Big Swig!

Do you ever find yourself doing something, but you don’t know exactly why you’re doing it? Well, this morning after my morning walk, I remembered one such time. To say that I’m addicted to walking in the park is an understatement. I’ve been walking for exercise for years. It’s my quiet time. It’s my prayer time. It’s my thinking time.

This morning I checked the temperature before I left and it was 80°, muggy, and partly cloudy, so I headed to the park. As I finished my last lap, I remembered one hot summer day when I was in my 20s. At that time, I was a hard-core jogger. Today I walk, but back then I jogged five miles a day six days a week.

One hot summer day as I prepared to go out and jog, I heard the news warning us to stay out of the heat. Naturally, as a young 20 something whippersnapper, I thought I could handle it! I wasn’t going to let that sweltering 100° temperature stop me.

Generally, I would drink water before and after I jog. I know that’s not the right way to do it, but this was back in the day when we didn’t have Camelbacks. Those slim water pouches that hang across your back with a sipping-tube. Back then if you wanted water when you were running you had to carry the bottle with you. I didn’t do that because every five seconds I was dropping it because it slipped out of my sweaty hands.

So on this day, I grabbed two bottles of water and a small cooler and I left the house for the park. Now here is the funny part. For some reason, something told me to stop and purchase an energy drink at a local convenience store. Though I knew that a lot of people were drinking them, I didn’t like the taste or the texture. But on this day, I had the strong impulse to stop and get one. So I purchased the drink and then went to the park.

When I got to the park, I drank my normal bottle of water before I started jogging and took off. After finishing my last lap, I suddenly noticed that I started to feel sick, dizzy, and very shaky. I couldn’t focus and everything was swirling around. Immediately, I knew that I was on the verge of heatstroke. I made it back to my car, but I could barely hold myself up. I wasn’t walking straight, I felt nauseous, and I was staggering. 

I made it to my car, I grabbed my lawn chair and the energy drink but I was so wobbly when I sat down, I sat down with a thug and almost tipped the entire chair over. I was so weak I didn’t think I was going to be able to open the energy drink. I knew I only had a few seconds left before I was going to pass out. Somehow, I opened the energy drink and I took a slow, long, swig, and amazingly I started to feel better almost immediately. I was stunned at how fast this replenishing drink worked. I drank the entire bottle and rested for about 10 minutes before I got in the car and drove home.

As I drove home, I thought about how close I came to serious injury. I also thought about how I felt the strong impulse to purchase the energy drink. I realized that through my stupidity, the Lord still stepped in and saved my life. I’m so glad I was obedient to his advice.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20

Blessings,

Sandra

$10

 I worked for a ministry for almost 10 years. One of the jobs I held was answering the phone when people called in requesting prayer. First let me say that whenever I tell someone about this job, the first thought that they have is that they see it as a nice, sweet, cute little job where you spend the entire day sitting on the phone praying blessings over the birth of a new baby or a wedding. I wish that were the case. The bottom line is that you’re exposed to the good, the bad, the ugly, the natural, and the supernatural.

One day when I picked up the phone there was a gentleman on the other end who was livid! He was screaming at the top of his voice. I immediately asked the Lord to give me the wisdom to know how to handle this call. So after I said hello, and introduced myself, the man let loose!

He yelled, “If my son asked me for $10 to buy food for his family, not $10 to buy liquor, or drugs, or spend it on women; he was going to do something good with it! He was going to buy food for his family! If he asked me for $10, and I have it to give, why wouldn’t I give it to him? Why would I make him beg, and beg, and beg every single day! Answer me that! I want to know because that’s what I’m doing. I am begging, and begging, and begging for the Lord to help me and he won’t!“ He then used some profanity and hung up the phone.

 As I was driving home after work I said to the Lord, “Why is it so hard for this guy to get his prayers answered?” And Lord I said, “Why do so many people have so many unanswered prayers; including me?”

 He said, “I have forgiven you and forgiven your sins, but when you sin that sin is put in place in the flesh, in the world, and those sins have worldly actions and impacts attached to them that take time.“

This was a good reminder for me to not only stop sinning, but to confess and repent for my sins immediately. I don’t know if this guy would have listened to me if I would have had an opportunity to tell him this. So, at this point all I can do is to pray for him silently.

 Are your prayers being answered?

 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:2

 Blessings,

 Sandra

Guilty as charged!

I’ve been attending the same aerobics class for about a year and a half. What I love about the class is that the instructor plays a variety of styles of music. However, there is one song she plays that makes me uncomfortable. Though it doesn’t contain profanity, I think the sexual content is unacceptable.

Each time she played the song, though I continued to dance and do the exercises, I struggled! A battle raged in my mind. Should I sit down? Should I leave the room? I was very uneasy. In addition to this feeling of uneasiness, I felt embarrassed about leaving because I was a new member and I did not want to cause a disturbance. I quickly dismissed my feelings because I figured that I was probably the only one who objected to the song. Let’s face it this group has been together for several years so apparently, they thought the song was ok. 

Each day when I showed up for class, I had this battle in my mind whenever the song was played. One day I tried to slow down my movements to appear as if I was barely moving. My strategy was to try not to participate without anyone knowing I wasn’t actually participating. Each time the song played my anxiety grew, but rather than make a scene and ask the instructor to stop playing the song I just pushed myself through the song trying not to focus on the words. 

Finally, one day she played the song, and about 30 seconds into the song I heard the Holy Spirit ask, “What are you doing?” My entire body vibrated at the sound of His voice. When I heard His voice a couple of Bible stories flashed through my mind. One of the stories I thought about was when Cain killed Abel. The LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” As I stood in the class, I thought, the Lord is all-knowing, He knew what happened to Abel, so why would He ask that question? Maybe He asked because He wanted Cain to know that He knew what He did. 

The other Bible story that popped into my mind was the one about when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. After eating the forbidden fruit, the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Again, the Lord knew where Adam and Eve were hiding. Did He ask because He wanted them to know that He knew what they did? I do not know, but it seems that way.

So now the Holy Spirit was asking me a question, “What are you doing?” So right there in the middle of the song, it hit me! I realized that the Holy Spirit knew that I was doing something I should not have been doing and He was letting me know.

So, when the Holy Spirit asked me, “What are you doing?” I stopped in my tracks and turned around and I walked off the floor to the back of the room and sat down for the rest of the song. I was busted! Guilty as charged!

8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. 9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” Genesis 4:8-9

Blessings,

Sandra

Run Amuck

Many years ago, I arrived home late one night from a week-long business trip. I was completely exhausted and had my mind set on a hot shower and a good night’s sleep. I arrived home and parked my car in the driveway. I got out of the car and turned to open the passenger door behind me. I had placed my luggage on the backseat of the car, so I ducked my head into the backseat area to grab my bags. As I tussled with the bags, I heard something; it sounded like footsteps, but I wasn’t completely sure. Suddenly every part of my body was on alert because it was midnight, and the majority of the lights in the subdivision were off so everyone was in bed.

I slowly stepped back and then stood on my tiptoes to look over the roof of my car. To my shock and surprise, I saw a young guy who looked to be about 17- or 18-years old running towards me as fast as he could. Every bone in my body started to shake. I wanted to scream, but the words just wouldn’t come out. That’s because I couldn’t breathe. With each step he made, I sucked in my breath, and with my hands in the air, all I could say was, “Oh, oh, oh!”  I was paralyzed with fear! I couldn’t get my feet to move so I could run or my mouth to speak so I could yell.

The look on this kid’s face was focused and strained. His eyes were like laser beams drilling into mine. I was convinced the attack was imminent, but I was too weak to move. When he got about five feet from my car, he made a quick 180-degree turn, reached both arms in the air, and caught a football.  I screamed, “Oh my God! You scared me to death!” He said, sorry ma’am, and turned around and threw the ball back to another kid who was standing down the street.

Fear; what a terrible feeling. How quickly it can run amuck and take over your brain and cloud everything you see and do. When afraid most often it’s not about what’s actually happening to you, it’s about what you believe is going to happen to you.

Don’t let fear run amuck in your body and mind. Hold on to Gods word which says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Blessings,

Sandra

Who Told You That?

When I first started to minister to people as a baby Christian, and the message was rejected I was dumbfounded. I thought, here I am handing them the key to eternal life on a silver platter and they turn their back. I honestly did not understand.

Over the years I have ministered to hundreds of people, including one guy named John, numerous times. I tried several approaches with John, but nothing ever worked. In one instance, I tried the “free gift” approach. I said, “Let’s say you showed up at a local department store, and the store greeter welcomed you and handed you, and everyone else a $100 gift card.” I said, “Now tell me you wouldn’t get on the phone and call everyone you knew to tell them to come to the store and get the free gift card. He said, “You darn right I would.” I said, “Exactly!” I said, “Well salvation is the same thing. It’s a free gift that’s been given to you. And the reward is eternal life. Something that can never go away or be spent.” He looked embarrassed and did not respond.

I’ve known John most of my life, I can tell you that he has jumped from one temporary job to another. Now that he is 70, he doesn’t have much to show for his life. No job, little income, no nest egg, bad health and he is barely making ends meet. He also has a pretty negative attitude. Each time I minister to him, he comes up with one excuse after another as to why he “can’t do it.” Recently I asked him how he felt his life turned out. He said, “Not so good.” I said, “Then what do you have to lose with turning your life over to the Lord?” He said, “I don’t know. But that is alright, I still have time.” I said, “Who told you that?”

25When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Luke 13:23-25

Blessings,

Sandra

Guilty as Charged

I’ve been attending the same aerobics class for about a year and a half. What I love about the class the most is that the instructor plays a variety of styles of music. However, there is one song she’s played 3 to 4 times that I feel very uncomfortable when I hear it. Though it doesn’t contain profanity, I feel the sexual content is not acceptable.

The first few times I heard the song I continued to dance and do the exercises, but I struggled with what I should do. A battle raged in my head. Should I sit down? Should I leave the room? I was very uneasy. I had never taken an aerobics class before and didn’t know what to expect. Since I was a new person in the class, I figured that I was probably the only one who objected to the song. This group had been together for several years so apparently, they thought it was ok. But I didn’t. I tried different tactics. I tried to slow my movements down as if I wasn’t moving. My strategy was to try not to participate without anyone else knowing that I wasn’t participating. Each time the song played I knew to stay and participate was not the right thing for me to do. It may have been okay with everyone else, but I knew it wasn’t okay with me. But rather than make a scene and ask the instructor to stop I just pushed myself through the song trying not to focus on the words.

Finally, yesterday I was in my aerobics class and she played the song again. About 30 seconds into the song I heard the Holy Spirit say, “What are you doing?” My entire body, from head to toe, vibrated at the sound of his voice. When He said it a couple of scriptures flashed through my mind. I thought about when Cain killed Abel. The LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” As I stood there in the class, I thought the Lord is all-knowing. He knew what happened to Abel, and it was like He wanted Cain to know that He knew. The other scripture that popped into my mind was the one after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. After eating the forbidden fruit, the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Again, the Lord knew where Adam and Eve were hiding, and why. Suddenly, I knew that the Holy Spirit knew what I was doing. He knew I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing, and He wanted me to know that He knew. 

When the Holy Spirit asked me, “What are you doing?” I stopped in my tracks and turned around and I walked off the floor to the back of the room. I was busted. Guilty as charged!

8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. 9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” Genesis 4:8-9

Blessings,

Sandra

A Warning!

A few days ago, I received a text from a friend asking me if I wanted to meet her for coffee at a local restaurant. I thought that was great and we set up a time for the next day. After setting it up I suddenly became consumed with thoughts about running into a woman, I will call her Jane, while there. The thoughts came out of nowhere. I haven’t seen Jane in almost two years and what makes matters worse my last encounter with her was not pleasant. In terms of our personalities, Jane and I are opposites. She is very aggressive, and I am not. So, my thoughts of running into her in the restaurant were focused on seeing her and finding myself in a difficult, challenging, aggressive conversation; something I most definitely didn’t want to do! But at the same time, I had no reason to even think that she would be there. Yet, for some reason, I was consumed with these thoughts. It seemed like every thirty minutes I was thinking about her and praying over both of us.

As I tried to figure out why I kept having these thoughts, I tried to come up with some sort of a logical reason or connection for the thoughts. I had never seen her at this restaurant before, I didn’t know whether she even went to this restaurant. I did know that she worked about two miles from the restaurant. So, I attributed my thoughts to a figment of my imagination triggered by the location of the restaurant.

The next day when I went to meet my friend, I arrived at the restaurant about 20 minutes early. I sat in a chair near the door so I would be able to see my friend when she arrived. But as I sat I became consumed with thoughts about running into Jane. I began to wonder if I should move away from the door, out of sight. After giving it some thought I decided that I had an overactive imagination and I would stay put. My friend arrived and we found a table near some windows facing one of the several walkways to the front door. After chatting with my friend for about a half-hour I looked up and saw Jane walking up the sidewalk to the front door. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. I did a double-take just to make sure, and it was her. I turned my attention back to my friend, but from the corner of my eye, I saw her glance over at me. I did not see her once she arrived in the restaurant. The restaurant has various walls and corners, so I didn’t know where she sat.

While talking to my friend I was only half engaged in our conversation. I kept thinking about what happened the day before and being consumed with thoughts of Jane. As I talked with my friend, I realized that God knew she was going to be there. Then it hit me! He was warning me. He was preparing me for the encounter. When I saw her, I did not have any negative feelings towards her, and I did not feel any anxiety. Knowing that He warned be about having a negative, or challenging conversation with Jane, I made it a point to focus my attention on my friend. I did not want to open the door to a potential negative encounter with Jane so I decided it would be to my benefit to avoid her.

 Praise God for the warning! I pray if the Lord warns you that you do not ignore Him as well.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. Matthew 2:12

Blessings,

Sandra

Ahhh Man!

Every day before I start my morning devotions, I say a quick prayer asking the Lord to help me to forgive those that I need to forgive. As the year ends it is still one of my top prayers. It is at the top of my list because I’ve learned that sometimes I thought I forgave someone only to find out that I didn’t. I keep the prayer at the top of my radar because I found I would unexpectedly tighten up with the mention of someone’s name I thought I had let go of ill feelings towards. It was because of those times that I will begin this year as normal with prayers to forgive and to be forgiven.

This reminder to not lose sight of harboring unforgiveness popped up a few weeks ago. During my morning prayer time, I asked the Lord to bring forth to my mind anyone in my life that I had not truly forgiven so I could forgive them. Now let me step aside and just be real. Here is what happened. Immediately after saying the prayer the Lord whispered a name to me. He said, “Jane Doe.” And in the blink of an eye anger rose up in me and I blurted out, “That is a despicable person!” Also, in response to this mean statement my hand instantly flew to my mouth as if to stop the words from coming out, but it was too late. My shoulders slumped and I said, “Ahh man, Lord I am so sorry! Forgive me.” I shook my head in disbelief. How could I say that? I thought sure I had let go of all anger. Though I realized the Lord had simply done what I asked; He brought forth someone in my life I had not truly forgiven, it was still a very painful experience.

I stopped right then and asked for forgiveness for the anger I felt, the words I spoke, and for the Lord to change my heart towards this person. As the year ends, I encourage you to do the same. You may be surprised who the Lord brings up. What has been your experience with forgiveness? Please comment below.

12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matthew 6:12

Blessing,

Sandra

Seek Him!

As a part-time instructor, I’m often challenged with pushing through times when I’m not teaching. As a contracted employee I get paid only when I teach. So, keeping your name on the schedule is extremely important. When I first started teaching over 20 years ago, I was very proactive about getting on the schedule. I was constantly sending emails to the scheduler and letting them know I was ready to teach. As a new instructor, I saw and did what my peers did. They said, “If you want to teach you need to establish a relationship with the scheduler and stay on their radar.”

Though I understood the importance of being on the schedule I found it extremely stressful. Not only did I feel like a pest, but I was also consumed with checking my email and flipping through my calendar. It seemed like I was checking my email every five minutes. When I wasn’t on the schedule, I also spent hours looking at my calendar. I kept thinking, OK, I need to get a class on this date, so I can get a paycheck on this date so that I can have the money to pay this bill on this date. As the days passed, the stress mounted since I would have to go back to the calendar and recalculate the missed paydays.

The stress caused me numerous sleepless nights, until one day I realized I was not standing in faith. I wasn’t standing on God’s promise to supply all my needs. I was taking control of my schedule when I should have given my schedule to Him. Against the advice of my family and my friends, I decided it was time for me to stand in faith and give my schedule to the Lord and stop contacting the scheduler. I suddenly had a tremendous amount of peace. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that for the past 20 years I have not had a time when I wasn’t teaching. What I am saying is that whenever I found myself getting a little worried, I reminded myself to stand on his promise and trust that he would send the class to me that I needed when I needed it. As a result of that faith, I can honestly say that I have taught steadily for the past 20 years. Well, let me say almost! My last class ended in September.

