Posted in Lessons Learned from Sickness, Living in Faith

Faith Challenge Accepted

Lessons Learned from My Sickness – Part 18: Faith Challenge Accepted

walk your talk

“Pastor, I challenge you. Live what you preach!”

These strong words were passionately spoken by my doctor, right after he revealed to me my sickness.

To make his statement more emphatic, he looked at me straight in the eyes with fingers pointing firmly to me.

This strongly-worded admonition was used by God to make me courageous in facing my trials and to make me fully dependent on Him.

Without this frank and brave reminder from my doctor, I could have adopted a weak and defeatist attitude in facing my situation.

You see, when the doctor told me what I have to go through to confront my sickness, what possible treatments I can explore, what tests I should undergo, what opportunities are open for me if I am just courageous enough to face them, I replied rather unconvincingly, “What if I just wait for what will happen to me Doc”?

That earned my doctor’s ire. For him, to adopt a passive or negative attitude in the light of what I’m facing is an expression of faithlessness and it’s not the kind of response he expected from a pastor like me.

That’s why he stood up, with his fingers firmly pointed to me and said, “Pastor, I challenge you. Live what you preach”.

His words hit me very strongly. It was like God was using him to directly speak to me.

I realized indeed, he’s right.

I used to preach about courage in the face of perplexities, strong faith in the midst of adversities, and being open to God’s revelation in the midst of confusion and doubt.

Why then should I adopt a lethargic and pathetic attitude?

I was greatly humbled and brought to reality by that experience.

That’s why I assured my doctor, “Yes, Doc. With God by my side, I accept the challenge”.

I thanked the Lord that he has spoken his words of encouragement through my doctor.

Posted on FB: 10 March 2015 – 7:34 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces is the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He and wife, Martha have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he has lung cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny writes his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness”.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles. Please pray for Pastor Ronny’s healing.

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Posted in Healing Sickness, Lessons Learned from Sickness, Loving Community

The Blessing of a Loving Community

Lessons Learned from My Sickness – Part 5: The Blessing of a Loving Community

Christian community
Look for true friends, loyal brothers and sisters in the faith who will not abandon you in your most trying times.

St. Paul was able to survive the most critical moments of his life and ministry by the empowering communities he established and nurtured in many places he served.

He was able to meet and know many people who became true friends, caring brethren, and loyal fellow servants of Christ.

And so when he was in prison, when he was sick, when his life was threatened, he was able to come out strong through the supportive presence and generosity of these friends, church people, and colleagues in the ministry.

I was greatly blessed by God to have experienced first hand what Paul had also gone through.

People I’ve known from past to present, from near and far, from familiar to intimate, made their loving presence known – when I was at my lowest moment!

They came to visit, to pray, to cry, to hug, to comfort, to inspire, to give their resources, to listen, to share their time, and to make me strong in their embrace.

They came to assure me – that I am not alone.

Dearly beloved, let me urge you to belong to such a loving and nurturing community.

Look for true friends, loyal brothers and sisters in the faith who will not abandon you in your most trying times.

I’m blessed by God because he has placed me in the warm embrace of this loving community of faith.

Posted on FB: 3 March 2015 – 2:53 PM

Jaro Evangelical Church

About the Author

Rev. Ronny Luces was the Minister for Administration and Community Service of Jaro Evangelical Church (JEC), Iloilo City, Philipines. He, his wife, Martha and daughter, Ronamae have been with JEC’s ministry since 1994.

Pastor Ronny graduated from Central Philippine University College of Theology in 1985 and was pastor of several Baptist churches.

In January 2015, after tests and two long hospital confinements, Pastor Ronny got the word he had lung cancer. He underwent chemotherapy.

Praying for healing and going through all the medical processes, Pastor Ronny started writing his reflections “Lessons Learned from My Sickness.”

On 9 July 2015, Pastor Ronny rested his earthly life.

May Pastor Ronny’s series of reflections and meditations strengthen your hope and faith as you go through your own life’s battles.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bar Fabelloa via Flickr Creative Commons License

Posted in Hope

What Makes Hope Less

hope in the Lord

Pastor John’s message yesterday (29 June 2014) on “Building Blocks – Hope” made me reflect on my hope experiences.

Apart from asking myself how I may be able to share or give hope to others, I also contemplated on the quality of hope I am able to give.

His challenge:

Who is able to give true hope in a world with so many unfulfilled promises? God is building something in us and the capacity to both life and communicate hope is one of the ‘building blocks.’

My hope experiences have taught me that it’s only when I put my total and absolute trust on what God can do that I am able to hope completely in God.

I have learned that to experience real hope, I need to “let go 100% and let God 100%”.

What makes hope less is the human element portion that we put in.

I contemplated that if I put any iota of hope on my personal capabilities, it becomes my germ of a doubt on God’s power.

This doubt, like any germ, if always present in situations that demand my total or complete hope in God, would multiply and totally destroy whatever true hope that’s left in me.

Yes, that small amount of doubt can bring about hopelessness.

Also, if my hope is based on my capabilities and resources, then my hopeless situations were settled more on my personal effort rather than on God’s Almighty power.

Looking back at the many hopeless instances I went through, I realised that what made me feel hopeless and desperate was when I focused more on what I can do, cracking my brain trying to sort out possible solutions.

However, when I let go and put my hands up in full surrender, accepting my incapability and focusing intently on what God can do, anticipating the solutions He already has for me, my hope becomes strong.

Then peace and quiet govern my body and spirit because my hope is God and Him alone.

Friends, may this short reflection inspire you to evaluate your hope experiences.

May our hope grow more and more as we build it on nothing less but Jesus Christ.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ross Waugh

Posted in Inspirational

Sunrise, A New Day, Another Time for Worship and Service

Sunrise at Caroline Bay by Jewel (1280x719)

I rise in the morning and thought about how God has blessed my life.
I thought of the birds who sang joyous songs as the sun ascends from the east,
I thought of the flowers all blooming with colors of pastel,
God be praised He gave me a beautiful world.

A new day promises another time for worship,
We give Him the praise as He showers His wonderful grace;
He gives us faith, hope and love,
That we may share with friends and family;
And most of all He gives life for you and me.

For from Him and through Him, all things were created,
Give Him the glory and praise for this wonderful world.

– from the song “A New Day” by Grace C. Dumlao

[quote cite=”Colossians 1:16″ url=”http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Col.1.16&version=NIV”%5DFor in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.[/quote]

PHOTO CREDIT: Sunrise at Caroline Bay by Jewel Kwe Castillon

Posted in Living in Timaru, multicultural response ministry, pastoral ministry nz, South Canterbury living

How God Used A Blog Post to Inspire Support for a Multicultural Ministry in South Canterbury

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Wilson Street Multicultural Response
The Multicultural Response Website

Last week The Timaru Herald published “Pastor Spreads Word in His New Business” to highlight one result of the Tell-a-Friend Promote South Canterbury program.

May I share that before any idea of creating Online Writing Niche Ltd. was ever discussed, there’s a far greater undertaking that has unfolded .

Far greater undertaking because one blog post, “Reasons for Beautiful Living in South Canterbury” inspired support for the Multicultural Response Ministry, which I and my wife take part.

Wilson Street Baptist Church, through Pastor John McMullan, Errol James, the Church Elders, and the members, supported the holding of the “Evening of Praise and Worship“, the first multicultural worship ever held on 20 April 2013.

We held the second multicultural worship on 6 July 2012. We have set our sights to holding the third event in November 2013.

The church has considered creating the multicultural response team that will stir up participation in pursuing the ministry vision.

The Lord God touched the hearts of a couple in Timaru after reading the article published in The Timaru Herald titled, “Pastor’s Blog Becomes Ad for South Canterbury. Learning about the ministry vision, the couple committed to giving financial support.

Then we created the Multicultural Response website. When Ross Waugh requested me to work on his website projects, I’m not so adept with wordpress themes, domain hosting and file management.

Thus, the Multicultural Response site became my learning laboratory while putting up online presence for the ministry.

Isn’t it wonderful to see God’s hand working through His people and many avenues? He is always in the lookout for hearts committed and passionate to serve Him.

As the song “Pass It On” says “It only takes a spark to keep the fire going”, I believe that God has more things in store now that the multicultural response ministry is ablaze.

Please don’t miss listening to this lovely rendition of ‘Pass It On’ by Evie Tornquist Karlsson. 🙂

Posted in Faith, Living in New Zealand Now, South Canterbury living

The Glory of God in Jesus Christ Shines Bright in Darkness Always and Forever

 

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1-3

Darkness may envelope but it actually provides perfect background to see where light is, like this night shot of Church Street, Timaru.
Darkness may envelope but it actually provides perfect background to see where light is, like this night shot of Church Street, Timaru..

 

I heard someone said there’s subtle persecution among Christians today in New Zealand.

Marriage is threatened by the possible passage of the gay marriage bill.

Teenage binge drinking has become a problem and drunken driving arrests have become common.

Following UK and US trend, the cloud of secularism has been engulfing slowly New Zealand society. Some leaders have professed God to be myth, others even stating openly their unbelief.

St Mary's (Anglican) Parish Church looks magnificent at night.
St Mary’s (Anglican) Parish Church looks magnificent at night.

Is there indeed ebbing of Kiwi faith?

In response to ‘darkness’ that appears to be clouding New Zealand, Pastor John McMullan shared Isaiah 60:1-3. He reflected that darkness might seemed immense but actually it is creating a vacuum in man’s heart, which would lead him or her to search and find the Light of God.

Indeed, atheist may bully believers and sow hatred and mockery against the Great Living God but they will never triumph because the light of God in Jesus Christ will never be snuffed out.

Time and again, many powerful leaders tried to cut God but they all have failed.

In fact, the Gospel of Christ has always been so alive and active since the Holy Spirit came to the apostles on that memorable Pentecost day.

As God created man to see and feel, it won’t be a wonder when “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” as darkness tries to envelope the earth.

Indeed, “darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” but we see the glory of God in Jesus Christ rising and shining always and forever.

Please strengthen other’s faith by sharing this post through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Jade Mark Jarbadan

Posted in Faith, Inspirational

Moving Forward in Faith

Moving forward in faith

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)

I took this photo of two sparrows as I watched through our window in August 2012. It was winter in Auckland and food might be scarce for these creatures but I recalled how God cares for them.

I chose this photo to complement the devotional I read from Messianic Bible Devotionals, which I’m sharing below.

Just as the Exodus was the starting point of Israel’s salvation, so is our rescue from the kingdom of darkness just the beginning of our spiritual journey.

But the enemy of our souls does not let go easily; he usually tries to draw us back into bondage.

Sometimes when our backs are up against the wall, as was the case with Israel standing at the Red Sea, we wonder: “What should I do? What should I do?”

Instead of panicking and blaming others, we can move on in faith, believing that He will save us. After that, we need to enter into His rest and wait on the Lord for further instructions.

If we remember that the Lord fights our battles for us, then we can quiet our inner turmoil and trust in Him, hold our peace, and refuse to speak unbelief when pushed to our limits.

Let us keep on moving forward in faith, knowing and believing that our God Almighty is on our side to win all of life’s challenges.

PRAYER

Lord God, forgive us for our unbelief that You are our Great Defender. Thank you for always being there to protect us and help us win the battles of life. Amen.