Category: Resurrection


shamrock-wallpaper-for-pc_1152x864_7735331“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”  – Proverbs 13:12

How often do we settle into a routine, turn the volume down on our hopes and dreams, and brace ourselves to live life as usual?  We believe in God and His Word and that someday in the far off future, He will deliver on His promises.  I know I have.  Five years ago I surrendered myself to this way of thinking.  Both of my parents had become critically ill within months of each other, and although I desperately prayed and believed for a miracle, God took each of them home instead.  During this time, I was in a relationship that I truly believed was an answer to prayer and to bring comfort,  but it only added to the hurt and heartache I was already going through.  So I had reasoned that in the Age to Come, I would  see the promises of God fulfilled in my life and not a moment before.  I knew God loved me and was good because I could sense His presence in my life. I knew God could answer prayers at any time, as I had seen in the lives of others and heard in their testimonies, but year after year when life became a cycle of work, sleep, work, sleep, church, work, sleep, work, sleep, church…with my prayers seemingly unanswered, I stopped expecting to see God ever move in any major way in my life.  Little did I know that during that time, God was setting things up to blindside me with a HUGE, Over-the-Top blessing!

I’ll never forget Thanksgiving of 2013.  I was sitting in a Cracker Barrel restaurant by myself, eating my holiday meal.  My family lived very far away and my friends were celebrating with their families and relatives.  I wasn’t sad to be alone or anything like that, I had simply accepted that this is how my life was.  Had anyone said to me that day that I would spend next year’s Thanksgiving Day, sitting in a living room on the other side of the world, drinking Turkish coffee with a group of some of the most incredible, wonderful people you could ever meet, I would have looked at them like they had lost all sense of reality.  Yet, that’s exactly what happened!

A few weeks into the 2014 year, I decided to attend a Missions Meeting at church.  They would be talking about the various trips where they planned to send teams  I wanted to see if there would be any affordable trips to a Latin American country that coincided with my summer break from school.  I had gone on missions trips many years ago in the past, which led me to major in Spanish in college and become a Bilingual Teacher.  There weren’t any.  I was a little disappointed, but continued to listen about the other trips in the fall.  As soon as they mentioned the  details of the trip to Israel, I felt a spark of excitement on the inside, as if I had suddenly come to life!  It had been many years since I last felt that way, and it was incredible!  I knew it would be nearly impossible to get the time off from school, especially during one of the busiest times of the year.  And yet this feeling that I was supposed to go, superseded all of the many reasons “of why I shouldn’t bother trying to go”  playing out in my mind.

20141123_153048I picked up the application as soon as they were made available.  I held on to it, wondering how I could approach my boss about this.  The trip was scheduled to return after Thanksgiving and Kindergarten would be gearing up for standardized testing.  That meant that I would be gone during the test preparation time and return just a couple of days before testing started.  Then it was announced that the Stanford would be replaced by the Iowa test in our school next year, and there wasn’t any indication of when it would take place!  That announcement was by no doubt, in my favor!  As the due date drew close, I was still trying to think of a way to bring up the trip, but then the perfect segue into the topic opened up at our Family Science Night.  My colleague and I had chosen to present the experiment in how to make an egg float to the top.  It was an experiment regarding the density of water.  My principal came in the classroom to observe how our experiment was going and began asking questions.  As I answered his questions I thought to myself that now would be a great time to mention the trip, but how??  As he was wrapping up the conversation he mentioned how our project explained why everything floats in the  Dead Sea.  BINGO!  There it was!  As he was turning, I said “Speaking of the Dead Sea, I wanted to talk to you about this opportunity that I have…”   Even though he didn’t give me a solid  yes, he encouraged me to go ahead and get the application in before the deadline.  With that, I began my adventure.

I got the application filled out and turned in just in the nick of time.   I then had to wait to see if I would get called for an interview.  Weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was not selected and felt disappointed.  After I had finally given up, I received a call a few days later to contact them if I was in the building to conduct the interview that was scheduled that day.  After combing through my inbox, I saw the email informing me of the date and time of the interview, and I had missed it!  How could I have let this happen?    I was closing out the school year and didn’t check my personal email.  I sent a message back explaining what had happened and asked for another interview, which thankfully was granted.  The interview seemed to go well, but again it was time to wait.  I got the  call a week later that I was selected.  I was beyond excited!

20141125_114137I really felt that the Holy Spirit helped me to get to the first meeting!  I had the wrong date written down in my calendar.  Our team leader sent a text to remind us about the meeting that morning.  She had my home phone listed as my cell phone.  For the first, last and only time ever, I received the message on my landline.  I scrambled to get ready and go, thanking God the whole time,  that the text came through on that phone and not my cell phone.  I  often wait until later in the day to check my cell phone for messages and would have missed the meeting entirely.  When I got to the church, the 11:00 service was letting out.  I had to park in a garage about a block away which made me late.  As I hurried into the church and in the area that we were to meet, no one was there.  The meeting was held in a conference room in which you needed to be escorted by someone with authorization.  I turned on my cell phone to notify the team leader that I was there, but my battery was dead!  I couldn’t believe it I stood there not knowing what to do and started praying for a way to get there.  Within five minutes, I noticed a female custodian heading in that direction.  I went over to her and let her know that I was there for an Israel trip meeting and before I could ask if she could let someone from the team know that I was there, she simply took me to the area and let me in with her security pass and rushed away.   I thanked her at the time, but I was so very grateful that I wanted to again express my appreciation after the meeting was over, since I knew this wasn’t ordinarily done, but I couldn’t  find her.  In fact I never saw her again and I sometimes wonder if she was an angel.  Had she not done what she did, I would have left thinking God must not want me to go and pulled myself out of the team.  Whether she was from Heaven or not, she was definitely my angel and I knew God was orchestrating everything!

I arrived and got to meet the other members of my team and was blown away by this great group of ladies.  I couldn’t help but think, “What am I doing here?  These ladies are incredible and so spiritually mature…I’m just the daughter of a factory worker…”  But they made me feel very welcomed and that I was a definitely a part of the team.  We had trainings and scheduled events to take part in leading up to the trip and began to bond as a team.

While preparing for this trip, there were many obstacles that popped up that made it seem like this trip would not take place.  I got a new boss who gave me a bit of a hard time about going in the last week before the trip (even though I talked to her about it when she first arrived on campus), the Iowa testing schedule was announced and Kindergarten would be taking the test after Thanksgiving (same as  the test before);  my position was changed to teach regular Kindergarten instead of Bilingual  in the second week and everything I had was in Spanish (I would have to create all English materials myself) .  The biggest obstacle of all, was that in the summer, Hamas began attacking Israel.  This led to  Israel having to defend itself,  resulting in the One Hundred Day War. This ended before the trip, but tensions were still high.   I won’t even mention the conflict Israel had with the United Nations over whether to lower sanctions against Iran, which  would give them  liberty to progress in their Nuclear Energy Capabilities.  Okay, so I guess I did mention it, but that’s all I’m going to say.

20141128_090530The trip went as smoothly as can be!  We got to see  many of the famous landmarks, hike up Mt. Arbel, sail in the Sea of Galilee, float in  the Dead Sea, pray at the Western Wall, and much more.  My favorite was visiting the Garden of  Gethsemane and  going inside the tomb believed to be where  Jesus was buried –  EMPTY , of course!  We also  got to meet, encourage and bless many wonderful people along the way.  My team members were a major source of inspiration  to me and I learned so much from them!

All of this brings me back  to the verse quoted at the beginning in Proverbs 13:12.  This trip was a dream come true for me.  It woke me up from a deep slumber and revived my spirit  and faith!  God really is good, and He wants to give good things to His children!  When asked by a friend to describe what this whole experience was like, they only words I could use to describe it were I felt like my life  was kissed by Heaven!  If you feel like you’ve been put on a shelf collecting dust, don’t  fall for the lie!  Don’t you dare give up and lose hope!  Wait on God with patience, faith and expectancy!  He has much, much more for you!  If He fulfilled this long time desire of my heart for me, He will  fulfill the desires of your heart as well!

I pray that in this New Year of 2015, your life is kissed by Heaven over and over! God bless you!

shamrock-wallpaper-for-pc_1152x864_7735331Life is full of surprises…Anyone who has experienced life for any length of time is clearly aware of the “suddenlies” that can happen, changing life as he or she knows it forever. Tom Hank’s character in the movie Forest Gump famously quoted “My momma always said ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Indeed, we do not. These surprises can be for the better, bringing joy. Or they can be challenging, a trial that we must face and go through, in order to grow and build character. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we must hold onto our faith and trust, knowing that He has the best plans for our life.

Today is Easter, marking the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, forever conquering sin and death, reconciling us forever with the Father. In the past few days, while observing Passion Week, I think of all the “suddenlies” that took place during the very first one, beginning with Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, while the enthusiastic crowd cheered “Hosanna” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” while spreading out their cloaks and Palm branches before Him. Suddenly, He entered the temple, and angered by those who were taking advantage of earnest Jews trying their best to serve God, He threw over the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. All of this, of course, got the attention of the religious leaders of the law, and the Pharisees, and thus led to the beginning of their questioning of the authority of Jesus. If you went to church today, you most likely heard the events that took place 2000 years ago. There was another lesson while reading about the crucifixion that caught my attention, which involved Peter and his denial of Jesus on that fateful Friday that changed eternity.

