Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Psalm 119:10

"With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments."  Psalm 119:10

As we approach mid-week of the first week of Lent - this should be our constant prayer. We have made an honest effort to seek out God and His ways.  We have prayed and fasted.  we have attended Stations of the Cross and we have given alms for the poor.  So far seven days into Lent we are doing pretty good.  We are happy that we have been able to honor our pledge to make Lent different this year.  Although we did not give up chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol or TV shows - we have added hours of extra time in prayer and devotional exercises.  Yes we are doing good and feeling good about this minor accomplishment.

But we have to remember that Satan is lurking in the shadows somewhere waiting to destroy our plans and good intentions.  We must not allow ourselves to become arrogant or smug about what we have been able to do so far.  We must maintain a sense of humility - we must become that quiet humble servant anxiously waiting on God and what He has in store for us.

We have used seven of our forty days of Lent and done well so far - but that does not mean that the next thirty-three days will be easy or as fruitful.  No - we must remain diligent - constant in prayer and not let our guard down.  We want to be true to the Gospel message of Jesus - we want to be steadfast - we do not want to wander from the path that He has set us on.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


When I was a youth we had a club house that we constructed on our property.  Lucky for us we lived on a very large piece of land on the edge of the city which allowed us lots of space to play and build forts and the like.  Of course when you have a clubhouse or fort you have to have a secret password to make sure others could not get in.  In reality there was no way we could have kept anyone out - but as kids we had very active imaginations. 

Zoom forward to the 2000's and nowadays everyone you know has a password - not to get into their forts or club houses  - but to do everyday things like read mail, access bank accounts, log on to computers at work, at home, at the library - in fact we have so many passwords it is almost  impossible to keep track of all of them.  It would be easy if we could get by with one password but that is impossible as everyone who sets up our accounts has different protocols.  Does your password need a capital letter or a lower case letter or perhaps a number or even a "special" character?  Impossible you say and I would have to agree.

Thank God we do not need a password to speak to Him! When we approach God in prayer we do not need to know any special words or phrases - we do not need a "logon" or password.  All that is needed is a heart that comes to Jesus with pregnant faith - knowing that He will listen to us and answer us in His time according to His will.  Psalm 46:10 tell us "be still and know that I am God.."  This Lent - talk with God and when you don't think He is talking back remember that verse from Psalms.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, February 27, 2012


The other day I was at the health club, about 75 percent through my 2 hour workout, when I was working on a leg machine that was proving a bit harder than I liked.  After completing two sets I had to pause and catch my breath before I could start the third set.  As I was doing so, I just sat there staring up at the ceiling.  I guess I must have spent more time than normal because a younger fellow next to me leaned over by my head and looked up in the same direction and asked what I was looking at.  I replied nothing - then he suggested "Inspiration?".  I laughed and said yes - definitely inspiration.  I really do not like working out but I know it is something that I have to do if I am going to prolong my life on this planet.  So his comment was actually very much on target because I sure needed something at that point to urge me on to that third set.  His comment and smile as we shared that brief laugh gave me the energy to go on.

That is exactly how it is when we are struggling to improve our relation ship with God.  We do what is expected - we go above and beyond - and we struggle.  The extra hours in prayer - the devotional Masses we attend in addition to the regular weekend Masses - the spiritual readings that we do - many times end up feeling like we are just spinning our wheels and going nowhere. We look for signs from God - but none appear.  We try to listen for His voice - but Jesus seems mute.  We wander - we struggle - we wait.

And then when you least expect it - a stranger puts his face next to yours and speaks a word or two and in that very moment - you know that you have just been inspired - that you have touched the Divine!

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Song & Dance

The phrase "song and dance" very often means to "beat around the bush" or to "dance around the issue" - otherwise to avoid the issue at hand and use diversionary tactics to either avoid addressing the issue head on or to soften the blow of sharing unpleasant news.  I witnessed a "song & dance" routine recently at Mass as the issue of responding to the Bishop's annual appeal was explained to the congregation.  In this day and age of a tight economy it is difficult, to say the least, to make a request for a donation from people who have been coping with loss of income and increasing prices. How this was handled during Holy Mass was an inspiration for others to follow - serious and with just the right amount of levity.  The message got across to the people and gave them a laugh at he same time.

Although this worked very well in this situation - when sharing the message of the Gospel - there is no room for any "song and dance".  The Gospel demands a serious but welcoming sharing of the message of God's Love and Redemption and Forgiveness. There is no way to sugar coat the Gospel.   Sin must be addressed and sinners called out of their corners of hiding into the Light that is Christ.  They must be made aware that their sins are recognized, not particularly by you or I, but by God Almighty.  In this recognition they also need to know that God does not damn them, but rather calls them to be refreshed and cleansed in the waters of baptism and at the altar of reconciliation.  

