Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ARE YOU A JESUS FAN OR FOLLOWER?

photo credit: http://michaelhyatt.com/
"It's easy to be a fan," says James Grogan, pastor of Eastlake church, Chula Vista.

"A fan's investment level is shalloweasy to tune in and out."

Then he added, "That's how many people treat Jesus today."

Ooops, was he talking to me?

Come to think of it, it is fun to be a Jesus fan.  Wonderful praise and worship at church every Sunday.  Messages and lessons that make you go "Wow!" or teary-eyed. Emotional roller coaster rides as we praise and raise our hands to hail King Jesus.

And yes, we hit "like" and "share" and get all worked up inside when we encounter biblical sound-bites and inspirational videos on FB.

There's really nothing wrong with all doing all these. But if we think they're the essence of Christianity, then we've got it all wrong. Christianity is not a dress you wear on Sunday;it's who you are 24/7.

"Jesus didn't invite people to become His fans but followers," adds Pastor Grogan.  

“Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people," Jesus said to Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew (Matthew 4:19)

image credit: http://www.pgysa.bc.ca/
Pastor Grogan: "Jesus is our Coach. He wants to develop us, take our talent and maximize it to fulfill His mission. As His apprentices, we must learn His ways, living for His purpose."

As Christ's disciples, we are not to just sit as spectators but allow ourselves to be at the center of His will, becoming more and more like Him as we get to know Him better as revealed by scriptures.

So go ahead, sing and shout and praise and worship. Have a great emotional experience. But don't stop there. Once you get out of church or your prayer closet, start loving like Jesus. Show compassion as Jesus did. Pray as Jesus did. Reach out to others as Jesus did. Share as Jesus did.

Change! That's what Jesus brings. Blind Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus and got his sight back; then he followed Jesus. The Samaritan woman encountered The Living Water and enthusiastically brought her community to Jesus. 

Jesus had fans for sure. Multitudes went all agog and followed Him wherever He went. Thousands got to enjoy His meals for free.

But these same people who cried "Hosanna!" when Jesus was entering Jerusalem likewise shouted "Crucify Him!"

As we go deeper into Holy Week, ask yourself: Am I just one with the multitude, raving for, then hating Jesus; or like Peter and Andrew, am I really His follower?  

Am I just going through the motions of religion; but when push comes to shove, do I deny or disobey Him?

Paul realized the result of Christ's missionour reconciliation with the Father; and that he needed to do as Christ:  "We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's good news but our own lives too"  (1 Thessalonians 2:8).


Are we His, in words and in deed?  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

REMEMBER HIS GOODNESS!

How's your RQ (remembering quotient) ?

If you're a gorgeous senior like me trying to salvage whatever's left of your youth by taking health supplements, you sometimes find yourself asking:

The brain's hippocampus--memory center.
(Photo credit: http://www.gregadunn.com)
"Did I take them or didn't I? Or was it yesterday that I did that?"

Then, ding, ding, ding; after a lot of digging and shoveling down memory pit, you remember, "Yes, I did take my vitamins, just after breakfast!"

Experts say our brain's hippocampus (part of the brain's limbic system which also triggers our emotional responses) processes bits of information from short to long-term memory.

"By the time people reach their 80s, they may have lost as much as 20 percent of the nerve connections in the hippocampus," says psychologist  Kendra Cherry (psychology.about.com).

OMG! Oh my goodness! What was that again?

That's why I always pray, Lord, renew my mind and my brain cells."

Nature is our health cabinet. For example, nutrition specialists say that turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory and memory booster, boosts brain power.  When God said "It's finished!" after He created the universe, he indeed provided everything we needed to live healthy and content.

But what should we remember more than our daily vitamins? Our times with loved ones. Our victories. Even our tribulations, for their lessonsbecause those were when God intervened, healed, provided, kept us safe. Even our daily teeny-weeny blessings. All "Thank you, Lord!"moments.   

Many books in the bible recall God's amazing miracles for the Israelites especially as they journeyed through the wilderness.

Crossing the Red Sea by Rosemarie Adcock  (Image credit: http://images.fineartamerica.com)
God it seems is in the habit of reminding us, "I've carried, protected and provided for you! Why do you still insist in doing things your way?"

Joshua 24:12-13"And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them."

Remembering His deeds refreshes us with a flood of God's love and grace to go on in spite of problems:

"You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy," the Father told Jesus as He was being baptized and the Spirit descended on Him. Even Jesus needed to be reminded of that prior to the cross which bridged us back to the Father's embrace.  

So must we remember, daily, so that "we would not abandon the Lord and serve other gods" (Joshua 24:16).  Remember, He is great and mighty, yet loving and gracious.

That's why Joshua exhorted, "… Choose today whom you will serve… But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD almighty" (Joshua 24:15).  So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped" (verse14).

Oh Lord, help us to not forget your great love.


Friday, March 20, 2015

HOME SWEAT HOME

Once in a while, I get to be a lipat-bahay (house transfer) wannabe-expert.

This senior happens to have been in the hustle-bustle of two lipatans while my son's family movedfirst from a rented flat to a house of their own in one U.S. state; then, when they transferred to the west coast recently (from an apartment to their new house). For good, I pray!

These creaky knees and gouty foot probably could not stand any more lipatan. Sharing with you some lipatan lessons before they get trashed off my memory bin:

·  Organize and label your packed boxes or bags to easily and promptly stash them in their intended rooms or closetsmakes it easier for the family to settle down in your new place .

·  If you're buying new furnishings, take time to Google-search, visit stores and compare prices to ensure you get best value for your hard earned money.

·  Husbands, let it go! Allow your wives' decorating instinct to bloom. A must to maintain the peace. (Unless you want them not speaking to you for days. Hmmm…)

·  Finally, no moving targets! Set a definite date to transfer so you don't dilly-dally on your packingbecause staying much longer in your rented place suggests additional cost, which you could save for oncoming monthly mortgages.

If your dream house is ready for occupancy, why delay? 

Realities of course could prevent you from moving as scheduled: family situations or priorities demanding immediate attention, very demanding work, or you're plain stressed and lack the energy to get into the groove to move.

Makes me wonder. The houses, even mansions, people build on a few hundred square meters of earth are temporary―may even be a source of sorrow for many because of sky-high amortizations, high maintenance and utilities cost, the need for pricey furnishings and d├ęcor, and possible natural aggravations like typhoons.

Owning a house which you can call a home is a blessing. Here's the irony: Many make a living to acquire possessions, yet find themselves hardly savoring their benefits.

That's why I'm relieved, even ecstatic, when I think of my eternal home. I don't even need to sweat to move inbecause Someone already paid the price so I can take residence there, for good.

Jesus says in John 14:2 (King James), "In my Father's house are many mansions..." He's prepared our eternal dwelling place for us, ready at a breath's notice.

No wonder He cautions (John 14:1), "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."

The key to the door? Acts 16:31―"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." That's a covenant promise. You and your loved ones could be part of His family. Heavenly mansions have been deeded to youif you'd confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

Jesus Himself will welcome you! (John 14:3).


No packing. No aggravation. Ready when you are, Jesus!  

Photo/image credits: 
http://si.wsj.net
http://www.commonfloor.com
https://img0.etsystatic.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

JOYFUL FRUIT

Natalie and her friend Olaf
Senior folks' daily lives may easily flat-line especially if all their kids have left home; worse, if they choose to live overseas.

Empty-nesters. That’s what my husband and I have been these recent years.

Jack's extended employment after reaching 60 and my being busy with university teaching, writing and holding seminars have of course helped quench our once-in-a-while longing for them, especially our apos (grandkids).

By His grace, we've overcome!

Our children of course have their own lives and we have always encouraged them to pray and pursue God's direction for them.

So here we are visiting our son's family in San Diego (U.S.A.) which Carlo and his wife Opal have chosen to call home.

My pretty granddaughters: Cousins Charlize (left) and Natalie at three months 
I was of course most excited to bond with their daughter Natalie again. Lola Yay was present two and a half years ago when she was born; so I was awe-struck seeing her all so smart and looking like a little ladyher hair in a bob and with full bangs.  

Natalie regales us with her endless singing, her favorite song being "Let It Go" from the animated movie Frozen―which she's watched tirelessly. Just the other day, she sang "Jesus Loves Me" for my friend Tisha on YM.

Natalie the gymnast
From being Frozen's Anna, she becomes Princess Sophia 1 the next minute; then builds a palace of blocks the next; afterwards shapes a dress with her play dough, or prepares Minnie the mouse for skating.

She even knows how to search for (parent-allowed) sites on YouTubeand stay really focused on the lesson at hand. Curious about almost everything, she'd constantly ask, "Let me check it out."

We're glad to be here this season of our lives. Strengthening ties with our loved ones is God-ordained.

After He rose from the dead and before He went back to His Father in heaven, Jesus said (Acts 1:8): 

"But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Joaqui at 10 years old
Our family is our "Jerusalem," so we must take every opportunity to minister to them while we have the strengthno matter how far they are.

We had initial misgivings about spending for this trip. As retirees, we should set aside enough for emergency needs. But we decided to go anyway, believing that as long as we are within God's will, we will be blessed.

Don't be caught flat-footed or comatose-like wishing. If you need to fly to be with a loved one, then fly. "Just do it!" says Nike.

In my book, "Grandparenting: Happiness and Hard Work," I recalled the times I visited my daughter's family in Australia: 

"Who could pin a peso value to bonding times with grandkids? Like giving the newborn (Charlize) her bath, reading to and playing cars and planes with Joaqui who was three years old then.

"I’ve always been Sydney-boundlooking forward to the next visit as if it were genuine missionary work (which I believe it is)… Pre-school or primary school age is when you can hug and cuddle them mosta pretty impressionable stage too.

"Come to think of it, lolas and lolos have managed to glue together Filipino families in spite of our diaspora. Where Pinoy families are, grandparents are too, keeping households intact, taking care of the babies, and preserving and passing on the best of Filipino values especially where popular culture counters their faith.    

“'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law' (Galatians 5:22-23).


"Grandparents patiently keeping their children’s households abroad must stash a lot of this fruit in their hearts."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

IN CONTROL

He (or they) must be pretty smartwhoever makes things seem easy-breezy and orderly at airports.

Fly with me to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California, the United States' second busiest airport and the fourth worldwide.

Its 2013 Wikipedia statistics: 66.7million passengers; 1.1 metric tons of cargo; and more than 353,000  aircrafts flying in and out. An average of 182,740 pax and 967 planes a day!

How on earth can anyone or any group of people manage all these? Must be due to a pretty well-oiled system, a competent team, or state-of-the-art technologyor a combination of all these.

To simple-minded me, that's one mind-boggling logistics nightmare; its complexity I can't even imagine.

But even more intriguing is that sleek sky-boat jetting people in and out of airports. Do you know that the biggest plane in the world weighs 285 metric tons640 metric tons including cargo and passengers?

How can something as heavy, thrust itself heavenward-ward, then cross 11,747 km (7,299 miles), say from Manila to the USat precisely the time and spot you've been promised you'd land. 

Unthinkable too, to my unscientific pedestrian mind, is this: that plane defied gravity!

I relished all these recently as we flew in to the Los Angeles airport, from where my husband and I would take another flight to San Diego for a much-anticipated visit of our son Carlo's family, my sisters and a handful of nieces and their extended families.

While the plane taxied down the runway, we viewed on its TV monitor the aircraft's underbellyits front wheel precisely rolling on the thin runway line. Talk of precision technology and precision-trained pilots!

Travellers make it safe to their destinations today because of those with the wisdom to invent, innovate, plan and execute up to the tiniest details, and closely coordinate with others even across the globe.

System and people failures (even terrorists), along with typhoons, can wreak havoc on even the best plans. That's why security checks have never been more rigorous.

But isn't it awesome that God has equipped man with wisdom, and limitless capabilities to create and put into motion seemingly undoable things, like making travel safe and comfortableeven in the sky?

Didn't God say, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule…" (Genesis 1:26)?

God surely meant that likeness to be in the form of wisdom, understanding, insight, inventiveness, creativity, the ability to dream, have a vision, plan, execute, etc.

Genesis 2:7Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life… man became a living being.

Yes, you and I are but dust; and we remember that when we see a loved one's remains in the cremation chamber. But it is not our formnor this flesh we try to pamper everydaywhich makes us like Him. His Spirit living in us makes us like Him.

No wonder we can manage life and its complexities like no other creature can. 

My next booking better be for space travel. 


Photo credits: 
www.loyolaphoenix.com
www.cathaypacific.com
www.scientificamerican.com