Whenever I officiate at weddings I make sure I come early. With traffic unpredictable in Manila, it’s just not worth the stress of being stuck not knowing if you will be late. That’s why I came one hour early for a recent wedding ceremony.
The banquet hall was empty except for one table where a few early guests sat. At the table, our friends Junjun and Mae Perez were excitedly recounting a recent sighting of brightly colored rainbow. Junjun posted the picture shown here in Facebook. As Christians, we believe that a rainbow is a sign of promise from God, a promise that He will never harm us or destroy us as it was in the days of Noah.
As Mae and Junjun spoke, I was reminded of the number of times these colorful appearances have been a source of encouragement for me. One in particular stood out.
Statistics show that 34 percent of American children live apart from their fathers, and half of all children will be fatherless at some point during childhood.
I grew up without a father figure, but at a young age God took me under His wing. By His power, I escaped many negative effects of fatherlessness but still bore some scars. I never heard, “That’s good, son. Nice catch. Nice throw. Nice anything.”
God created us in His image to be His children. In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate fellowship with their Father and lived under His care. Then the deceiver enticed them. The children bought the lie and forfeited the relationship. They were suddenly afraid of their Father and foolishly tried to cover their shame with mere fig leaves. This was the first futile attempt on the part of fallen man to deal with the sinful, adverse effect of being deceived by the father of lies.
God the Father immediately put a plan in motion to restore mankind to intimate fellowship with Himself. He set out to establish a family of faith through whom He could bless the nations of the world. These chosen children of God would reveal the heavenly Father to fallen humanity.
In the historical narrative of the global Hispanic community, the Latino church has just recently experienced its own Protestant Reformation.
Although the Roman Catholic Church had prevented for centuries any significant penetration of the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in the 1500s, the first serious Protestant impact in Latino America has come via the evangelical wing of the church—particularly the Pentecostal movement. But the trajectory of this new reformation is anything but predictable, and, as Dallas pastor David Sandoval predicts, its effects will reverberate within the walls of the church at large.
“Hispanic Evangelicals 1.0, or the first century of Latino evangelicalism, was focused on personal piety and experiential Christianity,” he notes. “Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will continue to do such, however they will expand their reach to include corporate piety and holiness. We focused for too long on the length of a dress, jewelry, hairstyles and physical appearance—all while our teens were getting pregnant, dropping out of school and totally disconnected from the church.
Does having a ‘tight’ worship team really matter to God?
All of us have had moments when one person’s simple, passionate worship touched us at the core of our being. Likewise, we’ve all been in services when the best musicians and the most polished worship team didn’t even begin to bring us into worship. I believe that blending anointing with musical excellence should always be our quest. In the everyday world, however, passionate and skillful worship leaders are not always in abundance, and at times we find ourselves having to choose between one and the other.
Most pastors agree that powerful worship should be high on the priority list of any service. Moreover, I believe every leader desires the atmosphere that pure worship creates. We’ve all experienced those moments during a meeting when no one knows what to do because God has made Himself known and you hear the whispers of His people responding to Him.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)
Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.
The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.
You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:
To have an effective quiet time, you must pick a specific time to meet with the Lord each day and decide how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best!
Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.
For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV).