I want to introduce who’s speaking today. We have two speakers today for about 40 minutes. They’ll be speaking a total about 20 and 20. Caesar Lopez will be speaking. And Caesar Lopez became a disciple more than 30 years ago in Manhattan Beach, California. He was on the mission. He was a missionary for… See more
I want to introduce who’s speaking today. We have two speakers today for about 40 minutes. They’ll be speaking a total about 20 and 20. Caesar Lopez will be speaking. And Caesar Lopez became a disciple more than 30 years ago in Manhattan Beach, California. He was on the mission. He was a missionary for about 20 years and now is based in Los Angeles and doing an amazing job.
I got a chance to hang out with Cesar and talk to him and what a treasure he is for the kingdom of God and the other person speaking, he’ll actually be the first person speaking as David Lawson. David Lawson is a campus minister at the Valley Church. He serves alongside his work, his wife, and he’s been doing that for the last 16 years.
They have they have one son, Logan, who’s five years old, and they have been disciples for for 23 years. They both love the church and as for all the conversations I’ve had with David, it’s clear that he loves the next generation. And so I’m excited to invite up or invite on my new friends, David and Cesar.
Good morning, Valley Church, good morning, Broward Church. My name is David Lawson. I am the campus minister here at the Valley Church, and I am so excited for this opportunity to share from God’s word with you both today. I have been watching the Broward Church very closely during this time of pandemic, and I have just been so inspired by your faith, by how you guys are using your gifts to glorify God and and how you really kind of set an example for for all the churches, but particularly for us here in the church.
We’ve really been inspired by you and your worship and and just how you have kind of pushed the church forward in this very challenging time. And so I’m just really excited about this. I know I’ve been talking with Tony and getting to know him a little bit. And I really hope that this is an opportunity for us to build a friendship and connection with each other, even though we’re three thousand miles apart. You know, there’s not really a lot that is good about covid.
But one of the things that we have learned is that we can connect with churches no matter how far apart we are. We’ve got to got our clocks right. But once we figure that out, it’s all good. So I’m so happy to be here with you today. You know, I was talking with Tony, and as we were kind of preparing for this time, he was mentioning that you guys have just finished up a series and we’ll be heading next week into a series on the kingdom.
And it kind of works out for us, too, because we’ve actually just finished a series last week as well. And next week we’re going to start a series on the good news. And so as I was praying and thinking about what we could talk about, what we could do today, the name that kept coming to mind for me was John the Baptist. Right. He is the guy that, you know, proclaims the good news that prepares the way for Jesus who ushers in the kingdom of heaven.
And so it just seemed to me like John the Baptist was such a great way for us to to dive into the scriptures today. And it’s going to be a lot of fun. You know, I’m going to start us off. And then our lead evangelist says our Lopez is actually going to take over and talk about Jesus a little bit here. So once again, we’re just so glad to be worshipping with you today. If you’re here for the first time, whether you’re in Los Angeles or Florida or or wherever you’re at in the world.
Thank you for joining us. You’re really in for a special service today. You know, as I mentioned, we’re going to be talking about John the Baptist today. And and if you don’t know who that is, that’s OK. I’m going to give you a brief little intro to him. But I really want to talk about what his purpose in our story is and what we’re going to be talking about today. So we’re going to start reading today from Luke, Chapter three, and we start in verse one.
And this is what it says. In the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Phillip, the tetrarch of Ituria and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And so this is John Splash onto the scene.
Here he is. He is in his ministry. He’s in the wilderness. And, you know, there’s all this stuff about the kings that are ruling and the places they’re at. And and you can kind of go, why? Why do I have all that there? But what’s really cool that Luke is doing here that I think is so important for us not to miss is he is telling us who John is, not just his name, but he’s telling us what his role is.
And this language that we see here. Right. Placing him in a time and a place, letting us know who the rulers are around him. This is the tradition of the prophets, right? If you read Isaiah or Ezekiel or Jeremiah, Amos, Joel or whoever, they all start like this. You know, this prophet was here during this time, during this reign. And then it says the word of the Lord came to them or the word of God came to them or they had visions from God.
Right. Luke is telling us that John the Baptist is a prophet. A prophets main role was to convey the words of God to his people. Prophecy like predicting the future or miracles. That was part of it. But the main purpose of any prophet was to speak God’s word to his people in that moment, in that time, in that place. And that’s who John is, he is a prophet for the people of Judea, and he has a specific mission.
He is preaching about repentance that comes through the baptism and it goes on to describe who John is. A little bit further here. We read on as it was written in the words of Isaiah the Prophet, a voice of one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord makes straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in every mountain and hill made low. The crooked road shall become straight, the rough way smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.
You know, this was who John was. He was a prophet who was in the wilderness and he was crying out. He was called to make straight the paths. Right, because. Because this was the tradition. Right. If a king was going to to a new country or to new land or to visit on his other territories, he would send someone out before him to make sure the path was level. There were no obstacles, there were roadblocks, there were no obstructions and this is what John is doing, John is preparing the way for what we’ll soon learn is Jesus the messiah that is coming. He is making sure that there is no obstacle in the hearts of the people of Judea. He’s making sure that there’s nothing standing in the way of Jesus coming in the power to proclaim the good news and bring forth the kingdom of heaven. Right. This is who John is. He is a fiery prophet in the wilderness.
He lives off of locusts and honey. I mean, he is just a greedy dude, but he knows his purpose. He knows his mission. It’s so clear for him. You know, it goes on. The people are gathering and they’re wondering, they’re speckling who John is. And we read on here in chapter chapter three and verse 15. And it continues by saying the people were waiting expectantly. And we’re all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
John answered them all. I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I will come the straps of who sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn. But he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And with many other words, John extorted the people and proclaim the good news to them.
You know, the people were wondering who is John? Who could he possibly be? The Messiah that we’ve been waiting for our savior. And John knew exactly who he was. He’s like, look, I’m not that guy. In fact, that guy who’s coming, I’m not even worthy to tie his sandals. Right. My job here is to get you ready to make sure that you are repenting of your sin, that your hearts are soft, so that when he does come, he can bring forth the good news that is coming with him.
John had such a clear vision of what his purpose of what is role, of what his plan was for his life. You know, this year, twenty, twenty has been just a doozy. I don’t know about you, but I know for us over here it is it is not gone the way we expected it. We all probably had a way. We thought twenty twenty was going to go. Either way, we create resolutions, we put it on our vision board, our dream journal, whatever it was.
We had things that we wanted to see happen this year. Maybe this was going to be the year. Where you were going to give yourself fully to God. This was the year where you were going to to ask for that promotion at work or or find a husband or a wife. This was going to be the year. Where were you traveled around the world? Maybe you know specifically what I was going to be. But you were hoping that this year would be full of blessings and joy and then twenty twenty happens the way it does.
And here we are now. And what would seem so clear at the beginning, all of a sudden, it’s not so clear. It’s not so certain right now. It’s been seven months. I know here in California we’ve been pretty strict. Lock down the floor is a little different, but it’s been seven months where we haven’t been able to worship the way we want. We haven’t been able to connect the way we want. The some of us may have been experiencing great loss or tragedy in our lives or our families.
Some of us have lost income. And so maybe twenty twenty is not going the way you thought it was going to go. And and quite frankly, the prospects may not look that great going forward. And so it’s such a stark contrast from what we see in John here, because John, right, he knew what he was about. He knew what his purpose was. He knew where he was going and what he was to do. But then something happens in John’s life that I think parallels really close to the hours as well.
It goes on in verse 19 that says this.
But when John rebuked Herod The Tetrarch because of his marriage, the Herodias, his brother’s wife and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all. He locked John up in prison. So imagine that, John is this fiery prophet, he’s not afraid to challenge the authority, he’s calling the Pharisees hypocrites. He’s calling him a brood of vipers. He’s he’s challenging the people to to open up their hearts, to repent of their sins, to be baptized so that they can be ready for the messiah to come.
It was clear what his purpose was. And in that confidence, he goes after Herod the King, the ruler of the area and, you know, as a king is wont to do, he throws him in prison. He’s not happy with what John’s saying. And so now John finds himself in prison. He’s cut off, he’s alone, he’s isolated, he’s in quarantine, you might say. And I don’t know about you, but these past seven months have been very challenging for me.
They have taken me to places that I did not plan on going this year. I have found myself very much having a hard time to to navigate and fluctuating. Some days feel great and then other days feel terrible. You know, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. If you haven’t, what are you doing? You got to see that movie. It’s excellent movie.
But if you have this kind of film on the important parts here where the character of Bill Murray, he’s stuck in this time loop and he is is he’s living every day over and over and over and over. It’s the same day again and again and again. And at first he’s confused and he’s trying to figure out he doesn’t make sense, make sense of it. And then eventually he just kind of surrenders to it. It starts having fun and he learns to play the piano over the span of time.
And there’s a scene in there where where he actually he starts to give up. He starts to lose hope. Because it’s just the same day again, no matter what he does, it just starts all over again. And I know that’s how I feel right now. I feel like no matter what I do, no matter how great the day was prior or how bad the day was prior, I’m just starting over again and I’m stuck in this cycle and I can find myself doubting where at the beginning of the year I was full of hope.
I can find myself questioning God and where he’s leading me, where he’s leaving the church, when at the beginning of the year it was clear as day where he was going. I can find myself worried if I if I made the right choices or I’ve done the right things or if I’ve done everything I can to to keep the ministries connected or my family connected during this time, where at the beginning of the year it was all full steam ahead.
And I think we find out that John finds himself very much in a very similar situation as us, we read on actually now we’re going to Luke Chapter seven. And John has spent some time in prison and he’s been mulling over his life and the choices he’s made and the decisions, you know, that have led him to this point. And like many of us probably are doing now, we’re wondering, do we do everything? Have we done enough or are we giving ourselves to the right things?
And John’s wondering that about himself as well, because he sees the writing on the wall. He knows his time is short. He knows he’s going to die. And so he gathers his disciples to him in verse 18 that says this. John’s disciples told him about all these things, the things that Jesus was doing, calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?
When the men came to Jesus, they said, John the Baptist sent us to ask you, are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else? It’s a far removed from the fiery prophet in the wilderness proclaiming the coming of the Messiah at the end of his life, he’s reflecting. He’s wondering, did I do it right? Was the sacrifice worth it? Did I give myself over to the right person or is there someone else coming that I should be thinking about?
Is there some other thing I should have done that did I waste it all on on just some guy? And, you know, I don’t know where you find yourself this year, but I’m sure some of us, if not all of us, can relate to what John’s going through right now. You know, we find ourselves asking these questions, did we do it right? Did we make the right choices? Are we living the life? We can wonder, especially in times of crisis like we see now?
Is God still working? Is he still powerful? And by following the right guy or should be looking for someone else. And I just picture Jesus in that moment, and his response is so beautiful, it continues on here and he says this At that very time, Jesus had cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to his messengers, Go back to John and report what you have seen and heard.
The blind receive sight, the lame walk. Those who have leprosy are cleanse the deaf hear the dead are raised. The good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. And I just love this scene here because John is on the verge of of doubt and worry and fear, questioning whether he even made the right choice. And Jesus doesn’t respond in anger or in judgment. He doesn’t criticize him or lash out on him for doubting in his authority.
He connects with the pain that John is feeling. He understands what that isolation is doing to John. He understands what being separated from his friends, his family, his disciples is doing to John. He understands that question himself. Of course, he would ask that question right now. We all would at the end of our life, do we do it right? Do we give everything we had? And Jesus response is so powerful here because he’s like, look, go back and tell him the blind, see the dead or raise the deaf, hear the crippled walk.
The good news is being spread to the poor. You did not waste your time. You did not sacrifice everything for nothing. I am the Messiah. I am bringing in the good news. I am ushering in the kingdom of heaven here on Earth today.
And church, as we go forward, this is the attitude we need to have, right, because we have confidence in who Jesus is. We know the miracles he performed, right. Even in this time now where it seems like it’s dark and uncertain and scary, there are miracles that are being performed. We have seen baptisms here in the Valley Church. I’m sure you guys have in Broward. We have seen people who have who have left God and have walked away now returning to him, seeking him out again.
We are seeing doors open that we’re not open before we are. We are growing as a family, as I’m sure you are, too, in Broward. And so for us, the message now is to be John the Baptist because we are living in the wilderness. I don’t know if you watch the news at all. It is wild out there. And so just like John the Baptist, we now need to be the voice crying out in the wilderness, making straight the paths for the Lord, proclaiming the good news of Jesus.
Because not only do we have the miracles that we see that he mentions here that we know he’s done, we also know that he was resurrected from the dead after dying on the cross. And that is the good news. That is what the kingdom of heaven is about. And we are meant to be its ambassadors. We are meant to go before Jesus because he is gone, but he will come again. And so what we want to do now, our Church Valley Church, we want to make sure that we make straight the paths in our homes with our families in our own hearts.
We want to clear any obstacles in our communities and our workplaces and our schools. We want people to be prepared for when he comes again, when they have an engagement with Christ. We want their hearts to be ready to be soft, to be ready to receive him and his blessing to know that the good news is still good news even today when the world seemed so dark. That’s our role now. Broward Church, that’s our role now. Valley Church.
We are called to be like John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness. You know, Caesar’s is going to come up here in a little bit and he’s going to talk about Jesus and that good news some more. But but I have to say once again, I’m just so glad to have been able to share this with you. Church. I believe that what is to come next is going to blow the doors off of anything we’ve seen before.
If we can prepare the way if we can make sure it does pass, this is not forever. This COVID, this quarantine, this this political strife we find ourselves and this is not forever. And when God is ready to move, we want to make sure that those pathways to people’s hearts are wide open and clear so that they can receive Christ, that they can be repent of their sins, be baptized and brought into the kingdom, the family of God.
Robert, I hope to be able to to see you all one day in person, to speak with you, to hug you, to fellowship with you. Valley Church. I cannot wait to be back together again with our family here. We love you so much. Thank you for letting me share today. I gave you Cesar.
Thank you, David, for inspiring us with John the Baptist and Jesus and understand the importance of setting the way and preparing the way for good news, because there’s a lot of good news out there. And and good news today is that we’re able to worship with the broad church. And thank you again for this opportunity. We come together and dream together and and continue to be inspired by by what God is doing in our lives. And we’re so thankful for you, Tony, and for the church family out me out there and just being a great light to this world. And thank you again for the way you’ve inspired me in many ways. So thank for the lessons that I’ve learned, especially the last couple of months. And I hope that today will continue to help your family, our family and together and those all here for the first time to understand that God is moving powerfully in our world despite all the bad news we can hear that we do hear there’s good news.
And I wanted to share with you something I’m learning about and what helps that good news of God come alive and that’s understand the importance of the spirit of God, a living, a life that’s motivated, that’s moved by lead, and that’s filled with the spirit of God, especially as those who are following Jesus. You know, I want to share with you lessons I’m learning. And hopefully it’ll help you understand that God has a special plan for you and I.
Last week I had a Zoom reunion, and I know if you had any of those, but I was able to have a reunion with missionaries that we’ve been connected for over 30 years. And it was so cool to come together, catch up on life. We all served in Asia together. We all left America in our in our mid 20s to we had no idea what God was going to do. We gave up the American dream to go out there and just on our hearts to be able to pass on the gospel to to other nations.
And it was just really inspiring to be able to remember all that God has done, to remember all the lessons learned, the good and the bad, the tears, the laughs. But for the next couple of days after I kept looking at the picture and even praying for the couples there and and it really hit me, why am I so moved by this? And it dawned on me that on that picture and if you look there, there are three people there that helped me find God.
One of them was Kevin, a God who reached out to me. And he invited me to Bible talk for the first time at the University of San Francisco. The other guy, Kencho Circle there. He helped me study the Bible and get connected to the church in L.A. But a person that really impacted me was Jennifer de Perio, who is now Jennifer Lopez. And it really hit me that these people that God has brought together us to serve in the mission field also through these people that God used to help me find God.
And I’m thankful for that because it was a reminder that God has done some crazy things in my life. And that’s because of the Holy Spirit. And I want to talk to you about today, about the Holy Spirit. And you look at Luke, chapter three, verse twenty two. It says that the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove as Jesus is getting baptized. And from the sky says, You are my son who I love with you.
I am. Well, please. And after that, Jesus coming out of the waters of baptism and Luke Chapter four, verse one. Look what it says here Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit was led to the wilderness. Forty days to be tested. And praise God he overcame the test of temptation. And look what he says. After this, he begins his ministry and Luke Chapter four, verse fourteen. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the spirit.
And he goes to the synagogue and he picks up a scroll and look what he says right here. And this will be the main text of my portion of the lesson is that the spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And after he said that, he dropped the mic, you know what Jesus says?
He opens a scroll and he sees the reference there of Isaiah, chapter sixty one, verse one to two. And he’s saying, look what the prophet said. And you know what? It’s me. And to an audience that was so upset and the audience that didn’t believe in audience that were so caught up in a. Religion and a tradition in obedience. And yet now they hear someone named Jesus who they knew was a little boy. So it’s really me.
