Tag: faith

Will You Stand Firm When Storms Come?

how-deep-are-your-roots

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter, which can be viewed here.

Recently in our parish here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, there was a prophecy given at the Friday evening prayer meeting. I am quoting what, I think, are the most significant sections of the prophecy:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by running water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jer 17:7-80).

My people, you have been living for many years in a time of unprecedented grace, when the river of My Spirit has been flowing freely: Strong, wide, abundant, shining in the light.

But I tell you most solemnly, my people that the day is coming soon—is even now at the door—when this river will go underground. It will still be present—strong and powerful—indeed, even more powerful than before—but it will be found only by those who stretch out their roots toward it in the darkness: in humility, faith, and trust.

Those who do so will remain green when the heat comes, bearing witness to my grace and love. They will continue to bear fruit even in the midst of the drought, fruit that I will be able to harvest to feed the many who will be starving for My Love.

Act now to sink your roots deep in Me, in humility and faith and trust, so that when the day of drought comes, you may not just stand but flourish for the sake of yourselves, your families and friends and the many I would bring to Myself through you. Take seriously this word, My people, for the time is almost at hand, even at the door. Put your trust in Me. Put all your trust in Me. Blessed is the man or woman who puts ALL his trust in Me.

Many of you, who have known me through the years, have heard me on numerous occasions refer to this analogy of the strong trees whose roots go down deep in the soil to find water. Such trees are powerful because of the work of the root system and are thus often able to endure the storms without cracking or breaking . . . . I have likened that image to each of us and our roots of faith. How deep are they so that when the storms of life come, as they often do, we are prepared to stand firm, endure the storm, and come out strong and whole and ready to nourish others who are younger or those whose faith is weak.

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, there is a similar analogy where Jesus, speaking of the grapevine, tells his disciples: “As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in Him, he it is who bears much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15: 4-5).

How do we abide in the vine? How do our roots become strong and deep? How do we draw our nourishment from Him?

The prophecy speaks of humility. In this context, it means that we truly put all our trust in God, not in self. I cannot make myself good. Only God can. I cannot be humble by myself; I need to learn that my peace, my hope, my faith, and my confidence only come about as I put God in the center of my life. (And take myself out of the center.) That needs daily practice—or, in my case, many times a day.

The prophecy also speaks of the need for faith to allow the foundation of our lives to be rooted in Him and not in self. The gift of faith is given to us in baptism and is strengthened as a powerful gift for all of life in Confirmation. Do I nourish my faith? Do I nourish the grace of the sacraments? Am I grateful to God for the faith He has given me? Do I actively and even daily “sink” my roots in Him? Is my faith the foundation of my life or only a “brick” in that same foundation?

A definition of faith that I use as a measuring stick is this: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for and conviction about the things we do not see” (Heb 11:1). (Read all of Hebrews 11 and 12). Ask God for help! He will be only too glad to give if you seek with a sincere heart.

Do I think about heaven? Do I spend time regularly examining my conscience and confessing my sins so that I may quickly see the face of My Father in heaven when I die? Ask God for a hunger and a thirst for heaven. It means union with the source of ALL LOVE—that is what we were made for.

Trust. Psalm 40:1-4 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord His trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.”

Faith, humility, and trust. Use these tools to make an examination of conscience now, so that, should we enter a greater storm than we have already seen, we may be prepared and ready—our roots down deep in the mind and heart of Christ, where courage, wisdom, and mercy abound.

“Fear not, little flock. It has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom” (Lk 12:32-34). Nourish these truths in your hearts—daily—and watch the merciful power of God’s love expand your heart.

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I am so grateful for my readers and for those who listen to my radio program, Food for the Journey. I want to tell you know about a new initiative that will enable me to share a deeper conversation with my listeners, Friends of Food for the Journey. With a gift of $10 each month, you will help sustain the production of new programs, and join me in my work of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ—a message of hope, mercy, and joy—to listeners across the world. You also will receive a special monthly email message from me, and you will be remembered in my prayers and those of my sisters. You can learn more by visiting the donation page here. Thank you for your consideration, and may God bless you.

Faith in Unsteady, Challenging Times

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Image source

During these unsteady and challenging times, I have been asking myself how deep my faith is: Faith to believe I have a true Father in heaven. Faith to believe that God loved me—yes, me—so much that His son, Jesus Christ, willingly gave His life to redeem us from sin and to make it possible that His blood could ransom us from death and make it possible for weak, sinful me to live forever! Faith that Jesus made it possible for us to not just exist, but to LIVE—the fullness of life—with God forever. Few things silence me, but when I ponder these words, I am silenced by awe and wonder that I am—that we are—so loved.

Many people do not know this, or even if they have heard the Gospel, they do not believe that those promises are for each of them. Some don’t even want to hear about it—it’s just a fairy tale, they tell me.

But it is not. And those of us who do believe should not keep the Good News to ourselves. We must let it penetrate our whole being; we must let this reality bring forth thanksgiving to God and a desire to follow Him more closely.

The world is growing darker as truth is pushed to the peripheries. We can push back in charity, mercy, and kindness and live the truth in such a way that others are drawn to a peace, a hope, a kindness, and a mercy that they find in us.

That can happen, you know. But we have a little homework to do. Read the following quote by a religious sister from England that has been a source of frequent meditation and self-assessment for me about what it means to have a real faith, a living faith. She writes:

“Faith is not a thing of the mind; it is not an intellectual certainty or a felt conviction of the heart. It is a sustained decision to take God with utter seriousness as the God of my life. It is to live out each hour in a practical affirmation that God is Father and that He is ‘in heaven.’ It is a decision to shift the center of our lives from ourselves to Him, to forego self-interest and to make His interests, His will our sole concern. Each of us has the choice either to live by faith or to live by “flesh.” To live by flesh is to live within the limits of our own potential, within the limits of our own perception, our own understanding, according to how things seem and feel, according to our natural experience. It is instinctive for us to live thus, taking for granted that our conscious experience is to be trusted, that it is the way things really are, the way we are, the way God is—that this is our life. We want to remain on this level because it is within our grasp, it is ‘ours’ and affords a sort of security and assurance. This is so natural to us . . . that we are unaware of how much of our life is lived from self, relying on self and not on faith in the Son of Man. We cannot rid ourselves of this deeply rooted pride and self-possession by our own strength. Only the Holy Spirit of the Crucified and Risen One can effect it and this He is always trying to do. But we must begin to recognize His work and respond ‘Amen’”  (Ruth Burrows, OCD, The Essence of Prayer, 21).

In these challenging and confusing times (politically, financially, and most of all in our religious beliefs), we need to turn to the Only One who can help us. Sister Ruth has provided a pathway of faith and one, I believe, that can aid us to be true Christians and Disciples of Christ.

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I am so grateful for my readers and for those who listen to my radio program, Food for the Journey. I also am excited to let you know about a new initiative that will enable me to share a closer relationship and deeper conversation with my listeners, Friends of Food for the Journey. With a gift of $10 each month, you will help sustain the production of new programs, and join me in my work of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ—a message of hope, mercy, and joy—to listeners across the world. You also will receive a special monthly message from me, and you will be remembered in my prayers and those of my sisters. You can learn more by visiting the donation page here. Thank you for your consideration, and may God bless you.

Leave a Heritage of Faith

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Image Credit

The following brief reflection originally appeared in the June 2016 newsletter of Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinators Don and Pat Turbitt. You can subscribe to their newsletter by emailing them at donturbitt@gmail.com.

“All your children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Is 54:13)

There is no heritage like the knowledge of God’s love. There is no inheritance as empowering. As you live your life of faith before your family, it’s like stocking a vault that will bless everyone. And it’s never too late to begin. As you live authentically before God, you leave a blueprint for those who are watching. That example can last for generations, beyond your view, and may be more influential than you can imagine.

You can be that kind of person—the kind that builds up and strengthens. Ask the Lord God to help you. He will show you how.

Blessings to you,

Don and Pat Turbitt

Renewal Ministries’ Country Coordinators

 

Faith Strong Enough to Save a City

Poland train_Sr Ann Reflection
Image Source Tracks / Image Source Hands
By Sr. Ann Shields, SGL

About a month ago, I was invited to speak at a Catholic Charismatic Conference in Poland.  Having been to that country twice before, I was also curious to see a part of Poland I had not seen in previous trips. This time, I was near the Russian border in the area of Warsaw.

The conference was wonderful.  I was privileged to have two excellent translators, so we were to communicate effectively. Spending some time in the city of Bialystok, the “home” area of Father Michael Sopcko, the confessor of St. Faustina, was another privilege! I was able to visit the church where his body is buried, the Church of Divine Mercy, and to spend time in prayer there for all of us, that we might be more and more channels of His mercy!

But the experience I want to relate in this blog today was one that strengthened my own faith in a substantial way.

In the 1980s, sparks were seen under the wheels of a train that was running through the city carrying some kind of explosive materials. Realizing the danger, officials very quickly tried to solve the problem and, at the same time, to get people to run as fast as they could in the opposite direction of the train. You can imagine the confusion!

In the midst of the chaos, a small group of people—I don’t know how many—simply knelt down on the ground beside the slightly elevated train tracks and prayed. All they prayed was this: “Jesus, we trust in You! Jesus, have mercy.” Though their lives were in danger, they continued to stay and pray. After a very anxious period of time, the train was safely out of the city. Nothing exploded; there was no fire, no destruction, and no loss of life.

A group of young people—and others—took me and the sister traveling with me to the spot where that group of people had so courageously prayed and bravely trusted God. The train tracks have trees on either side—and there among the trees is a kneeler and a large crucifix planted in the ground with the words “Jesus, I trust in You” at the top.

I stood there for a while. Behind me were the scenes of a typical modern city; in front of me was a beautiful, almost country-like scene of flowers, trees, and a train passing by just on the other side of the trees. Forty-some years ago, a group of people had enough faith in God’s mercy to put their lives on the line for everyone else in that city. I stood on that ground where so many knelt and still kneel today, and I wondered . . . would we have the faith to do that if a need called for it? I knelt on that kneeler and prayed the words at the top of the Crucifix—again and again, asking Jesus that your faith and mine would grow.

“Jesus, give me grace that my faith may grow . . . Jesus, I trust in You.”