Images that Freeze the Moment…

“Activists will come and go, voices will be raised and shut, Governments will seek popularity and others will oppose… But there is something that will remain and is unmovable – nature.”

 

Some time ago, I was commuting in a taxi to my office, and in the midst of a heavy traffic and my mind swirling with so many thoughts at the same time, I was suddenly caught by an image that I will never forget.

In the distance, one could see the sweetness of two teenage girls, who probably left their school at that time and were waiting for public transportation to drive them back home. All flirtatious, dressed in their school uniform, carrying their heavy backpacks, they seemed to engage in a dialogue that only they were able to understand in depth.

Glances went back and forth between the two of them and anyone who saw them could tell that they were two girls who had built a great friendship; a close, deep and unconditional relationship.

In the midst of the crowd and heavy traffic, my taxi suddenly stopped forthwith in front of the red traffic light, and concurrently, my gaze also stopped in amazement at the warning of the next action taken by these girls.

I could hardly believe it, my heart was pounding and at the same time, it was saddened. Those who stared at them surely thought that they were “accomplices”, schoolmates who had each other’s back all the time, accomplices when they did not complete the tasks, accomplices when perhaps one of them was missing, accomplices maybe when they copied each other’s exams. Yes, accomplices! Because in the couple of minutes that the traffic and the red light stopped me slightly in front of them, those thoughts brought about the image of these two girls, the image of the girly things that these schoolgirls would surely do in school.

Actually, my heart became sad when I suddenly looked at one of them who, with such boldness, approached even more the other girl and with a “womanizer” attitude began to caress and kiss her. And of course, the other one kissed her back “positively” without objection, pain, or complication.

A close friendship? A sincere and unconditional fellowship? A temporary relationship of infatuation between young girls? Or rather a tremendous alert for parents, families, communities!
Perhaps, while many read this story, they might say that “we must be tolerant and respect other people’s thinking and lifestyle,” or that “we must have an open mind, that we are in a different point in time.” The most disturbing thing is that even parents might think it so too.

But if we are honest to ourselves and analyze this kind of situations from the bottom of our hearts; isn’t it bizarre, uncomfortable and even disgusting to watch this kind of scenes – two little girls as if they were “in love”, or two boys pretending to be in a “couple’s” relationship?

And beyond that, as in my case, it was certainly painful. I felt a deep sadness for those girls. From the bottom of my heart I felt that there is a deep confusion in their lives. A confusion that probably stem from shortcomings in their lives. Yes, lack of love and care by their parents, lack of an appropriate family environment that affirms to each one of them that they are princesses, beautiful girls with a bright future ahead of them in which they will emerge as beautiful and intelligent women, full of attributes and virtues; as great professionals; but, mostly, as wonderful wives and mothers, whose children will be breastfed, nourished, protected, educated and guided as only a selfless mother usually does.

Yes! Shortages and probably losses! A few years ago I had the opportunity to do a research, with academic purposes, on the main causes of homosexuality and it was at the same time, surprising and sad to understand why finally many children, adolescents and young people end up confused, deviant and spoiled. Among the reasons are:

1. Damaged family ties: absence of the father or the mother, rejection of the identity of the newborn.
2. Lack of gender identity: inadequate relationship with the parent having the same sex.
3. Confusion of roles: False protection of the child or girl, or what is known as maternal overprotection.
4. Sexual, psychological, physical, emotional, verbal abuse.

Therefore, there is no such thing as, “I am trapped in a body that is not mine.” Activists will come and go, voices will be raised and shut, Governments will seek popularity and others will oppose to these groups as the well-known LGTBI. But there is something that will remain and is unmovable – nature. Nature itself teaches us that animals were created male and female. An so was the human being! We were created men and women. Otherwise, we would not have reached as far to this point in history, if it was not for the natural reproduction between men and women. The family is made up of a man, the head of every household; and of a woman, his help mate; who reproduce and have sons and daughters who will extend their territory and will be honored by the communities they live in.

God, Creator of heavens and earth, of the whole universe, is the one who wisely created men and women. There is no other way to reproduce ourselves, so that together we broaden our lands and rule the earth. We need the strength of the warrior man and hero, his impetus to explore and investigate, his protective heart and desire to provide for his family. And undoubtedly, the beauty and tenderness of the woman, whose heart is reliable, her spirit selfless, and her love inexhaustible for those around her, and certainly, her immortal hope.

