Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cold days, warm hearts

Please pray for our neighbors who are staying in the homeless shelters or outside with the upcoming winter storm.

We know of many choosing to stay outside due to missions being filled or fear of families being separated. We have provided many with warm clothes, boots, blankets, food, etc... and trust in our loving Father for their care in the days and weeks ahead.

If they are staying at a mission, then they have to be out in the morning. Without employment, there are many hours to fill each day walking here and there.

Sickness comes without insurance, family or friends, or a comfortable, quiet chair in which to rest.

Addiction, depression and loneliness lurk in the depths of many hearts - sometimes even more around the holidays.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me." (Matthew 25:40)

There are not quick fix solutions for the individuals and families that are homeless right now.
We are called to witness and walk alongside our neighbors and encourage them on their journey- just as Jesus did. Most times we can not "fix" their situation. Most times we aren't asked to.

Not being able to fix things is very difficult for me and others, but we pray for discernment, listen and trust in the Holy Spirit for His guidance. When I become anxious or frustrated, I fall on my knees.
In my weakness, God continues to tell me - "not in your time, but in mine."
His timing is always perfect. He doesn't depend on us understanding it, just being faithful to living out the Gospel each day.

What we all CAN do is continue to let the love and light of Christ shine through us and be there to listen to them as they move through their trials.
God has allowed us to do this while serving lunch each Saturday. We just show up, and God moves the mountains.

On behalf of our neighbors in need around the Grand Rapids area:
Thank you to so many of you for your prayers and contributions to God's mission through us. Many have been encouraged and stepped beyond homelessness/joblessness.

Lastly, I hope you will make this season a time to give back to those less fortunate where ever you live. There are so many people out there who could use a helping hand! And as you know, it's not all about the big things since who doesn't have myriad obligations and time constraints during this time of year? Remember that Jesus "humbled Himself" to be with us, conversed with believers and doubters alike and reminded us how much God loves us.

So, let's not forget the little things - the common courtesies during the hustle and bustle, acknowledging (instead of ignoring) the homeless guy down the block, lending an ear to the lonely senior next door - which give us opportunities for grace and to show love of neighbour during the Christmas season.
If you are able to volunteer at the local shelter, soup kitchen or parish event or donate to these places, to a food bank or a toy bank, what are you waiting for?

We have sponsored some elderly people in need with monthly bus passes and our currently looking for someone to provide in this area.
If you are interested in providing a bus pass, food card, Bible, etc... for a neighbor in need, please contact me at 915-2414 or e-mail me.

Please pray for all of us as we continue to pray for the needs and intentions of many.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Instruments of peace

My the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you on this gorgeous fall afternoon.

Last Saturday was a beautiful day of fellowship and food downtown with new and old friends.
We served lunch with a large group of spirit-filled of brothers and sisters from Bridgeway Community Church in Rockford. There's nothing better than stepping out in love together and meeting Jesus in the process :-)

One of the regular brothers that shows up each Saturday - Duke - shared good news that he was going to be moving into an apartment this week after much persistence and patience. Praise God!! Please pray for him in his new environment and for his family who is he trying to help.

Last month, we had another brother we met last January who call us to say hello. He shared that his job is going very well. He has been employed as a cook at the same restaurant for six months now, which has allowed him to move out of the mission and into an apartment with a few roommates.

He told us that he wants to find a better apartment because two of his roommates are doing drugs, and he can't be around this situation. Please pray for 'A' on his journey that He acknowledges God in his life and trusts in Him to direct his steps.

It’s been a year since we began serving lunch to our brothers and sisters in need in downtown Grand Rapids. We praise God for His abundant blessings bestowed upon many through the generosity of fellow parishioners and others friends from area churches, towns, etc… I still stand in awe and wonder who is receiving and who is giving.

Every Saturday from 11:00 -12:00, friends gather in Veteran’s Park for lunch and fellowship. While there are many places to eat for those in need downtown, the park is a relaxed atmosphere that God has given us to use food as a platform. We, then, can extend the hand of Christ and offer hope and acceptance. The hands that clasp come from generous, longing and loving brothers and sisters.

In giving, we have received renewed eyes, ears and hearts of compassion to see how close we all are as children of God. We are all sinners in need of our Savior. Having a home in which to sin doesn't make us any better than one on the street who sins publicly.

Our Lord has shown us many miracles throughout the months of Saturdays. This can only mean there are an infinite number of miracles we have never seen, but trust have occurred.
Jesus is present in each and every individual we meet – whether they are homeless, jobless, elderly and alone, passers-by who wonder what we’re doing, etc…
Our Father has introduced us to more of His children. As members of the body of Christ, we all need each other and have a part in His plan.

“Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you."
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it.” (1 Cor. 12:15-27)

If you are interested in helping serve, make food or make a donation, please call me at 915-2414 or e-mail me.
Everyone is welcome.
God makes divine appointments each Saturday, and we just open our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We serve anywhere from 70-100+ people each Saturday, but numbers are not the important thing. Each smile, each handshake, each personal connection is an annunciation from God.

Mother Theresa once said that, “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

Many in our society want to lump different people into different "categories," - homeless, addicts, pro-choice, pro-life, homosexual, political, etc...but God did not create categories.
He created life - INDIVIDUAL and UNIQUE - and saw that it was good. Each person is made in the image of God. Many may turn away from Him, but He never turns away from us.

All of God's creation is valuable. All have a purpose. Blurring that reality is a tactic of the devil, and we must put on the armor of God and pray to stear clear of the devil's tactics.

In this mission, we entrust all to our Lord. We have consecrated the park to Jesus and pray for His will to be done.

Please continue to pray for all our brothers and sisters whose dignity is compromised because of homelessness, joblessness, loneliness or fear.
Ask the Holy Spirit if He is calling you to be a part of this mission or another one in your own community.

Donations can be made to ‘Instruments of Peace’, which is our non-profit organization.
E-mail me at for more information.

Thank you, and thanks be to God for His infinite mercy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are we willing to be martyrs?

MARTYR- the original word comes from Greek martus, martur, meaning witness.

Are we living as martyrs each day?
No matter what our state in life, each one of us is called to drop but a pebble of faith into the waters of God's creation.

One small act of kindness in Jesus' Name through the power of the Holy Spirit creates a ripple effect of which only God knows the depths.

Father, I thank you for this day and for the opportunities You give me to practice my faith. I ask that You help me WITNESS to at least one person today to REVEAL my faith. I ask that You help me BLESS at least one person today to keep me AWARE of my faith, and I ask that You help me to be GENEROUS to at least one person today so I can PRACTICE my faith. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ALL or nothing

Why do we keep going downtown week after week, month after month?

When the Holy Spirit compells us to serve HIM, we obey!
Now, if I could just do this ALL the time! I guess that means I need to continue "practicing" my faith daily until it's perfect, and it won't be perfect until I am with Jesus in heaven.

What is our number one call in this life according to Jesus?

"To love God with ALL our heart, with ALL our soul, with ALL our mind


to love our neighbor as ourself." Matthew 22:37

Easy, straightforward command, right? So, then why do we make it so hard??

The ALL and the AND in Jesus' words are MONUMENTAL. I am continually awed by the power of God's Holy Spirit in scripture! One small word by His Holy Spirit can change, has changed and continues to change my life, as I'm sure it does yours.

The other day my children and I were talking about praying as they read the Bible - that the words are living and how important it is to ask the Holy Spirit what He wants them to hear from His word. We can read an entire chapter in the Gospel or other book from which God will show us just a phrase. In reply, my son yelled out, "or just one word!" Praise God for His Spirit through our children!

Later that day I was meditating on the above scripture and God did speak just one word to me-
One powerful word - ALL.

3 little letters with such a HUGE message I am compelled to share.

He doesn't want just part of us, or to just give us a partial blessing. He wants to bless us in ALL our ways. He then poured out to me numerous other scriptures where He tells us this very message.

"I will bless the Lord at ALL times, His praise shall ever be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

"I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13

"More than that, I count ALL things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of ALL things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ..."Phil 3:8

"Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart... in ALL your ways acknowledge Him." Proverbs 3:5-

"ALL things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

Do we want His ALL? Do we want to live His command in order to receive it?
Obviously, we can't do anything to earn His love. He loves us the same today, tomorrow and always, BUT we are commanded to act out our faith in love.

As Christ said to his disciples, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

The world tells us we can have it all, but the world isn't talking about the same all as God's ALL. God's ALL will bless us more and cost us much more.

How much? ALL our heart, ALL our soul and ALL our mind - for God AND our neighbor.

This includes our enemies, those who curse us, those who think differently, act differently, dress differently, smell differently, vote differently, and worship differently.

It's impossible for us but truly possible for God through us if we call upon His Holy Spirit to guide the way.

Are we ready? Call on the Holy Spirit who is ALLways there to enlighten us.

Oh, Heavenly Father, I thank you for the Gift of Jesus. I thank you for the Gift of Your Holy Spirit. Oh, Holy Spirit, I give you permission this very moment to operate in my life. I give you permission to move me and change me according to Your Will. I surrender my will to Your Will. Your Will be done!
I ask you, Holy Spirit, to empower me to do Your Will. Holy Spirit, You are the Lord and Giver of Life. You are my Enabler! My Guardian! My Advocate! My Teacher! My Counselor! And my Sanctifier!
I ask that you inspire me through all of your precious gifts: The Gift of Wisdom, the Gift of Understanding, the Gift of Counsel, the Gift of Fortitude, the Gift of Knowledge, the Gift of Piety and the Gift of the Fear of the Lord.
I ask that you would reveal Your truth to me, that You would annoint me to proclaim Jesus through my words and by my actions, that You would direct me, teach me, enlighten me, reside in me, fellowship with me and renew me as well as convict me of my sin.
I ask this that I might bear fruit of Your Presence in my life: the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faith, gentleness, and self-control.
I thank you Father for Gift of Gifts...Your Holy Spirit.
I give you all the praise, all the honor, all the glory for this most precious gift.
I ask all of this and thank you for it in the most wonderful name of Your Son, Jesus!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Mission prayers

Each week I receive this prayer chain from DeGage Ministries, one of the homeless shelters in downtown Grand Rapids and will now post here.
If you are so inclined, please pray for the intentions and how/if God wants you to help.
There are so many opportunities to serve our Lord Jesus - all require action, be it praying, providing materials or services or funds.

Above all - PRAY

October 19-23, 2009

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:24

• Please pray for Charles. He is an older patron who has diabetes and has been homeless for a year. With the cold winter months approaching, he needs safe housing. Pray that he will set priorities and goals and accept the help that is being offered to him.

• Please pray for Ricky who is working on recovering from addiction but is finding it hard in his current environment. Pray that God will give him strength, perseverance, and people to encourage him.

• Please pray for Elly, the daughter of a volunteer. She is 25 years old and battling an aggressive form of breast cancer.

• Next week we celebrate the 9th anniversary of the Life Enrichment Center! We praise God for the way He has provided and grown the program. May we continue to be open to His calling and may the program impact many more lives!

• Next week we also celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Open Door Women’s Drop-In Center. We are thankful we have been able to welcome over 1,060 women since opening! May God bless the program, staff and women that utilize the Open Door.

• We praise God Zach was able to get a new scooter to help him get around!

• We give thanks with and for Wayne that he has an ongoing job and we pray it will prove to be permanent.

• Travis wants us to pray that he finds help to repair his car. He needs transportation getting to and from work and buying necessities including diapers for his child.

• Alfred is stranded here and staying at a shelter because his passport was stolen. We pray for speedy processing of traveling papers so he can return home to Kenya.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Praise God for His presence in us all. We humbly thank Him for His never-ending mercy, patience and Divine love. As He gives to us, we share with others.

Please pray for B who is struggling with alcohol addiction. He loves the Lord Jesus, but is finding it extremely difficult to stay sober. Pray that He truts in God and seeks treatment for full physical/spiritual healing.

Pray for V who recently moved and has many long-term emotional problems that the peace of Christ will come upon her and that she will accept Christ as her Savior and not just another good person.

Pray for M who continues to seek employment and housing. After having his backpack stolen again, he is waiting for new ID that will allow him to get further assistance.

Many get their backpacks stolen, which contain all their personal belongings.
Pray for protection for them - that God's holy angels would surround them and keep them free from evil.

Pray that the full truth of our Lord Jesus Christ continues to be spoken in love through pastors that visit the missions. So many are longing for hope in the Lord. Sometimes our neighbors in the missions get conflicting accounts of who Jesus really is. Is He angry at me? Is He real?, etc...

Pray for all those who are hungry that they will get their "daily bread" and for those who have their daily bread that they will hunger for Christ.

Give praise to our Lord for all the hearts and hands of those who serve with their time, talents and treasures for all those we meet on the streets and beyond.
Our God is an awesome God!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live as though you were old—live with the focus on what is real

Following are some words from a wise pastor at the funeral of my husband's cousin, Chad, this past week. He died tragically at the age of 29.

Death usually brings about thoughts of our own mortality. Would we be ready if today was our day?

When we wake in the morning, is there praise upon our lips or groaning?

Do we come, in humility, before those we have hurt to ask for forgiveness and also forgive others?

Are we there to help others when we see them fall?

