A DIFFICULT QUESTION JESUS ASKED

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Blog Banners.001“Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15)

Jesus asked Peter a poignant question. This was the first time some of the disciples were going to see Jesus after the resurrection. It was a whole day without catch and when Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, the command was too familiar not to be reminded of who said that before.

They confirmed it was truly Jesus when they cast the net on the right side and the Bible says that they had a net full of fish. After hauling in the large amount of fish, they went to the beach side and started to grill some.

It was here that Jesus asked Jesus, “Peter, do you love me more than these?”

What are the “these?”

It wasn’t clear what Jesus was specifically referring to but Bible scholars surmise that Jesus was pointing to the fish, the nets and their fishing equipment. It was as if Jesus was saying, “Peter, do you love me more than what you have now?”

Boom!

Life pulls us into way too many directions and throws us a curve ball here and there to the point that our love and devotion to Christ can get affected.

Do you love me more than these?

What are the “these” in our lives that Jesus is asking us to evaluate in terms of love and devotion towards Him?

These blessings?
These things that you possess?
These open doors for work?
These ministry opportunities?
These provision miracles?
These people that you love dearly?

Take time to assess. Jesus said to love God with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul and all of our strength. And the main reason why we can love Him is because He first loved us. Out of the love that flowed from Calvary is the primary reason why you and I can love Him with great intensity.

Lord, we thank You for your love for us. It was clearly demonstrated at the cross. But Lord we realize that life can pull us in a thousand different directions and our affections can be influenced by another. We repent if something or someone else has taken captive of our affections when it’s supposed to be directed towards You. Thank You for Your amazing love for us that continue to pull us back in. May our lives reflect the love that You’ve shown to us each and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR STRENGTH?

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Blog Banners.001By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

Our deepest desire as Christ followers is to glorify God. But it is possible that in our attempts to do so, we end up doing just the opposite? We try to glorify God but it results in giving credit to ourselves because of self-effort.

Jesus said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. We cannot accomplish anything apart from Him. When we are connected to Him, there is life. When we abide, we bear fruit – fruit that will last. On the contrary, if we are disjointed from Him, we may bear fruit, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last because we do it from the energy we conjure on our own rather than life that streams from the main Vine.

And this is the promise as we abide:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

I pray that as we begin our week, we will abide not by our own strength but by the strength we are able to receive because we are connected to Jesus. Connect to Him by reading the Word, by conversing with Him through prayer and by walking with men and women who do the same.

Have a great week ahead!

———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/flatworldsedge/7948178288/

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THE IMPORTANCE OF A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW

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Worldviews are what dictate how a person behaves. It is our life lens. If we wear sunglasses that are blue, then everything around us will be blue-ish. Having a Biblical Worldview is having the Bible as our life lens.

When my daughter was 8 years old, we were in an amusement center whereParenting World Changers.001 they gave tickets to get prizes like stuff toys. When we got to the Skee Ball, beside our machine was one that had a bunch of tickets unclaimed.

When I saw it, I told her, “Look, free tickets!”
She stared at me with a weird look and said, “Dad, if you get what isn’t yours, isn’t that stealing?”

She got me.
“I was just checking, honey.” Haha.

I grew up with a worldview of “finders keepers.”
Hers was “getting what is not yours is stealing.”

The Word of God has the power to shift our mindsets to right thinking.
And right thinking leads to right living.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97255458@N05/

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PREDICTABLY UNPREDICTABLE

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God can be predictably unpredictable.

Because we are used to routine, patterns and formula, we tend to think we have figured God out. If He did things a certain way, then He must do it the same way again this time. And this is when frustration and disappointments set in. God cannot be put in a box.

You may be going through a situation today that doesn’t seem to make sense. You were hoping for it to come up with certain results. You were expecting God to answer a particular way. But for some reason, you were caught flatfooted.

In her book, “These Strange Ashes,” Elizabeth Elliot tells an apocryphal (not in the Bible) story of Jesus and his disciples. She illustrates how we second guess Jesus, predict how he will work in our lives and yet end up dispirited and downcast because we don’t realize that we cannot put Him in a box.

One day Jesus said to his disciples: “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulations for weight and size.

So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread.

He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.” In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up.

He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!” So he looked around and saw a small boulder.

He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.” Then Jesus said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up.

Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.” They did. Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk.

Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?”

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

When God gives us an instruction, realize that He sees beyond what we see today.
Moreover, we want to check our hearts to see if we’re obeying Him for His sake or obey Him for ours. The latter can be dangerous while the former brings glory to Him, which He rightfully deserves.

——–

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwhitepelican/

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RANDOM THOUGHTS: ONE NAME. FIVE WORDS. TWENTY ONE DAYS.

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ONE NAME.

Jesus. That’s the only name we desire to exalt.
It is in His name that we can find all we would ever need and desire – Savior, Provider, Lord, Master, Forgiver… our All in All.

FIVE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

1. CONTEND AGAINST.

The greater the breakthrough, the greater the warfare.
We are to contend in the Spirit without ceasing.

2. CONTEND WITH.

When we don’t fight as a family, we can’t win. We need to learn to fight as a family, fight not as a wrestler but as a centurion, arm in arm with fellow warriors. If we fight alone, we’re dead. If we fight together, we win.

3. CLEANSING.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

We want to be fit for the Master’s use. Repentance, turning and humility are keys to seeing this come to pass.

4. DELIVERANCE.

God will release people for His greater glory.
We’ve been seeing people set free from past hurts, sinful patterns, and emotional trauma.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

John 8:35 says that a servant doesn’t remain in the house forever, but a son does. A servant does the will of the Master because it is his duty but a son does the will of his Father because it is his delight.

5. SPIRITUAL POWER.

A greater move of the Spirit means greater opposition.

To see all that God is wanting to accomplish, it has to be birthed not in the physical but spiritual.

Jim Laffoon: “As this new building finishes, know that you are not just building a building but birthing a new era.”

We see the spirit of evangelism rise, prophetic prayer get activated and intercession/praying in the Spirit operate in a greater measure.

We are in an exciting season of our church.

Watch and see what God is going to do to a people surrendered to His love, will and leading.

“Nearness is a gift. Closeness is a daily choice.” (Jim Laffoon)
21 DAYS.

We sense that God is calling the leadership to a season of prayer and fasting. Starting July 10 – 31, pastors and leaders will be on a Daniel fast.

If you feel God is calling you to join us, go jump in with us whether for a week or 2 or whole 3 weeks.

The greatest breakthrough in fasting is not an answer to our prayer but the presence of God Himself.

Exciting times are up ahead.

———

INFORMATION ON DANIEL FAST BELOW:

http://www.gotquestions.org/Daniel-fast.html

http://daniel-fast.com/draw-closer-god/

http://daniel-fast.com/aboutthefast-2/

http://www.ultimatedanielfast.com/ultimate-daniel-fast-about-the-daniel-fast/


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LIFE CHANGE IS NOT THE GOAL

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The goal is not life change but Jesus.

We want to see a person’s life to change for the better. And that’s not a bad thing. It really isn’t. However, the problem with making it the goal is that if we push for change without emphasizing Jesus, change becomes merely external.

Drunkenness, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, substance abuse, greed, pride are all acts of the sinful nature. But asking a person to get rid of all these is purely external apart from introducing them to Christ. Life change is not the goal, Jesus is. When we introduce people to Jesus, as they realize the everlasting love He offers through the message of the gospel, people will embrace a greater value than what they are holding onto at the moment.

What happens on the inside will eventually show up on the outside.

Elevating conversation from life change to the Life Giver will radically shift the focus. Our goal is to bring them to Jesus. As we do, it is He who will bring the necessary adjustments according to His Word and in conformity with His time table. Remember He is God, not us. The Holy Spirit is the Change Agent not us. Sometimes we act as if we are the assistant of the Holy Spirit. We try to bring conviction in the lives of the people we are reaching out to. That’s not our job. It’s God’s Holy Spirit that will accomplish that.

Let me share a few things you can do:

1. Pray.
2. Serve the person you’re reaching out to.
3. Love him/her the way Jesus loved you and showed His grace upon you.
4. Use God’s Word to bring counsel for it has power more than our personal experience.
5. Trust God for the results.

May God give us wisdom as we share His love to those we love.


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THE BEST STORY TO TELL YOUR KIDS

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About 3 weeks ago, our eldest son, Nathan celebrated his spiritual birthday. We call it that because his physical birth was on November 24, but the day he gave his life to Christ was on July 17, years back when he was about 6 years old.

I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday. We were in the parking lot of SM Megamall listening to a song that mentioned the phrase “born again”. He got curious and asked us what it meant to experience rebirth or if it was even possilble to go back to mommy’s tummy.

We explained to him John chapter 3 when Nicodemus had the same question.  And on that day, God opened his spiritual eyes. I wish I can say he understood everything about his salvation that moment. But like you and me, we grow in the knowledge of our salvation. Coupled with that growing knowledge is the process of sanctification.

As parents, we can believe God for sensitivity to His Spirit so we can present the good news of salvation to our children. There is no greater inheritance we can leave to our kids than the legacy of the gospel. Putting them in the best schools is great. Enrolling them in athletic or musical workshops is admirable. Giving them outdoor education through travel is stellar. However, if they do not know Christ, all is in vain. 

Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

 The greattest value to Jesus is our soul. And it is for this reason that He came and atoned for our sins that we may have life and life to the full (John 10:10).

May God give us sensitivity to hear Him and spiritual insight to present the best story ever told – the gospel. 


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INSTANT vs. DELAYED GRATIFICATION

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Blog Banners.001“I want some Skittles! And I want them now!!!”

Many of us have had this situation in the grocery store check out line. Grocery stores are very smart. They strategically position the candies and toys right when we’re about to pay… at the time when the kids are tired, hungry, cranky and impatient after tagging along with mom and dad at the supermarket.

We live in a world where we can get things in an instant.
Information can be downloaded in a few seconds as compared to going to a library going through a card catalogue to get to the specific book we need.
Preparing dinner is now quick and easy through a microwave oven as compared to lighting up the stove, heating up the pan and cooking your meal.
Communication moves in lightning speed. Sending a letter is now as swift as blinking your eyes compared to getting an envelope, sticking a stamp and going to the post office send your mail.
Reading news is no longer through the paper bought from a newsstand but via Twitter that gives an update every minute.

It’s a completely different world. But unfortunately, it also has rewired the way we approach life. Because we are used to getting things quick, we feel incomplete and unresolved when we don’t.

And teaching our children to wait has become more complicated and arduous.

Delayed gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later reward based on a greater value.

Psychology Today wrote an article last year that explained it this way.

“In 1970 psychologist Walter Mischel famously placed a cookie in front of a group of children and gave them a choice: they could eat the cookie immediately, or they could wait until he returned from a brief errand and then be rewarded with a second. If they didn’t wait, however, they’d be allowed to eat only the first one. Not surprisingly, once he left the room, many children ate the cookie almost immediately. A few, though, resisted eating the first cookie long enough to receive the second.

Interestingly, the children who were best able to delay gratification subsequently did better in school and had fewer behavioral problems than the children who could only resist eating the cookie for a few minutes—and, further, ended up on average with SAT scores that were 210 points higher. As adults, the high-delay children completed college at higher rates than the other children and then went on to earn higher incomes. In contrast, the children who had the most trouble delaying gratification had higher rates of incarceration as adults and were more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.”

We need to help our children learn this trait. The earlier they get this, the less heartaches they will experience in the future.

One of the most effective ways to distract our kids from a tempting pleasure is to focus on another pleasure that is based on a greater value.
As Roy Disney said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

By not eating one cookie before dinner, I can have 2 after dinner.
Because I did not spend my money impulsively on a cheaper yet flimsy toy, I can buy a nicer and better one.
If i discipline myself to wake up early to exercise rather than sleep in, I feel
better physically and emotionally.
By keeping my purity before marriage, I end up enjoying greater intimacy with my future spouse without the unnecessary heartaches.

Presenting a greater value to the one that is right before us may seem abstract at the moment but once we wrap our heads around it, we will realize that it is a way better choice.

—–

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geracg/

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GRACIOUS CONVERSATION SEASONED WITH SALT

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You and I have met people who are curt and abrasive with their words that leave people wounded and hurt after a simple conversation.

On the other hand, we also have been with people who is all grace that it has become mere tolerance of sin. And THAT is  not biblical grace.

I recently was talking to a young person from church who had a bad experience. She looked up to this person because of her admirable leadership qualities. But with her strength came certain weaknesses. She was quick to cut conversations and swift to make conclusions. Most of the time, she was actually right. But the way it was done was offensive.

Many times, it is not what is being said but how it is said.

The other extreme is to merely listen and remain silent to the point of tolerance. I met with someone with a similar experience. His friend was clearly in sin. But since he wanted to stay connected with his friend, he didn’t want to say anything. It was borderline tolerance and condoning.

The Bible says that “wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

Paul says in Colossians 4:6,Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

May  know when to speak and when to listen, what to say and how to say it, and be a friend rather than an observer for open rebuke is better than hidden love.

PRAYER:

Lord, remind me that I have been given two ears and one mouth so that I may listen more and speak less. And when I speak, may I speak with truth combined with grace. You came, Word made flesh, dwelt among us full of grace and truth. May we live life as well filled with grace and truth. In Jesus name. Amen.

___

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/manuel_atienzar/


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IMPARTING WISDOM TO OUR CHILDREN

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Blog Banners.001Wisdom is seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstances.

Our children today are very smart. My eldest son actually has an IQ of 160. My second son can solve a Rubix cube in 30 plus seconds. My daughter’s musical ability is stellar. And my youngest son who is 6 years old is genius at being funny.

Kids these days can know a lot more from their parents because of Google and You Tube. The information they can gather over the internet is just limitless. (Read a recent blog I wrote about it.)

But as parents who have been entrusted with these amazing brains, how can we even help them if they know more about us? Well, they don’t (know more about us). Smart doesn’t necessarily mean wise. Wisdom comes from experience. Wisdom is applied knowledge.

Here are a few things we can do:

Teach them God’s standards from an early age.

Proverbs is a great way to impart wisdom. Since there are mostly 31 days in a month and 31 chapters in Proverbs, going through one chapter per day with them may be a good start. You may not need to read the whole chapter but simply choose a proverb or two that may apply to something they’re going through at the moment.

Remember that the goal is to train them to become fully functioning adults.

Our desire is to wean them off from us and get them connected to God. The trajectory is that as they become less dependent on us, they will become more dependent on God.

Dependence DIagram

Teach them to seek God through His Word, through prayer and through the counsel of godly mentors.

Remind them about the ‘best question ever.’

Andy Stanley proposes that once we’ve met Christ, the major question is no longer “is this sin?” or “is this legal or illegal?” or “is this moral or immoral?” Many times, we know the answer to these questions. But it’s the little decisions that lead up to that one big fall is what gets us.

He proposes that the best question ever is no longer “is it moral or immoral?” but “What’s the wise thing to do?” It may sound very simple but when we teach our kids this question, it will be incredibly helpful in making the right decisions.

Is it wrong to be in the car parked in a dark area of the village past midnight with your boyfriend? It’s not sin but it’s not necessarily wise.
Is it wrong to watch You Tube seven hours a day? It’s not wrong but it’s not necessarily wise.
Is it wrong to surf the internet all by yourself locked in your room past midnight without internet porn filters? It’s not sin but it’s also not wise.
Is it sin to eat ice cream every meal, every day? Not necessarily but it’s also not wise.

It’s the small decisions that lead up to that one big fall that gets to us.
This question is a good one to teach our kids.

May God give us discernment and lead us as we parent the next generation who rises up before us. I know we are all busy but I pray that we would be able to invest time in imparting wisdom to these precious ones that we’ve been entrusted with.

———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thearkev/


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