Lent Day 32 – Division

by gary-foote on March 21, 2015

So a division occurred in the crowd because of him – John 7:43

32.3-21

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of high school youth about the existence of Jesus. It’s really somewhat of an odd topic if you think about it for a few moments. There is more historical evidence recorded in antiquity that Jesus lived 2000 years ago then there is for other historical figures like Julius Caesar and Napoleon. Yet, we do not question whether or not they existed.

C.S. Lewis both spoke and wrote on the “trilemma” of Jesus: He was either a lunatic, a liar, or Lord.

One thing is for certain: Division has occurred because of Jesus.

 As I spoke to the youth that Sunday afternoon, I asked the question, “Do you really want to know if Jesus existed?” Much of the crowd roared back with a loud, “YES!” As youthful enthusiasm filled the room, I asked a second question, “Why?” At that moment, the crowd died down. No one wanted to shout out a response.

 As I saw the excited energy quickly change to a more solemn atmosphere of trying to answer a difficult question, I began to share with the youth. I honestly don’t think that the majority of us wonder whether or not Jesus Christ walked the earth some 2000 years ago. That is pretty easy to prove from both religious and non-religious historical accounts. The question that burdens us, that burns within our hearts, that causes division is: Is Jesus the Lord?

We become terrified by that question. It’s easy and comforting to say, “Jesus didn’t exist.” If that is what we profess to be true, it gives us license to act any way that we want and to become our own god. But, when we acknowledge that Jesus did exist AND He is Lord, everything changes!

Jesus as Lord divides us. 
We have to choose to follow the will of the Father or our own will.
We have to choose to follow the explicit commandments of God
or our own wisdom.
We have to choose between embracing sin and selfishness
or embracing grace and service.

Jesus does not seek to divide us for division’s sake. No, we divide ourselves because we have to make the decision of whether to surrender to the truth of God or our own self-defined truth. Which will you choose?

Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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Lent Day 30 – Guardian of the Redeemer

by gary-foote on March 19, 2015

St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, Pray For Us!

30.3-19

How would you describe a hero?

Obedient
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him”
(Matthew 1:24)

Caring
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
(Luke 2:48)

Righteous
“Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man…”
(Matthew 1:19)

Protective
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
(Matthew 2:14)

Welcoming
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
(Luke 4:22)

St. Joseph was an amazing man. We know so little about him except for the incredible responsibility he was given: Guardian of the Redeemer.

When I think of a hero, my mind automatically goes to someone who is brawny, relies on his own might, and can easily out power his enemies.

But through St. Joseph, God teaches us what a true hero looks like.

St. Joseph is never described as brawny with huge biceps, but rather he draws his “muscle” from humbly being obedient to God’s way and not his own.

He is not emotionally stoic, demanding respect through his lack of empathy. He is caring, moved by the feelings of a loving husband and father towards his wife and child.

St. Joseph was not worried about his reputation. He was more concerned about being righteous and shielding the one he loved at all costs.

He did not put his comfort and desires first. He freely chose to put his family first, protecting them, as he sacrificed himself.

St. Joseph never once cried out the mantra we are told proclaim, “This is not my responsibility.” Instead, he brought his foster son, Jesus, into his home welcoming him as his own.

The world is in desperate need of a heroes, and God has given us the perfect example in St. Joseph of how to live like one.

St. Joseph, pray for us!

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Lent Day 29 – Not Forgotten

by gary-foote on March 18, 2015

I will never forget you – Isaiah 49:15b

29.3-18

One of the most difficult challenges in life is feeling forgotten. God designed us in His image and likeness, which by His very nature is a community.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Three Persons/One God.
Is it any wonder that we feel incomplete when we feel forgotten or alone?

There have been many times in my life where I have felt forgotten. I remember when I was 6 years old I went to a department store, JC Penny, with my mom. It was near Christmas time so the store was beautifully decorated with reds, greens, and gold, and there were toys as far as the eye could see! My mom was on a mission to buy some gifts, and my one job was to follow her lead. But as we walked through the store, I couldn’t resist the allure of the shiny new toys I was surrounded with. I stopped to look at an electronic fire truck with lights and sounds. I started to play with it, daydreaming about how it would look in my room. Before I knew it, my mom had disappeared!