What lense do we look through - a wordly lense or a Christ-lense? The one we choose makes all the difference in how we live.

What is our goal in life? Are we waking up each day trying to succeed for this world or trying to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and reach our eternal success with Him in heaven?

Who is our Lord? Who is the love of our life? There is only one love that will lead us to heaven.

May God bless you through Pastor Dave's words.

This morning I must ask you to do something odd. And before I do so, please let me lay a foundation for this request.

We live in a youth oriented culture. If that amazes you then I invite you to watch TV for a little while and ask yourself, “Why don’t I see people in walkers advertising the new F150 pickup trucks?” Advertisement – wrinkles, weight loss, cars, even old age is meant to be young (“ever have a ‘going’ problem?”; osteoporosis, dentures). The message is always – youth is the best time of life – hang onto it a long as you can – deny aging or growing old.

Here’s where I want you to commit yourself to doing something odd – totally counter-culture. I invite you to grow old. I would like nothing better than to see each of you grow old before your time. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is my sincere, devout prayer that I would see you age before my very eyes this morning.

J. Robertson McQuilkin, (former) president of Columbia Bible College, was once approached by an elderly lady facing the trials of growing old. “Robertson, why does God let us get old and weak? Why must I hurt so?” she asked him. After a few moments’ thought he replied, “I think God has planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose the strength and beauty that is temporary so we’ll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty which is forever. And so we’ll be eager to leave the temporary, deteriorating part of us and be truly homesick for our eternal home. If we stayed young and strong and beautiful, we might never want to leave!”

Listen to how God says it in the Bible. (2 Cor 4:16-5:1-5) "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

(1 John 2:17) "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
When we are in our youth and in our strength we center our lives on so many different idols. "Sin isn't only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry."

Think about how having the wrong goals will cause brokenness and damage:

If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person's problems will be overwhelming to you.

If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.

If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you'll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You'll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the "escape strategies" by which you avoid the hardness of life.

If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

If you center your life and identity on a "noble cause," you will divide the world into "good" and "bad" and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don't live up to your moral standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating.

This morning I’m asking you to make a decision to give up the idol of your youth and grow old. That you would set your mind on what is real.
“Oh, Pastor Dave, I’ve still got time for that!” (Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot why we were here).

You will bring to your death exactly what you have brought to your life. If you have focused upon the “strength of the physical” and pretty much marginalized God – you will not know how to meet him in your death. And that is a fearful thought.

What does it mean to focus on the spiritual? Let me tell you that I’ve been through this kind of experience before. Let me explain the psychology of what is going to happen. Some of you will be scared because the armor of your youth and strength has now had a severe chink put in it. So you now want to “get right with God.” And in your emotion and your fear you’ll try to do that – but you’ll try to do it on your own terms. “God, I’ll ‘get right’ with you (whatever that means) – just let me go to heaven – and if you don’t mind, don’t let me have to worry about it for a long time.”

And then when the fear of death begins to subside – because it always does – you slide back into the same lifestyle, the same values, the same idols.
It’s because you didn’t come to God on his terms. Total surrender – new ownership – rebuilding your life according to his blueprint. Jesus said, “FOLLOW ME.”

Please understand – this morning I’m not encouraging you to “come to Jesus” or “clean up your act.” I want you to do something much more fundamental and radical than that. I don’t want you to merely “come to Jesus”, but “to go deep with Jesus”, to let Jesus take over your life to the extent that you are so consumed with him that Jesus just flows out of your ears and fingertips, your words and your thoughts are full of him.

So what’s it going to be? Invitation – how to ask Jesus to be your Forgiver and Leader – forever.

In January 2000, leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his other pocket. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat by him. He couldn't find it. The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' Einstein nodded appreciatively.

"The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry. I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one.' Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'"

Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I'm going."

“And so we’ll be eager to leave the temporary, deteriorating part of us and be truly homesick for our eternal home. If we stayed young and strong and beautiful, we might never want to leave!”

Robert Browning penned these words: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!'”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Faith in action

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."
James 2:14-24

True, Christ redeemed us once and for all on the cross. We can't do ANYTHING to earn His love or make Him love us less. His gift of faith to us has us believe in this.
So what else does our faith compel us to do once we believe and seek that personal relationship with Christ?

According to the St. James in the scripture above, we would be useless without acting out our faith. Our faith and love of Christ drives us to show mercy, kindness and compassion to others. If we didn't, what kind of witness would we be for Christ?

Who would be curious to know Christ if we didn't reflect His goodness and put to death our fleshly desires to serve only ourselves?

Catholics are many times misunderstood by non-Catholics (and many uninformed Catholics!) in that they believe we think our works will get us into heaven. If we light this candle or say ten rosaries then we'll earn a better place in eternity. Nothing could be further from the truth!!

Of course, meditating on the Gospels (which is what the rosary is all about- completely scriptural) can bring us into closer union with Jesus. But if all we do is pray the rosary every time we hear about a neighbor in need or children starving in a third world country, then we're not living out our faith very well. If we are physically incapacitated and unable to act out our faith, there is the beauty of redemptive suffering, aka "offering it up."

Here's an excerpt from Mike Yankoski's book, MY 30 DAYS UNDER THE OVERPASS - a terrific and thought-provoking book.

Flip on tonight's news or go to a news blog and you'll learn all about the wretched things that are going on in our world-famines, epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes, rapes, beatings, political chaos, slavery, human trafficking, just to name a few. When you look at all of it, it's enough to make you feel really, really small, like there's no way you can make an impact.

Well, I want to let you in on a little secret: The world is not yours to change. None of us is big enough, influential enough, or powerful enough to end any one of the world's major issues. The only person powerful enough to eradicate poverty or cure all disease or stop earthquakes is Jesus. But He didn't do any of that. Jesus, in His wisdom, knew He couldn't just come down here and fix everything for us; He knew we wouldn't learn anything that way. Instead, He showed us how to live by spending thirty years on earth, setting the ultimate example for us to follow. He didn't end poverty. Instead, He reminded us that "you always have the poor with you" (see Mark 14:7).

But that doesn't mean Jesus did nothing to help the poor, nothing to reach out to those whom everyone else shunned. Instead, He lived with them, listened to them, ate with them (sometimes He brought the food), partied with them, healed them, wept and laughed with them ...

Same with us. Yes, the world is messed up. There are a lot of hurting people and a lot of important issues. You can't end poverty, stop earthquakes, or feed every person on the planet. But that's no excuse to do nothing. If you're a Christian, loving other people is not a "calling" you can patiently discover or wait for God to reveal to you. It's a direct, nonnegotiable command.

Some of us are called to go and be in the places where the biggest problems are. Some of us need to be there, working, helping, serving, not only on two-week trips in the summer but for years at a time, even lifetimes at a time. But some of us aren't supposed to do that now. It's not the right season. We're in school or providing for our family or training to go somewhere in the future.

But don't buy into the lie that "ministry" only happens overseas or during summer trips or on Tuesday evenings at small group or Sunday mornings at church. Ministry is about people in need, and those people are all around.

How can God use you to impact, change, affect, influence, love on, and meet the needs of the people all around you? What's holding you back? How can you break out of the fear and questions that keep you from "loving your neighbor as yourself"? (see Matthew 22:37-40).

First, pray for the Holy Spirit to stir up the gifts implanted in you from the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. It won't be long before you are called to action.

Our Christian faith is founded on works of mercy from the King Himself. He performed many "works" throughout His time on earth as an example for us to follow - the most significant was His Passion and death on the Cross.

Our brothers and sisters in need depend on us to help them. To whom much is given much is expected (and we do have much compared with the third world countries!!). Sometimes, we who have much are worse off spiritually because we are comfortable.

Have you seen the faith of those in impoverished nations such as Africa, Peru and Haiti? Christianity is growing and thriving among many even though they lack much materially.

The Lord is calling us to step outside our comfort zone this week and every week, as He called the first apostles and many thereafter.

Pray and discern His voice within for guidance. How do we discern if the desire we have to serve or begin ministry is from God?

In her book FULL OF GRACE, Johnnette Benkovic lays out some guidelines of discernment: "Generally speaking, if the prompting conforms with the ordinary acts of charity for people in our state of life who are attempting to live a life of holiness, and if there is nothing immoral or questionable about the action, we should carry it out with gratitude that God has asked us to serve Him in this way. If, however, the prompting is out of the ordinary and is potentially life-changing in scope, we should put it to the test by evaluating it against several criteria."

  1. First of all, is it fully in line with Sacred Scripture, the Ten Commandments, and the teachings of the Church? There is no contradiction in god - He will never go against His own precepts. If a particular action is in opposition to Sacred Scripture, it is not of God. If it goes against one of the Commandments, it is not of God. If it opposes a teaching of the Church, it is not of God. If it is an uncharitable act, it is not of God. If it opposes the natural law, it is not of God. If it violates legitimate civil authority, it is not of God.
  2. Second, is the prompting proceeding from virtue or the flesh? Another way to ask this question is, "What is my motivation? Selfish gain, pride or charity and love of God?
  3. Third, has this prompting been confirmed in other ways?
  4. Has the prompting withstood the test of time?
  5. Am I going through an emotionally difficult time, or am I suffering from mental instability?
  6. Have I sought the counsel of others? Few people are in a position to make major decisions on their own; (On his journey, Mike Yankoski consulted friends, pastor and spiritual director before heading out on the streets to live)
  7. Is the supposed prompting or inspiration of grace in conformity with my state in life? We must weigh the promptings we receive against our state in life. If we sense that God is asking us to participate in certain activities, go into a particular ministry, or become a member of a certain apostolate, it will not take away from the obligations of our life in other areas. There may be sacrifice, but there will not be conflict.

Not many words from me, but much wisdom from the Bible and a wise man and woman of God.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jesus in our midst

Jesus on the Streets Ministry is not just about serving the Lord by helping those in need, it is also a gift to be able to help people - a gift that comes with rewards. In helping people, we too are helped.

I have only served a few times but have met many wonderful people who are no different than you and I. They have a past that has led them to where they are. They have a future, but are not sure of it. The few that I have been able to talk one-on-one with have dreams of hope for the future.

One man who is 57 with a graduate degree wants to return to school and enter into law. Another man, who is now in jail knew he must serve his time for his offenses but wants to find full time employment and a better place to live when he is released from jail. There is a lady who is not sure how to better her situation but knows she wants to. She is trying to find a new place to live to escape from people that keep troubling her. She also knows she must rely on others to help her make this move.

All the people that we have served have one thing in common. They give thanks to God for that one meal. They truly realize that this gift of food is a blessing from God and it means they do not have to spend most of the day hungry.

It is amazing how many try to get a little extra food because they know that tomorrow they may be hungry again. They may save the food as a squirrel would, but they have the same souls as those of us seeking to know God.

Sometimes while serving, I daydream and wonder if any of the people are Jesus taking a human form to see how we respond to Him, but then He quickly reminds me He is always in our presence when we are serving Him - especially when we are serving those most in need!

-John Gilbert

Father, creator of unfailing light, give that same light to those who call to You. May our lips praise You; our lives proclaim Your goodness; our works give You honor, and our voices celebrate You forever.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Along the way in this ministry, God has amazed us and blessed many with gifts from countless people. As we continue this walk, opportunities for giving present themselves weekly.

If you are able or know someone who would like to make a donation to Instruments of Peace, please e-mail, call or mail a check to INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE (501c3). Your donation is tax-deductible.

Possible uses:
Sponsor a brother or sister with a monthly bus pass:
$40 for regular, $26 for senior.

We have been doing this on a regular basis for a few people we have come to know over the past 10 months, and they are very grateful. One gentleman is 74 and does walk a great deal (sometimes 7-8 miles a day!) but really uses his bus pass during the heat, rain and cold times.
He has an apartment, but his living expenses are very limited - as we are coming to see is the case with many seniors in this country.

Sponsor a Saturday lunch
Meijer, Costco or other grocery gift cards - each Saturday we provide food for 80-100 people. Each person gets a sandwich (turkey & cheese or pb&j), yogurt (or soup), a banana or orange and cookies, water or ice tea (hot chocolate in colder months).

Get together with friends for fellowship and cooking. Prepare bag lunches. We have had various people do this - a great gift of time and treasure.

Send a check to cover cost of a Saturday. $75-$125 is spent each week, depending on what is served.

The temperatures will be declining in the upcoming months and that means warms coats, hats and gloves will be needed. Warm socks and thermal underwear are appreciated also. Larger sizes needed for men and women. Sometimes people get these needed items from the missions, but the missions rely on the donations from people like you.

Please pray for guidance on whether God is calling you to get involved. We realize there are many opportunities out there for all to serve the Lord.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Friday, August 21, 2009



People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Yes, more words from Mother Theresa who tackled insurmountable hurdles, by the grace of our loving God, on her journey of faith. I admire this woman very much, but not because of her own merits. She would be the first to admit she was nothing but "a pencil in the hand of God." She was weak and humble, which allowed Christ to open the door wide for His great love and unfathomable mercy to shine through her upon many who were lost in darkness.

As we walk with Jesus to meet Him in the poor of spirit, we also meet many unreasonable, selfish, self-centered and dishonest people. At times, we are those people! How do we respond?

Yet, this one thing we do: "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

We forgive others and ourselves anyway even though they/we may not deserve it because our Lord forgives us every day though nothing we do can earn that forgiveness.

We act in kindness anyway because we are called to be "imitators of Christ" not each other's judge.

We succeed anyway because true success lies not in what we accomplish, but in our faithfulness - "faithfulness to take up our cross and follow Him."

We are honest and frank anyway because when we are honest with others in love, Christ is truly glorified. "be ready to preach the word; in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."

We are happy anyway because our happiness comes from Christ, not our circumstances. We try to share this with others to offer them hope.

We do good anyway even when others tell us our efforts won't make a difference on the large scale. We know that the Good Shepherd left His whole flock of sheep to look for just one who was lost, so we focus on one person, one soul at a time. We don't do good because the rules tell us to. We do good because "we are created in Christ Jesus for good works" and our loves compels us to charity.

We need unite with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their unending prayer so that we can share and receive the Gospel at all times, and "when necessary use words."

Anyway, in the end "it will only be between us and our God, not us and them."
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always. Amen!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Simple Path

"The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE."

from Mother Theresa's writings

Prayer, faith, love, service, peace - this road map to Christ is our simple path in life. It's not simple meaning easy, but simple because with Christ there is freedom. Following Christ gives us a freedom that the world and all it's trappings can never give.

The freedom comes through our baptism into Christ's family where the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and love are bestowed upon us. We can not take credit for our increasing faith, hope or love, though we can pray to be more open to these virtues which help us to love God more and grow in holiness.

Through prayer, we grow in faith. This faith compels us to love Christ more and more, which then leads us to serve Him through acts of charity toward our neighbors. Through selfless acts of charity, the Lord helps us grow in humility. When we are more concerned with loving Christ and all that He stands for and loving our neighbor with this love, then falling to last place in line becomes easier.

Notice I did not say EASY, but easier. Being last, unpreferred, unnoticed or approved of is not easy by any means. But, with God's amazing grace, through faith, it does get easier the more we trust in God's divine providence.
Through this service or humility comes peace - the peace of Christ. This peace is that of knowing that whatever may come, He is in charge and has us in the palm of His hand through it all.

Trusting in the world's ideas, solutions, etc... really is the hard path if looked at through the lense of faith. The world's notions change with the passing seasons, but God never changes. He is always loving, always merciful. If we just persevere, He will lead us to the promised land. True, that promised land may be far different from what we asked for.

When faced with troubles, such as disease or death, that threaten to steal our peace, Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of His love for us, saying, "I have told you this so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33

By opening ourselves to the grace of God, there is freedom in trusting. Trusting in His Truth that He will "never leave us, even unto the end of the I will never forsake you or abandon you."
Thus we may say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6

When the questions and the storms surround us, we must step back and listen to the soft whisper inside. Faith will lead us to take the simple path of a young child who trusts his parent. The child doesn't rationalize whether they understand the answer of the parent (this changes in the teen years!!). He doesn't sit up at night wondering how his father will pay the mortgage. The child has faith and believes and goes out to play.

That is why when the disciples approached Jesus, He asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "

Obviously, the kingdom of heaven is the goal we strive for as we walk the simple path.

Some examples:

A wife/mother of four gets pregnant and can't afford another child. She and her husband think the "simple path" would be to murder (abort) their unborn child, so as to continue on the path they think is right for them. This was the story last night outside the Eastern Avenue Abortion Clinic in Grand Rapids. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, here's what happened after the father talked to a sidewalk counselor...

"A couple went in very fast, telling me they already had 4 kids and couldn't afford another one. They were very determined to have an abortion that night. After half an hour they came out and he came right over to me and said "Tell me more about what you said about adoption." He was quite broken. She interrupted and said she already had given up a baby to adoption, "it's not easy seeing your baby and giving it away." He asked many questions and took the 'Pause' DVD, she was shaken but undecided. Pray for this young couple. From the way they were acting I believe they will not abort their baby. God uses our words, as inadequate as they are. As quickly as they ran in, they heard the words about adoption and it touched their hearts."

The simple path of Christ will lead this couple to a deeper peace than the "simple path" of abortion. The road may be rocky and full of thorns, but our Lord will lead them through, and His people in Grand Rapids will rise up to help as they have many times for many women in situations such as this.

While walking downtown, a nicely dress working man comes across an elderly man struggling to cross the street with his shopping cart. It is very clear that the man with the shopping cart is homeless. Well, he and his cart are blocking the way of the other man who is trying to get back to work after his lunch break. Crossing the street to avoid the homeless man would seem to be the "simple path" in the working man's eyes.

As he grumbles to himself, the soft voice within spurs him on to slow down and help the man instead. Through this small act of love, the working man experiences of peace beyond his understanding.

Now, the "simple path" he may have taken by crossing the street would have kept him in bondage of selfishness and fear. By taking the simple path of Christ, he was free and will, no doubt, take this freedom and peace back to those in his workplace and beyond. The ripple effect occurs either way.

Let us pray today and always that, through the grace of God, we can help lead others on the simple path of Christ and that we open our eyes to where God wants to lead us through others.

Also, pray for our hearts and minds to continually be open to receive His love through those in need. With God, we can move mountains that the world deems unmovable.

Remember, "God + 1 = an army" - St. Theresa of Avila

Pray for so many on the streets in the summer heat. Tempers flair, desperation increases... May God's holy angels surround and protect those on the streets around the world.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lord, You fail us not

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Thank God for His presence in Christian music. How important it is to fill our hearts and ears with musical lyrics that are honorable to our Lord.

The following words from a song by 1000 Generations seeped into my heart as I was ironing this morning. I have failed Him many times this week in my words and actions, yet He is ever merciful.
Praise and honor and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ! In my sinfulness, YOU are always there -consistent in Your love, calling me to be consistent in my love for my neighbor.

Failure doesn't faze you.
Worry doesn't win.
Lost doesn't leave
I'm free to start again.
Our sin doesn't shock YOU.
Our shame doesn't shame YOU at all.

There is nothing above YOU.
There is nothing beyond YOU.
There is nothing that YOU can't do.
Whatever may come, we'll rise above

YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

No matter the war.
Our hope is secure.
YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

Our Lord never fails us. Even when the circumstances around us seem to point towards failure, HE is there. We fail Him at times by not turning to Him or trusting in His Divine Mercy, but He is always there.

As His children, we are called to reflect His mercy on those around us - no matter what they've done. "I'm free to start again. Our sin doesn't shock YOU. Our shame doesn't shame YOU at all."

