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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

Courage is Easy to See….If You Pay Attention

If you’re like me, when you think of courage, the images that come to mind include soldiers going into battle, a police officer rescuing a hostage, firemen pulling people from a burning building, or someone saving a victim from an attacker. These examples and similar ones are what get all of the press coverage. In those stories, whether identifying with the victim or the “hero”, we get a glimpse of “courage”.

Examples of Courage in Everyday Life

The truth is that we have examples of courage all around us, that are far less dramatic than the above. The story I want to share here is very close to home, relating to my wife’s father, who not only showed great courage, but dignity.

When I met Rodney, my father-in-law, then in his 70s, he was still cutting hair in his barber shop of 50+ years, managed his rental properties, golfed and bowled regularly, hunted, raised cows, took care of his 15-acre country property, and spent tons of time with his best friend (my mother-in-law), his daughter (my wife), and the broader family. Rodney was a friend’s friend. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him. 

Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Having experienced tragedy previously in his life, including being thrown from a speeding car as a teenager, breaking his back, and being the lone survivor, Rodney was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. For those not familiar, ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Early symptoms of ALS include:

  • Tripping and falling
  • Weakness in the hands, legs, feet, or ankles
  • Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
  • Muscle cramps and twitching 

As the disease advances and nerve cells are destroyed, the muscles progressively weaken. This eventually affects overall mobility, chewing, swallowing, speaking, and breathing. With no cure, life expectancy is typically no more than 5 years after diagnosis.

Never Complaining

So as to prolong his retirement, he used rubber bands to help him hold the clippers in his hand while cutting hair. He eventually had to stop working, which was preceded by no longer hunting, golfing, or bowling. He went from a cane to a walker, followed by a scooter and then a powered wheelchair. Over time, he couldn’t do anything for himself. He went from living a healthy, active, vibrant life to realizing that he was dying a slow death.  

From the very beginning of this chapter in his life, Rodney never complained. Never. Not only did he never complain, but he took on every new endeavor (and there were many) without hesitation. From giving up work and all his hobbies, to no longer driving, to being in a wheelchair, and ultimately having his every need taken care of, he did it all with what I view as absolute courage.

No Fear

According to Dictionary.com, courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear. I saw in Rodney a courage that was quiet and calm. He encountered great difficulty, but never feared it. Although ALS patients don’t experience physical pain, the emotional stress is a big issue, but not ever as expressed by Rodney.

He never feared the next thing. He never feared death. In fact, he embraced the journey, showing all of us what a life of courage looks like.

Path to Peace

My father-in-law, ever so courageous and dignified (in a world that so needs it), lived at a place of surrender to God’s will, ever so grateful for the life he lived. He was an incredibly humble man, one who loved all who he encountered. I define these four things as the path to peace. While suffering from the disease that ultimately took his life, he did a wonderful job of exemplifying each. 

Who are the courageous people in your life, not the ones who perform external heroic acts (which shouldn’t be minimized), but live lives with courage, dignity, and faith? I bet you have them. I assure you that you can learn from them.

Please send me your comments at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Many of us don’t make our marriages a priority. Our attention goes to our kids, their needs and activities. We focus on our careers, forcing us to spend lots of time on work. Then there are additional things outside the home like entertainment and various activities, including participating in not-for-profit initiatives. Much of this is often to the exclusion of our spouses.

It’s all part of the busyness of life. It’s not intentional or done with malice, but instead it just happens.

Culture of Me

Add to the above what has become so prevalent in our society, the culture of “me”, i.e. “me, myself, and I”. So many have lost the “other” focus in their lives. Instead it’s about our self-gratification and pleasure.

There was a time when all of the above applied to me. As such, the idea of “happy wife, happy life” used to drive me crazy. Buying into the things of the world, the phrase seemed absolutely ridiculous. What about me? What about my needs, my happiness? Why was it all about her happiness? And why did the responsibility lie with me?

That Was Then and This is Now

Well, as they say, that was then and this is now. Having experienced conversion and now being very active in my faith, my priorities are much different. I now understand that my relationship with my wife is second only in importance to my relationship with Jesus Christ. With that, for those who choose marriage there are a few truths that we need to live by:

  • Jesus has to be at the center of our marriages
  • Our number one priority needs to be helping one another get to Heaven
  • The better each of us is doing individually (spiritually and emotionally), the better our marriages will be

Die to Self and Serve the Other

In Ephesians 5:25, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her”. To be honest, before being so engaged in my faith, I wasn’t aware of the concept of sacrificial love, at least not as related to my wife (sad to say).

Jesus died on the Cross for us. Paul is telling us that we have to be willing to do the same for our wives….not just in a “heroic jump in front of the bus” kind of way, but in everyday life. We are to die to self and serve our wives, putting her first, as Jesus did the Church.

The More I Give, the More I Receive

Here’s the dirty little secret. The better I treat my wife, the more I do for her, the more I affirm and love her, the better she treats me and loves me. My intent isn’t “tit for tat”. I don’t think it can work that way. But interestingly, the more I give, the more I receive.

In my men’s group last week, I commented that when my relationship is right with my wife, I feel like I can take on the world, that nothing can stop me. The great news is that I get to create that reality every single day by truly loving the most important person in the world to me.

Love and Respect

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, “let each one of you (husband) love his wife as himself; and let the wife see that she respects the husband”.

Here’s the dirty little secret for wives, men feel loved when they’re respected. You show your husband respect and he’ll run through block walls for you. If you don’t believe the Apostle Paul or me, I’d point you to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his book, “Love and Respect” (loveandrespect.com).

And while I’m promoting marriage gurus, my wife and I have really gotten a lot out of Mark Gungor (markgungor.com), who has a great program called “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”.

As it turns out, “happy wife, happy life” applies as much to wives as it does husbands, there’s just no good word that rhymes with “husband”.
Let me know what you think at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph

Categories
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