Wednesday, June 2, 2021

TODAY'S FORECAST: CLOUDY WITH TRUMPET BLAST

My grandkid Natalie's depiction of clouds.
I wonder which cloud we'll land in on the rapture.

Recall your toddler days' nifty doodles of cats and dogs, flowers and trees, sun and clouds? 

Our three year-old grandchild habitually punctuates her nature doodlings with the sun shining at the corner of each drawing. 

Kids have this uncanny ability to discern God's beautiful creation, don't they? 

Take clouds, for example. Wispy white or eerie gray, they speak of God's glory. 

Remember how God caused the cloud to hover above the Israelites—to lead and protect them from the sun by day—while they wandered in the wilderness? 

Exodus 13:21-22 "By day, the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." 

Acts 1:9, after our resurrected Lord told his disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes: "He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight." Jesus' disciples saw Jesus go up to heaven! In a cloud. 

We who are still alive await another cloud-filled phenomenon: 1Thesalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 

Why do believers all over the world look forward to this event? It's a promise given to His disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven. 

Acts 1:10-11 "And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven." 

Bah, fairy tale, many claim. Come on, was it all an illusion that Jesus was with them—in the flesh; and proved Himself to be the Son of God because of all His wondrous miracles and teachings which changed the lives of those who believed? 

How can changed hearts and lives be the stuff of fairy tales? 

Testimonies of changed lives abound. God's love is real. Life-altering. Pride-busting.  

Jesus is what He says He is. And whatever He promised, He will fulfill—as the ones He did for His earlier disciples. 

So look to the clouds, brethren! Our redemption is near! Set your toddler eyes on Jesus. 

Believe not only with your mind, but with your heart, that Jesus alone saves. He promised to take us to be with Him. It doesn't matter if we die physically and pass over to eternal life now; or if we're raptured. 

Imagine this when the rapture happens: We're sound asleep. Or on a plane. Or doing house chores. The trumpet sounds. In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves in the cloud. Everyone rejoices. The whole of heaven celebrates!  

Jesus Himself welcomes us in the cloud—not on the cloud. I imagine that to be the most gigantic, palatial cloud of all. Wouldn't that be just nifty? 

Jesus will do exactly as He promised. Promise!

Prayer: Jesus, you came to save us. I acknowledge you as my Savior and Lord. Forgive me for my sins. Help me to believe in your finished work at the cross. Help me to believe that you have indeed made a special place for me with you for all eternity. Holy Spirit, lead me, guide me. In Your name, I pray. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

CONTROLLING INTEREST

Artwork courtesy of OMF Literature
Fond of pressuring and seeing others bow to your point of view? 

Are you in the habit of dictating others on stuff they're quite capable of doing, or giving advice even if they're not asking for it? 

Do you catch yourself doing all the talking and cut others off if they dare share their own ideas? 

Making others do things your way. That's your greatest obsession. 

Decidedly control freakish! Exhibit A for a "me, myself and I"--center-of-the-world--diagnosis. 

Don't look around. We're all guilty. In varying degrees. 

The need to take control and be a know-it-all is as old as the story of Adam and Eve. Remember how they caved in to Satan's honey-coated coaxing? To be the boss and be on top of every situation are guaranteed ego-boosters! 

"Genesis 3: 6 "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food... was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate... and also gave some to her husband..." 

I recently watched two Netflix features. 

Image credit: Netflix
One was about 60s-80s US fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick who skyrocketed to fame because Jackie Kennedy wore one of his pillbox hats at her husband's presidential inauguration. The Halston brand then invaded other fashion lines and quickly became a household name--the envy of every aspiring designer. 

Alec Baldwin channels Delorean
Image credit: Netflix

John Delorean's was a documentary. A gifted engineer, he clawed his way to the top of General Motor's stiff-upper-lipped managent team. Almost became the number one boss. But his non-conforming and manipulative style pushed him to the resign-or-be-fired-out door. It was just the break he needed to put up his own disruptive car company. The Delorean brand soon became iconic. 

Both characters found themselves crashing towards the end of their careers. You have to watch the movie and documentary for the details. 

