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REFLECTION: Trust in the Lord…

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

This hasn’t happened before, but my right hand is trembling a bit this morning.  It’s not that it hasn’t trembled before, but it’s the first time it’s shaken on the day of our street meal food preparation and cook off.  I purposely didn’t do anything strenuous the previous days and the only aggressive hand movement I made was knitting, if that in itself could even be considered a heavy hand work out.

Although I’ve done this many times before, I’ve had a hunch the battle would be bigger this time.  A special prayer request had been circulated a week earlier so that the protection and the blessings would begin to flow.  Without reason, fatigue began to creep in and then “forgetting to breathe” (better known as shortness of breath or perhaps anxiety) popped up every so often.

Perhaps high levels of adrenaline has already been circulating as I’ve rehearsed repeatedly in my mind what has to be done.   Perhaps fatigue prevents me from bouncing off the walls and so the energy flow has to move elsewhere while I have been challenged to rest and wait for one and a half more hours before we begin.   Patience and peace Lord… patience and peace.

He reminds me… Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord…”  Yes Lord, I will   I trust in You.   I offer You my heart.  Take all that is within me and use it for Your glory.  I offer the day’s work to You.  Take my hands, my skills, my stamina and even my quirks and use them.  “Lean NOT on your own understanding”…  You’ve got me there Lord!  I offer my thoughts to You.  I offer the 5 huge defrosting bags of pre-cooked rice to you.  I’m not sure how they’re going to be good for serving with the meal Lord, but I’ll trust in You.

Father, why have I been worrying about 5 bags of frozen pre-cooked rice?  It sounds so silly, but that’s been bugging me since I bagged them several weeks ago.  Help me to surrender all this ridiculous thoughts to You Lord.  Father, distract me…PLEASE?

Your prayers would be appreciated for today and our street meal tomorrow.

Thank you for your prayer support and Lord, thank YOU!  Wink, wink…

God bless,

Melissa – April 18, 2019 – 11:54 a.m. (food prep starts at 1:00 – one more hour!)

 

REFLECTION in the Garden: Weeds…

Friday, April 10th, 2015

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You should have seen them!  The weeds I came across at my friend’s house were ripe with seeds.  In a few more days, the slightest breeze would have triggered a large bombardment of seeds flinging all over the area, reseeding the plot of soil.  I’m sure that would have made a spectacular sight if it was recorded in a time lapsed movie.

Weeds… our first meaningful encounter began after a breakthrough during my first big bout with depression.  I had found myself in our front yard, pulling up the weeds that reigned there.  My gardening thumb was extremely “black” then while the greens and I didn’t see eye to eye, and yet while I pulled, I heard our Father clearly say, “From now on, you will be pulling weeds out of your life.”  Although I didn’t “hear” God’s voice regularly at that time, I knew exactly what He meant and I knew He was going to assist me in pulling out beliefs and habits which either hurt me or stunted my growth.

Weeds come in varying forms and sizes.  In truth, even a wild rose bush would be considered a weed if it grew on its own “will”, moving forward over the terrain as its roots spread out.  Every spring, the roots of the wild rose bush in my backyard and I have a tug of war.  Thankfully, I am still the stronger of the two and I am able to pull out most of it.  Their stems are prickled with the sharpest thorns and you can imagine what can happen.  Our many encounters and experience have taught me to clip those surface stems before the tug of war begins.  Unfortunately, I do not have the strength to pull out all the roots and so our tugging encounters continue on year after another.

Have you looked at the photo posted above?  It’s actually a picture of a Boxwood Bush with many other woody sprouts around it.  I would be thrilled if they were Boxwood sprouts and then I wouldn’t have to buy more to complete my project.  Unfortunately, the neighbourhood squirrels have kept busy on the trees hovering above and multiple seeds have fallen everywhere… and boy do I mean EVERYWHERE!!!  An unplucked sprout  would eventually mean having an unwelcomed tree grow in the middle of my flower bed !!!

What weeds are you growing in your garden of life?  There are some which hinder you and so are readily recognizable as weeds, but what about those that are like the wild rose in my backyard?   Their blooms are beautiful, but their invading roots allow them to rise up in unwanted places.  Their beauty bring admiration, but their haphazard appearance in the garden brings about disarray.  What about their horrid razor sharp thorn-like prickles?  I am reminded of jocks and its female version in the school setting.  Do you have traits that make you appear bigger than who you really are?  These traits may be appealing from a distance, but when people draw near, they are ripped apart by your razor sharp personality.  And what about those seeds from hovering trees?  Have you become a “disciple” of one who hovers over you without realizing the immeasurable amount of teachings that have seeded your life?  Caution should be taken on whose ways we follow less these sprouts grow into a forest, blocking us from the truth of reality.

Fr. Hampsh mentions that a weeded area merely becomes an empty plot of land if nothing grows on it.  It can only be rightly called a garden if what is planted grows.

Father God, we invite You to come and be with us as we examine ourselves.  Help us recognize and pluck out the weeds that hinder our freedom in living a full life.  Lord, we’ve believed the lies that were spoken to us in our younger years and they have shackled and imprisoned us in a self-limiting mentality.  Lord, we were told that we were stupid; that we would not amount to anything; that we are a burden to others.  Although there were no basis for these words, the repetitive labelling in our younger years helped us accept them as our truth.   Come Holy Spirit, we ask you to cleanse us from all these lies and we ask You Lord Jesus to take them and deal with them accordingly.  Fill us with Your truth and help us embrace that we are dearly loved by You and that we are wonderfully and beautifully made.  Psalm 139:14  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 13, 2015

 

 

REFLECTION: Transformed by a Renewed Mind

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Have you witnessed a makeover?  You’ll normally catch a glimpse of one on a talk or a reality show.  Often times, the transformation is amazing and the individual’s self-esteem and outlook in life is heightened.  However, I’ve often wondered how long the effects of a makeover lasts.  When the individual returns home to his/her same old daily routine and the amazing haircut outgrows itself, the heightened zeal in life sadly fades away.

In Romans 12:2, we are encouraged “not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.”   I’m sure you’ve heard of this scripture many times, but what does it mean?

Well aware of what is going on in our world today, I wonder how anyone would consciously want to conform to this world.  We have physical, verbal, psychological and emotional bullying in schools, within families and in cyber space; swearing has now become a normal part of the everyday language for many;  respect is no longer given to elders or to authority;  infanticide and genocide take place quite prominently today;  our children, the leaders of tomorrow, are raised in broken families…  Should I say more?

I often wonder what goes on in the minds of others.  I wonder if they feel trapped within the ugliness surrounding them?  I wonder how many would like to run away and escape from the craziness of this world and find peace once again.

But how do you avoid being conformed to the ways of this world if you live in this world?  God has given us the answer…   by being transformed through the renewing of our minds.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, our minds have entered into a fallen state.    In this state, our mind rejects God and it cannot discern His spiritual truth.   This is who we are by nature.  We do not want to see and acknowledge God for who He is; as worthy of knowing, loving and treasuring Him above all else.

The solution?  The first step is to realize that we have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.  By acknowledging our sinful nature and repenting (turning away from our sinful ways) and freely embracing that Jesus took on the sin of the world when He died on the cross, we radically become dependent on Him and the works of the Holy Spirit.  When we repent, the Holy Spirit begins to renew our mind and it is changed (transformed) from our old ways to godly ways of thinking.

Unfortunately,  in spite of knowing and believing  that God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, His son, to redeem us, (John 3:16) many times, the minds of believers continue to reject Him.  We do have to admit this to be true about ourselves because of how little effort we put out in getting to know Him and how much effort is needed to make our mind spend time in getting to know Him better.

Hence, the next step is to ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit on us on a daily basis.  “The Holy Spirit renews our mind.  It is first and decisively His work.  We are radically dependent on Him.  Our efforts follow His initiatives and enablings.”   Without this daily outpouring, the influences of this world could readily overtake us and we will not be able to withstand the arrows of the enemy.

As the Holy Spirit works in us, He works from two directions… from the outside in and from the inside out.  He works from the outside in by exposing our mind to the truths of God.  He leads us to hear the Gospel, to read, study and meditate on His Word in the Bible, to partake in the Sacraments, to read Christ-exalting literary work and to pray and spend time with the Father.  The Holy Spirit works from the inside out by breaking our hard heart that blinds and corrupts our mind and He brings about truth-embracing humility.

Do note that this is exactly what our great enemy, the devil attempts to keep us from.  “The god of the world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:4  “Because to see that for what it really is, Paul says, will renew the mind and transform the life and produce unending worship.”

If the Holy Spirit merely worked from the outside in by presenting Christ-exalting truths to our mind without breaking our hard heart and making it humble, then the truth would be despised and rejected.  If He merely humbled the heart without putting Christ-exalting truth before our mind, then there would be no Christ to embrace and no worship would happen.

What then should we do to “be transformed in the renewal of the mind”?  We join the Holy Spirit in His precious and all-important work.  We pursue the truths of Christ and we pray for truth embracing humility.  We read, ponder and soak ourselves in the Bible, constantly in search of the revelation of Jesus’ glory; we partake in the Sacraments; we form the habit of meditation on the perfections of Christ and we pray and pray and pray some more that the Holy Spirit will renew our minds so that we may desire the will of God and that our lives will become worship to the glory of God.

God bless,

Melissa – March 26, 2015

- from the teaching of John Piper; The Renewed Mind and How to Have It – http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-renewed-mind-and-how-to-have-it

REFLECTION: Broken hearted, no more…

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

 


Break my heart for what breaks Yours; Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause; As I walk from nothing to eternity.”  These are from the refrain of “Hosanna”, a song sung by Hillsong United.  I wonder how many realize what these lyrics mean when they sing along with the song?  In truth, I didn’t until I began to experience a deep grief that appeared to come from nowhere one day.

A few days ago, my heart broke again.  I had been interceding for a mother and daughter for a while now and of late, things have turned for the worse.  The news of an unsuccessful treatment that brought more harm than good brought along heartache, but it was these words that “broke” my heart… ”Although I know we both feel very unloved by God at times, I pray that He will see us both through this.” 

My heart anguished for them, especially since the daughter is the same age as mine.  My pleas before God became fervent.  I begged for ways to give them hope; I begged for ways to show that He had never abandoned them.  I begged for His words and for His ways because nothing of me could do anything, but I knew it was only He who had the wisdom and the power to accomplish anything.  I begged and I begged because I wanted them to receive the same comfort and reassurance God gave me at my times of distress. 2 Cor 1:3

As I prayed and as I pleaded, my anguish appeared to grow deeper.  I eventually realized that I was searching in the wrong place.  Although I was praying, I was still searching for solutions and ways of the world.  Romans 8:5-7 God had reminded me that the solution was in being transformed by the renewing of my mind.  Romans 12:2  Finally, I sought solace and comfort in His word and God gave them to me…

Psalm 116 I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”…  The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.  I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 118It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

13You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation…. 17I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.  18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”

That evening, as many praised and worshipped God during our time of Adoration, I wandered off to the first five Stations of the Cross along the Parish walls.  I had just received a teaching on Simon of Cyrene, the one who helped Jesus carry His cross, and I knew God would communicate there.  The cross Jesus carried weighed about 300 pounds (1.36 kg).  It was not enough that Jesus was flogged with a leather whip with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs prior to carrying the cross, but the floggings continued while He carried it to its final destination.

To my surprise, the meaning of all these insights didn’t ring true until I shared them with the congregation.  I sensed our Father say that He is aware of what each of us is going through.  He knows that many times, our trials and tribulations feel like we are carrying a 300 pound cross and He is also aware of the added floggings we receive on top of that.  He reminds us that He has sent other “Simons of Cyrene” to help us carry our cross through their prayers, kindness and compassion.  But more importantly, He wants us to remember that Jesus is also there carrying the cross with us and He knows exactly what we are going through.

That wasn’t all… our Father wants to remind us not to focus on our problems.  Just as those who ski adventurously among the trees, if we focus on the trees (our problems), we will definitely ski right into one.  Instead, He invites us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  He calls us to rest and to be still before Him.  Transformation doesn’t come immediately.  It is a gradual process.  As we sit and wait, we rest.  As we delve into His word, we are “informed, conformed and then transformed”.

Father God, thank You for not leaving us orphaned.  Although You are exalted and on high, You continue to care for the humble and the lowly.  Although we walk in the midst of trouble, You revive us; You stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of those who persecute us, the wrath of our difficult circumstances and our diseases and Your right hand saves us.  Thank You Father that You accomplish what concerns us.  Your loving kindness, O Lord, is everlasting.  Thank You that on the day I called, You answered me. You, alone, make me bold with strength in my soul.  Psalm 138  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 24, 2015

REFLECTION: The invitation… (Part 1)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

Did you receive your invitation?  Will you be going?  The invite seems to be open to all.  Didn’t it say “Come…all who are weary and heavy-laden?”  I’m not weary nor heavy-laden at the moment, but can I still come?  I’ll let others with greater needs go ahead.   I’m fine at the moment, but eventually, I’d like to find that rest too.

If you received such an invitation, would you go?  I believe many would show interest, however, once people realize it is God who is inviting, many would reconsider.  Would you?  What stance would you take?

Father God, from the moment Adam and Eve turned their backs on You, You have been pursuing man.  You’ve been inviting each to a beautiful, intimate and loving relationship with You and yet many of us have chosen other lovers, other gods.  Forgive us Lord, we believe we know what we are doing, but the truth is, we really don’t.  Just as in Hosea 4:1, we have intentionally rejected knowledge of You.  We are so willing to listen and to respond to the invitation of all others, but when we realize it is You who is beckoning us, we respond with deaf ears and glazed eyes.  Have mercy on us Lord.  We do not know what we are doing.

Father, when we finally realize that it is You who we need, please let there still be time to find You.  Father, let the faithful remnants intercede for those who still remain blind.  Lord Jesus, please continue to intercede for mankind.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 3, 2015

REFLECTION: Connection…

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Last night, as I hacked away with a horrid coughing fit, I connected with God.  Although it was in the wee hours of the morning, an earnest and fervent plea went up to our Father, asking for help and perseverance.  Although the cough persisted for a while, through the promptings and grace of the Holy Spirit, my thoughts moved from myself to others who were struggling with another ailment or another.  The focus was no longer on my own discomfort, but as I lifted my struggle on behalf of others, my temporary agony became meaningful and prayerful for another.  Eventually, I fell back to sleep… in deep peace.

What does prayer mean to you?  A few of the definitions given by Webster’s Dictionary is “to entreat; to implore; to make a request in a humble manner.”  In truth, prayer goes deeper than that.  To many, prayer is connecting and receiving the love of the One who created us.  “But how is that possible?” some may ask.  Some have gotten into the habit of very quickly reciting one prayer after another which were penned by another.  There isn’t anything wrong with learning how to pray through the prayer of another, but if the prayer is recited very quickly without sincerity or comprehension, then the prayer is merely a babble… doing nothing for the person who is praying.  Some feel they need to fulfill their daily religious duty, but has this activity benefited them in any way aside from lifting the guilt of duty?

Praying is an encounter with God.  Words aren’t necessary.  Often times, God calls us to merely “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10  Fr. Owen Scott teaches that you can’t know God unless you are still.  What brilliant insight!  If we continue to run on the treadmill of life, busy doing our own things, in our own strength, we fail to know God, let alone ourselves.  Perhaps many hop on the treadmill, preferring not to know themselves?

God doesn’t benefit from our prayers, but it is the one who is willing to sit before the feet of God that does.  Every prayer is an encounter with God and every encounter is life transforming.  It may not be visible in the physical world, but something happens in the spiritual realm.  “God is spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth” John 4:24    We can be comforted by His promise… “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18 

I am both intrigued and saddened to learn that there are some who attempt to connect with God through many other means, aside from the Christian faith.  Mike Shreves (http://thetruelight.net/myspiritualjourney.htm) writes “the idea that Christianity was the only way to God, to the exclusion of all other religions, just seemed too narrow-minded, too unreasonable. Besides, I decided I could no longer embrace something just because it was part of my cultural or family ‘belief system.’ I purposed to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and start from a pure and unbiased beginning point.”

I fail to grasp his logic, if there is any.  Didn’t Jesus teach “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”?  John 14:6 Jesus definitely proclaimed that He is the only way to the Father and yet, in spite of wanting to experience God, Mike’s search began in Far Eastern religions.  As always, God never forces Himself on anyone and He allows each to search for Him in his/her own free-willed way.

It took Shreves a longer time to find God, but thankfully, he found Him back in the Christian faith.  It never fails to amaze me that “…in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Shreve’s round-about manner of searching for God intrigued me.  He writes… ”Dismissing Christianity without fully exploring its claims would be unfair – unfair to me and unfair to the One who claimed to be the Savior of the world. I realized I had never really given Jesus an opportunity to prove himself. So I concluded, “If he really was who he claimed to be, and if I don’t test his teachings, I might miss the very thing I’ve been searching for. Besides, if Jesus allowed himself to be crucified for the salvation of the human race, I owe it to him to at least open my heart to the possibility of his claims being true.”  So one morning, though it involved an inward struggle, instead of following my usual yoga routine, I decided to dedicate one day to the Lord Jesus Christ!”  One day!?!  I shake my head.  This fellow definitely has an extremely radical and convoluted approach in life and yet… Jesus met him that day!

Father, thank you for promising that when we call on You and come and pray to You, You will listen.  Thank you for promising that when we seek You, we will find You  when we search for You with all our heartJeremiah 29:12-13  Teach us to search for You, not because we want something of You, but because we want to know you intimately from our heart.  Father, knowing you from our mind is no longer enough.  Teach us to search for You with all our heart and thank You that when we do, You will be there.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – February 26, 2015

REFLECTION: In search of understanding… Part 2

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Is ignorance bliss?  Perhaps it was in the innocent, simpler days of the past.   Unfortunately, in today’s world, it could be extremely dangerous.

During our travel to the east coast of the United States, a road trip from Rhode Island to NYC brought us unexpectedly to the Bronx.  The GPS was on, but as often is the case, directions got a tad screwed up when the voice said “turn” when there was no open road to turn into.  Well aware of where we had landed, my husband very quickly attempted to drive us out of the area.  It was only when we were back on the freeway that he had revealed we had just “visited” the Bronx.  Ignorant of the potential danger, I excitedly commented that I had always wanted to visit the Bronx, however, a simple google search reveals that getting lost in the Bronx could be extremely dangerous as the law does not apply in certain places.  Oops!

Let’s get back to yoga.  My goal in writing this reflection is not to attack those practising yoga, but to shed some light on what actually takes place so that each can make an educated decision.  Ignorance is not bliss.   One may attain a beautiful and healthy body as a result of a good workout, but has anyone considered the hidden cost?  How many, among the multitudes who have been swayed by the invigorating hype of the yoga trend, have considered the long term emotional and spiritual effect of the practise?  Is it actually what they claim it to be, or is the hype just a temporary guise, hiding the wolf beneath the sheep skin?

Have you heard of any who has been hurt along the way?  I have and that one had asked for an exorcist.  But if they spoke, would anyone stop to listen?  They would probably be brushed off and be considered the odd one out.  Nevertheless, through fervent prayer, perhaps one or more who have had an uncomfortable brush with some paranormal activity would rethink their involvement in the practise.

Perhaps it is the extra-sensitive ones who get hurt.  Although it wasn’t yoga, I was one who had been hurt in the midst of taking a self-enhancement seminar.  The course had boasted “to prepare you to take your next step in life, with excellence”.   Unfortunately, I didn’t take the next step in life with excellence;  Instead, I took the next step into deep depression.  Ignorance is NOT bliss.

“What could be wrong with stretching, twisting, bending, breathing, sweating it out and getting the body in shape, regardless of the method used?” asks Mike Shreves in his article, Five Main Reasons Why I No Longer Practice Hatha Yoga!  (http://thetruelight.net/booksections/articles/nohathayoga.htm.)  Having taught Kundalini Yoga at four universities in Florida, he continues, “Absolutely nothing if that’s all there was to it. However, there are some definite negatives that are almost always, to one degree or another, attached to a yoga experience. Usually, this makes it, not only unwise, but ill-advised for Christians to participate.”

In her article Yoga 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Practice, Meditation, and the Sutras (http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/yoga-questions-answered/) Cyndi Lee introduces yoga… “The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” or a method of discipline.”  Had I not been warned that there are potential dangers in the practise, I would have ignored the other definitions and would have immediately accepted that it was simply a method of discipline.  However, isn’t the word defined as yoke or bound?  Should anyone be concerned?  Did she clarify what one would eventually be yoked or bound to?  I am of the impression that mankind has been fighting  to break free from the shackles and ways of the world.  Why would one, then, want to be yoked or bound once again?

She expands, “The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago. The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga.”  She continues by explaining each.  The pratyahara and the Samadhi limbs, in particular, disturb me.  Pratyahara is defined as “withdrawal of senses” while Samadhi is defined as “absorption”.  I believe that not only has God given us our senses to enable us to enjoy the beauty of this world, but they are also given so we can discern the danger around us.  Have any of the yoginis (those who practise yoga) considered the dangers caused by withdrawing their senses?

Leprosy is a disease which diminishes the sense of touch.  Those who are infected are well aware of the potential dangers they now face because their sense of touch can no longer warn them of the proximity of fire or a hot liquid nor can they feel when they have injured or cut themselves.  As to the Samadhi (absorption)limb, I would be very careful about this as one should be very clear about what one is absorbing.  Subliminal messages come to mind.  Lee further mentions that the Sutra is a collection of 195 statements which serves as yoga’s philosophical guidebook.  Are the yoginis aware of what these statements are?   Ignorance IS dangerous…

“The word hatha means willful or forceful.  Hatha yoga refers to a set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body—especially the main channel, the spine—so that energy can flow freely.”  Lee fails to expand that the energy released is the Kundalini force cautioned about in Part 1 of this reflection.

“Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. Hatha yoga is a path toward creating balance and uniting opposites. In our physical bodies we develop a balance of strength and flexibility. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.”  Surrender to whom or what?

I believe, by now, the reader has gotten the gist of my concern.  The word gullible comes to mind, but I do not like that terminology.  It makes me feel as if I have been conned into something or that I have not exercised caution.

There is no doubt many have benefited tremendously from yoga.  The great influx and passion for yoga boasts that.  Nevertheless, I am of the impression that many Christian teachers and yoginis have become aware of the dangers involved and so they alter the program to an extent so that they are able to put the stamp of Christianity on it and hence the term Christian Yoga. But is it possible to blend yoga and Christianity together?  Is that not watering down Jesus’ Gospel?  I may be wrong, but is that not similar to blending Hinduism and Christianity into one?  I ask for God’s wisdom…

God bless,

Melissa – March 3, 2015

p.s. – the reader is encouraged to read http://thetruelight.net/booksections/articles/nohathayoga.htm to familiarize himself/herself to the 5 Reasons Christians are advised not to practice yoga.

 

REFLECTION: In search of understanding… Part 1

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

 

As if it was time to immerse myself, once again, into study, a friend had sent new links to yoga.  Unlike what I had encountered before, these were first-hand accounts of those who had personally delved heavily into the practise… a new perspective which I would not have been able to experience myself.

Kundalini yoga…  the term didn’t register then, but this time, after listening to two testimonies, I began to search deeper.   Although I can’t find it now, perhaps a blessing in disguise, I had come across a clip that was supposed to teach the viewer how to awaken his/her kundalini in a short period of time.  Thankfully, before he began, the speaker had given a word of caution.  He clearly stated that once you went forward, there was no turning back.  That was my signal to disconnect IMMEDIATELY!

http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/index.html, a site that is supposed to be “the world’s most popular site for Kundalini Yoga” opens with…

Shakti the Serpent bids you “Sat Nam!” and welcome to Kundalini Yoga, the mother of all yogas and the most powerful yoga known. As brought to the West in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan, it produces results 16 times faster than ordinary yoga.

Its power comes from the Kundalini, an enormous reserve of untapped potential within each of us. It is normally depicted as a coiled or sleeping serpent, located in an area towards the base of the spine.

By gradually and safely awakening this serpent and employing its power, you will benefit greatly from an elevation in consciousness, promotion of physical well-being and an expansion of awareness. You will feel more relaxed and at ease with yourself. Your life will be transformed into one which is happy, healthy & harmonious.”

I’m not sure about you, but I find it eerie to be greeted by a serpent.  “By gradually and safely awakening this serpent and employing its power, you will benefit greatly from an elevation in consciousness, promotion of physical well-being and an expansion of awareness.”   An elevation in consciousness and expansion of awareness…  Where have we heard this before?  My mind immediately goes to Genesis 3 where the serpent tempts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.  For God knows that when you eat of it (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Genesis 3:4-5 

Are you sensing what I’m sensing?  I’m beginning to get an inkling that this isn’t going to be good…

From its site http://www.lululemon.com/education/yoga/kundalini-yoga, Lululemon summarizes kundalini yoga as such…

“Relatively new to the Western Hemisphere, Kundalini, “the yoga of awareness,” opens your heart, builds strength and releases the energy located at the base of your spine. Each teacher will bring their own experience to the practice — some much more traditional than others — but Kundalini is without a doubt one of the more spiritual styles of yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on breath and movement and challenges its students both physically and mentally.

origins

Kundalini is one of the oldest forms of yoga – it has been practiced by the Upanishads in India since 500 B.C. Mastering the practice at sixteen, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini to the West in 1969. Initially, it was never taught publicly until Bhajan challenged its secrecy and taught Kundalini openly to the public and consequently established the 3HO, which stands for “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization.”

benefits

Kundalini literally means “coiled” and is represented by a metaphorical coiled snake at the base of your spine. The purpose of Kundalini practice is to uncoil your snake and release that energy within. Health, strength, fitness and overall happiness benefits are included.

good for beginners?

There might be a bit of shock factor: no doubt, Kundalini is much different than other forms of yoga. Expect to dance, jump, hold long poses, and breathe deeply and repeatedly – no two classes are the same! It is great for beginners as it has the flexibility to push past your comfort zone as well as offering the ability to go at your own pace.”

As depicted by Lululemon, there doesn’t seem to be anything harmful, although the phrase  “There might be a bit of  shock factor” could be regarded as a pre-cautionary warning for those who are insightful.  But what about those who fail to grasp this insight?

The article “Is a Kundalini Awakening Safe?” (http://www.yogajournal.com/article/history-of-yoga/safe-awaken-snake/) reveals much more…

“According to Tantra, kundalini energy rests like a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this dormant energy flows freely upward through the seven chakras (energy centers) and leads to an expanded state of consciousness, it’s known as a kundalini awakening.

For some, the experience can be blissful and filled with feelings of love and a sense of the interconnectedness of all things. For others, it can feel more like a bad drug trip, or even a psychotic break, where practitioners go through altered sleep cycles, changes in identity, or depression. This discrepancy has led many Westerners to fear the coiled serpent resting in their spine, ready to strike.

Meditation teacher Sally Kempton had such an awakening in her late 20s, and while she acknowledges that the experience may be scary for those who are without an experienced teacher to guide them, she believes that awakenings are a gift from the universe. “In our tradition, we honor and respect kundalini,” she says. “Her energy is trying to awaken you, expand you, and put you in touch with your own deep energy, which is a fundamentally benign process.”

However, according to Kempton and Stuart Sovatsky, a psychotherapist specializing in spiritual work, kundalini awakenings are rare in Western students because hatha yoga is practiced in a less spontaneous way today. “People are trying to hold the poses in a certain way, as opposed to doing poses that release energy blocks specific to their body,” says Sovatsky.

Still, many teachers caution against attempts to induce an awakening through intense Pranayama or other methods. Instead, it should occur spontaneously, when the body is ready. In Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein explains why: “If you don’t first open the central channels of the nervous system, raising the serpent power along the axial pathway is not only impossible but also very dangerous to attempt, for instead of entering the central channel (sushumna nadi) it is likely to force itself in to the ida or the pingala nadi, on either side of the central channel, causing immense havoc in the body and mind.”

Kundalini reminds us that consciousness is far vaster than most of us have ever imagined, which can seem overwhelming and disorienting. But Sovatsky says that people who have a psychotic break from an awakening usually come from a troubled family background, face high levels of stress, and don’t have enough emotional support. Still, both Sovatsky and Kempton recommend that anyone who is fearful in the midst of such an awakening should seek support from a therapist (such as a transpersonal psychologist) or a teacher who has gone through it herself.”

Does Lululemon’s summary of Kundali Yoga suffice to warn its clients of its potential dangers?  I don’t think so.  Should a client experience a psychotic break, does the blame then go to the individual’s troubled family background, high level of stress and lack of emotional support?  I shouldn’t think so, and yet what is a troubled client to do?

During the summer, as I walked towards the gathering place for our weekly Prayer Meeting, an acquaintance had approached me after attending Mass.  She enquired if I knew of an exorcist here in Vancouver.  An exorcist?  An exorcist!  She knew of one who had begun to see the devil regularly at night.  I asked if the individual knew the source and the answer was plain and simple… “she thinks it was yoga.”

My cry of agony and plea to God to save and release this young one bombarded Heaven.  My previous circulations warning about the dangers of yoga didn’t reach this one.  The mom was on my mailing list, but the message was not received.  And so, this time I write in hopes of exposing more of the dangers involved.

God bless,

Melissa

p.s.-

Wikepedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini) sites the following physical and psychological effects as a result of awakening Kundalini…

 “Physical effects are believed to be a sign of Kundalini awakening by some,[32] but described as unwanted side effects pointing to a problem rather than progress by others.[30]The following are either common signs of an awakened Kundalini or symptoms of a problem associated with an awakening Kundalini (commonly referred to as Kundalini syndrome):

  • Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
  • Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
  • Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
  • Spontaneous pranayamaasanasmudras and bandhas
  • Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
  • Diminished or conversely extreme sexual desire sometimes leading to a state of constant or whole-body orgasm
  • Emotional upheavals or surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain repressed emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time.[25]
  • Headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull
  • Increased blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
  • Emotional numbness
  • Antisocial tendencies
  • Mood swings with periods of depression or mania
  • Pains in different areas of the body, especially back and neck
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Trance-like and altered states of consciousness
  • Disrupted sleep pattern (periods of insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness

Reports about the Sahaja Yoga technique of Kundalini awakening state that the practice can result in a cool breeze felt on the fingertips as well as on the fontanel bone area.[20][33] One study has measured a drop in temperature on the palms of the hands resulting from this technique.[32]

REFLECTION: The call… / (Sacrifice)

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

 

Has God asked anything of you lately?  Do you realize that whatever He’s asked for is, in truth, not for Himself but in fact for you?

What does God ask of humanity?  He calls us to believe in His existence and in His love in order to offer us salvation.  He asks for our faith and trust in Him in order to offer us comfort and hope when we are in doubt and despair.  He calls us to rest in Him when we are weary and over-burdened.   He beckons to us, inviting us to prayer and to read His Word because He knows that we need to know Him and experience His love.  He calls us to obey and follow Him so that we may live life, not in hardship or mediocrity, but life to the full!

Each of us is called to an intimate and personal relationship with God.  But that isn’t all.  Before He died, Jesus prayed for us to His Heavenly Father.  He prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent me.” John 17:20-22  Jesus expressed His desire for our unity…not only a unity of His original apostles, but a unity for all who have followed in their footsteps, generation by generation.

You see, although God calls each of us to have a personal relationship with Him, He doesn’t call us to stand independently of each other.  He calls Christians from near and far, from far and wide, young and old alike, to come together as ONE, united in Him.  We ARE the body of Christ.  We are called to be a community, a body which cannot be separate.  We are called to love each other.

In 1 Peter 2:4-6 we read “As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus.”  In 70 AD, God’s temple in Jerusalem was forever destroyed, never to be rebuilt again.   But today, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God uses each Christian as a living stone to build His Church.

A majority of rocks and stones are collected from quarries.  When they are first blasted off and cut off from boulders, they are jagged, rough and extremely dusty.  Each of us is like these recently blasted rocks in our early encounters with Jesus.   Many of us arrive dazed and shell shocked from the many painful blasts of life.  Many of us believe that nothing good and/or beautiful can come out of us.  However, as we spend time with God and as we allow Him into our lives, the chiselling, chipping, washing and polishing begins and as our relationship and our journey develops, our beauty within is revealed.  Undeniably, the process is painful, but with God given perseverance and graces, we endure and gradually our beauty is disclosed.

I am reminded of a story of a master builder who was building a special wall in the palace for the king.  Knowing that many would admire his work, he chose to incorporate precious stones among the sturdier ones that would support the wall.  As he stood back to examine the layer he just laid, he heard a ruckus coming from one of the precious stones.  “Sir”, the precious stone exclaimed, “I am one of your precious gems which you have incorporated into this wall.  Look at my colours and look how I glisten when the light falls on me.   But sir, I believe you’ve made a minor error.  That rock which you have put above me has a protrusion that is sitting right on my shoulder.  I cannot continue beaming for the king if that protrusion continues to poke into me.”  The master builder looked closer.   Carefully, he examined the wall and then he exclaimed, “You are right!  I see what the problem is.”  He then took the protruding stone from the wall and examined it and then gently put it down.  He, in turn, pulled out the gleaming gem and examined it.  As he took another look at the protruding stone on the ground, a smile came to his face and he exclaimed, “I’ve got the solution!”  The master took his pick and He whacked the gem open just enough so that the protrusion of the other stone would sit comfortably over it.

God builds His temple out of living stones.  We are those stones.  As we say “yes” to His promptings, God chisels, grinds and polishes each one exactly the way He knows will bring out the very best in us.  We are the living stones that God uses to build his Holy Temple and He has planned a specific spot for each.

What is God, our Father, asking of you this year?  Has He asked you to exercise more patience towards another or has He asked you to let go of your excessive demands over another?  Ask Him what He requires of you.  It is difficult to truly grasp why God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  We have a hint that God was testing both their faith, but wouldn’t you think God’s call on both Abraham and Isaac overly excessive?  And yet, through God’s grace, each was able to fulfill what was asked of them.  What is God asking of you so you can be used to build His holy temple?

In closing, I invite you to watch a powerful clip that accompanies a song penned by Bob Fitts…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcjkJp9VxY8 .  (Do note that the sacrifice of Abraham parallel’s the sacrifice God made of His Son, Jesus.  Notice that it is Isaac, the son, who is carrying the wood just as it is Jesus, the Son, who carries the cross; the wood to be used for the sacrifice.  Take note that God provides a sacrifice for Abraham, but it is a ram.  The true living sacrifice will be Jesus, the Lamb of God.)

God bless,

Melissa – January 10, 2015

p.s. -

SACRIFICE
by Bob Fitts

Oh this must be the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed;
for I must sacrifice you promised son of mine.
And so I go to worship with you by my side
and trust a sacrifice He will provide.

And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
to Him who is the giver of all good things.
And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
for surely He could raise you up again.

Here on this altar Father I lay all my dreams
and offer back to you this child You’ve given me.
Oh son you must believe He’s called us to obey
and by His love He’ll make a better way.

And though I cherish you, I must now offer you
to Him who is the giver of all good things.
And though I cherish you, I will now offer you,
for surely He will raise you up again.

Oh Abraham, Oh Abraham,
now that I know you fear My name, withhold your hand.
Oh Abraham, oh faithful man,
your only son, he’s not the one,
behold the ram,
behold the Lamb…

It must have been the hardest thing He’d ever done,
when God the father sacrificed His only son.
The One that He most cherished gave His life away
and by His love, He made a better way.

And so I cherish You, and so I honour You.
You truly are the giver of all good things.
And so I cherish You, and so I honour You,
Your sacrifice is now the King of kings.

Jehovah-Jireh, He has provided,
the sacrifice of love no man could ever give
and what He requires of you and me, even the hardest thing,
Your blood of Christ, Your Sacrifice is made straight to obey.

Full Song Lyrics: http://www.lyrster.com//www.lyrster.com/lyrics/sacrifice-lyrics-bob-fitts.html#ixzz3OSO8vUtk

REFLECTION: A prayer for the new year…

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

 

Father God, as we begin our journey into 2015, we invite You to walk with us. We ask You, dear Holy Spirit, to inspire us and plant a deep desire in us to spend time with our Father. Renew our minds, Lord, and we ask for the grace to see good in others and in ourselves. Many of us have been hard on ourselves, Lord, and we are unable to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes. You forgive us Father and so we ask for Your grace to release ourselves from our broken past.

Lord Jesus, You came into this world as an infant on Christmas, not so that we can have a holiday when and where we have an excuse to eat excessively and be showered with glitz and glamour. You came Lord, on that Christmas night, so that 33 years from then, You could take on the sins of humankind and release us from the shackles of sin. You died Lord, but the Holy Spirit raised You again and You are alive and well. We invite You once again into our hearts, confessing that we have sinned and we need You, Lord Jesus, to live the full life our Father had intended us to have from the very beginning.

Father God, there are several of us who walk into 2015 with ailments. Many have been touched by cancer and other illnesses. Others have been injured by accidents and/or by the words, actions and/or lack of these by others. Father, many have also lost loved ones and they are hurting and grieving beyond words. Father, only You can bring healing. We ask for Your healing touch over all and we ask that as You touch and heal, these very ones will see that it is You who had healed them. Open their spiritual eyes so that the enemy cannot deceive them nor take credit for what You do.

We acknowledge that the enemy can also heal, but at a great cost. Unfortunately, many are not aware of this price… the loss of freedom into more bondage of sin, be it from spiritual possession or other spiritual stronghold or the from consequences of what we have openly chosen to be engaged in.

Bring emotional, mental, physical and spiritual healing into each one Lord and thank YOU for blessing us with a new year. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – January 1, 2015