SO…IS THIS HOW IT ENDS? Feb. 27, 2015

“…Well done, my good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of the Lord.  Matthew 25:21

Yard sales are one of my favorite pass-times!

Feeling blessed that we had happened upon an estate sale, my husband and I hurriedly found a parking space, and dashed inside.  It was a huge old mansion filled with priceless artwork, antiques, and expensive jewelry.  At one point, the grandeur of the place overtook me, and I stood in awe taking in all the wealth lying within the walls; but only for an instant, for I was ready to look for treasures.  Then…it hit me, and I began to cry.  As the tears streamed down my face, one woman approached me and asked if I was related to the deceased of the estate.  I assured her that I was only a shopper…just like her.  Unable to explain the tears, she quickly moved on to the next room, eyeing me curiously as she went as though I was somehow deranged.

I began to look for my husband, and finally found him in an upstairs room.  He too had a sad countenance.  I quietly took his arm and said, “I need to leave now…”  He nodded in agreement, as we headed out the door.  We were empty-handed.

We sat in total silence until we reached the driveway of our home.  “I’m sorry!” I sobbed.  “I know there were a lot of nice things there, but I couldn’t bear the thought of bringing anything home…”  He felt the same way.

How sad that someone would work hard their whole life only to have strangers come in and go through their beloved things…even down to their clothes, dishes, canned goods and groceries in the pantry!  It was like vultures had descended to devour; picking through things, pushing, grabbing.  It was pathetic to realize how greedy we humans can be at times.

I was reminded of the scripture that says, we came into the world naked, and we will leave the same way.  If we know Jesus as our Savior, we need to remember to lay up treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust can’t corrupt and thieves can’t break in and steal.  Those treasures are eternal.  No estate sales there!  No one picking through your belongings.  They are yours…forever, given by the Master to His good and faithful servant!

By: Anita Mondragon

UNFORGIVENESS Feb. 26, 2015

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.          Isaiah 53:7

When I’m wronged or hurt by someone close to me, I can come up with eloquent, well-crafted defenses of my position.

Jesus was unjustly wronged, more than any other person ever, yet He didn’t say, “Excuse me…I calmed the storms, I healed your sick, and I even raised the dead.”

When I choose not to defend myself, it feels like a battle of epic proportions; but if I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t I follow His example, and see God fight for me?

Why is it such a big deal to forgive others?  I think unforgiveness shows how little I understand my own salvation.  Forgiving is an affirmation of my own forgiveness from God.

By:  Sherri Evans

UNTITLED Feb. 25, 2015

When we look up at the bright and beautiful sky, we see His arms stretched out so extremely wide.  When we are lying down out on the beautiful and lovely smelling green grass, we can feel Him right there beside us; and when we reach out to Him, it is then that we feel Him reaching out to us so very tightly!

By: Nicole Shapiro

THE MOUSE IN MY GARAGE Feb. 24, 2015

“There he goes!” screamed grandma as she lifted her feet high in the air.  We were sitting on the patio, enjoying our breakfast when a tiny mouse ran by our feet.  He was running as fast as the wind!  We didn’t see him for the rest of the day…he was in hiding.  “I think we scared him more than he scared us!” I said, with a chuckle.

We didn’t see hide nor hair of him for days.  Then one day, as I sat on the patio, deep in thought, he stuck his wee head out the side door of the garage.  Our eyes locked, and we stared at each other for some time.  He was the cutest, tiniest, little creature I had ever seen.  He was dark brown, and had two shiny black eyes that never seemed to blink.  All by himself, he seemed so insignificant and harmless; but, my husband saw him and said we needed to get rid of him.  He filled two mouse traps out with cheese, and set them in two different places, hoping to catch him.

That mouse was just a baby!  He was so tiny…it just didn’t seem right to me to take his life; after all, he was just trying to survive like the rest of us.  I smiled silently to myself when I awoke the next morning and the cheese was gone from both traps, and the mouse had not been caught.  I was happy for him!  He’d had a good meal, and not lost his life over it!

