VICTOR S E MOUBARAK

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Holy Spirit.

Today, many churches celebrate Pentecost which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. You can read about it in Acts 2.

The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in shapes of flames which touched each person there. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach in many languages.

So, who is the Holy Spirit?

We are taught about God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit …. He doesn’t seem to have a title or description.

St Hilary of Poitiers, a Bishop in the 3rd Century AD, described the Holy Spirit as “the Gift”.

He is the gift given to us by God after Jesus ascended into Heaven.

He is the very Spirit of God, God Himself, come back to us on earth to dwell within us and to help us in our Christian life.

That’s why He is sometimes referred to as the Helper, the Counselor, God’s own Being living within us.

Can you imagine that?

God. Living within us. Guiding us. Helping us. Teaching us. Advising us when to speak and when to remain silent. What to say and what to do.

Isn’t that wonderful? Or is it too difficult to imagine or believe?

Isn’t it a tragedy that in this day and age, when many are too willing to believe that the devil can possess an individual unwillingly and reap havoc in their lives; yet … they find it difficult to understand that the Spirit of God is willing to abide within us and lead us to an eternal better life in Heaven.

But only if we ask Him to.

Thank you Lord for your Holy Spirit.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Prayers.

People sometimes ask: Why pray? Will it change the will of God, or budge Him in any way?

As parents, we do sometimes change our minds and give way to our children’s demands, (eventually), especially when they go on and on about something that they want. Perhaps they make us see reason and we oblige them because we love them.

Are we to believe that our Father in Heaven loves us less than we love our own children? That He will not give us what we ask Him?

In Luke 18:2, Jesus tells the story of a widow who pestered a judge for so long that he eventually gave in and helped her. This parable teaches us not to be discouraged and always pray to God for our needs. Not what we want. But what we need.

Yet again, in the Lord's Prayer, we are taught to ask God our Father, and we will receive.

So then, how about praying to God? Will our prayers change His mind, or His will? Or are His plans for us already set out and no prayers will change them?

Over the years I have learnt that by praying, especially when praying for others, God does listen and sometimes our prayers are answered.

Whether He answers our prayers because we prayed, or He meant to answer them anyway (i.e. it was His will all along); is a debating point which can go on for ever - without us reaching a conclusion.

This is simply because we are not meant to understand Him, and to understand the reasoning behind His actions.

He is God. We are not.

We really should stop bringing Him down to our level by trying to understand Him with human minds.

However, the fact that we don’t understand how, when and why our prayers are sometimes answered and sometimes not is not a good reason for us to stop praying.

It is sufficient to learn from Christ, who prayed to God many times, and who encouraged us to do the same.

And when we pray we should do so in thanksgiving, in hope, and in the sure knowledge that He is listening.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Anxiety.

Anxiety …. You’re a destroyer of souls!

Anxiety is a human emotion. We can’t help feeling anxious, sometimes unnecessarily, and in so doing we give way to doubts and worry. It’s like meeting three evil witches intent on destroying you: Anxiety, Doubt and Worry.

Like many human emotions, they can get out of control.

We’re anxious about the results of some medical tests we’ve had done. We worry unnecessarily. We fear the worst and doubt whether God loves us.

We worry without cause about our loved ones. Will our children do well in life, especially in these difficult times? We worry when they are a few minutes late returning home.

You know what it’s like … anxiety, worry and doubt take turns at turning your stomach into knots and in time can make you ill.

Why does God allow that?

Why doesn’t He provide us with a switch we can flick and these negative emotions just vanish away. After all, He knows we can’t help these emotions creeping on us unawares and play havoc with our minds. Why can’t He provide a switch to turn them off?

Or …. Maybe He has.

Whenever we look away from God for a moment that’s when we allow anxiety to enter our life and implant the seeds of doubt and worry. Perhaps it’s because at that very instant when we look away from God, the devil is ready to pounce and lead us astray.

He’s very clever the devil, you know. He leads you to believe he doesn’t really exist, but he’s there all right. By your side day by day. Waiting for the appropriate moment to put negative thoughts in your mind. Playing on your fears. Adding a sprinkle of worry. Making you anxious about something or other. And before long, if you are a little weak, you’ll begin to doubt that God even exists, never mind love you.

The remedy is to re-focus on God in the sure knowledge that He will not let us down.

That’s the switch which He has provided to comfort us in our times of difficulties. The certainty that He has conquered evil once and for all. And the knowledge that He will not allow us to perish because He cares for us.

