Archive for the ‘love’ Category

REFLECTION in the garden: When it rains…

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

 

Although it was overcast, the beautiful floral pictures in a forwarded e-mail inspired me to go outdoors to capture the blooms in the garden . As I began to sort through the photos, the sky broke open and the rain began to fall. I realized that the beauty was still there, but the down pour prevented me from continuing to enjoy the beauty. As I deleted the blurry ones and enhanced and cropped the others, I sensed that words needed to be included with the pictures. The music was chosen randomly and the words began to flow as if they were meant specifically for each picture. What was difficult to fathom was the pictures remain in the exact order in which they were taken. All I can say to this is God’s hand was definitely in the making of “When it rains…” He was the true Director.

Please consider viewing…https://vimeo.com/126328870?utm_source=email&utm_medium=clip-transcode_complete-finished-20120100&utm_campaign=7701&email_id=Y2xpcF90cmFuc2NvZGVkfDczOGVkOWQ4MzAzYTNkYmNmMDRmMmEwZGQzMDg5ODc0MjU1fDM5Njk5Mzk0fDE0MzAyNzMzODd8NzcwMQ%3D%3D May it bring healing and hope to all.

God bless,

Melissa – April 28, 2015

The makings of Believe Street Meal

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

 

It was some time in 1995 or ‘96 when I first met her at Lynn Valley Full Gospel Church.  It was during a breakfast gathering while we both sat at a round table when I asked, “Is there anything in particular that you need for your ministry?” Her answer was “vitamins”.  The woman I am referring to is Ellen Shonta, better known as “Mom” to those on the streets… and it was there and then that my walk with her street ministry began.

Ellen’s ministry began by making and distributing sandwiches to the youth that hung outside her building.   I’m not sure how it expanded, but by the time I met her, many of the congregation at Lynn Valley Full Gospel were preparing over 100 loaves of sandwiches each Monday for her to distribute nightly as she made her rounds through Granville Street, down Robson and up Denman Street.  Her target was connecting with the youth, but she fed anyone and everyone she met, regardless of their age.  Being a mom herself, Ellen ensured that the youth stayed away from drugs and prostitution by stipulating that she would not feed them if they strayed to the east end of Vancouver where the drug pushers and the pimps frequented.

As she won their confidence, Ellen’s relationship with the street youth grew.  She was their friend and their advocate.  She was the one who shampooed a young boy’s hair when he didn’t know how to shampoo his own.  I was stumped over this for a while until I realized that as a young mom, it was I who had taught my children how to bathe and this lad didn’t benefit from the same.  While it was still legal, she would take one or two youth into her place, helping them and encouraging them to find the beauty and goodness in themselves.

Ellen never forced her Christian faith on anyone.  She told them that she was praying for them, but she would never force one to pray or listen to preaching before she fed them.

Ellen’s use of a scooter facilitated her ministry.  Eventually someone built her a four wheeled trailer and she and/or helpers would make their evening rounds with it in tow… and the “turkey-a-la-king” ministry was born.  It started out with a few deboned turkeys prepared in an “a-la-king” style every Easter and Thanksgiving but eventually, it extended to 8 roasted and deboned turkeys-a-la king, soup, stuffing and mashed potatoes on every special celebration.

In 2007, after the passing of her mom, Ellen retired from her famous Mom’s Agape Street Ministry so she could care for her family of origin.  And in 2008, the first Believe Street Meal was served on Easter Monday.

The Believe Street Meal comprises of ordinary people who share a common desire to provide a hot, healthy meal to the less fortunate (homeless and/or low income) living around downtown Vancouver.  Monetary funding is mostly provided by those who cannot actively take part.  Others donate goods in kind, baking and cooking from their own kitchen, donating dental hygiene, other supplies and clothing from their own purchases or from their business.  The use of a parish industrial kitchen and additional accessories (buffet pans, tables and serving utensils) has been extremely beneficial as it has opened the door for many to prepare and cook together while allowing friendships to grow and blossom, and also providing the necessary serving tools that would have had to be purchased for each meal.  All the labour offered comes from the overflowing love of God for each volunteer.

