Pastor's Meditations

   New Vision

                                                            

                Two months ago (by the time you read this article) I had surgery on my left eye. It was a simple procedure that lasted a few minutes, but the recovery has been slow and at times, painful. I have put enough drops in my eye to sink the Titanic all over again.

                In addition to all this, I have visited the eye doctor several times after the operation and each time I see him is as “joyful” as a visit to the dentist. He makes me read all these letters on the wall, which isn’t that bad; but then it comes one of the cruelest acts of torture ever devised by man: The blinding light. The doctor examines your eyes for what it seems to be hours and you can’t even blink.

                Why did I go through all this pain and humiliation? I wanted to improve my vision. The doctor used the light to discover the cloud (cataract) that was blurring my vision and used the knife to remove all the obstacles. Now, I have 20/20 vision once again in both eyes.

                My eye ordeal and restoration pales in comparison with the former condition of my spiritual eyes before I became a Christian by the grace of God. My eyesight was so bad, that you can actually say that I was totally blind. This is what the Bible teaches. An unbeliever is dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1). He is also unrighteous, ungodly and unable to do that which is good or to understand spiritual truth (Romans 3:10-18). Paul also tells us that those who reject Christ are blind.

                But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

                The light of Christ through the gospel shined over me and I was able to see for the very first time how sinful I really was and how holy God is. This is what happened to the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-7) as he saw the Lord and was appalled by his own iniquity.

                Then (as in the case of the surgeon’s knife) came the Sword which is the Word of God, and cut through all the darkness in my soul and removed the chains of my sins. I can now exclaim with the former blind man:

                One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)

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       “Open Flowers”

                                                      

                We are entering another bitter cold winter season. I will probably never get fully accustomed to North Florida weather. You see, I was born in sunny South Florida and was raised in sunnier Cuba. In other words, I am a tropical man.

                You, my beloved reader, probably love and rejoice in the winter “wonderland” as they call it. You enjoy the snow and the whole Nativity season. I also love the season---minus the cold. I rather celebrate the birth of Christ on a sandy beach (instead of the snow) and under palm trees (instead of around a pagan tree filled with lights).

                I can hardly wait for the spring to arrive. The mild weather and the flowers signal the death of winter and the birth (or rebirth) of new life that arrive with spring.

                One of the main things I notice during the spring is the beautiful flowers of the field. In particular, I observe how most of the flowers bloom or open their petals every morning as the sun comes up. At night, most flowers close up until the next morning.

                I am not a scientist; therefore I cannot explain this floral pattern. I don’t know how or why most flowers open and close their petals with this regularity. However, I believe that there are a few lessons that we can learn from diurnal flowers.

                Christians are children of the light and children of the day (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Like newborn flowers, we are diurnal (belonging to the day) creatures and we rejoice in all the days that our Lord have made (Psalm 118:24).

                The diurnal flowers need the sun to live and grow. The process known as photosynthesis uses the sunlight to produce plant food. Christians need the sun as well, like all other creatures, but we absolutely depend upon the Son for our spiritual life as we grow in the light of Christ. He is our Savior and Sustainer (Colossians 1:15-17).

                As the flowers close at night, we must too learn to close all the doors that deal with evil and darkness. James commands us to resist the devil (James 4:7) and Paul says that there is always an open door of escape for those who flee from darkness and temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

                One last thing before I go: There is another kind of flowers. I am referring to nocturnal flowers that “sleep” during the day and open up in the darkness. We were like those flowers before Christ came and plucked us out from the kingdom of darkness and planted us in his eternal kingdom of life and light (Colossians 1:13).

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Break In

                Some time ago, our church building was burglarized. The break in happened at night. The thief broke a window and stole some electronic items.

                It is so sad that this happened to a small rural church like ours, in the middle of nowhere. There is no respect for private property or for God, even in a southern and “God fearing” community such as ours anymore.

                I don’t know the exact figures, but millions of crimes are committed each year including break-ins, robberies and burglaries. If you visit big cities like Miami, you will see iron bars on doors and windows everywhere. You will also see guard dogs and alarms protecting most properties and don’t forget the security guards.

