The Secret To A Great Advent

Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. (Isaiah 35:4)

Well, it’s Advent. Now what? Even if we know that Advent is a season of preparation, we’re not always sure how to proceed. What can we do to make sure that our Advent is successful?

After praying about it, I have identified 5 components necessary for a good Advent. As is typically the case with spiritual recommendations, these suggestions are simple to understand, but not always easy to implement.

Awareness – I need to be aware that something is missing in my life and recognize that Jesus can make a difference.

Desire – Once I acknowledge that I have needs that only Jesus can meet, I must desire to welcome Him more fully into my life.

Expectation – I need to believe that Jesus will respond to my desire by showing up and making a difference.

Determination – In order for Jesus to work in my life, I must resolve to do everything in my power to make room for Him.

Patience – Advent is a season of waiting. Jesus operates on His own schedule. I have to accept that I can’t force Him to act in a certain way at a specific time.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be working on this together. In the meantime, let’s continue to pray that simple prayer we discussed yesterday. If you invite Him, He will show up.

Come, Lord Jesus!

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Are You Struggling To Believe?

“Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” (Luke 7:7)

Even though I’ve heard the story of Jesus healing the centurion’s servant many times, there’s something I didn’t notice until today. Jesus and the centurion never meet face to face. All of their communication takes place through other people. For that matter, Jesus isn’t physically present with the seriously ill servant either. Yet somehow, the healing takes place.

Even though he was a powerful man, the centurion was humble enough to know that there was Someone who was more powerful. Furthermore, he was willing to turn to that Someone for assistance. He believed that Jesus could heal his servant just by speaking the word. No evidence was needed. He didn’t even need to see Jesus. He believed.

In the end, the centurion’s request was granted and his servant was healed. Even though he didn’t see Jesus in the flesh, he still believed in His healing power. I’d like to tell you my faith in Jesus is that strong, but I don’t think it is. In spite of that, this story gives me hope.

No matter where we fall on the faith spectrum, we can learn something from the story of the centurion and his servant. In this story we have documented proof that it’s not necessary to see Jesus in order for a healing to take place. It’s just necessary to ask. If you or someone you know needs a healing, please ask. Jesus can do it.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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Need Peace? Try This…

Let the peace of Christ control your hearts. (Colossians 3:15)

LET the peace of Christ control your heart.

It’s way too easy to overlook the first word of this verse and turn Paul’s command into some sort of fluffy platitude. Please don’t make that mistake. If you’re lacking peace right now, there’s a good chance that you’re glossing over that extremely important three-letter word.

In order for the peace of Christ to control your heart you have to do something. It is not automatic. I know, because I wrestle with this every day. The peace of Christ comes to us as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, but only if we make a conscious effort to receive it.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been immersed in several ongoing situations involving members of my extended family. And, while these serious and extremely ugly problems don’t affect me, Eileen or the girls directly, they are causing major suffering to people we care about. In order to maintain my peace and sustain my hope that all of this can work out, I’ve been required to pivot on a daily basis with the help of Christian music, prayer, Bible reading and daily Mass. I’ve been doing all of these things for a long time, but it’s really coming in handy now. Making that deliberate effort lets the peace of Christ (and not ugly, painful and very real problems) control my heart.

I’ve written about this many times in the past and it’s something I’ve seen play out in my life over and over again. If you want to be at peace, you must spend more time focusing on God than on your problems. That doesn’t mean that you ignore your problems. It means that you don’t allow them to become bigger than they are.

God loves you, God is with you and God is bigger than any problem you will ever face. You will get through whatever you’re facing. Stop looking that the crashing waves that are battering your boat and start looking at Jesus. You may not be able to see Him with your eyes, but He’s every bit as real as that problem that’s taking away your peace.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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Good News For Those Who Are Hopeless…

Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:19)

When I read this earlier today, my mind was blown. It’s not the first time I heard these words, but it sure felt like it. And, while I knew that I was supposed to share this verse with you, the specifics didn’t come to me until I was at daily Mass. Almost instantly, I felt the Holy Spirit laying on my heart the three ingredients necessary for prayers of petition – healing, humility and hope.

Healing – Something is broken and needs to be fixed. It could involve almost anything – an illness, a broken relationship, a financial need, loneliness, anxiety, depression, discouragement, hopelessness, habitual sin, our relationship with God, etc.

Humility – We need to recognize that we are incapable of fixing the problem on our own, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fixable. This recognition should motivate us to turn to the One who can fix all problems – Jesus.

