Hiccups for Jesus

A few morning’s ago I was struck with a tragedy: hiccups that would not go away.

I don’t know what it was about these hiccups, but they were intense.

You know, the kind that like shakes your whole body?

They were obnoxiously loud, and echoed through my house (my sleeping family must not have been happy.)

That morning I decided to go to morning Mass at a Church about a five minute walk from my house.

Being late, I took my car for the 1 minute drive.

As I was driving, a thought came across my mind.

“Maybe, you should not go. Your hiccups will disrupt everyone.”

I imagined all the people in the Church staring at me.

However, I labeled this the voice of the enemy and decided going was more important.

Hiccups and the fear of embarrassment weren’t going to stop me from doing what I wanted.

Doing what I knew was right.

As I made my way up the Church driveway, the hiccups persisted.

“Hold them in. Hold them in. Focus. Hold them in.” I repeated in my mind as I opened the back door of the Church. 

Being late, I walked in right behind the priest.

“Hold them in. HOLD THEM IN. Don’t you dare…”

The minute I genuflected, before going into my seat, I let out the biggest hiccup of all time. 

THE SECOND  my knee hit the ground it was as if all the hiccups of my entire life decided to jump from my throat.

It. Was. So. Loud. 

I was so startled from the hiccup that my hiccups went away!

The Mass continued and I did not hiccup one bit.

This little experience taught me quite a few things I wanted to share with y’all.

The first being to push forward in doing what you know is right regardless of the whispers of the enemy. Humiliation and the fear of being humiliated stop so many of us from pursuing the truth. Fear sucks the perseverance out of us, when instead it can actually propel us. For example, when David faced Goliath. I am sure he had fear as he looked at the giant and all he had was a slingshot. However, David harnessed the fear and used it to show his true faith. In the midst of a thunderstorm of fear, he chose to look up towards Heaven and trust in God. He chose to use the power God had given him.

 

This experience reminded me of the humor of God. Often times, in our suffering world we neglect to look at the humor of truth. When I sent out the giant hiccup, it had me smirking in my seat. The hiccup was so freaking loud. Instead of dwelling on the embarrassment, I thought about how I was cured from my “ailment” by the very ailment itself.

I was reminded that our weaknesses are actually our strength. As seen in 2 Corinthians 12:9

“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.

I fought and fought and fought the weakness of my hiccups but in reality through that weakness I saw Christ more and more. As I walked into that Church, I had no choice but to accept my problem and just put it in Christ’s hands. Maybe I would get told to leave because I was being disruptive. Maybe I would be embarrassed. Maybe I would hiccup the entire time. But that did not matter. I knew what to do, and in the moment of weakness I had to place my trust in Him.

Friends, I encourage you this weak to keep moving forward. Put on the armor of God and when you feel inadequate to enter into His house, go anyway. Do not listen to the lies the enemy whispers in your ear. Trust in Him. Listen to the ache in your soul. Put on the armor of God and harness the faith.

So next time you have the hiccups, think of Him.

For in this human weakness, the truth became much clearer.

 

 

Why so intense?

The archbishop St. Charles Borromeo once said,

“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.”

I think this quote does a great job explaining the zeal required for a Christian. In order to do the will of God it is necessary that we start again EACH AND EVERY day. This call to “new eagerness” represents growth. St. Charles is stressing the importance of continuously reflecting and asking ourselves why we are doing the things we are doing. Every action must reflect our desire to serve God.

In one of todays readings, 1 Peter 4:7-13 we are reminded about the importance of action

“The end of all things is at hand.
Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins…”

When hearing this passage this morning, I was taken a back by the word “intense.” After looking at other Bible versions, I very much enjoy this wording (other versions use words such as “deeply”, “fervent, etc.)

When I heard intense I think crazy. I think of someone so crazy they would do anything no matter the cost. I see a marine trudging through mud to get to where he or she needs to be. I see a student chugging back buckets of coffee studying their butt off through the late hours of the night. I see focus. I see desire. I most of all, see purpose.

I think something that is lacking in young Christians today is intensity. We allow Christianity to be diluted and do nothing about it. We are so worried about pleasing everybody that we forget to please Our Lord.

In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 11:11-26 Jesus shows us exactly what he means.

As people buy and sell in the temple area, Christ overturned the tables.

He explains in fervor that this is not what the temple is meant for.

Now apply this to your life.

I encourage you today to flip the tables inside your heart. Drive out all that is not meant to be there. Any hatred? Seek forgiveness. Any fear? Seek God’s power and trust. Any shame? Seek God’s love.

At the beginning of this Gospel passage, Christ curses the fig tree.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it.

I don’t know about you but I have told myself many times,

“it is not my time right now…later.”

I have chosen to hide behind my leaves and not bear fruit.

This may look like:

Going on social media instead of loving a family member.

Watching TV instead of doing service. 

Sleeping in instead of working on that project. 

So what must we do to change this?

Be intense.

Follow in the footsteps of Christ so confidently it startles the world just like Christ freaked out the money changers.

Remind yourself, bearing fruit is why you are here on this earth. Nothing else matters.

Later on the story continues,

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.

Here Christ continues with His lesson of intensity.

He proclaims to us to have intense faith. 

If we choose Christ, the impossible becomes just an average day.

Melt your doubts by taking intense action.

Pray hard, work hard, strive to live like Christ.

Go the extra mile and then run a marathon.

Keep persevering for Christ and you will be rewarded in paradise.

 

Let love be your fuel and intensity be your steering wheel. 

 

 

 

 

The Stranger Who Changed My Life

Have you ever felt your life change in but an instant? Most of you may know what I am talking about.

Maybe, the moment a loved one passed away?

Or, the moment you fell in love with your future spouse?

Possibly, when you won an award for something?

Those moments are great and all, but they are not what I am going to talk about today.

Today, I want to talk about a micro moment. A micro moment is such a small event it may seem insignificant. However, micro moments continue to change my life everyday. They may mean nothing to the friend or stranger that spoke or acted, but they significantly impacted my life.

Here is one of my micro-moments:

The Patient 

At my medical school, we have fake patient encounters. This allows us to practice the clinical side of medicine. Towards the end of my first semester, I had a fake clinical encounter scheduled. The entire first semester I faced a lot of adversity. I was at a school I did not intend on going to. I had not found many friends. I was struggling to keep up academically with my peers. I did not have much support. And day in and day out I was reminded that I was not good enough. I thought about quitting every night. It would be so easy wouldn’t it?

It is time for my patient encounter. I knock on the door and have a patient who apparently is experiencing burning sensation in his chest. I started the exam and ask him exactly where the pain is located. I talk to him like I would with any other patient, but he stops me midway through taking his patient history.

My first thought was that I royally screwed up.

man-couple-people-woman.jpg

Patients are not supposed to break out of character during these encounters.

It is a no no.

So, for him to do this I must have said or done something pretty bad.

He starts shaking his head.

My palms start to get very sweaty.

My heart rate is elevated.

He looks me dead in the eyes and says,

“You have ******* potential kid.”

 

Shocked by his compliment I did not know what to say.

pexels-photo-848740.jpeg

Over the entire first semester, positive words were not what my ears were used to hearing.

The man continued to explain why he thought I would make an excellent doctor.

This conversation lasted a minute or so and that was it.

I never saw the man again.

But, this micro moment changed my life. 

In my bedroom, above the light switch, is an index card with this man’s praise. His comment to me, on that random day in November, gave me the hope in myself that I was missing. He could have just gave me a good score and moved on with it.

But no.

He stopped me dead in my tracks and filled me with encouragement.

He told me to fulfill what I was meant to do.

He saw a future me that I did not think existed.

