BY DINO MICIANO
Everyday we wake up, we focus on ourselves. We take care of ourselves, we feed ourselves, we hope the day goes our way. But God didn’t just create us to live for ourselves, he created us for others.
God made us to help our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? It’s our family, it’s our church community, it’s our next door neighbors, it’s any one God puts in our lives.
1 Peter 2:9 - 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
You may think that being called by God is only for missionaries, pastors, evangelists and the like. We are all called to serve. And that just doesn’t take place on a Sunday morning worship service. That is an everyday experience God wants us to go through.
God has given you unique talents and abilities to benefit others. He’s also gifted others to benefit you. Not sharing your abilities and talents to others, robs people of being blessed by what you can share to them. And if they don’t share their abilities and talents to you, you miss out.
For example, if you were mechanically inclined and skilled, wouldn’t it benefit a neighbor if you helped someone who doesn’t have a clue how a car engine works? Maybe your good with finances. Wouldn’t it help someone if you could advice them on how to budget and make investments to grow their wealth?
Culture usually dictates what you can get out of life and people. God on the other hand teaches us to give and make the most out of life by helping others.
When you use your abilities to help others, you will have a more fulfilling life. Romans 7:4 says - 4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
We belong to God through Christ in order to bear fruit for God. That’s a life well lived, a life well spent.
Will you bear fruit for God by blessing someone today? Life isn’t all about us. It’s about your neighbor too.
DEFEATING THE GIANTS IN OUR LIVES
BY DINO MICIANO
Before David faced Goliath, he had to fight other giants in his life. They weren’t physical giants, but they were giants in David’s mind. You and I are most likely to face mental giants than a physical Goliath in our lives.
Mental giants can be just as big and intimidating. They can keep you from becoming all that God wants you to be and they can stop you from fulfilling the hopes and dreams God puts in your heart.
It’s important that we recognize these giants. In 1 Samuel 17:8-11, it reads, 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified..
The first giant we all face is the giant of discouragement. Goliath created a climate of fear in Israel. Everyone, including King Saul, was convinced they were going to lose the battle against him.
Who are you listening to that say it can’t be done? Who is putting down your dream, saying it won’t ever happen? Maybe you need to hear the voice of David who declared: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? Why don’t you declare today, that you will tackle the giants you face in your life. But don’t do it yourself.
Like David, do it by trusting in the Lord. 1 Samuel 17:47 says, “47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
Another giant we might be facing in the giant of doubt. Nobody was a greater expert on war than King Saul but he doubted that David could defeat the hulking Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:33 - 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
Maybe an expert is saying you can’t do it either. That might be enough to make you doubt yourself. Remember, experts are not perfect themselves. They might give you a wrong assessment of your capabilities.
Why don’t you trust the Lord who gave you your hopes and dreams. He is faithful and he keeps all his promises. Ask yourself: · Whose discouraging voices have kept you down? Whose voices do you need to listen to instead? · Which of God’s promises from his Word can you use for encouragement when you start to doubt yourself?
Pastor Dino Miciano
BY DINO MICIANO
Do you feel burned out in life? Burnout happens when you're overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life's relentless demands.
The past couple of years has not been kind to most of us.
The pandemic, the political divide, the loss of jobs, the weak economy, the mass shootings, and just the whole unstableness of life has caused many to be mentally, emotionally and physically drained.
The story of Elijah’s ministry burnout in 1 Kings 19 gives us some great insights into the cause and cures of our own burnout.
In the book of 1 Kings 18, Elijah had challenged the 400 prophets of Baal to prove who was real: Baal or God. And, of course, God won the contest! Many in the nation of Israel turned back to God. You’d think Elijah would be on a high after that. But he wasn’t.
Successes can drain you just as fast as failures.
When Queen Jezebel heard about what happened, she threatened Elijah’s life. Rather than being emboldened by this great ministry success and the revival of the nation, Elijah got so scared he ran to the other side of the desert, hid in a cave and asked God to kill him.
So how did Elijah overcome his burnout?
· Take a break (1 Kings 19:5-8) God doesn’t give Elijah a sermon or a lecture. He lets him eat and sleep. You need this, too. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” You need a day off. In fact, if you’re not taking a day off every week, you’re breaking one of the 10 commandments.
· Surrender your frustrations to God. (1 Kings 19:9-19) God can handle your frustrations. When you take it to other people, that’s gossip. When you take it to God, that’s worship. Complaining to God can be an act of worship because you’re telling God you trust Him with your feelings. Twice during this passage God encourages Elijah to tell Him what’s on his heart. God isn’t shocked when you complain. If you’re feeling down and depressed, tell it to God.
· Have faith in God. (1 Kings 19:11) Get your eyes off of your problem and onto God. Get alone with Him. God showed his power and lets him know that He is in control. You need to relax. The root of all of your burnout is trying to be God. Whenever I start getting burned out, I get alone with God and focus on Him instead of my problems.
· Get back to serving others. (1 Kings 19:15-16) God gave Elijah a new assignment. He wasn’t done with him. And he isn’t done with you either. You’ve got to start thinking of someone other than yourself. The quickest way to defeat depression is to get involved in helping other people.
So, are you feeling burned out in life? Why not take these steps to recovery.
Pastor Dino Miciano
BY DINO MICIANO
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19
When we are bombarded with challenges in life, God seems a million miles away. But he is closer than you could ever imagine. As a matter of fact, he’s right there with you at this moment.
God being close is not so much a feeling but a promise of He makes. The Psalmist understood this. He declares in Psalm 145:18 that God is close to those who call on him in “truth.” Our feelings don’t always speak the truth but God’s Word is a constant truth in our lives.
Psalm 145:19 promises three things concerning God’s nearness to us: He fulfills our desires but qualifies what desires he will fulfill. We must first fear the Lord. Fear in this context is not about feeling afraid but a mindset that shows a deep respect and reverence for God. It goes against God’s character to fulfill a desire we have that doesn’t honor him. But when we are aligned with God’s truth, nothing can get in the way of God blessing us. Knowing God’s truth is key. So take the time daily to seek God’s truth found in the Bible. God’s written word helps us realize how much God wants to be with us and allow us to live a life that is blessed and fulfilled.
He hears our cry. God listens! Many times, others don’t have the time for us or don’t want to listen to our struggles. They have their own struggles to deal with. Not the Lord God. He has all the time for us and gives us an ear. Psalm 34:17-18 assures us that: 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
He saves. God doesn’t just listen, he does something for us. He rescues us in our despair and trouble. God is ever present in our pain.
Take the time to know God’s heart today. Call on him. He is right there with you. He is waiting.
BY DINO MICIANO
As we start the year 2022, it’s best that we give our lives some thought. Before we fall into the routine of things, I encourage you to assess your life. Do you need to make changes?
Then perhaps, it’s time to change how we think.
Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief and every action is prompted by an attitude.
We are advised to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Whatever we feed our thoughts (our heart) will be manifested in our actions.
William James, an American psychologist said - “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.” Our thoughts dictate our life and behavior.
The apostle Paul reminded his readers in Romans 12:2 – “ Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It is telling us here that God can change us when our thinking changes.
Change always starts with the mind. The way we think determines the way we feel, the way we feel determines the way we act.
We all have tendencies to act out in certain ways. That’s because our mind is made to think that way. That’s the reason why people go back to the same habits all the time.
They try to quit procrastinating or smoking but it will only last for a while. Then, it’s back to the old ways. Why? Your thinking pattern hasn’t changed. Maybe you think it’s okay as long as you hide it, as long as others are not affected by it, or you think you are in control of it.
We need to start thinking – “does my action glorify God?” God uses his Word, the Bible, and his presence to change our thinking. Don’t wait for a drunken rage or an embarrassing situation to wake you up to the truth – it might be too late.
Colossians 3:16 – “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .” Fill your thoughts with Jesus’ teaching so that you may have discernment and direction with your life’s decisions.
Through Scripture we are taught how to live. 2 Tim. 3:16 –17 - “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
This New Year, observe your thoughts and see where it leads you. Maybe we need to change how we think. May God’s Word guide you in the ups and downs that this year will bring.
BY DINO MICIANO
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
Many songs we sing at Christmas are reminders that Christmastime is supposed to be happy. But let me ask you: Is that what you are experiencing this season? Probably not.
For some of you, personal problems are keeping you from experiencing the joy of the season. For others, you feel like one crisis after another has run you over. With such a flood of problems, it is hard to have a holly-jolly Christmas.
Disillusionment at Christmas is not an unusual thing. We get so hyped up with expectations about what Christmas is supposed to be that often the real thing doesn't measure up, and we are disappointed.
What can you do this Christmas to avoid disillusionment? How can you improve your level of joy this Christmas?
The answer is found in the story of the magi in Matthew 2. Magi, wise men from the East, saw a star that indicated the birth of a new king in Israel. Wanting to honor Him with gifts, they set out on a journey following the star to find this newborn King. From the attitudes of these wise men and the events that surrounded their journey, we see how we can raise our level of joy at Christmas.
What do you seek?
Ask the question: What is it I want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Snow? All the family together and happy? A feeling you define as the holiday spirit? Finding the right present to give? Getting the present you have been hoping for?
The problem with all these is that they can leave us disappointed.
Have you ever had that kind of experience - when you were disappointed by Christmas because it did not deliver what you thought it would? The problem is not Christmas. It is in our expectations. We are looking for the wrong thing.
The magi show us how to increase our level of joy at Christmas by looking for the right thing. What was it they were looking for? They came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus.
That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas - an experience of worship, a fresh glimpse of He who was born. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then I doubt very seriously we will be dissatisfied with our experience.
It is my prayer that you find joy this season by celebrating the celebrant of Christmas – Jesus Christ our Lord.
BY DINO MICIANO
Whether you’re into sports or not, you can’t help but hear or watch what is happening in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Yes, it’s still called the 2020 Olympics. But that’s not what I’m here to write about.
I’m far from being an athlete. As a matter of fact, I’m a try-athlete. I do try but I’m just not talented enough to thrive in sports. However, there are many things in athletics or sports that we can learn and apply into our lives. The New Testament is full of illustrations about sports.
Here’s one passage in the Bible that uses running a race as an illustration for life. 1 Cor. 9:24-27 – “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
We are all in the race of life. We all run in it but we don’t all run like winners. For many of us, the circumstances of life dictate how we live rather than us making the decisions to live the best life no matter what the circumstances are.
In 1 Cor. 9:24, the apostle Paul encourages us to run in such a way as to get the prize. It’s another way of saying, give it your best shot.
So how do we do this? In verse 25, the writer reminds us that an athlete goes into strict training. For an athlete to excel in their sport, they have to daily condition their body, refine their athletic skills and repeat that everyday until game time. The daily grind of training is not as exciting as playing the game but that’s what it takes for an athlete to rise up when needed.
So it is with life.
If we want to be a responsible adult who is a positive influence at home or in the workplace, we have to stay responsible and positive when no one is watching. If we want to live a godly life, showing up in church once a week is not sufficient. Godliness is a way of thinking and living daily.
Verse 26 tells us that we should not run aimlessly. We all need a purpose and goals to reach that purpose. Ask yourself, “What marks do I need to see in my life that will tell me that I am winning in the race of life?” Have you been able to define that?
One thing that will help us in defining what a win is, is to learn from those who have already won. Hebrews 12: 1-2 - And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
When it comes to winning, Jesus is the champion. He overcame sin, death and the grave. He fulfilled all the major messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Today, he lives and reigns in his heavenly throne. Why not learn from him and practice every game winning advice he has given to us as written in the Bible.
Don’t just admire the winners in this year’s Olympic games . . . be a winner yourself in the race of life. Give it your best shot. As you follow Jesus, the champion, may you live the best life ever.
--- By the way, congratulations to Hidilyn Diaz on winning the Philippine’s first Olympic gold medal.
BY DINO MICIANO
Give us today our daily bread.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God’s provisions in their lives, he taught them to pray with trust and restraint. He teaches his disciples to ask only for what they need for the day.
He does this because it is a human tendency to ask for more than what we need.
Our society lives in excess. We have refrigerators filled with food that eventually goes to waste. We have kitchen pantries filled with goods we never consume. We have closets full of clothes that we have only used once and may never be used again. Our garages are filled with all kinds of items that never see the light of day.
Have you seen the lines of cars daily dropping off stuff at the thrift stores? It takes maturity to be responsible and only take what we can consume at one given moment.
We always worry about what we need beyond today. But that shouldn’t be the case. Jesus, in his prayer, teaches us to depend upon God who knows what we already need. In Matthew 6:8, Jesus declares with confidence that – “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Jesus is not telling us that we shouldn’t plan or prepare ahead. He is simply telling us not to worry because that can paralyze a person from living life. Just trust Him daily!
There is a similar prayer in Proverbs 30:8-9 that says – “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
Philippians 4:19 promises – “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
God never promises to meet all our “greeds.” But He will give us all we need and He will do it daily.
When my kids were young, it was always my concern to make sure their needs were met. If an imperfect father, like me, is concerned about those things, how much more our perfect Heavenly Father?
God cares about your finances, your health, your career, your marriage,and your entire life. He cares about you.
Will we trust Him to daily supply our needs, not our greed?
BY DINO MICIANO
Proverbs 3:27 – “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”
It must break the heart of God to see how we treat each other, sometimes . . . or perhaps, most of the time. We only have to read or watch the news to observe how divided we are.
At the core of all this is a life that is self-centered.
Self-centeredness has a tendency to elevate ourselves over others. It is when we think our world view, our opinion, or our perspective is the only thing that is right. It creates a deaf ear towards how others see the world and what they are going through.
We need to change this.
God has given us the power to affect change that can bring us together, rather than tear us apart. One way to go about this is to do good when everyone else is just mouthing their strong opinions. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to agree with us, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot act out of a good and kind heart.
We only have to turn to God who can empower us to do so and give us the opportunity to show that goodness.
So, will we choose to stay self-centered and self-focused? Or will we take the time to notice the people around us who need a listening ear, a word of hope and encouragement, to meet a practical need or for someone to just believe in them.
We live in a hurting world and hurt people only hurt people. We all need to shift and change that. Proverbs 3:27 tells us “not to withhold good.” This should not just remain a good thought but an act that needs to be practiced.
Now is the time to make that change. If we wait for people or situations to change, acting out that good that God wants from us will never happen. We are never guaranteed tomorrow.
Ask yourself, is there an opportunity, at the moment, where you can extend goodness and kindness to someone? What’s stopping you? What’s your excuse? That window of opportunity might be coming to a close. So, why wait?
Let us act quickly and take the steps to creating a world that will not only be good for today but even better for the generations to come. You have the power to make it happen.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
Are you caught in a jam, at the moment? How did you end up there?
Proverbs 27:12 states that, “The prudent (wise) see danger and take refuge, but the simple (fool, naive) keep going and pay the penalty.”
In life, danger always lurks around the corner, but we don’t have to live in fear of that. We only have to be prepared for whatever comes our way. Proverbs 27:12 describes two kinds of people – the wise and the simple. Simple used here in the proverbs is not a flattering description. It actually describes a fool or someone who doesn’t think or assess the situations of life. The wise person on the other hand sees danger.
A wise person is someone who has a wealth of wisdom and experience. This is someone who has been there and learned his or her lessons. The wise person is also someone who learns from other’s advice and experiences. Because of that, the wise person is someone who sees things coming their way. When they sense danger, they “take refuge.” They take refuge by avoiding the situation and sheltering themselves from the hazards that lie ahead.
The simple minded person is someone who will just walk into danger without giving it thought because they just don’t see it. They are never aware. They never listen to good advice and they think that decisions today don’t have subsequent consequences.
So what’s dangerous about life?
Danger could come in many forms. It hides behind what attracts us but is a lure to hook us in. It’s important to ask ourselves important questions in life like: Are the people I surround myself with going to be a positive and godly influence in my life or will hanging around them cause me to think and act foolishly? Is it worth purchasing that item? Do I really need it or is it something I can live without? Am I living within my means? How will my current decisions affect my future and those whom I care about? Am I financially prepared for a rainy day.
A wise person will pause to assess and see what the outcome of their decisions will produce tomorrow. A simple minded person just doesn’t care at the moment. There is a word of warning in the proverb – they will “pay the penalty.”
Do you find yourself paying the penalty of a bad decision that wasn’t given too much thought? Jesus taught us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Perhaps, that is what we should be praying for, as often as possible, so that we can “see danger and take refuge.” Who better to help us avoid getting into a jam than God himself who sees all things and knows all things.
Be guided by the His words in the Bible. Let Him be your main source of refuge.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
Have you been feeling down and out lately? If so, Psalm 42:5 reads: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42 was obviously written by someone experiencing some level of depression.
This psalm provides some answer to overcome discouragement and depression.
There are various causes of depression but it always starts when we only see our dire situation and not see the bigger picture. For one thing the psalmist experienced this because he did not get his plans fulfilled. He wanted to join the pilgrim’s annual trip to
the temple but he could not go (42:4).
Not only had his plans not been fulfilled but his feelings had not been relieved (42:3). He was feeding on tears instead of eating his meals. The enemy was taunting him and nobody was sympathizing with him.
Furthermore, his questions had not been answered. “Why?” Clearly, the writer wants his plans fulfilled; his feelings improved and his questions answered. He is so busy looking at himself he doesn’t look to God.
We must learn to see God in our lives. Even in darkness God is there. Job 35:10 says, “God gives me songs in the night.”
The author asked “why” around ten times. “Why” is not an easy question to answer. That’s a common question asked by children. It is normal to ask “why” especially when we are going through confusing experiences. It is not wrong to ask questions to God but it is wrong when we start questioning God.
Do you sense the writer getting impatient? “Where is God?” “Why doesn’t he do something?” “When will it all fall in place?”
Had the psalmist looked at God’s promises instead of reasons, he would’ve immediately found medicine for his aching heart.
· God promises to care (42:1) – If God cares for the creatures around us will he not care for you? Aren’t we more valuable than these (Matt. 6:26)
· God is the living God (42:2) – Just because we don’t see God doesn’t mean he is not at work in our lives. The truth is: He is alive and he cares.
· God promises to be faithful (42:3, 8) – Nature hints that. There is always a day and a night because God allows that to happen. He is faithful in his ways.
· God promises to forgive and cleanse (42:4) – God gives us a fresh start so we don’t need to live in our past mistakes.
· God promises to be our strength and refuge (42:6) – the hills and mountains were the most dependable things the Old Testament people knew. There can be no mountaintop experiences without the valleys. But God is God of both the hills and the valleys.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
The year 2020 will certainly be remembered in our shared memory as the year of unending crises. The rhythm of life was altered. It was a year that left a trail of lives lost, businesses permanently shut down, the educational system shifted, entertainment redefined, political systems more polarized and the list goes on.
As we welcome 2021, we seem to be starting off with the same crises at hand. On top of that, we all wonder what else lies ahead.
God's Word brings us a comforting promise, along with an insightful command as we face a New Year: “5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
We can live this coming year with courage if we apply these incredibly wonderful truths to our lives and root them deep into our hearts.
· God provides our daily needs - 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have
Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. First Timothy 6:6-8 says, 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Do you know why we fear what lies ahead? It’s because we think our needs are not going to be met. As many interruptions as we have had in the past year, we have to be reminded that we are still here today because God has sustained us. Continue to trust that God’s unending resources will never run out.
· God is with us and He keeps His promises - because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
I don't know what we’re going to face in the new year but there's one thing I know, God will never leave us. Do you trust in God? He will never leave you either.
When God's Word promises that God will never forsake you, it literally means that He will never abandon you. He will not give up on you. We need to remain in the presence of the Lord this coming year. When the devil comes and knocks at your heart's door, you can simply say, "Jesus, please go answer the door."
We're going to zero in on a little phrase in our verses in Hebrews, "God has said." A promise is no better than the one who makes it. Who is making the promise written in Hebrews 13? It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. This is the confidence we can have in His promise.
In the coming year, when you say, "God, I just don't have the strength." The omnipotent God will answer, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When you say, "God, I'm afraid of what is going to happen." The omnipresent God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." And when you say, "God, I don't know what to do." The omniscient God will respond, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
· God protects - 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
People can offer help and fail but we can say with certainty – The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
As mentioned earlier, I don't know what we're going to go through this coming year. But when you find your contentment, companionship, and confidence in the Lord Jesus, you can face the unknown with unwavering courage.
It is my prayer that you all stay resilient as you put your trust in God. Whatever life throws at you, remember God is always with you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
How do you measure the worth or value of things? A gold watch and a plastic watch will tell you the same time. So what’s the difference?
The answer lies in the value of things. A Rolex is not the same as a Seiko. It differs due to the material, the design, craftsmanship, rarity and experience received by the user.
The makers of a Rolex watch don’t settle for anything less than the best material. High quality materials are used like – hand sewn leather, refined 18 karat gold and flawless diamonds.
On top of that you have the fine craftsmanship that add to their value. These products
combine “function and beauty, durability with symmetry, and harmony with excellence in design and craftsmanship.”
Another important factor is that the rarer the product is the rarer or more uncommon the substance or product is – the more valuable the product becomes. Most of the exquisite products are not mass produced. Example: leather is less common than vinyl. A diamond is rarer than crystal. That’s what makes a Rolex rare and therefore valuable.
Finally the robustness, shelf-life and durability add to the value of a product. Stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. Gold is what heirlooms are made of.
That’s why you never hand down paper plates as heirloom to your children. But fine China – that is worth passing on down to the next generation.
God operates on values as well. The only difference is God does not value the inanimate objects as much as we do. God values people so much more.
When you compare a Rolex to a human being, pound for pound that person will have a greater value than material things.
Consider how our body works. Our bodies are far more complex than a Rolex watch. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14 declares – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
God is our craftsman, our designer. Even if you combined the geniuses in Apple and Microsoft – they would not be able to produce a supercomputer like our brain. Our brain is a complex organic matter.
And talk about rare – no one is like you and so are the people that surround you.
Let’s value what God values because who is there better to set our standards in life than the one who created us uniquely and intricately. Value God and value people over everything else. These are what matter the most. Now tell those people you value how much they mean to you and express that everyday of your lives.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Many have narrowed down Christianity to simply attending a church service once a week . . . nowadays that would be online only for most. Is that what Christianity has turned into?
When reading the Gospels, we never encounter Jesus and his followers only attending a religious service once a week. As a matter of fact, everywhere Jesus went, it was a spiritual experience with God.
Very early in Jesus’ ministry, he called out several unknown men from various villages to follow him. In Matthew 9:9-13, the Gospel writer describes his first encounter with Jesus of Nazareth.
Matthew was found sitting at the tax collector’s booth. Back in those days, Jewish tax collectors were reviled by their own people since they were hired by Rome as agents to collect taxes for them. They were considered traitors to Israel.
As Jesus, approached Matthew, the first thing he utters are two words that would redirect the trajectory of Matthew’s life. Jesus tells him, “Follow me.” Was this for real? Imagine the shock of many who where within ear’s shot of this conversation. Jesus, the
Rabbi, the miracle worker, was calling a despised man to follow him.
Matthew’s response was quick – he got up, followed Jesus and invites him for dinner at his house. We can see from Matthew’s response his excitement to be welcomed by a Jewish teacher and miracle worker to become his friend. Matthew didn’t have many friends. He was viewed as a traitor by most. For this reason, Matthew abandons the tax booth and follows Jesus.
In Matthew 9:10-11, we see the reaction of the religious elite known among the Jews as the Pharisees. They were a religious brotherhood of men whose life devotion was to discuss and interpret the Jewish scriptures – to us it’s better known as the Old Testament.
The Pharisees questioned Jesus’ other disciples by asking: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Notice that tax collectors were categorized apart from sinners. They were considered the worst of sinners.
Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ inquiry: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees message was: “Change, get right and then follow us.”
Jesus’ message was: “Follow me and then change will take place.”
Which one do we identify with? Which one spoke clearly the message of God? Who among the two, will we most likely follow?
Jesus’ call to follow him is about having a relationship with him. Christianity must not be simply narrowed down to attending a religious service once a week. It is defined by following the God who calls us daily to have a living, life-transforming, relationship with him.
Jesus calls all of us to follow him today. Will you take that step of faith and follow him? He wants to have a relationship with you that will transform your life. That relationship, is the true mark of Christianity.
NetWork Christian Ministries
BY DINO MICIANO
The most quoted verse when it comes to trials is James 1:2-4 – “ Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
This bible passage is not telling us to be joyful of the trials. There’s nothing joyous about trials in and of themselves. Instead, it’s being joyful because of what trials can accomplish if we trust God. It produces maturity, growth and a complete life.
God uses trials to fulfill His purposes in the lives of His people. Trials however, are not simply a tool. It is God’s most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances that we consider as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense inner growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, trials become easier to bear.
Romans 8:28 tells us – “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
This verse tells us that in “all things” God works for the good of those who love him – that means the good and the bad experiences of life.
And what good is this verse talking about? The “good” of Romans 8:28 is not necessarily the story of a man who loses a job and gets a better one. It may be the story of a man who loses his job and comes to a greater understanding of what it means to trust God daily. The “good” is not necessarily the story of a young woman who loses her love only to find a better catch. Instead it could be the story of a woman who through the tragedy of a lost love discovers God’s call to enter into full-time Christian service.
I realize that talking about trials is easier said than done. I realize that a sermon can seem to simplify matters but it’s always different when you’re in the trial itself. I realize that. I get it.
Yes God could easily remove all the trials in our lives but He doesn’t. Again, he knows that trials will lead to our spiritual advancement. He always wants us to grow up. Why? Because he has great plans and only a grown up, spirit-filled, and Bible-centered person can measure up to God’s great plans.
There is no doubt, that in this year of great uncertainty, we all face trials of many kinds. Perhaps, God is shaping us for a better life ahead that will benefit many.
May you find joy and strength in the Lord today.
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
HOW CAN I COPE WITH STRESS?
By DINO MICIANO
Stress by definition is: “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”
Does that describe you and what you are experiencing right now? Stress can’t be avoided but I believe it can be managed.
Jesus Christ was constantly under pressure. There were grueling demands on his time; he rarely had any personal privacy; he was constantly interrupted. People repeatedly misunderstood him, criticized him and ridiculed him. He had enormous stress which would have made many of us to cave in.
But as we look at the life of Christ, we quickly discover that he remained at peace under pressure. He was never in a hurry. He was always at ease. He had a calmness about his life that enabled him to handle enormous amounts of stress. How did he do it? Let’s
reference some quotes from Jesus to guide us into managing stress.
Know who you are
Jesus said this about himself:· John 8:12 - "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."· John 10:9 - I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.· John 14:6 - I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.· John 10:11 - I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.· John 10:36 - I am God's Son
Jesus knew who he was and it’s also important for us to know ourselves, otherwise, someone else will try to tell you who you they think you are. When you let others tell you who you are, they will manipulate and pressure you into believing someone you are not. Unless you know who you are you will be hindered by insecurity.
Know what you’re trying to accomplish
John 8:14 – “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”
Unless you plan your life and set priorities, you will be pressured by other people to do what they think is important. Choose to live by priorities or live by pressure.
Focus on one thing at a time
Do you always catch yourself being pulled in many directions? Several people tried to detour Jesus from his planned schedule. They tried to distract him from his goal in life. Luke 4:42 – “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.”
Jesus responded in verse 43 – “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Jesus was a master in concentration. Jesus kept moving toward his goal.
Don’t do it all yourself
Mark 3:13 – “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” Jesus delegated his work.
Why do we get so stressed? Because we think the world will stop if we do. Jesus did one thing: to get to the cross but he recruited others to share the message of the cross.
Make a habit of personal prayer
Mark 1:35 – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Prayer is a God-given tool for relieving us of stress. If Jesus made time to pray, how much more do we need it?
Jesus said in Matt. 11:28-30 – “ "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."”
Don’t go through life without God.
Take time off to enjoy life
Mark 6:31 – “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Take time off and get the proper rest. Sleep in on a Saturday and get those 8 (make it 10) hours of sleep. Rest and recreation are never optional. They are a necessity of life. Even God put it as one of the 10 commandments. Dino MicianoPastorNetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org(August 2020)
ARE YOU READY FOR WHAT's NEXT
BY DINO MICIANO
Someone once said that “life is always in transition.” Now, that’s the understatement of 2020.
I guess we should’ve known that this year was going to be full of challenges when the fireworks at the Space Needle didn’t happen. Okay, I’m being silly when I say that, but it has been a ferocious chain of transitions so far this year. I can’t recall in my lifetime, how a set collective of changes have happened so quickly in such a brief moment in time, like 2020.
I know we all share the sentiment . . . when is it going to stop? What’s next?
We can’t tell what comes next. But what if there was a way to prepare for the next big challenge? What if we could do something now to influence where we end up?
Before I share my thoughts on that, let’s be clear about something . . . regardless of what’s next, you are “you” and you take yourself to that next challenge in life. The question is: Am I ready for the transition? Am I going to be able to adjust?
What does the Bible have to say about that? James 1:22-25 reads: 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Everybody who intently stands in front of a mirror, does something about how they look. It requires a response. We don’t leave until we see that we look better. But more important than our physical appearance, is our attitude and behavior.
No one gets credit for looking in the mirror in the real world. If you are in the habit of seeing something but doing nothing, you will keep that habit in the next transition.
The next big transition isn’t going to change you. You take “you” to the next step. The change is only going to happen if you are ready to change and adjust from within.
So much has changed in the world this year, but what about you has changed? Have you adjusted? Are you a better person today than yesterday? What needs to change in you so that you can thrive in the next big transition in life?
Take a look at the mirror. What do you see? Remember, our greatest regrets in life will always be associated with seeing and listening but not doing . . . and particularly, not doing what God wants us to do.
Two questions to ask yourself today:
• What are you doing now, that you shouldn’t be doing?
• What are you not doing now, that you should be doing?
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
BY DINO MICIANO
As we enter into the final weeks of Spring 2020, many of are still finding ourselves in quarantine and isolation.
As cities begin to reopen in this year of uncertainty, the possibilities of closing down is a reality that we may have to go through once again. I pray for the best but also believe in preparing for the usual surprises that life brings.
As we continue to isolate and possibly go through this again in the near future, here are some thoughts on how to live and thrive in isolation.
1. Plan your day
Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Time is limited and quickly passes by. It’s important to make the most of our time because hours can go by and before we know it, much of the day is gone. The lack of structure in the face of uncertainty can result to anxiety.
So, create a schedule and plan when you will do the following: work, house chores, cook, exercise, read, watch or listen to entertainment, relax, pray, and connect with the people that matter.
2. Choose what you will consume
Philippians 4:8 – “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Don’t leave the TV on in the background so you can stay informed. Don’t spend countless hours scrolling through social media. Too much random information can spike anxiety.
Why? You will feel like losing out if you miss information.
There was a time when we didn’t have the amount of information we have today and life moved along. Yes, there are advantages to have whatever information we need by simply asking Google. But, do we need all the information out there? No. Decide what information you need for the day. Resist the urge to read and watch everything . Your mind can only take too much.
And by the way, it goes without saying, watch what you eat. You will have another day to consume all the delicacies the world has to offer. This leads me to my next point to ponder upon . . .
1 Timothy 4:8 - “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.”
Physical exercise has some value. You don’t need a gym to exercise. There’s no harm in walking around the neighborhood as long as you practice social distancing at this time.
No weights? Then, use your body weight and do push ups, pull ups, squats, jump, run, and just start moving. A consistent physical program will not only lead to a strong body but a clear mind.
Also, spiritual exercise is valuable in every way. Why? According to the Bible, it promises life for both the present and the future. We are spiritual beings and that too needs to be tested.
I believe in a personal God who engages himself in human affairs and desires the best for all. I pray, read the Bible, meet the needs of others, and trust that God is leading and guiding me though all the situations I face in life. My faith in God brings me hope to keep making progress towards the future. It benefits me and those around me as I try to live the best life to honor God and contribute good to society.
4. Maintain social support
Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Surround yourself with people who will support you through everything in life and do the same for them.
Talking to other people about what you're going through can reduce your anxiety. Just make sure you're talking about strategies that help you feel better and not making catastrophic predictions that fuel your anxiety.
Have friends and family encircle your life and bring the best out of each other. As you isolate, call, text, video chat for now. The time will come when we will be able to physically gather again.
I am praying the best for all of you. Keep living!
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
BY DINO MICIANO
Anxiety is on the rise these days and worry is taking its toll on the world. When times are uncertain, our mind starts to wonder what tomorrow is going to look like for us and those around us.
No one can escape this experience but God’s word gives us a reminder to help ease the uneasiness that we all feel today.
Jesus spoke these words recorded my Matthew, the gospel writer - Matt. 6:25-34 - 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God is still in charge and I understand how many would question that. It doesn’t help when we are drowning in our troubles but it would be wise to consider the word’s of Jesus in Matt.6:25 – “do not worry about your life.”
Webster’s dictionary defines worry as- “thinking about problems or fears: to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.
Worrying is a choice. It is focusing and giving in to anxiety, fear and discomfort. It is allowing our minds to dwell on difficulty and troubles to the point of despair. That is why we need to pull back and evaluate what we are viewing, listening to and thinking about.
In Matt. 6:27, Jesus asked, “27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The answer to that is no. We can’t protect ourselves from Covid-19 through worry.
But we can take certain measures by sanitizing our environment, washing our hands, practicing social distancing, keeping ourselves productive while staying home, or simply resting our minds and body.
Don’t let worry rob you of the things that you are capable of doing.
And finally, Jesus gives us two more things to do to ease our anxiety and rid our lives of worry. In Matt. 6: 33, he tells us, “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Relax and give your worries to God.
Realize that God is bigger than the pandemic we face. Focus on what God has provided you and count your blessings. 1 Peter 5:7 reads – “7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
The second thing Jesus’ advices us is found in Matt. 6:34 - 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In other words, live one day at a time. All we really have is today and if tomorrow comes, let’s deal with it then. So, live today and make the most of it.
I pray that God, through his providence, will guard you, protect you, save you and allow you to rest today.
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
BY DINO MICIANO
Much has changed in the world since my last article and all of us are affected by the current global crisis we face today. So how do we deal with it? How do we stay calm and maintain our confidence and courage, regardless of what happens?
First thing we need to do is to gather the facts and not allow fear to drive our decisions and actions. Not everyone with an opinion on TV, radio, or social media knows what they are talking about. We live in unprecedented times. Be selective with the sources you listen to. Proverbs 13:16 reminds us: “The wise man always acts out of knowledge.”
Secondly, we need to anchor ourselves on one thing that never changes and that is God’s presence in our lives. So much has changed in such a short period of time. From this day forward, there will be a new normal in the world. In the midst of this changing world, there is a God who remains constant. Hebrews 13:8 tells us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Thirdly, don’t live through this crisis alone. Surround yourself with a community where there is a mutual relationship among the people in that circle. That community should be marked by giving and receiving and that every member contributes and does their part. In this day of social distancing and isolation, I hope you realize who those people are. Allow them to love you and do your part by loving them and serving them back. In addition to that, there is power in being part of a church where God and people interact. The combination of both allows support that is both natural and supernatural.
Finally, may you find your purpose while living through this crisis. We all have a part to play to battle this world’s problems. Be God’s voice, His hands, and His feet that reaches out to this world. We all need to have a sense of destiny.
No person is born by accident. You are not here on earth just to take up space; God has a specific purpose and plan for your life. Don’t let a crisis paralyze you. Do all you can in the conditions you live in, with the limitations that you may have and trust that God will use your life to impact other lives beyond your reach and imagination.
Remember the five loaves of bread and two fish that was offered to Jesus to feed the multitude? When placed in the hands of Jesus, it was multiplied to feed thousands. Use whatever resources you have and trust God who is our ultimate source to multiply your life and offerings to him to impact this world.
I pray that all of you will be protected by God’s might and power. Even though a disease may strike you, my prayer is that you will hold on to the hope that God provides us . . . that He heals, He saves, and He promises us an incredible future in His eternal kingdom. Storms may hide God’s presence from us, but storms never hide our presence from God. He sees us always and has the best in mind for each of us. Let’s press on and continue to pray for one another. Trust in the Lord who will save and heal this world.
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
TRUST IN JESUS' AUTHORITY BY DINO MICIANO I have just returned, together with our church, from visiting the Holy Land of Israel. One of the sites that we visited was the town of Capernaum. Capernaum is located near the Sea of Galilee and is known to be the town where Jesus set up his headquarters for ministry. Should you have the chance to visit this place someday, you will find the ruins of a synagogue with most of its walls, pillars and flooring still intact dating back from the time of Jesus. This particular synagogue is mentioned in Luke 7 and Matthew 8 and was built and funded by a Roman centurion who was stationed in the town of Capernaum. This doesn’t sound right because Rome didn’t want to have anything to do with the Jewish religion. But this was a unique situation and Luke 7 gives an explanation for this centurion’s support for the people in Capernaum and their faith. Luke 7:1-6 - When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. This centurion, who funded the building of the synagogue in Capernaum had a servant, whom he valued dearly. Unfortunately, this servant was very ill and near his death. Having heard that Jesus was in town, he sent some influential Jewish leads to seek for Jesus’ help. Luke 7:4-5b says, 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” This centurion has endeared himself to the people by generously building for them a synagogue. He was most likely interested in their pure worship of God as well as their moral code, which far exceeded anything found in the Roman world. Jesus accepts the invitation to heal the servant. As he approaches, he is met by another delegation, friends of the centurion. They tell Jesus not to trouble himself with the long walk because, as the officer said, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” – Luke 7:6-7. The centurion was aware that Jews were not to go into the home of a Gentile. Since he respects their customs, naturally he does not want to embarrass Jesus by asking him to do something that will allow the Jewish leaders to condemn him. He only ask that Jesus say the word and the servant will be healed. As one accustomed to receiving and giving orders, the centurion knows that a word of authority must be obeyed – Luke 7:8. When Jesus hears this statement, he marvels and tells those following him that he has not yet found such faith in Israel – Luke 7:9. Turning to the centurion’s friends, Jesus tells them to go their way. The officer believes so what he asks shall be done. And the servant was healed that very hour – Luke7:10. The physical distance between the ill servant and Jesus is no barrier to the power of God. Although the servant was the recipient of God’s healing, the centurion received the greater gift – he found his Lord – the one with power and authority . . . Jesus. Authority and obedience belong together. The centurion is under the orders of his superior. His time is not his own. The authority he has over others is possible because he is himself obedient to authority. On a different level, the centurion recognizes that this is also true of Jesus. He is simply doing what God wants. Because of his relationship with the Father, what he says must be obeyed. The centurion knows Jesus is Lord and simply acts accordingly. How about you? Do you believe in the authority and power of Jesus? Why not ask him what you need today. Don’t let the barriers of life stop you from asking Jesus to do a miracle in your life today. Trust him, he’s got authority like no other. He is God and Lord over all. The centurion believed in Jesus power and authority. As a result, his beloved servant was healed. Dino Miciano Pastor NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org (March 2020)
LEARN TO NUMBER YOUR DAYS
BY DINO MICIANO It was January 26, 2020, Sunday morning, and I had just finished preaching a sermon. As I stepped down from the stage, two church members immediately approached me and announced that Kobe Bryant had just died in a helicopter crash.
At first I thought it was some prank news but when I searched the web on my mobile device, the headlines from every news source had confirmed the heartbreaking story.
Kobe, together with his daughter and seven other people were all casualties in the horrible accident. In just a matter of seconds, every post on social media was a response to this unbelievable news.
When someone who has left a mark in this world, is all of a sudden gone, everyone is shocked and reminded of how brief and frail life really is. Everyone’s sentiment after feeling the loss is a reminder to love more and live more. Life is too short.
As a pastor, I have spent many moments with people in their final hours in this life. There are many regrets.
But the top two regrets I often hear are: “I wish I wasn’t so busy. I should’ve spent more time with my loved ones.” The other one is: “I wish I had the courage to live true to myself and not the life others expected of me.”
If we could fast forward our lives, would these be the words we utter?
More tragic than death, is a life wasted and ended with regrets.
Everyone will leave this life one day but it doesn’t have to end with the words . . . “I should’ve” or “I could’ve.” We can end life on this side of heaven so much better.
Like the apostle Paul, I pray that we could all leave this world with the words: “7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing – 2 Timothy 4:7-8.”
In Psalm 90:12, the Psalmist offers a prayer request before God to - “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Why number our days? The second half of the verse answers the question . . . “that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
If we don’t learn how to number our days or realize the brevity of life, we will fill our lives with stuff and activities that are not necessary.
Realizing that our earthly life is limited should make us figure out what we should leave out of our lives and keep close to our hearts. If we do that, we will be wise and avoid ending with regrets.
So let me help you out and think about the following:· Which person or what activity do I need to add to my life?· Which person or what activity do I need to subtract from my life?· What do I need to do more?· What do I need to do less?
May you all live life well and strong!
Dino MicianoPastorNetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org(February 2020)
BY DINO MICIANO
Last month, our church community – NetWork Christian Ministries – just celebrated its 25th year anniversary. It was in 1994, that our church in the Philippines sent us to the US as missionaries to minister in the Pacific Northwest.
We’ve planted and established several communities of faith both in Washington state and British Columbia, Canada. As I reflect back on the communities established in the PNW, I am grateful to God for the many lives that have found faith, hope and love. I cannot imagine how life would be like without having a community and more so, a community of faith.
As a Christian minister, I have learned that God has not just called us to believe Him but to belong to Him within the context of a spiritual body which He calls - the Church. By Church, I am not referring to our modern definition of a building, but rather, the people who gather in faith towards God.
Even in the perfect, sinless Garden of Eden, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He created us for fellowship and community. None of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible describes God’s people as being “joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together and held together.”
Romans 12:5 reads, “so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
The church – God’s people – is important. The Bible calls the church the Bride of Christ. It would be foolish to say to Jesus, “I love you but hate your bride.” The Bible commands us in I Peter 2:17 – “Love the brotherhood of believers.”
The Bible offers many compelling reasons for being committed and active in a local church. As someone who believes in Jesus Christ, church is a place where:
1. We are identified as followers of Christ. John 13:35 reminds us that - “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love can’t exist in isolation. Love is an expression of service and can only be experienced within a community. What better place to practice love than in the church.
2. We move out of self-centeredness and bless others. I John 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Have we given our lives over to others in love and in service?
3. We develop true spirituality - It may seem easier to be holy when no one else is around to frustrate your preferences, but that is false, untested holiness. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are mature if there is no one to challenge us. Real maturity shows up in relationships. When others grow, I grow also because I learn from them.
4. We develop genuineness – Having pastored one church for the past 25 years has taught me that if you are going to stick around with each other for that long, there’s nowhere to hide who you really are. In our community, we’ve shared our hurts, revealed feelings, confessed failures, disclosed doubts, admitted fears, acknowledged our weaknesses and asked for help and prayer. It is when we are open and honest with one another that real fellowship happens.
Romans 12:10 encourages us to – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” That’s what church is. Dino MicianoPastorNetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org(November 2019)
IT MIGHT BE TIME FOR SOME SELF-EXAMINATION
BY DINO MICIANO
There is a story of a man who noticed that his bedroom floor made an annoying creaking sound every time he walked over a particular area.
For the first week he tried to ignore it. The condominium was brand new and figured the noise was just the condo settling down. But as the weeks went by, the noise grew worse and worse.
Finally he called the builder to take a closer look.
The builder pulled back the carpet and cut a hole on the floor to look deeper into the problem. To his surprise he discovered that the beams designed to join the floor with the supporting wall had been cut too short. They were just barely long enough to make it to support the beam. Not only that, nothing had been done to fasten the floor beams to the support.
Had the problem not been discovered, the floor would’ve eventually caved in. Had it not been for the annoying creak in the floor, they would not have discovered the builder’s error. The creak saved this man’s life.
God will allow creaks to occur in the floor of our lives – circumstances or people that are a constant annoyance to us. These annoyances are God’s way of drawing attention to potentially dangerous blind spots, habits, or emotional baggages from the past. Through them we are forced to do some self-examination.
The apostle Paul reminded the members of the Corinthians church to “let a man examine himself” – I Cor. 11:28.
In other words, Take a long hard look and discover what is driving you to such disrespectful or destructive behavior. God doesn’t desire for us to continue to live with the rubbish of the past.
Often we are unaware these problems even exists. So God allows some trials to motivate us to do some self-examination. The trials blow off the surface issues and expose the real root of the problem.
God knows how to get our attention and eventually we become aware of annoying creaks in the floor of our lives. When things start falling apart, it’s God’s way of saying: Take a long hard look within.
This is never fun but it’s during these times that we see ourselves for who we are and not what we pretend to be.
Getting a medical checkup is a good idea because it almost guarantees that any threat to health can be detected early before it endangers one’s life. Those who avoid seeing the doctor for what might be discovered are the ones who get into the most trouble. It is foolish to ignore the warning signs the body sends. It is even more foolish to ignore God’s warnings.
Looking within may be a painful experience but remember whatever you find there, no matter how devastatingly painful it might be, God himself is there to help you carry the burden and deal with it once and for all. God always has your best interest in mind.
NetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org
BY DINO MICIANO
Our lives are shaped by words. They have been shaped by words that have been spoken to us, over us, and about us. We have heard words spoken to us that are both positive and negative and that has somehow affected the way we feel, think and act.
The power of the spoken word and the written word cannot be underestimated. Words of encouragement can boost your confidence while demeaning and discouraging words can ruin your day. Turn that around and ask yourself, “how many lives have I built up or ruined due to my words?”
Often, we need to hit the pause button before we speak but I’m sure many of us wish we could rewind what we have said and start all over. Once words are released, the impact is immediate. Negative words weigh heavier than positive words whether we admit it or not. How many positive words does it take to counter the negative? Think about it. What gives words even more weight is who is saying it. When you are a parent or a boss at work, your words weigh more than a peer.
We live in an age when our words reach a wider audience. Through social media, we have a platform that can reach hundreds and sometimes thousands of people. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen so much rant and rage in my lifetime until social media showed up.
I’m sharing all this because you and I can change things. We need to shift gears and learn to be the boss of our words. Where do we start?
The apostle James gives us some advice when he writes - 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. - James 1:19-20.
James’ first advice is to be quick to listen. That’s the first step . . . listen. See, the reason why conflict suddenly shows up is because both parties in a conflict want to be heard and understood but no one really wants to listen. Everyone wants to put the first word in. James was wise when he said, “be quick to listen.” Don’t delay; don’t be slow about it, but listen first. When we show the other party that we are ready to hear them out, they will most likely respect us more and eventually give us the room to reason out as well.
If we practiced this step first, could you imagine how many relationships could be saved and built up instead of torn down?
James gives us the second step . . . be slow to speak. I know it’s tempting to immediately react and respond to what others are telling us but James tells us to take the time to release our words. Be slow about it. Before we speak or press that send button on our keyboard, think hard about what you are about to say. Will it build up or tear down?
I heard a preacher once say, “God gave us two ears to hear versus one mouth to speak.” Two versus one is a good reminder of what is greater and more important and that is . . . to listen. When we are quick to listen and slow to speak, the result is, we will be slow to become angry. Anger is a product of quick judgement, misinformation and destructive conclusions. Therefore, let’s all practice the art of listening and understanding first.
Here’s a final thought – Would you rather win an argument and lose the relationship? Don’t settle for just being right, rather, make things right.Have a blessed and wonderful day, everyone!
Dino MicianoPastorNetWork Christian Ministries www.networkcm.org(September 2019)
WHO OWNS YOU?
BY DINO MICIANO
Money shapes our lives, our thinking and our decision making. So why bring that up in a column about faith? Jesus once said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21. Jesus was wise to point out that the human “heart” or soul follows treasures and not the other way around. Money competes for the control of our soul. It is limited but yet we live our lives as if it will never run out. How? We borrow and the problem is not knowing when to stop. There is a big difference between having a “standard of living” and “quality of life.” Every opportunity we have, we attempt to raise the “standard of living” to satisfy our hearts desires. There is no limit to how high of a standard of living we want because we achieve that by borrowing money and acquiring things which lead to debt. What I’m saying is that we can elevate our “standard of living” by getting into debt. That’s when life starts to get messy and our soul starts to get compromised in our walk of faith. Money and things start to choke away everything else, especially the things that really matter. When we start drowning in debt, we start to become prisoners of our own doing and the pressure gets to us. We may have elevated our standard of living but we end up sacrificing the quality of our lives. We lose sleep and peace knowing that we may be paying off that debt for most of our adult life. Who wants to live that way? Yet many do thinking that raising the standard of living will produce happiness. It does but only for a split second and all the excitement eventually disappears. A person of faith should focus on having a “quality of life.” We can only change the quality of life by being aware that life is limited, time is limited, resources are limited and our days are limited as well. Many will say at this point that we need to “live within our means.” But there’s a better way of looking at it. Living within our means can mean my spending is equal to my income. If that is the case then we consume everything we’ve earned but have nothing for a rainy day. What happens when there’s an emergency? What do we do when we realize we need to change the car tires, or when it’s time to change the leaky roof? Where do we get our financial resources when we’ve lived within our means by spending all of our income. Jesus said in Luke 16:13 – “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” It all boils down to who is the master of our hearts – God or money? So here are some steps to take to have some control over our finances: 1. Decide that you won’t get in debt and be a slave to your finances.2. Set some space, make room, between your income and spending. In other words, don’t spend it all. Live instead on a percentage of your income. Set aside a percentage for your future, for your present, and be generous with your wealth.3. Spy on your money. Log in your income and expense. Know where your money is going to go and check if you are living within your goals.4. Cut any unnecessary spending and pay off your debt.5. In everything you do, always ask – Does this bring praise and glory to God? The chief competitor of your heart is your stuff. Jesus knew it and preached it. He reminds us that we either serve God or we serve money. Life is better when we allow space between our resources and our spending. Space means to set aside some for tomorrow and learn to live within a percentage of your income today. It allows us to breath and spend quality time with God, our loved ones and the beauty around us. Dino Miciano is pastor of NetWork Christian Ministries. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org (August 2019)
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