Jesus approaches each of us in Lent and proclaims "repent and believe in the Gospel"! Come to Him who heals - to Him that forgives - to Him that loves - to Him that restores. Come to Jesus and He will give you reason to burst out in praise and song and dance. 

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rock Solid

When a developer wants to build any structure - a simple home or a gigantic multi-story building - they must consider where they will build and the soil conditions that their building will sit upon.  It is not just a matter of looking pretty or providing a pleasant view to those who will occupy it.  It is not just what the ground looks like but also what is under it that makes a big difference.  The type of soil and soil conditions - the flow of the natural components and what literally flows under the soil, such as underground water, - all these and many more elements will give the builder the information they need to know - if the ground will properly support the weight of their proposed building.  Without this information they may end up with an unsafe building structure that would not be able to stand up to high winds, heavy rains, earth tremors and other natural conditions that would put undo stress on the structure.  In simple - very simple terms - it makes a difference if you build your house on a rock or on a sandy beach.  Integrity of the basic is ultimately very important in building any structure. 

Matthew 7:24-27 tells us the same thing about the wise and the foolish builders who built on rock and sand.  This scripture may specify building a house but it is really about a lot more than that. We are instructed that in all avenues of life we must be cautious and diligent to build upon that which is solid and not unstable.  How we practice our faith and what we believe must be first and foremost be built on truth not lies.  We must challenge and question that which does not appear to be in line with our basic beliefs and tenets.  If we do not understand - then it is imperative that we learn - so that we may understand. We must realize that ignorance is not bliss - that not taking the time to learn is no excuse for living poorly or believing weakly.  

Our faith and how we practice our faith are much more important than many people understand.  It is not a matter of just going through the motions but going through the motions in faith - in the Spirit - and allowing God to touch our hearts and minds and our soul to bring us to a complete oneness with Him - the Almighty - the One who saves. Jesus is the One - Jesus is the Answer - Jesus is the Rock upon which your life must be built.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fish Fry

Today is the first Friday of Lent and thus the requirement to abstain from meat.  When I was a child Catholics had to abstain from meat on all Fridays, not just Lent.  Today the requirement of abstaining from meat has been changed to only Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.  So it is easier - right?    Well, it depends on who you talk to - some people miss the old days and wish that all Fridays were meat free - others (particularly those who do not like fish) wish the rule would just go away.  In between is where the majority of people fit in.  They neither love nor hate fish but are willing to comply with Lenten regulations because they know that it is for their spiritual benefit that they observe, along with the rest of the Catholic community, Lenten regulations which are designed to help the faithful improve their spiritual lives.

Lent comes partially from old English Lente which means springtime.  The modern day more accepted definition of Lent is a period of penitential preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is easy to see the connection between Lent and Spring as typically Lent is observed as Winter passes and Springs begins.  As a period of penitential reflection on one's spiritual life it is easy to connect Springtime with newly plowed fields and signs of growth manifested by tiny green plants in black soil with the spiritual growth that we seek in Lent.

In this Springtime we pause and look at the signs of new life in the fields and meadows and in that time of pausing - we also reflect and look into the garden of our hearts and look for signs of new life in each one of ourselves.  In this period of Lent - we strip away the frivolous and unnecessary - we deprive ourselves of the freedoms which we enjoy daily, without thought, and we follow the regulations prescribed by our Holy Church.  We stop doing what comes so easily and we start doing that, which to some, is a painful burden.  We look at ourselves and our lives - what we have or have not accomplished in the past year since last Easter and we ask God Almighty to work the miracles that He does in our lives - so that by this Easter we may be properly disposed to celebrate Christ's resurrection and our gift of life in Him - the One who loves us more than we can ever imagine.  

Jesus invites us to the banquet of Life - to celebrate all that He has to offer us - to drink of the wine of Salvation and to dine with Him - and eat fish.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grapes & Raisins

Raisins are dried grapes.  Before a grape becomes a raisin it is filled with nutrients and as a member of the fruit group known as a berry - is full and plump and juicy.  Grapes may be eaten raw or they may be processed into jams, jellies, juices, wine, vinegar or raisins.  

