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Cheryl Mendoza

How He speaks to me…..Or… can't He just call my cell when He wants to talk?

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Only time will tell…..

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
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There is a song I’ve really liked since I was a teenager, “Only time will tell” by ASIA.  It came out in my MTV years, and I must have watched the video a hundred times or more. I hadn’t heard it in years, but out of nowhere it popped into my head.  Well not totally out of nowhere, as it seemed to sum up what I had been reading pretty nicely.

It’s something I started learning last year when I read about David. He was being run out of town, as his son was forcefully taking over.  As he is leaving, he is heckled by a certain man who was a relative of the previous king.  When David’s men wanted to kill the man for his words, David stops them.  He tells his men that what this guy is saying may be true.  God may even have told him to say it.  So who am I, says David, to do anything about it?

I was really struck by David’s attitude.  It was like he realized that God could have told this guy to say these things.  That maybe this guy could be speaking truth, and until David knew if it was true or not, then he was going to leave this guy alone.   We see later that when time had gone by, the man did get his comeuppance by David’s other son, Solomon.

It was like David understood that, “only time will tell.”   And David’s life is a prime example.  God says of David, “he is a man after my own heart.”  Really?   There would have been times where David, would have looked anything but that kind of man.  We only see what God is seeing when we look at David’s life as a whole.

So I had read that last year, and for some reason it really stuck with me. That sometimes you really have to wait to see the whole picture.  Sometimes the real truth or even the real personality only comes out through time.

Only time will tell.  I was glad to be pondering what God was saying to me. This seemed to be a lesson I needed to learn, although at the time I wasn’t sure why.  It did give me hope that truth will eventually be made known. It made me think though, what will happen in the “only time will tell” portion of the story?  How will that effect people?  It made me nervous.

God is in control, but sometimes His work seems slow in coming.   Really that “slowness” is His mercy.  Sometimes I am not obedient to what He is asking, and instead of dealing with it immediately, He gives me a little time to get my act together.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.  When I do, it is pretty good.  I learn, grow and get closer to God.  If I don’t?  Well, then typically God has to do a bit of work in my life to bring me around to His way of thinking.  Many times it’s painful.  If something shouldn’t be in my life, and if I don’t let it go, well then God has a way of taking it out of my hands. It is for my own good, but it hurts when that happens.  Even more concerning, it has the potential of hurting others.

It is the potential harm to others that really made me wonder.  How can that be averted?  I have seen where God had to do this with people and depending on who it is and their position, it can be a confusing time.  I know, I’ve lived it.  By God’s grace, I was able to get through it by having someone whom I respected taking the time to walk through it with me.  We would talk, bringing me wisdom when all I felt was confusion. I don’t even remember what she said, but her willingness to be a sounding board is what kept me on track. One thing I know we did not do, well that was get into a session where we just blamed people.

The funny thing was, I didn’t know the whole story back then and I don’t even know it now.  One thing is for sure though, I made it through.  I still love Jesus, go to church and even still serve.  This did not make me turn sour on the church or the people involved or following God.

It really made me wonder why?

I am not sure, but I remember that it wasn’t long after this that I learned something very important to me.  It was a comment that I took to heart.  “Don’t be spoon fed the gospel.”

It really drove home to me that the responsibility for my spiritual growth, journey and beliefs was mine.  Oh….and God’s of course!  I wasn’t to sit back and let someone tell me what Jesus was saying, I needed to see for myself.  I needed to use the brain that God had given me to read, listen, study and seek the Holy Spirits guidance.    I can listen to others, but I was also to run what was said through the Holy Spirit to see if it made sense.  To use scripture as a means to know this God I follow, so that I can make decisions that would honor Him.

Without realizing it, I just kept looking up.  I started to learn things through God’s word.  Not by someone else teaching them to me, but by the Holy Spirit making me see things.  To hear truth in His word and see it reflected in His creation, people, and even in a song with a really bad music video.

While this post has been weeks in the making, I was not sure how to end. So it has sat for a bit.  I was able to get a bit of perspective on this when I was reading on Thursday.  It was just one line, but it gave me peace in the midst of questions.  “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread…”  Acts 12:24a

 

Advent: Noel….

IMG_7016“Maybe I am a woman searching for a word?”  I love words, so when I heard the line from the movie Eat, Pray, Love….it obviously caught my attention!  So on my laptop, I just keep it open to notes, and when things catch my attention I write them down.  Sometimes I expand on them, and sometimes I don’t.

So it is early Christmas morning and I tried to get up before the whole household to write a post.   It didn’t work.  Ugh!  So after they were settled in with some coffee, I started writing about the fog again.  I guess I really do have it on the brain!  As I was trying to put some thoughts together, I read it again.  “Maybe I am a woman searching for a word?” and right below where I had written that, was a word.  I started laughing…. Really?  It had been there all the time, but it was like I had only just saw it.