 

It is our duty to create these micro moments for the friends and strangers around us.

 

Let us always remember this today, and live a life of love and encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Stress Your DJ?

I have been trying to think of a time.

In my life.

Where stress did not impact my attitude/actions.

What comes to mind is moments as a child. Where stress did not seem to exist. I can think of moments right after a big test. Where the weight of the exam melted off my shoulders. I can think of moments laughing with friends and family. I can think of moments where I stare into the eyes of my girlfriend. Moments where I am doing acts of service to help the word. I can think of moments when I am jamming out in the car. Moments when I am praying. Moments when I am reading a good book and drinking some rad coffee.

These moments rock. Yet, they are so few and far between.

Why is that?

Because I let stress win.

Lets imagine something real quick. You have your headphones on and you are listening to your playlist. Everyday you wake up and you put these headphones on. You scroll down the list of songs and pick one. Every moment of your life you must have a song playing.

The playlist looks a bit like this.

Playlist name: Life

Song 1: Sound of fear

Song 2: Sound of joy

Song 3: Sound of failure

Song 4: Sound of uncertainty

Song 5: Sound of perseverance

Then you pick one. YOU choose a song. Because you have the choice every single day, every single moment, to pick the song of your day.

The problem is we seem to let life choose a song for us.

We seem to let stress win and become the master of our very own playlist.

If there is one thing I know it is that human beings like to have control. We like determining our own destiny and fulfilling our dreams.

Yet, why do we let stress be the DJ?

Today, I want to encourage you all to reflect on this. Is stress impacting how you live your life everyday? If moments are so great without stress, why are we letting stress choose our music?

It is time that we make a new playlist. A playlist built on enjoying this awesome life we have been given.

Today, I am dancing because I am not listening to sounds of failure, fear, or loneliness.

But rather, of hope, joy, and a whole lot of faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Sanitizer: Only 99% Effective

Every Sunday, a homeless man sits a few pews behind me. This man has stained clothes, long greasy hair, and hands speckled with dirt. I was very unsettled with how I first viewed this man. The dirt on his hands and feet immediately put up a barrier between myself and a fellow brother in Christ. My first instinct forced me to focus on myself. Not the needs of this man. Not the desire to help. Not the desire to worship with him. But every thought geared to separating us.

A part of me wanted to sit next to him.

Shake his hand.

Ask him about his life.

Another part of me was afraid.

Saw the dirtiness.

Was unsure if I could connect.

I came across the passage in John this week where Christ washes the feet of His disciples. I have read and heard this passage hundreds of times in my life. Yes, it seemed great and all but I never REALLY thought about it. I never asked myself what this REALLY means for my life?

How can I live it?

Lets break this down real quick:

Our Creator.

The God of the Universe.

The Alpha and the Omega.

The Eternal.

The Everlasting.

The All Powerful.

Humbled Himself.

And.

Scrubbed dirty human feet.

Wow. 

Yet, here I am hesitant to shake a hand?

In Max Lucado’s work Fearless he points out:

“Prudence washes with soap. Paranoia avoid human contact.”

In order to serve just like Christ we must be willing to get our hands dirty.

We must remember the importance of human touch.

In reality, I do not think it is the dirt that unsettles us.

I think it is our fear to attack head on…

Our lack of courage. 

Our heads swollen with pride.

Our ungratefulness.

Christ commands us so simply!

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”-John 13: 14-15

Can our loving Creator be more direct?

Friends, I encourage you this week to look at your own hands.

Are they too clean?

If so, does this outer cleanliness make you believe your soul is squeaky clean?

Hug a friend. Grab the hand of a homeless man or women and pray with them. Feed the poor. Visit the elderly. Do service work in your community.

Get your hands dirty.

Because in reality.

Dirt is nothing to fear.

But a pride-stained soul should be our greatest fear.

And I can assure you.

Hand sanitizer is not going to work. A dirty soul falls in the 1%.