Uncertain?

 

I am sure you have seen the comments about the pandemic from the news media, your friends on social media, and probably family members and close friends. People who are experts in one area are now experts on the pandemic too. I believe we will all do well to press into God and listen to His voice, especially during these times of uncertainty.
We don’t know what the future holds; we I know who holds the future. No joke. I also know that even if I knew what the future had in store for me, I cannot do one thing about it except watch and wait. So, I sit at my home, just like you, and wait to see what’s next.

uncertaintyWhile I wait, I pray that my faith stays strong. I pray to shut out all the “experts” who are not experts, and I pray to take things seriously and also not to overreact.
I remind myself when the semi-experts begin to talk that God empowered professionals to study medicine and all kinds of diseases. I will listen to them. Also, I remind myself that everything is not a conspiracy. So when I read where people are spreading innuendo and gossip, I move right pass them. Listen, this is the time to trust God and listen to the scientists and medical experts.
I am no medical expert, nor am I a Biblical scholar. I am, on the other hand, a Believer. Not just a Sunday Believer, but an every day, Bible read and prayer Believer. I know that God has a plan and purpose for each of us. I do trust that His will be done. I also have to trust what the medical experts tell me and take their guidance seriously. So I wash my hands regularly, stay away from crowds, go out to exercise alone, and then I go back to my house and remain unless there is an urgent need.

Like you, I don’t like uncertainty. What keeps me going? Believing what the Word of God tells me. 2 Timothy1:7, “For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-faithoverfearcontrol.” So I try very hard not to fear, but to trust. His Word says in John 14:18, “I will not leave you desolate: I will come unto you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” So, I remind myself the God is here right amid this uncertainty. He said He would be, so I will not fear. The scripture that really speaks to me during these times of uncertainty is found in Psalms 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Feeding my mind with the Word of God rather than people reduces my anxiety.

There is no doubt that uncertainty fuels fear. However, faith can help us to overcome that fear. Recognize that having faith does mean we are void of fear; it means we can look at fear and trust God despite what we see or feel.
I want to encourage you today. If you do not generally read, start reading your Bible each day. Also, stop and say a simple prayer and remember to think about the needs of others. These acts will reduce your anxiety. More importantly, these acts will take the focus off yourself and cause you to care for the needs of your family, friends, and neighbors. These acts are contagious and will have a domino effect that can impact your attitude and the attitudes of those around you.

Encourager or Discourager?

EncourageI love being the person who makes another person feel good about themselves. I like speaking words of encouragement to them and then watching them come alive.  I know, probably more than most, just how powerful words can be.

The good thing about a person who likes to encourage is that they do it whether the other person needs it or not. They know how important it is to be sensitive to those with whom they interact.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I people watch. By people watching, I can tell immediately who the Encouragers are and who the Discouragers are.  I want you to think about this. You know just as I do, the value that Encouragers bring. We know the traits they demonstrate; generally, they are happy, optimistic and positive people. We also know the Discouragers; they are just the opposite.  Although they can be negative, pessimistic and unhappy, many times they display more subtle traits than that.  In fact, you may not be able to really point to anything specific; you just feel it.

Discouragers may not ever say one discouraging or disparaging word, but what they can do is not acknowledge any good thing about you.  They may be ones who withhold praise or stay quiet when someone else has something good to say about you. They don’t do or say anything to support you, although they claim to be your friend.

Encourage-1thessaloniansWhich are you? Are you an Encourager or a Discourager?  You may not be comfortable with giving compliments, but you can still encourage others.

I believe one form of encouragement is seen in actions.  We can “love” the way Jesus told us to do when He said to “love one another.” Life is hard and people are facing challenges every day.  People we meet or those we interact with each day are facing things that we know nothing about.  People are facing loss, whether in the form of a divorce or a loss through death. Others are going through the loss of a job, while others may be dealing with grave illnesses, addictions, family problems, work problems, foreclosures, or jail.  These are real life issues and some will share while others will not. You may be the difference in whether they keep going or give up, in whether they succeed or fail.  You don’t have to show sympathy–that’s not encouragement. What you should do is inspire another person with the courage they need to keep on going. No, you may not be comfortable speaking words of affirmation to others, but you can do other things to encourage those around you.

Be careful and watch the words you use with your children and grandchildren no matter how frustrated you might get with them.  If you are upset, always tell them that you love them and then tell them why you may be disappointed.  If you are frustrated with your spouse, do the same.  If you have an obnoxious friend that might drive you nuts, pray for yourself and be intentional in praying for them.  If you have a friend who seems to always achieve & get what they want, to include compliments, don’t begrudge them, encourage them to keep on achieving and thank God for their achievements and blessings.  All of the good that you do in speaking well of and to others, will come back to you.  In the end, God commands us to encourage one another. You want to obey Him, don’t you?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

 

 

Celebrate Her!

Mothers-Day-Picture1It’s another Mother’s day and many are celebrating moms. Others are grieving because their moms are no longer with them and then there are others, like me, who lost my mom at a young age many years ago. I miss both my mom and grandma, but I do not grieve anymore. I celebrate them.

I was reading a post that made me think a lot about this holiday. The writer said something like, “please be sensitive when you all begin posting Mother’s day comments tomorrow, I lost my only child a couple of years ago.”

I don’t know the person who wrote that post, but it did touch me. As I contemplated what this woman had written, my mind did not go to my own mother, but to myself. I am the mother of one child too.  I don’t want to focus on anything that would make me or you feel down. Some of you already feel that way, so for the lady who lost her only child, I am so sorry.  I feel her pain.

momsI want to say to those who can celebrate, celebrate and be sensitive too. Mothers should be honored.  I want to focus on the beauty of what moms, even the ones who have gone, left us.

I am a strong, determined woman. I am, because of the many women who decided to be a part of my life.  The strength to stand and persevere came from watching my grandmother, aunt, great aunt and other women. My ability to think and solve problems came from watching them work through hard life issues. And the faith that I have, came from seeing them embrace their faith and hold to it in the toughest of times, trusting God to bring them through. I watched them believe and trust no matter what. I also watched them go through the loss of their own loved ones and evolve stronger, more determined. I learned that God would not give you more than you could bear and that all things worked out for good to those who loved God.  I learned so much from these mother figures.

Some of you experienced loving and nurturing mothers; they were so special. Others may not have had the same experience. Some may think that because they had the perfect mothers, everyone did. That’s just not the case. We know from living on this earth, that there are mothers out there that may not have been all that they should have been. If your mother is here, great and God bless you. Honor her. If your mother has gone on, I am sorry and God bless you. If your mother was not the mother many celebrate, I am sorry and will tell you this, there is someone who will take the past hurts and disappointments and turn your ashes into something beautiful.

However, if your mother is here, great and God bless you. Honor her. If your mother has gone on, I am sorry and God bless you. If your mother was not the mother many celebrate, I am sorry and will tell you this, there is someone who will take the past hurts and disappointments and turn your ashes into something beautiful. Don’t let the past define your future. “Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with

“Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with promise)” (Ephesians 6:2). Have fun celebrating with her while you have her here. Don’t be depressed if she is gone, celebrate the times you shared with her.  Think of the joy and laughter as well as the life lessons you learned from her.  If you are still grieving due to a recent loss, I won’t say stop grieving, I will say, God will be a mother to the motherless. I know, He has been to me.

Happy Mother’s day!

In Due Time, It Will Be Revealed…

God has a planEvery year in May, my husband and I put aside the chaos of life and spend one full week together doing nothing but hanging out. We always go to New York City and spend time walking the streets, eating from the street vendors, going to different kinds of restaurants, going to see a play or two and if family is close enough and have time, we see them. However, the trip is for the two of us to enjoy one another and to decompress.

Recently we attended the play, The Book of Mormon, on Broadway. I generally read reviews before I purchase tickets, but I only heard that it was a good play, so I didn’t read the reviews until a week before leaving for the trip and I had already purchased the tickets.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the play. Of course there were scenes that I felt were obscene and I would not have preferred to see them, but overall I liked the play.

As we were walking back to our hotel, my husband asked me if I was okay with the play and I asked right back, “were you?” He loved it. I asked him how would he have felt had the play turned from a particular group, the Mormons, to the Assemblies of God denomination (our denomination) or any other Christian denomination. He said, “well, I probably would not have liked it so much.” I said to him, “me either.”

I really didn’t give the play another thought after that until I sat down and began to write my weekly blog. The play was comical at best, but I thought about my stereotypes of different groups and I began to ponder the stereotypes that others have of Christians.  Why are we so weird to some? I have heard the comments “who would believe Jesus is God?” “the stories in the Bible are not believable, they are made up by men” “if there was a God, why would he be racist, sexist or favor one group of people over another?” ‘how can you believe in something that is not logical at all?” and the questions and comments go on and on.

lord teach meFirst off, I don’t claim to know nor understand the mind of God. So, I am not one of those Christians who believes that they have it all figured out. I just don’t. I know some will say, “see, you don’t know, yet you believe. You have simply been brain-washed your entire life.” I didn’t say I was stupid. I only said that I don’t have to understand everything. I believe that in due time, everything will be revealed.

I am not an ignorant person. In fact, I am highly educated. I have an undergraduate degree, two graduate degrees and one post-graduate degree. Oh and no, I have not only experienced life in America; nor been confined to only one area of the country, and I have hung out with people who are not like me. On the contrary, I have lived in two countries and I have traveled to Cuba, India, Sri Lanka, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Guam, the Bahamas, Greece, Turkey, England, Kuwait, Iraq and a host of others. I have been to just about every state in the United States too. I have eaten with my hands, with chopsticks and with utensils. Yes, I am well-traveled, yet I still choose to believe in Jesus.

I have friends from other countries that I can call on by name. They communicate with me and I communicate with them frequently. So I am not a closed-off person. In fact, I like to think of myself as a woman of the world. I don’t force what I believe down anyone’s throats, but I also do not stifle what I believe.

The point is this, if someone wants to make fun of Christians, I say let them.  We won’t make fun of you. I hope that we do not get angry at comedies or parodies of who we are and instead love more and trust God. I pray that in due time, not only will our trust in Him show the world why we trusted Him so much, but that our love will show the world why He is worth trusting.

Listen and trust me. Everything is by design and it will all be revealed in due time.

Love Without Conditions…

loveI read someone’s post recently that listed a whole bunch of things for his reader’s consideration. He said that someone asked him what advice would he give to his children.  He listed so many considerate, loving and well-articulated things he would tell his children;. Clearly he loved them.  But out of all the things he listed, what resonated with me the most was “love without condition”.  During the time I read his letter, I had just received mail from someone telling me of an issue in their family with a teenager.This parent was clearly upset and so totally disappointed with what had just happened.  I had already responded to the friend and then I read this guy’s post.  I immediately thought about the situation that had just been described to me and although I had pretty much said the same thing, the phrase “love without condition” would not leave me alone.

I began to think about it.  I pondered it and asked, What is “love without condition” anyway? Well, immediately Jesus came to my mind. He is the only person that I can think of who ever loved without condition. He loved humanity so much that He died for us. Yet, there are so many in this world who refuse to believe it. They say that this is just a story that someone made up.  That Jesus was indeed a good man, but there is no way that he is the Savior of the world. My simple response? But He is. You might say, prove it. I can’t. I just believe.

I believe that Jesus is the ultimate example of unconditional love. He reached beyond His little home town, His little team of disciples, He reached beyond His own people, the Jews, to embrace and include people that nobody else would  even dare sit with. Hey, but Jesus did. Jesus didn’t mind being around hookers, drunks, the lowest of the low, He didn’t mind sitting with women or people of different races, because He loved without conditions. He forgave regularly and He knew how to meet people where they were without condemning them. He loved them without conditions.

You might say, well, there are conditions, you have to change your life to be a Follower of Jesus; to be a Christian.  No, that’s not true.  I was messed up, like many others, and He accepted me as I was and then as time went on, my life began to change because I wanted to change.  Unless you have lived in some secluded & remote place where you have never had to interact with others or you have only been around people who are exactly like you, maybe you don’t know that. But even you and those like you, are not perfect. When you met Jesus, you were not then and you are not now! Yet He still loved and continues to love you.  In fact, the Bible says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I am not going to even pretend that I have mastered, nor that I am anywhere near loving unconditionally, but I hope that each day I get a little better at being loving, patient, & kind,. I hope that step by step I can become what we are told to become by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 :4-7 when he says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Hey, that’s a picture of what unconditional love looks like!  And unconditional love is not just for the people we like, it’s for everybody no matter color, gender, creed or (wait for it….!) sexual orientation.  We are to love people and let God handle the rest. Look, don’t judge me because I believe in loving others regardless of where they are. Hey, my sin and your sin may be different, but it’s still sin.the-new-commandment

A Pentecostal Perspective …

Jesus-is-Lord-Manila-1

I am a Proud Pentecostal.  I am a Positive Pentecostal too. Pentecostals are known for being charismatic and excitable people. We show emotion in our worship and some may think that we are weird. When I was a little girl, I was thought of as weird for sure.  We were the people in the church where people were “dancing in the Spirit” and No, we were not snake handlers!

Many people meet me and don’t believe that I would buy-in to this type of religious group.  You know, they think I am too intellectual, too smart, too informed and educated, to be a part of such a group. I am!

I love being Pentecostal.I love the excitement and the emotion expressed in our worship. I would not want to be identified with any other group. I am devoted to my faith.

My faith influences every part of my life!  My faith has not only informed my life, it has been the key element in me believing in myself and in the creation on my ideal life. I believe in prayer, Bible reading and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because I am a follower of Jesus and believe strongly in the tenets of my faith, I don’t think that I am supposed to live a life of negativity, pessimism nor poverty. The Bible says, “All things are possible” and I truly believe that all things are. I believe in hope; my faith tells me that I have a blessed hope.  My faith also helps me overcome my fears, helps me to believe in myself and has enabled me to take risks that I may not have ever taken had I not believed in what my Bible tells me about me.

You may ask, how does religion help you to live your ideal life? For me, it certainly gave me self-confidence, which of course affected my self-esteem. I don’t see myself as less than anyone. I don’t feel inferior, I don’t feel inadequate. That’s how my faith has helped me move forward and why I have achieved so much. I am not afraid to try. I hope you won’t be afraid either, ever.