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Bible

Do You Trust God?

A man fell over a cliff and, as he tumbled down, managed to grab on to a bush growing from the side of the rock. Terrified, he hung in space, his life flashing before him. In desperation, he shouted toward heaven, “Is there anyone up there?” To his astonished delight, a voice floated down: “I am the Lord God, and I am here.” “What should I do?” called the man. The voice replied, “Let go of the branch and, with my protection, you will float harmlessly down to the beach below.” The man glanced under his feet to the jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff, hundreds of feet below. He gulped, and looked back toward heaven.

“Is there anyone else up there?”

It’s easy to trust God when there isn’t too much at stake. When putting your faith in Him involves parting with your money or trusting Him with your future, however, it becomes increasingly difficult. Why is that? Essentially, it happens because of a lack of trust. Even though Jesus promised that those who sacrifice for His sake in this life (Mark 10:29-30) will be rewarded in Heaven, we struggle to believe His words. Instant gratification, on the other hand, requires no trust and delivers a lesser (but immediate) reward. It seems like a safer option.

In today’s First Reading, we learn of a widow who used all of her flour and oil to bake bread for the prophet Elijah. Even though it could have caused the woman and her son to starve, she obeyed the command of the prophet. Why? Because she trusted that God would provide, as promised by Elijah. Her trust was rewarded and their supply of oil and flour did not run out. Similarly, in today’s Gospel, a poor widow gave all that she had because of her trust in God’s providence.

According to the dictionary, trust is defined as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed”. Every day we have the opportunity to trust God with our finances, relationships and future. Today we learned of two widows who trusted that the Lord was good for His word. There may have been fear involved, but they trusted anyway. Their faith was rewarded. God is asking you to trust Him in some way today.

Are you willing to imitate the widows or would you rather play it safe?

Jesus, Are You Listening?

One of the most challenging narratives in the Bible involves a Canaanite woman who approached Jesus and asked Him to heal her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). When reading about this encounter, our attention is typically drawn to the seemingly harsh words used by Christ when he states that it isn’t fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. While there are many things I could say about what the Lord said when approached by the desperate woman, let’s first focus on what He didn’t say.

But he did not say a word in answer to her. (Matthew 15:23)

Wow! This poor woman is begging for her daughter to be healed from demonic possession and Jesus didn’t even answer her. How would you react to that kind of response? I agree that it sounds brutal, but let’s dig a little deeper. Scripture tells us that Jesus did not answer the woman, but it says nothing about His non verbal response. Did He smile, nod His head, close His eyes thoughtfully, turn around and glance at her with compassion? It’s certainly possible.

Are you frustrated that Jesus isn’t responding to your cries for help? You pour out your heart and all you hear is silence. The fact that Jesus isn’t responding in the way you expect does not imply that He isn’t listening or doesn’t care. If you have any doubt, think about His death on the Cross. That was done out of love for you. Rather than accuse Him of ignoring you or not caring, try to imagine Him looking at you with compassion, gently holding your hand or giving you a big hug. Let your imagination help you to see how much He cares.

As for the Canaanite woman, the Lord was giving her a chance to put her faith into action. She knew Jesus could make her daughter well and her persistence was rewarded with a total healing. Jesus loves you and wants to help you with your problems. Whatever you do, don’t stop asking!

The Didache Bible – A Perfect Combination Of Scripture And Tradition!

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak endorses the Didache Bible from the Midwest Theological Forum and Ignatius Press

In the Vatican II document Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church makes a powerful statement:

Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.
(Dei Verbum, 9)

Basically, the above excerpt reminds us of the danger of reading the Bible “in a vacuum” or without regard to the teaching of the Church. Since the Bible was compiled by the Catholic Church, it makes perfect sense that it should be read with Catholic teaching in mind. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible that we could derive some erroneous messages from its pages. Far from being a hypothetical danger, this is a real pitfall that happens frequently. Fortunately, we have a great summary of Catholic teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. While this can aid us in reading the Bible, however, what if we’re not too familiar with the Catechism? How can we read Scripture without fear of misinterpretation?

I was recently given a complimentary copy of the Didache Bible from the folks at Midwest Theological Forum and I was blown away. I have many different Bibles in my possession, some with excellent Catholic commentary, but I’ve never seen one like this. This version contains an extensive commentary which is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In the Didache Bible, you can read the Ignatius Bible Edition (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition) supplemented with commentary taken directly from the Catechism. In addition, there are 100 explanations spread throughout the Bible that help to answer common questions about the faith. It doesn’t get much better than that!

If you are looking for a solid Catholic Bible (the RSV-CE is my favorite edition), I strongly encourage you to check out the Didache Bible from Midwest Theological Forum. You won’t be disappointed!

(Gary Zimak is a Catholic speaker and author who travels throughout the United States and Canada giving inspirational talks and leading parish missions and retreats. Click HERE to invite Gary to speak at your parish or conference or to inquire about his availability.)

Finding Peace In A Crazy World!


 

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak disusses how to stop worrying while living in a crazy world

Are you growing increasingly uneasy about all of the craziness in the world? Do you find yourself worrying about Ebola, Isis, date breaches and the state of the economy? Relax! Jesus Christ is bigger than any of these problems and He doesn’t want you to worry. Beginning tonight at 8 PM Eastern on the Following The Truth radio show, I’ll begin a 3 part series designed to help you to stop worrying about the world’s craziness. The only script I’ll use is my Bible.

Please join me for 30 minutes each night as we hear what God has to say and look for practical ways to stop worrying. Please share the news with your friends. The only thing you have to lose is your anxiety!

Great Advice From Mom…”Do Whatever He Tells You!”


 

Catholic Speaker, Author and Radio Host Gary Zimak reflects on his book about the Blessed Mother and her words in the Bible

For most of my life as a Catholic, I was confused about the role of Mary. While I accepted the fact that she was important to Catholics, I didn’t understand WHY she was important. That changed BIG TIME for me a few years ago when I finally saw the light and accepted her as my spiritual mother. As a result, my life changed drastically and she has brought me closer to Jesus than I ever thought possible. I’d like to tell you about my “Mom” by looking at what is recorded about her in the Bible. Her message is a powerful one. I think you should listen!

Here’s what other Catholic authors are saying about my book, Listen To Your Blessed Mother:

“Biblical, personal, engaging, and thought provoking are just a few words that come to mind when reading this wonderful book! The Virgin Mary truly is our BLESSED Mother, and listening to her words in Scripture can help us to become blessed, too. Gary Zimak has done a great service for both Catholics and non-Catholics in offering a book that unpacks the biblical words of Mary in a very conversational and easy-to-follow style. The reflection questions and points to ponder at the end of each section will be of great benefit to the reader, too! I highly recommend this book!”

(Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, STL, Author – Under the Mantle: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest)

“Listen to your Mother! How many times did we hear those words growing up? How many times did we roll our eyes and ignore the sage advice only to find out later on that Mom indeed did and does know best, especially our Blessed Mother. Now, straight from Scripture, Gary Zimak has given us even more reason to pay close attention to what our Mother, as in Mary has to say about living a grace filled life in this world so we can be with her and her son in the next. This book will definitely bring you closer to the heart of Christ through the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God.”

(Teresa Tomeo,Syndicated Catholic Talk Show Host,Best Selling Catholic Author)

“In Listen to Your Blessed Mother, using Scripture and personal stories, author Gary Zimak takes us by the hand and unambiguously leads us to a greater appreciation of our Mother in heaven so that we might strive to imitate her virtues while allowing Mary to take us by the hand to her Son Jesus. Highly recommended!”

(Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN TV Host and author of sixteen Catholic books including The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers, and Devotions)

“With candor and simplicity, Gary Zimak reveals the power of Mary’s words in Sacred Scripture. No matter where you are in your spiritual life — or in your relationship with the Blessed Mother — this book will help you find new meaning and guidance in her words: words that Zimak shows are applicable to any of the problems or decisions you face each day.”

(Vinny Flynn, Author of 7 Secrets of the Eucharist, 7 Secrets of Confession, and 21 Ways to Worship)

“When I was given an opportunity to review Listen to your Blessed Mother, I hesitated only because of the full plate I was dealing with at the time. When I finally dove into this wonderful book, I realized that Gary Zimak has written a beautiful love story about our Blessed Mother and one which needs to be shared with everyone. His description of his growing love of Mary from his childhood to the powerful impact her intercession has had on his life as an adult is riveting. His use of scripture about the Blessed Mother and the few words spoken by her helps the reader share in her life and purpose. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter challenge us to grasp the role of the Blessed Mother in our own lives. I strongly recommend this book!”

(Randy Hain, author of Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith and co-founder of Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine)

“Jesus is our brother, and so his Father is our Father, his mother is our mother. How sad that so few Christians know the perfect maternal love that God has given us in his family. Jesus tells us beloved disciples, ‘Behold your mother.’ What a sweet command! And Gary Zimak has made it sweeter still.”

(Mike Aquilina, EWTN host and author of more than 30 books on Catholic history, doctrine and devotion)

“Gary has given us great insights about our Blessed Mother Mary in Scripture which makes this not only a wonderful book for Catholics but also a great resource for evangelizing those outside the Church. This is definitely a book you can share with your evangelical friends to help them come to know and love our Mother Mary.”

(Gail Buckley, Founder & President. Catholic Scripture Study International)

“It’s such an obvious way to follow Jesus through Mary, that I’m surprised this book was not written before. While some think going directly to Jesus is the fastest and surest way, Gary shows us how wrong that thinking is. He shares his own zig-zag journey to Mary as a way to grow closer to Christ. Though Mary in the Bible, Gary helps us to relish her role in salvation history, reflect on her life, and embrace her love for us.”

(Patti Maguire Armstrong, award-winning author and managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series)

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!!!

Coming Soon…Listen To Your Blessed Mother!

 

I’m excited to officially announce my second book, Listen To Your Blessed Mother (Mary’s Words In Scripture). Coming in August 2013 from Liguori Publications, it will be a reflection on Mary’s words in the Bible. Matt Swaim, author and producer of EWTN Radio’s Son Rise Morning Show, has graciously agreed to write the foreword.

This book has been a labor of love and I’m anxious to share my thoughts on my Blessed Mother with you. The idea started when I did a series of blog posts and segments on The Son Rise Morning Show. When we listen to Mary’s words and observe her actions, we can learn more about our Faith than from a library full of books. I can personally attest to the fact that the more we love Mary, the more we will love Jesus.

I’d appreciate it if you’d keep this project in your prayers and help me to spread the word. I’ll provide more details as soon as I can.

Tired Of Worrying? Here’s A Suggestion…


 

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Sure, we’ve all heard the Bible verse and sang the words at Mass, but how often can we say that we live our lives according to this principal? Like many other people, I claim to have faith and believe that God can do miracles…until one of my family members gets a serious illness or I don’t know how I’ll pay the monthly bills. Sadly, when these events occur my faith sometimes goes “out the window” and I do something completely useless…panic!

As the author of A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible (50 Verses To Ease Anxieties), you’d probably think that I’m someone who has never worried or who has declared victory over anxiety. Not even close! I have been a worrier all of my life and I STILL fight the battle every day. Most times that a crisis pops up in my life, my first instinct is to worry. The good news is that my second instinct is to pray! The even better news is that, at this point in my life, sometimes my FIRST reaction is to pray. Although I still have a long way to go, that is a BIG improvement for me!

So how does one go from worrier to (prayer) warrior? Quite simply, my friends, it’s all about faith. If your faith is strong enough, you’ll walk by that faith and not by sight. Your eyes will be so focused on the Lord and His promises that you won’t even see the waves crashing around you. Since faith is a supernatural gift, however, we can’t just increase it on our own. Therefore, we have to turn to God and ask for help. When dealing with a “storm” in your life, crying out, “Lord, please increase my faith!” is an extremely powerful prayer and is a lot more effective than worrying!

In addition to allowing us to pray to Him when we’re anxious, the Lord also wants to speak directly to us. One of the best ways to hear Him is by opening up the Bible. When I was writing my book, I created a spreadsheet with Bible verses that could be used to combat anxiety. I would often sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament reading and re-reading these verses. Although my primary goal was to decide which verses should be included in the book, I received an unexpected blessing…I began to feel peace, even in the midst of my problems!

Here’s a verse to get you started. If you’re worried about something, open up your Bible and read (and re-read) this verse. While there’s no guarantee that your problems will disappear, you will eventually feel a peace that is not of this world. If you don’t feel peaceful right away, keep reading. Jesus is extending His hand and is speaking these words directly to you…

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

10 Great Examples Of Biblical Prayer


 

According to Saint John Damascene, prayer is “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”. Unfortunately, we often overlook the importance of prayer in our lives, forgetting that every time we pray something happens. That “something” is an outpouring of grace which either affects us or those around us. In an attempt to provide some good examples of prayer, I’ve chosen 10 samples from the pages of the Bible. By studying these examples and incorporating them into our prayers, we’ll be able to “beef up” our spiritual lives and grow closer to the Lord.

1. Abraham Intercedes for Sodom – One of the earliest Biblical examples of prayer can be found when Abraham interceded for the city of Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33). Standing before the Lord, Abraham pleaded with Him to spare the immoral city based on the fact that some holy people lived there. We all know people who have turned away from God and live an immoral lifestyle. Abraham’s example reminds us that we should pray for their conversion and ask the Lord to be merciful.

2. Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom – When informed by the Lord in a dream to ask for something (1 Kings 3:5-14), Solomon didn’t ask for riches or treasures, but requested an understanding mind so that he could discern good from evil. Pleased by this noble plea, God also granted him riches and honor. We often have our priorities in the wrong order and pray solely for temporal (or temporary) things. If we learn to focus more on spiritual goods, we’ll find that the Lord will also provide for our material needs.

3. Prayer of Desperation – Found in Psalm 22 and later repeated by Jesus as He died on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is a prayer familiar to many. It is a desperate plea for the Lord’s assistance when all seems hopeless. We should not be ashamed to use these words, but rather look at them as a cry for help. Those who are prone to anxiety should become familiar with this prayer and not hesitate to use it when necessary. We all encounter those times when it feels as if we’re facing our problems alone. Calling out to the Lord will allow us to experience His presence and feel the peace that only He can give.

4. The Tax Collector’s Prayer – One of the simplest, but most eloquent expressions of true contrition can be found in the Lord’s parable of the “Pharisee and the Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9-14). Praying in the temple, without lifting his eyes, this humble sinner prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”. Direct and to the point, we should make these words our own and pray them every day!

5. Saul’s Question – Saul of Tarsus (better known as St. Paul) was deeply affected by his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. During the 2nd of the 3 times that he relates this story (Acts 22:4-16), Paul mentions a question that he asked of the Lord. In reality, it is a prayer and one that we should pray frequently. “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10) is something that we should ask God each day. Instead of telling the Lord what He can do for us, it would be nice to ask what we can do for Him. What is Your Will for me, Lord?

6. The Wedding At Cana – As Christians, we are encouraged to pray for one another. My favorite example of intercessory prayer in the Bible can be seen at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). I especially like this example because of the Blessed Mother’s involvement. There is a crisis – the wine has run out at a wedding feast and something needs to be done. Without being asked, Mary goes directly to Jesus and simply states, “they have no wine”. He responds by performing His first miracle and turning water into wine. The moral of the story? Mary is always standing by, ready to take our needs to her Son!

7. The Magnificat – Based on several Old Testament verses, Mary’s famous prayer (Luke 1:46-55) is a great example of humility and gratitude. Knowing full well that everything good in her is attributable to God, Mary responds to Elizabeth’s praise by extolling the Lord’s greatness, emphasizing her own lowliness and recalling His providence for the chosen people. St. Louis de Montfort loved this prayer and recommended that it be recited at solemn moments, such as after receiving Holy Communion.

8. Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Will – When He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He died, Jesus gave us a perfect example of abandonment to God’s Will (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46). Even though it’s not always possible to know God’s Will with certainty, appending the phrase “but not as I will but as You will” to our petitions ensures that we are submitting to His Will.

9. The Lord’s Prayer – Asked by one of His disciples to “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1), Jesus responded with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4). Often referred to as the “perfect prayer”, the Our Father contains it all: praise (“hallowed be Thy name”), contrition (“forgive us our trespasses”), petition (“give us this day our daily bread”) and submission to God’s Will (“Thy Will be done”). We can NEVER go wrong by praying these words!

10. Forgiveness – Sometimes it’s hard to find the words (or the desire) to forgive those who offend us. Since we know that we are always called to forgive, however, we must find a way. Here is a 10 word prayer first spoken by Jesus as He suffered on the cross. Remember it the next time you need to forgive someone. It expresses all that needs to be said! “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The preceding examples, taken from the pages of the Bible, were designed to illustrate some of the qualities of effective and meaningful prayer. Humility, sincerity, and faith are important characteristics of prayers that are pleasing to God. Studying these examples can help us to enhance our prayers by incorporating some of the methods used by the holy men and women who have gone before us. By praying often and sincerely, we’ll get closer and closer to the Lord until one day we’ll be praying with the angels and saints in Heaven!

What Jesus Wants You To Know About Worrying


 
Here’s a neat YouTube video put together by a listener. Using my 8/13/12 interview with Sean Herriott on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air, she added some pictures and came up with a very nice 2-part presentation. The discussion focused on “10 Things Jesus Wants You To Know About Worry and Anxiety”. If you’re a worrier, please check out these videos. If not, share them with the worriers in your life!

10 Things Jesus Wants You To Know About Worry And Anxiety


 

I know what it’s like to be anxious. Even when I was a young child, I had a tendency to worry. Fortunately, my anxiety proved to be a blessing since it caused me to seek comfort by turning to the Lord. Whenever I give talks about the subject of anxiety, I like to open the Bible and highlight some of Jesus’ comments about the subject. His words are clear and to the point and far more effective than any advice I could give. If you’re a worrier, here are 10 things Jesus wants you to know about anxiety. Some are statements and some are questions, but they are all designed to help you feel His peace.

1. “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” (Matthew 6:34)

2. “Why are you afraid, have you no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

3. “And which of you, by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26)

4. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.” (Matthew 6:25)

5. “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” (Mark 6:50)

6. “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 28:10)

7. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

8. “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)

9. “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

Hey, wait a minute…that’s only 9…where’s the 10th quote? Good point, but we need to change direction for a minute. In the next quote, Jesus once again tells us not be afraid (in this case, of those who persecute us or threaten us with harm), but He also tells us that we SHOULD be afraid of something. Although we worry about many things, this one is usually not on our list, but it should be. The fear of the evil one (and the threat of eternal damnation) should motivate us to stay close to the Lord and follow His commands. If we do that, we’ll be fine!

10. “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

There you have it, 10 direct quotes from Jesus about anxiety. Do you feel better? Me too. Keep these handy and refer to them often. When you’re temped to worry, read them over again and see how you feel. As Christians, we shouldn’t have to worry…we have Jesus. He is the ultimate cure for the anxiety in our lives. Please share this list with your fellow “worriers” so that others can experience the Lord’s peace!