THE LIVING GOD

Here is another devotional from Jon.  Enjoy!-anita

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For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? (Deut. 5:26)

 

The sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had forgotten the voice of God by the time they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai and begged Moses to speak on their behalf. They were terrified and for apparently good reason. This God spoke and the ground shook; only a few weeks before they had watched as the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea. They had had manna and quail, water from a rock and defeated the first of the peoples that occupied the land that Lord had sworn to Abraham would be theirs. Think what they might, I am sure none of them doubted that this God was alive!

It’s a radical idea actually. God is alive! He has thoughts and feelings. Some things make him happy and other things make him sad. Some things even make him angry. And that’s not even the best part! Because of Jesus coming to dwell among us it says in 2 Corinthians 6:16 “We are temples of the living God.” It goes on to say in the same verse:

“I will live with them     and walk among them, and I will be their God,     and they will be my people.”

So we, figuratively speaking, have come from Mt. Sinai, where we dared not even touch the mountain on pain of death, to dwelling with, in fact being the dwelling place of, the living God! And God loves us (Deut. 23:5), wants to be with us (Luke 1:78), thinks we’re important (Jer. 29:11) even worth dying in order to save (Romans 5:8) and wants to continue that relationship into eternity (John 14:3)!

This should transform us. If you’re wondering how just imagine you just won the lottery, the really big one, and now you have lots and lots and lots of money. Imagine how you’d act at first but then imagine how your thinking would be changed when you realize that you have enough cash to seriously impact a few of the world’s problems. You’d be energized, you’d have a new seriousness of purpose, you’d be focused on your chosen problem with intent to make a difference. Now consider God, your friend, who made the world and everything in it, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (ok, all the hills), who created it all from nothing by His words alone. You have won the lottery! Maybe you’ll have to wait for the Ferrari but how about those problems that we often feel powerless to tackle, the ugly ones like human trafficking, drug addiction, child soldiers and so on. We have the power, we have a Father who hates those problems as much as we do, we have family rights to whatever we need (But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God – John 1:12) and we have a God who believes in us (whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12).  We just have to see it and act accordingly because we are capable of far more than we know.

By:  Jon Roark

 

CAN I GET A TESTIMONY?

Here’s a good one from Jon.  Enjoy-anita

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“…even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)

It is not enough to simply know about God. We want, in fact need, to know God, in the present tense, as someone who is alive and active right now, why? So that the world may believe He sent Jesus.

Think about who Jesus is for a moment; better yet, think about who you were before you met Jesus and who you are now. No matter what your story it’s a fair bet that the person you are now, after meeting Jesus, is a radical departure from who you were prior to meeting Jesus. What, or rather who, effected that change? It wasn’t our knowledge about Jesus, our array of trivial facts guaranteed to win trivia games, but our knowing Jesus that made the change. At some point we decided to surrender – let down our defenses, give up our unsuccessful strategies for dealing with life, stop kicking “against the pricks” (Acts 9:5, KJV) – and give control to Jesus.

But heady as that was and no matter how far we’ve come it means far less if an unbelieving world doesn’t hear our testimony. Look at this example from John 4:

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.”  So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” (vv. 39-42)

The woman at first didn’t even know who she had met; in fact, she asked “…this is not the Christ, is it?” (v 29) Yet she was so amazed by the encounter that she was compelled to testify about the little she knew. From that small act of faith comes the result in verse 42. Now many believe and it’s a good bet that they will tell others.

Testimonies, thankfully, come in many flavors. My preferred method is writing but I know someone who spends his retirement going each morning to Starbucks and starting conversations. St. Francis supposedly said “Preach Jesus and if necessary use words.” There are as many ways as there are people but the important thing to remember is that once you met a man on life’s path and since then your life has never been the same. I’ll bet that there is some weary, discouraged fellow traveler who’d like to meet Him too.

By:  Jon Roark

 

NO ROOM…NO TIME…

There always seems to be room in life

For pleasures, and parties, and fun;

But, still in life, Jesus has no part…

There is no room for the Son.

