Leb Blog

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Bully

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18 )

Do you ever look back on your life’s trail and wonder how you have been chiseled into who you are today? Life has good experiences and bad encounters. Through it all, life leaves pathways that we can glance back at while creating footpaths toward our future.

In my childhood years I struggled with a skin disease. It could have caused me to run and hide, and to wallow in shame.

Mrs. Brown. That name probably means nothing to you. But to me it is synonymous with kindness.

We are impacted by many stimuli in our world. As a young impressionable life anything could have marked me and set me on a path that would define me as a person. 

Simon, a young Galilean fisherman. That’s who you are Simon, a fisherman.
But what happens when he encounters Jesus?

Simon arrives at a crossroad. Jesus is there with encouragement, direction and his life is influenced, impacted and changed forever. 

The footsteps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, 

and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 
(Matthew 16:15-18)

Peter’s life would never be the same.

I recall as a little girl, Mrs. Brown asking my mom if I could attend her son’s birthday party. Now that would not normally be significant. But, to me this was a special invitation. Not many received this invite. Actually, no one in my circle did.

Mrs. Brown was my 2nd grade teacher. She saw beyond my skin and impacted my heart. Her kindness still echoes in my life today.

She understood bullying. Even in the 1960’s this spirit that wants to tear down young people was running wild. I was called all kinds of names. Mrs. Brown pulled me out and loved me. Her responsibility was to teach me. The lesson she taught me did not add up like mathematics. I could have read about kindness, but she allowed me to experience it.

Now, many years later I would come to another crossroads. Life continued to be a teacher to me, and Jesus wanted front seat, my whole heart.

God himself invited me to attend his Son’s gathering. No balloons, no hors d’oeuvre or music playing. A gruesome scene, people chanting crucify him. A man named Jesus is hanging on a cross.

Why? What kind of celebration is this?

A few days later I would better understand. Jesus was taking care of the “bully in the courtyard”. Death promised me separation from God. Jesus promised Eternal Life to the one who accepted the invitation. I reached out my trembling hands and said yes.

Just like Peter, my life would never be the same. Sin dealt with at the cross. The Blood of Jesus, his great love for me, covering a multitude of sin.

As I look back, God’s hand of direction for my life is evident. From school teachers who showed me grace and loved me to the ultimate encounter with God’s Son, Jesus.

Life continues to unfold, and the experiences continue to reveal the hand of God everywhere I look.

He is a merciful, gracious, loving Father and his invitation still stands. You are invited.
Will you accept his invitation?

The bully has been taken care off!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) 

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Song

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 )

What happens when you are in the midst of a mistake, some oversight or perhaps a miscalculation? I am a worshipper of the Most High God! This Sunday in the middle of the worship service I found myself unable to put together the melody to a simple song. A song that I could probably sing in my sleep. Was this an oversight or a direct hit to stop me from glorifying the Lord?

I have a team of 9 others who love the Lord. I looked over to my vocal backup just to be amazed that the song was still not flowing. What is happening?

The sanctuary is packed, and all eyes are on the platform. They are waiting for songs of praise and adoration to be lifted to the Lord instead they are observers of an unprecedented skirmish on the frontline.

We live in a fallen world where chaos and confusion try to rule. Families are struggling financially, marriages are falling apart, and children are rebelling against the Lord. Do you have a song?

Our weapons are not of this world! (2 Corinthians 10:4) They have divine power to demolish strongholds.

The enemy is coming, but my God is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1b) The LORD fortifies me and protects me from further casualty. He is my defense.

He reminds me to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

Did I read spiritual song? Yes!!

When trouble visits, we must be armed with a song. A song of praise with thanksgiving because the LORD has not forgotten us. If we are in sin, repent and worship the Lord! If the enemy has come to taunt us, open the arsenal and pull out the song of worship. This is a world where the enemy is always on call looking to whom he can devour. Don’t let it be you! Worship the Lord!

All eyes are on the platform. Should not all eyes be on the Lord? This is a distraction.

Stop! Stop all instruments and silence the interrupted song of praise.

I begin to call upon the Name of the Lord. With all the authority He has given me, I go into my collection, weapons of praise. Let’s put our eyes on the Lord.

I hear myself say the words, “Let’s do it like this!” I began to sing a song that has been deep in my heart from the days of old.

“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!! We praise you oh Lord, you are my defender! I will glorify your Name! You are worthy of all praise and I will exalt your Name.” Can you hear the chorus? Can you hear the applause as we all joined in the praise of God? Hallelujah!!!!

Satan will not prevail. He will not interrupt the worship of God. I am a worshipper of the MOST HIGH GOD and I will indeed exalt HIM!

All eyes on the platform to see what the Worship Leader will do. I will do what I am called to do, I will worship the LORD. I felt His presence and the arrest of the spirit of disturbance and confusion. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Why tell a story that most would want to run from? Life is those few seconds of choice where we decide if we will cave to confusion or rise to exalt the Lord. Do I hide and wallow in self-pity where Pride leads, or will I come under the Strong Tower and rise with a song of victory! I will rise. 

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.” (Psalm 27:1-2)

Liz Trivia: This was the first Psalm read to me when I got saved almost 30 years ago! You indeed are my Stronghold!

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)

God bless you!~Liz

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ancestry | Psalm23InMe

For Christmas I received a 23andMe kit. If you are not familiar with this, it’s a DNA kit that
processes your saliva and returns a description that depicts your DNA in colorful strands and detailed reports.

I can be a little skeptical, but I was pleasantly encouraged to see two of my relatives quickly listed and connected to me.

Yesterday was my reveal night along with my daughter-in-law. We both revealed our results while our husbands recorded the session and discovered a little bit more about us.

So, what did I discover?

My ancestry composition reads that my linage primarily comes from Iberia (Spain & Portugal). In the mix, my linage makes a connection with the British, Irish, West African and Italian cultures.

I indeed am a colorful expression of life!

No matter where we grow up, who raised us or where we are going, there comes a time where this life ends. You are probably wondering why so morbid?

I am amazed that through the decades and years of time, today I am alive in 2018. Influenced by family, touched by culture, taught by experiences, traditions and practices; it’s all fashioned me to be me!

But, could there be more that the report is not showing?

The Lord in his mercy has preserved me and has drawn me to an experience unlike anything that can be documented by looking at my DNA report. When the Spirit of the Lord drew me to himself there was a transformation in my soul that can not be reported by looking at my blood or picking apart my saliva.

You can however ask those who knew me before I entrusted my life to my Savior, Jesus Christ. The change was plain. Something has happened to Liz. I knew the change had occurred, but the evidence had credibility by those who testified from the outside.

I remember this unquenchable hunger to know God more! It was like a water dam that opened and swept me from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Who is this Jesus? Why do I feel so alive!

The simple expression of my need for a Savior opened a new chapter in my life. It’s a whole new book!!

IF the DNA test could document the spiritual transformation, the report would read differently.

Liz was dead and now is alive! A new line would emerge with a strong pulse of faith! A new heart beating! (Ezekiel 11:19) The historical trace would bring me back to the beginning. “For he chose me in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) Hope would be evident, infused in the very core of my being. A new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17) The family line would reveal my adoption! “In love he predestined me for adoption” (Ephesians 1:5-7) Look at my lineage! “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 AMP)

Now that’s a report!!

What does your report look like? Today can be the day where it all changes. He loves us. His family continues to emerge. Won’t you let him adopt you today?

“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 19:8-13)

Oh, interesting thought. I have Psalm23inMe. Death is no longer morbid 😊

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

God bless you!~Liz 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#love A Dead Plant and a $5 Movie

“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35)

When I was a little girl my dad made holidays special for my sisters & I. The house was dominated by 3 girls and my mom. In those days Hallmarks was the benchmark. I could always count on my dad to bring something home that would make us feel special. We were not wealthy just rich in love!

So, on a day like Valentine’s Day he would remind us that we were loved, bring home a card that expressed that he was glad he was our dad and of course the famous chocolates. My mom’s heart was always distinctive. She was the Queen and we were the Princesses. Simple things saying, “I love you”.

I’m now in my fifties, married and thankful to God for all the expressions of love in my life. God is Good. During a day like Valentines we often hear, “so did you get chocolates”? If you are in a dating relationship it is almost expected lest you question the authenticity of love. That sounds ridiculous but we have been lured by our commercialized world to believe love can only be expressed by expensive trinkets.  Don’t get me wrong, I like expressions of love, but I don’t want to pay for it for the next 3 months with an 18% interest rate.

So today was my date night with my husband. I was home sick and feeling tired. When he came home he had purchased some items at the store and put them on the counter. About two hours later I went into the kitchen and on the counter was a succulent cactus plant. It made me smile. I quickly went into the room thanked him for it. He remembered that I like cactus and purchased it for me. He began to tell me that when he went to pay for it the cashier said, “make sure you water it, it looks pretty bad”. Wow, a dead plant? Well, we laughed.

About now you are probably envisioning some scrawny, dried up cactus. But, it really was beautiful. I did water it and she is doing well. It’s the little things.

So, off to the movies we go. Today is bargain night so admission is only five dollars! As we are watching the previews I leaned over and said, “so what are we doing for Valentine’s Day”? He answered, “we are doing it right now”. To which I answered, “a dead plant and a $5 movie”. We laughed so hard I thought we were going to get shushed. Good thing the lights were out.

See it really is not about the cost. It’s about the simple things. Expressions of love can be expressed with a candy bar and a note that reads, “I love you”. Love speaks many languages. Love can be picking up the kids from school so mom (or dad) can take a nap. Love is a walk in the park, a pizza with a friend, or a vanilla shake with your daughter. Love is walking your neighbors dog or removing the snow from their driveway.  The ordinary things become extraordinary when they are shared with the ones we love.

Love is always trying to express emotions, intentions and convictions. 

Mornings usually bring peaks of sunshine that slip through the window blinds in my kitchen. The sunlight hits the floor tiles. As I walk toward the coffee maker I can feel the warmth on the bottom of my feet. It’s just a small reminder from my Heavenly Father that he is thinking about me. Open the blinds and a new day begins. He’s made the sun to shine and it brings life all around me. Even my scrawny plant benefits from His expression of Love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

So, do it today. Share expressions of love with those that God has put in your path. It might be as simple as sending a text that reads, “Just wanted to let you know, I love you”. (or can also pick up a cactus) #Love #ShareItToday

God bless you!~Liz

Friday, February 9, 2018

Prison: On Calvary's Hill

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

(Romans 6:23)

What do we do with the sins of yesterday? Sometimes we ignore them and just put them in a trash container. We don’t have to look at them again or pay the consequences for it. Nobody knows, and we somehow think that God has overlooked them as well.

When we pile garbage in a bag normally things go well, and we can bring the trash to the curb for pickup. Have you ever overstuffed the “hefty, hefty cinch bag” just to find out that you put one item too many and the results is trash all over the floor? If you live in the country, wildlife loves to get into the trash as well. Mornings can be stressful if we must begin the day by picking up yesterday’s dinner from the lawn. Huh!

The sins of yesterday try to inflict pain on today.

If yesterday’s sins are stuffed away we create an avalanche of pain for tomorrow. The Scriptures tell us to confess our sins for he is faithful and just to purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

A little lie can turn into agony later. Stealing shouts and calls us a thief. Adultery leads to mistrust and pain. Coveting returns as idol worship. Misusing the Name of the Lord finds us guilty before the Creator of the world. We have become slaves to sin. (Romans 6)

Guilty. We are found in the wrong before God. The handcuffs are brought out and we hear the “click” of no return. A prisoner of sin, we are now handcuffed and will pay for the sin committed. Truly our garbage will be exposed for all to see.

Our wrists in chains, attached to the Police who personally guarantees our destination.

But, what if there is a way of escape? What if the Lord himself provides a way out?

Jesus knows our weakness. He knows our fallen condition, and he is willing and has paid for the sins of men!

He has broken every chain and freed the prisoner. Go and sin no more!

“What God orders, he pays for”. (unknown)

Sin shouted take them to prison. Mercy stepped in picked up the garbage that was on display, removed the chains and paid the cost. The Authority of the Law, the Police himself shouts from Calvary's mountain “take me instead” and surrendered His hands to be crucified on our behalf.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

He provides a way of escape. 

Jesus was willing to die for you and me.  No need to carry the weight of sin.  He has taken it and calls out, "Go and sin no more".

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God bless you!~Liz

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Voice

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

I left the Book on a wooden crate by the sea shore next to my chair while I got up to get a cool glass of lemonade. The wind began to flip the pages and the fluttering let me know that the pages were turning. 

God is always speaking!

Often, we speak of hearing God’s voice. But what does that sound like to someone who has never experience the Lord?

This weekend I was at a restaurant and as I was leaving someone called my name. As I turned around her face looked familiar, but I could not quite figure out from where.

She recognized my voice as I was interacting with my friends at the dinner table. Once I got up she confirmed that the familiar voice indeed was me!

It may be difficult to explain how the Lord speaks. Let’s begin with the Book whose pages are now flapping in the wind. The Word of God speaks of who he is and goes into great detail on how far he will go to reach us. 

Creation speaks of Him!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

I was embarrassed that I did not recognize my friend at first. But a few quick moments into the conversation and I realized this woman had babysat my son for years. My son is a grown, married man now. It’s been years! Her ear was keen. Mine not so much.

Do we miss God sometimes?  Is our memory short-lived? 

She recognized the sound of my voice through dishes clashing at the restaurant, plenty of conversations and loud laughter.

Can you hear Him calling?

What I’ve discovered is that our voices are unique.

Image if your mom and dad had the same voice. That would be creepy! What if your favorite singer’s voice sounded like “Doc”, the inventor of the first-time machine from “Back to the Future.” Hmmm, no need to download that song.

The unique sound of our voice is like a fingerprint.

It’s that uniqueness that makes me, me. Each of us created special and exceptional in God’s sight. The Scriptures note that we are created in His image; spirit just like God. (Genesis 1:27)

As a little girl I loved going to my grandma’s house. Years later when she moved to Puerto Rico and the years of life were added, her voice was still grandma’s voice.

Get a cold and our voice might get raspy for a short time. Spend some time in the roller rink screaming over the noise and music and our voice might get hoarse. But this unique feature is one of our trademarks. My voice is still mine.

God who made us is that way too. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

When God speaks through his Word, the heart of God is exposed and is the same from Genesis to Revelation. He loves us in Genesis and He loves us in Revelation.

That’s one way we recognize when he speaks. He does not contradict himself.

God who created life would not ask us to harm ourselves.

God who sent his Son as a payment for sin does not want anyone to leave this earth without this gift.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

Have you heard him Speak? 

Has he been calling you? 

His Voice is like no one else. When he speaks things go into motion; creation, salvation, the redemptive plan for mankind is unleashed.

The sound of the waves reminds us that God the creator put boarders on the ocean so that it doesn’t spill over and consume us. (Psalm 104:9)

God speaks through his Word. We get to know him better as we remain in it.

“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36)

Lay your back on the grains of sand that amount to billions. Look up to his handiwork and the stars that he placed in the sky speak of Him, our Creator. He is everywhere!

I pray that my ears and sight would become keener. Not only to recognize friends from my past but to recognize the God of my present and future!

He's everywhere!

Can you hear him?

God bless you!~Liz

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Call to Me. Ok Google!

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
(Jeremiah 33:3 )

I left it and I did not die! No, I’m not referring to an oxygen tank. Blood continues to flow through my veins. I feel pretty good right now.

So what is so important that can cause someone to turn around and go searching? Well, I chose not too!

Yesterday I was driving home and decided to make a phone call and you guessed it, my phone was nowhere to be found. I did not panic because the Lord reminded me that I left it on my friend’s kitchen table after an earlier visit.

Honestly, normally I would turn around and pick up my cellphone. But, I felt a nudge from the Lord to leave it behind.

Growing up in the Bronx it was typical for a young girl like myself to carry a couple of dimes with me. Why?

Walk the streets of the city and you will find Superman’s closet. Ok, a phone booth (couldn’t resist). That was my means of communication.

If I got lost, well I better ask the stranger at the gas station for directions and hope he knows the location better that I or I will be stopping and repeating the process all over again!

Phones have become such a security blanket. I can call my husband in the middle of the day just to say hello or to check if he is ok.

When I’m driving, a map App will quickly give me directions; I don’t need to speak with anyone. How sad.

I can be in the pouring rain and speak “OK Google” and it will answer me quickly. It will play me a song to sooth my driving time, dial a number for me or update me on the weather. Oh, how silly, I forget, it’s obviously raining!

I wondered if people prayed more in the days when technology was scarces.

What did we do?

We enjoyed more times of fellowship. Neighbors having coffee at the kitchen table. The simple things of life.

I remember as a young girl looking down Willow’s Avenue, a 5-block stretch in the Bronx to look for my dad. My dad would take the train to NYC and would arrive home approximately 6 p.m.

No phone to contact him unless I wanted to run to the local candy store where the one phone booth existed. Yes, and take my dime.

There was an anticipation to see his face.

We watched and waited. From a distance I could see my father walking closer and closer to where I was. Ultimately, he would cross the street and I would greet him. He always had the newspaper, The Daily News. A kiss hello and I would ask for God’s blessings "bendicion" to which he would reply “Dios te bendiga”. (“God bless you”)

This morning I could not call my husband. The luxury of my own piece of technology that can connect me to anyone or anything is out of my hands.

I can’t really say I missed it much.

My heart was a peace.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

A time of worship was interrupted with times of intercessory prayer. Wow, to experience His Presence!

Sometimes technology can rob us of the simple.

Technology is a gift. It does not replace the LORD. Sometimes we spend more time with the gift than we do with God or His Word. Ouch!

I’m glad I did not return to pick it up my phone.

Confession: Because I did not have my phone I decided to see if I could make a call with my computer since my phone was absent. I clicked the microphone and said the words, “OK Google”. I began to laugh historically when my computer answered, “Google is okay, but this is Cortana”. Life is funny! Back to prayer.

(FYI, Cortana is the equivalent of Google for Windows)

God bless you!~Liz