A grape in itself contains the fullness of life as far as grapes go.  They are pleasing to look at, especially as they mature and become full and round - and right off the vine are a pleasure to consume.  When I was a child my father tried to grow everything and anything that he could on our property. We had apple, cherry, pear and even a peach tree.  We grew all sorts of vegetables in our annual garden - even raspberries, blackberries and mulberries - and yes, dad had a grape arbor.  We grew the big purple ones complete with seeds and a lot - more than dad ever knew -  never made it inside the house where mom would turn them into grape jelly.  We never kept a grape long enough for it to dry out and become a raisin.

A raisin is a dried grape and although dry and no longer juicy, it still contains a high level of sugars.  Like grapes - raisins may be eaten raw or cooked - my favorite would be mom's fabulous "Hermit" cookies which were three times the normal size and loaded with raisin (and minus the nuts which most of us didn't care for).  Although raisins no longer look anything like the grape that they started from, they still are basically the same fruit. They are still sweet and give pleasure to all who consume them.  The only difference is that the raisin has emptied itself of ingredients not necessary - it has stripped itself down to the bare bones and opened itself up to the possibility of what it could be by emptying itself.

This Lent we are called to give up - to empty our lives of that which is not needed - in order that we may experience the fullness of life.  This Lent be a raisin.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Umm - Did You Know....

Yes - it is Ash Wednesday and I am sure that Catholics around the world have all been politely asked by non Catholics if they knew that they had a smudge of soot on their foreheads.  Being polite, as most people are, we tend to let our friends and neighbors know if there is a smudge of this or that on their face, cheek or wherever.  We politely remind ladies that their lipstick has been smeared, we straighten gentlemen's ties and we gently remove food stains from children's chins.  

All done politely - often discreetly - as an act of kindness to help another person avoid being embarrassed.  Yet on this very special day - when Catholics and other Christians acknowledge the beginning of Lent - we hope that the smudge of ash on our foreheads proclaims loudly to all who see - that we are Christians!  We want people to ask - just as we want to tell the story of Jesus.  This is the one day of the year when Christians everywhere are allowed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone and everyone they meet without rejection - because it is an unspoken proclamation.

We yearn to say this little bit of ash represents sin and forgiveness, redemption and sanctification, the One who died for my sins - so that I might have life eternal.  In our ashes - in this day - each one of us - proclaims to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord! 

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Fastnacht also known as Fasching or Karneval in Germany and Carnevale in Italy and Mardi Gras in France and  most commonly Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday in America is an exciting celebration of excesses.  Fastnacht in some regions in Germany begins November 11th at 11am or 11.11:11.  I have not been able to find out why that exact date and hour but it is what it is.  The begining of  Fastnacht or Fasching in November is a time of celebration of the ending of winter and preparation for the coming of Lent with it's period of fasting and denial.  But before Lent starts the German people - especially in Koln (Cologne), Germany begin celebrating life and the beauty of each other with music, food, beer, dancing and large celebrations and parades.  In Italy Carnevale - which literally means without meat - also looks forward to the end of winter and the beginning of Lent and the Italians also celebrate with great festivals and beautiful masks and balls.  In America - for the most part - we limit our celebrating to the day before Lent by eating local favorites which may be doughnuts, pancakes, or Pączki (if you are Polish). 
To celebrate life is good - to enjoy life is better - to prepare for eternal life is best. Yes, today we celebrate and indulge ourselves - but tomorrow will come all too soon and with it the beginning of Lent and all that it entails. In this day enjoy all that you have and all that you hold dear.  Celebrate with family and friends, with co-workers and enemies alike because in all this celebration is God, for He has created all things for us to experience and enjoy.  God bleses our celebrations of life, if we ask Him.  He wants to be with us constantly and when we recognize that God is all in all - then we can truly celebrate the life that He has blessed us with.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, February 20, 2012

When I Grow Up

Remember when you were a young child and always talked about when you would grow up and what you wanted to be or what you wanted to do?  Yes, I would guess that most of us had dreams about our future.  If I remember correctly, I went through fire fighter, policeman, Superman, Don Juan and who knows what else.  You might say they were unrealistic and I would have to agree.  But, no matter how wild the dream, it was a dream and as such fueled efforts to grow, learn and accomplish skills.  So I may not have achieved any of those early goals but I did manage to get all the way through six years of college, have a very rewarding professional career and along the way was even able to fit in spiritual formation which allowed me to become ordained.  

