Israel 2016

 

April 3, 2016

“Oh, taste and SEE that the LORD is good…” (Psalm 34:8)

So…I’ve been in Israel for the past 4 days and WOW – what an absolutely awesome experience it’s been! There are no words to describe the way BEING HERE completely changes the way you see the Bible!

I’ve been reading about these historical places and events for over 27 years, but now something different has happened, the Bible’s come to life! It’s in color, it’s 3D to actually see the land and locations I’ve been reading about all these years.

So many things have been stamped on my heart – such as, the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus taught His disciples (I can truly visualize it now), the Valley of Megiddo where earth’s final battle will take place (stunning); the Port of Joppa, so much history; Mt. Carmel, where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal; Antipatris where Paul spent the night protected; Mt. Hermon (where the dew from above falls down), the figs, the olives, and of course the people – but the Sea of Galilee, just broke me, I prayed and cried, a life-moment I’ll never forget.

If you ever get the chance to come to Israel, I pray you’d seize the opportunity. I do believe God will use it, to not only give life to the Bible, but to give life to you. I believe God can use it so that not only will you walk WHERE Jesus walked, but by His grace you will be blessed and empowered to walk LIKE Jesus walked. That’s what I pray I’d get out of this pilgrimage, after all, God did say in Psalm 84:5, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”

Shalom, from Israel!

Your brother in Christ,
Manny

Happiness?

 

Denmark

According to a recent UN Happiness Report, the nation of Denmark is the happiest place on earth (and all this time I thought it was Disneyland!). After Denmark was Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and in case you’re wondering, the United States of America came in at 13th place.

Sooo, what do you think? Is it wrong to want to be happy? What exactly is it anyways, and how is happiness attained? Would you consider yourself a happy person?

I’m not sure where you’re at, but I would venture to say that most Christians immediately raise their red flags when it comes to being happy. Most Christians would rather use such words as” joy” and “holy,” not happy. I completely understand and for the most part agree, but at the same time I don’t think it’s wrong to long for happiness.

Happiness is not bad, but joy trumps happiness. I love it when my children laugh and smile, and I’d venture to say that God smiles when we smile for good reasons. But the truth is, happiness is not found in a country, it’s found in our Creator. Happiness, and yes, better than that, joy, is found in knowing God and doing His will. If you want to be happy, remember, it’s more important HOW you live, than WHERE you live. Rather than moving your family closer to Denmark, why not try moving your heart closer to God? Happiness has to do with feelings, emotions, and circumstances, while joy has to do with faith, convictions, and trust in God no matter what the circumstances might be.

The article had some “ok” tips on being happy, such as, connecting with people, doing things for others, caring for your body, noticing the world around you, learning new things, having good goals, bouncing back, being positive, and being part of something bigger than yourself. But sad to say, the article missed the most important ingredient of all – GOD. No one will ever find happiness apart from God and a personal relationship with Him established through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Allow me to me close with a few Scriptures on happiness, and some very brief comments.

Psalms 146:5 “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God.” Here’s a person who not only has God, but whose hope is in God. Does that describe you?

Proverbs 3:13 “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.” Seriously, happiness happens when we know God’s Word and we know how to apply it to our lives – this is wisdom, understanding, happiness, and holiness (by the way) – and the only way you’ll “find” is if you “seek.”

Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” This is a rather ironic verse, and a good one to close with – because instead of wanting happiness for ourselves, it’s vital to seek happiness for others, especially those closest to us. If you do, and if that’s your goal – guess what? You’ll get a healthy dose of happiness for yourself. Remember that saying, “A happy wife is a happy life!”

A closing prayer, “Lord, I thank You for Your amazing grace – that I have You, and I can hope in You. Please help me to live out all the beautiful truths You’ve taught me from Your Word, please grant me that wisdom. I know happiness, holiness, and miles of smiles will be found there, Lord; I know that love and laughter and the fullness of life are found only in You, and Lord, this is epic – please, please, please help me to bring happiness to my wife, may that day become a reality, when she says, ‘He made me happy…’ and Lord, one more thing (I don’t know how this all works), but I would love to make You happy too (to please You)…in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Every Day’s a Gift

hands-holding-monarch-butterfly

Ecclesiastes 7:2, “Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart.”

The 3rd weekend of October was pretty tough; 2 funerals and another death in our midst.

Solomon teaches us something very important, that it’s better to go to those places where mourning is taking place, because that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Another translation puts it this way, “It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time.”

Not a scare tactic, but a simple reality – one day, and it could be any day, our life will end – we need to take that to heart, ponder, prepare, and live our lives in light of that truth.

Do your best to consider each and every day as a gift given to you by God; don’t waste your time complaining or focusing on the negative, life’s too short for that. Life really is a gift, don’t waste it! That can happen so easily – even with people who have so much potential, if they allow themselves to get caught up in the things that don’t really matter – things that are terrible, or even trivial.

Remember that saying, “Only one life, soon it will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

When life is over, and our family and friends offer our eulogies, what will they say? Think now, ponder, even plan, and give them something good to share. Let them say our life was about the Lord – that we loved Him with all of our heart. Let them share that our life was about people. That we did our best to love those people who crossed our paths, especially the ones within our homes.

Hopefully one day the consensus will clearly be, that Jesus was our Lord – and in the end…we ended up being a lot like Him.

Your brother in Christ,
Manny

Honoring God

Eric Liddell

1 Samuel 2:30b, “…for those who honor Me I will honor.”

Have you ever heard of Eric Liddel? Many of us have seen his life-story on the big (or smaller) screen, as told in the Oscar winning film, “Chariots of Fire.”

In the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Eric was the favorite to win the gold medal in the 100-meter race, but under deep conviction, he withdrew his name, refusing to run on a Sunday, the day he had always given completely to the Lord.

Eric was criticized and pressured by many to run on Sunday, but he refused to compromise his deep convictions. As an alternative, Liddell registered to run in the 400-meter race, but he wasn’t expected to win. Just moments before the race, an American handed him a piece of paper on which was written this passage from 1 Samuel 2:30, “Those who honor Me I will honor.” Liddell ran the race with the verse in his hand and ended up winning Olympic Gold and setting a new world record with a time of 47.6 seconds!

Here’s the part that really got to me – when Eric described his strategy for the race, he said, “The secret of my success over the 400 meters is that I run the first 200 meters as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200 meters, with God’s help, I run faster.”

I’ve always loved that quote as a strategy to win my race and to finish well. In a day and age where many are compromising, falling away, and giving in to the criticism and pressures of the world, Eric Liddel is one of those guys in the Christian Hall of Faith, set there as an example for us to learn from.

My brothers and sisters, I beg you to hold to your Christian convictions without compromise, no matter what it costs, and regardless of the criticism and pressures of the world. By God’s grace – as time goes on – run harder, and stronger, and faster, in order that you might win the race and finish well. And last but not least, honor the Lord with all of your heart – if you do, as we’ve seen modeled through the lives of Eric Liddell and so many others, the Lord will honor you – yes, I promise you, you will be rewarded with that “Gold-Medal” given to you on that day, by God Himself.

In His love, your brother in Christ,

Manny

On the Plane

Took off to Cambodia today – there’s 9 of us in flight, meeting up with Eleazar in Singapore. Our first layover will be in Tokyo, then Singapore, then we arrive in Phnom Penh, where we’ll be for a couple of days – but most of our time will be in the Province of Takeo.
The flight (11 hours to Tokyo) has been very nice – I highly recommend Singapore Air.

I did some Bible reading and was super-blessed to not only have an aisle seat, but to sit next to Alex. He has an amazing testimony. God has been intensively working in his life the last 1 ½ years especially – drawing him close to Christ, making it deep, real, and personal. The Lord has used personal trials, the church, the Young Adults Ministry, and especially Carlos to minister to him. I’m overwhelmingly blessed with the fire and Spiritual maturity he has already developed in a short time and at such a young age.

Thank You Lord for all You’ve already done – from El Monte to Cambodia, in every place, province, and person who allows You to work deep in their lives! Please keep working in and through Your people. You promised to do just that and we praise You in advance, giving to You all the glory and honor due to Your holy name.

Praying for my family, the flock, for Cambodia, and praying for my own heart – big time!

Cambodia Bound

June 15, 2015

Cambodia Bound

Acts 13:3 “Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

As I type these words I’m just hours away from heading out to a short-term mission’s trip from El Monte to Cambodia (over 8,000 miles away). We’re hoping to keep you posted for the next couple of weeks on the different things we will be doing while we’re over there – primarily because we are so desperate for prayer, we can’t do anything without God (John 15:5)!

In our text for today, we actually see the birth of Paul’s various missionary journeys – journeys that will spread the gospel and actually see souls saved. There’s no way Paul and Barnabas could have done this on their own, and it’s for that reason the church was intimately involved praying, and even fasting.

So I’m writing and I’m pleading that you’d remember us in prayer. As the Holy Spirit brings us to your hearts, please bring us, and our families, before the Lord. Ask that God would protect, direct, and perfect (work in us, and through us). Pray that we might be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be granted wisdom and power…aware of His constant presence. And please pray that God would open doors and hearts – that we would be sensitive to seize those opportunities by faith; that the lost would be saved, and that the church would be strengthened.

I believe your prayers will carry us all the way to Cambodia and back (Philemon 22), and fill in the gaps with nothing less than Almighty God Himself, every single step of the way – so thank you in advance for your willingness to be a part of this mission’s trip with us. We will be praying for you too – after all – our lives as Christians are missions, no matter where you are.

Your brother in Christ,
Manny

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…

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