You Asked,

“Why am I Standing Alone in the Desert? How did I Get Here? And Why me?”

In verse [Hosea 2:14] “her” does not specifically refer to “a woman”, but rather to all peoples, to a nation, or perhaps; you, me, or them…

It says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her and lead her to the wilderness, and speak to her tenderly.” [Hosea 2: 14]

What would you do, if one day you wake up and feel like you are all alone standing in a desert? You wonder, “How did I get here?”.  Another daunting question arises; “Why me?”

What and who caused you to find yourself in a lonely land, tasting the bitterness of loss and sorrow? These questions will continue nibbling away at your soul, unless you stop and refocus.

Have you considered that perhaps you are the cause of your unhappiness and loneliness?

Conflicts, aggravations, and losses can cause devastation and can be debilitating. So where do you go from there? Do you choose to stay with bitterness and anger, becoming isolated and unhappy?  Or do you draw closer to God, looking to Him for direction? With Him you can begin to leave the desert of unhappiness, and seek a lush landscape of peace and contentment. With His help and guidance, you can build a platform in this new place, where your pain can bring others hope.

If you believe in God, then you know that God never wastes any of your pain. He will use your hurt for good in your life, so that you can live joyfully and help others. God didn’t create us just to live for ourselves. The very thing that you’re ashamed of, and resent the most, can become your greatest ministry in helping others. God did it for me and He will do it for you too. Gird your waist with truth and get [Ephesians 6:15]  your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Good News of peace. And bring all you have—the good and the bad—to the platform where your life’s journey has brought you.  Then watch how God will use your devastation for His purpose.

[Hosea 2:14] tells of God’s love story for His people. His love is steadfast and His commitment unbroken.

When we lose appreciation for our special relationship with Him, when we compromise our lifestyle and adopt the ways of the world—pursuing dreams and goals that do not include Him, we are being unfaithful. 

Like a loving and patient father, God wants people to know Him and turn to Him daily.  

Briefly, I assure you that I have traveled through the desert of life a few times. The good news is I wasn’t alone—the Lord tenderly spoke to me in that parched land. As it is written in His word, each time, He taught me a new lesson. 

What I have learned from these lessons is this: Pain and suffering, placed in the hands of a loving God, can lead to a shift of focus from my own issues to God’s greater glory. My hardships can teach me to trust His promises, and remind me that life on earth is a struggle. They cause me to long for a place where there is no conflict, sorrow, death, crying, or pain. It’s a life in eternity.

He Said, “You are Onto Something!”

Maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. At times, deep maturity is evident in a person whose years are brief and fragile.  

A few years ago, I had an authentic and engaging conversation with an intelligent young man, who was wise beyond his years.  He was always in search of the Truth. I know few who have come even close to his knowledge of God. 

He was a curious young man; he had a deep yearning to understand every religion. He made it his business to learn about everyone’s beliefs. One day, it happened that it was my turn to sit across the breakfast table with him. His curiosity was coming from the absolute source of his faith. At that moment, he wanted to know about my belief. At first, I noticed a hint of skepticism peeking through his words. Yet he was eager to hear the truth of God’s faithfulness in my life’s journey.  

I gladly shared my spiritual beliefs with him without hesitation, as I always get fired up when talking about the evidence of God’s grace and His presence in my life. I shared my Testimony with him, explaining how God miraculously showed up in my life. He listened, and as we exchanged thoughts, a genuine smile appeared on his handsome face. He said, “You’re definitely onto Something”.  He then continued, “So how do you describe your belief in view of religion? Do you consider yourself a religious person?”

“Aha!”, I said, “Now, that’s the question that I love to hear! Because the answer is the key which unlocks the door to many questions…

Yes, I’m a follower of Christ Jesus and I’m called a Christian. But I don’t see myself as a religious person ‘per se’… look…, I can simply tell you this: I don’t look at it as though I follow a religion, but rather I have a relationship with God.”

When I finished speaking, he was really moved. He said, “I love that… relationship vs. religion.” He was interested to know more. 

I continued, “If we practice only religious rituals and call ourselves religious, while not having a close and trustworthy relationship with God (the kind of relationship best described as one between a loving Father and his child), how can we possibly live a righteous life? I don’t think the religious rituals can ‘fix’ our sin problem; it’s our daily relationship with God through Christ Jesus which will daily rescue us from the mire of sin. It won’t be done all at once, rather, it’s one step at a time.” 

I went on to say, “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to undermine any religion, or its rituals. Rituals are inherently good, but empty, man-made rituals [which, possibly, nullify the Word of God] are wrong. Any ritual that replaces, obscures, or diminishes a vibrant relationship with Christ, is practiced in vain. Repetitious prayers, or even praise songs repeated without wholehearted devotion to the Creator can lead to dullness in worship, rather than the free expression of one’s heart, mind, and soul before God. 

If you give careful attention to God’s word, you will see that all of history (from Abraham’s time in the Old Testament, up until the beginning of the New Testament) points to the coming of Christ. Most of the Old Testament’s rituals were never intended to be a permanent part of our worship; they were only foreshadowing the events in the New Testament. 

Christianity, is not ritual-based. Rather, it is relationship-based.The only ‘liturgy’ or ‘rituals’ commanded in the New Testament are: baptism and communion.

Baptism requires water, [Matthew 28:19] and communion requires bread and the cup [1 Corinthians 11:25]. 

The living God through Jesus has made those who believe in Christ His own children.” Then, I pointed him to the verse—[John 1:12 | NIV]

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

At this point in our discussion, the Truth was spoken and passed on with a deep understanding, because the Lord was in the midst of our conversation. The wise young man who was sitting across the table from me was astonished and delightfully satisfied with the evidence we both had before our eyes [the Word of God]. He was impelled to speak and with much excitement in his voice, his words echoed the truth loudly,

”One God, the Father. One advocate, the Son. And One helper, the Holy Spirit—Trinity.”

I added, “Evidently, Trinity [the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three in One] is the reason we are here, to encounter His love through relationship, not through empty rituals.” 

Before I moved from the table with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I looked at this young man, truly seeing his innermost soul through his electrified eyes, and analytic mind. I said to him, “Young man, Now, YOU are ‘Onto Something’ …you’re a messenger!”

Do you Run from God, or Run to God?

A wise person once told me, “The most courageous thing you can do when you hear discouraging words, or when the world starts spinning around you is run to God and drop to your knees in prayer. Ask for the kingdom of God to come and rule over your world.”

It doesn’t matter how strong our faith in God is, we still live in a broken world with many peaks and valleys, causing us to feel weary and restless. I’ve learned the only way to get in the flow of God’s Word is by relying on prayer to keep my focus on the things above.

Dear Lord, 

You tell us in [Matthew 11:28-30] to come to you when we are weary and burdened, and you will give us rest. You invite us to take your yoke upon us and learn from you, for you are gentle and humble in heart, and we will find rest for our souls. For your yoke is easy and your burden is light. 

Lord, based on your Word, I humbly come before your throne of grace asking you to lighten my burdens and help me to find rest for my soul. Amen!

Great news, [Matthew 11: 28-30] tells us that we’re not alone, Jesus is our burden-bearer.

As I come across verses in the Bible that speak directly to my condition and my experience, I add them to my list of prayers. I pray through these verses often; they help me to remember that when things feel like they are falling apart (mentally, emotionally, or physically), God is always in control. 

If you’re experiencing moments of pain and discouragement, I encourage you to hold on to the Truth [the Word of God] despite what others think. The things that they may view as falling apart may actually be falling into place.

God’s Word [the Bible] reminds us that the same God who set the universe in motion is the same God that holds our lives in His hands. You can cling to the truth of His Word. Remember, truth is found in God, not in the opinions of others. God does not want for us to use His teachings to become self righteous, or to justify our actions, but rather to speak the truth boldly with love, like Christ who is meek and humble in heart. 

I’m not perfect, nor do I claim to be. That is why I’m in need of a SAVIOR. That is why I keep going to His Word—the book of life—the Bible. It reveals the contrast between the kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of God.

It points me to God’s love, Jesus Christ, who guides me and teaches me new lessons daily.

As it is written: There is none righteous, not even one … [Romans 3:10]

No one is holy, and no one should act as if they are. God alone is Holy!

