Pastor's Meditations

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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Secret Santa; Secret Sin (Part 2)


            In my last entry I started talking about the gift exchange known as “secret Santa” and I was planning to correlate it to our secret sins, but I was quickly sidetracked on a Santa rant. I do not hate the original Nicholas (if he was a real man), but I totally despise the idea of a magical and powerful being named Santa Claus.

            While the practice of “secret Santa” might be harmless up to a point, the presence of secret sins in our lives poses a real danger. Every human being on this earth has at least one sin that is kept hidden from the rest of the world.

            There are sins in our lives that are public or semi-public. Everyone knows that we are not perfect and therefore we might have no problem confessing that sometimes we fall prey to anger, depression, doubts, fears, a little gossip and the occasional “white” lie.

            Oh, but there are dark and perverse sins that we would never confess to anyone. These are the sins that we keep under lock and key. You know what I’m talking about. You have at least one (if not more) of those “pet” sins.  If others could see those secret sins, they would be horrified, appalled and disgusted.

            These are the sins that bring us comfort (for a short time) and shame (for a long time). These are the deep seated hatred; the enslaving lust; the thirst for the forbidden; the perverse thoughts and the fleshly passions.

            One of the reasons that we can be sure that the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible and eternal Word, is that it publishes and condemns every sin. Most biographies exalt their subjects, but the Bible proclaims the sins of the kings, prophets, apostles and every believer.

            I don’t know what your secret sin is and I don’t want to find out. I pray that God helps you overcome it and I hope that you will pray that others (myself included) will have victory over their sins.

            In Christ, we have been forgiven of every sin (Colossians 1:14). Therefore, we are free to serve God, not to sin. In fact, we don’t have the need or the inclination to sin, as we have a new nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

            It is a fact: You and I have secret sins, but there is a twofold solution to this problem. The Bible declares that:

            “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

            Confess and forsake. If confessing our secret sin is difficult, forsaking it might be almost impossible for us, but nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37). Lord, help us to confess and forsake sin and to serve you with a pure heart.

            Alexander Gonzalez

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               I went back to school today after the Thanksgiving break, and I was greeted by some students and teachers. It was good to return to my job and see a few friendly faces.

            There were some, however, that did not share my positive and optimistic outlook. Some students and a few teachers had a “salty” attitude (term used by teenagers to denote someone with a bad and contentious attitude). This kind of negative viewpoint and stance is usually very contagious, and soon other students can become “salty” as well.

            What do you do when a meal or a drink you are preparing is too salty? Well, you have several options. You can either discard the whole thing or attempt to sweeten it by adding more sugar or water.

            When it comes to relationships, the same principle applies. If your relationship with somebody has gone sour or is too salty, you can choose to end it. You may be able to terminate some love (cheating girlfriends), professional (jobs) or personal (bad friends) relationships, if they have become too salty for you.

            You cannot, however, get rid of your salty family or “spicy” spouse. Perhaps you need to add more sugar (love) in order to sweeten the relationship. I have never heard about a couple getting divorced because they loved each other too much!

            If sugar doesn’t work, then you must add more water to reduce the salt content (bad attitude) in the relationship. Water, in the Bible, is a symbol of the Word of God, which cleanses us from sin (John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26).

            There is a different type of saltiness that is good and desirable. I am referring to the salt that brings up the flavor in every meal. If you have ever eaten hospital food, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In their effort to reduce the saltiness in their food, they also reduce (and in many cases remove) any trace of flavor, taste or quality in their “meals.”

            This is what happens when believers fail to season this world with the life-giving salt of the Gospel. Jesus said,

             “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13).

                Are you salty enough in Christ? This world is filled with the wrong kind of salt. Their salt is either flavorless or too salty. The salt of Christ is just right and perfect for every person or situation. Why don’t we sprinkle some of that good salt around today?

                Alexander Gonzalez

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Secret Santa; Secret Sin (Part 1)

            The “spirit” of Christmas (whatever that is) is beginning to float around our school campus. This spirit loves candies, decorations, food and Santa---oh, how much it loves Santa Claus!

            One of the myriad of activities related to the season is the gift exchange known as “Secret Santa.” Every participant picks up a different name and gives a present to that person anonymously.

            On the surface, this activity seems harmless, fun and good (you are giving gifts to others). Personally, I have nothing against gift giving, even in Nativity (Christmas) time; just as long as we remember that it is not our birthday that it is being celebrated.

            I do have a personal grudge against Santa, however. First of all, he is not real, and celebrating anything associated with Santa (a name that means “holy” or “saint”) is a lie and an insult to Christ.

            This brings me to my second charge against Mr. Claus. He has usurped the place of honor that belongs only to the Child that was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1).

            How would you feel if, in the middle of your own birthday celebration someone else took your place of honor? What would your reaction be if he or she would blow the candles of your cake? Would you be happy if that imposter received all your gifts?

            Isn’t this what happens every season? Is all about a cute deer named Rudolph; or an “adorable” Snowman; or even a funny group of Elves; and of course, Santa---the biggest attraction of all!

            Children (and many adults) line up to seat with Santa at his throne in most malls across America and many other parts of the world. Once they reach his chair, they start praying, I mean, asking him for all sorts of toys and gifts.

            Isn’t this blasphemy?

            I don’t know who the original Claus or Nicholas was. Some say that he was a real good man and a benefactor of poor children in 3rd century Turkey. Others depict him as a legend.

           This world tends to make idols of almost everything. Good men become “saints” and good women (like Mary) become virgins. Santa falls loosely into that category, because he is a secular saint that is honored by unbelievers and many believers alike.

           Let the world celebrate Santa. I will celebrate, honor, worship and obey the Lord Jesus, who came to this world, not to bring us toys, but the best gift of all: Eternal life for those that believe in Him (John 6:47). Every real gift and all blessings come from the Father (James 1:17), not from the so-called “father Christmas” (Santa).    

           Alexander Gonzalez

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“Black (and Red) Friday”

            Today is “Black Friday” in the United States. This day has nothing to do with race or discrimination; it is a financial term dealing with the bottom line. On Black Friday is when most businesses go from being “in the red” (losing money) to being in the black (making a profit).

            Black Friday is also a direct and frontal attack upon the celebration of Thanksgiving. This precious holy day, is celebrated with a family dinner where everyone gathers around to give thanks to our God. What a beautiful and God-honoring tradition!

            A few years ago, we could still celebrate Thanksgiving unhurriedly, but not anymore. You see, Black Friday actually started on Friday morning, but now it has gone from six a.m. on Friday morning, to Thursday at midnight and as of this year, to Thursday in the afternoon.

            Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holy day, but it is an afterthought for many. Stores go from having Halloween displays to what they call Christmas (I call it Nativity) sales; bypassing Thanksgiving almost completely.

            What if I tell you that we have it all wrong and backwards? In reality, Thanksgiving comes after “Black and Red Friday” and not the other way around. Now that I have you dazed and confused, allow me to explain what I mean.

            Over 2,000 years ago, our Lord Jesus died on the cross. This event is celebrated or remembered on what is now called “Good Friday.” There is no consensus as far as the actual day of the crucifixion, as some teach that Jesus died on a Wednesday, while others assert that it was on the Friday before the Resurrection.

            The main point, however, is that Jesus did die to atone for our sins and to satisfy the righteous anger of his Father. The exact day of the week is not really mentioned in the Bible, so for the purpose of this blog I will use Friday.

            On “Black and Red Friday”, Jesus gave his life on the cross for us and because of that we can celebrate Thanksgiving, because now we have Someone to give thanks to: Our Lord, our God and our Savior.

            That “Friday” was black, because it was the darkest day in human history. On that day, humanity crucified the Creator. The darkness was not only spiritual, but physical as well (Matthew 27:45)

            That “Friday” was also red, for on that day, the precious blood of Jesus was shed for the people of God. The fact that you and I are saved today, is the direct result of having been washed in the cleansing, saving and forgiving blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5).

            Alexander Gonzalez

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