I was soon to change my mind, for it wasn’t long before I began to notice more mice.  I wasn’t sure if mice were like people and told their friends about the nice neighborhood they had found; but he must have put the word out somehow, because they were everywhere…going in and out of my garage!  The new arrivals weren’t cute and small either!  They were rather disgusting to look at…and twice as big!  What had started out as amusing and harmless, was now ugly and destructive!  You could hear them in the garage chewing everything to shreds.  They were too smart for the traps we had set, and they were multiplying quickly.  It was time for more aggressive measures…it was time for D-Con!

I could still see that tiny baby mouse staring at me with his cute little whiskers and un-blinking black eyes.  I felt really bad that I was going to have to end his stay…but he wasn’t alone in the garage anymore.  He’d brought his big, ugly friends with him, and they were destroying everything we had.

Sin is kind of like that small, insignificant mouse.  At first, it seems harmless…tiny.  You think to yourself, it’s just small…it really isn’t THAT bad; besides, my heart is big, and there’s plenty of room for it.  It won’t get in the way or be a bother.  But, somehow, it doesn’t stay small, and it NEVER stays alone!  What once seemed cute and harmless, in time, becomes ugly and destructive.  If you try to rid yourself of it on your own without the help of the Holy Spirit, you’ll find you won’t get rid of much.  Self reformation, without Jesus, is always unsuccessful!  The help of God is the only cure to rid you of these pesky critters!  It is life to the Christian, and death to the ‘cute’ little sin lurking in the dark corners of your heart.

Is there a tiny little mouse hiding somewhere in your heart?  Don’t wait until he invites his ‘not so tiny friends’ over.  Call on Jesus now, and save yourself from a lot of destruction and ugliness!

By:  Anita Mondragon

LOVE

And now abides faith, hope, love, these three: but the greatest of these is LOVE.  1 Corinthians 13:13

Love flows through my veins

Like blood…

Thick and warm,

Constantly

Circulating through my heart…

Keeping me alive.

By: Galyn Pfau

HOME AND FAMILY

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.  Proverbs 4:23

Others may hide behind the curtain of life, timidly cringing at what tomorrow may bring.  Upon seeing a distant glimpse of what God may bring tomorrow, they shirk and shrink, and only reluctantly come out to take on the “adventure” presented to them.  But come they must, and when they do, they try not to feel the reality that they are in; so their feelings are masked, and we see a stoic and silent husband, a brutally fierce mother cuffing or scolding for not behaving properly at the proper time, a giggling daughter.  All miss out on the whole experience.

But, I want to feel the pang of a sentimental moment…the sting of a tear dropped from my eye; as well as the beaming sunny times.  I want to experience it all to the fullest, never masking the tender moment with a reprimand to the youngest child or a joke to another.

By: Anna Leavitt

Anna Leavitt is the Worship Team Coordinator at The Gathering in Denver

Anna Leavitt is the Worship Team Coordinator at The Gathering in Denver

UNTITLED

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  Psalm 18:2

Lord, you wake my soul early in the morning; and in the evening, You hear me when I pray.  Your love and kindness is great, and will never leave me!  I will exalt You always.  I cry out to my God who does wondrous things and I know that when Your enemies come, Your glory will shine so amazingly bright; so I put my trust in YOU forever.

By: Nicole Shapiro

STORYBOOK JESUS

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

You’ve heard the Bible stories, since you were but a child

of lions, whales, and boats so large it made your mind run wild;

but, stories and nursery rhymes of things so long ago,

can seem impossible to trust when you’re tossed to and fro.

But Storybook Jesus lives, and He wants you all to know,

when you call His name, He’ll be right there,

through your storm…where ‘ere you go.

Daniel in the lions den, and a giant brought so low,

can seem so unbelievable, as Bible stories go.

Sampson, and his enemies, and Jericho’s great walls,

can sometimes cause your heart to fail,

and countenance to fall.

These doubts will keep you from your peace,

but know this all in all, Storybook Jesus will not fail

to be there when you call!

Storybook Jesus, my heart calls out to you…

You’re not just a fable…I know you to be true;

you’re not just a story, for you live here in my heart,

you walk beside me day by day,

in me, your love impart.

The biggest miracle of all…

is that you loved someone like me!

The greatest story ever told:

YOU died to set me free!

By:  Mike Mondragon

A JAZZ MUSICIAN IMPROVISES ON PRAYER

The Lord is nigh to them who are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

We can always be sure the Lord is near us as we suffer and go through dark times.  He longs to comfort us, and we can be sure of His salvation when we turn to Him with sorrow and Godly repentance.

By: Terry Shapiro

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a_love_supreme

I think God invented jazz.  Jazz is spontaneous, creative, soulful, and raw.  I think our prayers should be like that…from the heart, from the core or our being; poured out from our circumstances, and yet deeper, more profound than our spoken language can reveal.  Soul to soul.  Jazz can be abstract yet deeply profound.  Truth and freedom of expression beyond the print.  That’s good Jazz.

Most of the music we hear is written down, composed, conducted, recorded, sampled, looped, produced, rehearsed; but good jazz like good prayer is created on the spot…not rehearsed, not read from a book or repeated each Saturday night or Sunday morning the same old way each time.  You don’t need a conductor to create good jazz.  You don’t need sheet music.  You just lay it all out there with respect and dignity for the art.  There is nothing worse in jazz or worship than relying on comfortable clichés , memorized or stolen licks, or even worse, a flippant disrespect for the audience.

The sophisticated jazz crowd is not interested in hearing how well you can imitate Armstrong, Coltrane, Bird, or Miles; or even how great you can play, how high, how fast, how loud.  No!  We want to hear YOU!  You interpreting your deepest longings, and experiences.  Where your pride and humility, successes and failures, victories and defeats, your very reason for being is visible.

I think that is what prayer should be.  When Jesus prayed in the garden, the Bible says, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

Deep, profound, excruciatingly personal…raw and honest.  That’s what great jazz is.  Not words, thoughts or feelings of someone else, but YOU.

I pray that we all would commune with God on the deepest of personal levels.  Profound, courageous, open and honest, with respect and dignity to our audience of one…the Creator of the Universe, Our Father, Our Lord, Our Savior, Our Friend.

Take a chorus!

By: Pastor Danny Leavitt

Check out Danny “Cry Me A River” on Post Cards from Tanzania

 

FORGET THE MIRROR!

James 1:23-25

“For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like the man beholding his face in a mirror: for he beholds himself, and goes his way and right away forgets what manner of man he was.  But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed indeed.”

When we have an encounter with the truth of God’s Word, we should examine ourselves according to that revelation.  We ought to ask God to show us what we need to do according to that word.  How should we act?  What changes should we make?  How is God speaking to us, and what is HE requiring of us?

By: Terry Shapiro

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Mirrors are amazing things!  They reflect only what they see…beauty, or flaws.  When we look into them, we all hope they will show only our best qualities; but, alas, our imperfections cannot be hidden.  The mirror reflects the good, and the bad.  Our outfit looks sloppy, we’ve put on some weight, our posture shows rounded shoulders, and boy!…talk about a BAD hair day!

Sometimes when we peer into the glass, we wonder who is looking back at us.  We see wrinkles, bad skin, missing teeth, and gray hairs.  What a disappointment this can be!

Yes, mirror- gazing can cause much frustration.  That’s because we are viewing our temporal body.  It decays everyday; but God looks at the inner man.  If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior,” we are a new creation.  Old things have passed away, and all things are made new.”  Our identity is in the character of God…not in ourselves.  What we see in the mirror, is only this clay house we live in here on earth.

The world tell us through commercials and advertising that if we use a certain product, or dress in designer clothes, we will look just like the model we see in the picture, and we will be successful in life.  NOT SO!  How man of us have been persuaded to buy a pair of jeans, or a dress that was at least two sizes too small, just because the sales person told us how great we looked?

We need to realize that our identity is not in how successful we are, or what we look like to others, but what we look like to God when he sees our heart.  God says, “As a man thinks in his heart…so he is.”

So…forget the mirror!  We should strive to mirror the image of God in our lives.  He sees our spirit that has been washed clean in the blood of His Son, Jesus.  When He sees that, we are beautiful to Him!  What more could matter?

By: Anita Mondragon