Finding Miracles in Unexpected Places and Unexpected People

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

In the Filipino parlance, “Nanay” is an endearing term we use to call our moms. As with other languages, it is one of many variants of references for mothers – one that conveys not just respect and admiration, but love.

As many of you know, Nanay Belen, the mother of our dear sister Lisa Sabinosa, has been in the care of our hospital system since February of this year after having undergone surgery and a heart problem thereafter that caused her to be immobile. She is now at the EW Bickle Centre – a rehabilitation facility for those requiring complex physical care. My wife and mother joined me in visiting her last Sunday after having recovered myself from an abdominal pain that kept us away from church that morning. Lately, I’ve been feeling vulnerable under the weight of my own frail, human physical condition.

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High Ropes, Paintball & Karaoke

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21 (NIV)

high ropesSummer time presents us all with the unique opportunity to do things we cannot otherwise do in the colder months. During the recent church camp, several campers got to try their skill and courage at the High Ropes, which is simply some kind of an obstacle course placed about 50 feet above ground! I happened to be a spectator as one brave camper after another across all ages tried the thrill of either walking across wooden planks or tight ropes. Pretty soon, I was being corralled to join those Tarzan-like souls who completed or even just tried the high rope obstacle. I wanted to try my best, but my overly cautious side won the day. Plus, I was not about to make a widow out of my wife just yet!

paintballMore recently, one of our growth groups decided to take on paintball! This one seems more normal as we get to stay on the ground. However, the thought of firing high velocity paint-loaded sphere bullets out of an air-powered rifle didn’t quite strike me as something sane either. Call me cowardly or a germophobe but as soon as I saw the participants donning on combat-like fatigues and gears, my interest went to zero rather quickly. They looked so serious! So I found myself retracting yet again for what looked like an interesting game of shoot-hide-drink-lots-of-water-clean-yourself-up.

Then the day after, GCF Peel decided to kick it up a notch by introducing some summer flair to our after-Sunday-worship-gathering. We invited friends and neighbors in our community for some BBQ picnic, games, and of course, a healthy dose of karaoke. Even our guest preacher, Pastor Nick Adams, surprising us all with a few songs that he belted out so well. I said ‘surprising’ because, for some reason, I don’t find many here in Canada who are actually into karaoke. And of course, Pastor Nick paved the way for me to be strongly compelled to deliver my own rendition of songs stored in the karaoke machine’s microchip. That certainly scared me more than the high ropes and paintball combined!  So yet again I chickened-out!

It turned out to be a great Sunday because God made it so. Three people came forward with a decision to repent from their sins and make Jesus Christ their personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for working in Your message that continues to be preached through our church. As we delight in the fun that deepens fellowship, may the fervor of your people in sharing the gospel to everyone translate into a step of faith in Jesus Christ in the lives of everyone else we touch along the way. Amen.

“The real warriors in this world are the ones that see the details of another’s soul. They see the transparency behind walls people put up. They stand on the battlefield of life and expose their heart’s transparency, so other’s can finish the day with hope. They are the sensitive souls that understand that before they could be a light they first had to feel the burn.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

Redeeming the Time

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

A popular urban legend has been sneaking innocently into the minds of people everywhere.  It has to do with the fact that the month of July 2016 has the unusual occurrence of having 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.  What’s not very factual is that the urban legend claims that this happens only every 823 years – even having the dubious connection to a Chinese label of “silver pockets full”, i.e., relating to good fortune.  In fact, this is more common than it seems.  January of this year 2016 also has this characteristic of having 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, so that totally debunks this myth that has been spreading around.

Illustration imageWith this misinformation comes a fervent reminder that time is precious.  What a blessing to know that we have 5 weekends in July – the peak of summer when everyone is looking for “more” time to spend outdoors and enjoy a short reprieve from the more prevalent cold days of Canada.

But having “more” time is a misnomer.  We don’t really get “more” time.  Time has been set for us.  It is a consumable product.  We cannot add to it nor lessen it.  That’s what Solomon reminded us in Ecclesiastes 3. Time is appointed.  We either use it or it passes us by.  We can never recover time that has been lost to complacency.

As a precious commodity, let’s be wise stewards of time.  Invest it in building relationships and establishing connections with people.  Put it to good use by recognizing eternity is of great consequence with time.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:2: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  Use this time to ponder God’s plan to bring you under His grace that you may experience everlasting life – when time is no longer of any essence.

Indoor Waterpark Woes

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-7

Indoor waterparks are a big draw here in Canada where people are always looking for a place to get respite from the bitterly cold winters.  Now that it’s summer time we don’t think too much about this since people can still enjoy the warm weather. But wait until the cold wind starts settling in.  I shouldn’t be saying this now as people are already looking forward to summer time!

This reminded me of an experience we had several winters ago when we visited a very popular indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls.  As we entered the waterpark, we saw people of different ages enjoying themselves amidst the pleasure of splashing waters and slides while sipping juices and snapping pictures of themselves basking in the happy moments.

The waterpark advertised about maintaining a balmy summer-like temperature.  However, to our dismay, the freezing temperature outside seems to be seeping into the park creating an uncomfortable climate inside.  It got to the point where our son suffered a mild hypothermia causing his body to slow down until he almost slept.

As I look back at this experience, I realized that our life with Christ can go through the same fate if we are not careful.  While we enjoy the eternal security that God promises in His Son, there can be lurking spiritual threats from outside that can slowly trickle into our lives.  These dangers can leach into our lives as we dabble and enjoy the pleasures of the world until we become so identified and familiar with it to the point of enjoyment.  The innocence and entrancement of the experience can cause a debilitating spiritual hypothermia if we are not vigilante.

Child of God, don’t let the cold and dark world bleed its color into the warmth and light of your heart where Christ lives.

Summer is Simmering

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” – Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)

My seasonal allergies started acting up yesterday. It can be a very debilitating experience, especially when I first had it 16 years ago. But like many other things that come our way, we hopefully find ways to deal with them as God supplies us with the strength and patience.

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