Sunday, November 24, 2013

Former Non-Christian Fiancee of a Church Member Confesses and Blesses.

After church today, Carlos came and sat next to me.

He said, "Pastor, I haven't been here in a while, but I want to take advantage of my visit today to tell you something."

Not knowing what to expect I said, "OK. What do you have in mind?"

Carlos smiled and said, "You know that when I was engaged to my wife, I was not a believer and neither of us was serving the Lord. But you were open minded and willing to council with us. Because of your challenge, we decided to begin our marriage as believers and have a Christian family. Today, both of us are serving the Lord. Thank you. If we can ever help you in any way, we will be there for you"

I remembered that, indeed, they were in an unequal relationship. But instead of outright rejecting their idea of matrimony, I decided upon another strategy. I said that I would consider it, if they came to 3 premarital counseling sessions.

During the second session I said, "I can't marry unequal pairs. I could marry two sheep or two goats, but I can't marry a sheep to a goat. I will do the wedding on this condition: 1. You both become sheep (Christians) or 2. That one of you rejects your faith and you both become goats (non-Christians).

They looked doubtful, but I said," I do not want an answer this week. Talk about it among yourselves. Decide. Do not give me an answer I want to hear. Tell me the truth about the foundation you wish to build your future family upon. It is a big decision. Take your time. I hope to hear that you both deide to found your family in Christ, but whatever you decide, you should be united."

I am glad Carlos and his wife decided in favor of Christ and that they have built their young family upon the rock of his teachings. He came by today to thank me for his happiness and the part we played in his decision. It was a blessing to hear that, but I didn't make the difference in his life, Christ did. I am happy though to have had a part in introducing him to someone who makes all the difference.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What a Monkey Experiment Taught Me About Being Thankful

I was surprised by the results of this interesting and funny experiment on the roots of discontentment and envy.

A monkey throws away food that made it happy when it sees another monkey get better food, even though they were both doing the same amount of work. The food for the monkey on the left remained the same. It made him happy before. The animal was the same and the reward was the same. The only thing that changed was his expectations. Seeing someone get more raised them. After that, his pleasure was replaced by rage.

The expectations that someone has are internal things. Being internal,  they should be under the control
of one's mental processes. Learning some self control, celebrating the success of friends, being content with what you have are also internal conditions. The internal landscape we posses does not have to be tossed about by the chaos of emotional torments. It can be cultivated and ordered to bring about peace in our inner world.

True peace doesn't come from getting what the other guy has, because there will always be somebody that has more than you. True peace comes from being thankful for what we do have and learning to be content with what we have received.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sleep Update

Because of some nagging hip pain, I struggle with sleep deprivation. I am able to do my work, but getting 4 hours of sleep or so a night over many months makes me feel really ragged during the day.

Searching for the cause of this led to finding cancer in my prostrate and having it removed this Summer, so I can be thankful (kind of) for that.

But the problem persisted.

Last month, I went and saw a specialist in arthritis and he prescribed a medicine called 
Gabapentin or Neurontin. It worked great. I have been able to get back to my 6 hour a night schedule and I feel a lot better.

Thanks to God, your prayers and modern medicine, I feel a lot better.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fellowship of Suffering

My prostate cancer experience has opened some doors.

Tina and I visited a man named Juan in the hospital. He was there because of a tumor affecting his lung.  Juan used to attend our church in the past, but he showed little interest in taking serious thought about his life. That is until recently.

When he found out he had lung cancer and the prognosis was bad, his attitude changed. Juan listened intently to my story of cancer and recovery. He decided it was time to get serious and prayed with me.

 Sunday, he was in pain, but he came to church anyway. Later he invited us to hold an afternoon service in his home. He is having a lot of emotional ups and downs, but is finding comfort and encouragement in our church and in fellowship with our people.

I have been accused in the past of having an exaggerated sense of humor myself. I still have it. But my encounter with cancer has provided what some people call "gravitas" or a serious side. It has served as a bridge to share and sympathise in the sufferings of others.

Please pray for Juan and myself. I think we can each help each other, as God helps us both.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We teach kids new songs, But then this happened...

On our way to church, I stopped by the college dorms and picked up two of our Sunday School teachers. Adaia, our student from Barcelona, Spain, came out and was depressed. I asked her what happened.

She sighed and said "Pastor, I made song sheets for the kids, but then I put them on an ironing board just a minute ago, and I guess someone spilled water on it, because it soaked through and ruined the song sheets."

I told her it was OK. We used what we could and the kids had fun anyway. Later I took the college girls to Office Max and we loaded up on new poster board, colored markers and stuff to decorate them.

We appreciate our workers and consider any money spent encouraging them as money well spent.

(In the video, we sing Joshua 1:8 "Nunca se apartará de tu boca este libro de la ley, sino que de día y de noche meditarás en él, para que guardes y hagas conforme a todo lo que en él está escrito; porque entonces harás prosperar tu camino, y todo te saldrá bien."

In English: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success")