2012-2013 Syllabus

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

The 2012-2013 Syllabus in PDF format:

2012-2013 Syllabus.pdf

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Empty Nesting – How do you deal with the children moving on?

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Have your children all gone off to college or moved away for a new career? Perhaps you’re a stay at home parent and you’re sending your last one off to all day school. Changes to the household can be a big change for a parent. You may be spending more time with just the two of you, or have a lot of time alone. How do you prepare yourself for these life changes?

Objective

A lot of the older fathers on the team have experienced or will soon experience an empty house from children going off to college or moving away for work. This can present some wonderful opportunities for you and your wife to get closer. It can also present an awkward silence in the house, bored spouse, and conflict. How do you prepare yourself for a different life-style when you’re so used to being a parent and all that it entails when children are around?

Fathers team has a lot of younger fathers as well, who may be bored by a session dominated by older fathers talking about something they’re far from relating to. However, younger fathers can experience the same issues when all of the children are finally off to school and a stay at home parent is alone for much of the day. Sometimes that’s a blessing! Sometimes that can present a change for one of the parents that we have to deal with.

Use this session to discuss both “empty nesting” and major changes at home related to these life changes.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 19:13-15

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

2. Matthew 19:23-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

3. Mark 10:6-9

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2223

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33

2. Paragraph 2230

When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them – quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

Small Group Questions

  1. Have you experienced an empty nest from children going off to college or moving away? How did you deal with it? Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. Are you in touch with your wife enough to deal with family changes?
  3. Have you experience the last child off to all day school and the changes that brings?
  4. Are there other major changes in your family life that have led to you and your wife needing to adapt and grow?

Accountability

  1. If you have older children, start thinking about how you and your wife will deal with the changes.
  2. If you have a stay at home parent, how can you prepare for the last child off to all day school?

Author(s)

Dan Lape

Included Resources

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/empty-nest-syndrome/MY01976/

Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping

If your last child is all grown up and about to leave home — or he or she has already moved out — you might be experiencing some mixed emotions. Understand why empty nest syndrome happens and what you can do about it.

What’s empty nest syndrome and why do some parents experience it?

Empty nest syndrome isn’t a clinical diagnosis. Instead, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home.

Although you might actively encourage your children to become independent, the experience of letting go can be painful. You might find it difficult to suddenly have no children at home who need your care. You might miss being a part of your children’s daily lives — as well as the constant companionship. You might also worry intensely about your children’s safety and whether they’ll be able to take care of themselves on their own. You might struggle with the transition if your last child leaves the nest a little earlier or later than you expected — or at a time different from when you did. If you have only one child or strongly identify with your role as parent, you might have a particularly difficult time adjusting to an empty nest.

What’s the impact of empty nest syndrome?

In the past, research suggested that parents dealing with empty nest syndrome experienced a profound sense of loss that might make them vulnerable to depression, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts.

However, recent studies suggest that an empty nest can also provide parents with many benefits. When the last child leaves home, parents have a new opportunity to reconnect with each other, improve the quality of their marriage and rekindle interests for which they previously might not have had time.

How can I cope with empty nest syndrome?

If you’re experiencing feelings of loss due to empty nest syndrome, take action. For example:

Accept the timing. Avoid comparing your child’s timetable to your own personal experience. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your child succeed when he or she does leave home.Keep in touch. You can continue to be close to your children even when you live apart. Make an effort to maintain regular contact through visits, phone calls, emails, texts or video chats. Seek support. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, lean on loved ones and other close contacts for support. Share your feelings. If you feel depressed, consult your doctor or a mental health provider. Stay positive. Thinking about the extra time and energy you might have to devote to your marriage or personal interests after your last child leaves home might help you adapt to this major life change.Can I prevent empty nest syndrome?

If your last child is about to leave home and you’re worried about empty nest syndrome, plan ahead. Look for new opportunities in your personal and professional life. Keeping busy or taking on new challenges at work or at home can help ease the sense of loss that your child’s departure might cause.

http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/wiley031/00009169.pdf

RESURVEYING EMPTY NEST ISSUES

Issues and problems in marriage cause you neither success nor failure; it’s how you deal with them that makes a difference, especially in the empty nest. When you are no longer meeting the demands of active parenting, issues will resurface and perhaps loom larger on the landscape of your marriage. So what are those major issues you’ll take with you into the empty nest?

Consider the top ten issues in an empty nest survey taken, number one being the most severe problem area, number two, the next most severe problem, and so on:

Top Issues in the Empty Nest Years

1. Conflict

2. Communication

3. Sex

4. Health

5. Fun

6. Recreation

7. Money

8. Aging parents

9. Retirement planning

10. Children

The top three issues in the empty nest-conflict, communication, and sex-are also among the major problem areas for younger couples. People take their issues along as they transition through the different seasons of a marriage. We observed no overall gender differences that were very strong. However, females tended to say communication was more of a problem than did males, and males tended to say that sex was more of a problem than females reported. (Are you surprised?)

At this stage of life, money issues are not rated as high as for younger couples, but health issues are rated higher. The fact that fun and recreation are rated so high indicates that perhaps couples are having trouble figuring out what to do together that’s enjoyable for both or finding fun things that both will take time out for. For years their shared recreational activities may have been centered around their children, and now they don’t know what to do to have fun together.

How would you rank these issues in your marriage? Think about your relationship: with which issues do you struggle the most?

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Supporting Aging Parents

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

As children, our parents made decisions for us, and provided us guidance. When we become adults and parents, our parents become peers and mentors as we raise our own family. As our parents reach old age, they begin to depend on us to give guidance, support, and understanding. This session seeks to explore issues that our parents may be experiencing, how we are engaged and affected, and share ideas and experiences of how to help our parents deal with the challenges, and enjoy their old age as best they can.

Objective

Growing old can be fun and it beats the alternative – early death. However as our parents grow old things change and can cause huge burdens on their daily lives. Perhaps a spouse has died and the remaining parent has to deal with loneliness, new challenges like balancing the checkbook when the other handled finances, or finding people that can relate to their stage in life.

