Watching you while waiting, sitting on the folding metal chair, listening to the noise of the cars go by – I wonder what is in your mind? How you are feeling knowing that your time is closing in and soon you will no longer be a part of the only life that you have known.
Would you have done something different in life? Your mind wanders off and as you gaze at the people on the street – I can not help but continue to watch you as you go deeper in your thoughts.
Each minute that passes by…the tick-tock of the clock seems to get louder – thoughts that drift you back to the past.
The future seems invisible, the present feels so short, and time becomes limited.
What else is there? What more to say? Listening to the sound of the beat of your heart and then….silence.
As I sit here listening to the instrumental music of Tim Janis, a whirlwind of thoughts kept pouring. The pictures of devastated buildings, elderly who are fleeing, and faces of innocent children keep appearing in my mind. The news of war in Ukraine and chaos in other countries reflecting the images of suffering, poverty, and pain is difficult to bear.
I started giving up eating sweets and desserts as a sacrifice for the lent season. I figured that a small sacrifice is not so bad. One of our colleagues at work was teasing us about this Bundt cake that he loves so much and even posting it today in one of our slack messages enticing how good it looks. He said today they have a BOGO (buy one and get one free) – wow! I thought that is pretty good. We started teasing him about it.
Then I thought to myself, I can go back to eating sweets on Easter! But the more I think about it, the more I want to deprive myself. I have thought about how there are so many things I used to spend money on – ticket shows, restaurants, gifts for families and friends, and other miscellaneous stuff. Lately, increasingly, I feel that depriving yourself of certain luxuries is not a dreadful thing. Every time I look at my debit card planning to spend, my thoughts go out to those images of people suffering. The pain that they must be feeling every time they wait for medical and food supplies that comes in delivered to them, they wait in line to receive a small plastic bag of essentials. What’s inside? who knows what. I am sure not a lot. And yet, the waiting never bothered them. They are simply happy that they receive whatever is handed to them at that moment.
There were parts in my life that I went through hunger and abandonment. Ironically, at that time, I did not feel that I was missing anything. I accepted the situation as is, never questioned life, and never spoke to anyone about my circumstances. In my teens, I was just with my mom – prayer is all that I know and simply living one day at a time. Hunger was something that my mom and I never talked about. Isolation at its worst and yet I was fine. Happy? Not sure what that means. I am sure it was not a happy time for my mom. All I have seen was her perseverance and hoped that things will be better.
Seeing the people in Ukraine, it breaks my heart, to see the faces of the children for they do not understand why they need to leave their homes behind, why they do not go to school anymore or why they cannot play outside with their friends. The elderly need to walk miles to get to a safe shelter. These are the things that are difficult to explain. What they know, is that they just need to keep on going and follow what seems like anybody else (their neighbors, family members, friends, and even strangers) are doing. Not even knowing when they will ever return to the place, they have known all their lives. Accepting the situation presented as is – they cannot question life and cannot speak to any one of their circumstances. Perseverance is all they know and all they can do to survive with the hope that the situation will be better.
Thinking of going back to eating desserts? I have a feeling it will not be the same sweet taste. Staring at my debit card – for sure it will remain tucked away for a long while.
Lent is the season when we reexamine our lives in accordance with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Whether you are a devout Christian or just beginning to know Christ, you are taught that Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” to the Kingdom of God (John 14:6-7). His life and teachings are the fundamental way to live our lives.
Reexamining our lives – our actions, our thoughts, and words that were spoken are simply not performed just during lent. If we really want to connect with God, it is essential that we practice examining ourselves at the end of each day. You would be surprised how much you have missed or have forgotten the true message of Christ when He said that the greatest two commandments are (1st ) “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (2nd ) “to Love others as we love ourselves” ( John 22:37-39 ). Why do you think Jesus summed up the ten commandments into two?
If you have been watching, listening, and reading the current events, you are aware of the global pain and suffering of mankind – from sickness, violence, injustices, environmental destruction, and war. You wonder sometimes, will this ever end? Will this ever stop? Is this how it all ends for us?
Most of the evil events that we are experiencing in life are the result of our false beliefs, carelessness, and stubborn character. Instead of pursuing the teaching of Christ, we pursue our desires, and we rely on what we know (or what we think we know).
Revisiting your thoughts allows your mind and spirit to seek the truth – the truth that our submission to Christ does not mean that we are restricted from the “free will” that God gave us as His gift but understanding and accepting that we need the Holy Spirit to guide us on how we should use that gift to pursue and have a life with Christ with contentment.
Not to seek power over others, not to store wealth in this current life or to establish a name for ourselves, but to build our character through the Spiritual Discipline of fasting, silence, prayer, solitude, chastity, and sacrifice so we can serve God with our utmost love for Him.
Surrendering to Christ is to find true joy amid suffering, to appreciate the blessings that we have, and share those blessings with others. Submission is not surrendering to our selfish desires but submitting to the Love of God.
Therefore, the question should be “Would you rather know and wait for an answer to come, or would you start living your life for Christ and be prepared for His coming and live with Him eternally?” We are only given two paths to follow – which one would you choose?
“Almighty God, in the busyness of our lives, we have fallen into the trap of complacency. We get so wrapped up with our daily concerns and desires of this world and have forgotten that you are our Father, creator of heaven and earth, that you have given us your only begotten Son, Jesus as our redeemer that through Him we receive eternal salvation. Help us Oh Lord to reflect on our daily lives and grant us the strength to fully surrender to you. In Your name, we pray, Amen.”
Recently, I was into a deep conversation with someone on how God speaks through our hearts. How he surrounds us with the right people, at the right moment, at the right time. How he protects us and leads our lives if we allow him.
During my conversation, the discussion went on as to how God chooses people as surrogates to conduct His blessings. It is apparent how he employs us to deliver to those who need his grace.
Jesus reminded his disciples to love others in John 13:34-35 A teaching that was passed on to Christians and so shall we abide.
However, he also warns us where we should entrust our minds and hearts. That we must remember that it is because of his great love for us that Jesus surrendered his life to bring us salvation and lead us to Abba, our Father. It is only through Him, we can have eternal life and be reunited with our Father in Heaven John14:6-7.
Colossians 3:1-4 reminds us of where we should set our minds on. Yes, I concur that we appreciate the people who bring us blessings, but our hearts and mind should be set only to God, our Father, and not on people, for they are only representing the teachings of Jesus, conducting his works, and sharing the blessings they have received from God. Just as we, the receiver shall too, pass on the blessings we received to others who are in need.
It is truly what lies in our mind and our hearts how we magnify God in every thought and action. We must check in with God when we help others – are we doing it to satisfy our happiness and desires, expecting the reward that we have set in our minds? or are we doing it to bring honor and glory to Him?
“Heavenly Father, guide our minds and our hearts to do things out of our love for you. Remind us that every good thing we have comes from you. Help us to set aside our personal desires when we do good things for others, remove our selfish pride, and transform our spirit so that our intentions will always remain pure and holy.
I have been called different names. My name has been mispronounced several times by people. So, I always give out the cut version to make it easier for people to say it. Besides, it sounds better to hear it said correctly.
Why is our name important to us? What does our name signify?
Back in 2011, I was visiting Italy with my daughter. As we entered St. Peter’s Basilica and looked up, my daughter said “mom, your name is up there. No wonder the locals can pronounce your name correctly.” I looked up and there printed in Latin “HINC VNA FIDES MVNDO REFVLGENT” that translates “From Here a Single Faith Shines Throughout the World.” Wow! I said to myself I knew my name in Latin means “faith” but seeing it written out that way gave me a distinctive perspective of the significance of my own name – it was beautiful and meaningful. I never thought of its meaning that way.
When we pray, we say, “In Jesus’s name or Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord…” God’s name in Hebrew in the Old Testament is Jehovah. We give reverence to His name.
This season of Advent, we celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus and the significance of His name as written in Matthew 1:22-24 and prophesized in Isaiah 7:14.
Immanuel “God is with Us” is the fulfillment of God’s promise that He will send us a Messiah (God Himself) in Jesus Christ. His name will be praised and glorified. It signifies that God is always in us and with us when we foster a relationship with Him.
On our best days, our worst days, in every moment, and through highs and lows, He is Immanuel. He never changes – He is as in the beginning and in the end. The ALPHA and OMEGA.
His name transcends every other name.
As we celebrate with family and friends this holiday season, let us be reminded that in the center of our lives God is “THE” only name that we shall find Love, Peace, and Joy.
Each year in the western world, Thanksgiving is a well-celebrated holiday. It is the beginning of seeing joyful faces, the glow of hope, and the time when families prepare to visit their loved ones across the miles.
This year is even more exhilarating – when families were confined in their homes due to the 2020 pandemic and Zoom and Skype were overloaded with virtual gatherings. This year, everyone is subsequently enthusiastic to see the faces of their loved ones – to kiss them and hug them close to their hearts. Those moments of long hugs are certainly undeniably incomparable to virtual moments.
As I ponder and look back, I cannot help but feel so grateful for the difference of what a year can make. To watch people, gather in places again with smiles and excitement on their faces (even with a mask, their eyes just glow). When old and young alike celebrate their moments of love and joy together. When the sick still find courage in the middle of their health crisis…
It is such a wonder that we have an amazing God! His love and mercy are overwhelming. When for a moment our world stops – He is still working in the background crafting things to show us His perfect love. That hope – is on the way!
“There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” ~ Psalm 86:8-12
Once or twice a week, my daughter who lives about two hours away from home would call me on her lunch break from work. We would chat for 3-5 minutes, try to catch up and share brief updates on our jobs and life in general.
Each time we hang up, for a moment, I would look back on how we shared our lives in the past together. It was always me and her against all odds. We did not have much but we were always happy.
Recently, after each call, I would feel sad and sensitive because I must remind myself that she can only spare 5 minutes of her time in our calls.
A wise person gave his profound response when I shared these sentiments, “let us flip your statement for a moment and put a different spin on it. Think of how she uses her last 5 minutes of her break. She gives you a call.” I knew he was right. Here I am, too caught up in my own emotions that I forgot the precious time she spends with me. She could have easily looked at her social media for 5 minutes or chatted with a friend but she chose to pick up the phone to call me, to hear my voice, and to listen.
In our busiest moments, how many times in a day or in a week do we chose to spend 5 minutes of our time to praise God? To talk to Him. To appreciate His blessings. Do we spare a moment to think of Him throughout the day?
God appreciates every moment that we spend time with Him. He does not dwell on how long or short our prayers are. He is happy just to hear from us.
For that reason, in Philippians 4:6 Apostle Paul tells us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
“Father, help us not to indulge ourselves in re-living moments in our past but to appreciate what you have for us in the present. Bless the people around us who extend their time and effort to hear our voice. May you also, help us to hear Your voice in our hearts so that we may pause for a moment and allow You to come to our lives. It is in Jesus’ name, we pray.”
Wherever you are now in your life, trust, and hope in Christ. Though you may find it hard to see the good in challenging times, focus and remain in the presence of God, and allow your mind to wander through the beauty and the blessings of life.
As Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
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