Someone from Pakistan sent this to me.  I am posting this here because I support the merit of this article. And though I am not Jewish, like Ben Stein, I am also asking those same questions:

Isaiah 55: 5 – 7 SEEK THE LORD, WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND.  CALL UPON HIM WHILE HE IS NEAR. LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY FOR HE WILL ABUNDANTLY PARDON.

Subject: Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning (everyone should read!)

I only hope we find God again before it is too late!! image001

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning

Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees..  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are:  Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu ..  If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.   But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke;  it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.  She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.  The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock’s son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he’s talking about.  And we said OK.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on

your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they
will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.  If not then just discard it… no one will know you did.  But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards,  Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

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Praise is an act of Faith

January 12, 2009

Yesterday, my wife and I attended Crossway Church. It is one of the congregations we go to when we are not doing circuit visits.

The worship leader was Aron. I knew his style, selection of songs and overall approach. When he started leading the worship, I knew that it was going to be difficult for me. I was in too much pain to be singing fast and upbeat praise songs. I was looking forward to the sobered hymns and réflective music. I closed my eyes and tried to sing as well but no words came out.
I heard Aron encouraging us to remember the good deeds of the Lord.  I remembered the Lord’s kindness and thanked Him again and again for what He has done and continues to do.  I remembered Hebrews 1:3 – how everything is being sustained by His name.

My quiet meditation would be interrupted more by the disruptive mental images in my mind. Pictures, words, frozen moments of our continuing challenge would wrestle my attention away from my praise.

It was difficult – and in a moment, my praise turned to despair.  There I was, in the midst of a very praise-filled congregation, alone and un-reached in my desolation.

I whispered “Lord, I cannot sing…”

He gently whispered back…”focus on WHO I AM and not on what you are going through right now…”

It was a divine answer that I needed to hear again.  Focus on WHO the LORD is.  FOCUS on HIS character and not on the ongoing trials no matter how difficult it would seem.

PRAISE the LORD because of WHO HE IS and not only BECAUSE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE.  Many times when we just focus on the latter, we would eventually find ourselves focusing on what HE HASN’T DONE YET. We will also find ourselves focusing on things that are still waiting for resolution, loved ones that need to be healed, freed from their bondage, dreams that are still yet to be fulfilled.

FOCUS ON WHO CHRIST IS.  I slowly recalled the nature and character of Christ. And out of pain-wracked heart, a small praise came out of my lips that could barely open up to sing.  I was not singing like I used to, but my heart was lifted up in praise.

Praise is always an act of faith.

We know this more intuitively and subjectively when it gets to be more difficult to praise because of the hardships we go through.  But the praise of the Lord is NEVER diminished by the overwhelming odds stacked against us.  We praise GOD for WHO HE IS. WE PRAISE HIM even if the answer may be a NO or a NOT YET.  We praise HIM because of HIS NATURE and HIS CHARACTER.

Praise is always an act of faith.

Yesterday, this subjective reality, was my objective reality.

” Would I Be Enough?”

January 7, 2009

Driving home late one evening, about 2 weeks before Christmas 2008, I felt a stirring within me.  I was having a quiet driving conversation with the Lord and I was telling the Lord how Christmas has become a season for self-centeredness and consumerism.

How it was easy to lose the real reason of the season when the preparation of the heart involves looking at physical gifts, expensive gadgets and awesome parties, to name a few.

Since I was talking with the Lord, I asked the Lord what gift He would give me.

I started naming those gadgets I had been salivating for quite some time now:

Xperia – yes Lord, that is such a nice phone and wow all the features are really good.

OMNIA – wow Lord that is also nice..

iPhone – that one too… wow just one of those cool nifty gadgets and I knew it would be a real awesome break!

But then I felt the Lord asking me a question:  ” If I were to come wrapped in a present, WOULD I BE ENOUGH AS A GIFT?”

There was a pause.  “Am I Enough?”

The following morning, I shared this conversation with Wifey over breakfast. It was a very powerful reminder that the real reason for the season is not those cool laptops, cellphones, parties etc… the real reason is JESUS HIMSELF.  He is the gift.

Little did I know that when the Lord asked me that question, He was already preparing me or giving me what I would need as we experienced what I have called “the bleakest period” of my life in recent years.

The huge problem is still not over.  I can already begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was asked by a friend how I was doing and that simple question became such a profound question that it literally hurt inside as I tried to answer the simple question.

On the eve of Christmas day, I found myself staring at the horrors of pride and un-forgiveness.  Pride does hurt and makes the righteous fall. Unforgiveness makes one sink deeper than what is imaginable.

I remember driving home with Wifey a little past midnight… with tears literally blinding my eyes.  And as I drove, I heard the question “Am I Enough? Am I enough?” being asked of me.  It was not asked in a condemnatory way but I knew that answering that question would give me the strength to make it through the deepest valleys.

As each day slowly progressed, as each painful moment was slowly played out – I found myself answering “Yes, you are enough!  Yes, you are enough!

I didn’t want anything else. I didn’t long for the parties and the sumptious dinners.  No I did not want anything else – not even the solution to our dilemma. I only wanted Christ.

On Christmas day, like a bruised reed, I got up from bed and with no schedule for the day, just watched FOX news as they showed the Christmas sermon of Ptr. Rick Warren.  I briefly smiled when he started using Hebrews 11:6, a passage I had used for one of the retreats I had conducted recently.

But what really struck me was when he said ” Do not exert too much energy focusing on the solutions to your problems… focus on WHO HE IS. FOCUS on CHRIST alone…”

It was definitely a message for me.  I was too weak and too hurt to find any solution – and that was the perfect state to just seek Christ alone.  Lord, yes you are enough. You are more than enough!

We are almost there, but not quite.  The other night I felt like I went through an extensive open heart surgery.  It was clearly needed – and the heart can only be healed through such an extensive heart operation.  I even praised God for allowing it to happen.  The “heart stitches” have been done – and in its most fragile state, utmost tenderness must be done to ensure its proper healing in the days to come.

Yes… our healing is on its way.

Yesterday as Wifey and I went to the mall to get some of our groceries, I was very surprised to hear the Christmas songs still being played in the mall.  I missed Christmas.  It all just came and went.  It was a long vacation here in this country – made longer in our anticipation to see the end of what we were going through.

I found myself humming the songs “O Holy Night…”, ‘Come All ye Faithful…”

I was singing again.  My wounded heart is able to sing again – and it was my wife who quietly pointed it out to me when she said “Hubby is singing again…”

I smiled quietly.

Yes Lord… thank you.. You are the only Christmas gift I would ever want in this lifetime.

Lord, you are more than enough.

The feeding of the lies…

August 21, 2008

I must have been suffering from a blogger’s block.  After writing the 100th post last week, it just sat there waiting to be followed by another blog this week.  Somehow I could not bring myself to write anything until a couple of minutes ago.

I noticed that the blog on YOU ARE MY HEALER has been getting a lot of hits recently, especially since yesterday.  A lot of people must be getting encouraged by the testimony of Mike Guglielmucci.

Until news articles confirmed that his cancer claims for the past two years have been false.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24216087-1246,00.html

That even his family members were really shocked at the unfolding events.

Needless to say, I am very baffled. Why a pastor needs to lie about his medical condition – and deceive the whole world?

While the message of the song IS STILL TRUE, I am afraid that the credibility of his witness would suffer for quite a long time.

Here are some of the lies that have really baffled me in recent months:

1. The photographer who took shots of what was supposed to be a “lost” tribe in Latin America, where there was a man covered in red ink in a warlike stance as the picture was taken.  Later on, this turned out to be a fraud.

2. Bigfoot fur remains – when thawed revealed that the whole BIGFOOT mystery was a FAKE. The fur was made of rubber materials.  Mystery is solved for all of us though.

3. Senator Edwards was also involved in an extramarital affair and it forever changed the image of him being an almost perfect husband and father.

4. Athletes caught in doping incidents even at the Olympics and other worldwide sporting events.

5. Gasoline companies declaring before the media that they are not earning enough and kept on jacking up the prices.  Well the price of crude oil is down to $114, yet the price of gasoline in this country has remained unbelievably high when it should have been lowered by more than P20 per liter at this time.

6. I don’t know who is lying when the Philippine government would report that the economy has gotten a lot better since the current President took office.  But millions of Filipinos are going hungry – and those who can still afford to buy food are now mostly eating noodles for viand along with their very cheap rice.  How can the economy be better when the inflation rate has been measured at 12.07% last June?

7. System generation loss of the electric companies. These people need to start being honest and not charge all these to the people who are the poor hapless consumers.  It is not the people who are causing the generation loss – but their faulty equipment, cables and other infrastracture.

8. Who is telling the truth in Mindanao?  When days after the ARMM elections, war broke out and these cruel and savage things are not even reported by the Philippine media? People are being killed and institutions are being burned yet it is not reaching the news channels in the cities.

9.  In the Georgian conflict, lies are being told in the worldwide body right there in the UN Security Council.  Russia has punished the “aggressor” but why is it taking too long for Russia to move out of Georgia? They are acting like the real aggressor with powerful words like “crush” the Georgian military.

We are surrounded by so many lies.  And unfortunately, if we are not careful, we may begin believing some of these as well:

Here are some of them:

1. Religious lies about the exclusivity of certain faith systems/church/denominations – where family members not following their strict religious codes are considered “polluted.”

2. Lies that make us feel and think that we are not worthy to be loved by God.

3. Lies that tell us that we can never be forgiven.

4. That we are not and will never be good enough.

5. Lies that measure our lives according to how much we have accumulated in our lives.

6. That happiness depends on our socio-economic status.

7. When sexual abusers deceive themselves into thinking that they are not responsible for the crimes they have committed.

8. The powerful lie that for the sake of the family’s financial well-being, sexual abuse victims should just remain silent.

9. Lies that tell us, that the Father is never pleased with us, and that He is some distant God who just watches us, uninvolved in our pains and miseries.

How about you? What are some of the lies that may have shaped or may have influenced you?  Sometimes, we do not want to accept the truth because the lie has become so deeply embedded in our thought process that it has become our “reality.”

John 8:32 states that we shall know the truth. And the TRUTH shall set us free.

May the loving Father of the truth gently reveals to us the lies in our lives that we may be set free into the absolute and objective reality of HIS TRUTH.

Yesterday on our way to Paranaque, I got an sms from one of the youth workers at the recently concluded SEP2008. He informed me that his mother may need to be taken back to the hospital.  She has some heart problems and the doctors have talked about the possibility of a liver cancer as well.

This morning, there was a prayer request sitting in my inbox.  Someone we know from California was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her husband was here last year for the short-term missions exposure in La Union and other areas.

People are getting sick.  I think one of the reasons for my migraine yesterday was these health updates I have been receiving lately.  The other night, I got home at 2am from a PT counseling/restructuring meeting.  But driving home, the news about these people who are waiting and praying for God’s healing miracles are heavily weighing on me.

Lord God, please be merciful.  Thank you for knowing all of these medical needs. Thank you for being right there as they hurt and as they live their lives that are drastically altered by these sicknesses.  Whisper your loving and comforting and healing words.  You just need to speak and we will rise from our beds.  Let Your healing grace be magnified in our lives, as we totally surrender our lives into Your mighty Hands.


In the name of your loving son, Jesus,

AMEN

“Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithfulWith Vincent’s son

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave

Lead them to believe

And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

“After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone

And our children sift through all we’ve left behind

May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover

Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.”

These beautiful words from Steve Green’s song, “Find Us Faithful”, echo the sentiments of families throughout the generations. There exists for families, an innate need to pass on legacies to the children and the succeeding generation, whether done consciously or not. Families have the unspoken, yet ongoing search for meaning that encompasses family life itself. The pathway toward inter-generational spirituality is a journey that each family must take.

The journey toward an integrated family spirituality is a shared endeavor. This is where our biggest contextual challenge lies. A lot of the things that families used to share are fast becoming far and in between. Many things in our family lives are no longer mutually shared, be it in terms of memories, experiences, insights or present activities.

Family counselors have noted that several activities, though seemingly routinely performed, can foster family faith. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow discovered that the prime source of faith for self-described “religious” people was the way faith permeated the daily life of the family. Family studies would confirm that the religious formation of the family happens when there are specific and intentional religious activities that are deeply intertwined with the family’s daily habits. Faith becomes an expression of family living that is shared by all members of the family.

What are some of the daily family routines that can help us all in fostering family faith?

1. EATING

A study in the University of Chicago done recently revealed an interesting result to the question posed to the respondents: “Where did you get most of your ideas about morality and religion?” The overarching response was through conversations with the family at meal times. There is an extreme value attached to the family meal. Do you and the rest of the family members still share family dinners, or can our family dinners be easily likened to ships that dock and leave according to their schedules? When we sit down to eat regularly, say grace before meals, and share information about our lives, we provide the children one of the most potent ways of forming their faith. It is through eating time that a family can embark on the exploration of their shared past. Recounting stories in a relaxed and loving family table discussion may help the parents and the children connect with values of earlier times and places, as well as gain a sense of one’s extended family’s history and values.

When I was visiting a classmate’s family in Buffalo, New York over the Christmas break in 1992, I learned so much about the family’s history during lunch when the grandfather served his homemade ravioli. This triggered all my questions and the answers revealed a host of interesting anecdotes that went way back in the 1930s when the old man migrated from Italy to the United States.

2. Sleeping

Bedtime rituals are great opportunities to introduce prayer naturally to our children. When we spend a little more time talking before bedtime, it would be interesting to hear the questions they may never have the guts to ask us during the day. Such is also the case with our teens, who have asked me significant questions that seemed to have weighed them down but could not ask me during the day. Bedtime rituals can be used to introduce God’s providence and care which can accompany them during the night. Saying goodnight to each other, which is a fast-dwindling family tradition, can make everyone feel loved and comfortably warm inside.

3. Having conversations

Reflect on the quality of conversations you have with your children or your parents. In years passed, children spent hours talking with Mom and Dad or any significant adult. Nowadays, these conversations are easily reduced to a few minutes of information exchange, giving orders, or reprimands. The art of telling our stories to the children need to be re-claimed. A father in Sta. Rosa limited the television time of his children after school because he noticed that his children hardly noticed him or their mother when they would get home in the evening. He would find them constantly glued to the set. It is time that the parents begin telling the story of their experiences again, but this time, through the eyes of faith because then, the children will be encouraged to find God in their own experiences.

I could still remember those Friday nights when my Mom would pull out all those old Bible Story books and read to us those Old Testament stories using a wick lamp since we had no electricity in that area at that time. They all sounded scary with the flood, famine and wars, but those Friday nights laid the foundational work for my belief in God early on, and HIS involvement in our lives.

4. Celebrating Christian traditions

The religious roots of most of our holidays provide their true significance. However, it is easy for these holidays to get lost amidst the secular celebrations. Why not, instead, celebrate these holidays with your own family traditions? We in the Worldwide Church of God have tremendously enjoyed the annual trip to the Festival. None of the people I know could recount all the messages they heard while growing up and attending the Festival, but let them talk awhile and pretty soon, they get misty-eyed talking about how significant those experiences were growing up. Children who participate in family rituals (Bible study, worship, going to family celebrations, birthdays, weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, etc.) are helped to be reminded of the activity’s significance. They know that it is a ritual; therefore, it celebrates something we believe to be real. Wedding anniversaries would impress upon the hearts and minds of the children that this day is significant because of the love the parents share, and because this love is real. Rituals have the enormous power to bind people. A study in George Washington University on alcoholic families, particularly those families that succeeded in handing alcoholism up to the 3rd generation, revealed that those “successful families” all had something in common: rituals. They have all become ritual-protected families. The study suggests that rituals made the families secure and gave them a sense of identity and belonging.

5. Being part of a spiritual community

The depth of our spiritual life and involvement as parents could have tremendous impact on the whole family. Membership in a Christian group or community is a God-given tool for our spiritual well-being. And this comes from the caring center within each member that promotes sharing, love and compassion.

Most grown-ups would say that our children may be too young to appreciate our congregational worship. Oftentimes, people don’t have faith in children and they are viewed as incomplete adults. But our children have their own perceptions and their own understanding and sometimes, when we listen more, we would find that their perceptions are more insightful than the grown-ups because they have not been conditioned by society.

We can do better for our families by initiating our children (and teens!) into a community of faith by making our local congregation our community, too. Sign up for the ministries. Sing and pray together during worship time, instead of just letting the children roam free. Talk to people you meet in church. Participate in church retreats as a family. Doing all these will round up the child’s identity and begin for himself/herself the journey to discovering that we are all part of the bigger Body of Christ.

Family spirituality need not be a very complicated task with vague overtones. Go and embark on this journey as a family. Practice each point and emphasize the ways our faith shines through, so that when we leave our children behind, we will leave them a “heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.”

– message given in a youth and family awareness campaign prior to the 2003 Summer Enrichment Program