Do you Run and Pray with Your Eyes Closed?

By all means I AM NOT advocating you to do this. If you try you will fall face flat on the ground, break your teeth and die! So you have been warned. 

But seriously, I was running my regular 5k and this thought came to mind: “What If I prayed while running?” and then I thought: “What if I close my eyes and let God guide me?” That would be a big trust in God’s power, no?

So I tried and could not close my eyes for more than two steps. I was afraid! But wait, that means I don’t trust God? I trust God, so I must let him guide me … could not do it. Fear just overtook my soul. “I’m going to fall, I’m going to run into the street and get hit by a car … a coyote will eat me … the IT clown will suck me into a drain. 

And then I got sad. “Wow, I don’t think I trust God that much then.” I know this is radical and I’m not advocating for people to begin jumping out of bridges to prove they have faith. God historically don’t help stupid people. (Luke 4:12)

But is it not what we do with our life? We run 100 miles per hr and we want God to magically fix everything, but we don’t really trust Him to do it. We want to make sure we have money first, we want to make sure we have food, we want to be sure … we don’t want to trust.

I remember as if it were yesterday. I was 5 years old and my dad was helping me learn how to ride a bicycle. There were no training wheels 50 some years ago, so dad would hold the bike seat and walk / run behind me while I wobbled my way forward. 

He would say “you can do it son, trust me”. But I was afraid, I was certain if he let go I would fall to my certain death. And then I began pedaling faster and faster. I was flying forward! “Wow dad runs fast and long, how is he able to run for that long?” I looked back and he was not there. I was riding by myself. I immediately stopped the bike. “Wow, dad is not helping, I’m going to fall … wait a minute, I did not fall. And now I have to go back and he is a mile far away.” So I turned around, mustered some courage and began riding back to him.  I was afraid but I imagined he was running behind me, helping me. And from that day forward, every time I was afraid of something I imagined my dad behind me and I would go through.

We have a bigger DAD in heaven and He is ALWAYS behind us.

We just have to trust and believe in His ways. Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, oh people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

By The Way when I was running and trying to pray, I stopped and I figured out I can pray and walk with my eyes closed if I walk very slowly. So if you are struggling with Trust in God, slow down. Try small things at first, baby steps and slowly walk your speed up so you don’t lose sight of who really matters.

Are we there yet?

We are going to Disney! Yay! Everyone is excited. My two daughters were 8 and 10 and we decided to do a road trip from Texas to California. A 21hr drive that based solely on stupidity we decided to do nonstop.

So we are all packed. We have snacks, water, games … everything we can possibly need and of course our hearts are filled with excitement! We are going to a place where there is only joy. People are happy, the streets sparkle, there is music everywhere. It’s heaven!

The next day we wake up exhilarated. We got in the car at 9am and hit the road. The plan is to drive through the night and the Kids would wake up at Disney!

10am – The kids are watching a movie.
11am – The movie ends and they want snacks.
12 noon – “Dad can we stop? I need to go to the bathroom”. 
1pm – “Dad we need to go to the bathroom now!!”

So we stop for lunch and the first sign of frustration emerges.

“Dad, how much longer to Disney?”
“Well, we still have a while to go.”

3 pm – “Dad I’m starving!”
“But we just ate lunch on our last stop.”  

6pm – it feels like we have been driving for days … the kids are visibly sour. They don’t want to watch movies or play or eat; They are bored out of their minds and as the sun begins to approach the horizon they blurb out: “Are we there yet!?”

7pm – We stopped for dinner and remember the idea was the kids would go to sleep and wake up at Disney. How naive were we. As we drove into the night the noises and the shaking of the car made it difficult for the kids to sleep. Being tired and frustrated they just grew angry.  

9 pm “ARE WE THERE YET!!!!????”

We still have 9 hrs to go. As we have not planned to stop for the night, I was hesitant to change plans while playing with logistics in my head.
“Maybe they will fall asleep and we can finish this smoothly. If we stop now the plan will be ruined.” I thought

Dad – Hey kids Why is Peter Pan always flying? 
Kids – I don’t know
Dad – He neverlands.

“ARE WE THERE YET!!!!????”

12 am  Kids – I want to go back home! I don’t wanna go to Disney anymore.
Dad – Just a little more. You guys don’t want to have fun! It’s going to be amazing!
Kids – No. I don’t want this anymore. It’s taking too long. I want to go back home.

As the night progressed the kids barely managed to sleep and at some point I saw that they had lost hope. For them it probably felt like they were trapped in the car on this endless trip to nowhere. I can imagine how frustrating it must be to feel trapped, to feel as if you are not making progress. All they saw was the car. They did not comprehend the progress we made, they did not understand the odometer and how many miles we had travelled so far. For them it was just frustration of an endless road trip.

Many Times I cry out to God “Are We There Yet?” and I forget that he has a plan. I don’t see his odometer, I don’t know how we progressed on his plan, and I forget to trust that His plan is good and I should focus on enjoying the trip, trusting the driver knows the destination. I know it’s hard. We are not kids anymore, but we need to trust in God that He is guiding us to the right destination and in the end, we will all get to Disney.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2

What if I stabbed your hand with a #2 pencil?

Are you Crazy!!!? You would scream, what (insert here your favorite cuss)  got into you?

And I would apologize and assure you that it was a fluke and it will never happen again … bla, bla, bla.

But you are now considering calling 911. You are in pain, but mostly you are angry, very angry. You did not do absolutely anything to push me into stabbing your hand! What in the world was I thinking? 

So after a few minutes you decide it is not worth calling 911 once after all your hand looks somewhat OK and you don’t want to go to the police and press charges, maybe even call a lawyer … sounds like too much trouble for the damage done. So you go to the ER and the doctor tells you that no real damage was done. If you want he can put a few stitches on it but he does not think it is necessary. Prescribes you some pain meds and releases you.

You are still mad and can’t believe what happened. You get home and talk to your significant other about what happened and he or she finds it somewhat difficult to believe that you were stabbed on your hand by Andy and it was completely unprovoked. And you assure your partner that it was unprovoked, that somehow Andy went crazy for a second.

But then you begin to think, “did I do something to provoke Andy? Was it my fault? I can’t see how it was my fault.” And you begin to think of ways you could have avoided the incident.

The next day your hand is a little swollen, you have a bit of pain, but you decide to go to work and continue with life. At work people ask what happened and for some you tell a friend stabbed your hand and it was completely unprovoked. People are in shock and some in disbelief. 

Then a week goes by and your hand is healing fine. You have some pain when you move your fingers but other than that not much bothers you.

Then a month goes by and your hand is fully healed, you have full control of it and you don’t really think much about the incident.

Then a year passes and you forget about it. Once in a while you see the scar on your hand and it brings a memory of what happened, but this is absolutely part of a distant past.

Then 10 years go by … 20 … 30 … 50 years go by and you barely remember what happened. You now have completely forgiven me for that crazy incident. You once again see me as your best friend and you even laugh about it.

Compared to eternity, our life on earth is that tiny moment when your hand was stabbed

It looked crazy and unjust at that time, but then you realize that there is so much more to do and see that holding on to an incident like that looks foolish. Yes it was painful, yes it was unfair and maybe, maybe it shaped you into becoming a different person. Hopefully a better person.

If you truly believe in the eternal afterlife, would you react differently to what happens to you now?

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
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

What is fear?

Howard Partridge likes to say that F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. We fear the unknown, we fear what is different and we fear what we don’t control. 

It is estimated that 25% of Americans fear flying. The fear is that the plane will malfunction and they may die. That is about 80 million people in the US alone. Interestingly enough the total fatalities due to aviation accidents since 1970 is 83,772, total globally. More than 38,000 people die from car accidents every year in the US alone! In the US the CDC lists total cardiovascular related deaths at 650,000 per year and cancer 600,000 per year. Plus another 600,000 in various diseases, plus 83,000 due to diabetes, 55,000 due to pneumonia (interesting) and horribly 47,000 due to suicide every year!! But people fear flying, why? Because they don’t understand it. They don’t have control. It’s unknown to them. Can you imagine what would happen if people feared junk food and lack of exercise?

How about politics? Do you remember a campaign where a candidate only told you what he or she would do for the good of the community, or they spent all their time bad mouthing the other candidate, trying to make you fear the other candidate?

And the news? Do you remember the last time they had the whole news segment only about good things? Like, ever?

Yet we let fear dominate our lives. I can’t think of a better example as right now. We know the chances of dying from Coronavirus are infinitely less than from any of the other causes above. But because there is no “treatment”, we feel we don’t have control over it. And because we don’t control it,  fear takes over.

Are we not forgetting who is in control?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” Psalm 23:4

Just like darkness is the absence of light (darkness will never be able to overtake light, ever. If you turn on the light in a dark room will darkness revolt and slowly engulf the light, or it simply disappears instantly?), fear is the absence of faith. And the best way to keep our faith is to love God.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The One who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Can we choose Joy?

On my documentary Lap Ngo World Painter I tell as story of Lap who fled the Indochina war in 1944 carrying his grandfather on his back among the explosions of mortars, he then sustained his whole family of 8 by painting portraits on the streets of Laos, later he married a diplomat and they lived 24 years in Africa. Lap saw the worst. Poverty, war, famine, but he chose to pain beauty. In every situation he faced he always looked for what was beautiful, and he painted that.

My last documentary Walker: Beyond Limits is about a 14 year old boy who became quadriplegic while playing football. Never done anything wrong, he was just enjoying the game he loves. And he was angry and depressed for over 2 years. But in the end he chose Joy.

No matter your situation, no matter how ugly, depressing, hopeless it may look, the Holy Spirit is INSIDE you and you can activate the Holy Joy of God in your life. It’s a choice. Not an easy one, especially when we are bombarded with bad news 24×7, when the future looks uncertain and everything around us seems to conspire against us.

Mr. Ziglar used to say “Motivation is like bathing. You have to do it everyday.”

And a Cherokee fable of the two Wolves sums it up:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”.  James 1:2-8

I don’t know Adam and Eve, why do I have to suffer for their bad choice?

If God is so powerful and loving, why does He allow Evil?

Something went bad in Heaven. Lucifer (The Morning Star) revolted against God and it was casted out of Heaven. “Jesus: I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:18 

But he did not come alone. He took ⅓ of Angels with him (Revelation 12:4). A bit further in Revelation the Dragon or the Devil was trying to stop Mary but he could not;
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” Revelation 12:17

So Evil is here “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10

But why in the World God allows that!?

No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.” I suggest you read the whole thing – Matthew 13:24-30

Another explanation that came into my head while I was pondering over this matter is gravity. Gravity pulls you down, makes you heavy, tired … but is also a force that HOLDS EVERYTHING TOGETHER. Without gravity we would be flying in all directions erratically, and if you want to go even further in the science spectrum, your cells would not be together, the atoms would not exist, the Universe would not exist.

But when you accept gravity and you “play” against it, it makes you strong. The heavier the weight you lift, the stronger you become. The more gravity you fight against, the stronger you become. And knowing that you can fall down at any time, makes you alert when you walk. Lastly, rocket scientists use planetary gravity to propel rockets further in space to reach distances that would not be possible with the existing technology (just Google this, is truly rocket science).

So when you face adversities, when you are pulled down, use this force to propel you further than you could ever imagine.

The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

So ultimately is your choice. If you fall down you can stay down or
You get back up and fight.

Dad, why is Easter in April? Is this when Jesus died?

Dad: Well, we know Jesus was crucified on a Friday, Good Friday, and he was resurrected 3 days later on Sunday …

Daughter: But Dad, if Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday, that would be just 2 days.

Dad: Well …

Daughter: Dad John 20:1 tells us that “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” So she got there very early on Sunday and Jesus had already split. That does not even make for 2 day!

Dad: Yes, but …

Daughter: And why in the world we call it Good Friday? Did we not kill Jesus by crucifiction? Why is this good?

Dad: You see …

Daughter: And how Mardi Gras and Easter are connected? Isn’t lent 40 days? But between Mardi Gras and Easter is 47 days?

Dad: …

Daughter:  And how do we figure out when to celebrate Easter? Why do we look at a full moon to calculate Easter? And where did the Easter Bunny come from!? While Jesus was being Crucified there was a bunny laying chocolate eggs around?

Dad: Look, if we try to explain everything, most likely we won’t be able to make sense. Just like the bible, for over 2000 years people have been trying to mock it and prove that there is no scientific proof that those things happened. But guess what? There is not. And guess what again?

Daughter: What?

Dad: For more than 2000 years people still believe, not by reasoning, but by faith.

Daughter: So we must believe just because God said so?

Dad: No, you believe when you FEEL God saying that He loves you in your heart. You believe when you see Jesus working miracles in people’s lives today, you believe when you FEEL the power of God working in your life. But doubt, scepticism and cynicism drive you away from God’s truth.

Daughter: But how can we know that He is risen?

Dad: When you feel that he is alive, inside you. That He has risen indeed, inside you. And that is why we celebrate. That He is alive and living inside you, through you and for you.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Dad: Do you believe this?
And checkout Billy Graham’s last message. It’s an absolute masterpiece

Picture this, you are seeking a job

There are two employers at the table, and you tell them both: “I don’t care about your vision, I don’t care about your culture. All I care about is salary and benefits.”

If you’ve been in this situation you know that NONE of the employers will offer you a job, correct? Or worst, the one that does not care about you a lick will offer you a job, squeeze the life out of you and toss you out when he no longer needs you. True?

And it is public information that the greatest companies to work for such as SouthWest Airlines, In-N-Out Burger (corporate), Dysney, you name it, they all do extensive interviews before making a hiring decision. They want to make sure they are hiring someone that fits the culture, that believes in their vision and mission and will promote company growth long term.

Let’s go one step ahead; Great companies want employees that believe in the greater good. They want you to think as an owner and that their company provides a valuable service for the human kind and that you are truly making a difference in people’s lives. Don’t believe this?

Mission Statements

Coca-Cola:  “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.”

Twitter:   “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information, instantly, without barriers.”

Disney: To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling.

Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Now picture this, you are at the table considering the after life. There are two employers offering you a position: God and Lucifer …

“24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” 
“31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:24-35

How do you tap into God’s Power?

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” Psalm 105:2
Music is one of the greatest things in the universe. As a filmmaker the best kept secret in films is music. This is what really drives the mood of the scene. It will make you scared, angry or happy. Music is one of the most powerful triggers of dopamine release in the brain, among many, many other factors.

But what is music? Each note has a frequency, something has to vibrate in a specific frequency to represent that particular note. So music is vibration in a specific frequency.

Harmony is when two or more notes complement each other. They “sound good”. When something sounds bad we normally say “it’s out of tune” or is in dissonance. And it is not pleasant. It is scientifically proven that if you stay in a noisy environment for an extended period of time you can get sick, severely sick.

Now we know that there are good music vibrations (harmony) and bad vibrations (dissonance). What else vibrates? EVERYTHING!!! Your cells vibrate, your atoms vibrate, your brain functions in a specific frequency. While in pure meditation state (or sleep for some) is 6 Hz (Hertz the measurement of frequency. In panic mode 50 Hz. When your brain is in panic mode you can’t think, literally. And you guess it, it promotes bad health.

Now let’s go even further, light has frequency and so does LOVE! When you feel love you vibrate in this wonderful frequency that people around you can feel your joy. And it is also scientifically proven that love and laughter are a great medicine.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Now, what frequency does God vibrate to? In the bible (depending on which version you are reading) the word Love is cited over 500 times!!! And we all know that God is LOVE.

If we love and let God Love through us we tap into His infinite power, but if we hate or feel fear we become dissonant from God. Wow!

If you want to harmonize with God you need to vibrate Love. So the more you practice love, the more you practice faith, belief and joy, the closer you will draw to God. But be careful because the opposite is also true, unfortunately . 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I know we are living a challenging time but “8:28” we will prevail. We will survive and we will rebuild. 

Stay in love, practice love, seek love and you will tap into God’s infinite power. Don’t let the enemy convince you otherwise. 

Seek love everyday as passionately as you can and you will see your life transform before your eyes.

PS: Kid you not. this week after writing this I woke up naturally 2 days in a row at 8:28am

If you died today, would you be at peace?

Kind of a weird question but reflects what we are going through now.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

We are facing unsettling times, what does the future hold for us? So here is a thought; If you believe in God and you believe God is in control, then there is a reason for this virus to surface. All the consequences of this are impossible for us to even imagine, but why would God allow this to happen? He could have easily stopped the one guy that got the virus in the first place. Why would he allow this to spread to the whole world, literally?

I would love to hear your version, but here is mine; I read countless books where scientists studied dying people, specifically what was their dying wish. ALL OF THEM with no excuse said: “I wish I had spent more time with my loved ones”. Not a single one of them said I wish I had more money, or I wish I had built more things or I wish I had worked harder. The single concern was about love. Tom Ziglar talks about a Harvard study that researched happiness over 80 years (during 80 years, yes that long) found that the single factor to build a happy life is to build healthy relationships. Read it here

So we are enjoying a historical opportunity to STOP and think what matters most. What do you really want from life? A good book is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

And a book I have already suggested is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

The LORD works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.” Proverbs 16:4

Enjoy this extra time and reflect over your life. What matters most to you? What is your purpose? Think hard on this one. When do you think something like this will happen again? Take this opportunity to draw close to God, to your loved ones and to be prepared to enjoy life to its fullest.

Remember that God is in control and that you have a purpose here. Seek your true purpose, love abundantly and I’m confident that you will feel that even if you died today you would be at peace.