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.

How important is TODAY?

 “Successful people learn from YESTERDAY … Unsuccessful people yearn for YESTERDAY.”

 

A while ago, I had the pleasure of attending a series of conferences with the renowned John C. Maxwell. And all of them captured my attention and their messages penetrated deeply into my being.
However, one of them certainly made a big impact on me. And when listening without hesitation:
“Successful people learn from YESTERDAY … Unsuccessful people yearn for YESTERDAY”

John C. Maxwell & Cecilia Yepez

…my brain immediately made some connections, especially within the Latin American context in which I live. I often meet people who sadly have lived for years tied to the past and regreting deeply about their unsuitable or wrong decisions.
How many times as human beings do we deeply regret, for “ages” our failures, errors, mistakes made? And I believe that it is right to regret and above all to repent of the mistakes we made; but once repented, we must look forward, get back up and carry on. Yes, carry on, but once we have analyzed the cause of our fall and learned the lesson. Therefore, how important it is,
“not to count our losses, but to count the lessons.”

And in the process, we certainly learn from our falls, losses or sins committed. We will understand that we definitely disobey universal rules or principles. And without a doubt, every disobedience bears its owns consequences.

For example, if today, the child does not study for his school exam; tomorrow, he will get a bad grade. As simple as that.

And perhaps many people, do not take TODAY as serious. How important is TODAY!
In fact, YESTERDAY influences TODAY. But if we cling to the PAST, then we have no understanding that the PAST ended YESTERDAY. Therefore, it is essential to understand that if the PAST controls us, we will not be able to MOVE FORWARD. We cannot go anywhere.

“One must look towards the future with ANTICIPATION, not with APPREHENSION.”
And for that purpose, TODAY is the very moment to PREPARE as Maxwell explains it. If we do not prepare TODAY for Tomorrow; it is most certainly that Tomorrow we will have to REPAIR.

“Where there is no FAITH in the FUTURE, there is no POWER in the PRESENT.”

If we are proactive, we focus on PREPARE; but, if we are reactive, our focus will be on REPAIR.

How important is TODAY in people’s lives!
If we take a look at the world around us, to the political and governmental leaders; to society in general; to the family; to youth; even the children … Is it evident that TODAY marks the importance in their lives and that they are PREPARING themselves properly for Tomorrow?

Sadly, I would say no. The world is increasingly threatened by wars, guerrillas, drug trafficking networks; networks of corruption; dysfunctional families; young people disoriented and confused even from the understanding of their own gender; children who have already been trapped by drugs or who have been abused at a young age. Just to mention a few examples.

TODAY matters! And if we as adults, from our different spheres throughout the world, are not determined to make the right decisions TODAY in the context of our families and our communities; TOMORROW might be late even to REPAIR.

TODAY, it is the day that our Creator -Jesus Christ has given to each inhabitant of the planet. Let’s make the right decisions, determine our priorities, choose the good, discard the bad.

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”      

        (Philippians 4:8)                                                                                                           

Human Sexuality in the Biblical View

“God created our body (man and woman) with sexual needs for the very purpose…Sexuality is God´s design.”

Hoai Truc Huynh

Hoai Truc Huynh

Hoai Truc Huynh was born in Vietnam, where she is living now. She grew up in a Christian family but she attended church without having a true relationship with God. It was until she was 18 years old when Hoai Truc Huynh became a devote Christian.  Then, she responded to God’s calling in her life by enrolling as MDiv. student at “Torch Trinity Graduate University” in South Korea. There, she also involved as a missionary for Vietnamese workers.

After graduating, she went back to Vietnam, where she is mainly involved in teaching ministry. Her students have taken the online classes and some had attended the traditional classrooms. She serves through children´s ministry as well.

Hoai Truc Huynh has the vision and special call from God for the mission field, Christian education, and for imparting Christian thought and culture into the lives of young people.

Tell us what inspired you to write this book “Human Sexuality in the Biblical View”? 

My heart has deeply concerned for today´s young generation of the church and the community, since their values of life have been diverged from the truth and Christian ethics in many ways. Secularism and culture have been sophisticatedly affected their thinking and lifestyle through the influence of books, films, television programs, and social networking sites. Many young people are struggling to seek the answers to their concerns and questions about life and themselves, including sexuality. But the answers which are based on the truth seem to be very rare in the community nowadays. Most of the answers are likely offered by secular psychologists based on hypotheses and human knowledge.

Teaching young people in church – Vietnam

Yet the teachings and instructions based on the Word of God are truly beneficial for mankind and have eternal value. Also, I recognized that understanding about sexuality is a legitimate and necessary need for young people. Last summer, in a survey of a course that truly responded to the needs of young people in my church, they told me that they wanted to learn about sexuality. Then, after the course was done, the young people gave their feedback and said that the course was so good and how much they needed that kind of information and instruction for their lives.

And then, God’s voice came to my spirit and stirred my heart. The Holy Spirit urged me to write the book on sexuality and to publish it so that many other young people could learn from it. I obeyed Him and began writing the book. All thanks to the Holy Spirit! He led me from this astonishment to the other. I was very excited as I could hear His voice by giving me many ideas and thoughts on human sexuality, during my time of meditation on the Bible,  and the time I spent studying and researching about this topic. Finally the book was written in about 60 days!