The call to service is never without glitches and hence, the Believe Street Meal is totally dependent on the power of prayer.  Although they may not be on the front line serving the guests or actively preparing the meal, the prayer warriors are a crucial partner of the ministry.

To end, I’d like to share a series of photos with you…  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgDpWgzvyqI (Mission Statement and a Testimony of a former Street Youth is at the end.)

God bless,

Melissa – April 23, 2015

p.s. – The following is a news clip of Ellen Shonsta, our former street Mom, during her active years…http://youtu.be/wkHFJPbWXiM

 

REFLECTION: Your resurrection

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

On Thursday evening, several of us attended the memorial Mass of the 97 year old mother of a friend of mine.  Ashanti shared about her mother’s life; she, who quietly passed into our Father’s loving arms while she slept.  What touched me the most was this elder’s faithfulness in praying her children back into the Christian faith.  Unfortunately, many of us parents walk in a similar path.  What joy to know that this one saw each of her 5 return to our Lord while she walked on planet Earth.

Having flown back from Agassiz to celebrate this special Mass, Fr. Jack Dias began his homily with, “Both life and death are gifts from God.  Both gifts are free so we can glorify God.”  I believe we can all readily agree that the earthly life which begins with the birth of a child is truly a gift, but death, a gift as well?  Fr. continued, “Without the gift of death, we cannot get into Heaven.  Death becomes a door to Heaven.”

Hold on, does this door to Heaven open for all?  Had Adam and Eve trusted God, ALL would enter Heaven.  However, free will, which God had bestowed on man, gave and still gives man the liberty to make choices.  Sadly, the first man and woman chose to disobey God.  Because of this Fall, the original innocence and purity God created in man became tainted by sin.  From then on, concupiscence (the innate tendency of humans to long for fleshly appetites) tainted the nature of man and unfortunately, many continue to fall.

The created turns against its Creator.  Science fiction?  Not in this case.  Have you felt the desire to over-indulge in food, alcohol, sex or bully another?  Has money controlled your desires and actions, minimizing your willingness to reach out to help another?  Whether you realize it or not, these are actual temptations which the devil, our adversary, plants into our minds.  Having been thrown down from Heaven himself because of his own rejection of God, the devil does whatever He can to destroy man and to keep him from returning to God.  Whatever harm we do to ourselves or another is turning against God.  Why?  Because He created us. His desire is for us to know Him and for His children to live full, happy lives.   Regardless of seeing many backs turned His way, God continues to seek man.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  John 10:25-26  That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?  Perhaps we should start from the beginning.

Let’s begin at the Garden of Eden.  “ … The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17  Notice how the word “die” comes into the picture?  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18  And woman becomes a member of planet earth.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field  which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  Genesis 3:1-7

Did you notice how the devil, taking the form of a serpent, twisted the truth?  He is very good at that.  In fact, one of his titles is the Father of Lies.  Do you see how he lured Eve into believing that she would be like God?  Would you believe that was the very same thing that caused him to fall?

The eyes of Adam and Eve were definitely opened, and what did they see?  They realized they were naked!  That didn’t matter before, but having their eyes opened, their nakedness became an issue.

Was God mad?  I’m sure He was, but He didn’t exhibit it.  In today’s lingo, God was COOL.  He came, strolling along in the cool of the morning calling out for Adam and Eve because they were nowhere to be seen.

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-13

Did you notice how quickly Adam put the blame on the woman?  Did you notice how he also put the blame on God by addressing the woman as “The woman YOU gave to be with me”?  As to the woman, she quickly put the blame on the serpent!  Sound familiar?  We continue to do the same, don’t we?

As with every choice made, we face the blessing or the consequence that goes along with it.  To the serpent, God said… And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15  THIS was God’s fore shadowing promise that He would one day provide a way for man to return back to the loving union he once shared with God through One that would be born of woman.

Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  God had sent not an angel, but His Son, Jesus, down from Heaven to do His will.  Jesus was not transported down to earth as an adult, but He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born to a virgin mother, Mary.

What did Jesus do?  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10  Lost?  Yes, all who have turned away from the Father.  He didn’t set up an office and wait for people to come.  Instead, He walked around and talked with the people, mingling with the broken, the lonely, the forgotten, the rejected, the unwelcomed… anyone and all who needed the touch of God’s love.   He taught, at times by parables, but more often than not, He taught by how He lived, through His loving actions.  He healed… the sick, the lepers, the lame, the blind, the demon possessed.  He raised the dead and with 2 fish and 5 loaves of barley bread, he fed the multitudes (5000 men) with 12 baskets of left over remaining.

More than anything, Jesus gently healed the spiritual brokenness of those who sought Him…
“Teacher,” they (the Pharisees and religious teachers) said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” … Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. …Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”   “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11  Unlike the Pharisees , Jesus doesn’t create a scene nor does He nag nor berate.  He simply forgives and sends her off, encouraging her to sin no more.

Jesus did not limit His ministry to His kind (Jews),   In the heat of noon, as he rested by a well in the midst of His travels, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman.  To her surprise, He speaks to her, overlooking the set traditions that Jews do not associate with Samaritans, let alone a woman on her own.  He offers her “living water” and bids her to call her husband.  The woman replies, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” John 4:17-18

Did you notice what transpired here?  Because He is God, Jesus knew every detail of the woman’s background, and yet, He does not accuse her of anything.  When He asks her to call her husband, she replies with the truth.  He then reveals what He knows of her and she responds, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John 4: 25-26

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” …Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4: 39-42

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  During His 3 years of public life, Jesus fulfilled what the Father had sent Him to do.  He proclaimed  “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. … “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:35-40  He healed the sick, He raised the lame and brought sight to the blind, he resurrected the dead, and He brought spiritual healing.

There was still one crucial thing Jesus had to do.  When the appropriate time came, “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42 Jesus knew exactly what He had to do and He knew the excruciating toll it would take.   He knew He still needed to take on ALL the sins of the world… past, present and future, upon himself and to die a horrific death, so that death would be conquered once and for all.

Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago.  And on the 3rd day, the Holy Spirit raised Him up from the dead.   Jesus is ALIVE and well and he now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for all.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40

Do you believe?

God bless,

Melissa – August 7, 2014

p.s. – http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/godandloved/ <- FALLING PLATES

REFLECTION: The silence and slowness of God…

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

 

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany; the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  John 11: 1-6

Like many others, I have heard and read this scripture passage many times with very little effect.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, through the process of Lectio Divina, our Father revealed something deeper than I could have imagined.

Did you notice something odd in the scripture passage?  Notice that it was Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, who had beckoned Him to come to their brother’s aid.  The content of their message was, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  Although they knew the depth of the friendship they shared, perhaps by reminding Jesus of his love for their brother, he would come more quickly.  Notice that the author, the Apostle St. John, also very clearly indicates that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  And yet, as if it was the normal thing to do, he writes, “So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

What was wrong with Jesus?!?  Did he forget who his friends were?  Didn’t he remember the people he loved… the people closest to his heart?  Even John knew his affection for these folks!  Didn’t it register in Jesus’ mind that someone he loved was dying?  What were Mary and Martha thinking?  They must have wondered what was taking him so long.  They knew he loved each of them.  Did this delay lead them to doubt  the sincerity of his love?

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  We know God loves us.  He even promises that He is always with us and that He would never leave us.  And yet, there are times when we feel so abandoned, alone, rejected and betrayed.

As my reflection deepened, the memory of two mothers I had specifically been interceding for came to mind.  One has a beautiful 20 year old daughter who is bipolar and who, at times, is taunted with suicidal thoughts.  The other has a daughter who suffers from a rare genetic defect and who is also tormented with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The latter had shared that she and her daughter had just about lost hope.

During my waking hours and during my sleepless nights, my prayers are lifted for them during those moments when God puts them in my heart.  I plead and beg for each mother; I plead and beg for each child… remembering the many years when I had pled for my own.  I remind our Father that I know He loves each of them so much and I plead for Him to give them minute miracles so that they can continue on.  I ask for his compassion and I beg him to give them the extra-ordinary graces that they need so that they don’t give up and they continue to hold on to Him.  And many times I beg him to “please hurry” and to “please let each one sense His presence even at the moment”.

And then I am reminded that I am not their mother.  Knowing that our Father only gives me a taste of their misery so I can intercede for them, my heart breaks when I realize how much anguish these moms go through.  In solidarity with them for the love of our children, God encourages me to pray even more.

There is still another who felt totally abandoned in the midst of his grief and agony.  Jesus, isolated and distanced from those he loved as he hung on the cross, agonized to vocalize his misery as he whispered through His bloodied, bruised and swollen lips… “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Matt 27:46   Although without sin, Jesus willingly took on all the sins of the world, knowing that it (sin)  would completely block him from His Father and He would be left to die on the cross… totally alone.

Did you hear His anguished cry?  He felt abandoned.  He must have called and called out for the Father as He hung on the cross.  He must have yearned even for a whisper, a simple sign to show Him that the Father was still with Him.  And yet, all He heard was silence…

But wait, Jesus was still God, wasn’t He?  He still had the power to come down from that cross!  And yet He remained there, silently submitting His will to the Father.

“Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”…  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of his sleep.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  John 11: 7-8; 11-18

The disciples had warned Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jews had intended to stone Him.  Was that the reason why they didn’t resist when he said they were going to stay on for two more days?  Was Jesus afraid and was that why He didn’t come to the aid of His friend immediately?  Perhaps it was safer to wait for 2 days so the anger and volatility of the Jewish crowds could settle before they returned.  But was that 2 days of waiting what caused Lazarus to die?   Let’s do the math.  Jesus waited for 2 more days and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days.  When Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, each of them had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21/32.  Was there truth in what they said?  It sounds logical to blame Jesus, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, let’s examine the passage again.  When Jesus decided to set off after the second day, didn’t he mention that Lazarus had already died?  Even if he left immediately, foot travel would not have gotten Him there on time.

 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.  John 11:38-45

Mary and Martha and, perhaps, even Lazarus didn’t expect him to die.  It was evident the two women blamed Jesus’ delay for the death.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, however, He knew something greater was ahead which was not yet privy to the human world.

Wasn’t it strange that Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”?  And later He said, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Believe what?

In His sermons, Jesus said , “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  Jesus claimed to be the divine son of God.  Although His friends felt betrayed that He did not prevent Lazarus from dying, the miracle that He would perform in bringing this very man back to life would support His claim that He was the true God who had come down to earth to save mankind.

And “many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him”.  John 11:45

Father God, we thank You for always standing by our side and never leaving us.  At times the turmoil in our lives block you from our senses and we fail to hear you or even sense your presence.  Lord, we ask that You bless us with the same faith Jesus had when he felt so abandoned on the cross.  Although He was in immense pain and he could no longer carry on, he trusted You and knew that You had a plan that was bigger and better than what we in this world could imagine.  Thank you for dying for us Lord Jesus and for being the bridge back to the Father’s heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 5, 2014

REFLECTION: Is someone at the door?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

 doorknocking

Would you readily open the door when someone knocks or rings the bell at your front door?  I wouldn’t.  I’ve had one too many solicitors come by and so, unless I know it’s the mailman or someone I am expecting, I totally ignore the beckoning of the unwelcomed guest.

But what would you do if Someone was knocking at your spiritual door?  Have you heard it said ”Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Rev 3:20  I would assume this scripture would sound terribly odd and disconcerting to one unfamiliar with the passage.  But in truth, no one needs to be concerned.  You see, Jesus doesn’t barge into anyone’s life.  Although He is God, He remains patiently at the door of your heart, waiting for you to open the door and to invite Him into your life.

Take a look at the picture.  Notice something odd about the door?  The exterior door knob is missing.  Each artist depicting this scene intentionally leaves the door knob out to symbolize that each individual has full control of the decision.

But what happens if you hesitantly open the door, will He barge in?  Based on my personal experience and the personal experience of many others, He waits for you to invite Him in.  In truth, even if you’ve opened the door before and left it ajar, each morning He waits for you, once again, to invite Him into your life.  Why?  Because he respects the free will of every individual.  He doesn’t assume that once you’ve invited Him into your life, He has free reign over your life.  He doesn’t take it for granted that just because you’ve invited Him once, that He is forever welcome.

Many of us take Jesus for granted.  Many of us were born and raised in Catholic Christian families and were baptized as infants.   We were taught the narrative of Jesus’ birth as children and we received sufficient Catechism teachings so that we were able to receive our first Holy Communion and our Confirmation.  But unfortunately, that was it.  We continue to show up for Mass because, in the back of our minds, we don’t want to end up in Hell.  We’ve learned enough to know that there are certain things we have to engage in to make ourselves and others think that we are living a good enough life to qualify for Heaven.  We may even say we “know” Jesus and are able to recite who He is and what He had done, but in truth, we merely know of Him.  We don’t know Him the way he yearns to be known and we ignore Him until we are in a crisis and we need a favour from Him.  Then we either ask Him for something or we ask others who know Him more intimately to pray for us so that we can get what we want.  Been there?  Done that?

We can fool ourselves and the rest of the world, but we can’t fool Jesus.  Proverbs 21:2 teaches “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 adds … “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I often wonder what Peter saw when his eyes caught Jesus’ glance after he denied Jesus 3x before His crucifixion.    Undoubtedly, Peter saw sadness and disappointment, but he also saw compassion, understanding and forgiveness.  What Peter saw in Jesus’ eyes was enough to keep him moving in the direction Jesus had wanted him to.  Unfortunately, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, didn’t turn to look back at Jesus.  Without a doubt, I am sure he would have received the same healing glance that Peter received, but sadly he didn’t choose to glance Jesus’ way.

Is Jesus at the door of your heart, gently calling out your name?  You may have heard him whispering your name, but you have chosen, instead, to muffle his voice and distract yourself with the other “voices” of the world.  Would you look through the peep hole and see that He continues to wait patiently for you, ever so gently calling out your name.  Would you look and see that He is not upset nor angry that you have turned your back on Him.  Do you hear Him whispering…”Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matt 11:28

Do consider opening the door and inviting Him in.  Do consider inviting Him into your life day after day and get to know Him.  He has been waiting for so long to know you… intimately.

God bless,

Melissa – January 7, 2014

p.s. –

Dear God, I’ve been living my life my own way.  Now I

want to live it your way.  I need You and I invite You 

to take control of my life.  I receive Your Son, Jesus

Christ, as my personal Saviour and Lord.  I believe He

died for my sins and He has risen from the dead.  Please

wash me from all sin, shame and guilt.  Come into my life

Lord Jesus and sit on the throne of my life.  I want to have

a personal relationship with you.  Make me the

kind of person you want me to be.  In Jesus’ name I pray,

AMEN.


REFLECTION: In the beginning…

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

In the beginning, at the onset of time, God created out of nothing.  Out of nothing, He created all that was to be in five days, and on the 6th, He created “man”, male and female, in His image and likeness.  In each living creation, God placed a seed and to each of its kind, He blessed and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” Genesis 1:22  To the ones He created in His image he said, “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”  Genesis 1: 28-30

Why didn’t God reign over the world He created?  Why did He give man reign over all?  Was He expecting to be too busy or, did He think He would not be able to cope with it?  The Catholic Catechism explains…

“God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.  God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.  They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.” (Paragraphs 306 – 308, Catholic Catechism, Simplified Version)

Although man and beast were created on the 6th day, it is man, alone, who was created in friendship with God.  It is to him that God had given the ability to share, through knowledge and love, in God’s own life.  Man was not created to be something, but he was created to be someone.  He was given the capacity of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving  of himself and entering into friendship with another.  It is to man, alone, that God has given the grace to enter into a covenant with his Creator… to offer Him a response of faith and love.

Adam and Eve, our first parents, were created in an original “state of holiness and justice” and it was in this state of holiness that they were able to share in the divine life.   As long as man remained in the divine intimacy, he would not have to suffer or die.  The inner harmony of the human person, which today’s society so longs for, the harmony between people and the harmony of the first couple and all creation comprised the state called “original justice”.

God’s gift to man of “mastery” over the whole world was realized within man himself… mastery of self.  Man had integrity.  He was given the ability to correctly order his internal powers according to reason and will.  He had self-dominion.  He had self-control.  The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence, the 3 evils… “sensual lust, enticement for the eyes and a pretentious life” 1 John 2:16

Then, evil crept in.  Evil didn’t happen by chance.  Evil didn’t happen by an over-sight nor an error on God’s part.  Evil entered when angels, who were created good by God, made an irrevocable, free-willed choice to reject God… not in error, but because of pride.

Thrown down from Heaven, the devil and all the adversaries were furious and they wanted revenge.   Not wanting God’s other creations to enjoy His love and His companionship, the devil immediately targeted Adam and Eve, the first humans on planet earth.   Man succumbed to the deceit of the Evil One… exchanging the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.  Since then, man has been subjected to love the world in selfish, disordered ways:  feeding his flesh with pleasures; feeding his eyes with the world’s possessions; and feeding his spirit with his pride.   Until Jesus’ second coming, the devil and his adversaries will continue to prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. (1 Peter 5:8)

”But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

(Angels and…) Men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.  He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:  For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself. “(Paragraphs 310-311 Catholic Catechism)

So was that it?  Did God abandon man, allowing the devil free reign over the world while leaving man with no recourse?  Let’s examine Genesis 3…

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”” Genesis 3:1-8

Did you read that?  God didn’t throw a bolt of lightning to annihilate Adam and Eve, but instead, God walked through the garden calling out for them.

He (Adam) answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” 

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:10-19

Just as the devil and his adversaries were thrown down from Heaven as a result of their free willed choice to turn away from God, Adam and Eve, too, were held accountable for theirs.  Although Adam and Eve were punished, the devil (in the form of the serpent) was cursed for tempting mankind.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

“Genesis 3:15 has a prophetic nature to it, for there is a promise in the future of redemption, that someone (Jesus) will crush the head of the serpent.  God’s judgement upon the serpent contains a promise of ultimate victory through the woman by her offspring. This concept is developed in a spiritual sense throughout Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.”

Just as God walked through the garden calling out to Adam and Eve when they had sinned,  God calls out to us when we, in turn, choose to turn away from Him.  We attempt to hide, but He waits patiently for us to return.  He loved mankind too much to leave us where we were at and so, just as He declared in the beginning in Genesis 3:15, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sin of the world, redeeming each one who welcomes Him into their life and He brings each one back to the heart of the Father.

God blesss,

Melissa – November 16, 2013

References:

http://www.cftministry.org/resources/articles/article_why.html – Why Did God Create
Humanity?
http://biblescripture.net/First.html – GENESIS 3:15 -THE PROTOEVANGELIUM OR “FIRST
GOSPEL”

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm  – The Catechesis of
Creation

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Two days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.

My attempts to dismiss my anger was futile and so I penned a comment…

“I question your claim that…
“I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.”

I am a practicing Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/37/Personal_Relationship_to_Jesus_According_to_John_Paul_II.html

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/do-you-know-jesus

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/personal-relationship-with-jesus/

God bless you!”

The author replied, “@M.  Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

I’d appreciate your views on the other points.”

I went to bed reflecting on his response and I asked the Father what he thought.  I also asked him not to let me try to figure this out in my dreams, less I wake up fatigued.

Today I penned…  “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians; however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practice. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others.  These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

To this, the author replied…  ”Thanks for taking time to write a thoughtful reply.  I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.”

Later on, I added…  ”Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent reply, I sense there are a few more things to add.

God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others.  Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere; it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

God bless you Andrew!”

I am currently still waiting to see if the author will reply.  In truth, his reply isn’t necessary.  As I read what I had written, I am awed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to fan my feathers.  I am awed over the fact that God is able to use a ditsy individual (me) to write with his great wisdom.  May God, alone, receive all the glory.

As I close, I sense God asking whether we have the courage to defend our faith?  Do we know enough to stand and defend it?  Or, are we merely name claimers, claiming the title of being a Catholic just so we can belong?

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

REFLECTION: Your love letter…

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Several nights ago, I caught a portion of the movie “17 again”.  The film unravels the story of a husband/father who had been physically transformed back into a 17 year old teenager and while in that state, he attempts to correct the damage his neglect had on his family.  What appealed to me was when the 17 year old spoke from his heart as he “read” a letter to his wife at the divorce court.  Although his estranged wife had heard and received the love he expressed, when she reached out to retrieve the “letter” that was left behind, she realized that none of these loving words were inscribed nor were they forever preserved on it.

As I drove around the next morning, our Father had reminded me that He, too, has a love letter lovingly written to each one of us.  He may not have physically penned the words, but He is the Author.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize that we have a love letter and if we do, we don’t set aside time to read it but instead, we wait for others to read our love letter for us.  At times, we even wait for others to decipher what is written instead of allowing the very words to embrace and nurture our being.

How do we know we are truly loved if we haven’t read the letter ourselves?  Is it possible that the others, who have read the letter for us, added their own words so that we would believe that we are loved?  Wouldn’t we want to read the letter for ourselves to ensure that the content is true?  If the letter is there, wouldn’t we be automatically drawn to it and wouldn’t we want to hold it ever so tenderly close to our hearts?  Wouldn’t we want to read each loving word repeatedly and have them caress our hearts over and over again?  Wouldn’t we want these words preserved on paper so that we could return to them to remind ourselves of how much we are treasured?

What stops us from opening our love letter and reading it for ourselves? Is there a screen or a veil that prevents us from recognizing it as such?

1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP teaches…“But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”

But how would the “non-spiritual” (“the un-redeemed who lacks both the Spirit and Spiritual discernment”) know about this Love unless the Spiritual tell them…  How would the carnal (redeemed, but not led by the Spirit) know about this Love unless they permit the  Holy Spirit to reveal it to them.

Does everyone want to experience God’s love?  Based on the numerous ongoing attacks against Christianity, it is evident the answer is “no”. And yet, there are still many who seek  and when they seek with all their heart, they encounter the living Christ.  I believe it is only those who have a true hunger for love and to belong who find TRUE LOVE.

Father God, thank You for loving us so much that You couldn’t bear to leave us in our self-destructive state.  Thank You for sending Jesus to break the stronghold the devil has over mankind and for using Jesus, your Son, as the ransom to bring us back to Your heart.  Thank You that You know each of us personally and You call each of us by name.  Lord, THANK YOU that we are Yours forever and there is nothing that can separate us from Your love.  Father, we ask that you continue to open our spiritual eyes, ears and heart so we will always see, hear and know without a doubt that You will never stop loving us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 2, 2012

P.S.

Isaiah 43:1-2 Amplified Bible (AMP) “But now [in spite of past judgments for Israel’s sins], thus says the Lord, He Who created you, O Jacob, and He Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives]; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.”

Romans 8:38-39 Amplified Bible (AMP) For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

REFLECTION: Back to basics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa (October 5, 2011)

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

REFLECTION in the Garden: What are your true colors?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

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

What are your true colors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa (July 8, 2011)

P.S.

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

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