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REFLECTION: The bleeding vase…

Friday, August 15th, 2014

 

In his book, The Leader of Faith, Fr. Elias Vella recounts the vision a lady had of a bleeding vase.  She asks Jesus what it signified and He explains that the beautiful sculptured glass was her.  Her beauty was the many charisms He gifted her with.  There was a time when her vase was full…of Him.  She often came to pray; she visited Him in the Eucharist; she opened her Bible regularly to discern His will…filling her very being with Him.  People began to recognize Jesus living in her and so they came to consult with her and to have her pray with them.  She gave freely and liberally.  Many more came and she began to get involved with more and more.  Her prayer time dwindled, her Bible began to accumulate dust… she no longer had time to discern nor to consult with God.  People continued to come and she gave, but her vase was no longer full and so she gave herself.  She began to give them pieces of the glass as she taught them her experiences… teaching them her theological instructions.  She gave them her all, but it was devoid of God.  As she gave the people pieces of glass, she began to hurt them and those were the drops of blood on the broken vase.

Grim!  Recognize yourself in this story?  I hope not.  I sense a sneering smile here, not on God’s part, but that of the devil.  This is one of the evil one’s schemes.  If he can’t stop us from doing God’s work, he’ll attempt to get us involved with too much of God’s work so that we ourselves fall, causing others to fall.

Do you remember when trials came your way?  Where did you go?  More often than not, many moved further away from God. Many sought the counsel of self-made gurus; others, the ways of the world, attempting to self-medicate by dipping into food, alcohol, street drugs and perhaps, even pornography.  Undoubtedly they worked for a while, but eventually the voice of emptiness began again, calling hoarsely, beckoning for a drop of life.

The pain begins… again… first as an irritation but then it grows exponentially and we start clawing at ourselves… and later at those closest to us.   How do I know?  I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

Many of us eventually run to Jesus as a last resort!  Why?  Because nothing else worked and He was and is the only One who can and who is able to do something for our best interest, not temporarily, but for eternity.

Ask anyone whose life has been touched by the Living God.  Let them tell you about their brokenness and how they’ve searched and how they realized it was only God who was able to rebuild and transform their lives.  Let them tell you how they’ve realized that they need Him every moment, not because they are weaklings, but because He has become their strength.

Have they become zombies?  Definitely not!  They continue to have free will, and periodically, they turn away from His ways, but not long after, they return because they realize that His ways are better than their ways…  allowing  God to draw straight from their crooked lives.

Is it enough to let God touch your life once?  Definitely not!  We need to continue to journey with Him, leaning and learning on and from Him, asking for His wisdom, discernment, mercy and love as we manoeuvre through the trials of life.  If not, His light, which once flickered brightly in us fades, unable to bring light to the world that needs Him, but also to bring light into our own being.

“Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine: so as to shine as to be a light to others.  The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. None of it will be mine.  It will be You who shines through me upon others.  O let me thus praise You, in the way which You love best, by shining on all those around me.  Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me.  Teach me to show forth Your praise, Your truth, Your will.  Make me preach You without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to Your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to You.”  (Prayer for Holiness from Newman’s Meditations and Devotions)

God bless,

Melissa – August 15, 2014

p.s. -
Revelation 2:2-5; 7 (NASB)

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first loveTherefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent; To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

REFLECTION: Sifting through the past… (a glimpse into depression)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Last Sunday, a friend called to ask me to speak to her relative whose life had been over taken by an unwelcomed guest.  DEPRESSION  had barged in and intruded into this one’s life.  It was obvious depression was not welcome, but depression didn’t care.  It has a mind of its own and it settles itself down as if it reigns.  If the individual is aware of what can be done, he/ she would realize that brisk walks and exercise would make the “household” uncomfortable, jostling depression enough times so that hopefully, it would be convinced to move on quickly.  Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, because when depression arrives, extreme darkness and heaviness comes quickly, hovering over the individual… lingering just as a cartoon character with a threatening, dark rain cloud over his/her head.

Lightning flashes as the roller coaster ride of anxiety begins and the rumbling thunder accompanies the rider, shaking and draining whatever composure, pride and dignity the individual had until only fear is left. running havoc in the empty shell of what remains.  The ride goes on, endlessy going through its circuit, repeating itself over and over again until the individual can no longer take another round.  Unfortunately at times, death seems to be the only way out.

I have since found an e-mail which I had penned on February 6, 2008.  I will let it speak for itself…

I assume many of you have realized I had not been well.  Another bout of depression had visited over the last 7 months and my struggle, especially with my faith, was extremely agonizing.  I knew God had something beautiful planned, but while I struggled with the horrid disease, I had extreme difficulty accepting that something good could come out of it.

During the 7 months of anxiety and complete hopelessness, I continued knocking on God’s door…hoping and praying that He would ease the pain.  It is so unfortunate that the symptoms of the horrid disease and the medication often masked the comfort of God’s love and presence.  I often reminded myself of the pain and agony Jesus went through…in hope that I, in turn, would be able to carry on.  I must confess I felt like a spoiled child, screaming and shouting, bargaining, pleading with God…  I often tried to pretend to “live” the life of another person…but I soon realized that no one else had an easier life…not even Jesus.  I am so grateful that while I couldn’t sense His presence, God sent others (His ministering human angels) to me.  He also ensured that many of you continued to pray so that I could endure the journey…and I have!  Thank you so much for your faithfulness!

A few days ago I realized that women often forget the pain of childbirth.  As Nancy (my best buddy) and I chatted, I realized that I cannot forget the pain/agony of depression.  Perhaps the memory is not erased because it is a spiritual/emotional agonizing pain.  Has God used this pain for good?  My answer is an unwavering YES!  During those months, I yearned and hungered for God’s comfort…for God’s presence.  Now that I can “feel” again, I cannot describe the joy and peace of being given the privilege of basking in God’s love and presence.  With all my heart, I encourage each of you to do the same.

My prayer is that each of you take the opportunity to experience Him.

Before I close, I would like to ask you all to pray especially for a young, grade 8 boy named Michael. Since December, he has succumbed to depression and he has not been able to return to school.  Would you also pray for the many others in this world who are struggling with the same disease?

I sense that I must share one more thing.  I know many of you would not like to know how often I wanted to give up… since there didn’t seem to be any hope.  Each time I wanted to give up, God reminded me of a lady named Inga who is battling with cancer.  Inga and I have never met, but God somehow allowed our paths to meet indirectly (via the phone and e-mail) around June last year.  I often told Inga that I didn’t understand why God had put her in a special place in my heart.  Not too long ago, I began to understamd what God had done.  About two months before the depression “visited”, God had placed Inga in my heart so I could lift her up in prayer.  As I struggled during those seemingly endless months, God often reminded me to pray for Inga. As I prayed for her, I asked Him how she was able to endure. I knew He had given her that beautiful grace because I had overheard others say her faith has kept her going.  I kept asking God to give me even a portion of her faith so I could continue on.  I recently realized that God had used me in Inga’s life so that she (without her even realizing it until I told her) could later on help me to continue to choose life! Doesn’t God work amazingly???!!!  Would you please pray along with me for Inga’s healing?”  (Sadly, Inga has since passed, but she crawled into the Father’s loving arms with the greatest faith in Him.)

As always…God is so….good!  God bless!

Together in God’s overflowing love,

Melissa

p.s. -

How God Uses Pain  (TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman)

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things” (Isa 45:7).

God will use pain in order to create a love relationship with His creation. This statement may challenge your theology. However, consider that God allowed Jesus to experience incredible pain in order to create an opportunity to have a relationship with His creation. Consider how Jesus created a relationship with Paul. He blinded him and used a crisis in his life in order to bring him into a relationship with him and use him for God’s purposes. Consider how God recruited Jonah for the mission He had for him.

This is not God’s first choice for His creation. Romans 2:4 reveals that God’s preference is to show mercy and kindness: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” The problem is there are few people who respond to the goodness of God. God loves people more than He loves their comfort. He invests a great deal into mankind. He desires relationship with us and will go to great lengths to create such a relationship in order for us to receive the rewards and inheritance He has for us.

I have observed this process in the scriptures in working with people through years of ministry. I have noticed three distinct stages. First, we live based on convenience. Our obedience is largely based on circumstances in our lives. We choose to obey based on the circumstances.

The second stage is the crisis stage. God allows a crisis to come into our lives. We are motivated to obey God in order to get out of the pain of our situation. Many times God allows us to stay in this condition in order to demonstrate His love and faithfulness during our pain. Gradually, we discover something knew about God and often have a personal encounter with Him that changes us. Our very nature is affected by this God-encounter.

This begins to move us into a third phase that is a relationship that is motivated now by love and devotion instead of pain. This is where God desires us to be. Another way of saying this is we are no longer seeking His hand. We are seeking Him. We want to know God personally.

Obedience will not last when the motivation is only the removal of our pain. Obedience only lasts when the motivation is loving devotion. Where are you in your obedience and what is the primary motivation? If it isn’t love, why not tell the Lord you love Him today and want to know Him for who He is and not for what He can do for you.”

REFLECTION: The voice

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

 

A panel of 4 sits with anticipation with their backs turned towards the stage.  They listen intently to one (or more), expelling musical vocals that would capture their hearts and entice a panel member to turn and invite the singer to his/her team.  The voice…

Which voice has beckoned you to turn around?  Today, there are so many voices…”the voice of politics, of media, the voice of public opinion, the voice of other religions” competing for your attention.  Through the cacophony of sounds, how do you distinguish one from the other?  How do you discern which one is safe to follow?

Queen Jezebel was furious and was after the man’s skin.  Elijah, the prophet, ran hard and hid in a cave.  God beckoned him, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 King 19: 11-13

Having spent endless hours in conversation with God, Elijah recognized the gentleness of God.  Unfortunately, many who do not know Him, run in fear away from God, having the pre-conceived notion that God’s fury would spew from His mouth.  This is the devil’s delight!

Just as radio waves are continuously flowing, but is not picked up until a receptor is available, God has, is and will always be there, gently speaking to you and encouraging you on.  Is your receptor on?

God bless,

Melissa – August 12, 2014

REFLECTION: The shepherd, the cowboy, and the gate keeper

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

 

The shepherd, the cowboy, and the gate keeper… do any of these have significance in our lives?  You bet they do, especially in the role God plays in our lives.

I’ve often wondered why Christians referred to Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  I thought it was because the perfect analogy for people were sheep and so the shepherd went hand in hand with them.  Today, I stand corrected.

In his book The Leader of Faith, Fr. Elias Vella explains in great detail.  During the time of Jesus, over 2000 years ago, not all shepherds were good.  In fact, “many shepherds… were outlaws and criminals who were living on the mountains, escaping authorities, and making a living from shepherding.”  Imagine that!  So why in the world did the angels first appear to the shepherds when Jesus was born?  Fr. Vella explains, “the message was not intended to be given to simple people but to sinners.  Sinners were those to whom the good news was first given.  Jesus did not come for those who were righteous but for sinners.”

Jesus is THE Good Shepherd.

Fr Vella expands…  “The cowboy has cattle – cows, bulls, oxen – but for him those cows are only meat for the market.  They are numbered; for him they mean only money.  So the cowboy does not bother or care whether the cow or bull is suffering or not; he just leads them and pushes them to walk towards the market.”

In those days several shepherds would find a meadow on the mountain and they would build a little wall around it with a closed gate.   They (2-4) would herd their sheep together in this protected enclosure before night fall and a hired watchman would stay awake and stand on guard at the gate, protecting the sheep from wolves and thieves while the shepherds slept.  Unfortunately, because the sheep was not his, the gate keeper was more concerned about his well-being and he would run when a thief or a wolf came by.

Jesus says, “I am the door”, the security that protects every Christian.  He is the one who stands between every Christian and the evil of this world, willing to give up Himself so as to give life to the ones He loves.

Day breaks and it is time to move on.  The sheep have intermingled in the meadow.  How are the shepherds going to separate their sheep?  “When the herding comes, every shepherd, one after the other, goes to the gate and shouts.  Every shepherd has a particular voice and tonality.  Now when the shepherd shouts at the gate of this big enclosure, all his sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and they all come out…”, following the voice that they have learned to trust.

God bless,

Melissa – August 9, 2014

p.s. -

7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10: 7-9

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: 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!

Reflection in the Garden: The uprooted shrub

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

I pulled out a healthy shrub several weeks ago and had forgotten about it.  I encountered it again a few days ago in a terminal state and I was afraid I would have had to toss it out.  It wasn’t one that grew from a seed packet.  In fact, it was among a group of others I had chosen as a special purchase a year before.  It cost some and so it had greater value than one that could be readily replaced.   Noticing some remnants of green on its foliage, I quickly dug a hole, replanted it and gave it a healthy dose of water.  I’ve been visiting it and attempting to nurture it for a few days now, but nothing seems to be happening.  Nevertheless, I continue to water and pray, asking our Father to bring it back to life.

Is the life of a shrub too petty for God to be concerned about?  I don’t think so.  I noticed my efforts were based on my discretionary attachment.  However, I believe God doesn’t play favourites and He is concerned with the life of all.  (Does this include the mosquitoes, Lord?  Sorry Lord, I just had to ask.)

I asked our Father what I could learn from this and gradually, I began to see.  The shrub was still in the same surroundings as all the others.  The sun still shined above, the rain still poured and the soil still remained beneath it.  All the shrubs remained healthy except for the uprooted one.  What was wrong?  Didn’t they receive the same nourishments?  Yes they did!   The difference was the roots of the uprooted one remained on the surface and it was exposed to the elements.

Our Father began to reveal that a similar thing takes place in the spiritual world.  Many of us are like the shrub.  In our younger years, our parents brought us to Church and they and a few others taught us about our faith walk.  Although we rebelled some, we were nourished, protected and unknowingly, we grew.  Unfortunately, as adulthood came around, many of us chose to rebel.  We uprooted ourselves from our faith foundation and we exposed ourselves to the ways of the world.  We may have still been exposed to the same elements as those who walk closely with God.  We attend Mass… seasonally.   The Bible is still part of our library and over the years, it has accumulated interesting layers of dust.  We pray, some… especially when we need a favour from God.  We get “nourishment”, in a limited sense, but it remains limited because we are not rooted and grounded in the way which allows us to grow.

Father God, thank you for the many lessons you teach us from nature.  You, alone, know the state that we’re at.  We ask for your grace to renew our faith in You and we give You permission to be our friend.  Many say that You are real.  Show us that you are real.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 24, 2014

REFLECTION: That was definitely God…

Monday, April 14th, 2014

 

Yesterday, I received the 3rd part of a L..O..N..G e-mail sent from someone who was not pleased with me.  I was surprised she had decided to contact me as she had asked me not to send her anything further since November, last year.  In truth, she had attacked me and I was taken aback.  I had not made contact for almost 5 months and somehow, something triggered her memory and I was now under her scrutiny.  My first reaction was to slash back and to block her from my site.  God thought differently and gave me the grace to act accordingly.

After I completed responding, I re-read what I had written and immediately I knew that was definitely God.  There are many times when anger bubbles within, but when I offer the reigns back to God, He manages to soften the rough edges and He manages to turn angry words into love.  Thought I’d share His latest transformation…

May the peace of Christ be with you.
 
Based on your request some time in November of last year, you clearly specified that you no longer wanted to receive any e-mail from me because of the limited storage on your phone. I am surprised you have not deleted my previous e-mail to give you more storage capacity.  Perhaps that would be a solution for you?

Rest assured that parts 1 and 2 of your e-mail have not been 
lost.  I have received all 3 parts in total now. Your efforts have NOT been wasted and I have read and reflected on your comments.
 
I have prayed about what you have written and I would like to address some things.  You wrote… The Church, (us,) is falling apart around us, and people are not seeing it.  Are you? And…do you not see wolves around you in sheep’s clothing?  Where is the compassion shown that you are writing about in the Missions you attend?  I had told you that  my cell phone is not adequate, not enough space, and  poor communication, can’t download or view docs, etc.  and you! got insulted!   Went into a snit.

I personally do not believe the Church is falling apart.  We all go through trials 
and it is evident, the Church is being shaken too.  To me, this is a good thing as we need to clearly see what is going on.  

Do you remember the parable of the farmer who had wheat seeds planted in his 
field and then later, the enemy had planted weed seeds among them?  The workers had asked the farmer if they should pull out the weeds and he said “no”.  His reason was so that the wheat would not be accidentally pulled out with the weeds.  He also mentioned that at the end, the wheat would be separated from the weeds.
 
The Catholic church is made of living human beings.  Although it is made up of beings who believe that Jesus died for their sins and He rose from the dead to free us from perpetual death, we are still humans.  We still have the capacity to fall but we also have the capacity to change.  God has not instructed the Church to cut off all the weeds from itself.  Otherwise there would be no one left because we ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  It is only as we daily and moment by moment submit to God and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to live victoriously.  God wants everyone to be saved and so He has been very patient with mankind.  He gives us chance after chance to repent and live fully in His grace.
 
Yes, I agree with you that there are wolves around us wearing sheep clothes.  They have been around for a long time.  We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of discernment so we can recognize them.  However, these “wolves” are still human and so we are still called to love  them, just as Jesus loved the Pharisees.  We are called to pray for them  (love your enemies and pray for them).  If we choose to respond with God’s love, perhaps the kindness and love we offer them will open their spiritual eyes
and they will eventually turn around.  Isn’t that the way our Father deals with us?  I thank God for His patience and His overflowing love and grace because I know I fall repeatedly.  I am also thankful our Father gently picks me back to my feet and He helps me walk once again.  Because of His continued love for me, my desire to walk His way towards eternity grows.
 
I am sorry you do not feel compassion and empathy flowing through me.  I do apologize for that.  Thank you for praying for me and yes, please pray that God will bless me with more of each.  I do need every bit of prayer lifted up for me to walk in His ways.

 

I am sorry you felt that I went into a snit.  I don’t think I did, but it is apparent you felt I did.  My comment was that I was surprised of the way you had asked me to stop sending you e-mail.  I had thought you would ask in a kind, gentle manner.  In fact, I was surprised of the rash manner in which you did it and hence my comment.  Once again, may the peace of  Christ be with you.

You write well and you have a lot of potential.  Use it to build up others.  I believe that would bring so much joy within as you minister and bring healing to others.
 
I am sorry to hear about your ribs and about your recent fall.  I am also sorry to hear about your cat.  I will ask our loving Father to send His blessings and graces your way.
 
Please note that I work from a laptop.  I do not have the same fancy phone that you have.  I still use a flip-up phone from the yester-years.  Hence I only have access to Wi-Fi in selective places.  I am typing at McDonald’s now and although they have Wi-Fi, I still cannot access it.  
 
Once again, may God’s peace be with you.  Please, when you have time, delete the extensive e-mail I have sent you in the past.  They do not seem to benefit you and so there is no reason to have them in storage.
 
Now, wouldn’t you agree that was definitely God?  May our Father continue to give us the grace to seek Him even BEFORE we have time to react.  I know that when you do, you, too, will be able to say “THAT WAS DEFINITELY GOD!”
God bless,
Melissa – April 13, 2014
1) Parable of the Wheat and Weeds – Matt 13:24-30
“Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.  But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.  When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’  “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.  “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.  “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.  Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
2) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” - Romans 3:23

3)   ”The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”-
 2 Peter 3:9
4)  Love for Enemies – Matt 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.