In a panic, I ran up and down the eyes looking for her with no avail. My eyes began to fill with tears as my 6 year-old heart sunk with the thought that I was forgotten. I was scared, alone, and afraid that my mom moved on without me.

In reality, I was the furthest thing from forgotten in my mom’s mind. When we started our time together at the store, she knew I was with her, but she was focused on her mission of getting the gifts she had on her list.

When I disappeared, her list was no longer important. All that mattered to her was finding me. She eventually found a sales associate who made an announcement over the loud speaker. The announcement said my name and told me to find someone with a name badge and tell them I was lost. I did what the voice on the speaker said. I was united with my mom at last, she threw her arms around me, hugged and kissed me, and wiped away my tears. I looked at her and said, “I thought you forgot me” through my broken crying. She squeezed me tighter and said, “Gary, I could never forget you!”

As an adult, I sometimes feel forgotten by God. There have been occasions where I see how He works in other people’s lives, and I ask, “Have you forgotten me?” The reality is my little boy tendency of being distracted by a shiny object instead of following my loving parent gets the best of me.

In a panic, I cry out, “God have you forgotten me?” More often than not, something painful happens (similar to the pain I felt so many years ago at the department store). I wonder if God’s mission has become His priority before me.

Then I hear the voice of God calling out to me to return to Him. When we embrace, God speaks the same words my mom spoke so many years ago, “Gary, I could never forget you! Loving you and offering you salvation is my mission.”

I am grateful that God will never forget any of us.
The truth is that it’s our job to not be distracted and forget Him.

Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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Lent Day 28 – The Lord is With Us

by gary-foote on March 17, 2015

The LORD of hosts is with us; – Psalms 46:8a

28.3-17

I was recently speaking to a group of high school students in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. One of the young ladies present identified herself as an atheist. Her main struggle was that she saw faith as just a bunch of rules imposed by older people, passed on generation to generation. I was saddened that had been her experience, but I understood and respected why she felt the way that she did. When all was said and done, she had never encountered God in a real and personal way.

Being surrounded by incredible beauty stirred something in our hearts. It occurred to both of us that it is much easier to identify yourself as an atheist in an urban city of brick and mortar then in “the wild” of creation.

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Looking at the incredible wilderness before us she was challenged to ask, “Is this possible without a divine design?” Because of the amount of beauty and complexity in what we were seeing she had to ask, “Is God present in this place?”

God began to work in this young lady’s heart and I know that He is not done in helping her understand who she is.

While the natural beauty was breathtaking, the most beautiful part of our time together was encountering Jesus in the Eucharist.

This experience was a great reminder to me of how I need to remove myself from the mundane and marvel in God’s creation. It is said that a part of an artist is revealed in his painting. What is God revealing to us through His stunning masterpiece of creation? One thing I know for sure: We have an incredibly generous Father who only gives His best to His children and can never be outdone in generosity or splendor.

The Lord of hosts is with us; how have we recognized Him?

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Lent Day 27 – New

by gary-foote on March 16, 2015

I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past will not be remembered or come to mind
Isaiah 65:17

27.3-16

Life is filled with changes. Some are good, some are bad, and some are indifferent.
The one constant in any change is: Uncertainty

We can become very excited when life offers us a new start. Moving to a new city, starting a new job, or beginning a new relationship is exhilarating. We graciously take everything in with our new experience. We have great expectations that this new opportunity will be better than the last.

Sometimes, we are encouraged as life unfolds better than ever before. Other times, we hit great disappointment, longing for things to go back to the way they were before, when our new opportunity doesn’t pan out as expected.

As we experience the ups-and-downs of change, nervousness sets in as we hope for the best while remaining prepared for the worst.

But God transcends all of this. Why?
Because God takes the uncertainty out of change.

As only the most faithful Father can, God promises a completely new beginning. Something new, where the past will not be remembered or come to mind.
We will come to a place where we are so consumed by God that we will not long for anything or anyone. We will be complete.

This is the promise of our God.
This is the certainty of a future with Him.
He is the source of our joy.

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