The One Thing that Impressed Jesus


My ministry

God is not impressed with anything we do. He is not impressed with how much we read the Bible or our knowledge of Scripture or how much time we spend in the building we called the church or how much money we give to the poor or, even how much we pray. When Jesus walked on this earth there was only one thing that impressed him. In Matthew 8:5-10 we find an amazing story of the only man who impressed Jesus while Jesus was amongst us.

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. (NASB)

The word Marveled is the Greek word, thaumázō; meaning “To wonder, to marvel, to be struck with admiration or astonishment.[1] What was about this Centurion that struck Jesus with such admiration and astonishment? One thing and one thing only… his faith! The word faith is the Greek word, pístis; meaning “Firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively meaning that which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith.”[2] We are many amazing things through Christ, but the only thing that impressed Jesus is our trust in HIM.

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that “…without faith it is impossible to please him.” The word please here is the Greek word euarestéō; meaning “Well pleasing. To gratify entirely, to please. To take pleasure in, to be pleased with.”[3] Do we really trust God? These days of the Coronavirus has shown that fancy worship teams and fancy preaching could not bring many folks back to the church. Many are still hiding; they are paralyzed by fear, talking about “fear not!” while still hiding and holding services via Facebook Live and Zoom! Where is our faith? Where our trust in God?

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

The Example of Christ: The Hope for Every Marriage


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When it comes down to marriage, we must understand that we are dealing with an impossible situation; that to make a marriage work is one of the most difficult things to do on this earth. Psalm 127:1 comes to mind, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” I add, unless God is in our marriage, our marriage will not be successful in His standards of success.

In a previous article entitle, The Value of a Marriage that Sucks I spoke about two ingredients that are needed for a successful marriage. The husband is to bring unconditional love for his wife and the wife is to bring respect for her husband. These two ingredients formed a glue a thousand times stronger than the Gorilla Glue.

In order to understand marriage, we must take a look at Jesus; we must take a look at the gospel. In the marriage, the husband represents Jesus and the wife represents the church. The Bible describes the husband’s function in the marriage as the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). On the other hand, the Bible encourages wives to look to their husbands as if they are Jesus themselves. Ephesians 5:22 tells us, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (NASB) The Bible also tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25 (NASB)

To be able to understand the dynamic of marriage we must look at Jesus and his example. Jesus gave his life for the church before the church even existed and before we surrendered our lives to him. Jesus demonstrated Agape love by giving us his all, without receiving ANYTHING in return. What about the wife? How can we expect the  wives to respect their imperfect husbands? Well, Jesus have a thing or two to say about this also. In Hebrew 5:8 the Bible tells us about Jesus, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (NASB) Obedience will bring forth suffering. The Bible tells us that Jesus truly started subjecting to his parents at 12 years of age,

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.42 And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it,44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:41-51 (NASB).

This word “subjection” is the same word used for wives in their relationship with their husbands; it is the Greek word, “hupotássō meaning “To place in order. To place under in an orderly fashion.”[1] If Jesus, the Lord of lord, the King of kings and all-knowing submitted himself to his imperfect parents; how can wives not submit to their imperfect husband? On the other hand, if husbands want to learn how to love their wives, even when they are disrespectful; look at Jesus… He did it and continue to do it for the church. Through HIM is possible. Is all there, is all possible… through Jesus!

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

The Value of a Marriage that Sucks


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We are surrounded by people who are marry; but how many marriages have we seen glued to each other? I am talking about they are holding hands, when they are in public, they stick together and, without a doubt, they are each other’s favorites. I don’t know about you; in my 52 years of life I can’t count with one hand marriages like that. Ephesians 5:31 tells us,

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (KJV)

The word “joined” here is the Greek Word, proskolláō; meaning, “To glue. To glue one thing to another. To be joined with or to join oneself unto, equivalent to cleave to, such as a husband to his wife.”[1]  Sadly, this is not what we see in the great majority of marriages. The husband seems to cleave to his hobbies, friends and/or toys and, the wife to hers. When they are together in a party, they are not next to each other; the wife is in one side of the room and the husband in the other. When they do talk to each other; their conversations are not really important, they can be interrupted by anybody; as a matter fact, it seems like they can’t wait for the conversation to be over. They are married, but they are not together; there is really no glue between them. They are both in their own worlds.

That glue is important; is made of two ingredients; husbands and wives are responsible for bringing those ingredients into the marriage in order for that glue to work properly. The husband is to brings love and the wife is to bring respect (Ephesians 5:33). Those two substances together formed a glue a million times stronger than the Gorilla Glue.