In God’s wisdom, “He created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) The Lord’s original purpose was to create us with a heart that reflects His own attributes; however, due to sin, this heart has been broken and many human beings who have not reconciled with God, Their Creator, are far from reflecting those attributes.

Sadly and only as an example, the LGTBI population in the United States reached 4.5% (Gallup, 2017). And in the United Kingdom, the number of lesbians, gays and bisexuals reached just over 1,000,000 (ONS, 2017), and so we could address so many more examples, but this is not today’s purpose.
Instead, it is an invitation to you to take some time and think deeply in your hearts about so many lives destroyed and faded, notwithstanding they pretend the opposite: strength, lots of energy, with a spirit of tireless struggle for “their rights” and that they withstand, at all costs, to be “rejected.”

And in fact, the key word is “rejection.” Perhaps, deep inside their hearts lie deep wounds of rejection, abuse, contempt that need to be healed.

My invitation, if we are close to boys or girls, like those girls in my story in whom we clearly notice a confused spirit, is to extend our helping hand to lift them up, let us be that light that shines in the midst of their darkness and above all, let us give them that embrace they need so much so that they feel they are accepted, that even though their closest relatives have rejected them, God, their Creator is ready to embrace them and begin to heal their wounds no matter how complex and incurable they may seem.

“This is what the Lord says: Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing…But I will restore you to health, and heal your wounds, declares the Lord”. (Jeremiah 30:12,17a)

 

Photo License by envatoelements.com

 

A Week full of Victory!

The Holy Week, as we know begins with the well-known “Palm Sunday”, which is nothing but the “triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.” Yes, triumphal entry because all the people received Him with joy, excitement, offering palms, spreading their coats for the King to enter the city. “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;
Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9) Hosanna is truly a plea for salvation, as it is said in Psalm 118: 25: “O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity!”

The people longed for salvation. But, what kind of salvation? Probably, salvation from the conflictive social state of those days. But Jesus came to bring us even deeper salvation, salvation to our souls. A week later, Jesus dies on the cross. The acclaimed one is insulted, mistreated and reviled. Hope dies. The Man dies.

Yes, Jesus died in His human essence; but, His divine power was revealed 3 days later, when He rose in victory. When He overcame death, because Jesus Himself is the giver of life, He is the Life itself!

Jesus Christ is the only one who can rescue you from death, from the spiritual death that is the most serious! Do you know where you will spend eternity? Do you think that when you physically die, everything is over? Jesus tells you, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) Do not wait longer. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other way to ensure a life full of peace here on earth and of hope of eternity in the very presence of the Creator of the universe, where there will no longer be crying or pain. Where Jesus Himself will wipe away our tears and give us eternal peace on his lap, as a true loving Father.

For many, the Holy Week began in victory, but ended in despair, in pain, in tragedy, in death. But, the Holy Week began in Victory and ended in even greater Victory. Because Jesus Christ rose from the death and lives forever and ever! God is not dead, and He can transform your life…open your heart to Jesus today!

 

Photo License by 123RF.

A New Year full of HOPE!

Yes! The lovingkindness and compassion from our Creator never cease and never fail!

Let us give thanks to the LORD for all His blessings throughout 2018, but also let us give thanks for all the challenges and difficult moments that we experienced, those were opportunities to grow and to understand that there is HOPE ahead, because God is certainly the source of HOPE!

And if you do not know God personally yet; this is a perfect time to open and give your heart to the lover of your soul, Jesus, the only true God and Savior. God is indeed your Creator but He also wants to be your Father. He sent His only Son, Jesus to offer Himself in perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. When we were lost in our sin, God thought of us, and gave us hope by sending His Son to died on a cross to pay for our sin and to give us HOPE for a new life. God wants to embrace us as a loving father embrace and protect his little child, as His Word clearly says:

“and I [Jesus] give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me [Jesus], is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I [Jesus] and the Father [The Creator] are one.” (John 10:28-30)

Today could be the day of  your salvation!
If you want to learn more, contact us at Towards Excellence.

The Only Reason for Christmas!

Christmas…

Over 2,000 years ago, humankind celebrated the first Christmas in history. ¡The only and true Savior was born! The one whose main purpose was to release this planet from the worse exterminator…sin.

The wages of sin is death. But, Jesus, the Savior came to give us life and life to the full.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.                (Romans 10:9-10)

 

Would you like to learn more, contact us at Towards Excellence.

A Blessed Christmas and an Extraordinary New Year!

Matthew 2:5-12  (ESV)

5 They [the wise men] told him [Herod], “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

 

The Darker the Night, the Sooner the Dawn Arrives!

