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LENTEN REFLECTION

Forgiveness

Forgiveness - an 11-letter word that looks simple but made complicated by man.
I have had the opportunity of listening to the song written and sung by Matthew West entitled "Forgiveness", which was based on a story sent to him by a mother who lost her daughter to drunk driving. The forgiving part happened when the mother went to see the drunk driver in jail and forgave him and helped him appeal to cut his jail sentence in half!
Scriptures says in Matthew 6:14, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you..."
Being a mother myself, I can never imagine myself being in her position - but she did what God would have done - she forgave the young man who killed her daughter.
We don't need to be in this kind of situation to test our Christian ability to forgive - mistakes are made, a wrong word is uttered or we are rubbed the wrong way and it happens - we curse, we hate, we seek revenge - our minds are filled with rage and all we can ever think of is that we want to hurt those who hurt us.
It often happens to the people closest to us - a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend. Careless words and thoughtless actions are said and done when we get upset or mad. We are hurting and therefore we want to hurt others too - hurting people hurt people.
At times I ask myself, why do I get mad? What triggers it? Why do I want to get even? Was my life threatened that it enraged me so much? Did the other person do something to me that is simply unforgivable?
And I realized that most of the times, the root of our anger and unforgiveness in our daily lives is pride. We cannot simply accept that someone said or did something to us that hurt us, mostly our pride.
Somebody may have said something we feel is uncalled for because it hit a nerve or two. Or someone did something we did not like that we felt insulted. Whatever it is, it is always something that we think we do not deserve, something that we think is unfair for us.
But come to think of it - is it really that bad that we should lose sleep over it? Is it really that unfair that we keep on thinking about it? Is it really so unjust that we talk about it all the time and harbor resentment against the other person?
Sometimes we say that we have already forgiven the offender, but have we really? Then why do we still think about it, talk about it and feel bad about it? How then can we say that we have truly forgiven?
We may say that we are justified to be angry, to be upset, to not forgive easily because we have been maltreated or that we have been offended several times and we believe that we do not deserve such treatments and that once or twice is more than enough.
And how many times should we forgive? Are we justified in our anger and hatred when we have been hurt or insulted more than once?
In Matthew 18:21-22, when Peter asked how many times he should forgive a brother who sinned against him, he asked Jesus if he should forgive until seven times. Jesus instead told him, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. "
70 x 7 times - that is a lot! What does this mean? Did Jesus really want us to count the times that we were hurt and when it reaches 491st time we are already justified to fight back, to hurt that person back?
I don't think so. I believe that Jesus only used this number to tell us that we should forgive as many times more than we can count in our hands - He is telling us to lose track of count and forgive anyway.
Besides, just like what the lyrics of the song says, when we do not forgive, the person who we hurt the most is ourselves. Carrying grudges and plotting ways of how to get even with the person who hurt us is not only detrimental to our health - but also a poison to our soul.
Jesus taught us love and humility and I believe that these two qualities are what we need to be able to truly forgive and live a life of happiness and peace.
Blessed lenten season to everyone!
Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all.
Ning

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Christ-Like Leadership

Servant Leadership

I have read several articles about this topic and I wonder if I will be able to fully explain in simple terms what servant leadership is all about.
One article said that to be a servant leader does not mean that you have to do things for your subordinates or followers. It does not mean waiting on them while they eat lunch or following them around to be at their beck and call.
Another article said that servant leadership does not mean allowing your subordinates to boss you or push you around. It does not mean delaying the decision making because of not getting the agreement from all parties.
So how do we define servant leadership and how can we call a leader a servant leader?
Servant leadership is best defined by how Jesus led His disciples - Jesus led by example and He led by walking the talk.
Jesus' way of leadership was clearly described in John 13:12-15: When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" He asked them. "You call Me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you".
To know what you are saying therefore, is not enough - you have to do what you say as well. If one is to be a servant leader, he cannot say something and do another thing. He has to be consistent - his words and his action should be in sync.
A servant leader values diverse opinions, but makes firm decisions. He weighs each person's contribution and discerns if it is a self-serving opinion or something that would benefit the whole organization.
A servant leader applies the replication factor - he develops other leaders by teaching and providing others the opportunities for growth and development as future leaders of the group. He is willing to give up power by allowing others to demonstrate their leadership skills in adhoc committees and programs of the group.
A servant leader looks after his people's growth not only in their involvement in the community but also in their personal well-being. A servant leader helps his subordinates in dealing with their personal issues as well in order for them to become more effective future leaders.
A servant leader is involved - and an "encourager". He says "Let us do it". He does not just delegate, but also helps and encourages his subordinates.
A servant leader does not dominate or command - he instead persuades. He would sell the idea to his subordinates for them to have a sense of ownership, instead of merely telling them about his idea or plans.
A servant leader thinks of others before himself. He is a selfless leader who always asks himself how his action or decision will benefit the group, and not himself personally.
A servant leader is not limited by short-term plans. He is a long term planner and therefore makes decisions or choices based on how it will impact the future generations. He always take into consideration how his choices will affect the organization, its plans and programs and its future leaders in the years to come.
Most of all, a servant leader always acts with humility. He does not use his title to show off or to announce who is in charge. He does not look down on others and always acts with others in mind. He humbly performs even the lowliest job in the community if needed, without feeling disgraced and humiliated.
After all, a servant leader knows that it is not all about him, but about God and others. And he is always guided by what Jesus said in Mark 9:35 "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all".

Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all. - Ning

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THE POWER OF GIVING (Tithes)

Giving

When I first started tithing I did it out of responsibility. I did it because God said in Deuteronomy 14:22, "You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year."
This was further reinforced by Leviticus 27:30, "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord."
And so therefore it was final: I Must tithe. "Tithe" by the way means "a tenth portion".
But then I realized that I was giving begrudgingly. I was questioning how my tithes should be computed: should it be 10% of my gross income or 10% of my income net of tax and other deductions? I was like a child told to do something that I did not want to do so I was obeying halfheartedly.
At that time, I always wanted to make sure that I was only giving exactly a tenth of my earnings because I was worried that I may not have enough left to pay the bills and food and condo maintenance fees, etc. and also to send as allowance to my mom back home.
So what happened to Proverbs 3:9, "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce"?
I don't give my full tithes to just one church or to just our prayer group. I allot amounts to the churches I go to as well as to our prayer group. And then it started happening.
Every prayer meeting, I always have a certain amount in mind that I would give as love offering. But strange things have been happening. During the exhortation portion of our prayer meeting, I believe that God spoke softly to me and asked me to give a different amount - bigger than what I intended to give.
At first I was hesitant...and doubtful. Is it really God? Does He really want me to give that much? Then I started "negotiating" with God. At one time I said something like "But isn't this amount more than enough? I am already fulfilling my obligation if I give this amount, am I not?" and at one time I said "Can I just give this much now and then I will give more next time?"
But God was persistent and insistent on the specific amount and when He wants me to give it, so I would end up giving in but with a worry at the back of my mind that it will surely affect my budget.
And then He made miracles - God gave me back the same amount or more in many a  different ways! I can't even describe how awestruck and amazed I was with all that He was doing in my life! He was true to His words in Malachi 3:10, "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."
After that I learned to listen intently to His voice (although I would admit that sometimes I still attempt to negotiate with God). And I also started giving freely, wholeheartedly and generously, I would say, compared to how I gave in the past.
Remember 2 Corinthians 9:7, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."?
Once He asked me to give some money to one of our members after the prayer meeting. I thought okay since it has been a while since this member attended our prayer meeting. Well what do you know? She showed up! Can you imagine my surprise?! I did give her what God told me to give her but interestingly I gave it without any hesitation on my part. Besides, if God says so, then it is so. And He has always been true to His promises.
Proverbs 11:24, "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want."
He has shown me so much wonderful things that I now view tithes and love offerings differently. I know that God loves me so much and He gives me what I ask of Him if He knows that it is what is best for me, so I figured, why can I not do the same thing to Him? Well not the "what is best for Him" part but the part where "I should give to Him what He asks of me because I love Him". Besides everything I am and everything I have are from Him in the first place and I am a mere steward of all these things.

Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all. - Ning

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"Musings on Music - Blessings "

What happens next after we die? I wonder where my spirit will go - to heaven? Or to Hell? Will I finally be able to see the face of God? Or the face of that who causes so much trouble, pain and anguish on earth?

I have had these thoughts for a while now - I guess I have reached that age where I see the world as my temporary residence and I start to think about the afterlife and where I will end up or where my permanent residency will be.

Oftentimes I would visualize myself in front of the pearly gates of heaven speaking to St. Peter, the gatekeeper, who tells me that although I was not perfect, my efforts were not in vain for God saw my desire to do good and be good. And if that was not enough St. Peter will then allow me entry through the gates. But before he lets me in he will open the book of life and beside my name he will stamp the words: REDEEMED BY JESUS' BLOOD AND ALLOWED ENTRY BY GOD'S GRACE AND MERCY - in red bold letters.

I know that I can never get to heaven if I will only rely on my own strength and my own efforts - after all, the good that I have done will not suffice - but only by God's mercy and grace.

And how will I react if ever I finally come face to face with the God who so loves and adores me? Wow! The surge of emotions and feelings already overwhelms me by just the thought of it. I love God so much and there is nothing else in this world that I would want than to be able to stand in front of Him, the God who loves me more than I can ever imagine or dream of, the God who loves me as if there is only me to love.

This song by Mercy Me accurately describes how I imagine myself in front of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings - I will not know whether I should stand or kneel or lay prostrate on the ground. I will not be sure whether I will be singing Him praises and glorifying Him endlessly or will I be so tongue-tied in awe and amazement that I will just stare at Him and cry and cry and cry...

At this point that is all I can do, imagine. But while I am here on earth I must do what He tells me to do so that when I finally come to meet Him face to face, His warm, welcoming embrace will quell all my anxieties - and I will just do what I believe He expect from me at that point -hug Him back and say, "Thank you God for loving me this much!"

Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all.
Ning

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Jezu Ufam Tobie

dm

On April 27, 2014, we celebrated "Divine Mercy Sunday". The annual plenary indulgence and celebration was lauded by all devotees at the St. Peter Catholic Church at Bathurst, Ontario, Canada. It was realized through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God's vineyard especially tireless pastoral work of the Parish with full cooperation of the Holy Redeemer Choir, Holy Family Prayer group and the Living for Christ Prayer Communities. It was a very special occasion where Our Lord's Divine Mercy Sunday grants forgiveness of all sins and punishment on the Feast of Divine Mercy for even the most hardened sinners!
We commemorated God's infinite love and mercy which Pope Francis canonized two Popes to Sainthood as he presided over the ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica declaring Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII saints.

Watch and read more

You can trust that God knows your abilities. He places specific opportunities before you and give you the tools you need to accept and fulfill them. When God open a door, it will stay open as long as he wants; no person can close it. But you must walk through the open door!

We Missed our Paulist Fathers

"SAYING GOOD BYE TO THE PAULIST FATHERS "

Honouring
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An Open Letter to the Paulist Fathers

On May 29, 2015, the Living for Christ Prayer Community, had the privilege to come together to show respect, create unity, and convey to the Paulist Fathers our overwhelming love and gratitude for them. 

Thank you for being our 24-hour servant-leaders to guide us in following God’s plan of abundant life.  Thank you for your commitment in teaching us eternal truths, for us to receive, comprehend and apply to our lives.

We want you to know that we appreciate and love you. We will hold you up in our prayers constantly. We will pray that God will richly bless you and your families. You are truly a blessing to any church. Thanks to each and every one of you. We love you and admire you.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.
 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Sis Gina

To watch Saying Thank you here.
Dance

"Truths about Love: God Loves Unconditionally"

"Musings on Music "

Have you ever wondered why God is so interested in us out of all His creation?

Have you ever stopped and thought about why He treats us with such esteem despite our wicked and weak nature? And why He loves us and continues to seek us even when we turn our backs on Him or hide from His presence?

Have you ever wondered why God continues to care for us and answer our prayers even when most of the times we are so proud to claim credit for our talents and accomplishments that we forget to thank Him and give back the glory which is really due Him?

These are the questions that I had as I listened to Laura Story's song entitled Grace. After I learned the song, I would sing it almost every night and contemplate on its lyrics especially the chorus part - the conversation between man and God:

"I ask You how many times will You pick me up, when I keep on letting You down? And each time I will fall short of Your glory, how far will forgiveness abound?"

I am reminded of my weak human nature and I feel the guilt of my sinfulness, my stubbornness - how can I be so hard-headed that I keep on sinning against my God? And yet every time I fall down, He never fails to extend His hand to help me up, to encourage me to try again?

"And You answered, 'My child, I love you and as long as you're seeking My face, you'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient Grace'."

I realized that God loves me despite my sinfulness, my human weakness, my inability to resist sin and temptation. As I revel at the lyrics of this song, I still could not comprehend how God can be so mindful of me despite my insignificance - I am a mere human being and God does not even need me, yet He created me in His image and gave me a crown of glory and honour and made a little lower than angels and put me in charge of all His creation! (See Psalm 8:4-6)

I am nothing without Him and He will still be God without me yet He cares for me as if I am the most important thing in the world? Why? Because He loves me! And He will continue to pour upon me His grace as a sign of His love for me - like the doting father of the prodigal son, God will continue to wait for my return and will always welcome me back with open arms - all I need to do is turn from my old ways and run back to Him!

Jesus Christ is my life, my joy, my all.
Ning

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