Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lessons From "Where's My Water?" (Part 1)

Have you played this new and amazingly fun game from Disney? It's an application you can download to your mobile device and use to kill time when you have nothing better to do! (hehe) Surprisingly, this game stayed on top of the Favorite List for 3 weeks since its release around September 2011, even knocking off the Angry Birds from their perch!

My son loves this game as much as I do. He is so into puzzles and strategic games that he's really having a LOT of fun playing with Swampy, the reptilian hero in this particular game. I like the idea that this Disney game is Physics-based, and so I have no problem with my 7-year-old getting hooked on it! (A homeschooling mom's favorite: Work & Play rolled into one! Hehehe...)

Swampy is a pretty interesting alligator, though. You'll find him so different from the rest of his peers. He's actually become an outcast and the ridicule of his "congregation," (Yes, a group of alligators is called just that) because of his un-alligator ways. ;) 

Swampy loves to keep himself clean and has good manners, mind you! That is why you will have to find ways for him to get some CLEAN water in the shower because unlike the rest of the alligators around him, he hates contaminated water!

Now I'm sure most of you are scratching your head right now and are probably asking yourself why a christian blogger is now sounding like a techie blogger in her post! Don't worry, I'm not changing my blog's theme nor the heart of my niche. ;)

I just wanted to share the lesson we all reflected upon very early this morning. The kids woke up pretty early (think 4:30!) as their dad prepared for work. Because my son is hooked on "Where's My Water?", he was already fidgeting with my phone at this time... (My 4-year-old daughter and I had our turns, too! Hahaha!)

Then something just hit us when we were about to get back in bed. God somehow used the game to remind us of how magnificent His Grace is in the life of an individual. 

The bible tells us this in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV)

Now, Swampy somewhat became a picture of that! I told the kiddos that Swampy is just like a person who places their genuine and full trust in the LORD Jesus Christ! We become a new creature in Christ and would no longer behave the way we used to! 

The moment an individual places their faith in the COMPLETED WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS, Jesus' blood cleanses our hearts from all unrighteousness and filth of sin (Revelation 7:14), and we become squeaky clean as Swampy! 

God's Word reminds us that it is ONLY BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). No amount of our own good works could ever make us HOLY and RIGHTEOUS before the eyes of God. No matter how much we give to the poor and needy, no matter how nice of a person we are toward others, no matter how many times we piously follow religious rituals and ceremonies, we still stand GUILTY before God for the sins we've committed! Our good works may seem to dust off some cobwebs on the surface and around our hearts, but it can never cleanse the very core of it that is tainted with SIN. (Romans 3:23) The Word of God clearly tells us that our good works are as filthy rags before the eyes of the HOLY and ALMIGHTY GOD! (Isaiah 64:6) 

That is why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins! That HIS righteousness may become OURS the very moment we trust in HIS COMPLETED work on the cross. Through HIM and HIM ALONE will we find the forgiveness of our sins and the ONLY Truth and Way to eternal Life! (see John 3:16, John 14:6, and Romans 3:24-26)

Before the New Year rolls in, try to examine yourself and reflect on the Truths found solely in Scripture. Ask yourself if you've honestly embraced CHRIST JESUS' completed, FINISHED WORK on the Cross. Have you placed your faith in HIS death and resurrection as the ONLY WAY to have eternal LIFE? Maybe today is the day of YOUR Salvation. Encounter God's Truth in His Word.

But if you say you have indeed placed your trust in Christ ALONE, there's more to it than that! We had a few more lessons that God reminded us of as we reflected on Swampy's life. We'll touch that in the next part of this Lessons from "Where's My Water?" series.

Y'all take care always!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Neverthless, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Everybody would probably agree that this year has brought many turmoil in our lives. From countries being shaken by earthquakes and tsunamis, to cities rattled by protesters, to families devastated by either war, famine, accident, job loss, foreclosures, natural calamities, disease and illness, or the global economic slump.

Not only that, but we also get a dose of agitation from those groups of people who just really love to wage war against Christmas. From the atheists who put up their billboards to mock the Almighty God they so willingly deny, and even to the many christians who are critical about the celebration itself.

There is so much hullabaloo around this particular season, really. From the over-commercialization of it, to the pagan roots of many of the traditions, Christmas has become a fiasco in itself. Many around the world either focus on Santa and his reindeers,  or the extravagant and insane holiday shopping and gift-giving.

I understand that today there's a lot of people becoming critical about the Christmas tree and the lights, or the mistletoe and the hollies. Many raise eyebrows at christians celebrating this season in December and many other this and that of the whole Christmas shebang!

What amazes me, though, is that many christians have allowed themselves to become so critically minded about all these Christmas things that they lose focus on what I believe is more important. We raise so many issues that we attempt to slap at people's faces and shove what we perceive is right down other people's throats that we no longer shine forth the good news of Christ's birth and the JOY that His Grace brings!

I honestly don't teach my children the "magic" of Santa nor anything mystical about the Christmas tree in our living room. Nor do we teach them that Christmas is about frantically shopping for presents and having plenty of gifts to open on Christmas Day.

But, we allow them to enjoy the season of remembering the miracle of the birth of our Savior, as well as understand how blessed we are to have the most important gift of eternal life through JESUS CHRIST.

In my own humble opinion, the many things we see and do today should always reflect the love of Christ and that we should seek to bring only HIM all the glory He deserves. It doesn't matter whether others meant the December celebration for evil, or whether they meant it to rob us of God's Truth. GOD will still bring to pass that which is good and that which accomplishes HIS purposes to save souls.

Unless the food on our tables and the decor of our homes are deliberately offered to demons, THEN, I would strongly become very critical about it. BUT if we could only take the Christmas season and make GOD bigger and the center and focus of it all, then whether it be celebrated in December, September, July or August; whether it be celebrated with presents under the tree or not; whether we have abundance to celebrate the day or none at all,  the Christmas celebration could and SHOULD be an avenue to show CHRIST's LOVE to a dying, dark and lost world!

I really would prefer we all FOCUS on the NATIVITY rather than the festivity. I'd rather we focus on JESUS' BIRTH rather than focusing on pagan traditions. I'd rather we USE THIS TIME TO GLORIFY GOD by sharing the gospel to the lost, rather than turn unbelievers off by our insensitivity and critical spirits. I'd rather we USE this "IN SEASON" to bring the JOY of the good news of the Savior's birth and the GRACE He freely offers to all who believes, rather than focusing on what others SHOULD be doing and SHOULD NOT be doing.

There are indeed many stark ungodly practices we see around us this Christmas Season and we should be discerning enough to see where our hearts are founded upon as we celebrate the season, but it SHOULD NEVER HINDER A TRUE CHRISTIAN from SHINING Christ's LIGHT, GLORY and TRUTH in the picture! We are planted in an evil and fallen world... may we LET OUR LIGHT SHINE before men, THAT THEY MAY GLORIFY OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN!

We may see heartaches and desperation around us... we may experience difficulties and hopelessness in our lives. We may learn about pagan and unbiblical practices around the Christmas tradition...
but nevertheless, let me wish you and yours 

was, is, and always will be 

Choose ye this day, then, who you want to serve, focus on, and glorify during this holiday season! 
But as for me and my house, I WILL SERVE, FOCUS, and GLORIFY 

"But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jonah, Get Off My Boat!

We all know his story very well and we can read it in his very own 4-chaptered book in the Old Testament section of our Bibles. 

Jonah... and Nineveh. Jonah... and the big fish. Yes, we know him so well who was running away from God and got swallowed by a big fish as a consequence to his rebellion. Yes, I'm talking about that Jonah. The Jonah I want to meet one day in heaven and ask about his short-lived adventure in the belly of the fish. 

However, this post will not be about Jonah's consequences and how important it is for us to realize that we can NEVER run away from the Creator God Himself! I'm here to post about a different perspective that we often overlook when we ponder upon the life story of the son of Amittai.

Seldom do we look at Jonah's story from another point of view and seldom do we take the focus off of him and that big fish that swallowed him. So for this post, I'd like to readjust the spotlight and focus it instead on the mariners that were with Jonah in the boat that sailed to Tarshish.

Why the mariners, you ask? Well, it's because there's something very important we all must understand about rebellion against God. And no, it has nothing to do with sitting helplessly in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights! 

