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

Categories
Weekly Blog

How Did We Get Here? 

We’re living in a time where things are different. They’ve changed pretty dramatically, in a relatively short period of time…roughly 18-24 months. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left or right, whatever your political affiliation, the truth is that life in America is different. 

If like me, you’ve thought to yourself, “How did we get here? What happened and how so quickly?”  

You’ve heard me say before (or read in my posts) that all the answers to life can be found in Scripture and are taught by the Church. We can point to teachings of the Church as to insights in how things ought to be…as opposed to how they currently are or where we’re apparently heading.  

Governance

Chapter 2, Article 1 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) addresses The Person and Society, the role of government as related to the individual. Two paragraphs that make the primary points include:

  • CCC 1881 – Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but “the human person is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.
  • CCC 1883 – Socialization presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, i.e. family, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.

Personal Decision Making

Our judgement, given our moral conscience, is spelled out succinctly as follows: 

  • CCC Paragraph 1776 – “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”
  • CCC Paragraph 1782 – Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

What is Truth? 

Truth is not relative, as expressed below:

  • CCC Paragraph 2467 – Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons . . . are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.”262
  • CCC Paragraph 2469 – “Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another.”263 The virtue of truth gives another his just due. Truthfulness keeps to the just mean between what ought to be expressed and what ought to be kept secret: it entails honesty and discretion. In justice, “as a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.”

In contrast to what the Church teaches, in our country (and our world) today, the truth is often blurred, if not dismissed. Many in power don’t want to allow us to exercise our conscience. And governance has little to do with what is good for the people, but instead is all about power, money, and control. 

I just started reading a book (I’ll share the title later should I think it’s worth recommending), where the author does a “bait and switch”. The premise of the book is the crises we’re currently experiencing. He then points to the primary crisis as lack of faith in our culture today…fewer Godly people.  

He’s right. If we had more Godly people, we wouldn’t be here. If we had more followers of Christ, who were adhering to the teachings of the Church, it wouldn’t be like this. 

Here’s the issue. Nobody cares what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or Scripture or taught otherwise by the Church) if they don’t know the love of Christ. There are things we can be doing to change things in our country, should we desire. As Christians, I’d suggest we begin with the Great Commandments and Great Commission…love God, love our neighbors, and share our faith…the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. If more people knew these “truths”, we wouldn’t be here.  

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 

Categories
Weekly Blog

What Leaders Have to Protect Against Most

I believe strongly that any organization unwilling to reach outside itself will die. The same can be said for an organization’s leaders. Related…although I am absolutely committed to Catholicism, I believe that north of 90% of what all Christians believe we have in common. These two things in combination lead me to Reverend Rick Warren, Founder and Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA.  

My wife and I have visited Saddleback, attended Sunday service (experiencing hospitality that you wouldn’t believe), and met with Saddleback’s Pastor of Small Groups. Again, absolutely committed to our Catholic faith, I/we can be learning from others. 

The above is a preface to a blog Pastor Rick recently wrote on “pride” and how destructive it can be. Paraphrased below, you can access the blog here.

Leaders can often become their own biggest obstacle. When they start to see fruitfulness, they may be tempted to make everything about themselves. This is pride. The Bible says it’s the root of every other sin.

Pride leads to conflict, prevents growth, leads to anxiety, and angers God. The opposite of pride is humility. That’s one characteristic we want and need to develop. Leading is a heavy responsibility. We cannot do it without God’s help. 

Humility is a choice. It is something we do to ourselves. So how do we develop it in our lives? Start with these five steps.

Admit your sins honestly.

We all sin, but the Bible is clear that God is ready to forgive us. Proverbs 28:13 says, “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance”. God gives second chances (and third, fourth, and hundredth chances) to the humble.

Evaluate your strengths realistically.

You’ve probably heard the saying—maybe from your own parents—that you can be anything you want to be. But it’s not true. If you don’t have the talent for a particular role, you won’t be able to do it. 

To deal with pride in your life, you need to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. The Bible says, “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3). Pride is based on a false image of ourselves. Humility is based on a true and realistic image. Humility is being honest about both your strengths and weaknesses.

Enjoy your success gratefully. 

Remind yourself daily of two pride-busting truths. First, everything we have is a gift from God. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you?”.

The truth is, we wouldn’t even have breath if God hadn’t given it to us. Anything God does through you isn’t about you. It’s about Him. Everything you achieve is about Him. 

Second, one day we will give an account before God for what we did with what He gave us. It’s hard to be prideful when you realize that one day every one of your secrets will be exposed. It’s a humbling realization.

Serve others unselfishly.

The greatest antidote to pride is to give yourself away by helping others. It’s the only way to live more happily and humbly. 

The Bible teaches: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. We need to get so busy serving others that we don’t have time for our own gripes and complaints. 

Depend on Jesus continually.

Depending on God is how we express humility. In fact, dependence is the heart of humility. God didn’t design us to be independent—but dependent on Him. Stress often comes from taking upon ourselves what we were never intended to do. 

You’ll never get rid of all the stress in your life, but you can depend upon God for the ultimate outcome. Your circumstances don’t have to determine your response. The Bible promises great blessings when we are humble and depend on God. Proverbs 22:4 says, “Respecting the Lord and not being proud will bring you wealth, honor, and life”.

Outwardly, you may be an extremely successful leader. But your success is not about you—it’s about what God will do through you. 

Thank you, Rev. Rick. Great stuff!!! I read Rev. Rick’s posts regularly. You can get them and other resources at https://pastors.com. Let’s learn together.  

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!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

Categories
Weekly Blog

The Recipe for Forgiveness

Do you have trouble forgiving others? Forgiving yourself? Do you hold resentments? The fact is that ongoing conflict with others is one of the primary impediments to peace in our lives. 

In last week’s blog, I cited Reverend Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Although I don’t intend to make a long-term habit of it, I’m doing so again here. Rev. Rick has a great formula for forgiveness. Paraphrased below, you can get the full post here.

As per Rev. Rick, when you find yourself in the midst of conflict, here’s a simple five-step, biblical path to peace.

PLAN a peace meeting. (Matthew 5:24)

Take the initiative. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. It doesn’t matter if you’re the offended or the offender. It’s always your move. Take the initiative because Jesus said so. Plus, it shows that you’re more mature.

You will never resolve conflict accidentally. You must intentionally deal with it or it will never go away. In Matthew 5:24, Jesus emphasizes that you’re to begin this process “at once” . It’ll get harder the longer you wait.

EMPATHIZE with their feelings. (Philippians 5:24)

Once you begin the peace meeting, start with the other person’s pain. You’re usually thinking of your own hurts when you’re upset. You need to do the opposite. Think more about the other person than yourself. Try to understand the pain behind their angry words. Ask yourself, “How can I help the other person?”

One benefit of conflict is that it usually leads to greater intimacy in the relationship because it helps you better understand the other person as you empathize with their pain.

ATTACK the problem, not the person. (Proverbs 15:1)

You can’t focus on fixing the problem and fixing the blame at the same time. If you go to the peace meeting thinking you’ll blame the other person, then forget it. You can’t make peace like that. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up”.

Engage your mind before you engage your mouth. Then say helpful words, not ones that tear the other person down. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, use “only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed”.

COOPERATE as much as possible. (Romans 12:18)

Be a bridge-builder and not a bridge-destroyer. In Romans 12:18, the Bible reminds us to live at peace with everyone, as much as possible. Your ability to get along should be a hallmark of your Christian life.

That means you must be willing to pay the cost. Peacemaking always has a cost. It will cost your ego and selfishness. You’ll need to give up your desire to always be right. And when you do, you’ll begin to build bridges.

EMPHASIZE reconciliation, not resolution. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Reconciliation doesn’t mean you’ll resolve all the problems in your relationship. It simply means to reestablish the relationship. Often you have legitimate differences in your relationships and will never fully resolve them. Reconciliation means you bury the hatchet, not the issue. You keep talking about it, but you talk about it harmoniously. 

Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, not the problem.

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that God has modeled reconciliation for us. When you work to reconcile your relationships, you’re doing what God has already done in your relationship with Him. Working toward reconciliation is the most Christlike thing you can do.

You can become a peacemaker in your home, in your organization, and in your community. The Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). 

You’ll notice that the first letter of the above steps create the acronym PEACE. I love how Rev. Rick always references Scripture. It’s a great reminder that all of life’s lessons can be found in the Bible and are taught by the Church. As indicated last week, you can find Rev. Rick at https://pastors.com

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!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph