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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Symbolic Use of Numbers - 2012 Gone! 2013 Here!

Numbers have always had meaning for humanity. Ever since creation numbers have had meaning. When God created light He said: "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:5) It also says: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." (Genesis1:14) Thus God created the sun, the moon and the stars as the keeper of time.

Numbers and time are both created by God and are interrelated. For God time is important even though He has no need for it (The are numbers in the Bible that have significance. The number 7 simbolizes perfection, number 10 completion and 40 fulfillment and judgment, 6 humanness).It is for us that He created it. He does not see time as we see it. We are limited to see anything beyond the present and the past. We can't see the future and yet this is the aspect of time that we most seek to control (thus resolutions and new year). We want to know what the "new" year will bring. We make plans to achieve our goals. There is no guarantee that we will achieve anything or even live to see it realized. But we still do it.

But God sees every aspect of time differently. I am not sure how exactly God sees time but I know he sees all aspects of time at once. This is a debate some argue about in relation to time and eternity.

The important aspect of time is that its end goal (teleologically) is to give God the worth and praise He deserves (doxological). Every choice we make every year, month, day, hour, minute, and second should have this goal in mind. We need to make choices that line up with God's will. Choices that will not only bring us closer to Him but in such communion that nothing else will get in the way. Every act of of our being should bring glory and praise to his name.

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” - C.S. Lewis

 

Material is copyright by egaldamez. Permission given torepost or reproduced without editing the content.Disclaimer: The contents of all personal web pages and blogs published are solely my responsibility. Statements made and opinions expressed on personal pages are strictly those of the author and not of any organization, church, or school.

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

We don't deserve it! It's grace!

Our little boy likes to say "I don't deserve it," when he gets something like a treat. He started saying this especially when he has had a bad day. At one point he said he didn't deserve to be alive. I reminded him that none of us do. At one time I pointed to Him that we don't deserve to be alive but God in his mercy and grace gives us life. Today when he got a treat he said he didn't deserve it. My older son told him, it's grace, getting what we don't deserve. That's why he was receiving a ginger cookie.

 

After getting another treat in the evening from my wife, he said he didn't deserve it again and I answered him with the usual. His response was "Thank you for grace."

 

Yep, that's exactly right! It's what I say every day. It's what we all should say every day when we wake up.

 

"God, be merciful to me a sinner," we should say like the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. God showed him mercy. He went home justified (not the one who claimed to be good). Ephesians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace through faith and this is not of ourselves, not a result of our own working out. It is a gift from God.

This reminds me of the chorus of the Hymn Grace Greater Than Our Sin:

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.


 

 

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Santa Christ"

"For yet others, this is the time of year for the mystical Jesus who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have, irrespective of the details of historical reality. As long as we have the experiences, all is well.

But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking—however much it employs Jesus-language—is not to be confused with biblical truth."

Full article here Santa Christ http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/santa-christ/

 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Will Justice Come?

Here is one of my poems from Poems For The Journey

Will Justice Come?

by eig

Isaiah 32:1-8

A man in ragged clothes is in a corner standing

Begging for money for a piece of bread

Another comes out of a restaurant laughing

Passing by him; he has been well fed

A woman sobs seating in her living room

Bruses on her body, her nose bleeding

A man singing out of tune

Feeling brave after the beating

A child wakes up trembling

Begging the man she loves not to hurt her

The abuse she has been remembering

If only she could say it louder

A young man taken into custody

The coroners has identified the bodies

It all happened as a rhapsody

In a cell he will have new buddies

A woman looks out her window

Wishing tomorrow she'll have a better mood

Lonely and sad as a widow

A year has passed and there she has stood

Physically and emotionally drained

An old man walks through the door

He's been fired for the job he was trained

He is too old to serve any more

A yound mother is counting her pennies

Hoping to have enough money

To buy her children some tennies

Where is the man that called her honey?

This is the world where we live today

Injustice is around every corner

Will justice come some day?

Will it ever be better?

Look up and pray to the King

He's coming to reign in righteousness

There will be justice for all human beings

Will you be ready to face his Holiness?

© Saturday, June 13, 1998

 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Tribute to My 87 Year Old Mom

My mom, Maria Mirtala Galdámez (Zamora) turned 87 years old. She was born in El Salvador, in the city of Chalatenango in 1928, one year before the Great Depression. In was a rural town back then which I have never visited. This town is where the surname Galdámez surged. Her last name is Basque in the form of "galdames" which is from the Northern region of Spain and is originally spelled Galdames but was changed to sound more Castillian to Galdámez. The name means "iron cauldron" in Euskara (Basque). How the Basque "Galdames" made it to El Salvador is hard to trace.

Her mother was Estebana Zamora and her father was Genaro Galdámez. They had eight children, I believe, six girls (who all had "Maria" as their first name) and two boys.  Of them, there only my two uncles are left and my mom, the youngest of the girls.
My grandmother is in the middle and my grandfather on the right. I didn't get to know any of them.



My mom (on the right), my aunt Lidia on the left and my aunt Amalia in the center. 

My mom experienced the hard rural life. She received very little care and attention, as parents back then were (she was a product of her times), and worked from an early age. She wore no shoes until she was a teenager and went to school up to third grade. She learned how to read and write at a very basic level.

Being the next to the youngest of my mom's children I have very few recollections of my childhood. I was born when she was 40 years old.  I also know very little of her history except what I have learned from her and I have no recollection of what she looked when she was young.  

My mom about 47 years of age.

My mom had ten children, out of which one did not survive, the first one which I was told, was a boy. There are six girls and two boys, of which I am the eighth one.  My mom's history is a bit complicated which I care not to try to explain because I don't have enough information and my mom rarely talks about it.
Here I am with my two youngest sisters and my mom as we looked when we arrived to the United States in 1981.

My mom and her older brother
My mom, for the most part, has been a single mom. She worked up until we came to the United States. She worked in the meat market (at the municipal market) of Mejicanos, a city close to where I remember living. She sold meat there and because of this, I remember never lacking meat. We lived in rural place called Mariona and there lived in a one room house made of wood planks that had gap in between which allowed others to see inside, uneven dirt floors and roof made of aluminum. Living in a tropical place, thunderstorms were common and the sound it made on the roof made it even scarier (not to say the dripping around the house due to the holes on the roof) and my mom would often scare us even more by saying, "¡Gran poder de Dios!" (Great Power of God).
I don't remember much of childhood in relation to my mom. One occasion that I will never forget is when my friends and I decided to go to the river and shower. On our way back, being a stubborn boy, I  refused to go the same way back home with my friends and got lost.  When my mom arrived home from work she asked about me and was told what had happened. She left everything and immediately went and looked for me. Upon asking, someone told her they had a seen a little boy without a shirt holding a can, eating an ice cream and walking with a woman. She found me. I am so glad she did or I would be part of another family.Another occasion that I remember was when my friends and I decided to go explore, as it is so common in rural places. Walking in canyons was something I enjoyed. I loved exploring and on this occasion, I stepped on what appear solid ground. It was actually a whole that was covered with wood plank. I fell and broke my arm. Again, I remember my mom arriving from work and taking me to the hospital. I also remember the cast I had to wear. These two events show my mom's absolute care for me.

My mom isn't perfect nor is anyone of us. She has many weaknesses. One of them is that she is not inclined to ask forgiveness or showing affection. There was affection for me when I was very young but not after that. I don't remember she has ever said "I love you," either. I know this is anathema now. But I have never doubted my mom's love for me. I am certain that she would give her life for
anyone of her children. I rather have her actions than her words.  I am ok with that.

My mom and myself November 2014
There are three characteristics that stand out in my mom. One is that she is a selfless giver who has no desire to have money or possessions. As I am told by my sisters, my mom had opportunities to make money but she had no interest in it. She used it to help others. She helped many people and she never did it out of interest for her. Even to this day, she cares nothing about money or possessions. In fact, when she gets new clothes, she uses the old ones and saves the new ones. I remember when we were already in the US, I would ask my mom money when I needed something and she would say, "¡Go get it!" She didn't care about what I got. Of course I only got what I needed. My mom loved to cook and I miss it. I loved her food and so did many of my relatives who often came to visit her. My mom has always be a selfless giver. In this area, I don't come close to how my mom. I am still learning.

My mom also holds no grudges or bitterness toward anyone. I could list all the things people have done to her, that I know off, and how she just brushes them away. Her compassion dominates her life.
I know she wasn't perfect and had a strong temperament but this never lasted. This is another area that I have learned from her.

Care and concern for others is another quality my mom has. She has always cared about people (and not things).  My mom cares so much about others that it literally consumes her thoughts.  She thinks about them over and over. This hasn't helped her in her old age but never-the-less I know she cares. I often wish I could get in her mind and help her out of it. Ironically, as it happens with those who care for others, they are often forgotten. When my mom was in good health and older, she has droves of people show up to her house on weekends to enjoy her meals and company. She is now visited by very few relatives.

My and four of us
My mother,  three of my sisters and myself came to the United States in 1981. We lived in Los Angeles for a year before settling in Santa Ana California in 1983.  It was in Santa Ana, where we started attending a Spanish Baptist Church. There, myself and two of younger sisters came to know Christ. My mom initially started coming to church and then dropped off. Eventually, the Lord moved in her heart and came to know him. She was also baptized. Her life change was evident but her growth spiritually was not as fast. When I became a church planter, she also attended there. Eventually, as she got older attending church was difficult for her. For the last ten years or so, she has lived in assisted living and her health has declined. 
my mom and my older son and his wife
When I left ministry and started teaching full time, she often reminded me of my calling. She would say, "I will not die before seeing you in ministry again. That's what God called you for."  This year, her desire and prayer has come true. I am back in full time ministry.I know my mother isn't perfect, but she is perfect for me. She is perfect not because of what she isn't but because God chose her for me to give me life. God knew she was the best for me. I believe God is good and one proof is my mom. I am thankful that all my kids have had a chance to know her even our two adopted ones. In fact, she loves our little daughter. When we visited weekly, it brought her great joy!


My mom on her 87th birthday. The Galdámez's have a trait of not smiling in pictures. Once in a while we get one.

As of today (1/16/2015) my is very delicate health wise and we are not certain of the outcome. Her time to be with Christ and enjoy His comfort for ever may be at hand. Whatever the outcome, I am so grateful for her, as a mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I know that in eternity all her imperfections will be gone and she will be complete because she will be like Christ.  What Psalm 16:11 says will be true in her and all who know Christ:

   You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)






Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks-Giving

This is my traditional post on Thanksgiving. We all understand it's the time of year where collectively as a nation and as families we gather around to share the blessings God has bestowed upon us. We understand that thankfulness to God is not once a year either. Everyday, we give thanks to God for we know that: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)


From my part, this year I am very thankful.
  • I am thankful for God's provision. He has provided beyond our needs. This has enabled us to pay our son's tuition, give to churches, support others in need.

  • I am thankful for God's leading. He has clearly lead us in our family, from the jobs we have to every major decision. His hand has been upon us.
  • I am thankful for my family. My wife has blessed me more than I have blessed her. I am thankful for my children. For my oldest daughter, that though she has some things that are holding the blessings of God, she is well. We are thankful for our oldest son, he turned 20, and he walks with Christ. We are thankful for our two new additions, who we hope to adopt by next May. Diamond, the boy, has been a challenge but also a blessing. We know he will bless many as well. Just yesterday, when we were out shopping I became a bit impatient with an older man who forgot his pin at the register but insisted it was right. Diamond just said, "Have a happy Thanksgiving." This rebuked me. He kept telling other around as well. And also, Epi, our little girl, whose smile and joy brings others the same. We are thankful for all of our extended family as well, especially my 84 year old mom who has recuperated after a pacemaker was placed on her.
  • I am thankful for our friends. Those friends who we have known for a long time :) and for the times we've shared. For those that I have met at work, you have blessed me in the short time we have known each other.
  • I am thankful for our new church family. We know we made the right decision in becoming part of you. We have been blessed by your support during this time of adopting our two little ones.
  • I am thankful for my students. They have been amazing, their differences add to my life in so many ways.

And here is my favorite Thanksgiving Psalm with some of my thoughts:

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul:

and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

To bless, to speak well of God and his Goodness comes from our soul, not just from our lips and from "all that is within" us. We bless his name, his character, because He is holy, perfect in every aspect. He deserves no less.

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits:

We bless the Lord and remind ourselves all the benefits He has given us. We need to be reminded of this because we often focus on the things that we want, don't get or don't like. Remember all his benefits today.

3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Forgiveness. God has forgiven us through Christ. It is not because we deserve it. So why is it that we find it so hard to forgive others? Our forgiveness is no match for God's forgiveness. Every sin we do is a direct offense to Him yet He has forgiven us when we put our faith in Christ's as our Lord and savior.

who healeth all thy diseases;


Who hasn't been sick? We can attribute healing to medicines or doctors, but it really undermines the true healer of all of our diseases. This is not limited to our physical diseases, but those of the heart as well.

4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;


How often we take things in our own hands and mess them up? God keeps us from destroying our lives. He rescues us. I can think of several instances when this year I have been rescued while I was driving. My foolishness almost cost me an accident yet God rescued me.

who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Not only does he rescues us but He lavishly gives us his patience and his tender mercies. How patient He is inspite of our repeated offenses against Him.

5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;

On top of everything He gives us good things. Can you mention some?
This year God has given us so much. He has provided beyond our needs. And not just our physical needs but our emotional and spiritual needs as well. We are satisfied, quite well. We have shared some of those good things with others but we can still do better.

so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The purpose for God in giving us all these good things is so that we can be renewed. For what purpose? To given thanks to Him and serve Him.



Material is copyright by egaldamez. Permission given torepost or reproduced without editing the content.Disclaimer: The contents of all personal web pages and blogs published are solely my responsibility. Statements made and opinions expressed on personal pages are strictly those of the author and not of any organization, church, or school.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I believe in Jesus's Miracles

I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew and came to the passage in chapter 8 where he heals a man with leprosy by touching him, heals a centurion's servant by just saying the word, heals Peter's mother-in-law and performs other miracles. The following passage drew my attention as well:


"When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases." (v.16-17)




As I read this passage and thought about it, it impressed several things on me. First, Jesus didn't heal to show off anything. He wasn't doing to call attention, though it is clear from Scripture that Messiah (The Savior), the God-man who would have special credentials to prove he was who he said he was. One of them would be to heal. He would show that he was God in the flesh (Immanuel).  Second, his miracles point to his compassion and mercy. The last part of the passage above says "he took up our infirmities and bore our diseases." This shows that he was willing to take upon him our weaknesses and our diseases.  But why? Wasn't it more important for him to care about the souls of those who were sick and troubled? They would eventually die physically so why bother? He had compassion and mercy.

But more than this, I believe that Jesus knew that the state in which people lived, filled with pain and suffering, was not God's plan. This was not what He intended for us.  The life God has intended for us is a life in communion with Him. A life that is free from all pain and suffering. For Him, all the miracles he performed were a reversal or restoration of what God intended and intends to do in the end.  It is what the normal should be. Miracles were not supernatural events or deeds, they were natural. It wasn't the suspension of natural laws, but the restoration. A more in depth philosophical treatment of this was done by C.S. Lewis.

One can still believe in the miracles of Jesus and deny they happen now. It may appear easier to believe what Jesus did then, but not believe it is possible for God to act now on our behalf. We live in a modern world where the supernatural is not accepted and easily rejected (though many believe in meaningless mysticism some vague forms of supernaturalism unlinked to God). My belief is that God still does miracles. Many miracles are easily discounted such as the miracle of life. From the moment of conception, life is a miracle. One an argue that is the result of two people, but is it? What makes that heart beat at the right moment? How is it possible for something that dies like ourselves to pass on life or do we? How is it that I get up everyday and everything in my body still works? What holds it together? Is it really me? There are so many things we can go on mentioning that appear to be natural explanations but have their being in God himself, the God of miracles.

The God who acted in Jesus, acts now in this world. We can discount him with our own logical explanations but in the end they all fall flat devoid of meaning causing us to feel less human and more like meaningless machines. Only the God of miracles can give us meaning in spite of what tragedies and suffering we experience here. God is not done intervening. He will continue to do so and everything will one day will be recreated and be what He always intended it to be.







Monday, October 01, 2012

His Story, My Story (Not My Story!)

I have been a believer in Christ for almost thirty years now.  The road hasn't been easy. But looking back  the path I've taken, I realize (yes, this late) that "my" life hasn't gone as I have planned it. And that's the problem.  As a young Christian, I thought I knew what God wanted for my life. I've strived to accomplish that. I thought I had a good plan for  everything from who I would marry, my family life, my service to God and my career. I thought I had it all planned out and yet it looks totally different today. The  explanation is simple. I've tried to write my own story when I should have let God write it. 

This reminds me of Abraham in the Old Testament. God had promised him that he would make him a great nation. Abraham was old and his wife Sarah couldn't bear children any longer so he thought he would help God instead of waiting any longer (with the help of Sarah). He took Sarah's servant to bring forth Ishmael. But that wasn't God's plan. God kept his promise and Sarah was able to conceive and bore Isaac. Through Isaac, God made Abraham a great nation. Abraham tried to write his story. It failed.

Israel also did this. Jeremiah 18:2:  “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’" (ESV)

But God is the potter and can mold Israel if she would only let Him. They decide not to listen to God and end up 70 years in bondage to another nation.



my art not His art
Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." 

The word used for "workmanship" is poeima in Greek where we get the word poem. We are God's work of art, His poem, His master piece, His story. He called us to follow Christ to write His story in our lives. He wants to show others his marvelous works through our lives (see 1 Peter 2:9). But we take matters into our hands and decide to write our own story and we fail. We fail to give God glory. 

But God knows us well and he can still write our story. We have to repent and turn away from our own plans (see Jeremiah 18:8) and let Him write our story (His story really!). It will turn out even better than ours.

As for me, I have given up trying to write my story. My story doesn't have "ME" in the center anymore. It has "HIM" in the center. I have no idea what it will look like. I just have to trust Him and follow His guidance.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, 
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,    and he will make straight your paths." (ESV)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Living in Light of His Coming - 1 Thessalonians 5

I don't remember when was the last time I heard a message on The Second Coming of Christ. Today as I was running I realized how I don't often live in light of Christ's imminent coming. I am so focused on the here now that I don't think about this truth. I realize that there are various views on the end times but The New Testament is clear about the fact that Christ is returning (I wrote a paper on my view of The Second Coming titled "The Believer's Hope" when I was in college and still hold to this).

He said he would return: "I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”" (John 14:2-3

When Jesus' disciples asked when the end of the age would come, he answered by giving them a long teaching found in Matthew 24 and 25. Towards  the end of Matthew 24 he says to them, ' “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (v. 30, 31). Here again he promises to come back.

He tells his disciples "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (v.44)
Previous to this verse, Jesus tells us that many people will going about their business ignoring the imminence of his coming. Then judgment will come as in the days of Noah.  He promised to come back. We either believe this or pretend he didn't really mean it. As Christians we are to live with the expectancy of his second coming. But yet it is very easy for us to forget it or to live in a way that doesn't really believe it will take place. This is exactly what Jesus warned us about. 
  
The Apostle Paul also wrote about Christ's second coming in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. He told the Thessalonians that this day would come like a thief in the night (v. 3).  It would be a surprise, but it shouldn't be for Christians. They are not of the darkness but of the light. They are awake and sober. This of course is figurative language that speaks to our moral standing and living as Christians. We don't live our lives immorally.  We don't live the life of a hedonist, living for our own pleasures. We walk in faith and love. We remain hopeful of our full salvation when Christ returns.  Paul tells the believers to encourage each other with this truth. 

Living in the light of Christ's coming is easy to believe when we become new believers. But for many of us who have been walking with Jesus for many years, it is easy to become lukewarm and think that Jesus is not really coming back. We will probably die before then so we might as well enjoy life (and singles hope he doesn't come back before they marry and have kids. How cruel would that be right?). 

The Apostle Paul offers a prayer for the Thessalonian believers, which is for us as well,
 "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (v.23-24).

It is a prayer for me. I need it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Success or God's Success

The title in this post is ambiguous, I know. It is meant to be. The title also presupposes that we can understand what God views as success using our own human terms. Yes, all of this is confusing.

Let me explain where I am going with this.

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah from some time. In it we find how God calls Jeremiah to Judah here was the two tribes that had split from the ten tribes of Israel. God chose Jeremiah to be his prophet even before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5). His job was to prophecy (preach) to Judah for more than 40 years that unless they repent, judgment would come to them. This judgment would be in the form of being conquered by the Babylonian Empire and be taken captives for 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10-11, notice verse 11 was given to Judah). The interesting thing is that God tells Jeremiah what the the result will be: Judah wouldn't listen, they would mistreat him, almost kill him and continue in their path to receiving the judgment of God (See #29 here to read more about Jeremiah's life events). He gives Jeremiah a promise: "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)
preach to his people, Judah.

From a human perspective this seems unnecessary. Why would God call Jeremiah as his prophet if He knew that no matter what he said it wouldn't change a thing in Judah's heart? Why all the preaching, crying (A whole short book records this: Lamentations.) and suffering for Jeremiah knowing well what the result would be? In our own eyes, Jeremiah was a failure. He didn't produce positive results. He didn't win any converts. He was too melancholic. If Jeremiah would have applied for a job in today's world, he wouldn't get one. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous but the more I read The Bible I see that what we call success is not necessarily what God sees as success. Put in it in other words, God's plans and ways don't conform to our own standards. They never will.

But Jeremiah was obedient. He preached. For a long time (But he doesn't hold the record. Noah holds this, 100 years or close to that. See Genesis 5:32 and 7:11. Interestingly enough Noah wasn't too successful in human terms. His warnings about the coming flood were rejected. He was only able to rescue his own family). He was faithful to God. Now that is what matters in God's eyes. This is exactly what should matter to us: to be faithful to God in our calling as His children. To be obedient to Him. We may not measure up to what our culture calls "successful," but in the end this doesn't really matter.

I often think about my life as I have passed my 40th year (now 42) that I haven't done much for God. But as I read Jeremiah I realize that what I think I must do for God is not the same as what God wants for me. What I should strive for is to be obedient to Him. To know Him. To follow Him.

In the prayer to St. Richard of Chichester we should say:

"O holy Jesus,

most merciful Redeemer,

Friend, and Brother:

may we know thee more clearly,

love thee more dearly,

and follow thee more nearly,

day by day."



Lord, align my thoughts with your thoughts

My ways with your ways

That I may please you in everything I do

And from you never stray.



















Thursday, August 02, 2012

How I Became A Runner

In 2009 I started running. It happened by sort of accident and necessity. Here is a bit of the background.



When I was in Jr. High I ran cross-country but I wasn't good enough but I was consistent. I even
received the MVP award which I didn't attend. Most of my youth I kept active and pursued weight lifting in a class at school. After getting married I wasn't as consistent and didn't pay attention to my diet so my weight increased from 135 to 180's lbs. In 2009 I started weight lifting to see if it would help me but I just bulked up and my weight was almost 190 and and decided I had to do something else. So I tried biking. I tried biking twice a week for 30 minutes but I found it tedious. One day in June at the school I worked while waiting for Open House I decided to go out for a run. It was a 30 min. run. It was the most difficult run I've ever done. My feet felt like stones when I lifted them. But I decided I would do it again the next day after work. And the next day. And the next day. And it turned out to be something I did 6 days a week for 45 mins.

But the first few months were difficult. I ran an average of 30 mins. a day. Then came knee pain which I have never had in my life. Trying different shoes and I wearing knee braces didn't help. But I continued running. In less than 6 months I lost the pounds and the inches. My weight now is between 165-167 pounds.

Running however, has mutated from an activity to lose weight to something I do because I want to keep my body healthy, but more importantly running is a time to think and pray. They all are intertwined now. I don't compete (even though I have ran 3 marathons), nor have any desire to. I am not good enough. I don't run because I love my body either. Like everything, God has given or entrusted me, I take care of it. Yes, I still say I have to run when I don't feel like it but I know it is more than that. It is part of me. I have no intentions on stopping and joining a cross-fit redemption group or other. I had enough of that before. It would ruin what I have now. Besides it's easy to just put shorts, shirt and shoes and go. I don't need directions, I only need my two feet. Everything else comes on the way!



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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Few Thoughts on the book "Kisses From Katie"


I just finished the book Kisses from Katie. I won't write a review for there are plenty out there (see a video clip here). But in short, it is about a young lady (Katie) who at the age of 18 decides to leave her home in the States to live in Uganda teaching Kindergarden to children. This leads to God opening the door of service in which she not only adopts (or is in the process) thirteen children but becomes "mommy" throughout the community. Today her ministry has grown more than she imagined. She has become the "Mother Teresa" of Uganda. An incredible story of sacrifice (to which she responds, "...I believe that nothing is a sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ.") that is hard to find anywhere for a young person in her age range.

Here are some thoughts after reading the book:

1. What Katie has done is not a calling for everyone to be a missionary in a foreign country. Her calling is unique. She doesn't believe this is for everyone but she does believe we are all called to serve Christ wherever he calls us without any reservation. I do believe this as well.

2. Katie mentions how after living in Uganda for a year she moves back to the States for a period of time and it becomes extremely hard for her to depend on God because she has no need of anything. In Uganda she had to depend on God for everything and found herself seeking Him continually. I find this to be true as well. We can pretty much live our lives without God here in America. Just our busyness is enough to entangle us away from Christ.

3. Katie challenges me to show the love of Christ to everyone, especially children. As young as she is, she has learned what many of us have a long way to go.

4. We can't save the world from their outward conditions (or inward) but it is our calling to share the Gospel both in word and in practice. She realizes this and writes:

"God assures me this is okay. If I continue to preach the gospel, and more important, live the gospel here-even if outward conditions never change or change slowly-and these people can live eternally with Jesus in heaven some day, a few years of suffering will pale in comparison."

Though I don't agree with the world "more important" in this quote-I find both to be as important- her book shows both happening simultaneously.

You can find more about her here.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm Not Hungry for The Hunger Games!


Finally. I finished The Hunger Games. I wanted to find out what the fuzz is all about. I am not going to give a thorough review just some of my literary thoughts about it.
The book takes places in a post apocalyptic North America much like Mad Max. Now it is called Panem with 12 districts controlled by the Capitol. The Capitol sponsors the hunger games as a result of an uprising by district 13 against the Capitol. District 13 was eliminated. Now all districts have to have two of their young ones (13-18) fight for survival in these games. The last person standing out of the 24 is the winner.
This concept isn't new. This is the idea of the Gladiators. They were controlled by Rome and they forced to fight till death. In the Hunger Games though, there isn't much fighting going on. It takes a long time before the action takes place and when it does it is very reserved. The main protagonist Katniss only kills two people out of 24 and the book isn't gory in any way. So we can call it Gladiator light. I don't think this is a bad thing, but isn't a new idea.
This concept raises the question of good and evil, especially evil by oppressive government. But this concept isn't new either. You find this in Orwell's 1984.

Another important element is the fact that the Capitol is watching every move by the competitors. This reminded me of The Truman Show. In The Truman Show, as opposed to The Hunger Games, the protagonist doesn't know he lives in a manufactured world and everybody is watching him. But the concept is very similar.

The first 130 pages gives the background and preparation of the games. The second half (131-374) involves the games. The author does a good job describing and setting the background with flashbacks in the first half and overall in the book. The training part moves fast and it is hard to believe real training takes place. I was expecting action in the second half, but it didn't come. There is very little of it, and the killings are kept very discreet. Much of the book is centered around Katniss' predicament and her discovered love Haymitch.

As far as character development, I wasn't totally convinced. The author description of Katniss was not well-developed nor believable. I couldn't buy that a sixteen-year old had become a skilled warrior on her own out of a survival need and able to defeat all other competitors. Her characterization is a bit shallow and besides Haymitch, all others are barely described.

What makes the book so popular? It is really a no brainer. First, there is the teenage factor. Teenagers are in the book which is the intended audience. Teenagers are attracted to teenagers, especially those who go against the "system." That is the second appealing feature. The concept of a teenager standing up against an evil system is attractive. It works with young people. Finally, the love factor is attractive. What's a book without a couple in love? (even a concept as ridiculous as a vampire in love is attractive to teenagers and young adults) Add to this the intrigue of one survivor and you have teenagers and young people hooked to find out how it will end. And for this you will have to read book 2 and 3.

So there. I probably made enemies after this. But you are free to disagree with me.


God's Will and God's Promise, A Reflection of 1 Thessalonians 4

Many Christians ask what God's will is for their life. They believe God has a specific, detailed plan for the life. They focus all their attention on trying to find out what it is, that they forget what God's has already revealed to us as his will. In the Bible, you don't find Christians trying to find what God's will is for everything they do. Instead, they live according to what God has already revealed and commanded them to do.

In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul tells the Thessalonians what God's will is for their lives. The first is found in verse 3: "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality." (NIV) The word use for "sexual immorality" is the word "porneia" and we all know what that is. It is used in a general sense to refer to acts that are sexual in nature contrary to God's plan. God's will for us is that we live a holy life, a life dedicated to Him that avoids sexual immorality. If there is a time where we need this it is today. Many Christians have been involved with the sexually charged culture to the point where they give in to it. There is almost no distinction between how Christians behave sexually and those who don't know Christ.

Paul continues and warns the Thessalonians that "that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God." (v. 4-5, NIV) In the next two verses, he also let's them know to be careful not to do any wrong to another Christian in this area because God will judge them accordingly. Again, it calls us to holiness and purity.
Young people and singles, especially, should take note that for God it is a serious business to fool around sexually in any way with another Christian without regarding them with purity and honor. God will judge us for how we treat them in this area. If we disregard this command, we disregard God himself. This is serious.

God's will is that our bodies are kept pure and honorable. The verses are clear and need not much explanation.

God's will is also that we love each other (verses 13-18). We have been taught by God to love and we should love others as well.

The last part of this chapter, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of God's promise of the resurrection of those dead in Christ when He comes back. The Thessalonians had experienced the death of some of its members and Paul encourages them by pointing that death isn't the end, they will see their loved ones again. Christ's resurrection guarantees the resurrection of those who are "sleeping" (sleeping is used as a euphemism for death because the death of the body is only temporary) in Christ. Christ will bring them back in a resurrected body. This may be confusing for some. In chapter 5 Paul continues this topic which I will write about later.




Friday, April 13, 2012

Ten Things I Learned While In France

1. There is a crepe place in almost every corner.

Crepes!

2. Don't jay walk or they will run you over!


3. Smoking is cool, so many people do.


4. They love MacDonalds, but who doesn't?


5. When you ask for coffee large and small they mean French sizes.


6. Don't trust maps when looking for places.


7. When asking directions, be ready to ask 2-3 times and still get lost.


8. Streets names are called "Rue de..." and they change all the time


9. The metro is the best way to move around and it is quite simple with numbers and colors for neophites in the Metro system.


10. They have the Louvre museum where the Da Vinci Code was filmed!



 

 

 

 

Ten Things I Learned While in Rome

1. There is Pizza in every corner.

2. There are eating places in every block.

3. They love carbs for breakfast, lunch & dinner.


4. They need more chickens for eggs and cows for beefor steak.


5. They have good water, even from fountains or firehydrants (we saw people drinking from both).


6. Water is not free in restaurants.


7. Wi-fi is a commodity in public places.


8. Old and new buildings coexist together in perfect harmony.


9. If you want coffee, say "American coffee" and bring your cream with you if you don't want milk.


10. Jaywalking is not forbidden, it's a way of life.



 

 

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You know your hotel isn't great when...

I usually post serious stuff, but this was a must


- There is no elevator and you are on the 3 rd floor
- You bump everywhere in the bathroom
- You tell them to give you a clean cover because it had hairs
- You have to buy a sheet because you don't trust theirs
- Your wife doesn't want to take a shower
- The office is so near the kitchen and you can see pans.

All true!


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Called to Suffer...Even More, A Reflection on 1 Thessalonians 3

No one likes suffering. I certainly don't. Yet everyone suffers to some degree. We are all part of what we Christians call fallen humanity and a fallen world. Much of the suffering we experience is a result of the consequences brought about from sin, a broken, imperfect world. Suffering isn't normal. It is the result of our separation from God. Yet, in this broken world, we all experience it to some degree. For those not of faith in Christ, the response to suffering comes in various forms (e.g., curses, bitterness, hopelessness, depression) but it is never understood nor hope found. It is something incomprehensible and non-sensical. For the Christian, it is also very puzzling. Christians throughout the ages have tried to make sense of it and explain it in relation to a good God. We don't have all the answers. Yet, Christianity offers the best hope in light of eternity (yes, I am aware this is left without support, but the intent is not to offer answers to the problem of suffering).

