The Strong Women Beside Me

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Today we lay to rest a mighty woman of God. Terri Rivas, on the left in this picture, came to our TLC4Women bible study years ago. A quiet woman with a bible and pen in her hand, she had been invited by a pillar in our group her best friend Bernie, on the right above. Both women had been friends with each other for over 50 years. They each attended different churches but they each loved to study the word. Bernie is a solid, grounded, woman of the word and so I knew her friend would be as well. What does it say that two women are friends for 50 years? In a time when we are offended so easily and friendships tend to come and go, this was something to be admired.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that Terri was not quiet at all. She had a quick wit and would make all of us laugh with that smirk-y smile she would get right before she made a comment.  She celebrated all of our successes and she told about her escapades with Bernie. Bernie and Terri wouldn’t sit together in study because Terri would say she was afraid Bernie would get her into trouble.

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I discovered that I could go to Terri for anything and she would pray. She wasn’t about gossip and she wasn’t about drama but she could pray. I saw why she and Bernie were such great friends. Two women who stood strong on the word of God and were mentors to each of us in the group. When Terri decided to move her membership to our church, she came with a notepad, scriptures, and a word from the Lord, BUT she wanted to talk to us first to make sure that we knew she would not to be any trouble. She taught me about honor and hearing from the Lord.  She wasn’t going to walk on what she thought was the right thing to do she weighed it out, got counsel, and waited on God.

When she decided to retire from the hospital we talked about it and it turned out she didn’t have to retire she could work from home. She was thrilled to do that but again, wanted us to pray to make sure it was the right thing to do.

When Terri developed Parkinson’s she came to me with a quake in her voice and announced the news. I could tell it had shaken her and I had never seen her scared before, she had faith for so many others, in that moment I needed her to have that same faith for herself. I reminded her that the Great Physician had the final say and we prayed together. I honestly didn’t think I would lose her. I thought she would battle on. She had been through a lot in her life and I thought this would be another victory story. When she determined that she could no longer trust her driving at night she told me bible study would be out. I told her to let Bernie bring her. She instantly replied, “Have you ever been in a car with Bernie? Pastor Susan I want to live.” I answered, “Well, at least you’d go together right?” She laughed and said, “Bernie would probably survive.” But laughter or not, scared or not, there would Terri be, walking in the door of bible study with Bernie.

Terri, I love you, I will miss you. The impact you have made on my life cannot be measured. I was graced by your friendship. I was graced by your love of my children and my grandson. And even though I mourn the loss of you here on earth, you won the victory. I know that you made it home safely. That all of the promises of God are true and that we will one day be together again. I’m sure you are talking to loved ones and strangers and everyone you meet. You’re making people laugh, and you’re awaiting the time when we’re all joined together again.

Proverbs 31:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

terririvas

 

What’s Coming Out?

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That’s the problem with the Pounce and Flounce isn’t it? We make definitive statements for drama’s effect only to have it boomerang.

To the significant other: “I’m leaving!”, when we know we aren’t going anywhere for long.

To the family or friend: “You hurt me and I’m not coming back until you say sorry.” Then we take every opportunity to let everyone know why we are feuding, or worse we pretend innocence and point to how people hurt us.

To anyone that will listen: “I don’t know why I stayed this long.”

Or in other words,

“You can’t tell me what to do.” 

To the Authority Figure: “Well if you’re going to do that then I’m not participating.”

Then we walk out as if we’re a commanding general who just won a war. We Pounce on the person and Flounce away to show them. Show them what though? Show them that we are masters at manipulation. This is the adult version of the two year-old trantrum being played out. 

When the trantrum is over and we calm down, and want/need, to come back, now we either have to apologize or have that awkward thing of the pounce and flounce between us that needs to be addressed.

Sometimes we pretend nothing happened. Sometimes we are violent slanderers, sometimes we are silent stew-ers, sometimes we play injured party accepting no responsibility and pointing fingers or worse we act as if all of this is so beneath us and we don’t care a bit about it in retaliation.

If we do it often enough, and with Social Media, we certainly have an easy platform, we develop a reputation of histrionics where people ignore our high drama. We become unsafe because others never know when it will turn on them and they will be the object of the next post.

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You see whatever is in our hearts comes spilling out. Now that we have a world wide platform people get to see who we really are. Hey, I’m not immune to cringe-worthy posts either. I’m not ashamed to take down posts that  I have posted which turn negative. It is not beneath me to just say no and sorry to something which may inflame people I care about.

Recently our church had 21 Days Of Prayer where prayers were written on cards and then each night we gathered together to pray for each card. There were incredible testimonies of breakthrough, miracles of healing, and in the midst of the profound and sacred some took the opportunity of prayer to chastise another. I called it the pounce and flounce of prayer. The violence of this action shows the power of our world today in which we can hide behind words not spoken face to face. Cowardly at best, the pounce and flounce has taken on new levels. The cards were quickly plucked from the pile and shredded. The Bible says that what is in the heart comes out and I wonder as believers how we think this honors God? I wonder how I honor God?

Proverbs 21:2 All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

So while I examine my heart for impure motive, I urge you to take a walk through your heart and settle the issues that so quickly ensnare us into behavior that will never lead us to victory.

 

If Only I Didn’t Know

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You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. ~ Matthew 5:4 The Message

Don’t you hate it when your life is cruising along in auto-pilot and you get hit with a revelation you wished you had never known? The awareness it brings is such a shock to the system. Immediately you have to think about what to do with the information. Where is the line or boundary for you? What is the right thing to do?

A friend lets you know that a person with whom you didn’t really have a problem doesn’t like you. I mean, it wasn’t like you were best friends or anything but you thought you two were fine with each other.

You’re doing your monthly breast examine and feel that lump that you thought happened to other people.

You find text messages from a co-worker on your spouse’s phone and discover something you never wanted to know.

You become a Christ follower and discover that there is that little area over in the corner of your life that isn’t consistent with this new life.

Now What?

In each of these cases you can’t ignore the next step for very long. As hard as it is to face facts, you must. They simply don’t disappear without action. Begin with a good assessment of where you are, then begin to pray for what you want the outcome to be.

Do you want to restore the possibility of friendship? Then humility and a conversation will need to take place. Often we excuse our behavior and pin it all on the other person but what is our role in this?

You’ll need a healing miracle as you make a doctor’s appointment and get that mammogram. Don’t panic, don’t delay, and don’t ask God to bless you based on your resume. Instead pray for healing and ask for mercy.

Do you want to see your marriage restored? Then you’ll need to have some tough conversations, some realizations of who the two of you really are, and if this marriage is worth saving. You’ll have to decide to never bring it up again and to begin the process of restoration. Don’t make your case before God for blessings, instead ask God to give you clarity of vision, strategy, and ask him to show himself mighty in this situation.

Do you really want this walk with Jesus to work to its full potential? Don’t make excuses, voluntarily come clean with the Lord and ask Him for His help and guidance.

You can’t ignore what you learn and have a healthy life. You can’t accept what you’re unwilling to accept. You can move forward with knowledge when you examine that area of your life with true acknowledgment of what the reality of the situation is.

Unfortunately, we can’t un-know what we know but we can move forward into an excellent future if we stop making excuses, stop listening to other voices, get clear about what it is we want, and humble ourselves before our Lord.

 

Twisted Theology

@MrChurchGuy writes: When people say that “God showed up” for their worship service, do they count Him in the attendance numbers?

If so, does He count as 3 or just as 1? 😊

God Showed Up

 

The statement that “God showed up” or “God is here” always puzzles me. Jesus shows up whenever two or three are gathered. Why are we, Christ followers, surprised when the Bible turns out to be true?

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ESV

If you are new to this Christian faith please forgive us. Sometimes we have these Christian-ese statements that we can’t back up with scripture which I’m sure may confuse you.

You see, when we are surprised that God showed up we forget that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all of the time. We also make the false assumption that Jesus only shows up when we perform for him. If in fact, the church is the bride of Christ then that would make him a pretty bad fiancé, and since we know that he isn’t, then the statement doesn’t hold true. You can find comfort in God. At the whisper of His name He comes.

When we are further surprised that he showed up at church, well, please look around. I’m sure there were more than a few of you there and I’m taking a big leap here but I’m guessing at least two people in that group and hopefully three showed up with a heart that was ready to worship their Savior.

 

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So the conclusion I make to these statements is that these are heart issues of the person professing to see or feel Christ’s presence in a service. The fact is we all have issues of one sort or another and sometimes those issues get in the way of our relationship with God and could sometimes cause us to not have the feeling of being in his presence. It doesn’t make it so, but perception is what we have to go on as humans.

Jesus is in the unlikeliest places. Places you and I would never think he would be, and yet, there he is, whether we feel him or not.

So, grab a friend this week and pray together, if you’re blessed, grab a few friends and pray. I guarantee you he will be there for SURE. If you find yourself alone say a simple prayer and He will be there. If you find yourself not able to utter a sound, too broken to grasp for words, or too blessed to formulate the words to explain the gratitude you feel, or you just plain don’t know what to pray for, even that works, because the Holy Spirit comes and helps us.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. ESV

God really does show up! Because the truth of the matter is God isn’t out there somewhere. If you’ve answered the call he is living inside of you and wherever you are there he is.

 

 

Keep Fighting

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In the midst of a carjacking in 2001 I cried out to Jesus. I heard Him powerfully speak, “Keep fighting, he is just as scared as you are.”

This morning as I awoke from a dream, I saw myself standing with a sword lifted in front of me. I knew deep down that I would never have to use it in the natural realm but that I had been properly trained to. The sword felt comfortable in my hand and the grip was made to fit me. This sword had been given to me as a gift and I had studied its use and practiced to be able to use it with skill. In that moment as I stood my ground it was enough to know that I knew how to use it and that I could, and would, push through fear to victory.

If, in fact, everything happens for a reason, then the carjacking taught me a lesson. I may fight like a girl, but with God I am mighty and equipped to defeat anything that is coming my way that is not of God. So are you.

What have you been through in your life that has taught you to know who you are?

