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

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

Sing – Along

Yesterday I went to my exercise class and at the end of the class, the instructor played a slow love song for us to cool down and slow down our heart rate. The song was one of those sappy girly songs, so everyone cheered when it began to play. The song was about a guy telling his wife or girlfriend that he will always love her, and never give up on their relationship. We loved it!

After the class ended, I sang and hummed the song on the way to my car.  I liked it so I decided that I wanted to find out the name of the artist who sang the song so I could buy it.  Since there’s a line in the song that is kind of catchy, I figured the song and the artist would be easy to find. Unfortunately, I never got that far. As soon as I got to the car my mind reverted to the tasks on my to-do list and I immediately forgot the lyrics. My mind went blank.

Later in the day after I got a chance to relax, I remembered that I wanted to buy the song. However, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t remember anything about the song. I turned off the television, I closed my eyes, and I searched my brain for the lyrics without success. Finally, I knew that I needed help, so I prayed and asked the Lord to help me remember, and boy did he! After going to bed for the night I was jolted awake at about 2:13 am. The only way I can describe what happened is to say that it felt like the Lord took the song and pushed it into my spirit. As soon as that happened, I started to sing. Immediately I recognized what the Lord had done so I jumped up in bed and grabbed a piece of paper and pencil from my nightstand and wrote the lyrics down. I was in awe over what had happened. But what was even more amazing was the experience of having the Lord push them into me. I felt the song dive into my spirit. It was an amazing feeling.

After writing down the lyrics I wondered what made this the right time and place for Him to speak to me. Is my brain too occupied at other times for him to get through? Maybe it was because I was listening to some scriptures to some soft music while sleeping. Did this open the door? Whatever it was I wanted to do it again! Several questions popped into my mind as I reviewed the experience before falling back to sleep. I’ve heard people say that once you experience the presence of the Lord you never forget it. I agree to that 100%! If there is a way that I could figure out how to live in that space all the time, believe me, I would. I pray the same for you.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Blessings,

Sandra

 

 

Clicked into Place

This week has been a challenging one. In addition to teaching a strategic management class to graduate students, I am also taking a week-long workshop required for all instructors. This workshop was extremely important because I needed to pass it in order to continue teaching at the graduate level.

I wanted to do well, so I canceled all of my activities for the week to focus on teaching my class and attending the workshop. In order to get a head start on the workshop, I began three days early to give me enough time to complete the daily assignments successfully. I did not just want to pass the workshop by the skin of my teeth, I wanted to pass with flying colors!

Though I started three days early I still struggled. As each day passed, I was becoming anxious because I was not ahead like I thought I would be. The workshop was just downright hard! I felt like I needed more time, but three days was all the school allows in terms of early access to a class or workshop.

Finally, day one of the workshop rolled around and I moved ahead with caution, trying to remain calm. At the end of the first day, I felt confused and frustrated. Fear and panic were bubbling at the surface of my skin. About halfway through day two, I stopped to take a break. I needed to refocus and take a breath. I needed to get it together because I had three and a half days left and I needed to be sharp and focused.  I didn’t want to allow myself to develop a bad attitude or for the frustration and fear of failure to consume me.  So, on edge, I left my office to get some lunch.

While eating lunch I tried not to think about the workshop, but I knew sooner rather than later I needed to get back to work. The time had come to return to the workshop, so I stood up and began walking back to my office. As I walked, I prayed, “Lord help me to do well in this workshop. I’m not understanding this. Help me to get it. “

I walked over to my computer and as soon as I sat down it felt like a light bulb clicked on.  Fear and anxiety left, and I had clarity. Within 15 minutes I not only completed the activities for day two with full understanding, but I also started the assignments for day three. I finally was a day ahead like I originally planned. From that moment of clarity, everything just clicked into place. Hallelujah! I passed the class with flying colors.

4 I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4

Blessings,

Sandra

 

Voice of the World

Not too long ago I received a telephone call from a friend who told me that they were hiring at their company. From what I knew about the company and what they told me about the job I thought it was a great fit. I was very excited! My friend John told me one of our mutual acquaintances, David, had gotten him his job there, and he was passing the blessing forward to get me hired as well. He said that he went to the CEO of the company and sang my praises! He told me that I should contact the CEO personally to get the ball rolling. So, I sent the CEO an email, and a copy of my resume and I was quickly given an appointment for a face-to-face interview.  

I went to the interview, and I felt it went very well. I was excited, and I could tell the CEO was excited as well. At the end of the interview, the CEO walked me to the reception area.  As the two of us said our goodbyes, I looked up and I saw David standing in their copy room. I said, “Hi David.” David then said, “Oh my goodness, hi Sandra!” David then came out and hugged me. The CEO looked shocked and said, “You know David?” I said, “Yes I do.”  As soon as the CEO spoke I heard, the Lord say, “Three people working here from the same company.” That was all he said, but I walked out the door feeling that they were not going to hire three people who knew each other, and three people who used to work together at the same company.  As I left, I felt sad and disappointed, and I thought about it and prayed about it all the way home. As soon as I got home, John sent me a text message saying that he had just gotten out of a meeting with the CEO and they were so impressed they were ready to make an offer. He said they were going to stop their candidate search. He said that I should expect an offer within the next 24 hours. I was so excited to hear that I started to jump up and down.  

I waited patiently to receive that email that would begin with the word’s congratulations! However, within 24 hours I did not receive a congratulations email. Instead, I received a rejection letter. I was blown out of the water. How could this happen? John said I was in! But then it hit me. John said I was in, but the Lord did not. I completely lost what the Lord had said earlier. All I heard was that a job offer would come within 24 hours. I realized at that moment the anguish I had caused myself by letting go of the Lord’s words and grabbing hold of the voice of the world.  

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.  Proverbs 3:6

 Have you ignored the voice of the Lord? Please share your comments below.

 Blessings, 

Sandra

 

 

 

The Squatter!

A few weeks ago I had a vision. In this vision, I saw myself walking into my office. When I walked up to my door, I noticed that the light in my office was already on. As I made my way in I wondered why it was on. My office light works using a motion sensor. Usually, when I walk in I put my key in the door, I step in, and once I am in the light will come on. This was not the case in my vision. I could see through my small window from the hallway the light was already on.

I unlocked the door and headed to my chair and the cabinet behind it to put my purse in the drawer. When I stepped behind my chair, I noticed that on the floor behind my chair was a bright blue zip-up jacket. I bent down to pick it up, and as I did this, I thought, hmmm, I guess the cleaning person the night before must have dropped their jacket before they left. I reached down to pick it up, and as I lifted my head I glanced at the top of my desk, and I noticed that it was cluttered with food, a cell phone, and some papers. I was shocked by what I saw. At the end of each day when I leave, my office is perfect. Each day before I leave I clear my desk of all papers, and folders and place them in a drawer and lock it. Now my desk was full of food, someone’s cell phone, and other things piled up on it. It looked like someone had been sitting at my desk eating after I left. It looked like whoever it was had made themselves at home. It also looked like they had done this before.

As I glanced at my desk, I then glanced up at the wall opposite my desk at the clock. It was 5:45 am. I gasped! I don’t come into work until 8 o’clock. I would never come to the office at this time. I thought how I could get up, get dressed, and drive to work, and not notice that I was two hours early. That is when I noticed that there was a woman standing in the corner of my office.

She was standing still like she did not want to be noticed, but at the same time, she had a look on her face that said she belonged there. As I looked at her I saw that she was not an attractive woman, she looked old and worn out. She stood like this was her space; this was where she lived. I thought to myself if I had not come into work early I would not have caught this woman. She just stood there with a matter-of-fact look on her face and a presence like she had no intentions of leaving, and she stood without fear.

As I looked at her, I realized I had to change some things about how I was approaching my spiritual battles. I learned if I already have a squatter in my house praying for protection is not going to be much help. I have to kick them out first!

8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:8-11 MSG

Blessings,

Sandra

The Empty Space

As I was driving to the mall to do my morning mall walk, I kept thinking that it was such a beautiful day that I should walk outside rather than inside the mall. I am an avid mall-walker, but I also love to walk outside as well. The desire to be outside was strong, but it was so early I thought it might be a little too chilly. As I drove, I kept looking at the temperature gauge to see if it would move by the time I arrived at the mall.
When I arrived, I got out of the car, and I noticed the temperature was ok for walking, but out of habit, I headed straight for the mall doors. I went to the door and pulled it to go in, but the door was locked. I will not be able to mall-walk today. I laughed as I realized that walking outside ended up being a decision that I did not have to make. So, I turned around and started to walk around the mall parking lot. As I started to walk, I said to myself, “I wonder if I’m going to find any money.” Usually, when I walk outside, I will find some change. Most of the time it is pennies, but it is found money all the same. When I find it, I pick it up, thank God, pray over it, put it in my pocket, and keep walking.

Walking is a great time for me to talk to the Lord. On this beautiful morning, I started talking to Him about something that I had been reading in my devotional. It was about hearing His voice. My reading discussed how many Christians get frustrated when trying to distinguish their voice from His. As we walked and talked, I said, “How are we supposed to know that it’s you and not us?” He said, “Just give your voice to me every morning.” I said, “Hmmm, ok.” I said a quick prayer to give Him my voice, and I continued to walk.

