Unnecessary Consequences

2 Thessalonians 3: 3. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

As a person matures through the aging process, it is a natural tendency to reflect over their life. The mistakes, disappointments, and bitter experiences usually surface as the most prevalent memories. “If I had only known then what I know now, I would have done things very differently.”

The feelings of Regret vs Satisfaction can hinder or promote our present and our future plans. Regardless of your history, if you are reading this article, you have been blessed with a brand new day. Our mindset determines whether we will use the gift to change, and allow God to redefine our pattern of negative decisionmaking. We do not have to suffer consequences from misguided decisions on our part.

Often we mistake trials as negative consequences. Trials usually surface as a circumstance in which we did not have an active part. In fact, we usually feel powerless, and question ourselves or God as to why we are suffering. However, there is a marked difference between trials and consequences. Trials mold our character to reflect Christ’s character. It is our greatest accomplishment to become more like Jesus. God has promised to protect us from the evil one. In order to reap this benefit, we must open the door of our hearts/minds to receive guidance. Prayer, obedience, and faithful study of God’s word are the keys to preventing consequences. It is a relief to know that if we include God in every aspect of our lives; He promises us a positive outcome, according to His will.

Dear God, please give me the desire to include you in all of my decision-making processes. I am tired of experiencing negative consequences. I need your help. Thank you. Amen Sonya Johnson Ruiz

I am always right!

There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25

Amid all of the chatter at my birthday celebration, my husband expressed his disbelief that we (the three women including my Mother) had the skills to hear what was said on the television program while others were talking. My Mother who possesses a quick wit responded that we listen with our ears and not our mouth. We laughed heartily-at his expense-as I offered to teach him this highly desirable skill for a nominal fee. However, there is a serious side to listening.

We are exposed to so much noise on a daily basis that our sense of hearing (and tolerance) has become desensitized. Sensory overload forces us to choose between what we feel is necessary to enhance our lives, and what we actually require to build our knowledge base. Unfortunately, our choices lead us to believe that we are always in the right. Our preference is to use our mouth as we readily defend our viewpoints. We rarely take the time to listen, and reflect on what was said; because, we are in the habit of forming hasty opinions.

Blogging is one of my favorite ways to stay up to date with the latest trends. It is simply amazing the number of respondents that deviate from the issue at hand. I have often reread the topic in order to try to make sense of the answers that were given. Usually, off-handed reponses provide me with the opportunity to seek clarification. It is at that point, that separation of the minds occur; those who read and comprehended versus those who quickly glanced and missed the intended message.

Our sense of hearing provides for the immediate transmission and storage in our memory center. There is a connection between our sense of hearing and our ability to recognize what is amiss. We are not powerless in the ability to choose what we listen to. If I watch movies that are laced with profanity, then I have started the process of acceptance and desensitization for ungodly words. Eventually, I will defend the right to enhance my conversation with the lesser of the curse words. Fact: What we listen to defines who we are.

Why is listening so important from a spiritual perspective?

1. Listening is a humbling act for the receiver. It gives us the opportunity to open our hearts and minds to “the right perspective of the truth.” In the first chapter of James, we are admonished to “be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

2. Listening empowers us through obedience. We are able to put our thoughts aside and replace an off-handed perspective with God given knowledge.

3. Listening provides us with discernment to recognize truth versus untruth. Praying for guidance while faced with the situation enables the Holy Spirit to lead us and always make the correct choice. God cannot make mistakes.

For those of us who are natural talkers, and use our mouths twice as much in comparison to our ears; we can change. First, we must recognize our need to change. Most importantly, our acceptance of the instruction from the Word of God is mandatory. There are benefits to acquiring the skill of listening. God is able to change our wrong into right. Our way of life which appears right in our sight will be molded to what God considers to be right. Through prayer and conscious effort, our hearing will develop to be intune with the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful accomplishment to be guided by the “still and small voice.” Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Joy to the World

Recently, I read a Christian blog on Facebook where individuals were disclosing that they were depressed; overwhelmed; and/or having suicidial thoughts. Although, the moderator of the blog has good intentions, it is not enough to reach desperate individuals by blogging. The following is my response to the cries for help:

I worked as a psych nurse for many years and I am also a Believer. If you are suicidal or depressed you need to seek medical attention from a crisis hotline immediately. Blogging on facebook is a cry for help. You lack the coping skills to deal with your situation. Psalms 23 and 27 NIV or Amplified versions are easily understood. Read the Bible chapters out loud…over and over again. Pray a simple prayer telling God how you feel…He knows already but you have to be honest with your words. Please seek therapeutic intervention and spiritual guidance immediately. We have all been at a time in our lives when our circumstances were overwhelming. It is not a sin to seek professional assistance. God has provided resources because He knows each of us and what we require for deliverance.

“Come unto me all of you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

God loves imperfect human beings and is waiting to help us; but, we must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need help.

From a life be sought with severe trials and crises, I know that my Redeemer lives. My situations required Divine and Human interventions. Contrary to popular religious belief, we should seek out spiritual guidance and therapeutic counseling. Pray for God to direct you to the appropriate individuals.

Holiday season can be especially taxing when we have not received the emotional support from family or friends throughout the year. Broaden your horizons by volunteering at a food bank, homeless shelter, and various community activities. I recently saw a FB post asking for individuals who crochet to make hats for the homeless. Before I started the project, I prayed and asked God to bless each person who received a hat in a very special way. I am feeling wonderful. I never imagined that I would have an opportunity to bless others with a talent I had not used in 20 years.

God loves you-connect with Him through prayer. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Dear God, please give us the desire to extend ourselves and build relationships with you, and those in need. If we are obedient, you have promised us “joy” which does not rely on perfect circumstances. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer.

Happy and joyful holidays to all.

Imperfect Me

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You have made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Psalm 8: 4-8 (NIV) Today I visited my Mother, and we chatted and laughed until the lateness of the hour demanded closure. Our usual practice is to pray, and read a devotional along with the Word of God. I needed to hear my Mother pray. I love to listen to the heartfelt prayers in which she expresses so much faith and gratitude. Immediately, I requested her to pray for us. In this particular prayer she stated ” what is man, that thou art mindful of him…you have made him a little lower than the angels.” I was touched in a way that words are unable to describe. I was humbled by the declaration of those powerful words. Although, I am no longer able to physically kneel, my heart bowed in reverance to our Almighty Creator. As I drove home, I asked myself, “Who am I, that God loves me so much that he sacrificed His only begotten Son?” I am unable to live one day without falling into the temptation of sin. I reminded myself to stop, pray, and think about the big picture. The psalmist describes the unfaltering love from a perfect God for imperfect beings. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars…what is mankind?” When I consider my lowly status in comparison to an awesome God; my heart cries out in humble adoration: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” Thank you God, for continuing to love an imperfect me. Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Just saying Thank you God

Today I sat in my living room crocheting hats for the homeless. It is my 59th birthday. As I reflected on my life, I felt the tears falling quickly down my face. I thought about the things missing from my life. Since, I never had the privilege of giving birth, who would I leave my legacy to?

Before I could think any further, my husband walked in with the biggest bouquet of flowers, and proclaimed his love by singing “Feliz, feliz en tu dia”- May you have great happiness on your day (loosely translated). At 59 years of age, God has blessed me with a devoted and hardworking husband. I met my “Papito” on Christmas day-nine years ago. There have been ups and downs; however, we are still in love and having plenty of laughs as we grow older, and realize that we cannot always recall the story as it actually happened.

After a prayer of thanksgiving for another year of life, I am comforted and realize that I have nothing missing from my life. God knew exactly what (and who) I would need to complete my life. I have been blessed with my husband, health, happiness, my Mother who is 84, a wonderful family, good friends, and grandchildren from our blended marriage. Above all, God loves me and has excellent plans for my life.

As I mature in age, I pray for spiritual growth. At one of my weakest moments, the Holy Spirit provided comfort and helped me to realize that my life is complete. Nothing has been withheld: God has given me an overabundance of His grace and mercy. Prayer was the key that opened the door to my mind. I was reminded to always contemplate on my blessings. Thank you God for your unconditional love. From this birthday forward, I plan to live with a spirit of gratitude.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

God Sees and Knows

Have you ever felt unappreciated? The lack of recognition often leaves us feeling discouraged. If we continue to seek acknowledgment, our mindset changes and the zeal to keep doing what is right will dwindle. Somehow we attach our significance to public recognition. Our fixation on ourselves can even cause us to develop bitter and jealous feelings when others are rewarded. The problem is that we are seeking accolades from the wrong source. “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:4

When we help others or perform our duties above and beyond, then we are doing what us good and lovely in God’s eyes. We are not to determine how we should be rewarded for our Christian duty. When we seek after righteousness, our character changes, and God blesses us in ways that He determines is best for us. If we continue through faith, obedience and servitude, our reward will be far greater than we can ever imagine. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 There is no comparison to the heavenly reward that we will receive for remaining faithful. There is no earthly recognition that supercedes that of our Heavenly Father.

Dear Lord, the next time I feel discouraged, please help me to realize that you see and know all that I do. Help me to continue to do what is right and to strive to please you. Please forgive me for seeking recognition from others. Thank you for loving me. Amen

Sonya Johnson Ruiz

Never-ending Thirst

Yesterday, I looked at a list of stores that were not only open for Thanksgiving; but, proudly stretched their Black Friday time from 18-24 hours. I pondered on the many individuals who would not mingle with their families due to an extreme work schedule. The amazing part of the blog was the fact that 90% of the comments supported retail openings versus quality family time. The remaining 10% who supported retail closings, and the importance of quality family time were verbally attacked by the majority.

The defiance of society’s former value system is blatant as thousands of dollars are spent online and in retail stores today-Black Friday. We are bombarded with advertisements that encourage us to spend, and purchase our desires without fear. After all, we deserve to be happy, and without an overabundance of material things, our life is mundane.

This week I was faced with the challenge to choose whether an item was a desire versus a necessity. I had already presented the situation to God; but, through the rebellion of my human and sinful nature, I still attempted to manipulate the situation in my favor. Today, I thank God for his grace and mercy that prevented me from making a mistake. I realized that although I maintain some traditional values, I could not pass judgment on the majority. I was also willing to compromise for my materialistic desires.

Often our thirst for material things surpasses our thirst for righteouness. The word of God is ” a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters…” (Song of Solomon 4:15). Once we have experienced the love of God, our prayer should be for God to give us the desire to know more of Him. God delights to do “exceeding and abundantly above all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20. The condition is for us to thirst for more and more righteousness. My value system has been redefined. As society continues to mold and shape their lives around material wealth, I have made the decision to thirst for the love and righteousness of God that is never-ending.

Dear God, thank you for reminding me to value the things that will give me a deeper relationship with you. Sonya Johnson Ruiz