IT’S STILL PRETTY BEAUTIFUL! June 30, 2015

“But as it is written:  Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9

I thank the Lord for the gift of life everyday in prayer.  Not that life itself is the end-all; no, that is reserved for eternity with the one who loved me and you and died for us.  That’s the real goal:  to be with Him…forever.

But one aspect of worship that I always include in my prayers has to do with God revealing Himself to us.  He didn’t have to you know.  He is the sovereign Lord and can act however He chooses.  But He has done so through His Word, the Bible, through the life of His own Son, and through His incredible creation.

The Bible is clear that we are sinners, but it is equally clear that the whole world suffers from that sin.  Romans 8:19-23 speaks of the creation “waiting with anxious longing”, and that it “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth…”  So what’s that to do with my prayer?

As I pray and thank God for revealing Himself, I always thank Him for the awesome beauty, complexity, and sophistication of the world.  Even a creation that is dimly seen…and marred and scarred by the effects of our fallen state as sinners…is still pretty beautiful!  As I watched the recent shimmering displays of the Aurora Borealis, or viewed the sun setting over the mountains in brilliant colors of gold, greens, reds, and orange beneath a sheath of storm clouds that accompanied our recent weather, I know that none of that just evolved.  In fact, why would it?  There is no evolutionary need for an Aurora, or even a colorful sunset.  No, these colors of the sunset, and that phenomenon of the Aurora were placed there by a brilliant God who has an appreciation for beauty, and who has the awesome power to put that beauty on display in all the heavens.  And I want to thank Him for doing so!

A corollary to God’s revelation of Himself through His created order is this:  it shuts away any of my doubts (placed in my mind by sin) about the existence of God.  Is there really a God?…Does He care about me?  I guess I choose to believe that God puts those colors in the skies to remind me that, 1) He’s very much there and in control of His creation. And, 2) He wants me to see the beauty that He loves.  Both of those points are transferable to every person He has created and who choses to believe.

In concluding my prayers, it always occurs to me that, as beautiful as this creation is, it has to pale before what the place where HE dwells, must be like: Heaven.  If a sin-marred creation can look this awe-inspiring, I can hardly imagine what Heaven must be like!  When the time is right…when all the days of my life are fulfilled, I will get that opportunity, and it will be glorious!  I CAN HARDLY WAIT!

By: Lee Pierce

BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE!!! June 29, 2015

“Who can find  a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies.”  Proverbs 31:10

Am I the only mom alive that questions things of motherhood?  I doubt it!

Do you ever think or feel that your efforts are futile or in vain?

I know…you don’t question these things when your children are doing what you taught them…to be mannerly, hard-working, generous, kind, law-abiding, considerate…in other words, contributing to society in a productive way.  But, what about those ‘other’ times?

My questions come when I am exhausted from being the teacher, the care-giver, the friend, the confidant, the counselor, the “Magician” – short for:  “Just give it to mom…she’ll fix it! …She can do anything!”

I love the confidence my children, as well as my husband, place in me…thinking I’m invincible; but the truth is, at times, I’m over-whelmed!  I feel totally incompetent and unqualified to wear all the hats I must put on daily!

We have great institutions of learning where you can be educated by wise, (we hope) professors, knowledgeable in certain fields.  Degrees can be obtained after completing these studies and titles can be added to your name, such as, Bachelor of Science, Masters degree, Doctorate, etc.  You can be called a Doctor, a Lawyer, a Professor of Theology, an Engineer, a Veterinarian, and the list goes on.  Most of these studies can be completed within a few years time.  However, the most important job on the planet has no school of learning…other than the “School of Hard Knocks”, where you “learn as you go”, “learn from your mistakes”, and all those other clichés we make up to help us feel better about our failures.  AND…it’s not over ’till you die!  There is no Fall semester, no Spring Break…it’s ALL DAY…EVERY DAY!

