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Wednesday, March 18, 2015


February 20, 2015

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  John 8:31-32

What is the truth that Jesus speaks of?  A Jewish Rabbi, a Buddist, a Pastor, and a Muslim all sit around a table discussing their religious beliefs.  They talk about why they believe what they believe and why they don't believe other religions.  Their conversation is peaceful and they all listen to each other respectfully.  Though things get heated from their passion for their faith, they are able to have a peaceful dialogue about their faith.

So which one is true?  What makes my belief more true than another?  What causes one person to switch faiths, or remain in a faith, or stay faithless?  Jesus said to His people that they were to continue in His word to truly be His disciples.  If they did so, they'd know the truth, and this truth would make them free.

What does another faith believe to be true?  And how is it they can cling to their faith so hard if it is not really true?  Is it all about being right?  Or is it about being in what you believe to be the truth?  If I read the Koran, would I begin to believe what they believe?  What is written within?

Do I only believe now what I believe because I read the Bible?  Matthew 7:7-8 says ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.   For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  

So I ask and seek and knock for the wisdom of God on this in order to know what is true.  I mean, Jesus called us to go out and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).  To think that there are people in this world that still have never heard of Jesus and do not know that He has love for them, and offers them hope and a future...this boggles my mind. So what do these people believe?  And if God is all knowing, all loving and everywhere, why can't He just swoop in and supernaturally whammy them into realizing Jesus?  Why does He have to use other people to spread the message?

These are all very pertinent questions, that God has yet to give me revelation about. But I am going to wait on Him for an answer to these questions.  One thing I do know is that back in November 2008, I had been feeling a heavy burden for a long time.  I was engaged in behaviors that were tearing me apart, and pushing me further down a black hole. All the while, God pursued me.

After being fed up with the direction I was going in, I cried out to God and asked for help.  Not sure what He would do, I went to Him in hopes that He would save me from continuing down this destructive path.  When He did, I was convicted beyond my wildest thoughts.  Believing I had it all together, God revealed to me just how broken I truly was, and showed me that I indeed needed to be in a relationship with Him.  That I was not currently in a close relationship with Him, but that no matter how far I felt from Him, He had been right there pursuing me the entire time.

I also know that once again, a few months later, I was convicted by God and led to tell my now husband (then boyfriend) of a shameful secret I'd been keeping from him for a long time.  The Holy Spirit literally shut my mouth for 3 hours until I confessed to Marcus what I'd done.  I mean, no matter how hard I tried, I COULD NOT SPEAK...a word!!  The only time my mouth was opened and words came out was when I began confessing to him.

Finally, a few months after that, when I felt led by the Holy Spirit to fast and pray before God to take the taste of alcohol from me, he did!  I struggled with alcohol for a while after I started drinking.  I had many a blacked out night and got into some drunken fights.  Some with strangers, and many with friends.

I decided that I needed to change that.  Worried about the addiction in my family history, I prayed for help.  I really felt like I could not do this on my own.  I continued craving the alcohol even when I didn't drink.  So during my first couple of fasts, I prayed and asked God to take away my desire to drink.  I didn't even realize He did until one day we were out at a happy hour with friends and I didn't think about drinking.  

I have had a few drinks since then, but none of them satisfied me like before.  Most I end up not finishing or it takes me forever to finish.  After that, I just didn't drink, and I do not miss it at all.  Why do I bring these three instances up?  Because though I may believe one way and someone who is Jewish or Muslim believes another way, I do know that in all of these instances, I felt the presence of God and believe I was transformed by Him.  All of these instances were early in my walk with Him, I can't explain it any other way. It was not me!  Nor was it luck!  It was not even a decision.  I was transformed by Him.

So what is true?  Jesus told His people, it was in His word.  Because to be considered His disciple they had to read His word.  And in so doing, they would come to that truth.  It isn't up to me to convince people of this truth.  It is up to me to share it, along with my testimony with them.


Monday, March 9, 2015


February 19, 2015

"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."

I am an administrative assistant.  I love my job.  I love my boss.  I love the people that I work with.  I could not be more thankful for all things related to my job.  Sure, there are moments when things I dislike try to overrun my day, but in the second part of my first year, I made a decision to act like I chose to be there.  Why?  Because I did, in fact, choose to be there.  I also had a very large desire to be a true reflection of Jesus to the people around me.
I figured that I could not do that with a cranky and sour attitude.  I needed to be the light in whatever way possible.  So...I chose joy to frustration.  I chose to focus on the positive rather than on the negative.  And I chose to have an attitude of gratitude rather than a stinky attitude and complain.  I'm not saying I am perfect in this position.  I have messed up so many times, I cannot help but believe God has truly given me favor in this place.  I still fall and make mistakes.  But each day I go to work, I strive to be a good example of a Christ follower in every way.