Marriage points directly at Jesus; the wife represents the Body of Christ (The Church). The husband represents the head (Christ). The greatest struggle of the church is to truly embrace the Lordship of Christ; that’s also the wife’s’ struggle towards her husband. Ephesians 5:22 tells us, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (KJV) The word submit here is the Greek Word, hupotássō; meaning “To place in order. To place under in an orderly fashion.[2] That means that, as long as that husband is not telling you to do something unlawful or ungodly, what he says goes. That’s a tough cookie to swallow, especially in today’s culture; but that is not even the toughest part.

The toughest part here is of the husband, because he is challenged with an impossible task; that is to love his wife like Christ love the church. Ephesians 5:26 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (KJV). What the Bible is asking a husband to do here is harder than taking a bullet for his wife or protecting her from physical harm and so on. Humans, even unbelievers, have placed their lives in danger and even given their lives for the protection of others. What we are talking about here is much deeper.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (KJV) Jesus demonstrated his love for us while we were cursing him; Jesus demonstrated his love for us before we could give him praise, before we could honor and acknowledge Him, before we utter any prayer to Him and before we asked Him permission to do anything. Jesus gave his life for us while we were in our sin, while we did not even consider doing his will and, while we were drunk in our sin. Beloved, the greatest struggle of any husband is to love his wife without getting anything in return.

There is no way around this; the wife must find a way to submit to her imperfect husband while the husband must find a way to love his wife while she keep disrespecting him, while she keeps placing others above him, while she keeps denying him sexually and when she does give it up, she is not even into it and, while she honors every other men; daddy, brother, uncle, friends, co-worker… above you. Now, it is not God’s will that we remain in a marriage that sucks; it is God’s will that we learn the lessons that we need to learn and keep moving forward. In Titus 2 Paul is speaking specifically about Sound Doctrine; he starts his teachings by addressing the older man and then the older woman,

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 1:1-5 (NASB)

Notice that the men must be 1) temperate, 2) dignified, 3) sensible, 4) sound in faith, 5) sound in love and 6) sound in perseverance.

The women on the other side is called to be 1) reverent in their behavior, 2) they must teach what is good with a focus on teaching the young women how to love their husbands. Now, is the Bible now telling wives to love their husbands; was that not the responsibility of the husband? Thank God for Greek dictionaries! The word love here is the Greek word phílandros; meaning “Loving as a friend.[3] Friendship keeps peace at home, and this is what the older women should be teaching the younger ones. Not only that, but this makes the point clear that when it comes down to friendship, husbands and wives must be each other’s best friends. On the other hand, when the Bible tells us to love our wives is in the context of the Agape love, the unconditional love. 3) The older women are also called to teach the younger ones to love their children; again, bringing that friendly atmosphere that is such a blessing in a home. 4) The older women are also called to be and teach the younger women to be sensible, that is a person of a sound mind (Mature in the Lord). 5) Pure, that is a call to holiness. 6) Workers at home, a wife’s focus should be at home and how that home is run as she is raising her children and embracing the role of suitable helper for her husband. Sadly, the woman is no longer at home; she is out attempting the get off her role and embracing the role of the man. So, we now have two people in the house fighting for the role of a man. Weird! 6) Older women are called to be kind. This is the Greek Word, agathós; meaning, “Good and benevolent, profitable, useful.[4] Lastly, 7) the older women are called to be subject to their own husband and, again to teach this to the younger ones. I must point out the impact that a good wife has in society, Paul stated, at the end of these characteristics, “…so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 1:5 (NASB) Wow!

In closing, what shall we do? Our marriage sucks, the husband doesn’t know how to love, the wife is disrespectful, so now what? Don’t divorce… LEARN! Learn the lessons that you need to learn in marriage; they are actually more important than your marriage. These lessons have eternal ramifications. Work on that glue! Wives bring that respect to your husband and husbands bring that Agape love to your wife. Focus on Jesus; his sacrifices on the cross, his resurrection and the glorious future that is awaiting the church. As we both look at Christ, Christ will indeed help us to do what we are called to do and to be what we are called to be. Some glues take more time than others, but soon enough, it will do its work. Soon enough we will be glued together! Can I get an amen?

 

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

 

ALL Black Lives Matter


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I agree that black lives matter and, I do see the insensitivity of stating that Blue Lives Matter and that All Lives Matter as an argument against this simple statement. Some in the Black Lives Matter Movement have made it clear that they are not minimizing the value of life; they are just trying to make the point that it seems like the life of a black man does not have much value.  That seems to be the way some folks in the black and white community are interpreting this cry to the conscience on America.

