Posts Tagged With: tithe

We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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WANDERINGS OF AN URBAN MISSIONARY

4-2-10 Good Friday – 10:30am @ the chapel at St. Ed’s in Laffy

Praise God for this glorious day. My prayer when I got here was through everything that I do today, help me to learn from your Passion and Crucifixion. I was so glad to get back here. 2 days ago, as I was headed back into town from mission formation @ FMC, I felt God was calling me to stop at the bookstore and find a new “Burn Book” for the chapel. To briefly explain, back in December of last year, someone bought a spiral bound journal (very colorful) and decorated the front and called it the “Burn Book”, since Jesus’ love burns in our hearts. IT’s basically a shared journal for anyone and everyone who comes to the chapel. Of course it stays here, and as you see fit you can either read and/or write in it. It’s been a tremendous inspiration for me because I can journey together with my brothers and sisters in Christ to see that they are going through alot of the same things that I am. As far as decorating the new burn book, I’ll leave that to one of the females (perhaps the one that created the first burn book) to spruce it up. It’s already nice and colorful, and I scored it on sale at Barnes and Noble for 7 bucks. It could just use a lil something extra. If I see that a month down the road it still hasn’t been fixed up, I might take it upon myself to do so. In other news, I saw Martin again last night at CC’s. He was comin in to get a cup of water and I saw him while I was hangin out with Chris Diesi. He saw me and we said hello and then I introduced him to Chris. We sat and chatted awhile, which on most occasions wouldn’t be a big deal.

But, I know that for however many times God puts him in my path, I’m called to be Christ-like and help him however I can. But it’s so easy to focus on “Lemme buy something for him”. How often do I actually tithe my time? So yeah, it felt good to sit and chat with him. Since me and Chris were about to leave anyways, me and Martin walked over to Albertson’s to get him some food. He only asked for 2 sandwiches and some chips, which humbled and inspired me. He, a homeless man who’s out of work, only asked for what he needed and nothing more. Now do you see why I like Divine Appointments so much? 🙂 After we left Albertson’s, we headed back to my car, and I bid him farewell. Though, I didn’t pray with him this time, I did give him one of my rosaries. I told him that even if he’s not Catholic or doesn’t remember the Our Father or Hail Mary, he could still hold the rosary and it would help him calm down and focus while he prays….. He’s in town until the beginning of May, so hopefully I get to see him again before he leaves. Speaking of leaving, I need to leave and head downtown. My  nieces, Haily and Hannah are in town for the Easter weekend, and I’m going meet them and my dad downtown for lunch. Need to stop @ Nikki Soileau’s to get her and load up her wheelchair so she can come have lunch with us. Praise You Lord Jesus for the blessing of Divine
Appointments, as well as friends and family. Help me Lord to trust you more, and to have the courage and strength to make the choices I need to make so I can love you more. Help me to persevere Lord! St. Francis Xavier, patron of missions, pray for us!

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DESERT DAY – PART 1

Friday 3/12/10 – In the desert/rural area just outside of General Cepeda, Mexico (next to Rancho La Puerta)

I knew I couldn’t get by another day w/o journalling, and Desert Day is the perfect time to do it. First thing I gotta mention is Omar, my friend. If you recall, I first journalled about him after my trip to Saltillo the week of Thanksgiving. We met him outside of the Cathedral & were utterly blessed by his presence. Well, seeing him was what I was most looking forward to yesterday when we went to Saltillo. As soon as we parked the vehicles, we headed to the Cathedral for noon Mass. Sure enough, there he was, sitting at the corner entrance, in his wheelchair, under his lil’ umbrella.

I don’t know if words can properly convey how glad I was to see him. After a few of us visited with him for a couple minutes, we gathered all his stuff and wheeled him into the Cathedral to go to Mass with us. When the time came to go receive Jesus’ Body in the Eucharist, John-Paul Papuzynski asked me to wheel him up to receive. Of course I said yes, and was VERY happy to have that privilege. It almost felt like being able to do that made receiving Jesus’ Body so much more meaningful. John-Paul said afterwards that Omar had the biggest smile on his face when he was going up to receive Jesus’ Body. That comment in and of itself brought a smile to my face. 🙂 Another thing I noticed that really touched me, was after the collection plate was passed around and the usher was walking back to her seat, Omar reached out suddenly and handed her a coin to put in the collection basket. (to be continued)

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