Unfortunately, there is no certificate, degree, or title given to mothers either; even though we are Nurses, fixing “boo boo’s”, Lawyers, settling disputes between siblings, Theologians, Preachers, and Evangelists, telling our children of God and His great love and mercy towards us.  We are Domestic Engineers, Chefs, Maids, Housekeepers, Taxi drivers,  and Schedulers of important events, continually juggling our way through time.  We are Gardeners, and Veterinarians to any number of domestic pets…Cats, Rats, Dogs, Frogs…you name it.  We are Doctors on call; in the wee hours of the morning, no job is too big or too small.  From coughs, to fevers, dirty diapers, and vomit…we can fix anything…WE ARE MOM!

The only title we have, besides our given name is:  Mother, Mom, Mama, or Mommy.

But the Bible declares that a virtuous woman is to be desired far above rubies!

Ladies…don’t let the long days and nights of Motherhood exhaust you, or make you feel less because you don’t have a “proper” education, certificate, or degree.  Don’t get it twisted!  We ARE priceless, and the institution of the home and family is of the utmost importance and priority in God’s mind!  Go to HIM for guidance, for He is the most knowledgeable of all!

Our degree of satisfaction, our certificate of a job well done, will come when our children are found standing next to us in Heaven!

Being a mom…it’s the greatest career in the world!  A career where you can definitely “Be all you can be” … and them some! LOL!

By: Anita Mondragon June 2015

Sermon notes June 28, 2015 “Peace Amidst the Conflict” by Michael Mondragon

Peace Amidst the Conflict

guy with Bible

What Jesus Said:

Matthew 5:9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The best place to start is with the Word. When we struggle with anxiety we should seek out the Word which provides the peace which surpasses all understanding.

John 16:33 “ I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

What you can DO:

These are real life tangible things that you can do to increase your peace. Take one or two of these every day and start applying them in your life. Watch and behold how the Peace of God starts taking hold in your life.:

  • Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  • Serving Christ

Romans 14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.

  • Love

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

·       Obedience

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

·       Trust

Isaiah 12:2  “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

·       Faith

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

This is not the peace that the world gives. This is the peace that Jesus himself leaves us.

 

 What is Jesus saying when He says “ I leave you peace?”

 

In the New Testament, the primary Greek word for “peace” is eirene, and it basically means rest and tranquility. Peace in the New Testament is the advent (Coming) of Jesus Christ, as announced by the angels in Luke 2:14 (“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased”.

 

 Isaiah predicted the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and He is called the Lord of peace in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way.” The Lord be with you all.

 

 So it’s Through Jesus’ work of justification (Dying for our sins) that we can have peace and be presented to God, that peace will keep our hearts and minds secure (Philippians 4:7 “ and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

He not only came to leave us peace, but commands us to seek peace.

 

Psalm 34:14 “Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” 

 

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”.

Let peace take precedence in your heart today. We as believers have an obligation to “let the peace of God rule” in our hearts”

Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. To which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

 

This world will continue to have wars and conflicts until Jesus comes and makes all things new, But God will give His peace to those who trust him. May the peace of God live and be with you.

John 16.33

A LITTLE WHILE… June 26, 2015

“We have around us many people whose lives tell us what faith means.  So let us run the race that is before us and never give up.  We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.  Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.”  Hebrews 12:1-2a

I just inherited a large box of my mom’s books from my brother.  In this huge assortment, I ran across a book of poetry by a Missionary’s wife.  This one really spoke to my heart, so I would like to share with all of you.  Hope you enjoy it! -Anita

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A little while our warfare will be over,

A little while the storms forever past;

A little while and darkness will be ended,

The veil removed, we’ll see His face at last.

A little while our pilgrimage all ended,

A little while the home lights we shall see;

A little while His smile will rest upon us,

And we shall ever in His likeness be.

By:  Olga J. Weiss

Kingdom Logic

When we think of success today we think of the rich and famous. I don’t think we are going to see a TV show any time soon about the “Lives of the Honest and Generous” or “Living with Integrity”. No, those wouldn’t sell in our sex and violence loving Hollywood culture. What the world calls success is very different than what God calls success. In fact when you get right down to it I can’t think of one really successful rich and famous person whom I actually admire on a spritual level. Often times our culture exalts the worst in people. In pop music I am saddened by the way women singers think that trashier is better. The problem is that trash sells in our culture.

