I had been wrestling with the idea of blogging some of my life experiences with the intent of encouraging others who may be going through similar situations. Although the main audience being those who have been attending church for a long time and are caught in the cycle of just "doing church", I believe these stories will reach all audiences with God's help.

I'd rather fail miserably at something I feel God asked me to do than just sit back and wonder what could've, would've or should've happened.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Hokey Pokey Effect

At one time in our lives we've all danced it. If you haven't... WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU???

"You put your right foot in,
You put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey Pokey,
And you turn it all around,
That's what it's all about..."

Yes. We know the words. Such a simple song. But did you know that there is much confusion as to who wrote the song? As a matter of fact, this simple song was involved in a lawsuit! Ironic that a song that speaks of simply having fun and dancing made easy would end up in a complex tug of war! Apparently, "that's what it's all about" is not that simple after all!

What does the Hokey Pokey have to do with a PK's life? So glad you asked! God has a funny way of speaking to me. As a PK or someone how has been attending church for a while, we have to find a way to stay connected (serving) in church. I mean we know it's a vital part of being a Christian - if it weren't so important, Jesus wouldn't have washed those crusty feet of His disciples. Besides Jesus' example, serving others has an unexplainable effect in our hearts. It's like a spiritual warm and fuzzy feeling. But even with that, we find it difficult to serve in the Body of Christ a.k.a. The church.

Since I can remember, I've been taught that serving is not an option. Be like Nike and just do it. I guess it comes with the PK territory. Easier said then done, though. Sometimes I don't feel like serving - don't give me that look... I know I'm not alone! After a long week of work, family and life it's not that easy to serve at church. Would you agree? We may even have a day or two where those projects (if you don't know what that mean read my previous blog I Am A Project) we are serving alongside are not so easy to get alone with as you would like ten to be. Maybe you were frustrated with a negative serving experience and want to throw in the towel.

Whenever I want to throw in the towel on serving God reminds me about why we serve. I can vividly remember times where God would allow me to see a friend or family member who would have never step in a church and was miraculously saved by that ministry and now raising their hands in worship. Or when the pastor makes a calling and people raise their hands to accept Jesus as their Savior. Or when we have water baptisms and people make that next step in their journey.

Then Jesus said to them, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell everyone the Good News. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15, 16 GWT)

We serve because it's our mission! We serve because those that are not saved depend on us. We serve because our pastors and leaders can't do it all themselves. We serve to see the lost get found by a God that loves them more than we can imagine. We serve for them!  It's about lives being changed. It's about soul forever transformed by God. That, my friend, that's what it's all about!! *CLAP-CLAP* The Hokey Pokey effect.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm A Project

As a PK, I've been to many different kinds of churches. One thing they ALL have in common is that they require people to run them.  We have the worship team, ushers, Sunday school teachers, parking team, the greeter, the creepy guy that sits in the back, and even the pastor - all people! The bigger the church, the more people in it!  Some are really great people... some are not so good... But ALL imperfect people!! 

Unfortunately, that is the greatest problem we have in the Church Body today - we have to deal with people. I believe most people would rather deal with adjusting to a theology and/or rules than being hurt by a person. That can be devastating! As a matter of fact, I'd be willing to bet that the #1 reason people leave church is due to an interaction with a who?? DING!! DING!!DING!!! You guessed it! A person. 
It reminds me of that Dr. Pepper commercial from back in the days... "I'm a pepper, he's a pepper,  she's a pepper, we're a pepper wouldn't you like to be a pepper too?" Check it out!

So what do we do? We can't have our churches run by robots. Here are 3 things I try keep in mind to help me deal with people in church or life in general:

1.  Nobody is perfect - my father is a closest demonstration of God's perfect love toward people  that I have ever witnessed. Not only as a pastor but also and, more importantly, as a father & husband. I know because I got to see the "behind the scenes". No matter what the circumstances in life would bring him, he would always react in love and taught us to do the same. But even he is not perfect. Nor am I. Nor are you.  Remembering that nobody is perfect helps me. Try it! 
Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23 GWT)

2. The Struggle - There is this constant fight between our spirit man and our flesh that I like to call The Struggle. Our personalities, characteristics, upbringings, past experiences and other things fuel our flesh to war against our spirit man. We read the bible and pray to God but there is force that wants to do the opposite based on a personality trait or past experiences. Everyone has that one area in their life they struggle with the most. There's a struggle in all of us. Unfortunately, the evidence of the struggle will occasionally be released during our interactions with one another. 
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:17 NIV)

3. Dealing with UCP's - just because we are saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost doesn't mean we are a completed project. We are what I like to call UCP's or Under Construction Projects. Being saved is the beginning of the project God performs in us and one day we will be a finished project - can I get an amen?!!  The problem is that there is work to be done  here on earth for God's kingdom. We have to use the talents and gifts that God has given us to do that work WHILE we are still UCP's!! So keep in mind that those UCP's you run into in church are using their God-given gifts and talents to work in God's kingdom and  serve The Lord. 
I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 GWT)

Now, there are 2 sides to the coin: 
1.  You may be the person coming into church and interacting with the people who are  serving in church who and doing their best to  not mess up. But sometimes they do. 
2.  You may be the person serving in church trying your best to get it right and have interactions with those people attending church. Either way, keep these things in mind during these interactions. 

Here's a thought... the next time you come across an unpleasant interaction in church or life in general just begin to sing that Dr. Pepper song but with a remix... "I'm a project, he's a project, she's a project, we're a project, wouldn't you like to be a project too?"

Now you [collectively] are Christ's body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function]. (1 Corinthians 12:27 AMP)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hugging THE TREE

There are few things I remember from my childhood in the Dominican Republic as I arrive to the USA when I was 7 years old. Some memories stand out very clear, though. Like the time I busted my neighbor and closest friend’s chin open. Let me explain.
 In the DR, we didn’t have PS1, PS2, Nintendo or none of that stuff. We had to make up games to keep ourselves occupied. One of the games we played was sliding in the cement floor of our porches when it rained. This was every Dominican kid’s rainy day playtime activity. We would take a running-start then slide on our backside or chest on the slippery cement floor. Who needs PS3 when you have that?!

One rainy day as I was playing with my neighbor, I decided to give him a little push so that he could slide faster. Apparently, I didn’t know my own strength. As my neighbor went face-first to slide on his chest, his chin hit the cement floor and was cut open. My laugh quickly turned into a frown as I saw the blood pour down his hand that he was holding over his chin and unto his chest.

I ran through the hallway to the back of the house and climbed up the big tree we had in the backyard. Holding for dear life, I hugged the tree as if would defend me from the discipline that was sure to come – my dad’s size 34 leather belt! It was as if hugging the tree would actually save me. So I hugged the tree tighter and tighter.

Recently, during my morning prayer and devotional time, I came across the parable of the True Vine in John 15 where Jesus compares the relationship of the vine and branches with our relationship with Him – He is the True Vine and we are the branches. It goes on to say that we should remain connected to the Vine so that we can bear fruit.

After reading this passage, I was immediately reminded of myself on the tree and how “safe” I thought I would be if I remained hugging the tree. God wanted to let me know that the only way we could be safe from all of life’s worries and struggles is if we are hugging THE TREE known as Jesus! THE TREE is not only a safe haven but it is our complete life source – without THE TREE we can do nothing! 

Since this experience, I have been hugging THE TREE by reading the Word and spending time in prayer every day. For me it is the source that keeps me going each day…the breath of life my spirit yearns for…the beat my heart needs to stay alive. Hugging THE TREE helps me understand that without Jesus my life is nothing!!

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5 AMP)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My New Year's Rez = Fake It Till I Make It

Every year many people make New Year's resolutions right around this time of the year. Some decide to diet, others have career-related goals and others have spiritual resolutions. Statistics say only 12% of those who have resolutions actually stick to them - don't be discourage... You and I are part of that 12%. 

So here I am... Throwing it out there... My new year's resolution is (drumroll please)... FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT!! According to Wiki, this phrase is used to "imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence." 

Now I know what you are thinking, "that's a weak resolution". And you may be right but let me explain. 1 Corinthians 11:1 says that as Christians we should imitate Christ in all we do and I try my best to do that. However, we have an enemy whose nickname is The Accuser and he goes around....well accusing people every time they do something wrong. So rather than falling under his schemes, I will take on a FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT attitude in 2013. This way when he accuses me I will imitate confidence IN CHRIST so that as the confidence IN CHRIST produces success, it will generate real confidence IN CHRIST. 

Now we also know that Philippians 1:6 says that God began a good work in us and will complete it by the time Jesus comes back (paraphrased) but the problem is that we are on earth while He is completing this work. So in the meantime, we should work at being Christ-like without feeling like we will never get there - like the Accuser always tells us. That's why I am taking on this resolution! It's a Win-Win situation!

I'm going to FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT in every area of my life:
  • If someone at work upsets me, I'm gonna FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT
  • If things don't go the way I want a home, I'm gonna FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT
  • If my prayers aren't answered immediately, I'm gonna FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT
  • If things in life don't go as planned, I'm gonna FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT
Who's with me? I'd love to hear what your New Year's resolution is! We can encourage each other throughout the year!

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. (Philippians 1:6 AMP)