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.
Grilled chicken with roasted veggie potato corn cake, fondue and green beans
This recipe is for a full meal. You can cook the full meal (see the following steps for each individual side) or you can prepare each dish to serve as part of other meals. Serves 4. https://www.farmtofork.com/chefs/jet-aguirre/
Two weeks ago, it was my turn to lead our life group. I have always wanted to speak about the Holy Spirit. I got excited because this is something that I have always felt strongly about. A lot of things came into my mind – how I have always felt “its” presence in my choices, helped me to be mindful, and provided me wisdom in my everyday life.
Then for a moment my mind went from enthusiasm to inquietude. The challenge is where to start. I was not sure how I would simplify and illustrate my message and yet provide a beautiful justified and divine depiction of what I would say. After all, the Holy Spirit is GOD.
That same week, on a Sunday, I was listening to Pastor Zach from the Church of Emmanuel, and he spoke about Jesus’s parables and in one of the parables, he made a connection that illuminated the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, just like a light bulb – the idea flowed in my mind and as always when I find myself trying to figure out how I can put my thoughts into words, once again, the Holy Spirit guided me and provided me the wisdom to prepare slides for our group for our Friday evening fellowship.
Humbly, allow me to share with you what I shared with our group.
Growing up I hear this mantra all the time from my mom. I am glad that now that I am an adult that I paid heed to what it seems to be nagging when we were kids became a lifesaver for us. We became resourceful, developed common sense, and spiritually strong in our faith in Christ.
2020 came to everyone’s lives as either significant or devastating – depending on what and how you have experienced life.
As the New Year rolls in 2020 and as we were still winding down from the holiday festivities, just as we were still staging our resolutions for the year, we were struck with the most unprecedented news – Corona Virus (COVID-19).
No one exactly knows what it was. A lot of us thought this is just another type of flu that comes seasonally during the winter months. We were caught unaware of how desolating and overwhelming this would be for the entire world in the entire year.
No one was prepared for the devastating plague that was about to come. It wiped out millions of lives all over the world. We were astounded by what we witnessed on television and social media.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:1-31
It is amazing how Jesus, as a Good Shepherd has given us the opportunity to be prepared. He wants to make sure that those who are lost have the time to find their way back to Him to bring back to his Father. Matthew 24:36-50
He explained the Lesson of the Fig Tree to help us visualize the signs of what is to come. Matthew 24-32:35
If our habits are formed in the teaching of Jesus, our faith and character are molded in genuine Christian faith. We can start building our habits in 5 simple acts each day:
Spend a moment in prayer – before you start your day with the busyness of your chores at home or at our job in the office, thank God for another day of life. Ask Him for strength and wisdom to help you with your choices. Offer Him your sacrifices.
Give blessings to everyone and show act of kindness to – your family, your co-workers, the barista at your local coffee shop, the bus driver, and anyone you interact with throughout the day (especially with those you have disagreement with).
Talk to God throughout the day – you do not need to be in a special place to talk to Him. Let Him know how your day is going, check in with Him constantly. Praying need not to be lengthy. Praying is speaking to God from our heart.
Remain encouraged, patient, and humble in everything that you do – ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you to form these habits and build your character.
Forgiving – for most of us, this is the most difficult thing to do but it is the most rewarding, selfless act of love.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32
“Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt you, either emotionally or physically, doesn’t mean that you have to excuse the other person’s behavior, but letting go of your anger frees you to focus your energy on a more worthwhile cause.” ~ Amy Morin, Author
Every month Martín’s parents took a trip to see Grandma and came home on the same train the next day. One day the child said to his parents: “I’m already grown up. Can I go to my grandma’s alone?”
After a brief discussion, his parents accepted. They stood with him as he waited for the train to exit. They said goodbye to their son and gave him some tips through the window. Martin repeated to them: “I know. I’ve been told this more than a thousand times.”
As the train was about to leave, his father murmured in his ear: “Son if you feel bad or insecure, this is for you!” And he put something in his pocket.
Now Martin was alone, sitting on the train as he had wanted, without his parents for the first time. He was admiring the landscape out the window. Around him some unknowns pushed themselves in. They made a lot of noise. They got in and out of the train car. The conductor made some comments about him being alone. One person looked at him with eyes of sadness.
Martin was feeling more uneasy with every minute that passed. And now he was scared. He felt cornered and alone. He put his head down, and with tears in his eyes, he remembered his dad had put something in his pocket.
Trembling, he searched for what his father had given him. Upon finding the piece of paper he read it: “Son, I’m in the last train car!”
That’s how life is, we must let our kids go. We must let them try new things. But we always like to be in the last car, watching, in case they are afraid or in case they find obstacles and don’t know what to do. We want to be close to them as long as we are still alive.
*(Adapted from Unknown author)*
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)