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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

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

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
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!!!