Friday, November 20, 2009

The Least of These

Luke 9:46-48
46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.
47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.
48 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

We hear a lot about childlike faith, about needing to become like a little child to enter the kingdom of God. But I don't think that's necessarily what this passage is referring to. I think it's referring once again to Jesus' directive to love and serve others disinterestedly, without thinking about what we can get out of it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why do you call me good? -- ¿Por qué me llamas bueno?

Mark 10:17-22

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"

20 "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

When Jesus asked the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good? No one is good – except God alone,” He was giving this man an opportunity to declare who Jesus was. This man had a chance to proclaim, “But You are God, therefore I am correct in calling You good.” He had a chance to make a declaration on the level of Peter’s proclamation in Matthew 16:16: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Where is your faith? -- ¿Dónde está su fe?

Luke 8:22-25
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

Jesus told His disciples they were going to the other side of the lake. They were with Jesus, doing what He had asked them to do. Yet when the storm beat down on them, they feared for their lives. They thought they were going to drown.

Jesus said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say, “Let’s see if we can get there.” He knew they would make it across. He knew the storm would come, but that they would reach their destination anyway.

Friday, September 18, 2009

God doesn't play games / Dios no juega con nosotros

I’ve heard many times during my life that we should be specific when praying to God for something. And there’s some merit in that idea. But sometimes the advice to “pray specifically” is based on faulty reasoning. For example, “If you’re praying for God to send you a mate, and you have a preference for blue-eyed blondes, be sure to mention that in your prayer, or God may send you a someone else, and you won’t be as happy as you could be because you didn’t ask for your heart’s desire.” It’s like they think God is sitting up in heaven saying, “Well, I know Susan really likes dark-haired guys, but since she didn’t put that line-item on her prayer list, I’ll send her this red-haired Irish guy. If only she’d been more specific, I could have given her a better answer to her prayer.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

What's your pleasure?

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Too often I hear this verse used as some sort of a "magic key." Just delight in the Lord, and He'll give you whatever your heart desires. Want a 52-inch plasma HDTV? Just spend time in prayer and worship. Want a new car? Study God's Word more, and He'll reward you for it with a new ride. Hoping that "special someone" will ask you out/agree to go out with you? Volunteer to help with the homeless outreach, and God will pay you back. It often borders on the pagan practice of manipulating their gods by performing certain rituals or spells that are prescribed to achieve certain ends.

But is that what "delight yourself in the Lord" really means? To "delight in" means to draw one's pleasure and satisfaction from, to find one's joy in. When I delight in the Lord, I make Him the source of my fulfillment, joy, satisfaction, happiness, etc. The more I delight in Him, the less important other things become. Christ Himself becomes my passion -- the desire of my heart.

So when I truly delight myself in the Lord, He is the desire of my heart, and He will not withhold Himself from me, but will reveal Himself to me (John 14:21).

Oh Lord, help me make You the desire of my heart. Help me to seek You above all else, and to find my joy in You.


Deléitate en el Señor, y él te concederá los deseos de tu corazón. Salmo 37:4 (NVI)

Muchas veces escucho este versículo usado como una "llave mágica." Sólo deléitate en el Señor, y El te dará cualquier cosa que desea tu corazón. ¿Quieres un televisor plasma de 52 pulgadas? Sólo pasa tiempo en oración y adoración. ¿Quieres un auto nuevo? Estudia la palabra de Dios más, y El te va a premiar con un modelo del año. ¿Esperas que ese "alguien especial" te invite a salir o acepte tu invitación? Apuntate para ayudar con el ministerio a los que viven en la calle, y Dios te lo pagará. A veces está casi al bordo de las prácticas paganas de manipular a sus dioes a través de rituales o hechizos que promoten ciertos resultados.

¿Pero es eso lo que significa "deléitate en el Señor" en verdad? "Deleitarse en" significa recibir placer o satisfacción de, o encontrar gozo en. Cuando yo me deleito en el Señor, hago de Dios el fuente de mi llenura, gozo, satisfacción, felicidad, etc. Cuanto más me deleito en El, lo menos importante se vuelven otras cosas. Cristo mismo se convierte en mi pasión -- el deseo de mi corazón.

Así que cuando verdaderamente me deleito en el Señor, El es el deseo de mi corazón, y El no va a negarme relación con El, sino que se me va a revelar (Juan 14:21).

Señor, ayúdame a hacerte a Ti el deso de mi corazón. Ayúdame a buscarte por encima de todo lo demás, y encontrar mi gozo en Ti.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Homothuma-what? -- Homothuma-¿qué?

During February and March I was reading The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective by Dr. Anthony Palma for a class at the Arkansas District School of Ministry (AR-SOM). Right now I'm reading Dr. Stanley Horton's commentary on Acts for this month's class. A word that keeps appearing in both books and grabed my attention is homothumadon, the Greek word meaning "with one purpose." I thought it would make a cool name for a church or other ministry; it would certainly make people stop and ask questions about what it means.

But the more I think about homothumadon, the more important I see it as being.

In the church of Jesus Christ, we're all different. We come from different cultural backgrounds. We have different life experiences that form our character. We have different talents and gifts. We like different styles of music, and have different styles of worshipping God (from quiet contemplation to jumping and shouting).

But if we want to see a move of God in our midst, we must have one purpose.
It's not about seeking our own benefit, but the good of others.

It's not "Look how big our church is." It is "Look how many people still need to encounter the love of God in Christ?"

It's not "How many people see what I do for God?" It is "How can I help build up others?"

Ministry means "serving." Specifically, serving God by serving others, not self-serving. I can't do ministry with a personal agenda. I can only have one agenda -- our Lord's -- that all should come to repentance.

It's not about what I can get out of it. It's about what I can give to others from what God has given me. God doesn't give us spiritual gifts for our personal benefit, but for the building up of the church, the body of Christ.

Homothumadon. With one purpose: to lift up Jesus Christ so He may draw all men to Himself.


Durante Febrero y Marzo estaba leyendo The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective por Dr. Anthony Palma para una clase en la Escula del Ministerio del Districto de Arkansas de las Asambleas de Dios (AR-SOM). Ahora estoy leyendo el comentario del Dr. Stanley Horton para la clase de este mes. Una palabra que recurre en ambos libros y me llamó la atención es homothumadon, la palabra griega que significa "con un propósito." Pensaba que sería un nombre padre para una iglesia u otro ministerio; por lo menos haría que la gente parara y preguntara ¿qué significa?

Pero cuanto más pienso en homothumadon, más importancia veo en ella.

En la iglesia de Cristo Jesûs, todos somos diferentes. Venimos de distintos transfondos culturales. Hemos vivido diferentes experiencias que formaron nuestro carácter. Tenemos diferentes dones y talentos. Nos gustan distintas clases de mûsica, y tenemos diferentes estilos de adorar a Dios (desde contemplación silenciosa hasta saltar y gritar).

Pero si queremos ver un mover de Dios en medio nuestro, debemos tener un propósito.

No se trata de buscar nuestro propio beneficio, sino el bien de los demás.

No se trata de "Miren que grande es nuestra iglesia." Sí se trata de "¿Cuántas personas todavía necesitan encontrarse con el emor de Dios en Jesucristo?"

No se trata de "¿Cuántas personas ven lo que hago yo para Dios? Sí se trata de "¿Cómo puedo edificar a otros?

Ministerio significa "servir." Especificamente, sirviendo a Dios a través de servir a otros, no por servirnos a nosotros mismos. No puedo ministrar con una agenda personal. Sólo puedo tener una agenda -- la de nuestro Señor -- que todos lleguen al arrepentimiento.

No se trata de lo que yo puedo recibir. Se trata de lo que yo pueda dar a otros de lo que Dios ya me ha dado. Dios no nos da dones espirituales para nuestro propio beneficio, sino para la edificación de la iglesia, el cuerpo de Cristo.

Homothumadon. Con un propósito: levantar a Cristo Jesûs para que Él puede atraer a todos a sí mismo.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where are you headed? ¿Adónde te diriges?

The other day I was listening to an MP3 download of a 2003 sermon by Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. The title was "Getting from Here to There." You can download it here. It discusses the story of the beginning of Paul's second missionary journey in Acts 15:36-16:25. In the third point of his sermon, Dr. Wood made the following statements:

Not knowing where you're going doesn't mean you're going nowhere.

Keep going as far as you can see, and when you get there, you'll be able to see further.

Sometimes in our Christian walk we want to be used by God, but we may not have a clearly defined road map. God doesn't always give us a nicely detailed list of 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals. Sometimes we only know the next step, but we're stubborn and refuse to move without knowing the final destination.

That's walking by sight, not by faith. That's living backward.

When God told Abram to leave Haran, He didn't give him GPS coordinates for his final destination. The Lord just told him to pack up and leave. He went to Egypt, then came up to the Negev, the southern part of Canaan. Throughout this whole time, Abram didn't know where he would finally settle. He just moved when God told him to.

When Paul and Silas started their journey, they didn't sit around waiting for a divine Expedia itenerary to be revealed. They started out in Syria and Cilicia, then went to Derbe and Lystra, where Timothy joined the team. Paul wanted to go into the province of Asia, but they were kept by the Holy Spirit from going there, so they went to Phrygia and Galatia. Next they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they moved on to Troas, where Paul had the vision of the man from Macedonia calling for help.

Paul and his team didn't have a whole route laid out that they were going to stick to at all costs. When they wanted to go one place but were prevented by the Spirit, they switched gears and went on to the next available city. They were sensitive to what God was doing. Paul didn't receive the call to preach in Macedonia until he was in Troas, a port city where he could board a ship to get there. If he had received the call earlier, he might have thought he was supposed to go straight to Macedonia, and missed out on ministering in other cities.

Sometimes we can get so focused on where God wants to use us in 5 or 10 years that we fail to let Him use us right here and right now. And I think that may be one reason why God doesn't often reveal the whole picture to us when we ask for His guidance. Instead, he gives us the next step to take. Once we get from point A to point B, we can see more clearly what is waiting at point C. But if we try to jump from A to M, we can find out that we're not prepared for M yet, because we skipped out on learning the things God had for us at B, C, and D through L.
So don't be discouraged if you don't know where you'll be or what you'll be doing five years from now. Just worry about being faithful where God has you at the moment, because faithfulness and obedience today opens the door to God's direction for tomorrow.


El otro día estaba escuchando un MP3 de un sermón que predicó el hermano Dr. George Wood, superintendente general de las Asambleas de Dios, en 2003. El sermón se titulaba "Llegando de acá hacia allá." Puedes bajarlo en inglés aquí. Habla del comienzo del segundo viaje misionero de Pablo en Hechos 15:36-16:25. En el tercer punto de su sermón, el Dr. Wood hace las siguientes declaraciones:

El no saber adonde vas no significa que no vas a ningún lado.

Sigue caminando hasta donde puedes ver, y cuando llegas allá, podrás ver más lejos.

A veces en nuestro caminar cristiano queremos ser usados por Dios, pero no tenemos una dirección bien definida. Dios no siempre nos da una lista bien detallada de metas para 3, 5, y 10 años. Muchas veces sólo sabemos el próximo paso, pero somos tercos y no queremos mover hacia adelante sin saber el destino final.

Eso es caminar por vista, no por la fe. Eso es vivir al revés.

Cuando Dios le dijo a Abraham que saliera de Harán, ne le dio coordinados GPS para su destinación final. El Señor sólo le dijo que empacara y saliera. Fue a Egipto, y luego subió al Neguev, la parte sur de Canaán. Durante todo este tiempo, Abraham no sabía en donde se iba a establecer al final. Simplemente se movía cuando Dios se lo ordenaba.

Cuando Pablo y Silas empezaron su viaje, no se quedaron sentados esperando que se les bajara un itenerario completo desde el cielo. Comenzaron por Siria y Cilicia, luego fueron a Derbe y Listra, donde Timoteo se unió al equipo. Pablo quería entrar a la provincia de Asia, pero el Espíritu Santo no les dejó, así que continuaron a Frigia y Galacia. Luego trataron de entrar a Bitinia, pero el Espíritu de Jesús no se lo permitió. Así que fueron hasta Troas, donde Pablo tuvo la visión del hombre de acedonia pidiendo ayuda.

Pablo y su equipo no tenían toda una ruta preparada, a la cual iban a seguir fuera lo que fuera el costo. Cuando querían ir a un lugar pero el Espíritu no les dejaba, cambiaron la ruta a la próxima ciudad disponible. Estaban sensibles a lo que Dios estaba haciendo. Pablo no recibió el llamado a predicar en Macedonia hasta que estaba en Troas, un puerto donde podía abordar un barco para llegar a ese lugar. Si hubiera recibido el llamado antes, tal vez hubiera pensado que debía de ir directo a Macedonia, y perder la oportunidad de ministrar en las otras ciudades que visitó antes.

A veces podemos estar tan enfocados en cómo Dios quiere usarnos en 5 o 10 años que no le dejamos usarnos donde estamos hoy. Creo que tal vez esa es una razón por la cual Dios muchas veces no nos revela todo el cuadro cuando pedimos su dirección. Simplemente nos enseña el siguiente paso que debemos tomar. Una vez que lleguemos de punto A a punto B, podemos ver con más claridad que está esperando en punto C. Pero si tratamos de llegar de la A directamente hasta la M, nos damos cuento que no estamos preparados para M todavía, porque brincamos las lecciones que Dios nos tenía preparadas en B, C, y D hasta L.

No te desanimes si no sabes dónde vas a estar o qué vas a estar haciendo en 5 años. Sólo enfócate en ser fiel donde Dios te tiene en este momento, porque fidelidad y obediencia hoy abren la puerta a la dirección de Dios para mañana.