Monday, November 17, 2014

God is Everywhere

Friends of Faith:

“‘Tis the season” where we remind our children: “Be good, Santa’s watching.” Or, “you know, Santa can see when you are mean to your sister or brother, or when you don’t pick up your toys.”

It struck me that while Santa may see many things, as adults we have someone much more important to answer to than Santa. Santa may know if I have been naughty or nice, but it is God who knows what is in my heart and it is God who gives us the eternal gift, life everlasting.
And while Santa may have more than one set of eyes through us as parents; God, as the supreme parent, needs no eyes, and yet He can see everything, everywhere.

I recently heard a Christian business owner talking about what might correct the faults within the business economy, he said: “nothing in this world will change as long as we obey man’s laws” – and then he pulled out a piece of worn paper from his pocket and said: “this is the only thing that will change our outcomes – obeying God’s commandments.”

He proceeded to read:  I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain ….  You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Ex 20: 1-17‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great­est and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two com­mandments’” (Mt 22:37-40).

(“Have I treated people, events, or things as more important than God? Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people? Have I harmed another through physical, verbal, or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind? Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself? Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another? Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another? Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I com­pare myself to others unnecessarily?”—USCCB exam of conscience)
Wouldn’t this world, our economy, businesses and relationships be different if we all obeyed these commands?

And it made me immediately think of Father Larry Richards in one of his talks with the comment that “not many of us ever confess to doing something against the very first commandment—that our “strange gods” are not statutes and idols as they were in the Old Testament, but rather that our gods have become the greed of materialism.” Exactly the reason the business owner reminded himself each morning before he started work, that his JOB wasn’t about money, but about serving others and about acting towards others as if they were the Samaritan who was ignored, or the sinners who were made first through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

So regardless of what my “job” is today or tomorrow it is important that I remind myself that God is everywhere and that God is supposed to be in charge of my work, that there is no “one,” no “thing,” and no event more important than fully loving, fully serving and fully knowing him. And that every choice I make should be directed to the choice of Jesus—to know, love and serve others.

So much more concerning than Santa knowing if I have been naughty or nice…. is that God knows my heart and as an adult I have a much higher standard to live up to than do our children and that includes teaching our children what it is that is truly important – God’s laws, not man’s.

Heavenly Father, You command goodness and give us your unconditional love. Help me to strive to behave in the manner in which you created me – willing to obey You, willing to serve others, and willing to be satisfied with all you have given me. Thank you for the constant reminders that you are everywhere. Help me to keep my eyes and ears open to your word. Purify my heart so that even when I fail, I will never be afraid to return to the love of your waiting arms. Amen.

So the reminder that children are to be good for Santa is also our reminder that we are to answer to the God who is everywhere,
Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Spirit Alive

Friends of Faith:

It seems appropriate that we gained an hour yesterday – an extra hour as nature changes seasons to allow ourselves time to adjust to a new temperature and climate—to remain naturally alive.
I often wonder what would happen if we truly allowed ourselves to live and change in our daily lives as nature does: if we more closely followed God’s design for life – coming to life, living fully, winding down and sleeping—morning, noon, evening and night—spring, summer, fall and winter— birth, childhood, adulthood and death.

It is human to want to take control of nature, to try to form it into some fashion that better suits my own purpose. Instead I should daily pray that God will be and remain my controlling force so that I will do his will rather than my own.
The recent Synod on the Family allowed us to see the Church alive—as it educated itself and sought wisdom and understanding within God’s nature. ‘The work of the synod focused on “the desire to strengthen and reinvigorate the pastoral practice of the church.”’ Its purpose is not and was not to change Church teaching, but to brainstorm Christ’s message in today’s current culture and to find ways to better evangelize Christ’s message to all.

The Synod showed that the Church does not sleep but remains vigilant and alive to protect us within a world of individualism, materialism and relativism, while understanding Christ’s message of healing and mercy for each of us in our human sin and weakness. synodonfamily.wordpress.com
Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night….For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. 1 Thes 5: 1-11

I have heard lately the terms “pagans in the pews” and“spirits outside the doors of the Church.” This is what each of us could become if we do not stay “fully alive” by seeking education and constant conversion from Scripture and His Church, from never going into or beyond the church door. It is not enough to just say we are Christian, it is not enough to go to church only when we can or only when we “have to,” and it is not enough to just soak it in without any intention to live it and share it, because Christ calls us to be more – to be Spirit Alive!
As Paul taught the early Christians we are to remain vigilant and ready. While nature may seem to want to let us go to sleep, even in rest there is a restoration and growth. Faith, conversion and evangelization should never fall completely asleep and just like the Synod of Bishops we too should instead seek continuous education for a deeper understanding of Christ’s message through His Church’s teaching of that message.

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. Amen
And I offer an additional prayer for each of us as we participate by voting tomorrow:

Heavenly Father, May we abide by your control, forming our conscience not for our own benefits but for yours, and for the greatest good of all those around us—protecting every life and seeking liberty, not necessarily equality, but dignity for all. May those we elect strive to do your will not theirs, to strive for truth and peace so that justice may be given freely to all. Amen.
May I not be complacent in my faith, but rather seek further learning and understanding in His name,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wisdom of Age

Friends of Faith:
Wisdom of age says to “Know Him, Love Him and Serve Him.”

Marriage is the core reflection of God’s wisdom because He created marriage with a purpose to unify and procreate—to know each other, to love each other and to serve each other within a family.

Beyond this core are all other relationships – especially those of our neighbors and the “stranger.”

The wisdom of God is handed to us through Scripture and the 2014 years we have known Christ in our world.
 

So I found it interesting how the wisdom of 153 years of marriage (4 couples) without planning and yet profoundly developed the same theme in our Date Night panel discussion last night for our relationships—to know, love and serve each other in marriage.

The parallels from the following 6 wisdom of age “pointers” tie directly tied to our personal relationship with Christ – to know, love and serve each other AND Him.
1)Life isn’t about me – life is about we! When we marry we can no longer think just about doing something for ourselves, but rather if we are going to strengthen and build our relationship we need to make each decision based on the WE – how will this decision impact us, and how this decision serves our mutual purpose and each other. Likewise if we truly believe in Christ’s presence in our lives, then we will make our decisions based on how it impacts our relationship with Him—making our decisions based on Him, loving one another as he loved us.

2)Make Time for Each Other: You don’t build a bond with someone without taking time to be with them, physically, mentally and spiritually, so take and make time to continue to date your spouse for a lifetime. Likewise if we don’t make time for Christ for a LIFETIME then at some point our relationship with Him will falter. How much quality time do we spend with our spouse? And is spending time with God a priority?

3)Know Them—Communication and Education: In any relationship, but especially in marriage, we need to learn what matters, what impacts, and what is important to our spouse through continuing education and constant communication. By paying attention to details we learn what is important to each other because it probably isn’t the same as what is important to us because of male female differences and our life experiences. Likewise we need to grow comfortable with Christ to build a lasting relationship with Him. If we don’t know what He/She/They/Christ wants and needs from us then serving and loving them/Him is almost impossible. Knowing, loving and serving our spouse will bring us peace and joy, just as knowing, loving and serving Christ brings peace and joy to the world.

4)Let God lead you: Prayer for and trust of the circumstances God places us in. Marriage mirrors and strengthens our bond with God because it is the very bond that God initiated in Genesis to teach us about His love for us. When our faith is our stronghold then we are allowing God to take charge of our lives and through him all things are possible. Do you value the opinion of your spouse? Does God lead you in prayer together?

5)Expect Good: Too many times we blame, don’t take responsibility, or forget the reasons and purpose of our marriage. Likewise it can be in our faith or lack of it. We may blame God for our circumstances instead of looking to Him to help us make our choices in life. We can try to do marriage and life on our own, but without God our focus will become blocked by life’s circumstances instead of revealing to us the beauty God has created. If we have faith in God and accept Him and His creation as good, then he must have a purpose for the spouse and family He has given us.

6)Support of Others: Every couple who spoke of hard times in their relationships (illness, broken dreams, accidents) spoke of the faith and family communities who supported them and made those difficult times not only bearable, but true learning and enriching experiences. That is what Church is all about – a community of support—of knowing, loving and SERVING each other.

"Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” 1 Thes 1: 1-5

Heavenly Father Your wisdom is beyond all ages. Grant us Your mercy when we fail to know You, love You and serve You, especially when we fail to know, love and serve you through our spouse . Give us wisdom to learn through our marriages and our relationships the reasons for which you have created us. Thank you for the blessings of the bonds of marriage, family and the Church who You created as our community of support. Amen.

God is all knowing so it makes sense that He would teach us about Himself through others. Allow us to show our love for Him by the way we know, love and serve others.

Reflect upon what the wisdom of all age looks like—know him, love him, serve him,
Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com

Monday, October 13, 2014

God's Glorious Reminders

Friends of Faith:
There are those things which I see occasionally, but which from one time to the next I fail to remember the meaning of the beauty of the glory. This week was one of those occasions when the Harvest Moon appeared. I know it appears in spectacular glory every year, but I needed to be reminded that God made the seasons so that when it is our time we will see and reap the harvest of what we have planted.

In a similar context, how often do we pray the Our Father? I say it every day, most days more than once. And yet this week when it was a part of the daily scripture at mass it felt like a new prayer.

“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” Lk 11: 1-4

It was a reminder that I am called to pray AND to forgive: To ask daily and to forgive everyone.  And that same passage continues:

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Lk 11: 5-13

And like the harvest moon, I will reap what I have sowed. I will receive that which I have asked for. If I seek things of this earth, I will receive things of this earth. BUT if I seek things of God, I will receive things of God.

So what is it I want? What is it that I ask for, that I seek? And am I an example to others, am I asking for what I want or is God just supposed to know it because I think it? Have I really opened the door of my heart by giving and forgiving others AS he forgives me—70 x 7—without limit, without boundaries, doing for EVERYONE what he has done for me?

Heavenly Father, You continue to show me the beauty of Your glory. Help me to see Your glory and to put the beauty of the glory which is all around me into Your context. Thank you for your glorious reminders to love and serve. Thank you for Your forgiveness. May I ask and seek so that instead of receiving and finding what I think should be mine I instead receive and find what is yours.  And help me to knock daily so that I may remain filled by your beauty. Amen.

Ask and you will receive. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Knock and the door will be opened. Jesus is waiting for your Prayer, your heart, and your will – so that His will may be done,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, October 6, 2014

God's Turntable

Friends of Faith:
I find it interesting how “all roads lead” to a destination, and while some weeks it feels like I am on a turntable, I find that with God’s gift of grace no matter which road I decide to take, God keeps pointing me to the same destination. Call it coincidence or God’s providence, in either way I believe God’s hand is definitely at work if I choose to pay attention to Him.

I know though that I can let obstacles get in the way and get tired out by being on a turntable which is spinning uncontrollably or I can make the choice to realize God’s hand and allow Him to steer me to the destination of His desire.

And I believe this to be the case not just for those of us who actively know and listen to him, but for those who either only have some knowledge of him or for those who have never even heard of him because for them he asks us (His faithful) to be His missionaries and guides.

I started the morning with a quote sent to me regarding the Synod of Families taking place in Rome this week to formulate the Church’s formal response to issues facing families today. And then I went to today’s first reading which is from Galatians.

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Gal 1: 11-12

"If we assume His way of thinking, of living and of relating to others, we will not tire of translating the Synodal works into guidelines and courses for the pastoral on the person and on the family." (Pope Francis homily 10/4/14 to open the Synod of Families in Rome)

“Brothers and sisters: I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!” Gal 1: 6-8

Stan and I often talk about the ruts we get in, how we can be led astray, where like the movie “Ground Hog’s Day” the same problems and stumbling blocks seem to keep getting in the way day after day. And like the turntable we don’t seem to be able to change enough to get off.

And that what seems to put one person into an unchangeable “awful” situation with the turntable spinning faster and faster out of control, for another person with a very similar situation there becomes an opportunity and a change which converts their life overnight spinning them off of the turntable and directly into God’s waiting hands.

Life is a turntable of choices, opportunities and obstacles. How fast or hard or even how difficult the turntable spins depends on whether we recognize God’s presence and intentions for us, and whether we allow God to join us on our journey. It depends on our willingness to allow Him to steer and our readiness to make a leap of faith by jumping off into His waiting arms.

It means that we must choose to think, live and relate to others not in human standards but in the untiring standards set by God: for His way is not our way.

Heavenly Father, you have chosen us as your people. Help us to choose You as our God and to push aside those who try to pervert Your word and Christ’s deed which are meant to guide us. Help us to see only You when the turntable is spinning out of control. Thank you for giving me the perseverance not to tire of searching for Your heavenly destination. Amen.

If we choose to make our turntable God’s then His hand will guide it, slow it, even stop it on occasion. You will not tire if you assume His way of thinking, of living and of relating to others.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, September 29, 2014

Centered

Friends of Faith:

I know there are certain things that I do regularly (pray, go to church, and serve others) which give me a sense of joy, a sense of freedom and even a sense of accomplishment. But I also know my intention and goal to do these simple things more often, to say yes to God’s call, is often followed by the realization a couple of days later that I have fallen short of my promises and my goals.

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him." Mt 21: 28-32

But yet even the tax collector and the prostitute were able to make lasting changes that allowed them to enter the kingdom of heaven.

So what attitudes are central to a believer’s life and what commitment to change brings about those attitudes and simple yet practical changes?

Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. Phil 2: 1-5

Yesterday Father suggested these 6 attitudes, goals and questions to accomplish our “yes” goals:
1)       Love the Word of God. Pray one verse daily. If God’s word isn’t the center of my life, who’s word is?
2)       Sacraments. Encounter Christ’s presence often. If God’s presence isn’t central to my life, than the only other possible center is me, myself, and I.
3)      Worship. Spend time with God regularly. Going to Church on Sunday isn’t enough, keeping holy the Sabbath means more. Doing what is right is not always convenient, but to do God’s will even when we don’t “feel like it” means that I have made God bigger than me. Is God’s will central to my decision making? For if I do not DO the WILL of God, who’s will am I doing?
4)     Stewardship. God has given us the gift of life and the gift of time. Do we give thanks to God for being able to breath and for having the time to see his creation? How much do I have that I take for granted? Do I thank God for life, and God’s “stuff” or am I constantly seeking more of the world’s stuff?
5)     Prayer is listening to God. God may hit me over the head with fire and wind, but more often he is a whisper I need to listen in the silence for. We live in a noisy world that constantly tries to get our attention and if I am not listening regularly to God it probably means I am listening to the world.
6)     Baptism is the doorway to grace. Do I keep the door of my heart open to His grace? Do I see the choice to choose God’s way as a burden or as an opportunity? Not all of life’s journey will be easy or without sacrifice – even Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross in answering yes to God. Is my yes to serving God bigger than my yes to serving myself?

If God isn’t bigger than us, than that means we have made ourselves bigger than God. Will I say yes to God and am I willing to make the commitment to change for Him?

Heavenly Father, You are bigger than life itself. I know you should be the center of my life in everything I choose to do, to see and to be. Help me to hear you, yearn for you, listen for you, spend time with you and give back to you. Thank you for ALL You have given me. Help me to choose to see that it is enough. Amen.

So why am I excited to give and to share the center of my life with others? Because I said yes to making God my center!
May you center your life on His word, His creation and His presence.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, September 15, 2014

Winning the Race

 Friends of Faith:

Are you winning the race? Whether we realize it or not, we all have goals that we are working towards or training for – whether the race is as simple as teaching a child how to tie their shoes, or as difficult as losing 10 pounds or running a marathon—by our nature we work towards, and for, higher and higher goals and achievements. And we teach and have been taught to set our goals high, to have winning attitudes.

But how high are our goals really? Are our goals continually increasing (like teaching that child to read, fitting back into your wedding dress, or competing in a triathlon) or are they truly imperishable?

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor 9: 22-27

Unlike the goals we set here on earth where there is either only one winner or the goals keep getting greater, the goal designed for us by God is imperishable and meant for all to reach. There is nothing greater than a win in, for, and through Him.

Unfortunately though, many of us only set goals which are the touchable earthly goals of keeping up with the Jones’s or getting our kids to the top of some competitive sporting event. We focus on doing what will get us ahead on earth and forget about what God’s eternal design is for us—to love, honor and serve Him.

I find myself concerned with scheduling and planning my attendance at the next meeting, when I will have an opportunity to meet someone with notoriety, where I will eat the next meal and what I will see on my next trip out of town instead of on who needs my assistance, when I will let myself sit in silent prayer, or who is waiting for an invitation to come worship with me.

So the next time you find yourself competing, or encouraging your child to compete, or reaching to keep up with the Jones’s ask yourself: “What race am I running in?” “Is this “goal” God’s or mine?” “Will this competition allow someone else to experience and realize a gift of God or will it only achieve my own self serving desire?” “Will I make God visible to another through my action?”

Heavenly Father: You have created us to win, and given us a Church to guide us in reaching your imperishable goal. Help me to compete not to outdo my Christian sisters and brothers, but to search for ways to make Christ visible to them. Help me to be disciplined in my actions—not serving myself, not making more of myself, but serving others by lifting up and glorifying all of humanity with the respect and worth you created in each of them. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me which allow me to win much more than I deserve. Amen.

Be disciplined. Give in and give up what has become your own desire to instead search for what God desires of you. In reaching for the imperishable goal, God’s gifts will far exceed anything you might win here on earth.
Blessings,
Charlotte