Pastor's Meditations

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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Full House

              In the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a very popular TV show called “Full House.” It was a hilarious family show and safe for the family most of the time. Four adults and four children lived under the same room, and many comedic situations developed from their daily interactions.

            There was a time in my life when I lived in a full house myself. My wife and I raised three rambunctious boys and at times, it seemed as if we had ten or more children running around the house instead of only three.

            In a sense, I really miss those days, although I enjoy the peace and quiet of my empty nest. This peace has been shattered this week by the screams, the cries and the laughter of my grandsons. Yes, my house has been invaded by noisy and smelly little creatures; my home is a full house once again, at least for a few weeks.

            A full house is a blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127:3-5 speaks about it in this way:

            “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
            The fruit of the womb is a reward.
              Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
           So are the children of one’s youth.
           Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;”

          There are many empty nests in the United States. These homes have no children in them. Some of them (like mine) are empty because their kids are all grown up and have a life of their own now. This is normal and good. Children grow up and then marry and move out. It is painful to say goodbye to them, but we are happy that now they have their own home and family…life must go on.

         On the other hand, there are houses (I cannot call them “homes”) that are empty because the parents have decided to either not have children, or they just kill them. Since January 22, 1973, almost 60 million babies have been aborted in the United States.

         Israel sacrificed many of their children to the idol Moloch in the Old Testament. The US performs their sacrifices in Planned Parenthood clinics and other similar “altars” today. If God did not forgive his chosen people, do you think that He will overlook the American Holocaust?

         I pray that the killing stops and that we all seek God’s forgiveness. Personally, I think that this nation has crossed the line and only a revival from heaven can stop God’s judgment.

         I pray that all of us can have full houses. Let our homes be filled with children, with laughter, with love,  with peace, with forgiveness, but most of all with God and his Word.

Alexander Gonzalez

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Follow the prayers

                          

            Praying is absolutely necessary for a Christian---I would say it is vital and indispensable. Some have compared prayer to breathing and I would agree. A person cannot survive more than a few minutes without breathing and a believer can’t prosper in his walk with the Lord without prayer.

            What is the best part of praying?

            A more spiritual Christian than me would say it is praying itself. There is nothing better than spending time alone with our God, praising Him, interceding for others and pouring out our hearts in his presence. This is what prayer is all about.

            Others, a little bit less spiritual than me perhaps, would argue that the best part of praying is receiving the answers we have prayed for. There is great joy when we hear testimonies of healings, miracles, providential interventions by God and many other blessings as a result of our prayers.

            For me, the best part of praying is being part of the answer to my own prayers. It is good to pray and spend time alone with God; no doubt about that. I confess that my prayer life is not always what it should be, and that I want to learn to pray better and longer; but I do pray and I rejoice when I spend time with my Lord and when He answers me.

            I rejoice even more when He uses me as part of the answer to the prayers. It is good, for example to pray for my sons, but it is better to pray for them with my lips and to help them with my own hands. I have prayed that God will help them spiritually and I talk to them about Christ; I have prayed that God prospers their financial situation and we have also been used by God to give them a hand when they need it; I have prayed for God to help them in many other situations and we have been blessed to take part in some of them.

            For whom or what do you pray for? If you pray for the salvation of others, you might need to be like Isaiah who answered his own prayer. He said: “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Perhaps you can’t be a missionary, but you can pray for them and send money to them and write letters (or emails, texts, etc.) to them, and tell those around you about Jesus.

            Be the answers to your own prayers whenever possible. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ. Become also a follower of your prayers, or be like James says, “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves(James 1:22).

            Alexander Gonzalez

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Coming Home

                                                          

            I like to travel all over the world. I have traveled to a few different countries in the last ten years, most of them on missionary trips. Sometimes I wish I was a millionaire so I would be able to travel even more.

            Among my favorite destinations to visit are Israel, Hawaii, Alaska (only in the summer), Australia, the Canary Islands and almost every nation located along the Mediterranean Sea. There are many beautiful places on this Earth that are worthy of a visit.

            Being a millionaire would allow me to travel to some of those exotic locations, but I would rather be a famous (or at least well-known) evangelist to take the Gospel all over the world.

            One can dream, right?

            Right now, I find myself on a plane, traveling once again. This time, though, I am coming home. I have spent two weeks helping my son in Omaha, but now is time to return to my own house.

            Thinking about this latest trip reminds me that I am not home yet. No, I am not referring to the fact that the plane hasn’t yet landed in sunny Florida, but that I have not arrived in heaven, my real home.

            I enjoyed my time in Omaha with my family, but it was also filled with work, pain and discomfort. The same happens to all Christians on this Earth. We might have a few days of joy here and there in this planet, but there is also pain, sadness, stress and even death.

            I can’t wait for the plane to land in Orlando, Florida. The cold days in Nebraska will soon be only but a memory. I can’t wait for the day when I reach my heavenly home. This world is too cold, dark and filled with sin and death. This world is not my home.

            Hebrews 11:13-16 summarizes my feelings so much better:

             “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Emphasis mine)

            Lord Jesus, please come and take me home with you. This is the best place for me (Philippians 1:23). This is my real country (Philippians 3:20). This is where I want to be for all eternity.

            Alexander Gonzalez

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Footprints in the snow

            Almost everyone has seen, heard or read the famous anonymous poem entitled “Footprints in the Sand” in which a man always sees two sets of footprints in the sand as he walks with the Lord, except when he is going through hard times. On those dark times, he only sees the footprints of the Savior that carries him.

            Lately, I have been following the footprints of my oldest son Daniel, as we walk, not on the sands of Florida, but in the snow covered streets of Omaha, Nebraska. My latest “adventure” with my sons has taken me now to this place, which is usually very nice, except in the middle of a frigid, snowy, frozen, cold and stormy winter season.

            The next time I hear the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” I will break that radio! Whoever wrote that famous melody wasn’t freezing like I have been in this past week. Every time I walk in the snow, I get frostbite on my feet and I look like a bona fide terrorist or bank robber, because I have to cover my face just to open the door.

            One of the ways in which I have tried to minimize the damage, is to literally walk on the footprints left by my son. As he walks before me, he displaces most of the snow and I am able to walk more comfortably and safely.

            This reminds me of a few Bible verses.

            1 Peter 2:21 declares:  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

            As we follow Christ in this world, we will encounter persecutions and endure trials far worse than my snowy adventures. Following His footprints assures us of two things: First, that He is with us every day and in every situation (Matthew 28:20); and secondly, that our burdens and sufferings will be lighter (Matthew 11:20).

           The best way to avoid many pitfalls in this life is to follow Jesus. We must place our feet directly on top of his “footprints” or teachings to walk on the solid ground of the Gospel. In addition to this, we must follow Paul’s advice about wearing the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) including: “….having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”

           To walk in the snow, you need a pair of good waterproof boots (which my benevolent son quickly provided) and to follow Jesus we need to wear the gospel shoes and to walk in His steps every day.

            Alexander Gonzalez

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