Go Get It

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 

The most difficult part of the race we are running is remembering we are running a race.

We have a goal.

Go get it.

 

 

 

 

 

We are His

If you look back on your day, how much of it was consumed with negative thinking? Not just about the circumstances of the day, but of yourself?

If you are like me, a lot of it.

It is almost as though I was a fish at the bottom of a lake. As I swam about my day, the more I moved my fins the more murky water would rise up.

All of the concerns (lets call them the roots), go back to the trunk of the tree (fear).

Common fears are:

It’s my fault. I’m to blame. Why am I this way. Where are my headed. Is this right? Will I fail? Why did I mess up again. Why am I so weak. I am lost. I will forever feel like this.

Then the dwelling starts. A cycle of tasting more fears until eventually you are filled with them. And what happens when you eat something? It starts to be what you are composed of. If you eat healthy your body becomes healthy. If you eat junk, your body starts to not feel the best.

So, what was I doing? What are you doing? Consuming fear daily.

For the longest time, I wondered why I was so confused. Some days I would just struggle to see the world clearly. The truth was the road hidden behind the foggy windshield.

That is when I knew I needed to change.

So I started making declarations.

I once talked to a priest in confession. He told me I needed to start looking in the mirror and reminding myself “God loves me and I am lovable.” He told me I could stop when I believed it.

That is one declaration. Something I know is true regardless of my mind or feelings which are telling me otherwise.

Here are some declarations you may want to use:

I am loved by God.

I am a child of God Almighty.

I am filled with the Holy Spirit.

I am watched over by the Blessed Mother, the Angels, and the Saints.

I believe in the Gospel.

One day I will embrace Christ.

I am a Knight of Christ.

I am a warrior for His Kingdom.

I will courageously do Christ’s will. 

Friends, it’s all about changing what we consume. Over time by declaring and following through with your statements, you will experience change. Fear will scatter.

C.S. Lewis has a famous quote,

“My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices because I am out of the fight.”

So fight. Fight against fear by declaring the truth.

Because everyday you might not have the power over your feelings.

You might get lost in the ups and the downs.

But in the end, you are in charge of the will.

The will to do His will.

That’s not my problem

Every morning we awake.

To a table of our problems.

A plate full of dilemmas. Immediately we grab the fork and start eating and eating.

We consume morning, noon, and night. By the end of the month, year, decade we start to see the problems for what they are.

Eventually, we realize…

All we have been doing is eating crumbs, and complaining of how stuffed we are. 

So stop shifting the crumbs around with your fork.

Focused on your own little dish of problems.

Put your silverware down and get away from the damn table.

There are other’s who need your help.

Who need you to help them finish off their dish.

Jump In

In a few hours I am going to be picking my girlfriend up from the airport. We have a long-distance relationship so these moments are pretty special. You can imagine, after not seeing her for quite some time, I find myself running to her. Everyone in the airport probably thinks I am crazy. But I don’t care. Why? Because when you love someone no one else matters but them.

The last few days, John 21:7 has been on my mind…

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

In this verse, Peter was informed of Christ’s presence. Immediately, the love he had for Christ overcame him. He could not wait for the boat to reach land. He jumped right in and swam towards the Lord.

In this moment, his impatience became virtue. He was flooded with a zeal for being with His Lord and Savior.

Today, you may find yourself in a similar boat (hehe).

Maybe not a fishing boat, but maybe the boat of being a teacher, physician, student, brother, sisters, or friend. How often in this boat, do you see the Lord but wait to go to Him? How often are you afraid of the unknown in the water, so you neglect to jump in?

When Peter took the leap he did not care. He was not afraid that he would drown. He did not think about how dirty the water could be. He did not think of how deep it was nor if there were any creatures in there. Peter readied himself and leapt.

Friends, I encourage you today to take a leap for Christ. Allow His love to fill your hearts as to banish all your fears. Keep your eyes focused on Him as you paddle to shore. Strive to live love. Love so ferociously that you become a lighthouse for God.

We must transfer this leaping into our relationships with others. Leap off the boat for the people in your life.

Disregard yourself and put them before you.

Leap off the boat for the poor, the lonely, the sorrowful, the faint of heart, and I know…you will find God.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Fighting the Prayer Battle

If you read any quotes, books, or stories about the saints you will see a common theme.

    1.Prayer is always the answer.

And also.

    2. Prayer is not easy.

For many of us we understand #1 but we have great difficulty implementing it into our lives #2.

 

Hopefully, my story can give you hope and allow you to keep persevering in prayer.

________________________________________

I remember sitting outside of my university’s science building a few years ago. I was talking to a friend and asking for some guidance on prayer.

Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: I’m having some trouble praying. Like I want to pray, but when I do, I don’t feel right.

Friend: What do you mean?

Me: I want to pray but I almost feel restless whenever I do. I feel this deep unrest, and it makes me not want to pray. 

This was a few years ago and it did not get any better. It got so much worse.

Whenever I prayed, I was restless. I felt uneasy about myself and almost felt more unsafe. I felt intense guilt.  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt like a horrible person for it.

Why when I try to draw close to God do I feel horrible?

My folded hands were almost a stimulus for my anxiety.

This “feeling” took a gun to my prayer life. Over the past few years, I prayed a lot less. My nighttime routine seemed to fade away. Praying the rosary became a less frequent occurrence. Even during Mass, I resisted finding a quite place in my heart to talk to God.

My lack of prayer was not apparent. Looking back, I realize this now; however, it was very camouflaged.

Instead of prayer, I would use other “stimuli” to capture my attention. I would jump into the world of social media. I would post funny things in group chats. I would watch a lot of useless youtube videos.

I was constantly distracting myself from this earthly unrest by not living.

Well, this all took a turn the over the last few weeks.

After much reflecting on God, reading about the lives of the saints, going to Mass often, Christ-centered conversation, and more reflection I realized what was going on.

I lost the fact that I was just a human. A human jailed in the flesh, constantly being attacked by the devil. Prayer would not always come easy. The devil wants nothing more than to take us away from our King. The devil wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

So I decided to prayer. I decided to lose my life in order to save it.

I decided to feel the horrible unrest. I decided to feel the guilt and the lack of peace.

I decided to do this all for Him. I decided to fight this battle against the enemy and praise my Lord Jesus Christ even if it did not “feel” correct.

And you know what happened.

Last night, I was praying the rosary.

And out of nowhere, I was hit by a deep peace.

Whenever, I am hit with despair and distress I am inclined to pray. I am drawn to let the Lord know what is going on in my life.

St. Padre Pio once said,

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.”

And he is right. My soul was gasping for air the past few years. Each time it got a breath,  I allowed “my feelings” to drown me. I let the voice of the devil and the unrest placed in my heart to stop my lungs from working.

If any of you out there have had a similar experience or are going through a similar one, I encourage you to pray.

Pray even when you have insane doubts.

Pray even when you don’t want to.

Pray even when you feel won’t be heard.

Because prayer is a fight.

And the good news is.

Christ has already declared victory.

 

 

 

This is why life is hard.

A few questions we often ask ourselves is,

“Why is my life so hard?”

“Why did this happen?”

“When will I be happy?”

And many more similar questions…

In all of these we seem to be calling out to God to explain the answers.

“God, what gives?”

And this is exactly why life is so hard. 

In Matthew 16: 24 Christ tells us,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

A major problem with Christian living today, is the “deny themselves” part. People seem to think that denying themselves means donating a little extra on Sunday, or doing some service work, or maybe holding the door open for a stranger.

Christ did not call us to a life of nice deeds, but a life of radical love.

Christ is calling us to action here. Action that must happen every second of our short lives.

How many times a day do you look inward instead of outward?
How many times a day do you dissect and analyze your cross instead of looking towards His cross?

How many times in a day do you use excuses to prevent you from loving those around you?

I for one, do this everyday. The modern term for not denying oneself would be

“getting in your own head.”

Got a test coming up? Analyze yourself, make up a million scenarios about messing up, procrastinate, refocus, think about not being what you want to be in life…etc.

Got in an argument with a friend? Analyze yourself, make up a million scenarios why you were right and they were wrong, shy away from forgiveness….etc.

Got bills to pay? Analyze yourself, ask where you messed up in your budget, make up a million scenarios as to how you are gonna get this fixed..etc.

See, the problem is not the situations, but our outlook on the situations.

We are a culture so obsessed with turning our eyes inside ourselves. We have the constant false belief that by looking in we can fix the situation.

We need to develop the habit of forcing ourselves to look up at Christ on the cross.

By focusing outward, we are denying ourselves. We are establishing that in this moment we have a cross to bear, BUT we are walking with Christ. We will follow Him and carry our cross with dignity and courage.

The hardest thing in life is to suffer alone.

This is why life is so hard. We are constantly choosing EVERY SINGLE DAY to suffer alone. God is shouting at us to look towards Him and to never ever ever be alone in our suffering, yet we choose to stare at our problems instead of the Creator.

Friends, in order to make life not so hard we need to remember Christ is right here at all times.

As St. Patrick once said,

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Today, I encourage you to refocus your gaze on Jesus.

Unite your suffering with His suffering.

Deny yourself, forget you even exist.

