Category Archives: Ministry

Ministry experiences.

Selfless Love

Matthew 16:24 (KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

That was the Scripture God gave me when I had a motorcycle accident in 2015, teaching me to offer my life for His service. A year later, God reminded me of the same thing – if I wanted to show love to God and to others, it must be selfless.

I had the motorcycle accident when we were traveling for our Bible Study in Naujan. I suffered a large cut on my head and the people said it was by God’s miracle that I did not suffer internal head injuries. That time, God was testing me if I would still serve Him despite what happened – it was the test of willingness to offer to God my physical life. After a year, I was not the patient anymore – it was my father. He suffered from a pulmonary disease and a mild heart attack. And still, God was teaching me to serve Him by loving others selflessly.

How did God teach me to love selflessly so I could serve Him with a fresh start?

Firstly, God taught me to deny my comfort for the comfort of others. My father suffered from a mild heart attack because of strenuous physical labors. Partly I was blaming myself because I should be the one doing those heavy labors – I knew the doctors warned my father against heavy tasks after he suffered his first heart attack in 2007.  Worse, in the hospital, God revealed my selfish heart – it was so self-centered – I hated the discomforts of staying in the hospital. I was not thinking of the discomforts of my father who was in the ICU, I was only sympathizing with my own hard feelings. I felt ashamed. How could I be that selfish!

As days went by, God was pushing me more to realize my selfishness. As I was seeing the patients and their families, my heart was aching to see them broken and hopeless. I always wanted to comfort them with the love of Jesus from the Bible – but one thing was hindering me – too much thinking of the self! I argued in my mind that I needed more sleep, that I needed more time for myself, and some other reasons. There was a clear battle between thinking of myself against my desire to serve others. I saw clearly that prioritizing my wants hindered me from loving and serving others.

Secondly, God taught me to be sensitive for the needs of others. I found it true that as you deny your own comforts to give comfort to others, you will naturally be sensitive to their needs. The hospital was full of patients and people from all walks of life – from the rural and urban places, the rich and the poor, the believers and the unbelievers – but they all shared a common trait – they were all in need.

Being sensitive to the needs of others did not call for a reactive thinking, but for a proactive one. The former was telling me to respond to the emerging needs I saw in them; the latter was instructing me to think what I could possibly do before things might actually happen. Being proactive in thinking trained me to adjust my whole life and time management. I had to wake up earlier to pray for strength and guidance. Then I would talk to some people and pray for them. I also had to think always of different ways to give strength and comfort to my father and to the others – some ways work for certain people, but not to the others. I was the one adjusting for them and not the other way around.

Lastly, God taught me to exalt Him and not the self. This was the lesson I found to be the hardest to learn. As I was ministering in the Emergency Room, the different Medical ICU Rooms, and the semi-private wards – doctors, nurses, and people began to notice me as a religious and spiritual person. Soon, I earned their respect. With their high respect and regard, I felt that my ego was being fed! The natural self-centered I was coming to life! Grant me Lord the Grace to exalt You and not the self (Psalm 115: 1)!

The test of character was even stronger when I gained friendships with the opposite sex who were attractive. Soon, I felt that I had to make my physical appearance and gestures better to maintain and develop those friendships. I really saw myself taking decisive actions to draw people to myself and not to God – but of course with the ministry as the outside covering. But God was gracious in convicting me of my sin of self-glorification, and soon I was praying for a new heart with the right motives (Psalm 51: 10). After that prayer, every time I would go out to minister to the people, I would pray first for true humility and selflessness.

During my ten days of staying in the hospital, did I really learn those three truths of selfless love? To a small degree, maybe – but I know that learning is a lifetime process. I know that in the future, in everyday life, I will find myself again being entangled so much in the self that will hinder me in loving Jesus and serving others. But my prayer is that God will always give me the Grace to fight this sin of self-indulgence, and be a more selfless person.

Whether it is the offering of life like in the motorcycle accident that I had or the denying of personal comforts and glory like in my ten days of staying in the hospital, they both call for a selfless love as my service to Jesus. For Jesus Himself, the great God (Hebrews 1: 8; John 1: 1), also denied Himself greatly of heavenly glories and humbled Himself as the Father’s Servant (Philippians 2: 6-7; Isaiah 53).

 

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all the Glory!

Food for the Body and Soul

22 OCTOBER 2016, 02:54 PM

This Saturday afternoon visit to church is an exceptional one. I was expecting to do some cleaning and grass trimming but I guess either I was late or I came too early. Nonetheless, I was able to reflect once again on a few things – that are connected to foods.

After leaving the church to have a little snack, I never thought that such simple act would not only invigorate my physical body but also my soul. Before I finished my bread and hot chocolate drink, I saw Celine walking towards me in an act of preparing for a warm embrace. And wow, how I missed the child!

I met Celine last Summer in our Daily Vacation Bible School. After the said activity’s success, she became a regular attendee of our Church. But because I was so vocal in teaching about false religions in our Sunday School for adults, we lost her because her relatives’ religion was our topic for one Sunday. Her family was offended. So seeing Celine once again in an act of intimacy ignited good memories between us. I remembered the simple card she gave me before that has the phrase “Best Teacher Ever”.

After my short moments with Celine, I went back to the church. Still there was no one. I was offered some kikiam and palamig for free by a Christian family. I insisted to pay and started to have some conversation. It was a nice attempt to start relationships.

The blessings around foods would not end still. I received a text message from Ate Nelda inviting me to a food fellowship. Wow! The family is dear to me, they have been with me for some time in the ministry. We had some dinner together and it was also the start of their ministry called “God’s Promises for the Youth Ministry Center”.

Food is one of my love languages. If you want my presence for an hour or so, offer me some food and we’ll have some quality time together! It not only brings refreshment to the body, it also brings warmth to the soul.

Notebook

18 OCTOBER 2016, 05:52 PM

Please don’t mind the wrong spelling in the picture. I purchased the notebook as a small reward for the Bible Study that we just started two weeks ago. I thought of it as a little encouragement to anyone who attends the said small group who will show earnestness for knowing the Bible.

The notebook could be thought of as a small, cheap thing. Indeed. But if wrapped in love and concern, it could certainly touch the heart.

Why touch the heart? As the teacher and facilitator of the Bible Study, I act also as its pastor. And as a pastor, I should imitate the Chief Shepherd, the Lord God. Going back to the popular Shepherd Psalm, the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Psalms, we could all see the love and care of the One True Shepherd of our souls.

The first verse of the Psalm tells us that God gives the overall love and blessedness that we need to the point that we are truly satisfied. The second verse expands from the first one, giving us spiritual nourishment and peace that we experience in His presence. Then the third verse tells us of His guidance. The following fourth verse tells us of His protection, which includes His discipline as a part of it. The fifth verse tells us that enemies will not win over us, and the last verse that this such goodness will be done for us all the days of our lives.

As the pastor of the Bible Study, I should then make sure that I give them the similar care and love – of course I admit I am not capable of giving the same as the Lord gives, but I could start by showing them that I am sincere. Moreover, maybe the best that I could do is to help them realize such goodness from God Himself – by drawing them near to God.

Of course I know that times will come that I will give admonition and rebuke, but still I must not forget that above all things the Fatherly Love of God should be utmost. May God help me then to demonstrate such love.

Even by using this small notebook.

Broken Fellowships

By the term broken I didn’t mean having fractures. I only meant inward brokenness, or the brokenness of the heart.

I and my friends in the ministry and faith gathered as we were celebrating a birthday party. Our conversations however were mostly contrary to the usual ones that you’ll likely to hear during like events. We were happy to see each other, but we were also open to hear and learn from the wounds of the past.

In fact, I recall a particular passage in the Bible where God promised destruction as His discipline for His erring and stubborn children but also the rare privilege of being excluded from His anger upon hearing some who were talking of their sinfulness before God. Truly, God is near to them that are of a broken heart, and saves those who are contrite (Psalm 34:18).

I will go on to say that being broken and repentant in heart is something that pleases God, a sacrifice or a gift that God never takes for granted (Psalm 51:17). That is a lesson we learned from David when he was on the act of repenting to God after he realized his sins of adultery and murder.

Truly, it delights God to hear our praises. But often, we become hypocritical of concealing our weakness and sins and just choose to tell our good side – our ministry, sacrifices, and everything good that we do for the Lord. These good things are not bad in themselves, but God desires too that we reveal who we are truly before God – weak and always in need of help. This kind of spirit should never leave the Christian – it is a sign of continuous humility before God.

I observe that as Christians we are all in danger of feeling strong in ourselves. We often look on the outward things: the results of the ministry, the number of our members, our sacrifices, the amount of money that we contribute, or spiritual gifts at work, and the list could go on. But are these things really the measure of our true spirituality and condition before God? I am afraid that often, it is not.

I am saying this because we could choose to hide our flaws and sins behind our ministries and achievements. But deep inward – the part that sometimes only God could see (because we hide it from others) – we are filthy, weak, and in need of help.

Let true humility and repentance be in our hearts. It is never a shame to be honest before God. And by being broken, we could allow God to cleanse and mold us so we can be a blessing to others. By being tried, we could be a source of strength to others (2 Corinthians 1:6).

Let the Fire Glow

I have been preaching for several months already in my new local church, the Jesus Lamb of God Church. But, I feel that I lack the fire that has been present in my years of preaching.

I know that partly it is because of my lack of prayer. Also, that I lack the usual over two weeks of preparation that I had before every time I preach.

The biggest reason, I believe, is because even though I occasionally pray and study the Bible, my heart is very far from God. Many times I am guilty of disobeying God. Many times for consecutive weeks I am not able to fulfill my promise of fasting.

I know it will take much discipline and hard work, and of course God’s grace, but I will once again be close and intimate with my God and be a powerful pager again.

“A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.” – Robert McCheyne.

My Family will Serve the Lord

​Joshua 24:15 (KJV)  but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


I say it with Joshua, my family will save the LORD.

After the miraculous healing of Tito Ronnie, who could now walk with minimal support, God has continuously work His way to my family. Last Saturday, I was with my parents ministering with some different people who are also my relatives.

I praise God for His wonderful love and salvation.

Idols of the Heart

This is the second letter I have written for my friends in the worship ministry. This letter is also applicable for the Christians especially those in any form of ministry. You could read the first letter as a preceding post below.

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My child,

In my first letter I have tried to put emphasis that Christians today should seek God with all of their hearts. By doing this we will get to know His ideals and we will discover that much of what we are doing as Christians and as the Church fall short of His standards. By seeking God with all of our hearts we are empowered to do things that will bring restoration to true worship and service. I also said that we do not experience God enough because we do not seek Him fully. Often, we do not experience God at all.

Now, why is it that we do not seek God with our full heart? One main reason why it becomes naturally hard for us to seek God fully is because the Christian heart today is full of idols. Going back to the Old Testament when Moses gave the Ten Commandments, it is very clear from the first two commandments (Exo. 20:3-6) the two great truths:

  1. God demands our full worship (honoring, loving, and serving Him).
  2. Worshiping God fully means not having idols, for God is a jealous God.

God will not rule in a heart that is full of idols. God could not get the honor and worship that He deserves from the heart that ‘has other false smaller gods.’  And the sad truth is, the heart that is full of idols will naturally not be able to seek God fully, nor will it desire to seek God. The heart that is full of idols is far from God and cannot draw close to Him.

From the beginning, God demands the worship of His covenant people, Israel, and that extends to the Church today. We may not have literal carved idols in our homes, but we have lots of idols and false altars for the worship of these false gods in our hearts. A Christian that has idols in the heart will only sing worship songs from his lips, but never from his heart. (Matt. 15:8) A congregation or Church who sings only from the lips because the heart is far from God is an insult and abomination to God. It could never bless God, and it will never bless the worshiper.

The Church, especially the youth, is a victim of these idols taking various forms. These idols take many forms and are all around us. They are made available and attractive so they could easily be patronized, and now they are idols that are worshiped and served in our hearts. Too often we are easily swayed by the fads and trends of this world. There are gadgets that take us instantly to the online world. We ‘point and click’ too easily without considering our motives and its effects on our spiritual health. I agree very much with worship leader Kari Jobe when she sung the song ‘Heart of Worship.’ She admonished the Church to look onto their hearts for idols; she told that our gadgets and the apps in it are taking us away from God strong and fast before we realize it.

Paul was so sincere and solid when he said that whether we drink or eat, or whatever we do, we must do it for the Glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). To Paul the glory of God is the basic consideration for all of the things that we do. If eating this or that will cause others to stumble, which will dishonor God, then we should not do it. We should take and heed the counsel. If clicking this will draw myself or others away from God, then I should not do it.

Social Networking sites (Facebook, MySpace) are not all about ‘being social,’ often, they are about the very big ‘self.’ What is so bad about the ‘self?’ Aren’t we commanded that we should love others as we love ourselves? (Matt. 22:39) Loving the self in this context means caring for the self for its basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. It also denotes the idea of respect and forgiveness. But, it will never mean being vain (vanity), or too much appreciation of the self, or thinking and believing that we are too likable compared to others.

A large number of “likes” boosts our ego and self-worth, and it makes us feel good and worthy. We post our best shots, and be careful to make sure that we look nice, strong, powerful, and pretty. I have observed, and many have confirmed, that these social networking sites make us live in a virtual world where we make the big self as beautiful, powerful, and attractive as much as possible – often trying to hide or mask out the real weaknesses inside. Try and search Google and even psychologists who are not Christians observe the same things in their studies. One study even mentioned that many Facebook users feel unhappy and discontented as they see other Facebook users who look like living happier lives, and envy is produced in their hearts as a result. See, it is all about the self. In fact, it is the worship of the self.

This vanity connects much to the heart of the devil. The basic definition of Satanism, according to the Church of Satan is “the worship of the self,” or, “the love of the self.” It is honoring and loving the self outside the bounds of Biblical principles.

This is confirmed by the first temptation to man used by the devil that is recorded in the Bible. Eating the forbidden fruit will cause man to be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). The sin of pride, the sin of egocentrism. The sin of desiring the self to be exalted. Now this sin is offered not by giving us the forbidden fruit, but by allowing us the free use of the internet (social networking sites and others) wherein we can expose the beautiful and attractive big self. These privileges that the internet is giving us are really opportunities to exalt the self and promote the self to others. It is a cult of self-worship.

We could say a lot more about the bad effects of being addicted to social networking sites (less time for real people, lost of real communication to the family and friends, a cold home, wasted time, broken relationships, gossips, etc.) but the focus here is the idolatry of the heart in connection with vanity.

I am not saying that using social networking is evil, I am just presenting the fact that sometimes, much of what we do in social networking are drawing us away from God — and most of the time, unknown to us – one of the subtle evils of our information-saturated world. The sad truth is that even the Christians are caught in this trap. The worse truth is that they are not willing to admit it. Why? For some reasons:

  1. It can’t be wrong because it brings us pleasure.
  2. It can’t be wrong because I also do spiritual things in social networking.
  3. It can’t be wrong because I get accustomed to it and it feels right.
  4. It can’t be wrong because almost all Christians are doing the same thing.

I am not also saying that everything that we do in Facebook is necessarily evil. We could post healthy memories like family reunions, church activities, prayer requests and devotions. But remember: even the best of motives could be corrupted by the devil. Sometimes even the ministry could be idolized, showing a wrong motive behind pursuing the ministry. For example, we intentionally post great pictures of the ministry for boasting about ‘self-accomplishments,’ rather than glorifying God. Or maybe we post good things just to hide the filth inside, or trying to show others that we have better ministries. We should always examine our hearts for its real intentions and motives.

We should strive to be discerning in all our actions. We should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be knowledgeable in His written Word so we could tell what is right from what is wrong even in small things. I know of some Christians who choose not to have a Facebook account for the sake of purity and deep spirituality. They have known the wiles of the devil in these attractive modern things of life.

Social networking is just one of the many things that create idols in the hearts of the Christian youth. More could be said about secular movies, TV personalities, clothes, accessories and fads, etc. Have we not realized until now that cheering out loud for celebrities is in fact a very subtle form of praising men and women? Have we not considered the fact that getting hooked in love/romantic movies is a way of agreeing to the shallow love presented by the fallen world which is very far from the godly love exemplified by Jesus and some Bible characters?

Idols are very subtle and dangerous. Often, they are the good things of this life (career, possessions, girlfriend, books, ideas, dreams, in fact so many common things) that are valued and loved beyond what is appropriate. Yes, an idol is anything that is valued and loved and sought for beyond what is appropriate, and as a result it draws us away from God. It makes our love for God run cold.

That is why it is very hard to find nowadays a powerful Christian: A Christian who is an effective witness to the Lord, a Christian whose prayers are answered, a Christian whose motives are pure, a Christian whose ministry is fruitful. It is quite hard to find a powerful Christian today and one reason is because the typical Christian heart is full of idols.

The idols of the heart are the things that brings us satisfaction and pleasure. This issue is never new, it has been the problem of God’s people since the beginning. The greatest sin of all Israel from the Old Testament is idolatry. The only difference is that Israel’s idols were actual and literal figure-idols. Now our idols are in our hearts.

Yet the common thing is that all of these idols bring us pleasure, satisfaction, and joy. Jeremiah 2 is one good exposition of this. In the context Jeremiah was just starting out his public ministry and God has revealed to His prophet the gist or the core of His heart: it tells that Israel has forsaken the true fountain of pleasure (God) in exchange for the things (idols) that they thought would give them pleasure:

(Jer 2:13) for my people have committed two evils: (1) they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, (2) and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

I have found a very good prayer that could help any Christian in the renunciation (giving up or surrendering) of all idols and past/present sins. It includes a prayer of recommitment to God. The prayer is three pages long but is complete. You can download the prayer here: http://www.delvecchio.org/OTROSTEMAS/Estudios/pdf/prayer_of_renunciation_and_reconciliation.pdf

I testify from my experience that a prayer of renunciation is very effective when prayed with a sincere heart with faith in God’s promises of deliverance. I was freed from my idols after I finished praying audibly.

May God show and radiate His Holiness to His Church. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Bro. Francis S. Hernandez