Archive for October, 2011

REFLECTION: Reap what you sow…

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Have you wondered whether you’ve been given a bad hand in life?  Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind one time or another when multiple events fail to go your way and you seem to be “swimming” upstream on a constant basis.  When our lives begin to fall apart, I wonder how many of us immediately blame others, life in general and/or God rather than engage in reflection, discerning whether we have contributed to our problems.

Have you noticed that the sayings “What goes around, comes around.” and “You reap what you sow” indicate a direct correlation between what we say, do and think with what we receive in life?  Although we may not want to admit it, whatever we engage in and how we treat others will eventually have an effect on us.

How many of us ponder over how we treat others?  Many focus on the alternate, where we examine how others treat us, but much can be gained when we examine how we treat others.

Colossians 3:5-9 teaches…”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…  In these you once walked, when you lived in them…  But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another…”

Why are we encouraged to stay away from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness”?  Why are we taught to put away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying”?  Does St. Paul, the author, have anything to gain by keeping us away from these?  Likewise, did God give us the 10 Commandments so that He could have more for Himself ?  Were the 10 Commandments given to prevent man from having fun?  My answer to all these is “no”.  Does keeping one’s distance from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness” take away from the “enjoyment” in anyone’s life?  Perhaps temporarily, as the momentary blissful high takes place.  But what happens afterwards when the “high” fades and reality sets in?  Are the consequential costs of guilt, self-loath and confusion worth it?  As one awakens to reality and realizes what he/she had engaged in, how does the individual treat those around him/her?  Do “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying” not come into play?  So why did God give man the 10 Commandments?  Is it not to prevent man from harming himself and those he loves?

Colossians 3:12 – 16 continues with…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And over all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in wisdom… And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Isn’t it interesting that St. Paul has chosen to use the verb to “put on” as he encourages us to embrace these positive traits?  I asked the Father “Why?” and I sensed Him answer “Free will.”.  These traits don’t readily fall upon us, but we are given the grace to “pick them up and put them on”.  They are characteristics which we are given the choice to wear and apply EVEN when everything else around us is falling apart.  Just as when we put on fresh, clean clothes when we are cut and bruised, the process may be difficult and can be painful, but the end result does us good.

St. Paul also encourages us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly”.  Why? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul explains that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So…  how has life been treating you?  May we all reap the good which we have sown.

God bless,

Melissa – October 18, 2011

REFLECTION: Who’s praying?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

 


Over the years, I’ve been touched by the verse “we have not stopped praying for you.” I am always comforted knowing that someone out there has lifted me up in prayer and many times, I even sense their answered prayer because my day goes more smoothly than normal.  One day, however, when my eyes came across Colossians 1:9, I asked the Father, “Who’s praying Lord?!?  If Paul, the author of this book had died thousands of years ago, who’s been praying?

At the opening of Mass, we recite the Penitential Rites and say…”I askyou, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.”  Do you remember saying that or have you mumbled through it without realizing and/or recognizing what you’ve just said?  Sadly, I’ve been there and I’ve done the latter.  We ask the rest of the congregation to pray for us and they, in turn, ask us to pray for them, but has anyone started praying?  I sure hope so.  I have since become attentive to praying for others in general and have made an effort to pray for the faith walk of each and every individual.  I am praying many others will do the same.

But why should we pray?  Doesn’t God know all of our needs?  He doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do.  In truth, God doesn’t need any reminders nor does He need any of our assistance.  God wants to know us, but more importantly, He wants us to know Him.  He already knows everything about us because He created us, but as we converse with Him, we begin to know Him and we begin to realize the depth of His love for us.  His love is unlike any other human; it is deep and ever so intimate and faithful. As He walks with us, He provides the strength, the grace, and the wisdom we need to live victoriously.  Although He allows us to live through the consequences of our errors and we have to endure and live through the free will choices of others, He is with us wherever we go and in the midst of turmoil, He anoints us with a peace and joy the world cannot give.  Our Father desires our deep and intimate relationship with Him… just as Adam and Eve had with Him before their fall.  HOWEVER, rather than forcing Himself on us, God has given us freedom to exercise His gift of free will and so He patiently waits for us and for others to invite Him into our lives.

Our Father continues to remind me… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 We do need to realize that the devil is ever so present on planet earth.  If given liberty, he would annihilate us completely so that no one can return back to the Father’s heart.  He rejected the Father and he and his followers were kicked out of Heaven.  (Footnote 1) If he had it his way, he would like the very same for all of mankind.  And yet, Jesus came so that we may have life, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.

While here on earth, Jesus taught… “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debtsas we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-14

What does it mean when we say “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”?  I believe that as we pray these words sincerely in our hearts, we are inviting our Father back into our lives and into the lives of those in this world.  Free will prevents God and his angels from intervening in our lives, but as we pray to Him for ourselves and others, He opens the doors of Heaven to equip us to battle the schemes of the devil.  The devil and his adversaries are extremely sly and as he did with Eve in the garden of Eden, he will appeal to our senses and our desires, making the sin appear so alluring and beautiful, but hiding the consequences that come with it.

Let’s take a look at how Eve was tempted…“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate….and she also gave some to her husband and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 Notice how readily Adam took and ate the fruit?  Without realizing it, the devil uses us to entice others to participate in the sin we are engaging in.  Scary isn’t it?

Before His death, Jesus prayed for his disciples and the whole Church…”Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours…  And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truthI do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:1-26

Dear Father, we come before You and we ask You to forgive us for all the wrong we have done.  We also ask You to give us the grace to forgive all those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  Father, there may be some who have hurt us to the extreme that it is so difficult to forgive.  But Lord, with Your grace, we choose to forgive all who have hurt us.  Bless them Lord.  Father we pray for all the others in this world.  We ask for your blessings and grace over each.  Father, help those who are struggling and we ask for Your healing touch.  Father, please give each of us the strength to stay away from the circumstances and from those which/who would cause us to fall.  And Lord, when we are tempted, help us to remember that “you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but you provide a way of escape also.” (Footnote 2) Father, help us see that we can readily say “NO!” to the lies and the temptations that the devil plants into our minds.  Thank You for the victories that have already begun in our lives and in the lives of others and we ask You to unite Your people in You.  We pray for all these in Jesus’ powerful and healing name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa (October 9, 2011)

 

FOOTNOTE 1:
(http://www.exposingsatanism.org/satans_origin.htm)

 

Ezekiel 28:12-17 Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; You walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian, cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

 

Isaiah 14: 12-15 – How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawnYou have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

 

Revelations 20:1-3  – “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.”

 

FOOTNOTE 2:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

REFLECTION: Back to basics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

Last weekend and several days after, I had the privilege to attend several retreats given by a team from Sri Lanka.  Although I had attended their main retreat a year before, the live refresher course was such a blessing for me.  Perhaps that was the reason why I was surprised when I read a survey comment that the speaker’s content was “too basic”.

“Too basic.”  I wonder why the writer felt that way?  Two days have past since my eyes came across that comment and yet it continues to bother me.  To me, the content of the retreat was just right because we often forget where we’ve come from.  Often times, we learn so much and we cram so much into our minds that we become top heavy.  Unfortunately, our focus on seeking for more head knowledge prevents us from finding the time to exercise our core (our heart); failing to implement what we have learned and failing to choose to live them in our daily lives.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour.  Never flag zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.” This is only a small portion of the scripture from Romans 12:9-13 which identifies the “marks of a TRUE Christian”, and yet I find myself already stumbling with some.  Without the reminder of such attributes, I believe I would be the first to drift off course.  Romans 9:14-21 continues with “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.  Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

As I sit and reflect, I mention to the Father that the attributes above are a TALL order.  It would be difficult for me to live them all out, let alone remember them!  He then gently reminds me, “Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” (Zech 4:6)  He also reminds me that as He and I meet daily, these attributes will come naturally and without effort.  I smile my BIG SMILE and sigh.  “Thank you Lord.”, knowing that He always provides a way.

Our walk as Christians isn’t a piece of cake.  In fact, it is counter cultural since we often are called to do things differently from the world.  It becomes mind boggling and impossible if we try to accomplish it by ourselves, but our Father reminds “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and ALL these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt 6:33)

But how do we seek Him if we don’t know Him?  Lalith Perera teaches 4 basic steps.  The first is to “COME AS YOU ARE, I LOVE YOU.” Many are afraid to come to God because they think they have to clean up their act before He is willing to meet them.  No matter what state we are in, be it in pain or rejection, in fear and in abandonment, God calls us to come.  He calls out “Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)  He doesn’t need anything from us except for our desire to spend a few moments with Him and our desire to converse with Him.  You see, it was God who gave us our free will.  He is continuously seeking us, but He doesn’t force.  He waits, patiently; waiting for us to realize that He IS always here beside us..

The second step is “GIVE THE TRUTH OF YOUR HEART TO JESUS.”.  Why do we need to do this?  I believe that unless we face our reality and acknowledge our shortcomings, God will not change us.  He knows exactly what we need and He, alone, has the power to change us.  However, it is only in recognizing and acknowledging our shortfalls that we express our desire to change and we finally ask for His help.

The third step is “SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO THE LORD.”. Many are afraid to surrender their lives to God because they equate it to losing complete control of their lives.  And yet, for those who have said “Jesus, I offer you my life.  I ask you to take control of everything I do and think.”, they begin to realize that their gains outweigh their losses.  As we surrender our ways and our desires to God, He supernaturally transforms us in HIS time.  Our desires to engage in negative behaviours / addictions which have shackled us for all these years are finally broken; the anger and the unforgiveness that we’ve held on to so “righteously” finally dissipate; the pain and the victim syndrome which we’ve often drowned ourselves in are finally lifted.  Why?  Because we finally realize that we don’t have to carry all these burdens and we can surrender them to God.  Once again, God calls to us and says… 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

The fourth step is “BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.”.  No matter how hard we try, we can never accomplish supernatural feats without receiving the strength of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says “Not by (your own) power, nor by (your own might), but by MY spirit (the Holy Spirit) says the Lord.”. (Zech 4:6) Lalith stresses that all other faith walks teach us to do good, but none other gives us the strength to do good.  As we surrender ourselves to God and as we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, we are supernaturally transformed and we are given the grace, strength and the desire to do good.  How do we know that we are filled with the Holy Spirit?  “Love, joy and peace” and all the other fruit of the Holy Spirit become evident in our lives. (Galatians 5:12)  Lalith mentions that the moment “love, joy and peace” disappears, something is wrong.

Becoming a Christian is not a once in a life time decision.  Because we are human and because we live in a world where “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), waiting to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10), we need to recommit ourselves to God on a daily basis.  Lalith Perera teaches, when you wake, turn to Jesus.  Tell Him, “Lord, I come as I am.”  Reconcile with Jesus.  Surrender yourself to Him and give Him permission to fill your life.  Ask Him to fill you with his love, joy and peace.  Read about God’s love in his living Bible.  Lalith refers to these readings as “life tablets”.  He mentions that the “tablet” cannot be swallowed, but it has to be sucked slowly as you meditate on them.

Are you ready to return back to the basics?  May our Father bless you with that desire.

God bless,

Melissa (October 5, 2011)

p.s. – Please click onto the following http://crlmain.org/to
learn more about Lalith Perera and the Community of the Risen Lord.