Lately, I have been challenged with the fact that I feel like I've outgrown the position and where I am.  Do I want to move into another role in this same place?  No.  I feel like God has a plan for me, and it is bigger than the role I am currently in.  Not only is it bigger than my current role, it is also elsewhere.  The thing is, I am not certain He is ready to move me yet.  So I stay until He gives the go ahead.

Remaining in this position with these thoughts have challenged me.  It is like being a recently turned millionaire who continues scrubbing toilets.  Not that there is anything wrong with scrubbing toilets. That's a role that someone needs to fill.  I thank God for the people that do the job.  It is just challenging because my heart desires to be doing something else.  It is challenging because I know God has another plan for me, which He has revealed, yet I must wait on Him.  It is very humbling because although I believe I have outgrown this role, I must remain in it and serve others.  Not only must I serve others while God has me here, but I must serve others with a God attitude.

I believe that in all roles, God calls His people to serve others.  But I guess its like the example I gave earlier.  Imagine, a toilet cleaner who just inherited millions of dollars.  Maybe he invented this incredible project that he has been working on for years.  He finally got his breakthrough, but he still has to wait a little bit longer before he can leave his current role and take up the new one God has commissioned him to do. Although his value far exceeds his current position, he must remain in this role, humbly doing as he is told.

I am reminded of the verse in Romans 12:3,  to not to think of myself better than I am.  Have I really outgrown this place?  Or am I exactly where I need to be in the role I need to be in?  Is it pride that has me feeling like I need to move on?

I don't know for sure, although I do believe that God puts desires in each of us, and He has a purpose for His children. The purpose is to make Christ known and bring Him glory.  But in that, we are given a task to do so.  We may be called to sing, act, write, preach, or teach.  We might even be called to be an administrative assistant who encourages and shares the gospel exactly where she is.

I also know that just because God has revealed His purpose to us doesn't mean it is time for us to walk in it.  Jesus had a purpose, yet He did not complete the ultimate task set out for Him until He was 33 years old.  He had to wait.  While He waited, He had to be in a position of humility.

Furthermore, as He walked in His purpose to the cross, He had to continue walking in a position of humility.  Jesus was the son of God who humbled Himself to die on a cross.  He is the example I follow as I follow Him.  I cannot think myself higher that I am in my current position, or even for whatever role God moves me.  

I must continue walking in humility as Jesus did.  And I must remember that wherever God places me, it is not about me, but about Him.



February 18, 2015

"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1

Have you ever met someone that says they are something but when you observe their lifestyle and daily activities they look nothing like what they say they are?  For example, what if you had the opportunity to spend the day with a professional gymnast training for the Olympics?

You go to breakfast and they eat pancakes, bacon and cheese eggs.  They wash that down with a diet soda. Later in the day, they take you to one of their conditioning sessions and they workout for 15 minutes.  After that, you go to lunch and they scarf down a double cheese burger with chili cheese fries and an extra large chocolate milk shake.  A few hours later, they go to a practice session and do 5 minutes worth of floor work, 5 minutes on the bars and don't bother with the beam because they are "not feeling it today."  They finish up with a couple of minutes on the uneven bar.  After about 30-45 minutes at practice, they take you out for a long night on the town.

When asked, they explain that this is pretty much how their entire training season looks.  They do, however, admit to you that once a week they spend 6 hours training and conditioning.  On this day, they leave the double cheese burger and bacon and eggs alone, and go for a "healthier nutritional fair".

How would you respond to this?  If you had to put your faith in their final placement in the Olympics, what would you say?  Do you think they would even make it to the Olympics with such a relaxed training program?  If it were me and I had spent all day with someone who said they were a gymnast training for the Olympics with these habits, I'd wonder if they truly were a gymnast.

Year ago, when I was pursuing acting, a coach of mine addressed his class.  He mentioned an actress from old Hollywood and how protective she was of her craft.  She said that whenever someone claimed to her that they were an actress, she'd respond with, "Oh really?  What did you do today to work on your craft?"  If their answer was nothing, she'd tell them they weren't really an actor.  "If you haven't done anything related to your craft today, then you are not really an actor."  That seems fair to say about anything we claim to be.

If this is the case for so many other trades and fields, how can a Christian claim to be a Christ follower and put so little into it?  They don't go to church, they don't pray and speak to God regularly, and the reflection that they carry each day looks nothing like Jesus.  How is this possible?

A gymnast is a gymnast for a short amount of time.  An actor may be an actor for their entire life, but in terms of eternity, this is but a vapor of time.  In order for a gymnast or actor to be successful, they understand that they must act the part at least 95% of the time.  Often times, Christians act like Christ followers some times, then act like the world other times.

For the record, there isn't a set way that Christ followers need to act.  We are not perfect, we do fail--A LOT!  We are like a rainbow.  We come in all different shapes, sizes with all types of personalities. The connection, is that we are to honor God in all that we do.  Furthermore, God does not expect perfection from us, nor does He expect us not to fail.  He does, however, expect us to use Christ as the example we are to live like.  That way, when people see us, they see something different about us. They see a Christ follower.

When people look at a gymnast, you see a gymnast.  Someone that does what is necessary to set themselves apart during competition.  They sacrifice, and are willing to do whatever it takes in order to be recognized as an elite gymnast.  As a Christ follower, we must do what is necessary to be set apart for Jesus.  Although we are in the world, we are not of the world (John 17:16); therefore, we are to be set apart, so that when the world sees us, they see Jesus and not the world.

Paul tells the people of Corinth to be an imitator of him because he follows Jesus.  We have an example of how we are to act.  We must follow this example.  If we are the only Christ follower someone sees, what kind of reflection will we be to them?  Matthew 7:15-20 speaks on false prophets.  It states that we shall know these false prophets by the fruit that they bear. Much like a true gymnast, if we look closely, we will know a true Christ follower by the fruit they bear.  As a Christ follower, are you bearing good fruit?


Friday, March 6, 2015


February 17, 2015

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20

Ever since I had my son I've felt this heaviness over me.  In the beginning, I was so excited about him finally being here I didn't notice it.  But when life settled in, I started to feel like something terrible was about to happen.

I remember being with him when he was only a few weeks old and playing with him.  I took a moment to stare at him, and take in the miracle that he truly is.  All of the sudden, my joy was interrupted by an enormous crushing feeling in my heart.  I felt this incredible urge to cry, and hold him tight.  I felt like now that he's out of my stomach, I just wanted to put him back in and keep him safe from the dangers of this world.

I mean, I was a bit conflicted.  I wanted him out so I could hold him, and look at him.  But I also wanted to put him back because I felt like he would be much safer in the womb.  Then there was that feeling of impending doom.  Any time I was away from my husband or son, I'd get this unsettled feeling in my gut.  When I was with them, my thoughts were consumed with worry over my sister and mother.  Every time I said goodbye to one of them, I would wonder if it was the last time I saw them or spoke with them. These worries ate at my heart, my mind and my energy.  I tried to convince myself that if that happened, it was okay because Heaven is better and we would see each other again.  Heaven is better, and Jesus is better.  But this didn't help put my mind at ease.

What is it about this world that makes us hold on so tight?  God blesses us in this life, but we are told that what Jesus has gone and prepared for us is so much better (John 14:3).  If we are citizens of Heaven, then we should look forward to going home.  It is important to keep that in mind, that this is not our home.  This is really just a short stop before we reach our eternal home.  And  yes, God did bless us with people and things.  And not to say that we don't love them and take care of them.  We just need to live knowing that this is not our home.

Obviously God doesn't want us living in fear to the point that we feel frozen by it and cannot move.  He does, however, want us to keep our live here verses our eternal life in perspective.  This is not our home. All that we have belongs to God. We have family and things that God has given us to enjoy.  We are to love and take good care of both.  But we must always have the eternal perspective.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015


February 16, 2015

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.  Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Have you ever tried to pick something up while holding onto something else?  It's a challenge, isn't it?  If you are unwilling to let go of that object you have in your hand, you are most likely not going to be able to pick up the other object.

I've often heard people talk about that in terms of blessings.  how can one receive God's blessing while holding on to anger or bitterness?  Sometimes feelings of anger or bitterness consume us so much that we end up missing out on our blessings. We may be blinded by these things to the point that we don't recognize  our blessing when God sends them our way.  We may be so focused on our bitterness and anger (or the object of that bitterness and anger), that we are unable to recognize the blessing hanging right in front of us.

Is it possible for God to bless us while we're holding on to anger and bitterness?  Yes it is.  All things are possible with God.  It is, however, hard for us to recognize those blessings, or receive them because we are so filled with that bitterness and anger.  Bitterness is not in God's nature.  God was never once bitter about anything related to us.  Yes, God may have been angered by us, but He has also always been quick to forgive us.

Ephesians 4:26 says, be angry, but do not sin.  So we can be angry.  But not to the point where our anger becomes an obsession.  We must learn to let go of the anger so that it does not harden our hearts.  When in sin, how close are we to God?  How is our relationship with God when we are knee deep in sin?  If we are far from God, how can we receive His blessing?

In order to receive God's blessing, we must obey Him and turn away from sin.  We must draw close to Him, and remain in a close relationship with Him.   He has told us that we need only listen to His voice and follow His commands in order to be blessed.  God wants to bless us, and as He promised, He is able to bless us overwhelmingly.  Above all, God desires a relationship with us.  So if that means holding His blessings back from us while pursuing us and drawing us out of sin, He will do it.



February 15, 2015

"I planted. Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."  1 Corinthians 3:6

I made a decision to follow Jesus November 2008.  Before that, I cannot tell you how many times I heard the gospel.  What was different about this time?  I'm not sure.  I guess after all those planted seeds, one eventually began to grow.  I got my degree in social work.  I used to work as a high school counselor.  One of the hardest things for me as a counselor was always when I put in lots of time and effort with students and they ended up getting kicked out of school.  Far worse was when they decided to drop out of school on their own.  It was always such a huge disappointment for me to see them fail after all the time and effort I put into them.

My first supervisor would often try to encourage me by saying, "Remember you're just planting seeds.  This is just a tiny piece of their life.  You never know what the future has in store for them."  This gave me a bit of hope.  I always tried to envision them finding much success after figuring things out.  While working at a warehouse sales job in Los Angeles, I was moved next to this gay male.  He did not like Christians.  He spoke to me once very politely, and then found out I was a Christian and it was like a switch went off.

Not sure what happened, but all exchanges after his discovery of my faith were always awkward and draining.  He was constantly rude to me, and I felt like I had to absorb many smacks to the face. I did my best to steer clear of him whenever possible.  In an attempt not to provoke him and keep my sanity.  So when the boss moved me from one side of the room directly next to him, I knew God was up to something.

I endured his rudeness, and gave him love. It was tough.  But I did let most of his rude comments go without a side glance. I felt like I was on the firing squad every time I went to work.  I could barely ask a simple question without him biting my head off.  Fortunately, I rode the train and bus in to work, so I always arrived 1.5-2 hours before they opened the doors.  This gave me plenty of prayer time to prepare my mind.  This quiet time with God really helped strengthen me against going off on him, and either hitting him, or saying something that would have been a poor reflection of Christ.

So although I was not a door mat, I endured many of his harsh comments.  Rather than dishing them back, I ignored them, or did my best to have a loving attitude through it.  I do recall a couple of times when I addressed some very ugly interactions with him.  I prayed about those interactions.  I asked the Holy Spirit to be present before saying a word.  I asked Him to let my words be lead with God's love.  And of course, He did.

After those two conversations, my coworker became a little more cordial with me.  I remember the day he left.  He even said goodbye to me, shook my hand and wished me well.  I told him that it had been a pleasure meeting him, and wished the very best for him also.  It was a genuine, cordial goodbye.  Not one ounce of phoniness was present.   I have to say, had he left a month earlier, things may have been different.

I prayed for him every night that month that I sat next to him.  I prayed that God would soften his heart, and open his eyes to Him.  Though he did not leave that place a Christ follower, God gave me an opportunity to plant a seed.  Will he ever become a follower of Jesus?  I don't know.  But like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6, he planted to seed, Apollos watered it, and God gave the increase.  So maybe it was me that planted the seeds for my former coworker.  Hopefully after that, someone watered those seeds that were planted. Then, if it is meant for him to become a follower of Jesus, God shall give the increase.



February 14, 2015

"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."

I recently changed my name.  It has been very interesting.  Although I have been married for quite some time, I made a decision at the beginning of this year to finally change my name.  I'm not sure why I didn't change it immediately, but I think I was just not prepared to take on that responsibility and commitment.  I mean, I love my husband.  I married him.  Changing my name to match his last name wouldn't make us any more married.  So I held on to my maiden name a little longer than I probably should have.

Also, I was not sure I was ready to let go of my old name.  It has been such an important part of me for my entire life.  It helps define who I am.  So I held on.  The thing is, I am no longer single.  That was my single name, and I am not longer single Patricia, but I am married Patricia.  Although I look the same, and have the same personality, things have changed.  Therefore, I needed to update my name to match this new identity.

I was amazed at how this new identity made me feel like a different person.  Whenever I hear my old name, it seems odd to me.  I am reminded that I am no longer that person.  I am someone else, with a new identity.

God also changed a few names in the Bible.  I thought about this and wondered, What is the significance of a name change?  When God changed Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah and Jacob to Israel, it was attached to a blessing and a promise.

God changed Abraham's name because He promised to make him a father of nations.  In Hebrew, Abraham means father of many.  God changed Sarah's name for the same reason.  He promised her a son and to make her the mother of many.  He also promised her that kings would come from her.  The definition of Sarah is noblewoman, princess.  When I realized the significance of name change has two key parts.

1) When God changed names, He usually did so with a promise of a blessing attached to it.

2) When God changes a name, it changes our identity and prepares us for a new role God is about to bring us into.

Abraham was to become the father of nations.  God told him that through him, all nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:18).  That's a pretty significant role.

Name change in marriage signifies that you are with that person.  I imagine to have your name changed by God must be a significant way of showing you are His.  Not only does the name change mean that you are His, you are also a part of His family.