Every Friday @ 10:00AM
Every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month
Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month
|| Page   |
WHAT MATTERS MOST
by: Mr. Daniel Bokelman
Friday Worship (Dubai, UAE)
20 July 2007
“Love” - What is it? How do you define it? How have you experienced it? Generations have attempted to define and exemplify it for years. Poems have been written about love. Plays have been performed. Songs have been sung and films have been produced in the name of love. What is your favorite love song? Can it be sung to God? Can God sing it to you? What is your favorite love film? Whether it is an Engish, Hindi or Tagalog film, we love a good love film. Why? Because love matters most. While most of us have experienced some form of true love in our lifetime, most of us have also experienced false love. False love is like “fools’ gold”. It looks like the real deal but it is far from it. Investing in “fools’ gold” is for fools. Investing in “fools’ love” is also for fools. In time, you will discover the true value. So, what is true love?
I John 4:8 and 16 tell us that God is love. Since God is love, the most important lesson He wants you to learn on earth is how to love. I Corinthians 13:4-7 is a well-known passage defining love - Love is patient. Love is kind… Since God is love - God is patient. God is kind…
When we live with true love we are most like God and true love is the foundation of every command he has given us: “The whole Law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself.’”
These words take on even greater significance for those of us in the Dubai Intercultural Fellowship. The level of love within our church reveals the spiritual health of the fellowship. In John 13:34-35 Jesus said our love for each other, not our doctrinal beliefs, is our greatest witness to the world. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Today, our calling is to make true relationships our highest ambition by learning these three simple truths:
1. Life without love is really worthless.
Often we act as if relationships are something to be squeezed into our schedule. We talk about finding time for our children or making time for people in our lives. That gives the impression that relationships are just a part of our lives along with many other tasks. But God says relationships are what life is all about.
(Matthew 22:37-40) Jesus summarized what matters most to God in two statements: love God and love people. He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart … This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” After learning to love God, learning to love others is the second purpose of your life.
Busyness is a great enemy of relationships. People become preoccupied with making a living, working, paying bills, and accomplishing goals as if these tasks are the point of life. They are not. The point of life is learning to love — God and people. Life minus love equals zero. (I Corinthians 13:1-3)
2. Love will last forever. (I Corinthians 13:8-13)
Another reason God tells us to make love our top priority is that it is eternal: “These three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
Love leaves a legacy. Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” Love is the secret of a lasting heritage. Another famous quote, and one of my favorites, is: “I do not care about how much you know, until I know how much you care.”
“Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at them one more time. Show me my awards, my medal, that gold watch I was given.” Have you ever he such words come from a dying man? When life on earth is ending, people don’t surround themselves with objects. What we want around us is people — people we love and have a relationship with. In our final moments, we all realize that relationships are what life is all about. Wisdom is learning that truth sooner rather than later. Willie Flores’ dad, a grandfather who was in the final years of his life, learned this lesson when he finally became a true disciple of Jesus. He understood that the most important thing in his life was to love God and his family. Love lasts forever!
3. We will be evaluated on our love.
One of the ways God measures spiritual maturity is by the quality of our relationships. In heaven God won’t say, “Tell me about your career, your bank account, and your hobbies.” Instead he will review how you treated other people, particularly those in need. Jesus said the way to love him is to love his family and care for their practical needs: (Matthew 25:31-36) “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
We need to understand that when you transfer into eternity, you will leave everything else behind. All you’re taking with you is your character. That’s why the Bible says (Galatians 5:6b), “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Knowing this, let’s conclude with a simple prayer: “God, whether I get anything else done today, I want to make sure that I spend time loving you and loving other people — because that’s what life is all about. I don’t want to waste this day, or the rest of my life loving objects. I want to love you and the people you have put into my life.”
^ go top ^
ADMIT YOUR WEAKNESSES
by: Mr. Daniel Bokelman
Mid-week (Dubai, UAE)
10 July 2007
Recently, I have come across two great confessions in the Bible. One of them is Peter’s great confession in Mark 8:29: “You are the Christ.” As disciples of Jesus, our faith is built on that great confession. This is our ‘good confession’ - proclaimed at the waters of baptism and then lived out and re-proclaimed each time we participate in the Lord’s Supper. Then there’s Paul’s great confession in Acts 14:15 at Iconium: “We too are only men, human like you.” I know a lot of disciples who are quick to agree with the first confession, but they’re more cautious to proclaim Paul’s confession. A lot of us are more interested in proclaiming our spirituality than admitting our humanity. Too many, too often deny that we are mere mortals and appear super human – especially leaders and older, experienced, ‘mature’ disciples. Let’s have a deeper look at the power of admitting our weaknesses.
To deny your humanity (i.e. weaknesses) is not only untruthful, it’s a disservice to both yourself and those around you. The fact is that God likes to take weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
In this context, I’m not talking about sins of character – like greed, overeating, or laziness. I mean any limitation in your life or ministry that you’ve inherited and can’t change. Maybe it’s a circumstantial limitation or a disadvantage that you’re facing in the church. It could be emotional limitations or scars we all carry from childhood. It could be personality or temperament characteristics. Or it could be a physical or talent limitations that you have.
We’re all limited by something. We all carry the Gospel in ‘jars of clay’. Yet, the limitations that God allows in our lives can actually be a blessing in disguise if we’re honest about them. Here’s how God can use our weaknesses to His glory and to benefit us:
1. We’ll have a greater dependence upon God. This is a lesson that we have to learn over and over again as disciples. At times, we forget that we find our power in our weakness. Usually we resist or resent any limitation that we have in our life or ministry. We usually ask God to remove them. But if God shows Himself strong in these limitations, then why should he take the limitation away? The fact is, sometimes God works through our human weaknesses rather than eliminating them.
Remember the story of God using Gideon to overthrow the Midianites? He chose the youngest kid in the poorest family in Israel. Then before God let Gideon go to battle against 135,000 Midianites, God whittled down the army to only 300 men, which meant the odds were now 450 to one. Why? God wanted them to trust him alone for success.
When I have a limitation in ministry or personal life, it is an opportunity to trust God more. Andre Crouch said it like this, “If I never had a problem, I’d never know God could solve them.”
2. It prevents pride. Paul was given a thorn. We don’t know what that thorn was, but we know it caused him pain and limited his ministry – and we know it kept Paul humble. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul says, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
You can understand why Paul would be a little proud. He had written more than two-thirds of the New Testament, been persecuted for his faith in Jesus, and had helped spread Christianity throughout the known world. But it was hard to be arrogant about his own accomplishments, because he knew he had great weaknesses.
3. It causes a greater dependence on other Christians. One of the dangers of our strengths is that it breeds an independent spirit. God allows weaknesses in each of us so that all parts of his body will recognize their need for one another (I Corinthians 12:12-27). None of us can stand alone. Our humanity demands interdependence. It produces fellowship. Vance Havner says, “Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them stick together they can stop traffic.”
4. It expands our capacity to minister. If we’re going to have Christ-like lives, it means that sometimes other people are going to find healing in our wounds. I believe that our greatest messages come out of our deepest hurts. One of the most powerful testimonies I’ve ever heard was when a well known pastor shared from a broken heart how he, and his wife, had gone off and turned to a life of adultery, deceit and other sins. Through that testimony, he was able to minister to many, many families among the thousands who were listening to him.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:4: “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT)
Pain sensitizes us to the hurts of others. If you’ve never struggled with any weaknesses, my guess is that your life is out of touch with those you want to help. Christians who deny any struggles, and deny that they’ve had any pain are labeled as unreal. Our weakness and failures can be used to expand our capacity to disciple others. God helps us in trouble, then we comfort others with the same comfort we’ve been given.
You only get these benefits if you’re willing to share your weakness. If you hold back the weaknesses, faults, and pain in your life, it’s of no benefit to those you could possibly help.
^ go top ^
GOOD FOUNDATION FOR ABU DHABI HOUSE CHURCH
It now takes two hands to count the number of disciples meeting regularly in Abu Dhabi, and there's a good chance there will be more than 10 house church members soon. Including children of disciples, our number could rapidly approach 20 meeting each week for Friday services and family times every other week!
So far our growth has been the result of move-ins from the fellowships in Dubai, Bahrain, and Manila. The Callahan's moved to Abu Dhabi just over a year ago from San Francisco and quickly found themselves leading this rapidly growing group. Other disciples include: Daniel and Sonia Bonaobra, Ronald Tadeo, Lawrence Padilla, Jhun Galdonez, Christian Lopez, Lance Valerio, and Chris Fajardo Sr., who joins us for family times from nearby Mussafah.
After a year of seeing the number of Abu Dhabi disciples shrink due to people moving back to their homelands, God breathed new life into the city in late 2006 by bringing singles and married couples alike to live here. We had a great Christmas party at the end of the year with a gift exchange, lots of food, karaoke, and friends.
The Abu Dhabi disciples met with the Dubai church council in Jan. 2007 to discuss plans on coordinating with the Dubai fellowship. The main outcome was to create the Abu Dhabi House Church and to be encouraged about each other's commitment. Goals include monthly visits by Abu Dhabi disciples to Dubai church services and reciprocal visits by the various other house churches to meet in Abu Dhabi.
We eagerly await visitors to start coming to our gatherings, whether they be fellow disciples from other Emirates, disciples traveling to the city from abroad, or friends whom we invite to share our faith!
^ go top ^
SO,WE SING OUT OF _____?
So, We Sing Out of _____?
Yes. You read it right. Out of _____?
I don't mean to imply that some of us sing out of tune. (Although this is also true.) I am referring to the motivation of our hearts when we sing in church.
Singing has always been an integral part of worship by God's people. Both Old and New Testaments have records of disciples singing through the ebbs and flows of their journey while on earth. In victory and freedom, the two million Jews whom Moses led through the Red Sea sang in joyful voices, "The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation." (Exodus 15:1-2). What about the picture of Asaph, Henman, Jeduthun and their families joined by the trumpeters, singers and 120 priests singing in unison during Solomon's inauguration of God's temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 5:12)? "They raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang, 'He is good. His love endures forever!'" That must have been an awesome sight.
In the Inter-testamental period, Paul and Silas, while shackled in chains and waiting for God's deliverance thought it best to pray and sing (Acts 16:24-26). Jesus, just before being betrayed by his disciples, spent a memorable time with them singing a hymn to God on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:29-31).
They sang and they knew why.
God said, "My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit," (Isaiah 65:14). Doesn't this explain the basic element of righteous singing?
How we wing the easy notes and maneuver the difficult ones when singing have never been the issue. (Songleaders, this doesn't completely apply to you.). It's the integrity of our singing that accounts for everything. Do the words come from our hearts? If not, why then should singing which is meant to give us a greater experience of God lead us into sin?
Before we open our lips to sing, let us understand the lyrics and mean what we sing. God said, "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19b). In the four examples mentioned above, the reasons for singing were clear in their hearts.
I thought the following suggestions can help cultivate holiness in our singing to God.
When singing alone:
1. Try to sing songs that best describe your spiritual state at that time. If you're singing melancholic songs, hold on to the words of hope that are surely there. If you want to sing upbeat songs even when you're downcast, believe that God will work through the lyrics to lift up your spirit.
2. Consider the songs you sing as your own personal prayer to God because they are in fact, prayers when sung with the right spirit. Spend some time really praying those songs.
3. Take this time to memorize the words. People who know a song's lyrics by heart almost always can sing with deeper sincerity.
When singing with the church:
1. Celebrate in your heart the gift of being able to sing along with those who worship God. Look at it as a preview of what awaits us in heaven.
2. Focus on God alone. Avoid any form of communication that distracts you or others. Make your singing holy to God and you will inspire others to get into the words of the songs being sung. Just as joy and holiness in singing are contagious, so is ungodliness.
3. When the song leader introduces the song, think ahead of the song's message and prepare your heart to be one with the song.
Singing to God is a gift. And just like any other gift, offering it back to him becomes acceptable when given from the heart.
^ go top ^