Becoming a Christian does not make us exempt from suffering. In fact, it is something to be expected and at times it can be more intense than what an average person would experience. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 3, the Apostle Paul tells the believers of Thessalonica that they were destined (v. 4) to trials and tribulation for their faith. They were suffering distress and persecution for their belief in Christ (v. 7) and Paul encourages them by reminding them that this was expected. The Apostle himself sets himself as an example (he says "we") as one who suffered for Christ (it is interesting that when Paul was saved, Christ had told Ananias that Paul would be taught to suffer for His name - Acts 9:16). Amidst suffering, the Thessalonians remained faithful to Christ.

All Christians are called to suffer just as Christ suffered (see 1 Peter 1:6-9; 2:19-21; Acts 14:22). We will suffer because we are part of this world. We will suffer because of our faith. But our faith is rooted in the eternal God who one day will restore everything to Himself. We should not be surprised when suffering finds us. Paul's prayer is for us as well: "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." (v.13)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who Decides Who Lives or Dies?

I began reading the book of Jeremiah the prophet. It begins by stating the following:

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” "(1:4-6 NIV).

God knew Jeremiah before He was in his mother's womb. He also made Him in the womb. But even before that, He already knew what Jeremiah would be, a prophet to Israel. Jeremiah calls him "Sovereign Lord."

God decided to give life to Jeremiah and decided his future not his parents. This has implications for us today. None of us have the right to decide who lives or who dies. When faced with an ethical dilemma dealing with life and/or death we choose to err on the side of life. It is not our role to decide to be God.

Here are other passages that speak about how God is responsible for creating every person.

Psalm 139:13-16 - For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,when as yet there was none of them." (ESV)

  • Notice several things, God forms every person in its totality. It is a detailed process. God has decided all the days we will live on this Earth.

What about those people who have a handicap, isn't it better not to have them?

Exodus 4:11 - Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" (ESV)

  • God takes responsibility for those who are handicap. He gave them life.
We don't know why things happen, good or bad. But our response should be the same as Jeremiah's: "Sovereign Lord." He decides who lives or who dies, not us!

 

 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Kings - Part I

I have just finished reading the book of 1 Samuel. As I reflect back, I can think of some things that I learned from the life of the first king of Israel, Saul and from it's second king, David. One was the people's choice because they approved of him even though it was still God's man (1 Samuel 9:15-16; 10:24). The second one was God's choice and the people had nothing to do with it. But neither one was God's intent for Israel. God wanted to rule Israel but the people rejected Him (1 Samuel 8:7-8). They wanted to follow the custom of nations around them (1 Samuel 8:19-20).

As I have read this narrative, I can glean a few lessons from the life of king Saul that I need to keep in mind:

1. God saves and empowers those whom He uses.

Even though it was not God's will for Israel to have a king, God guided them in the process of selecting their king. God is not capricious and He wants to bless us and does so in spite of our mistakes (1 Samuel 12:15). God gives Saul His a new heart: "When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day." (1 Samuel 10:9). Saul is empowered by God and even prophesies with the prophets. Soon though, we will see how Saul loses his empowerment (not salvation-see 1 Samuel 28:19) and the kingdom.

God will never give us a task without giving us His power to carry it out.

2. Humility is something that needs to be cultivated daily.

Saul starts as a shy young man, but as he assumes the kingship, what God has said kings would do to the people comes to pass (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Humility turns into pride. Saul manifests his pride when he offers sacrifice to God, something only a priest was allowed to do (1 Samuel 13:8-14). This is a foolish thing that will cost Saul his kingship: "And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever." (1 Samuel 13:13 - ESV). Everything goes downhill from here.

God wants us to be humble and not think that what we are is all because of ourselves.

3. Obedience is better than any sacrifice offered to God.

In 1 Samuel 15 Saul is given direct instruction to eliminate the Amalekites. (Some would see this as event as something to object. See post here for answer) Saul decides to do his own thing and keep some of the spoil. His excuse given is that it was done for God. God's answer is: "“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 - ESV)

You can repent of your sin, and should but this will not eliminate the consequences.

God wants our obedience first. What you do for Him is secondary to that. Period.

4. A life of disobedience to God brings consequences spiritual in nature but affecting the whole person, sometimes they even lead to death.

After Saul decides to disobey God, his life is filled with torment. A harmful spirit from God torments him (1 Samuel 16:14). His life becomes controlled by pride, rage, jealosy, despair and failure. He tries to kill David several times and kills innocent people (1 Samuel 22:6-21). Saul end is tragic. He commits suicide (1 Samuel 30:4) after his military defeat by the Philistines. Unfortunately, his sons including Jonathan are killed as well.

In part 2, I will speak of king David.