Rise up and Walk

“1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”

5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.

6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up,

 and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God,

10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” – Acts3:1-10

Imagine the life of this man – he is being carried daily to be put at the temple to beg (v2) which has been his case ever since he was born. What do you think would this man’s response be if you ever dare ask him about his condition? Will there be a message of hopelessness or hope? Will there be a sign of discontent or acceptance?

I was studying this chapter, and there were so many beautiful thoughts that the Lord has revealed to me about Himself. Whether seeing the story in the beggar’s point of view, Peter /John’s, or the reader’s, there is one message, among many awesome others, which stood out: It’s all about God. 🙂

Let’s first focus on the healing of the lame man. What an awesome God we have to give the beggar more than what he asked for. The man extended his hands to receive alms in order to survive yet another day, but God gave him life instead when, through Peter and John, he was healed that he may walk, live, and praise the Lord (v9a).

What does this story speak to us today?  

1. On getting healed and moving forward – a reader’s point of view.

When the power of the Lord touches us, the change will be very visible (v9a).  This is not just on the physical aspect, but on the spiritual aspect most importantly. One of my favorite authors once wrote, that when one person encounters Jesus Christ, it will be very impossible for that person’s life to be left unchanged.  Just like how the people saw the lame man already walking and praising God (v9a), a person who has truly encountered Jesus Christ will have its fruits flourish before everyone’s eyes.

When the Lord pours His spiritual healing to His chosen ones, we will see the unbeliever believe in Him. The eyes of those who are spiritually blind will be opened. The rebellious people will acknowledge God.

It will not stop in knowing the truth, in the same way that the story about the lame man does not stop at just getting healed.  The Lord brought healing to the beggar so that he could stand up, live, and bless others – not sit at the temple and continue to live his old life.

Jesus Christ did not die just to save us from the fires of hell, but in order for us to be reconciled to Him. And this reconciliation means walking with Him daily, carrying up our cross, and joyfully following His footsteps.  A person touched by God will not remain stagnant but His power will definitely move His children – to stand up and rise from where we are paralyzed.

Is there an area in our lives that is holding us back and hindering us from moving forward? God does not want us to stay there and just strive to survive.  He wants to rescue us from it so that we can begin to live.  Just as how He rescued us from our sins so we can have eternal life.  Take note of the command.  It says, “Rise up and walk”.  When being able to “rise up” signifies healing from whatever, a command to “walk” speaks of moving forward and pressing on.

2. On pressing on in order to be used as God’s instrument to bless others – the beggar and Peter’s point of view.

Once upon a time, we were like this beggar, who could only be content to ask for alms that will enable us to survive on this earth.  For as long as we can eat, and drink, and have the things which we thought mattered in this life, whether big or small, then we can sleep at night and think we are safe.  If we don’t have much, it means more work for the discontented.

Once upon a time, we may or may not have wondered, is life only about daily survival? We get what we just need for a day, or a week, or a month. We keep ourselves away from danger so we can survive.  Just like the beggar in this chapter who gets his share from temple-goers, enough to keep him breathing for the day. But is life just about that?

Now this. Once upon a time, there were people like Peter and John, whom God used to heal our blindness which disabled us from being who God designed us to be. When the Lord healed us, we saw that there is so much more than this temporary life. It’s called eternal life.  Just like the beggar who has been healed and immediately stood up, lived, and leaped to praise God, we too as Christians, who have received God’s spiritual healing, should not be stagnant but should keep moving forward and pressing on to witness and make Jesus Christ known.  We have been healed, so apart from the natural response of rejoicing about getting healed, I think we owe the world the truth – that we have a God who came to the world to heal the sick (in other words, to forgive the sinners).

The lame man has blessed the world when he uncontrollably and joyfully praised God for being physically healed. Peter has blessed me, when he pointed the world not to himself but to Jesus Christ (v16) when the world did not understand that it was God who healed the man, and not Peter nor John.

One day, the Lord brought a “Peter” into our lives, so that we will know Jesus Christ. We can also be a Peter in someone else’s life by sharing Jesus Christ to them. Not silver nor gold, but Jesus Christ – the eternal life.

Filipinos Return to Leyte, Afraid of What They Will Find

“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” -Psalm121:4

It is very devastating to see people hurting over lost loved ones; crying for survival; and asking how to even start over and move on from this disaster. 😥

These I know: that we have a God, who is not only a Builder and Maker of all things, but that He is also a God who brings restoration to His people. He does not only heal, but He also binds up wounds.

Putting all my hopes to the Lord!And praying for everyone who were affected by Yolanda!

Lord! Please heal our land! ♥

The 24-hour Psychological Clock and Beyond: My Wildest Attempt to Define “Time”

Try to imagine how people are so bounded by time. We get up in the morning and rush ourselves to our first activity of the day. Take a bath; eat bread/cookies; brush our teeth; read a book or perhaps the latest news. In whatever ways we start and end our day, we all are certain to squeeze in all activities in our 24-hour psychological time.

So what is it about this vast word? I close my eyes and think of how every person relates to time. Metaphorically speaking, I see a bunch of individuals walking in different pace.  If one stops moving, he could be left behind. If one runs too fast, he might miss a lot.

In my wildest attempt to define it, here’s my opinion about what we usually hear on this subject.

1. Time matters. I agree.

Time is not something I own until today has been given. Every second lost is either a misplaced gram of gold or a locked-out treasured piece of it. It can only be savored but it can never be restored. We are all blessed with time, but it is something we can only use once it has been given. It is given once. It cannot co-exist. If you missed to use a second of it, you lose that chance forever.

2. Time heals all wounds. I disagree.

Does time heal all wounds? No. But as we run with time, we move away from the memories that killed us. It does not heal but it only makes us forget what used to consume us in that point of time. So we find ourselves in the middle of two realities: The reality of the past and the reality of the present. So time never heals. It only makes us cross over one reality from another, and on that sense, acceptance is what we need to get across.

3. There is a right time for everything. I agree.

The first reason why I agree on this is because that is written in the Bible. The definition of the word “right” in this verse is an appointed time, and not “right” as opposed to “wrong”.  A time has been set for every activity on earth. The second reason has something to do with beliefs and priorities. (I should right another blog for this)

Image

FYI, I did not spend my entire life trying to define this noise that ticks relentlessly in the head. But getting triggered by Tozer’s idea of it, I saw how many of us have been affected by our view on this topic. It is psychological, that it could dictate our actions.

Do you know that God is not concerned with time?  I learned from Tozer that unlike humans, God does not run with time. I quote, “God has no yesterdays and no tomorrows. He can’t have yesterdays and tomorrows, because yesterday is time and tomorrow is time, but God surrounds it all and God has already lived tomorrow.” 

When the Bible said, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow”, it was referring to our today, our yesterday, and our tomorrow, and not His.

Is it not a wonderfully liberating thought? God is so powerful that nothing can control Him; and on that matter, do I need to mention that He is in control of everything? So just when we think it’s too late, or too early, and things become hopeless in our watch, that is never the case when it comes to God. (Insert a big-wonderfully-amazed smiley)

So what if God is not bounded by time and has lived our past, present, and future? I am trying to grasp; that while I imagine people to be inside the box of time, the Lord has, once again amazed me with His power magnified by how He shows Himself to be above everything. Even over a thing which I thought has controlled me.

*****

Now the questions are: How are we using this limited human resource? Where are we investing it? How do you define time? 🙂

 

He, Who also shed tears on earth, will wipe our tears away

Cross and the Jukebox is a radio ministry by Russel Moore, a pastor who serves at a Baptist Church.  I have listened to him preach through podcasts downloaded from the internet.  In his show, Russel Moore responds to a specific song as he answers/comments to the lyrics as if it was a concern presented by a person to a counselor.

One of my favorite episodes was the one titled “tears in heaven”. I learned that the song was written and sung by a father (Eric Clapton) who lost his son when the young child crawled out and fell off from the window. It’s a very tragic story.

Tears in heaven” was written with a heart full of grief and deep pain. Through his song, Eric was saying that “time will not heal the wounds; time is not going to address this; time will not make the situation easier; and that the only way to ever get out of the suffering he feels, is to be with his son”.

An excerpt of the lyrics:

                                                              Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

I, like Russel, personally do not know Eric’s religious background. But we can see in his song how much he was longing to be with his son in heaven. Though this story was mentioned and elaborated a little, the episode more on addressed one question Eric raised in his song: will we recognize each other in heaven?

Russell made the following points:

1. It is a shame for a person who knows the Scriptures to ask such a question like “will we recognize each other in heaven?”

He says that it is legitimate for someone who does not believe in God or,perhaps believes in Him yet does not really know Him, to ask  about whether “we will recognize each other in heaven or not”. But for someone who knows the Scriptures, and asks such questions, he says “it’s a shame”.

It is sad for a Christian to view heaven as an “isolating” or a “lonely” place. The fact that someone could ask a question like “would we recognize each other in heaven?” implies how one pictures out what heaven looks likes. Heaven is not ‘you isolated in a place of clouds, with God explaining to you what your life was on earth’.

The new creation, as the Scripture says, is “relational”. Jesus said “you will dine with me. . .in my Father’s kingdom”. It is a resumption of the relationship that we have with Jesus today.

2. God will wipe away our tears in heaven

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -Rev21:4

Russel said that for someone who is in Eric’s situation, one could be tempted to think that he is abandoned by God ‘because he has tears‘. It is easier said but of course we know that is not true (c.ref.Romans8:28).

At the resurrection day, God promised that, He will wipe away every tear. And the hands that will wipe our tears away, are the hands of a God who has also shed tears in this world. A God who understands. On that day, everything (including the struggles we face) will finally make sense. On the last day, we will know why we had to go through some bumps on the road, and we will understand how the Spirit was working in conforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

What I love about this episode, other than the few points mentioned above, is that it perfectly reminds us that the troubles we face each day, light or heavy, are just momentary.  It is just a piece of the whole puzzle. A part of one great plan. Rather temporary.

Work-in-Progress: Heart Check

There was a little discomfort felt in my left ear one afternoon. So I browsed the internet to check what symptom it could possibly be. Reading through, I found one sentence that redirected my attention from the thought of a possible “ear infection” to a problem more serious than that. The line says make sure the treatment is for the problem and not the symptoms.

Here goes another web of thoughts in my mind: healing the symptom does not heal the real problem. I would like to share three aspects I have seen with that one statement: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

1. Physical aspect

I do remember  how Joemar, one of my classmates in college and a brother in Christ, used “headache” as an illustration to explain one theory in our “management class”. He says one of the causes for getting a “headache” is at times when we have “tooth pain”. The tooth hurts so bad that it seems to connect to our head. We take some medicine to relieve the pain; the headache is gone, and perhaps the toothache too, but the real problem is not solved. In the end, we still need to see the dentist for check-up, so that she/he can give us the proper remedy: something that lasts longer and something that does not only give a temporary relief. 2. Emotional Aspect
 Emo-ness? Stress? Heart-aches? Loneliness? What else?How have you been dealing with “heart stuffs”? I am guilty of dwelling into “comfort food” sometimes. Like when little things bring me down, and I grab a cup of Dairy Queen Blizzardwhich somehow makes me happy for a while.Or when you are broken-hearted, and you think refusing to listen to love songs will help, and you felt successful with that, but when you hear someone talk about your “___”, you freak-out and ask a lot of questions which only shows how paranoid you are.Or when all your friends are at your condo, and all the laughter excites you; but when they all go home and you turn off the lights as you lay down in bed, you realized that the happiness you felt only healed the “symptom”: loneliness and sadness.It really did not solve the real problem: “a heart which is not right with God”. 3. Spiritual AspectWe are spiritually sick by nature, because we are sinners. Let’s think about those times we have done something that is clearly wrong; whether it’s big or small, does not really matter much, because in God’s standards, what he demands is PERFECTION. Since we are sinners, we have been separated from God. What kind of remedies do we go for?Someone said, she would go to church every Sunday because that will bring her closer to God. “Closer”, maybe. But will that solve her spiritual condition? Maybe not.

Another one said, “I would give to the poor 90% of my salary, that way I can earn my way to God”. Uhm, that would please God, but will it solve her spiritual condition? No.

The truth is that we are spiritually sick. And we cannot remedy that problem by doing good things to cover the wrong ones. We have to go to the Doctor to heal us. And that Doctor is Jesus Christ. He brought healing to mankind, when He shed His blood on the Cross to wash our sins away. He said It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” –Matthew9:12

If you think Jesus will only love you because you are good, then you are so wrong. He loved us even when we are still sinners. And it is for that very reason why He came down to earth: to save the sick, even those who do not know they are lost.

Question: How are we today? physically, emotionally, and above all, spiritually? How have we been dealing with the situations we are on right now? Are we treating the “symptom” because we are too scared to face our “real conditions”? Or are we already allowing the Doctor to heal us because we know that, by ourselves, we are truly helpless?