Thursday, December 25, 2014

Candy Cane CHRISTmas Story

I read from an anonymous author sometime ago, "When man tries to reach out to God, that is called Religion, for we all fall short to His Holy standards. When God tries to reach out to man that is called CHRISTmas."

Indeed for the very heart of the bible supports this,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -- John 3:16(NIV) 

CHRISTmas season is a great opportunity to share the gospel and love of Jesus Christ to our family, friends, colleagues and to every person God placed in our circle of influence.

You can be creative in your simple, special ways, I took advantage of the candy cane and the CHRISTmas story about Jesus Christ. The kids at the Sunday school was ecstatic, they loved the candy canes! On the other hand I was initially reluctant giving it away to my colleagues, as I am not sure how they will respond to it. But God rebuke me through one of the CCF preaching, my task is to share Jesus' story to them, it's God's task to work out on their heart. 

Looking back, I know this is something I'll be infinitely grateful I yield by God's grace. 
Look at the Candy Cane 
What do you see? 
Stripes that are red 
Like the blood shed for me 
White is for my Savior 
Who’s sinless and pure! 
“J” is for Jesus 
My Lord, that’s for sure! 
Turn it around 
And a staff you will see 
Jesus my shepherd 
Was born for Me!

Monday, December 22, 2014

CCF: Jesus - The Promised One

by Pastor Ramylal Fernando
Exactly ten years ago same month of December, when an unusual wave behavior was observed in the shoreline of Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Phuket, Thailand and Sumatra, Indonesia. Water from the shore strangely receded several meters away from the coastline. Most of the people run towards the shore to have a closer look in this unforeseen wonder. Then something devastating happened, giant breaking waves as high as 30 feet in other places rapidly surge the seashore ravaging all it passes through. This was the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, the most destructive tsunami ever recorded in history which took 350,000 thousand lives.
When you are presented with something great, how would you respond? Just like the initial reaction of most of the victims who were not aware of the coming disaster, will you approach the shore or run away from it.
Similarly, when we are presented with the greatest story recorded in the bible - the birth of Jesus Christ, how did we respond to it? While we have so many misconceptions about the true story of nativity: how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, whether Jesus was born in a stable, or if there were really three kings who visited Jesus on his birth. All these questions directs us back to the Bible, particularly from Matthew and Luke, where we can find accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The story of nativity tells us that Jesus is the promised one.
1. He is given us.
a. A child is born
When God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ, He did not just randomly picks a woman, God chose someone who is also seeking God for her to use her in His kingdom.
And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. --Luke 1:28-31
If Jesus did not come into this world, the entire humanity is doomed. There is no reason to be hopeful. Sometimes we think that the biggest decision Jesus made was when He chose to die on the cross, but actually it is when he chose to be born of a man and enter our world.
b. A son is given
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. --Luke 1:35 
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. --John 3:16
The Bible gives us several accounts that indeed Jesus Christ is the promised one through fulfilled prophesies.


Prophecy
Fulfillment
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Matthew 1:28-33
Micah 5:2 But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Luke 2:1-7
Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely. And do justice and righteousness in the land.
Matthew 1:6
2. He is our great God
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. -- Isaiah 9:7
How great are His signs. And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. And His dominion is from generation to generation. --Daniel 4:3
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. --Philippians 2:9-11
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. --Revelations 11:15
We can ask ourselves, If Jesus is God, and if He is the King of Kings, and if He is so great, what does it matter to you? What would you say about Him?
CHRISTmas reminds us not of what we have or have not given to other people but what God has given us through His son Jesus Christ. Christmas is not just the season of giving gifts, shopping, family reunions and lavish food in the table. It is remembering how God loved us and what He is willing to sacrifice for us.


May this season be a celebration of God's greatness in our lives, making ourselves available so He can furthermore use us. Recognizing that only God is great for He has given.
Transcribed by:

Choose to Obey

Image from keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
Oftentimes, what God asks you to do is inconvenient. Forgiving the person who hurt you, helping the person who once took advantage of you, confronting a friend who is in sin, encouraging a loved one who is in despair, helping a total stranger, loving a person who is unlovable.

When He prompts you about something, you do have a choice. Sure you can ignore that One still voice speaking to you. Brush it off and remain in your comfort zones. But along with this you have no idea what you could be missing out. How God can work through you to accomplish that something which may not make sense right now, but may transform you in a way you couldn't have imagine. Only until you yield to Him, then you can realize your full potential by God's grace and how this simple surrender can strengthen your faith and build your character. In the long run, all the inconveniences you choose to go through will be worth it, realizing that you put a smile in God's face. Hearing Him say, "This is my child whom I am pleased with."

However not choosing between obedience and disregard is still a choice. You may remain indifferent in what I am trying to communicate, again that is your choice. No matter choice you make, remember this one thing, there is blessing in obedience.

But just in case, you make poor choices in life, yes there will definitely be consequences along side it but one thing you can be sure of, God is the God of second and third and fourth and infinite chances.

I do hope that you will make that choice, an opportunity to honor God.

"I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:9–11 NLT)

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Don't Want ...

I don't want my vacation to be grand, I want it to be memorable.
I don't want my relationship to be perfect, I want it to be growing.
I don't want my friends to be many, I want them to be real.
I don't want my children to be rich, I want them to be wise.

I don't want my body to be attractive and hot, I want it to be fit.
I don't want my career to be stable, I want to be continuously improving in my craft.
I don't want my future husband to be ideal, I want him to be a man of God.
I don't want my house to be big, I want it to be intimate and comfortable.

I don't want my planner and schedules to be full, I want to be engaged in something valuable.
I don't want to be wanted, I want to be loved.
I don't want my life to be lived, I want it to be worth it.
I don't want my wants to happen nor wish it to happen, I'll try my best to make it happen.

--Author: Girlie Mangalo

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Motivates You?

In my desperate search of something that might distract me after giving up my yoga classes for about a year now, I found this thought-provoking illustration from Dan Pink regarding the surprising truth about what motivates us. Results are mind-blowing and demonstration is practical, applicable not only to the corporate world but also to our normal daily lives.
People often say motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily. --Zig Ziglar
Motivation. This powerful word is what keeps us going, to do what we ought to do. To have good reason to wake up in the morning. To execute better and make that extra mile that keeps us apart from others. But in a world full of distractions and seemingly important things, where do we draw our inspiration?





The greatest take-away is when Dan describe the three factors that leads to better performance and personal satisfaction after taking money out of the equation. Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. Autonomy is our desire to be self-directed, which is one factor to make employees engaged in their work. One day of autonomy can produces enormous things that never emerged. Mastery is our urge to get better at stuff. Finding something that is challenging, being able to master it and make a contribution. Purpose, finding that transcendent motive that directs the entire organization more than profit. Being involved in something that makes an impact and and make the world a little bit better to live. Three words, unlimited force, tremendous impact.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie: Begin Again

Image courtesy of Google
Musical comedy-drama with simple storyline and great selection of original soundtrack. I admire how the director navigated the start of the movie in the way he unfolded each scene. A story of following your dreams and the price that goes with bright lights, unexpected friendship, broken relationships and restored ones, moving on and superb appreciation to music.

Here's my favorite scene in the movie and a few songs which I fall in love with. Enjoy!


A Step You Can't Take Back - Keira Knightley


Lost Stars - Adam Levine


No One Else Like You - Adam Levine


Like a Fool - Keira Knightley

Credits to the owners of youtube channels. Thanks!

Friday, November 21, 2014

How GLC Helped me Grow?

When Ate Jo asked me if I can share my testimony how GLC helped me grow, I can imagine my world stop for awhile. Yeah, that's how scared I am just to think I will stand in front of a crowd. In my mind I'm starting to think of reasons and ways how to graciously say 'No.' I understand we all have parts in God's kingdom, but maybe mine is just not speaking in front of people. I even thought of delaying my response hoping someone would volunteer so I would be spared, but I also knew that I could never trick God with all my excuses.

Few days ago, my colleague flew to India for a conference to encourage female fresh graduates about career opportunities they can have if they choose our company as a workplace. God impressed to me that if this colleague of mine was able to address people how awesome it is to work in our company, what excuse do I have not to stand here and declare how privilege I am to work in the greatest corporation of all, where God is our Big Boss.

Interesting wall decor
Just like secular companies, God equips His people through different trainings, one of which is Global Leadership Center (GLC), which most of us tonight were blessed to become part of, here in CCF Singapore.

GLC, not only being biblical but also practical and relevant to our daily lives has been a rewarding experience for me. I learned basic doctrines which I initially thought only Pastors and elders should know by heart, like how do we argue for God's existence, how to defend that Bible is not corrupted and Holy Spirit is a Person. Wow, these are AHA moments for me. But more than intellectual gain, GLC serves as an eye opener in my Christian walk. The weekly lectures, assignments and activities enabled me to reflect on my current condition as a child of God and as a human being.

Certificate with Pastor Peter's signature. Yey!
Knowing myself as someone who gets easily distracted by things around me, GLC helped me re-organize my focus by encouraging the participants to make our personal mission and vision aligned to CCF's great commission of making disciples. This served as my compass to every activity I will undertake and decisions I need to make.

GLC provided me deeper understanding and appreciation of the different books in the Bible. This inspired our group to go back to basics and be more rooted in the Scripture, as we plan to focus our small group discussion with the books of Bible, starting with Matthew.

The program also empower me to be an effective servant of God through holistic personal development. It is during GLC, that I was prompted to join in writing ministry as a response to the spiritual discipline activity, where we are encouraged to practice servant-hood and submission.
1 Peter 4:10, NIV Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
It's been an opportunity serving the greatest Writer of the best-selling book of all time and practice something which I love to do - writing.

It is also through GLC's persistent reminder, that we being disciples of God should take part in his great commission intentionally. GLC projects became avenues for me to exercise evangelism. By the grace of God, I was able to share the gospel to my Indian colleague, to our children housemates using gospel loombands and am now doing one on one discipleship with our helper using Won by One materials.

Groupie with Dgroup

One of the best part of my GLC journey, was I get to experience it with my small group, being able to personally check and follow up on each other, remind assignments and projects, and share our doubts or questions about the message. GLC became a medium for us to continue encouraging one another to grow more in Christ and a challenge to step out of faith.

Finally GLC's Family Life session, made me evaluate my relationship with my parents, siblings and relatives. It is now more than anytime in my life that I learned to appreciate them better. This November we celebrated my nanay's 60th birthday, where we organized a party to honour her and invited a church elder to share the word of God to our relatives. Somehow, God placed the desire in my heart to make every occasion an opportunity to declare God's faithfulness and an avenue to share the gospel to others.  

Going back to my hesitations to testify today, I remember asking God, "Lord am I sinning if in case I turn down the invitation?" I may not get the direct answer to my question but one thing I know, I might missed out the opportunity to honor God with what He has done in my life. So how did GLC really helped me grow, to be able to stand in front of you by God's grace, is one the many things I learned to embrace through GLC.

Because when God calls us, He will surely equip us.
Hebrews 13:21, NLT May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Groupie with other graduates

Me, Kytin and Belle


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

CCF: Let Your JOY in the LORD be CONTAGIOUS

by Pastor Manny Manansala

Filipino families love pictures, we are used to striking a pose and showing big smiles. But picture doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. People can hide their problems beyond their bright smiles. A person’s smile doesn't necessarily amount to joy. Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is usually based on the good things HAPPENING around you but JOY is based on what GOD is doing INSIDE YOU.

People may not know what you are experiencing right now, but one thing is for sure God wants you to experience TRUE JOY in Him. And He does not want you to experience this JOY for selfish reason.
God wants you to experience true JOY so that THROUGH you, other people may also discover TRUE JOY in JESUS.

GOD desires for you to let your joy in the Lord be contagious.

Nehemiah 1:4-11 is an account of Nehemiah's petitions to the Lord as he mourned, prayed and fasted before God for the people of Israel as they are about to face a great trouble and disgrace because the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned.

Most people when they experience a problem, they dwell on the PAIN. But when Nehemiah sees a problem, he dwells on God’s PROMISES. The work that God is doing in you, is always GREATER than the work that God will do through you. The work that God is doing in you, always PRECEDES the work that God will do through you.

Nehemiah 2:4
Then the king said to me, “What would you request?”

Nehemiah knew his confidence does not lie on what the King can do but what God is able to accomplish. So he prayed and asked God first before responding to the King. From here we can see how Nehemiah was able to ask for requests which we may consider ridiculous considering he is only the cupbearer of the King:
- Extended leave (Nehemiah 2:5)
- VIP pass (Nehemiah 2:6)
- Set of construction materials (Nehemiah 2:7)

The character of Nehemiah teaches us that when you are doing the work of the LORD, you should not be afraid to ask for the LORD’s resources, just like Nehemiah. Because when you do not ask, the answer is always No! So ask!

Nehemiah 2:8
And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me”

Because God is with Nehemiah, regardless of his position in the kingdom, the King granted all his requests. Your position in your company may not be great but your position as child of God does matter. Greatness is not based on your profession but on the Person you profess.

As Nehemiah pressed on, it was never smooth sailing. Each success he encounter comes with challenges. Most of these relates to the oppositions on the rebuilding of Jerusalem which includes people's ridicule, plot to fight Jerusalem and laborer's strength wearing out. But in spite of all the problems, Nehemiah's initial response was to always PRAY.

Throughout Nehemiah's journey he did not allow his joy to be taken away from him. The enemy will use everything to steal away your joy. Never allow anyone, nor anything, nor any circumstance takes away your joy in the Lord. For Jesus is more than enough. Our joy in Him is complete.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Nehemiah 12:43
“…and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them GREAT JOY, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the JOY of Jerusalem was heard from afar.”

The work of God in your family, in this church, & in this city starts with the work of God in you! The work of God in you is evidenced by your JOY in Him. We are called to have that joy not to be kept within ourselves but for that joy to overflow us and echo in our family, workplace and community.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Pray continually, & give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.


Let Your JOY in the LORD be CONTAGIOUS!


Image courtesy of Google

Transcribed by:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fear Not

While it is human to be afraid of something - fear of heights, fear of darkness, fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear of the unknown, fear of being left behind, fear of the future, the Bible did not abandon us in the dark. Scripture continuously encourages us countless times in different passages  - not to be afraid.


This song by Chris Tomlin entitled "Whom Shall I Fear?" which I heard in CCF Sunday service today, is a great reminder for all of us not to be afraid for the God who holds the world in His hand is on our side. Always.

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of Angel armies
Is always by my side

The One Who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of Angel armies
Is always by my side


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nanay's 60th Birthday

A woman who doesn't ask for anything deserves everything!
It's not difficult to string words and express how blessed we are for having you as our mom maybe because it is impossible. No description can fit into word. No word can describe the emotion.

To write one humble post of appreciation to the most gentle person I've ever known is never enough, but allow me to give it a shot as I try to search through my deepest core, recollect all the words I could use and travel back to my childhood growing up to express how grateful I am to be your daughter, from then until now.

Thank you Nanay for being strong enough to say "NO" when you knew it wouldn't be beneficial for us. I remember growing up with limited resources and raising four kids was not the best combination. A relative once encouraged you to try your luck abroad so you could provide better life for the family. This looks like a noble cause in fact as a child I even thought it was best for us witnessing how this opportunity gave our relatives advantage in terms of material gain. But you said 'No' and chose to stay with us, work on a nearby garment shop so you can still look after us then eventually work at home by means of tailoring so you can even more take care of us. Fast forward several years, I'm glad you made that decision to stay, I couldn't imagine growing up without a mom whom I can always run to. Material things will never suffice the love and guidance we had by having you around.

Thank you Nanay for seeing the best in me even though I failed small time, medium time and big time, countless time now.

Thank you Nanay for being the most contented person I've ever known in my life. For being thankful for whatever is given in your plate, not asking for materials things from us(your children). This made us even more willing to do our best to give back to you which you deserve after all the sacrifices you've done for us.

Thank you Nanay for raising us not only with fear of God but to have a real relationship with the Lord. For diligently bringing us to Sunday schools and Vacation Bible Study when we're still young and for modeling Christian life at home. Your genuine love for God and concern for others lead me to believe that goodness does prevails and God is our rewarder. Your example empower me to make decisions not because we are afraid of you but considering there is One Living God who sees all the things I'm going through, wherever I am.

Thank you Nanay for patiently sewing my school uniforms and dresses when I was young. Now that I have money to buy for my own clothing, I wouldn't trade my simple dresses skillfully made by your diligent hands from those trendy ready-to-wears found in super malls because RTWs were meant to fit anyone, while the dress you sew was especially made for me. As I grow up I learn to take pride in wearing your creations. You are the best fashion designer I've ever had. 

Happy Birthday Nanay! Thank you for sharing your heart not only to your family but for every person God brought to your path. As we celebrate Nanay's 60 years of fruitful existence, we also declare God's faithfulness in her life and to our family.

Nanay with the cute kids - apo's and neighbors.

Nanay with Adults.
It only happens once in every person's lifetime to hit the mark of 60. We hope that in our collaborative effort we were able to make it memorable and special for you not because we are able but because your life and the God who provides are worth celebrating.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ten Things I am Thankful for my Birthday

Birthdays are one of the happiest time of your life. What made it more exuberant is that you get to celebrate it every year, whether you like it or not :) And in a world where everybody expects you to get married and you pass the age of 20's, the most logical choice is the latter.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a loving family and a support group of Godly ladies who never pressure me to settle down unless it's God's best plan for me. I am also thankful to God for His consistent reminder that I can focus on the greater things ahead of me and  not dwell on what is not there yet. To learn to surrender and trust Him with the life He entrusted me. I can only brag that this 2014 birthday is an expression of His love and grace in my 30ish of existence. He continuously amazes me with good things wrap in small packages like the following:

1. The joy of finding myself back to writing again after days of lifeless pursuit to inspiration and ideas.

2. My close to hyperactive, 5yo nephew, Ramiah and very lady-like, 9yo niece Aizel who came to visit me this month. Their energy and excitement is contagious.

Me, Ramiah, Raizel and Glaiza with Ernie of Sesame Street at Universal Studios Singapore.
3. My dead toenail or "patay na kuko" as we call it in the Philippines, Americans call it "runner's toe" has finally came back to life after almost 12 months of waiting in vain. Finally, I can now wear slippers when going out without feeling conscious of my toes.

4. Tiring but delightful week with my sister and her kids. Though it's already my nth time in Universal Studios Singapore, this experience is exceptional because I get to see it with family especially with the kids who cannot hide the excitement in their faces with every ride we try.

5. Day Light Saving Time is back on November!!! One of the best birthday gift I had :) No need to wake up at 7:15am to attend the scrum call, which means one more hour of sleep for me.

6. Cake, gift and birthday wishes I received from friends and family who took time to greet me.

7. Time to reflect and be grateful as I wrap up this blog post.

8.  Opportunity to practice silence and solitude in Changi Terminal 3 viewing deck. Sometimes not doing something could be the most productive thing you can do.

9. Excitement to read a book again since I can't remember. Starting with "God's Not Dead" by Rice Brooks, hopefully this would be the reconciliation to my bookworm chapter this year.

10. Good health, financial blessings and a grateful heart.

I can never thanked Him enough together with the people who made my birthday extra special this year. God bless you all!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marlisa Punzalan's Grand Finals Performance at The X-Factor Australia 2014

Shy, 15 year-old school girl Marlisa Punzalan has blossomed to be a super star as she performed in the grand finale of The X-Factor Australia October 19, Sunday.

Marlisa together with two grand finalist Brothers 3 and Dean Ray sing their heart out and given their all to win the votes of Australia. They all performed in three categories - audition song, winner's single and duet.

Audition Song - Yesterday by Beatles


Winner's Single - Stand by You by Marlisa Punzalan


Duet with Australian R&B pop singer and Idol runner up Jessica Mauboy - Never be the Same.



Five Signs that Women Are Stronger than Men

Growing up I was raised believing that men by nature are stronger than women, sure we can find few exceptions of tougher woman compared to a weaker man, but in general men are stronger than women, at least physically.

However there are few aspects where I can argue that women could be more powerful than men.

1. Handling pain
Women have proven that they have this outstanding capability to withstand pain better than men. This is manifested during monthly period, pregnancy and childbirth.

2. Wearing high heels
Woman is born to wear high heels at least once in her life or if she's really talented wears it frequently and by frequently it can mean everyday which I don't think man can survive even for an hour.

3. Facing problems
Men are now three times likely to commit suicide compared to women. At least this is what the researchers disclosed through comprehensive health records. Check this PsychCentral post to find out I am not fabricating and practicing sexism here :)

4. Shopping spree
Women have this incredible ability of skimming through all the possibilities of sales, discounts and good deals. If shopping for men means knowing what he needs and going directly to the shop to purchase it, shopping for women is a whole day safari of exploring options and comparisons. I can imagine those sturdy leg muscles that never get tired hopping through shop after shop.

5. Life expectancy
Again let the statistics speak for itself that women outlive men. Though recent findings shows that life expectancy gap between men and women has now dropped to less than four years.

More than the biceps, triceps, x pack of abs and muscle strength, I have high respect for men who use their physical power not to take advantage of others but as an advantage to serve humanity.

Regardless of gender, real strength is not measured by your physical prowess but with your strong ability to smile even if the whole world is frowning at you, your positive energy that can influence people around you, your courage to face the unknown and your staying power to endure the present believing that every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CCF: Koinonia (Common Life)

by Pastor Dennis Legazpi

There are four must-do's that Jesus designed the first church to practice – devote themselves in apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread and prayer as described in the book of Acts:

41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.
– Acts 2:41-46(NASB)

Focusing on fellowship which is more than social activities, Jesus intends His church to share a common life of building and deepening their spiritual life together right after the pentecost.

3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
1 John 1:3, 6-7 (NASB)

But over the years the vibrancy of this common life steadily eroded as the early church exhibits division among members and disharmony.

18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 
1 Corinthians 11:18-19(NASB)

Church nowadays are no exception, we loose the vibrant fellowship by limiting our involvement to our local church or sometimes to our local group; we don't have a say and consider ourselves as not integral part of the body of Christ; finally we are not mindful of this indispensable community, we forgot that we are to feel and care for each other. In conclusion, we cannot detach ourselves from others and fellowship only to the people we like.

The Lord does not meant us to have an under nourished life of superficial interactions with other believers, instead he designed us to have an active loving concern and growing love among one another. Oftentimes this requires difficult situations that some church members need to go through so that the church will come together to encourage and pray for the hurting family. Unpleasant moments where people stood together to support and offer a helping hand in various ways, because God meant this common life to be shared. He intends that we as a body of Christ embarks on this common life together even if we don't know each other.

10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 less those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 
Romans 12:10, 13-17(NASB)
The Bible offers us various verses how we can exercise this common life characterize by oneness. Some could be impossible or not practical to do as how the world sees it but by the grace of God, and His loving nature through us, it is possible to live a common life.

Romans 12:10            - Loving one another,
Ephesians 4:2             - Tolerance of one another in love
Ephesians 4:32           - Kind to one another, forgiving one another
Ephesians 5:21           - Submitting to one another
Philippians 2:3            - Humble toward one another
Colossians 3:13          - Bearing with one another
Colossians 3:16          - Admonishing one another
1 Thessalonians 4:18  - Comfort one another
1 Thessalonians 5:11 - Encourage one another
Hebrews 10:24           - Stimulate one another
James 5:16                 - Confess sins to one another, pray for one another

As a practical application, think of someone, a friend or family member who could be sick or hurting, whom you think needs an encouragement you could give. Think of someone who may have wronged and hurt you in the past, and choose to forgive that person and pray for him.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spiritual Discipline: Evangelism

With our goal to grow deeper in our faith with God, our dgroup (Discipleship Group) decided to study Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney.

Below are some of my favorite excerpts from the book which expounds the discipline behind evangelism for the purpose of Godliness.

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If we want to define it simply, we could say that New Testament evangelism is communicating the gospel. Anyone who faithfully relates the essential elements of God's salvation through Jesus Christ is evangelizing.

While Christians are not expected to use the same methods of evangelism, but Christians are expected to evangelize.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.." --Mark 16:15(NIV)
Some Christians believe that evangelism is a gift and a responsibility of only those with that gift, appealing to Ephesians 4:11. While it is true that God gifts some for ministry as evangelists, He calls all believers to be His witnesses and provides them with both the power to witness and a powerful message. Just as each Christian, regardless of spiritual gift or ministry is to love others, so each believer is to evangelize whether or not his gift is that of evangelist.

Understanding this, why is it most Christians neglect to share the gospel. 

One researcher give an explanation for Christian's fear of evangelism -- The reality of human behavior is that most people avoid those activities in which they perceive themselves to be failures. Thus despite the divine command to spread the Word, many Christians redirect their energies into the areas of spiritual activity that are more satisfying and in which they are more likely to achieve success.

How do we define a successful evangelism? We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism. We ought to have an obsession for souls, but conversions are fruit that God alone can give.

We are like postal service. Success is measured by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. Whenever we share the gospel(which includes the summons to repent and believe), we have succeeded. In the truest sense, all biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” -- Acts 1:8(NIV)
All believers have been given power to be witness of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation and not our own eloquent power or persuasiveness,

There is also power for evangelism in the one living a sincere Christian life. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. --Mathew 5:16 
Evangelism is a discipline, in that we must discipline ourselves to get into the context of evangelism, that is, we must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen. 
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. --Colossians 4:5-6
After knowing all these the author leave us with questions to challenge us:

Since evangelism is expected, will you obey the Lord and witness?
Since evangelism is empowered, will you believe God can use your words in the salvation of others?
Since evangelism is a discipline, will you plan for it?