There are no products in your cart.
Meeting people where they are . . . Leading them to where God calls them to be!
A free, daily email program to help you experience Christmas on a whole new level.
Encounter Jesus in a new and personal way with our first-ever Bible study.
by Matthew Kelly
by Father Bob Sherry
It’s another year. In lots of ways you get to decide what this new year will be like. Sure, things will happen that you have less or no control over. But even in those situations, you get to decide how you will react or respond.
I spend 85% of my time at Dynamic Catholic, but for a couple of days each month I work with the very dedicated group at Floyd Consulting. Part of the firm consists of a large coaching practice: business coaching for leaders and entrepreneurs, and life coaching for individuals. Before one of our coaches starts working with a participant, we ask them to answer a bunch of questions. The answers help the coach serve the participant better.
As we begin this new year, I thought it would be a good idea for us all to consider some of these questions:
What are the biggest changes you would like to make to your life in the next 12 months?
What are the biggest changes you would like to make to your life in the next 1–3 years?
What do you want to achieve most in your life?
What is your greatest obstacle to this achievement?
What are 3 of your biggest achievements to date?
What dream have you given up on?
What major transitions have you had in the past 2 years?
What is the hardest thing in your life you’ve ever had to overcome?
Looking at the past 6 months of your life, do you like the direction your life is moving in? Explain.
What part of yourself have you given up on?
What are your primary stressors?
What is your definition of success?
What would you like your personal legacy to be?
This is an easy list of questions to read. They are not easy questions to answer. I’d like to encourage you to take some time over the next couple of weeks to write out your answers. It will be a life-altering exercise.
God bless you. Happy New Year! Let’s make it a great year. Everyone here at Dynamic Catholic is looking forward to serving you and your parishes powerfully again this year.
If Jesus showed up to your church this Sunday and stood before everyone and said, “Who do people say that I am today?” what would we tell him?
— From “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly
LIFE IS FULL OF QUESTIONS.
Some are large and others are small. Some are essential and others are trivial. Some of life’s questions are passing curiosities that we ponder once and never return to, but others provide the themes of our lives. These enduring questions are at the core of everything that happens in us and around us. In many ways, the questions we ask of ourselves, of others, and of society define who we become.
There is one question that we all have to answer eventually. I call it the Jesus question. Some people go looking for it, chasing it with the joyful abandon of a child in a treasure hunt. Others spend their whole lives avoiding the question. Some people try to tiptoe quietly toward it, while others stomp up to it, lacking even an ounce of the humility and reverence required to sit thoughtfully with it. For some people the question unexpectedly jumps out at them one day in the midst of their daily affairs. Some people discover the question through the once-in-a-lifetime friendship of someone who introduces them to the Jesus they have always known about but never really known. For others a tragedy drops the question on the doorstep of their lives.
Sometimes we fill our lives with noise and busyness to avoid the Jesus question, but when the noise finally dies down and the busyness subsides, the question is still there. It waits patiently to be pondered and answered.
There are some people who quote somebody else’s answer to the question, but someone else’s answer is profoundly insufficient. We each need our own answer to the Jesus question. It is a deeply personal question that requires a deeply personal answer.
I suspect that how we deal with this particular question says much about who we are and what we value. I’m sure it has to do with nature and nurture. Then there are the biases, prejudices, and blind spots we carry with us as a result of a lifetime of past experiences.
And, of course, there are the fears and ambitions that we so often allow to rule our lives. But this type of analysis can also become a way of avoiding the question itself.
The question itself is like Jesus. Agree with him or disagree with him. Glorify him or vilify him. Follow him or reject him. About the only thing you cannot do when it comes to Jesus is ignore him. He is inescapable and unavoidable. His fingerprints are everywhere. He changed the world—in some ways that most people are aware of, and in countless ways that the average person has simply never considered.
Try as you might, you cannot escape him. Jesus is the inescapable friend who only ever wants your highest good. Everything that is good and desirable he wants for you even more than you want these good things for yourself. It doesn’t matter how rude you are to him; he will wait patiently, until you surrender to the wisdom required to delve deep into the Jesus question.
If we were discussing these things over coffee, by now you would probably want to interrupt and ask, “OK, so what is the Jesus question?”
Several years ago I was in Israel with a group of pilgrims, walking where Jesus walked. On the second day of our trip we found ourselves at the ruins in Caesarea Philippi. Our guide’s name was Nedal. He was learned and wise. He knew the region and history, but you could also tell that for him it was personal. His teaching on that day entranced me. He brought the following story from Matthew’s Gospel to life, and I have been pondering it in new ways ever since.
Jesus was walking with his disciples in the district of Caesarea Philippi when he asked them two questions. The first question was: “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:13–20).
The second question Jesus asked was: “But who do you say that I am?”
This is the Jesus question. Who do you say that Jesus is? Not who do your parents or teachers, spouse, pastor, or friends say that Jesus is, but who do you say he is? This is the inescapable question about the unavoidable Jesus. Sooner or later, we each have to proclaim for ourselves who we think Jesus is.
