BEING A Character, and HAVING Character…what’s the difference?

Do you ever wonder ‘Why?’ some folks cross your path in this life?  I’ve asked myself AND God this question many times…”Why did I ever have to meet _____________? ” (you fill in the blank)  “There is nothing, that I can see in our brief encounter that in any way seems beneficial to me!”

Then I hear God whisper, “You can learn something from everyone I place in your life!  You meeting them was not a coincidence!  You can learn from them, and they can learn from you.  From some, you will learn how you should be…and from the rest, you’ll soon realize how you should never be!”

After pondering His words, and looking back at some of my life experiences, I know He’s right!

Some of the folks I thought I would learn the most beneficial things from because they were educated, well to do, in high places of authority, well-known, etc., those folks turned out to be the people who showed me what to never become.  They were proud, arrogant, stingy, self-absorbed, snobby, unloving, and uncaring.

At the same time,  those that seemed to have little or nothing to offer because of their social status, being uneducated, simple, unrefined, and down-right poor or ‘from the wrong side of the tracks’…these folks turned out to have the most to offer me in the development of good character!  They were humble, down to earth, giving, loving, compassionate, “give you the shirt off their back” sort of people.  Kindness was their main goal in life!

Then I remember the wise words of my grandma K.  She always told me, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!  You never know what valuable information is inside of that book until you open it up…and get familiar with the author!”

She was one of those simple, uneducated farm girls with no clout…but she had character galore! And she was wise!  She was honest, truthful, humble, kind, loving, caring….  In a word, she was good.  I want to be just like her!

So….    Do you just want to be known for being a character?  Or do you want to be known for having character?  

The choice is yours…

Anita

IN THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS…

If God be for us, who can be against us? -Romans 8:31

I pulled that from my box of Promises this morning.  Then I remembered this verse….  “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed…” -Psalm 57:1

TGIF!!  It’s finally Friday!  I knowI’m not alone in this jubilation.  We are all glad when Friday finally rolls around.  It means two days off of work…and hopefully some quiet time to recuperate from the busy week.

Whatever you’re facing…give it to God, and let him handle it.

I found these little ‘blurbs’ in one of My Daily Bread booklets.  Take a look…

“God is lovingly working toward restoration and joy in and through the pain of our lives.”

“Your next crisis is your next opportunity to trust our unfailing god.”

“By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times.” 

It says in James 4:8 NLT, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you…”  That’s how you stand in the shadow of His wings…stand as close to Him as you can; then  when the fires of hell rage against you…if you’re standing close to God, His wings will protect you from all evil!

Happy Friday everyone!

Anita

A LIFE BOAT…

I posted this back in September of 2015.  Hope you don’t mind the re-post.  I read a blog post on another site called Hard Times Ministries.  The post  reminded me of my duty to tell everyone I see about Jesus.

The following poem was written from personal experience.  Jesus kept urging me to speak to this elderly man who I saw on a daily basis, on his way to the bus stop.  I unfortunately never did tell him about Jesus…and one day he stopped going to the bus.  I never saw him again.  I often think about him, and hope that someone had the courage to tell him about Jesus before it was too late.  Not telling him will forever be one of my biggest regrets!  If he doesn’t make it to heaven…his blood will be on my hands.

Share Jesus with someone today…some folks may never see tomorrow…they may never have another chance to accept Him as their Savior! -anita

*************************

 

Headed towards the bus stop,

Slowly trudging down the street,

The ball and chain he carries,

Makes him drag his weary feet.

The chains that hold him, can’t be seen…

But surely…he IS bound!

His soul is screaming…crying out…

It’s begging to be found!

He’s put within my path each day;

I’m like a life boat put to sea…

For in life’s waves, he’s tossing…drowning…

Slowly dying…wishing…waiting…hoping to be freed!

What holds me back from witnessing?

I see his future growing bleak!

Why can’t I share the Truth with him?

What stops my words?  Why can’t I speak?

My ship sails next to his

Upon this vast, dark sea of life…

My waters are so calm and clear,

While his, are full of strife!

What makes us different on this sea,

While we all sail towards eternity?

Why am I at peace,

While his ship rocks to and ‘fro?

Why can I praise…

When all he feels is death, despair, and woe?

Lord!  Give me courage…make me strong!

Let me somehow right this wrong!

Give me boldness…let me speak,

Your message of love, so pure and sweet!

Let me proclaim that wonderful name,

That turns despair into song;

For  I know he’s waited for deliverance…

So very, very long!

Remove the storm clouds Lord!

And calm his troubled sea…

Loose the chains that bind his heart,

And set his spirit free!

