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One of the hardest things to go through in life is to be rejected.

Nobody wants it.
No one seeks for it.
None desire it.

But we’ve all experienced rejection in one way, shape or form.

Getting turned down by a client.
Being left for another man.
Experiencing abandonment by a parent.
And so on.

Jesus met a woman at the well in John chapter 4.
She is not unfamiliar with rejection for she has had 5 husbands and the one she is with at the moment wasn’t a permanent relationship probably to avoid further rejection in the future.

Jesus asks for a drink of water.
In her mind, she was asking why this rabbi would approach her.
Number 1, it was obvious that she was a woman.
This was not kosher in those days.
Number 2, she was a Samaritan.
Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans.

But in her mind, she was probably thinking that if this rabbi knew her deepest secrets, he would end up rejecting her as well. And more than verbal rejection, he would probably have her stoned to death.

“Good thing he doesn’t know about my immoral past.”
Or so she thought.

Jesus asks her, “Go call your husband and come back.” (John 4:16)
“What should I say? If I tell him about my 5 husbands plus the one that is not mine, I’d get rejected again.”
She gives Jesus a safe answer and says, “I don’t have a husband.”

To this, Jesus said, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:17-18)

He knows!!!

But here’s the thing. Jesus offered her living water. And He did that way before she confessed her real condition and situation. Jesus knew her fully but loved her unconditionally by offering her living water.

Here’s the principle:

To be loved and not known is superficial.
To be known and not loved is rejection.
But to be fully known and yet unconditionally loved
is the heart of the gospel.

You and I have been rejected because of who we are and what we’ve done. But Jesus loves us unconditionally even though He knew us completely.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
He showed His love before we even came to Him.
Way before we went to church.
Way before we started reading our Bible.
Way before we acknowledged His presence in our lives.

I love how Bishop Juray put it:

“Our God knows us at our worst and yet is the One that loves us the most.”

Next time you feel rejected, remember that you are accepted by your Heavenly Father.
Through Christ, you are loved, received and accepted.

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I grew up playing baseball. And in baseball, there’s a thing that you would call as a pinch runner. A pinch runner is a baseball player who comes in the game for the specific purpose of replacing a player on base. The pinch runner substitutes for the other player either because of an injury or simply being skillfully better at base running.

In 1974, Herb Washington played Major League Baseball for the Oakland A’s. He played as a pinch runner. That year his team won the World Series championship. Washington, in his entire career, played 105 games, scoring 33 runs for his team without ever hitting a single baseball.

The Bible says that Jesus took our place in Calvary. Because of our sin, we should have been the ones nailed to the cross to pay for the penalty of our sin. But because Jesus became our substitute, God looks at us with approval and acceptance, forgiven and righteous as if we’ve never sinned.

Herb Washington received a trophy (with the team) in 1974 without ever hitting a baseball. Points were accredited to his stats when he scored runs even if he didn’t had times at bat. He never hit a homerun and yet he got a trophy.

We didn’t do anything to receive approval from God and yet we have a trophy on our hands, being given a thumbs up sign by God not because of what we have achieved but because of what was achieved for us by Jesus.

If we wrap our brains around this truth, this is so powerful that we will realize that we can approach and enter because we are assured 
of His acceptance and approval. Now, the ramifications are endless.

If you are a student, you don’t need to succumb to peer pressure because you know that you are accepted by the most important person in your life – Jesus.
If you are a single man/woman, you don’t need to compromise your convictions to feel accepted. Your Heavenly Father approves of you and gives you a thumbs up sign because you have Jesus in your life. You don’t have to get drunk with friends to feel accepted nor give in to your boyfriend/girlfriend’s sexual pressure to gain their acceptance and approval. The Lover of your soul accepts you and approves of you for who you are.

It also addresses a gamut of issues in life, particularly rejection.

Low self-image
Displays facade
Man pleasing spirit
Self-hate/self-rejection
Fear of rejection
Withdrawn personality
Earns approval by hard work or being good
Feels incomplete
Can’t receive love

These can work into our souls without us even realizing because we forget that we have been accepted by our Heavenly Father as we place our faith on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice in Calvary.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.(Ephesians 2:13,16)

Remember this, you are loved, accepted and approved by your Father in Heaven. Because of that, you can live life without the pressure of trying to perform, impress and measure up.

Nothing to prove. No one to impress.
I am accepted.

Lord, thank you for this truth. Help me grab a hold of this truth daily. I go to school or work knowing that I have nothing to prove and no one to impress. Take away the man-pleasing spirit in me. The only One I am called to please is You. In my understanding of the approval of God, I can live freely knowing that my Father looks at me with a thumbs up sign each and every moment because of Jesus. In Your name I pray. AMEN.

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Someone approached me last Saturday at our Every Nation Building Phase 2 Event. I wasn’t sure at first why she wanted to speak to me but after listening to her, I was so delighted to have spoken to her.

Arlene attended Victory Fort years ago but moved to Singapore to work for Yahoo for about 6 years. She is now back in Manila on route to Canada.

She related her story regarding how she struggled with smoking. She knew she needed to quit. She understood the physiological and spiritual ramifications of her habit but couldn’t seem to shake it off.

She’s asked her small group leader, Joyce, to stand with her all this time to believe God for freedom from this habit. She appreciated her small group leader for not only praying with her but also for accepting her without condemnation.

Arlene said she came across my blog entitled “How About Smoking or Drinking” a few months ago that helped her build convictions to finally get rid of smoking. She’s been off it 4 months now and praises God for the victory.

Paul the apostle addresses the issue of those that are weak in the faith in Romans 14 and 15. He says that there are those who are weak in the faith that abstains from eating food sacrificed to idols. On the other hand, there are those who’s faith allows them to eat without guilt. The church was divided over this issue and Paul expressed that in the essentials, we are to be solidly united. But in the non-essentials, we can have liberty over certain issues.

  1. ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER.

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)

We have a tendency to major in the minors – from worship style to clothing to what type of instruments we can use in church.

“One person believes he may eat anything while the weak person eats only vegetables.” (Romans 14:2)

While we may have different preferences, opinions and styles, we can move forward as the church of Jesus but being solid on the non-negotiables – salvation by faith, the Triune God and the cross.

  1. BUILD ONE ANOTHER.

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)

We are called to build and not tear down. Paul warns the church to not cause anyone to stumble. Furthermore, he warns the believers to not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. It is not good to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Romans 14:20-21)

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “What is the greater value?”

Our comfort or God’s kingdom?

Coolness factor or a soul saved for Christ?

Relevance or our relationship with Jesus?

Is Jesus our greatest value?

Romans 14:8 says that if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we died, we are the Lord’s.

Paul establishes the fact that we are no longer our own. Because we are not our own, our decisions are now determined by the One who does. We have been bought with a price. Our life is no longer ours alone.

  1. CELEBRATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” (Romans 15:10)

The goal is not uniformity but unity. We can have unity in the midst of diversity. We are called to appreciate it and even celebrate it.

Unity in diversity is a possibility as we aim to give God the glory.

If this is our goal – God’s glory – then we can move towards the same finish lines as long as He is our finish line.

 

I served as a Guidance Counselor for a school for several years concurrently while I was a Kids Church pastor. I remember when a young girl came to my office alarmed and panicky because her parents told her that if she didn’t make it to first honor, they will cancel their family trip to Hong Kong. For a 9 year old girl, that was a lot of weight to carry on her shoulders. Imagine, all your siblings will get mad that they won’t get to see Mickey and ride Ocean Park’s Hair Raiser roller coaster just because she didn’t make it to first honors.

I had to talk to her parents and let her know how burdened their daughter felt with that condition. I appreciate their humility for acknowledging their mistake merely wanting to inspire not knowing it was bringing the opposite effect.  They apologized to their daughter and changed their stand.

Acceptance is embracing people for who they are rather than what they do.
Our children need to feel that we accept them whether they get first honor or a failing grade, made a 3 point shot or complete miss the rim, make it to the cheer dance team or get cut from the team.

When we show unconditional acceptance, we give our children a sense of security.

What we are communicating to our kids is this: “I don’t love you because of what you do or what you accomplish. I love you because you are my child. Our love and affection towards you are not based on grades, performance, accomplishments or even behavior.”

We live in a highly performance oriented society. If we get first honor, we are rewarded. If we make it to varsity, we become the favorite in the family. If we win in the student council, we end up being the topic in the family reunion.

That goes on through adulthood. When we land a good job, we are the jewel of the clan. When we achieve something that none in the family has achieved, we become highly favored.

That is why we have a lot of frustrated and badly hurt people because they can’t seem to win the approval of the people they dearly love.

In the process, our kids end up feeling unaccepted, insecure and lack a sense of belongingness.

Obviously, the counter balance is for our children to not strive or endeavor to be the best at their field.

But what I am saying is that as they desire to excel, we appreciate their praiseworthy attempts than criticize for not making the cut.

Acceptance says “I love you no matter what.”

Jesus showed us unconditional acceptance. He didn’t die for us after we started obeying. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 5:8, “He demonstrated His love to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

He accepted us way before we were worthy of being accepted.

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NOTE: This is part 2 of a 4 week series on Capturing Your Child’s Heart.
To read week 1, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serendipityfoto/3730898356

I had a meal with a young man some time ago.

He opened up to me that he has been trying to measure up to his parents expectations but he just couldn’t. Unfortunately, this has been carried over to his relationship with Jesus. He told me that growing up, when he doesn’t make it to a particular grade, his father gets upset. Worse, he gets compared with his siblings.

This is not an isolated situation.

Having been a kids pastor for 11 years before, I have heard kids being told that if they don’t make it to second honor, they will not go to Hong Kong Disneyland. Now, that’s pressure. The whole family vacation was placed on the shoulders of that particular 3rd grade student.

This is why the gospel is so freeing.
The redemption story is indeed redeeming.

Jesus destroys any performance orientation embedded in our psyche.

He accomplished what we couldn’t.
He performed what we were unable to.
He finished what we couldn’t even sustain.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

If we are unable to wrap our brains around this, we will end up trying to please our Heavenly Father to gain His favor.
Remember, if you are a child of God, you don’t have to try to gain His favor. You ALREADY have His favor through Christ.

Jesus loves you the way you are.
But He loves you too much to let you remain the way you are.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7