Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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 become a nagging feeling that needs to be satisfied. However, to others it became the dominant thought and course of action. Thus, all energy and attention are fully utilized in obtaining the desires and its wants both positively and negatively.

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 neither matters in making them the measurement of what you need to attain. Here’s the botomline: God did not make us to compete with others but to find satisfaction only from Him.

The apostle Paul gave us a very important lesson on this subject. Read carefully what he has written to the church in Philippi as stated in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV) Being content and satisfied must be learned. It must be acquired by discipline and focused. In Paul’s case, it is through Jesus that gave him strength to be content in whatsoever circumstances whether good or bad. The situation at hand does not dictate the satisfaction and contentment but the knowledge that one needs to be content regardless of the situation is vital.

Moreover, consider what he has taught his disciple Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)

This is an important principle to be contemplated daily and should remind us of our mortality. 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 as Paul did. You might find it only in Him and through Him.

Let’s talk again!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Increased Knowledge with Enriched Experience: 2013 Washington Conference

JRAM delegates
with Pastor Arnel Aquino
in front of the Cannon House
@ Capitol Hill
Recently, there were a number of JRAM leaders from Calgary and British Columbia who’ve participated in the 2013 Washington Conference and Leader’s Summit with Israel Allies Caucus Foundation in Washington, DC last November 14, 2013. The invitation to attend was sent by Knesset Christian Allies Caucus through its Director, Josh Reinstein. According to the email sent to me, “The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus has been working hard to mobilize political support for Israel through faith-based diplomacy. The culmination of that work will be centered around a summit that we will be holding in Washington on November 14. At this summit we will gather dozens of Congressman, Members of Knesset and Bible- believing politicians from around the world. The centerpiece of the Summit will be a Gala dinner where we will make the point that the Christian leadership is behind Israel. Our plan is to have 50 tables full with pastors, Christian businessmen and Christian leaders from across America.” 
Inside Cannon House during Summit

In addition, one of the major reasons for JRAM’s participation is a simple reminder that Christianity owes a debt of gratitude to Israel, as our Savior Jesus Christ, a Jew Himself begun this movement that we are part of. This is the least that we can do for His people, i.e., to show our unwavering support through education of our church leaders and congregation towards Israel and its role in our Christian life. Furthermore, we adhere faithfully and believe in the promise that God gave Abraham in Genesis12: 2-3 about Israel, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

When I received this invitation, I immediately sent an email to all JRAM Pastors and Coordinators with the following objectives for attending this event:
1. To maintain friendship with Israel through Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and support its objective for Israel's concern. 
2. To connect with key leaders in the greater Body of Christ coinciding with support towards Israel.
3. To align JRAM with like-minded organizations and the Body of Christ in openly declaring support for Israel. 

Taken during
2013 Washington Conference
Gala Dinner
JRAM delegates with Pastor Giulio Gabeli
and other Canadian delegates
I am happy to report that we have fulfilled each objective that we have set out to do in this ministry trip. Attaining new knowledge and understanding of the value of Israel to our Christian life is essential to discovering God’s purpose and plan for humanity and it is when we begin to immerse ourselves with this awareness that the biblical knowledge becomes a reality for us today. Nobody can deny that Israel’s presence is intertwined with Christianity’s ideals.

Attendees of the Gala Dinner
Jesus Rock of Ages Ministries (JRAM) is proud to become one of Israel’s partner in fulfilling God’s plan and purpose in sharing His message to many people that He is a God of miracle and wonder, as Israel’s existence in modern times is a witness of it. Overall, the ministry trip was worth it and looking forward to a time that JRAM can organize an educational tour to visit Israel and individually experience the Holy Bible comes alive. This is something we need to prepare for and look forward to. Thanks to JRAM Churches that participated by sending the Pastors and Coordinators and the opportunity to represent JRAM. Lastly, I speak for all delegates when I say this: we were blessed by the experience and learned a lot
from it.

Maximize Life to the Fullest

The Psalmists reminded us about the length of one’s life span: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…” (Psalms 90:10a ESV). Someone has calculated how a typical lifespan of 70 years is spent. Here is the estimate:
Sleep................23 years...........32.9%
Work.................16 years...........22.8%
TV....................8 years...........11.4%
Eating................6 years............8.6%
Travel................6 years............8.6%
Leisure.............4.5 years............6.5%
Illness...............4 years............5.7%
Dressing..............2 years............2.8%
Religion............0.5 years............0.7%
Total................70 years............100% (Our Daily Bread)

Looking at what the Scriptures says about life span, there are important reminders to remember. In James 4:14 ESV, we are reminded about the brevity or shortness of life: Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” It is also confirmed by the Psalmist: “….they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Psalms 90:10c). But one observation that the Psalmist significantly described is this: “…yet their span is but toil and trouble…” (Psalms 90:10b).

It seems that many in living their life are in agreement with this statement of Richard L. Evans that causes many to lose vitality in living life: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” In order to avoid this tragedy, we need to take heed on what God prescribed for us to do. Allow me to provide some biblical mandates and promises in living life to the fullest:
  1. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (things that we need in life) shall be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34, italics mine)
  2. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
King Solomon, when asked by God what he wanted in life with an offer of a “carte blanche” (permission to do something in any way you choose to do it-Merriam Webster Dictionary), he did not take time to think about what he wanted but knew exactly what he needed to have: At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you….Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (I Kings 3:5, 9 ESV) After hearing King Solomon’s response to His offer, God was pleased and added more than what He asked for: It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 Kings 3:10-14 ESV)

What one lesson can we learn from this? We must choose and decide to walk in His ways and keep His statutes and commandments that He prescribed for us to follow. When we do, God will lengthen our days and everything else that follows are all secondary to it.  I believe that a Swedish Proverb excellently summarized what God wanted for us to attain in our life: “Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things will be yours.” And after all is said and done, here’s an important reminder for us to remember in living our life to the fullest, as someone said: “Let your life be like a snowflake which leaves a mark but not a stain.”

Let’s talk again!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Winning Emotional Battles

Some people asked how individuals could control their emotions well while others are out of control with worst results. The fact of the matter is this that our emotions are God-given and it is a huge part of what makes our life rich, interesting and challenging at times, however, with God’s help we can better manage our emotions at all times. Here’s a biblical example that King David experienced to illustrate the reality of emotional battles specifically in the area of depression: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar’” (Psalms 42:5 ESV).

Allow me to share four distinct things that we can learn from David in his response to his feelings of depression: (a) He starts out standing to one side looking at his soul, which is feeling, depressed and asked these questions to his own soul, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? (b) Secondly, he gives an immediate instruction to his soul, “Hope in God.”;  (c) Third, he declares what he is going to do; “for I shall again praise him.” We might say David has a talk with himself and if he can do that, so must we; (d) Lastly, he reminded himself to remember God and His miraculous power that He has done I the past “My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.” In other words, David was able to reverse the nagging feelings he was dealing with at the time by countering the negative effects of depression with God’s promises that he knew so well in his heart. By doing this, he was able to free himself from its grip and shake it off from him.

Here’s a specific illustration I found to give you a better picture of dealing with any emotional giant: “A painter once painted the devil playing a game of chess with a young man whose eternal soul was at stake. The scene showed the devil with a look of glee on his face as he checkmates the young man whose look of despair acknowledges defeat. There appears no other move for him to make. A great chess player came across the work of art and, after carefully studying the game, he set up a chess board with the pieces in a similar position. After much thought and time, he saw that defeat could be turned into victory. By making just one certain move on the young man's behalf, the devil was placed in a position of utter defeat.

In the game of life, the youth has no chance against the wiles of the devil that is determined to ruin the soul. But at Calvary the Lord Jesus intervened and made a 'move' that enables anyone today, who trusts in Christ, to have complete victory. `Thanks be unto God Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[1] Just one move can make a huge difference between defeat and success; depression and deliverance; freedom over bondage of emotional scars. Let’s choose victory and never become a victim again. Thus, we need to make our “victory move” through our Lord Jesus Christ to overcome all life’s battles of our Christian life today, tomorrow and until He comes. No one would have thought that Jesus gave us the winning card at Calvary for us to overcome any emotional battles that may come our way. Thus, never allow these emotional giants to dictate our direction in life but instead take a hold of them and overcome them with God’s promises. With this in mind, let me share three specific ways you can do to deal with difficult emotional battles you may have now: (a) You can communicate one’s emotion to express it properly and to build others intentionally, or; (b) You can camouflage one’s emotion to suppress it and place oneself in a trap, or; (c) You can counterattack one’s emotion to transform it with wisdom to benefit oneself primarily and others in mind. Here’s a clue to help you choose: always choose #1 and #3 AND NEVER #2.

Let’s talk again!

[1] Youth for Christ Magazine

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Living An Authentic Christian Life: Integrity

No copyright infringement intended

Authentic Christianity is not a dress rehearsal for a show that people observes but a reality that every believer must live out daily for people to follow God and His plan for their lives. The Scriptures describes simply what authentic Christianity is about: “Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4-6). Here’s what I believe that can summarize what John wanted to convey to us today: “When we fully imitate Jesus’ life and character in our daily life, then we can truly impact those around us as they see Jesus’ life manifested in us.”

In order to fully understand what we need to do to have an authentic Christian life, we must remember these three (3) essential things at hand: (a) Knowing God without keeping His commandments is portrayed as a liar and a deceiver, “Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(v4); (b) Knowing God and keeping His word is a proof of His love and relationship with Him, “…but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him” (v5); (c) Abiding in God must reflect Jesus’ life at all times, “…whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (v6).

What marks an authentic Christian life? One major component is to walk and demonstrate a life of integrity. An online dictionary defined integrity this way: “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity”[1] How does one exhibit integrity? In his book Lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein II points out one reason Christians have always known: "A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty . . . taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue's head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady's coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms, and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay.” Subsequently, when you are creating a work of art, or any other kind of work, finish the job off perfectly. You never know when a helicopter, or some other instrument not at the moment invented, may come along and find you out.

Always remember that people around us can simply observe manifestation of its validity and can attests to its existence or non-existence in one’s life. Read carefully what Paul exhorted Titus to do that we can also observe: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (2:7-8). Thus, living an authentic Christian life is an adventure and a journey in itself that must be continually pursued with an aim to please and honor Jesus alone. When God’s people fail to do so, it will not only dishonor Him but will give the enemies of our faith ammunitions to ridicule and accuse us of deception. Though it is hard for us to maintain such attitude, applying it will be worth doing especially when another life is transformed because of its reality. After all is said and done, it is all that matters that moment we follow Jesus. May our authentic Christian witness, marked with integrity, cause another person to follow Him wholeheartedly for the glory of God alone!

Let’s talk again!