Pastor's Meditations

Hallow or Holy?

              If I would ask what is celebrated on October 31, nine out of ten Christians would reply: "Halloween." On this day death and the devil are celebrated worldwide and in the last few decades Christian churches have joined in this awful celebration.

             Now, before you reply angrily or complain about this statement of fact, I am not saying that all churches do celebrate Halloween like the world does (though many do), but I am declaring that many churches feel the need to provide an "alternative" so that our "poor" Christian children don't miss out on the festivities and feel left out.

             As a matter of fact, in most communities, the churches place more emphasis on Halloween activities than the secular society. Who has not heard of such events as "Harvest Festivals" or "Trunk or Treat" or even evangelistic "Haunted Houses" in our cities and towns?

             Am I the only one that believes that Halloween is evil? Am I an alarmist or old fashioned when I think that churches should never celebrate Halloween in any form or fashion? 

             There is a big problem when churches start providing alternatives for sin. The word "alternative" means another option or possibility for people to choose from. Halloween should be irrelevant for believers. There is nothing to celebrate on that day for us...or is there?

              Well, since you ask so politely I will reply. God, in his infinite wisdom has provided a reason to celebrate October 31 and it has nothing to do with Halloween, death, Jack-o'-lanterns, costumes, candies or the devil. I am referring to the celebration of Reformation Day.

               It was on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany; protesting all the abuses and heresies of the Roman Catholic church. This event lead to a revival of the true church of God and a separation from apostate Christianity.

               This is what the Christians should celebrate and proclaim for all to hear! Instead of providing alternatives for an evil and pagan feast, we should rejoice that exactly 500 years ago, God used one repentant monk to change (not to imitate) the world. 

                And one last thing. The devil is the one that has always attempted to bring chaos into the world by providing other "alternatives" to the people of God. He did so with Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3) and "disguises himself as an angel of light"  (2 Corinthians 11:14) to bring confusion, chaos and destruction in the world.

                The church does not need to provide altenatives, but preach the truth. The church does not need disguises or costumes, but to show forth the light of Christ to a dark world. Finally, the church does not need to celebrate death and sin, but rejoice in the life we have in Christ.

                Alexander Gonzalez

 

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Present

             I take attendance every single day at school in my Spanish classes. As I call out each name on the roll my students must respond by saying "Aqui" (Here) or "Presente" (Present). It is rare to have a full class on any given day. There are always students that are either absent, skipping, taking some state test, or participating in a myriad of school activities, including games, rallies, class meetings, dramas etc. I am not counting those which are suspended for breaking some of the school rules.

             It is very frustrating to teach under these conditions. There are always students lagging behind; needing to make up work in class. It seems sometiems that "students" have time for everything except to actually do their work, which is to study.

             Christians act the same way most of the time. We are so engrossed into living our "own" lives, that we rarely have any time left for the Lord. We have time to work, but no time for worship; we have time to play, but no time for praying; we have time watch TV for hours, but we get sleppy every time we go to church or read the Word at home.

              Romans 12:1 commands all Christians to be present for the Lord every day.

             "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present  our bodies a living sacrifice,                                                                                                  holy, acceptable to God, which isyour reasonable service."

              Our Lord is ever present in us and with us all the time. He always has time for you and me. He want to interact with us on a daily, hourly basis. Every moring is a new opportunity for us to present ourselves before our God; ready to follow his will and obey his commands. We might not be the most able believers in terms of spiritual gifts and talents, but God is not looking for talented or able believers; He wans to use available Christians.

              Isaiah was not the most able of the would be prophets. He was a foul-mouthed individual and yet, God called him to the prophetic ministry. After he was cleansed and purified by God, he responded positively to God's call by saying:

              "Here I am, send me" (Isaiah 6:1-8)

              You and I may never have enough gold, myrrh or frankincense to bring as presents to the Lord (Matthew 2:11), but we can present ourselves as presents to our Lord and Savior every day. I pray that our lives bring honor, glory and joy to our God, as we seek to serve Him with love for the rest of our lives.

Alexander Gonzalez

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Giants Will Fall

                I am tired, very tired...and sore, very sore. I just finished cutting down the biggest cedar tree you will ever see. It was a giant of a tree; towering over 45 feet high, with a diameter in excess of four feet. It took me quite a few hours to achieve this victory with my very small electric chainsaw and a rope, but the tree fell down. I cannot begin to express to you my immense feeling of satisfaction as I saw that big giant topple at my feet.

              This is how David must have felt when he defeated Goliath. This Philistine was an intimidating giant; standing at over eigth feet tall. David didn't have a chainsaw or a sword, but some stones and a slingshot. One stone it was all it took to take down the giant; one stone was enough in the name of the Lord (Read 1 Samuel 17).

              Are there giants in your life? If we are honest before the Lord, we must confess that all of us face giants from time to time, if not every day. There are many giants roaming around today and many times they gather together to attack us. All of these giants are big, powerful and very scary and they would defeat us so easily, were it not for the grace and mercy of God over our lives.

              There is an ugly giant named Fear and a pretty giant called Temptation. I have met a gloomy giant who goes by the name of Depression, who always walks together with his friends Doubt, Anxiety and Guilt. Some people have followed another group of giants and have become entangled in a vicious cycle of destruction, and no wonder for their names are Lies, Gossip, Slander and Envy. There are many other giants in this world, but the scariest bunch are wreaking havoc all over the place. They have no respect for age, race or nationality. They are the giants called  Murder, Drugs and Suicide.

              These giants will fall down in the presence of a victorious and obedient child of God. This is what happened to Goliath and this is what could have happened to the giants in Canaan if all the spies and all the people of Israel would have had Caleb's courage and faith. It was he who exclaimed:

              “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

               That is precisely the kind of faith and courage you and I need. If we look at this world with our own eyes, we will always be afraid of the giants, or the waves ( read Matthew 14); but when we look through the eyes of faith, we will not be able to see any giants anymore. 

                Alexander Gonzalez

 

             

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Lost Wallets

              A few months ago I almost lost my wallet; well, I lost it but I was blessed to be able to find it again. It happened in the city of Naples, Florida. I went to the market after a morning swim in the beach and not wanting to put my wallet in the pocket of my wet swimming trunk, I placed it on top of the shopping cart...and I forgot about it.

              On my way back to the motel, I suddenly realized that my dear wallet was lost and alone in the world. I drove back to the market like a maniac (don't tell the police) and searched everywhere, but the wallet was gone. Finally, I went to Customer Service and the agent told me she had it. It turns out that someone saw it and returned it to the store.

             You and I were like this lost wallet. We too, were lost like sheep that "have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). My wallet, however, was lost due to my own negligence or forgetfulness, but the human race chose to separate from God and has been lost ever since. In fact, even now most Christians choose to go astray now and then.

             You can't imagine the joy I felt when I was reunited with my lonesome wallet. I almost cried tears of joy and praised the Lord of heaven for saving my wallet and for protecting my identity and finances.

             A greater joy was felt by the woman that lost, and found her coin (Luke 15:9) and even more by the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20-24). He was so overjoyed by his return, that he made a great feast for his "recovered" or redeemed son.

            This story is a wonderful illustration of God's love for us. We were lost and rejoiced in our evil ways, but He came to save us. We will never deserve the wonders of his amazing grace and infinite mercy. His heart is filled with eternal joy for the salvation of each one of his elect.

             Oh, and one more thing. Now that we are in Christ, we can be assured that we will never be lost again (John 10:28-30). We might go a little astray sometimes, but our God will never lose anything. We might lose our wallets (or other things), but He cannot even lose one soul.

             Alexander Gonzalez

              

 

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Ready for the Storms

                 As I write these lines a powerful hurricane is approaching the state of Florida. Irma has already devastated many Caribbean islands and now turns its attention to the southeast parts of the United States. This powerful storm can destroy many homes and kill some people and at this moment is heading in our direction.

                What do you do when the storms of life come your way?

                I have been watching the alarming news and we have been preparing the best way we can. We have water, food, gas, a portable stove and we have put all the plants and tools in a safe place and cleaned the gutters. These are things we can somehow control, but we cannot control the weather or the path of the hurricane. There are other preparations that will have to wait for another storm, like buying a good generator or getting hurricane proof shutters for my windows.

                In a sense, we are never fully prepared for physical or spiritual storms. We can read and study the Bible every day; we can pray night and day and we can spend time with our Father in exquisite worship, as we sing his praises or meditate on his goodness.  All these spiritual exercises are indeed great and vital and make us strong, in order to endure most trials and resist most temptations successfully, but when the storms do come we tend to forget all that and sometimes we fail.

                The Bible says that we  "are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10), that is, in Christ. Our justification in Christ is complete and we have all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Moreover, the Trinity abides in us (John 14:16, 23) and we have his eternal, inerrant, infallible and inspired Word to guide us with the truth in this uncertain world.

                And yet, we sometimes fail. If my preparations are not enough for Hurricane Irma, then it's my fault. I should have listened to my wife months (or was it years?) ago, when she asked me to buy a generator. I should have more water, more food, more shutters and especially more money, because we don't know how long this storm (or its ramifications) will last.

                The storms of life are harder and most of them appear without warning, but we have everything we need in Christ to endure and overcome. I am not saying or even implying that we will never get hurt by these storms, but they will not defeat us as long as we walk in obedience to Christ. Paul said it best:

                 "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;                                                                                                                   persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9)

                   Alexander Gonzalez

                

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