Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rekindling Your Passion

It never fails that as I’m out and about at lunch, you’ll always see people sharing or selling something. The day I encountered this Greenpeace volunteer and an unknown gentleman, it was no exception. So I took this photo and continued on my way.

Recently, after some G+ inspired reflection, I thought back to this encounter and a question arose in my mind: Why aren’t there as many church folk as passionate about their faith as this Greenpeace volunteer was about her beliefs?

Indeed, in the book of 2nd Corinthians, Paul reminds believers that all of us, in some way, are supposed to be out and about in the world representing the master: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:20). However, this doesn’t seem to be the message one hears when they encounter believers in the global marketplace. Rather, it seems to be that most of us in the household of faith are preaching a different gospel which is more concerned with keeping up with the Joneses and the next level of prosperity than we are with sharing our faith.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to quit your job tomorrow and start witnessing to people downtown; but rather, wherever you are in life, whether your chosen profession is a stay at home mom, doctor, lawyer, pastor, administrator, or whatever; know that God put you right where you are for a reason. And because you are right where God wants you to be, if you let him shine in and through you, you can be a brilliant ambassador for Him wherever you’re called to be.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Let God rekindle the passion for Him in you today so you can go out and be an ambassador for him tomorrow!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

When was the last time you stopped?

Its been ages since I've blogged. Its not that I've abandoned my own blog or been to busy; honestly I think about this little ol' blog quite often and finally decided that today is the day! LOL

Since I last posted a story (2/14/09), I passed oral and written examinations and have been ordained and installed as the Co-Pastor of our church. Its been an amazing six months or so, but the most important thing other than ministry I've done is making time to Stop and take notice of the Beauty that God has created all around us.

This picture is of a Hibiscus blossom, from a plant that my wife got from her Secretary a couple of years ago. And its been blooming off and on ever since. But its just been these last few months that I've stopped to take notice of how beautiful these blooms can be!

You know, there are many other equally beautiful and important things that God has placed in all of our lives; wives, husbands, children, family. Don't let the life that God's blessed you with pass you by. Do yourself a favor -- take time; no MAKE time to stop and enjoy the beauty that by His design, God has placed right in your life.

"Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." (Psalms 100:3-5)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A love that endures...is a love that binds!

Reflections on Love and life on Valentines Day.

This is a picture of our neighbors, Ron and Dorothy, opening gifts at their 50th Wedding Anniversary party almost 4 years ago. 50 years of marriage -- Wow, what an achievement!!

In addition to that lifetime of love and labor, another thing that made this a special day was that the party was something the entire neighborhood shared in. The party was hosted at the home of their next door neighbor (who lives directly across the street from us), and in addition to their family, pretty much everyone in our little cul-de-sac community was invited (and most attended); binding us all together to share in the celebration of their love and life.

Switching gears, the second picture is one of two siblings that I was able to capture not long ago. I was at the library shooting birds and they were with their mom and I shot them because the three of them (the kids and their mom) startled the birds so that the birds flew away. And when the mom stopped to take pictures of them, since I no longer had subjects, I shot pictures of the three of them and then the two kids. It was a fluke moment, but I thought it captured the essence of happy siblings loving one another.

You see, Valentines Day doesn't have to be about romance (although Hallmark and the candy companies want you to think that). Quite often we forget that love also means family, siblings, and friends too. Don't get so caught up in the marketing of love by the Vermont Teddy Bear company (among others) that you forget to appreciate your siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and even neighbors who love you too...

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:11-13)

Something to think about.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Kid Turns 10!

Yesterday, the Kid turned 10. And what an interesting day it turned out to be!

I had stayed up the night before, baking him a cake so he could take to the sitters. They were planning a Valentines party and were going to add the Kid’s birthday to the mix. The wife had also picked up some snacks for the sitter’s party, so when I dropped him off, the Kid was all set. Moreover, knowing birthdays don’t come every day, I texted my co-laborers at church and let them know that I wouldn’t make it to Bible Study that night, because hey, it’s the Kid’s birthday.

Now usually, the wife gets home before I do, but unbeknownst to me, she had made a detour at Target, so I was the first to greet the Kid in the evening program and boy was I in for a surprise…I guess the Kid was expecting the wife, so he had a little dejected look on his face when he saw that it was Dad and the first thing he said was “Where’s Mom”? Taking it in stride, I said to the Kid, I don’t know son, how was your day? He said “Oh, it was ok” and started back to the family room I guess to play on his DS. I thought to myself, “wow”, and then asked the Kid if he was ok and why was he pouting? He said he wasn’t pouting and that’s the way he always looks in the evening. I said to the Kid, “Ok” and proceeded to put my phone, keys etc. away. And before I could even think about what to cook for dinner, the Kid says “What? No presents??” Ah, I thought to myself, now it all becomes clear…the Kid is hurting for some presents! *LOL*

Thinking to myself, this would be a great chance to help the Kid better appreciate what he has, I didn’t mention to him that we had got his present several weeks ago and it was upstairs in our room. So, I just replied to the Kid and said that I thought the Birthday Cake I baked you was a pretty good present and the Kid just didn’t respond…whoa! Thankfully for the Kid, the wife made it home shortly thereafter. She too asked the Kid how was his day and the Kid just said it was ok. She then asked the Kid how was his party? And the he said “which party? I had two”. The wife and I were both surprised and asked how did that happen and the Kid explained that he took the cake to school and the teacher used that for a party in the classroom and so there wasn’t any more cake. And then he had a party at the sitters too. So I said “wow; you had two parties and you’re STILL Pouting? Bro, that’s not good”. Then the wife laughed and the Kid finally said he was sorry. And I thought to myself, “Gee Kid, you’re slowly getting it”.

I proceeded to the kitchen to start on dinner for the Kid and the wife and while I was doing that, the older siblings were calling to wish the Kid a happy birthday. I overhead the Kid telling one of his sisters that all he got from his parents was a cake (how sad, I thought)….and she reminded the Kid that she asked for a cake and didn’t even get that (but hey, she lives in Texas!) so he should be thankful and we all laughed again. Anyway, it was getting late, and the Kid seemed to be handling the fact that maybe his parents didn’t get him anything, and I was really struggling to constrain myself. When the Kid went to put on his pajamas, the wife and I decided that we’d finally give in and let the Kid see what we had for him all along. But before we could do that, the oldest son called, and that conversation kept going and going and going; so long, that I was wondering if the Kid was purposely dragging this out for a no present payback! *ROTFL*

Finally, the wife broke in on their conversation and told them both that the Kid had to go. Tomorrow was still a school day and it was well over an hour past the Kid’s bedtime. We sent the Kid upstairs one last time to brush his teeth, and I snuck out the present and put it in one of the chairs, next to one of the DS styluses that the Kid keeps leaving all over the house. When the Kid came back down to say good night, I told the Kid that again he had left one of his styluses in the chair again and he needed to keep up with these things because if he lost them, he wouldn’t be able to use his DS and by the way, I thought there was another stylus in the bag that was next to the stylus.

My friend, words cannot express, and even though I had my camera ready, I was so taken away with the Kid’s stunned reaction to getting Shining Force and The Hobbit for his DS, I didn’t get to capture the moment on digital; but its forever embedded in both the wife’s and my minds. Honestly, the Kid was so stunned that we thought he was going to faint…*ROTFL*. After getting over the initial shock, the Kid was just beside himself with Joy. After he finally calmed down, we explained to the Kid how we had gotten those games weeks ago and that there were so many other things he’s missed out on simply because of the attitude he often displays when things don’t go his way. Finally, the Kid gave us a look that would melt any parents’ heart (see his picture) and gave us both a kiss good night and went upstairs and I thought to myself, “this time I really think he’s got it”!

Sometimes we don't even realize how many blessings we hold up because of being unappreciative of what God is already doing in our lives. The day turned out to be a biblical object lesson and birthday presents all rolled into one. Yes indeedy, it was truly a great day when the Kid turned 10!!
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Balancing Act

Generally, I go out shooting on Thursdays, but I went out today because it will probably be raining tomorrow. Since, I left for lunch late, most people had already left the street faire to go back to work, so this was going to be a quick shoot indeed.

I wasn't out long, but before I left, I was able to catch this shot of a woman walking three dogs; and let me tell you, it wasn't that easy. On the train ride home, I reflected on this image and soon realized why it struck me so when I took the picture earlier in the day -- quite often, I feel myself in the same bind as the woman I had captured in the photo: struggling to balance the three demanding aspects of my life: my job, my family and my ministry. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining because right now, all three are great. I work with some great folks who appreciate my skills; my wife is wonderful and my kids are pretty cool too and I'm steadily holding my own ministering at friendship.

Yet like the woman in the picture, its not easy because each of the areas have their own unique demands (and bring their own pleasant rewards).

My job pays well and allows us to enjoy the life we do.

My wife is wonderful (96.2% of the time *LOL*) and most of our kids are adults doing well on their own and the three youngest are blossoming as young adults; and believe you me, when a man has peace at home, his outlook on life is greatly enhanced.

My ministry is not earth shaking, but truly makes a difference in the lives that it touches and gives me a wonderful sense of purpose.

I'm sure each of us has our own struggles and rewards as we do our best to succeed in the balancing act we call life. And when you find yourself in need of a little help keeping the balance, ask the Lord to give you a helping hand from His ever present grace and lovingkindness:

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." (Eph 4:7)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Prayer, the key to Power…

Church was great today! The title of the sermon, stated above, was right on point. The speaker was our supervising pastor, Cor Pool from Hope Community Church in Riverside, California. When our church was in the middle of crisis and turmoil, Cor and his church were appointed to work with us to rebuild the church, which has been a great blessing to our little church indeed. Now at a glance, one might think that Pastor Cor might not be their style, but when he gets warmed up and on a roll, I’m telling you; Cor Pool is the stuff!

Anyway, the three main points were (1) Prayer gives you power; (2) Consistent prayer brings brokenness and diminishes pride; and (3) Prayer gives you power over the enemy and all of his works.

In my opinion, one of the things that made the sermon so great was the point that no matter where one is in their spiritual walk they can never say that they’ve reach that plateau where they are praying enough. Cor also mentioned out how even the Lord himself was always praying and that He (Jesus Christ) made prayer a priority and he was always getting away from the crowds to pray. Not only that, but Pastor Cor also pointed out how the only thing that the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to PRAY; whoa!

Its hard to try to recreate the power and impact of that sermon, so I won’t. So I'll just say that we all can benefit from increasing our prayer life just a little bit more each day. Now I’m not saying you have to start praying 24/7, but simply that if you make a commitment to increase your prayer time a little bit each day, I guarantee you’ll experience more power in your own life, you’ll be broken (and made anew in Christ) and you’ll exercise more authority over the enemy than you were able to previously. Now who wouldn’t want that??

Finally, I’ll leave you with something my grandmother taught me about prayer when I was a kid and still remember after all these years:

Whisper a prayer in the morning;
Whisper a prayer at noon
Whisper a prayer in the evening
to keep your heart in tune

Take the prayer challenge for 21 days and see what happens!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Its all a matter of Perspective...

You know, this past week United Teachers Los Angeles ("UTLA") held a protest Rally against the Governor and the School District to sound off against proposed classroom cuts that will happen at the end of the current school year.

My photo pal, Jemal, and I were at Pershing Square for lunch doing the photoshoot thing when we encountered members of UTLA setting up for the evening's rally. As such, I was able to catch this shot of one of the teachers, and for me, it made their entire struggle more personal. She could be a neighbor, a friend's mom or a coworker's sister; just standing up for what's right. Ya know?

After lunch was over, I realized that I needed to put a little zip in my afternoon work flow because there was going to be massive traffic delays as a result of the rally. I did, and was able to catch the earlier shuttle, and it was a good thing because the shuttle had to be completely rerouted in order to get to Union Station and I would have otherwise missed my train. On the long ride to the station, other commuters were complaining about the traffic delays and how they were going to miss their train. One asked did anyone know what it was all about and that gave me the chance to give UTLA's perspective as to why they were protesting and rallying.

You see, a few years ago, when Arnold first became governor, he borrowed several BILLION dollars from the teacher's union in order to balance the State's budget and to date he has never paid that money back. And now that the state is experiencing yet another budget shortfall, in addition to not discussing his broken promises to the teachers, the governator is also looking to cut more from classrooms to close up the state's shortfall.

After explaining those details, several of my fellow commuters nodded in agreement and one even stated, "well if that's the case, I don't mind missing my train".

Sometimes when we don't have a stake in or understanding of why things are going on around us, its easy to become indifferent as to the struggle of others. But when we are able to make it personal or paint a picture that helps us to see things from another's point of view, we gain knowledge and our perspective changes. Indeed, that is the point that the Apostle Paul was trying to make in the Book of Philippians:
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phiippians 2:4)
Its just a matter of perspective.