relationship

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Are You a Seeker?

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

While on retreat a few months back, my spiritual director asked me this question: what am I seeking? (She asked me this question because it states that I am a seeker on my website and business card.) And, it was a good question for me to ponder while on my retreat. And ponder and pray I did – while walking and sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan. Here is the answer to this question as it came to me.

I am seeking to grow ever closer to the God of love. I want to continue to deepen my relationship with Him so that I can help others to have a personal relationship with our heavenly Father through a solid prayer life.

I seek to learn more about our faith.

I seek to become a better husband, father, and man of faith.

I seek to discover new and fresh ways to show the importance, relevance, and need of our faith to teens and young adults.

I seek to help others know that God is always present and with us – no matter what we do, say, or think.

I seek because I never want to be complacent or stuck with where I am. I may not always know where I am headed, but I want to try to enjoy the journey. And I am always looking forward to the surprises that God has in store for me.

I am seeking to help others find the way.

I am seeking; forever seeking.

What about you? Are you a seeker too?

Prayer Changes Our Hearts

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Don’t hold back when praying to God – tell him exactly what’s wrong and insist on holding him to his promises. Prayer should be like speaking face-to-face with a friend: “without fear, freely and also with insistence.”

Pope Francis made these comments in a homily based on today’s reading from the Book of Exodus (32:7-14), when Moses begs God to spare his people, even though they have created a golden calf to worship as their god.

Pope Francis said that Moses shows what praying to God should really feel and sound like: not filled with empty words, but a heartfelt, “real fight with God.”

Moses is courageously insistent and argues his point, and prayer must also be “a negotiation with God, presenting arguments” supporting one’s position.

When God decides to not punish his people, it’s not God who has changed, but Moses, Pope Francis said.

“Prayer changes our hearts. It helps us better understand what our God is like. It helps us grow closer to him, recognize his love and rejuvenate our faith.”

The pope underlined what Jesus said: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.”

“No, say what’s what: ‘Look, Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that … What can you do? Now see here, you can’t leave me like this.’ This is prayer.”

Pray like Moses did, face-to-face with the Lord, like a friend, freely, with insistence and good arguments, the pope said. “And also scold the Lord a little: ‘Hey, you promised me this, and you haven’t done it …’ Like that, like you talk with a friend.”

Open one’s heart wide to God and get to know him better, and you’ll be amazed at how your relationship with the Lord will deepen and grow.

Being an Evangelist is Not What You Think

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Who wants to be an evangelist? Typically when I ask this question when giving a talk somewhere, no one raises their hand. On very few occasions one or two people have.

It seems evangelism has become a scary word for us. In general, it is a word with which we do not want to be associated. For some, it comes from being on the receiving end of someone else’s evangelism, often coercive, even threatening. For others, it may be that religion isn’t something people talk about; or that one’s faith is private; or simply the desire not to be perceived as one of “those” people.

Whatever the reason, most people not only have little experience in evangelism but are downright frightened of it. And that, of course, cripples our ability to reach out to others with the good news. Today’s story of Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29-34) might be the perfect reading to invite us not only to admit our discomfort with evangelism but also begin to overcome it. Read More

Made Out of Love to Love

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20131008_180315I am always telling my wife Stephanie how much I love her. I tell her that my love for her burns with a fiery passion, that she completes me and makes me a better person, and that she fills me with joy and happiness every single day. And I often tell her that my love for her is so deep that she truly doesn’t know how much that I love her.

When I read today’s reading from St. Paul (Ephesians 3:14-21), I immediately thought not only of how much I love my wife, but also how much God loves us. And the similarities are quite amazing.

  1. Our relationships are rooted and grounded in love. We were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made out of love to love. God created us out of love and wants us to love others the way he loves us – unconditionally. That’s the same type of love that each of us longs for in any relationship.
  2. We can never fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of that love. God’s love for us simply surpasses all knowledge. Just like when I tell Stephanie that she doesn’t know how much I love her, we cannot grasp how much God loves us – despite all our flaws. I often think that if I love my wife as much as I do, how much more does God love me? I cannot imagine and it simply blows my mind.
  3. We are filled with all the fullness of God. In other words, God completes us. Every longing is satisfied when we place ourselves in His divine presence. We are filled with joy and happiness and our hearts burn with a passion when we spend time with our God who loves us so much and desires to be with us (and is with us) every minute of every day. When we spend time with God in prayer, we become whole, complete, and one with our heavenly Father. That is a fullness that can never be emptied.

It’s no coincidence that God compares the love he has for us as the love that a bridegroom has for his bride: filled to the brim and forever overflowing, abundant with joy and happiness, growing deeper with each passing day, and always rooted and grounded in unconditional love.

The Cost of Discipleship

Posted by | Discipleship | No Comments

So who wants to be a disciple of Jesus? He certainly doesn’t pull any punches about what it takes (Luke 14:25-33). First, hate your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even life itself. Second, carry your own cross and follow him. And third, give up all your possessions.

It’s that simple and it’s that difficult. Jesus’ words don’t just sound black and white. They are black and white. It is all or nothing. We’re either in or we’re out. Those three things, the cost of discipleship, shaped Jesus’ life and ministry and they are to shape ours as well. Let me break these down one by one. Read More

What a Surprise!

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My wife and I spent this past weekend with 13 teenagers on a Peer Ministry Retreat at a camp in East Troy, Wisconsin. This was our 8th year doing this retreat and we really enjoy watching the teens as they learn important leadership skills and deepen their relationship with God. We always stress to them the importance of making time for prayer in their busy lives, and I always share this story with them.

surpriseA few years back while on this same retreat, I decided to do my Sunday morning prayers down by the lake. It was a misty, calm morning as I sat myself down on the little wooden pier. I pulled out my Liturgy of the Hours and began praying out loud. At a certain point, I began freely talking with God about some things that were going on in my life at the time. I verbally placed my intentions before the Lord hoping for some direction and guidance. Suddenly, I noticed movement from deep beneath the murky waters, and slowly emerged a very large turtle. His head peered out of the water and it was looking directly at me. I was completely caught by surprise. It felt like God appeared before me right when I needed him during my prayer. After a brief moment of eye contact between each other, the turtle returned to the depths of the lake.

Our God surprises us so many times during our lives, but we’re often so preoccupied with life that we often miss it. Sometimes we’re asked to put out our boat one more time, to try again, to go outside our comfort zone and take a chance. But how often do we react like Simon Peter and say that we’re not worthy of such blessings, that we’re not worthy of such love? We need to trust in the Lord and not be afraid, for he made us out of love and wants what’s best for us. And if we do, the rewards will be amazing.

May the Lord bless and fill your life with his mercy, his unending love, and with many surprises.

3 Things You Need When You Pray

Posted by | Prayer | No Comments

How is your prayer life? Is it improving day-by-day, or are you stuck right where you stand?

I always suggest to people that if they are struggling with their prayer life, or if they find themselves stuck in the same-old, same-old, to shake things up a bit. It is always a good thing to try out different prayer forms to get your creative and spiritual juices flowing once more. I believe that it often helps one to re-connect with their Creator and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. Read More

The Knots of Life

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With yesterday being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. Every year, I’m blown away by Mary’s faith when she said “yes” to God. Especially as a young teenager, I can only imagine what her faith was like. Read More

Here I Am, Lord

Posted by | Discipleship | No Comments

Last weekend, my wife Stephanie and I along with our pastor took a group of 11 teens to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Today, I wanted to share with you our experience of this powerful three day pilgrimage. Read More

We’ve Sprung a Leak!

Posted by | Everyday Life | No Comments

bucket-holeDo you ever feel like the bucket of your life has a hole in it that leaks faster than you can fill it? No matter what you do, how hard you work, where you go, what you try, you just can’t fill it up. Work, play, friends, and family all leave you feeling empty, restless, and searching. You can’t seem to get enough. The outflow is greater than the inflow. You are left drained of life: tired and weak, frustrated and hopeless, angry and resentful, sorrowful and grieving, fearful that you will never have the life you want. If you know what that is like, perhaps you can relate to the hemorrhaging woman in today’s gospel  (Mark 5:21-43). Read More

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