Monday, June 25, 2012

PERSONAL PERCEPTION



 Different people have different perception. One man's meat could be another man's poison. Here’s a story to illustrate it: A couple bought a donkey from the market. On the way home, a boy commented, "Very stupid. Why neither of them rides on the donkey?” Upon hearing that, the husband let the wife ride on the donkey. He walked besides them. Later, an old man saw it and commented, "The husband is the head of family. How can the wife ride on the donkey while the husband is on foot?" Hearing this, the wife quickly got down and let the husband ride on the donkey. Further on the way home, they met an old Lady. She commented, "How can the man ride on the donkey but let the wife walk. He is no gentleman." The husband thus quickly asked the wife to join him on the donkey. Then, they met a young man. He commented, "Poor donkey, how can you hold up the weight of two persons. They are cruel to you." Hearing that, the husband and wife immediately climbed down from the donkey and carried it on their shoulders. It seems to be the only choice left. Later, on a narrow bridge, the donkey was frightened and struggled. They lost their balance and fell into the river.

You can never have everyone praise you, nor will everyone condemn you. Never in the past, not at present, and never will be in the future. Thus, do not be too bothered by others' words if our conscience is clear. And having this kind of standpoint ensures the needed stability in one’s standing in the midst of differing opinions. Moreover, it is what will provide the needed shield against personal insecurity.
Whether we like it or not, people will freely speak their mind to whatever they see that triggers it. They will always have something to say even if they don’t need to. And this should be expected as normal part of everyday living. It might not be personally against you but they might just be stating a quick and hasty opinion at the moment.

However, having such an atmosphere creates the dynamic of dialogue towards positive or negative results. No matter what the outcome, it will always lead towards favorable or unfavorable actions to both sides. We see it everyday in all aspects of family, political and elsewhere. But the most important thing to watch out is our response to the critical perceptions directed against us.

After all - it's just how you look at things. Here’s another illustration to clarify it: “A man was driving in the country one day and he saw an old man sitting on a fence rail watching the cars go by. Stopping to pass the time of day, the traveler said, "I never could stand living out here. You don't see anything, and I'm sure you don't travel like I do. I'm on the go all the time. The old man on the fence looked down at the stranger and drawled, "I can't see much difference in what I'm doing and what you're doing. I sit on the fence and watch the autos go by and you sit in your auto and watch the fences go by. It's just the way you look at things."

Choosing to see the better view of things and situations will provide an opportunity to do great things about it. While choosing to see the unpleasant will drastically reduce enthusiasm and lead to despair. The same principle goes with people perception; personal opinion should be delayed long enough for the right information about the person is gained.  In doing so, prejudgment will be radically avoided.

But always get the right perspective of things. Here’s an example: When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He's so big we can never kill him." But when David looked at the same giant and thought, "He's so big I can't miss." Life’s challenges should not become obstacles. Why? It is because challenges when seen by an optimist become a stepping-stone towards greater things while obstacles when seen by a pessimist become a stumbling block. The Scripture stated the attitude we should adopt, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Therefore, let’s choose to see the beautiful things of life daily even when ugly things rear its head. As much as we desire to remove them from our sight, always remember that God’s blessings abound much more. Let God’s word have the final say in our lives not any man’s.

Let’s talk again!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Letting Go of Bitterness



Think about the oyster. It takes a grain of sand and turns it into a beautiful pearl. Too often we are just the opposite--we take pearls and turn them into grains of sand.

How does the Bible describe the origin of bitterness? Hebrews 12:15 states ”See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”  (ESV) It is a root that can start from any offense even the smallest of offense that were left for the longest time. Furthermore, Song of Solomon 2:15 explained “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom."(ESV)  Thus, it is not the major things that causes men to be bitter but the most unexpected little events or issues in life, relationships, and etc.

What does bitterness do to any person? Here’s something I came across that seems extreme yet true: “A rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so angry it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is--a biting of oneself. We think that we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves. What’s the antidote that can be done? Let go of all bitterness! Many would say, “It is easier said than done!” The only reason that it would be the hardest thing to do is the inability to release forgiveness to the person that made the offense. However, in my experience as a Church Pastor, I have discovered that most of the time, the person accused of causing the offense was not even aware that the actions he/she made became the source of offense.

Misunderstanding, miscommunication, misconception, and all other “misses” are common starting place for bitterness. I have personally learned and taught many that the best way to avoid all of these things however they may be substantiated is to give people the  “benefit of the doubt” at all times. In doing so, you will never become trapped of it and may miss the good intentions of the person involved. I always believed that everybody means well until proven otherwise. It is not bad to adopt such mindset or labeled as na├»ve of the “reality of men’s nature.” I just made an individual choice to see the best of people first before making any judgment or assumptions whenever possible.

No one must live with such bitterness baggage all their life. It must be dealt with correctly and quickly to avoid poisoning every facet of life and relationship. Often times, even the way they look at life is totally affected by it, thus, losing total peace and joy in the process replaced by grumpiness and negativity about everything. What a sad way to live life: always bitter. Therefore, aim to become “Better not Bitter!” We all know that life is too short to be lived in such a state.

Looking at the greatest example in the Bible taught us to let go of any root of bitterness at the worst of situation: hanging on the cross at Calvary. Jesus gave us an example to emulate when He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” What a powerful expression of forgiveness towards the religious leaders that condemned Him and the Roman soldiers that carried out the sentence. It was simply applying what He taught to where it needed to be relevant. Jesus walked what He preached about.  Jesus’ words are applicable to any situation whether an offense was done or unkind words were spoken to us.

Just remember that our reaction will determine if we are going to be bitter or better than the person who acted or spoken unknowingly and/or unwittingly. Always remember Jesus’ words that can become a way out of any root of bitterness that can place you in bondage for a long time. Let go and do it immediately without any delay. If anyone said something that offended you, say this prayer aside from what Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are saying.”  Become a better person not a bitter one.

Lets talk again!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Every Father’s Mandate



Let me begin by sharing this endearing story that I came across: “A director of one of the great transcontinental railroads was showing his three-year-old daughter the pictures in a work on natural history. Pointing to a picture of a zebra, he asked the baby to tell him what it represented. Baby answered "Coty." Pointing to a picture of a tiger in the same way, she answered "Kitty." Then a lion, and she answered "Doggy." Elated with her seeming quick perception, he then turned to the picture of a Chimpanzee and said: "Baby, what is this?" "Papa." It gave me smile when I read it and I know it made you smile as well.

Being a father of two teen-agers has brought me to another level of adjusting my relational mode of fatherhood to both of them. I am personally blessed with a 16-year old teen-age boy and 13-year old teen-age girl. They are both very precious to us for they were born into our family as God’s gift and blessing. As of this time, I have not asked them if their picture of me would be a “chimpanzee” and I’ll sure to ask them. However, I know that I am still in the process of being the father that my God wanted me to become for my children. Although, I know that I may not be the perfect Father but I’m trying my best to provide to my children what I can as their best Father in all aspects of their life.

The mandate of fathers can vary from culture to culture. But the Scripture provided a very specific mandate for all fathers to remember as the apostle Paul exhorted: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 ESV). It is in direct parallel to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Simply stated, the mandate of every father today has not changed as God Himself prescribed then and for tomorrow i.e., to provide the foundational principles of discipline and instruction in the ways of God for the sole purpose of preparing them to become what God intends them to be. With this in mind, fathers become co-managers of God’s purpose in their children’s life.

By not knowing this mandate would jeopardize the whole fatherhood principles that God set for His glory and purpose. God is our God and also our Father in Heaven. Fathers have a huge responsibility to represent the fatherhood conscientiously as a direct reflection of God as our Father. A father that has a direct personal relationship with God will never go astray in representing God to his children and it will become evident in their children’s view of life and death. Here’s a story that would best illustrate it: “A devoted father came into the room where his eight-year-old was dying of an incurable disease. The child, sensing that he was not going to get well asked his father, "Daddy, am I going to die?" "Why, son, are you afraid to die?" The child looked up into the eyes of his father and replied, "Not if God is like you, Daddy!"—(Sunday School Times).

