Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!


Growing up in Puerto Rico I used to love to fight. I became an amateur boxer as a teen just to add to the “reputation.” Shortly after 1991, as I made Jacksonville home, I started studying various styles of Martial Arts; it was a more civilized and in a sense, legal way, of getting some of this fighting steam out of me. I have been involved in many fights in my life, but nothing can even come close to the intensity of fighting the good fight of faith.

“FIGHT the good FIGHT of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:12)

The assault against our faith is brutal in our secular society today. For many politicians and celebrities in Hollywood for example, it is almost a career killer to declare their faith in Jesus Christ publicly. Stating that you are pro-life or that you believe in the sanctity of marriage between a men and a woman is in fact a career risk that not many are willing to take. You will be mocked, ridiculed and lied about. The liberal media will fashion a distorted public image of you with the intention of destroying your reputation that will be next to impossible to rehabilitate. They will find ways to dig things out of your past with the sole intention of discrediting you as a true Christian and label you as a hypocrite. It is indeed a bloody fight. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12:

“For we WRESTLE not against flesh and blood…”

The word “wrestle” here implies that you are fighting an enemy whose objective is to choke you to death as he sits on top of you! Neither boxing, Kickboxing or even Ultimate Fighting can compare to the nature of this brutal clash. Your enemy is bold; he is not doing a “drive by shooting” on you; he enjoys being on top of you choking and   watching you as you die!

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10)

I must also admit that not all of the fights I engage in were good. A good fight for us is the one we can be declared winners of at the end. I myself lost a few while I also got seriously hurt. The good news about this fight of faith is that, if we don’t quit, our victory is guaranty. The Apostle Paul, who fought bloody battles himself, encouraged us with these words:

“I have fought a good FIGHT, I have finished my course; I have kept the faith:” (I Timothy 4:7)

No one is taking away from the fact that the blows are real and very painful at times; but do not be discouraged; you and I will win this fight if we persevere until the end. So, ladies and gentlemen let’s get ready to rumble!

Empathy and Christian Counseling in Jacksonville


How many of us have found ourselves in a position where we really need to talk to someone and all we get is somebody that can’t wait for you to finish, so that they can go on with their business? Sometimes you get an “I will be praying for you,” but you already know that, that person will not even be thinking about you as soon as the conversation is over. Others shout and tell you, “All you need is God,” or “All the answers you need are in the Bible; read it!” Others actually take the time to pray for you and that is as far as their service to you goes. You go to church, you hear a good sermon, but then you go back home and not only do the issues remain there, but you still find yourself without the tangible and practical tools to deal with the problem.  

Empathy is defined as, “The ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties.” Empathy is also defined as, “The capacity to feel another person’s experience,” (Anger Management for the Twenty First Century by PhD Anthony Fiore and PhD Ari Novick). Empathy, my friends, is a deep emotional connection to what others are going through. You may say, “Well Angel that is just another secular approach.” Let me answer that statement by quoting Romans 12:15:

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

Many of us envy those that rejoice and don’t want to be bothered with those that weep (Too much drama!). James 5:16 remind us to “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” Do you ever wonder why healing is not taking place in the majority of our churches in America? Perhaps we are not confessing our issues, our sins and our problems to one another. Without that confession there is no healing! It is that simple! So the real question here is, why are we not confessing our issues, our sins and our problems to one another? Because there is no empathy. Why add to our pain by talking to someone that does not care about what we are going through?

This is the reason why counseling is becoming so popular. More and more, people are realizing that therapy is not only for crazy people, but therapy is helping “normal” folk deal with their issues. It is in therapy that many find that one-on-one attention and are not only finding empathy, but also practical and effective ways to deal with their challenges. Now, I don’t deny the power of God to resolve any issue in a moment; however, many times things are not resolved in a moment. I believe that the reason for that is that God does not want us to become spiritually lazy. God encourages us in His Word to “Work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12)   Yes, there is a place for us to do our part and there is a place for us to help one another. There are issues that can be resolved within a sermon, others that can be resolved with a word of encouragement and/or a prayer; others with a sound Biblical advice. There are however, others that need to go through a therapeutic process.  It is not a coincidence that Dr. Phil is so popular! People have issues and they are looking for help. I encourage you today to look for help; this city is filled with many extraordinary therapist that are ready to give you an atmosphere of empathy as well as the wisdom that you need to help you resolve, be set free, or to better cope with issues that are outside of your control. My respect, love and admiration to the therapist in our beautiful River City… Keep up the good work, we need you!

 

When Faith does not Move Mountains


The preacher prayed for the sick and the sick quickly recovered. The man on TV supernaturally sees a man heal from a neck injury he suffered many years ago. The missionary in Mexico has incredible documented miracles as the death rise to embrace the beauty of life again. The mother prayed for her child and successfully rebukes the fever out of him. A husband is heard in the middle of night crying out to God as he intercedes for his wife in prayer. His wife goes back to the doctor the next day and the malign tumor is gone as the doctors watched astonished. Behind these and many other testimonies is the faith of many brothers and sisters around the world.

            But what happens when the miracle you eagerly prayed for did not come to pass? Shall we blame the lack of faith of the one praying; or perhaps the person receiving the prayer did not have enough confidence. These arguments can be made accurate. However, to make a quick judgment concerning these matters is a Biblical error.

            Faith has two dimensions; one is the charismatic, full of action, exciting and with plenty of great testimonies. It is the faith we all would like to have and testify about. However, the other dimension of faith is deeper and requires a greater maturity. It is the aspect of faith that takes you from believing in a miracle, to trusting God in-spite of the visible results. It is the faith of David as he stood up from weeping and fasting before the Lord for the life of his new born child who was destined to die as the result of David’s adulterous sin. That faith assisted him to stand and worship the Lord as the news was given to the king that his son was now dead. It is the faith that inspired the Prophet Habakkuk to sing:

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation”. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

            It is the faith of the Apostle Paul as he prayed for his own healing; the Lord answered him by saying: “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The Apostle Paul then added in this same verse:  “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” What power is Paul talking about? How can the word “power” be used when the miracle he was expecting did not take place? Because Paul moved in the power of the dimension of faith that trusts God in-spite of what his eyes were able to see or not. This my friends, is the faith that does not move mountains, but moves our hearts closer to God; this is the faith that matures and grows us spiritually, the faith that moves us from spoiled children to grateful men and women who love God no matter what!