There’s always room for gossip and lies,

And dreams of lust, and ambition;

But there’s never enough time

To search the heart…

And notice it’s sad condition!

There is ALWAYS room for over-time,

For position and wealth, mean much!

But there’s never enough time for prayer each day

To ask for the Spirit’s sweet touch.

These things you’re acquiring,

Will all soon pass away;

And you’ll stand at Eternity’s Gate.

See…you may find time for Jesus then…

But, He may say, “It’s too late!”

No room…no time…

In this busy world you pass through.

Some day when you come to the end of it all…

You may find, there’s NO ROOM for you!

By:  Anita Mondragon-published 2009

 

ALMOST…

Here is the promise of ALL promises…I drew it this morning.  If you don’t yet KNOW Jesus as your Lord and Savior…call on Him today, and be saved.  Tomorrow may be too late!-anita

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“What must I do to be saved?  BELIEVE ON the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” -Acts 16:30, 31.

Here is another verse that says the same thing:

 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” -Romans 10:13

DON’T WAIT…CALL ON HIM TODAY…BELIEVE ON HIM…AND YOU WILL BE SAVED!

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For years, and years I heard Your voice,

Call through life’s foggy haze;

And, I meant to come…and I almost did,

But the path seemed such a maze!

I should have come when Your call was strong,

And direction was so clear.

I hear You still, but Your voice is faint…

And the road’s now filled with fear.

My intentions were good, and I longed to come

When at first I heard Your voice;

But the longer I waited, the farther I strayed…

And now, time, has made the choice.

I know the story, how You left Heaven’s glory,

And died, just to pay my debt;

And, I wanted to come…and I almost did…

But…I just wasn’t ready yet!

Someday, You’ll come, and split the sky,

In just a mere moment…in the blink of an eye.

I’ll want to come…and I ALMOST could…

But, when You called, I never would…

Now, mercy is gone!  And I’ll pay the cost!

The saddest words heard… “Almost…but lost!”

By:  Anita Mondragon published-2009

 

 

 

SHE WASN’T ALWAYS…

Years ago, I read an article in the newspaper.  In this article, they interviewed several prostitutes.  Their response to the questions asked them in the interview is what prompted me to write the following.  The article was a real eye-opener to me, and caused me to realize that I should not be so quick to judge others in regards to their situation.  BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD, I could have been right there with them!  They need our prayers…not our judgemental looks and harsh comments!-anita

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She wasn’t always a prostitute….  She’d been some mother’s baby, small and pink and soft and pure.  She’d been an innocent  little girl making mud pies and skipping rope.

She said she’d been married once.  It seemed like an eternity ago.  Her husband and her had left their small home town and moved to the city to make a better life for themselves.

But, jobs were hard to find.  He looked for work…while she became bored.  Soon the drugs started…just so she could escape for a while, and not worry about their situation.  It wasn’t noticeable at first, at least, her husband wasn’t aware…but addiction wasn’t far behind.

She was an addict now…a junkie.  She stole what little money he’d bring home from doing odd jobs, just to buy drugs.  She became repulsive to him, so he left because he couldn’t stand what she’d become.

Now…she walks the streets.  She’s been beaten, stabbed, and robbed at gunpoint.  Every night, she feigns love to fat, sweaty, disgusting men who pay her for her time.

I asked her, “What is the answer for you?”

In a quiet, wistful voice, she replied, “I don’t know…I think it’s death…”

“Living this way must be very difficult for you…what is the hardest part?”  I asked.

She answered tearfully, “The hardest part, is having to be ME when it’s all done…”

She wasn’t ALWAYS a prostitute…

By:  Anita Mondragon April 2008

FRUITLESS FIG

Here’s a good one for all of us to ponder on!  Thanks Lee!-anita

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Have you ever come across a passage in Scripture which absolutely left you scratching your head? Why is that there; it looks so meaningless? What is the Bible trying to teach there?

