Monday, July 25, 2011

Intruder Alert

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” John 10: 8

So last night after my youth ministry meeting one of my core members went to turn-off the lights in a closet of the gym that we forgot about and as they opened the door, someone jumped out of the closet, pushed them over onto the gym floor and went running out of the building into the night. Talk about scary! Naturally the police were called and burly guys with guns and flashlights and K-9 dogs came to search the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Fortunately no one else was in the building, but unfortunately they didn’t find anyone in the neighborhood matching the description of our intruder.

Of course, now the questions linger: how did he get in a locked building? Did he sneak in at the beginning of youth group as people were coming in? Did he nonchalantly walk through an open door as people were leaving? Did anyone see him but think he was just someone’s dad or older brother? What, if anything, could we do differently or better to keep everyone safe? What was this guy planning to do in the empty school building after we left?

So a lot of my time and energy has been spent reflecting on this incident and talking with the principal and pastor. And as I have been thinking of all that happened, it dawned on me that in our spiritual lives we have thieves and robbers constantly trying to get into our souls, minds and hearts. And I wondered if we always recognize this reality? And are we putting enough time and energy and thought into protecting ourselves from these dangers?

These thieves and robbers are of course Satan and his minions, all the rest of the demons who manipulate and pervert and corrupt our culture and attack us in a myriad of ways. The lies and deceit that he throws at us in our own minds: self-doubt, self-hatred, confusion, anger, despair. The false hope of happiness he offers us through our daily consumption of what the media has to offer us through music, TV, movies and the Internet. The heresy he spews through false preachers and prophets that leave us in confusion and fear. So how do we protect ourselves from these constant assaults?

We pray, we keep ourselves connected and rooted to Jesus through the sacraments, especially Eucharist and confession, we join with other believers in community, we fill our minds with Truth from Scripture, the Catechism and from other writings of people holier than us and we keep our minds and hearts from the perversions of the mainstream media.

If we can lock doors to buildings, keep lights burning all night, set alarms, stay with others, keep out of dangerous parts of town, carry weapons for self-defense, be aware of our surroundings, put up fences and pay taxes for a police force, why can’t we be more vigilant with our souls, minds and hearts? I guarantee the price we pay for losing or damaging them is far higher and more lasting than the things of this world which we are so good at protecting.

Dear Jesus, please help me to recognize the threats against my soul and cling to You more closely and trust in Your protection. Help me live in the light so that the smallest threat against me can be exposed quickly and dealt with. Amen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


“God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day.” Psalm 91: 4b-5

This past weekend a madman in Norway killed almost 90 people, many of them young people at a youth camp. He apparently entered the camp dressed as a police officer and not only shot people point blank, but would lure people over to him with his disguise and then shoot them while looking them right in the eyes or as they ran away or tried to swim to safety. Terrorism has many faces and it comes in many forms, but at its heart it is the same: take people from their safety and comfort and not only injure or kill them, but do it in the most terrifying way and fill their hearts and minds with terror at the same time. And the other point is to leave fear in the hearts and minds of each of us who see the images or hear about the attacks. Unfortunately this is not new and more unfortunately, it will not be the last such attack in the world. From the Middle East to Africa, from Europe to the United States, there are people bent on filling the world with fear, destruction and death until they get their way. In addition, there are also very unstable people who inflict this kind of mayhem on others without any kind of reason or ideology.

So what is our response as people of faith? Well, certainly prayer for the victims and for those who think killing and terrifying others is a morally acceptable course of action. Others may be called to heroically defend innocent people as members of the military or as police or other defense officials. Still others may be called to help find and mend the injured as rescue personnel or medical professionals. But most of us will simply try to live our lives and hope to not get caught in the middle of someone else’s hallucination or agenda. But as we do this, will we live in fear? Will we always be looking over our shoulder? Or will we just try to ignore the danger and try to acquire as much wealth as we can and have as much fun while we can?

I think that if Jesus is the center of our heart and the foundation we walk upon, then we have no reason to fear anyone or anything. Certainly there are times and situations where we will be afraid and there might be instances where our intuition saves us or protects us from being vulnerable. But I think as people of faith we go through this life realizing that this life is not the only life we were created for and that we need to pursue greater things than simply the goods and pleasures this life has to offer. We also realize that even if everything and everyone in this life were taken from us, that Jesus remains and that He is in control and that He will not abandon us or leave us. Ultimately we realize that while we do not have to let this world become hell, we also do not want to think it will become our heaven either.

And so with this mindset, this faith, this grace filling our hearts, there is no room left for fear. God does not promise that we will never get sick or die. He does not promise that we will not suffer. But He promises to be with us at all times—even in the face of terror. And with this comforting thought we journey on ready to face whatever the Evil One throws in our path.

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your presence with me. Thank you for protecting me and being faithful to me. Help me to always keep my heart and mind filled with You and Your grace so that there is no more room left for fear. Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too Much Spice?

“Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.” Psalm 127: 3-4

Not sure if you heard the world-wide news yet, but David Beckham the soccer star and his Spice Girl wife just had their fourth child. Who cares you might ask? Apparently lots of people; especially in the UK, where the birth of this precious little one has been met with cries of criticism. The naysayers protest the births of this many children to one couple, claiming that it is irresponsible to the environment, global warming and overpopulation. People in the media and the government are now asking—demanding—a national debate on what the appropriate number of children a couple should have might be. Really?

Consider that most of Europe is in such population decline that most of the governments have to import immigrants from Africa and the Middle East to keep their economies afloat. Consider that many countries like Russian and Japan actually offer monetary incentives for couples to have children because their birthrates are so low. Consider that while the world’s population may top 8-9 billion by the year 2050, most population experts expect it to begin dramatically dropping after that. Consider that we do not have a food shortage in the world, rather we have a distribution problem and a problem of corrupt governments and tyranny in too many countries. Consider that we too, are often wasteful and not willing to sacrifice as much in wealthier countries so that others could enjoy more of what we take for granted.

Children are NOT the problem! Children are always a gift. Isn’t it interesting that in poorer countries, people keep trying to have more and more children. Prideful “Ivory Tower-types” from Western countries claim that this is because of the ignorance of these people, as if they are not much more than cattle or animals. But the truth is that children represent HOPE to people in poverty. Children are seen as treasures, not as burdens to avoid as is so often the case in First World countries.

Raising children is hard work. It takes money to feed them, clothe them, care for them   and educate them. But they are a BLESSING! Every one of them, no matter the circumstances of their conception, no matter what they look like or what they act like. Children cause us to try to improve ourselves, sacrifice ourselves and become more noble and less selfish. They give us hope and they help us to rediscover the beauty and joy of the world as we watch them explore and squeal and feel things so deeply. Their innocence cuts to the core of our hearts and challenges us to be better so we can preserve their innocence and so we can live a bit of their lives all over gain in our own hearts and minds.

Dear Jesus, thank You for new life and for the blessing of children. May the world come to understand the treasure of children. Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Kingdom of Heaven

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Matthew 13: 44-46

What is the kingdom of heaven? On first glance when reading these parables in Matthew’s Gospel we might think he is actually speaking about heaven, as in our eternal home. But a close read shows us that this cannot be: how can the Evil One come and sow weeds among the wheat in heaven? When will the end come that the weeds and wheat need to be separated? When we look closer at these parables we see that Jesus is referring to the Church when He speaks of the kingdom of heaven.

So yes, we can have weeds among the wheat in the Church. And yes, they will be separated at the end of time. But do we see the Church as a treasure? Do we view the Church as valuable as a pearl of great price? Have we come to understand the depths and greatness of value that we receive from the Church and from being members of Christ’s Body? If we did, then why are we so hesitant to sacrifice EVERYTHING for the Church? Why are we so willing to abandon the Church and Her teachings at the first feelings of peer pressure or when the media and culture bash Her? Why are we so ashamed to bring Christ and His Body into the public arena?

We have lots of businessmen and women who happen to be Catholic on Sunday, but what the world needs is more CATHOLIC businessmen and women. We have lots of physicians that happen to also be Catholic, but what the world needs are CATHOLIC doctors, willing to bring the moral and ethical teaching of the Church into the operating room and the exam room. We have lots of politicians that happen to be Catholic (and some that think they are Catholic), but what the world needs is CATHOLIC politicians, willing to bring their Catholic beliefs into the way they vote and try to help and lead society. We need men and women ready to sacrifice their lives for their spouses’ and their children. We need men and women ready to sacrifice everything and become priests, sisters and brothers.

But are we willing to do this? Or is it too hard? Many businessmen and women seem to choose riches and short cuts over ethics. Many doctors seem to choose science and cultural prejudices over Catholic moral teaching. Many politicians seem to choose a political career over following their personal convictions as Catholics. And perhaps you and I are too willing to succumb to peer pressure or cave into the culture when it comes to how we live and act as well.

We need to recognize the great treasure we have in the Church: the Eucharist and the other sacraments, the huge body of moral theology to guide us, the rational and historical reasons for Faith in Jesus, the Saints, Sacred Scripture—so much offered and yet we so often view the Church as archaic or out-of-touch or irrelevant. Shame on us! May we come to see the kingdom of heaven in our midst and be willing to sell and give up everything in order to gain it and help others to find it.

Dear Jesus, thank You for Your Body, the Church. Help me to recognize the beauty and worth of this gift to the world. May I always sacrifice everything to be one with You. Amen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To the Last Drop

“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” John 19: 33-34

I helped save a life today. Maybe even more than one. How? I gave blood. And the one pint of blood taken from my body can be used to help people in surgery, or NICU babies or people involved with traumas that have lost several pints of their own blood. And you know what? It feels good to donate blood. In fact, since I am not afraid of needles, am relatively healthy, am not anemic and have the time to do it, I feel like blood donation is a moral necessity for me. To be given the ability and the chance to help save a life doesn’t come every day and so I try to give as often as I am allowed.

But if I really think about it, it doesn’t take much for me to do this. There isn’t really much sacrifice and truth be told, I still get to keep more than 90% of my blood. So my gift, while generous, is not a total gift of self. Jesus, on the other hand, spared not even one DROP of His precious blood to save not one life, but all of humanity—all who have ever lived, all who live now and all who ever will live. From the first droplets that flowed from His burst capillaries through His sweat glands in the Garden of Gethsemane to the rivers that flowed from His scourged back and nail-pierced hands and feet to the very last remaining reserve in His heart before it was pierced with the lance—Jesus gave it ALL. He held nothing back.

Jesus’ gift to you and to me was complete and it was TOTAL. He gave everything so that we might be saved from the fires of eternal damnation. So that we could live with Him forever in heaven. So that we could become what we were truly created to be. So that we could know love in every fiber of our being without end. What a God we serve! A God who would sacrifice Himself on behalf of His creation. A God who would humble Himself to become one of us. A God who would love us first and who ALWAYS initiates relationship with us. A God who gave us every bit of Himself on the cross, even to His last drop of blood. May we seek to love as He loved, to give of ourselves TOTALLY to Him and to others in return.

Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me with Your Precious Blood. Thank You for Your endless mercy. Give me the grace to respond to Your love with a total gift of myself. Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Signs for the Times

“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.’” Matthew 12: 38-39

Have you ever spoken with someone that didn’t believe in God, or miracles or the supernatural and the reason is because they have never seen a “sign” from God? Or you talk to people who are trying to discern God’s will and they won’t make a move until God gives them a clear “sign”? You know what? I think when it comes to faith, it is a gift and you either have it or you don’t. And I think that if you have it, then EVERYTHING is a sign that shows us the existence of God. And if you don’t have it then NOTHING will be seen as a sign of His presence or work in the world.

 In October of 1917, there was a miracle of the sun in Fatima, Portugal that was witnessed by over 100,000 people, including atheists and the secular press. The sun danced for 12 minutes in the sky and then came hurtling at the earth. People thought they were going to die. And then, just like that, the sun was in its normal place. The difference is that the ground which had been wet and muddy from three straight days of rain was instantly dry and the wet muddy clothes people had been wearing were instantly dry and clean.  And yet people still did not believe the story. And today you can go online and see web sites devoted to showing this miracle as a fraud.