                The human heart is just like those houses. Our hearts have been burglarized and broken too many times. To avoid this onslaught, we protect our hearts with the iron bars of anger, apathy, sarcasm or solitude.

                Jesus sees our hearts and he sees all the hurt and disappointments that live there. He also sees all the futile defense mechanisms that we use to protect it. Jesus sees all of that and everything else, including our lusts, passions, inclinations and deviations.

                Jesus sees everything that is in our hearts, because He lives there. Jesus cares about our hearts and he has compassion for our sufferings. He wants to heal our broken hearts, but the only way He will do this is by breaking the power that sin and the flesh have over us.

                He needs to break us before he can remake us.

               Jeremiah 18:4 tells us what Jeremiah, the prophet saw when he went to the potter’s house:

              “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”

            Spurgeon said: “God breaks those He wants to make great.” He did that with Jacob before he became Israel. He broke Saul in order to make the apostle Paul and he broke Peter and transformed him from a Christ-denying disciple into a bold preacher of righteousness in the name of the Lord.

                We need for Christ to break in into our hearts and for Him to break and destroy all the pride, lusts, rebellion and sinfulness that still remain there. Let us submit to his pruning work (John 15:4) as He removes all the useless “branches” from our heart and remakes us according to:

                “…the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13)

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“Let the Light In” (Break In part 2)

                In our last entry (“Break In”) we addressed the recent burglary perpetrated in our church building. Someone came in and stole a few electronic devices and broke a window. What I forgot to mention was that this criminal also removed the air conditioner unit from the pastor’s office window.

                That was actually the first thing I noticed when I arrived at church the next Sunday morning. The office was actually a little bit warmer and much brighter than ever before. By removing the AC unit, the thieves have actually removed that which was blocking the sunlight.

                As I reflect on this incident, I realize that our lives are like my office window sometimes. We are the children of light, but our hearts and minds are cluttered with the things and cares of this world. This is how I feel every day at the end of the school day. My mind is filled with many divergent thoughts and my heart is far away from my Lord.

                We must learn to submit to the pruning of the Lord. He will remove the “dead branches” of doubts, guilt, anxiety, sin and unfaithfulness. This process is painful, but oh, so necessary. The pruning or cleansing is done by the Word of God (John 15:1-3).

                As those branches are removed, the light of the Son of God can reach our minds and hearts, and it will shine through us. Jesus said:

                 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16)

 

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              Right Connections

                                    

                Technology can be a great tool…if you know how to use it correctly. I know that I am not the only one that has been frustrated by modern technology. Gone are the days of home phones and even “regular” cell phones. Now we must deal with “smart” phones, smart watches, smart TVs and with tablets, IPods, I Pads, Fit bit, Drones, GPS and many more.

                One day soon, every device and gadget will be wireless and cordless, but for now there are still devices that still need to be connected with different wires to the electricity outlets and to other devices. There are many different kinds of cords, wires and cables. Now we have RGB, VGA, DVI, PS2, Ethernet, USB and HDMI cables and it is very important to know which cable goes where, if you want to watch a simple program on a modern TV.

                A few days ago I was very frustrated by my less-than-smart television set. I simply couldn’t get it to work. The video didn’t work; the audio didn’t work; nothing was working---except for the devil putting a dent on my armor. After many grunts, “prayers” and maybe a tear or two, my son came to my rescue and fixed the problem in a matter of seconds. The problem: The cables were not properly connected.

                Having the right connection in technology is just as vital as having the right connections in life. A person that is “connected” with the proper people will advance faster and farther, than those who have no connections.

                If this is true in the secular world, it is just as true in the Christian life, but not in the way you think. The ways of God are higher (Isaiah 55:9) than ours and when we are connected to Him we will grow and have success, regardless if we are well connected or not in secular or Christian circles.

            Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.(John 15:4, 5)

                John tells us that Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches, or to put it in modern technological jargon: Jesus is the Source of power and we are the devices and gadgets He uses disperse his message to the world. If we are properly connected to Him, our message will be clear and powerful. If we are connected to Him, we shall bear much fruit and the whole world will know that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

                A. G.

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