Saturday, November 3, 2018

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL


I love that quote by Francis Chan because he sums up exactly what the Enemy of Humanity does in order to distract us:  he makes us change our idea of what success means.

Distraction is his diabolical device. Here's how he distracts us:

The first step is changing our audience.  Our audience becomes other people rather than God. We want people to applaud us, we want people to know our name, we want people to think we have succeeded..............and when they do, we convince ourselves we have succeeded -- when --  from eternal perspective... we have failed. 

The second step is to change the location of where we want to succeed.  Jesus always spoke to His disciples about "The Kingdom of God" (email me and I'll email you all the verses).... another Kingdom.. an Eternal Kingdom.  "If you want to be great in THAT Kingdom", He said, "become a servant of all."   In the first chapter of Acts, after His Resurrection, the Bible says He spent many weeks speaking to them about The Kingdom of God, but these people STILL focused on the Kingdom of Israel... "are you going to kick those Romans out now, Lord?"  It comes naturally to us to focus on here rather than there.. that's why the Holy Spirit HAS to come and live in us... to teach us, lead us, convict us, comfort us.. Succeeding here brings some satisfaction.. but can never compare to the glory that awaits us.  We need to choose to succeed there more than here.  Sadly, most of us cannot "see" that far.

The third step is forgetting the real story.
If we say we believe the Bible, then we know that it is the story of the fall of man. It's tragic, really.  There is sure death waiting for every soul. Every soul will have to pay for every sin.  BUT God has provided a way.  We believe that every person can be delivered from Death, given new Life, be restored to our Father in Heaven and live again.. live forever.  There is no song, no sermon, no story, no funny personality, no clever turn of words- NOTHING - that can change the story but JESUS.  What He did, what He is doing and what He will do.   The story is Jesus. 

Good for you if you have succeeded in your career or ministry. Enjoy the moment.  Trust me...it will pass.

Just take a moment to consider if heaven is applauding you.

Or if you are applauding yourself. 
 
 






 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

HOW TO BE HAPPY

So, o.k., here are my suggestions for living a happy life. Ready?

1) Stop trying to "be happy" and focus on being thankful. Be thankful for things you have no control over that are falling in your favor today: you can see, you can walk, you have a job, you aren't starving, you aren't living in a gulag in a third-world nation.  It is an undisputable fact that happiness and contentment rise when your thankfulness does.

2) Accept your utter lack of control over most everything you are trying to control.
You cannot avoid rainy days but you can be thankful you have an umbrella.
You cannot make everyone love you but you can be thankful for the people who do.  
You will not succeed at everything, but you can be thankful that at least you tried.
You cannot avoid losing things and people you love, but you can be thankful for them while you have them,
We are ALL living life on the borrowed mercy of God. 
We are ALL under His control whether we acknowledge it or not.
ONLY GOD IS IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS.
Accept that and trust His love for you,

3) Stop talking negatively about other people. 
No. No. Seriously. Don't talk about the annoying co-worker, your in-laws, people at church. Everyone on earth has the self-control it takes to NOT SAY WORDS.  You will not believe the effect your gossip is having on your inner being until you make the effort to STOP.  STOP assuming you know why someone is doing what someone is doing, or what his/her motive is, or what they are thinking.  
ONLY GOD KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT IS GOING ON IN SOMEONE'S HEART and life, 

4) Expect from others what you expect others to expect from you.
We have such high standards and high expectations of others, but expect others to give us a break when we don't meet the standards we expect from others.  We expect people to be polite, yet want them to excuse our rudeness; we expect people to have love that covers a multitude of our sins, but won't let anyone off the hook when they show signs of being weak and human. 

"Merciless Christian" is the epitome of an oxymoron. 
You cannot be one if you are the other.


Have compassion on other people in the same way you'd like other people to have compassion on you - and you'd be surprised at how happy your everyday life will become,

OK.. well for today let's focus on these four and try them for a week or two.. and check your happiness status.


"Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."Matthew 5:7


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Thanks




Saturday, October 6, 2018

COMPROMISE AND THE WONDERFUL CHRISTIANS WHO DO

(This blog was accidentally deleted.. so I'm posting it again..)



Compromise.  Seems like a word we all need to embrace or we are going to destroy ourselves and the world.  

Compromise.  One definition is: 

"a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions; settle a dispute by mutual concession."

Compromise.  In our destructive, hate-filled society, it seems like the answer.  We all agree to disagree and just get on with our lives.  Seems. Like. The Solution. 

Unless you continue to search the definition of the word. 
It also means: 

"accept standards that are lower than is desirable.


as in - "we were not prepared to compromise on safety"



Compromise ALSO means:  "to weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable."



You have to change your mind - and lower your standards - in order to compromise.



It's easier to change your mind and just get along with everyone.  Getting along with everyone seems like such a loving, enlightened thing to do.  And it is.  



But getting along with God seems...uhhh... more important.   To me it does.

All of a sudden, I see posts on Social Media by those wonderful compromising Christians. They seem so loving to frown at those archaic standards in the Bible.  

But if they want to compromise, that's their choice. Compromisers are always about CHOICE.

It isn't the compromise that surprises me. 
It's the venom of the compromisers.  

It isn't like they calmly say, "Oh, I've decided to change my mind about what I believe God's standard is" and then go about their daily lives. 
OH NO... they INSIST you agree with them.
They INSIST you compromise with their compromise.
They turn on anyone who will not agree with them.
Especially other Christians.  They rant..and dare I say.. RAVE against anyone who has the nerve to not want to compromise.

I mean.. I want people to like me.. I don't want to upset anyone. I am aware that I have no right to cast a stone at anyone about anything.. EVER... still..

God is merciful, but He does not compromise.  
This concept seems confusing to so many.  Why is that?

God is merciful, loving, forgiving and full of compassion toward humans. He knows we are weak. He knows we will sin. He LONGS TO FORGIVE.

God has mercy...but He doesn't COMPROMISE.  

God doesn't say, "Oh, you know what? Now that it's 2018, I'm thinking that maybe I've been a little hard-nosed about all those silly little laws about sex, and murder, and lying and jealousy. WHY DON'T I JUST COMPROMISE AND LET SIN RULE AND REIGN IN THE UNIVERSE?" 

HE LOVES US TOO MUCH TO COMPROMISE ON THE REASON FOR ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THE WORLD - SIN.

He is willing to forgive you for it. He is longing to take away that guilt that is crushing you because of it...BUT...

He doesn't compromise His standards. He still has something He calls sin. And He still insists on telling us that it will separate us from Him. Now. And forever. 

My enlightened fellow Christians are vitriolic (filled with bitter criticism or malice) toward anyone who has the nerve to say something like, "I choose to believe what I've always believed." 

I have noticed that people who compromise are people who have compromised.  And rather than fall on the mercy of God,they decide God isn't relevant anymore.

Whether you've have an abortion, or your brother is a homosexual, or your son is committing adultery, or your daughter is sleeping with her boyfriend, or you allow yourself to hate someone, or you refuse to forgive someone who has asked for forgiveness, or you are jealous... DOES GOD STILL LOVE THEM? LOVE YOU? LOVE THOSE OF US WHO ARE WEAK IN OUR FLESH? ABSOLUTELY!!

HOWEVER...God doesn't compromise by telling you not to worry about it.  He doesn't say it isn't sin - He says "I sent my Son to completely pay for that sin.  I sent my Son to cleanse you of the guilt and anxiety that sin brings."

If someone is ill, we don't "compromise" and convince them they aren't sick. How is that LOVE? Would you tell a child with a fever, "Don't worry about it. You aren't sick. You are merely expressing yourself."

Are you JUDGING that child by wanting to have their illness cured?
Are you being narrow minded for refusing to go along with the crowd who is insisting that the fever is not caused by an illness?
Are you loving that kid by overlooking their disease?

NO.. we would get that child MEDICINE so that they can be healed.  

Real LOVE doesn't overlook the sickness. Real LOVE admits it is there, and finds the cure.

Real LOVE is what God has. He expects us to ADMIT we have the sickness called "sin" and ask Him for the cure:  The Blood of Jesus.

If you have decided that God didn't mean what God said, and you have decided that what was formerly an abomination to God is now acceptable behavior - you are allowed to believe that.

If I don't want to lower, change, or reinterpret what I believe about God, that is my right.

Right? Right.

My whole point is to state this fact and ask the question that follows it:

The compromisers always have such venom toward those who refuse to compromise.  Why is that?

"For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold."

2 Timothy 4:3
(AMP)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

FOLD SOMEONE'S SWEATER TODAY

She was a cup of water to my spirit.
She was a light to my weary eyes.
She lifted my eyes and head.
She erased, for a moment, all the rejection I was feeling.
She had no idea that twenty years after being in her presence for less than five minutes, she would be a woman who taught me a great big lesson.
She? 
She was an assistant in a doctor's office.  
Me?
I was there for a routine appointment.
She?
Picked up my sweater that I'd tossed on to the seat and folded it neatly for me. 

That's it. That's the end of the interaction.  The end of the story. Before she took my temperature and blood pressure, she saw my sweater in a lump on the chair and picked it up and folded it. Then she left. 

She didn't know that I was going through a season of sadness and brokenness. Rejection.  Confusion. Pastor's wife. Pastor. Trouble at the church. People rejecting us. 

She just knew I was a woman whose sweater would be wrinkled if someone didn't fold it neatly.  She didn't ask me why I didn't fold my sweater. She didn't tell me how nice she was for folding it for me.  She didn't give me a speech about people who don't value their things and don't fold their sweaters.

She just folded my sweater because a folded sweater is better than a wrinkled one.  I mean, seriously, who writes blogs about a sweater folding woman???
I do.

And maybe it's because I was so broken at the time.
And maybe it's because I felt so attacked.
And maybe it's because I was in a raw emotional season.
Or maybe it's because I hadn't felt kindness from another human being in so long... '

BUT... her kindness.. small as it was... revived something inside.

Yes.. seems silly to write about it.
Except it isn't. 

I learned a big lesson from that sweater folding woman

We may never know how one act of caring, no matter how small, may be the thing that waters a dry and broken heart..and....gives it just enough hope to try another day.

It isn't easy to be kind in such an angry world.
If it was easy, everyone would be.

Fold someone's sweater today.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

FATHER, FORGIVE US..... WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO.

And so..life as I knew it.. has changed for me... since 2015... a book about Mom coming out just as a movie she prayed for came out... and.. a clip of her with one of the producers on every DVD... millions of people looking for this powerful woman of prayer.. who is home with her SAVIOR... they look for her.. and find me.  And.. people want to know about her.. hear about her..learn from her...  

I have been overwhelmed.  Completely overwhelmed with emotion.
You might think my emotion is due to watching the clip of my mom's interview with Stephen Kendrick that is a special feature on every War Room DVD.  It isn't easy to see my mother.,,. full of life... ten feet tall in front of a church on a church screen...full of Jesus... full of love... with me sitting next to her at her kitchen table....unaware that months later I would not be able to sit next to her.. ever again...  You'd think my emotions would spill over.  NOPE.  I have watched her beautiful face hundreds of times..,.and feel just thankfulness to have had her..

I am overwhelmed by the people in the pews. 
I am overwhelmed by the people in the pews.
The children God loves... His children.
I am overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by...

Their hunger for MORE of God.. their desire to know how to speak to Him... their longing to hear Him... wanting to find God's heart...and their inability to find it.. though they attend church regularly, memorizing Bible verses, volunteering... working hard for Jesus... 

And yet... 
Their questioning faces -
"Did someone like your mother really exist?"
"Does God really answer prayer?"
"Did she truly love Jesus THAT MUCH?"
"Was she serious when she said, 'When you have Jesus you have everything?'"
"Please teach us how to pray."


What?  What? What?  Why is someone who had a childlike faith, embraced God's Word as utter truth, prayed with authority, saw God answer prayer, LOVED PEOPLE WITH THE LOVE OF JESUS... 
someone unusual to other followers of Jesus?

Why isn't she the norm - rather than the exception?

It's true that not everyone is supposed to be like Molly Bruno (as a friend recently reminded me)....

But... 

God has certainly decided to raise her up... in my small circle... as an example. (1 Cor.11:1)

How is it possible in this country... that with all our efforts
All our books
All our music
All our evangelism
All our media
All our self-promotion of our "ministries"

THAT 

the people in the pew don't really pray?
the people in the pew don't really trust God?
the people in the pew are choking on despair?

We're doing something.  But is it feeding the flock?
We are promoting something.. but is it prayer?
We are doing lots of talking... but is it about Jesus?

I am overwhelmed by the hunger in God's children... Who knew how hungry they are?

I am surprised at their surprise to discover that the secret to Mom's life was childlike faith. That's it.  Believing that God's Word is true.. that.. His love is real... and living each moment speaking to a real and living Man in Heaven... Jesus.

What are we doing - those of us up in front of God's children?

I am overwhelmed by the overwhelming hunger in God's people.
I am.



Father, forgive us.  We know not what we do.





Wednesday, August 29, 2018

YOUR CHILDREN INSIDE YOUR BURNING HOUSE

You love your children.  Everything you have belongs to them. You give all you have so that they can have all you give. 

Your children have access to anything in your house.  You are sure to let your children know that although you OWN the house, they have permission to use and enjoy anything in it.

Of course, there are some caveats: don't open the door to strangers and don't play with matches.

And then one day, after leaving them alone for just a few hours, you come home to a horror scene. YOUR HOUSE IS ENGULFED IN FLAMES!! 

You see fire trucks at the scene. The firemen are arguing about who has the authority and position to hold the hose, while others are fighting over which ladder to use.  While they argue, your house continues to burn, with your children inside.

The neighbors run up to you... because they are angry that the firetrucks have done damage to their lawns. While they scream at you about their stuff being ruined, your house continues to burn, with your children inside.

The TV news has arrived - and they are jockeying for the best "shot" of the burning house- which continues to burn with your children inside.

Where would your focus be?  Would you join in with the firemen - trying to decide who has more seniority, who has the right to lead the fight against the fire?

Would you be apologizing to your neighbors and explain to them that you had nothing to do with their stuff being ruined?

How much time would you spend being sure the TV camera crews got just the right angle of your home? How much would you care about your reputation and how your home looked on TV? 

Would you be standing there, telling anyone who would listen that you WARNED your children not to play with matches.. and they disobeyed you?  Would you be concerned about not taking the blame for their sin?  I doubt it. 

I think your only focus would be to RESCUE YOUR PERISHING CHILDREN!!!

And maybe now we can "see" for just one moment the heart of God for the world.

ANYTHING that distracts us from focusing on HIS CHILDREN being rescued from the fire is distracting us from what truly matters.
God wants to rescue us... even though we have created our own disaster.

And there we sit - arguing about different worship styles, or different doctrines... or politics and the people running things.. or... our 'stuff'.. or our reputation....

What matters to God is rescuing His children from the flames. What matters to God should matter to His rescued children,

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
John 3:16-17

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