Archive for July, 2014

REFLECTION: The anger and the compassion of God…

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

 

Sodom and Gomorrah?  Have you heard of these two famous cities?  In the olden days, they were located in the lush valley of Jordan which was “well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord.”  Genesis 12:10  Lot, the nephew of Abraham, lived in Sodom.  Unfortunately, “.. the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”  Genesis 13:13

One day, God said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.  I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Genesis 18:20-21

 “Then the (2 angels disguised as) men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord.”   Knowing the angels were on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth ]deal justly?” So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” Genesis 18:22-26

Undoubtedly, Abraham personally knew God’s mercy.  Lot, his nephew, and his family lived in Sodom.  He knew that if he pled with Him, God would reconsider.  He continued… “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Genesis 18:27-28

Abraham’s  intercession continued by gradual, cautious decrements until finally, he said “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.” Genesis 18:32

When the appropriate time arrived, “the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”  Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.  Genesis 19:12-14

Imagine that, two, whose lives could have been spared, chose to remain in Sodom because they thought Lot was jesting or, could there have possibly been a lack of faith?

“ When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.”  But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.  When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life!  Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”  But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords!   Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your loving kindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;  now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small.  Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.”  He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.  Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.  Genesis 19:15-22

Wonder why Lot hesitated?  I do.  The men had told him they were going to destroy the place and yet he lingered?  I would have grabbed my family’s hands and ran like crazy.  I wonder if his faith was a little shaky as well?

Notice how the men took Lot and his family by the hand and they took them outside the city.  God respects our free will, but I believe that out of His mercy, there are times when He allows His angels to give us a push forward.  Nevertheless, the final choice remains ours.

I wonder if Lot was on the heavy side or if he was unwell.  He appeared unwilling or unable to make the trek to the mountains.   And so, he pleads for another alternative and the angels agree.  I am reminded of doing the same, pleading for an alternate route and for more of God’s extra-ordinary graces and mercy when I feel His directions are too big for me.  There are times when God seems to give me a break; but more often than not, He stands firm, knowing that if I am willing to go through the path He has chosen for me, with His grace, I would come out stronger.

The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace.  Genesis 19:23-28

The end speaks loud and clear…  eventually, in spite of His continued mercies and grace, some will choose to carry  on in their own wayward path and God’s patience finally wears off.

God bless,

Melissa – July 31, 2014

p.s. – for those who are interested in the full account of “The Doom of Sodom”

Genesis 19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and [a]bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people [b]from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may[c]have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not [d]had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them [e]whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the [f]shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in [g]as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against [h]Lot and came near to break the door. 10 But the men reached out their[i]hands and brought Lot into the house [j]with them, and shut the door. 11 They [k]struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.

12 Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who [l]were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law [m]to be jesting.

15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the [n]punishment of the city.” 16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the[o]hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. 17 When they had brought them outside,[p]one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay [q]anywhere in the valley; escape to the [r]mountains, or you will be swept away.” 18 But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! 19 Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your loving kindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the [s]mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; 20 now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) [t]that my life may be saved.” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this [u]request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.22 Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called [v]Zoar.

23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the [w]valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the [x]valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a [y]furnace.

29 Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the [z]valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

REFLECTION: God’s Feelings

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

More often than not, God speaks to me through the scripture reading which another quotes from the Bible.  Last Saturday, many of us gathered at St. Mary’s Parish for Adoration and to worship and to praise God.  Roy, the master of ceremonies, quoted from Hosea 10:11-12.  That particular reading didn’t speak  to me then, but I thought it would be good to reflect on it the following day.

Once again, that particular scripture didn’t speak to me, but I continued reading until something “spoke”.  I began in Chapter 10 on verses 11 and 12, but by the time I reached Chapter 11, my pen was out and I had begun to underline one sentence after another.   To my surprise, I kept on until Chapter 14!

Have you ever wondered how God feels?  Read on.

When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called My son out of Egypt.   The more [the prophets] called to them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to the graven images.  Yet I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms or taking them up in My arms, but they did not know that I healed them.   I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love, and I was to them as one who lifts up and eases the yoke over their cheeks, and I bent down to them and gently laid food before them.

They shall not [literally] return into [another bondage in] the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be their king because they refused to return to Me.  And the sword shall rage against and fall upon their cities and shall consume the bars of their gates and shall make an end [of their defenses], because of their own counsels and devices.

My people are bent on backsliding from Me; though [the prophets] call them to Him Who is on high, none at all will exalt Him or lift himself up [to come to Him].

How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I surrender you and cast you off, O Israel!  How can I make you as Admah or how can I treat you as Zeboiim [both destroyed with Sodom]!

My heart recoils within Me; My compassions are kindled together.  I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not bring back Ephraim to nothing or again destroy him.  For I am God and not man, the Holy One in the midst of you, and I will not come in wrath or enter into the city.   Hosea 11:1-9 Amp

But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt.  You shall acknowledge no God but me,  no Savior except me.  I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat.  When I fed them, they were satisfied;  when they were satisfied, they became proud;  then they forgot me.   Hosea 13:4-6 Amp

Notice anything?  Although they are chapters apart, the two Scripture readings flow into each other.  Notice anything else?  God’s love for His people is immense and oh so extensive.

The individuals mentioned in the passage are the descendants of Abraham.  Israel, originally named Jacob by his parents, was Abraham’s grandson.  He was the second son born to Isaac. Isaac, the son miraculously born to Abraham and Sarah in their senior years; the very same son Abraham was willing to sacrifice when God put him to the test.  Ephraim is Jacob’s grandson.  He was the son of Joseph, the youngest of 12 brothers who was thrown into a dry well and then sold into slavery in Egypt.

Did you notice God’s relationship with them?  He loved Israel in his youth and took him out of Egypt (slavery to sin); it was He who taught Israel’s grandson to walk (in faith)!   From one generation to the next (5 generations), He was with them.  He took them into His arms; He healed them; He led them and loved them; He lifted the yoke (bondages) from their mouths and He fed them.  How much more intimate could He get?  And yet, the more He called (through the prophets), the more they turned their backs on Him.  They continued to turn to and worship other gods.  Although they were taught to worship the “One on high”, no one exalted Him.

As you read, some may have become frustrated and exasperated by the lack of gratitude and callousness of God’s children.  Unfortunately and sadly, not only does the story recount the lives of Abrahams’ descendants, but it tells our story as well.  Did you turn your back on God during your adolescent and/or early adult years?  Have your children and grandchildren done likewise?  We quickly forget the blessings we have been given, often times assuming God’s obligation to send them our way, but instead, we focus on our trials and how God appears to have failed us.

Did He really fail us?  How could He, if we’ve barely known Him all these years?  We may know His name and know of Him through the teaching of others, and yet, can we say we know him… personally?

God clearly recognized something.  He said, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”  Sound familiar?  Notice how we turn and plead with God when we need something, but not long after, we forget what He has done and we go off our worldly way until the next time a desperate need arises?

God finally expresses His anger, but very quickly, He realizes… “My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.  I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again.”  His gentleness… His mercy… His love rises far above His anger.  He exclaims,For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.  They will walk after the Lord, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west.  They will come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the Lord.” Hosea 11:8-11 Amp

Time after time, God’s mercy triumphs over His judgement and yet, sadly, He notices… “Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is also unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.” Hosea 11:12 Amp

Our God is a God of second chances.  Through generations, multitudes have turned their backs on Him, and yet He repeatedly gives us chance after chance.  Have you wondered why?

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:8-9

God bless,

Melissa – July 29, 2014

REFLECTION: Dry bones…

Monday, July 14th, 2014

 

Dry bones… dry, dry bones.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read these words?  My thoughts rest on a sun bleached bovine skull and its sun baked bones in a scorching desert.

Ezekiel, an Old Testament Prophet, had a vision.  He wrote, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones.  And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and behold, they were very dry.”    God asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  God then tells him, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  Thus says the Lord God to these bones:  Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  Ezekiel obeys and as he prophesies to these bones, he hears rattling sounds.  As he opens his eyes hesitantly and peers through half-shut lids, he sees the bones coming together!  Now, looking on with excitement, he notices that sinews and flesh have come on them and skin now covers them!  God then asks Ezekiel to “prophesy to the spirit” and “the spirit comes into them, and they live and stand upon their feet.” God then says, “Son of man, these bones are the bones of the whole of Israel.  Behold, they say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost.” Ezekiel 37: 1-11

Was there a time when you felt so beaten, every ounce of your spirit sucked up and your bones had become oh so dry?  In his first chapter of “Waking the Dead”, author John Eldredge writes…   ”Twenty clear days a year – that sounds about like my life.  I think I see what’s really going on about that often.  The rest of the time it feels like fog.”  “Why have things gone the way they have?  Where was God in all that? “  “Oh, I’d love to wake each morning knowing exactly who I am and where God is taking me.” “ It’s awesome when I do see.  But for most of us, life seems more like driving along with a dirty windshield and then turning into the sun.  I can sort of make out the shapes ahead, and I think the light is green.” Footnote 1

“Let’s start with why life is so dang hard.” “ Yes, we have our faith.  But even there – maybe especially there – it all seems to fall rather short of the promise.  There’s talk of freedom and abundant life, of peace like a river and joy unspeakable, but we see precious little of it, to be honest.”  Footnote 1

Can you relate to that?  Many barely make it, merely surviving one moment at a time!  “We are losing – or we have already lost – heart.  That glorious, resilient image of God in us is fading, fading, fading away.” Footnote 2

What has happened?  Didn’t Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”?  John 14:6 Jesus said that He would show us the way to life, but why are many Christians living miserable lives?  Jesus didn’t come down from Heaven to endure unbearable torment so we would continue to live miserably here on earth, only to live happily in Heaven… after we die.  During his Lenten mission earlier this year, Fr. Emmerich said, “Every Christian’s resurrection takes place HERE (earth) and not in Heaven.  Do you get that?  DO YOU GET THAT?  I wonder how many really do?

During the latter part of Lent, one of the Old Testament Scripture reading was “…You shall know that I am Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people…  I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU AND YOU SHALL LIVE … then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord.”  Ezekiel 37:13-14   This, in fact, is the tail end of Ezekiel’s vision.

Our graves are opened, God has given us the power to rise from our graves, but have we gotten up?  Barely!  Even before we are able to get out of bed, we are already bombarded.  Thoughts of fear, anger, and retaliation fill our minds and even before the bed covers are thrown off our bodies, we are already exhausted and beaten.

Victim.  Recognize that word?  I didn’t realize I had identified with that “name” for the longest while until I heard one of Neale Lazano’s CD.  He said, “You are NOT a victim.  That is NOT your name.”  That was definitely not my name, but I had identified with it for such a long, long time.  Unknowingly, I had accepted that title in my younger years and I had identified with it and lived accordingly.

Was I unwittingly lured to it?  Yes.  My undiagnosed Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity in my childhood years had made me uncontrollable and the excessive discipline I received because of it shaped my thoughts. The inability to comprehend and the many hours left alone to lick my wounds created the perfect scenario.  The devil flung multiple lies my way, telling me there was nothing in me that deserved being loved; my behaviour would always be unacceptable and I deserved to be punished repeatedly…  These were lies but no one was around to tell me otherwise and so, as the thoughts came, I accepted them as my truth.

But it doesn’t happen only to the young.  Many teens and adults go through incomprehensible agonies.  An unwelcomed incident happens within the family circle.  Already too pre-occupied with their individual busy schedules, the couple angrily battle each other and/or their children.  Their inability to communicate healthily and effectively lead to more unresolved grievances and unmet needs.   They accumulate and accumulate… unresolved, deeply buried, often forgotten.  Although hidden, the  potency of each pain is still as strong as when it was first experienced and they leak and seep up to the surface, often summoned by similar experiences.  Had they been dealt with when they first occurred, they would have been easier to handle, but now, they’ve accumulated and amalgamated with many others.  Now they have become too strong.  The teens and even their parents can’t figure it out.  The incidents happened so long ago and now, there are too many of them.  Unable to identify and alleviate the cause of their pain, they attempt to run away, but running doesn’t help.  Their very being follows wherever they go… they cannot detach.  Eventually, alcohol and drugs come into the picture in attempt to numb the pain and perhaps bring about a momentary bliss.  While the physical torment goes on, the adversaries of the evil one have kept busy, invisibly dropping one lie after another.  Weakened and isolated, the individual accepts each lie until all hope is gone and he/she is no longer able to rise, even from an opened grave.

John Eldredge continues, “WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE?  Good grief – life is brutal.  Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven’t the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us ARE happening to us.”  Elridge clearly spells it out…  “WE ARE AT WAR”.  At war?  “No we’re not!  We’re not living in a war torn country.” one might argue.  But what many fail to grasp is that our battle is not of this world!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

“Hogwash!” one might say.   Really?  That’s what the devil and his adversaries would like everyone to think.  The less we are aware that the battle is taking place, the less we will be on defense.

Had our opponents been visible, would our fight be more active or would we merely cowl in corners, flailing our arms in attempt to protect ourselves?  On September 11th, the “enemy” was visible.  They came in hijacked planes with hundreds of loved ones subjected to their merciless scheme.  But America was not prepared and hundreds upon hundreds of innocent lives perished.  The world of terrorism acknowledged their hand in the event and the world, fully aware of the threat they imposed, united against them.

But what if there was an invisible cloak?  What if the world of terrorism didn’t declare their involvement in the event?  Wouldn’t this be similar to the incident of the Malaysian flight that disappeared?  While the memory lasted, the world was left at a loss, wondering what they could do to prevent a future catastrophe.

These incidents happened en-masse, but the battle we are discussing takes place individually, in our own homes…  in our own lives… in our own minds.  No one is spared.  From the time a child is able to distinguish right from wrong, the attack begins.  More often than not, the attacks are cloaked because we don’t recognize them for what they are.  We often pass them off as our own horrid thoughts.  Many are tormented but we don’t know how to stop them.

We have been warned…  “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8  But how many have taken heed?  Not many.  What about you?   Not familiar with God’s Word?   Fail to make time to open your Bible and/or perhaps glazing over when Scripture is read during Mass?

We have been warned… ”my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”  Hosea 4:6

“…Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.  Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways.  The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked, no one who goes in them knows peace.  Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we look for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope for the wall like the blind, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigour we are like dead men.  We all growl like bears, we moan and moan like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.  For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us…” Isaiah 59: 6-11

Although the previous Scripture from Isaiah was written in 700 B.C., it accurately describes our worldly situation today.  What is going on?  “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness.  No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.”  Isaiah 49:1-4

But wasn’t that in the past before Jesus came to earth?  Aren’t we now at the time after the coming of Jesus Christ?  Isn’t the world filled with more Christians today?

Is it?

We have many who refer to themselves as Christians, but are they really?  Christianity is not merely a name, it is a lifestyle.  It is knowing and acknowledging that I am a sinner and realizing and believing that through the death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ, my sins are forgiven and I immediately become a child of God.  But there’s more!  It also means that by God’s grace, I am now given the POWER, through the Holy Spirit, to CHOOSE to turn away from my wicked ways and the power to CHOOSE to follow God’s way.

The power is given, but unfortunately, more often than not, the choice taken is away from God…

A majority of Catholics have been baptized into God’s family as infants.  Fr. Hampsh explains that we have been initiated into God’s family by the Sacrament of Baptism, but he clearly explains that it doesn’t and it cannot end there.  As we grow, our parents and Catechism teachers bring us to a greater understanding and love for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and eventually, we need to CHOOSE to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus.  It is a relationship with the meeting of two hearts.

Christianity is not blind faith; it is a living and growing relationship with the LIVING God.  No one can make that choice for us.  Many would like to and unfortunately, some have even attempted to force that choice on others, but it really is a free willed choice that each one has to make.

Have you been left behind along the way?  Many have.  It is evident by the fact that many Christians are barely living.  And yet Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10  Since the fall of Adam and Eve, the devil has continued to steal the joy of God’s children and apparently, he has been successful in killing and destroying so many lives.  But wait!  Jesus came down to planet Earth to bring God’s children back to Him.  Jesus clearly mentions that He came so that we would have life and within the same sentence, He clarifies that He is not talking about merely living like a bird imprisoned within a cage, but living an abundant life!

Before He returned to the Father in Heaven, Jesus told his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.  But why? He knew they needed the supernatural strength of the very One, the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead.  “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 “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.”  John 14:26

Many of us, who have been baptized as infants, don’t realize that as we were adopted into God’s family, we were simultaneously given the Holy Spirit to guide us and to empower us to live victoriously!  So what went wrong?  Let’s start with… How is your friendship with God?  Do you  really know God, or do you merely know of him?

When you finally meet Him at the gates of Heaven, how would you respond when God asks why you didn’t call on His name and take His hand during your times of turmoil, but instead, you blamed Him and cursed Him.  Convicted?  That’s all He wants of you.  He wants each of us to realize that we continue to fall and we truly need His help to battle the cunning adversary.  He wants us to realize that He has provided the ways of escape through His Word and He has given us the power through the Holy Spirit.

So how are we going to respond?  With another “ho-hum”?

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus down to planet earth to bridge us back to You.  Father, forgive us for our free-willed choice of dismissing and rejecting Your teachings and ways.  Father, open our spiritual eyes so we can see that You forgive when we ask for Your pardon and help us take an active part in our spiritual well-being.  Father, help us see that our eternal future depends on the choices we make.  And Lord, for those who have climbed the spiritual ladder, help each see that the temptations of the enemy becomes more subtle and that they are prone to spiritual pride.  We need You Lord and we ask that You will eventually bring us back Home to You when our time on earth is over.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 13, 2014

p.s.
– Aneel Aranha’s online teaching “The Armor of God”
(http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/aneelaranha/armorofgod/introduction.asp is also exceptional.  Do consider learning the ways to defeat the attacks of the devil in your life and in the lives of your loved ones.

The Parable of the Sower Explained (Matt 13:18-23)

“Hear then the parable of the sower.  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 

As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 

As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” 

– Lord, renew our mind in You and cultivate it so that Your Word will take root in our hearts and lives.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Footnotes:
1) page 5, Waking the Dead
2) page 22

REFLECTION: When time stood still…

Friday, July 11th, 2014

I would have missed it had a friend not sent an e-mail asking about the funeral Mass of Mama Ho this morning.  Mama Ho was the 88 year old mother of friends of mine.  We didn’t speak much, but we always greeted each other with a nod and a smile.  Although she didn’t understand English, she seemed to be a regular at many of our charismatic gatherings, clapping along as we worshipped and praised God in song.   As her granddaughter described her this morning, Mama Ho was like the shadow of her daughter, Cecilia.

The call to intercede for her health came on June 14 and on July 2nd, our Father took her Home.  She had cancer and during the most part, she wasn’t even aware she was sick.  In truth, her battle only lasted 18 days!  It was quick!  As we celebrated her Resurrection Mass, a terminology chosen by officiating Fr. Peter Chang, I thanked God for preventing her from suffering long and for also allowing her family their chance to bid her farewell.  Deep down within, I and I believe many others knew that God would protect her.  In fact, many of us were quite surprised that she had fallen ill.  It is a known fact that everyone would die, but I am not sure why the element of surprise was there.

I had returned home at 10:35 this morning and after realizing her Resurrection Mass was today, I had sped out of our home at 10:44.  As I dressed, I had thanked our Father for giving me a chance to catch at least a portion of her service and to pay Mama Ho my respects.  As I drove, my eye kept checking the clock on the car’s dashboard.   To my surprise, the clock seemed to have stuck on 10:47.  I was tempted to strike the clock as I asked, “Lord, did time stop?”  It seemed like a while before the digit finally changed to 8 and by that time, I was already parking at St. Stephen’s Parish!

As I shared this incident with a few others afterwards, Cecilia, another friend, commented that she, too, had told our Father the same thing earlier this morning as she headed for the Resurrection Service.   Time has never “stopped” for me before and I believe time has never “stopped” for Cecilia either.  I’m not sure what was going on, but somehow I sense God had a twinkle in His eyes as He ensured we got to the Church on time.

Fr. Peter mentioned that family and friends would experience sadness when Mama Ho’s presence was missed.  However, the joy  that radiated out of Alfred, Cecilia and Eliza as they attended St. Stephen’s Prayer Group the day after her passing cannot be overlooked.  Without a doubt, that joy is a true and living testimony of the great faith this family has in the living God.

Until we meet again Mama Ho.

God bless,

Melissa – July 10, 2014

 

 

REFLECTION: The mental torment

Monday, July 7th, 2014

My intent was to assist.   Instead, I caused harm.   I apologized immediately and sincerely when the error was brought to my attention and I asked our Father to correct the wrong.  “Father, I trust in You.  PLEASE cause all things to work together for good for the one I had wronged.”  I intended good and I sincerely wanted to help, but unfortunately, I lacked wisdom because I had failed to ask our Father for guidance.

But the torment continued.  Accusing thoughts began to bombard me and I wanted to run.  But where was I to run if my thoughts continued to follow me?  There was no way to disconnect from the accusing thoughts.  I ran to our Father and I asked what I was supposed to do.  I “ran” further as I drove to the Mall to do some errands and just as I entered the parkade , the big blow came.  “You have to pay.  You can’t get away by just saying you’re sorry!”

“Pay?  PAY?!?”  By then I realized, without a doubt, I was being tormented by a spirit.  It was time to do battle.  “Jesus paid the price for my sin.  He paid the price by dying on the cross once and for all.” I declared out loud.  “I rebuke you spirit of torment and all other spirits in Jesus’ name.”

My mind was quiet for a while as my mind was distracted by the sidewalk sale (shopping therapy?) but my emotional well-being was still shaken.  Having brought my laptop and Bible along for an intended quiet time, our Father prompted me to sit and write at the food court.  “Be still and know that I am God.” He reminded me.  Accusing thoughts came and went, but God’s grace prevented me from entertaining them further.  Then, out of the blue, an acquaintance came forward in the middle of the food court and asked, “You’re not sending me an e-mail, are you?”  “Not at the moment”, I replied.  He was receiving more than he could manage and so I asked if he wanted his name deleted from the mailing list.  His first reply was “yes” but he immediately added, “Send the odd one.”  I thanked him and we bade goodbye.  Then my mind began to roll… again.  “Lord, where did that come from?  Are you telling me to stop transcribing, writing and sending e-mail?”  Condemning thoughts came and doubts began to rise once again.

This time, our Father prompted me quickly to my intended destination, one of the “golden arches”, where we normally spend our time together.  He reminded me of the book I had brought along and I sensed Him say, “Read.   Just read and learn.”  I opened the book and these words immediately caught my attention, “Naturally the good people are the Devil’s first target.  They often find themselves in temptations which confront them when they least expected.”.  Comfort and understanding came with that and as I then reached for my Bible, a random slip of paper tucked within caught my eye.  It was the prayer for putting on the full armour of God!   And so I prayed…

“I will be strong in the Lord and, in the strength of his might, I put on the full armour of God, that I may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil; for my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, I take up the full armour of God that I may be able to resist evil (personal sin and the attack of the enemy) and, having done everything, to STAND FIRM.  I gird my loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, and shod my feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.  In addition to all, I take the shield of faith, with which I will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.  I take the helmet of salvation and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, with all prayer and petition.  I will pray at all times in the Spirit, I pray that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth to make known the boldness the mystery of the Gospel.  In the name of Jesus Christ I pray.”

Several days have passed since this event and I continue to reflect on what had happened.  I’ve never experienced an attack this strong!  A brief chat with an older and wiser friend (Lennie David) disclosed the torment she endures when she prepares conferences and seminars for our Lord.  She then reminded me of the great need to pray for our Priests and for others doing our Father’s work.

Hosea 4:5-7 comes to mind.  “You shall stumble by day, the prophet also shall stumble with you by night…  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge…”  In his teachings, Fr. John Hampsh has repeatedly warned his listeners to be prepared for the times of tribulation.  In truth, I was not prepared for this attack.  I repeatedly stumbled and I ran, I failed to stand firm.  I had learned a lot from Fr. Hampsh’s teachings, but they remained head knowledge.  Perhaps God had allowed this trial to come my way to test if I was ready.  Are you?

God bless,

Melissa – July 7, 2014

p.s. – Thought you should know that God is faithful and He has provided for the individual I was attempting to assist.  Thank YOU Lord!