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Friday, April 30, 2010

Fleeting Time

I wrote this poem when my son was a freshman. It's been almost four years and he is almost out of High School.

Fleeting Time

Time flees
I'd like to see
Stop for me
I look at you
What you do
You've grown so too
Hold it there!
My little boy is gone
I don't know where!
Please time, stop fleeting
Let me enjoy
My boy is growing
Too fast, too fast
My heart is beating!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Following Jesus in an Age of Super Stars

The title of this post is misleading. When I mean Super Stars I don't mean the Hollywood crowd. I mean the Christian stars. Bear with me as I explain. When I was a new Christian I was immediately taken under my youth pastor's wings. I admired him a lot. Naturally, I began to imitate him, so much that I even sounded like him when I taught or preached. Those that know me can attest to this. This wasn't bad necessarily because I was young in my walk with God. I was a growing Christian. It was like a child that imitates his mom or dad. We imitate others we admire. It is natural. But as you grow up, you learn to be your own person. In fact, when you are mature, you are expected to be your own person. It is an anomaly to see people who are full grown adults imitating others to the point that you can't see who they really are. So now to the point I want to make.
We are Christians. In fact, the name comes from the book of Acts. It is there where the believers in Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11:26). It was a label applied to them because they followed Christ. So it is obvious that Christians follow Christ or Jesus Christ. But it is interesting to note that many Christians are still following or imitating the Super Stars of Christianity. I will restrain myself to mentioning names but there are many that follow the teachings of a particular person to the point that they speak like them and think like them. I remember our pastor who used to say that there were members of a particular church that used to say, "My pastor is Dr.____" They said with so much pride. There are many nowadays that have forgotten that we don't follow a man or a woman, we follow Jesus. You don't think this is true? Do a search on a particular preacher or teacher and see what people say (of course, they will have critics as well, but that is not the point of this blog). Observe what people say about the pastor of the church you attend. Go to a Christian Bookstore and see who are the Super Stars. Just take a look at Study Bibles with their names. I know, it is natural you say. Yes, but for how long? We must value those are gifted in teaching but we must understand that our role as Christians is to show ourselves approved as God's workman who accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We must be like the Bereans (Acts 17:1) and examine everything we are taught by others. We compare what they say with what Scripture says. You will be surprised to find that not everything they say is clearly taught in Scripture. If not, then we know we must follow what the Scriptures say. I am often perplexed why people write the words (i.e. notes) a preacher says about Scripture as opposed to what their explanation of Scripture that is given.
Then there is the issue of imitation. The only one we imitate is Jesus. Beside Jesus, I only find one person in the Bible who said to imitate him, Paul the apostle, but he was clear as to who He was imitating (I Corinthians 11:1). We only imitate others to the degree they imitate Jesus. When we do something, we must follow what Jesus told us to do or God or the Holy Spirit tells us to do: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12) ESV
Be careful who you follow and who you call your teacher or master: "Neither be ye called masters; for one is you master, Christ." (Matthew 23:10). It is Jesus who calls you to follow him (Luke 18:22, Matthew 16:24, Mark 1:17)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Apostle Paul's Life Mission

For a while I have thinking about Paul the Apostle. I don't want to talk about how he came to be a follower of Jesus. You can read it here. It is an amazing story. Humanly, he could not do this on his own. He was a religious fanatic bound by Jewish tradition. When he experienced his

transformation he became a Jesus follower. In fact, Jesus appeared to him. You can dismiss this as craziness or an impossibility but you would have to present your own diagnosis. You will have to read all of his writings to make a determination. I am of the belief that his experience was genuine and I accept his testimony. What really has impressed me lately is his

singular focus and life mission. He was a man who had success being religious, if we apply the normal rules of "success". But everything changed after the Damascus experience. His focus was preaching the message of repentance through Jesus. He had no other ambition. He

travelled from place to place teaching The Way of Jesus. Those that believed the message like he had became the nucleus of the churches established in Asia Minor. He experienced many trials like hunger,beatings, threats, shipwrecks, dangers, incarcerations and eventually

it cost him his life. Tradition says he was beheaded under the Roman Emperor Nero. Here is what Paul's mission was: "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the Gospel

of God's grace." His mission and focus was clear. In spite of the fact that what awaited him in the future was incarcerations and affliction, Paul was determined in his life mission. Nothing else mattered to him, not even his life (Acts 20:24).

Elsewhere Paul also said, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8).


This has made me think about what I value, what my focus in life should be. I have to say that I have not arrived at this. I have many distractions that take my time, some are necessary, some are not. But as I have aged my focus continues to sharpen. I hope and pray to

arrive at it like the Apostle Paul.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reflection From Our Mission Trip to Mexico


I just came back from our mission trip in Mexico. The youth of our church went for seven days to Nogales México and I went along as one of the leaders. My job was to be an interpreter for those who didn't speak the language but for me it was more than that. This is not the first time I go to México on a mission trip. I have been to several of them and they always teach me something new and make me reflect on my own life path. I always learn to be grateful. Seeing how people live, without water, without bathrooms, without paved streets and with out many other luxuries makes me be grateful. I grew up in this same way up until I was about 10 years old. I lived liked them. Just before I came to America, we moved to my grandma's home and experienced for the first time what it was to have a nice home with showers and bathrooms. But after been here in America for most of my life, I have forgotten what it was like. Going to México reminded me that I need to be grateful. And I am. I also connected with many of the people from Mexico and learned about their lives. I went to visit at least two homes. I always ask questions to learn about them. It gives me a a different perspective as I learn from what they have experienced. Eduardo and Leo where the ones I talked to the most. They shared part of their life stories. I tried to encourage them by listening and showing empathy. I went to Eduardo's house and learned more about him and his family while we worked digging and leveling an area in a neighbors home. I spent time talking to Leo and while we went running on one morning, we talked about life and his relationship with God. There were also several conversations with the children. They amazed me. So many of them were able to share things about their simple life. But more than anything, their love for God moved me. When I found out the church we were helping had mostly children, I was somewhat disappointed. I wanted to have a "normal" church with adults. But it didn't take long to show me I was wrong to think this way. After hearing them the first day, everything changed. These children had more faith than I've ever seen in adults. It reminded me of what Jesus said about them. He told his disciples in Matthew 19:14 "“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV) In Matthew 18:3 he also said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (ESV) He also prayed in Matthew 11:25 "“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children." (ESV) This was so true in Mexico. These children will be the future of the church in Mexico, I can see them going all over the world as missionaries. I believe in them. Jesus believed in them.

I also got a glimpse of the church in community. About forty of us, mostly High School students, ate together, worked together, prayed together, sang together, shared the Lord's Supper together, played together, laughed together. I didn't hear complaints. I didn't see any disagreements. I saw community. It reminded me of what the churched was like in the New Testament. Acts 2:42-44: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common." (ESV) High Schoolers showed me a glimpse of what Christian community should be. I miss it!