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Matthew 12:25-26

25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

How did the Church of America become so broken? How did we get to this place where we care more about our Sunday morning productions and many ministries than we do about truly loving each other? When did the Church become a business to be run? People are running from the Church in droves because we have become judgemental, cliquish and mean. Our pastors and church leaders have become selfish. If it isn’t done their way, then it isn’t done. If someone doesn’t agree with their way or their opinions then they are ostracized or defriended. Christianity has become a huge entertainment business and we have forgotten the ONE this whole business is centered around: JESUS! We are mean spirited. We run around gossiping, spreading rumors, tearing each other down and ignoring those we feel are somehow inferior to us. We stand behind our denominational lines and turn our noses up at everyone who doesn’t believe the way we do, because somehow we have gotten it into our heads that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Denominations are man made. WE have divided the church. WE have become so full of ourselves that WE fight against each other to have the biggest church buildings, the largest congregations (whether people are disciples or not doesn’t really matter, as long as they fill the pews), the grandest Sunday morning productions, the most ministries, etc. etc. The Church has become the vehicle to boost our egos. We think all of this is okay because we throw God in here and there. We teach Jesus, so isn’t that enough? Do we actually have to FOLLOW JESUS EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES? Isn’t giving a good biblical sermon enough?

WAKE UP CHURCH OF AMERICA!!!

We are creating broken hearts…broken spirits and if we don’t fix this NOW, this entire country will pay the price.

So, what is the solution?

A better question is:

WHERE IS THE LOVE?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Colossians 3:12-14

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Mark 12:29-31

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Why aren’t we loving people to Jesus? Why are people leaving the Church in droves because they are being hurt inside the Church? We are not perfect. I know that. I certainly have done my fair share of hurting others, but Jesus expects us to love one another and not just other christians but EVERYONE! That’s how non-believers become believers…we LOVE them to Jesus. If we let go of our judgemental, selfish attitudes and started to love those in our congregations and our communities, we would unleash revival on America like we have never seen before. But, I don’t feel very loving.

LOVE IS NOT A FEELING!

LOVE IS ACTION!

GOD IS LOVE!

The more love you give, the more love you will be given. It starts with each christian, each pastor, each church leader, each congregation, in each city, in each county, in each state, to bring revival to a nation. It takes prayer, but it takes each of us being willing to obey Jesus and step out of our comfort zones and LOVE those around us. Reach out to the ones who are broken in some way by life. God will NOT answer our prayer for revival and spiritual awakening if we do not take action and start loving people to Jesus.

A REAL SPIRITUAL AWAKENING BEGINS WITH LOVE!

We CAN unite the Church of America.

We CAN bring God back to America:

It starts with you and it starts with me.

IT STARTS WITH LOVE!

GO OUT AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

 

 

 

 

 

Where have you been?
I’ve looked for you for ever and a day
Where have you been?
I’m just not myself when you’re away

The above is the chorus of a hit 1980’s country song sung by Kathy Mattea. When I heard Where have you been? at work a few days ago, the chorus became more like a prayer:

Where are you, Lord?

I search and search and I still can’t find you.

Why have you left me?

I am deeply troubled without you.

My spirit longs for your presence.

Where are you, Lord?

Why have you abandoned me?

There are times when it seems that God has left me to navigate this world alone. I pray and pray, but it seems that God is just, gone. I feel alone. I feel like I have been left to handle my life issues alone. For years I cry out for relief from the oppression, but my prayers seem to fall on deaf ears. Does He hear me? Does He care? Does He know that the world seems to be crashing in around me? Does He care? I can’t do this alone. I am tired. I am weak. My source of strength has left me. My heart beat fades, until it beats no more.

My spirit cries out,

 I NEED YOU GOD!!!

I NEED YOU JESUS!!!

WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME???

In the stillness, I hear a whisper:

 I have not left you.

I love you.

You are my beloved child.

I am here.

I will never leave you

nor

forsake you.

My heart beats again. My spirit quickens with joy again. I am not alone. I cried out and He heard me. He wiped my tears gently. He whispered my name and calmed my fears. He loves me. I am alive, because He lives within me. I can conquer anything, because He is with me.

I’m just not myself when you’re away.

Stronger Together

 

I love this picture of myself and my companion, Sister Kay. I am honored that this is the picture on the Associate poster with the caption: stronger together. As Sister Kay and I have walked through the 6 integration units together, I have learned so much about myself, the Sisters, and providence. We have become friends and I cherish the time we have spent together.

Stronger together. As the Sisters grow older and gradually come home to “The Woods,” we, as associates, have the job of being providence in the world around us. It is our job to live out the charism of the Sisters of Providence by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence. We can not do it alone. We need the support, prayers, encouragement and love of the Sisters to keep us going. We need to come back to the motherhouse to connect and strengthen each other so that we all may have the courage to continue the journey that our dear Saint Mother Theodore started those many many years ago. We need each other. I am blessed to be included in this community of Sisters and associates. I am excited to see where this journey will lead. I am somewhat anxious as I step out of my comfort zone, but I will eagerly embrace the challenge, as I walk arm in arm with the Sisters and fellow associates. We are indeed, stronger together.

Mission And Ministry

 

Deep within us

Is the power to change our lives

Heal the broken

Loose the bound

Live welcoming to all

(author unknown)

The congregation logo for the Sisters of Providence is, “Breaking boundaries, creating hope.” Throughout His ministry, Jesus was about the business of breaking boundaries and creating hope in the lives of the hopeless and oppressed all around Him. The above poem is a beautiful representation of how Jesus lived those last years in His ministry. He broke the boundaries of what was culturally correct in His day to create hope for those who so desperately needed hope in their lives.

What is hope? 

Instead of giving you the standard dictionary definition, I am going to give you my definition.

Hope is the unwavering certainty that no matter what chaos is playing itself out in the world or in our own personal circumstances, God is at work in the midst of it. He is in control and there is nothing and no one that can stand between us and His will for us. He works for the good of those who love Him and He always will. 

There are so many people who live without hope in their lives. They don’t know the hope that a relationship with Jesus brings. How can we bring hope to those that we come across on a daily basis?

Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. This was the basis for His ministry. Jesus did that through healing the broken, loosing the bound, and welcoming the poor in spirit. This unit challenged me to think of life as ministry. I was challenged to open my eyes and my heart to the ministry opportunities in my daily life. Life is a ministry. A wise Sister told me a few months ago that my job in the food service dept. with the Sisters of Providence was a ministry. She wanted me to see that I make a difference in the lives of the Sisters and their guests simply by my willingness to be present. It has not been easy for me to see my job as a ministry. In my mind I didn’t see ministry as serving these women of God who do so much to serve others. because of the words of this wise Sister, I have started to see that my presence, my smile (even when I’m tired), my prayers, are indeed a ministry and I can think of no better way to serve these beautiful women. I have spent so much time frustrated because God would not place me in a “full-time ministry” position, when I have been in one all along.

When we open our hearts and our eyes to the pain in the world around us, God will give us opportunities to heal the broken, loose the bound and welcome the poor in spirit. I have found my ministry. I am to stand with the Sisters, fight injustice, love my neighbor and have mercy on all. I am to live as Jesus lived: life as ministry.

 

 

As I read the events of the crucifixion of Jesus in John 19:1-30, I am overwhelmed by the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. These verses always have the same effect on me, a deep sense of gratitude for His love for me and a sense of sadness that I will never measure up to that level of sacrifice.

