Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Life is precious so be thankful for every day

Scripture: "The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty years; yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for it passes quickly, and we fly away."
Psalm 90:10

Reflection: Today when you woke up did you thank God for allowing your feet to hit the floor in the morning? About four years ago I met a woman named Florence at Le Moyne College. While I was riding the CDTA bus back to campus after serving at the Samaritan Center Soup Kitchen she a stranger then, sat next to me on the bus. She saw something I was wearing said Le Moyne and that was a conversation starter. She revealed to me tht she was upset because a tragedy had happened in her family. I told her I would pray for her and her family. She asked where I was coming from and and thought that was nice of me to go to the soup kitchen. Florence humbly did her work as a part of the cleaning staff around campus on a daily basis and I would see her more often. After saying hello from time to time I began to get to know her more. Eventually, we would have short conversations and every once in a while we would chat for a half hour or so. On one particular afternoon while I was working at the Athletic Center, she stopped by and we started to talk. Our conversations were almost always centered around family and faith. This afternoon she said something striking that I have remembered every day for the past four years and which I will not forget. After asking how she was she said, "I am so lucky because my feet hit the floor this morning. Every day is a good day when you wake up and your feet hit the floor." I thought to myself wow, you know she is right.

Florence taught me about perspective and the cliche that the glass truly is half full, as it is how you look at things. Her positive attitude despite all the difficulties that were taking place in her life amazed me. Her faith was bold and she was grateful for everything she did have. Florence became my friend and was an awesome example and kept me on my journey of faith. Her words of wisdom as what I now think about when I wake up in the morning. Many people do not get another opportunity to see the light of day and then how we use our time is so valuable. You never know who God will bring into your life, just keep your eyes open because when you least expect it, a person will speak to your heart and in essence this is the voice of God whispering a beautiful message that can truly change your life.  Our time here on earth is precious. We may live 20 years, 50 or even a century. However, we cannot control the length or when God will call us back to himself. What we can and must do is be good stewards of this life that we har been given and live a life where we love and are present to the people around us. May our faith shine like the sun and may we walk as his disciples so that when we do pass from this earth, others will remember the life we lived because of our fsithfulness, how we treated others, and the way we valued relationships. Take advantage of this day and the 86,400 seconds you have. Live life to the fullest and try to get better in every way by asking The Lord for his guidance and help.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank your for this day you have created and all that will come with it. Help me to use my time in a positive and productive way. Allow me to have my eyes and ears open so I may see you present in this world and be attentive to your voice through the wisdom of others. Teach me to value my time more and to share it most of all with those I love. May I someday be able to be a Florence for another person and to show them closer to you by my words and deeds. Help us to live life to the fullest today and to be present with the people we are around. May our faith shine through how we live. In Jesus name we pray. Amen


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The gift that keeps giving: Become a blood donor

Scripture: "And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood." Hebrews 13:12

Reflection: Donating blood is something that I have chosen to do now for the past few years as part of my community service and being a Good Samaritan. After all, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Every 56 days we are able to donate one pint of blood as our bodies naturally rejuvenate this amount. In the beginning I thought about the fact that each time I donate that one live is being saved. Certainly, a half hour of my time is well spent knowing this lone fact. Donating blood however for a Christian is even more significant and will lead you closer to Christ. One might wonder how, but it is evident in the mystery of the cross. When God sent his only Son down to earth he did so to love us fully. In the gospel of John it says, "I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10). Jesus Christ came to save us from sin and death and his ultimate act of love was manifested on the cross. During his crucifixion Christ shed his blood to save the world and open the gates of Heaven. Jesus is the ultimate blood donor and shows us to the father through his sacrifice. Now, when you donate blood remember that and know that we can share in this beautiful act of love in our own small sacrifice to help save lives of brothers and sisters in need. I urge you to take a step closer to your Lord and to begin participating in the life gift giving process of  becoming a blood donor. It may be a small thing we can do, however it is important and it will also lead us closer to our Lord who donated his life and blood out of love for each one of us.

Prayer: Father God thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ down to the world in order to save us from sin and death. Thank you for Christ's sacrifice and ultimate act of love on the cross where he shed his blood to wipe away every iniquity. Help me to give freely of the gifts of life that I have to offer others including my own blood as a donor to help save lives. May I trust that in doing so you will lead me closer to you as I remember that you paid the ultimate price. Help me to encourage others to get involved and to give the gift that keeps on giving. Amen.

To sign up please visit: http://www.redcross.org







Thanksgiving: A day to thank God for our blessings

11-26-"Give thanks to The Lord for he is good for his love is everlasting." Psalm 107:1

Scripture: "Give thanks to The Lord for he is good for his love is everlasting." Psalm 107:1

Reflection: Thanksgiving is one of the most significant holidays that we celebrate  because we dedicate time and a day toward giving thanks. As a result of a busy schedule, daily events and happenings, as well as the course of life, we so not give out God enough thanks for his mighty blessings as well as helping us through difficult times. Often we will find ourselves asking in prayer, heeding our requests to God. How much more will we be blessed when we incorporate daily thanksgiving and praise into our lives. This Thanksgiving make an effort to sit down and reflect on what you are truly grateful for. God has blessed each of us in a special way over the past year. Sometimes it is easy to overlook blessings or perhaps we take things for granted. That is natural. However, when we sit down with The Lord in prayer and praise him for all he has done we draw closer to him.

When I was in Kenya over six years ago, I visited Kibera Slum, one of the poorest and underprivileged places on earth. I wondered what the poorest people who had literally nothing could be thankful for. God was more present in that destitute place than maybe anywhere else. The Kenyans opened their tiny Shacks held together with rotted wood and scrap metal to us volunteers. An elderly woman who had at least 7 grandchildren to care for and a one room shack with only one old wooden chair invited me in and insisted I sit down. She thanked me for coming and smiled. I was overwhelmed in this moment when I saw the face of Christ in this grandmother who had nothing and still what she did have she offered to me and then thanked me for visiting her. All I could think then and still to this day is "Wow!" There was no self pity or lack of faith, rather just the opposite! God was present and she believed that she was loved and that our presence was a blessing to her on that particular day. That experience is something I will never forget because it taught me a most valuable lesson when it comes to gratitude and Thanksgiving. When we are grateful most of all for the most significant blessings in our lives including our faith and relationship with God, our family and fostering our relationships with others, God is ever present in our lives and we will be filled with joy & peace. The Kenyan woman was grateful for her family and she was very Thankful for God as her faith shone like the hot Sun that day. She really did have it all because no one could take away her peace and joy as she was filled with great love.

This Thanksgiving take a moment to count your blessings and each day try to reflect on them. Even if it's only a few minutes or a couple seconds, recognize God's presence in your life. Be grateful for what you so have and raise The Lord up in praise. Blessings shall overflow in your life and you will begin to focus on what really matters and what truly fulfills the soul, a relationship with Jesus, love and fellowship with Family, and being a good friend and neighbor because it is who you are meant to be as a child of God!

Prayer: Dear Lord, give us a constant spirit of Thanksgiving. May we draw closer to you and be more grateful for the blessings you pour out into our lives daily. May we come to you in the Eucharist, which is the ultimate Thanksgiving meal and may we be filled with lasting joy and a heart that forever sings your praise. This Thanksgiving bless out families as we gather around the table together and allow us to reflect on all you do for us. May we have full confidence in your great love and may we be forever thankful for your sacrifice on the cross. Heavenly Father we praise you this day and thank you for our lives and leading us closer to you. We ask this and pray with thankful hearts in Jesus name. Amen


Sunday, November 17, 2013

How do you live?: Living as a positive example

Scripture: Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Reflection: Each of us as a Christian has a responsibility to be an example to those around us. When we go to our jobs each day let us make sure we get there on time, work hard, treat others with respect, and do the right thing all the time. When we live a life of love for God and put others first we are showing the world what being a disciple is all about. It does not matter if you are only 16 or if you are 60, conduct yourself worthy of your calling and let your faith speak volumes to the world. None of us is perfect and we will make mistakes, but it's important for us to own up to them, make things right, and then move forward. God is pleased with his servants who give their best each day and turn circumstances into opportunities. Pope Benedict XVI summed up what being a Christian who live out his or her calling is about in saying, "We were not made for comfort, we were made for greatness." This thing called life is not necessarily easy, but we have the greatest shepherd of all in Jesus to guide us along the way. So always remember that you are being watched and what you say and do truly matter. Be an example in a world that needs to see young and old living life morally and with love.



TEBOW for Greatness: As believers we have this responsibility to live our lives as an example for all to see. It is amazing how much people talk these days. Give them something to really talk about, be different. Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner, two time national championship quarterback for the Florida Gators, and NFL player for the Broncos and Jets once said that we need to use every situation as a platform in life to share the message of Christ with others. Are we doing that daily? Tebow whether you like him or not, whether you think he is a good QB or do not believe so, he is living this out. The guy gets on the podium and thanks God, he is grateful for his successes and shares them with others. Tim has used his fame as a way to share his faith and why it's important to love God and neighbor. I am inspired by this guy so much because he is like a sports super hero. How many stories do you hear filling the newspapers and broadcasts of famous athletes getting caught doing drugs, committing crimes, being a poor example and bad role models. Not this guy. The media always wants to catch him off guard or trap him in his own words. Keep in mind, the Pharisees and people in the days of Jesus did this to our Lord. There will always be those out there who are critical, don't pay attention to them and don't let them stop you. Instead, Tim Tebow continues to represent I a good and positive way. His conduct on the field is an example, as he inspires his teammates through his NO QUIT attitude until 0:00 is left on the clock. He gives thanks and credits others for his success. Finally, he is superman in a jersey because not only does he perform on the grid iron, but he uses his NFL career, wealth and fame as a platform to love others. Through Tim's foundation and Team Tebow, he is able to build hospitals for orphans in the Philippines, serve and provide aid in orphanages. He flys sick and disadvantage fans in, visits with them and their family,  and shares in a dinner with fans trough the Tim Tebow experience each week. This is an example and Tim would argue he is not doing anything super, but is just trying to share the love of Christ with others. I do believe he would say that it is cool to be a super man or woman for others.

(To lean more about Tim's ministry and to help out please visit: www.timtebowfoundation.org)

Our platforms might not be such grand scale. However, we do have gifts and talents to share. We all can be an example whether rich or poor. We don't have to be famous to make a difference or to make a splash. There are people around us every day who pay attention to the way we live. They will continue to pay attention, however it's up to us to give them something that will open their eyes to faith live out. If you are doing this I encourage you to keep going and keep on doing that good work. If we are improving and are refining, God will help us through what we struggle with. Who knows maybe someday your difficulty or struggle with a sin might be used as a way to help another brother or sister to overcome an area of weakness in their life. Friend, try your best and ask God for help. Live a life that when you die some day people will have to remember you after you are long gone. Be that example for the world to see. I will leave you with this quote, “When you die, there’s going to be a tombstone. It’s going to have your name, it’s going to have the year you were born, and it’s going to have the day you died. In between, there’s going to be a dash. And that dash is going to represent everything that you did in your life; good and bad. It’s how you’re remembered. What do you want your dash to represent?” ~Tim Tebow

Prayer: Dear Lord help me to be an example of what being a Christian is all about. Despite my age, whether young or old, help me to us every situation as an opportunity to love and lead others closer to you. May the world truly know we are Christians by our love. Send down your Holy Spirit to strengthen us that we may not give in to the peer pressures or lures of life. Allow us to keep our eyes on the prize and to know we will receive an eternal reward some day when we meet you in Heaven. Amen

God is for us so who can be against us?

Scripture: What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn't spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?" Romans 8:31-32

Reflection: How lucky are we as Christians to have a God who loves us so much that he came down and shared in our humanity, taking on the role as life of a carpenter and being part of a family for 30 years before a ministry for 3 years that CHANGED the course of History forever. We have a God who is for us and wants to be our closest friend to carry us trough the trials of life and help us rejoice at the times of great blessing. No matter what phase you are in during your journey of faith, remember that The Lord loves you like you are his only child and he wants you to be happy and experience his great love. No matter what you have done, you are worthy because he makes us worthy by his cross and resurrection! It is a free gift to all. What a wonderful thing, that we could not do anything to deserve it, but that Jesus did it all for us and all that is required is that we believe and live a life that shows we care and love both God and neighbor.

Listen to the Lord for he wants to be your closest friend. Try your best to shut out the negative voices that you hear from people around you. Today is the day to flip your life upside down. Shut out the voice of the enemy who causes you to doubt your God and tune into the station that is filled with love and compassion. Jesus died for you friend and would do it all over again if it was just for you. Your life had great worth and meaning. It is time to get up and do something. You can do this and God knows you will need his help and will not allow you to be alone. Not only that friend, Jesus said, "I came so that they might have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10) God doesn't want us to simply survive, but to thrive and have an abundant life. You can receive this great gift for free thanks to the grave he has bestowed. I encourage you to shake the dust from your feet and get in the game today. It is not too late, God loves you no matter what because he created you and you are his child. Friend, today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice!

Prayer: Father God, we know that you are by our side. Help us to not listen to any nay Sayers or to the negative voices of the enemy. Allow us to believe that you truly want what is best for us. Inspire us through your Holy Spirit to fulfill our destiny. Thank you for dying for us so we might life and not only life but an abundance of blessings on earth. Give us a boost of faith and energy so we may live more positively and with our purpose in mind. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Stay Strong: Life's challenges are opportunities for spiritual growth.

Scripture: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." - 2 Peter 3:18

Reflection: God blesses us with the faith we need to tackle every obstacle in our lives. May we continually grow in this faith and be open to receiving the grace we need. When we do things with love and live for the Lord we cannot go wrong and will not be led astray. Have bold obedience and try to always keep in mind, "not my will but yours be done." God has planted a seed of faith in each of us. He wants us to grow daily. Our lives are filled with challenges on a regular basis. One perspective is to view these as obstacles that make us question God. If God really loves me why would he allow me or my family to go trough this? If God truly ares about me why does he not help me out of this situation and change these circumstances. Know friends that God does want to help you and at times we cannot explain the "why?" However, what we can do as believers is to ask God for help and think this way: What can I do with the cards I have been dealt? When we take this approach and positive perspective God will see that we are turning challenges into opportunities for growth in our faith. We water our soul and spirit this way and will bloom into something even more beautiful. Do not let the enemy cause you to doubt the one who made you and knows what is best for you. God pays attention to our effort.


Stay Strong: A story comes to mind that I heard last football season. Chuck Pagano, the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts woke up one day and things were not quite right. After things worsened he went to the doctor and tests were done. Low and behold he had cancer. Chuck who was just promoted to head coach of the Colts, a thriving football mind, husband, and father now was facing an uphill battle. He kept his faith, but circumstances still worsened. After chemo and other treatments the days looked number for Chuck. Football was now the furthest from his mind and he just fought to physically survive. Though his endurance, his faith, the many prayers of others, and the loving support of his family, friends, and the Colts, Chuck fought on. God blessed Chuck and began to heal him. Today, Chuck Pagano is back on the sidelines calling the plays for his football team. The thing that amazed me most about this story was coach Pagano's faithfulness, determination, and positive attitude. He could have thought "why me?" and maybe he did for a short time, but radical faith propelled him through the fire of life. At the national news conference after being released from the hospital and treatments were finished, Chuck spoke. His words were filled with thanksgiving to all the fans, family, and friends who prayed for him and visited him. He thanked the Colts for their love and support as well. The thing that stood out the most however was when Chuck talked about life throwing us challenges. He said that each of us will face things that we wished we did not have to tackle, but urged people to view them as opportunities for growth. He stated, "Circumstances don’t make you. I talked about it a long time ago. They don’t make you, they reveal you. There are things that go on in the National Football League, around our communities, in our neighborhoods, around the world, around the country and around our city. You just shake your head at and you ask and say ‘Why?’...For a second there, you might sit back and say ‘Why?’ Again, circumstances don’t make you, they reveal you." In saying this Coach put on his helmet and was mindfully ready to tackle cancer. He had a team of supporters around him who helped him, this being God who loved and cared for him through others. Remember, Jesus did not even carry the cross alone-Simon of Cyrean helped him. God won't let you carry your cross alone either. Chuck proved that circumstances reveal character and he is an example to the world through both his actions, his words, and his gratitude. I admire and aspire to be like Coach Pagano. Instead of  allowing "Why me?" and self pity to take over, he did the opposite and grew exponentially in his faith. He also used his fame as an NFL coach as an avenue to inspire millions and witness to the Gospel of Christ in a bold way. May we have this approach and may we not allow life's circumstances to make or define us. May we use challenges as opportunities to reveal to the world who we are as Christians.

Prayer: Father God, help me today to have a more positive outlook on life. When challenges come my way whether great or small help me to view them as opportunities for growth. May I never allow circumstances to define me, but instead to build me up in my faith and my character as a disciple. Lord, help us through and allow others to assist us in carrying our crosses and give us the strengthen to help our brothers and sisters with the crosses they bare. May we be an example and know that you are always by our side. Amen

To read more about the Chuck Pagano story and to read the full press conference transcript see the links below:

http://m.espn.go.com/general/story?storyId=8603500&src=desktop


Read more: http://fox59.com/2012/12/24/full-transcript-of-coach-chuck-paganos-statement/#ixzz2kuMyAe3a
Read more: http://fox59.com/2012/12/24/full-transcript-of-coach-chuck-paganos-statement/#ixzz2kuMZgZk1

Prayer: 

Your are an example and inspiration onto others

Scripture: "Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing."
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Reflection: Each of us is at times is the e person in other peoples lives that provides some inspiration. Whether it is a kind word, a listening ear, a text of encouragement, or even just a smile to brighten someone's day. We know that it is tough to slug this thing called life out and we cannot do it alone. Therefore, give what you have to offer, but at the same time know and be willing to receive the gift of grace and love from others. We are in this together as one body in the Church and when we lean on each other we can get through the trials an hardships of life and also enjoy the blessings all the more!

Prayer: Father God help us today to be an example for the world to see. Shine brightly in and through our lives. May our daily activity be done to reflect your will and may we do all things both big and small with great love! Help us to be your good stewards on this earth and to be a light in a world that is often filled with despair and darkness. We ask this in your holy name. Amen