Alternatively, perhaps both parents are still alive, but one requires care from sickness like surgery, Alzheimer’s, or just sedentary ways. It might be easy for us to ship them off to a retirement home and have others deal with them, or you might experience deep guilt in not being able to deal with a parent’s need without external help.

Could you take your father’s car keys away and tell him he can’t drive anymore? Could you tell your mother she has to move out of her home of 30 years or more because she can’t keep up?

How do you and your wife team up with family and friends to support your parents needs when they can’t handle everything they used to? Discuss ways to preserve your parent’s dignity while helping them through their aging and “Golden Years”.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

2. Leviticus 19:32

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the old, and fear your God. I am the LORD.

3. Proverbs 10:1

A wise son gives his father joy, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2251

Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance. Filial respect fosters harmony in all of family life.

Small Group Questions

  1. Are you in a situation where your parents need your assistance: financially, daily care giving, illness recovery, disability? How do you help them?
  2. If your parents are younger, do you keep a close relationship to them so that later in life that closeness will keep you together?
  3. Did you or your family do anything proactively to help your parents?

Recommended Resources

  1. http://www.agingcare.com/
  2. ttp://elderhelpers.org/blog/ – blog with some interesting ideas
  3. http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2011/07/18/10-tips-for-caring-for-aging-parents – financial resources focused
  4. http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-07-13-alzheimers-caregivers_x.htm

Accountability

  1. Make a family care giving plan today:
    http://foundation.aarp.org/Caregiving/?gclid=CI-c18m7mbECFQIQNAodmCWDhA
  2. Take a small step, make an effort to see your parents – or talk to them, more often. Don’t make it awkward when they really need you.
  3. Take the bigger step and ask your parents how they are doing and how you can help.

Author(s)

Dan Lape

Included Resources

Caring for elderly parents catches many unprepared.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/story/2012-03-25/caring-for-an-elderly-parent-financially/53775004/1

Last July, Julie Baldocchi’s mother had a massive stroke and was paralyzed. Baldocchi suddenly had to become a family caregiver, something that she wasn’t prepared for.

“I was flying by the seat of my pants,” says Baldocchi, an employment specialist in San Francisco. Both of her parents are 83, and she knew her father couldn’t handle her mother’s care.

The hospital recommended putting her mother in a nursing home. Baldocchi wasn’t willing to do that. But moving her back into her parents’ home created other problems.

Baldocchi, 48, is married and lives about a mile away from her parents. She has a full-time job and has back problems that make it difficult for her to lift her mother. “I couldn’t do it all,” she says. “But I didn’t even know how to find help.”

With help from the Family Caregiver Alliance, she eventually hired a live-in caregiver. “But even if you plan intellectually and legally, you’re never ready for the emotional impact,” Baldocchi says. In the first two months after her mother’s stroke, she lost about 30 pounds as stress mounted.

More than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities, according to a 2009 survey by the AARP. An additional 61.6 million provided at least some care during the year.

And many are unprepared.

Starting with the paperwork

While many parents lack an advance care directive, it’s the most basic and important step they can take. The directive includes several parts, including: a durable power of attorney, which gives someone legal authority to make financial decisions on another’s behalf; a health care proxy, which is similar to the power of attorney, except it allows someone to make decisions regarding medical treatment; and a living will that outlines instructions for end-of-life care. (For example, parents can say if they want to be kept alive by artificial measures.)

“It’s invaluable for the kids, because it’s hard to make those decisions for a parent,” says Jennifer Cona, an elder-law attorney at Genser Dubow Genser & Cona in Melville, N.Y.

An advance care directive is the first line of defense if a situation arises, says Kathleen Kelly, executive director of the Family Caregiver Alliance, which supports and educates caregivers.

Without an advance directive, the family will have to petition the court to be appointed the parent’s legal guardian, says AgingCare.com.

It’s important for families to talk about long-term care so the adult children know their parents’ preferences, wishes and goals, says Lynn Feinberg, a caregiving expert at AARP. But it’s not an easy conversation.

Elderly parents are sometimes suspicious of their children’s financial motives, says Susan John, a financial planner at Financial Focus in Wolfeboro, N.H. One client asked John to hold a family meeting because they needed an intermediary to talk about financial issues, she says.

And when there are many siblings, the family decisions can become a three-ring circus with much acrimony, says Ann-Margaret Carrozza, an elder-law attorney in Glen Cove, N.Y.

Families who need information and help sorting out disagreements can call on elder-law attorneys, financial planners, geriatric care managers and caregiver support groups. In February, AARP said it will offer its members a new caregiving support service through financial services firm Genworth.

Navigating the long-term care system

Many families are unprepared for quick decisions, especially when they find out that Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, Feinberg says.

The median cost of a year in a private room at a nursing home in 2011 was $77,745, according to Genworth. And only those who have spent most of their assets can qualify for Medicaid to pay for the nursing home.

Assisted living is another option. Residents can have their own apartment to maintain some independence. But the facilities generally provide personal care services, such as meals, housekeeping and assistance with activities.

Still, it’s not cheap: The national median cost in 2011 was $39,135, according to Genworth. Assisted living isn’t covered by Medicaid.

If they have a choice, at least 90% of elderly parents prefer to stay at home as long as they can, according to AARP research.

But if the parents can no longer safely live at home, it can be hard for children to move them into an adult care facility.

There may be another option. Sometimes the home can be modified so a parent can stay there. For example, Baldocchi put in a chair lift for her mother. She also arranged for a home caregiver.

The job of family caregivers

Family caregivers take over many responsibilities. One might manage a parent’s finances, while another sibling will take the parent to doctors’ appointments and shopping. Those who move in with a parent take on a significant and sustained burden of care.

Jan Walker moved into her mother’s home in Leesburg, Fla. After her mother, who is 83, had fallen, she wasn’t able to get around as well.

Walker, 55, has three brothers. But she is the only daughter, is divorced and has no children. “I always knew that this was the role that I would have, and I guess my mind was prepared for it,” says Walker, who now is a full-time caregiver and works from home as a tutorial instructor for a digital scrapbooking website.

“When you get into the trenches, it’s literally baptism by fire,” she says. “New things come up. It’s not just about advance planning for finances or medical care. It’s everything,” she says.

Caregivers need to also watch their own health. “There is such a thing as caregiver burnout,” Cona says. Among female caregivers 50 and older, 20% reported symptoms of depression, according to a 2010 study on working caregivers by MetLife.

“It’s a hard job,” Walker says. “But most worthwhile things are hard. She was always there for me when I needed a helping hand. It’s only natural that I be here for her now.”

Technology that can Help the Elderly

http://elderhelpers.org/blog/

Published July 13, 2012 | By elderhelpers

While a lot of technology can simplify seniors’ lives, it can also be intimidating to adopt for people growing up without the same technological innovations that we value today. Some technology gadgets for seniors are particularly popular such as:

Tablet PCs: Many technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and now Google have tablets out that have applications that seniors can enjoy like games, free limited newspaper access, internet surfing and videos.

E Readers: If the elder enjoys reading, but has difficulty seeing the text because of vision problems, E Readers are perfect for them. Some E Readers are designed for simplicity and have the ability to make the text any size so that vision is no longer a problem.

Wii: Video games systems like the Nintendo Wii give seniors the capability of enjoying the same sports that they did when it was safer for them to. The senior and their helper may enjoy activities like yoga, golf, tennis and bowling.

Cell Phones: For older seniors that still prefer the traditional land line telephone, think simple. There are many smartphones out that are unnecessarily complicated and can frustrate seniors when attempting to use them. Pay as you go phones are usually very simple, older models can be easier to use than the newer models.

It does not take very much training to use these devices; today’s technologically savvy youth may be able to give the seniors a thorough overview over any of these electronics. If you would like to find a volunteer to help seniors to use these devices, search for volunteers in your area and sign up.

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Religion in the Media

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Religion in the media… How is it portrayed? Do you think it is accurate? Are there any good places to get the truth in the media about religion? If so, where?

Objective

Scan your favorite newspaper or search your favorite news website on any given day and you will find news about religion. Turn on your TV or scan your radio and you will surely come across news and shows about religion. Is the message positive? Is it negative? Are the sound bytes we hear an accurate portrayal about religion this day in age? Are there good places to visit to get your daily dose of religion in the media?

Bible Readings

1. Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2. Luke 11:34

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

3. Psalm 101:3-4

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

4. James 3:5-11

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. …

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2494

The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good.285 Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity:

The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and – within the limits set by justice and charity – complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld.286

2. Paragraph 2497

By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.

Small Group Questions

  1. What are you hearing about religion every day as you go about your life?
  2. What media outlets do you visit to get your media about religion?

Recommend Resources

  1. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1905/religion-news-media-2010-islam-mosque-ground-zero
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/religion-stories-of-2011-_n_1131566.html
  3. http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/index

Accountability

  1. This week try getting your news about religion in one of the places that the group suggested. Try it out and see if you like it.
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Are you a Good Friend?

August 22, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Do you extend yourself to other men? How can you do a better job of serving the Men of the Parish or your workplace?

Objective

Jesus is the finest example of a true Christian friend. His love for us is sacrificial, never selfish. He demonstrated it not only through his miracles of healing, but more fully through the humble service of washing the disciples’ feet, and then ultimately when he laid down his life on the cross.

If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, we’ll rarely discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” By valuing your friend’s needs above your own, you’ll be on your way to loving like Jesus. In the process, you’ll likely gain a true friend.

Bible Readings

1. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one fails, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fail , he has no one to lift him up. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.

2. John 15: 13-15

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends , because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2010

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions. (1998)”Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life.”

Small Group Questions

  1. How can I utilize my friendships made in the Father’s Team to become more Christlike?…
  2. What methods can I utilize this week to help me build up emotionally, spiritually & physically the Men of my small group?

Recommended Resources

  1. http://christianity.about.com/od/womensresources/a/christianfriends.htm
  2. http://christianity.about.com/od/lossanddying/a/vernesfriend.htm

Author(s)

Bob Considine

Included Resources

5 Traits of True Christian Friends
http://christianity.about.com/od/womensresources/a/christianfriends.htm

3 Types of Christian Friendships:

Mentor Friendship

The first form of Christian friendship Honeytree talked about was a mentor friendship. In a mentoring relationship we teach, counsel or disciple other Christian friends. This is a relationship based on ministry, similar to the kind Jesus had with his disciples.

Mentee Friendship

In a mentee friendship, we are the one being taught, counseled, or discipled. We are on the receiving end of ministry, being served by a mentor. This is similar to the way the disciples received from Jesus.

Mutual Friendship

Mutual friendships are not based on mentoring. Rather, in these situations the two individuals are usually more closely aligned on a spiritual level, balancing the natural flow of giving and receiving between genuine Christian friends. We’ll explore mutual friendships more closely, but first, it’s important to have a clear understanding of mentoring relationships, so we don’t get the two confused.

Mentoring friendships can easily become draining if both parties don’t recognize the nature of the relationship and construct appropriate boundaries. The mentor may need to pull back and take time for spiritual renewal. He may even have to say no at times, setting limits on his commitment to the mentee.

Likewise, a mentee who expects too much from his mentor is probably seeking a mutual bond with the wrong person. Mentees must respect boundaries and look for close friendship with someone other than a mentor.

We can be both mentor and mentee, but not with the same friend. We may know a mature believer who mentors us in God’s Word, while in turn, we take time to mentor a brand new follower of Christ.

Mutual friendships are quite different than mentoring friendships. These relationships don’t usually happen overnight. Typically, they develop over time as both friends progress in wisdom and spiritual maturity. A strong Christian friendship blossoms naturally when two friends grow together in faith, goodness, knowledge, and other godly graces.

5 Traits of True Christian Friends

So, what does a true Christian friendship look like? Let’s break it down into traits that are easy to identify.

Christian Friends Love Sacrificially

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV)

Jesus is the finest example of a true Christian friend. His love for us is sacrificial, never selfish. He demonstrated it not only through his miracles of healing, but more fully through the humble service of washing the disciples’ feet, and then ultimately, when he laid down his life on the cross.

If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, we’ll rarely discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” By valuing your friend’s needs above your own, you’ll be on your way to loving like Jesus. In the process, you’ll likely gain a true friend.

Christian Friends Accept Unconditionally

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (NIV)

We discover the best of friendships with brothers and sisters who know and accept our weaknesses and imperfections.

If we’re easily offended or hold on to bitterness, we’ll have a hard time making friends. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes now and then. If we take a truthful look at ourselves, we’ll admit that we bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. A good friend is quick to ask forgiveness and ready to be forgiving.

Christian Friends Trust Completely

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)

This proverb reveals that a true Christian friend is trustworthy, indeed, but emphasizes a second important truth as well. We should only expect to share complete trust with a few loyal friends. Trusting too easily can lead to ruin, so be careful about putting your confidence in a mere companion. Over time our true Christian friends will prove their trustworthiness by sticking closer than a brother or sister.

Christian Friends Keep Healthy Boundaries

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy … (NIV)

If you feel smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Likewise, if you feel used or abused, something is amiss. Recognizing what’s best for someone and giving that person space are signs of a healthy relationship. We should never let a friend come between us and our spouse. A true Christian friend will wisely avoid intruding and recognize your need to maintain other relationships.

Christian Friends Give Mutual Edification

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted … (NIV)

True Christian friends will build each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Friends like to be together simply because it feels good. We receive strength, encouragement, and love. We talk, we cry, we listen. But at times we also have to say the difficult things our dearest friend needs to hear. Yet, because of the shared trust and acceptance, we are the one person who can impact our friend’s heart, for we know how to deliver the hard message with truth and grace. I believe this is what Proverbs 27:17 means when it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

My hope is that these five traits will show you areas that may need a little work in your effort to build stronger friendships. But if you don’t have lots of close friends, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, true Christian friendships are rare treasures. They take time to nurture, but in the process we grow more Christlike.

Christian Friendships

Tribute to Friendship Poem

Friendship Bible Verses

Jesus Our Friend Devotional

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Divorce – Is your marriage at risk?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Divorce is a reality for almost 50% of all couples, is your marriage at risk? Do you know the warning signs, the key life changes that stress marriages, what can you do to assess and address your risk.

Objective

Divorce is a reality for many couples that forever change the lives of the husband, wife, children and all the extended family and friends. Catholics are not immune to this and divorce also creates an issue of being able to fully take part in all parts of the Catholic faith.

We have interviewed 4 Father’s Team men (all Catholic) who have either gone through, or are going through divorce now to get some idea of what were some of the potential issues, what the men wished they could have done differently, and what they would like to have heard 2-3 years before the divorce (from a Father’s Team Meeting) that would have helped them do more to preserve the marriage.

Some of the men realize that it was really the right thing for the couple to separate, and some thought they (and their spouse) could have done more to keep the marriage together.

However, some of things that we as a Father’s Team should discuss in this topic are:

  1. Communication – what kind of discussions are you having at home?
    1. Are your conversations only about discussing logistics of kid sports and ‘what goes on the shopping list’?
    2. Instead, can you name your wives 3 best friends and confidants?
    3. Do you know the dreams and aspirations of your wife?
    4. Are you telling your female co-workers more about your life then your wife?
  2. How did your marriage start?
    1. Some of the men realized (too late) that ‘maybe’ their wives got married for the wrong reason.
    2. Some women are running ‘away’ from a situation (i.e. home life) and not running ‘toward’ something (you). Realistically, it is too late for all of us to revisit this – but again getting back to communication – do you know enough the history of your marriage – have you talked about it?
    3. This is also a great topic to be talking to our kids who are considering marriage – can you coach your kids to really understand these dynamics?
  3. Life Stage impact on our marriage – are you paying attention?
    1. Some of the men interviewed started having issues – or were told their wives wanted a divorce – when the youngest child was going off to school full time.
    2. When the youngest is 7 years old, the couples were married from 15-20 years and all of a sudden the wife’s primary role as ‘mom’ was diminished – at the same time that the man is ‘hitting his stride’ from a career standpoint.
    3. Have you talked about ‘her’ role when the heavy lifting of child care slows down?
    4. Are you hitting your stride in your career, with lots of late nights, lots of travel, promotions, and business dinners? Are you missing a critical life stage opportunity to talk?

These questions should be a topic for the men of the Father’s Team and we should all examine the health of our marriage.

Some of the other ideas volunteered by the men (besides the topics above) were:

  1. Do you talk enough about meaningful things?
  2. Do you pray together?
  3. If you are having issues – have you addressed? Did you consider a priest, our deacons, marriage counseling?
  4. There are techniques that can be used to change the negative dynamics into positive communication – would you be interested in learning new techniques (one of our Father’s may be teaching this).
  5. One of the men said in hindsight he would have – cuddled more, talked more about his day and asked her about hers, really kiss her every day, more time with her and less with kids, ask for more feedback, learn to dance, tell her I am proud of her, smile more and savor her eyes.

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians 5:25-28

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

2. Dueteronmy 24:5

‘If a man is newly married, he must not join the army, nor must he be pestered at home; he must be left at home, free of all obligations for one year, to make his new wife happy.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2385

Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2. Paragraph 2386

It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

Small Group Questions

  1. Do you see yourself in any of the 3 situations mentioned?
  2. Have you considered a serious conversation – are you brave enough to address with your wife?
  3. Could your wife be asking you for a divorce tomorrow, next week? Would you see it coming?

Recommended Resources

  1. Pre-discussion with Rich DelCore and potentially engage some of the Father’s interviewed.

Accountability

  1. This week would be a good time to start….
    1. A discussion with your wife
    2. Examine your behaviors today

Author(s)

Rich DelCore

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Sex in your Marriage: Is it as God intended or not at all?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Who can you talk to about the sex in your marriage, are you talking to your spouse about it, is your marriage healthy from a physical point of view as the church intends, have you ever wondered what’s normal for couples in their 30’s, 40’s or 50+? Join us for a discussion on this subject with a Catholic Sex Therapist – Dr. William Wester.

Objective

  • hile we all joke about sex in our marriage, for some couples, there is no sex in the relationship. One definition of a ‘sexless marriage’ is having sex less than 10 times per year. Also, surveys suggest that over 20% of couples report they are in a sexless marriage.
  • We will provide a forum for the men of the Father’s team to be able to have a discussion with their spouse about the health of their sex life and how it reflects on the overall relationship and the teachings of the church.
  • We will also again engage a Catholic Sex Therapist – Dr William Wester – to join us for the large group discussion.
  • According to the Church, humans are sexual beings whose sexual identity extends beyond the body to the mind and soul. The sexes are meant by divine design to be different and complementary, each having equal dignity and made in the image of God. The sexual act is sacred within the context of the marital relationship that reflects a complete and life-long mutual gift of a man and a woman. Sexual sins thus violate not just the body but the person’s whole being.
  • Spousal love, according to Church teaching, is meant to achieve an unbroken, twofold end: union of husband and wife as well as transmission of life. The unitive aspect includes a person’s whole being that calls spouses to grow in love and fidelity “so that they are no longer two but one flesh”. The sacrament of matrimony is viewed as God’s sealing of spousal consent to the gift of themselves to each other. Church teaching on the marital state requires spousal acceptance of each other’s failures and faults and the recognition that the “call to holiness in marriage” is one that requires a process of spiritual growth and conversion that can last throughout life.
  • Throughout Church history, various Catholic thinkers have offered differing opinions on sexual pleasure. Some saw it as sinful, while others disagreed. We are fortunate to have Pope John Paul II Theology of the body which has been discussed this summer in a 4 week session. While we plan to incorporate elements of TOTB we want to make sure we take advantage of the resources who will join us for the session (Dr Wester and Dave Shea).

How we plan to prepare for the session:

  1. We plan to prime the pump for the discussion about 3 weeks ahead of time with a handout that you can reflect on and potentially talk with your spouse. This will be some questions and dialog from Dr Wester for your consideration.
  2. For 2 weeks ahead of the session – we will pass our index cards (like we did previously) and ask you to anonymously list your questions and concerns about the health of your marriage from a sexual point of view to prepare Dr. Wester in his comments at the meeting.
  3. For the large group session – we would hope to have Dr. Wester and Dave talk about the common themes that were reflected in the card questions and provide a list of resources for your follow-up after the meeting and in small group discussion.

Bible Readings

  1. 1. Corinthians 7:1-5

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Catechism Readings

  1. Paragraph 1646

By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them.”

Small Group Questions

  1. Are you in a sexless marriage – can you use today’s topic to start a discussion with your spouse?
  2. Thinking about your marriage and the commitment with your spouse. Is your first priority what is best for her or do you put yourself and your wants first?
  3. Have you considered reading the Theology of the Body – For Beginners – Christopher West?

Recommended Resources

  1. Theology of the Body – For Beginners – Christopher West?

Accountability

This week try to find a way to talk to your spouse about taking your Marriage a Conjugal Relationship to a better level that will allow the two of you to grow even close to one another and to God.

Author(s)

Rich DelCore

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Mentor – Do you have one? Do you need one?

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Mentor – are they only for new employees? Have you ever wondered if you need a mentor? Or how you would go about getting one? Have you considered having a Board of Directors for you?

Objective

  • Have you ever wondered how some people seem to have it all together – or anticipate things well? Do you ever wish for a person or persons that you can bounce ideas off, to get advice, or to just be someone who can listen to you?
  • Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.
  • “Mentoring” is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive. One definition of the many that have been proposed, is
  • Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”.
  • Mentoring in Europe has existed since at least Ancient Greek times. Since the 1970s it has spread in the United States of America mainly in training context and it has been described as “an innovation in American management”.
  • Companies have mission statements and a Board of Directors. Your life is pretty important. Why not create a Life Board of Directors to help you through it? Pick 2 to 5 of your friends. Not necessarily your closest friends, but friends that are close enough where you can really confide but not so close that they can’t see the big picture. Email them one a month, once a quarter or “once a crisis.” Ask them for advice, lean on them, trust them.
  • Assemble “Team You” and use your team to brainstorm directions and implementations of big decisions like moving to New York, or changing your business’s direction, starting a new venture, or getting fit.
  • Use your personal Board of Directors as one of the compasses in your life. You’ve got family, friends, perhaps faith, hobbies, values, etc. Add your Team to this list of personal compasses.
  • In this discussion we encourage individuals who have had experience as a mentor – or if you’ve had a mentor to talk about the benefits you have received from the experience.
  • We also want to discuss how to go about getting a mentor or being a mentor for those who are interested.

Some ideas:

Pick the right mentor.

First step is identifying someone who can be a good mentor for you. She points out that your mentor should be someone you respect and someone who’s respected by others.

Remember that mentoring can take many forms.

That relationship certainly can take the form of an ongoing one-on-one connection, but you can also have what she calls “mentoring episodes” — briefer interactions where you still learn something valuable.

Ask for advice.

Asking someone to be your mentor is tough. Instead, if there’s someone whose brain you really want to pick, or whom you’d like to develop a closer working relationship with, think of some specific things you want their advice on. Then ask them to get lunch or coffee with you to talk about them.

Set some guidelines beforehand.

