I CAN’T RUN AWAY FROM GOD; I MUST OWN MY SINS…September 19, 2015

1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just  and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

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Ezra’s prayer:  Ezra 9:6  “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to You, my God, because our sins [my sin] are higher than our heads [my head] and our guilt [my guilt] has reached to the heavens.”

Sometimes, (actually often) I sin so badly, so blatantly that I am ashamed to face God in my prayers. I know I’ve done wrong and I feel guilt (which is a good thing) and I dread talking to Him about how miserably I’ve failed Him again (and again and again).

Down deep inside, I really want to suspend praying for a few days and let the whole thing blow over, let these feelings dissipate; Somehow, maybe He’ll forget what I did! Maybe I can clean up my act for a few days, do some “good” things, and then I’ll look better to Him once again.

But for my sake (and maybe even for His sake) I need to address this with Him… and right now. Even if it were possible for my Lord to forget and overlook what I’ve done and move on, which of course it isn’t possible, I can’t seem to set my sins aside, to push them out of my mind. I know what a sin-failure I am. How I miss the mark all the time; And I hate that feeling of unrepentant sin hanging over my head. I sort of feel unclean or un-whole. And the longer I avoid dealing with it—confessing it—to Him, the more distracted and unsettled I feel and the worse the whole thing gets.  I’m compounding the problem by sweeping it under the rug so to speak, and making God out to be a liar (see 1 John 1:9 above) which is an egregious sin all on its own!

It’s honestly refreshing and uplifting to get the burden off my shoulders. I still feel badly about asking Him to forgive me yet once again (and often for the same sins, over and over), but I have to trust that He will do so. To me, that’s the very essence of what faith is all about. I have to believe what He has said, what He claims, what He has promised, or my faith is a joke and unfounded. So, I trudge back to my prayer time, head hung low, sometimes in tears, and softly ask Him to cleanse me once again.

Oh, Lord, how can You ever possibly love me? I’m such a jerk sometimes!

At times, my sins come so easily. But again, it comes down to faith. I have to believe that He knew on that cross every single one of my sins—every single time I would let Him down…fail Him…hurt Him with my sin—and yet He loved me enough to stay on that cross…because He IS God.

If I had been in His place, with the power to come down from that cross, in my human weakness… I know I would have. But He didn’t, because He IS God.

I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts me so strongly when I sin.

I want Him to. I need Him to. And I’m thankful that He does!

WHAT A GOD OF GRACE!

By:  Lee Pierce

jesus paid it all

AN ANCIENT MESSAGE…September 18, 2015

“Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:8,13

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In my twenties I worked at a residential … treatment home for children ages 6-12 who were emotionally disturbed because of severe abuse. It had all the downsides of being an institution; that slight ammonia smell, linoleum floors everywhere except the living room, a window to pick up your food and to put your empty plates back after meals.

However there were ways to soften that institutional feel. We had a little club and read books to the kids. Miss Piggle-Wiggle served peppermint tea, so we had peppermint tea, for girls who had been especially good; pink sponge curlers, soft robes, fuzzy slippers snuggling with staff and staying up very late to watch a movie, little notes hurriedly written on strips of notebook paper (I love your smile, or you make me laugh) still clutched in their hands an hour later.

Friday was party night. Many children had compassionate and brave relatives that took them for the weekend but some had to stay all the time. Children have a stage in life where they love corny, make no sense jokes. Before I arrived on the scene I assume some beleaguered staff member made a rule that corny jokes were only to be told on Friday nights, party night and at no other time. On one of these party nights we went to my house and laid blankets in the backyard and looked up at the stars and told corny jokes.

The children’s thoughts began to rise above the earth and they started asking questions about God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell and angels. I answered their questions according to the regulations my supervisor set forth. Even so their excitement, curiosity and persistence to know more about Jesus became too much for the powers that be and I was let go. As per protocol every staff member who left for any reason had a goodbye session. Staff, children, and I sat in a circle between the couches in the living room with a single Kleenex box in the middle. We choked and sobbed our goodbyes. And then I was gone. The message? It’s an ancient message really; no matter the length of time you have with a person or how simple your acts of love: pink sponge curlers, peppermint tea, little notes on torn scraps of paper, looking at the stars; The message is… you make a difference, you matter, love never fails.

By:  Sherrie Evans

THE KNOT PRAYER… September 17, 2015

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:14

If you are a Facebook fan, you have probably already seen the following; but for the rest of you…I share this prayer. -anita

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Dear God,

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart, and my life.

Remove the have not, the cannots, and the do nots.

Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots, that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, would nots, and should nots, that obstruct my life.

And most of all dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart, and my life, all of the “am nots”, that I have allowed to hold me back.  Especially the thought that I am not good enough.  Amen!

By:  Author Unknown

LOST….September 16, 2015

Matt. 12.8

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

In 2005, a friend of mine challenged me to write poetry. Up to that time, I had only written stories for my grandchildren.  Her and I argued back and forth as to my abilities to write something other than children’s stories.  That very night, God came to me and woke me from a dead sleep.  He said: “Get up…and write this NOW!”  I wrote the following on the back of an envelope, using only a night-light. -anita

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Lost?  I’m not lost…not lost in your peace; although I want to be…lost like a lamp in the noonday sun…or maybe a raindrop lost in the sea.

I struggle with life from day-to-day, trying to do things my own way.  Even though I hear folks say and say… “Jesus has peace…and He just gives it away!”

“He doesn’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, because 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 on 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 in my ear…

This voice says… “You’re lost…YOU’RE LOST!!!! Then things become so unclear, and momentarily I listen…momentarily I fear.

But then, the name of Jesus, shines in my head bright as day, and I turn with boldness, and to this voice I say…

“Lost?   HUMPH!  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 February 2005

found

WHERE ARE YOU? …September 15, 2015

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.…”  1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

As I read the following poem, I could sense the hopelessness and pain of this person left behind.  We who KNOW Jesus as our Savior, have the blessed assurance, that we WILL see our loved ones again on the other side…What a glorious reunion! -anita

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Are you in the cloud above my head?

You are dead they said.

I wept.

Where are you?

Are you on a mountain high

Trying to reach the sky?

Where are you?

I looked the whole world round

You were never found.

Where are you?

Are you out on the sea

Maybe looking for me?

I cried.

Where are you?

I asked the Lord above and told

Him of my love.

He told me not to hide my love

But look inside me.

I wept and searched my heart.

I found you.

By:  Author Unknown

ALWAYS THERE…September 14, 2015

“… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

This is part of my testimony. -anita

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HE was always right there…

Right next to her…

Although, she didn’t see it.

She was too busy clawing the sand…

While trying to climb out of the pit.

She’d write in her journals of morbid things…

Of sadness, despair, and death;

And all the while, HE stood right there…right next to her,

Yet, she never felt HIS breath.

She’d write, “I’m alone, with not one to love, and

I’m sure that no one loves me…”

Then she’d look in the mirror, and ask herself,

“How could all of this be?”

“I’m not a bad person…I have a good heart.

I like to help people, …I have love to impart;

But, I’m always alone, and I feel tired and old.

I want to share something with somebody…

I want someone to hold!”

Then, she’d pray for the courage to do herself in…

But something always stopped her…

It must have been HIM!

When she felt pushed into the corner,

Her back up against the wall…

Ready to die and just end it all…

She’d hear HIS faint voice,

Like a light, slashing through the fog in her mind.

She’d hear that call…so quiet…so kind.

And thus she survived for thirty-nine years…

Smiles one day, and the next day tears.

Now, she can hardly remember those days;

They seem like a blur…a foggy haze.

Until she reads a book one day,

Of a girl with an apartment, overlooking the bay.

This girl wasn’t on welfare, a prostitute, or drug addict…

She never acted crazy, went to jail…or was erratic.

NO!  She went to the gym, and hosted parties…

She was respected!

But her diary revealed things,

No one ever had suspected.

She was jealous, she was lonely…

Felt unwanted, and abandoned.

Had many lovers, but little love…

Felt like a castaway, alone on an island.

“Who is going to love me?”  she wrote in her diary.

“I want to cry and sleep forever…”

Her message was as clear as could be!

