Pastor's Meditations

“Put the Paddle Down”

                Ping Pong is a very interesting and exciting game. To play this game you need a table, a net, lots of ping pong balls and paddles. The object of this game is simple: to win points by making your opponents miss the incoming ball, or for them to hit it out of bounds (beyond the table).

                As a sport or recreational activity, Ping Pong is great, but it is a very poor and detrimental tool for marriage conflict resolution.

                Many years ago, my wife and I played verbal “Ping Pong.” If she would criticize me for anything, I would pick up my “paddle” and return the criticism “ball” back to her. This was only the beginning of our Ping Pong arguing game. The criticisms and attacks would grow stronger and louder, followed by silence, resentment and isolation.

                It was not until we put our paddles down that effective and loving communication began to take place. It was a hard process, but it was worth all the effort, the tears and the pain because at the end we found out that we were now able to talk heart to heart.

                The first ever Ping Pong “players” were Adam and Eve. When they were confronted by God, they blamed each other and even blamed God (Genesis 3:11-13). Since that day, countless couples have played the blame (Ping Pong) game; a game in which there are no winners or champions, only losers.

                A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:1-2).

                Oh, how many divorces could be avoided if we would just learn to speak “softly” to each other! It is better to lose an argument, than to destroy the relationship. Marriages and all other relationships grow in a nurturing and loving environment.

                The reason why many marriages end up in divorce is because they have played a game with no referee. Marriage is not the union of two, but the union of three: Jesus, you and your spouse. If Jesus is the Mediator of your marriage, you can be sure of success. The closer that you and your spouse walk with Jesus, the closer you will be with one another.

                Please put the paddle down! Stop winning arguments and start winning at the game of real love and commitment. Pattern your marriage and all other relationships on the blueprint of 1 Corinthians 13. Speak the truth to each other, but do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).

                Paul admonished us to “…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 timothy 2:23). There is a blessing for those that abandon the paddle: “It is honorable for a man to stop striving…any fool can start a quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

“The Best Mirror in the World”

                The Evil Queen in Disney’s “Snow White” said one of most memorable lines in movie history:

                “Magic mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” (Not “Mirror, mirror…” by the way). The said mirror would always proclaim the queen as the fairest, until Snow White appeared on the scene and became the most beautiful girl in the land.

                Mirrors have become a necessary commodity in our homes, cars, public bathrooms, fitting rooms and in many other places. We need mirrors to groom ourselves correctly and to see if our attire fits (and matches) properly.

                Mirrors are also used as decorative pieces and are strategically placed in stores and offices to “enlarge” the room. Finally, “magicians” and illusionists use mirrors as part of their acts, to make us believe that they are actually performing magic tricks.

                There is one MIRROR that is infinitely superior to all other mirrors. I am referring to the mirror of the Law of God. This mirror lets us see beyond our physical reflection. As we look intently into this divine glass, we can clearly detect ALL of our defects, stains and sin.

                The Law of God is the mirror that leads anyone who truly looks into it, to desperation and sorrow over their sin.

                “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.” (Romans 7:7)

                The Law shows us our sinful condition and furthermore it cannot save us

                “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

                So, what is the Law good for? The Word of God is the double edge sword (Hebrews 4:12) that first wounds the sinner with the “edge” of the Law and then heals him with the “edge” of Grace. The Law is not only a true mirror that reflects our wickedness, but it is also a light that points to the Savior:

                “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)

                 What shall we do with this heavenly mirror after we come to Christ for salvation? Search for Christ every day in his Word and do what He commands.

                “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:21-24)

                 A. G.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

“Disposable”

                Sylvester Stallone, known for his role as Rocky Balboa, commented in one of his movies that American soldiers are “expendable.” Whether you agree with him or not, the fact is that many soldiers are placed in harm’s way and the same goes for CIA operatives and the like.

                If soldiers are expendable, then everything else seems to be disposable. In the United States alone, there is a myriad of disposable products including, hypodermic needles, toilet paper, paper towels, cotton swabsmedical and cleaning gloves, dust masks, diapersrazorstoothbrushesdental floss, hospital aprons, contact lenses, disposable batteries, cameras, garbage bags,  paper cups and plates, drinking straws and many more.

