Pastor's Meditations

The Power of Fear

                        

                Fear is a powerful agent of chaos and destruction. Our world is saturated by fear and many have fallen prisoner in its satanic claws. There are innumerable types of fears or phobias, as the scientists call it. People are afraid of failure; afraid of animals; afraid of terrorists; afraid of the future; afraid of sickness and death; afraid of dentists and in the case of teachers, afraid of students.

                Our schools have become the latest target of attacks. Teachers must not only struggle to teach unruly and rebellious children, but now there is the ever-increasing possibility of gunmen coming into our campuses to create havoc and destroy precious lives.

                I cannot begin to tell you how disgusted and disappointed I am with the whole situation. My main goal now as a teacher is not to instruct my students or teach them manners, but to show them how to create barricades or how to run for their lives in the event of an attack.

                This is no way to live! I refuse to live in fear! 2 Timothy 1:7 informs us that,

                “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

                Furthermore, God has commanded us to not be afraid many times in the Bible. Joshua 1:9, for example, reads:

               “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

               Yes, fear is powerful, but our God is All-Powerful. Millions live in fear today because they do not fear (revere, honor, respect, love and obey) the Lord. The converse is also true: If you fear God, then there is nothing to fear---not even death.

              Jesus said,

             “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

            It is time for us to be cautious and prepared, but there is never any acceptable time or season for us to be afraid. When I say “afraid” I am not referring to normal fears that lead us to do that which is right (e.g. rescuing someone that is drowning; grooming ourselves before leaving home so not to scare others; refraining from jumping from tall buildings, etc.). There is another fear; a fear that paralyzes and defeats. This fear is nothing but hopelessness and lack of faith.

           Fear can only be overcome by faith, but not faith in our schools, social institutions or political leaders. Faith in Jesus is the only power that destroys fear and overcomes the world (1 John 5:4, 5).

           There is fear and faith. What choose ye?

           Alexander Gonzalez

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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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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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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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