Friday, September 20th, 2019

I need help!

Wise people ask for help.

— Myrnaly Sepulveda.

I am always looking for ideas to decorate the house, new recipes and things about writing or crafts. All tutorials I watch or read gives the impression to be very easy and accessible. I like to try new things but sometimes they don’t turn out as I expected.

I have always said that at school I was not taught enough about cutting with scissors. I can do different crafts but at the time of cutting, my skills are not the most skilled. Still, I try.

Well, I will tell you that I was watching some new tutorials and yesterday I started my first task, cutting a piece of cardboard. Cutting the first piece, I also cut my finger.

I could not believe it! In the first cut! – “This is not for me” – I thought – “the craftsmanship has arrived here”.

I told my husband as soon as he got home from work what had happened to me and that my new project ended right there. He looked at me with a smile on his face and hugged me. He told me to remember that this was not my area of expertise, but that it did not mean that I should give up to what I wanted to achieve.

He told me that it is okay to ask for help when needed and that this next Saturday, we had no commitments scheduled and he would help me with the parts that involved cutting things with the scissors.

Frequently, we want to be totally self-sufficient and forget that it is wise to ask for help when we need it. This world teaches us that we seem weak when depend on others and we take that into our spiritual life.

God is our help. He knows us so well that he knows that we are filled with anguish and anxiety when we see ourselves helpless in life situations.

Jesus invites us “Come to me all who are worked and loaded, and I will give you rest” in Matthew 11:28.

It is a blessing to face the circumstances of life with the help of God and our family in faith. We need someone to listen, someone to encourage us and we need to feel loved when we are overwhelmed. It is wise to have a support group of Christian friends or our leaders.

It is of great joy to know that God does not leave us alone. We have someone to hold us. We have help available.

Let’s pray to the Lord presenting our burdens, doubts and concerns knowing that in Him we will find rest and strength for our circumstances. Let us live and experience the joy that He gives us when we find help and support in the family of faith.

** Remember that it is wise to ask for help.

From text messages to no-calls.

I thought about how as time changes and evolves, communications change too. Not only does our environment changes, as far as technology is concerned, but it also changes in our relationships.

I remember when my husband and I were getting to know each other. Sometimes we used text messages (there were many of those), at other times, phone calls, and then we went out and shared time face to face.

In the beginning, we discussed topics about our tastes, knowing our life stories, and what we liked. Today, having been married for years, and especially during this time of quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my cell phone has almost no registered calls to his number, because we are together all the time and there is no need to call us.

We already have a story together and can refer to it in our conversations. Often, just by looking at the expressions on my face, he already knows what I’m thinking.

Let’s think about our relationship with God. At first, we find it difficult to hear God’s voice. We find ourselves in that stage where we are knowing about each other and through the Scriptures, prayer, and biblical studies and preaching, we are knowing who God is, what is his way of acting, his attributes, his nature. But He already knows everything about us. We have these little encounters with Him as we pray with passionate faith, curious about this new life and longing for more, like those text messages.

But our spiritual life must evolve as we cultivate our relationship with God. Later on, we may see God in life’s circumstances and we may perceive his direction when we read the Bible, and we see promises that we can hold on to in difficult times, we notice His advice that gives us direction and we start asking for help from the Holy Spirit as we learn his commandments for our lives. We learn that we need obedience in order to live a better life. By this time, it already looks more like phone calls.

But time flies, and we are already having a history, from the moment we gave our lives to the Lord and everything we have lived until we get to where we are today. We can see that God has brought us this far. So far his grace and fidelity have accompanied us. We can hear the voice of God in the small things that we do every day, or in every situation that arises during the day. We can hear his voice in praise, or in a quiet whisper in our ears.

Perhaps at first, we were very dependent on others helping us distinguish the voice of God. Already today, we can help others to enjoy the blessing of hearing his voice in their lives.

For our earthly body, where sin dwells but no longer dominates us, we do not have a face-to-face relationship with Him, we will fail him, and sometimes, as in a marriage, we will have no desire to speak, but his love is unconditional, and never let us. Then we return to take back what brings us the joy and peace that by his grace we have received.

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks for his presence in our lives even when we are not aware of it. Let us present our lives longing to hear his voice every day and give thanks for the times we have listened to him.

Do not let the leaves wither in pandemic times

We took advantage of the pending delivery of some protocol manuals to clinical laboratories in the north of the island to get all four of us on the car, after the closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The plans were very simple, buy breakfast by drive-thru, get to the north area and return without stopping anywhere along the way to protect ourselves from contagion. But a look at the landscape, on the way, did not hurt us.

And, so we did. We left early in the morning, went through a drive-thru at a coffee shop, bought some breakfast, and continued the journey. We were able to make all the deliveries in the morning and we were at a good time to return to our house, in the south area of the island, avoiding the heavier traffic in the afternoon.

I do not know why I looked for directions in the cell phone’s GPS because I had taken that road before. The truth is that it led us down a new route, a new shortcut, I thought. But before long we were away from the highway and taking a mountain sight route.

That’s not what I expected. I don’t really like winding roads in the middle of nowhere. That was not the plan. Then I thought that God had that surprise prepared for us for the months we had not left home. So I began to observe the landscape on the way. We were en route to our house but through a different path.

We have spent very dry days and grassland fires were yearning for rainwater. But I am always amazed by the Flamboyan trees who, regardless of the weather, wear their best flowers, brightly colored, orange-reddish.

The Flamboyan trees remind me of that tree described in Psalm 1 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

We are living in times that shake us from the depths. We have experienced earthquakes, pandemics, a lot of uncertainty in the environment, economic losses, and closed churches. We might think that our best leaves wilt, but they don’t. It is in those times where our source of water is not provided by us, because we cannot produce it when the Holy Spirit of God sustains our lives, guides us and refreshes us with the water of life, that makes us bear fruit, that does not leave us to wither away because of the circumstances before us.

It is time to be that tree with bright colors that draws the attention of those who look at the landscape. Do those who know me, those who look at me, long for the grace and favor of God? Do they long for what they see in me? Does my testimony impact your lives and do you have to recognize that there is a greater source of water that we cannot supply?

For that I must delight in the law of God, not only to know His Word, the Scriptures, I am supposed to delight in them. I might fee myself alive if I long for each day to be more like Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. Otherwise, my leaves may wither away in the midst of difficult situations. Jesus not only gave us salvation, but He also gave us abundant life in Him. We will bear fruit at the right time, regardless of the circumstances.

Let us pray to the Lord asking him to help our thirst for his Word and that we can delight in it, that we do not see it as a responsibility, but as a longing. May others come to Him by seeing Him in our lives.

My finances in pandemic times

We have been living at different times.

This year has been one that stands out above all that we have lived to date.

Here in Puerto Rico, we started on January 7 with an earthquake. We are still experiencing the aftershocks as the sequel of the main event.

When we said goodbye to 2019, we thought this 2020 would be a year of productivity, for the complete transformation of Puerto Rico after the consequences of Hurricane Maria, category 5, where the funds were finally received and put into work, transforming the roads and another recovery necessary a little over two years after their attack.

But everything was stopped. This time, a microscopic virus paralyzed all life, not only in Puerto Rico but throughout the world.

We didn’t see it coming. We were not prepared. We thought we already had everything under control. However, once again, we were able to come face to face with our human frailty. The Bible verse that says we are like a flower on a field that lays there today and withers tomorrow, makes sense. All this should have led us to put our priorities in order. It should have led us to seek the things that transcend this life, the eternal things.

We live in times of uncertainty and need. We don’t know what will happen next month. But all you see is the desperation to go into the stores. The large lines, in full heat, risking a deadly contagion, and then leaving with large LEDs TVs, swimming pools, and alcoholic beverages.

First, it was the toilet paper. Today, fruits and vegetables are discarded and farmers are having losses due to consumerism. Great expenses in electronics and luxury products are spent because we must take advantage of the money received as an aid through this difficult time.

This is all “normal”. But giving money for God’s work is unnecessary and totally criticized. It’s okay to give money to the campaign of a politician who is going to steal your money when he comes to power and is going to create legislation that will limit your freedom in a modern way. It’s okay to give money to artists who will later donate the money on their behalf and may have exemptions on their taxes report to the government. It’s okay to spend it all on things that perish, break, and can be stolen.

But they do not see money invested in missions that bring the Word of God to people who have no future hope as a good thing. It is a bad thing that money is invested in a church that provides food supplies to those who seek help in need. It seems like a bad thing, money which is donated to entities like Samaritan’s Purse that has gone to establish hospitals in Italy and NY to give medical services in places of high pandemic cases. It seems wrong to spend on Bibles or Christian books to give to others because you can clash with the rights of those who do not believe. It looks bad because a called pastor created a church without God’s backing to get rich, and so they think all churches are the same. But it is more logical to think that the new politician is not going to steal like the others, or that the political party left its customs for this year.

I can only tell you about my experience. It is a blessing to give for blessing others. It is a blessing to know that you have supported a missionary even if you do not know him. It is a blessing to save for difficult times and to be able to help someone in need. God’s counsels in the Bible are full of wisdom even if they go against what society says.

Did you honor God with my goods and not just with my mouth? Do I believe in the faithfulness of God? Does my social status depend on what I own? Do my assets detail my identity?

Let us pray to the Lord that it is his Word, his advice and his guide that will move our lives and help us to act in wisdom for the good of the kingdom of God and our family.

Working time even in quarantine

The church does not take vacations.

The church never waits.

The church is who we are. It never closes.

Living in this time of social distancing and quarantine has not been easy for many.

Many have recalled from studies, jobs, social gatherings, and even the structures we call churches are closed but the church does not stop. We are not on hiatus hoping that we can work in a structured way.

But do those who served as leaders and pastors and teachers continue with their ministries? The answer is: Of course yes!

Your where they are with you, your brothers in faith continue to need support, love, empathy, and ministry.

You may not be able to teach in a classroom but you can in a virtual one.

You may not be able to invite others to church evangelistic activities, but you can invite them to a live on Facebook.

We can still reach out to whoever needs it and offer our help, even over the phone.

More efficient still is the one that you share your testimony of how you have found in God’s strength and peace in the midst of all the circumstances that we have lived.

It is time to tell others not to wait any longer, that arriving on time at the feet of the Master, of the Son of God is the best thing that can happen to us.

Today I was listening to a song that reminded me of the time I was apart from the Lord and although it was a very bad decision to walk away, and I found many thorns and wounds on the way, He waited for me and hugged me, cleaned me and now every day I wake up giving thanks to who gave everything for me.

I don’t want to go back because what I have now is so powerful that it is everything. Living for Christ is without comparison. I want others to experience that blessing every day. I want them to meet, not with a temple, with Christ.

The fields are ready for harvest. The need is great, every day more. We have the solution to be able to live in blessing even in times of crisis, why not share it?

We may not know how, but in practice and teaching through the Holy Spirit, we can work for the glory of God.

It is still time to work.

Let us pray to the Lord giving thanks for such an undeserved gift that we have received, the eternal visa. Let us come to Him in humility to use us as instruments of messengers of the gospel.

Loving my great job while in quarantine

We are living a time to stay in our homes because of something unexpected: a pandemic that even with all the advances in science and technology that we have available today, managed to enter the world as it would have done in past times.

All this shows us that when we already think that we have everything under control, and we have obtained enough knowledge to go one step ahead of microscopic viruses and bacteria, they can bring us to the reality of our human fragility.

So much effort, so much work, so many vain things that can disappear in a second. It’s not that we shouldn’t work. It is not that we shouldn’t struggle to get ahead in life and provide for our families, but we must not forget that we have a more important job that has its reach in eternity.

I love how apostle Paul with that passion speaks to Titus about his goal: that others know the hope of eternal life. He describes it as his job.

We as children of God have the same mission, the same job. But do we love it with passion like Paul? Are we really doing it? You may think that in these times of confinement the work cannot be done, but that’s not right.

In my photo, I use a typewriter, which would have made Paul’s life easier, but in his time resources were scarce. He could not easily communicate with other parts of the world, could not travel, and within hours reached his destination.

But you know something? Much of his ministry was carried out from his confinement, the times he was imprisoned and could not get where he wanted to go to evangelize. Paul did not stop. The Holy Spirit in him was burning hot enough for him to move and be creative in moving on his way to the goal.

Paul not only had his resources. This letter to Titus is motivation. He prayerfully and financially supported others who also brought the good news of salvation. Paul knew that he alone could not have the scope he longed for, so he motivated others to join the work, strengthened them by teaching them the Word and reinforcing doctrines, tried to strengthen the weaknesses of others, and led them to Christ, being him. example with their testimony that in Him they could do everything.

We have no excuses. We have more resources than Paul had in his time, even in our confinement. Am I using them? Do I know that there are people in great physical and spiritual need in these times? The closure has not solved the problems that existed before the Covid-19, but perhaps it has hidden them.

You may not be able to see where there is a need, but we can pray like Paul for God to direct us, use us and be instruments in these times in which we live.

May others see in us that love and passion for our great work, as Paul had it.

Let us pray to the Lord knowing that He enables us and directs us to work in His work. May we be sensitive to his voice, pray for our brothers in the faith, the missionaries and for those who must believe in his gospel. May it revive in us that passion to bring the good news of salvation.

From my quarantine, exhausted?

We didn’t have time for anything.

We lived exhausted from moving around, from thinking, from being busy all the time.

Our agenda was filled with work, family, friends, meetings …

We lived exhausted. We looked like slaves many times. Time flew by.

The difficult people around us exhausted us.

Quarantine has taken us away from everything that bound us, which exhausted us and kept us busy. Of course, there are exceptions depending on the profession they are in, although there are no social gatherings after work.

These times have led us to live very quickly, without sitting down to breathe and contemplate the stars or smell the flowers.

But quarantine has changed reality, the one who more or less, now
there must be more time. We are more at home, more with the family.

But as the days go by, perhaps the spiritual goals are not those that have occupied the priority and as we get used to the new reality we continue to become slaves, but in a different way. Do you live exhausted now?

The truth is that God’s plan of redemption for us included freedom that begins now. His good plans for us offer us rest, delight in his presence, joy, and peace.

Perhaps quarantine has taught us that problems follow us, or that the cause of lack of joy or feeling tired is ourselves. That the relationship with God does not depend on how many days we visited the church, or if it rained or was sunny, depends on our surrender to Him.

God has not moved, have we
moved us? God still expects us to spend time with Him, is that our priority? God expects us to live by faith, do we believe him? He still wants to lead us, shall we follow in his footsteps?

That the quarantine shows us how we really are and can go to the feet of Jesus to make the most of the time and enjoy the freedom that he has already given us.

Let us pray to the Lord asking Him to search our lives and help us to surrender everything that takes away our peace and exhausts us.

Quarantine on Good Friday

For many, this Good Friday seems like a different one. We were not looking for new clothes to wear for this Easter campaign, we were not preparing materials or distributing promotions, we did not have to add chairs in the temple for the visits that we could get.

The truth is that with each passing year, instead of more visits, the opposite happened. Every year more Christians went on vacation or to spend a day at the beach taking advantage of days off from work. But these changes in the agenda left God in a place where he would be very safe, on the four walls of the church.

Every year we invited more people to come to visit our services, but more Christians rationed the services they would attend. After all, you don’t have to go several times a week!

Every year more believers walked away from the church walls, wounded by the spiritual pride of many who felt better than they did instead of shaking hands with them so that they would not fall.

Every year more congregations gathered to pray for a great revival in the church. But why did they pray? What was the intention in the heart? See miracles as they were seen before or that people easily came to our repentant churches? Does the church lose power?

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Its power does not change and will definitely not wane. His promises and prophecies will always be fulfilled. Our approach as a church? It changes as we adapt and get used to this world that is only a passage where we must walk as pilgrims and foreigners.

We have limited God to four walls, to large and comfortable temples, with luxuries and special effects but leaving aside humility and remembering daily that we are like pottery vessels carrying such a great, so undeserved treasure.

We forget that the greatest blessing is being at his feet in his presence instead of working all week for his work.

We forget that battles are won on our knees in prayer and not in our great knowledge.

We forget that we should not criticize the one who fails but rather help him to support himself so that he rises because we ourselves fall.

We forget that the great commission sends us to carry the gospel, to help the widow and the needy, and in the name of Jesus to lead them to heal their broken hearts.

We forget how beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news.

A small and microscopic virus, under the omnipotence of God, has taken the church from the four walls where she felt safe. Our foundation, however, has not moved, stayed firm and keep holding us.

It is time to see God everywhere. It is time to proclaim his name from the simplicity of our homes, from the humility of our hearts showing the world that we are imperfect but loved by a perfect God who has given us his love and the salvation of our souls.

Let us show that we serve a living God that the four walls cannot contain. Let us show others how God works without limitations and does not depend on what happens in the world, but that He conquered the world and supports the foundations of the earth.

The God we serve cannot be contained by anything or anyone. He is the one who holds the water of the seas in the palm of his hand and who not only redeems us, he also redeems his creation, when nature groans together waiting for his redemption. This time the mercy of God has been poured out on nature and it is cleaning it from the damage that we in our sinful actions have done to it.

Today Good Friday the temple is closed but God continues to sit on his throne reigning in glory and majesty. Let’s proclaim his name!