Birthdays – A matter of life and death

 

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This weekend we had a huge banquet with my family and extended family consisting of four generations, to celebrate my birthday .

Birthdays remind us of why we’re born, of new life, of new beginnings.  My catholic faith allows me to believe that each person has a purpose in life, a God given purpose to do God’s work. Be that by serving God through your family, your work or lifestyle.

I was not worried about growing older but believing and reflecting on all the reasons to be grateful and for the events of the past year. It was a happy time to celebrate my birthday for a great year I have had.

At the top of my list —is my Catholic faith. Our faith does not change my realities of life, pain and death: They still happen. But faith changes how I understand what it is that is actually happening.

Our Catholic faith goes deeper than our intellectual understanding. Our faith is not merely a matter of the mind, but a matter of believing in something that is  a mystery but that is greater than ourselves.

I celebrated blessings of my husband and two beautiful girls, my health, my extended family, my friends, having a roof over my head, by belongings, my car, my pet dog, my work etc..

 

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Life is different when viewed through the eyes of faith. My actions and opinions  have been shaped by my faith. I have a heaven perspective and that impinges in all that I do. Sure I have made mistakes, but I know that with God’s grace I am forgiven.

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The way I view marriage, life and death. The way I treat people, the way I have raised our two children, the way I have conducted myself at work has all come from my rooted catholic faith.

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In these dark days for our country, I am increasingly mindful of the wisdom of our church’s social doctrine. Giving to others when it hurts comes from my faith. Helping someone in need comes from my faith. My volunteer work comes from my faith. My view of “Death” is not doom and gloom. “Death” is going to my eternal home where God is awaiting for my arrival in the time of His choosing. God is my Father – my creator. Heaven is where I will meet up with my awaiting family and friends.

I think of people who are dying or who have no faith and what they must be going through during their end of days. How denying God doesn’t deny the truth.

Getting older has its downsides. The doctor prescribes more pills. The knees and the back can’t handle as much time doing work as I once did. Once you get past 45, you know you are more than halfway home.  I know that death is a door, not a wall.

Still, “Life is a banquet, . It is a banquet, and it is filled with foretastes of an even greater, heavenly banquet.  Even in the rough times this past year, I felt that God and His Son Jesus were there to support me and lead me to the best solution that was heavenly possible. Praying to my creator God can direct the paths I take. Praying to my creator God can bestow grace upon me, my family and friends.

On my birthday it was a good day to celebrate with gratitude to my Creator.

 

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Barrack for gospel joy not just a footy team

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We seem to get busier and busier as the years go by. I know that from experience, house, cars, careers, family, wealth, technology,  can all get in the way of BUILDING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. Life’s materialistic things can be a huge distraction!

Most of us think that we have no need for God. That nothing is out of bounds, that if something is there, that if the media says we need it, we should have it.  However, there are things that are not from God, the tempter is out there, trying to deviate us from the truth , from our creator God to prevent us from building a relationship with Him and His Son Jesus Christ.

LIFE SHOULD BE ABOUT BALANCE….. it’s about including God into our everyday,  not making idols our of our footy teams, money, technology, cars or worshiping ourselves etc……..I was told from a very young age that if there is a will there is a way.

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The gospel does bring me joy. As a parent, the story of the Prodigal Son(The Forgiving Father) Luke 15: 11-32 gave me great comfort, that I didn’t have to do everything on my own, that I can ask God to help me. The gospel of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:4- 6 does remind me that to God I am special, that He will deliver me. The gospel of the Lord is my shepherd, ( Psalm 23) tells me that in my time of darkness God is with me fighting for me.

Some people whom I know have wealth, fame and fortune but are not happy, they are not immune to life’s problems, they seem to have more problems. Things we have made into idols do get in the way of God, do lead us to sin.

Below is a way of looking inwardly and asking ourselves……. are we doing what God would want us to do? Because at the end, all He wants is for us to be united with HIM.

A Self Examination of Conscience – using the 10 Commandments

1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
Have I wanted more things, making things or money more important than God?
Have I made an idol of sports or entertainment figures, etc……?
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Do I use God’s name carelessly?
Do I use God’s name in anger?
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
Did I keep the sabbath holy by going to church?
Did I spend quality time with the family and children?
Have I remembered to pray daily?
4. Honor your father and your mother.
Have I helped my elderly parents without complaining?
Have I done things for them without being reminded?
Have I been disrespectful to others in authority?
5. You shall not kill.
Do I keep my patience or do I lose my temper?
Do I hold grudges and try to get even with others?
Have I been unfair to others, especially those who are different than I am?
6. You shall not commit adultery.
Do I show respect for my body and respect the bodies of others?                                Do I keep my vow of being faithful to my spouse?
7. You shall not steal.
Have I taken something that belongs to someone else?
Have I “forgotten” to return something that I borrowed?
Have I used money responsibly?                                                                                          8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do I live fairly or do I cheat to get ahead ?
Have I been honest or have I lied?
Have I hurt someone by what I have said or done or omitted to do?
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
Have I been jealous of the spouse that someone else has?                                                Have I lusted over someone’s spouse?
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Have I been jealous of the things that my friends have?
Have I compared myself to others, spending money in order keep up with the Jones’?
Have I helped others when they needed help?

BELOW..DENZIL WASHINGTON SAYS…….. “TO PUT GOD FIRST”

 

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RELIGION & MY LIFE SERIES- I LIVE BY THE K.I.S.S. PRINCIPLE

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We all know what the acronym K.I.S.S. means (Keep It Simple Stupid)  to me it makes a lot of sense. This principle transcends generations and I believe I have learned it from my parents.

Now one might think it would be an easy thing to do, but it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I believe it gets easier as you start to internalise it and live it, because after a while it becomes natural, automatic. Here’s how I try to live my life and I don’t believe I have F.O.M.O. ( Fear Of Missing Out) either.

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Praise & Worship……….I make God and His Son Jesus the centre of my life. I base my life on what Jesus would say, do and think.  I try to look at people the way Jesus would see them. The Lord has made the sabbath, a day of rest…that doesn’t mean I can’t work, if my job requires it. It means to make time for the Lord, communicating and thanking Him for everything in my life. To have quality, family time together. Spend time with my spouse and children, give them my undivided attention, make them feel loved and special.

Family….as a parent I have a responsibility to teach and correct my children. I don’t have to be their best friend but someone who cares enough to tell them of their shortcomings. I have a responsibility to ‘call it out’ when they are wrong without fear of repercussions. I have found that my children respect me anyway because they know that I acted out of love and respect for them. That I only wanted what was best for them and now as adults, they have come to appreciate that more and more. I have also tried to stay as friends with extended family members. Nothing is so bad that it can’t be forgiven, that amends can’t be made.

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Technology…….I minimise the use of  computers and phones when I am with family and friends because I believe if they have made the effort to be with me I owe them my attention and respect and actually talk and communicate with them. My husband and I resisted giving our children technology ie. computers, laptops phones, electronic games etc. till they were well into their teens  and with supervised, limited time. I don’t wait for the latest version of I Phone, I Pad etc.. in technology, I stay with simplicity.

Cars….. I am driving my third Toyota 4 wheel drive Suzuki Grand Vitara which has no fancy gizmos, they are simple, smooth, reliable and never breakdown. The more sophisticated and hi tech the cars, the more likely to breakdown, cause delays and cost more to fix. A reliable, sturdy car for me is best.

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Lifestyle……….I try to live by “Kingdom Principles.” I try to live my life for God. Sure I stumble and make mistakes but I pick myself up and keep going, knowing that God is there for me.  Sure friends can affirm me but God validates me not friends. Friends come and go and if they don’t lift me up and celebrate who I am, then I am wasting my time and theirs.

Mealtimes……….are sacred times for my family. From the start, mealtimes have become family time. A time to catch up and listen to each other after a day’s work. So every night we have had dinner together to share. The saying goes that….. “If a family eats together they stay together,” well that couldn’t be truer.

Finances……as a “Kingdom Builder” my money is not my own. It was earned with God’s help. The jobs I have had have been given to me by God. How??? God has aligned people to make it happen for me. So I give to the less fortunate and try to share what I have. i love the principle in there is more pleasure in giving than receiving.  Paying it forward is a great life lesson I have learned and it always comes back to me so I always have more that what I started with.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP…...is the way to live my life. Giving up is not in my vocabulary. I have never given up and I have learned to be creative and find solutions to my problems….. Ask, Seek, Knock Matthew 7:7-8 says  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

PRAYER

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RELIGION & MY LIFE SERIES-THE WORLD DOESN’T OWE ME ANYTHING

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I write because I don’t believe the world owes me anything. Rather, it becomes a question on how I can contribute to the world’s happiness and success.

  1. My happiness depends on me
  2. My wealth depends on me
  3. Respect depends on me
  4. Trust depends on me
  5. Employment depends on me
  6. My health depends on me
  7. My fitness depends on me

Then I think of JFK’s quote

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If health is on my side I can work and seek work until someone gives me a break. I have prayed in the past and people have come my way and given me a job not because I was the most qualified, but I was told later on by my employer that they felt I would be the most trusted. I didn’t prove them wrong.                    Alternatively, I have created my own work. I put a flyer up at my local shopping centre noticeboard for work. Currently I tutor students one on one.

Respect is to be earned, I treat others like I want to be treated. If I show respect then I demand it back . If others don’t respect me then they are wasting my time and theirs.

Trust is also to be earned, I don’t trust anyone until they have earned my trust. Evil is out there, the enemy preys on the weak and tries to steal your joy like a thief in the night.

Image result for bible, the thief comes only to steal like a thief in the night I try to live by “Kingdom principles.” I believe that the kingdom of God can be amongst us, it’s all about what you project and how you can build God’s Kingdom around you.

One way I do this is by living the truth, the truth according to JESUS CHRIST.

I care very much as to what happens to people and my family esp. my children. I care for my elderly mother. I support my children and advise them when they are wrong, without being afraid of the rebuttals.   I donate to the poor. I volunteer at my local church by teaching students who want to learn about God from non -christian schools. I really enjoy it and I try to make it enjoyable for them as well.

I avoid temptation by not getting myself involved with people or places that might lead to temptation. I love simplicity. I enjoy boundaries and I like living within parameters. I believe in prevention rather than the cure. I also believe that people are flawed including myself. I trust in the Trinity :- FATHER, SON & HOLY SPIRIT AND THAT THEY WILL LEAD ME TO THE TRUTH and they have.

One might think that my life is BORING! No it’s not, my life is great and I owe it all to God. Prayer and surrendering to God, communicating with HIM about my life and  asking for help is exactly what God wants. I give praise to Him and try to live my life accordingly. I keep track as to how God is working in my life by the validation I get from HIM and the way He answers my prayers. I try to have a heaven perspective. Planning not just for this temporary life but for my forever life.

In return, God has blessed my life abundantly. I have always had work, I have always had money in my wallet, I have the respect of my family and friends. I have worked hard and enjoyed living in my own home. I have been on some fantastic holidays. I have had the pleasure of having our children wanting to join us as well, and we have had some great family holidays. Recently my mother turned 80 years of age and three generations all went away celebrating her special day together.

LIFE IS GOOD WHEN YOU GIVE IT ALL TO GOD

Prayer

Dear Father God,

You know us better than anyone else, even ourselves, guide our paths and align them with Yours so that we may grow and learn to become the best versions of ourselves. Send your Holy Spirit to infill us afresh with the gifts of love, patience, kindness and right judgement so as to fulfill your will for us and to make us worthy of heaven. AMEN

 

 

RELIGION AND MY LIFE SERIES_Why I go to church

 

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I have heard from family and friends that mass can be boring. That we can pray alone. I can understand why people would think this,  but as I remember……….. going to meetings at work was boring, going to Professional Development sessions was boring, going back to study at university was boring, my graduation was boring, waiting to see my doctor or specialist for 1 hour sometimes 2 hours was boring.  I get it! But think of the purpose and the greater good.

Sometimes we do things because we have to, sometimes we do things because we need help in some area, sometimes we do things because it will add something to our lives. I would like to think that all the above reasons can add to our lives. So I go to church because of what it can add to my spiritual growth and the chain reaction it may effect in my life .

Without church then  it just becomes a Jesus thing, not that there is anything wrong with that, however, Jesus lived a life that encompassed the hebrew tradition of His forefathers and He refers to our Old Testament fathers in the New Testament.

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Reading the bible can be difficult and confusing, I don’t always understand the context, the message nor the Hebrew traditions. Going to church helps unpack all of these and then I go to a bible study group to fellowship and chat with friends for greater understanding.

The truth matters and it should matter to all . If I can do something to help myself then why wouldn’t I do it? When I think about how so many people waste their time in gambling venues, on their phone, watching soap operas and going to beauty therapists, I ask, where is the balance?

At Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the eucharist and the mass, He said…..“Do this in memory of me.” – Jesus (Luke: 22:19). Jesus didn’t say if you have the time, or whenever…. He commanded it.. DO THIS! He said.

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For Jesus to say this, He must have known how important it is, how life saving it can be.

If you really thought about who you are, who God is, and how much thanks you owe Him, you would want to go to Mass. The Mass would become the source and center of your spiritual life.” – James Stenson

The great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, when conducting a retreat for teenagers, once gave a talk on the meaning of the Mass. He said, “If you don’t get anything out of Mass, it’s because you don’t bring the right expectations to it.” The Mass is not entertainment, he said. It is worship of the God who made us and saves us. It is an opportunity to praise God and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

If we have a correct understanding of Mass, Bishop Sheen said, it will become more meaningful for us. We will want to go to Mass. We will understand why the Mass is God’s precious gift to us, and we wouldn’t think of refusing that gift.             (Courtesy of CERC)

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When God is with us in prayer, God’s favour and healing is bestowed upon us, and when it’s done in multitudes, it has a magnifying effect.

If we give God a chance, He will help us experience the tremendous benefits of the Mass and the Eucharist. James Stenson writes: Be patient. Bring an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving to Mass, and you will reap great spiritual riches: consolation, confidence, peace, deep happiness, and spiritual strength for the challenges of life.

I do not want to lose on my salvation. Do you?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Instill in us a hunger for You, a spirit of seeking the absolute truth and to keep holy the Sabbath Day all for the glory of heaven. AMEN

 

 

 

RELIGION & MY LIFE SERIES_MOVIES

When I choose a movie I choose it for the purpose of getting something out of it. It may be affirmation, education, a challenge or light hearted humor. This movie was very affirming for me.( I went to see it at Village_ Sunshine)

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This morning I went to see this movie and I have to say it really hit the mark.            I enjoyed it at many levels.

First because it’s art imitating life, I know of a real nearby church in Maribyrnong, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, Australia that was burned by a disgruntled youth. There are also churches been burned or bombed in other parts of the world today.

I condemn this violence as it’s not helpful and it just causes more pain and it should never be a form of expression no matter what faith it may be.

Second, that we all have doubts and fear in life. We have all been victims of injustices at some time or another. But God is always there waiting to hear from each and everyone of us to answer our doubts and fears. The movie shows this beautifully through Pastor Dave.

Third, that forgiveness is the biggest healer of all. We should never doubt God’s acceptance of us,  His unconditional love and forgiveness.

Fourth, I know families struggling with children and their faith, like Pastor Dave and his lawyer brother. Teenagers doubting the existence of God. I believe that parents need to have real discussions with their children and together be part of a church that is going to deepen their faith.

Next, is the question of whether we have the right to practice our faith. Some say faith can be divisive and it can cause violence. No!!! Religion doesn’t cause violence but the hearts and choices of people does. We should not blame religion for the atrocities of others. We all have a right to practice our religion as stated in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (see article 18 below) http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/                                        I  hate the argument that religion causes wars. These wars were all chosen by men not God. Let’s look at the now!

God is good all the time, it’s people that doubt, question and change. God never changes. Church is very relevant today, more than ever before because the world as it stands today, is in turmoil. I love when Pastor Dave was asked what is truth?  He answered that truth is a person -JESUS CHRIST -who is the true justice warrior.

Jesus’ teachings are very relevant today, they were given to us to help and protect us, not to harm us. Just look at the choices people are making today. Their choices are been driven by what the media is pushing, minority groups, what is fashionable, by stats or by desires, not by what is good, praiseworthy and pleasing to God.

We should all focus on the big picture and have a heaven perspective. This movie helps me focus of the Almighty, All powerful God and Jesus who is like God.

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Dear Lord Jesus,

Everyday helps us to be more like you and fight for what is right and just, according to the gospels you gave us. Give us the answers to all our doubts and fears and forgive all our digressions, through Your Holy Spirit, AMEN.

RELIGION AND MY LIFE SERIES: RELATIVISM

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The oxford meaning of ‘Relativism’ is……The doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.

So looking at this from a moral perspective, this would mean that there is no truth and that it changes as society’s views change…I believe this is ridden with problems.

According to Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict....”Relativism is the idea that there is no universal absolute truth but that truth differs from person to person and culture to culture. In other words, truth is relative to what each person or culture thinks. who warned  “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Relativism is a poison. It attacks our most human capacity, the capacity to seek and know the truth, including the moral truth.  It’s the greatest problem of our time sais Joseph Ratzinger- Pope Benedict)

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For a family to grow and thrive, it must have a set of values and beliefs that ensure the smooth running of its household for the benefits of all its family members. To do this it must have a common understanding of what is right and what is wrong, what to do and what not to do under given circumstances.

But could this be true of any workplace, establishment, society or country etc.?       I would say YES!! Because without a system of beliefs, values and a common understanding, how would its employees, members, participants etc. come to the truth? How would they come to some consensus? How could any family , or institution function? How could they be fair and just?  Again, having a common set of beliefs would assist, enhance the teamwork, involvement, productivity etc. Companies, schools, establishments, workplaces  have vision and mission statements to differentiate them from the rest . I deem this to be necessary of society as well. I’m not sure how all would function without a common set of values and beliefs.  All would collapse, all would not be able to function and thrive.

So then what is the truth??????????????????????? Many today think that science is the only truth, that if it cannot be verified then it’s just an opinion or it’s subjective.

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One of the greatest manifestation of this is the question of what is evil/right/wrong/? Just take a look at this youtube video (below)

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Shouldn’t parents have the right to hold on to their child? Countries who have had euthanasia laws well established, have people going into hospitals wearing badges saying “Please don’t euthanize me.” People should have the right to choose according to their values and beliefs?  Where there is life there is hope. That hope was taken away from Alfie’s parents. Similar situations would come under abortion, euthanasia, marriage, gender issues and more.

This belief that truth evolves and that there are no absolutes would be difficult to live to, this would lead us to believe that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself but that there is only better than and worse than….Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstance and on the evil in view. Anything can be good or bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences and in the process it ceases to exist. ( Joseph Ratzinger 2008)

So how do we get around this?????? Jesus gives us the model to live by for all civilizations. Much of which his model is based on common core values of: love, hope and charity, respect, pro life and more, gospel truths that have been handed down from Jesus Christ using over 2000 years of intelligence.

No matter what faith one might have, these rules and themes as handed down by Jesus Christ, are universal. Who wouldn’t want to uphold love, hope and charity, respect or pro life issues? These can unite us and lead us to Jesus Christ who leads us to the absolute truth and to our Heavenly Father in Heaven. . Show me your evidence that negates this?

All churches, families, workplaces, or any establishment who serve people should adopt these values and not water them down because it is not fashionable.

Here are some problems. When relativists apply and start imposing their opinions unto others, problems surface, because where then is that common set of beliefs?  Which is right, your view or mine?As a relativist, why should anyone adopt or believe in someone who imposes their views? So why should anyone conform?????

So, how does all this relate to my life? Well, in my own family Jesus is the centre, he is our model to live by.  These values are the ones that I have tried to instill in my children.

As for the workplace, first I tried to find a place with the above values and when the workplace didn’t uphold them, I upheld them and tried to bring Jesus into the situation. I left the workplace when the common core values were not upheld or were not aligned with my faith. When it got tough, I prayed that Jesus would lead me to the next stage of my life and He always has in His timing not mine.

When sitting amongst friends and colleagues and the conversation because contentious, I politely bring facts and the truth to it. I try to evangelise as much as I can. I volunteer at my church and instruct students from  ages 8-11 years about my faith. The rest is up to them and whether they are open to the truth.

If people don’t believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and Their Spirit, then it becomes their responsibility to search for the truth. I’m still discovering and getting a better understanding of Jesus’s message because I’ve joined a bible group to help me grow in understanding. God is good because when He created us He programmed us for Him no matter what your beliefs are. God will bring opportunities to you via media, other people, a song, a report  etc.

At Election time, I research the parties’ candidates to see what their beliefs and world view is and then I vote for the candidae/party that best represent my views. I write letters to politicians and sign petitions.

Finally, I can live in the word but not be of the world and I try to have a heaven perspective.

PRAYER:

Dear Father in Heaven, make us strong and steadfast in avoiding temptation.      Lead us to the absolute truth and to reject new age philosophies that lead us to false beliefs which ignore the gospel truths of Your Son Jesus Christ. AMEN.