Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

REFLECTION: What language do you speak?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine sent an article called “Proof and Art of Persuasion”.  Within a few seconds, without my knowledge, a bias within me began to grow.  It took an entire day, as I continued to reflect on why I had difficulty reading the article, to realize what had happened.  Apparently, I’ve always sensed a negative connotation with the word “persuasion” and the author’s choice of describing it as an art made me livid.

Isn’t it interesting to recognize how unspoken words have an effect on another?  What language would you say is universal to all?  Would you say it is English?  I don’t think so… since I’ve struggled communicating in English with some who are new to Canada.  The language which I believe everyone, including animals, understands is body language.   Based on my experience, even an infant is able to tap into the stress and tension when another is upset.

As we carry on in our daily lives, although we may not say much to another, how we carry ourselves as we “silently” mingle in and out of crowds speaks volumes.  Do you make an effort to meet the glance of another? And when you do, do you immediately look away or do you pause and smile at the other?  As a teller gives you your change and your receipt, do you hastily take them and walk off with your purchase without a word of gratitude?  As you minister to another, do you speak and treat them with gentleness or do you speak from a spiritual superiority?  Unfortunately, our actions or lack of them speak louder than our words.

In her latest conference, Sr. Ann Shields asks a powerful question… “What do people see when they see us as Christians?  Do they see love?  Do they see joy?  Do they see courage, strength and hope in the midst of trials?  In truth, it would be beneficial if we all seriously pondered over this.

I am reminded of the following story…  “A driver did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman behind him went ballistic, pounding on her horn and screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to drive through the intersection with him. Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m awfully sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the “Choose Life” license plate holder, the “What Would Jesus Do?” bumper sticker, the “Follow me to Sunday School” bumper sticker and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.

“Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.””

Father, forgive us for not living transformed lives.  Often times, we carry on like the rest of the world, without any indication that You live within us.  Father draw us closer to You and give us the grace to delve deeper into Your Word so that we can live Your truth, Your joy… Your love.  If not, the world will not be willing to listen when we are called to speak Your truth.  Come Holy Spirit, fill us more with the Love of the Father so that we will be able to live the language of God… the language of love.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – December 1, 2014

REFLECTION: Falling plates…

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Falling plates.  This sounds like an odd topic, but it won’t be after you watch this link…  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlx11BxF24

Having used this clip as a teaching tool, I’ve watched it over and over repeatedly to grasp as much of what its creator had attempted to communicate.  It speaks volumes, but I choose to focus only on a few.  In my presentation, I chose to focus on the first portion because all in our Prayer Group are fully aware of the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us.

Would you consider watching the clip again until 2:10?  There are two items which I would encourage you to look out for.  Look for the glass of water and the computer power level once the device is unplugged.

The single drop of ink in that crystal clear glass of water intrigued me.  A mere drop of ink was sufficient to taint the entire glass of water!  That was exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden.  It was a single disobedience, a choice to mistrust God, that caused mankind to fall.  God and man originally had a beautiful friendship, but once both woman and man consciously chose to turn their back on God, that friendship was severed and the consequence of that act caused concupiscence (the tendency for man to sin) to enter into the nature of mankind.  Drawing back to your memory of the glass of water, did you notice how that drop of ink began to swirl and then to disperse and contaminate the entire content in that glass?  That glass of water represents us.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 We’re all tainted.  Thankfully, we have a compassionate, forgiving and a patient God who willingly forgives us time and time again when we come back to Him each time we fall.

As we studied through the Book of Judges, Bible instructor Jeff Cavins taught… “everyone did right in their own eyes.”  Sound familiar?  That concept runs rampid today.  The definition of what is right is now more often based on each individual’s discretion. Unfortunately, when God left man to himself, the ugliness and evil within man became his own snare and adversary.   Jeff adds, “when you enter into sin, sin becomes a snare for you.  The more you sin, the more ensnared you become to that sin.” Jeff also points out that the Israelites repeatedly went through 7 identical cycles…

1)      SIN (do what is evil in God’s eyes)

2)      ENSLAVEMENT (to sin)

3)      SUPPLICATION (cry out to God: help us, we know we’ve sinned)

4)      SALVATION (God brings a deliverer/deliverance)

5)      SILENCE (man begins to forget what God has done and he loses his relationship with God)

… and the cycle begins again.

Does that speak to you?  It does to me.  Sadly, I see myself falling into the same cycle the Israelites had fallen into.  Thankfully, through God’s grace, it doesn’t take that long for me to realize I have done wrong and I immediately ask for His forgiveness and He quickly gets into step with me again.  However, I do still recall those times when it took a longer time for me to admit the wrong I was engaged in.  Agony, anger, frustration, helplessness and hopelessness are only a few of the words that describe the state I found myself in until I was ready to acknowledge that I needed God in my life once again.

While watching, did you notice the man spinning a plate on a stick?  That represents us too.   Do you recall how the plates began to fall when man chose to cut himself away from God?   We try to keep our plates (lives; dreams) upright and spinning, but as we focus on that, we are unable to enjoy the beauty surrounding us and we have to keep on spinning and spinning the plates around regardless of how tired we are.

Did you notice how quickly the power source dwindled the moment the computer was unplugged?  That’s us too.  The programs are still intact in the computer, but the power quickly runs dry.   Although the computer is still functional, it becomes useless because its power source has been depleted.  Our body continues to exist, but the drive is gone; the purpose, joy and fulfillment no longer exists…

Are you tired and weary?  Have you accidentally tripped over the wiring and unplugged your “computer”?  How many plates are you twirling at the same time?  Have you spent sleepless nights attempting to keep those plates upright and twirling?  I think you’ve got my message.

Watch the clip again and this time, please watch it to the end.  The Solution is there, waiting for you

God bless,

Melissa – November 14, 2014

REFLECTION: When God speaks / The bearer of LIGHT

Friday, November 7th, 2014

 

From time to time, when God reveals something to me, I am left scratching my head… With the lights dimmed and as we praised and worshipped God, in my mind, I saw balls of fire falling from the dark sky on to open fields. The town’s people noticed them too and they ran to every landing point to see what had caught on fire. To their dismay, nothing did.

Having time to reflect, I am not surprised of what I “saw”. Our prayer group was singing “Come Holy Spirit, let Your fire fall. Let Your fire fall…” I believe God was showing that His Holy Spirit was being poured out, but I couldn’t understand why no one caught the fire. Fervent prayer revealed it later.

A few days later, I came across the following Scripture verses:
Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” John 12: 35-36

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. John 12: 46-47

A childhood song called “This Little Light of Mine” came to mind and the 2 stanzas “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” and “Don’t let Satan blow it out” kept repeating in my mind.

The following day, the 9:00 Mass Choir sang …

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Receive the Power, from the Holy Spirit!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Receive the Power to be a light unto the world

… the lyrics from one of the World Youth Day theme songs called “Receive the Power”. As they sang the refrain, the dots began to connect! You can’t catch the fire of the Holy Spirit through human effort. It is a gift from God! It is through our friendship and our relationship with God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit (the love exchanged between the Father and the Son) that the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit is anointed on one so that you and I can and will be a light unto the world!

The revelation brings joy as the mystery of the vision is solved, but the truth revealed brings a lot of heartache. Much of our world is in darkness and people are looking for the light. From time to time they see glimpses of the light coming from Heaven, but only few are being set on fire. They see that the source of light comes down from above, but they continue to choose to turn their backs on Heaven. Many have turned to themselves, being their own god, each doing what is right in their own eyes. “They live in darkness and they do not know what they are doing.”

Father God, forgive us for turning our backs on You. You are the source of our life. You have created us to function so efficiently that we don’t have to exert any effort to breathe or to make our hearts pump. Unfortunately, because of this self-sufficiency, we take for granted Your gift of life and our need for a relationship with You. We have become complacent, Lord, and we take the easiest route in life.

Lord, You have allowed our technology to grow in leaps and bounds, but Father, the products that arise from these advancements are the very things that keep us away from You and Your people. We are afraid to face our shortcomings and our errors, and instead of making every effort to improve ourselves, Lord, we hide behind the comfort these advancements have brought.

The silence that we need to know ourselves and You are filled with the noise and the distractions of the latest gadgets. We continue to run to these things to fill the emptiness that grows within us, thinking that these temporary fixes will be able to accumulate and fill the depth of emptiness within. And Lord, when reality sets in and we are hit by the waves of deep emptiness and loneliness, we blame it all on You. Forgive us Lord. Open our spiritual eyes and hearts so we can grasp that You are the Only One who can fill that emptiness that You had created in Your shape. We are created in your image and likeness. We forget that because of this, your spirit calls to our spirit. We try, Lord, to fill the void with the created, but no one can fill the space that was meant to be filled only by the CREATOR. Fill us with You Lord and renew a right spirit within us. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – This Little Light of mine

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. (3x)
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

All around the neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine. (3x)
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine. (3x)
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

REFLECTION: Are you really listening?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Several months ago, I came across a skit of the Lord’s Prayer on Youtube.  The skit opens with a smiling woman with a magazine in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.  She sits herself comfortably down on a lounge chair and you can see that she is looking forward to a relaxing time, sipping her coffee while she flips through the magazine’s pages.  As she glances at the side table before she puts her coffee mug down, her eyes come across a Bible.  Her demeanor immediately changes.  The smile is now gone and with a sigh, she takes the Bible and begins to pray through the Lord’s Prayer…

She begins…”Our Father, who art in heaven…”  A gentle voice replies, “Yes?”  The woman is startled and she eventually asks, “You mean you’re really listening to this prayer, God?”

Isn’t that an interesting question?  Don’t we expect God to listen when we pray?  The woman mentions that she recites the prayer as part of her religious duty and she actually prompts God to hurry it up as she looks at her watch because this conversation is taking longer than she expected.  In fact, she never expected this conversation to begin with!

God calls each of us into an intimate and personal relationship with Him and there’s no better way to develop that relationship than when we spend time with Him in prayer.  Unfortunately, the woman realizes that her prayer time would go much quicker if He would step out of the picture and if He would allow her to quickly ramble on, finishing her memorized prayer.  But what about the relationship?  At first she doesn’t seem to care for it, but as they converse a little longer, she begins to understand the importance of it.

Father God, we ask that You put a hunger in our hearts for moments spent with you.  Father, we don’t know how to be quiet and to be still anymore.  In fact Lord, we don’t want to be still because we are afraid to see what is within ourselves. Forgive us Lord and renew us in You.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

May our Father speak to you as you watch this 8 minute, 51 seconds clip… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLVzV9n69UY

God bless,

Melissa – October 1, 2014

p.s. – A copy of this script is available on…http://www.armenianchurch-ed.net/uploaded_files/tinymce/files/christian_education/A%20Skit%20on%20the%20Lord%E2%80%99s%20Prayer%20(Upper%20Elementary-High%20School)%20.pdf

REFLECTION: Less we forget…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

 

It’s been 8 days and so many things have taken place since, that it seems so long ago.  And yet, it was only 8 days ago and I had almost forgotten.

An e-mail had arrived on February 4th this year, asking for prayers.  He had been diagnosed with inoperable terminal cancer 5 days earlier and he was told he didn’t have much time left.  Many had stormed Heaven’s gate for him and our loving God gave him extra time.  I believe he referred to each additional day as EBD (extra bonus day) or something to that extent.  One EBD after another…which  added up to about 7 more extra months with him here on planet earth!

It was mentioned that not once did he complain nor did he question “why”.  At that thought, I shake my head, knowing that my faith is nothing compared to what he had.

I met his friend, Randy, after Mass on a Saturday, where I was informed of Eric’s passing.  He had mentioned that Eric still had the strength and the coherence to text him the day before.  What struck me the most about Erik’s passing was that he had taken a shower and he dressed himself before he passed.  Can you believe that?  He prepared himself physically to meet his maker!  I had confirmed this with his sister and she said the family had chatted with him when he returned to bed and later, while they gave him time alone to rest, Jesus had come to take Erik Home.

Although I didn’t know him, I choose not to forget and I pray I will not forget how Erik bravely lived his life after his cancer diagnosis.

Not long after, another who I knew as an acquaintance had also succumbed to cancer, exactly 3 weeks from the day she was diagnosed.  As with Eric, I attended her funeral, and God helped me remember how important it was to be ready.  Louise didn’t have much time, but somehow I know she had made peace with her Maker.

Standing with lighted candles on each side of the centre aisle of our parish Sanctuary, the CWL (Catholic Women’s League) ladies honoured Louise as her casket was rolled between us.  As her casket passed, I was reminded that we, her friends, were there bidding her farewell from planet earth, but we were also cheering her on as she began her new journey into her eternal Home…  resting in the loving arms of our wonderful, loving God.

Father God, we thank You for the life You’ve given us.  We often forget that without Your moment by moment grace, we would not be able to survive.  Forgive us Lord.  Father, from the moment we were born, our days here on earth are numbered.  We don’t know when, so we ask that You help us to always be ready for the day when You will bring us Home.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – September 16, 2014

p.s. -

1)  A Letter to Our Brother  (copied from the back of the program)

To our dearest Eric

Words simply cannot soothe the sorrow in our hearts, now that you are no longer with us.  Instead, we trust in the wonderful promise of God and the hope of eternal life in Jesus.  This hope carries us as we humbly remember the life you lived so well.

January 30, 1960 was a special day, because you were born – the first and only son to your proud mother and father, and eventually a brother to four rambunctious sisters.  We are not too proud to admit that you were the cutest sibling, and your golden heart endeared you to all.  You were more than happy to pick up the slack in household chores, when each of your sisters asked you for favours.  You developed a willingness to help early in life that permeated your adult life as well.  Your believed in Jesus and the redeeming power of the cross was the firm foundation on which you based your principles.  Your child-like faith in God guided your life, and gave you strength and fortitude through life’s trying times, especially throughout your courageous battle with cancer during the last seven months of your life.

The principles you chose to guide your life give testimony to your integrity and character.  In the span of 54 years, you have touched the lives of so many people through your unconditional love for others, your devotion to your wife Melanie, your deep sense of filial loyalty, and the way you see the goodness of God in everyone you meet.  You were an extraordinary friend to so many, and you always treated the most unfortunate among us with the most utmost respect and generosity

While your sisters pursued musical studies, your interest in the arts was focused on drawing, design and architecture.  Even at a very young age, you would often be found in your room using toothpicks and glue to create intricate models and make miniature figures out of Plasticine.  As you grew older, you would spend countless hours in your garage building your own furniture and tenting to your 1996 Mercedes Benz (or as Melanie describes it, “your first wife”).

We are so proud of the man you became, and we are thankful to God for the 54 years we have had with you.  Your creativity, infinite compassion for others, and unwavering faith are the legacies you leave behind for your sisters, nieces and nephews, and all who loved you.

Til we meet again,

Your loving sisters.

2)  Eric Lee:  A Man of faith (homily of Msgr Greg Smith) - http://gregorynsmith.blogspot.ca/2014/09/eric-lee-man-of-faith.html

 

I preached this morning at the funeral of Eric Lee, the son of an old friend and the brother of Pamela Ho, who joined the board of Catholic Christian Outreach just before I left.

 
As you can tell from the homily, it was a great privilege. His mother told me “Eric was born with a good heart.” This seems to be no less than the truth.

A visitor to London knew that the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral was the work of Sir Christopher Wren, and that its renowned architect was buried there. So he decided to visit the great man’s tomb.He went from one grand marble monument to another without success. Nor could he find a side chapel with any mention of Wren.Just as he was about to give up, the man spotted a Latin inscription on the floor.He saw Christopher Wren’s name followed by these words: Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice.

“Reader, if you seek his monument, look around.”

Friends, if you seek a monument to the life of Eric Lee, look around you. Look around this church and see a beloved wife, a loving mother, four dear sisters, and numerous family members—all of them grieving, but none of them bereft of hope.

Look around the church and see business associates who remember a man of integrity and charm; and fellow parishioners with stories of his generosity and commitment to the Church.

Look around you and see people who aren’t that interested in what I might have to say this morning—because Eric’s remarkable attitude to illness has already given them the hope they need to deal with the sadness of his premature death.

Eric almost needs no eulogy beyond his own words “Another bonus day!”

But perhaps it can be fruitful to meditate on Eric’s rallying cry. What were the sources of such a positive attitude?

Clearly, it began with his loving family—the family is the first foundation of character and courage, and Eric grew up in the sort of family that promoted both.

Yet it took more than even a brave character to confront his dire prognosis with such confidence—it took faith. And again, his family was the starting point. I have known his wonderful mother for nearly thirty years, so I can attest to her persevering faith.

But the childhood seeds of faith must be watered by adult commitment. Eric believed that the Word of God is the truest guide for the good life, and he lived accordingly. He was led in right paths by the Good Shepherd, whom he followed with confidence.

When he found himself in the darkest valley, he did not fear evil, because he knew that the Lord walked at his side and would not abandon him; certainly he bore a heavy burden in his final months, but it was lightened by the promise of rest that Jesus makes to all who willingly accept the yoke of suffering.

In other words, when Eric Lee’s faith was put to the test, it provided real answers to the most profound and painful questions of any human heart. Can there be good in suffering? Can there be life after death?

At this funeral Mass, we are now challenged by his example. A friend who knew Eric said “With a hundred Erics, you could change the world!”  Which of us, in this congregation of hundreds, will rise to that challenge?

We are challenged, too, by his faith. If we are people of faith, we must ask ourselves whether we have lived our faith with enough conviction to see us through the dark valley.If we have no faith, this may be an occasion to ask whether Eric’s life and death inspires us to become seekers again, so that we too might find comfort in the face of life’s greatest mystery, namely “is there a life to come?”But whether we are people of great faith or none, this morning is a time to give thanks for a life well-lived and, dare we say, well-ended.This is a moment to rejoice that Eric found rest for his soul, that he was able to persevere to the end. However strong or weak our own belief, we can join Eric in crying out in the words of today’s first reading “We looked to [God], and he saved us!”

And finally, this time of prayer together is an occasion to pray for those who must now accept the pain of Eric’s death. The readings today are certainly intended to bring us the hope of eternal life for Eric, but they also contain God’s promises to those who mourn him.In his own time, God will wipe away the tears of Melanie and all Eric’s loved ones, and they too will find rest for their souls.For each of us, every day is a “bonus day.” We are all invited to live the present moment, whether of joy or pain, in the hope of the eternal day when the trumpet will sound and the dead will rise.And so, “with such thoughts as these” as St. Paul said, let us comfort one another.

 

REFLECTION: True greatness

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

 

The argument began as two teased each other, one boasting that he was greater than the other.  Overhearing their taunts, the others joined in as they settled down around the table.  Their voices grew louder and the argument more animated.  The Master shook his head as He sat with them.  “You foolish men”, he thought to himself.  “How long will it take for you to get it right?”  Jesus shook His head again as he recalled Zebedee’s wife kneeling before Him with her two sons, asking that He command them to sit at each of His side in the kingdom. (Matt 20:20)

With a sigh He said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For which is the greater, one who sits at the table, or one who serves?  Is it not the one who sits at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.  Luke 22:24-27

His apostles looked at Him with disappointment and puzzlement in their eyes.  “Master, what are You talking about?  My brother, John, is the youngest among us.  Did you say we have to be like him?

What was Jesus up to?  He knew what was ahead.  He realized His 3 years with His disciples were almost over and His death on the cross was fast approaching.  How would His disciples stand strong when He was gone?  The cockiness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-confidence and self-efficiency displayed by the religious leaders and the Pharisees couldn’t get in their way.

“…knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father…  (Jesus) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.  Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

.…So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.  John 13:1-17

Jesus, the One whose sandals John the Baptist felt unfit to untie, knelt before each of his twelve disciples, washed their feet and then wiped them dry.  Rather than resorting to washing the feet of one to set the example, He demonstrated the need for treating all (young and old; superior and inferior in status) in the same manner by washing the feet of ALL twelve.  He said, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

Have you pondered why Jesus didn’t resort to serving the meal or cleaning up after the meal to demonstrate humility?  Why did He resort to an act that was deemed fit for a lowly servant or for an individual to do himself?  What Jesus demonstrated was not mere superficial humility, but deep, humbling humility which required one to die to his pride.

He knew His men would be the spiritual rulers and teachers of His Word.  Pride and superiority could easily slip in, unnoticed.  The enemy, the devil, was lurking around, waiting to assault and to sift them.  If the enemy couldn’t destroy them, he would try to disgrace or distress them.  “Self-confidence, disregard to warnings and contempt of danger was a guarantee to their fall.” (Footnote 1)

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.  And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”  Luke 22:31-34

Simon Peter fell.  Jesus had warned him and yet Peter was confident that his faith and his love for the Master was strong enough to keep him faithful.  Was it sufficient?  Sadly, no.   Peter denied knowing Jesus three times and it was only when the cock crowed that he realized what he had done.

“True humility is a servant-like quality which enables us to place our life at the service of God and the service of our neighbour.  He showed us the way by lowering himself as a servant for our sake. He humbled himself, even to death on a cross, that we might be raised up and exalted at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Philippians 2:1-11)”.

Lord, you walked among the sinners and the outcasts.  We ask for Your grace to put our pride and self-esteem aside and to look beyond our personal wants and needs to help others.  Lord, it is so easy to carry on with our own and ignore the needs of others.  But, Lord, You didn’t do that with us.  You sent others our way, who gave themselves selflessly and who pointed us back to You.  We thank You for them and we ask that You give us the same desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  Thank You for giving up Yourself for our sake.  Thank You for dying on the Cross so we may have life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – August 30, 2014

p.s. – footnote 1:  http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/apostle-john-the-beloved-ray-ellis-sermon-on-christian-love-59051.asp – good teaching on Christian Life in Spiritual Growth and Spiritual Maturity.

REFLECTION: The call of duty…

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

 

By definition, the call of duty “is a legal term describing the necessity to carry out a job or duty, such as a police case, military assault/wartime actions, or other military or highly important jobs.”  Have you considered what such duties would entail?

Imagine arriving at a beautiful beach front on a warm, sunny day and you long to jump into the water for a refreshing dip. Everything looks fine.  No one is in the water, but there are a few others, lying around, tanning themselves.  You dip your toe into the refreshing water.  Its warmth draws you in a little further in and you begin to wade and splash around in the water.  Suddenly a swift rip current comes by and it sweeps you off your feet.  You struggle and before you know it, you find yourself dragged out to sea at top speed.

“What had happened?!?  The waves weren’t violent and crashing!  There were no warning signs on the beach!  There were people lying around on the beach, why didn’t they warn me?” Your mind screams and it continues to scream.

Whose duty was it to warn you?  It was a public beach.  The municipality’s governing body should have put up warning signs.  Perhaps there were signs there, but someone thought it infringed on the rights of others and so he/she took the signs down.  There were other people there, why didn’t they say anything?!?  Perhaps they thought it was none of their business…

This is such a sad case, isn’t it?  Thankfully the story is fiction and it was merely created by my imagination.  But what should you do if you are aware of potential dangers in certain circumstances.  Should you remain quiet, shirking the responsibility?

“The word of the Lord came to me.  Son of man, speak to our people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman; and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, his blood shall be upon his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.  

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes, and takes anyone of them, that man is taken away in his iniquity but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”  Ezekiel 33:1-7

Father God, we ask for your wisdom and discernment to know when to speak and when not to speak.  We ask that You give us the strength and the boldness to speak your truth to others in love.  And Lord, we pray for those You call us to share Your truth with.  Open their spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so that they may receive Your truth.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – August 24, 2014

p.s. – .  “Rip currents are terrifying because they catch you off guard: One minute you’re bobbing along peacefully in the surf, the next you’re being dragged out to sea at top speed. They occur in all sorts of weather and on a wide range of beaches. Unlike violent, crashing waves, you probably won’t notice a rip current until you’re right in the middle of it.”  http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/rip-current.htm

REFLECTION: The bleeding vase…

Friday, August 15th, 2014

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa – August 15, 2014

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Together in God’s overflowing love,

Melissa

p.s. -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFLECTION: The voice

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

 

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa – August 12, 2014