Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3 friends in Heaven

I have 3 friends waiting for me in heaven.
One is paving the way.
The other has prepared a meal.
And the other is making my bed.

Don't be alarmed. I'm not supposing that I'll be leaving anytime soon.
But only that it's nice to know I have 3 friends awaiting my stay.

My friend Yolanda passed away today.
And I'm struggling to let go.
Letting go, is never an easy thing.
But the Almighty God decided it was time, and He lead her to her new home today.

She'd still be here today, had it been up to me.
But it was totally out of my control. In fact, I had no say.
And I'm not one to question the one who gives and takes.

On one of my last hospital visits with her, as we said our good-byes, she told me that "Hopefully the next time I come see her, it will be in her home and she will be better."

And so tonight, I know that she's home and feeling 100 percent better. So much better that there's no trace of disease, no imprints of tears, no lingering pain....
She is whole...

And as she gathers with friends, she celebrates.
As she contemplates His face, she's overwhelmed by grace.

Holy, Holy, Holy, is His name.
Eternal power, glory, and praise.

I have 3 friends waiting for me in heaven.
And she's the one paving the way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We are At Your Mercy

We are at your mercy Lord.

Japan has suffered a natural disaster... and massive destruction. Losses and despair.
Haiti is still waiting to be fed... to the full.
Africa needs clean water, as babies continue to die from malnutrition.
Iran is always in turmoil.
Mexico's poverty leads the hopeless to our country in search of hope.
America suffers from terminal illnesses and the curse of wealth,
plagued by the "me, myself, and I" disease.

Our world is a painful mess.
The world needs a savior.

And we search in means for food, but the babes are still hungry.
We send healing to the sick, but death is close at sight.
We write out checks in the name of humanity, but it's just not enough.

And we hold control in a tight grip, claiming ownership of it all. Our fists we swing up at the sky, asking "where are you God in all of this?"

And then a cool and lingering breeze caresses our faces, as our eyes are fixed on the heavens.
We close our eyes... we undo our fists... our hands wide open... our eyes wide-shut
And we fall to our knees in bare humility
Humbled by the one who is in control

And we stand still, as if frozen by His majesty
Only then, do we see His mercy

And finally we admit and whisper this small but heartfelt prayer, "Truly God, we are at your mercy."

I encourage you to pray this prayer with me today.

Romans 9:16

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The World Turns as You Stare at the Door

What are you waiting for? Open up the door and walk into the life that God intended for you.

Lately, I have been reminded over and over again that the "sweet juice" of life is not found in the comfort of my home, car, job, or family.

Lately, I've been pondering on how God wants me to come out of my comfort zone and reach out to others.
For those who are service-oriented, this may come as a "not so hard" task. But for those of us who have been self-titled: introvert, melancholy, pessimist, and self-absorbed, the task seems unattainable.

Then there's the worldview message written everywhere in BULLETIN BOARD BOLD LETTERS: IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU. OBTAIN THAT WHICH BRINGS YOU COMFORT. And it always seems that the comfort can only be found in concrete, material things.

So we believe what we read, and we strive to obtain these things that will bring us a comfortable and full life. And sometimes we obtain it... sometimes we obtain it all... and yet something's still missing.

It's like we have it all, but yet feel homeless.
Homeless, did I say homeless?

In fact, we believers are homeless. We are very far away from home.
This world is not our home... that's what's missing. Our home.

In the meantime, there is a world turning while we're staring at the door.
We close our doors and make ourselves comfortable on our big comfy chairs... meanwhile, there's a world in need of what we have.
We place our heads on our fluffy down pillows, while there are people longing to know that there is greater hope than this.
While we stare out our windows feeling safe and sound inside, somewhere there is a little boy wanting to know who Jesus is.
While we close our windows and lay in bed wondering if our needs are met, there is a teenage girl yearning for the Father's love.
There is a man needing to learn to forgive.
There is a woman wanting grace and mercy for her sins.

And yet you remain staring at the door...
So what's holding you back? Fear? Doubt? Selfishness?
I don't want to be comfortable anymore.
I'm ready to open my door.

Luke 11: 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.'

Friday, March 18, 2011

Living by Your Own Rules

Judges 21:25In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

I work at a Christian school, and by no means does that mean that it is a perfect place. As a matter of fact, at times it can be very discouraging and frustrating--especially when you see kids behaving in a careless fashion. Kids that profess Christ. Some openly and others quietly. Nevertheless, you start to wonder at times if anything is really sinking in.

What good is it to memorize the "Jesus Loves Me" song, if we live like we've never even heard of His love.

I'm reminded of this almost daily.
I give out instructions that are not followed accurately.
Students give their own "wishy washy" interpretations to things that are clearly stated.
Papers are turned in late, just because.
There is no evidence of remorse, when someone is wrong.
We cheat to get our way.
We lie, and justify it with more lies.
We talk behind eachother's backs, in the name of concern and love.

Wait...... did I just say "we"? Why am I including myself in all of this?

I do things right.
I'm the self-righteous one.
Of course, I do things right.

"I'm not a cheat.
I don't steal.
I do my best to be real...."

-Real with whom?
-Real, where?
"Where it's safe, of course.
Behind closed doors?"

-What's so real about that?
"It's somewhat real."


And so the daily routine of playing a part in this world "without a judge" is getting old.
You ever hear the saying, "There are too many chiefs and not enough indians?"

Everyone wants to be boss and ruler. Everyone feels like being their own judge.
What you see as right, may not be what I feel is right.
And what I see as wrong, you may deem plausible.
And the interpretations go on and on from person to person.

The problem is that when we get right down to reality, we are not the rulers, or bosses, or judges.
In fact, when we try to be, the results are always chaotic-- because we were never meant to be those things!

Why? because there already is a judge and ruler. And it's not us!

We all need a guide. We all need a definite direction.
Not a suggestion.
Not intuition.
Gut feelings, superstition.

God knew that we would need to know right from wrong. God knew that we would need a source of guidance. He also knew that we would struggle to follow the guide. Nevertheless, it is there... for us

God's word is our life's guide and direction.
It is the true source of what is right and wrong.

If only we would let it rule.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When the Heart is Troubled and the Past is not far Behind

Dear God,
Forgive me for asking you to forgive me once again.

It's just.... I--- I find it hard to forgive myself...

The sin has stained
and the guilt remains

Not because of you, dear Lord
For you are loving,
But because of me and my own estate

Your mercy fell
on me like rain
Yet, I dried off and went back again

To the pit of lies
Long suffering and cries

I was a fool to ever go back
And as I did, I lost track

Yet, you poured out your loving mercies
More than once or twice

You loved me still
In my demise

It's been so long
So long ago
Why won't it let me go?

"No... there is no hold on me per say"
I thought I heard my heart's voice say

"Let it go... it's in the past... it's now okay"

And yet I gave it another second of my day
A moment lost, now gone away

Now I resolve: I won't keep living this way
Instead, I'll pray...

Forgive me Lord, for asking you to forgive me one more time again.

Hebrews 10:17-18, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Am I Doing Good?

"Yes, you are doing good Ciara," was my response for what seemed like the 100th time in a 10 minute car ride to school.

She's funny that way. When she's behaving, she is aware of it, and wants to be sure that I'm also aware. I guess because when she's not behaving I make certain she knows that I know and I'm not pleased.

I guess as parents, many of us are guilty of pointing out the times of misbehaviors, disobedience, and shortcomings a lot more than we do the moments of serenity.

Like when in the car, the kids begin to fuss and I quickly lose my patience and "let them have it".
By contrast, when all is going well, and the car ride seems serene. Not a word is heard from mom. That should be a good thing, right?

I guess not always. That's why CC will often ask, "Am I doing good?"
If I quickly notice the bad, why can't I quickly notice the good?

Okay.... so I don't have a good response!
I am a mother, not a genius nor perfect...

Actually, I'm far from being the ideal mother. But I do try.
I think we all do.
We measure our words and actions and refer back to the mental notes we've collected originating from our own upbringing.

"The mistakes mom made, I won't make".
"I won't ever do that."
"My kids will have better than that."

And we try... I mean we really make our best efforts to be good parents.
Don't we?
It is an enormously huge thing to be this person that will someday have to admit responsibility for her child's successes and failures.
Actually, I think that's why we "stop them in their tracks" when they are on their way to misconduct... because we know that ultimately their conduct reflects who we are.

A mother... so much is said of mothers
So much is praised about mothers..
But the truth is that we ourselves are asking the question: "Am I doing good?"

The Mother's Day flowers give us some recompense. The birthday cards remind us we are cared for. But nothing tells us "we're doing good" as profoundly as when we see our children doing good.

Makes me wonder how Mary felt when she saw her son carrying a cross leading up to his death... and she witnessed his death on that very cross.

His death for me...
Not because of anything good that I have ever done.
But because of all the wrong that I've done.
That's why He did the ultimate...
Because there is nothing good about me--- on my own.

And so as I try to do my best in parenting, and as my daughter wonders how well she's doing... I am reminded that we all fall short; and He in turn, shows us mercy and compassion, regardless of of how "we're doing".

Psalm 51:1, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm feeling Full of Myself; Aren't you?

It's not a good feeling.... and I've had enough.
Enough of me....

If I could, I'd start over and be clear of me
I'd empty me of .... me

I got caught up in the daily underlying yet overt message of this world... that it's All about Me!
what makes me feel good
what makes me look good
what makes you think I'm good
it's in the here and now
it's in the wants and desires of today
it's in the dreams and goals of tomorrow
it's in my hands--- whatever I create
it's in my mind--- whatever is to be mine
it's in me..... and I remain the middle of it all

So much so, that I grew almost numb to the loss and sufferings of those around me. didn't really affect Me.
So much so, that I found it hard to accept the message God had for me in the Sunday morning Sermon.
But I did hear it...

"You are holding back. Not giving up yourself. You are living half-heartedly, so long as it benefits you. You are not fulfilled BECAUSE YOU'RE TOO FULL OF YOURSELF".

Don't think these were the words the preacher spoke, but that was the message I heard.
And I struggled with it for a while, just as I have been for some time now.

-First mental response: "you talkin to me?" (yes, and you may add the Deniro accent)
-Second mental response: "You ARE talking to me... and you have every reason to be."

Third /verbal response: "How much do I give you Lord? How much is enough without giving it all? and How much is good enough without losing what's comforting to me?

And then I heard this little "lie", and I knew exactly where it derived from: "If you do what He wants you to do, you will simply be going through the motions-- because you don't really want to be doing those things that He expects you to do. They are too big for you. The expectations are too high, and you are bound to fall short" so why even try to?"

Have you ever heard that one?

I hope I'm not the only one who's been close to being fooled by it.

And so for days, I struggled with this inner and spiritual tug of war. Longing to be more like Christ, but not wanting to step outside myself. Not wanting to deflate the fullness of my world.

Even so I began to "go through the motions", praying God would provide the sincerity I needed. And as I did, I began to hear the needs of those around me. My eyes lit up to the possibility that there are more needs to be filled than just my own.


I heard lots of news this week.
-A teenage boy loses his life to cardiac arrest, right after making the winning point for his high school basketball game.
-A 4 year old boy was found in the streets by police officers. No mother. No dad.
-A high school student suffers from several types of diseases.
- My friend only has another month to live.
- A homeless man finds $14,000 and turns it in. The owner gave him half of it back.
- A Christian singer makes her way into pop culture because she wasn't being noticed otherwise.
-Another Christian singer faces surgery of his vocal chords, and recovers to sing more praises.

And I think... there's a lot going on outside of me.

Matthew 4: 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."