IMG_7838The word was Noel.  For the past few weeks it had caught my eye in stores, and on cards.  As I was out, and when I was in.  I heard it on tv and in songs.  So being the word nerd I am, I had to look it up!

A noel is a Christmas carol, but if the word is capitalized, then it refers to Christmastime or the celebration of the birth of Christ.  There is a reverence to the word, and a spirit about it.  Maybe I think that because it is a French word?  Just sounds so cool!  Christmas is such a special time.  As someone who believes the whole “reason for the season” thing, I am struck by the spirit around Christmastime.  I know, I know….there is a lot of stress, sadness, and unmet expectations during this time.  But…there is a general sense of fun, wonder, and joy that surrounds Christmas.  I think that the spirit of God, just can’t be contained!  Just like the angels on the night of His birth.  Heaven could not contain the party, and I think it’s the same today.

So today, it you celebrate the birth of Christ….then CELEBRATE!  Don’t hold back!  The angels couldn’t contain themselves and we shouldn’t either.  So eat, drink and be merry!  Love today.  People you know, and those you don’t.  Be silly, fun, and give grace.  And did I say LOVE?  Because the bumper sticker on your car, the cross around your neck, the book in your hand and where you sit on a Sunday morning says nothing about God.  But when you love?  That is how the world will see Him!  The only way.

images-1 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10

 

Advent: Fog on the brain…

5D810706-7880-4A05-94ECFE5693596D2B_sourceI love the fog….it is such a great metaphor.  I do hate to drive in it though.  The fog we have here in Central California is called Tule Fog, and when it comes in, it can be a nightmare.  Yesterday while driving in it, I couldn’t help but think how like life it is.  You are going along, going down one path with a destination in mind, but not quite seeing where the road is taking you.

So I am in the left hand lane, and I was following the lines, because I COUND NOT SEE!  Anyway, as I did I kept with the white line to my left and it started to curve a bit, and I started to follow.  Now it was only a split second because I pulled it back to the right when I realized that the line was shifting for a turn lane.  And it was a turn I did not want to take.

It was so easy to follow the line.  What started as a little shift in direction, was going to take me to the left hand turn lane.  That turn? Well that was going to take me to somewhere I really didn’t want to go. (and really couldn’t see) Luckily I realized quickly what it was and was able to correct my course.  It seems to be that way in life too.  If you are following the wrong line, you could end up in a place you don’t want to be.  There are times, like yesterday, where to fix your course takes just a little re-direction. It seems though the further you are into it, the harder it is to do.  That seems to go for many things in life, money, relationships, jobs or lifestyle. In the beginning, you have an easier time correcting the course, but as time goes on, the course corrections become bigger and more drastic.  And many times, more painful.

What course are you set on?  Are you unsure of where you are going?  Take a look for the little signs.  They will either be pointing you in the right direction or giving you a hint of upcoming danger.

IMG_4885Your own ears will hear him.  Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

Advent: Note to SELF…..sin no more

IMG_5203There is such peace for me in the mornings, especially in the winter. The darkness closes in and envelops everything.  It magnifies the feeling of quiet and alone.  It’s different in summer and spring.  The sun comes up early and gives you the opportunity to get your day started.  You see all that needs to be done, and the light says “let’s get to work!” In winter, the darkness speaks to the world in inky blackness, “Sit and ponder,” she says.

It’s important to me to have this time.  I got up and saw a twitter notification and read a couple of tweets. I tend to follow people who encourage, but then things are retweeted and it just gets stupid.  I couldn’t think of a better word!  So after that kind of reading, and my thoughts traveling down the rabbit hole, I needed the quiet.  I feel like I needed an adjustment.  Kind of like the chiropractor, you know?  If your head is not aligned correctly there is pain, if all is lined up correctly, there is no pain.  Funny thing is, once you are in alignment, your body is back to optimal working conditions.

I think of how easily this world knocks us out of alignment.  It can be anything, from pain to pleasure, having too little or even too much.  Fear, sadness and even a life of ease can throw us off.  For me this morning, that “anything” was sin.  What got me started was someone calling out someone else’s sin.  Make sense?

dsc_0835You see the problem is, I know my sin, but you may not.  I am pretty quiet about it.  I mean really…. who wants people to know what they do that misses the mark?  Most people I know don’t really want to confront their own sin, let alone have someone else confront it.  So why do we feel the need to mention it on Twitter?  If you know someone is dealing with something, talk to them about it. Study with them.  Love them!  If that sin is so grievous to you, meet people where they are.   Jesus did! He met people where they were, not after the healing.  And when He met them, He brought grace and love.  He eventually showed them the sign, but it was after they felt His care for them.

So just a friendly reminder.  Sometimes our shortcomings are less hidden than we thought.  It is messy for all of us in the midst of our sin.  And while you may not want to wade in to meet me in mine, don’t forget, someone could be debating whether it’s worth it to meet you in yours.

Advent: What better way….

Unknown“Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”Mark 10:21a.

I love this verse.  Jesus was about to bring a hard lesson to someone, but before Jesus does that, the writer tells us that Jesus genuinely loved the man.

When was the last time I told a tough truth to someone in genuine love?  Is that how we typically talk to each other?  It just doesn’t seem like it.  And unfortunately, the Christian community doesn’t seem to be much different than the rest of the world.

So if I want to love people like Jesus, then I really need to love people!  Not with an agenda, or a plan to “reach them” but just with the love of God.  If I can’t?  then I really need to check that out!

Unknown 8.24.28 PMWhat about you?  What better way to start the day than to be seeking to love one another!

Wow….. this really isn’t where I thought I would end up when I started.

Advent: Being mindful….

images-2You know, sometimes this writing part of my life is not easy!  I try to come up with something interesting, or thought provoking, not preachy and above all not too opinionated.  I try to frame what I write as my experience, and hope it either encourages or at least gives someone a different perspective.

It is hard though, because I am pretty opinionated.   I’d like to think that I have some pretty good ideas, because I have common sense, and in some ways I am pretty smart.  So I am thinking my opinions are wise…. Right?   Also, according to my pastor since I am so old, I am a good mentor figure.  (that kills me)

Well over the last few years as social media has exploded, I am less and less impressed with my own opinion.  Why?  Because I am so tired of hearing everyone else’s, I can imagine how people feel hearing mine.  I am lucky though, as I have an easier time holding my tongue than others do.  (don’t get me wrong, I came by this trait the hard way.  But God has taken hurt and made it into a useful part of my life.)

Why did I bring this up?  I really don’t know….I just started writing?  I guess it was the imagesphone call I got last night.  I am typically the one who is messaging or talking to someone to encourage them, but last night the call was for me.  Someone wanted to ask how I was, and check up on me and the family. I appreciated it so much!  And at the end she prayed for me, and it was cool because it showed growth in her faith.

 

 

_DSC9219Why these two topics together?  Well, I guess it’s because I hear much more ”opinion” than encouragement. And since I am like most people, I tend to think we are all looking for more encouragement, love, kindness and lack of judgment than we are looking for another opinion.  So today be mindful of the words you say.  Be a shoulder to lean on, cry on or just be a good listener. Leave your opinions behind, and see how you can be an encouragement to someone today.

Was that a little preachy?  Not sure…… will try better tomorrow.

Advent: Outside looking in…..

So yesterday I was thinking about the shepherds.  You know the ones?  Those “In the fields by night” kind of guys.  I had to teach kids about them once and to help them appreciate the shepherds position in life we talked about how smelly they would be.  I know….not very spiritual….but true.  Think how you would smell if you were in the fields outside of town with just big fluffy sheep for companions?

 

ca9583de30e2e850b492eff0c494a42d--nativity-silhouette-silhouette-cameoNow some put shepherds in a category of outcasts from society, but others say they are just another group among the poor.    Either way, they give us a picture of separation from other people and the normal rhythms of life.  To have a big flock, you would need a big area of grass to feed them.  Have you ever seen sheep go through a field?  And when that field is done, you need to move them to another one.  The life of a shepherd was not a normal one of home and family.

 

So…Why do the angels tell these guys?  Was heaven so crazy with excitement that it could not contain the celebration?  The party was so wild that the heavens split and the craziness spilled out into the hills of Bethlehem.  I don’t know about that, but all I do know is that these were the men who first heard confirmation of this incredible birth.   On that night, the angels could not contain the joy of heaven and brought day into night.  And they brought it to these men.  The outsiders, the humble, the poor single guys who might not have smelled really good.

 

While my life is nothing like the shepherds, I like their story because sometimes I feel like I am on the outside looking in.   I used to hate that feeling, but now I see that it has its advantages.  Many times it gives me a different perspective, and I am grateful for that view.  Sometimes, like those shepherds I feel like heaven opens up and gives me a view of something other worldly.  Something beautiful! Those are the times I am grateful for who God has made me, but I still fight it.  It feels lonely sometimes, trying to find a place where you fit.  Now don’t get me wrong, I seem to be able to pass through many groups but while I can do that I am never totally comfortable where I am. I guess that seems to be the way God means for it to be, so I try to be content.  And when I feel out of sorts about it, I remember the shepherds and the amazing thing that happened to them that day.   It was to them that the angels brought the best news of all…..

 

But the angel reassured them.  “Don’t be afraid!” he said.  “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”   Luke 2:10

Reading the heart…..

UnknownHow do you talk to people?  Especially people you don’t agree with?  As I was reading, I was struck by two conversations this morning. Two conversations, two different outcomes.  Two different questions, with two different intents.  And one Jesus.

One question was asked to trick and catch him saying something wrong.  The other was asked seeking an honest answer.

One was asked to show how wise they were.  The other to gain wisdom.

One was asked, but the answer didn’t really matter to those who asked it.  The other was asked, with the answer being of the utmost importance.

Two answers were given that day, but only one truly listened.  I was struck by both questions, their intent and the reaction to the answers.

When you talk to people, what is your intention? Is it to prove them wrong?  Or is it to understand?

thWhen the one man heard wisdom in the answer, Jesus said “you are not far from the kingdom of God.”  Sounds like a mile marker to me.  How the man approached the question and reacted to Jesus’ response, showed something about his heart.

I wonder…..what do our questions and responses show about ours?

Mark 12:18-35

Believe=Live

DSC_0132“I gotta live how I say I believe.”  It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily, but t’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately.  It’s mainly due to my children and their struggles or downright danger they put themselves into.  Ok, honestly? Some of it just has to do with me and my response to the world around me.

I was reading this morning and came across the story about the friends who bring a crippled man to Jesus.  These guys did everything they could to get their friend into the room where Jesus was teaching.   They let nothing get in their way, not even someone else’s roof. I’ve told this story and heard it many times, but something about it hit me differently today.  When I tell the story to kids, we always used the word “friends” when describing the men who carried the guy in.  I even used the word friend when I started writing this, but the bible never uses the word friend?  It always says men.

images-2What’s the difference?  Well, it seems to me that it’s all about perspective.  If I see these men bringing in their friend, that makes sense to me.  I can “help” my friend see who Jesus is in my life and maybe they will be like “cool….tell me more”.   Sounds great! But I checked out 5 or 6 different translations and they all just said MEN not friend.

So what might the story really have looked like? There’s a couple of guys, and they’re hurrying off to see this teacher they’ve heard about.  He says the craziest things, but what they’ve heard has them thinking.  I know….four men thinking…. Who would have thunk it?  So either they know each other or better yet….maybe they don’t?  Probably at least 2 did and they were walking together. Maybe then third and fourth are just walking that way too and they all converge at this intersection that is just down the street from the house.  It is so close they can see it.  They are intent on getting there before too many more people show up.  Picture Disneyland when they first open in the morning. Some are walking enjoying Main Street, some are doing that funny walk/run and some are downright sprinting to be first in line at Indiana Jones.  Well as these guys get to the intersection, they are greeted by someone who can’t walk.

Maybe he is calling out to Jesus because he has heard the scuttlebutt.  Or maybe this guy is calling out for money? For whatever reason, they choose to do something. They see that he is laying on a blanket and they grab the corners and go.  They walk for just a bit but stop.  It is really hard with just the two of them and they put him down.  They’re panting, thinking “this is harder than the WOD,” and as they catch their breath a shadow falls across them.  Two more men have stopped.  They all look at each other and without another word they each grab a corner of the blanket, mat, whatever the guy was on and well you know the end of the story.  Jesus, forgiveness and healing.  The end seems to point to the conclusion that maybe they don’t know each other.  When the man is healed, he just gets up and just walks out.  Maybe these guys go and have some goats milk together at the local whatever was back then, or just maybe after listening to Jesus they go their separate ways.

IMG_0143It seems to me this is kind of how life works.  We are all in need of healing and could use a little Jesus to do that.  Along the way people can come beside us and take a corner to help us get to where we need to be.  If we see this story only through the lens of helping a “friend” then we might miss out on all of the other opportunities to help people we don’t know see Jesus.

Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make that complete journey to forgiveness and healing.   And every day is a new opportunity to pick up the mat of those around you.  Whether they are technically a friend or not.

So how does this relate to “I gotta live how I say I believe?”  Well if I believe that everyone around me is someone I can “bring” to Jesus, it should really influence how I treat everyone.  Right?  And that means in every situation.  School, work, grocery store, politics, baseball field, FREEWAY and even in church.  Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to make the complete journey, and everyone I meet is another opportunity.  A new chance for me to pick up the mat and help them on their way.

16939225_10211261381504215_4523643083069843847_nThat is the plan, and it is way harder to do than it sounds.  But you know… gotta live how you say you believe!

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