But he says something here that, you know, in and of itself, he couldn’t have said it only on his own strength. The Bible says that when he was baptized, a spirit descended, descended on him and said that the spirit helped them overcome the battle temptation in the wilderness. And he says right here that the spirit was he was full of the spirit. And what we see here is the spirit of God moving in Jesus. But he says also something here that’s a little more specific.
And we see that the spirit is also very intentional.
And he says right here that the message that I have right now is for the poor, both physically and spiritually, to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, those trapped by sin or anything that that prevents freedom to the blind, to the oppressed. So he’s talking to those who are in the heart, have no hope, but he’s speaking to those who are experiencing this type of oppression, blindness, poor and physically and spiritually. And he says that I have come to give them hope to help them out, both poor, physically, but also spiritually for those who are oppressed.
I have no voice to those that are blind, both physically and spiritually, that have some sort of physical ailment that makes them feel marginalized to the oppressed, to those who can’t protect themselves, to the widow, the orphan, the unborn and children oppressed by fear and worry. Difficult because the life experiences oppressed by society. And Jesus says that I’m here to give them hope. And he said, not next year, but now and he says now is the year of the Lord’s favor, as you reference, Isaiah 61 first wanted to see.
What we see here is that the spirit is intentional. And it’s really hit me because as I was reflecting all that God has done, as I was just remembering that that journey and the mission field, and now I just I’m blown away because I could see and I’m reminded that the spirit of God is powerful. But I’m here to tell you that sometimes we forget the spirit of God after Jesus, Lord of our lives, after we’ve been around for a while, after we’ve seen many great victories, answers, prayers here and there.
And I question and I ask you this question today, are you really in all of the spirit of God in your life? And I say that’s very important because Luke Axia makes it very clear to us today, 20 twenty how important the spirit of God is and the spirit of God has shown, I’m with you, I love you. I can help you overcome the temptations. I can give you the power to overcome anything. And also that I’m here, that the spirit of God is here for a purpose, that I want people to understand that there are loved.
And I want people, especially specific people, to know that someone cares about them.
And the audience that Jesus was speaking to didn’t care. About those people that Jesus was pointing out. You know, I love this passage, and as Dave shared earlier about being prepared for the way and as we reflect on this passage here in Luke and seeing the spirit move powerfully, it’s important for us to understand that there still a lot of good news out there that needs to be communicated to this world that is bombarded with bad news. But how does it come?
How can they understand? The good news is by funding, understanding. You and I have a message, but also that the spirit of God is guiding us to places, to people, so you and I can help them see and hear the good news of Christ. And I love the passage because he was very specific on what Jesus says right here as to the poor, you know, what does that mean to those who are physically poor? Yes.
But those who are spiritually poor. And and what does it mean to be spiritually poor? Anyone that doesn’t know the promises of God and and the plan of God, they’re missing out in life. I love what it says right here. The spirit is intensely says to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, those that are trapped by sin or anything that prevents them from feeling free and Christ to to the blind to to those who are experiencing physical ailment that prevents them or helps them feel marginalized or different or less of a person.
And also those who are blind spiritually, those who say they can see but really can’t see the power of God and God’s love to those that are oppressed, to those who can’t protect themselves, the the widow, the orphan, the unborn and children, those who are oppressed by fear and worry, those who are oppressed by the difficult life experiences, those who are oppressed by society.
See, we see the spirit of God doesn’t only show us how much God loves Christ here loves you. Show us how the spirit of God has let Christ to overcome any kind of temptation and how can help us overcome temptations. Sin. But also we see here and the spirit of what David was talking about. The good news is that the spirit also guides us because it’s very intentional, specific, has a plan. And what Jesus reference then is. Now is the year the laws favor.
You know, the spirit of God is intentional, and what do I mean by that, as we read in the scriptures, it’s there to affirm that God is with us, that God loves you, that God can give you the power to overcome anything. But he also wants us to understand that the spirit of God wants people to understand that they’re loved and that someone cares about them. And that was that was challenging to the audience back then, because they knew the right things to say, but they didn’t have the heart, they knew the importance of obedience, but they didn’t know how to love and they didn’t know how to care so much.
My question to you is this.
In our time of today, where there’s so much bad news in our time today, where you turn on TV, I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll bring you down. My question to you is this are you willing to allow God to use you to bring good news to people?
And if so. You’ve got to let the spirit guide you. So how do you do that? How do you let the spirit guide you? And I’m sharing this with you for someone who’s been around following Christ for 30 years, that times I can forget and get caught up in the routine of what life is supposed to be as someone following God and lose the heart. And as I refer to the pitch, I was I was reminiscing with I learned something.
How do we allow the spirit to lead us again? And especially in bringing the goodness of the people and specifically caring for other people. You know, what you can do is take time to remember where you came from, what life was like without God. So easy. We could look at the scriptures, the poor, the oppressed, the blind, the captive, and we could think of the other person. But you know what? We’ve got to think about us first.
And I remember as I looked at a picture, I remember what life was like without Christ.
And being brought up in the family business, I started when I was eight years old and we were in hotels and restaurants, got to the point where Pop’s being the only boy said, this is all for you. As I got consumed with the family business, yes, knowing that it’ll be for me one day, but really I was inspired because I wanted to get close to my dad. And as business grew and as the business expand, I remember him saying that business is good.
But what’s going to help you go further, son, is when you get into politics. So I said, Dad, you said, I’ll do it. So that was my dream, was to one day go back and run for office in the Philippines. But see how long that journey and wanted to be close to my dad. There was a lot of tension when business went well. We were close when business didn’t go well. I was the blame when when I wanted to be close to my dad.
I knew the only way I could do it is when I know that the business is going well. So what happened was I ended up resenting my father to the point that I hated my father. It was a love hate relationship and we had very strong, deep, abusive, emotionally, physically arguments with each other. And I said one day I’m going to grow up and I’m going to run you out of business because this is what’s important to you.
And all I wanted was a relationship with you, but I couldn’t because the business and I became very bitter. And in the back of my head of wanting to become a president for the Philippines, one day I started plotting my route and I ended up realizing that I need the right person if I’m going to be the president, I need the right woman. So I met this girl, Jennifer, and I said, she’s the woman for me. She’s going to be the first lady one day.
And she was in beauty pageants. And I said, whatever you do right now, understand we’re going to prepare for the future. We went to college together. We became college sweethearts. But what happened was, is that along the way we went to church, we did all the right things, but we fell into a lot of sin and to the point that one day she told me that she was pregnant and I said, we can’t have the baby right now.
We’re on the trajectory of our dreams, our goals. It’s better to have an abortion.
And without thinking, I said, let’s just do it. The sad part is that she wanted to keep the baby, but I was so consumed with self, so consumer. What success was that?
I didn’t bother. And I remember taking her to the clinic and leaving, pretending everything’s OK. But I could tell she was really crush and. Hurting because she wanted to keep the baby. That, you know, when you hurt you and you sin like that, you can’t do anything but keep yourself, keep your heart hard.
And that’s what I did. I said it’s going to be fine. What do you want to take you shopping? What do you want this? I’ll buy you a car. What do you want?
And what happened was my heart started getting harder and she started getting more sad. She started getting more she started having less hope in our relationship. So what happened was in college, someone invited her to Bible talk and she went and she called me and she told me that I’m going to a Bible talk and I’m studying the Bible and I am going to become a disciple of Jesus. And by the way, you’re not a Christian and you’re going to hell.
And that really blew me away. And I said to myself, who is this woman being poisoned by? So I remember going to her church shortly after that to have a fight with the people that are poisoning her. And I went and I was blown away. As I walked into the San Francisco church, the message was very pointed to me. I said, who told this guy, I’m coming?
He’s talking about sexual morality. He’s talking about the family business. He’s talking about how he gave it up and living a pure life as someone told the guy that I was coming. You know, that’s how it is sometimes, you know, when we’re far from everything, it’s all about us. And I was shocked afterwards. I was amazed that people sang the songs. They knew the words. I was amazed that people were coming up to me and just hugging me and asking me to go out for lunch.
I’ll never forget how many times I was asked to go out for lunch that day. But see, afterwards I said, no, I’m going to the car and I’m going to go fly back to Los Angeles. I don’t like this.
I was very I try to put on the hard look. But deep down inside I was in the car, said this is something powerful, it’s just something different. So I went down to L.A. and I made a phone call, can you introduce me to somebody that I could check out the church here?
I did, Kencho, and after that, I studied the Bible two weeks later, two weeks later in Manhattan Beach, November 4th, 1990. I remember taking my good confession, singing songs. And I’ll never forget what the the person who studied the Bible and brought me to the waters of baptism said is that now I could baptize you, all your sins are going to be forgiven. And you know what? You’re going to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So the gift Holy Spirit. So I came out to warn us about this. I was so excited. The cross of Jesus changed me. And after that. Two years later, we moved to the Philippines. That woman, Jennifer, became my wife. That Jennifer changed my life. That guy can’t chow, we’re on the mission fields together. That guy Kevin, who reached out to me, Univers, San Francisco. Here we are on the streets of the Philippines saying, how do we get here?
What are we doing?
But we knew only one thing is that Jesus changed our life and we’re living by the spirit of God. I got to the Philippines. Big difference from America. And two months later, my dad ended up following Christ, too, and that was a miracle. Here’s my dad, who I hated.
And I remember I called him after I was baptized. I love you, Dad. And he said anything. And then he was blown away when I was moved to the Philippines. But he was even more blown away when he made the decision to follow Jesus.
And he was baptized, man, it was so special, he got up on the wall and we hugged each other for a long, long time. We don’t have the family business anymore. I didn’t have the nice cars anymore, I didn’t have the dream anymore to be the president of the Philippines, but I had things that money couldn’t buy. I had things that only can come of God, forgiveness, reconciliation with my dad, because he not only my dad became a Christian, but my mom did as well.
And my sisters, the people that worked at our family business became Christians. Our friends and family became Christians, our relatives in the Philippines, many of them became Christians. And I look at that and I say, how did that happen? It was just God. My father passed away three years after that, and I could never forget him and he didn’t. He passed away not having all the things that he had. And I think about it and I remember I remember all that we had.
I remember all that we we desired. I remember the dreams he had for me. None of that was there was nothing can compare to the love that we had for each other in Christ.
So here I am 30 years later, here I am trying to do my best because here I’m going, ups and downs, here I am. At times, feeling discouraged or times think that I make the right decision. Could I have that if I took this course in life and here I am. At times, understanding that I can easily forget the most important thing, the most powerful thing in my life that helped me change my life was the spirit of God.
See, the spirit of God is powerful, but what have we got to do?
We got to be able take time to remember where we came from. Remember what life was like without God, and especially if you bit older a little longer, you got to take a little more time to do that.
And when you do so, you’ll you’ll get the heart that God wants you to have. And when you have the right heart, a soft heart, the spirit of God will guide you. You’ll be able to listen to the spirit of God. You’ll be able to participate where the spirit of God wants you to participate today. And you know what thing is that? You’ll understand that the best is yet to come. You know, when we finish that phone call, that Zoome reunion, there was a cool thing that happened and said, what can we do together again?
How can we help out more people? There was a camaraderie and that relationship was a camaraderie as missionaries that served together that, yes, we went through so much. But then we understand that the best is yet to come. Why? Because the spirit of God is moving and the spirit of God wants you and I to remember. The good news we understand is very intentional. Wants us to show that we still care for people. So I hope that today helps you that whatever tension you’re feeling in your life, that’s an invitation the spirit got to move now, whatever frustration you may be experiencing.
That’s the spirit of God saying, come here, come closer. Let me show you what I can do, but take time to listen to the spirit, be open to me, engage in the spirit, be open to participate in what the spirit of God is doing right now in your life, in your community, in your family. And how can you do that is sometimes takes time to remember where you came from. Remember the path of the cross.
And I pray that through the lesson that you’ve heard today, that preparing the good news through the understanding that the spirit of God is moving, that you will see that today, this year, 2020, is the Lord’s favor by bringing the good news to the people around us, by being prepared and being led by the spirit, the best is yet to come. We thank you so much. I pray that today inspires you to understand that God loves you and wants the world to know that God loves them to.
Thank you. God bless you. At this time, let’s pray for our communion, father, we’re thankful for what Jesus did for us at the cross.
Humble and reminded that without your love for us, we don’t know what life would be.
And we take this time to remember and examine our hearts, to be reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus took upon himself so we can be forgiving of our sins to be reminded that the blood that was shed purifies us. We’re thankful for this opportunity. We can commune with you. And I pray that we can remember, examine and also be renewed. And thank you for just the God that you are that gave us your only son because you love us. We love you in return by living a life that reflects Jesus Christ.
And we pray Amen.