Friday, November 30, 2012

A Pause in Time

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NAS)

I am always not getting enough time to do the things I am supposed to do for the house. Having to work five days a week as an employee, I am almost always exhausted by the end of the day coming home. Saturday mornings are taken up by the need to run errands or follow up at the clinics, leaving the afternoons for visitations, household repairs and maintenance, or the updating and housekeeping of my blogs and websites. Sunday mornings are spent in church and the afternoons writing devotions for a writing challenge and a Christian blog.

Many of us, like me, are probably finding it hard to have sufficient time to do the needful as well as the necessary. Once in a while when something out of the usual demands our time away from our routines, we may think of it as disrupting our schedules for a good reason or for no good reason. At the end of the day, we may feel distressed or unhappy, having to rush to catch up with what we should have been doing. Perhaps it is someone in need that we have to give our time and go the extra mile to help or a friend who is trying to catch up with us. Are we always too busy to have the time to spare?

Some years ago in a seminar I attended, a video was shown with a voice over that said, "Time waits for no man, but man waits all the time. People were told to wait another six months for a solution ... The wait is over, the time is now ..." Obviously, what was being said in the video was targeted at getting the audience to make a purchase. Yet, there is some truth in the statement about timing.

Jesus said, “Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest '? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35). We know the length of our lives is determined by God and the number of months we live have been decreed, set with a limit no one can exceed (Job 14:5). It is clear there is an appointed time for everything and every event under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Yet we must be wise to know the appropriate time to do what we are supposed to do and the time to do what is most important.

When we encounter disruptions in our routines, be aware that such interruptions may mean we should pause for the moment to deal with more important things. Never think of interruptions as spoiling our plans or upsetting our schedules. Remember, time well spent with the Lord and with the people God placed around us—including the time given to help a friend or a stranger—is worth its weight in gold (Matthew 25:34-36).

Dear Lord, teach us to number our days that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Grant us Lord to know how to differentiate the things we are supposed to do from the things that have to be done. Help us not turn away people who need our help or want to catch up with in our busyness. Slow us down whenever necessary Lord that we may pause to listen to the voice of Your Holy Spirit, and do what is right, according to Your will.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sensible Tolerance

When a stubborn fool is irritated, he shows it immediately, but a sensible person hides the insult. (Proverbs 12:16 GWT)

I work for a startup in a very small office, and it is important that I get along with my co-workers. Occasional conflicts however are inevitable, especially when it comes to the sharing of limited resources and managing personal differences like our working styles, behaviors, preferences, and sometimes even restroom practices.

Once in a while, tolerance is much desired despite feeling irritated, in particular, when faced with a colleague who persistently does things in the exact opposite of how I would have preferred. Maybe it is because of age barrier or maybe it is the fact we do not think the same. No doubt, the co-worker is younger and less experience than me, yet perhaps it is time I learn to adapt to new ways of doing things since everything else in the world is changing all the time.

So what should we do when we encounter a co-worker who we simply cannot get along?

"First look at yourself, then look at others," said Andy Selig, ScD, a management and organizational psychologist in the article ‘Work it Out: Getting Along with Co-Workers’ by Sonya Collins at "We can't usually change other people, but we can change ourselves."

Selig said while a co-worker's behavior may feel like a personal affront we did nothing to deserve, he or she may feel affronted too. We should therefore first examine ourselves, are we moving too fast? If we are, Selig’s advice is we should not be too quick to hit the ground running, especially if we are new in a job. We should instead come in slow to ease the tension rather than start parenting right away as we need to earn the trust of those we work with in order for them to value what we have to say.

If conflict resolution demands that we talk to someone higher or with the co-worker whom we are facing problems with, the advice in the article by Collins is to first count to ten and not react to the co-worker’s most recent offense. Instead of confronting the co-worker asking “Why are you shooting down all my ideas?” consider saying “I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot. Is there anything I can be doing differently?” Always keep conversations and attitudes professional, not personal.

Like the advice given in the article at WebMD, the Bible also teaches that we should not be like a stubborn fool to react insensibly when irritated (Proverbs 12:16). We should instead have self-control to persevere in the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5; 2 Peter 1:16). If we need to deal with a difficult co-worker or someone who is misguided, ignorant, or seemingly dislikes us, do so gently since we ourselves and the antagonist are also beset with weaknesses (Hebrews 5:2).

Always look within ourselves first to find out whether we have been difficult, rather than be too quick to point a finger in accusing others. Even if we are not in the wrong, we must be sensitive not to take offense or break the relationship when correcting the other. As believers in the Lord, let us demonstrate God’s love one to another, for by this all men will know we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). 

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes taking offense instead of keeping our cool when irritated. Help us Lord not be like stubborn fools to insensibly react to people who irritate or insult us or be too quick to accuse them. Change our attitudes O Lord if there be anything in us that turns people away from You. Guide our ways Lord that we may do all things sensibly according Your will.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

Wishing You a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving

Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him,
bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

~ Psalm 100:4-5 (NAS) ~

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nothing to Wear

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35-36 NAS)

Nothing to Wear
In the hope of getting people to stop being apathetic towards poverty, a non-profit organization serving in Haiti, Leve Project, introduced a fundraising challenge in January 2011 called ‘Nothing to Wear’ (NTW). The idea of the challenge was to let people get a small taste of what they would have been indifferent to due to a lack of identifying with that something, for example, poverty.

