Back to Basics: Reflections on Discipleship

Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship

More than a week ago, I had the privilege to sit down with the very first person I shared the Gospel with. His name is Jake, one my best friends. I also had the blessing of discipling this brother, even if I was only a one-year-old Christian then. We were both in our junior year in High School when we began our discipleship journey. To date, Jake is a manager at a renowned company, a happily married man and they have a wonderful baby girl.

In my heart of hearts, I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and was floored by the beauty of His redemptive work in people’s lives. Our initial exchange of jokes about our High School experiences gradually turned into a mood of quiet contemplation as we surveyed God’s hand over the terrain of our lives in recent years. That short yet sweet reunion made me think deeply about my perspectives on discipleship. I am not perfect, but by God’s mercies, I have learned a lot.

Thus, today, I would love to share with you a few reflections that I hope would help firm up our philosophy of discipleship. I believe these points are not exhaustive yet fundamental – simple yet non-negotiable.

First, we must ask ourselves: What is “discipleship”?

Scriptures teach us that a disciple is a pupil or follower of Jesus Christ. Discipleship, on the other hand, is the life-long process in which we, in personal obedience to God and not to people, grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is done through dependence on God who is at work in us through His Spirit to will and to do according to His good purpose and for His glory.  (Luke 14:25-33; Philippians 2:12-13; John 15:8; Ephesians 3:14-19)

 What then is “disciple-making”?

I believe that disciple-making is, and must always be, the main mission of the Church. It is the intentional process of reproducing Christ-like disciples who will do the same for others. It is anchored upon Jesus’ mandate (the Great Commission) and is motivated by our love for God and others (the Great Commandment). The Great Commandment and the Great Commission must never be divorced. (Matthew 28:18-20, 22:37-40; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Timothy 2:2)

 Why do we need to make disciples today?

  1. It is a mandate for all believers/followers of Jesus Christ.
  2. It is a humble privilege to take part in God’s redemptive mission.
  3. It is an opportunity to make a lasting impact to the following generations.

 What are other practical benefits of disciple-making?

  1. The focus of the church becomes simple. We learn to be sensitive to what the Lord wants to prioritize. We allocate our energies to the things that truly matter.
  2. When there are movements of disciple-making happen, more people are reached and transformed by the Gospel.
  3. God-focused leaders, Growth Groups and churches are intentionally reproduced.

What helpful reminders do we need to constantly embrace in this disciple-making journey?

  1. We begin with the end in mind – following Jesus and multiplying Christ-like disciples.
  2. We start discipling others by building authentic relationships with a small number of people.
  3. We help each other deepen in our relationship with the Lord through disciplined study of Scriptures, fervent prayer, and in mutual accountability.
  4. We grow wide in impact by mentoring our disciples on how to disciple others.
  5. We must remember that all these are done through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Again, I believe the abovementioned points are not meant to be exhaustive yet fundamental – simple yet non-negotiable. For that is exactly the point: we need to constantly get in touch with the basics of a biblical kind of discipleship so that we will not get lost along the way. We will go through pains and heartaches, but all these are part of the necessary journey.

The disciple-making journey can only succeed when we abide in Christ, and our comfort is this: the God who called us is always with us. Let us press on, Church. Just like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Press on!

 

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A Holy Discontent and a Grateful Heart

Read: 2 Samuel 7

A good reputation. Victories, here and there. Earthly treasures. God’s favor.  Name it, and most likely, David had any good king would ask for.  Now, it’s an opportune time to experience rest from Israel’s battles.  Yet there’s something inexplicable that David could not just shake off from his heart and mind.  What could it be?  Perhaps, a burden? Well, you can say that it’s a holy kind of burden.  It’s what some aptly call a “holy discontent”.

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.” (2 Sam. 7:1-3)

What keeps you wide awake at night? What sort of vision totally exhilarates you?  In this text, David had one – to build a house (temple) for the God he loves so dearly.  What a gargantuan vision this shepherd-turned-king had!

Now, let’s read further.  Did God honor David’s desire? Well… Yes, but God’s reply had a some twist in it. To build the temple was left for his son to do; not in David’s reign. The Lord honored the humble king’s desire, but He had plans beyond what the king could think of.

Nonetheless, David was floored by God’s answer.  Then, this was the king’s response to God in his prayer:

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?  And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! (2 Sam. 7:18-19)

A holy discontent coupled with a grateful heart.  This is a powerful combination of humility made manifest in David’s life.

With all the great things that have happened to King David, he could have chosen to be a little lax.  But he was committed to do more for the Lord!  With God’s unlikely response to such desire, he could have chosen to react rebelliously.  Yet, he submitted… and his heart could not contain the joy he found in God!

At times, life’s victories can easily put our guards down.  For some people, they become complacent.  Others, they even forget to acknowledge God.  With all the good intent fused in every prayer that we hope the Lord would grant, we can subliminally bear a grudge when things don’t turn as anticipated.  But in this passage, David’s attitude was both noteworthy and praiseworthy.

An amazing concoction of holy discontentment and gratefulness were found in David, the man after God’s own heart.  Thus, by God’s grace, I pray that the same elements of humility could be found in your heart and mine too.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Based on this text, what can you say about David’s attitude towards God?
  2. Now, what was his attitude towards victory?
  3. How do you respond whenever God answers your prayers in an unexpected manner?
  4. Drawing from David’s example, how can you cultivate a grateful heart?
  5. What are the “baby steps” that you can take to act on the vision that God has placed in your heart to do?

A Unique Kind of Lens

Read:  1 Samuel 16:1-13

Saul just got rejected from being king, and Samuel was commissioned by God to search for his replacement. The Lord sent specific instructions to find Jesse the Bethlehemite for, surely, the Lord’s anointed was to be found in his family. Now, here’s something that God said, which I found so interesting and somehow perplexing:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7 ESV)

On the basis of our humanly perspective, a shepherd boy was never fit to be king. The eldest was commonly favored in the family, particularly in the Jewish tradition, so the youngest of the clan was never the top choice. However, God wore a unique kind of “lens” when looking at His creation. He did not focus on one’s status, credentials, nor anything outward. The Lord was so focused on the condition of one’s heart.  He is looking at your heart. And, David had what God was looking for.

Today’s culture has created a strong sense of competition.  People want to be better than anybody else!  Employers want the most impressive curriculum vitae.  In short, they are “hunting” for the best of the best… of the best.  Whenever we fall short of the world’s standards, our lives seem to stop and crumble.  We end up looking down on ourselves and begin having a wrong self-image.  We likewise become critical towards others, by fault-finding and falling into the “comparison trap”.  Let’s be honest.  All these can be true of us, isn’t it?

But, is performance God’s measure of one’s character? Certainly not!  For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Lift up your head, my friend.  Take heart, and be totally secure in God’s unconditional love.  Invest in cultivating your own heart, go to God’s Word, and pursue what He desires for you to do.

As we take a closer look at the life of David and discover how he chased God’s own heart despite his imperfections, I hope you’d prayerfully consider reflecting on the following questions:

  1. Have you ever fallen into the traps of comparison and performance?  How did you feel, and what where the results of such feelings?
  2. How’s your heart right now? Are you chasing God’s heart, or something less?
  3. God looks at our inmost being.  What are things that keep you from pursuing God fully and joyfully? Have an honest evaluation.  Then, I urge you to write them on your journal or on a piece of paper and fervently ask the Lord to live a surrendered life.

Looking forward to Saturdays! ;)

Jesus, in His ministry here on earth, called young people to be His disciples.  What amazes me most is that He called and mentored them despite their age, life situation, and their varying temperaments.  In the book of Acts, even the religious leaders witnessed the life-changing impact that Jesus Christ created in these people.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”  (Acts 4:13)

Even in the Old Testament, Daniel and his three friends are noteworthy examples of young people who lived out uncompromising faith and that of fervent prayer.

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Daniel 6:10)

Could you just imagine if our youths shared the same passion and commitment for the Lord?  What an exciting vision, isn’t it?

Two months ago, our core team composed of nine young men and women began to be on our knees to seek God’s direction for our youth ministry here in GCF South Metro.  Over time, He impressed in our hearts the need to be more intentional about building relationships with their peers and their families, to go deeper into God’s Word, to make prayer a priority, and be more focused in making Christ-committed disciples.  Now, the big challenge left for us is, how are we going to start?

Thus, we are enjoining all the high school and college students to attend our regular SATURDAY YOUTH FELLOWSHIPWe will launch this on August 18, 4:00–5:30 P.M, at the YDT Center.  In these gatherings, we will study the Word, worship God together, and experience the joy of being in the company of fellow young people!  Of course, everyone’s welcome to join!

Please feel free to approach our team at the lobby outside the worship hall, and sign-up!  For more information, you can get in touch with me at 0917.805.0531 or via e-mail at mike.duco@gcfsouthmetro.org.

Consumer vs. Follower

About two weeks ago, I was listening to one of North Point Community Church’s sermon podcasts while going to work.  Andy Stanley (NPCC’s senior pastor) gave a very timely message/sermon on being a follower of Jesus. If you’ve read my blog posts in the past, you’d probably observe by now that discipleship is really, really close to my heart.

Anyway, going back to the said podcast’s point, what’s even interesting to note there was how Andy highlighted the fact that a lot of those who claim to believe in Jesus may sadly fall more into the category of being consumers rather than followers.

So, here’s a question for you. What is a consumer?  The lexical definition of the term is a “person who purchases goods and services for personal use.” To put it in a church/religious context, you may say that more and more people want to be associated with Jesus because of the “benefits” that come along with having a relationship with Him.

“Could that even be possible?” You might wonder.  “Isn’t that too harsh?”

Well, I believe that is possible, because I used to think that way too. I could take myself as an example. I guess my life would be the best evidence that I could give as of the moment.  Here are just some things I used to embrace:

  1. I prayed to God because I need to pass an exam or rush a requirement.
  2. I used to go to church only on my birthdays to lay down a “wish list” for the coming year.
  3. I told God that I’d follow Him as long as He’s in agreement with my plans and ambitions.
  4. I pledged to serve Him.  But to go on a mission trip or share the Gospel to a stranger? Hmm… Maybe next time – when I’m ready.
  5. I asked Jesus to come into my life to give me inward peace and to save me from going to hell.

Peace. Good results. Healthy family. Financial provisions. Smooth “love life”. Heaven.

Let’s think about the abovementioned items first.

Are they inherently bad? OF COURSE NOT.

Are they legitimate desires? YES.

Should they be at the top of our priority list? NO. (Pardon me for being straightforward.)

At this point, let’s check Luke 14: 25-27 (ESV).

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

A while ago, we described what a consumer is. Now, we’re going to clarify what a follower is.

To follow Jesus means you have to seriously put Him on top of all things.  Based from the passage, it doesn’t outright mean that you have to hate those you hold dear.  It simply means we ought to love Him – follow Him – to the point that all else will just fall second.

Yes, the gift of salvation is free.  But it only begins there, because the cost of being a God-follower (a disciple) is extremely high.  Here, you would know that salvation involve a change of status (from sinner to being a child of God), an infusion of new life, a change of heart, a change of mind, and a progressive pursuit towards Christlikeness.

Nothing mystical occurred.  Yet everything just transformed when I started to grasp this profound truth.

Taking a peek using God’s spiritual lens, I gradually understood that following God would involve so much risk and would not exempt me from deep hurt. Furthermore, to be a follower is not equivalent to a pain-free life.  But… But!  But to daily decide to follow Jesus (my personal Lord and Savior) gives me inexplicable joy, drives me to love others like He does, and creates in me a deep inward anticipation of the glory that awaits me at the end of my earthly journey.

I realized that I don’t want to miss the whole point.  Now, I can only reckon that my relationship with Him far outweighs all the treasures, all the glory, all the light momentary trials I’m experiencing and will be experiencing in the years to come.

I chose and will forever choose to be follower, by God’s grace.  I follow Him because He first loved me.

I want to challenge your thinking, friends.

Are you consumer? Or, are you a follower?

*You may view Andy Stanley’s message here – http://www.northpoint.org/messages/trading-up

Mentored people mentor. Discipled people disciple.

This afternoon, I got to spend quality time with my mentor (or discipler) at a coffee shop in Alabang. His name’s Allan Santos, our youth and young professionals pastor at Greenhills Christian Fellowship South Metro. It was only until this September that we started meeting in a “discipleship/mentoring” setting. I have had two other mentors in the past, namely, BJ Villanueva and Don Guico. They, too, are faithful pastors. Let me clarify at this point that it was not my intention at all to look for pastors as my mentors. (Haha!) They’re God’s blessings to my life, and forever will I be grateful for these men.

I am not writing to lead you to a conclusion that I will be a pastor in the future. (Though, like I’d always say, I’m quite open to that if God wills it to happen.) I’m neither writing to narrate their faith stories, for that may take countless hours to formulate. But my desire’s to impart my joy of having a solid few to stand with me, be it in my “Golden Age” or in my darkest hour.

In having such people, I learned what transparency, accountability, and what disciple-making meant. The guys I mentioned above (plus, my other friends who have influenced me in the most profound ways) are like living epistles unfolding before my very eyes. The written Word of God becomes more real, alive when you see people take their faith into action. And, I am overwhelmed by the presence of these inspiring faith-walkers.

(I literally got goosebumps as I wrote that part. I simply am amazed by God’s work!)

Now, forgive me for suddenly taking my writing’s intensity a notch higher, but I want you to face these two facts of life.

Point A: It’s easy to brag about what we have achieved, what we own, and everything else that’s positive.

Yet, Point B: It was never easy to expose our brokenness and our rottenness.

Would you agree?

But, you see, my mentors took the extra mile to hear me out… as I am. They embraced my life’s points A and B. They were never perfect people (nor they will ever be), but they stood firmly with me no matter what. These guys prayed hard. They likewise counseled… listened… rebuked… rejoiced… provided… affirmed… challenged… laughed…. pushed…celebrated… pushed some more… corrected… and loved me regardless who I am. Regardless who I was. It did not stop there, however.

They loved me too much they just could not leave me stagnant in my life-faith journey. They helped me correct my failures and encouraged me to leverage on my strengths. Above all, my mentors intentionally pointed me back to the Cross whatever the circumstances at hand be.

Call me “cheesy.” But, truth is, I never meant to sugar-coat all these stuff. Again, I’m just here to honestly impart my joy through writing.

In one of Bill Hybels’ books, I remember him sharing that people hardly change (for the better) because of living unexamined lives. I believe that’s true. And, I believe we need mentors who can help us in the processes of examination and of being transformed in conformity to the likeness of our Maker.

I thank the Lord for I have a mentor now. In fact, my heart’s desire is that I would always have one even if I’m way beyond the retirement age. And at present, I am also mentoring a chosen few whom I pray would do the same for others. (In fact, by the Lord’s grace, some of them already are mentoring/discipling other people!)

So, let me ask you just a few more questions and throw in a couple of challenges before I end. Have you been praying for a person to mentor/disciple you? Or, have you been praying for somebody that you could be so honest with? If none, then I urge you to pray and seek one.

For those currently being mentored, I challenge you to step out in faith and begin making disciples. Seek the Lord’s direction and boldly live out His Great Commission. Maybe it’s time to pass the baton.

To be a disciple (mentee) and a disciple-maker (mentor) must be two of the most important decisions I made in my life. Never will I regret these decisions; and eternally will they remain my joy.

“Disconnected”?

Many people live “disconnected” lives. (Sadly,I’m guilty of this as well.) They believe one thing, but behave differently. They say something so convincing, but act in contrast to what they “preach”. 

This inconsistency, too, is a pressing reality among those who claim to follow Christ. However, Scriptures clearly declare that, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked”. (1 John 2:6) 

Hence, I implore you to make up your mind about this crucial matter. Regardless your situation, may His Spirit enable you to choose to follow Christ!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

By the way, the abovementioned was the gist of a lesson I gave last Friday (September 9, 2011). For further reading and reflection, please refer to 1 John 1 – 2:6.

To give you a better picture, John’s manner of writing in this book have been greatly influenced by the rising gnosticism in the church during that time.  By that, people chose NOT to believe the Person of Christ as fully God and fully human (docetism), therefore, not believing the reality of His resurrection too.

If you would closely inspect chapter 1, John would present the reality of Christ’s deity — “what was from the beginning… we’ve touched… seen… heard”.  He was so clear about the God that we worship.  Right from the start, you would imagine that he’s stating things in an “as-a-matter-of-fact” approach.  You can actually check chapter 1 of the gospel of John, so you can observe the similarities and differences in his salutation/introduction between the two books.  It’s interesting to note that part.

In the following passages, John presented a number of contrasts (i.e. darkness versus light); the role of Christ as a sufficient, substitutionary sacrifice; and an advocate for all those who follow Him.

And the clincher?  John says that if you truly are in the Light, as Christ is (in the) Light, then we should make up our minds.  Do not be easily persuaded by the things of this world.  So John continues that, to those who zealously profess to be in the Light ought not to live in darkness.  Instead, he/she should walk as Jesus walked!

Let me leave you with a few questions:

1.  What area/s of your life do you feel you’re being “disconnected”?  Meaning, you generally know what God wants you to do, yet hesitate to obey Him.

2.  Is it easy or difficult to follow Christ?  If yes, what makes it difficult for you?  Be honest.  Here are some examples that I came across with.

“I find it hard to obey Christ because of what people might say about me.”

“It’s hard because of my bad past. I feel like a hypocrite.”

“It’s tough to live like Christ because it is simply inconvenient/uncomfortable.”

3.  What step/s should we take (or have been taking) to get to really know how Jesus walked and to live like Him?

Take note, I’m not asking you to respond to this note.  But what I’m asking of you is to take all these things to heart.  If you would really draw your knees and be vulnerable before Him about these important matters, I believe your life would never be the same again.

I implore you, my beloved… choose to follow Christ!

How do you “Recharge”?

Monday and Wednesday.  I got to meet two different people who work extra hours at their office to meet their respective quotas each month.   They confided about their difficulty to be placed in front of a desktop computer for about ten to twelve hours per day.  And sadly, they run the same routine for the rest of the week.  By week, I mean, for an entire seven days. The only time you could rest is when you choose to absent yourself or when you file a vacation leave.  The office knows no holidays as well.

I gasped, sighed, and exclaimed: “Whoa, that’s just too much!”  (Of course, I said that part in Tagalog.)

As time ticked, I could only offer a listening ear to these two people.  I was there to hear them out about their frustrations and struggles, particularly in the area of work.  Afterwards, words and questions like: “burn out”, “it’s a routine”, “Am I really meant for this job?” began to surface. I’m sure you could tell more in this line of thought, if you put yourself in their shoes.

Being their Kuya and mentor (and while praying to seek the Lord’s wisdom as they were sharing) I replied this way: “It’s either you find a wise way to ‘recharge’, or you ask the Lord to open a new job for you.  What you’re into is really not healthy.”  I’m not a business expert whatsoever, but hey, I just want to give my two cents about their predicament.

And one of them responded by asking in return: “How do you recharge? What do you on your ‘me’ time?”

Now, that’s a crucial question not only for me, but also for everyone living in this fast-paced world. It is certain that being ‘spent’ would imply a breakdown not just only in the area of work, but consequently in all the aspects of one’s life. Family. Your relationship with God.  Physical and emotional health.  Name it.

In my case, this is how I “recharge”.  Please don’t judge me, okay? (Thank you!)

By God’s grace, I regularly spend my Monday afternoons to just take the Lord on a “date”.  Either in a quiet coffee shop or in the privacy of my home, I spend about four to five hours to be in the presence of my King and Savior. Then, during the remaining days of the week, I spend at least an hour to read my Bible and to pray either in the morning or in the evening.

Okay, hold on for a second! I’m not here to point out that I’m holy!  Again, please don’t judge me. This clearly isn’t a formula too, nor I’d say I’ve perfected this habit of mine.  It takes much discipline and commitment as well.  Though, to be honest, this way of “recharging” has been helping me since I decided to take on this challenge two years ago.

On a more serious note, what I’m sharing here is mainly how the Lord reminded me that resting on Him is necessary for me to survive life’s challenges.  I need to rest on Him for me to be reminded that God is larger than life.   He should be my first, and everything else should fall second.  I need to set aside the “Martha” in me, and choose to become a “Mary”, who chose what was better (cf. Luke 10:38-42).  I need His daily dose grace to press on, and for me to become more of who God wants me to be – a disciple who prioritizes God’s priorities.

This is just my part of the story, so I threw the same question back to my two mentees as their “assignment” to really think and pray about.

I guess it won’t be a harm to ask you, as well.

How do you “recharge”?

Contemplate about it deeply, and just be honest.  Your decision to “recharge” might just save you from a lot of trouble and heartache.

WANTED: Ordinary People

“I’m not ready for it. I need more training.”

“Perhaps another person’s more suitable for the position.”

“I’m simply not enough.  Just get the other guy.”

While this may be true at a certain degree, I’m quite sure most people have articulated similar statements when being challenged to step up into service, into a kind of ministry, or into a leadership position regardless the context.  I am not one to judge their motives, but in my own experience, I’ve sometimes made them to prevent myself from responding with a “yes” to such opportunities.  I sulk into emphasizing the inadequacy I find in me.  I just can’t bear thinking that such a loser would accept the challenge.

Oops! I guess I’m being too hard on myself there, so pardon me for my moment of self-pity.  Yet again, I can’t help but believe that millions (and probably billions) of humans think and feel the same way!  We raise the “L” gesture on our foreheads and we condemn ourselves for being not enough.   We embrace that “I-ain’t-perfect-for-the-job” attitude over and over, both consciously and subconsciously.

Here’s a thought, though… as long as sin lurks in the human heart, we could never say that we’re downright perfect for anything.  HOWEVER, God uses imperfect human beings for His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Let me share a simple account about two guys whose story completely swept me away, and whose changed lives constantly remind me to overcome my struggle with inadequacy.

Years ago, there lived two men named John and Peter.  These guys were pretty close friends, I’d say.  They had been working and journeying together for more than three years by then.  Other than that, they’re prominently known for being followers of Jesus.  And when this account was taken, Jesus has already left earth and has commissioned his disciples to spread the news about Him.

Then, the story continues.

On an ordinary day, as they were walking towards the temple for their time of prayer, a beggar who had been lame from his childhood suddenly appeared into the picture.  The man asked for alms, as he’d usually do, but Peter and John don’t have money as well.

Instead, they gave what the beggar really needed – healing.  In an instant, his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he was able to walk for the first time!  He leaped in jubilation!  He glorified God, in response!

Since he’d been begging alms for quite a long time, people noticed the radical change, of course.  It was sure that such a miraculous event could not escape the eyes and ears of the “bosses” of the religious sects of that time.  True enough, being alarmed, the higher-ups had to bring Peter and John in for interrogation.

“By what power or what name did you do this?” they sternly asked.

Now, brace yourself for Peter’s fearless response:

“Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”

Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit as they were being grilled before the Sandhedrin; and that fact simply resonated in the entire hall.

When the higher-ups saw these two guys’ courage and “realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Unschooled? Ordinary? Noteworthy.

If you would closely observe God both in the Old and New Testaments, He really has a knack for picking people you would least expect to be in the frontlines.

Even if it’s unorthodox, one’s credential was, is, and will never be an issue in His perspective.  After all, His kingdom is open for servants, not “rock stars”.  He is constantly in search for ordinary people, regardless his or her background.  And from these imperfect people, He turns their ashes into beauty by transforming the core of their beings and enabling them to do what could be thought impossible.

How about you?  Do you struggle with so many insecurities?  Does your feeling of inadequacy hinder you from being more and more of the person that God has called you to be?

Shake it off. And, think again.

Remember this: the Lord glorifies Himself through the lives of ordinary, unschooled people.  Just look at Peter and John!  God did the same in my life.  And perhaps, you are next in line.

*Reference: Acts 3-4:13

Elementary Truths (Part 4.1)

Further Instruction (but still elementary)

About Baptisms

a.  It’s plural because it involves two spheres — the physical and the spiritual (Rom. 6:1-4).

b.  The Gospel is not just about Christ dying for our sins (Rom. 5:6-7); it’s also about us, dying with Christ (Rom. 6:5-14).

c.  Our death in Christ sets us free from (or we die to) three powerful spiritual forces:

  • The power of sin (Rom. 6:15-23)
  • The power of the Law (Rom. 7:1-6)
  • The power of the flesh (Rom. 7:7-24)

d.  Consequently we no longer belong to…

  • Satan (Eph. 2:1-3)
  • The world (Gal. 6:14)
*Reference:  Class notes of Prof. J.I. Baylon in the Dynamics of Personal Spiritual Growth (LS 501).  Greenhills Christian Fellowship South Metro Leadership Institute.