Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent 2015

Today is the first day of Advent. For many this means absolutely nothing. In our American consumeristic culture, it marks the beginning of holiday shopping deals, a season long of special coffees, and making travel plans to visit family.

A youtuber, Maple Anglican, provides a nice overview of what advent is.

Advent actually marks the beginning of the Christian calendar. Advent is a Latin term that literally means "coming". Christians kick off the year preparing our hearts for the second coming of the Christ. You see Christ came the first time to reveal Himself and ransom people for God. His second coming will bring judgement and separation of the sheep and goats. To some it will be met with joy. To others it will be a time of great sorrow and regret. 

This season of Advent reminds me of the story Jesus told of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids[a] took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids[c] got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids[d] came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.[e]

Friends, we must be diligent to prepare ourselves for "that Day". We must make sure our lamps have oil. We do not know the time the Master will return. It will come upon us like a thief in the night.

I know it is easy to get distracted during the holidays. We all want to be able to give gifts and see our loved ones. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Yet, we are commanded to always seek first the kingdom of God. Instead of focusing on what our culture says the season is about, let us fix our eyes on Jesus first and foremost. 

Men, take your family to church. As the dad goes, so goes the family.  Quit putting your hobbies in the way of your family and God. It's not the mom's responsibility to lead your family. It's yours! Quit being a coward. Man up and show your family what it looks like to seek the Lord. That's another blog post for another day.

This Advent season, be diligent in seeking the Lord. Prepare your heart for His coming. Do not say to yourself, "tomorrow I will seek the Lord." None of us know the day or the hour when He will come. Be ready. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Thanksgiving, RELAX

We are officially on the eve of the big day! It's truly a moment for us all to reminisce and be thankful. It's a time for us to enjoy the good company of family and friends. It's also a time for us all to enjoy eating good food!

I can't emphasize the enjoy good food part enough. I have stated in a previous post about healthy living that it's important to have a healthy diet. When I say healthy diet, I'm not talking about binge diets many of us roller coast on. I'm talking about an overall lifestyle of eating healthy. It's important to eat a good balanced diet consisting of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. We need to eat good meat, assortments of vegetables, and fruits. We also need to relax and enjoy the holiday food.

Nothing is worse than being "that guy" or "that girl" who during holidays sticks with water only and snoodily looks at everyone else eating turkey and dressing while rummaging through a salad. Here's some advice from someone who by grace has survived congestive heart failure. Enjoy the holiday food! Eat the turkey, ham, dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato pies, deviled eggs, etc. Live a little!

When I was initially recovering from heart failure in 2003, I was placed on a strict low sodium diet. I went hardcore and monitored every single milligram of sodium in my diet. When I would report back to my heart doctor every few weeks, I didn't hesitate to let them know how I was following "the plan". Well, after about two months of visiting my doctor, he frustratedly told me to "chill out!", in his Indian accent. He said I needed to not be afraid to live a little and enjoy a snickers or slice of pizza every now and then. He wasn't telling me to just drop my diet, however he was telling me to relax.

During this holiday season, RELAX. Enjoy the company of family, friends, and food.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fixing our eyes on Jesus

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." - Hebrews 12:1-4

2016 is almost here. For many, 2015 was a spectacular year. They grew spiritually, health is the best it's ever been, and their career is taking off. For others, 2015 was painful. Perhaps the loss of a loved one, a break up or divorce, a career set back, or their own health is declining. For these people they can only hope the new year will be kinder. 

Life doesn't always come at us as we expect and rarely does. We need Someone who is stronger than our world. We need Someone who understands what it's like to live on this earth and face adversity. We need Someone who understands as humans we fall and sin. We need Someone who not only knows we fall and sin, but can lift us up out of our weaknesses and sinfulness. We need Someone who will deal mercifully with us and not as our sins deserve. We need Someone who can restore our brokenness. 

I want to encourage you, no matter where you are spiritually, financially, or emotionally, to fix your eyes upon Someone who lives for you. Maybe you find yourself in the group of people where life can't get any better. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Perhaps 2015 was a disaster for you and seemingly all hope is gone. Fix your eyes on Jesus.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Jesus Christ is perfect theology

John 14:6-9
 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know[d] my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Colossians 1:15-19
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in[h] him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in[i] him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

Hebrews 1:3
He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being

For the Christian, Jesus Christ is perfect theology. Any belief or perception we have about God has to be checked with the Person of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who reveals to mankind who God is. It is also Jesus who reveals to mankind God's intention of what humanity should look like. 
It is in the Person of Jesus Christ the law and the prophets are fulfilled (Matthew 5:17). Is it any wonder that when the disciples saw The Lord transfigured on the mountain, Moses and Elijah were seen with Him? Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) are the Old Testament. 
It's all about Jesus. 
Many times our religious life gets off focus and we don't keep the main thing the main thing. In Luke 24, we read the story about two men on the road to Emmaus. They were followers of Jesus. They had walked with Him and seen Him minister to many people. They had hopes He was the long awaited messiah, but after Jesus' crucifixion they had their doubts. Even though they had been around the Lord and did religious stuff, they failed to see the main point. Like these disciples, we can sometimes get caught up in our religious routines and attempt to make God fit our agenda. When it doesn't workout how we thought it ought to, we get sad and upset. Well that's exactly how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt. It wasn't until Jesus began explaining from the law and prophets that everything that had transpired the past few days were necessary and about Him. He then went with them into the village and broke bread with them. When He broke bread with them, their eyes were opened to everything He explained to them. Even Holy Communion is about Him. It was as the disciples broke bread with Jesus that He was made known to them. 
We don't have to try and figure out who God is. He has come in the person of Jesus Christ to reveal Himself fully. There are no secrets. He stands at the door of our hearts. Will we open them to Him?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Something to share on loneliness

In addition to utilizing the Book of Common Prayer for personal and family devotions, I have also been using an app on my phone from Holy Trinity Brompton Church. HTB is an Anglican Church in London led by Fr. Nicky Gumbel. The app they created is called Bible in One Year (BiOY). It's daily scripture readings from Old and New testaments as well as the Psalms and Proverbs. Each day has a short commentary on the scriptures as well as a brief essay on the themes for the daily readings. Below is the essay for today's theme. It was too good not to share. 

"I remember reading an article in The Big Issue (the magazine sold by, and in aid of, the homeless) called ‘Single Lives’. It pointed out that most people’s image of loneliness in London is of a frail old lady stuck on the 24th floor of a block of flats. In reality, it could equally be a young, fashionably dressed guy trying desperately to make conversation with a girl standing next to him in a crowded bar. Being surrounded by so many people only compounds the feeling of isolation.

Mother Teresa said, ‘Loneliness and the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty.’ Loneliness is one of the greatest problems facing humanity today.

‘The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms,’ writes Desmond Tutu. He continues, ‘We are made for complementarity. We are created for a delicate network of relationships, of interdependence with our fellow human beings... We belong in one family – God’s family, the human family... the greatest good is communal harmony.’

God does not intend for you to be lonely and isolated. Loneliness has been described as ‘a homesickness for God’. God created you for community – calling you into relationship with him and with other human beings."

You can download their BiOY app for free on your smartphone. 

God bless.