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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 Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com 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

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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 Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

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

Mark Joseph 

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Weekly Blog

Have You Walked on Water?

I got to spend some relaxing time with family a couple days ago, for a long weekend, on a beautiful lake in Michigan. Sitting at the dock, late in the afternoon, watching the sun’s reflection on the water, my mind went to a different place, to a time I’ve read about in Scripture. 

The story is told in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sent the disciples out on the boat. They were on rough waters, with the wind stirring around them. Startled, they saw Jesus walking towards them on the water. In Matthew 14:27, Jesus responds to them saying, “Have faith. It is I. Do not be afraid”. As an aside, the Bible says 365 times some derivative of “be not afraid”. God clearly doesn’t want us to live in fear. 

In verse 28, Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you over the waters”. With Jesus telling him to “come”, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water. After some steps, beginning to fear, he was sinking when he said, “Lord save me”. In verse 31, extending His hand and grabbing Peter, Jesus said, “O little in faith, why did you doubt?”

Sitting at the edge of the lake, watching the sun reflect off the water, I got to pray through the above. I love the imagery. Can you imagine being on that boat, with the waves whipping and the winds bustling? You’re concerned for your safety when you see something (Someone) walking towards you on the water. What? People don’t walk on water. 

Peter, always the first to speak, the first to act, yells to Jesus. I love Peter’s boldness. Believing, having faith, Peter asks Jesus to have him walk on the water too. Can you imagine? Who does that? A person of great faith. Peter does that. Jesus is asking each of us to walk on water, to step out of the boat and into the deep. 

  • What is Jesus really asking us…to exercise our greatness, to fully utilize our God given gifts and to fulfill our God given purpose.
  • Why does Jesus do this…because he knows that it’s our only path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

There’s only one way we do what Jesus asks…that’s with great faith. To me, there’s only one way that such faith exists in us…that is to understand and internalize the unconditional and penetrating love of Jesus Christ. God loves us more than we’ll ever know, no matter what we’ve ever done. When are we going to get that? 

For those of us who know that love, we’d never go back to a life otherwise. We know Jesus’ invitation is the only means to true happiness (peace, joy, and fulfillment). Nothing else but following Him, living a life in Christ, will do it. Speaking boldly (like Peter)…that’s an absolute fact. 

For those who don’t know that love, there is hope…you can get there too. Please reach out to me and I’d be happy to help you on your journey….the path Jesus wants you to pursue.  

As always, feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, 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

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

I’m assuming (I know what “assume” means (past post)…I think I’m safe here) that many of us have heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. That doesn’t mean that we live it…certainly not all the time. I don’t and often it’s a struggle.

I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist that there were times when I literally hated her (that’s probably shocking to read). 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 expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.

We touched on these concepts last week, siting from Scripture…“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 make you mad. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to hurt you, then trying to work it out. 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. I’m not getting political here…I promise.

Related, I just saw a post indicating that a group of protesters interrupted a Mass being celebrated by Bishop Brennan at St. Joseph Cathedral, in the Diocese of Columbus, on January 22. The US Catholic Church had made this day, the 48th anniversary of abortion becoming legal in the US, “A Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”.

The protestors were parading through the Church with signs during the Mass. As expressed to a friend, I can’t imagine the audacity in this act, just like I can’t understand the riots, looting, or violence in our Capitol nor any city in our country.

With the significant political and cultural divide in our country (promise…I’m not getting political), the vitriol from all sides is at a fever pitch, really I believe, unprecedented in our history. We are seeing a lot of “hate the sinner”.

As Christians, we need to be better than this, abiding 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, like those in our Capitol and other cities, 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.

Lastly, related to our potential complicity, with of all things…abortion, think of this. Assuming we’re all pro-life, are we doing anything to support that belief? Do we talk to our kids and others about the issue; do we support the pro-life movement…with our time, talent, or treasures; do we pray for the unborn…and all life; do we pray for the precious aborted babies, or those who support or participate in the abortion industry?

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 Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

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

Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph