Well - it is here - the new year has begun! Pour the champagne, and insert your best happy dance! I don’t know about you, but I have always loved the start of a new year, even as a kid. There was always something fun and exciting - almost magical - about ringing in the new year. Maybe it was hope.
With its coming the new year brings a new beginning - a wrapping up of the things of the past and the expectant anticipation of good things to come. There is new potential and the possibilities are endless, like an open road at the start of a new journey.
In one way or another, this past year all of us experienced something like we never had before. Maybe your past year was exceptionally hard, maybe it was surprisingly great, but my question for you is this: As you begin this new year, where do you want your journey to lead you?
Just as when planning for a trip, you prepare for it and have a specific destination in mind, so too can you prepare for and have a specific destination in mind for this next year. To begin well we start with the end in mind.
First of all - what is your final destination? Where do you want to be at the end of this new year? What areas of your life do you want to have fostered? As Gandalf said in the great classic, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Don’t be afraid to name your hopes and dreams for the year. God is inviting you to dream with Him, to place your trust in His goodness over your life - and to step out in hope and faith. Will there be detours? Probably. Will there be roadblocks? Most likely. Will God be with you every step of the way to give you strength for the journey? Absolutely. Our God is a faithful God who does not abandon us.
“...They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” - Isaiah 40:31
As you cheers to the new year and begin a new adventure, enjoy the journey, for, even in the detours, it is beautiful. Even in the roadblocks, it is good. And - be bold - knowing that your Heavenly Father is with you. Be bold in your commitment to growth. Be persistent in your striving for virtue. Be courageous in your choosing to hope in God’s Providence for the journey.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
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What are you grateful for this year? There’s no doubt that this year has been a very different year for all of us in one way or another. This year has brought heartache, frustration, and disappointment for many. Yet, even still - God’s loving presence is never changing! I am so grateful that, in this year of unsteadiness, God has been the steady. In the midst of it all, He has still been pouring out His blessings! He has still been working in the hearts of His people, inviting each of us to receive the love and hope that only comes from Him. Thank you Jesus for your goodness even now!
Nothing - nothing - can separate us from the love that God has for us! In the Scriptures St. Paul writes,
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:38-39
What are the ways that God has loved you this year? Take some time this Thanksgiving to intentionally foster an attitude of gratitude and remember the ways in which God has worked by reflecting on the following questions:
After you’ve reflected on the ways that God has loved you, offer Him praise and thanks for the many blessings that He has given. Thank God for all of His past, present, (and future!) blessings. Also, if there are specific people who have blessed you this year - make it a point to reach out and thank them so you can share and spread the blessing.
Let’s be intentional about cultivating an attitude of gratitude!
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever!” -Psalm 107:1
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It was World Youth Day in 2000. We were in Rome. Two million young people. One Pope. I remember sitting in the grass in the hot field with my friends, eagerly awaiting what was to come. I was 16, and it was Saturday night, the special overnight Vigil with the Holy Father. The Holy Father - Pope John Paul II - was coming to speak to us; and there was excitement and anticipation in the air. The little spot we had secured for the night was all set; I had my radio tuned in and ready, and I eagerly awaited the Holy Father’s address.
The Holy Spirit truly spoke through JPII and I was called to a new depth of holiness:
It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle...”
There in that hot field surrounded by two million others, JPII’s words started a spark and ignited in me a desire to follow Jesus. I didn’t realize that night that the Holy Father’s words would speak to me time and time again throughout my life. My hope is that the words of JPII also ignite your heart to the greatness for which you were made!
...It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” –Saint John Paul the Great
Fast forward five years later - it was April, 2005. I was again in Rome. Through a crazy turn of events, a friend and I found ourselves in St. Peter’s Square along with thousands of others who had traveled to Rome to be near our beloved Papa. He was dying, and we were there with him, praying for him and cheering him on in his last heroic moments. This time was sacred.
We kept vigil in the Square that night, encouraging and lifting up this humble pontiff who had so many times before lifted us up and called us on to greatness. He was my Papa, and he believed in me. He constantly led me to Jesus and stirred in me a desire for holiness. May the words of Saint John Paul the Great continue to ring loud in our hearts and ignite in us a desire to follow the path that Jesus has for us.
