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My Angel Malachi.
The Lord Who Sees You.
The Cup Of The Water Of Paradise.
The Hidden Presence.
The Lord is Your Guardian.
The Shore of Heaven.
At the Crossroads.
The Lords Vagabond.
Your Eye is on the Sparrow.
Words of Wisdom from Heaven.
As it was in the Days of Noah therefore, Stay Awake.
God the Savior of Those in Distress.
Lo! How a Rose E er Blooming.
Therefore, If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation;
The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come!
Things Never Happen the Same Way Twice.
Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
The Gate of Heaven.
Blessed be God in His Angels and Saints.
Jesus, I trust in You.
You Satisfy the Hungry Heart.
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
The Butterfly Coat.
Saint Patricks Breast-Plate.
The Good Shepherd.
His Rod and His Staff They Comfort Me.
The All Knowing and Ever Present God.
The Still Small Voice.
Sing a New Song Unto The Lord.
The Servant of God.
Until Death Do Us Part.
I Will Answer Them.
Lost and Found.
The Household of Faith.
The Beggar of Heaven.
To Let Go and Let God.
Give her the Rosary.
The Road to Emmaus.
Yom Asal; Yom Basal.
Walking by Faith.
The Family of Christ.
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"Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming".
Christmas 2010 is a few days away. I just received a beautiful Christmas card from a dear friend in the USA. Inside was a red rose with her note,
"Christmas is a special time to celebrate a friend! Here's a red rose from St Therese."
This precious Christmas blessing from this treasured friend brought back to my memory another Christmas when Jesus through St Therese the Little Flower blessed and encouraged me in a most special way during a very difficult trial I was undergoing for love of Him and for my husband. I will share this beautiful account with you now.
First I will ask you if you know St. Therese of the Child Jesus? I have a special tender devotion to her.
St Therese of Lisieux is also known as "The Little Flower"
She was born on January 2, 1873 and took the holy habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Lisieux, France when she was a mere 15 years old. Three years later at the age of 18, she was diagnosed as suffering from an advanced case of tuberculosis. Thereafter her life became a martyrdom of body and oftentimes a torture of the soul. Therese ever since her childhood had sought martyrdom for the salvation of souls and for the love of her Lord. After a long agony, dying slowly of suffocation she went to be with Our Lord in Heaven, September 30, 1897 at the young age of twenty-four. Her last words were for one more time a statement of love:
"I have no regret having surrendered myself to Love…"
As other Saints before her and even today as do many lovers of Jesus throughout the world, St Therese offered herself totally to the Lord as a victim soul uniting her entire being – her very life - to the Merciful Love of the Lord - to His Passion - for the salvation of souls. The following prayer was composed by St Therese as a solemn offering to Him.
"In order that my life may be one act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, so that I may become a very martyr to Thy Love, O my God. May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear in Thy Presence, free me from this life at the last, and may my soul take its flight – without delay – into the eternal embrace of Thy Merciful Love.
O My Beloved! I desire at every beat of my heart to renew this oblation an infinite number of times, 'till the shadows retire, and everlastingly I can tell Thee my love face to Face."
St Therese said, "My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."
On October 13,
2006 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in the USA,
inspired by the sublime lives of our holy Saints and prompted by the impulse of the Holy Spirit, I offered myself to Jesus abandoning my whole self to His Merciful Love and expressing my willingness to suffer with Him (should He so choose) for the salvation of souls. I had in the center of my heart concern for my own husband's salvation as he had been an atheist for nearly thirty years - not believing in God's existence and angrily and obstinately opposing all the truths of religion and of the holy Catholic Faith.
Fools say in their hearts,
"There is no God"
Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt,
Not one does what is right.
The Lord looks down from heaven upon the human race
To see if one is wise, if even one seeks God
But without faith it is impossible to please (God), for anyone who approaches God must believe that He exits and that He rewards those who seek Him
Suffering came quickly. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2006 after attending Holy Mass I went for a routine mammogram at the local imaging center. I had received a reminder card a few weeks earlier and had called to set up an annual appointment. The date the center told me they had an availability was the afternoon of December 8th. I had it done and thought no more of it. A few days later I received a call informing me that I should come in for an ultrasound as something was seen on the mammogram and it needed to be checked out. Again, I went and had it done. The doctor tried hard to determine that the lump seen was simply a cyst and tried to extract it with a needle but to no avail. It was a hard mass, and she sighed as she said to me, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." But I wasn't sad or frightened or anxious at all at the prospect that it was not a benign lump but could rather be a cancerous tumor in the left breast. Surely, that is what the doctor was thinking, which is why she signed and expressed such sorrow for me. But I wasn't troubled at all. Rather, a mysterious joy came over me at the astounding thought that perhaps the Lord had answered my prayer in this most unexpected and extraordinary way.
Could it be true?
I had no doubt. It had to be true, because my prayer to Jesus on that special day at the Shrine was so specific and this event could not be explained away by random circumstance or just coincidence. I had prayed to the Lord in a precise way. I had made my solemn offering to Him in words like these, "My Jesus, I love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I want to give you my whole self without holding anything back. I am desirous even to suffer bodily with You, if You so will it, for the conversion of my husband and for souls who do not love You that they may come to know You and Your merciful, saving Love. You know that I desire more than any thing else that my own husband seek You and find You and turn his life over to You in complete trust, deep love and saving faith. Many years ago, You taught me to pray for my husband's salvation by my placing him in my
"bosom basket over my heart" by faith in union with You, the Good Shepherd, who carries Your lambs on Your bosom and lays down Your life for Your sheep. As You revealed to me, Good Shepherd, in this way I was to carry Your lamb ( my husband) in my bosom (heart) and to lay down my life in sacrifice to him as You did for me. Today, Jesus, I open my "left bosom basket" to You where my husband is held in my heart and give him to You, even suffering in the body for him if You so will it." And I concluded my prayer telling Jesus, "Lord, if You answer this prayer, I will not be afraid as I will know You are with me." And with these words of prayer, I touched my hands to my left breast over my heart and then opened my arms out wide in an act of abandonment and offering to the will of the Lord.
Like a shepherd He feeds His flock;
in His arms He gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in His bosom
and leading the ewes with care
I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep
The mysterious lump appeared clearly on the scans on the left breast over my heart. The doctor set up a biopsy for me with a specialist on the first available date right after Christmas 2006. I went in to have the biopsy done on January 4, 2007. The nurse who assisted the doctor noticed my state of peace as to what the results might be from the biopsy and was perplexed that I didn't seem to care one way or the other. Then she noticed on my chart that January 4 was my birthday, and she exclaimed with surprise and a bit of horror in her voice, "What birthday present!" I cheerfully responded to her that "Indeed it is a gift, a gift from the Lord" and I shared with her how I believed this came to pass. I was 47 years old on that birthday. This gift of suffering as I understood it to be was exactly seven years to the week from my conversion to Christ which occurred during the first week of January 2000 when I had entrusted my life and eternity to my loving Savior who had been calling me gently all my life to come to Him! I did not know then that at the same time I was giving myself completely to the Lord for my husband, the enemy of souls, the Evil One was attempting to destroy the work of God through wicked and dark temptations and hold on tightly to him lest he lose him to the Kingdom of Light.
No one experiencing temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God; for God is not subject to temptation to evil. And He Himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire conceives and brings forth sin and when sin reaches full maturity it gives birth to death."
I will not speak here in this account in any detail of the intense battle that took place for his soul all during 2007 while I was undergoing with Our Lord the bodily sufferings of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and the side effects of certain medical procedures and medicines but, more painful still by far, was an unexpected experience of the kiss of Judas on not one but both cheeks that Jesus permitted to me to share with Him while in the Garden of Gethsemane with Him. Thus, by the end of 2007 body, soul, heart and mind had tasted of the Lord's Passion and by Christmas we were on the Cross together crying out
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Yet, after death on the cross comes the Resurrection. Healing would come for me, for the marriage, for our family through the love of Jesus and His mercy and grace. We went together to the Caribbean at Christmastime to experience not only the warmth of the tropical sun but the warm healing rays of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration from the True Son – the Son of God and the Son of Mary, the Christ Child of Christmas.
