CHRISTIANITY ‘LITE’

The perennial statement: “I need to go on a diet.”

Not sure if you’ve said this before.  If you’ve never, congrats.  You’re either a hunk or a hottie.

But to the ‘average’ person like us, we’ve said this time and time again.

Thus, the invention of ‘lite’ foods – Coke light, Breyers light, Mayo lite, Coffee Mate light, Spam light, Tuna chunks light plus all the other products you can think of.

Even iPad apps have them – from Angry Birds lite to Fitness lite.

Their tagline?
Same flavor; less filling.
Great taste; less ingredients.

But we carry that over, unfortunately to our life with Christ.

Same flavor; less filling.  Great experience; less ingredients.

Jesus just becomes one of the ingredients of our week – 1 cup of work, 2 teaspoons of friends, 5 pints of family plus a dash of Jesus to cover all bases.

No wonder why we see ‘lite’ transformation… ‘lite’ lifechange … ‘lite’ adjustment … in our lives.

Same person; just different packaging.

Now we to church.  We carry a Bible around.  We say the right words like ‘Praise God’ and ‘God is good’ (‘all the time’).

But after peeling off the veneer, it’s the same rotten, depraved, lost person.

Jesus doesn’t want to just be one of the ingredients in your near perfect life.  When He comes in, He takes over.  He is not just Savior (to get us out of the mess we got ourselves into).  He is LORD.  And that means boss, in charge and the One who calls the shots.

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we die … so that He can live in us and through us.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

FOUND

I became a Christ follower when I was 17 years old.  Before, when I talk to people about my faith journey, I tell them that I was seeking for truth, seeking for peace … seeking for God.

Then at 17, I found Christ and received Him into my life as Lord and Savior.

That’s how I would share my story before until I read the verse that changed my perspective.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

In other words, I DID NOT find God.  It was the other way around.  He FOUND ME.

In fact, He was never lost.  I was the one who was lost.  I was the one that needed finding.

Amazing grace… How sweet the sound … that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I’m found…

THE ONE THING AS A PARENT…

Parents have many job descriptions – from driving to disciplining, providing to preparing, teaching to training, changing diapers to changing flat tires of their teen’s car.

But of all the different things a parent has to do, the most important thing is to make sure that they point their kids to Jesus.

All the education, food on the table, discipline, travels around the world, and every provision a parent can admirably give to their kids are in vain if they don’t meet Christ.

And I say that unapologetically.

Nothing else will compare to see your kids walk with God.

Our kids can get athletic gold medals, make it to the dean’s list, get academic scholarships, land a good job, generate millions in income but if Christ is no where in the radar, all of it is useless.

Paul says to live is Christ but to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)

To live for anything else is in vain because to die will be a major loss for we cannot bring any of it to the next life.

I brought my 12 year old to the Ignite Youth conference hoping she can encounter Christ in an amazing way. Hope she did.

What then is my goal? To point my kids to Jesus so they can encounter Him and have a living and loving relationship with Him.

Worship Time during IGNITE 2011

WHAT IF IT STILL DOESN’T MAKE SENSE

In our recent Victory Fort Fun Day, I spoke to Harley, a young man who went through quite an experience in the last 4 months.

He told me that last Monday was supposed to be the day he had planned to propose to his girlfriend.

However, last February, right after Valentine’s Day, she broke up with him because of another guy.

This pushed him to a downward spiral that led to depression, sleepless nights and suicidal attempts.

Psychiatrists gave him tranquilizers and sleeping pills to help him through but to no avail.  He said that he’d sleep within 15 minutes but wake up in 10 and he’ll need to get another dosage.

It was then that while he was surfing the net that he chanced upon a verse that said,

“For I know the plans I have for you… Plans not to harm you but to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This hit him so hard that he thought that there must be a lot more nuggets of truth from the Bible.  He then asks friends if they knew a Bible study, small group, prayer group… something.

It is then that he gets connected to Rico Wong, one of our most prolific and faithful Victory small group leaders.

Since then, he has been lifted out of the pit of depression, set free from unforgiveness and learned to walk by faith not by sight.

Jesus set him free and we have Him to thank.

Harley told me that to this day, it still doesn’t make sense why God allowed what happened to happen.  But in the mean time, he determined to keep worshipping Jesus and serve Him.

He now serves every Saturday teaching the Bible to 50 street children.

God may never tell him His reasons but Harley found a truth that will carry him through the heights and the valleys.

We may never get all the answers to our questions, but we know and trust in His character – loving, faithful, just, righteous – knowing the End from the Beginning.

We may never know what the future holds, but at least we know who holds it.

HOPEFUL ANTICIPATION

These are my 2 words for the coming year – HOPEFUL ANTICIPATION.

You’ve had that experience. As a child, you’ve wanted that toy (Gameboy, Game and Watch, Game whatever) and a few days before Christmas, you overheard your parents talking about their gift to you. Yes! That very thing you wanted.

Christmas eve, nestled under the tree is a box nicely wrapped. You sit on the sofa with no one around. In the corner of your eye, you see your name on the box. Guess what’s plastered on your face? A smile that cannot be explained. A simper on the corner of your mouth. Why? Because you just know.

YOU JUST KNOW…

Hopeful anticipation!

You can be anticipating something but in fear or in anxiety. That’s not what we’re talking about.

Hopeful anticipation is different.

YOU JUST KNOW!

You just know … that whatever happens, your Father has your best interests in mind.
You just know … that even in lack, God is able to come through with provision. (Phil. 4:19)
You just know… that in times of uncertainty, you will never be shaken because He is at your right hand (Ps. 16:8)
You just know… that though things don’t work out the way you planned them, He is able to cause all things to work for your good. (Rom. 8:28).

YOU JUST KNOW!

Happy New Year everyone!

“DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID?”

I feel this is a question God would probably need to ask me every so often.  As I journey in this life of faith, missing out on what He said is a major possibility.

In Luke chapter 8, we find the story of Jesus calming the storm.

Right before they got onto the boat to go to the other side of the lake, Jesus said,

“Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” (Luke 8:22)

How important was that statement?  Very…

Once the squall came, we find the disciples panicking while Jesus was sleeping.

Too often we find ourselves panicking when squalls come.  But if we listen to what He said, then maybe, just maybe we won’t find ourselves in a panic.

“Let us go over the other side of the lake.”

He didn’t say ‘let’s go under’.  He didn’t say, ‘see you in heaven.’  Neither did He say, ‘It was great to have met you guys.’

He said let us go over the other side.

His next question was, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)

Another mistake we often commit – our eyes on our circumstances rather than on the God of the circumstances.

Lord, teach us to rest on who You are and  what You’ve said in Your Word.

HE SEES IT WAY BEFORE

“I don’t know if I can…”

“Maybe I’m not the person for this…”

“How do you know I can…”

These are a few questions that may run through our mind when God asks us to accomplish a task for Him.

This was God’s statement to Gideon.

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)

The funny thing is this – he hasn’t even gone to war yet!

None… nada… zilch.

But God declared way before the first battle, ‘you are a mighty warrior.’  You are the man!  You can do it.

The key was the next statement God gives him,

“I WILL be with you…” (Judges 6:16)

This only says one thing – we can’t but God can.

Then that settles it.

PERFECTLY SATISFIED

George Mueller’s one of my heroes of the faith.

He was an intense Christ-follower, a great man of faith, and director of orphanages in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well-known for providing an education to the children under his care.

A story is told when his wife became ill with rheumatic fever, he went to God in prayer…

“Yes, my Father, the times of my darling wife are in Thy hands.  Thou wilt do the very best thing for her and for me, whether life or death.  If it may be, raise up yet again my precious wife – Thou art able to do it, though she is so ill; but howsoever Thou dealest with me, only help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Thy holy will.”

What a prayer!

However you deal with me, only help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Your holy will.

Wow.  What quiet assurance!

Lord, when tough circumstances arise, I know that You are more than able to deliver.  But when You don’t, help me to continue to be perfectly satisfied with Your holy will. AMEN!

HOW THICK IS YOUR FAITH?

Picture 1“It’s not the size of your faith but the object of your faith.”

Jenn and I stayed in St. Petersburg, Russia for a year to help Pastor Michael Paderes plant a church.  During our stay, we were able to go through the complete four season experience – summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Winter time, Neva River, the main river that runs thru St. Pete freezes over.  We’ve had the fun experience of walking on top of it.

But before stepping onto the ice, because it’s my first time, there’s a level of fear/anxiety that comes.  I can try to convince myself and speak positivity into the situation and say “I won’t go through and sink… I won’t go through and sink… I won’t go through and sink.”  No matter how hard I try to convince myself, if the ice is just 2 inch thick, I’ll be an ice cube in no time.

However, if I stand by the river, though I may be full of anxiety, yet if the ice is 2 feet thick, when I jump, I will not go through.

The point?  It’s not about the size of our faith but the object of our faith.  Why can we jump into the river?  Because our God is big, no matter how small our faith is.