Showing posts from January, 2015

A Broken Spirit

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Six of our Prayer and Fasting week.

After the prophet Nathan confronted him for adultery and murder, King David confessed his sin before God. He wrote Psalm 51 about his humbling experience. In verse 17, we read: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (ESV) Simply put, a humble heart is an offering that God cannot refuse! How does a broken spirit look like?
Having a broken spirit isn’t about being dejected and walking around complaining about how miserable you are; it’s about getting yourself out of God’s way so that He can use you in the ways He planned. When you confess your sin and accept His forgiveness, you will be struck by His grace, and a song of joy and praise will rise up within you. [1]To have a broken spirit means to humble ourselves before God.

We will not excuse the sins. We will not blame others for ou…

Going Through The Motions

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Five of our Prayer and Fasting week.

Most of us got exposed to a ritualistic religion. So, we tend to look at rituals with suspicion. But, we should not miss out on rituals. We have our own evangelical rituals, that is, the water baptism and the breaking of the bread. However, we need to avoid “Ritual without reality.” (That is the fifth mark of toxic spirituality.)  Ritual without reality means we focus on the outward form and merely go through the motions. … The point to remember is that God calls us to walk not merely in the rituals but in the reality. Otherwise the rituals, no matter how beautiful, becomes empty after a while. [1]For example, when we attend our Sunday worship services out of habit or just to check an item in our “Christian” to-do list, it becomes a ritual without reality. We are missing out on the significance of our gathering together as the church. “And le…

There But Not There

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Four of our Prayer and Fasting week.

Have someone told you, “You are physically present but mentally absent”? Our mobile phones and tablets made us miss on a lot of conversations over meals. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter were supposed to connect us. Yet, we get so disconnected from each other. We are there but not there.
This leads us to the third sign of toxic spirituality: “Work without worship.”

When we look for what we can get from the church and not what we can give, when we want to be served there and not to serve, when we go to our gatherings to be entertained and not to be edified and equipped, and when we ask to be blessed only and not to be a blessing also, we work without worship.  Most people think of the church as a drama, with the minister as the chief actor, God as the prompter, and the laity as the critic. What is actually the case is that the congre…

Tiring Or Fulfilling?

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Three of our Prayer and Fasting week.

Serving God should be a delight. But, sadly, there are times it felt like a duty. “Service without joy” is the first mark of toxic spirituality. [T]here are many who serve without joy. They did not start this way. They may well have started serving with joy but subsequently, they got hurt and resentful. They began to feel taken for granted, neglected and unappreciated;… they felt used and abused. Discouraged and disillusioned, they left the church—only to discover that the new church was no better. They had brought their dark emotional baggage along with them. And the vicious cycle continues. [1]Does this describe your service to God? What was once a blessing for you is now a burden? We become like the priests during the time of the prophet Malachi who said, “It’s too hard to serve the Lord” (1:13, NLT). Another translation goes like this, “…

Something More!

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Two of our Prayer and Fasting week.

Do you feel like you are looking for something more in your relationship with God? More than just church activities. More than just prayer meetings and Bible studies. More than just cell groups and meetings. More than just conferences and seminars. More than just additional church programs. More than just the demand for more commitments! There must be something more than this! We long for something deeper. Something fulfilling. Something radical. Something life-changing. Something that would really make a difference. We long for intimacy with God! [1]But what keeps us from that “something more”? Toxic spirituality. 
Edmund Chan offers five features of toxic spirituality: service without joy, performance without rest, work without worship, devotion without discipleship and ritual without reality. These keep us from enjoying intimacy with God. No…

Time to Detox

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day One of our Prayer and Fasting week.

Toxic (\ˈtäk-sik\) adj. - “poisonous; relating to or caused by poison.”

Detox (\ˈdē-ˌtäks\) v. - “To abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances”

The Bible warned us that in the last days, people “will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” (2 Timothy 3:5a, NLT) [1] They will end up with a religion about God. It will no longer be a relationship with Him. 
We are tempted to smugly smile and say, “We are not like those people.” But, there’s a church way back then who ended up becoming like them. It actually came as a shock because that church seems to be spiritual by today’s standards. I know what you have done; I know how hard you have worked and how patient you have been. I know that you cannot tolerate evil people and that you have tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and have …

Not a Hunger Strike

There are those who think that fasting is an add-on or a booster to get more of what they want from God.
The Jews had that wrong idea. They complained to God, “‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’” (Isaiah 58:3a, NLT)
The Lord rebuked them for fasting for the wrong reasons. He answered them, “I will tell you why! … It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. … This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. … Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? (vv. 3b, 4b, 5b. Emphasis mine.) 

Sadly, such mindset is not biblical. “Fasting among the pagan peoples who surrounded the ancient Israelites was far different. The followers of these religions thought they could obligate their gods to behave in specific ways if they fasted. Unsurprisingly, many Israelites adopted this belief in relation to their covenant Lord”. (Source: http://www.ligonier.or…

Boldness or Brashness? (Part 2)

I am not against street preaching per se. 

As a teenage believer, I did it while distributing Gospel tracts in the Laloma Catholic Cemetery near our house in Tondo during All Saints’ Day. I also preached in jeepneys. 
However, I am against what was dubbed as street preaching nowadays.

I’m not only talking about those who collect money while doing so but also about the so-called “street outreach ministry” during the Black Nazarene procession last Friday (January 9, 2015). 

Let me emphasize again: This is not an issue on their motives but on their methods. I hope that’s crystal because I often see Facebook posts from their sympathetic supporters appealing to their sincerity when questioned about their methodology. Motives do not make methods right.

As one comic strip pointed out, “Telling the truth does not come without its consequences.” But let the truth itself offend, not the way we tell it.

In one Facebook post, one asked how we can tell the truth in a respectful way.
Allow me a personal e…

Boldness or Brashness?

“We call this street preaching. We come here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and against the sin of our nation… We want to give caution to everyone and reach out to the people willing to listen. Even if we get just one person to listen, we’ll be satisfied.” (Source: Rappler)
That’s how young preacher Paul Christian Faculin justified their “street outreach ministry” during the Black Nazarene procession yesterday. It was not the first time they did it. For four years already, “They go to other events they consider ‘sinful’ such as gay pride marches and ‘idolatry’ gatherings.” (Ibid)
Sadly this time they almost got lynched by the offended devotees. “Nazareno faithfuls grabbed their gospel tarpaulins and pushed them out of Liwasang Bonifacio.” (Ibid) Good thing cooler heads intervened. According to Faculin, “We get that treatment every year. But this year, it was really bad. Thankfully no one was injured… …We will continue doing this despite the negative treatment we get... until peopl…