Facing the Storms of Life

It will come to no surprise to you to hear that all of us face storms in our lives.  Sometimes the storms are mild – they come unexpectedly, but pass quickly and without incident.  Sometimes the storms are fierce, and seem like they will never end.  And we find everything in between.  The point, however, is that we all face storms; but in all of them, we can choose how we will respond.  Let’s look together at three storms in the Bible, and see what we can learn from them.

Our first storm is found in the book of Jonah.  You may know the story.  God called Jonah and sent him to preach in Nineveh.  Jonah, the reluctant prophet, chose to run away – so much so, that he boarded a ship sailing in the opposite direction!  Then came the storm.  The Bible tells us that the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god.  They threw the cargo overboard.  And then they cast lots to see who was responsible for the storm.  When the lot fell on Jonah, they cast him overboard and the storm subsided.

We hear of another storm in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 8).  On this occasion, Jesus and His disciples were all in the boat.  Jesus had gone to sleep.  Then “there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves.”  The disciples called on Jesus.  He rose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Contrast these two stories.  In both cases there was a storm.  In both cases they were on a boat.  But that’s where the similarities end.  Notice how the people on the boat responded to the storm.

In Jonah’s case, the sailors chose to play the “blame game.”  Who is at fault?  Let’s find out who is responsible, and once we find him, everything is going to be OK.  In the midst of doing this, they lost their cargo, and they lost Jonah.  Yes, the storm died down – but at great cost.

In Matthew’s account, the disciples called on Jesus.  They did not waste time wondering why the storm had arisen, nor whose fault it may be.  The storm was raging, but they knew the One who had the power to save them.  So they called on Him; and He calmed the storm.

And then… we read of yet another storm in the book of Acts (chapter 27).  The apostle Paul was being taken to Rome, as a prisoner, on a merchant ship.  For two weeks the ship was buffeted by the winds and the waves.  But Paul encouraged them: “I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”  Paul heard from God; and had the confidence that it would be as God had said.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  The question is not whether you will ever face a storm; but rather, what will you do when the storms of life come your way?  You can be like the sailors in Jonah’s boat, going about looking for someone to blame, and pointing fingers at those “responsible” for your misery.  A better approach is to be like the disciples, calling on the One who can still the storm.  And better yet, you can live in the sweet confidence that no matter what storms you face, God’s purpose will be fulfilled in your life.  When you are facing a storm, listen to the Holy Spirit; then declare with boldness what God has spoken to you.  Take heart.  He who is with you and for you will not let you down.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   |    Al rights Reserved 2015

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Un Llamado a Cooperar con Dios

Durante esta semana en Bogotá estamos compartiendo acerca de los dones del Espíritu Santo. Ayer comenzamos la serie estableciendo unos fundamentos básicos para la operación sana de los dones del Espíritu. Primero, debemos entender que la naturaleza de Dios es amor y compasión infinita, que está siendo derramada continuamente. Cuando Dios ve el quebrantamiento que hay en el mundo, ¡Su compasión lo mueve a hacer algo! No es solamente que Dios puede sanar, restaurar, liberar, sino que está dispuesto a hacerlo. Es más, le place hacerlo. Su compasión es tal que está siempre dando de sí mismo para redimir todo lo que ha sido dañado por el pecado.

Cuando Dios da un don, lo envuelve en una persona. Cuando nos quiso dar salvación, lo hizo a través de Su Hijo: Jesucristo. Cuando quiere dar dones, lo hace a través de Sus hijos (e hijas). Tenemos el privilegio de ser instrumentos de la compasión de Dios por donde quiera que vayamos. ¡Esa es la vida abundante!

Dios nos llama a cooperar con Él para llevar a cabo Su obra. Y este llamado no es una carga para nosotros, sino que a través de Jesús nos ha dado el Espíritu Santo que mora en nosotros, y por medio del Espíritu nos ha dado todo lo que necesitamos para realizar la tarea.

Jesús nos dice, “Pero cuando venga el Espíritu de la verdad, él los guiará a toda la verdad, porque no hablará por su propia cuenta sino que dirá sólo lo que oiga y les anunciará las cosas por venir. Él me glorificará porque tomará de lo mío y se lo dará a conocer a ustedes. Todo cuanto tiene el Padre es mío. Por eso les dije que el Espíritu tomará de lo mío y se lo dará a conocer a ustedes” (Juan 16:13-15).

En 1 Crónicas 28:10-21 vemos un ejemplo concreto en la vida de David (rey de Israel) y su hijo Salomón (llamado a continuar la obra de su padre y edificar el templo). En ese pasaje vemos:

* David le da instrucciones a Salomón y lo anima a poner manos a la obra

* David le entrega a Salomón el diseño de todos los detalles del templo

* David le da a Salomón instrucciones en cuanto a todos los servicios del templo

* David le da abundantes recursos – oro y plata – para la fabricación de todos los utensilios y artículos del templo

* David le da el diseño de la carroza y de los querubines que cubren con sus alas extendidas el arca del pacto del Señor.

* David le recuerda a Salomón que Dios estará con él hasta que haya terminado toda la obra.

* Además, David le recuerda que los expertos en toda clase de trabajos, los jefes y todo el pueblo están a su disposición.

¿Qué vemos aquí? El padre llama al hijo y le encomienda una tarea. Pero no solo se la encomienda, sino que le da los planos, y los recursos, y los materiales, y los trabajadores… Él mismo hace todo lo que es necesario para que su hijo sea exitoso en la tarea que le ha encomendado.

Ahora lee una vez más Juan 16:13-15, ” Pero cuando venga el Espíritu de la verdad, él los guiará a toda la verdad, porque no hablará por su propia cuenta sino que dirá sólo lo que oiga y les anunciará las cosas por venir. Él me glorificará porque tomará de lo mío y se lo dará a conocer a ustedes. Todo cuanto tiene el Padre es mío. Por eso les dije que el Espíritu tomará de lo mío y se lo dará a conocer a ustedes”

¿Ves el paralelo? Dios, nuestro Padre, no solamente te llama a participar con Él en Su obra; sino que junto con el llamado te da los planos, los materiales, los recursos, y el Ayudador para que seas exitoso en esa obra.

El mundo necesita personas como tú, que estén dispuestas a repartir el amor y la compasión de Dios. ¿Quieres responder al llamado de Dios? ¡No tienes nada que temer! Dios mismo te ha dado todo lo que necesitas para llevarlo a cabo. Invítalo a llenarte. Deja que Su amor sobreabundante fluya a través tuyo a través de los dones del Espíritu.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood   | Todos los derechos reservados

The Missing Side of “Inside Out”

The recently released animated movie, “Inside Out” is being widely acclaimed as “inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving.”  I concur.  I took my niece to watch the movie (my excuse for watching children’s movies), and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I am fascinated by brain function, and the animators of Disney/Pixar studios did a wonderful job showing how five primary emotions (joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger) function and interact, affecting our memories and, ultimately, our behavior.  From a non-scientist’s perspective, I enjoyed a glimpse into the fascinating world of the human brain.

However, taken at face value, the movie would lead us to believe that we are primarily emotional beings, and that our lives are directed by our emotions.

So, I wonder… How can a man like Paul, who was beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, abandoned, betrayed, robbed, persecuted and incarcerated, write from a cell in Philippi and say, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (4:11)?  He teaches this young church to “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4).  How can James say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (1:2)?  How can Peter call a persecuted church to “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:13)?

You have to be out of your mind to live this way!

Precisely!

Out of your mind!

The grand news is that it is possible to live beyond our emotions.

Don’t take me wrong; I appreciate the overall message of the movie that encourages me to appreciate and value a wide range of emotions.  I’m not advocating for stoicism, for I know how damaging the suppression of emotions can be.  But I am saying that, as a Christian, there is another side to the story.

You see, we are not primarily emotional beings.  Neither are we primarily rational beings.  Both emotions and intellect, along with human will, are part of the human mind.  But we are not primarily a mind.  The Bible declares that, made in the image of God, we are three-part beings: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thess. 5:23).  We are primarily spiritual beings, made to relate to our Creator.  We are perfectly designed to dwell in two realities at once: the spiritual reality where we commune with God, and the physical reality where we interact with one another in the context of a material world.

According to neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, the human soul (or mind), comprised of intellect, will and emotions, is the bridge between the spiritual and the physical.  She says that “The Mind and was created to be controlled by the Spirit of Man. The Mind is supposed to control the Body and therefore the Physical Realm. Any aberration in the hierarchy of the Spirit, Soul and Body of Man is a reflection of a fallen state and is not the original intent of God.”

We are designed to be governed by the Holy Spirit in our spirit; then for our spirit to govern our mind, and ultimately, our body.  But when Adam and Eve sinned, our human spirits died.  We were left to navigate life with only our soul and body.  So we buy into the idea that the goal of life is learning how to us our intellect, will and emotions to dictate the rest.

The good news is that God has a remedy for that!  When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are born again.  His Spirit gives new life to our human spirit.  We can see this clearly in John 20:22, where Jesus, after His resurrection, breathes on His disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  With the indwelling Holy Spirit, our spirit is made alive again, and the hierarchy can be made right again.

We still have a choice.  God has given us free will, so we can choose whether we will be governed by our body, our soul, or the Holy Spirit through our human spirit.  Paul says it clearly in Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”  The whole of Romans 8 is about life in the Spirit as the way to live the fulfilled life, as God intended it.

So, I join Paul in saying, “Walk by the Spirit,” and not by your emotions (as valuable as they are).  This is the missing side of “Inside Out.”


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood  2015  | All Rights Reserved

Independence Day

Recently we celebrated Independence Day. And what a wonderful reminder of this great nation that we call “home” – a nation that stands for liberty and justice for all. I wonder, however, if we have taken the independence theme beyond what our Founding Fathers intended. Let me explain. Surely we celebrate independence from a tyrant nation; but some have taken it as total independence, from everything and everyone. We celebrate individualism, individual rights, and individual pursuit. And yet the very foundation of our country declares “In God We Trust.”

This is not a declaration of independence, but of dependence on the One who gives us life and true freedom. It is a declaration of willing submission to the God whose blessing we have enjoyed for centuries. It is a declaration that recognizes that we are only truly successful when we willingly align ourselves with God’s will.

And there is another aspect of independence of which we must be mindful. God didn’t create us to live as isolated individuals. He created us in His image. Just as God has His being in relationship – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in interdependence and mutual submission, we are only fully persons when we live in relationship with one another. God’s glory is seen in our lives when we reflect His image – loving Him, and loving our neighbors. We need one another. It is no wonder that Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind;” and the second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The fulfillment of the Law is found in these two (Matt. 22:37-40). So, let’s celebrate our nation’s independence with a firm declaration of our dependence on God and our interdependence with one another.


Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood  2015  | All Rights Reserved