Zachary suggests that when you’re entering into a mentoring relationship with someone, you should have a talk with them — not just about what you want to learn, but about how you want the relationship to go. Talk about confidentiality — will what you say to your mentor stay between the two of you, or will she or he be sharing it with other people? Discuss how you’ll handle any disagreements or problems that might come up. And make an agreement that if at any point the mentoring relationship ends, you’ll make sure to have a “good closure conversation” that allows you both to express appreciation, talk about what you learned, and move on.

Check in frequently.

Zachary also advocates regular check-ins to make sure everything in the relationship is going smoothly. Touch base with each other about whether you’re both getting your needs met — are you getting the advice you need? Are you being respectful enough of your mentee’s time

With personal conversations, let the mentor set the tone.

Especially if you’re friendly with your mentor, you may be tempted to talk about your personal life with him or her, and even to ask advice about personal matters. Depending on your relationship, this could be totally fine — after all, Ragins points out, a mentor can also be a friend. But she advocates that you “let the mentor lead the way with respect to disclosure.”

Keep in touch if you switch jobs.

Ragins notes that even if you leave your job, “no one’s going to make you give your mentor back.” If your mentor was a coworker, you might not see each other or talk as much as you once did. But you can still keep in touch by email and at networking events in your field, and you can still benefit from your mentor’s expertise. Ragins recommends that rather than having one mentor at any given time, you should seek out multiple mentors, a “constellation of relationships” that give you the work wisdom you need.

Bible Readings

1. Ephesians – Chapter 6

And parents, never drive your children to resentment but bring them up with correction and advice inspired by the Lord.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 2230

When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them—quite the contrary—from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family. (1625)

Small Group Questions

  1. Do you have a mentor?
  2. Do you want one?
  3. Do you see the value in a mentor relationship?

Recommended Resources

  1. Your BOD – http://www.hanselman.com/blog/WhoIsOnYourLifesBoardOfDirectors.aspx
  2. Mentor – how to get and maintain – http://jezebel.com/5864193/how-to-get-and-keep-a-mentor

Accountability

1. Considering being a mentor or getting one!

Author(s)

Rich DelCore

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Talking and Listening to God

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

When do you talk to God? When you’re in a bind or need something? Talking to God is important, and we should resonate to Him when times are tough. However, for a closer relationship with God, we have to talk with him on a regular basis, and then listening to God is imperative. Do we only know how to talk to God and ask or tell Him what to do or are we trying equally as hard to listen to what God wants from us?

Objective

The really sad thing about not talking and listening to God, is that you miss a golden opportunity to draw closer to God, to get to know him better, and to let him know that you realize that you want and need his help. When you fail to talk and listen to God, you greatly limit God’s ability to accomplish the things that he wants to do in your life. When you don’t communicate with God you miss the Godly advice given at James 4:8, “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you”. Instead, when you don’t talk or listen to God you pretty much tell him that you don’t need him, that you can do things on your own, that his advice and his concern are not needed, that you are very capable of going through your life under your own power and doing it your own way.

Taken from reading resources below:

And talking to God should be the same as if you were talking to your best friend. You should tell him your thoughts, desires, hurts, and problems, as well as giving him your thanks and praise. Talking to God not only tells God that you have knowledge of him but that you also have faith in him. Talking to God also tells him that you have a desire for his presence in your life and that you need him and are dependent on him.

The bottom line is, we have to make an effort to put ourselves into situations where God can talk to us. The more we truly listen, the more likely we are to act in a manner that is pleasing to God and more joyful for ourselves. How do we talk to God now, and how do we improve our talking and listening skills with God?

Bible Readings

1. 1 Samuel 3:9

‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’

2. Genesis 18:16-32

With Abraham walking with them to see them on their way, the men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom. The LORD considered: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household in the future to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD may put into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him. So the LORD said: The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down to see whether or not their actions are as bad as the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.

As the men turned and walked on toward Sodom, Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near and said: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?” The LORD replied: If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake. Abraham spoke up again: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am only dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty righteous people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” I will not destroy it, he answered, if I find forty-five there. But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it for the sake of the forty. Then he said, “Do not let my Lord be angry if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it if I can find thirty there. Abraham went on, “Since I have thus presumed to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?” I will not destroy it, he answered, for the sake of the twenty. But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time. What if ten are found there?” For the sake of the ten, he replied, I will not destroy it.

3. Proverbs 12:15

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

4. James 1:19-20

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraph 1088

“To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”‘

2. Paragraph 2839

With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him. Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.

Small Group Questions

  1. Think about a situation you have been in lately and note if you have stopped to listen for God or if you are simply choosing what you think is best to do?
  2. After the discussion above share your thoughts on the possibility you may not like what God wants you to do.
  3. Have you experienced God talking to you in deep prayer or even just quiet time? Share how that happens, how you get there, how it changes you.
  4. Do you talk to God on an everyday basis? Is it formal or informal?
  5. Does God speak to you through others? Through their words or actions?
  6. Do you put God on a time table and if you don’t get the answer you want you simply shut God Down?

Recommended Resources

  1. Listening and Talking to God
    http://robertwells.tripod.com/listeningtogod.html
  2. How to Listen to What God Wants from Me … – Catholic Online
    www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=1185
    Book
    : How to Listen When God Is Speaking: A Guide for Modern-Day Catholics [Paperb
    Mitch Pacwa

 

Accountability

  1. This week would be a good time to start thinking of various ways we can let God guide our lives. Take steps to ask God what God wants you to do – NO MATTER WHAT
  2. Commit to one action you will make to talk and/or listen to God and share your experience next week.
  3. Is God talking to others through you? Can you make yourself more aware of opportunities to open another’s life to God through yourself?

Author(s)

Dan Lape – Update

Graham Galloway and Steve Green – Previous work

Included Resources

By Fr. Jonas Abib
Founder Cancao Nova
©Catholic Online 2004

The important thing is always to practice listening to God. You do not listen to Him with your ear but with your heart.

Listening to God is embracing God’s inspirations in your heart. God’s answers us in your heart, in our deepest inmost core where He dwells. If you want an answer from God, look for it deep inside yourself. You should learn to plunge into the temple of your heart and look for your answers there.

It is something that cannot be done externally, amidst noise and lots of activity; it is something that cannot be done in your head. We often try to decide things in our mind, know everything in our conscious mind. Though what we really need is to plunge into our hearts and search for an answer in deep prayer.

We all know the benefits of prayer, especially prayer in tongues, followed by deep silence. In fact, what you experience is not a real silence, an empty silence: on the contrary, it is a silence of plenitude, a pleasant silence, a silence through which you plunge into your own self.

It is something like plunging into the depths of your own spiritual oceans in a sea-probe, going deep down inside yourself and entering that place inside you where God dwells. That is the place where God gives you the seeds for the answers of everything you ask Him.

It is a question of learning how to listen to God.

You listen to Him not with your ears but with the wisdom He inspires you in the recesses of your praying heart.

 

http://robertwells.tripod.com/listeningtogod.html

TALKING AND LISTENING TO GOD (Partial)

Talking to God
We talk to God in order to constantly build and strengthen our relationship with him, to get to know him better, to learn what he expects of us, what we can expect from him, and to find out how we can best accomplish the things that he wants us to do. We also talk to God in order to seek his advice and help, to show him that we recognize his existence and awesome power, and of course to show him that we have trust and confidence in him.

And talking to God should be the same as if you were talking to your best friend. You should tell him your thoughts, desires, hurts, and problems, as well as giving him your thanks and praise. Talking to God not only tells God that you have knowledge of him but that you also have faith in him. Talking to God also tells him that you have a desire for his presence in your life and that you need him and are dependent on him. It also shows God and that you want to be obedient to him. He wants to hear these things from you. He already knows what they are but he wants you to tell them to him. He wants you to make the effort to talk to him and not to take him for granted.

If you really want to communicate and talk to God, if you want to become close to him, if you want to begin to grow strong spiritually, and if you want to begin a glorious and meaningful relationship with him, then do two things.
1) Talk to God daily, in a normal everyday type of conversation. Remember that God can read your mind and that he is constantly observing your inner most thoughts at all times, so he knows what is going on in your heart and your mind far better than you do. So your conversations with God do not have to be vocal and you can mentally talk to God anytime you want. God gave us little taste of his ability to search the hearts of men and read their minds back in Jeremiah 17:10 when he said, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”
So you can easily talk to God in your thoughts, and these conversations can be done anytime or anyplace. They can be done in school, at work, or at any other place, even if the rules of the world are against it.

2) The second thing you need to do in order to better communicate with Jesus is to read the Word of God each and every day. The Bible was the one thing that Jesus left for each one of us to read and study so that we would be able to find out about God. Only by reading the very word of God can we hope to draw near to him.

When Our Lord sees that you are taking the time to read his word every single day then what he is going to do is begin to peel away the layers of cloudiness that are covering your eyes and that hide the truth. Once he sees that you are serious about reading his word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will begin to open your eyes and mind, and allow you to begin to understand the Word of God and the incredible meaning that it has on every aspect of your life. It won’t be long before you realize that the Bible isn’t difficult at all to read and understand, and to your amazement you will begin to also realize that you and Jesus have been drawn closer together. Suddenly you will know that indeed he is communicating with you.

It is really a joyous occasion to see a believer who has devoted the time to talk to God and to read his word daily, suddenly realize just how much God is speaking to them. The true believer takes great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ is constantly talking to them, directing them, guiding them, and teaching them throughout each and every day.

Also keep in mind that the way you talk to God is extremely important. Do you talk to him only when you are in trouble and need help? If so then it shows God that you are simply taking him for granted. However if he sees that you are setting aside certain periods of time during each day just to talk to him, then what you are doing is opening up the channels of communication between you and God.

We are living in a world that rarely thinks about Jesus and seldom talks to him, and if Jesus sees one person out of a million who is actually taking the time each and every day just to talk to him, then you are going to put great joy in his heart. Just think of it. The creator of the entire universe will be personally listening to you each and every time you talk to him.

He may watch for a while to see if what you are doing is only temporary and whether or not you will stop it after a few days. But if you continue, then God is going to be extremely pleased and I believe he won’t be able to wait to begin to communicate with your heart, your conscience, your soul, your spirit. In fact you will not believe how much God will be talking to you.

Listening to God
Listening to God is probably the most important thing that will ever happen to a person. In fact your entire eternal future is based on you hearing God speaking to you and whether or not you listen to him. And this is because your spiritual life doesn’t begin until God speaks to you and you finally decide to listen. This is so beautifully described in John 10:27-28. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.

It is for this reason that you need to not only talk to God constantly about everything, but you must also listen for God to speak to you. And the best way to listen for God to speak to you is to look to your heart and your mind for his answer. Most people expect God to answer them in some divine way or somehow speak to them verbally, right out of the heavens, but that isn’t the way God operates. God speaks to a persons heart. To their mind. To their sense of moral righteousness and fairness. To their sense of what is right and Godly. When Jesus Christ is dwelling within a person he is communicating constantly with that person’s, heart, conscience, soul, and spirit. His answer may even be in that certain feeling that you have. That unexpected feeling that came out of nowhere and that shines additional light on the problem. His answer may lie in that sudden pause that you experience. That pause that gets you thinking about a different path to take.

And those methods of communication that God uses are extremely loud and clear. The true child of God can hear God speak just as clearly as if God was standing right alongside of them and verbally talking to them. However for most people, especially in the beginning, they need to be quiet and really listen for God’s answer because it is so very easy to block his answer out. You can get busy watching a TV program or cleaning the house and you never really hear his side of the conversation.

