Saturday, December 31, 2005
I am not a fan of "New Year's Resolution" because they will definitely be broken. If you have come up with a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, good luck!! But luck doesn't cut anything out. You might use your "Will Power". Well, where does that come from? How about asking God for His blessings on your consecrations for the new year of 2006. Now, you got a better chance than those "resolution or will power" phrases.
Here's the TOP TEN CONSECRATION I recommend every Christian in the world to consider:
10. Abomination - understanding what sin is and what it does - sin is terrible. Sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). It's not the fault of your friends who may have lured you into it, it's not the fault of illegitimate parents who may have given a bad example, it's not the fault of false teachers who led you into the wrong path, it's your problem. Ezekiel 18 explains that "the soul that sins is the soul that will die." One sin we do is an automatic abomination to God!
9. Procrastination - beware of the dangers of putting off obedience - millions and millions of people are still putting off their decision to surrender their life to God by believing, repenting, confessing their sins, be baptized burying their old life (Ro. 6:1-4) and raised anew in Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:36-38) and daily living for Jesus! One strong reason for such procrastination is the cost of surrendering to Jesus. Yes! It does cost. Though God's grace is free to all, He gave His Son and expects us to give up our idols and life. The Holy Spirit wants a surrendered body to live in and guide.
8. Realization - know where you stand each day - what idol are you holding on to now. Idolatry comes in many forms. It actually tears you away from our Living God. It causes distractions. It pressures you away from the truth. It pursuades you to do more evil than good. It does give you temporary pleasure until you have come to realize you have, once again, "fallen short of God's glory!"
7. Revelation - seek the truth- every morning, do nothing but be still and know that the Lord is God. Be still and quiet in your soul. Ask God to reveal to you truth against any roadblocks/stumbling blocks about any relationships, situation, possession, interpretation, feeling or activity that may be blocking you from fulfilling God's purpose in your life. Saturate this time in prayer and Bible reading. Listen intently to the Holy Spirit's admonishment and guidance.
6. Investigation - everyday, take the opportunity to identify and clearly understand your thoughts about surrendering to God. If you haven't given your life to Christ, talk with a minister, or a Christian friend. Read the Bible and ask questions. Get some answers in why we are all alive today, what's our purpose in life, and what does God expect from each of us. You're accountable for your own life and someday when we all get to Heaven, God will ask what we did with His Son, Jesus.
5. Calculation - counting the cost - this is often misunderstood. You cannot live a "surrendered life" and still hold on to the world and its ways. You will need to do some evaluation and calculation. Evaluate what might change if God decides to take what you have surrendered. See Luke 14:33. God owns everything already! If you claim to have surrendered your life to Christ yet still do the same sin (intentionally), you have taken back what you have surrendered. This means you haven't fully surrendered to Him. There are only two choices:
a) Surrender it all!
b) or don't surrender at all!
4. Transformation - think with the mind of Christ - this is one of the most important "spirattitudes (spiritual attitudes)" Christians lack!! Each of us need, with the Holy Spirit's help, Count The Cost! It costs to change. It costs to make sacrifice. Whatever you pleasure yourselves with will be hard to let go. Whatever you're holding on as the most important is called idolatry! If you have problems with candies or other food, give it to the food pantry. If you're addicted to smoking, sacrifice it all in the toilet! If you're greedy, give!
Set your sights on Christ. Ask Him to transform the way you think, talk and act!!
3. Declaration - give up control of your will - whatever habits, hang-ups you may have, tell God that you're willing to throw away your ugly idols (smoking, cussing, gossip, laziness, excuses, busybodies and the list is endless!!)
2. Dedication - surround yourselves with one or more prayer warriors to help you surrender the things that entangles your life.
And the NUMBER ONE COMMITMENT is:
1. Know Christ Through Constant Surrender - it is not merely knowing Christ but knowing Christ in a deeper way (intimately, relationally and as a servant) 1 Corinthians 2:2 Surrender is not a one-time event. It's constant! If you're still living a wavering faith, see your minister or a close Christian friend. Talk to him about your struggles. Confess your sins. If you haven't given your life to Christ by burying it in baptism, don't procrastinate any longer. Your life is precious to God and He wants to bring each of His children home. But the choice is yours today, surrender your all or don't.
It is my prayer that, as you enter the New Year tonight, it will ring true with these ten steps toward a total consecration to God. Don't forget, we're still surrendering everyday!! May God bless 2006!!!
Monday, December 26, 2005
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Proverbs 29:25 (niv)
Fear is such a paralyzing emotion. It robs us of a couple of important life aspects:
- Our vitality...
- Our decision making ability...
- And our strength.
Courage helps us step out of fear's paralysis and turn its' nervous edge into power.
I read an article in the Kansas City Star newspaper about a mother whose daughter is paralized from waist down. Her ordeal happened not long ago. Her daughter, a straight A student in high school happened to be with a couple of her friends. One of her friends was a beginner driver of her own car. The driver ran into a tree and severely injured all the passengers. This daughter, along with other riders, were taken to the hospital. She was in a much worse condition than the others. Her lungs collasped. She slipped into coma. She had major surgery on her vertebrae. Hospital bills kept increasing. Rent hasn't been paid for months. A dire need for medicine and medicinal equipment.
But that wasn't the only thing that kept paralizing the family. A year ago, the 36 year old mother had a heart attack and went through bypass heart surgery. After waking up, she realized that she had a severely degenerative heart disease. It seems one thing led to another and I read the mother's quote:
"I ran out of prayer. I stopped praying to God."
Fear took over. She became paralized by life's crisis: herself and her daughter's. Our life's crisis can take a heavy toll against our faith with God. It will keep pounding and pounding on us until we call it quits. We stop going to church. Fellowship with other Christians is useless. We're experiencing severe spiritual dementia. And it wears us down to the point of paralysis. We begin to feel less and less from God.
We need the courage to overcome our life's crisis. But this kind of courage comes to us fully only when we know that all Satan and his allies can really have of us is our bodies. He cannot take our mind, our attitude, our faith, and most of all, he cannot take our relationship with God given to us through Jesus.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Today we look at another reason why God allows the ungodly to have success - to illustrate by contrast the horror of an eternity without God. I was reading how Spurgeon, one of the commentators, commented:
"Eternal punishment will be all the more terrible in contrast with the former prosperity of those who are ripening for it."
The seeming joy and splendor of the successful and prosperous ungodly will be cast aside by God more awful. You will no doubt remember the story of Haman, who prepared a gallows (for hanging criminals) for Mordecai but finished up by being hanged upon it himself. The ascent to the gallows was an essential ingredient in the terror of the sentence: "Hang him on it!" (Esth. 7:9).
Those who are wicked are being raised up so that all might see how great their fall is. A preacher tells how he read the story of the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16, to a group of young people who were hearing it for the first time. He stopped at the part where Lazarus lay at the gate, the dogs licking his sores, while the rich man ate in splendour in his house, and said: "Which would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus?" With one voice the young people shouted: "The rich man." He then read on, and after telling the story of how both died and the rich man was in torment while Lazarus was carried to Abraham's side, he asked: "Now which would you rather be?" This time they responded more quietly and soberly "Lazarus."
That is the truth the psalmist saw as he sat quietly in the sanctuary of God.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy. "
Psalm 65:8 (nas)
This was actually taken this beautiful cold morning!! The temperature was a record December temp of 13 degrees in Leesburg, Virginia!!! As I gazed out of my front door, I simply forgot how cold it was and just took this awesome display of God!! This brought warmth to my soul and I, as always, know God is powerfully alive!!!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
"We ought to see the world through the lens of the Bible..."
As ministers, we know that "worldview" is important!! But let's not jump into any conclusions here. I'm not done. Worldview is:
1. At the center of how we live.
2. It determines the decisions we make.
3. It determines how we treat the people we love.
4. The emotions we experience throughout the day and the eternal impact we make.
Our worldview forms the “glasses” through which we see the world.
Unfortunately, many people in His church carelessly put together their worldview. The things they were taught as they grew up, the opinions they heard, truths they’ve read in the Bible - all get thrown together into a "worldview soup". Sadly, there are millions of them in the world today. It's brewing on a hot stove. And often, the result is a view of the world that is more theirs than God’s (and yes, we have a little guilt in that, too!).
Therefore, we need the good news. I love good news! The good news is God doesn’t want it to stay that way; he doesn’t want to leave us in the dark. God wants to give us his brain, his optical lenses. Why? So we can see this clearly in the fact that he sent his Son and gave us his Word. God wants us to know him. I believe we will need a stronger foundation. A foundation with the best news. A foundation that's more solid than our opinions or worldview. Not that opinions or worldview are alone worthless, they aren't stable. Yes, they are important helping us weigh the difference between a truth and a lie.
Jude 1:20 says, “But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith.” (nlt)
I have had hundreds of people come up to me asking what my doctrine is. Remember, doctrine means "teachings" or according to Websters, "..a principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief as by a religious group." One of the most common question is, "What does the church of Christ teach (doctrine) about _______?" Or perhaps...
"What does the church of Christ teach about baptism?" "What does the Baptist teach about baptism?" "What does the Catholics teach about baptism?"
"Does the church of Christ have a creed?"
"What does the church of Christ require a soul to be saved?"
These are great questions but I don't have an answer to any of them because there's really no answers. I have answers to the right questions. If I give the right answer to a wrong question, it's like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We'll be beating each other up!! If I give the right answer to the wrong question, I am making whatever the right answer as "the church's; the affiliation's" doctrine (teaching). Hence, my doctrine is different from theirs. And we're divided because we believe and teach differently.
DOCTRINE is what God says. DOCTRINE is what the Bible says. If you're asking me questions, I am going to use the Bible as my only doctrine. Of course, many of you will say, "So are we." Then we move on pushing another "red button" shooting another missile called, "Interpretation". In defense, people bring up a phrase, "Well, that's your interpretation." I am sure there are thousands of interpretations in the world today: how we see the weather, understanding the war, politics...
I'm convinced that we need to continually remind ourselves and all the members of the Lord's church that their view of this world is determined by the foundation that they choose to build their lives on. If they build their lives around making money, they probably have one view of the world. If they build their lives around being popular, then they'll have an entirely different view of what’s happening around them.
Finally, let's step outside of our lives now. You're not "you" anymore. Your body is rid of worldview and interpretations. Let's begin to feed that body with God's Word, the Bible and see what God wants from us (please consider this a very important admonishment):
1. IF YOU KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD, IT HELPS ME KNOW GOD BETTER.
"Listen carefully to wisdom; set your mind on understanding. Cry out for wisdom, and beg for understanding. Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand respect for the Lord, and you will find that you know God." Prov. 2:2-5 (ncv)
If you're living in the world without knowing God, is like driving a car, blindfolded. It doesn’t matter how hard you step on the accelerator or what direction you steer, you keep running into things and you never get anywhere. We need to know God, keep knowing God, and know the truth about God. We cannot grow with God based on our guesses, wishes, assumptions, and wild interpretations. Relationships grow with the truth; not a lie.
2. GROWING IN KNOWING GOD IS AN ESSENTIAL FOUNDATION.
"Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction [doctrine] about washings [baptism] and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” Hebrew 6:1-2 (nas)
Don't you want a foundation that provides the right decisions and the appropriate directions; a foundation that leads us to eternal life? How did you come to learn how to read and write? Knowing your A-B-C's! How did you come to know the truth about G-O-D? By knowing the basic fundamental foundation found in the Bible: Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Baptize, Salvation, and Living.
Well. Without the fundamentals, our lives are at risk. Our joy is at stake. Our families are on the brink of eternal damnation. Our place in eternity may be lost. So why opt for ignorance?
3. THE LIFE-SAVING DOCTRINE OF GOD FEEDS MY SOUL.
"In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following." 1 Tim. 4:6 (nas)
When we hunger for solid food, that's a sign of maturity. We need soild food to sustain us. So doctrine (teachings of the Bible, the brain of God, the voice of God) is solid food for our soul!
This nourishment of our soul doesn't happen in an instance! We have to choose to eat this solid food. We have to chew for a while on some of the truths in the Bible in order to understand them. In Hebrews (5:12-14) we are warned very clearly that if we don’t decide to dig into God’s Word, we’ll remain baby Christians. Baby Christians are believers who always seem to have so many needs that they can never meet the needs of others.
I rather grow than remain a baby. It's embarrassing if I am a 37 year old man wearing diapers. If you stop feeding on God's Word, you're walking on thin ice that's about to break. Without God's Word, your spiritual life will weaken! And that's a fact!
4. KNOWING THE TRUTH IS AN "ANTI-VIRUS" AGAINST ERROR.
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:6–8 (niv)
When you're rooted in the Word of God, the Bible, it will be difficult for anyone to throw you off with a false doctrine.
Let me give you an example, namely cars. I am not good with cars when they go wrong. In order to drive a car, you don’t have to know anything about the engine. The car dealer pops up the hood and say, "Look at that engine!" Nice, but that doesn't tell me whether the car will ride into the horizon for eternity. I know it won't! You just push the gas pedal and the car goes. Likewise, you don’t have to know all of the truths in the Bible to become a Christian. All you have to know and believe is that Jesus loves you, that he died for your sins and that he was buried and that he was resurrected to give you new life.
But let’s get back in your car. Let’s say you’re driving down the street and the car starts to make a horrible sound. You think the sound is coming from the engine but you’re not sure. Spotting an auto repair shop, you pull in and ask a repairman what might be wrong. The repairman tells you, “You need to fill your gas tank with water. That will fix everything.” At that point, even a little bit of understanding about cars would be of great help to you.
The best way to protect yourself against errors of any kind is to know the truth. You can spot a deceiver once you know what the truth is.
5. WE'RE COMMANDED TO HANDLE THE TRUTH.
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 (nas)
How you use the truth depends on how well you know the truth. The Scripture above isn't just for ministers, it's for everyone whom are learning how to, accurately, handle God's Word. God has entrusted us with them.
This is an amazing verse! Paul wrote to the church in Rome urging them not to continue on in sin that God's grace may increase (Ro. 6:1) and that the church remember they surrendered their lives to the Lord: 1. Died to self 2. Buried in baptism 3. Raised in Christ (Ro. 6:2-4). "But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." Romans 6:17 (niv)
We're not to rely on what others are telling us. We're to take the responsibility to study the truth.
6. WE'RE COMMANDED TO LIVE THE TRUTH!
"I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives." (Titus 1:1, NLT)
First of all, before you live the truth, you have to know the truth. And secondly, to know the truth, you must first learn the truth. Depending on your spiritual instincts is not enough (Proverbs 14:12), not if you’ve never taken the time to learn the truth.
7. WE'RE DEFENDERS OF THE TRUTH (AND IT'S A COMMAND)!
"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." 1 Peter 3:15 (nas)
We must always be ready! We must be able to defend the truth of God's Word. We're not going to give in to those who wants to compromise the truth with us. We're not Christians who merely water-down the truth.
"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." 2 Cor. 7:1 (niv)
Keeping those seven reasons for learning doctrine, it's time for us to take a new look at the part doctrine plays in our lives and make a commitment to be a student of God and His truth. Learning God's truth requires alot of work. It won’t be easy. Remember, it's nothing but doctrine: the teachings of God! The work will be worth it. You’ll never regret it.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Jesus gave tons of varieties! Through his conversation with the multitudes. Through his miracles - lame, blind, leperous, "exorcisizing", distant healing, raised Lazarus, changed water to wine, walked on water! Man! Do I need to tell you all those varieties He's done! Not to mention this, an eye-opener, heart-crasher: God raised Him from the dead! Praise God and Amen!
And God, made the world and everything that's in it! Can you count how many of the varieties He's made! There's billions of them that can be found in Google!
And the Holy Spirit! He's my buddy! I love Him! He touches people in billion different ways! From the depth of the sea to the vastness of universe, He touched those who stood in awe of God! He touched them through various ways!
"Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?" Job 38:18-19 (niv)
Here's my wish list to God....
1. That each and every true believer will reach one precious soul and bring him/her to Christ within one year! Then work with that soul through weekly correspondence and monthly outings.
2. That we will devote our lives to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God through corporate bible studies, personal bible studies, daily time of prayers, fasting, constant worship, and small group meetings.
3. Re-examine our daily priorities to make sure we're spending more time with God (among ourselves, our families, our co-workers and the community).
4. Commit to Sunday's corporate gatherings in worship and class (90+% of the time).
Year after year, some of us are prone to giving excuses - forgot to turn on alarm, something else came up, my child didn't want to go to church, it's too far to drive (Jesus didn't have an SUV!), I just don't feel like it, I have this itty-bitty cold and whatever runs through your head. ;) Think about how God feels about this when He really knows it's only a lame excuse. Think about if Jesus said, "I forgot my appointment to suffer for the world cuz I got a bit distracted with..." I don't think so. Jesus went through all this for you and He hears your _____________. So my prayer is that God will bring you up out of the pool of excuses you're wading in and begin your full devotion to Him!
5. Devote more of our finances to God (go through your budget and see where you need to sacrifice in order to give more to God).
6. Grow strong and deep in fellowship through small group meetings (in homes).
7. Determine what my God-given gift(s) are and how I can give God glory with the gift(s).
8. Devote to completing the Purpose Driven Fairfax classes (PDFX 101, 201, 301, 401) during the 2006 year.
9. Be more encouraging, less critical. Be the light of the world, salt of the earth!
10. Memorize at least 12 verses (one verse per month during the 2006 year).
11. Invite member(s) to your home for lunch/dinner.
12. Adore and praise God more during worship through singing, meditation during communion, growing to please God in our worship to Him, attentive to His messages, and remember those in need and praises through prayer.
13. Confess our sins and repent from it!
14. Pray for our leaders, our country and the world (President, Congress, Supreme Court) that they will seek God in their everyday decisions.
15. That the Lord will send someone to bible school to prepare himself and his family for service among the deaf in the world. (Isaiah 6)
Lastly, I know this may be unrealistic but with God, anything is possible for those who ask:
16. Bring in 7 (or more) souls to Jesus next year!
"What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27 (niv)
Monday, December 05, 2005
"Live in harmony with one another." Rom.12:16a (niv)
The New Testament talks a whole lot about the unity of the church than about who goes to heaven and hell. It is God's desire that each and every one of us experience oneness and harmony with one another. Like the beating heart and feeling the pulse, "U-N-I-T-Y" is the heart of fellowship; the pulse that keeps life going. DESTROY IT, you rip the heart and stop the pulse out of Christ's body, the church!
If you are not "united" with one another within His body, the church, you're disfellowshiped from Christ! Without the "fellowship of the body", there's no church. A couple of strong points in the Bible:
God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ONE (united)!
Jesus prayed for UNITY!
The Holy Spirit is the ONE who unites us in LOVE!
God values His church (believers) and sent His Son to pay a heavy price for her!
The church's (believers) responsibility is the PROTECT the UNITY where you FELLOWSHIP!
When a believer distant him/herself from the body, the church, they're hurting Christ! I remember watching a military movie and was impressed with their motto, "Leave No Man Behind; if one goes forward, all go".
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Each believer are called, commissioned by Jesus Christ to preserve the unity and the fellowship among believers. Here are a couple of suggestions that I strongly encourage all believers within His body:
1. Focus on the commonality, not the differences..
God created each of us as unique beings. Each of us are wired differently but we have one thing in common: loving God together! However, the Bible does warn us that there will be people who seeks to destroy the unity of the church through disputes, divisions, differences and distance. God desires interdependence, not independence. There's no "lone-ranger-Christian" but an "army of Christians".
2. Avoid being disillusioned...
People become disillusioned with the church for a couple of "understandable reasons": conflict, hurts, hypocrisy, legalism, neglect, confusion and the list goes on.. However, when we live under tension, manage to go through any conflicts, our maturity grows. Immaturity is when we're always criticizing others. When we're not getting along with others: unloving, unresponsive, lack of communication, lack of mutuality, lack of understanding, and wall-building, it's a sign of divorcing from the body, the church.
But I want to give you a positive response to this to help us avoid disillusionment. Like many businesses asking for workers, "Help wanted! Apply within!", I say this,
"NO PERFECT PEOPLE NEED APPLY"
Church is a place only for those who admit they are sinners; they are open to share their burdens, their hurts, their struggles; a deep need for God's grace in their lives; and hungry to grow in Christ, in relationship, in love, in compassion, and in humility!
CHURCH IS A PLACE WHERE BELIEVERS:
1. Encourage rather than criticize (Rom. 14:4)
2. Avoid troublemakers (Prov. 20:19)
3. Resolve conflicts (Matthew 18:15ff)
4. Support your leaders (ministers and elders) who work hard over you; ensample (Heb. 13:7)
We protect the fellowship; the unity of the church when we honor those who serve us by leading. Ministers and elders need encouragement, support, love and prayers.
5. Consider others better than your own selves (Phil. 2:3)
How warm is the church where you worship and fellowship with? Is she warm with love and understanding for one another? Everyone needs love, genuine love, the love so contagious that you may have to lock the church doors to keep people away!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I would like to forward one of Rick Warren's message on COMMITMENT. I receive his weekly article and found this article that cannot be overlooked.
Every time you raise the standards for leadership, you bring everyone else in the church along a little bit. A rising tide raises all the boats in the harbor.
Focus on raising the commitment of your leadership, not those who are the least committed in the crowd, nor even the semi-committed in your congregation. Whenever you raise the standard of commitment for those who are in the most visible positions of leadership, it raises the expectations among everyone else.
YOU MUST ASK PEOPLE FOR COMMITMENT
One of the most helpful things a church can do for people is:
For many people the barrier to spiritual growth is not lack of commitment, but over-commitment to the wrong things. Jesus pointed this out in the Parable of the Sower: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” (Luke 8:14) People must be taught to make wise commitments.
ASK CONFIDENTLY FOR A BIG COMMITMENT
People want to be committed to something that gives significance to their lives. They respond to responsibilities that gives life meaning. They are attracted by a challenging vision. They want to be a part of something worthwhile.
On the other hand, people are unmoved by weak appeals and pitiful requests for help. Jesus knew this when he said in Luke 14:33, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." His challenge was total commitment.
Some pastors are afraid to ask for a big commitment, fearing that they will drive people away. But people do not resent being asked for a big commitment if there is a great purpose behind it. People respond to passionate vision, not need.
That’s why most stewardship campaigns don’t work: they focus on the needs of the church rather than the vision of the church. If people were really motivated by organizational needs, then every time a need was presented it would immediately be met.
BE SPECIFIC IN ASKING FOR A COMMITMENT
We have developed four covenants that spell out exactly what each of these commitments include: (Mark's note: this is what Saddleback church do to help a new believer understand God's expectation of them. This is especially a very good way to help our new members know where they stand and where they should go from the burial (baptism) toward eternity!)
A Membership Covenant;
A Maturity Covenant;
A Ministry Covenant; and
A Missions Covenant.
Each one is very specific about what is expected and required at that level of commitment. Instead of saying, "Be committed to Christ," explain specifically what that involves.
Explain the personal benefits, the family benefits, the benefits to the Body of Christ and society in general, and the eternal benefits of committing to spiritual growth. People really do have an innate desire to learn, to grow, and to improve.
We challenge people to make a commitment and then grow into it. It’s like choosing to become a parent. Very few couples feel competent to parent before they have their first child. But somehow - after the decision is made and a baby is born - the couple grows into their parenting role.
It is also OK to break big commitments into smaller steps and lead people gradually along. That’s the idea behind our Life Development Process (the baseball diamond).
Let people take baby steps!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, "..and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:19 (niv) This was Paul's third request from the church (people) in Ephesus. He also ask the same request from all of us believers today!
His request is that the believers may know the dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. Did you see that!? "..knowledge-surpassing love.."! He prays that they may be "rooted and grounded in love." (Ephesians 3:17) Not superficial love but genuine. Christians shouldn't simply know God and His Word. Christians shouldn't "act" scholarly.
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Cor 13:2 (niv)
Bingo! We are nothing without love. If we only have knowledge about God but no love for others around your life, we're nothing! If we meditate on His Word but have no regard for others, it means nothing to God!
Two words, "..rooted.." and "..grounded..". I learned something from the two.
- "Rooted" refers to botany, to life.
- "Grounded" refers to architecture, to stability.
The new year will be here in 31 days! It's really hard to believe that! I'm not talking about developing a resolution that tends to be broken. It's about cultivating our hearts. It's about increasing our love for the most reluctant person in the world. It's about throwing away our selfishness! It's about making relationships a top priority. It's about making time for God.
What does God want happening to us as His church?
What areas of my life do I need to work on and improve (in terms of relationships)?
What are things that I am the most stubborn about (hurts, hang-ups or habits)?
How can I be more and more like Christ?
What am I reflecting before the eyes of the world?
What can I do to be a more loving Christian?
I have been praying for some within His congregation at Fairfax and all others in the world who continues to mellow themselves away from the utmost potential God has for them. Only the Holy Spirit can lead a believer into this vast experience of the love of Christ. Since it is infinite, it is beyond human comprehension. Once you comprehend this love of Christ, I will see that you have been filled with all the fullness of God!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
How well are you running the Christian race? At first (their first love for God), they behaved themselves very commendably, had readily embraced the Christlike life and discovered a zealous way walking the Jesus walk and working hard at it. And in their baptism, they have surrendered 'their whole life' to the Lord declaring themselves aloud they are followers of Christ and their behavior was agreeable to the Holy and Eternal Word of God! Are you running well? But there is a problem among Christians today:
"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love." Revelation 2:4 (niv)
Christians simply give up running the race for the crown of life. The life of a Christian is a race, so therefore, the Christian must run and keep on running. It's an eternal marathon with God! We must constantly keep our eye on the prize which is in Heaven. It is not enough that we run the race by merely professing we're a Christian but we "must run well" by living up to what we profess! Thus these Christians may be running the race for a while, then something obstructed their progress to grow and mature, were either turned out of the way or brought up a white flag calling it quits.
So, therefore, Apostle Paul asks us, "..who cut in on you.."? You were running well but now you couldn't hold on in the way! Some of us rather run a mile, 5 miles, or 10 miles. But running a marathon would be too much and time consuming. Paul knew those in the Galatian church. He knew what it was that hindered them. But he threw in a question that only the "quitters" can answer for themselves. And seriously consider if they had any good reason for quitting, for lagging behind, for slowing down? Here are some reasons why they simply quit:
1. They believed in God and surrendered their life to Him (in part) and ran well for a while. Then they started to run out and in bounds, until they allowed things in life to hinder their progresses and turned out of the way.
2. They have become tired after hearing the messages of the Lord over and over. Then allowing stumbling blocks in their way doing nothing to divert from them and avoid the dangers. This is especially important for young converts whom needs to be forewarned.
3. There will be those who will mislead a Christian away from obeying the truth and thereby are in danger of losing the greatest blessings they had done from the start until the turning point.
We are to embrace and profess the truth, the gospel that was preached to us. No matter how often we have heard the greatest stories of God, it's the only true way to find justification and salvation! And this, we must fully obey the form of teaching that God has entrusted us! What do we do with the gospel that was given to us?
1. The truth is not only to be "believed" but to be "obeyed"!
2. We receive the truth in love and grasp the awesome power of it!
3. We need to acknowledge that those who do not rightly obey the truth will be judged by God!
4. Our obeying the truth and embracing it enables us to run well in the Christian race and to persevere through just about any hindrances that comes our way.
When running the race well, we must strip off the "me-centered-mentality" and clothe ourselves daily with the "Christ-centered-mentality". I can give you alot of examples of "me-centered-mentality" but I think you know this mentality very well. Whatever you think or feel that is defending against the truth (yet you believe and love God), is still a "me-centered-mentality".. You do what you feel is best for you (me-centered) instead of doing what is best for God (Christ-centered)!
So how well are you running today?
Friday, November 25, 2005
'Tis the season to be folly!
They pose one tragically foolish action that only mere kids do. It's like fighting over a piece of candy. He was extremely rigid and I could see his veins popping out of his neck. They had to get a couple of men to hold him down to the floor until the police comes. His scream really scared the bystanders, especially kids. I sympathize those kids having to witness such horrible example this adult portrayed. I wouldn't be surprised if those kids that witnessed the incident would probably do the same to their own brothers or sisters at home or even in schools. What's the world getting themselves into?
A couple of things I learned from this:
LACK OF PRESUMPTIONS - when we think we already know it all. "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame." (Pr. 18:13, NIV) This guy gave a punch when all he could do is ask a simple question for the other person's reason. Read the teachings of Jesus here:
"If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic." Luke 6:29 (niv)
Obviously, this guy has his eyes set on one particular item. I was reading the ads from the newspaper of all the items on sale. In the Best Buy ads, they were selling PS2's "Splinter Cell" for $9.99 which is a HUGE BARGAIN!! But they're only selling 18 of them. I was thinking to myself, what if two people arrive at the same time and seeing only one left on the shelf and they're interested in the same thing. Imagine in slow motion, both of them are reaching out as fast as they can. Maybe one of them gave a arm-push on another. Then sparks will fly! I think Best Buy is asking for a whole lot of trouble!!
Here's a couple more...
IMPATIENCE - when you interrupt and jump to conclusions. "There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking." (Pr. 29:20, NLT)
PRIDE - when we are defensive and unteachable. "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." (Pr. 12:15, NIV)
You can learn from anyone if you know the right questions to ask!
'Tis the season to be jolly! We should be "jolly-ful" for having this life, having the most precious relationship with Jesus and knowing we're on our way home to be with the Father. There's nothing else that I want to have but Jesus. There's nowhere else that I rather be than dancing with Him as He sings over me! It's good to have a bargain of goods (and if it's available, even if I don't get my hands on the last box) and we need to understand that these goods don't last forever! They're destined to perish with use and age.
"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." 2 Cor. 5:1, 4 (niv)
The only important goods we need is to be "clothed in Jesus". (Galatians 3:26-27) Are you clothed with an heavenly clothes? This is the most Divine Bargain we cannot miss!!!
Thursday, November 24, 2005
What circumstances do you struggle to be thankful for?
Over a year ago and in the wee morning hours of the night, our middle daughter fell from the top of her bunkbed and landed her mouth on a bookshelf. The pictures of her ordeal is still vivid in my mind. It is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It's a reminder of a lot of things! Really! However, I am so very thankful for living in this time of the world where we have doctors and doctors with technologies! Even if bunkbeds wasn't invented until about a couple of years ago, suppose she fell out of a tree and landed on a rock down below in the 1800's, she probably wouldn't have the original look.
In addition to this, it reminds me of Christ Jesus. Through my daughter's cries, pain, blood and perseverance, I see Jesus! Everytime I think of her ordeal, I think of Christ's. I want to encourage my blog readers that regardless of any circumstances, be thankful, be grateful! And remember, compared to your suffering, Christ's suffered more!
"..in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (nas)
There are alot of verses I want to share with you that we ought to be thankful for today!