What stood out to me, was how Peter reacted to all of the “suddenlies” that took place during that time. Peter was no doubt committed to Jesus. He left everything to follow Jesus as His disciple. He and his brother Andrew were the first to be called. It’s obvious throughout the gospel that Peter was a strong character who was often led by his emotions. He was the first one to declare Jesus the Christ in Mark 8:29, only to take Jesus aside moments later to rebuke Him for talking about what He was to endure. He was responding as any human would, but Jesus strongly rebuked Peter “Get behind me Satan! he said, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men!” in verse 33. Peter got the message, though he didn’t understand.

At the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread and offered the wine, telling the disciples what it symbolized, He to told them that they would all fall away on account of Him, as scripture foretold. Peter assured Jesus that he would never fall away. Even after Jesus told Peter by that very night, before the rooster crows he would deny Jesus three times, Peter declared “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35) I don’t know about you, but I can almost hear the sincerity of Peter’s words, and his desperation of trying to convince Jesus of his commitment to Him. Hours later, what Jesus said would happen came to pass and Peter denied Him three times. It’s not that Peter wasn’t being honest at the time. Peter reacted to the events of Jesus arrest, as any human would. It’s easy to say you’ll “never do this or that” before it happens, but when reality hits, fear is a very powerful force to be reckoned with. Peter was afraid. Even after walking with Jesus for three years, seeing countless miracles and healings, and listening to Jesus’s teaching, Peter could only respond with what was in his heart, his own will and the logic of mortal man.

The good news is, that was only temporary. Peter wouldn’t stay that way, because you see, the next day, Jesus died on the cross. To the things of men, that was terrible, but to the things of God, it was VICTORY! The veil in the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn in half, and man was now reconciled to God. Jesus not only bore the sins of the world at that time, He became sin, causing God the Father to forsake Him. HALLELUJAH! We will never be forsaken by God because of Jesus. We have a relationship with our loving Father, that was only possible through the sacrifice of Jesus. When word got back to Peter that Jesus had risen, he was the first disciple to run to the tomb.  Although John outran him and arrived there first, Peter was the one to enter into the tomb to see the strips of linen lying by themselves, no Jesus in sight, and he left wondering what happened (Luke 24:12). Later that evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples who were behind locked doors in fear of the Jews, and they were all overjoyed!

Jesus appeared to the disciples a third time, after an unsuccessful fishing trip. Jesus called to them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, and they experienced a miraculous catch of fish. After hauling them in, they ate with Jesus, and Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, allowing him to once again declare his love and commitment to Jesus. Jesus said each time to Peter’s response “Feed my sheep.” Each affirmation canceled out Peter’s earlier denial, reinstating Peter and Jesus prophesied how Peter would glorify God in his death. However, Peter once again showed his human spirit by asking about how John would die, which Jesus basically said that wasn’t any of Peter’s business to know. There was still one more “suddenly” that Peter would have to go through, to become all He was meant to become on this earth.

Before Jesus ascended up to Heaven, he instructed the disciples to go and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the days following Jesus’s ascension, Peter stood up among the believers as a leader. They drew lots to replace Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus, and then went to wait in the upper room. It was there, on the day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit arrived like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, baptizing the 120 followers that were gathered there with fire. They began to speak in other tongues, as the Holy Spirit enabled them. Suddenly, Peter was emboldened to speak to a crowd that had gathered due to the commotion. He spoke with the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, and three thousand new believers were added to their number, thus marking the beginning of Christianity.

It was a series of events that occurred 2000 years ago, one day at a time, that made the difference for what the Church is today. We still have future one days that will further impact the world. Suddenly one day, Jesus will come back for the church. In the meantime, in our own lives, we can see the one days that can transform us to becoming more like Jesus — personal “one days” that make a difference in lives today. One encounter with God, and the Holy Spirit can make the hardest heart pliable, the fearful heart bold, and the faint in heart strong. From this point on, this side of the cross, Peter never again fell away from his faith, and carried the message of Jesus Christ, as a rock that the church could be built upon, that the gates of Hell could not prevail against…ever! (Matthew 16:18)

When you pray and seek to be filled with God’s power from on High, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit will empower and equip you, just like Peter, and you will have the ability to overcome anything that comes against you.

If you haven’t first prayed to receive salvation, please pray the following:

Dear Heavenly Father,
I confess that I’m a sinner. I repent of my sins and ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You sent
Your Son, Jesus to die on the cross in my place to pay for my sins, and that He rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I invite You, Jesus, into my heart and ask that You would wash me and cleanse me in Your blood. I thank You for Your love and mercy. I make You my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Have a Blessed and Happy Resurrection Day, everyone!

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Have you ever read something over and over and suddenly something astonishingly new jumps out and grabs you?  I’ve had that experience recently and it’s one of the most amazing, mind-blowing facts about the love and goodness of Jesus that I’ve ever tried to wrap my mind around…and it all has to do with a pair of dirty feet and a well-known, infamous disciple named Judas. A couple of weeks ago, while I was on Spring Break, I was reading John chapter 13 where Jesus showed “the full extent of His love” to the disciples”.  Another translation says that “he loved them to the last”.  This was John’s account of the last supper, the Passover Meal, that Jesus would share with His disciples.  It would be His last moments of personal time before the crucifixion with the twelve men that had left everything to follow Him.  Knowing what He had to go through Himself, He knew that His disciples would be shaken, confused, and for a short time, the bottom of their world would fall from beneath their feet.  He knew that these very men, would also be the ones to build the foundation of the Church on Him, the chief cornerstone, with the help of the Holy Spirit who they would meet in a little over forty days. 

The way Jesus showed His love, and taught them one of the greatest lessons on serving and humility, was through washing His disciples’ feet.  Since people wore sandals on their feet, and they didn’t have the nicely paved  streets and sidewalks that we enjoy today, the dusty roads made their feet really dirty, grimy and, as I hear kids at school say, nasty.  The commentary in my Bible states that washing feet was a menial task, normally performed by a servant, upon arrival.  At this particular time, there was no servant and no one else had volunteered which is when Jesus took action.  We know that He did this as an example for us to humble ourselves and serve one another.  This is always an excellent lesson to keep in mind and apply to our lives, most assuredly. However, there was another lesson inside this lesson that jumped out  and amazed me even more and that is found in verse 11 where it says that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him, and that would be Judas Iscariot.

Wow! Imagine that!  Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Heaven and the Lord of lords, washed the feet of Judas Iscariot knowing already that he was going to betray Him in just a few hours.  Don’t know why I never caught that before, but that thought just floored me.  I mean persecution from an enemy who doesn’t know or understand you is one thing, but betrayal by a friend, someone you love and have included in your life, is a whole different ballgame.  He didn’t wash everyone else’s feet and say to Judas “Dude, I know what you’re up to! You don’t deserve this! Go wash your own feet!” He didn’t give him an attitude, treat him coldly or heap condemnation on him.  No, Jesus showed him the full extent of His love, just like on the cross, He showed the full extent of His love for us. He knew that Judas’ actions were necessary to carry out God’s plan and fulfill scripture. Judas’ betrayal could still not separate him from the love of God.

It’s so hard in today’s culture to grasp how awesome the love, grace and mercy of God really is.  He set the example for how to respond to differences and adversities that seem to bombard us more and more these days.  When the world says “Kick that person that offends you to the curb!”, “Don’t give that “so and so” another thought!” and to “put that person in their place!”, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us  (Matthew 5:44): and to bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28).  If you try to give a gentle answer to turn away wrath, you get looked at very strangely by others.  Jesus purpose was never to try to reconcile us with the world, but to reconcile us with the Father.  God is love.  The message of the cross is the forgiveness and atonement for sin.  So why the added illustration of Jesus washing Judas Iscariot’s feet?  I believe it has a two-fold purpose.  It’s Jesus’ way of saying “I know it hurts to be betrayed and the pain is overwhelming, but I’ve been there and not only can you find it in yourself to forgive, but you can find it in you to serve and do good to those who betray you.” The second purpose I believe is for those who once were close to God, but fell away.  They believe, “I’ve done too much wrong in this life, I’ve disappointed Him so much, there’s no way He could ever accept me back”.  Jesus proves through the washing of Judas Iscariot’s feet, that His love and mercy are greater, than even the worst betrayal. Go to Him today, He’s waiting for you with loving arms wide open.

May you all have a blessed and peace-filled Resurrection Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one  without faith, no explanation is possible.” – Thomas Aquinas.  This quote certainly hits home when one considers the influence of technology on today’s culture.  Faith is being replaced by reasoning in our society and the divide between believers and non-believers is more vast than ever.  The thought of miracles and prophecy are unheard of to the data-driven line of thinking.   So then in a world where science and logic rule and try to squelch any possibility of the supernatural move of God, Christian believers need to rise up more than ever and share the rest of the GOOD news of the Gospel… that Jesus Christ is, indeed, coming again. We need to stand strong against any ridicule or mockery that society will most assuredly  dish out towards us. Most importantly we MUST do this in genuine love and compassion! We are not to condemn as John 3:17 says”For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” So while we are still living within this age of grace and non-believers still have the opportunity to freely search their hearts and seek what is true, I want to state that Jesus is coming again, just like He promised in Revelation 22:20“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.'”

