Javier Estrada

“Javier Estrada” – If you’re like me, that name doesn’t mean much to you. However, to the person whose desk I’m sitting at, his name means a lot to him. It’s recognition of who they are, where they came from, and what family they belong to.

Unfortunately, there is good and bad junk that goes along with all names. For example, the name:

George Washington….

Good: Unanimously elected as the first President of the United States due to his outstanding character
Bad: Raised tobacco and owned a distillery (may have even cut down a cherry tree)

Paul Harvey…

Good: Informed America about national security issues and other peculiar events
Bad: Illegally entered a nuclear test facility near Chicago in 1951

Jesus Christ…

Good: Gave His life so that all who love Him may have eternal life
Bad: Will judge everyone for their sins

Well, here is the rest of the story:

Despite the bad junk that goes with Jesus, He has given us an out. All we have to do is confess Him as Lord and Savior and the “bad” is wiped clean. Our sins are forgiven when we accept the gift He has given us.

When you accept Jesus Christ as Savior, you become part of His (God’s) family, acknowledged by His name, and where He comes from (Heaven).

Back in the day…

As I get older, I find myself using that awful phrase that I hated when I grew up: “back in the day.”

Back in the day, my parents walked 3 miles to school in 5 feet of snow, uphill, both ways. I think they told me that in order to build character, and to realize that I have it much easier than they did. In reality, it’s always a bunch of lies (with some truth added in). Like the day that your dad caught that fish that was so big! In reality, it was probably under the length limit to even keep – I bet he threw it back!

Anyway, I want to tell you a story from “back in the day.”

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:6-7 NKJV

If we continue reading, we find out that despite the poor conditions that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had to endure during His birth, God was with them.

I find that today’s culture is so overwhelmed with luxuries that we forget that we don’t really need anything, but God.

We look to comfort, we look to food, we look to entertainment, all as a means to find enjoyment in life. Just recently I found enjoyment in God’s playground when I visited Caesars Head NC. The beauty of nature, the calmness of the forest, the rushing of the waterfalls – it all provided a sense of peace that only God can provide.

Back in the day, we didn’t have video games, we didn’t have 10 speed bikes, we didn’t even have color TV, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. We had our family.

God wants you to be part of His family and enjoy not only this life, but life eternal.

Come to know Him now <click here>!

Romans 8

During my first year in Seminary, we memorized Romans 8. Although I can’t recite it today, one of my favorite passages is from that chapter:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)

The Scripture continues:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Some of us go through great tribulations in this life. Others are blessed. But despite any of that, the two things that hold true from the passages above that keep me strong:

1) We are children of God and will inherit what He has prepared for us
2) No matter what we are going through, it’s not even comparable to the blessings that are to be during our eternal life.

Prophecy

“And the Word of the Lord came to me….”

Throughout the prophets in the Old Testament, we find those words. The Lord spoke to man through specially appointed people we call prophets. Sometimes I wish I was one of them.

Wouldn’t it be cool to hear from the Lord? Knowing what we should do at all times. Knowing the future, and having the opportunity to help others do the right thing?

Then I really considered it. If I was a prophet, I would have the challenge to not just tell God’s Word, but to influence others, a feat that truly is not that easy.

After all, look at all the great prophets in the Bible, when they went to their leaders, it seems the rulers rarely obeyed. And what happened?

Generally, their nation or empire fell, and then at times the prophet was scorned because of his foreknowledge.

Then, I considered it again. Aren’t we all prophets in a way? It’s true that in old days the Lord spoke through prophets, but today (because of Jesus), we can have a direct relationship with God. Jesus broke down barriers so that now we can hear from God.

Maybe we don’t hear audibly. Maybe we don’t see signs. But if you really stop to think about it, isn’t God really working through others to help us?

Need advice on life and job decisions? Have you asked your spouse? Have you asked your Christian co-workers for advice? Have you ever considered that your Pastor, your friend, and other Christians that know God may be speaking on behalf of God without knowing it?

It seems that as I go through life I realize that “the Word of the Lord” comes to me in a variety of methods. I just have to be attentive to realize when it’s Him and not satan.

After-life

I’m not a fan of fundraising, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them or support them.

As the month of April comes in, it’s that time of the year again for His Radio (the local Christian radio station) to have their annual “friend-raiser” where they try to gain enough commitments from the listeners to continue support over the next year. For the last two years in Greenville, I have supported them, although somewhat less sacrificially than others….

Today as I was driving back to work at lunch, they continued to talk about giving your “best gift.” For one family who recently had been through many trials they struggled to give! In addition to losing his job, the husband had recently overcome a long stretch of running from God.

But now…, the family was re-building, and decided they wanted to support His Radio. En route to the electrical department to negotiate with the management to not cut off their power, they came by His Radio personally. Then, they gave their best gift, two dollars, that they managed to not spend, and despite not paying their electric bill in full, they gave to support Christian music.

I’m not sure about you, but that’s quite convicting! Did I really give my “best” gift?

Some might say “it’s just music!” Is that really the best way to support the ministry of God? Fine, then I pose the question: are you giving your best gift to God in church, out of church, and at all other times?

And I’m not just talking about money. Are you actively participating in spreading the Gospel through serving at a local church or ministry opportunity?

Maybe more importantly, have you given God your life to do as He pleases? After all, that is your best gift. Don’t just give God your after-life, give Him your current life.

Be still and know…

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Normally this verse is used when someone is struggling and needs to rely on God’s strength or refuge. However, I propose that it’s also good just to stop every once in a while and realize that movement is not necessary every day of our life. Not physical movement, but “activity” movement.

Sometimes we can get caught up in doing things for God, and yet there may be times that God just wants us to “sit this one out.”

Personally, I have been seeking God’s plan for my life since I moved to Greenville. From Supply Preaching to Awana Director, Interim Pastor to possible Trail Life Chaplain, I have been seeking evidence from God on which direction He wants me to direct my efforts. However, in this case, it may be that God is still asking me to be still…. You see, even though I’ve prayed, I haven’t gotten the answer I have been seeking. Or have I?

Last weekend, my family and I attended “Living Gallery” at Bob Jones University. If you don’t know what it is, it’s an artistic drama and live art re-creation of the events surrounding Easter. Involving more than a dozen famous paintings and sculptures, the Christian scenes come alive (or I should say “stand still”) as the human performers replace key figures in the art. If you missed this Easter’s performance, you’ll have a chance to watch as BJU presents Living Gallery again on December 3rd-5th.

Has God answered my prayer and is trying to tell me “sit still” like the artists? Maybe He’s answered me, and I’m just not listening? Or has God just not answered me yet? What do you think?

If I may know nothing else, I sure can “Be still and know that He is God!”