Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Blesings

Time flies and Christmas is here again. Although there is a huge contrast in celebrating Christmas here in Canada and the Philippines nevertheless, the reason is the same: Jesus coming to the world 2,000 years ago. This is the main reason that we should celebrate it in the first place: He came. And to fully understand its significance to humanity, we should go back to the beginning or its origin. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Is it a time to indulge in shopping extravaganza? Is it just to buy and exchange gifts? Another holiday excuse to rest and take the time off? All of what I mentioned is what transpires in celebrating Christmas every year. However, it should not be the main focus. Christianity has Christmas in order to celebrate the coming of the Messiah Jesus in this world.Historically, Christmas was done to become an alternative to a pagan holiday coinciding during winter season and it was an intention well thought of. Every aspect of this pagan holiday was altered to reflect the greater meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, the early church in the New Testament does not celebrate Christmas or the birthday of Jesus but instead his death, burial and resurrection. No matter what the reason maybe, Christmas must became an opportunity for hope and love to abound. This is the time that families get together; generosity becomes the norm of the season; friends celebrate to enjoy each others company. Altogether, there is something about Christmas that anyone wants to be part of. There is probably the negative side of being stressed on what to buy and what to give our loved ones and friends but this is what makes Christmas fun and enjoyable. How to avoid stress? Just go out there and give what you believe will be acceptable as the best gift in your own opinion. (A special note to those who will receive, don’t criticize what you will get. Just express your gratitude towards the giver and smile when you open the gift and enjoy it just the same as the giver hopes that you will do).

What makes Christmas such an important holiday for Christians? When you come to take a hard look at its meaning you will find that humility is at the core that made it all happen. Humility was the key attitude of the main characters of Christmas and they showed it when the opportunity came to them. When greeted by the angel Gabriel and told of the news of her pregnancy through the Holy Spirit, her immediate action was fear yet she was assured as recorded in Luke 1:30-33; 38, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Her reply was, "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said…"(NIV) Even Joseph, Mary’s fiancĂ© after hearing her pregnancy initially decided to break off their engagement honorably was visited by an angel in his dream explaining God’s plan and upon knowing it withdrew his plan. His next action and immediate response was definite and calculated as described in Matthew 1:24, “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (NIV) But the most important action was done by Jesus above all as described in Phil 2:5-8, ‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.” NIV

Humility is setting aside what you believe by allowing God to change your desire towards His desire for your life. Therefore, humility is at the core of Christmas. It was the foundational principle of this season and all Christmas blessings we enjoy today emanated from this attitude. In the 21st century, how are we going to apply humility? The answer is clear; adopting a mind-set of humility will clarify our intentions in all our activities. It is the intention of being a blessing this Christmas. It must become the hallmark of our actions. To bless others must be the battle cry for us who are able to do so. Mary, Joseph and Jesus became the Christmas blessings for humanity when they humbled themselves to obey God’s plan. What then will be your Christmas blessing to others this Christmas? You need to think for a while and come up with a list. It should be intentional not incidental blessings. If you are looking for an opportunity to genuinely bless and become a blessing to others, Christmas is an excellent occasion to begin.

Merry Christmas to all!

Let’s talk again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Finding Satisfaction

Dr. Hans Selye researched and popularized a tiny membrane in the back of our head known as the RAS: Reticular Activating System. Your RAS has a primary function: it moves you in the direction of your dominant thought at that moment. We naturally act on what fills our minds. When we become preoccupied with a thought, eventually we want to act on it. This is what many are trying to do in their lifetime…find satisfaction. You will notice that people are leaning towards this direction. When they change job, buy clothes, new cars and many others…the main idea of it all is to satisfy what is missing and what they do not have. Especially when one compares what they have and what others have, that’s when the spirit of dissatisfaction begins to manifest strongly. The urges within becomes a nagging feeling that something must be done in order to be satisfied and to have what others have becomes the dominant thought and course of action. Thus, all energy and attention are fully utilized in obtaining the desires and its wants.

Former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, found himself unprepared for a television interview with Mother Teresa. Ron Mehl described the encounter this way: "All of Dan's standard approaches were inadequate. And the little nun from Calcutta didn't seem inclined to make his task easier. "When you pray," asked Dan, "what do you say to God?" "I don't say anything," she replied. "I listen." Dan tried another tack. "Well, okay...when God speaks to you, then, what does He say?" "He doesn't say anything. He listens." Dan looked bewildered. For an instant, he didn't know what to say. "And if you don't understand that," Mother Teresa added, "I can't explain it to you."

You may find yourself bewildered like Dan Rather with that kind of response. It might seem odd yet Mother Theresa found her satisfaction in the area of praying this way. It is not about the words you say or how many words you’ve said but the fact that there is a feeling of satisfaction in what you do. You see, to find satisfaction in life, stop looking at others and begin to see what God has given you at the moment. Never measure what you are and what you have with others. That’s where we miss the whole point of life and living. It is not about competing with your neighbor or anyone else for that matter. Nor making them the measurement of what you need to attain. My point is this: God did not make us to compete with others but to find satisfaction only from Him.

Remember that life is too short to be spent in pursuing the things that we cannot achieve in this lifetime though how hard we may try. Look around you and see how much we have already…family, friends, shelter, food, employment, clothing, money (though not plenty!) and many others. Jesus gave a stern warning in Luke 12:15, ‘Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."’ (NIV)

How true! What we have is not our life but they are part of our life. Therefore, begin to evaluate your life’s satisfaction. Where is it now? Have you found it or still looking for it? Try Jesus. You might find it only in Him and through Him.

Let’s talk again!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

When Things Are Rough

How should anyone react to the rough and tough times one is facing? I believe that in all things, one should never lose hope but instead be filled with optimism. Nothing by shall any means for anyone to become pessimistic. Your attitude determines how circumstances impact your life. There was an instance in the life of King David that could teach us how to have the correct attitude during some rough times. In 1 Samuel 30:1-6, the story goes like this: “And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” (KJV)

What happened to David and his men were a tragedy. Their reaction was common and understandable. Although, after they were pacified, felt that the blame must be placed on David. Remember, all of them including David were affected. Yet they could not help but to blame him for their misfortune. It was a typical response for anyone to find fault. Someone must receive the brunt of it all. Unfortunately, David was the leader and he received them all. But instead of responding, he retreated to a secluded place and “…encouraged himself in the Lord.”

This made David an unforgettable character. He responded with the tragedy like any other men. He felt helpless and angry. He empathized and cried with his people. But what separated him from the rest was his own ability to rise above it all in spite of the negative reaction he faced from his men. He knew what to do at times like those. He gave us a great lesson to bear in mind: during rough times, don’t give up!

Some of us might call it “fighting spirit.” But the Scripture calls it hope. The most important lesson of them all is this: rough times are God’s opportunity to show His miracles when given the chance. Keep in mind that “God never leaves us nor forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”What difficult time are you going through right now? Can you do something to change it? If you can, don't wait another day, make the needed changes. If you can't change the circumstance, however, change your attitude, you'll discover that circumstances won't have the last word.

Let’s talk again!