#FavorChurch

 “My heart is not that you would come to Favor Church, my heart is that you would go to church—and that you would find a church. If a church doesn’t do what we do, I’m not upset at that. I love them, God bless ‘em. I’m glad that they’re there because there are a lot of people that don’t like our church. It’s not more spiritual or less spiritual to have the music louder or softer; we just choose to have it the way we do.

We’re all on the same team. If I can reach people you’re not reaching, and if you can reach people I’m not reaching then that’s good. At the end of the day, if you don’t believe it, I’m not trying to win you over. I’m trying to win you to Jesus; as long as you believe in Jesus, then I’m happy.”

-James Aiton, Senior Pastor, Favor Church.

 

Favor Church: The family you’ve been looking for.

Source: https://wonder.ph/self/favor-church/

 

 

 

 

3 Pointers on Fundraising for Missions Projects by michellelenk

The following is an article written by michellelenk I read several years back. I recently found out that the website where it was published was no longer online so I figured I could give it another chance to be read here.

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3 Pointers on Fundraising for Missions Projects
by michellelenk

If there is one thing I get asked when talking to people about my unconventional life, strangers in particular, it is “how do you fund the missions projects you do?”

Whether short or long term, fundraising is often a deterrent for people who want to participate in missions work, particularly overseas.

When I was younger, I used to say that money would never stop me from traveling the world, going to dangerous places, and sharing the gospel.

Then I grew up. Life and reality hit me in the face. My once exciting endeavors seemed slightly more unattainable.

This “practical” blog post is selfishly more for myself than others. Because the points below are ones I have to constantly remind myself of every day (my friends can attest). Hopefully, they will be of help to you as well.

These are just a few points that I have learned on my very short journey thus far (keep in mind I’m still young, and still learning as I go.)

1. Don’t let money stop you.

If every missionary waited until they had all the money they needed before they “stepped out,” we probably would not have books full of stories of heroes of the faith today. In fact, most moved forward with little or nothing in their pockets.

If you know God has told you to do something, whether it’s a project in your community or a trip overseas, DO IT! Saying you don’t have the money is basically telling God, “Thanks but no thanks. You probably don’t have enough resources for this one, God.”

With almost every mission’s endeavor I’ve done, short and long term, I started out without a penny. And with every trip, God has always come through. Always. If I decided I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t have the money, I would still be sitting on my butt today.

2. Asking for money is not as terrifying as it seems.

The thought of asking people for money used to absolutely terrify me. For several reasons. I had no idea how they would respond. I was afraid of what they might think of me… such as I’m lazy, trying to mooch off them, or that my endeavor is not “worthy” enough (all prideful reasons really).

But I’ve learned that it’s not as scary as it seems. It can be as simple as sending a well written letter out.

I’ve found that my friends and family are usually honored to help out. Because you see, the sender’s role is just as important as the goer.

You are giving people a chance to be apart of something bigger than themselves.

You are giving them a chance to partner with you, and be apart of the work.

You are giving them a chance to reap a blessing on their lives.

Now, in my personal life, I sometimes have people come up to me, asking when my next mission’s endeavor is, because they want to support me again!

Don’t get me wrong. It still takes tons of work and cultivating relationships, but the more you do it, the more you realize people want to help.

3. Get creative.

Asking for money is not the only way to support a project. And shouldn’t be the only way. You’re going to have to work. Especially if a group from your church is going on the same trip, you don’t want to tap the same pool of people for money.

So get creative! In addition to working a normal job, whether full or part time, ask God to spark creative ideas in you for side projects to raise money. Everything from making things to sell, to teaching a class on a topic you may have expertise on. I love to see the inventive things people come up with to earn money for missions. And I usually always want to support them because I’m so impressed.

Having worked only for non-profit organizations my whole professional career, the mullah never exactly flows in abundance for me (though I love the work). Therefore, I have to get creative.

