It’s A Battle Out There Men. Fight!

 

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Real Christian men pick up their sword and their shield and go into battle daily. As a man of God, stepping outside your door is going into battle. Take a look at what society has deemed “acceptable” by today’s standards. I remember a time when if you heard the word “bitch” on television, it was scandalous. Now you hear so much more than that with the justification that it is on “cable TV” or that it is during “Prime Time” hours. There was a time when a long kiss on TV was “pushing the limits.” Now, people are having sex during “Prime Time” shows on cable TV. So yes, it’s a battle out there, a spiritual one where Satan is going to bombard you with everything he has in his arsenal.

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What is your downfall? Lust, pornography, drugs, alcohol, money, fame and notoriety, whatever it is, Satan knows and he will hurl those temptations at you like grenades. Will you be able to shield them off or will you fall victim to them? Will you stand and fight against them or will you cower like Adam in the Garden of Eden?

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It is time to kneel before the cross of our savior Jesus Christ and answer the call to Christian Manhood. Devote yourself to being that leader, protector, provider, priest, prophet and king that God has called you to be. You are a son of the most high God, an heir to heaven! Isn’t it time that you start acting like it! Isn’t it time that you start carrying yourself like it! When you hear the voice of the Lord say “Whom shall I send?” You should answer just like Isaiah, “Here I am! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Go out there and fight!

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And when your daily battle has ended, and you come home bloodied, bruised and tired, give thanks to God for getting you through this day. Wash yourself in prayer and spiritual reading and ponder on the things that you did right and wrong this day and make a vow to God that you will go out and do better tomorrow. Protect yourself, protect your family, protect the innocent so at the end of your war, you too will hear those words that we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

What Does It Take To Be A Man?

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If you haven’t noticed by now then you must be hiding under a rock or are turning a blind eye to the situation at hand….the emasculation of men. Everyone has their own opinion as to how and when it started but quite frankly, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is how to put an end to this nonsense and have men start being men again. I know what some of you are thinking, “Ok, John is about to go on a rant about feminism and how women have taken over, etc… and you couldn’t be further from the truth. This post is aimed at the core of the problem…men!

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Seriously men, think about it. We’ve allowed this to happen to us. Now part of it is our fault and part of it is that we were set up for failure right from the start. Case in point: Remember when the serpent came into the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve with the apple and out of nowhere Adam came in with this huge boulder and smashed the serpent, killing it dead right on the spot? Yeah, I don’t remember it that way either. Truth is that Adam stood by and watched the whole thing happen without saying or doing anything to the serpent. It is what I refer to as the “Adam moment.”

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How many “Adam moments” have you had in your life? If you are like me, I bet you’ve had a few. But don’t fret, there is a solution. What is that solution you ask? Well it goes back to the first question that I posed in the title. What does it take to be a man? It takes God. We are nothing without God! Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” That was the call from God to Jeremiah but it is also a call from God to us. There are so many messages from God to us if we just take the time to read his love letter to us, the Holy Bible. There are other ways that God calls out to us but we have to be quiet and alert but most importantly, we need to have a relationship with God. A relationship is only as strong as the time, effort and commitment that is put into it. Men need to build a relationship with God.

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I’m going to leave you with a few things to think and pray about.

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Check your ego and attitude at the door – I don’t care how big and bad you might think you are, you are no Jesus. Jesus Christ, the epitome of masculinity, the main role model a man should strive to be. John 19:1 “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.” I don’t care how many battles you have been through in life, you will never be as tough as Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” This verse right here men is the attitude that we should carry with us every day! Allow that verse to permeate into your soul and then go out and live it!

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Be a man – Before King David died, the first instruction to his son was: 1 Kings 2:2 “Be strong and be a man!” As I said before, I’m sure many of us have had a few “Adam moments” in our lives and this is how we can avoid them, by being strong and being a man. A Godly man will stand up for and defend what is right in the eyes of God. Here are a few examples. When you are “out with the guys” and they start talking about their past conquests with women, be strong and be a man, walk away or better yet, let them know that what they are doing is degrading to women and detrimental to their own souls. When a male friend texts you a picture of a nude woman, be strong and be a man. Delete that text right away and let that man know that you do not approve of his actions and if you want to send more of a message, attach a photo of Our Blessed Mother with a copy of the Act of Contrition for them to say.

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Go to confession – The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (CCC 1457) If you think that you can get away with going to confession once a year, you are sadly mistaken. That is like playing Russian roulette with 5 bullets in the chamber. James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another.” Without getting into the Theology of this verse (That is for another day), the apostles (by todays accounts) were the ordained of their time and could therefore confess their sins to each other. In other words, get to your local Church and confess your sins to the priest who is In Persona Cristi at that moment. Humble yourself before the Lord. Do not be afraid to go, the priest is there to help and guide you. If it has been a long time since you’ve been to confession, then make an appointment to see your priest and he will take the time that you need and help you get through it to make a good confession.

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Build each other up – Look at the world today and how it views men. All you have to do is look at commercials on TV. We are told that we are too old, too fat, impotent, lazy and that we can’t even order a pizza.

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1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.” There is no room in this world for knocking each other down. We should be praying for each other and encouraging each other as the verse says. You don’t kick a man when he is down! Lift him up, even if he is your enemy, lift him up, dust him off and allow him to see Jesus through you. Remember, Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

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Push aside jealousy and envy – I don’t know when this all came about but all of a sudden it seems like men are more concerned about what they don’t have instead of being thankful for what they do have and if you have more than them, they have no problem letting you know by making snide remarks. Exodus 20:16-17 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” When you are focused on what others have you are not giving thanks for what God has provided you with. Instead of making insulting jealous or envious remarks, give that person praise instead. A simple “God has truly blessed you my friend. You deserve it” goes a lot farther than “Oh a new car! Must be nice to have a new car all the time!”

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Lastly, Stop complaining and give thanksPhilippians 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or questioning.” Everybody is guilty of this one to one extent or another. It’s hard not to complain, look at the state of the world right? Yes, the state of the world can be bleak at times, sometimes more often than not but, we need to hold ourselves up as men and be that leader that our families are looking for. If our children hear us complain, guaranteed they will do the same. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” As much as there is bad in the world, there is equally if not more good in the world, we just need to take our blinders off so that we can see it. All good comes from God right? Then go out there, search out the good in the world and tell everyone about it.

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These are just a few things to get you started on the path to becoming the man that God has created you to be. I’m sure that if you sit down and think about it, you can probably come up with a few others as well. May God continue to bless you in your journey. Buen Camino.

Lost In Translation

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There is a parable in the bible that I love and hate and that is the parable of the Wedding Feast from Matthew 22:1-14. The reason that I love it, is the message that it conveys about salvation and our choice in it. The reason that I hate it, priests use it as an opportunity to talk about “dress code” in their Church.

Last Sunday we heard this gospel and as I sat there in my chair listening to the homily, praying that this would be a different one that would stick to the readings of the day, I was sadly disappointed again. The priest started off well but went right into “dress code.” I don’t mind if a priest wants to push his personal agenda on his congregation but, do it afterwards or at another time, don’t use the gospel to relay a personal message or a pet peeve that you have otherwise the message of the gospel gets lost in translation.

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If there is one thing that I’ve learned so far in my diaconate journey it is not to push a personal agenda. We haven’t formally begun to study homiletics yet but with the little bit that we are being introduced to, we have been instructed on what will make or break a good homily or reflection.

One of the previous priests from my last parish assumed just because I was a small business owner, I could afford to buy a suit or come dressed to Church in a suit. Most people that know me know that I dress simple. I like jeans and t-shirts and cowboy boots. For Mass though, I have a brand new pair of Wranglers that are pressed and used only for Mass and I were a nice western style button up shirt, shined cowboy boots but no tie. In the summer, it’s more of a clean pair of jeans or Dockers and a Hawaiian style shirt. I dress what I would consider, appropriately.

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Let’s be honest, do you really think that if Jesus Christ came down at that moment that he would kick me out of the Church because I could “afford” to dress up dressier? Do you think he’d toss everyone out that was dressed in jeans and t-shirts? I seriously don’t think that he would. Now is that to say that I’ve never worn a suit to Church? Of course I have but, it was during a time that I felt was appropriate for the attire, a special Mass, a special event in Church, etc… but I would never push that on anyone. I think Jesus is more concerned about people coming to Mass than he is with what they are wearing.