There have been many videos and investigations of black men killed by police officers; but the death of George Floyd left no doubt that the police, in this particular case, murdered a man that was not supposed to die that day. Not only that they murdered George Floyd, they also attempted to cover this thing up.

The police officers involved will serve long sentences in jail. However, the cry is far from over; it will not be enough. No justice, no peace, but even when justice is served, at this point, it will not satisfy or be able to take away the anger of a community that have felt the accumulation of injustices for over four hundred years. This is far from over!

We can’t find common ground anymore, not even in the flag and the national anthem of our United States of America. The iniquity of America is here! Iniquity is what comes after sin and transgression; is the effect, is the curse and the consequences. The flag and the national anthem surely do not mean the same for all of us. Many of our ancestors fought under that flag for the freedom of this nation, but they were heroes without honor; they were discriminated and humiliated just as much as they were before serving in the military. They did not receive that sense of honor and admiration that the white soldier received.

            I am a black Puertorrican, I am a Born Again Christian and, politically speaking, I identify as Conservative Independent. I voted for Trump and will vote for Trump again; not because he is perfect, we all know he is not; but because, in many areas, he is actually doing a great job and… common’… the Democratic candidates are not all that hot. From a charismatic young black man to Hillary and, now Biden?

Let me make this point very clear before I go on, I DO NOT SUPPORT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT. Why? 1) They are not Believers in Christ Jesus, so their message is filled with hate and unforgiveness. 2) They do not have their facts straight; they are willing to lie, manipulate the truth, ignore the truth or, maybe they are unable to see the truth. The numbers do not support systematic racism. According to the law there are situations where police officers are justified in using lethal force.  4) They are against freedom of expression and use intimidation tactics, even violence to keep others who do not agree with them quiet.  6) They seem to only care about a black life when is taken by the police. 7) They are nowhere to be found when a black man kills another black man. 8) They are completely silent when it comes down to abortion amongst us. In an article written by Walt Blackman entitle, “Abortion: The overlooked tragedy for black Americans”, he writes:

“Abortion impacts African Americans at a higher rate than any other population group. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an Abortion Surveillance Report. According to that report, black women make up 14 percent of the childbearing population. Yet, 36 percent of all abortions were obtained by black women. At a ratio of 474 abortions per 1,000 live births, black women have the highest ratio of any group in the country…A study by Protecting Black Lives, in 2012, found that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities.”[1]

            Yes, pointing out that black lives matter is a justifiable cause, but we must expand our cause and cry out that, ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! We are fighting the wrong fight; we are fighting the wrong people. Yes, things can always improve in the way police interact with us, but we are focusing on the wrong thing. When are we going to address the abortion rate amongst us? What about black on black crime? Why are we not loving one another? Shall we mention the lack of fathers at home?

Beloved, all black lives matter; there is a reason to say it, it should not be minimized, it should not be ridicule or ignored. So how do we fight? We must go back to God and what He did in South Philadelphia in the 1950s. I believe that there are great lessons to be learned there. I invite you to listen to civil rights leader and inner-city hero Robert Woodson, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHTJSMJqC04

I am convinced that before the coming of the Lord, God is going to do something amazing with us all around the world. The Bible tells us that the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16). My hope is not in the current civil right leaders, my hope is not in the democratic party, my hope is not in our president or any government program, my hope is in God.

[1] https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2020/02/25/abortion-the-overlooked-tragedy-for-black-americans/

We are All a Massive Disappointment


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I get the sense that men have engaged in a philosophical argument for their entire existence, arguing that God is bad while making themselves look like good people… a total contradiction of Scripture. The Bible tells us over and over that God is good. The goodness of God is well documented all through Scripture. David declared the goodness of God all through the book of Psalms. When Moses wanted to see God’s glory and insisted before God in doing so; while God was showing Moses his glory, He uttered the following words, “…The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth…”  Exodus 34:6 (NASB)

            On the other hand, there is not one human who is good in comparison to God. We seem to go through this life pretending that we are who we are not; we seem to insist in our own goodness. However, In Mark 10:17-18 Jesus addresses this argument when the rich man called Him good, Jesus tells the rich young man, “…Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18 (NASB). In Romans 3:10-12, Paul tells us,

“as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.” (NASB)

            We need to think that even when humans were at their best; in the Garden of Eden, they still fell short. The reality is that if you look at humans in history or today, one thing is for sure; we will all disappoint at one point or another; that is our reality. Husbands will disappoint their wives, wives will disappoint their husbands, our children will disappoint us, we will disappoint our children, friends will disappoint, politicians will disappoint, celebrities will disappoint, and the list goes on and on.

           We are all guilty and our only hope is Jesus Christ; HE is the only one who can resolve the mother of all of human problems; our sin, transgression, and iniquity problem. He is the only one who can make us righteous through HIM. He is the only one who can remove our guilt through Him… all through HIM.

          But make no mistake about it; the Gospel is offensive because it takes you out of your bubble of self-righteousness. Without Jesus we are all sinners deserving of all that Jesus went through on that cross. Without Jesus you are under the curse of the law. Galatians 3:13 tells us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (NASB).

          Jesus took the punishment we all deserve on that cross. Jesus followed the law; the entire law; he never sinned, he did not die for his sins, he died for ours. But why does Paul speak of the Law as a curse? It is not that the Law is a curse within itself; this means that those who are living their lives without Jesus are judged by the Law of Moses. The reason there is none good is because goodness is defined by God according to his Law and no human in history has been able to follow the Law to perfection” “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

          The Bible is very clear, nobody is able to successfully apply the Law in their lives… Nobody. Have you ever heard the expression that nobody is perfect? Well we serve a God who demands perfection. In order for us to make it to Heaven with Him, we MUST be perfect. The Law failed to make us perfect, therefore we stand separated from God because of our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. However, when Jesus died on the cross, He carried our sins and now through Him we can get near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19 explained this principle the following way,

“For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (NASB)

           How do we draw near God? By repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus; we can’t even do that on our own. That is why Paul tells us “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) If God is touching your heart while your read these words repeat this prayer:

“Jesus I am a sinner; please forgive me of my sins. I believe that you lived among us 2000 years ago and that you die for our sins on the cross. I believe in your resurrection and that today you are seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, save my soul, come into my heart, be my Savior and be my Lord… In Your name I pray… Amen!”

 

 

 

Missing the Glory Days


My ministry

For months I have felt that nobody cares about what I have to say… NOBODY! That is a hard cookie to swallow for a preacher! I know our gifts and callings are irrevocable; Romans tells us that. However, I wonder, where did my ministry go? I still hear God, I still feel his Word burning in my heart with messages, bible studies, etc. But for the most part, they end up in this blog who has become my faithful friend.

After so much sin and disappointment in my life I feel that I disqualify myself from ministry. My purpose has been severely affected. I know I will obey God if He calls me to do anything. For now, I have witnessed failures after failures in everything I do, from published books, to the starting of any ministry, local churches and yes, even in ministering to my own family. I am in a very dark place. I am now 52 and not one door has open! The glory and the top of my life as a minister go back to the summer of 2005, 15 years ago!!!! when I was called to pastor a church in Winton North Carolina and, shortly after, the Lord gave me a powerful prison ministry.

It was very common for me to preach 4 times a day. I will start my day with a morning service to the Hispanics in prison (8:00 am), then I will preach, by invitation, in whatever church cared to have me (10:30 am), then I will minister in my own church at 3 PM and lastly, I will finished my Sunday’s going back to minister to the general population at prison at 7 PM. Those were, without a doubt, my glory days. I felt so happy, I had great joy in my heart doing what I felt I was born to do. But, what price did I paid for that dedication? Well, I lost my first wife to cancer only six months after accepting my call to pastor that church in Winton, North Carolina. I kept ministering with the same schedule, but it did not last that long. I quit ministry and embraced a lifestyle of sin.

Through the years, after that, there have been moments when I have felt that I am coming back; but like an old boxer who attempts to come back to boxing, it does not go too far. So, what am I to do? I am here, ready to preach in and out of season. However, I am not forcing any doors or lose sleep over it. I will continue to work and make a living and let God use me there. This blog will continue to tell my story; the good, the bad and the ugly and, if God needs me for anything else, He knows where to find me! For now, on this hot day in Arizona, I look forward to play a round of golf, to walk the golf course at Arizona Traditions, get some exercises and keep lowering my handicap!

Dreamed with Leviticus 5:1


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On the dream we were in some kind of camp, retreat or something. I got out of bed and this white American preacher, who seemed to be accompanied by his wife, starts a full-blown Bible Study. We gathered around some round chairs, similar to bar chairs. He immediately and, very enthusiastically, asked for us to open our Bibles in Leviticus 5:1. It was like this man could not wait for me to get out of bed to start ministering. I made the comment to this preacher that I just woke up 3 minutes ago as he seemed to be in a hurry.  In this dream, I am the first to get to Leviticus 5:1; but I had problems reading it; it was fuzzy. The preacher, his wife and the small group composed of my wife, some of my children and my brother Carlos also laughed about the fact that I could not see. I laughed also and said, “I better read this thing with my cell phone so I can see.

As we all laughed the preacher walked us outside. It looked like a camping area or retreat area. The weather was nice, and it was sunny. I was getting ready to read Leviticus 5:1 out of my phone when I woke up. I immediately grabbed my phone with great expectation to read Leviticus 5:1,

“Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.” (NASB)

So, essentially, if you are an eye witness or you know of a crime, sin, violation of any law, etc. and you decide not to testify of that sin, violation of any law, etc. that you know about, that you know is wrong… then you become guilty of what you are trying to cover up. When we look at the apostles, they were constantly dealing with confronting sin and false doctrines. I am sure they have many people accusing the apostles of judging and thinking they were holier than anybody, but that did not stop them from continuing to address sin, preach the gospel, teach sound doctrine and confront false doctrine. At the end it cost them their lives. There is indeed a price to pay when we speak God’s truth. I wonder what my price would be.

It is so easy to keep our mouth close, to stop preaching and teaching, to turn our heads and go on by our business. However, we as Christians are called to be witnesses. Acts 22:15 tells us, “For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (NASB) As witnesses, we have an obligation to testify of what we see according to Leviticus 5:1. When we don’t, we become accomplice.

 

 

 

El Coronavirus y la Iglesia


coronavirus and the church

El Coronavirus a desatado un tsunami de terror y de manipulación política alrededor del mundo entero. Aún en los Estados Unido, en donde existe orgullo y pasión por la libertad, se han reportado historias de gobernadores que han abusado de sus poderes. Estamos viendo una economía paralizada, millones de personas han perdido sus trabajos y, negocios se han visto forzados a cerrar. Hemos visto cómo se promovió y se estableció, exitosamente, el que millones de personas se quedaran en sus hogares y, cuándo podían salir de sus hogares para actividades aprobadas por los gobiernos, fueron forzados a mantener distanciamiento social.

Hoy día vemos como el uso de máscaras se ha hecho mandatorio en algunos trabajos y negocios. El enfoque de este artículo no es político; quiero enfocarme en como estas pólizas han afectado la iglesia, el dilema en el cual nos encontramos y lo que tiene que ser nuestra respuesta bíblica como Cristianos.

Cómo Estas Pólizas han Afectado a la Iglesia

Los servicios de Domingo fueron cancelados alrededor de este país y el mundo. Hoy día, por ejemplo, en el Estado de Arizona, en el cual resido, las Iglesias pueden reunirse, mas solo con un 25% de capacidad. Si en tu edificio tienes capacidad para cien personas, solo puedes hacer un servicio con 25 personas para que de esa forma se pueda mantener el distanciamiento social y que las familias se mantengan seis pies de distancia el uno del otro. Es lógico que, si los pastores quieren ministrarle a toda su congregación a través de sus servicios, estarán obligados a tener más de un servicio los domingos. Entonces las preguntas lógicas son, ¿cómo van a evangelizar?, cómo controlar los invitados para no pasarse de el 25% de capacidad? Con los edificios abiertos más tiempo, ¿cómo serán afectadas sus finanzas? Más gasto de electricidad, agua, más papel sanitario, etc.

El Gran Dilema

Los pastores tienen un gran dilema en sus manos; 1) oh se adaptan ha dichas pólizas continuando sus servicios a través de las redes sociales y utilizar sus edificios a un 25% de capacidad oh, 2) regresan a las formas pasadas con sus edificios utilizados al 100% y se arriesgan a ser arrestados y pasar un tiempo en la cárcel. Quiero sugerir que existe una tercera alternativa.

Nuestra Respuesta Bíblica

¿Cuántas veces hemos dicho que la Iglesia no es un edificio? ¿No somos nosotros la Iglesia? Entonces, ¿qué perdemos si perdemos el edificio? La iglesia es una familia; las familias no se reúnen en edificios, las familias comparten sus vidas, se visitan en sus casas, van a parques juntos, se invitan en sus fiestas, van al cine juntas, disfrutan de las actividades de sus hijos, se ayudan, se hablan y disfrutan de compañerismo juntos. De ves en cuando, cuando tienen algún evento especial y las casas no son lo suficientemente grandes, rentas algún edificio por algunas horas, pero no compran o rentan edificios a largo plazo para reunirse a menos que sean familias millonarias.

Hebreos 10:25 nos dice, “no dejando de congregarnos, como algunos tienen por costumbre, sino exhortándonos; y tanto más, cuanto veis que aquel día se acerca.” (Reina Velera 1960) La iglesia no puede dejar de congregarse; estamos llamados a estar juntos compartiendo el mismo tiempo y espacio.

