The Why

Mike Archer

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Care Groups: Why You Need to be in One

Touching lives one heart at a time, changing the world one life at a time

What could be more fun and fulfilling than time spent in intimate conversation with a small group of friends about the One you love?

That’s why I love care groups. I believe everyone needs to belong to a care group at some point in his life.

Most Christian churches have care groups which consist of small circles of people of the same sex and age group who bond together on a regular basis and help one another reach their God-given destiny. This is a far cry from most “emotional support groups” or gangs that influence you to get drunk or get wasted and ultimately cause you to sink further down the hole of depression and emptiness. Care groups are different. And believe me, you need something like this in your life. I know I need this.

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I’m blessed to be a care group (CG) leader of a group of women who help one another in their personal adventures with God, sharing in the joys and triumphs of overcoming spiritual battles, the amazing insights and realizations, the precious lessons of life, and the sheer joy of revelation upon revelation of God’s amazing love as proven through actual experience time and time again. This, and a whole lot more, are the stuff that make care groups something to really look forward to each week, or each month, depending on the schedule.

Our CG meetings often churn out such precious nuggets of wisdom borne from experience that I’ve decided to write down each lesson as far as I could remember. Yes, I may be the leader of my group, but I do learn a lot from my CG members. In fact, I learn a lot more from them than they do from me.

Care groups push you out of a self-centered existence into a life meant for others.

So here’s my partial list of IGCG, or Insights I’ve Gained from my Care Group:

  • The power of praying for one another. I’ve witnessed how committed group members often make the happy discovery that praying for one another can be very powerful, as God rewards those who look out for others instead of focusing too much on their own needs. Care groups push you out of a self-centered existence into a life meant for others.
  • Faith can move mountains and cause floods to recede. The previous week was marked with torrential downpours that caused flooding in many areas. Two my CG members actually saw the flood instantly recede from their homes when they prayed and stretched forth their hands at the rising water.

Your personal struggles are not always about you. They’re about the people who will be blessed through you. That is the reason why every struggle is worth fighting for.

This reminded me of a the time when a storm hit a few years back, and I stood in our porch and stretched forth my hand towards my mother’s house nextdoor and prayed for her protection. The next day, I saw on Facebook how the strong winds had felled down the largest, sturdiest trees in our village, along with the roofs of some houses, while not even a single tree or plant in my mother’s yard had been affected. Amazing.

  • You can measure one’s spiritual temperature by his commitment to the care group. Whenever love gets cold, one could think of a hundred reasons and a million excuses not to come to the CG meeting.
  • Jesus meant for us to be motivated by compassion whenever we pray for healing to others. Because one could easily do that as an automatic gesture—without looking into the person’s eyes and actually feeling their need. This often happens when, for instance, a friend would ask you to pray long-distance, via text or private message, for the brother of her boss’ sister’s neighbor. Or for the mother of a classmate’s uncle’s cousin.

As much as possible, pray for healing in person and, whenever possible, go with a small group of other believers. The latter should prevent the possibility of people worshipping you as a superstar healer because they saw you lay your hand on the sick and he got healed. I’ve got a lot more to share about this, which deserves another blog post.

  • The gift of giving. I’ve always thought I had the gift of giving, just because I’ve always enjoyed giving to others and feeding hungry people. Lately, I realized I may not have that gift after all. That’s because I’ve seen people who are naturally inclined to give to others in need despite the fact that they had almost nothing. I mean, these people I am talking about do not even have enough money for their own needs. And yet, they give naturally—like it was second nature to them, willingly, automatically, without second thoughts. Now, these people obviously have that gift. I do not.
  • Working for the Kingdom can make you a constant target of the enemy.You don’t know how many times we’ve all battled against pains and sicknesses—all kinds of obstacles and hindrances that the enemy throws at you to cause you to become discouraged, doubtful, and depressed. Oftentimes, the enemy uses your loved ones and family members and emotional weaknesses to throw you off guard. These are things meant to delay or stop anything you might be doing for the Kingdom. But the good thing is that we are not unaware of the enemy’s schemes, and we possess the POWER to overcome them by faith. Being in a caregroup is like being in a special tactical warriors’ team. As Jesus said, there is POWER in our agreement and collective fight. A united stand unleashes heaven’s power against the powers of darkness.

Most young people are teachable and open. Thus, they are able to grasp more spiritual truths than most adults can.

