Pastor's Meditations

              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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“Cross Control”

                I love old cars that are still in good condition. The chassis and exterior of the older automobiles are stronger than the fiberglass or aluminum exterior of most modern vehicles. The older engines are simpler, stronger and in many cases longer-lasting than their modern counterparts.

                The cars, trucks and vans of today are not made to last. After a few years with the same vehicle, you must be willing to trade it in for a new one, or pay thousands in repairs every year if you expect to keep your used car.

                There are, however, a few modern technological advancements that make the modern automobiles better in some aspects. I am referring to Automatic Braking, Rearview Camera, GPS, LoJack, OnStar and Cruise Control. Of all these, the Cruise Control is my favorite, because it allows the driver to rest their legs, especially in a long trip.

                Cruise Control has also become the favorite of many followers of Christ today. They supposedly have received Christ as their Lord and Savior, but soon after that, they connect to the “Christian Cruise Control Network” and intend to coast and cruise, instead of walking and running with Christ in service and obedience.

                Christ did not die on the cross for us to live an easy and trouble-free live. We have not been called to a Cruise Control kind of life, but we must all submit under the control of the cross. Cross Control is what we need. The Bible tells us:

                “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)

                We must be obedient followers of Christ. Jesus gave us the example as,

               “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

               If you want to go on a cruise from time to time, go ahead; just make sure to stay away from all its temptations. On the other hand, submit yourself under the Cross Control and forsake the unbiblical and dangerous idea of living your Christian life in cruise control mode. Get up from the pew and serve your Lord in the church building and in any other place you may be in at the moment.

               We can find salvation at the cross. We can find rest at the cross. We can find peace, joy, love and power at the cross of Christ. The cross has become our banner and all those that are under its control will be truly blessed in this life and in the next. Paul understood the power of the cross and rejoiced in it, as he exclaimed:

              “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14).

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Mental Health

                Right now, I’m seating in a mandatory meeting about mental health in the classroom. These meetings are a direct result of the recent school shootings. The state has mandated these training sessions in an effort to prevent these outbursts by identifying students with mental health problems.

                In this recent meeting they are talking about all kinds of disorders. There is anxiety, substance, eating and other “disorders”, including psychosis and depression. The definition of a disorder is “mental illness” that affects our behavior.

                As I reflect on this, I have conflicting thoughts in my mind. I have compassion for people that have real problems, but when we start labeling sinful behaviors as disorders, I cannot help but to totally disagree.

                Calling sin, in all its expressions (rebellion, transgression, missing the mark, wickedness, immorality, etc.) a disorder is not only wrong, unbiblical and misleading; it is also downright dangerous and irresponsible.

                An illness is something that affects our body and limits our physical activities in some form or another. Some of those sicknesses are self inflicted and some are quickly alleviated or healed by the application of medicine. The majority of illnesses, however, come to us and there is nothing we can do about it, except to wait until we are healed, or in many cases until we die from it.

                Sin is not a disorder or an illness. Bad behavior (i.e. sin) is the result of our own sinful choices. We must stop blaming poverty, the society, traumas and “mental disorders” for our wickedness, immorality, drug abuse, crimes.

                Blaming others (or other things) for our sin is as old as the human race. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed the serpent and Adam blamed God by saying: “The woman whom you gave me” (Genesis 3:12).

                This is exactly what happens when we begin to shift our own blame. Some blame society or their parents. Sooner or later the blame will ascend to our God, who created all the generations that contributed directly to our downfall.

                James has something very powerful to say about all this:

                “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15).

                By the way, I left the meeting halfway…

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“Organized Mess”

                Are you a messy person?

                If I would visit your house today, would I find every room clean and organized, or would I have to walk over a “mine field” of toys, food and other items? I have had the distinct “pleasure” of visiting messy and smelly homes and I can tell you that it was not a good experience at all.

                Speaking of messes, my house has been invaded by a troop of messy kids (and some adults) and it is a complete mess at this moment. There are toys all over the house; there is food on the floor and clean and unclean laundry everywhere, except for the drawers and closets.

                In addition to the “normal” clutter referenced above, my house is experiencing a sort of revival, better known as renovation. Every room in our home is getting a “facelift” and that means that our whole property is littered with all sorts of construction materials and with the junk that is being replaced or renovated.

                The key to preserving our sanity in this situation is to recognize that mess is a part of every renovation or construction project. Another helpful tip is to keep our mess as organized as possible. To achieve this goal we must put all the tools together and keep all the materials in one place. Finally, we must realize that mess is temporary and that one day the project will be complete and all the disorder, clutter and chaos will be gone.

                Our lives are just like that. All of us are a mess in one way or another. Nobody has got it all together in this side of heaven. We are indeed God’s project and He is still working in us. Every project is messy, and our lives are no exception to this rule. We must realize that change and growth is painful and messy, as God continues to prune and refine us (John 15:2).

                Our lives were a total mess; a chaos before Christ saved our souls. We are brand new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) but we are not perfect yet (Philippians 3:12). We must submit ourselves to God’s control and learn how to be less messy (sinful) every day. This process is known in the Bible as our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

                We are looking forward to the day that the project is complete and we enter into our glorious and eternal home. On that day, Christ will, present… to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) 

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“Interrupted by God”

                There is nothing more annoying than being interrupted in the middle of a conversation. Just the other day, I was sharing something very important with a friend, when someone else came and started talking about something trivial and unnecessary.

                Interruptions are a daily part of our lives. We get interrupted at home, at school, at work and even at church. Interruptions take many forms: A visit during dinner time with your family; a phone call when you are praying; a child screaming when you are trying to sleep and cell phones ringing during a church service.

                There are other major interruptions in life caused by illnesses, losing jobs, weather events and deaths in the family. When a loved one is in the hospital, our “regular” life is interrupted and we must take time off from work to be with them.

                God uses all of these “interruptions” to work his plan and purpose in our lives. What we call interruptions, God calls interventions. He intervenes and acts in us, to display his glory, to fulfill his plan and to achieve his purpose in us and through us.

                Most of us get annoyed with these interruptions or “interventions” from God. We prefer to be left alone to enjoy the fruit of our labors. We just want to live a happy life; a life in which no one gets sick or dies or needs anything from us. We want peace, happiness, good health, love and all the other blessings from God. We want heaven on earth.

                The problem with this line of thinking is that it is unrealistic and dangerous. If God would never interrupt (intervene) our lives, we would all be in a really bad place. If God does not intervene and deals with our sin problem, we would be lost, broken, unhappy, sick and on our way to eternal damnation.

                God is concerned about you and me and He has complete freedom to intervene (interrupt) at any moment He sees fit in order to correct, discipline, bless and save his children. He sent the judges, the prophets and finally His Son to this earth to invade this planet with the message of the Gospel.

                A classical example of divine intervention is found in the life of Saul of Tarsus. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there and Jesus interrupted his mission.

                But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting...’” (Acts 9:1-5).

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