DON’T JUST GROW OLD IN THE FAITH BUT GROW UP

It’s so easy to replace the message of the gospel with other fillers as we chronologically advance in our walk with God.

I say chronologically advance because it is possible to grow old in the faith but not necessarily grow up in our faith journey.

Meet a few of hypothetical church members that may be sitting in our pews these days.

1. Busy Bobby

Bobby is busy jumping from one church conference to the next, a current ministry to an additional one and one church activity to another.

However, Bobby’s world and God’s world have never crossed paths. All the church activities have had little impact on his heart and on how his life is being lived.

For him, the gospel is reduced to participation in church activities and ministries.

2. Legalistic Louie

Louie has a set of rule for every situation. He is a walking list of dos and don’ts. His children sees Christianity as a set of rules which has become a heavy burden to carry.

Legalism ignores the depth of our inability to earn God’s favor and pursues the goal of performing to gain God’s nod.

3. Mystic Marie

Marie thrives on emotional experiences. She hops from one conference to another hoping to get a spiritual high every time.

However, while goose bumps are experienced, her faith often falls flat. She faces discouragement and depression 24/7.

Our faith in Christ is not stoic. Our Christianity is peppered with human emotion. However, we cannot reduce the gospel to mere emotional experiences with Jesus.

4. Theological Thomas

Thomas knows the Bible inside and out. He has memorized hundreds of verses and can cite different theological views by every known Bible scholar out there.

However, his character is far from being Christ-like. He is arrogant, critical and looks down on people who opposes his views.

He has mastered the Word but has not allowed the Word to master him.

5. Psychological Sally

Sally loves God but is an offense magnet. Because of the rejection she has experienced in life, she looks to the Word to bring healing and restoration. And rightly so.

But if we see others’ sin as greater than our own, we have a tendency to see Christ as a therapist rather than Savior.

We are flawed and in major debt yet we are unconditionally loved and accepted.

The Bible is not a mere self help book. It is the narrative of God’s redemptive plan for you and me.

These have become replacements to the gospel.

I love what Karl Barth said when asked what’s the one most profound theological precept he has ever encountered.

This was his answer, “Jesus loves me this I know… for the Bible tells me so.”

The gospel is not a self help technique. It is not a mere emotional experience neither a theological thought. It is not a way to gain favor from God.
It is a message that we receive, believe and respond to.
It is good news. This is the gospel by which we have been saved.

The gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

WHAT DRIVES YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE?

I remember when I was young, whenever I’d feel bad about my spiritual condition, I’d go confess my sins and I would be told to pray a number of memorized prayers and then my sins would be “absolved.”

I carried this over in my faith journey when I met Christ. There were moments when I would feel bad about what I ‘ve done, I would ‘punish’ myself by not watching TV or going out with friends for a week.

But before the ‘penalty week’ was over, I would end up doing the same thing again and another week would be added.

It came to a point that I couldn’t even fulfill the commitment to punish myself.

This kept on, not realizing that guilt was what was driving my spiritual life.

If I felt guilty, I’d go to church.
If I felt guilty, I’d read my Bible more.
If I felt guilty, I’d serve others.
If I felt guilty, I’d give extra in the offering plate.

But that’s not what Jesus died for.

The gospel tells us that we have been freed from guilt and shame.

Much more, it never works for guilt to drive my spiritual life.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us.”

In other words, it understanding that I am loved by Him… unconditionally.
THAT is what drives me to love Him back.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I pray that this would be a gentle reminder for everyone of us as we start off this week with Jesus as our number 1 priority.

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PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24278074@N08/

NOT ALL THAT COUNTS CAN BE COUNTED

In a 2 day strategic planning for our discipleship ministry at Victory.  All 13 churches in the Metro together with the Senior Pastors and other lead pastors seeking God to find out what’s next.

At the front end, Ferdie Cabiling, the senior pastor from our Ortigas church, shared something powerful.  While numbers are important, it is not the primary indicator of success.  It’s awesome that we are growing, but growth is never just about numbers.

There were 4 questions he posted to all of us to ask as a ministry, church and individuals.

1. ARE YOU BEING FAITHFUL?

Matthew 25:23 tells us “Well done, good and FAITHFUL servant…”  He didn’t say well done, good and successful servant or good and numerous servants.

God’s called us to be faithful to what we’ve been called to do.

2. ARE YOU BEING FRUITFUL?

Jesus says in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.”  When we bear fruit, God is glorified.

Fruit is not just about numbers.  When Paul wrote about fruitfulness in Galatians 5:22, he spoke about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Am I moving in love?  How about in joy and peace?  Or how about patience and kindness?  Fruitfulness in this area brings the Father glory.

3. ARE YOU FULFILLED?

When the master commended the servant as good and faithful, he was asked to enter into the joy of the Lord.  When we submit to God and obey what we’ve been called to do, joy is a natural result.

Whatever you do, as you do it in accordance to His will, will result in greater fulfillment.

4. ARE YOU MAKING JESUS FAMOUS?

At the end of the day, it is the name of Jesus that we’re lifting up.  It’s never been about Steve Murrell, Joey Bonifacio, Manny Carlos, Juray Mora, Ferdie Cabiling nor Jun Escosar. Neither it’s been about Victory or Every Nation.  Jesus is who we want to exalt.  It is He who is the head of the church.  It is He alone is worthy of all our praise, honor and worship.

As Ferdie ended his message, he quoted a statement Albert Einstein delivered years ago which says…

NOT ALL THAT COUNTS CAN BE COUNTED.
BUT NOT ALL THAT CAN BE COUNTED COUNTS.