Tag Archives: christianity

Back To The Writer’s Blog

About 9 months ago we became the pastors of VOConn and around that time I wrote my latest blog “The Promises of God.” Taking over a church is a good reason to stop blogging for a season, but after a while you start feeling that urge to pick up your pen and bring an end to that writer’s block. During the last months a lot has changed and happened, and in the next blogs I will try to share some of the things we’ve learned and experienced.

People have said that starting a church is easier than taking over a church. I have to admit, I wouldn’t really know cause I never started a church and this is the first time taking one over. What I do know is, that when you are about to do something you never done before, it is helpful to ask people who did, and were successful doing it. After doing some personal research, listening to advice, and experiences, I applied 3 things that helped me a lot during the transition.

  • Get to know the church

The first thing to do is getting to know the people, and allowing the people to get to know you. You do this by intentionally take every opportunity to spend time together. During those moments you will not only make memories and so creating part of your history, but it will also have a great deal of influence in how people will see the future of the church. In aiming for the future, we can not neglect nor ignore the past of the church and it’s members. The church’s condition today is a result of the past, and in knowing the history of the church we will have a better understanding of the present.

If the new leadership neglects the past, they might repeat the same mistakes that caused the existing problems in the first place, or they will stop the momentum that the church has, by not using the earlier successes they had. I have also seen that new leadership would ignore the past; you might as well tell the people you don’t care, cause that’s how they will feel. It becomes personal when we make them think that we don’t care about; the sacrifices they made, the tears they shed, the memories they have. Acknowledge and value the past, learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. Become “We” and prepare the people to move on towards their future, according to he original plan and purpose that God had from the beginning for the church.

  • Get to know the culture

The second thing we need to do is understanding the church’s culture. Culture either good or bad, has to be confronted carefully and wisely. We define culture by people’s beliefs, values, the way they think, talk, and do things. If the church’s culture is contradicting the gospel then it has to change, no doubt about it, but sometimes it simply challenges our own culture.

The developed culture within the church, is new for those that come in for the first time. Key is not to reject the culture by isolating yourself, in doing this you become an outsider, and outsiders don’t change a thing. Another form of rejection is trying to destroy the culture, making it look like everything about it is bad. You will become a foe to the people instead of their friend. People have the tendency to take it personal when you question their culture. It does not matter, how genuine your intentions are. Adopting to the culture seems very nobel, but is also not commendable, you will become somebody you’re not, and unable to bring healthy changes, because now you are part of the problem. The best thing to do is adapting to the new-found culture, by making the necessary  adjustments to become an insider, without compromising nor losing your identity. Only as an insider you can make the needed changes within the culture, and you do this by teaching and bringing understanding about the changes that have to be made.

  • Get to know the city

Finally the church’s city has to become your city. Get to know the city by studying its history. Discover your city by driving through it and to talk with its residents. In doing this I met some interesting people who truly care about their city, and like to partner with others that share the same feeling. Enjoy your city by what it has to offer instead of what it does not have. Care for it, love it and commit to it, and do not compare it with another city in a coveting way. You will start to see the potential more than the problems the city has. You can not change the city by yourself, even with the help of others it is almost impossible to change it in a life-time, but you can be part of it.

It’s has only been 9 months now, and we have many more ahead of us. During this time I believe we made some mistakes that made the transition rough at times. However overall it was a good and smooth transition, and we have to thank God for that, and the members of VOConn, the Church of Champions. An amazing group of people who accepted, and embraced us, and I know that together we will have a great future, reaching our city with the message of Christ.

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under "I will build My church"

Where will you be 5 years from today?

I love coffee, and every time I walk into a Starbucks (SB) to get a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte, I have to take a look at their non-coffee merchandize. You never know what kind of deals you find, like those nice coffee mugs for half the price. I guess those are the Dutch genes in me; we like to hunt for cheap deals, and we have the unexplainable habit to collect. This particular time I visited my local SB at the University Village in Los Angeles, opposite of the USC campus, and I noticed a certain book. Actually it was the question on the cover of the book; “Where will you be five years from today?” that caught my attention.

While waiting in line I opened the book to get a better look at it. The first question on the cover had me already thinking, but on the following page I read challenging words. Right there and then, it seemed like those words were spoken to me personally.

This is your life, your one-and-only life. Over the next five years, what do you really want to do? What do you really want to have? What do you really want to be? Where do you really want to go? There are no rules here. This is not a work book, it’s a play book. This is not a “here’s how” book, it’s a “why not?” book. So be daring, be bold and true to yourself!