Well, I came across another one recently. This is the account of the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14. Jesus is in and around Jerusalem and preparing for His upcoming sacrifice on the Cross. Leaving Bethany and heading back to Jerusalem, Mark relates that Jesus was hungry and, seeing a leafy fig tree in the distance, He headed toward it. Once by the tree, He found it without fruit and then, amazingly, He cursed it saying “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” Now, what can that all mean? Why would Jesus—whose time was drawing short with the Cross ever looming—take time to curse this insignificant little fig tree? So, I’ve often wondered.

It seems that Jesus had a purpose. One clue I see is that the next line in the passage, after Jesus’ curse, says, “And His disciples were listening.” Typically, fig trees in this region have abundant fruit on them once they grow leaves. So Jesus expected it to have fruit when He approached it. In Jesus actions upon finding the tree fruitless we see an example of what Bible scholars call an “enacted parable.” According to Fr. Daniel J. Harrington writing in The National Catholic Review, enacted parables are “… symbolic actions intended to make a public theological statement….” Jesus’ actions with the fig tree, for example, were similar to what Old Testament prophets did before Him. Fr. Harrington cites examples of such enacted parables performed by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

A perfect OT example of an enacted parable can be found in Jeremiah 32 where the prophet foretells that God is giving Judah over to the Babylonians: “Behold, the siege mounds have reached the city to take it….” [Jer 32:24] Then, astonishingly, God tells Jeremiah to buy a piece of land nearby, despite the fact that the armies of Babylon are literally at the gates. My first thought was, huh, what future is there in that?! But Jeremiah obediently weighed out 17 shekels of silver for the parcel of land. The answer to this confusing enactment can be found in several places in Jeremiah. While God is permitting Babylon to conquer Israel because of its disobedience in serving/worshiping other Gods like Baal and Molech, He still wants Israel to know He is not abandoning her. Jeremiah 30:10-11 says in part, “…do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar…Jacob shall return [to the land], and shall be quiet and at ease….” So God, through Jeremiah’s purchase of the field in the face of impending disaster, is saying effectively, take heart, Israel, there will again come a day when it will make sense to hold deeds to property in the land. This captivity and removal to Babylon isn’t permanent “For I am with you….” [Jer 30:11]

And the fig tree? Ligonier’s Tabletalk comment on this passage notes, “Jesus cursed the fig tree for its fruitlessness, for not living up to what it appeared to be when it had foliage but no figs. That is a warning to all who profess faith in Him. We are to bear fruit for God’s glory….”

The Tabletalk commentary also notes: Often in the times of the OT prophets, they would symbolically use the example of barren fig trees to show divine judgment on unfaithful Israel [see Hosea 2:8-13, especially verse 12]. Jesus’ curse on the fig tree should be taken as a sign that judgment was about to come on Jerusalem. Instead of Babylon, though, it would come in the form of Rome and the resulting destruction of the city and the Temple.

My own conclusion, as I thought about this episode with the fig tree, is that God [Jesus] doesn’t waste time with irrelevant or insignificant things. If He takes what appears to be a superfluous action—like cursing a little fig tree—there’s more there than meets the eye. Look deeper!

By:  Lee Pierce

LOST…

I don’t believe I have posted this before, but if I have, please forgive me.

The following is the first poem I ever wrote.  I recall speaking with a friend of mine at the time who was in charge of a poetry group.  She knew I wrote children’s stories, and urged me to try writing poetry.  I told her I knew nothing about writing poetry, but would pray about it and see if it was something God wanted me to pursue.  That same night, I was awakened with the following words traveling through my mind at the speed of light.  Afraid of missing anything I was hearing, I jumped out of bed,  grabbed the first piece of paper I could find, (which was the back of an envelope,) found a pencil, (it was an eye make up pencil,) went to the bathroom, and wrote this with the night-light on.  The words were coming so fast, it was done in about five minutes.