Hope – As can be seen in the above Bible verse, Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. That should give hope to all of us who approach Him with our needs. We WILL receive a healing.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I am fully aware that it could be severe. In fact, you could be somewhere between discouragement and full-blown hopelessness. Even if you’re doing okay, you probably know someone who isn’t.

Here’s what I feel the Lord is trying to tell us in this verse – if you approach Jesus humbly asking for healing, you will be healed. It might not happen instantly and it might be the healing you expect, but I believe that you will be healed. There’s just too much Biblical evidence to believe otherwise. Don’t lose hope. You will receive the right healing at the right time.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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If You’re Suffering…

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)

While there’s nothing wrong with asking God to take away your suffering (after all, that’s what Jesus did), there are times when He allows it to continue. When you find yourself in that situation, this verse can be a great source of comfort. Before you get to that point, however, you may find yourself wrestling with the following – How could Paul possibly rejoice in his suffering and how could Christ’s sacrifice be incomplete?

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

Paul was in no way insinuating that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was incomplete. Christ did exactly what was required to redeem us. As members of the mystical body of Christ (the Church), however, you and I have been given the privilege of helping him with his mission, and one of the ways we do this is by offering up our sufferings. Paul understands the value of suffering. He rejoices not because he enjoys the pain, but because he knows he is helping Jesus.

If you’re suffering right now, you probably don’t feel like rejoicing. You may not even feel like helping Jesus. In all honesty, you probably just want your suffering to go away. Don’t feel bad about feeling that way. It just means that you’re human. What Paul is getting at in this verse doesn’t involve feelings, but an act of the will. No matter how you feel, you can choose to rejoice in your suffering and offer it up. It’s been my experience that pushing past the pain and choosing to follow Paul’s advice almost always results in greater peace.

As always, you are in my daily prayers. You will get through whatever you’re facing. Don’t hesitate to email me (Gary@FollowingTheTruth.com) if you need some reassurance.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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Why Doesn’t Jesus Heal Everyone?

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. (Luke 4:40)

When addressing the topic of bodily healing, it’s extremely tempting to do a lot of “tap dancing” in order to avoid the proverbial elephant in the room – we have all prayed for someone who did not get better. I experienced it first hand in 2002 with the death of my father. Where do we go from there?

Despite what we may have experienced, however, there is plenty of Biblical evidence to support the belief that Jesus desires to bodily heal those who are sick. Because of that evidence, I always pray for that healing when I learn of someone who is ill.

It may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but I don’t believe that to be the case and here’s why – even though all the Biblical evidence supports Jesus’ ability and desire to heal the sick, sometimes it is more beneficial for Him to either delay or deny the bodily healing.

In the gospels, Jesus sometimes heals in stages (the blind man in Mark 8:22-26), sometimes the healing is delayed (the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 who weren’t healed until they left Jesus’ presence). Jesus even allowed Lazarus to die (John 11:1-45) because He had something greater in mind.

The process of healing is a mystery. I don’t know why some individuals are restored to health immediately and others aren’t. What I do know, however, is that every time someone approached Jesus asking for a healing (either for themselves or someone else), a healing was granted. Even Lazarus (who was allowed to die) was granted something even better than a bodily healing – resurrection from the dead.

So much of our faith in Jesus involves trust. Sometimes we aren’t able to understand why He does what He does. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus can heal the sick. And, based on that, I will continue to ask Him to do so. But because He sees the big picture, however, I’m going to trust Him when that bodily healing is delayed or doesn’t take place. I really do believe that He knows how to deliver the right healing at the right time.

I’ll close with one final thought. We typically pray for healing to ease suffering and bring about peace of mind, but there are many healthy people in the world who are miserable and many chronically or terminally ill people who are totally at peace. Sometimes the healing we seek isn’t the one we really need. Jesus always knows the type of healing that is needed. That’s a very good thing.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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Give Up Worry For Good – On Demand!

Would you like to walk through Give Up Worry For Good with Gary Zimak as your personal guide? Now you can! All you have to do is purchase the book HERE and follow each of the daily links below. The links will supplement the material in the book with a daily podcast and additional reflection. That’s all there is to it!