And become a solider for God, so strong, so confident, so radical…

All the fears on the battlefield transform into another opportunity to be victorious

They become another opportunity to give glory to God.

 

 

 

Prayer and Procrastination

I am procrastinating right now.

I hate it.

This week I have two big medical school tests.

Am I ready?

Not even close?

Do I want to get a good grade?

Of course.

Have I been working hard?

Yes.

So what’s the problem?

Today, I want to write a little about procrastination and staying focused. As someone that has many issues focusing/sitting still, studying is very hard for me. I have tried everything. Running while listening to lectures. Writing on a white board. Pacing and reading my powerpoints. At the end of the day, I somehow manage to get it done.

However, things are a little different in medical school. In order to succeed one must be able to focus for an insane amount of hours in the day. My school recommends studying for 8-10 hours. Umm. Yeah.

I’ve been struggling to keep up with my classmates. I have been struggling to keep up with the boat load of material.

Only one thing has helped me get through it all.

That is prayer.

Prayer has allowed me to calm my overactive mind.

Prayer has allowed me to put my situation into a new perspective.

Prayer has reminded me that I am not in this alone.

Friends, I encourage you to take time out of your day for prayer and reflection. I promise you it will make the journey much easier. Procrastinate with prayer and you won’t be wasting time…in reality you will be doing the best thing you can do with your time.

Get Up.

I have been hearing something lately…but not with my ears.

With my heart.

Have you ever heard a phrase over and over again inside of you?

Like a song that pops in your head at the most random times.

And the more you try to get rid of it, the more it keeps coming back?

My song goes a little like this.

 

Get up and walk.

 

In John 5 Christ says such a phrase to a man ill, paralyzed, and alone for thirty eight years.

Christ declares, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The man jumps up and is healed.

Just like that.

The more I think about this the more I see how it relates to my (our) lives. A lot of our troubles stem from not moving spiritually. Our struggles stem from the fact that we are spiritually stagnant. Christ’s command, to get up and walk, must be applied to all of our lives.

We must not just hear the word, but walk with the word.

We must not just ask for God’s grace, but utilize it.

We must not pray for courage, and then cry out in fear.

In Church today I was reminded of two great scripture passages.

The first was:

In 1 Kings 19:11 we are told that God is not dwelling in the dramatic. Such as fires, earthquakes, and roaring winds.

God is found in the whispers of our hearts.

The second passage was Matthew 14:22-23. 

In this passage Christ tells Peter to come out and walk on the water. Peter does but his doubts cause him to sink.

After hearing these verses at Church today I did not know what to make of them.

What do I do with the whisper I am hearing?

Why am I so like Peter walking on water and becoming afraid?

How do I just do what I need to do! 

Still confused, it was time for the “sign of peace” at Church. For those who are unaware, in the Catholic Church there is a moment in the Mass where everyone in the pews shakes each others hands, hugs, kisses….showing one another a sign of peace.

I shook a few hands and fell into the depth of my thoughts again.

About five minutes later, while frustrated, I noticed a little boy about 5 years old.

This boy was consumed with joy. And I truly mean it. He had a smile plastered on his face that was not going away.

Though the sign of peace was long over he was going down the aisles shaking EVERYONES hand.

Most people were a bit taken a back.

I wasn’t.

“That’s it,” I thought.

Get up. Don’t listen to the world. Listen to the whisper inside.

Act with joy.

Act with love.

Act with courage.

Always,

Without hesitation.

 

I’m Confident.

I lack something.

And that is confidence.

To those that know me personally this may not seem so true.

But I can assure you that it is.

Making decisions (even the small ones) weighs me down.

Being in new places throw me off and scares me.

Not doing the right thing because I am uncomfortable. 

Feeling like a failure no matter what I try. 

I’m sure a lot of you have felt similar feelings.

The statement that has been weighing on my heart the last few weeks has been:

CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST.

Now before I get any further I want to make a clarification. I am speaking about confidence not cockiness.

I view the distinction as….

Cockiness is excessive trust in oneself. 

Confidence rests in the trust of another. 

And that trust is in Christ.

How do we become confident in Christ?

Well, for one we don’t ever hold back. We follow the moral framework laid out for us in the Bible. We become saints of service and love and truth and joy and awesomeness.

We don’t allow the desire for cockiness (pride) or fear prevent us from whole heartedly doing the impossible for Christ. We just simply tie our sneakers and run after it.

I know this message is short but lets just keep it simple.

Are you confident in the plans God has for your life?

If you are, then start walking into the room with that glow. Start talking to people with that light. Start right now, strutting like this world is not going to weigh you down because the King of Kings has your back.

Confidence in Christ my friends.

Say it over and over again

Till you start believing it.