Join us as we see where God is present in our lives. We most definitely aren't walking with Him in the Garden of Eden despite the fact that so many are shedding clothes instead of covering themselves up. However I am willing to bet that God is closer to us than we think and that He has genuinely planted truth in the flesh of our hearts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day - The Price of Freedom

Today in the United States, we observe Memorial Day.  For many, Memorial Day is simply a day off from school/work, an opportunity to relax, bbq, and unofficially bring in the summer.  However, I think it's important for us to remember the real reason behind this very important holiday.  Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to remember all of those incredibly brave men and women who gave their lives defending our nation, who gave their lives defending our freedom.

We don't live in a perfect nation, but I think we can all agree that the freedom we enjoy here in the United States of America is a truly beautiful thing.  We are able to worship in the churches we choose, watch television which hasn't been government censored, marry the people we choose.  The United States is a land of opportunity, a land where we are free to pursue our American Dream, a land where anything is possible.  Let's make sure we don't forget those who gave their blood so that we could enjoy this land of freedom.

I think Memorial Day is also a great opportunity for us to remember that Jesus Christ also shed his blood so that we could enjoy a life of freedom.  Jesus didn't die so that we could enjoy freedom of speech or the right to a trial by jury...Jesus died so that we could be free to live in the love of God.  The blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross destroyed the power that sin and death have over us, preventing anything from separating us from the love of God.  We have been freed by the blood of Christ.

"To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to Him be glory and power forever. Amen."
-Revelation 1:5-6

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Katy Perry - "Part of Me"

I'm a pretty big Katy Perry fan myself, and I have to admit this song is one of my favorites.  Not only is it super catchy but it's packed with emotion.  It gives us a glimpse into how much pain has been left in her heart following her divorce with Russell Brand.  So much has been taken from her that she could never get back.  She says in the first verse "You took my light, you drained me down."  What a terribly painful this experience must have been for her.

Regardless of whether or not you like Katy Perry as a person, I think that we can all say we've had experiences which took our light and drained us down, times when life seems totally unfair, when it seems like everything is working completely against us...enduring the death of a loved one, getting laid off from work, getting past a difficult breakup, failing an important exam...sometimes life just seems impossibly hopeless, like it's trying to break us down and tear us apart.  We all go through moments like this, but I love the message behind the refrain of this song which suggests that no matter what life throws at us, it cannot totally defeat us...

"This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever break away from me, no.  This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever break away from me, no.  Throw your sticks and your stones, throw your bombs and your blows, but you're not gonna break my soul. This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me, no."

No matter what life throws at us, we need to remember that nothing at all can take away the love of God that lives within us.  "Life" can take away our possessions, security, peace of mind, even our loved ones, but it can never take away God's love from us.  Why is that?  Because we are so sure of our faith and are trying so hard to love God with our lives? No.  The reason why the love of God within us is so unbelievably strong, unbreakable even, is because God loves us.  Nothing we do could ever stop God from loving us, He proved this to us when he died on the cross for us rather than try to risk spending an eternity without us!  We read very clearly in 1 John:9-10 "In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son as expiation for our sins."  Nothing could ever stop God from loving us, nothing could ever take that away from us...God loves us too much to ever let us get away.  

"Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me as much as you do.  Help me to better appreciate what a treasure my relationship with you really is.  Guide me during my darkest moments to see the light of your love that burns within me."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Avengers - I've Got Your Back

I finally saw The Avengers today and I definitely wasn't disappointed!  It didn't take very long for me to fall in love with one of the highest grossing movies of all time.  Everything from the amazing characters and actors, to the intense and suspenseful plot, and even the moments of witty humor combined to make this, in my humble opinion, an incredible movie!

The main premise of the movie is that by putting together all of Earth's most amazing superheros into an epic team called "The Avengers", Earth would be prepared to tackle the potentially dangerous forces of the universe, such as Loki, when they threaten the safety of our planet.  In this movie we see Ironman, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye team up to defeat Loki and save the human race.

As amazing as they are, these guys make a pretty strange team.  They spend a good part of the first half of the movie arguing with each other.  Thor battles Ironman, Ironman and Captain America bicker constantly, Thor fights the Hulk in an attempt to control the Hulk's rage, they can't seem to agree on very much.  They aren't the perfect team, they aren't even really best of friends, but when they combine their forces they are literally able to do the impossible.

This movie can be seen as a beautiful example of the importance of teamwork, showing that if we pool our gifts and talents we can accomplish so much.  However, I want to look at it in a different way.  For me, The Avengers is a perfect example of our very real need to accept help from others when we are most in need.  Watching this movie I couldn't help but notice countless moments where one of these characters showed up just in time to save another who was in desperate need.  This happens over and over throughout the movie with all the characters, but the instance which struck me the most was when Captain America saved Ironman on the helicarrier.  The only way to fix the helicarrier's broken engine (and save everyone aboard) was for Ironman to get inside the giant fan and get in running again.  However, this would mean risking getting shred into pieces by the fan itself unless Captain America could pull the lever to temporarily slow down the fan speed in time for Ironman to escape the fan's blades.  In an epic scene, Captain America gets to the lever just moments before Ironman is killed, and Ironman returns the favor by taking out an enemy who was trying to kill Captain America the whole time.  It was such a fast, but awesome scene, as these two characters saved each other's lives, as well as everyone aboard the helicarrier!

Stepping back, I was really touched seeing how as each of these characters faced moments of real danger and vulnerability someone was there for them.  Had either Ironman or Captain America tried to face this scene alone they would have failed miserably and died.  Fortunately for them, they never had to face this battle by themselves.  Someone was there for them to pick them up, to rescue them when they were most in danger.  This happens repeatedly to all the different characters throughout the movie.  Just when someone is in real danger, someone else shows up just in time to help them, to protect them, to save them.

I think sometimes it's hard for us to accept help, even when we really need it.  Sometimes it could be about pride, we don't want to admit how much we need help which would show our weakness, or maybe because we don't want to burden the ones we love with our problems.  Regardless, I think this movie made me think about how loved we really are.  When we need help, God's grace provides it, sometimes in ways we never would have thought possible.  Our task is to accept that help, to allow the grace of God to pick us up, to help us, to protect us, to save us.

Think about a time in your life where you felt in danger, vulnerable, defeated.  Who are the angels that God sent to you?  God loves us too much to let us face these dark moments by ourselves.  How much do we believe in that amazing love of God?  How much do we believe in the love that our family and friends have for us?  How amazing is it that God doesn't let us endure such difficulties on our own, but sends us angels to be by our side...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


All artists seem to have a song about overcoming adversity, about soaring above the critics, about friends who turn to enemies. It makes sense, especially since music expresses one's feelings and these feelings are common to us all.

When I saw this music video just seconds ago on MTV-Hits it immediately struck a cord with me.

"Everybody wanna try to box me in... I'm not a word, I'm not a line, I'm not a girl that can ever be defined. I am not fly, I am levitation. I represent an entire generation. I hear the criticism loud and clear, that is how I know the time is near...Cry my eyes out for days upon days. Such a heavy burden was placed upon me. But when you go hard your nay's become yay's"

Her words speak for themselves. What stands out the most is her reminder to us to be our unique selves. The journey I have been on has been crazy and all over the place. Though sometimes I wish I could just blend with the crowd, I realize that by doing so I no longer thrive. I think it's important to realize what Nicki is saying in the above line. We are not defined by one word or one phrase. We are not boxed into a certain category and defined as such. WE ARE DEFINED BY GOD! He had a plan for you when he formed you in your mother's womb.

One of the T-Shirts we sell at my work has a simple, but profound slogan on it, "Labels are for jars, not for people."

If you struggle with self-esteem remember that God loved you into being. Be true to yourself and embrace it so one day you can be levitation, you can win, thrive, and soar high!

If you're who is quick to judge based on appearance or ability, try opening your mind a little. You're not perfect, so why should they. Judgments not made out of love are crippling.

It's been two thousand years since Jesus came, teaching us to love our neighbors and to look past the labels of tax-collector, pharisee, woman caught in adultery, leper, child, and widow and see what God sees; yet we still don't listen. We are still too quick to judge and put down.

I challenge us all to work on loving our neighbor. In order to do that I ask that you actively try to understand the other person. Get to know them, their story, their life, their struggles. That's what Jesus would have wanted you to do. He sees the potential in us all, instead of us locking it in, let's release it and do as Jesus wished, that when he returns to us this world may already be on fire for him!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Love - Lil Wayne

I have to admit, when I first heard this song on the radio, I went nuts hearing Lil Wayne's voice (an not in a good way). I made a judgment prematurely thus deciding that the song would be stupid and shallow. However, I took the time to watch this music video.  It was so worth it.

We are in a time where religion and faith in God are questioned, but it is great to see that Love is still teaching us. Even in our mistakes or hardships love is still present and without it, we can be led astray. True love is merely a guise of God's presence in our lives. I don't know about you, but for me when I love someone it's because I see God in them at work in their lives and in mine as well.

Let the video speak for itself. All I wish to add is to be open to God. Anytime during Communion, I pray that the Lord fill me with his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and that he teaches me daily how to love and give of myself as he did. Do the same. Allow God to transform your heart so as to prepare you for love, a true love that is everlasting!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soul Surfer

I recently saw this movie, Soul Surfer, a true and quite inspiring story about a promising young surfer (Bethany Hamilton) who loses her arm in a shark attack. It is a very emotional film, portraying Beth's journey from being one of the best surfers in Hawaii, to her near death experience with the shark, to her attempts to relearn how to do so many basic tasks with just one arm, to her getting back in the water and surfing again. Even more incredible is that this is a true story.

This is the type of movie that doesn't need a written analysis...it stands on its own as a beautiful Nugget of Truth. Beth's amazing journey and personal growth, coupled with the centrality of her Christian faith in her life, make for a truly inspiring story. It is a movie I would recommend to anyone. However, there was one quote that Beth offers during her struggle to relearn how to surf with only one arm that struck me in a special way. As Beth is committing herself to get back in the water and learn to surf again, her family of course reminds her how difficult a task this will be with only one arm. At this point Beth beautifully tells her parents...

"I don't need easy, I just need possible."

Keeping in mind the fact that Beth literally almost died, and is now forced to go through the rest of her life with just one arm, I am absolutely amazed that she can find the determination to utter this statement. Nobody would have blamed Beth for rolling over and given up, but she says very clearly that she doesn't care how difficult it is, she will not give up surfing, something which brings her so much joy. It doesn't need to be easy, just possible. Sounds almost like a very famous scripture passage..."I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

If I truly believe that God loves me, that He loves me enough to help and guide me along every step of my life...I really don't need to be afraid. Beth knew that even though the road towards surfing again seemed incredibly difficult, God would be walking right alongside her. Do I believe that? Do I believe that God loves me so much that He is not only watching over me and listening to me, but that He is walking alongside me....no...that He lives within me? When I receive Jesus' body and blood in the Eucharist, God actually lives within me. If Jesus loves me so much that He would actually enter into my heart, what is there to fear?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jim Thome's 600th Home Run

Last night Jim Thome became just the 8th person in baseball history to hit 600 career home runs. From now on Thome's name will forever be listed alongside some of the greatest players in baseball history, including Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays.

Thome accomplishes this great feat in the midst of one of the darkest time periods in professional baseball - the steroids era. It is a time period where we have been let down by so many of our favorite stars, finding out that some of the greatest players in the game are nothing but cheaters. This has led us to believe that no home run hitter can be trusted. Every home run that's hit makes us wonder if it was done as a result of real hard work and sweat or simply with the aid of performance enhancing drugs. It is an era of baseball that has been crying out for a beacon of hope, for someone who can prove to the fans that great home run hitters who aren't cheaters, still exist. I believe that person could very well be Jim Thome.

Unlike Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and so many others, Tim Thome has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. He is a man who throughout his career has been nothing but a class act. He is a genuinely good person, a great ballplayer and a positive influence for his teammates in the clubhouse. No, he will never hit the 762 home runs Barry Bonds, and he never dominated the media like A-Rod, but that doesn't matter. Jim Thome is a man that fans can believe in, a beacon of light during very dark times.

Obviously this historic home run excites me because I am an avid baseball fan, but I think there is also a clear connection between Jim Thome's baseball career and our lives as Christians. I referred to Thome as "a beacon of light during very dark times" (a phrase which I admit I took from Sportscenter)...isn't that exactly what we are called to be as Christians? Jesus tells us very clearly in Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world". Thome didn't get the recognition that he deserved throughout his career, just as you and I probably won't be noticed for the good things we do with out lives. However, it's not the fame or the glory that's important...but rather being the best person you can be, the best and brightest light to the world you can be.