God’s Glory

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.” Psalm 19:1

I love colors; not just black and white, but wild, vibrant, dazzling and bold colors. Like the Florida sunsets that are so alive with incredible hues of red, orange and pink, along with beautiful shades of blue and violet; some days, you can hardly believe the magnificence.  Of course, my favorite colors are burgundy & gold – Go Redskins!

I’m reminded of a property I managed several years ago, where the entire front of the Clubhouse was ceiling-to-floor windows and I could, while inside looking out, see the lime green trees and bushes in the foreground of a dynamite cobalt blue sky and a huge lake a shade lighter; must admit, the view nearly gave me goose bumps. Yet even in small things, like when the once-in-a while red cardinal flying up a blue sky dotted with giant whiter-than-white clouds amazes me with its beauty while walking around our neighborhood.

Over the years I’ve learned that whenever I’m feeling tired, depressed, overworked or sad – an easy remedy is to go outside and find some color. Travel to the beach and enjoy the gorgeous, soft white sand, dark blue waves dotted with stunning whitecaps. Or perhaps to the amusement parks, where the flowers compete with the colors of the rides, outside umbrella tables and mosaic lounge chairs. Even a simple jump in my car and drive out rural areas, where so many shades of green along farm lands or golf courses alike defy the imagination.

Spirits lifted, my thoughts sorted and smiles returned…I head home – thankful to God for the colors of my life!

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good!” – Maya Angelou

Just something to think about….

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God’s Handwriting

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you realize that when God entered time and became a man, the One who was boundless became bound – imprisoned and restricted by a weary-prone human body. For more than three decades, His once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm and His speed of movement checked to the pace of human feet.

Ever wonder, was He tempted to reclaim his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did He ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled His bones, was He tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched His lips, did He give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?  If ever He entertained such thoughts, He never gave in to them…Not Once!

Not once did Christ use His supernatural powers for personal comfort. With one word He could’ve transformed the hard earth into a soft bed. With a wave of His hand, He could’ve boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces. With an arch of His brow, He could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns; but He didn’t do any of these things.

Want to know the coolest things about what He did do?

He kept his cool while the dozen best friends He had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. He gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”  He refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin since Adam. He stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.

Finally, I can imagine how after three days in a dark hole He stepped out of a tomb and into that Sunday sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a simple question for lowly Lucifer – “Is that your best punch?”

But want to know the most amazing thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?

He did it all that for you and me!

“Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness and simplicity.” – Charles Spurgeon

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Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John Kennedy

Came across this simple story and just had to share…as it depicts what somebody practice as a radical idea back then and still could be our challenge to follow today!

As heir to the Borden Dairy estate, William Borden was a millionaire by the time he graduated from high school. While a student at Yale University, Borden was president of Phi Beta Kappa and was active in football, baseball, crew, and wrestling. But his passion was his religious work, particularly the rescue mission he established.

By the time Borden finished Yale in 1909, he had decided to become a missionary to China despite warnings from his friends that he was wasting his life. He enrolled in Princeton Seminary and traveled to other colleges and seminaries, urging students to give their lives to missions. Through all his other commitments, he kept up his visits to the Yale Hope Mission and gave generously to support its ministry. Borden died at the age of twenty-five while training in Egypt, but his influence lives on. As Princeton professor Charles Erdman said of Borden, “Apart from Christ, there is no explanation of such a life.”

True humility doesn’t make sense in human terms. Giving up a privileged life to serve others is nothing less than a radical idea. Indeed, apart from the humility God models for us, there is no explanation for it at all.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 

Just something else to think about…

“A religion that leads men to place a low estimate upon human beings, whom Christ has esteemed of such value as to give Himself for them; a religion that would lead us to be careless of human needs, sufferings, or rights, is a spurious religion. In slighting the claims of the poor, the suffering, and the sinful, we are proving ourselves traitors to Christ. It is because men take upon themselves the name of Christ, while in life they deny His character, that Christianity has so little power in the world”. – Ellen G. White

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The Two Way Street

“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” – Billy Graham

If you were told that God was going to call you sometime today, would you be excited or scared?  Would you let the call go straight through to voicemail, or would you answer Him right away?

The truth is that likely He has called on each of us already. Romans 8:28 reads “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Now, perhaps it’s not the same as a phone call…except that it is a very personal message directly to you from God.

The call of God is your life mission, the one He gave you when He created you. Don’t confuse your calling with your career. Maybe you’re called to be a teacher, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be in a classroom. Or you may be called to be a writer, but that doesn’t mean you’ll work in journalism or even become a novelist.

Your calling is far more significant than any job. It is an all-encompassing mission that rests at the center of your life and should influence everything you do.  Throughout the Bible we find how God called on people to fulfill a special mission; folks like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, Peter and Paul. They each had a unique roll that supported His ultimate plan to redeem humanity.

It was Paul who tells us that God has called you and I to an equally important task. “My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people” – Romans 1:18

The greatest of those glorious blessings is our intimate relationship with God; so let’s focus on Him…eager to listen and learn what our calling is today.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis

…just something to think about

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Mercy Me

“God’s mercy and grace gives me hope for myself and for our world.” – Billy Graham

This week as the Nation remembers the infamous terrorist attacks from 18 years ago, I came across this “prayer” written by Max Lucado on September 13, 2001    I find it profound, inspirational and still very much relative still today!

“We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.  But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream, and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest; a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor, and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.  And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request; we implore. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories, and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.  Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.  You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.  And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.  But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord.

We thank you, dear Father, for those hours of unity. Disaster did what discussions could not. Doctrinal fences fell. Republicans stood with Democrats. Skin colors were covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for those hours of unity.  And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our president, vice president, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again!”

Mercy Me2019-09-30T06:20:04-05:00

Spiritual Fruit

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

There’s a funny thing that happens when we get married. We start to see how the spoken and unspoken expectations we had of our spouse begin to stack up. These expectations can be messy and take a lot of patience, kindness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit for couples to navigate.

My wife and I have been married for thirty-three years, and thru this period, we’ve seen the true benefit of dwelling on the good things. We’ve made our fair share of mistakes, dealt with unmet expectations and we’ve experienced disappointing one another. Our marriage has been laced with pleasantries and hurts, but it’s been our willingness to see the best in each other that has and continues to help us, in loving one another well!

One of the definitions of dwell means to live or continue in a given condition or state. When we dwell on certain thoughts, whether good or bad, we’re making those thoughts a home in our mind! Paul told the church to dwell on what was true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. He told them to do this so that their thoughts concerning each other would be healthy.

If the thoughts we dwell on aren’t good, we run the risk of treating people in ways that degrade and denigrate them. Our negative thoughts can lead to us seeing other folks in an antagonistic way, which can eventually cause us to treat them in a manner less than one that pleases God. Thinking good thoughts, however, puts us on the path to being compassionate, gentle, encouraging, long-suffering and forgiving toward them!

We can decide to see the good and honorable things in people. You’ll be surprised at just how far good thoughts can take you regarding how you see, engage with and enjoy your family, friends or complete strangers.   Just something to think about…

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Spiritual Fruit2019-09-29T19:00:47-05:00

Superheros

“I think that we all do heroic things, but hero is not a noun is a verb.” – Robert Downey, Jr.

Who is your favorite superhero? Is your favorite Aquaman? if so, then know that most people might find this surprising since, let’s face it; he has never been that popular of a superhero. He doesn’t strike fear into the heart of evil, like Batman, or block bullets like Wonder Woman. Heck, even most sidekicks can fly, but Aquaman needs to hail a seahorse to get anywhere.

 

Thinking about it further, whenever Aquaman fights, he’s always at a disadvantage. His ocean powers never help him on the land; but despite that he still tackled the bad guys and won. It’s easy to be brave or strong when you have the home field advantage, but what happens when the tables are turned, and you find yourself in enemy territory?

 

By now perhaps you guys are saying – this all sounds “pretty corny”…I know; but things like this remind me of what Jesus faced when he became a man. We Christians are quick to quote Jesus’ death on the cross, the sacrifice he made so that we could be forgiven, but sometimes I think we forget about his life. We forget the miracle that occurred when a Holy God chose to step into a world overrun by sin.

 

Can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe to become a human? To understand the indignity of stubbing a toe or skinning a knee, the frustration of being confined to a small desert when the whole universe could not contain him, or the humility required to endure hunger and thirst?  Meanwhile, the devil stood in the background promising release, offering to make everything the way it was if Jesus would only pay a small, insignificant price.

Thankfully the Son of man chose to tackle the bad guy and won…that’s what make Him my Superhero!

“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies.” – Isaiah 42:13

…just something to think about!

Superheros2019-09-29T18:59:23-05:00

The tight fist

If you have been grasping onto something, try to let it go, so your empty hands will be ready to receive a new gift.” – Juan Nakamori

Do you ever wonder what living a life like money is like?!? I’m not talking about having a significant amount of wealth or about having a great big bank account either that affords you to do whatever you want. Instead, what I’m saying is that life is like money because, barring destroying it, money always has the value designated when created; so no matter how crumpled, how old, torn or even if it is stained with coffee, dirt or ink – money still has value. Likewise, your life, like money, still has great value no matter how many times you have been downtrodden, or how often you think you’ve failed in your attempts to excel at a certain sport, particular business and/or any personal relationships.

Ultimately, the bright spot here is that your value is not determined by other people’s opinions. It does not come from what you own or what you do; for your value was set by your Creator… So remember when you feel worthless, He has big plans for you. After all, it was also He who gave up His life to redeem both you and me – so that makes us priceless!

“For I know the plans I have for you – declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair; I envied her

as she seemed so gay -and oh, I wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle,
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two feet – the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm;
He seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm.
I said, ‘It’s nice to deal with you, Such courtesy I seldom find.’
He turned and said, ‘Oh, thank you, sir!’ and I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes – the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; It seemed he knew not what to do,
I stopped a moment, then I said: ‘Why don’t you join the others, dear?’
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew; He could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two ears – the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I should know: I’m blessed indeed, The world is mine;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine!”

– By Red Foley

Just something to think about…

Hope you’ll enjoy a GREAT weekend!

José Ponton, Jr.
From Sunny Florida

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid …, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you!” – Deuteronomy 31:6

The tight fist2019-07-14T17:48:32-05:00

True Independence

“The United States was born in revolution and nurtured by struggle. Throughout our history, the American people have befriended and supported all those who seek independence and a better way of life.” – Robert Kennedy

 

On a holiday when this country celebrates its independence, I’m not riding on the current trendy bandwagon of American self-loathing, for I love the USA and dig my personal and religious freedom. Without free speech I’d be locked up somewhere…but not here – thank goodness!  So why the long face on so many Americans about red-white-and-blue, take-a-day-off and fire-up-the-grill day?
Is it because we get sad when we consider the evolution ‘Freedom’ has undertaken just in our lifetime – from “allowed to act responsibly” to “if it feels good do it” to “absolutely anything goes and don’t even try to suggest otherwise, or we might just take away your freedom?”
Is it because “Independence Day” is a disconnect for us from things we know to be true? For independence has seldom served us well where family or friends or work colleagues or the church or the Lord are concerned.  So, left without the trite and tried-but-true 4th of July metaphors for today’s message, I settled on the short, bittersweet and eternal lessons like these for inspiration;

  • Neither politics nor religion nor any mixing of the two will save us at the end.
  • Two things are really required for true freedom – repentance for our wrongs and the granting of forgiveness to those that wrong us.
  • It’s never wrong or out-of-style to be thankful…to daily express gratitude.
  • You can pledge your allegiance to the flag every day and admit your own and your country’s independence; yet know that “when you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor” – James 4:10

…just something to think about!

“…freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals and those who died in their defense.” – Barack Obama

Hope you’ll enjoy a GREAT holiday weekend!
José Ponton, Jr.
From Sunny Florida
True Independence2019-07-03T16:41:14-05:00

A time…

“…a time to be silent and a time to speak” – Ecclesiastes 3:7

Silent Movies. The symphony. A child during the dinner prayer. Sitting in a crowded theater. At church during the sermon. In class when the professor is lecturing. In a conversation when you are the listener.

All these scenarios are times to be silent.

Silence is more than just an absence of noise.  Silence is a doorway beyond all that is demanded of you and happening all around you.  To be silent is to realize more of the unnoticed in life; like he robin bird stepping softly across the grass, as if walking on air, or the leaf brushing lightly against the rain gutter.

God whispers quietly when we are silent enough to hear Him. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman…speaking ever so delicately and yet with great purpose.  Are you sometimes silent enough to hear?

Indeed, silence has a balance; for then there is also a time to speak.  As a parent when your daughter is about to cut herself with a sharp knife, you must speak immediately, with authority in your voice!  When your friend is wrongly accused, it is a time to speak in their defense. When your son is honored for scoring the winning touchdown for his team, your words of pride ring loud and clear.

When you realize how much Jesus gave for you, His very life, you speak words of surrender. You humbly speak words of gratitude. You speak words of joy and praise to all who can hear!

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our Maker’s praise without anxiety.” – Aiden Wilson Tozer

Just something to think about…Have a GREAT weekend!

José Ponton, Jr.   

From Sunny Florida

A time…2019-07-03T16:41:41-05:00