Filled with Gratitude

By the grace of God, I have been granted another year of life. Looking back, I consider my first eighteen years a “waste” mainly because I did not honor Christ as Lord.

The last five years have been challenging in so many ways, but the hand of God has never been more evident in my life.

About three years ago, I started doing something different on my birthday. Instead of celebrating me, I celebrated God by setting some time aside to give Him all the praise and worship that is due to His name!

On my birthday, I celebrate the gift of life and reflect on my God-given purpose. In a way, it’s a time to refocus mentally and recharge spiritually. I take some time off to be alone with the Lord, my loving Creator, and connect with Him through prayer and solitude.

Why do I do this? It is simple: to reflect on life and give thanks to God. It is kind of like a spiritual check-in with my heavenly Father.

Here am I Lord. Thank you for another year of life. I have tasted and seen your goodness. Thank you for everything. I renew my commitment to you. I dedicate this new year to you and put it in your hands. May your will be done in my life. Help me to number my days and live in light of eternity and serve you with excellence, integrity, and passion. May you be the center of it all this year. In Jesus name, amen.

You see, my life belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone. He graciously chose to create me and put me on this earth with a glorious purpose—to glorify Him and spread His fame across the nations. That mission is what keeps me going even through life’s most difficult circumstances.

Living for the glory of God—striving to pursue and honor and treasure and value and praise Him above all things—has become my heart’s desire and my ultimate aim in life.

Living for the glory of God has become, indeed, a motto I try to live by everyday. (If you know me, I hope that this stands out to you as one of my core values). I feel like it is part of my DNA or something. It is just the way I am wired—I was created by Him and for Him. And I have resolved to live for His glory.

As I look back, I am filled with gratitude for the love, mercy, grace, favor, and provision of the Lord these last few years. I am forever indebted to Him!

All that I am, and all that I have accomplished thus far in life would not be possible without the grace of God.

I am thankful for my family, in particular, my beloved parents and wonderful sisters. Thanks for putting up with me all these years. You are all a gift from God!

I am also thankful for all the friends, colleagues, classmates, teachers, pastors, leaders, mentors, co-workers, classmates, and middle school and high school students, that I have the great honor and privilege of knowing and serving.

There is no doubt that God has used each and every single one of you, in some way, to impact, influence, and/or shape me into the man that I am today.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I highly value and appreciate you all!

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez

20130923-210239.jpg

20130923-210302.jpg

20130923-210316.jpg

20130923-210342.jpg

20130923-210604.jpg

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. What a hard thing to live out! The truth is we should forgive others, no matter who they are or what they have done. That is challenging. How can we forgive others when they use, abuse, disrespect, or mistreat us? You may be asking, “How can I forgive someone, when he or she hurts me emotionally and/or physically?”

If we are honest, forgiving others is a hard, and sometimes impossible, thing to do, especially in our own strength. I know that this will not be surprising at all, but here it goes. Are you ready? We all make mistakes! Yes, all of us. As in, every individual in the world. In other words, no one is perfect. We all mess up or blow it, one way or another.

But guess what? This is inevitable! You and I will continue to make mistakes in life because we are sinners and we live in a fallen world. That is just plain ol’ reality! I think that recognizing this and admitting our own sin is the very first step in growing and learning to forgive others.

So, since we live in a fallen and sinful world, where there is the possibility to get hurt by others, and others getting hurt by us (whether it is intentionally or unintentionally), the real question, I think, we should be asking is: how will we respond when others make mistakes or treat us in a negative way?

You and I can respond the usual (and common) way—by treating others harshly, acting out in revenge, calling them out, etc. But what good will that do? Absolutely nothing! It will just start a never-ending cycle of arguments and debates, mutual confrontation, and exchange of inappropriate, and sometimes, demeaning terms. Who wants to get caught up in that mess? Not me!

In such a case, no one wins! But there is hope because of Jesus! You and I can start living differently and make a difference, by treating others the way we would want them to treat us. This is called “The Golden Rule” for a reason—because it works!

Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12, NIV).

Do you want to be treated well? Do you want to be treated with respect, honor and dignity? (I hope you answer those questions with a big and loud, YES!) Well, do the same to others, but take the initiative and do it first. Do not wait for others to change. You and I are called to a new life in Christ first, and then we are called to live that new life with others.

To sum it up, forgiveness is hard and challenging but not impossible. God can (and will) give us the strength, courage and humility to love others and forgive them for their sin against us. If you are in Christ, you have been forgiven of your sins. Yes, that is right! You have been forgiven of your sins because of what Jesus has done on the cross. That my friend, is called grace!

If you and I have tasted the unconditional love of God, and have been forgiven much, doesn’t it make sense to do the same to others—to love and forgive them for their sin, no matter who they are or what they have done? (Yes, I just repeated what I said at the beginning, so what?).

The Apostle Paul stated, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

If we practice forgiveness, others will be dramatically impacted by our testimony and willingness to do such a thing. They will come to the realization that our ability to forgive is initiated by God, inspired by the Spirit, and fueled by the love of Jesus. And for that we praise and worship the King!

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez

**P.S. Feel free to leave a comment or prayer request below.**

Book Review: I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris

Blogging_for_Books_Lockup_1a
20110704-013635.jpg

Don’t judge a book by its a title. I Kissed Dating Goodbye is not just about dating but a book that challenges and exhorts us to live a life pleasing to God.

Sam Torode states, “To my surprise I discovered I Kissed Dating Goodbye isn’t really about dating at all. Instead, it’s a book about following Christ and what that means for all our relationships—whether romantic or not.” Relationships should be Christ-centered— driven by self-sacrificing love. This is in fact a message that is very unpopular in today’s culture. Our society is driven by greed and selfishness.

Loving others is what God wants and commands us to do. Joshua Harris states, “Every relationship for a Christian is an opportunity to love another person as God has loves us.”

Joshua Harris is not afraid to speak uncompromising truth. He speaks his heart out with sincerity, boldness, and love. “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” This is the result when one entrusts his love life to God.

I recommend this book for everyone who wants to gain a new perspective on dating and relationships in light of God’s Word.

I received this book for free from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.