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REFLECTION:  Blessing or curse?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

ADHD… the acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Heard of it?  Lived with it?  Lived with one who has it?

I have lived under the impression that my parents considered the hyperactivity which has kept bubbling from within me a curse.  Both my parents were physicians… my Mom an Obstetrician while my Dad a Paediatrician.  Being a Paediatrician, I suppose living with this truth was more a trial than anything else for my father, perhaps because he may have believed Paediatricians should be able to control their children, let alone one single child.  I would like to believe he managed well with my 4 other siblings, but I think I was one wild wire that kept on going and going and going.  Discipline and punishment failed to do very much because those were not the solutions to the problem.

Yesterday, I had a wonderful time with Msgr. Greg.  I had gone in a tad skittish and my hands were shaking and so I had to ask him to pour me a cup of tea.  I had arrived with such a heavy heart because the purpose of our meeting was for a serious concern.  With God’s grace, Msgr Greg was able to help me understand and with that understanding, I was set free.  Doesn’t Scripture speak of that?  “Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  John 8:32 

Msgr Greg helped me grasp something crucial.  Although I don’t totally agree with him on this, he mentioned that it was good to experience strong emotions.  Perhaps because I am a highly sensitive person, strong emotions are too much for me to handle.  I do well with mediocre, while I dread the lack of emotions that come with a bout of depression.    Msgr mentioned that if a situation is related to his family, it was normal for him to experience strong emotions.  However, if the situation was distant (you don’t know the person or the incident that has taken place is far away from home) he attempts to dampen his emotions for self-protection, although he still expresses concern.  As if he was able to read my mind, he said, “at the moment, you feel like you are trapped in the middle and you feel like a victim.”  Man, did he nail it on the head!   Having him help me distance myself from the situation brought so much relief!    I was so muddled in the situation I found myself in and I needed someone  more experienced and wiser to help me through.  I cannot say that Msgr is less emotional than I am, as he often claims he cries at ball games, but undoubtedly, his role as a Priest and his additional administrative roles in the Archdiocese have blessed him with wisdom I had yet failed to acquire!

As we drew closer to the end of our short time together, he mentioned, “Moving on to the street ministry work that we have been struggling with, I do want you to know that it is not me personally who is against what you are doing, but a few who I have asked for assistance admit that they like you, but they can’t handle how you function in a tizzy!”

OH THAT!  My outbursts of high energy and excitement have scared some people away!  I can handle that!  My best friend often mentions that I manage to do a lot of things, but always in a non-conventional way.

The previous night, I had listened to a prophetic teaching of Graham Cooke.  He had mentioned that some have Guardian Angels who have applied for a transfer.  He also mentioned that if your Guardian Angel is in counselling, then you are in real trouble!  I did mention the latter to Msgr Greg to explain the state that I originally was in, but the truth is, I think my Guardian Angel has applied for a replacement and /or for an assistant a long time ago.

Perhaps to some, the hyperactivity that bubbles out from within me is a curse, but to me, it is a true blessing.  It has taken me a long, long time to receive healing, but God has revealed that I am a gift from Him to myself and to the world.

Lord, thank You for who I am.  You’ve made each of us in your own likeness.  Some of us have more quirks than others, but Lord, we know we’re fine.  In Your word You said “nothing can separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:38  You also said, “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans NOT of calamity, but of welfare… to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11  Thank You for the wonderful plans You have for each of us!  And Lord, thank You, that He who began a good work in me will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ!”  Philippians 1:6  In Jesus’ name, amen.

So my friends, He ain’t done with me yet!

God bless,

Melissa – July 27, 2016

p.s. – in response to my thank you email, Msgr responded with the following… “We are actually quite good working together (your virtues more than mine) despite our different approaches!

There’s a wonderful story about the future Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles when he was vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York. He had charge of the Dorothy Day ‘file’ and was forever denying her permission for lovely-sounding things (like having a Midnight Mass in a manger) that were against the rules. But she obeyed him without complaint and mutual respect developed despite their very different perspectives (McIntyre was famously conservative).

When a somewhat reactionary group in the States petitioned Rome to place some kind of restrictions or censure on Dorothy (who is now praised by one and all, including Pope Francis) they stood a good chance of succeeding. But McIntyre came to her defense and nothing came of it…

Though let’s be clear: I am not a future cardinal, and you are not Dorothy Day!  We just do our best to please the Lord in our own ways.”
God is so… good!

REFLECTION: Oh Canada, will we stand for thee?

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Yesterday, Canadians celebrated Canada Day.  I was one of them.  As I walked around the garden in the early morning, I thanked God for the freedom I have and the immence joy I constantly experience because of my ability to exercise my freedom  That joy was cut short when suddenly, the thought of Bill C-14 came to mind.  For those who are unaware, Bill C-14 became law on Canadian grounds on June 17, 2016 and medical assisted suicide is now legalized in Canada.

Anguish filled my heart as I began to realize that the doctors’ and nurses’ freedom to fight for life, the very reason for their professional integrity, could now be forcefully taken from them as they are legally dictated to assist another with their right to assisted death.  Imagine, forcefully taking the rights of one so as to execute the rights of another…

Yesterday we sang our beautiful anthem…

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

Will we eventually be forced to alter the lyrics of our national anthem because it no longer speaks of the freedom our forefathers have fought for this land?

The rest of the our national anthem declares our new battle cry…

From far and wide O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God bless,

Melissa – July 2, 2016

p.s. –
Sirach 38 /  Ecclesiasticus 38

1 Treat the doctor with the honour that is his due, in consideration of his services; for he too has been created by the Lord.

2 Healing itself comes from the Most High, like a gift received from a king.

3 The doctor’s learning keeps his head high, and the great regard him with awe.

4 The Lord has brought forth medicinal herbs from the ground, and no one sensible will despise them.

5 Did not a piece of wood once sweeten the water, thus giving proof of its power?

6 He has also given some people knowledge, so that they may draw credit from his mighty works.

7 He uses these for healing and relieving pain; the druggist makes up a mixture from them.

8 Thus, there is no end to his activities; thanks to him, well-being exists throughout the world.

9 My child, when you are ill, do not rebel, but pray to the Lord and he will heal you.

10 Renounce your faults, keep your hands unsoiled, and cleanse your heart from all sin.

11 Offer incense and a memorial of fine flour, make as rich an offering as you can afford.

12 Then let the doctor take over — the Lord created him too — do not let him leave you, for you need him.

13 There are times when good health depends on doctors.

14 For they, in their turn, will pray the Lord to grant them the grace to relieve and to heal, and so prolong your life.

15 Whoever sins in the eyes of his Maker, let such a one come under the care of the doctor!

 

REFLECTION: Sign or miracle?

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but this isn’t one of those stories which you would have listened to from a regular children’s Bible story book.  Did you know the prophet Elijah had put out an extra-ordinary challenge to the prophets of Baal?  Grab a cup of coffee because this is definitely an interesting one!

Ahab sent to all the children of Israel and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel.

Elijah appealed to all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue?  If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.”  The people, however, did not answer him.  So Elijah said to the people,  “I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.  Give us two young bulls.  Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire.  I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire.  You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the LORD.  The God who answers with fire is God.”  All the people answered, “Agreed!”

Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one young bull and prepare it first, for there are more of you.  Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire.”  Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, “Answer us, Baal!”  But there was no sound, and no one answering.  And they hopped around the altar they had prepared.  When it was noon, Elijah taunted them:  “Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”  They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom,  until blood gushed over them.  Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until the time for offering sacrifice.  But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening.

Undoubtedly, Elijah must have been filled with the Holy Spirit because he was definitely one brave fellow.  Although he was the sole survivor of God’s prophets, he taunted and teased 450 prophets of Baal!  450 and he was one measley man!  The man had guts!  Having watched these prophets call out and hop around their alter from morning to noon, Elijah began to taunt…“Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”  In spite of their large numbers, the prophets didn’t maul Elijah.  Instead… they called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom,  until blood gushed over them.  Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until the time for offering sacrifice.  But there was not a sound; no one answered, and no one was listening.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.”  When the people had done so, he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been destroyed.  He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD had said, “Your name shall be Israel.”He built an altar in honor of the LORD with the stones, and made a trench around the altar large enough for two measures of grain.  When he had arranged the wood, he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood.  “Fill four jars with water,” he said, “and pour it over the burnt offering and over the wood.”  “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.  “Do it a third time,” he said, and they did it a third time.  The water flowed around the altar, and the trench was filled with the water.

At the time for offering sacrifice, the prophet Elijah came forward and said, “LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command.  Answer me, LORD!  Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses.”  The LORD’s fire came down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench.  Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”  11 Kings 18:20-39

Spectacular wasn’t it?  As a prophet, Elijah proclaimed the will of God.  He said… let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command.  Answer me, LORD!  Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses.”

Undoubtedly, Elijah walked ever so closely with the Father!  He must have experienced one revelation after another from our Father so that his faith was built up to such a degree!

Had Elijah not proclaimed the Father’s intent, would the Israelites have believed?  Would they have simply witnessed a spectacular miracle and then dismissed it after a week or two?  Sadly, miracles occur daily, but many fail to recognize their relevance nor do they recognize the Father’s hand in these personal revelations.  A sign expands and defines the significance of a miracle.  Otherwise, the miracle simply becomes a spectacular event that has taken place for the purpose of entertainment, and its significance and impact on the lives of others are lost.  Notice how the grandeur of fireworks are lost after watching them numerous times?

Father, forgive us for not recognizing Your hand in the daily miracles in our lives.  They happen so regularly that we have began to them take for granted.  Lord, we ask that You open our spiritual ears and hearts and we ask that you open our spiritual eyes at the appropriate time.  Lord, this time, we do not ask that you open our eyes immediately, but we ask You to open our eyes at Your proper time because You alone know when we are ready to receive Your message.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – June 10, 2016

Reflection: How accountable are you?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Accountability.  That was a term foreign to many about 30 years ago, but I was fortunate to have caught a portion of that teaching in a Promise Keepers cassette tape.  Yes, I admit, Promise Keepers was an organization for men, but I was already a seeker then and I was just as ravenous for whatever I could learn about the Christian walk.

By definition, accountability means an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.  Although I lived a more care-free life than many others and pranks were up my sleeve more often than not, being responsible for my actions resonated with me.  Perhaps, it was because a prank wouldn’t be as fun if the “victim” didn’t know who the culprit was?… or perhaps accountability had to become part of my nature when I became a mother.

A few weeks ago, I freaked because I had joined in the yelling tirade of a new neighbour.  I was saddened and embarrassed that I had succumbed and joined in the yelling match.  When I told my Confessor of the incident and that I blessed my neighbour after the fact, he just about fell off his seat.  I told him that I automatically said, “God bless you” but unfortunately, she replied, “There’s no such thing as God!”

I would prefer to tell you that this was the end of the story, but unfortunately, the neighbourhood drama escalated and the Bylaw Office of our municipality was brought into the picture this Thursday.  I was furious and sadly, my mind went ballistic.  I was just counselled to be careful about my thoughts and cautioned not to “fight in my mind”.  My plea for the Father’s aid was continuous but periodically, some “juicy” thoughts came to the surface.  Unknown to many living in West Vancouver, the attempt to keep new neighbours from cutting down mature trees has caused a lot of battles.  My temporary prankster-like solution to this plight was to purchase “decorative” eyes, nose and mouth tree accessories and to put them up on a tree trunk facing the neighbour’s home.   I had told our Father that that would make them know that the trees had eyes.  It didn’t take long before our Father asked me what my motive was.   Sheepishly I admitted that it was to scare them.

I do confess the battle in my mind was wild and it was difficult to control.  One part of me kept proclaiming and asking God to renew my mind in Him, but another part of me enjoyed the scheming sessions. Thankfully, God very quickly brought me across the following link….http://www.joycemeyer.org/BroadcastHome.aspx?video=What_Do_You_Think?_-_Part_1  and my breakthrough arrived.  God’s faithfulness in His promise was reinforced!   “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13  God knew I was failing and I needed help… BIG TIME.  I am so grateful the “stinking thinking” very quickly ended.

It was interesting to note that each time the Holy Spirit convicted me of the wrong I was engaging in, I was delighted of how quickly the prompting came.  My dearest friend, who also so happens to be one of my accountability partners, had an earful of these convicting encounters, but she, too, was prayerfully delighted and marveled of how efficiently and quickly the  Holy Spirit worked.  I wonder if this delight we both experienced comes with walking with the Holy Spirit?

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (bless him/her) ;   For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you.   The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.… Proverbs 25: 21-23.

As if by chance, this Scripture verse and the next were discussed at our Bible Study just before the last incident occurred.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the alter with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”… Isaiah 6:6-7

Not knowing why, I kept asking our Father to bless our neighbours.   Perhaps it was in hopes that they would eventually behave.  It would have been easier to curse, but God prevented that from happening.  Thank You Lord!

I am so grateful to announce that, with God’s grace, a peace treaty has been reached today.  The head of the house wrote…”Thank you for the thoughtful and kind response… I apologize for the rudeness that has been shown to you. There is some bitterness over the tree issue. I sincerely hope that we can move forward on a positive note.”    While I wrote…” Once again, peace be with you L.  God bless you and your family, Melissa   p.s. – I did ask God to bless C after her tirade but she had said, “there is no such thing as God”.  Although you and/or your family may not believe in God, to me, sending God’s blessings your way is the best gift I can offer you.”

May God receive ALL the glory!

Last night, I received a prophetic word which I had shared among the congregation who came for Adoration / Worship and Praise at St. Mary’s Parish.  “Before Peter denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus had told him…“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”  Luke 22:32  Undoubtedly, we will be tempted by the enemy, but we can be comforted knowing that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, in Heaven, praying, interceding for us.  He also encourages us to pray for one another.  But, Jesus doesn’t end there.  He says, “when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren”

Undoubtedly I had fallen on my face again and again over a short period of time, but God has been faithful and He has provided a way of escape!  I am so thankful and blessed that I have turned again and now, I can strengthen you, my brethren.

All praise and glory belongs to God our Father, our Saviour and Redeemer… our Lord Jesus Christ and our dearest helper, convictor and source of power… our dear Holy Spirit!

God bless,

Melissa – May 22, 2016

 

Word of life… New beginnings

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Over the last two sessions of the Unbound seminar, Vicki Conroy had asked me to lead the closing prayer.  I share the prayer which I sensed the Holy Spirit guiding me to pray tonight as it also seems to be partially prophetic.  May God bring new life to us all.

As we begin in prayer, I invite you to bring your mind into the presence of God the Father, Jesus His Son and your redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Paraclete….

When Jesus was with His disciples, He asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  At this very moment, Jesus is asking you…”Who do YOU say I am?”  Am I merely a prophet or am I truly your Saviour and Redeemer?  Jesus died for us all, but at this moment in time, He wants you to concentrate on yourself and the very fact that He died for you alone.  Who you proclaim He is in your life will determine whether He can bring healing in your life.  Just as Maria had said earlier, “if you believe it, it works.”

Let us now pray through Isaiah 42

God our Father says, “I have put my Spirit upon you (v1)  A bruised reed I will not break; and a dimly burning wick I will not quench.” (v3)

You are that bruised reed.  You are so bruised and down trodden at the moment, but God will not break you.  You are the dimly burning wick, but God will not quench that flame.  He wants to strengthen you so that you will begin to shine brightly.  He wants to strengthen your faith so that you can and will believe.  Lord, help our unbelief.

“I have taken you by the hand and kept you. (v6)  Behold, the former things have come to pass and new things I now declare. (v9)  Sing to the Lord a NEW SONG. (v10)

God has taken you by the hand and He is  bringing you into the light.  He IS the light and He wants to bring that light into your life.  Your former broken life has come to pass and now He is bringing new things. He asks you to sing Him a new song for the new life He has given you.

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.” (v16)

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing.” Isaiah 43:18-19

In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – May 2, 2016

REFLECTION in the garden – Pruning and weeding…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

My intent was to sew tomato seeds, but instead, our Father drew me elsewhere.  The flowering Clematis vine, climbing over an archway, needed cosmetic work.  Many of last year’s withered growth were still attached to the  vine and their presence, mixed with new growth, was an eye sore.   Snipping away wasn’t easy.  Periodically, I would snip what appeared to be a dead branch, only to realize that higher up, growth had already began.  Sadly, that entire branch had to be pulled off because it was no longer connected to the living vine.

With the sun overhead, the work on the vine became difficult and so I moved on to the mulched area underneath two tall cedar trees.  Multitudes of wind blown Laurel seeds had dropped from else where, taking root in a large area that should have been protected by mulch.  Painstakingly, I pulled one seedling after another and then it was time for the weeds.  These had taken root last year and many were now the size of dinner plates.  Uprooting them took much effort, but because of the  previous night’s heavy rain fall, the mulch released the roots more readily.  Pulling the weeds was back breaking in itself, but that chore became more challenging as I worked through the area surrounded by prickly blackberry vines.

Despite my intent, the tomato seeds weren’t sown that morning.  Instead, our Father had other more valuable lessons to teach.  He explained…   the garden represents the life of each individual.  The seeds can’t be sewn to bear fruit until we clear off the debris from previous years.  Like the vine, we have much pain, worry and concern of yesteryears which continue to cling onto us.   Many of us fail to realize that although we attempt to move forward, we are sluggish because of the dead weight we continue to carry.

Didn’t Jesus come “to bring (us) life and have it to the full”? (John 10:10)  Then why are we heavy laden with burdens?  Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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.…? (Matt 11:28-29)  And yet, so many struggle!  There must be some miscommunication along the way.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus stepped down from Heaven and was born of woman.  He willingly chose to be crucified and to die on the cross as the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of God in order to take away the sins of the world.  On the 3rd day, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He rose again, overcoming eternal death which entered the world when man first chose to disobey the Father.  This IS the Good News!

You’ve heard the Good News, haven’t you?  Did you know that as you chose to believe, you were immediately transferred from the kingdom of darkness and lies of the devil into the Kingdom of God?  With that choice, you were given a new identity, a new life and a new purpose!  You no longer are a nobody, but you ARE a child of God!  Together with Jesus, you are invited to call God, Father… your Papa!  And as a child of God, you are given the power like no other, through the Holy Spirit, to obey and follow the will of God.  Did you know that?  Sadly, many don’t.

Run to Papa God!  Tell Him about your heart aches and sorrows.  He’s been waiting for you to share it with Him.  He invites us to take off our yoke, together with all our grief and sorrows, and to leave them all at the foot of Jesus’ cross.   He whispers, “Take up My yoke”… His teachings and His way of life and to learn from Him.  He reminds us that He is “gentle and humble in heart” and when we turn to Him, “we will find rest for our souls.”

Do you remember the Laurel seedlings and the weeds I had pulled out?  He reminded me that each could not be pulled out as a bunch, but each one required individual attention.  Similarly, each problem that we have, be it big (mature weed) or small (seedling), needed His undivided attention.  He then reminded me that the heavy rain that poured the night before were the tears of each one.  As each one reaches rock bottom, we cry profusely and when we do, we are more willing to relinquish our pride and our self-reliance to him.  He then said, “As a gardener, your desire is to pull out the root system of each weed in its entirety. But if you are the weed, your goal would to be to ensure that some roots would remain so that you would have a chance to grow again.”  The enemy usually allows us just enough time with God to have our problems solved superficially.  He then attempts to distract us away from the Father so that only the surface hurts are healed, but the root problems are still intact and capable of growing once again.  The choice is ours.  We can run the treadmill of a busy lifestyle but go no where OR we can spend time with God.

Jesus said, “The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.  I have come to bring you life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10  Will you come and take the full life Jesus is offering you?

God bless,

Melissa – April 26, 2016

p.s. – Proverbs 16: 9  “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

 

REFLECTION – Not to be taken lightly…

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

“Did you hear about it?  Did you hear about the man called Jesus who was crucified last Friday?  They say it was brutal.  Not only did the Romans force Him to carry the crossbar, but He was forced to carry the entire cross which they crucified Him on.  That’s 300 pounds!  They say He was barbarically flogged just short of death and verbally tormented.  He fell three times and He was forced back up again!   That poor man.  I wonder what He did to deserve that brutality?”

“That was last week’s newsflash.  We were impacted by the strength and valor of this man.  What He endured was difficult to swallow, but that was yesterday’s news.  The memories will soon fade and something else will surely take its place.”

Really?  Can we readily dismiss what Jesus did?  Many do…  They may have heard the story about Him, but to them, it’s just a story.   No big deal.   It doesn’t affect them… or so they think.

Prior to His crucifixion Jesus asked His disciples,  “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  (Mark 8:27-29)

Oh, just a moment!  Don’t read on!  You haven’t answered His question.  Jesus is asking YOU, “Who do you say I am?”

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)  

Paul writes the Corinthian Church, reprimanding them for their indifference to sexual immorality.  He reminds them of the sacrifice Jesus made, and he encourages  them to let go of their past lifestyle puffed up by malice and wickedness, and to begin again with sincerity and truth.  

Why did Paul remind the Corinthians of Jesus’ sacrifice?  Surely they would have remembered…  Perhaps just like today, the memories of Jesus’ sacrifice were short lived in the minds of the Corinthians.  Life carries on and old habits rise back to the surface.  Perhaps the impact of what Jesus died for had barely sank in and they remained spiritually immature.

Did you notice that Paul referred to Jesus as our Passover?  In the process of releasing the Israelites from the torment of slavery by the Egyptians, God had given instructions to Moses and Aaron for the first Passover…  “Tell the whole community of Israel:  On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.  If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.  The lamb must be without blemish… With the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.  They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. (Exodus 12)

Do you recall what happened then?  “It is the Passover of the LORD.  For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!  But the blood will mark the houses where you are.  Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”  (Exodus 12)

Jesus, our Passover.  Pass over… does this mean that God’s executing judgement on man will be passed over because of the blood shed by Jesus?

When John the Baptist first saw Jesus he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

I will quote directly from BibleAnswers.ie (http://www.bibleanswers.ie/short-bible-studies/64-jesus-christ/158-lamb-of-god) as the site explains perfectly…

“God gave Israel a sacrificial system around which most of their religious activities revolved. The offering of animal sacrifices by the priests was inseparably linked with the sins of the people. Yet these sacrifices, which lasted for 1,500 years, were ineffective in securing a pardon for sins committed.

Then why were they offered? The sacrifices served the following purposes: (1) they showed how serious sin is in that sin required the sacrificial death of an innocent victim, (2) the sacrificial system pointed to a time when God would provide his own Son to be an effective sacrifice for sin.

Jesus Our Substitute

The book of Leviticus, chapter sixteen, speaks about ‘the scapegoat.’ The priest would take two goats, one would be killed as a sacrifice for the sins of the people and the other would become a scapegoat. The priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat over which he would confess the sins of the nation. He would then chase the goat away into the wilderness. In a symbolic way, the innocent goat became a scapegoat for the people and his being chased away symbolised the removal of the sins of the nation.

In Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God, we have a scapegoat provided by God. Our sins were laid upon the Lord and his atoning death took those sins away. Isaiah the prophet foretold the sacrifice of Christ in terms of him being our substitute: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) The apostles Peter and Paul express the same truth: “God made him who had no sin to be sin on our behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his boy on the tree …” (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus did for us what we could never have done for ourselves: he took our place; he became our substitute; he became our sacrifice and his death satisfied the holy justice of God. For this reason he is called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

It is only the Holy Spirit who can help us appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  Are we to scoff and look down on those who have not yet believed?  I don’t think so.  Weren’t we in the same position not too long ago?  Instead, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to pray for them and for ourselves.  And as we wait for this victory, let us ask for the desire to draw closer to God and spend time conversing with Him and reading His Word.  Isn’t that the least we should do?  

God bless,

Melissa – March 30, 2016

p.s. – Gethsemane sang by a 3 year old…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWIx24J00Wc

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION: But My people didn’t listen to My voice…

Monday, March 28th, 2016

 

“But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me. “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices.”  Psalm 81:11-12

Have you wondered what it would be like if God left us to our every whim?  I shiver at the thought of it…

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonoured among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;  and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them Romans 1:24-32

The book of Romans was written in 57-58 a.d.  Had it not been mentioned where this passage was taken from, one could have readily assumed it was referring to today’s society.  It’s difficult to fathom that these activities took place in Rome even in those early days, isn’t it?

But wait!  If Romans was written in 57-58 a.d., then that would mean these took place merely 34 – 35 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection!  Somber thought…

It was only yesterday that we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and now this?  Sadly yes.   This is what our reality offers.  If only the spiritual eyes of each one were open to the truth that Jesus took on the sins of the world while on the cross and He died as a result of it… and then to realize that He rose again, through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that sin and death would no longer have a hold on us.  If only…

God loved man so much that He didn’t force man to love Him in return.  Instead, He invited man.  He gave man the choice to freely choose to receive that invitation to love… the invitation of salvation.  Jesus freely gave, bad sadly, many have freely rejected.

For even though they knew God, they did not  honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.   Professing to be wise, they became foolsand exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  Romans 1:21-23

Father God, thank You for revealing Your presence and splendor in creation.  Our failure to believe does NOT diminish the truth that You exist nor that You created the world and man… in Your image and likeness.  Have mercy on us and forgive us Lord, for choosing to worship and serve the created rather than You, our Creator.  It is only by Your grace that we can believe.  Lord, help us with our unbelief.

Father God, thank You for loving us so much that you sent Your Son, Jesus, down here to earth… down to our level to take on our human form so He could walk among man.  Mother Mary, thank you for your yes, your fiat to our Father, giving birth to Jesus here on earth.  Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing our Father’s love.  In spite of knowing the pain, anguish and the indescribable torment that You would endure while You prayed in the garden, You chose to do the Father’s will.  Oh Lord Jesus, our hearts and our minds cannot fathom what You endured because You loved.   We thank You with all that we have for taking on our sins and for dying on the cross to bring us salvation.  Our dearest Holy Spirit, thank You for raising Jesus from the dead.   Lord, because of Your resurrection,  the shackles that bind us to sin have been broken and we are set free from the ways of the world and eternal death.

And now Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us the grace to freely choose to invite You into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour.  We pray for all the others who have chosen to turn their backs on You.  We plead for your mercy over each and we ask that You open their eyes so each one may see and then to choose to believe.

Lord, send forth Your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

 

God bless,

Melissa – March 28, 2016

p.s. – Father God, thank You for being a God of second chances…

Israel to Be Renewed for His Name’s Sake

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not[j]bring a famine on you. 30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

33 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. 35 They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.”

37 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like the flock[k]for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”’”  Ezekiel 36:22-38

REFLECTION: onk, onk, onk… (busy signal)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

“Onk, onk, onk….”  I’m not sure if this is the best representation of a busy telephone line, but I’m sure you get what I mean.  Sadly, this is the response God often gets when He tries to connect with us.

In his book, Thirsting for Prayer, Fr. Jacques Philippe mentions that it is God, himself, who invites us to respond to his call.  I assume many don’t realize that God seeks man out more actively than man seeks God.  But what good is man to God anyway?  God can create whatever He wants out of nothing, so why does he continue to seek the very ones who turned their backs on Him?  Because “right from the start, He ardently desires to enter into communion with us.”  If the latter is true, that would actually mean that we really mean something to Him, doesn’t it?

If we are honest with ourselves, I believe many would shamefully admit that they haven’t seriously considered having a relationship with God.  “What for?”  I’ve managed without him.  Prayer is just a waste of time.  I don’t get anything out of it.”  And yet, God continues to call…  Many won’t bother picking up because they’re too busy running on the treadmill of life, running for reasons they don’t know themselves except, perhaps, to keep up with what the world is doing?

God asks us to pray.   “In asking us to pray, he knows what He is doing.  His plans are infinitely beyond anything we can glimpse, desire or imagine.  In prayer there is a mystery that absolutely surpasses our understanding.  What drives a prayer life is faith – faith as trusting obedience to God’s proposal.   And we cannot even imagine the immense positive repercussions of this humble, trusting response to God’s call.”

“If we pray for the sake of the benefits we hope to obtain from prayer, we risk becoming discouraged at some stage.  The benefits are neither instantaneous nor measurable.  If we pray in an attitude of humble submission to God’s word, we will always have the grace to persevere.”

“This attitude of loving, trusting obedience is the most fruitful thing of all.   Our prayer life will be rich and beneficial to the degree that it is inspired, not by a desire to obtain anything, but by this approach of a confident, obedient response to God’s call.  God knows what is good for us, and that should be enough for us.  We ought not to take a utilitarian view of prayer, reducing it to questions of results and profits; that would distort it completely. We don’t have to justify to anyone else the time we spend on prayer.  God invites us, so to speak, to “waste time” on him, and that is enough…  The more our prayer is gratuitous – done freely, not to get something out of it – the more it will bear fruit.  What we need to do is entrust ourselves to God to the extent of doing whatever he asks of us, without feeling any need for further reasons”

Philippe quotes John Paul II”  “Prayer makes us into friends of God, introduces us into intimacy with Him and draws us into the richness of his life, bringing us to live in Him, and bring Him to live in us.  Without that reciprocal exchange of love which prayer brings about, the Christian religion is merely empty formalism, the announcing of the Gospel is just propaganda, and charitable commitment is just social work that does not make any fundamental change in the condition of mankind… Prayer enables us to draw from God a life that is ever new, to let ourselves be continually reborn and renewed.  Whatever our trials and disappointments, harsh situations, failures, and faults, prayer makes us rediscover enough strength and hope to take up our lives again with total confidence in the future.”

Have you spoken to God?  That’s prayer!  You don’t need to run to another who appears more versed in praying to connect with Him.  All He wants is you, just as You are.  As you come to Him and share what’s been going on in your life, you’ll gradually begin to understand why He invites you for a chat.

Do take a look at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLVzV9n69UY  It speaks volumes on its own.

He’s waiting…

God bless,

Melissa – March 23, 2016

REFLECTION: Do I express the joy of the Lord in my life?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

“I’m gonna take it all,
I, I’m gonna be the last one standing.
Higher over all,
I, I’m gonna be the last one landing.
‘Cause I, I, I believe it,
And I, I, I, I just want it all…
I just want it all…
I’m gonna put my hands in the air!
Hands, hands in the air!
Put your hands in the air!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying AYO! Gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life,
Saying AYO! Baby, let’s go!”

These are the lyrics of the last song Fr. Rob Galea chose to sing for his concert on Sunday.  His choice of song was there to challenge his audience to stop being so serious all the time and to enjoy life!

Dynamite is the title of the song he chose and its lyrics brought a smile to my face.  Fr. Rob related of a time when he had  two Christian concerts to perform, one after the other.   The first group were from Australia and the other from Canada.  Having lived in Australia for a while, he was able to relate to the relaxed, party attitude of the Aussies.  Evidently, the concert was a blast.  The atmosphere of the second event was stringent and reserved.  To break the rigid atmosphere, he sang Dynamite!

Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be explosive like dynamite?  I remember a visiting Priest ask why there are many Catholics sitting on the pews with funeral faces.  Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but He rose again and is ALIVE!  Do we proclaim that truth in our lives?  I don’t think so.

Many carry on their lives with long faces and they walk with a distinct heaviness on their shoulders.  Yes, they have endured hardship and many are still undergoing hardship, but do they not realize that Jesus came so that we may have life, to the full?  (John 10:10)

Have they not experienced the chains being broken and been set free?  Have they not received the crown of  beauty that has been exchanged for their ashes?  … the oil of joy instead of mourning… and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?  We were promised that we would be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  (Isaiah 61:3)

A portion of last Sunday’s second reading resonated with me...”Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come...  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,  not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. 2 Cor 5:

I’ve always wanted to ask new adult converts what it means to be baptized.  Cradle Catholics are, more often than not, baptized in infancy.  It is such a blessing to be brought into God’s family at an early stage, but then we fail to recognize that we have become new creations.

In my mid-teens, I had a physics lab partner who loved singing Christian songs.  She had such a beautiful voice, but because the lyrics were all about God, they didn’t sit well with me.  I kept asking her to “change the channel” and she would change “it”, but that merely meant an alternate Christian song.  Through her love and persistence, I finally attended the youth group at her Evangelical Church.  It was there where I learned about having a personal relationship with Jesus and about sharing my faith with others.  Undoubtedly, God began to transform me and my Catholic friends recognized it.   They, too, joined the Youth Group and eventually, when we learned as much as we could to run one, Fr. Kenny allowed us to set up our own youth group at Holy Name Parish.  Thankfully, he brought in Paula, who supervised and counselled us through.

We were young, but we all were so hungry for God’s love.  A spark was lit in each one of us and we ran with it.  One of us became a Priest (Fr. Lawrence Donnely) and another a nun… and then there’s me.

Unfortunately, while each of us followed varying career paths, we all lost touch.  I’m not sure about the others, but God has faithfully kept that spark alive in me even through 3 severe bouts of clinical depression which lasted about 7 months each, an overdose of my tranquilizer and other life trials.  I noticed that each time my head would come up to the surface, I gasped for more of God.  It was He, alone, who kept me alive and who gave me the many graces and blessings to stay alive.

The tune of a song resonates in my mind and so I share  We Are The Reason (lyrics by David Meece)..

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason that He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by we learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves and what that means
On a dark and cloudy day a man hung crying in the rain
Because of love, because of love

And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

I finally found the reason for living
It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I’ll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

He is my reason to live

Lord, we ask for the grace to know You as our personal saviour and intimate friend.  Yes, You came into this world because You loved us so much and You could no longer bear to continue to watch us go astray.  We are all sinners; I am a sinner Lord Jesus, and I ask You to forgive me,  I am sorry for all that I have done and failed to do.  Come into my life Lord Jesus.  Dear Holy Spirit, You are the very power that raised Jesus from the dead and thank You that together with Jesus and God , our Father, You now also live in me.  Open my spiritual eyes so I can recognize Your presence in my life.  I give you the liberty to act in my life, guiding me, leading me and giving me the freedom to live the FULL LIFE Jesus came to give.  Thank You for opening my spiritual eyes dear Holy Spirit.  Thank You that I have my life and I am able to live my life to the FULL.  Thank You Lord Jesus for setting me free!  In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 9, 2016

p.s. –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrPAZbD6fG0 <- please click, watch/listen to WE ARE THE REASON