It all started with a simple "No!" answer to God's call. Jonah decided to turn around and walk away from the God He can audibly hear. Jonah decided to close himself up to the calling that God has placed in his life. 

He deliberately REFUSED to listen to what God wanted Him to do. And so the little rebellion is now taking place. His father would have smacked him in the head and reminded him of how BIG His God is, hopefully putting back sense in Jonah's decision-making skills, but we wouldn't read that in the story. And so Jonah boarded the ship to Tarshish as he tried to convince himself that he can flee from the presence of the Almighty God.

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1: 1-3, KJV)

We all have these moments... deliberate moments of rebellion against God. We all wanted to do it OUR WAY and we oftentimes love to cling to what WE WANT TO DO instead of listen to what GOD wants us to do. And so every so often we are, like Jonah, boarding ships that sail to the other end of the world. And we oftentimes convince ourselves that we can somehow get away from God. 

But rebellion against God doesn't really go unpunished and unnoticed. I'd like to focus more on that "unnoticed" part because we all know what consequence or "punishment" we might find ourselves dealing with in our rebellion against the Almighty Father.

Jonah's rebellion didn't only affect himself. The Word of God clearly gives a picture of what we oftentimes get when someone IS deliberately rebelling against God. 

But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten itof them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. (Jonah 1:4-5)
Unfortunately, Jonah wasn't the only one sailing to Tarshish when that mighty tempest hit the ship. He was, in fact, just catching a ride in someone else's boat. These mariners allowed Jonah to ride with them to Tarshish. But take a look at what's going on here. 

It was THE MARINERS' SHIP that was on the brink of destruction! And it was THE MARINERS' WARES that were cast forth and sacrificed into the sea! Where was Jonah again? Uhm, the very person who got all of them in trouble had the audacity to go down into the sides of the ship to lay down and be fast asleep. How convenient! Don't you realize that we oftentimes find ourselves doing just that, too, in our rebellion against the LORD? 

We oftentimes have the nerve to just sit down and deliberately DO NOTHING about the sin in our lives and we leave things like it is as we continue with our spiritual slumber! We become INSENSITIVE to the chaos that we're causing other people to experience and we grow numb to the consequence of our rebellion against God!

Now, let's shift gears and focus on those poor mariners. Don't we see this happening in our lives sometimes? We allow people to come into our lives only to be included in the consequence of THEIR rebellion against God! 

We suddenly experience a mighty tempest and we see our lives being tossed and fro and was like to be broken just because we allowed people into our boats who are actually rebelling against God. We find ourselves LOSING OUR peace and losing a portion of what we have just because we've opened our lives to people that shut their ears on God! 

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. (Jonah 1:7)
Certain evils that are happening in our lives can be a result of other people's rebellion. We should be discerning to know if the troubles we currently face are a consequence to OUR deliberate disobedience or the deliberate disobedience of others around us. 

We must examine ourselves and acknowledge and confess our sin if the rebellion is stemming directly from our own hearts. But we must also ask God to intervene if we discern the rebellion to be stemming from others we invite in our lives. 

We face many tempests in life, that's for sure, but we ought to be mature enough to discern if OUR own rebellion against God is what's causing it, or if we need to ask God to throw out the rebellious spirits off our boat!

If indeed the rebellion is OUR own doing, we ought to be discerning enough to know WHEN to yield to God's call for obedience and stop causing trouble to others around us. And like Jonah, we ought to come to a point in our lives where we say...

"Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." (Jonah 1:12)

Dear LORD,

Search me and know my heart and see if there is any rebellion in me that's causing others to experience a tempest in their lives. Forgive me for causing others to sacrifice much and to lose their peace for my sake. I confess my sin of rebellion against you and pray that you will change my heart and heal the wounds that I've caused others around me. May your Spirit deal with me alone and form me into Your likeness more today.

I pray that you restore the Peace in the lives of those I've messed up because of my disobedience to you. And I pray that you protect them from any harm that may arise because of me. Protect them and spare them the consequence of my rebellion against You. I accept responsibility and accountability to the sin I have against You, Lord, and I pray that you will restore my ability to be sensitive to your calling in my life. May you restore my walk with You that I may become a blessing to others instead.

I seek only to glorify Your Name, O LORD. May you empower me with Your Spirit that I may bring You only Honor, Praise, Worship and Thanksgiving in all that I do in this lifetime. Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank You, Lord!

Thankful people do not wait for positive things to happen in their lives. Thankful people do not wait for their finances to be stable in order to BE happy. Thankful people do not wait for their health to be in its best in order to utter a Praise for the Lord. Thankful people do not wait for relationships to be perfect in order to thank the Lord for who He is and what He has, is and will be doing. Thankful people OVERCOME anything that comes their way.

And so, no matter how grim, and difficult, and impossible, and frustrating the situations may be around us, let us learn to give thanks unto the LORD, KNOWING that He who is Sovereign is in control of everything and that He makes ALL THINGS work FOR GOOD for those who love Him and are called unto HIS PURPOSE!

Thanksgiving is almost here and so I want to share these songs to all of you hoping that they will become heartfelt prayers to God. Let us set aside time to Praise HIM, and Thank HIM for all that He has done, all that He is currently doing, and all that He will do in the future! His Name is to be PRAISED now and forever!

I pray that you and yours will have a Blessed Thanksgiving 2011!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Joy of Being Weak

Nobody wants to be labeled weak, especially perhaps, when people around us know about our profession of faith in Christ Jesus.

Weakness, in whatever aspect that may be, is usually viewed as a misrepresentation of the faith we have in Christ Jesus. Our shortcomings in the way we handle relationships, money, time and resources oftentimes give us a burdensome weight to carry as we continually think that these moments of lacking better judgment and better control of ourselves only prove our being a people who don't really fully trust and obey God.

I am comforted greatly, though, with the passage of Scripture that God has led me to today. I was quite blown away by the great sovereignty of our Lord as he masterfully coincided the message of two different devotionals I read alongside my Bible. It was a message that is LOUD and CLEAR.

The LORD wants us to find the JOY in our being faulty, imperfect, weak!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake
for when I am weak, then am I strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10, KJV)

We all have moments of frailties. We all have seasons when the storm is the only thing we see. We all have those times in our lives when we just can't stand tall and proud because we've become bitter and angry, blew up in a fit, mismanaged our finances, said the wrong words to our spouse, failed to read our Bible and pray, allowed stress to take over our day... again

When these moments envelope us, our faith gets clouded with doubts of how genuine our walk is with the Lord. But then, when we allow the Word of God to speak louder than the howling winds of our insufficiencies, we will soon realize that God doesn't require us to be super humans! 

He doesn't give us a failing grade if we can't immediately get up and dust ourselves off every time we fall. He doesn't want us to become apathetic nor expect us to all of a sudden assume the role of a super man or woman in every adversity in life. 

God wants to WORK IN and THROUGH us, and the only way that that becomes possible is when we acknowledge how lacking and how weak we are in certain areas in our lives. It's just like the old cliche, "You can't fill a cup that's already full."

When we come to a point in our lives when we KNOW first hand that we lack the capacity to deal with the things at hand, let us not become proud and appear as if we can handle the situation every time. 

Oftentimes, a humble heart is the key to harnessing the POWER of the Almighty God that He has given us through His Spirit. The first step is to ACKNOWLEDGE that we are incapable of handling the situation by ourselves... that oftentimes, we NEED the help of the One who is Greater and Stronger than us.

Have you failed to show love to your spouse... again? Have you burst in anger and failed to control yourself... again? Have you failed to manage your finances well for this month... again? Have you failed to sacrifice a portion of your time to spend reading Scriptures and to pray... again? Have you panicked, become anxious and worried and stressed out about something... again?

Listen, the secret formula is to learn to be JOYFUL in being weak! Let's imitate the apostle Paul who realized that we CAN ALWAYS TAKE PLEASURE in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress because the truth is by then, God's sufficient GRACE becomes manifest in us.

Let us then come boldly before His throne and acknowledge our sinfulness, our depravity, our insufficiency, our lack of better judgment... and let us ask the LORD to bless and infuse us with HIS STRENGTH to forgive, HIS POWER to resist sin, HIS ABILITY to provide, HIS CAPACITY to persevere, HIS CAPABILITY to LOVE, and HIS GRACE to STAND STILL and STRONG.