Even with all I - and others like me - have managed to accomplish thus far in our lives - it is not uncommon to hear people in my age group make comments like "when I grow up.." as a way to state that even as you age it does not have to mean that your life is over and that you no longer are useful.  Having "retired" four months ago I find myself filling my life with so many different things and projects - I wonder how I was able to do what I do now and previously worked a full time job. One renewed focus I have now is my spiritual life and it would probably surprise many that although I am ordained, I am still seeking to improved my relationship with God.  No matter how many hours I spend reading books on spirituality, no matter how many prayers I say, no matter how many hours I sit in the silence of His Presence at Adoration - I still have to say "when I grow up".....

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Home Sweet Home

There is nothing as exciting as taking a trip to a far away place.  It is even more exciting if that far away place is somewhere that you have dreamed about for years.  When the day finally arrives and you are able to take that trip it becomes a highlight of your life.  The new peoples that you are able to meet, the foods that you get to taste, the culture that you experience - all makes for a very rewarding trip.

The reality is that no matter how long you have to travel or how much you enjoy this experience - there is always that point when you begin to long for home - to stop the traveling and get back to the old and comfortable.

And so it is when you have been drifting in your spiritual life.  You may have drifted far away to a place of nothingness or maybe you have been church hopping and wandering from one spiritual experience to another in search of that special something that might give meaning to your life. So many people have spent years in search of that spark of the Divine only to continue to go unfulfilled.  Then when all options have been exhausted - in desperation - they return to that place where they started - their home church and to their surprise discover that in the process of wandering and drifting they have finally come to appreciate what they had in the beginning.  Finally - when they have returned they discover that what was old and irrelevant is instead the answer to their inner peace and joy.  In their wandering - through that time of uncertainty - God was with them - waiting patiently - waiting for that moment when He could hear them exclaim - Finally, Home sweet Home.

Praying that you have found your home
Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Morning Light

If you have ever done the dusting in your home, then you know how frustrating it is when you dust your tables and hard surfaces and you think they are clean until you open the drapes and the morning light reveals that there is a fine layer of dust remaining. Sometimes in that morning light you can even see the dust floating in the air.  Why is it that under certain lighting conditions everything looked just fine and then in that early morning light - bingo - the truth is revealed?

That is exactly what happens when a person sins and why sinners prefer darkness to light. Holy Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:5 - "the Lord comes who will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness....".  It is easy to lie and deceive and do all sorts of things that you are not proud of in the darkness of the night - but in the light of day become ashamed of what you have done.  

Most of us have done things in the past that we were not proud of and hoped that our sins would stay hidden in the darkness. But sins do not hide in the dark forever - they always manage to rear their ugly heads in the daylight and then - when we have been caught in our lies and actions - our sins are revealed for all to see.

Jesus is the Light that reveals all - not to embarrass us - but to bring us to wholeness.  He alone can dispel the darkness in our lives.  He alone can heal our hearts.  He alone can bring peace and joy into our lives.  

If you have been living with guilt and fear of exposure because of something that you have done in the past - rest assured that Jesus is the gentile healer of souls.  He comes to give your life meaning not condemnation - a wholeness not reprisal.  Jesus invites each of us to step into His Light - to enter into a new relationship with Him that will bring us eternal joy.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Diet God?

It seems like everything these days is diet this or diet that - with caffeine or  decaffeinated - regular or unleaded, etc etc etc.  There are various reasons for this trend.  Perhaps you think you need less than what the regular product offers - it may be a health benefit or maybe it is just simply less expensive or easier to deal with.

Being actively involved in our lives is a good thing - after all, it is our life.  Rather than passively allowing life and all that it entails to just happen - we take it by the reins and direct our lives in the direction that we believe it should go.  We chose options in many aspects of our lives - what we eat and drink - what we wear - what we drive - where we work - what occupation we practice - where we worship or if we worship.  There are so many choices it can become very confusing.

Today we are at a point where even worshiping God is a choice.  First of all, we have to decide if there is or is not a God - for me an easy choice - for others, not so easy.  Once an individual chooses to acknowledge the existence of God then the decisions get a little more complex.  How will we worship God - will we be mainline or go in another direction?  Do we join a church or temple or mosque - or do we practice our spirituality privately at home?  If we do join a community place of worship do we just slip in the door and observe or do we automatically sign up and become an active follower?  What about the rules - the precepts and dogmas professed by the church community - do you agree with all of them or do you go for the restaurant style where you pick and chose which beliefs you will agree with and follow?

All too many people who want to worship their God find that following all the rules - the precepts - the dogmas are too difficult - so they opt to go with diet God.  With diet God you believe most of what He has spoken - but not all.  You become the head master and in choosing diet God - you place Him in a box.  You  limit His love - His power - His authority.  

Choosing diet God you deny yourself the opportunity of experiencing the fullness of God's presence in your life.  Diet God does not fill your soul with everything that it needs because you you have elected to go with the lite version.  If you have made this decision - you will eventually realize that diet God / God lite is not what you need or deserve.  No - you deserve the fullness of God in your life.  If you have been living with the diet version - just ask God to enter your life completely - give your life over to Him - to the One who truly Loves You!  You will be amazed how good the fullness of regular God can be!

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dream Home

Is your dream home like the one being promoted by HGTV's Dream Home?  Perhaps you would like to live in a secluded area in a sparkling new home with beautiful amenities.  Or maybe your ideal location would be in the middle of a busy downtown area with hundreds of people as your neighbors.  You might prefer a home on the water so you can relax with friends on a luxury boat running charters to supplement your retirement income.  What ever your dream - whether it is one that will never be realized or one that is many  years away - it is a dream that you can hold on to - something that gives you hope for a pleasant future.

My personal dream home is a house situated where I can be happy with my spouse - relaxing and enjoying dazzling sunrises and beautiful sunsets - time to spend with friends enjoying activities (which includes bocce), dining and conversing.  Where ever I can be happy and at peace - will be my dream home.

Right now God has a dream home waiting for all of us.  At the end of our days on this earth, He will provide each of us an eternal space where we can dwell in His Holy presence.  Worries and cares will no longer exist and only everlasting joy will fill our lives.  The best part about this is that we do not have to enter a contest (two entries allowed daily), nor do we have to buy this or that product with entry form attached.  Our home with God is guaranteed to each of us - free of charge.  The price has been paid in full by His son Jesus - with His precious shed blood.  Our true dream home exists only in God - only with our Lord and Savior - Jesus Christ.

Have a large day!
Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Moving Mountains

Unless you are in the construction business, I doubt if you will actually be moving any mountains in the near future.  There may be times during the course of your normal day that you may feel as if some tasks might be as daunting as moving a mountain; however, when you give yourself time to analyze your situation - you will almost always recognize that the situation is not nearly as bad as you thought.

This same thing happens all too frequently when people are rediscovering their relationship with God.  Having been away from the church they grew up in - most people will ask "where did my church go?"  Changes in physical arrangement of the facilities or changes in the worship style and leadership and changes in the makeup of the congregation makes these even more noticeable.  Taking time to step back and intelligently review what appears to have been major changes very frequently reveals that it is not as different as what was remembered.  For one thing memories from youth rarely translate into adulthood.  What we perceived as a child, although exactly the same, as an adult will carry a different perception.  "Oh I guess it didn't change - I just didn't remember that it was this way".  So we move through the real and unreal changes as we reacquaint ourselvss with our spiritual home.  

Once done accepting those changes it is time to get down to what really matters - which is the personal relationship we may or may not have had with God.  Again - how we understand God as a child and as an adult will be very different.  As an adult you will have to change some concepts that were probably watered down when presented to you as a child - so as an adult you can now accept and understand the true concepts of your faith.  It all takes time - but as long as you keep moving in the right direction you will be successful in your task of rediscovering your relationship with God.  Be patient and give yourself time - after all God has been patiently waiting for you to move your mountains on your journey back to Him.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Saint Valentine may have been one person or many, depending on local custom.  Notwithstanding the fact that Valentinus was a popular name ascribed to many different people of both genders, it remains a fact that Valentinus/Valentine was a person worthy of note.

As each of us remember our own Valentine  this day - we proclaim to all around us that this person - this special Valentine - is a person of note.  They may be our spouse or child or other person whom we chose to recognize on this day commonly celebrated as a day of love.  Today -out of all days in the calendar year - we profess our love for these special Valentines.

Would that we should celebrate love and special people everyday of our lives - then we would truly be Christ like!

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This evening my wife and I, along with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson were privileged to attend the Children of Uganda 2012 Tour of Light performance in Glen Ellyn, IL.  It was a real treat to watch as they performed native song and dance.  I was particularly excited to attend this concert since my young cousin had spent two years in Uganda working with the Peace Corps and youth such as those who were performing.  Although her tour of duty was over years ago, she still continues to support the youth of Uganda and stays involved with them.

During her tenure in Uganda she was able to construct a library and stock it with books because of the generosity of her church family and my family.  At my home parish, we have been involved in our own way in partnering with a sister parish in Uganda supplying thousands of handmade rosaries and sending financial aide to them.

As I watched tonight's performance I could not help but think that these youth are just like the youth that our parish has partnered with and it made me proud that our parishioners have generously supported that ministry.  Helping people to live better lives, improving their living conditions and doing it all in the name of our one God - awesome!

Deacon Dale 

Sir Knight

This past Saturday I spent the majority of the day with 300+ Catholic gentlemen who participated in presentations on the history of the USA and the fine men and women who have served this country in the various armed forces.  The presentations reminded me of my father-in-law who served this country as a Navy Seabee and my younger brother who gave four years to our country also serving in the Navy.  I remember my brother's stories of carrying documents to the White House and being called by his first name by the President.  I am proud of them both.

The crowning point of the day was the Knighting ceremony in which 190 Catholic gentlemen were Knighted as 4th degree members of the Knights of Columbus.  I had the privilege of sitting next to an 89 year old gentlemen who was not only knighted but also honored for serving in WWII.  I feel privileged to have been able to assist him in the vesting ceremony and shaking his hand upon being knighted.  I am humbled that I was able to share this experience with him and my brother Knights.

The loyalty shown by all the men, women, priests and deacons gathered at the evening Mass and following banquet to the USA and the Holy Roman Catholic Church left me with a memory that I will never forget.  I am proud to call these men brothers!

Deacon Dale

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is It Soup Yet?

As a youngster it was often when mom would spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing meals for all of us kids and dad.  Breakfast, lunches and dinner occupied a lot of her time.  Quite often she would make soup and sandwiches for us for lunch.  Being typical children we were usually hungry long before mom would be ready to serve.  So very often she would hear us ask "is it soup yet?"  It got to be such a favorite expression that we extended that question to mean almost any meal or any project.  Getting ready for church - one of us being cute might ask "is it soup yet?"  As we worked on other projects around our the house - you could very often hear one or another ask "is it soup yet?"  So that phrase became equivalent with "are you ready?" or "is it done?' or "are you prepared?" for whatever.

Most of us have our pet projects that go on and on for ever and a day.  We start all excited, but then boredom or other things take a higher priority and our pet project lays in waiting - waiting for us to get back on track and complete what we started.

Unfortunately there are too many people who treat their relationship with God as a pet project.  At first they are excited and spend a lot of time with God in various ways - and then a distraction, a delay, a step backwards and they lose steam and their spiritual growth comes to a halt.  Sometimes this period of waiting is  short - for others it may be years, even decades.  The entire time Jesus is there - smiling and watching - waiting in love for them to start over to be excited again for coming closer to Jesus, closer to God.  

If you happen to be one of  those whose relationship with Jesus has grown stale and you are now contemplating getting back on track - the word is "go" just do it - start talking with God through prayer  with quite time in meditation.  He has all the time for you - he is waiting there silently thinking "is it soup yet?"

Deacon Dale  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rotting Fish?

There is an old 17th century saying that says "a fish rots from the head down".  What that is suppose to mean is that the leadership of an organization is the root cause of problems within.  

When a group makes a public statement that inflames people and causes undue conversation, arguments and unkind remarks flying back and forth - you have to wonder where the lack of wisdom came from.  You know that an entire group would rarely make these kinds of statements and upon examination it usually comes down to one or two individuals at the top of the organization who took the liberty to speak for the entire group and ended up putting all their feet in their mouths.  How do we allow this to happen?  It is very easy - either we were not involved in the discussion in the first place or we chose to not be involved - and thus we are guilty by association.  

When God first revealed Himself to people - their understanding was that their relationship was not a personal one but a group relationship.  "I will be your God and you will be by people"  (Jeremiah 31:33).  So the idea was that when one sinned - all sinned.  When one pleased God - all pleased.  Eventually the relationship with God went from a corporal relationship to a personal relationship - fathers were no longer held responsible for their son's sins, nor was a community punished for what the few did.  So today we are all captains of our own ships - we are all responsible for ourselves and our own lives.  Although we may try to influence spouses, children, family and friends - in the end it is ourselves for whom we are accountable.  When our fish stinks - we are the head and only we can be blamed for the offense.

Thinking before speaking - praying before thinking and submitting oneself to God's will should help all of us keep our boats afloat on the sea of life!

Deacon Dale  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chop Chop - Shake A Leg

Last January 2011,  I had the opportunity to travel with a group of deacons and wives on a familiarization trip to the Holy Land.  Basically it was a training trip for those of us who might bring our own group of pilgrims on a future trip.  Because of this it was a 10 day pilgrimage squeezed into a 6 day trip.  We had a lot to see and learn in a very short time.  Because of this our tour guide was heard constantly saying "chop chop - shake a leg" in order to get the group moving.  Considering that the average age of the participants was around 60 - it was not surprising that some in the group tended to either walk slow or just lag behind.  

Sometimes I wonder if this isn't the reason why so many people do not take their walk with the Lord as seriously as they should.  Maybe they think they have all the time in the world to work on that relationship, so they tend to focus on other things that they think are more important.  Many people would rather spend countless hours on the stock market, television, golf, shopping, etc, etc. instead of improving their relationship with Jesus.  This is not a wise thing to do because we all know the scripture verse that says no one knows the day or  the hour...

When we are called from this earth we will not have time to stop and catch up on our relationship with Jesus - no it will be the final call and no time left on the clock.  We need to get our priorities in order and realize that our eternal life with God will be much more important that the dollars we leave behind.  We need to focus now on our relationship and work on it now.  Chop chop - shake a leg - we don't have much time!

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kicking Back

When most people think of kicking back, they are looking forward to time away from work and other commitments and a welcomed period of relaxation.  All of us deserve "respite" time - where we can recharge our batteries and relax from our busy lives.  I value the times when I can kick back and relax.

However, there is another aspect of kicking back and that is more in line with defending yourself or your beliefs.  Today as moral people we are all being called to kick back and voice our concerns for a recent ruling by the US Government in regards to changes in health care laws and imposing rules that force people of belief to go against what they believe.  It is deplorable that in our country where we value separation of Church and State - that the State would ignore that separation and make rules that fly in the face of people's beliefs .  It is not only Christians who fear this action.  If the government is able to impose their rules on one group - what will it take before they attack the belief systems of any other group in this country.  One day it is issues like birth control and abortions and the next it could just as likely be specifying what religions are approved or what day they can meet or any other numerous idiotic ideas.  This is the kind of thing that has happened in other countries around the world - but in a nation where we profess allegiance to one Nation under God - this is unbelievable.  

As concerned citizens, each and everyone of us needs to notify our senators and congresspeople and voice our concerns for any and all actions that violate our constitutional freedoms.  If we fail to act now - we may not even have time in the future to kick back in any aspect.

Dcn Dale 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wait Loss

Although it is still early in the New Year when many people are moaning about the extra pounds put on during the holidays I do not mean to discuss Weight Loss.

I am thinking instead of people who are notorious procrastinators - those who take forever to make up their minds about almost anything. I realize that certain issues need the time to collect data and then analyze - before an intelligent decision may be made. That is understandable - but what about those who wait forever on - either very simple matters or very obvious decisions? As I have told my sons over the years - make a decision - ask God to bless it and then move on. If you realize later than you made a wrong decision - you can always change your mind and make a new decision. Very few decisions will lock you into a situation that has no escape. As one of my deacon brothers likes to say "no decision is a decision - a decision to do nothing". I find that a poor decision if you ask me.  Waiting too long means that very often opportunities are lost forever - never to be regained.  Eventually these losses build up to the point that few people will come to you for a decision since they know you have this problem.

Why is it that these perpetual procrastinators have this "wait loss" problem? Perhaps it is a lack of faith - a lack of trusting God that He has blessed them with the grace to come to a decision and move on with their life. If you are one of those with a "wait" problem then I suggest doing some exercises. Allow yourself to be put into a decision making situation and make a decision promptly  asking God to bless it and trust that it was the correct one. Make an effort daily, if possible, to make good prompt decisions. Then when those big issues come charging at you - you will be able to have an answer in a more suitable time. Trust in God - trust in His graces and trust in yourself - God does!

Deacon Dale

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Isn't that Super!

Today is Super Bowl Sunday - and what are you doing to celebrate?  Perhaps you are having a group of friends over to have a pre-game party to share food and conversation and reconnect after a busy holiday season.  Nothing wrong with that - in fact we should all take more time out of our overly busy lives and get together more often.  

Many years ago I was kidding around at work with some of the staff and we decided that we should re-invent the calendar.  My suggestion was to take the middle Wednesday of the month and rename it "Free Day".  Then whenever "Free Day" came around you would be able to do whatever you wanted to do.  If you were scheduled to work - then it became a paid day off to spend the day as you desired.  If you were already off work or retired - then you were completely free to cancel any other commitments - just for the sole purpose of getting together with family, friends, associates - whomever you wished to be with - just to celebrate life, fellowship, joyful times.

In this country we are so caught up with other obligations - we fail to celebrate life.  God never intended us to work our lives away.  No, He gave us our lives and this earth to live on and filled it with goodness - for us to enjoy.  The next time you are feeling overwhelmed by life and over committed - just declare a "Free Day" and enjoy the life God gave you.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

When is enough - enough?

There are times when you just want to scream and say ENOUGH

We have all been there - concerns over work, money, relationships, sickness, children, parents and so on - all our problems just seem to pile up into one giant ball of frustration, headache and heartache.  Enough! Stop the world - I want to get off!

But the world doesn't stop and our giant ball of whatever just goes on and on.  And, if we allow it - yes we actually are in control - it can last for what seems forever.  It is at times like that when we have to take a deep breath - maybe a very deep breath - and pause and get control of our selves.  After all we are Christians and we have a God who loves us and wants us to be happy and at peace don't we?  The answer is yes - God does not allow us to have more on our plate than we can handle and when it seems like our plate is over flowing - He gives us extra Grace to cope with whatever it is.  

When we pause and take stock in our lives and what is going on and remember that God is there to help us - we realize that our giant ball of frustration is not really so ginormous, but rather much smaller than we first realized.  When we start analyzing what is going on and deal with each issue individually - our huge pile of problems begins to melt away.  Getting up and walking around, taking a look out a window, petting the dog or cat for a few minutes distracts us enough that God can work in that tiny window of opportunity.  With God all things are possible - a phrase that I repeat quite often - and when we remember that, life becomes much easier to handle.

The next time you feel like screaming ENOUGH! - take the time to invite God into your life - and ask Him - who loves you more than you can imagine - to give you the grace to handle those obstacles of life.

In His Name
Deacon Dale 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peer Pressure

All of us have had to deal with peer pressure from time to time.  You think you know what you want to do and then a group puts the pressure on and you end up doing exactly the opposite that you originally planned on doing.  Then you kick yourself in the rear for being so weak. 

Why is it that we are so quick to crumble?  Is it because we are seeking approval from others and - fearing loss of popularity - we give in and agree to whatever it was because we do not want to disappoint?  Or perhaps there are other forces at work in our lives.  Maybe we are guilty of playing the popularity game - or maybe it will benefit us personally as we climb the corporate ladder to success or perhaps enhance our political career?  

Recently the Susan G Komen Foundation made a decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood.  What I really don't understand is why a charity whose business and focus is to raise money for breast cancer awareness, research and treatment is spending any of its donor monies on other organizations?  If I donate to the Susan G Komen Foundation, I want my monies to stay right where I sent them - to be spent on helping women face the issue of breast cancer.  Those dollars which I donated were not meant to fund any other charity or organization.  They were not intended for mens health, premature babies, etc why would that money end up outside the foundation to which it was donated?  And what is their concern with funding other causes with money donated for breast issues?  As I see it - it is wrong.  If they want to support other issues then they should lend their voice and not their dollars to those other charities and organizations.  To me it seems like a conflict of interest when charities take donated funds and use those funds in other charities unrelated to the issues they deal with.  

When Jesus came to us He invited us to share His life with Him.  He did not exert any pressure - He did not threaten us in any way.  He did offer us healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and a new life in Him.  No pressure - no high profile tactics.  No - He made us an offer and then went silent - waiting for us to digest and understand what He was offering. No pressure at all - just joy and peace.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blind leading the blind

It is sad when we come across those in a leadership position who lead others down paths not ordained by God. In Matthew 15:14 Jesus says "If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” He was warning those around him not to follow man made rules that are not of God's plan. In today's world the Church is filled with all too many blind leaders.

You just have to turn on the television or radio and you will find those who "speak for God", but do not "speak of God". The words that flow from their mouths feed their own bellies but have little to do with building up the Kingdom of God. People caught up in their own self righteousness and importance cheerfully lead blind followers down the wrong path of life. When you come across these people run - do not walk - away.

By God's grace the majority of us have good quality leaders who do "speak of God" and whose only goal is building the Kingdom of God. They do not worry about profiting for themselves but rather look to the needs of others - those who they have been sent to serve.  The next time you are around such leaders, let them know that you appreciate their honesty and hard work.  They deserve to know that you are not blind!

Deacon Dale 

Reality Check

All of us are dreamers in one way or another.  We dream of a better life, better jobs, better circumstances, better relationships.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our dreams we forget about the reality of what we have right before us.  For many people what they have would be envied by most others.  Yet for many others - the reality of their lives leaves all too much to be desired.  For a small number in this situation - the courage to change what they are experiencing just isn't there, so they go day after day not living but existing. 

To these people I suggest that they start talking to God on a regular basis and ask Him for help with their situations.  It is no surprise to me that when they do open themselves up to God things begin to happen.  If you are one of those people start now - begin a conversation with Him and listen - He will give you an answer.

Deacon Dale