Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heavenly Perspective

Nowadays, there are many news and stories of the coming end of the world specifically on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayan Calendar. Then again, there is an article stating otherwise. So what should be the reaction of many people? I would suggest looking for the right answer in the Scriptures. It is there we would find clarity and re-assurance of future events. Even Jesus was asked by His disciples about it, “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age? “And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:3-14).

I believe that no matter what kind of uncertainty would transpire in all aspects of our society in the days ahead, there should be an assurance for every individual to look ahead towards eternity i.e., to have a heavenly perspective. Let me share a story I come across about having such a perspective: “There is an old legend of a swan and a crane. A beautiful swan alighted by the banks of the water in which a crane was wading about seeking snails. For a few moments the crane viewed the swan in stupid wonder and then inquired: "Where do you come from?" "I come from heaven!" replied the swan. "And where is heaven?" asked the crane. "Heaven!" said the swan, "Heaven! Have you never heard of heaven?" And the beautiful bird went on to describe the grandeur of the Eternal City. She told of streets of gold, and the gates and walls made of precious stones; of the river of life, pure as crystal, upon whose banks is the tree whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations. In eloquent terms the swan sought to describe the hosts who live in the other world, but without arousing the slightest interest on the part of the crane. Finally the crane asked: "Are there any snails there?" "Snails!" repeated the swan; "no! Of course there are not." "Then," said the crane, as it continued its search along the slimy banks of the pool, "you can have your heaven. I want snails!"

The question is this: Why do we hold on so tightly to what we are familiar with? When in fact the things of heaven are so much superior; but we would hate to give up our "snails." What we have on earth are all temporary and can never be brought with us when we die. Therefore, let us use whatever we have as a means to fulfill Gods plan and purpose in our life and not holding on them even towards the end. Remember that we were born with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing as well. It is a fact of life and a reality that we must accept whether we believe it or not. We do not have a vote or a say on the matters of life and death. They are always in God’s hands. As a result, let us place our hands in Him.

As we are provided with a fresh new day, I urge you to pray this prayer ever so intently each day of our life: “Lord, help us to desire the things of heaven and secure our lives in the hands of your Son, Jesus Christ until the end of the age.”

Let us talk again!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Blessings of Relationships

Relationships have its starting points. It may be what people wanted and there are those that people are stuck no matter what. For example, family relationships are non-negotiable and cannot pick and choose the family members you’ll like to have. Whether you like it or not, they are there for the long haul. Even in choosing your lifetime mate; the odds are that their relatives and family members that may not be suited for your taste. But it is part of the package for the rest of your life together.

However, there is always a hope in it especially when one applies the principles and guidelines setout in the Scriptures about relationship and its dynamics. Colossian 3:12-23, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV).

In these verses, one will find guidelines of relationship between one another as brethren in Christ; between wife towards their husband; husband towards their wife; children towards their parents; fathers towards their children; employees towards their employers; and employers towards their employees. Even dealing with enemies, the Scriptures provide guidelines as well, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 'But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45, ESV).

But most of all, God gave the ultimate guideline in pursuing a successful relationship with all of the above-mentioned groups, i.e., "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

In other words, God has provided us all the necessary tools to make the most of every relationship we have whether favorable or unfavorable to us and the resulting effect can be either a blessing or temporary headache. But always remember that we were created to be in a relationship with different groups of people we will encounter in our lifetime. Therefore, we have no choice but to manage them all well for mutual benefit. Relationships can be compared with going in a supermarket with all the varieties of everything under one roof. There are different brands with differing qualities and the only way to know which one is to get it and try it. Except in the matter of every relationship, the “No Return, No Exchange and No Refund” rule is ever applicable. What do you think??? Let me know….

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

What will make this year different from last year’s is not changing the situation where you are in but an attitude adjustment that one currently has. It needs to be adjusted to see clearly, to speak better things, and to think positive thoughts. No one can afford to stay the same year in and year out. It is just plain boring! I believe that the most obvious benefit of each new day is to have a fresh start even when it might not seem so at the time. It is a blessing that cannot be affected by the prevailing mood of the day.

Here’s an illustration I come across to provide a clear point of view on how important it is for attitude to be adjusted correctly: Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do[1].

Like the hummingbirds that seek new life and freshness, the Scriptures also encouraged us to become a new person and renew our mind as stated in Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” There are two sets of attitude that we need to conform to: attitude affected by a worldly mindset and the spiritual mindset anchored in the Scriptures. Both can co-exist in the same attitude and personality. But which of the two is most dominant that causes one to act and think is what needs to be decided individually. I chose to abide by the godly attitudes taught by the Scriptures. To think and act based on God’s principles is a choice that anyone can make. It is not an easy task but workable with God’s help.

Know that our mind is such a beautiful and a scary part of our body especially when it is utilize to its fullest potential. That is why the Scriptures taught these timeless principles for everyday living: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

It is because a person's mental attitude has an almost unbelievable effect on his powers, both physical and psychological. The British psychiatrist, J.A. Hadfield, gives a striking illustration of this fact in his booklet, The Psychology of Power. "I asked three people," he wrote, "to submit themselves to test the effect of mental suggestion on their strength, which was measured by gripping a dynamometer." They were to grip the dynamometer with all their strength under three different sets of conditions. First he tested them under normal conditions. The average grip was 101 pounds. Then he tested them after he had hypnotized them and told them that they were very weak. Their average grip this time was only 29 pounds! In the third test Dr. Hadfield told them under hypnosis that they were very strong. The average grip jumped to 142 pounds.[2]

If we desire to become successful in all aspects of our life, then we need to heed the advice given by God to Joshua after he took over the leadership from Moses. It was given to ensure that Joshua would become successful like Moses: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8 ESV) If it was a guarantee of God to Joshua then, I firmly believe that it is a guarantee also for anyone who will accept it today. What have you got to lose when there’s a lot to gain?

Let’s talk again!

[1] Steve Goodier, Quote Magazine, in Reader's Digest, May, 1990.

[2] Bits & Pieces, May, 1991, p. 15.