Archive for April, 2011

REFLECTION: Will you be ready?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011



I only had half an hour this morning to spend some quiet time with the Father at McDonald’s.  Because I had a late start and because I had offered to help out shortly in preparation for a funeral reception, I told the Father that at least we had half an hour to “talk”.

As I waited in line to put in my order and as waited for it, I noticed a lady who appeared quite happy and who swayed her arms in a dancing motion.  The second time I noticed her, I commented that it was so nice to see her so happy.  I don’t remember her initial response, but she then asked how she knew me.  I told her she didn’t, but I still was glad to see her so happy.

For this time alone, I sat close to the counter so I could keep my eye on the clock.  I noticed that the lady and her companion had already seated themselves 2 tables away.  I then entered into my world with the Father as I read, reflected and prayed through Lallith Perera’s book on the 4 Steps Retreat.

Each time I paused to pray, I noticed, from the corner of my eye, that the lady was looking my way.  I wasn’t quite sure what part of me would “appeal” to her (ha ha), but eventually she asked if I was part of the production of the book I was reading.  She must have thought the crowd depicted on the cover of the book was part of a musical or dramatic production.  I told her I was reading a book on a retreat I had attended last summer and she asked if it was religious.  To my surprise, she asked me to tell her more when I told her it was a Christian book.  She immediately told me that she was looking for ways to connect with God!

I quickly glanced at the clock (I had 15 minutes left) and I told her I would finish the muffin that was in my mouth because I didn’t want to spit as I talked.  She immediately replied that she was spat at before…  sigh…

I chewed in silence and I knew the Father was preparing her spirit and mine to connect through His Spirit.  We (He and I) both knew I couldn’t get through this without His grace.

With one additional sip of coffee, I asked how her journey was?  It was bleak.  She had been abused since childhood and she wanted to find freedom.  She mentioned that she had started going to church, but she was unable to connect in the way she was hungering for.  I sensed she needed extensive healing prayer and I asked if she was willing to have my friend, Pastor Wayne, and the New Life Christian Centre congregation pray over her.  Sharing my experience and that of a friend and of the extensive loving prayer intercessions we each received over several days that continued on for several weeks, I knew this one would receive and sense the love she so desperately needed there.

I believe that was when I gave her the book I was reading.  She was thrilled and I pointed her to the area I had just finished high-lighting…  “Come as you are, I love you.”

With the Father’s grace and mercy, I prayed with her for a while and I told her that He loved her just the way she was.  I reminded her that she was no longer a victim, but she was a victor in the living Christ who she believed in.

As I write and reflect, I now begin to see the bigger picture.  The time at McDonald’s wasn’t the Father’s and mine alone to share.  He had bigger plans.  We had our first 15 minutes together and in that time, He was preparing and reminding me that I could not do His work with Him on the outside, but I needed Him to work in me and through me.

The next 15 minutes was ours to share with the lady.  His invitation had already been extended when He first “introduced” us in our first encounter.  I would like to think that she caught a glimpse of Him in me and so she asked…“How do I know you?”… and I caught a glimpse of Him in her.

1 Peter 3:15 encourages us… “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”   Will you be ready when He calls?

God bless,

Melissa – April 25, 2011

REFLECTION: Who betrayed Him?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011


Who betrayed Jesus?  I’m sure many will be quick to say it was Judas Iscariot.  I did too until I read the passion of Christ more astutely in the Gospels and I prayed it through with the Father.

Who was Judas Iscariot?  He was one of the 12 apostles whom Jesus had handpicked to walk with Him during His 3 years of public life… preaching, teaching and touching the lives of many He came into contact with.  Judas partook in the division of bread, among many other miracles and he was chosen to be the band’s treasurer.

For the longest time, I thought Judas was chosen solely to fulfill the role of Jesus’ betrayer.  When asked about it during his teaching of Theology of the Body, Fr. Alan Boisclair expanded and explained that Judas was picked as one of the apostles because Jesus found him worthy to walk with Him.  Like the other apostles, Judas shared the truth about Jesus to others and he participated in the good that Jesus called his apostles to do.

And yet, John, one of the other apostles, was under the impression that Judas was a thief.

“Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.John 12:2-6

Because Jesus was divine, He knew before hand that Judas would eventually betray Him.   In spite of that knowledge, in His infinite love, compassion and mercy, I believe Jesus still chose to give Judas a chance to be one of His 12 because he had the qualities of a good apostle.    I am under the impression that Judas’ wayward ways took hold of him perhaps many months or perhaps even many years after Jesus had given him the role as treasurer.  Regardless of when wayward ways took over, it was evident it finally took a hold of him and out of his own free will, ..“one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.   From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14-16

Fr. Al explained that like each of us, Judas had the freedom to exercise his free will.  Although the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” John 13:2, Judas still had the ability to fight the temptation, just as we have the ability to say “NO” to the devil when he prompts us to do wrong.

Some may argue that Judas was chosen to fulfill a prophecy.  I would beg to differ on this as I am under the impression that if Judas didn’t do it, someone else would have fulfilled it.   It was very evident that the Pharasees had been scheming all along to do Jesus in.

“Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.  “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?  No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” John 7:45-49

“Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?  “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:31-33

“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”  Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” John 11:47-50

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.John 11:55-57

So who betrayed Jesus.  Sadly I must admit that I did and if you are honest about it, you would admit that you did too.  Each of us betrays Jesus when we consciously choose to do wrong, to turn away from His ways…  His ways to help us find our way back to the Father…  His ways to help us gain the freedom which we were created to enjoy.  And so why do we choose to turn away?  Perhaps the devil’s schemes are extremely clever and he manages to find ways to make us fall into his traps.  And yet, Jesus provides a way of escape, but we choose otherwise.

Who betrayed Jesus?

God bless,

Melissa – April 21, 2011 (Revision – April 27/11)

p.s. – It was not Judas alone who betrayed Jesus.   Peter betrayed Jesus too.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.   And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34

Peter Disowns Jesus

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.   Peter followed at a distance.  A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight.   She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:54-62

It should be noted that unlike Judas, Peter repented from his wayward ways and received Jesus’ forgiveness.  Judas, on the other hand, failed to seek Jesus’ forgiveness and he ended his life by hanging himself.

REFLECTION: I did it my way?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Several days ago, I received a special prayer request from a new friend.  It was not like many other requests for physical healing, but one for something deeper…the spiritual health of others.

As I prayed, I began to realize that, like the others, my own spiritual health had been challenged of late.  Are we entering a season of testing?  I am not surprised if we are.  The enemy knows his time is near and there is no doubt he is getting more aggressive in his tactics.  His hatred towards the Father is immense and he is doing what he can to turn the Father’s children, those who have chosen to live their freedom in Christ, away from the Father.  Isn’t that the best way to hurt a parent?

During our discussion at a Bible study, one participant had mentioned that Christianity is black and white, but one challenged her and mentioned that there were gray areas too.  To me, Christianity is black and white (ie: there is a clear distinction between what is right and wrong) but unfortunately, the world has altered its ways of thinking and has compromised one time too often, combining the two “colors” together to create a new way of thinking…gray.

In my heart and in my mind, living by “gray areas” may appear “luxurious” for a moment because we are able to do things “our way”,  but eventually, if each one chose to continue to live life his/her own way, would we not eventually come face to face with chaos?  Have we not reached the point of chaos in some areas already?

As I continue to write, the Father reminds me of the “lukewarm” individuals mentioned in Revelations 3: 14-16“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write…I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

This scripture passage sounds strange, doesn’t it?  Before diving further into chapters 2-3 of the Book of Revelations in his instructional DVD,  Jeff Cavins explains that God uses phrases, things and places that are familiar to the people He addresses in the 7 churches in Asia Minor.  Jeff specifically points out that God speaks their lingo, unlike what one would imagine a distant god would do if he could speak down to the inhabitants on earth.

Just as Jeff does, Wikepedia explains in  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laodicean_Church, … “this metaphor has been drawn from the water supply of the city, which was lukewarm, in contrast to the hot springs at nearby Hierapolis and the pure water (from the cool mountain streams from the snowy peaks) of Colossae. The archaeology shows Laodicea had an aqueduct that probably carried water from hot mineral springs some five miles south, which would have become tepid before entering the city… The imagery of the Laodicean aqueduct suggests not that “hot” is good and “cold” is bad,  but that both hot and cold water are useful, whereas
lukewarm water is useless.”

For this reflection alone, I would like to propose that it was the mingling/combination of the two extremes…hot and cold… which resulted in the undesired lukewarm temperature.  (ie: black + white = gray; hot + cold = luke warm)  It would not be surprising then to learn that the Laodiceans were “cafeteria believers”, selectively picking what they wanted to embrace in their faith walk while rejecting what didn’t appeal to them,  saying…”It’s not me.”

Jeff explains that cold represents apostasy (the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief) while hot represents being “on fire” for the Lord.  Rather than being indifferent to our faith, the Father wants us to contribute to the growth of society’s faith, having an influence and contribution towards building God’s kingdom.

Revelations 3:17-18 continues with… “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on
your eyes, so you can see.”

“The words attributed to the Laodiceans obviously mark an ironic over-confidence in regard to spiritual wealth. They are unable to recognise their bankruptcy. However the image may also be drawing on the perceived worldly wealth of the city.”- Wikepedia

Jeff explains that the Father is suggesting that the people change their ways and He encourages them to do genuine works of obedience (gold refined in fire), engage in righteous deeds of the saints (white clothes to wear), and to move away from their disobedience (nakedness).  He also offers them eye salve, which their city was famous for, to clear up their inability to see (blindness was a sign of man’s falleness, his refusal to accept guilt and repent).  In essence, the Father encourages the people of Laodicea and the people of every generation to change… and with the victorious change, we are to look forward to the reward… “I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.”

Would I like to do everything in life my way?  Based on my changing moods and fluctuating hormone levels, I’m sure my family will definitely say “no”.  I say “no” myself, knowing all too well how chaotic this household would be.  (You can imagine how much prayers I’ll need to get myself out of my mess!)  I consider myself so blessed to have Someone to follow, One who has paved the way ahead of me so I don’t have to do things my way.  What about you?

God bless,

Melissa – April 21, 2011

REFLECTION: She touched me…

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011


On her way back after receiving Holy Communion the other morning, she touched me for several seconds and then she smiled.  Her touch surprised me because I thought she didn’t fancy me and yet that day, she reached out and touched me.

Another had called the other day, thanking me for what I had done, not realizing that her gesture was the very thing I needed to raise my spirits.  And then yesterday, another encouraged me not to look back, mentioning that God said “do not be afraid” 365 times in the Bible, providing a special word of hope for each day. (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_times_does_the_Bible_tell_us_to_Fear_Not)

Often times, recipients of encouragement think that the relationship they have with their encourager is one-sided.  After repeated encounters, some recipients feel troubled because they appear to always be at the receiving end.  And yet, they fail to realize that in God’s economy, He has His perfect way of working things out so that with time, the recipient becomes strong enough to become a giver too.

At the end of his seminar, “A Call to Holiness”, Jim Murphy invited each attendant to participate in a closing exercise.  He invited each to come up and to lay their hands on the altar and to tell God that he/she chose to be holy. Instructions were given subsequently, so that each one was requested to walk through the centre aisle in order to get to the altar.  Before the exercise began, another invitation was made, asking those who were interested to stand on each side of the aisle with specific instructions not to minister to those who walked through, but to merely encourage them on.

It was not surprising to see that it was primarily the regular encouragers (ministers) who were standing along both sides of the aisle.   Many were grateful and thanked us for the encouragements as they walked through, but it was only when it was my turn to leave the encouragers’ line and I joined the others towards the altar that I began to clearly recognize the truth Jim had intended for us to see.

I wonder how many realized that many of the encouragers were there because they had been encouraged in their own walk.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says… “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Although He was God, as He walked on planet Earth, Jesus, himself encountered many trials and tribulations.  More often than not, He took time away from others so He could spend time with the Father, receiving the encouragement  He needed to carry on.  Being God, he was able to forsee the trials He would encounter and it was only through the encouragement of the Father that Jesus was able to continue to choose to do His Father’s will.

As I slowly worked my way up towards the altar to dedicate my life to God’s call to holiness, I realized that had it not been for those whom the Father used to encouraged me on, I would not have been able to continue to fight the good fight, I would not have been able to keep the faith that I have today to finish the race each one of us are called to. (2 Timothy 4:7)  Because of what He went through, Jesus, our broken Healer, joins the others He calls to encourage us on so that we can finally return Home.

Thank you for reaching out and encouraging another.

God bless,

Melissa – April 4, 2011

p.s. Scriptures of Jesus praying (http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/jesus-parables-teachings/jesus-example/jesus-praying.php)

And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. ( Mark 1:35)

And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray. ( Mark 6:45-46)

And they came to a place called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled.  And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground, and began praying. ( Mark 14:32-34)

And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. ( Luke 4:42)

But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. ( Luke 5:16)

And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. ( Luke 6:12)

– This reflection is dedicated lovingly to Kathleen K, Andrea P, Andrea R, Nicole N, and Lennie D.  Thank YOU for encouraging me on!

REFLECTION: Did you say you want me to let go of the cross?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Many years ago, perhaps about 15 to be a little more precise, Archbishop Adam Exner gave a homily that I continue to hold onto to this day.  The memory isn’t crystal clear and it would be wonderful to find the notes I took then, but I hope and pray I can remember enough to share the power of what he said.

Perhaps it was in his younger years, when Archbishop Exner went to visit a Priest who was, at that time, more senior than him, where he noticed 3 scenes of a painted cross hanging on the wall.  In the first, he noticed a miniscule island with a large cross standing tall in the midst of it.  Kneeling at the foot of the cross was a man, praying.  The next picture depicted the man diving into the sea away from the cross that had begun to crumble.  The final scene depicted a new cross rising up from the surface of a choppy sea with the man clinging onto it.

Where you able to grasp all that?  I do recall gasping when I heard the description of the second scene.  It was and it still is difficult (painful) to visualize the cross Jesus died on crumble, and yet, that is exactly what happened to it. (http://www.blurtit.com/q336435.html / http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_happened_to_Jesus%27s_cross_after_he_died)

The cross was another “tree” that the Father had used in His story of life for mankind.  The first Adam fell away from the Father because of a tree (apple tree) and the last Adam, Jesus, provided the only way back to the Father, by dying on a tree. (the cross)

Both trees were creations of God.  The first provided the way for the first man and woman to reject God and introduced sin into the world.  I suppose that is the reason why we haven’t seen many wearing an apple tree pendant around their neck.  The last was and continues to be a symbol of Jesus’ death on the cross, to free mankind from the grip of sin and to provide a way back into the heart of the Father.

If we delve a little deeper, we realize that it is not the cross that saves mankind, but it is who Jesus was and what He did that makes all the difference.  Jesus, the son of God, who willingly came down from Heaven… who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary to become human… who willingly chose to be the sacrificial lamb, to die on the cross for ALL the sins of mankind so that all who choose to believe in Him and what He did could experience, once again. the very life, the joyful freedom, the overflowing love and the deep and intimate friendship man once shared with God in the garden of Eden.

If I recall correctly, I believe Archbishop Exner stressed similarly, that it not the cross that saves and/or brings healing, but it is Jesus who is the Saviour and the Healer.  Primarily at their time of desperation, many come to the cross to pray to ask for God’s help.  Little do they realize that it is not the cross that hears their cries, but it is Jesus, the broken Healer.  If we hold onto the cross too tightly and fail to recognize and realize that it is Jesus who heals and saves, it is similar to clinging onto a perishable object that will eventually crumble and deteriorate with time.  Just as we have witnessed of late with the tsunamis that hit Indonesia and Japan, trees are merely objects that will also be washed away by the larger waves.  But just as the last scene in the picture Archbishop Exner described, when we call out to Jesus the Saviour who will and can NEVER change, He will send out whatever we need to bring us to safety.

Would you be willing to let go off the cross and choose instead to develop a deeper and intimate relationship with the Saviour that heals?

God bless,

Melissa – April 4, 2012

p.s. – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16 -17

REFLECTION: What did He say?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Before the children’s Mass last Wednesday, I sensed the Father calling me to meet Him at the Stations of the Cross by the side walls of the Sanctuary.  We met at the 9th station where Jesus falls for the third time.  As I prayed and reflected on the carved scene of the bleeding and tired Jesus who had stumbled onto his knees while still carrying the heavy cross on His shoulder, I sensed Him saying…”Do not be afraid to fall.  Life is difficult and you are only human.  I  stumbled three times and I expect you to stumble too.”

We then moved onto the next station where the Roman soldiers stripped the clothing off Jesus.  Here, I sensed Jesus saying…”Do not be afraid to have your “clothes” stripped off.  There is nothing to be ashamed off.  Let them strip away what is needed to reveal all that is within you and let them see the truth, My truth, living in you.”

We then moved on to the next stations where Jesus was nailed and where He dies on the cross.  There I heard Him say…”Do not be afraid.  it is not you who needs to be nailed to the cross.  I have already been nailed on the cross for you.  I only ask you to nail all the ways of the world, which you cling onto, to My cross.  I am not asking you to die physically, but I ask you to let your self-reliance and your selfish and earthly desires die so you can follow me fully and completely.

And finally at the station where Jesus is taken down from the cross He said…”Like Me, you have also been taken down from the cross.  I have not left you there to remain shackled to it.  I have taken you down to give you freedom.  Come, be alive and free as I am alive and free!”

Has Jesus spoken to you today?

God bless,

Melissa – April 2, 2011

p.s. – http://www.catholic.org/prayers/station.php? – the 14 Stations of the Cross

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BXt7k7UpBo – Stations of the Cross through the eyes of Mary