Real men do cry!

Lamentations 2:11

Jerusalem’s gates collapsed to the ground; he destroyed and broke the bars of her gates. Both king and prince have gone into captivity. There is no instruction, and the prophets receive no vision from the LORD. 10  The leaders of cherished Zion sit silently on the ground; they throw dust on their heads and dress in mourning clothes. The young women of Jerusalem bow their heads in sorrow. 11  My eyes are worn out from crying, my insides are churning, My emotions pour out in grief because my people are destroyed— Children and infants faint in the streets of the city.

My entire life growing up in a Cuban household, I was told that men do not cry and to never show my emotions because it showed weakness.  This slowly built a wall around my heart and hardened it to others.  It was not until I let God in and work in my life that those walls were slowly taken away.  He told me that it was ok to cry and cast all my emotions unto Him.  In this scripture Jeremiah’s tears were full of sincerity and compassion.  This was not a sign of weakness, but of strength.  Men need to understand just because you cry or show sorrow in anyway does not mean you lack faith or strength.  There is nothing wrong with showing your emotions if you are a man and this stigma must be retracted in every household.  Jesus Christ himself showed His emotions and cried.

John 11:33-35

As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell down at his feet and told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” 33  When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was greatly troubled in spirit and deeply moved. 34  He asked, “Where have you put him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35  Jesus burst into tears.

Let’s talk a little about emotions man to man.  How do you react when you are sad or hurt?  Do you show the proper emotions or does anger come out instead as a defense mechanism?  Do you randomly feel sad and do not know why?  I know I have in my life and if I have so have others.  What helped me was when I cried out to Jesus and prayed for help with my emotions.  By letting these emotions out and casting them where they should be will help you with the burden you carry as a man.  It is ok to feel sorrow for yourself, the community, and even our nation.  This sorrow does not show lack of faith, but reminds us all to turn to the Lord in our times of weakness.  This shows true strength and commitment to the Lord.  So I say again, real men do cry.

As a father of four children, three of which are boys; I must ensure that the way I was raised to hide my emotions do not hinder them in their growth.  I teach them it’s ok to love, laugh and cry.  I do not want them to waste many years of their lives bottling up their emotions just because I did.  I pray that this message helps those men of God to not fear the emotions God gave us, but to embrace them and thank Him for them.  Whenever you have that feeling in your gut that tells you to hold it in next time, say “I am not weak.”  Never be afraid to express yourself in a godly manner.  Please have a blessed day and I pray this message helps someone today.

The sinner cannot hide

Ezekiel 9:4-6

The LORD told him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of everyone who sighs and moans over all of the loathsome things that are happening in it.” 5  As I continued to listen, he also told the others, “Follow him through the city and start killing. Don’t spare anyone you see, and don’t show pity of any kind. 6  You are to execute old men, young men, young women, little children, and women. But don’t touch anyone who has been marked. Begin at my Holy Place!” And so they started with the elders who were in standing in front of the Temple.

The first part of this lesson I want to share with everyone is when the Lord told the men to mark the people who were faithful to Him. It was determined that those who were truly sorrowed by the sin of the nation and everyone around them who were faithful to God and would to be spared by giving them a mark on their forehead.  The rest of the nation without the mark would be killed for their sins.  When reading this piece of scripture I am reminded about Exodus where the Jews had to paint over their door with blood to save themselves from the plague of death.  God puts a mark on all the faithful whether we fully understand it or not.  When the day of atonement comes, those without this special mark will be destroyed.

Revelations 7:1-3

After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on the land, on the sea, or on any tree. 2  I saw another angel coming from the east having the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been permitted to harm the land and sea, 3  “Don’t harm the land, the sea, or the trees until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.”

The second part of this lesson I want to share with everyone is the fact that the killing started at the temple. Since the spiritual leaders were teaching falsely and taking the Lord’s name in vain angered the Lord.  The very people who were supposed to bring the nation closer to God were promoting idol worship and lustful desires.  So the Lord struck the temple leaders first and worked His way out.  This should be a reminder to all of those who are placed in positions of authority that do not honor God’s will.  Whether you are a politician, a minister or even a parent at home not teaching your children about God; you will be the first held accountable.  Those in any position of authority have to live by a higher standard because they should represent God’s love.  Being hateful or leading people away from Him makes you no different from those leaders at God’s temple who were struck down first.

This lesson is not meant to scare anyone, but to ensure that you hold yourself accountable for your actions. As Christians, if you are not acting Christ-like, it will push others away from the Lord.  So please be aware of your actions and words to others.  If they are not centered in love then they are not from God and you are doing satan’s work.  I don’t know about you, but I am dedicating my entire life to doing the Lord’s work and that starts from within myself and my home and then working my way out onto the community.  I want to earn a mark on my head and it is my responsibility to ensure my wife and children do to.  This is what it means to be accountable and I wish everyone felt the same way.

