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

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

Remember….God made you for GREATNESS!!!


Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

What’s Really Meaningful? 

What do you read to inspire you? Or listen to? What inspires you? I love reading books about our faith and leadership, my favorite topics. I’m on the email distribution lists of my favorite authors. One of them, a great inspiration, is John O’Leary. A burn victim as a youth, John has mastered making lemonade out of lemons. You can find John’s books (great reads), blogs, and other products at

In his September 20th email, John told a story about a young girl he met at a burn camp for children. This courageous girl was burned years earlier, sustaining injuries similar to his, and had lost the fingers on her right hand. Because of that, she wore an oversized sweatshirt at camp to cover the scars on her arm and hide the extent of her injuries. John explains further below.

You don’t have to be a child to know sometimes it feels safer to simply hide scars.

At camp that day, I shared with the kids what I went through as a child and the gifts that came from it. I reminded them of the beauty of scars, the resiliency they possess, and ultimately, that they are being prepared for something bigger and better than they can currently fathom.

Afterwards, this beautiful girl approached in her sweatshirt. She stood in front of me, took a deep breath, then exhaled as she rolled up her sleeves for the first time that week. She then proudly lifted her scarred arm and hand.

You don’t have to be a child to know sometimes it’s liberating to honestly reveal your scars and embrace who you really are.

As we hugged goodbye at the end of that meeting, I told her we weren’t done being friends and the next time I was in her part of the state we were hanging out.

That’s how a few weeks later, at a little restaurant off the interstate, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with this brave girl. Her grandfather sat nearby as we visited about her experiences, what she had endured, the struggles she faced in recovery, the concerns she felt moving forward and the dreams she still had for her life. In other words, we had an awesome visit!

That interaction, with that young girl, reminded me it’s seldom in the massive events and huge gatherings where we change the world. It’s the regular moments, in unexpected spaces, with ordinary people that the best of our work and lives is revealed.

Too often, we race to what we thought was the real work, but it’s seldom found in the big stuff – the big trip, the big project, the big win. No, the best and most meaningful aspects of our lives are discovered in the seemingly ordinary experiences, tender moments of grace, and ordinary human interactions with others throughout the day.

If you want to read John’s post in total, you can read it in full here.

Not only does John’s story speak to the Great Commandments…love God and love others, but it’s the only Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!

As always, please feel free to contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless and remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph 

Weekly Blog

A Great Quote from Mr. Rogers

Who among us grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? I know many of my readers are from the Pittsburgh area, home of Fred Rogers. Even if you didn’t watch his show, which included Chef Brockett and Mr. McFeely, aka Speedy Delivery, most of us knew of him. Mr. Rogers was the creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001, as well as the host of all 895 episodes, the composer of its more than 200 songs, and the puppeteer who imagined 14 characters into being. Mr. Rogers was an icon who changed children’s television. 

Related to my source for the Mr. Rogers quote, I have a friend named Ed Blank, who spent 39 years as a drama and movie critic for the Pittsburgh newspapers and television stations. A Vietnam vet, I had lunch with Ed a few weeks ago. Now retired, the stories he told were absolutely enticing and included names like John Wayne, Johnny Cash, Carol Brunette, Burt Reynolds, and many more. I can’t wait to be with Ed again. 

During our lunch, Ed told me a story about Fred Rogers, who became a friend of his. He had overheard Fred say to someone, “remember, there is no such thing as a conflict-free life”. Ed later related that story back to Fred, who had no recollection of it. That didn’t mean it didn’t continue to have an impact on Ed, as it did me.  

“There is no such thing as a conflict-free life”. With the exception of “God loves you unconditionally”, there may not be a truer statement. Conflict can be national or international, like what’s going on in Afghanistan right now…an absolute and arguably avoidable mess. 

Most of the conflict we experience is more personal than global, taking place at home or work, with those we typically interact with most often. Like all other issues in life, the answer is in Scripture or taught by the Church. Related to how we are to handle conflict, check out Matthew 18:15-17. Added to what St. Matthew indicates, I would offer the following points. 


There is no such thing as a conflict-free life 

Consistent with Mr. Rogers as quoted by Ed, there is no such thing as a conflict-free life. If that’s your expectation, then you’re in for a hard time. Conflict is a part of life. We’d all do ourselves a favor in learning how to handle it. 


Although not all conflict is avoidable, much of it is

By establishing ground rules or expectations up front, so as to make sure there are no misunderstandings after the fact, can go a significant way in minimizing or eliminating conflict. Although not always possible or practical, I like to have things in writing. 


Conflict doesn’t have to be confrontational

Many people run from conflict because they think it automatically means confrontation. That is not true. Conflict done the right way is healthy. You could argue that you wouldn’t grow or become a better person without conflict. 


Attack the problem, not the person

Be empathetic. Nobody cares what you know until they know how much you care. You can’t be self-righteous and on-the-attack and expect a good outcome. Instead, be invested in resolution and agreement as opposed to being right. Two sayings that come to mind:

  • Hate the sin, not the sinner 
  • Love your neighbor as your self 


You can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it softly

Tone is so important. An elevated voice (or perception of one) makes people feel like they’re being attacked. No one responds well to that. Speak softly. Smile. Both go a long way. 


Communicate often and early

People don’t like to be surprised. Most are creatures of habit. Most people are planners, albeit sometimes only subconsciously. They don’t like to be left in the dark. They much prefer forewarning. Give people as much advance notice as possible and don’t be surprised by last minute things creating conflict.  


Identify to the other person your struggle with the situation

You may say something like, “You know, I’m not very comfortable bringing this topic up to you. The last thing I want to do is hurt your feelings or bring conflict between us. The truth is though, you’ve hurt my feelings. I’d love for you to help me talk through this. I’d like to understand what you really meant, in addition to sharing with you how I perceived it. I’m hopeful that we can resolve any issues between us. Are you willing to work through this with me?”


Do the above with those closest to you as well

Oftentimes with family (and very close friends), we fear conflict the most. I think that’s because we fear the risk of loss. We also have expectations and often unspoken agendas for those in our inner circle. As such, with emotion we react instead of respond. The suggestions above all work and arguably are most important for those so important to us. 


Thank you, Ed, for the story that prompted this blog. By extension, thank you to Mr. Rogers. Both men have stories steeped in life lessons for us.  

As always, please feel free to contact me at 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

Weekly Blog

What’s Your Deepest Desire?

What is your deepest desire? What do you want more than anything in your life? What disappoints you tremendously when you don’t experience it? And provides you with great joy when you do?

In doing a quick internet search, several sermons came up, with all indicating something like….”the deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God”. I humbly disagree…with a twist.

Think about this. What is it that you truly want more than anything in the world? {Drum roll please ?} That thing which we all universally want, more than anything, is to be loved and accepted…genuinely for “who” we are, not what we “do”. We want to be chosen, to be desired.  We want to feel special, to be affirmed. We want to be loved unconditionally, accepted for the people we truly are. No pretending. No facade. Just for our authentic selves.

The above is true, as reflected in studies and surveys. We want nothing more than to be unconditionally loved and accepted. From an authentic, personal, and emotional level, we want that love and acceptance from those in our lives…our parents, siblings, and spouses, our children, other relatives, friends, and colleagues.

Here’s the bad news…we’ll never get it…not unconditionally and not consistently. Conflicts will occur. Challenges will happen. Life is messy and we’re human. We’re imperfect sinners. As such, we can’t possibly provide one another regularly with what we so deeply desire.


Our Failed Attempts

I refer to the 4 Ps as prominence, possessions, pleasure, and people. With the last of the four not being able to satisfy as indicated above, we go to the first three. But as Johnny Lee sings, we are “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”. The fact is that none of these things will ever satisfy us, never fill the God sized hole in the center of our chests.

I said above, “I humbly disagree…with a twist”. My disagreement is that I don’t believe we care where that unconditional love comes from. We just want it. As it occurs (here’s the twist), the ONLY place it can come from is God. In my view, consistent with the sermons sited above, the ONLY thing that will satisfy your deepest desire is you understanding and internalizing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.

God loves you more than you’ll ever know, no matter what you’ve ever done. You’ve been chosen by God. Made in His image and likeness, you’re a beloved child of God, who loves you unconditionally. He made you with special and unique gifts and talents. God put you on this earth with a purpose. God loves you and made you for greatness. Know that truth and live a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment!!!

As always, please feel free to contact me at 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