Pastor's Meditations

Lost and Found

                Two days ago, I witnessed (via TV news) one of the most horrific massacres in U.S. history. A young gunman killed seventeen people in a South Florida high school. This is a national tragedy and a painful reminder that we live in a fallen, sinful world.

                My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish and pain they feel over their loss. My heart also goes to my pastor, who recently lost his sister and must preside over her funeral.

                I almost lost two of my sons. The youngest one almost choked to death with a piece of bread (I saved him by a miracle from God) and the oldest one almost died in the war. He fell from his helicopter (he hadn’t fastened his seatbelt) before it went down the mountain killing everyone in his unit.

                How do you deal with a loss? It is one thing to lose a material possession forever, or to lose a loved one in the park (only to find them later); but to lose someone dear to us forever is almost unbearable.

                My father died when I was four, and I still miss him. I have found solace and comfort in my heavenly Father, but my heart aches like an orphan for my absent dad. There is still a hole in my soul and the hope that one day I will see my father again in heaven.

                There is hope for those who follow Christ. Yes, in this world we will have trials (James 1:2-4) and tribulations (John 16:33), but there is nothing that will separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:31-39).

                Loss comes from separation; separation is the handiwork of death; and death grows in the tree of sin. If there was no sin in the world, there would be no more death, separation, loss and pain.

                As long as we remain in this world, we will experience all these things. They are ever-present and inevitable. Temptation and sin are all around us and death stares at us in the face every day. Separation and loss are an ongoing reality and pain (next to God) is our closest companion.

                One day, however, we shall exit this dying planet either through death or the Rapture. On that blessed day, we will be ushered into the kingdom of glory and light. In heaven there will be no more sin, death, pain and separation because we will be forever united to our Lord.

                Is this your hope?

                Alexander Gonzalez

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Learning to Love

            Lord, teach me how to love

            I want to love you more and more

            Drill your love in my soul

            Let me worship (You) and adore

 

            I am selfish and resentful

            I am prone to seek revenge

            Teach me Lord, to be forgetful,

            To forgive and to forget

 

            You have always loved me, Father

            And I will never find the reason (why)

            Lead me to love You and others

            In every hour and all the seasons

 

            I love you Jesus, this I know

            I love my wife and family

            Loving is not easy for me

            Loving others is a test

            But you can teach me how to love

            For loving is what you do best

                       

       Alexander Gonzalez

           

           

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Red Sea Moments

            A place that every Christian should visit is the Middle East. There are many interesting and fascinating locations in this region, including Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon and of course, Israel.

            These biblical lands are full of mystery and enchantment. It was there where all the heroes of faith walked, lived and died. It was there where the nation of Israel prospered and then decayed. It was there where our Lord Jesus was born and died for our sins.

            One of my favorite places to visit would be the area between Egypt and Israel known as the Red Sea or “Sea of Reeds.” This is the place that is portrayed in the movie “The Ten Commandments” when Moses is used by God to open the sea.

            In a sense, I (and perhaps you too) have been to the Red Sea. No, I haven’t visited the Middle East yet (donations anyone?), but I have had many Red Sea moments in my life.

            I am referring to those bittersweet days, when nothing goes right and everything gets worse and worse by the minute. You feel trapped and cornered every which way you turn. To make matters worse, the “Egyptians” are right behind you; ready to destroy you and there is a big sea all around you, making it impossible to escape.

            I tell you that these must be God’s favorite moments. We are surrounded by enemies and obstacles and no one else can (or wants to) help us, but God. In those moments, when the sea is raging, the lion is roaring and our strength is gone; God appears at the last possible minute and opens the sea (Exodus 14), calms the storm (Mark 4:39) and shuts the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:22).

            Perhaps you are IN a Red Sea moment right now. Everything is dark around you and you feel like God has abandoned you. I cannot tell you how long it is going to last, but I know three things:

            One day, it will come to an end

            God is with you now

            God will rescue you.

            He promised so in 1 Corinthians 10:13,

            “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

            Alexander Gonzalez

           

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Love Competition

            Today, Super Bowl LII will be held in Minnesota. This is the most watched sporting event held in America and it is one of the biggest tournaments worldwide; only surpassed by the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.

            Sports and similar events have grown exponentially in the United States. There are competitions almost every day, in almost everything you can think of and at every level. Little kids compete in “Pee Wee” leagues and then continue playing in Middle and High school, in college and some become “professionals.” There’s even senior leagues for retired athletes.

            America (and the whole world) has an obsession with competitions. We play and watch a bunch of “normal” sports (football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, car racing, etc.), but there are many tournaments involving other activities like Frisbee, darts, horseshoe toss and many other really weird “sports.”

            I have never heard of any event in which couples compete to see who loves the other person more. A few years ago, Stanford University conducted a “Love Competition” in which a few couples competed via an MRI to see who loved his partner the most. The brain scan showed different levels of reactions in the brain, along with raised levels of dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and other brain chemicals.

            This is not the kind of love competition that I am referring to. MRI’s and X-Rays cannot determine how much we love others, because love is not an emotion or “chemistry.” Love is a gift from God and is expressed mostly by loving and giving actions that come from our will.

            The Bible says: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16)

            Love is measured, not by fancy poems and extravagant gifts (although there is a place for those), but by our giving. In 2 Corinthians 8:5, the apostle Paul speaks of the Macedonians great giving in this way:

            “…but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”

            This is real love. Love gives. God gave and the Macedonians gave. Giving, however, is more than giving money---it is giving ourselves to God and to others.

            I have often wondered how different marriages (and other relationships) would be, if we would try to outlove each other. Divorce and fights would be a thing of the past if we were more concerned for the well being of our partners or friends. Philippians 2:3, 4 says,

            “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

            Alexander Gonzalez

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One, two, three…One thousand!

                Have you ever been in a troublesome situation? We all have faced problems and tribulations almost on a daily basis. If is not one thing is the other, but the fact remains that troubles will visit all of us with an irritating frequency and intensity.

                And yet, there are days which seem more problematic than others. I am referring to the days when attacks come one after another; like a swarm of locust that devastate everything in sight. These days are intolerable and seemingly never-ending.

                That is exactly how I have been feeling these last few days. It all started on Friday with a simple cough, but it has degenerated into something far worse. Now I have problems or pain in almost every inch of my body. I have a medical condition in:

                My head and my eyes

                My nose and my mouth

                My throat and my neck

                My stomach and my chest

                I also have constant fever, which in turn has drained all of my strength. I am also suffering from headaches, insomnia, allergies and dehydration and a few more I forgot. The only “good news” in all of this is that I have dropped a few pounds…which I need to.

                My case cannot be compared to Job’s day of trial. In one day, Job went from being the richest and most blessed man of his time (Job 1:3), to one of the poorest and most miserable (humanly speaking). In one day, Job lost his fortune (camels, cows, sheep, and donkeys) and all his children (Job 1:13-18).

                Only Jesus, and perhaps the apostle Paul, suffered even more than Job. In fact, Isaiah 53 tell us that Jesus was:

                “…despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (v. 3)

                 Do you want to talk about having problems? Jesus is personally acquainted with sorrow, grief, troubles, pain, abandonment, betrayal and any other problem you can think of (or complain about). He, who put Job to the test, voluntarily became the Object of derision, scorn and all sorts of attacks.

              But Isaiah continues,

             "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows...He was bruised for our iniquities...and by his stripes we are healed" (vv. 4, 5)

             I don’t know how to end my problems or this blog, but perhaps we can learn that problems are part of life; that Jesus knows about our problems and that He uses problems to bring the best out of us. Remember that it was He that faced the wilderness for 40 days; that prayed with his own blood on Gethsemane and that shed that same blood to save us from Hell.

            Alexander Gonzalez

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