Hey Kids, It Ain’t Clausmas, It’s Christmas!

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imageChristmas trimmings are here, there and everywhere for it’s just a few more days and it’s Christmas. Well of course, Christmas is not complete without  Santa. Santa Claus has been very famous during Christmas as long as anyone can remember.

As a child, I remember scribbling a note to Santa and putting it on Christmas tree expecting a gift the next morning. Do you remember doing that too? And Oh! “Santa” would never disappoint me ’cause every time I would see my gift all wrapped up the morning after.

Yesterday, today and all the years to come, kids adore and will always adore Santa. It’s a joy to see them full of excitement in anticipation of receiving gifts from ol’ Santa. And yet, is it really a good practice?

Well, here’s what I thought: I strongly believe that Santa Claus has gone too far and as Christians we need to correct this. Why?

First of all, Christmas must ALWAYS be a birthday celebration – of the birth of Jesus Christ. But if you notice, the birthday celebrant is completely forgotten! Kids know Santa better than they know Jesus. Why? Because parents teach their children in this manner.

“Hey kids, Jesus was born some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. . .etc. By the way, Santa is coming today. He is going to give you a gift. He has been watching if you were a good child or not the whole year.” Tell us, which person will your children  be interested in,  a baby born ages ago or some dazzling merry man in red who is here today giving gifts?

Our proper response to this dilemma would be to present to our children who Jesus is. Tell them that Jesus is here today! So, make  this Christmas different, make it  more special than your past Christmases. . .This time, on Christmas eve, why not have a small family prayer meeting? Let the children greet Jesus a Happy Birthday. And for us filipinos, maybe we can do this after noche buena (a filipino tradition where families and friends gather for a sumptuous feast on Christmas eve). And instead of writing notes to Santa, why not let them write birthday cards to Jesus? Sing to Jesus on Christmas eve, Make Him the center of His Birthday – make Him the center of your family.

Second, I remember a friend who told me what his son said right after she and her husband told him  that Santa was not real. Her son told them that he doesn’t believe in God anymore. Of course my friend and her husband got the shock of their lives when they heard this. Then the son continued, “If you could lie to me for several years about someone watching over me to see if I’d been good or bad, why shouldn’t you lie to me about God? So now, if I don’t see something, I won’t believe it.”

So parents, you need to understand that if children catch you lying, they will lie too. And what’s more, they will not believe you anymore, especially if they cannot see  with their own two eyes what you are imparting to them.

A word of caution ‘though. It may not be possible to eradicate all traces of Santa. Everywhere your kids go, they’ll see his smiling red face with the bushy white beard, sometimes even with elves clothed in red and green and huge reindeer like Rudolf, and Prancer and Dancer. . .you know what I mean.

imageFor sure, they will ask you who this character is. Don’t panic. It’s quite alright to explain who Santa is. You could even tell the story of good old St. Nicholas (Our Saint for the Season, who is always mistaken to be Santa Claus)

Just be sure to end by very clearly saying Santa’s make believe. And that even without him, Christmas would exist. For if Christmas couldn’t exist without jolly old Santa Claus, then this Season’s name would have been Clausmas.  Oh! Well Virginia, there’s no Santa Claus but  there’s baby JESUS born in a manger. He is REAL and He’s always  there with us even long after  Christmas is over. In short, JESUS is the REASON for this SEASON. Thus, this Season ain’t called Clausmas but CHRISTMAS, got that kids? 

So, let’s all say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS!!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!

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Watch Your Thoughts

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imageJeepneys are the most popular means of transportation in the Philippines, they are twin-benched jitney bus that are known for their crowded seating. One day, while a police officer was aboard a jeepney  he foiled the attempts of four men to rob the jeepney passengers. He did it out of gut feel, they say. But to the police officer who did the heroic act, it was out of pure wit.

In an interview, he said that he already knew beforehand that these men were robbers. For one, they boarded the jeepney and they already took the most strategic seats. As he watched them carefully, he noticed that their eyes were scanning all the “merchandise”, that their hands were all fidgety and that cold sweats was trickling down their foreheads. In a sense, he read their minds by the way they looked.

If wise human beings can read minds, it’s funny how some think that they can hide their thoughts from God!

Nope. God knows our evil, greedy, proud, envious, lustful thoughts – even before we think of them!

Let’s keep our minds to be pure always. More than the daily sacrifices that we offer up to the Lord, let us seek above all else to abstain from any thought that is not pleasing before the Lord.

Ultimately, let us take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.

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WANTED: LIFE SAVERS

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imageDAVID Nankervis says there’s no better feeling than giving someone a second chance at life. As a volunteer surf life saver with Torquay Life Saving Club, he has brought six people back from the brink through his first aid skills. David is proud to be a life saver and part of the vast life saving network which  continues to provide valuable water safety services to communities throughout Australia.

Do you want to be a life saver too? Have you noticed that there are also many who are drowning on dry land? With more and more people finding themselves drowning or near drowning in the turbulent seas of life, what the world needs now are more and more life savers – individuals who can point them to the hope found in Jesus. If you can give someone a second chance at life like David Nankervis, or if you could change someone’s life forever, would you?

Yes! You  can also be a life saver, but not as a rescuer of people drowning in  waters  but a life saver of people drowning in the ocean of life’s problems.

Everyday, we find individuals struggling with personal and social issues – unemployment, family or marital conflicts, homelessness, teenage pregnancies, financial difficulties – all kinds. Name it, someone’s suffering from it.

Just look around you, the people you see represent a tiny tip of a massive iceberg of men, women, boys, and girls, for whom your  life saving stint maybe essential. He or she may be your sick neighbor, a friend who just lost her job, a relative whose business just failed or a hungry stranger. And then there are those who are grieving over the recent lose of a spouse, a child, parent, or a friend… Sometimes, the sadness of those who mourn casts a spell of loneliness too powerful for spoken words or shallow songs to break. In all of those people  mentioned, what is missing? To paraphrase the statement of Oscar Wilde:

“Something is dead in each of them, And what is dead is hope.”

In a world that says no, we need people who says a constant yes – an encourager, a comforter – a life saver. The world is never short of people to encourage or to comfort. For all you know, the person you might be encouraging now is already drowning in the waters of depression and may have already been entertaining thoughts of ending his or her life. In fact, it has been reported by Psych Central News that depression is now taking a serious toll around the world and it has been found that globally, incidence of suicide is escalating.

Hence, we need more life savers – we need more encouragers! We need more comforters! We all know that the world can never have too many encouragers! To encourage is to inspire someone with hope, courage or confidence; telling someone, “You can do it! Hold on to God. Keep on praying. He will answer. Everything will be fine. . . ”

Encouragement to your heart is what oxygen is to your lungs. Many would criticize you – a thousand who tell you when you “blew it”, who manage to flash that “I told you so” look when things aren’t going well. Yet one person with a word of encouragement can do more to lift you up than the whole lot put together. A word of encouragement can make the difference between success and failure, life and death.

Anyone can be an encourager! You don’t need money, professional degree or special talents. All you need is a caring and understanding heart. You see, God calls each of us to be an encourager. 1Thess. 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.”

So, C’mon Let’s Build ‘Em Up in  a World that Tears ‘Em Down

Develop the art of encouragement by practicing the following:

1. Focus on a positive aspect of a person, and say it. Your comments should focus   upon something positive, leave out negative observations. Mixed messages like, “your sales were pretty good last month, but if you had taken my advice, they would have been better,” don’t qualify as encouragement.

2. Be sincere in what you say. Encouragement is not flattery; it is a decision to say something good that is true. A phone call, a note, a few words in passing – these do a lot to boost others in a world that puts people down.

3. Cultivate encouragement as a habit. One of the reasons, we give so little of encouragement is that our old nature tends to make us look for the flaws and failures of others. In building each other up, we build up ourselves as well.

Just think about this – encouragement is not a difficult task. It can come in the form of a gentle hug, a positive note, a kind word at just the right moment, a pat on the back, a sincere smile, a simple phone call, a listening ear. . . and the list can go on and on. . .

We must admit, much of life seems to be working against us, and that’s not pessimism – it’s a realistic observation. For every person who pats us on the back, there are nine others who clobber us. Therefore, we have to cultivate the attitude of encouragement.

The late Dr. Maya Angelu once said, “Be a rainbow in someone’s clouds” – a metaphor of the simple act of giving others hope and encouragement.

Her own life tells a story of traumas, difficulties and unsettling childhood. She was open about her lack of education. She felt that being poor, black and uneducated meant there was no hope that she would ever have the life she longed for.

Then came the rainbow in her cloud, her paternal grandmother, who told young Maya that one day she would be a teacher to millions and would do so in many languages. Her grandmother’s love and support and steadfast belief in her helped Maya persevere and overcome her feelings of inferiority.

Dr. Angelu used the gift from her grandmother to become one of the most respected and beloved writers, poets and performers. She has given hope and encouragement to millions. Her role as a teacher has taken on many forms, perhaps even beyond what her grandmother imagined.

Dr. Angelu had always been proud to say that her grandmother was not only her mentor but also her encourager – her rainbow in her clouds.

Likewise, as Christians, let us not forget that we have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Let us point to one another the hope that is found in Jesus. We know that without hope, we have nothing in life. Christian hope is what gets us through. And thanks to Jesus Christ, we have LOTS to hope for because He promised us glory. It is comforting to know that no matter what troubles we are currently experiencing in our life, we will always have salvation waiting for us.

Let us remind each other that God the Father is always watching out for us. Christian hope is based on this simple fact – never in our life will we be alone. Jesus Christ walks beside us through our Christian path and this is the reason that we should feel hope.

By giving encouragement and hope through feeding someone’s mind and soul, you never know how many lives you might ultimately touch and save. Talk about being a rainbow in someone’s cloud! An encourager!  A comforter! A life saver! This is the challenge for every Christian.