Now ask yourself, are you properly trained? Do you know how wield a sword? A weapon in unskilled hands will be turned against you.

Leading

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God can use a car to teach a lesson.

Last year, I bought a new car. I hadn’t bought a new car since 1999 so I want to keep it looking nice. Now, mind you, I had no business buying a new car. Dave Ramsey says if you don’t have a million dollars in the bank you can’t afford a new car and folks, I don’t have a million dollars. 2017 sent me off course in many ways and I am now reaping the consequences of getting back on track. So I’ll share my lessons over the next few weeks with you. Hopefully, they can help you.

I now find the farthest parking space in any parking lot because I don’t want the car to get dinged up. No matter where I park though, someone is typically parked next to me when I come back out to get into my vehicle. There can be many parking spots but someone has to park right next to me.

They can’t even skip a space.

It is so frustrating. Coming back to my vehicle the other day I see one other car in the entire row I parked in and of course, right next to me. I opened the trunk and put my bags in and got into the driver’s seat. The Holy Spirit prompted me,

“Why are you angry?”

“Because no matter where I park, someone comes and parks next to me.”

“People follow leaders.”

Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear. I am not leading at the mall. I am shopping. It’s down time.

However,

I need to think more deeply on this because there is a bigger picture that the Lord is trying to get me to see here. Oh yeah guys, he is into teachable moments and this was one.

It means I am being watched. No, not in a stalking way, but:

  • Where am I going?
  • What am I reading?
  • What am I saying?
  • What am I watching?
  • Who am I listening to?
  • Am I leading to Christ?
  • If not, then who I am leading to?

These are great questions to ask yourself. Sometimes we pick up bad habits along the way or we have an area in our life that we’ve neglected to work on. Thank God that He isn’t looking for sinless perfection but neither is he ignoring unrepentant sin or as we like to call them, bad habits because it sounds nicer and more excusable.

Where are you? This question gets asked in many forms but do you take the time to examine yourself and make sure you are still in alignment with where God has called and placed you?

Cinco

Your mommy made this video for me on my birthday and it made me cry because it’s true, I didn’t know you were my reason.

You came on your terms. You weren’t due to arrive quite yet. In fact, your parents still had things to do. From the very beginning you showed us you call your own shots, and if we’re honest, ours too. You showed up on 5/5/17. A Cinco De Mayo baby. Cameron Joshua Martinez was the name they placed on you. Cinco, Five, the number of God’s grace and favor towards man, and that is completely you Cameron. You are God’s favor upon our lives. I was so ready for you. I had prayed for you, dreamed about you, and so totally wanted you in my life. SHHHH! Don’t tell anyone but while the Prophet and Parents predicted a girl, I knew you were a boy. I knew you were a boy before you were conceived because I pray hard.

While your mommy was resting and trying to get comfortable, I put the very first diaper and sleeper on you and wrapped you in your receiving blanket. I kept tearing up as I    looked at your beautiful face, okay your handsome face.

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Your Papa, well let’s just say I think this was the day you wrapped him around your finger. He talks about you all of time and tears up because he loves you so much. He is the annoying grandparent who pulls out his phone and shows everyone pictures and videos of you. He recently announced on Facebook that you were walking even before your parents announced it. He thinks you are amazing and he called you a prodigy the other day because you love to play the drums. From his mouth to God’s ear let him prophesy over you the blessing of music and coordination.

 

 

Now, with your first birthday coming up I have to tell you that this year has flown by. I  don’t even think I  blinked and you are turning one. We go and visit you often because we want to be in your life and we want to spend time with you. Lots of time with you.  You know us and immediately come to us and we’re “in the loves” as your Tia Casey used to say, and that makes my heart happy.

 

I expected to love you. I expected to spend time with you but I didn’t know the magnitude to which this love would reach. I love you beyond measure. Everything you do is a wonder. If God truly loves us more than this, I think my heart would explode at that level.

Sometimes I look at you and I see your mommy’s face, other times you look like your daddy but always there is a quiet determination in your eyes. You will achieve what you set out to accomplish. You are a great mix of the two of them. Serious like your daddy, and yet willing to set out on an adventure like your mommy. You also have a sarcastic sense of humor which is a generational curse blessing that you get from your daddy and I. You can say, “Dada”, when your daddy is not in the room but you call him “Mama” to his face just because you can. In fact we had a good laugh the other day because it sounded like you said, “BA-ON” for Baron, our new puppy, but when your daddy was trying to get you say “Dada” you stubbornly said, “Mama”. I am proud to say that you call me, “Nanananana”, when you feel like it.

 

Somewhere along the line I started calling you Hameron because you have learned how to manipulate with your please face,  and happy face, and funny face.

 

We share our secret times together. We let you do things like eat Cheese Puffs, and drive your car inside of the house.

 

 

I’m so happy to have you in my life. I’m grateful to God for you. I bless you with a Happy 1st Birthday and of course we bought you something awesome.

 

Happy Birthday Cameron. Your Nana and Papa love you with everything they are. You are truly a blessing.

Love,

Cam’s Nan