Obedience is better than calling 

21 06 2016

“Why do you keep flying?” I commented on someone’s facebook post. “Is it business or ministry trips?”

His reply was direct: “It’s about me, me, me. My calling, my calling, my calling.”

His reply gave me one sleepless night. I was taught that our calling is irrevocable. Romans 11:29 says that “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” And it is explained this way: If God called you to be a pastor (evangelist, teacher etc) you can’t run away from it.

And so I was told.

Abraham, our father in faith, has a calling too. His calling was to father many nations through one offspring called Isaac. God himself established this everlasting covenant through Isaac even before he was born! (Gen 17:19). Then one day God called Abraham to come up to the mountain to worship him. He said offer your son as a burnt offering on the altar. What did Abraham do? He simply obeyed. His obedience to God was more important than God’s “calling” upon his life! Let this sink in for a while.  

But, what about my “calling”, good Lord? Are you sure you want to revoke that “calling”? Abraham could have reminded God as if God doesn’t know how to keep His promises. His “calling” was not his driving force, but simple and immediate obedience was. No questions asked!

Jesus too ‘learned’ that obedience. Hebrews 5:8 says that ‘though He was a Son yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.’ Jesus was promised by His Father a Kingdom (Nation of nations) but He too like us humans not only ‘tempted in every way ‘ (Heb.4:5) but also just for a few seconds leaned on his own strength and flesh saying “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39)

To step into God’s calling in our lives is not an easy road to take. The name of that road is called Denial. Death is the key to Life in Christ. Death to Self, death to your own future, agenda, vision and mission. Don’t be like the person mentioned above who has all the money in the world and can just fly anywhere he wants, even when God has not permitted him to do so. Money can buy many things, even God’s mission!

The common solution to one of the most common problem in missions is to believe: if God provides then it is His will for me to go. I believe this belief mainly comes straight from hell. Surely the devil can also provide your need. The devil was capable to provide even Jesus’ need! Lk 4:6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. He wants you to go into your “calling” when it is not yet the right time! He did it to Jesus offering him the ‘kingdoms of this world’ and quickly make Him King, by taking the easy road. (Math 4) and not the road of Denial! Jesus simply said to the devil, “I obey not you”. Splendor and wealth does not buy Kingship; Jesus’ mission was to obey His Father. Phil 2:8 He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

I admit, in my early mission trips I relied on people who promised me airfares, food and accommodation to come to them. But as I matured in the Lord, I learned to discern that such promises are the very first signs that it is not God who is calling me but mere men. To go just because someone already provided the necessary resources ahead of the “Go” signal from God – is not from God.

Don’t limit yourself by your calling. Don’t “specialize” your calling. “I’m only called to sing in a choir so I cannot go to evangelism activity”. “God called me. God called me. It’s my life and it’s my calling.” Let not “calling” determine what you can or cannot do for God. Simply hear and obey what God tells you.

Sometimes God may want to take that calling back to rescue yourself from your own ego. Sometimes humans may fail and fall short of God’s calling. Don’t be consumed by your “calling”. Let Jesus consume you. He is your King, and you submit to obey Him; not your calling. You see, “calling” is not about you. Jesus brings the kingdom on earth and it’s central message is Him being the King, not you or your “calling”.

I believe, only the gospel of the Kingdom will awaken His people who slumber in their favorite pews on Sunday Christianity. We are not here to fulfill our “calling”, NO! We are to increase His Kingdom, His government. Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. What does it take to see that happen? My and your obedience to what he says.

Are you willing to lay down your “calling” again at the altar of God like Abraham? Or do you limit yourself and so limit what God can do in and through you?


Shifting from Church needs to People’s needs

10 06 2016

I remember when Jomie and I dropping by to see an extended family. Sitting beside an elderly lady having a conversation asking and answering questions. And to cut the story short, before we left we bought her some medicines for her kidney maintenance and a dozen of tin sheets to replace her roofing that’s leaking when it rains.  Spent about $120 on that visit that day. 

“I am a change man.” I said to myself as I went out her house. 

When I was pastoring a church it only taught me to become selfish. I want a church building and facilities. I want members to help me pay for it ‘in the name’ of the church. I taught people to give ‘to the church,’ of course what that means is the ‘building.’ But when I decided to ‘be the church’ I started getting rid of unnecessary things to make church ‘simple.’ Church is people, not building with a staple. 

When visiting families and friends my questions started to change. The topic of my bible studies becomes them (because they are the church right?) It becomes more personal and directed to their need rather than sharing what church ‘building’ needs. I learn to listen more instead of talking ‘about’ my church. My eyes started recognizing things that needed to be fix around their house rather than what I can ‘remember’ that I needed to fix in my church.  I began changing their lives by letting them see how the Word is being applied right in their own eyes. 

To start changing your life, start changing other people’s lives. Don’t wait for other people to help you first. That won’t happen even for a hundred years. Do you know why? Not a lot of people wants to help other people because they wanted to get help first. 

A principle I learned from someone who started selling woods and cleaning shoes at the pier to selling planes once shared to me saying, “Do not let a day passes by without doing something good to others.” Look around you, there is always a need to be taken care of. Be it a widow who needed her own room or an orphan who needed food. A mom needs milk for her baby or a sick person needed medicines. Somehow I believe that why sometimes God would not always heal the person no matter how we prayed it is simply because God wants us to act in kindness. A pastor visited his member in the hospital offered some prayers of which the patient interrupted him and suggested saying “Pastor, you’re the 42nd person who visited me and all they’ve offered is only prayer. My bills is 42,000 ($1,000) peso up to this day.” Looks like every time or everyday when someone visited him it adds a thousand peso to his bill. Well, not true as hospital rooms here started from 1,500-3,000 a day. It’s like staying in a hotel. The more you stay the more you pay. But what if every time we visited a sick needy brother or sister in the Lord let’s bring something to contribute? Prayer is good but they need cash. 

Christianity is very good at providing ‘spiritual blessings’ such as prayers and bible studies etc. But very bad at sharing ‘material blessings.’ 

It’s 2:29 in the morning as I wrote this short, what, encouragement or correction? My wife and I just came back from seeing a friend who just lost his father in a lung cancer. Yesterday, 8 hours ago, we did something good, we sent $90 to a mother who needs it. And just as we got back now someone handed me $100 Canadian. Our money is ours only to give away. Until you give it away it is never yours. 

Love isn’t love until you give it away.