“Many times, in life, we see ourselves surrounded by dense darkness, and as we pass it through, we can hardly see dawn.”

 

The popular belief says so, although according to subject matter experts, that’s not necessarily the case. Anyway, what is true without a doubt is that after the thickest darkness of the night, we can always expect for the sunrise to come. Yes, we certainly can! Even in Antarctica where nights can last 24 hours.

But beyond a scientific analysis of this phenomenon, this leads us to meditate on the various circumstances we go through.  However, as sure as dawn approaches, when we walk along dreary times, we will surely see those sparkles of hope to light up our days and drive us with certainty to a new bright day.

Recently, I was on a plane for several hours flying back to my country. It was a night flight. So, while we were flying across the Atlantic, I witnessed the most spectacular night landscape…dense black clouds that made me think of a catastrophic storm coming right at us! But after a little while, through the distance I saw astonishing sparkles of light coming out of nowhere. Certainly, the first sunrays were showing up on the horizon. And the truth is that darkness, however dense it seemed, was brief and would soon be over. For sure, there was hope and dawn was getting closer.

What situation are you facing right now? Are you walking along a dense dark road where it’s just impossible to see the other end and it makes your heart feel invaded with fear and uneasiness? Do you feel lonely? Are you facing hard financial problems because you don’t have a job and you have nothing but tons of debts? Were you diagnosed with a disease with limited or very complicated probabilities of being healed by human means? Or are you going through a very painful family situation?

That’s life! There are sunny and bright days where we can feel affected by the heat despite the beautiful landscape around us. And there are also rainy and cold days where all we need is warm shelter and a hot drink. Of course, there are also those dark, freezing and hopeless nights; those times where our heart has a profound yearning for guidance from a caring and generous hand full of love.

I don’t know what you are going through right now, but if you’re walking across the dense and thick darkness of the night, I’m convinced that there’s hope and you still have the chance to suddenly see those sparkles of light that will lead you towards your very own sunrise.

In fact, someone already took that disturbing and densely dark journey before you and I did. There’s someone who fully understands what you’re experiencing today. Someone already went through all that and even more. That is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God Himself; the One who loved us [humankind] “so that though He was rich, He became poor, so that through His poverty we might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Has there ever been a darker night in the history of humankind?
The death of the Faithful and Just King for the lives of unfaithful and unjust people.                    The execution of the Holy One for the salvation of sinners.

But that night didn’t end there, and 72 hours later the dawn came with great power. The Righteous One rose again. He rose victoriously from death. Life defeated death!

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life itself; He has the power to take you from death to life, from discouragement to hope, from discontent to fullness, from anguish to peace.
You can test anything, but I can assure you that there’s no other way for you to find a brand-new and lasting dawn for your life. Jesus Christ is the only certain way. Jesus is the Bright Morning Star! (Revelation 22:16)

I invite you to open your heart, your soul to Jesus Christ today. He will put the breath of life in you and He will literally take you from death to life. He will fill you up with hope and He will keep you warm with His eternal love. And He will give you peace, the kind of peace that transcends all understanding in this turbulent world.

A popular adage says, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” In fact, “today is the day for Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). So, cry out faithfully to the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the One who listens to your pleas and to every yearning of your heart. Invite Him today to be your only Savior and Lord.

God Almighty, I thank you for sending your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross for me. Please forgive all my sins. I repent from the bottom of my heart because I have sinned against you and I have offended you. Cleanse me and purify me with Christ’s precious blood. I firmly believe that God raised Jesus from the death to give me eternal life. My beloved Jesus, please come into my heart. I welcome you as the only Savior of my soul and my life. Transform me and help me to live a life of obedience that will lead me to please you always. I pray all this in your Name, dear Jesus!

If you have any questions regarding the decision you made today, please contact our blog. We’re always glad to help you. And don’t forget that “today is the day for Salvation.”

 

Photos:

  1. Cecy Yepez
  2. Freepik License
  3. 123RF License

 

 

Have you ever experienced walking along an endless path?

“There was something that moved us not to stop or discourage us, but to continue despite the hurdles and perhaps the fatigue we experienced …”

 

Recently, I shared some outdoor activities, in which I had the opportunity to take short and long walks on trails in the middle of natural forests. It was a unique experience, so I incredibly enjoyed it despite the complexities that arose at certain times.

Eventually, one of the trails was much more complicated than the others, not only more complicated but also longer, almost endless. And in addition, many obstacles appeared throughout the tour.

Endless slopes for climbing; some sections downhill, slippery with mud; suddenly some ditches to jump; and in some cases, small streams or mud pits that demanded some impulse to cross them.

 

 

To the rhythm of the spectacular twittering of the little birds that fluttered in the middle of the forest and suddenly accompanied by a pair of friendly canines that joined the group as if they took the role of guides, the walk along the road suddenly acquired a different nuance. Some were losing strength; others, with a short break in the middle of the path and a little water was enough to regain the strength; others found it tremendously common, they knew they would face obstacles and were ready to face them.
But for everyone, there was something that moved us not to stop or discourage us, but to continue despite the hurdles and perhaps the fatigue we experienced … a single, but powerful thing … our goal: to reach one of the majestic waterfalls of the area.

And so it was, after almost two hours, our eyes could not believe in front of us, one of the most wonderful spectacles, the Cascada de Cóndor Machay, fruit of the thaw of the Cotopaxi snow-capped mountain, located in the Ecuadorian province that bears the same name.

How refreshing it was to stand in front of this spectacular landscape, not

At Cascada Condor Machay

only by the breeze that threw the force of the fall of the waters of the Condor Machay, which definitely brought freshness to our faces and bodies; but also because it brought refreshment to our souls, upon knowing that we achieved our goal, we discovered the beauty of Condor Machay, more than 3,000 meters high. Amazing! What an extraordinary live stage!

Walking along these roads and in particular this one that took us to Condor Machay, at times seemed a myriad, endless and irresistible path, but our eyes were on the finish line, the inestimable goal that was finally achieved and enjoyed.

 

Have you ever experienced walking along an endless path? Have you ever thought that the path of life sometimes seems to be an endless and overwhelming path?

Many times, walking through life may seem like a path whereby we walk without reaching the finish line. We certainly face many obstacles, but unfortunately we do not reach our goal. Now, what is your goal? What do you want to achieve at the end of life?

Perhaps, having a successful marriage, children fulfilled both as persons and as professionals, a highly respectable professional development, businesses that reach their maximum magnificence; and all this can be valuable and if achieved, it will be truly worthy of admiration. However, even if all this seems stately and invaluable it remains purely physical and emotional. But, what about the spiritual realm?

Do we think perhaps that after all the innumerable hurdles overcome and the success achieved on this planet, everything ends there once we leave it?
Well, absolutely not, God, our Creator according to His Word, “… and has set eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are eternal beings, once we leave this earth, we will live – our spirit will live forever. The question is, where?

And while our life does not have a clear and transcendent purpose, all success achieved even in the midst of huge obstacles becomes transient, temporary, fleeting achievements and even futile. Why? Because very often everything we do, and with great effort, is simply done to bring about recognition to our own name.

The writer John Piper, in his book, “Don’t waste your life” states: “It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself.”

The moment we recognize that we are creatures of God, the creator of the heavens and earth, of the human being, of the entire universe and of everything in it; our perspective will change completely. We are beings created by the great Almighty God and we are made in His image and likeness and we are created for good works; as His Word states: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Then everything makes sense. It’s not about us, it’s about who made us and what He created us for. God is the one who gives purpose to our lives, He is the one who will fulfill His purpose in each one of us (Psalm 138: 8), of course if we turn to Him, if we seek His direction, if we long for His purpose in our lives.

The journey of life is complicated, exhausting and confusing at times; but if we are clear about our purpose and we set our eyes on it, we know that every obstacle will finally be overcome. Jesus said: “I have told you these things so that you may find peace in me. In this world you will face afflictions, but be encouraged! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). And He also said: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14: 2).
Today may be the day you find true peace and salvation. Surely, you may have been walking on seemingly blind alleys, endlessly. And perhaps, without any major achievements. But Jesus Christ invites you to leave all the burden at His feet today, to confess your sins before Him, to let go everything that troubles you before Him. Jesus today listens to you, He listens to your heart and invites you to release everything that overwhelms you. He is your Savior, your Healer, who forgives all your evils and is ready to welcome you with open arms.

You have tried to jump or evade so many obstacles but without any luck. If today you open your heart completely, without regrets, if you repent of all sin, Jesus promises you eternal life in His presence, and also to walk with you the path of life. At the end of the path, the majestic inexhaustible source of living water will surely await you, Jesus Christ Himself who will receive you with open arms, who will wipe away your tears, who will refresh your soul!

His Word indeed states: “The LORD Himself goes before you and be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged”                                                                                             (Deuteronomy 31: 8).

Photos:  Courtesy of CI colleagues.