“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:31-32
Hi, I will be doing the daily lent reflection today. The past few weeks in camp honestly has been nothing short of tiring and very exhausting. I’m in my last few months in the service, hence we are preparing for our last final mission in May of which if we do well, we could possibly be best infantry unit in SAF for this year. That’s why it’s pretty much exhausting and all the past few weeks due to us being pushed really hard for our trainings and all, so that we can truly be the best. With many weekends burnt its just very sian. Furthermore the thoughts for signing on still linger, as its really a conflict of interests, as I love being a sergeant and leading my men, and weirdly as it sounds I truly love infantry and dwelling in jungles has really been made my second home.. But on the other side is what I wanted since I was young which is to start a family and be there for my wife and children, and i know for a fact that if I do sign on, my time home would be so constrained and I don’t want to be that kind of father to my children and husband to Sam. Which is why as much as it is physically exhausting its mentally exhausting as well because decisions have to be made soon as my ORD date draws nearer.
This year’s lent, I can honestly say with a lot of remorse that it has been my worst lent ever. Instead of seeing myself grow closer to God and all, I see myself becoming so stagnant in my faith and I hate it, because the emptiness is real. I stopped saying daily prayers, worship music became something I would skip on Spotify and I could just feel myself being far away from my faith and I hated it. And yesterday I was just speaking to Sam about it, and how I want to be back to my strong faith, I’ve strayed far enough and I’m not gonna stray anymore. The fire in me is dimly lit but it’s not out, and i’m going to make it ablaze come Easter. For it’s a new beginning for us and a rebirth.
The verse at the beginning of my text is the verse that struck me the most in today’s Gospel, which is from John 8: 31-42. This verse really sums up how I felt after telling Sam that I wanted to regain my faith, because truly I’ve been so enslaved to my work in the army, to my vices, drinking and whatsoever so much that I’ve been trapped because I was brushing off His word and truly I hated it. Freedom from all this chains is what I want, to leave my shackles at the foot of the cross, shackles that have held me back from the heart of Jesus. And this being today’s Gospel was just really such a sign of strength from God that He knows I want to come back and he is welcoming me with open arms and I’m running back towards Him. And i’m never looking back.
Trevor (5 April 2017)
Hello friends, so it’s my turn to do the scripture reflection recently I went for a retreat with the Lectors, and I feel that what was shared there is really applicable to us.
The retreat was about Mary being a disciple of Christ till the end. She was also the first true disciple of Christ. The 3 most important things that they shared was that, firstly, Mary always magnified the Lord. When she went to visit Elizabeth and her child leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth was telling Mary that she was blessed amongst women, the first thing Mary said was “my soul magnifies the Lord…” which we know as the Magnificat.
I think a lot of the time, I always fail to magnify the Lord. I blame Him when I run into trouble but I also call on Him when I need Him, and I never really thank Him in the good parts of life. Mary always made sure to magnify the Lord before herself. I’ve been really self-centered lately and saying that the Lord gives me hardships because He can, just wallowing in self-pity really. This also made me think (and I hope it provokes y’all to think as well, WHY are you serving in ministry?)
The second thing was definitive commitment. Mary was fully committed to being a servant of the Lord. When the Angel Gabriel came and told her she was to bear a son (she was probably like 13+, as in the old days), most people probably would be saying like “no i’m too young” or “no I can’t raise a child at 13” but all she said was “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to Your will.”
I used to struggle with this commitment thing when I first joined Acts. My parents were always going on and on about how I spend too much time in church and whether i’m actually studying and what church will get me in the future. That made it so so hard for me to commit to being a child of God. Furthermore, being a student at a secular school, it’s even harder when some people made fun of me for not going to camps and all and for not being a “hyped-up” person. There was this one guy who asked one of my good friends, “What, is Tracie too Christian to be engaged in camps and all?”
Mary was so devoted to following the Lord’s will, even to witnessing her own Son dying on a cross for other people who couldn’t even care less. Can we even imagine the pain she must have felt when she held Jesus in her arms? It’s basically every parent’s worst nightmare, and how Sr Sandra (sessionist for the retreat) defined it was super great. She said usually as humans, we always give our best and hope we get something in return (e.g divorce). We can say we want to follow Jesus, but what if He wants us to do something that we normally wouldn’t do?
Growing up in a family that didn’t and still doesn’t embrace Christ, having my eyes opened up to the faith at 15 was one of the greatest blessings ever. It showed me that even though my family doesn’t exactly embrace Christ, I don’t have to be like them. I don’t have to feel sorry for loving Him.
The third thing was walking the Way of the Cross. Jesus suffered a lot during His walk to Calvary, and during his mission. Mary also suffered a lot, during the pain of childbirth, when she fled to Egypt to escape Herod, and when she saw her Son being rejected in his mission. She suffered even more at the foot of the Cross.
I think i’m very guilty of only serving Jesus when it’s convenient to me. I never want to undergo suffering in the name of Jesus because i’m scared it’s gonna hurt, or simply because i’m just lazy. Last time in Acts, I never wanted to take on any major role like heading up canteen duty or what, because I didn’t want to do the work especially the saikang kind of work. Then when I think about how Jesus suffered for me, I feel super guilty. It’s kind of a vicious cycle really. Another thing is that we tend to treat God as a punching bag. We always say “why me?” during our times of struggle and we blame every single thing on Him.
After that retreat, I now aim to say “How do I get through this, Lord?” Pope Francis once said that when we journey without carrying our Cross, we aren’t being disciples of the Lord.
Also, you know that feeling when you find a song that really speaks to you and you get this whole epic hype feeling running through you? Yeah, I found a song like that yesterday and the opening lyric and the closing lyric really REALLY spoke to me.
“the only thing I want in life, is to be known for loving Christ
to build his Church, to love His bride, to make His Name known far and wide”
“it is not fame that i desire, nor stature in my brother’s eye
I pray it’s said about my life, that I lived more to build Your Name than mine”
I’m so sorry that this reflection is so long, I’ve just really been dying to share this retreat experience with someone and I GET TO SHARE IT WITH YOU GUYS
Tracie (3 April 2017)
Hey guys! Here’s my reflection for today. So the two scripture verses I’ll be doing this reflection is from Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”, and in 2 Thessalonians 3:13, it says “Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.” Over the past week, this word PERSEVERANCE has popped up a few times in prayer and in Mass and Stations of the Cross. So I knew that God was trying to tell me something.
There were many times during this Lenten journey that I felt that I’ve done enough and it’s okay to skip one mass since I was REALLY tired and wanted to sleep in (especially on Saturdays). I think for the second week of Lent I went for Stations of the Cross after Mass at St Anne’s Church, and a few things really hit me. Firstly, it was at the 10th station where Jesus is nailed to the Cross and the reflection prayer that we said was “Is my soul worth this much?” and I was just so mind-blown and my heart was so tilted/stirred thinking about that question. Secondly, it was at the station where Jesus fell the 3rd time. Jesus fell 3 times on the way to Calvary, and yet He still got up and staggered on, even though He hardly had any strength left. This perseverance and this will that is ours and cannot be taken away from us was another mind-blowing concept for me. So every time I felt like I’ve done enough and I sort of have the “leeway” to just skip one mass, I thought of these two things. 1) JESUS LITERALLY SUFFERED LIKE MAD AND DIED FOR ME. 2) JESUS GOT UP AND STAGGERED ON. Like #perseverance?? I persevered and went on too.
As I was struggling with another of my Lenten commitments during one of the weeks of Lent, I shared my struggles with one of my sisters from this group I’m journeying with, and she told me something that struck me. “God knows your pain, and remember that Jesus was tempted by the devil on the very last day, the 40th day of His time in the desert. Just when we think we’ve been doing so well, the devil knows how to make us feel all good and happy with the state and lose our guard in keeping faith. So stand firm and strong, and yes, endure it for the Lord for He is greater!” and I was like WOAH YA!! He was tempted on that very LAST DAY. And so this also encouraged me to keep pressing on and that even when I fall, I should not despair because it’s in our nature to fall, and the best part is, I will remember that that’s EXACTLY why I need Jesus.
I believe that God has been reminding me of the grace of perseverance that I’ve been given and to keep seeking Him in all of the things that I do. He’s also reminding me and you that our Lenten commitments aren’t the goals that we’re achieving but it’s through these little sacrifices, that we depend on God more.
Toni (2 April 2017)
Hi all it’s my turn to do reflection today !!!
I’m at a very low point in my life right now . I’ve been on a down hill since the start of this year after I think about it .
Academically I’m very unstable. I guess I am very affected by me not making the cut off point for Polytechnic Foundation Programme which means I have to go through a more tougher year compared to last year when I took my N’level exams . On my worst days I would not even bother doing anything in school for example there was this one day my mother scolded me in the car on the way to school for not being motivated to study and slacking . On that very day I had two term exams and I just went to the toilet and slept past the two exams over all I did fairly well and she slowed down the scolding .
My parents divorced at the end of last year but I’m not too affected my it because my father has already been gone for a very long time. But my mother is. She would cry night after night thinking she is committed a mortal sin divorcing my father, and as her child I am very saddened .
Physically I stopped gaining weight anymore because I started to lose appetite easily these few days and my NAPFA test shows that I’ve slowed down in training because I fell short of my records in secondary four.
As you can tell I’m not really in a good condition right now I can’t even tell what are my true emotions anymore . I would cry while talking about a non-sensitive topic for no practical reason .
Spiritually I’ve been going for my Thursday and Sunday morning masses but sinning is where I’m really falling off . I want to quote from what Nicole New said “choosing other things over god once, you’ll begin to think that it’s okay and do it again another time and another time until it doesn’t affect you anymore” this is very true for me I am devastated looking at myself like that because I never imagined myself doing the things I’m doing now. I still go for confession but I feel that it’s starting to be a weekly think so I feel is going no where. I’ve been doing my weekly readings on the bible and still pray about my problems (which I think will be solve by time)
The place I feel god is helping me the most is a companion that I’ve gotten quite close to since end last year . She has always been there for me since the start of this year for example she gives good advice and calms me when I feel overwhelmed in school . For example the day I collected my n level results I was super devastated that I didn’t make it I got my results before the rest of the cohort because I was the top ten and I called her first by the time she picked up I was in the toilet crying hysterically and she calmed me down before the prize ceremony and she continue to talk me through it after I came back from school . Another occasion is when my mum scolded me in the morning again but she was calling me names like useless and a burden to the family and it really hurt me . I messaged her and I cried in the toilet (again) until my fourth period which she calmed me down just so that I could go to class not looking like a complete mess.
Y’all, the acts 1:8 community had also helped me through my ups and downs with your sharing sessions to help me open up to more people and even help me with my bible readings with your bible phrases reviews.
I am very thankful to have y’all around I hope my prayer life will thrive on the up coming weeks so that my life will be back on track !!!
Sorry I didn’t have time to read the daily scripture as I’m in school 😦
Thanks for your time and I hope y’all have a wonderful day
(28 March 2017)
Hello, it’s my turn to do a reflection today. I hope you all have a blessed day!
Before this recent camp i’ve served at, Open Heaven, i’ve been struggling and beating myself up, sleeping all day and binge eating to fill this void in me that I’ve had for months. I didn’t know what to do about it thinking if I eat I can at least feel full and just pray about this void that just seems to be a black hole like for months of praying and trying to find the love and light to fill me.
At the camp, God placed me in a situation where everyone there was a stranger to me and all I knew was that they are a brother/sister in Christ. On Day 1 of the camp I really didn’t feel good, I felt alone and I also felt that we aren’t serving God but the participants to make them comfortable. I served logs but we didn’t really pray for strength to keep us going and the logs in Day 1 was the most intense other than packing logs on the last day. I asked a friend to pray with me at the end of the day about the camp and service team and as the saying “for where two or three people gather in my name, there am I with them” and as amazing God is, true enough our prayers were answered the very next morning.
I would like to bring up todays scripture
Isaiah 14:8 “In a time of favour I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you”
During the night of immersion as they wanted to recreate the act of Baptism, we had to fill two pools with water and one hose was too slow so we logs were carrying pails from the toilet to the pool and the rest of the service team started helping and they made a human chain all the way from the toilet to the pool and I felt truly blessed and thankful.
In this camp, I initially felt isolated but at the end I felt like I entered a room full of blessed, loving people that just accepted my deepest hurts and that void was filled. It was truly an open heaven.
Isaiah 49:15 says “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
– Sophia (29 March 2017)