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This is part of the “poor catechizing” that I talk about, especially in the area where I live. I’m not sure how it is where you live but where I’m from, in my opinion, our local area has been poorly catechized for a few decades in most, if not all of the parishes here. As priest, deacons and soon to be deacons, we have a responsibility not only to our parish and our diocese but primarily to God that we will go out and profess His message and not ours. Save your pet peeves and personal agendas for another time or do as our Blessed Mother Mary did and hold them silently in your hearts and pray on them. Or you can continue to preach from the gospel of Father/Deacon (fill in the blank) and continue to wonder why parishioners are leaving your parish or the Catholic Church. Stick to the script and let God take care of the rest.

Hope For A Hopeless Nation

 

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Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how much we have been trained to hate and despise each other? Some might say that I am crazy and that it is only a select few who hate each other but I beg to differ. Can you honestly say that there is nobody, no group of individuals, no organization, no politician, etc… that you hate or despise? If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure your answer will be no, there is somebody or something that you hate or despise.

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Hate is nothing new, it has been there from the beginning. Satan hated God so much that he would do anything do destroy what God created as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). When hate goes unchecked it can turn into envy which can lead to death as in the story of Cain and Able (Genesis 4). Was this the case with the young man who plowed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville Virginia killing a young lady in the process? We knew he hated or despised the protesters that he plowed into or he wouldn’t have done so. Did he have some sort of distorted view of these individuals? Maybe he thought that they had more than him due to their ethnicity? Maybe he thought they were just a bunch of liberals who needed to be taught a lesson? I’m sure in the days to come there may be some answers but in the meantime, there is the life of a young lady that has been lost and the countless lives of family members, friends and a nation who mourn for her.

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Are we that far gone as a nation now that all we see is color, political parties and ethnicity that we can’t move forward? No! There is hope and that hope is found in Jesus Christ. Is it really that hard for you to put aside your differences of opinion and say “I love you?” Jesus Christ didn’t ask us to love each other, he commanded that we love each other. John 13:34 – I give you a new commandment:  love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. Love! There are so many instances of it in the bible yet so few Christians show it. How can you consider yourself to be Christian if you do not love? Matthew 5:43-48 “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. Pray for your enemies!

 

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If we want change, true change in this sinful world, then we must be that change. Nobody is born with prejudices, it is something we learn. We must come together not only as Americans but as children of God for that is who we are.

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So today, go out and find someone who you’ve had a disagreement with, politically, personally or whatever the reason and tell them that you love them. Ignore the main stream media who in my opinion, feeds the masses the food of hate and lies and biases as they continue to pit us against each other. Love overcomes hate. We’ve seen it on the cross when Jesus Christ died for us…Love overcame hate. Will you do your part to overcome hate?

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom. Take Care.

 

 

 

Me? Why Me?

 

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All of us are on a journey of some sort. Some people know what that journey is and some people don’t have a clue but, they go with the flow. Which category do you fall into?

If you are on a spiritual journey, then there is no doubt that God is leading you where he needs you but, you must be open to what it is He wants from you and you must be ready to reply “Here I am Lord” when He calls. Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am” I said; “Send me!”

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Whether you know it or not, you have been chosen by God and you have been called by His Son Jesus Christ to go out and make disciples of all. Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” But there is something else that God gave you and that is “free will.” It is completely up to you if you choose to hear and answer Him.

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You might be asking yourself, “why me?” Why you? Because you were made for this. That was Gods plan all along and He sent His Son to prepare you for this. Just as in the story of The Vine and the Branches, Jesus has been pruning you, getting rid of the junk so that you can go out and bear good fruit. John 15:16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.

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So go out, be strong and have courage because God is with you, Jesus is with you and they are counting on you to go out and be that living example for others, to be that light shining in a dark world, to be a disciple. Joshua 1:9 Be strong and steadfast! Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.

May God continue to bless you and all that you do for His Kingdom! Viva Cristo Rey!

 

I Like to Smile

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Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I don’t smile a lot or at least I never used to smile a lot. Lately though, I’ve been finding quite a few times when I just smile. When I smile, I feel happy, I feel like I’m at peace. Coming off of our last diaconate formation where we had a one day retreat, I was smiling and truly happy. I was at peace. I then went on to the Long Ride Home shoot and the smiling continued and the peace grew. And then, I returned home and started to notice the things that were stealing my peace.

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John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes peace isn’t the easiest thing to find. Most of the time it is because we have to find that peace within ourselves. In such a fast paced world we tend to be stressed out with all of the things going on in our lives and what peace we have within us tends to dissipate without us even knowing. A lot of times, it is the things of the world that distract us from the true happiness and that true happiness is in Jesus Christ. For a person with depression, it’s even harder. I have bouts of depression just like most people but I’m talking about those who suffer with it daily. I know some of these people and I see the struggles that they go though. To those people I say this, “Jesus loves you! I may not know what you are feeling or understand completely but Jesus does and He loves you. Let him just hold you, embrace you and love you.” Know that I and many others are praying for you all.

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In my business I get to see a lot of people daily. Some of them I see multiple times in a year because of my business. Most of them are really nice people but there are some that no matter what, they never smile. I have one in particular who I had recently and this person just doesn’t smile at all. I knew who this person even before I started my business and even then, no smile. I used to think, “man that must suck to have a life that bad that you can’t smile, say thank you, respond to have a nice day, etc, etc…..” but now I think, “how sad.” Maybe he has a good reason not to smile and be grouchy all the time but I really don’t understand how a person could go through life that way. To me, that’s no life at all.

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Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

At some point in your life, I’m sure you too have discovered that “grumpy” person. Don’t allow that person to take away your peace or set your mood. You continue to smile and go about your day as nothing is wrong.  If you are the person walking around always grumpy, then you need to make a self evaluation of why you are this way. I know because I had to do that and I still have to do it every once in a while. I’m in the middle of doing one of those self evaluations right now and I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will guide me in the right direction.

May God continue to bless you all and all that you do for His Kingdom! Viva Cristo Rey!

It’s a God thing

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Ever have one of those days where your run into the right person at the right time? That happened to me this morning. It’s a God thing.

I ran into one of my Cursillo brothers and we got to talking about so many things. We hadn’t seen each other since my Cursillo so we had some catching up to do. We got into some deep conversation about Christianity, more specifically about male spirituality.

He had a couple of employees with him and we got to talking about how I’ve been involved with the Catholic Men’s Movement in our area but how I’ve gotten to the point of being burnt out! I was curious how they felt about it so I posed the question, “What would you like to see in a Catholic Men’s Group?”

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Their answers blew me away! One of them mentioned that he would like to see more men come together as Christians and set denominations aside. He mentioned how he was involved in a group similar to that but he would like to see Catholic men embrace that and their fellow Christian brothers. The next one told me that he loved the prior man’s idea but he’d like to expand on it by having men go out into the forest for masculine activities out there with a spiritual twist. He also mentioned that one of the things that he found troubling about the Cursillo movement was the fact that it is “Catholic Only.” I told him that I agreed with him. All of us agreed that placing the “Catholics Only” label on groups, organizations, clubs, etc… is actually more detrimental to the faith than it is helpful. It limits your ability to evangelize when you place a label on it. “It’s an amazing experience and it is awesome how you can experience the Holy Spirit but, you can’t do this unless you are Catholic.” Maybe it’s just me but it doesn’t sound very Christian does it?

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It’s a God thing. If you get it….you get it. We all agreed that we’d love to see a Christian Brotherhood emerge out of our meeting this morning and through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, it will happen. In all that we do, we do for the glory of God 1Cor 10:31. We are brothers and sisters and children of God…isn’t it about time we start acting like it and not like a dysfunctional family. We are called to be like Christ in all that we do. How can we call ourselves “Christians” if we are going throughout our day condemning people for not being Catholic or making radical claims that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we believe that our Church, the Catholic Church is the one true faith and we are to do our best as Christians to evangelize that faith and not twist it to fit what we interpret it as.

Well, that’s all for today folks. It’s been a great Holy Spirit filled day Praise Jesus alleluia!!! May God continue to bless you and all that you do to further His Kingdom.

Viva Cristo Rey!