Pastor's Meditations

Get Up Again and Fight

             Today is the world championship fight between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor.  Millions will be watching the fight and millions of dollars are being wagered (wasted) in Las Vegas.

            Who is going to win? Everyone asks.

            My answer:  Who cares? Champions come and go and all of them will soon be forgotten. Nobody remembers the champions from yesteryears. Their fame and their money are gone and they are now too old to fight.

            Are Christians ever too old to keep fighting? I have felt like that lately. I have been knockdown several times in the past few weeks and sometimes I don’t have the strength or the will to get up again.

            When boxers get knockdown, they have people in their corner telling them to get up again. It is good for a boxer to know that he is not alone in the ring. It is good to have people around you to clean your cuts, to give you water, to dry your sweat and to motivate you to stay in the fight until you win.

            We are also in a fight. Every day we must fight,

           “…not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,                                                                      against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:14)

            Our enemy is numerous and strong. We must,

             “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

           We will be attacked almost every day one way or the other. We may suffer persecution or endure temptation or even be knockdown by personal attacks. There is very little we can do about that. We have little or no control over our circumstances or the people that surround us and sometimes we can barely control ourselves.

           Nevertheless, there are voices calling for us in our “corner.” I can hear the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin and sinful reactions; I can remember the Word of God reassuring me about the future; I can listen to Jesus telling me to get up and follow him and I can feel the love of the Father all around.

            I need to stop writing now because I need to get up again…and fight

           Alexander Gonzalez

            

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No Substitute

           There are people in our schools that are extremely important. As a teacher, I value the contributions of substitute teachers, for without them many academic instittutions would be forced to close its doors. It is comforting to know that when I have to miss school for any reason, a substitute will take my place. Nowadays, substitutes are just a click away on my computer. Finding a good substitute is another story.

           This world is also filled with substitutes. There is a bunny in the spring, a turkey in the fall and red clad fat man in the winter. They, along with many others are very poor (and evil) substitutes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the creation of the world, mankind has looked for many substitutes to worship them instead of the blessed Creator. We have worshipped all the hosts of heaven and the beasts of the field. Even Israel, the redeemed people of God, worshiped a golden calf or bull, instead of praising their Deliverer.

           Christianity is no exception to the rule. The church of Jesus Christ started well and it expanded to all the known world, but soon heresies, idols and false teachers infiltrated our ranks. The Roman Catholic church is a clear example of this perversion. Their local "churches" look like old pagan temples filled with idols (they call them saints and virgins), candles, incense and chants. The worst and most blatant substitution of all is the Pope. He is the bishop of Rome, the Pontifex Maximus and the vicar of Christ on earth. This last title (vicar) means that he is Christ's substitute in this world. 

           There is no substitute for Christ! No one can take his place; not the pope, not church leaders, not famous preachers or Christian singers. There is only one Jesus, the only begotten Son of God and God in the flesh. He will never share his divine glory with anyone. Teachers and pastors need substitutes from time to time, but Jesus is irreplaceable, indivisible, and indispensable.

            The most beautiful part of all this is that Jesus is our eternal Substitute. He died on the cross in our place and He intercedes on our behalf every day before the Father. Furthermore His substitutionary work reaches every part of our lives, in fact, our lives are not our own for He bought us with His blood (1 Corinthians 6:20) and has substituted His life for ours (Galatians 2:20).

 Alexander Gonzalez

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Out of the (Prayer) Closet

                We are living in a very "tolerant" and open era. Nowadays, many people are encouraged to "come out of the closet" and display their immorality for all to see. Oh, how proud they are! In fact, the LGBT (I think I'm missing a few letters) community celebrate their sinful lifestyle with parades and festivities known as "Pride Days."

                In addition to all this, the liberal media portrays these individuals as victims and heroes through movies, TV shows, the printed media and the news. They also compare their "liberation" to the struggles and victories of the Civil Rights Movement. So, if anyone speaks against homosexuals and the rest of that community, it is now considered a "hate crime."

                The homosexuals lived a secret life in their closets for many years. No one knew about their sin because it was considered taboo by society, but now we can see many coming out of their closets like a plague of rats and cockroaches escaping from an old house.  

                My question to you is:

                When are we Christians going to come out of our prayer closets?

                The Bible admonishes us to pray to our God in secret. We can pray in public during congregational prayer, but for the most part our prayer life must be conducted in private. This is our time with our God. We must go into our prayer closet or room and pour our hearts before the Lord. Jesus said in Matthew 6:6,

                "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place"

                Yes brothers and sisters, we must go IN our closets to pray every day, but we also need to get OUT to proclaim the Good News to the world. Moses went into Mount Sinai and spent many days in sweet communion with the Lord, but then he came down to bring God's Word (the Law) to his people. You and I must pray to our God and preach to this world. Don't get so comfortable in your "closet" with Jesus that you don't want to share Him with others.

Alexander Gonzalez

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The Valley Song

My soul is cast down / I am a prisoner of fear

I don't want to drown / Lord, are you even here?

 

I cry out your name / Amid my great distress

I long for your embrace / For I am alone and depressed

 

Who can save me from this situation? / Who can change my life and set me free?

I call unto you, Lord of my salvation / Please answer and deliver me

 

I cannot carry this burden alone / I don't even want to take another step

Bring to my heart a brand new song / And bury all my failures and regrets

 

I want to follow you and never stop / To be a light that shines in the dark

I don't want to quit or ever give up / But sometimes the pain is too much

 

I will sing your praises again / I will worship you in this valley of death

I will lift and exalt your Holy Name / I will love you until my last breath

 

I don't see the end of this tunnel 

I don't know when this storm will subside / All I know is that you are by my side

That your purpose is faithful and true

All I know is that I need you, Jesus

And that is why I crying to you.

 

Alexander Gonzalez

 

 

 

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"Lord Help Me"- Three Things to Pray for Yourself from the Psalms

In the Scriptures we have several examples of how we can pray for each other (eg. Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12,). But as I have read through the Psalms these last few months I have noticed some ways that the Psalmist prayed for himself. They are worthy of our consideration and imitation.

We should pray for the inclination of our hearts.

"Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!" (Psalm 119:36) All of us would have to admit that there are times, when our hearts are just not in to doing what we know that we need to do.  We sometimes say, "my heart is just not in it" or "I just don't feel like it." Sometimes we just don't feel like reading the Bible or praying, or worshipping.  Our hearts are suceptable to being captured by the material things of this world, in such a way, that our appetite for spiritual things becomes weak. In those times, we may feel alieneated from God, but it is in those times that we need to cry out to Him, to do a work in our hearts! The Psalmist evidently knew that experience. So he prayed that God would incline his heart toward the Word of God, and away from selfish gain or covetousness.

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Read more: "Lord Help Me"- Three Things to Pray for Yourself from the Psalms