Para entender lo que es la Iglesia echémosle un vistazo a su Modus Operandi. Hechos 2:42 nos dice, “Y perseveraban en la doctrina de los apóstoles, en la comunión unos con otros, en el partimiento del pan y en las oraciones.” (RVR 1960). La palabra perseverancia significa, “insistir fielmente”. De este verso aprendemos que la iglesia tiene cuatro componentes:

  1. Perseverancia en el estudio de la doctrina de los Apóstoles: Los apóstoles originales no eran hombres perfectos, mas su doctrina es perfecta porque fue inspirada por el Espíritu Santo. La doctrina de los apóstoles también incluye el Viejo Testamento ya que ellos también hacían referencia a las Escrituras de los profetas. De hecho, Efesios 2:19-20 nos dice, “Así que ya no sois extranjeros ni advenedizos, sino conciudadanos de los santos, y miembros de la familia de Dios,20 edificados sobre el fundamento de los apóstoles y profetas, siendo la principal piedra del ángulo Jesucristo mismo,” (RVR1960)
  2. Perseverancia en la comunión los unos con otros: La palabra comunión viene de la palabra griega, koinōnía; que significa “compartir; comunión con participación.”[1] Hermanos, somos una familia; por eso es por lo que estamos llamados a compartir nuestras vidas, no simplemente ser parte de un servicio de Domingo. Estamos llamados a participar, no ha sentarnos a ver el espectáculo del grupo de alabanza y al pastor. Es una participación corporal en donde se enseña, pero también se hacen preguntas y comentarios como en familia.
  3. Perseverancia en el partimiento de pan juntos: Estamos llamados a comer juntos; una ves más, como hacemos en familia.
  4. Perseverancia en el orar juntos: La oración corporal es esencial cuando nos reunimos como iglesia.

Cualquier mensaje que promueva que la iglesia está llamada a adaptarse a lo que estamos viendo hoy día con el Coronavirus es un mensaje completamente antibíblico. La idea de que nosotros sigamos reuniéndonos a través de redes sociales, distanciamiento social, etc. no es de Dios. Pablo nos dice en Primera de Corintios 16:20, “Os saludan todos los hermanos. Saludaos los unos a los otros con ósculo santo.” (RVR 1960)

Creo que hay situaciones en donde tenemos que adaptarnos;  pero nunca al mundo; sino a las formas de Dios. Dicha adaptación es normal ya que nuestras formas y las formas de Dios son diferentes (Isaías 55:8),  mas cualquier adaptación contraria a las Escrituras no es de Dios.

No podemos tener compañerismos y compartir el pan juntos a través de las redes sociales. No es que diga que las redes sociales no sean utilizadas por la Iglesia, pero las mismas son suplementos, nunca una sustitución a lo que Dios nos dice que somos.

Estamos llamados a obedecer a Dios por encima de los hombres. Dios no nos da ningún tipo de excusa Bíblica para cambiar su forma de hacer Iglesia. Mas lo que tenemos que reevaluar es si nuestras formas de hacer Iglesia, antes del Coronavirus, eran de acuerdo con la Biblia o no.

Por ejemplo, en el Nuevo Testamento veo referencia a cantos espirituales (Efesios 5:19) mas no he encontrado ningún verso bíblico que hable de un grupo de alabanza o adoración. De hecho, no encuentro ningún verso bíblico que conecte la Adoración con música. Tampoco encuentro la palabra púlpito en ninguna de las reuniones de los apóstoles.

Por último, no hay ninguna referencia bíblica o histórica que nos diga que la iglesia original de los apóstoles se reunía en edificios. La Iglesia original se reunían en casas; el cristianismo era mucho más personal y mucho más real de lo que es hoy día. Ese fue el sistema exitoso que impactó de la siguiente forma:

Y sobrevino temor a toda persona; y muchas maravillas y señales eran hechas por los apóstoles.

44 Todos los que habían creído estaban juntos, y tenían en común todas las cosas;

45 y vendían sus propiedades y sus bienes, y lo repartían a todos según la necesidad de cada uno.

46 Y perseverando unánimes cada día en el templo, y partiendo el pan en las casas, comían juntos con alegría y sencillez de corazón,

47 alabando a Dios, y teniendo favor con todo el pueblo. Y el Señor añadía cada día a la iglesia los que habían de ser salvos. Hechos 2:43-47 (RVR 1960)

Noten que el verso 46 nos habla de que perseveraban unánimes en el templo cada día. Recordemos que estos apóstoles originales eran todos de descendencia hebrea. El templo era el remanente del famoso templo de Salomón donde aún hoy muchos van a orar. Los cristianos originales iban al templo a orar, mas también a tratar de evangelizar a sus hermanos judíos.

Los cristianos originales también se reunían en las sinagogas. Los fariseos eran parte de una religión reconocida por los Romanos. El cristianismo no era reconocido por los romanos; al contrario, era ilegal el predicar a Jesús en esos días. Es claro el ver por que los cristianos no duraron mucho en reunirse en las sinagogas, por lo que fueron forzados a reunirse en sus casas en medio de una severa persecución. Mas, es bajo esas circunstancias que vemos un Iglesia como nunca antes vista en su historia:

  1. Una Iglesia en donde existía el temor a Dios. (Hechos 2:43)
  2. Una Iglesia con un liderazgo verdaderamente ungido en donde grandes señales y milagros fueron realizados. (Hechos 2:43)
  3. Una Iglesia unidad. (Hechos 2:44)
  4. Una Iglesia en donde se ayudaban los unos a los otros, (Hechos 2:45) hasta el punto de que no había nadie en necesidad. (Hechos 4:34)
  5. Una iglesia que perseveraba junta con mucha alegría y sencillez de corazón. (Hechos 2:46)

La pregunta final es, ¿en dónde está esa Iglesia? Creo que si prestamos atención, el Coronavirus, que el diablo desató para destruirnos, nos acercará aún más a una Iglesia sin mancha y sin arrugas. Mas no insistamos en nuestros sistemas y el legado de Constantino; quien enfatizó en su propia fama, mezclando lo santo con lo profano para complacer a todo el mundo. Miremos a las sendas antiguas, ahí está el camino, ahí está la verdad y ahí está lo que verdaderamente es eficiente.

“Así dijo Jehová: Paraos en los caminos, y mirad, y preguntad por las sendas antiguas, cuál sea el buen camino, y andad por él, y hallaréis descanso para vuestra alma…” Jeremías 6:16 (RVR 1960)

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Fruitless Spiritual Exercises


My ministry

For a long time, I felt that we as Christians are always looking for shortcuts. However, I was wrong about that. See, a shortcut is an easier and faster way to get to the same destination. What we are doing is not a shortcut because the reality is that we are not getting to such destination; the destination is to bear fruit (Matthew 7:16). Titus 2, Ephesians 5 and First Peter 3 are great examples of what bearing fruit looks like.

The Apostle Paul speaks about dying daily (I Corinthians 15:31). John the Baptist speaks about the need for Jesus to increase in him while he most decrease (John 3:30). Our Christian life is all about dying to our ways and surrendering to the ways of God.

On this article I will address two aspects of our Christian life that we are getting wrong; the reading of God’s Word and our idea of worship through music. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us to just read God’s Word and, there nothing, especially in the New Testament, that attaches any musical note or song to worship… Nothing! There is not one example of any Worship Team in the New Testament, not one. Nevertheless, worship teams are at the center of our Sunday services.

When it comes down to God’s Word, we have two specific mandates, 1) to study God’s Word and, 2) to apply it.

Second Timothy 2:15 tells us,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV)

The word “study” here is the Greek Word spoudázō; meaning “To be diligent, earnest, or eager.”[1]What we are talking about is to be diligent in rightly dividing the word of truth. This requires more than just reading, this requires time and effort to truly understand what the Scripture is saying. Studying is not enough either, the ultimate goal is application. James 1:23-25 tells us,

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (NASB)

That same fruitless life applies to Christians that have fallen into this hyper-music view of Christianity. Music in the Christian world is indeed overrated. Folks think that they can listen to Christian music and they are magically in the presence of God based on what they feel. However, a lot of what we call the presence of God, based on Christian music, is based on our musical preference. Those who like southern gospel music or Johnny Cash will probably find Fred Hammond not anointed, but annoying. At the end of the day we are reacting to certain styles and rhythms we like; there is nothing spiritual about it. We can call it worship all we want to, but as I said before, there is not one musical note, not one instrument, not one style of music or anything musical attached to worship, especially in the New testament. In John 4:23-24 Jesus made the following statement to the Samaritan Woman,

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NASB)

The Greek Word for “Worshipers” is, proskunētḗs meaning… “One who reverences God.”[2] The word “Worship” comes from the Greek word proskunéō; meaning. “To worship, to show respect, to fall or prostrate before. Literally, to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or reverence.”[3] Where in these definitions do you see any music? Yes, we are called to sign to the Lord, but singing has nothing to do with worship. Singing and playing instruments is not even named as a spiritual gift. Worship is not a song, is a lifestyle.

