Friday, August 29, 2008


As I rounded a bend in our country road driving home at twilight, I was startled by a small herd of deer leaping across the road from a wooded area. I slammed on my brakes, stopped the car, and watched as one pre-adolescent deer lingered to check me out. I was transfixed with the striking beauty of God’s creature. I was amazed at its HUGE, satellite dish ears—quite out-of-proportion to its small, handsome head! Both of us motionless, we watched each other for a full minute or two.

I thought, Might not God be pleased if we prayed to acquire large spiritual ears for listening to Him rather than overdeveloped mouths by talking too much in His presence?

As a recent convert to the Catholic Church, I felt strange at first when invited to spend time in the Adoration Chapel of our parish. There was nothing comparable to this experience in my previous evangelical world. I wondered what the point was to simply sit there doing apparently nothing.

Our Chapel is a small, secluded room with about twenty padded chairs with kneelers facing an altar on which are lit candles, fresh flowers, and a large gold sunburst vessel called a Monstrance. In its center is one of the transubstantiated host wafers reserved from the Eucharist which is referred to as the Blessed Sacrament. It is therefore no longer merely baked wheat despite its appearance as such, but the actual, living presence of Jesus in solemn exposition for our adoration. Of course the three Persons of the Trinity are present everywhere, and dwell within us, but in a unique way Jesus is present in the consecrated host.

And there is always silence—no hymns are sung, no music in the background, no praying aloud, no conversation among those who come to spend intimate time with Jesus our Lord. I discovered it was really the most fruitful of activities because it was not “doing nothing.” It is a case of less being more. Less talk on our part equals more listening to the heart-whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Worshippers may sit or kneel; some even prostrate themselves before the Lord. They may read the Scriptures or a devotional book or pray in whatever manner they choose, and intercede for others—but silently. They may sit quietly, meditate, or simply enjoy being with the Lord. We are blessed in our Church to have 24/7 adoration. Parishioners make a volunteer commitment to be present at the hour they have chosen day or night.

Journalist Dan Rather was said to have interviewed Mother Teresa to ask about her prayer life: "What do you say to God when you pray," he inquired.
"Nothing," replied Mother Teresa. "I just listen."
"What does God say to you?" he pressed further.
"Nothing," replied Mother Teresa. "He just listens."

Silent listening in God’s presence, acknowledgment of Him with awe and reverence, meditation on His Word, and contemplation are hallmarks of Catholic spirituality. It seems more infused than worked for or attained by human effort or activity. Yet seeking to be in God’s presence, resting in His love, pursuing holiness, and moving toward intimate union with Him are not passive. Both prominent and obscure holy men and women through the ages have developed this piety in varied ways and to different degrees.

Such spirituality is to be found both in cloistered life and in the busy marketplace, among the young and the old, the highly literate and the simple, in past ages and in contemporary life. I admit that the names so well known in the Catholic world were totally unknown to me as an evangelical; this to my great loss. Saint Benedict, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux just a sample of the rich list.

To expose myself to the pleasant warmth of the Holy Spirit seems to be what prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is all about. I deliberately rein in my ceaseless hurry and stop talking—even to God. I become silent and listen to Him as He listens to the non-words of my spirit. I develop oversize ears to hear God’s whispering to my heart instead. “He who has ears to ear, let him hear” invited Jesus. I enlarge my heart by slowing down its pace. The more time I spend in silence before the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel, or in my private Holy Hour at home, or in the quiet of the Church Sanctuary, the more clearly I train myself to hear God, and the more aware I become of His presence in my life.

I enjoy relaxing in the sunshine. “Basking” is a good word. I know the very real effect it has on me. Physically, I experience a healthy, warm glow that lingers even after I retreat to the shade.. Spiritually, it is the same. I bring the warmth and radiance of His divine love back to my family, to my daily responsibilities, to the needs and suffering of others. It is a Holy Hour of healing both for me and others as I lift them up to the Son. When I abide in the presence of Jesus, when I implore Him to “stay with me,” my heart burns within me as it did in the disciples when Jesus spoke with them on the road to Emmaus. My body, too, feels more rested and restored. Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament brings rest to my soul: Jesus invited, “Come, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What happens when things of substance such as CDs, chocolate, butter, or crayons are exposed to the sun? The sun softens their rigidity causing them to melt. So too, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament makes me more compliant to the will of God, more easily molded to the purpose God intends for me. The healthy link between vitamin D and sunshine is similar to the connection between the “D” of depression and the lack of sunlight.

Artificial sunlight is readily available in tanning studios for a price. Rubbing on skin tanning lotions produces a counterfeit appearance of having spent time in the sun. Both are potentially harmful to the user. On the other hand, adoration and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament contributes to my spiritual health. It gives me the true glow of joy that Jesus’ disciples must have radiated when people “took notice of them that they had been with Jesus.”


Thursday, August 28, 2008

MORE than Welch’s grape juice and Wonder Bread

A most frequent misunderstanding by non-Catholics centers on the view of the Bread and the Wine. By request, this is to explain briefly what the Catholic Church teaches about transubstantiation. That is the word for the Catholic belief that according to the gospel of John chapter 6 and Jesus’ institution of the Last Supper in Luke 22, His words are to be taken literally not symbolically in the inspired biblical record.

To have a level playing field, I will define terms:

Catholics use the term Eucharist for what Protestants call The Lord’s Supper or Communion or The Breaking of Bread. It is a Greek word meaning “Thanksgiving.” It takes place at Mass which is what the Catholics call their worship gathering. Through the Eucharist they offer thanksgiving for Jesus’ finished sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
The host is what Catholics call the bread. It is usually in the form of a white, unleavened, pure wheat wafer. Real wine, not grape juice, is served in a cup called a chalice. After the host is consecrated and blessed by the priest, any of the host that is undistributed during the Eucharist is reserved in an enclosed boxlike receptacle called the Tabernacle which is usually located behind or to the side of the altar. The Blessed Sacrament, as the host is called, remains consecrated and transubstantiated and is used to distribute to shut-ins or displayed reverently at Eucharistic devotions called Benediction and Adoration.

The nitty-gritty of understanding the Eucharist

Some have misunderstood that the bread and wine at the Eucharist is supposed to taste or feel different after the priest consecrates it. Others are horrified that Catholics actually believe they are eating flesh and blood. (In the biblical record of John chapter 6 that is precisely why some of those who were already His disciples left Him.)

The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic faith; it is critical how we understand and believe it. As a personal word, I spent a lifetime taking Communion or the Lord’s Supper reverently, but I thought, and was taught, and I in turn taught, that it was only a symbol simply to remind us every so often of what Jesus sacrificed for us on the cross. I never questioned that interpretation.

Sometimes the host was in the form of tiny soda cracker squares, or a crumbled, unleavened Matzo sheet, or even ordinary white leavened bread sliced into little squares and passed around to the congregation. Sometimes an entire loaf of unsliced bread is offered, from which pieces are broken off to consume. Little thimble-like plastic glasses filled with grape juice often accompany it. The traditions for Communion vary among denominational churches and non-affiliated evangelical churches. In non-denominational groups it is likely to be open communion: the pastor invites everyone “who truly has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior” to partake. Baptism was not a prerequisite except in certain denominations or more liturgical churches. Nor was confession of our sins a requirement before taking Communion.

As an evangelical, I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon explicitly explaining the meaning of the apostle Paul’s warning of spiritual guilt and even physical judgment by illness or physical death, if someone “does not judge the body rightly” or “eats the bread and drinks the cup in an unworthy manner” or “does not examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:23-34).

Non-Catholic Christian friends are sometimes offended because they are not invited or allowed to receive the Eucharist when visiting a Catholic Mass. Is the Church discriminatory or elitist by not welcoming all Christians to the Table of the Lord? Even impolite? Better that the Catholic Church is misunderstood than to contribute to the guilt of someone who believes that what he is receiving is only a symbol and therefore would “eat in an unworthy manner” to his own judgment. The proper response when one receives the host from the priest is “Amen” which means that one agrees with what the Catholic Church teaches about the transubstantiation of the elements. To receive the host without that conviction contributes to a person’s hypocrisy and would incur guilt.

What an eye-opener it was for me when I read chapter 6 of John’s gospel again in light of the inspired literalness of Scripture! Taken in context, is there any question that those who originally heard His words knew exactly that He meant—that they were literally to eat His body and drink His blood “or you have no life in you”? He repeated it several times for emphasis; it so offended some of His disciples that many left Him. Notice that Jesus did not call them back to explain that they simply misunderstood Him.

What part of Jesus’ declaration in the Upper Room “This is My body….” in Luke 22 don’t we understand? I admit that I used to take both of the above passages as metaphors, as I did Jesus’ several declarations of “I am…” in the gospels. It can be documented that the Church taught the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist since the days of the apostles and the early church. It has always been a Sacrament—never a symbol.

Do Catholics believe that the bread and wine change their original appearance after consecration by a priest? Formerly I thought that is what the Catholic Church believes. It doesn’t. I researched this thoroughly from their official teachings because it is the cornerstone of Catholic faith. I have a lot to learn yet, but the following is what I understand the Church teaches about the Eucharist.

All matter has two aspects: its substance and its appearance. The substance is what the thing is in and of itself "deep down inside," so to speak. Its appearance is what we can perceive with our five senses and by applying the scientific method. When the priest by his delegated ecclesial authority consecrates the bread and wine, their appearance remains exactly the same, but their substance changes. The "breadness" and "wineness" disappear; in their places are Christ's body and blood. We do not expect to see any visible change, nor can any high-powered microscope detect a change. This is not magic; it is a mystery of our Christian faith.

Can transubstantiation, as this is called, be proved scientifically? No. Do I taste flesh and blood when I receive the Eucharist? No. Although the consecrated bread is no longer bread, when you swallow it, it acts in your body as though it were still bread. For instance, if someone is allergic to wheat-based food, he may have a reaction to it. If you were to drink quantities of consecrated wine, you would get drunk. If someone with a cold or flu virus leaves germs on the chalice, someone might become ill even though the germs are in contact with the blood of Christ. In the consecration, bacteria and viruses are not transubstantiated.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist is like the large, sparkling gem set in the midst of the Seven Sacraments of the Church. The symbolism I settled for previously because I didn’t recognize the full biblical truth pales in comparison to the wonder of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is truly “Wonder Bread!” No, Jesus is not sacrificed again at each Mass as some who are misinformed have accused the Church. His sacrifice is a finished work but is “re-presented,” made present to us now in real time in an “unbloody manner” not as it was the first time at Calvary when Jesus literally gave His life and blood for us.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Does God notice when we stop and talk about Him with a friend? Or with someone who needs to know God as his Friend?

Is God too busy running the universe to pay attention to our casual conversations about Jesus?

Is it possible that He reads our minds when we lift our thoughts to Him in the midst of a busy day? Does He notice?

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem who lived in the late fourth century, wrote “…nothing is lost. Every prayer of yours, every psalm you sing is recorded. Every alms, every fast is recorded.”

Truly, every prayer we pray is everlasting. Prayers keep working forever. When you launch them out into the universe to the Throne of God in Jesus’ Name, as He taught us, God hears them instantly. If He delays the answer for our good and for His glory, they will still never diminish in power. God does not file them in some dusty heavenly cabinet and forget them.

Our prayers are preserved forever; they are recorded in some mysterious, spiritual way. God is far ahead of us in our puny modern technology; He is the Creator of media beyond any of our dreams. Prayer is the ultimate communication. God records everyone all over the world at the same time. No problem. We will be judged by our words and deeds since they will all be permanently documented. Nothing we consider insignificant that we say to one another or do for one another is overlooked by the Lord.

“Then those who feared/revered the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened/gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord, and who thought on/esteemed His name.

“’And they will be Mine’ says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels—My special possession, My peculiar treasure. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

Malachi 3:16, 17 Amplified Translation.

Imagine what God calls us when He hears us talking together about Him or even thinking about Him! He considers us His own, His jewel, His special possession, and His peculiar treasure! Aren’t we blessed? We shouldn’t have any problem with self-esteem!


Monday, August 25, 2008


During the era of steam locomotives, the railroads used what were

called “helpers.” These were additional engines that were attached

temporarily to a train to provide the necessary extra power and

traction required for climbing a difficult grade. Helper, Utah, a town

along the route of the U.S. transcontinental railroad, derives its name

from the helper engines kept there to aid trains up over the nearby

7,477 foot high Soldier Summit.

Like those “helper” engines, God is our Helper to aid us over

the rough and steep places of life. “Fear not…I will help thee, saith the

Lord” (Isaiah 41:14) “The Lord…forsaketh not his saints”

(Ps. 37:28) “He shall deliver…him that hath no helper” (Ps. 72:12)

Therefore, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord…” (Ps. 55:22) and “trust

in Him at all times” (Ps. 62:8) for “the Lord shall help…” (Ps.37:40).

I hope I can also be a “Helper Choo-choo” to encourage you

with my prayers and concern as you “stay on track” in your spiritual life

or climb the really “difficult grades” all of us inevitably experience in

our life’s journey.

LIFE is a long haul for which we need extra help from God and from the

prayers of our fellow Christian friends to endure and triumph. Jesus Christ

is our Head Helper. In the words of an old hymn:

“O God, our HELP in ages past, our hope for years to come, our

Shelter from the stormy blast, and our Eternal Home.”

We are part of Christ's Body, His helpers on earth to others. Let’s be

“Helper Choo-choos” to one another today!


Sunday, August 24, 2008



Leona Choy

I hereby declare


I’m going to chill out this very day

and let my motor idle and delay work

on my endless deadlines and goals.

I’ll ignore the flak from the nervous crowd

which criticizes my non-productivity.

I’ll say “No thanks!” to their generous offer

to buy me an expensive ticket

for a guilt trip to Stressed out Land.

I plan to soft pedal my fortissimo

and play awhile in pianissimo.

I’ll snuff out both burning wicks

from my shortening two-ended candle

and put aside my perpetual “to do” list

scratching over it: “Someday—maybe.”

I’ll loosen the tense strings of my life

and seize an interval of healthy fun

letting others join the rat race I usually run.

I’ll shut my ears to “Do it now!”

and procrastinate till it’s really too late.

I’ll simply bow out for a day

and let my spirit romp and play.

God and I will sit down together

on a porch swing in a gentle breeze

to enjoy a rest at His invitation.

We’ll call “Time out!” as He did

when His creation work was done.

I’ll deliberately neglect responsibility

for an entire twenty-four hour day

and close my ears to the drum beat others play.

I’ll march at my own more sagacious pace

and not compete in life’s drag race.

I’ll not insist on making things happen

but relax in God’s tender silent grace.

I plan to do absolutely nothing today,

just let the world accelerate away.

I’ll lighten up and boldly say

“Today I declare a holiday!”

I’ll loaf and lounge all I jolly well please

and let my throbbing hot engine cool

before I succumb to burnout

and have to be towed away!



Saturday, August 23, 2008


What to Hold or Let go

As a follow up to my previous post:

During my initial struggle to change from the status quo and comfort zone of my Protestant evangelicalism and my allegiance to the precious community of believers with whom I served in ministry for a lifetime, I would have been encouraged had I read Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s insights on “Fidelity to error is not a virtue” in the same chapter quoted previously.

He explained that to abide by a thing inflexibly, merely because we have once believed in it and have come to love it, is not in itself a praiseworthy attitude. We only owe our loyalty to the fullness of truth and to genuine value. On the contrary, in regard to errors and negative values or incomplete truth, we should indeed break with what we formerly cherished and withdraw our trust in them, once we know them to be negative in value.

He further expanded on hindrances to change by pointing out the dangers of feeling that we have to remain faithful to false or less than correct ideas and ideals even after we find them wanting. We may be comfortable with old and familiar things merely because we have lived so long with them, and because they are connected with memories of our childhood and home.

So then, if the stakes are high enough, if a greater treasure than the one I have is available, neither my reputation nor the difficulty or fear of change should hold me back. What a revelation! Even dramatic change toward the higher, the deeper is possible for a Christian in the latter years of life because of the eternal supernatural youthfulness that Von Hildebrand described previously.

I want to live in a continual state of unconditional readiness to change in the positive ways the Spirit of God leads into the fullness of Truth. In this change of faith context, which is essentially not a change “from one religion to another,” as some have viewed it, I don’t leave behind anything of eternal value and revelation truth and biblical truth that I have believed for a lifetime. On the contrary, I move on to a greater fullness of those things, to embrace MORE of God’s truth.

I am still the same born again child of God on a journey Home, ever upward, with my hand in my Father’s hand and following Jesus ever more closely no matter how old I am.


Something within me

is apprehensive of change.

So why am I surprised to know

that I grow through the unpredictable

and struggle through disenchantments

to new reality?

God sluffs off the old and familiar

so I can discover beneath the crust

the fresh, the new

and in the shattering of a dream

awaken to new visions.

I am wrong to resist change:

it is my friend and sent

as God's instrument to teach me

to bend with the wind

and lean in another direction.

A stream encountering stones

in its onward flow

instinctively will know

it must find a new channel

and joyously go

on its way

in rippling expectancy.

So I shall welcome change

as a clean slate

a fresh breath

a cool breeze

an untried path

a stimulation to renewal

and an opportunity

to bloom


Friday, August 22, 2008


In retrospect, several major hurdles loomed before me as I lingered for a long time on my familiar evangelical bank of the Tiber River (symbolic for crossing over into Catholicland.) One monumental obstacle was the seeming impossibility of making such a change in the late years of my life, at the 11th hour, so to speak.

I had a fear of CHANGE! (metathesiophobia)

A close second obstacle was my treasured, lifelong reputation in evangelical ministry overseas and in this country. Approaching eighty, I had come to the chronological summit of my life where I thought such changes in spiritual matters were next to impossible—or at least improbable.

I identified with the rich young ruler, and the rich old ruler both of whom came to Jesus seeking deeper eternal truths and experience.

Jesus demanded of the rich, young ruler—“You’ve done well. But now sell all! Come follow Me…” In contrast, I was old now, but I was afraid Jesus was still asking me to do the same thing. Jesus cautioned us to count the cost. Would I be willing, if necessary, to sell all that I had, all my “treasures” of reputation to obtain the field where the Pearl of Great Price was buried, as Jesus taught in one of His parables? Would I still pursue the spiritual fullness that beckoned me, if it turned up in an unexpected place?

Both of my obstacles were epitomized by the rich old ruler, Nicodemus, who came to Jesus secretly after dark as recorded in John chapter three. Age and status and reputation were doubtless also in the forefront of his thoughts, consequently he could not risk asking his questions in public by daylight. For the same reasons I was conducting my search clandestinely.

It seemed to Nicodemus that Jesus was setting up a ridiculous scenario. He asked whether a man when he is old could reverse the natural course of life and “return to his mother’s womb and be born over again.” How could Jesus expect a seasoned, mature person, especially one in religious leadership, who has earned all the benefits of age and experience and is obviously full of wisdom, to discard it all and start over like a newborn baby?

Nicodemus was a Pharisee with a reputation he doubtless deserved. John made a point to record that he was a religious leader, a member of the supreme Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. In Mark 8:31 Jesus foretold that He “must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed.” (This was fulfilled in Mark 14:53.) Those three categories made up the seventy-one members of the Sanhedrin which was presided over by the high priest. Nicodemus apparently held a high position in that prestigious religious body. He would be taking an even greater reputation risk than the rich young ruler if he were to follow Jesus.

If God called me to be a Catholic this late in life, could I make such drastic changes? Could I risk being responsible for possibly redirecting the Christian destiny of my descendants beyond my lifetime? Would I disillusion and confuse my family, my co-workers in ministry, my evangelical friends with such an unexpected late switch of my faith context although it was certainly still within the Body of Christ?

At the very least, heads might shake sadly with suspicion and pity that senility had finally overtaken me, that I might not be accountable for my deteriorating thought processes!

Some might think that I had been brainwashed by too much study in the wrong direction. People usually take brainwashing in a negative sense. The way I viewed it was that my brain was being washed but it was to cleanse me from my prejudices, misunderstandings, and misinformation.

I was indulging in “what ifs” and crossing bridges before I came to them, but I perceived them as realities.

It was possible that my family, relatives, and friends might not even care about any theological matters with which I was wrestling. What I experienced as an earthquake in my faith orientation, they might shrug off as a slight tremor of little consequence. Why take it so seriously? How could I expect them to understand all the twists and turns of my theological journey and why it was such a spiritual trauma for me?

Evaluating the Nicodemus Factor

Dietrich Von Hildebrand (1889-1977) was a German Catholic philosopher and theologian whom the late Pope John Paul II called “one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century.” He explored the problem of one’s ability to change in mature years in his book Transformation in Christ (Longmans, 1948). Age is often associated with resistance to change, a desire to settle in one’s comfort zone, retire from active life, and coast quietly to a finish. To the elderly, security and status quo assume great importance. They covet a circle of like-minded friends. Rocking boats is not a hobby they are inclined to pursue. The elderly have ingrained lifetime beliefs and habits that appear to be chiseled in stone. They’ve earned their reputation and guard it tenaciously; they are too tired to row upstream; they don’t want their world turned upside down.

Von Hildebrand noted that love of change and daring is the natural gift of youth, but when men become older, their characters and peculiarities solidify. In older years we are less receptive to fresh stimuli, and it is more difficult to revise our mentality and re-educate ourselves. We become rigid, and the natural readiness to change diminishes. We are happy to settle down in the familiar. Von Hildebrand says that an aging person usually feels that he has the right “to be no longer a pupil or an apprentice but a master.”

In contrast, “Supernatural readiness to change should grow with age” That is a surprising optimistic declaration!

Von Hildebrand says that the supernatural picture will be different, and an inverse law will appear; receptiveness toward Christ will tend not to vanish but to increase as a man grows into the later seasons of life. Incidentals recede into the background, and the most important aspects of life become clearer. The restlessness of youth lessens and “a steady orientation toward the essential and decisive becomes dominant.”

He maintained that those advancing in age move toward supernatural simplicity; as we approach the gates of eternity, we understand ‘the one thing necessary.’ Those mature in years have a greater yearning for the depths of intimacy with Christ. He explained that this leads to a supernatural readiness to change, to become a new man with a willingness to crucify the old self.

That insight gave me a new, positive perspective on the possibility of spiritual change in mature years with which I was struggling! What is naturally improbable in mature years is supernaturally normal and an action of the Holy Spirit toward transforming us into the image of Christ.

So? The late-in-life major faith paradigm shift and seemingly drastic change I was facing was neither strange nor impossible in Christ! Certainly that wonderful change toward more spiritual fullness “in The Land of MORE” was nothing to fear! It was to joyfully embrace!


(The above is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Leona’s book-in-progress,

JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF MORE). You may request the entire chapter e-mailed to you as an attachment by noting that in a comment of this post.


Thursday, August 21, 2008


Leona Choy

I discovered an interesting spiritual illustration in my kitchen cupboard. The label of my ADOLPH’S Meat Tenderizer carries an extraordinary promise: Turns commonplace cuts into gourmet products!

You know it, Lord, I’m just a commonplace cut, but I’d sure like to be a gourmet product fit for the Master’s use. How can that happen? I must follow five simple steps:

  1. Moisten all surfaces. The loving dealings of God in my life may produce tears. The hurts of life are real and painful. My heart first needs to be moistened—on ALL surfaces. OK, Lord, top to bottom, every part of my life is available to You. I hold nothing back.

  1. Sprinkle tenderizer generously. The HOLY SPIRIT is my Tenderizer. He is at work in my life. He transforms my heart of stone into a tender heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). He liberally sprinkles God’s promises on my hurting heart to encourage me and lift me up. Lord, help me accept Your loving process for my good.

  1. Pierce deeply with a fork at ½ inch intervals. Pain, affliction, and sorrow have a redemptive purpose in my life. My tough, stubborn will needs to be broken, but God doesn’t break my spirit. He loves me and desires to bring out His best in me. Sometimes trouble seems to invade all areas of my life at once. Every ½ inch of my world cries out for relief! Nevertheless, I open even the deepest areas of my life to You, Lord.

  1. Marinate. God’s work in my heart takes time. Oh, Lord, waiting is so hard! I’m in such a hurry to get out of my difficulty, but my Heavenly Father knows I need time to accept what He is doing in me. Give me patience, Lord, while You marinate me.

  1. Bake, broil, barbecue, roast, or microwave immediately. I cry, “Enough already! Surely I don’t need more heat!” But my Lord must apply heat to separate my imperfections from the pure gold. The fire of affliction is the refiner’s fire. My oven experience is essential. When God’s time is just right, when I have learned the lessons He has been trying to teach me, He will deliver me from the oven of my affliction in His own way.

The result of this painful process? I will be a gourmet product fit for my King! I will have a tender, sensitive, responsive heart toward my Lord—a heart that joyfully, quickly, genuinely responds to Him with a “Yes, Lord, YES!”

The label on my jar of Meat Tenderizer says 100% Natural. But God’s spiritual process is 100% Supernatural. Man can’t duplicate it; only the Holy Spirit can prepare my heart to please God.

Recently, the ingredients in my new jar of Meat Tenderizer have been modified. The label now adds: NO MSG. Monosodium Glutamate was found to be injurious to our health. In God’s process of maturing me through trials, the Holy Spirit is the only active ingredient—perfectly pure and always working for my good.

# End

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


In our earlier years we struggled to fulfill ourselves through education, jobs, and careers, possibly in marriage and family relationships. Perhaps through our talents or skills or the approval of others. Time seemed to be on our side. We rarely gave its earthly termination a thought—Plenty of time—open end future.

Suddenly, or so it seems, we find ourselves in the mature years of life. It dawns on us that we aren’t done yet. We haven’t finished what we started. Many dreams haven’t materialized. We had to abandon some and readjust others. We didn’t achieve all our goals.

We haven’t yet become what we had hoped to be.

In frustration, then panic, we may frantically try to scramble up some earthly ladder toward completion, attainment, success. Whatever happened to fulfillment? We stare into the face of increasing limitations.

When we were younger, time seemed to drag its feet. Now time is pushing the accelerator with both feet. Life is like mist or smoke; when we try to grasp it, our finger close around nothing. We keep asking, “Where did the time go?”

Have we lost the whole centerfold of life? Life is crowding us into a corner!

Have you ever had the urge to seize a significant moment and hug it tightly to you? You want it to last forever. Perhaps a particular period of life or some enjoyable experience. Remember the childhood game of “Statue”? You “froze” in whatever position you were when the command was given. If only you could freeze time at some ideal age or without any changes in your relationships, your strength, or your health; to preserve an especially happy moment.

Fantasy! Realistically, we probably wouldn’t be satisfied if we could stop time at this or any moment. Besides, we might miss what God planned for us just around the next bend. It may be better than anything we’ve experienced in the past or present. We might pass up the invigoration of a fresh challenge or a new success.

Sometimes the Lord saves the best wine until last.

In any case, we don’t have a choice. As human beings we are temporarily locked into earth’s time frame. The clock ticks on until one day we step over into a thrilling eternal dimension where “time shall be no more.”

TODAY is the best day for the child of God! The choicest moment is right now.

We’ve already lived our yesterdays. Thanks for Your generosity, God.

We don’t know about our tomorrows. We trust You with them, Lord.

So today is the only time for which we are accountable. We have the awesome opportunity to live it totally for Jesus.

God, help me not to let today slip through my fingers without living it up and celebrating life to the fullest. I still have time to be a faithful steward of the rest of my life.

LIFE MAY BE CROWDING ME, but I have NOW to add more of life’s pages in full color!


Leona Choy

Life, stop crowding me!

I can't keep up with you.

I want to stop and enjoy

what I've become and grown into

but you keep pushing me faster.

I want to pause and savor

the luscious flavor

of what I've waited for

worked for, hoped for.

Why don’t you allow me

the costly luxury

of cementing the moment

I've achieved?

You jostle me to the next stage

the new role, the greater struggle

the higher level, the fresh experience

before I'm finished with this one.

For once, I'd like to catch my breath

and take a look around

to see what I have found.

No such luck!

It's best for me, I guess

not to be sedated

with any earthly success

but to be impelled, provoked higher

propelled onward

forced to stretch my pace

in life’s relentless race.

Otherwise I'd spend my time

sitting beside the road of life

complacent in my comfort zone

appeased and pleased

but wasting away

stagnant and static

to my own dismay

never accomplishing more.

Yes, I'd smell the roses

but in a dull daze

sluggish and unmotivated

instead of getting up and pressing on

and burning out in a beautiful blaze!


Philippians 3:12-14

(From CELEBRATE THIS MOMENT! Prime Time is NOW. A Trilogy of Inspirational Poetry by Leona Choy)


Sunday, August 17, 2008


Viewers' Request
An excerpt from Finishing It UP—with a Flourish, book in progress
(Sequel to Leona’s book Living It Up! For Seasoned Saints

Aging Eagle Saints

Leona Choy

“...Those who wait for the Lord--who expect, look for and hope in Him--shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Ampl. Isa. 40:28-31

“[The Lord] who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age] with good; so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! Ampl. Psa. 103:5

So what is all this about eagles? Why didn’t God compare His children to a chicken, vulture, parrot, crow, canary or a turkey?

An eagle is the king of the birds, remarkable, bold, powerful, large, and clean. It is tenacious, intelligent, committed for life to its mate, and terrifically aerodynamic. Eagles only flap their wings about ten percent of flight time, not continuously like other birds. They soar on air currents….

….God has put into the eagle the instinct for daily grooming which it tends to meticulously. It spends up to an hour each day sitting quietly on a rock in the sun preening and cleaning its feathers. A large eagle has up to 7,000 feathers, about 1,200 on each wing. It passes each feather through its mouth and breathes on it as if steam cleaning. That restores its feathers from yesterday's wear and tear. A gland in the eagle's mouth secretes oil to weatherproof and waterproof the feathers so it can dive in the water for fish.

In spite of all that daily maintenance, the time comes in the life span of this majestic bird when all its wonderful functions begin to diminish and wear down. It faces an aging, deteriorating crisis, unable to navigate in the air as before. Its eyes are becoming dim and no longer moist, its talons are not as sharp, and calcium deposits on its beak prevent it from being able to hunt well. The eagle is losing strength and its feathers are becoming sparse. (Sound familiar?) It is one tired bird!

It could give up and settle down on a canyon floor, wings drooping, dragging itself around in its weakness. If it remains in the valley, it will surely die there. The valley is not the place where God intends eagles to die; moreover, it may not be time for its death. When a strong eagle sees the bedraggled, defeated eagle in the canyon, it screams at it and dives down to stir up the eagle to leave the unprotected low places where its enemies may take advantage of its weakness. It must "mount up with wings as an eagle" to the highest place it can find. Away from all distractions it must follow its God-ordained instincts alone.

The aging eagle is “programmed by God” to find a high flat rock in the direct sunshine. For two weeks it works hard to rub and scrape its talons against the rock to sharpen them again. It knocks its blunt beak repeatedly against the rock or a branch to break off the calcium deposits until the old beak crumbles away revealing a renewed one. If necessary, it flies headlong into a rock to accomplish that.

The eagle keeps returning to the moving water of a fresh stream to drink from the cool water and bathe to get rid of all lice, parasites, and mud that encrust its feathers and hinder its flight. All the while it is plucking out its worn feathers until it is nearly naked. Undoubtedly a painful procedure, but its remarkable instinct tells the eagle that this pruning is necessary for renewal. The eagle spends most of its time resting quietly and warming itself in the sun. It continues its restoration for forty days until its new feathers are grown and all its functions are re-energized. Its eyes become clear as a young eagle's again, its talons and beak are razor-sharp, and its normal strength has returned.

When the eagle senses that its restoration is complete, it takes off again soaring to the heights, crying loudly with its renewed voice and with the rejuvenated capabilities and strength of a young eagle. Once renewed, it is said that if you compare it with a young eagle only a year and a half old, you can’t tell the difference.

An eagle doesn't migrate like some other birds. It never goes far from the rock on which it was born. In the eagle's life cycle, when it senses that the time has really come to die, it goes to its home rock, wraps its talons around it securely, and quietly watches the sun set. It looks directly into the sun with a faraway look in its eyes. The bird is not necessarily sick, but God has put into its heart that the time has come to desire to be free from the present world. The eagle instinctively knows that its purpose on earth is complete. When the sun has set, it lies down and peacefully dies.

God has put into the hearts of His children to go through a time or many times of renewal like the eagle, especially during a long lifetime. But eventually, like the eagle, we clearly sense from God that the time has come, that we have reached "a time to die," to go to The Rock of our birth, Jesus, for the final flight into Eternity.

Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross, but at a certain point He knew from God that the time to release His spirit had finally come and declared, "It is finished. Into Thy hands I commit my spirit." This was His deliberate action, His decision. His life was not taken from Him.

Likewise there is a knowing point in time when a child of God is no longer "hard pressed between the two" desires, to go or to remain, as the apostle Paul declared was his experience. He knew the time had finally come to release his spirit into the presence of God.

"With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation" (Psalm 91:16) is God's promise. The time eventually comes when the child of God is truly satisfied to fly into God’s presence because God counts his life complete. He accepts God’s plan and rests in the perfect timing of God. He "faces the sun" (Son) and focuses on his destination at peace for the joy that is set before him, anticipating at last to experience the salvation God has promised him. He hangs on tenaciously to The Rock, and The Rock, Christ Jesus, holds tightly to him.

It should be obvious how these eagle characteristics can apply to us spiritually, especially to those who are advancing in years and feeling the diminishing not only of our physical and mental capacities but of our spiritual vigor.

As we search the Scriptures, we find many passages about renewing, restoring, putting off, putting on, pruning, becoming strengthened, resting, waiting on God, and pressing on to the finish. We can begin by meditating on the verses quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Then we can go on to explore Philippians 3:10-14; Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:22-25; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 4:16; 5:17; Colossians 3:10; Titus 3:5; and Psalm 51:10. God’s Word encourages us to press on the upward way to new heights to the very end of our lives. Who of us doesn’t need such renewal, not only day by day but at some milestone points in our lives?

We should not talk ourselves out of a satisfying long life of walking with the Lord and continuing to serve Him by taking “fourscore and ten” out of context. That is not meant as the norm for our life span. Moses wrote those words in Psalm 90:10 about the people of Israel in their desert wanderings. The older generation was under God’s judgment and forbidden to enter the Promised Land; that was about the age at which they were dying. As the eagle, we are meant to live a long, productive life.

When we do begin to feel the burden of the years and the diminishing of our human strength, we should follow the eagle’s example of the renewal the Lord provides for us. We should come apart alone with the Lord and deal with the unproductive, hindering things that have accumulated in our lives like suckers and get rid of the buildup of non-essentials. We must “put them off.” Many things “so easily beset us” and hold us down from flying high with the Lord. It may hurt to pluck such things out of our lives, but our renewal is worth some temporary suffering. God’s eagle renewal restores us to live abundantly in Christ so we can complete the race that is set before us and finish God’s purpose through us.

We should not stay down on our canyon floor and have a pity party wallowing in our depression. Our canyon floor will become a place of defeat and death. We are meant to rise to the holy mountain of the Lord’s presence and be strengthened. Jesus Christ has abundant restorative powers available to re-invigorate us both spiritually and physically….


To receive Leona’s entire chapter about EAGLES, indicate your request in “Comments” at the end of this post with your e-mail address and it will be sent to you as an attachment.


Thursday, August 14, 2008


My late husband, Ted, worked quite happily with chaos around him, with a desk piled high with papers and general clutter. It didn’t bother him a bit. Such disarray would drive me to distraction! My temperament requires order; I guess I’m a “neatnik.” I have to tidy up my entire desk before I settle down to my writing even if I only organize by chucking papers into manila folders or drawers. Out of sight, out of mind. One thing may lead to another, of course—I may end up cleaning my study, emptying trash and vacuuming the carpet. The same thing goes for order in my kitchen and the rest of the house. (There’s another word for that kind of “disorder!”) Everything in its place spells efficiency to me. My four sons are a mix of their parents’ polarized tendencies with a hard lean toward disorder.

I am equally sensitive to inner clutter. My spirit is restless if I am disturbed about something, ill at ease about a course of action, or anxious about some relationship. I thrive on peace and harmony without discord. Unless I sense inner order I have difficulty discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit. My spirit too needs quiet waters, not roaring rapids.


Leona Choy

Propelled by the winds of my times

my inner world whirls with unrest

I'm driven by impulse and pressed

by the visible, the temporal

commitments and duties that pull at my spirit

responsibilities wrestle me to the ground

disintegrating my spiritual discernment

clouding my perception of God's will.

Lord! I can't hear You

if my outward world shouts so loudly

and my inner, private world is askew

without order and balance!

Not in the whirlwind of my life

nor in the earthquake of circumstances

not in the thunder of my activities

nor in the lightning flash of my urgencies

not in the fire of my passions

for accomplishment and success

can I sense God’s peace and direction.

Only when I withdraw to my secret garden

within the hidden chamber of my heart

where Christ abides and graciously beckons me

can I settle down to listen

attentively with a hushed heart

to His still, small voice.

When He knocks and I open

He comes to sup with me and I with Him

in this sacred place, in His Presence

where He nourishes me so tenderly

sorts out the disorder of my life

and blesses me with peace and focus

to face confidently the public day ahead.


1 Kings 19; Revelation 3:20

From book in progress: “LATTER RAIN

Wordsmithing verse written late in the Season”

by Leona Choy

Monday, August 11, 2008


Readers' request for Encore

My Thoughts on Pressing Forward

God, grant me the wisdom of mature years,

Help me circumvent the foolishness of the aged.

If the embers of my first love for You are growing cold,

Fan them into flame by Your Holy Spirit.

When You see me playing in the spiritual shallows,

Beckon me out of the wading pool into deep waters.

When the noise of my activity drowns out Your still small voice,

Quiet me to wait on You in contemplative silence.

If I feel bogged down in seemingly meaningless routine,

Turn the plain water of my daily life into “the best wine saved until last.”

If the soil of my life is depleted and lies fallow,

Break up the clods, supply fresh nutrients, and make straight my furrows.

When my prayers seem unanswered and my spirit is arid,

Open the floodgates for Your Rivers of Living Water to flow again.

When I tend to resist change and settle in my comfort zone,

Grant me an open spirit and a growing, receptive mind.

When my leaves are withered and limp and my fruit is scanty,

Revive me to “flourish like the palm tree” and be “full of sap and very green.”

If I’ve lost my get up and go,

Show me how to “rise, take up my bed and walk.”

Where my life is out of balance and I lose my footing,

Help me restore eternal priorities to keep me from stumbling.

When my vision of Your Kingdom has grown dim,

Help me re-focus my eyes on Your destiny for me.

If I’ve become slow of speech to declare Your message,

Open my lips to boldly proclaim Your Good News.

If it seems difficult to hear Your voice clearly,

Send Your Holy Spirit to be my hearing aid.

If my mind and memory begin to slip,

Help me remember that You never leave me or forsake me.

When I am weary from the length of life’s journey,

Draw me close to Your heart where I find comfort and rest.

If I’m laboring to bear scarcely 30-fold fruit,

Teach me to abide in You to effortlessly produce 100-fold for Your glory.

Where some good seed of Your Word still lies dormant as I advance in years,

Send the gentle latter rain of Your Holy Spirit for an abundant late harvest.

When I am tired and lack motivation to press on,

Restore iron to my soul, strength to my weak knees and limp arms.

When I drag my feet to do Your will,

Energize me with the adrenalin of Your Spirit.

When I am short of breath from life’s fast pace,

Inflate my lungs with Your Breath of Life.

If material possessions try to grip me too tightly,

Teach me to hold loosely the things of this world.

If I open my mouth to speak foolish words,

Show me how to put a watch on my lips.

When I am depressed by the darkness around me,

Take my hand to walk with You in Your Light.

When my emotions roller coaster out of control,

Teach me to set my affection on things above not on things of earth.

When anxiety about the future threatens to overwhelm me,

Remind me of Your great faithfulness in years past.

When I think I’ve reached the limit of my endurance,

Help me persevere in Your strength to run the last mile Home.

If my appetite becomes jaded by the world’s junk food,

Give me Yourself as my Daily Bread in the Eucharist.

When thoughts of my mortal end cause me to fear,

Assure me that You are preparing a Place for me in Your Father’s House.

Leona Choy