His grace guides me in this very mission each time I serve our brothers and sisters on the streets of Grand Rapids. Interacting with many of the same people week after week and building relationships with some is one of God's greatest blessings in my life. Set in motion through prayer, groups of us go to serve lunch to the hungry, but our time there is about so much more than lunch.

Weekly visits with some have turned into mid-week phone calls or visits. Unrecognized numbers on my phone often bring the joyful greeting of one of the brothers from the park "just calling to say hello and see how we're doing." God is good.

There are countless stories on the streets of failure - failure in the world's eyes, that is. That "failure" brings many to their knees - some literally and some subconsciously.

As the song says and our Lord proclaims, "Failure doesn't faze me." Our failures are stepping stones on the road to redemption. In our failures we see ourselves as sinners in need of a Higher Power - Jesus.

"No matter the war.
Our hope is secure.
YOU fail us not. YOU fail us not.

YOU fail us not!"

If our ears and the eyes of our hearts are open, Jesus' grace will flow freely into our hearts. Humility is a great gift. When we make a mistake and realize it, this is the time to praise God instead of condemning ourselves. In that moment He allowed us to see our sin and turn to Him, who alone can cleanse us.

Each Saturday morning before heading down to Veteran's Park, I participate in the Holy Mass or spend time with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration in order to bring His presence within me to our neighbors. There is no way I could go down there on my own merit. He is in charge of the day, and I just pray that I hear Him and see Him when He calls upon me and the others who serve Him there.

Our failure doesn't faze YOU...

As tabernacles of His Spirit, the failures of others should not faze us either. We are called to look with love on our neighbors, just as we ask them to look with love on us - in our homes, communities and beyond. Only then does it become easy to meet and build relationships with those society may deem failures.

If Jesus Christ is pure love, then we should pray for His grace to reflect and act with pure love.

Planting the seeds of love will bear great fruit.

We now have people who we have served helping us serve! One gentleman who lives in a low-income apartment complex in the area where we serve lunch sometimes now comes to the park to see us and help serve. What a beautiful blessing this is for us and for him to be able to serve others (he is out of work). He is always sharing the joy of Christ in his smile and conversation and now can pass this on to his fellow brothers and sisters.

Another woman, 'Sue', who has befriended us comes all the way from south Grand Rapids each Saturday. She has an apartment, but no family or community to encourage her. She has limited income for food. Her life has been full of trials, "with no way out" she says. We continue to encourage her to call on the Lord and not focus on her current trials. She continues to come back and share.

God has called Sue and I together. His reason is only known to Him, but He surely has a plan for us both. Week after week, I have felt so inadequate in this situation. This woman has cancer and countless other struggles. I have sat for hours with Sue in the ER, prayed with her, listened to her. Our family has done other things with her and for her, but I feel so helpless because I can't really do anything for her. She has to want to change and want to accept Christ. Her struggles are more spiritual than worldly.

Praying and listening in my weakness, I hear God's message...

"Amy, I know you feel inadequate here, but I didn't call you for your strength. YOU can't help her, but I can. Let MY STRENGTH and grace work through you to bring her to me."

Can I share with you that I am VERY uncomfortable with His mission with Sue? (or perhaps hers with me) I like to fix things. I like to see results. All I can do with Sue is listen and continue to point her toward Jesus - the only one who can rebuild her life and show her true love. LISTEN. Whether she accepts Him or not, I will continue to love her and be a friend. This is all I can do with everyone I meet.

O Lord, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

Each month we hear more stories of housing and jobs found. We hear words of hope and gratitude. God is always in hope and gratitude.

There are numerous other fruits that we will never see until Our Father reveals them in heaven.

Some people have faith that runs deep and sustains them in their life of homelessness, but they still get discouraged. Some are still searching for the true God. There are others who have fallen away from their faith and looking for guidance back. Still others whose image of our Lord has been warped by the world or by false teaching. When the Lord calls, are we willing to risk our comfortable lives for their souls? We may be the only contact they have with someone outside of their circumstances who says, "stay strong. You can do it."

We go downtown to serve and bring the love of Christ, though this is done more through our actions than words. Last week was a little different in that respect.

One gentleman, who I met last December, but haven't really had any lengthy conversations with, really wanted to talk about life, our Lord and share his faith. 'Billy' said he doesn't have anyone else with whom he can discuss the Bible. As soon as he starts, they walk the other way. I explained that because others know where he stands and WHO he stands for, he is still a witness to Christ, whether they walk away or not. Someday a brother may search him out to talk with him about our Lord. Then "Billy" will be the bridge where there was none before.

One of his favorite psalms is Psalm 37. It helps him through the waiting.

Each week, by the grace of our Lord Jesus, there is harmony, compassion and peace in the park. It may be short-lived or remain for the day or beyond within the brothers and sisters we meet. There are so many circumstances that seek to steal this peace from them - drugs, alcohol, worry, shame, fear...

Stay focused on the Lord...

The evil one doesn't like us bringing life into his territory, but we go without fear in the name of the Lord not looking at the deeds of those we meet because they have all been created in the image of God.

St. Peter proclaimed -"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."
-- 1 Peter 3

Please continue to pray for the many brothers and sisters in our community and throughout the world who are homeless and hungry. May we unite with Christ in our sufferings.

Pray for us who serve that we remain humble, obedient and open to God's will.

Pray for His abundance in donations and servers so we may continue this mission.

Pray and stay in the Word to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ who never fails us!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are We Really Being Honest About our Hunger?

This is an excellent post by Lilla Marie Lottinger, submitted here with her permission from

Lilla Marie Lottinger is a lay missionary living in the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. She works for the non-profit organization: Missionaries of Our Mother of the Eucharist. Her mission in the Church is to help foster a personal relationship with Jesus, our Eucharistic Bridegroom through Mary, the Spotless Bride.She is a columnist for the St. Charles Herald Guide. She can be contacted through her website:

What is your hunger? What is it for which you thirst? Let us be honest, be real with ourselves even if we feel ashamed, as though it is a disorder…

We must bring it to Jesus! Present it to Jesus in full light and truth. Share openly and vulnerably with Him. He longs for this.

And we will see that layers of our superficial and disordered longings begin to peel away, till we find at the core our true self, our deepest and truest longing which is for love — to be deeply known and loved by another to the core of who we are.

For this, my dear friends, is the deepest hunger and thirst that we all have — and with which we have all been created. Why?

Imagine a magnet, created to be drawn to and attached to metal. We are all created to be drawn to and attached to the love for which we were created -– Love Divine.

MANY THINGS we can feel drawn and attached to other than this love. They may have hints or even facades of this Love, but never on their own can they truly satisfy us.

Do we feel a restlessness or discontent, a desire for something more? If we take time to be really honest with ourselves, we cannot answer anything other than “yes.” … Unless, that is, we have already found the “pearl of great price” and sold everything else to buy it.

“My soul is not at rest until it rests in You my God!” St. Augustine prayed. “You were within and I was all the while looking outside.”

Yes, the answer to our hunger and thirst comes from within. It comes first from a true surrendering of our hearts and lives to our Creator; and then from allowing His redeeming, healing, consoling love to enter in.

Jesus died that we “might have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). He gives us the living waters of His love to quench our thirst, as He tells us, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:13).

His life-giving Spirit is the “water” for which we thirst; His true presence in the Eucharist is the “living bread” for which we hunger.

He truly fills and satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts if we but become like the woman at the well and ask, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst!” (Jn 4:15). And this we must do daily.

And then we will be responding to Isaiah’s plea, “Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of comfort” (Is 66:10). We will be saying with the psalmist, “As a weaned child in its mother’s arms, so my soul rests in you my God” (131:2).

“When you see this your hearts will rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass” (Is 66:14).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trials and Love

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only,what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Jewish people were handed some revolutionary teaching.
After being taught ‘an eye for an eye’, the Jews are now taught to turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute them!

We, too, are called to ‘be perfect just as our Heavenly Father is perfect.’
What does that mean?

In our worldly ways – perfection is mostly attributed to the physical – perfect face, perfect weight, and perfect hair. If everything is in place with our appearance, then our lives will be perfect!

It’s no wonder that those who are less than perfect physically would feel depressed and unloved when God is not the author of their identity.
When we allow God’s grace to create perfection in us, it is many times unseen by the world or met with persecution. The perfection of Christ within us radiates a peace that the world is unfamiliar with.
When we love our enemies and do good to those who curse us, God’s grace will rain down and bring about change. We may not ‘feel’ or ‘see’ the changes going on, but they are happening in God’s way and God’s time.

“God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust….”
Just because we live a virtuous life doesn’t mean we won’t suffer trials.

So many of the neighbors we meet in Veteran’s Park suffer quite obvious trials. Much of the world says these neighbors aren’t worth the extra effort to help because they won’t get anywhere anyway. Doing anything for them is such a small drop in the bucket. Why bother?
"Get behind me, Satan!" This is worldly thinking, not godly wisdom.

I must admit there are times when I take my focus off Jesus and wonder what good are we really doing serving lunch every Saturday in the park. The questions rattle around in my mind, searching for answers. I ask Jesus what He wants. Our Savior, True Love Himself says – “Love me. Love your neighbor from the depths of My love for you.”
Our human minds can cloud up this simple message from our Lord. I pray to let His love penetrate my heart beyond my doubts.

Of course, many of us also suffer trials that go unnoticed by the world because they are inner trials - addiction, anger, envy, etc... We know that these trials may be more difficult to overcome because if we look good on the outside, we can ignore the inside that only we see. The problem here is that others can still see our trials in our behavior. As Christians, we are called to reflect the light of Christ in our actions. Only our total dependence on Jesus Christ will allow us to do this.

"If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:17-18

How can we help our brothers and sisters in need today? Our answer comes in our relationship with Jesus -LOVE. Pray and discern how the Holy Spirit wants you to live out that love. "For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only,what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trust in the Lord...

Lord, give me the heart of a child and the courage to follow it.

My son and I were talking about what this means to be like a little child. I said that even as adults, we're called to be like little children. He turned to me with a puzzled look, so I asked him if he ever lies in bed at night worrying about how dad and mom are going to pay the bills or if he will have food to eat when he wakes up. He looked at me like I was crazy. "No. Why would I do that?" he bellowed.

"So that means you trust your parents to take care of you without wondering, right?"

"Yes, mom," he answered, rolling his eyes.

"Well, we're supposed to have this same child-like trust in our Heavenly Father with all our needs and desires. It's not always easy, but there's so much freedom in that trust."

Through the gift of faith, we are able to trust in Jesus and know that it is only in Him, with Him and through Him that we have anything or accomplish anything in life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

There are many who find it difficult to trust in other people, let alone trust in a God whom they cannot see.

As we go downtown each week to feed lunch to our homeless/jobless brothers and sisters, we ask our Lord to help us be a bridge to Him and from Him for those who have no one to trust in. We bring food for their physical hunger, though our hope is that they receive the love of Christ to fill their spiritual hunger.

Through the stories of some of the "regulars" I have been privileged to befriend, I have also learned how to detach myself from earthly things and trust more deeply in God.

There is a beautiful group of women who contribute periodically to this lunch mission on Saturdays. They give of their time, talents and treasures to provide nutritious lunches, prepared with great love. I leave you with some words that one of them shared this with me today.

Mother Theresa said “ It is harder to feed the hunger for love - than the hunger for bread” I’m helping by feeding with bread – but on Saturday your presence will be feeding their hunger for love. Together I pray that we bring peace to those we help and bring glory to His name. -Angela


Thursday, May 28, 2009

God's love is unconditional

I know I just wrote, but I had to share a message I heard recently.
While working with the poor and suffering, I am always touched by how God allows me to see His face in them and love unconditionally.
I am daily trying to live out this unconditional love within the walls of my own home - the biggest challenge and gift of all!

The other night I listened to a local priest, Fr. Joachim, speak about the dynamics of our relationship with God/Jesus Christ.
He was speaking about how much God loves us and that His immense love never changes. We can't do anything to earn more love or lessen the Father's love for us because God is Pure Love.

Along these lines, Father Joachim shared a powerful quote from Father Richard Rohr, OFM - "God doesn't love us if we change; He loves us so we can change."

Close your eyes and allow those Spirit-filled words settle in your heart.

In our world where so many base their identity on their accomplishments or the latest trends, these words really touched me.

Are we teaching our children that their identity comes from God? As Christians are we sharing this message of unconditional love with our brothers and sisters - especially those who are suffering?

Just some food for thought to chew on...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are you available?

"The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

It's been awhile since I've written on the blog - The well is dry lately.

My personal journal pages are filled with utterings and prayer, yet I don't feel I have much to share that's worth anyone's time. I believe that's right where God wants me - where He wants all of us. We should be completely dependent upon Him and not our own ability. Therein lies true faith.

When I don't know what's up ahead or can't find the answers, that's when Jesus can do His best work. Sure, He can and does work with me when I think I've given over everything but still have my hands on the wheel, but He wants me to take my hands off the wheel and let Him drive.

So many people that we meet living from one day to the next on the street or in the mission are walking by faith, depending on God. They say they have no other choice, but they do. Many exercise other choices through drinking, drugs, prostitution, etc... but our loving Father is so very close to them even in their suffering. He feels their pain. The body of Christ, His children, are supposed to be Jesus' hands and feet helping to ease our brothers and sisters burdens.

The most important way is through prayer. Of course, prayer calls us to love in action. We may do this through serving meals, providing clothes or hygiene items or offering a smile and a listening ear. In doing so, opportunities for evangelizing will present themselves.

Evangelizing doesn't mean we have to shove a Bible in their hands and start preaching. Yes, I have handed out Bibles and had in-depth conversations about the Lord with many brothers and sisters on the streets, invited them to ask Jesus into their hearts and taken them to church. But I never go downtown focused on talking about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is in charge. If he wants me to open my mouth to share the name of Jesus, then so be it. Many times I find the Spirit wants me to be like Jesus without mentioning His Name. When we serve Him, others see His reflection in us and ask questions.

St. Francis once said, "preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
My Catholic faith and the witness of the saints who walked in Jesus' footsteps have taught me more than anything how to live like this. Yes, the saints were sinners like the rest of us, but they spent much of their lives seeking after God's will with no cost to themselves. They spoke up when called upon, but many laid down their lives and shed their blood for Jesus.
I don't know about you, but reading about the apostles and the saints being martyred shows the Gospel message.

In the book of James, the author writes to the people saying, "be doers of the word and not hearers only." He also says, "be quick to hear and slow to speak..."
Oh, if I only followed this more in my earlier years! I've been told that God gave us TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason :-)

What is God saying to you today? How do we know when the words we hear within our from Him? Are they in line with Jesus' commandments and the teachings that He handed down to the apostles through His Church?

Each morning after saying good morning to Jesus, the first prayer on my lips is, "Lord, open my lips that I may sing Your praises. Give me ears to hear You and eyes to see Your goodness in all things." It's amazing the perspective He allows me when I focus on Him and forget myself.
On the other hand, it's very evident and sad for me and my family when I don't!

As I was praying over the weekend, the Lord spoke in my heart and said, "step aside and let Me take over. You are weary, rest in Me."

I gave my whole life over to Christ years ago, but I knew in my heart exactly what He was saying.
I can get cruising along following Him, but then I start trying to figure out what He wants.
Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Hmmm... what does this mean? I wonder if He is saying this or that? Sound familiar to anyone? Maybe I'm the only one who likes to know all the answers. That is a true weakness of mine, but the Lord has turned it into His strength because He showed me how tiring the "desire to know" can be or how I can trick myself into thinking I know the plan, which then puts "I" first instead of last.

There is so much freedom in humbling myself before God and saying - I DON'T KNOW, but YOU DO and that's good enough for me! The peace that pours out is serene. The Lord reveals His plan in His own time, not mine.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Praise Jesus for that!!

He calls. We answer. We step out into the abyss by faith. We listen more than we talk. A great place to do this is in Eucharistic Adoration. We can just be in His presence without an agenda.
He opens the doors when we hear with His ears and see with His eyes. When we don't know the way, He steps in and does miraculous work in our souls so we can go out and serve in His Name.

Those around us will know we are Christians by our love, as the song goes.

Evangelization will happen when we are going about the business of loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor with the love of Christ.

We may say, "what do I have to offer that Jesus really needs?
To quote Angus Buchan from the movie FAITH LIKE POTATOES, "God doesn't need our ability. He needs our availability."

Are we available to Him this week?

Our awesome Lord is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." All we have to do is be available to Him right where we are. He loves us because He created us in His image. Reflect that image in all you do.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your heart, your mind and on your lips today and always. Amen!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Opening our eyes to miracles

Every day our Lord Jesus Christ is working miracles right in front of our eyes. Do we believe?

By His grace, we can see the miracles. We only need to ask Him, in faith, to open our hearts and eyes. Lord, heal my brokenness that blinds me from seeing.

Here's where humility comes in again...

We know that before Christ Jesus healed the body, the person seeking to be healed had to step out in faith. So, they had admitted their sinfulness within their heart and believed in One greater than themselves. That's a difficult step for many of us. I know when confronted by my husband or another family member about my uncharitable behavior, I sometimes try to defend myself rather than admit my fault. When this happens, there's a period of unrest and disorder. God has shown me my sinfulness, yet I have chosen to be prideful and shut out His healing hand.

The times I do readily admit my faults are the times the Lord's peace immediately sets in and brings harmony to an otherwise negative situation. I know this doesn't qualify as a miracle, but there have been times my family would say, "Hey, it's a miracle! Amy admitted she was wrong!" ha ha

It is only by the grace of God that any of us can admit our sinfulness. Recognition of our shortcomings is a gift from the Lord. The day we stop recognizing is the day we're in big trouble.
Many in the world are in trouble, but the good news is that Christ's mercy is vast and neverending.

If so many don't have faith in miracles today, this may be the reason we don't see them as often. "...Jesus said to them, Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour. And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." (Matt. 13:57-58)

Every once in awhile the media spotlights a modern-day miracle like the "Miracle on the Hudson". The story spreads around the world for a few weeks, then dies down.
Was the miracle that the plane landed like it did on the river so hundreds of lives were saved or was the miracle that Jesus Christ saved lives and healed spiritual blindness?

Do you wonder if the miracle really has died down in the lives of those who were involved? We would have to contact those people to see how/if their lives have changed. Have they gone back to their usual routines or are their lives bearing fruit from Christ's saving grace? Isn't that the true outcome of a miracle?

In this story, the news media were praising the pilot. To be sure, he was chosen for this day by God, though he tried to remain humble amid the attention. How much praise were we giving to Jesus Christ - the real miracle worker? Can you imagine if the headlines the next day read - "JESUS CHRIST WORKS THROUGH PILOT ON THE HUDSON. HUNDREDS OF SOULS REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL" Whoa! See this article for a story that didn't make the mainstream media headlines.

Well, that was just the kind of "headline" that the disciples were proclaming after Pentecost. Some tried to praise the disciples, saying they were gods, but the disciples would have none of that.
"In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, Stand up on your feet! At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, The gods have come down to us in human form!
Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.
The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:
Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them."
Acts 14:8-15

What are the headlines we're proclaiming in our homes and communities?

Are we stepping out in faith to proclaim the healing power of the One True God, the Miracle Worker?

Recently, there was a chain of events downtown that led to someone's life being saved - literally.
Only God could have lined up the people involved to make this happen as we were all strangers weeks before. Some praised me for bringing to light the situation, but there was no way I could take credit. I just kept proclaiming the awesomeness of Jesus Christ and His hand in arranging everything. Of course, all the people involved had to step out in faith and play their parts.

There are numerous miracles like this in our lives every day. Lord, increase our faith so that we may see and believe in Your miraculous ways and zealously proclaim them to all!