1. Thanks for the SALVATION! "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.." Ro. 6:17 (nas)
2. Thanks for our LORD JESUS CHRIST! "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Ro. 7:25 (nas)
3. "..who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;.." Ro. 16:4 (nas)
4. Thanks for the VICTORY IN JESUS! "..but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57 (nas)
5. Thanks for the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS! "He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people's prayers for our safety have been answered." 2 Cor. 1:11 (nlt)
6. Thanks for GOD'S GRACE! "All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory." 2 Cor. 4:15 (nlt)
7. Thanks for the AWESOME GIFT! "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Cor. 9:15 (nas)
8. Thanks for the UNCEASING THANKS! "..do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;.." Eph. 1:16 (nas)
9. Thanks for ALL THINGS IN CHRIST'S NAME! "..always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;.." Eph. 5:20 (nas)
10. Thank you, God, FOR ALL BELIEVERS! "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,.." Col. 1:3 (nas)
11. Thanks for the INHERITANCE WE HAVE IN HEAVEN!"..giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.." Col. 1:12 (nas)
12. Thanks for the BELIEVER'S LOVE IN ACTION!"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Col. 3:17 (nas)
13. Always GIVE THANKS IN PRAYER! "We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.." 1 Thess. 1:2 (nas)
14. Thanks for the BELIEVER'S GROWTH AND MATURITY! "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;.." 2 Thess. 1:3 (nas)
15. Give Thanks IN SHOUTS OF PRAISE! "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." Heb. 13:15 (nas)
16. Thanks to the ONE WHO LIVES FOREVER AND EVER! "And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,.." Rev. 4:9 (nas)
17. Thanks to the ONE WITH GREAT POWER AND AUTHORITY AND DOMINION! "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign." Rev. 11:17 (nas)
So, regardless of our circumstances, there's still something to be thankful for: GOD!
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."1 Thessalonians 5:18 (niv)
Paul knew that he could trust God. Paul counted on Him to come through because God had always come through for Paul. I think it's interesting when one author wrote in one of the books I have read, "You see, there's a money-back guarantee on every promise of God!" Behind every promise of God is the perfect and flawless integrity of God.
"I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your promises are backed by all the honor of your name." (Psalm 138: 2, NCV)
Our Father allows us to go through trials, giving us the opportunity to rest on His promises while choosing the attitude of gratitude in the midst of those trials! When we choose gratitude, we are choosing joy! When our heart is fixed on gratitude we are choosing praise, enthroning God in the midst of the circumstance. Our praise prepares a place for Him to dwell and reside. No matter how deep the valley – no matter how painful the wound – no matter how difficult the road – our choice to praise Him is an invitation for Him to come. And when He comes, everything changes.
"But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel." (Psalm 22:3, NLT)
It is easy to choose gratitude when the seas are calm, the skies are clear and the boat is full of fish! But the real test of gratitude accompanies the greatest storms of life, that's why Jesus took His followers out to sea to test them! Gratitude realizes that God is sovereign and rests in the knowledge that His ways are not our ways. It is not necessary for us to understand His process in order to trust His heart. Gratitude is a learned choice made by the heart that seeks God. When gratitude becomes our heart habit we will naturally trust Him more and live with a sense of anticipation, knowing that He is constantly at work in and around us.
When we choose to fill our hearts with gratitude, it makes life sweet! Make gratitude a habit!
Monday, November 21, 2005
Here are some freeze frames of the 40 Day Celebration, "SURVIVOR PARTY" we had last weekend! It was one fun-crazy event!!!!
40 Days Celebration participants having a BLAST!!!!
Cario Stewart and Jack Mitchiner aims their rubber bands at their target!
Eric Tomas shot one of hundred bands! He managed to get to the top three, along with teammate, Ben Martin, and won!
Matt Sickon prepares for a rubber-band shootout!
40 Days Kids all smiles!!!
SURVIVOR PARTY TEAM #1: Brenda, Neil, Mark, Kenny & Cario
SURVIVOR PARTY TEAM #2: Tim, Kathy, Helena, Sara, Steve, Ricky & Jack
SURVIVOR PARTY TEAM #3: Aracelis, Mel, Robin, Michelle, Ben, Evan & Eric
SURVIVOR PARTY TEAM #4: Darrin, Fred, Christy & Matt (Not pictured: Nancy & Jane)
And a very, very special thanks to our "SURVIVOR PARTY" organizer, Bev Young, with special help from the ladies': Kathy Flavin, Holly Morris, Christy Pomnitz and Michelle Lowenstein...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
"Worry is a darkroom where negatives are developed!"
I laughed and said, "How true!!!!"
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:27 (niv)
If you're in a "darkroom", get out before Satan develops the "negatives" out of you!!!
Mark Lowenstein reading Revelation 7 before singing praises to God!
Jose Abenchuchan, guest speaker from Jacksonville, Florida, preaching, "Fearless Faith". He talked about how most of the members of the churches in the world fail to be the light of the world, salt of the earth and seed-bearers!! Christians do not share their faith out of fear of losing friends, fear of lack of knowledge of explaining why they believe in Him, why they are a Christian, lack of time spend in sharing the gospel with others, and reluctant of sharing the good news because of many rejections from others. Jose went on to say that God charged us to be seed-bearers with "FEARLESS FAITH"! If you missed this lesson, you missed the conviction of the Holy Spirit!
There are brotherly and sisterly hugs visible throughout the conference!
Mark Lowenstein led the congregants to praising God singing, "A New Anointing"!
Jose Abenchuchan challenged the members to make a commitment to go and bring in "ONE SOUL" to Christ and work with that soul (teaching, admonishing, coaching, nurturing, loving, supporting). (Above) Jose lights Bev Young's candle then asked God to bless her as she makes the commitment.
Jose lights Jack Mitchiner's candle then asked God to bless him as he reaches "ONE" for Christ!
A room filled with Sunday's small groups discussing the 40 Days material: MINISTRY.
We closed the 40 Days conference on a high note! Jose challenged the members of the Lord's church to minister others within His Body! There were no dry eyes during this special time and many hearts were crushed knowing of their sins and their lack of awareness that each of us were shaped to serve God!
Please pray for others who couldn't be with us during this special time. They truly missed out God's best for their lives. Not only the weekend was a time to feel God's refreshing Spirit being poured out onto us but also when we come together every week to be fed with God's eternally powerful Word helping us grow and be mature saints of God.
In Christ Alone!
"For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (nas)
Yes! We were very surprised it happened to us, especially in this nice neighborhood AND after living here for over a month!. It's really interesting here.. We have always wanted to clean our vehicles. But we procrastinated this for so long. Until a couple of young boys whom the police caught them rummaging around our vehicles gave us the most perfect time to clean the vehicles. No, they didn't capture these brute thieves. Remember, Satan is still out there!
I want to share with you an interesting parallel from reality to spirituality:
1. Who is the thief in a spiritual realm? Satan! Always, always beware of him!
2. Read John 10:10.. Satan lures us into the trap (sins) and destroys us!
3. The very soul we have may be ransacked by Satan himself. Disappointing? Yes. But look to the person who gives us life, Jesus Christ.