Week 1, Day 1

Week 1, Day 2

Week 1, Day 3

Week 1, Day 4

Week 1, Day 5

Week 1, Day 6

Week 1, Day 7

Week 2, Day 1

Week 2, Day 2

Week 2, Day 3

Week 2, Day 4

Week 2, Day 5

Week 2, Day 6

Week 2, Day 7

Week 3, Day 1

Week 3, Day 2

Week 3, Day 3

Week 3, Day 4

Week 3, Day 5

Week 3, Day 6

Week 3, Day 7

Week 4, Day 1

Week 4, Day 2

Week 4, Day 3

Week 4, Day 4

Week 4, Day 5

Week 4, Day 6

Week 4, Day 7

Week 5, Day 1

Week 5, Day 2

Week 5, Day 3

Week 5, Day 4

Week 5, Day 5

Week 5, Day 6

Week 5, Day 7

Week 6. Day 1

Week 6, Day 2

Week 6, Day 3

Week 6, Day 4

Week 6, Day 5

Week 6, Day 6

Week 6, Day 7

Week 7, Day 1

Week 7, Day 2

Week 7, Day 3

Week 7, Day 4

Week 7, Day 5

Week 7, Day 6

Week 7, Day 7

Week 8, Day 1

Week 8, Day 2

Week-8, Day 3

Week 8, Day 4

Week 8, Day 5

Week 8, Day 6

Week 8, Day 7

Conclusion

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What Must I Do To Be Saved?

The next day He decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43)

The Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a role to play in our salvation. As can be seen when Jesus called the Apostles, they had to respond to His invitation by leaving their old way of life behind and following Him.

As Catholics, we are “technically” saved through baptism, but that’s not the end of the story. Even though we receive the sanctifying grace needed to transform us into children of God and ultimately live forever in Heaven, we still have to do “something”.

For Philip and for each of us, this begins by making the decision to follow Jesus. That seemingly simple step opens the door to a life filled with meaning and peace. Ultimately, it will lead to eternal life in Heaven. It all begins with the conscious decision to follow Jesus. It’s a choice that only you can make. And, speaking from personal experience, it’s the best choice you can ever make.

“God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.” (St. Augustine)

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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“Do You Also Want To Leave?” ~Jesus

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (John 6:66)

Because they couldn’t accept His teaching on eating His Body and drinking His blood, many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following Him and “returned to their former way of life”. According to John’s Gospel, they took this action because they couldn’t accept what Jesus had to say. It was “too hard”.

It’s difficult to put myself in the place of those who were hearing this for the first time, but I think I have some idea of what they were going through. The idea of consuming the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus must have been insanely hard to accept. If they hung around until the Last Supper, however, it would have become a little less “hard”. It would have still been difficult to comprehend, but the disgust of eating human flesh and drinking blood would be gone. Unfortunately, they were in such a hurry to leave that they didn’t give Jesus time to explain the details.

At some point in time, many of us have “left” Jesus and will probably do so again. We may not formally leave the Faith, but often leave Jesus by choosing to stop praying, doing what feels good instead of what God wants or lapsing into worry and hopelessness. Whether we “leave” Him for a few minutes, several hours or many years, we still do what those disciples did on that fateful day.

Why do we leave Jesus? Typically, it’s because He does something we don’t like or asks us to do something we’d rather not do. Maybe He isn’t answering our prayers fast enough or He responds in a way that doesn’t please us. Sometimes it’s a Church teaching that gets in the way of our enjoyment. Whatever the reason, it usually comes down to a conflict between our version of Jesus and the real Jesus.

I’m not proud of it, but I will probably “leave” Him again. It might even happen today. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ll probably leave Him too. But here’s the good news. Even though it’s always a mistake to leave Jesus even for an instant, it’s not the worst thing that could happen. Despite the fact that he talked a good game, Peter deserted Jesus not once, not twice but three times. It’s sad, but the cloud definitely has a silver lining. Yes, he definitely left when it got too “hard”, but he came back. That’s the key. Pray for the grace to never leave Jesus when it gets “hard”, but always resolve to come back when you do leave. In the end, that’s what really matters.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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God Will Provide!

But Ruth said, “Do not press me to go back and abandon you! Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

After traveling to the country of Moab with her husband in order to escape a famine, Naomi experienced what we might call a “worst-case scenario”. Not only did her husband die, but her two sons as well. As a result, she found herself trapped in a foreign land without any means of support.

Upon hearing that the famine was over, Naomi decided to return to her homeland of Bethlehem. Even though her two daughters-in-law (Ruth and Orpah) were willing to travel with her, she told them to stay in Moab with their mothers. Orpah agreed, but Ruth refused to abandon her mother-in-law.

Ultimately, Ruth ended up marrying a man named Boaz and bearing a son named Obed. This child would go on to become the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David from whose line would come none other than Jesus the Messiah.

Even though it may not seem like it when we’re desperate, God provides for His children. And, as this story illustrates, not only did He provide for a helpless widow, but for a world in need of a Savior.

Let not your heart be troubled!

~Gary

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