Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pick A Number

Growing up as a Boronat, my family and I would often camp with my godparents in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.  We shared great memories, like hiking down Kaaterskill Falls, roasting our food over an open fire, and nearly freezing to death each night as the temperatures plummeted.  Then we had the not-so-great memories.  For example, my godfather, Tio Adolfo, would always ask us the same question when a chore needed to be accomplished.

"Pick a number between one and one-hundred."

"Seven, twenty-five, sixty-four (or some other number)," I or one of my siblings would answer.

"THAT IS THE RIGHT NUMBER!" he would cackle in reply, and then summarily send us off to whatever the task might be.

I thought I had figured out a loop hole when I answered him using a letter of the alphabet.


It was pretty unfair, or so I thought.  Life, it turns out, doesn’t seem fair.

Some people seem to coast through their lives on a couch of ease while the majority of others scrabble around, trying to piece together a living.  How can it be that children die of malnutrition?  And how is it that many people who would make GREAT parents cannot have children of their own?  What about those who get cancer or other diseases?

Why do “bad” things happen to “good” people?

“Religion” does not answer this basic question of existence.  Only God knows why He allows certain things to happen in our lives. 

But we can rest assured that while life may not seem fair at times, God is good and is in the process of making all things new.

Over the next few months, we are going to embark on a journey through the Book of Job.  We’ll be wrestling with many questions regarding the nature of suffering.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Beginnings

Recently, as I was working on my taxes, my home computer stopped responding and then displayed the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”. If you have ever used a Windows computer that suddenly crashed, you know that sinking feeling that always accompanies the following white words on a blue screen…

“Your computer has experienced a serious malfunction and is now shutting down to prevent more damage...”

Then the screen informs you that it has begun a “core dump”. It’s at this point that I ram my finger against the power button and watch with dismay as the screen blinks off.

For SOME reason, the Blue Screen of Death never appears when I’m doing something mundane like surfing the web.

I sighed, shook my head, and attempted to boot it up again; but something was seriously wrong with my computer. The information on my hard drive was fine, but it couldn’t be used to boot my computer up.

I needed a new hard drive.

I bit the bullet and purchased a new drive with twice the capacity of the old one. The process of reinstalling Windows took the better part of a day, and it took several more days before I finished installing all the programs and respective updates.

But you know what? My computer runs A LOT faster now than it did before.

There really is something special to having a fresh start. This spring has come early in more ways than one. I’m back to writing. I’m back to giving out coffee in the mornings to day laborers waiting for work. And I’m back to being a pastor again.

However, all this is viewed through a different perspective. If I have learned anything from the process of recovering from brain surgery, it has taught me to take nothing for granted.


Each morning, I draw aside the shades and peer out of the sliding glass door to catch a glimpse of the pre-dawn darkness.

Each dawn I witness is a special gift from God.

All this would mean nothing if it were not for Jesus. It has been many years since I gave my life to Him. Many years since I left the pain of knowing how worthless I was, and yet still, He died for my sins.

Many years since I truly believed.

Since that day, I’ve had many ups and downs, but the Holy Spirit has been my constant companion.

I am reminded of the story of “Footprints”. A man and God are walking along a beach revisiting the man’s life. As they walk, he sees his life’s high points and low valleys and is troubled by the fact that there is only one set of footprints in the valleys. He asks the LORD why He would leave him during the most difficult times, the times he needed help the most. “No my son,” the Lord gently corrects him, “it is in the valleys that I carried you.”

That first Easter morning, more than 2000 years ago, a fresh start was set in place. The sins of the past, the present and future no longer hold us in bondage. On the Cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our sin. This Easter morning, we are reminded of His deliverance from the grip of death, the same deliverance promised to all who believe.

The LORD is Risen! He is Risen indeed!


Related Verses
Lamentations 3:22-26

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.

John 20:1-18
The Resurrection

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, "They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn't go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed–for until then they still hadn't understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. "Dear woman, why are you crying?" the angels asked her.

"Because they have taken away my Lord," she replied, "and I don't know where they have put him."
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn't recognize him. "Dear woman, why are you crying?" Jesus asked her. "Who are you looking for?"

She thought he was the gardener. "Sir," she said, "if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him."
"Mary!" Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, "Rabboni!" (which is Hebrew for "Teacher").
"Don't cling to me," Jesus said, "for I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Then she gave them his message.