Serving With A Grateful Heart

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight"
- Isaiah 42:1

There are a lot of ways to serve. We are actually doing it - in our home, at work, and in our communities. And it actually feels good to be able to give part of ourselves to others. There is one service though that we may tend to ignore, and that is to serve God. Yes, it is not an obligation. It is a choice. But why do I choose to serve Him? Because I have a lot of things to be thankful for! In spite the fact that life is not perfect, I am thankful that God has blessed me in so many ways and this is my way of giving back to the community.

KGF-VAN2017-32.jpg

I live a simple life. I don't have luxurious things but I have more than what I need and for that, I am grateful.  I've been through a lot of problems, setbacks, frustrations, struggles, challenges and trials; name it, I've experienced it. Just like you! But that doesn't stop me from recognizing God's graces and blessings. I still smile, laugh and enjoy what He has given me!

music_ministry.jpg

With God's grace, I offer my strength, talents and time because HE deserves it. After all His sacrifices and unwavering love, is time to repay Him through my good deeds, by living His Word, and serving His community. All for the glory and love of God!

Enemy of the Best

What is the enemy of the best? I suppose the answer to this question is obvious. The enemy of the best would be the worst.

In choosing between the best and the worst, your conclusion is almost certain because the selection is quite apparent. Unless you are drunk or under the influence of drugs or you have some mental lapse at the time you are making the decision or someone forced you to pick something that is against your will, you would probably end up getting the worst.

But under normal circumstances and taking out all the factors that will affect your judgement, what do you think would be your biggest challenge in choosing the best?

What is the enemy of your best choice? The enemy of your best choice will be your good choice.

Why is the good enemy of the best?

Let me give you my real-time example. (It’s funny because almost every time I write a blog, I get an instant test on the topic that I’m writing.)

As I start to write this blog, I’m here at my car dealership waiting for my salesman to assist me in completing the payment term for my car. But before talking to them, my wife and I already decided that whatever options we choose the end result should give us more savings.

One of the options they have for me is to get a new car. The offer is very tempting considering that I will be paying lower monthly payments than I use to; having a new car will give me favorable tax breaks; I don’t have to worry about the maintenance of the car for several years and last but not the least, I have the choice of getting a more fuel efficient vehicle.

After talking to my sales consultant, I found out that the savings we can have in buying a new car is almost the same when I keep my old car. I know it sounds too good to be true but I guess it’s the science of marketing and selling. It’s hard when you fall into this predicament of selecting between the good and the best because both are equally favorable.

Who would not like to pay lower payments than you used to for a new car.

It is beneficial for my business to offset the payments against my taxes.

It’s equally good to drive a maintenance free car for a couple of years.

With the gas prices going up, everyone wants to drive a fuel efficient vehicle.

All of these points are very good but is it really the best for us?

Thank God we have learned to handle our finances with a faith perspective or else we would still be deciding based on my old worldly ways. Our decision is to keep our old car and pay it off as fast as we can so we can invest more and we can give more.

This is our secret in battling the enemy of the best. We think about giving!

As Winston Churchill said, ”We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

If you want something for your own good alone, that’s probably not the best. When you live a life where you only think about of yourself, you are only living a good life.

If you want to live the best life, start giving!

It is our habit to ask for big things whenever we pray. We ask big so we can also give big. We start our prayer by saying the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer addresses our daily needs – ”Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

After asking for our daily bread, we go on and super-size our prayer!

Jesus says, ”Ask and you will receive.” (Matthew 7:7) If Jesus says that, then it’s okay to ask more than just your daily bread.

I wonder why people are stuck in praying small prayers. Is it because they are concerned to what God may think about them. Are they thinking that God will criticise them for being greedy in their prayers. Are they worried that God will think they are selfish in their prayers or their prayer is too materialistic. I’m not sure if you read my last blog when I pondered on the first miracle of Jesus by turning water into wine. It makes me ask – Jesus turns water into wine? What is more secular than that?

Let me side track from the topic for a bit. I just want to show you how crazy this miracle is. Based on historical data, it was said that there were six stone jars which the water turned into wine.

Now, if each of those jars held between 20 and 30 gallons of water, as they might well have, then Jesus gave the party 180 gallons of wine. Now, I don’t think it’s very likely that when Mother Mary worried about the lack of wine she was thinking about a shortfall of 180 gallons, that’s a Pacific Ocean of wine. I believe what the Gospel is trying to say here is that when the grace of God comes to man there is not just an adequate supply but in abundance, an overflowing of grace.

There is no need that can exhaust the grace of God!

God only wants to give the best things for us and he wants it to give in abundance. Whether we ask for our secular or spiritual needs, our Lord God only gives the best – pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

So why do you limit your prayer request with small things. The only reason I can think of as to why people ask for small things is because they think what they are asking is good enough. If this is how you pray, you are not being fair to yourself.

Think about this. If you are a teenager who has a passion for giving and helping people and your father is Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, would you ask your father in this manner – ”Dad, I plan to feed some of the people who live in the streets today. Can you give me $100 so I can buy fast food for them?”

It’s absurd, right?

You know your father is one of the richest men in the planet and he knows you have the best intentions with the money you are asking for. If you have a noble purpose, then why do you ask for a $100 when your father can give you a million dollars?

Why only do good when you can do the best?

In this example, your father is only the richest people on earth. In reality, our heavenly Father owns the universe. So why do you ask only for the good?

I can only guess why.

In my experience, asking for the best is not the easiest thing to have in the world. Knowing what is best for you is the easy part. All you need to do is to pray and the Holy Spirit will enlighten you on what is the best for you. The hard part is the journey to have the best or be the best.

This is where the fun begins. This is where you separate the boys from the men, the girls from the women.

People settle for the good because having the best and being the best have humongous challenges. There will be some sacrifices along the way but there will be more victories. There are no shortcuts in having the best but the journey in itself to have the best is amazing. There will be some people who will hate you for your guts in being the best but millions will love you more because you are the best. You will also probably create enemies along the way but through the course, you will also find great friends and amazing people.

There will be times when you get overwhelmed by the challenges in pursuing the best. But after the storm you will be thanking God that you had those challenges because you are now the best person you can be – patient, honest, kind, compassionate, humble, joyful, trustworthy, generous and loving.

If you want to be the best, do not settle for the good.

”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

God gave His son for everyone.

If you want to know the best, ask yourself this question ”Is it for me or is it for everyone?”

If its benefits you, that is good.

If it benefits everyone, that’s the best.

God is the greatest!

The Truth Will Set Us Free!

One of the most terrifying experiences for many people is telling the truth.  I did. I remember an incident when my sister and I were crossing the street near our home.  Being the reckless big brother, I did not hold her hand when I crossed the street only to realize that I left her on the other side.  (Kids, never do this to your younger sister.)

When she tried to cross the street by herself, she nearly got hit by a passenger jeep!  (I thank God nothing happened or else my life would be different today - love you sis!).

Since nothing happened, I didn't see any point of telling my mom about the incident. But I already have a suspicion that my mom will be very mad when she finds out what happened.  Until one day, one of our neighbors who saw the incident told the story to my mom and can you guess what my mom did to me?

She was thankful that nothing happened to both of us and she just told me to be more careful and never to leave my sister behind again.  (That's my mom!)

The truth really sets you free!  During the time I was keeping the incident to myself, I was filled with fear because I was scared what is going to happen to me when my mom finds out about it.  I was fearful that I may get whipped 500 times and I would not get my weekly allowance and they will not give me any food for a week and I would be forced to kneel on the floor filled with salt, pebbles, ants and scorpions for 24 hours.

By the way, that is totally an exaggeration.  As far as I can remember, the worst punishment I received from my mom is her loving embrace and tears falling from her eyes showing how much she cares even when I was doing the wrong things in life.  (Her great love was more than enough to crush me which eventually, changed me!)  My mom is a very loving and kind spirit person and I thank God for her.

It's really funny why we think of the cruelty to others even though we know they are the kindest person.  Sometimes, this is how we think of our God.  Every time we sin, we think that God is an unloving tyrant who gathers his angels to punish us whenever we make mistakes.  We should know better on how much He loves us.

Your fear should never be more powerful than the truth.

In my example, the truth is my mom loves me.  In the later example, the truth is God loves us. So why do we fear?

If you think of it, it is not the truth that frightens you.  You are frightened by what will happen after people finds out about the truth.

Just like in the case of Lance Armstrong.  For those of you who do not know Lance Armstrong, Lance is a former professional road racing cyclist. He had won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, before being disqualified from each of those races and banned from cycling for life for doping offenses. He is the founder of the Livestrong Foundation which provides support for cancer patients.

I was one of the biggest believers of Lance.  I even wrote his story of triumph over adversity in one of my blogs.

He had a heart and a dream but he did not have the conviction to be truthful to the people who believed him.

It is my belief that if he had told the truth and repented after winning his first Tour de France trophy, the people could have been more forgiving (in my case I would).

Even God changed his mind when he saw how the people of Nineveh repented for their sins.  (Read the full story in Jonah 3:1-10)

Let's face it, nobody is perfect.  I mean, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone." (John 8:7)

What made Lance Armstrong from bad to worst was he embraced his wrong doing.  He told lies in court just to prove that everyone was wrong.

This is totally different from the story that I'm about to tell you.

About three weeks back, my son sent me a text message telling me that he lost his wallet.  Although he did not mention what was inside his wallet, I was more worried about the wallet because that was our special gift to him.

On my way home, he sent me a text message asking me not to ask him what happened or get mad because he wanted to stay optimistic.  When we got home, her mom and I kept silent about the subject.  However, we did tell him that we are going to pray for the person who found his wallet that he or she would be kind enough to return it back.

The next morning, while I was in the office, I received another text message from my son saying, "Daddy!!! Someone found my wallet!!!"

Since he was in school, he asked me if I could get his wallet.  Being very happy myself in spite of my busy schedule, I left my office to meet the person and take the opportunity to personally thank him for his kindness.

I didn't know how to reward his kind gesture so I thought it would be a good idea to give him a copy of my book.  For me, no monetary equivalent is enough to recompense a good deed.  The least thing that you can do is encourage that person to do more of what he is doing.

When I entered their office, I saw this man smiling at me wearing a necklace with a cross pendant.  At that moment, I knew that this is the man.

The man greeted me and he asked if I was the "dad" and I said yes then he went to his desk to get my sons wallet.  He gave me the wallet and I shook his hands to thank him.

Although I already have a copy of my book in my pocket, I politely asked how I can reward him for his kindness.  The man smiled and said, "No that's okay."  Eventually, I pulled out a copy of my book and I gave it to him.  I signed the book and he flashed a big smile and he also thanked me and then I left.

On my way home, I got curious what's inside the wallet.  I noticed that there were coins popping out and many other things.  On the stop light, I opened the wallet and to my surprise, there was more than $200 inside the wallet.  (My son keeps more cash than me.  All I have in my wallet are plastics!)

When my son arrived home, he was very happy he got his wallet back. I told him to send a text message to the man saying he has the wallet and to thank him again.

Later that night, while watching television in our living room, my son exclaimed these words, "dad, I'm missing $100!"

I was dumbfounded on what he said so I asked him, "are you sure you have $300 in your wallet?"

I added, "The last thing you do for a person who showed kindness to you is to think bad about him."

I told my son not to judge the person because it is not moral to accuse anybody of doing something until you have proven it.

I also told him that whatever he is thinking against the man, he has to stop these thoughts.  The man returned his wallet and I think that's more than enough to stop his accusations.  And even if the man took his money, I told him that he should still be grateful that he got his wallet and most of his money back.  I told him to stop thinking about it and whoever got the money, they probably need it more than he does.

The following morning, my son called me and he said the man who found his wallet called him on his phone.  Can you guess what the man told him?

In John 8:32 it says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The man called him to confess that he took $100 in his wallet.  The man told him that if he needs it back, they can meet together to return the money.

My son thanked him for being honest and he told him that he can have the $100 because he probably needs it more than he does.

Did the man have to call my son to admit he took the money?

I am not in a liberty to answer that question but one thing is for sure, I do admire him for his courage.

As to where that courage came from, I believe that it is from the grace of God.

A good man can fall but by the grace of God, they are given the courage to face the truth, to love, to forgive, to rise up again and they are set free.

God is the greatest!

A New Year's Message from Pope Benedict XVI

As our calendars change from 2011 to 2012, people often have a sense of new beginnings. New Year’s Day is often regarded as a time to renew goals or resolve to work at changing bad habits. Sometimes, people may choose a theme for their year, to bring the future into a perspective. Catholics across Lincoln also know January 1st as a Holy Day dedicated to Mary, Mother of God and as the World Day of Peace. This year, Pope Benedict gathered all these meanings of the first of the year in a message given in Rome. His words described his own “New Year’s Resolution” for the Church throughout the world, in Lincoln and beyond.

Education of Young People

In his message, Pope Benedict urged all people to look to 2012 with an “attitude of confident trust.” While he spoke of 2011’s world-wide economic crisis, and various declines in society and culture, he appealed to people to wait with expectation for the Lord. Pope Benedict then focused his talk upon the future, upon the hopeful youth. Reminding people of the enthusiasm of young people, he addressed parents, families, educators, leaders, and the media to listen to the youth and to communicate to them a positive value of life and a desire to be of service. The Holy Father said that the “Church looks to young people with hope and confidence; she encourages them to seek truth, to defend the common good, to be open to the world around them and willing to see ‘new things’ (Is. 42:9).” The message continued with encouragement and ideas on how to encourage the education of young people in true justice, peace, and truth. “Dear young people, you are a precious gift for society…The Church wishes to offer you the most precious gift she has: the opportunity to raise your eyes to God…”

Getting ready for World Day of Peace 2012 Education of Young People in Lincoln

In the Diocese of Lincoln, Catholic education is placed as a high priority. The Mission statement of the diocese states that the School System is to “form students spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically, in partnership with parents and in harmony with the specific gifts given by God to each student.” In today’s world of education, there is growing pressure to increase the number of young people who can compete in a global society. While this may be a particular goal, the Holy Father reminded all people, including schools, to renew the priority of teaching young people the truth and to form them spiritually as well as intellectually. This year, the Catholic Schools in Lincoln will once again work to renew that call to true education. We can participate in this by showing a good example and supporting the young people in our lives, encouraging them to discover Christ in their own lives, who is the source of true justice and peace.

My Christmas Wish: May Your Love Grow More Than Your Waistline!

Thank you for being part of my life.

You’re God’s great blessing to me!

Thank you for reading my blog.

I especially thank you for joining KerygmaFamily.com and my TrulyRichClub.com (If not yet, please do so! Give yourself a great Christmas gift and join me now. Read my P.S. below.)

Here’s my prayer for you this Christmas…

Have a blessed Jesus-filled Christmas.

May your waistline not increase too much, but may your capacity to love and forgive grow by leaps and bounds.

May your family and friends laugh around the table, and eat not only delicious food but also the joy of sumptuous relationships.

May your little children experience not just new toys and new clothes but new depths of love.

Merry Christmas!

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez