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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

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

Categories
Weekly Blog

Your Path to Peace…Guaranteed

We began this series the first Wednesday after New Years’, with accompanying videos every Friday. We identified the things that overwhelm us (chasing the things that can’t bring us happiness), then discussed my lived experience in how to overcome them. You’ve heard me say that in understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ: 

  • The unimaginable is achievable
  • There can be Heaven on earth
  • There exists a definitive path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done…He made you for Greatness. You have unique and special God given gifts and we are put on this earth for a specific purpose.  

We’ve discussed the things that add to your greatness, your happiness…all the attributes of discipleship: 

  • Our identity in Christ, knowing God’s love
  • Active prayer life
  • Vibrant Sacramental life
  • Living by the teachings of Jesus
  • Authentic Fellowship
  • Serving those in need
  • Sharing the love of Christ 

Embracing the above, although simple but not easy, is the only way to live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment. The “peace” portion of that includes the following:  

  • Surrender – it is only in me truly knowing God’s unconditional love that I could trust Him. Convinced He made me a specific way for special things; He knows me better than anyone, knowing what will make me happy. Knowing that He knows best and wants the very best for me, I can experience Greatness by surrendering to our all-loving God.  
  • Gratitude – it’s understanding that everything in my life happens for a reason, according to God’s grand plan, shaping me for His glory and my fulfillment. I may not know “why” now, but it’s all to bring me closer to God and for a greater good. In addition, I’ve learned I need to have an attitude of gratitude. 
  • I know in Humility that it’s not me, but God working thru me that Greatness occurs. Knowing this and coupled with Surrender, I give all over to Him, which relieves me of all the pressure…I just do my best and leave the rest to our Lord
  • Love, love, love. This all culminates in love, fulfilling the Great Commandments in loving God and loving our neighbors. 

That’s it. Not overly complicated…definitely not easy. But oh, is it worth it though. It works, which doesn’t mean that all your problems are going to go away, but here’s the deal. In knowing the love of Christ, you’ll have a joy that is independent of substance and circumstance. You’ll be fulfilled. You’ll have peace. 

Stay tuned for what we go to next. Shoot me a note with any requests. Reach out to me if you want to chat about any of this and as always, please email me with questions, concerns, comments, 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

 

P.S. Tomorrow marks what would have been my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Miss Dad, Mum. I love you!!!