Friday, July 21, 2006

Buried In The Lord

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4 (niv)

Indeed! Rejoice, everyone, for Hailey Schmidt gave her life to the Lord in baptism. Now, she is clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), buried her old life in the Lord (Romans 6:1-4), now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3), added to their number (ekklessia, the church: Acts 2:41), a washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and a pledge of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21)!!

It was Christ that removed the sinful nature from her life, not the water, not through us nor through Hailey's "work" for no one can earn salvation and it's a free gift of God! It was done by Christ and Christ Only! "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raise with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:11-12 (niv)

Welcome to the family of God, Hailey! We love you!! Rejoice!!


Time to shift our thinking, people! Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports and even fast food. Most of our clothes we wear today and most of what we ate were produced in another country. We're more connected to the world than we realize. News travel super fast via internet!

I'm really glad to be alive today in this world, and you should be, too! It's really exciting to watch people go through life, including mine, my family and those in His church. It's interested to see what we get out of our struggles, the troubles we endure, and the frustrations we experience. And they share how they have overcome with God's help and faith! Problems comes and goes. There's always a time when God helped us overcome them and a time when we're still struggling and will overcome. It is more interesting to see pride and arrogance be reduced to dust through the power of prayer! It's awesome to see people with joy go out into the world and share the good news about Jesus.. However, we must expect rejection and refusal to experience a life-changing experience from people we meet.

In the Purpose Driven Life book, "Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world. People may refuse our love and reject our (His) message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like an intercontinental missile, you can aim a prayer at a person's heart whether you are ten feet or 10,000 miles away. What should you pray for? The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness, for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers. Prayer makes you a partner with others around the world."

Right!! When you pray, you trust that God will do just about anything He will! He knows the heart you're praying for. He sees the heart. In the military, namely the Air Force, they have the technology to bring the missile to a very specific location. They do not fire aimlessly. The Apache helicopter or a jet fixes their laser onto a specific target by looking at an image with a "cross". As the laser beams it's P.O.D. (Point Of Destination), the missile that was launched from elsewhere and reaches to its' P.O.D. completely destroying it! It's almost flawless!

The same goes with our prayers!!! When we pray for a person, about a certain incident, a country, and thousands to thousands of other possibilities, our prayer is like a laser fixing its' laser beam on a certain P.O.D. (person and position). God, when He wills it, sends a missile of miracle (M.O.M.) to the P.O.D. we have our hearts fixed on! The people and other situation we're praying for are defenseless against the MOM's of God!

If you don't pray, there's no P.O.D.'s or M.O.M.'s! Take the time to pray so that the prayer missiles will launch and rain down from "Heavenfire" pods in heaven!

"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37 (niv)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Simple Message

Today, I read a cute story that was sent to me from one of my dear sister in Christ. It was a story about four different churches, each one have the similar problems being infested with squirrels. The Presbyterian church called a meeting and they all agreed not to interfere with the squirrels for they were "predestined" to be in the church. There were two other churches that had problems with squirrels and how they solved it. But the one that caught my eye is this:

"The Baptist church came up with the best and most effective solution. They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter."

Michelle and I met with a wonderful couple last Sunday for lunch. We talked about alot of things in a short time before one of our daughter's appointment at 1 p.m.. While I was talking with the husband, Michelle talked with the wife. The wife asked Michelle where one of the lady that was recently baptized go. And what about others who were baptized this past year and the year before?? She asked a good question, "I thought, once they were baptized for the forgiveness of sins, they commit their whole life to God. But they aren't "committed" so does that mean that "baptism" isn't effective in changing a person's life?" Michelle explained that it's not the "baptism" that has the power, it's God through His Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Of course, we all must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins according to the Scriptures (Acts 2:36-38; Acts 22:16; Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16). It's the person's heart, it's the individual's responsibility. Satan preys on souls whom recently renewed their life with God; who was recently regenerated and reconciled! Michelle went on to tell her the parable of the Sower. There will be people who received the Word of God, the good news about Jesus, and the realization of their sins and separation from God. But that realization may either last a short time or for eternity! Here's the parable Jesus spoke about to His Disciples and the crowd:

"When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path." Matthew 13:19 (niv)

Jesus referred the "path" as the "hearts" of people. But the path is hard. If you throw a single seed on a hard path, you can clearly see it. This person does not understand the good news we're sharing about Jesus Christ.

I met (and continue to meet) alot of people with this kind of heart. They resist the idea that Jesus is divine. They do not want to be under His control. They don't care. They don't have the time to be a Christian. They may believe in God but they have priorities and are called, "Superficial Christians". You can tell by their lack of interest in talking about the good news we have in Christ! Such a person is nothing but a dead and dry thing!

The next two places are extremely popular in the deaf community and His church!

"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. " Matthew 13:20-21 (niv)

We have had alot of people whom have received the Word of God with joy!! Such heart is a wishy-washy one. It lasted only a short time. I have baptized 8 to 10 people in the last 2-3 years and these 8 quickly fell away from God. After countless encouraging emails, they simply fell off the face of the earth. It was because they weren't "rooted" in God when they first believed in Him. They had something else in mind. It was labeled on the rocks that lie in the very foundation of their life. Then trouble came and their roots dried up and their soul withered away. A rock can be identified as such a person who hops from one church to another due to doctrinal issues and the likes. One rock may be a pressure from friends, spouse or co-workers. Another rock may be "doctrinal pains". Another rock may be losing friends. Yet, another rock may be lack of satisfaction. There are many rocks with labels! Forget the rocks. Take it away from the foundation (Jesus) you're standing on. You cannot have both rocks (worry over problems) and Jesus together.

" that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,.." Ephesians 3:17 (niv)

'..rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.." Colossians 2:7 (niv)

"Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." Luke 7:23 (niv)

"The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful." Matthew 13:22 (niv)

Another popular problem among God's precious souls are those who worry too much. I had several people who seems to come seeking financial support. After all the support we gave and their lifegiving sacrifice to God, they, once fruitful, became unfruitful. It was after they got all the help from the church (the church cannot always continue to give financial support to all the people in need), then they quickly leave for another church or people seeking financial stability. Such thing chokes God out of their life! They allowed "worry" and "wealth" to be their lord! They sought the wrong ruler.

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23 (niv)

Very few people have excellent soil (hearts). Every night, I go outside to water the grass. I have this "sprinkler" with a sharp stake to put in the ground. It's very hard to push the stake into the ground because alot of my ground is extremely hard. It took me time to locate a good area of soil to fully push the stake in. Since I am unable to see a good soil in the ground from where I stand, God knows who is living their life with a good heart!

This is a very simple message of Christ Jesus, first to His Disciples, the people around him and us! We've had many souls who came to Christ then quickly fell away. Like Peter walking on water toward Jesus, their eyes quickly loses its focus on Christ with a focus on the issues in the world around them. Then they fall prey due to either a hard heart (path), or a "wishy-washy heart" (rocky) or a worry-infested heart (thorns). You know your own heart and where you stand! Listen to God as He speaks to you through the Bible!

"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." Revelation 14:12 (niv)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rick Springfield

Michelle and I went to "Live At Belmont" for the "Rick Springfield" concert last night. Even though, it was extremely hot and humid but it was awesome!! We were in the "Gold C" section where only 400 people are able to sit directly in front of the stage. And there were thousands of people around us. We were on the second row to the left of the stage but could clearly see Rick.

Rick has been my favorite musician since the early 1980's. Some of you may know him as an actor in a daytime soap opera called, "General Hospital".

Rick came down to mingle around with the crowds. We just didn't think he would do that. He does have alot of guts to go down there where all of his screaming fans were dying to get their hands on him. There were people swarming all over him. Here's Michelle with Rick in the background.

Here's another picture of me with Rick in the background. Though I attended his concert in Salina, Kansas with my friend, Jon, way back in the 80's, we sat on a second level and could only see him from a distance. Until last night, he was extremely close to us.

He sang my all-time favorite songs: Jessie's Girl, Human Touch, I've Done Everything For You, Don't Talk To Strangers, Rock of Life, Bop 'Til You Drop, Affair Of The Heart, What Kind Of Fool Am I, State Of The Heart, and many more.. I forgot alot of his words but I do know alot of his choruses!

Here's another picture of Rick. He was standing right in front of us! Then he left to go to another side and jumped out of the "Gold C" section and ran around to greet his fans. Then he jumped back into the "Gold C" section and walked up to me to give me a "high five"!! Well.. I had my hand held up high and we missed the contact then he put his hand back up and finally got a contact and patted his sweaty back.. Ewwwww.. I asked Michelle, "Would you like to smell this??" We had a great time, together!! That was the most important of the whole concert, being with Michelle!! Rock on, Rick!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Unforgivable Sin

My sister-in-Christ sent me an email asking for an explanation of Matthew 12:31-32 in which Jesus talked to the stubborn, ignorant and hardened-hearted group of people about "Unforgivable Sin". Instead of answering directly to her, I thought I'd share the questions I receive via email in my blog so that everyone may see them and share in them.

They just witnessed a miracle of a demon-possessed, blind and mute man. Jesus healed him so that he could both talk and see. (Matthew 12:22-23) We talked about this a couple weeks ago during our Wednesday night class with our intern, Brian Baell. It was a good class and we discussed alot of things surrounding this topic. A valuable lesson cannot be missed and you just never know what you're missing out week by week. Allow me to show you the Scripture:

"And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man (Jesus) will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Matthew 12:31-32 (niv)

While there are so many explanation from this Scripture, I found this one a good explanation of this Scripture... It was written by Gary Colvin from Colorado:

"Most of us have heard about the "unforgivable sin." A few are even concerned that they might be guilty of it. Jesus introduced the idea of such a sin 2,000 years ago when He said: 'so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven... either in this age or in the age to come.' (Matthew 12:31-32)

Jesus spoke these ominous words to a group of hardened unbelievers who had just witnessed Him work a great miracle. Christ had instantly healed a man who was hopelessly blind and mute. Not even the unbelievers could deny the miracle, but they tried to discredit Jesus by attributing his miraculous power to Satan.

The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus to work miracles, but when the obstinate unbelievers attributed that power to Satan, they crossed the line of Divine Tolerance. They committed the only unforgivable sin mentioned in the Scripture.

That terrible sin cannot be committed today. Jesus no longer walks on earth working such miracles, and humans no longer see His miracles and attribute them to Satan. In fact, the age of such miracles ended with the passing of the apostles of Christ.

Blind unbelief still abounds in the world, but every sin is forgivable if we repent and come to Jesus. Humans are capable of terrible sins, but no sin is greater than Christ's ability to forgive. The grace and atoning sacrifice of the Savior of mankind is more powerful than any human sin."

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18

Thanks, sis!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


The Lord taught us that good intentions do not justify wrong actions. Worship that feels right may not be right. God has a prescribed way for us to praise Him.

First, our praise must be "through Jesus Christ."

Apart from Him, I am nothing! I am miserably separated from God. We must understand that God will not accept the works we do for Him, our attempts to obey His commands, countless prayers and our singing to the Lord without our Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts. It is the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ that brings eternal relief to our hopeless condition. It is through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ whom reconciled me to Himself and to His Father. Now, God accepts me (and all of you who have believed, repented of your sins, confessed Jesus is Lord, baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and daily walk with Jesus) as holy, without blemish and free from guilt.. What an awesome thing! As long as I am walking with Jesus everyday, I am forever rooted in Christ! He's my High Priest! He's my Sacrificial Lamb! He's my Savior and Lord. He's the Ruler of all my life and I surrender my life to Him. And each of us ought to do the same!! He is my Righteousness. He's the Holy One. He's my Prince of Peace. He's the Mighty God. He is my Intercessor, the One who pleads my case before Holy God. All that I offer (in my praise to Him) to God is acceptable in and through Him.

Awesome, huh? He's the reason why we praise Him. Isn't that encouraging? Have you ever felt that you just couldn't praise God as well as other people, sing as well, or be as free in your expression of worship? Lift up your hearts to God! If you come to God through Christ, your offerings are perfectly accepted. Your songs are beautiful, your words of praise are treasured, and your heartfelt gratitude rises toward heaven as an aroma pleasing to Him.

Second, we must remember that praise is a sacrifice, a giving of something that is valuable.

In the book of Malachi, the Lord came to Israel and rebuked them for showing contempt for His name. If He came to Israel thousands of years ago and rebuked them for the way they failed to worship God, could He do so in our worship to Him. How often have we failed to worship God? Israel was puzzled. They asked God a question, "How have we shown contempt?" One way was by placing defiled food on the altar, and bringing blind, lame, and sick animals for sacrifice (Malachi 1:6-8). Now, this is interesting here.. We do not bring a "blind, lame or sick animals" to God for sacrifice. Israel gave God something that wasn't important to them. They gave God the least, not the best. And God wouldn't accept it. Think of it, now, when we come before God, what are we robbing from God? We rob God by giving Him our heartless praise. You may come to God though you feel it's not important to you. Probably show up in church because you have nothing to do or maybe you need company. When we give back to God in offering, suppose you have two bills, one dollar bill and 20 dollar bill. You decided to give God the one dollar instead of the twenty. That's what Israel did in the old days. Not only does this apply to our monetary offering, it applies mainly what our hearts offer..

Matthew Henry continues the thought:

"If we worship God ignorantly, and without under-standing, we bring the blind for sacrifice.
If we do it carelessly, and without consideration, if we are cold, and dull, and dead, in it, we bring the sick.
If we do not make heart-work of it, if we suffer vain thoughts and distractions to lodge within us, we bring the torn (lame).”

Strong words, huh? Is that happening in your hearts? Are you coming before God ignorantly (blind), or cold and dull (sick) or in vain and with distractions (torn)? It's a good reminder of the reverence we owe to God. I have sometimes caught myself singing thoughtlessly and offering prayers that were repetition (meaning you haven't really taken the time to find words to express your thankfulness to the Lord but merely saying the same old phrase day by day, week by week), approaching God with coldness, boredom of heart. Day after day, I must ask the Lord to magnify Himself in my sight. I need to see His matchless beauty again, so that my offerings are a fitting response to His great worth.

Finally, praise that is acceptable is the fruit of our hands (ASL), evidence of hearts warmed by the reality of an intimate, vital relationship with Christ.

An unknown author wrote in regards to worship: "Worship is the submission of all our nature to God, the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of mind by His truth, the purifying of imagination by His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, and the submission of will to His purpose. All this, gathered up in adoration, is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.”

"That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever." Psalms 30:12 (niv)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sheep Thieves & Wolf Poison

I must admit that I get tired having to deal with people who loves to "steal" and "poison". During my waking hour this morning, it seems as if the Spirit was talking to me about all the people in the D.C. community. Often, I just want to escape from them who seek to "compete" against us that they have the "truth" and we are people who have apostated from it.

Jesus often use the "sheep" and "wolf" metaphor in his daily teaching to His Disciples. It seems that Jesus faced the religious leaders such as the Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, and Zealots everyday! They challenged Him, pricked Him, accused Him, and stabbed His back by telling other people He's not the Messiah the Jews have been looking for. But that didn't stop the Jews because they saw something different about Jesus: He cared for people, He listened to people, He healed people and He gave people hope!

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues." Matthew 10:16 (niv)

I don't know about you but that's what we're experiencing today! We're being accused that "baptism isn't for the forgiveness of sins." and many other phrases people use against us. How can I agree to that? I can't! Most of these negative phrases, which I call, "Words Of Stone" comes from the hands (ASL) of other religious people in our area. They throw stones at us for teaching this. I can see that the "majority" of the deaf churches in our area believe that a person can accept Jesus in his/her heart and be saved and that "baptism" is just to show that they're committing their life to serve God. Though, I don't see such quote in the Bible, I cannot agree with that. If they believe in that, then that's their belief. If we believe in what we believe, then that's what we believe in what the Bible says.

There are places in the D.C. area that worships God in the way you believe. If you find that such a place supports your belief, that's great! It's a place where unity grows a strong church. And only God is the Judge of all living and all who come before Him in worship.

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." John 10:1-5 (niv)

This happens alot!! There are people who comes into the Lord's church with a goal: to destroy the work of God in His church. Jesus knew the Pharisees and other religious teachers where wolves in sheep clothing. He warned His Disciples to stay away from their teachings and their accusations: "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:6 (niv)

"..the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.." John 10:12 (niv) There will be people (wolves) attacking the Lord's children by trying to steal them away from the group or they have a powerful poison to destroy the faith they may have with God!

Such a wolf can be your spouse, your friend, your co-worker, your boss or even another servant that serves at another church. "Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." 2 Timothy 2:17-18 (niv) Such poisonous teaching can stumble those with weak faith, even strong ones.

Check out this powerful Scripture to help us understand things that's happening in the world today: "'Teacher,' said John, 'we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.' 'Do not stop him,' Jesus said. 'No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.'" Mark 9:38-41 (niv)

We ought to be sent out into the world with the fountain of grace & love, preaching down sin, preaching up Christ which are great things. If you're spending much of your time telling people about another the errors of another church, you're neglecting the whole will of God which is to go, seek and save what is lost. If you have committed your life to Jesus in His Body, the church, your aim is to be a mature person of God ready to go and bring those without Christ to Christ! Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." Matthew 12:30 (niv)

"The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me (Jesus)." Romans 15:3 (niv) (parenthesis mine) Churches have been fighting against other churches: over women's role in the church, salvation issues, declaring that they're the best church, arguing over which translation must be used, and many others. It is typical for the deaf community to use the "Crab Theory" pulling down their opposing church from being successful. Instead, we're supposed to be fighting against Satan and the dark forces in this world! It's a spiritual battle against the dark forces.

Of course, you and I will agree and disagree on alot of things. "So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God." Romans 14:22 (niv) I believe McLean Bible Church is a wonderful church who loves God. Also, there's First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Frederick Church of the Brethren in Frederick, MD, Haymarket Baptist Church in Haymarket, Va and many other churches in our area who are serving God bringing the deaf souls to Jesus. Quit wasting your time threatening sheep, with a rope or a poison, in other churches or you're hindering the work God is doing in the world! We have a foe and his name is Satan. Let's destroy him and his work!

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (kjv)

"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1 (kjv)

Last Day Of Your Life

So this is it!

Later this afternoon you are going to pass away...

It might be in a horrific automobile accident. It could be a heart attack, fall from a ladder or a jolt of electricity. Maybe you will succumb to the cancer that's been eating away at your liver for the last year.

But it doesn't matter how you die..

In the Purpose Driven Life book (chapter 4), "Measured against eternity, our time on earth is just a blink of an eye, but the consequences of it will last forever. The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next. We should be "realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus." 2 Corinthians 5:6"

A popular slogan encouraged people to live each day as "the first day of the rest of your life." Actually, it would be wiser to live each day as if it were the last day of your life. Matthew Henry said, "It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our final day."

You just never know what will happen today! That's why we're to take every moment of our time seriously! "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:14-15 (niv)

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.." 2 Peter 3:10 (niv)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Is A "Christian"?

I have been reading alot of books this summer while Brian Baell is with us as an intern. He's been a great servant of the Lord and he loves the Lord so much. I admire his zeal and faith that he has for Him.

In one of the books I read, an author asked a question, "What Is A "Christian""? There are many misconceptions of what a "Christian" is, even what a "Church" is. In regards to "Church", many people are thinking of a "church building" or a "church name" or a "denomination/non-denomination". But that's not the "Church" God has in mind. God's definition of the word, "Church" also in greek, "Ekklessia" means "the called-out group of people" or in other words, "children of God (people)".

If we raise the question regarding what a church is, that raises the question of what a "Christian" really is. Some people say, "I am a Christian." What they really mean by that is that they are not a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a Hindu. But that does not make them a "Christian". You are not a Christian simply because you are not part of other religions. You are a Christian only to the extent that you are a follower of Christ as Savior and Lord. Simply saying you are a Christian doesn't make you a Christian. Simply saying you are part of the "real Church" doesn't make you part of the real church.

The author make a good point about the misconceptions above,

"Several years ago I (Jim) was flying home to San Diego. Seated next to me was an incredibly muscular young man. He was so phenomenally brawny that I finally decided to ask him what he did to get so big. I found out that he was preparing for the Olympics, in the hammer throw competition. I asked him why he was flying to San Diego. He explained to me that he was coming to the Olympic Training Center that is located in Chula Vista. When we landed, I got off the plane before he did, found my suitcases at the baggage claim, and went outside to meet my ride.

As I waited at the curb, I glanced to my left and saw a van from the Olympic Training Center. Inside it sat three enormously muscular men, all in their twenties. They were obviously a part of the hammer throw competition and were there to meet their friend who had been seated beside me on the plane. Since I knew his name, I decided to play a practical joke. I walked up to those three monstrous men and said, "Are you looking for Joe Smith?" (That's not his real name.) They said, "Yes." I said, "I'm him. I'm here. I'm so glad to meet you!" I began to shake their hands excitedly as though I was one of the members of their team.

It took only a fraction of a second for it to register on them what was happening. The look on their faces was first one of shock, then disappointment; then a nanosecond later, it change to a "wait a minute" kind of look. They immediately knew this was a practical joke. They said, "No you're not - surely you're not - you can't be him!"

Putting them on the spot, I quickly responded, "Why do you say that? What makes you think I'm not him?" None of them wanted to say the obvious: "Because you don't have the muscular physique to be able to do what we do. If you are on our team, we will most assuredly lose our chance to go to the Olympics." No one said that. But I could tell they were all thinking it."

There are people who say they are a part of the church, but when you spend a little bit of time with them you find out quickly they do not embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as you do, and they do not wholeheartedly follow the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, just saying you're part of the church does not make you part of the church any more than the guy saying I was on the Olympic Hammer Throw Team make me an athlete!

Monday, July 10, 2006

38 and ticking away....

For some reason, I woke up at 4:45 a.m. this morning!! I couldn't sleep after that! I had my alarm set to wake me up at 5:45 a.m.!! So decided to get out of bed and shower!!

Then I got a lovely email from my mom and dad:

"Happy birthday, dear son! 38 years ago this a.m. at 4:45 a.m., you were born. Easy delivery (1 & 1/2 hours of labor). You were born at St. Mary's hospital. Grandma Tomlin & Aunt Myrtle came to help after you and I came home. The kitchen sink plugged up while they were there and it was hot, hot, hot since it was July 10th and we had a window air conditioner. Ha. Anyway, it was a great time but very different from now."

4:45 a.m.!! I forgot the time I was born until my parents email me this morning!! Now, that explains!!

Happy anniversary, man!! (You only have one birthday, the rest is anniversaries..) (talking to myself).. ;)

Get Motivated!

Ministry is hard work! It’s very hard and it takes a lot of energy to accomplish it all. In life, the “why” always determines the “how long.” If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll never stick with it. The reason always determines the motivation.

That’s why we have so many depressed, discouraged people today. They have no reason for living. They get up in the morning and they go to work, they come home, they watch TV and go to bed and they ask themselves, “Why am I doing this?” If you have read the Purpose Driven Life book, I believe you'll understand. If you have no reason, no meaning, no purpose in life other than just trying to get ahead – if you don’t know that there is much more to this life than survival – then you’re going to get discouraged and you’re going to quit. You won’t make it to the end of the race.

It’s absolutely important that you remember the reason you do what you do. Even I get discouraged. I’ve ministered in a wonderful church for 7 years, and do you want to know how often I feel like quitting?

Every Monday morning.

That’s about the time I think, “It’s somebody else’s turn.” It doesn’t matter if you hit a homerun last week – you’re still facing another seven days at bat. I’ve often thought, “I don’t have enough smarts to do this. Somebody else ought to be ministering this church.” Whenever I feel like giving up, I remind myself of two wonderful truths. They’re the truths you should remember too:

1. I Have A Mission With God, even if I feel discouraged.. My being here at Fairfax didn't just fall into place. It wasn't the "Beam-me-to-Virginia, Scotty". The Lord led us here for a reason. He is on a mission using me to reach the deaf souls! Will there be obstacles? Sure! Will there be rejections? Of course! Will there be loss of passion to serve the Lord! Read what My children did during the old, old days (Old Testament)! It's not about how much energy you have, or the capacity of knowledge you have in your brain. It's about the power God is using in and around your life! It's not your own power but His.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, “God has given us this work to do. So we don’t become discouraged.” Why am I doing this? Because it is the Lord who gave me a MISSION! And how about you?

2. I Have A Reward In Heaven, as remembered each time I am discouraged.. Here's one thing that we do not "LIKE" to do... Deny ourselves! In order to get the "reward", we must deny ourselves many things in order for the best things in life to happen. Many of us do the opposite! We're running aimlessly in the world looking for lasting peace and happiness. But this is where consquences often fall on the negative side.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:2427 (niv)

In other words, what we want to do is what God wants us to do! We don't see much of this thought in people today!! People need the thought/attitude of "self-denial". If you're going to involve yourselves in His church, you're going to have to cut some things out of life. Really, you don't have time for everything. God is, and will always be, first! If you have placed God close to the bottom of the "priority list", you haven't really denied yourselves. When God has a purpose for you, make sure you understand His purpose for your life!

In due time, all of your earthly rewards (sporting events, debate contest, honor roll) will be stashed away in a dark chest. That's because earthly rewards do not last! One day you'll get an applause, a pat-in-the-back, but then as days go on, all you've done (achievement) will gradually fade away.

I learned there are three different kinds of motivations: internal, external and eternal. There is internal motivations where I do things because I'm motivated inside. However, internal motivations are wrong. You may be trying various things: pleasing an unpleasing parent, overcoming inferiority, and others. Internal motivations are often issues of pride. Now, with the external motivation, that's the carrot on the stick. You get the pin, trophy, or your picture on the cover of a magazine. Though, seen, it's an external reward that's temporary.

Neither of them will last, period! If you want to make it to the finish line in the race of life (spiritual), you'll need to put yourselves in a different racing suit: eternal motivation. God tells us to keep our eyes on the goal that's in Heaven. All the achievements, all the wealth, all the successes on earth is only a millimeter on a yardstick of eternity. It's microscopic small!! We've got to have an eternal perspective! Don't just build your life around just here and now. Focus on the purposes God has for you, not on the problems! Live each day as if you're living for eternity in Jesus' Name! If God has "called" you, what are you doing with the "calling"? If God is "calling" you, what obstacles are you facing now?

Get motivated with the eternal motivation!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Suffering Savior

Brian led a great class, last night, leading us to discuss about 1 John 5:16-17: "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

Powerful verses! Looks confusing, huh? There are two groups with "a sin that does not lead to death" and "a sin that leads to death". Brian asked us to explain, as best as they can, what this means to them. One student noticed two words, "his brother" mean that he/she might be looking at a Christian (brother/sister in Christ) whom might have sinned. But, this sin doesn't lead them to death. Why? Because they have been forgiven of their sins according to 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 10:17-18. Jesus' blood covered their all their sins: past, present and future. Of course, with an understanding, that we do not "intentionally sin" against God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:1-2). All Christians are not perfect. Each of us will make mistakes. Each of us will stumble here and there. We must have a repentant heart asking God for forgiveness of our sins. We must ask our fellow Christian brother or sister to pray for us as we acknowledge the sin each of us have done and that we're thankful that Jesus' blood covered it.

Now about "a sin that leads to death"?? What was Apostle John, inspired by God, trying to tell us here? Of course, all sins separates us from God according to Isaiah 59:1-2. If you have sinned against God, there's death. The word, "death" means separation from the Creator of Life; disfellowshipped; there's no relationship between you and God. It doesn't matter how many sins it takes to separate you, one sin (no matter how little or big it is), separation! If you have lied, you've sinned. If you have, in mind, lusted over a woman, you've sinned. If you have, in mind, wanted to kill a person but wouldn't do it, you've sinned (1 John 3:15). If such a person does not have Jesus (have not heard, believed, repented of his/her sins, confessed Jesus is Lord, baptized for the forgiveness of their sins), sin remains! Such a person isn't covered with Jesus' blood: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7 (niv)

So, where are you walking? If you're walking in darkness, would you think Jesus' blood is purifying you today? I don't think so. Though, He wants to purify you but you're walking on the wrong path. You're living a dark life. If you have woken up finding yourselves walking in darkness, it's not too late to change course. If you have never been a Christian, go to your local church of Christ minister and explain your problem that you want to walk in the light of Jesus and forever be purified (as long as you're walking in light). If you have been a Christian in the past but have become a "Prodigal Son", do the "R&R" (Repent and Return), getting back into your relationship with God. Send us your request to pray for you that God will grant you life again! Remember, He loves you and that's the reason He gave us His Son!

Even though, 1 John 5 tells us that we shouldn't "pray" for those with "a sin that leads to death", it sounded like God is mean! But that's not true. What John was trying to tell us is that there will be people who are "gross hypocrites", "anti-Christians", and "licencious sinners". They just don't care.. And we shouldn't waste our time with such people as these. Jesus didn't bother to waste His time with the Pharisees and other teachers of the law. He went to the sinners, the hurting, the confused, and the sick. It doesn't mean we cease to think about them. Yes, God loves them but not their attitudes and actions. There are other people whose hearts are ripe for harvest and ready to believe in Jesus!

At the close of the great class, we discussed about our friends, families and co-workers who continues to live a sinful life while knowing there is a God who loves them. They either don't care about God or they care but hang on to their sinful life thinking God understands them. Some of the aspects of sin life are homosexuality, adultery, lust of the flesh and others. One commented that sometimes as a "Christian" he/she forgives them for what they are doing but in "flesh", he/she doesn't forgive them because of the grave danger of sin. The Barna survey reports that 60% of the Christians have a hard time forgiving others.

I reminded the class to put themselves in Jesus' sandals. Or in the worse case scenario, put themselves in place of Jesus on the cross!! While Jesus was on the cross, the people mocked Him! Yet, Jesus asked His Father in Heaven to forgive them for that they do not know what they're doing. It was "their sins" that put Jesus there! In my experience, I have heard people tell me, "Oh, Jesus is God and it's easy for Him to forgive. We're not "God" and it's hard for us to forgive others." That's horrendously untrue!! Don't they know what Jesus had to go through? Before his first lash of the whip, He was in the garden praying to His Father in Heaven asking for another way. He grimmaced knowing the fact He has to go through severe punishment! Sweat drops of blood flowed from His forehead as He prayed, three times!! Now, you know the rest: the arrest, the trial, the scourging of whips, the decision of Pilate, the mocking crowd, the path to Golgotha, three nails and asking God to FORGIVE them. He died for our sins, yours and mine!

Behold, the suffering Savior!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Won By One

Yesterday was more than just awesome! There's no other place I rather be than to just sit along with my fellow and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in worship to our creative Creator! If I want to do something else like lifting weights, hiking, play on the computer, doing yard work, visiting with families and friends, there are other days to do that! God isn't the Person we have plans with at the "last resort". If nothing else comes up, I "guess" I'll go and worship Him. Really, Sunday is a day DEDICATED to God! God commanded us to worship Him and Him Only!

Worship is, indeed, a 24/7 lifestyle. You worship God when you go to work as long as you're showing Jesus. You worship God playing with your kids as long as you're reflecting His goodness and mercy. You worship God when you help a co-worker or pray for a co-worker as long as you're depending on God for His hand. But, Sunday... Sunday is the day when we all ought to come together to be filled with His Word, renew our Spirit within us, be charged, be inspired, be motivated or even a place to pour out our hang-ups, our worries, our confessions, our weaknesses before the Lord as He sits on the throne in Heaven with Jesus on His right!

In the picture above, an a cappela group from Pepperdine University in California called "Won By One", came to Fairfax to praise God! They were an awesome young group of singers who loves the Lord so much. They are on a cross-country trip promoting the university. Now, they're on the way to Pennsylvania to do another praise there! May God bless them richly!! Love their hearts!! And, most important of all, they're SHOWING JESUS!!

We have so much to share with you. For those living within the Metro D.C area, so much is being planned for the Fall as well as the rest of this year and next! God continues on the search for obedient believers who will forever love Him and be committed to His Word! For those who have left the faith they had with God, we have been keeping them in our prayers that they will return to Him. Don't they realize their missing out the most important thing in life: Jesus!!? If they have stopped walking with Jesus, the forgiveness isn't overflowing on them according to 1 John 1:7. Another parable Jesus taught His disciples the story of the "Great Banquet". The owner (God) told his servants to go and invite those in homes to come to the banquet. They were too busy. Then go and invite those in the marketplace. They said they had to try out something new so couldn't make it. Then invite the couple there. They just got married so they don't have the time. The owner was disappointed and told his servants to go into the streets and alleys and invite them in because there is plenty of room! Come to think of this! Is this happening today? Of course! How many of you invited your friends, co-workers and neighbors to come and see God? I am sure many were invited but they simply didn't have the "time"! Therefore, the idol they are worshipping is "The timing of self".

God never gives up! Nor will we! There are others who have not yet been "invited". They do not know the God we know. For those giving the excuse of "selfishness", let them go. They know the excuses they're giving. As God said in the Bible, "Go to the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the poor and win them, one by one!"

Let's pray for all the souls in this world!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nevada Trip

Good morning, Nike Bloggers!

PAH (finally)!! I'm able to upload some pictures here! This was our trip to Las Vegas, NOT TO GAMBLE ;), but for my brother's wedding and a family vacation. It's been a wonderful week but H-O-T!!

This picture was taken at McCarren International Airport. The moment we got off the plane, the slot machines were right there! It was the first thing we saw! I was like, "Oh man!" I hate the sight of it as it was everywhere! However, it was an interesting experience!

This is the hotel we stayed at for four nights. It's called, "Mandalay Bay". They have super fabulous pools: wave pool and lazy river! Mandalay has one of the best pools in all the hotels along the Strip (Las Vegas Strip). But, it took us a little more time to get on the elevator. Imagine how many people stay in this place!!

Three of our girls love the "Wave Pool".. The waves comes every 90 seconds. They're always keeping watch for the next one, and the next one, and the next one all day long!!

After our time in the city of Las Vegas and the Strip, we took a trip out to Henderson, Nevada. It's much more peaceful!! We saw tons of desert bunnies at the resort (Lake Las Vegas). It's about 10 miles from Lake Mead and 15 miles from the famous Hoover Dam. It was extremely hot, too hot to go sightseeing in the area. But we had a wonderful time relaxing at their pool. One of the highlights of this pool was that they have a waterslide! In this picture is us standing in front of the Hyatt Lake Las Vegas resort. We're blessed to have the time away to be with the family. Thank You, Lord!!