What to Do With Decision Making and the Will of God?

Gary Friesen’s exhaustive book Decision Making and the Will of God deals on how to know God’s will for your life. Admittedly, I’m reminded of one of the major decisions I’ve ever made in my life: moving to BCI—Bible Church International, New Jersey, USA—with my family.

So how did I make the personal decision to come here?

Honestly, my wife knew that I really don’t want to raise a family in the US. I have so many biases and misconceptions regarding the dangers of raising a family here. All I want is just to come for a vacation. But God corrected me on that matter.

Then, a major—some would say a tragic but providential—and circumstantial shift came to our lives. As a person who has given my life to God and for His service, I know nothing but to seek and pursue God’s will.

1. Make the Best Out of Your Decision Making.

I adhere to “making the best use of your time” and that I cannot afford to waste my life on the deceptions and delusions of a corporate life. Like most of you, I wanted also to continually know the will of God.

Before I make major decisions, here are some of the “road signs” I often observe in knowing and following God’s will:

  • I observe the circumstances if God is leading my family and me to a different direction and level of life and leadership.
  • I earnestly pray for God’s guidance that His will be done and not my personal agenda.
  • I also read the Bible and meditate on it and discern that the Lord will show me something through His Word.
  • I also consult my wife and children to know if my whole family is in the same direction we’re going.
  • I talked with my mentors to help me pray, understand, and see the plans and options better.
  • I listen to the pieces of advice of spiritual men and women to help me know the direction I’m taking.
  • I also use the wisdom of leadership to see if the decision is aligned with my life purpose and the God-given visions, dreams, and goals that God gave me. This includes weighing all my options with the positives and negatives.
  • Once I know in the spirit my why and what, as well as see that all these indicators are leading to one direction, then I personally know with conviction that the path I’m taking is God’s will.

2. Move On with an Open Heart and Mind.

Some might call me “old-fashioned” but I’ve proven it in my personal journey that there are great lessons, benefits, and significance of these.

In fact, in Friesen’s book, he calls this the “traditional view.” He cites that customarily, Christians try to know God’s will through “God’s Words” and “circumstances.” He also classifies the “inner witness” and “mature counsel” as belonging to the old view. For him, “personal desires,” “common sense,” and “supernatural guidance” are very subjective.

As I’ve been reading and writing for a long time, I noticed how intelligent people think of introducing new or “alternative” things, only to end up with the old one.

When Friesen offers his alternative to knowing God’s will through “The Way of Wisdom,” the fact that it’s about wisdom is nothing new. Wisdom is as ancient as time.

When Friesen argued that when there are specific commands, it requires obedience. I wonder how Friesen chooses to obey some and do not do the other commands in the Bible?

When Friesen refused to obey on some commands because of the context between Israel and the church, does he make a serious flaw that God might have a personal plan for each person in whom whose very “number of hairs” he definitely knew?

In Friesen’s argument, when there is “no freedom” it means you have the freedom to choose, while when there is “no command” then you have also the freedom to choose.

As such, when you make decisions that are morally good and wise, you have to trust for God’s details in the future. If there is no such thing as God’s personalized will for every person, why delve into the idea of “details”? After all, God is a generalist—at least for Friesen.

3. Merge the Path of Wisdom and the Power of Prayer.

My contention is that wisdom is nothing new. In fact, the book of Proverbs is solidly about the way of wisdom. The truth is, people in the Bible did not know much about God and His will through a diagram or systematic knowledge on theology, contextualization, or managerial weighing of options. In fact, these things are still very subjective—if not philosophical.

The truth is, people in the Bible knew about God through their personal experiences and by applying what they’ve learned, they gained wisdom.

Of course, they have oral traditions since printed Bible at that times were so expensive. But even the wisest leaders in the Bible came to follow God’s will by praying, reading the Word, seeking advice, common sense, etc.

What I’m proposing is not the abandonment of the old ways. The fact that things have become a tradition means it is established—or else it should have been long gone for its ineffectiveness and non-productivity or as an erroneous interpretation of the Bible.

Instead of an either/or approach to the concept of knowing God’s will, why not take the dynamics of a both/and method?

I believe we will understand better the powerful interplay between subjectivity and objectivity of knowing God’s will. The “Will of God” is an objective truth; our “personal decision” is something subjective.

Moreover, our “prayers” may be subjective, but God’s answer is objective. It’s His prerogative, but unless we pray we’ll never know.

The Bible is also objective; our interpretation and meditations may sometimes be subjective. It means we may know the context of every text but we also choose the angle that speaks to us in a very personal way.

Remember, “alternative” means “one of two or more possibilities.” It is not the sole option. That’s why I still retain the traditional way—although I don’t think the path of wisdom is something recent or new.

I still would love to explore more about the path of wisdom and the power of prayer together. By combining them all, I don’t see anything that I have to lose in knowing and following God’s will.

My concern is the prospect of practicality and personal choice to overshadow the principle of spirituality. For this one thing, I know: Our God can be very impractical. In fact, He has mastered the art of impossibility. And to believe in that objective truth and follow that line of thinking is far from being practical.

Just a precaution: going to bipolar extremities can lead to heresies.

Too much of subjective spirituality can lead to mysticism. On the other hand, leaning towards the extremes of wisdom could land anyone to pragmatism.

Glenn Plastina © 2018

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Do Your Really Want Your Birthday to Be Happy? 

“Happy birthday!” How many times have you heard those greetings in your lifetime?

But the question is: Are you really happy for your birthday?

How many times have you felt discontent in the midst of the crowd?

I remember an ancient song attributed to Moses that King David, a musician and great leader, quoted in Psalms 90:12. It says, “Teach us to number our days,that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Now, do you really want to be happy every time you have your birthday?

Here are some simple ways to make it really a pleasurable day.

1. Celebrate It In a Meaningful Way. 

Celebrating birthdays is usually in public, but it does not matter if the event is big or small. What matters most is that you spend it with the people you love.

Personally, your birthday is a great day to be thankful for God’s faithfulness that you are still alive. Another year has been added to your life and experience.

If you really want to be happy during your birthday, feel the love and the joy of being needed. Be happy on your special day. Feel the pleasure of being alive.

2. Count Your Days.

Every birthday almost always highlights the “day” of your birth. That particular period of time is not just a date. It is actually your date with destiny.

As such, to “number your days” during your birthdays means to quantify the quality of your years.

Take a look at the past: Where were you, say, five or ten years ago? Can you see the difference now?

If you measure what you were in contrast to what you have become today, can you measure the greater quality of your life today?

Do you feel the pleasure of living your standard? Are you happy with the quality of your life today?

3. Commit to Grow in Every Way.

If you truly learn how to “number your days,” one of the great benefits is you’ll “gain a heart of wisdom.”

This one thing I learn in life. Experience is your biggest source for wisdom simply because wisdom is practical knowledge gained through personal experience.

When you hear the words, “Your days are numbered,” you realize that life is precious but fragile. You have to make every experience count and have that sense of urgency.

Every birthday day emphasizes the day of your “birth.” Then, we have to realize that where there is birth, it follows that there is death. That’s where you’ll also see that your numbers’ up.

As for me, every birthday is not just one step closer to my end, but it also helps me see to really live with a purpose and be meaningful with my existence. I cannot afford to waste my life down the drain and leave this world for nothing.

As such, I often challenge those who spend their birthdays to really grow in every aspect of their lives and live an abundant life.

Being happy could mean having the feeling of contentment.

I hope it is not your license to stifle your personal growth. Rather make a checklist of what you want to do and become.

  • Spiritually, how are you going to grow in your personal relationship with God?
  • Emotionally, in what ways are you going to get in touch with your feelings?
  • Mentally, are there things you need to learn more and intellectually grow?
  • Relationally, what are some interpersonal skills you need to develop?
  • Physically, how are you going to strengthen your physical well being?
  • Financially, what are some steps you are making to improve your financial life?
  • Socially, are there other responsibilities you want to do in the community?

What you do today for your birthday would certainly affect your happiness someday. So find full satisfaction in seeing your life grow with a purpose, passion, and significance.

Have a happy–and really meaningful–birthday!

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Why I Didn’t–and Won’t Even–Think Smoking Is Cool?

When I was young and wild, I was not into smoking. Now, I don’t want to sound self-righteous.

Before I lost my way, by God’s grace, having the seed of Christian Faith planted in my heart spared me from the addictive effects of smoking.

I care so much for my friends who are smokers, even though we chose separate paths regarding this matter. Of course, some of them already asked me: Where in the Bible smoking is forbidden?

The truth is smoking cigarette is not forbidden in the Bible, simply because it’s a recent phenomenon.

But why did I not smoke? What kept me sane in the midst of all the temptations of smoking?

1. Think the Truth.

I was young, but not dumb. What tobacco companies won’t tell you can kill you.

Did any of these wealthy companies tell you that they’ve mixed more or less 4,000 chemical compounds in each cigarette?

So what’s so confidential about the chemical ingredients ammonia-like your toilet cleaner or arsenic we used as rat poisons? Sounds like rat experiment? But that’s too successful and profitable to add to the addictive nicotine.

Why would I spend my hard-earned money for something that would just harm my body? Even if it’s free, I don’t seem to see the logic of it.

Knowing my body is nothing like that meat you can buy or replace in the wet market, to value my one and only physical stature is more sensible. But there’s more to that–the spiritual value.

The Bible says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

If you are in Christ, your physical body becomes a temple of God’s Spirit. Instead of the lighter fluid butane in cigarettes, I have further use of the fire of the Spirit within me.

2. Think Twice.

If only each one of us realizes these two-fold truths. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” No one can afford not to think twice that, first, God owns our body and, second, God paid to redeem it with the body of Christ at the cross.

As a Christian, if you think smoking will not destroy that body that God made and valued, think again. Smoking is not just double jeopardy but multiple jeopardies.

Physically, the toxic chemicals in cigarettes cause dry skin, decreased blood flow and nutrients or, worse, lung cancer or cervical cancer for women, among many.

If one thinks to have stained or lost teeth and bad breath are sociable, it’s a personal preference.

But if smoking can cause harm or kill your innocent family and friends around you, it’s not just about premature aging, it’s about an untimely death. Accordingly, smoking one stick won’t just make you sick, you also shorten your life 10 minutes.

The worse to think about is that the second-hand smoke is six times more poisonous. Children can acquire and suffer asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear disease, and lung cancer due to second-hand smoking.

3. Think It Through.

Have you ever thought it’s ripple effect? If the WHO–World Health Organization–did research and concluded that 250,000,000 people, including children, alive today will eventually be killed by tobacco, that’s not just disturbing.

Have you ever thought this is genocide–only with the consent of the addicted smoker and the unwillingness of the second-hand smoke? Any reckless smoker is an accessory to such global and apocalyptic genocide.

I did not smoke or try to start it simply because smoking kills. Of course, it’s just one way to die, but I’d rather have it quick than suffer it’s certain consequences and also inflict unnecessary troubles on my loved ones or others.

The Apostle Paul is intentional in life. “Therefore honor God with your bodies.” One way of honoring God is taking care of it according to God’s purpose and design. I doubt if God designed our body for smoking.

If cigarettes kill, will not God hold anyone accountable for destroying His temple?

Isn’t it true He Himself warned that He will also destroy the one who deliberately destroys His temple?

If you think there’s such a thing as “safe level of cigarettes” like light, mild, and menthol-flavored, it’s all the same toxic. There is no “safe,” and if ever there is, that “safe” is a new danger.

If every one of us is afraid of reckless drivers down the road, we can get better use of the warning signs. If you’re a smoker, quit now for the sake of God, your self, and your family. You can make them or your friends as you accountability support.

Take care of your body as the temple of God. Do some detoxification and endure the withdrawal syndrome. Take healthier alternatives and lifestyles. Go for sports (as I did after I decided to quit my previous vices). Do exercise.

You can ask help from health professionals and strive to stay away from smokers and compromising situations that would draw you back. Learn to say “no.”

If you think you can quit, you can. If you think you won’t, you can’t. But by God’s transforming power, I know you can. For when I needed a miracle, I got one.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Do You Know You’re Born to Lead? 

Leadership potentials have always been within you. You were born to lead.

Your failure to understand this timeless truth of leadership will either lead you to success or stagnation.

It’s either you will live on what you’re born for or die in this world without realizing your full potential.

Here’s what you can do to find success and significance about your birthright to lead.

1. Discover Your Leadership Design from God’s Word.

The truth is since the beginning, God designed you to become a leader.