Other scriptures that confirm the rapture and the return of Jesus are Mark 13:26 “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”; Revelation 1:7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever”.

Of course, there will be scoffers who will do all they can to intimidate Christians into silence on the return of Jesus and the end of this current age, but they are not above the God who created this universe, and we need to stand up for our faith.  There are many believers I’ve talked to who are not even looking for His return.  They argue that “the Church has been saying this for two thousand years, and He hasn’t come yet”.  However, it wasn’t until an estimated 4,000 years, that the prophecy of the birth of the Messiah would come to pass.  The first prophecy  regarding the birth of a coming saviour of mankind, occurred in the Garden of Eden, when God the Father cursed the enemy who came as a serpent to deceive Adam and Eve to sin in Genesis 3:15  “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  I’m sure during those four thousand years, they felt the same way and He did come and fulfill that prophecy.

Non-believers call the prophecies of the last days events as far-fetched and try to label those who believe as “crazy” or “out of their mind”.   Consider a servant named Rhoda, and even the apostle Paul  were called exactly that in the book of Acts.   Rhoda was proven right within minutes, and Paul’s teachings have endured 2,000 years of attacks and opposition and still are preached and proclaimed all over the world still to this very day!    Yes, of course, the thought of Jesus appearing in the clouds and believers suddenly being caught up and taken away is completely illogical to the natural mind but so does the thought of a young virgin giving birth to a baby and I believe that happened!  I believe that Jesus died and  rose again three days later after being crucified!  I believe Jesus ascended to Heaven in front of eye witnesses without the help of NASA!  I believe the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame could walk and the sick made healthy and whole after an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God!

There are at least two other resources besides the Bible that confirm the existence of Jesus.  In the Jewish Talmud, it is claimed that Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier, which only proves to me that Jesus did exist and it was well-known that Joseph, Mary’s husband was not his natural father.  If the Roman soldier claim was true, Christianity would NOT have endured the test of time!  Another writing, The Antiquities of the Jews (94 A.D.) by Josephus Flavius, a Jewish author who lived during the time Jesus was on earth, confirms aspects of the New Testament.

Jesus is coming soon.  Most of the things He prophesied in Matthew 24 are coming to pass in front of our eyes.  From what I,ve learned about Bible prophecy and what I observe through current events, I’m inclined to believe  that The Tower of Babel has been rebuilt by men…not with bricks or mortar, but with USB cables, computers and the internet.  We are racing towards becoming a one world system.  The United Nations are becoming more active in running the affairs of this world.  Israel has become a nation once more, and leaders of nations surrounding  them are openly plotting her destruction. Public School Curriculum is no longer controlled by local communities or the state, but instead is being aligned with international curriculums funded by powerful partners of education.  Technology is raising and shaping more children’s values than their parents.  In this past Presidential election, it’s noted that the sanctity of human life and the slaughter of the unborn is no longer a major concern to our nation.  Surprisingly enough, even many believers turned a blind eye to this issue to vote for a presidential candidate who wholeheartedly embraces the choice of abortion and funding it with taxpayer dollars.   That’s not the only issue brushed aside…Biblical institutions and terminology are being changed and compromised to the delight of those who do not reverence the Founder of them.  Evil is considered good and good is considered evil.  This is not man’s doing, but the result of dark forces that rule this world.  Satan’s time is growing short and he is furiously  setting out to destroy as many lives as he can.

The good news is that there is still time to give your heart to the One who has loved you and given everything, including His life to bring you back to the love and security of the Father.  In the same way that God told Noah to build an ark, before there was even  a drop of rain, to carry Noah, his family and the animals through the flood that would drown those who’s hearts were  hardened refused to acknowledge Him, you can enter the ark of God’s love and mercy through His grace before the door closes.   Are you looking for His return?  Will you be ready?  Please, come unto the ark, while there’s still time.

If you’ve never prayed this prayer or need to rededicate your life to Christ, please pray the following:
“Heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to die for my sins. I confess that I’m a sinner, and ask that You would come into my heart, and wash me clean with Your blood. I’m done trying to live on my own. I need You to lead and guide me. I choose to follow You and make You my Lord and Savior for all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Be blessed, everyone!