            So, at the end of the day we must take a closer look at our faith, make an assessment of ourselves and see how we are doing as husbands, wives, friends, in our jobs, communities, etc. Are we bearing fruit? Think about the older women in the church, well respected by the church and community, but has no respect for her husband. Think about the man, a leader in the church, but has no clue on how to love his wife. Think about the, “worship leader” singing all those wonderful songs, oh, he has people in tears with his “anointing”, while embracing a life of fornication. Think about the pastor who has a wife and children; considered a great teacher of God’s Word, but have been sleeping with his secretary. What went wrong here? How can this be? Beloved this is the exaltation of talents over character; no reverence to God. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus touched on this topic by stating,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (NIV)

The will of God is holiness; a true relationship with God will have a profound effect in our lives; we should never settle for nothing less. When we have a relationship with God that means that we practice finding ourselves in His presence; that means that we will enjoy the benefits of his presence in our own characters. It is impossible to have a relationship with God and not experience change in our lives. In his presence we find many benefits, here I just want to mention a few.

  1. In God’s presence we find joy. (Psalm16:11)
  2. In God’s presence we find divine rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)
  3. In God’s presence we find Peace. (Colossians 3:15)
  4. In God’s presence our secret sins are revealed. (Psalm 90:8)
  5. In God’s presence we find strength and encouragement. (Isaiah 40:31)
  6. In God’s presence we find a change in the things that delight us. (Psalm 37:4)

Let’s get real, if we find ourselves depressed, stress out, anxious, with no conviction of sin, tired, discouraged and, if our delight is in the things of this world over the things of God, whatever spiritual exercise you are doing is clearly not working. I say to those who keep going to the same dry church, for those who keep reading the same books, looking for devotionals online, listening to gospel music and so on, if you are not changing is because you have not gotten a hold of the real deal… that is, you have not gotten a hold of God.

Study the Scripture, throw out those one-year Bible reading plans. Some folks are so busy reading the Scripture, rushing to read the whole Bible in a year, that they are missing what God is trying to tell them. Slow down… Listen!!!! Turn off the radio so that you can hear the still small voice of God. The great Prophet Elijah learned that as he was facing a deep depression in his life;

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” First King 19:11-13 (NASB)

            Beloved, what are you doing in that dark and dry place? That’s not what God wants for you. Get a hold of God… get a hold of the benefits of his presence and let’s bear fruit for His glory.

 

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

God-Centered or Self-Centered


Unknown

The Tower of Babel was men first organized rebellion against God. Men sinned before, but this was the first-time that men manifested an open rebellion against God. One thing is for us to miss the mark; when we do, is not that we want to miss the mark; is that in our imperfection we are aiming in the right direction, but we just… miss the mark. The other is when we, purposely and intentionally, miss the mark. That is now a rebellion against God; that is now the sin of transgression. You know is wrong, but you do it, not out of your own weakness, but out of your own open disobedience to God. Genesis 11:1-9 tells us

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (NIV)

The root of all false religion, secret societies and self-centeredness is found in the Tower of Babel. The central idea of building a name for ourselves is at the heart of our rebellion against God. We no longer live to give glory to God; we live to make a name for ourselves. See, Eve was tricked by the devil and she sinned, but that’s not what she wanted to do. Cain killed his brother out of jealousy because God favored Abel offering over his. However, with the Tower of Babel, men decided to organize himself and willingly rebel against God. They refused to obey and trust God, who told Adam and later Noah, to multiply and filled the earth (Genesis 1:28 / Genesis 9:1).

So how this self-centeredness and refusing to live to give glory to God looks like today? Social media! Folks who walk around taking selfies and making worthless videos about what they do. Everybody is now an expert; everybody is now wise in their own opinion. We want to build a name for ourselves; we are hoping to be the creators of the next viral video.

Folks are walking around distracted, they can’t stay away from their phones, they can’t stay away from social media. The devil have them right where he wants them… focusing on themselves! “According to Nick Zagorski (2017), a writer for Psychiatric News, recent studies have shown that social media use is linked to feelings of social isolation, depression, insecurity, jealousy, and poor self-esteem.” ( https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/causes-of-social-media-addiction-illness ) “One part of being a social media addict is the inability to stop checking social media sites throughout the day. A study on college students showed that 45% admitted to social media use 6-8 hours a day (Wang, Chen, & Liang, 2011). ( https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/causes-of-social-media-addiction-illness )

Social media is the way folks are building a name for themselves today. This is the new version of the Tower of Babel. In the last days we read of a false prophet who will cause people to worship an image. Revelation 13:15 tells us, “The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (NIV) I believe that image will be found through the internet. The devil cannot be in more than two places at the time, but the image will have the ability to know what we are doing in our secret places. How? I believe that through technology he will be able to know what we are doing. So, this is a time to make a change, to be God-centered and not self-centered; to give glory to God and not focus on making a name for ourselves; to give God the inner most part of us… our spirit and to worship him.