Use me Lord, to share your love…

For that’s why I have peace!

That’s why my praise goes up to you…

And never seems to cease!

Use me as a life boat Lord…

Upon life’s troubles seas…

Let me rescue dying souls,

And bring them unto thee!

By:  Anita Mondragon 10/15/06

life baot

A PRAYER

Here is a poem by Edwin Markham written in 1852.  The gentle Markham, dean of American poets, pleads for gentleness.  Enjoy! -Anita

*******

Teach me Father, how to go

Softly as the grasses grow;

Hush my soul to meet the shock

Of the wild world as a rock;

But my spirit, prompt with power,

Make as simple as a flower.

Let the dry heart fill its cup,

Like a poppy looking up;

Let life lightly wear her crown,

Like a poppy looking down.
Teach me, Father, how to be

Kind and patient as a tree

Joyfully the crickets coon

Under shady oak at noon;

Beetle, on his mission bent,

Tarries in that cooling tent.

Let me, also, cheer a nook,

Place for friendly bread or book-

Place where passing souls can rest

On the way and be their best.

Edwin Markham -1852

THE WAY OF DEATH

Here’s an enlightening one from Lee.  Lee and Agent X are well read, and have much insight into the history of the Scriptures.  Take a look at this….  -anita

******************************************

With God, there’s always something new under the sun! And we are such fortunate Christians in that, in our age, there are so many resources available to us from which to learn more about God, His Kingdom and His plan for us.

In my reading, I came across a document that I had never seen referenced before: the Didache or The Lord’s Teachings Through the 12 Apostles, written sometime around AD 90-95. I’d like to think I’m fairly well read on the subject of our Christian faith, but this was new to me. As I scanned through it, much of the teaching, as you might expect, is taken right from the pages of Scripture. The Didache begins with the thought that there is “a way of life and a way of death.” It then begins to describe one versus the other in various sub-topics. In the second chapter, I came across these words: “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten (infanticide).” I found this passage so relevant given some of the debate that is occurring even among some professing Christians.

In an article written by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., he discusses the anti-abortion movement and its historic context. Mohler quotes from a couple of pro-abortion advocates—including an Afro-American abortion doctor from Mississippi, Dr. Willie Parker,  who has written a book and who claims he is a born again Christian and who states categorically that “He is doing God’s work” by protecting women’s rights. Mohler later quotes NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a supporter of Dr. Parker, when Kristof states that “…Christianity’s ferocious opposition to abortion is relatively new in historical terms.” Kristof further believes that the Bible “does not explicitly discuss abortion,” and that “there’s no evidence that Christians traditionally believed that life begins at conception.”

The Bible never uses the word “abortion,” that’s true. But verses like Deut 5:17 (do not murder) is an injunction against taking a life, while Ps 139:13 “For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and another about the prophet Jeremiah in Jer 1:4-5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations,” all clearly describe a real person before birth.

And what was the early church’s position? Mohler cites early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria (women who take abortion drugs “abort at the same time their human feelings”) and Tertullian who taught explicitly against abortion (“For us, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb.”) Many others whose writings oppose abortion include Athenagorus, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine. These lead me to question whether Mr. Kristof knows much about church history and, therefore, I question whether he should be making such unsubstantiated and baseless pronouncements.

But, back to Dr. Parker for a moment. Setting aside for a moment the traditional text of the oath penned by Hippocrates that includes the words “I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy,” and subscribed to by all physicians, I thought long about how the doctor could rationalize his positions and actions. I have not read his book but did read a partial summary of it. Dr. Parker appears to be trying to especially help under-privileged minority women who often are without the means to support another child. I commend his passion but disagree mightily with his solution. I can at least intellectually understand his argument here but, as a Christian, I can’t see how he can write God out of the picture by taking a life, an action reserved for God except where He commands otherwise (such as capital punishment by the state). Cannot God overcome every life problem if we seek after Him and desire His help?

The real problem here, it seems to me, is that the abortion alternative fails to believe that God is relevant and that He can take even the most miserable circumstances and create a positive outcome. I know He can. I’ve made some awful choices in life yet God managed to turn them into great positives. But I guess you have to both believe in God and also in His ability to turn bad circumstances into good before you can elect to let that little child live. I feel so badly for women who reach a point of desperation where they believe their only choice is abortion. Likewise, I feel the same way for a doctor who believes he is helping a woman better her life circumstances by taking away the life of another. That’s the way of death.

Lee Pierce

 

ME First!!!!!

