Friday, September 30, 2011

Message about prayer ...

Hello, everybody. God here. Thought I’d check in with all of you this evening. I’ve been hearing your prayers – all of them – and have been answering them, too. I know some of you don’t quite believe that I’ve been hearing and listening. And there are a few of you who have been praying, with the first words out of your heart are “God, if you’re there …” Surprise! I AM here!

I’ve heard the prayers that you’ve memorized since childhood, “God is great, God is good, Thank you, God, for our food.”

You’re welcome. It makes me happy that you enjoy it – just do so in moderation, of course.

I’ve heard you saying the prayer that my Son taught his followers while he was here on earth:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory


I usually hear you saying that in church or in a group setting. Next time you say it, can you try putting some thought and heart into it? Just sayin’ …

But you know, the prayers that intrigue me the most are the ones I hear that are somewhat out of the blue. Believe me, I do hear them, and I do act upon them according to my will. One time when one of you ladies was upset with the life-mate who you chose, I heard you ask me to keep you from strangling him in your sleep. No matter how much you think he deserved it, do you really think I was going to allow you, my beloved, to hurt another one of my children?

And you, I remember you asking for your company to receive an order for whatever it is you make, I think it’s aircraft? You know, you are not birds, but you still figured out how to fly. But that’s another story for another day. You wanted your company to have work for you and others to do so you could continue to be employed. I could have said “no.” I’ve said “no” to many other requests such as yours. But there’s something about how you believed in me. You had to wait a while and learn a little bit of patience, but I said “yes.” I was pleased when you remembered that it was Me who arranged for the order.

And then there is you, sitting in the coffee house. You’ve had a couple of rough years lately, and through those times you’ve learned to have some faith in me. It wasn’t easy at first, but in time you did learn that I can be trusted. When I gave you an unexpected blessing, though, you doubted that I could give you such a wonderful gift. You went so far as to ask, “What did I do to deserve this? I’m afraid God’s going to take it away from me. Can God be that cruel?”

Wake up and smell that coffee in front of you! I love you. The very essence of my being is love. I am not so cruel as to tease you with something good, only to make you miserable. But remember, life is not all teddy bears and roses. Even though the blessings I give are good, the world is not perfect, and has not been for centuries. Disasters strike, people make mistakes, even do evil things. The human body is subject to disease and decay and death. Love anyway. Embrace the gift called “today.”

I know that not all of you feel confident enough to come directly to me with your problems. That’s why there is an army of you out there who pray for them. I hear your prayers, too.

The soldiers who preserve your freedom – I do protect them. There are some I choose to bring home to me. I know you do not understand now, and your tears are many. (I know – I am collecting them in a jar up here.) Your soldier is now at ease, in My eternal presence.

Your loved ones who are sick – I hear those prayers too. It grieves me, too, to watch them suffer the way they do. I have not forgotten about them.

For the nations – Turn to me. Humble yourselves and pray. I will hear you, and I will heal your land.

My beloved, I want to hear all of your requests. Talk to me from your hearts. Talk to me alone, or in a group with others. Talk to me when you do not know the words to say. My Spirit will intercede on your behalf. Trust me, I will know how to answer your request according to what is in the best interest for my Kingdom as a whole.

Pray. Listen. And pray some more.

That is all … carry on …

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family Portrait

Not long ago I attended a writer's faire, where I heard a speaker say, "If you write a page a day, at the end of a year you will have a novel."  No, I thought, in my case I would have 365 pages of disconnected drivel. 

This is a sampling of my disconnected drivel that came out of the 500 Words challenge.  It happens to be in line with this week's Topical Blogger's subject of "Family Portraits."  Enjoy!

Molly likes breakfast time.  Her whole family has breakfast together – Mommy, Daddy, and her brother Bobby.  Her favorite doll Pansy also sits at the breakfast table.  Molly usually has a bowl of Loopiloos with milk for breakfast.  But today was Saturday.  On Saturday, Mommy makes pancakes.  Daddy helps her cut the pancakes so she can eat them easier.  She likes to pour her own syrup, but sometimes needs Daddy to help her.  Molly eats two pancakes.  Pansy does not eat pancakes.  She does not like them.

This morning Daddy made an announcement.  “Today we are going to a studio to have a family picture taken, for a gift for Grammy and Grampa!” 

“YAAYYY!!!”  Bobby and Molly like to do things for Grammy and Grampa.  And going to a studio sounded like an adventure. 

“Can Pansy come too?”  Pansy and Molly went everywhere together. 

Mommy said, “We will be wearing white shirts and blue jeans for the picture.  Molly’s dress does not match our clothes, but she can come and watch us have our picture taken.”  Molly was glad Pansy would not have to be left alone at home.  Pansy smiled, too.

After the breakfast dishes were washed and put away, the family got dressed in their blue jeans and white shirts, and went to the studio.  The studio had many, many pictures on the walls.  There were pictures of babies, children, families, soccer teams, and more.  Molly’s favorites were the pictures of weddings.  “The bride is always very beautiful,” she told Pansy.  “Someday I will be a bride, and you will be in my wedding!”

Bobby heard what Molly said.  “Brides are stupid!” he said, and pulled her hair.


Daddy gave Bobby a stern look.  The look that says “You’re in trouble!”  Bobby stepped away from Molly and Pansy.  Pansy was watching Bobby.  She did not want him to pull her hair too.

Next, a man brought Mommy, Daddy, Bobby, Molly and Pansy into a room with fancy lights and special places for them to sit. “My name is Robert.  I will be taking your pictures today.  Daddy told me your names when you arrived.  But, Molly, I do not know your friend’s name.”

“Oh!  Her name is Pansy.  But Mommy says her dress does not match us, so she can’t be in the picture.  Can she sit next to you and watch?”

“Of course she can.”  Robert carefully placed Pansy on a work chair.  Her lacy socks poked out from under her pink flowery dress.  That made Bobby giggle.

“Molly and Bobby, you sit on this special bench.  Keep your hands in your laps, OK?  And Daddy, you stand behind Bobby.  Mommy, you stand behind Molly.”

Robert told the family how to tilt their heads just-so, so that they had the perfect pose for Grammy and Grampa’s picture.  Pansy’s head was tilted just-so, too.

“Look straight at the camera and say Cheese!  One, Two, Three!"


**FLASH**  The light from the camera was very bright! 

Robert showed Daddy and Mommy the picture.  Molly and Bobby wanted to see it too.   Everybody thought it was a very nice picture.  Daddy ordered pictures for his desk, for the hallway at home, and a special one to give to Grammy and Grampa.

A few days later, Grammy and Grampa came to visit Molly’s house.  “Grammy!  Grampa!  We went to a studio and Robert took a picture of the whole family!”

Grammy admired the picture.  “I see you and Bobby and Mommy and Daddy, but where is Pansy?” 

“She could not be in the picture because Mommy said her clothes did not match ours,” Molly explained.  “But she came and watched.”

Mommy said to Grampa, “And look, everybody in the picture has their eyes open, and we’re all smiling!”

Grampa smiled, too.  “You must have all learned that from Pansy.”  He gave Molly a hug and said, “Pansy’s quite the friend you have there.”

Molly and Pansy both blushed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What is hell, exactly?

Tragedy.  Disease.  Killer heat waves.  Natural disasters.  Terrorist attacks.  Horrible circumstances.  Chocolate chip cookies without a cold glass of milk.  War.  Sitting through the movie “Creature.”  What do all of these things have in common? 

People say they are hell. 

While unpleasant things make our lives miserable, even hellish, they themselves are not hell.  We’ve all heard or been taught that when we die we either go to heaven, or to hell.  The difference between heaven and hell, to break it down to the simplest explanation, is this:  heaven is where God is; hell is where God is not.

To understand the nature of that, let’s take a look at the nature of God.  Yes, God is the Creator of the universe, knows all, has ultimate control, can do great and marvelous things.  And the purest description of God is found in the apostle John’s first epistle. 

God is love.

Heaven is where God (love) is; hell is where God (love) is not.

Have you ever imagined your life without love?  Any and all contact with family would be cut off.  No one would call you by your given name.  No one would smile at you, wave at you, hear your cries for help.  And you would treat others the same.  Imagine the loneliness, the emptiness, the anguish you would feel.  And not for a few days.  This bottomless pit of despair lasts forever.  Eternally.  Without the slightest glimmer of hope of escaping this … hell.

You may be thinking, “Gee, Mary, that’s pretty dismal.  But God always shows up in your posts, right?  When’s Jesus going to come in and save us?”

This is about hell, dear reader.  God does not show up.  Jesus can’t save you now.  Oh, they’re watching you, alright.  With broken hearts, because it’s too late for them to do anything.  You had your chances.  Jesus told you He is the way, and Him alone.  Others even tried to tell you, but you would not listen.  The street preacher.  The friend who invited you to church.  The “Holy Roller” TV channel you paused on for a minute while you were channel surfing.  The time when you heard a child singing “Jesus loves me this I know” or “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.”  Didn’t any of those tug on your heart?  Not even a little bit?  Yet you chose not to let that tug pull you into the arms of the One who was executed by having nails driven into his hands and feet, all to give you a way out.  You could have had love.  But you chose hell.

Hell is where love is not.

“But Mary, I’m a ‘good enough’ person.  Are you saying that’s not enough for me to get into heaven?” 

Remember what I said about “heaven is where God is”?  God is in charge of heaven, wouldn’t you agree?  Then God is the one who decides who gets in.  If it were my house, I’d be the one to decide who gets into my place.  Even though there are lots of people in the world who are honest, trustworthy, etc., if I don’t know you, if I don’t have some sort of relationship with you, whether you’re a friend or someone to do some work on my house, sorry bub, you are not welcome.  Same with God.  If you don’t have a relationship with God, you are not welcome in heaven.  You are shut out.  You are left in an existence where God is not.

“But I thought God loves me.”

He does!  He wants to have that relationship with you, so you don’t get shut out of heaven!  But your being “good enough” won’t do it.  No one is “good enough.”  Everyone falls short of the perfection that God requires of us.  That “falling short” is called sin.  The only way sin can be made right with God is by death.  Yet God still loves you and me and wants that relationship.  He’d rather have you alive than dead. 

What’s a deity to do?  

He’ll tell us what to do, that’s what!  The Bible, God’s instruction manual and love letter to us, makes it clear.  About ¾ of the way through the Bible there is this section called Paul’s letter to the Romans.  I’ll pull out the good stuff for you.  Remember – it’s not Mary from the Prairie saying what needs to be done – it’s in the Bible.

  • All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23)
  • Sin pays off with death.  But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 3:23)
  • But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.  (Romans 5:8)
  • So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death.  (Romans 10:9)

Do you see it?  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”  You get to spend eternity in the presence of love, in heaven, where God is.

It’s like a “get out of hell free” card!  The catch?  You have to accept Jesus as Lord before your body dies. 

Once you’re in hell, the offer is void.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why I love Jesus

There is a popular hymn that is taught in Sunday school classes all over America.  As I type the words, and as you read them, we can hear young children singing, “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me!”  Yes, Jesus loves me, and I love Jesus. 

Bible verses such as “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), “God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), and the assurance of pardon in 1John 1:9, the promise of forgiveness and restoration to a right standing with God when we confess our sins (“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness”)  do not begin to scratch the surface of why Jesus is worthy of my love.  Nor do they adequately explain why I love Him.  To be honest, I don’t think anything can, but I will try.
It is one thing to love Jesus because of what I learned as a child.  When I was growing up, I believed in Jesus and knew who He is.  I knew He was the Son of God, that He died on a cross for my sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.  I knew I was supposed to love Jesus, but I loved Him as though he were a family member whom I had never met.  I knew about Him, but nothing more.  It was not until I was in my mid-20’s that my knowledge of Jesus started to become a relationship with the Son of the Living God.   Love takes on a whole new depth and dimension when it is experienced in a deeply personal way. 

There have been many times throughout the years when I have encountered Jesus in ways that have deeply touched me.  The “Jesus Encounter” that most profoundly ignited my love for the Lord is rooted in a time when I saw myself as insignificant to others and to the world around me.  You may say I was having a “pity-party”; I would say it was more like a “pity-palooza.”  In the midst of my feeling lonely and isolated, Jesus used a story being told on a radio broadcast at that very moment to change my heart.  The story was similar to the widow who dropped the two copper coins in the offering box (Luke 21:1-4).  I realized that no matter how low I see myself, I still have value.  I have a purpose.  I have a valuable contribution to make. 
Jesus first loved me.  God sent Jesus so by believing in Him, I would have eternal life.  Jesus died on a cross as payment for my sins, even though I did not deserve such mercy.  When I confess my sins I am forgiven, and I have right standing with God because of Jesus.  Through Jesus I have value, and have a contribution to make that will glorify God.  These are reasons why I love Jesus!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Aw, Fudge!

I love the autumn months. It’s my favorite time of year, really. Not necessarily because of the change of seasons. In California, there is not much change of season to begin with. It’s not because children are returning to school and all the projects that go with it. And I am not a Halloween fan. Football has its merits, but that’s not what makes the season special.

The reason fall is so much fun has much to do with the food factor. Coffee houses are stirring up their Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Cappuccinos, the sweet-spicy fragrance of apple pie will soon fill the air, and the deeper into autumn and closer to the holidays, the more people will try their hand at cookies and candies. (All this is in addition to the annual October 5 National Holiday in celebration of the day I was born!)

Believe it or not, I have actually taken to making food to share with others. From my own kitchen. Yes, she-who-burns-soup and sets-toaster-ovens-on-fire has found a flame-free method of making fudge! Not just ordinary fudge – Nutella Feel-Good Fudge! According to legend, this variety of sweet chocolaty nuttiness has certain medicinal benefits. There is a report of a lady who underwent knee surgery and was told she would never return to normal activity again. (OK, I’m exaggerating just a little. She was given a six week recovery period.) After eating this amazing concoction, she returned to work and her full range of activities after a mere 2 ½ hours after surgery! (Exaggerating again. It was more like two weeks.)*

You too can benefit from this amazing concoction. Take my word for it – the recipe for Nutella Feel-Good Fudge is simple and fast, and easy to clean-up. Otherwise I would have nothing to do with the preparation of this wonder of wonderful wonders. Here is what you need, and what you do:

What you need:
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag of chopped hazelnuts
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
½ jar (or so) of Nutella
8” x 8” pan, buttered on the sides so the fudge doesn’t become one with the pan

What you do: Empty the bag of chocolate chips, the bag of hazelnuts, the can of sweetened condensed milk, and the ½ jar (or so) of Nutella into a glass mixing bowl. Stir all this stuff together, then cook it on high in the microwave for 1 ½ minutes. If it’s not completely melted, cook it for a minute or so more. When everything is melted together, pour the goo into your pan. Chill the fudge in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or until it sets. Cut it into bite-size pieces.

If you want to be stingy and keep the fudge all to yourself, that’s up to you. But you keep your friends longer when you share this goodness with them.

*The claims of Nutella Feel-Good Fudge as a healing catalyst have not been officially endorsed by the FDA. But who cares? It still makes for a good story.