Ohana means family…

… family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” Lilo and Stitch

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That quote comes from a children’s show which is also a movie, such a small phrase with huge impact. The kingdom of God (which is the church) is composed of disciples which is the spiritual family.

“Since the one who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus does not hesitate to treat them as family…” Hebrews 2:11 MSG

To often I have heard disciples say that they do not feel as if they are part of a family or that no one cares. Unfortunately, that is usually also from the disciples that do not give their whole heart or are not (truly) vulnerable with others so they set up walls and barriers expecting others to overcome when they have set up traps surrounding the walls. The Hebrew verse says that Jesus does not hesitate to call us his family when we mess up all the time so why are there still some hesitating to really embrace the church as a family?

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household… In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 2: 19 & 22 NIV

In this scripture, as one commentary pointed out, there are three metaphors for unity in (1) common citizenship, (2) membership in a single household, and (3) mutual parts of one holy temple. People take pride in what country they are from and what their last name is (though not always the case). As humans we recognise the need to identify ourselves with something. So why not fully embrace yourself as a member of God’s house? If you keep one foot outside while your standing in the front door way, I am sure your parent or guardian would tell you to make up your mind whether you are going to be in the house or stay outside and shut the door based on your decision.

Same thing with God’s family, if you declared “Jesus is Lord” and believe that you are part of the body, why do you keep the front door open where all the insects can come in?? Your passport no longer says *insert country name here* but it says Kingdom Of God. I am tired of disciples saying bro/sis out of tradition/compulsion when they do not fully believe it or else their actions would show it.

I believe the kingdom is it and there is nothing else out there. This is the one place everyone has the Bible as their standard and challenge each other to live like it. No unstable “one the preacher knows their Bible” type of church. Because of this conviction I have done two hospital A & E runs and stayed until the early hours of the morning, almost got police called on me trying to protect a sister, ran after a sister who ran out of church, showed up at disciple’s houses at night time to check in on them, topped up oysters, fed disciples, been to two funerals ( a disciple and a non-disciple) and commemoration of a brother’s mum who was not a disciple, and even bought housing items for disciples in need. This is not to make me big up myself but simply to show that my convictions are in my actions. So, when I call a disciple bro/sis I really mean it. Imagine how much closer the family of believers could be or even how greater of an impact we would have if we followed through with our convictions.

 “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”. Acts 20: 28 NIV

Do you draw limits to the distance you’ll go for your spiritual family or is it really the Agape love we’re called to have?

Let’s keep an eye out of each other, even the ones that we are not so close to because they may be the ones who need our help the most!

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Dating – What Good Women Want

So this post is a bit different than my usual. It is a collaborative between myself and some of my fellow Christian bloggers. It is a mix of married, single professional, university student and a recent graduate. I am posting on behalf of everyone else. Hope you enjoy it and leave feedback in the comment section! The links to the other blogs will be at the bottom.

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Guest editorial: What Good Women Want

(James Morgan of the London International Christian Church)

I don’t know what happened in my congregation last year but there was a veritable explosion of dating couples in the second half of the year. This kind of thing usually happens in the spring right? But there it is. One after another like dominoes the London church singles got Twitterpated! It was quite something to behold. Even guys who had held on to singleness for decades were going head-over-heels.
I don’t know if it was our ex-Hollywood actor Evangelist regularly encouraging dating in the congregation or the annual international conference attended by delegates from around the globe. Anyway a number of your men had the unusual situation all of a sudden of having to organize a date almost every week. That brings with it certain challenges. So I thought about what might help them in this Herculean task of fighting off the demon of Droopage, their brother Bashful and cousin Cancellation!
I decided to ask the ladies in the church (both married and single) an important question. Beatriz has edited the answers below to remove duplications. So it seems that the these good women agree on a number of things. I hope these answers presented here will really help the chivalrous men in the church who are busy planning dates. Here they are.

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I decided to ask the ladies in the church (both married and single) an important question. It went like this….

“Sister..  You’ve been around a while. I’d like to ask you a personal question. Hope that’s OK. I’m interested.. What is top 3 things that make a date memorable for you?”

I plan dates for singles at my place. My wife and I love to cook and offer hospitality to our friends. I thought it would be useful to have a variety of answers to help me improve on the dinner dates we do. I am sure the answers below from several sisters will be invaluable to brothers thrust into an organisational role that can be quite stressful at times.

 

1. Giving your heart with planning
The main concept that popped up with all the women is planning. Planning an outing makes a person feel special because they took time out of their days to think of that person and give their hearts fully. Here is what the women have said…

– I love it when a Brother plans a date to encourage me and not just jumping on another plan. I love doing things that are fun,  action packed , good quality time with a creative twist. Great dates have input from both sides.

– To be honest, an encouraging date starts for me before the actual date. When the brother really gives his heart to plan and doesn’t just muster up something last minute so i guess my number one thing is “Heartfelt planning”. It’s super encouraging when i just know that a brother is planning the date to specifically encourage me. I can tell he is when during the week, he asks me what i like eating, what i don’t like eating, activities i like/would like to try, etc. It doesn’t have to be something big, even if its just getting my favourite dessert or something for a dinner date. It shows the heart.

– Fun and creative dates. I love to have quality time than to have the most glamorous and expensive date. New activities really encourage me.

– I’ve always had a deep conviction about going on dates in order to build unity between everyone. I feel loved when brothers ask me what I like to do or to eat and plan it ahead of time. I appreciate when I am told in advance about the date so I can properly plan my day. When they ask, it shows that they’re putting their heart behind it and really trying to encourage me.

 

2. Personal conversation
Friendships are built on being honest and sharing your life with the person, allowing them to know who you are. It also gives them a glimpse into your life and your heart!

– I love when I see the heart of God in a brother where he can share deep insight on the word ,  tips on what God is teaching him and he helps me to further strengthen my walk with God. It is always great when a brother is interested in my power times; prayer needs, really listens; and tries to be my friend and really connect. This scripture comes to mind, Colossians 3 : 16

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

– This definitely is a huge one. Dates where the conversation is vague or superficial, where I don’t really learn anything new, deep or personal about the brother, to me aren’t really dates. I believe the type of questions a brother asks and the type of conversation we have really shows whether the brother actually wants to get to know me as his sister or is just on the date for the sake of it. For me, openness helps me draw closer to people and endear myself to them.

– I love God focused conversations where the brother can share deep insight on the word. I think the type of questions a brother asks and the type of conversations shows if the brother really wants to get to know the sister deeply. Openness helps me to draw closer to the brother and understand the brother better. Numbers 32:23,

“…and be sure that your sin will find you out.”

– To me this is a big one. Conversation is such a powerful tool. Superficial conversation does not help me to know who you really are. When brothers are open and vulnerable, it shows that they trust me and aren’t trying to just say the right thing. Also, with a good conversation there’s no awkward moments.

3. Feeling appreciated

Appreciation (according to Google) is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
– There is a brother; who has a hash tag on Facebook called #everysisterdeservesflowers.
He sets the standard for how all Kingdom dates should be planned, led, conducted and ended. He always ends the date with flowers and cards for the sister just to say thank you and I love that you are my sister in the Lord. He has this focus for all sisters to be encouraged just because he has the heart of a great man of God not just because he has an interest in a sister.

– Fun! Absolutely! If a date has no fun, its totally discouraging. Fun doesn’t have to be big like going to Thorpe Park or the London Eye or something. It can just be something we do at the dinner table that causes laughs and great memories. Having fun makes a date memorable and encouraging for me. I’ll always remember and be grateful for the laughter and the memories even when I am far away from those with whom I had them.

– As a student in university, I feel appreciated and supported of when a brother offers to pay; that really shows care in the sense that he’ll be there for me when times are tight. I have also had brothers make me a card after a date and it puts a smile on my face because they took even a little bit more time after encouraging me to go beyond!
– It’s fun to consider that not only what I would like. Show genuine love on a date even if the brother doesn’t like it. He sets the standard for how the date should start, conduct and end. Ending the date with a thank you the brother doesn’t have to end with flowers and a card the brother who shows love through words of affirmation is great. He has a focus for all the sisters because he is a great man of God.

 

So there it is. Many thanks to the sisters. I’ve already adjusted how I plan dates myself. Below are the urls of the personal blogs of some of the awesome women who contributed to this article. Love. James

http://teephuong.tumblr.com/
http://www.lydiasladies.com
https://morganites.wordpress.com/
https://diaryofanewdisciple.wordpress.com/

A New Day

This week has been good on so many levels but also challenging on others. I have seen how I can put God to the side and try to run on my own strength. However, that’s not what he calls me to do. Having this new family by my side for this past year has been the greatest gift any one could ask for. You go through challenges and temptations. You see yourself fall but then you have the loving hands of the disciples just pick you back up.

This past week WE saw a very dear sister fall sick into the hospital. Turns out she had a cyst. Good thing the doctors found it early enough to remove it. Who know what it could’ve turned out to be… What is amazing is how the love was immediately poured all over here. With one sister following her throughout the whole process. God sees that sister’s heart to really care for her. They are best friend and this is something that they will overcome together putting God above it all which is such a beautiful thing. At times like this we become grateful again for what we have and we want to run outside and share our faith… yet we still stumble and don’t do it. I pray we all use this even to motivate not only myself but those around me as well…

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7