Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

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

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you Andrew!”

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

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

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

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

REFLECTION: Your love letter…

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa – June 2, 2012

P.S.

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

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

REFLECTION: Reap what you sow…

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Have you wondered whether you’ve been given a bad hand in life?  Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind one time or another when multiple events fail to go your way and you seem to be “swimming” upstream on a constant basis.  When our lives begin to fall apart, I wonder how many of us immediately blame others, life in general and/or God rather than engage in reflection, discerning whether we have contributed to our problems.

Have you noticed that the sayings “What goes around, comes around.” and “You reap what you sow” indicate a direct correlation between what we say, do and think with what we receive in life?  Although we may not want to admit it, whatever we engage in and how we treat others will eventually have an effect on us.

How many of us ponder over how we treat others?  Many focus on the alternate, where we examine how others treat us, but much can be gained when we examine how we treat others.

Colossians 3:5-9 teaches…”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…  In these you once walked, when you lived in them…  But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another…”

Why are we encouraged to stay away from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness”?  Why are we taught to put away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying”?  Does St. Paul, the author, have anything to gain by keeping us away from these?  Likewise, did God give us the 10 Commandments so that He could have more for Himself ?  Were the 10 Commandments given to prevent man from having fun?  My answer to all these is “no”.  Does keeping one’s distance from “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness” take away from the “enjoyment” in anyone’s life?  Perhaps temporarily, as the momentary blissful high takes place.  But what happens afterwards when the “high” fades and reality sets in?  Are the consequential costs of guilt, self-loath and confusion worth it?  As one awakens to reality and realizes what he/she had engaged in, how does the individual treat those around him/her?  Do “anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk and lying” not come into play?  So why did God give man the 10 Commandments?  Is it not to prevent man from harming himself and those he loves?

Colossians 3:12 – 16 continues with…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And over all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in wisdom… And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Isn’t it interesting that St. Paul has chosen to use the verb to “put on” as he encourages us to embrace these positive traits?  I asked the Father “Why?” and I sensed Him answer “Free will.”.  These traits don’t readily fall upon us, but we are given the grace to “pick them up and put them on”.  They are characteristics which we are given the choice to wear and apply EVEN when everything else around us is falling apart.  Just as when we put on fresh, clean clothes when we are cut and bruised, the process may be difficult and can be painful, but the end result does us good.

St. Paul also encourages us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly”.  Why? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul explains that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

So…  how has life been treating you?  May we all reap the good which we have sown.

God bless,

Melissa – October 18, 2011

REFLECTION: Who’s praying?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

 


Over the years, I’ve been touched by the verse “we have not stopped praying for you.” I am always comforted knowing that someone out there has lifted me up in prayer and many times, I even sense their answered prayer because my day goes more smoothly than normal.  One day, however, when my eyes came across Colossians 1:9, I asked the Father, “Who’s praying Lord?!?  If Paul, the author of this book had died thousands of years ago, who’s been praying?

At the opening of Mass, we recite the Penitential Rites and say…”I askyou, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.”  Do you remember saying that or have you mumbled through it without realizing and/or recognizing what you’ve just said?  Sadly, I’ve been there and I’ve done the latter.  We ask the rest of the congregation to pray for us and they, in turn, ask us to pray for them, but has anyone started praying?  I sure hope so.  I have since become attentive to praying for others in general and have made an effort to pray for the faith walk of each and every individual.  I am praying many others will do the same.

But why should we pray?  Doesn’t God know all of our needs?  He doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do.  In truth, God doesn’t need any reminders nor does He need any of our assistance.  God wants to know us, but more importantly, He wants us to know Him.  He already knows everything about us because He created us, but as we converse with Him, we begin to know Him and we begin to realize the depth of His love for us.  His love is unlike any other human; it is deep and ever so intimate and faithful. As He walks with us, He provides the strength, the grace, and the wisdom we need to live victoriously.  Although He allows us to live through the consequences of our errors and we have to endure and live through the free will choices of others, He is with us wherever we go and in the midst of turmoil, He anoints us with a peace and joy the world cannot give.  Our Father desires our deep and intimate relationship with Him… just as Adam and Eve had with Him before their fall.  HOWEVER, rather than forcing Himself on us, God has given us freedom to exercise His gift of free will and so He patiently waits for us and for others to invite Him into our lives.

Our Father continues to remind me… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 We do need to realize that the devil is ever so present on planet earth.  If given liberty, he would annihilate us completely so that no one can return back to the Father’s heart.  He rejected the Father and he and his followers were kicked out of Heaven.  (Footnote 1) If he had it his way, he would like the very same for all of mankind.  And yet, Jesus came so that we may have life, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.

While here on earth, Jesus taught… “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debtsas we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-14

What does it mean when we say “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”?  I believe that as we pray these words sincerely in our hearts, we are inviting our Father back into our lives and into the lives of those in this world.  Free will prevents God and his angels from intervening in our lives, but as we pray to Him for ourselves and others, He opens the doors of Heaven to equip us to battle the schemes of the devil.  The devil and his adversaries are extremely sly and as he did with Eve in the garden of Eden, he will appeal to our senses and our desires, making the sin appear so alluring and beautiful, but hiding the consequences that come with it.

Let’s take a look at how Eve was tempted…“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate….and she also gave some to her husband and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 Notice how readily Adam took and ate the fruit?  Without realizing it, the devil uses us to entice others to participate in the sin we are engaging in.  Scary isn’t it?

Before His death, Jesus prayed for his disciples and the whole Church…”Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours…  And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truthI do not pray for these only, but also for those 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 have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:1-26

Dear Father, we come before You and we ask You to forgive us for all the wrong we have done.  We also ask You to give us the grace to forgive all those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  Father, there may be some who have hurt us to the extreme that it is so difficult to forgive.  But Lord, with Your grace, we choose to forgive all who have hurt us.  Bless them Lord.  Father we pray for all the others in this world.  We ask for your blessings and grace over each.  Father, help those who are struggling and we ask for Your healing touch.  Father, please give each of us the strength to stay away from the circumstances and from those which/who would cause us to fall.  And Lord, when we are tempted, help us to remember that “you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but you provide a way of escape also.” (Footnote 2) Father, help us see that we can readily say “NO!” to the lies and the temptations that the devil plants into our minds.  Thank You for the victories that have already begun in our lives and in the lives of others and we ask You to unite Your people in You.  We pray for all these in Jesus’ powerful and healing name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa (October 9, 2011)

 

FOOTNOTE 1:
(http://www.exposingsatanism.org/satans_origin.htm)

 

Ezekiel 28:12-17 Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; You walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian, cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

 

Isaiah 14: 12-15 – How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawnYou have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

 

Revelations 20:1-3  – “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.”

 

FOOTNOTE 2:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

REFLECTION: Back to basics

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa (October 5, 2011)

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

REFLECTION in the Garden: Companions on our Journey…

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

As I made time to weed the garden this morning, the words “companions on our journey” repeatedly came to mind.  Thoughts of those who have helped me and who continue to help me on my journey didn’t surface, but instead, those who I have struggled with and am struggling with continued to come to the fore front.

The Father then reminded me of the numerous weeds we had pulled out this morning.  I sensed Him saying that a true companion is one who helps us see the weeds in our lives and who gently assists us in pulling them out, roots and all.  He then expanded, saying that we, too, need to be companions for others and so He brings them across our path so we can assist them on their journey.  Many rise up quickly when healing takes place and yet there are some who repeatedly ask for more, perhaps expecting us to carry them along on our journey.  These are the ones, the Father says, who take our time away from Him, who take our attention from the garden of our soul, and who hinder us from doing God’s work.  He has given them the healing grace to “rise up and walk” (Matthew 9: 1-8 / Acts 3:6) and yet these prefer to sit and let others do the walking on their behalf.

Our Father calls us to bring others to Him and yet some prefer to continue to keep their distance and instead, they prod us repeatedly to intercede on their behalf.  Rather than spending precious time acquainting themselves personally with the Father, they keep prodding us to do the work for them.

In her CD teaching “Cracking the Enemy’s Code”, Joyce Meyer mentions that the Father didn’t give us our faith just to get what we want, but He makes us whole so we can spend time with others so they, in turn, can receive the same things we received from the Father.  And yet, why are there some who appear to be unwilling to help themselves?

Joyce mentions that people are generally passive, but if they actively chose God and God’s ways, they would see light.  She adds “many Christians are not doing anything to help anyone else”.  They focus on “what I can get and how I can get my breakthrough from my faith or the faith of another.  It is constantly I, I or me, me.  You cannot be selfish and be happy.”  She stresses, “If you are unhappy, maybe you should stop blaming others, your spouse, your kids, your lack of income, your this and that, your past.  Maybe you need to ask what I can do to help someone else.  People don’t realize how joy bubbles up when you help someone else”

“ We have remained passive and we say we wish God would do something, we wish the government would do something, we wish someone would do something.  We don’t realize that the someone who needs to do something is us.  Each of us has the responsibility to do our part.”  She then refers to Matthew 12:43-45 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” and she mentions that the message exemplifies passivity versus activity.  When people do nothing, evil takes over.”

At first glance, I was puzzled over the analogy, but as I pondered over the scripture a little more with the Father, He began to reveal that as He brings healing into our lives, we are called to invite the Holy Spirit to replace the emptiness.  As we begin to walk with the Holy Spirit and we learn to walk in His ways, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) fill us to the brim and the rivers of living water begin to flow from within us and they overflow and touch others.  We are given the strength to pick up our own cross and to assist others so that we can all journey together back into the heart of the Father.

How have you journeyed with others through planet Earth?  Are you carrying your own cross (Luke 9:23) or are you trying to convince others to carry it for you?  Will you choose to allow the Holy Spirit to fill you or will you choose to stay idle and allow the ways of the world to slowly creep in?

God bless,

Melissa – July 27. 2011

REFLECTION in the Garden: What are your true colors?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

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

What are your true colors?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Melissa (July 8, 2011)

P.S.

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

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