Reflections: Being and Bringing Christ to others

So, first of all, to my few followers, hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, solely because things have been so busy lately, and I haven’t necessarily had much to say, and with regards to movie reviews, well, just haven’t been able to find the time. On to my random reflection for today.

A week ago, I was sent out to Hamilton to visit SFC, and help out with their COWR (Covenant Orientation Weekend Retreat for those not in the CFC Family Ministries). As I was introducing myself, I began to share that I had been in SFC since 2007, meaning that this was now 10 years in SFC, and 14 years in the CFC Community as a whole. This was a bit of an eye opener for me, because just towards the end of last year, I was experiencing the burn out that most leaders have experienced at least once in their lives. In fact, I was experiencing it so badly that towards the end of last year, I was beginning to question whether I should even still be in this community. Why? Because after 10 years, I was beginning to question if the time I had put in was worth it, or whether I had achieved anything. What made it harder was the fact that all around me, friends were moving on with their lives, and I was still here in SFC, doing the same old thing. As friends transitioned into CFC or elsewhere, I was still “Kuya Carl”, the reliable one everyone could ask for help and would always come through. Because of all of this, I was very firm on quitting. Stepping aside and just moving on. I felt like nothing I had done had made any difference. Yes, I was serving God and doing the work that was asked of me, but I wasn’t sure any more if I still wanted to do it.

Then last week’s Hamilton trip happened. At that moment, that was where for the first time, I remembered what it felt like when God speaks directly to your heart. If we rewind a bit, two years ago, myself and a group of other SFC from Auckland drove down to Hamilton and started their CLP there, and all of them are still active now. In fact, the participants that we handled, are now all of SFC Hamilton’s leaders. Watching them all in action, God was telling me at that moment,
“Carl, this is why you kept saying yes all those years. This is the reason I asked you to serve. It was never for you Carl. It was so you could bring them back to me. But if you ever doubted that what you have done all these years has been worth it, look at them. By saying yes, you allowed me to reach them, and now they are doing the same for others. It’s not your work, its mine”.
So to SFC Hamilton, my heart felt thanks for being a reminder of the work of God and the reason we all serve.

I was reminded then of all the times people would tell me that on earth, we are called to be the hands, feet, ears, eyes and mouth of Christ to others, because we are all a part of the body of Christ,

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27

Each of us has a part to play in being and bringing Christ to others. It is because of this we are SFC, so that we can live out the vision and mission we all hold to,

Every single man and woman all over the world experiencing Christ

Not “experienced” being a one time thing in the past, but “experiencing” being an everyday encounter with Christ himself. I was often told that Christianity is not just a one time choice, but an everyday battle. It is a battle to choose Christ everyday, and choose to live for Him and as mentioned before, to be and bring Him to others all over the world.

Given my little reawakening thanks to SFC Hamilton, I remembered why it was that I did what I did. Because of the joy we experience seeing others experiencing and bringing Jesus to others. I began to reflect further as to why I had drifted so far away, and realized I had become a bit lazy with that daily choice. I allowed my love of God and others to become like a job that I got tired. I was giving and giving and giving, but never really taking time to have my own prayer time. Jesus says to us:

A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

Love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself. While we can be busy bringing Christ to others and working away, we also have to allow ourselves to experience Christ in our own day to day. This then reminded me of WYD08, and then theme we had for that year, Acts 1:8,

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

Reflecting on this further in light of all of the last few weeks, I began asking myself how does this apply to me? What is my Jerusalem? My Judea? And beyond? It was that reminder then, that in the context of today, were Jesus saying this to me today, he would probably have said something like “you shall be My witness both in Albany, and in all of Auckland and Hamilton, and even to the remotest part of the earth”. The challenge each of us has is to be witnesses and missionaries where we are first, and work outwards. Moving along that train of thought, being witnesses and disciples starts from within. Because from within is the closest thing to us. The challenge as leaders, as Christians, not just limited to SFC, or whatever Church or community you belong to, but as Christians, is to be witness from within and work outwards. Only then, can we truly be and bring Christ to others.

In summary, what did I realize? That God calls each of us to be and bring Christ to others, and while we may not necessarily always see the results, our efforts are never wasted. Even if we feel like quitting, God will somehow remind us why we do what we do. And if we want to continue being and bringing Christ to others, then the best place to start is with ourselves. We start in our own Jerusalem and Judea, and then work outwards. For each of us, the challenge is, to start with the Jerusalem inside. Be a witness to our own lives and allow God to transform us. Then we can do what is asked of us, and answer that call to be Christ’s witnesses. My dear brothers in sisters in Christ, God has chosen you to be His disciple. Are you ready to answer the call? Let us continue to pray for one another, that we can live the life we have chosen, a life for Christ. A life to know Christ and make Christ known.

I sign off with this song that wraps up everything I’ve realized over the last few weeks. God bless you all!!

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Christ Bound – A reflection on SFC NZ Natcon 2016

Romans 12:2 says

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This was the theme for this year’s SFC New Zealand National Conference, as well as all the other National and Regional Conferences for SFC around the world. Now, for those of you that know me, you know that usually, I’m excited to attend, can’t wait to go, but for some reason, this year, I “wasn’t feeling it”. To put things into perspective, I’ve been a member of the CFC Family Ministries community since 2003. I came in through YFC, and transitioned through into SFC, with not much of a break. I had the odd inactive period here and there, but nothing major. And usually for more interesting reasons.

Over the last year, especially having transitioned from being Head of Music Min and handling a Household to now being Unit Head, things changed. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed with the duties I had to do, there was a lot to worry about, plan, a heck of a lot more admin, plus more meetings that I was used to, in addition to trying to balance work, social life, relationships, family, all of the above. Plus the feeling really hit home during the Covenant Orientation Weekend we had earlier this year when I stood there thinking to myself, “well, here we are again”. Not that it mattered when it came to the actual doing, I would still throw myself head first into whatever opportunity to serve came up because that’s what I would do, and part of it was because I felt like that’s what people expected of me. In my own mind, I began thinking that people saw me as “Kuya Carl”, the Leader, the reliable one, the one who would do anything asked of him. And I soon realized I was getting tired, not because I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing anymore, but because I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

Everything about this Natcon was different, and admittedly, part of my own thinking was, “well that’s not how we would have done it if we were the hosts”, but I had to let that part go. And I was happy that I did, because everything about the weekend was pleasantly surprising. Leading up to Natcon, I remember we were asked to be the band for the Club Praise Evening, and also playing for one Worship, which I absolutely loved because it reconnected me with one of the things I enjoyed about service in the first place, Music Ministry. But the thing that I wasn’t expecting was being asked to be a sharer for Session 1. However, from the usual meeting new friends, reflecting on my sharing about spaghetti cans (you had to be there), I think a lot of what this conference did for me was remind me of the reasons why I do things. A call back to the commitment of “I want to serve” rather than “I have to serve”. A part of what this conference did was connect me with what I had not really forgotten, but put to the side, the one who I serve. A year ago, had you asked me why, I would tell you, “I say yes because God is asking. Because what He has done for me, I want to give to others also”. Leading up to Natcon, “…yeah I said yes, I guess I have to, but yeah, just want to rest. I feel like people are expecting me to, so I probably should do it. I’m a leader, I have to”. And that was the difference, “I want to” vs “I have to”. In essence, I allowed myself to be shaped by a worldly view, in this case, a position, a title. “Unit Head”, and because of it, I struggled, was tired, and began to feel burned out. Being in Christchurch, I remembered again, especially in one of the biggest areas – relationships.

Now I’m not only talking of romantic relationships here, but the relationships you have with people around you. This was the main focus of Session 3, and it was what stood out to me the most. Because I found myself remembering what it was that drew me in all those years ago. The relationships I built with the people I have been called to serve, why. because, as we were reminded over the weekend, we are called to see Christ in all those we serve and in all those around us. One of the best parts of the weekend was the reflection on St Theresa of Calcutta and how she always chose to see Christ in everyone, and it was there where I was reminded the answer to the question. why do I keep saying yes to service, because I see Christ in these people, and I want to give back what He has given me.

In addition to this mini realization of mine, I was also blessed enough to hear the stories of others, stories of their victories, their struggles and ultimately, where they saw God in all of this. And the encouragement to seek God in all we do, especially with the content covered during session 1, seeking God in career, lifestyle, relationships and service. And to be honest, this was the first conference which really challenged me to consider my career thanks to Session 2. Session 3, as I mentioned above, really hit home with centering relationships on Christ and seeing Christ in all that I do, where as Session 4 was the challenge to remain true to our destination on this journey we call life. One of the most refreshing things, surprisingly, was the fact that, for the first time in a long time, I heard a Priest speak on the actual effects of Sin, and the realities of Hell. Something we sometimes tend to shy away from, but as Christians, we must also realize that this is a very big part of our mission as members of the Church, to save souls and to bring and be Christ to others.

We all go to these conferences for many different reasons, but what I can at least share is that, God will always speak to you some how, there’s always something He wants you to hear. And while I may have felt a little lost for a while, I have been reminded to no longer be shaped by the world, but to seek God’s will in what I do. I have been reminded that, I no longer have to seek the approval of others views of my service, but I choose to serve because I see Christ in them, and because I also love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been reminded that in this journey we call life, the greatest thing for all of us to do is to choose to be Christ Bound. A big thank you again to SFC Christchurch. Praise. For your service and an amazing conference! Shout out to our hosts, Einx and Iktong, love you both! 

May God Be Praised!

Reflections: God is Enough

NOTE: Had a phone malfunction so some of my text got deleted. Here is what I was able to reconstruct after the edit 🙂

Hello all! Just wanted to share something Father gave me at Confession this morning. This is a poem by St Teresa de Avila called Nada te Turbe:

Let nothing frighten you (Nada te turbe)

Let nothing disturb you (Nada te espante)

All things are passing (Todo se pasa)

God cannot be moved (Dios no se muda)

Patient endurance attains all things (La paciencia todo lo alcanza)

He who has God lacks nothing (Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta)

God is enough (Solo Dios basta)

As I sat there speaking with Father, he reminded me that as we journey towards God, we will always encounter challenges because those who oppose God journey in the opposite direction. So we will always come head to head with those who choose to oppose God, and the forces of Satan himself. Trials, temptations, they all mean that the enemies of the Lord are hard at work.

Every now and then we will hit the tipping point where will feel like we are completely out of control. Where all seems lost and we feel like we’re falling down. But that’s when we need to be reminded that we are never in control, God is in control. The challenge Father gave me was this, whenever I feel myself on the edge of falling down, remember the prayer St Teresa prayed.

“May nothing disturb you, may nothing astonish you. Everything passes. God does not go away. Patience can attain anything. He who has God within does not lack anything. God is everything”

God bless!!

Shameless Plug 2: CFC-Singles For Christ Auckland Christian Life Program Starting Friday!!!

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Yes, Shameless Plug again!!

Calling all Single Men and Women (Single being unmarried. You can be in a relationship, it’s ok 😀 ) in the Auckland area.

CFC-Singles For Christ, Auckland Chapter would like to invite you to participate in our Christian Life Program.

How much does it cost you ask? It’s FREE!! Yes, that’s right, you saw what I said…FREE! As in, you pay nothing 🙂

What is it exactly? The Christian Life Program is a series of talks exploring the basics of our faith, and how we as Single Men and Women can grow and apply our faith in today’s world.

Who can come? Are you unmarried? Are you aged between 20 to 40(ish)? Do you live in Auckland? If you answered yes to those questions, then yes YOU are invited 🙂

Why should I come? From personal experience, it was an eye opening experience for me with regards to deepening my own faith and growing in understanding of what I believed in and why I believed in it. Plus on top of that, you get to meet a lot of new people and make new friends along the way.

Where is this? Liston Hall, St Patrick’s Cathedral in the Auckland CBD. Nice and central for everyone!

When is it? Sessions will be starting this Friday, 7pm and continue for subsequent weeks.

We would love to have you there! Please see the poster above for contact details and how to express your interest – or if you want, comment below and I’ll put you in touch with the right people!!

Hope to see you there!

God bless!!

8 Questions that I need to answer

So there I was browsing Facebook and I stumbled upon this article. It’s a very, very good read, especially for those of us who are discerning our future vocations with our GG (God’s Gift – for those not aware of the term). This has definitely given me a lot to think about in my own relationship and the choices I will continue to make in it.

Wherever you are in your own life, I pray this helps!

God Bless!!

“How can you know if this “forever” is likely to be? Here are some questions that every boyfriend should be able to answer before starting this adventure called marriage.”

Source: 8 Questions That Every Good Boyfriend Should Be Able To Answer