As I walked, I came to a section of the parking lot where I saw several delivery trucks parked in a row. From my left to my right, there was, truck one, truck two, an empty space, and then there was truck three and truck four. For me to get the maximum number of steps while walking, I walk around the perimeter edge of the parking lot, so that meant that I would walk to the right of truck number four.

As I approached the trucks, I made a step to the right to go around truck four, but just as I made that step, it was almost as if I felt a rope yank me, and direct me away from truck four and steer me to the empty space. I got about three-quarters of the way down the space, when I saw something on the pavement glistening in the sun. It was unusually bright. I had not seen anything that bright before, so it caught my eye. As I walked towards it, I saw sparkling bright like a shiny star was a dime. All I could do was laugh! I shook my head, and said, “So that is what you are saying. Give my voice to you and you will direct my path.”

I then did what I always do when I find money. I lifted it up to the Lord, prayed for a blessing, and kept walking.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

Blessings,

Sandra

Commit or Quit!

I don’t remember the exact day or time I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. But there is a day that had a significant impact on my spiritual growth and development.

I was raised Catholic but stopped going to church after graduating from high school. My sister was saved when she was in her 20s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I knew that once she was saved, she started praying for me to get saved as well. She mentioned she wanted me to be in heaven with her. I credit those consistent prayers with my ultimate decision to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. At that time, I had a limited knowledge of salvation. I did not have enough knowledge to take action even if I wanted to.

Though I had limited knowledge about the things of faith, I often felt that something was missing in my life. I have always known about prayer, and I realize now I have always been led by the Lord, but at that time I thought it was all me. I thought I was making good decisions or, I had good instincts. So, church was never the solution; I felt I was doing just fine without it. I couldn’t bring myself to go back to church. All I knew was that I felt I never learned anything practical. I felt I did not learn anything I could walk out the door and do. So, instead of returning to church, I got up every Sunday morning, and I went to a variety of different bookstores that had a café within the store. I would order a cup of coffee and a muffin and read books like Chicken Soup for the Soul. That was my church. The stories always touched me. It was reaching a part of my heart that was left dormant for a very long time. Love, encouragement, and faith rose up within me.

This ritual went on for several years until it was not enough. I was not being filled. Now what; I thought. I started noticing a lot of mega churches popping up, so I thought maybe I would give them a try. So, I dropped my cafe church and started to slowly church hop. I cannot count the number of churches I visited. Most of them I would sneak out within the first 15 to 20 minutes when they started preaching about paying tithes. I always sat in the back row, so I could sneak out unnoticed. I very seldom paid attention. If I had not gotten groceries the day before I would prepare my grocery list. If a good movie were playing at the local theater, I would sneak out to get to the matinee on time, or I left early to beat the traffic. I was going through the motions. I wasn’t listening to the sermons; I wasn’t reading the Bible, I wasn’t growing. I just showed up at church because that’s what you do on Sunday mornings.

One day while sitting in the back row of a church thinking about my To Do List, I heard a voice on the inside of me speak. I immediately recognized it was the Lord. He said, “Either commit or quit.” His voice hit me like a ton of bricks. It was powerful and said in a way that meant; it is your choice. Choose me or the world. I was shaken to the core. Suddenly I was hit in the face with my behavior. I felt miserable. I felt ashamed. I looked around at all the faces looking at the pastor and shaking their heads and saying amen, and here I was with a pen and paper completing a task list. I was chastised and challenged by the Lord. I had to make a choice. I was wasting time. I sat up straight n the pew, and I tried to listen to the rest of the sermon as best I could, but I had missed so much I could not follow what he was saying, and what made it worse I realized I did not even have a bible. That was it. Things had to change. I left church and spent the afternoon driving around to different bookstores to purchase a Bible. I found one I liked so I purchased my first Bible with a nice leather carrying case. Thus, began my journey of transforming to my new life as a committed believer.

When I showed up for church the next week, I sat five rows from the front with my brand-new bible. My knowledge of salvation was still limited. I still only understood that if I got saved, I would go to heaven. But now I had a fire in me that knew this was something I could not pass up. My family and friends noticed a change in me. Though I could not minister to them, I remember speaking with a relative who had not accepted Jesus as their Lord and savior. They did not think they needed to. They felt that if they lived “right” they would get to heaven. I said, “Well for me I’d rather accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and get to the pearly gates, and they tell me I do not need Jesus rather than I get there, and they tell me I do, and turn me away. That’s a chance I’m unwilling to take.” I said, “I encourage you to fully commit to the Lord.”

35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. Mark 8:35

Blessings,

Sandra