Archive for November, 2010

REFLECTION: Were you at Mass yesterday?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Were you at Mass yesterday?  I was and so were many others.  But my question searches deeper than the outer physical shell that we humans wear.  Were you at Mass in spirit and in mind?

Many of us often dash off to Mass in haste as we choose to forgo an activity or two.  Looking at things from this point of view, it is touching to know that many continue to choose to pass on an activity and to choose, instead, to spend an hour in the House of God.

But what good is that hour we have sacrificed if we enter His home with a “bubble” around us?  Have you noticed how some appear to be glazed eyed as they stand, sit and/or kneel under the cue of those around them?  I wonder how much penetrates into their consciousness as their minds drift off into another world, dwelling on activities that need to be done or could have been done.  I know that the answer is clearly NOTHING because I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I know I gain nothing by attending Mass in that state.

Precious words and a sacrament that could bring healing, comfort, joy and inner peace are missed because we have chosen to zone out of our reality and we have chosen, instead, to entertain day dreams to pass the time.

Sad isn’t it?  I wonder if our future actions and thoughts would be altered if we had a chance to eaves drop on a similar conversation that took place in Heaven before Jesus was conceived.  We hear God the Father say…”My people are dying.  They need redemption.  Something needs to be done to straighten my people.”  While in the fullness of His glory, Jesus replies…”Yes Father, I will go and redeem your people.  While still holding on to his deity, Jesus sets aside His authority and His power and He willingly chooses to become a creature. (footnote 1)  Then, at the very instant Mary said “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38), the Holy Spirit came upon her and a single cell began to split…”and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us“. (John 1:14)

But why did Jesus become man?  It was, is, and will always be because God’s people need redemption (the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil).  Another human couldn’t do it nor could a traditional sacrificial lamb.  It had to take God to come down to earth and to take on a human form to do it.

Have you wondered whether God can feel our pain?  Can God embrace our short comings?  YES HE CAN… because Jesus became flesh and He pitched His tent among our tents.  Jesus moved into our neighbourhood. (footnote 1)

He experienced every human pain, every affliction, every thing humanly possible on the Cross and still be without sin so that each of us could be freely adopted as sons and daughters of God.  Because of Jesus, we can become co-heirs to God’s kingdom!

Pastor Ed Hird writes in his book “Battle for the Soul of Canada“…”Whoever told you that God is religious?  Spirituality is not about religion.  It is about relationship!”  “Never had I imagined that having a relationship with Jesus could be more fun than going to a party or getting drunk.  The term “relationship” just means “the shape of one’s relations.”

“What I’ve discovered is that much that is called “religion” binds you with a lot of rules and external rituals.  But genuine spirituality sets you free to enter into deeper more intimate relationships with God and those around you.  Even the Latin root for ‘religion’ (religare) means literally ‘to bind’ (ligare).”

“…the Bible is not a ‘religious’ book, Jesus is not a religious person, and God is not particularly interested in religion per se….  My prayer…is that we may be liberated from the chains of false religion, and released into the freedom of genuine religion, that of intimate spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father.”

Will you be at Mass this Sunday?  I hope you will because the Father is waiting to develop a deeper, intimate relationship with you.

God bless,

Melissa

footnote 1: Portions of what I share have been adopted from Jim Murphy’s teachings on Praise and Worship.  (www.veracruzcm.com)

REFLECTION: How powerful are your words?

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Would you set your imagination free and allow yourself to venture into a rustic antique store with me?  The store keeper is occupied with another customer and yet he motions you to come in and he asks you to walk freely around.  From the corner of your eye, a sparkle from an obscured window at the far corner of the store catches your attention and you are drawn to a huge book which appears to have fallen from a shelf.  It is apparent no one has ventured back there for a while because cobwebs surround the window and shelves and the exposed pages of the fallen book have layers of dust over them.  As you brush away the dust, you notice that several words appear to jump right out at you and you begin to read.

“When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear;
so do a man’s faults when he speaks.

As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace,
so in his conversation is the test of a man.

The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had;
so too does a man’s speech disclose the bent of his mind.

Praise no man before he speaks,
for it is then that men are tested.”

Powerful words aren’t they?  I actually just came across them for the first time this morning!  The original book where these words are found is definitely antiquated as it comes from the book of Sirach 27: 4-7 (written between 200 and 175 BC) which is  accumulated with others in the Old Testament of the Bible!  I continue to be amazed of the depth of wisdom found in this Book.

Words spoken and/or written from the depths of wisdom often bring about awe to the recipient.  And yet we all know that there have been words which have been spoken through our years that have brought about pain and torment while others have triggered embarrassment, anger and/or fury.  And yet, there are also those that have brought about joy and hearty laughter while others have been so treasured, bringing encouragement through the years.

How powerful are your words?

James 3:3-6 teaches…“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

In his Bible teaching series, Jeff Cavins expands on the above.  He points out that both a horse and a ship are large and yet it only takes a comparatively small item, a bit in the mouth of a horse and a little rudder on a ship, to direct and control the movement of each.  Jeff stresses that it is not the strong wind that directs a ship, but it is the pilot with the aid of a rudder.  He asks “How many times do we feel the strong wind pushing us, tempting us to strike back as the conversation gets hot?  Is the wind going to push us into an argument or will we control our tongue?”

Is it possible to control our tongues?  James 1:19 – 20  teaches My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 teaches “...Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 2627 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

So what does it take to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger?  St. Paul teaches that we need to engage in strict training and we need to run purposely, making our tongue our slave.  Christians can also ask for God’s gifts of grace, guidance and for perseverance so that we can continue on with our strict training and qualify for the prize until our end.

Matthew 12: 33-37 teaches “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

How powerful are your words?

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – Check http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/catholic-bible/study-information/63/adult-resources-quick-journey-adventure for more of Jeff Cavin’s Bible Study material.

– Why don’t you take some time and “dive” into your Bible today…

REFLECTION: Will you ask for wisdom?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Yesterday, a few sentences from the first reading of the Sunday Missal caught my attention.  I normally listen with my eyes closed so nothing else distracts me, but the moment I heard these sentences, my eyes popped open.  Were you there at Mass yesterday?  Did anything SPEAK directly to you?

You’re probably wondering what I am referring to and here I am rattling on and on.  SO…let me share with you what I heard…“But you spare all things; because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!  Therefore, you rebuke offenders LITTLE BY LITTLE, warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord!” Wisdom 11:26 – Wisdom 12:2

God the Father rebukes us little by little.  He warns us and He reminds us… that we’re drifting or we’ve drifted away from Him
.  Have you heard this before?

I’m sure many have the impression that God the Father is a totalitarian and a disciplinarian and that He insists on getting what He wants or else.  Answers.com defines totalitarian as “Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.”, while it defines disciplinarian as “One that enforces or believes in strict discipline.”

But the scripture didn’t say that!  Was that scripture verse a mistake?  Just as if He knew He would be challenged, God inspired the writer to inscribe “Not that you were without power to have the wicked vanquished in battle by the just, or wiped out at once by terrible beasts or by one decisive word; But condemning them bit by bit, you gave them space for repentance.” Wisdom 12:9-10 There it is again…“bit by bit, you gave them space for repentance”.

Based on Biblical Scripture and on my personal walk with God, I know with all my heart, soul and mind that God is a gentle God.  Many times during my younger years, those whom I believed were my friends would toss scripture my way in attempt to correct me and supposedly, to shake me into place.  Rather than being consoled, I was left extremely shaken after their calls.  Not too long after, I began to realize that their ways were not God’s ways.  I knew my God and my God didn’t kick me when I was down just as those “friends” did.  Rather, my loving Father kneeled down and gently helped me up.  Thoughts of Job (footnote 1) and the good Samaritan (footnote 2) come to mind.

“Why is God patient with us?” some may ask.  It is because He ” wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4 .  He wants each and everyone of us to experience a full life and He wants us to live eternally with Him.

And yet we fall.  He understands that and for those who know Him and who have accepted Him as a personal savior, they can come back to Him and ask for forgiveness and ask for the grace to turn away from sin.

And yet we fall again.  As many times as we fall, the Father will gently help us back up… if we but ask.

But what happens to those who don’t ask?  In one of her books, Maria Vadia writes that when we consciously choose to sin (turn away from God’s ways), we walk away from his protective boundaries and His care.  Just as when we rebelled and defied against our parents’ cautioning advice during our teenaged years, we knowingly or unknowingly subjected ourselves to danger and all they could do was to allow us to face the consequences of our decisions.  Likewise, the Father allows us to face the consequences of our choices so perhaps we would learn and yet, how often do we blame our shortfalls and tragedies on Him?

Is it time to ask for wisdom?  May we daily ask the Father for the gift of wisdom and discernment and may we ask Him to open our spiritual eyes so that we may clearly see that He wants us to live our lives to the full.

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. –

(footnote 1) (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=job&version=NIV)
(footnote 2) (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37&version=NIV)

A Prayer for Salvation – http://christianity.about.com/od/prayersforspecificneeds/a/salvationprayer.htm

Dear Lord,
I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you.

I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!