Distractions

 The following is an article that I wrote under my pen name “Irinia Demkiw”
and it was published in “Progress” (a bi-weekly Ukrainian community newspaper)
and my irinademkiw.wordpress.com blog site on February 7, 2012.

(Note: Scriptures from Douay-Rheims Bible translation)

Sometimes when I want to hear God, little things can cause me to look away, to be distracted from God. Sometimes it might be a big thing. Sometimes it is not big. Sometimes, it might be a small thought. When I respond to distractions, I can be easily lead away from God’s plan for me. I am learning how weak I am.

I have been taught that thoughts come from three places: me, God and the enemy. My thoughts encourage me to think I can do whatever I want in my life and these thoughts lead me to sit on the throne of my life. The enemy’s thoughts encourage me to look away from God believing that everything is good and his goal is to rob me of my salvation. Thoughts from God will encourage me to trust and believe in Him, bringing me closer to Him and helping me to grow up spiritually to serve God and others; God is on the throne in my life – His throne.

The thoughts that are not from God; that is, myself or the enemy, usually come as distractions rather than revelations. These distractions are subtle and have an appearance as being good. I have heard from another person that “everything is good, but not everything is right.”

Some of the thoughts might seem like innocent fun that has a little evil in it. There is a scripture, Hosea 4:6, that says, “my people perish for lack of knowledge.” When we are living without an informed mind, we have lack of knowledge and what seems like an innocent bit of fun or entertainment could ultimately cost us our salvation.

Many people today love to play games with their minds that could be called “self-deception,” “self-indulgence,” and “self-fulfillment.” Here is a scripture that encourages me to grow and work at having a healthier mind:

But if you will discipline your thoughts and be willing to learn,
You will be kept safe in this life and will be granted mercy after death,
For judgment day comes after death.
Edras 14: 34,35

When I was a child, my mother often would say, “Oh, you August people are all alike!” I did not understand her message and when I grew to be about 12 years old, I asked her, “When you say “you August people are all alike,” what do you mean?” She responded that she heard from people through her life referring to horoscopes; that those in a category were the same personality and had a similar destiny. She said that the daily newspaper had a section and often she would glance at it and decided that there was some truth to it. I never questioned her if it was something that God would be pleased with and she never indicated that God was involved.

As I became an adult and had a time in my life that was stressful and difficult, I wondered about horoscopes and what message I might find that would be helpful to me. At the beginning, when I first began to check out “my sign” it seemed innocent and playful. My mother, I remembered, had mentioned it as something that she trusted. As days and months went along, I found myself eagerly checking out what was written for the day. A few times it seemed as if it was written especially for me. “Oh, my goodness,” were my thoughts as I rationalized the message into my life. Without meaning to, I was embracing this occult habit into my thinking. I never said that I believed it, but I was always “just checking” the horoscope for the day. I was doing all this without an informed mind or conscience. I would tell myself that I was just being playful.

What other games have I played? What about playfulness with tarot cards, palmistry, dreamology, numerology, etc. As a Christian, have I invited Jesus into the play? What will I do if Jesus refuses to play?

I had a time in my life when I never asked God for his opinion on anything I did. But after I got serious about my salvation, my relationship with my loving Heavenly Father helped me to understand that Jesus came to help me overcome anything that would try to take me away from God. Jesus called me to repent over these playful activities. At first, I was taken aback and could not see the harm. I did not want to give them up so I asked Jesus to teach me. Boy, I am really prideful wanting Jesus to tell me why I should not be in these playful activities.

Jesus gave the disciples two commandments:

You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and with your whole strength; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves, we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Moses provided us with God’s Ten Commandments:

I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not kill.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

You shall not covet you neighbor’s goods.

What I sensed I heard after being in prayer was that I was breaking the first commandment. God is all-knowing and omnipotent. When I need guidance, I am to go to God for help. I was not going to God for help but seeking direction from horoscope. Once I let the horoscope into my life, I was becoming desensitized and as many years passed by I began to look to other distractions, namely, palmistry, dreamology, numerology. I found that as I had embraced each of the seemingly innocent but dangerous activities, my love towards God was changing. I did not run to Him for guidance and help, but sought my answers in these distractions. God was so merciful to me. He did not disown me but sent me loving people (God with skin on) to help me understand that I had sinned. I repented and went to confession.

When I see someone else caught up in to these distractions, I want to run to them and say, “You need more knowledge about God and understanding that these playful activities will draw you away from God and cost you your salvation. Either God is God in your life, or these playful activities. Only God fits on the throne of your life. He loves you and desires the best for you and is eager for you to be with Him until the end of time. “

I thank my Jesus for helping me. When I sense I am being distracted from Him, I can ask for help and wisdom. It says in scripture:

9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find:
knock, and it shall be opened to you.
10For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth;
and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
11And which of you, if he ask his father bread,
will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion?
13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit
to them that ask him?
Luke 11:9-13

My God has rescued me again from being lost. Time with Him in prayer is sweet and I am peace-filled and wanting more of Him. Recently, someone asked me to spend 15 minutes in quiet, with a candle lit, without an agenda and just soak in God. I have done this. I want more.

 

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.

Steps to God: Holy Things

The following is an article that I wrote under my pen name “Irinia Demkiw”
and it was published in “Progress” (a bi-weekly Ukrainian community newspaper)
and my irinademkiw.wordpress.com blog site on January 22, 2012.

Note from author, Gloria Winn:
This message was written for the New Year of 2012 however since the New Year of the Church begins on September 1, I believe it is an appropriate message and timely.

 

May this year, 2012, be your best year yet. I wish each of you a “Holy” New Year.

I do not wish you a happy new year because I believe that the word “happy” limits the amount of joy that you might receive. The joy that the world gives at new year celebrations is carnal and does not sustain us for the whole year.

I believe that whatever is holy is the best and the joy of Jesus, having been received by us, is complete and will sustain us and re-create in us all that we need spiritually for the whole year and all of our lives. Imagine, complete joy! Awesome!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
(John 15:9-11 KJV)

Our Father has given us Jesus who is “God with us” and He is the best gift.

Whenever I am in a hard space and I step back and reflect on the words Jesus, Emanuel/Immanuel, meaning “God is with us” the depth of my discomfort lessens and I am strengthened. I am so grateful that God is with us all the time. He is with us every second and every breath. We have been promised that we would never be left alone – God is with us! Wow!

After a time of meditation, what came to me is “If God is with me, am I with Him? This caused me to reflect deeper. God’s Holy Word, Scripture, reveals that God sent His only Son Jesus – God with us. I understand that it means that God desires intimacy with me and loves me so much He would not leave me but always be with me. This thought touched me in my inner part – my heart. I looked back through my life and was able to find several instances where I realized that God was really there with me by the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
(Galations 5:22-23 KVJ)

I needed to go to pray and meditation regarding the words “am I with Him?”

Many years ago I had a spiritual mother who taught me a phrase that still causes me to take a deep breath and reflect. Her words were: “Do not do holy things without becoming holy.”

I have learned that I cannot make myself holy. Only God is holy and for me to become holy would be a work of His hands in me. But further, what I have learned is that the words of the Divine Liturgy help me to give myself to God so that I am with Him and giving him permission to do with me whatever He wants.

During our Divine Liturgy, we pray holy words but the effect of these words is limited unless we are heart connected. During our Divine Liturgy we commend ourselves and our whole lives to Christ our God three times.

Firstly, we pray these holy words at The Great Litany,

Remembering our most holy and immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, together with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

Secondly, we pray these holy words at The Litany of Supplication,

Having asked for unity of the faith and for the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

Thirdly, we pray these holy words at The Thanksgiving Litany.

Having asked that this whole day may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.

My challenge is to live the words passed to me by my spiritual mother, “Do not do holy things without becoming holy.”

Lord I cannot do this without you. Lord I thank you that I am baptized and that you are my Lord, my sovereign God, my Saviour, my Redeemer, my very breath. I can do nothing without you that will be good. May I have your Holy Spirit please so that I grow and become all that You have planned in my life. I want more. Yes, Lord, I want more.

 

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.

Change Your Life, Change Your Thoughts

Every now and again I feel that my life needs to change. To be more specific, I need to change. When I spend time in prayer and meditation, I sense the Lord calling me to come closer. If I am feeling rebellious, I want to run the other way. There have been some days though when I sensed the intimacy and love of God and desired more. On those days, when it seems that God knows when is best, I sense that more is better.

Change can be frightening. Only when I am aware of the love and care of my God am I able to say YES to him. I trust that his plan is good and safe for me. It may be challenging but with him at my side I can do it:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

The area of change is in my thought life. If I change my thought life, change is possible. I never knew that I could choose my thoughts. I was never told this. Yes, there are areas of maturing that are ongoing and I am grateful for the wisdom that God has been providing for me through scriptures and through people who speak his truth to me. I never had any intuitive leadings to this. So scripture provides the truth for me:

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

So here I am wanting to choose my thoughts and applying both scriptures and a new insight comes to me. When I choose my thoughts, I am choosing God, I am choosing healthier thoughts, I am choosing to grow and learn, I am choosing more than I have now, and I am choosing the best that God has for me. He will guide my thoughts as I ask him to teach me how to love as he loves.

God’s best love is Jesus. The Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are providing the best, IF I ASK.  I have heard somewhere in my life that “I have not because I ask not.”

So now I ask “Lord help me! Help me with the choosing of my thoughts and help me to choose you and more with every breath in me”

 

Copyright © 2014 Gloria Winn, all rights reserved.