Cultivating A Passion for God Through Reading

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We had our laymen and women fellowship last August 17 which we focus on the theme Passion for God. The whole day affair was a blessing to us as we share the preaching and fellowship within our sector.

In the afternoon session, we had an open forum. We were grouped into four then we discuss questions pertaining on how we can develop a passion for God. Each group presented their answers in front of everyone. The afternoon was well spend with insightful and engaging discussions.

As much as the thought exchange went well, I feel that I have to share something since we are nearing at the end of this quarter fellowship. The open forum did miss out some questions our speaker provided. And something that is near to my heart was not raised out. So I ask our chairman if I can speak to answer a specific question. The question is about reading and resources that read to ignite our passion for God. So I gave brief talk probably 5 minutes about nurturing a passion driven reading habit. I wish I could have spoken for couple more minutes but I don’t have much time. But if they did allowed me to elaborate further, my response might be like the one below.

Cultivating a Passion for God Though Reading

In response to one of the questions our speaker gave us which is dear to my heart, I would like to share 3 things that could help in the pursue of God through the habit of reading.

It depends on what is accessible to us.

We might blame the internet for the collapse of the record store industry or an impending doom over physical book shops however the internet made something unthinkable. We can access music and literature online free. What can take days or weeks to access is now just on click away. The internet, though slay the physical stores, it offers something revolutionary in digital proportions!

It might be a happy ending then for us who hunger books and music then again what happen?

Just when the internet makes classical music accessible, what did we do?

Just when the internet makes poetry accesible, what did we do?

Just when the internet makes some Christian books accessible what did we do? We turn to social media. Messaging boards and chat rooms were the precursor of the social media today. We consumed them then moved on to Facebook and Twitter.

So how can we built a passion for God through our reading materials when we dont access the good stuff? How do we create good habits when we don’t avail those vast resources in the internet? How can we contribute our reading habits? Make the internet work for you. You have no excuse because of the bulk of materials that are few click away are at your disposal.

It depends on how we view reading.

In the Philippine context, we are not a reading culture. This doesn’t mean we dont read or we are illiterate, it just mean that reading is not in our blood. Reading here is a sub culture.  If I will look back on my childhood days, I can see all the magazines and comics I enjoyed.  I think this is the golden age of reading (late 70’s to mid-90’s) because we buy newspapers and when we go to our neighbor, we devour magazines, comics, songhits and pocketbooks to our hearts desire. Publishing houses are dishing out reading materials here and there. Booksales (the popular second bookstore) are everywhere. Those where the days as they say. Then the internet came and almost obliterate the publishing industry in the Philippines. It also took toll on how we value reading. Suddenly we became too lazy to read.

Then there’s was the emergent of Wattpad that gave us teens and young adults that read books (and also writes). For me that resurgence really made a mark and push people to read. Book fairs and comic conventions are booming is another factor to take note. But thats not enough.

Pinoy Christians should view reading as a discipline, a skill that we need to be learned and to focus on. Again, it’s not in our blood to be readers and it will take a time and effort to put it in our system to be a good reader, nevertheless it’s attainable. We can create a good habit of reading that will be beneficial to us. Reading that is not just for entertainment, but a more of empowering ourselves to pursuit a passion for God.

Social media, with all of it’s benefits to us wouldnt help us achieve that focus. We allow Facebook updates and Tweets to distract us for doing what matters most. It’s an instant gratification because it magnifies our narcissism. Maybe it’s time to lay down our phones and get something to read that in the long run will benefit us and the church.

It depends on what we are willing to let go.

Purposeful reading does have competitors. One of those rivals is Facebook. Rather that occupy ourselves with books that will glorify God we substitute it with something that will glorify ourselves. Not that Facebook is evil in itself but how it robs and distracts us of our time to allocate it to things that matter. Having said that, as believers are ready to give it up for the sake of reading for the Kingdom?

Another one is the TV shows that is a staple to our Pinoy culture. Phenomenal shows like Ang Probinsyano, The General’s Daughter and tons of K-Drama will keep us occupied the whole night. Are we willing to cultivate beneficial reading over Ricardo Dalisay?

We only got 24 hours everyday and sleeping already had a chunck of it. So how do we spead our time? Sacrificing distraction for something beneficial should be our priority.

In the church setting, it’s the responsibility of the pastor to teach his members to be good readers. How do the pastor do it? Recommend good books by mentioning it to the pulpit. Quote some of it on your sermons. Set up book reading clubs. Give books as gifts to special occassions to you members. Deliberately point out the negative effects of social media. Suggest time management. And on and on we can go with all of this. The point is, reading with the endgame of knowing God more matters even in our reading habit. May God bless us all as we take steps to attain this noble pursuit.

The Digital Round-Up # 23

myptv2kHey folks! Prepare for another round of the “The Digital Round-Up” as we serve you interesting articles, freebies and videos. And if you’re enjoying this stuff, please do tell us on the comment section. So buckle up and enjoy the thrill.

FREE “CHANGED: #oncegay stories” – is an ebook  compilation of 40 people who left homosexuality and found happiness and fulfillment outside LGBTQ circle.

Wigs and Wisdom – Its not just a fashion statement by men in the 18th century but a sign of something we ought to be. Are we willing to “wear” it again in this 21st century?

Let their books raise the questions – an excellent article that lets the secular book  raise important inquires on eternal matters.

Double the Trouble if You Ignore the Context – in interpreting the Bible, we need to remember the importance of context.

How to Remember What You Read – David Qaoud gives us 4 ways to ensure we get the most out of reading.

18 most recognizable book covers and fun facts about them – iconic books that has memorable covers.

3 Reasons you’re more productive in coffee shops – some of my blog post are done in Figaro , and in some ways this article is true.

 

 

The Quotable Round-Up #21

Here are the freshest quotes from your favorite Christian authors. May this bring encouragement to you throughout the week. Enjoy!
“Truly God is love. Love is not something adventitious; it is not something that God may choose to be or choose not to be. He is love, and that necessarily, inherently, and eternally. As God is spirit, as he is light, so he is love.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“It’s safe to say, that although we can observe God’s handiwork, we cannot observe him. This is one reason why some people think science and religion constitute entirely separate realms. Science studies what we can observe; religion—insofar as it regards God himself—obviously does not. But this characterization is wrong. For one thing—and most importantly for us here—not everything we learn from science can be observed. No one has ever observed an atom or seen the earth move. Yet it is entirely reasonable to believe in atoms and the earth’s motion.” —Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith in the Head

“It cannot be said that God demands a double payment of the same debt. For the law binds the sinner both to obedience and punishment, as is said above; and the actions and sufferings of Christ do not constitute a double payment, but both together constitute one payment; one unique righteousness, by which deliverance from death and a right to life have been acquired for us.”
–Francis Turretin, The Atonement of Christ

“The love of God from which the atonement springs is not a distinction-less love; it is a love that elects and predestinates. God was pleased to set his invincible and everlasting love upon a countless multitude and it is the determinate purpose of this love that the atonement secures.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“As Christ, by the obedience of his life, has rendered to the law that which it required of us, and to which we were otherwise personally bound; so by this obedience he has satisfied the law, as to those demands which it makes upon us: and hence his active obedience partakes of the nature of satisfaction. Again, as his passive obedience proceeded from unspeakable love to us, and as love is the fulfilling of the law, we cannot deny but it was meritorious, and of the nature of a price of redemption, by which a right to life has been acquired for us.”
— Francis Turretin, The Atonement of Christ

“Perhaps this unwarranted confidence in evolution is the result of desperation. Humans—as Aristotle noted—desire to know. They especially want to know things like where humans came from and what they’re here for. And evolution offers one explanation—the only explanation in sight for atheists. Because evolution has the market cornered, atheists really want to make this theory work.” —Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith in the Head

“We do not grant that Christ gives us any power to atone for ourselves. Such a supposition receives no countenance from Scripture, and is contrary to the very nature of an atonement. It is one thing to make satisfaction, another to give the power to make satisfaction.”
— Francis Turretin, The Atonement of Christ

Book Review: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

                                     photo courtesy of CLC Philippines

Finally a Bible commentary you will actually read! Wait what?! We “read” commentaries? Of course for us “reading” a commentary might mean checking a Bible verse in a Matthew Henry and see that it (especially if we are preparing a Bible study or sermon) agrees with what we think the verse means. But to actually “read” it as in get the book, find your reading spot and spend an hour absorbing the commentary is another thing. Rarely do we do that. But with the “The Wiersbe Bible Commentary” you can enjoy it as if it’s a regular Christian book.
This commentary collects his popular “Be” series that are less technical, easily accessible and easy to understand. Well when we say Weirsbe dropped the theological jargons and can be appreciated by anyone it doesn’t mean its has no depth in content. In the contrary it covers a lot of grounds including biblical principles and apologetics. “The Wiersbe Bible Commentary” is relevant and up to the challenges of this current generation.

This is the zenith of Wiersbe’s work all bound in two volumes, now locally published with a gorgeous cover and a very affordable price. If you’re a newbie in using commentaries, this commentary is a great start. If you’re a pastor who wants a sharable resource to the congregation, this one is the best. If you’re a fan of his “Be” series which you collect by going to Booksale or receiving it as a Kindle freebie over David C. Cook now it’s the time to own a physical copy. Guarantee it won’t collect dust in your bookshelf.

5 Confidence Boosters for 2016 (and 4 Ways To Thank God For It) Part 3

The best way to thank a gracious God is through our godly actions that will make a difference in our lives and to others. Here are 4 of them that will not only thank God but cultivate a grateful heart towards Him.

  • Flee from idols and false gods

“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains.” Isaiah 40: 18-19

 

Never lower your view on God. We may not worship carved images but we can put an idol aside from God on the altar of our hearts. Knowing that the God of the Bible is the true God flee to the gods of our own devices.  Follow the God of the Bible that gives true and lasting confidence.

  • Incline to His counsel always

“Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge,and showed him the way of understanding?” Isaiah 40: 13-14

 

Remember that human knowledge is limited and changeable. But God’s wisdom stretch from age to age. Seek His counsel that He is willing to give when we come to Him.

(to be concluded next week…)

Made in Japan: Delighting Grace Interviews Ryo Azumi Author of Manga Bible

Manga and anime has been a staple to our pop culture. Watching and reading those imports from Japan is something every Pinoy enjoyed during their childhood (and even as adults). Aside from those big eyes and funk hairs are unforgettable stories that still captivates our imagination. Ryo Azumi author and illustrator of the bestselling “Manga Bible” tells us something about manga and everything in between in this brief interview:
Delighting Grace: Hello Miss Ryo, so tell us what’s the difference between a manga and other forms of comics?
Ryo Azumi: It is very important to express the feelings of the characters in the manga. So the face of the characters are being deformed, tend to draw eyes bigger. Because “eyes” are most important part to express his/her emotion. Panel layout is another feature of manga. It’s elaborated. Manga expression is based on the cinema.
Delighting Grace: What you think are the reason manga or anime won the hearts of the Western culture?
 Ryo Azumi: It is the mystery. When I was young, manga was a domestic subculture in Japan, I did not imagine that manga become world-wide. I also did not imagine “sushi” become world-wide.
Delighting Grace: How did you start writing and drawing manga?
Ryo Azumi: I was a very introverted girl, so I started drawings from very young age. Love books and drawings rather than playing outdoors.
Delighting Grace: Can you share with us the process of creating the Manga Bible? What’s your favorite part of the project?
Ryo Azumi: Request → Discussion → Plot making → Storyboard → Rough sketching → Inking → Painting.
My favorite part is “King David”. If “project” means “process”, every parts were hard to me.
Delighting Grace: How did you come to know Jesus Christ?
Ryo Azumi: One of my uncle was a Catholic. He showed me some beautiful pictures of Jesus when I was very young. After that, my friend of a primary school (or kindergarten?) invited me to Sunday-school.(Protestant church) Through the long interruption period, I was back to the church.
Delighting Grace: How do Christians strive in Japan which is so heavily influence by Shintoism and ancestral worship?
Ryo Azumi: It’s a difficult question. I think it is different by living in community and home environment. Shintoism is closely related to social community. Generally, community tie is not strong in the big city. Urbanites does not much interfere with the others. In my case, I was born and raised in Tokyo, so there are no problem. (In addition, my family already had a Christian uncle whom I mentioned.) But, I guess, Christian life in the provinces might be not easy in Japan. By the way, it is a natural feeling for the Japanese to respect the ancestral memorial. It is not always “worship.”
Delighting Grace: Can you give some helpful tips for folks who wants to draw manga? Also for manga artist who wants to get their works publish, what advice can you give to them
Ryo Azumi: Draw intently. Do not become complacent. See your work objectively. And enjoy.
Delighting Grace: Please invite them to get your books and how do fans get in touch with you?
Ryo Azumi: Here are the links that can be helpful if you want to connect with me:

Book Review: Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson

This book reminds me of my time in graduate school. Our professor is teaching us the topic about conflict in the business setting. I learned a lot in that subject but still I find myself wanting. What was left out in the discussion is the biblical principle of conflict. This book handles the topic from the root, causes and solution and many many more. Sande is an expert on this area and few authors do take on this sticky issue.

This small book is dripping with biblical principles that it’s not just another “run of the mill” relationship book. Taking the subject of conflict opens up others issues like forgiveness, disagreement, admission and restoration. Those are sensitive issues attached to conflict. However, “Resolving Everyday Conflict” answers them head on with the gospel and God honoring intentions. Truly this is a unique book that you’ll pick up.

“Resolving Everyday Conflict” endeavors us response to conflict with a biblical perspective. After reading this you’ll gain godly insights on conflict that will lead you to see that it’s on just ending the problem but creating a unity and harmony among the people around you.

The Quotable Round-Up #17

A useful hack to give yourself the 20 minutes time to read (which according to studies is essential) is reading while riding a public transport. If you’re not planning to take a nap on a bus, it will be cool if you can pull out a book or Kindle. But be sure you won’t miss your destination! Lets continue our discussion next week but before we wrap up here are our weekly quotes:
“Do you know what the Spirit-filled life is? It is living every moment as though you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ!”
–John MacArthur Jr.
“The Spirit-filled life is nothing more than living in the conscious presence of the indwelling Christ.”
–John MacArthur Jr.

“You say you do not know what God’s will is,but I’ll tell you what it is.Above all it is that you know Christ and then that your neighbors hear about Christ.That is His will.”
–John MacArthur Jr.

“If I want the words of eternal life, there’s only one place I can go to get them to the One who gave His life, that we might live.”
— R. C. Sproul

“It is at the Word of God that you and I are rescued from spiritual nothingness and made alive to the things of God.”
— R. C. Sproul

“What many people call “psychological problems” are simple issues of idolatry. Perfectionism, workaholism, chronic indecisiveness, the need to control the lives of others—all of these stem from making good things into idols that then drive us into the ground as we try to appease them. Idols dominate our lives.”
— Timothy Keller

“Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us, to glorify and enjoy him and to enrich the lives of others.”
— Michael Horton, Ordinary

The Quotable Round-Up #16

In a recent article, 20 minutes of reading a book everyday makes a big difference in one’s life. If you don’t have the time to read why not include in your quite time. Instead of a devotional book, you can finish it with a book that can meet your spiritual need. A chapter will do. Currently I’m reading “God at Work” by Gene Edward Veith which has been profitable to me. I hope you will try it to and see the impact of it on your life. Lets continue the discussion next week on how to give 20 minutes of your daily time in reading and as promised your weekly dose of quotes:
“Everything, in all its exquisite and intricate details-things that others may consider trivial but are important to us-is governed by the overruling hand of God.”
–Derek W.H. Thomas
“Through highs and lows, better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, when Christ becomes your all. A gospel-shaped life fills every space it takes with unconquerable faith and unfailing love.”
–Matt Chandler
“God wants us to offer ourselves to Him, turn from the ways of the world, and be transformed. Then we will have something, better than special revelations and words about the future-we’ll have wisdom.”
–Kevin DeYoung
“God’s Word is living and active. When we read the Bible, we hear from God with a confidence we find in no other book and from no other voice. We ca read the Scriptures knowing that this is what the Holy Spirit says.”
–Kevin DeYoung
“Wisdom is knowing God and doing as He commands. Foolishness, on the other hand, is turning from God and listening to yourself.”
–Kevin DeYoung
“God never assures us of health,success,or ease. But He promise something better: He promise to make us loving,pure,and humble like Christ.In short, God’s will is that you and I get happy and holy in Jesus.”
–Kevin DeYoung
“The most important issues for God are moral purity, theological fidelity, compassion, joy, our witness, faithfulness, hospitality, love, worship, and faith. These are His big concern. The problem is that we tend to focus most of our attention on everything else.”
— Kevin DeYoung

The Quotable Round Up #6

Hello once again to our Tuesday habit, “The Quotable Round Up”. Before we dive in to the 7 outstanding quotes, I would like to ask for your prayers in various matters. Please pray for my health, salvation of my love ones, our ministry online and offline, people who we are leading to the Lord and our church members. May God grant our prayer request as you join us in our prayers. Here are the 7 quotes for the week:

“The most useful Christian life, therefore, is the one lived near to God.”
–Iain H. Murray

“Assurance is not something that we work for; it is something that we work from. How could we ever overcome the world if we were unsure of our relationship to God?”
–Warren W. Weirsbe

“True prayer is the by-product of our personal “love relationship” with the Father.”
–Warren W. Wiersbe

“Some people think the biblical doctrine of election is unloving. They suggest that because God has not chosen everyone for salvation, only some, then He is not loving. Yet, the very opposite is true. Because God loves, He chooses. Love by nature must be particular, specifically designed for a beloved. To love all the same without discrimination or distinction is to not love at all.”
–Anthony J. Carter

“If we are going to overcome the world, we must abandon the world’s standard for success. We must measure our lives by the things that God holds dear.”
–Warren W. Weirsbe

“If our Lord has looked ahead, he would have seen arrest, conviction, and death on a cross. Humanly speaking, it was defeat; but by faith, he saw it as it really was–victory!”
–Warren W. Weirsbe

“God does not need people or anything else in order to be glorious. He is glorious in himself and eternally self-sufficient. Yet in his grace, he deigned to share his glory with sinful man! And Jesus Christ was willing to lay aside his glory to die so that sinners, all of whom have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3: 23), might receive that glory.”
–Warren W. Wiersbe