I was talking with my daughter, Cree, yesterday and she said something interesting. She said that when she and her co-workers talk about their families, she tells them that her mom is married to God. She tells them that I live for God and God alone. I have always felt called to religious life. I have always known that I was called to a deeper relationship with God. Maybe, that’s why my earthly marriage failed. I knew from early on that I had to live for God only. By giving myself wholly to God, maybe I can, in some small way repay Him for the enormous sacrifice He made for me. In my imperfect way, I am fully committed to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

We can never love enough, do enough good deeds, or be good enough to get into heaven on our own. This is why Jesus died. Jesus died so that if we believe in Him and devote ourselves to living for him in this world that we will live with Him forever when this life is over. He wants our hearts. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to be one with Him, so that we can be His ambassadors in this world. He wants and expects nothing less than our everything. Doesn’t He deserve that for the sacrifice He made on the cross? I think He does. I am wholly devoted for life to being married to God.

This week I want you to read through John 19 and reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made so that you may live eternally with Him. What change can you make in your life to deepen your relationship with Jesus? What do you need to do to show that you are wholly committed to Jesus? How can you be an example of Jesus in this world?

Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us. He wants your everything and nothing less. How can you honor that request this week?

 

Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

There have been times when I have felt frustrated at God’s “neglect” of answering a prayer that has been on my heart for some time. I feel that He does not hear me or simply does not care enough to answer. However, Neither one of those things is true. He wants us to be persistent in prayer.

He wants us to be like the persistent widow who went time and time again to the judge seeking justice against her adversary. I believe that she was desperate for justice, Desperate for an answer, and maybe even desperate for closure. But, the point is, she NEVER GAVE UP! She wore down that judge until he couldn’t take anymore and he gave her what she wanted. When I was 20, I applied at our local American Red Cross for a job to call people who had donated blood in the past to get them to donate again. The manager kept putting me off. I called every day or every other day for 3 or 4 weeks until he finally gave in. He finally gave me a job. He had told me that he thought I was too quiet for the job. I was there a year and there were a few months when I was the top recruiter. I needed a job and I wouldn’t give up. I wore him down. He knew that the only way he was going to get rid of me was to give me a job.

God wants us to be like that in our prayer time. The persistent widow was desperate for an answer. Are you desperate enough for justice that you bombard heaven day and night with your prayers? Are you desperate enough for an answer that you cry out to God with all of your heart? Are you desperate enough for closure that you leave God no other choice but to give you what you are praying for?  Don’t give up, even if it takes years for Him to answer. God’s timing is perfect. I don’t know why He takes as long as He does to answer some prayers. I don’t need to know. I just need to have the faith enough to keep praying and trust that He is at work in the situation. NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER QUIT PRAYING! The day you give up could be the day He planned on answering. God will answer and He will see that you get justice.

When Jesus returns, will He find you praying? Will He find faith in your prayer life? Will He find that you trust Him to answer no matter how long it takes? I hope I am that faithful. I don’t want to be the one who gives up right before the miracle. When Jesus returns, I want Him to find me faithful. Keep praying. Pray through, even if it takes 20 years before you get your miracle. Never Give Up! God will reward your persistence!

 

 

Luke 7:11-17

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

There is one phrase that really jumps out at me: When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” His heart went out to her! She did not approach Him, but when HE SAW HER His heart went out to her. Jesus has a heart for the widow. Jesus has a heart for the single mom. He knew her circumstances and He cared about her. He told her not to cry, revived her son and gave him back to his mother.

There have been many times in my journey as a single mom when Jesus has worked on my behalf before I prayed about the situation. There are times when I don’t think about praying for a specific situation and God works in that situation anyways. He does it because He loves me. He does it because He knows my heart. He does it because His heart goes out to those who are in need of a miracle.

There are so many single moms in the world, who are in need of a miracle. Are you one of them? Are you a paycheck away from becoming homeless? Are your kids heading down the wrong path? Are you simply overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn? Turn to the one whose heart goes out to you. Jesus can and will work a miracle in your situation. Why? Because He loves you and His heart goes out to you. You may feel that you are going to drown in your own tears, but hear the voice of our Savior. He is whispering to your heart, “Don’t cry.”

Whatever the circumstances of your life, know this single mom: Jesus has a heart for you and He is ready to perform a miracle in your life and the lives of your children. Dry your tears, hold your head up and trust in the miracle maker.