Category Archives: Articles

Hope amidst the Chaos

“…there is only one way to resist and overcome the ravages of this pandemic…”

 

 

After 6 months of COVID-19 being identified as an infectious disease, first in Wuhan, Hubei, China; and then as a pandemic that is consequently affecting the entire globe; it would seem that this “invisible enemy” has not given humanity a truce and persists in its attack. As of press time, 13,022,814 cases have been reported, including 571,000 deaths.

And yes in the midst of this pandemic, the cases of COVID-19 do not stop; and logically neither the cases of anguish, depression, panic because this virus has not only wreaked havoc on the physical health of humanity, tragically including the death of some; but it has also caused destabilization in the world economy; companies that have gone bankrupt; or at least that they have reduced their workforce and unfortunately, household heads who have lost their jobs; just to name a few of the disorders caused by this “invisible enemy.”

And of course, parallel to the chaos we are facing, there is no shortage of well-meaning messages loaded with “good vibes” – as some call it so, that somehow want to motivate the souls of those who have fallen in this time and encourage them to get up; in fact, for all of society to rise up and fight for our most dear longings despite adversity.

But are we putting our trust solely in our courage, strength, good cheer, and skillful human strategy? If so, I’m afraid we won’t get very far. In fact, not even the most skillful scientific, political or even economic strategy has been able to stop the impacts of any kind caused by this pandemic.

However, there is only one way to resist and overcome the ravages of this pandemic; and it is precisely recognizing that we are not “self-sufficient”, that as humans “we did not make ourselves”; and that it is necessary to turn to our Maker, to our Creator, to the One who brought order to the initial chaos in this world (Genesis 1) and who has the power to sustain us, to raise us up and certainly, to bring order our chaotic world, to our chaotic lives.

How pleasant it is to find in the freshness of His Word, refreshment for our soul and true hope in the midst of an uncertain future from the human perspective; but, full of great hope for those of us who decide to trust Him, Jesus Christ, the author of life!

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
and whose trust is the Lord…” (Jeremiah 17:7-8

Do you know Jesus personally? Would you like to do it? If so, contact Towards Excellence and we will be happy to share more about our Lord Jesus Christ, the only hope for this world in chaos.

 

Source: Worldometer (pandemia statistics)

Photography:  Photo 1 and 2: Envato Elements & Photo 3: Cecy Yepez

Panic, Desolation, Hopelessness…Who do You Trust now?

“The crisis surpasses everything that human efforts could do.  And it’s just not the virus itself that causes illness and even sad losses everywhere…”

 

It’s true that from January 2020, all media and social media have been burdening us with thousands of headlines causing -some of them more than others- fear, anguish, hopelessness; in other words, chaos and instability.

For example, in January, “Fires in Australia are threatening the future of 327 protected species of plants and animals, says the Government.”  Also, in January, “Earthquake in Puerto Rico: How the earthquakes changed the view of the shape of the island from space.”  Later in February, “At least nine people died in Turkey because of the earthquake.  The epicenter was in Iran.”  And, of course, we haven’t been unaware of the widely debated “global warming” topic.

And yes, the earth has indeed faced fires, earthquakes, floods in different zones of the planet, and there’s no doubt that many populations have been affected in different and very critical ways.  But, in any case, each of these problems were specific or have attacked specific places.  And even though their neighbors from all over the world sympathized with them, nobody suffered from these tragedies but the people directly involved or affected.  Thus, it was a sort of sectorial pain, just to give a name to it.

However, lately some other headlines have joined the ones above mentioned: “UK ‘under house arrest’ as coronavirus measures ‘end freedom’”; “Coronavirus in Ecuador: questions and answers about corpse treatment during the health emergency;” or “The pandemic could reduce the world economy by almost 1% in 2020, says the UN.”

Hence, the outlook takes a radical turn, of course.  Headlines of this kind, about a particular topic, start to emerge in different countries around the globe, one after another, minute after minute.  Just like a clock that won’t stop ticking news after news, announcing an “invisible enemy” –COVID-19.

Enemy who, as of press time, has attacked over a million victims and killed 64,743 people worldwide.  An actual tragedy!

But, what kind of enemy is this, coming to disrupt the life of all the inhabitants of the planet like no other has before?  Panic isn’t sectorial anymore, panic is global!  The disaster isn’t sectorial, it’s global!

How can we leave this confinement?  How can we defeat the enemy?  Who can we trust?  These are some questions of all humankind in the midst of this world crisis.  But, despite the good spirits of some people, the high motivation of others, and mostly the amazing good will and self-sacrificing service of some more, and the strategic action of the governments that must be mentioned, of course; nothing is enough to bring well-being, good health or real peace feeling back.

The crisis surpasses everything that human efforts could do.  And it’s just not the virus itself that causes illness and even sad losses everywhere. It’s also the emotional tragedy that has reached families, communities and the entire global environment.

But it is right there, when we as human beings, we have nowhere to turn to and nowhere to go for shelter, when we realize our vulnerability, weakness and powerlessness to face the unknown. That’s when we dive into the deepest of our heart and acknowledge that there’s someone we can and we should turn to.

That someone is God.  And the word “god” might be too “shabby,” too “underused”, or too “decontextualized.”  Does the world have a true understanding and knowledge of who God is?  Does the world really understand the essence and greatness of God, the Creator of heavens and earth, the universe and everything that exists?

If indeed humanity understood the magnificence of this God, they would join yesteryear’s Psalmist, David, and cry out from the depths of their heart in these times of crisis:

“ I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
  My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!”

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.

 (Psalm 121:1-2,7  NLT)

 

When we come to understand that we ran out of “human” resources, in the midst of this pandemic, there’s no wiser action than turning to the Creator of all humankind.  There’s no wiser action than turning to the One who gives life, the One who saves and heals, the One from whom flows true peace.

There’s no other way than turning to the true and almighty God, to Jesus Christ, the Life itself, the Savior of the world, the Prince of peace!

While the news proclaim panic, desolation, hopelessness; only those who put their trust in the Eternal God, the Creator of heaven and earth, will have the strength to proclaim serenity, consolation and hope; always understanding that their protection comes from above, from their Creator.

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.”

(Isaiah 26:3-4  NIV)

 

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Photos:  Cecy Yepez (1) & Envato Elements (2, 3, 4) – Design:  YNS

 

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.

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