Participants were given to wear a small NTW t-shirt as if they had nothing else to wear for a max of 30 days while raising funds to help fight poverty. The aim was not merely about understanding poverty, but also to see how God values the poor and learn to love what He loves. Instead of having people being told they are supposed to care for those in need, remember widows and orphans, give money away, pray for hurting people and serve ‘the least of these,’ participants get to experience it.

The message Leve Project hoped to convey of the challenge was clear, as spelled out in the script of the NTW introductory video.

“We have a lot of stuff. More than we need ... We SAVE, stash away, Upgrade. We like to have choices And we always ... want ... MORE! But while we have more than enough, others have less than they need.”

“Participants commit to wear the same shirt as if we had nothing else to wear while raising funds to help Haitian families in poverty. The more donations we receive, the longer we'll wear the shirt.”

“Why? Because it's easy to be indifferent to something we can't identify with. Like poverty. We cannot stay indifferent. We cannot continue living without taking an active stand to fight for justice for the poor.”

“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God’ —Micah 6:8.”

Are we caring too much about what clothes we should wear, perhaps for an upcoming occasion or even our daily attire? If we have plenty or more than enough, and have choices we can pick from or consider, should we not also remember those who have less than they need and without a choice? As followers of the Lord, let us not become indifferent to identify with others, especially those in need.

For when the Son of Man shall come in glory as King, He shall say to those who have done well, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” But for those who have not done rightly, He shall say “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” and they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matthew 25:40, 45-46).

Dear Lord, we are forever grateful to You for You have always cared for our needs. Help us Lord not to become complacent with what we have to desire for more. Guard our hearts O Lord that we may not become indifferent to those who are in need, especially those who have less than they need. Grant us Lord when we have more than enough to generously give. We love You Lord and we give ourselves completely to You.

Nothing to Wear
by Leve Project

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lasting Impressions

And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (Mark 6:31a NAS)

Pilanesburg National Park
When my wife and I visited Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province of southern Africa in 1999, we were amazed by what we saw of this 55,000 hectare game and wildlife reserve. Although we did not get to see all of the Big Five—the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant—at the park, what made a lasting impression in my mind was its landscape. I saw from a distance in the cool early morning a spectacle of astounding beauty of valleys and mountains that seemingly span beyond the horizon into the infinity of God’s unparalleled creation. Such was the deep impression I have of the park, besides its awe-inspiring sense of adventure being up close with the animals of the wild and beautiful sunset.

Not all of us are likely to get to visit a park that gives us lasting impressions. We need not however travel far to be able to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. As a writer, I used to take time over the weekends to go to a nearby park for nature walks to think and get inspiration from God. Early mornings are always the best times to seek solitude within nature as I calm my inner spirit to heighten my senses in listening, smelling, touching, feeling, and seeing.

Are we weary and burdened by the things and activities going on around us? If we are, perhaps a visit to a park or garden nearby can work wonders for us in refreshing our focus. Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). Our Lord is inviting us to go to Him so He can give us rest (Matthew 11:28). If we are ever in doubt of God’s goodness, then let us call to remembrance the things that give us lasting impressions that we may never forget all His benefits and bless Him (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 103:2).

Dear Lord, thank You for the amazing beauty of Your creation. You O Lord have lifted up our spirits and heighten our senses to love You more and more each day. Wonderful are Your works O God that make lasting impressions on our hearts and minds, and we cannot help but to stand in awe of You. We praise You Lord because we have been fearfully and wonderfully made, and our souls find rest in You.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Measuring Up

saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42 NAS)

Measuring Cup
When it comes to recipes, a cup is often used as an instrument of measure. One cup is equivalent to 16 tablespoons or 240 milliters in the United States, 12 if using Australian tablespoons, 200 milliters if using a Japanese cup. A quarter, a third of, or half a cup are ways we sometimes use to specify how full or little an ingredient is needed for a dish.

When it comes to perspectives in life or how we view things, however, a cup is a measure of our responses to positive or negative thinking. Half a cup full or empty is how we perceive the challenge moving forward to run the race or give up (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Just hours before He was crucified on the cross, our Lord at the Garden of Gethsemane prayed, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). The cup Jesus was referring to was not just His death on the cross but also the agony and sufferings He had to go through for our sake.

As a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, Jesus was despised and forsaken of men, and like one from whom men hide their faces, crushed for our iniquities, chastened for our well-being, scourged for our healing (Isaiah 53:3-5).

As the Son of God, however, He had a choice not to take up the cup and die for us. Yet He chose to go through the pain to do the will of His Father out of His love for us. Jesus knew beforehand what was in the cup, yet He did not give up but went on to run the race and fulfill God’s purpose.

What about us? How do we measure up and perceive the cup? Is it half empty of blessings filled full with sufferings that we are thinking of or feel like giving up? May it never be our choice to give up the faith because of a hard life or tough times! For if we do, we will lose everything, just as we would have lost our salvation if Christ our Lord had given up on us and walked away from the cup of sufferings.

Let us be wise and choose life in Christ, for He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). If we should desire to give up, then let us give up holding on too tightly to our own life. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever gives up his life for Christ’s sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

Dear Lord, help us not give up our faith too easily just because of a hard life or difficult times, but to hold fast and run the race till the very end. Do not allow us to become rooted in the entanglements of this world O Lord that we may not hang on too tightly to our own way of life. Renew in us our first love for You Lord that we may willingly give up our all for Your sake, just as You have given up Your all for our sake. We are forever grateful to You Lord for not giving up on us, but willingly take up the cup of sufferings and die on the cross to save us. Take us Lord as we are and correct us as You will, for we belong to You.