How to Dethrone the Stomach God

It’s Day 2 of our 7-fasting. So far so good. Thousands of people from our different churches in Victory and Every Nation have joined the fast. But to tell you honestly, when I was feeding my girls for lunch, I was tempted to take the next bite of chicken adobo. But I overcame!

I am re-posting a blog from Pastor Steve Murrell:
Food is a powerful force. What, when and how much we eat can be a deadly and spiritual decision. Consider this:
– The first commandment was about food.
– The first temptation was about food.
– The first sin was about food.
Food and appetite – what we do with both is kinda important.
I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
(Phil 3:19, 20)
Could this “their god is their stomach” comment somehow be connected to the “enemy of the cross” idea? I’m afraid so.
I don’t want to be an enemy of the cross, so I’m intentionally dethroning the stomach god this week. And the process is brutal. I feel like if I drink any more water, I’ll grow gills, and scales.
I dethrone the stomach god at the beginning of every year – but somehow he manages to make a comeback – usually during holidays.
How do I keep him off the throne? Maybe the cross is the key. Gotta kill that false stomach god, before he gets too big.
Happy fasting everyone! See you in our prayer meetings!

Source: Faith

Time to Humble Ourselves

In Joshua chapter 1, after Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him that he will lead the people into their promise land. He promised that as he was with Moses that he will also be with Joshua. He only encouraged Joshua to be strong and courageous. As we begin this year, we will be facing new challenges and obstacles but as God has been with us in the past, He will continue to be with us this year. We need to be strong and courageous to meet what’s up ahead.
In Joshua 2, Joshua sent spies to scout the city of Jericho. The spies entered the house of Rahab and she told them “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us.” Talk about a sure victory for the Israelites. On one hand, God said that He is with them and secondly, their enemies are quaking with fear because of them.
But Joshua did not respond in pride nor arrogance. In fact, in Joshua 3:5, we see Joshua calling the assembly to consecration. He said, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” I believe we need to follow the example of Joshua. As we start this fast, we know that it is not our might, intellect, connections, past victories, nor abilities can help us win. We need to humble ourselves and consecrate – to set apart, to dedicate, to cleanse.

That is why we are fasting. We are humbling ourselves before the Lord. It’s not about having all our prayer requests answered. It’s having more of God in our lives. As we begin the fast, may we experience God more like never before. May we hear God’s voice even clearer and may our hearts be ready to obey.

Source: Church

A Fresh Vision Of God

2010. A new year . . . a new decade.

So many things happened last year – both good and bad. For our nation as well, many triumphs and many tragedies. We saw about 13 typhoons hitting our country with Ondoy and Pepeng leading the highest number of casualties and damage caused. The Maguindanao massacre shocked not only the Filipinos here but also sent tremors abroad. But despite the tragedies, we also had our share of triumphs. Two big news were the following: Manny Pacquiao’s 7th boxing title and the win of Efren Penaflorida as CNN’s Hero of the Year.
There are different emotions that come up at the beginning of the year. Some have fear of the future; others are filled with anxiety and worry not knowing how to pay the bills accumulated during the holidays; still others have wounded faith because of many unmet expectations during the past year.
But despite the ups and downs, one thing is still the same. God’s steadfast love never ceases! His mercies are new every morning.
Let us not put limits in a limitless God. No limits, no border, no boundaries. Let’s put our faith in God!
NO LIMITS WITH A LIMITLESS GOD.
Many people write faith goals and new year’s resolutions. But many of these are statements of “I will” – I will lose xx pounds. Or I will read my bible more this year. Or I will save this much in my bank account. Or I will finally get married this year. But instead of “I will”, maybe it is better to write a declaration of “God will”. When we focus on what we can do, it often results in frustration, failure and discouragement. But when we focus on what God can do, the burden suddenly shifts from us to Him. God is willing. He is able.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us (Eph. 3:20)

Source: Faith

One Hundred Degree Marriage

100 degrees centigrade. Boiling point. How do you get there from 99 degrees? Just a little more.
It takes only one degree from 99 degrees to reach the boiling point. At that point, everything sizzles.
What are the extra truths and extra efforts you need to increase friendship in marriage? (fun, enjoyment, companionship, etc)

Malcom Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, tells us ….. tipping point are “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.” Gladwell defines a tipping point as: “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.

Song 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
Many times it is the little things that we do and we don’t do that makes the difference in our marriage. In business, we are expected to meet the expectations of our clients thus bringing customer satisfaction. But if we give or do things beyond the normal expectations, then this will bring customer WOW! Thus, resulting in customer loyalty.
How about in marriage? What are the little efforts that we can do to increase the heat (to 100 degrees maybe?):
Here’s a few examples:
1. Make time for emotional connection.
Your spouse is more important than your children (in the food chain).
Invest a little time each day just thinking about your spouse. Pour into your marriage the same as you pour into other areas of your life you are passionate about.

2.  Hang out together.
Plan an outing that the two of you will enjoy as a couple. Plan a date and go some place fun. Stay up late and watch an old movie together. Go to a concert.
Run errands together on Saturdays, meet for a lunch date once in a while, even just take a walk around the block. What Shirley and I do (for the past 19 years) is to do grocery together. I get to choose my junk food.
3. 

Laugh.
This is key. Don’t take everything so seriously. The world would say being married with the same spouse for almost 20 years could be drab. But laughter can put spice and sparks in marriage.
Prov. 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

4. Show affection.
Hold hands, kiss passionately (not just smack), hug more than just before you walk out the door, snuggle on the couch. Studies show that men who kiss their wives everyday before going to work live five years longer than those who don’t. Go and add 5 years to your life.
5. Get Away From it All
Get out, put all your cares away for a few hours, and enjoy each other.  Plan your dream vacation.
How about you? How can you add an extra degree to your marriage?

Source: Family

Resurrection and Judgment (Sunday Recall Nov. 1, 2009)

My sermon outline:
Heb. 6:2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

All saints and all souls day. This is the time that people remember their dead. I remember my son because it is just about this time that it happened. (Six years ago, he got sick of TB meningitis, got paralyzed and eventually died after two months)
So many participate in the pagan Halloween practice – Trick or treat (no biblical).
Thousands of Filipinos flock the cemetery to visit and pay respect for their dead.
Q. Why is there such a fascination to know more about the life beyond this life?
Many would like to unveil the mystery the spiritual world.
Why are we talking about death?
Tension: Your view of eternity will determine how you live today.

3 competing views of life after death:
1. Annihilationism – when you’re dead you’re dead (You can live any way you want)
2. Re-incarnation – better luck next time. If you did not perform well in this life, then you can come back in another life form i.e. dog, tree, mouse, mosquito, etc.
3. Resurrection – there is life after death. All the dead will rise up (not like zombies) and will either eternally live with God in heaven or will be eternally be condemned.
The resurrection of Christ is at the center of Christian faith!

What do we know about death and eternity?
1. Life is short.
Psalm 90:10 – The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
–        What are we living for?
–        Most of the things that we pursue are temporal in nature.
–        We need to fix our eyes on eternal things.
2. Death is certain.
Heb. 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
Heb. 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
We are all destined to die.
According to the latest statistics the mortality rate is still 100%. Everybody will die.
What will happen in the judgment is determined by how you treated Christ in your lifetime. Why? Because our sin separates us from a holy God.
But there is good news: Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and He didn’t stay dead. He rose up again to save us. Those who call upon the Lord will be saved. If you ask Him, he will forgive your sins. If you are saved, then your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of life. Nothing can blot it out from there. And the angels in heaven will rejoice.
3. We will all face judgment.
The thought of being judged by somebody can be sobering/ scary. Can you imagine if God will be the one judging you?
John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
John 5:29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

What will take place in the judgment? (Separation of sinners and righteous)
1. Great white throne judgment – many Christian scholars believe that this is for the unbelievers; judged by works but we know that works cannot save us. We are saved by grace not by works. Those whose names are not found in the Lamb’s book of life will be thrown in the lake of fire.
Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
Rev. 20:15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

2. Judgment seat of Christ – only for believers
2Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your eternal destination is not determined in the judgment seat of Christ. It was already determined while you were on earth and you put your faith in Christ.
What is being judged there? Good works, not salvation. This is the time when God will give rewards to Christians for the works they have done while on earth. Salvation has been given when we put our faith in Christ (while on earth). This is the time when rewards will be given.
1Cor. 3:12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
1Cor. 3:13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
1Cor. 3:14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
1Cor. 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
–        The day will bring it to light.
–        Fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
Will you receive a reward?
Don’t build your life on material things (sticks) but on things that endure to the end (costly stones). Our words, actions, and motives as Christians will be judged.

MAINPOINT: YOUR VIEW OF ETERNITY WILL DETERMINE HOW YOU LIVE.

Source: Faith

I Love the Word

2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
2Tim. 3:17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I appreciate my early mentors in the faith when they emphasized the importance of the the Word of God. We were taught how to do daily bible readings and write our insights in a notebook. Regular meditation of the scriptures and doing the Word are part of our spiritual disciplines.
Another important thing we did was to bring our bibles to church as we study it when listening to the sermons and to take down notes in order to remember what we heard from the pulpit. I believe the retention of the sermon is a lot higher when you open the bible yourself and write on your own notebook. There is a greater impact and a bigger propensity to be a doer of the Word compared to one who merely hears it being preached. When you use more than one learning style i.e. hearing while combining it with reading and writing, the more of the Word will be remembered and applied.

Let’s take the Word of God seriously and realize that it is the Bread of Life that is able to transform our lives. I hope to see more and more people study, read, meditate, apply and share the bible. It is truly life-changing!

Source: Church

When The Bicycle Threatened the Church

I’m re-posting an interesting blog from Bobby Gruenewald (Lifechurch.tv). I’m an avid biker and I bike on Mondays (which is my sabbath or rest day). Is riding a bike considered a violation of the sabbath? Or any innovation that is now used or done on the Lord’s Day that was not used by the early church?

When the Bicycle Threatened the Church In 1896, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church condemned bicycling on Sunday for enticing parishioners away from church and violating the Fourth Commandment:
The Sabbath, the Lord’s Day of rest for the body, and of worship for the soul, is especially threatened by many unscriptural innovations…Sunday bicycle pleasure riding…
Hard to imagine in our modern world isn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I heard someone describe the bicycle as such an amazing innovation that it puts the Sabbath in jeopardy
But to me, this passage isn’t just an interesting bit of history. It speaks volumes about how the Church reacts to innovation at times. Instead of embracing it and looking for ways to leverage it, we feel threatened. Can you think of examples where today’s Church is reacting in a similar way?
For me (Ariel), we should not be threatened by innovation – computers, internet, powerpoint presentation in churches, electric instruments for worship, bibles readers or electronic bibles, church in malls, etc. These inventions are designed to make our lives better and more efficient (maybe?). I understand that abnormal use (or abuse) can have a negative impact. But I know that we can make use of these to advance God’s kingdom in our current hi-tech days.

Source: Church

Baptism and Laying of Hands (Sunday Recall Oct. 25)

Heb. 6:2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Last week, we talked about repentance from dead works and putting our faith in God.
Repentance is a relationship. Turning away from an old master and turning to a new master.
As part of hygiene, we were taught to wash our hands before eating. Taking a bath is a normal routine for us. Filipinos are fond of taking a bath. I heard of foreigners who prefer to hire Filipinos as employees because we are a clean race. We normally take a bath twice a day.
Transition: What do the Jews believe about baptism and laying on of hands?
Old testament practice:
Numbers 19: 19b-20 – The person being cleansed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and that evening he will be clean. But if a person who is unclean does not purify himself, he must be cut off from the community, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord.
No “baptism” word in the old testament, but a Law on washing and cleansing.
Who or what needs washing & cleansing? It’s done ceremonially! No man can come in the sanctuary of the Lord unless he is clean.
Objects: utensils, things in the temple (dedicated to God), clothes of an unclean person
People:  Levitical priests (Aaron’s sons) – for consecration before entering the tent of meeting or altar so that they will not die
– To cleanse those who touched unclean animals or dead things
Bathsheba – was bathing when David saw her to have purification after menstrual cycle (2 Sam. 11)
Naaman – In 2 Kings 5, the prophet Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan to have cleansing.
Wrong Understanding of Baptism:
1. “Pouring”
Baptism comes from the Greek word “baptizo” which means “immersion”.
The first mention of Baptism in the bible was during the time of John the Baptist wherein he would baptize a repentant sinner in the Jordan river.
Pouring is done only when there is no water available.
As Filipinos, we are familiar with infant baptism. Binyag or kumpil which meant that a baby being baptized is being welcomed into the Christian world and whose original sin will be cleansed.
2. “Cleanses sin”
Baptism does not save you and will not save you. We are saved by trusting in what Christ did on the cross. He died as a payment for our sins. Our act of doing baptism cannot add to what Jesus did. His work on the cross is complete. “It is finished.”
Matt. 3:15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
–        Jesus did it not to be cleansed but as a proof of righteousness. With his baptism, he identified with humanity’s sin and failure becoming our substitute.
3.  “Baptismal Formula”
Acts 10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
– Some people think we need to baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While some do it “in Jesus name”.
What Baptism is:
1. Baptism of Repentance
Mark 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
John’s baptism – altar call; public declaration (show picture)
–        Modern preachers do the contemporary altar call to ask people if they want to make Jesus as Lord.
–        John’s baptism is a baptism of repentance. It was a form of altar call and a public declaration that they are believers.
2.  Newness in Life
Rom. 6:3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom. 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
We identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in baptism.
3.  Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
–  The Holy Spirit fills us with good things in order to be a blessing to other people.
Baptism is a declaration that we belong to Christ.
ON LAYING ON OF HANDS:

1. To ORDAIN & COMMISSION SPIRITUAL LEADERS
2. To minister the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
3. To impart SPIRITUAL GIFTS
(Joshua from Moses; Timothy from elders; Acts 6)
4. To impart FAMILY BLESSING.
Fathers – have a special role in the releasing of the blessing for the children
Hands should be used to bless and not to hurt.
– Hands are not used to discipline but the rod.
5. To minister HEALING.
Praying for sick people. Authority of believer.

MAINPOINT: SINCE WE BELONG TO CHRIST, WE MUST BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS.

Source: Faith

Coaching 101

Just came from our annual APEC (Asian Pastors Equipping Conference) held in Singapore. It was a very fruitful meeting. Kevin York trained the pastors and missionaries from different nations on the importance of having a coaching culture in our churches and ministries.

I am re-posting a blog from Pastor Steve Murrell:
Every Nation’s Yoda of church planting, Kevin York, is conducting a three-day “Coaching 101” seminar at our Asian Pastors Equipping Conference (APEC’09) in Singapore with 160 Asian leaders from 26 nations.
Here are some quick coaching quotes from Kevin:
1- Stats show that church-planters with a coach, build churches double the size of those without a coach in the first four years.
2- There are smart people everywhere who have all the answers, but the great need is for wisdom.
3- Smart people are known by their answers. Wise people are known by their questions.
4- Coaching is not about giving the right answers, but about asking the right questions.
5- Asking good questions forces people to think and come up with their own solutions, and it forces them to own those solutions.
6- People with all the answers are often frozen, indecisive and do nothing.
7- There were five frogs on a log. Four decided to jump off. How many were left? Five, because deciding and doing are two different things.
8- Coaching provides the accountability that helps put good decisions into action. Coaching gets the frog off the log.
9- Silence is NOT the same as listening.
10- Some silent people are not listening, but quietly plotting their response, ready to win the argument as soon as their opponent shuts up.
Steve Murrell is a missionary, pastor, and the author of “The Reluctant Leader” and “The Accidental Missionary.”

Source: Uncategorized

Time To Grow Up (SUNDAY RECALL October 11, 2009)

Do you remember the time when you were a toddler wearing diapers and your parents look at you as the cutest baby in the world? You are starting to coo, learning to walk and would even dirty the diapers. And your mom and dad would find that to be adorable. But if you are now a 35-year old man and you still do the same things when you were a tot then that is no longer cute.

Heb. 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
Heb. 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Heb. 5:13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Heb. 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
We are called to grow in our relationship with God and not to remain like babes. How does one measure maturity?
Myth of Time – It’s not the length of time of church attendance that measures one’s maturity. There are people who are one year old in their relationship with God who are more mature than some Christians who may be in church for 10 years. Time simply cannot measure maturity.
Myth of Association – Maturity does not happen when you hang out with mature Christians. It cannot be transferred by osmosis. Even if you are close to the bishop, pastor or small group leader, it doesn’t make you mature.
Myth of Knowledge – Some people think that the more they know about the bible, the more mature and close to God they are. The bible says “knowledge puffs up”. Sometimes, it actually just brings more pride. It’s not about how much bible you know but how much of the bible you actually do that determines one’s maturity.
We are called to go on towards maturity.
There is a difference between growing old and growing up. All people (without exception even with all the cosmetics and botox) grow old but many still act like kids. Some choose to grow up.
Here’s the bottomline: It’s time to grow up.

Source: Sunday Recall