl, reminded me it’s seldom in the massive events and huge gatherings where we change the world. It’s the regular moments, in unexpected spaces, with ordinary people that the best of our work and lives is revealed.

Too often, we race to what we thought was the real work, but it’s seldom found in the big stuff – the big trip, the big project, the big win. No, the best and most meaningful aspects of our lives are discovered in the seemingly ordinary experiences, tender moments of grace, and ordinary human interactions with others throughout the day.

If you want to read John’s post in total, you can read it in full here.

Not only does John’s story speak to the Great Commandments…love God and love others, but it’s the only Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!

As always, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless and remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph