Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Springtime in January

I've lived in Chicago for 7 years now, and I know how unpredictable and crazy the weather can be in the Windy City especially in the wintertime. In those 7 years, I've almost seen it all --more than 25 inches of snow dumped in just one snowstorm, I've seen flurries, sleet, hail, rain-wintry-snow mix go down hard on the city, lots of icy roads, gloomy skies, 30-below-zero temps, bone-chilling wind chills, slush, and freezing rain.

I know there's no getting used to this kind of weather but I must say I pretty much expect it come late November to early December until late March and maybe early April (but I dread it too!). It's winter after all. I'm just so glad I don't drive because those roads and highways out there are no places to be during winter storms and icy conditions. It can be very dangerous and so stressful. I've heard that a 20-minute trip can rapidly turn into a 3-hour drive because of snow, sleet and rain. I salute all the Illinoian drivers who hit the road everyday for you got to have a specific driving skill, talent, and lots and lots of patience to be able to survive on those wintry roads.

On top of these wintry conditions, I've also experienced snow in April here in Chicago. The very first time I was told of its possibility, I laughed so hard thinking it was the most absurd thing I've ever heard! Snow in springtime? Get outta here! But true enough, I think it was in 2006 or 2007, when I've seen snow for the first time in spring. It was sometime in April. That shut me up for good. No more laughing at winter jokes for me.

And I thought I've seen it all. But not yet! Come winter 2011, it's springtime in winter! Huh? Confusing right? But it's true. We've been so spoiled the past year (since October) until now (it's almost February) because we've been having mostly spring-like weather! No snow, no sleet, no slush, no below zero temperatures, at least not until the second week of January when we had our first snowfall for winter. It's been simply beautiful! And as I'm writing this today (it's January 31st), the weather outside is 46 degrees Fahrenheit with an expected high in the low 50s! That's unbelievable for January in Chicago. I could actually get used to this. And yes, it's kinda scary too, but gorgeous nonetheless. Chicagoans actually don't know how to dress-up in the mornings ever since last Fall because we're not sure if it was going to be winter or spring on a particular day. It can be confusing, not that we are complaining, because I'd rather be confused with the weather than be freezing. But in a word, it is really weird.

And speaking of weird, it seems like the whole world is getting into this "trend" of drastic climactic changes anywhere. As we continue to have great weather for almost 4 months in a row now since autumn of 2011, sadly other places are reporting record temps, floodings, earthquakes, snow and ice in places where it doesn't normally happen, too much heat and warmth in places like Alaska and Greenland, record rainfalls in Asia especially in the Philippines, hail falling down in areas where hail has never been seen before, and other such kinds of "phenomena." Due to these changes, weather experts and scientists are scrambling to explain what is happening to the world in an attempt to make sense of it all. People get easily confused, scared and paranoid when the norm is not the norm anymore. I'm sure you've heard of global warming? That's one of the experts' explanations for this. I'm sorry to disappoint but I don't have any opinion on that particular matter. I'm not a scientist so I will just continue to write about the beautiful weather we're having in Chicago.

And of course, after being spoiled with spring in winter, snow and frigid weather finally came to Chicago in the middle of January. All is well. Back to normal. This is how it's supposed to be --winter in wintertime, spring in springtime, hot in summer, crisp and chilly air in autumn. That's the normal cycle of things here on earth. But oops, I think I've spoken too soon because springtime is back again in Chicago. This is becoming seriously crazy! I don't know if I should wear my sandals or my snow boots on one given day. Sigh.

But who am I kidding? We can't deny it, there are serious and clear changes on this earth that we can't escape. Changes that can be compared since the time of known scientific recordings. Changes in weather, climates, temperatures, movements of the physical components of the earth like the mountains and hills, volcanoes starting to stir again after years of dormancy, and even changes in people's hearts, minds and actions. Drastic changes that have never been seen nor recorded before. We don't have to be scientists or experts to be able to see these things. And we shouldn't be ignorant about them either. We actually have been warned about some of these changes to our world whether we like it or not and whether we believe it or not.

"And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." -Mark 13:1-31

For more Bible reading on the actual words of Jesus Christ on this matter, please read Matthew chapters 24 and 25. http://www.godsbibletruth.com/kjv30/B40C024.htm

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Call me Blessed

According to dictionary.com, the word blessed means consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified; to be blissfully happy or contented. Consecrated means to make or be declare sacred; to be set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity. Holy means to be dedicated or devoted to the service of God; saintly; godly; pious; devout. To sanctify is to purify or to free from sin. 

Whoa, brain freeze! Too many big words, and too many deep definitions! But, please, bear with me on this and try to take some time to digest and understand all these words and their meanings. It's important. This is important for me. I needed this for myself, for me to grasp the words and to understand them completely and thoroughly before I write this piece. 

Ready? The reason why I included these words on this post today and their meanings ---blessed, consecrated, holy and to be sanctified, because..... that's what I am! By God's marvelous and endless grace, I am indeed blessed!

And yet, this is not how I've felt all my life. I've always thought I was a good person, sure, but I've never considered myself to be holy. I might be better compared to some people (specifically those convicted murderers and molesters in jail) but I wouldn't call myself as blessed. These "special" words were set aside only for the "Saints" (in man's definition) and for the great Bible characters like Moses, David, Isaac, Joshua, Jeremiah, Mary, John and all the disciples of Jesus (except Judas Iscariot, of course), but not for me!

In fact, there has always been a feeling of awe and respect that came with these particular words. And this is not too hard for me to understand either. When I was younger, I've never heard any of my friends or family members to be called as holy or blessed. It was simply not one of the ordinary words we use among our peers and in family circles. I'm only guessing here now, but there might even be some people who would think that using these words to describe a sinner like me is close to blasphemy and is a big lie. Even to utter such words among mortals seem inconceivable in my young mind back then, and I'm sure it still is to some people now. I do understand where they're coming from and why they would think that way because I've been there before. There is a common (but wrong) notion that nobody can ever be called holy or consecrated if he or she is only an ordinary person or a layman, and if he has never been ordained or has not been "called" specifically by God to be His "official" and anointed servant. Sadly, I kinda get what they mean when some people have such a notion.

But, thank God and glory to Him alone, this is not true. According to His Word, the Bible, all those who have believed and trusted in Him and in His only Son, Jesus Christ, on what He has done on the cross to save all of us, are to be called saints, holy, blessed, consecrated and sanctified. In fact, we are commanded to be all these things:

"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy." -Leviticus 11:44

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." -1 Peter 1:13-16

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." -Psalm 32:1-2

"...Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings." -2 Chronicles 29:31(b)

"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." -1 Corinthians 1:2-3

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." -1 Corinthians 6:9-11

There are even more, so much more, passages in the Bible that talk about these truths but I can't post them all on here. You have to seek, search and read your own Bible so you yourself can see. Ask for the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit in order for you to understand and to find out what it is that you seek from God in His Word. I'm positive that God will lead you directly to His truth.

As a final note, I declare, I claim, and I attest that I am a saint. Not the "Saint" as people would think or define, nor a "Saint" who is perfect and flawless because I am far from it, but I am a saint of God according to His authority and sovereignty in my life. I have been made holy and been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ which has covered and washed away all my sins --past, present and future, not by my own doing or of who I am but only by God's grace. I am a saint! And I can't get over this truth, ever. Nor do I ever want to, for my life has been consecrated for God's glory alone. Amen!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Battle Scars

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." -1 Peter 2:24

I love to cook. I guess I've already mentioned this before on one of my posts. And I love to cook because I love to eat. As the Lord says in His Word, if you don't work, you don't eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). So I work for my food! Actually, it's more like a battle sometimes, really.

If you take a close look at my arms and hands, you will notice some burn marks, scars from knife cuts and all sorts of blemishes. I guess a career in hand modeling has already flown out the door a long time ago. I call these blemishes my "battle scars." My son once heard me talking about my battle scars and he didn't understand what I was talking about. He thought I've literally went to battle and I have some scars to prove it! Although it might be a little exaggerated when I call my burn marks as battle scars, but for me, these scars remind me of all the hard work I invest on this life, for my family, my friends, and even for my own pleasure in eating as well as for fellowship. It might not be as bad as actually going to war but my cuts and burns can hurt as bad as any other wounds inflicted on our bodies. It might not be as horrible as a gun shot wound but it's my wound and it's my pain.

I'm not being selfish here. I just want to put a little "dramatic" meaning into all the hard work women give on behalf of their families, relatives, friends, co-workers, church family, and even to strangers, when most of the time neglecting their own selves. Most Moms find almost no time to be vain about their physical looks, on how blemished their hands are, how "unperfect" their arms and bodies can be. Scars are never admired in our society unless they tell a very heroic and touching story of sacrificial love, sentimentality and freedom. That's why I call my oil splatter marks as battle scars because I do have some stories to tell. On how I "labor and toil" in the kitchen to feed my family and in order to serve them. I hope these labors of love can extend even to a wider reach to include those who really need my help and care. I'm working on it.

Jesus has His own share of "battle scars." You know the whole story. In all His power and glory, Jesus can make all the scars on His body to vanish in a flash, and yet He chose to leave them where they are so that anyone who wants to see the proof of His sacrifice, the scars are there for them to see. I can't even begin to imagine the scars on His forehead from the crown of thorns that was shoved forcefully down on His head when He was being mocked and called the King of the Jews. I can't even imagine the scars on His back from the whipping and brutal attacks done on Him as He walked the streets of Jerusalem carrying the heavy cross. I know there will be a scar on His side from the spear used to poke Him after He asked for some water to drink while He dangled on that same cross. And, of course, we all know the scars on His hands, the ones He showed to Thomas. And don't we ever forget the scars of the nail wounds Jesus also has on His feet.

These are truly the battle scars of God. He has these scars to show to anyone who wants to trust in Him. Those scars prove God's unfathomable love for all mankind for whom He died on the cross. God also has those scars to show His enemies on how Jesus has already paid it all. Satan and his army of devils will always lie to us on how we don't belong to God but even Lucifer himself knows he doesn't have any argument against the battle scars of Jesus. It is finished.

Are we so calloused and stupid as to let the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ just go to waste in our own life? What with all the evidence of God's battle scars on His own body and yet still a lot of people can't, don't, and won't trust in His plan of salvation! It breaks my heart when someone says that he can't be serious about God because he's not ready yet. Not ready for what? What are you waiting for? Life is short. Death is final for those who have not trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Bible says that the gift of eternal life with God is only for those who believe in Him. And how can we say we love the Lord and that we trust in Him but we're not serious about Him and His teachings? If you're in love with someone, isn't it the desire of your heart to always be with that person? To do anything and everything for that person? Why would loving God be any different?

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." -Isaiah 53:3-5

"The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." -John 20:25-29

I know my scars are nothing compared to what my Savior has to show for His love and sacrifice to save me. Me, who is nothing. Me, a sinner. The scars of Jesus prove that there is a real spiritual battle going on beyond what we can see here on earth. If the battle scars of Jesus don't move you to trust Him, please ask God to open the eyes of your heart so you can see His truth. Scars may not be pretty but I'm sure that the scars of Jesus are the most beautiful marks we'll ever see all through eternity. Glory to God!
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