Please have a blessed day and have a happy new year.  If you have fallen short of this goal I am teaching today it is ok. However, tomorrow is a new day and you can change your perspective to make this next year a godly one and kick satan and his sins and lustful desires to the curb.  God bless you all!

Use your blessings wisely

Ezekiel 7:19-20

They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be as an unclean thing; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels; because it has been the stumbling block of their iniquity. 20  As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and their detestable things therein: therefore have I made it to them as an unclean thing.a

The people Ezekiel has to minister to constantly allowed their love for money to lead them into constant sin.  Due to this constant sinning the Lord was going to destroy them for it.  Many people confuse money for power and even happiness.  Money is not evil nor the provisions the Lord provides you to take care of yourself and your family. However, the greed and temptations that come from the love of money and misuse of it is.

1 Timothy 6:9-10

But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I find it sad that many times the money and provisions that we are provided by our Heavenly Father ends up turning us away from him due to our selfish attitudes and our constant coveting of what others have that you do not.  We tend to want more money to buy more things to satisfy some sort of unresolved hurt within ourselves instead of helping ourselves and blessing others.  We face the same underlying problem now as Ezekiel did during the time of this scripture.  People need to understand the simple truth that true love and fulfillment comes from God alone and no material possession can fill that void in their lives.  

God gave the people gold and silver as provisions to take care of His people and they used it to create their false idols.  Those resources were misused and caused the people to fall further into sin.  Please learn from this situation I am teaching you from this scripture and take some time to evaluate how you spend your resources.  Are you spending wisely or are you living paycheck to paycheck trying to get by because your self control is an area of your life that you must give up to the Lord for assistance?  Make a list of all your resources and prioritize your needs from your wants and you will see how much this can help you wisely spend the resources the Lord has provided you.  Don’t fall into the false idolization of material things like the Israelites did.  

When we misuse what the Lord gives us for our own selfish desires will only lead us into sin.  This pushes us away from our Heavenly Father and we all want to be as close to Him as possible.  So please don’t abuse God’s gifts to you and think about what good you can do with those resources and your time. I pray that everyone has a blessed day and that the Holy Spirit continues to work in each of your lives. Goodnight!

Don’t be bitter about the world

Ezekiel 3:14-15

So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away; and I went in bitterness, in the anger of my spirit; and the hand of the LORD was strong on me. 15  Then I came to them of the exiles at Tel Aviv, that lived by the river Chebar, and to where they lived; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.

Have you ever tried hard to help someone that was in trouble whether spiritually or physically and after helping them they went back to doing exactly what caused them to be in that situation to begin with?  In a way, these types of situations can make us feel bitter.  I know I have felt this way before in the past and had to humble myself and realize that it is not my place to be angry and judge that person, but our Heavenly Fathers.  It was my job to continue forgiving the people and continue to help them wth their bondange while sharing God’s love with them.

I was not alone feeling this way, many other have to include Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was also upset and bitter, not from his commission from God, but the sins and the attitudes of the people he was sent to prophesy to.  The people cared little for God’s message and this angered him.  Earlier the people heard Jeremiah’s message and did not listen and now Ezekiel was dealing with the same issue.  Despite knowing that most likely the people would fail to listen to him and obey God’s word due to their disobedience, Ezekiel stayed faithful to God and obeyed Him.  He knew that God was with him just like God is with us all today.

As we grow spiritually we tend to get happy being closer to our Heavenly Father, however, many times the world, peoples constant sinning against you, and our everyday struggles is enough to overwhelm even the strongest of believers.  The lesson from this message that I want to share with you all today is to stay obedient to God even when we don’t feel like it.  Don’t let your feelings hinder you from doing God’s will and making a difference in this world. Whether it is making a change in your household, community or larger, you never know how much of an impact you are making until after you do it.  So don’t give up on situations and people you feel are hopeless, keep helping others and sharing God’s love with them and sooner or later you will get through to them.  Just remember Ezekiel as an example, if he never gave up, you shouldn’t either.  Please have a blessed day and God bless you all.

Landing on deaf ears

Ezekiel 2:3-5

“Son of Man, I’m sending you to that rebellious people, the Israelis, who have rebelled against me the same way their ancestors did. And they’re still rebels to this very day! 4  They’re stubborn and strong willed. I’m sending you to them to tell them what the LORD says. 5  Whether this rebellious group listens to you or not, at least they’ll realize that a prophet had appeared in their midst!

When reading the first verse spoken to Ezekiel shows me just how far apart we humans are from God.  God was emphasising this distance between them, yet He was using Ezekiel to work for Him.  It is funny to me how God uses such imperfect creatures to do His holy bidding.

Ezekiel was called to communicate God’s message to the people whether or not the would listen or not.  Ezekiel’s success would be based on how faithful he was to the Lord and not how many people he made listen to him when he was speaking.  Just like many prophets before him, he would be called to tell people what they needed to hear and not what they wanted.  Both Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke to the people with little positive feedback, on the contrary many wanted them dead.

When reading the scriptures, God’s truth never depends on how others respond to it, but it allowed the people to know who their true Judge was and what they were doing wrong.  This is an important lesson to learn for those in ministries.  Whether preaching a church of 500 or speaking to a friend or stranger about what God has done in your life.  Many times our words will fall on deaf ears.  Now sometimes whether you know it or not, God’s word will plant a small seed in their heart.  So never feel depressed or disheartened when you are not receiving positive feedback.  As long as you are obeying what God commanded you to do is all that matters.

By learning this simple truth and understanding people are hardheaded by nature, you will come to understand that is their sign of weakness because they do not want to admit to their sins.  You see, people want to live and enjoy their lives and have a false sense of not being held accountable for their actions and when someone steps in and tells them about their wrongdoing, more often than not you will get some sort of push back.  If God himself warned people over and over about their sins, don’t think they will just start listening to you when you speak.

So if you are feeling called out by God to do something, don’t be stubborn.  Learn from the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  Do and say the truth of God’s word and let the chips fall where they may land.  Don’t take it to heart when people pick at you or make fun or you, plan for it.  These are signs that you are doing the right thing and their anger and stubbornness is the conviction the Lord is putting in their hearts.  Naturally they will want to stop.  They may even lash out at you in anger when they should be thanking you for sharing God’s word with them.

Please remember this small lesson and understand that our reward comes from serving God and not how much popularity we have with the crowds.  Your final review will come from our Heavenly Father and not man.  Please have a blessed day and remember Matthew 25:31-40.

Matthew 25:31-40

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32  All the nations will be assembled in front of him, and he will cull them out, one from another, like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. 33  He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left. 34  “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, 35  because I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. 36  I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 37  “Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38  When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or see you naked and clothe you? 39  When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ 40  The king will answer them, ‘I tell all of you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

Emergency Services Chaplaincy 

Two days ago I recieved the good news of my final approval for my Emergency Services Chaplain Certification.  After January 1st I will be looking for volunteer opportunities at police/sheriff departments, fire departments,  and EMS. If anyone knows of where there is a need for help please let me know. God bless you all.

Don’t follow the crowds

Jeremiah 14:14-15

Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I did not send them, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke I to them: they prophesy to you a lying vision, and divination, and a thing of nothing, and the deceit of their own heart. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name, and I did not send them, yet they say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land:’ ‘By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.’

Why do people listen to false prophets?  This is a question I have asked myself over and over again.  It was not just a problem in the old and new testaments, but it is a continuing issue today.  There is only one answer I can come up with for this question and that is that these “false prophets” teach and say what others want to hear.  Many times false teachers get fame and riches for their silver tongues.  They may even be seen as wise, however, they lead people away from God.  By encouraging these false teachers and supporting them, we are just as guilty as they are. Now what does the Lord say in His word about false teachers?

Matthew 7:15

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.

The bible warns us about false teachers because we are easily fooled.  I say this because in Jeremiah’s time the people were even plotting to kill him for telling them what God commanded to tell him.  If Jeremiah would have just told the people what they wanted to hear like the other false prophets he would have been celebrated.  By standing up for God’s word and obeying our Lord no matter what took real courage.  One should also see the character of the people teaching.  Are they honest, humble and loving or are they hiding behind a mask?  what does the bible teach about spotting a flase prophet?

1 John 4:1-6

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit who does not confess a Jesus is not of God; and this is that of the antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already. 4  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. 5  They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. 6  We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

When spotting a false prophet or “anti-christ,”  a believer must be sure that the Spirit of God is in them.  God warns us to not be fooled by every spirit.  A false teacher will not confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.  Those who deny this is not with the Spirit of God and are false teachers.  John also teaches that love’s origin is God. Everyone with true love is born of God (1John 4:7-8).  Since God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only son for our sins, we should truly love one another. This love is evidence that the Holy Spirit is living in you.  

Another way to test a false teacher is the accuracy of his words.  The bible commands us to study God’s word and if we fail to do this basic thing we cannot truly know if what someone is teaching you is truth or not.  Whether you are hearing a sermon or reading a bible study, look up the scriptures and read them for yourselves and research it. Pray for the Lord to give you wisdom to understand the scripture.  Then find out who wrote it, the purpose of that particular scripture, the intended audience, and the major themes.  This will allow you to grasp the full context of that particular scripture.

The simple lesson I am trying to communicate is to evaluate your teachers.  I am not trying to undermine them, but people make mistakes and I know if I do, many more do as well.  So when someone is trying to teach you something think about these simple questions. Are they spirit filled? Do they confess the truth about our lord and savior Jesus Christ? Are their lives full of God’s grace? Are they teaching biblical truths or are they just saying their opinions?  If any of these responses set off an alarm, evaluate those teachings.  The bible is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and by studying it we can grow spiritually and help others like we are all called to do.  By understanding this simple truth we should want to test every spirit.  Please don’t follow the crowds and fall into the trap of false teachings or religious people who only teach partial truths.

Please have a blessed day!