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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

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Weekly Blog

Who’s in Your Inner Circle? 

Fellowship is critical to our spiritual journeys. It serves in helping us be the best we can be while serving others in helping them to be their best. We are not meant to go through life alone. None of us. We need to be in relationship, authentic friendship, and community, which means we need to love others.

Jesus instructs us to love our neighbors in the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-39 or Mark 12:29-31). I have a good friend, Ennie Hickman, who is a speaker for the Steubenville Conferences. Ennie speaks of Jesus’ teaching as not being metaphorical or theoretical. Ennie makes the point that Jesus meant our neighbor, neighbor, our next-door neighbor, the person in the house or apartment near us. Who we see in the grocery store or post office, everywhere we look…all who God puts in our lives.

Loving our neighbors includes our families. Many people trip over those right in front of them to go do ministry elsewhere. At one time, I was guilty of this. Our ministry needs to start at home. Ephesians 5:25 says that husbands are to love their wives the way Jesus loved the Church. Jesus gave His life for the Church, loving sacrificially. I need to be willing to give my life for my wife. I need to do my best to help her get to heaven, praying with and for her. 

I didn’t get this in my first marriage. My wife needs to be my priority, with our kids being a close second, not only praying with them and for them, but trying to be a good example, always speaking truth and being charitable. 

Inner Circle vs. Outer Circle 

With family and friends, I think about our inner circle versus our outer circle. Our inner circle should include only those who help us become better versions of ourselves, who teach us, pray with us, hold us accountable, and truly love us. Everyone else should be in our outer circle. This is a challenge for some because arguably there are family members and friends who shouldn’t be in our inner circle. This is true if they aren’t moving in the same direction as you; if they don’t truly have your best interests at heart.  

The above doesn’t mean you cast them aside. Our outer circle is an opportunity for ministry, where we are called to share the love of Christ with others. 

Related to inner circle, I’m a big fan of faith-based small groups. I point to my Parish Men’s Group as critical to my journey. Before I thought “woe was me….I was the only one experiencing these things”. Then I came to understand that we all experience similar things, just characterized differently. These brothers in Christ were distant enough to not have an agenda (family often has agenda), but close enough to listen, care, tell me the truth, hold me accountable, and love me. 

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 Does the Church Know? 

Last week I asked you to imagine yourself a professional athlete or Olympian, or an actor, musician, or artist, pointing to the disciplines needed to excel. I then related that to our talents and purpose, making the point that the only way we find our greatness and live lives of peace, joy, and fulfillment, is to avail ourselves to God’s love, grace, mercy, and wisdom. We do so all 7 days of the week (not compartmentalizing our faith) in knowing our identity in Christ…knowing His unconditional love. We also do it in relationship with Him, the Holy Trinity, which is through prayer and the Sacraments. 

I’m hopeful that those connections ring true to you. They do to me and have changed my life. 

With me knowing my identity in Christ, knowing His unconditional love, in embracing my talents and purpose, I’ve developed a deep thirst to grow in faith. The longest 12” in the world is between the head and the heart…we need both on this spiritual journey

  • The heart feeds the mind as guided by the Holy Spirit
  • We can’t be catechized until we’re evangelized. 

Related, believe it or not, it’s only following what the Church teaches(disciplines), that you’ll find peace, joy, and fulfillment. What we’ve not discussed yet is the what the Church has to offer us in this regard. Tons of things can be found within the Church proper and other places:

  • Holy Scripture – so many ways to read and pray through it
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church – rich with historical perspective and information on our faith; comes in several forms
  • Encyclicals by our Popes, documents by Doctors and Fathers of the Church
  • Books by Scripture Scholars and Theologians…hundreds of years old to current day  
  • Faith-based books like mine, where the author has a significant spiritual experience(s) and wants to share it to help others 

Where to Find this Stuff

In today’s world, it’s not just books. There are videos, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, websites, social media posts, internet searches, conferences, virtual events, seminars, webinars, video conferences, Parish Missions, Retreats, teaching series, individual talks, online and on ground education, including graduate level, certificates, certifications, and more…I’m sure I’m missing something. You name it and you can avail yourself to it…really anytime day or night. 

No matter who you are, you can find things that speak to you. There is so much out there, on so many topics related to our faith, those that:

  • Feed the heart 
  • Feed the mind

“Back in the day”, I used to follow Zig Ziglar, famed sales trainer and motivational speaker, who said that by listening to cassette tapes (aging myself) for 30 minutes a day, you could gain a master’s degree in 2 years. Although I’m not sure exactly how true that is, I’ve also heard that reading just 15 minutes a day can change your life. I read 45-60 minutes a night and I believe it has changed mine. Consistent with our current times, I think that applies to listening and watching too…good stuff that helps form yourself into being your very best. 

There’s an expression…you can judge the character of a person by the books he/she reads and people he/she associates with. Prior to my conversion, I read books on wealth creation and management, leadership, organizational health, sales and sales management. I hung out with a bunch of guys that wanted to make gobs of money. Today I read mostly faith based books and surround myself with brothers in Christ. 

I believe all the answers to life are taught by the Church and can be found in Scripture. We’ve covered a small part of it here. Keep looking though. The more I learn, the more I find I want to learn. And one thing I’ve learned is this. We know the end of the story. We know that Jesus won victory for us. What many don’t know is that not only are we made for greatness, but…there is a practical reality to living that greatness all 7 days a week, instead of compartmentalizing our faith. 

As always, please email me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions (of future blog posts or other), 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

The Missing Ingredient 

Conversion is not a one-off event. While the initial moment of conversion may have been very powerful for many of us, the reality is that conversion takes place over a period of time and sets us on a journey to becoming who we’re meant to be. The next critical step on the journey is healing.

We all need healing. Regardless of who we are or what our experiences have been, we carry wounds. There are tragedies we’ve endured, hurts we’ve experienced, and fears we’ve lived with, all contributing to the wounds we’ve allowed to build up over time. If we truly want to live a fulfilling life, we need to allow ourselves to heal, and that takes some work. The first step is to let it all go, which is much easier said than done. The process of healing is some of the heaviest lifting you’ll do on this journey. It requires a lot of self-reflection and vulnerability. It means examining your faults and failings, your character flaws, your weaknesses. It often means asking for help.  

Why Forgive?  

It isn’t easy, yet refusing to forgive keeps us stuck in old patterns of self-loathing, fear, and resentment — all of those things that keep us feeling overwhelmed by life. Not forgiving leaves us stuck in the past. It causes emotional, physical, and spiritual issues. Forgiveness is first of all for our benefit, not the benefit of anyone who hurt us. It is only when we forgive that we can be free from the pain and hurt of the past. Forgiving helps us to grow. It is empowering. 

For me, the biggest challenge in forgiving others was owning up to my role in the situations that had hurt me. Coming to terms with that responsibility required a hard look in the mirror. To finally begin to forgive others in my life, I had to go through a process, which included first forgiving myself. Not easy, it took time. Thankfully, God was there to help me through it, just as he will be for you.

 

Forgiveness Begins with You

Forgiveness isn’t just about forgiving others. We also need to forgive ourselves, which often is the first step. Not forgiving yourself for past mistakes, constantly beating yourself up for them is exhausting.  

Refusing to forgive ourselves basically says that Jesus’ sacrifice was a waste of time. God forgives all, so if I refuse to forgive myself, I place myself above God. Our identity is who we are as God’s creation, put on this earth out of his love, restored through his Son’s sacrifice, made to be great and to live for his glory. 

None of this came quickly. I went from beating myself up several times an hour to once an hour. Then to every eight hours, then twenty-four hours, to every couple days,, and once a week. It was a process and a slow one. With all the progress I’ve made, I still occasionally go to that dark place, albeit rarely. If it’s slow for you, too, that’s okay. Just take it one day at a time, be patient with yourself, and continually renew your trust in God’s love.

Why Forgive Others?

When we’re caught up in seeking validation and love from other people, it can be really tough to forgive. The more we can rest in the conviction that God loves us, the easier it becomes to understand that other people’s faults and failings are owned by them and not a reflection of us. The fact is, most often people who hurt us aren’t maliciously attacking us, but dealing from a place of their own inadequacy and their own wounds. The more we can understand God’s love for us and for those who hurt us, the easier it becomes to let go of resentment. 

Although at times we will express it verbally, that doesn’t mean we have to say, “I forgive you” for it to count. And forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning or endorsing their behavior. They can truly be in the wrong and you can (and should) still forgive them. Given my experience, there’s a freedom to doing it. It brings about peace, even joy. 

I hope all this helps. There’s so much more to say on this subject, with me dedicating an entire chapter to it in my book, including a powerful story about the process I went through. 

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

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

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

 

Mark Joseph