Thursday, January 14, 2010

She Gets It

She's got it. Jessica, that is, my daughter, the oldest of 6. She is wise beyond her years and more spiritually mature than some adults I know. This year for Christmas one present we put into Jesus' stocking was to "memorize a verse each week." Hopefully, when 2011 rolls around we will have 52 verses hidden in our hearts. So the first week was Psalm 111:10 which says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." She was asking me what that verse meant about "fearing" the Lord. I tried to explain, as best I could in human terms, that the word "fear" in this text doesn't mean we are supposed to be afraid or scared of God (although I KNOW we would be shaking in our boots if he suddenly appeared before us). It is similar to a "fear" that means to "respect" or "honor" someone; you are holding that person up in great value when you "fear" them.  I hoped it all made sense to her.  She seemed to kind of get it and we moved on to a different conversation.

On this particular day,  the kids had a half a day of school, Jessica got home before everyone else, so she and I sat down to eat some leftover lasagna. During our conversation Jessica admitted to me how terrible she feels for the kids over in Haiti right now and how she wishes she could help, "but I have to go to school," she says. She's right, of course, school does await. Yet in the depths of her heart, with hundreds of miles and and an ocean between them, she feels pain for the hurting people. Not only does she hurt, but she also wants to help in some way. So we talked about how prayer is always one way to reach out and also donations to great organizations like Samaritan's Purse are other ways we can extend the love of Christ. It is obvious that compassion is one of Jessica's gifts, it is sweet to see that gift blooming in her. To top the whole conversation off she says, "is that why you are always telling us we should be thankful that we have food to eat and stuff like that." Ding ding ding. We have a winner. She is getting it.

Later that evening, Jessica and I were on our way to run some errands before the night's end. We picked up our conversation where we left it at lunchtime. We were finished talking about Haiti for the moment.  Now she wanted to know about Christians getting killed in other countries. In what countries did they kill Christians and who who would do such a thing? She asks a lot of questions like this for just being a 12 year-old girl that is supposed to be caught up in fashion, boys, and herself. So then a bigger question comes out: "If God told you to move to a country where you might be killed for being a Christian, would you go there?" I paused for a moment and told her that yes I would go there. She says, "yeah, I would too." As I gave her a squeeze on the knee and some tears filled my eyes, I said, "I know you would do that, you are a good girl."

The spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is deep within my daughter. She never could have uttered those words if He weren't living in her and guiding her to say them. What 12 year-old says, yep, I'd die for Jesus, just like He did for me. I'm not ashamed. Wow! I learned so much in such a short conversation. My prayer for Jesssica is that God will continue to guard her heart as she matures into a young lady, He will give her unlimited wisdom as she learns to fear the Lord, and that she will be a witness to other young girls that you can be on fire for God at any age.

Let it be a lesson to me, Lord, to not be ashamed of you, but to let my light burn bright as I have been taught by my daughter, Jessica.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Valuable? Yes You Are!

When was the last time you lost something: money, jewelry, a tool, a shoe, keys, important paper(s), or the remote control?  All of these different items, at times, are valuable to us. And who puts the value on each one of these things? You and I do. If we have some how lost a $20 bill, we all would be determined to find it, wouldn't we? Ladies, so many of us having lost a ring or earring, we look EVERYWHERE until we've covered all the house, do we not? Even for our children we are continuously looking for library books, homework papers, shoes, toys, pacifiers, and lost socks. Men, isn't it true that when you need that one particular tool, be it a hammer, plyers, tape measure, screwdriver, it often times has to be FOUND first before you can get your job done. Neither can we forget the ever elusive PIN # or password that comes in and out of our minds when it is so badly needed.

Why is it so frustrating when we can't find our lost items? It comes back to VALUE. Everything has a value that you and I have assigned to it. Things do have value, but people have a greater value.

In the Gospel of Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells the parable of the lost coin. Do you know the story? The lady has ten silver coins and she loses one. She lights a lamp, sweeps the house, and searches carefully until she finds it. Finally, she finds the coin. She calls all her friends and neighbors together to rejoice with her. Today we would be more apt to call, email, or text our friends and family to share our good news.  Hooray, Yippee, and smiley faces floating from phone to phone would be more likely the scenario in our day.  Nevertheless, celebrating the one coin being found is signifcant whether it be in Bible times or in present time. But WHY is it so significant?

In verse 10, Jesus tells us that the coin is symbolic of a sinner who repents. This one coin was highly valuable to the woman who had lost it. Each individual is precious (highly valuable) to God. He grieves over every sinner that will not repent and yet rejoices over the repentant sinner who is found and welcomed into the kingdom.

How valuable do you think you are? Satan would like you to believe that you are worthless and good for nothing. Don't believe it. He is a liar. Jesus knows how valuable you are! You are priceless. That's why you were paid for with a price, the blood of Jesus! Jesus could have taken Satan up on his offer of having all the "authority and splendor" (Lk.4:6) of the kingdoms of the world, but Jesus refused because He knows how valuable YOU are to God the Father. You and I are the lost coin. We are valuable to God.

So here is the million dollar question:
When will you start to see how valuable you are to God?
You will begin to see YOUR value when you STOP living for yourself and START living for Jesus. 

Just do it. No excuses.  Live for Jesus and don't apologize.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's it Going to be Like in Heaven

What's it going to be like in heaven?

Don't you love those kinds of questions? Well, um...uh, I know that there are going to be streets made of gold.

(pause) (pause) (pause)

Mansions. There will be mansions there.

"Hey, Honey! Can you come in here for a minute. Let's ask your Papi, he'll know!"

Hmm....let's see, what else...oh yeah, you will get to see Jesus too! That will be fun!

Questions like this make me wish I would have paid more attention in church or anywhere heaven was being taught and I was in earshot. Thankfully this question came from my 4 year-old daughter and not some person that was challenging my faith. Little did I know that my baby girl was asking all these questions in anticipation of one thing. She was thinking about asking Jesus into her heart.

I am excited to say she did ask Jesus into her heart in July 2009. She simply laid on her back, pulled her knees up and hugged them tightly with her arms, then closed her eyes. After she did a quick rock back and forth in this bodily position, she then stood to say that she was all done. Her 11 year old sister asked her what she was announcing to "be all done with?" She had just asked Jesus into her heart, of course! Why else would she have done all that rocking and getting into a ball position on her back for! Cute as it was, we also chose do it the more traditional with an out loud prayer and all. = ) I know God heard her silent (inside the heart) prayer. I was just being a MOM, wanting to make sure everything was "just right."

But before Lucia made her decision, she (weeks in advance) was asking questions about eternity. The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts. In other words, we don't need anyone to tell us that we are going to live forever, he already told us that when we were created; he etched that idea into our very being, our soul. In fact, everyone is going to live forever, it's our decision on where we want to spend eternity. God doesn't decide for us. We choose! So anyway, it shouldn't amaze me that my little girl is asking questions about eternity, but yet it still does.

One morning Lucia walked into the kitchen, she announced that this was NOT the day that she was going to heaven. And then she went on to inform me that we would all go together on another day....but not today! At first I laughed, but then started to get a little worried. She was talking like heaven was so close and in the near future. Yikes! But honestly, why should that worry me? I'm a Christian. Shouldn't I be looking forward to spending eternity in heaven with my Savior, instead of dredding it? Ok, so I like my life down here. I don't want change. I don't want to leave my family behind. So with this kind of an attitude, how do I express to my daughter that heaven is a wonderful place and we all should be excited about going there?

I have decided that it all comes down to an issue of faith. Do I really believe what the Bible says about heaven? Do I even KNOW what heaven is going to be like? We can search the scriptures and get some knowledge. We can ask the Holy Spirit to teach us in this area as we read His Word. My final answer IS absolutely, positively YES. God's Word is TRUTH. I believe every word of it. Not that He had too, but God in His infinite grace, has proved over and over to me, that He is God and His Word is true. I no longer am holding on to the coat tails of my parent's faith, it is mine now. God is very real to me.

Because God IS real to me, the Holy Spirit gives me a greater awareness that there is an enemy out there that is telling us lies that heaven isn't so great, that we shouldn't look forward to going there. He wants us to focus on Earth, where we are now, what we are doing now, what we have now, what we could lose if we go to heaven now. Now, now, now. The Bible tells us to meditate on eternal things, not on NOW things.

Hard as it may be, I've got to change my thinking. Child-like faith or adult-like doubt? I can't see heaven, can't touch it, can't smell it, but I know it's there, because God's Word says it and I believe it.

All it took for me, was the faith of a child, my daughter, to bring eternity into fine focus for me. She seemed to be looking forward to heaven, when I wasn't. All the things of God are too great for us to understand. So He tells us to come as a child and believe what He tells us; and yet there are other times when God allows the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to whisper a new revelation into our spirit. If you have ever had that happen to you....God speaking straight into you...then you know what I'm talking about. He gives you a confidence that you have never had before, He gives you the answer you've been looking for, He answers the questions you've been asking yourself all along, He speaks to you and it is unmistakeably Him. That is what I believe heaven will be like. When we get there, we'll learning something new about God, second by second for all eternity. Absolutely incomprehensible!

Oh, and one more thing....
Note to devil: this Earth is not my home, tell your lies to all your demons, I'm looking forward to eternity in heaven without YOU!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kitchen First

The other day my family and I were cleaning the house. It was a Saturday and I really don't like spending my Saturdays cleaning....who does, right? But because the whole family was getting involved I didn't want to spoil this unusual happening from continuing on, so I just went with the flow and kept cleaning too. I vacuumed, cleaned the basement bathroom (yuck!), worked on laundry, helped my daughter clean and reorganize her room, all the while the kitchen sat there left untouched.

Although I was cleaning other rooms and kept significantly busy around the house, my mind would often go to the kitchen: I wonder if anyone has thought to clean the kitchen for me, that would be so nice. Then I would try to reason with myself: look, you are making a lot of progress around here, you don't have to go clean the kitchen, just leave it. So that's what I did. I left the kitchen dirty!

Later that night when I was trying to enjoy my clean house, I sensed somewhat of an unrestful, nagging feeling tugging at me from inside. There was that voice again: hey the kitchen is still a mess, you should probably go in and clean it up. And then I'd answer myself back: no, I've done enough today. I'll leave it for tomorrow. It was the perfect response from a procrastinator.

So I did leave the kitchen for Sunday. The dirty plates greeted me in the morning with all the crusty yummies left on their bottoms. The glasses with unreachable dried milk rings also chimed in with a sarcastic "good morning, aren't you glad you waited for today to clean us?" And the worst are the strategically placed sticky spots on the floor that make me absolutey irate when I discover I've stepped on one. Oh the joys of procrastination, right? You would think that all of this would disgust me so much that upon waking up on Sunday morning, I would rush into the kitchen ready to wash the dishes and mop the floor. Right? Wrong! It wasn't until Sunday (the Sabbath, the day of rest, I should have been resting) afternoon that I caved in and finally did the dirty deed.

So here is my question. Why does the kitchen have to be cleaned to make me feel like I've actually accomplished "cleaning the house"? My whole house could be in disarray, but if I have those dishes DONE and if I can walk on the floor WITHOUT sticking to it, I feel so much happier, at peace and have a sense of accomplishment that I did not have before when the kitchen was a disaster.

This is my answer. You know how people say the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where everyone gathers (whether you want them there or not), it is where the food is stored and prepared for us to receive nourishment for our bodies. It is probably the only room that gets cleaned daily (or almost daily in my house). It is the center of our home and of our lives. We always seem to hang out in the kitchen, especially if mom just went to the store!

So let's play a little comparison game. God and Kitchens. What if you leave God until last, don't spend any time with Him, tell Him you will get to Him later, until finally circumstances in your life can no longer make God wait. There is something magical about having a clean kitchen and there is something supernatural about making your relationship with God the number one priority. When you do either of the two, life just seems to be more peaceful, more in order. It doesn't even matter if the rest of the house is a mess or the rest of your life is a mess; if you put God first, make him your friend rather than a stranger, you WILL have peace no matter what disastrous storms may come and go.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Foreign people fascinate me. Their language, culture, customs, superstitions, food, how they came to the U.S. I love it all. That is why I married my hunk of a foreigner husband, Mario (my little Guatemalteco....that means my little Guatemalan guy). Your IQ is increasing as we speak. I'm telling you...y'all are going to learn something from this blog...just stay with me here.

Now back to the point!
Christian people fascinate me too.
We have our own language: at least we Pentacostals do. Don't freak out on me or I'll have to start writing in "tongues" too. AH!
We have our own customs: baptism, communion, splitting churches.
We have our own superstitions: maybe traditions would be a better word.
We have our own food: potluck anyone?
And we have our own "come to Jesus" stories; which we like to refer to as testimonies.

If you detect a hint of sarcasm, I don't apologize. The church "building" is not one of my favorite places to be these days. Don't get me wrong, I love the people, but what I don't love is the emphasis that we as christians put on our buildings and denominations and traditions. We have forgotten about the PEOPLE. For God so loved the "building" that he gave His only (screech!). That's not how it goes and you know it. So who did He die for. The world, right? Too many of us fail to realize that the church is NOT a building. I know! It's shocking to many of us, but pull yourself together and keep reading because this next bit is going to knock your socks off!

*******************News Flash: YOU are the church!**********************

Make eye contact. Give a Hug. Make a meal. Pick a flower. Send a note. Take a walk. Lend an ear. Make a friend. Be a friend. Close your mouth. Give a smile. Shake a hand. Lay down your judgments. Stretch your limits. Increase your knowledge. Pray for understanding. Ask for wisdom. Be the church.