Do You Run From God, or Run to God? Whom do You Talk to? Whom do You Trust? Where do you go for an understanding of the world you live in?

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you, but

I learned many lessons while my head was bowed down in prayer.

Now 2020 is in the rear-view mirror.

It’s good to glance back and see how far you’ve come. But if you stare too long you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.

Our pastor has encouraged us by saying, “At any given moment you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end.

No Matter what you face in the future, you will not be alone. Being anxious, borrowing trouble is not going to help you to solve your problems, or make things happen. All it does; makes you lose your focus on what you have before you at the moment.

If you could see your entire life all at once, it would no doubt be overwhelming. That’s why God let’s each day unfold in 24-hour segments. Trust your maker; he gives us just enough power and grace to handle today’s matters…” Just live in the present.” — Rick Warren

Your story has a good endings. You will face your maker, Eternal bliss!

Happy New Year, lovely people!

May 2021 be a year of health, unity, peace, and joy! 🙏🎉

#staysafe

#staywell

#2021

The Art of Listening to the “Good News”!

Can you hear?

True love comes quietly,

And listening love can hear

Are you listening to the sound of the Heavenly realm?

Are you ready to hear the “Good News”?

“Love” is here

You may have your back against the wall at this very moment

And you don’t know what to believe or who to trust

Your strength is zapped

You can’t even pray

And your nights are long

Where do you turn to?

If you complain, your spirit grows faint

But, if you tune in and listen

The voice of “Love” says,

            ———

As long as “I Am” existing,

You will be loved.” [1 John 4:8]

As long as “I Am” existing, you will not be alone.” [Joshua 1:9]

“I have sent you My Word [My son] to help you.” [1 John 4:14]

He will guide your every step.” [John 16:13]

He will teach you how to move from the wall that is

Causing you suffering and hardship.

          ———

If you can’t pray

The art of listening

to the “Good news” is:

Cry out to God,

Seek Him,

Surround yourself in Him

Calm down; quiet everything, listen

Admit everything to Him,

And ask for growth

Be ready to hear Him

When your back is against the wall,

Instead of saying “Woe”, say “Wow”;

You will discover undeniable strength to move forward

Come to the spacious place

Praise God’s ways and follow Him into the unknown

You don’t have to have

all the answers to believe,

Just TRUST God!

For He has sent you a Savior, Jesus Christ!

Hold His hand,

And let Him lead the way

MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎄

Gratitude is a Divine Emotion—it Fills the Heart!

How can you know that God is with you when the world around you is in total chaos? What would you like to hear or see to comfort you and give you peace in these uncertain moments? Sometimes, when your world is spinning around you, even prayers and thankfulness become a battle and it feels like God is far, far from you. Yet, practicing even a quick moment of gratitude has the power to bring you to a deeper level of understanding of your situation. It comforts you and deepens your relationship with God. 

Most of my one-on-one conversations [Prayers and praise] with God happen when I go for a long walk at the beach by myself.  One day as I was walking, I began my prayers with a heavy heart. Tears, and worries—the “why, what, and how long” of my situation filled my thoughts… But soon things shifted.

I asked, “Lord, please let me hear you. What I should do? Why is there so much pain, hatred, and heartache …?” I wasn’t sure if I would get my answer right away. Then, to my surprise, I heard “I love you”. It was like a breeze. It wasn’t the answer I was waiting for; it wasn’t exactly the solution to my battle, but it was all I needed to hear, which is all that matters. As I humbly embraced the answer to my questions, I began to wrap myself with an attitude of gratitude. And honestly, the worry, sadness, and heaviness of heart began to dissipate. Knowing that God loves me was more than enough. I had the assurance everything else would eventually fall into place.  At that point I started to thank God, praising and worshiping him instead of complaining. By hearing those three magic words, “I love you”, I received the peace of God. The bottom line is: My problems and daily struggles did not immediately cease to exist, but my attitude of gratitude was enough to find peace in the midst of my struggle and hope for an eventual resolution.

My friend, not only do we need to express gratefulness to for our relationship with the Divine Spirit, we develop compassion and humility when we learn to be thankful for someone else’s kindness and care. When you get a phone call from someone who wants to check on you, or when you receive a text saying they’re praying for you, or you receive a warm meal while you’re sick in bed, or someone sends you followers; it all tells you that someone cares about you. You’re loved and valued. Practice gratefulness for their act of generosity in reaching out to you.

