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Enough Is Enough

I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic, cherishing my faith now today more than ever. If I had to guess, 98%+ of the readers of this blog are Catholic. Those who aren’t, are Christian. Consistent with our faith, we are pro-life, treasuring the human person from the point of conception to natural death. 

Some of us, like me, although pro-life don’t do a lot about addressing the issue, other than with occasional discussion…probably with those who are already in agreement with us (again…that’s me). There are others who have the conviction to do something about it. Those things could be regular prayer for the unborn, working at a pregnancy crisis center, or going on the March of Life. 

Then there are those who have the courage to do the tough stuff, i.e., commuting 4 hours round trip every Wednesday, to spend 6-8 hours praying and promoting life outside an inner-city abortion clinic. That would be Mark Houck, founder of The Kings Men and good friend to Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh. 


On Friday, September 23rd, 20+ armed FBI agents surrounded Mark’s house for a 7AM raid in Bucks County, PA. With them pounding on the door, Mark’s 7 young children were crying frantically. When Mark opened the door, he, his wife, and children were faced with rifles in their faces. For what you might ask…a dispute at an abortion clinic that Mark had months earlier, that was already thrown out of court. Check the details here.

Just fill your car with gas or go to the grocery store…we live in a country where inflation is out of control. Crime, especially violent crime, has risen dramatically over the last 2 years. With the 200,000 pouring across our southern border every month, we have record levels of illegal drugs (causing record number of overdoses in our country), human trafficking, and known terrorists…all as documented by government statistics. 

So with the above chaos in our country as a backdrop (and I could include more), with so many not facing any consequences for their crimes…Mark Houck, a man dedicated to ministry for his entire adult life, is treated like this, in front of his family. Just another example of how Christians and conservatives are treated totally differently than others in such circumstances. To be clear…Mark’s experience is further evidence of the weaponizing of the Department of Justice and FBI. Sad days in America. 

I have two suggestions in relation to Mark, in addition to reading the article above:

  1. Please consider donating to Mark and his family here
  2. Contact your Senator and Congressperson and express your outrage. Just do an internet search on how to contact them and it will come up. 

You may ask what all this has to do with our faith. Depending on your perspective, maybe it does or doesn’t. To me, enough is enough. I can’t believe this has happened to someone I know personally. We live in a country where our liberties and religious freedoms are openly under attack. Please join me in praying for our country and discerning how you can make a difference. We (including me) can no longer stand on the sidelines. 

As always, feel free to contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with comments, questions, concerns, challenges, 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

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

Categories
Weekly Blog

Letting Go of Your Resentments

Letting Go of Your Resentments

Most of us have had the experience of holding a grudge. Many are trapped and overwhelmed by the resulting resentment. If left unaddressed, resentment can consume us. Does this ring true to you?

For quite a while, I was overwhelmed by my wounds and resentments, almost in disbelief that these seeming “injustices” could have happened to me. I experienced a range of emotions and remember being angry and bitter almost on a constant basis. It was real. It was penetrating. And it hurt, sometimes almost physically. I felt very isolated, embarrassed to share the details with anyone.

Swallowing Poison and Waiting for the Other Person to Die

There’s a painfully true saying that “resenting someone else is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die”. In other words, when you harbor resentment, the only person it really hurts is you. Even if the other person knows of it and feels its repercussions, the impact on them pales in comparison to the impact on you.

There is no question that people wrong us, hurt us, sometimes very deeply, whether with malice or not. But when we let this fact get in the way of us living with peace and joy, we only hurt ourselves.

You Can Only Change Yourself

So how do we get out of habits of resentment and hurt? The fact is that the patterns of resentment that weigh us down are often rooted in the false belief that other people have to change in order for us to be happy. And this lie has roots in the lack of self-love suffered by most…if I believe that my whole worth is based on what other people think of me, then it stands to reason that I will resent people when they fail to love me.

Step #1

A first step in healing is moving past the idea that other people have to change. Remember, even when people treat you terribly and hurt you, that does not diminish your worth one bit. Because your worth is rooted in who you are (not in what you do or how you perform), you have the power to take responsibility for your own life, beginning with choosing to let go of resentment and hurt.

Step #2

An important second step has to do with our identity. Our tragedies, wounds, and set-backs are not to define us. When we allow our identity to get wrapped up in our hurts, it makes it difficult to surrender them, to experience healing, and to move on. As such, we need to understand our identity in Christ, each of us made by His Father, perfect in God’s image and likeness.

Step #3

Lastly, it was critical that I take ownership of my role in each of my painful circumstances, recognizing that I bore at least some responsibility for what had happened. It wasn’t until I started the challenging process of fixing myself, and yes forgiving myself, that I could humbly acknowledge my role, allowing me to also forgive others (which doesn’t mean condoning).

In doing all of the above, I let go of my resentments. How about you? What have you done or what are you prepared to do to have peace and joy in your life?

Please share your comments with me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com.

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

Mark Joseph

Categories
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