And lead us not into temptation (OF9)

This phrase can be confusing. We are praying to our Lord, and He never leads us into temptation. So, what’s this phrase all about? Our Lord may, at times, permit Satan to tempt us. I think this part of the Our Father is asking for God’s help and common sense when we are tempted. If we know we are weak in a certain area, then we must do our part in avoiding those situations. For example, in the Bible where King David saw Bathsheba bathing, it should have gone no further. But by continuing to look at her, a beautiful woman, he fell into sin and committed adultery.

In modern times, a man who knows he struggles with pornography knows he needs to avoid strip clubs and adult video stores. He must avoid going anywhere near those types of places, because if he does go there, he is setting himself up for a fall (into sin). This is just one example.

Identify your own weak spot(s). How can you avoid these occasions of sin? The first step is asking God for the grace to avoid them in the first place. Let Him guide you so you can draw closer to Him.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Thy kingdom come (OF3)

God’s kingdom coming, what does that mean? I think we’re better able to tell when it’s not coming than when it is, at least lately. There’s so much violence and un-godlike behavior. We do things as a society that don’t bring His kingdom to earth, like taking the 10 commandments out of schools, the workplace, and the courtrooms. Some segments of society think of them as the 10 suggestions, and they are not. We preach ‘tolerance’ for sinful lifestyles in the name of political correctness. We don’t dare call something a sin! If we do these things, how can His kingdom come?

We might ask ourselves what we are doing to bring about His kingdom here on earth. Do we have a good attitude? Are we kind or are we inconsiderate? Are we polite or rude? Are we respectful or not? What behavior of ours do we need to change in order for people to see God in us? Change begins with us, and God is there to help us every step of the way. May His kingdom come.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

 

God of the Ordinary

I wrote a piece for a newsletter back in 2002 entitled “God of the Ordinary” wherein I stated that I believe our God is a God of the ordinary. A modified version is below.

God sent his son Jesus to earth to redeem us, and Jesus lived a rather ordinary life for 30 years before he began his public ministry. He was born into an ordinary family. Jesus was surrounded by ordinary shepherds at his birth and, up until the time when he began his public ministry, led a rather ordinary life as a carpenter himself. He knew what it was to be an apprentice, to be self-employed.

If you’re tempted to think that Jesus doesn’t understand our human condition, think again. He worked, slept, ate and drank, worshipped, and obeyed his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary. Jesus knew what it was like to be taken advantage of by those who only sought him for what he could do for them rather than for who he was as a person. How often have we felt that way about others? He was a teacher, a preacher, a friend. People questioned his motives. Jesus was misunderstood. He experienced sorrow, rejection, humiliation, was imprisoned, falsely accused, and his friends abandoned him. Jesus suffered, died, and was buried. He was like us in all things but sin.

Truly, our God is a God of the ordinary, but that’s not to diminish his extraordinary qualities. He was extraordinary in his ordinary life, and he’s part of our ordinary lives. We shouldn’t think we can’t bother him with our ‘ordinary’ requests, that somehow those things are too mundane for us to ask Jesus to help us with. That would be treating God like a busy corporate executive who has no time to deal with the daily challenges of our lives. We must not do that. Any good father wants to give his children good things, but we have to ask! God wants to be part of these moments. Remember the practical matter of feeding thousands of people? He got it handled in an extraordinary way. He provided water for the thirsty Israelites in the desert, parted the seas when they couldn’t get across, fed them with manna and quail. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast. All, on the surface, are very ordinary things, but he used extraordinary means to accomplish those ordinary needs.

As children of God, we can boldly go to the heavenly throne and ask Jesus for what we want and need.  We can ask him to help us with problems, even those things like getting a stubborn lawn mower started, help with writing a homily, getting a spider to stop hanging off the mirror and crawling towards us as we are driving a car, you name it. No, I’m not kidding about the spider. Need a job? Ask for wisdom in your job search. Frustrated? Ask for patience. We shouldn’t love Jesus just for what he does for us rather than who he is of course. It’s not so much about the gift as it is about the thoughtfulness of the giver. We can and should invite Jesus into the ordinary aspects of our lives that he so much wants to be part of. I wonder how much we struggle unnecessarily because we simply didn’t ask our Lord to help us. Nothing is too small for him, and we should thank him for all the little things in our life that he provides daily, not just the bigger more obvious things. If we don’t ask, we won’t receive! Thank him when your stubborn lawn mower starts, your car is repaired for less than you thought it would be, you write an inspiring homily, or when the spider stops crawling towards you in the car. He is a mighty God, but a God who very much wants to be involved in our ordinary lives. Oh, and thank you Lord for handling the spider on the way home!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Boosting our self-image

Okay, so let’s say we have identified this issue of inferiority, poor self-esteem or insecurity. How do we go about boosting or repairing our self-image?
– One way is positive self-talk. We tell ourselves positive things, such as:
– I am a good person.
– I am worthy of God’s love.
– As long as I repent of (be sorry for) my sins/misdeeds, God will take me back despite my many sins. After all, if I had been the only human on earth, He still would have died for me, He loves me that much! He will help me with my struggles.
– God has not abandoned me.

Of course, one pitfall is that we want to avoid reinforcing qualities or things about ourselves that may NOT be true unless we are working towards bettering ourselves in that area. For example, we can’t spell well or every time we try to sing we are off key (out of tune). However, if we are working on an area we may not excel in or be good at (just yet), like being patient or being able to spell well, we can encourage ourselves by stating what we want to be, i.e. “I will be a patient person.” By reiterating positive things, we may actually come to believe it and therefore make it come true for us, but we also have to work at that thing we have trouble with in order for this technique to be effective. Without belief and action, the change we want won’t take place.

Disclaimer: These techniques may not work for everyone who reads this or whoever puts these things into practice. Remember that change takes time. You may need specialized help, but this is one possible way to start.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Was Jesus Tolerant?

That’s a really good question! I recently mulled this over in response to some sensitive and contentious situations. One definition I found describes tolerance as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”

I would begin by stating that this answer depends on how you look at it. Take the woman caught in adultery, for instance. Jesus didn’t advocate for her stoning. He simply said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Then He waited until everyone had left, but then told her to go and sin no more. I would say He was compassionate, merciful, and He loved her. But He does not tolerate sin!

Some controversial topics have come up with our friends lately, one of them concerning the gay lifestyle. If Jesus were here, He would say the same thing to that group of people: “Go and sin no more.” We can (and should) love the sinner as one of God’s children but hate the sin.

So to answer the question about whether Jesus was tolerant based on the definition of tolerance above: Jesus was fair and objective, but not permissive.

Please share your thoughts about whether you think Jesus was tolerant and why or why not.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams