Archive for July, 2011

REFLECTION in the Garden: Companions on our Journey…

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

As I made time to weed the garden this morning, the words “companions on our journey” repeatedly came to mind.  Thoughts of those who have helped me and who continue to help me on my journey didn’t surface, but instead, those who I have struggled with and am struggling with continued to come to the fore front.

The Father then reminded me of the numerous weeds we had pulled out this morning.  I sensed Him saying that a true companion is one who helps us see the weeds in our lives and who gently assists us in pulling them out, roots and all.  He then expanded, saying that we, too, need to be companions for others and so He brings them across our path so we can assist them on their journey.  Many rise up quickly when healing takes place and yet there are some who repeatedly ask for more, perhaps expecting us to carry them along on our journey.  These are the ones, the Father says, who take our time away from Him, who take our attention from the garden of our soul, and who hinder us from doing God’s work.  He has given them the healing grace to “rise up and walk” (Matthew 9: 1-8 / Acts 3:6) and yet these prefer to sit and let others do the walking on their behalf.

Our Father calls us to bring others to Him and yet some prefer to continue to keep their distance and instead, they prod us repeatedly to intercede on their behalf.  Rather than spending precious time acquainting themselves personally with the Father, they keep prodding us to do the work for them.

In her CD teaching “Cracking the Enemy’s Code”, Joyce Meyer mentions that the Father didn’t give us our faith just to get what we want, but He makes us whole so we can spend time with others so they, in turn, can receive the same things we received from the Father.  And yet, why are there some who appear to be unwilling to help themselves?

Joyce mentions that people are generally passive, but if they actively chose God and God’s ways, they would see light.  She adds “many Christians are not doing anything to help anyone else”.  They focus on “what I can get and how I can get my breakthrough from my faith or the faith of another.  It is constantly I, I or me, me.  You cannot be selfish and be happy.”  She stresses, “If you are unhappy, maybe you should stop blaming others, your spouse, your kids, your lack of income, your this and that, your past.  Maybe you need to ask what I can do to help someone else.  People don’t realize how joy bubbles up when you help someone else”

“ We have remained passive and we say we wish God would do something, we wish the government would do something, we wish someone would do something.  We don’t realize that the someone who needs to do something is us.  Each of us has the responsibility to do our part.”  She then refers to Matthew 12:43-45 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” and she mentions that the message exemplifies passivity versus activity.  When people do nothing, evil takes over.”

At first glance, I was puzzled over the analogy, but as I pondered over the scripture a little more with the Father, He began to reveal that as He brings healing into our lives, we are called to invite the Holy Spirit to replace the emptiness.  As we begin to walk with the Holy Spirit and we learn to walk in His ways, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) fill us to the brim and the rivers of living water begin to flow from within us and they overflow and touch others.  We are given the strength to pick up our own cross and to assist others so that we can all journey together back into the heart of the Father.

How have you journeyed with others through planet Earth?  Are you carrying your own cross (Luke 9:23) or are you trying to convince others to carry it for you?  Will you choose to allow the Holy Spirit to fill you or will you choose to stay idle and allow the ways of the world to slowly creep in?

God bless,

Melissa – July 27. 2011

REFLECTION: Who is the Holy Spirit? (a teaching)

Thursday, July 21st, 2011


Mario has invited me to give your Prayer Group a talk on the Holy Spirit.  My first response to this invitation was surprise because I do not have a theology background.  I am merely an ordinary lay person whom the Father has planted a deep hunger for Him and His Word.  And yet as I prayed about it, our Father had begun to tell me that I do have some theology background because He has been personally teaching me His theology all along.  I believe that as we walk with the Father, He personally teaches each of us about Himself, about Jesus and about the Holy Spirit.

Before we go on,  I would like to invite each of you to sit upright, but make yourself comfortable.  If possible, please do not lean back on the back rest.

During our retreat with Frances Hogan, we were taught to sit erect and to be alert as we spend time with God.  She had stressed that during our time with Him at Adoration, we should NOT be praying the Rosary or reading a book.  She mentioned that we should do ALL of these activity PRIOR to our time with Him, but when the time comes, we should give Him our full attention.  Anything less would be impolite.  It would be similar to praying the Rosary or reading a book while we spend time with our best friend.

As you settle in, I would now invite you to shut your eyes and to begin silently thanking the Holy Spirit for calling you here tonight.

Father God, we thank You for inviting each of us here tonight as we gather together for the Mustard Seed’s prayer group.  Father, we didn’t come on our own accord, but You invited us.  We know that the group meets regularly on a weekly basis, but still each week Lord, You invite each one to come.  Without realizing it, each one present has said “yes” to Your invitation and each has chosen, by his or her own free will, to come.  Father, only You know the reason for their “yes”.  Some may have come for a time of refreshing; others may have come for healing or companionship; some out of duty; and there may even be some who have come because they were coerced to.  Regardless of the reason, we are here Lord and we are now seated before You.   Thank You dear Jesus.

Father, we ask that you search our very being to see if we have any unconfessed sins. We ask for your forgiveness for what we have done intentionally or unintentionally to bring harm to another or to ourselves.  Father, we also ask for your forgiveness for what we have intentionally or unintentionally failed to do to reach out with Your love to another.  Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins dear Jesus and thank You for forgiving us as we come before You in repentance.  We ask that You give us the grace and the desire not to sin again.  Help us to grow in You dear Jesus.

Father, You promised that whenever two or more are gathered in Your name, You will be in our midst.  Thank You for gathering us together in your name and thank You for gathering us around You.

In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

As you continue to sit quietly with your eyes closed, I invite you to reflect. Who is the Holy Spirit?  Do I really know Him?  Is He merely a concept to me which remains in my head?  Or do I know Him personally from my heart?

For those who haven’t met Him yet, may I introduce Him to you?  Friends, meet the Holy Spirit.  He is here right before you.  He is the deepest love between the Father and the Son and He is a gift which the Father wants to extend to you.  He is not a force.  He is a Person.  He is God.  He is the third Person of the Trinitarian Godhead.

Can you feel Him?  He is here.  He wants to touch you.  He wants to heal you.  He wants to spend time with you and to know you ever so intimately… and yet, some are hesitant and would prefer to keep Him at a distance.  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and He will not impose Himself on you.  He waits patiently, waiting to be invited into your heart, into your life.  If you aren’t ready to invite Him in at this moment, it’s okay.  He is not offended.  He is ever so patient and He will wait until you are ready to invite Him.

Who is the Holy Spirit?  He is the Spirit that hovered over the waters at the time of creation in the book of Genesis (Gen 1:2) and He is the Spirit who brought forth Jesus into the womb of Mary (Luke 1:35).  He is the Spirit who resurrected Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).  Would you believe this is the very same Spirit whom Jesus has promised each of us who believes in Him so that we will have the power to be His witness to the ends of the earth? (Acts 1:8)

How do we know that the Holy Spirit is a person? ( http://www.theholyspirit.com)

1) He has an intellect. 1 Cor 2:10these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

2) The Holy Spirit has knowledge. 1 Cor 2:1111 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

3) The Holy Spirit has emotions. Ephesians 4:30 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

4) The Holy Spirit has his own will and he makes decisions. Acts 16:6 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.”

5) The Holy Spirit Loves. Romans 15:30 “ 30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”

What does the Holy Spirit do? (http://www.theholyspirit.com)

1) He teaches you things about God and yourself. John 14:26 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

2) He tells the truth. John 15:26 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

3) He guides. John 16:13 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

4) He convinces. John 16:8 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

5) He prays for you. Romans 8:26-27 “26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

6) He commands. Acts 13:2 “ 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

I invite you now to open your eyes and to turn to Galatians 5:16-18…  It says…”But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.  But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” (Footnote 1)

In our world today, it is not difficult to discern what the ways of the flesh are.  A single step into the world outside will reveal the havoc that is around us…”Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension (disagreement), party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galations 5:19-21 (Footnote 2)

Galatians 5:22-25 describes the 9 Fruit of the Holy Spirit and 3 additional virtues… 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Footnote 3)

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible points out that the terminology used is “fruit” (singular) rather than “fruits” (plural).  It is important to note that we are called to exhibit all 9 characteristics of Jesus simultaneously rather than pick and choose which one suits us.  This fruit reveals the presence and the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Matthew 7:17-20 teaches “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

As we continue our faith journey with the Holy Spirit, we are given gifts which He calls us to use for others. 1 Cor 14:1 says…”Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts…”  ”There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

As I did further research, I came across some powerful insight from http://www.theholyspirit.com/HolySpiritGiftsFruits.asp.  The website states “Unfortunately, there are some who seek the Gifts of the Holy Spirit without first acquiring the Fruit in their life. We must have the Fruit of the Spirit at work, if we want God to entrust us with the Gifts of the Spirit.”  The author clearly teaches that without the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we cannot use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to our fullest capacity.

  1. “The Word of Wisdom supernaturally discloses the mind, purpose, and the way of God as applied to a specific situation. If we have the Wisdom of God, then we must have Love, for God is Love. If you search for the first gift of the Spirit, you must possess the first fruit of the Spirit.
  2. The Word of Knowledge is a supernatural revelation of information about a specific thing and has to do with an immediate need. Jesus gave instruction to His disciples so His Joy would remain in them and be full. A Word of Knowledge will always be received with Joy from His disciples, so we must first strive to have the fruit of Joy in our lives.
  3. Faith is a special outpouring of supernatural Faith for release of a miracle. Even a small amount of Faith in our Father will bring Peace into our lives. If we have the Peace that passes all understanding then we will be ready for the Gift of Faith when the need arises. So seek first to have the fruit of the Spirit: Peace.
  4. Healings are those Healings that God performs supernaturally. If we are Longsuffering, then we have learned to be content in any situation as Paul was. He learned that in his weakness, Jesus strength was made perfect. So if we can learn to be Longsuffering in all, then we will be able to accept the supernatural Healing God has for us. Faith produces miracles, but miracles do not necessarily produce faith, unless we know how to rejoice in any situation. That we do not look for the Healing, but for the relationship with God that will bring about the Healing.
  5. Working of Miracles is a manifestation of Divine power to perform something that could not be done naturally. Jesus performed many Miracles because He had compassion on the crowds and acted with Kindness. Without the Fruit of Kindness, we would not be able to use the Gift how God would want us to.
  6. Prophecy is a supernatural disclosure, a sudden Spirit inspired insight that brings exhortation to the body of Christ. Goodness means to have decency, generosity, righteousness. To exhort and edify the body of Christ we must first possess the virtues and values which are synonymous with Goodness.
  7. Discerning of Spirits is to detect the true spirit behind the acts and manifestations taking place around us. It is used to further build Faithfulness on our Lord and Savior. The fruit of Faithfulness is the foundation for being true only to our Lord, and the acts of the Holy Spirit. We may then seek the gift of Discerning of Spirits to further our perception of the workings of the true Spirit of God.
  8. Different kinds of Tongues is praying or singing in a supernatural or heavenly language which has a specific message associated with it. James tells us about the things from above, that they are pure, peaceful, and Gentle. How can we seek the Gift which will deliver a message to God’s people if we first do not seek fruit of His likeness.
  9. Interpretation of tongues is translating the message of tongues so that the heavenly message may be given. Would you trust someone translating for you that put their own thoughts and words into your message. You would want someone of great Self Control to be true and accurate. How much more would our Father want someone of Self Control to translate His holy message to His people.”

