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February 10, 2018

23 Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ – Mark 9:23 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

I, Brian K. Stark, wanted to reach out to all my readers here on Listening Faithfully and welcome you back to another year of inspired postings about God and His divine promises which He has faithfully kept from the beginning of time to this very moment! Like Jesus said, “All things are possible to those who believe.” Therefore I believe in all of you my faithful readers and followers that we can continue growing in this new year despite all of our challenges we face!

Concerning the Changes

This version of Listening Faithfully Blog is the original version I started back in 2009. I wrote many reflections, 214 to be exact that I hope all of you can re-read and find comfort from all while learning and growing in your faith as I have in mine. After this past Christmas, I saw many different types of websites that sorta do what I am doing here and thought to myself I have to make a move to stay relevant. Many of you my readers had sent me private messages talking about how I am not monetizing this site, how I am staying static when the world is very dynamic. As a teacher, I know the importance of self-reflection and learning from everyone around me even from my own students and readers. So I made the investment to keep Listening Faithfully thriving… All I ask is that you follow me to the new site, help support this change, and let’s grow together in our faith. Please CLICK HERE.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen,

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

“Let’s grow together as children of God”

photo

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

Who is God?


The Message

First Post of January 2018

“But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you; let the birds tell you what’s going on. Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics. Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories. Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand— Every living soul, yes, every breathing creature? Isn’t this all just common sense, as common as the sense of taste? Do you think the elderly have a corner on wisdom,  that you have to grow old before you understand life?” ~ Job 12: 7-12, The Message (MSG)  

Can we find God in an exquisite sunrise or sunset, or in those days when the sky is gloomy all the day long? Can we look at nature and find the one who created this mystery we call Earth? Can we search in the broken places or is He in the luxury hotels waiting for us to find Him? Why does God have to be male or female, I mean isn’t it possible that God is so powerful that there is no gender? Is God found in the shadows or can He be found only in the sunlight? Is God just known to us sinners on this rock which orbits around one of trillions upon trillions of stars which dot the night sky? Is God found in just this universe, or is He also the creator of trillions of more universes than just ours? In thinking this out further I guess God could arguably be bigger than anything we could ever imagine or infinitely as small as the smallest particle ever discovered. But I really like how Job put it when he was arguing with the elders, I enjoyed how simply put his words where on this specific topic about who God is, for Job said it best, “Ask the animals what they think?”

Who is God to Me?

“God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says?  Does he promise and not come through?” ~ Numbers 23:19, The Message (MSG)

As a boy growing up I would look up into the night sky and see the brilliantly lit stars overhead and wondered where God was among all those points of light. In church, I was taught that Jesus was the light and the way. God seemed to be a super being far outshining anything in my big imagination. As I grew I wrestled with the idea that Jesus was God and they were one and the same. At first, it did not make sense at all, for here is God the Father; an all-powerful being and here was Jesus a man born of flesh and blood. Sunday school taught that God was not a man, yet Jesus clearly was. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties traveling around South East Asia in the United States Navy that I finally got it!  See before this point God was an angry, vengeful, fiery judge deserving of a healthy dose of fear deep in my heart; He was a being who took mercy on us and finally decided to come down to help us mortals out. To some extent this was done out of love; but also out of impatience. In reflection, this description was very much one befitting me.  But on the day I got it all that went away as for the first time I saw God in my shipmates, I saw God in the people of the various countries we visited, and I saw God in an Irish man who gave me and my friend the money to get back to our ship late one night in Dubai. I started recording the random acts of kindness of others as each day passed. Strangers helping strangers, crewmates putting aside their differences for the common good of the division. I grew up thinking I would only have one family in my life, but as I traveled I become a valued member of many other families who otherwise would be considered strangers. The more this happened the more I grew closer to God and truly understood what being a member of God’s family was all about. I truly grew up in the Navy because of those experiences and I would not trade them in for anything in this world. But like everything in life when times get hard faith starts to wane taking a back seat to the various dramas being played out. It wasn’t until I had gotten married, lived outside of the security of my biological family, and alone in my complicated life full of doubt about God; who as I saw it had abandoned me. It was in that very moment of spiritual starvation when once again God saw fit to further push me to grow with a true miracle. For God had revealed Himself as a ray of brilliant light which shook me to my very core. For as I waited in a Hospital in California, my heart racing in anticipation on the verge of an emotional meltdown; I  bore witness breathlessly to the birth of my daughter. I could see and feel His presence descend upon me with such love and grace as the doctor asked me to cut her umbilical cord, then the doctor placed her into my unsteady arms as I struggled to pull her close to me. I was speechless as she cried then our eyes met for the first time. In that moment I knew love, I knew hope, and I was introduced to fatherhood. In reflection upon this most profound of questions, “Who is God?” I have to admit that perhaps maybe He is the ultimate father, mother, uncle, cousin, friend, lover, child, grandparent, and lifelong teacher.  

God Is!

“I love you, God — you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.”  Psalm 18:1, The Message (MSG)

It’s too easy to declare, “My God Is!”, rather my brothers and sisters let us say simply and purely that, “God is so many different things to each one of us and in many ways, He is the same thing to all of us!”  For God is just not my God alone, He is also your God, our neighbors God, our friends from overseas God, and the God of the Universe! We all are of Him, and in no way could we ever deny this and be sincere or credible. In this way, God is absolute, unchanging, forever loving and gives mercy and forgiveness to us in ways that we do not deserve. For all who run to Him find love, find true success, and above all safety. In every way, God sustains His children, weak and strong alike. God is family, eternal and everlasting, for He washed my dirty soul with life-giving waters. God is the spirit of hope, life, death, judgment, and any other descriptive word you could come up with. But above all other things, God is my salvation and I will love Him with all my heart for as long as He will have me live on this Earth. It is in His image I was created, His image of which I became a teacher and father, and it is in His image I shall have everlasting life after this life is over. This is my covenant with God, and it is through His will I reach out to His family, all of you who want to simply declare out loud that, “God Is!”

Question: “Who is God to you?”

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Amen, Alleluia!

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“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018


The Future Glory of the Survivors in Zion

December 31, 2017

2 “On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,” ~ Isaiah 4:2-3 (NRSVACE) 

Ant.  Christ is born for us; come, let us adore him.

Isaiah in many ways had an unmistakable and colorful code to his writings. He stands alone in how his vivid portrait of the future would come about. In fact, many scholars take into account the effort it took to write with such boldness and yet poetically layout Gods divine plan shown him through dreams.  Isaiah’s prophecies are the very fabric of that links the Old Testament, old world views, to that of the New Testament; leading us straight to Jesus Christ and the New Covenant with mankind. The colorful language Isaiah used here, ‘the branch of the Lord,’ is a bold reference to that which Jehovah made grow. Giving authorship of the creation of everything including the plan of salvation to God alone. But in breaking this down even further we see a word in this short section of scripture, ‘branch’ which is referenced throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Isaiah 11:1 where the word, ‘shoot’, is used in reference to The Root of Jesse. It is linked to Jeremiah 23:5 in reference to the word, ‘Branch’ talking about King David. Again in Jeremiah 33:15 the word, ‘Branch’ is used. In Zechariah 3:8 the word, ‘Branch’, in reference to things to come as laid out directly to Josuah, the high priest. Finally, the word ‘Branch’ is used to reference the coronation of the Branch in Zachariah 6:12. Here, then, if we thus interpret the words, ‘Branch and Shoot’,  we have the first distinct prophecy in Isaiah of a personal Messiah! My brothers and sisters, Isaiah (750-695 BC), Jeremiah (628-588 BC), and Zachariah (520-510 BC) all three connect the dots using the same code of speech over time. Jesus Christ is the “Branch of Jehovah,” and within the coming of Jesus, we can look back to the Octave of Christmas which in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar is the countdown to The Eighth Octave of Christmas, Mary, Mother of God where we celebrate this very prophecy come to fruition.

On That Day!

“The Lord has made known, alleluia, alleluia! On that day a marvelous exchange had taken place, God man’s creator has become man, born of a virgin!” ~ Solemnity Evening Prayer, The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.172-173.

This is one of the mysteries of Christ’s life that is celebrated because this is when we as human beings became shareholders in eternity; this is the divinity of Christ who so humbled himself for us so that we have the hope of salvation through Him! In many ways, as we celebrate this event we are also celebrating Christ’s return or the Second Advent. It is this that John so poetically wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” ~ John 3:16, and who also wrote about meeting Christ in Heaven, 12 “Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.” ~ Revelation 1:12-13 (NRSVACE). We celebrate because the promise of salvation is now, it is upon us! We have not only been saved by Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection but are also recipients of His mercy, forgiveness, love, and His devotion! The point is that Jesus desired to become our brother by being born of the Virgin Mary, to enter into a sinful world, to teach us how to love one another as brothers, and who willingly died for our sins. So, I say to you my brothers and sisters, rejoice and pray, love each other as Christ has loved you, celebrate this day of freedom and salvation, and remember that it all was done by God’s desire to save the human race from ourselves! 

Celebration of a New Year

On this note, as I write this last blog of 2017 I wanted to mention all the people from around the world who made this year so special for me by becoming subscribers. With that said, Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for reading and commenting and voting. The stats show we need only 39 more views to make December the highest ranking of all the month of 2017. So, I humbly ask for you to share this blog with as many people with the utmost urgency as possible at such a late hour!

I also ask that you consider subscribing to our mailing list so you may receive this New Years Prayers and inspiring devotionals each month. Click Here!

I especially want to thank the top 20 countries which have visited Listening Faithfully Blog:

  1. The USA – 1407
  2. Philippians – 142
  3. Italy – 106 (the Biggest increase from 2016 up from 17 views) Special Thank You!
  4. Canada – 88
  5. India – 77
  6. The United Kingdom – 60
  7. EU – 59
  8. Germany – 56
  9. China – 44
  10. Poland – 38
  11. South Africa – 36
  12. Norway – 29
  13. Brazil – 22
  14. Australia – 20
  15. Indonesia – 20
  16. Mexico – 20
  17. Japan – 17
  18. Ireland – 17
  19. Malaysia – 16
  20. Spain – 14

Amen, Alleluia!

Join us Today!

Become a Subscriber today and receive weekly insights to effective prayer and devotionals that will enrich your life.

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate – Social Media

On Facebook:

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Listening Faithfully Community

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FB Groups: Friends Who Like Listening Faithfully / LF Prayer Group – Make all your Bible and Liturgy of the Hours Purchases here. Powered by Amazon. (All proceeds go to support Listening Faithfully Blog in the transition from a wordpress.com to a .org site.)

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Don’t forget to email me with your prayer requests:  Email – listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

Ways to Support Others:

To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

View current promotions – Click Here / Take a Private Quiz – CLICK HERE

Listening Faithfully Survey – Help us make improvements for you. CLICK HERE

 

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017


What God Sees in Use!

December 30, 2017

1 “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” ~ 1 John 3:1 (NRSVACE)

It is always a good time to reflect on family, friends, loved ones, children, parents, girlfriends, and boyfriends, workmates, and bosses even if you like or dislike your job just before the new year. I like to take time out from life once and awhile, kick back and think deeply about all the wonderful things my old relationships have brought to my life and how my newer relationships have impacted my journey. Each year brings hundreds of blessings to each one of these relationships whether they are well established or not. Again, my brothers and sisters, I say to you to always look for the positive and never allow yourselves to dwell on the negative and here’s why.

Dwelling on the Negative

4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NRSVACE)

When we dwell on the negative we are allowing thoughts in that are not healthy, presumptions begin to appear which take a dark tone and begin to blacken your hearts. Our mind begins to play tricks on us and we begin to think badly of people who we otherwise would hold in high standing. It’s a dangerous game to allow your mind to run wild with crazy notions of things which in reality are not true and this could reputable damage old well-established relations and destroy the newer relationships that which had given so much positive influence to our lives. Jealousy is a curse on everyone when it rears its ugly head, this emotion gives way to a devilish accusatory tone which disrupts the sain thoughts replacing them with only bitterness. I say to you my brothers and sisters, we all need to be mature in our relationships, we all need to be civil and respectful in our relationships, and we all need to be secure in our relationships; old and new. This manner of maturity and civilness lends itself to security within ourselves first. I say this because it is not our friends, lovers, parents, children, or co-workers or bosses which influence your own thoughts, that comes from within. What others do influence us but if we choose to allow them to shape our minds, hearts, and souls then we lose ourselves within them whether or not they wanted you to. That was your choice, you made that decision within your own mind. This is what leads down the dark path of assumptions, accusations, heartful speech written and verbal, and yes, will, in the end, push you away and isolates yourself from those who you once openly declared to love, trust, and admire. This bitterness is a poison that blackens your heart makes stiff your thoughts and even multiplies the divide between you and God. So, I say thou shall not dwell on negative thoughts and or feelings, less they consume you.

Dwelling on the Positive

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” ~ Matthew 5:8 (NRSVACE)

How good does it feel when we eat a donut, or ice cream, or chocolate cake? What emotions come to the surface? If you think about it good things, good emotions, a sense of long-awaited peace takes us over for a second or two, long enough for us to enjoy the sensation that comes. For some of us, this temporary sensation comes with buying, or selling, teaching, or writing, racing a car, building an engine, planning some exciting getaway, etc. Whatever it takes we focus on those things. But, my brothers and sisters, this is not what I’m talking about when I say to dwell on the positive. Yes, these other distractions make us feel good inside but are nothing more than fleeting moments in time. Rather, focus your mind, heart, body, and soul with all your strength on those things in life which never go away or dull the sensation over time. Focus on the simple things that bring joy and look for these little things in every person, in every moment, in every second of your life experience.

Example: I was standing in the grocery store line waiting to check out and there was this old frail woman standing in front of me. She was not happy with how long it was taking for the person in front of her to make out a check to pay for their items. In her impatience, she turned to me to complain and before she could I smiled at her. To be completely truthful I too was annoyed, but I also saw in the person checking out a real struggle in memory, in speech, and though frustrating I saw God within them. I saw God within the old lady in front of me, I saw human nature and the impulse to first complain which comes from a rush-rush lifestyle. I could see the same things in me and I refused to allow the negative overpower the positive. So, what was the positive in this example? It was smile I received from the older lady, instead of complaining she smiled and said nothing. She became content in the moment knowing this frustration of waiting was only for a brief moment in time. When she turned around she helped the person in front of her write that check. I saw God in those moments.

What I See In You

12 “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12 (NRSVACE)

If I could see those things, (as mentioned above),  in a complete stranger, imagine what I see in all those people who I know? Imagine how it breaks my heart when my friends or family chose to dwell on the negative instead of the positive? I truly believe the key to living a drama free life is to make the choice to live your life dedicated to seeing only to positive things in everyone no matter how negative they are. I know from reading the Bible that this is what God does. I see the benefit of being positive, being courageous, being content in the moment even if it is uncomfortable, or irritating, or upsetting – especially when we are receiving what we don’t want or think we deserve. I make a giant effort every day to be and see the positive in everything because I want and know it brings me closer to God our Father. To see as God see’s means to overlook – rather look through the negative and see the part of God within each one of us that is shining, that is saved, that Jesus died for on the cross, and it means to want to see these small miracles daily. I promise my brothers and sisters that love is in everyone and in everything God has made, and if you train yourself, become mature in your faith, you too will see time slow down long enough to witness these tiny miracles I so often talk about. This is my sincere wish for all of you in the new year.

Amen, Alleluia!

Join us Today!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Don’t forget to email me with your prayer requests:  Email – listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

Ways to Support Others:

To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

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“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017


The First Disciples of Jesus

December 27, 2017

Feast Day 

35 “The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” ~ John 1:35-37 (NRSVACE) 

At first glance, John the Apostle of Christ is a very interesting character. I mean I had to read and re-read this scripture before I figured out that John in writing this Gospel had chosen to leave his own name out opting instead to mention other disciples first, namely his brother James. This makes for quite a read to figure out which John is being mentioned let alone trying to determine who is actually the first disciple. So here is the story of Apostle John, the humble disciple; the Apostle that Jesus loved much.

It is assumed by biblical scholars, (of which I am not),  that Apostle John and his brother James were both disciples of John the Baptist first and as such they would have been present and seen Jesus be baptized in the Jordan. It is also believed that both brothers would have been baptized before meeting Jesus. They both deliver to us first-hand accounts of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  Next, it is believed that both men were related to Jesus as their mother was the sister of Our Blessed Mother Mary, who is mentioned in the Bible as being named Salome. But let’s go back to the scripture above,

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples.’

The immediate question that arises is, ‘Which John is being talked about here?’ Answer – John the Baptist. The second question that comes to mind is, ‘Which two of his disciples?’ Answer – The sons of  Zebedee (a fisherman of Galilee) John and his brother James. The Gospel states that they were curious and followed Jesus and was invited to stay with Him. The other very interesting note is that James is always mentioned before John leading many to believe that James is John’s older brother.

40 “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” ~ John 1:40 (NRSVACE) 

As the story develops we read that Andrew and his brother Simon Peter also heard and followed Christ, so in this it appears that James and John with Andrew and Simon Peter also knew one another, they all left their craft of fishing and chose to follow John the Baptist, excited about the coming of the Lord. This is such an important point because these men are the foundation of Christianity after Christ died and was resurrected and ascended into Heaven. It is what these men wrote, what they preached, and what they staked their lives on in the years after Christ. But, it was the Apostle John who would go on the write the Book of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and Revelations. During the three years of Christ’s ministry, John is the faithful disciple, the reflective disciple, and the classic servant. John got it from day one, and his own ministry reflected many of these qualities.  John was a brave leader as he helped preach the Pentecost sermon. John with Simon Peter healed the lame man, was jailed together for their faith and preachings. Both men were sent by the other apostles to investigate the Samaritan revival. This reflects leadership and fortitude in preaching about Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. Apostle John traveled prolifically throughout the Mediterranean starting churches where ever he went. His writing and authorship became the bedrock of Christian doctrine and how we view Christ today. According to David Peach who writes, “Tradition holds that John was sentenced to death in a boiling vat of oil. Yet he emerged unharmed from the experience. Again tradition tells us that John lived into old age dying sometime after AD 98. He is thought to have died in Ephesus.” ~ John the Apostle: Bible Biography Facts and Death (2014). 

Amen, Alleluia!

Join us Today!

Become a Subscriber today and receive weekly insights to effective prayer and devotionals that will enrich your life.

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate – Social Media

On Facebook:

Listening Faithfully

Listening Faithfully Community

Listening Faithfully Blog

FB Groups: Friends Who Like Listening Faithfully / LF Prayer Group – Make all your Bible and Liturgy of the Hours Purchases here. Powered by Amazon. (All proceeds go to support Listening Faithfully Blog in the transition from a wordpress.com to a .org site.)

Twitter

Don’t forget to email me with your prayer requests:  Email – listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

Ways to Support Others:

To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

View current promotions – Click Here / Take a Private Quiz – CLICK HERE

Listening Faithfully Survey – Help us make improvements for you. CLICK HERE

 

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017


Christmas Reflections

What is Christmas to you? ~ by DES

December 26, 2017

Feast Day of Saint Stephen (The First Marter) 

35 “In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”’ ~ Acts 20:35 (NRSVACE) 

Christmas Reflection – As a Child

As a child, I remember Christmas being that exciting time of year where presents were extremely important and highly anticipated. Presents were the highlight of the night. They were the end all be all. The purpose of life. Presents were life…

Though making a list of all the materialistic things I wanted was also pretty fun, I was always more pleased to find gifts from loved ones that played to my innermost desires. Those things consisted of Bratz dolls, Build-A-Bear clothes, Sims expansion packs, and other various toys I was convinced would bring me ultimate joy. Sure, ripping up the wrapping paper and spending a couple minutes destroying the boxes these toys were presented it did give me quite some joy… as did playing with them for weeks and months to come. But as I grew up and the toys I wanted increasingly became more expensive (i.e. laptops, makeup, jewelry, and iTunes cards) I also felt a shift in what brought me the most joy.

Christmas Reflection – As an Adult

I think about the sacrifices made, the planning and prepping that takes place, and just how expensive Christmas can be for families. It’s hard not to feel a little overwhelmed when thinking about all that goes into creating the “perfect” Christmas. There’s food to be cooked, gifts to be wrapped, and decorations to be hung. Yet the highlight is no longer the wrapped boxes under the tree. The highlight isn’t the cake or the brisket. It’s not even the booze.

The highlight of Christmas is family. This includes friends and all extended family. People who I can share laughs with, people to make memories with, people who encourage me to be me.

The spirit of Christmas lives in our ability to see those around us with love and kindness in our hearts. Giving freely without expectation feeds the soul. Sharing space and time with others in harmony strengthens bonds. This is what Christmas is to me now.

Interestingly enough, however, Christmas hasn’t always been about gifts and trees and food. Originally the Church didn’t celebrate the birth of Jesus, and in fact, the first Americans didn’t either. It was decided that Christmas would be on the 25th of December in order to fall in line and absorb pagan holidays. The Church believed this would make the holiday more popular as Christianity spread. They were right, but the way it was celebrated in the early days was extraordinarily different from how it’s celebrated now.

Christmas was a time for the wealthy to repay their “debts” to society by entertaining those of lesser means. The celebrations were more like today’s Mardi Gras: drinks, parties, and mayhem. The first Americans were more strict in their beliefs and thus decided against establishing Christmas as a holiday until June 26, 1870. By this time we had completely reinvented Christmas. Instead of the rowdy celebration common in Europe, a new format dedicated to peace and tranquility, finding perfect presents for children, and sharing foods among friends became the norm.

This tradition has come a long way and been shaped into what it is today with the help of consumerism, Capitalism, Christianity, paganism, and the basic human need for companionship.

The Christmas Truce

So even if it is a jumble of various practices and may not always be religious in nature (hello Santa Claus) it does serve as a reminder of the importance of kindness. One such touching example can be witnessed in a little story about the Christmas Truce.

December 26, 1914

Dear Mother,

I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say.

But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench.

Oh dear, no!

From a German soldier. Yes, a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it? Yes.

This is only for about a mile or two on either side of us (so far as we know). It happened thuswise.

On Xmas eve both armies sang carols and cheered & there was very little firing. The Germans (in some places 80 yds away) called to our men to come and fetch a cigar & our men told them to come to us. This went on for some time, neither fully trusting the other, until, after much promising to ‘play the game’ a bold Tommy crept out & stood between the trenches, & immediately a Saxon came to meet him. They shook hands & laughed & then 16 Germans came out.

Thus the ice was broken. Our men are speaking to them now.

They are landsturmers or landwehr, I think, & Saxons & Bavarians (no Prussians). Many are gentle looking men with goatee beards & spectacles, and some are very big and arrogant looking. I have some cigarettes which I shall keep, & a cigar I have smoked.

We had a burial service in the afternoon, over the dead Germans who perished in the ‘last attack that was repulsed’ against us. The Germans put ‘For Fatherland & Freedom’ on the cross.

They obviously think their cause is a just one.

If you get a Daily Mail of Dec 23 & turn to the letter page you will see an article entitled ‘Snapshots from the Front’ & in the second snapshot an account is given of what we, with others, have done, and the identical apparatus is mentioned.

When you find a sentence or word ‘blacked out’ & not initialed by me, it is the work of the sensor.

Many of the Germans here are, or were, waiters. [i.e. in England before the war.] Thank Efford for his chocolate. Auntie Belle for the cigarettes. I have had an awful time with swollen feet and my toes are frostbitten now.

But it is all in a day’s work, as is working all night at digging or etc & sleeping in wet and mud. Where we are billetted (8 of us in a cottage in a town which is shelled now and again) we have a good time. There is a family of Belgians here whose house has been destroyed, and the old mother, about 56 yrs old, is very jolly and resourceful, as well as comical. [Any further pages are missing.]

Christmas is more than just celebrating the birth of Jesus. Christmas is more than creating family traditions. Christmas is more than cooking, buying and gifting. Christmas is more than any of those things combined. Christmas is a time for us to put down the hatchet, move past that grudge, wave that white flag and share the love with all, including our “enemies”.

Merry Christmas!

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Amen, Alleluia!

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017


The Agape Love of God

Christ Is Here! Alleluia!

December 25, 2017 – The Birth of Christ

4 “But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 3:4-7 (NRSVACE)

Merry Christmas my brothers and sister! May the love of our eternal father rest upon you today like no other day in our earthly calendar! For today we hold within our hearts the great hope for salvation made flesh, the great charity of forgiveness made into everlasting grace, and the agape love of God showered upon us cleansing our sinful hearts through the birth of Christ and the renewal of our faith through the Holy Spirit!

If you have followed me this year you will have read about an intricate plan skillfully crafted and executed by our eternal Father who out of unconditional love chose to forgive us, (all of humanity), our sins. You will have read about grace, charity, and mercy; a love story on an epic scale greater than anything we could have ever done on our own. The level of sacrifice and unconditional love exhibited by God can never be measured or outdone by man. For this plan of God’s cost Him much and is the eternal investment which speaks of an undeniable desire to have a relationship with all of us. At the heart of God’s plan was to bear the hardships personally, to walk in our shoes, emulate our sufferings, experience the daily grind of our life ultimately seeing the world through our eyes in order to suffer and to die for our sins which we could have never washed away on our own. A love story that all too often is more like a one-way street when we petty humans reject God, but this never deturs Him, no our Father’s desire is so lasered focused He keeps knocking at the doorway of our heart continually offering us His unshakable love. So my brothers and sisters, when I say Christmas is a love story on an epic scale, one which gives us the gift of salvation, a monumental gift of grace and mercy, and a gift which is its own economy greater in value than any monetary system we could ever invent – know that my words are sincere; for God did not have to do any of these things.  Rather, He could have just started over casting us aside with as little effort as like squashing an ant underfoot. For I say unto you, my brothers and sisters, each day is not promised and each breathe is a precious gift from God. Therefore, for God to have sent His only son Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour was the greatest act of mercy and charity; the greatest gift our loving Father could have bestowed upon us.

The Birth of Our Saviour

15 “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” ~ Luke 2:15-20 (NRSVACE) 

Over the last four weeks we prepared for this event, we made ready for the coming of Jesus, but in retrospect, very few people really knew what was going on at the time of Christ’s actual birth over two thousand years ago. Think about it, Mary and Joseph were made part of the plan at the enunciation then their collective families were told after the shocking news that Mary was pregnant.  Then Mary’s cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist knew when Mary visited her. The three wise men who watched the stars and read scripture put two and two together and began a long harsh journey following an astronomical event only to make King Herod aware by asking him if he knew anything about the coming Messiah. The shepherds became

aware only because they were told by angels from heaven. It’s ironic really when you look at it from this perspective because only a handful of people knew and out of these people how many really believed that indeed this was the coming of the Messiah? I mean everyone in Judea was waiting for a savior, but few knew and witnessed it in person and from this handful of people the word was spread. From this humble of beginnings, Jesus would grow up in a world who largely was unaware and in disbelief even though the Lord was standing right in front of them. So, my brothers and sisters, how lucky we are today too have the benefit of our faith without having seen the nativity first hand, how much more meaningful is it to know Jesus within our hearts first before knowing Him in Heaven? For truly I say to you that we know and love Jesus Christ through the experience and blessings poured out overuse through the works of the Holy Spirit which in and of itself is the true agape love of God at work as we celebrate this Holiest of Days.

Rejoice for the Lord is Here!

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen Alleluia.

Canticle of Zachariah

Ant.  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth, alleluia.

Intercessions: The Word of God existed before the creation of the universe yet was born among us in time. We praise and worship him as we cry out in joy:

‘Let the earth ring out with joy for you have come.’

You are the eternal Word of God who flooded the world with joy at your birth,

– fill us with joy by the continuous gift of your life.

You saved us and by your birth revealed to us the covenant faithfulness of the Lord,

– help us to be faithful to the promises of our baptism.

You are the King of heaven and earth who sent messengers to announce peace to all,

–  let our lives be filled with your peace.

You are the true vines that brings forth the fruit of life,

–  make us branches of the vines, bearing much fruit.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

May your Christmas be filled with joy everlasting as you spend time with your family and friends on this most Holy of Days. Rejoice in this unfathomable gift from God we receive on this day of Christs Birth, for into the world did He come, on our behalf to give us the hope of life everlasting.

Amen, Alleluia!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting on Twitter on Twitter at @Listeninfaith or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully or stop by an pray with use at LF Prayer Group.

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 


An Older Symbol of Advent

What is the Jesse Tree? ~ by Winter

December 23, 2017 – Third Saturday of Advent

11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 (NRSVACE)

Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.

Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing  Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.

As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with,  “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”

When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.

Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;

  1. Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
  2. Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
  3. Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
  4. Isaac – Ornament: Ram
  5. Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
  6. Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
  7. Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
  8. The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
  9. Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
  10. Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
  11. Samuel – Ornament: Crown
  12. David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
  13. Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
  14. Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
  15. Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
  16. Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
  17. Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
  18. John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
  19. Mary – Ornament: White Lily
  20. Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
  21. Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
  22. Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
  23. Jesus – Ornament: Manager
  24. Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho

Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree  Click Here

The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press  Click Here

Amen, Alleluia!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

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Stay In Touch

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting on Twitter on Twitter at @Listeninfaith or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully or stop by an pray with use at LF Prayer Group.

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

Symbol of Adventus


The Symbol of the Season

December 22, 2017 – Third Friday of Advent

18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” ~ Proverbs 4:18 (NRSVACE)

Short History

The Christian faith regardless of denomination is heavily influenced by a great many symbols. Though some of these symbols may not be directly related to the season they nevertheless ring of more modern origins helping to bring all of us closer to our singular Lord and Saviour.  Such is the case for the Advent Wreath, for its humble beginnings is credited to ‘a German theologian and educator by the name of Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881)’ who introduced, ‘the idea of lighting an increasing number of candles as Christmas approached.’ ~ Das Rauhe Haus, “History, From 1832-1881.”  This idea served as a marker for the coming of the Lord and in combination with the Christmas tree, lighting candles, and the overwhelming jolly atmosphere of the season this symbol of Advent survives to modern day.

Spiritual Relevance

Now with the history of the Wreath and Candles out of the way let’s focus on the more spiritual idea behind it. As stated above in Proverbs 4:18 Advent is the season of preparation, of hope, and joy in glee anticipation of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus professed to be the light, the way, the path to both righteousness and to the Kingdom of Heaven. When lighting the Advent Candle it becomes the most powerful of symbols of what Jesus professed to be and what He professed to have given to use. The candles colors’ too tell a deep rich story of faith and of forgiveness. Each week for six days the same candle is lite, the first one representing hope and the promises of a coming Savior. The second candle is lite with the first one on the Second Sunday of Advent and represents peace and the prophecies of a coming Savior. The season of Advent then builds in intensity with the lighting of the third candle with the first two on the Third Sunday of Advent. The third candle celebrates with joy that your hope in Christ is certain, hence last weeks post: “Gaudete!” Rejoice for the Lord is Near!  This third candle, however, is pink; more about that in a minute.  As for the first two purple candles, they are believed to represent both royalty and repentance.  Each week’s scripture paints the picture of how God planned to save humanity through His only son. Scripture records many prophecies that Jesus within His coming fulfilled. Now the third week brings with it the third candle, pink in color for it,  ‘is likened to a faded purple color as though the light is beginning to shine through it. It is “like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.’ ~ Tenny-Brittian, Bill. “Why Is There One Pink Advent Candle?”  This belief supports Proverbs 4:18 most spectacularly!

The Order of Lighting

Week 1: Purple Candle – The Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. Scripture associated with it is Luke 1:14. First Sunday of Advent Post

Week 2: Purple Candle – The Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. Scripture associated with it is Luke 1:26-27 and Isaiah 40:3. Second Sunday Post

Week 3: Pink Candle – The Sheperd Candle or the Candle of Joy. Scripture associated with it is Romans 13:11-1. Third Sunday Post

Week 4: Purple Candle – The Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. Scripture associated with it is Romans 16:25-27. Fourth Sunday Post – Coming this Sunday!

Christmas Day: White Candle – Christ’s Candle – The Lord is Here! It is time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the “light of the world”! Scripture associated with it is Luke 2:15-20  Christ Is Here! Post – Coming this Monday! 

Morning Reading

5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me, there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.” ~ Isaiah 45:5-8

Ant. “The moment that your greeting reached my ears, the child within my womb leapt for joy.”

Amen, Alleluia!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate


Finding Ways to Support Others:

To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

View current promotions – Click Here

Listening Faithfully Survey – Help us make improvements for you. CLICK HERE

Stay In Touch

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 


The Lord is Coming Without Delay

December 17, 2017 – Third Sunday of Advent

An Urgent Appeal!

11 “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” ~ Romans13:11-14 (NRSVACE)

“Gaudete” is Latin for rejoicing. The theme for this Sunday is to rejoice for the Lord is near! We are called to rejoice to make our final preparations by purifying our hearts, minds, and bodies to put on the armor of the Lord and put away petty or frivolous arguments. We are urgently called to live honorably day and night, stay away from any compromising sins such a frolicking around in drunkenness and putting away our sexual desires and lust and to walk away from all forms of jealousy! For it is these things which darken the soul and make us stumble in our obligations we have to our Lord, Jesus Christ. My brothers and sisters, I urgently call you to examine your heart and to cleanse yourselves, wash away your sinful nature and reflect mightly on your lives. Remembering always we are to image God, in mind, heart, body, and soul. Bow down and pray each night the blessings of the Lord for He is near! These things I say to you will give rise to a humble heart, meek and honorable desire, and prayerful attitude one worthy of the Lord.

Let all Creatures Praise the Lord!

Let us Pray Together

5 “And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’” ~ Revelation 19:5 (NRSVACE)

Daniel 3:57-63

“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord.

You heavens, bless the Lord.

All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.

All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord.

Sun and moon, bless the Lord.

Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

Ant. 2 – Mountains and hills shall be level, crooked paths straight, rough ways smooth.

Come, Lord, do not delay. 

~ Continue ~

Daniel 3:64-73

Repeat Ant.2

Daniel 3:74-81

Repeat Ant.2

Daniel 3:82-88

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen Alleluia.

Look for the Lord!

We are urgently called to praise the Lord and rejoice in his coming! This week I urgently call to you my brothers and sisters, to sings praises to our Lord Jesus Christ, to look at every major event you have gone through and look for the tiniest of miracles, Examine all your challenges and look for Gods divine plan within them. Each day there is so much to be thankful for, starting with first and foremost God is with you for He is not at some distant faraway place. No! My brothers and sisters,  rather he is standing right beside you always supporting you, guiding you, loving you. Each day look for God, urgently examine everything in every possible hidden place within your heart and rejoice in the fact that God is calling you with both praises and blessings. He is showering you with acts of mercy! All you have to do is look; look mightly!

Acknowledge the Lord!

 “All your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:6 (NRSVACE)

Rejoice for the Lord is near! The Lord has your name written down, your place at the banquet is set, your salvation is at hand! This week acknowledge Him in every aspect of your life for He acknowledges you. Each night this week I invite all of you my brothers’ and sisters, to sing His praises as He proclaims… “I shall enfold Zion with my salvation and shed my glory around Jerusalem, alleluia!”

Praise the Lord, the Creator

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you sea monsters, and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
    stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
    old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful,
    for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Amen, Alleluia!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Prophecy to Prepare

December 10, 2017 – Second Sunday of Advent

 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lordmake straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” ~ Isaiah 40:3 (NRSVACE)

In this season of preparation, self-reflection, and in accord with the theme of Advent we have now reached an important milestone of how we receive our savior. In that this preparation for a savior, the son of man, is an idea that spans time. It is an idea which was deeply ingrained in our human ‘higher cognitive process’ or in our way of thinking about God Himself. Prophet Isaiah taught that God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, and in those writings can be found the promise of salvation. This intangible, unattainable, most elusive promise of God called ‘salvation’ was also rooted deep within the people of Judah, for it was as much on their minds in the 8th century before Christ as it is ours today. Simply put my brothers and sisters, salvation takes center stage in the need for a savior, it demands there to be great preparations so that this singular event could come to fruition. In the first post of this Advent Season,  “Adventus – Time of Preparation, we can see God’s plan for a savior. In the second posting of this Advent Season, The Christmas Angel – Gabriel“, we see and celebrate God’s plan now put into action. In this, the third posting of this Advent Season we focus on yet another player sent by God which helps us navigate His complex roadmap that is designed to produce a savior – enter Isaiah the Greatest of all the Prophets. For the preparation that he delivers to us is one of ‘hope’; the spreading of this central idea that our savior comes and that he fulfills the prophecies told to countless millions throughout the ages. This same ‘hope’ remains as meaningful for those who had first experienced it as it still has for us today. For the plan was to spread the word first, then act upon it, and now to receive all the blessings that come with this new covenant with God. This season of preparing for Christ makes us ready to renew our love, faith, understanding, grace, and humility that Jesus himself bestowed all of which was rooted within the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah. For God granted Isaiah a special relevance within history; one that rings the bells and foretells the blessings that God pours out from Heaven; the first draft of what was to come.

The Messenger

1 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’ ~ Mark 1:1-3 (NRSVACE)

Isaiah foretell’s a forerunner to Christ, a person who would set the stage for salvation through repentance – enter John the Baptist. John serves as a messenger, as a baptiser filled with the holy spirit. He was first mentioned by the Angel Gabriel to our Mother Mary at her conception, then later Mary visits Elizabeth her cousin, the mother of John and he leaps in her womb. Nothing more is recorded until we get to the story of Jesus who stands before John in the river Jordan. John was a giant in his day, teaching about the coming of the Messiah, the savior and of the kingdom to come. The way to make your own personal path straight was through the act of baptizing, or submersion into water. Water universally had been the symbol of cleansing and was deeply rooted in the Jewish world with having to bathe before entering the temple. Jesus uses water to wash the feet of his disciples at the end of his ministry. But John takes this idea of salvation even higher through the process of baptizing as he states clearly;

‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” ~ Mark 1:7-8 (NRSVACE)

Again, the hope for a far greater more powerful authority, one to which the heavens and earth belong, the promise of salvation within the coming savior, son of God; all of which is still within the realm of preparation. John was tellings us to get right with God! He was bringing people closer to our creator through the only method available at the time; baptize. But more to the point John was also not neglecting to support the mainstream school of thought established by the writings and teaching of Isaiah. In many ways, these two men help us to receive our Lord and Savior in the right way, in the most meaningful of ways. The very message of salvation starts with getting your life in line with God’s plan for you, getting ready for the conversion of mind, heart, body, and soul. To be prepared for the coming of Christ Jesus so that your heart is renewed and your faith restored. To receive Jesus as our savior in the hope of his triumphant return.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 


A Message From God

December 4, 2017 – The First Monday of Advent. 

Canticle of Mary – The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.49.

Ant. The Angel of the Lord brought God’s message to Mary, and she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, alleluia. 

26 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~ Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE) 

In this Season of Preparation and Hope when everyone is busy reflecting on the gospel and preparing for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we find that Archangel Gabriel is very busy implementing God’s plan. (Read more about God’s plan – Click HereIn fact, we see that Gabriel visits Mary who was engaged to Joseph, born of the House of David. This visitation is the first real contact between our eternal Father and our earthy mother with Gabriel acting as the messenger. He explains everything in such a way that Mary cannot refuse and in a blink of an eye God’s will was done. Archangel Gabriel as described by author Doreen Virtue who wrote in her book, “Archangels 101: How to Connect Closely with Archangels Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel and Others for Healing, Protection, and Guidance’, she writes, “Gabriel, as the archangel of communication, often announces what’s on the horizon, and acts like a manager or agent in orchestrating new ventures related to one’s soul purpose.” Indeed we see this here as Gabriel foretells the plan of God, clues Mary in on the miracle pregnancy of her cousin Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist. In this, we can also see the detailed preparation of God who paved the way for his only son to come into this world. However, Gabriel still needed to confront Joseph to show him the importance of the future. 

19 “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” ~ Matthew 1:20 (NRSVACE) 

With Joesph and Mary onboard Archangel Gabriel takes on a new name, that of ‘The Christmas Angel’, because without his efforts during this season of preparation and reflection these events may have turned out quite differently. Gabriel is also the Angel of Water, Inspiration, and Reconciliation. He is talked written about in every major religion on earth today, not to mention is he helps us solve problems while we sleep as this is how Gabriel came to Joseph.

In reflection, Archangel Gabriel played a huge part in the Annunciation and continues to play an important role in our lives today.  He comes with the very words of God to inspire us and guide us helping us to lead a more pure life; one centered on the grace and love of Jesus.

Advent Activities

From ‘The Life of Winter’

“In this season of Advent, we are called to reflect and change our lives. For the ones who have read my blog I am a Catholic school teacher and I teach my students the importance of prayer. This year I decided to do things differently each day during the Advent season. Every day we are reflecting and thinking about how we can change. Today we focused on hope.” (Read More from this blogger CLICK HERE )

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Let Us Pray

20 “We eagerly await the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of his glorified body, by his power to subject everything to himself.” ~ Philippians 3:20b-21 

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 


14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~ Luke 1:14 (NRSVACE)

The coming of Christ is indeed a joyous event. ‘Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.’ ~ The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.41. Here we have the seeds of our happiness, great joy, and a reason to rejoice not to mention the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Year. Here we see the event before it took place and the anticipation of this happening before it happened. There was no stopping the word of the impending savior, nothing would get in the way of worldwide redemption. This is the story of what would happen after Advent, let’s instead focus on what it took for the savior to come, which is the story of preparation and the true meaning of ‘Adventus’ Latin for ‘Advent’.

  Preparation Equals A Mind Wide Open

Before our savior could come there had to be someone willing to give birth to him. This person would have to be female and married because an unmarried woman would most likely be stoned to death for having sex before marriage. This married women would have to be a virgin and for that to happen she would need to just be engaged and not yet married. This also causes a big problem because what would the soon to be husband think? Would he tolerate his soon to be wife having conceived by another man? Most men would not, and in this case, this goes against every Jewish law on the record books. How could he marry an unfaithful woman who was now no longer a virgin? In my mind, I often question what the Jews were really thinking: I mean how did they think all this was going to come about? See my brothers and sisters here we have a conundrum of the largest order! But God is all knowing and all powerful, He already had this part of the plan worked out because He had this planned since before the foundations of the world! That being said, God knew and was waiting for Mary and Joseph. God hand-picked both of them to be the earthly parents to His only son, our savior Jesus Christ. But this still did not by any means make everything ok by the larger population. Rather God needed Mary and Joseph to work with Him on this plan, they had to be willing participants or else this plan of a savior would not happen as we now know it. Both Mary and Joseph had to think outside of the box, they both had to let their love for each other rule the day, and they both had to prepare for Gods miracle together.  In many ways, faith became their new reality. Preparation is just as important to those who lived two thousand years ago as it is for us today.  It’s not enough to live day by day allowing each day to bring its fruits and or ills with little participation by the people who are living it. To just slide by and not be ready is really not living at all. I say this to you, my brothers and sister because to live means you prepare every day for the fruits of God no matter what they are. If Mary and Joseph had just simply been living in the haze of unpreparedness then Jesus could not have come through them. How might the world be different? No! I am glad they prepared for Jesus, and in the Season of Adventus that is what we do, prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and life for the coming goodness of the Lord.

Advent Family Activity

36 “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ~Luke 21:36 (NRSVACE) 

Because I am a teacher who maintains an active network made up of other teachers I wanted to give everyone an activity that can help teach children the Advent Season and in many ways help us grown-ups and parents learn a thing or two. I also want to thank the teacher who suggested this calendar so that I can share it with all my followers.

On this Advent Calendar, each day is a new way to prepare for Jesus while keeping you on track, which as I have stated above both Mary and Joseph also had to undergo preparations for the coming of the Lord. Because today is the First Sunday of Advent we read the scripture and reflect. Jesus tell’s us to be on guard and to watch, why would he say that? Perhaps, Jesus is telling us to look for the signs of the next coming so we are not fooled by those clever fakes who would try and trick us by mimicking some of the signs Jesus spoke about. Know the difference between what is fake and what is real is very much a part of being active in life as I had written above. It’s also linked to being prepared for Jesus when He comes on Christmas Day. I like to think how prepared were the three wise men who watched the stars and the movements of the heavenly bodies, keeping track of all the great signs in the night sky while using a specialized calendar to help them navigate to find Jesus on the very night he was born. This is being aware, being prepared, being active in life, and verifying their faith making it an undeniable fact! See, my brothers and sisters, hope is very much a part of this day as well for we wait in the hope of the return of Christ, we watch for the very signs he told us about while we prepare our hearts, minds, body, and soul for His triumphant return. Each day on the calendar is important to reflect upon and to research as well teach to our children so they may have the same hope as we who understand the task given us until the time of Christ.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 


Solidarity in Suffering

10 ‘”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:10 (NRSVACE)

On May 20, 2017, I wrote a post called ‘Hope for the Persecuted – China’s Christian Revival!’ where I wrote about how for centuries Christians have been persecuted for their faith. I introduced an author who had spent a lifetime writing about Christian persecution and the power of faith, prayer, and the overall price of discipleship. In that post and in all the research I conducted was introduced to the truth of ‘Cheap Grace’ as written by  Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1937) The Cost of DiscipleshipI bring this topic back up because there are still modern day Christians being persecuted. Moreover, starting November 26, 2017 – December 2, 2017, many people from around the world are holding a ‘Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians.’ Cheif among the organizations are the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Knights of Columbus (KofC) who are taking donations for Christians at Risk.

Corporal Works of Mercy

As Catholic Christians and as followers of Jesus Christ we the children of God are called to show mercy in various ways for those in need. Part of this is to help feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, give alms to the poor, and I would add to this list we are also called to come together to support those who are suffering because of their faith. Our Christian brothers and sisters need you to take action and spread the word of the many thousands worldwide who are imprisoned, beaten, starved, tortured, and even put to death for their Christian beliefs. I call all of you my brothers and sisters to take action. There are a variety of ways to help those brothers and sister in Christ who are made to suffer for their – our beliefs!

Here are two links to get more information and to donate what you can to help stop the persecution.

Video: Click Here

Donate: Click Here

 

Action Center: Click Here

Donate: Click Here

I thank you all of you my brothers and sisters in advance for taking action in the above various ways.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 


Thanksgiving 2017

11 “On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” ~ Luke 17:11-19 (NRSVACE)

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate the historic event of two different cultures coming together and being thankful for each other and being thankful for the growing partnership that was forged which ended up as our traditional day of thanksgiving. But, brothers and sisters I have already written that posting many times over. I would rather reflect on something more outside the box and less traditional. For this past week, I have heard this passage from Luke now in two different settings in two different church ceremonies. The first time I heard it was in a school play just prior to ending the two day week of teaching. The second time I heard it was today in Mass. In both accounts, the two different priests said two completely different things but in my heart, God was showing me how similar these two messages are. So, my brothers and sisters, if you could indulge me I would like to add to what I had heard and hopefully do justice to what God showed me in this most unconventional Thanksgiving post.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one came back to thank him. His gratitude was deeply genuine and heartfelt. Jesus comments to what happened to the other nine, ‘where are they?’, he inquires. This line of questioning is critical and poignant to the core of our salvation for as Christians and believers we must ask ourselves how many times have we been the recipient of great gifts but never took time to came back to the source in sincere gratitude.  Often I think God gives us gifts and our response is one of puzzlement just short of responding with, “And? Is this it? What am I supposed to do with that?”  Or perhaps if it was something you had asked for and really wanted then when you get it your so excited the words ‘Thank You!’ never seem to be stated. Our culture is one of instant gratification, ‘I want what I want and I want it now!’ Please and thank you are missing. As a teacher I have this same thing happen to me with my kids I have taught, few come back and thank me for all the hard work I did for them to prepare them for the next more difficult level. To date, just a hand full ever really reach out in true thanksgiving. I could easily ask what happened to the other thousand plus.  But even if I did ask that question in my heart I know what happened to all my other students just as Jesus knew what happened to the other nine. In this world, it’s far easier to receive than it is to give.

Now here is another thought, what if when we received those gifts from God that puzzled us or gifts we receive from people we do not particularly like and made a conscious effort to change our own mindset to one of instant thanksgiving and gratitude. What would our life be like? How would that simple act affect others? Instead of pointing fingers and looking for people to blame for our own inadequacies what would happen if we thanked God for the criticism?  But this is small potatoes to what is really possible, no my brothers and sisters lets go one step further and examine all those deep dark happenings that we couldn’t find any way to be thankful for at the time it happened. In the heat of the moment of a firing, or a bashing from a boss or coworker, or maybe even that one comment which cut to the bone and crushed our heart. What if we look at those hurts again and look for the tiniest thing to be thankful for. A good example of this in my own life happened this past summer; on the record, I was not offered a contract to return to my elementary school after ten successful years because of a lack of money. But the real reason was other teachers playing politics thinking if I was not there then they could get away with destroying my lab, taking the laptops whenever they wanted, they would not have to worry about me observing them as I was trained to do to help them become better teachers. No, they wanted the easy way out even if it cost me my job and cut me from ever seeing my students who I deeply love and who needed a professional computer teacher such as myself.

Now watch Gods actions in this moment: In this scary painful loss I have found growth and was given a better opportunity elsewhere. In looking for that tiniest of miracle perhaps the last ten years God was developing me, molding me, preparing me for the responsibilities of today. Yes, it was painful but being a Christian means I listen and do the will of God, He alone directs my path into the future. He alone knows what I need to do next and how to get it done even if I don’t see it yet; especially if all I can see is the injustice of the act itself which caused the hurt. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, there is more to be thankful for in this life than all the wonderful gifts which we had asked for and then received. I humbly ask you my brothers and sisters what about those bag of hurts you locked away and tried to forget about? How thankful can you make your heart for those?

The other nine lepers Jesus had healed ran away in joyous thanksgiving never to be seen or heard from again. Rather it is that one leper who came back to the source and received the complete and total healing from Christ; that Samaritan, that foreigner is who we remember. I tell you my brothers and sisters lets mimic the one and be thankful for everything we are given in this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the expected and unexpected treating all of them in kind, with love and deep heartfelt gratitude. Keeping in your memory the blessing of leprosy is what led all ten to God, but it was God’s love and compassion which brought back the one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 


Acknowledgement of Sin

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4 (NRSVACE)

Question: “What condition is our heart in if it is one that morns?”

The definition of the term ‘mourn’ means: ‘to feel or express grief or sorrow’ ~ “Mourn.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2017.

We mourn for those in our families who have died, we mourn for those who suffer great loss, and we mourn for our own emptiness in times of great turbulence. But to mourn as Jesus describes it in the second blessing in the Beatitudes is to truly be remorseful over sin as we recognize its deep impact on our lives as individuals, the stain and weight it has upon our hearts, and our inability to erase this sin on our own. To recognize our sin is but the first step in mourning for we also need to take responsibility; take ownership for that sin as well.

In truth, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with our creator that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin it is a blessing from God worthy of great reward. It is an even greater blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in the deepest of sorrow. It should be an emotional response and therefore, a means test of our sincerity.

The Process of Mourning

18 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18 (NRSVACE) 

In fact, where sin is concerned we as a race of sinners undergo definitive steps before we can ever get to the deepest level that of mourning as described by Christ.

  1. Guilt – Sin makes us guilty before God, as such we can never obtain true forgiveness without the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But in a deeper sense of the word, ‘guilt’, we feel the weight of this sin in our hearts, bearing the stain of it upon our immortal soul. In this way, we have been found guilty and full of blame separated forever from God branded forever as a sinner.  The recognition of this state of being allows us to emotionally grapple with our sinful nature.
  2. Sorrow – When we recognize our sin and the damage it has done in our life can we then feel the sorrow over our sin; broken before God and in God’s eyes ready to be molded and shaped through this emotional response of sorrow.
  3. Remorse – Taking ownership of our sin and the damage it has done in our lives can we begin to feel remorse, falling deeper into the limous test of emotional and spiritual atonement.
  4. Mourning – In this level of emotional and spiritual unity can our hearts now meaningfully cry out to God in true repentance of the sin which our human nature clings so readily to. It is here in this state of being can we come before God and truly confess our sins and for the first time in this process acknowledge Jesus as our savior, but more importantly willing confess our need for a savior.

Question: “Can there be true forgiveness without there first being a true sense of mourning?”

Consequence to Receiving a Blessing

28 “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28 (NRSVACE)

In many ways, our sin which is part of our earthly condition forces us into a never-ending cycle of contrition. We who are born in sin can never truly walk away from it and become sinless, hence the need for salvation, the need for a savor, and the need for forgiveness. Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that it is not enough to understand where we stand within sin as a sinner but to also comprehend the love it took to pardon all of us sinners from Jesus’s death on the cross to this very day. For it is Jesus who took on our sin so we might have hope for salvation and sit at the table with God everlasting. Each and every blessing found in the Beatitudes cost God His son’s life, the consequence far exceeds any amount we as sinful humans could ever pay on our own or together. In fact, every person on Earth could stack their wealth up in a huge pile and offer it to God and it would still pale in comparison to the cost of one sin, let alone the thousands each one of us does in the span of our lifetime. Therefore, it is a priceless blessing that God bestows upon those of us Christians who understand this dynamic and are obedient in the taking on of our sin; the understanding of the necessity of giving that sin to God on an hourly, daily, weekly, and even a yearly basis; never ceasing to understand how much God loves us and how much we need His divine love and forgiveness. The consequence for Jesus was to die and the consequence of his death for us was life everlasting so that we could be comforted while we live here on this earth.

Question: “In what way has this gift of being blessed impacted you the most?”

“For they will be comforted.”

It is truly a blessing I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with God that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin. It is truly a blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in deep sorrow confessing that sin to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The blessing of comfort can be found in all areas of our lives, from the hard decisions we face not knowing which way to go, or which path to take, to the last act we do before passing away. Comfort is found in a life well lived, in the knowledge your sins have been commuted and the Gates of Heaven have been opened to you, to even feeling Jesus’s hand in yours as he brings you into Him. Comfort is found in the understanding that our salvation extends to the healing of this despicable condition our hearts are in. Comfort is found within the relief of this never-ending cycle of sin which is our reality here on this earth. The human condition can never be understated but so too can the blessing of God never be lacking in its ability to free us from that condition.

The Relational God

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’ ~ Matthew 19:26 (NRSVACE)

In my life when I am given a choice and I know that no matter what I do it will be a sin, thus being boxed into sin, I have always chosen to pray to God for His divine strength and understanding, I have asked Him to give me the knowledge and strength to do His will. I write this because we have a God who cares, a God who loves, and God who is relational. Our Lord so wants to be apart of everything we experience in our lives, to teach us His divine ways, to mold us into better human beings. God so wants to take on your worries, your problems, your roadblocks, and your sin. Because our God is relational He can relate to you in a way no one else here on earth can. God is forever, the master of the universe, and your personal savior. In God, there is nothing you cannot do or accomplish.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 


It’s All About Perception

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:3 (NRSVACE)

Question: What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?

At first take many of you my brothers and sisters might think it’s being faithless, not have a strong belief in Jesus or in God. Some of you might say that Jesus instructed us to be strong in our spirit as in seeking only spiritual riches, and thus logically speaking not to do such would be being poor in spirit; not seeking, not believing. Yet in the Beatitudes we are being instructed to be poor in spirit.

If for a moment we look at Matthew 6:21;

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

This further indicates that being poor in spirit is not seeking spiritual richness. For if I am spiritually bankrupt; which Jesus warned against, my heart will be hardened to His divine message and I will be truly lost. However, If I am carrying my own cross then my heart is with God… right?

Not so fast! Jesus being the master teacher gave us a parable to gage this first Beatitude with;

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector

9 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~ Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSVACE)

Question: ‘What is this parable really saying and how does it relate to Matthew 5:3’?

Take a moment and think deeply, pray on it and ask God for His insights. Let it sink into your heart without distraction.

Back to Beatitude Basics

Each part of the first eleven Beatitudes Jesus starts with a blessing; a commendation. To be ‘poor in spirit’ means to be humble before God. It means you have accepted your spiritual bankruptcy before the face of God and have come to Him with a sincere acceptance that you are sinners first. To Jesus, this is commendable worthy of His praise. People who are humble never boast, never taught, never think of themselves above all others, and most of all humble people listen intently to every word that comes from God allowing it to envelop every aspect of their lives.  To be ‘poor in spirit’ is an honest confession of your sins and is the deepest form of repentance. Think about how wrong the Pharisee had this very idea and how right the tax collector had it.

Let us all be ‘poor in spirit’, coming to our God with the deepest form of repentance and humility before our God. Truly I say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, this is so relevant to us today as it was during the time of Jesus. I absolutely love how Jesus divided each of the first eleven Beatitudes into two distinctly different parts. The first is a blessing/Commendation, the second is a reward.

Blessing/Commendation:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit…’

If you read between the lines you will hear the words that Jesus did not say… i.e. His attitude towards those who cast off the worldly riches and instead humbled their hearts and followed Him. To those people in all time periods, Jesus is saying to us through His blessing/commendation that, ‘I hear you.’ How wonderful is it to know that God hears us, that God loves us, that God blesses us the unworthy.  How blessed we are to have Jesus who is love, is hope, is forgiveness, and mercy all rolled up into one. How truly blessed we are to have Him as our Lord and Savior.

Reward:

‘…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

 When we humble ourselves in every aspect of our lives and seek with sincerity to emulate Jesus in Heart, Mind, Body, And Spirit, with all our strength we are truly changed, we become open to Gods many blessings and He, in turn, begins to mold us into a more perfect version of ourselves, a version more Christ-like. In this, we find our reward, and to those ‘poor in spirit’ i.e. ‘humble in spirit’ our reward is eternal life in heaven. With the proper attitude, you can truly move mounts and change the world. In Christ, there is nothing we cannot do or accomplish.

In Reflection – Desire to Grow

I often wonder how many people changed their attitudes that day once Jesus stopped speaking and moved on. I confess that though I did not witness this event I am still changed after reading how many different ways God can come up with to bless all of us, unworthy sinners. I truly say to you my brothers and sisters, that God loves us so much that He blesses us and rewards us all in the same statement. Jesus has given us the examples, the roadmap to our rewards, he encourages us daily with tiny miracles if only we time to notice, and in all this, he asks for only one thing in return; to acknowledge our sin and to repent.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 


LOOK AT WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH GOD

26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’” ~ Matthew 19:26 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will a moment at which the world for you comes to a crashing halt! Something horrible just happened and in that singular moment, it looks as if everything has been lost! My brothers and sisters in Christ I tell you your world is not lost, no matter what had happened because God loves you in every second of the day, in every moment you live, and in every way you could possibly imagine and not imagine. Need I remind you that there is nothing that could have happened that hasn’t already happened to Jesus, he has seen it all and been through it all and He did so for you and me and all of Gods children. Do not fall into despair, disarray, or needless self-pity for you will be given the strength and the wisdom to move forward regardless of the event that was life changing.

On the other side of the coin, think of a moment where you lost your job, then out of nowhere a person whom you had contacted a while back but had turned you down is now in need of your services. That my brothers and sisters is God calling. How about you meet a person by chance and they begin talking with you only because you said hello and the conversation spills over into a job offer. Hello! That too is God calling! I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters both things have happened to me recently and I am constantly amazed how God is silently working in the background like an awesome software making good on His divine promises. God has never let me down nor left me alone in moments of need, God has always been there for me.  Another perfect real-life experience that happened recently to me was my ex-principal pulled me into the office and said to me that I have one day to secure 17 students for my yearly summer technology class or else she was going to shut it down. I turned to God and asked him to give me the sincerity and wisdom to make this happen for our children. I felt God in that moment and I was given the strength and words to make good on all my promises to my students. So I picked up the phone and talked with countless parents, asked them to call others I did not have phone numbers for. I worked the phones like no bodies business and in the end, God pulled together 21 students. I also was blessed to be given a large donation so the cost could be less of a burden for the parents. God provided as He had promised he would. Ironically, one set of students, (brother and sister) I had asked the parents countless times to send their two children to my class but was rejected over and over because they didn’t have the money to came but somehow, some way God provided for them too because they showed up in the second week and they also received scholarships for the class.  So my brothers and sisters, look at what is possible with God!

Think of it this way, God will move mountains, change the course of mighty rivers, and even bring the hardest heart to bow before Him. God is the armor we all should be wearing, God’s love is what we all need to be in the streets celebrating, God’s might is what we all should respect openly and faithfully every single day. Our God is truly great and anything and everything is possible through His son, our savior Jesus Christ. In terms of money of which most people today are struggling with in these economically challenging times, I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters God provides what you need when you need it! God gives the financial support when you open your heart and mind to the possibility that He is with you and wants to help you. I always am so amazed at the fact that the creator of everything loves us so much that He is willing to be with you, guide you, build you up and support you if not carry you to the finish line if need be. How awesome is that? Money is only a tool printed on green paper that allows us to acquire what we need and to live our lives in our human based society. But God does not follow this standard for His Kingdom is greater and more powerful than anything we humans could devise so why do so many struggles with asking God for help? I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters my life is God centered and I go where he tells me to go, (by the way my life is very mobile), and I do what he tells me to do without question! God is truly with me in everything, in every moment, and in every task that He has given to me to accomplish.

FAITH IN ACTION

11 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1 (NRSVACE)

I hope for many things in my life to come true, slowly little by little I see some of those things coming into sharper focus. Many of these things I hope for are on the precipice of becoming reality.  God does not fool around… No he is working hard! Here is an example: Many of you know that I started this blog in 2009 at the height of my struggles with my ex-wife who constantly took me to court to gain sole custody of our only child. She did everything she could and wasted so much money and precious time, forced me to waste so much money and precious time and in the end, she got what she wanted sole custody but it came at a price. What was the price?  Our relationship with our daughter, the direction of her life was redirected into the hell of court when she should have been playing and being a child… FORGET THE MONEY! But as my relationship with my daughter suffered into extinction and she was moved from Los Angeles to San Fransico in 2012 based on a promise my ex-wife had no intention of keeping I lost contact with my daughter and I was emotionally devastated.  See it was for my daughter I left my family in Missouri, it was for her I altered my life so I could be in her life and be a real father; tangible and present! I did not want to raise my daughter in a broken or fractured home, but that is what my ex-wife made happen – what she did and how she did it was needless and pointless! Again, forget the money! But as terrible as that was, as emotionally devastating as that was, and as horrified and upsetting as that was; God had greater ambitions for me that He had laid the seeds for years earlier. I had been a teacher, becoming a better father and human being, I was being molded in such a way so not only could I survive this horrific event, but I could give my daughter the wisdom to survive this horrific event all of which was unseen by my shattered heart. What I hoped for the most was to see my daughter again, reconnect, start from scratch, and give her the peace in her heart that I am still here for her no matter what happens, just like our Heavenly Father. I am proud to report I have reconnected, though I have not still seen her in person, we do communicate and it is the laying of those foundations that will blossom into a beautiful relationship, one stronger than the last, one better than before because it was God made – God supported – God tested!

On that note, I give a huge shout out to all the men and women around the world who suffered and is still suffering from Alienation of Affection by their ex’s and which this horrible suffering ends within our court systems. I hope I live long enough to see this come to fruition.

2351 MIRACLES OF JESUS

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Mark 13: 32-37 (NKJV) 

The Lord is a miracle worker, He is a forgiver of sins, He alone can lift you up in your darkest hour! Look at what God can do!

2351 Supernatural acts of Jesus Christ, revealing and confirming his Messianic credentials, and the coming of God’s kingdom. The miracles of Christ are to be seen as an integral part of his ministry.

CLICK HERE

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

2017 TECH TEAM VIDEO: Click Here

EUCHARIST AND FATHERS DAY REFLECTION VIDEO: CLICK HERE

THE CALL TO SERVICE VIDEO: CLICK HERE

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

PLEASE SUPPORT LISTENINGFAITHFULLYBLOG.COM BY MAKING ALL YOUR BIBLE PURCHASES THROUGH OUR BOOKSTORE POWERED BY AMAZON!

NRSV BIBLE: Click Here!

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ETHICS by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

: Click Here

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

Relationships


Relationships

6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6, (NRSVACE)

In the past several weeks I have been busy contemplating, discerning, and meditating on the direction our Lord will have me go. Many awesome things have happened to me over the last decade at Ascension Catholic School, namely the honor to teach such beautifully inquisitive children who are so much apart of all I have so labored for, for so long of a time. Now that I am transitioning away from Ascension School – (something that is not by my choice),  I find it to be very interesting that it seems the farther I am pushed away from the school the closer I am drawn to Ascension Church;  of which I am a parishioner and lay preacher, and now have been offered to become a Eucharistic Minister as well, one more thing with pleasure and pride I will be contemplating, discerning, and meditating on. So this Sunday this is what I came up with;

REAL RELATIONSHIPS!

Relationships are like a flower, if you water them they will grow, and/or if you ignore them they will die. The same is true of the relationship we all have with our Father in heaven, trust in Him you will prosper, ignore Him you will not. I can honestly say with a clear conscience that I treated my children of Ascension like a delicate flower, pushing them to succeed, to learn Technology, English Language Arts, History, Science, Social Studies, Religion, and yes, Ethics. I taught them from the heart, with love, with respect, and with everything I have. I gave them all I have and more. I created and planned how to bring thoughtful and meaningful lessons which gave substance to their lives. For my ten years there I worked hard every day and answered the call every time I was needed by the Administration, Staff, Parents, and Church Community.  I looked at my job, not as a job but a mission – vocation, and I love everything about it. I write these things because my last day was the best but saddest day for my students ranging in grade level from 2nd – 6th who showed me how much they also love and respect me in their tearful goodbyes. I’m not good with goodbyes and I’m not good with handling tears from children. I was also shown a great amount of love from their parents who also were sad and deeply moved, from their handshakes to their vows of support I know I have been supported by them. I know what it is like to be supported and I also know what it is like not to be supported.

I will not lie to you, my brothers and sisters, I am being very candid with my words here today, I am being very direct with my thoughts and feelings because my little children were truly hurting and the more I tried to make the day about them, they fought back and wanted it to also be about me too. This is what real relationships are about and it was voiced perfectly by the one child who I did not think would ever say it. “This day is about you too Mr. Stark!”  Emotions ran high and I urged them all to remember all that I did for them and go out into the world and be amazing to others. When it was said and done I was told by my God Mother,  “That it’s not an easy thing to leave but it is a process of mourning for both you and the children.” When she said that to me I was truly surprised how true it is. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I will be mourning for a while and so will they – all my precious children of Ascension. But again, my brothers and sisters that is what real relationships are when separation happens, there will be mourning.  I will greatly miss them and I know they will greatly miss me as well. What follows hopefully will be yet another opportunity to serve God’s people, meet them where they are and honor them as God has so honored me.

*The rest of this post is dedicated to the topic of leadership because that is what we all eventually become if we follow God if we listen to His divine words and if we discern what we are being directed to do. I chose this topic because it is at the heart of all my decisions I had made over the course of my life and good leaders build true relationships that are honored and cherished.

RELATIONSHIPS BUILT BY TRUE LEADERS

I recently found this book from one of my favorite Christian Writers and Pastors, Dr. John C. Maxwell who wrote, “How Successful People Lead“.  In it, he describes five levels of leadership;

  • Level 1 – Position: “It’s a Great Place to Visit, but You Wouldn’t Want to Live There.
  • Level 2 – Permission: “You Can’t Lead People until You Like People.
  • Level 3 – Production: “Making Things Happen Separates Real Leaders from Wannabes.
  • Level 4 – People Development: “Helping Individuals Leaders Grow Extends Your Influence and Impact.
  • Level 5 –  The Pinnacle: “The Highest Leadership Accomplishment Is Development Other Leaders to Level 4.

Maxwell writes, “In all my years that I’ve taught leadership, there has been one lecture that I have been asked to give more often than any other – from West Point to Microsoft headquarters and in countries all around the world. Why is it so popular? That lecture explains how successful people lead and provides a game plan for learning how to become a leader. It’s titled “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” and it has been used to train leaders in companies of every size and configuration, from small business to Fortune 100 companies. It has been used to help nonprofit organizations understand how to lead volunteers. And taught in more than 120 countries around the world. The concept is tested and proven. It also instructs people in the use of several tried -and-true techniques that will help them become successful at leadership. Looking at leadership as a series of levels that can be gained through targeted actions has many benefits.” Maxwell, (2013)

He clearly outlines in this small simple book the levels of Leadership and as I read it I smiled because I could see my own growth in each level and where I think I am…. But he takes these levels and puts them in sharp focus. “Level 1 – Position: People follow you because they have to.” Maxwell, p.5.  I know people in leadership that have been in leadership for a long time and have never passed this level. They lead out of fear! They lead out of making threats! They lead out of their own insecurities! In short, these people should not be leaders… they should be put in a nice office in the corner of the company they work for that has no contact with anyone else ever! I feel sorry for these types of leaders because they are so afraid of failure they take needless chances and lie about the reasons they made the decisions they did rather than, to be honest about the whole mess in the first place. People like this say they are Christians but their actions say otherwise. Level one leaders are, “Positional leadership is based on the rights granted by position and title. There is nothing wrong with having a leadership position. Everything is wrong with using position to get people to follow you. Position is a poor substitute for influence.” Maxwell, p.5.

As the Director of Technology, I have seen it all with the Principals I have served, five in total. I have always had problems with the ones who think they know more about technology than me… again, there is nothing wrong with having some knowledge of a subject, everything wrong with saying you are the expert when you’re not. I once told one of these principals that money, position, popularity, and/or power is not what drives me. What drives me is the children I serve, because I am here for them not you. What I didn’t say was that I love God above all, He drives me, He alone tells me what I need to do, how to do it, when to do it, and who I am there for. God is centered in my life and I promised Him many years ago that I would follow Him, go where he told to, and help His people on their level, meeting them where they are! Had this principal looked at the community which she served like that we might have been able to do great things together, but instead this principle took pleasure in the power bestowed upon them and it was evident in what they said, how they said it, what they did and how they did it. I had also years before told this same principle that serving this community of parents is 90% perception in that how they see you. What I did not say or explain is that when I say, “see you”, what I really meant comes from an African tribes definition of these two words minus the first of three words put together, as explained best by Africaknows.com,

“The Zulu greeting, ‘Sawubona’ means ‘I see you’ and the response ‘Ngikhona’ means ‘I am here’. I love the depth of meaning that African languages carry.  Inherent in the Zulu greeting and in the grateful response, is the sense that until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence. A Zulu folk saying clarifies this, ‘Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu’, meaning ‘A person is a person because of other people.'”

Challenge Question: “What would this world be like if we all respected each other on this level?”

3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:3, (NRSVACE)

Maxwell’s levels graduate in depth, for instance, “Level 2 – Permission: ‘People follow you because they want to.‘” p.7. In this level, you have built trust with those you manage. Leadership on this level are not about preserving their own position instead they are most concerned with understanding their employees, volunteers, and/or subordinates. They take an interest in all of their people’s lives, which includes those employees they don’t like. Isn’t this what Jesus preached about? Nothing is done from selfish ambition covered up with conceit! Leadership is a selfless position, one that every leader must emulate the example of our savior, the Good Shepard, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Maxwell’s level three is how I felt for a long time until I had the honor to attend the CMAST/LMU TL Program. “Level 3 – Production: ‘People follow you because of what you have done for the organization‘”.  Under my God Mothers leadership, things got done, morale improved, badly needed funds came into our school, turnover went done dramatically, and our school had momentum. We made a good team, one that moved the school forward! It wasn’t about her or me or any single stakeholder rather we all worked for the success this included, teachers, office staff, parents, and administration! Our school was happy and healthy! But once I had completed the CMAST program I saw the shift in how some people looked at me, how parents began to treat me, see they all saw my efforts in leadership as Maxwell’s Level 4, “People Development: ‘People follow you because of what you have done for them.'” p.9. As a teacher leader I developed other teachers to be leaders, I supported them and their ideas in more of direct way. I began supporting parents in ways I never thought I could, all of which was a connection which grew and gained momentum through offering classes they needed that would in the end help them help their children. See their perception of me was that of a leader who cares about them and their children’s future success, the select teachers felt the same way. I shifted into a leader who changed lives, touched hearts, build a lifelong respect that will be remembered despite the actions of those of my colleagues who are trying to whip all that goodness away. I lead with God, with relationships that hopefully will last a lifetime, again, emulating Jesus Christ.

Challenge Question: “What would this world be like if every leader had an honest to God open door policy?”

31 “He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’” ~ Matthew 13:31-32, (NRSVACE)

I like to think I have sowed a mustard seed within my children of Ascension and when they grow they will be the strongest and greatest people. So much so that other people will want to follow them because of what they, (my tiny children), have done for them. With God’s blessings, all my children and that of their parents I pray will mourn and overcome, build and love, I pray they become beautiful human beings that do good always. Remember the words of wisdom our Lord Jesus Christ has said, meditate on them, and then discern your own path as I have done.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

2017 TECH TEAM VIDEO: Click Here

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

PLEASE SUPPORT LISTENINGFAITHFULLYBLOG.COM BY MAKING ALL YOUR BIBLE PURCHASES THROUGH OUR BOOKSTORE POWERED BY AMAZON!

NRSV BIBLE: Click Here!

THE MESSAGE BIBLE: Click Here

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP by DIETRICH BONHOEFFER: Click Here

ETHICS by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

: Click Here

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 


A Warning Not to Forget God in Prosperity

deu-1-8-ww-wall-9x

8 “This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:1-2

The journey of Moses is the same journey that every father lives from the first day our first child is born to the day we breathe our last breath. The journey of Moses is the same journey as Christ when we reflect on the word “Charity”. This reflection I hope will take you on the perfect journey of what we are truly celebrating, that being first “The Most Holy Body And Blood Of Christ” and secondly that of “Father’s Day”.

Let’s begin with Moses, the Father of Isreal. We begin with a warning to not forget the hardship, the daily testing, the formation process, the charity God had provided His people through Moses.  God, the Father is the provider of everything we need, His word alone is all we need, and the daily ritual of living; if done through God’s commandments, will result in great prosperity.  This message of Moses is the same message every good father tells their children when it’s time to let them go experience the world. Most particularly Moses reminds the Hebrews about the gifts of God, i.e. when they were starving in the desert God provided them with manna from Heaven, when they were thirsty God provided them with water from the rocks. Let’s fast fast-forward, in our world today every father works hard to provide for his children, works one, two, and even sometimes three jobs to provide food, clothes, a place to sleep, and education for his children. A good father provides just as God provided for the Israelites through His prophet Moses. In this way through, “Charity”, basic necessities are provided for us as children by both our earthly father and our Heavenly Father. In both instances, the manna from God is the provision and the first partaking of the body and blood of Christ thousands of years before His birth. Moses prayed and God delivered in the times of need what they needed. So too does our earthly fathers work hard and pray and God makes it possible for them to deliver what is needed to his family.

CONNECTIN 1: So we celebrate both the provision of manna, “The Most Holy Body And Blood Of Christ”, within the celebration of what our earthly fathers work hard to provide to their children. 

Aren’t We All Called to Participate in One Body?

communion

16 “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NRSVACE) 

If Moses’s journey through the wilderness was an act of Charity, if God sending Moses to confront the Pharaoh in Egypt was an act of Charity, and if earthly fathers providing for their children are  an act of Charity then so too is the greatest of sacrifices we have ever seen in history; that of the perfect lamb, Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His body we take into our body and together we become one, one body and blood with Christ, one body and blood with God, and one in Christ with our many brothers and sisters worldwide! It is an act of Charity that leads all of us to Costly Discipleship which is provided by God’s Costly Grace.

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“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1995). The Cost of Discipleship, p.45

The case for a man to provide for his children is the same sacred duty that God Himself carries out in our everyday lives. It is the Holy Body and Blood of Christ that makes us all one and it is through this act of Charity have we found Discipleship and Grace with God the Father. Mankind could not be saved with Sacrifice because we are inherently born in sin. To this point, Jesus was born Sinless, and thus the perfect sacrifice to save our souls and to become one with our Father in Heaven. However, this comes at a cost; our salvation came at a cost. So it is proper to say, aren’t we all called to participate in the sacrifice of Christ, to eat from one loaf?

3 “Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.” ~ Deuteronomy 8: 3-5 The Message (MSG) 

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So we learn that God disciplines us out of Charity to disciples us, in the same ways Earthly Fathers disciplines their children out of Charity, to make disciples out of them.

CONNECTIN 2: God provided food for the starving Isieliriates out of Charity, which was bringing them into costly discipleship, or costly grace. In the same was earthly fathers bring their children into discipleship through partaking in the one loaf, by educating their children to partake in the eucharist of Christ. All of which could not be a reality with great sacrifice. 

Truest of Intentions

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51 “‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.’” ~ John 6:51-58 (NRSVACE) 

Every day we live we are tested by God. That statement is a scary one because it makes us accountable. Each test we pass we grow in our faith, and each test we fail we must repeat. God is true to His words and that is what makes His word life for the sinner. Moses knew this and saw many perish in the desert, many more passed and became a nation. God tests us to prove to our own mind, heart, and soul that we are ready and that our intentions are honorable, that we will obey His commandments. God knows who will and who won’t, but as it rains on the evil doer it also rains on the righteous by this we then are all given the same equal opportunity at His testing, His molding, His teachings, His word.

The Eucharist is the one body, the one loaf we all partake, as each test builds our faith, and we, therefore, become disciplined in the ways of God. This is passed down from Moses to modern man, each Earthly Father has a sacred calling to bring up his children in the admonition of the Lord. Each Earthly Father is rightfully, therefore, called a provider acting out of charity to his children. Each Earthly Father is, therefore, rightfully, tested in his abilities to provide, to partake in daily sacrifices for his children. Each Earthly Father is proven worthy when he obeys the commandments of God and brings his children to the Lord as disciples proving daily that each moment is God-centered, God-inspired, and God tested! We all are made worthy through this process and we are all saved through each word of God, for that is all that we need. Moses is warning us today to not forget what God has done, not to forget what Jesus Christ has done, not to forget the Lord our Heavenly Father when we become prosperous in our earthly lives for each thing given is from God.

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Today we celebrate our Heavenly Father, His son Jesus, and all our Earthly Fathers who partake in the one loaf of eternal life. We celebrate each man who takes up this sacred vow and which moves mountains for his child/ren, and who willing is tested, willing makes sacrifices, willingly takes on the responsibility to discipline his child/ren into disciples of God. It is the greatest act of Charity these things can happen and it is through His Costly Grace we are saved. As an Earthly Father, our sacred duties begin with the first breath of our first born child and ends at our last breath.

“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son; ye were bought at a price”, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1995). The Cost of Discipleship, p.45

CONNECTIN 3: God tests us daily, He provide us with manna from heaven and His sons Holy Body and Blood so that we may have everlasting life. God proves to our hearts and minds the knowledge of our truest intentions as he is molding us, making us disciplined in His ways so we too can become His disciples. This is a costly process because it cost God much. 

Challenge Question: Can you list the many ways you have shown others Charity? Can you list all the people you have discipled, or how many people you have won over for God? How about listing how many times you have heard God directing you to show Charity through your own discipleship?

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY 2017!

Video Version of Reflection: Click Here

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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When I Answer His Call

17 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” ~ Mark 1:17 (NKJV) 

John is holding a net preparing his boat to go fishing.  When along came a man who says to him, “Follow me.”  How many times in history has God whispered those words to mankind that were never written down? How many times has God whispered those words to you? “Follow Me.”  Two very simple short words, but oh’ how powerful! When God whispers those words into our heart of hearts our minds begin cranking! We begin to see things differently, hear people differently, live our lives differently, and pay a high cost for listening and following.  “What cost?” You might ask.  The cost of Gods loving is costly grace, for his son who thousands of years ago whispered into John’s ears, “Follow me.”  A man who also died on the cross for our sins. His grace is costly indeed! Now instantly there is a choice we must make for we cannot ignore what love we have been given by hearing God’s voice in our hearts. The choice is quite simple, to answer His divine call or to ignore His divine call. To follow Jesus or to live separately from Jesus.  The human heart and mind are in all fairness not ready for these two simple words, no one is really ready to hear the call of God. For the Bible is filled with humans who heard and wrestled with these words.  Mose was not ready, Solomon, King David, and even Adam himself were not really ready!  We are not ready because of sin. But when we hear God’s voice in our hearts we begin to contemplate the cost of grace, the cost of following Him.  When I hear God say, “Follow Me.” I know I am blessed, I know that He walks with me, and I see His grace work throughout my life but I wrestle with what h wants me to do, I wrestle with his plan for my life, and I wrestle with following his commands when all I want to do is do what I want to do. My flesh constantly fights against the spirit, the soul is constantly at odds with the sin debt of my flesh.

Guiding Question: What do you see and hear when God’s calls to you saying, “Follow Me.”

When I Fail Him – He Restores My Soul

72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” ~ Mark 14:72 (NRSVACE) 

“Follow Me!” rang in Peters’ ears. Here was a disciple of Jesus who was with Him in every part of Jesus’s ministry. A man who was active in every moment from those first words of “Follow Me.” to the last words at the last supper. Peter was told of his failure, told when it would come, and why he would do it. Peter at the time argued saying to Jesus that he would not fail him, Peter told Jesus how he loved Him, how he wanted to go with Him. In every aspect of His ministry our Lord, Jesus Christ was teaching the disciples one joint lesson and twelve mini individualized lessons every day for three years and it is those hard lessons that were meant to mold them into real disciples that would pronounce the Glory of God and who would not fail in that task! Peter was not rejected when he failed Jesus, despite what he might have thought within that horrible realization of reality when he heard the cock crow. Jesus would restore Peters’ heart and raise him to sit with Him and the other apostles, “on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” ~ Matthew 19:28 (NRSVACE)  Peter, (The Rock), would be the first in the empty tomb, perhaps out of regret for his denial of Jesus, perhaps out of happiness that Jesus indeed did rise from the dead. Peter was the first to see the risen Jesus, 34 “They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon Peter!’” ~ Luke 24;34 (NRSVACE).

This example of Jesus’s grace, love, and forgiveness is offered to everyone who also fails Him daily, fails Him in moments of weakness, and fails Him when we could have been stronger in our faith. When we fail Christ, then repent and are sincere He restores our soul! Look at what He did for Peter, Look at what Christ did for Paul, and look at what Christ did for every person you may know who is a sinner. When I fail Jesus my heart sinks into my chest and tears run from my eyes. I hear the words I first promised, “I will not fail you, my Lord.”, but yet I do over and over. I fear when will he have enough of me and simply throw me away. But then in my repentance, I hear his words that Peter spoke to Jesus about forgiveness and what our Lord answered him with, “21 “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'” ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (NRSVACE). Through these words from my personal savior, I am assured that Jesus indeed is loving and fair and He would never forsake me even though I have failed Him many times over as a sinner.

Guiding Question: Deep down in your heart when you know you have sinned again God, what does He do, what words do you hear Him say to relieve your grief?  

He Call’s Us as Individuals

26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:26 (NRSVACE)

Jesus indeed said some very complicated things, controversial statements, and some very worrying comments. Jesus left no room for debate about what he was demanding of us, what God demands of us all. Jesus does not want people who would be hard-hearted, unforgiving, and single-minded unable to grow in their faith and acts of mercy and charity towards their brothers and sisters. No! I tell you, my brothers and sisters, God wants growth mindset in every aspect of our lives and testimony to His many works of mercy and charity. Therefore, God tests us every day as individuals to determine our intentions so be ready for the test! As best stated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the 1937 publication of, The Cost of Discipleship, he states clearly that, “Through the call of Jesus men become individuals. Willey-nilly, they are compelled to decide, and that decision can only be made by themselves. It is no choice of their own that makes them individuals; it is Christ who makes them individuals by calling them. Every man is called separately, and must follow alone.” pg. 94.

When I received the call to follow Jesus I was four or five. I was sitting in the Southern Baptist Church and the Minister after every sermon would step off the stage and stand in front of the first pew, very close to where mom and dad had chosen to sit that day. I remember the burning sensation in my heart, the goosebumps that ran up and down my body, and the undeniable voice in my head that said, “Follow Me.” It was in that moment I wanted to stand up right there and then and walk to the Minister and profess my desire to follow Christ. But I did not, no it took me about a month or so to think it through, to contemplate what I had felt and what Jesus showed me in that instant of conversion. See Jesus showed me the hardships, the pain, the humiliation, the suffering, and the sacrifices He went through so I could be saved. My question I asked in every bedtime prayer was, “What makes me worthy of such love?” I contemplated the trials and tribulations that God would throw my way to test me. Jesus was flat out frank about what the cost of discipleship would be. He called me as an individual and I answered Him as an individual, and my walk with Christ has been my own walk, private, and singularly between Him and me. I walk with God and I can testify to you my brothers and sisters that He has never left me alone, He has never betrayed me, He has never given me more than what I could handle, He has never steered me wrong and in my greatest of pain He is my strength, my shield, my armor, and my saviour. God lives within my heart, He protects me and guides me, molds me, and teaches me. God ignites my desires to grow closer to Him, and to study His living word. God tests me every day from morning to night. He gave me the gifts of which I share with the world and all this I do through His divine inspiration and through His son’s direction. I belong to God and He is my master and I do as He would have me do, I go where He wishes me to travel too, I speak His words when He commands me too, I am His instrument and He is my greats ally and love. But in everything, I am left alone with Him as my good counsel.

Guiding Question: From the first moment you heard His voice was your life changed? Has God been all these things for you too? What makes you worthy of such love?

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Persecution Equals Revival!

18 ‘”If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” ~ John 15:18-19 (NRSVACE) 

History is against those who persecute others, no matter the reason for the persecution, history almost always is in favor of the underdog.  Case in point the Roman Empire; here we have a powerful nation that controlled vast lands and forced other nations to pay homage to them. The people of Rome worshiped many different gods and thought in their ignorance that Rome was blessed by those fake gods and would last forever. Many religions perished and or were assimilated into an ever-growing pool of fake beliefs and government controls which ultimately led to monumental corruption. “The decline of Rome dovetailed with the spread of Christianity, and some have argued that the rise of a new faith helped contribute to the empire’s fall.” Andrews, Evan (2014) 8 Reasons Why Rome Fell. In this Christianity was the underdog much like it is in China with many new converts to the religion being persecuted for their beliefs, killed, tortured, imprisoned, and the main symbol of Christ’s Church being taken or destroyed. Nothing new, for this, has been going on for centuries. You would think people would learn from history. But, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us why the world hates us, “believers” so, for the world first hated Him.  See it works like this, being a Christian means you no longer belong to the world, a world filled with sin, a world filled with people trying to save themselves through their own deeds, and as hard as they try to earn their place in heaven the people of the world have fallen short of the glory of God. So like Satan, they are powerless to save themselves and despise those who believe in Christ and therefore are saved by His blood on the cross. The symbol of the cross that once was something to fear turned into a holy symbol by early Christians and therefore overcame the world yet again. Which is why the Chinese government during their raids takes this holiest and powerful of symbols from the churches they raid. Therefore, I say to you my brothers and sisters of China, stand strong and replace the many crosses stolen from your places of worship with yet another, and if that one is also taken from you, fashion another until finally, one becomes permanent in your church. Let the hatred flow off your backs and let Gods love convert millions more because you have suffered for our Lord and Savour. Like the Christians of Rome, let there be a revival that overtakes your country until the name of Jesus is said in every household of new believers and Christianity becomes the one religion the Government can’t control and must submit to. All of which is done by the power of peace and of love and by remembering those who have fallen in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ…. (Their Feast Day is July 9)

Cheap Grace!

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.” ~John 15:26-27 (NRSVACE)

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1937) The Cost of Discipleship.

As implied, Bonhoeffer was one of many advocates sent by God to call out the many sins of the evil-doers. Bonhoeffer, as described by Yu Jie, who authored a post titled, “China’s Christian Future”, in a blog called First Things, wrote, “Chinese Christians also see in Bonhoeffer a man who dared wage war as an ant on an elephant. He found wisdom and courage in Jesus, knowing that Jesus exists for others, and those who follow him should do the same.”  So on this point made by Yu Jie, I want to reflect most, for it is true that Jesus gives His people strength no matter their race, color, or social standing, for if you claim Jesus as your personal savior and then are baptised you are washed clean and are no longer a part of this sinful world. This is as true as being the underdog, “waging war as an ant on an elephant” because sin is so pervasive, so under the radar that it is hard to spot but when it raises it’s ugly head we believers can spot sin a mile away.  So, in the spirit of Bonhoeffer, I tell you my brothers and sister of China believe in Jesus, belief in the salvation His blood purchased for all of mankind. For God loves everyone the same, He gave all of us the way back to Him so we all can sit together as one nation under God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our creator if you let Him will give you the strength and the fortitude to move mountains, raise up the poor and down trotted, give life to the lifeless, and the wisdom to rule with love and dignity with a just hand. Remember, my brothers and sisters of China, those who kill over religion are seen as murders, therefore let your prayers and crosses be your weapons and God’s transformational power to convert those who are ignorant and do horrible things to you. Do not fall into “cheap grace” for it is morally bankrupt and evil. Instead, stand within the thousands of years of history of masters, saints, and prophets have walked, receiving God’s grace and His love will convert millions more to aid you in your cause.

The Power of God to Convert the Nonbelievers!

The Lord’s Grace to Paul

12 “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (NRSVACE) 

Paul of Tarsus was the chief of sinners, he persecuted many early Christians, was a blasphemer, and an insolent opponent who hated Christ! But Jesus showed him mercy, converted him and pressed him into His Holy service. Jesus appeared to Paul in a way that was meant specifically to prove His divinity and His mercy. Jesus’s words were not filled with hate but yet love for a man who hated Him. Jesus’s grace was upon Paul of Tarsus in the same way His grace is upon you, my brothers and sisters of China. Paul testifies that he after his conversion had acted ignorantly within his unbelief and it was the power of Jesus’s love which opened his eyes for the first time. Paul also declares before everyone, most particularly early Christians who deemed Paul their enemy that, “15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:15 (NRSVACE)

So the message is clear, God’s love extends to every human-beings on planet Earth and in His eyes, we are all His children. God forgives the murder, blasphemer, persecutor, and people of violence when their eyes are truly opened for the first time. Grace comes to the repentant heart, The baptized communion, the transformed sinner into a child of God. When this occurs there is a specific charge all Christians must live by;  “We are not to conceal our faith and our belonging to Christ, not to bury the Word of the Gospel but to let it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in concrete situations, as a strength that galvanizes, purifies, and renews.” ~ Pope Francis, (2017), Embracing the Way of Jesus, pg. 5. 

My brothers and sisters of China, embrace your new found beliefs and worship openly, be not afraid as through your worship you convert many, and allow God’s grace to galvanize your hearts allowing your faith in Christ circulate throughout your entire life and in every relationship and in every action you take. God walks with the faithful, he is your armor, shield, and protection. profess your beliefs and educate yourselves and others in the ways of Christ and your days shall be many. Remember the promise of God, the promise of everlasting life through His son, Jesus Christ.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Mother’s Day Message

4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)

With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.

Introduction of Mother Mary

26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.

Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God.  Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.

Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree.  How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David.  God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.

26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).

The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God.  In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!

33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.  He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).

Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG). 

The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;

38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG). 

 Mary’s Love For Jesus and God

21  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE) 

Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love.  She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.

Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!

Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure.  The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Twisted Words


‘Oh, God… I am a Sinner!’ 

5 “All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.” ~ Psalm 56:5 (NIV)

I begin today with a confession… one that every person is obligated to make, “I am a sinner.”   Have you ever felt bound, held down, kept quiet, ignored, made inconsequential, pushed away, rejected, and even made fun of behind your back because you are a sinner?  King David did, all the apostles did, every great leader has. I imagine King David must have said something that he didn’t write down, something like this. ‘Oh, God I am a sinner…  Is my sin so great that my every word is twisted and used against me? How many more times will those with power come calling my name wanting me to give up and quit through their relentless targeting and hateful sneers?  For the words they say harm me and my reputation, will my community be able to tell the difference and know I have been lied against?’

King David felt hounded for sure! His Kingship outright challenged! Not by strangers did these things come, rather it was through his own family. Jealousy is the devil’s weapon blinding a person and keeping them from doing good while bending their very nature into a twisted mess that does nothing but evil. King David knew this and was armed with the sprite of God.

Guiding Question: How many times in your life have you felt that way…  felt lied against, felt your words twisted because  you are a  sinner? 

In reflection, I can honestly say these feeling as a teacher has come to me more than once from different sources and its root was mainly from other people feeling jealous or because of a perception of me having more power than they or  the perception of my earning more money than they, and maybe because they saw my good works. In any case, it never had to do with me being a sinner… because that my brothers and sisters is between God and I!  For it is to these whom I speak could see how much effort I put into building relationships with people and see the response from that effort. Sadly, those people were very good at small talk but lacked the social skills to really build community and so they felt threatened. Many people in my life have twist my words in conversations and yes they did what no Christian should ever do… bear falsely against me. Why do I share this? Because many ordinary people feel like the world has closed in on them and that they are being hounded and their words twisted which deeply impacts their lives in a negative way.  Regardless of whether you personally like someone or not does not give you the right to work such malice against them! I say to you who feel this way, never give up and keep your head held high, let them be evil while you continue to do God’s work!  To that theme, I wanted to point out that King David wrote about his experiences in such detail that it is inspiring to read about, but he was not the only one in the Bible to have felt this way. In fact, there are many people who have felt hounded! To have felt their words twisted and evil being done against them. In each case, we draw inspiration from their experiences and know God was always with them by how the story developed and eventually ended. So again my brothers and sisters, turn away from the world’s sinful hate and gain God’s never ending inspiration through His message found within the Holy Bible and allow yourself to truly be inspired!

Gaining Inspiration through Comparing Scriptural Translations

5  “All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.” Psalm 56:5 (NRSVACE)

The message in this translation is more modern, a little more impactful. The hurt King David felt becomes more understandable to our advanced sensibilities. Instead of the word “twist”, it is replaced with, “seek to injure my cause”. The charge in these words are more server and cuts deeper and becomes more personal.  In comparing them we can see how words have meaning, words are powerful, words, if used wrongly, can do real damage.  They impacted King David as they do use all today. It is easy to drum up chaos from nothing, but it is much harder to develop and create real lasting true friendships and relationships.  With that said, my community has always known the difference between the truth and the lie being told. For God walks with my community, my friends, and throughout all my relationships. Like King David, I have faith in the one true God, and money has never been my motivator nor has power. God has been my motivator throughout my teaching career and in all aspects of my life. I write this to give inspiration to those who are feeling hounded… I can relate. But you have one powerful relationship with God I wanted to remind you about. Having a real relationship/communion with God will get you through the toughest of times!

Guiding Question: Can you see God’s power working in the background of this scripture: Psalm 56:5? 

5-6  “They don’t let up— they smear my reputation and huddle to plot my collapse.  They gang up, sneak together through the alleys to take me by surprise, waiting for their chance to get me.” Psalms 56:5-6 (The Message Bible – MSG)

This translation is very clear… King David’s voice is really heard! “They don’t let up!”  Now we can see the effect of harassment and bullying as it is seen by those who are receiving this treatment. “They just won’t stop!”  These words imply a timeless – never ending cycle of hurt through the spoken and written word. I find this interesting because now we have completely moved into the modern era with this language. Now we have our enemies huddling up, plotting and active in gossip! Broken down to its finest parts King David was being harassed and gossip was being spread against him. Wow… people have not changed in over two thousand years! With this added information it is easy to see how hopeless King David must have felt. Again, this reflection is written for those who are feeling this way today… right now in 2017! Remember, God has never changed in how much he loves us, how much He will protect us, and what He will do to ease our pain. Again, despite his feelings, David’s love for God was greater and his comfort from God given in abundance. So I tell you, my brothers and sisters, we all have been plotted against, harassed, marginalized, made fun of, been the object of gossip, and even ridiculed for something, by someone. I say draw inspiration from these Bible stories, be inspired by others you know – be it me – or someone else who has told these kinds of stories. But most of all stay inspired by how God is working in the background to comfort you and lessen your pain. Remember, we are all confessed sinners… but we are also saved by the blood of Christ!

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ~ Matthew 21:5 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

Excitement is in the air! Can you feel it? The Lord has begun his passion and our King has come on the back of a donkey! The world is about to change forever! Prophecy is about to be fulfilled! In reflection, this moment in history would have been one of the most awesome spectacles in all of human history. There would have been no other time we would have seen Jesus at his best, bringing Gods message to the masses. I often think that He must have had a great smile on his face, the weight of the world resting on Him and He knowing the mission was about to be over. Soon, He would seal His fate and Gods people would soon be saved.  In retrospect, I also think how awesome this moment would have been for His disciples; think about what they had been through, all the miracles they had seen, all the words of wisdom and truly electrifying preaching they had heard. So when Jesus told two of His disciples to go get a donkey and her colt and that they will be waiting and if anyone asks what they were doing for them to say, ‘The Master needs them!’ and the animals will be handed over, must have left in their minds the question; ‘How would Jesus have to known about the Donkey and the colt and what their owner would say before it happened?’ No wonder Jesus tells us mortals, “Yeah of little faith!” Honestly,  the disciples should not have any wonderings or questions regarding what Jesus was doing because by this time they should truly believe and trust in him. But as is mention in the bible the disciples do not say they are his followers or friends of Jesus when the soldiers took him.  Some of us are still like that crowd that went to see Jesus entering into Jerusalem. We say that we follow God but we do not know why, we have wonderings, we are seeking answers, or like sheep asleep in our faith we simply follow the crowd.  We should be more focused on the ‘GOOD NEWS OF GOD!’  Jesus was entering into Jerusalem already filled with humility, peace, and victory; which he was sent on this earth to bring to us, His perfect love, peace, and justice. Truly in this moment, Jesus was teaching us by modeling with actions and by His words of how to treat others as well as how to live the commandments of God!

Even though Jesus knew that people were going to deny him and betray him, he still talks to them and reached to them and prayed for them.

Personal Reflection

Jesus Concurs

59 “Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.”’ 62 The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ 63 But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ 64 Jesus said to him,

‘You have said so. But I tell you from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68 saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’”~ Matthew 26:57-68 (NRSVACE)

The doors to Jerusalem is thrown open! The Lord of life eternal is riding down the road! People are throwing their garments and stripping palms from the trees before him! The crowd is praising Him! But this is not how Jesus concurs, for the way He fulfills His mission is through blood and through death! In this moment I am struck by how happy everyone was and how willing to praise and glorify Jesus yet days later they would all but abandon Him. How many times in my life have I turned away from God, yet through reflection can I see his mission working for me, through me, and with me!  Each task I am given is the next stone higher being supported by the foundations laid for me on that day for my personal salvation through Christ as his house is being built within me through His victory on the cross! How many times have I been called names, my words twisted so unjust charges can be hurled at me, how many times have people let me down personally.  My human emotions tell me to cut them off, to walk away from them forever, but my heart which is with God tells me to forgive and to build and to love them anyway, as I have given it to God.  Thinking of how Jesus dealt with those who betrayed Him, I have to say not one word of hatred came from His mouth. How disciplined His words and actions when being interrogated. How quickly He showed true authority over the word of God. This is the model we all need to follow when people test our character, morality, and our faith! He never told lies about people, Jesus never twisted others words who ridiculed Him; Jesus indeed is the way, the life, and the light of the world.

The Sacrifice

49 “But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’ 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection, they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’ ~ Matthew 27: 49-56 (NRSVACE)

How many times have we thought someone had done something against us then to find out they did not or that they were innocent?  How many times have we ourselves been blamed but was innocent? In either case, we are not as innocent as Jesus on that day He was crucified. I often think how much we have to learn when it comes to being a child of God. There is nothing we can do about our own sin, but Jesus could and did in giving His perfect life to bring us closer to God. To be forgiven, I mean truly forgiven means we need to first forgive others and rebuild the bridges that had been burned. In this time of Holy Week, we need to contemplate our own salvation; our relationship with Christ. Our Father in heaven so loved us that He gave to us His only son Jesus. That is so powerful, so humbling, and so merciful of our God to have done what He did. Let now your contemplation connect with God and let his spirit fill your heart renewing your soul and dedication to God and the mission he has set us all on.

Amen.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NRSVACE)

Many times in life we look to God for His comfort, we ask for our hearts to be relieved of the worry, pain, and heartache that life can bring us from time to time. But to be comforted by the Holy Spirit in times when our loved ones are near death and or have passed away is when God can truly bring His healing gifts into our lives. There is nothing quite like God and His love to heal our morning hearts bestowing upon us the comfort we seek. So, I say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that praying for our loved ones who are about to go home in restful eternal sleep is more for the living than the dead.

Therefore, I ask all of you to pray for our sister Cecilia who is 94 years old and who has lived a life filled with joy, her heart has been blessed by the Lord, and her love for life is contagious. In these final moments Lord we pray through your Son who came to earth to redeem your children so they may be with you for all time, please give Cecilia the mind to remember her life you gave to, the family who loves her dearly, and the strength to journey into your loving arms. In these ways, we ask for comfort to be poured out unto all her sons and daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all other members of her large and beautiful family.

Let us all now in these hours of morning pray the following prayer together:

Dear Lord, God in heaven, hallowed be your name. For it is to you we pray for comfort in this time of mourning for your loving daughter Cecilia. Lord, we ask of you to hold her close to you, to give her eternal happiness in your presence and to give comfort to her family she leaves behind. Hold her hand and guide her spirit back to you for it is from you that Cecilia and all her family and her worldly brothers and sisters have been given life eternal.

Dear Lord, Oh’ God let your will be done. Let the time of your plans of which we cannot comprehend be manifest coming to fruition as you see fit. We,  your children ask only for your comfort during this time of waiting and mourning. We pray for your peace and love to fill our hearts to overcome the grief of our impending loss. For we know you have redeemed our souls and love us unconditionally.

For it has been written:

54 “When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’

55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?

   Where, O death, is your sting?’

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NRSVACE)

[Let know your silence and personal prayers for Cecilia be given to God in the Highest]

Amen,


 “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 11:2 (NRSVACE)

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For those who do not know how Private Catholic Schools work as it relates to rehiring teachers the month of March is known as the ‘Month of Discernment’.  A lot of crazy stuff happens in this month. For starters teachers and principals are given the opportunity to decide on whether to return to their school or not.  This is done through the use of a ‘Letter of Intent’, where one marks what they intend to do. The options are quite simple really, either one wants to return, not return, or simply hasn’t made up their mind. In any case, March 31st is the deadline, (but each school can set their own deadline), and if each teacher and principal have done their work properly in this month they would have prayed to God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help guide them in the proper direction.

I chose this topic for exploration and reflection because the process can bring new in sites on your job, mission, friends, boss, career, and even on family matters. To actually take a month to reflect on what you are doing in every aspect of your life and the effect you are having on everyone else around you is a humbling process. To embark on such an inwardly journey is really to search like Jesus after His baptism. Therefore, in this posting, I will dive headlong into this process and offer new thoughts and hopefully bring everyone closer to accepting whatever decision they have made.

The Spirit of Wisdom

4 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished.” ~ Matthew 4:1-2 (NRSVACE)

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When we undergo discernment it is like Christ who purified his body by fasting, knowing he would have to prove himself against temptation. The land is barren, desolate, and utterly unforgiving. Our souls are racked with the temptation of the world and all it has to offer, and the enticements of money that force most catholic teachers to move on after gaining their credentialing to a higher paying public school job. Here is the difference between staying for little money and moving on for much more money;  usually those who stay normally do so because the ‘job’ is not a ‘job’, rather it becomes a mission to serve others. Whereas those who move on find out that what started out as a mission has now turned into a job! The spiritual aspect is removed and teaching becomes a profession of academics rather than professionals invested in every child’s future and year to year outcome.  In other words, in the religious institutions teaching and learning reps greater intrinsic rewards. Each temptation is met with the strength of Jesus, the Wisdom of Jesus, the knowledge of Jesus rather than relying on yourself. There is much more support and much more satisfaction in the ‘job’ / mission being done in the classrooms. With that said, teaching becomes more about the personal relationships you make with your students and the ability to connect in many ways; the most important way being through the moral aspect of religion, which roots them in the understanding of right and wrong developing in them the gift of the spirit of the fear of God. So, each year this is what is at steak, each year every teacher must decide to continue serving or to move on and take up an earthly pursuit.  Each teacher must ask themselves,

“Is the money I earn a replacement for the intrinsic rewards I received daily from seeing my students grow and learn?”

 Which Spiritual Gift Should Teachers Ask For?

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Clearly, thirty days is not a long time. The healthy practice of faith requires much prayer and reflection. Therefore, the spirit of wisdom and understanding would be the most powerful gifts during this time of discernment.

The prayer usually goes something like this;

“Dear Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus your only son, I pray for the wisdom, the words, the understanding to hear your instructions for me, for my family, and for my students. Dear Lord, guide me in the ways I should go, give me the understanding needed to stay on the path you have put me on. Dear Lord help me stay effective in my teaching, help me stay faithful to your Holy words, and I submit my life to you and to your Holy Spirit. I come to you humbly asking your blessing, your guidance, your strength, your wisdom in the next stage of my life, may my steps reflect your will for me and for all the students I teach and or will teach in the future. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.” 

I cannot tell you how many times I had prayed that prayer. How many times I fought off the temptation of more money, better benefits, better housing, car, and or better life that money can bring. But each time God has shown me how I affect the students and how my relationship with them has helped do his will through my mission; the mission he put me on, one that has also molded me into a better human being. In the end, it’s really a no-brainer!

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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8  “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8  (NRSVACE) 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I say to you… I hear your voices, your many pleas for things I cannot provide you. Instead, I offer these words of wisdom: In times when our lives spiral out of control or when people with power over us decide to do ungodly things or when rudeness through favoritism overcomes that special place in associates hearts; know your place and stifle your frustrations, choosing instead to do what is good.  For what will come from a confrontation when the other person or members of a group have already twisted your words or have bore falsely against you?  For I say to you if they have done it once what is stopping them from doing again? Instead, let the love of goodness overtake you and give your frustrations to God. Therefore, goodness in your hearts will be preserved in the eyes of our Saviour, our actions will then have confirmed the sacrifice of the cross.

A wise man once offered this prayer; “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Remember my brothers and sisters in Christ, that when walking with God you have serenity, love, peace, forgiveness, absolution, from God; therefore you are blessed and made holy. Let not temptation bring you down by allowing your mind to be filled with the many things you would like to change but have not the power to make happen. Let not your heart be deceived by the actions of a few who would lead you to ruin. Instead, make preparations for only those things you have the power to change, and when you take action let those choices be filled with goodness done for the sake of holiness only.  Fill your heart with courage to make the tough choices, to take action on them, to carry out fully the goodness of the needed change. Forget not to pray to our Lord in Heaven, asking Him alone for the path which you must follow and be confident that God will give you the wisdom to tell the difference between what you can and cannot change.

6 “For wisdom is a kindly spirit, but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words; because God is witness of their inmost feelings, and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.” ~ Wisdom 1:6 (NRSVACE) 

Thus, my brothers and sisters in Christ, your obligations have also been given to you through the Holy Spirit which loves kindness and who is gentle to the people of God. Stay away from those who curse the Lord, those who have filled their hearts with hypocrisy,  walk away from the blasphemers for all these individuals will be judged accordingly. Rest assured the twisted words and actions will come calling upon them and for the holy – such as you – my brothers and sisters, for you surely do not want to see this judgment when it comes. Hence walk away and be confident in the power and uprightness of our God. Know there will always be those who profess to be Christian and thus dwell among you the faithful flock of God yet they are truly sent by Satan to do the work of evil; be aware of whom you speak to, befriend only those you can trust and have professed their faith in public. For God hears all, sees all, knows all, and will give you the rights to make only the changes which he wills to be changed that which fits within His overall plan for your life. Therefore, you have heard it said,

14 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’ ~ John 14:1 (NRSVACE)

Amen,

visit-with-me

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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The Word Becomes Flesh

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” ~ John 1:1-5 (NRSVACE)

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Starting with Adam and the fall of man, to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Salmon, to King David; God has been with us. He sent many prophets to foretell of His only son, God hinted through all this time that sin equaled death and that He only wants life – salvation for all of humanity.  Isaiah’s message gave details; his words would become the road map, bringing us closer to the fullness of God’s plan; bringing to us that new life for all mankind.  God promised there would be a day when sins could be forgiven and that men could be saved because the light and the life had come to pay the price.

6 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:6-9 (NRSVACE)

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John the Baptist came with a specific mission and through his mission he accomplished three specific things with his ministry of baptism. First,  John stated that he came as the voice in the wilderness. (Matthew 3:3).  Second, John witnessed before the Pharisees that he came baptizing with water, (Matthew 3:11).  Finally,  in John 1: 29 –  he testifies to the divinity of Christ.  John describes in detail what he saw and experienced.  In these three scriptures, we are given the outline of what it means to be called to serve with fidelity.  These descriptions of John’s service required of him specific talents so that scripture would be fulfilled.  Within his service to God –  John the Baptist gave witness to the signs which directed him to Jesus and which drove him to accept his call to serve with his whole heart, mind, body, soul, and strength – never shying away from the good work of God – even unto death. In John’s voice we can hear his testimony come to life as found in the Message Bible;

29-31 “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about! ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was – only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.”  

32-34 John clinched his witness with this: “ I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  That’s exactly what I  saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God.”  

10 “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:10-13 (NRSVACE)

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 Jesus finally is born to his people, the people of Israel, the very people who ironically had been calling on God for a savior to come deliver them from the Romans.  Yet when He was born the world did not know Him, and the people of Israel would not recognize their prayers had not just been heard but now answered. To the Israelites Jesus was not the Son of God, for He did not come with a sword, or a legend of Angels to smite the Romans, nor was Jesus the Zealot they were looking for. But there were many who began to hear his words, follow Him as He went working miracles and demonstrating His divine authority over the natural world who believed and thus saved.

But on Christmas day we celebrate the word that became flesh in the body and blood of the baby Jesus, born to Joseph and Mary who are within the line of King David. We celebrate the love and mercy of Jesus who was with God who chose to come for the salvation of all mankind. We celebrate the gift of salvation that His divine blood grants to all who repents and walks in His divine light as a child of God. Finally, we celebrate the very fulfillment of the promise of God who has always been there with us throughout all of human history and who paved the way for the day we all can be with Him forever and ever.

Merry Christmas!

Amen

 

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As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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The Lord Moves in Mysterious Ways

 2“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. ~ Isaiah 9:2 (NRSVACE)

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Human rulers have a tendency to do two things that drive God absolutely crazy. First, they view their subjects as pawns not much different than how the pieces are moved around on a chessboard.  This view ignores the humanity within each person of whom God specifically created and gave life too. Secondly, they cling to power ignoring the needs of the many under their charge. How many famines have happened because of one bad decision of a King, or a war start because of a King’s ego, or the over taxation of the populous so one that one so-called King could grow richer rather than poorer? Indeed, under any of those circumstances, the people would be walking in darkness praying to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, our God, the God of Love, Mercy, and Kindness would have to send help to a land – a people who live in a land of deepening darkness.

3″You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing the plunder.” ~ Isaiah 9:3 (NRSVACE)

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Who wouldn’t want to have great riches? Who wouldn’t welcome an increase of food, money, resources, and a bigger harvest? In that environment, people tend to feel exalted and important as they receive more than they could ever use or need. But this bounty would have to be coming from somewhere? Something massive would have to have changed to bring about such richness. In history, such a shift usually comes from a change in leadership – as in a new King. Now let’s think for a second if God the Father heard His people cry out from a deep depression like state where tyrants took rather than gave to their people  – clearly an intervention would have to be looming. After all, God did literally respond twice before.

4 “For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” ~ Isaiah 9:4 (NRSVACE)

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The promise, the absolute gift of mercy is when a people have been delivered from bondage.  There is nothing like the hope of freedom to drive a people to the brink. The power of justice is on the lips of those who wish to be freed and the yoke lifted from their backs. To escape the rod of torcher and punishment is engraved upon every unjust scare the multitude now bears.  Indeed, God of Love could deliver such justice, such relief, but how would He come this time? It is not so outlandish to think that the people Isaiah is addressing even prophesying to would think God would come down out of Heaven riding a White Horse wielding a fiery sword in order to smite these unjust Kings, or perhaps God would send another person who would start a revolution?

5 “For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.” ~ Isaiah 9:5 (NRSVACE)

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If the promise of God was freedom and the people under a revolutionary new king took up arms there would be great bloodshed. This historically speaking would give rise to zealots and freedom fighters not unlike we see today. The difference is an unjust king and over taxation and plundering of all the nations resources. Men would be slain in the most horrific of ways and in every instance it would up close and personal. This is the price of freedom, prosperity, and abundance. But think of the new kingship the washing away of darkness and the fulfillment of the light that shines on the blessed. Enticing isn’t it?

6 “For a child has been born for us, a son is given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 (NRSVACE)

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The light shines brightly for all to see. Under God’s true plan only one will shed his blood and only one needs to pay the price for man’s sins and indiscretions. Under God’s plan, there needs not be a war because after all God is not a tyrant, He has no ego, He does not cling to power rather He is power, He is love, and He is just in all things that he does. Under that logic, Jesus makes sense, to be born as the son of God, to be of a poor family, to be a man of peace and love never once raising a sword rather his words and wisdom. Again, man’s plan is in the short term, God’s plan is eternal and is implemented on an eternal time scale, in short God is not in a hurry but we are. Therefore, it is right and just to accept the fruits of God and show tolerance and patience for our fellow man. Rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus has the authority and that He is the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

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Our action before the return of God is a very simple one, for it is to wait, prepare, and pray. Be faithful to God in every word and action, be specific in your kindness, and chose your friends carefully for they could stand beside you or lead you to ruin. God is with us in every breath we breathe, and every thump of our hearts. Be grateful and look for God’s many daily blessings and give thanks for His salvation which we – the faithful shall enjoy for all time. God does move in mysterious ways.

Amen

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As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Teaching Our Children


9 “But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 (NRSV)

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Teaching children is a huge task and awesome responsibility entrusted to every adult by our loving God.  For it is God who grants the birth and formation of all life in every corner of the universe. God is an all-powerful God, for He alone is Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.  Now that I have said this, putting it in this context, we must place all our duties squarely upon the teachings of God found in the Bible. Our children deserve nothing less. So today I will highlight the main responsibility  that every human being holds in the education of all our children which is love in different forms.

3 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” ~ Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

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The Lord God is first and foremost loving,  He loves all of us (His children) with absolute perfect agape love.  He calls all of us to love each other with the same perfect love, though hard enough with adults we are called to love all the children equally.  For God’s love for us results in children who He entrusted as offsprings in many ways a living testament to their family and living representative of their ancestors.  With that view, (Parents), why would you do anything else but love them with all your heart and soul as the Lord God loves you?

Yet, in today’s current time the news is filled with parents leaving their children at home to go play a stupid video game, others leave their children in a hot car during the heat of the summer with the windows closed to go shop, trusting parents leave their children with nannies who are unqualified and end up hurting the innocent child, and parents who say to family members, teachers, and or friends after shipping their kids off to the grandparents house or to camp, “Finally, I have some alone time!”

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My friends – you have children! In participating in this sacred duty you gave up your alone time, your personal time, your privacy, and your personal belonging and space! You chose to love, raise, and teach your children everything they must know to survive and be productive human beings who also is God fearing, God loving, and God-centered adults! That is your duty as a parent. The school community you have placed your child in was not setup to replace you, (the parent). My friends as parents, (YOU), are your children’s first and most important teacher!  The children live with you… not the teacher, the children listen mostly to you, (the parent), not the teacher, the children watch everything, (you – the parents), do, say, and watch on T.V. and incorporate those habits – good or bad mostly from you, not the teacher.

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As a parent I admit making mistakes, looking for help, being pushed around by society and societal norms which are absurd and not grounded in the biblical teachings given to us by God.  The hard truth is some parents don’t place their children first, some parents go after money, career, personal happiness instead of finding happiness within their children. That was never my sins as I wanted to give my child every advantage in life and often times was persecuted for that, other people who called themselves professionals took all my time away from my child.  In the end, I found myself alone and without my child all for teaching the Bible, uphold Christian morals, showing the truth, and uncovering the lies being spread. I hope those examples stuck!  So, it angers me whenever I see or hear parents complain about spending time with their children, as that is all I wanted to do with mine.

Here is a list of things which parents are responsible for in raising a child, all within moderation and using a just hand;

  • Love absolutely and fairly in everything you do and say.
  • Discipline your children for the things they do wrong namely,
    • Disrespecting others
    • Cursing
    • Stealing
    • Bulling
    • Lying
    • Cheating
    • Acting a fool
    • Not being responsible for their own actions
    • Not being loving or showing mercy
    • Not living up to their word
  • Teach your children to respect – give appropriate consequences
  • Teach your children values
  • Teach your child obedience – for it is a learned skill
  • Teach your children politeness and proper etiquette
  • Teach your children responsibility
  •  Teach your children humility
  • Teach your children good manners
  • Teach your children to be friendly – but also wise
  • Teach your children honesty
  • Teach your children not to be rude
  • Train them in everything you know about your life, so they can pass these lessons on to their children
  • Make them educated in all their academics – teach them the excitement of reading, learning, and exploring the world around them

Everyone Else

In all these activities be Godly, find your wisdom from the lessons found in the Bible. There is no excuse to do this as the bible is online and made accessible to everyone in the world. This brings me to Everyone else who are not parents. Your duty is to not harm the children, do not influence them in wicked ways, do not place hardships upon them, and do not turn them from God.
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For the Classroom Teachers

Educate each child with passion, and excitement, show there is more than one way and that there is wisdom in the very act of learning. Look at all your students with love and care for each one of them without prejudice. Be the students best example always, and be the parent’s parent in the education of the children. Always defuse difficult news with compliments and meaningful questions – seek not preach. Push your students to learn and to love learning by challenging them and by giving them expectations. Set the bar and live it in the classroom, this will show you both serious and care for them by presenting material that they can reach. Help students and parents set goals, set aside time, and above all listen to all stakeholders. Discipline with purpose and allow the child to know why they are being corrected. Let them think about their actions and give them the space to save face and apologize. Remember, no one wants to hear they are wrong or have wronged another person. Be sensitive and be responsible for all your words and actions. Lastly, educate the whole child by addressing all the things in the list above.

Amen,

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group:Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Announcing Listening Faithfully Bible Study

GENESIS

7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” ~ Matthew 7:7 (NRSV)

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I humbly invite everyone to join me – Brian Stark as I review the first book of the Holy Bible – GENESIS in the month of August. This event begins August 1 – September 3. This inspiring reflection approach will leave you thinking about the creation of our world as never before. The questions asked will drive discussion and deepen understanding.
The method of delivery will be short assigned readings, periodic podcasts, and an answer sheet via Google Forms to help you get ready for the big event – Connecting Live through Google Hangouts! Each session will be recorded and posted on the Listening Faithfully Facebook Blog Page for those who could not attend.
If there is a question – ask, if your heart is yearning for answers – search, If you want to come to the table – knock and the door will be opened for you.
I look forward to meeting all of you soon.
Join the Bible Study Group Today! – Click Here!  
Please take the survey… Click Here!
Contact Me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com so I can add you into the Google Hangout pool in preparation for our group meeting.
Amen,

 

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group:Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Give It To God!


Try Something New!

22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”~ Psalm of David, 55:22 (NRSV) 

What I find interesting is that when people hear they can put their troubles aside they don’t. Instead, they elect to hold on to all the nasty feelings and roll around in it and seek answers that are on their own terms.  What I find is people trust in themselves more than their loving and forgiving creator. So my first message today is simple when you have doubts give them to God, when you have worries that keep you up at night give them to God, and if there is something you know is wrong done to you to someone in your family or a problem you cannot solve then give it all to God.

I recently was told of a new Bible called, ‘The Message’ by a friend of mine named Fr. Tom who is a retired Preist.  I wanted to get his opinion on several other Bibles I had purchased as it relates to the translation. Well, as always Fr. Tom shocked me with The Message. So I went to the store and bought a copy  even though I was a little nervous because it’s not written like any other Bible I have ever read! What is awesome about it is that the author scripted the Bible to be more fitted to our generation.

So I wrote all that to say this, The Message has the same message as does all my other Bibles regardless the verbiage.  God still wants you to give him all your worries.

22 ” Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders-he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.” ~ Psalm of David, 55:22 (The Message)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters if you have never really given your problems to God, trust in this message, trust in the fact that there is a God who loves you so much he is willing to take care of all your problems for you. Try something new!

7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NRSV) 

Try This on for Size!

6 ” So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. 7 Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7 (The Message)

Live freely before God is hard if you’re not trusting God with your pain, mistakes, worries, regrets, sorrows, problems, and / or hopes, dreams, and wishes. Living freely before God is hard if you’re too busy hiding everything you’re into.  Living freely before God is impossible if you have never called on him, never asked a single question, never listened to his words and promises, and never truly developed a real relationship with him. Thus, if you have never done any of those things then this is for you….

7 ” Look at me – I shout ‘Murder!’ and I’m ignored; I call for help and no one bothers to stop, God threw a barricade across my path – I’m stymied; he turned out all the lights – I’m stuck in the dark. He destroyed my reputation, robbed me of all self-respect. He tore me apart piece by piece – I’m ruined! Then he yanked out hope by the roots. He’s angry with me – oh, how he’s angry! He treats me like his worst enemy. He has launched a major campaign against me, using every weapon he can think of, coming at me from all sides at once.” ~  Job 19:7 -12 (The Message)

Blaming God is not the answer to your problems, Job was being tested by Satan. Perhaps God is doing the same with you, testing you, seeing if you will come to him. Statements your heart is too engaged in that pulls you down look like this;

1.) “I’m completely in the dark!” – Then get up light a candle and ask God for help.

2.) “My life is just an illusion of security!” – Open your eyes and look around, God’s promises are real and are the very definition of security!

3.) “I have no place to hide!” – Why are you hiding in the first place? God knows everything, he is everywhere, and the best part is you are never alone so talk with Him he’s calling you!

4.) “Why is God not on my side?” – Who said that he wasn’t on your side? God wants everyone to be saved and to meet Him in heaven and live an eternal life with Him! The word, ‘EVERYONE’ is all inclusive because God is all inclusive. Ask for His forgiveness and pray, know He hears you, loves you, and forgives you of all your trespasses as if you had never done them!

*If you have any more statement’s that pull you further into the nine-hole then write to me and I will add them to my next reflection and back them up with Scripture.

God is always the answer, He is always there with you, he is never off ignoring your problems rather he wants to be engaged in solving them. Put yourself in God’s shoes – millions of people are praying to you, millions of people refuse to pray to you for help. Who are you logically going to help first? Just saying! Just calm down and think with a level head, God sent his only son Jesus to die for you, for me, for the world! What more do you want?

CLOSING PRAYER

by Germaine Copeland (Gold Letter Edition – Prayers that avail much – 2012)

Adoration:

“Your Name Be Honored as Holy”

Our Father in heaven, I honor Your name as holy.

Praise the Lord, oh my soul! I call on my entire being to praise Your holy name. You have my adoration and love this day.

I praise Your name, Elohim, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who was in the beginning. It is You who made me and You have crowned me with glory and honor. You are the God of power and strength. I honor Your name as holy!

I praise Your name, El-Shaddai, the all-powerful One of blessings. You bless me with blessings of the skies above and of the deep springs below. I honor Your name as holy.

I praise Your name, Adonai, my Lord, and my Master. You are Jehovah – the Completely Self-Existing One, always present, revealing in Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I honor Your name as holy.

I bless Your name, Jehovah-Jireh, the One who sees my needs and provides for them. I honor Your name as holy.

I praise Your name, Jehovah-Rapha, my Healer and the One who makes bitter experiences sweet. You sent Your Word and healed me. You forgave all my sins and healed all my diseases. I honor your name as holy!

I praise Your name, Jehovah – M’Kaddesh, the Lord who makes me holy. You have set me apart for Yourself. I honor Your name as holy!

Jehovah – Nissi, You are my Victory, my Banner, my Standard. Your banner over me is love. When the enemy – the one who hates me – comes in like a flood, You lift up a standard – a mighty wall – against him. I honor Your name as holy!

Jehovah – Shalom, I praise Your name. You are my Peace – the peace which exceeds anything I can understand. Your peace will guard my heart and mind as I live in Christ Jesus. I honor Your name as holy!

I bless You, Jehovah – Tsidkenu, my Righteousness. You made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for my sin so that I could be made right with God through Christ Jesus. I honor Your name as holy!

Jehovah – Rohi, You are my Shepard, and I have everything I need. Because I trust in You, I will lack no good thing. I honor Your name as holy!

I praise You, Jehovah – Shammah, the One who will never leave or abandon me. You are always there. I take comfort and am encouraged and confidently and boldly say, the Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm – I will not fear or dread or be terrified. What can man do to me? I honor Your name as holy!

I worship and adore You, El-Elyon, the Most High God, who is Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth. You are Eternal God, the Everlasting Father, the Mighty God, the Merciful God, the Faithful God. You are Trust, Justice, Righteousness, and Perfection. You are El-Elyon – the Highest Sovereign of the heavens and the Earth. I honor Your name as holy!

Father, You have made Your name and Your Word greater than anything, and You have magnified Your Word above all Your name. The Word became a human and lived among us – His name is Jesus. I honor Your name as holy! Amen.

Scripture References

Matthew 6:9 HCSB

Psalm 103:1 GNT

Genesis 1:1-2 NIV

Psalm 8:5 NLT

Judges 6:24 NLT

Philippians 4:7 NLT

Jeremiah 23:5-6 NLT

2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

* For more information about the names in the prayer please click: BLUE LETTER BIBLE

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication is by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group:Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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45 “Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’” ~ Luke 8:45 (NRSV)

People need Jesus, people instinctually know that Jesus can heal them of their discomfort, pain, and diseases. Normally the healing is intentional, but Luke tells us that Jesus heals through faith and if you have faith then it is your faith that heals you! This is best illustrated when the women confessed to Jesus that it was she who indeed had touched him. Knowing that she had been immediately healed Jesus said to her;

48 “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” ~ Luke 8:48 (NRSV)

So, today I called upon all of you; my brothers and sisters in faith, to extend your hand and reach out to Jesus and collectively ask for the healing, the faith inspired, all encompassing healing powers of God to be directed to a very good friend of mine who is suffering from a sudden loss of vision as her retina is coming detached and was rushed into surgery this morning here in Los Angeles. Extend your prayers of healing and make it such a powerful request that Jesus once again asks, “Who touched me?” 

So altogether let us pray for Sedonia so she does not become physically blind.

Prayer of Physical Healing

Dear Lord, God in Heaven hear my voice, feel my heart tremble, look upon my face and know I come to you with the uncertainty of this world, but still I am filled with faith that is placed in you, my God. For it was your words My Lord which spoke:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8. Here I stand Oh Lord of all the Universe, 

Here I ask for healing of Sedonia who is in surgery, I seek your healing hand to extend down to her and take all fear and uncertainty away from her, and I beg of you; my God that the door of your blessings is opened and pours down upon Sedonia in your loving grace. 

St. Lucia {Lucy} of Sicily, patron Saint of eyes

Dear Lord, My King of Kings, my Lord of Lord, my God of Gods, hear my plea as I call out your name in the faith which has been made strong by your love. For again it was you who taught me that it is through unshakable faith that makes us well. So we, the Listening Faithfully Community converge today in faith asking that you heal our dearest of friends and sister in faith Sedonia from every sickness, disease, illness, and the medical problems facing her today and to the end of all time. Lord your hand I know shall be upon her as she faces her fears and endures the pain within her retnia. I also know we receive our healing through faith in you. Therefore, it is right and just to ask these things on behalf of your daughter Sedonia, who I know loves you with all her heart and soul, as we who listen faithfully love you and believe in you through faith alone.

Through your Son Jesus Christ do we pray these things.

Amen

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to pray this prayer for our sister in Christ Jesus, Sedonia today at least three times and continue praying this week and next. For it through the collective prayer can we see the heart of God be moved and to heal as a result of our display of unshakable faith.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

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Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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“The righteous gives and does not hold back.” ~ Proverbs 21:26

If I said to you my brothers and sisters that money was not important and that acquiring money was also not important would you believe me?  Many of you would disagree, and many of you would not understand to what I am talking about after first reading Proverbs 21:26.  I want to say now money is nothing more than a tool. Money is the necessary evil we have to content with if we want to live healthy, productive, comfortable lives. Money is not the end all to the end all. So, you might ask why start out this way if I was going to ask for support?  Well my brothers and sisters because I have never used Listening Faithfully to raise money with, I have never asked anyone to give money in the name of God for my own personal gain.  But, today I am going to ask something of everyone on behalf of the Inner City Children I teach and will be teaching this summer. But before I do I am going to ask a question that I need you to really think about.

Do you think of yourself as a righteous person?

In other words do you serve the morally good, do you follow religious or moral laws, ideas, oaths, or even listen to your conscience. If the answer to that is yes then I am speaking to you directly.  This year I opened up the Summer Tech Team at my school for the first time to 2nd and 3rd grade students. I wanted them to join this year because of what I saw when teaching them during the academic year of 2015-16. These two groups have the hunger, the want to learn, and they are so excited to spend 3 weeks during their summer break learning more about computers, about blogging (which is what I am doing right now), and they want to know more about making movies with software, they want to become better typist, and authors…  As a group they really moved my heart!

Now let’s talk about economics for a second… Money is hard to come by for most of the parents who go to my school. They work two jobs and have little time with their children, (my students), let alone to supply extra stuff like my summer program which the school does not support from their own budget. If there is to be a Tech Team 2016 I have to find the money, simply put!  Do I have some parents who pay upfront? “Yes”,  I do and I want to thank them for doing so. But the larger community of parents don’t because they can’t.  If I allowed that simple fact to deter me from finding the money each year I would have never held not one Summer Tech Team! So, I ask for everyone to donate as much as they feel comfortable with, but to support my entire summer program cost’s $3,000 which is really not that much. So, what does this do for the students? Here is a list of topics I will be teaching this year to my 2nd and 3rd grade computer geniuses:

Philosophy: “Students who have access to the Internet learn can manage their own learning.”

1.) Blogging about Computers and Terminology (This Supports English Language Arts)

2.) Computer Instruction – (They learn all about what makes a computer work putting their little fingers all over the parts! This supports Science & Engineering)

3.) Research computer parts and their costs to build a budget (I integrate Math with Google Sheets)

4.) Google Apps that will be used during the year in their Google Classroom. (This supports the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)  Standard: 2 Communication and Collaboration / 6. Technology Operations and Concepts.)

4.1) DuoLingo – language learning platform

4.2) OpenEd.com

4.3) SAS Curriculum Pathways – Analyzing Public Speaking (This Supports English Language Arts)

5.) America’s Navy – STEM for the CLASSROOM (Discovery Education) Robotics and Future Technology – Science Topic “PHYSICS” (This of Course id STEM related – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.)

These are but a few of the target projects that students will engage in during the three short weeks they are in the class. The impact is huge as these little ones grow and begin to be immersed into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

So, I ask you again… If you are a just person, moral person, a righteous person please help by sending a check or money order today.

Donations or gifts to Ascension for the Summer Tech Team 2016 are tax deductible as we are a 503c organization. 

An individual may contribute up to $150 per students tuition or sponsor two for $300. By becoming an Ascension Catholic School Sponsor,  you agree that STEM, NGSS, Common Core, and ISTE is and should be part of the curriculum in all classrooms within our school and by donating today you proudly support our efforts to bring this higher rigor of instruction to our community, families, students, and to our instructors through ongoing training.  By providing your phone number, you are consenting to receive calls where we will reach out to you to thank you for all your support.

When contacting us by mail or phone please provide us with your name, mailing address, email address, and occupation.

Mail: To contribute by mail, please send a personal check made payable to “Ascension Catholic School” to:

Ascension Catholic School
500 W. 111th Pl.
Los Angeles, California 90044

Please include your full name, address, phone number, email address, and occupation in the envelope with a note – “Proud to Support the 2016 Summer Technology Team!”

Amen,

My brothers and sisters, I humbly invite you to contact with me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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2 “Because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.” ~ The Wisdom of Solomon 1:2 (NRSV)

Orlando has suffered a grave attack that is motivated by hate, therefore, hate seeped into the soul of the aggressor.  We can blame the parents who raised him, the wife who loved enough to not get him help, the community which he attacked, and the list goes on. But God is not found in the manner we seek if it through hate. God is found when we come to him not to put him to the test when we open our hearts and beg for forgiveness for our trespasses. But Orlando has also suffered another attack that is quite different from other terrorist killings. One that is not talked that much about – that attack comes from the Christian Community because it was not just people killed but people of the LGBT Community specifically. So this is what I heard and saw and wanted to immediately disavow as dangerous Christian rhetoric that is on the same level of Radical Islam which both is founded within an evil doctrine of repression.

Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento told his congregation that Christians ‘shouldn’t be mourning the death of 50 sodomites.”

“People say, like: ‘Well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died?’ ” Jimenez said, referencing the initial death toll in Orlando, which authorities later clarified included 49 victims plus the gunman. “Here’s the problem with that. It’s like the equivalent of asking me — what if you asked me: ’Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?’

“Um, no, I think that’s great. I think that helps society. You know, I think Orlando, Fla., is a little safer tonight.”

He added: “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” ~ Bever, Lindsey, The Washington Post, June 15, 2016

God hates fags.
God sent the shooter.
God hates murderer Omar Mateen.
Omar Mateen & slain fags are in hell.
REPENT! pic.twitter.com/XwkX7jGYpp

— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) June 12, 2016

“Kill the Gays” Preacher Kevin Swanson: “God’s on His Side” ~ by DAWN ENNIS of the Advocate.

Pastor Jimenez, Pastor Steve Drain of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, Pastor Kevin Swanson of the Reformation Church of Elizabeth, Colorado, and so many others from the Baptist / Orthodox Churchs has publically called those who died, sodomites and pedophiles teaching their congregations that there was no tragedy by killing them and that they wished more had been killed.  In no manner, in no place in the bible does it say this teaching is correct. What these supposed learned men are referring to is found in the Book of Leviticus which is one book of four believed to be written by Moses who received this knowledge directly from God.

22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” ~ Leviticus 18:22 (NRSV)

This to an untrained eye this passage is a direct commandment that describes a behavior which God Himself has said to be wrong, as something that you shall not do.  As a God fearing man without doing the research I am inclined to read this and think all who do this is evil.  But those who wrote this, if it was Moses or Aaron, existed in a different reality than from us today. So we must always read the Bible with one eye to the source and one eye to the present, always asking how does this apply today. Back then Moses had a different agenda, the people were in the survival mode, and God saw their wickedness and sought to do something about it in a more direct way than from how he operates in our modern world.  So, the setting was Mount Sinai where Moses was attempting to sanctify the people so that the Lord might appear unto them. To do this God specifically told Moses the following;

18 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God.You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.'” ~ Leviticus 18:1-5 (NRSV)

The objective was to create a new nation with a new statute, a nation more holy than any that had come before, and a nation with a direct connection to God. Here in America, we like to think we have a direct connection to God. We like to think we are more holy than the rest of the world. We like to believe we are special and try to preserve Biblical Laws that at the time of their creation as they are today were cumbersome, laws which shackled the people. God did this because from the parents who were slaves and born in Egypt and who had grown fat and uncomplacent but also lazy and self-serving and who God loved and wanted to change them by reminding them of where they had come from, could only happen over time. So the promise land was more the children and grandchildren who had been forged by a Godly fire, subject to a higher standard would this new nation arise. For detailed information please click the following link: Journeys and Events in the Life of Moses by  Edward J. Brandt of the Department of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, The Church of Later-Day Saints.

What is the Relevant Argument?

So the argument becomes less about behavior and more about the time period of the laws that prohibited that behavior. Again looking in the Bible we find a more recent passage that holds the same message that speaks out against the aforementioned behavior.

24 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason, God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” ~ Romans 1:23-27 (NRSV)

Again, about two thousand years ago people for the sake of not spreading diseases held fast to the moral principle found in these scriptures. A morality clause that upholds the biblical ideas and beliefs of true marriage as it was between Adam and Eve and is celebrated to this very day. Two opposing arguments on how to live is the debate we face today. Nothing more nothing less. No matter which side you come down on our great nation needs to place only one truth before the population which is more superior to any of these scriptures and any scripture on this topic which I have not mentioned. These supreme truths will help solve this delima and help people from all faiths to join hands, this truth will heal all people of all hatred and will promote only Godly interaction with each other and with God Himself. So you might ask what is the Supreme Truth I speak of?

Examples of Jesus

Example 1: Forgiveness even unto death.

39 “One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ ~ Luke 23:39-43 (NRSV)

Example 2: Not Judging Others

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” ~ Matthew 7:1-5 (NRSV)

Example 3: Serving two Masters

24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” ~ Matthew 6:24 (NRSV)

Example 4: Supreme Blessedness (The Beatitudes)

5 “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak and taught them, saying:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'” ~ Matthew 5:1-11 (NRSV)

Example 5: Blind Faith in Jesus Alone

24 “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. 25 But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them was written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” ~ John 21:24-25 (NRSV)

Example 6: Love Part 1

18 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” ~ Leviticus 19:18 (NRSV) 

44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 (NRSV)

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” ~ Luke 6:27 (NRSV)

27 “He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’” ~ Luke 10:27 (NRSV)

30 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:30 (NRSV)

Example 7: Love Part 2

21 “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me, and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” ~ John 14:21 (NRSV)

Summation

God is not found in acts of violence, rather finding peace and forgiveness with the lord comes from self-reflection, self-attainment, self-understanding, and applying the most recent laws of morality Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savour left us with, which when listed in this order do they make perfect sense of how we are to treat our fellow man and how others should treat us.

1.) Forgive others even unto your last breath. Not for them but for yourself so that you may be forgiven in the eyes of God the All mighty.

2.) By forgiving others you cease to judge them, you stop judging others actions, their words, their plots, their beliefs, and how they live which is different from yourself.

3.) By forgiving and not judging others you are able to decide whom to serve. The question posed to us all from God at birth is simply this, “Will you serve me the Lord your God or will you serve mankind which is imperfect and will some day cease to exist?”  

4.) By cleansing your soul and dedicating your life to God, you then receive the supreme blessings and begin to practice them with fidelity.

5.) Finally, by doing all these things God bestows his most precious of gifts upon you; that of His most perfect love. Your cup will overflow with love and your life transformed through love which enables you to replace hate with love, replace greed with love, replace lust with love, replace laziness with love, replace wrathfulness with love, replace envy with love, and replace pride with God’s most perfect love. In this, you will love others no matter who they are or where they come from or what they believe and how they live. In this way, love equals tolerance for your fellow man and peace is the product. For I say to you my brothers and sisters this is the message all ordained Priests, Deacons, Bishops, Preachers, Ministers,

For I say to you my brothers and sisters this is the message all ordained Priests, Deacons, Bishops, Preachers, Ministers, Pastor, and Church leaders from all faith groups should be preaching about when it comes to any mass killing, any natural disaster, and any act of God; but especially when people who hold a different perspective on life than they do are murdered with such hatred, it should always be meet with love, not condemnation! All religious organizations need to rethink the true message of God, which is love and forgiveness. When a gay is killed every preacher needs to preach how wrong murder is, not glorify it because the one who lost their life was gay! We are all human beings and therefore by default children of God! It is God’s domain to judge not ours! Rather our most supreme commandment is and has always been to, love one another!” John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

For I leave you with this: 11 “Beware then of useless grumbling and keep your tongue from slander, because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.” ~ Wisdom 1:11 (NRSV)

Amen,

My brothers and sisters, I humbly invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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6 “For wisdom is a kindly spirit, but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words;
because God is witness of their inmost feelings, and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.” ~ The Wisdom of Solomon 1:6 (NSRV)

Message to the LGBT Community

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On Sunday, June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen walked into Pulse Night Club and shot and killed 49 people. He did this because they were different from him, they  embraced a different lifestyle than him, they believed in something different than he.  In many ways if we search hard enough all of us could find differences in each other that we completely disagree with, the management of those difference is found in one word, tolerance.  The problem with Omar and anyone else who would kill another person because of differences in belief or lifestyle is found in the innermost place within their soul which has been taken over by hatred, perhaps even by Satan himself.  Their actions can be in some instances a cry for help, but the in the end these actions show a lack of humanity.  I write this though I disagree with the LGBT or GLBT community and the political movement they have been pursuing to change the idea and legal definition of marriage from its biblical roots, though I would never campaign against them, slander them, or take a gun and or harm any member of that community.  We are all people, we all have the right to voice our disagreements and to disagree in a humane manner.  So, instead of focusing on the evil act, let us turn this negative into a positive and allow God to be the supreme judge for everyone who harbor ill thoughts and beliefs within the innermost places of their soul, and let God judge us all based upon are words we speak to each other as well the messages those words relay to the community of mankind. For the reaction of this killing is as important and carries as much if not more meaning than the act itself. True wisdom begins with love and ends with love and on this point, I join hands with the LGBT community in prayer for those lost in such a brutal way… Let Us All Pray.

Prayer of Love

Dear Lord, my supreme savior hear my voice and the voices of the families of the Pulse shooting of which so many you have called home. Dear Lord, I humble myself in the

Dear Lord, I humble myself in your presence as I call upon you to fill my heart with love, love which takes away the pain, love which takes away the heartache of those who have suffered because of this one selfish act.

Dear Lord, my creator I boldly stand against those who believe they have the right to murder for the sake of murder, to take away what you have given, but I do so with my words which you shall be the judge.

Dear Lord, let those who have lost, mourn within the comfort of your love, let them feel your love, let them know your love.

Dear Lord, it is in these things I pray through your son Jesus Christ our savior who died and was raised from the dead and who did these things out of a perfect love.

Please pray these words every night until the United States Government actually takes meaningful action on Gun Control.

Amen,

My brothers and sisters, I humbly invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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13 “And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’ 16 Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them”. ~ Mark 10:13-16 (NABRE) 

Essential Question

“Are we adults behaving like the little children Jesus blessed?”

 There are many measurements of how to live a Christian life. It seems to me that every page in the Old Testament is giving us moral laws to follow, and the New Testament is no exception. The many thousands of things written can feel at times overwhelming and confusing to most. History is littered with the many thousands of arguments that have arisen since Christ’s death and resurrection because of those words and beliefs that split the New Church into many different pieces each with their own ideas of what a Christian Life should look like to others. We have been arguing for centuries amongst ourselves and in those arguments, we find in our modern age of technology even more ways to be anti-Christian which is laced with temptations that lure us away from God. There is deception of all kinds in our churches and people who profit off those descriptions.  Our sins with each passing century grow ever higher and the smell of our human lies that are designed to allow us to live as we want, do as we will, and not as God would have us live, is simply continuing to mount against us in the halls of Heaven. Perhaps, that is what Jesus was alluding too when he saw the disciples pushing away the children?

Living in a Sinful World

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13 God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:13 (NABRE)

In the twenty-first century of which we live, drama is the new law! Social Media is filled with people posting everything about their lives, even the most private accepts and problems they are facing. People are caught up in watching reality TV, they are exposed to sin that is changing our culture and beliefs. Examples of which I speak is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” where everything from marital issues is perverted to modern fashion which influences and corrupts our children. Another Reality TV Series is “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”, where everything about marriage and dating is glamorized and set in a make belief settings where it’s ok to date more than one person, have sex with more than one person and hold relationships with more than one person!  Another show which perverts marriage and is setting such a bad example for our children as it relates to relationships and marriage is “Sister Wives”. It’s all in the title! One man multiple wives! This lifestyle was prohibited by God thousands of years ago!  So when I say we are corrupting our own children, that this corruption is perverting their morals and the morals of their children who are not yet born, and this corruption will pervert children for thousands of generations to come, then I think it is no wonder or mystery of why our children have no chance at seeing the gates of Heaven! Sure, there will be a handful who will repent, I say a handful because frankly when calculating the billions of people on earth today verse those who want to be real Christians and truly believe in God solely is determined by how their parents brought them up, and how closely to the Bible where those morals linked. Thus, a handful of the world’s population of true believers is a much smaller group than those who see nothing wrong with the world and call themselves Christians!

The Reality of Respect

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18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NABRE)

Respect thy neighbor, respect thyself, respect the world and all of nature, respect others as you would have them respect you. Yes, I took out a few words and replaced them with the word respect, but isn’t that what our world has done with the sanctity of marriage, haven’t we for our own selfish purposes took out words that would hold us responsible for our actions and replaced them with words that make us feel better about our sin? New laws which are giving even the most conservative of Governors a reason to pause, siding with the heretics of this world so they can be reelected. The controversy which I speak is to those who want such perversion and say – HE/SHE bathrooms in public spaces are ok! There is no respect in how people relate to one another because we have taken God out of the equation! No man will fear man’s laws as much as he will that of God’s laws if they are taught in the manner they were written taken nothing out, even those parts that make us cringe! As a teacher in a Catholic School, a place where you would think is steeped in discipline and a healthy fear of God, but sadly no, for all the Nunes have gone and the Priests have not a clue of how children should be raised. Yes, the Bible is unchanged, but how we teach it has changed. Because of these things in our sinful world we find ourselves mired in sin and helpless in teaching respect.  Our children see TV, play Adult rated video games, parents treat their kids more like friends than their children, and the basic teaching of how to act in public has been forever torn apart! So, the next time you look at a rude child, one who mocks you, one who talks back, one who does hateful things to others, one who thinks they are smarter than you, or one who does stupid things just to see what would happen (DUMBASS THE MOVIE), then as an adult / parent  have only yourself to blame!  Education begins at home not in the school building! Laws that suppress educators from fulfilling their job requirements as it relates to teaching discipline, morality, respect, religion, self-worth, love, and forgiveness is the major culprits to green lighting sin in our society! Perhaps, this is what Jesus saw when the disciples rebuked the children?

The Commandments that Matter

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34″I give you a new commandment: ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.'” ~ John 13:34-35

Respect and discipline are all part of living a Christian lifestyle. But Jesus commands us that everything stems from love, an innocent like love in the Lord.  From this agape love we find the path to faith and armed with faith we find the path to a disciplined, respectful, honorable, holy relationship with God the Father. From this point is it then possible to show love and respect to others, and teach these things which God has commanded parents to teach to their children. For this duty is a sacred and holy duty given to parents alone!

6 “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not veer from it.”~ Proverbs 22:6 (NABRE)

4 “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!  Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NABRE)

7 “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” ~ Proverbs 1:7 (NABRE)

1 “Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise, 3 ‘that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.’” ~ Ephesians 6:1-3 (NABRE)

23 “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, 24 knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will receive recompense for the wrong he committed, and there is no partiality.” ~ Colossians 3:23-25

3 “Certainly sons are a gift from the Lordthe fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them. He will never be shamed for he will destroy his foes at the gate.” ~ Psalm 127:3-5 (NABRE)

13 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NABRE)  

Wrap Up

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What we teach our children as parents is what our children will do when they are grown. “Be a role model. This can help you teach your children to appropriate behavior, self-control, responsibility, and accountability while increasing their self-esteem.” ~ American Humane Association, (Child Discipline) 

Don’t come to their rescue so easily, don’t rave about them so easily, rather show them leadership! Help your children make calculated risks, have many discussions on making decisions, tell them stories of your childhood so they may bond with you, don’t let your guilt keep you from being a good parent and from making the hard decision. By making those hard decisions you are giving them the proper example, like Jesus, did for the world on Calgary. Teach respect, love, kindness, forgiveness, and mercy and these things will come back to you and make you proud. Finally, become partners with your children’s teachers and follow their examples upholding their expertise within the realm of education. In all these things allow Jesus to be part of your children’s lives allowing them to know God their and your creator.

Amen,

My brothers and sisters, if you enjoyed this message today then I invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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A Humble Heart

1 “My heart is not proud, Lordmy eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. 3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” ~ Psalm 131:1-3

Bailey

I write to you today my brothers and sister on behalf of a dear friend who I love with all my heart and soul who contacted me some time ago.  She wanted me to compose this special prayer for a family member and loyal friend that happens to have four legs.  So, today I ask everyone to pray for Bailey Prets, a Dachshund that for many long years has been the inspiration and focal-point of my friend’s love who has requested to remain anonymous and the apple of her eye.  Bailey has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and as of yet we do not know what can be done.  So, with this news, I am greatly saddened and hope there is a cure for Mr. Bailey Prets.

Let Us Pray

Dear Lord in Heaven hear our hearts as we reach out to you with our mortal concerns, with hearts that are not proud nor are they longing for the greater things in this life. No, Lord we reach out to you in prayer with calm concerns that are like a weaned child from our mothers; for we are almost content.

Dear Lord our savior who loved us with all your heart, who through that love defeated death, and who has redeemed us with love and divine mercy. It is to you Oh Lord that we pray for the inspiring love to be sent to our loyal four-legged friend Bailey Prets, for we ask for you to set your hand upon his head to heal him and give him consolation within your spirit as you heal him of his ailments.

Dear Lord hear the many who pray to deliver Bailey into your loving arms as you set his soul at ease and give him everlasting life, but not before his time here is done. Lord, it is to you we pray with the deepest of concerns and love for Bailey that we ask these things for we put our hope in you Lord, Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’s name … AMEN!

OUR FATHER

9 “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”~Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

My brothers and sisters if you pray these words for Mr. Bailey Prets I believe God will heal him, I believe God will give Bailey a new leash on life. I urge you my brothers and sisters to join me in prayer this next week May 1- May 7, 2016 at least once per day for our loyal four-legged friend who desperately needs your prayers.

 


Peace Left by Jesus

27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to never be able to find peace in their lives? Have you ever wondered why they are always sower towards others, nothing is ever fair or just in their eyes, and they seem to enjoy this self-inflicted agony? I’ve known people like this. I’ve seen how they imitate happiness but it never lasts for long. Things that have happened in their lives are never their fault because it’s easier to blame others. Responsibility for their own actions is a foreign idea and never seems to apply to them. So why the misery, why the drama, why do they run so far and fast from peace?

Self-Worth vs. God’s Peace

11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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To understand this behavior we first must understand why the human race ignores God’s ministry of Peace. At this point, it would be all too easy to say that we are all sinners. Yes, that is part of it, but not the whole picture. Rather we must dig deeper and look for that character flaw that some people exploit more so than others called self-worth. It works like this, many people have lived hard lives, as children they are subjected to crappie things that are at the first outside of their control. The craziness of their lives become addicting, much like a drug. The older they get the more they are told how worthless they are until they begin to believe it. At some point, they begin to expect the bad in life, and they chose to ignore the good. This becomes a routine of bad choices that cascade one after another. Now logically speaking they know they should strive for peace in their life, but they are their own worst enemy as the choices they make repeals peace. These broken people believe that they do not deserve to be happy as every attempt fails. So they ignore that singular voice within their hearts and run away not feeling good enough to receive God’s peace. They run and hide because the cannot believe that God has a plan for them that includes happiness and peace here on Earth. They cannot believe that God wants to take control!  But I say to you my brothers and sisters who are broken, God wants to instill his plan into your heart and take all the bad and turn it into good which glories His love for you!

Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”

Every time I read this I feel at peace. Why? Because I believe with all my heart and soul that God’s peace is everlasting. I believe blindly in the idea that Jesus really said that.  I believe that Jesus is real and loved us so much that he would die to give us a chance at receiving that everlasting peace.

So, why can people like me believe and other people just can’t quite make that leap of faith? Because they believe they do not deserve God’s love, because they expect nothing but the bad in life. The difference is I do not expect to be saved rather I hope to be saved according to God’s word. Whereas, the broken person dwells in the expectation that bad is all they can hope for, which leaves them without hope of salvation. Thus, if you give in to hopelessness then you in truth shackle your life to this world and to the expectations of a life mired in sin! You give up on the hope God has for you, the salvation he won for you, and the everlasting peace he left in your care.

Conversion

19 “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,” ~ Acts 3:19 (NABRE)

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Again, logically speaking the only way out of this hopelessness is to be converted! This means you must die to your sins and be reborn in the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ! Scary sounding… right? Well to the nonbeliever it is the scariest thing they will ever do. Ok, so how do you convert someone who is broken?  Believe me, when I say it’s easier said than done, but it begins with being the example in every aspect of your life, teaching that God’s grace can be found in everything be it in the good or bad things of this world. Yes, being the example by living your faith, practicing what you preach, do what you say, believe with all your heart, mind, and soul in the words and promises of God. To be a witness to others who need help in believing, who need you to be their a road map to faith, and a guide to those broken down and beaten by this world who expect nothing but bad and show them kindness, love, and mercy. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight, rather it takes time for people to hear, then reacts to God’s call. But know God is calling and He is using you to make that connection!

There is hope, there is love, there is mercy, and there is peace in this world. But the peace we all should strive for is the peace of salvation in the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

My brothers and sisters, if you enjoyed this message today then I invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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Ye of Two Minds!


Power of the Tongue

 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly,” ~ James 3:1 (NABRE)

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The Lord see’s our sins, see’s our reproaches, he knows your heart!  We as teachers in both common education and of the education of the Lord have a sacred responsibility that influences those whom we teach in a stricter manner.   Therefore, temptations to mislead are among us in every manner hiding around every corner.  It takes a strong character indeed to repress the desire to put your own thoughts above those found in the Bible which have been written to guide our behaviors of a moral nature within these things I speak today. For I am deeply moved and concerned about some whom I have witnessed in my community of believers who have acted out in a grievous and spiteful manner to mislead and in doing so have done the works of Satan while claiming to do the works of God.  I know this is harsh language but God demands that we admonish our brothers to help them stay straight in the ways of our God.  Now many of you may be asking what was it that I heard?

In My Hearing Point 1

11 “Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?” ~ James 4:11-12 (NABRE)

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What I heard were several teachers who felt they had the right to scorn our community, saying that the wheels have come off our community, that teachers are not teaching, that teachers do not communicate with each other.  To this I say, many of the first year teachers I have lead try to control their classrooms with a heavy hand.  They try to extend this range of control through boasting about their successes which may not be complete as a sufficient amount of time has not yet passed to have developed a baseline to prove success.  Their ideas sometimes are lacking the experience of implementation or understanding in what they are trying to teach.  This specific teacher is new to our community and in fact has on many occasions boasted of how they wish to change our community.  Again, without the sufficient training or experience affecting positive change is simply out of range of this specific teacher’s ability to make happen.  Therefore, speaking about other teachers in a very public space in the presence of a small parent population allowing everyone to hear a very scud perception of what he / she thinks is true is very troubling not to mention unprofessional as this is how rumors are started, for this action on this teacher’s behalf will, in fact, bear the fruits of gossip and more strife for everyone in the community.  For it was written the Lord hates, “A false witness that utters lies and the one who sows discord among brethren.” ~ Proverbs 6:19 (NABRE)

Indeed, I say to you my brothers and sisters everyone experiences troubles in their practice, and everyone feels a certain level of frustration in their practice.  But yet this teacher has gone one step further than most by making a scornful public announcement of what they think they see, while never coming to me nor others in our teaching community with these complaints.  Not to mention that it was this specific teacher who blocked all my efforts to help solve many of the problems they seem to now be feeling. Not one piece of advice was taken, not one suggestion listed to, not one constructive comment from my lips did this teacher accept, and nor have they shown contrition in knowing their place among the community.  This teacher’s willingness to speak in public without the permission of our Principal and or Pastor shows the desire to be more of a renegade than a team player.  This bothers me greatly because you cannot have positive change come from scornful comments, nor can you have lasting change if the efforts where done in a scud manner and jealous heart. For I have seen all too often in the past teachers try to change their school without the support of the administration and every time the change the teacher wanted failed as the administration chose to let them go to find employment elsewhere.

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Therefore, by not seeking, this teacher will not find, and this teacher’s words are mired in ignorance of how to truly lead. What I took the most offense to was the comment that teachers are not teaching.  To this I say, turn in your lesson plans for all to see your teachings as I have, lead through doing and affect change through positive means not by blaming and not knowing of what you speak about but rather educate yourself by having an open mind and building a partnership with every teacher not just those whom you feel comfortable as I have.  For I teach not by words but by my practice which is steeped within professionalism and love for all I serve.  Thus, I advise once more to this specific teacher, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” ~ James 1:22 (NABRE) For I say to you my brothers and sisters I always have an open door, I will always be ready to help, to give advice that is just and moral, and I welcome this teacher to come talk with me in hopes they may see that there is a better way forward.

Once more to the second teacher whom I am very disappointed in and surprised to the depths they have sunk to speak falsely about their colleagues practice to parents without the knowledge or foresight of what their actions may bring is simply uncontainable.  For to be a rumor starter, to allow jealously to overtake reason is not professional and what makes their actions worse is they are trained in peace making, they are trained in the Biblical Theology, they are currently engaged in being a Teacher Leader as I am, and know all too well the responsibilities we now have to unite our community under one flag, not divide it by petty disputes and a hardened heart.  For far too often I hear this teacher condemn the community, placing themselves higher than the community, to act independently claiming a moral cause to condemn others while they in their own practice is hoity and misleading, bearing falsely about their fellow teachers whom which they have targeted and yet keep this vailed is the actions of a none Christian and are not deserving of the moral cause claimed, rather the actions of a hypocrite caught in their own hypocrisy. I return the comments I heard in church, for if they have a problem with me then do what Jesus commands them to do, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.” Matthew 18:16 (NABRE)  I say to this teacher whom I have known for years – come and win me over so that I may show you a better way.

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I write these things not to start controversy but to end it.  To put into the light, the things which are keeping all of us from that great achievement which we aspire too. For as long as we all act with two minds that constantly countermand the other we will never become truly successful. As long as there are those in our teaching community who air private problem to the community in public spaces there will never be respect, nor the avenue made for mercy and contrition will never be apart of what we strive to be as a community.

Amen,

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12 “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” ~ Proverbs 23:12

As most of you are aware I am a full time Technology Teacher in a private school down town Los Angeles. I teach in an area that is cited to be the highest crime rate in the past ten years. The students I teach I love with all my heart and soul. I write to all of you to let you know that education is the greatest en-devour of all time and is one people have sought sense time began. In our current world we have technology which affects every aspect of our lives, and in this there is nothing more important than to be computer literate. In the face of this challenge in teaching I can only affect the students in my school but technology allows me to reach out to the world. I say that to introduce all you my brothers and sisters that I have created a Teach Pay Teacher account in which for a small sum my Technology Lesson Plans can be bought and shared and so that millions of children can benefit of my many years of experience and research based instruction. Please click the following link to go directly to where you can receive the Common Core and ISTE aligned technology Lesson Plans. CLICK HERE

Soon I will be also making available Religious lessons Plans that continue my ministry here at Listening Faithfully Blog. When I get this complete I will post that also.

I am commented to delivering the highest level of education to all children and deeply appreciate all who support education in any manner.

Amen,

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Email: listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com

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GOD LOVES US ALL!

20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” ~ Revelation 3:20

 

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My message today on Divine Mercy Sunday is simple, it’s perhaps the shorts but most direct one. God is love, and because God is the love he wants peace throughout the world. But more to the point, Jesus is also love and He is knocking at your heart. So, say ‘YES’ to Jesus, say ‘YES’ to His divine love, say ‘YES’ to His mercy and spread the word of God throughout the world. Be humble and ask God for His divine mercy, then go out into the world and be compassionate to others, and finally trust completely in God, trust in His only son our Lord, Jesus Christ. In these things, I tell you so that you can be one with God, and let His son in to break bread with you and be blessed by His words and touch upon your heart forever.

What is the Divine Mercy?

The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.

 

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Divine Mercy Devotional

 

The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —
no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that
His mercy is greater than our sins so that we will call upon
Him with trust, receive His mercy and let it flow through us to
others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message
we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.

A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach
Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and
asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon
the whole world.

B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy
and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to
extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does
to us.

C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know
that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our
trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will
receive.

 

Divine Mercy Diary

 

(The Above information came from – The Divine Mercy Devotional  click the link for more resources.) 

AMEN,

If you enjoyed “Celebrating the Divine Mercy!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.” ~ Author Unknown.

Each year my reader base grows thanks to you who faithfully come back and read new posts and or share the posts with others; for I am truly inspired by you the readers.  So I want to reach out and thank everyone who reads Listening Faithfully Blog every week, month, and /or year. The following is a map of the world for 2015 that shows all the countries that have found Listening Faithfully Blog online.

2015 LFB MAP

2015 Views per Country

3,209 visitors and 4,382 views

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If you come from one of these countries listed above I urge you to share Listening Faithfully Blog with everyone you know if you have not done so already.  Also please visit Listening Faithfully Facebook and Listening Faithfully Community

New Features

Finally Listening Faithfully Blog via Facebook can offer a forum page where questions about the current blog posting can be discussed by you the viewers, with me, the author – Brian Keith. To take part in our discussions please click the following link – FORUMS

I look forward to sharing the results from 2016 with all of you in 2017!

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts as well as for your support. –Brian Keith

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Fanatics at Large!


LOVE vs FANATISM 

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” ~ Luke 6: 27

Love needs not the blinded zeal of a follower who demonstrates excessive enthusiasm, unreasoning fervour, or wild and extravagant notions of our God.  Rather the Lord came to us as a sheep amongst the wolves and through His undying love freed us from our sins without the lofty words that put others down while raising Himself up, no Jesus saved through the love of humility alone.  Jesus realized that there were fanatics in every religion, there are people so filled with blinded zeal for the God they choose to serve that instead they fail to emulate peace they become dangerous as they grab for power.  So, today my brothers and sisters I argue that instead of allowing ourselves to become blinded by the rules of our religion instead we need to become freed by our faith placing all confidence in our Lord and Savour in every situation for the rest of our lives filling our hearts and minds with the quiet resolve of our own salvation granted to us through the mercy of our God.  I argue we should not become so zealous for God that we ignore and otherwise become callous to others who may believe in something different, rather we need to always remain humble within our hearts and constantly ask ourselves, “How would Jesus handle this?” , thus seeking the guidance of our God in everything and in everyone.  For this is what the fanatics have forgotten as their faith is a bitter one as they choose to believe in a God of their own design, as they live in a moral Delima where faith, love, and compassion have become the shell they hide in and where their own humility and obedience to God is simply not enough. So they seek the absoluteness, the black and white rules that are written in some book which outlines their religious order, like a lawyer they prosecute anyone who does not conform to these man-made rules instead of allowing the grace of God to shine through. The fanatics are very much like a Cameleon portraying themselves as something they are truly not, and in this portrayal they thrive on the collection of things and vanity which seemingly grants them power.

THE FINGER POINTERS

“Do you indeed speak righteousness, O’ congregation? Do you judge uprightly, O’ you sons of men. 2 You, in your heart you work wickedness; you weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” ~ Psalm 58: 1-2

Yes, God is real! Yes, God is the most powerful being in the universe! Yes, God is absolute righteousness, and Yes, God is in love with imperfect humanity!  God’s love is so great that our hearts could never contain the entire breath of His perfection and most perfect love.  But what we can do is accept the gifts given from the Holy Spirit and spread the word that God would have you spread, ignoring your own message, ignoring the temptation that would want that message from God.  For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, God’s message is completely and utterly simple; love one another, treat each other with respect and love, be tolerant in all things, give to your brothers and sisters what they need whether or not you know them or not.  God wants harmony, love, mercy, and obedience which is how we supercharge our lives.  In this none of the elements in the message of God is there any room for judgmental believers, there is no room for finger pointers who are unrighteous judges.  For who are you to judge, who are you to call someone a name, who are you to stand in objection as a false witness?  For I tell you not everyone will stay in the place where you claim to find God, not everyone will worship God in the same way but yet God still accepts them as He does your system of worship.  Not everyone is open to religious persecution nor should anyone in the days we now live should have to conform to the rules of men who dictates the rules of that religion.  For man is imperfect, we are all  lost, trapped upon a huge ark as sinners and we are all equally taking every wave that sin can throw at us!  Again, there is no room to be greedy or zealous in our faith. There is no reason to try and tout how holy we are in our own faith, for again my brothers and sisters God despises those who boast, for in this boasting is hidden the original sin; that of pride. For it was pride which brought down the greatest of all angels named Lucifer, (The Morning Star).

EGO vs HUMILITY

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

According to Sigmund Freud who created the modern psychoanalytic personality theory which gave us the understanding through the three facets of human development listed as, The Id, Ego, and Super Ego.  Within this understanding, Freud explains the Super Ego as, “developing last, and is based on morals and judgments about right and wrong. Even though the superego and the ego may reach the same decision about something, the superego’s reason for that decision is more based on moral values, while the ego’s decision is based more on what others will think or what the consequences of an action could be.”  In this idea, we find God’s will for us within the values and morals the Bible teaches and to keep in check the Ego and Super Ego God introduced Humility. For I tell you my brothers and sisters humility cares not what others think, humility allows us to be calm in the face of hostility, humility allows us to exhibit restraint from the boastfulness of both the ego and superego.  I say this because your belief in something greater than man’s will is God’s will, for His thoughts are so far above ours which forces us to think deeply, to contemplate, to humble ourselves in the communion of the soul with our God as we connect in the struggle to understand and gain in His almighty wisdom.  God demands his followers to be thinkers, questioners, and a people who believe based on His words and messages.  God desires a people of wisdom and who exhibit self-control in all matters they may face.  For these qualities were shown in Jesus’s words and actions from start to finish. But the greatest example Jesus exhibited was the ability to put down sin and pickup righteousness,  to upstage evil and save the world.

Amen,

 If you enjoyed “Fanatics at Large!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Prayer for Herbert

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28

The sickness that we endure, the day-to-day hardships of life, even the stubborn illnesses that refuse to go away which we face yearly are but nothing to our Lord who heals everything, mends everyone, uplifts every person, and through these trials we are given the evidence that God is with us no matter what?  Do not assume that God is not there my brothers and sister, do not make the mistake of thinking  that God has ignored our suffering, and do not make the mistake of thinking you are alone, because you are not alone, we are never alone for God is always there molding us; making us better versions of ourselves that resemble our God in Heaven.  Yes, there are moments in life where we wrestle with God, we wrestle with the bad things that happen to us, and often we blame God when really self-reflection is in order. When we suffer remember there is always a reason, one that we may not truly understand until God reveals the purpose to us. Many times the result is a person stronger in their faith, stronger in their will to survive, and more loving, kind, and forgiving towards others. Suffering changes us all, not just the one who is burdened with the extra hardship but also the family and so they too are strengthened, molded, made more loving, kind, forgiving, and filled with Gods grace. There is nothing better than strife to make us crave hope from our Lord. There is nothing better than hope to restore and redeem our souls within the agape love of God.

Calling Everyone to Pray

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So it is that I call everyone from everywhere to come together to pray for a man, a father, named Herbert Sutton. Beloved by his children, Herbert became ill and his illness grew into pneumonia which put him in Kaiser hospital this past Saturday, February 27, 2016.  Our brother Herbert also suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema which is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe.  Many people who suffer from COPD become sick easier and often need extra oxygen. Some are anxious about traveling with oxygen tanks so they stay home instead of enjoying time away. But when our brother Herbert became sick and went to the hospital it was discovered that he also now has fluid on his lungs.  So it is with some urgency I come to you my brothers and sisters to pray for Herbert Sutton as his suffering literally takes immense effort for him to breathe in each life-giving breath.

Prayer for Herbert Sutton

Say these words as you pray for Herbert;

Dear Lord, God in heaven I know your loving grace is with us, for you see and hear our prayers for our brother Herbert Sutton. Oh’ Lord, God in Heaven I call upon you and your healing touch to take the pain away, to make each breath easier, to give hope and love to this man who has so much to live for namely his many children and grandchildren who love him as much as you love them. Dear Lord, I humbly ask you the master of all things, master of the living and the dead, savior of all who love you to show your grace upon Herbert who lay in pain and who is long suffering, and I humbly ask you to heal him allowing him to stand, walk, and talk so it may bring glory to you alone. Oh’ my God of mercy I pray to you, the only one who can grant salvation and who sent your only son to die on the cross only to be raised on the third day, to hold Herbert in your ever loving hands, to carry him for he is weak, and to redeem him filling his soul with your love calming him, giving him reassurance, and the will to live. Oh’ Lord, God in Heaven let it be so that our brother Herbert hears your voice as you say unto him,

“I came that they might have life and have it to the full.” ~ (Jn. 10:10)  As we all pray, “For

In response to the Lord – We all pray, “For the Lord is my shepherd; I shall want for nothing;
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.” ~ (Ps. 23)

Amen

Dear Brothers & Sisters, please pray this prayer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that our God will send his love to Herbert in abundance and allow Herbert to breathe effortlessly once more full of life.

 


Suffering Servant

12 “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” ~ Isaiah 53:12

The vision given to Isaiah was one of a suffering servant. It painted an image of a man willing to be counted as the rest of us sinners, who would bring healing and salvation through his suffering. It also was a portrait of the Spiritual Works of Mercy as our suffering servant would ultimately forgive his accusers, captors, and a murderer who begged for forgiveness as he also hung on the cross. Through Isaiah, many people got to know the future plans of God and they found comfort in what they heard. This was especially true within Jewish population who began looking to the day when their messiah would come with their hearts filled with hope.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a religious conference where I heard three men speak about our broken Criminal Justice System. I heard numerous stories of how this system breaks down and crushes the human soul, how it constantly eats away at the humanity of the inmate, how the value of a person is reduced to zero, and this condition is how millions of people who are behind bars live each day of their lives. I heard the statistics of those who are on death row, how they are made to wait for the grim reaper to visit them, and how much money we are willing to spend to impose this arcane system we call justice. Here are a few facts;

1.) 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U.S. resident population. ~ US Bureau of Justice Statistics

2.) African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.  African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.  Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one-quarter of the US population ~ NAACP, Criminal Fact Sheet (2016)

3.) As of January 1, 2016, there were 2,943 death row inmates in the United States. ~ “Death Row U.S.A. Winter 2016” (PDF). NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. January 1, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2016.

4.) Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population. There are 714 inmates on California’s death row. ~ Death Penalty Information Center

5.) California Spends Millions More on Capital Cases – California spends $90 Million dollars annually above and beyond the ordinary costs of the justice system in capital cases. $78 million of that total is incurred at the trial level (Sacramento Bee, March 18, 1988). In January 2003, despite a budget deficit, California Governor Gray Davis proposed building a new $220 million state of the art death row. ~ (“San Quentin Debate: Death Row vs. Bay Views, New York Times, December 18, 2004).

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What We Are Spiritually Called to Do! 

12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” ~ Matthew 6:12

We are called to enter into the wideness of our mercy on a daily basis! We are called to treat each other with: “love, kindness, and respect, because every person needs to be heard, to be loved, and to be respected”. (God’s Desire for Man, Reflection 1, April 18, 2009)   On this point, I would like to say that in truth none of us are better or worse than the most murderous criminal because first we are all sinners, and second because “there are no monsters there are only people with illnesses who are called to carry more burden than the rest of us.” ~  Fr. Gregory Boyle, (2016).  If you enter into the wideness of your mercy then you can begin to see people as God sees them. We are sinful and so His divine mercy was to wipe away our sin through the death of His only son.  Jesus is the Messiah of forgiveness and mercy, for He knows your pain because he went through it Himself.  Therefore, if Jesus could call on God’s divine mercy to forgive sin and to forgive offenses then so can we. Our God is a God of inclusion, God takes inclusion seriously – acceptances and non-violence seriously!” ~ Boyle, (2016).  Thus, if God can include everyone then so can we!  For “God looks past our faults and sees our needs.” ~ Chubs, (2016).  Again, if God can look past our faults then so can we do the same for each other!  The true message behind the Spiritual Work of Mercy; “Forgive Offenses” is found in daily prayer for those who have hurt you in some way, to pray for the grace to forgive them in your heart, and if you find it exceedingly difficult to forgive then call upon God’s divine mercy to help you enter into the wideness of your mercy. Letting go of grudges, finding commonalities, always remaining in your heart and in your actions with the love and kindness of our savior, and remembering that we are all sinners, especially if your kindness is not returned.  

One shining example of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, ‘Forgive Offenses’,  is a man who was the first speaker at the conference I had attended yesterday in Anaheim California, Aqeela Sherrills who has dedicated his life to campaigning against gang violence and the death penalty.  He currently lives in Watts, Los Angeles.  In 1992, Sherrills brokered a peace agreement between the Bloods and the Crips and his “current focus is on what he terms the ‘Reverence Movement,’ a peace process that allows people to see the sacredness in one another.” ~ The Shift Network, (2016).   The reason why I was so moved by his personal story was because he told the history of how he brokered this amazing deal of peace between the Crips and the Bloods in order to save thousands of young lives both in the gangs themselves but also innocent by standards within the community. Then he told the gripping events of the death of his oldest son Terrell who had his whole life ahead of him after just graduating Verbum Dei High School, (a High School the majority of my male students attend after graduating the 8th grade), so there was an immediate connection.  Then Mr. Sherrills accounted the stunning events that lead to his son’s death. “See he went to a party and was shot to death!”  Many people at the party witnessed Terrell die became angry because to see this  is traumatizing. But after the trauma, many began calling for revenge. But what happened next is what truly caught my attention, see I was expecting the pain and grief to be all Mr. Sherrills could see, I would have expected Mr. Sherrills to want some sort of revenge. But instead, when Mr. Sherrills heard what was going on in his community on behalf of his son he drove over to the place this was going on and got out of the car and said, “This is not what my son’s legacy will be about! If you go by street justice which is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, then it will leave us all blind and toothless!” ~ Sherrills (2016). So here is a man of great compassion and mercy, because the next thing he said was just astounding for what we wanted was to meet the 17 year old shooter find out about his life, talk with his parents, find out if there was some sort of relationship between them be it bad or good, and then help heal this boy through forgiveness, through counseling, and spiritual guidance. He would do that because the murder was also a victim of the culture and of our society. In retrospect, Mr. Sherrills not just demonstrated the Spiritual Work of Mercy but he also was following in the footstep of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.   It is role models like this which are leading a campaign to end the suffering of millions who are both victims but who are also incarcerated on death row. 

My final point is this if Jesus could forgive a murderer then so can we.  If Mr. Sherrills can forgive his son’s killer then so can we.   If we all make it a point to change the way we perceive justice and throw away this double standard that says’s, “spiritually we believe every person has the right to life on one hand, then on the other hand freely say the government has the right to kill.”   How does that even work?  If you believe in the Right to Life, then killing a human being for any reason should be against your moral code!  But yet many people past and present would go to church and say one thing and then stand in the courtroom proclaiming the exact opposite.   There should be no special cases, there should be no exceptions, there should be no selling out when it comes to your Christian obligations and moral code, and when defending these principles you, in fact, are standing up for Christ himself who has already stood up for you through his death on the cross.

Please sign the petition that will abolish the Death Penalty in California. ~ Click Here

Also please visit National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for scheduled executions and please pray for them. ~ Click Here

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Amen,

If you enjoyed “We are Called by a Suffering Messiah”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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2016 Wishes


NEW YEAR – NEW CHANCES – NEW CHANGE

30 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:30 – 31

 The calendar is the method we use to measure linear time.  We structure our lives around time, around dates, around events, and around lives anchored to the material things that will pass away in the end when everything is said and done.  People from all places cling to material possessions for the unwritten rule is the more you have the better you are, thus the more power you acquire. Money is very much an example of how we as people cling to materialism as it takes time and effort to acquire. The instant reward for acquiring this wealth, (i.e. things),  is that there will be more doors called opportunities, (generally entrenched the individual into a specific lifestyle based on money), therefore the more money it takes to keep the doors open. In this lifestyle the harder a person has to work to make everything flow as everything which is devised from man will. Though there are many more examples of this the way we approach life as mortals is very much linked to our beliefs and priorities. If money is a persons priority then all their efforts will be to acquire wealth and in that frame of mind nothing else will be as important. That single decision will dominate that persons thoughts in both their professional efforts at others expense and their social life for it will be anchored in spending time with people who have wealth in order to make those connection to enhance their professional life.  Their friends become business opportunities and their time spend will only be based on the surface, nothing deeper can grow in this environment. Sadly, the people of lesser means that God sends into life of the aspiring rich person will be deflected away because of their perceived status and the important lessons God is trying to teach is lost. Eventually a crisis will accrue and the hunger for a deeper relationship will become the center piece of that crisis because we are designed to function as social beings, we are hot-wired to build deeper relationships with other people absent of status, absent of what other people can do for you, for our lives must have meaning, and this is achieved through the hope that others first accept the person you are in this world. Within this hunger of a meaningful relationship we all strive to be heard, respected, liked, and understood this translates into the feeling of being loved which impacts our hearts and influences future behavior in a very deep meaningful way. The fix for the aspiring rich person does not come easy as their dedicated linear time is spending building the things of this world, rather the only fix is found in the love we are given from God. Whether people want to accept this truth or not the matter-of-fact is that all people are born with God being present within them; the key is to accept His divine presence in their earthly lives. Therefore, Isaiah states very clearly that those of us who live a life based on earthly pursuits grow weary, but those of us who place hope in the risen Lord find strength and renewal in Him alone and thus soar like eagles in all areas of our lives. The driving force in this scripture is that we are given many opportunities for change and in the effort for making positive changes in our lives is the reality of having a rewarding relationship with our God in Heaven.

NEW YEAR

8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” ~ Philippians 3:8-9.

Within the theme of a New Year and making “New Years Resolutions”, the more meaningful the resolution and the more we place God within the core of the change we want to make the better chance it will be that the change will be lasting. For God demands us to make changes with every revelation He gives to us. In this way become more like God, for our actions will then reflect God within our lives and we can be found in Him, Our Lord and Savior. So when it comes to a new change the mindset must fit the transformation God wants to make within us. To say, “I want to lose weight.”,  misses the mark unless you make the adjustment by adding, “I want to live healthier in both my life and in my spirit.” This adjustment anchors your change and reflects a new mindset in your faith and thus activates the power of God within you and instead of one flawed person trying to do something different there is the creator of the universe giving them the strength to make the change permanent.

NEW CHANCES

2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:2-4

Each trial and tribulation in our lives is also a way God gives us new chances to believe in Him. Each test we are given a new chance to prove ourselves and to be as God is trying to mould us. There is in my book not one chance with God, not two, not three chances, rather our Lord and Savior is a God of many chances. God walked among us, he felt the same temptations as we feel, and so his sympathy is without limit and his forgiveness is always available for the asking. Therefore, we should not look at the new year as a second chance to do something, rather every day is a new chance, every second we live is a new chance to make an effective change in our life for the positive.

NEW CHANGE

2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2

Contemplation helps to bring the truth to our hearts, it is the door to discovering our true self, it is the tool God wishes us to utilize before acting and to always be asking for guidance within the divine will of God. If there is one change most people need desperately to make in their lives it would be to contemplate, to make time to think of their spiritual concerns, and to align themselves with the effective change God is calling us to make. Again, every change is directly linked to living a life free from the worlds trappings and instead living our lives for God. The next change that will drive all future positive change is the acceptance of God within us so we can be found within God and truly build that relationship He is yearning to have with you. If there is any New Years Resolution I would ask for for all of you it would be for all of you to become closer with our one true living God. Happy New Year 2016!

Amen,

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The Seven Gifts From God


The First Gift Given Freely

55 “The Lord says, ‘All you who are thirsty, come and drink. Those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.'” ~ Isaiah 55:1

The Lord God does not need our money, He does not require us to repay Him for all that He has done for in truth there is no way that we ever could with earthly goods. From the goodness of His divine heart God created us from the dust of the earth, He feed us; gave us food and drink freely and without cost.  Thus, in every measure God gave to us life and allowed us to make our own choices freely independently with free will. In this He gave to all mankind dominion over the earth to take freely our food and drink to sustain our earthly bodies. All this was done outside of our power and monetary abilities and no matter how much we as people think we are great there in truth is nothing more great than our one true God, the giver of life, and the only true nourishment of the spirit.

The Second Gift Given Freely

30 “God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?” ~ Matthew 6:30

The Lord God created everything in your sight, everything in your hearing, everything you eat and drink, and everything you use for shelter. Yet when you walk into the far-off places still untouched from the hand of man you can see His truest work the beauty in nature. God created every tree, every flower, every blade of grass and every creature giving to them exactly what they need and dressing up in such magnificent colors that would put any work of mans to shame. Yet our loving God did the same for us and in His eye we are called His most magnificent masterpiece. For God dressed us up in His image and His likeness giving us intelligence and the ability to have faith. The second most important gift from God we all receive from birth is hope and the ability to believe in Him who has created all thinks no matter how long it lasts, it comes from His divine hand.

The Third Gift Given Freely

9 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” ~ Luke 11:9

God gives to us our hearts desires, look at King David who was given strength to slay the giant Goliath, his son Solomon who asked God for wisdom in saying, You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”  in 2 Chronicles 1:8-10. From the mouth of God Solomon was given what He asked for and many thinks more that he did not ask for, all given to him freely by our loving and gracious God. Therefore from Jesus Christ’s own lips was this gift also extended to every human on earth, thus the third gift was the ability to speak directly to our one and only God. For it is His divine desire to speak directly to us from His eternal throne in Heaven. God so desires a relationship that consists of much more than one way communication, for our God gives us a voice and an audience with Him alone to ask of Him our hearts desires and to come to Him humbled asking for forgiveness. For this gift of a voice and an audience is our greatest gift for this is our direct line to the divine, our safety net when we are in raging waters, and our comfort when we pray.

The Fourth Gift Given Freely

34 “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” ~ Luke 23:34

The Son of Man could have never applied to God the Father had it not been for the very forgiving nature of God Himself. Evidence of God’s forgiveness is everywhere in every book of the Bible to every word in Christ’s plea for those who nailed Him to the cross. God is so ready to forgive and restore our sinful ways and touch our harden hearts with His divine love. God knows all the pain we endure for Him and so it was within His divine will to give us the ultimate path to salvation through His only son Jesus Christ. In the last hour when Jesus breathed His last forgiveness was no longer in the hands men, but rather given freely to every human being on earth by God through Jesus Christ sacrifice. No longer was the burnt offerings acceptable for the sins of man was placed on the blood of the most High. Forgiveness is yours for the asking, as every action God has made is to bring you closer to Him, to mold you into the most-perfect version of you through His divine forgiveness. If any proof was needed then we only have to look at one sentence Jesus uttered while he was riving in agony when asked by a murder for forgiveness,  42 “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” ~ Luke 23:42-43.

The Fifth Gift Given Freely

12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12

The Lord God gave the gift of Salvation, through His only son Jesus Christ. In truth nothing else needs to be written, nothing more said, for no one could ever out do this gift from God, no other work is greater than this. God send Jesus from Heaven to fulfill something no man could ever do on his own and that was to wash away our own sins. God saw our desperation, our separation and filth, He saw the state of abuse in both the Laws of Moses and in the Laws of God and washed us clean. God in one single act saved all of humanity from ourselves and He did so out of love. For it was this message being so important and great out weighed all other divine messages and thus it was commanded of us to spread it throughout the world that we are saved through His only son Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. For the message and gift of salvation as we wait for His return is to be said as found in Titus, 13 “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people who are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” ~ Titus 2:13-15.

The Sixth Gift Given Freely

10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

The Lord they God freely gives to all people His divine protection from the evils that which we could never properly conceive. The Lord thy God has stretched out His hand as a shield to protect us from all manner of sin and vile things. God has shielded us from our enemies who are both present and not yet present, from those who have threatened us in the past and in the future for goodness and holiness shall reign under the Lord for ever and ever. Put on the armor of God for He freely gives us this most magnificent protection and if we truly believe in Him we will be under His shield which nothing can penetrate. This is the sixth gift of God we can realize in our persona walk with Him, and it is one of the most precious as again it comes from God alone.

 

The Seventh Gift Given Freely

54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’  55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

In death Jesus Christ was raised from the grave in a perfect resurrection body. His is what ours shall become, from death we shall rise and become more like God. Therefore, the sixth gift will be that of renewed life in God, a life with God, and a the reward promised through salvation.  In this way we are given the hope of life ever after. The hope of walking with God the Eternal Father, the maker of all things for nothing is impossible for God.

Amen,

If you enjoyed “The Seven Gifts from God”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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