Have you ever noticed how consumed everyone is with themselves?  I had a stark reminder of that yesterday when I was on my way to a doctor appointment!  The lane of traffic I was in was abruptly cut off due to road work…so I had to move into the other lane.  Traffic was stopped, and there was a small opening between cars, so I put my turn signal on and began to move over.  The lady behind me was determined that this was NOT going to happen.  I was NOT going to get in front of her.  She hit the gas…and came flying towards my van.  She almost rammed into me!  I’m sitting there in disbelief, thinking…”for what??  Just so she could be the one in front of me??”  It just didn’t make any sense to me!  We could have both wrecked our vehicles, one of us…if not both of us could have gotten a ticket, been late to wherever we were headed….  And for what?  I looked out my window and said, “Oh come on!  Really?”  At that point…I got the one finger salute 😦

There is a “disease” invading the world today…it’s at epidemic proportions in our society!  It’s called, “ME FIRST”.  Some of the side effects to this disease are rudeness, an incompasionate detached attitude, greed, stepping on anyone and everyone to get to the top of the heap, ingratitude, believing that everyone owes us something…but we owe no one, and entitlement…to name a few.

Now, we must all admit that we have been guilty of having this “disease” from time to time.  For some of us, it is temporary-depending on the level of frustration in our current situation.  For others…it is a chronic “disease” that never seems to go away.

When we think we will benefit…we run to the front of the line to be First.  When we see someone in the wrong, we are quick to sit in judgment, and even presume to tell God in our prayers how He should handle that person.    However, when we are in the wrong, we slink to the back of the line, and hope no one will point out our faults…especially Jesus!  We hope He won’t notice.

I knew a lady that used to “pray” for her husband.  He wasn’t quite all the things she had hoped for in a man, so she would tell God in her “prayers” to…”Fix him…or kill him, Lord!”  These are not the kind of “prayers” God wants from us!

So what is the cure for this “disease” that is pandemic?

I believe that the only cure is, in today’s terms, a holistic one.  Fight like, with like.  We should be saying and thinking…ME FIRST!

OK.  I’m sure I lost some of you there.  Here’s the thing….  When someone offends us, instead of  “praying” judgment on that person, we need to run to the front of the line, hands in the air, screaming…’ME FIRST, LORD!  FIX  ME FIRST!!!!”  Matthew 7:1-5 in the MSG  version says this:

1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

My prayer today…and hopefully EVERYDAY is:

ME FIRST, LORD!  FIX ME FIRST!

Anita

IT’S DIFFICULT TO BE LIKE JESUS…

If you weren’t at The Gathering Sunday morning service yesterday, you missed a real blessing!

The sermon was entitled “…And His Righteousness” part 3.  If you get a chance to read the sermon notes, look at yesterday’s blog – it’s all there.

The part that really stuck with me in regards to the three righteous men…Noah, Daniel, and Job, was that God called them righteous because of their, 1. Complete TRUST in Him, and 2. Their unyielding OBEDIENCE to what He asked them to do.

At the end of the sermon, Pastor Danny said something profound.  I’m not sure if this is an exact quote, but this is what I gleaned from it…

“It’s difficult to be like Jesus…in fact, there was only one man who ever was…and that was Jesus!

The Bible says, 1 John 3:2 “When He appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  What that really says is that we can desire, and try to be like Him while still on this earth-and well we should, but we will never be perfect and holy until He takes us home to glory!

But the good news is, if we desire, and make the effort to be like Him, and trust and obey Him in all things…He will call us Righteous!

Don’t get ‘self righteous’ in your efforts to be like Him…but when you fail, call out to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and mercy for your shortcomings!  He will make you righteous in the eyes of His Father!

Anita

“Seek His Righteousness” – sermon notes by Daniel Leavitt

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

2 Peter 1:3-4   (TLB)

For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us! And by that same mighty power he has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings he promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us his own character.

 

 

Three Righteous Men

Ezekiel 14

12 The word of the Lord came to me: 13 “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, 14 even if these three men—Noah, Daniel[a] and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.

 

15 “Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, 16 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate.

 

17 “Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the land,’ and I kill its people and their animals, 18 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.

 

19 “Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath on it through bloodshed, killing its people and their animals,

20 as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness.

 

Noah

2 Peter 2:5

if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

 

Daniel

Matt 24:15

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand.

 

Job

James 5:10-11   (MSG)

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

 

 

How About US

 

Are you “Super Spiritual”?

Matthew 5:20

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

Matthew 23:15 (NLT)

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell[a] you yourselves are!

 

The Story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee

9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

 

13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

 

14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

 

Seeking God’s Righteousness

Proverbs 21:2  NIV

A person may think their own ways are right,

but the Lord weighs the heart.

 

Proverbs 17:15 (NLT)

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—

both are detestable to the Lord.

 

James 3:18  NIV

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

The Gospel

 

Philippians 3:10  NIV

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

 

James 4:8 (NLT)

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

 

 

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

 

GIVE THANKS (WITH A GRATEFUL HEART)

Here’s one from Lee.  Enjoy! -anita

**********************************

GIVE THANKS (WITH A GRATEFUL HEART)

If someone does something nice for you, do you always think to say “thank you?”  Typically, the answer most of us would give is a confident “yes.” Of course we want to acknowledge a kind act by family members and those around us that benefits us in some way.

Yet, when you stop and think about it, God metes out kindness to each of us by the bushel every single day. And I wonder if we remember to thank Him on a regular, daily (or even hourly or moment-by-moment) basis. And maybe with an extra measure of “thank-you” on the special occasions when some harmful act involving us fails to come to pass. Like when the driver pulls out in front of you and you are barely able to stop. Or the time you had your head turned away at the ballgame and a baseball rocketed past your head into the stands. Or…well, you can fill in your own incidents where bad things could have happened to you but didn’t. You can disregard those incidents as simply happy but chance occurrences if you want to, but I see them happen to me and others nearly every day—sometimes more than once in a day. For me, that’s God’s protective hand around us. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” [2 Thess 3:3] And this passage is another example: “…My help comes from the Lord…the Lord watches over you…the Lord will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life….” [Ps 121 NIV]

As I pondered God’s seemingly ever-present protection the other day, I began to think about worship again (I’ve been thinking about worship a lot lately, and especially how maybe I should do a better job of worshipping my God.) Giving thanks, both for God’s provision of the things I need to live and for His protection in an increasingly hostile world, seems to me to be a part of worshipping Him. As so often happens when I think about God and how good He is to me (us), negative thoughts creep in. I’m not sure exactly where those thoughts come from but I have a suspicion the Evil One might be involved.

One such thought that cropped up during prayer the other day was this: Is God on an ego trip when He says He wants us to worship Him? After all, God says in Exodus 20:5 that He is a jealous God and that we should worship Him alone. After being rather aghast at myself for even thinking such thoughts, my thoughts then turned to thoughts like, “Why are we even here on this earth? Did God put us here just so He would have people to worship Him? Did God create the universe just to show off to us His great power?”  I’m sorry, but I can’t deny I have thoughts like that; maybe you do, too.

As I mulled over these thoughts, some other thoughts began to form in my mind. “God created a lot of work for Himself, just watching over His flock, given all the troubles we get ourselves into due to sin. He didn’t need to create the universe—or us in it—but He created a beautiful world for us in which to live.” And then a big one (thought) for me: “I’ve always felt God was always there for me—even when I denied Him and refused to worship and acknowledge Him during a period of my life.” As I continued to think more on this, it occurred to me that, even with all that He did for our benefit, God didn’t just create us as automatons that robotically honor Him: “Thank You, Lord [reset]…Thank You, Lord [reset]…,” on and on forever. No, God took a bit of a chance and gave us free will. He knew that some of us would never thank or honor Him, yet they still get to enjoy and benefit from His great provision just the same.

So God doesn’t force us to thank Him or be grateful. But He does “quicken” the spirit of some of us to make us more aware of Him and His love for us. Out of that awareness, I believe, some of us will begin to love Him in return and want to honor Him with the conduct of our lives. Hence, worship takes flight. We want to thank Him, to praise Him, to honor Him with the path we choose to take each day. As well we should!

I’m still not clear why God would go to the great trouble to create the universe and put us in it, but I have come to believe it was all for love. He is a God of love, in fact, He is love itself. [1 John 4:8] He deserves our loving worship and I, for one, want to do a better job each day of worshipping Him. I doubt you can name one other person who does more for you every moment of every day than the God who loves you!

ONLY ONE LIFE…

I have a plaque hanging in my house.  It says this…

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ, will last!

For me to live is Christ…”

That last part is from Philippians 1:21

I’ve had that plaque for years.  I “see” it everyday.  But today, in my hectic morning routine, I really saw it!  For the first time, in a long time, I let its meaning soak in.

All this stuff I do…all this running around…this busyness is useless in the BIG PICTURE of things.  Don’t get me wrong…everyday life and all of it’s time-consuming efforts are needed to survive in this world; ….But what am I doing for the next world? ….The eternal world to come?

I realized that my everyday duties are necessary…but I need to add Jesus to the things I do to make an impact on this world, and it will in turn make an impact on the world yet to come!

Be kind.  Be humble.  Be thoughtful.  Smile.  Share Jesus with someone today…

Anita