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Feb 6, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 37

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Conquest and Judges

You led Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land.  They failed to teach their children, and instead did what was right in their own eyes: Help me to keep my eyes on you and teach others what is truly right.

Reflection

At the close of chapter 21, “not one of all the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”  Remember the covenant God made with Abraham, back in Genesis?  All those years before, God promised to make of Abraham’s descendants a great nation.  To be a nation requires many people and a land to live in.  Now Israel has both.  They are in possession of the land of promise and the Lord has given them rest.

The tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh that received land to the east of the Jordan are ready to return to their families.  Notice the warning Joshua gives them before blessing them and sending them on their way (chapter 22).

Joshua 23-24 gives Joshua’s farewell address and important instructions to the leaders.

Today’s Reading

Joshua 21-24

Today’s Question

Israel was up against formidable strongholds as they sought to enter and settle in the Promised Land.  What spiritual strongholds do you face as you seek to “enter the rest” of God’s kingdom?  What spiritual lessons can you learn from Israel’s struggle?

Join the discussion below!

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  • I think one “stronghold” we face is the culture around us. Our situation is very similar to the situation of the Israelites, and the warning Joshua gives is one we still need to take to heart. We need to stay true to God and trust in Him. It’s so easy to slide into accepting the values and beliefs of the world around us. It takes constant vigilance to stay focused on the Faith. I’m grateful for programs like this to help me stay vigilant.

    • Yes Andy, to be in this world and yet not of the world. It seems our cultural norms continue to become more abhorrent with each passing year. I have learned for me to minimize my television watching, surround myself with people who share the same ideals as I do, and regular prayer with daily Mass attendance help me be in the world and yet not of it. The prayer, in particular, plus regular reconciliation help me remain mindful to keep God first always. This is particularly helpful when faced with those who aren’t trying to live the ideals we are which include knowing, loving and serving God with the hope of eternal salvation. Just maybe that bright light reflecting from us, which is Jesus, may even be a spark that ignites the fire of Jesus in other people.

      • Don’t you find, Michelle, that the closer we grow in relationship with Christ the more apparent the chaos of the world becomes? I feel as you do – but I wonder if the world has always been like this, maybe I just bought into it more than I do now.

        • Kerry, I absolutely agree. We need only look at what we are reading in the OT to believe this. I think what brings this dysfunction of culture to light for me is having children. I try and keep them as shielded from what have sadly become the norms of society; listening to the lyrics heard on the radio, commercials, acceptable language….what are we to do? Most days I’d like to bury my head in the sand and pray. Instead, I go out daily wearing the armor of God. As Pope Francis has proclaimed: “Ask Jesus what he wants of you and be brave. “

    • I think this a particularly beautiful reading of these scriptures. Joshua enjoins the Israelites and us through them, to unfailing constancy in Faith and Devotion to the One True God. The stronghold we have on our side is our Faith and the scriptural and sacramental tools to develop it. And the citadels that oppose the faithful are the “glamours of the world”, our attachment to them, and our inconstancy in calling upon the Lord for His grace-filled assistance.

  • I agree with Andy. I also think we need to be aware of what we do have as gifts from God. It’s easy to become complacent and blind to his many blessings in our lives just like Joshua had to remind his people.

  • I guess it is the little things that offer the most insidious challenge to my faith; the compromises to worship when I think something else is more important; failing to pray for strength and in thanksgiving during times of peace. During times of peace is when my walls of faith begin to crumble due to spiritual atrophy. “As for me and my household, I will serve the Lord.” A favorite Scripture passage to pray during times of rest to remind me of God’s faithfulness.

  • Only the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus, and only it has been
    able to preserve all Christian truth without any error—and great numbers
    of people are coming to see this.

    Our most formidable stronghold in coming to Christ is deception. Over the last few decades many Catholics have left the Church, many dropping out of religion entirely, many joining other churches. But the traffic has not been in only one direction.Today we are seeing more than a hundred and fifty thousand converts
    enter the Catholic Church each year in the United States, and in some other places, like the continent of Africa, there are more than a million converts to the Catholic faith each year. People of no religion, lapsed or inactive Catholics, and members of other Christian churches are “coming home to Rome.” Our separated brethren hold much Christian truth, but not all of it.

    When, centuries ago, they split away from the Catholic Church, the theological ancestors of these Christians eliminated some authentic beliefs and added new ones of their own making. The forms of Christianity they established are really incomplete Christianity.

      • Yes, Michael, the only Church has link with Christ and with Apostolic succession and that can offer the fullness of means of salvation. Our baptism open the gate of heaven for us and we are guided by God’s Spirit in our life journey with the pillar of fire and pillar of truth to reach maturity of our faith to our final destiny in Christ.

  • Yes, we need definitely be vigilant in prayers especially at Mass and stay focused with daily prayer/Rosary and adoration of the Holy Eucharist. We need renewals too when we stumble in our faith journey just as the Isrealites did earlier, through reconciliation . And serve the Lord in areas we
    can handle and be mindful of the Lord’s calling/promptings in humble services.

  • One of the most challenging strongholds I need to face is my stubbornness to give my mind to God every minute and every second of the day. When God created us and gave a conscience to see what is right from wrong, I think I forget this because it seems that I think I might know better.

    “But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” Joshua 24:19.
    Wow! What words to seriously listen to! That warning made me pause and truly reflect on my life and what my spiritual priorities are!
    The second question Sarah asked made me think of controlling my ego and realizing that God plays such an important part of my daily life and I don’t even think or thank Him very much of the time. I think I really need to deal with this stubbornness of mine and think more of what God gives to me each and every day. He is such an amazing God!

  • That God is only a loving God, who will forgive all our ills…is a stronghold that is difficult for me to overcome. I have been reading these Old Testament readings and see a God who loves His people, guides them, and expects them to follow his commands…He is a commanding, strong, forceful God, who will punish if we turn away from him. God has not changed from Old Testament to New Testament…instead Jesus came as the go-between for God and man. He intervenes on our behalf. Father God, may I remember your commands to your people: There is one God and one only; and we will not put strange gods before us…that we can be punished for our stubbornness and disobedience. Break down the stronghold of thinking you are just a “push over” of a God…one who loves and forgives unceasingly…that is not the God you are. You discipline those whom you love. Lord, help me to eek out the other strongholds in my life. Amen.

    • Its true Beverly, in the OT time God’s command is so tough and punishment comes also abrupt. We understood this that the righteousness of God is perfect. God is face to face with people in dealing humanity, whereas in our modern time is through the Word and the Bible. Those commands and prophesies that are not so clear with us, today, its fulfillment is with Christ and they become clearer in the New Testament. The very first thing Jesus did upon resurrection is to provide us a means of forgiveness through confession to the Apostles and their successors when Jesus give the authority of binding and loosing. Our conviction of our sins and transformation is in accordance with our normal life journey as we sleep and wake up everyday as we put gently one leg at a time in our pants and the other leg in our pants. There is nothing to hurry in getting to heaven. Is this not the beauty of daily living granted to us by Jesus? Life, so good!!

  • Everyday I need to will myself to read the bible first thing in the morning; to not let in the outside world to influence my heart and head but to have God begin the day with me. I agree with the need to limit television and be aware of the content/message of the shows. Limiting television is not enough though for temptation to turn from God is present in all screen time: tv, movies, computers and smart phones. I’m not saying that screen time is all bad it can be good (this forum of exchanging thoughts is good) but many people fail to look up from their screens to interact with the beautiful people and world around them. When a person spends time with other people the love of God is easier to feel.

  • Joshua’s “pep talk” reminder to his people is something we need on a daily basis. I like what Kerry said with regards to “During times of peace is when my walls of faith begin to crumble due to spiritual atrophy.” We need to remember that God is always there for us in times of peace and in times of distress. I can relate a lot to this so thank you Kerry. I also like “love the LORD, your God,c follow him in all his ways, keep his commandments, hold fast to him, and serve him with your whole heart and your whole self.” Isn’t this a good daily reminder and statement when we face strongholds in our lives. I constantly face anxieties of every day life and all too often let them take control of me rather than trusting God will see me through. Just this morning, I noticed some water on my lawn which is surely a leak underground. I called the town who did nothing for me. I realized all morning I stressed about it, about the money that I don’t have to fix it, about how all day today I will have to deal with this which I am. But then I realized I wasted a morning with my kids at home and rather than enjoy them I stressed about this. Please God continue to allow me to have faith in you as you do me. Allow me to see and feel your presence and take comfort in knowing you are here. Allow me to relinquish all anxieties to you so that I can see and enjoy what is good and know that the rest will take care of itself. Please forgive me for the times that I stray from this and let the negativity and anxieties take over. I ask this of you today and always.

    • Good for you, Mark, that you recognized your stress and the negative impact of it so early in the day! And you aren’t wasting another one on it! We are all on a continuing journey toward greater faith in God. Thanks for sharing. I will pray for your water situation.

    • The best way I know of letting God help me in my stress or any other need is to humbly get on my knees and sometimes prostrate my whole body before Him and ask Him for His help. And praying the Rosary with each bead for some person helps me get out of myself, see how many people I know who need prayer, and no one can bring us closer to Jesus than His Mother.

    • What a beautiful prayer mg. This is something we should all pray about as we are all guilty of letting negativity take control of us. It seems easier these days to worry than
      to hand everything to our Lord in trust. Bless you and yours.

  • My greatest stronghold has been self-hatred. It has led me to the brink of self-destruction several times in my life. There is one thing I have learned about “you cannot flee from God He will persue you and catch you in the end make no mistake about that. .

    • We can be most critical of ourselves, I know I am! Many times feel no matter what I do, it is not good enough and so I get frustrated. I am glad that somehow God intercepted your thoughts of destruction because I can clearly see from all your postings that you are a beautiful person. That is what I see. May God continue to bless you.

      • It was not me who was critical of myself, but my mother. She pounded it into my head that I was lazy, worthless, and stupid. The stupid part was that I was not using my brain (I was and it was frustrating A-‘s were not acceptable) She always told me I would God had terrible punishments in store for me. That lasted even to the day I told her I had cancer. She saw that as my fault and an affront to her. A very large stronghold indeed.

        • Barbara, your mother caused you to devalue your self-worth. I echo Luz’s remarks and I hope you are now strong enough in the Lord not to be influenced by her negativity. The devil wants us to believe his lies. I feel sorry for your mother. She is captive within Satan’s stronghold. I was having a conversation just the other day with someone who said how people who put us down do it out of their own insecurities.

          I also, was put down and held down by the criticisms of another person. In order to appease him, I would then say, “you’re right… I was wrong… I’m no good”. But since then, through a deep and determined prayer life (remember Joshua 1:9) I have come to believe that what you speak becomes reality. So therefore, I choose to speak life-affirming words. “I AM strong. I AM a good person. I WILL do it.” If we believe we will never amount to anything, we never will. If we believe in the promises of God, we WILL receive His love, His strength, His blessings.

          • Nicely put Marianne, it is easy to believe the negatives when your self-esteem is low. Barbara I’m pleased that you are over all this, and have found your self worth through prayer. He gives us different talents, and remember (the cross)we get closer to him in our sufferings. Pray for your Mum and thank her for your life.

        • Does your mother now praise God for the cure? This is a wonderful opportunity for YOU to tell your mom that all the praise and glory goes to Him!

          • Sadly, my mother’s mental powers have declined, She has had to accept 24 hour care. She cannot be as controlling as she was before. This attitude has damaged all her relationships throughout her life. Now perhaps “less is more” by having less mental power she may see God’s works more clearly. I do pray for her but praying is part of the act of forgiveness.

      • Barbara I am sorry you are blamed for having an illness. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Certain things in life are NOT in our control, and cancer is one of them. My mother is also very critical of when she meets people and of all her children. Sometimes that is very hard to handle but I can’t change her, it is part of her personality. All we can do is put our best foot forward, pray for strength for the times we need to be patient and forgiving, as well as praying for the other person – may their hearts be softened to acts of love and compassion instead. By the way, I just received my new book today that you recommended: Mother Theresa and the beatitudes. Thank you!

        • That is so wonderful. I hope you and your patients find as much comfort as my friend and I found, I have become a great admirer of soon to be St. Teresa of Calcutta
          I realize now that the devil was putting the words into my mothers mouth Two of her children have left the church entirely. One of her children is an indifferent Catholicm often skipping Mass when there is something better to do (ie Golf) My sister and I are the only ones that attend Church every Sunday. And there were times when I only attended when convienient

          • I too was guilty of skipping mass, however when I self reflected at the end of last year I realized I had my priorities all wrong. I have since promised God that I would not let life get in the way of praising Him the way he deserves.

    • You are a child of God, an heir to the throne, Barbara Ann. When our earthly parents come up short, remember who your true Father is and how lovingly He created you – in His image. I feel this about you. I will pray for your mother, that the darkness which taken root in her heart may be displaced by light before it’s too late.

    • I too have suffered from self-hatred and making self-destructive decisions. I have found that although I stray from prayer, the Church and the sacraments I feel that I cannot seem to flee from God, He reminds me and nudges me back to His flock. When I had a particularly bad year, with a suicide attempt by a family member and job losses that were devasting I just left, enough! It took me a year to come back to the flock! “As for me and my household, we will serve The Lord”. Right now I am once again going through trials and I feel Satan is smirking just waiting but I know I must put on the armor of God and stay faithful. Thank you Lord for all you have given me, I trust in you!

      • I hope God’s strength got you through your trials and that you are now in a better place. May God continue to bless you and yours.

    • Barbara Ann, I’m guessing that you have grown spiritually in the past one year. Remember, the devil wants to mess with our minds so that we’ll believe the lies we hear or tell ourselves. I used to also believe the lies and didn’t think I was good enough. But with the grace of God… Now I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. I also believe that what you speak becomes reality, so it’s best to “speak INTO reality” what you want to achieve.

      Many people define themselves by their past mistakes. There’s a great story behind the song “Hello My Name Is” by Matthew West. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJWQzjfU3o

      He speaks of a young man, who began his story with, “Hello my name is Jordan, and I’m a drug addict”. It’s “everyone’s” story and a must read. http://www.matthewwest.com/the-stories/the-story-hello-my-name-is/

      I find this especially true with NA and AA members who post a label on themselves. Don’t get me wrong, addicts need support and they have been effective, but I question those who say, “Hello my name is — and I’m an alcoholic”, especially after 20 years. I think it does a disservice to the speaker, because I think he or she gets into this mentality rut where the alcoholism still holds them captive through the disease, because of their inability to let go of that label. Could be just me, so I apologize in advance if I offend. Jesus forgave the criminal next to Him and in an instant, he went from being a sinner to a saint. We can too. “I am a child of the One True King”.

  • Standing steadfast in my faith and constantly rebuking Satan. I agree with Jose, the
    Catholic church is the only true church, (I always say to other denominations) when they are preaching hatred towards catholics, that we are the vine, they are the offshoots. We see Satan attacking our priests (lets pray for them) and those who are lukewarm by taking them
    away from the church – but praise God the church is still alive and as scripture says the gates of hell will never prevail. I try to go to daily mass (when possible), and daily rosary (mediating on the mysteries). I sometimes do adoration, stations of cross, reading scripture, devotions to the saints and all the other sacramentals – so much to keep us close to our Jesus. We in the catholic faith are blessed – we have a wealth of treasures to help us on our journey to salvation.

    • Thank you Jacqueline, and I congratulate you with your devotion, the highest of all is the Eucharist celebration. It’s so good to attend daily masses, if possible. In our witnesses in faith as lay we always keep our virtue of patience and in a non-invasive way because we know the sects are believing and we hear their attacks to the Catholics. I have been joining regularly Protestant services and bible study, not in conflict with our Mass. because they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ and they also possessed truth, but not all truth. We also say like what they confess, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. But there is more than that as Catholic confess, in addition to that, we also confess that we believe all Christ teachings rejecting nothing. That addition is what they cannot affirm, for they do not believe all Christ teaching in the Bible. Their attacks to the Catholics were all long been answered by the Church, especially during the Middle Ages when there were many arguments that transpired as defended by our Early Fathers of the Church, so pervasive that their arguments were like steel to steel argumentation. If it happen you do not have the answer to their question, just politely say, I will get back to you with the answer and if you have email address, I will send it you as soon as possible. Then you have the time to find the answer.

  • The spiritual strongholds we face today are the false idols that mask themselves in beauty, ease and temptation to lure us away from serving the One True God. The things of the world that many people admire and strive to achieve may lead to a temporary popularity or success, but they don’t even realize the sacrifice of the soul.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, we are surrounded by the even more dangerous idols of greed, wealth, material possessions, success, fame, jealousy, drugs, alcohol and other addictions, the brain-deadening lure of television, etc.

    It’s very easy for me to remain faithful when I’m in the company of fellow believers. But what about when we’re “out in the world”? Whether in the workplace, at the mall, at the movie theatre, or even driving out of the church parking lot. Daily life is full of choices we make in what we do and what we say.

    The lessons we can learn from the history of Israel is that God’s command was very clear: be faithful, obedient and do not follow false gods and you will be blessed beyond measure. The opposite is also true: disobedience and allegiance to false gods will release His anger, wrath and punishment.

    I find that the best way not to fall prey to these idols is to put God first in all that I do. Give thanks and pray constantly.

    “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

    • As St. Paul stresses: Be in the world, but not of the world. We receive spiritual strength through worship and participation in the Sacraments; through prayer – personal and communal; through Scripture study. And then we are called to run to the darkness. Hard, but we must remember we are called not to separateness, like the Israelites, but mercy, like Christ.

  • Hi all,

    I am ashamed to say that I don’t participate too much in the discussions but I do read.
    I thank you for all your wonderful incites.
    God Bless you all

        • I could be wrong, but I interpreted our new friend Jeanne’s reference to shame as pertaining to her reading but not participating in the discussions. There are many people who read the material on this web site without making comments. It’s not a requirement, and in my opinion, no reason for shame. So don’t feel bad, Jeanne.

          I find this a powerful Scripture to reflect on, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

          Or “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25: 35) Jesus does tell us this!

          • I try to look for the positive in all things; this includes seeing the good in people. I think we need to lift each other up. I think it enables us to draw strength from one another as we are all striving to increase our faith and deepen our commitment to being apostles for the Lord.

          • I too always read the comments for insight but never comment so thank you all for helping me understand the Word a little better!!

    • Jeanne, welcome to this bible group. I have some verses to recommend, good verses for reading. “If you are ashamed of me, I am ashamed of you before my Father.” Did Jesus really say that?

      Referring to Luke 9:26, which reads: For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” The Gospel of Luke takes up this theme again in chapter 12, verses 8 and 9, where the author has Jesus say: “And I tell you every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

      • Jose, Thank you for your concern but Marianne hit the nail right on the head.

        I am ashamed of my self for not participating more.
        God Bless

        • Jeanne, you are now perfectly participating, and surely not your own, but our most loving Lord chose you to here. Rejoice Jeanne while the Lord cheers you up!!

  • Having just revisited this page, I discovered that my comment from this morning seems to have vanished. Never mind. I thought about a number of things and they all led to the one stronghold of self. What I want, how I feel etc. It cleverly distracts me from the real issues e.g. when people chat during the Eucharist adoration or mass, I got annoyed with them. But surely the real issue was not what they were doing, but the fact that I was not giving my undivided attention to Him. If I truly gave Him my complete attention, then I should be able to close myself to these distractions.

    It is the wrong bits of self that get in the way and the right bits that sometimes get neglected e.g. lately I have been a tad out of sorts spiritually. After much soul searching and prayer, I drew a frustrating blank. Out of the blue the words came into my mind “How about giving?”. Yes I do give regularly but I knew this was not about regularity or amounts, it was about love and compassion. Before the envelope was sealed and stamp attached, I could feel myself shifting in the right spiritual direction, and then moved to the great joy that comes with giving beyond the regular monthly direct debits.

    • Amen, Liz! Now that you mention it, sometimes when I pray, I find myself getting distracted. I mention a person by name, and then suddenly I’m thinking about that person, my relationship to that person, the situation, etc. and then I realize that minutes passed by and I had stopped praying.

      We probably all have dry periods of feeling out of focus and out of sorts spiritually, but I hate it when my mind seems to want to do its own thing. I just have to remember that Satan doesn’t want me to be in deep fellowship with God. He is the great deceiver and he wants to jumble my thoughts and confuse my mind.

      Part of my daily prayer is “Teach me to be obedient. Teach me TO FOCUS. Teach me the will of God.”

      • Thank you for sharing those experiences, I can identify! With these discussions it is helpful to hear how we all have moments of human weakness & are struggling to get closer to God. Thus we give encouragement to each other.

        • Thank you for your comments, Fran. I think it’s wonderful that we are part of a community where we can not only learn but also lift one another up with words of hope and encouragement. Peace, Mar

      • I am sure God understands and he loves to hear from us whatever we have to say so if our mind wanders then that in itself is prayer!

  • The UN this week criticised the Catholic Church for it’s handling of child abuse. They also criticised the church for its stance on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. The spiritual strongholds we face not only happen outside out church and they weaken the church’s ability to teach or witness in many areas. We are the church and we somehow have to hold fast to the Lord and share his love with our world even in the face of threat, humiliation, and indignity. Pope Francis is a gift to us and a faithful leader at this time. Compassion and humility as well as absolute joyful confidence that our world needs to encounter Christ are qualities he brings at this time (amongst many others).

    • Liza, we need to stand in the truth, which is Jesus. I have challenged my youth group to learn about the social teachings of the church. Using the example of homosexuality to teach this lesson I encountered clenched jaws and polite defiance with one student pointing out I would not change his mind that homosexuality should be accepted. Why do they believe this is okay? In my opinion, it’s because we as lay leaders and parents within our parishes and communities do a poor job of teaching that which is counter to what is being taught in our secular society and most notably, public schools. Whether the students agree with the church’s position it must be presented as what it is, a message of love and not hate as those hoping to derail the Church hope. My children attend public schools and I have had to call a principal before because my daughter was unknowingly brought to a forum of gblt parents explaining why they are capable of raising families just as heterosexual families. My argument was my husband and I should have been allowed to sit on the forum giving our opinion. I was told gblt members are fully protected under the law. Wow! My husband and I are not afforded this same protection. Again, this is my opinion but we are at war with what have become the cultural norms. It is heart breaking. We must stand in what we know is the truth and move forward. “Ask Jesus what he wants of us and be brave-“Pop Francis

      • Hi Michelle, I agree that the church position needs to be presented within the context of love and compassion. I have 4 children and also work with youth. Our Bishop put it very well when he explained that our Christ given expression of compassion and the teaching of the church that restricts ours and others freedoms is a conflict which we experience within ourselves. It is of course our growth in understanding sin informed by conscience and our church. This takes a long time and young people need to grow in their own wisdom.
        I am sorry that you were not heard by the gblt group: it is tough when freedom to express faith is so restricted. The love of Christ for all can still shine through in other ways, and of course it is extremely important they all know they are infinitely loved by God.

        • Sadly enough it wasn’t the group that wouldn’t listen to my point of view, it was the principal of the school. When ALL opinions are not given equal footing to opine we are in big trouble. This is why it’s imperative we know the Church’s stance on each issue because it is a position of love and understanding and most importantly, the Truth! Have a blessed evening.

      • Hello my good friend Christian 12 Steps! It’s been a while since we’ve “seen” you on this forum. I hope you are enjoying a warm day of sunshine..

        Satan knows we’re getting stronger, with the revitalized efforts of the New Evangelization, a strong leader in Pope Francis, and energized Catholics and Catholic converts. So the enemy is going to try to strike us even harder.

        But we shall stand, united in Christ and strong!

          • Yes, we have a very active and diverse group. It’s wonderful to be growing in our faith, sharing our hopes and our struggles and best of all, our love of the Lord.

  • I feel my greatest spiritual hurdle is truly living my life the way I believe Jesus wants me too. Although like many of you have posted I am sometimes distracted during prayer. However, I feel that any moments I am spending giving devotion to or praying for others or even asking for guidance, God is pleased with me, even if I become momentarily distracted. Being of this world, however, there are many more hours in each day where I feel like I am devil-fodder. Being pulled and tempted into behavior, such as listening to gossip, is just one example. Sometimes, however, it seems the only way for me to reach eternal salvation is to lock myself indoors and take a vow of silence. I am only being partially sarcastic, here. I believe Joe had answered a similar post of mine with “those times when we are out are opportunities to spread God’s good news.” Absolutely, he was correct but also correct is I am weak. That being said, how do I go about ensuring EVERY MINUTE of each day is spent attempting to know, love and serve our Lord? I know that God has MADE me worthy of his eternal love but AM I TRULY worthy of his eternal love?

    • I know what you mean, Michelle. It’s very challenging to live in the world when it seems like it would be so much simpler to lock ourselves indoors and shut out the outside world. Would that we could! Satan wants us to live in doubt and darkness.

      However, I don’t think God wants most of us to do that, though He has given that calling to some. Our intercessory prayers are so important, but I think in this day and age, what with the state that the world is in, God is calling us to be disciples, much like the apostles and the early Christians of the first century. So many people need to learn… from us!

      This weekend’s readings are so appropriate. Isaiah calls us to help those in need: “ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard… if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:7-10)

      (Jesus said to his disciples) “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

      Imagine… Jesus is calling for US to be light for the world!

      • Hello Marianne, I always like your comments, yes every person is called to holiness, we should offer God all our happy moments as thanksgiving as well as our daily problems -begging for His help- All the “little things” to Him, with love (St.Theresa) and in/from every place we were (St.Jose Maria Escriva).

    • this is where I think if you are a nun in a contemplative order, it must be easier but I expect they would disagree!

  • After crossing the Jordan the Israelites had to fight for a long time before they acquired the Promised Land. Thus we, after our holy Baptism, must fight against the enemies of our souls, especially against evil inclinations and passions. In todays world, as we move further from the Biblical events we are now reading about, society finds it harder and harder to believe. And with the wealth that many of us experience (not speaking of the super-wealthy) we have many struggles as well. “Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus … He also that strives for the mastery is not crowned except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:3, 5). As a reward, we shall receive the everlasting possession of heaven.

    Then there is what is dubbed our “favorite” sin: Fight especially against your besetting sin. Make a good resolution to overcome it every day, and let it be the object of your particular examination of conscience. We also cannot reach the promised land of heaven by our own strength, but only by the help of God’s grace. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down”: full of faithful confidence in God, we must do exactly everything that God commands, and through our faithful obedience, like the Israelites, God works the miracles.

  • We all face strongholds everyday whether physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, etc. The key is to never forget that we are following Gods plan and we must remain faithful to him. Let go and let God per se.

    I always think back to the last few words of mass: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. What powerful words that will break through any stronghold we may face. A pep talk to prepare us of the week because in Church I feel a sense of communal strength but then out those doors its a whole new world of tests, sometimes individual. If we remember those words and take it week by week or day by day, we will be okay. And just one reason why I have a huge pet peeve of people that leave mass early 🙂

    • The Scriptures tell us that God provides the weapons we need to fight the spiritual strongholds in our lives:
      “Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

      “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done evesrything, to tand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

  • The strongholds fought by the Israelites are not so different than those we face today – the challenges are the same, the “form” is different. Today, we face the many who believe in material gain as their gods and we can easily be sucked into that belief through exposure and association. Much of the world is desensitized to violence and some even seem to feed on it; by not filtering out what we watch, read and attend, we risk the same effect … becoming accustomed to violence and evil without putting it into perspective to see it as it is – evil – instead, we should base our beliefs on the teachings of the Church. Much of what happens in the world today – video games, movies, events – is still evil even if commonplace.
    It is human nature to congregate in groups as we are not traditionally true loners; this need to be accepted by a group is in itself a stronghold as we may compromise our values, morals and ethics to be accepted. The upshot to this would be to associate with a moral, ethical, value-based group or groups and live as the Lord as asked.
    Like the Israelites, we fall into grumbling and murmuring because things get hard or inconvenient and we begin to take the shortcuts like absorbing those around us who have contrary beliefs because it is easier (the Israelites allowed the Canaanites to embed with their tribes) and by doing so we become exposed to and accepting of their ways because of familiarity. Like being desensitized to evil, it is easier to go along than to do right. The outcome could be the same, we become tainted with ungodly practices. Yet another stronghold encountered.
    Many strongholds blocking our way to heaven are those in our mind – the struggle with self-image (being good enough) as determined by the world around us instead of the guideposts set by the Lord and His Church. Anger, sadness, and feeling of attack by others causes us to strike out in deeds or words; these are strongholds to our being the person inside that God desires.
    While the strongholds remain many, we have so many weapons to overcome them. Prayers, Mass, the Church’s teachings, guidance of our magisterium, the Ten Commandments, our priests and other religious not to mention the models we have our saints are all the arrows in our quivers to use against these strongholds – quite an arsenal. There is so much from which we can pull strength; we only have to call upon the Blessed Mother, the Lord, His Son, our saints and angels to help us through the mire.

    • I saw the unveiling of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on Jimmy Fallon the other night. Boy, your thread reminds me of my initial and sustained reaction: stunned by how far the envelope is being pushed in the “desensitization” department of our society! It is pornography….I celebrate the human body, both male and female, as beautifully created by God; yet the model on the cover is less about celebrating the beautiful body and more about objectifying it. This is my humble opinion, of course, and I have never considered myself a prude. It is just that I think they had to airbrush the truth of her femininity (if you know what I mean) away in order to avoid the brown wrapper rule.

  • Andy’s words are exactly how I feel. Our culture is pagan. It takes vigilance to be faithful to the Lord. The Jews were reminded by Joshua to be faithful many times. I thought when the Reubenites, Gadites and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh built an altar and were confronted less they be offering worship away from the law whereas only the Levites could offer sacrifice: but these tribes had an altar of rememberance only so that their children would learn to reverence God. This was an example of being accountable to the leadership that they were confronted but also shows how these tribes took seriously their job to train their children. It was a sign of witness to the children.
    It was a sign also of the Israelite nation keeping the tribes accountable. Our society tends to make everything shades of gray or rationalize everything or tolerance so that what the Lord rules are watered down.

  • Our culture is definitely a stronghold for us all to deal with, but on a personal level, I find pride is a huge obstacle to deepening my relationship with Jesus. Pride can take so many forms and I find I’m not always aware of some of the most insidious forms that affect me. I have to pray daily for the Holy Spirit to show me my sins, like a flashlight shining on them so I can’t help but see them. Utilizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation is then like at spot light on those same sins, shining brighter light to show many more details that the flashlight didn’t show. Only by fully illuminating the details of my sins can I begin to overcome them. Then at Mass I ask Jesus to use His Most Perfect Food, the Eucharist, to help heal me of my sinful ways. The more often I attend Mass, partake in Holy Communion and visit Christ in the confessional, the more successful I am at breaking down the strongholds of my sin, and yes, even the lures of our culture. Thank you, Lord, for giving us these wonderful sacraments to help us in our desire and efforts to follow You!

  • I struggle every day with my personal spiritual strongholds. Some of the chapters of Joshua have taught me how much I have been like the Israelites in my past life. So many things I never realized about views, thoughts or actions I’ve had that would also block me from the Promised Land, or things I took for granted which I shouldn’t have. I wonder why I never understood or learned these things when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. How many long years it took Israel to learn about trusting God, might match the number of my spiritual years when I was wandering in my own desert. I only hope I can face the challenge and clear the path to accept my inheritance to enter God’s Kingdom with “grace” and “humility”.

  • “If you will be my people, I will be your God,” is a constant reminder of covenant to the People of God. God does not force Himself upon us but offers Himself for us to chose Him. When we do, we know the difference and the joy that only Christ can bring us. When Joshua leaves the people (as recorded in the last chapters of the Book of Josue or Joshua),, he asks them if they will obey God. They tell him–“What God has told us to do, we will do .” Joshua is persistent and asks again and again before he died. He tells the people the miracles and the wonders that God has worked for them. Again, they tell Joshua that they will do what God tells them to do. During that time, the people follow the Lord. When Moses disobeyed God and struck the rock twice, Fr. Ignatius Schuster, in that children’s 1950 classic of the Bible, Bible History (one of my favorites), says that what Moses did was a venial sin. Just think of that, a venial sin, and God punishes him by not allowing him to enter the Promised Land. So, too, we have to be perfect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God is all pure and holy and we have to be holy without spot of sin in his sight. If sin remains that is venial (and not mortal when we die and not repentant of it), we have to be cleansed in the fires of purgatory which mainly are the sufferings of not seeing the face of Jesus until we are perfected.

  • St. Colette (1381-1447) pray for us! She did not want the light of the world, for people to look highly of her and yet, by her doing what God wanted, she got a lot of attention. She asked God to make her beauty less attractive for men were seeking her, and God answered her prayers. She was born in Corbie, France. She followed the Franciscan Third Order Rule. She became an anchoress, a woman walled up in a room with only an opening to the church. Four years of prayer and penance in this cell, she left it. The pope encouraged her to join the Poor Clares, and she reintroduced the primitive Rule of St. Clare in the 17 monasteries she established. Her sisters were known for their poverty. They rejected any fixed income. They were known for their perpetual fast. She introduced a reform movement. which spread to other countries and it is still thriving today. She was canonized in 1807. She began her reform during the Great Western Schism of 1378-1417, the time of St. Joan of Arc. This schism was when three men claimed to be pope. Western Christianity was divided. Many abuses during this time which hindered the church in the next century. She says in her spiritual testament–“We must faithfully keep what we have promised. If through human weakness we fail, we must always without delay arise again by means of holy penance, and give our attention to leading a good life and to dying a holy death. May the Father of mercy, the Son by his holy passion, and the Holy Spirit, source of peace, sweetness and love, fill us with their consolation. Amen.”
    St. Collette pray for us!

  • The journey followed is the one God has in store for us. This particular journey is one solely with and for The Lord. Therefore, stay strong in faith and trust with God and one can rest assure eternal glory. Tough road with a lot of false gods and false worshippers to recognize and stay away from.

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