Thursday, July 26, 2018

NO ONE IS LISTENING...

I don't think there's been a time in the history of history that humans have been so bombarded with sound.   We are instantly "ear budded" in to our music, internet, TV shows. 
We have instant access to fifty six million TV shows at the touch of a button, or a movie. It's like an avalanche of sound, a tsunami of noise.  We know about things that are happening on the other side of the planet almost as soon as it happens.

We hear, we hear,  we hear... 

BUT THIS IS NOT A BLOG TO CRITICIZE these "advancements" in technology.  

I'm just calling attention to one of the side effects of living in a society that makes it possible to close ourselves off from one another with a simple pair of headphones.. a pair of earbuds...  And that is:


NO ONE IS LISTENING ANYMORE

I'm also not writing to tell you to take your earplugs out and listen to someone for a minute. NO. NO. NO. 

Listening.....true listening.....has to start in the heart - not the ears.  If you don't want to listen to me, if I don't want to hear you - it's a matter of the heart not the ears.  I can force you to remove your earbuds, put your phone down, stop texting.. but I cannot make your heart soft enough to care about what I want to say.  If you don't want to listen.. .why speak to you at all? 

It's everyone's right to decide IF they want to listen. If you want to cut yourself off from the world, that's a heart decision of yours.   BUT.. as a result.... 

We have gotten used to not being listened to. 
We have grown accustomed to speaking and no one hears us.  
We don't expect to be heard anymore.

And that's the reason I am writing this.  

To remind us - me - you - that

God has not changed. 
When we speak to Him He doesn't have His ear buds in, as He checks His text messages and emails on His smartphone and reads the headlines while watching a movie and nodding like He is listening but isn't really.

This lack of listening all around us can convince us of a lie - that God is also NOT LISTENING.  So why pray if He isn't listening?
So we stop praying.

But HE IS LISTENING.
So... speak up.
He longs to hear your heart. 
He created it.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 
Isaiah 65:24

Thursday, June 14, 2018

SO HEAVENLY MINDED

photo by my grandson, 15
cli·ché . (klēˈSHā/) noun: a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought; a stereotype.   
"Some people are so heavenly minded they do no earthly good." 
An overused cliche for sure.  It creates so many questions in my mind. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

SIMPLE QUESTION

Most of us are too embarrassed to come right out and ask another person this question. 

Some of us have decided that if we HAVE TO ASK then the answer is probably some form of "not really."  We live our daily lives with this question at the root of most of what we do... though we don't consciously realize it. 
  
Sometimes the answer is obviously "no" -  but we don't want to see it, hear it, or believe it.  

The question? 
"Do you love me?"

It's such a simple question.  It's such a basic question. It's such a pitiful question to have to ask someone. Especially someone you have a relationship with.  It's a heartbreaking question for a child to have to ask a parent. "Dad, do you love me? Mom, do you love me?"  I cannot tell you the countless broken hearts of countless broken people whose root of brokenness began because they did not feel loved by Mom or Dad.

Marriages rise and fall apart on the truthful answer to this question.  "Do you love me? I mean, do you love ME? The real me? Do you LOVE me? Do you feel that feeling called LOVE for me? Are you doing what you do because you LOVE me or because you're stuck with me? Are you here out of duty or do you LOVE ME? Are you here because of the children or do you LOVE ME? Do you love me? Do you LOVE me?"

Jesus is not afraid to ask the question.  He requires.. REQUIRES us to answer it.  HONESTLY.  TRUTHFULLY.  

Jesus created us with the need to have the answer to this question...not only in our relationships with others.. but.. in the most important relationship we have. Our relationship with HIM.  
"Do you love Me?"

He asked Peter the Betrayer.  

"Do you love Me?"

He asks every Betrayer. 

He asks a simple question. 

"Do you love me?"











Tuesday, May 15, 2018

WAITING FOR THE WAITING





I confess I am spiritually spoiled. I grew up surrounded by people (my parents, my grandmother) who knew and loved God and His people with every ounce of their being.  When life threw itself at them with all it could, they prayed.  When they were confused, they prayed.  They changed inside in to people who were confident in their faith, and people who LOVED PEOPLE.  People who prayed. I saw it, I felt it, I lived it. 

And then I met a teenaged boy who was growing up under the leadership of a man and his wife (Pastor and Vangie Mercaldo) who knew and loved God.The teenaged boy became my husband and his pastor became my pastor. I am forever grateful to God for Pastor Daniel Mercaldo's loving leadership, and straight forward preaching and teaching. He CARED ABOUT US more than HE CARED ABOUT HIMSELF. He did. His sermons were spoken to help us live every day, to remind us that God is real, and present in our lives - and not just words to fill forty-five minutes on Sunday morning - or talking to show us how much he knew, or how much he had accomplished.  You could feel the LOVE in his words. You could sense the passion of Jesus to give us LIFE when he spoke.  He spoke with US in mind.   I was never bored when he preached.  I always felt like he was giving us spiritual FOOD... He sermons always ended too early. He is STILL like a pastor to us.  I assumed that EVERY pastor was dedicated to preaching with "feeding the sheep" as his primary preaching purpose.  This has not always been true. 

And then in 1978 we met a pastor and his wife (Pastor Jim and Carol Cymbala, The Brooklyn Tabernacle)  whose lives touched us and influenced us as few people are ever blessed to be touched and influenced. I cannot put in to words the way they blessed our lives. Because of them and their Godly influence in my life and my husband’s life we understood that God is looking for one thing above all other things.  

God is looking for People Who Pray.

That’s it.  People who pray. 

Not people who preach.
Not people who sing.
Not people who teach.
Not people who write books.
Not people who talk about prayer.
Not books that teach about prayer.
God is looking for:

People Who Pray.  
Not people who ONLY pray, but people who PRAY FIRST. 

God's system is very simple. He isn't expecting us to do nothing. Oh no, He expects us to devote ourselves to working in His kingdom.. but.. not before we PRAY.  The Church prayed first.  And THEN THEY CHANGED THE WORLD.

It would seem simple and obvious that people who say they live their lives based on The New Testament would learn the simple lesson. 

First we pray. Then we do.
First we seek Him. Then we do.

I don't see anywhere in the Bible where we are are instructed to be 
"People Who Do" rather than "People Who Pray"

I don't see anywhere in the Bible where we are told, "Listen, if you don't feel like praying, or if you're too busy to stop and spend time with the Lord, don't worry about it.  Just do something at church. Volunteer  for something... or give extra in the offering plate.  Or.. if you are unwilling to see the importance of sitting at the feet of Jesus, then start  some kind of ministry.  Be a singer. Be a speaker. Volunteer at the food bank. You can substitute being busy FOR God with being WITH God...  And even though the Gospels repeatedly tell us that JESUS HIMSELF had to get alone and pray and hear from His Father, don't worry about following His example.  Surely you are strong enough to NOT PRAY.. even though Jesus seemed to need it like oxygen... Because God didn't really MEAN it when He said, very strongly, "MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER!" And the fact that you can find lots of stuff going on in churches all over America, but rarely find a church that has a prayer meeting.. a prayer meeting where people actually pray and wait on the Lord......doesn't really matter to God. Right? 

I mean, seriously, that is, sadly, the situation many times. But when we serve the sheep, when we love the sheep, when we are in any kind of ministry, it is Living Water and The Bread of Life that people require.  God forbid we should call ourselves His voice and speak worthless words without LIFE.  

And people who pray understand that prayer requires waiting.  Waiting in prayer. And waiting for God to answer prayers. Waiting for God's Spirit to reveal God's Word, God's Will and God's Ways.   
So tragically widespread is the unwillingness to wait, that most believers I meet think living without power is the way life is supposed to be lived.

It isn't a doctrine that is being ignored that is the tragedy of this lack of focus on prayer.. it's the sheep that are being eaten by wolves.  They don't understand the power of prayer because all they've ever heard are powerless prayers.  They are being called on to volunteer at church before they are taught to call on the Lord at church.   The reason you and I have heard The Gospel, the reason we have churches to attend is because The Church was started by people who were willing to wait. Willing to wait for what? They didn't know what they were waiting for, but devoted themselves to prayer. When what they were waiting for arrived - rather when WHO they were waiting for arrived - THEY KNEW IT. No one needed to ask them, "Do you think God is here?" People know when God is present... People know when they are being fed.  Thankfully, Jesus, The Great Shepherd, loves them and cares for them... but still...  
I will keep waiting for the waiting ones.
I will keep waiting on and for the Lord.
I pray you will also.

Talk to God today.  Seek the Lord.  Take time away from other "stuff" and devote that time to simply having a conversation using honest words from a humble heart.  God cannot resist that.  God responds to that.

Wait on the Lord.
And He will strengthen your heart. Psalm 27:14





Monday, April 30, 2018

WHILE YOU'RE WAITING FOR THE WHITE KNIGHT

Evidently, if you want to write a screenplay for a "chick flick" kind of movie, the plot is not difficult to figure out.  It's the same formula over and over.  Names change. Lead actors change.  Movie titles change.  Locations change. But we women seem to love the same theme over and over again. 

You have two people who meet and fall in love. Although their love is deep and real, some difficulties arise between them. The guy (always the guy) allows this woman to get away.  At the very last second, when it is almost too late, the guy comes to his senses and then he literally climbs mountains, swims oceans, walks on burning coals of fire.. JUST TO HAVE HER.  Before you send me emails about over generalization, think about it girls.  Why do we want that "I cannot live without you and I will pay any price to have you" moment?  Why do we want/need that?  Why do so few of us get it? 

I get to talk to and hear from hundreds of women. Some single, some married, some divorced, some widowed. At the core of their being, I believe many of them are starving for that kind of love. 

They want someone, anyone, somewhere, somehow to love them so much, SO MUCH, that nothing is too high a price, nothing will keep him from doing what needs to be done so that the two of them can be together forever. In the movies, the guy realizes that losing the love of his life, losing this once-in-a-lifetime kind of love would be the stupidest thing he ever did. So he does whatever he needs to do. He swallows his pride. He climbs mountains. He changes his life. He gives up his friends. HE GIVES UP EVERYTHING TO HAVE THIS WOMAN. EVERY. SINGLE. THING.

It rarely happens of course. Real life is not the movies. In real life, the guy who says he loves you more than he loves his wife... doesn't leave her for you. IN REAL LIFE, the husband who takes you for granted, keeps taking you for granted no matter how you plead with him not to.  The guy who says he will love you tomorrow if you give him what he wants today.. doesn't love you tomorrow.  You wait for a chick flick movie ending - but it never comes. 

OR DOES IT?

I HAVE FINALLY UNDERSTOOD.. IN THE DEEPEST PLACE OF MY HEART.. THAT..the kind of love we need can never be found in another human being.  We were created to be loved in a higher way.  A longer way. A more authentic way.

It's not a movie. It's real. It's true. It's forever.
I have been brokenhearted and disappointed by people who said they loved me but let me walk away. People who have walked away even though I loved them with every ounce of my heart. Have you?

The love we are seeking has a name. His name is Jesus.  HE is the love I crave and need.  He will never leave. He will never forsake me.  Or you.

He gave up more than everything to have you. He gave up His throne in heaven. He gave up His perfection. He let ALMIGHTY GOD pour out His ALMIGHTY ANGER AT YOU.. on Him.  

This is not a movie.
This is real life.

This song is older, not the best sound... but says it perfectly.

Listen if you want to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rFUnwXn9Eo




Thursday, April 19, 2018

BIG ENOUGH

One billion trillion.  Stars in the universeThat's just an estimate.  That's just what scientists think.  They haven't actually traveled the universe and counted each star, each sun. There are probably way more than a billion trillion.  One billion.. what is one billion?  A billion is one thousand millions.  A trillion is one thousand billions. These are astronomical numbers. I cannot imagine the magnificent greatness of that, much less the majesty of the One Who created it all.

This week I read a verse I had never noticed before - "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." (Psalm 147:4). What exactly does that mean? I mean, exactly translated? I mean, someone doing an in depth study of each word? It means - He knows how many stars there are and took the time to name each star and he knows the number and the name He named every star.

OK.. so.. so.. so what? So... how great is this God who can count and number more than a billion trillion things? I forget the names of people who attend my church, and I go to a small church. God numbers and names the stars.  And remembers the number and name. 

This reminds us that we have been given more than we can imagine...to have the mind-boggling privilege, through Jesus, of BOLDLY, CONFIDENTLY approaching the Throne of this MAGNIFICENT, MAJESTIC, ALMIGHTY GOD. I mean, why does God even bother with us? What kind of LOVE is this?

Jesus told us more about the nature of God when He told the people that God sees to it that the ravens are fed and that the lily's of the field is the way God decorates and clothes GRASS. (Luke 12). 

OK... so..so..so what? So Jesus point was to remind the people that if God - OUR FATHER - cares enough to feed birds and decorate grass.. HOW MUCH MORE DOES HE CARE ABOUT US - AND - THE THINGS WE CARE ABOUT?

FINALLY.. GETTING BACK TO PSALM 147....

The verse BEFORE the one about God naming the stars reads: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3) I am encouraged when I have the most infantile, basic hint of understanding about how great and mighty and majestic and awesome my Father in Heaven is... AND YET...
HE HAS HEALED MY BROKEN HEART.
HE HAS HEALED THE WOUNDS MY BROKEN HEART GAVE ME.

I want you to be encouraged also.  He is SO BIG that He numbers and names every star.

IS HE BIG ENOUGH TO HEAL YOU? HE IS.
IS HE BIG ENOUGH TO PROTECT YOU? HE IS.
IS HE BIG ENOUGH TO FORGIVE YOU? HE IS.
IS HE BIG ENOUGH TO UNDO YOUR MISTAKES? HE IS.

He is SO LOVING that He also sees each broken heart.
He is SO FILLED WITH COMPASSION that He heals each broken heart.
He is SO MERCIFUL that he binds the wounds and the pain and the consequences of the broken hearted.

BE ENCOURAGED TODAY....
God is 
BIG ENOUGH 
to care about 
THE SMALLEST DETAILS OF YOUR LIFE.


"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit."

Psalm 147:5
    

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

BLAMING BARUCH

They were God's people... and they were terrified... TERRIFIED.. of the Babylonians... (and who can blame them?)and wanted to escape from Israel and go to Egypt...where they assumed they would be safe.  

As they were on their way... already kind of deciding what they thought they SHOULD do.. they approached Jeremiah to ask him to inquire of God.. Should they go? Should they stay in Judah? This is a curious thing that they did - because they had already started out to go to Egypt. If I were Jeremiah I might have asked them,"Why are you asking? It seems like your mind is already made up and your feet are already following the path you have decided is the right thing to do." 

Furthermore, they told Jeremiah, "May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God." (Jeremiah 42:5-6).

Jeremiah inquires of the Lord. God tells Jeremiah to tell the people to stay in the land.. their land..His land... and if they do He will bless them and build them up and prosper them.

The people reject what Jeremiah tells them that God has told him.  They accuse him of lying and being influenced by his scribe, Baruch.  And they accuse Baruch of lying because he wants them to be handed over to the Babylonians and killed. What they never ask themselves is, "Why would Baruch want that for us?" and "How can we possibly know what Baruch is thinking or saying and why we think Jeremiah would be influenced by it?"

What?
So they disobey, go to Egypt and are destroyed and led in to captivity.

Sad story. So what?

Have you ever met people who say they want God's will but they have already started to go in the direction they want to go?  

I have.

They ask you what you think and when you offer them God's Word they reject it. 
They "Blame Baruch"...they refuse to accept that God's Word is God's Word and blame the Bible as an unacceptable answer to what they have already decided to do.  

IT'S TRUE THAT SOMETIMES... we all face TERRIFYING BABYLONIANS... we face things that we cannot control.. we cannot overcome.. .we are convinced it will destroy us.

So we run to Egypt.. we run to what makes sense.. what we can control.. because we refuse to believe God is good and can protect us... WHERE WE ARE.. IN THE MIDDLE OF WHAT WE ARE FACING.

The Babylonians were cruel and destructive. No one can blame them for being afraid.
So is cancer.
So is betrayal.
So is death.
So is financial fear.
So is rejection.
So is the world.
So are the leaders of our nations.

It's natural to be afraid of and affected by those things.

It seems unnatural to trust an unseen Being who doesn't let us hear His voice when we want to. 
We want to trust ourselves.
It makes sense to take matters in to our own hands.

You don't have to believe the Bible is God's Word.
You don't have to believe He will walk with you, next to you, help you. You don't have to WAIT until the victory is evident.
You don't have to ask the Holy Spirit to help your actions conform to what the Bible says.

You can take matters in to your own hands - or trust your life in to the Hand of God. That's your choice also.

God's Word is God's Word... And in it He makes promises that will never be broken.  He gives assurance that no matter what you are walking through, He is walking right next to you.

And you have been given the freedom - BY GOD - to believe it and receive and live it.. or not.

Many people say they want to know God's will, but when the Bible seems to indicate that the path they are on is not the path God has offered them.... they brush it off as words from an archaic Book.

Blaming Baruch is often the first step toward our own demise.