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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Follow Me

follow-me

 

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 8:22

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 9:9

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Matthew 10:38

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Matthew 19:21

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 14:27

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

John 1:43

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

I think Jesus makes it obvious that He wants us to follow Him. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? Does it mean, going to church on Sundays, praying occasionally and being a generally good person? Many people believe that this is exactly what following Jesus is all about. Sometimes, I wish it were that easy. There are two reasons that people find it hard to follow Jesus: they don’t really understand what following Jesus requires or they don’t really want to make the sacrifice that being a true disciple requires. Jesus says in Luke 14:27 that if we do not carry our cross and follow Him then we CANNOT be His disciple. I WANT to be a disciple! I don’t want to live without Jesus. How then do we follow Him? Below I give 4 ways to follow Jesus that have helped me in my journey of following Him:

  1. Prayer: Prayer is a two way conversation with God. When we pray, we share the good and the bad in our lives with Him. We also, open our hearts to listen to what God has to say. When we keep our hearts open and keep the conversation going, we allow Jesus to abide in us, and when that happens we want nothing more than to follow Him all the days of our lives.
  2. Digging into God’s word: When we dig into the Bible, we can feel the Holy Spirit breathing life into our lives. We learn about Jesus, but most importantly, we learn how to follow Jesus. We learn what it means to be a Christian. When we read the Bible, something magical happens. It transforms our lives. The words sink into our hearts and our souls and we become disciples of Jesus.
  3. Sacrifice: To follow Jesus, scripture says that we must deny ourselves. That means that we must put the will of God before our own. Scripture says that we are not to be of the world. 1 John 2:15 says not to love anything in the world. We get so caught up in worldly things that we forget Jesus. Jesus said that we must sell our possessions and give to the poor. I believe that Jesus is asking us to live simple lives, so that we will be able to give to those in need. I also, believe that Jesus wants us to live simply so we remember that He is the most important thing. We may be asked to leave our families, our homes, our livelihoods in order to follow Jesus. Jesus, Himself had no home. What is Jesus asking you to sacrifice in order to follow Him?
  4. Obedience: In order to follow Jesus, we must obey Him, no matter the cost. Obedience is hard. We want to live one way, but Jesus is calling us to live a completely different way. If we want to follow Jesus, we MUST obey what He says. There are times when Jesus may call us into a lifestyle that we would never think of to fulfill His purpose. Be willing to obey.

In my own life, Jesus has called me to follow Him in this season of my life as a single woman. I knew a few years after my divorce in 2000 that I was meant to be single. I have had some well intentioned shoves to meet someone, but I am meant to be single. I felt confirmation in that calling about 3 months ago when I read that according to the Catholic Church, being single can be a vocation. YES!!! I knew it! Not everyone is meant to be married. There are those of us who feel called to follow Jesus as single men and women. Along with prayer and studying the Bible, I follow Jesus through celibacy, living a simple life, and writing this blog. As a Providence Associate I am called to living a life of Love, Mercy, and Justice in my sphere of influence. My relationship with Jesus is my EVERYTHING! There is nothing more important than Jesus. There can’t be if we choose to be His followers.

CHALLENGE: Are you a follower of Jesus? How do you know? In what ways are you an example of a disciple of Jesus? I am challenging you to take a long hard look at your christian walk and write down the ways that you are following Jesus. Do you need to make any changes? Do you need to become less worldly? Do you need to simplify your life? Do you need to pray more? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in becoming a disciple of Jesus that is willing to take up his/her cross and will immediately be willing to sacrifice everything when Jesus says, “Follow Me.” 

Jesus is calling you NOW to follow Him. He wants your heart. He wants your sacrifice. He wants your obedience. Are you willing to walk away from the world in order to follow Him today?

 

 

 

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I emailed my letter of intent, stating that I want to continue in my journey of becoming a Providence Associate. The picture above is a beautiful path that can be found right outside the door of my workplace. It is the path I often take, at the end of a long day, to get to my car. I never fail to feel the stress of the day wash away as the peace of this magical place fills my heart and revives my soul. Along this path is where I have contemplated my purpose in becoming a Providence Associate. I have named it my Path of Intentions.

What are my intentions? I have thought and prayed about this. I know that my intentions are to grow closer in prayer, ministry and personal relationships to these women that I have grown to love. I don’t know yet how that will play out. I don’t know how God will interweave my life into the fabric that is the history and legacy of a congregation of women who are strong, courageous, intelligent, and filled with faith, love, mercy and justice. I don’t know how God will use me as an Associate. I don’t even know if I am worthy of the role. I do know one thing:

 

This journey must lead me closer to Jesus. Just as this statue of my Savior is found at the end of my Path of Intentions, this journey with the Sisters of Providence must lead me closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I am looking forward to serving the Sisters and others with love, mercy and justice.

 

 

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love mercy

 

Luke 13:10-13

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Pope Francis has proclaimed the time between December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016 as the Year Of Mercy. This should be a time for us to step outside of our comfort zones to minister to those in need. This should be a time for us to open our eyes to those who are living lives of quiet desperation in our own spheres of influence and do something to help alleviate their suffering.

In Luke 13:10-13, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, when He noticed a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She could not straighten up at all. Jesus saw her. He noticed her need and did something to help her. He healed her. Jesus didn’t ignore her condition. He didn’t tell her to go away. He had mercy on her and healed her.

I am blessed to work at the Mother house of the Sisters of Providence. Over the 175 years that the Sisters of Providence have been here, they have founded and been a part of many ministries of mercy. Collectively, they have taught me the meaning of mercy in their humble service to those in need in our community.

In the Spring 2016 issue of Hope magazine (a magazine of the Sisters of Providence), there is an article about Father Dan Hopcus (Providence Associate and Priest Chaplain of the Sisters of Providence). Father Dan exemplifies kindness and mercy in his ministry to the elderly Sisters and the residents in Providence Healthcare. There is a quote in the article that really speaks to the heart of what mercy is,

“As Pope Francis has spoken so many times, at least the way I understand it, mercy is shown by reaching out to people where they are and not waiting for them to come to you. So in a way, it is to be alert to the needs of someone. The need to be loved, to be accepted, to be important. I think Pope Francis’ approach to a year of mercy has again called people to be more aware, more alert, to that.” Father Dan Hopcus.

Jesus gives us the example of reaching out to those in need. He never sat in one place and waited for the suffering to come to Him. He went to those in need. His eyes were open to the suffering around Him and He acted to help those in need.

We need to take a lesson from Jesus, Father Dan and the Sisters to go out and meet those who are hurting right where they are. We have numerous opportunities in our daily lives to minister to others and we don’t. We are either to busy, to tired, or have a million other excuses to keep us from showing mercy to someone else. I know life gets crazy. I’ve given those excuses myself. I’ve had a hard time making the sacrifice myself. But, if we are to be examples of Jesus to this world, we need to quit making excuses and start making sacrifices. We need to get off our rear ends and start loving people to Jesus. We need to start being examples of Jesus to the hurting of this world.

A Challenge: I challenge you to keep your eyes and heart open as you go about your daily tasks. I want you to step out and meet the need of one person a day for the next week. I challenge you to show mercy to those in your sphere of influence and love others to Jesus.

 

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Beacon Of Hope

beacon of hope

 

I am tossed about on the seas of turmoil

Waves are crashing upon my head.

I am lost in the raging storm

Afraid that I may drown.

A light,

In the distance,

A ray of hope,

Deliverance.

You are my light, Jesus.

You are my hope.

When I’m drowning in the seas of life,

and can’t come up for air,

Jesus,

Jesus,

Your name is everything.

When I’m drowning in life’s struggles,

You are my beacon of hope.

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Jesus in the hood

John 1:14 (The Message)

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.

I have just finished reading this AWESOME book called, Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary, written by Greg Finke. It is a must read for any Christian who wants to join with Jesus in His mission, right now, right where you are.

In recent years America has become the largest mission field in the world. This country that I love has been gradually turning away from God and turning, instead to money, materialism, consumerism, and a me, me, me attitude. We feed our hearts and our minds, not on the things of God, but of the latest blockbuster that Hollywood throws at us. Unfortunately, American Christians are no better. We dream of building the largest churches that anyone has ever seen, but we waste millions of dollars in the process. We dream of having so many converts and baptisms that it takes hours to baptize them all, but we forget to disciple them in their everyday lives. We dream of having so many programs to entertain and feed those inside our church walls, but we forget about those suffering in our communities.

If Jesus were walking among us now, would He like what He sees in this land of plenty?

Matthew 25:34-40

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

NEWS FLASH FRIENDS: JESUS IS HERE!!!

Jesus is here, walking among us. He is the homeless man that sleeps on the street. He is the foster child that needs a home. He is the single mom that needs help to feed her kids. He is the stranger at the checkout line that doesn’t have enough money to pay. He is the teenage girl who is scared to death to tell her parents that she is pregnant. He is the inmate on death row. He is your neighbor that is down on his luck and needs someone to talk to. Jesus IS here and He walks among us EVERY DAY!

In his book Joining Jesus on His Mission, Greg Finke gives us practical suggestions on how to be everyday missionaries in our neighborhoods (work, school, community, etc.). He reminds us that “we are the presence of Jesus made tangible in our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and schools.” God has called us, as Christians to “Go! And make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). That doesn’t mean that we need to pack our bags and move to Africa or some other far off place. It simply means to be present in your sphere of influence. Look for opportunities that God is giving you right now to touch someone and let them know that God loves them. There is no reason why America should be the largest mission field in the world. We have plenty of missionaries, in every community of the U.S.A. Greg Finke gives us 5 mission practices that will help us, as christians, live out our calling to be every day missionaries in our communities:

1. Seeking the Kingdom- Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God. What is Jesus showing us in our communities? What is He inviting us to notice and do? Be aware of those around you and be open to the opportunities that God may be giving you as you go about your day to love someone to Jesus.

2. Hearing from Jesus- In Matthew 17:5 God tells us, “This is my Son, whom I love…Listen to him!” We need to listen to what Jesus is telling us through the Word of God. Do we know Jesus well enough to know what He is telling us? Dig into the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and take some time to really understand what Jesus asks of us. Allow the Holy Spirit to move you from simply hearing the words to finding out what happens when we put them into practice. Listen!

3. Talking with People- Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” once said that, “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.” You can’t find out a person’s story unless you talk to them. I know this is hard for some introverts. I am an introvert, so the concept of reaching out to people and striking up a conversation is a tough one for me. It is what God calls us to do, though. He calls each of us to build relationships and TALK to each other. Get to know a person’s story before you judge him or her. Reach out in love and compassion to your neighbors. Find out who they really are. You might be surprised by what you find out.

4. Doing Good- Mother Teresa was known for saying that, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” People call them “random acts of kindness”, but I prefer to call them “intentional acts of love.” We are to love our neighbors through acts of love. A kind word, a meal to a sick neighbor, mowing the lawn of an elderly person, or simply sending an encouraging word in a card or letter. People respond to love. It may take some time to build relationships to the point of introducing Jesus, but never give up. Keep loving on that hard to love neighbor and you will find that Jesus is in the ‘hood.

5. Ministering through Prayer- I will admit that praying out loud for someone is a very difficult thing for me and I have missed God-given opportunities to be Jesus to someone because I let my fear take over. People will usually accept the opportunity to have someone pray for/with them. Praying with someone bonds us to them in a way that little else can. We have become active participants in their circumstances. We are in a position to give a person hope through a simple prayer. Never underestimate the power of praying with a person over their circumstances.

I am challenging every christian to read this book, Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary, written by Greg Finke. It will change how you look at missionaries and the mission field. We are ALL called to be missionaries in our own lives. Make this book a part of a small group study. To order the book, click here.