“Look at the birds flying around … your Father in Heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds?” Matthew 6:26

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Tattoos.

This man had tattoos on the fingers of each hand – just near the knuckles.

On the right hand the tattoos read the letters L – O – V – E.

On the left hand the tattoos were H – A – T.

Apparently he ran out of money to complete the tattoos.

If only …

If only we too ran out of money every time we felt Hate towards someone.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Joe's Legacy.

Jacob had twelve children and he loved Joseph the most. We’ve all probably heard of Joseph and his many coloured coat. It’s a wonderful story you can read in Genesis Chapter 37.

Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him that one day they sold him to some traders on the way to Egypt. They soaked his coat in blood and told Jacob that a wild animal had killed him.

In Egypt Joseph was sold as a slave, and even landed in prison on false charges.

Now Joseph had a special gift. He could interpret dreams. One day the King of Egypt had a dream and he called for Joseph to interpret it.

Joseph predicted seven good years with great harvests followed by seven years of drought. He suggested the King appoints a man to store enough food during the good years and to apportion it amongst the population during the drought.

The King was so impressed with Joseph that he appointed him to this task. Suddenly, from slave Joseph became one of the most important persons in Egypt and beyond.

Years later, during the drought, his brothers came to Egypt to buy corn. Joseph recognized them, (even though they didn’t recognize him), and eventually, he forgave them and was re-united with his father.

So, what is Joseph’s legacy to us?

It is this. Sometimes in life we go through some very rough times indeed. Our whole world collapses around us and everything seems to go wrong. No matter what we do. No matter how much we pray. Things don’t seem to get any better.

We feel that God has abandoned us. Or that perhaps He doesn’t exist at all.

But He does exist. And He does care.

What He is doing when we’re living through difficult times is to lead us somewhere else.

He wants us to move on to new environments, new situations, new places, or even meet new people.

Through our difficulties we get to meet people we’ve never met before. And through our actions, perhaps without even realizing it, we influence those we meet. They may see in us an example to follow. We may do or say something that makes them stop and think. And perhaps change their ways for the better.

Through our difficult times we may even change ourselves – for the better.

Consider what Joseph went through. Hated by his brothers. Sold into slavery. Falsely imprisoned.

But he had to go through all that. Otherwise he would not have been in Egypt to interpret the King’s dream and save millions from starvation years afterwards.

His suffering led to the good of many in Egypt and beyond throughout the drought years.

Whatever you may be suffering right now may well lead to the good of others, and probably to your own good, in years to come.

God has brought you here to where you are. It may be bad right now. But trust Him.

He will lead you through it. To better times for you and others.

You should be happy to be of service to Him.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Regrets.

Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Non, rien de rien. Non. Je ne regrette rien.

To have no regrets could be a sign of arrogance. We all have some regrets of things we have done, or not done. The wise thing to do is to learn from one’s regrets.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Savings.

Graffiti seen on church notice board:

Jesus saves!

Someone wrote underneath it:

He’s lucky – I can’t save a penny on my wages.

Someone else added:

I saved too. Lost it all in the stock exchange crash.

Finally another added:

Save your treasure in Heaven. It will not lose its value and earns good interest.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

True Forgiveness.

Someone asked the other day – I have forgiven but cannot forget the pain and hurt caused to me. Does that mean I’ve not really forgiven?

Let’s examine un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness is when we harbor thoughts of revenge, retribution and punishment … when we are angry, and full of hate, ill-will, hostility and ill-feelings towards those who hurt us.

If none of these feelings are within us – then we have truly forgiven.

Of course, the memory of the hurt and pain caused to us will remain. Perhaps forever. But as long as the memories are not accompanied by feelings of ill-will, then we have forgiven.

The mind may not forget but the heart forgives.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Proverb.

Proverbs 19:3.

Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord.

Enough said!

Monday, 18 May 2009

How safe are you?

A new indoor mountaineering and abseiling center was featured on TV lately. It consists of a large hall wherein a 100 feet high “mountain” has been built with different routes one can climb to the top.

Some routes are just vertical walls with tiny crevasses for climbers to fit their hands and feet and pull themselves up to the top. Once at the top, you can walk from one peak to another on this false mountain via rickety bridges made from rope or wooden slippery logs tied together. Alternatively you can slide (abseil) down a vertical smooth wall all the way to the bottom and start again.

Youngsters as well as experienced climbers use this indoor facility to learn and practice before taking up the sport outdoors on real mountains. And it is perfectly safe. Everyone is tied in to elaborate harnesses and ropes which allow you to climb freely, and walk across unsafe bridges freely, yet, should you happen to fall the ropes would hold you and keep you suspended in mid-air until a supervisor pulls you back to safety.

One of the staff explained that it is a unique experience. The climbers know that they are safe because if they lose their grip or footing the ropes and harnesses will take over and save them from a fatal fall. Yet they are subconsciously nervous and fearful that they might fall.

This made me think about our relationship with God. We know He is there and that He loves us and cares for us. So, to that extent at least, we are safe.

Yet, sometimes our doubts and fears take over and play havoc with our Faith – especially when we face difficulties and troubles in our lives. We wonder whether He will help us or not.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 NIV.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Are you a thief?

Years ago a priest said to me “If you sit at your desk at work doing nothing, you’re a thief. You’re stealing time from your employer, since he pays you to work. Technically, it’s a sin”.

The place where I worked had a no smoking policy. However, every so often, smokers used to go in the street for a quick cigarette. From the moment they left their desk to the time they returned was about twenty minutes minimum. So if they had three cigarettes a day, they stole an hour every day from the boss.

The point I’m trying to make here is that our modern lifestyles have made us lax where morality is concerned. We always have a good reason to justify our actions albeit it may be morally wrong.

We may consider ourselves as decent, upright, model citizens. But when we stand under the microscope, with God looking from the other end, what does He see?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Reality Check.

Time for a Reality Check.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you like what you see?

Write down on a piece of paper five adjectives that describe you: honest, hard-working, loyal … what else can you think of? Be honest and write down more than five adjectives if you wish.

When you’ve finished, read each one slowly in turn. How many of these adjectives would be chosen by your friends or family to describe you?

Do you see yourself as others see you?

More important, do you see yourself as God sees you?

And … that’s what frightens me.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Modern Technology.

With modern technology our lifestyles and the way we work and play has changed.

And, sometimes, this is good.

For example more and more people are now able to work from home, using their laptops or PCs to upload or download their work and communicate with colleagues. This saves them wasted time in traveling, wasted expenses, and wear and tear on their well-being.

At work today I overheard the doorkeeper (security guard) complain that he couldn’t work from home. He was speaking to the cleaner (janitor) who also wanted to work from home. Then the restaurant chef joined in and wanted to stay at home too!

Hmm … technology may not have advanced that far, yet. But at least you can pray from home. And work. And on the bus. In fact from anywhere. Because He’s always online. No computer crashes or server problems with Him.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Cherokee Proverb.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. — Cherokee proverb.

Annoying People.

How often in life do you meet annoying people? Some more annoying than others.

There are people who are always miserable and finding faults with everything in sight. Then there are others who think they know everything and are expert on every subject you can name – and they’ll let you know it too! They believe their opinions are always right and should be agreed with by one and all.

In every walk of life, we meet people, customers, clients, colleagues, relatives or neighbours who perhaps don’t fit in with our image of happy interesting characters we’d like to know and be associated with.

In brief, they are annoying – and we tolerate them because … it’s nice to do so I suppose.

OK. Let’s now stop and think.

Behind every annoying boring person there is a story. There is something there in their life, their up-bringing, their background which has made them what they are – or what they are perceived to be.

Maybe they are annoying to us because we have not bothered to delve deeper into who they really are. Their shyness, miserable outlook on life, boring demeanour, or desire to show-off their knowledge may stem from a need to be heard and appreciated. And we should try our best to understand them.

Let’s now look in the mirror.

How are you perceived by those who know you? Are you annoying yet tolerated with a kind smile? Just as you treat those you find annoying?

More important – is there anything about you which God finds annoying?

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Emergency.

Two friends were walking home from the local pub when one of them drops to the side walk holding his chest. His buddy quickly grabs the cell phone and dials 112.

The Operator immediately asks: "What is the emergency and where are you?"

The man replies in a panic "I don't know what happened, we were walking home on Eucalyptus Street and my friend grabbed his chest and fell down!"

The Operator asked: "How do you spell the name of the street?"

The phone seemed to go dead. The Operator getting really concerned kept shouting because she could hear him panting!

Finally the man came back on the line and said: "I dragged him over to Oak Street, that's O-A-K."!!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

God's Blueprint.

