Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry (?) Christmas

Merry (?) Christmas

WORLD, Nov. 19, 2011

In China on July of this year, a blind human-rights activist and his wife were beaten for four hours.  He and his family have been placed under house arrest for exposing forced abortions and they are being denied medical treatment from illnesses sustained while imprisoned.
 
VOICE of the MARTYRS, Dec. 2011

Almost twelve years ago in Indonesia, Yubelina Hgato’s face was badly burned as a result of spilling a kerosene lamp while running away from an attack by Muslims against her village.  Although she has received plastic surgery, nevertheless, her face remains permanently disfigured.  Her daughters would come home in tears because people have said their mother was a monster.  Today she “still bears the scars of her ordeal, not only on her face but also in her heart."

In Iran on Nov. 2010, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death after being convicted of apostasy.  The authorities ordered him to repent of being Christian and return to the religion of Islam.  Youcef refuses with a simple, “I cannot.”  He is still in prison waiting for the sentence to be carried out.

VOICE of the MARTYRS, Nov. 2008

In Columbia on Nov. 2008, “Marcella, 12, was just 300 yards away when FARC guerrillas shot both of her parents” because they were teaching others about Christ.  Now Marcella is in hiding with two of her siblings, ages 4 and 5.
 

As Christmas Draws Near


…we stumble frantically to buy gifts for family, friends, and maybe even strangers.  Some will cuddle by the fireplace sipping warm hot chocolate while opening their presents.  Others will have a grand homemade meal of arroz con pasteles.  Children will wake in the wee hours of the morning, run down to the Christmas tree in the living room, and go happily wild ripping paper, hugging toys they had wished for all their lives.  Mom and Dad click a thousand and one pictures on their cell phones and cameras.

Yet for many, Christmas won’t actually be the “Merry” we in America take for granted.

While in this country we avoid pain and listen to sermons that will encourage us to brave another new day and new year, others joyfully confess Jesus Christ as Lord with the full knowledge that their lives won’t be worth a nickel afterwards.  While we check into a counselor’s office for marriage and financial problems, others are watching either their spouse, parents, or children murdered and their homes demolished and burned down with all their possessions because they courageously refused to deny their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While we worry about where our next paycheck will come from, others languish on filthy prisons floors mopped with their own blood wondering if they will ever see their spouse or children again.  They are taken away from their loved ones because they deemed their life and concerns of no consequence for the sake of witnessing to others the love of God in Christ.  While in America we worry and weep in our suffering, there are those in hostile countries who rejoice at the privilege of bearing the name of Christ in their scarred bodies or by the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

This is not to say we in America do not experience real problems and heartache but how much of it is because of bad luck, unforeseen tragedy, or wrong decisions?  How many of us have suffered for Christ?  How many of us in America are faced with such violent persecution?

In America, we have those with whom we can share our faith and Christmas holiday.  The most we may get from non-believers when we share Christ is a silent nod, an indifferent smile, or a look of pity.  Maybe we shared with someone who had a bad day and, in irritation, they closed the door on our face or just walked away whispering a curse on us.  In Iran, they get the death sentence.  In India, they get beat.  In China, they are arrested and never to be seen or heard from again.

In this country, believers and unbelievers mingle together telling jokes, playing games, enjoying each other’s company.  We even sing "Joy to the World" together!  In hostile countries, if your neighbor and friends find out you’re a Christian, at best, they call the authorities on you or, at worst, they bring a mob to your home, destroy it, and kill you and your family.

Jesus in the manger by Ella Claire Ortiz
Jesus was born for the express purpose of suffering and dying for our sins.  Born a man into this fallen world, he consented to a life of suffering, of pain, and of death.  Believers in other countries have willfully and joyfully consented to the same.

This Christmas, if we are in suffering and pain, let us not forget those who suffer and are in pain for the sake of the Gospel.  With empathy, let us join our sufferings together with theirs' in prayer for the persecuted.  Let us not pray, "God, help me," but let us pray, "God, help us."

If our lives are at present free from worry and concerns, let us joyfully enter in the suffering of the persecuted by praying for them knowing that God has absorbed all our suffering on the Cross.

In whatever state we find ourselves, let us give sacrificially to help the Persecuted Church in her witness for Christ.

Here is a list of Christian organizations that minister to the Persecuted Church:






This Christmas let the groaning of the prisoner come before you and make Christ your gift to them through prayer and giving (Psalm 79:11).

May we then truly share with our brothers and sisters all over the world a...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Misfortunes of a Calvinist Poet

Went to hell
I cannot tell
Just how the hell I got here

The reason is
Because I sinned
That’s what I hear say


Was taught by Alvin
(Or was it Calvin?)
It were by God's decree
To create me
To burn me
For reasons
Best concealed

I’m in hell
And still can’t tell
Just how the hell I got here

TULIPS or TwoLips?

Biblical truth...what is it?
What's proclaimed in the Bible as TULIP?
Though reasoned at length
Just what Scripture meant,
Calvinists speak with TwoLips.

Heaven...



John Lennon imagined it
Martin Luther King dreamed it
Mahatma Ghandi went on a hunger strike for it
Marvin Gaye sang it
Hippies got high on it

Philosophers think of it
Religions hope for it
Theologians describe it
Jews seek signs for it
Atheist, while denying it, search for it
Mother's pray for it
Father's labor for it
Children see it
but...

               Only the Son of God, Jesus Messiah, can bring it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Proverbs of Nelson

1. Proverbs of Nelson, son of Banuchi, a common man.

2. All these proverbs are my words
Except the first one
3. Plucked from a violent movie
When, wisdom, I had none.

4. "A man has got to know his limitations.” *

5. To the tune of “Look at Me.”
Look at Me
I’m as lazy as a turtle on a beach,
6. Don’t know my right from my left,
my tail from my toes;
I’m too busy sleeping it off.

7. By the time the sluggard gets to the starting line
The diligent man has already finished the race.

8. Ever wonder where the drunk is?
He also wonders.
9. Therefore, be wise and don’t drink to excess.
Then you will always be the first one
to know where you are.

10.The righteous man fears God.
The evil man says, “I fear no one.”

11. The righteous man laughs at death and lives.
The wicked man laughs at death and dies.

12. The man of faith knows the God of wonders
But he who doubts wonders about God.

13. Listen to a wise man and you will be wiser.
Listen to a dumb man and you will be dumb and dumber.

14. Take up your sword,
Take up your shield.
15. But remember,
Victory in battle is the Lord’s.

16. The fool says, “Who is God that I should listen to Him.”
17. And the wise man responds,
“Who are you that I should listen to you?”

18. The fool says, “God is evil.”
He thinks God is like him.

19. The wise man listens before speaking.
The honest man weighs the fruit before giving the price.
20. The wise and honest man considers the matter
Before making judgment.

21. More is accomplished by digging dirt
Then gazing at stars.
22. Dreams of eating never satisfy the hunger.


* from Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry".

To the Tune of "Imagine"

To the Tune of a Naive Song by John Lennon "Imagine"


Imagine there’s no heaven
Atheists do, so can you
No place for the guilty
Imagine all abused children
No place for their peace

Imagine there’s no country
No place to call your home
No need to care for children
They’re not valuable
Imagine all child rapists
Walking with impunity

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
Josef and Jeffery were also dreamers
Of ruling the world and mass murders

Imagine no possessions
Your children, state property
No need for greed and hunger
If we abort enough babies
Imagine all the people
Under despotic regimes

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
Al-Shabab and Manson dream, also
Of starving babies and piercing wombs

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Receiving A Prophet's Reward!

This is like what I would see on my way to and from work
I folded my hands and went on my knees.

The next two weeks were going to break us financially unless God intervened.  We had been in North Carolina for two years now and I had not been able to obtain employment.  It was  the last week of October 2010.  If I did not get a job quick, November will find us breaking even on the bills and December will find us in the red.  The only income was from Celia’s pension and social security.  Without any other financial means available, we would be short on paying the house bills (including the subdivision’s HOA fees), groceries, car insurance, medicine for Celia and for her to see the doctor, medicine and food for my two German Shepherds, Max (with hip dysplasia) and Gideon, and credit cards.  There would be no way I could hold onto the house and car for that much longer.

I began thinking that, sooner or later, I will need to file for bankruptcy, and apply for government and state financial assistance. I am unable to help my daughters – the main reason I moved to North Carolina from New York – when they may need it.  These and a thousand other difficulties I imagined without a job.  However, what bothered me the most was that I had not been able to contribute for the support of those being persecuted in other countries because if their Christian faith or to help those who have decided to have their baby rather than an abortion.

I went on my hands and knees praying, “Here I am, Father.  You know my desire is be able to contribute to the support of the persecuted and the unborn, to provide for Celia what she needs, to help my daughters, and (as insignificant as it may seem to others) to keep my dogs.  It’s up to you, Lord.  However, if it’s my lot to remain unemployed, let your Presence in my life be strongly felt.  Pour your Spirit in such a way that your life would be lived through me in the same way as when you walked in Jerusalem.”

I then prayed describing what kind of job I needed:
-  I wanted work in a Mail Room (not a warehouse).
-  The pay needed to be no less than $10 an hour.
-  It had to be no more than a 20-minute drive.
-  I wanted it to be in an enjoyable environment.
-  It could not require constant heavy lifting (I am not getting any younger).

I rose off my knees and left it all with my Father in Heaven.  I chose not to worry.

The next week, I received a call from an agency about a job that was temporary but with a permanent position possible.   I began work and immediately enjoyed the responsibilities, the people, and the place.  The people were very friendly.  The job was a perfect fit for me.  I’d drive to work seeing the sunrise and drive back home at the end of the day seeing the sunset.  That was exhilarating and beautiful!  I could hardly believe it!  It was everything – everything! – I had asked from God...except for one thing: the salary.  It was more than I expected.

What’s more, after the probationary period was over, I was hired full-time with a pay raise that was unthinkable to me in such unfavorable economic conditions.  I was getting as much as I made at my job in New York!

I was happy as a bird on a branch with a worm in its beak on a sunny summer day with a cool breeze washing through its feathers.

However, the Bible says that in the Last Days there will come a time when the enemy will be allowed to fight against God’s people and defeat them.  In my case, the time had come a little bit sooner.

Not even a week passed as a permanent employee, when I was called into my manager’s office and informed that a very serious complaint had been made against me.  I was accused of yelling, threatening, and making racial insults against a co-worker.  I was dumbfounded.  Not only was this not true but it was a professing Christian who was accusing me!

Afterwards, I had to meet with representatives of the Human Resources department investigating the allegations. I stated that in no uncertain terms were these allegations true.  Furthermore, I could not think of any reason why this person would make such accusations.  I do not behave that way nor have I ever shown my behavior before all other employees to be otherwise.  In short, these accusations are lies.

Having presented to them a character reference from my pastor to be part of my employee record refuting the charges, I placed the whole situation in God’s hands believing that, if God granted me this job, he would not allow me to be removed.

A few days later, I was called in again and told that I would be let go.  I was so taken by surprise that my only response was, “Okay”.  They asked if I had anything further to say.  To myself I thought, “What can I say? ‘May I please have my job?'  Would an appeal change their minds?”  However, all I said was, “No.”  I got up from my chair, was escorted to gather my things and out the door.

Once I got outside, I immediately called my wife, Celia, on the cell phone and told her, “They let me go.”

That night, I looked out my yard and realized I won’t be getting up to go to work like I had been doing for the past three months.  I thought I would be working there for years because it felt so good, so natural for me.  Yet, tomorrow would come and everyone would be at his or her office, except me.  It was as if someone I loved died; they would not be with me as usual tomorrow.  However, this time, I’m the one who died; I’m the one who was not going to be there in the office as usual tomorrow.  Everyone will go on to do the work without me.

I just couldn’t understand it all.  So many questions: Did not God give me that job?  Then why did he allow me to lose it?  Why was I slandered and by one who claims to be a Christian and who had the Bible laid on his desk?  Why did this co-worker, with whom I had nothing but cordial relations, make such blatantly false accusations?  What had I done to him that he would tell such lies as he did?

I went back on my knees that night.  “Lord”, I prayed, “here I am again.  You know I lost my job.  What am I going to do?”  With a sincere heart, I further implored, “Father, guard my heart and whatever happens, keep me loyal to you.  All I really want is to be faithful.”

I took out my Bible and read Matthew 5:11-12:

Happy are you when people…tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers.  Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven.  This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.

After reading this, I realized I needed to leave it all with God.  If I get another job soon, all is well.  If not, all is well.  If I lose all that I now possess and end up without a place to live or lack food to eat, all is well.  I will not be angry, I will not worry.  I will be faithful to God no matter what happens.  What I have lost or will lose here is nothing of value compared to the rewards of heaven.  For the rewards here only last for one lifetime.  The rewards of Heaven are possessed forever, never to be lost, never to be taken away.  In that Day, no one will say, “We are letting you go.”  What I will hear is, “Come in and forever enjoy your rewards.”

If I remain loyal to God like the prophets of old, even when others were speaking evil against them, I too will receive the same rewards they received; a prophet’s reward!

Whether in loss or gain, I seek to be a child who brings joy to Father’s heart and not put him to shame.  Yes, I need a job but losing this one shows me, again, that I need him so much more..."Man does not live by bread alone".

I fold my hands and go on my knees…