The Right Stuff

I am always amazed when I think about the King of Kings riding into town on a donkey. There is an irony there that topples our notions of success. The King of Kings crowned not with the crown jewels but with a crown of thorns tells me that the greatest King of all cares so much for me, that he would do anything for me. That is a real leader!  This Kingdom of God logic doesn’t make sense until you dig a little deeper into the real aspects of character that matter.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

GOD OUR REFUGE…June 24, 2015

“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him:  God is a refuge for us.”  Psalms 62:8

We have a God who longs to hear us, to relate to us, and to communicate with us.  We can come confidently to Him, and pour out our heart before Him…knowing He is ALWAYS there to hear us!

By:  Terry Shapiro

AT ALL TIMES! June 23, 2015

“I will bless the Lord at ALL times:  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Psalms 34:1

The first thing I need to do in the morning when I get up, is to set my  mind in the right direction.  I need to tell myself that today is going to be a great day, because God is guiding and directing my steps!

His love is surrounding me; goodness and mercy are following me, and I look forward to today!  I must always start my day with faith, and go out anticipating good things.

After all…I HAVE GOD BY MY SIDE!

By:  Nicole Shapiro

JUST FOR ME! June 22, 2015

“When we were unable to help ourselves, at the moment of our need, Christ died for us, although we were living against God…God shows his GREAT LOVE for us in this way:  CHRIST DIED FOR US WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS.”         Romans 5:6,8

Yesterday was Fathers Day…the day we celebrate our dads and honor them in a particular way.

One day, I was thinking about how much Jesus loves me.  I came to the realization that if I had been the ONLY person in this world that needed salvation…HE would have died…just for ME!  The revelation of this fact, was overwhelming!

So, this poem is in honor of God MY Father, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit He sends to comfort me each day.

Thank you Lord for being my Daddy! -anita

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There was no crown for Jesus made

Of silver, or of gold;

He was but a lowly shepherd

To His flock and fold.

But He wore a crown upon His brow,

It was a crown of thorns;

A crown that ripped…and tore…

And I’M the one who gave to Him, that awful crown He wore!

He didn’t sit high upon a throne,

And reign in majesty;

But, He hung upon a cruel cross

For all the world to see.

He suffered UNTOLD agony…

And I’M the one He did it for…He did it just for ME!

He fixed His eyes upon the throng

That stood around His cross…

And there He saw ME standing…

All alone, and lost!

I caught His gaze, and felt His love,

And I KNEW…it was just for ME

That He chose to suffer, and bleed, and die

Upon that cruel tree!

No robe of scarlet did He wear…

But He left Himself naked, so that I could stare,

And see the beating He took in MY place…

How they tore out His beard, and marred His face!

The second time I caught His gaze,

It said, “I DO forgive! …

My blood that’s spilled,

Is YOUR ransom paid…I’ll die, so YOU can live!”

Then He looked towards Heaven, and said three words:

“It is finished!” …that’s what His Father heard;

But when I looked, and saw Him there…

With His arms stretched open wide…

I heard Him say, “I love YOU this much!”

Then He closed His eyes, and He died.

This, I will NEVER forget…

This picture, I’ll always see;

For in my heart, I KNOW for sure…

He did it…JUST FOR ME!

By:  Anita Mondragon May 2005

Message Notes for June 21, 2015 “Man Up”

How do you,

Waste your time?

Spend your time?

Invest your time?

Psalm 103:13 NIV

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

5  WAYS TO MAN UP

  1. Solid Grounds

Proverbs 24:3 (AMP)

Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house, a life, a home, a family built, and by understanding it is established on a sound and good foundation.

Proverbs 14:26  (TLB)

Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security.

Psalms 62:2 NIV

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Isaiah 26:4 NIV

Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.

1 Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Samuel 2:2

There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

Hebrews 11:1 MSG

11 1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

  1. Focus your life and conversations on what really matters

Galatians 5:4-6 MSG

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 TLB

13 If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. 3 If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.

Luke 9:48 TLB

“Anyone who takes care of a little child like this is caring for me! And whoever cares for me is caring for God who sent me. Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

God is love, love remains, love is the greatest

  1. Hang with the Right Crowd

1 Corinthians 15:33 GNT

Do not be fooled. “Bad companions ruin good character.”

