VICTOR S E MOUBARAK

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Christ's wobbly table.

If I may quote Martin Luther King: If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.

Many people go through life enduring their job from day to day and treat it as a means to earn a living – and no more. And as time goes by, so does the pride they have in their work, and inevitably their standard of performance deteriorates.

Whatever job we have to do in life, whether it is an influential position of power or a carpenter like Christ, it is our duty, surely, to give it all the attention and skill that we possess. Can you imagine Jesus making a table with a wobbly leg?

No!

Then why should we? Whatever task we have been given to do – let’s make sure it is not wobbly.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Too busy to care.

“After sunset all who had friends who were sick with various diseases brought them to Jesus; He placed His hands on everyone of them and healed them all.” Luke 4:40.

“Then a man suffering from a dreaded skin-disease came to Him, knelt down before Him, and said, ‘Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean’”. Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him. “I do want to,” He answered. “Be clean!” At once the man was healed of his disease. Matthew 8:2-3.

Some people brought Him a man who was deaf and could hardly speak, and they begged Jesus to place His hands on him. So Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put His fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up to Heaven, gave a deep groan, and said to the man, ‘Ephphatha’, which means, ‘Open up’. At once the man was able to hear, and his speech impediment was removed, and he began to talk without any trouble. Mark 7:32-35.

Jesus was very powerful in the eyes of the people of the time. He healed the sick and raised the dead.

Yet, at all times, He maintained the common touch with the people.

His power was such that He could just think about it, and that would heal a person or raise him from the dead.

The woman who followed Him on the way to Jairus’ house only had to touch His cloak and she was healed. Luke 8:40.

When news came that Jairus’ daughter was dead, all that Jesus had to do was click His fingers and she would be raised. But He walked all the way to the house and there He performed His miracle.

Time and again, we see Him touching people, putting His hands upon tem, holding them up and being gentle with them.

Despite His powers of instant healing, if He wanted to, He did not forget the importance of gentleness, the importance of caring, and of loving people; showing and feeling compassion towards them, and making them feel worthy of His care and attention.

Many of us are in the caring professions; whether we are doctors, nurses, counselors, pastors or whatever. And yes … I know … life is very busy … and we have millions of things to do … just tell me about it !!!

But do we have the time to stop and think: This is a person I am dealing with; not just another case in a long line of other cases. They have feelings, fears and hopes. Let me share some kindness as I do my work.

As for the rest of us, the same message applies. The fact that we don’t work in these types of jobs doesn’t mean we can switch off our kindness dispenser.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Temptations.

Not much is spoken about the devil these days. When’s the last time you heard speaking of him in a sermon on Sunday?

His job description is easy: keep people away from God.

And by keeping silent about him, is not the church unwittingly complicit in the devil’s attempts to make us believe he does not really exist?

Our world is full of temptations to lure us away from God and all it takes is a slight diversion of attention, a momentary loss of focus, and we can so easily drift away.

Jesus warned us about this, for He too was tempted, several times. He prayed to His Father as we should too, using His words:

“And lead us not into temptation … but deliver us from evil.”

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ready to use.

Make me a channel of your peace … (St Francis of Assisi).

It is not a condition for God to use us as a channel of His peace and love in the lives of others that we should be full of Faith, strong in spirit, and in control of every situation.

Moses was hesitant at first, when approached by God, citing his stammer as an impediment to the task ahead. But look what he achieved.

Paul was a declared enemy of God, in fact he fought God by killing the early Christians. And look what he accomplished.

Peter denied Jesus - three times. Yet see what he did after that in preaching the Word.

To be a channel for God’s use we need to be willing to listen to Him, to obey Him and to trust Him in every respect.

Difficult isn’t it?

Is it?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Donate a Prayer

Just before He was arrested, Jesus prayed for His disciples. (John 17).

Then He prayed for us – yes, you and me. He said:

“I pray not only for them, (the disciples), but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.” John 17: 20-21.

Prayer is the greatest gift we can give each other. It shows generosity of spirit, it shows caring, and it shows love on our part for someone else.

Please pray for me.

Please pray for others.

For every comment below promising or requesting a prayer; I promise to pray for the intention mentioned.

God bless.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Basic Instinct 2.

I’d like to continue on the theme started yesterday. Our instincts.

God gave us instincts and emotions as part of our human nature. Without instincts, we wouldn’t pull away from a situation of danger or increased risk.

It is natural therefore, when faced with a sudden crisis if our first instincts or emotions are fear, panic, worry, and similar negative responses to an unexpected traumatic event.

God knows that it’s our nature reacting … naturally. So He forgives our first negative impulses and knee-jerk reactions.

But when we’ve calmed down a little, and taken a deep breath, that’s when we should turn to our Lord and, instinctively, seek His help. Not in a panic sort of way, but in the sure knowledge that He is there beside us, in full control of the situation, (even if we aren’t), and ready to help us and restore peace in our lives. If we let Him.

If on the other hand we dwell on our negative situation, and nurture and harbour our fears and doubts, we do God a great disservice. Because we’re implying that we don’t really trust Him to solve our situation for us. And that surely is a sin.

“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out”. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Basic instinct.

We all act on instinct from time to time. If we touch something hot or sharp we immediately withdraw in pain. If we taste something unpleasant, the basic instinct is to spit it out. And when I hammer hard on my finger, missing the nail altogether, as I did this morning, believe me, my first instinct was not to say: “Jolly gosh, this was a tad uncomfortable for me !!!”.

I suppose the same applies when some terrible situation happens to us. The first instinct is probably fear, followed with a multitude of others such as confusion, doubts, worry, anger and so on.

But what if our first instinct in such situations was to immediately turn to God?

Instinctively, without thinking, turn to God for help, reassurance, guidance and peace.

What if our automatic reflex to any bad situation was an immediate reaching out to God? Before even the negative emotions come into play.

Wouldn’t that make our lives that much better? Because after all, God’s will for us is to have peace. Christ often greeted His disciples with the words “Peace be with you”.

So at the first sign of trouble, let’s turn to Him and ask: “Lord, grant me your peace in this situation.”

Years ago I knew a priest who was always calm and serene. Nothing seemed to rattle him, and I truly believe he had the Holy Spirit within him.

Once in a sermon he said: “I’ve made a deal with God. I carry out His work on earth to the best of my abilities; He takes care of the worries!”.

There’s a message for us to consider.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Christ's Prayer for us.

Just before He was arrested, Jesus prayed for His disciples. (John 17).

Then He prayed for us – yes, you and me. He said:

“I pray not only for them, (the disciples), but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.” John 17: 20-21.

Two thousand years later Christians are still disagreeing with each other. The more we dispute on minor things the more we throw doubts and confusion on the Christian message to this world.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The missing logic.

There’s some logic which sometimes escapes us Christians.

We say we believe in God. We also believe in Jesus His only Son. And … hesitantly perhaps … we also believe in the Holy Spirit.

I say hesitantly because most people believe even though they might not know what to believe. And that’s not always their fault.

Sure, they’ve heard what happened at Pentecost, and how the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. They’ve heard of the Annunciation and the Virgin Birth, and the Holy Spirit appearing at Christ’s baptism.

But apart from these and other stories about the Holy Spirit, people are left with a void, a mystery, something or someone to believe in without question. To them, the Holy Spirit is confined to the pages of the Bible, to be believed in and not dwelt upon for too long.

The important questions are rarely asked:

Is the Holy Spirit relevant to them today? Is the Holy Spirit here now?

Of course He is. And what is more, He is here to guide us throughout our lives, through difficult times and good ones, showing us the way, and teaching us what to say and do.

Yet many people, Christians in every other respect, are unaware of this fact.

Perhaps because they don’t understand, they have not been told, they have not been taught. Perhaps too because of their confusion in accepting and comprehending the Holy Spirit in-dwelling within ourselves.

Why is the church sometimes so reticent in proclaiming this – the greatest news and central message of our Christianity?

God, Christ, is/are with us right now. Through the Holy Spirit.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Inner Style.

Switch on the TV, pick up any magazine, and you’d be surprised how many programs and articles there are devoted to improving our modern life styles.

How to improve one’s home, one’s garden, how to dress better, have a more stylish car, lose weight, be a better cook, etc … etc … The list seems endless on how we can become more sophisticated and more accepted in today’s stylish society.

But I haven’t seen anything said about how we can improve ourselves, our inner being, our very soul.

Nothing said about how we can become kinder to others, more generous, loving, attentive, caring, and so on.

Too difficult I suppose. And not as instant as putting a bit of paint on one’s face or wearing some fancy clothes.

But then, Sunday sermons are supposed to cater for our inner selves, aren’t they?

OK, if you happen to go to church. But don’t put something like that on TV … it won’t attract the viewers my dear … nor sell copy in magazines!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

God Relations.

Intelligence and knowledge increases from one generation to the next. What you and I know, our parents didn’t. And what our parents knew, their parents and grandparents didn’t.

The same applies to relationships and the nature of relationships, I suppose.

Some people today have a personal relationship with God and His Son Jesus. They are not just characters in a book, or in the Bible. They are living Beings with whom we communicate and who communicate with us, help us, guide us, and protect us throughout our lives in preparation for the next.

These are no glib words; but a true reality for some people today.

Others, however, believe in God alright, but He is a little distant. Sitting somewhere up there in the clouds, on His throne, looking at us, and ready to help us when we ask Him. They go to church alright, but to them at least, their relationship with their maker is not a close one. Full of reverence, of course, and perhaps tinged with a modicum of fear.

Our grandparents' sermons were full of God’s wrath, fire and brimstone, and the dread of eternal damnation in hell.

But today, a sermon like that would not go down too well – would it? It would probably not be taken too seriously by church attendants, never mind those who don’t go to church.

So how do we communicate God, Jesus, Heaven and hell in today’s sophisticated modern world full of cynicism, bitterness and bile?

Some describe hell as being in the complete absence of God for eternity. But then, there are those in this state right now, in this very lifetime; so how can they see or understand the concept of hell, never mind fear it?

Perhaps one way is to accentuate the positive in a personal and close relationship with God. Not then … in Heaven … sometime in the future.

But here and now, today, and every day.

Through the Holy Spirit. The third person in the Holy Trinity. The gift. As described by St Hilary of Poitiers, (Bishop in the 3rd Century AD). Sent to us by Jesus after He was raised to Heaven.

Not much is said about the Holy Spirit in church these days.

Yet He is here, living, loving, and ready to guide us in this life, in preparation for an eternity with God, in the next.

If we let Him.

And these are no glib words either ... but meant quite literally.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Think On.

OK … let’s get ready for a biology lesson.

I have discovered that the human brain is not there for the sole purpose of keeping our ears apart. It has a specific purpose all or its own.

Primarily, it is there to make us think – I know it has other functions too, so hands down all those who were ready to correct me.

Where was I? Oh yes … the brain is there to make us think. Yet sadly many people under-use that particular function.

They make decisions based on instincts, feelings, opinions garnered from dubious sources such as magazines or flaky friends, or even as a reflex to the rumblings of their stomachs.

Decisions based on thinking and considering various view points and pros and cons are avoided because they involve … thinking. One’s brain hurts too much for such exercise.

Try visiting internet discussion forums and see how often people ask questions or seek advice to such basic issues. It makes you wonder how much thinking went into the process of considering the matter in the first place.

Consider stories in the news and you'll discover many examples of half-baked ideas and ill-thought-out decisions.

So … where is all this leading to? You might well ask.

Well … it is leading nowhere, unless we think about it, and resolve to use our brain more effectively.

Not that I am accusing you dear readers … no … it’s the others you know.

P.S. – If you think about it for a moment, I bet you can recognize an individual or two whose actions are not based on the same thinking process that you or I would use.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Moaner Lisa.

I asked a sick old man how he was doing, just as a conversation starter. He replied: I can’t complain ... there are so many others worse than me.

This set me thinking. When we complain about our situation, it may be a big thing, or a small matter ... a little grumble ... you know what I mean ... what are we doing exactly?

We are opening the door one tiny little bit for the devil to sneak in and play havoc with our thoughts. One tiny complaint leads to another ... and soon we become a Moaner Lisa !!!

If our Walk with Christ is to be perfect we should trust Him in everything. So the slightest complaint, grumble or moan is a hint that perhaps we don’t trust Him as much as we should or as much as we claim.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Don't panic ... don't panic !!!

Crises will happen to us from time to time. God permits them for His own purpose and for His own reasons.

Our natural reaction may be to panic.

Our un-natural reaction is to remain calm. Take a deep breath and trust in God.

At times of crisis we need to proceed slowly, in the conscious knowledge that God is with us and will protect us.

I repeat: in the conscious knowledge.

We should speak our truth quietly, as the opportunity arises, and as the Holy Spirit guides us.

We should avoid needless talk, or needless worries and concerns. But nurture a peace in our hearts that comes from Him, who cares and will protect us. If we allow Him to.

Our prayers should be focused on His will, and His plans for us in this critical situation; in the sure belief that He will see us through it just as He has brought us to it.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Percentage Belief.

A man named Jarius pleaded with Jesus for help because his daughter was dying. (Luke 8:40-56).

On His way to Jarius’ house, with a crowd following, there was a woman who had been ill for some time and doctors could do nothing for her. She thought: “if only I could get close enough to Jesus and touch His cloak, I’ll be healed.”

And so she did, and she was healed. Jesus felt her touching Him and said to her: “Your Faith has healed you.”

As He continued His journey a messenger came and told Jarius that his daughter was dead. “Don’t disturb Jesus any further.”

Jesus said to Jarius: “Don’t be afraid; only believe and she will be well.”

He then went to the house and raised the child from the dead.

As He was leaving that place, two blind men followed Jesus. (Matthew 9:27-31).

They begged Him to be healed.

So Jesus asked them: “Do you believe that I can heal you?”

“Yes” they answered.

Jesus touched their eyes and said: “Let it happen, then, just as you believe!”

And their sight was restored.

The common theme in these three incidents is that the individuals concerned believed in Jesus and in His power of healing.

The woman did not even have to ask Him. She believed that touching Him alone would heal her.

Jarius must have been devastated to hear of his daughter’s death; but Jesus told him to believe. He had a quick choice to make: carry on towards the house with Jesus, or send Him away. He believed in Jesus.

The two blind men were asked directly: “Do you believe that I can heal you?”

What a challenge from Jesus Himself. Do you really believe? Or are you here because you may have heard so much about me, or as a gamble that it might work, or for some other reason?

When we earnestly pray to God and ask for something; what percentage in us really believes that He can help us? Or is there that minute 1% of a doubt lurking there, at the back of our mind, making us doubt His willingness, or ability, to help?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Twisting the Word of God.

Once upon a time Jesus was in a synagogue on the Sabbath; and there was a man with a paralysed hand. (Matthew 12:9–14).

Some people wanted to accuse Him of doing wrong and asked Him whether it is against their Law to heal (work) on the Sabbath.

Jesus asked them if any of them had a sheep which fell into a deep hole on the Sabbath whether they would rescue it. Then to prove His point, He healed the man with the paralysed hand.

So what is Jesus saying here?

Is He encouraging people to break one of the Ten Commandments?

Of course not.

Jesus is saying: Beware of those who would use God’s Word for their own ends. They would either take it literally or miss-quote it to suit their own argument and to their benefit.

God has given you a brain. Use it.

It is there to help you discern what is right and what is wrong. The Commandments are there to guide you through life. Not to be used by you and interpreted in such a way so that you can twist their meaning for your own selfish needs.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

God speaking.

It is said that we have been on this earth for millions of years. I know it feels like it to me when I experience aches and pains … but that’s another story.

So let’s stop interrupting and get back on course.

For all these years, as long as man could reason and comprehend … (some women believe this has never happened).

I really must stop interrupting myself.

As I was saying … for all these years, as long as humanity could reason and comprehend, God has spoken to us and shown us the Way to Him.

No generation has been left without a sure sign of His existence and the Way to Him.

At first, God spoke through people like Abraham, Moses, Elijah and other prophets. He spoke through the many poets and songsters who wrote the psalms. And through ordinary people so that their contemporaries could understand.

Had He appeared as a majestic Divine Ruler, Creator and King of the whole universe, omnipotent, all knowing and all powerful; He would most probably have caused havoc, fear, awe, and eventually total submission.

Hardly the acts of a loving Father.

So God chose the gentler way of speaking through enlightened open minded people who could translate His message to generations in a language they could understand.

He taught them of His love for them, and for His plans to come to them in person, as often prophesised in the Old Testament.

But many did not listen.

Later on, when they were ready, He came to His creations as a human in the shape of Jesus. He showed them many signs of His divinity through healing miracles and raising of the dead. He died for them and us, and was raised from the dead.

But many did not listen.

When Jesus went to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us, and be with us every step of the eventual Way to the Father.

Many received Him with open hearts.

But as for countless others …

They’re not listening still.