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Weekly Blog

Our Challenging Times…Three Things We Can All Do

Regardless of whether you’re on the political left or right, or right down the middle as an independent, we can probably all agree that our country is facing challenging times. In talking to folks, although the above is the consensus, it’s typically followed up with:

  • “There’s nothing I can do” (or)
  • “What can I do about it?”

As indicated in previous posts, I’d suggest taking that question to prayer, like we should all things, asking God to speak into our challenges and our lives. That said, there are three things that all of us as Christians can and should do, assuming we want to make a positive impact on those around us and the broader society…yes our country.

Those three things are indicated in the:

  • Great Commandments – Mark 12: 30-31 or Matthew 22:37-39
    1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”.
    2. “The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
  • Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20
    1. “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.

I heard a Priest once say that hardly anyone confesses sinning against the First Commandment, which is “I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me”. The fact is that in abiding by this Commandment, including how it is stated in the positive above (“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 other 9 Commandments are much less an issue. I don’t say this because they’re not important. I say it because if we truly love God and do so before all else, the degree to which we sin is far less.

In abiding by the first part of the Great Commandments, we’re happier and healthier, helping those around us to be the same.

Many of us know the Golden Rule as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 7:12. Stated in the positive, as Jesus expressed in the Great Commandments, we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. What kind of world would we live in if this were always first and foremost in our minds?

The Great Commission speaks to our call, not a mere suggestion by Jesus, to share the love of Christ, to share our faith with others. Jesus makes the point that He’ll be with us every step along the way.

So many in our society, as evidenced by the dramatic decline in practicing Christians (including Catholics), don’t know the love of Christ. Statistically we’ve gone from 75% claiming themselves as being Christian in the 80s and 90s to just 50% today.

What would happen if we could change the above trend? Think about it. Think about the impact it would have. In summary, love God, love others, and share our faith. What would our country look like if we all did a lot more of that?

The next time you think “there’s nothing I can do” (or) “what can I do about it?”, do the above. Again…Love God. Love others. Share our faith.

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

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

You Have No Control

It’s a simple fact: we cannot control life, no matter how much we try. None of us can.  

Many of you might be thinking it isn’t true that you have no control. With a good plan and solid people around you, it’s possible to control things. Sure, much of life allows for you to have a certain amount of control, as long as you allow for contingencies, but even then, things don’t always go perfectly. The fact is that most of life is beyond your absolute control.

  • Other people, their choices and behavior are beyond your control.
  • Tragic events, disease, accidents — these things are all way outside the scope of your control.

If you’ve been following my blogs or have read my book, you know that everything changed for me when I had my conversion, when I first experienced the unconditional love of God. Concurrently, I found that I had very little control over things in my life. I was so tightly wound, trying to control my company and everyone in it, my customers and my vendors, trying to keep track of my family and their needs, and in the end I just couldn’t maintain control.

God Knows Best for Us

What I’ve learned on my 13-year faith journey is that we have a God who loves us more than we can imagine, Who wants to see us happy, Who designed us for a specific purpose, uniquely and individually, Who knows best for us — the God who made us for greatness. I know this to be true for me and to be true for you.

So let’s consider these points objectively:

  • God loves us unconditionally
  • He wants the very best for us
  • We really have very little control
  • We’re overwhelmed by what the world offers us as solutions to life

What Surrender Means to Most

If you’re like most, surrender probably isn’t a word that you’ve considered much, and for good reason. It’s generally thought of as in giving up or acquiescing, not having control. It certainly doesn’t imply strength or independence, the things we are taught that are so important.

Growing up playing sports, followed by starting my career in sales, I never thought of giving up, of surrendering. It was always about winning, either the game or the deal. And winning was about more than just winning. It was about what it said about me…my talents and strengths. Losing pointed to just the opposite…my faults, failings, and frustrations.

The Real Impact of Surrender

It’s a simple fact: surrendering to God’s Will relieves the pressure you feel and plays a critical role in you living a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Instead of conceiving of something on your own, relying on yourself to get it done, and then facing the consequences alone, you can surrender to God’s Will, discerning what He wants for your life and particular situations, and relying on Him for whatever happens. You can use your unique and God-given gifts to do your very best, leaving everything up to Him and understanding that everything in life is part of His grand plan. As long as you know His love, it just doesn’t matter what others think.

God our Father loves us absolutely and handing it all over to Him brings incredible relief. In my case, surrender removed the pressure. It wasn’t just me alone that was responsible. I no longer had to own the outcome. Instead surrender leads to peace, joy, and fulfillment. All we can do is give every action our best, using our God-given talents, remaining open to His will, and leaving the outcome to Him. Try it…you won’t be disappointed.

Please comment to me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph
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Weekly Blog

Serving Others Serves Us 

Not a surprise, we are called to serve others. We can point to numerous places in Scripture. A couple examples:

  • John 15:17, Jesus said, “This I command you; that you love one another”. 
  • Matthew 25:44, where it says, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?” Then He shall respond to them by saying: “Amen I say to you, whenever you did not do it to one of these least, neither did you do it to Me”.

We need to see Christ in all and be Christ to all. You’re hard pressed to meet anyone who serves those in need who doesn’t feel strongly that they’re being ministered to more than those they’re serving.  

I read once that if we decided to, that the United States in of itself, could solve for world hunger. I’ve been challenged on that in saying it during speaking engagements. I believe it to be true based on the source, but regardless, here’s the question.  What are we doing, you and I, to solve for hunger our in our neighborhoods?

The types of hunger could include: 

  • Physical
  • Financial
  • Emotional 
  • Spiritual

There are so many opportunities to serve. Did you know that more than 50% of those in nursing homes are never visited? That’s pre-COVID stat. What do you think it is now? Our mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends. So many people are broken. Our kids, our neighbors…people seeking the love of Christ, whether they know it or not. 

There are so many opportunities to show the love of Christ to others. We live in a culture that loves things and uses people. We are called to use things and love people. 

 

Seeing the Face of Christ in Others 

Just before COVID, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti. Being good friends with the President of Life Teen, an organization that serves close to 2,000 Parishes and their youth ministry programs, about 20 of us stayed at Life Teen’s mission base. 

I have trouble sleeping when I’m in my bed and in my house. I’m not an outdoorsman…never camped in my life. In Haiti, I was among 12 other guys, with netted beds to keep the mosquitoes off us. On a concrete floor, critters were scampering back and forth…not sure what they were.  

The cold showers were very cold. The food, although interesting and tasted ok most of the time, I ate little of because of the conditions I saw it being prepared in. 

We did work on the mission base and out in the community. I experienced poverty that I had never witnessed before. People live in deplorable conditions, with no electricity or running water. With no means of disposal, garbage was everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Everyplace we went, there was a stench that I never experienced before. Roads were almost unnavigable. No paving. Huge potholes every so many feet, and parts of roads washed away. 

My primary take-aways:

  • It’s incomprehensible that there’s so much poverty in our backyard…no more than 2-hour flight from the US
  • I’ve never seen so many people smile so much. The Haitian people, poorer than poor, living in huts, with no running water or electricity, are joy-filled people. It’s amazing. It’s incredible to see. 
  • I came home convicted that I needed to start serving those in need in some capacity. 

I’ve allowed COVID to get in the way. Given what I saw and given where I am on my faith journey, I need to do this…working with those in need. I have failed to date, which I’m not proud of. My wife and I have talked about it. We need to do it. Please pray for us. 

I hope in reading this you’ll consider doing the same….seeing Christ in others. 

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

Categories
Weekly Blog

What Do You Fear?

Last week, we talked about how conditional love leads to lack of self-love, which then creates a fear within us. This fear prevents us from trying and doing things, using our God given talents, meeting our full potential.  

I made a decision in college which was driven by my fear. I loved my economics courses and although doing well in them, I was really good at accounting. More confident of getting a job in the latter, I chose to major in accounting. In hindsight…definitely a result of my fear.

Then there was the time when my company was in pursuit of the proverbial homerun. It was obvious that if we were successful, that it would take us to a much better, bigger place, changing my life professionally and financially. This is where these concepts all tie together. Given the conditional love I experienced, resulting in my lack of self-love, I had this fear of not succeeding that had a grip on me. I wanted it so badly. Although you couldn’t tell from the outside, it paralyzed me from within, causing me to make some bad decisions. 

Fear Impedes Our Progress

Fear impedes progress in our lives. Think about it. Because of fear, you don’t do things or do them differently than you otherwise would. Therefore, the results you achieve, both good and bad, are different than if you didn’t have the fear. Without the fear, your lessons learned, your progress would be different, arguably better. 

What Are Our Fears? 

Separate from your phobias, i.e., snakes, spiders, heights, elevators, what are your fears? Depending on the resources you look to, the list of most common fears can vary. When writing my book, Overwhelming Pursuit: Stop Chasing Your Life and Live, the list that rang most true to me included:

  • Ridicule
  • Rejection
  • Conflict or Confrontation
  • Unknown (Uncertainty)
  • Loneliness

Reciting the above when giving talks, I always ask the audience which of the most prevalent fears is not among the list. Someone invariably answers….FAILURE. 

Why are we so fearful of failure? 

  • Being rejected
  • Not being liked, being loved
  • Not being good enough
  • Not being liked; not being loved
  • Failure itself – what it says about us

I have a plaque on my desk that reads, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Think about that for a minute. How would your life be different? I know mine would. How about yours’?

The irony here is that our true friends and those in our family who truly love us will support us no matter what. So will God the Father, who loves us unconditionally, and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, dare I say our faults and our failings. 

It says 365 times in Scripture some derivative of “be not afraid”. God clearly doesn’t want us to live in fear. Yet most of us live with fears. It used to be true in my life. I thank God for the journey He’s taken me on, which will be shared as we move through this series. 

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!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph