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This Too Shall Pass (Turning Your Mountains Back Into Molehills)

For the world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:31)

What are your greatest sources of worry or concern? Without knowing the specifics, I would be willing to bet that your answer will involve things of the world – people, circumstances, “what if’s”, etc. If that’s the case, Paul’s words should make you feel better.

Even though we need to deal with the problems of this world, we should take consolation in the fact that we’re not going to be here forever. We were created to live in heaven and will only live on earth for a relatively short period of time. Furthermore, all of our earthly problems (the ones that are keeping us up at night) are temporary. They will either be gone in this life or when your life on earth is over.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed some thoughts about this topic…

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

Every minute spent focusing on things that won’t last is a minute not spent focusing on things that will. If we listen to Jesus (and Paul) and reorder our priorities, we will not only have greater peace, but we’ll ensure that we end up in the right place when our life on earth is over.

5 Positive Things You Can Count On In 2021

It’s 2021, how are things going for you? For many people, leaving 2020 behind hasn’t produced the hoped for satisfaction. So many things went wrong in the past year that it was almost taken for granted that the current year had to be better. Now that we’re here, however, things don’t look all that different. In fact, a strong argument can even be made that things have gotten worse. Don’t panic. By shifting our focus, I believe that our hope can be restored and it will become clear that 2021 will be a great year.

With that in mind, here are 5 Positive Things You Can Count On In 2021:

1. Lent – It’s not always viewed as something positive, but Lent is a great opportunity to grow close to God. On Ash Wednesday, for the third year in a row, I’ll be kicking off my Give Up Worry For Lent movement. Based on my book, this daily program is designed to lead people from FEAR to FAITH. The response has been tremendous (the book has sold out for the past two years) and thousands of individuals are learning that it’s possible to leave worry behind as they run into the arms of a loving Father.

2. Easter – Much larger than a single day or even a season, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ represents the defeat of death. Think about that for a minute. Even death is no big deal for Jesus. How amazing is that? No COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil or political unrest will change the fact that Jesus has won the victory over death.

3. Heaven – Even though we’re only a few weeks into the new year, numerous people have already died and entered the Kingdom of Heaven. We may not know conclusively who they are, but we do know that heaven is open for business in 2021. Because the Savior has won the battle and unlocked the gates of heaven, it is now possible for us to go there as soon as we die.

4. Jesus – The Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). That implies that He still heals, guides and works miracles in 2021. That will never change!

5. Hope – If you can read this, you are still alive. This is proof that God loves you and has provided for all your needs from the time you were conceived until the present. Furthermore, since your life isn’t over, there is hope that whatever you’re facing right now can turn around.

Not everything you wished for will come true in 2021, but you can count on these 5 things being written in stone. Because of that, you can be sure that this is going to be a great year!

“Listen To Me!” (Jesus)

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“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

It’s hard to misinterpret what Jesus is saying in this Bible passage. It really boils down to three things.

  1. We WILL have storms in life.
  2. If we listen to His words and act on them, we will be able to withstand the storms.
  3. If we ignore His words, we will fall apart.

Jesus said many things, but let’s start with one of my favorites – “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Matthew 6:34) Note that He didn’t say “I hope you don’t worry” or “try not to worry”. He said “DO NOT worry about tomorrow”. That implies that we have some degree of control over our anxiety about what might happen tomorrow. And we do.

How will you respond to this command from Jesus? You can either ignore it or obey it. You can worry or you can pray. Two choices. Your decision. Choose wisely!

Don’t Get Discouraged…

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The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’” (Judges 7:2)

God understands our tendency to take credit for the great things He
accomplishes in our lives. If not corrected this can lead to a false sense of self-sufficiency. Once that happens we are only a few steps away from distancing ourselves from him and ceasing to pray.

I shared my thoughts on this verse in Stop Worrying and Start Living. Here’s an excerpt…

“Because he is all-loving, God often reminds us that we need him. If you are discouraged because you’ve committed the same sin for the millionth time or you’ve done poorly on a job interview that you thought was a sure thing, let it serve as a reminder of just how much you need God’s help. Let your weaknesses and defeats lead you to the loving arms of your heavenly Father. With his help you can do all things!”

From time to time you will fail. Don’t get discouraged. It’s all part of God’s plan.

Come To Me…

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the above invitation from Jesus. Taken from the gospel of today’s Mass, it’s an offer too good to pass up.

Are you tired of feeling weary and burdened? Spend some time with Jesus today. Surrender your problems and your entire life to Him. Ask Him to give you the rest that He promised.

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is.

Don’t Just Do Something…Stand There!

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“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Most worry-prone individuals like to be in control. This often results in an excessive desire to be busy and get things done. For this type of person, the thought of being still can be a painful one. But, here’s the deal. Unless you can force yourself to take a break and spend time with God, you’ll never get to know Him. Furthermore, you will never be at peace.

Here’s what I wrote in Stop Worrying and Start Living…

In the past I would only pray when I felt like it or when I wasn’t busy. Now I choose to spend some quiet time with Jesus every day, no matter what. Even though it can be extremely difficult to sit still when e-mails have to be answered and writing deadlines met, I choose to do it anyway. Through this act of self-discipline, my relationship with him has grown, and I can feel his presence in my life more deeply. I know the frustration that comes from running around and trying to control every area of my life, and I also know the peace that comes from spending quiet time in God’s presence.

Over the past few months, many of us have been forced to take a break and be still. Global pandemics have a way of doing that. But here’s a question for you. Have you been making good use of your downtime? It’s great that you’re spending more time with your family, cleaning your house and sprucing up your lawn, but how much time have you spent working on your relationship with God?

Before things get back to normal and you find yourself rushing around again, why not try to spend some time praying and reading the Bible? Reflect on the fact that God loves you and is in control of your life. Share your worries with Him and ask for the grace to deal with your problems. You may never have an opportunity like this again. Don’t waste it!

The Danger Of Loving “Stuff”

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)

No doubt about it, this is a tough message. Many individuals look at the words of St. John and reject them as being too harsh. After all, didn’t God create the world? What could be wrong with loving his creation?

Here’s what I wrote in Stop Worrying and Start Living

“This message is all about desire. If my ultimate goal in life is to serve God, I am in good shape. On the other hand, pursuing riches and fame in order to live a life of comfort is problematic. While there is nothing sinful about earning a good living, it should never be more important than your relationship with God. Lasting peace can be found in him alone.”

“Loving the world” means putting “stuff” before God. We all do it at times. Today, let’s just try to do it a little less. It really will give you more peace.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

The Lord Is My Shepherd!

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The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

I have often heard that Psalm 23 is the most popular of all the psalms, but I never tried to substantiate that claim. Deciding to finally put it to the test, I did a Google search for “most popular psalm” and Psalm 23 was at the top of every list! What is it about this psalm that makes it so popular?

I shared some of my thoughts in Stop Worrying and Start Living. Here’s an excerpt…

“Slowly reading and reflecting on the words of this psalm has brought me peace time and time again. And while I do recommend reading all of the verses, the first verse sums up the overall message in a succinct way: If I have God in my life, I have all that I need.”

If all this is true, you may ask, why do I feel so unsettled? Reading this psalm does bring me peace, but sometimes I still feel really “needy” once I close my Bible. Why is that?

In my opinion, we often focus more on what we don’t have than what we do have. Life is filled with distractions, and we can easily lose sight of the presence of God. Spend some time with Him today and you might realize that many of your wants aren’t really that important after all. If you have God in your life, you have all you need.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

FAITH, Not Fear!

Are you struggling to find peace in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic?

I am thrilled to announce that I have been asked to lead a 2 night online Mini-Conference sponsored by the Women of Grace Benedicta Institute for Women!

Join me on March 25 and March 26, 2020 from 7:30 – 9:00 PM ET as I’ll help you to make the journey from FEAR to FAITH. I will be joined by Fr. Nathan Cromly on the first night and by Fr. Mitch Pacwa on the second night.

Click HERE to register for this Mini-Conference and get ready to move from FEAR to FAITH!

Are You Ready For Lent?

It’s hard to believe, but Lent is upon us! Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were enjoying the warmth of the summer sun or looking forward to Christmas? Now, it’s suddenly time to head into the desert and walk with Jesus as He prepares to carry His cross, die and rise from the dead!

The first recorded words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel remind us that, ready or not, it’s time to make a decision:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Even if you have already chosen what you will be giving up (or doing) for Lent, I recommend that you take a close look at the above words. There are four important messages contained in this sentence.

Let’s take a look at each of them…

The time is fulfilled – Ready or not, Lent is here. I don’t know about you, but I like the fact that Lent has a concrete starting point. Otherwise, I would be tempted to put off doing all those things I should be doing to grow spiritually. The fact that Ash Wednesday begins on a specific calendar date gives me a sense of urgency about getting my spiritual life in order.

The Kingdom of God is at hand – With all of the craziness going on around us, it’s easy to lose sight of the nearness of God. Our life doesn’t have to be chaotic for us to become distracted. If we’re not careful, daily chores and responsibilities can consume our attention and cause us to lose sight of God’s presence. Jesus is reminding us that we don’t have to travel to a secluded island or an elaborate cathedral to encounter him. He is with us in the messiness of daily life.

Repent – This is an interesting word. Typically, we associate repentance with sin. While that can certainly be true, the Greek word used by Mark in his original manuscript (metanoéō) has a broader meaning. It literally means to “change one’s mind” or “think differently afterwards”. Faced with the knowledge that Lent is beginning and that God’s kingdom is near, Jesus challenges us to a radical conversion. Not only are we instructed to change our deeds (through acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving), but the way we think as well.

Believe in the Gospel – It’s way too easy to dismiss this command as a “no brainer”, but that would be a huge mistake. Once again, the original Greek manuscript gives us some powerful insight. The word rendered in English as “believe” actually means “have faith in, trust in or have confidence in” in Greek. Can you imagine if you went into Lent with the goal of having greater trust in Jesus? It would be absolutely life-changing.

If you haven’t decided what to give up for Lent, I have a suggestion. My latest book, Give Up Worry For Lent, was recently ranked in the Top 100 of all books for sale on Amazon! While I am completely humbled and awestruck by that ranking, it shows that people are looking for the supernatural peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety, I am honored that the Lord has chosen me to share this message with the world.

If you’re someone who tends to worry, I invite you to pick up a copy of the book and let’s walk together through the Lenten season. One day at a time, we’ll surrender control of our lives to the Lord. Instead of worrying about things that are out of our control, we’ll cast our cares on him. In other words, we’ll do our part and let Jesus do his part.

If you’re not a worrier, ask the Holy Spirit for the best way to respond to Jesus during the Lenten season. The time is now. The kingdom is near. Are you willing to allow your thoughts to be guided by the Holy Spirit so that you can think differently? Are you able to express confidence and trust in him?

I have a decision to make and so do you. The Lord clearly lays out what is needed for his followers. Lent gives us a chance to make it happen. What is your decision?

Have a blessed Lent. I’ll be praying for you. Please pray for me too!