In Italy, there is a church that holds the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ that was miraculously changed from bread and wine to actual human flesh and blood hundreds of years ago in the middle of a Mass when the priest doubted the Real Presence of Jesus. All of these centuries later the flesh and blood are still fresh and have not decayed and numerous independent scientific tests have been done on them, but yet people still do not believe in the Eucharist.

There are hundreds of stories of supernatural phenomenon happening to saints, from the stigmata (wounds of Christ in their own flesh), to levitation (people floating in the air while in prayer) to bi-location (one person being in two different places at the same time) to the incorruptible (saints whose bodies have not decayed even years and years after their deaths). And you can read about these events, that have been recorded and witnessed and tested and yet people still do not believe.

We even have modern-day Scripture “scholars” that spend their careers trying to explain away the miracles in the Bible. They say that things like the dividing of the Red Sea and Jesus walking on water have scientific or coincidental, not supernatural rationale behind them.

But who can argue with personal experience? Bl. Mother Teresa had a vision of Jesus that began her ministry to the poor. Bl. John Paul II was shot on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the bullet was miraculously guided through his abdomen without hitting any vital organs. I have seen several miracles like people being physically healed or brought back to fullness emotionally, mentally or spiritually. What miracles have you witnessed? A baby being born? Someone forgiving another? Watching a married couple love one another?  Teens worshipping God with their whole hearts, minds, bodies and spirit?

The signs are everywhere for those who have the faith, but we don’t need them. And they will not be given for those who claim they do, for they won’t see them anyway. May we all pray for the gift of Faith for ourselves and for others.

Dear Jesus, please help me to believe more wholeheartedly and unreservedly in You. May my faith in You and the way I live be the sign that brings others to seek the gift of faith You have instilled in me. Help me to always be grateful for this privilege of belief. Amen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

There But for the Grace of God Go I

“Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.” 1 Corinthians 10: 12

It can appear at times that when it comes to the Church or our wonderful priests or lay leaders, that there is nothing but bad news. We often hear in the secular media AND in the Catholic press about the scandals and abusers and those who have “fallen from grace”. The secular media of course loves it when a priest or someone with recognition in the Church can be flaunted in front of the cameras as a hypocrite and even within the Church there can sometimes seem to be a willingness to condemn and sentence anyone accused of anything without regard to the facts or whether they are truly guilty or not.

But all of us are susceptible to temptation are we not? It seems that every time there is a horrific shooting spree, the people who knew the shooter get on the news and tell us that they can’t believe the person was capable of doing what they did. The point is that ALL of us are capable of any sin if given the right conditions. If left unchecked, our consciences begin to quiet in our hearts. If allowed to be exposed to enough violence or perversions, our hearts and souls become dull and capable of anger and abuse. If we were to refrain from repenting or acknowledging our weaknesses, we could be become so cold and hard that we would cease to recognize our own sinfulness. The deceptiveness of pride is a potential cancer to all of us.

So how do you and I protect ourselves from going down this road? With an acknowledgement of our own sinfulness and weakness and a realization that we cannot save ourselves. Only by the grace of God can we live for Him and avoid sin. If we are deceived into thinking we are good and holy because of our own hard work and efforts alone, then we are being deceived and we are certainly setting ourselves up for a fall. Do we need to cooperate with the grace given to us? Absolutely. And do we have to use our free will to make choices that are good and holy? Yes. But if we are to protect ourselves from falling and causing scandal to others, then we need to accept that it is the grace of Jesus working in and through us that deserves the credit.

And what if we do fall (in a big noticeable way or even in a more private situation)? We need only look to the mercy of God in the sacrament of Reconciliation, go to Him and repent with humility and honesty and trust that we will be forgiven. Trust that He is a big God: bigger than our sins, bigger than our weaknesses, bigger than our pride. And then use this grace to try harder and to keep ourselves from the near occasion of sin. The more “holy” we become the more Satan is going to attack us. He never ceases to look for ways to tempt us and we must always stand guard against his attacks. But where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds more so. May we always walk in the grace of our Lord.

Dear Jesus, please give me the grace and the humility to walk secure in You and not in the false security of myself. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


“So, as you received Jesus Christ the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2: 6-7

Where are you rooted? What is the foundation that you are building your life upon? For many people it is a career, or a relationship or success in athletics or music or even money and fame. We all want to be known and we all want to be successful because we figure that will make us happy. But everything depends on our roots.

Our roots first begin in our families. Some of us come from good families and some do not. Some of us come from unified families and some of us come from broken families. Some of us are close to our families and some of us are estranged from our families. No family is perfect and no one, no matter how skewered their memories, had a perfect childhood. Most importantly, some of us came from a background of faith and some of us didn’t. The reality is that the family we grow up in, for good or for bad, has a huge impact on shaping the way we think, feel, act and react to the world around us. But you know what? Our family is not ultimately supposed to be what we are rooted in and even if our growing-up years were less than perfect, we can be “transplanted” and start to sink our roots into things that will last.

How do we do this? First of all we have to realize that where we sink our roots will determine how we grow and develop as a person and will dictate our level of happiness or lack thereof. If we sink our roots into things that are shallow and meaningless we will not have much growth and we will not be happy. But if we can find things that are rich and filled with lasting Truth and beauty to sink our roots into, we will find growth and happiness.

Of course the obvious reality is that we need to sink our roots into Jesus. But how is this done? First of all, we need to be in the Church, because the Church is the Body of Christ. The Church brings us nourishment and grace through the power of Christ in the sacraments. Second, we need to read Scripture. We need to become familiar with the God of the Bible and let His Word dwell in us richly. Third, we need to talk to the Lord and listen to Him speak to us each day. This is called prayer. We need prayer to be in relationship with Jesus, to stay intimately connected with Him. Fourth, we need to spend our time and energy on things that bring us deeper into the mystery of Christ: music that edifies our souls, art and drama that cause us to seek Truth, being in nature and partaking of the wonders of the Lord’s creation, spending time doing the hard work of building good, loving relationships with our families and finally, seeking ways to serve others each day.

But so often we spend our time wasting our lives on entertainment, partying, fighting, trying to advance in some way or form in the riches and fame of this world. For what? I recently heard a famous actor say that “fame is obscurity biding its time”. And so many people are sinking their roots into things that will ultimately leave them lonely and obscure. Let’s instead sink our roots deep in Christ so that our lives can be fulfilled and brought to completion in eternity with the Lord.

Dear Jesus, help me be rooted in You so that my life can flourish and I can grow in holiness and become the person You are calling me to be. Amen.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cost Cutting

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 10: 8b

Most people want something if they give something, don’t they? Parents give love and look for obedience from their children. Children do chores and then expect money or privileges from their parents. Teachers work hard and expect their students to give the same effort. People do their jobs and expect to be well paid in return.

If we buy a meal out, we expect good service and a good meal. If we buy a new cell phone, we hope it is better than our last one and won’t drop so many calls. If we help a friend move or paint their deck, we expect their help in return when we have to move or remodel. We’ll drive someone but gas is expensive, so we expect they will chip-in to help pay for the gas. We invite someone to our wedding and give them a good party and meal and we expect a nice present. Some guys spend a lot of money on a date and then expect the girl to “repay” at the end of the night. And when we do not receive back in return we hold it over someone’s head or vow to never help them again.

And yet Jesus tells us as His disciples that we are to give without cost. What does this mean practically speaking? I think it means to be generous with our time, talents and treasures and NOT expect the same treatment in return. It means that we should give to anyone in need that we have the ability to help simply to bless them and show them the love of Christ, not because we are expecting or hoping for them to do the same for us.

We received the love, grace and mercy of Jesus without cost because there is no way we could ever earn or repay Him for His sacrifice on Calvary. And yet knowing this, Jesus still gave Himself freely and completely to each of us on the cross. And all He asks of us as His followers is to do likewise. So how do we do this?

It is easy to help others that are like us. It is easy to help others who we know will treat us the same way even if we are not hoping for it or expecting it. But what about people and situations where there is no hope of expecting anything in return? What about serving and giving in these situations and to these people? What about when we don’t feel like it? What about when doing it will bring us little joy? What about when the giving results in some kind of suffering for ourselves? This is when the rubber meets the road. God is not asking us to be door mats, but He is asking us to join Him on the cross.

So where is God calling you to serve Him today? Who is God calling you to reach out to today? Where does God need you to be His hands and feet and voice RIGHT NOW? Pray for His direction, look around at your world and then give without counting the cost.

Dear Jesus, help me to give not for what I get in return, but simply because You call me to be like You. I want to give everything in my life to You and for You. Give me the grace to serve those You put in my sphere of influence today. Amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pure Resistance

“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Hebrews 12: 4

A twelve year old girl is attacked by her older male cousin who attempts to sexually assault her. She resists his advances and pleads with him to stop and not give in to the lust and sin in his heart. In his fury against her stabs her repeatedly with a knife. She dies a few days later after suffering greatly. All for purity. Thus is the story of St. Maria Goretti, patron saint of youth. And the Church holds her up for us as a model of purity, something desperately needed in today’s world wouldn’t you agree?

Yet we sometimes still miss the point. Some people mistakenly think that if they were in a similar situation that they would be sinning if they did not resist to the point of death. Others think that Maria was concerned only for herself because of the social norms of the time—that perhaps after this crime was done to her, she might still carry a stigma of shame for it. But the reality is that Maria was just as concerned about her cousin and his purity as she was for her own. She wanted HIM to go to heaven as well and after the attack she even forgave him and appeared to him in a vision after she died to tell him and to ask him to repent, even after years of prison and bitterness. We may not ever be asked by God to resist sin to the point of shedding our blood, but we are all called to fight against the temptations of impurity.

St. Maria Goretti knew that there is more to this life than meets the eye, and not only did she seek to follow Jesus passionately with a pure heart, she wanted that for others as well. How many of us live this way today? Or do we instead only think of ourselves, our needs and wants, our desires for pleasure? Do we dress the way we want simply because we want to without any regard for how it might impact someone else’s struggles with purity or lust? Do we use others or view others’ bodies as mere objects?

We all have much to learn from this pure little girl who became a martyr and a saint. May we strive to live as she did, from a pure heart, not only for our own salvation, but out of the concern for the salvation of others as well.

Dear Jesus, thank You for the example of St. Maria. Please help me to cooperate with the grace You give me to fight impurity in my life and to help others live purely as well. Amen.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weed Whacking

“He proposed another parable for them. The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.” Matthew 13: 24-26

Can you guess what I did the other day? That’s right, I was weed whacking. And not with one of those fancy, powerful, gas powered string machines (mine is broken), but with an old fashioned woodened-handled bush whacker with a blade at the end like the Grim Reaper. I have a hill on my property that I can’t reach with the lawn tractor and my push mower is on the mend too. So the only way to control the foliage is to whack those weeds. So there I was, back and forth, up and down, hour after hour, whacking those stubborn weeds. And I learned a few things.

First of all, no matter how sharp the blade is, some weeds are just going to bend rather than get cut. Secondly, the more weeds there are together in a cluster, the harder it was to cut them and whack them down. Finally, weeds have deep roots and despite my efforts, they will be back. Talk about discouraging.

I also began thinking about how our lives get weeds in them as well. Perhaps the weeds come in the form of our sins and bad decisions and begin to take root in our hearts and souls and choke-out room for new growth in the Spirit. Sometimes other people cause the weeds to grow: weeds of hurt and pain, weeds of loneliness and abandonment, or weeds of neglect. Finally, weeds grow in our hearts and souls due to things out of our control: sickness or disease, accidents, physical, emotional or mental pain. Things that happen to us that we did not ask for and have no control of stopping and those weeds of discouragement, despair and hopelessness begin to grow in us and cloud our minds and obscure our view.

The problem is that we try to pull those weeds out or try to cut them down by ourselves. We think we should be strong enough to get rid of them. Or we think if we just put enough thought, energy and effort into it, they would be gone forever. But weeds like the ones I just mentioned require more than our feeble power. For even if we were to whack some of them down, they would certainly come back. No, the reality is that you and I need a Divine Cultivator; a Savior to whack down the weeds, then pull out the roots, clear the soil, put in fertilizer and weed prevention and then plant good seeds to replace the weeds and leave no room for them to grow again. Thank goodness we already do. His name is Jesus. If only we would go to Him let Him take control of our lives.

Dear Jesus, help me to recognize the weeds in my life and to let You cut them down and pull them out and make me new again today. Amen.