“Dear young people of the century now beginning, in saying “yes” to Christ, you say “yes” to all your noblest ideals. I pray that He will reign in your hearts and in all of humanity in the new century and the new millennium. Have no fear of entrusting yourselves to Him! He will guide you, He will grant you the strength to follow Him every day and in every situation.”
Saint John Paul the Great - Pray for us!
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Fall - it’s the season of backyard football, bonfires, and harvest festivals. It’s the season of new beginnings as the rays of summer slowly dim and a crisp new time is ushered in.
New beginnings can sometimes bring with it anxious anticipation, but also joy-filled excitement and wonder. As you enter into this new season of fall, it is a natural time to reflect on your life and authentically look at where you are at and where you desire to be - and where God desires you to be. It’s a time to take inventory of your life.
As you enter into this new season of fall, it is a natural time to reflect on your life and authentically look at where you are at and where you desire to be - and where God desires you to be."
To do this, set aside some intentional time; make it fun and enjoy the process! You’ll need a pen and some paper (a journal works great), and, if you’re a fan of all things pumpkin spice, a mug of your favorite cup of joe - or apple cider works too.
To begin, say a pray to the Holy Spirit inviting Him into your heart and asking Him to guide this time. Then, ask yourself the following questions, taking time to think about and journal through each one:
To begin, say a pray to the Holy Spirit inviting Him into your heart and asking Him to guide this time. "
After you’ve journaled through the questions, read back over what you've written and see what stands out to you.
Commit this new season to the Lord and know that He has good things in-store!
“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.” - Galations 6:9
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“All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity."65 All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
66 In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.67” -The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2013)
All are called to holiness."
How awesome that ALL are called to holiness!...now, how do we answer that call?
First off, what do we mean by holiness? Glad you asked! The two things we should be focusing on if we want to grow in holiness are:
1. Relationship with God - we attain this by spending time with Him in prayer.
2. Patterns of life that lead us into right ordered relationship with God (The Trinity) and others.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself and take some time to reflect on:
Do I know God?
Do others know me and I them?
Do I live a life of sacrifice?
Do I live a life of joy?
Do I live a life of forgiveness?
Do I live a life of repentance?
What I do with my time?
How am I living my vocation?
What do I do in my work?
What do I listen to?
What do I watch?
Where do I spend my money?
Who are my friends?
Are my friends helping me to grow in holiness?
Do I help others to grow in holiness?
Our main goal should be, by God's grace, to live a life that flows from Him and back to Him.
To live a life of Holiness we need to know the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) more than we know the ways of the world...that is no easy task!!!
To live a life of Holiness we need to know the Holy Trinity more than we know the ways of the world."
So what are those patterns of life that help us to grow in holiness?
These are just some ways we can start to grow in holiness.
Are you ready to take action live a life of holiness?
Listen to the full interview and hear more tips on living a life of holiness:
Unfortunately, it is not hard to see that the culture today is largely devoid of God. Whether it be in our schools, media, our extended family expectations, business, our jobs, sports, the daily tasks of life – the culture is becoming more devoid of God every day. While there is always hope, we still need to understand and realize the problem we are dealing with in the culture today. The fact that 80% of our youth are falling away from the faith is devastating. It’s an epidemic. We have not figured out how to transmit our faith.
The fact that 80% of our youth are falling away from the faith is devastating...we have not figured out how to transmit our faith.
This is a crisis in the American Catholic Church, and it calls for a radical, clear, and intentional response. Will we put God and our families before the culture? Will we take our cues about how to form our lives from the culture or from God? We have to answer this in a clear and radical way if we want a shot at an opportunity to pass the faith onto our children.
This is a crisis in the American Catholic Church, and it calls for a radical, clear, and intentional response.
So how do we begin living a dynamic Catholic family life?
Our goal as dynamic families is to effectively transmit our faith and utilize the tools we have been given by God and His Church. We are called to live from the grace we receive in the sacraments and the Church and to bring that grace into our homes to create a domestic type church and to take ownership as parents to create an environment where our faith can be transmitted.
Our goal as dynamic families is to effectively transmit our faith and utilize the tools we have been given by God and His Church.
Here are some tips to living out a dynamic Catholic family life:
Take action on one thing this week with your family, whether it be family prayer, family meals, personal prayer or teaching your kids about the faith. It is time to take ownership of faith in your family!
Listen to the full interview and hear more tips on living a dynamic Catholic family life:
Ever made so many goals that you wanted to reach and then in the thick of it wondered...is it worth it?
This commonly happens when we make our goals without having a vision. This causes us to loose motivation and eventually give up. However, if you first create your vision, then your goals will be supported with motivation, clarity, and direction. After all, in order to take a step towards your goals you should probably know where it is that you are going first! :)
If you first create your vision, then your goals will be supported with motivation, clarity, and direction."
So, what's your vision? Ever been asked that before and thought, "Wow, I don't even know!"?
Here are some tips to gain a better understanding of what your vision is:
Listen to the full interview and hear more tips on gaining vision and setting goals for your life:
What does it mean to live out God’s purposes? In the very beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states that God created man to seek Him, to know Him, and to love Him with all of his strength. This is God's desire for us. Our purpose flows from Him - our Creator. Each person was created by Him to uniquely reflect His glory and presence in the world!
Each person was created by Him to uniquely reflect His glory and presence in the world!"
So how do we do this?
Take a STEP! STEP is a process which helps us to step into God's purposes for our lives.
Through digging deeper into this framework with prayer and reflection, we gain greater understanding and knowledge of ourselves which leads us to better live out God's unique purpose for our lives and reflect His light the way that He created us to.
Do you desire to live out God's purpose for your life? Contact Coach Rick to receive a worksheet and gain more insight on living out God's purpose for your life!
Listen to the full show on knowing and living out God's purposes!
Who am I? Who is God? Do I know who I am? Do I know who God is?
These are the questions we must first ask in order to start living from our identity in Christ. Just think about it, how can one move forward without knowing where they are to begin with?
There are so many great places in Scripture to find these answers and to learn more about our identity in Christ. The gospel of Matthew, this story in chapter 16 gives us a deeper insight to our identity:
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” ... Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Peter knew who Jesus was and he declared it. Only after he proclaimed this truth did Jesus then tell Peter who he was. Here Peter receives his identity in Christ.
Again we must ask ourselves - do I know who God is?
And then we must ask Him - Lord, who do you say that I am?
Lord, who do you say that I am? "
Listen to the full show and learn more about what coaching is and some obstacles you might face while seeking to live from your identity in Christ.
Do you ever have those moments in life when you know God is speaking to you? That he is communicating something to you and you just need to stop and listen? I have......let me recount one moment to you.
Yesterday morning while visiting with one of my children before school, my child told me about a dream that they had the night before. It was a short and simple dream,
“ ....but, it left me thinking all day yesterday and into today....
“Dad, last night I had a dream that I was on a bus. In the front of the bus was the bus driver. The bus was very long and had two sections. At the head of the second section of the bus was another person with a steering wheel. The bus driver up front was doing a good job, but then the person in the second part of the bus started steering as well, but wasn't able to see. The bus began losing control and was going to crash and then I woke up.”
It was a short and simple dream but it left me thinking all day and into today about my life and many of our lives. God is the Bus driver and He is doing a good job. He has as a good handle on the bus and then……
“ ...If you are like me, I often fail to trust God and I try to take control myself.
I start to decide which turns will be taken and at what speed. I, the driver with the most hindered view, start to make decisions on the best routes, the best destinations....that is, until God pulls a "Drivers Ed Teacher" move and, with strength that only He has, takes back the wheel....
" Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and He will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3: 5-6, NAB
It left me pondering these few questions for myself. I offer them to you to reflect on as well.
Do I trust God to steer the direction of my life?
How do I grow in trust?
What would my life look like if I let go of the steering wheel and let God drive?
I pray the Lord Jesus blesses you with this short reflection like he did me. Here are a few ideas for further action. Write down a few responses to the questions. Take them to prayer, ask the Lord to show you how to trust and to increase your trust, He will! Share the reflection with a spouse, friend or small group and have a conversation about it. Think of one thing you can do every day or week to better trust and put it into place in your life.
P.S. I think it's ok to go up near the front of the bus and be near God and converse with him about travel plans.
Written by: Rick Erisman, Leadership, Life and Marriage Coach with Redivive Coaching