The day we returned from our trip right after Christmas, there was a long box on our snow laden doorstep waiting for us as we arrived home. Upon opening it I found a dozen freshly cut red roses. When were these sent and by whom, I wondered? They were absolutely beautiful twelve long stemmed red roses laid out in the box which had been tied with a big red bow. I looked at the card which was enclosed. It was addressed to me and my husband and said, "Merry Christmas, with Love." And was signed by a Ukrainian couple we had known for only a short time many years before. The husband had done some gardening and handyman work for us years ago. We had lost touch with them a long while back. They were immigrants to the US and were devout Christians. I tracked down their telephone number and called to express my astonishment and deepest thanks for such a generous and unexpected gift. Why would they send us a dozen red roses this Christmas? In my conversation with the wife, she told me that while she was praying, the Holy Spirit brought us into her mind and powerfully flooded her heart with an intense desire to send red roses to us this Christmas as a special blessing from the Lord ( and St. Therese the Little Flower). She told her husband what she experienced in prayer and he agreed that they should act upon the inspiration from the Holy Spirit and send the roses. They did not even call to find out if we were still living at that address or if we were home to accept the delivery. They had the flowers delivered on the exact afternoon that we returned from our vacation, but they didn't know that! They didn't even know we were away. And they had no idea I had been suffering from cancer, or of any of the other sufferings that I had endured! She was overjoyed to know that by their being obedient to the Holy Spirit's leadings to act in this way they had been the Lord's instruments to bless and encourage us to continue forgiving and loving each other, giving up ourselves totally for the other, as Christ gave Himself up for us
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones… For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth...Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord… Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.
(Ephesians chapter 5)
"I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."
St Therese of Lisieux.
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
German Carol, Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen, ca. 1500
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright, amid the cold of winter,
when half-spent was the night.
Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
when half-spent was the night.
The shepherds heard the story, proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glory, was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found him,
as angel heralds said.
This flow’r, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor the darkness ev’rywhere.
True man, yet very God; from sin and death he saves us
and lightens ev’ry load.
O Savior, child of Mary, who felt our human woe;
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know,
bring us at length, we pray, to the bright courts of heaven
and to the endless day.
Therefore, If Anyone Is In Christ,
He Is A New Creation;
The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come!
It had been hectic in my home for a few days and there was precious little peace and quiet so that evening I told my daughter, "I'm going out to Ilanot Botanical Garden to walk with Jesus and be with Him in solitude. I don't know which account to write next and I am hoping He will reveal it to me. If I can find some silence in which to pray I may be better able to hear Him." So I hopped in my car and headed to the nearby park.
It was late afternoon and the sun was low in the sky as I walked along the quiet paths between the large trees and sculpted rose garden. We had the entire park to ourselves -just the Lord and me! I lifted my heart and mind to Him and walked along quietly in His Presence joyful to be with Him alone and in peace. Often times, I saw elderly married couples sauntering along these paths gazing at the trees, foliage and blossoms. They meandered the paths quietly, totally at ease and comfortable in each other's presence without having to say a word, enjoying being together in connected silence while soaking in the beauty and tranquility of the vast garden. Jesus and I were like that together on that particular afternoon. Strolling past a large tree, of a species of which I did not recognize, my eye caught sight of its lovely little red wispy fan-like blossoms. I stopped and observed them carefully. I had never seen these types of flowers before. Each one was God's majestic masterpiece of tiny created beauty – rich red color, delicate blossom of wispy petals, grouped in little bunches - perfect in color, form, symmetry, unity and harmony.
"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one;
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows for our play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day;
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all."
Seeing these species of flowers for the first time I experienced right then in the Holy Spirit an intense joy like that of a little child who discovers something precious and beautiful for the first time and is struck with awe and wonder. I was filled with jubilant delight and wonder at God's marvelous creation as one who is suddenly reborn and sees the world through a new set of eyes.
Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of God
And in that precise moment, Jesus revealed to me what He would have me share next with you! In an instant, He brought back to my mind a most awesome event – the precious moment of the conversion of a soul - whom He was calling to Himself and for whom He blessed me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in her rebirth.
Ten years earlier, when I was still living in America and my children were young, my daughter's Kindergarten teacher was a lovely lady named Linda from Sweden. Linda and I had the usual periodic professional contact during the school year about my daughter's academic progress and from time to time some general social conversation but we did not share any personal dialogue about matters of faith. I did not know whether Linda practiced any religion or any thing at all about her spiritual life.
One day towards the end of the school year, I asked Linda if she would fill out a letter of recommendation for my daughter as we were applying for her to attend a private school in Philadelphia for her first grade. I handed the form to Linda at school one day and asked her to mail it back to me, or bring it back to the school and I would pick it up there when I came to take my daughter home. Some days passed and during this time my husband left for a business trip to Europe. About seven o'clock in the evening the phone rang and it was Linda who surprised me when she said, "I would like to come by your house tonight and drop off the recommendation." I responded by telling her that it was not necessary for her to make the long drive from her home to my house to bring the letter in person as she lived an another town quite a distance from us.
I told her that she could simply mail the letter or I could pick it up at the school the next day, but for her please not to make a special effort or go out of her way, as it was not urgent that I have it tonight! But she insisted. I thought it was most odd to make such an effort for this little task but I welcomed her to come over since her mind was firmly made up about it. It was evening and my daughters had been fed and were upstairs in their rooms playing before bed when Linda arrived at my home. It seemed an odd hour of night for a teacher to drop by spontaneously to someone's home. Yet, since my husband was away, I had time to spend with Linda should she want to stay for a little while. I heard the knock on the door and welcomed her in, and she came right into the kitchen and set the letter down on the kitchen counter, not even handing it to me or mentioning anything about it. How peculiar I thought.
We greeted each other and I invited her to sit down on the kitchen stool at the center island. She seemed interested in hanging around. I told her my husband was away and that I had not planned a fancy dinner just for myself so I invited her to join me for a glass of wine and slice of pizza. Linda accepted gladly and we began to strike up a conversation together. We had been speaking together for only a few moments when Linda suddenly blurted out that she "had to come here tonight". I didn't know what she meant. She then began to share openly about some truly remarkable spiritual happenings that she had recently experienced in her home. I was amazed to learn that she had come this night to see me under the pretext of dropping off the letter as she was hoping to find answers and guidance as to what she must do. She began to tell me her story. She told me that she had seen with her eyes some frightening dark figures appear to her in her home and in her bedroom, while she was awake, and she believed them to be
demonic entities of some sort. They appeared suddenly "out of thin air" and manifested as dark human-like apparitions. She was very much scared when this occurred. One had happened only as recently as the night before she came to my home.
She came seeking spiritual help from me. I presumed that she must have not had anyone to whom she felt she could speak about such mysterious and unnerving things. She knew that I was passionate about my Christian faith and this was enough for her to turn to me, someone she didn't know well, in the hope of gaining understanding and obtaining help. I discerned that the Lord had brought her to my door that night so that I could witness the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus and make known to her His power to deliver her from evil and give her His gift of salvation if she would turn to Him in simple childlike trust and faith. Linda continued to share her life story with me and I discovered that her own mother in Sweden was involved with the occult and witchery as she was growing up. Linda, as a small girl, had a hunger for holy things and a yearning to be within the life of the Church, but her mother prevented this and blocked all her desires and efforts to go to Church and learn about Jesus Christ and hear the gospel of salvation. Her mother hated the Church and Christianity and thus, Linda grew up in this hostile environment to Jesus Christ and His holy doctrine guarded in the Church.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned but whoever does not believe has already been condemned because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works may not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."
Linda heart-wrenchingly shared with me the pain and guilt she carried over some specific mortal sins she committed during her life as a result of her unfortunate upbringing. Convicted by promptings of the Holy Spirit Linda was full of remorse and contrition for these sins which weighed deeply on her conscience like heavy sand bags preventing her from feeling the freedom and joy of the children of God. She did not know of the merciful forgiving love of God, who in Jesus Christ, died for her to take away her sins and reconcile her the Father.
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever He wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Amen, Amen I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the One who sent Me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life."
( John 5 21-24)
Linda talked and talked about her difficult life and I listened intently until it was time to put my small children to bed. I knew then without a doubt that Jesus had led Linda to my home that night to hear the Gospel of her salvation. I went upstairs and got the Bible, and opened it to the Gospel of Saint John. I handed the book to Linda and told her to begin reading the gospel slowly and attentively while I was helping my daughters fall asleep, as it would take some time. I would need to get them ready for bed and we always said prayers and had other nice bedtime rituals. I told her to read prayerfully and open her heart fully to the Holy Spirit as He loves and cares for her. I left her reading and after a long time I returned and sensed that something had changed in the room and in her. I sat down again next to her on the stool at the kitchen island table. Her face was different. She was serene and had a lovely look on her face. She exuded peace. I thought I saw even that she had a radiance about her face. I asked her how she was doing and she told me that all her life she was longing for God and she had now found Him right there in my kitchen. She had "heard" the Word of Truth and she believed immediately as she was reading and was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was His own, but His own people did not accept Him. But to those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.
John testified to Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'The One who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.'" From His fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed Him.
( John 1:1-17)
Surely, she would have been exposed to intense demonic influences and evil activity in such a home environment where her own mother was a practitioner of the occult and enmeshed in the kingdom of darkness. Linda had been blocked by her mother from going to church to hear the Word of Life – the Gospel of the Salvation of Jesus Christ – and she was also prevented from receiving the
(i.e. Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Communion) of the Church which Christ left us to enable us become one with Him and remain in His grace and to strengthen us to live lives of holiness and resist the temptations and attacks of the Evil One.
Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little.
(1st Peter 5:8-10)
It was after Midnight and Linda was ready to go home, full of hope and joy having received the gift of faith as she assented to the Truth presented to her in the Gospel. She was not alone. The Lord was with her. The next day she called me, and told me that as she walked out of her home that morning, having slept "like a baby" in complete peace in the arms of her new Lord without any disturbance during the night from the enemy of souls, she "saw the world in a totally new light". She told me that it was as if she had a new set of eyes, as if she had been reborn as a new person with a new life seeing the world around her with new eyes full of light. Deep awe and profound wonder flowed from her transformed heart now filled with hope and joy, faith in, love for and thanksgiving to her Almighty God: Father of Creation, His Only, Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the World and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier and Comforter.
Every ray of sun, every cloud in the sky, all the leaves on the trees, the tiny flowers in the garden, the lush green grass, the singing birds, the faces of the people in the cars as she passed by, the smiles on the faces of the children at school, the sights and sounds of life all around she told me she now saw and heard through the experience of this new gift of faith. Forgetting herself entirely, she was lost in childlike wonder and awe of her good, loving, forgiving, God, who created her, redeemed her, and upholds her. Jubilant acclamations of thanksgiving arose from deep in her heart. Her profound wonder and awe over her newfound redemption produced a wellspring of praise to her Lord and she called me in such an elated state to share her immense joy with me. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, and thank You that You have allowed me to share in Your work of redemption and to witness Your transformation of a life.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.
(Matthew 28: 19-20)
A short while later, I was invited to witness Linda's Baptism.
Jesus… said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.'
Things Never Happen the Same Way Twice.
"Things never happen the same way twice," the Mighty Lion, Aslan tenderly explains to the young faith-filled Lucy, in the film,
Prince Caspian, based on one of C.S. Lewis' books from
The Chronicles of Narnia series.
Are you familiar with C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia? C.S. Lewis, one of the 20th century's most important and prolific writers of Christian apologetics, was an adult convert to Christianity. While he had previously authored some works on Christian apologetics and fiction with Christian themes he did not originally set out to incorporate Christian theological concepts into his Narnia stories. He explained that it was something that occurred as he wrote them!
(No doubt, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I would say).
C. S Lewis explains that his character of Aslan, the Great Lion, "is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He [Christ] would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called "The Lion of Judah" in the Bible; (c) I'd been having
about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this:
(Again, I might add, without a doubt, C. S Lewis was surely guided by the Holy Spirit).
The Magician's Nephew - tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - reveals the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Aslan ( figure of Jesus Christ).
Prince Caspian - shows restoration of the true religion after corruption.
The Horse and His Boy - is about the calling and conversion of a heathen.
The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" - is a commentary on the spiritual life.
The Silver Chair - exposes the continuing war with the powers of darkness.
The Last Battle - presents the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape), the end of the world and the Last Judgment."
Last night I watched this film, Prince Caspian.
I reflected on the scene where the Great Lion Aslan appears to the young girl, Lucy who still has the pure, simple, innocent, sincere, trusting belief of a child who does not doubt and who loves her Mighty King and precious Friend with all her heart and soul and is intensely seeking Aslan in faith, as she is need of his powerful help to overcome evil. She has had a glimpse of Aslan (who in the previous book had been killed, died and was now resurrected in Glory) with her eyes of faith and knows she has seen him. She has heard Aslan's call to the four children that they should follow him as he would lead them to safety. Yet, her brothers and sister being older now their faith has weakened, and they have become more self –sufficient in their own minds, relying on their own strength, ideas, and plans. They ask Lucy, why they are unable to see Aslan as she does. And as they cannot see him with their eyes (because of their lack of faith) they choose to distrust and follow their own way not the way of Aslan as shown to Lucy, only to wind up totally lost and in danger! After this, they turn back to Lucy and believe her witness of Aslan, and their faith is renewed and they trust in the unseen Aslan and his love for them and his help them to guide them safely. It is then that Aslan reveals himself to the older children and they "see" him.
Christ Jesus after His Glorious Resurrection no longer walked among His apostles in the flesh, but appeared and manifested Himself to them periodically in His Risen Glorified Body in order to strengthen their faith and teach them over a period of 50 days until His Ascension into Heaven to learn to walk by the Spirit and trust in His unseen Presence. With diminishing post Resurrection appearances Christ Jesus would develop their eyes of faith teaching them to trust that He remains always with them by His Spirit, loving, guiding and protecting them. When Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son to all those who believe and are baptized into His Name.
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him.' Behold, I have told you."
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did Him homage. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.'
And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
As I was absorbed in meditating on the deep spiritual meanings in this film, the Holy Spirit refreshed my mind with a beautiful memory of a precious blessing that the Lord Jesus bestowed upon me when I too yearned for Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength with the simple trusting faith like a child, just as Lucy desired Aslan in
On March 1, 2000, I had a mysterious and wondrous encounter with the living Christ which one day I will share in another account. This "meeting" occurred three months after my conversion (of early January 2000) on the evening of the day when I had been "prayed over" by several holy women to receive
"Baptism in the Holy Sprit."
On that night the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit manifested Himself intimately and unexpectedly by me that evening when I was in my bedroom lying next to my older daughter who was then 5 years old. I was praying to help her fall peacefully asleep. This is a story for another time. Today I will share what the Lord desires I tell you. Exactly, one year to the day, on the one year anniversary of that previous inexpressible mystical encounter with my Lord, on March 1, 2001, I went to my own bedroom after putting my children to bed to pray. I lifted my heart and soul to Jesus with all my strength, and fervor of love hoping and longing to experience my Lords' intimate Presence in the same way as the prior year, if He would come to me again as He did then. Oh how I wanted to re-experience Him in such an awesome way!
I prayed as like a young girl head over heels in love, longing for her lover to come and be with her. I expressed the deepest longings of my heart that evening for such a reunion. But it did not come. I understood as time passed in my prayer that Jesus was not going to reveal Himself in the same way. I accepted this revelation. He blessed me with a deep sense of peace. And before I drifted off to sleep I said to Him in simple childlike faith, with reverent trust, "Lord you are infinite, beyond seeking out, the human mind cannot conceive the greatness of who You are, nor can they imagine what You have in store for those who love You…how unfathomable are the manifold ways in which You may choose to reveal your love and mercies to the ones who love You."
But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him
(First Corinthians 2:9)
Nothing mystical had taken place during the prayer. I knew He was there by pure faith. I fell asleep in the peace of Christ like a little child who falls asleep in the arms of her father. The following morning, my youngest daughter who was 3 1/2 years old at the time, came into my bedroom and climbed on my bed. The first words she spoke to me that morning were, "Mommy, Mommy, I had a dream!" I observed her joyful face and the delight in her voice as she told me this. I asked her quite unassumingly, "What did you dream about, sweetie? She responded with glee, "I dreamt about Jesus!" I looked her over carefully and wondered if it could really be so. She had never told me that she had a dream before, and certainly this was not an ordinary dream to say the least. Until that time, I had never been able to take my children to church because my husband who was an atheist would not permit it. So it seemed quite extraordinary that she should dream about Jesus as she had had such limited exposure to Him and there seemed to be no reason for such a dream " out of nowhere" so to speak, arising from her own child's mind with nothing evident from her own experience to provoke such thoughts in her sleep. As I was gazing at her and wondering what to ask her next about her dream, she blurt out, "Jesus gave me bread. But Daddy took it away." I was astounded by this. As I was formulating how to respond, she continued, "But don't worry Mommy, Jesus hugged me and He gave it back to me." I was speechless.
She had no knowledge of the sacrament of Holy Communion. She had never been to church and never witnessed a Mass, and had never received Holy Communion nor had she any teaching on the subject from me or anyone else. I had only been practicing my Christian faith for one year since my conversion and was absorbed in my own spiritual growth and had not ye begun to "train up" my toddlers in the Holy Faith. I was several years away even from entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. I was then a practicing evangelical my first year believing in Jesus. It was not possible that my little daughter who was not yet 4 years old could dream such a profound dream from her own understanding. The dream contained sublime Christian spiritual symbolism and divine revelation, even a prophecy that during the following ten years was revealed in time to be true.
Looking back in hindsight, her dream can be understood in depth. But there is more. In awe and amazement, I asked her a straightforward question, "Leila, did you see Jesus?" At this she leaned her head backwards as if raising her face to Heaven, with her eyes closed tightly as if she was remembering a beautiful vision in her mind's eye, and raising her little arms out and up into the air with her little fists closed in an action of spontaneous adoration, she replied most sincerely, " Oh Yes Mommy, He is beautiful and golden and shining like a star!" My breath was taken away at these words as I knew from her life experience to date she could not envision the Risen and Glorified Jesus Christ from her own imagination nor proclaim words of such depth and revelation from her own mind.
Then I turned to see whose Voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw … one like a Son of Man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around His chest. The hair of His head was as white as white wool or as snow, and His eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished brass refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand he held seven stars. A sharp two-edged sword came out of His mouth, and His face shone like the sun at its brightest. When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.
(Revelation 1: 12-19)
In the vision I saw during the night….as I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took His throne. His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on His head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where He sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads attended Him. The court was convened, and the books were opened.
I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain and its body thrown into the fire to be burnt up.
The other beasts, which also lost their dominion, were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a Son of Man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When He reached the Ancient One and was presented before Him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away. His kingship shall not be destroyed.
(Daniel 7: 9- 14)
I knew she had told me the truth. My three year old daughter had been visited by the Lord Jesus and had truly seen the Risen Christ during the night. He had come to my little child in the night instead of to me. Through her, He had come to me in a way that I could never have dreamt, let alone ever thought to ask of Him
"Things never happen the same way twice,"
said Aslan to Lucy. Wonderful, Merciful Jesus, in His unfathomable love He received the love from my small heart and heard the yearnings and longings of my soul for intimacy with Him and had responded generously in an unimaginable way through my own daughter, blessing both of us and glorifying His mercy and kindness to His children both young and old. Jesus had revealed to Leila that He is the true Bread of Life and that she should not be afraid of those who in their ignorance would want to keep her from Him. Jesus is always with us, even when He cannot be seen with our eyes. He is with us by His Spirit. He showed Leila that He will comfort her and give Himself to her, as she belongs to Him, as a daughter and heir of the great King, He will return to her what rightfully belongs to her. The arrogant proud will one day be brought low and all peoples and nations from the beginning of time until the last day will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2: 6-11)
Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
For the past month I have been suffering with an outbreak of acne at age 51! It seems likely that this condition is a side effect of menopause. Treating the problem with topical solutions and covering the spots with makeup, these past four weeks have shed some light on the residual vanity that still remains in my nature. Yesterday when I addressed this with my Lord, and acknowledged that I still was self–conscious about the image of my face, and asked His help to both heal these blemishes and increase His grace of humility in me, He responded with two blessings. Today, it seems that the acne is subsiding! I give You all the praise and glory, my Lord, my Healer. Thank you! Secondly, Jesus reminded me of that time long ago when He had heard the cry of my teenage heart for His help and He had taken pity on me and healed me, but much like the
ungrateful nine lepers
who did not return to show their appreciation to the Lord for His mighty and merciful healing, I, like them, did not think to give God the glory nor thank the Lord Jesus at that time because
I was far from Him, living for myself and not for God, and did not then have faith.
As He continued His journey to Jerusalem, He traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As He was entering a village, ten lepers met Him.
They stood at a distance from Him and raised their voice, saying,
"Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!"
And when He saw them, He said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
Then He said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."
I was about fifteen years old living at home with my parents and sisters in New Jersey. I had for a long time been embarrassed by a cluster of flat warts/plantar warts that had gradually grown on my adolescent face following some exposure to the virus, HPV. Finally, I asked my father, a doctor himself, if he could help me find a way to get rid of them. He made an appointment for me for a consultation with one of his doctor colleagues, a dermatologist practicing in town. My condition was diagnosed as
Juvenile Flat Warts (Verruca Plana)
and I was scheduled to have them removed the following morning in the doctor's office. The dermatologist had explained that he would perform a common procedure called Cryotherapy. During this process, the affected area is "shock frozen" with liquid nitrogen, also known as dry ice. After the treatment, a blister will form and healthy skin should appear after about one week. While flat warts are not dangerous, they are unsightly and can be even disfiguring. While they can disappear on their own, that process may take up to several years. My vanity had suffered long enough, I mused as a self – centered teenager and I could not wait several more years hoping they might go away on their own. But the thought of liquid nitrogen being put on face was scary for teenager. That night before I went to bed, I called out to God in my fear. My prayer was not a conversation with a dear and beloved Friend but more like a cry to an unknown God who just might be there, much like you would expect from the "proverbial atheist" as his ship is sinking and he finds the fear of death in his heart and mind to much to bear alone and
"from a distance"
he wails out to the God He doesn't believe in, the God He never had time for, the God that he never responded to who patiently and continually all his days beckoned him to come to Him in love,
"Lord, Save me!"
My prayer went something like that. I went to sleep. The next morning I arose and preparing to go to the doctor's office with my dad to have the dreaded procedure done once and for all, I went to wash my face and brush my teeth. I could not believe my eyes! There in the mirror I could see no flat warts. The ugly brown growths were completely gone. They had totally vanished in the night! I ran downstairs and asked my father to look at my face. He confirmed that not one remained. He had no explanation for their sudden disappearance. He called the dermatologist and told him that the procedure to remove the flat warts was no longer needed as they were just not there anymore. The dermatologist had no explanation to offer either for their sudden and total disappearance, as this doesn't happen. My father didn't know what else to say as a medical doctor to this mystery, but by the Holy Spirit's inspiration, I heard my dad say, "Doctor, you must have blessed those flat warts!" We laughed and thought no more of it. In the Lord's mercy, I had been totally healed of this unsightly condition in a spectacular way, but neither I nor my father understood. We did not have much faith and therefore, at that time we did not glorify God or even thank the Lord Jesus at all for the gracious miracle of healing that He had performed to draw our attention to His loving Presence.
Decades later, I had finally responded to Jesus' unrelenting and patient woos of love and had given my heart and life to the Lord and was no longer living for myself but for Him. During this first year of my new life as faith-filled Christian in 2000, at age 40, I attended a church service at a little Pentecostal Church in Pennsylvania. That Sunday there was a guest pastor invited to preach. He testified to the miraculous healing of his own father, who had prayed in fervent faith to Jesus in his living room before a burning fireplace the night before his scheduled surgery to have a large cancer tumor removed from his belly. The tumor could be clearly seen on all the imaging scans done in the large hospital in Texas where his father lived. The visiting pastor shared with the congregation the details of this miracle. When his father went to the hospital in the morning and they prepped him for surgery they looked again at the tumor only to discover it had completely disappeared. In hearing this awesome testimony of our Lord's power to heal and His love in doing so, the entire church, including myself, became ecstatic in worshipping Jesus.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever
(First Chronicles 16:34)
The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; His love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud
(Second Chronicles 5:13).
As I stepped out of the door onto the grassy lawn after the service, a light of divine understanding powerfully pierced my mind and heart and in that instance, the Holy Spirit showed me that it was He who had healed me decades before of my flat warts that night and I was overcome with emotion. I was full of joy and full of sorrow, simultaneously. I was beside myself with happiness and gratitude, as at that moment, because of having faith, I could see and know that it was the Lord who blessed me all those years ago with a miracle of healing. And yet, I had sorrow as I realized that in those earlier years of my life because I was being my own "god", I did not give Jesus the thanks due Him or glorify the Living God. Right then and there, outside the little church, I gave Him all my praise, 25 years overdue, and witnessed to everyone around me there on the lawn of the goodness and long-suffering patience of the Lord with me and with all sinners.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.
The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard "delay," but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance
(2nd Peter 3:8-9)