Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Coping with Pressures

j0442411 The daily challenges we face will either increase our dependence on God or decrease it. But the most important point of it all is to see our reactions to it no matter what. It is where we expose ourselves of who we are and our leaning towards our “faith” in God and His promises to us. That is why; we must become aware of how challenges trigger our reactions. John 16:33 states what Jesus declared, “…in this world you will have trouble…” (NIV) What are the “troubles” of life that we will face? The word trouble was taken from the Greek word “thlipsis” which means “pressure” (literally or figuratively). In other words, Jesus Himself declared that pressures will come upon us we live in this world in many shapes and forms. However, He specifically leaves us with enough ammunition to hold onto as these “pressures” that build up around us and in us. Here’s the complete declaration in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.“ (NIV) Two specific reactions we need to have when faced with pressures of life: find peace in Him and to have courage in His power. Therefore, we need to apply His word and prescription against all pressures from all sides and stand by it. In doing so, we will not go against it head-on but just let it pass by as part of life. And this is where we stand out as disciples of Jesus because we always heed the Master’s advice.

Allow me to share this simple story that I came across to put everything in perspective: “A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. The daughter sucked her teeth and waited impatiently, wondering what he was doing. In about 20 minutes he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in another bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a mug. Turning to her he asked, "Darling, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. She humbly asked, "What does it mean Father?" He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity: Boiling water but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. "Which are you," he asked his daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

How about us, my countrymen? Are we the carrot that seems hard, but with pain and adversity do we wilt and become soft, lose your strength? Are we like the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart? Are we fluid spirits, but after a death, a breakup, business bankruptcy, or a layoff have we become hardened and stiff? The shell looks the same, but have we become bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart? Or are we like the coffee bean? The bean changes the hot water, the thing that is bringing the pain, to its peak flavor when it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better. If we are like the bean, when things are at their worst, we get better and make things better around us.

How do we handle adversity? Are we a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Let’s talk again!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why Go To Church?

A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column,
much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote
this clincher:

"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked
some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu
for a single one of those meals But I do know this. They all nourished me
and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me
these meals, I would be physically dead today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Genuine Humility

Here is a true story of an immigrant family on a ship from Europe to America: They were poor, so poor that they had to spend almost all of their money on the ticket. What they had left over for food was only enough to buy bread and cheese. All they ate were cheese sandwiches. The young boy, Hans, said to his father, "Dad, please, give me some money for an ice cream cone. I hate cheese sandwiches!" His father said, "Son, we are poor. Cheese sandwiches will keep you alive until we reach New York; the streets are made of gold, and we will eat whatever we want." Not satisfied, Hans continued to beg for money so his father gave him some change for an ice cream cone. The boy disappeared and didn't come back for two hours. When he did come back he sported a big fat tummy and a huge smile on his face. "Hans, did you get your ice cream cone?" "You bet, Dad. And then another one, then a steak, and then apple pie." "What? You bought all that with the money I gave you" "Oh no, Dad. It is free! It comes with the ticket!"

If we analyze this true story, we can reach various conclusions. Obviously, this immigrant family did not realize that the food comes with the ticket. Perhaps they were misinformed or they had trouble speaking the language. Were they quiet and shy, not wishing to mix with the other passengers? Whatever the case, they missed out on some great food! I believe that this is a story that many could relate to. Unfortunately, this is a story that is repeated many times over many individuals and families around us. It is just very sad to know that due to their ignorance and false humility that they almost missed the benefits that came with their tickets.

Remember that each and every human being has been given somewhat a ticket to live life to its fullest potential. While many may argue that not all of us were born into the same standard and status of life and they have used this excuse over and over to whine through life filled with despair and discouragement. Others simply have opted to be quiet and content when they can become courageous in seeking the better life. The statement, "Life is unfair!" has become a slogan of many to be bitter about life and others around them.

Indeed, life is unfair and never has become fair due to the human nature of selfishness, a by-product of sin. How did it start? No one can argue that God Himself provided the first couple, Adam and Eve a Garden called Eden. A little paradise! The only basic instruction was the prohibition to partake the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Everything was theirs for their reach except for this one tree. But God never mentioned about a talking serpent that will tempt Eve. We all know what happened after the serpent's temptation: the fall of man and eviction from the Garden of Eden. Who was to blame?

From this episode of human history, we were made aware of our own demise. Even after being caught by God of their sin Adam and Eve never took the blame but pointed it at one another and Adam even blamed God. Knowing what I know about God that He is a gracious, forgiving God, if only these two have humbled when they were caught and admitted their sin, who knows what could have transpired next. Regrettably, they did not and this is the main reason we are in this situation. That is why until we put the blame squarely on our own doing, we will not learn that the basic rule of life is humility before God. Therej0422532 is no other way but up when you have stooped down touching the ground. Thus, the Scripture states in James 4:10, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (NIV)

What a promise to uphold in our daily life. Let God be God and see what He will do when we genuinely humble ourselves before Him.

Let's talk again!