I would like to say that this is a real-life encounter, but I must confess, and I believe, that this is purely some story conjured up to bring us to our senses when we're already forgetting that the best things in life are simple, and should be enjoyed as simple as possible - no complications.


The Biblical Guide to Wealth, Health, and HappinessA boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," they answered in unison.

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life."

The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!"

The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness"You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch.
With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?"

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant."

"You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?"

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

The Law of Happiness : Biblical Ethics and Biblical Anthropology"Afterward? Well, my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the tourist, laughing.

"When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

"With all due respect sir, but that's exactly what we are doing now."

"So what's the point wasting twenty-five years?" asked the Mexicans.

A Life of Joy: Learn the Ways to Have Biblical Joy and Gladness and Feel the Joy of the Lord or What the Bible Says About Finding Joy and Happiness and Experiencing Peace as a Christian WomanAnd the moral of the story is:

Know where you're going in life… you may already be there.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Failed expectations, improved determination

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife'', by Guido Reni 1631Image via Wikipedia
Failed expectations, improved determination

The Genesis 37 account of how the Israelites were translated to Egypt, to remain there for about 400 years, and return to the land of Canaan afterward, began when Joseph had a dream. But truth be told, it began long before that. But for our discussion’s sake, we limit that to the story of Joseph.

Joseph was born of Jacob, who already had 10 sons and a daughter. He was growing old, and Joseph was the firstborn of the woman he loved. Simply put, Joseph is a beloved son. It was even more affirmed by his brothers, when Joseph was given a coat of many colors, one that extends to the arms, as if to tell everyone, “You won’t be working like your brothers.”

This sparked sibling rivalry.

To complicate matters, Joseph had a dream. Twice.

They were binding sheaves in the field, then his sheaf stood up, and those of his brothers gathered round and bowed down.

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Ivp Classics)And I thought that Joseph didn’t work in the fields, or even to ‘know’ how it is to work in the fields. But a dream like that? That made his brothers hate him even more.

The other dream was about the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to him, reason enough for his father to rebuke him.

Joseph had a dream, and he was enthusiastic about it. He believed it would happen, will it?

His brothers had something different in mind, as saw to it. When they had the opportune time, they plotted to kill him, but due to a split decision, he ended up being sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites, who later brought him to Egypt.

This began the grand plan of protecting the Israelites from extinction due to the coming famine that will strike Egypt and its neighbouring countries in the next 30 years or so.

With God preparing the way, Joseph was bought by Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guards. He did good work, and he progressed, and was later promoted to become Potiphar’s overseer, everything under him, all of his properties, and Potiphar had to worry only about the food he will eat. Everything else, it’s under Joseph’s care.

Well, almost everything else.

El sufrimiento y la soberania de Dios: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Spanish Edition)Potiphar’s wife took note of the young Hebrew lad, who, apart from becoming a notable and sensible worker, is also a handsome man. He tried to seduce Joseph. Once. Twice. Many times.

One day, nobody was around. She caught Joseph’s garment, and said, “Lie down with me.” Nowadays, men don’t even get to hear that seduction. They make the advances.

What did Joseph do? He fled. He feared God. He feared his master Potiphar. He ran.

The wife was cunning, and to cover up her own sins, she concocted a plausible story. An attempted rape, a premeditated harassment.

Did the master believe her? You bet.

Joseph was thrown into prison, but the prison for the king’s servants, not the lowdown prison.

Yet even there, Joseph’s leadership skills were noticed, and the warden put him in charge of all the prisoners. His training as a leader continued.

It so happened that Pharaoh’s butler and the baker were imprisoned one day. Ranting and swearing, they joined the king’s prisoners, bemoaning their fate. And while inside, they were put under Joseph’s care, naturally.

Sovereignty of God, TheThen the two had a dream. They were troubled. Egypt is a land of mysticism, and dreams had their special, mystical place in Egyptian folks. What could it mean?

Joseph was gifted with interpreting dreams, but even that, he acknowledged it to be from God, not of him. He asked the two to pray, tell their dreams to him.

The butler was told that he would be restored to his former post, to once again hand the cup to the Pharaoh.

The baker didn’t get a good one. He would be hanged, ad his body the birds will feed on.

Joseph knew that it would come true, and requested the butler to tell the Pharaoh about him when he is once again in the presence of the king.

True enough, the baker was hanged, and the butler was restored. And perhaps, men have a way of forgetting their misfortune, and all things that surrounds those events. The butler forgot about Joseph. He lingered in the prison for two more years.

Then his break came. The Pharaoh was one day so troubled and could not have any merriment or singing in his palace. Why is that? He had a dream, and nobody can tell him what it means.

Trusting God / Sovereignty of GodThen the butler came to his senses, and he told the Pharaoh about Joseph.

In a moment, Joseph was clean-shaven, cleansed, and was wearing a presentable garment. Once again, he was in the presence of a dignitary, but this time, it is the man holding the highest position in the whole land of Egypt – the Pharaoh himself.

He was asked if he could interpret dreams.

He said no, but his God can.

He was told the dream, and he gave its meaning: 7 years of abounding plenty, bumper crops, overflowing harvest, followed by 7 years of famine, gnawing famine, consuming famine.

Pharaoh was so convinced of the interpretation, as Joseph himself confirmed by saying, “And the doubling of Pharaoh's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.” (Gen 41:32)

“What do we do now?” was Pharaoh’s question.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of GodBased on Joseph’s reply, we can deduce a bit of his wisdom, and humility: “Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Gen 41:34-36)

Pharaoh was so pleased, and was so mystified (let us not forget that), and with the words that followed, he made Joseph that man, who would be in-charge, and what’s more, he was made second-in-command in the kingdom of Egypt: “And Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?" Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you." And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." (Gen 41:38-41)


Almighty over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of GodWe’ll end the story of Joseph here; the rest is found in Genesis 41 onwards.

What does this story of Joseph teach us? Let us just enumerate them here.

God can use a dream to put a dream in us. Joseph was just a lad when he had the dreams. He was almost killed by his brothers, but was sold as a slave. He was made overseer, but falsely accused by his own master’s wife. He was thrown to prison. Until he was made the second-in-command over Egypt. In all of these, Joseph remained focused on his dream, and exerted all effort to be the ‘sheaf that rose and stood up’.

Failing is not the failure; it is when we don’t rise up again after the failure – that is when we fail. When his brothers betrayed him, we can’t tell what pained that caused him. For those of us who had gone through the same experience, we can empathize. And yet, he excelled as a servant, and was made the overseer. When he was falsely accused, we cannot know his frustration why his ever-trusting master can simply take his wife’s words for it. Some say that Potiphar didn't somehow believe his wife, but he had to do something, to save face, and he threw Joseph in prison. But then again, he found favor in the warden’s eyes, and was made in-charge of all the prisoners. Even in prison, he rose to his calling. Until his opportune time came.

Sovereignty: God, State, and SelfWhen called upon, give your best, even when you don’t like it. Joseph may have thought to himself, ‘I should be a ruler’ but he was a slave instead. But work as a slave he did, and gave his best. I’m sure he didn’t like being put in prison, but as a prisoner, he did good inside. He sure would have counted the years while he is there, but he continued giving his best, and didn’t question God’s silence, or seeming abandonment. He couldn’t have care more when the butler and the baker were imprisoned, but he did. He may have withheld the interpretation of the dreams, but he did ask God of the interpretation, and that paved the way for the fulfillment of his dreams – dreams which were almost forgotten.

The higher the position, the hotter the tempering. If Joseph were made the second-in-command in Egypt anytime earlier than when he was made next to Pharaoh, he may not be ready yet. Power corrupts, and if the internal structure is not failsafe, destruction is unavoidable.
God made sure that Joseph was ready to assume position when he was done begin betrayed by his own brothers, when he was sold as a slave, when he worked as a slave, and when he was thrown into prison. Having experienced all debasement, all embarrassment, all humiliation, and having encountered all sorts of people of all levels, and all the while maintaining his identity and calling, God knew he was ready to take up this work of being next to Pharaoh. He knew himself, and he knew where he stood.

