Thursday, August 27, 2009


My camera served as a ticket to see something special. Beyond the photographic image captured, something beautiful was made visible as I took pictures.
Last Sunday everyone might have noticed that I was going around taking pictures of the ladies. Husbands were surprised that they were asked to distance themselves from their spouses for a little bit. The pictures were intended to be posted on Facebook, The Cornerstone Woman page in particular. The photographs were very satisfactory and served the purpose. The quality of pictures came out different depending on height of the person, physical background, light intensity and direction. Thanks to a 12-mega-pixel camera and an automatic setting. They were all beautiful!
Reviewing the different pictures one by one, I began to remember how each person responded when their picture was about to be taken. The responses were diverse. They were appropriate, and yet uniquely different. By taking a close-up shot of each of them I got to see something beyond the way they look. Going to church Sunday after Sunday does not necessarily give me the opportunity to know these ladies. It is when I deliberately approach someone and show interest that I get to understand the real picture of any individual.
I wonder what others read of my personality every time I smile, frown, turn my head away, or ignore someone. Whatever it is, anyone is entitled to it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Prodigal Son & His Brother

The Prodigal Son... The Lost Son. It's been told many a times. The story in Luke 15:11-32 has been stamped in my brain, that I could tell the story even in my sleep. It's a story of a prodigal son and a forgiving father. The lost son who returned to his father's house.
When you hear the word prodigal, what comes to your mind? For a long
time I've always thought that it means lost or sinful. No one ever told me the meaning of this word nor did I bother to look it up. In fact it means extravagant, or recklessly spendthrift.
The Sinful (Younger Brother)
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living."

Indeed the younger son in our story was prodigal. After acquiring his part of his fathers' property in a premature manner, he lived in extravagance. He recklessly spent all he had until he literally had nothing and eventually found himself in a pigsty. There he remembers the quality of life at his father's house. His heart is suddenly full of regrets. He longs to go back, decides on it, and rehearses his lines to tell his father. The story of this younger son is often paralleled with the sinner who repents and starts a life that pleases God.

"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Luke 15:10

The Father's Love
He looks out and from a distance he sees this dirty, hungry, staggering person approach the gate. He recognized him right away as if he has always waited for this time. His heart leaped for joy. Everything changed, the sadness that was in his heart when this son left is now totally replaced with pure joy and rejoicing.

"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate."

The father forgives his son for everything that he has done. At this point, it does not matter anymore that this son disrespected him by asking for his inheritance while his father is still alive, that this son reduced the family assets in half by reckless spending, that this son shamed and humiliated his father by having been involved in all sorts of immorality. To the father. it does not matter anymore what he did. The father knows that his son's heart is changed. There is only one thing that matters now: he loves his son. The father did not stop loving his son even when he was gone. He forgave his son because he loved him. This story is always paralleled with the love and forgiveness of God.

The Good (Elder Brother) In reading "Prodigal God", by Timothy Keller, I came to understand something I have not even thought of before: The elder brother did not love his father as I had originally thought. In his book, Keller underscores the life of the older brother and his attitude. The older brother always lived with his father and did exactly what was expected of him. He was obedient and lived a moral life. He was the perfect picture of a good kid an "insider" at his father's compound. He "knows" he is better than his younger brother. Then his brother comes back...

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'"

The truth came out. He lived an obedient life for himself not to please his father. He knew that after his brother left he will inherit everything that his father owned but now his brother came back. His inheritance has just been reduced by fifty percent. He was very angry, he questioned his fathers judgement, his purpose came out (to earn what his father had). He lived his life to gain what his father has. Now it does not look like things are happening according to his plans. To him this is completely wrong.

Sometimes I see myself acting like the elder brother. I try to live righteously, get myself involved in ministry, being kind to others to earn his blessings. I obey God because I am afraid that He might withhold those good things from me. How I pray for God's help so that I would consistently live for God. How I pray that I would obey His commands just to please Him.

Two Sons Two Postures This father desired a close relationship with his two sons. In the story, he approached each of them to come into his household. He offered the same love to his sons regardless of their hearts and deeds.


"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

The younger son came with humility and regrets over what he had done. He came knowing that he had sinned and needs his father's forgiveness. He knows that he has lost his rights as a son so he offered to come back as a servant. It was alright for him to have the lowest position as long as he gets in. As a result, his father took him into his household.
"But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"

The older son who lived with his father all those time refused to come in when his brother was home. He is convinced that he was always right and he believed that he was more superior than his brother. He was angry. He did everything his father told him, how come his father is now being so generous to his brother? How come? How come? It's because he lived his life to earn something. He did not get what he worked for therefore he became angry and critical. (If he'd only lived and worked to please his father he would have been content and happy.) The father went outside the gate to bring him in just like the way he did to his younger son. The sad thing is that the story ends while this older son is still outside the gate.
The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Season is Approaching

Hundred-degree temperatures still persist, the leaves of trees remain green, and the humming of the airconditioners tell us that summer is here. The department stores, however, speak of a different message with their display of cold weather clothing and Halloween decorations. The arrival of fall is imminent. No need to stress. Instead, insist on enjoying the present time and remind yourself that another beautiful season with different colors and ambience is coming. This fall when the leaves let loose of their chlorophyll and the air brings a little chill, we begin to change our activities, the food we eat, and the clothes we wear. Even the thermostat will undergo some needed rest when it will neither be set to "Cool" nor "Heat". In the garden it is the time to clean up and prune. The time to decide which ones should stay, which ones need to go, and which ones need to be planted. This process involves examination which leads to decision then most importantly followed by action. The real gardeners are those who follow through this process. Esther is coming to Cornerstone! If you are planning to do something different during this coming season, consider a new bible study. Cornerstone Christian Church will be offering a great bible study this fall. The book "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman" by Beth Moore, will be used as the tour guide in going through the God-inspired Old Testament book of Esther. You can examine your present involvement now and then decide to join and have fun with other women. Decide on a purpose that counts. 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stories Told

In the ancient days of civilization, before there were scrolls, books, television, newspaper, and the internet, people told stories. Story telling was the way people passed what they knew and experienced to one another. The word spread and everyone who heard the story (as long as it has not changed during retelling) partook in that same knowledge and experience. The greatest and most influencial story teller lived about two millenia ago. Jesus Christ, God in the form of a man, came and changed this world, equipped with little more his stories. Taking elements from life around him, he wove them into tales that detailed another world, but yet rang true to his hearers. From the start of his ministry until his death, he told stories.

A Good Story Jesus told stories to all sorts of people: rulers and criminals; rich and poor; old and young; tax collectors and teachers and; friends and enemies. He did not choose his audience but his stories always created inner conflict that led to a choice. Stay or move; repent or rebel; follow through or fall away. The woman at the well listened as Jesus told a story of living water. Would she resist or repent? The religious leaders heard about a merchant robbed on the treacherous road to Jericho. Would they choose convenience or compassion? A good story always improves. A good story always provokes an action by forcing us to choose what is right from wrong.

A Good Story Teller A good story teller is focused on the listeners. I tell my children that they don't need to laugh at their own funny stories, but instead strive to tell the story as clearly as possible so that the hearers can respond appropriately. If they come away saying "Wow! She can tell a story!" or "She is so funny!" instead of "She has a point" then we aren't doing our job as a story teller. In John 6, Jesus told a story which thinned out his crowd. The disciples grumbled about it and "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." (John 6:66) Jesus told stories for the edification of others and not his own. Sometimes we try and glorify ourselves in our stories, but Jesus' stories guided the hearers to the path of righteousness. Sometimes we spend so much time with making ourselves look good that we miss the point.

Stories Told In Our Days Nowadays, story telling is magnified by modern technology. Our stories now have a wider audience. The barriers are gone and a good story can become an instant world-wide phenomenon. Even a bad story can find wide distribution, which presents a new challenge - the judicious sorting of information. One needs wisdom to identify truth from lies. God knows which stories we listened to; which ones we acted on. He will judge us based on what decisions and actions we made on what we heard . This blog is intended to record stories from thoughts and experiences of real people who follow the original teachings of the greatest story teller who ever walked the earth.