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Gift of Grace

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What was the last gift you received that truly surprised you and changed your life? Maybe it was a tool that helped you better organize your life or helped you to finally lose that stubborn weight. Maybe it was a gift that changed the trajectory of your life or gave you a second chance at life itself. Gifts that have the ability to change our lives often come from people who truly love us.

Through the sacraments, we receive an undeserved gift from God called grace. This sanctifying grace helps us get into heaven. So what are you doing daily to stir your faith so that it is a fire that consumes all parts of your life?

Unfortunately, I believe many of us can treat our faith as another activity to squeeze into our busy lives. When we treat our faith as an activity, as an obligation, it is easy to place faith on the back burner when life gets busy. Our faith is not an activity, it’s a relationship with a God who loves us. A God who is constantly willing to give us the gifts we need to handle the turbulence in our lives and was willing to give the gift of Himself for us to spend eternity with Him. What are we doing with that gift to better ourselves, better others, and better our relationship God?

Faith

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Faith. If God loves us, why do bad things happen? That isn't an easy answer. Some of the bad things that happen are the result of God loving us enough to give us free will. We are free to choose what we do and what we don't do. God created us with a conscience, reason, and gifts us with a whole lot of grace, so that we hopefully choose options that are in line with His will. Working counter to God's will results in actions with less than great consequences. That makes sense.

But what about those things that randomly happen. To this I would say, especially as it related to natural disasters, that the Earth has been doing what it has been doing for millions of years. Plates shift and move, air masses collide, stuff happens. People get in the way. The Earth is bigger than people. That makes sense. God has empowered people to develop ways to track storms and warn people so choices can be made.

Then the questions of illness, pain, suffering pop up. Indeed, these are the toughest because one can't reason it away. That is where faith steps in. When we struggle to understand why, our faith compels us to action. There's a reason in the suffering somewhere. It can be hard to find what the reason may be but faith leads us to it. This level of "bad" is to compel us toward God; to a dependence on Him. It doesn't make sense but it will if you have faith. It is said that hindsight is 20/20. When a person takes time to think back to a time of suffering, the fruit can be seen. What was to be learned? What was the reason? In fact, long suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. How is suffering good? It brings us to dependence on God. Faith.

Post-Christian Era?

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From time to time I find myself listening to Relevant Radio. On several occasions, I have heard their various guests use the term "Post-Christian Era". Evidently, we live in the Post Christian Era. When did that happen? At some point in recent history, we went from an era that was Christian to one that no longer is. That is really scary to think about. At some point, our culture shifted from one that was dominantly filled with people who lived and conducted life in relationship to Jesus to one that doesn’t.

So, when did it happen? Rather than think on it too long, I’d rather consider how do we get it back? Why would we want to? For me, looking at a world that has turned away from God – a world that is angry, mistrusting, hateful, in pain, in sorrow, in distress, in all essence, lost – my faith can demonstrate how a life with God is loving, peaceful, gentle, fruitful, kind, focused, centered, and disciplined. For every aspect of what a life without God can reflect, a life with God can dispel. Knowing that there is a God, a very powerful and loving God, who wants the very best for me no matter what I do, provides a reason, a hope. A reason to keep at it. A hope for things promised yet to be revealed. Indeed, if it were easy, everyone would do it, but being a believer is not easy. Jesus has even said so. "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." (Luke 18:25) The world is proving it to us right now. Since not everyone is doing it anymore, it clearly is not easy. More people are giving up than taking it on. I am comforted that I am among others who are taking it on. As a student of Scripture, it almost feels as if we are returning to our roots – there are more who need to be convinced of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life than those who are already convinced.

Therefore, this is truly what makes us different. We are standing on the shoulders of Saints. We have the opportunity to learn from history and continue to make the future something better. We are in the Post-Christian Era that could become the Pre-Christian Era part 2 if we all live and work together for God’s greater glory.

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