I asked a Christian doctor friend of mine about his religion and his profession. He explained that being a doctor is very much like being a car mechanic. He learnt about different parts of the body and how to fix them when they go wrong.

However, unlike a car mechanic, he does not have the complete blueprint plan of how the body was made and how it functions. He explained that, thankfully, the Creator decided to keep some parts of the blueprint secret in case we humans ruin the final product completely.

What do you think?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Adversity.

At times of adversity barriers are usually broken between people as they get closer together. They share their feelings, fears and worries and encourage each other.

Could it be that God allows adversity to happen to give us an opportunity to get closer to Him? To share our fears and worries, and to seek His help?

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Garden in Heaven.

Today was another beautiful, warm and sunny day. I spent sometime in the garden pruning the bushes.

Half an hour later a friend came to visit. I must explain that I’ve left a corner of the garden to grow freely. My friend looked at it and said: “these are all weeds … they must come out …”

I pointed at the little yellow and blue flowers and said they looked pretty; and they attracted butterflies and other insects.

My friend said: “They’re weeds. You’ve dandelions there, and nettles and …” naming a variety of plants I hadn’t even heard of.

What is a weed I thought, isn’t it a plant that you don’t want? There are people who make nettle tea – you can buy it at the health shop. I suppose to them a nettle is not a weed but a livelihood. I also read somewhere that dandelions are used in medicine.

Then I thought … I hope God is more selective when He comes to judge us and to choose whom from His creations are worthy to enter Heaven.

Will He say disparagingly: “You’re a weed” – or will He welcome us in His Kingdom?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Anyone out there?

It was a warm and clear night. I sat in the garden for a while just listening to the quiet around me and thinking about nothing in particular. Just thoughts wandering in and out of my mind as they sometimes do. Every so often I could hear the cry of an owl in the distance – perhaps calling for its mate.

I looked up and gazed at the stars. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. The more I looked the more of them I saw as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. They made me feel so small.

Here am I in my garden looking up – and there they were, all these stars, shining in the night miles and miles away. There must be millions of them.

And to think that some people believe that they just happened to be out there. Not created by a supreme, omnipotent Being.

My thoughts then wandered on … am I alone here looking up at the sky at night? Is there someone else on one of these stars sitting in his garden looking at my planet shining like a tiny dot in his dark sky?

And if so, then surely that being looking at me was also created by God; just like me. Did God send His only Son to that being’s world too; to die for him, as He did for me?

The cry of the owl brought me back to earth with a bump.

I guess we’ll never know the answers to my questions. Perhaps we’re not meant to know.

We humans think we’re so clever because we’ve advanced so much in such a short period of time. We thirst for knowledge and the more we learn the more proud we become of our achievements.

Maybe, for our own benefit, there are things that He will not allow us to know. No matter how hard we try to find the answers.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wedding.

I received an invitation to a wedding today. It’s six months away so the young couple have plenty of time to prepare for the day in question and for a lifetime together.

Weddings are wonderful. They are a public declaration of one’s love for another but, more important, they are a sign of hope. Hope that all will be well, and despite what may lie ahead there’s hope and commitment to remain together come what may.

This set me thinking.

Archaeologists make the best marriage partners. The older you get the more interested they are in you.

I thought I’d share this wisdom with you. In case any singles out there are looking for a partner.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

God's Invitation.

Someone asked me whether God wants everyone to come to Him, and, since He knows everything, if anyone refuses to follow God’s Word, then did this man really have a choice, or was it pre-determined that he would not follow God.

Pre-determination and free will have been debated by Christians and non-Christians for years.

Here’s my view on it.

God's invitation is to everyone - without exception. When He invites us to love Him, He wants us to choose freely - without any pressure on His part to influence our decision. We choose to love Him and come to God through Jesus Christ: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

Of course, some choose not to accept the invitation. They decide to walk away from God. Not to believe in Him and in Jesus as His only Son. That is their free choice.

God in His infinite wisdom knows our decision before we even make it - but He does not influence it in any way. He knows that some people will not believe in Him.

In certain cases He allows this to happen.

It's like you being in a helicopter watching two cars coming at an intersection. You know they will hit each other. Yet you do not influence or change the outcome.

There are times however when God does try to influence our decision. Give us a nudge in the right direction, you might say.

Note that I say “influence” and not force our decision.

Why He does that only in some cases we really don’t know.