In conclusion, I encourage each one to walk ever so closely with the Holy Spirit.  Each of us are called to invite all to live in freedom in Christ, but if we do not walk closely with the Holy Spirit and we do not exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, how will our lives be a true testimony of the One who lives in us?  May the Father give us His grace and His desire to live our lives fully in the Spirit.

God bless,

Melissa – presented July 18, 2011 / updated July 21, 2011

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FOOTNOTES:

Footnote 1:

Ignatius Study Bible: “Paul alerts readers that a hidden war is waged in the heart of every Christian.  It is a struggle between the Spirit and our flesh. ie: our fallen nature that inclines us toward evil (Rom 8:5-8).  Unless we follow the Spirit’s lead, the lusts of the flesh (concupiscence) will dominate our lives and enslave us in sin.  When we respond to grace, we enable the Spirit to work powerfully in us by clearing our vices that lead us away from God.  Because of our weaknesses, victory in this struggle is possible, but not easy. (1 Cor 9:25-27; CCC2515-2516, 1426, 2744)”

Footnote 2:

Ignatius Study Bible: “The sins of the flesh include more than just sins of the body.  They consist of every act of the world (James 4:1-5; 1 Jn 2:15-17).  These grave sins sever offenders from Christ (Gal 5:4) and will block their entrance into heaven if repentance is neglected (CCC 1470; 1855) / Even Christians can forfeit their salvation if they stifle the Spirit and submit to the flesh (Rom 6:15-16).  Paul posts this warning in several of his letters (Rom 8:12-13; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5)”

Footnote 3:

Ignatius Study Bible: “The indwelling of the Spirit produces holiness in the lives of believers (Mt 12:33; Jn 15:1-6).  The first of this divine presence is love, the source of all that is good and the virtue upon which others are built (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 1:22)  It may be significant that Paul says “fruit” (singular) instead of “fruits (plural), suggesting that life in the Spirit is integrated and whole, not fragmented or divided (CCC 736; 1695; 1832).”

Footnote 4: – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_gifts_of_the_Holy_Spirit

The seven gifts are enumerated in Isaiah 11:2-3 and conform to the Latin Vulgate[1], which takes the list from the Septuagint [2]. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church[1] and descriptions outlined by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica,[2] the seven gifts are as follows:

  • Wisdom: Also,the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the whole image of God. We see God as our Father and other people with dignity. Lastly being able to see God in everyone and everything everywhere.
  • Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person’s speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known, Aquinas writes.[3]
  • Counsel (Right Judgment): With the gift of counsel/right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus. The gift of truth that allows the person to respond prudently, and happily to believe our Christ the Lord
  • Fortitude (Courage): With the gift of fortitude/courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil, especially with regard to goods or evils that are difficult, just like Joan of Arc did.
  • Knowledge: With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God. The gift of knowledge is more than an accumulation of facts.
  • Piety (Reverence): With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.
  • Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe): With the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a “filial fear,” like a child’s fear of offending his father, rather than a “servile fear,” that is, a fear of punishment. Also known as knowing God is all powerful. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7) because it puts our mindset in its correct location with respect to God: we are the finite, dependent creatures, and He is the infinite, all-powerful Creator.

REFLECTION: The secret…

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Has anyone asked you to keep a secret?  Have you asked another to keep a secret?  I have, and it was only yesterday that I did so.

As I reviewed my notes from an Ignatian retreat given by Fr. Elton Fernandez, my eyes came across… “SECRECY – Is there something there that I am hiding and is unhealthy?  evil uses secrecy; we need to bring things into the light; what is of God is not left in the darkness.”

As the Father and I continued to “talk” this through, I began to realize what I shared with another was not a secret.  It was a discussion with another mature Christian and a confidant to seek counsel.  It was with one whom I believed had matured through years of experience with their walk with the Father and who was mature and “big” enough to look beyond my flaws and of the other; one who is able to see good, to give Godly counsel and who is ever so willing to pray good into the situation.  To me, I call these few individuals my ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNERS.  These are the ones who know my heart and who are willing to correct me ever so gently when I am wrong; those who can give solid counsel without being tainted by emotions against my offender; those who continue to encourage me on my faith journey so I can finish my race victoriously on planet earth and return home to the loving arms of our Father.  They are the ones who point me to the road less travelled, the one that has a sharp incline, but well worth the climb because it leads me back to the Father’s heart.

And yet my mind cries out, “Then why the secret?” and my heart responds, “Lord, was it a secret?”  In a manner, what I shared in confidence was a secret, but it was shared in confidence so that no harm would be brought to the other of concern.  No malice was intended through the discussion, but a greater good was sought to determine if I had been overly sensitive or if I was over reacting to the situation.

As if by chance, although I know it is by divine providence, I have come across a chapter called “Lessons in Love” from the book of Sister Ann Shields called “Deeper Conversion – Extraordinary Grace for Ordinary Times“.  Her chapter begins with Scripture from Matthew 5:38-48, but it was these particular verses that leaped out of the book and touched me.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy’.  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”

She teaches… “Jesus gives us a greater command that can stop the cycle of evil in its tracks:  Rather than doing to your enemy what he has done to you, love him. … What Jesus is looking at is our heart, our motivation.  He is speaking about our reactions to the selfishness, anger, hatred and bitterness that we experience.  A Christian will decide (her emphasis) not to further a wrongdoing by retaliation.  He or she will seek to work out a problem by talking directly to the offending person – and ONLY THAT PERSON (my emphasis).  On occasion we may need to seek advice in order to remedy a situation, but here we must be discerning.  Is that a cloak to cover our desire to vent?  Are we hoping to involve others in our defense?  Gossip, calumny and slander are not the means of resolving wrongdoing.”

“The decision to “turn the other cheek” takes grace, and if we ask for grace, God will give it to us.  He will give us the wisdom and strength to forget self and pursue peace – not peace at any price but peace based on charity and justice.”

“Is this hard?  Of course it is.  But God never commands without imparting power and the necessary gifts to carry out his Word.   Our biggest problem is that we do not expect his help; we do not ask for it.  We simply react.”

“We need self-control to respond (her emphasis), not react, to the painful words and actions of others.  Ask God for this; it takes practice but yields the fruit of peace.  We can become channels of peace through honest and frank discussion.”

“We must take our injuries to the heart of God and ask him to carry them, so they do not fester in us.  Ask God for the courage to love the person who has offended you.  Someday, maybe a year or two from now; the person may come to you and in some way express sorrow for the injury. IF your heart has remained in prayer for the person and you have chosen to remain open to God’s working through you, you will see fruit.

Ann ends her chapter by quoting Cardinal Christoph Schonborn… “Somebody has to make the beginning of venturing the step toward the other person.  And Jesus thinks that I should be that somebody.”

There are times when ascending the steep incline of the “road less travelled” can be extremely difficult.  The journey can be rather lonely and isolated as we choose to take action contrary to the ways of the world.  The Father never leaves us, and He knows exactly what we need to carry on.  He knows when we need another human companion on our journey and He sends them accordingly to our needs.

Due diligence is necessary in discerning who we share our burden with because there will be some who can and who will use the information we share to bring harm to ourselves and to the offender.  Care must be taken so that we don’t invite others to engage in a pity party nor do we want to journey with those who walk in the ways of the world and who would encourage us to scorn our offender and to retaliate.  I am of the opinion that in these situations, in spite of the dire need for a human companion, it would be better to keep the incident a secret until a trust worthy God loving individual is available to walk with us through the narrow road.

Father God, you know every need that we have even before we are able to speak it.  We ask that You send the Holy Spirit down to renew our very being.  Renew our thoughts, renew our hearts, renew our ways Lord so that we can walk like Jesus did.  Give us the grace to turn the other cheek when we are offended and teach us to offer the pain and the agony experienced to You and join it with your suffering to bring redemption into this world.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 13, 2011

REFLECTION: Is all the world a stage?

Monday, July 11th, 2011


In his poem, Shakespeare writes…

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…”

I’ve pondered over this lately and I wonder if all the world’s a stage?  I believe there are numerous stages which we are called to perform on;  at times we are called to perform with a large audience and at times there are only one or two around.  If  one is alone and there is no one else around that appears to be watching, would you say that the individual is still performing on stage?  In my mind’s eye, I would prefer to think that at this point, the stage life is over and the individual re-enters into real life.

As I observe individuals in their daily walk, I notice that there are a few who are excellent performers and who act and perform magnificently in their mighty roles.  And then, there are some who don’t perform as well, but instead, they perform just as they do in their ordinary lives, responding accordingly to the promptings of their hearts.  For the latter, I doubt if the performing arts would consider hiring them even for minor roles, but in truth, these are the ones whom I would prefer to journey with on my walk through planet earth.

Scripture teaches…

Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.


Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.


Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.


Matthew 23:5Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

Matthew is not speaking of one particular group per se, but he refers to anyone and everyone whose actions are a show for the rest of the world to see.

We all are actors to one degree or another.  The intent to “act” and to “perform” may not be in the fore front of our mind, but there are moments in our lives when we have to put our best foot forward and so we curtail bad habits and we make every effort to present the very best of ourselves.  Discipline may be a more accurate word for this type of behaviour and there is no doubt that it is good.  In fact, it is very good as discipline allows us to develop and grow into individuals with a more balanced character.

As we review the scriptures once more, we begin to see that it is the desire to call attention to oneself that is frowned upon.  It is a false self that is presented to others, putting oneself on a pedestal for the world to see and pretending to live a life bigger than who we really are…  in hopes of winning the respect and admiration of others.  The initial attempts to live lives beyond who we really are may require little effort at the onset, but I wonder how much effort, planning and scheming is required, as time progresses, where one lie after another is needed to support the facade we want to portray.

Would life not be easier if we didn’t have to perform on stage?   Would it not be better if we chose to show our true colours to others, but more significantly to ourselves?  Many of us find it difficult to accept who we are.  Perhaps we have embraced lies which others have labelled us or taunted us with in our childhood days.  Perhaps because of our insecurities, we fantasize and pretend that we can be someone who we believe others would prefer us to be.  Rather than seeking and asking for the healing the Father can bring into our lives, we choose instead to continue to pretend and to live our lives on stage, attempting to fool the world and ourselves.

God bless,

Melissa – July 10, 2011

REFLECTION in the Garden: What are your true colors?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I was once told that adversity brings out our true colors.  Another had mentioned that the juice that comes out of a fruit determines one’s character.  Sour juice comes out of a lemon, while oranges release either sweet or sour juice from within.  I don’t know about you, but I would prefer using the color analogy less I be asked what type of “fruit” I am one day.

What are your true colors?

Matthew 5:14-16 teaches…
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Each of us is called to radiate the light of Jesus to the world.  But like the moon, we are NOT luminous and so we do not produce our own light.  Instead, we merely reflect the light that the Sun (Jesus, the Son) radiates.(http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_the_moon_a_luminous_object#ixzz1RONIeO58)

In her teaching series “What the devil doesn’t want you to know”, Joyce Meyer stresses that many of us Christians are passive.  Many believe that going to Church once a week is sufficient to keep us on the right track and for God to protect us.  And yet, do we expect to radiate the light of Jesus when we don’t spend ample time with Him?  And sadly, I wonder how many actually care to radiate His light?

The Father draws my thoughts to our solar powered garden lights that normally shine brightly during the summer nights.  Each light stand is equipped with a minute solar panel and a set of rechargeable batteries.  The concept behind the contraption is that as the solar panel is exposed to the sunlight, the batteries within are recharged.  I am often in awe and tickled pink when I notice that my garden lights continue to shine brightly even after an overcast day. However, as one overcast day leads to another, the batteries eventually run dry and my lighted path, which once shined so brightly, eventually grows dark as one lamp after another flickers off.  Do you notice that, like these solar garden light stands that are intended to illuminate the path, we similarly fail to shine when we don’t spend time and are recharged with and by the Father?  And like them, we no longer light “The Way” for others…

As we walk on our earthly journey with God, we realize that He doesn’t put road blocks across our path, preventing us from venturing into foreign, rugged and dangerous terrain.  No matter how much He would prefer for us to go along another path, He gives us the free will to choose wherever we want to go.  Although we choose to walk away from His ways, as we later choose to reach out and take His hand, we begin to realize He has never left our side. Even when we fail to invite Him along our journey, He comes along and He stands to one side, watching and waiting for our invitation.  And yet the moment we ask, He does provide whatever we need to succeed in our journey.  It may NOT be exactly what we want and what we THINK we need, but it is the very thing we need to succeed.  It may take a while for us to accept what He has provided and to figure out how to use what He has provided, but as we continue on together, we begin to learn and know His ways and experience teaches us that He is forever faithful.  We begin to realize that He does in fact want us to truly be happy as we experience the freedom He provides.

And yet, time and time again, we fall and even if it is He who helps us back up, at times we choose to continue on our journey without Him.  Without realizing it, we begin to start a collection of the “cares of the world” and eventually our joy is lost and we find ourselves sinking quickly into the quick sand of the ways of the world.  We find ourselves running to Him in OUR time, asking for a favour when we realize we can’t do things on our own.  But in general, we ignore Him and we consciously choose to keep Him in a sealed box, allowing Him out only when we find that we need another favour.

Joyce Meyer teaches that it is important to understand that the devil, our ENEMY, wants to “steal, kill and destroy” John 10:10.  Joyce teaches that being ignorant of the schemes of the devil does not protect us from them.  Instead, we fall, time and time again as he cleverly manipulates our thoughts, planting one scheming thought after another, perhaps luring us by saying… ”Come on, just try it one time.   It’s not going to hurt you and doing it once won’t do much harm.”  But when we take the bait, immediately we “hear”… ”You fool!  Don’t you know any better?  What are others going to think of you now?  You really blew it this time!”  Do you recognize any of these thoughts?  Perhaps no one has previously mentioned that these are the very accusing words of the devil.  Scripture refers to him as the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev 12:10) and his battlefield is in our minds!

Joyce teaches that Jesus came to planet Earth to give us freedom and to give us the chance to live in the world God has created for us to the FULL.  Many do NOT realize and/or forget that this is what the Father wants for us.  HOWEVER, the devil wants to take, take and take some more.  He wants to deprive us of every thing Jesus has provided for us as our heritage as God’s children.  She adds that it is through our faith that we have gained our freedom, but many of us misuse our faith to gain whatever we want for ourselves.  She exclaims exasperatedly…”It’s always my this, my that… it’s my ministry, it’s my book…”.  And then she adds, “God didn’t give us our faith just for ourselves so that we could be set free and experience freedom by ourselves.  He gave us the faith so that we, in turn, can share the faith with others so that they, too, can enjoy the freedom we are experiencing!!!

The Father brings my thoughts back to the solar paneled garden lights.  He reminds me that I had bought a handful of them that automatically change colors on their own.  ($2.99 at Walmart!  NANCY, good price huh!?!  Pennie, “nod nod”??? )  The lights alternate from red to blue to green and back again.  I am not exactly sure how it works, but there must be a coloured disk within the gadget that rotates in front of the main “white” light.  I have learned that a simple flick of the switch brings back the pure white light.  Is it time to flick the switch in our own hearts so that we reflect the purest light of all?

God bless,

Melissa (July 8, 2011)

P.S.

Luke 11:34 – 36 teaches…
”Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

The Ignatian Catholic Study Bible expands…”In this context, Jesus is calling for an examination of the interior of our lives.  Unless one is filled with light, which shines out through healthy eyes in the form of generosity, one cannot be a lamp enabling others to see and enter the kingdom.  To be filled with darkness and beset with an evil eye of greed and selfishness is to stand outside of the kingdom and to leave others in the darkness as well.  This emphasis on what is inside a person is closely connected with the following episode, where Jesus chides the Pharisees and the lawyers for their preoccupation with the exterior practices of religion and their neglect of interior holiness.  That they appear outwardly devout to others when in fact they are inwardly filled with corruption and impurity makes them guilt of “hypocrisy”.”

REFLECTION in the Garden: A thorn in the flesh…

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Have you experienced the pain of a splinter lately?  I have, especially while I tend to the Father’s garden.  Every so often, as I clear weeds and debris from the garden beds, I find myself grimacing in pain as I suddenly feel something wedged beneath my skin.  A quick glimpse over the area from where the pain radiates from doesn’t immediately reveal the source, but often times, a “microscopic” search eventually reveals something.  With either a hand a foot away from my eyes or a hand inches away from my eyeballs as I peer over my glasses, I look and, if need be, I probe, gingerly poking my fingers or hand to see if I’d flinch once more.  My preference would be to find the thorn, sooner than later, so no time is wasted in search for it and I can continue on with my garden toil. And yet, there are times when the search is in vain and I am left at the cross road to determine whether the pain is too unbearable to go on without further aid or I continue on, grimacing every so often, when outside pressure pushes the thorn a little further in.

Doesn’t our Father heal our bodies so “amazingly”.  Without any help on our part, He ensures that our cells regenerate themselves and with time  (if the thorn is small enough), this miniscule thorn under our flesh is pushed out naturally.  However, while the thorn remains in our body, something incredible happens.  Without our being aware of it, the body’s immune system begins to work.  Defensive cells immediately come and they surround the “intruder”, forming a barrier like bubble around it, isolating and incubating it so that the rest of the body does not get infected.

As we reflected and as we talked about a few minor trials (“thorns”) which He has permitted my way earlier this morning, our Father gently reminded me about the thorn in Paul’s flesh…

“…Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 2 Cor 12:7-10

Paul had prayed three times to have the thorn removed, but the Father saw a bigger purpose for the thorn in his flesh and He chose to leave it there.  I am almost sure Paul prayed more than three times to have the thorn removed, but as he continued to talk it over with the Father, I am under the impression that he began to understand why the thorn was left in.  Although our body’s immediate response is to eliminate the source of pain (like the pain and agony of exercising…right, Pennie??? Wink, blink, wink…), there are times when the pain is just the side effect of the exercise needed to strengthen our being (core muscles…sigh, more exercise!).

Just as the Father has created our bodies so perfectly that it immediately protects itself when a foreign matter intrudes, the Father reminded me that His angels are like the defensive cells that stand on guard around us when we are in trouble.  His Holy Spirit builds a hedge around us, protecting us from any further harm, and He Himself provides all the grace, strength, hope, faith, love and direction (YES! He gives really good directions too!) needed to win victoriously. God is so….good!

At the moment, the Father is saying…”NOT by (your) power, nor by (your) might, BUT by MY SPIRIT…”  And then He adds, “And I will give you rest. Take up My Yoke and learn from Me. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Yes, yes, YES!!!!!  It’s not my problem Lord, it’s YOUR problem!  Thank YOU!

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – Pennie?!?  Boing, boing, BOooInG!!!!!!

p.s.s. – I would encourage ALL to memorize Scripture so the Father can teach you through His Words of Life.