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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 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”

Only passing through…

I saw a tweet the other day by Christine Caine; “Don’t get stuck somewhere you should only be passing through.”

It immediately struck a chord with me, because that is a fear of mine.  Here I am trying to become a serious, or at least a somewhat serious writer, but will that truly ever happen for me?  Will I ever be able to write something that makes people think, or something that speaks truth into their lives?  That encourages them or even makes them laugh?  I have no idea, but the path I am on means that I am at least going to try.    There is a fear though, that I will get discouraged and stop putting myself out there.  Why? Well, because I have done that before.  I might get sidetracked, and yes I have been there too.  It reminded me of a favorite bible character that I have.

You see, he took his family out of the place that they had been living.  That place was Ur.  The story says that they were traveling to Canaan but they stopped at Haran and settled there.  No friends, this is not about Abraham, but of his father Terah.

Why did the tweet lead me to this man?  Well I will tell you.  I know I am taking a little license, but it seems to make sense to me.  I imagine that God may have told Terah to go to Canaan.  Maybe this whole story of God calling out a people was going to start, not with Abraham, but with his father?   Maybe, for whatever reason, he stopped in Haran and never got to the place where God had called him.

Are my assumptions true?  I have no idea, but I still look to Terah as an example of what I do not want to be.  He was on his way to a destination, and got sidetracked.  The why’s and how’s are unknown, but what we do know is that he never got there.  That is not how I want to be, but I fear that is how I will be.  I see the path, but I don’t really know where I will end up.  It scares me, because it means trying to be successful at something that is very subjective. Truthfully, you all may find out how really very stupid I am.  Or at least, that is the fear.

Well since I am not supposed to be “fearing” anything, per my pastor last week, I guess I will stick to the path.  Truthfully, I really don’t want to miss out on what may be at the end of the journey.  I really don’t want to be Terah.  I want to make it to the place where God calls me.  Like the quote that started all of this, I don’t want to get stuck somewhere I should only be passing through.

 

 

A little indignity.

Not a very auspicious start when you miss writing on the first day of Lent.  Not being Catholic, I do not have the traditional teachings of Lent to fall back on, so I have just try to listen and see how God moves my heart.  So this year I heard someone say that the forty days is in commemoration of Jesus time in the desert.  I don’t remember hearing that before, or if I did it did not hit me like it did this year.  Why?  Well it had to do with a conversation I was having with God earlier today.

unknown-2I was praying, because I knew I would need help writing for a couple of hours today.  I totally have ADHD and while writing is the way that I believe I am supposed to communicate, it is still really hard for me to do it.  I get distracted so quickly and easily.  Anyway, back to my conversation coming home.  I had gone for a walk to the bank, and knew I wanted to write when I got home, but I wasn’t sure what I would write about.  Then my mind started to wander back to my lovely surroundings, and the quick trip I took to the mountains with my hubby. Continue reading “A little indignity.”

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!”

New Year…still speaking

images-1So today is January 4th and an old blog post showed up from 2014 on my FB feed.  You know, one of those things they bring up every once in a while that you can share?   I never get my old posts coming up like that, so I decided to read it and see what my thoughts were back then.  As I opened and read the post, I knew it was what I was supposed to read this morning.

I was actually reading a little bit this morning on a very popular Christian blogger/author who is taking some hits recently.  I had been reading someone’s critique of her, and I really had to disagree with him on a point.  Why?  It was because I felt he was splitting hairs over semantics.  What was it about?  Well it was about how God speaks to us.

Since that is pretty much the reason I write, I immediately took notice.  Now his premise was that God has said everything He was going to say in the bible, and I agree with that.  He also said that looking anywhere else for God’s voice was wrong.   Well, I don’t go looking for God’s voice necessarily, but I seem to hear him throughout my day, and it may start with anything.  Reading my bible, a sermon, a prayer or something that I witnessed in my everyday life.  It could come from TV, a movie or something that is happening around me.  It typically doesn’t stop there, as these things come in waves.  I will then hear that same message again from various sources, and when I see that, I start to listen.  Then I start to ask God to clarify what I am hearing.  Is that God speaking to me?  Yes!  I believe so.

Is it something that will contradict scripture?  It never has.  Is it some kind of new revelation?  NO.  It is typically the same old reminders to be who He has called me to be.  They are usually the reminders of His presence, His care for me and further encouragement to finally do the things I already know I should do.   So this morning along with this post I have included the previous posting. Continue reading “New Year…still speaking”

Election Fog….

imagesSo it is the day after the election.  For us here in Central California, it is a foggy day.  Now when I first moved to Lemoore, people warned me about the fog, but I didn’t really listen.  I mean, I grew up in San Jose, where fog would roll in from the Santa Cruz mountains.  How much worse could it be?  Well, it is like night and day!  The Tule fog in the valley can be truly dangerous.  After being in both types of fog, it seems to me that the fog here goes all the way to the ground.  Driving in it is awful because you can only see so much in front of you, and then you cannot even see the lines to get a good bearing as to where you are. And at nighttime?  Well to tell you the truth, after the Christmas in 2005 when the fog rolled in while I was shopping, and then I could not find my car in the parking lot?   I don’t really drive in the fog at night.

Today though was not a horrible fog day.   It was patchy, and did not go all the way down to the ground.  As I walked though, it was interesting to look ahead and see how the fog distorted what was ahead of me.  Now I walk the same way pretty much every day, so I know what is to come, even before seeing it.

The barber shop is always open, people are stopping by the ATM at the bank, there is a clock in town that has the wrong time and kids are on their way to school.  There is so much that I expect to see when I walk, and even in the fog, I know it will be there.

So as I was walking, I thought that the fog was a good analogy for the near future.  We know some of what to expect, but there are some details that are a little hazy the farther we look ahead.  In the distance we can see things moving, but we don’t necessarily see the details or how it may all fit together.

We don’t have the whole picture.

That may make some of us uncomfortable, and others downright scared.  Then there are others that think they know what is ahead.  They will travel under the assumption that things will be just how they expect.  They may or may not be surprised by what they find.

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For me, I am optimistic.  Is it because my candidate won?  No.  It is because I have used the only power that I have in politics.  And that my friends, was my vote.  I did what I was supposed to do in the election process, and I cast my vote in the best way I knew how.  In that sense, I am content, but my job is not done.

Today is another day where I have the opportunity to live like I say I believe.  This is really where I think we have the most impact on our communities, the country and the world.

So today is really just another day.  No better or worse than yesterday.  Today is a day where I am going to try and continue to live out who God made me to be.

I want to love God, and love my neighbor more than myself.  To seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.

 

 

 

 

Choose to Influence

influence-graphic-300x169“10 Historical Records That Tell Another Side of Bible Stories”, was the name of the article that showed up in my Yahoo news feed this morning. The article went through ten Bible stories, and matched them with some historical accounts that were written by non-biblical sources.  The one that caught my eye was the story of Esther, and the historical account of the man most likely that was her husband, King Xerxes I of Persia.

What do you wish? Whatever it is, I will give it to you, even if it is half of my kingdom!” Esther 7:2 NLT

When Esther goes in to see the king, she is greeted warmly and he is delighted to see her.  How do we know?  Well, it is because he says that he will “give her anything up to half of the kingdom.”  So I think we can safely assume that he was glad she was there.  As her story goes, she asks him to a banquet, where there will be a guest list of three.  Her intention is to use her influence to save her people.  After the banquet, she invites him to another with the same three attendees, the king, herself and her enemy Haman.

When she had shown care, kindness and hospitality to not only her husband but her enemy also, the king asks her again “What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”  Talk about influence!  It was then our story comes to its conclusion.  Queen Esther unmasks Haman’s cruel plot to kill all of the Jews and the King is outraged.  Long story short, Haman is executed and the Jewish people are safe.

As I read the story, I thought about the position of influence God had given her, and how she used it for good.  My morning thoughts did not stop there though.  The King’s statement sounded familiar, like I had heard it somewhere else.  I looked and confirmed that there is another record in the bible where another person had said pretty much the same thing.  Where influence was used, but the outcome was markedly different.

“Ask me for anything you like,” the king vowed, “even half of my kingdom, and I will give it to you!”  Mark 6:23 NLT

 

Now these words were spoken by King Herod.  He too was at a banquet, but this one was very different from the one Esther had given. There were many people attending, and that included Queen Herodias and her daughter.  It is written that at this banquet, the daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod.  When she was done, Herod told her to make her request known.

Again, another woman, another banquet, another King with ultimate power.  What would she use this great moment to ask for?  The power of influence right then is staggering.  He was surrounded by people that would be a witness to whatever she asks, and they would then be looking to Herod to grant that request.  There was only one problem.  Someone else had influence over this young woman, her mother Herodias.  She went and asked her mother what should she request?  Herodias’ fatal answer meant death for John the Baptist.

I know most of us may never have that kind of history making influence, but that does not let us off the hook.  While our circles of influence may seem small, how we use it can still have far reaching effects.  So it is important to ask, how do I use my influence?

This morning as I think of the continuing message series about mercy I am hearing at church, I know that influence is part of that equation.  Where do I have influence?  How can I use my influence to show God’s mercy to someone else?  Maybe even more important, will I use my influence for my own promotion or will I use it for someone else’s benefit?

We all have influence in various circles in our lives, through work, church, family and friends.   Sometimes we may have a little, and at other times much more, but I believe that one thing is true.  God does not give me influence to squander only on myself, but to help those around me.  And while I may not feel that I have much, I do know that the right thing for me is to advocate for those who may have even less.  Small amount or not, I believe God gives each of us just the right amount.  All it has to be is enough, for “such a time as this”.

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