I guess God DID want me to pursue poetry, for I am still writing!  Hope you enjoy!-anita

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Lost?  I’m not lost…not lost in Your peace;

Not lost, although I want to be…

Lost like a flame burning bright at noon…

Or maybe a raindrop in the sea!

I struggle with life from day-to-day,

Trying to do things my own way;

Even though I’ve heard folks

say and say, “Jesus has peace,

And He just gives it away!

He don’t require worry, blood, sweat, or tears;

Just call out His name,

And He’ll vanquish your fears!”

So, I said to myself, “I’m gonna give this a try,

Cuz if things don’t change soon, I’m gonna die!”

Well…it’s all different now,  I’m happy to say.

When fear comes now, He just casts it away!

With one word on my lips, I just have to say, “JESUS!”

And…POOF! …fear goes away!

Now, I won’t lie and say I never hear

Another voice sometimes speak loud in my ear.

This voice says, “You’re lost!  You’re lost!!

And things are SO unclear!”

And, momentarily, I listen…

Momentarily, I fear;

But then the name, JESUS, shines in my head bright as day,

And I turn with boldness, and to this voice I say…

“Lost?  I’m not lost!  Not lost, although YOU want me to be.

See…I’ve been found by the ONE who died for me!

When I call out His name, He casts away fear…

So, go on now!  Go away!  Disappear!”

Then peace like a river starts flowing through me…

There’s no more chaos…only harmony!

By:   Anita Mondragon -December 2004

THAT’S WHAT GOOD FATHERS DO!

For all of us who have children that have gone astray…here is a really good post for you to read!  This is from one of our new writers.  This is awesome Jon…keep ’em coming!-anita

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I have usually looked at the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15&version=NASB)  from the son’s viewpoint and I think this is how most people look at it. After all that is how the parable itself is told to us and the bulk of the story does deal directly with the son. I’ve also heard some teaching on the elder brother who is, according to most interpretations I have heard, supposed to represent the Pharisees or others among the Jewish people who considered themselves as above reproach. However, I have never heard much teaching about the father.

                If the elder brother is the self-righteous, religious leaders and the younger son represents those who have sinned and, knowing this, approach God with a humble and contrite heart (Jesus mentions them a few chapters later in Luke 18:9-14 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+18&version=NASB) then who is the father? It seems reasonable to assume that he must represent God himself. He is the source of every good thing in the brothers lives – the inheritance that the younger one squanders, the ring and robe he’s given on his return, even the fat calf that is for everyone (even the sour elder brother) to enjoy. You see this too in his responses to his sons throughout the story. Never does he respond with anger or bitterness or frustration. He is the perfect illustration of patience, peace and lovingkindness; truly a “good, good father.” I, on the other hand, am all too human.

 You see, I have a 38 year old son of my own who is on a long, prodigal trip and not yet ready to stop certain behaviors and give control of his life back to God. The younger son is a pretty good fit for him. I, of course, am the father. I wish I could say that I always deal with this situation with the Father’s love, compassion and kindness but the truth is I don’t very often.

                Today, for example, he called. We’ve been playing phone tag all week; he’ll call and we don’t seem to be near the phone then we’ll call back and he’s not there. But he called today and I answered. Right there is an opening for God – Lord, what do you want me to say, how should I respond, how can I bless and encourage him today? I wish I thought of these things before the fact but, far too typically, I don’t. The conversation didn’t go well. He wanted to yell about a lot of things from the moment I said hello and say things that I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean. Opening number two – Lord, what in the world am I supposed to do with this? How would you respond this in a positive and encouraging way? Again, I wish I responded this way but I didn’t. Instead I let him have it and finished up with a pretty significant profanity. Then I hung up on him. Opening number three – for the Lord to deal with me with considerably more gentleness than I showed.

                That is the significance of the father in the story for me. The younger son and the elder brother are easy to see as ourselves because they are imperfect and flawed from the start. The father however is far harder to see as myself because he is good in ways that I want to be and too often fail at. So now, instead of “well done, good and faithful…”, I find myself living psalm 51, “against you only have I sinned…” because that is what I have really done. As much as I have sinned against my son I have sinned much more against God who loves all the characters in the story with the same love. And yet I find that in the midst of the guilt and the shame is a nugget of grace. I was approached during the Sunday service by someone who said “You should write for the blog.” I think it was God since I had been wrestling with exactly that idea.  I’m glad when he talks to me that way because I had been wondering if he was still there – and he was. With that comforting thought in mind, he gave me a test which I promptly blew but God works all things together for good. Even as I was feeling pretty bad about the way things had gone, God was saying, “Look up…” I responded in my humanity but he responded in his godliness, without anger or recrimination. So, instead of wallowing a self pity or anger I got up and kept going.

                My son came over today. I sat in the basement working. Finally, I gathered my courage and went upstairs to meet him. We both said sorry and looked each other in the eye and just like that it was as though the whole thing had never happened. It was good to be reconciled. As we sat talking he said, “I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately; been thinking about going to get some counseling, I think its time.”

                Hallelujah! God took my sinful outburst and reduced it to its real size and then he gave me a gift I hadn’t even been expecting. I’m pretty sure he was smiling. Because that’s what good fathers do.   

By:  Jon H. Roark

 

THE CROSSROADS…

crossraods

Here is a poem I wrote in March of 2013.  It was at a time when I had some serious choices to make, and was unclear about the direction I needed to go.  I’m sure we can all relate to this dilemma! -anita

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I’m here at the Crossroads, once again,

Remembering now how hard it’s been,

To make these choices all on my own;

Not getting things right…

Opportunities blown!

So, this time, I’m coming

Straight to you.

I know that You’ll tell me

Just what I should do.

Which road should I take?

Which choice should I make?

Lord…speak loud and clear…

Only Your voice, let me hear!

Show me which way

I should go today;

My trust is in YOU…

My friend, tried and true!

By:  Anita Mondragon March 2013

THE WAR IS NOT OVER!

“Things are not what they seem.  This is a world at war.  Each of us has a crucial role to play….  A battle is raging,  And it is a battle for your heart.” -John Eldredge

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Years ago, I read a book by John Eldredge, entitled:  Waking the Dead.  There were many things in there that spoke to my heart!  In one chapter called, “Spiritual Warfare”, he says, and I quote, “This is the heart of our Enemy.  He is determined to hinder and harm and ruin God’s image bearers.  To steal and kill and destroy…the story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you COULD be, and fears it!”

The other morning, I read something in “Our Daily Bread”.  It was talking about a World War II soldier who continued to guard his post and refused to surrender until 1974-almost 30 years after the war had ended!  The soldier did not surrender because he was not convinced by all the leaflets dropped, telling him the war was over.  He would not relinquish his post until he got the official order from his Commanding officer.  His former Commanding officer had to travel from Japan to the Philippine Islands, where he (the soldier) was posted in 1945, to rescind the order…face to face.

This is the way Believers should be!  In this day and age, with all the Media, and Technology, we are being bombarded, and brain washed into believing our Faith is a thing of the past…too old fashioned for this century.  Even some big name preachers (I can’t call them pastors, because pastors protect the flock) will tell you the “War” is over; And it’s OK to lay down your weapon (The Word of God)…just tolerate…accept the world as it is…accept change!  Don’t offend anyone…

But, the “War” is NOT over!  It won’t be over until Jesus comes back and establishes Peace on this world.  If you are aware of this, and try to bring souls to the salvation of Jesus Christ, the Enemy will hunt, and track you down.  He will throw everything he can at you to try to convince you that there is no “War”.  Don’t believe him!

Our orders from God, our Commanding officer, is to STAY IN THE FIGHT;  Do not surrender until God Himself officially rescinds that order and relieves you of your duties.  Then…and ONLY then will the “War” be over for YOU!

DO NOT ABANDON YOUR POST!  ON YOUR FEET SOLDIER!  PICK UP YOUR WEAPON…You ARE at war!

Anita Mondragon 2016

Fight the good figh