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Freedom In Christ: Self-Limiting Beliefs – “I Know Enough”

There are Self-limiting beliefs that slips into our personality and we are not even aware that we have them. These beliefs get their sustenance from our already established traits, character and value system. Like viruses, they embed themselves into the weakest part of us and slowly sprout and flourish into full-blown beliefs, taking toll on our own personal growth. One of these is the “I KNOW ENOUGH” belief.

As one of God’s worker who conducts personal Bible study to friends who are willing to take the road to Jesus’ Discipleship, I encountered various types of personalities. One of the predominant attitudes of people I handled is the “I-Already-Know-That Attitude”. The person who has that kind of mindset do more talking than listening. He only pauses, not to listen and understand to what you will tell him, but to ready himself on the next point you will raise. He will always have that intention to teach you rather than learn from you, giving impression that he does not need lessons from anybody.

You cannot press-in more things to an already full jar. That principle applies to human mind. A person who thinks that his mind is full is apt to resists ideas and thoughts from others. And more so, in his pride, he refuses any word of wisdom from those whom he considers of lesser intellect. That is the main reason of Paul’s advice to the Church of Philippi, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. But in humility of mind, consider others better than yourself. – Phil 2:3” Paul clearly wanted the Philippi Church to learn from one another and grow together spiritually. Without humility, it is hard to teach the mind, thus hard to change unwanted traits, habits and attitudes.


“Intelligent individuals learn from everything and every one; average people, from their experiences. The stupid already have all the answers.”

― Socrates

WHAT TO DO?

If you want to really change for God and be pleasing in His eyes, first pray about it and you need to develop the level of humility to listen and accept the positive lessons you get from all the people around you. Your keen observation makes you take away at least one beneficial insight from every situation. That will give you ample of learning points in a day. Create your own personal journal of your daily life learning journey. Journal is not necessarily a lengthy writing. With the technology nowadays, you can record or video yourself expressing those daily lessons that you learn at the end of each day and compile them into your device. Review them at the end of the week and summarize them into weekly journal which you may share in the social media as you wish or just simple keep it to yourself. Make sure that those lessons should manifest as development in your speech, actions and behavior. In your daily conversations with people, you may share them so that they will also learn what you are learning. By doing all these, you can appreciate the people around you, see the beauty of your life and experience God’s transforming grace.

Be invited to contribute your additional ideas to this topic by putting them in the comment box below. If you are blessed by my articles, feel free to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my blog. You may SHARE it to others also.

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Freedom In Christ: Self-Limiting Beliefs Part 2

In the first part of this series, I introduced the concept of Self-Limiting Beliefs. If you have not read it yet, it is advisable to scroll down and go over Part 1 so you can fully relate to what I will be discussing henceforth. With all the numerous Self-Limiting Beliefs that we can tackle, we will just go slow in our discussion. I want you to be able to deliberately self-meditate and digest every Self-Limiting Beliefs that I will be presenting shortly. There will be some suggested practical actions that you need to perform. These are “TO-DOs” which might either be easy or challenging to you. Consider it a military exercise wherein you will go through hard and strenuous practical exercises meant to build your spiritual endurance and faith muscles before you go to the battle.

In one of His vital teachings, Jesus said, “…whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Of course, don’t take it literally so to bear a wooden cross and march around your village. If you read on through Luke 14:28 onward, the next verses explained His point. Bearing your cross means, you must be willing to beat, twist, stretch and mold your character (which is your spiritual tower) in order to accomplish your discipleship mission. Bearing the cross is a call for strenuous exercise of faith, developing spiritual stamina required to accomplish the works of God. Being His FAITHFUL servant, you are bound to obey ALL His commandments. Although His commandments are not burdensome as the Apostle John puts it (1 John 53), your self-limiting beliefs make these commandments look tremendously heavy for you to carry-out. As servant of God, we bound ourselves to be fruitful. We already made that choice and there is no point of turning back. Either you eliminate those self-limiting factors and be fruitful, or you allow yourself to be pulled down by them, gradually loosen your grip to the Vine, and then eventually, you fall-off. (John 15:2). In common Christian term, you “backslide” or “fall-away”.

Matthew 28:18 established Jesus’ authority over the entire universe including mankind. You can never resist His authority, even if it cost your life. The principle, “Whatever the King wants, the King gets” applies. Take note, Obedience is the generic term for all the discipleship exercises that you will go through so that you will build spiritual muscles and overcome self-limiting beliefs. If you disobey you will surely bear negative consequences. But for those who obey He promised, “…I will be with you to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), a wonderful vow that should energize us to transcend over our sticky and stubborn self-limiting restraints.

Before drilling down deeper into details, let me first present you the Three Main Categories of Self-Limiting Beliefs in line with being a disciple of Christ. In the secular sense, we can name more categories but we don’t intend to extend our discussion outside the border of Christian living. These three categories are;

  1. Spiritual Self-Limiting Beliefs
  2. Personal Self-Limiting Beliefs
  3. Global Self-Limiting Beliefs

These Self-Limiting Beliefs come into two classifications namely: Self-Imposed and Predisposed. Self-Imposed are rules that you apply governing your own actions. You cling on to them because you believe that they are effective, whilst in reality they have negative impacts. Instead of helping you realize your spiritual goals, they serve to limit you. Examples of Self-Imposed are; choice of attire and haircuts, overly conscious on your own attitudes and behaviors for fear that you will hurt others or go beyond the border of formality and being human, keeping distance in your relationship with other people because you want to maintain degree of respect, being overly discrete about your past or facts about yourself because you need to create good image to others and so forth and so on.

Predisposed, on the other hand, are beliefs that built up from; past experiences, people who fed those beliefs to you since childhood, and socio-cultural values, ethics and belief system. Examples of Predisposed limiting beliefs are; horoscope, non-biblical traditions and practices, traits common in the family or clan, other’s impression about you, other’s impression about your family, extra-biblical religious principles, superstitious beliefs and many others.

The difference between Self-Imposed and Predisposed is that, the former are rules formed by no other than yourself and you imposed them on yourself; while the latter are beliefs implanted in you by other people, your past experiences and your environment.

Spiritual Self-Limiting Beliefs

Spiritual Self-Limiting Beliefs are unhealthy mindsets putting in question your depth of faith, particular convictions, knowledge of God, and spiritual wisdom. Because you doubt over those things, it has negative effect on your capability to teach, preach, pray verbally infront of people, share the Scriptures, refute doubtful teachings presented to you, withstand testing of your faith and resist temptations. The confusion happens because you are either less educated or overly-exposed to various ecclesiastical doctrines. If you are not reading your Bible, you become malnourished with the essential biblical principles so your confidence level during discussion is very less. On the other hand, those who do in-depth study becomes engrossed in knowledge making them shaky in their standpoints because of confusion. They believed that knowledge should be equated to maturity as Christian.

In other instance, some Christians believe that they can only do things if they are filled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Personal Self-Limiting Beliefs

Personal Self-Limiting Beliefs are negative beliefs about yourself which hamper you from growing in character and transcending to higher role as a church member. Every individual disciple is actually battling with his own feelings of incompetency at certain areas. Nobody is free from all struggles because if we have no weakness, then the reliance we should be putting on the Holy Spirit will be at lowest level. It is as if we don’t need God. The examples of Personal Self-Limiting beliefs are; feeling of inadequacy to approach others and share Jesus, feeling of incompetency to lead, fear of talking infront of a group of audience, hesitation to contribute your own opinion or ideas during brainstorming session, feeling that you have no communication capability to explain concepts, feeling that you can not maintain close relationship with others and many more.

Global Self-Limiting Beliefs

Global Self-Limiting Beliefs are your perceptions about other people and your environment that are fencing you from exploring beyond your comfort zone. These perceptions are not necessarily negative or positive but they serve to limit your potentials in achieving your goals. One example is, if you believe that you don’t have the right to hurt other people’s feelings, such belief will hold you back from confronting a disciple of his arrogance and pride. You end up tolerating him because you don’t want to hurt him.

Another good example: you refuse to share the gospel to the non-christians because of your belief that people who grew up in non-christian environment are closed-minded people and it takes much time to reach-out to them.

In the next issue, we will closely examine particular Self-Limiting Beliefs and how we can gradually break them, set yourself free from them and eventually be a very effective disciple of Christ. Who knows, one of those limiting beliefs featured in the next articles might be something that you are now trying to battle with. So, I encourage you to stay in-tune. I also invite you to participate in the discussion by writing your comments or questions in the box here below. You may suggest a particular self-limiting beliefs that you want me to digest in my next articles. God bless everyone and stay safe!

Be invited to contribute your additional ideas to this topic by putting them in the comment box below. If you are blessed by my articles, feel free to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my blog. You may SHARE it to others also.

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Freedom In Christ: Freedom from Self-Limiting Beliefs Part 1

Did you ever try to assess your effectiveness as a disciple in terms of reaching out to people and nurturing other disciples? Did you ever take some time to identify your weaknesses and do something to build yourself up on them?

What is expected of a Mature Disciple?

All disciples of Christ are expected to carry-out Christ’s great commission encapsulated in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go, and make disciples of all nations”. In order to effectively perform this task a disciple must have uncompromised self-adequacy, having been resolved that He received fully the gift of the Almighty Father, the powerful Holy Spirit that he has been baptized with (Acts 1:5, 1:8).

It is quite normal for young believers to hesitate in sharing the Gospel to others and to impart to other disciples their digest on the Word of God. Their low confidence is due to their lack of knowledge about the scriptures. Like toddlers, we expect them to first feed, as much as they can take, on the knowledge and convictions that you serve on their plate, but you should never impose on them yet the task to share what they are learning, unless they already have stocked knowledge like Paul who preached immediately after his baptism (Acts 9:18-20). We have to wait for sometime that they gradually engage themselves into the activities of more mature disciples. It is so important therefore that mature disciples do model-out highest level of commitment in fulfilling the great commission.

But for a disciple who already passed the period of weaning, it is expected that he already begin to take responsibility over his own personal ministry. Since he is already embracing the lordship of Jesus over his life, Christ’s great commission has become his life’s focus, a driving force compelling him to witness to his family, community, neighbor and to people everywhere (Acts 1:8). He should have the proper understanding that he has been called upon as follower of Christ to: 1) “fish for men” – evangelize (Mark 1:17) and, 2) to “take care of Christ’s lambs” – nurture other disciples (John 21:15-17). These two undertakings should be taken by a mature Christian to equate to Love for God and Love for Fellowmen, pursuance to the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:38-39).

What is the measure of Spiritual Maturity?

Spiritual maturity is measured by how many people you did bring to Christ and you have been nurturing them to also do the works of Christ. In John 15:1-8, Jesus used grape vine as an analogy to explain our relationship with Him and to point out the indication of who are the true disciples. Plainly, He said that those who “bear much fruit” shows that they are indeed disciples (John 15:8). So this should be understood that mature Christians should constantly be bearing much fruits. And, their fruits are in turn expected to produce many seeds that soon multiply within the present generation and to the next. Reproduction of disciples should not stop from your end. If you profess that Christ is your Lord, show it by obeying and living-up to His double-barrel commandment – make disciples and nurture disciples. Bearing much fruit is just a product of clinging fast to the Vine who give constant spiritual sustenance by way of constant prayers, wisdom from the Scripture, discipling from leaders, repentance and fellowship. Your quality of life reflects Christ living in you, and so through you, people come to know and follow Christ.

Since time immemorial until now, we are aware of the fact that there are more pseudo-christians sitting in the pews compared to genuine Christians. We call them by different names; “Pew Christians”, “Seating Worshipers” and “Nominal Christians”. These are the Church attendees who are literally “Church Attendees Only” and not disciple-makers. Their service of God ceases once they get out from the Church building gate. They are not geared toward propagating themselves to bear fruit. They just want to eat and eat and eat God’s Words but never exercise their spiritual muscles so they will bear fruit. Is this the kind of Christian you are? What do you think are the reasons why there are pseudo-christians?

How do our beliefs in our self affect our effectiveness as disciples?

One of the reasons why there are many pseudo-christians among us is the so-called SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS. They believe that they are Christians although they do not live like it. You will identify them by their fruitfulness anyhow (Matthew 7:16). Beliefs are non-tangible, non-real images playing in our minds that we definitely consider to be true. In our history classes, the stories drew unreal pictures of the past events inside our thoughts as we were made to imagine them. We believed that they indeed happened anyway, although in our minds they are just mere imaginations. We believe in love, wisdom, trust, hope, joy, and all kind of concepts that don’t exist in our material world. We believe what our eyes do not see. Sometimes, our beliefs are deceptive. Somebody from our past was responsible in encoding into our minds something that is not true and convinced us that they are real. The social media, search engines and internet tubes are full of fallacies that can alter our belief system. So if we don’t scrutinize them with thorough circumspection, we will fall into the trap of misinformation and will have a domino effect on our judgement, decision making, character and behavior.

Among Christians, self-limiting beliefs are negative views about ones self that keep him from living-up to the commitment of being a disciple of Christ. Underestimating your self is underestimating the boundless power of the Holy Spirit who resides within you.

Applying this to being a Christian, yes, there is no doubt about our belief in God’s existence, His words, His salvation plan through Jesus, and His empowerment through the Holy Spirit. The problem lies upon our self-limiting beliefs. Your beliefs about your self has strong influence in your effectiveness in doing the mission. They either can make you or break you. They determine your success or failure in living-up to the Christian standards. Yes, we believe that our salvation is not based on our efforts but on the mercy and grace of God. But Jesus also said, that those branches that bears no fruit will be cut-off (John 15:2). Fruitless branches are non-effective Christians who are infested by many Self-Limiting Beliefs. They are the church attendees who are gossipers, critical, divisive, lazy, prideful, unrepentant, stubborn, self-centered and non-cooperative. Instead of changing their misbehavior and character deficiencies, they rationalize their inadequacies, put blame on things, circumstances or on other people instead of themselves. They don’t have the sense of accountability, wait for others to initiate but they, themselves, never initiate. Naturally, there will come a time that mere attending the Church bores them and it will soon become a burden for them. Since they are not in harmony with other disciples, their motivation that comes through fellowship will die the natural death. And then, they will eventually fall-off from the Vine.

Surely, no Christian wants to be dismembered from the Vine for they are fully aware of the consequence of falling away. This is the reason why I came up with this writing, to warn you of the presence of unseen and unnoticed forces, enemies that might pull your leg and drag you to hell. Self-Limiting Belief is just one of them and let us be careful.

In my subsequent discussion of this same subject, I will be enumerating specific Self-Limiting Beliefs and I will try to expound how each affect our faith and commitment. By just reading Part 1, you might already have identified those beliefs that you are currently struggling with. I will be providing some practical action plans to help you break these beliefs and set yourself free from them. You will surely need a great deal of humility and courage to seek the help of your church leaders. As well as, you need to have the genuine willingness to change and face the challenges given in the next parts of this series.

Be invited to contribute your additional ideas to this topic by putting them in the comment box below. If you are blessed by my articles, feel free to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my blog. You may SHARE it to others also.

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The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 6:8-23

I was once tasked by my manager to establish policies and procedures within the Learning and Development Department in the company I am working at present. I was the pioneer in that newly formed department and being the most senior among the staff, my manager entrusted that job to me. I was so confident with the drafted documents knowing fully well that I reflected the best and most applicable practices in the field of Talent Development. It was not actually my first time to write business documents like those because in all the companies I worked with, procedures and policies were the first ones that I usually check, review and amend, or if nothing exists, I usually make it a point to establish SOP’s, being aware of the importance of putting up policies into official documents. We already conducted series of reviews, however, every time we sit down and go over it, the manager always insists unending amendments. What was so irksome is the fact that he was only changing the wordings. Most of the terminologies he was suggesting as replacement were inappropriate, and if applied will either miss the thought or change the substance of the statements. For all I know, his intention in putting much touches on the documents was just to imply superiority of his own competence over mine. I am not saying that I am at all better than my manager, but considering that I completed post-graduate degree which gave me the opportunity to attend classes in Legal Construction, Policies and Procedures, and Business Communication, plus my wide experience in writing actual legal documents, I must say that my manager should have enough ground to trust me. The way he treated me in that instance made me feel like I am a novice, un-experienced newbie. Indeed it was offensive.

  • How many times did we act like the manager when putting our trust in God?
  • Did you ever consider how God feels whenever we show our lack of trust?
  • Are you even aware that you are offending Him by not trusting Him to handle your difficulties in life?
  • How do you show your trust in God?

In our featured story, the Aramean King mustered his countless soldiers to capture Elisha, knowing that he was the prophet responsible for giving warning to the King of Israel about his sinister plans. From their encampments, they started their march in the middle of the night so before dawn, they already strategically positioned themselves around the Israelites camps. Elisha’s servant just got up from bed, went out to meet the first drop of sunshine with a stretch and big yawn. Instead of seeing the breaking sunrise, what came approaching his sight were the mighty countless armies of the Aramean king fully geared-up for slaughter spree. With popping eyeballs, protruding goosebumps, shivering knees and open jaws, he rushed to Elisha’s room and woke him up. Managing to force out stuttering words from his mouth, he told Elisha what he saw. We can just imagine hearing Elisha’s voice trying to cool-down the panic-stricken servant, “Hey, hey hey! Relax. The battle is not ours but the Lord. Don’t be afraid. We have bigger and more powerful troops than this.” Overwhelming with care for the stirred appearance of his servant who was still trying hard to compose himself, Elisha prayed that God would reassure him by showing him what was transpiring in the invisible world. Through eyes of faith, he saw the chariots of fire descending from the top of the hills outnumbering the troops of the Aramean king.

Often times we are like Elisha’s servant who got blinded by intense fear of the approaching dreadful things in our life. Being so focused on the problems, we rely on our human capabilities and material resources to resolve them. We usually estimate what we have and compare it to the magnitude of the problem, and then, we panic if we know we are going to fall short. Surely, most believers call for help from God through prayers. However, we often expect Him to do exactly what we are crying for. If that didn’t happen, we again fall into panic mode. Like fear, our expectations is another factor that blocks our spiritual eyes from seeing the responses of God to our prayers. And so we doubt the heart and willingness of God to grant our prayers. In most cases, people who do not get what they expect are being eroded down to the thought that God is unfair or God doesn’t love them, or they are not good enough to gain the favor of God. All the more, they are putting much darker shades on their already clouded spiritual vision. Whenever you don’t feel the hands of God working in your situation, seek help from the spiritually strong people in your church. At times, God show you clear answer through the aid and prayer of other people.

Like how I feel when my manager distrusted me, it is painful for God, who displayed unconditional love, unimaginable wisdom and boundless power, to be doubted upon by His beloved children. Our lack of trust is an utter insult to His infinite divine authority. We might be asking now, “So tell me, how can I show that I trust God?”

In this moment of global disruption, you might be wondering where God is in the picture now. Statistics of people infected by Covid-19 and death toll is constantly rising at increasing velocity. Disillusioned people are cupping up their chins, waiting impatiently for news coming from any of the pharmaceutical scientists working round-the-clock to find cure. Many strong believers are now suffering alone in the hospital and who knows how they manage to maintain their faith while they are in the brink of death. So, we might not feel the hands of God working at this point in time. Many are crying hard in their prayers, some are even fasting. Most of us are just trying to push positive justifications in our heads and pre-occupy our days with activities that may give us momentary enjoyment just not to be carried away by fear of uncertainties. Some display a passive, Come-What-May attitude, accepting wherever fate may lead them. Believe me, it is hard to be a Christian in this peculiar situation. And it is hard to identify whether we are truly trusting God or we are just being swallowed by our carefree attitude, saying “Let God be God and let Him handle this situation.” In the latter sense, we are rather blinded by our religiosity, never really seeing the Lord’s hands working.

Going back to the story, how did Elisha show his trust in God? Did he just wait passively for the cavalry of God to deal with the situation? With the wisdom that God endowed to him, he prevented bloodshed and asked God to settle the dispute in a peaceful way. No finger-pointing, no bitterness, no spirit of retaliation. He simply ask God to blind them while he performed his assignment. Take note of this, he did not just sit down but he took some actions to deal with the situation. That was how he displayed his trust in God.

We are God’s hands, feet, tongues, minds and hearts. We are the troops mustered by Him to take action in this trying moment. Now, we get to rise up, pull ourselves together and do the works that God has set for us to do. To be good Samaritans to our fellows, to bring hope to the hopeless, to feed the hungry, to give shelter to the homeless, and to encourage the dejected. Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33)? Note how Peter showed his full trust in Jesus as he said, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” He took action! He proved his faith by stepping out into the water. He walked on the water with Jesus. He did not just stand inside the boat and do nothing. Trusting in God requires us to get rolling down. Yes, the battle belongs to the Lord, and we are His armies. We fight on His side, we fight for His cause, we fight because we believe in His plan. After all, His battle is already won. So, how can we show that we trust God? Don’t just sit down and wait. Get moving and do the works of God. Like how gracious Elisha treated the enemy’s soldiers, we just need to perform our share in doing the good and noble work of God in these times of distress.

Be invited to contribute your additional ideas to this topic by putting them in the comment box below. If you are blessed by my articles, feel free to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to my blog. You may SHARE it to others also.

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The Healthy Small Church Group: Getting Rid of Behavioral Bugs

You might not have gotten used of the term Small Church Group. Most Christian ministries call it Cell Group. Others call it Family Group, Bible Study Group, House Church Group, etc. Whatever you call it, for the sake of aligning your understanding to this article, Small Church Group simply means a group of 15 to 20 disciples, maybe composed of pure bachelors, ladies, couples or youth, regularly meeting together for the purpose of spiritual nurturance through a rather more personal approach. Part of this spiritual nourishment is training disciples to reach-out and share the gospel. So it is expected that one member brings friends in each meeting. Unchurched visitors are supposed to be seeing in a positive light the difference of this group from any secular gatherings, hence they should be allured and get the excitement to join. They should come to experience the genuine love, joy, peace, encouragement, humility and godly relationships. The group should exemplify a true spiritual family of God, governed by Jesus through the Holy Scripture – Bible, and empowered by the wisdom and understanding bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Effectiveness of Small Church Groups is ultimately measured by how much they have grown in number, how many leaders they have groomed and how many break-away groups they have produced. This quantitative growth is indicative of how much each member have matured to be Christlike, that each member can independently share the gospel to others and be able to multiply him/herself in his effort to live up to the great commission of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20. Yes, we should say that a healthy Small Church Group is constantly bearing fruit. If, instead of increasing, you are stagnant or even becoming a remnant – left over of a once glorious and zealous team, you must immediately perform root cause analysis and check every aspect that might have possibly impeded the progress of the group. You have to literally check everyone’s pulse.

One of the dimensions that you should put under your magnifying lens is the way how members communicate with one another. The following questions may give you some cues on the issues you need to address. You might want to sit down with each member and ask these questions:

How frequently are there conflicts within your small church group?

What do you think are the underlying causes of such conflicts? Can you identify any common cause?

What are the agenda of those conflicts? What are the recurring issues?

How do you settle this conflicts? Did the way you settle it, really closed the issue?

Up to what level is the transparency within the group? Are everyone real and honest with their feelings about one another?

How many members left your small church group because of the insensitivity, sarcasm and tactlessness of other members?

How many visitors stopped attending because they don’t feel the sobriety and spirituality among the regular members?

Are there relationship coldness and silent animosity among the members because of one’s behavioral recklessness?

Is there any overfamiliarity among group members that it became just so casual to yell at one another or address one another in a rather not so respectful fashion, even infront of the visitors?

Is there any member in your group who is fond of pushing ridiculous comment or making fun of another member just to make the group laugh?

Is there any member who habitually bring forward not-so-serious issue and fan it big until it cause unhealthy arguments among the group?

Does the culture of individual discipling and encouragement still exists and evident in each member?

Is everyone engaged with the lives of one another by pursuing individual deep talks to draw out issues that may possibly need to be addressed to?

Does everyone take the initiative to put visitors at ease by warmly welcoming them, talking to them and introducing them to the other members?

Can you sense the existence of discrimination or social gap among the group?

During conversations, does everyone focus on spiritual subjects or spending more time discussing secular agenda?

Communication does not only encompass words. Verbal communication is only the tip of the communication iceberg. There’s way much, much more underneath. The way a person behaves or reacts to a certain situation beams a prism of concerted multi-media communication; body movements, facial expression, emotional and physiological changes, and verbal outbursts. A person who is hiding something fishy inside and acting hypocritical may not really be successful in concealing his real intention or feelings. There will always be part of him that leaks out and communicate his real thoughts and attitudes, other than his words. That is why, in Small Church Groups, it is imperative to check everyone’s heart and ensure it is cleared from any bad attitudes and intentions. One sick heart may have the contagiousness strong enough to destroy the bond of the entire group. It most likely resort to bitter factions and divisions if not properly handled.

Like any other organizations, communication is one of the most important aspects that we need to put clear guidelines to, in order to maintain healthy Small Church Group. The quality of communication that exists in a group determines whether it will be fruitful or leading to its fatal end. For us Bible-based Christians, guidelines in spiritual communication is studded all over the teachings of Christ and the apostles and these guidelines must be established on them. We don’t actually want to reference from any self-help or team-building books written by world re-known authors. The Bible has enough of it. You may check the following verses and note down how these teachings be translated into guidelines that you can implement in your Small Groups and then you can sit down together, settle the communication issues first and then, get everyone’s commitment to abide by the guidelines.

  1. Love, Compassion and Selflessness
    • John 13:34 – “..Love one another as I (Jesus) have loved you…”
    • 1 John 4:7-8 – “…let us love one another..”
    • Philippians 2:3-4 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit… not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”
    • 1 Peter 3:8 – “…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate..”
  2. Hospitality and Family Atmosphere
    • Ephesians 2:19 – “..you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”
    • Matthew 23:8 – “…For you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.”
    • John 1:12-13 – “He gave the right to become Children of God ….born of God.”
    • Hebrews 13:1-2 – “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
    • Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
  3. Gentleness and Humility
    • Matthew 11:29 – “Learn from Me (Jesus), for I am GENTLE and HUMBLE”
    • Philippians 2:3 – “In HUMILITY value others above yourselves”
    • Philippians 2:5-8 – “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…”
    • 1 Peter 3:8 – “…be..humble.”
    • Colossians 3:12 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  4. Unity and Like-mindedness
    • Philippians 2:2 – “…by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind”
    • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – “… that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
    • Colossians 3:14 – “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
    • Psalms 133:1 – “Behold how good it is when brethren live together in unity.”
    • 1 Peter 3:8 – “Be like-minded”
    • Romans 12:6 – “Live in harmony with one another.”
    • Titus 3: 10 – “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time
  5. …”Peace, Forgiveness and bearing with one another
    • Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
    • Ephesians 2:14 – For He, Himself is our peace, who has made two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
    • 1 Peter 3:9 – “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessings…”
    • Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers..”
    • Romans 15:1 – “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
    • Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
    • James 1:19 – “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..”
  6. Fair Dealing and Acceptance
    • Romans 12:6 – “Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low positions. Do not be conceited.”
    • Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
    • Romans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…”
    • Romans 14:13 – “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
  7. Encouragement and Building up One Another
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other.”
    • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…..”
    • Romans 15:2-5 “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up…. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.”
  8. Prudence in speech
    • Colossians 4:5-6 – “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…”
    • Proverbs 16:24 – “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
    • 1 Peter 3:10 – “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
    • Ephesians 4:29-31 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice”
    • Proverbs 10:19 – “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
    • Matthew 15:11 – “…but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
    • Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”
    • Titus 3:1-2 – “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”
    • James 3:5-9 – “The tongue is a fire…”

These are only few of the significant verses in the Bible that are relevant to our topic here. As you go through the entire Bible, you may discover more precious communication principles and it pays to pick them up and translate them into guidelines which may improve the relationship and bond of your small church group.

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BIBINGKANG GALAPONG AND PRAYER

At the height of social distancing due to Covid19, it is our nature as human being to keep moving around, looking for something to stir our minds and body. We actually have handful of tasks to do. It is up to us to use our creativity to explore and get our hands dirty while keeping our hearts and spirit pure. So here is one of my joys – trying out Old Recipes with my own unique touches….. Not with busy hands alone…. It supposed to also be engaging myself spiritually as I quietly recite my prayer-of-a- lifetime while preparing the ingredients and beating ladles infront of the stove.

Alright, since you all asked, let me share my yummy and chewy recipe for BIBINGKANG GALAPONG. I actually have to sacrifice the long traditional procedure because; first, I don’t have earthen pans and specialized coal-fired stove which the old folks usually use in cooking this kind of almost forgotten palate fave. Second, there is no available banana leaves which supposed to add flavor and pleasant aroma to the cake. If you have it in your area, don’t hesitate to put it at the base of your pan before pouring in the mixture. Anyhow, I have an electric oven and baking pans so, there should be no problem. Let’s see how this works perfectly to come up with the nearest texture and taste of the long-processed traditional old Bibingkang Galapong (Glutinous Rice Flour Cake in Sweet Coconut Sauce), originated from the northern part of Luzon, in a country full of life called Philippines.

For the Glutinous Rice Mixture, you will need the following:

  • 2 Cups of Glutinous Rice Flour
  • 5 Tablespoonful Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 Cup of warm water
  • 2 Tablespoonful powdered coconut milk

Mix them all in one big bowl until consistent. Add more water if needed, sufficient enough to make the mixture thick like how you do pancake or waffle mixture. Oil the baking pan with coconut oil and pour the mixture into it.

To prepare the Coconut Sauce topping, you will need the following:

  • Pure Coconut milk from one whole coconut slightly cooked until oil is surfacing and until the coconut curd is forming. The coconut curd should only be cooked until cream in color.
  • 1/2 Cup Mascovadu Sugar and 1/2 teaspoonful of table salt diluted in 5 Tablespoonful of Water and stirred heated in a pan until it becomes slightly thick.

Don’t wait any longer until the heated sugar to solidify. Combine the two mixtures together under low fire and stir until consistent (see below picture, left). Put off the stove and pour the third part of the sauce into the uncooked glutinous rice mixture. Slightly stir it so that the coconut sauce will spread within the mixture (see below picture, right). Avoid mixing it well. Few strokes will do the trick.

Set the oven timer to 45 Minutes, up and down heating, and 125-150 Degrees Celsius. Let the oven heat for 5 minutes and then put the baking pan inside. Check it once in awhile. Whenever the mixture is rising, pock it with pointed knife so that the trapped air causing it to rise will go out.

After 15 mins, take the pan out of the oven. With the use of fork, repeatedly poke the half-cooked rice cake putting holes all over. Pour all the remaining sauce on the cake and spread it evenly on the surface. Finish baking it for another 15 mins. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down. Put it inside the refrigerator for an hour or until it becomes gummy and chewy. Serve it with hot coffee or Ginger-Lemon Tea.

For me, I prefer to eat it cold. Some people may like softer version of it. Heating it slightly in the oven will make the rice cake soft again. Enjoy the yummy breakfast………

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Life is Not Just a Matter of Eating and Drinking

Photo by Cherie Vicera

Matthew 6:25  “For this reason I (Jesus) say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

The whole day was full of anxieties and disappointments. No matter how I focus my eyes on the sunny side of the street, I could not get out from the big dark umbra that swallowed my very being. They were the shadows of the exasperating and the dismaying occurrences that came flooding into my day. As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours”. They came all at once that they covered the glistening jewels of happy and glorious moments.

The dawn was still not breaking and here comes a cry of financial help from a dear nephew whose wife is about to deliver their second child. Considering these times of pandemic lock-down, no one can offer him financial support. I, for one, I was wondering how I can drop my aid to the money forwarders if they closed their shop based on the strict government emergency policy. And, how could I seek other relatives’ support if they were not even opening messages through the Facebook messenger. Nevertheless, I managed to push some amount I only can afford to chip-in considering my own economic struggle with the growing expenses of my family. I just felt sorry that I could not be of support more than that. As a Christian, my conscience was compelling me to go another extra mile…. but how? We are in home quarantine.

It was the first hour of work and upon opening the company’s Learning System I accidentally saw that the letter regarding annual salary increment has already been posted in the system, yet still the company-wide announcement had not been issued officially. It was a disastrous discovery to see that I have zero increase. It was my first ever experience in my entire life as an employee not to receive any annual increment. I was trying to console myself, telling myself that it is not a big issue and I have to be thankful that I still have a job while there are million of unemployed people out striving to land for job. Trying to rationalize did not make a bit of difference about my exasperation. It, all the more, added to my bitterness.

It was pay-day and as usual, I have to check how much did the payroll credit to my back account. My eyeball almost popped-out when I discovered that only about a half is given. What happened to the bigger chunk? I don’t know. I immediately downloaded my Pay Statement and there I saw that they deducted a portion of the already disbursed airline ticket cost without notifying the concerned employees beforehand. I felt so helpless as I am working from home and I could not run to the Payroll Section to ask, “What the hell happened?” Hopelessly, I just shoot and email asking them the reason of the deduction. Later, through my other colleagues, I learned that they also experienced the same. In my country, we can easily run to the Labor Department, file a complaint and expect for recompense. But as expats in another state, that remedy is not available to us. We will just be beating the air until we grow tired.

And do you expect that it ends there? No, no no……. I heard my smartphone chiming SMS. My credit card was being used for something expensive from an on-line shop. I called my girls in Manila to check what did they buy. Whew! A few pieces of face masks at the cost of a fortune! Is that how desperate the commercials are? In the midst of this Covid-19 crisis, they still have the darkest of their souls to take advantage. If only it is not a sin to curse, I will recite a hundred of it.

And here they are, girls, asking me to buy them bicycle because the present suspension of all public utility vehicles from running in the roads renders them sprinting to the shops all the time. My older daughter with scoliosis can hardly walk a mile to buy necessities whenever they run out of stocks. I realized it is indeed a pressing need. Oh yeah!… again, I forgot that a couple of days ago, they were complaining that their hands sustained bruises because they have not gotten used to washing clothes with bare hands. As loving father that I am, I have that strong compulsion to provide them comfort in their life. Taking a deep apprehensive sigh, I told them to order washing machine immediately. I could just wonder where I can run to reap more blessings and have all these needs covered?

In trying to momentarily forget the whole day’s torments, I rushed to the shop, keeping up from the start of curfew hours, to treat myself, wife and son with a couple of large Dominoes Pizza which I bought at a promo offer and a bunch of pressure-fried chicken. I could feel heartburn rising up to my throat while driving. My anxiety was taking toll on my physical body. While seated inside the car, waiting for my pizza order, I strain my already blurry eyes to read news from all over the world through my smartphone. They contain common stories, Covid-19 and the continuous effort to mitigate the spread. Looking at the statistics, I couldn’t stop my tears thinking of my beloved ones moving around hospital beds tending to the Covid-19 patients. In my mind, I was telling myself, “Here I am quietly containing all my bitterness and disappointments while these people are fighting, not only for the lives of others, but risking their own lives. Shouldn’t I be grateful that I am still dwelling within the comfort of my home?” What am I worrying about? Why should I be bitter about the perceived injustices in my job?

Like me, you too might have encountered or might still be experiencing a so-called, “Bad Day”. And you tend to forget all the jewels you’ve got within the same day. It is human to feel bad during bad days. But it is “UN-Christian” not to struggle and get rid of the bad feeling. The temptation of being bitter and resentful takes its energy from having worldly, materialistic focus. We think that by earning or having sufficient money, we can cover all our needs. Is this true? If it is, then we should go and ask the rich people who drenched themselves into drug addiction and alcoholism. We should transcend to a higher level of understanding about life. The world does not only encompass material dimension. We should understand that spiritual realm is also co-existing with it, not anywhere else, but in the world itself. When Paul said, “set your minds on things ABOVE”, He was not referring to a location above the earth, but rather He was talking about higher form of thinking and understanding. “Things above” means nobility in intentions, character and attitudes. It is a call to be Christlike.

Philippians 4:8 – “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.”

Indeed, LIFE is more important than food and clothing because life is not only physical. The very essence of life is SPIRIT. You can exist only in spirit if you have deeper relationship with Christ, the very source of spiritual life. But, you should follow the path leading toward this relationship – the road called GRATITUDE. Once you learn how to be truly thankful about the redemption of God through Christ, you will altogether be grateful even during the toughest times of your life. If you live a life of gratitude, you will always be focused on the glittering jewels of blessings scattered on the high mound of life’s garbage – disappointments, hatred, resentment, envy, materialism, etc. Our resilience as disciples is drawing it’s power from being grateful of the cross.

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THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE FACE OF A GIANT

Lessons we can derive from the story of David and Goliath in line with this the present crisis of COVID-19. 

Cowardice : Man is afraid and entirely clueless about the future  

Nowadays, we have satellites and radars to see what is happening across the entire atmosphere, outer space virtual expeditions to survey the universe, sonar imagery to explore objects underground, and submarine robots to investigate what is happening down the deepest seabed.  We also have advanced instruments to see tiny objects down to its genetic or molecular make-up.  Ultrasound and other instruments are there to explore living animal or human internal organs.  But no matter how advanced human technology is, there is no equipment ever invented to predict the future.  We can only speculate on what will happen tomorrow through current time indications, nonetheless so dark and uncertain.  Man is living inside a misty space, only seeing things clearly at a very close time frame, perhaps in only few hours based on planned actions, yet still we have no control over a hundred of variables that may interfere with what we want to happen in an hour or so. In this case, no one can ever brag about the future. One can only plan ahead of time, but future has its own way to unravel the story of one’s life.  (Proverbs 27:1, Luke 12:16-21; Proverbs 19:21)

I don’t quite understand why there are people who tend to work back, dig into the rummages of the past to find a prophetic clue about the present.  Some insist that Nostradamus, the prophet of doom, had already predicted it all until the second coming of the Lord Jesus. And even this present crisis is believed by many to have been nailed into his writings.  Will that satisfy their cravings for amusement and curiosity?  Or, they are just looking for a better clue about the terrifying things that lie ahead and die in dread? Who wants to know when and how we are going to die anyway?  Do you?

Some Christians immediately link this pandemic to the end of times.  Do we really need to?  Is there any necessity for us to read the signs of times?  Or, is this just another folly man is making of himself?

Fear is creeping in the entire world nowadays.  It only proves the limitations of humankind to wrestle with uncertainties of the future.  No perfect plan can ever be rolled-out perfectly and we all know that.  Even the most intelligent project planner gambles against risks and failures.  Most likely, a project went through series of unforeseen bumps and falls before it reaches a still disputable successful completion.

The Israelites, upon the thought of Goliath, were immensely intimidated, disoriented, hopeless and afraid.  They thought that it would be the end of their existence in the face of the earth and totally had forgotten the promise of God.   We are now facing the big and horrible Goliath, and how should we respond?  Certainly, Goliath is not the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is rather our FEAR of what might happen to us in the future.   

Reflection:

  • Are we facing the goliath of fear in our lives?
  • What are the things that we are afraid-of about the future? Health? Job security? Economic status? Family and children’s fate? Depleting savings?
  • What promises of God should we need to remember in order to re-gain our peace of mind?

Practical Application: (Psalm 37:4-6; Proverbs 16:3)

If you want to be secured and unafraid in facing the future:

  • Humbly surrender to God and let Him direct you toward His plan and purpose of you.
  • Set your plan on the purpose of why Christ called you to be a disciple. He will surely bless you and supply all your needs so that you can carry out His works in you. 

OBLIVIOUSNESS:  Man has a very limited understanding and tend to lose control

No matter how intelligent mankind is, there are always way too much that we don’t know about the world.  Have you ever wonder why mankind keeps on exploring?  Almost endlessly, scientists are getting deeper and deeper in their understanding about the smallest component of matter. They go wider and wider in their exploration up to the largest heavenly body they can possibly fathom. This exploration is for what?  For education and wisdom? For longer and better existence of man?  For a more quality, enjoyable and worthwhile living?  Prepare better life for the next generation?  Continuity of existence of an organism so to keep the ecological balance?

Even million years of study cannot satisfy man’s craving for knowledge and wisdom.  One minute finding can only draw a hundred questions more, which in turn lead to a countless bits of curiosity that will surely bug the minds of the future generation thought leaders, philosophers and scientists.  What do we want to prove in the end? That God does not exist?

No matter how strong we suppress the truth of God, His glory will only shine-out brighter and clearer to the awareness of the faithless.  The more they diminish Him, the greater He grows. David had been into disdain because he was not trained as warrior or soldier.  Least thing that they know, he was drawing strength and wit from the source of all wisdom, God.  And so, with unwavering confidence, he faced goliath. 

I want to think that the Israelites exhausted all remedies they know to prove that they are smart and strong.  However, when faced with goliath, fear creeps into their spines, trembling overcomes their knees and dominated by worry, hid themselves inside their camps obliviously waiting for their doom. Why? Because of their ignorance of what God can do.  They failed to trust and had forgotten the promise of God to them.  Even their very monarch, King Saul, became disillusioned, lose hope and hiding obliviously inside his royal camp. They totally depended on their own wisdom and strength.  They failed to see that their real potential is God, himself, working through an untrained warrior, a shepherd with his sling shot and five stones.

Reflection:

  • Do we have the level of understanding of who our God really is, that we can confidently depend our lives to him and whatever happens, remain faithful? Or, we are just trusting Him with our mouth yet still we depend on our own might?
  • Are we exhausting lot of efforts and time searching for wisdom and yet we only grow more dissatisfied, feeling more ignorant, getting more insecure until we are forced to settle down in a corner obliviously waiting for answers to our questions in life?
  • Do we pray for our difficulties and yet not trust the Lord to deal with them?

Practical Application:  (Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 20:6-8)

  • We must draw strength from Him only through prayers.
  • Seek the right person who can help you fight your personal battles in the Name of the Lord – your discipler and ministry leaders 
  • Don’t be ignorant.  We must seek the wisdom of God through studying His Words, the Bible.

VICTORY: The Kingdom of God remains UNSHAKABLE despite men’s weakness.

Know that we are now in spiritual warfare.  A more challenging one. The devil uses various tactics to scatter the Church and pull our legs into hell.  Persecutions, calamities, wars, factions, dissensions, fights and pestilence – all meant to tear our relationships apart and leave each man bitter on his own.  

The black plague in the 14th century killed almost 50% of the population of Europe.  Spanish Flu in 1918, another Corona Virus, killed around 70 million worldwide, Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union) caused the death of 20 million worldwide, Mao Tse Tung was responsible for the deaths of around 45 million, WW1 death toll records shows 20 million and around 75 million in WW2.  Anything can happen and we, in our human wisdom can never define why these happened? And, why the world had to go through this?

In Matthew 24:3-14, Jesus already gave us forewords about such disastrous events, but he also assured us of a Kingdom that shelters mankind when these dreadful times come. He said and can be taken as a sheer promise from the Faithful One, “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  This Kingdom does not exist as one of the world’s powerful political domains, but it is an unseen spiritual Kingdom. The Kingdom of love and of righteousness, of justice and peace beyond human understanding.

God has been displaying the invincibility of His Kingdom since the early time of Jacob (Israel).  During the reign of Saul, He had shown His non-assailability through the lowly shepherd, David who later succeeded Saul in the throne even before the latter’s death.

The tribe of Judah where both David and Jesus descended from is the exact representation of the Church today.  Since the establishment of the God’s Kingdom in Jerusalem during the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, it has just keep getting stronger and stronger amidst opposition from the Jewish leaders and government.  It has all the more spread like a virus all throughout the earth and has penetrated even the very seat of the giant religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many others. No one can touch it, not even the jaw of death can overcome it. (Isaiah 2:2; Daniel 2:44)

Jesus, in His resurrection, set His throne over His very own Kingdom, the Church.  He shut the gate of hell close for the benefit of those who will submit to His Lordship.  With a small stone, Simon-Peter, He hit the enemy right through his forehead, and make satan’s entire army shudder at merely the sight of Him.  Who can scare a bit of this Kingdom? No one!  

Reflection:

  • Are we now part of God’s unshakable Kingdom today? How can you say so?
  • What role are you playing to advance the Kingdom?
  • Are you just enjoying the ride? Or, you are actively taking part in advancing the Kingdom?

Practical Application:  (John 15:8)

  • Being a disciple of Christ is a life inside God’s spiritual domain.  We want to prove God that you are indeed His disciple? Well then, you have to bear “much fruit”.  Multiply yourselves through sharing the Gospel to your friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members.
  • If you believe that God’s Kingdom is the Kingdom of Love, Truth, Righteousness and Justice; if you believe that this Kingdom withstands all devastation through eternity, then ask other people to come and join this Kingdom.
  • Just as David valiantly defended the Kingdom, Just as Christ weathered the excruciating pains of flogging and crucifixion, gave up His life for it, won’t we courageously put our lives on the line also.  “Seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

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Honoring The Apostles and Early Saints

I stumbled upon an interesting article which brings light to a very important issue on idolatry and veneration of early saints among Roman Catholics. You may want to go there before you further read through my digest below. https://www.catholic.com/tract/saint-worship

I just hope that all members of this giant denominational group of Christian are all properly educated and illumined by the featured article. For me, I have no objection in honoring saints, since all people are created in the image of the Almighty and are truly anointed by the Holy Spirit deserves the highest respect. All who chose to bear the mark of Jesus have become God’s ambassadors meant to receive honor from one another, and from those who still do not believe and yet to believe in God.

I am not sure if the catechism classes among Roman Catholic youths highlights on the distinction between “Latria”, which is the highest from of worship being ascribed only to the Almighty, and “Dulia”, which is the lower form meant to honor fellow human being. Unfortunately, not all people have that deep desire to go deeper and understand the intellectual concepts behind “WORSHIP”. People just tend to follow the patterns of interwoven traditions and cultural church practices modeled out by parents and ancestors. They also tend to follow the predominant form of worship without first understanding why they need to perform rituals like that. To the ignorant many, worship is worship. They don’t really care about the gradation of worship and distinction of who they worship. They worship God and saints all the same, at the same level and form. The problem lies on proper education such as, pope not clarifying this issue to avoid committing idolatry among catholic members at large, priests not emphasizing it in their homilies to limit idolatrous practices within their own parochial fences, bishops not giving clear directives to enforce avoidance of wrong worship. I am nearly convinced that they keep the believers ignorant because of the benefits of the influence they can get by keeping everyone ignorant.

Did the featured article say that “Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not meant to be worshiped but only to be honored?” But why almost all Catholics pray to Mary? The rosary is not at all recitation of pure prayers, but only the Lord’s prayer is the qualified part, considering the true meaning of prayer. The remaining parts like the Nicean/Apostles Creed, the proclamation of the angel to Mary’s conception of Jesus and Elizabeth’s blessing to Mary, are not at all prayers. Reciting them over and over again does not make any sense at all – no direction, not even a qualified point of worship.

Does the Bible teach us that Mary was given the authority to intercede in prayers? Although in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Paul made a clear statement that only Christ can mediate between God and Man, prayer intercession can be done by any of the “Saints”, the true believers of God. Saints in biblical context literally refers to all followers of Jesus such as you, me and the early disciples. Some good examples of prayer of intercession are all over narrated in the Bible; Abraham interceded for Lot, prophets interceded for the kings, job prayed for his friends, Paul prayed for the churches, etc. James 5:16 provided the qualification of an effective and powerful intercessor, “the prayer of the RIGHTEOUS is powerful and effective.” This had exemplified by Jesus in John 17 which provides us with the very profound model of an intercessory prayer.

“Saint Joseph, Peter, Paul…. blah, blah, blah…. pray for us.” In your own assessment, can this kind of prayer channeled through the apostles be appealing to God? If the apostles can only speak, they will surely ask you, “Pray for what?…” At that moment on the cross when Jesus gave up His spirit into the hands of the Father, the curtain covering the temple of holy of holies was torn into half and opened (Matthew 27:51), signifying the end of the priestly intercession. At that moment, Christ became the direct channel for men to go directly to God. He became the ultimate Priest who opened the gates of heavens and let everyone come before the throne of God without any hindrance, and so we will no longer entrust our petitions to the DEAD apostles. If there is anybody whom you can ask to pray for you, he must be the living saint next to you. You may ask him to sit down with you and pray for your serious concerns. No need to murmur to the ghost of Saint Jude.

Should we bow down before the dead apostles through their painted or engraved images? You don’t even know how they looked like. The one who painted or sculpted those things created them out of the images that came out of their imagination, corresponding to the objects’ characters as depicted in the Bible. Peter has the keys and rooster, Paul has the shepherd’s staff in his and a book in the other (note that the scripture before is not the book that we know but scrolls), John is holding a staff with crucifix at the tip, and so forth and so on. Veneration of the apostles and angels, is it right? Acts 10:25, Peter did not permit Cornelius and the other people to worship him. In total humility, he told them that he is just a fellow servant. Revelations 19:9-10, the angel told John not to bow down to him because he is just a servant. There is nothing wrong paying respect and honor to them, the apostles, since they are the patriarch of Christian faith, but to overdo to the point of worshiping them is an idolatrous act detestable to God. In Matthew 4:10, Jesus confronted the devil by emphasizing that there is the only One who deserves our worship, the One and True God, not the saints, not the sinners, not the cross, and, not any creation.

If non-catholic Christians wash their hands from the guilt of perpetrating idolatry and wrong worship practices, then think about this. Without knowing it, many are falling into some kind of a wrong worship when they immerse themselves into a very lengthy, spectacular and emotional singing and they call that “Worship”, feeling as if such practice is the very essence of the church gathering. Some also think that worship is the program or liturgy that they are religiously running once a week inside their respective Church houses. To many, worship starts from singing, continue with a sermon and prayers, ends with benediction and postlude song. And there are Christians who believe that laughing is a form of worship. And so are those who intentionally fall into epileptic-like behavior because of their intense concentration in prayer. To have a very limited understanding about worship and prayers do not exonerate you from the consequence of doing it the wrong way. We have to dig deeper in the Word of God and find out the WHOs, WHATs, WHYs and HOWs of worship.

THE CHALLENGE:

Be skeptical when it comes to the practices of your Church groups. Always consult the Bible, especially on the issue pertaining PRAYER and WORSHIP. Remember that God created us to worship Him. If we give Him the wrong worship, we may not be able to perform our duty and will not gain the favor of God. Yes, He will understand our shortcomings, but He also gave us mind intelligent enough to seek the truth and follow Him according to His exact instructions.

If you pray, learn to direct it to the Father through the Name of Jesus. The apostles might not be able to hear us anymore since they are dead so don’t pray to them. If you have difficulty in praying or you don’t know how, ask a more mature disciple to teach you until you learn how to pray by yourself. Seek for other disciples’ intercession if you have to, but don’t approach the dead and ask them to pray for you.

PRAYER FOCUS:

Ask the Lord to give you the right understanding on What, Who and How to worship. Offer your life to Him as a living sacrifice, daily consumed to glorify Him and inspire others.

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Freedom In Christ: Freedom from Materialism

“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:9

  • Are you enslaved by your desires for material treasures?
  • Do you always worry over money and crave to see more deposits in your bank accounts?
  • Are you so pressured to build up something for your future?
  • Are you so easily allured to join money making campaigns that it is eating most of your time, attention and efforts?
  • Are you obsessed over taking more wealth no matter what it takes and what it cost?
  • Are you so engrossed to compete with other wealthy people and you are becoming so desperate to show them that you are richer than they are?

This world will not stop feeding your materialism.  If only you realize, things that will make you feel and look good come one after the other.  They are in every corner.  And, when you are at weakest to resist, they will storm and flood you. Don’t get me wrong.  God wants to bless you and it is His joy to give abundance that you may enjoy life to the full.  But continuous flow of material blessings tends to erode your dependence on God.  You tend to be buried in them until you don’t see God anymore.  Then you are enslaved.  Worst, you are going to have an insatiable appetite for more materials things until you are totally lost inside the dark labyrinth of greed, pride and selfishness.

In one of His famous learning sessions with His disciples, the Great Rabbi Jesus threw a line for the listeners to ponder upon, “How good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his very self.” Luke 9:25.  With His infinite wisdom, Jesus knew from the beginning that materialism will become a mighty wall that will prevent you from being your true self. Your obsession for money and other valuable things in this world will create a dungeon that will imprison you, making you feel good and comfortable at the start, only to inflict bitterness and miseries where you can no longer get out of it.  Don’t be surprised when you hear rich and famous people  committing suicide, drowning themselves in addiction or alcoholism, gambling until they crawl like monitor lizards to the ground for losing all their possessions, and some are in their deathbed miserably all alone.  This world should have been much better if the wealth of the rich people are, instead of squandering their treasures in their vicious lifestyle, being shared to the destitute.

Is it not taught to you that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”? Deuteronomy 8:3/Matthew 4:4.  You rather take this line as a serious warning.  Riches of this world can lord you over if you let it dominate your whole being.  You can be the richest among the richest, but don’t let your spirit crawl in hunger.  Having billions worth of possession is not a sin.  More so, it is not a reason for God’s wrath to fall on you.  In fact, like Job, David, and Joseph, God is waiting to bless you.  But never forget to “Honor God with your wealth and the first fruits of all your harvest.” Proverbs 3:9.   You can be rich and at the same time maintain the good and humane spirit in you.  Use your wealth to help the needy, to teach other wealthy people become generous, and to mobilize God’s army of benevolence.  Use your wealth to serve and honor God.

Challenge:   Free yourself from the bondage of materialism which has the tendency to make you greedy, prideful, selfish and unholy.  Learn from Jesus, the epitome of ultimate grace, goodness and generosity.

Additional Scriptures to reflect on:

  • Matthew 19:16-26
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10
  • Matthew 6:19-20
  • Luke 12:15
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-17

 

Freedom In Christ: Self-Limiting Beliefs – I Am Still Young In Faith

How young is young? Or, how old is old? Many disciples fall into this type of excuse for not pushing through with their responsibility to share Jesus to others. In this episode, you will have the full grasp of what it is to be a young christian and what are the edge of your being fresh in the Kingdom of God…… I’ll be right back with the full discussion shortly!!!!