In the past, I have personally done bake sales, garage sales, making and selling greeting cards and teaching a public speaking class. All of these things brought in hundreds of dollars. People want to see that you care enough about your missions endeavor to put some extra work into earning the funds for it.

~

These are just a few pointers that I hope are of help to you along your journey. Whether you are a teenager still in school, a single young adult still paying off college loans, or a parent trying to support your family, don’t let the idea of fundraising stop you from fulfilling the mission God has put in front of you.

PS: To all you young, single people in particular… USE THIS TIME!! You don’t have much tying you down, or a family to support. Now is the easiest time of your life to travel, participate in missions work, or start something in your community. Just sayin’.

NOW GO FORTH AND CHANGE THE WORLD!

Who’s right when everyone thinks they’re right?

Several months ago I went out to dinner with some lawyer friends. It was a pleasant evening catching up with some old friends and meeting new people who were from the same field as well. I do admit that I am not as well versed in legal practices as much as lawyers would; obviously, I am not a lawyer. I remember enjoying my Constitution class back in Seminary but I am nothing close to a lawyer or even a law student in that respect.

As the conversation went on, I found it very interesting how law students (them at least) are trained to treat the law as it is; without adding one’s personal opinion assumptions on what a certain law may or may not mean.

Contrary to seminary students, we were trained to think systematically; especially when dealing with Scripture. There’s a balance between knowing when to take things in its literal context and when to dig deeper within the lines in order to find the deeper meaning of Scripture. (Of course, there are many other practices and methods other than the two I mentioned; so let’s leave those to the lecturer’s out there instead).

When dealing with the moral law, just like any law; it is best to take it as it “really” is without adding our own personal opinion as to what we “think” it might mean. It doesn’t matter where you are around the globe. Regardless of nationality, culture, religion, or worldview; what is wrong will always be wrong and what is right will always be right.

With that said, it will always always be wrong to commit murder, adultery, steal, rape, lie, etc. regardless of culture, religion, or any other excuse we can think of. Neither does it update itself overtime. Am I wrong for saying that?

The past few months (or maybe even years) I have too often found myself asking why some people are considering it an “okay” matter when we violate a moral law that I would assume everyone should understand and agree with at the very least. And yet here we are again making the same mistakes over and over and over again. History is littered with mankind seizing autonomy by defining good and evil for themselves instead of simply trusting God’s true definition of good and evil. Why did Adam and Eve eat the fruit? Because they defined eating it as good even though God made it clear that doing so was not good.

People need to be reminded that although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that does not in anyway guarantee that everyone is and will be right; because they’re just not [and won’t ever be] right.

(Check out #TheBibleProject on Youtube)

Divine Covenants

Divine covenants are covenants made by God to man. Unlike man-made covenants, divine covenants are a one way deal. God makes the covenant and he sets the terms by which it will encapsulate. It won’t always require man to fulfil an obligation but it will in one way or another include some kind of blessing from God. Although it is a one way deal, divine covenants are always intentionally made by God for the benefit of mankind.

Studying the covenants gives us a clear view of the events that occurred in the Bible; sometimes even those that are not in the Bible. Knowing the covenants and their implications to mankind and the earth helps give an outline to the events that occurred in history. It is now easier to see how faithful men have toiled the earth having only nothing but God’s word to live by. Then again, whenever a covenant is decreed, there is always a sense of reverence for God that enables the hearer to know that anything is possible as long as God said so.

This also shows how intentional God has planned the story of humanity even before it actually unfolds. And with that try challenging yourself to wonder.. You are intentionally made with purpose.

Probably the most important of all covenants is the covenant with Jesus. It is between God and man, but this time including the Gentiles. It promises that the law will be written within man’s heart, relationship with God, knowledge of God, forgiveness of sin, and eternal inheritance. It is through the blood of Jesus and the only requirement is for a man to have faith in Jesus Christ.

That in itself would be the covenant that is closest to home for most of us.

I think this time, If I were to choose which of the five promises are most relevant to me, It’d be the first one which is the law written in man’s heart. I cannot imagine how much that indwelling of the Spirit has saved me so many times from completely messing up my life. In times when I felt like giving up, that indwelt desire deep in my heart to follow God has always lead me to victory. Which is why even to this day, I am very grateful for the blessings that God has made available for mankind despite our stubbornness to turn away from Him again and again. To me that just proves God’s love. Despite the many times that we do not completely understand His logic.

*This entry is part of my revision series. An introspective project revisiting and re-imagining entries I wrote years back.

The Nature of Sin

Sin can be characterized in three ways. Which are unbelief, pride, and disobedience. Unbelief first allows the mind lose faith in God himself and his Word. It then creates doubt and makes things which are not good attractive to the eyes. It then becomes easier for pride to come in. Pride on the other hand, allows the person to exalt oneself instead of God. The temptation at that time was to be like God but in the wrong way. And it is still the same nature that man continuous to fall into to this day; to glorify man instead of God. Once unbelief and the desire to exalt oneself occur, disobedience comes right after. Unbelief and pride work so enticing that it easily shapes man’s actions to disobedience not just from himself or man-made rule, but disobedience and alienation from a person; God.

This section reminds me of one of C. S. Lewis’ thoughts on sin. In one of his novels he wrote of a Turkish Delight. That Turkish Delight although exactly the same as all other Turkish Delights, had one very simple magic in it: eat one and it will cause you to desire one more. It’s as simple as that. He goes on to say how men have destroyed families, their values, murdered and died, just to get one more.

Sin in itself reveals itself to have a cycle that has been continuous even to this day. I am surprised at how simple and predictable this cycle is and yet how often times man have continued to fall for its trap. Although partaking of the fruit is not harmful to man physically, it proves itself as harmful to man in all other aspects. Sad to say, unbelief, pride, and disobedience are still the driving force for many men today even Christians. This just shows how much damage sin has brought into mankind since the first time it manifested. In that sense, it becomes clear how man’s self efforts cannot completely eradicate sin. Only when God intervenes can sin truly be defeated. And I think that’s exactly where Jesus fits in in the story.

*This entry is part of my revision series. An introspective project revisiting and re-imagining entries I wrote years back.

Intentional + Missional

The world as we know it has gone through some drastic changes over the past centuries. When reading the Bible, it is noticeable that the world Jesus walked in was an entirely different world from the one we know today. However distant it may seem, the core themes in the Bible remain true today; one of which is missions. With Asia being the largest continent in the world and home to some of the largest and most influential societies and religions known to mankind.

Contrary to popular belief that this concept of a “missional” perspective is only seen after the ascension, Missions has always been at the heart of God’s plans and thus present all throughout the Bible.

The Bible begins with God as the Creator of the universe, then with the earth, then Adam and mankind. It then discusses the fall of man and how this desire for autonomy left the world in its fallen state. The story then temporarily highlights to Abraham through which God planned to bless all families of the earth with. God promised him his descendants will be a great nation; not just limited to Jews but also the Gentiles. God also promised him land; which is not merely a man-made nation but a land that is made by God himself. Lastly, God promised him overflowing blessing that will reach even those outside his family. We know this today as Jesus who is the salvation for all; the ultimate blessing for mankind.

In light of these facts, we see how much Jesus was and is involved in the entire story even from the very start. It then becomes evident that God never intended to be a God only for the Jews; but for the world. Looking at the Old Testament through these lenses, It would all make sense. If God wanted to reach the world, he would need to call a nation, if He needed to call an entire nation He would need an entire clan, if He needed to call an entire clan He would need a family, and to call a family He needed to call a man.

Some time during the 70’s to mid 90’s, the missionary work was mostly done by Western missionaries who go to less developed countries in Asia. Nowadays however, it seems as though the tables have turned. The church is becoming less and less Westernized and more and more Asian and multi-cultural. It is now mostly Asians doing the missionary work within Asia and even to the West.[1] With that results the integration of Christianity with various cultures. We now have Christianity becoming indigenous to a specific Asian culture instead of a Christianity that imposes Western culture into Asian culture.[2] It is not necessarily a bad thing. Because in that way, Christianity will be introduced as it should be rather than introduced as an American religion. We can clearly see that this is indeed an Asian missionary generation. We now have majority of missionary work being fulfilled by Asians to both inside and outside Asia.[3]

Today we have Chinese reaching out throughout ethnic groups in China, Indians reaching India, South Koreans building hospitals and universities to neighbouring countries, and Filipinos going just about everywhere.

Nowadays tent making is the best strategy to do so, and who else would be fit to do tent making but Asians themselves? We see in the Bible that it has always had people who go do the mission work, and those who stay behind; but consistently support those who do missions. It should be the same today.[4] We usually have missionaries who do professional vocations but spread the Gospel alongside their routine activities. We see them support themselves and receive support from home churches. We see them partnering with fellow missionaries and other organisations of the same cause. And who else could do these better but Asians? Nowadays we have certain areas where we start planting churches and help expand it. We also have realised the potential of reaching out to urban communities. Nowadays, it doesn’t take a long drive to a rural community to reach a certain people group. We see rural residents migrating from rural areas to urban cities to find other means of earning.[5] Rural born people are as near to us in the cities now more than ever before.

During Hudson Taylor’s time, things were a lot different. He had to face trials of all kinds, especially financial trials. He had to live having less just so he could pay rent and survive with his daily necessities such as food and drink. He had to face sicknesses and disease and lived to see his friends die from these diseases. He’s had problems with people who have no idea how life was like in China. And most of all, he had to face most of these trials at such an early age all alone without a wife or family to back him up.[7]

In the Philippines, it is also different. It is evident how much years of being colonised has influenced the Philippine culture and mindset. While the other nations of the world were developing, the Philippines have been passed from one coloniser to another and has not had the chance to grow and mature as an individual country. Even today, the Philippine mindset has been forever haunted by its history and everyday struggle to earn a decent living. The country has been exposed to so much exploitation and criticisms from other countries that just add to the anxiety of the people. The country has been continuously labelled by other countries that a Filipino must come to a realisation that he must not listen to voices from other countries to define himself; and not everyone can do that.[8]

In South Korea, despite having to struggle to become what it is today is also playing a significant role in missionary work. With 25 percent of the population being Buddhists, 25 percent Christians, and 50 percent non-religious; the statistics are quite competitive. They are now on the ranks as one of the most influential countries to watch out in Asia when it comes to missions.

Asia in itself is rich in varying worldviews and philosophies that are available. These may seem irrelevant in the eyes of a Westerner but you’ll be surprised how far these worldviews go for an Asian individual. It defines who a person is and sometimes as far as to define what a country and culture should be. India’s caste system, ancestor-worship in the East, and cults are some examples to name a few.[9]

As the largest continent in the planet, Asia holds the largest body of people than any other continent. It is also home to the world’s largest bodies of worldviews and the most influential religions and philosophies that shaped the planet. In Asia alone we get Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Confucianism, and many more to name a few. Unlike in other parts of the globe where you deal with people who either believe or do not believe in God; in Asia, you deal with people who can easily believe in God. The only question would be; which one? At a glance it seems all of them claim exclusivity, but a little study will show us that each are very distinct from the other.

Which is exactly why successful leaders should not just teach but also train their future successors. Without competent successors, the future of any ministry or any organisation, will be left handicapped. In training successors we must train them with regards to their character, commitment, competency, and content. Character is backed up by years of perseverance, commitment is built by a clear call from God, competency is built by hands-on experiences with ministers in ministry, and content in our academic training must be aimed at producing effective ministers in the field and not merely high grades.

Discipline and academic competence is definitely good. Since God is serious about our lives we must in turn be serious with His call. We need to make sure that we impart practical skills ministers will need in the field. Things like fund raising, networking, and the like. These things cannot be taught in a classroom lecture, they are acquired by actually doing what should be done alongside with guidance from real ministers who are active in the field. Sad to say, many young seminary graduates have had little or no chance of doing these tasks during their stay in seminary. It is sad to hear of zealous young ministers who later resort to non-ministry related vocations because of financial issues.

In light of that, it also brings us into a realisation of how vital it is that we train our students to have an understanding of how much commitment it will take and how much character is to be refined when one is in ministry. Again, discipline and academic competence is good. It molds us to be better and it promises that as long as we are faithful to the end, we are secure in Christ.

We can clearly see how much missionary work is vital in spreading the Gospel. The times have changed tremendously since the time when the Apostles’ did missionary work. With the world at its peak in technology, business, communication, and the like; the world can be as reachable now as it was before. In a time when various philosophies have developed over time, Asians stand out as the most influential people on the planet, and also the ones who need to be reached the most.

The call to reach those who have not heard is louder now as ever before. The challenges have increased, the risks have become deadlier, the trials a lot harder, but this should not be a hindrance to missionary work. Missionary work is not just an overseas trip to a foreign land only to come back with fancy photographs. The risks are real and the mission has to be fulfilled.

Our missionaries need our support, especially our prayers and financial support. What they do is a huge sacrifice for the Gospel and their families. Indeed this will be a historical event for Christianity and the world; and I believe that Asians will play a huge part in spreading the Gospel throughout the world.

*This entry is part of my revision series. An introspective project revisiting and re-imagining entries I wrote years back.
[1] Paul E. Pierson, “The New Context of Christian Mission: Challenges and Opportunities for the Asian Church.” Asian Church and God’s Mission (2003): 11-18.
[2] Melba Padilla Maggay, “Early Protestant Missionary Efforts in the Philipppines: Some Intercultural Issues.” Asian Church and God’s Mission (2003): 29-30.
[3] Elizabeth Ruth Peeve,“Asian Missionaries and Tentmaking.” Asian Church and God’s Mission (2003): 257-259.
[4] Ibid., 259-260.
[5] Byung-yoon Kim, “Issues in the Short-term Missionary Strategy.” Asian Church ad God’s Mission (2003): 181-183. and, Pierson, “The New Context of Christian Mission,” 16.
[6] Paul Hattaway, The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun. (Manila: OMF Literature Inc., 2002), 33.
[7] Janet & Geoff Benge. Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China. (Manila: OMF Literature Inc., 2000).
[8] Melba Maggay. “Towards Contextualization from Within” Doing Theology in the Philippines (2006): 49-50.
[9] James W. Sire. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog 4th edition. (USA: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 244-250.

Apologetics in the office..

Question:
I hate the concept of God being this all-powerful deity who watches over you intently while you sin. Making notes in his little book re: who goes to heaven or hell. It all feels too cheap. Is he really that bored?
Response:
Like the sun being hot. The sun has absolutely no intention to harm you, but the mere fact that it is hot will destroy you if you were to draw near to it.
It’s the same concept with God being Holy. He has absolutely no intention of causing you harm (or sending anyone to hell), He wants us closer to Him, but the mere fact that He is Holy makes it fatal for us sinners to draw near to Him.
The only difference is, He made a way through Jesus so we “can” draw near to Him despite our sins. Is that not love to you?
And yes. Jesus was the only man in history who had no sin. He was angry with the very same things that make God angry. Of course, anger alone is not sin.
Simply put, God is not fundamentally angry; He is fundamentally righteous. It is a byproduct of his righteousness. That’s an attribute we humans do not and cannot possess. #Piper
(Every other character in the Bible was messed up in their own sense; I’ll give you that).