Their common denominator? Heads puffed up, Halston and Delorean felt invincible--unrestrainable--as they ascended Mount Pride--where insatiable lifestyles, rule-breaking, arrogance, and manipulation of others, were the norm. 

Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

CS Lewis pointedly puts it. "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud. The pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone."

Halston lost his name. He had no choice but to allow his investors to buy him out. He died of AIDS—after an intoxicating lifestyle of dope and sex and over-the-top sensual pleasures. 

Delorean dealt with a drug-smuggling scandal to, would you believe, finance his crumbling empire. Stupid choice, for a man so brilliant. Cost him his family too. 

They thought they could out-do God by lifting themselves up as gods. Adam-Eve story all over again. They got busted even before they could cry, "Help, I'm drowning in my vomit!" 

What was all the huffing and puffing really all about? For zilch? Disgrace?  

Are you a young person, gifted, at the top of your game? 

Realize this—you're not the controlling interest. God is. He's got so much invested in you, He'd want you to succeed. 

The earlier you give your heart to Him and allow Him to retool your I-me-myself-prone attitude, the happier you'll be.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to see who I really am in your sight. I have been created in your image; therefore I'm capable. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Yet, let me be subject to your plan, your rules.  I confess that genuine success is in you alone, not in money or possessions or temporary pleasures. Help me, Holy Spirit. in Jesus' name. Amen. 



Thursday, April 29, 2021

GENTLE WHISPER

Image credit: Toa Heftiba. Unsplash.com
Fond of talking in whispers? Well, don't! Whispering is not healthy. 

I once overused my vocal chords. The doctor ordered: 

No talking. No singing. And no whispering. For three straight months! These happened thrice in a space of three years. And with these, a lengthy voice therapy.

During those times, I had to take a vacation from teaching, my modest source of income after retirement from corporate life. Sadder still, I could not sing in church. 

It was sheer agony—to not speak or sing when I needed or wanted to. Attempting to talk in whispers made my condition worse. 

Do you know that the Bible cautions us against whispering? "Where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases," Proverbs 26:20. 

Not only does whispering abuse your vocal chords; it also causes tension with others. 

Why? Be in a room where two people speak in whispers. Next thing you know, others are egging them to just blurt it out, "What's all the secrecy about?" Start of a gossip marathon? 

Gossip is juicy, ain't it? 

Or someone's whispering triggers this in you, "Were they talking about me?" 

Slander. Gossip. Resentment. Suspicion. Malice. They're all part of the whispering coven. 

The same verse in Proverbs 26 says that "for lack of firewood, the fire goes out". A whisper is like a tiny ember which, when it touches the leaves and branches around it, bursts into a fiery flame. Bush fires and the deadly havoc they cause start this way. 

Forests regrow. Broken lives are harder to rebuild. So don't be sucked in by whispers. 

One type of whispering we must desire. 

1Kings 19:12 "Rather than such attention-grabbing spectacles, God came to Elijah softly and discreetly in a 'gentle whisper'." The prophet searched for God in the wind, the earthquake and the fire. The Lord wasn't in any of these. 

God's presence was clear—via a gentle whisper. His voice, though small and whispered, is much more powerful than any of those forces. It blows His Word clearly, intimately straight into our hearts. 

Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." 

The next time you read His Word or pray, may His gentle whisper awaken the truth, and His peace and grace, in your heart. And make us kinder and not be so rash to descend into careless whispers. 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my careless whispers—those times when I gossiped or slandered about others. Help me instead to train my ears to listen to you—Your Word; and to pray and be still, and not let me be overtaken by my own thoughts and fears. Teach me, Jesus. Amen. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

CAN LIGHT BE DARK?

Imagine yourself a flashlight. Better yet, a lighthouse. 

Especially on dark stormy nights, those on boats can find their way back to safety because of you. Lighthouses are built really high—so their bright turning lights, blinking at every 72-second interval—can be seen even by those from afar. 

Jesus warns us in Luke11:35, "Be careful lest the light in you be darkness." 

The world has become darker with the covid pandemic and the failure or helplessness of political leaders and their governments to fully address it. 

In for a surprise? Greater darkness is expected as we near the end of days. 

Jesus warned of those days in Matthew 24. Along with the love of many getting cold—those turning away from the faith and sound doctrine and more people following their own version of the truth—would come calamities, disasters, earthquakes and famines leading up to the great tribulation. 

Even as these situations threaten us, Jesus commands us to be light. Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." 

Do you know that light is a wave? Which means light could "expand and radiate in all directions, interfere with other waves, bend around corners, carry energy and momentum and interact with matter," wrote Rhett Allain Who wrote on the Wired Website.

Wow! Light therefore is a force, something you can't fiddle with or take lightly. That's why it could not be hidden. Light is just unstoppable! 

Speaking to His disciples in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." 

If Jesus says you are light, then you are light. Every believer is! 

You have it in you to to be a force for good, as you radiate love and compassion, show kindness and consideration for others, demonstrate patience and goodness. You're an agent of peace rather than of strife. 

You being light should make it easier for people to breathe and see each day more brightly—in spite of the aches and pains and even death that we face on a daily basis. 

Prayer: Lord, search my heart. Forgive me that I've not been much of a light. Especially when I am weak, let your Word lead me or direct me to more mature believers who could  help me sort out my issues and unbelief. I commit my life to you, Jesus. I confess you as my Savior and my Lord. Amen. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

WHICH ARE YOU--LAMB OR WOLF?

Lambs are cute, huggable, pettable. New-borns walk on wobbly legs. 

When Jesus appointed His disciples (Luke 10) to go before Him because "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few," He said: "... I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves." 

His disciples were new in their faith, yet Jesus was confident His newbies could face up to wolves. Did it mean He was placing them in harm's way? 

I did some research on wolves and here's what I found: 

Wolves are highly intelligent, friendly, adaptable and sociable animals. (Wolf Song Alaska website)

So, they're nice folks. They're your people next door, workmate, the person next to you on the bus or plane. 

Yet wolves can be aggressive when it comes to prey. I believe this was the basis of Jesus' warning. 

We're out here in the world with nice and smart and civilized people. But let's face it, not everyone believes in Jesus. 

They have a totally opposite worldview.  To them, truth is what you make it. Many of them don't even acknowledge the existence of God. They celebrate abortion as women's right. They treat gender as self-assigned, not birth-assigned, so they could therefore choose which one suits them. 

"Please spare me that Jesus thing," they say. "I'm fine as it is. I don't need to be saved!" And they invite you to just drink and be merry with them. 

That's when wolves see you and me as prey; because to them, our message about Jesus is pure hysteria--borne out of weakness and superstition--and must be crushed.  

I believe Jesus is also warning us about this: Wolves are ok people, yes? So lambs can feel at ease with them. Wrong! They maybe the type you want to hang around with, but watch out, one day, you may find yourself agreeing with their self-centered narratives. 

Corrupt company corrupts. 

Remember the saying, "Wolves in sheep's clothing?" For example, how many well-meaning doctors and women's rights' advocates have led innocent girls to believe that It's ok to get rid of unwanted pregnancies? 

Jesus says, when we get out there, be a lamb--meek, pure. Be armed with His love, because love was the reason Jesus became man and paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross in exchange for our souls. 

But wolves can miraculously become sheep. Possible only if every believer  obeys the Good Shepherd. We can be among wolves and be empowered to share the gospel—to win them over to Christ. 

Lambs and sheep know their master's voice. 

Our good Shepherd (Psalm 23) calls and leads us daily to clear waters and green pastures. In Him alone are peace, joy and confidence found.

As His lamb, I know that I'm able only because my Shepherd hems me in. Courage eludes me at times. But if He tells me to go, I will go. I will teach.  I will testify. I will sing of His goodness and greatness.

The world gets darker by the day. Jesus sends us as light to whatever corner or enclave He wants us to reach.

Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

As believers, we are wholly dependent on the one who sends us out. You and I have been deployed to the war zone. Ravenous wolves abound. But the harvest is plenty.  

It's not about winning a war. Jesus wins the war for sure. He has everything under control. But it's all about winning souls. 

The world needs to know: God loves them! That's why Jesus came. 

With Jesus on our side, whom shall we fear? Romans 8:31 "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Prayer: O Lord, let me be a lamb--totally dependent on you, humble, and willing to be led by you. Please take away my fear, especially my fear of people. Holy Spirit, lead me. Let others see Jesus in me. May they commit their lives to Christ as their Lord and Savior. Amen. 


Sunday, April 11, 2021

GENE-WHAT?

Image credit: sciencenews.com
Birth certificate. Never face the world without it. 

Apply for anything—job, driver's license, passport—you'd be asked, "Your BC please." 

Of course. You've got to show proof that you're someone's kid. That another human gave birth to you. Your authenticity depends on it. 

The Jews are big on genealogy. They record—just as we do today—who fathered who from generation to generation. That's their version of the municipal or city records affirming your identity as someone's child. 

The genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38) backtracks several generations. He was born to His human family through Mary, under the care of Joseph, a direct descendant of David—as prophesied in Scripture. 

Jumping generations earlier: Obed, son of Boaz by Ruth; further back, Judah, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham; much earlier, Shem, one of Noah's sons. 

Further... Adam! His beginning? God! He formed Adam from dust then breathed His breath unto him. 

Whatever comes from man is man. One umbilical cord to the next. The whole of nature is like that—each kind producing its own kind. Mommy mango yields baby mango. Elephants their tiny elephants. 

So where does the mutation or evolution factor figure? Pray tell, how does a beautiful and smart being like you mutate from a virus-like thinggy or the monkey? As far as we know, apes and single-celled organisms still abound. 

If we believe that everything in nature produces its own kind, why would some so-called scientists hard-sell the concept that we are merely animals? Duh! 

Is it to push a sinister agenda that we, being just like dogs, are expected to behave as such and act as if we're not accountable—and therefore free to follow our own lustful ways? 

I too used to think that the story of Adam and Eve was some kind of metaphor about the origin of man. But genealogies leave no room for doubt. Tracing your family line is a straight-arrow proof of who sired who. 

Why is it so hard to believe that this powerful and mighty God could create an awesome creature such as you and me? He—who by His infinite wisdom placed the stars in their place—is the same mighty Creator who fashioned us in our mother's womb. 

Which would you rather believe? Randomly-formed you? That's evolution. Or intelligenty-created you? 

"Fearfully and wonderfully made," per Psalms 139:14. You belong to humankind, not ape-kind. 

Take out your birth certificate! It backtracks you to God—Creator of everything. 


BAGGAGE

Let your boat be anchored in Jesus. 
Travel light.  

A good reminder, especially if you're a senior. 

Today's humunguous airports are no match to achy-breaky joints. So no more check-in luggage if I can help it. 

I believe that's equally true in the spirit. Emotional baggage wears you down. 

But what does one do when anger, fear, worry sap your energy, making your heart and your faith flicker? You don't need to own or carry them yourself. 

Do you think God can't handle it? Our great and mighty God? Creator of the universe? 

You can't hide it from Him anyway. But be humble enough to say, "Lord take it. I can't deal with it myself." 

So blurt it all out! David was in the habit of carrying his burdens to God. 

Psalm 3:1-2 "Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, 'God will not deliver him.'" 

Psalm 6:3 "My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” 

Better do 1Peter5:7: "Cast  all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you." 

And once you've tossed the baggage to Him, don't reload yourself with it by going around complaining about it like a sad refrain. That magnifies the problem all over again—the best way to eclipse the power of God in your situation. Remember the Israelites perennially complaining of their woes in the desert? 

It is finished, says Jesus. Let it go and let Jesus in. He too will instruct you on how to deal with it. 

Jesus better be your anchor. Things may not go as you've planned. Storms may batter from time to time. But your boat will remain secure, though it be tossed too and fro. 

First things first—have you committed your life to Him? Confess Jesus as your Savior now. Then He becomes your eternal burden-bearer.