4. Repent from your sins (clean up your life).
5. Enjoy the Lord's favor (we're enjoying a clean car!!)
Really, the loss is our gain! "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ..." Philippians 3:8 (niv)
I love this verse!!! Whatever I have doesn't give me eternal life! When it comes to Oakleys, it a costly loss. I actually lost an Oakley. It is in the bottom of the sound (ocean inlet) at Outer Banks, NC. Two Oakleys are a costly loss. But that's ok. There's more to life than these losses. When it comes to loss of home, job, or a life, it is my prayer that God will remind us that these losses are nothing compared to the "SURPASSING GREATNESS OF KNOWING CHRIST"! Is God playing mind games with us? I think not!
Materialism doesn't make you right with God.
Wealth doesn't make you right with God.
Having a perfect earthly family doesn't make you right with God.
All these things are destined to rot and perish. They don't last forever. It is our Lord Jesus Christ that makes you right with God! That lasts forever!
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Please pray about this, first, before you give me your input. Seek His guidance. Read His Word and meditate on a verse whether it's missional, serving, edifying, and others.
Don't forget, bloggers!! Jose and Kathy Abenchuchan will be coming to D.C. for the MISSIONDC, a 40 Day conference this weekend starting this Friday night!! I believe this will be a great conference, not that it's entertaining but informative to equip each of us to be fishers of men!
Keep on dreaming God's dream, blogfriends!!
So I want to challenge you to dream great dreams for God.
Open your Bible and read Ephesians 3:20, especially the Living Bible, "God is able to do far more than anything we would ever dare to ask or even dream of, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes."
Awesome! Only God can provide us a vision or goal that we never have thought of! That’s an amazing verse. It is as if God says, "I want you to think up the biggest thing you think I can do:
- In your life (not what you want happening the way you want but the way God wants.)
- In your ministry (areas that brings Christ in your community)
- In your church (edifying the body and bringing unity between one another)
Find something that God can do through you that you will not fail to do. Think about this. God gave each of you a gift to perform for His glory. Examine yourselves and the gift God gave you. Then let that expand your horizons. Let it expand your dreams. Let it expand your vision into God’s unlimited vision for your ministry.
But how do you find God’s vision for your ministry? A couple of things:
God always reveals His vision for your ministry. But that's only if you're attentive to His plan, providence and power! When He reveals it, the first thing He shows you is HIS WHAT. He shows you what He’s going to do. I believe it is normal for us to make mistakes once we start out doing a ministry for God - once God has shown you what He’s going to do in your life and ministry – is to immediately run out and assume we can accomplish it any way we wish.
I often make mistakes like this trying to do anything under my own power, my own way, my own efforts. Eventually, we'll be burned out and fall flat on our face trying to figure out what went wrong! Don't take this as a means of coming to the point of a failure but a turning-point, a detour! It's an opportunity to wake up and crawl back to God for His power, His way, and His efforts.
Where is the vision? What's our goal as a church? Where are we going from there? What's the purpose of coming together? Often, churches in the world lack spiritual strength and stability because they don't have a goal, vision, purpose or a dreaming God's dream! I strongly recommend that every church in the world develop a vision/goal, with God's help, to strive and reach for. Once we have reach the goal, we re-group and develop another goal. We're building layers of goals by layer toward eternity!
God’s HOW is always in the exact opposite way that you thought. You say, “I’ll grow the church this way.” And God will say, “No, let’s do it MY way” - because He wants the glory. We need to do it according to His pattern.
Once you see the HIS WHAT and HIS HOW you’re still not finished. There's another part of the vision - God shows you WHEN.
The longer I walk with the Lord,
and the longer, I'm in ministry,
the more I'm convinced that God’s timing is perfect.
He is never early; He is never late; He is always and precisely right on time. And His timing is as important as the WHAT and HOW of His vision. You must wait for ALL THREE PARTS for God to work in your life.
That's why I am very excited about re-grouping with some of my fellow brothers and sisters next year to discuss Fairfax Church of Christ's Deaf Ministry's vision/goal for the year of 2006 and beyond. We need, with God's help, to implement one. Once we have a vision set up, printed, displayed, and visible, I pray that God's will: HIS WHAT, HIS HOW AND HIS WHEN be done among His church! It's very important that we instill the vision we have for God in our hearts blended in with constant time of prayer and watching God mightily work within His church!
Dream God's Dream For His Glory!!!
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Remember this: when we're fishing for people, we're required to try and test each bait that will produce a bite. Not everyone will accept the same "method of evangelism" you provide. You cannot use the same "method" to every person you meet. Everyone comes in different forms of personalities, traits, backgrounds, interests. You don't talk about Physics with a sports fan. You don't talk about fishing with a ballet dancer. We need to find a common ground - something that is of interest to them. We are to fit ourselves in and learn just about everything a prospect has experienced.
I want to express all that had happened last week!! I am so proud of the church family for jumping in and taking part of a mission to help one of our members of the church. I believe God provided an "Acid Test" on His children at Fairfax. He's not done and will continue to do more tests. I often take over the role as a "caretaker". But the more the church has grown, the more work I will have to do for the Lord alone. I sense God's calling last week after receiving an urgent email on Halloween day. I wasn't sure what to do but went to the Lord and asked for His favor. He provided me one right away by saying as it seems, "Use my children!" So I sent an email out asking some of the members close by or without children who may be willing to help. A couple of them jumped in with a heart to give while one is much more than willing to go and provide for the person on the spot with the gift we gave. For this reason, I praise God for those who have used their time and love by giving to such person in great need.
Today, we talked about Matthew 25:35-39: "And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' "Then those "sheep' are going to say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?'"This is a teaching Jesus taught about the sheep and goats and those who provided for and those who didn't. Our mission is to provide for those in great need. How many people in the world are in great need? I can't count because there are so many of them whom are literally paralized with fear of change, fear of being in the wrong "religion" or "church", fear of getting hurt when they have been hurt daily in the world, fear of isolation from the family of God (are we neglecting our own brothers and sisters in need?) and many other fears that paralizes them!
We're on a Mission.. Yes! Even on a Mission within the body of Christ in effort to build His body, the Church. "May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God." Ephesians 3:19 (nlt) There are people within His body and outside struggling with the fear of change, hurt, isolation and many more. They clam up with fear. Often, they deny that they have a problem. But we must capture such thought (denial, arrogance, arguments) and make it obedient to Christ: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (niv)
"Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us." 1 John 4:18 (nlt)
Our Mission, "THE "M" WORD", is to bring the PERFECT LOVE, namely Jesus, into every living soul on earth! This, PERFECT LOVE, will sweep away the fear each person has in his/her hearts!
God loves those who takes action, who is on a MISSION!
"..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.." Philippians 1:6 (niv)
Friday, November 04, 2005
Jesus came from the Heaven to earth with One Ultimate Goal: To save the world from sin! When He was 12 years old, his parents found him in a temple preaching the Word to a group of religious fanatics. They were in awe of the young mind and how He attains such infinite wisdom! But Jesus' mission wasn't over. He continued on through life with compassion, with simple messages and stories about God, life, death and eternity. 21 years later, He cried, "It is finished!" and died, crucified on the cross. The mission His Father gave Him was done!
“In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.” John 17:18 (Msg)
Remember, each and every person that believes in Him are co-heirs (partners) with God! So we have a great responsibility, a privilege to specifically share our life's mission. How did you come to know God? How did God, through the Word, change your life? How did you change from the worst to God's best?
JESUS COMMANDS US TO CONTINUE THE MISSION HE LEFT US
It's a command, not a suggestion! In Matthew 28:18-20, He commanded us to go and, #1 MAKE DISCIPLES (bring those in the world to be followers of Christ), #2 BAPTIZE THEM (immerse them), #3 TEACH THEM (teach them the whole will of God, not some). He calls us not ONLY to come to Him but also to GO for Him. Really, the Matthew 28 passage indicates a REQUIREMENT. It is MANDATORY! Not an option. We really don't have an excuse that we're unable to do it. It is not merely a responsibility of a minister but every follower of Christ. The people in the world will know Jesus through Christians.
YOUR MISSION IS A GREAT PRIVILEGE
It is a sure honor to serve our Living God! We're actually "employees of God" and we're representing Him. God doesn't want us to think we're a "salesman for God" trying to sell His products in a heartless way in order to gain a "crown of life". It is a privilege, the most outstanding one!
YOUR MISSION IS THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR OTHERS
Rick Warren quoted, "If your neighbor had cancer, or AIDS, and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse would be to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace, and eternal life. We have the greatest news in the world and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone." I totally believe when we share the good news that we have the best remedy for our sins and the sins in the world through Christ, the church will become awesomely contagious.
I want to share with those who have been a Christian for a long time. I applaud those who continue to walk with Jesus and still keep God's mission a top priority in their lives by reaching out to those who need Jesus. But there's a problem. One problem is that a long-term Christian will forget how hopeless it felt to be without Christ. This is similar to those who were raised in a Christian family may have never experienced the devastation sin has on them. They know "of sin" and understand that sin separates them from God. Probably without remorse, they acknowledged it all and accept Christ. It is easy to be classified a Christian, on the outside, but God is more interested in the heart. Everybody needs Jesus (period)!
YOUR MISSION HAS ETERNAL IMPORTANCE
Whatever the impact you make on others in the world is far more important and more recognized than any job, achievement, or goal that you have accomplished on earth. The ultimate question is: WHAT'S YOUR MISSION? What have you done with the Matthew 28 command? Is it in the trash? Is it swept under the rug? Has it simply become a bookmark? Perhaps, you may just be aware of it but haven't put it into action?
Life is NOTHING unless I use it to work for our great Lord Jesus Christ which is the work of telling others the good news about Jesus! If your mission comes to a standstill because you're too busy, you're distracted, you're too critical about certain things in the Bible, you don't know how, you may be lazy then you've wasted the life God gave you on earth!
My suggestion is to just bring one person to Jesus a year and teach that particular person before moving on to the next. If 15 family members of Jesus bring in one, we may have added another 15 family members. Take only one at a time and watch God do the rest!
You weren't placed on earth to do nothing or to live for yourselves. God is inviting you again to participate in the greatest job in the Universe, "..seek and save what is lost." So what's your mission?
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Allow me to share Rick Warren's comments in connection with our study on Discipleship which will begin tomorrow morning!
You were planned for God’s pleasure: That’s called worship.
And you were formed for a family, that’s called fellowship.
Here’s the third reason God made you: you were created to be like Christ, that’s called discipleship.
God made you to transform you into a likeness of his son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Romans 8:29, “From the very beginning, that those who came to him, and all along He knows who would, should become like His son, so that His son would be the first of many brothers.” Now this is not God’s new plan B. It’s been God’s plan from the very beginning of time.
God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do. He’s far more interested in your being than in your doing. A lot of people ask, “What is God’s will for my life in my job or my career?” Do you know what - you could probably have 2 dozen different careers and God would say that’s fine. God is more interested in your character, and I’ll tell you why - you’re not taking your career into eternity, but you are taking your character.
So God’s goal here on earth is more about what you become than what you do because it’s what you become that you take into heaven. One of the biggest questions we ask ourselves over and over is, “Why is this happening to me? Why did this happen? Why do I have this problem in my life?” The answer is always the same, if you’re a believer.
To make you like Jesus.
If God is going to make you like Jesus Christ, then He’s going to take you through everything Jesus went through:
Was there anytime when Jesus was lonely? Yes.
Was there anytime when Jesus was tempted? Yes.
Was there anytime when Jesus was unpopular? Yes.
Went without basic needs? Yes.
Was there ever a time in Jesus’ life when things did not make his life comfortable? Absolutely.
Why do you think God would spare you those things? The Bible says Jesus learned obedience through suffering. The Bible says in Hebrews, that Jesus was made perfect – mature - through suffering. What makes you think you’d be any different? What makes you think God would spare you from something He did not spare His own Son from?
If He’s going to make you like Christ, He’s going to take you through everything Jesus went through. God produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life by putting you in the exact opposite situation.
If God wants to teach you real love, does He put you around a bunch of lovely people just like you? No, if God wants to teach you real love, He’s going to put you around some unlovely people. It’s easy to love people like you. You like yourself.
How does God teach you peace? You’re sitting at home when everything’s perfect and the kids are quiet, and you’re making a lot of money? No. He puts you in a traffic jam. Peace is learned in chaos, in a crisis.
How about patience? God puts you in lines. Ever been to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)? That’s the number one way God makes you more patient.
There is no problem you can’t grow from if you’ll learn the right response. You become like Jesus. This is God’s third purpose for your life. Becoming like Christ is called discipleship.