These ones I’ve learned from having care groups composed of newbies and young people:

  • Being a discipler is pretty much like taking care of a plant from the moment you sowed a seed. It takes a lot of patience, it takes much time waiting for it to finally sprout some leaves, and the diligence to regularly nourish it with water, sunlight and nutrients. And did I say it takes patience, patience, patience…

Yes, there are times in a CG leader’s life when you feel like nothing’s happening, like all your efforts are just one big waste of time. But more often than not, your CG could surprise you when you least expect it—you would hear their testimonies, their exploits with the Lord. And just like a mother with her children, you would be able to see with your own eyes how they’ve grown in their faith. And it would all be worth it.

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And then, you’d realize it wasn’t you at all that made them suddenly bloom. It was God.

  • Most (that is, not all) young people are teachable and open. Thus they are able to grasp more spiritual truths than most adults can. Young people are smart. Be like the young people ;-).

Many adults respond to spiritual truths with this learning defect we call AKNY or “Alam ko na yan (I already know that).” And the sad thing is that spiritual truths are not learned the same way as physical or natural truths. Spiritual truths have a way of masquerading as being too simple, too “babyish”, too basic, too trivial. Spiritual truths are precious gems hiding in plain sight. And they could only be seen through the eyes of those with childlike faith.

Spiritual truths are precious gems hiding in plain sight. And they could only be seen through the eyes of those with childlike faith.

  • Life coaches. I heard that many people in the West hire life coaches to help them get their lives in order, pursue the right goals, and move towards the right direction. Well, CGs are like getting top-notch life coaches for free, and the best part of it is that they do not give advice out of mere human wisdom. Holy Spirit-given wisdom is always the best and can stand through eternity.
  • Raising from the ground up, starting from scratch. Many CG leaders prefer mentoring those who already exhibit leadership qualities and tend to avoid the newbies, or those who still seem to require “much work”, or even those who appear to be total wrecks. They are unaware of the sheer joy of “starting from scratch” and watching the gradual transformation of an ugly worm into a beautiful butterfly. These are moments reserved for those who have the patience and who persevere to the end. These are the joys reserved for the true spiritual father or mother.

 

Question: Do you think you need a life coach and a spiritual circle of friends? Please leave a comment.

Power in Earthen Vessels

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I was at Robinsons Mall, Fairview on Sunday on my way to Victory Churches of Asia (VCA) at the second floor when I passed by a commotion near the entrance of the mall annex.

My first thought was—was it a bomb? An ongoing robbery? I looked beyond the crowd gathered at the scene and saw a woman lying on the floor, shouting at the top of her lungs in what looked like a demonic attack. I stepped closer and asked the guards what happened. They shook their heads saying they don’t know.

As I went closer, I saw two angels ministering to the woman. One of the angels was in a red Chinese costume and she was cradling the woman’s head, gently trying to get the woman on her feet. The woman was still shouting out a lot of nonsense. Her mother was standing over her looking helpless. I came in closer and saw that the angels turned out to be my churchmates Jenny and Osang. We were in a building occupied by many churches, and this being a Sunday, who would come out of the crowd to help this woman but three of us from VCA! How cool is that?

As the security guards helped the woman get on a wheelchair, we told her we would like to pray for her. Still speaking in a loud voice, she said she is a Christian, too. We learned she used to have epileptic attacks in the past, but I sensed clearly that she had been bound by lies coming from the devil. I felt she had to break free from this deception, and the only thing that could free her from the lies is the truth.

Jenny, Osang, and I began to pray for her, but before we did, a lot of weird thoughts went through my head. What if the demon fights back? What if we fail at this in front of all these people? What if she physically hurt us?

I threw away all those doubts and jumped in in prayer. I felt the Holy Spirit embracing the woman while we prayed, and I felt the lies that bound her slowly being exposed to the light.

The woman could not move on emotionally from the shame, humiliation, and embarrassment of her “condition” and not just in this instance, but from several other instances in the past. She had lost the assurance of God’s love, she felt unacceptable and unlovable and had given in to the devil’s deceiving influence towards hopelessness and helplessness.

After we prayed, she suddenly turned quiet, then was transformed into a normal, friendly, and sensible person. Amazing.

So I mentioned I was on my way to the 4:00pm service at VCA, and would they like to go with me? Surprisingly, she and her mother instantly said yes.

A female security guard was kind enough to push her wheelchair through the elevator and we went up to the second floor.

Pastor Al Purvis, apostolic leader of Victory Churches in Asia who heads an awesome ministry in Thailand delivered God’s message that afternoon. And surprisingly, (though I think I’m no longer surprised at how God often gives surprises), he taught on Mark chapter 7, about a woman from Syria who asked Jesus for help because her daughter was demon-possessed.

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(Photo by Jason Marinas)

“The Word of God is more powerful than your circumstances…”

I was seated next to the woman—let’s call her Mabel (not her real name)—who gasped and said, “That’s me!”. Then she turned to her mother and said, “That’s us!”

I felt that the entire message by Pastor Al was meant for Mabel and her mother, and also meant for me. In fact, when the words were not meant for Mabel, they were meant for me.

Here are just some portions of the message that I remember…

Mark 7:24 – 29–

24Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre.i He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. 25Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evilj spirit, 26and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter.

Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews.k It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

28She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”

29“Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” 30And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

Because of the words she said, the woman received her miracle. She spoke the right words to Jesus, words of faith that opened the door to a miracle.

A pure, unoffended heart will enable you to receive your miracle

Like the Syrian woman, are we speaking the right words? Or do we say, “Jesus, why am I not being healed?” or “Why is this happening to me?” Lord, help me speak the right words that will work the miracle in my life!

The Syrian woman was not at all offended when Jesus referred to the Jews as the children, and to her as a “dog”, because she was a pagan. Having a clean, pure, unoffended heart, she was able to speak the words that brought a miracle in her life.

Being without offence in one’s heart made the difference. Self-disappointment and things that happened in the past often create a blockage in the heart, making it difficult to believe.

When Jesus told the disciples “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” they couldn’t understand what He meant. They thought it was because they forgot to bring bread. And Jesus’ reaction was, “How is it that you don’t understand?” They missed the point. They couldn’t move on because they were disappointed with themselves at the mistake they made.

Sometimes, making a mistake and being disappointed with ourselves could harden our hearts. But God’s lovingkindness is able to set us free from disappointments.

II Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

God has put a treasure, His Word, in this earthly vessel, and we have the excellency of His power working in us. God keeps His Word. God keeps His mercy. Don’t let your past hinder your future. It’s time to move on. The Word of God is more powerful than your circumstances. We must learn to see beyond the offense, beyond our circumstances, to be able to see the excellency of the power He has placed in us.

A pure, unoffended heart will enable you to see your calling

How many times have you lain in your bed at night thinking, “If only I could…”. Whatever is that thing you wished you could do, that’s the dream that God has placed in your heart. It is in your heart for a purpose.

Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from Watching Supergirl

OR: Tips for Christians in the Secular Workplace

Yes, I watch “Supergirl”. Don’t laugh at me. When Warner TV ran marathon episodes of Season 1 a few months ago, I got hooked. There’s something about the story of this fictional superhero that attracted me, and I found myself drawing parallels between the storyline and my spiritual life.

Here are the top 10 “lessons” I got from watching Kara Danvers a.k.a. Supergirl that are maybe worth thinking about:

  1. Supergirl, like other superheroes, has a day job that doesn’t overshadow her real mission.

(Or at least she did in Season 1). She may be an office assistant of a media bigwig by day, and she enjoys being one, but she never forgets who she really is deep down. She is always acutely aware of her real purpose in life, and that is to use her power and extraordinary ability to help people.

Sometimes, our day jobs have a way of swallowing us up—dreams and all—in tight schedules, deadlines, exciting activities, strong friendships and office relationships, that often make us forget the real reason why we’re here in the first place. That is the reason why the superhero in us seem to hate having day jobs and would rather be doing things to answer “the calling” full time. But just look at how Supergirl does it. You’ll learn a lot.

2. Even superheroes need friends and helpers to man mission control.

Supergirl doesn’t work alone. Even while she’s busy battling it out with monsters out there, she is in constant communication with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations manned by her sister and people who actually care for her.

We were not meant to fulfill our mission and calling alone. We are meant to be in constant communication and fellowship with our church and our caregroup.

3. Kryptonite may look cute and harmless, but it could actually kill you.

To others, kryptonite is just a valuable specimen from outer space, a rare meteorite. To Supergirl, it means the loss of her power, utter weakness, or even death.

Little things that unbelievers embrace on a regular basis may actually be harmful to Christians. Take for example, today’s popular music loved by millions that may, in reality, be carriers of a spirit of depression. To unbelievers who have never experienced the inexplicable joy of knowing Jesus, feeling down and depressed may just be a normal and natural part of everyday life. That’s why they drink a lot and do drugs. But for people who have an abiding relationship with Jesus, it does have an effect on the general atmosphere—whether we admit it or not. It could actually rob us of our joy.

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(Photo: Warnerbros.com)

4. Supergirl knows what her core gift is, her so-called “competitive advantage,” and she uses it to the max.

She knows she has powers that not everybody else has, a power that is very much needed in the world. Who else can do the things she does? To deprive the world of her gift would be unthinkable, an evil thing to do.

We should never forget that the Spirit of God living inside us can enable us to do things other people can’t. Most especially if you happen to be the only Christian within a hundred square meter radius in your area of influence, that is, your workplace. To deprive others of Jesus’ love, compassion, and supernatural power would be just plain evil. If somebody nearby suddenly falls sick, for instance, unless there’s another superhero Christian nearby, the responsibility of praying and declaring healing for that person lies in your hands, and no one else’s.

5. Supergirl exudes fearlessness in the face of what looks like impending defeat.

Try suspending disbelief for a while and watch Supergirl being held in a powerful chokehold by a crazy Kryptonian. You can see the fear of imminent death in her eyes. But then suddenly, through sheer effort, or a sudden burst of determination, she breaks loose and subdues the enemy. Or J’onn J’onzz or Superman rescues her. The point is, Supergirl has looked at death in the eye and survived.

Our pastors in church would always remind us, “Feel the fear, but do it anyway”. Yes, the fear of failure or rejection or embarrassment or even death could paralyze us for a second, but because we know and trust Him who holds our life in His hands, we can burst forth with new strength. We feel the fear, yet we do it anyway.

6. She considers her mission more important than her to-do list.

Being the boss’ assistant, an all-around gofer and office problem-solver, Kara Danvers has a lot on her plate every single day. Yet when superhero duty calls, she doesn’t hesitate or think about an important email she has to send, or an urgent phone call she has to make. Faster than a speeding bullet, she goes up, up, and away.

Have you ever received a call or message asking for prayer or a visit right in the middle of work, and you think, “What the heck, I’m busy”? Then suddenly, something shakes you out of work-mode and then you realize “Wait a minute…this is what I’m living for, this is the very reason I’m working right now”.

7. Supergirl accepts the fact that some characters hate her for no reason.

Who could hate someone that cute and lovable and saves people from crime and disaster? Who could ever hate somebody who has nothing but goodness in her heart? Yet, villains exist in Supergirl’s world—villains who hate her with such deep hatred they wanted her pulverized or beaten to a pulp, or blown apart. Supergirl doesn’t waste time asking “Oh, why hate me so much?”. She accepts it as part of her life, and her world.

Christians who actually step outside the comfy confines of churchlife are often shocked to discover the sheer number of Christian haters out there—people who hate God because they have been offended by Christians in some way. People who block them on Facebook just because they often quote the Bible. People who see Christians as bigots and hypocrites just because. People who enjoy God-bashing as a hobby. People who see evil as good and good as evil. But we should not allow these things to hurt us. Accept the fact that, as Jesus said, “People will hate you because of Me”.

8. Supergirl knows it’s okey to use supernatural powers in the workplace.

Supergirl wouldn’t hesitate to use her eyes’ powerful rays to heat the boss’ morning latte. But using supernatural powers in the office has its limits. There’s no need to attract undue attention, disrupt normal operations, or expose your being weird or different.

Back when I was a writer for a magazine, I was on my way to work hoping I could think of a good angle for my article before I reach the office. And I had to come up with an idea fast. I closed my eyes and talked to God about it. Then, all of a sudden, it just hit me. My article quickly took form in my mind from start to finish, every single word. Supernaturally natural. Or naturally supernatural.

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(Photo: Warnerbros.com)

9. She identifies with non-Kryptonians and adopts their welfare as her own.

She risks her life for a planet that is not her home and is concerned with the welfare of human beings, though she is an alien on earth.

How easily do we identify with and care about people whose lifestyles, origins, or social status are different from ours? Are we willing to risk our lives for people whose ways are alien to us?

10. She enjoys performing her mission, AND doing her job.

Probably one of the best proofs that Kara Danvers loves her job so much was when Cat Grant suspected her of being Supergirl and asked her to leave her job. Kara gave the the most touching “I love my job” speech any boss would love to hear.

Do we love our jobs with as much passion as doing it for the One we love?