Then one day, her body died from wounds caused by a knife…

But her heart had died, long before that day

She decided to take her own life!

Still…HE’D been there…right by her side…

But she, like me, didn’t see it.

That quicksand of loneliness, drug her

Down…down…down…deep into the pit!

As she wrote in her diary of despair and death,

HE stood right there…right next to her…

But she never felt HIS breath!

And at the end, when she took that knife,

And held it tight in her hand…

HE called to her and showed her HIS wounds…

But she didn’t understand,

That HE’D always loved her…

Loved her so much that HE,

Had died for her, long before she was born,

Just to set her spirit free.

So, on that day, when she suddenly died…

HE stood beside her, and HE wept, and HE cried!

For long ago, on that cruel tree,

HE poured out HIS love, for you, and for me;

But some people like her, never do see…

So they die alone…in their agony,

While HE cries, and HE weeps for Calvary!

I’m glad for the day that I came to see

Everything HE had done for me!

While having thoughts of suicide…

HE stood right there…right by my side!

Now, years later, while reading that book,

It finally occurred to me…

That if I hadn’t heard HIS kind, soft voice…

That girl I was reading about…could have been ME!

By:  Anita Mondragon October 2005

Sermon Notes for Sept. 13 2015 “Get Ready”

GET READY

Matthew 24:44  (NLT)

You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

1 Thessalonians 5 (NLT)

5 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. 7 Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. 8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

GET READY

  1. GET SAVED

1 Peter 1:8-9 (NLT)

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

  1. READ THE BIBLE

2 Timothy 2:15  (TLB)

Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.” Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what his Word says and means.

  1. TALK TO GOD

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

Pray without ceasing.

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Ezekiel 11:19 (VOICE)

I will give them a new will—an undivided heart—and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh.

  1. GET BAPTIZED

Acts 2:41 (NLT)

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

  1. SUROUND YOURSELF WITH JESUS PEOPLE

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLV)

Do not let anyone fool you. Bad people can make those who want to live good become bad.
Psalm 1:1New Life Version (NLV)

The Difference between Good and Sinful People

1 Happy is the man who does not walk in the way sinful men tell him to, or stand in the path of sinners, or sit with those who laugh at the truth.

Psalm 1:1 (MSG)

How well God must like you—

you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,

you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,

you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

  1. BE HELPFUL

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Luke 6:31 (NLT)

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

GET READY

“JUST THINKING…” September 12, 2015

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalms 139:23,24

I share the following poem with you from one of my mom’s books. -anita

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The thoughts I think may seem my own,

But unleashed by my lips, to the wind are sown.

Some thoughts I think I long to say,

But to loose them from my heart, I find no easy way.

When they well up inside, they I seem to hide,

Lest others mistake the thoughts I spake,

And taking them, twist them, making hearts to break.

Dear Lord, make my thoughts all they ought to be.

And help me dear Lord, that others may see,

What will lift up, and bless, ever pointing them to Thee.

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“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”  Psalms 19:14

By: Joyce E. Watke

SOPHIA AND THE BLUE RIBBON…September 11, 2015

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.”Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45

My dad used many illustrations in his sermons; the following story was based on one of these illustrations, and was written for my grandchildren in a way that they could understand. -anita

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“You are one beaoootiful pig Sophia!” said farmer Grey with a whistle.  Then he scratched his head and chuckled, “Well…as far as pigs go that is…”

Farmer Grey had been working with Sophia for quite some time now.  He was going to enter her into the competition at the State Fair.  She was the right weight now, and he bathed her everyday so that her hide was a pretty pink.  He just knew that she would win this year!  She had to.  He’d seen the other contestants, and they were no match for his Sophia!

The State Fair!  Sophia was almost as excited as farmer Grey!  Of course, the other pigs in the pen weren’t too happy with Sophia.  She had been getting all of the attention!  It just didn’t seem fair.  Besides, why did farm Grey go to all of the trouble to give Sophia a bath everyday?  Every night that he’d put her back in the pen, she’d just go back to the mud hole and jump in with the others…it seemed rather pointless!

The State Fair was only two days away now.  Farmer Grey’s wife was busy making jam and bread so that she could enter her own contests.  She made the best bread and jam in the county!  Farmer Grey was sure that he and his wife would come home with three blue ribbons!  They were both SO excited!

The morning of the fair was finally here.  There was much excitement in the house, with getting last-minute things done.  Finally, it was time!  Sophia was loaded into the truck and off they all went.

Everyone that had entries was buzzing about like busy little bees, making sure that they were ready when the time for judging came.

Farmer Grey gave Sophia her bath only minutes before the judge came by.  He sprayed her with some orange blossom perfume, and tied a big red bow around her neck.  She looked like a picture out of Country Living magazine!  She was so beautiful…it actually brought tears to farmer Grey’s eyes!

“Ok…get ready Sophia!  Here comes the judge…stand real still now, and tilt your head just a wee bit this way…Now…look him straight in the eyes!” said farmer Grey as he posed his beloved Sophia.  It was amazing!  Sophia didn’t move a muscle.  She stood as still as a statue and looked at the judge.

The judge was so impressed at Sophia’s good manners, not to mention her pink hide!  It was a sight to see!  “This is it!” he said.  “I’ve found my blue ribbon winner!”  And with this, he pinned the blue ribbon on Sophia’s red bow.  Farmer Grey, the judge, and Sophia posed for many pictures.  It was going to be front-page news in this small farming community.

When the day finally came to an end, farmer Grey and his wife loaded Sophia into the truck, and headed home.  Mrs. Grey had won the contest for the best bread, and the best jam!  So, they did go home with three blue ribbons after all!

Sophia still had the big red bow tied around her neck, and the blue ribbon was still pinned on it.  Farmer grey opened the back of the trailer, and helped Sophia out.  He was standing there, admiring her, when he saw her lift her nose in the air and start sniffing.  All of a sudden, without any warning, she took off at a dead run towards the directions of the pen.  A look of panic came over farmer Grey’s face as he realized the gate to the pen was still open!

Farmer Grey stood there for a moment with disbelieving eyes.  “She’s running for the mud hole!” he shouted to his wife who was just getting out of the truck.  As they both ran after her, Mrs. Grey yelled, “She’s still wearing the blue ribbon!”  They both looked at each other with horror as they realized what was about to happen…

It was too late!  Sophia took a nosedive straight into the middle of that mud hole.  She went clear to the bottom and you could see mud bubbles come to the surface.  Pretty soon, her head came out, and it could almost be sworn upon, that she had a smile on her face!  She was so happy to be back in that swill and wallow!  Needless to say, her hide was no longer pink, and the prize winning ribbon was no longer blue; and the red bow…well, that was an absolute mess!

Farmer Grey looked at his wife and shook his head.  “I cleaned her all up on the outside, but she still had that pig nature on the inside!  Too bad I wasn’t able to slip the nature of a lamb inside of her first, and then cleaned her all up.  If I could have done that, she would never have gone running back to that slop hole!”

This is how it is with us humans.  We have the sin nature in us.  We can try to clean ourselves up; stop doing bad things, and try to do good things, but if we do it all on our own without the help of Jesus and His salvation, sooner or later, we will just go back to the mud hole of sin and wallow in it’s swill and slop.  That’s because our inner nature hasn’t changed.  We need to call on THE LAMB OF GOD, JESUS, to come and live inside of us.  When He moves in, we won’t want to go near the mud hole of sin…much less, wallow in it!

WHICH NATURE LIVES INSIDE OF YOU?

By:  Anita Mondragon September 2000

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB…September 10, 2015

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

Mike saw this on Facebook, so we thought we’d pass it on!

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Mary had a little Lamb,

His fleece was white as snow;

And everywhere that Mary went,

The Lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school each day

‘Twasn’t then against the rule

He made the children laugh and play

To have a Lamb at school.

And then the rules all changed one day,

Illegal it became,

To bring the Lamb of God to school,

Or even speak His name.

Everyday, got worse and worse,

And days turned into years.

Instead of hearing children laugh,

We heard gunshots and tears.

What must we do to stop the crime,

That’s in our schools today?

Let’s let the Lamb come back to school,

And teach our kids to pray!

IF YOU AGREE, PLEASE PASS IT ON!

By:  Author Unknown