November 29 2017
"Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms." Psalm 68:19 (NLT)
Most of you have seen or read the poster entitled “Footsteps.” It is a short poem that addresses the oft-quoted human cry, “Where were you Lord when...?”
The psalmist echoes the same answer, proclaimed centuries before the popular poem. “Each day He carries us in His arms” are the words used in the New Living Translation to express the sentiment of the author. Boy, did I need to hear those words today. Perhaps you did as well.
I am sure I am not alone in facing moments in life that challenge and buffet our souls to the core. Sudden changes in the outlook of life, our health, our finances— even our faith can be shaken in the wake of a tragedy or a memory from long ago.
In the face of these moments, these days, these seasons, we are called to live by faith as much as when life grants us sunshine and lush valleys of peace and contentment. “Praise the Lord! Praise God our Savior!”
This may not be the “shout it from the rooftops” type of praise. It may be nothing more that a quiet and tearful prayer in our bedroom at night or a sudden realization that we are never alone, nor is life at its worst the end of our story of redemption. Jesus is Lord! God is our Savior!
May God grant us all a strength anchored in the faith in Our Eternal Rock of the Ages! God is not absent, He is often so close we lose sight of Him. “Don’t let your heart be troubled…,” at least not for long. Whisper a prayer…and a praise.
By His Grace, Pastor Ruben
Pastor’s Appreciation Day: “I also send you”
The month of October has been designated by Christians worldwide as Clergy Appreciation Month. In the same way that other professions are honored during the year, a date was officially chosen to honor pastors and those who perform ministerial work. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has set the second Saturday of the month— October 14 this year—for this well-deserved tribute to our pastors.
The nature of what pastors and their families accomplish is unique. God entrusted to them one of the most precious responsibilities: to care for His church. When they fail to fulfill this duty, church members are harmed. In this context, the pastoral family has a great responsibility before God and the church they serve. The church, on the other hand, needs to pray for them and support them in their work.
On Pastor’s Appreciation Day, church members from more than 150,000 congregations in 215 countries around the world have the opportunity to express gratitude to God and recognition to their pastors. On this Sabbath, you don’t need to prepare a special sermon in honor of the pastoral family, for the hour of worship must always be reserved for the nourishment of church members and to glorify God. Messages based on the Bible and focused in Christ should be presented in each service. Any recognition should be done before and/or after the message.
For the year 2017, the motto "I Also Send You" was chosen based on John 20:21 (NKJV). The goal is to share the idea that pastors are sent by God for a special mission inside and outside the church. Just as Jesus was sent by the Father, so He sends His apostles today: pastors.
What matters most on Pastor’s Appreciation Day is the gratitude and recognition from the local congregation and other church entities. Pastors are spiritual leaders—make this day special for them!
October 30, 2017
Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
I had the honor of officiating yesterday in the wedding of a cousin, who will remain nameless. It was a day I am sure she had dreamed about for years, and certainly it was an occasion that had remained in the horizon of many, if not most, of her female friends and family.
The truth is that we had become almost resigned to the possibility that she might never wed, a fate not particularly sought after in most Hispanic communities, even in this millennial age of “delay marriage as long as you can”. So, whenever a beau would show up on the scene, the lobbying would commence in earnest. It was not a pretty sight. The list of eligible bachelors grew steadily over the years, I fear due to the sincere, but alas, misunderstood efforts of the family members intent in ensuring that this cousin would not remain forever available. I am certain the dynamics were as uncomfortable for my cousin as they were for the men-folk that would inevitably come to “meet the family.” We are quite an intimidating clan.
And so it happened that a certain gentleman in shining armor arrived one day—it seems ages ago now. He met the family. Once. Twice. Thrice. And he kept coming back. After a while it seemed like he was here to stay. But time kept moving as steadily as an oversized pendulum at the science museum. It became a waiting game. Days became weeks; weeks turned into months; months dragged into years. Yes, years! We (the men-folk) were close to taking some exaggerated measures to bring the wait to a desired end…when all of a sudden—the proposal happened!
Which brings me to yesterday, Sunday, October 29, 2017. The Wedding Day. It was a glorious day! Beautifully arranged flowers. Carefully placed decorations. Harmonious stringed music and gifted vocalists. A delicious spread of edible delicacies was set for all the many guests for this garden wedding. The minister gave an exceptional homily (my new cousin shed a tear or two), followed by the vows, the blessing, and the pronouncement. Then came the kiss.
I could not help but wonder how much I long for the celestial wedding day to come. But it occurs to me that the Heavenly Groom is even more so looking forward to “the mother of all wedding celebrations.” He has been wooing humanity for over 6000 years. We have played hard-to-get, but that has only made Him more determined to find a way to win our heart. He insists still, knocking on the door to our heart.
I can hardly wait for the end of the love story of the ages! In fact, please come soon, Lord Jesus!
By His Grace, Pastor Ruben
October 12, 2017
I Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
This is a hard text to put into practice, particularly in these days of social and political polarization. But there it is, urged upon all believers by the Apostle Paul. We do have a choice, to honor the biblical counsel, or to ignore it as antiquated advice.
It does not make a distinction based on common philosophy or political affiliation. It does not mention any exception based on intelligence, temperament, or likability. No, it simply urges us to pray for them. Perhaps, this inspired petition allows grace to enter the heart of the one offering the prayers on behalf of a figure who has previously been seen as an opponent—an adversary, perhaps even an enemy. Ironically, Jesus give us a command to love our enemies as well. (Matthew 5:43-44).
We are called to pray for all—deserving or undeserving. After all, we are the recipients of such a petition on our behalf by the One who uttered these immortal words on our behalf, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Until He comes…