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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

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

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Weekly Blog

Why Share the Love of Christ?

In reading Scripture, the answer to the above is obvious. With all the things Jesus said while here on earth, two of the most impactful were the Great Commandments (Mark 12:29-31) and Great Commission, in summary…love God, love your neighbor, and share the Gospel message (love of Christ). I’d suggest that these weren’t mere suggestions from our Lord. He was specific.   

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus said before ascending to Heaven, 19 “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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Verse 20 gets less attention that 19. Jesus tells us, “behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”. Related, it’s my lived experience that the only path to peace, joy, and fulfillment is to say “yes” to Jesus. It’s what Jesus promises us in verse 20. 

Saying “yes” to Jesus means being His Disciple, a part of which is making other Disciples. The question is “how” do we do this. My first suggestion is to not hit people over the head with our Bibles. Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. We need to love them first, where they are, for who they are. 

We’ve all heard the merits of teaching a man to fish as opposed to feeding him a fish. Discipleship calls on us to teach others how to become teachers of teachers, i.e. Disciples making Disciples. To do so, we need to exercise humility: 

  • The discipleship relationship is not that of a doctor to a patient, teacher to a student, or even a Priest to a parishioner 
  • It is founded in a personal relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. 
  • The intent isn’t to mold versions of ourselves, but to help others be Disciples for Christ, to be like Jesus 

As St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. There are several elements to evangelizing:

  • Be prayerful – you can’t give away what you don’t have
  • Pray for those God puts in front of you
  • Build relationships with others – learn their stories so that you can share in a way that is relevant to them. 

Pope Paul VI stated, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”. We’re called to share our faith, which means sharing our story. We do so by sharing…

  • Your life before you recognized Christ as a meaningful part of it
  • How you came to know Jesus Christ (your conversion)
  • Your life in Christ, including the challenges
  • Make the invitation to others to join you on the journey

We hear of Peter and the other fishermen dropping their nets. Others leave behind their former lives to follow Jesus, which is the most important decision a person can ever make. Our call is to follow Jesus consciously and intentionally with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Once made, that decision should drive everything in your life. Once made, you have the opportunity for peace, joy, and fulfillment. 

Remember, being a Disciple includes making Disciples. If interested in a model that is engaging, effective, and free of charge, go to https://steubenvilleconferences.com/discipleship-quads/, or contact me. I’d be happy to share with you. 

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

Why You Beat Yourself Up

Last week, we talked about conditional love. My lived experience is that it creates in us a lack of self-love. In believing that we only receive love if we perform well and to the satisfaction of others, we don’t love or believe in ourselves when we don’t perform well. Not loving self then creates fear (next week’s subject), which prevents us from trying and doing things, using our God given talents, meeting our full potential.  

We believe that we have to perform well to be loved. Stated another way, we fear that if we don’t perform well, we won’t be loved. And at a fundamental level, we all want to be loved; we all want to be accepted. 

Related to lack of self-love, consider this – you do really well at something, then hearing ten compliments and one criticism. What is it you remember and concentrate on long after the occurrence? If you’re like most, it’s the criticism. You see flaws in yourself that you don’t see in others. We judge ourselves much more harshly than others. All of this is a result of lack of self-love, born of conditional love. 

Same Was True for Me

My lack of self-love resulted in me beating myself up on a regular basis. From the outside, I was this confident guy, who had it all together…nice family, good business, nice things, but I was crumbling inside. It was real….I had no peace or joy in my life. I was on that hamster wheel, exhausted, deflated, and frustrated. I was overwhelmed. 

We can beat ourselves up over past sins and past decisions, big or small. Both have been an issue for me. Taking the latter as an example, I remember making a business decision with significant financial impact. It turned out to be the wrong decision, with a dramatic negative result. I carried that burden with me for an incredibly long time, beating the “crap” out of myself regularly, i.e., daily, hourly. I couldn’t let it go. According to my therapist, referenced again below, it was stealing the energy from me to live a happy and fulfilled life. 

It Happens to All of Us

When writing my book, I wanted to vet the concepts. As such, I reached out to the Christian therapist who helped me so much on my journey….more on that later in this blog series. I said to her something like, “70-75% of people suffer from lack of self-love…right?” She scoffed at me, laughing. I’ll never forget it. I said, “what do you mean?” She then said, “try 95%+”. She then explained that based on her experience and research, that lack of self-love easily afflicts more than 95% of us”. Wow!!!

Here’s the Truth of the Situation 

Those closest to you, who truly love you, family and friends, could care less how you perform. They’re going to love you anyhow. And God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. He sent His only begotten Son to die on the Cross for your sins, dare I say your faults and failings. 

Life is messy, as we’ve discussed in this series so far. The mess is going to continue as we further unpack things over the next several weeks…before we get to the good stuff…the path to peace, joy, and fulfillment. Stay tuned. 

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