Saturday January 21, 2017
Memorial of St. Agnes
"... cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God" (from Saturday's first reading).
What are "dead works"? Anything that does not have eternal value.
For example, I've been corresponding with a lovely lady from Canada, named May. After a few exchanges, May said, "You reach out to so many. Initially I was dumbfounded that you actually replied YOURSELF to my needs. Terry, I don't take this for granted for one second. Let me give you an example. Our prayer group meets once a week from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. The leaders arrive, and if anyone needs help individually, it is simply not available."
Not available? That's "dead works".
All of the staff at Good News Ministries (including bookkeeper Kathy Taylor, seen here) know that every person who contacts us is Jesus coming to us. And we are called to be Jesus to everyone who contacts us. Replying to emails -- even the most mundane -- has eternal value. It gives witness about the living God. Being attentive to the needs of individuals, regardless of our schedule, has eternal value.
You don't have to have a job in ministry, like we do, to give eternal value to your works. Your job has eternal value whenever you glorify God by using your talents and skills to the very best ability that God has given you.
The same is true for non-paid works: cleaning the house, cooking, taking care of elderly parents or handicapped children, volunteering in community projects, and even shopping if the choices we make honor God because they are healthy, holy, and within budget.
It's a matter of attitude. Mediocre effort does not give witness to others about the living God; excellence does. Neither does grumbling, but cheerful perseverance does.
My dad, who has been in rehab undergoing physical therapy since he fell on December 2nd, is not easy to serve the way Christ wants to serve him through me. When he lived at home, other kinds of accidents were disruptive of my work and often unpleasant, so, to make myself cheerful, I said to Jesus, "I'm doing this for You." He always accepts this gift with great delight. And that's what puts a smile on my face. It also lightens the burden and gives eternal value to the most earthly of chores.
How do you worship God with your chores and your work? Are you doing what he has called you and gifted you to do? Here's the story of how God answered the prayers of Graciela and Fernando Ramos as they sought to find the kind of work that he gifted them to do.
by Graciela Ramos, Ministry Assistant and Co-director of Spanish Outreach, who lives in Argentina
Since the very beginning of our romance, it has always been our goal to devote ourselves and our couple-relationship to the Lord, to serve him in some special way.
With this hope, we married, our children came and, meanwhile, we began making programs for the local radio stations, we recorded songs and teachings, wrote pamphlets that we left at the doors of church, and went wherever we were asked to go, no matter how lowly the service.
However, to consecrate oneself to the Lord's work requires preparation. It is a battle where warriors of God are needed. It means working for him from within the family and with the family. This required time, during which the Lord dealt with us through very hard tests that helped us to grow in faith and to learn to "push" and to resist when necessary. Without this treatment, surely we would have surrendered easily in the first adversities.
About six years ago, looking for the Good News on the Internet, I came across the daily Reflections of Good News Ministries. These reflections touched our hearts so much that we decided to contact Terry to ask her if she could help us pray for discernment about using our gifts in her ministry. At that moment, however, GNM's outreach to Hispanics was small, so she replied telling us that she was going to help us with her prayers.
Three years passed and GNM's outreach in Spanish grew. I joined the volunteer team to help proofread the Daily Reflections in Spanish. A year later, Terry needed a bilingual ministry assistant and asked me if she could hire me. At that very moment, my family was in great need. Financially, we were almost broke and I desperately needed a job. Fernando was working more than ever, but his salary was dropping quickly due to inflation, and our four kids were too small to help. So Terry's offer was God's reply to our prayers!
Fernando felt delighted that I was working for GNM, and he helped me in whatever way he could. Then he started to ask the Lord for a job in which he could use his talents for him. He couldn't have imagined that two years later he was going to be working with me for Good News Ministries, using his talents, skills and abilities in digital media, because the Spanish ministry was expanding!
Today, we believe our long-held desire to serve the Lord as husband and wife is fulfilled by working together on the GNM team.
We pray together about our work, we discern what the Lord wants us to do, and we analyze new project ideas. From a simple "click" on the keyboard to writing a testimony or editing a video, we submit everything to the Holy Spirit, asking God to anoint it and provide the right words and resources that will touch hearts. This is what allows us to serve successfully. We marvel at what God does through the daily work activities of this ministry.
We give thanks to God for this and for each brother and sister on the volunteer team and staff who work day and night without rest so that more people will come to know the God who wants to be the center of their lives.
The 4-week interactive course, which begins on Monday January 30th, will be presented through 3 short videos each week, discussion questions, and email correspondence with me for personalized spiritual coaching.
February 18 is the 50th anniversary of the modern-day beginnings of the renewal of what the first Christians experienced as normal life fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. God wants us to live that way today. Why settle for a mediocre faith? Miracles are not meant to be elusive.
Every morning, I lift up in to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit everyone who helps Good News Ministries in any way (donors, volunteers, prayer supporters, etc.) and all the prayer requests posted on our site.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Your servant in Christ,
Good News Ministries
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
Look to the past with gratitude.
Live the present with passion.
Move into the future with hope.
Find creative ways to proclaim the gospel of joy!
(Wisdom by Pope Francis)