I encourage you to find someone to encourage today and tomorrow and the next day. Like Dr. Angelu’s grandmother, be the someone that a child or a friend remembers as one of their great encouragers.

Someone once said, “The greatest thing that a man can do for his Heavenly Father. . . is to be kind to some of the Father’s other children!” I cannot think of anyone kinder than those who encourage and give hope. . .Let our hearts be like our Lord Jesus Christ –  the Lord of life savers who walks on water. Sure, we can make a difference – one heart at a time. And hey! Why not now?

 

 

 

The Ultimate Timekeeper

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“God is precisely on time. His timing, however, is different from ours. He is bound neither by time nor space,” that’s what I said to a friend when she told me about the struggles that she and her family are currently facing.

Well, I’m sure most of us will agree that it is impossible to fully understand God’s timing in our lives. 

For when we ask to be lifted above our cares,  He would send us sorrows. . . For when we ask for light to see the path ahead, clouds appear instead. . . Then  when we ask for peace and quiet that we may meditate, everything around us swirls in confusion. . .

But as D. Martin Llloyd-Jones wrote: “He may sometimes do the opposite of what we anticipate. . . Yet it is fundamental principle in the life and walk of faith that we must always be prepared for the unexpected when we are dealing with God.”

Yes, indeed! It is difficult to understand God’s timing but we must remember, God looks at life from a different perspective. He’s the ultimate timekeeper, and when we think He is late, He’s apt to show up, and we learn His time is in His hands.

I repeat. . . His time is in His hands. . .

As you know, when it looked like Jesus was late in arriving. He showed up and raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. God is neither early nor late, He is exactly on time.

When You Are Frustrated

imageSometimes, we get frustrated and impatient waiting for God’s time. But have you ever thought that spiritual giants never get frustrated?.” Take Daniel for instance, don’t you think he was frustrated when he ended up in the lion’s den? The devil must have said, “See, buddy, what serving God gets you into?”

One of the natural responses to frustration is flight – you can quit. You just can walk right out. Essentially, that’s what Jonah did when God told him to go to Nineveh with His message. Jonah did not want to go. His frustrations turned to anger. He couldn’t fight God so he ran away.

So, what’s this all about???

imageThen, you may ask, “Lord, what is this all about???”

When you get frustrated, remind yourself that God is telling you something through the events of life that you’re presently facing.

For a moment, stop. . . and be quiet. . . and listen to God’s voice. Sometimes, God’s voice is soft like a whisper. . .  Occasionally though, He may raise the volume to get your attention. . .God speaks clearly through His Word, but He gets your attention through the events of your life.

Be still – so you can hear God’s voice. Times of quietness are part of His natural laws. God had not promised  to spare us from life’s burdens. Sometimes, God allows miseries because He knows these things will drive us to Himself and teach us lessons through our own life’s experiences.

When we are weak, God does not say be strong but be still“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” – Isaiah 30:15

Wait for God’s Time

imageMeanwhile, patiently wait for God’s time. . .

When we are easily convinced that doing anything is better than doing nothing, waiting seems to be contrary to progress.

Waiting, however is not doing nothing. It is a kind of action that prepares us for the right choice in the future. It means finding God’s timing and avoiding tragic mistakes.

“There is an appointed time for everything,” wrote Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. Waiting is never easy, but as Martin Luther wrote, “He who waits on God, wastes no time.”

Our Creator designed time and set things in motion. By having faith in God as our ultimate timekeeper, we can live by courage instead of fear. We can experience His great  plans  and perfect timing as we choose to trust Him time and again.

When God’s people are overthrown by the forces of Babylon, many thought that God had forsaken them. Yet God said, “I know the plans I have for you. . .plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” – Jeremiah 29:11.

God has a plan for you too. Waiting for God is not a wasted time. Rather, it will bring your restless heart in conformity with the Divine and prepares you for what He has ahead.

“All the times of our life are in God’s hands. In His own perfect time, He will cause things to happen for us, that will bring us joy and happiness. Trust God, for He makes all things beautiful. . . in His time.” – Anon

When I told my friend that her prayers will be answered in His time, here is her reply – “I believe so too! God will answer  in His most perfect time.” What a strong faith she has. No wonder, I never see her without a smile on her face.

Will you trust like her?

 

BE NOT FOOLS!

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imageWell known is the fable of the dog who had a large chunk of meat in his mouth. But as he bent over the water at the lake, the chunk of meat in the reflection seemed much larger than the one in his mouth. What he did was to let  go of his meat to grab the bigger piece, only to discover the folly of his greed.

                  Two spiritual points from this story:

                 FIRST, all material beauty is really a reflection of Jesus. ALL. Not a shred of color, pleasure, joy, or excitement, comes from the world. The problem? Once we lose Jesus, the real source of that beauty, all material wealth becomes terribly ugly. It will fade away and draw us in its dark waters.

           SECOND, Jesus is the only thing that’s for real. That will last forever. Everything else are just shadows of the night.

                 Friend, listen to this,

                 If you have Jesus now, hold on to Him.

                 Cling to Him as steel grips steel.

                 Let other images pass by…..

“Take care to guard against all greed…” - Luke 12:15

The Anchor Of Faith

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imageDo you know that a ship has all the controls and automation but it is quite helpless when it comes to the simple concept of braking?  As you know, when you park a car at night or  a hilly region, you simply apply the hand brakes so that the car doesn’t move on its own. Unfortunately, there are no brakes on the ship for the simple reason that the ship is floating on water. So, when the ship is stopped and its engines are not running, there needs to be an anchor to ensure that the ship does not drift freely in the sea. If the anchor is placed properly on the bottom of the sea, it can hold a giant ship fast, even in rough seas.

Just as ships need anchors to keep them from drifting away on the open seas, people need anchors when the wind of life blows. Unless we have anchors that hold us, the fragile ship of our lives may crash against the rocks.

Anchors are what we need when we encounter storms in our lives, literally and figuratively. And speaking of storms, it’s been a year since  Supertyphoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever put on record, hit our country where many perished when the City of Tacloban and Eastern Visayas in the Philippines bore the brunt of its devastating power and was practically destroyed and flattened. Many survivors are still suffering to this day and perhaps it will take a long period of time before they could finally recover.

Nov. 8 marks one year since the killer typhoon devastated Central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty. My heart bleeds everytime I see on TV the outpouring of grief of tens of thousands as they  marched to the (mass) grave sites under the hot sun to offer flowers, light candles and say prayers. My heart bleeds even more when I hear  stories of the survivors, how they terribly miss their loved ones who perished that fateful day when the storm struck.

A mother said she lost her 3 children during the storm including her youngest who would have celebrated his 2nd birthday on Nov. 9. While another says she is now hopeless that the remains of his missing brother could still be found. She said his name was not on the list of those buried in the mass grave, so she just wrote his name. Today, and perhaps in the many more days to come  most of the survivors would still be in pain physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually  and many would still be suffering as they continue their fight to survive and stand up once again after a hard blow.

“Many survivors have succumbed to depression,” the news reported. Their feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may have been aggravated by the “painful slow rebuilding effort” as most survivors complain. With millions poorer and many dangerously exposed to the next big storm as they still live in shanty homes along coastal areas, one may be tempted to  ask,  “Lord, will they ever recover? If so, when???”  If  the minds of some people (just watching their poor situation on TV)   have now been tainted by pessimism and doubt  asking God if there is an end to the survivors’ sufferings, how much more unanswered questions linger in the minds of the poor victims themselves?

With sincere empathy and compassion I say, “situations change, and the sands of time shift” but the Bible says, “those who put their trust in God are immovable like Mount Zion.” – Psalm 125:1

All of us…and I mean all of us, experience  life’s storms from time to time. No one is excused from pains and sufferings for they are integral part of human existence. We can only differ in the intensity and the gravity of the crisis that each of us encounter.

When the storms of life rage, we need four anchors: faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in your family, and faith in your friends. But there are times when your friends fail you, when your family lets you down, when you can hardly believe in yourself. Only the anchor of faith in God endures when everything else fail.

Just as  the ship’s anchor  needs strong chains or ropes for link and support, our Anchor of Faith also needs reinforcement to hold our life’s ship during  turbulent journey.

Our faith therefore, must be more than the faith in generic dictionary variety. Our faith to be meaningful and to be effective to hold us fast must be centered in Jesus Christ, His life and His teachings. In addition, faith to be real must be coupled with belief and trust.

BELIEF + TRUST = REAL FAITH

Real faith consists of two elements: belief which appeals to the mind, and trust which is experiential and demands a response to what you believe. We believe  God can do the things we are hoping for, but we don’t think He will. Belief, we have; but we’re short on trust, and without trust our faith is shallow and incomplete.

In addition to the two elements, our Anchor of Faith to be complete should be firmly grounded on the following:

  • Faith in God’s presence:

Storms can never hide us from God. We may not see Him, but He sees us. We may think God is a million miles away, but HAVE FAITH, He is with us and watching us.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5

God is right there with us. We never go through anything by ourselves. No matter what situation you are going through right now, God is with you. He is the ONLY anchor that you can fully trust.

In Acts 27:24, Paul quotes God’s Angel (who visited him in the night): “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” God told Paul, “I have a plan for your life.

  • Faith in God’s purpose:

Realize that God has a specific purpose for your life. Storms are just temporary setbacks toward fulfilling that purpose. Absolutely, nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey Him.

If you choose to reject His plan. He will allow you to do that, but the Scriptures teach that no outside person can change God’s plan for your life. God leaves that up to you. No matter what happens on the outside, external forces cannot alter God’s purpose for your life as long as you say, “God, I want to do your will.”

God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now.

The point is this: It is dangerous to focus on your problems more than your purpose for living.

 

  • Faith in God’s promise:

Once you lose your goal, you will lose sight of the very meaning for which you exist; and you will become purposeless.

In Acts 27:25, Paul says, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.”

God keeps His promises without fail.  Storms cannot hide our faces from God, because God is always with us. Storms cannot change the purpose of God, because it is ultimate. Storms cannot not destroy the child of God, because God’s promise is certain. So, HAVE FAITH!

Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming.

God says this to you: “You may lose cargo; you may lose the tackle of the ship; you may lose the ship; you may even get into deep waters and drown- but you are going to make it” because of the promise of God.

What we should do while waiting for the crisis to end? Anchor yourself of the truths of God and pray. Let His truth stabilize your life and give you the confidence you need in every life’s turbulence you face. Storms cannot hide God from you or you from God. God has a purpose for your life. There is a reason for it and you are going to make it safely to land.

Raging storms are one thing; subtle currents that catch you unaware are another. With the storm you’ve got to fight to stay alive. But with subtle currents, you don’t know what’s happening. Subtle currents can pull your boat without you knowing it until you realize you are already a long way from where you are supposed to be.

Life’s like that, every now and then we encounter life’s storms and real monster storms like Haiyan  and subtle currents too when we are uncertain of what’s going to happen to us today, the next day or in days to come. In either case, let us make sure that we are firmly anchored to our faith in God for it is the ultimate anchor that we need and the only anchor that could save us from the strongest storms and the roughest seas.

As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself, a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity… For remember, it is not the thickness of this cable of faith, it is the strength of the anchor which imparts strength to the cable and so shall hold your ship in the midst of the most fearful storm.”

Blessed Are The Truly Rich!

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imageHave you ever had that “Oh! Now I get it” moment? that wonderful mind-opening instance when something happens that zooms you up to the sky and gives you a God’s-eye view of your life and you realize how incredibly well-off you are? And for that moment, anyway, you are richer than Bill Gates?

For some, it happens at the birth of a child (no big surprise there). For others, it’s when they got hired for a job for the first time. Still some would say, it’s when they got their first apartment after sleeping on their parents’ couch for several years.

For me, it was the day when I made an inventory of all the things that I have that I realized I am SUPER RICH. I’m proud  to say, that was when I felt richer than Oprah..I felt super rich for I realized I am blessed with so many people in my life who love me and who continually support me in all the things that I love doing. I felt so blessed with a loving and supportive husband and children. I have a very caring and loving Mom who puts the benefit of her children  before her own. My  Mom  has greatly influenced me with her deep faith in God as she remains a devout Christian by example. With my wonderful, loving and thoughtful parents, siblings, relatives and friends. What more could I ask for?

Wealth need not require cash or material possessions. True wealth are people and moments that cannot be paralleled with any thing or any possessions  even with the highest price tags.

Perhaps, this is the time for you to  sit back and relax….. Pause for a  moment and try to think of those that you have…… or what you (luckily) don’t have….. or what you have gone through….. and you will be surprised to find some hidden wealth you never have thought existed in your life…. That  “awareness of being blessed” is what   makes us  truly rich after all.

In an article written by Lenore Skenazy entitled “How To Feel Rich” in the Reader’s Digest October 2011 issue, the writer collated the accounts of “24 people who discovered surprising riches in memorable “aha” moments.” I find their stories worth sharing as I am sure a lot of people out there (maybe you included) who may have not realized how wealthy they really are.

I believe, sharing these stories will be a match that will ignite many  readers (of this article) to find their own hidden treasures. And I’m hoping that  maybe, just maybe, after reading this article, they can  truly appreciate those  they had usually taken for granted.

Like me, you can find wealth in family and friends. Take the case of High School teachers Bonnie Call and Gary Silver who were among the 24 people in that article.  As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” This has proven true once more when their suburban home was burned to “charred skeleton”. They were staring at the remnants of their home when a driver stopped by and handed them a $50 bill. “My house once burned down too,” said the stranger and off he drove.

“We felt inexplicably buoyant. Giddy. Rich”, the couple said. They were amazed and said they couldn’t believe that someone could be so thoughtful. They lost pretty much everything, but in that instant found they really had a network of friends they knew – and didn’t know – ready to pitch in.

That sense of community can make you feel richer than anything because you feel you’re not facing life’s turbulence alone.

Another amazing story in that article was about a woman  who lived way out in the country. and when a blizzard knocked out their electricity for 5 days, she couldn’t even get out even when she wanted to.  So, she decided to cook in her wooden stove and claimed she was so grateful for it. She said it was the first time there was complete silence – no hum of electronics and she revealed how she enjoyed having a cup of hot tea with her dog snoozing by her feet. 

She said the day she felt superwealthy was not the day she won the lottery or got a job but was the day she lost her electrical power and had a revelation: She was one with the world and no longer required things like iPods, iPads or any gadgets to thrive.

And you wouldn’t believe what another woman in the name of Silvana Clark said when she lost everything. She said, she felt richest when she did lose everything – voluntarily.

She and her husband got rid of their house and moved into a 240-square-foot RV. Their chosen vocation: to travel around their country delivering donated shoes to shelters.

They said they cooked in a tiny RV kitchen and washed dishes in small sink. And they drove to battered-women’s shelters, group homes for abused children and homeless missions to deliver the new shoes. Seeing people in such desperate situations made  Clark realized how well-off she was.

These are just some of the stories in that article. I find these people have such one big thing in common – they have discovered that their riches are not found in the things that their eyes can see but  in the joy in their hearts that people and circumstances bring. And what is more amazing is how and where they found their “riches.”

While many people are so preoccupied with the desire to become rich, to acquire material wealth, and together with it, a sense of status and pride… here are individuals who found their true wealth in the most unexpected places and circumstances. And if there is one common denominator that I find in all of these 24 people – it’s contentment. Theirs was a a picture of a contented life, not a hint in their stories could I find that they busy themselves in search of material wealth. On the contrary, their stories tell that they are in search for true wealth, and BLESSED ARE THEY –  for they have found them.

The Bible says, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world, but we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 RSV

Twice in that passage, the apostle says that contentment is true wealth – not possessions, not new cars or new homes, not a comfortable environment – but contentment; there is where true wealth lies.

It is clear in this passage that a whole and balanced life, that is what godliness (the Greek word uesebia) means – godliness, balance, wholeness. That wholeness produces a contented heart.

Ah yes! Contentment – a word we rarely hear this days. That is why it gives me so much joy everytime I hear  wonderful stories like those shared by Lenore Skenazy because they are very rare in today’s world where many people  join the rat-race to become wealthy.

Moreover, it is sad to say that one of the great problems of this age, with its crass materialism is that we are rootless, restless people. Many of us have a notion that being rich materially is truly satisfying. But the satisfaction we hope to find in material things are elusive. The pursuit of riches is like a man digging a hole; the more he digs, the bigger the hole, and the greater the emptiness in his life.

There is also a twisted and distorted view of Christianity frequently heard today – especially on religious television – that says, “when you become a Christian, God goes to work for you to become wealthy, and if you are not wealthy as a Christian there is something wrong with your faith.”

The truth is, wholeness, balanced realism, richness of soul and spirit – godliness – is in itself gain. That is the true wealth; it brings contented hearts; which is what we should be looking for.

Godliness, in other words is contentment. True godliness is understanding that when we have God, and food, and clothing, that is all you need to be enriched and fulfilled, satisfied and content. If we have more than food and clothing, then they are just bonuses and we should be altogether grateful.

The Apostle Paul goes on to prove the truth of these words by using birth and death as examples. He says we came into the world with nothing, and we can take nothing out of it. What do you have when you are born? Nothing. You came into the world naked. You do not have anything, even your diaper has to be provided. What do you have when you leave this world? Nothing. You will leave it all behind.

I remember someone said his uncle died a millionaire. I said, “No, he didn’t”. “You don’t know my uncle,” he said. “Who’s got the millions now?,” I said “Oh”, he said “I see what you mean.”  One thing is certain: Nobody dies a millionaire or a billionaire. We all die paupers; we leave it all behind.

And so to this I say, “Blessed are the truly rich – those who have found true wealth – contentment and godliness for they have found their way not to Beverly Hills where the rich and the famous live but to the pearly gates and golden streets and glittering mansions – God’s kingdom where ONLY the truly rich DWELL.”

Have you discovered how rich you are? Tell us  the day you felt the richest. I am sure, there are more millionaires and billionaires amongst us than in Forbes.

LIKE and SHARE this article if you think you are one of us – TRULY RICH!

 

Be A Blessing Magnet, Say Thank You!

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image“TENK U VERRY MAACH” were the words of a little boy  as his eyes twinkled with excitement when a local TV station went to their  school to distribute school supplies. My husband and I find  this very cute that every time this scene is flashed during morning news we couldn’t help but laugh… and throughout the day we would mimic him as we put very strong emphasis on the “MAAACH”  and would laugh at ourselves.

Deep inside though, we are in awe and our hearts are full of admiration for this cute little boy… for at a very young age, he knows how to express his gratitude. I feel joy in my heart whenever I see him onscreen but sad at the same time to find people even much older  who find it difficult to utter these simple words, “Thank you”.

Well, have you discovered that gratitude  – learning to express appreciation by saying “Thank you,” is a habit that must be learned? Unfortunately, there’s something about our nature that makes gratitude difficult to express.

Often, we are grateful but don’t take time to express  our gratitude. Perhaps we just assume that someone knows what he or she did, so we don’t make the effort to write a note, to make a phone call or say thanks in person.

“Gratitude”, wrote L. R. Akers, “has been called the memory of the heart. A heart without gratitude is like a grate filled with fuel unlighted, a cold and dead thing. A cardinal sin of our modern life is ingratitude.”

EXPRESSING GRATITUDE IS AN OBLIGATION

I believe that it is our obligation to express our gratitude.

To whom do we owe gratitude? First to God.  Second, to our parents and third, to  the people who have helped us and who have been with us in our journey through life – teachers, neighbors, career mentors, friends among others. Always remember that no one is self-made.

You are… where you are now because of your parents or because of someone, somewhere who helped you along the way.

Our first obligation of gratitude is to God. 

“Do not be anxious about anything but everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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 4:6-8

Bowing our heads to thank Him for our food is one sign of gratitude. Gratitude also involves giving rather than receiving. Christ gave us an example of this when He “took the seven loaves and the fish, and when He had given thanks, He broke them and gave to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.”  – Matthew 15:36

On another occasion, Christ healed ten lepers, yet only one came back to express his appreciation. Too often, we are like the nine other lepers. God answers our prayers. He meets our needs. He understands on our behalf, and we go merrily along our own way, never stopping to express our gratitude to Him.

We must know that feeling and expressing appreciation is good for us. Like any wise father, God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us. Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we have. Human beings are prone to covetousness. We tend to focus on things we don’t have. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we become happier because then… we feel more satisfied with what we have.

When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God.

Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts.

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5

Our second obligation of gratitude is to our parents

Our parents are God’s instruments in giving us life. Whether or not they are the kind of parents we wanted to have and whether or not they been good to us, they are still our parents and we have the obligation to be grateful to them because we would not be here on Earth without them.

Our parents are God’s stewards of His children – us . We would not be where we are today if not for our parents. And there is no better way to show our gratitude  than by consistently showing them our unconditional love and care especially in their twilight years.

Our  third obligation of gratitude is to those who have helped us and to those who generously share their blessings to us.

Some people may think  this is not an obligation… but to me, it is. For I  believe that   saying a sincere thank you is but an easy task that no one cannot have any excuse not to say it.

We should also remember to express our gratitude to those who provide us their services like helpers, cooks, drivers, garbage collectors, mailman among others. We meet these people day-to-day and sometimes we forget to express our appreciation for their efforts.

Bear in mind that the gratitude and appreciation that we express is never lost, it is kept in the hearts of others.

And who says that’s all there is to it? There’s even a bigger BONUS!…Have you discovered that the more you express your gratitude the more blessings you receive? Studies show that being able to recognize our blessings and express our gratitude are two of the most critical factors when it comes to living a truly joyous life - the more gratitude we show, the more blessings we can welcome into our lives.

Here are three simple  ways where we can express our gratitude that surprisingly can also make us a blessing magnet.

1. Be Thankful for Little Things: Quite often, the sweetest blessings come in the smallest forms. Learning to recognize those small things – a friend who called or stopped by just to check if you’re okay, someone who offered you a seat on a crowded room or bus, or the car door opened for you by your child or hubby.

These are small things but every time we appreciate them by saying “Thank you”, the more good things that  come our way  and the more we feel  love and joy in our hearts. Being thankful of the little things in our lives is a great way of improving the quality of our day-to-day existence.

2. Give To Those In Need: It is easy to forget how well-off most of us really are. To forget being thankful for our soft bed, the roof over our heads and the food we eat each day. Taking time to be thankful for all the comforts we take for granted can make it easier to reach out for people who have much less.

Many times, I have experienced giving even when I had little left on my wallet and always end up  being amazed how it comes back to me a thousandfold. Thus,  “JUST SHARE, MORE WILL RETURN”, has become my motto and my husband’s as well.

3. Do Unto Others: When we are genuinely happy with ourselves and our lives it is much easier to treat others kindly. And still, it’s important to make time to be considerate no matter how we’re feeling – picking up something someone has dropped, looking the person in the eye and saying a heartfelt thank you when they have helped you with something.

This goes back to “being thankful for little things”. It’s possible for us to be instigator of those little things in someone’s life.

After all, our own  happiness is magnified when we do something nice to others. Isn’t that a wonderful blessing?

Why we become a blessing magnet when we express our gratitude is clearly seen in the Bible, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”2 Corinthians 9:11-12

Finally, let us remind ourselves that a person who expresses gratitude  is a sign of a man  who is at peace with himself and his world. A man who has a peaceful and humble heart is a man who conveys appreciation to God for the blessings he receives and is always thankful to those who have helped him.

So then, push your positive mindset  to greater heights and make each day your own personal day of thanksgiving and watch how bountiful blessings come into your life.

After all, gratitude is an oil to the machinery of life, the man who thinks is a man who thanks.

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The Equation For Wholeness

maycluis:

Indeed, LIFE is meaningless without CHRIST.

Originally posted on Inspirational Christian Blogs:


by Neil Anderson

October 20

1 Timothy 6:9 

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction
In his book The Sensation of Being Somebody , Maurice Wagner expresses a false belief in simple equations we tend to accept. He says we mistakenly think that good appearance plus the admiration it brings equals a whole person. Or we feel that star performance plus accomplishments equals a whole person. Or we believe that a certain amount of status plus the recognition we accumulate equals a whole person. Not so. These equations are no more correct than two plus two equals six. Wagner says: “Try as we might by our appearance, performance, or social status to find self-verification for a sense of being somebody, we always come short of satisfaction. Whatever pinnacle of self-identity we achieve…

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Life Immortal or Life Eternal?

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imageThe Jellyfish begin life as larvae, “that look like swimming, fuzzy Tic Tac candies,” says Chad Widmer, a Fullbright scholar studying jellyfish at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Soon they settle on the ocean floor and resemble mini macaroni. These eventually generate baby jellyfish that grow into adults, produce more larvae that turn back into  polyps then (again) into adult jellyfish and the cycle continues.  Thus, the Turritopsis nutricula (Jellyfish) is immortal. Scientists believe they can yo-yo back and forth ad infinitum. “If one species of jellyfish can live forever, why can’t we?”, wrote Karen Ravn in an article in the Reader’s Digest, March 2011 issue.

I am almost certain that everyone has heard that scientists have already reversed aging in some experiments. In fact, we can now find drugs, medical procedures, food supplements and cosmetics that can make people look and feel many years younger. The latest of which is the stem-cell regenerative health technology that according to experts, “can repair cells by itself and thus prolongs life”. Apparently  still not contented, building on these age-reversing discoveries,  there’s the latest news that Google’s newest company wants to defeat death this time. Many would ask, can it be done?

“Nobody can tell at this point, but it may be within reach,” the company claims. In fact, according to them, “some life extension scientists think it may happen in about 20 years. But adding, “For now, however, it’s all experiments and theories – nothing truly applicable to humans.”

If immortality indeed arrives in 20 years, as some experts say, I believe the potential consequences of this path could have numerous adverse effects. If there is an unforeseen breakthrough that will make the “fountain of youth” available for everyone on Earth, I am very certain that Earth will not be a paradise. Just imagine if everyone becomes immortal, just think about the consequences of denying ourselves the possibility of having new people on Earth. On the other hand, imagine how everyone could survive in this small world if  there are 273 babies born every  minute across the world as the statistics say, and there is no single person who dies?

For now, however, this is all speculation. We can only look at what has been done so far and have nightmares about what lies ahead.

While some people are trying to play God  by defeating death and defying God’s creation, the real Christian treasures life for it is his most precious gift from God. Just as the Christian treasures Life, he also values death, for he believes that it is only through dying that one can attain eternal life. The Bible says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.” What a wonderful, inspiring offer from our Creator – to freely give eternal life to anyone who believes in His Son.

God promises eternal life to all who believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. But do we have any responsibility beyond believing? or simply put, does God require anything of us to receive eternal life? And is that all there is to it?

We find the answer to these questions in Matthew 7:21 when Jesus made a striking statement: “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord Lord” – shall inherit the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Jesus made it clear that merely acknowledging Him as Lord and Master saying “Lord, Lord” – is not sufficient. To inherit the kingdom of heaven, we must do something. We must do the will of the Father as clearly stated. Christians therefore should demonstrate their faith by obediently doing the will of the Father. On the other hand, refusal to obey demonstrates a lack of faith and will result in condemnation.

Therefore, eternal life is free and obedience is a requirement. At first those two statements may seem contradictory. Yet, as Jesus Christ Himself clearly taught, there are things we must do if we want to inherit eternal life. He specifically mentioned God’s commandments in this regard. He will proclaim a stern message for those who have believed in Him, but whose belief never translated into loving submission to God’s law: “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” - Matthew 7:23

Thus, the true Christian is focused on “preparing himself” by doing the will of the Father so that when he dies,  he will have eternal life just as Jesus has promised.

Friend, listen to this, two thousand years ago, God considered mankind including you and I so important that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. He looked at our helplessness and our inability to create eternal life., and said, “I’ll send my Son to provide eternal life, I’ll do for you what you can never do.”

The passage of physical life to physical death is the natural transition that all mortal creatures undergo. For the followers of Christ, we do not wait to undergo the transformation from death to life at that final moment. We seek to live it out in response to the Gospel, in a life informed by Faith and enlivened by Obedience and Charity. We do this  through a transformed mind and heart in the face of inevitable sufferings on earth.

What is the worth of the human soul? In God’s eyes, it was worth the death of His only Son. In light of this gift, here is Christ’s invitation to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28

Thus, we pray for the grace to prepare for death, to see all of life by obediently doing God’s will as a preparation for that day that the early Christians did not call one’s “death day”, but rather dies natalis, one’s birth day: the day one springs from this so-called  earthly life into the life of the world to come.

“When it comes to immortality vs. eternity, nothing of physical value is as important as making sure we have eternal life.”

And so we pray, “May the Lord Jesus Christ help us to merit eternal life through faith and obedience to God, our Father. And may this be our guideline for living.  From an unprepared and sudden death, O Lord save us.”

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