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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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Religion

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?  Looking at David’s story, there are plenty of times where he looked anything but that kind of man.  We can only somewhat understand what God means 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

 

Seasonal focus….

I needed some focus for the last part of the year, so I am taking a page from Lent.  I use Lent as a way to focus and write daily, and this December I really need some focus. Why?  Well the Christmas season is upon us, I have a big family celebration at the end of the month that I am in charge of, and I am also studying for a test for work.   That is not even the half of it, but I can only say so much.  So while I use Lent in the spring to bring focus to my life, I decided that Advent might help me do the same this winter.

dsc_0835-2So I was thinking, December 1st I would be on it!  But…. I missed the date.  Ugh!  Needless to say, it is all good, since today is officially the start of Advent. Who knew? Well obviously not me.
So what am I pondering on this first day of Advent?  Well, Christmas of course!  Specifically what this season means to me and really the effect it has had on my life.  I just finished writing a small vignette (?) for lack of a better word. While some of it is fictionalized, it is based on some things that have happened to me.  It was like God put them together for me one day, to give me perspective. It helped to remind me that God was with me.  And in reminding me of where we have been, He reminds me that He knows where we will go.  That gives me hope!  And isn’t that what the season is all about?  Hope?

For in the velvety darkness of winter, a star is seen and hope is born. The hope that the separation between us and God is about to be put to an end. That the love of God is brought to earth as a baby.  To start the transition from separation to reconciliation.

Less politics, more Jesus

“Less politics and more scholarship!  And don’t give so much of yourself to this cause.  Yours is scholarship-and one can never know what the future may bring politically.  You understand me-my advice places me in your hands, I wish you well.”   I Will Bear Witness by Victor Klemperer.

The advice from this German professor was something that caught my eye as I read his diary today.  The gentle advice to this woman, whom he said was “an adherent to the new regime,” was daring.  It was advice that I think makes sense for many of us today.  As soon as I read it though, my mind changed it up a bit.

Maybe for us, we could change it to “Less politics, and more Jesus!  And don’t give so much of yourself to this cause.  Yours is Jesus-and one can never know what the future may bring politically.”

Have we spent too much time on politics and not Jesus?  Sadly, I just have to think yes.  How else do Nazi’s have such a strong presence right now?

(The fact that I wrote that sentence tells me that something is very wrong with the world but more importantly that something is wrong with us in the church)

“We are all infected impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.”  Isaiah 64:6

What would a little love do?

images-6So every year I wind up writing scenes for VBA, or Vacation Bible Adventure.  I take bible stories and I adapt them to these vignettes that we do one a day during the week.

I have done this for years now, and it has been one of the best things I could have ever done.  God has used this writing to do some tremendous things in my life.  It has increased my love of storytelling, and even shown me that I could do it.  Above all though, most of my “bible knowledge” is not from Sunday sermons, or even bible studies, but from the reading and pondering that I have done while writing these stories.

Continue reading “What would a little love do?”

Only one thing gonna set you free…

I feel like God has really been trying to convince me how important images-6His love is.  I know that seems really silly, of course His love is important.  I mean really, He so loved the world.  This is Jesus 101.  Where the problem lies is not if I “get it” or not, but if I really choose to accept it and just do it.

Now I was really encouraged by a song I heard on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I looked a little more into it.  The song?  Well it is not your typical “christian” song.  It is “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend.  What I find so interesting in this song, is that he writes it from God’s viewpoint. Continue reading “Only one thing gonna set you free…”

#MakeTodayBetterIn4Words

images-5You know this writing thing is not all that it’s cracked up to be.  I sit, I ponder and usually out come words.  Then I am stuck.  No, it’s not writers block, I just know that I am going to start deleting words.  I guess it keeps me humble?  So I’m gonna start where I think God wants me to, and delete those other 400 words.

“May God continue the unity of our country, as this railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.”

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Continue reading “#MakeTodayBetterIn4Words”

Steps to follow…

For a long time, I regretted that I did not talk to my great grandmother about her life.  She was 99 years old when she passed away, and while  alzheimers ate away at the last few years of her life, I still had plenty of opportunity to talk to her.   The thought that this sweet lady would have firsthand accounts of history never even occurred to me.

UnknownI have thought about this regret at various times in my life, and it typically makes me pretty sad.  Her birthday is St Patricks day, so thoughts of her came to mind again.  This year though, I found that my perspective had changed.  You see, what I finally realized was what she did teach me was worth much more than what she didn’t.  It was pretty funny, because I have always known what an example of love she was to all who knew her.  This year though, I realized why everyone loved her so much.  Well, it was because she loved us!   Warts and all!   She loved us all so much, that we couldn’t help but love her back! Continue reading “Steps to follow…”

Once a foreigner…..

t715-00280657I have been sick for the past two weeks, and have found it hard to sit and write for extended periods of time.  So for some reason, this previous blog post popped into my head, and I decided to share it today.  I am hoping the coughing ends soon, but I think this blog post helps me remember who God wants me to be in these very noisy days.

 

During the week, I sat down with my husband and watched a PBS special on “Italian Americans”.  Being one myself, I was interested to watch the story of the Italian immigrants who started to come to this county in the late 1800’s.  Those who came to America faced prejudice, racism and a hard life in the midst of the industrial revolution.  They came though, for a better life!  While it was a hard road, they travelled it with their families, community and their faith.       I totally enjoyed the program, but I was not really encouraged by it until Saturday.  That was when I took some time to study for our Sunday lesson.

As I read through the story of the ten lepers that Jesus heals, I was struck by the one who came back to thank him.  He was a Samaritan, a foreigner.  In the Bible account, he is the only one who comes back and gives praise to God.  It is interesting that the author of the story points out the difference of his nationality.  I believe that may speak to the prejudice in Jesus’ own time.  It is the same prejudice that affected my forefathers, and the same prejudice I see affecting people today.  It was in that connection, that I heard the quiet whisper of encouragement.

What was so encouraging about seeing that prejudice has not gone away?  Well it was Jesus example.  Instead of bypassing those who were different, He chose to heal and forgive.   He did not pay attention to the prejudice of the day whether it was based on race, nationality, sin, religion or class.   Jesus looked past all these things to the actual person.  It was exciting, even liberating.  For me, it showed a freedom to ignore the classifications that society puts on people.  The freedom to treat everyone as if they were just like me, because they are, even if they don’t seem like it.    That is the freedom that Jesus gives us.  To accept the foreigner as if he were family.

And yes….that is the manifest for my Great Grandfather when he came to this country in 1898.  

 

 

Good News, Great Joy, All People!

images-2.jpegSo to make a long story short, I have a bit of a new purpose statement for this new year.  It really kind of came to me a little before Christmas, and it seemed to make an impression for multiple reasons.  I actually could not get away from it because it is a bible verse that is part of the traditional Christmas story.  Wow…this short story seems to be getting longer by the minute!

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

I was looking for a verse to make some wall art, and this one popped onto my radar.  I knew it would be awesome, so I would use “Glad Tidings, Great Joy” on a picture.  It is actually one of my favorite verses out of the Christmas story, because of a church production that I was in many moons ago.  One of the children said the line, like sixteen times, over the two weeks that the show ran. “I bring you glad tidings of great joy!”  Every time he said that part, we laughed.  The way he emphasized the words was so …joyful!  To this day, the memory still makes me happy.

This time though, I was struck by a different note in the verse.  It was the end that seemed to jump off the page and stick in my mind. I totally remember the “glad tidings and great joy” part, but I didn’t remember hearing the “all people”? At that point, I was thinking that something important was missing from my project.  The “all people” was not something that I felt could be left off the photo.

images.pngWhy?  Well maybe it was a reaction to this whole year of anger, fear, with so much talking and not enough loving.  In this past year of election noise, I wondered if that proclamation of “good news” was clearly heard?  Did I see “great joy” when I looked in the mirror?  Or in the church pews?  And were “all people” able to hear and see those things?  We may have thought so, but in watching and listening, I really wasn’t so sure?

Continue reading “Good News, Great Joy, All People!”

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