This time of year can be very stressful because it’s generally hard to pick up a class during the holidays. Many students don’t like to go to class during the holiday season. So, as each day passed, I found myself becoming more and more anxious. I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Thinking about it during my exercise class. Thinking about it when I should be doing my Bible study. I became consumed with fear and doubt. Here I was after 20 years, not standing in faith. I was listening to my coworkers and not the Lord. I kept struggling with wanting to take control of my schedule. I was desperate! It was a difficult battle until I woke up a few nights ago and asked myself the question, who are you going to believe, the world or the Lord? After a long night of restless sleep, I decided enough was enough! No more battle!!! God was in control, and I needed to trust Him and get my mind off my situation and in line with the Lord. So, this morning instead of saying a prayer about my situation, and retelling the Lord, over, and over, the things that I know He already knew I prayed differently. I prayed for Him to show me how I could serve him. I asked Him to bring people to me I could minister to and show them some love and kindness. Boy did he! And within 24 hours He rocked my world!

After praying this prayer, I went to my aerobics class. When I arrived, I saw one of my friends and I noticed that she looked frustrated and angry. I asked her what was going on. She told me that she thought it would be a good idea to collect money for the instructor of the class as a Christmas present. She said she started the collection only to find out she had upset two other members in the class who were planning to do it but had not yet started. Apparently, they felt slighted, because they had been doing it every year for the past several years. My friend has only been in the class for about a year and did not know this information. When I arrived, my friend told me what happened. She was very angry that her good deed had been stomped on. After listening to her I immediately knew what the Lord wanted me to do. I told her that I couldn’t tell her what to do. But if it were me, I would pass the responsibility of collecting the money back over to them. I told her I would do it with love. I would do it without offense. I said, “Don’t fight over it, don’t argue over it, don’t be offended.” She said, ok.

After we finished talking another member of the class stopped me and handed me a Christmas card. I was so surprised! She told me not to open it until I got home. I said, OK and left. When I got home, I opened the card and my heart stopped. Inside the card, I saw three $100 bills. I was shocked! It took my breath away! In the card, she explained why she gave it. A couple of months ago I twisted my knee while walking. She saw me in class one day not participating at my normal level and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I needed a leg brace for my injured knee but the one that I needed cost $300 and it wasn’t in the budget. She placed a note on the card saying that she gave me the money to get the brace that I needed. Not only did the Lord allow me to bless someone else, He blessed me as well.

I then sat down to pray and read the Bible. While reading I received a notification that I had received an email. When I opened my email, my heart stopped for a second time that day. The email asked would I be interested in teaching a class. I screamed yes!!!

Once I surrendered and gave the situation to the Lord, and took the focus off myself, not only did He give me the opportunity to minister to someone, He blessed me for doing it. Also, the next day after my friend gave the money collection back to the original members they decided to split the responsibility! Praise God!

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:13

Blessings,

Sandra

Let Go and Let God 2

The funny thing about walking with the Lord is that is He always seems to start working in my life long before I recognize it. My usual weekend routine is to go to a coffee shop and have coffee at about 6 am. But this past week I had been exercising a lot, so I ended up oversleeping and I did not arrive until about 6:30 am. When I arrived, I went to the counter to order, but it was held up because someone had forgotten to make the coffee. They know I like my food and coffee at the same time, so I had to wait for the coffee to brew. After the coffee was finished, my breakfast was prepared, and I went to a table to eat. While eating and enjoying time with the Lord a guy walked in and sat down at the table near me. I recognized him immediately. I had ministered to him at the same coffee shop about four years ago. You can read about that encounter here

When he sat down, I looked up at him and said, “It’s John right?” He said, “Yes. I didn’t know if you remembered me.” I said, “Yes I do.” He said, “You’re in the ministry aren’t you.” I said,” Yes.” He said, “Do you mind if I sit down and talk with you.” I said, “Not at all.” As he sat down, I said a silent prayer for the Holy Spirit to speak during this conversation. We talked for about 45 minutes. He caught me up on what had happened since the last time we spoke, and where his relationship was with the girl, he spoke about four years ago. We prayed, and then he left.

As he left and I packed up my things to leave I marveled at God’s timing. The Lord’s first intervention was to have me oversleep. His second intervention was when I got there, I couldn’t get my coffee and breakfast as soon as I entered because someone had forgotten to make the coffee. So, I had to sit and wait for the coffee to brew. These events caused me to stay at the coffee shop longer than I usually do. If I hadn’t overslept, and if the coffee had been ready when I got there, I would not have been in the restaurant, and this divine intervention would have never taken place.

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21.

Blessings,

Sandra