When God said in Genesis 12 that we will become a blessing to others, I’m pretty sure He wasn’t talking about us sending Facebook, email and text messages with a “God Bless You” clincher at the end.
No sir, I’m guessing it’s more than that.
The curious thing is that most Christians have gotten so used to throwing around lots of “God Bless Yous” everyday that most of the time it sounds like an empty benediction, devoid of power, spirituality and conviction. Not that I don’t want to hear it, I mean, if you ask me, I would like to be blessed everyday. Everybody does, too. But the question is, to be blessed with what, exactly?
Convergence is “a time in your life where, after intense preparation, including successes and failures and many testings, God brings you to a place in life where your strengths are maximized and your weaknesses covered.”
If you’re 18 or 20 right now, the idea might not hit you as powerfully as it would if you’re thirty. I am thirty, and the more I think about my age, the more I realize that Farrar is talking much sense in this book. Many people pass by their twenties in a blurry haze, making decisions like they’re gonna stay 20 for the rest of their lives. I urge you to check your calendar because chances are that you might not have noticed that time flies really, really fast when you’re busy doing life.
“Roads are a remedy to all that was boring.”
I had to chuckle when I read that from Steve Farrar’s book “How to Ruin Your Life by 40” yesterday. He was quoting his son’s reflections on the excitement of turning 18, getting a driver’s license and enjoying the first taste of freedom of being an adult.
I laughed because it poignantly cuts through the heart of our aversion to extended periods of stillness and quietude. We love it when we’re busy. Young people today can’t stand ten minutes of sitting still and doing nothing. Look at them when they get to the elevators, cafes and train stations and you won’t find a single soul who is not fidgeting and incessantly pressing the buttons of their gadgets.
Have you considered statistically what it took for God to get you here, down through the thousands of generations and centuries, all the way from Adam and Eve? You are no accident. And you are more than double helix of chromosomes. Much more. –Steve Farrar, How to Ruin Your Life by 40
When I think about how God put together everything around me so I could become what I am today, I am simply overwhelmed. The God of the universe is not far as I thought Him to be. He’s got a specific place for me in this world, a place only I could fill.
A Rabbi was once scorned by the daughter of a Roman emperor because he was not good looking. She was scandalized that such great wisdom be contained in such a sordid body of a deformed Rabbi.
The Rabbi asked her in what containers do they put their best wines in the palace. In jars of clay, came the reply. But why not put the wine in expensive silver containers? Why put up with lowly, ordinary, sordid jars of clay when they could afford to store them in more attractive containers? The girl was challenged with the idea that she ordered to put all their wines in silver containers.
The wine turned acid.
I remember this verse when I was still pastoring a church in Ormoc seven years ago. I was just a kid then, barely out of college and in many ways, clueless on how to go about the heavy responsibility that was placed on my shoulders. One of our neighbors threatened me because he didn’t like us doing praise and worship in church. I was terrified.
I turned to the men in the church to help me deal with the situation but I realized that as pastor, it was mainly my problem and I needed to deal with it myself. I remember going home that night feeling so small and powerless. I was just 22 for crying out loud!
I recently got my copy of Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris more than a week ago. I didn’t know what the book was all about, I just picked it up from OMF during the Manila International Book Fair simply because I knew the author and the Rumspringa story in the first chapter caught my attention.
Joshua Harris was the guy behind the I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame. Whereas most people would associate his name with the love and courtship genre, he is actually more than that. The first few chapters of Dug Down Deep would show that he has matured into a well respected pastor and writer with so much to share to the body of Christ.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29: 11 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible next to John 3: 16. I don’t have the stats to prove it but I just kind of know it. Everyone can understand why. It is a verse that promises prosperity and hope for the future and it looks like it has no strings attached, no obligations to fulfill. It’s just there, period.
For some Christians, world missions is just one fine idea to toss around in church. They believe the great commission, they believe that the gospel of Jesus should be brought to all parts of the world and they believe that the church has to do it. But not by them. Not when it takes them away from their comfort zones, not when it’s such a huge inconvenience to their carefully-planned lives, and certainly not when they have exciting careers to work on.
While most Christians think of world missions as a secondary business of the church, God values it as top priority assignment. The idea is actually as old as the Old Testament. When God blessed Abraham in Genesis 12: 3, He said it plain and simple, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through you.” When Jonah was eaten alive by a huge fish, he was actually running away from world missions, from reaching the politically powerful city of Nineveh.
If you knew the cure of a deadly disease that’s killing thousands of people, don’t you want to tell everyone of this good news?
This is the standard question pastors use to encourage church members to go evangelize and make disciples. In all honesty though, this doesn’t tug at my heartstrings at all. I mean, forgive me but I just think the question is too hypothetical. In my mind, there is no way I could discover anything remotely of medicinal value. And if ever I did manage to stumble into one, I’d probably be too worried it wouldn’t work on others that I’d probably just send an anonymous letter to a famous scientist so he could make further studies on the cure.
For the people of Victory Caloocan, the last two or three weeks have been a series of rapid, high energy activities. We recently launched our new center at the 6th floor of Victory Central Mall in August 29 and the 1,000 attendance barrier that we’ve been praying about this year has just been broken. Everything around us is new- the building, the air conditioning system, the stage, the equipment, the kids’ church and even the computers. It is time to celebrate and rejoice at what God is doing in this church.
And while we are at it, I can’t help but be reminded of what Pastor Ferdie and all the other pastors have been telling us months before: what brought us here may not bring us there- or at least something along those lines. The idea is that the commitment, hard work and sacrifices that brought us to where we are now may no longer work this time. A new approach might be necessary to sustain our present productivity. Who knows what the Lord will demand of us so we can soar to new heights?
One of the most fiery (read: harshest) sermons ever preached in the Bible came from the mouth of John the Baptist. In Luke 3, he called the crowd who followed him a “brood of vipers” without even batting an eyelash. I may not be a preacher but one thing I’m sure of is that John’s sermon style was definitely not the normal way to attract a following. Church growth gurus and Toast Masters trained speakers today would cringe at the thought of using such offensive language when speaking in front of a crowd you are trying to reach.
But John the Baptist was no speakers’ club member. He didn’t seek to build a religion either. He was simply a man who was sent to announce the coming of the Messiah and he had to do it within a limited time frame. Remember that he and Jesus were born just a few months apart? That means that his message was time sensitive. The Messiah he was to announce was just around the corner. He didn’t have the time to play religious games with the Jews.