Dare To Ask!

What would happen if Catholics dared to ask for big blessings rather than just settling for a little? Why don’t we ask God for more than we do? Why do we settle for less than the best God can give us? Are we limiting God’s blessings by our failure to ask for more in faith? Scripture tells us that we do not receive because we do not ask.
Is it that we think God isn’t capable? Don’t we pray to the same God who created the heavens and the earth, the Creator of thousands of galaxies? Isn’t He the same God who parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites? Isn’t He the same God who defeated the Midianites with Gideon and only three hundred men? Isn’t He the same God who David relied on to defeat Goliath? Isn’t He the same God who created every atom and cell in our bodies? Didn’t He create every atom in the universe? Why do we think that there is anything He can’t do?
Isn’t Jesus the same Jesus who raised the dead? Isn’t He the same one who healed lepers? Didn’t He restore sight to the blind? Didn’t He make the deaf hear? Didn’t He heal the paralytic? Didn’t He raise the dead? Was there anyone He couldn’t heal?
Was there any situation He couldn’t deal with? Didn’t He feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and fish and still have leftovers? Didn’t He calm the Storm and walk on water? Is there any situation too big for Him? So why do we ask for so little?
Do we think He doesn’t love us enough to give us more so we settle for so little? How can we think that? Would He who turned away no one who came in faith turn us away? Would He who suffered so much in the Passion for us not love us enough to bless us? Would He who sacrificed thirty-three years away from Heaven for us refuse to give us all good things? Do we think that we don’t deserve it? God’s love is so beyond that. If you look in Exodus, the same Israelites rescued by God at the Red Sea and freed from slavery in Egypt were soon worshipping a golden calf. Yet God still performed the miracle at the Red Sea.
Would He who said knock and the door shall open, seek and you will find, ask and you shall be given deny us the blessings that are good for us? Would God put in scripture “by his wounds we are healed” if He didn’t mean it? Why does He repeat that “with God all things are possible? Why do we think He didn’t mean these things?
Scripture tells us God can’t lie. It tells us God can’t change. God is God, no limits on what He can do except the ones He imposed on Himself. He gave us free will so that we could choose to love Him or not. He gave us the choice of believing in His love and goodness or not. He gave us the choice of trusting in Him. He practically begs us to trust in Him with the Divine Mercy Devotion and Message but the choice is up to us.
We can choose to ask for only a little or we can choose to ask for miracles. It doesn’t matter that we can’t figure out how God will do something. We don’t have to. That is His job. Can He who figured out how to create the Universe be limited in imagination? He knows what we will ask for before we even ask. There is a true story of a missionary in Africa that The Daily Encourager recently mailed out on the Internet. There was a premature baby who needed a hot water bottle in order to be kept alive. The mission didn’t have an incubator. The children in the orphanage prayed for a hot water bottle and a doll for the two-year old sister. That same day a care package arrived which was mailed five months earlier. Included were a hot water bottle and a doll. We don’t have to figure out how God can do something. We just have to pray with faith.
Our God is a God of miracles, a God of infinite love, infinite who loves to surprise and bless His people. He longs for us to come to Him, to acknowledge Him as our God. He doesn’t want us to try to handle things on our own but to depend on Him, to trust in Him. He longs for us to call Him, Abba, Daddy. Why wouldn’t we expect Him to bless us? Why do we expect so little?
We have to stop limiting God with our low expectations and weak faith. We have to take Him at His word and trust in Him. Jesus said come to me. We have to come to Him believing that He will bless us. The stronger our faith, the greater our trust the more we will be blessed. Pray with openness to all of the possibilities; don’t limit God by asking for so little. Don’t think. I’ll be happy if the surgery goes well. Put the need in God’s hands and ask for His best blessings. Pray like this. Lord, you know the problem with Father’s back. You know how much we need him. We know how much you love him and that for You all things are possible. We ask You to come into this situation and we ask for the healing of Father’s back according to Your perfect will. We know that You know best and we trust in Your love, mercy and goodness.
I bet the first step for many of us would be to ask God to increase our faith. The second step would be to get to know God better by the reading and study of scripture. Don’t just pick up the Bible and read it. Each day before you open it ask God to open your eyes and heart to see the message He wants you to get out of the day’s reading. Then take notes as to what God said to you through the scripture passage. You might also want to subscribe to a guide like God’s Word Today which will pick out passages to read for each day and give you comments and a prayer to say in response.

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We Miss Out On So Much!

Recently in the past two months I’ve heard most of the book of Acts proclaimed at mass, talked to a convert who is a former Pentecostal and receive many emails from Reinhard Bonneke’s Christ for the Nations Crusade. What strikes me is how much the Western Catholic Church is missing.
The Spirit filled life is a life of power. We are given the power to serve the Lord and help others. If you read the Book of Acts miracles were common. People expected miracles. People flocked to see Peter and Paul, hoping that their shadow would pass over them and they would be healed. People brought cloth to be blessed so they could touch and heal the sick at home. The Church was a church of miracles.
There is a world of miracles happening today. In the Third World missionaries are doing amazing things and bringing many people to Christ. Hundreds if not thousands of simple preachers and evangelists in Africa are laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed. As Jesus said in the gospel to John the Baptist’s followers, the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. In the United States, evangelists like Charles and Frances Hunter have seen thousands of healings in their ministry.
The shame is that these healings are happening mostly in other denominations. There are thousands of people who join other Christian Churches because of these. Yet we have Jesus Christ in our Tabernacles. Unlike the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment we get to touch Jesus Himself, the Divine Healer, master of the universe.
In the beginning of the Church before most of the New Testament was written down people believed in God’s love and providence. They believed He would supply all their needs, they trusted Him. They laid hands on the sick and they recovered. Miracles played a major role in building the Church.
The Catholic Church is not exempt from these miracles. I know a priest who grew up in Nigeria and returned there regularly on vacation and He witnessed miracles. I prayed with him over people in our parish in N.J. and we saw people healed. I attended a Filipino Charismatic Conference in 2006 and the healing service looked like a battlefield because so many people were resting in the spirit and many were healed physically, emotionally or spiritually. I knew a Catholic Church in Newark N.J. that prayed over the sick two Sundays a month. This kind of thing should be happening in every parish. The Catholic Church is the original charismatic church so why aren’t we seeing more of the Spirit’s power in action? Are we blocking the power of the Holy Spirit? How are we blocking the Holy Spirit?
Is the American Church held back by our superior educations and technological progress? Are we so advanced that we no longer feel the need to depend on God’s healing power? Do we feel that miracles no longer happen, that doctors can do everything? Are we so blinded by our education, so sophisticated that we think we are above the superstitious faith healing nonsense? Are we like the Pharisees so full of ourselves that there is no room for God to act? Are we too busy analyzing, trying to figure out how God will do something that we’re not open to what God wants to do? Are we too full of pride to depend on God?
Have we’ve bought into the world’s lies? We don’t need God. We can take care of ourselves. I’m successful because I am good. I’m intelligent, work hard and make the right decisions. I got where I am by myself. God had nothing to do with it
Or have we believed Satan’s lie that we deserve to suffer because of all our sins so don’t bother praying. God won’t heal us. He made us sick and He wants us to suffer. We’re not good enough. God doesn’t heal people anymore.
Is it that we feel unworthy, that we don’t want to bother God? Do we think that God only cares about things like our salvation but not about the little things in life? Is the problem that we really don’t understand the depth of God’s love for us, how much He wants to be part of our everyday life, how much He wants to do for us?
Could our problem be that our faith is so weak because we’ve haven’t put the time in to develop a relationship with God? Are we more tuned into the world than God? Are we really building up a prayer base, reading scripture and spending time getting to know God? Is our prayer life mainly Sunday mass and a few daily prayers? Are we really at mass when we go or are our minds too full of details that we don’t open ourselves up to God’s love? Are we spending more time thinking about Hotstacks or Ryan’s than praying? Do we limit the Holy Spirit by our expectations? Do we not expect Him to speak through us or to use us? Are we afraid of looking foolish? Do we really want the Holy Spirit to use us? Are we seeking opportunities for God to use us?
Are we limited by our vision of God or our lack of understanding? Do we think we understand everything there is to know. We think of God too often in human terms. We think in terms of what we might do. I wouldn’t like me if I was God. I wouldn’t help me. I don’t deserve help.
But God is not like us. He is divine. He is infinite. His love is infinite and unconditional. His power is infinite. He is so far beyond us that we’ll never understand Him

Time to Change

I feel today that God is calling us to a radically different kind of life. He is calling us to a life that is centered in Him and based on trust in Him, a life that is free of fear. It is different from what the world tells us we should live like but so much better.
God wants more for us, so much more that is better for us. A life of peace, of real joy and happiness is what He has for us, a life where we are happy despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether we are rich or poor. One of the reasons for the misery in the world is that we are so out of tune with the life God created us for.
There is so much more happiness in life than the world offers. Big screen TVs with high-definition, gourmet foods, the latest jewelry, CD’s, DVD’s, clothes, the fanciest cars, these things don’t make you happy. Some of you may remember what life was like before we had all these possessions. Some of you may have to rely on the stories of your grandparents. People were happier in the old days, less stressed and less likely to need drugs. There was less hypertension and other stress related illnesses. Now it seems all we do is worry.
When I was a kid we had one TV, one record player and when they came out one tape recorder. If I didn’t like what was on TV, I read a book that I probably got from the library. We had fans, no air conditioning. Our car was so old I remember one summer night people jokingly applauding because it made it up a steep hill. I didn’t have my own room; I shared it with my two brothers. We didn’t have much but we were happier than most families are today.
I remember the summers I volunteered at Camp Andrew Jackson. As a male counselor I was lucky because there was always a shortage of male volunteers. At night if I didn’t sleep in a dorm with twenty or more campers I slept in an attic room with at least eight other men. If any of us slept six hours we were lucky, Most of us put in almost seventy hour work weeks in five days. The heat was intense. One summer the heat index hit one thirty some days. The only air conditioning that worked was in the dining room. Our break room was on the second floor furnished with furniture that people had donated. We had a refrigerator that reminded me of the ones I saw growing up in the fifties. It worked that well too. Every thing was warm so all we had to drink was warm soda or Kool Aid.
Not the best of conditions. We usually had about twenty to twenty-five volunteers, some of whom stayed for seven or eight weeks and came back as long as they could afford to. Why?
No other place in my life did I experience the kind of Christian love that I experienced there. People volunteered because they felt a call by God to come and give of themselves to others. They gave of themselves as much as possible. Most of the campers who came to camp came not for the activities but because of the love they experienced from the staff. The campers came on Monday morning and left on Friday and the volunteers poured all of the love they had into these kids, gave all the individual attention and building up they could. There was an emphasis on praising not criticizing and campers and staff were praised. You gave everything you had for five days, then did the same for the staff at night and on the weekends and then started it all over again on Monday.
You bonded with people more in a week or two than you might bond with your coworkers in a year. You shared prayer with the campers before each meal, bedtime and in Bible Study. On top of that you prayed with the staff before the campers woke up and after they were put to bed, supposedly at 7:30 AM and 10:30 PM. On top of that you prayed together over problems and most of us worshipped together at the Catholic Church on Sunday. We shared prayer books, music, scriptures as we planned the prayers and Bible Studies for the campers and each other. We also share our stories, our dreams and our experience of God. You gave everything you had to give to whoever the Lord brought into your life.
We didn’t always agree but we learned to talk things out and work things out. We worked in groups of four to six volunteers with twenty or more campers. We learned to accept each others weaknesses and recognize each other’s strengths and we were able to blend all of our different strengths together to compensate for our weaknesses. We taught the campers by example, how to love and serve each other, throwing ourselves into cleaning the dorms, bathrooms and showers, and often sharing our own possessions with campers. We didn’t worry about things; we cared about the people who God had given us to love.
The hardest part of those summers was Fridays. On Fridays we said good-bye to the campers and after a couple of weeks we started saying good-bye to the volunteers. You never knew if you’d see them again, some you knew were starting careers and probably wouldn’t come back. Others you might see the next year or a couple of years later. The worst Friday was the last Friday. I hated that day. After seven plus weeks of this I was completely exhausted but always wanted another week.
In a way we are called to live our lives like that, to give all that we can to the people around us, to love them the best we can at the time and to call on God, to pray with each other over problems and to be there for each other. I keep thinking of the quote from Jesus, Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend. Today we think of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the emergency personnel killed on 9/11 and others. But it is more than that. It is all those parents who give all they have for their kids, the teachers who day after day give everything they can to their students, the doctors, nurses, social workers, store employee whoever gives all they have to others and keeps doing it. That is laying down your life, sacrificing your time and effort for others, giving all you have at the time.
The good news is that we don’t have to do this on our own. God is waiting to guide us to provide what we need, to help us. All we have to do is come to Him and trust Him.

Time to Stand Up for Our Faith

It seems most Catholics don’t care about the attacks on our faith by popular politicians. The Obama’s administration attempt to force Catholic institutions to violate our religion by requiring us to pay for contraception was mostly ignored by all but a few pro-life activists. Now Hillary Clinton insists religions must drop their opposition to abortion. Where is the outrage? Why are we silent? Isn’t our church important? Don’t we love our faith?
Don’t we understand that our Church was founded by Jesus Christ and has withstood attempts in every century to corrupt our faith? We didn’t let the heretics, Martin Luther, Calvin or Henry VIII change the church. We stayed true to the Church established by the Apostles. Why would we let the likes of President Obama or Hillary Clinton change the Church now?
As a Church we are called to help people to follow the narrow way to heaven. We can’t diverge from the truth taught us and handed down generation to generation. All of us including the Pope and bishops will stand before Almighty God and account for their stewardship. We have to stay true.
We must understand that contraception and abortion is only the tip of the iceberg. Too many Catholics find these issues irrelevant to their lives but these won’t be the only changes that society will insist on. Open the door; give in and the floodgates will open. We will have to change everything. Nothing will be wrong, sin will no longer exist. Our faith may make you feel good but will it help you enter Heaven. Our Church will no longer be recognizable, not even to God.
Take a look at what is happening in other denominations. As the mainstream denominations change with the times people are leaving them in droves for evangelical churches. Many Anglicans are becoming Catholic and the Episcopal Church has split in two.
We have to stay true to the faith Jesus Christ gave us. Now is the time to stand up. Now is the time to fight!

What Would Happen If We Really Believe In The Eucharist?

Have you ever thought how much our doubts about the Real Presence cost us? Surveys reveal on 30% of Catholics really believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. What does that cost us? Think about it.
According to our faith Jesus is present in every Eucharist in all of His Divinity and power. Every consecrated host contains the same power that created the universe. Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever”. That means in the host we receive the same Jesus who healed the paralytic, fed 5,000 and raised Lazarus from the grave. Jesus healed everyone in the gospels who came to Him in faith. Do we act like we really believe this now?
Think about how we go up to Communion, to receive the Almighty God. Often we are busy greeting the people in the pews next to us or checking out who is there. Often people talk in line and the focus is on anything but Jesus. Too often our Communions are an empty ritual rather than an intimate encounter with the living God.
Think about how much this cost us. How much money do we spend running around from doctor to doctor, having tests and taking endless numbers of prescriptions with often terrible side effects? We exhaust our bank accounts and often end up in the donut hole with our prescriptions. Our medications make us miserable or limit our ability to function? Is the price worth it? Is this what God wants?
Wouldn’t Jesus have a better way? Could He not heal us? Is not His power in the Eucharist? Does He not want us to come to Him to trust in Him? Does He not want what is best for Us? Should we not be going to Him first before the doctors?
Jesus still heals people. I know priests back in Jersey who pray over people for healing while holding the Eucharist in the monstrance. They’ve told me they could feel Jesus’ power flowing through them. I’ve prayed with people before mass that they be totally opened to the graces Jesus wants to give them in the Eucharist. Operations became unnecessary. Biopsies were negative. Arthritis disappeared and mobility increased. Jesus is truly present in power in the Eucharist. With all that is happening it is time for us to open our minds and hearts to His awesome love and power.