Should God Get Voicemail?

I visited a new non-denominational church last Sunday. As we entered, each worshipper took a bulletin that informed us of church activities and the order of worship for the day.

Included in the bulletin was a long list of prayer requests. I counted 28. All prayer requests were on behalf of a loved one, or someone needing spiritual guidance. I read only one request for guidance for the person actually making the request. Virtually none of the requests were asking for material objects, or even for financial help. I feel that the nature of the requests and the abundance spoke of the true nature of the congregation.

As I read the prayer requests, my thoughts drifted to some of my own requests of God. Some of my requests were in the form of actual, word-inspired prayer, and some were prayers of the heart, which literally everyone makes, whether we are conscious of this or not.

God certainly has His work cut out for Him–hearing billions of requests each and every day from the inhabitants of Earth, and perhaps elsewhere in the universe. How does God keep it all straight? Sue is asking for this, and Jack is asking for that, multiplied at least a billion times each day, every hour, every minute, every second.

Yet, we have a personal and caring God who hears each request, and responds according to His will. Those of us who have lived on Earth for some time know that His answer may not be immediate, may be a different answer than we are expecting, and may, and I assert, usually is, indirect.

I also visited this non-denominational church’s Wednesday evening Bible class. Wouldn’t you know it, that evening’s study was about God’s answering prayer. We studied 1 John, 5:14-15. The verses speak for themselves, but I will make it easy and copy the verses here from my Amplified Bible:

“And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the request made of Him.”

I have nothing else to add to this beautiful scripture. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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For Our Children’s Children . . .

Most Americans learned in school about Nathan Hale. He is said to have been a spy for George Washington’s Continental Army. Nathan Hale was hanged by the British during the waning days of the Revolutionary War. Nathan Hale is remembered for his famous quote, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” He helped blaze the trail to independence, but was prevented from enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Then, there was Moses. He led our ancestors in Christ out of bondage in Egypt, paving a way to the Promised Land. Moses was prevented from enjoying entry to the Promised Land.

An important aspect of our Christian heritage is Christian martyrdom. From the days of ancient Roman oppression to the modern days of violence against Christians, those who have been willing to stand up for Christ under the most severe conditions have done so with faith–and a hope that those who come after will enjoy a taste of that “Promised Land.”

A few days ago I completed reading the Christian Bible New Testament cover to cover for the fourth time in my lifetime. It has been several years since my last reading, and apparently, I have matured in my Christian walk and in life in general.

The pervasive theme that beaconed to me again and again was the theme of not being satisfied with just the bare knowledge, but how important it is to put my faith to work. That is what the Bible is about. Germinating the seeds that Jesus has sown is our hearts, and patiently experiencing the outpouring of blessings that come as these seeds flourish–truly becoming new creatures in Christ Jesus.

As I have grown in Christ over the years, I hope that I have been an influence on my family, friends and all others with whom I come in contact. I believe I have tried to truly reflect Christ’s mission on Earth.

There is much turmoil in our modern world, everything from terrorism, to earthquakes, to blizzards and floods. But through it all, Christ will prevail. Let us reflect His love and His strength.

The New Testament is not so much about our “behavior,” as it is about the internal growth that can change our behavior, helping to make us true influencers in this world.

We may not fully enjoy this movement toward the “Promised Land” in our own lifetimes, but perhaps, if we have grown and matured in Christ, those around us, and especially those we love will enjoy further progression toward the goal of a Christ-centered world.

Many people working in the mental health field have advised that if an individual is depressed, he ought to try to act like he is not depressed, perhaps learning to discard some of the depression.

It is the same with Christianity. If we currently do not feel the strength of Christ in our lives, perhaps we should act as though we do, teaching ourselves how to connect with God through Christ. (This is not dishonest. Our thoughts and behaviors can have a profound effect on releasing the barriers between ourselves and God.)

Have I been a little preachy? Perhaps, but while I try to avoid preaching, this is what came to mind today, and I figured I would just go ahead with it. Have faith.

Wendy S.

Posted in Art, Bible, Christ, Christianity, God, God's Word, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Life, Modern Christianity, Modern Living, Scripture | 1 Comment

You are a Psychic Healer!

About twenty years ago the company I was working for sent me to Los Angeles for training. In my free time I visited Venice Beach. I saw the “Chainsaw Juggler,” Muscle Beach, and there was a Tarot reader sitting on a blanket along the public pedestrian thoroughfare. I sat down with him, and we had a nice chat. He told me that the card foretold that I was to become a psychic healer. Me? A P-S-Y-C-H-I-C H-E-A-L-E-R? I walked away entertained, as that was all the young man had promised, entertainment.

This week I remembered that conversation. A co-worker’s brother had fallen off a horse and sustained serious injuries. It was apparent that this co-worker was experiencing anguish. I wanted to help. I stopped by the flower shop and purchased an arrangement for this lady. The flowers were purple and the arrangement was adorned with a purple butterfly. I know that purple is her favorite color.

When she came in to work to find the arrangement on her desk, she seemed touched and pleased with my sincere gesture of concern. I could do nothing for her injured brother, but maybe my co-worker was healed, even if just a little, by my kindness.

I am sure that most of us can multiply this kind of gesture, with our prayers and concerns and kindness, a hundred thousand times during our lifetimes. Maybe we all take a turn at being the “Psychic Healer.”

Jesus healed physical illness and injury. Yet, He also healed us emotionally and healed our psyches. All of the parables he spoke pointed to this fact.

And then, after He left this Earth, we had His Holy Spirit, and the Apostle Paul, with all his encouragement and instruction.

Just as it takes more than a surprise flower arrangement to fill the gap we can experience just by virtue of the fact that we live our lives here on Earth, maybe we could all be more aware of the emotional needs of each other. A kind word, a sentiment of encouragement, a small gift. With all these things we can all help heal each other and maybe touch each other with the God-given inspiration that is richly bestowed on us through the Holy Spirit. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Turn the Other Cheek? Peace!

Ahh, the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes’, the Lord’s Prayer. So much is given in this sermon, but so much is asked!

We are asked to give without thanks to charity. We are asked to pray in secret. But most perplexing, we are asked to love and pray for our enemies. Can this all be a mistake?

Smack in the middle of the great Sermon on the Mount, we are told to “turn the other cheek.” If someone strikes us on one cheek, we are instructed to offer the other cheek.

The Sermon on the Mount is a foretaste of Utopia. Utopia, where nothing but goodness matters. Where all His teachings and example come to fruition. The world that God has wanted for us from the beginning.

But, I digress. What about this “turn the other cheek stuff?” What’s that all about? It certainly doesn’t sound like Utopia!

Well the basis for that statement stems from our personal relationship with God, and especially through His son, Jesus, the Christ, who came to us to instruct us in the ways of Utopia and the road to world peace.

“Turn the other cheek” means keep our focus on God, our Father, and not on the one who has done us harm. We are turning the other cheek because it just doesn’t matter if someone strikes on the cheek. We have God for our Father, and consolation (and treasure) in the Kingdom of Heaven. We have a promise of peace through God when we seek Him. That buzzard who stuck us on the cheek has no power over us. We are His, and He is ours. What more could we want.

And with God as our Father, we have at our hand a power greater than any of our enemies could muster. The miraculous love and power of God Himself.

So, what does it matter if someone does us wrong? We will be consoled, and rewarded.

Will there be resentment if we turn the other cheek? Perhaps, but together with the Power of God, we can work through it and overcome any resentment. Have faith.

Wendy S.

P.S. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount can be found in the Christian Bible, New Testament, Book of Matthew

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What Are We Waiting For?

Picture this–a working man and his wife trying to sleep in on Saturday morning. Downstairs their eight children, all in different stages of growth, making a ruckus. Saturday morning cartoons blaring on TV. The volume pumped way up with rock n’ roll on the stereo. Some kids were crying, some were screaming and some were fighting. All were loud and out of control. Suddenly my father tromps to the top of the stairs and shouts angrily, “DON’T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE!”

H-m-m-m. Don’t make me come down there. What would happen if he came down? The consequences were chilling.

I was looking at some old photos today, and that scene came to mind. It reminded me of something.

Humanity sometimes acts like a commotion in a large family. What if our Father in Heaven came down in the form of the second coming of Jesus? What would He find? What would He do?

A few months ago I completed reading the entire Christian Bible Old Testament cover to cover. I had read it piece-meal over the years, but this time I trudged through every word.

I came away with the understanding that the concept therein was actually quite simple as it permeated all the chapters. If mankind learned to live by the precepts God set out, then we would enjoy organic and miraculous blessings. If we did not live by His Law, then bad things would happen to us, maybe individually, and maybe collectively–perhaps as a result of our own failings or maybe in the form of Divine intervention.

Perhaps it is time for Him to “come down here.” But the concept found in the Old Testament is still the same. As we have trekked through life, have we improved? Be it individually or collectively? Have we engaged our lives with God and His precepts, especially through Jesus Christ? Then, I believe that when He finally does come down here, we have nothing to fear. We are at peace with God.

As for this world, it is for His Children a little like the pie fight in the movie, “The Great Race,” where pies are bombarding everyone else, but the gleaming protagonist, Leslie, is spared a pie in the face. (Or maybe he finally gets one at the end of the scene, but only for a laugh.)

The world has waited long enough. Let me remind you of Revelation 22:17 on to the end of the Bible. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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Better Than Paul?

I have been reflecting on the Pauline letters and how they are relevant today. Christians have had these important guideposts and the example of Paul and his cohorts for two thousand years. It seems to me that mankind, through the exposure to these insights, should have progressed in making the peace in the world that God intended through His sending His son to save us from ourselves.

Let’s reflect a little through the ages. The Bible seems to begin somewhere during the Iron Age. The people depicted in the Bible were largely nomadic, settling for short times to feed their flocks of goats and sheep. Then they would move on to the next grazing land. There were many wars between tribes, a propensity toward assuring a tribe’s ‘pedigree’, or their genes. Some of which would have enabled mankind to progress in the midst of hostile territory and a movement toward morality and peace.

Fast forward, and I do mean fast, to Paul’s time– then to the movement toward civilization in Europe, and finally the civilization of the world, including the Western Hemisphere.

What has changed? Has man remained static? Or has there been a progression in morality and a movement toward peace?

During the 1950’s people attended church in droves. Some would argue that there was resurgence in religion, and people prayed and stayed together. Yet, a black family could not take a walk in a predominantly white community without police scrutiny. It was commonplace for an employer to expect sexual favors just for hiring a young woman. (Yes, I have heard many such stories.) Men would spend hours in a tavern after work instead of going home to his family. (Also commonplace in that era.) But on Sunday, everyone went to church.

Fast forward to today. Race and sex bigotry are generally not tolerated. People have a fair shake at not being jailed for their beliefs. Child abuse is not tolerated in any community in the U.S. Yes, progress has been made.

The Apostle Paul, through the inspiration and wisdom of God, taught us the ways of Christianity. Perhaps, not perfect, but the best God could offer us at the time.

Through our thoughts and actions, we create our own worlds. For the most part, I choose the world of Paul. Have faith.

Wendy S.

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