An Open Letter to all BOGLS in the Brand New Retreat

The most memorable moment for me during the Brand New retreat was the volunteer’s huddle during the first night. I know everyone was shocked and surprise. I was also. I was trying to keep it in and compose myself. But I was overwhelmed with the passion and love for the people God has entrusted to me. I wasn’t able to look directly in the eyes of everyone until I was able to compose myself from crying.

This is just the longing that is in my heart – I long to share Jesus to everyone but I know that shouldn’t stop there. Discipleship needs to happen. I know (and I’m full of joy) that everyone gave their time, effort and love to facilitate the discussion and consider the interest of your group rather than yours. I know everyone gave their love for the people entrusted to them and shared Jesus along the way. I am grateful for all of you.

The reason that I was brought to tears during the huddle was not only because I long for everyone to have a relationship with Jesus but to also see them grow by being discipled. That’s why the work doesn’t end in the retreat. It is only starting. I have seen, in the many years that I have been in a dgroup and have been a dgroup leader, how powerful discipleship is. I pray that we will all be passionate about this as well.

The world will not go easy on us and them, that’s why discipleship is crucial. It helps us move forward in our walk. It helps us refocus and realign ourselves to God. It helps us grow in our relationship with God. It produces growth, change and maturity. This is a command and common strategy that we have always followed in our church. I believe in it and I believe in you as well.

I do not want to make this long anymore. All I desire is for you to be faithful with your group. Faithfully meet them and faithfully communicate with them. Do not feel discourage if they don’t reply. I’ve experienced that. Just remain faithful because I have seen how the Lord has rewarded faithfulness. The Lord will be the one who will do the work, we are just called to be faithful.

Be faithful as well in having regular dgroup meetings. If it’s hard to find a common time and day where everyone is available during weekdays just make Connect your dgroup meeting. But if you can, meet them during the week and meet them at least once a week. We spend most of our time in our work and a day within a week will make a big difference in helping us remain strong in our walk in the Lord.

You may think that doing all of these things will help the people under your care grow. But let me also share with you because of discipleship I know it will also produce fruit in you. If you are faithful to the great commission, this will help push you to study God’s word and be accountable with your every word and action. There were numerous moments in my life that I was always what will happen to my group if I do this and that. That has kept me in check and has helped me grow in my walk with God.

This will be an awesome journey for you. It was been for me. I have always looked back in the time I started leading a group and have never come to a point I regretted my decision. It brought me joy and it brought me closer to Jesus as well. I pray you find that as well. Just let me know if you need anything from me. If you need training or materials for your group, just let me know. I am here to serve you and help you in this journey you are taking. I am excited for you. I am excited to see the Lord work in your life and see the movement happen in your group. Thank you for volunteering to be a breakout group leader. May the Lord richly bless you.

Singleness Is A Blessing

Love, Sex and Dating

It’s important that we understand God’s amazing single design regarding our blessed singleness. We love to crack jokes about love and talk about it. Marriage has sometimes been a pursuit in life, but it is not just a means to an end in this single life.

We cannot get too caught up in Marriage. Yes, it is important but there are also other concerns we need to deal with ourselves. That’s why it’s important for us to establish a good foundation first regarding our singleness.

Being single happens only once whether it’s just a permanent or temporary state. It happens very fast and it happens to be a gift as well. Singleness is a Blessing.

For the majority, they will get married and it’s important to prepare for the journey towards that chapter. But for certain individuals God might have really blessed them to remain single – 1 Corinthians 7:1

7 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

Paul said in verse 1 “which you wrote.” It seems the Corinthian church during that time had some questions to Paul about marriage and singleness. Not to touch a woman does not literally mean touch. He was referring to not having sexual relationship within marriage as he goes on verse 2

2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfil his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

During this time, Paul was writing to the Corinthian church in the City of Corinth. It was the chief city of Greece and was a large commercial city. Immorality was very rampant that it contained at least 12 temples and one of those temples is dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The worshipers of this temple practiced religious prostitution. Immorality was widely known in Corinth that they used the Greek verb “to Corinthianize” meaning “to practice sexual immorality.

That’s why Paul addresses this concern in Chapter 6. Paul was saying so you will not be vulnerable to temptations due to the environment around you, get married There will still be a temptation even if you are married that’s why married people should fulfil their role sexually.

6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

Paul is saying being married is not above staying single. Not an absolute command to marry. Not an absolute command to stay single. Being single is not “sub” or “super” spiritual since both marital statuses are a gift from God. Each man has his own gift as Paul said in verse 7. So don’t frown if you are permanently going to be single. It is a gift. A blessing!

Paul goes on with Chapter 7 and discusses some issues and then he addresses “singles” in verse 25.

25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.

Looking at the word virgin, Paul was referring to the unmarried ones.

When he said, “I have no command,” he is not saying here that his words are of human opinion. All scripture is inspired by God. Every word and sentence are divinely inspired and breathe in by God as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16.

What Paul was saying is while he was writing his letter, there was no divine revelation yet regarding this matter. But as He started to write then God used his mind, vocabulary and experience to produce His own perfect, infallible and inerrant word. Paul’s word is from the Lord and someone trustworthily inspired.

So this was Paul used by God to speak His words clearly why at this single time of your life you should secure an undivided attention to the Lord.

26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

The first reason Paul is advocating remaining single because of the present distress. What could be that the present distress?

Could it be the condition of the church, since there was sexual immorality? That doesn’t make sense because Paul was saying in verse 2 to 5 to get married because of this sin! So what can be the “present distress?”

It was not  specified what the present distress might be but as we look in verse 27 to 28, we will understand more what Paul was saying.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

Life in other translations is “flesh” or it’s our human nature with its frailties (physically or morally) and passions, or simply to say being a human being. On the other hand, “trouble” is pressure.

It could have been that Paul was saying because of the present distress, which even us believers are already having a hard time with – battling temptations of sexual immorality,  our frailties as human beings – it is already hard enough for us to live in this world as a godly individual.

What more the pressure of trying to help someone and being responsible for another person due to marriage?

But despite the “trouble” or dealing with your flesh do not think that the easiest way out is to be released from your spouse.

Despite the possible conflicts and “troubles” due to imperfect people being united as one in marriage, – do not seek to be released. That’s why if you don’t have a spouse. Paul was saying don’t look for one.

But again as he said in verse 28, it doesn’t mean that when you look for a spouse and get married you have sinned.

It could have also been Paul saying I am trying to spare you from trouble in life. Referring to the hardships you will encounter when you are face persecution and married.

Persecution during that time was not verbal, it was physical. It meant your life in danger.

That’s why if you do not want to face the pressure (it will come naturally if you have a family) of thinking about your spouse and children when persecution comes then don’t get married.

Your wife will be in danger along with your children once persecution comes. Even if your spouse and children are from death and you weren’t, they would feel the pain of losing someone.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

Time has been shortened doesn’t mean it has been reduced from 24 hours to 23.98 hours. It means the brevity of life. The shortness of Life which is nothing in comparison to eternity

As though they had none – not saying disregard your marriage but make the most out of your time serving the Lord even in marriage

It is also not saying you are not to have emotions, but not do not lose sight of your eternal perspective. Mourn, weep or wail but do not lose your eternal perspective. Despite persecution or even death that lurks – know yours and your brother’s and sister’s eternal destination. Rejoice, be glad or joyful. Rejoice and be happy here on earth but do not cling on too much of what the world is offering. Buy what you need but do not think you will own it forever since whatever you buy here on here will not be with you in eternity. Do not hold on to material possesses.

Why? It’s in verse 31. For the form of this world is passing away.

32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Lastly, Paul wants us just to be free from concern. There are certain specific responsibilities within marriage. Being a single allows you to secure undistracted devotion to Him. Here is a video from Ben Stuart found in desiring God as he discusses why securing undistracted devotion to the Lord is important during your season of being single.

 

Now I ask you the same question: have you secured that undivided devotion to Him?

Have you maximized your time fully to know the Lord and have a deep intimate relationship with Him? Do you have a regular and intimate, quiet time with the Lord? Do you make time to go to Bible Studies and be in fellowship with other believers? We have a singles fellowship every Saturday – to help singles fellowship with one another and grow in listening to God’s word

Have you applied what you have learned and continue to grow in the area of serving others? Have you taken the call to lead a discipleship group and took on the call of the great commission? Have you experienced the joy of serving in ministry according to the talents and gifts the Lord has given you?

I have always encouraged singles to serve! Because I know now is the time where you have the opportunity to give that undivided attention. No matter what you do, time will move forward. You will get easily tired and even at times cannot stay up late anymore.

Men, you will play a vital role in your family someday. If you are meant to be temporarily single, you need to make the most out of this time while single to prepare yourself for the next stage. Whatever you do men, you are called to lead. If you want to embrace the role God has set for you – you are meant to lead your family. Why not learn how to lead by example right now by serving in ministry and hopefully lead a cluster or group. Or better yet, lead your own discipleship group.

Now is the time, friends. God wants you fully to embrace your singleness and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. Now is the time to be blessed while single and maximize your time without any responsibility from marriage. Devote it to the Lord.

I just want to share this to you, back then while I was in my late teens I wrote my goals before I reach 25. I remember what I wrote:

  • Get married
  • Have a big house
  • Own a business

These things are not bad. But I as walked with the Lord, I realize there are important things to put my focus into and that is to serve him at this time – at this moment! I see my friends getting engage, some very relax enjoying life and others traveling. When I look back at what I have given up, sometimes I wonder – what if. But despite everything else, it was all worth it! There is a cost if you want to follow Jesus. But seeing people getting to know the Lord and being changed by God is worth it. It’s worth it!

If ever, I walk down that aisle when I get married I want to be able to say – “Man, my single life was fully undivided for the Lord – now is another chapter and I embrace it!”

Do you want to be able to say the same?

Leave a comment below and share to us what are other ways you can secure that undivided attention to the Lord. God bless!

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South Connect entitled “The Amazing Single Design”. 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.

Why the Lord’s hand was with Ezra – He Taught the Word

Teach the Word

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in Linglingay Christian Fellowship entitled “Seek. Do. Teach”. This is also the fourth and last part of the series on “Why the Lord’s hand was with Ezra.” You can check the series again – Introduction, seek the word and do the word.

You need to ensure that you do what you teach. Why? Because if you don’t apply what you’re teaching, it is like a man teaching farmers how to plant when the man doesn’t have his own farm to plant. You can’t effectively teach something that you do not have personal experience with. And we know that the best way to teach is usually through real life experiences. Yes, you can teach even if you haven’t experienced it but I don’t think that will be very effective.

For example, I cannot really teach about marriage. How can I when I am not even married? I don’t have a wife so I don’t know what kind of problems a wife and husband face. Will I be credible if I teach lessons on how to make a marriage work? I don’t think so.

Ezra not only sought and applied the Word of God, but he also taught it to others. Scribes are responsible to teach the word of the Lord because that was the only way the people could learn God’s truth. But that doesn’t mean that you are only to teach because it is your responsibility to teach.

Do you not know that everyone is called to teach? Not everyone is called to just focus on being a teacher but everyone should teach. Let’s look at Jesus’ great commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Did you see the keyword there? In verse 20 it says “teaching them”. We are tasked to teach every command. It doesn’t say in the verse that this responsibility only falls on teachers or preachers. Every disciple of Jesus Christ is to teach his commandments.

Teaching is evidence that the disciple is firmly rooted on the word of the Lord thus he is compelled to teach and proclaim the word of the Lord. When you are in love you don’t stay silent. You are moved and compelled to proclaim your love to the world. That’s why teaching is a sign that you have already grown in your walk with the Lord. You have sought and obeyed his word and now, you are moved to teach it. Because it just overflows from your heart that you just need to let it out. You just need to teach.

We need to be disciples who will make disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. And we can only achieve this if we take the time to teach his word and direct others to the word of the Lord. It takes courage and effort but it is all worth it.

Friends, let me just share to everyone the joy of teaching. When I teach, I am sometimes the one learning. When I teach, I reinforce deep within myself what I have just taught. I remember, I was preaching one time in our church and I said a phrase that I took home with me. When I said “it is not about us but about him”, I began to think if what I said was true in my life. As I thought about it more, I realized that I needed to apply this truth more in my life. I have discipled a group of young men for more than 4 years. We have grown together and I have taught them different lessons from the word of God. It is always a joy to see these men grow. It is a wonderful feeling to be used by God in this way. Because when you need to teach you are forced to study his word. And as you study, you realize the things that you need to apply. As you finish studying and applying what you have learned – you can now teach – Proclaim His words with passion and zeal. Teach the Word of the Lord. Teach and be blessed through it.

The Lord said in Matt 13:52 — “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old”.

Ezra was a man who studied the Word and applied it. He is a disciple who obeyed and practiced the Word, and a householder who taught the Word to others. If we want God’s hand to be on our life, we are to follow his example.

Seek. Do. Teach. There is no better way to live life than to experience how it is to have the hand of the Lord working in your life daily. Fear the Lord. Fear losing his hand in your life. Fear not being able to experience him and losing what life is all about. Life is really just being with Him, getting to know Him and experiencing Him.

I hope you have learned something on Why the Lord’s hand was with Ezra. I would love to hear your thoughts about this series by leaving a comment below.

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