                Relationships also seem to be disposable. Marriages end up in divorce at an alarming rate and there is a growing segment of the population that has disposed or abandoned the concept of marriage altogether.

                On a personal level, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have felt like I am a disposable or expendable individual. I know that I’m not the only one that has been betrayed by family, friends, co-workers and co-worshipers.

                I have been accepted, or better yet “tolerated,” just as long as I am useful, funny or beneficial in one way or the other. Once my “usefulness” runs out, I am discarded like toilet paper down the drain. The smiles are replaced by icy glares and the greetings turn into awkward silence.

                Jesus knows about all this. He was betrayed by Judas; denied by Peter and abandoned or discarded by the rest of his disciples. Paul was also deserted by everyone in Asia (2 Timothy 1:15) and later affirms in 2 Timothy 4:16:

                At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me.”

                If you feel like you are “disposable” and discarded by most, I feel your pain. It is not easy to go through life surrounded by enmity or apathy. Very few of us are popular, charismatic or oblivious and immune to the pain.

                If you are in this situation, there is nothing you can do to change your circumstances. You can try to be more useful, stronger or friendlier, but it won’t work. Some people will still despise you and attempt to discard you, no matter what you say or do…or don’t do.

                There is nothing that you can do. Accept that fact and perhaps you will one day be a better, happier person. There is nothing that you can do to have others accept you, but have no fear because you are already accepted by Christ (Ephesians 1:6) and He will never cast you out (John 6:37), forsake or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5), because He is always with us (Matthew 28:20).

                A . G.

 

               

               

 

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

“Under a Cloud”

                                            

                Clouds are usually associated with negative things or events. There are even a few expressions that clearly connect clouds with bad or evil things such as:

                “He is under a cloud of suspicion”

                “He is clouding the issue”

                “A cloud hangs over you”

                There are other expressions similar to these, but you get the point. A cloudy day is usually considered horrible, while a sunny day is wonderful. I agree that a day filled with sunshine is more desirable, especially for outdoor activities; but clouds are important and necessary.

                Clouds give us much needed shade in hot days. Clouds also carry the blessed raindrops that fall on the dry ground and gives life to plants, animals and humans alike. You could say that the rain is like kisses of love from heaven.

                In the Bible, clouds have a preeminent place.

                Noah saw a sign of God’s covenant in a cloud

                I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:13)

                The Israelites were guided and protected by a cloud

                “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” (Exodus 13:21)

                Jesus ascended to heaven in a cloud

                “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

                The Rapture of the church will be in the clouds

                Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

                Our Lord will return in the clouds

                Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)

                So you see, my beloved, being under a cloud is not a bad thing after all. Clouds are vehicles of manifold blessings. Clouds bring the much needed rain and clouds will bring our Lord and Savior very soon. Look up and praise God for all his creation and especially for the clouds.

                I pray that some of us will be alive on that blessed and glorious day, when a lowly cloud will usher the King of kings as He comes to rapture his church. Come soon Lord Jesus!

                A. G.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

    “TRANSFORMERS”

                        

                Last night, I took some of my grandchildren to watch the sixth installment of the “Transformers” movie series entitled “Bumblebee.” If you have watched any of the previous films, you already know the plot: A human finds a car that has the ability to morph or transform itself into a fighting robot of gigantic proportions. The rest of the movie is a series of battles between the “Autobots” (good robots) and the “Decepticons” (evil robots).

                The only lesson I learned from this CGI production was the name itself. I have already forgotten most of the “plot” of the movie, but the name “Transformers” have stuck with me. Yes, it might be cool (and really scary) to have a Transformer car, but we already have something much, much better.

                The Bible teaches that Christians have been transformed by the power of God.

                “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

            And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

                Our transformation began at the moment of our repentance from our sins and conversion to Christ. In Him we are born again (John 3:3) to a new kind of life. Real life, abundant life (John 10:10) and eternal life begins with Christ.

                The believer’s transformation is also an ongoing process that continues throughout our lives and ends in heaven, when we will undergo our final transformation. This process is known as sanctification, which is our growth in holiness in Christ.

               “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”                                (2 Corinthians 3:18)

               There is only one TRANSFORMER in the entire universe and his name is Jesus Christ. We have been saved and transformed by Him and now He uses us as agents and messengers of his life-saving, life-transforming gospel.

              “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

               A. G.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter