Is God Really Hearing our Prayers?

In the movie, ‘Greater,’ about Brandon Burlsworth’s short life, it ended with a wonderful message. Despite Brandon’s dreams for his family ending at age 22, they trusted God.

In all these tragedies lately, I have read such cynical posts in response to people of faith, trying to offer hope, love and prayers to victims.

‘Where’s your God in this?’ ‘Why even bother to pray it only makes it worse.’ ‘Wow, you call your God a God of love and He allows this to happen?’ ‘There is no God, just an imaginary crutch’ for weak-minded people.’ I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

I do not do well in conflict or confrontation, so I usually ‘watch and pray’ from the sidelines. All this to say, ‘Matthew 5:44-45 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’ In other words, believers are NOT exempt from suffering, sickness, heartbreak, storms, or even death (to name a few).

SPOILER ALERT…at the memorial service for Brandon Burlworth, his brother battled with faith and the ‘why God, why Brandon?’ The answer from Faith members in response to Brandon’s life and death, “WE TRUST!!’

So even if we lose our things in an earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, if the person we are praying for dies, even if our answer to pray is ‘no,’ we WILL TRUST that God is good all the time.

God doesn’t fit in a our box. As humans there is no way to explain why things happen or don’t happen. We must put our faith and trust that God knows the entire picture and regardless of what happens, He loves and cares for us. TRUST HIM, when all about you seems to be falling, Trust Him.

Here is a response from a woman on the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church FB page to a woman angry as why a dry spot on a prayer room rug would be a praise when there were so many seemingly unanswered prayers during the flood in Louisiana 2016.

Fear Not!!! I read the back of the book and we WON!!

We are in the battle of our lives. The war started in a beautiful garden when Adam and Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit. Our foe is powerful, the enemy of your very soul. He cursed this world from near the beginning of creation. He wants you to believe God is nothing but what you make Him to be, for your own purposes, and God is powerless to help. 
The good news, death and the enemy have been defeated, we ALL are redeemed from that curse by the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ, the redeemer. Jesus came to redeem the ENTIRE world. He is the conqueror of the enemy of our soul (eos). He is God come down in human form. 
As believers in Christ, we must not fear anyone who is in the enemies camp, what can they do, kill us? What can they do but reunite us with the Father and those who have gone on ahead? Many, many times, the Word of God says,’Stand firm, fear not, we have won!’  
We may suffer from sickness, financial woes, mistreatment, even unto death, but death is defeated. Read these words of hope:
Romans 8:31, 35, 37-39 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Ephesians 6:10, 13 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out

The Threat

Over 2 millennia ago, a baby was born to a poor family away from home. Almost from the moment of His birth, the powers that be considered Him a threat, and He was. His life, His teaching, His death and resurrection changed the world. Today, the powers that be still consider Him a threat, and He is, because His return is near.  On that day, all that is not love, all that is not good, all that is not peace, and all that is not justice, will no longer have a place to be. 

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This Christmas, we truly hope that your hope is anchored in THIS hope. 

Mike (and Sandy) Shockley

Christmas 2015

Christian in ‘Name Only’

As a committed follower of Christ, I no longer use the term ‘Christian’ to identify myself because it has been stained by those who call themselves ‘Christian,’ but are ‘Christian in name only.’ There’s a difference in people who call themselves ‘Christians’ and those who are committed followers of Jesus.

I believe US Representative Ted Cruz was speaking about that difference. Let me give some examples that give a bad name to followers of Jesus. The crusaders were misguided people, who wrongly thought they were following Jesus by killing Jews and Muslims, to take the holy land for the Catholic Church. The inquisition was the same misguided program thinking you can torture non-believers into believing in Christ. Early Missionaries went overseas feeling the need to take away culture and heritage and westernize the masses to bring them to Jesus The KKK may go to a church somewhere, but sitting in a pew doesn’t make them a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car. There are so many people, who may have claimed to do acts in Jesus’ name, but they harmed His loving witness.

Any killing done in Jesus’ name is wrong!! He is THE PRINCE OF PEACE. It’s sin!! It’s against everything He taught. Love our neighbor, even when they don’t love you. Do good to those who intend evil. Pray for those people who intend to use or abuse, even kill you. Nope. If the people were true followers of Jesus, these heinous acts would not have been done at all.

I believe what I’m reading in the news is that many Muslims disdain the actions of ISIS. We as Christians, Followers of Jesus, should be disdaining any acts of violence done in His name.

The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Know

 FChrist Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God.  Romans 8:34 In the world of biology, all organisms are classed or grouped together by certain similarities and separated by differences in their cellular makeup.  These grouping are known as “kingdoms,” such as the “plant kingdom,” and the […]

While You Wait

Beth, my dear sister in Christ, my Blessed friend, my teacher…

Deeper Roots

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:6

I sat in the doctor’s office and grew more frustrated every minute I waited past my appointment time. “Why do they schedule me for 2:00 if they’re not going to call me back before 3:00?” I fumed in my head. I had things to do, important things, yet there I sat seething inside and  impatiently flipping through a 3-year old issue of People magazine. After I was finally called back, it was another 45-minute wait in a lovely paper gown before the doctor breezed into the room. I am a pretty patient person most of the time, but long drawn out waits really do me in. Whether we’re waiting for an appointment, for a…

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A prayer From my soul

Father, my Master, Mighty Lord, Creator of this universe, my Savior, my Friend, thank You for this empathetic heart, this heart that feels the pain and sadness of others. Thank You for giving me deep love for Your creation. This love overflows as a spring, from my soul, to my heart, to my eyes. At times, this great love overwhelms me with great sorrow. I grieve for their souls. That they have hardened their hearts, blinded their eyes to Your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. How I pray that they seek Your face, Your peace, Your forgiveness, Your salvation. We ask ‘How long Lord must we wait on Your return?’ He waits, but someday the Bible says: 

Revelation 1:7 Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him.Yes! Amen! 
Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,to receive glory and honor and power.For you created all things,and they exist because you created what you pleased.” 

Save us, oh Lord, I pray
In Jesus Name 
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus

Ash Wednesday 2015

My Michael wrote this for his Ash Wednesday service, February 18th. The Lord spoke to me in the words he delivers to us last night.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent. It’s a season of preparation, commemorating Christ’s 40 days in the desert. A time when we reflect on our own spiritual condition.

Lent calls us to an opportunity to know Jesus Christ in a deeper and fuller way. The apostle Paul captured the spirit of Lent when he wrote in his letter to the Philippians about his hope to “… know (Christ) in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings,”

So this might be a good moment to ask “what will the season of Lent mean for you this year?

For the past few years, “Christianity Today” magazine has published a social media snapshot of what people say they are giving up for Lent.

The survey for last year (over 141,000 responses total) revealed that some of the most popular things being given up for Lent were chocolate, swearing, alcohol, soda and Facebook.

But some people get more creative. I have read about young folks giving up their shoes, or giving up sleeping in their bed in order to better identify with the deprivations of the poor. One teen gave up eating with forks and spoons and switched to chopsticks, which created great opportunities to share his faith with others.

A girl had a problem with vanity, so she chose to stick with the first outfit she chose out of the closet instead of changing over and over.

This year at St Paul we’re going to spend the next five Sundays deepening our experience in prayer.
We’re going to expand our prayer time in the services and encourage people to take just 30 minutes a week after church going on prayer walks (or prayer drives) throughout Arlington.

We’re asking people to spend time in reading and study to explore the five core practices of a Christian – discipleship, worship, generosity, witness and service.

All of these practices are ways we can deepen our life in Christ, because Lent is not about being more religious. It’s about being more in love with Christ and with other people.

That’s the core message of the texts we read tonight. Through the prophet Joel, God says – “give me your hearts! Not your formalities!” Jesus proclaims in Matthew 6 – “Give God genuine faith and love, not hypocrisy! (in other words, your best acting job)

It’s not about religious rules, but authentic relationship. And whatever you do to grow in your genuine love for God and for people is going to produce benefits.

So I just want to encourage you in your own commitment tonight. Because God is going to use it to prepare you for the next turning point of your life.

You say, Pastor, what turning point? What are you talking about? Well, I’m talking about the next decisive, defining moment of opportunity that God has on your schedule.

The bible tells us – “We are his workmanship, created in Christ for good works that God has prepared ahead for us to do.” See? If you are a follower of Jesus, God’s opportunities are on their way.

And I’m asking you to use Lent as a time of Readiness for that next life changing opportunity.

Think about it – Some of the worst moments in life are those when an important opportunity arrives and you’re not ready. But the best moments are when your readiness and God’s opportunity come together.

And when that happens – WOW! – the power of God’s love changes your world. And it changes the lives of others.

The question is – how many of those best moments do you want to be ready for?

In 2006 a techy, nerdy sort of guy named Jack Dorsey presented an idea for a new social media system – you texted a short message to one number and the system automatically sent your text to all your friends at the same time.

The original name was TWTTR. It was cool. It was fun. It was a great way to connect with other people about things that were happening in real time.

But after almost 3 years of developing and promoting it, the system’s potential remained unseen and unused. It wasn’t much more that a novelty. But Dorsey kept growing the system. He kept preparing.

Then on an icy New York day in January 2009, a man named Janis Krums was taking his normal ferry boat ride across the Hudson River, coming home from work. About the same time, US Airways flight 1549, piloted by Capt. Chelsey Sullenberger, experienced engine failure and made a forced emergency landing into the river.

The ferryboat captain spotted the aircraft and sped toward the scene. And the unfolding rescue that would take place over the next few hours would become known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Janis Krums took out his smartphone and took a picture, along with a text – “plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry to pick up the people – crazy.” And tweeted that message to his 170 friends.

Who in turn tweeted it to all of their friends, who tweeted to their friends, who tweeted to their friends.
And in just one day, a regular guy with a smartphone scooped every news media outlet in the world.

And now the world keeps their eyes on what’s trending on Twitter. It’s becoming, as one journalist said, “the pulse of the planet.”

Jack Dorsey and Janis Krums had never met. But that afternoon, one person’s preparation met another person’s opportunity and changed the world.

Right now, you are about 10 minutes closer to the turning point God has for you than when I began speaking. I don’t know what the opportunity will look like. I only know that it’s coming. And I know it’s a good thing.

I know that it can become a wonderful blessing to others. And I know that it will become one of the best moments of your life. That is…if you are prepared.

So let me encourage you to use this season of Lent to prepare for your next turning point.


A Mother’s Unfailing Prayer

I am blessed beyond comprehension to be a mother and grandmother.

By the time I became a Christian, I had a 3 year old son. I wanted to teach him and any future children about my faith. I realized that I couldn’t make it force them believe, that had to be their personal decision.

In his ‘Confessions,’ Augustine spoke of his grief and weeping for his mother, Monica “now gone from my sight, who for years had wept over me, that I might live in your [God’s] sight.” Monica died a happy woman for she had seen her prayers answered before she died. She is a model of a mother’s unfailing prayer to me. She teaches us not to faint at adversity. She teaches us to never give up.

The Old and New Testament tell us to ‘train or teach’ our children when they are young. Teaching them the stories, teaching them to pray, teaching them the songs, teaching them the worship, teaching them the life.

As they left childhood, I could only pray and hope that I was a good example of a believing Christian mother to them. I could only hope and pray that they would make their own choice of personal belief.

I am blessed beyond comprehension to be a mother and grandmother. May my hope and prayers for them built them up and strengthen them all

Proverbs 22:6 Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.

Deuteronomy 6:7 You must teach them to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning.

Deuteronomy 11:19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting at home, when you are out walking, at bedtime, and before breakfast!

Ephesians 6:4 And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.


I woke up this morning with one of my least fav oldie goldies, ‘Today,’ sung by The New Christie Minstrels. It’s truly a sad song, says all we have is today, true, but don’t worry about tomorrow, hmmm! Reminds me of these verses:

Luke 12:16-23, 29, 31, 33-34 …’Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’

1 Corinthians 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!

Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Revelation 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”

Revelation 22:12-13 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

If I had written the entire verses quoting Jesus’ words would be pretty long, so I chose those above. Please read the whole chapter in Luke for yourself.

I am so concerned about attitudes of people today. I see that some seem to think there is only the here and now. Well, I believe in the ‘hereafter!!’ I believe that what we do today does matter. I believe that I will have to account for all the wrongs I have done today, tomorrow. Make your todays count, not in hedonistic fashion, but with kindness in your heart toward all creation.

Southern tradition, according to my Mother, was ‘don’t take the old into the New Year!!’ So, make your todays matter for good. Don’t give up when you fall back in old habits, keep plugging. Be like ‘The Little Engine That Could,’ “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I KNOW I can!’

So, all the above said and written to say this…in the coming new year of 2015, I want to be more loving, more giving, more forgiving, more Christlike. Happy and Blessed New Year, may the new year bring you health, answers, joy, financial freedom, and love.
#forgiven #maranatha #hope for tomorrow