For many years now, I am in a biweekly rotation to deliver a message/sermon at the church I attend. This is a big responsibility and one that I take very seriously. Yesterday morning was my turn in the rotation and I had a message topic to share that expanded on my communion meditation from the previous Sunday. Many of my shares are based on my personal experiences. Many times a meditation comes to me in a dream, most times from a scripture verse. Such, was the case that shaped the message I shared yesterday. As a Christian I am aware of God’s many blessings. I’ve learned the most important lesson to keep my on an even keel, and that lesson is that life is impermanent. That we can still make progress through the ups and downs we call life. That in the end we end up higher than were we started. Many times I experience a divine presence that I have to say is more than pure coincidence. Take yesterday for example. As the benediction passage was mentioned by the reader, I opened my bible to look for it and on my first try, my bible opened up to that exact location. I don’t know how to make sense of this except to believe that there are forces that do we can’t see, but we can experience through our many senses. By the way, I have many more examples similar to this one. At the right moment and time all things fall into place or put another way find there purpose.
I want to talk about four types of people who hear the Word. The reading of Mark 4:3-8.
Mark 4:3-8 New International Version (NIV)
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Mark 4:15 New International Version (NIV)
15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
These represent those who are indifferent. They lack interest, enthusiasm, or concern, making them apathetic.
Mark 4:16-17 New International Version (NIV)
16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
These represent those with no discipleship and are prompted to seek salvation out of guilt.
Mark 4:18-19 New International Version (NIV)
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
These represent those who lust after the flesh, with their eyes and are full of pride.
Mark 4:20 New International Version (NIV)
20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
These are those who hear, accept, and do.
Jesus used parables often to help us understand heavenly things and always in a way that is not forced on us. This is an ingenious way to rouse our curiosity. I often forget that I often hear but not listen. This is the case when it comes to parables. With a parable you can hear, but not listen. The consequence of this is that they will be judged for what they refused to hear. They heard but refused.
The parable starts off with three who does not receive the word:
Along the Path
Visualize a path just wide enough to walk on. As you walk down this path day in and day out sowing your crop, this path proves to be hard indeed. The problem is the hardness of the path, not the seed or the sower. DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO JUST WILL NOT LISTEN? Along the path, the seed is actively taken by the birds. When we reject the Word of God, Satan will soon make it so that the Word is not around to bother us anymore.
I am sure we have all met some people who we’ve referred to as being shallow. The phrase comes from this passage. Here the ground represents people. Specifically, those who puts on a good ‘Christian front’. Christ becomes just a fad or a fashion statement. These are people who will find salvation in everything.
Amidst the Thorns
Some examples of thorns would be (worry, deceitfulness of wealth and desire). Worry is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve mentioned before that a little bit of worry is okay as long as our faith is greater than our worries. A blogger I follow put it this way, “Our faith in God is the bedrock of our lives. We can handle whatever life throws at us, as long as we are firmly grounded in our faith in God.”
When it comes to deceitfulness of wealth, here is my example: People with money tend to solve their problems with their wealth but God teaches them a lesson by arranging problems money can’t solve. This could be a diagnosis of an incurable health condition, a wrongful conviction, etc. The most important things in our lives are invaluable. You can’t put a price on the fruit of the spirit, of which, love is the greatest of all. God loved us so much that He gave us His son. All we have to do is believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
The worst of all thorns is desire. What are some of the things you desire for? Do any of them hold you back from desiring God? Make sure to examine yourself of this because as your desire for things increase, God soon decreases and fades away. In all this, the seed fails not because of the sower but because of the ground. Remember what the ground represented in this parable? It represented people. It is the sower’s wish that all might be saved.
Let me end this message paraphrasing a portion of John Hendershot article, Lessons on Mark. “Let us consider carefully what we hear. Whatever it is that we hear, this is what we repeat and soon what we repeat becomes who we are. Let’s select the important things in our lives. God will take our selection and use it as our measurement on judgement day. Are we harsh with others and easy with ourselves? God will be as easy with us as we are with others.”
Interceding for God’s People
I was currently reading, The Second Thing About God Should Be the First Thing about Us by Eleeo Zamzummin. In chapter 2 there was a passage that caught my attention and I kept reading it over and over. Then I realized that this passage can be put into an equation. God’s love + truth + righteousness = humility + worship +peace +joy. And a week later I realized this equation makes for a good prayer. This is the prayer that came to me:
Our heavenly Father, thank you for your love, truth and righteousness. Help us to always display humility. May we worship you and you alone, live in peace and rejoice always! In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
I would like to talk about Jeremiah. Let me start off by reading Jeremiah’s bleak proclamation in Jeremiah 6:22-23.
Jeremiah’s bleak proclamation:
Jeremiah 6:22-23 New International Version (NIV)
22 This is what the Lord says:
“Look, an army is coming
from the land of the north;
a great nation is being stirred up
from the ends of the earth.
23 They are armed with bow and spear;
they are cruel and show no mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
to attack you, Daughter Zion.”
Jeremiah was so consumed by the Word of God that his message came out without any sugar-coating. And because of this people wanted to kill him. Jeremiah 11:18-23 and 18:18-23.
Jeremiah 11:18-23 New International Version (NIV)
Plot Against Jeremiah
18 Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,
“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But you, Lord Almighty, who judge righteously
and test the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
21 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the people of Anathoth who are threatening to kill you, saying, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands”— 22 therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. 23 Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the people of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.” Chapter 18:18-23 reads,
Jeremiah 18:18-23 New International Version (NIV)
18 They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.”
19 Listen to me, Lord;
hear what my accusers are saying!
20 Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for me.
Remember that I stood before you
and spoke in their behalf
to turn your wrath away from them.
21 So give their children over to famine;
hand them over to the power of the sword.
Let their wives be made childless and widows;
let their men be put to death,
their young men slain by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses
when you suddenly bring invaders against them,
for they have dug a pit to capture me
and have hidden snares for my feet.
23 But you, Lord, know
all their plots to kill me.
Do not forgive their crimes
or blot out their sins from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
deal with them in the time of your anger.
Throughout the book of Jeremiah, we see people living idolatrous lives. God chose Jeremiah to intercede for His people. Isn’t it remarkable how God chooses or appoints someone or does something to counter the evil of this world? I am reminded of God’s ultimate intercessor, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are told in scripture that even now Jesus is interceding on our behalf. Romans 8:34 reads, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
God’s Word is a two-edged sword meaning “His Word will pierce, divide, reprove, correct wrongdoing and instruct in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, NLT: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.)” At the same time “God’s Word will also comfort, encourage, deliver, build, plant, heal and restore.
Do you find yourself discouraged? We can be as courageous as Jeremiah because in “Jeremiah 20:11 New International Version (NIV) we read:
11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
so, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten. And in
Jeremiah 12:15 New International Version (NIV) we read:
15 But after I uproot them, I will again have COMPASSION and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. Amidst this Covid19 Pandemic have you lost much? Rest assured that God will again have COMPASSION and tender mercy on you and His people.
Things got so bad that God told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 14:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 …,Do not pray for the well-being of this people.
I can’t help but think that our prayers go unanswered because we are no different from the people of Judah. However, Jeremiah could not cease but to intercede for them. Listen to Jeremiah 14:19-22 New International Version (NIV)
19 Have you rejected Judah completely?
Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there is only terror.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
and the guilt of our ancestors;
we have indeed sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonor your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
and do not break it.
22 Do any of the worthless idols of the nation’s bring rain?
Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
Therefore, our hope is in you,
for you are the one who does all this.
God was more than angry with His people but amazingly changes course and promises to again protect Jeremiah of his Duties after appealing to God again. God promises to protect him from the hand of the wicked and to redeem him out of the hand of the terrible. Can I get an AMEN! Isn’t this what we yearn for? Take heart because God will do the same for you. Because we have faith. He will let us speak out against the wicked, the terrible of this world.
Jeremiah was courageous because he had God on his side. We can learn from Jeremiah that when things are at its worst, we have to be quick to pray. God’s favor, compassion and mercy is better attained for us and our people when we pray. Those with no hope are more prone to walk after their own devices and will do whatever evil is in their hearts. And for those the Lord will scatter.
A conspiracy is formed against Jeremiah in
Jeremiah 18:18 New International Version (NIV)
18 They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.” and in
Jeremiah 19:15 New International Version (NIV)
15 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.’” Sound familiar. The people of God have a history of being stiff-necked people. Behaving this way makes it impossible to hear God.
In Jeremiah 20: 7-10, Jeremiah makes a complaint. Let me read this passage and see if you can relate.
Jeremiah 20:7-10 New International Version (NIV)
7 You deceived[a] me, Lord, and I was deceived[b];
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So, the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whisperings,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”
I want to say that Jeremiah had perseverance because even though he had complained, the Word of the Lord was a burning flame in his heart and ultimately, he continues to profess his trust in God. It is amazing to know that in the end it all comes back to God. Jeremiah 20:11-13 is a good place to end this message on a good note.
Jeremiah 20:11-13 New International Version (NIV)
11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
so, my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
13 Sing to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.
And to that I say Amen!
I greeted my mother this morning with a short video of me playing the song Estralita. All week I had been thinking of the perfect gift to give my mom for Mother’s Day, then, I remembered yesterday how my mom frequently asks me to play Estralita on the piano during my Sunday visits to her. I decided I would come up with my version of Estralita using my guitar since I don’t have access to a piano at home. With just a days practice, I braved on and recorded a personal message to mom and of course my version of the song Estralita. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bwVkL6BZrs
Thanks mom for teaching me the way I should go. I promise to not turn away from it (Proverbs 22:6). Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. Thank you for the unconditional love and light you continue to illuminate. I can’t speak for everyone out there but my mom was my guiding star growing up and it’s so ironic that she always asks me to play that song, perhaps it reminds her of her mother (it was also one of my father’s favorite when he was alive). I think it’s more the latter than the former.
The name Zephaniah means “The Lord hides”. It can also mean the Lord protects. In the bible, the book of Zephaniah announces to Judah the coming of the day of the Lord. On that day, God would severely punish the nations but also that God will be merciful to His people. The world as we know it is experiencing a new-norm. The invisible enemy, the unknown, has devastated our nations.
We are encouraged to gather together as a nation, seek the Lord, righteousness, humility and “perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’S anger”, (Zephaniah 2:3). While we’re at it, let us sing. Zephaniah 3:14 reads “v14. Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!”, “v17. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.”, “v20. At that time I will gather you…”. So, even though, for a short while, we’re distant from each other, be encouraged that we will be gathered with one another again. In the meantime be thankful that the Lord hides you and protects you. Zephaniah, sounds like a greeting as well as a farewell. Zephaniah for now.
No one likes to be tricked unless of course for entertainment purposes. I am often impressed by magicians who make things disappear and/or appear, as if they have access to another dimension (a magical dimension).
So, is magic real or is it an illusion? I say illusion appearing real. How ’bout you? Magic is just an illusion. However, it is real to the observant/s in that moment, in that time, until the magic is revealed. At that point the magic becomes an illusion and looses its intrigue. It’s the reason why magicians are very secretive about their craft. Otherwise, it would render them powerless. Still, after the revealing, their ingenuity, effort and passion to create what to us is real magic, is nothing short of amazing. So, is magic real? Ultimately, it all depends on how you look or should I say where you look (you’re perspective or vantage point of view). On a final note: Magic is all around us waiting to be revealed. And even though I know now that magic is just an illusion, the inner kid in me got to believe in magic. Have a magical rest of your day.
For as long as I can remember, I start off my day with a cup of Joe. I probably consume 3-4 cups a day of this elixir, oh, wait, I should say elixir for me. You can say that coffee is more of a comfort drink for me as it is a stimulant. I am not too picky about my coffee either. Obviously, some coffee are better than others but it’s all about preference, am I right?
I love that coffee compliments a lot of my meals if not all my meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner with coffee? Yes please! Alright maybe not with dinner. Although if I did, it wouldn’t keep me up when it’s time to say nite-nite. At least I think it doesn’t. I do try to avoid complimenting dinner with coffee though, just in case.
Here are some of the benefits of drinking coffee:
- Improve energy
- Burn Fat
- Improve physical performance
- Contains essential nutrients
- fight depression and make you happy
- may help you live longer
Reading through these benefits, makes coffee a great candidate to be an elixir, wouldn’t you agree? Whether it is or it isn’t doesn’t matter much to me. What does matter for me is that I get my cup of Joe on a daily, to assure I get some if not all of the benefits from it. Let’s drink to that and may you live long and prosper.
It is possible that the very first song I listened to as a toddler was Starry Starry Night, I mean Vincent. A song by Don McLean written as a tribute to Vincent von Gogh. For many years, I thought the name of that song was Starry Starry Night. I was told that every night for the first year of my life, my parents would play me that song to put me to sleep. Hhmm, I wonder, could this be the reason I have an indescribable connection to this song whenever I hear it, which is not often at all. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I heard that song. On the seldom occasion I hear that song, I sense a deep calmness within and it almost makes me want to cry. If you know the song, do you get the same sentiments? Then again, the song is very solemn, so, hhmm?
A big influence to my musical palate were my parents collection of vinyl records. I loved listening to the Platters, Connie Smith, Timi Yuro, Jon Secada, Johnny Mathis, Drifters, Elvis Presley, John Denver, etc. and of course the Beatles. My late father had a song, that ended up being our all time favorite called “He“a song about God, written in 1954. This song has sentimental value for me to this day because it always brings me back to the time when I would play the piano accompanied by my father singing the song He. That song gave us a special connection with each other.
As I grew older, I dabbled with all types of musical genre, anywhere from hard rock, soft rock, heavy metal, punk rock, classical music (thanks dad), pop music, R&B, rap, and of course Christian music. I love listening to the K-love station and I love my SiriusXM subscription. Some of my fave channels are the Blend, Bridge, and of course the Message. I am sure that you would agree that my palate for music can be a mouth full. Music brings a sense of color to my life and looking back has helped me at times to mend, rejuvenate, get inspired, and to feel loved.
Today, the music I mostly listen to are alternative, coffee hour, and of course Christian music. To which Contemporary Christian is my all time current favorite. I even wrote two Christian songs, both of which I strongly feel are a gift from God. I am baffled at how these songs just came to me, it seems from out of the blue. Just another one of those mysteries of life. Who knows, maybe one day God will bless me with a song as good as Vincent, out of the blue no doubt.
When I was 16 years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. I will never forget the day I was baptized. It was to take place at the church baptistry, however it was indisposed that day. So, I was taken to the river nearby and there I was baptized. I actually thought that was pretty cool knowing that Jesus himself was baptized in a river (the River Jordan).
After I was baptized, I didn’t really feel any different, except that I knew I was now a son of God. Now and forevermore my FAITH(For All I Trust Him) would be on Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Saviour. Many years would pass and I am happy to say that my faith has only gotten stronger over the years. Attributing daily prayer, singing and the reading of His word, this is what helps me the most to stay the course and to help me find my purpose to serve.
I have been fortunate that even through the darkest of times, I have held on to my faith, I have never wavered. However, I do know some people who were once Christians but because of circumstances in their life have abandoned their faith. It saddens me, that this happens, perhaps more frequently than I am aware of, except for the ones I know of firsthand. My prayer is for them to wake up and renew their faith once more. Life is impermanent. There will be ups and downs along the way but you can’t believe in God only during the ups of life. In fact, it is when things are downcast that ones faith can really pull you through.
I know for a fact that my life would have been a living hell if I had not accepted Jesus Christ when I did. My faith in Him was the reason I was able to stay away from bad influences growing up, certain things were just not the Christian thing to do. Of course, no one is perfect, I’ve had my fair share of juvenile behavior but it would have been worse if I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus and most importantly the support of others that shared this same faith. Yes, I am talking about other Christians. People like my grandfather, mother, aunties, uncles, cousins, people from church. Collectively, all these wonderful people are my family. A family of God fearing people who found (FAITH) and never looked back.
It is April 16, 2020. Exactly a month ago I temporarily shutdown my ESPIRITUSANTO MASSAGE office in downtown Pleasanton due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I did need a little break from my physically demanding career as an owner/practitioner of massage but this is more than I expected. The California Massage Therapy Council in conjunction with the governing bodies of the state is being very strict with our profession/industry conducting business as usual especially while this shelter in place mandate is in effect. I don’t want to risk losing my license as a massage therapist but more importantly I choose to first do no harm.
Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to figure out how I can adapt my business remotely. For the moment physical contact is out of the picture and it’s looking like we are all in it for the long haul. I thought of doing videos to promote health related topics but ultimately decided I wasn’t comfortable enough to start that just yet. I started to research for jobs I could do remotely from the comfort of my home and saw copywriting as a definite possibility. I do like journaling from time to time, so I looked into it futher and am currently learning how to be an effective writer, hence this bio.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, my role as a massage therapist can be physically demanding. The transition from that world to writing is a major change. I am transitioning from being in a place that was very physical to one that is now more cerebral. I do believe that things happen for a reason. Opportunities present itself in many different ways and this pandemic has prompted me to share my thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs without reservation. I am ready to embrace whatever the future has in store for me and the rest of the world and grateful to have a forum to share it.