The book of Genesis says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

According to the Bible, when God created the first human beings–and that has a direct implications on all humankind–one of the major purposes was “that they may rule.”

Such rulership is in a generic sense. It means both men and women were designed to exercise some kind of leadership or influence in this world.

2. Develop In Us the Essential Character of God to Lead.

Even though God designed every human to rule or lead–that includes you and me–such design must still be developed.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” The Bible says.

It is clear that humans were created in God’s image. I believe, this “image” is not just about our freedom of will or ability to think, feel, and do, but it is directly related to God’s rulership.

God’s image in us means we have to lead or rule the way God rules or leads. We have to reflect and represent His benevolent leadership to the world.

Through the years I’ve been reflecting on this “Genesis-Factor.” In fact, I did my doctoral dissertation in theology on this embedded truth and still striving to fulfill it in my personal life.

3. Dominate in a Godly Way.

The main essence of spiritual leadership is God’s benevolent rulership, not yours or mine.

To have “dominion” has always been at the heart of God for human leadership. It means that God designed human beings to reflect His benevolent rulership–nothing less, nothing more.

Today, however, domination has fallen into ill-will and bad image. It has almost a repugnant picture of authoritarianism, dictatorship, and despotism.

But “to dominate” (from Latin dominari or ruler or master) simply means to have a commanding influence and exercise healthy control over anything.

In the biblical parlance, dominion is leading like the way the Lord leads. It is not coercion, but Christlike.

The Bible says, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”

Since these words were first given in a perfect world by the perfect God, it’s meaning must be perfect, not defective. The context being was that this was declared before the first humans fell into sin and disobedience.

As such, to “dominate” and to “subdue” must be understood in sacred terms and meaning. It is about the godly rulership and overcoming leadership as God’s stewards and representatives.

Of course, at present, the truth remains. When we say, “absolute power corrupts,” it is only applicable to humans, not to God. God is still in absolute control, but that does not corrupt His benevolent nature.

Nonetheless, the sinful nature is not an escape route to abandon totally the idea of benevolent leadership.

Our weaknesses in sinful state must teach us to trust in the redeeming love Christ and His ability to change us from within. Then, and only then, we can have genuine dominion in Christlikeness.

As of now, you must understand that you’re born to lead, even though it does not guarantee you’ll effectively and efficiently lead. For even if you’re born into God’s family, you can still choose to live as a prince or a pauper.

It’s still your choice: to follow what you’re designed for or to find another way that you’re not designed to be.

As for me, I chose to live my God-given birthright to lead and exercise the benevolent rulership of my Father in heaven.

How about you?

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Why Should You Consider God in Your Work?

Peter Drucker, the management guru, has guiding principles in doing business. It is expressed in these two questions:

  • What business are you in?
  • How’s business?

If you are to put these questions in your professional or personal work, it might be easy to answer the first question. But the second one?

So, how’s work these days?

Some might say, “I’m bored to death.” “I feel empty.” “I think I’m lost and find no meaning here.” “All I got here is just a JOB–Just Over Broke.”

Can you identify with these? If so, let me encourage you to become better in whatever you do.

1. Go Back to the Source.

Life and work are like driving. When you’re lost, one of the best ways is to go back where you’ve begun, especially if you don’t have GPS.

Thankfully, we do have a spiritual GPS–God’s Principles for Success at work and business.

There are two very important concepts here:

A. God created the world and everything in it, therefore, He technically owns everything.

The truth is, if you realize that God is the ultimate source of everything good and the one who causes all things to grow you’ll change your perspective in everything you do.

B. People can separate their spirituality from work, but we can never separate our work from God

Some people have the idea of the separation between the secular and the sacred. But if a person is a genuine Christian, he or she cannot separate work from spirituality.

Since God is all-present, the thought of excluding God from our workplace is a double-standard between our faith and practice.

The challenges in not recognizing God at your work are serious. If you cut-off God from anything you do at work, what could you expect? Do you think God’s blessings will continue to flow?

2. Get Your Eternal Significance.

God ordained work to serve a better purpose. He originally appointed work as a mutual and dynamic cooperation between God and humans.

Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos [Paul’s fellow worker] watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:6-7).

Everyone knows. The farmer does not create seeds or cause these things to grow. He does not make land and water or cause the Sun to shine or rain to shower. Only God does.

However, it is the farmer’s role to cultivate the ground, plant the seeds, take care of the garden and field, and do the harvest. Both God and the farmer must work together.

If you regain that dynamics in your work, that God is your partner, you will think and do things differently. You will have a new sense of purpose that everything you do is to please God.

As the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). Indeed, whatever you decide to do, do it all for the glory of God.

3. Grow for a Total Success

Most, if not all, wanted to have success, regardless of how everyone defines it. But reality shows we don’t win always. Sometimes we experience challenges, setbacks, failures, and more.

The question remains is on what you do when those things come.

The Bible says. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Prov 16:3).

Plans are far from perfect. Sometimes we need to make adjustments along the way. But in order to succeed, we need to trust and do things God’s way.

Here are my checklists for a dream work and business.

  • Spiritual: Is this work in line with God’s purpose for my life? Is God using me and is glorified in this work?
  • Physical: Is this work promoting my wellbeing and health? Is this business making me physically healthy?
  • Emotional: Do I love doing this work or business? Am I passionate in what I’m doing?
  • Intellectual: Am I mentally growing in this business? Is this work making me mentally fit and not obsolete?
  • Marital: In what ways my marriage is cultivated in this line of work?
  • Parental: Is this work something my children can be proud of? Is this a work that makes me a good role model to my children?
  • Professional: Is this work or business advancing my professional and personal growth?
  • Social: What are my social responsibilities? Am I making a difference in my community or city or reaching out to people for God?
  • Financial: Is this work financially rewarding? Would this work or business worthy of my investment of time, effort, and resources to be a blessing to God, my family, others, and me?

My prayer for you is this: “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (Psa 20:4).

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Why You Cannot Out-Give God?

Let me share a mystery in life. I learned it from my late father. “Son,” he said when I was just a kid, “you have to honor God with your finances through your tithes and offering.”

I was a little businessman, a kid earning in little ways since 1st Grade. As I began to love giving my tithes and offering, the more I see that God is pouring out His blessings.

Since then–and now as a pastor–I’m a firm believer and practitioner of tithing and giving generously. Here’s why I love giving.

1. Begin With the Return in Mind.

Most, if not all, people believe in the principle of sowing and reaping. In fact, it’s plain common sense, even a child could understand.

When a farmer plants seeds, he shall reap more in due season. But adult people do (intentionally) neglect or forget this process. They try to complicate things they don’t like.

That’s why the apostle Paul reminded Christians. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will (not “maybe,” “perhaps” or “shall,” but “will”) also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

The truth is that sowing and reaping is a universal rule. It is not conditioned by time, culture or geography. Everyone can benefit from its certainty.

If you plant seeds of faith, you’ll reap spiritual blessings. If you cultivate positive thoughts, you get positive results. If you invest money, you gain financial returns and the like.

The only question is this: Are you going to plant more (and reap more abundantly) or plant less (and reap just a little on top of what you planted)?

2. Become a Cheerful Giver.

Let’s get this straight. God does not need our donations and surplus. After all, He owns everything we got. What could we possibly give that He does not own?

So why give?

The truth is, generosity is a matter of heart, while giving is a matter of conscience.

The Bible says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

A generous heart does not make a big debate on giving. It is natural, like a supernatural gift that flows from within. It is much more willing to delay gratification or make sacrifices when needed.

On the other hand, the act of giving is a demonstration of obedience to God or of the yearning heart. There is something in God’s universe that is inherently giving in that when one is always on the receiving end only, it dies.

Have you observed that we can actually give without love, but we cannot love without giving?

I firmly believe that your generosity is a reflection of your love. If you’re not yet convinced, just look at how you give to those you really love–be it for God, a spouse, a family member, special people or your self.

But this doesn’t stop here.

3. Be Blessed Abundantly.

If you’re a parent, you don’t want your kids to out-give you, do you?

The truth is God does not want to be a debtor to you or to anyone. In fact, for creating, giving, and sustaining life, God has given much that no one can repay.

Even in your work, businesses, and resources, God is the ultimate Giver and Master of it all. Either you recognize or reject that.

But there is more to a blessed life that leads to a generous heart. The more it gives, the more it receives, much more than it can imagine.

Take this declaration and promise of God for a moment (at least read it three times and reflect).

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (Please read it again.)

If that Word of God does not tell you anything today, prayerfully write it down and get back to it soon until something great happens or it becomes a reality for you.

For I have seen this. The more people think and act so tight in their tithes and giving, the more the blessings are so tight in coming. But those who are generous are usually more blessed in return.

So far, this one thing has not changed yet. You and I cannot out-give God. Even unbelief could not refute it.

Do you?

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Are You a Jesus Follower?

Don’t take this lightly. For Jesus didn’t.

He really meant business with you—if you really want to be a Christian or not.

Then Jesus told his disciples,” according to the Gospel of Matthew, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

1. Decide While You Can.

No one was actually born a Christian. That common notion must be dispelled. Jesus himself did not teach that, neither the whole Bible.

Perhaps many would claim that being born into a professing Christian nation or practicing Christian family qualifies one as a Christian.

There may be truth in it for a religion, but as far as Christ is concerned that may not be the case.

When Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me,” he was making a conditional offer to someone who has the capacity to make a decision for themselves. It’s not something everyone is born into.

Becoming a genuine Christian is to make a conscious decision to the invitation of Christ to be His disciple.

The truth is that people were born without any consciousness of who Christ is. They may have a certain level of knowledge of Him but it does not qualify them to be a Christian, like someone who knows about science to be a scientist.

The question is: When did you make a conscious decision to believe in Jesus Christ and be His disciple?

2. Disown One’s Self to Follow Jesus.

Majority of professing Christians may have faith in Christ, but not all are followers.

Remember. Jesus talked to the crowd as well as His disciples. If anyone truly believes in Jesus, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

The biggest challenge of someone claiming to be a Christian is the sense of self-entitlement and the right of self-ownership.

But Jesus radically called his listeners to completely “deny” those rights to self. They must realize that in order for them to become genuinely Christians, they have to disown themselves and submit to the total ownership of God.

Not only that, they have to “take up” the cross of Jesus. Don’t judge too quickly in thinking you’ll make a wooden cross and carry those beams behind your back.

In this context, to “take up” means if anyone truly wants to be a disciple of Jesus, that person must “lift up” the cause of Christ, “carry” the call to serve, and “bear” the demand of necessary sacrifices.

Ultimately, to be a genuine Christian disciple is to be a follower of Jesus.

3. Depend on Jesus All Your Life.

It’s more than just knowing the teachings of Jesus to be truly Christian; it’s about believing, learning, understanding, and applying it to one’s life.

As such, to be a follower of Jesus means to live in complete faith and obedience by pursuing Him in every way.

Such life is characterized by the constant living in Christ and for Him alone.

This is the context of what Jesus pointed out. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Why is that so?

It’s because God is the Creator and Intelligent Designer of life. Into facto, He owns it.

Anyone who keeps his right to self-ownership will eventually lose everything, even his soul. But he who kills that sense of self-entitlement and totally trust Jesus’ act of redemption at the cross will gain life—even life eternal.

So, are you going to gain everything or find nothing?

Glenn Plastina © 2018

Why Must You Have Wisdom? 

Why must you have wisdom? Why not just teach your family to be wealthy?

Perhaps your children will become successful someday. That’s one of the reasons why you want them to be at the best school you can afford, right?

The truth is, if you’re a parent, the most important teacher your child could have is you.

And the most important lesson you can give is wisdom.

The wisest king who ever lived said, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity” (Prov. 3:1-2 NIV).

Here are simple truths you can learn from the wise king himself.

1. Possess Wisdom.

If you want to have a great life, have godly wisdom. This is the underlining principle of the book of Proverbs.

A person or family who values wisdom will have all the edge for success.

Foolishness may seem to succeed for a while, but eventually it will fall and pass away.

If you want your family to succeed, teach first the power of the wisdom of God.

King Solomon knew this first hand. He was given choices to have power, riches, success, and everything a man’s heart desires. But he chose wisdom–and teaches wisdom to others.

For this reason, the wise King knew the knew that the greatest gift he could give to his heirs is wisdom.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart.” For wealth can be stolen and be gone, but with wisdom, one can regain everything.

There’s only a major challenge. You can’t teach what you don’t have.

If a person wants to teach wisdom, he or she must have it first before passing it on to others.

2. Prolong Your Life.

Have you ever wondered why people do something or get addicted on anything that would shorten their lives?

Or why despite the medical advances, people are very sickly and dying early?

While many get into physical activities and fitness for good reasons, others do it excessively at the expense of their lives.

Having the wisdom means a person respects God in whom everyone will be accountable for what he or she has done to the body.

If the person possesses wisdom, he or she will take good care also the body and avoids whatever would destroy such precious gift from God.

Teaching wisdom and obeying it are undeniably important “for they will prolong your life many years.”

Wisdom tells us that if people plant good seeds for life, they will reap good results in body, soul, and spirit.

If they abuse their bodies, eventually the body will give in return what has been planted. Even common sense could understand that.

3. Prosper in Every Way.

If someone asks you to choose between “health or wealth,” wisdom will tell you to choose both, not either/or.

Ancient wisdom teaches that wealth is both a gift and personal decision, not either/or. It means God gives wealth but it is also the choice of the person if he or she wants to be prosperous.

To prosper in biblical wisdom tradition is also not just about the mind, it also about massive action.

Wealth based on wisdom is better than folly.

Read for yourself in the book and you’ll consistently find out the truth that wisdom will not only prolong your life. It brings total well-being.

Wisdom gives a leading edge “and bring you peace and prosperity.” Again, it’s not either/or, but both peace and prosperity.

Wealth based on wisdom is full of peace, but riches full of trouble is not from God.

It’s because when God gives wealth, He does not usually include troubles in it that could shorten the life of the recipient.

Prosperity in the Bible is more than just financial riches. It means total growth and well-being of the person and family.

The biblical Judeo-Christianity is not a prosperity gospel, but there is a good news for prosperity in it.

It’s not the claim-it-you-got-it for the prosperity of the smooth sayer. But wisdom is an essential part of good success, the practical application of the truth with faith.

So, why not try wisdom? You have nothing to lose.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2017

What Can Tough Runners Teach Us?

Have you ever realized you were born to be in the game of life?

Life is a spiritual sport, although sport is not totally about life.

All of us are involved in this game of life. And that means there are athletes and there are those who remain to be audiences.

In life as a sport, there are players and coaches or winners and losers. Have you considered yourself to be a winner?

1. Run for the Prize.

There are many lessons we can learn about sports, whatever your favorite is. As for me, I like playing basketball, volleyball, and sprint.

I used to compete as a short-distance sprinter. And there were many life lessons I learned from it ever since.

It’s very interesting that the Apostle Paul used race running as a symbol of life. He says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

As there are many health benefits to athletic disciplines, it is unrealistic to expect that everyone will have equal shots and share equal benefits.

The truth is every athlete may be born equal, but they were not made equal.

The beauty of Christian life is that we are all born into God’s family and we all have extraordinary destiny.

When we go through the training of this life we run for the eternal prize that cannot be taken away from us. So, let us run the race to win.

2. Retrain Yourself.

There are many people who assume that they can be successful without investing significant time, giving resources, risking lives-and-limbs for proper training.

The Bible says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

We have heard the super cliche “No pain, no gain.” But that’s how life works.

Athletes have to strain their muscles to gain strength. But it is more than just putting yourself into a physical torture for nothing.

If an aspiring athlete wants to be the best, he or she must be prepared to experience pain with passion.

Through proper training, they, at least, avoid serious injury that would shorten their athletic dreams and aspirations.

On the other hand, every Christian must be willing to go through the proper training of life. Oftentimes it involves certain level of hardships, pain, struggles, hurt, frustrations, and losses. After all, God did not promise that life as a race would be easy.

And yet, how many Christians are forfeiting themselves during the game or losing sight of the real essence of it?

The most inspiring part of being a spiritual athlete is the opportunity to be trained and run for eternity–not just to run for something we cannot keep.

So if you think practice makes perfect, think again. You might want to reconsider the power of right practice and win forever.

3. Refocus on What Matters the Most.

Every Christian who considers himself a tough runner must be intentional and intensive.

To be intentional, he must be clear about his vision as well as direction. To be intensive, he must be courageous, disciplined, and persistent.

Running on a treadmill may train you, but it won’t get you nowhere unless you step out and go to the real track and field of life. We cannot even say, “do the ten mile run for me so that I’ll become a tough runner.”

Every follower of Jesus who has put on his running shoes must seriously consider:

  • Where am I heading?
  • Where am I right now?
  • How will I get there?

Paul himself is very intentional. He says, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly.”

Have you ever thought that this could happen to anyone—that someone is running through this life aimlessly?

In fact, there could be some who are running the wrong race?

It is easy to get sidetracked and be disqualified in any sports. Every sport has its own rules and regulations. These are not to restrict the athletes but to serve and protect the sport, as well as the players.

If anyone wants to be successful in any games, The truth is, he will never become succesful if he will not strive to change himself in conformity to the game amd play by the rules.

Anyone may be the best in his own field, but playing the game that is not yours is a formula for disaster.

We must realize. It is helpful to ask ourselves: “What sports am I in?” and “How’s the game so far?”

If you seriously consider these, you will be able to see the changes you need to do. Then, you will become what you really want to be—a winner.

Glenn Plastina (c) 2018

Meditations on 1 Cor 9:24-26 (NIV)

Can Pastors Really Make a World of Difference?

While I believe that people and professions do make a difference in their own rights, I’ll focus on the short reflection if pastors can really make a world of difference.

As the United States of America is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is easy to just take it for granted, spending the day having a vacation and shopping, or rest without reflections.

Let me challenge fellow leaders and pastors to reconsider the question.

1. Pastor a Church.

Interestingly, if you search the word “pastor” in your Bible, there is only one text that explicitly mentions it. It says, “So Christ himself gave…the pastors” (Eph 4:11).

It means pastors are God’s gift to the church. God called them—not by their choice or position but by His will—as pastors for who they are, what to do, and what to become in the church, locally and globally.

Even though Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a very prominent spokesperson of the civil rights movement in the US, he was primarily an American Baptist pastor. A man who is intellectually astute—and earned his doctorate degree in systematic theology—all his life he maintained Jesus Christ as his main influence.

Looking at the overview of his biography, King modeled his life as a pastor on Jesus’ teachings to “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

2. Pastor a Community or City.

Who would have thought that a pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, could make a difference—not just to the church but also—to the community or city?

For King, loving God and loving people is not just something personal. It is proactively public—and he is not ashamed about it. This is the underlying principle behind his approach to a nonviolent protest against racial discrimination not just among his congregants but the community as a whole.

As a preacher and proponent of civil rights activism, King’s ambition is not for political purposes but for “excellence in the Christian ministry” and his concern for “the whole man,” not just the soul.

Before anyone could change the community, a person must not start just from within oneself but also on where he or she is located in the community.

Unlike some Christ followers who think Christianity is confined as a “personal matter” in the four walls of the chapel, King’s understanding of Christian faith is different. His faith is also relevant in the marketplace, the community and the city.

King’s non-violent thought and method differ from Gandhi’s pacifist view on resisting evil. King’s method is motivated by doing the will of God, demonstrating Christ’s Gospel of love, and keeping the right of humans (who are created in God’s image) against the evil of dehumanization. It means the motivation is spiritual, not secular.

3. Pastor a Country.

King’s influence as a Christian leader grew like a ripple effect worldwide. His prayer is not just for his community but also for the great nation plagued by the spiritual disease of racial discrimination as a whole.

But unlike the timid expressions of faith and prayers for freedom on a personal level, heavily protected for egotistic self-consumption, King’s prayer is different. His dream is transformative and its effect lived beyond his very own existence.

King might have not lived to see his pastoral influence spreading to the whole country, but he is remembered in all the states of America now. His legacy on the human rights is remembered for a life of dignity and giving the loving service to others.

In fact, King’s life and contribution is also honored in the UK and other parts of the world.

This day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m reminded that a person who is ashamed of Christ and is not free to publicly share the Gospel of Christ is not free at all.

When Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of all “nations,” did he really mean “nations” like America, Philippines, Israel, etc.?

(Or out of safety-purposes and unbelief, let’s just twist it into “individuals,” “church members,” (or church members from other churches)—but never about a nation?)

Does the Great Commission have something to do with messianic Jesus’ title as the “King of kings and Lord of lords”?

Pastors, may God give us dreams bigger than ourselves!

Glenn Plastina © 2018