A well known example of His influence is the manner He “encouraged” Paul on the way to Damascus. I suppose Paul could still have walked away and not followed God’s Word; although I doubt many would have done so under the circumstances! Paul chose to accept God and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today God does nudge some of us in the right direction.

How?

Perhaps through chance meetings with someone who might talk to us about God and encourage us to accept His Word and take up His invitation to love Him.

Maybe He allows certain things to happen in our lives which make us turn to Him.

But the fact is that He does talk to us. He does encourage us to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of us just aren't listening.

But here’s the important distinction to remember. God tries to influence us to accept His Word. He encourages us.

But He never forces us.

We are free to choose to love Him, or not.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Fear (2).

Fear is good for you. It stops you from taking un-necessary risks. From being reckless and un-thoughtful in what you do. Fear is natural.

It is a human emotion like all the others. Fear can be real and warranted - we fear punishment and retribution for our crimes, we fear threats from aggressive people, criminals etc ...

Or fear can be imagined and unwarranted - we fear the unknown, new places we have to visit, new situations in our lives, new people we have to meet, or we fear change from the comfort we're used to.

So fear, by itself, being natural, is not a sin. But how we react and deal with it can be. Too much unwarranted fear could be an insult to God in that we do not trust Him enough to look after us and care for us. Prayers are the answer.

Consider carefully what it is that causes your fear and if there is a genuine reason then seek help. Discuss the matter with a trusted relative or friend. If there is cause for concern then do not suffer and worry alone. Get help and let someone else see your problem from their perspective.

If however your anxiety is without foundation; and there is nothing practicable you can do to change the situation; trust in God. Tell Him how you feel and seek His help to calm you down. He has conquered fear. He has conquered the future. As well as evil. Forever.

Do not be afraid – I will save you. I have called you by name – you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Animals in Heaven.

A few friends were discussing religion and the conversation turned to whether animals go to Heaven.

Some thought this unlikely since animals have no souls; others believed they’ll meet their pets in Heaven.

This set me thinking.

Which animals in particular would go to Heaven? The good ones? Whilst the bad ones are destined for hell.

Are there bad animals? Do they think, plot and plan like humans, or are they slaves to their own instincts? Can they possibly sin?

Would all animals go to Heaven? Including the cows, pigs, sheep and chickens we kill to eat?

I would hate to come face to face with my Sunday roast admonishing me for what I have done.

What about the mosquito I killed in the garden this morning? Will it haunt me for eternity?

And all those fishes caught by Peter and the disciples when asked to cast their nets in the lake by Jesus. Will they be there too?

The point I’m trying to make here is that religion relies on Faith. When Christians engage in debate such as this not only do they risk confusing themselves, but they also risk confusing those who are new in their walk with the Lord.

I really don’t know whether my beloved Max will greet me in Heaven wagging his tail. In the meantime, I try to steer clear from such hypothetical discussions.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Paul's Legacy.

Paul stood there as Stephen was stoned to death. He approved of this murder because he hated followers of Christ. (Acts 8:1).

Paul tried to destroy the early church, throwing believers into jail. (Acts 8:3).

He traveled far and wide persecuting the early “followers of the Way of the Lord”. (Acts 9:1-2).

As he approached Damascus looking for early Christians a light from the sky blinded him and Jesus spoke to him. (Acts 9:3-6).

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Paul was converted; he became a Christian and went on to preach about Jesus in many lands, even though he himself had never met Jesus personally.

So, what is his legacy to us?

Apart from being the greatest preacher the early church ever knew?

It is this: Sometimes, God grabs people by the lapels and shakes them violently to make them listen.

Why does God do this to some people and not others we will never know. Not now at least.

Perhaps He sees in some people a talent or a gift which He could well use. After all, why should a gifted person be left to wander and become prey to the devil? Why shouldn’t God use this talent?

So, like He did to Paul, God gets that person’s attention and asks them whether they wish to serve Him by spreading the Word.

Has He spoken to you yet?

Have you replied?

Don’t wait until He draws your attention more positively !!!

Blue Jeans - The sequel.

Today I had reason to take an elderly lady to the doctor's; and I met Doctor Grange. (See my entry for 29 April - Blue Jeans - below).

Although it was a fairly warm day, Doctor Grange wore a suit and tie.

However, he had not aged much since Wednesday.

I'll keep an eye on him to ensure he remedies the situation.