February 2017

Wednesday, February 22

Tuesday, February 14

2017 CCCM Couples Retreat


After nineteen years, Estella and I have finally attended a couples retreat.

It was our first ever retreat and what a blessing it was.

We arrived on Friday, 10 Feb 2017 around 5:30pm. Although there was a lot of traffic, the drive from San Bernardino wasn't bad. Some areas were slow, but the traffic flowed pretty smooth.

Couples Retreat Itinerary
We checked in and got our keys to our room. When we got to our room, we opened the door and walked into the smallest room ever. The super tiny room mimicked Lucy and Ricky Ricardo's bedroom setup. I quickly re-arranged the two twin beds into a super twin and then helped Estella unpack. Afterward, we were going to go to the book store, but found out it was already closed. Not a problem, we went straight to the coffee shop. We stayed there until dinner time at 7pm.

We met another couple at dinner, which was great. The fellowship was great also. After dinner, we went to the first session of the retreat. There we received an introduction then went into worship. During the worship, a wave of peace came over me. I told Estella that I felt like when I had first become born again. I know it was the Holy Spirit providing that peace.

Friday Evening at the Coffee Shop
The following day, Saturday, we went to breakfast and met a new couple. Again, the breakfast and fellowship was great. Afterward, we went back to the chapel that we had been at the night before. A band came up and led in worship then we went into the next session.

Estella and I at the Chapel (Saturday)
The next session featured Brian Broderson and his wife Cheryl. Estella and I had never seen them in person, but only via Pastor's Perspective on Kwave. They are super cool and down to earth. Brian is super mellow and Cheryl is super talker.

After their message, there was a question and answer panel and that's where the transparency started. Brian and Cheryl shared about their daughter who basically became their prodigal daughter for a season and later came back. They shared details of what they went through. Many couples in the crowd were encouraged by this.

In the afternoon, we had a couple of other speakers. I can't remember the pastor's name but he was the second speaker of the afternoon. His message on Ephesians five and his testimony caught Estella and I by surprise.

He shared that he had been in ministry for (I think) about twenty years and how it had become, for lack of better words, his first love. His wife being second. He also shared about his wife telling him that she could no longer live that way and if things didn't change she was going to leave. (The story wasn't cut and dry like that. There was a lot of detail that led to that decision.) And, that was only about a year ago.

Estella and I were touched by that as we are both in ministry. I got a little worried and asked Estella if she has ever felt that way toward me. What a relief when she said no. After asking her the same question about twenty more times that evening and a couple more times the next day, I resolved in my heart that she really meant no. Estella and I have never put our marriage secondary to anything, but we still, that night, took action to strengthen our commitment to one another. The Lord first, our marriage second then everything else.

This was a good wake up call for both of us not to fall into busy-ness therefore neglecting one another. Thank you Jesus for this!

Brian and Cheryl Broderson
After the sessions, we were given about an hour and a half break so Estella and I walked back to our room to relax a bit.

On Break: Stopped to take a Picture
On our way back to the chapel, I heard a voice and it wasn't that of the arch angel. It was Joseph our beloved young brother in Christ. He was sitting at one of the outdoor tables with his new Macbook, listening to Pastor Chuck. Joseph is attending the Bible college. It was great to see him. Prayer people, pray for him. Pray for strength in Christ never to compromise but to push forward to lead the next generation of believers in Christ!

Estella, Ruben and Joseph (Warrior Generation)
On our last day, we had another great breakfast and fellowship. We took the opportunity to take a picture at the huge fireplace that they have near the dining hall. We then proceeded to the final session of the retreat. A lot more encouragement came our way then it ended but not in our hearts.

Fireplace near the Chow Hall
What a blessed time we had. Estella and I will be attending this event every year, Lord willing. I encourage you husbands to take your wife to one. At the end, you will say...
-Ruben

Saturday, February 4

It Only Seems Like It...


Back in August 2016, I submitted a 'quick survey' on Facebook with the following three questions:

  1. What question would an unbeliever ask relative to life and the Bible?
  2. What question does a new believer usually ask?
  3. What life struggles does a believer usually encounter?
One response to 'What question does a new believer usually ask?' was:

"Why does it seem like I suffer while unbelievers seem to have it easy?"
That is a great question as many new (and older) believers wonder the same.

This question is not one that can be answered with a quick short response. It requires an open ended response. It is going to set focus on Jesus, away from self, and paint a picture of our duty as believers in Him.

First thing that popped to mind when I read this question was a passage from the Bible which tells us...

"...He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." -Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)
All people, saved and unsaved, good and bad and anything else you can think of are/is affected by God's creation. There is not one single person that is exempt from this. The same goes with suffering and the opposite, having it easy. There are believers who suffer while some unbelievers have it easy and visa versa.

Unbelievers may seem to have it easy as they prosper in the sight of man. Some are probably millionaires or billionaires and have beautiful  houses and nice cars. That is the outward appearance. The tangible side of life which is what always seems to affect a person. Why? Because, by nature, we compare ourselves to someone else and wonder why we don't have the same or more. Sometimes we ask 'why are they being blessed with so much?' or 'why do they seem to have it easy?'

The believer is summoned out of that thought process and into a spiritual way of thinking. Our main focus as believers is to not dwell on the tangible, but rather the spiritual which are the things of God. The Bible tells us...

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." -Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
The word think means "to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on." [1]

Notice that the passage does not say 'whatsoever someone else has, think on these things.' On the contrary the Bible states...

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
[Instead] Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. -Psalms 37:1-7 (NKJV)
Another passage tells us...

"Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off." -Proverbs 23:17-18 (NIV)
Placing God first in everything we do will cause us to inwardly think on Him and not be concerned about what the unbeliever has. (As a matter of fact, keeping our focus on our Heavenly Father will cause us not to to be concerned about what anyone has, believer and non-believer alike.)

Part of setting our sites on Jesus is praying for the unbeliever. Pray for his or her salvation. Our heavenly Father wants all people to turn to Him. He wants none to perish eternally but to have everlasting life [2]When you pray for the unbeliever or specifically for that one person whom you think has it easy, the Lord will transform your heart to a heart of compassion for that person. Praying for that unbeliever will also help you remember that what you have is sufficient because all you have is from God [3].

As believers in Jesus and doers of His Word, we are to be others centered rather than self centered. (When I say others centered, I mean concerned that they too receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour.) As you read and study your Bible, notice the 'me, myself and I way of life shifts to them and others. 

Jesus calls us to get the Good News, the Gospel, out to everyone that they may be saved [4]. If this is the case, then we know it is not about the tangible things of the world but of the spiritual.

Be encouraged with the following from the book of Romans 5:1-5 NIV...

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
I would like to mention that the information provided is based purely on Biblical insight. And, I encourage you to pray and dig into your Bible to confirm that the information is solid and completely based on scripture.

If you would like to add some insight regarding the question, please place it in the comments section below.

May our Lord God almighty bless you! Stay Strong! Stay Focused!

-Ruben


[1] g3049 Olive Tree Enhanced Strong's Dictionary
[2] John 3:16 (KJV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
[3] 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
[4] Mark 16:15 (NKJV) "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."