When the world talks about “sex,” people usually makes fun of it. Movies, theaters, magazines, websites show sexuality in a very distorted way. Then, how we could say that “Sexuality is God´s design”?

Sexuality is a part of the whole being of mankind. To know exactly about it, we need to start from the origin of mankind –Who Am I- because knowing our origin determines our behavior in social life as well as in the way we receive the teachings concerning sexuality on the basis of the Bible. Among many hypotheses of human origin, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution claimed that mankind is evolutionary animals, in other words, we are evolved from the great apes. If we accept the theory of evolution without thinking out, when it comes to sex and sexuality, we will use sex in a way as an animal does.

On the contrary, if we clearly and rationally determine that human being is the creature created in the image of God as what God has revealed to us in the Bible, we will accept the biblical teaching about mankind. The Bible revealed that in the beginning God made human beings (man and woman) in His own image (Genesis 1:26, 27). In a very complex and miraculous structure of the human body that consists of eight organ systems operating harmoniously to sustain life, God designs the genital system in it. And through the genital system in each gender, sexuality is expressed and carries out its function. God created our body (man and woman) with sexual needs for the very purpose.

The world tries to devalue what God created, so sexuality is often shown in a very distorted way through movies, magazines, humorous stories, and websites. Yet the truth belongs to those who walk in the light. On the very basic of the revealed Word of God, we could say that “Sexuality is God´s design”.

As you know, our young people are currently facing critical problems mostly related to gender and sexual orientation. Nevertheless, it seems like our societies are accepting them as normal (homosexuality, transgender, being part of movements like LGBTI, etc). How do the so called “traditional families” can deal with it, and actually fight against it and protect their children?

Hoai Truc Huynh and her family

Since the fall of mankind, sin has led people into wrongdoing even in their own gender. When it comes to the problems related to gender and sexual orientation (homosexuality, transgender), the secularist view assumes the conditions of early childhood such as education and care. And many scholars share the view that sexual orientation has developed very early in most people at an early age because of the mutual complicated impact of biological, psychological and social factors. Also, in psychological and psychiatric field, some secular people argue that homosexual behavior is entirely determined by genetic factors beyond one’s control. Therefore, homosexuality is not immoral and it is not something that homosexual offender has to be responsible for his or her behavior. Consequentially, it seems like our societies are accepting them as normal. However, the so called “traditional families” need to go back to the Bible, the ultimate truth, in order to find out the right answers to these critical problems or the real causes of them. We must go back to the Word of God to fight against the ideology of this sinful world, or the way-of-thinking of the flesh. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul repeatedly condemned homosexuality. He claimed that these sinful practices are contrary to the natural law of God (Romans 1:26,27). In other passages of the Bible, Paul named homosexual offenders with others terms “male prostitutes” and “perverts” (I Corinthians 6:9; I Timothy 1:10). The Bible says that the end of those who choose to walk in such sexual impurity is to receive eternal punishment, for the Kingdom of God is not for them.

Teaching the new generations – Vietnam

Also, the Bible disclosed the fact that transgender and homosexuality was due to the very reason that although human beings knew God, they did not worship Him as God and desired to follow the foolish thought of their depraved heart. Therefore, God gave them over in depraved and shameful practice.

We must teach our children the truth that unnatural sexual orientation which has emerged in human society since ancient times has not really been a matter of psychology, of education, of gene, or of living environment; it is actually the very problem of human sin, the deliberate rejection of human beings to God and His plan for their life.

Another cause for someone being consistent with unnatural sexual orientation in his or her life is being possessed by demons. Series of sins made sinners unable to inherit the Kingdom of God: “the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers” (I Corinthians 6:9-10), then the Apostle Paul immediately emphasized, “Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:11-NET Bible). The truth revealed here is that while a person is bound by Satan, he or she may be a slave to unnatural sexual desires “passive homosexual partners or practicing homosexuals”.

And until that person is rescued in the Name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, he or she will be released from homosexuality. Therefore, the cause of these sinful practices is the problem of the spiritual field. It is the possession of evil spirits in one’s life. A person who is possessed by demons and becomes homosexual offender, he or she must be set free in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Does God (Jesus) love homesexuals? If so, are they accepted as such?

As we all know, God loves the sinner but He hates sin, and God had a perfect plan to rescue sinners from sin through Jesus Christ. Similarly, God (Jesus) truly loves homosexuals but he does not accept their sinful acts or their practice.

Is there any hope for this world who transgressed God´s law / design?

Always there is hope for this world who transgressed God´s law / design. Hope is available for those who come to Jesus Christ. God never fails in the place of mankind’s failure. If repentance comes first, hope will follow. Once man brings all his transgression to light and surrenders his life to God, he will be saved in Jesus Christ. Those who expose everything clearly in their repentance before the Lord Jesus will be rescued from darkness from the past and brought into the light of life.

 

“Human Sexuality in the Biblical View” will soon be released in English and Vietnamese. If you are interested in getting this book, kindly contact “Towards Excellence.”