How Can You Make Christ Known?

I read this very inspiring story from the Catholic Herald today: “Pilgrim walks 1,800 miles to Rio ‘to show people that God is alive.” Fabio Matues, a Catholic pilgrim from Brazil walked 1,800 miles from his home to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day with aims of making Jesus known to others. Walking past over 70 cities and towns, his journey was not an easy one with many nights spent sleeping in his hammock up between trees or along the roadside. After hearing this story it made me think how can I do something similar. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but how can you make Christ known?

With his endeavor catching the media’s attention, he sure was able to make an impact on the whole world and not only to the people he met in his journey.

Can you make the same sacrifice that this man did? Would you be willing to leave your work and family for months so you could evangelize for Christ? Are you taking part in sharing the good news to the world? There are many small yet significant ways you and I can evangelize to others. There are a lot of people in our community that need to hear about the love and grace of Jesus.

Take this day to think about the ways you can take part in the sharing of the Gospel. How can you make Christ known to more people?

Being a Follower of Christ is Not Easy

Today I read a post titled, 10 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Become Catholic and it reminded me that it is not easy being a follower of Christ in this day and age. However, the hardships do not end as soon as you enter the fold of the Catholic Church as a matter of fact,  things often become even more difficult after we come to accept Jesus Christ and his teachings.

If you would recall, following Christ was never easy–it was not easy 2,000 years ago and it is not easy today. The early Christians were persecuted, mocked and killed. Jesus never promised us that life as a Christian would be easy. He even left us this message before he went back to Heaven after his resurrection, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)”

Following Christ as a faithful Catholic is not easy, however I would say that my Catholic faith is one of my most precious possessions. Being a follower of Christ is a beautiful gift.

Let me share with you this poem, I have read from one poetry page sometime ago (credits to the author):

It’s not easy being a Christian
In a world so full of sin,
When lust and greed and hatefulness
Are worse than they’ve ever been.

It’s not easy being a child of God
In a world where he is scorned,
Where the Bible is considered fiction
And babies are killed before they’re born.

It’s not easy being a Christian
And turning the other cheek,
Not easy to stand and be laughed at
While remaining quiet and meek.

It’s not easy to forgive someone
For injuries done to you,
It’s not easy stilling the bitterness
To remain a Christian true.

It’s not easy keeping faith intact
When troubles plague your soul,
It’s not easy keeping God in sight
When heartaches take their toll.

It’s not easy to hold Love in your heart
For each person that you see,
To remember that Jesus died on that cross
Because he Loved both you and me.

No, it’s not easy being a Christian
In a world where morals are increasingly tossed,
But at the end of the day, when Christ takes me away
The rewards will far outweigh the cost.

-Calvin Hart

Why the Death of Christ Matters

Why is the death of Jesus Christ significant? The post this morning from “The Blaze,” called, “Does Jesus’ Death Really Matters?” made me ponder upon this very question.

Every year we celebrate Easter–in commemoration of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, but have we actually thought about the reason why Jesus–the Son of God–had to to experience death?

To answer the question it is imperative that we remember Adam and Eve and their disobedience to God. Our first parents were destined to live with God forever, but when they disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, they received death as a punishment–as well as every human being born from them.

While our God is a loving and merciful God, he is also just and true to his words. God’s holiness and justice demand that sin be punished through death. This is exactly why Jesus Christ had to die. He stood as the entire human race’s atoning sacrifice. The spotless and pure Son of God was the only one qualified to complete and everlasting sacrifice to remove, atone, and make eternal payment for our sin–so he did. Now, we all have a chance at attaining life eternal.

As it says it Romans 5:21, “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Yes, Christ is risen! Hallelujah!

The Ultimate Sacrifice Made for Us

I read a post today that reminded me of how much easier it is for me to ask forgiveness for my sins compared to the Israelites of olden times. The post is titled, A Whole Lot of Offerings and it talks about God’s instructions to the Israelites about what do when they sinned. Specifically, it is centered on Leviticus 5:5-7 which says, “So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from he flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin. But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord his guilt offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering…”

 The children of God in the time of Moses had to to offer sacrificial animals as atonement for their sins. God required sacrifice for the Israelites in order to remind them of their shortcomings, show them the penalty of sin and ultimately relieve them of the guilt of their sins. Imagine how difficult and awful it must be to bring an animal into church for sacrifice.

Today we no longer have to do such acts and go through such a horrible experiences because Christ has already made the ultimate sacrifice–his death fulfilled all the needs outlined in the Leviticus guidelines. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was a substitution and atonement for ALL sin. So when we sin, we must remember that Christ has died to save us from the horrible penalty of sin. Let us not crucify him again and devalue his sacrifice by revisiting our old sins over and over again.

Strengthening Our Relationship With Christ

I believe that every Christian in this world is aware of the fact that Jesus Christ came to earth to give mankind salvation. However, only a few Christians understand that not only did Jesus take the punishment for our sins but also allows us to be worthy to have a personal, intimate, living, relationship with the Father.

God wants us to have a close relationship with him so that we can become one with him–take on his character and live like him and with him in heaven when the time comes. It is intimacy with the Lord that will make it possible for us to grow into his image and repel our evil tendencies and the darkness of this world.

Yes the gift of salvation is free but it is up to us to accept or reject this precious present of eternal life. Making the decision to accept Jesus as our Savior means choosing to walk in the path of intimacy with our Heavenly Father.

God does not want us–his children–to get lost in this world of sin and lose sight of our real home. If we do not want to be sinners, we must constantly work on strengthening our relationship with our Lord. If you think you need some help, you will find great tips in this post: Growing in Faith – Practical Suggestions for Thriving Relationship.

Finding Meaning in Suffering

There have been a few moments in my life that made me ask this question, “Why does God allow good people to suffer?” My faith is unwavering in the fact that God can do something to help those who suffer, but I often get lost in the motions of trying to figure out why God in His great power permits His most faithful children to experience pain and suffering. I believe that you may have found yourself in this kind of confusion at one point in your life.

Today, a blog reading somehow made me feel ashamed of my questioning attitude. The message from Deacon Dave Wadle–a committed Catholic Deacon and a faithful servant of the Lord who suffered from a rare and incurable cancer called mantle cell lymphoma. He was diagnosed of the disease in 2008 and died in 2012. In his message entitled Faith and My Cross, he shared just how humbling and meaningful suffering can be. One of my favorite lines in his message was this, “How blest we are as Catholics to know that our suffering is not meaningless if united to the suffering of Christ.”

This message lead me to reflect in this passage from II Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Keeping Christ in Christmas: How You Can Help

I have posted a pretty good amount recently about keeping Christmas based on the birth of Jesus. Keeping the Christ in Christmas is an important thing to focus on obviously. I have had some conversations with my fellow blogger Janet, who writes the more parenting centered posts here. Her and I agree that when you have young children it is even harder to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. This is because they probably go to school and have friends whose parents don’t keep that as the focus. The idea of Santa Claus and presents is much more enticing to a six year old than Jesus and the story of his birth. If you can get your children to focus on Jesus for even a little bit during the Advent and Christmas season, then you are doing a good job.

I read a story yesterday that I thought was really cool, and totally in line with the keeping Christ in Christmas line of thought. A mom bought a tree topper ornament that was Santa and turned it into Saint Nicholas instead. This decoration makeover was simple and easy, you should read about it! It was a thoughtful and really cool idea that I felt was worth sharing.

Learning to Forgive Others and Yourself

I read a very inspiring post today about forgiveness and its importance to many aspects of life. The post was featured on a site called Rediscovering Catholicism and is titled, “Forgiving Yourself and Others”. The author starts off by talking of how we must forgive others as God forgives us. This means fully and entirely without holding any grudges or dwelling on what happened. This is difficult to do and a struggle in itself, however it is not where forgiveness ends. We must be able to forgive ourselves for what we have done wrong. This might sound silly, but a lot of people have a hard time letting go and moving on when they have done wrong.

Nobody is a lost cause because God is always willing to forgive your sins. It might be hard to forgive a friend, family member, or yourself for wrongs you have done in your life. This is something we must all learn to accomplish though. Mistakes will be made along the way, but that is not a problem. God will always forgive you.

What Has Changed in Catholic Culture?

I read a post today about the restoration of Catholic culture, which began with a quote from Pope John Paul II. “A faith that fails to become a culture is not an authentic faith.” The post went on to talk about how Catholicism has become less of a culture in America recently. America’s culture has become based around greed, money, and a lot of atheism.

The main issue that this post pointed out was the urban lifestyle that so many city dwellers have taken up. However, I see this as a challenge. The challenge is to strengthen our faith enough to change our environment, not the other way around. I don’t see the problem as the city lifestyle, but the lifestyle of people in general. The best thing you can do to change this is to live your life in a way that Christ would approve of. Hopefully your good actions will have an effect on others.

How Christmas Has Been Turned Into the Generic “Winter Holiday”

So for the sake of consumerism Christmas has been turned in the generic “winter holiday”. Hooray…wait what are we celebrating for again? It seems like there is a lack of reasoning behind Christmas if it isn’t about the birth of Christ anymore. Are we celebrating winter? That’s a depressing thought. Are we celebrating our families? Nope, that’s Thanksgiving. It’s gotta be the Winter Solstice right? Buying presents because of the shortest day of the year sounds like a stretch.

I read a post on Young, Evangelical, and Catholic today called, “Why losing the War on Christmas is great for the Church (but bad for business)”. It opened my eyes to how generic and stripped down Christmas has become lately. In my eyes the only inspiring way to view Christmas is as the celebration of Christ’s birth, but hey that’s just me.