Monday, May 28, 2012


Photo Credit: taken from a book cover
The problem that exists in every relationship would be solved instantly IF everyone forgives! But...let us be honest; not everyone forgives. Forgiveness is unfair.  Human nature demands retaliation, justice, rights and fairness. If a car accidentally crashed and damaged your parked vehicle, would you just let it go or would you demand justice?  If you are mistreated, will you not demand your rights? Can you just let anyone abuse your rights, mistreat you or take your property without a fight? Where do we put forgiveness in this context?

The word forgiveness is so unnatural. The natural tendency to pursue revenge can overwhelm us in times of tragedy, hurt, pain, abuse and injustice inflicted on us by others. 

Why Forgive? 

1. Forgiveness is for your own Good
Forgiveness is good for your emotional, mental and spiritual health. When you forgive others it is for your own benefit and not for the offender alone. If you harbor hatred, bitterness and revenge, you become a prisoner kept in the cell of your own past. When you forgive, you set a prisoner within. 

When the offender asks for forgiveness and you withhold for the purpose of revenge, you actually hurting yourself. You think you are punishing the other person, but the person are actually punishing and hurting is you. Trying to punish someone else by withholding forgiveness is like strangling yourself with your own handsThe only remedy left to unloose your hands around your neck is forgiveness. When you release that grip, you set yourself free.

2. Forgiveness is for Your Present and the Future
Forgiveness is necessary because of things committed in the past but connected to the future and controlled in the present. The cause of your pain and hurt was done in the past, but you have the power today to heal the pain so that you will have a better tomorrows. Tragic experiences have the potential to destroy both the present and future if they are not forgiven. To forgive is to leave the past and to forgive is to live in the future.

When we forgive offenders, we release ourselves from the grip of the past and resolve to gaze at the future with faith and hope.  Forgiveness is an act of faith.

3. Forgiveness is a Command
The Creator knows why it is important to forgive. Obedience to His command matters to Him. Your relationship with Him and with others is maintained by the act of forgiveness. If forgiveness is a command, it doesn't matter whether or not we feel like forgiving. Forgiveness is not based our feeling but by faith in obedience to the Word of God. 

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Giving of a Mission-Minded Church

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 Here is a sermon outline of a sermon I preached years ago. Feel free to use it!

(2 Corinthians 8: 1-3; Philippians 4: 15-19)
Greg B. Fernandez Jr.
 Preached in Cebu City, Philippines, 2008

How does a mission-minded church give?

(1)   They Give Joyfully (2 Cor. 8: 2) Out of poverty they gave joyfully. In the Bible, poverty is not an excuse for not giving. The Philippian church is not a rich church yet they excel in giving more than the Corinthian church which probably richer than the Philippian church.
(2)   They Give Generously (according to their ability)
(3)   They Give Sacrificially (beyond their ability)

Philippians 4: 19
“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory by Christ Jesus”.
Did you know whom this promise is made? Many people claim this promise without knowing the context that it was first addressed to the Macedonian churches that are mission-minded. This promise is not just for anybody. Some even think that this promise without condition, but they are mistaken. The condition of this promise is missions giving.

  • The promise of Supply
  • The promise of Security
  • The promise of Spirituality

Monday, May 21, 2012

Belief in the Existence of God and/or the Existence of the Afterlife

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It is one thing to believe in the existence of God and it is another to believe in the reality of the afterlife. Not because one believes in God doesn't mean that his belief automatically translate to a belief in the existence of the afterlife-heaven and hell. One should think that there should never be a polarization of a belief in God's existence and a belief in heaven or hell. Yet, a notorious atheist who claimed he believed in God’s existence made the distinction clear. 

As I was reading a book There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind by Antony Flew, I was shocked by the claimed he made. Flew was 81 years old when he accepted the belief in the existence of God. He was a philosopher and a professional atheist. In fact, his works have been reprinted, and his teachings have dominated the 21st century atheism. For him to declare that he now believed in God is a big blow to atheism. Nevertheless, many atheists do not believe that Flew truly changed his mind about God's existence. Those in the atheism camp criticized Flew’s confession merely the result of an old age or the inevitable effect of senility. Others think that this nearing death scenario and the anticipation that he will eventually meet his Creator made him change his thoughts. 

Although Flew confessed that there must be an intelligent designer of the universe, he denied the existence of the afterlife, the Bible-special revelation, and the other arguments on the existence of God. In short, he is not a Christian according to our definition of the term. He does not believe that God intervenes in the affair of people, and that he believes only in God's existence based on the argument that there must be intelligent designer of the universe, but does not believe the Bible and other doctrine we Christians believe. 

Not because you believe that there is God doesn't mean you also believe that there is heaven and hell. Is there really heaven and hell? What if there is no heaven and there’s no hell? But what if there is really a hell?

Those who believe in the Bible should also believe that there is life after death; not everyone does. Even evangelical Christians who believe the Bible define hell differently. The traditional teaching that hell is a literal and an everlasting fire of torment is being challenged by younger thinkers, even in the evangelical camp. 

Does it matter if one believes in hell or not? For others, it does matter. As a matter of fact, many people became Christians as a result of selfish desire to escape hell and gain the eternal bliss of heaven. It does matter to those who are passionate about evangelism and soul-winning; the thought about eternal fire in hell fuels their passion reach one more for Jesus.   

Fortunately, many of those who believe in God and the afterlife live their life day-after-day as if God and afterlife do not exist!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wesleyan Bible Institute (WBI): A Leap of Faith

Wesleyan Bible Institute (WBI) 2010

A LEAP OF FAITH was a message I delivered during the Ground-breaking ceremony of the Wesleyan Bible Institute building in 2007. As I reminisce the tumultuous history of WBI and its closure last year, I cannot but remember the history behind it and the effort and sacrifices of the former missionaries, Rev. Jun and Mamel Rafael.
WBI site was a rice-field  in 2003. In 2004, we (Rafaels and Fernandezs) bought this property from a donation given by Kentwood Community Church (KCC). 
Rev. Greg Fernandez Jr. 
Wesleyan Bible Institute's Ground-Breaking Ceremony Speech: Challenge and Concern
September 13, 2007
Dear pastors, we have called you here today because we want you to have a sense of ownership for this property. This lot (property) and the future building are not for the missionaries but for you. Missionaries won’t stay in Cambodia forever. We have called you to join us today because you are our partners. 

Wesleyan Bible Institute (WBI)

Somebody ask, “Why build a big Bible School when we only have 10 current students”? Yes, but we are going to build this school for the future. This will be a training ground for future Cambodian leaders. This will be for you, for your children and your grandchildren. This will be used also for pastors’ conference, youth convention, and other national church gatherings. We are building for the FUTURE. I want you to see the future and not just the present.

As we are about to begin the project, a huge problem lies ahead. Ahead of us is a vast river/ocean with no boat to carry us across. The only way to cross that ocean is to learn how to SURF. Let’s learn how to Sacrifice, to be United, to take Risk, and move in Faith. 

The great ocean ahead of us is the lack of funding. In short, we do not have enough money complete it. Our donors promised $400, 000 for this project. The best estimate for the building and other expenses, however, will cost $600, 000. To tell you the truth, we already spent $50, 000 for the dirt fill and the wall. This means there is only $350, 000 left from the donor’s promised amount. To make this thing even worse, we do not have this $350, 000 to start the project. Because the donor promised it, I believe they will give it! The problem lies ahead is the remaining $250, 000 to complete the project. Nobody promised to give this amount. Where will we get $250, 000? From us? Yes! But, even if we sacrificed everything we own, it will never compensate this need. Will it come from the donors? No!  There is only one Who can supply this need. He owns all the gold and the cattle in the fields. He created the universe. He can give it if He wants. Our resources cannot, but God’s resources can; it never runs dry.

One early morning, I heard small voice that goes something like this, “Because you do not have money now, it is better to wait until the money comes before you start the project. You do not need a big school now because there are only few students.” Out of this incident, I made two proposals during our previous council meeting: (1) We will take a risk or (2) We will wait. Waiting is the safest thing to do; nevertheless, we chose to take a risk
Dear pastors and students, we will never see what God can do unless we step out in faith. I believe without any shadow of doubts, that if this is God’s will, He will provide the means. In his devotional book, This Day with the Master, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw writes,  “I don’t think we truly believe until we have risked greatly and God has worked for us. Faith that we maintain while sitting in a chair without any danger or vulnerability is not biblical faith at all. Biblical faith emerges when we take a risk and realize that if we do not receive divine help, we will be embarrassed.” What about us? We missionaries are taking risk for this project and are willing to be embarrassed if we do not receive divine help. Are you with us or against us? 
Wesleyan Bible Institute by Greg Fernandez Jr.
Wesleyan Bible Institute (2010)
The construction began in January 2008, was dedicated on January 10, 2009, but was closed in July 2011. The reasons for the closure were complex, but the shortest description is due to a short-sighted vision. John Maxwell was right when he said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership!"


"Where will my children be in 20 years’ time?", "What kind of life have I dreamed for them?" are questions I've asked recently. While I cannot make choices for them when they grow older, certainly, I have responsibility to do for them now. These questions present a challenge on the ultimate responsibility of parenting, which is to prepare children for a successful life of their own. 

When we think of our children’s future we immediately think of their education, and what school is the most affordable and the best that can offer good education for them. To achieve this, we work tirelessly so we can put them in the best school possible-all because of bright tomorrows. For me, being in a foreign country with limited resources is a real challenge for children's education considering that international schools in Phnom Penh are expensive. 

Putting your child to a good school is an important step towards your child’s bright future, but education actually begins at home with parents being the first and best teachers.  Character and values are developed during the early stages of a child’s life; long before the child starts school. It is in the home where children learn how to respect and obey. It is in the home where a child learns basic discipline.  How parents raise their child at home affect their child’s performance at school. Certainly, the school plays an important role in the child’s educational development, character, values and skills.  Good education both at home and at school is complimentary and is inseparable to a child’s better upbringing.

Therefore, if our children’s education begins at home, what are we teaching them? What have we taught our children so far, both in words and deeds? If we are their first teachers, what examples are they learning from us?  Our children learn from us whether we are conscious or unconscious of what we do. Whether or not we teach intentionally, our children follow how we speak, how we treat our spouse, how we eat, sleep, and above all, how we live our life. 

Being the first teachers, parents need to teach with integrity, which is teaching by example. In short, we can only effectively teach our children what we have. Teaching what we know is good, but teaching what we have is much better. Teaching by example is the most important methodology available for parents. It would be difficult to teach my kids to respect others if I don’t respect my spouse. Teaching my children what I don’t practice is powerless. This is where axiom ‘action speaks louder than words’ becomes indispensable. Are we teaching our kids at home? Are we teaching by example?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


When I started this blog in September 2010, I first put the title Spiritual Horizons from the Far East. Why make such title? Well, I wanted to write on Spiritual things at the same time highlighting my Asian identity. There is something in Asian thinking different from Western thoughts and I wanted to highlight some of them in my writing. Unfortunately, I have not been able to write anything that is purely Asian.

Our theology, or should I say our Christianity in Asia is an import product from the West, yet I am quick to admit, we in Asia have not really written our own systematic theology. Perhaps, writing a systematic theology is in itself not Asian; no wonder, we haven't produced one. Some Asian thinkers have written Asian theology at some sort but the systematization of Asian thoughts is yet to come. Maybe it never will.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My 40-Day Fast and How I Managed it!

Two years ago this month, in 2010, I embarked on a 40-day fast and completed it successfully. I drank only squished lime juice and honey from day-one up to day thirty-eight. Lime juice and honey had given me enough energy to go from day-one up to day-38. At times, the temptation to quit and break my commitment was strong. Everyday, I had read lots of article on the web about fasting so that I could stay motivated.

Incessant Spiting During my Fast
On my 35th day, I thought, 'wow this is manageable, Maybe I could go more than forty days'. But I was wrong because on my 36th day, I experienced  something like a 'eternal' spitting. Every minute, my saliva just keeps building up inside my mouth and I couldn't stop and hold it but to had spit. I kept tissue and handkerchief handy. While, at work, driving, or with people, I have my handkerchief at all times. I thought yak...this is very disgusting. Not only disgusting but surely something must be wrong, so I decided to stop the lime juice and honey on my 38th day due to unstoppable and incessant spitting. On my 39th day I consumed only fresh watermelon juice. On my 40th-day I to ate a few grape fruits and some oranges. I felt I just had to break my fast, I can't go on like this! So I had to drink something other than lime and honey; not because of hunger or lack of strength but because of my incessant spitting.

Many People Won't Fast Because of the Love of Food
Appetite is one of the hardest human drives to control. Just the thought of one day without food plagues one's thinking. Too many advertisement is devoted on food. When I was new on Facebook, lots of photos being posted are food related events.

Just watch the commercials on TV or see the food counter. Everything is focused on satisfying our appetite. When you go to the mall, scan the people  how many overweight you can find. This are just one of the evidence that appetite is hard to discipline. To deny yourself for food is not a pleasant experience. A friend of mine tried one-day water fast and he didn't last for 24 hours. When the evening came, he wished its morning so he could resume eating. He finally he got up at 11:00 PM and went to the street and look for something to eat. He confessed, it was very hard to go one-day without food.
What Have I Gained?
This 40-day fast wasn't as hard as I thought it would be because I consumed lime and honey every day. The hard thing was because April-May is a wedding season in Cambodia. I had to go to five weddings and some birthday parties without tasting the delicious food. I sat on the table but drank only the water served.
Talking about spiritual matter, I didn't become more spiritual after the fast. I didn't gain more spiritual power when I did my forty-day fast; I wish I had. The only visible sign after the fast was my physical appearance; I lost 21 kilos during the 40-day fast. After few months, however, I regained my weight! I look unhealthy as I became skinny. In Cambodia, to lose weight that quick, you have been infected with HIV. Thus, my neighbors thought I must have AIDS to lost weight so quickly. They were mistaken of course. 

On the fourth week of February 2011, God impressed in my heart to fast for pure spiritual reasons. There are fours reasons I wanted this fast. First, Personal Holiness, second, Passion for God, third, Providence of God for future Ministry, Fourth, Power for Ministry. These four reasons were very personal. Fasting does not make one more spiritual, although others claim it does. It does not make you more godly. As Christian though, fasting of course is an spiritual discipline that deeply involves the physical realm! I did a 10-day fast. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

DARK TIMES: Spiritual Valley Versus Mountain Top

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As I was browsing one of my old notebooks this afternoon, I found something I had written before-an excerpt from my diary. What I've written caught my attention. I thought it might be of an interest to my readers. Thus, I am posting here on my blog.

The more I examine the dark, the darker it become. Self-doubt plagued me; something I never experienced before. I was choking and I was gasping for fresh spiritual air to breath. Then it dawned on me, my belief in God was not strong enough. I felt like I was going through a period of identity crises as I turn 40. Then I started to ask questions. Is my belief on the traditional evangelical Christianity began crumbling down? Was I just enlightened and ready to ask questions?

Asking questions on the traditional and established tenet of Christianity is not a heresy, I reasoned. This experience plunged me into the valley of despair. Yet, I believe that after every valley, there is a mountaintop. While I long to be at the mountain top, I am thankful that I am in the valley. It is in the valley where God molded the character of His servants.There is something in the valley that we can never find on the mountain top. Suddenly I realized it was during my darkest times that God's light had shown brightest. The darker the night, the brighter the light.
/Greg Fernandez Jr./ 

I'm glad those times are over, but there is no guarantee, they will never come back. As I type this, I am singing the song, "There's a light at the end of the darkness...sometimes we've got to be knocked down to make us look upward. I was looking up from the bottom when it finally shines on me"

I learned that after every mountain top there is a valley, but after every valley there is also a mountain.

Let, me conclude this post with a quote from Tracy: "It’s not in the glory of victory that you find yourself. It’s the times of darkness. It’s through the trials and on that last mile where you build your character and become who you are." Tracy Leet