Don't Discount God During Advent!

Though Advent is happening on the liturgical calendar, the rest of the world is already celebrating Christmas with decorations in every shop window and every ad on television. There is no event on the American calendar that is so anticipated, so planned for, as that of Christmas. Media production companies, marketing firms, mall administrators, food caterers, toy manufacturers, and airlines were all thinking about and preparing for December 25th long before most of us. In truth, they were preparing, not so much for December 25th as for someone...namely, you. You were the object of their marketing meetings, their advertising campaigns, their flight scheduling, and their menus. All this preparation on your behalf should leave you with quite a special feeling, right?

Unfortunately, many people feel let down after the holidays. Annually, Christmas mysteriously raises our expectations, hopes and desires. It's as if there has been placed in our hearts a longing, a thirst, and a hunger for something that we can't quite put our finger on.

Our Lenten Prayer: 15 Things To Do When Suffering!

A few weekends ago, I gave a talk on the meaning of suffering at St. Odelia's in Shoreview, MN. I ended the talk with fifteen things you can do to ensure that your suffering is not wasted but joined to Christ, thus becoming powerful. I pray that your lent will be an experience unlike any other year and you will come to know the love that is hidden in suffering.

1.Understand that we have been called to participate in the redemption of the world. Col. 1:24; Rom. 8:28

2.Entrust yourself to God. 1 Peter 4:19

3.Unite your will with the will of Christ through prayer. Matthew 26:39

4.Realize that Jesus will not allow you to go through something that you can't handle. 1 Cor. 10:13

5.Embrace the suffering, conscious of the fact that God's grace is available, active and effective. 2 Cor. 12:9

6.Go to confession. Focus on eliminating sin, which weakens your relationship with Jesus. Hebrews 12:1

7.Participate on the paten during Mass. Offer you suffering up to God. CCC 1350

8.Avoid illegitimate suffering. Do not draw attention to yourself. Matthew 6:5-6

9.Think of others and offer your suffering for them. 1 Cor. 1:6

10.Actively love by doing what is right according to your vocation. CCC 518,1604

11.Pray the Rosary - Walk the passion of Christ with Our Lady. Concerning the rosary, remember "it beats the rhythm of human life..." Pope John Paul II

12.Study the Saints, many of them suffered and overcame great obstacles. CCC 313, 828, 1195

13.Rejoice that you can share in the redemption of the world. 1 Peter 4:13

14.Keep an eternal perspective. Ecc. 3:11; Matt. 6:19-20; Rom. 8:17

15.Trust God for the fruit of your suffering. 1 Cor. 3:7-8; Heb. 11:26

Come Join Us!

This year both of us will be speakers at the National Catholic Bible Conference held in Denver. This conference is for Catholics who want to know how to read, understand and proclaim the truths of the Bible. There are many wonderful scholars and teachers who will also be presenting. For all the information and registration, go to www.CatholicBibleConference.com or call 1-888-842-2853.

Jeff will give a main talk on the topic of "Idols of Today: Running after Nothing." This talk will focus on helping us put or energies into pursuing God by reading the Bible, adoring Him in the Eucharist and living a life of deep prayer.

Emily will speak on the topic of teaching children the faith and passing the story of salvation on to them through understanding the Bible.

It is a great time of fellowship among the participants and a time to renew your love for the Bible.

Wishing You A Blessed Easter!


Has the Resurrection Changed Your Life?

What a shock for the disciples to arrive at the tomb and behold the empty linen in which the body of Christ had been wrapped (John 20:1-9). John tells us that they did not understand the Scripture, that Christ must rise again. These men, so shaken by the past few days, were now faced with something even more bewildering than the death of their leader by crucifixion. What could an empty tomb possibly mean?

The entire story of salvation history turns on this singular, most powerful event. Without it, everything that Jesus had said and done would have been forgotten or seriously questioned. No doubt the enormity of the resurrection caused his followers to rethink, "just what did he say?" Throughout His many discourses, Jesus retold Israel's history, but cast himself as the last Adam, the new Moses who gives the new law of liberty, the son of David, the suffering Messiah and the new Temple that would be destroyed only to be raised in three days.

The resurrection is proof that Jesus is who he said he was. When all the scripture references and prophecies about himself were pointed out to the disciples, they finally saw Jesus as the Messiah and understood what type of Messiah he was: the suffering servant sacrificed for the atonement of sin. It all fell into place for them. They knew the story of their people and how God had lead the nation of Israel, so when it was revealed to them that Jesus provided a New Covenant for them in His blood, they were able to preach the surety of the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. It became clear to the disciples that the mission of the Messiah was to lead all people out of sin and bondage into righteousness and freedom.

The resurrection of Christ should act as an anchor for our souls in times of doubt and in stormy situations. After the resurrection Jesus met up with some of his followers who had hoped in him but were greatly discouraged about his death. They didn't recognize him until he revealed himself in the breaking of the bread. Once his followers understood that he was alive and available, their entire life turned around. Think about it, a handful of people who knew that Jesus rose from the dead went on to turn the world upside down.

Every time we receive communion we are reminded that Jesus is not dead but alive. Our lives are not in vain because we are in Christ and he gives our lives meaning both here on earth and in heaven. We were crucified with Christ, buried with him. and we rose from the dead with him. We can celebrate the resurrection of Christ knowing that death has been swallowed up in Christ's victory. If we are "in Christ" then his victory is our victory. St. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. The life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Reflect on the text below. How might the resurrection of Christ change the way you live your daily life?

"I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).