Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Life a Witness

"Jesus' disciples will need to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior."

Sadly to say, Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher and pronounced atheist who stated this, denied Christ all the way to his death. In fact, most of his writings contained the statement "God is dead".

The Apostle Paul taught that our walk in Christ is our greatest witness. Paul says we are to,
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to fulfill it's lusts."
(Rom. 13:14)

When we put on the Lord Jesus Christ we are not only walking in the Spirit, we are walking in God's love and should then edify others with that same love. The Apostle Paul's whole ministry was based on these principles:

1. Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. (Rom.14:1)

2. Pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
3. Receive one another just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. (Rom.15:7)

4. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. (1Cor.7:23,24)

5. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more. Paul became all things to all men, that he might save some. (1Cor.9:19,22)

6. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phil.1:21)

Paul set the example for us, to live as we are called to live, in Christ.

If you were arrested today for being a Christian,
would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Power of Prayer

This past Wednesday evening church service was one part "history 101 on power of prayer" and one part "getting honest with God individually". A visiting Pastor Edds delivered a timely message that in some ways "revived" myself on the power of prayer. He brought to point some stories from back in the 1940's where people's prayers not only brought revivals, but individual lives were changed, as well as entire communities. Something that's much needed in our country and the world today. And most of these changes were through only a small handful of souls praying together:

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

His history lesson reminded me of my own personal lesson on prayer I had experienced in seventh grade:

I was coming home from summer church camp with my cousin when she suddenly fell ill and went into a coma which lasted a whole month. For that entire duration, my grandfather literally lived at the hospital, at her bedside praying for her recovery. And while he was doing that, I remember my parents having our entire church pray for her recovery as well. And so, when she came to, she was diagnosed with the worst case of diabetes one could contract. But today she lives her life to the fullest for Jesus Christ. And through advance medical technology and God's grace she just recently acquired an insulin pump to make her life more simpler, and enjoyable.

When two or more people come together in agreement concerning something, a greater amount of spiritual authority and power seems to be released than when just one is praying. So it is important for brothers and sisters in Christ to come together in agreement in prayer. If there's one piece of history we need to be reminded of more frequently it is just that, the power of prayer. If an elderly woman and a blind woman could change a whole community in Scotland by praying (1948), imagine what we could do!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


As I spent much of last week in much conversation with God since I was sick and then yesterday(tuesday) after work doing my prayer walk at the zoo(brookfield zoo in chicago 'burbs), God kept placing the word sustain into my thoughts. This word shows up 40 times in scripture, and for good reason.Yes, the last few weeks have been tough for me and what God was alluding to was in Psalms 55:22,

Cast your burden on the Lord
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

As soon as the Psalmist David says to cast your burden on the Lord , he immediately delivers to us the promise, that God will sustain us. The word sustain means: to hold up, to protect, to support, to defend. God does all of these for His people. All He asks from us is to act in faith.

Faith has nothing to do with feelings, nor is faith some passive response to adverse circumstances. Faith is a conscious choice to act on God's Word.

In the very next Psalm David goes a little further on trusting in God:
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You.
In God I will praise His Word,
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

It is so easy for us to think about our circumstances and act on it in the flesh. But when we apply God's Word and remind ourselves of His promise to sustain us in our circumstances, our fear turns to faith. Which is why He calls us to:
Cast your burden on the Lord.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Say So of my Own

Of all the blog posts on testimonies that I've done so far, never actually did one on myself.
So, here's the first:

I have been sick for the past week with a bad cold, I even took a couple of sick days from work, which for me is not normal. On Thursday as I was driving home from work a small piece of a throat lozenge that I had eventually chewed became stuck in my throat. So here I am in the left lane of bumper to bumper traffic, freaking out at what to do. Before starting my trek home I had filled my tank with gas and did an uncommon thing, at least for me, buy something to drink for the ride home. So, while my face is turning red in panic, I asked, well, pretty much pleaded with God for his help. He reminded me to take a drink of the juice I just so uncommonly purchased. I took a swig, no, still lodged in there. Took another swig, nothing, then another, and another. Then...Yes! It became dislodged and went down to my stomach. Whew!!!

One of the things I love about God is we can call on Him in an instant and He is always there for us:

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm116:1,2)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

God of Wonders

It's amazing what you can design through the great creation of God.

Those of you who know me well, know my love for nature: animals, flowers, trees, ocean, waterfalls, sunrises and sunsets, mountains, stars and planets. Need I say more??

On my last few runs on the trails after work, I have come across a woman walking her 3 legged dog. He lost one of his front legs in an accident. Nevertheless, he has adapted well I might say. And I somewhat marvel at his genuine happiness amidst his handicap: his joy of being petted by walkers and joggers ,and I' ve caught him on more than one occassion stopping to sniff the wildflowers along the trail.

I have also come across on those same trails an elderly woman on an electric cart walking her dog. Or should I say driving her dog? My guess is she has chosen to enjoy God's creation no matter what she has to do in order to do it.

I think one of the best ways to connect to the majesty of God is through nature. The greek word for majesty is megaleiotes, which means: grandeur, glory, magnificence, splendor, superbness, greatness.

One of my favorite verses of scripture is 1Peter 1:8:

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an expressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

When we view the creation of God, we not only see the handiwork of God, but we are filling ourselves with an expressible and glorious joy of Him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Breath of Heaven

A couple of night's ago I woke up in the middle of the night ( not so uncommon with my sleeping patterns). For some strange reason God had reminded me at that moment to pray for a friend who had been struggling lately. Well, I obliged, and after that, the next thing you know, the song "Breath of Heaven"came into my head. Why me, Lord?
In case you are not familiar with the song, it's a Christmas song, which just so happens to be one of my favorites. This song is also entitled "Mary's Song", hence the lyrics being about Mary's struggle with being chosen to carry the Son of God.

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son.

Could you even imagine what must have been going through Mary's mind when this happened? To be chosen by God to carry His Son. And what about Joseph and his mindset in all of this? The Bible says that Joseph was a just man, meaning: upright, blameless, righteous, conforming to God's law. I think God knew He could trust Mary and Joseph!

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now.

Before any of this happened to Mary, I believe she lived a simple, quiet life. But to now feel like she's carrying the weight of the whole world on her shoulders had to be burdensome. And there may have been times when she did feel alone in all of this.

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven.

I'd imagine Mary had many nights of crying out to God to "Hold me together".

I know the struggles we bear may not be as immense as that of Mary's. But, just as Mary did, we can cry out to God for help, for Him to "hold us together" in the midst of our struggle. Within our trials sometimes it's best to just give in: find a place of solitude, and let God breathe new life into our mortal bodies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Second Chances

A recurring theme of "second chances" has been making it's way in the news lately:

1. Some of the 155 passengers who survived the plane crash into the icy waters of the Hudson River back in January have recently come out and have spoken, not only of their ordeal, but about being given a second chance at life. Many of them have taken the solemn oath of now making the most of their new lease on life.

2. One of the more notable people being given a second chance is the controversial Michael Vick. He has been reinstated to play football again after serving his prison sentence for dog fighting.

3. A couple of weeks ago Nick Schuyler, a football player, spoke about being the lone survivor of a boating accident where 3 of his companions died. Nick was found 46 hours later clinging to the engine of the capsized boat in the Gulf of Mexico. He says he has continuous nightmares of the accident and frequently asks himself,"Why did I survive and not them?"

4. Another boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico, this one in August, where 3 Texas boaters held on for 7 days before being rescued. The men said they did alot of praying. One of the men even exclaimed,
"Lots of promises were made out there. And I'm gonna hold every one of them."

At one time or another in each of our lives we have been given a second chance. Whether it be through:

1. Health situations
2.Mistakes made in relationships
3.Job related
4.In our relationship with God

Over the weekend while visiting relatives out of town, I befriended an elderly man who was recovering from a stroke. If Arlo wasn't wheeling himself around and popping wheelies in his electric cart with an oxygen tank, he was cracking jokes with his wife and just having a grand old time. I admired this church-going man's zest for life. God gave him a second chance at life and he was appreciating every minute of it.
God's grace is an all sufficient grace. He is a loving God who forgives and doesn't hold our mistakes against us.

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:14)

No matter what your second chance in life may be, make the most of it, with God's love.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trees of Righteousness

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.

I recently saw this quote, in memory of someone, engraved on a park bench at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Illinois. I have always enjoyed the uniqueness of trees. Here is a picture of a Eucalyptus tree in San Diego. My first time seeing this tree I was totally blown away by it's beauty within the oddly shaped branches. A couple of facts about trees:

1. There are approximately 100,000 known species of trees that exist throughout the world.

2. The worlds tallest tree is a Coast Redwood Sequoia, found in Redwood National Park in California. It stands 379.1 feet tall.

I once heard in a sermon an illustration on the apple tree:

Have you ever been to an apple orchard when the apples are in season and are so ripe you could eat them as soon as you pluck them from the tree? The one common thing amongst all those trees with their ripen fruit; each tree has a trunk that looks battle scarred. The bark on those trunks are so scaled with rough, rugged, torn skin, you could tell the trees had weathered through many years of storms even though the fruit that exists on those trees are ripe in season.
What the Preacher was doing was likening us to those trees.

Throughout the Bible there are many scriptures where God makes reference of us to be like trees:

1. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out it's roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes, but it's leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit. (Jer.17:8)

When we branch ourselves out toward God, His springs of living water flow through us, refreshing us with His Spirit. When difficulties arise, fear will not take over us if we stay close to those living waters. Our souls should continue to prosper (bear fruit) even in the midst of storms.

2. Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and it's fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and it's fruit rotten (diseased and bad);
for the tree is known and recognized and judged by it's fruit. (Math.12:33)

We each have a choice on what kind of tree we want to be: healthy and good, or rotten and diseased. Our outer appearance may show rough, jagged, battle scars, just like those tree trunks in the apple orchards, but what really matters is the fruit. Are you bearing fruit? Are you consumed with blessings? When we choose to follow Christ, living our life the way He wants us to, blessings will overtake us. Your fruit will be ripe!

Even if you are facing difficulty at this very moment, if your soul is prospering,you are a good and healthy tree. And the other fruit (blessings) in your life will surely follow.