Proverbs 14:7 MSG

Escape quickly from the company of fools; they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words.

Proverbs 2:20 MSG

join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.

  1. Commit to The Cause

Matthew 20:26 (VOICE)

This is the Kingdom’s logic: whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant.

1 John 2:17 TLB

And this world is fading away, and these evil, forbidden things will go with it, but whoever keeps doing the will of God will live forever.

Colossians 3:23 NLV

Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men.

  1. Ride off the Trail

Exodus 23:2 (VOICE)

Even if the majority of people are doing evil, do not follow them.

Isaiah 32:8The Voice (VOICE)

By contrast, those who are noble have noble intentions,

and they stand confidently by their honorable words and actions.

1 Peter 2:21 NIV

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

SAVE OUR SHIP! June 20, 2015

Read:  Revelations 3:15-17.  This is what the Lord had to say to the church at Laodicea.  God’s view of apathy is explained very well in these verses…to be blunt…it makes Him want to vomit!

Edmund Burke said:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing!”

That said, I give you this illustration I read recently.

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Off the Isthmus of Platitude on the Apathetic Sea, a ship of state was slowly but surely sinking into oblivion.

On board, most of the passengers and crew were engaged in basking as usual.  As to the immediate likelihood of drowning, there were various degrees of awareness.  There were also two schools of thought on the subject.  One small group insisted not only that the ship was sinking, but that this was truly bad.  Another small group insisted that it was perfectly all right for the ship to sink; in fact, that progressive and forward-looking passengers would help it to do so.  The waves by which the ship was being submerged were simply the “waves of the future.”

Members of this latter group were quietly but systematically boring holes in the bottom of the boat to speed up and ensure the sinking.  All around this conspiratorial group was a much larger and noisier band, defending the actions of these borers from within, by many falsehoods and sophistries.  Their most persistent explanations were that: (1) the conspirators were not really damaging the ship but improving its chances because the bored holes were to allow the water already in the ship to flow out; and (2) “What difference did it make, because a little drowning never hurt anybody anyway.”

Near the bow of the ship another small band was praying, asking for Divine intervention…a very worthwhile effort.  But right within their midst one of the conspirators was drilling happily away, and the praying band DID NOTHING to stop him.

In a protected and comfortable area, there was another group.  This one a conglomeration of theorists.  They were engaged, off and on, in a heated debate as to the sociological feasibility and economic wisdom of boring holes in the bottom of a ship.  Eventually each discussion ended in agreement that the procedure was unsound, and the group passed a resolution to that effect for the ship’s paper.  In between these discussions they took up other serious academic matters, such as the history of hole-boring in the navies in the past.

Up in the rigging there was a sizable number of people trying to be completely above it all.  They were expectantly waiting for a political zephyr to blow them ashore, or to blow the ship ashore, before it sank.  Unfortunately, all of the political winds were blowing towards the deep-sea, and there was no land in sight.

The Captain and most of the ship’s officers were busily writing and delivering notes to the conspirators, offering to lend them larger drills to bore bigger holes, so that they could let all of this horrible water out of the ship that much faster.

Right in the middle of the boat there was a small group of dedicated passengers trying to prevent the sinking.  Some of this group were frantically manning the pumps.  Some were plugging up holes a fast as they could, and getting terribly splashed and smeared while doing so.  Some were trying to remove the conspirators from the ship’s bottom to the brig.  But, the efforts of all these people were handicapped by their lack of numbers and constantly hampered by the sleeping bodies they had to jump across.  Occasionally some of these sleeping passengers would open one eye and say:  “I know I really should help, but I don’t like your methods.”

The funniest and yet the most pathetic sight, however, was of that large number of people who understood that the ship was sinking, who were already in the sea, and who, between gulping gasps of air as they went down for the third time, kept shouting:  “I can do more good on the outside!”

DON’T LOOK NOW MY FRIEND, BUT YOUR FEET ARE WET!

By:  H. L. Richardson