Posted in Inspirational, Living a Life

I Think We Are Not Supposed to Die Alone

6am, May 30, 2014.

I think we are not supposed to die alone.

Sometime between 1am and 5am this morning, our little budgie, the one with a broken leg, the one whom the others were picking on, the one we tried to save by separating her from the healthy ones, our little budgie died.

We were going to take her to the bird doctor tomorrow—even made an appointment last night—but it was too late.

Lester's Dear Budgies
Lester’s Dear Budgies

I had a feeling she was not going to last the night. So I asked her, before I went to bed, to hold on just until we could get her to the doctor; but I also said, not to hang on just on our account. And she left. Perhaps, the injury was too much to bear. They say that birds have a way of keeping the appearance of being well; and so when they look unwell, that means they really are unwell and past “saving.”

And last night, she looked unwell. Call it instinct for self-preservation—this hiding one’s “injury;” this keeping suffering from others. And it makes sense—the law of the jungle is, “the fittest live”—so one must not show injury. One must keep suffering to one’s self.

From my point of view, human as it is, keeping one’s suffering from others is a marker of thoughtfulness—an expression of consideration for the other. But, I won’t turn it into a normative expectation.

Human community should be free and open enough to share both joy and sorrow, blessing and curse. Community and loneliness.

No one should be forced to die alone. No one must live in loneliness.

I made the choice of intervening when I saw our other budgies “bullying” the injured one. I thought my separating her from the others was a way of protecting her. Maybe that was right, maybe that was wrong.

I am not a bird expert. But, one thing I noticed, even though I kept her in a cage close to the others, separated only by the bars of the cage—so they could still hear each other, see each other. I noticed the others kept “looking” for her, kept in proximity of her.

And, I noticed, too, that last night, our injured one was trying to “re-join” the others. And when I opened her cage to feed her and to make things comfortable for her, she did not move away from my hand, she even allowed herself to be touched.

Maybe she was just too injured to move away. But then again, maybe, as a social species (budgies are supposed to be that), that is their “instinct”: to be with others even to the very last. And maybe, the “bullying” behavior was not intended to harm, but was an expression of “community” between them, even an attempt to care for the injured one.

And if so, I made a huge, terrible mistake. I took her away from her companions—and I probably should have not done that. It seems that her last acts of life were to rejoin her group. And interestingly, when I came down this morning, instead of being greeted by the noisy cackling and chirping of our budgies, there was silence. I think the others knew one of them was gone.

No one should die alone—or be forced to die alone. No one. Not even our injured budgie.

I will never know whether I did the right thing or not. But that is neither here nor there. The fact is, our injured budgie left us last night. And she did so quietly in the night, without making too many demands on us or on her companions. And this is her gift to our frail, oftentimes arrogant and self-centered human sensibilities.

We need to learn—I need to learn—to live in ways like our little, injured budgie.

Lester Edwin J. Ruiz

About Dr. Lester Edwin J. Ruiz

Lester was a faculty member of New York Theological Seminary in New York City beginning in 1997, where he was professor of theology and culture.

He became vice president for academic affairs and academic dean in 2006. As associate professor of political science at International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, he taught courses in peace and world order studies, international relations, and politics and culture.

A graduate in pastoral care and counseling from Ottawa University (Kansas), he holds the Master of Divinity with an emphasis on religion and society and the PhD in social ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is ordained in the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.

Ruiz is co-editor of four published works, including Re-Framing the International: Law, Culture, Politics, with Richard Falk and R.B.J. Walker. He has contributed numerous chapters to books and has been widely published in journals and other periodicals.

Active in social media, like Facebook, Lester shares his ideas and reflections on a variety of topics. We have taken the opportunity and permission to share his thoughts on the death of his pet he blogged on Facebook. Thank you Lester.

– From Worry To Glory

PHOTO CREDIT: Lester Edwin J. Ruiz; Association of Theological Schools; Joven Baloyo (Featured Image)

Posted in Discipleship, Hope, Inspirational

Insights for Contentment

Here is a suggestion for consideration on how to gain a balanced perspective on life, one that brings inner contentment. Without integrating these insights, life will be frustratingly like a rocking chair that keeps one moving but leading nowhere.

  1. Happiness comes from within.  It does not depend upon what happens outside. If you cannot be happy with who you are inside, no amount of external items can give you inner joy. Here is the news: The promises of advertised products by the media are just that – promises. They are undeliverable.
  2. How things happened cannot be changed.  Many people spend inordinate amount of time wishing things should have happened differently in the past. “If Only” is the title of their daily song. This is waste of precious energy. The wish to make things happen differently will not be granted. Things happened the way they did. The fact needs to be accepted for one to move on.
  3. Love for others stems from love of self.  Altruism is like a piece of cake – you cannot share with someone what you do not have. This love is not romantic. It is a result of hard look at self with all strengths and weaknesses and celebrating the whole package.
  4. To seek outside help is not weakness.  If people decide to seek help when problems are just developing they would have prevented themselves and those who are close to them from needless suffering. It takes enormous amount of courage to ask for help. And it takes strength to summon that courage.
  5. Mistakes are unavoidable.  It is not a question of “Will I make mistakes?” It is a question of “How do I learn from mistakes I will be making?” The idea of potentially making mistakes frees one from the lure of perfectionism and the need to do it right all the time, everywhere.
  6. Maintain balance between solitude and community.  Both are needed in life. To be alone all the time can foster acute loneliness. To be in community all the time may result to burn-out. We need to be part of a greater whole but we also need to isolate our slice from the bigger pie. The former promotes validation while the latter could lead to quietness and inner peace.
  7. Release that which is beyond control.  It will be a happy day when someone learns to release that which is beyond his power to amend. What do you do with the traffic, weather, what others say or think, your family of origin, your personal appearance, or past experiences could determine to a large degree your journey to the land called “bliss.”
  8. Welcome the opportunity to share. Life is not just about the “me.” Those who have learned the value of sacrifice for others can teach us a lesson or two about life’s meaning. The intent of experiencing prosperity is not to make one better off than others. It is to provide golden opportunity to share to meet the needs of others. Failure to participate in this endeavor could stand as major block to real satisfaction.
  9. Advocate for truth with courage.  There is an urgent need for this advocacy in society today. Lies and deceit seem to abound. Many will take the route of falsehood just to reach personal goals. In the end falsehood breeds pretense which breeds hypocrisy. A noble young person would not like to model his life from that of a hypocrite! And a house will not stand whose foundation is pretense.
  10. Learn to learn from unpleasant events.  This often calls for rigor in thinking. The difference between a contended individual from one who wallows in discontent is not in the amount of painful events for all are exposed to both pleasant sunshine and stormy rain. It is what these two groups think about these events. The former looks at them as cup half- full while the latter as cup half-empty.
  11. Life is both body and spirit.  It is well-documented that failure to take care of the body through nutrition and physical exercise results to either diseases of excess or of inadequacies. Failure to care for the spirit is responsible for the spiritual hunger and thirst which is at the very core of the manic pursuit of its twofold substitute: materialism and addiction. The nurture must not be done to one without the other. Nurture of the body alone will yield good appearance but shallow. Nurture of spirit alone results to religious rigidity that lacks attractiveness to observers.

Val Gonzales

About Dr. Val Gonzales

Val Gonzales (PhD, LCDC, LPC) serves as Senior Minister of Dallas Metroplex International Church in Dallas, Texas and does adjunct teaching at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.

Originally trained in pastoral counseling, his work experience includes hospital-based program coordinator in psychiatry clinical research, program therapist with emphasis on individual/group counseling and family education, and triage manager for managed care. He has been active in higher education for more than 23 years.

Dr. Gonzales is an active member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors and the American Counseling Association. He is married to Chelly Molinos Gonzales and they have 2 children: Philippe Eirenaues and Tina Rachel.

Posted in Inspirational

You Are Called To Persevere

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(1 Peter 5:10)

Have you been in a situation where after you finally decided to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, surrendering your life and receiving Him in faith as Lord and Saviour, you suddenly faced tremendous trials?

I know of many who after gaining their new-found faith faced trials in many forms. They experienced rejection from family and friends. Some suffered financial losses, lost a job, relationship conflicts, sickness or even death of loved ones.

Suffering for your Christian faith happens in every situation and location

It’s understandable and expected that a Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim who becomes a Christian will certainly suffer persecution, oftentimes severely. I read and learn about the persecuted church through Open Doors.

How about when you are living in a nominal Christian family and community and then you discovered Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life?

For sure you will suffer from isolation, not primarily because the nominal Christian environment you are in will reject you. Your renewed relationship with Christ will lead you to thirst for more knowledge of your Saviour.

As a true disciple of Jesus Christ your focus now is how to strengthen that relationship. Eventually, you will find yourself avoiding the people and environment that would take you back to your former nominal Christian living.

Would you believe that your most painful persecution could come from within the Christian community or environment?

It’s when you thought that the Christians around you would stand for what is right and just and you found yourself all alone making a stand.

Worst, the Christian leaders whom you expected to take the lead have become accessories to the wiles of the unjust.

The scorn and insult would become inevitable when after you have settled in your heart that you will trust Jesus Christ alone, follow Him in baptism, and commit your life, your family to serve Him each day, something untoward happened unexpectedly.

Perseverance in faith brings freedom, happiness and joy

When you are facing debilitating trials, read and remember the story of Job. Despite suffering from severe trials, he remained steadfast in faith. Read how Job persevered and gained God’s restoration.

Yes, Christians are called to persevere, especially when our faith is under trial.

Keep holding on to your faith no matter what happens. When you persevere, you will witness God’s amazing power sustaining your life along the way. Then when you have overcome, you will find peace and happiness that you have never experienced before.

Starting your new life in Jesus Christ could place you in lots of challenges but persevering in your new found faith means a life of freedom and victory.

Just come to Him in prayer. Hold on to Jesus, He’s always there. Trust His word, He loves you always now.

Are you going through tough times today? May this post strengthen your faith in Christ.

Encourage someone by sharing this post to your friends.  Just Click on the “Share” button below. Thank you.

Posted in Inspirational

Let Us Go to the Lofty Place Now

From Worry To Glory
Cool Summer Sea Breeze by Joven Baloyo
If there is any place I want to be forever, I want to be in the Lofty Place

While lofty place is a common phrase, I first used it when I wrote the song, “Summer Wind“.

When you want to escape the searing heat and glare of summer the best place to go is somewhere up the mountains where the view is calm and the breeze is cool.

Or perhaps go to a pristine island and just enjoy the serenity of the beach in sunrise or sunset setting.

One can’t help but think about the “loft” of the house, which refers to the floor directly under the roof. Some call it attic.

Loft reminds me of the place where Clark Kent, the main character in the TV series Smallville, stays. He stays in the hayloft of the barn.

Lofty place as used in the song “Summer Wind” points to higher ground where one could find solace and safety.

It is a hideaway, a place of solitude, love, peace and harmony.

It is a place of friendship, where people are faithful and true. The lofty place is where ambitions and ideals are realized. It is a place of consistency, where justice rules and hope abounds.

If the Lofty Place exists, where can one find it?

Yes, the “Lofty Place” exists and you can find it in God.

You can find it by entering the small gate and taking the narrow road, the path that is hard and long, where only a few finds it but it surely leads to life. (Matthew 7:13-14).

Try to look around and you can see that there is so much pain, hunger, poverty, and hatred among the peoples of the world. Wars quell wars and it is being fought both through the military and economic fronts.

There is so much decadence of values and it looks like those who make a stand are ridiculed and isolated.

The reign of hypocrisy and triumph of dishonesty even in the church and religious institutions are so perplexing and de-motivating.

Is it not comforting to know that amidst all these situations there is one and only one place where you can go and be free from the world’s confinements? The place is at the Lofty Place.

Obviously now, the Lofty Place is the dwelling place of God, where you can live in peace infinitely.

It is where you can do your best and do your fullest potential, not for the praise of men but for the glory of God. Most of all, it is a place where true friends live.

Come, let us go to the Lofty Place and find the best motivation and inspiration to live life to its fullest

Hey, don’t get me wrong. This is not death’s premonition nor you need to die a physical death to reach the Lofty Place.

I remember Paul’s exhortation, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Let us go to the Lofty Place now… the Spirit of God shall take us there.