As I read this passage and imagine the disciples gathering around Jesus as he asks these questions, I get the sense that the disciples were a little hesitant. Perhaps they were looking around at each other wondering if these were trick questions. They were richly human and so I imagine them playfully saying, “You take this one, Peter!”
There were many aspects to Peter, as there are to us all. But the leader in Peter recognized the importance of that moment, and he stepped up and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
Our culture seems intent on placing Jesus in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But Jesus is not a figment of Christian imagination. He lived in a place and a time; he walked the earth as you and I do today. The historical evidence of Jesus is irrefutable. Christian records and writings are more comprehensive than any other ancient texts. Jewish historians clearly established Jesus in history, and the major secular historian of his time also acknowledged him.
There is also a growing number of people who want to reduce Jesus to just a nice guy. Not the nice guy, or even the nicest guy, but just one of many nice guys. As a result of this type of thinking, there are many people who want to reduce the essence of Christianity to simply being a nice person.
Countless people and cultures since the time of Jesus have come up with countless ways to diminish who he was and what that means to humanity, history, and each of us individually. Our own time is not unique or different in this way.
The world’s other major religions believe that Jesus was either a great teacher or a great prophet. It is first interesting and important to note that they do not deny his existence or the fact that he lived and walked the earth at a certain time in a particular place. But Jesus did not claim to be a great teacher or a great prophet. Who did Jesus claim to be?
POINT TO PONDER: Right now you have an incredible opportunity to get to know Jesus better.
VERSE TO LIVE: “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” JOHN 18:38
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Have you ever really explored the Jesus question?
PRAYER: Jesus, teach me to never stop seeking you. Help me to seek you in every relationship, place, and situation.
The second sign of a dynamic Catholic is Study. Every day, dynamic Catholics find or make time to grow in their faith through study.
There are three types of study: reading, investigation, and reflection.
Helping people read great Catholic books is one of our passions at Dynamic Catholic. I hope your parish has been involved in our Book Program. We love supplying parishes with hundreds of copies of some of the best Catholic books for $1 to $3 a copy. Distributing these precious books to parishioners on Christmas and Easter does wonders, especially for people who only attend Mass for these two major occasions. Their faith is often re-ignited through study.
Some of us have a need to investigate various questions about our faith. So we study Scripture, Church history, the lives of saints and religious leaders, different kinds of spirituality, morality, and more. There is so much to study.
Reflection is a third form of study and maybe the most important. Reflection takes us inside ourselves. Listening to the inner voice of God reveals so much. Matthew Kelly suggests that we can learn more in one hour of reflective silence than we can in a year of reading books. Let your life teach.
Make this a new year of becoming the-best-version-of-yourself by reading, investigating, and reflecting.
Be Bold. Be Catholic.®
Two months ago I experienced the power of saying yes to God.
I’m an introvert. It can be hard for me to strike up a conversation with people I see every day at work, let alone walk up to a complete stranger and start talking. So I can’t fully explain why I said yes when a coworker asked me to join her and a small group of friends in making meals and distributing them to homeless people around the Cincinnati area.
At the time, I was reading Beautiful Mercy, and I really felt God tugging on my heart to find new ways I could bring his mercy to others. I was also just barely four months into my new job at Dynamic Catholic, surrounded by people who inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and strive to be a better person. I think both of these factors had a profound effect on my answer.
So I squelched my fears and told my coworker I’d go. A few days later I found myself on a sidewalk near the Cincinnati Reds stadium, paired off with someone from our group who had a gym bag full of bagged meals.
I had never done anything like this before in my life. The first two men we gave the meals to devoured the food as they told us about their lives—what had gone wrong and how they’d ended up without a place to sleep at night. I was stunned to see how little they had and how much suffering they had undergone—and how, in some small way, we could bring a little hope into their lives because we said yes.
A couple hours later, five of us met Will. He was sitting on the sidewalk near one of the bridges. We hadn’t even planned on walking that way, but two of us were looking for a restroom.
When we gave Will the food, he lit up. It turns out that peanut butter sandwiches and apples are his favorite foods in the world. That, among other snacks, is what we had in our bags.
Will told us he had known that God was going to bring him a miracle. He was sitting there on the sidewalk, believing with his whole heart. By God’s grace, we were able to be that miracle, at least for that evening, because we said yes.
Like everyone else we met, Will had a sad story. He had been tricked into signing away all his money to his business partner. Then his fiancée left him. He went to the streets, battling cancer on top of everything else. It would seem that he lost everything, but he didn’t lose his faith. Will told us he goes to church every day. When he talked about God, there was a light in his eyes, a confidence in his voice, and a smile on his face that struck me deeply. He had very real, human fears about dying from cancer and losing his homeless friends to the cold, yet he placed his trust in God.
It’s amazing what God can do when we say yes to his call. Because my group and I said yes, we were able to help Will and be an answer to his prayers. Because Will said yes to God, even when his world crumbled apart, he was strengthened with an amazing faith.
My encounter with Will changed my perspective on life. I helped him for less than a day, and he taught me a lesson that will last a lifetime. When God is calling you, don’t be afraid. Take a deep breath and just say yes.
Want to share your story? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.