Archive for September, 2011

REFLECTION: The pause…

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

As I was driving to my favourite hang out for my quiet time this morning, there were two other cars ahead of me that drove through a detour.  The second car followed the first’s lead, while I took a slightly different detour of my own.  Having travelled this path many times over, I pondered what the two cars ahead of me would do when they reached the stop signs.  As I had guessed, neither one stopped at the numerous stop signs after the detour.  Realizing that no one else was around on the cross roads early this morning, they continued on, driving right through.

As I made a full stop at each of the 4 stop signs I passed, the word “pause” came to mind.  I told our Father that the cops didn’t allow “California stops” here, where one would pause for a quick moment.  The cops and the motor vehicle branch insist on a full stop.  I sensed Him smiling.  He then reminded me of the dash in between the year a person was born and the year the person leaves planet earth.  We had previously discussed how most people dash through the years without taking a moment to stop and enjoy their lives.  As I drew to a full stop at the last stop sign, I looked around and smiled.  I thanked our Father for allowing me to recognize how crucial it was for me to take a break from the busyness life throws our way and to enjoy the beautiful creations He had given us to bask in.

As I continue to reflect, I begin to realize that there is more than one lesson from the stop signs I had come across this morning.  Workaholics are often begged to spare a few moments with family members, but the desire to go forward often speaks decibels louder.  As the pressure and stress continues to build up with the fast paced lifestyle, physical symptoms such as chronic headaches, muscle tension and even heart attacks begin to manifest, urging the individual to make a full stop.  The signs are always visible, but like the scenario our Father had brought me through this morning, the frustrations and delays brought about by the detours in our lives cause the “driver” to step a little harder on the “gas pedal”, urging them to ignore the stop signs in life while opening doors to danger for themselves and to others.

I am now reminded to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 Not only does God want us to be still so we will have time to know Him intimately because He is our Creator, but He always wants us to be still so that we may rest.   “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:3 God, being God, never grows weary, but I believe He chose to rest from all the work he had done to set an example for man… so that he, too, would make time to rest.

May our Father give each the grace and the discernment to know that we so desperately need moments to stop and rest…and to know Him.

God bless,

Melissa – September 18, 2011

REFLECTION: There is still hope…

Friday, September 16th, 2011

In the early hours on Sunday, September 11, 2011, 3 year old Kienan was returned safely back to his family home by his abductor(s).  4 days earlier, the lad was taken from his bedroom.  What moved the abductor to return the lad?  I believe it was the public plea Kienan’s dad had made, asking his abductor “to leave him in a safe place and then to walk away and keep on walking” and the grace of God.

Hebert, the dad, is quoted on the following…”If there was police watching, Hopley (the suspected abductor) wouldn’t have dropped him off here, right?  Who knows the circumstances?  Who cares?”  He also adds…”I’m not upset that Hopley came back into our house.  He didn’t break into our house, we left the doors unlocked hoping he would bring him….  It’s kinda cool to think that when we said, ‘Bring him to a safe place,” he brought him back to his house.  It’s kind of ironic.”

The suspected kidnapper is a convicted sex offender with a long history of theft and break-and-enter.  To many, the kidnapper may appear to be a heartless individual, but in my eyes, the shadow of a tender heart was still alive in this man.  How else could he have been moved to correct the wrong he had done?  Jesus sees and knows the hearts of all… including the ones which may have turned into stone.

I am reminded of the story of a “wee little man” named Zacchaeus who climbed a Sycamore tree in the New Testament to catch a glimpse of Jesus…

“1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19: 1-9

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible mentions that “this story is marked with irony since Zacchaeus sought with great effort to see Jesus, only to discover that Jesus was seeking him.”  Why would a wealthy chief tax collector be interested in Jesus?  Was it the miracles Jesus had performed, healing the crippled, cleansing lepers among many others that beckoned to him?  Was the wealth and the power he held with his position not sufficient for him?  Was there an empty void in this man that drove him to run ahead of the crowd and to climb a sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus?

In those days, most tax collectors were despised as sinners and suspected of dishonesty.  Why did Jesus approach Zacchaeus and how did he know he was up in the sycamore tree?  Zacchaeus had ran ahead of the crowd.  The boisterous noise coming from the large crowd and the attention they sought should have distracted Jesus from noticing this man of short stature climb up a Sycamore tree.  And yet, Jesus stopped at the very spot where Zacchaeus was and he spoke to him, telling him that he would stay at his home that day.  The actions and words of Jesus must have touched Zacchaeus immensely so that out of his own initiative, without the prompting of Jesus, he spontaneously declared that he would correct the wrong in his life and he would repay those he had cheated 4 times over!

And ”Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”” Luke 19: 9-10

Jesus continues to seek and save the lost today.  Was it possible that He opened the spiritual ears of the abductor so that his heart would respond to the plea of a desparate, heart broken father?  Was it possible that He gave the abductor courage to return the sleeping lad to his family home?

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelations 3:20 Will you invite Jesus into your life today?

God bless,

Melissa – September 16, 2011

REFLECTION: Have you grown?

Friday, September 9th, 2011

My eyes came across these words this morning…’”Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”’ (Acts 8:30-31) I’m sure many would agree that not much is communicated by these 2 sentences and yet, it was the latter that first caught my attention.  It wasn’t highlighted yet in the new Bible that I am presently using, but it stood out just the same.

I suppose those with inquisitive minds and those who have a great desire to learn and understand seek the aid of other people, books and multiple resources.  I admit I among them, but unlike many, I am one with a very short attention span.  Extra doses of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and discernment are required and very often, I seek the insights and lessons taught by those who walk closely with God.  Perhaps the term “mentor” is the appropriate word to use to describe such individuals.

As I continue to reflect and pray, I sense the Father saying “do it with caution”.  I ask why and I sense Him saying that we need to be very careful about who we seek as mentors.  Many are familiar with the truth of God’s Word, but there are occasions when the pride of some expand to such a degree that they cannot resist to add insights from their own mind.  There are also times when some do not walk their talk.

Scripture says to test their spirits. (Footnote 1)  Test the spirit of all and I encourage you to test especially mine.  Through time, an ongoing spot check is also encouraged because each of us are prone to trip and fall.

Although we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and we are ready and willing to receive and carry the Christian title, pride lives in each of us and we live in a society that seeks recognition as a form of acceptance.  Rather than doing good for the well-being of another, the doer’s main intent may be to advance himself/herself.

How do you test one’s spirit?   1 Samuel 16:7 teaches…7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I believe the key to testing one’s spirit is to determine what motivates another.  Everyone has the potential of doing good, but if there is ill-will in the intent or motive, the action becomes worthless even if the end result is good.  Hence, perhaps the origins of the term “hidden agenda”?

In her TV/internet teaching the other day, Joyce Meyer mentions that many are “feel good” Christians.  They chose to accept whatever Scripture is applicable to their current way of life and reject what may prevent them from continuing on this path.  They reject solid Scriptural teaching that convict them of their wrong ways, while they embrace “dessert sermons” that leave them feeling good about themselves just where they are.

Hebrews 5:11 says…” 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Joyce points out that although the Holy Spirit brings about Scripture and teachings that convict one of erroneous behaviour, the individual can still reject it and refuse to change and grow.  Instead, the individual selective chooses whatever he/she wants to hear, nourishing his/her infantile state.  Joyce calls the milk referred to in the Scripture passage above “feel good” Scripture and teachings.

Where do you stand in your Spiritual growth?  Have you learned and matured from what you have learned yesterday, so that you can stand stronger today?  May our Father renew our hearts and minds and may He plant the desire in all for spiritual growth in Him.

God bless,

Melissa – September 9, 2011

Footnote 1 1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” 1 John 4: 1-6

Footnote 2

God’s Word vs. Your Feelings

by Joyce Meyer

Every day, we are faced with a decision: Will we respond to life’s circumstances according to God’s Word or will we react emotionally? The initial temptation is to react emotionally, but in every circumstance, it’s truly your decision.

Let’s examine three circumstances you’re going to have to face at some point in your life. I’ve also included some questions to ask yourself, which I encourage you to answer honestly. They will give you a good idea of how big a part your feelings play in these circumstances.

Circumstance #1: Change

Everything changes except God, and letting all the changes in our lives upset us won’t keep them from occurring. People change, circumstances change, our bodies change, our desires and passions change.

Most changes take place without our permission. But we can choose to adapt. Adapting doesn’t change the circumstances, but it does keep you living in peace and joy as you go through change.

First Things First

Our thoughts are the first thing we need to deal with during change because thoughts directly affect emotions. When circumstances change, make the transition mentally, and your emotions will be a lot easier to manage. If something changes that you are not ready for and did not choose, you will more than likely have a variety of emotions about it.

The Power of God’s Word

“Emotions rise up and then move out, wanting us to follow them. When I feel that, I know I need to take action.”

By acting on God’s Word and not merely reacting to the situation, you’ll be able to manage your emotions instead of allowing them to manage you. I strongly recommend confessing the Word of God out loud. Even though what you confess may be the opposite of how you feel, keep doing it. God’s Word has inherent power to change our feelings, bring comfort to us, and quiet our distraught emotions.

Ask Yourself

  1. How do I respond to change?
  2. Do I act on God’s Word or merely react to the situation?
  3. After the initial shock, am I willing to make a transition mentally and emotionally?

Circumstance #2: Waiting

If you have not developed patience, then having to wait may bring out the worst in you. At least that was the case with me until I finally realized my emotional reactions were not making things go any faster.

We would all like to be patient, but we don’t want to develop patience because that means behaving well while we are not getting what we want. And that’s hard!

The Road to Peacefulness

The more we want something, the more our emotions will act up if we do not get it. Common sense tells us it is rather foolish to get into a rage over a parking space or other simple things people tend to get upset about. As you develop patience, don’t merely think about how hard and frustrating it is, think about how peaceful you will be when waiting never bothers you (see James 1:4).

Ask Yourself

  1. How do I behave when I have to wait?
  2. What situations are difficult for me?
  3. How do I act when I’m working with someone who is really slow?
  4. How do I act if someone takes the parking space I’ve been waiting for?
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do I handle myself when things don’t go my way?

Circumstance #3: Difficult People

No one likes being around difficult people. I think there are a lot of people in the world like that today, largely because of the stressful lives most of them have. People are trying to do too much in too little time and have more responsibility than they can realistically handle.

When someone is rude to me, I can feel my emotions rise up and then move out, wanting me to follow them. That’s when I know I need to take action. I have to remember that the person being rude probably has a lot of problems. She may not even realize how she sounds.

Working with the Holy Spirit

I certainly remember lots of times in my life when people asked me why I was being so harsh. I didn’t realize that I was. I just had a lot going on and felt pressured, so the pressure came through in harsh voice tones. That didn’t excuse my bad behavior, but it was the root of the problem.

I am very thankful I know the Word of God and have Him in my life to help and comfort me. But a lot of difficult people don’t have that. I have had to work very hard with the Holy Spirit for the ability to act on God’s Word when people are rude…instead of merely reacting with a behavior that matches or tops theirs.

Jesus teaches us how to respond to those who treat us well and those who do not (see Luke 6:32–35).

If you are in a situation that requires you to be with one of these hard-to-get-along-with people every day, I urge you to pray for them instead of reacting emotionally to them. Our prayers open a door for God to work through.

Ask Yourself

  1. How do I react to people who are rude?
  2. Do I respond in love as the Word says we should, or do I join them in their ungodly behavior?
  3. Will I act on the Word of God and love them for His sake? Or will I react emotionally, perhaps acting worse than they act?
  4. Have I ever let a rude person ruin my day?

Live Beyond Your Feelings

Feelings will come and go. We can’t escape them, but when we choose to live by God’s Word and not our feelings. Even when it doesn’t feel right, we can live with an incredible peace and joy. I encourage you to go through the questions again and search God’s Word in every circumstance you face. He will help you live beyond your feelings!

This article is taken from Joyce’s book, Living Beyond Your Feelings.

REFLECTION: Self acceptance…

Friday, September 9th, 2011

She sat quietly in front of the mirror while she gently wiped off the well practised masterpiece she painted over her face earlier that morning. Fatigue set in as she let out a long sigh.  She was alone now and there was no other whom she needed to please and to cater to.  The time was hers and she now had the freedom to relax.  As she continued examining herself, she wrinkled her nose and said, “You look horrible!”  Everyone was snickering at you.   Did you listen to your presentation today?  You didn’t make sense!  You’re going to be fired soon.  Did you notice the smirks on their faces as you attempted to answer their questions?  You’re good for nothing.  No one likes you!” and tears rolled down her face.

Sad isn’t it?  The account above is fictional, but it wouldn’t be surprising if many have found themselves reliving similar thoughts…both women and men alike.

In his book Interior Freedom, Fr. Jacques Philippe mentions…”In social life, we experience constant tension about meeting other people’s expectations of us (or what we imagine them to be). The world has turned its back on Christianity…on the grounds that it is a religion of guilt.  Yet there has never been a time when people were so weighed down with guilt as they are today.  Girls feel guilty for not being as beautiful as the latest fashion model.  Men feel guilty for not being as successful as the inventor of Microsoft. Today’s standards of success are dictated by contemporary culture.  We find it so difficult to accept our own deficiencies because we imagine they make us unlovable.”

“A lot of our time is wasted as we complain and reprimand ourselves about that we are not like this or that, lamenting on our multiple defects or limitations.”

“God is realistic.  His grace does not operate on our imaginings, ideals or dreams.  It works on reality, the specific, concrete elements of our lives…  The person he wants to touch and to transform with his love is not the person we’d have liked to be or ought to be.  It’s the person we are.  God doesn’t love “ideal persons” or “virtual beings”.  He loves actual, REAL people.  He is not interested in saintly figures in stained glass windows, but in us sinners.”  (Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom)

Many of us reject ourselves because of the rejection we experienced in childhood.  Our parents may have not rejected us per se, but our love needs may have required more than what they were able to give.  Death words, such as “you were picked up from the dump” of the yester-years and the constant comparison with the ongoing victories of siblings, add to the rejection and dejection experienced.  In our present age, the marital squabbles between parents and the battle for personal attention and affection between children and the rest of the technological world adds to the rejection experienced by our children today.  It is not surprising why many of our youth are suffering so much.

Children grow and become adults and without the aid of inner healing, the internal self-rejection carries on for a life time.  Parents, teachers and peers who have previously destroyed one’s self-esteem are no longer around to haunt the individual, but now, the pre-recorded voices which began in the yester-years continue to play in a loop, taunting the individual to destruction.

Fr. Jacques adds that “a great deal of time can be wasted in the spiritual life complaining that we are not like this or not like that, lamenting this defect or that limitation, imagining all the good we could do if, instead of being the way we are, we were less defective, more gifted with this or that quality or virtue and so on.  Here is a waste of time and energy that merely impedes the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.”

“What often blocks the action of God’s grace in our lives is less our sins or failings, than it is our failure to accept our own weakness – all those rejections, conscious or not, of what we really are or of our real situation.  To ‘set grace free’ in our lives, and paving the way for deep and spectacular changes, it sometimes would be enough to say simply ‘yes’ – a ‘yes’ inspired by trust in God to aspects of our lives we’ve been rejecting.  We refuse to admit that we have this defect, that weak point, were marked by this event, fell into that sin.  And so we block the Holy Spirit’s action, since he can only affect our reality to the extent we accept it ourselves.  The Holy Spirit never acts unless we freely cooperate.  We must accept ourselves just as we are if the Holy Spirit is to change us for the better.

“We need to accept our limitations, but without ever resigning ourselves to mediocrity.  We need to desire to change, but without ever refusing, even subconsciously, to recognize our limitations or accept ourselves.”

“The secret actually is very simple.  It is to understand that we can only transform reality fruitfully if we  accept it first.  This also means having the humility to recognize that we cannot change ourselves by our own efforts, but that all progress in the spiritual life, every victory over ourselves, is a gift of God’s grace.  We will not receive the grace to change unless we desire to; but to receive the grace that will transform us, we must ‘receive’ ourselves – to accept ourselves as we really are.”

“Accepting ourselves is much more difficult than it might seem.  Pride, fear of not being loved, the conviction of how little we are worth, are all too deeply rooted in us.  Think how badly we react to our falls, mistakes and failures, how demoralized and upset we become, how guilty they make us feel”.  It is “only under the gaze of God can we fully and truly accept ourselves.  We need to be looked upon by some one who says, as God did through the prophet Isaiah: ‘You are precious in my eyes, and honoured, and I love you.’ (Isaiah 43:4)

Father God, thank You for creating each of us, believer or not, in Your own image.  Regardless of our past, You continue to love us just as we are. Forgive us for rejecting ourselves and please give us the grace to forgive ourselves and all the others who have rejected us.  Dear Holy Spirit, we permit you to wash us clean from our past and we thank You, dear Jesus, for dying on the cross for the sins of the world.  Lord Jesus, you taught us that by Your stripes, we are healed.  You took all the scourgings and beatings during Your passion and You took ALL the sins of the world, from the beginning until the end of time, upon yourself on the cross so that we could live in freedom.  Lord, it is not You, but we ourselves who punish ourselves.  Please release us from these victim habits and help us see ourselves with Your loving eyes.  Release us from the lies of the enemy and fill us with Your peace; fill us with Your love; fill us with Your grace so that we can live in peace with ourselves.  Thank You for loving us dear Jesus.  We pray for all these in Your precious name Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – September 9, 2011

p.s. –

“11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 This Scripture is not without power.  They are the Word of God and as you claim and proclaim it in your life, it is His very promise to you.