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    Notes from THE HAVEN
    Thursday, February 27, 2003

    Home Group Notes: Wednesday 26th Feb 2003

    The other day the news was on and a pharmaceutical company in America is being sued for producing an Aids vaccine that turned out to be useless. A friend of mine commented that Aids is one of Gods punishments for those who commit sexual sin.

    First and foremost, I responded to the comment by asking whether we as Christians believe that God would punish us at all? I personally do not think that God will punish us. If he had the hatred to do so, why would there be a necessity to send Jesus? Why did Jesus have to come down and die for us in proof that we are not of this world and that we can be born again, free from sin and that so long as we believe, we will have a reward that waits for us in heaven.

    Suffering that could be considered some form of punishment comes from consequence of our own actions. Silly example: if we ate a tub of ice-cream and we knew not to eat so much, the “punishment” for our own actions would be a stomach ache. Those who think and preach that God’s anger will lead to punishment may need to rebuild a closer relationship with Him.

    Matthew 9:12-13
    On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means:‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come for the righteous, but sinners.”

    We found this scripture super powerful as it encapsulates the true meaning of why Jesus came to earth. First, to look at the context, Jesus was amongst the sinners and was criticized by the Pharisees. In apt, we will always be scrutinized by people who don’t know any better. We will be attacked when we try and perform tasks, which are righteous. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”; sacrifice is the “giving up of something” for another greater good. It is associated with loss and deprivation. But God calls us to be living sacrifices, to lead a holy life following him so that we do not feel the loss nor are deprived from anything unless it be unholy, and that is very, very different from being a sacrifice altogether. The word mercy is one of great power. When we looked at the reference section of the application bible, we found countless verses that list three main things together; compassion, mercy and grace. Going back to what my friend believes on Aids as punishment, is it because we have a lack of compassion that disallows us to hate the sin and love the sinner? If we cannot love the sinner, can we at least try to accept them as god accepts them?

    When using any of your spiritual gifts, we can see that the deciding success factor is COMPASSION. The absence of compassion will not let you minister to someone as well as you could, the non-compassionate cannot pray for healing as they do not care. Our discussion also found that we have less motivation to have compassion for those who are closest to us, especially our families. Somehow we cannot deal with their problems because they affect us. We can pray for people we don’t know. We can pray that God gives them the ability to be strong for their family and that they will bring healing because our personal involvement may be limited making it easy. How much compassion do we really have? Do we have enough compassion to get involved?

    Compassion also interferes with faith. The more greater your faith, the more compassionate you will become, the more compassionate you become, the more you will seek god’s will for everything. If you have the heart to minister to the sick, you will rely on God for protection and for anointing. If your faith is small, you will fear that you yourself will contract some sickness.

    I feel Jesus has proven to us that we are disciples of disciples and he gave them gifts and ordained them to go out into the world to serve people. If that was possible then, it is possible now. If we think that people deserve punishment, then we cannot follow God’s will for us to do likewise.

    Bless you all.

    Wednesday, February 26, 2003

    Last night was a small turn up. Big thanks to Alice for last minute organisation and determination. Without her, home group would have been cancelled.

    We had an interesting discussion last night on where we want to take cwb2 (Causeway Bay 2). Since many of the regulars have moved on to newer pastures, the numbers have diminished. Alison, Alice, Poly and I had come up with the following results:

    1. The cell group is a place to receive
    2. The cell group is a place to practice and use our spiritual gifts
    3. The cell group is an evangelistic tool

    In essence, we talked about how Carrina and Linda wish for us to become leaders and give us the maximum encouragement to do what we have a heart for. Some have a heart to lead worship, some have the heart to give a teaching. We discussed whether we should take on a more structured and organized form for the home group, actually scheduling people to speak and when. This came in conflict with the fact that if one does not have the conviction to teach or lead worship, then scheduling things well in advance may not be the proper way to go about doing things. What we can do is have series to follow. For example, if for one series, we follow the book of Romans, and the next series on healing .. you get the picture.

    As a result of the discussion, we have come to the conclusion that we have to make extra evangelistic efforts and seek to expand the kingdom of God using Home Group as our base tool. We also talked about commitment and worship. With our worship leader back home, there has been discussion over buying a keyboard so Poly can lead. Poly confirms that she will be attending regularly. What do you all think?

    Worship was still amazing, though we sang some songs without music, because we were so few, we put on a CD and just followed songs for half an hour, we had no lyrics and we let God pour himself into us. I don’t think I have screamed louder in such a small room. It was so good, everyone was cheering on each other.

    The teaching was on Matthew 9:12-13 and covered the topics of Punishment, Compassion, Mercy and Grace. I will write up the notes in my next blog.

    Monday, February 24, 2003

    Hello all, after having talked to Deborah in Toronto, we found that testimonies will be quite powerful and I find that prayer requests can also be very good. I can create a new block to post testomonies in or we can place it on the main Blog here in the middle. Right now, I feel it would be cool if you send me your testimonies on email and I will post them for you. As for prayer resuests, you can post them on the Tagboard on the bottom of the website.

    Testimony #1: After 20 months of insomnia, God has given me sleep. I slept 12 hours last thursday. Which goes to show, the scriptures are true - God gives beautiful sleep to his chosen ones. Amen.

    Sunday, February 23, 2003

    Dear home group, last night 180 held a monthly gathering called Sunday Surrender where anyone can come and let God pour to us. There is worship, usually led by one of the worship team from One_Eighty. During the 2 hours, we sing loads of songs, we have people share scripture that God sends to them, share visions and testimonies. Then we have communion where we get together with another person right next to you and have it right then and there. I got together with my friend, Derek's brother; Cliff. I can only tell you, communion was mind blowing.

    I was supposed to go to ECC yesterday for a visit but God told me specifically to go to The Vine. The message, however, was on prayer, a subject that the home group has already covered and notes were written on. Matthew 6:5-14 covers the Lord's Prayer and it was taken apart and studied word for word. Somehow, perhaps it was a confirmation that I was on the right track but I did not learn anything new. But somehow amongst everything came clearer to me when I went home after Sunday Surrender. The notes have stopped coming and no one can explain why. Not even myself. I could claim that I was busy but I wasn't really. So God told me to start a Blogger. and here it is.

    This is a message tool where we can post notes from Church and home group. There is also a message board for us to communicate with eachother and comment on the notes. I hope you are all as excited about this as I am. How to use it, I still don't know but as soon as we do, I reckon it can be an evangalistic tool. God bless you all. Christian