iComm – Confirmation Retreat 2017 Reflection

In the valley you made, you’re not meant to be.

-Sidewalk Prophets, Prodigal

Nothing happens without a cause in God’s plan. Maybe it means something when lyrics get stuck in my head even when I think it’s no longer applicable to me at the stage I am currently at in life.

So much of this retreat was wasted as I had mostly given up hope and refused to open up. I was so tired of emotional breakdowns at every camp, followed by self-conciousness, wondering if people thought less of me because I felt I appeared to always be in tears. I was so tired of feeling a spiritual high that eventually fades, especially the most recent one from Camp Empowered ’16 that disappeared without a trace once school and “the weight of the world” came into play..

To me, the Lord had always been an empathetic God who provides healing for those who have been hurt. I felt hopeless because no matter how much I told Him that I was emotionally, mentally and physically drained, it seemed to me I was talking to a wall in my daily prayer. I’m ranting to a silent listener who doesn’t offer to help. I seemed to forget that He is also a refiner and purifier who sometimes has to be stern to shape us in His likeness. (Malachi 3:3)

Only on the second night after being quite hysterical about the proceedings of the night session, a sudden realisation bloomed (like the flower of God’s Grace ;)), that maybe I overthink my problems, making them appear bigger than they seem, maybe I am making these problems my excuses for not putting in the effort required towards building my personal relationship with Christ, maybe it is time for me to take a step back from the quicksand of self pity and see the possibilities of gratitude and  positivity, maybe I was not offered comfort because it was not what I needed.
And I did get what I needed, in the form of unwelcome nagging from certain people in my life, and in the form of Almost Every Session in camp- prior to my realisation -which I chose to casually dismiss as unrelatable.

As I come to recall now, He (through the speakers) emphasised the importance of community, the people around us, to have respect for others even when their experiences differ from ours. Who am I to choose to be beyond empathising with others because of my “intellect”? I may have felt like a misfit occasionally and thus subconciously decided to stop trying to understand others as a defense mechanism, but who am I to block out people who did not purposely leave me out but happened to spark certain emotions in me simply because of who they are? I realise I need to stop isolating myself and enjoy what I can of community, especially those that will further nurture the relationship I have with Christ. Human relationships will never not be rocky, there will be some who test the limits of my patience and those who cause me to feel as though I have been repeatedly stabbed, and yet I should remember that he called us to love, regardless. Furthermore, I also recall a sharing about friends acting as harsh but well-meaning reminders for us to question our intentions behind the actions that we take that do not seem wrong which fits perfectly as a description for my sponsor’s criticisms and serves as a reminder to take things from a positive and growing perspective. Of course there will be words that scream injustice and misunderstanding, I pray for the wisdom to differentiate between the two and respond accordingly. I am reminded that while important to keep in touch with emotions, I should not allow feelings to become obstacles in my faith journey. After all, while the Lord speakes to us in examen through emotions, it is important to be clear about who is speaking. Is it really His voice? Or is it my selfish desires speaking over God?

Apart from that, sharings within the group reminded me that I may not have an entirely perfect loving family, but I still have more than some others. My relationship with family has definitely improved and my sister’s return to my school- despite many rough patches -was not as bad as I anticipated. I feel this is something I should be grateful for as I patiently await the complete mending of my relationship with certain family members. I am affirmed it will happen by a testimony also during this retreat.

Finally, while this camp has stood out like a sore thumb in being a slap in the face instead of the usually consolating experiences I’ve had, my overall takeaway is to embrace positivity  and gratitude while eradicating sloth that prevents me from fulfilling my responsibilities as not only a Child of God to rebuild my relationship with Him and refine my people skills but as a scholarship recipient to procrastinate less and better manage time for schoolwork.

School restarts tomorrow, pray for me. Everyone has flaws so please be kind about mine that I shared above. I wanted to do reflection for last years catechism programme camp in this same post but decided that I would share it in another post due to the difference in theme 🙂 Do look forward to my testimonial! ♥

Compilation of Bible Verses 2016

1 Corinthians 12:23 the parts of the body which don’t look very nice are treated with special modesty

We are all part of the Body of Christ and should help others without counting the cost nor expecting to receive just as one would not make the feet pay when the hand helps to wear a shoe.

John 1:2 Jesus’ mother then told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Though Jesus protested that his time had not yet come, Maty was the first to have had faith in Him and led Him to perform His first miracle and the disciples then believed in Him. Reminding us that our parents are here to guide us closer to God, as is the purpose for all human relationships.

Genesis 40:20 You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good.

Everyone is given free will and thus it is possible for bad things to happen. However, Our All Powerful Fatger has His ways to turn it into good as long as we turn to Him and let Him guide us to fulfill His purpose.

For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Malachi 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. 

In refining silver, the silversmith must be by the fire constantly as the silver will be injured if the time were exceeded by the slightest. He knows the process is completed when the silver shows his reflection.

John 20:11 Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore full of big fish, a hundred and fifty-three in all; even though there were so many, still the net did not tear.

The disciples went back to fishing instead of preaching after the Lord’s death and yet He comes to them as He would come to find us, His lost sheep. The net also did not tear unlike before His death, symbolising that His death will enable salvation for all 153 fish (the total amount of species known at that time representing all humans)

John 21:15-17 Do you love me?

He asks Peter Do you love me thrice to close the distance created when Peter denied Him thrice. Even when we do not know, He comes to us when we have left Him. He is like Google Maps and no matter how many wrong turns we make He will just say ‘Recalculating..’ and give us directions to our destination on the journey to salvation.

Psalms 23:4 Your rod and your staff are there, to hearten me.

Sheep will not move to eat grass even uf the gate is open to a grassy field, they need to be prodded to do so. Just as humans are seemingly blind towards the path to salvation, thus the Lord guides us like the Good Shepherd He is.

There were more verses in my collection but I was tired already/ I did not feel like I need to share those?

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

 

Advent: A Time of Preparation

img_20161205_180016Making way for Jesus in our hearts.

Blessed Christmas! I did a fast on selected social media accounts. Especially those that brought a lot of negativity into my life. For example, snapchat where a certain friend is constantly wallowing in self-pity, or my private Instagram account which follows people who constantly rant etc. It only dampened my mood, and I was of no help as I couldn’t seem to empathise and only secretly thought of these people as making big issues of trivial problems. Since so, instead of doing no one any good while sinking deeper into sin due to becoming negative myself and mocking others struggles, I acknowledge my shortcomings in this area and evacuated losing battle grounds.

The grand problem is that of ‘Unselfishness’. Note, once again, the admirable work of our Philological Arm in substituting the negative unselfishness for the Enemy’s positive Charity. Thanks to this you can, from the very outset, teach a man to surrender benefits not that others may be happy in having them but that he may be unselfish in forgoing them.

Reminder that there should be a purpose behind fasting! Eg forgoing more negative platforms for more positive ones or using the time to help out around the house (which I didn’t do so much) or in prayer.

p.s. I’m quite amused by the fact that I broke my snapchat streaks to build a prayer streak with Him.

Ppppppp

 

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis Reflection

Horrendously disconcerting but genius and humbling. Good book for examination of conscience. Possible ways to fall into wrong, including during pursuit of righteousness are listed in avid detail for us to know thine enemy as we know thineself. Everyone will relate to different parts of the book more, depending on which act one is more prone to. It can be quite draining to read as well. Personally, I was close to tears at certain parts of this book.

*this is a reflection of takeaways from the book, meaning I won’t be quoting descriptions that were relatable to me personally or those that were good straightforward reminders because you can read it yourself, rather the more thought provoking ones and how I interpret it. Those that are too many sentences have also been omitted. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments!

“Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble”, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed. “

Certain sins are very hard to avoid by simply telling yourself to do the opposite. It is like trying to forget an incident by telling yourself “Do not remember that time when..”. Therefore, a more plausible solution would be to admit the mistake and leave the matter.

“Give without fail in your next letter a full account of the patient’s reactions to the war, so that we can consider whether you are likely to do more good by making him an extreme patriot or ardent pacifist”

Supporting a good cause with wrong intentions or reasons is no better than not doing anything. As in the story where the tempter wants the ‘patient’ to develop towards the ulterior motives under the pretext of these causes. HOWEVER, these reasons may be an easier way to lead oneself into wonderful things. (eg friends in church that make one want to go to church which eventually leads one to Christ)

“By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. “

Dishonesty to oneself is dishonesty no less. Furthermore, Genesis 1:31 God saw all he had made and it was very good. Why would His virtue ask of us to doubt His work?

“The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it if he would be if it had been done by another.”

And this, is the antidote to envy and the means by which to be generous with affirmation.

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity”

The present is the only point in time where acting is possible. And acting out our faith makes us closer to God whuch is eternity. Let us not be controlled by planning for the future, eg scrimping and being a Scrooge to have wealth in the future nor dwell on the past where there’s nothing to be done anymore, but to use the past as lessons for the present and only refer to the future enough to do what we ought now.

Camp Empowered 2016 Reflection

IMG_20161215_213802.jpg
stars visible above campsite @ Ranchan, Serian during a power trip, ©Hobart Kho

 

long story short: acting on knowledge and rediscovering how simple a relationship with Our Father in Heaven is. 

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

He is the One, all else are zeroes, the only zeroes that add value are those placed behind the One.

Focus on building a relationship with Him and from there one will be able to pull strength.

How to reach Him?

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living and active.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.

Pray to build a relationship with God, one similar to any other human relationship. Tell Him about your day, beyond please, thank you and sorry. At the same time, Matthew 7:7 Ask and ye shall receive

On identity: Trust yourself to be moulded only by God.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world

John 17:14 I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.

He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him. – C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. – C.S. Lewis

On the body:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.

Finally, to ACT on these takeaways as..

Active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened – C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

* will do a post on my favourITE bible quotes soon 🙂

* Been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis recently, excuse the lack if variety in quotes.