3 Lessons from the Start of Nehemiah’s Ministry

Nehemiah is known to be one of the greatest leaders in the Bible because he was used by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  Personally, this chapter in the bible holds a dear place in my heart ever since B1G Connect conducted a series on it and I was asked to preach Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah 10 and Nehemiah 13.

Let’s start with a brief background. The King of Babylon took all of Judah into captivity (II Kings 24-25). The Babylonians got to Jerusalem, destroyed everything – the temple, the walls of the city, the fortress areas and anything of value. Everything was in chaos. The city was reduced to rubble while they marched back to Babylon with their captives and seized treasures. Just imagine how terrifying of an experience captivity can be. When people are captured, they are forcibly taken away from their homes and their land and they are then made into slaves. They are then treated with disdain and abuse, which is what exactly happened to the Jews. It was only when Persia conquered Babylon that the Jews were allowed to return to the Promised Land. So you can visualize what it looked like in Nehemiah 1:3.

3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

Nehemiah wanted to know the condition of his city so he asked his brother about it. When he heard what his city has become, he sat down and wept. For months he mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. We can see this in Nehemiah 1:4.

 

(1) The burden deep within our hearts can be an indication of what God wants us to do.

No one asked Nehemiah to rebuild the wall, but because he felt the immense burden, he translated it into action. If you want to know where God is calling you to serve or what he wants you to do, it’s usually related to your burden. That burden will carry you and move you through what you need to do. And when you start to feel that burden, the best thing to do is to take the time to pray about it. This was the first thing that Nehemiah did – he prayed.

4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

 

(2) Spend time in prayer to align yourself with the Lord and to seek his guidance and favor.

It took Nehemiah 4 months to pray for his burden. Why do we need to pray? Because we need to align ourselves with want God wants us to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by burdens or desires inside so it’s important that we spend time in prayer. The heart is deceitful above everything else and through prayer, we are covering our desire or burden with protection, that if this is really what God wants us to do, He will go ahead with us. It’s ok to spend a couple of weeks in prayer but it’s also a good idea to put a time table to it.

 

(3) Step out of Faith

And after the 4 months that Nehemiah spent it prayer, he stepped out of Faith. We can see that in Chapter 2.

I was cupbearer to the king.

2 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

He was a cupbearer. He was aware of how important his position was and that he had access to the king every day. The king was vital in ensuring that the wall will be rebuilt and Nehemiah clearly understood that he needed to get the approval of the king before he made any moves. So in prayer, he lifted this up to the Lord as well. He took his step of faith and showed sadness in front of the king even though being sad in the king’s presence is considered to be a sign of disrespect. The king could have asked Nehemiah to be thrown into prison or worse, beheaded. But the hand of the Lord was upon him and the king just asked him why he was sad.

And the rest as they say is history. If we look at Nehemiah’s life, we’ll see how God was with him all along. It started with a burden which he lifted up in prayer to the Lord. When the right timing came, he stepped out of faith and from then on, the Lord was able to use him mightily. Sometimes, we just really need to take Nehemiah’s lead and step out of faith. We can’t ignore the fact that we will have to face uncertainty, but if we know who our God is and if we make sure that we have it covered it with prayer, we can rely on the truth that the Lord will always be faithful to us. He can use us mightily for this work.

There is no better privilege in life than to part take in the work of God. We are only his instruments. We are vessels of his love and grace. As we lay down our lives for him, may we grow in our understanding of who God is and live a life of worship.

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my Nehemiah 1 Sermon in B1G South for the retreat volunteers call. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

5 Things to Consider When Planning for a Retreat

I don’t know why, but I’ve always dreamed of leading a retreat. I just haven’t volunteered before because I know it would require a lot of work. But this time, I know that this is really what God wants me to do so I took on the role of being the retreat coordinator for the B1G South Ministry this year. We’ve started retreat planning a couple of weeks ago for our November retreat and I just want to share some important points that you need to consider when planning a retreat.

I started my career in the project management industry. Whenever there is a project, a lot of the work is invested on planning. You need to plan a lot of things: the scope, time, and cost. Having these factors sorted out will make implementation seamless and less prone to errors. The output of your planning sessions will help brief your team so everyone’s aware of the tasks they specifically need to do. When the project team knows what is expected from them, you’ll be able to easily delegate tasks and monitor the progress. Of course, establishing the scope of your retreat is also very important and will require you to focus on the following factors during your planning sessions.

 

(1) Objectives

What is the goal of the retreat? What do you want to achieve? Laying down your objectives will help steer the direction of the retreat. This will help you focus just on the important things you need to consider. When you have a goal in mind, everything that you will be doing should help attain it. Your objectives will also help you in making sound decisions. There will be times when you’ll need to make some tough choices and your objectives should be a major factor in your decision making.

 

(2) Date

Since you’ll want to have a lot of people participate in your retreat, choosing the right date is important. There’s no guarantee that a specific date will be free for everyone so you should plot a date that will encourage the majority of your target participants to attend. It’s also vital that you consider Holidays and peak season since this can affect the price of your venue. What is the ideal number of days for a retreat you ask? This ultimately depends on your objectives. Normally for us, we would always have it for 3 days and 2 nights.  Our retreats are specifically targeted towards single professionals so we usually plot our retreats for the weekend, allowing them to only take a leave from work for one day.

 

(3) Venue

Try creating a checklist of all the things you want to consider for the venue. From your checklist take note of your absolutes and good to haves. Definitely, your absolutes should be good rooms that will be comfortable for your participants. But what is the scope of a good room? Does that mean a 5-star rated room? Again, you need to align your objectives towards your target market. If you are targeting single professionals, they would most probably want a room that is at best the level of apartelles. If this is for the youth, they would most probably not think much about the type of room they will be staying in, but they would be more concerned about the facilities available at the venue. Keep in mind the amenities and costs for the venue. Amenities should help foster your objectives and also include enough recreational activities that your participants will be interested in. Before you decide on a venue, do an ocular inspection. It will allow you to get a feel of your venue and have a better understanding of what you and your team will be working with.

 

(4) Cost

If you already have past experiences in planning the financial side of a retreat, you can peg a cost that will be reasonable for your participants. Whatever the pegged cost, just remember that your budget shouldn’t revolve solely on it. This means that when you create your budget, don’t try adjusting it too much just so it would meet your pegged cost. Create a feasible budget. Include all the actual or estimated costs and then compute how much to charge each participant. From there compare it to your pegged cost. Is it above or below your pegged cost? If it is below, then you can use your new computation rather than your pegged cost. If it is above your pegged amount, then you might want to do away with some items to lower your budget. What are those items? Again, realign yourself with your objectives. The best outcome is just to breakeven but if have a retreat fund from your ministry, then maybe you can use it as leverage to lower down the cost. At the end of the day, the cost for a soul getting to know Jesus is priceless!

 

(5) Number of Participants

Create a target of how many participants you can accommodate on this retreat. But be sure that your target number can easily be accommodated by the venue. Aim for the target and let it be your vision. Put that target deep within your heart. Allow it to sink it. Allow it to motivate you and push you to reach it because you just want to share the love of Jesus to people. When you have that target, cascade it to your team and create marketing campaigns to achieve it.

In reality, there is no clear formula on how to plan a perfect retreat. Keep in mind that imperfect people are planning it. That imperfect people are working on it. The best way to ensure that your retreat will be successful is to just rely on God. With every decision, pray about it and ask God to guide, lead and give you favor throughout. In the end, if your retreat is for Him then the success should only be pointed towards Him and not you.

Note from the Author: if you want to know how the Retreat went, you may read my entries about it. Here are my experiences during the first official B1G South Retreat: Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

 

Retrospect of a Grace Showered Individual – The B1G South Singles Ministry

Has it been one year already? Time just really passes by when you love what you are doing. It has been a year since we re-launched the singles ministry in Alabang and I want to take a look back at how it all started for me.

B1G7 teaser posterB1G7 was the start, this was my first singles retreat after how many JZONE retreats I have attended. The retreat really brought into my attention the movement that is happening within young adults. I was burdened when we got back to CCF Alabang. I kept on thinking why there was so much activity in the singles ministry of the North while back in my “home” I didn’t see any. With the love for God overflowing within me, I was determined to help in any way I can to raise the singles ministry in Alabang again.

I voiced out my desire to serve to the core of the ministry. After a couple of weeks, I was invited to a meeting. I remember it clearly. I was there and I did not know anyone that well yet. One thing was clear though, the burning desire to serve in this ministry was there and I really did not care how. For me, I was willing to serve whether it was just to fix the chairs, lead breakouts, and play bass in the music ministry.

What I really did not expect was to be challenged to head the music ministry. To be honest though, I didn’t take the time to really pray and think about it. I was just so burdened to help and serve that whatever will be given to me – I will handle it. I thought leading the praise and worship team will be easy but I was wrong. In my entry “Retrospect of a Grace Showered Individual – B1G South Worship Ministry Team” I shared my ups and downs handling the team.

There were trials and problems along the way but He has always remained faithful and has guided me and the ministry.

From that initial meeting, it was the start of a lot of ministry opportunities. The core was still new with each other but we were always together, at least once a week, to have fellowship, talk about the ministry and even plan for the events we had in mind. We re-launched the singles ministry last March 3, 2012 and launched the name “B1G South.”B1G South GA 2012 Group Pic It was encouraging to see 150+ people excited to hear what will happen in the ministry. From there, people volunteered with the different ministries B1G South has. After a couple of weeks, we had a retreat entitled “Intimacy.” Around 280 people registered in the retreat even though it was during the holy week where people would usually have their vacation and spend time with their families. The retreat brought a lot of people and discipleship groups were established. And after the retreat, regular B1G South services was now scheduled every Saturday. A lot of other major bridging activities were implemented. From a wedding expose, to B1G nights, B1G Unplugged and other events, all these contributed to help the ministry grow and reach out to more people.

The B1G8 retreat was the last major event that happened last year and I even wrote an entry regarding my B1G8 experience. After the retreat we were able to connect first-time participants to a Dgroup and I still see them ,as of this writing, attending B1G South services every Saturday.

B1G South 2011 vs 2012There were so many things that happened in the B1G South Ministry that left us all amazed at how God was moving. The greatest thing for me was to actually be part of the movement and just see how God has been changing people. I got to meet a lot of new friends which had their own stories to tell of how God has changed them. I see people who were once shy suddenly set up and serve in the ministry. Our core which was just initially eight people has now doubled and have their own teams they are managing and serving with. New Dgroup leaders were also trained and the ministry is slowly growing. It’s really not about the numbers and events. It is about people getting to know who God is through the ministry. It is about lives being changed and transformed by the power and love of God.

Again, I am expecting great things that the Lord will be doing in the ministry. In just a couple of days we would be having a ministry update to the whole single community and I am praying that people would see their place in the ministry. That people will be challenged to serve, take part of the ministry and experience God.

B1G South Ministry Update 2013

  • Check my Top Posts & Pages

    What is Spiritual Perseverance?
    One lesson we can learn from Jesus washing the disciples’ feet