What kind of fathers do we need to become? Allow me on this special topic to share a gospel parable of the prodigal son to show the clear mandate of what being a father is all about (take special note of the underlined statements for fathers to remember): “And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want. So he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. And he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]. Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to revel and feast and make merry. But his older son was in the field; and as he returned and came near the house, he heard music and dancing. And having called one of the servant [boys] to him, he began to ask what this meant. And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed that [wheat-]fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and well. But [the elder brother] was angry [with deep-seated wrath] and resolved not to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him, But he answered his father, Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me [so much as] a [little] kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; But when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you have killed for him that [wheat-] fattened calf! And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found! (Luke 15:11-32 AMP).

May all fathers aspire to become like the father of the prodigal son. Happy Father’s Day to all and may the Lord God bless your aspirations and dreams for your children and your children’s children.

Let’s talk again!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stop, Look, Listen and Go!



We are surrounded by many things that provides us the means to stop, look, listen and go. It is what makes every aspect of life filled with the needed discipline to live properly and avoid chaos. Without these guidelines, anarchy will surely reign in our midst. It is what characterizes a civilized society.

Just imagine if we do not have these simple reminders when crossing a railway track, an intersection, even a simple line-up in the bank machine, a grocery checkout or a simple doctor’s appointment and for sure, it will be an utter confusion. Thus, it is important to be reminded how they govern our lives without us realizing its enormous value to secure stability personally, in family life and in society as a whole.

Here’s a simple equation of how God answers prayers that I came across that will illustrate it. Although this is only to show a pattern based on observations and experiences by many people in their Christian journey, including mine:

GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS

When the idea is not right, God says "No."
No - when the idea is not the best.
No - when the idea is absolutely wrong.
No - when 'though it may help you, it could create problems for someone
else.

When the time is not right, God says, "Slow."
What a catastrophe it would be if God answered every prayer at the snap of your fingers. Do you know what would happen? God would become your servant, not your master. Suddenly God would be working for you instead of you working for God.

Remember: God's delays are not God's denials.  God's timing is perfect.
                        Patience is what we need in prayer.

When you are not right, God says, "Grow."
              The selfish person has to grow in unselfishness.
              The cautious person must grow in courage.
              The timid person must grow in confidence.
              The dominating person must grow in sensitivity.
              The critical person must grow in tolerance.
              The negative person must grow in positive attitudes.
             The pleasure-seeking person must grow in compassion for suffering people.

When everything is all right, God says "Go."
  Then miracles happen:
              A hopeless alcoholic is set free!
              A drug addict finds release!
              A doubter becomes a child in his belief.
              Diseased tissue responds to treatment, and healing begins.
The door to your dream suddenly swings open and there stands God saying, "Go!"

The Scriptures is clear in regards to God’s promises: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV). It simply states that God always says, “Yes” when His promises are concern. But where does the “No,” “Slow,” and “Grow” is found? God says, “No” if it is NOT according to His will. One example was when Balaam was asked by King Balak to curse the nation of Israel but God said to Balaam: “God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Numbers 22:11 ESV).

He would say “Slow” when we are going ahead of Him and God provided His basic principle in doing so: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV). But intends for His people to “Grow” in trusting Him as stated in Proverbs 3:5-6: “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).

What’s my point in all of these things? It is simply that we must recognize that whatever men has put in place in regards to making society work in proper order, it was God in His wisdom that embedded in us these desires when He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26). God was at work in whatever we have done to remind us that no matter what happens in our lives, we will always stop to think, look towards the future, listen to the still small voice of God and go to where we are destined to become as God created us to become. There are many things to discuss but whatever was discussed here will be sufficient for now. Remember, always Stop, Look, Listen and then Go under God’s blessings!

Lets’ talk again!