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.

Is anyone among you sick?

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:14”

We were talking about strategy and planning, but what happens when life throws you a wrench? This is the absolute perfect time to reflect on this, no? Why does God allow tribulation to happen? Why are we constantly being tested?

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

The only way to lose is if you quit. But If you face a challenge and win, God will trust you with bigger things. This is how He weeds out the unfit. 

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. Matthew 7:13-14

So if you press on and find ways to continue God’s will despite circumstances, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other in faith, God will protect and provide.

So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Lastly, remember Steven Covey 4 quadrants that we spoke about last week. Don’t get fooled by urgent but unimportant tasks. If the enemy can’t make you bad it will make you busy. Clarity, focus and perseverance.

And I ask you to join me in prayer so we minimize the impact of this pandemic on our great nation and resume life with minimal scars as soon as possible.

Lord I pray that you pick us up in your hands and shield us from evil, sickness and despair. I pray Lord that you will turn up the love on those who serve you so we can become beacons of your grace and pour your love and calmness on those who forgot about you, calm those who are in anguish and despair and shield our loved ones from sickness and disease. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? Luke 14:28

And find the best way to do it and the right people? The bible is filled with verses that tell us God will provide, but WE have to do the work. I said this before, God is not a genie that you can rub the bible and pop come out Jesus to grant you 3 wishes. God is a father that wants to educate you. Would you go to school on behalf of your kids? Would you go to work on behalf of your kids? Would you break your heart, break bones, do everything for your kids? I’m sure you are quite tempted to say yes, and some may even be doing it right now. But when you do something on behalf of someone else, that someone else is not learning. Is not becoming educated.

God cares so much about you that He wants you to do it, to learn it, to experience it so you can thrive and help others thrive. And the best way to do something is by planning it. By establishing SMART goals. SMART is actually an acronym 

  • Specific: Well defined, clear
  • Measurable: You can track the progress
  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
  • Realistic: Relevant to your life purpose
  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date

This is not a Goal Setting course, but if this is the first time you heard of SMART goals, I strongly suggest you go take one. Ziglar Inc has some great tools, as does Franklin Covey, Brian Tracy and others.

But two things I can tell you now from my 30+ year business career in corporate as well as business owner where I had the honor and privilege to film countless icons in the business world is: 1 – Nothing happens overnight (prayer warriors may disagree) but in general Success or achieving a goal is a sum total of hundreds of small little bitty successes or goals and 2 – Persistency.

And I close with this “The Hare & the Tortoise” It does not matter how fast and good you are if you are not persistent.

Isaiah 32:8 “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.”

Bonus, check Jim Collins 3 circles. The formula for acquiring ultimate clarity in business or life.

Prayer Strategy 2

Last Sunday I talked about Two Chairs. This Sunday I want to talk about another prayer strategy. The prayer Closet. The prayer closet is quite popular and became somewhat mainstream in the movie The War Room by the Kendrick Brothers. This has biblical support as in Mathew 6-6

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

A prayer closet not only gives you the privacy the Bible says, but also gives you the opportunity to create a vision board so you have your prayer strategy layed out. Instead of praying for what is most pressing, you can create a strategy to pray for what is important, and then for what is urgent. In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey teaches us about the 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 – Urgent and Important, Q2 – Not Urgent and Important, Q3 – Urgent and Not Important, Q4 – Not Urgent and Not Important. 

Often we fail to see what is truly important and as Stephen says we tend to spend too much time on Q3. And THIS is where the Enemy robs you of your time. Jennifer Sheehan likes to say “If the enemy can’t make you bad, he will make you busy”. 

And we tend to spend the vast majority of our time fighting for things that are completely unimportant, but look urgent. By creating clarity in your life, and focusing on what really matters you can pray for what matters and not for what is screaming at you.

Example: You need money to pay the electric bill or they will cut out your electricity. That looks urgent and you will consume your entire time finding ways to pay one bill. But money is temporary and will vanish again next month.

So instead of praying to get a few dollars to pay your electric bill, you really should be praying for God to give your wisdom. What!? Yes wisdom! Because when you have wisdom you will understand what your boss or clients really NEED, and in providing what your clients really NEED you will always have money and will never have to worry about bills. 

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Proverbs 90-12
Confusing? We will talk more about Goals and Strategy next Sunday.

“The PLANS of the diligent lead to PROFIT as surely as haste leads to poverty”.  Proverbs 21:5

How Much Would You Pay To …

If you could talk with President Trump for 10 minutes, how much would that be worth to you? OK, maybe you hate Trump, but what about Putin, Dalai Lama or Steven Spielberg? Priceless I would say, don’t you agree?

Now think of this, what if you could have private time with THE most powerful being in the universe? No, not Captain Marvel or Thanos (or the One-Above-All for the Marvel geeks), but GOD. Yes God himself. How much would that be worth? Beyond priceless, right?

What if I told you, you can, for real. The prayer strategy I want to focus on today is Two Chars. I had the privilege and honor to record Bob Bodine narrating his best seller book Two Chairs. A very simple concept. One chair for you, one chair for God. You sit down at a quiet time, pray for a little bit and shut up. Because when you pray is about what you want and when you LISTEN is about what He wants.

It works! No, He won’t give you the next winning numbers for the Lottery, bummer. But for me He gave me undeniable evidence that it was Him speaking. Ask me to tell you the stories and I will, gladly. And I’m confident He will do the same for you. God craves a relationship with you, yes! He wants to participate in your life. I thought, I’m too boring for God to want to do anything with me, but I was WRONG. He ENJOYS the simple things. Really.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Proverbs 3:6

Do you get it? In EVERYTHING you do. Not just the things you need help with. Everything! Bring Him along, enjoy His company. Yes, enjoy His company as much as He enjoys your company. Sit down, relax and even if you are just spending quiet time with God, it is still worth it.