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Is Satan Real?

My wife (Cyndi) and I just watched the movie, Let Him Go, where Kevin Costner (George) and Diane Lane (Margaret) play parents to their son who dies in a horse accident. Their widowed daughter-in-law (Lorna) remarries to what turns out be an abusive husband. Prior to the new couple moving out of town without telling anyone, Margaret witnesses the abuse levied on her 3-yearold grandson (Jimmy) and her daughter-in-law.

Set in the early 1960s, the grandparents leave their Montana home for North Dakota to find their grandson. What they found was not only startling to them, but to the viewer (Cyndi and me included). Lorna’s new mother-in-law, Blanch, is an absolute “witch”. In fact, that word can’t begin to describe how evil this woman is. A more appropriate word would be Satan.

Blanch, incredibly controlling, had her grown sons under her spell, all complicit in her evil. Although dark, it’s a compelling movie, where good prevails over evil, where one sacrifices his life to save others, while stepping on the head of Satan. Sound familiar?

The next morning, I said to Cyndi in referencing the movie, “you know, there are truly evil people in this world”. It’s not difficult to identify them, i.e. ISIS fighters, numerous foreign dictators who oppress their people, even those in our country who commit violent and/or deviant crimes, especially to the young. As I’ve indicated in previous blogs, as Christians we believe that abortion is an intrinsic evil as well.

We can see Satan in the examples above. For those who don’t think about it, Satan is clearly active in our world. In last week’s post, I indicated that we are all beloved children of God. Although it can be difficult to understand, so are those who commit such atrocities. Given their free will, they’ve turned their back on God and choose evil instead. Related to heaven or hell, again God allows our free will to determine our ultimate destination.

Is Satan real to you?

Does your spirituality include consideration of the evil one? I never gave it much consideration prior to my conversion, but since there are times that I’ve felt under attack by Satan. And I certainly see the work of Satan in our world.

The above isn’t meant to scare you, but to identify the role of Satan in our lives. We know there is good and evil in our world. We also know that Jesus Christ was brutally crucified, enduring a torturous death, to conquer sin, to provide us with a path to salvation. He loves us that much. God the Father loves us that much, sacrificing His only begotten Son so that we can have the opportunity for eternal life.

Fear, anxiety, anger, violence, division, abuse (and many more) are the work of Satan. It’s only in knowing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that:

  • The unimaginable is achievable
  • There can be Heaven here on earth
  • You can be on a distinct path to peace, joy, and fulfillment

As always, 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

 

 

 

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Weekly Blog

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner

I’m assuming (I know what “assume” means (past post)…I think I’m safe here) that many of us have heard before, “Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner”. That doesn’t mean that we live it…certainly not all the time. I don’t and often it’s a struggle.

I remember living through my first wife’s addiction, confessing to my therapist that there were times when I literally hated her (that’s probably shocking to read). Given the family dysfunction related to addiction, the disease was killing her and it was killing me, emotionally and physically (stress, weight loss, headaches). Gratified to hear that my feelings were normal didn’t mean that they were acceptable. Having heard the expression previously, it was the first time I really began to understand “hate the sin, not the sinner”.

We touched on these concepts last week, siting from Scripture…“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Another Scripture verse that speaks to this issue is where Peter asks how often he is to forgive. Jesus responds to him in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you even seven times, but even seventy times seven times”.

All of these verses speak to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. As I’ve learned, one of the tricks is to not assume malice. Most often, when someone does something that upsets you, they’ve not done it to intentionally make you mad. It helps to have an attitude of understanding, believing that the other person wasn’t intentionally wanting to hurt you, then trying to work it out. BTW, all of this is easier said than done. It really takes practice.

My experience would indicate that there’s another factor in all of this, that is the complicity that we may have in the conflict. How have our actions added to the dilemma? What role have we played? How does how we feel about ourselves contribute to the reaction we’ve had? All questions I’ve had to ask myself as I mature in life and in my faith.

Let’s consider a more global issue, i.e. abortion. As Christians, I’m hopeful that we can all agree that it is an intrinsic evil, as identified by the teachings of the Church and documented by the Unite States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I’m not getting political here…I promise.

Related, I just saw a post indicating that a group of protesters interrupted a Mass being celebrated by Bishop Brennan at St. Joseph Cathedral, in the Diocese of Columbus, on January 22. The US Catholic Church had made this day, the 48th anniversary of abortion becoming legal in the US, “A Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”.

The protestors were parading through the Church with signs during the Mass. As expressed to a friend, I can’t imagine the audacity in this act, just like I can’t understand the riots, looting, or violence in our Capitol nor any city in our country.

With the significant political and cultural divide in our country (promise…I’m not getting political), the vitriol from all sides is at a fever pitch, really I believe, unprecedented in our history. We are seeing a lot of “hate the sinner”.

As Christians, we need to be better than this, abiding by Matthew 7:12 and 18:22, as well as Mark 12:31. We need to recognize that ALL OF US are beloved children of God. We’re also all sinners, each and every one of us. Another verse I’m reminded of here is when Jesus says, “how can you see the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the board in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).

It may be easy to hate the protesters sited above. I get it and I’m guilty of it. Their actions, like those in our Capitol and other cities, are reprehensible. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do. And the reality is that hating them isn’t going to change them, nor our world.

Lastly, related to our potential complicity, with of all things…abortion, think of this. Assuming we’re all pro-life, are we doing anything to support that belief? Do we talk to our kids and others about the issue; do we support the pro-life movement…with our time, talent, or treasures; do we pray for the unborn…and all life; do we pray for the precious aborted babies, or those who support or participate in the abortion industry?

I’d encourage all of us to try very hard to “hate the sin, not the sinner”. It’s the only way we’re going to change hearts and change our world. I’d also suggest that we examine our role in all things. And always, for guidance and as our greatest example, go to Jesus.

As always, please 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!!!

Always remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

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Weekly Blog

What We Can’t See

This April 25th, the Feast Day of St. Mark, it will be three years since I began doing this weekly blog. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve missed a week. Prior to launch, I did something like 20 blogs and had them in the “can” (my wife loves kidding me when I use that term). For the longest time now, I’ve been writing weekly. Each blog takes me 1-2 hours, followed by Mary Kate, my editor and designer, doing her thing prior to posting.

As you know, I often base the content on current events, then tying it back to our faith. Or I might write on a topic specific to my book or something on my heart based on what’s going on in my life.

Well, I started thinking about a topic for this blog mid-week, wrestled with some ideas this past Saturday, then spent 4 hours on Sunday…before scrapping what I had done.

I felt called to write about the Trump rally and events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. I included commentary on CNN trying to get FOX News thrown off the air and Apple, Amazon, and Google shutting down Parler, one of the very few politically agnostic social media platforms, where they allow for free expression, without risk of being “deplatformed” or censored.

Lastly, I wrote a piece on an excellent book I just read, where Dr. Ralph Martin did an incredible job of laying out many challenges of our modern-day Church in, “A Church in Crisis: Pathways Forward”. I highly recommend it…you can get it at  https://stpaulcenter.com/product/a-church-in-crisis-pathways-forward/. My plan was to tie all of the above to the concept of “truth”, in the secular world, then noting the required albeit not always achieved, leadership role of the Church.

 

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Then it blew up on me. Sickened by the vitriol that exists on social media (I shut it down several weeks ago), from our politicians, and on the news (I watch much less than I used to), I couldn’t figure out how to address the real issues without offending some. And I guess that’s the point of this blog. We used to live in a country where there was a free exchange of ideas, where we debated the issues as opposed to attacking one another’s character. You may have heard, “hate the sin, not the sinner”.

The above doesn’t exist today. Instead, we have “cancel culture” and censorship. To be honest, I’m mad and I’m sad. I can’t believe we are the country we have become. Why are we so divided? I’ve been paying close attention to Presidential politics since Ronald Reagan and we’ve never seen anything like this. It all seems to center around Donald Trump.

I know why our political elite hate Donald Trump. He’s gotten in the way of their power and greed. He was disrupting the welfare (Democrat) and warfare (Republican) states. I just don’t understand why the hate by so many others. Even if you strongly disagree with all his policies, why all the tremendous hate? The absolute disgust…that has resulted in the most toxic of environments? I had a lot of hate in me at one time in my life. It’s not a healthy place to be.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It’s been amazing and sad to watch. I don’t know how we’re going to recover. I do know this. My faith has never been more important to me. I’m committed to clinging to the Cross, the teachings of the Church and that in Holy Scripture. I’m going to double down on my prayer life, continuing to include those who disagree with me. I’m going to concentrate on living my faith the best I can, which means loving my wife and kids and all those who Jesus puts in my path.

I hope you’ll do what I just described above. Let’s all pray for our country and its leaders. They certainly need it.

As always, please 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!!!!
Always remember…you were made for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph

 

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Weekly Blog

Serenity Now

My favorite sitcom of all time is Seinfeld. My wife and I continue to watch the occasional rerun. I think it’s the greatest writing in the history of television. The cast was second to none. I once heard that part of the brilliance of the show was Jerry Seinfeld’s insistence that all of his costars share in getting the funny lines and the meaningful scenes….they weren’t just reserved for him.

One such example was George’s father, Frank Costanza, as part of one of his many crazed scenes over the sitcom’s history. He screamed, “serenity now, serenity now”.

Although I posted on “serenity” March 27th, 2019 (in a much shorter blog), it came to mind this past week. I don’t know about you, but given what’s going on in our country, as exemplified by the election, I feel like screaming, “serenity now!!!”


Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

Dictionary.com defines serenity as the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil. Serenity, synonymous with “peace” is important. I’d suggest praying the Serenity Prayer regularly in your life. I do. As identified previously in my posts, it is one of five rote prayers I say every morning. I say each very slowly, hanging on and praying through every word. I’d invite you to do the same.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely joyful with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

The breakdown of the above is as follows:

  • The first four lines ask for God’s help in maintaining the serenity within us, distinguishing between what we can control and not, then giving us the courage to take action.
  • The second part of the prayer is a recipe for how we ought to live our lives, such that we can experience happiness here on earth and joy thereafter.

You may feel compelled to act, given what’s transpiring in our country. Or it might be something else in your life that you need to discern. Pray the Serenity Prayer. It helps me…it can help you too.

 As always, feel free to reach out to me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com, with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests. I’m here to help…seriously!!!

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

Mark Joseph