God cares even more about your well being. Because of his love for you, he sent Jesus who is the embodiment of God himself [his son], and he died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. So, when you come to accept Jesus as your savior, your sins are forgiven. Again, because he took your sins and died on the cross, you can have eternal and abundant life. That’s called love—no condemnation, no judgement, and no hidden agenda.

The Bible says in (Philippians 4:6)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When you and your loved ones are suffering, or you have a financial crisis, or marital problems, or other broken relationships, and you feel like nothing seems within your control, don’t lose hope. The good news is that God’s in the midst of your turmoil. You mattered to him yesterday, and you matter to him today, tomorrow, and the day after … What will your response be to God who is with you in your darkest hours? It should be thankfulness—you are not thanking God for your pain and adversity, but you acknowledge that He is sovereign and will never leave you or forsake you. You are thanking God because he is a good and loving God and he will use your situation for his purposes, bringing good out of even bad circumstances. Remember, there is a reason for everything that happens.

What are you THANKFUL for in such a time as this?

… And Then God Stepped in and Said, “You are Mine.”

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” [Isaiah 43: 1]

God has summoned us by our names to belong to him and claim his name. We are all important to him. Some of us have responded to His calling, but some haven’t…  When we bear God‘s wonderful name, we must never do anything that would bring shame to it. 

The question is: What’s your calling in life? Or, how do you know if your calling is from God? As for me, I did not have the answer to this question in the past. I didn’t know, until God stepped in and said, “You’re mine”.

Like so many others, I wanted to know my purpose in life. I wanted to free myself from the bars which had enclosed me. But I couldn’t do it by my own effort, I needed a bigger power. So here, I would like to share a small part of my testimony with you. 

While I was craving for freedom from the chains of the world and the flesh, heaven was calling me, with new visions to consider. I dreamt I was sitting at the foot of a mountain for quite a long time. God was offering me a journey up to the top of the mountain. I meditated, prayed, and pondered if I should take the path God was offering me. When I woke up, I knew in my heart God was telling me, “Get up, it’s time to move.” I asked myself, “Do I want to stay here in this land of pain, in a land filled with empty promises, selfishness, fear, pretentiousness, and deception, or should I take this journey—a walk up to a path with signs pointing to hidden treasures along the way?” The treasures were love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I had no doubt that this path was filled with truth! I was eager to know my purpose in life, I wanted to know how to live a life filled with enduring peace.

I began my journey by making some difficult changes which needed to occur. These changes manifested themselves as crawling in my next vision. Moving slowly on my hands and knees up a steep road, the crawl in my dream mirrored the struggles that I was having in real life. I wanted to release myself from the stronghold of the world’s distractions and bondage. To be free from the need to always please others or the desires of my own flesh. To live my life concerned only with pleasing God. For I knew that if I could obtain this freedom, everything else would fall into place. Spiritual freedom sounds so incredibly sweet – sweet as honey and precious as a jewel. The craving for such a jewel was overwhelming! So I pressed forward in faith. There were many turns, twists and even a few setbacks. But it was in the detours that I learned the biggest lessons! I was slowly getting to know myself and others, and most importantly, I was beginning to know my God.  

During this journey I was completely aware of the visible world. But I needed to put all my trust into what I could not see with my eyes. How was I able to continue to trust and keep moving forward toward the heavenly promises? Praise God! I had an army of godly people who were each on their own unique journey, praying and supporting me. They all were witnessing God’s miraculous work in my life. I was getting fixed from the inside out. 

The changes were happening as the Lord was unveiling His mystery. I could hear that the “deep” was calling to the depths of my soul. (Psalm 119:45) “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”

The journey of the dark night of the soul was over, and I heard God said, “You are mine!”

A calling from God will always be accompanied by His peace, as well as anything else we need. Sometimes God will ask us to do something big or scary, and while we may feel afraid, our fears will be met by God’s overwhelming grace and peace to do whatever it is He’s asking us to do. He will also never call us to do something without equipping us to do the thing He’s asking us to do. Read (Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:7) and you will be blessed.

Part two of “Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?”

We all face difficulties in our lives from time to time. Life doesn’t always go as smoothly as we wish. The key to withstand the hard times in our lives is simple but not easy: we must go through it, realizing the process will take time. God allows these times of self-reflection to make us realize that He is the one who is in control, and to make us aware of how much we need His light to direct us. Most importantly, God wants us to learn from the experience and move forward.

Individuals from the very beginning of creation, our ancient heroes of the faith, not only lived righteous lives, but also moved and carried on with a steady eye on the future. What made their faith unflinching was not just the promise of salvation or eternal life, but also a steadfast hope in a better tomorrow.

David the prophet was one of these heroes, a warrior and king with a zeal for God’s glory and His kingdom. Even as a righteous man of God, he went through many battles in his life. His cry echoes in his words in psalms. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation …” (Psalm 25:4).

Though David faced many hardships throughout his life, God used him mightily as a prophet. The lessons we can learn from David’s earnest plea for guidance is this: Cry out to God when facing trials of any kind, placing our troubles in the hands of the One who holds the future in His hands.

My friend, if your yesterday is weighing you down, put it down at the foot of the Cross [at the door of your faith]!

I pray that when you face unfortunate circumstances, you do not lose your focus on God; that under pressure, prayer would be the first thing to come from your lips; and that your words and actions would be directed by God. In His precious, mighty name, Amen!

Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?

Yesterday has left, but you are the one who is still holding on. That boat has already sailed with people and things that you once thought in your way, interfering with your life.

Can’t you see? They’re no longer there. If you want to be free, leave your past in the past, keeping the lessons taught to you. Nothing that has happened in your past can stop you from planning a magical future.

A wise man once said, “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on”.

Those who faithfully understand that God has their best interest at heart will turn to Him in time of trouble. When pressure comes and life squeezes them, prayers will come out of their mouths. Those who are not willing to release the past indulge themselves in self-pity, anger and bitterness. They are unable to see God at work in the circumstances of their lives. Their response is different—they keep going to their “yesterday’s pain”, rather than moving forward.

Holding onto previous pain results in unpleasant words and actions, causing even more pain for the injured person and others around them. Sadly, they end up damaging their character, relationships, and destroying their future. Sometimes they may not show an outward reaction or response, yet their silence shows that they haven’t let go of resentments and past pains.

As I learn to walk easily through the door of my faith, I am able to move through pain with my head bowed down in prayer, letting God’s favor [His word] surround me, guiding me along the path of His grace. Some days are much harder than others; I may be too tired physically, mentally and emotionally to deal with my or anyone else’s problems. In the past, I might have looked for a trouble-free life. But now as I drew closer to the truth, I realize God uses our life’s setbacks, trials, and conflicts to help us grow into the people He created us to be.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF “Why Do You Keep Going Back to Yesterday’s Pain?”

Jar of Prayers!

Carefully I carried the jar of prayers

to the gate of Heaven

Sat there… 

Tired, my strength was sapped

as in the heat of summer

from the arduous journey 

Waited for an answer at his gate

An angel opened the door 

Asked, “What is troubling you?”

I looked up, with an ocean of tears, 

and said, “I had a dream”

The angel came closer…

I continued to speak,

“In my dream, I heard a commotion.

I went outside to look – everyone was running in panic…

I asked them, ‘What’s going on!?’

They said, ‘Look up!’”

I looked up…

Every star had become a clock (time)

I was astonished and amazed

As people were running, their voices echoed,

“It’s the end of time, Jesus is coming!”

I cried out and bowed down to the ground,

Praying “O Lord, forgive us all”

Then I woke up…

Now, before it is too late

I’m here to offer prayers

asking forgiveness for our transgressions, 

and salvation for many souls

The angel sat next to me 

Marveling at the great gift of 

the Lord’s salvation and forgiveness

And comforting me with the wisdom of house of Zion 

“The Lord has seen your tears and heard your cries”, said the angel

who declared the glory of God and his promises,

just as everything around me proclaimed the work of his hand

I washed my hands in innocence (with the ocean of my tears),

and went about his alter

Proclaiming aloud his praise, 

and telling of all his wonderful deeds

— Parveen H. Michalow

Note: the “dream” part of this piece actually happened a few years ago…