The joy of being weak lies within the very fact that God's GRACE is sufficient where our weaknesses lie... for when we are weak, then HE is strong!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of "Christian" Hypocrisy

I believe we've seen it mastered perfectly in so many "christian" lives today. Christian Hypocrisy is what I want to call it. The Art of professing CHRISTIAN beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not really hold or possess.

The Church today is filled with so many professors of faith in Christ Jesus. People who know that Bible talk pretty well for years and yet doesn't really walk in its Truth. Oftentimes, we see people walking through this life claiming to be living their lives for the Lord and yet showing a life that totally defeats their profession of faith.

We all are guilty of failing in our Christian walk every now and then, but the one truly saved by Christ will have a radically changed life and the Holy Spirit's power within is manifest in the GROWTH of the spirit and the COURAGE to change. I believe no-one who has truly trusted Christ Jesus will continue to live a life that portrays hopelessness... No-one who has truly been born again will continue to live a life that is insensitive to the Holy Spirit's convictions.

Perhaps, it is that favorite sin that each of us want to cling to since walking down that aisle and professing faith in Jesus that makes us master the Art of Christian Hypocrisy. There is that particular sin of harboring bitterness, frustration, anger, lust, pride and self-exaltation in our hearts that make each of us live hypocritical "christian" lives.

I believe the apostle Paul warned the Ephesians (and all of us today) clearly about this particular art of Christian hypocrisy. For he wouldn't have mentioned the following if he hadn't seen many trying to master this particular Art in their lives...

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are calledWith all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love
(Ephesians 4:1, KJV, emphasis added)

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4: 14-15)

A profession of faith in Christ should come with the accountability of a christian to GROW UP and mature in his/her walk with Jesus. The calling of a Christian life is not just about memorizing verses and familiarizing ourselves with Scripture. It is not about knowing christian hymns and songs, nor is it about knowing the parts of the Bible and where to flip the pages to when the preacher says "Turn to Malachi..." What we all profess to be called for to live is the life of a RENEWED spirit... a RENEWED MIND! 

Our profession of faith MUST show the fruit of a life radically changed by the Gospel of Truth... a life that's lived for CHRIST and not for self... a life that's taught by JESUS and changed by His Truth! Listen to what Paul said in Ephesians...

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:17 – 24)

We oftentimes see professing "Christians" wallow in anger and bitterness, in pride and rebellion, in resentment and regular sinning. Oh, we love that sin that easily entangles us. We love its smell on our souls, we love its chains that bind us. We love its sweet deceiving taste in our mouths. 
In God's Name, dear brother and sister, ARE WE NOT TO PUT ON THAT NEW MAN?! Are we not called to a life of righteousness and true HOLINESS?!

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ! There has to be a deliberate decision on our part to PUT OFF ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that is corrupt and not of Christ!!! Jesus sets us free from the bondage of sin because His Holy Spirit gives us the POWER to RESIST the ways of the flesh!!! 

IF we profess to have heard from Christ Jesus' TRUTH and are walking in it, then for HIS NAME's SAKE GROW UP!

Why do we continue to live in anger, in bitterness, in contempt, in resentment, in pride, in lust, and in defeat as if we have not been purchased by the very Blood of the Lamb of God Himself!?! 


Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

There is REDEMPTION in Christ! There is POWER in the HOLY SPIRIT! There is DELIVERANCE in the BLOOD OF JESUS! 

We know these words very well over the years... it is about time we LIVE IN THEM!

Christ never gave us a Spirit of timidity and fear, but of POWER, right? 

Why then do we DELIBERATELY CHOOSE SIN over holiness? DEFEAT over victory? SELF over Christ?! 

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1: 14-16)

Let us quit playing "church" and BE the Church that God has called us to be... because it doesn't necessarily mean that if at one point in your life you've prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into your heart that you have truly been BORN AGAIN.

Let us ask the LORD to search our hearts today and reveal to us the BLINDNESS therein as well as the vanity of our minds, that we may REPENT and receive His Grace and Mercy, and live lives that genuinely glorify His Mighty Name.

For all the suffering that we have to endure in dying to ourselves daily and living godly lives that profess Christ's power, may we remind ourselves over and over and over again that WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN to receive ALL glory, honor, worship and praise that our lives could ever give.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin