Building People. Spreading Hope.

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Ways to Start Your Day Right

How we start our day usually sets the precedent for how the rest of it is going to go. If we have a great start, we can expect a great finish. If we’re not intentional about starting our day right, it is easy for us to fall off the wagon as the day goes by.

No matter what your past has been, remember that today is the first day of the rest of your life. What you do today will determine how your future is going to be. Let’s look at five things we can do to start our day right.

Sync with God. When we take the time to sync with our Maker, we tap into His potential in us. Spending time with God is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Making God the first priority in our lives plays it to our advantage. It brings us favor for the day. When we honor God with our time, He will honor us with His talents and treasures!

Honor your family. Our families are the most valuable to us. The world has a way to pull us down. When we wake up loving and blessing our family, we set a tone for positive experiences in life. Just like taking vitamins, give them your support right up front. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them. People are not mind readers. Say, “I love you. I believe in you. You can do anything. I’m proud of you!” Reassure them of your loyalty and commitment to them. When you have peace at home, you’ll have peace throughout the day.

Eat a healthy breakfast. We are a triune being. Our body, mind and soul are interconnected. If one part is not healthy, it will affect the other. If you had a million dollar race horse, would you feed it junk food and treat it ordinarily? You wouldn’t attempt to drive your car empty on gas and expect a smooth journey. Likewise, when we don’t eat a healthy breakfast, our body cannot give us the optimum performance. Eat selectively to put healthy protein and nutrition into your system. You’re made in the image of God. Your body is not only where you live but it’s where God lives. Honor God by honoring your body.

Reduce stress. A little bit of planning on our part can eliminate a lot of early morning drama. For example, fill up your gas tank at the end of the day instead of trying to do it before you head out to work. You already know that traffic is going to be unpredictable, why don’t you start fifteen to twenty minutes early every day? This means you may have to go to bed a few minutes earlier. Don’t burn the candle on both ends. If you’re chronically trying to find your keys, change your habits and place your car key right by the door every day. If you’re raising kids, make sure to prepare their clothes, shoes, and lunches the day before, not waiting until the morning rush. Planning ahead reduces pain for everybody. Reduce stress whenever you can!

Adjust your attitude. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. You can either be a thermostat or a thermometer. No matter what comes your way, don’t jump on the emotional roller coaster. You can control your emotions. No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Just because people give you their toxic waste, doesn’t mean you have to take it. No one can make you upset, frustrated, and angry. You’re solely responsible for your own happiness. Time is how you choose to spend it and you have options. You can choose your career and the people you want to work for. Don’t allow other people and their behavior to put you in a bad mood. One of my friends says, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire; unless you change it you’re not going to go anywhere.” Be a bounce-back person. Not everything is going to go your way. Shake it off quickly and step it up. This day is a gift. Don’t let strangers, co-workers, or even your boss, steal the beauty wrapped up in it!

Friend, each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. How you start this day will determine what the rest of your day will look like. Don’t fill your schedule with appointments. It’s better to be productive than to be busy. Let the Holy Spirit guide you today. Honor the people you love. Put proper fuel in your engine. Make someone’s day. Your attitude will determine your altitude. I pray and declare that the rest of your life will be the best of your life. Start today right!

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

7 Reasons Why People Leave Church

People leave church for various reasons. Pastors, if you’re easily discouraged by people leaving then you have not fully understood your calling. Members leaving church is an occupational hazard. Stay-at-home Christians, you’re better off with imperfect believers than by yourself. The first one to leave the bunch gets eaten!
I find it amusing that while people from around the world are willing to put their lives on the line to be a Christian, believers in the West are leaving the church and even abandoning their faith. After talking to countless Christians and pastors, I’ve found a few common reasons why people leave their church. Today, my intention is not to criticize anyone but to shed some light and hopefully bring some understanding and reconciliation.
1. Lack of vision. Allow me to paraphrase the famous Gettysburg speech by Abraham Lincoln, “This church, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that church of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Many pastors have the attitude that, “If you come to my church, you have to support my vision.” Just because you walk into a shop doesn’t mean you should be forced to buy any of their products. Likewise, a church should open its door to serve the people and not other way around. When people feel that they’re loved, valued and appreciated, they’ll bend over backwards to support the vision of their leader. Build people and they’ll build your organization.
2. Leadership. Every great leader knows leadership without relationship is futile. When a church is birthed, there’s a great sense of bonding. Because it’s usually small in number, the quality of relationship and the communication between the leader and member is strong. As the church grows, that bonding starts to deteriorate. Members begin to feel unloved, uncared-for, and disillusioned. I say this respectfully but many leaders are narcissists. Hard to admit but I was! Unless we deal with our insecurity and become servant leaders by shifting the glory from ourselves to God and the people we serve, they will eventually leave us. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:43 NAS).
3. Doctrine. It’s amazing how many leaders are willing to lose everything for their doctrine. They cut down others to exalt themselves. Truth is none of us have it all. God reveals Himself to us in different ways. When we exalt our doctrines higher than our Lord’s love for people, we’re creating division. You don’t have to change your doctrine but be secure and mature enough to accept other people’s opinions as well. People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.
4. Pressure to perform. When a new family joins the church, they’re heartily welcomed, celebrated, and held in highest regards. After a few months, the honeymoon is over and the welcome wears off. Now they’re haunted every week to be there more, volunteer, and bring their tithes and offerings. Morality cannot be legislated and charity cannot be forced. We should teach people that 100% of everything belongs to God. Why are we so obsessed with the 10%? When members feel loved, valued, and connected, they’ll give much more than the legal requirement. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” not beat them! People do more of what you brag about and less of what you nag about. Appreciate, recognize, and honor people for what they do.
5. Community. 86% people come to church because of a relationship. In the heart of every human being there’s a desire to belong. Starting from the pastor, when the culture of the church is community, it will continue to thrive. People drag their family to church fighting traffic, they give their time, talent, and treasures year after year but never get a personal visit, phone call, or even a thank you from their leader. When people feel they belong, they stay together. Promote community through your reaching out!
6. Lack of integrity. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. Whether it is a moral failure, an embezzlement of funds, or drowning in building debt, the congregation wants to know the truth and honesty. People are far more willing to forgive, forget, and move forward when we’re transparent than when we try to hide and cover up. We’re all professional sinners. Forgiveness, grace, and greatness belong to those who humble themselves, acknowledge their mistakes, and make themselves accountable. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
7. Offense. We all come from various backgrounds and baggage. Not all members are spiritually on the same level. Most churches often fail to teach interpersonal relationships. When we propagate a consumer Christianity, people will be shallow and easily offended. Teach people how to overlook an offense and forgive quickly.
Friend, if you’ve left the church for one or more of these reasons, I have good news for you. God loves you just the way you are and wherever you are. People may have disappointed you but Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. However, you can’t love God and avoid going to His House. Did you know Jesus went to church every Sunday? “And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day…” (Luke 4:16 ESV). If it was necessary for our Lord, don’t you think it’s good for us? While there’s no perfect church, God wants you to be part of His family. Take some time to think. You’re not only depriving yourself but you’re keeping your brothers and sisters from experiencing Christ’s riches and glory in and through you. Love God. Love people. Love God’s House. We love you. We miss you. We want you back!
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT).
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

God Is Setting You Up

None of us like to deal with the negatives in our lives. It is not easy to go through difficult, painful, and uncomfortable situations. However, if we train ourselves to trust God with our lives, He will make sure to turn things around in our favor.

While we cannot control every circumstance of our lives, we can keep a good attitude at all times. A great lesson I’ve learned is that nothing happens to me; everything happens for me. When I came to this realization, I became a lot less uptight about the adverse situations in my life. Now I know that my setbacks are actually setups in disguise. I’m learning to trust God.

In 1986, I was living in a little Himalayan kingdom called Nepal. My two brothers and I were young and heavily involved in ministry in spite of the waves of persecution that dogged the nation. We were trying to get more people saved and involved in our ministry. My brothers decided to send the brightest in the family to America to share the vision God gave us. We had saved a little money but mostly we begged and borrowed to buy me a one-way plane ticket to come to America.

When I landed in Seattle, WA, I was so excited to meet new friends and share about the Lord’s work in remote regions of the world. However, my excitement turned to horror when the immigration officer decided that I had the wrong visa. Even though I had a tourist visa for a short visit, they determined that I was planning to stay longer. Because I could only afford a one-way ticket, it didn’t help me clear their doubts. I was put on the next plane to return to Hong Kong where my flight to America had originated. I was devastated! The whole 12+ hours on the plane I couldn’t sleep. I felt so disappointed, distraught, and depressed.

I landed in Hong Kong alone! I didn’t know anybody there except for one missions organization we had had correspondence with. I went around like a chicken with its head cut off. I tried to meet people and share the vision God had placed in our hearts. I had no credentials and nobody believed me. In order to be polite, they’d refer me to someone else. Long story short, I ended up staying in Hong Kong for three months. It became the introduction of our ministry in China. Later, my two brothers and I moved to Hong Kong and I ended up living there for thirteen years. During those years, I travelled to more countries than I had ever imagined. Amazing things happened, both in my personal and ministry life. We reached millions of people. What the devil meant for evil, God turned into something great! I didn’t see it at the time but God had turned a setback into a set up. Friend, God always has your best interest at heart. He is ordering your steps and orchestrating something great in your future.

In the Bible, Jesus often asked people how long they had been in their adverse condition. He asked the man by the pool of Bethesda, “How long?” He said, “Thirty-eight years!” He asked the woman who was bent over, “How long?” She said, “Eighteen years!” Jesus asked the blind man, “How long?” People said, “Since he was born!” Why was Jesus so curious about knowing the length of time? I believe one reason was to prove that no matter how long our setback has been, everything is subject to change in His time. It doesn’t matter how bad or impossible your situation may look today, God is orchestrating your comeback! Everything is about to change. What looked like a setback is actually a setup.

Friend, did someone do you wrong? Did someone walk out of your life? Are you feeling robbed of your future? Is there somebody talking down on you? Did a friend or business partner betray you? Are you upset that someone else got the commission check? Are you feeling as lonely, disappointed, discouraged, and depressed as I felt not entering America? Today I’m here to remind you that if you trust God, He will make it up to you. What the enemy meant for evil, He will turn into something great. He has blessings in store for you that you cannot even imagine. Don’t try to figure out all the why’s. Let go and let God. Like Joseph in the Bible, He is about to crown you with honor. You’ve been in the pit. You’ve been in the prison. Now is your time to occupy the palace. Can you say amen to that? I believe and declare that your best days are still out in front of you. Your setback is actually a setup. Rejoice for the blessings God is sending your way. I’m praying for you!

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11 NLT).

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Give Honor

Much of our society is disintegrating simply because of a lack of honor. Our culture was built on respect and honor. When we honor people, we add value to them. In a culture of honor, people are empowered to high thinking and living.

Everybody wants to be on the receiving end of honor but few people want to initiate it. I’ve learnt that you’ll never have what you’re not willing to give. Great men and women are those who are secure in themselves. They can recognize the greatness in others. Our own peace and prosperity are directly tied to the honor we give to others.

Recently, a friend of mine joined me on a mission trip to China. One of his sons has lived a very colorful life and he’s finally coming around to serving the Lord. Just before we left for China, his son came to him and handed him $350 and told him that he wanted to honor his labor for the Lord. This young man works for a multinational corporation and they were laying people off left and right. His own job was on the line. He asked his Dad to pray that he would not lose his job. My friend prayed for his son and reminded him that a thousand may fall at his side but it shall not come near him (Psalm 91:7). Miraculously, the son survived the final cut. Today, he has a permanent job. He gets almost a whole month of paid holiday leave. He has full insurance benefits for his family. And he even has a 401K started in his name. You may think this is no big deal but you have to understand; this young man has never had a job this good. I believe that all of this happened for the young man because he honored his Dad by sending him off to serve God in China.

The Scripture says, Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). In fact, it is one of ten commandments God gave us. When we honor people, we are honoring God.

One of the first places we should practice honor is in our own homes. Often we’re slowest in honoring those who sacrifice the most for us. One definition of honor is to respect that which is given to someone who is admired. Husbands and wives can show honor to each other by doing what their spouse prefers. Husbands, honor your wives (I Peter 3:7). Wives, as long as you hold back in honoring your husbands with your words and deeds, he will never reach his full potential. Don’t be stingy in expressing honor. Let us set an example for our children and allow them to learn from us. You don’t have to agree with everybody but honor your parents, in-laws, outlaws, and those relatives who don’t think and speak well of you. No dishonorable situation is made better by dishing dishonor. Why don’t you become the agent of change and establish a culture of honor in your home? You’ll be surprised at how fast it catches on.

We should honor people in the marketplace. Honor your neighbors by turning down the volume of your party. In church, honor the usher and sit where he tells you. Give honor to the clerk at the store by being courteous. Prefer the other person. When we give heed to people in authority with a good attitude, we’re sowing honor. I’ve found that the amount of God’s favor in my life is directly linked to the honor I bestow on others. Let’s give honor because it glorifies God.

In the Bible, King Saul tried to kill David in spite of his loyalty to the king. On multiple occasions, David had the opportunity to hurt Saul but he understood the principle of honor. Could it be that David rose to the throne because he knew how to honor those in authority? Today we live in a culture where we’re quick to criticize anyone, from the President down to our own family members. Is this an area where God is prompting you to come up higher? Instead of criticizing, let us pray for them. Let us honor the people we love. Honor people by telling them what a great job they’re doing. None of us got here on our own. Let us honor our parents by calling them regularly and visiting them whenever possible. When we cultivate a culture of honor, we will raise the bar for all, God’s blessings will pursue us, and we’ll live long on earth. Friend, you are loved, celebrated, and honored. Remember, God's favor will be upon your life to the degree you honor others. I honor you!

“Give honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:7).

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Positive Parenting

Parenting can be a nightmare. Many parents do not have a clue how to raise their children because they themselves had no role models themselves. Whether our experience was good or bad growing up, we all have help in our Heavenly Father.

We live in a pervasive society where anything goes. Biblical values are challenged by our society, community, even churches and our homes. If we profess to be Christians, it really doesn’t matter what we think. What matters, like everything else, is what God thinks about parenting.

I realize that many of you reading this may not have young children anymore but a parent’s influence never really goes away, no matter how old the children get. So if you feel that you’ve missed it in the past, you can still learn and impart Godly values to your children. Let’s look at a few keys to positive parenting.

1. Be positive. Parenting involves a lot of details. Children need constant reminder and guidance. Even when they get older, they need wise counsel. When we have a positive outlook in life, our children will learn from that. Most of the time, nothing is as bad as it appears to be. When we live a stress-free life, our children will grow in a positive environment. Practice peace and you’ll produce positive kids. Say to your child regularly, “You can do anything.” “You are beautiful and smart.” “I’m proud of you!” Positive reinforcements play a huge part in the formative years of a child and they seldom grow out of it.

2. Approve your child. People do more of what we brag about and less of what we nag about. When we brag on about our kids, most of the time they live up to what we say. A whole-hearted approval builds confidence. Certainly, they will make mistakes. Downplay the wrongs and highlight the right. Spend a bulk of your communication affirming your child. Be quick to say, “Yes.” Later you can add the conditions. The whole world is waiting to condemn your child. Show him or her some support by being on their side. You don’t have to endorse the wrongs but you don’t have to condemn your child either. Strive to be their biggest cheerleader.

3. Discipline. Love and correction go hand in hand. If your child is telling you what to do then you probably have a dysfunction in your home. The Bible says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” If they’re young, the Bible’s remedy for discipline is spanking. Never correct your child when you’re angry. Tell them, “I’m about to spank you because I love you.” After you spank them, hug them and tell them that you love them. As the kids get older, you want to move from spanking to consequences. Teach them that privileges come with responsibilities. If they’re not respectful and responsible, they risk losing their privileges.

4. Walk the Talk. Young children need constant guidence. As they become teenagers, they’re watching you more than they’re hearing you. You still have to speak into the heart of your child but make the transition from preaching to being. Character is more important than charisma. How they see you living at home is how they’ll grow up to become. Read your Bible, go to church, cultivate a culture of love, respect and honor with your spouse and your children. Ask for forgiveness when you make mistake. Put them in the environment where you want them to learn. Listen to your child with your eyes. Remember, children spell love T-I-M-E.

5. Be spiritual. Notice, I didn’t say be religious. There’s a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally. If you have a daily, personal relationship with God, your child will eventually learn from your example. Say grace at the table before you eat. Start and end the day with prayer. Don’t just pray for your child, pray with them. All my kids are teenagers. By the time they got to about ten years old, they had to take turns in leading the family devotion. Everybody makes an input and everyone is respected for their contribution. Raise leaders at home and they’ll be leaders of the country.

Friend, there’s no cookie-cutter, sure-success recipe to parenting. We have a tremendous role model in our Heavenly Father. You have what it takes. You’re a parent because God trust you. Step up to the plate and become the parent God wants you to be. Be strong and courageous. I’m praying for you.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5 NLT).

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Permit Yourself to Prosper

Most people want to prosper. Money is an international symbol of exchange used to buy our daily necessities, lifestyle, and luxury. Money is a neutral object. It’s neither good nor evil but because of our skewed view of money, few seldom prosper.

Many people do not prosper because they have a mental block. They refer to money as “filthy lucre.” Others subconsciously think poverty is a virtue. I was one of them. Later, I learned that you cannot have what you condemn. In all my spirituality, without resources, I couldn’t help myself or others.

Today, I want us to take off the barriers that limit our prosperity. God wants you to live in peace. His will for you is abundance, expansion, running over. But don’t just stop there. That’s where most people fail the test. When we hoard for ourselves without giving out, we become the Dead Sea where no living creatures can survive. Unless we change our mindset about money, we’ll never have enough of it.

So how do we get money and more of it? One of the obvious ways to amass wealth is through hard work. Most people complain that they are under compensated. This may be true but when we work as unto to Lord, instead of our boss, business, or corporation, God becomes our Employer. He will make it up to you. Do your best at where you are right now but don’t settle there. If you need a job, don’t expect to just barely get by. Pray and believe God for abundant supply.

God wants you to be rich! There, I said it. Let that sink deep down in your spirit. God doesn’t want you to be hungry, lacking, and without. Our God has an abundant supply. He paves the streets of heaven with gold. He flung the stars into the universe. He decorated the cosmos with galaxies and milky ways. He is a big thinker. God doesn’t just want you have enough for yourself. Prosperity without purpose is pointless. He wants to give you riches so that you can reach out to help others. Why don’t you think big for your prosperity?

Li Ka-shing’s family fled China in 1940. They settled in Hong Kong but his father died of tuberculosis when Li was only fifteen years old. It forced him to quit school and work to support his family. First he sold plastics and later, he exported plastic flowers to the United States. By 1950, Li was able to start his own company. At first they manufactured plastics, later they moved to real estate, banking, cell phones, and myriads of other business ventures. Today, Li Ka-shing is not only Asia’s richest man with a net worth of $31 billion but he gives away millions of dollars to Israeli startup companies and charities around the world.

Li Ka-shing has a vision to acquire wealth; Christians must have one as well. Although we brag about our rich God, we’re seldom encouraged to be rich. We reason money has led a lot of people astray but water has drowned many also. It’s not material possessions that harm us but material things that possess us. It is love of money to the exclusion of everything else that destroys us. Let us put aside our superstitious ideas so that we can gain wealth to bless the world.

Prosperity is a state of consciousness and subject to interpretation. To a blind man, sight is his wealth. A dying man’s wealth is the extension of his life. If you have a family, you’re wealthy. If you can think, talk, and create, you’re wealthy.

The Bible says, But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NLT). Friend, God is not against you to becoming rich. Health is of God. Wealth is of God. Success is of God. Let us think, work hard, and ask God to prosper us so that we can become a blessing to many. I pray and proclaim financial prosperity over your life. Remember, there’s no glory in poverty; permit yourself to prosper. 

“Make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God, the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:14 MSG).

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bearing Spiritual Fruit

The quality of a good tree is the fruit it bears. God compares His people with fruit trees that should bear much fruit. The truth is that all of us are producing fruit but not all of our fruits are wholesome.

Just like a healthy tree produces healthy fruits, a mature Christian is supposed to produce spiritual fruits. In Luke 6:43-45 Jesus said, “A tree is identified by its fruit.” As believers, we may be breathing but we’re not really living if we’re not producing spiritual fruits.

In America, too many of us are closest Christians. When everybody is coming out of their closet with something immoral, we’re hiding! What’s up with that? We’ve become so politically correct, and “tolerant” of others, that we’ve surrendered and neglected to defend our own faith. Today, let’s talk about bearing spiritual fruits.

First, let’s bear fruits at home. Our home is the most fertile ground for bearing good fruit. Not only are we surrounded by loving people who are cheering us on, but home is also an environment where fruit is produced organically. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we’re nurturing an environment to produce good fruit. Galatians 5:33-23 lists nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. One way we can judge our spiritual maturity is to evaluate ourselves against the Word of God. Are we operating in love? Do we have joy in our hearts and on our faces?  Are we patient and kind with our spouse and children? If we’re not producing fruit in the loving environment at home, it will be difficult to produce fruit elsewhere.

Next, we need to bear fruits at work. We spend almost half of our waking hours in the marketplace. We get up early and work late to bring home a paycheck and it is very commendable. However, if we are not producing spiritual fruit at work, we’re suppressing our saltiness. When was the last time you shared Christ at work? We’ve bought into the lie that we cannot bring our faith to work. We also believed the lie that in order to share Christ, we have to hit people on the head with the Bible or shoot scriptures out like a machine gun. We’ve created prayer rooms for others but abandoned prayer ourselves. We don’t have to be hostile or obnoxious to share our faith at work. However, if we don’t stand for our faith, we’re going to fall for anything.

Third, we must bear fruits in our community. Jesus said, “Occupy until I come.” I heard of a church in California where they’re sharing Christ with the dancers in the night club. They have eradicated cancer within a certain radius of their church. They’re influencing their community. However, the Church at large has no initiative in the community. We’ve believed a lie that we can only bear fruits within the walls of the church. Every week, we’re summoned to exalt the pastor and we’re beautifying the building instead of glorifying Jesus and helping the hurting, sighing, and dying. Let’s be involved in the chamber of commerce, mother’s clubs, little leagues, major leagues, arts, entertainment, network groups etc. If you’re a pastor, don’t just preach from the pulpit, go and serve in your neighborhood through the week and they’ll follow you to your church on weekends.  

Lastly, bear fruits in world missions. Jesus always had the world in mind. Every believer should impact the world. If we don’t have world perspective, we’re thinking too small. One reason we’re seeing such a drastic surge in terrorism is because we’ve stopped proclaiming the Gospel to the world. In the absence of the Good News, bad news prevails. Build International Ministries ( and many others are taking Jesus to the world. There are people like you who are impacting the world by partnering with us. Pray, go, give, and bear fruit in world missions. 

Friend, let us be intentional about bearing spiritual fruits. Our lives are like vapor. We’re here for a very short time but we can outlive ourselves by bearing spiritual fruits. When we bear fruits, our descendants will continue the legacy of our faith. Are we going to exercise our faith on which this country was founded on? Or are we going to be overrun by others because we’re too timid to live out our faith at home, work, in our communities, and the world? What kind of fruit we produce will determine what kind of world our children will live in. Let us bear spiritual fruit!

Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).

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Monday, September 8, 2014

I Love Traffic

We live in such stressful times that we automatically react negatively to traffic. In the rat race of life, we are easily irritated by driving around, even when we’re not in any particular hurry. A change of mindset can change the way we behave in traffic.

Years ago, I lived in Hong Kong. It is a bustling international city; people from all over the world are there for business opportunities. This city is always on the run. During the time I was there, I ministered a lot in Europe and Asia. Whenever I stepped off of the plane, even though I was not in any hurry, I’d fall into the rat-race. I’d rush to catch the subway or the bus or the taxi. Often, even a leisurely walk would turn into a brisk one. One day it dawned on me that I was sucked into the hurried lifestyle.

In America, we drive everywhere. We complain about traffic routinely. It is almost a conversation piece in the morning. On the surface it may look innocent but if we’re not careful, stress in traffic can take a toll on our lives. Today, let’s look at a few positive ways to turn traffic into a productive time.

Pray in traffic. I pray more in traffic than any other time. Prayer is talking to God just as we do with another person. It accomplishes two things. One, I can pray for my friends – that’s you. Two, when I pray, it’s hard to complain or have a bad attitude. Talking to God also makes me feel safer. Of course, I pray with my eyes open and I recommend you do the same. Praying helps me keep the focus off me and on God and others. When I’m not praying, I listen to worship music. Instantly I feel the peaceful presence of God. It is a great substitute from getting agitated over traffic.

Traffic helps build character. I lived in Los Angeles for five years. You may not believe me, but I had road rage. Yep, miracles still happen! When people cut me off, I’d speed up to get alongside the stranger and give them my death stare. I was oblivious to the fact that gun owners in Los Angeles practice their target shooting in traffic! When I realized that I had an issue while driving, I made it my personal growth plan (PGP) to not allow strangers to affect me. It took me six months to get rid of anger. Today, traffic doesn’t bother me. I can honestly say, “I love traffic!”

Traffic makes great evangelist. It is a great place to influence others for good. In the past, I’d not allow another vehicle to slide in but now it’s easy. I often keep a two or three car gap in front of me. I slow down to let other cars squeeze in front of me. Have you noticed; when we’re courteous, others follow? It is a great way to spread joy and kindness and make a positive deposit in others.

Traffic time can be educational. I heard that if we spend one hour listening to CDs or podcasts every day for three years, you can become an expert on the subject. This is really powerful because it has happened to me. I used to listen to music or talk shows on the radio but then I got more intentional about using my time more effectively. I downloaded free teachings and sermons on subjects onto my iPod. Now I learn while I drive. Occasionally, I still rock with U2!

Our roads are treacherous. No matter what motivates you, you must find a way to keep your cool in traffic. When we’re not at peace, we’re more prone to make mistakes. When you’re at peace, you’re powerful. Change your confession about traffic. Stop saying, “I hate traffic.” Here’s the key. What we say has powerful impact on what we experience. Let’s say it with a smile, “I love traffic!” See, it wasn’t too hard was it? The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it. The more you believe, the less traffic will negatively impact you.

Friend, let’s change our attitude! You have a great life. You’re sitting in a comfortable car with your personal space. Be thankful that you have a job to go to or return to your loved ones at home. Be kind and considerate. You can brighten someone’s day by simply allowing them to squeeze in front of you. Smile instead of getting sour and you can change the atmosphere in traffic. When you spend your time praying and learning in traffic, you’ll be the number one rat, in the rat-race of life! Sow kindness and you’ll reap the same. I pray and declare that you’ll never complain about traffic again. Drive safe. Drive happy. Spread a little cheer in your journey!

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11 NLT).
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

5 Lessons from the Church in China

As many of you know, I just returned from another mission trip to China. Every time I go there, I’m amazed at the believers. In spite of severe persecution, opposition, and difficulty, they continue to follow Jesus with their whole heart.
While it is not fair to compare the Church in China and the Church in the West, we can learn valuable lessons to improve our own spiritual journey. We don’t have to invite persecution or hardship into our lives, however, we all should be New Testament believers. Here are some of the trademarks of Christianity in China.
1. Christians in China are joyful. In spite of severe persecution and limited freedom to worship, believers in China exude this fruit of the Spirit. They travel long distances, sometimes up to three hours one way, to get to a meeting where their civil liberties taken away and even thrown in jail. However, instead of complaining about the tiring journey, the inconvenience of walking, or taking multiple modes of public transportation, they jump right into the praise and worship wholeheartedly.
2. They love and care for each other. Unlike our churches in the West, the believers in China are connected with each other. If one doesn’t show up, they all go to that person’s home to make sure they’re ok. When believers come with concerns in their hearts, they’re not hastily sent away by the leaders. They take the time to pray and minister to their needs, both spiritually and physically. We had one sister crying bitterly for the healing of her four-year-old son. I was so touched by the way the whole church responded. They cried with her, hugged her, and made her feel like it was their own child who was sick. Wow, what empathy and compassion! People really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
3. They are a giving church. While China continues to prosper, most people in China are poor. The Christians have even less because of discrimination in the workplace. We went to many homes where they fed us their best, even when it cost them half a month of their salary or more. One lady, with a little cell phone shop, came to us twice and put a substantial amount of cash in our hands. It wasn’t much in American money but to her it was a huge sacrifice. We found that churches often eat together after the service even though it was just rice and wild vegetables and mushrooms from the village. They don’t get hammered every Sunday to bring their tithes and offerings but they give far more than 10% of their income to the church.
4. They are grateful. The church in China is quick to give thanks to God for everything. When we gave them your Bibles, they acted like we gave them a brick of gold. Of course, the Word of God is that precious to a believer but they were so thankful that many were kissing the Bibles. One of our teams was intercepted and thankfully everyone was released by the authorities without much hassle. Now the family/church has to relocate because it is not safe anymore. They’re grateful that they’re not in jail! We heard no complaints, only praise.
5. They pray. The Church in China doesn’t just talk about prayer but they actually pray. You cannot fall asleep during prayer because after every sentence the whole congregation agrees in unison saying, “Amen.” Often for security, we’d ask the believers to keep their voice down. We’d start off softly but within minutes they were praying at the top of their lungs. It’s wonderful to see their fearless petitions to God and He hears them.
While it is not wise to compare cultures and congregations, it is good for us to learn from each other. All these qualities in the Church of China are actually from the Book of Acts. When we love and serve God with our whole heart, our lives and church should reflect the New Testament Church. Today, instead of saying, “Oh that’s good for China,” I want to encourage you to have a closer relationship with our Lord. Let us not just seek His Hand but also His Face. Jesus said, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” When we do, like the Church in China, His blessings will overtake our lives.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:13 MSG).
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