To the Ends of the Earth

A short video about the history and ministries of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

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October 24, 2013 · 9:42 am

Potential For Joy

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 NLT

Many daily gifts easily slip our attention because they’re so common, plain, ordinary or simple that we forget to be joyful in and thank God for them. No wonder we struggle with envy, discontentment and lack of peace in our hearts!

For me, it’s easy  to coddle my restlessness by focusing on my personal desires, dreams and ambitions.  It was ok at first because I saw myself as a passionate person who wants to make a difference where God called me.  Nothing wrong with that.  But there’s something definitely wrong with losing my peace, patience and purpose when things don’t go as expected.  It could indicate that my big S (self) is starting to stomp its feet, wanting its own way.

Had a moment of truth one night with my hubby.  I shared my frustration of not going on cross-cultural missions (“Why am I still in the Philippines?” I whined). Reuben asked why I didn’t go for it when I was still single because I had all the freedom and opportunity to do that.

There was silence.

Then I admitted, “God didn’t call me.” (I was also about to say, He called me to marry you, Mahal.)

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God wanted us to serve as a couple, not as individuals.  Happy deal!

I valued listening to the Lord and obeying Him.  But I didn’t realize until then that this was one area where I was pushing my dream on Him.  It took some time for me to swallow this hard fact.

One day, I finally said to myself, “Joan, why are you always restless?  It’s ok to dream big, but do you have to miss out on the potential for joy in what a day brings and in what God allows right now?”

I made a resolve to be intentional in rediscovering every potential for joy in my life.  Don’t want to miss out on thanking God for them as they come, by His gracious hand!

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Filed under Joy, letting go, obedience to Christ, Serving God, surrender

Words That Bite

Have you ever been badly “bitten” by careless, thoughtless or hurtful words? Are the bite marks deep and soul-ripping?

I had a fresh experience with that today when I received a comment about a personal dilemma that I was powerless to change.

Even after talking the issue over with the person concerned and releasing forgiveness, the wound from the biting words still stung.

Tonight I asked God to help me become spiritually fertile for His Word so that my life would be good ground for heavenly produce. In my recent hurt, how can this be applied?

I can choose to be honest with the person about my hurt and be ready to release forgiveness. I can believe what God’s Word says about who I am in Christ, rather than believing what people or circumstances say about me. I can trust God for healing. I can also learn from the situation by being careful and thoughtful with my own words (kindness), asking for forgiveness when I ‘bite’ (humility) and putting myself in other people’s shoes (empathy).

Biting words hurt, but they don’t have to have the final say over our lives. God can use the marks to further strengthen our faith and identity in Christ.

Will you let Him?

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Filed under Dealing with imperfections, godly relationships, Relationship, Uncategorized

An Open Letter [Maybe] To Every Filipino Who Writes

Reblogging this as a way of thanking the writer for being faithful to her call. I know many were blessed. As she exhorts, let’s read, think, write!

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MPD: Stressed or Blessed? (Part 3 of 3)

Third, instead of yielding to the fleshly & worldly ways of surviving life, enter into the privilege of the blessed MPD life through generosity!

Acts 20:35 says:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This passage is part of Paul’s farewell speech to the elders of Ephesus (a great read, by the way, because it shows the heart of the apostle to finish his God-given mandate).  From this verse, as well as many related Scripture, we discover that generosity is a major key to experiencing the abundant life that Christ promised.  If we avoid His commands to give and rationalize our uncertainties and fears of the future by keeping our time, resources and energies mostly to ourselves, we miss out on God’s supernatural intervention & outpouring of heavenly blessing in our lives.

I learned an important lesson from a fund development training in Jakarta last year.  Our instructors exhorted us to encourage generosity by talking about it.  Normally, we don’t want to share our acts of kindness because the Bible says to do our merciful/good deeds in secret (Matthew 6:4).  But the real issue here in the passage is the attitude of the heart.  When we seek personal glory & power through our giving, we lose our reward in heaven.  But those who give out of pure hearts of wanting to bless the Lord and His people, whether privately or publicly, will get their heavenly reward (e.g.  Zacchaeus, the tax collector; the poor widow who gave her last mite; Jesus’ & the early disciples’ many acts of radical generosity).

Going back to Paul’s statement in Acts 20, he asserted that he worked hard so that he could help those in need or are weak.  Isn’t this a great motivation for our MPD?  May our hard work and the resulting fruit become a blessing to those, whom God impresses to us, are in need. Just last month, a corporate ministry partner gave a significant amount for our building upgrade.  Every time we meet with him and his wife, both never fail to give God glory for giving them the ability (i.e. wealth) to be generous to our organization.

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(Image from: playeatgrow.com)

One of my opportunities for giving comes before our personal MPD time.  I have made it a ‘habit’, since my single days and up to now as a wife, to sow generously, in order for me not to be preoccupied with my own needs and to break the tendency to be selfish with my time, resources and energy.

Many years ago as a single, God impressed upon me to be involved in our church building project by investing a faith amount.  When I looked at the people in our church and their capacity to give, I felt that my gift was small, maybe even insignificant.  The story of the widow with her last mite served as a strong reminder that the heart mattered more than the amount.  Under the Spirit’s prompting, I released the gift as an act of worship.  This weekend, I will be seeing the fruit of the generous involvement of God’s people as the new facility of our church opens its doors for its first worship service!

The Lord is faithful to His promises of overflowing blessings as a result of these faith seeds that we’ve planted.  Generous giving is pleasing to God and is a way for us to express worship.  As we give, we can pray: “Lord, I am your steward.  You are the owner.  Thank you for commanding us to participate in this privilege of giving, and for Your promise that I’ll be living my life with the backing of Your favor and Your limitless Kingdom resources.”

***

The joy of having ministry partners who are faithfully praying and giving, and the testimony about God’s character & faithfulness that we present to the watching world (both unsaved & saved) are two of the many blessings that our missionaries experience through MPD.  It’s definitely not an easy process to go through, but the rewards of obedience are worth it.

May our time in MPD bless the heart of our Lord as we honor Him by enthusiastically inviting His people to be involved in His Great Commission!

 

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Filed under Generosity, obedience to Christ, Support Raising

MPD: Stressed or Blessed? (Part 2 of 3)

Second, instead of stressing over limitations or roadblocks we encounter along the way, rest in the knowledge that the earth is the Lord’s…and His work in & through us is His domain, too!

Psalm 24:1 asserts, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”

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(image from yehudafm.wordpress.com)

As with every aspect of our Christian lives, MPD is entirely God-centered and God-fueled.  Knowing that He owns everything, including our lives and circumstances, gives us peace in the midst of hardships.  A prospective contact may say NO, or it seems we can’t get people to answer our call, but our hearts can rest in the fact that the Lord sees our hard work and, in His faithfulness, will honor our efforts.

We can also thank God for hardships because they are His proven method of fashioning people after His own heart.  Remember King David?  In his youth, the kingdom of Israel was promised to him.  But it was only after years of fugitive-like living, after years of struggles and hardships, that the throne was finally given to him.  It was during those hard years that God molded his character and made him a true warrior- and shepherd-king for the people of Israel.

I’ve had many prayer-rants before: “Lord, why do I have to go through difficulties in my MPD?”  “I didn’t get pay for 2 months; do my partners really care?” “Oh God, it’s so hot & oppressive outside (think Manila summer).  Do I have to visit my partners?”

In those instances, God never failed to teach lessons.  One of them is that He wants to solidify my sense of calling.  He also wants to instill perseverance and patience — virtues that our yearly MPD can develop in us. Another lesson is allowing MPD to sharpen our vision.  MPD forces us to test our hearts, to see if the vision God gave us is aligned with what He has called CCC to do, and that is to help fulfill the Great Commission through spiritual movement building.

God owns everything.  He owns our ministry partners, he owns the process we go through, and he owns our schedules.  He deserves our full attention and obedience during MPD and in all matters in life.

Daily, ask the question:  What is God teaching me?  

(Last part for tomorrow:  Enter into the privilege of the blessed MPD life through generosity!)

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Filed under obedience to Christ, Serving God, spiritual movement building, Support Raising, surrender, Uncategorized

MPD: Stressed or Blessed? (Part 1 of 3)

Every summer, all of us missionaries of Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ raise personal and ministry support, and we call this “Ministry Partner Development” (or MPD).  During MPD time, we face a slew of challenges that never fail to stretch our faith, and all these tests are meant to expand our view of who God is as the One who called us full-time to His Kingdom-work.

Having been in this ministry for 15 years (including my two years as a volunteer), I can truthfully say that I’m VERY familiar with the struggles that come with MPD.  Common problems and temptations we face, whether in circumstance or attitude, are:

  • not having a large enough Christian community or network (especially true if we just joined the ministry);
  • ministry partners “moving on”– meaning they have transferred residence, decided to focus their giving on other persons or projects, or have gone to be with the Lord;
  • feeling anxious, pressured by deadlines, or unsure about the Lord’s calling; and,
  • being ‘territorial’ over potential contacts or even present ministry partners, thus not wanting to give contacts or allowing other missionaries to contact ministry partners.

Our personal preparation, therefore, for each MPD season is very crucial.  To set our hearts right, it’s important to develop the proper mindset for MPD.  Of the many critical steps to take, let me share three.

First, instead of giving in to anxiety, pressure or stress, choose to pray, be thankful & guarded by His peace.

In our office, one afternoon, I was feeling the burden of helping raise funds for PCCC’s corporate need.  The pressure was intense, and I bet it showed in my face.  A senior staff lady asked how I was and I openly shared my heart condition.  She gently counseled that I should take time to rest and be assured that the Lord will provide for His own, according to His perfect will, way and timetable.  I took her advise to heart, repented from worrying and dwelt in the peace and comfort of God’s assurance through her words.

As God’s servants, we must be constantly guarding ourselves from anxiety.  We can cloak anxiety with other words, like feeling panicky or paranoid, and these can lead us to overwork.  We can even go to the opposite end of the spectrum of letting worry paralyze us, causing us to be lazy or to delay.  My anxiety commonly displays itself in making demands and nagging my husband.

To experience God’s peace and intervention, Philippians 4 exhorts us:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6-7 NLT.

thankful heart

(from http://www.geocaching.com)

One of my very practical habits to release myself from the torturous grip of anxiety is to keep a daily journal of thanks.  I thank the Lord specifically for the very real promises in His Word that have sustained me through 15 years of serving Him full-time.  I also thank Him for future answers to prayer that are already a “yes” and an “amen”, in accordance to His will.  Today, I intentionally asked myself, “Am I truly thanking God for this certain challenge?”  I don’t want to just go through the motions;  I want to be truly and joyfully grateful!

***

What are practical ways that help you release your anxieties to the Lord?

(To be continued:  Part 2– Rest in the knowledge that the earth is the Lord’s,… and our work, too!)

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Filed under obedience to Christ, prayer, spiritual movement building, Support Raising, Uncategorized