“This is a perfect book for Robert”, was my second thought (Robert is a young man that I have known now for over 6 years, he is on fire for Jesus, and intentional in serving God for the rest of his life). With my regular order of TSVL, I bought a book for him, and of course one copy for myself. The next few weeks I drove to several SB locations to pick up an additional 5 copies to give away to men that play a very instrumental role in my personal life. If you find something good, make sure you share it.

This book has become my ‘play book’, I read it together with the Bible as a devotional ‘side kick’. I put notes, quotes, thoughts, pictures, dreams, and promises in it. But the most important thing I put on the first pages was Matthew 6:33; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” and Proverbs 16:3; “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

I want my life to be a journey, that turns into an adventure, which will become a mission; I desire to reach my full potential, to live a life of significance, to reach my destiny, to become all God wants me to be.

I hope you find yourself a copy and get one or more for those special people within your live, God Bless and Bon Voyage for the next 5 years of the rest of your life…

Note! This is a revised version from my blog ‘Where will you be 5 years from today?’ (December 30, 2008)

1 Comment

Filed under Discipleship 101

“…this happens to be my seat!”

A few centuries ago when Christians came together to worship, people would stand during the service. The pews came later, and were either rented or purchased by church members. Pews were considered private property, and some people enclosed them in so-called pew boxes, or they created pews that looked different from the other pew sections in the church building. The purchase or rental of pews created an atmosphere of exclusiveness, even causing a conflict within the Methodist Episcopal Church, as in the case of B. T. Roberts.

It is funny to see how territorial we still can get when it comes to the seating in our local churches. Some people claim ownership by putting their Bible, jacket, purse, pamphlet, or any other available item on a seat, whereby others actually think that an invisible sign marks the chair to show that this is their ‘place of honor’. We get requests from the habitual latecomer to save them a seat, or we are sitting comfortable in a pew, and someone tells us nicely, but firm; “…this happens to be my seat!”

I understand that going back to seat less services is not an option, and that most of us are not familiar with the pew deeds as they were in the 1800’s. However at times it’s good to hear that the P.E.W.S. are not just there so we can sit as comfortable as possible, but that they are a reminder of the true reasons we meet as the Church.

  • Prayer; We come together to pray for others, each other, ourself, and to pursue our relationship with God (Matthew 6:9-13).
  • Evangelism; We come together to hear The Great Commission, and our responsibility as the Church towards this world (Matthew 28:19, 20).
  • Sacrificial Love; We come together be reminded that we are called to love each other as He commanded us, and to put it into practice (1 John 3:11-24).

Let’s say more often“…this happens to be your seat.”

2 Comments

Filed under Discipleship 101

Lessons learned…

A few months ago I wrote a blog (Journey 2 Berlin) in which I shared about my trip to Berlin with Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. Lately I’ve been thinking about our trip, and some of the things I’ve learned from him. Reflecting on the conversations we had I have to agree with the words of the Roman historian Tacitus; “Experience teaches”. I am fully aware that we can learn from our personal experiences, but how much more from the experiences of others, if we pay attention?

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will. -Vernon Howard

Little did I know that our trip to Europe was not a coincidence, but a preparation for what is to come. I could not foresee that This Journey to Europe’ would cause me to think differently. Differently because in the Urban Training Center we visited churches for 1-4 weeks partnering with-, and helping them in various ways through; drama’s, worship, evangelism, children’s ministry, and follow-up are just a few to name. However after a certain time we would return to our campus continuing our program. Not to take anything away from the effectiveness of the Urban Training Center, but we did not have to think like the pastor of a church, we were more like a van-load full of evangelists; ‘blow-in, blow-up, and blow-out’.

I am convinced that during these months in Europe God put a new desire in my spirit, mind, and heart; “to pastor a church someday”. I believe when this will happen, these Lessons learned will be helpful in pastoring a church, along with the countless lessons I still have to learn through experience, and from others;

1. Building relationships, with influential people and organizations in the community. This so-called networking can become useful at certain times, providing the needed resources in order to accomplish a particular goal, but our ultimate ambition should be to change our community.

2. Evangelism; the presence of witnessing Christians in the neighborhoods will influence the community, and it is also crucial for a church to continue to preach the gospel to the unchurched. When the church stops evangelizing, the church stopped caring, and therefore it will stop growing. Never neglect the responsibility to be ‘a fisher of men’ (Matthew 4:19)

“He who rules the streets, rules the city” -Pastor Ed Morales

3. Change; God did not save us to stay the same, but He wants us to change. It sounds too easy to be true, but as we change our community will change.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.  I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.  When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.  I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.  Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.  My family and I could have made an impact on our town.  Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world. -Author Unknown

4. Stewardship; when Christians are taught that the community they live in belongs to God, they begin to understand the responsebility of stewardship. Like the story in Matthew 25:14-25; the servants that became successful invested; energy, time, and money. God will give us the City and more, if we as the Church invest likewise into our community instead of keeping what we have hidden in the ground.

5. Servanthood; as the Church we are not only called to serve each other, but also our community. This is an act of love, and it will surely impact the city, and done consistently it will eventually change the city. For example the following blog  ‘I (HEART) SAN DIEGO’ by Al Valdez, senior pastor of Victory Outreach San Diego is a perfect example of a Church serving the community.

2 Comments

Filed under The Journey to Europe, Urban Ministry

10 reasons why to stay away from a vampire


Tales with vampires have always been popular among us mortals. We see this through the countless stories, novels, theater plays, TV series, and movies that have been dedicated towards this charismatic villain. Just think about the recent successes of the Twilight (series); over 85 million copies have been sold worldwide, and the books have been translated into 37 different languages. But regardless the popularity of Edward Cullen and many others, we all know that these blood thirsting creatures do not exist. At least I hope you do! The question may arise, why devote a blog on a folkloric being? Simply because I want to make you aware of certain individuals you might encounter (even in your local church) who have similar characteristics as vampires, and 10 reasons to stay away from them;

1. They are manipulative, and have the ability, in an almost hypnotizing way, to obtain their personal goals at the expense of other people, by using them. These individuals don’t act according moral values, a greater good, let alone godly convictions, but are…

2. Undead, meaning they are beings that are deceased yet behave as if alive. They do not have a purpose to life, nor a cause to die for, but they have an unsatisfying hunger.

3. A hunger that is fighting for its life, they are being Led by an urge, which is the motivating factor of their existence. They do whatever it takes to reach their goal, but when they don’t achieve what they desire, they snap…

4. and display a Lack of self control, and their true identity is revealed. They can become extremely angry, throw a tantrum, cry uncontrollably, or they can tell you for hours their so called problem over and over and over…

5. They suck the life out of you, and that’s how you feel after spending quite some time with them. You feel drained every time you interact with them because…

6. They don’t change, years go by and they still have the same problems, mindset, attitude, heart condition, they never grow up. Like our 104 year old Twilight friend Edward…

Isabella Swan: How old are you?
Edward Cullen: Seventeen.
Isabella Swan: How long have you been seventeen?
Edward Cullen: A while.

7. They have no reflection, and therefor they lack the ability to evaluate themselves, and to make the necessary adjustments in order to experience a radical transformation. All though their character seems unchangeable, they are excellent…

8. Shape shifters, and seem to be able to change form or identity at will. Their appearance, behavior changes like a chameleon changes its color. Their conduct shifts according to the environment, and company they find themselves in. They are actors, and in the New Testament they called them Hupokrites (hypocrite).

9. They can’t stand the Light, and avoid all situations where the possibility lingers to be exposed, or confronted. Their comfort is in the confinement of their self made ‘coffin’.

10. but the most frightening thing is that they can turn you into one of them, if you are not careful.

Unlike in the movies of Hollywood featuring this urban legend, there is no use in sprinkling these poor souls with holy water, putting garlic in their mouth, or even to drive a wooden stake through the heart. When it comes to these individuals you need a dose of patience and a lot of prayer.

Ephesians 5:1-14 (The Message)

5 Comments

Filed under Discipleship 101

What To Do Now!?!


Did you ever find yourself in a place where you ask yourself this question over and over; “What to do now!?!” An ongoing mental condition, where that particular question is continuously repeating itself in your confused mind, not knowing what to do next. I have been in this state of mind a couple of times; tossing and turning during the night, and throughout the day the worries would faithfully continue. It is like being stuck in a room full with doors, and every door you open takes you to another room with doors. Uncertainty became that uninvited friend who would keep me company, showing me all my Options and the Opportunities I had, but never giving me the answer to that troublesome question: “What to do now!?!” Does this sound familiar to you, do you recognize yourself in it? Well, if you do, I have five tips that might help you when you suffer the above mentioned symptoms in seasons like this;

  1. Don’t Panic: I got this fortune cookie message in my wallet, which says; don’t panic. Not that I am the kind of person that looks for guidance in fortune cookies, but this one I have to admit was kinda special. Special enough to put in my wallet as a reminder, for moments when fear tries to take control of me, and temps me to make dumb decisions. You become like a person that is drowning, and in his panic no longer aware of his surroundings, even the help that is close by. It takes the life-guard to knock the person out to safe both of their lives, and I’m not waiting to be knocked out period!
  2. Pray: We can read the advise of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 6, 7; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. You might feel that you lost control of the situation, even of the direction that your life is heading, but remember this; God Is In Control! Never lose sight of this absolute; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The place were you find yourself in, might not be ideal, but with the peace of God it becomes easier to cope with, and it protects both the condition of the heart and the state of mind. Prayer puts you under the protection of God, and you prevent to ‘Three Five-ing It‘ which means to lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
  3. Call your Pastor: With this I refer not only to pastors, but also to godly people that are able to give you godly advise. Proverbs 12:15; The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. The reason I talk to my pastor is because, he is were I want to be, and he has been were I am at. The talks I have with him, really help me out a lot, they give me understanding, offer me insight, it makes me realize that I am not the only one experiencing this, and that I am not crazy. Take my advise in moments like these not to isolate yourself, and stay far away from people who can’t help you, or worst, join you in a panic attack!
  4. Write down the Promises: What are the promises God has given you? During times that I wonder what the future will bring, I take a piece of paper and write down all the promise scriptures God has given me so far. I look at them, read them over and over, and simply meditate on His promises for my life. Psalm 145:13 states The Lord is faithful to all His promises. I honesty can say that some of the promises I wrote down surely have come to pass, others will come to pass in His time. Seeing God’s faithfulness gives me the confidence that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). His promises are pieces of a puzzle, and putting them together gives you a glimpse of the future He has for you (Habakkuk 2:2, 3)
  5. Stick to the Principles: When you experience a time of uncertainty, it might seem logical just to take a shot in the dark. However, when the light goes on after shooting in the dark, you will notice that you added more damage to the situation, than that you actually solved it. In situations like these learn from Galatians 6:9; Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Just stick to the basics, keep on doing the things you are certain of that they are the right things to do, and you’ll be just fine.

1 Comment

Filed under Discipleship 101

EuroUTC (part 1)

The Urban Training Centers is a powerful ministry where young people are being discipled and trained for the ministry. We’ve been privileged to be involved in this ministry since 2000, and during that time we had the opportunity to be directors of both the East Coast UTC and the West Coast UTC. The UTC’s are close to our heart, because it is there were we fell deeper in love with Jesus, and here we also realized the plan and purpose God had for our lives. So, when we had to return to Europe for a season, and we were asked to look for the possibility for a UTC in Europe, we could only say; “Yes!”

The Purpose of the UTC’s is, like I mentioned earlier, to disciple and train young people for the ministry, but also to serve the many churches in their region(s). Off course there is more to it than just that, and I promise you will get a bigger picture by visiting their website and taking the time to read the UTC blogs.

We have traveled to various cities within Europe the last few months, and one thing comes to mind when you visit the churches and meet the people; Potential!

The people in the churches are hungry for more, and all though the opportunity is there to go to a UTC elsewhere, not everybody has the means or possibility to go to US, Mexico or South Africa. When you stand among these young people -in Victory Outreach we call them The GANG – listening to their testimonies, the desires they have, and their love for God, you just want them all to be able to go to the UTC. During this time of separation they can experiencing the Process, as God prepares the individual for the calling that is upon their life. It is in the UTC where they allow God to get a hold of their life, and they get a hold of God. With the program and all the training that the UTC offers, these young people will be able to make an impact in their cities, country and also this continent. Can you imagine a group of on fire young people visiting your church for a few weeks; evangelizing in the streets, ministering at the church services with music, drama, even preaching His Word? I am sure that they, you and your city will never be the same again.

We are in Europe now for 8 months, and this blog series is for all those that have a desire to enroll the UTC, those that want to send students to the UTC, and everybody else that -just like us- wants to see this vision come to pass; a EuroUTC.

If by reading this blog, you like more information concerning the UTC please visit their website, and don’t forget to leave a ‘Shout Out’.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Journey to Europe