Jesus isn’t locked up in the heavens. He is here, dwelling among us in the ‘hood. We are the tangible presence of Jesus to those around us. Never forget how you can impact someone’s life for the good or bad. Choose to be Jesus in your neighborhood and see how God will manifest Himself,  simply because you stepped out in obedience.

 

 

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Baby Jesus

 

This last weekend saw the kick-off of the Christmas season. It started with Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. It continued with Small Business Saturday and ended with Cyber Monday. The purpose of each of these days is to reinforce commercialism and consumerism in what should be a sacred time of year. Christmas has become a stress-filled, frantic time of year when people spiral into debt and depression. It isn’t supposed to be this way. It was NEVER supposed to be this way! I admit that in the past years I have stressed over not having enough money to buy my kids “enough”. Ultimately, within a week, the gifts would be lost, broken or forgotten. Buried in a corner, like what most of us do to Jesus, the reason we have a Christmas at all.

I decided this year would be different for me. I am buying each of my kids a gift I know they will use and enjoy. I have put up a simple tree. I am not worried about buying a huge amount of gifts for my kids. It isn’t about what we get. It is about what we can give. Jesus gave us the gift of all gifts, His life. Let’s honor Him this season and give to those who may not have a Christmas at all. There are homeless men, women and children in our own cities that will not have Christmas because of poverty. There are children living in the foster care system, who will not have a Christmas. I know, I was one of them. There are men and women serving in our military who are stationed far from their families, who will spend Christmas alone in their barracks.

Christmas is not about buy, buy, buy and me, me, me. It is about giving people the gift of love and respect. It is about giving the gift of yourself to someone who may be hurting or heartbroken. Most importantly, it is a time to share the gift of Jesus with those around you. I am challenging you to forget the commercialism of Christmas and remember why we have a Christmas at all. His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the only Christmas gift that any of us really needs. Remember Jesus!

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the storm

 

 

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 

It was a normal Thursday morning in mid-October. I had just picked up my oldest daughter, Cherokee, from her dorm room, and was going to spend a few hours in the prayer room at a local House of Prayer. We had not even made it out of the parking lot when this precious child of mine announces that she was pregnant. I was floored. She was 19 and had just started her first semester of college. She had been seeing this boy off and on for just over a year, but I had no clue they had taken things that far. Cherokee was always my purity ring wearing God girl. As I drove to the House of Prayer, she says laughing, “Well, I thought I would tell you now, since you were on your way to the prayer room.” Cherokee and I had always been close, but we had recently struggled in our relationship, as she pulled away and discovered her independence.

We did not end up at the prayer room that day. We went window shopping and simply hung out and talked about her future. I was heartbroken for this daughter of mine, but I also cherished the life that she carried. As I loved Cherokee that day and in the months to come, I felt the love of God as I had never felt before. I focused on God and took comfort in Laura Story’s song, “Blessings”

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise.

I felt God’s unconditional love for me in all my imperfection, as I stood by my daughter and loved her through this tough time. My hopes and dreams for my first born were dashed, but new dreams took their place. She was 6 months pregnant when she and Nick married. Ava was born in June of 2013 and is the sunshine of my life. Cherokee, Nick and Ava live on a Marine base in North Carolina. Ava is 16 months and is a blessing in my life.

My dreams changed. When I focused on Jesus in the eye of the storm, I was blessed with a grand-daughter and a son-in-law that I am proud of. It was a difficult time, but I chose to keep my eyes on Jesus and I was blessed.

Often, when we as mom’s are in the middle of the storm, we doubt that Jesus is there to help us walk on the waters of our trials. He is there. We simply have to focus on Him and not our situation. We have to keep the faith and not doubt. Jesus tells us to take courage, do not be afraid. He is there standing in front of us, encouraging us in this journey of motherhood. Focus on Jesus, sweet mom, and not on your circumstances and you will be able to walk on the water of the stormy seas of parenting. Jesus is right in front of you, encouraging you. Go to Him.

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