It’s amazing, but a true child of God is carrying on a constant two way conversation with God all day long. This is why talking and listening to God is so easy. It’s like listening to music. That’s why if your driving down the street going 30 miles over the speed limit, you know that’s the voice of God telling you that you are wrong and that you must get back to the proper speed limit. That speeding is against the law, that you very possibly might hurt or kill another person, that you will be stopped by the police and given an expensive ticket, that your insurance rates will go up, or any number of other reasons. (You know it’s not satan talking to you because if it was satan he would be telling you to go faster, that a little extra speed doesn’t matter, that the other drivers owe you, or that it is ok for you to speed because you are in a hurry).

Another example might be if you are at work and you see something that you would like to have at home, and you suddenly begin to think that your employer will never miss it, and that it really isn’t that expensive. Well, that’s God speaking to your entire being through your conscience. He’s pleading with your heart not to steal that item. He’s telling your mind that it will only bring dishonor and guilt upon you and upon God. He telling your moral righteousness that it is very wrong, and that nothing good can ever happen when you steal from another.

After a while God is carrying on a conversation with you even while you are talking to other people; and you are tuned in to God just as much as you are to the other person. When was the last time you and another person were talking and that person used the name of God in vain. Did your mind not hear the Lord cut into that conversation and instantly begin to tell you that the conversation was wrong. That it is wrong to be around someone dragging his Father’s name through the dirt? Or how about the time when you were talking with another person and one of you happened to mention vicious gossip about another person. Didn’t your heart hear God tell you that it wasn’t right to gossip? Did you feel that gentle warning letting you know that you were traveling out of God’s camp and into an area that is owned and ruled by satan. That was God simply talking to you. And it will be one of the most glorious days of your life when you finally realize that you can conduct a constant two way conversation with God 24 hours a day.

Also a great many people love to say that God works in mysterious ways. That they have absolutely no idea how or why God does what he does. But for the true believer, God’s ways aren’t mysterious. His ways aren’t concealed behind smoke and mirrors. It is just the opposite. Because once you begin to understand Jesus Christ, once you begin to learn what he is all about, once you begin to understand what he is trying to do in this world and in your life, once you begin to understand the tremendous importance that he holds for all of mankind, then his actions will not be mysterious. That’s when his ways will become crystal clear. In fact many times you will actually be able to predict what he is going to do.

The believer, who has surrendered his life up to Jesus Christ, will see God actively working in their daily lives. But this seeing will not be a visual image focused in our eyes. Instead, God has allowed his children to see him through his faithfulness, his blessings, his guidance, his encouragement. Our very spirits tell us that he is very near to us. Do we not see him by the feeling of peace and calm that his very presence brings? Do we not see God through the daily provisions that he brings for our many needs? We see God when he is carrying our burdens, when he is lighting our paths, and when he is nestling us in his arms. The believer that has surrendered, is able to see God all day long.

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Love Thy Neighbor

August 20, 2012 under Syllabus 2012-2013

Summary

Who really is your neighbor? Is it just those that live near you, those that you know or is it other people? In today’s world, we seem to be isolated and distant, often times with little social interaction, by using Facebook, Twitter etc, do we have time to even know anybody. With our busy schedules of children, activities and interests, do we even have time or want to have time to know, much less love our neighbor.

Objective

Life does come at us fast. Just think of all that you did yesterday and all that is on the schedule for today. It seems like life will never slow down, we don’t seem to even have enough time for our children and wives much less loving our neighbor. How can we show appreciation for those around us that affect our lives, if we barely know them? Think about people that come in and out of our lives, that impact us, in a not so positive way; the neighbor next door that doesn’t take care of his property, the co-worker that only seems to want to complain about everything, the pushy women with the cart and three children in Kroger, who just wants to get her list accomplished, regardless of the busyness of the store.

Ever have a disagreement with a coach, somebody at one of your children’s sporting events, or a co-worker. Have you set a good example for your children about forgiveness and forgetting, or have you set the example of the traditional feud?

The ultimate question is how do we teach our children what loving our neighbor is, and the importance of loving our neighbor by how we deal with those in our lives.

Bible Readings

1. Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

2. 1 John 4:20-21

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Catechism Readings

1. Paragraphs 2208

The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”12

Small Group Questions

  1. Who are your neighbors, and do you actually talk or have social interaction with them.
  2. When was the last time you experienced a random act of kindness and how did that make you feel?
  3. Have you ever performed a random act of kindness and what was the reaction of the recipient of this act?
  4. Do you have an example of when you could have done a better job of loving your neighbor?
  5. Do you have a good example of loving your neighbor?

Accountability

  1. Do you have a neighbor or acquaintance who you avoid at all costs? Can you put yourself in their shoes and try to communicate, just a little?
  2. How can you change the way you show love for your neighbor? How can you set that example for your children?
  3. Start small and work your way up. Can you make a commitment to grant that random act of kindness to someone this week?

Author(s)

Dan Lape and Jack Gauche

Included Resources

1. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
http://www.believers.org/believe/bel208.htm

Eight times in the Bible we are told to love our neighbor — one of the Bible’s most repeated commands.

Loving your neighbor is the opposite of selfishness — the common human practice. Acting in divine love demonstrates that unselfishness is possible for a human — showing a reality that cannot be ignored or denied.

Whether they appreciate you, or respond to your love, Jesus’s command is still valid: You must show love to your neighbor in a practical way.

Who Is A Neighbor?

When Jesus was asked by someone who his neighbor was (Luke 10:29), Jesus responded by telling the story of the Good Samaritan — who helped a stranger in need by the roadside. Then, in verse 37, Jesus told the man to go and do like the Good Samaritan.

A neighbor is someone who is near-by wherever you are.

2. Love Thy Neighbor – What’s the Origin of this Phrase?
http://www.allaboutgod.com/love-thy-neighbor.htm

“Love thy neighbor” is a term that’s become almost clichéd over the years. But where did it originate, and what does it really mean? In a time when neighbors, at least in America, are people we rarely see (thanks to garage door openers and busy lives), or are thought of as nuisances with barking dogs and noisy children, how can we possibly love our

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