Posted: March 29th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
At first glance I thought that the mall failed to store their Christmas decor. Maybe they were extending the life of the decor and just added Easter eggs? Was it their way of getting an ice cream sponsor? Or was it the sponsor that wanted snow with the eggs?
I watched a family of Asian foreigners who were not familiar with the celebration of the season take pictures of their children around the colorful decor. Why not, it makes sense, it’s hot, people are out of town which makes for a dreary city and ice-cream is good to have right now, now that deserves a photo. From that point of view snow, colored eggs and ice-cream all makes sense.
It’s not the mall’s or the sponsor’s fault the Easter message has become unclear but the Church’s. If we don’t disciple people into the truth of the Gospel and it’s significance, like Christmas Easter will be just as confusing and irrelevant that people will end up defining the reason for the holiday. Like Christmas, Easter will be about snow, in the tropics?
Frankly, I like the idea of color, cool and ice-cream. They’re enjoyable. And isn’t that what the resurrection of Jesus is all about anyway? Christians need to be able to communicate the eternal message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in fresh new ways. There is still no story that is as vivid and true.
There’s good news!
The good news is that churches are starting to realize the importance and value of fresh presentations. One such is Church Simplified. For some years now they have been hosting a Holy Week stations of the cross at Bonifacio High Street, that is not just creative, inter-active but is an amazing and accurate presentation of the Gospel. Thankfully people flocked and the impact was invaluable.
I have visited twice this Holy Week. And yesterday my wife and I brought my 82 year old mother who enjoyed the whole experience. The atmosphere was festive and I kept bumping into guys from Victory, including an entire small group. Lou Gokian (right of me) who leads a group of students and young professionals together with his wife had the right idea of fellowship and yes, Jamba Juice.
I will be praying that other places will open up for a similar presentation.
It’s not too late to go and visit, the whole thing will be there till Sunday.
I pray, O Lord, that a new generation of disciples will come forth who will creatively communicate the true story of the season in ways that are not just traditional but fresh, engaging and most of all life changing.
And by the way the snow, ice-cream and Easter eggs are also still at Podium, I think they open tomorrow. Happy Easter everyone!
Posted: March 27th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
There are very few people whom you meet and bring you a “breath of fresh air.”
One such person is Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands and co-founder of the Association of Related Churches (ARC).
At breakfast with Chris I was amazed at the similarities in the churches we lead and the way he has led. No doubt we come from very different worlds but listening to him brought encouragement to see that discipleship and helping people take small steps into the kingdom of God was not something we were the only one’s doing. Even sermon planning and volunteer ministries had so many parallels.
After meeting Chris I decided to buy Chris’ book, “Fresh Air” before I left the States last week. I read it in the plane and could not put it down.
The book takes off about a man named Onesiphorus, an obscure, unknown man who is not as big a name as Abraham, David or Paul. And yet Paul said, ”May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me…” 2Timothy 1:16
I found Chris to be a a breath of fresh air in the brief time I had with him. But unlike Onesiphorus, Chris was not as obscure. Actually he is the senior pastor of one of the fastest growing church in the United States according to Outreach Magazine.
Thankfully at the time I met him I did not know that. And there was nothing about Chris that indicated that he had such a distinction. All there was, was humble man who carried an air of loving God and people.
Three things I found so good about his book:
1. Organic and story filled. Fresh Air brings to life his life experiences and the people whom he has encountered and journeyed through his Christian life. It is a good reminder and confirmation that the Christian life is about God and His people.
2. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Chris’ book was oozing with my own belief that life is all about relationships. From his own family, father-in-law, church members etc. He tells the story of Grandma Hornsby, his wife’s grandmother and his own grandmother Ma Maw Hodges and their impact on his faith.
Come to think of it, it was also my grandmother who first got me going in my oen journey with Christ.
3. Practical and not ethereal. His book covered many practical yet theologically solid truths that was applied to real life in real time. It did not have the fragile, delicate, airy Christianity that was not available to everyone.
Spending time with Chris and reading his book boosted my desire to keep seeking God in order to grow in my personal relationship with Him. Secondly it has given me a resolve that I will always be a breath of fresh air to the people I meet, just like Chris.
Posted: March 25th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 1 Comment »
At last Saturday’s UFC Georges St. Pierre fought Nick Diaz. The thought of the fight, the pressure and endurance both fighters went through helped me with this post today.
Do not be uninformed life has challenging circumstances.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” 1Corinthians 1:8
Even the best of Christians experience trouble under great pressure FAR BEYOND one’s abilities. Sometimes to the point of desperation for life itself. I know I have.
“Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” 2 Corinthians 1:19a
Paul said these circumstances are like having received the “sentence of death.” On occasion I’ve asked God why would you allow such a thing to happen to me? The Bible tells us:
“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2Corinthians 1:9b
One of the reasons God allows these things to happen to us is to bring us to the place where we do not rely on ourselves but ONLY on God. To trust that even the toughest situations and most extreme situations (like raising the dead) is something only He deliver us from.
So if you find yourself in tough, desperate situations including being wrestled down by Georges St, Pierre. Remember…
“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,…” 2Corinthians 1:10
In this one verse we find the word deliver repeated three times. We know that when the Bible does that the writer is emphasizing the point. God desires to deliver us. Three key thoughts here:
1. God will deliver us. The word deliver literally means to take one from the clutches of a strong power to bring him into the hands of a greater power. It means to be rescued. What ever situation the devil has you in – realize that God wants to deliver you from it.
2. He will deliver us again. No matter how many times you find yourself held captive by any power, situation or even death itself – remember He will deliver you again. And again and again, repeatedly.
3. He will continually deliver us. Paul makes the final point that God wants to, he desires to deliver us in all our situations. Don’t think that God’s deliverance is a one time event. The good news is His deliverance is timeless.
Much like the Gospel of Christ is not a one time experience but a timeless truth – God’s deliverance will be there each and every time. Our assurance has and always will be the death of His own Son to deliver us from the stronghold of sin and Satan.
As you start your Holy Week put your trust in the reality that God has delivered, continues to deliver and will deliver us from any trying situation we face – continually!
Gospel In The Present
Posted: March 24th, 2013 | Filed under: Podcasts | No Comments »
Many of us are familiar with the word, ‘gospel.’ We may have heard about it in school or in church. But do we fully understand what it is — that it is more than just ‘good news?’ Learn the true meaning of ‘gospel’ in our new series, “Timeless!”
Posted: March 22nd, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 2 Comments »
I heard this statement from a man I just met at the latest gathering of the GKPN in Dallas.
Over the last four years I have been attending the Global Kingdom Partners Network. A by invitation gathering of ministers from various Christian streams from all the continents of the world.
His name is Dishan Wickramaratne, senior pastor of The People’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Despite pressure and intense persecution, Dishan, his family and church continue to be a shining light for the Gospel in his country.
Dishan made one simple statement at the recent gathering that resonated so strongly, it was one message that I could not forget. He said:
“You can worship God, listen to the Word of God and fellowship with the saints throughout eternity when you get to heaven, but there is one thing you cannot do in heaven, you cannot evangelize the lost.”
His words struck a cord in me. First for its simple truth. Secondly, because Dishan is absolutely right. Here are my three thoughts from Dishan’s statement:
1. The opportunity to lead people to God is for a limited time only. One day that opportunity will end. As Christians we need to realize this.
2. That being the case, it is an urgent business that each of us need to attend to, if necessary something that we should take into account with every passing day. Dishan encourages his church to consciously reach out to one person every week.
3. Pray for people. Pray for opportunities and open doors to the hearts of people. Ask the Holy Spirit for divine appointments so that you can keep doing on earth the one thing you won’t be able to do in heaven.
May The Holy Spirit grant us the joy of sharing the Gospel for the limited time we have on this earth. Have a great weekend!
Posted: March 20th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 1 Comment »
It’s a captivating story about a young evangelist who was eager to go anywhere to preach the Gospel. As he stopped to get some gas he was startled when the woman in the counter informed him that the gas had been payed for. Apparently the Holy Spirit had spoken to the woman that he was an evangelist and that God had wanted her to pay for his gas. He was pleasantly blessed.
When he finally got to the church to preach he was given the largest offering he had ever received at one time. But the story does not end there, God spoke to him and told him to give the entire offering to a visiting missionary who was there at the church. Reluctantly he obeyed God but proceeded to endorse the check and give it to the missionary.
At dinner after service an elderly gentleman asked him about the offering. It was an awkward moment but the man was relentless, to the point that he wanted to know where the check was. He reluctantly lied by telling him it was in the car so as not to reveal he had given the check away. It was then that the man said, “The check’s not in the car.” Surprised he asked him, “How did you know that? “Because God told me.”
What the man said next was even more shocking, God told the man to tell him that “God is about to teach you about giving so that you can teach the Body of Christ.” After which he handed him a check that was 10 times the amount of the earlier offering. This would be the beginning of the life journey of Robert Morris, Senior Pastor Gateway Church and author of the book, The Blessed Life. Gateway Church is located at Southlake, just outside of Dallas-Fortworth.
A journey of radical generosity and giving. The re-telling of this story reminds us that as we go through this week, our lives as children of God involve a life of radical giving and generosity. God in His very nature is a giver that He gave us His very own Son.
I have read The Blessed Life, actually twice. That’s how good it is. But after visiting with Pastor Robert and his team at Gateway, I am urged to read it yet another time. Much of what I read was demonstrated. Marie and I were hosted by the church in ways that was just over the top.
They have piled heaps of books, materials, food, lodging and genuine love to us. More than teaching us the blessed life they demonstrated it.
Thanks Pastor Robert and Debbie we have indeed been blessed by your lives.
Posted: March 18th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,…” 2Corinthians 1:3
Nothing and no one can comfort us like God. Fact is we are comforted when we praise God for who He is. It’s hard to explain how God comforts us. In essence He does it in our spirit by strengthening us on the inside in ways only He can do. Thus His comfort is over ALL.
“…who comforts us in all our troubles,…” 2Corinthians 1:4a
His desire is to comfort you in ALL your troubles. If your relationships are not where they should be, if you’re feeling sick, If you don’t have money right now, or you’re stuck in your career, God is here to comfort you.
Close your eyes for a minute and visualize that God is with you desiring to bring you comfort. And because He is the God of all comfort he is able to comfort you in ALL your troubles regardless of what they are or how big they may be.
I suggest you reread these verses until you ingrain them in your soul that God wants to comfort you in ALL your troubles because He is the God of ALL comfort.
“…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. “2Corinthians 1:4b
But as anything in the kingdom of God, the reason why God comforts you is so that you can be a source of comfort to others. He does not comfort you so that you can simply be comfortable.
He comforts you so that you can bring comfort to others. To comfort means to bring strength, hope and invigorate others. The mistake is when we think that God want us to be comfortable, worse when we think we are able to at some point comfort ourselves.
Genuine comfort only comes from God, primarily through the realization that God brought the greatest source of all comfort, His Son who died on the cross so that we may be comforted. Our ability to bring comfort is largely for the purpose of comforting others.
In a way this is our role as disciple makers. We receive comfort from God and then bring comfort to others. And when we do the inexhaustible ability to be comforted by God flows in and through us.
Have a great week!
(Thank you Boom Boncan for the photo above)
Posted: March 15th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 1 Comment »
He achieved the all American honors in football and was drafted into the NFL. He played for the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers. But with success Miles McPherson found himself strapped in drug abuse.
In 1984 Miles encountered the Lord Jesus and became a Christian. In 1986, after retiring from football Miles went back to school and received a Masters Degree in Divinity. Today he pastors Rock Church in San Diego.
I met Miles at a fellowship of Christian leaders two days ago in Dallas. While hanging out with him I asked him what was the closest thing in his heart as a Christian in recent times. Here were his three thoughts:
1. People are amazing. He says, “the fact is people are amazing only because they are all made in the image of God. Sadly while we’re supernatural people most people live like dogs. Not realizing that within us is a potential to reflect the glory of God.”
I guess for a former “druggie,” turned pastor who leads a congregation of 12,000, who has written several books and bagged an Emmy Award as producer of a documentary Master Meth, Miles knows what he’s talking about. There’s something amazing in all of us. It’s time we changed our perspective and see ourselves the way God sees us.
In his words, “We were made as Ferraris and we need to stop driving through life like we’re beat down volkswagens.”
2. It’s time to expose the deception. He says, “God made us for mansions but we choose to live in Ghettos. We often settle for second best. I asked Miles, what he meant by that. He replied, “we live as prisoners of our attitudes, self-image, perspectives and even of our own physical bodies’ limitations.”
Exposing the deception allows us to reach out for the real answer:
3. Jesus. I love Miles’s response to how to overcome the deception. “Jesus.” He is the One who restores us back into the image of God. Knowing that it is He who does that makes us appreciate the truth that we are amazing and yet enables us to walk in submission and humility.
Jesus gives us the reality that we are unique, valuable and yet we are not created just for ourselves but are meant to share our amazing lives with others. In many ways that’s the simple meaning of discipleship, sharing one’s amazing life in Christ with others.
Your weekend thoughts: Drive through life the way your were designed and made, you’re a Ferrari! Expose the deception by continually trusting on nothing and no one but Christ. Finally share your amazing life in Him to others.
Just got Miles latest book, “God in the Mirror” sub-title is: “Discovering Who You Were Created To Be.” Can’t wait to read it.
Posted: March 13th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 3 Comments »
He was a four year old tot flying a kite in his province of Batangas when he beheld his first airplane. From that moment on he decided he was going to become a pilot. But as life would have it, he lost his father an early age and was unable to afford flying school.
Still, to pursue his dream he found his way in a job with Philippine Airlines not as a pilot but as a ground employee involved with logistics. From there he spun off to build a pioneering business that we now know as logistics. After being its founder and CEO, he has settled down to become it’s chairman today. His name is Captain Meynard Halili.
On my flight to Tokyo two days ago I found myself at the check-in lines with Captain Meynard. A long time member of Victory in Manila. Meynard is a follower of Christ and serves as a volunteer at our church. I asked him where he was headed, he said, “I am going to New Mexico to fly my very first fighter jet, the L39 Albatross.” This was how I extracted the rest of his story.
At age 40 when he could finally afford to take on his dream to become a pilot, he trained at Flight Safety International in Florida, the Rolls Royce of flying schools. This time not to be a commercial pilot but simply to fulfill a childhood dream.
Captain Meynard has flown just about every kind of aircraft including helicopters. At age 67 he remains as the opening air acrobatic act in the annual balloon fest in Clark Air Base, see video. His excitement was contagious as he explained how he was able to even get a permit to fly the fighter plane, Albatross, as a civilian.
What has possessed a man to do these things at his age? Why go to all the trouble the risk and expense? Captain Meynard explains:
1. For Dreams. He explains. “From the time I saw that plane as a four year old, I promised myself I will one day become a pilot. I simply would not let go of my dream. No one is too old to dream or to see his dream fulfilled.”
2. For Adventure. “Life is all about adventure. Flying is no different. It is probably one of the highest adventures there is. Imagine being in an environment so uncommon where weather changes can change everything in an instant. Where an engine failure could mean your life and the lives of others.”
3. For Love. “I love flying. I love flying so much that I started my very own flying school. Not only do I get to teach people how to fly, I get to enjoy what I love to do.” Captain Meynard closed by saying “as you delight in the Lord, he gives you the desires of your heart.”
While listening to Captain Meynard, I thought to myself and prayed that when I’m 67 I will continue to pursue my dreams, live out life of adventure and keep doing what I love to do. I prayed Lord may I never succumb to the comfortable, convenient, the cautious, even the conservative. May I live passionately!
May I continue to dream to see Your Gospel preached to the ends of the earth. Always seeking new adventures and believing that at every turn You are there with me. May I continue to passionately love Your Kingdom and make disciples as you have commanded us.
Thank you Captain Meynard for your inspiration and passion, it is contagious.
Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Filed under: Blog | 1 Comment »
Last Sunday I was unable to preach at my usual Sunday services at the Fort. My allergy devolved into a cough and a full blown infection. I was in pain. I also stayed home to recover and to do an initial pack for my early Monday morning flight to Tokyo and then to Dallas. In the afternoon I headed with Marie for Tagaytay to attend a wedding.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the groom Jon Blaylock and his lovely bride Carmen. What I have instead is a picture of our old small group. Jon’s father George was one of the members of our small group.
From the wedding I rushed home to continue my packing. And just so I don’t have a relapse I packed a selection of medicines and food supplements that I am familiar with.
As I packed, I thought of the brief message I gave Jon and Carmen the newlyweds. I reminded them that as they embarked in their journey as a couple they should remember that the goal is not to have a successful life with loads of possessions nor is it to just have a harmonious life together.
But that at each turn in their journey together whether they have one car, two cars or no car, whether they are in pain or brimming with health, on the peak of careers’ success or not quite making it, the goal is to be Christlike.
It made me think of how often we (even as Christians) all want the Godpill. The pill that will assure us of success, fame, fortune, power, money, good health and peace. The pill that promises the so-called fabled life. The pill that will give us god-like prerogatives. The pill that does exist but has atrocious side effects.
Rather Jesus offers us the Gospill. The pill that makes us more and more like Him. It is only as we are transformed on the inside to desire to be more like Jesus that we can overcome any situation we face, good or bad, up or down, in pain or in health, in success or failure, in abundance or in lack.
This week keep taking the Gospill and become more and more like Christ. The one that promises that “he who loses his life will find it.” Keep in mind the gaol is not just success as the world defines it but to me more and more like Jesus. Have a great week!