To Gary And Marcus: The Sovereignty Of God Is OmnipresentWhen the unknown beacons, trust in the known God – and go. There are musical productions made from the story of Joseph, and there are two songs that caught my attention, both on Joseph’s trusting in God when he was down and out:

“When God closes the door, He opens the window so I can see
He’s working it out, working it out for me”

That didn’t strike me lately. I sang the lyrics wrongly, and it became:

‘When God opens the door, He closes the window…”

The correct lyrics struck the message right home: God sometimes doesn’t want us to even ‘see’ what He is doing, but He wants us to simply trust in Him, all the way through.

From the animated motion picture, the lyrics goes this way:

“You know better than I, you know the way;
I’ll let go the need to know why,
I’ll take the answers You supply –
‘Cause You know better than I.”

Classic Sermons on the Sovereignty of God (Kregel Classic Sermons Series)Again, in Trust His Heart, the chorus goes this way:

"God is too wise to be mistaken,
God is too good to be unkind;
So when you don't understand,
When you don't see His plan,
When you can't trace His hand - trust His heart."

I say, it is profound, simply, simply profound. We don’t know, we can't see. But we trust. And we go.

God is still in-charge of everything. Finally, it is comforting and reassuring that God is still in control of everything. Trust may wane, and faith may be reduced, but God remains. And whatever our situation in life is, whatever trial or testing, whatever success or failure, whatever, whatever – know that God is still in control. Our life may have its ups and downs, and our passing through this earth will have its seasons of change, it is calming to know that God is still in control.

Sovereignty of God in Salvation: Biblical Essays (Tgt Clark Biblica Studies)
Be blessed. And keep your faith in God.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Clean your boat; mend your nets; share your fish

Fisherman and his catch, Seychelles. The fishe...Image via Wikipedia
Clean your boat; mend your nets; share your fish

The account of the fishermen in Luke 5 is a good place to learn about leadership. The Bible is a fundamental book where we all can glean wisdom and knowledge from time to time, whatever season in our life, whatever era our culture is.

The whole night was spent, and the fishermen caught not a single fish.

Jesus saw the empty boats.

The fishermen were washing their nets at the shore. I’ve seen how this happens, and it is a dirty work. The algae that collect at the nets as they are submerged in the water will (1) clog up the path for water to freely flow, and (2) render the net ineffective. Therefore, fish will not be caught. This mandates a ‘cleaning of the nets’ on a regular basis. If they were lumberjacks, that would resemble ‘sharpening their axe’.

As the crowds pressed in on Jesus, he thought of getting in on one of the boats. He then asked the owner to push out a bit to the water. Jesus made sure that the crowd can’t press in on him further, or risk getting wet. He also has something else in mind.

Mentoring for Mission: A Handbook on Leadership Principles Exemplified by Jesus ChristWhen Jesus has finished speaking, he asked Peter, one of the fishermen, to launch into the deep and let down his nets.

Jesus is a carpenter by profession, and he is telling a fisherman to fish, what's more, ‘during the day’.

What follows next is an unexpected turn of events, from where we can glean several insights, both as followers and leaders:

Clean your boat

Jesus on LeadershipOften in our daily life we tend to collect and keep big things and small things. We use the worthy things, and ironically, hold on to the things that has little or no value at all. This we keep in our boats. And when the huge catch comes, we have no more place to put the fresh fish in, no room for the bountiful catch. Let us clean our boats of unworthy things, big or small.

I like how my former choral conductor puts it, “I have to clear my account of any leftover cents, unless it dilutes the new outpouring of blessings.” As Paul says it when he talked about baking and leavening, he admonished the Corinthians to “clean out the old leaven” and create a new lump. During that time, a small piece of leavened bread is cut and kept, for new lumps to be leavened with that small piece. Question is, since when was the first leavened bread made? Who knows when? Let us clean our boats of old lumps.

What’s done is done, what is past is past. Let history do the recording of the events, but learn your lessons well. Let us clean our boats of past failures and successes, and move on.

Mend your nets

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian LeadershipAs fishermen whose primary tool is their boat and net, they have to clean their boat – and mend their nets. Aside from cleaning their nets, they have to look for areas that have broken strings, and mend that part. What would these all mean to us?

A clean net is lighter compared to one that is laden with algae. It is not a burden for the fishermen when the net is to be cast. Therefore,
  • A clean net will need less force to be carried;
  • A clean net will not present additional burden to the fisherman;
  • A clean net will need less energy when being cast;
  • A clean net can be thrown more easily at the right spot;
  • A clean net will not sway the fisherman’s direction.

And while a broken net will cause some or many fish to slip through, a mended net will ensure that the catch will comprise of fish of all sizes. Therefore,
  • There will be no missed chances;
  • There will be no slip downs;
  • There will be no regrets.

Leadership Lessons of Jesus: A Timeless Model for Today's LeadersOpportunities are seized and made good use of. What’s more, mending the nets is akin to sharpening the axe. You don’t do it when you are working. You use some of your free time to mend your nets or sharpen your axe. For a student, it is ‘burning the midnight oil’. You study when you are supposed to be sleeping. You use up your oil, your resources, to keep you up during the night, to gain what you usually lose by simply sleeping on. An employee simply does further skills enhancement during slack times at work. If you wait for training to come, it will not. And as it is always said, chance favors the prepared. Be proactive. Be self-motivated. Prepare yourself by mending and cleaning your nets. Wasn't it a coincidence that Peter was on his boat while the rest were ashore, cleaning their nets?

Share your fish

Finally, there is nothing better than for us to share our fish. Just like Peter, who had his bountiful catch, which strained his net to the point of breaking, he immediately called out to his fellow fishermen to help him haul up the harvest. His net is mended and his boat is clean. But that just didn’t suffice. Therefore,
    Jesus on Leadership Leader Wkbk
  • Don’t conceal your blessings. Don’t think you can ‘cause you can’t; If you try to, and people find out, you’ll be put under suspicion, and when you really are down and in need, people won’t believe you either.
  • Share your blessings. Your boat can only contain so much. What you don’t share will either be unused or wasted, while many are in need. Don’t burden yourself of hoarding up what can be generously scattered and thankfully received.
  • Acknowledge your Source. Many of us will say that the things we acquire in life, the achievements, the properties – everything – is all but the fruit of our labor, our sweat and blood. But if God were to stop the free air we are breathing, where would we be? We can accomplish all that we can, and more, but at the end of the day, we should be humble enough to know that God is our Source, our Provider.
  • Give thanks to the Master. And we should be thankful that God chose us to be the vessel for which his bounties are passing down and passing through. We can be the best in our field of expertise, the first in our area of knowledge, and this is so because God has granted it to us. “As he giveth, he can take away”. Let us not be destroyed by pride and vanity, but rather, we should be humble and thankful, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). If men look up to you, and you hold a position of high esteem, know that it is from the Lord: “For God is the judge. One he putteth down, and another he lifteth up” (Psalms 75:8)

Final thoughts:

Growing Leaders: Reflections on Leadership, Life and JesusJesus is a carpenter, and Peter is a fisherman. And it was day – unlikely the time to fish. Yet Peter obeyed without reservation Jesus’ command to launch into the deep, and cast the nets. Let us be like Peter.
  • Don’t fear the deep – the opportunity you have been waiting for may just be there, waiting.
  • Don’t be afraid of the unknown – we all live each day, each step, fearing our lives away, only to say, “If only I have known…” Life always has its failures and successes delicately balanced, allotted to each and every one of us.
  • Be willing to listen. This is not always happening, but at the right time, at the right place, an unknown or a nobody just says the right word, expresses the real situation in words that you can hear and understand, and though it strikes no rhythm at all to what you know, listen up. Be humble to give it a thought. And if it won’t cost you a limb, do what is being suggested. It just might work, and mightily!
  • Share your blessings. Proverbs 11:24 says, “A man may give freely, and still his wealth will be increased; and another may keep back more than is right, but only comes to be in need.”

Brave Enough to Follow: What Jesus Can Do When You Keep Your Eyes on HimFor a better understanding of this article, read Luke 5 in the Bible. if that doesn't suffice, read through all the others books. That will surely help you to clean your boat, mend your nets, and to share your fish.

God bless!

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