A life revised conversation with Author and Missionary, Andy Smith

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Although religious as a child, Andy Smith felt like there was something missing in his life during his teen years. In this one-on-one interview, he recounts his journey towards knowing God in a personal way and how it transformed him from the inside-out. Today, he serves as an OMF International missionary and plants churches in Albay.

Q: What was life like before knowing Jesus?

Andy: I grew up in a large family.  My first goal was to please my parents.  Since they stressed morality and good deeds, I tried to be moral and to help others.  We were faithful members of a certain church.  The message I heard it preach was about earning salvation.  So, it also urged me to be good.

On the surface, I appeared to be very good.  But in my heart, I knew otherwise.  I helped others for my own sake.  I did it so that others would praise me.

In my teen years, I became restless.  Two things shook my foundations.  First, science could not answer life’s biggest questions such as “Where did we come from?” and “What is the purpose of life?”  Second, although people loved me, I hungered to experience a deeper love.

Q: How did things change?

Andy: In my last year of high school, a friend invited me to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting.  Thinking I was a Christian and being an athlete, I thought I would fit well in such a group.  I was wrong.  The others knew how to worship God and gain wisdom from the Bible.

After the meeting, I mentioned my observations to my friend.  He replied, “Andy, you know a lot about Jesus, but you don’t know Him.”

I returned home and meditated on his statement.  After several hours, it struck me.  I had considered Jesus just another historical figure.  But if He really is God, then He is alive now and forevermore, and therefore He can be known.  I wept in repentance.  Then I asked God to let me get to know Him through Jesus Christ.

The next day, I went to school.  We had a classmate that everyone avoided.  When I saw her, a love for her filled my heart.  I froze in shock and processed what was happening.  Not only did God love me deeply, but He also gave me a deep love for others, including the unlovely.

Q: How has knowing Christ altered your life?

Andy: Since then, God has enabled me to serve others for their sake and in joyful obedience to Him.  Further, He has taught me much from His Word.  As a result, He has answered many of my biggest questions.  I now know that He is the Creator.  I have discovered that the purpose of life is to glorify Him, primarily by being the Church and by making disciples.  That knowledge has fixed the priorities for my life, first as a student, then as a working person, and now as a missionary.  It helps me choose the best activities from a large number of good options.

By grace, God continues to transform me.  I used to exaggerate to get attention.  Since His love for me meets my need for attention, I now tell the truth.  Much of my time used to go to playing sports.  But He disciplined me, leading to a significant injury.  Most of my energy now goes to serving others.  Meeting goals used to be my passion.  He has made me more balanced.  Although I still work towards goals, I now do so in ways that show my respect for people.

I am not the person I used to be.  I have not yet become all that God wants me to be.  But He has promised to keep making me more like Jesus.  I only hope that I remain like clay in His hand, being molded into His desire.

The Risen Lord changed history and He can also change your story. Join the life revised conversations on Facebook: omfliterature and Twitter: @omflit this Lent. Use the hashtag #liferevised

Has the Lord transformed your life? Share your life revised story with us at digital@omflit.com

Once the life of Christ has entered into us there are many things that we may do to increase the extent and depth of our identification and union with Him. But the proper use of the written Word is most central to our cooperative efforts with God toward full conformity with Christ.

The written Word may come to us in many ways. It may come through sermons, through art, through casual conversation, through dramatic performances, literature or song. All of these are important. Although all these means are good and helpful, however, the person who wishes to grow in grace is by far best advised to make a close and constant companion of the book – the Bible. I do not mean it should be worshipped. Its uniquely sacred character is something that does not need to be exaggerated or even insisted on, because it is self-authenticating to any earnest and open-minded user. For just as openness to and hunger for God leads naturally to the Bible, if  it is available, so the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.

The written Word of God is an expression of God’s mind just as surely, though in a different manner, are as creation and Jesus, the living Word. As we read and study it intelligently, humbly and openly, we come increasingly to share God’s mind.

This use of the Bible is not superstitious or magical, because a natural connection exists between a proper use of the Bible and its ideal result – union with Christ. The Bible expresses the mind of God, since God Himself speaks to us through its pages. Thus we, in understanding the Bible, come to share His thoughts and attitudes and even come to share His life through His Word. Scripture is a communication that establishes communion and opens the way to union, all in a way that is perfectly understandable once we begin to have experience of it.

We will be spiritually safe in our use of the Bible if we follow a simple rule: Read with a submissive attitude. Read with a readiness to surrender all you are – all your plans, opinions, possessions, positions. Study as intelligently as possible, with all available means, but never study merely to find the truth and especially not just to prove something. Subordinate your desire to find the truth to your desire to do it, to act it out.

When we come to the Scriptures as part of our conscious strategy to cooperate with God for the full redemption of our life, we must desire that his revealed will should be true for us. Next, we should begin with those parts of Scripture with which we have some familiarity, such as Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13 or Roman 8. Go first to those parts of the Bible you already know, therefore, and count on your later growth and study to lead you to other parts that will be useful.

Do not try to read a great deal at once. It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our loves than to have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes. We read to open ourselves to the Spirit.

Come to your chosen passage as to a place where you will have a holy meeting with God. Read a small part of the passage and dwell on it, praying for the assistance of God’s Spirit in bringing fully before your mind and into your life the realities expressed. Always as, “What is my life like since this is true and how shall I speak and act because of this?” 

The general train of development is as follows:

1. information

2. longing for it to be so

3. affirmation that it must be so

4. invocation to God to make it so

5. appropriation by God’s grace that it is so

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Hearing God by Dallas Willard

Being close to God means communicating with Him. But how do we hear His voice? How can we be sure that what we think we hear is not our own subconscious? What role does the Bible play? What if what God says to us is not clear? In this classic work, the author provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with Him.

Does God really change people? He absolutely does. God’s Word promises it. And the life of every true believer proves it. If you’re a Christian, your life proves it. Maybe you haven’t noticed how God has changed you, because you’re preoccupied with your weaknesses and areas of failure. Don’t overlook what God has done in you. He wants to increase your faith as you see His work in you.

We live in a world that endlessly longs for personal, physical, relational and political change. People search for change everywhere. But ultimately, only the gospel of Jesus Christ offers real hope for radical, lasting change because only through faith in Jesus can a person’s nature be changed. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All other sorts of man-made changes are outward and superficial. Only God can give a man or woman a new, spiritually alive heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Only God can cause a person to be born again (John 3:3-8)

But if we’re new, why do we often act old? If we’re changed by faith in Christ, why do so many parts of our lives need renovation? Why do we still face temptation? Why do we still sin?

The questions surrounding how Christians deal with sin, obey God, and become more holy all relate to something that Scripture calls sanctification. That is the ongoing process of change that begins the moment a person is saved and continues until the person’s last breath. Sanctification is the journey of becoming holy, becoming like God. The process of sanctification doesn’t end with the initial dramatic breaks we make with sin when we first believe – it continues for the rest of our lives. The process of becoming more like Jesus isn’t a “one and done” deal. It is progressive. And it involves our effort. God doesn’t leave us alone in this work; He empowers us and enables us by His Spirit. But it’s still work.

I know I’ll never obey God perfectly this side of heaven. Even though I’ve been changed, I’m still changing. I have a long way to go. I’ll fail many times along the way. I’ll need to repent and seek my Father’s gracious forgiveness countless times between today and the final day – the day when I’m ultimately and forever changed by the power of God.

I’m really looking forward to that day.

Until then, I’ve got work to do. Yes, sanctification is work. But it’s good work. It’s work enabled by the Holy Spirit. It’s the privilege of the redeemed. It’s the great honor of God’s adopted children to work to be like their Father.

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Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

Very personal and narrative-driven, this book has 11 chapters–eight of which are reflections on key Christian beliefs including the Doctrine of God, Scriptures, the Person and Work of Christ, the Atonement and the Holy Spirit. Harris shares the questions, misconceptions and hang-ups he had and what it meant to allow Scripture’s truth to reshape his thinking.

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

God, who Himself never grows tired or weary, gives strength to the tired and enables the weary. He, the gentle, loving and caring Protector and Provider for His people, is the One who renews the strength of those who despair. He enables and strengthens those who trust in Him to overcome all the challenges of life.

Isaiah 40:31 is a metaphor of the kind of experiences that life normally brings. “They will soar on wings like eagles” refers to exciting, exhilarating, special and once-in-a-lifetime most happy occasions. We need God – our loving, gentle, caring and patient Shepherd – to make us steady, keep us in proper balance and safely bring us back to firm ground again during the times when we “soar with the wings of an eagle”.

“They will run and not grow weary” refers to the rat-race days of unrelenting pressure to do myriads of things. It is during those times of extremely heavy demands of responsibilities…that the Lord in His sovereign power and perfect wisdom gives us the strength, and discernment, and peace of heart and mind to overcome the tremendous pressures we face.

“They will walk and will not faint” refers to ordinary, uneventful, mundane and routine days when nothing out of the ordinary happens. It is the Lord, in His gentle, caring and loving ways who enables us to make slow, steady, consistent, and a step-at-a-time progress during humdrum, usual and normal day-to-day living.

Those who trust in God and His sovereign control of all things will “not faint”. God in His sovereign ways will “renew their strength” – give them fresh excitement, a fresh assurance of the eternal value of their small contribution to the building of God’s kingdom and give them renewed motivation, knowing that anything done in obedience to God will need ever be in vain.

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When things go wrong in our lives, in our nation, and even in the world, we do not have to give in to hopelessness. Someone is in charge! William Girao’s Giving Up Is Not an Option takes us through the Bible, tackling Genesis, Daniel, Esther, Revelation, interspersing the lessons gleaned from Scriptures to the local and global scene underscoring God’s sovereignty in the life of an individual, nation and the world.

Giving Up Is Not an Option is available in physical (OMF Literature Bookshops) and digital formats (through Amazon and Flipreads)

“Yet now He has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, he has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.” 
Colossians 1:22 (NLT)

God has never given up on His original creation. An entire Biblical vocabulary makes this point obvious. Reconcile. Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew. Regenerate. Resurrect. Each of these biblical words begins with the re prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost. For example, redemption means to buy back what was formerly owned. Similarly, reconciliation means the restoration or reestablishment of a prior friendship or unity. Renewal means to make new again, restoring to an original state. Resurrection means becoming physically alive again, after death.

These words emphasize that God always sees us in light of what He intended us to be, and He always seeks to restore us to that design. Likewise, He sees the earth in terms of what He intended it to be, and He seeks to restore it to its original design.

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Life Promises for Eternity by Randy Alcorn

Inspired by Randy Alcorn’s best-selling book Heaven, Life Promises for Eternity provides readers with more than 100 brief, inspirational readings on the topic of Heaven and the New Earth. Each reading is coupled with a trio of complementary Bible verses designed to further illuminate what the Bible has to say about the extraordinary place we will someday call home.

 

 

Finally, the long-awaited announcement of winners of the Life Verse contest is here! Thank you to everyone who joined. Our guest judges had a hard time choosing the winners because there were a lot of great entries.

Here are the 13 winners, in no particular order

*Please post in the comment section your email address so we can send you the details on how to claim your prize!

“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.” Proverbs 21:2-3

It is not enough to know what is right, Dr. Salonga points out. More important is to discern what is right and defending it with all the resources at one’s command. He says that this comes out of a person who has opened the windows of his mind to great thoughts and ennobling ideas. Rather than being confined to the words that he/she reads, the person chooses to make “relentless, rigorous analysis and evaluation of everything he reads because he is less interested in the accumulation of degrees than in the stimulation of his mind and the cultivation of a generous spirit.”

Read the rest of this entry »

This is a guest post from one of our blogger friends, on why she loves both physical books and ebooks (yes, it is very possible!). We hope you’ll be encouraged to try ebooks too, if you haven’t yet. For a list of all our available digital titles, click here

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From dipity.com

From dipity.com

I don’t know if it is possible for anyone to love books as much as I do.

I am the girl who spends countless hours in bookstores, making a list of books I wish to purchase and then head straight home to be with the books I already have.

Another oddity about me is the fact I absolutely adore the scent of new books. There’s nothing that excites me more than opening a new book and relishing in its scent, for a bookworm like me, that is one of the best things about purchasing books.

It is safe to say that books play a major part of my life and part of my love affair with my books is the experience of going inside a bookstore and holding the book with my very own hands.

This is the reason why I was a bit skeptical at first when a friend of mine gifted me with my first set of e-books. For someone who loves the physicality of the book as much as I do, it was definitely a new experience to actually read but not be able to feel it in my hands or relish in its scent.

My old-fashioned ways resisted reading off an electronic device. I tried to stay away from it as much as I could but then realized that times are changing and we are in fact living in the days of social networking and maybe it was time for me to learn to adapt to the change as well.

In my first foray into it, I found myself looking for the familiarity of holding a book within my fingers but at the same I also enjoyed the comfort of bringing just one gadget with me instead of lugging around two to three books at a time in my already crowded bag. I also found myself excited to fill my “ebook” library with books I only once dreamed of owning but found too expensive to purchase.  It also helped that with the help of technology, I can now read even at night when all the lights are turned off! This for me was a big thing simply because I love reading literally under the covers!

From Digitlab.co.za

From Digitlab.co.za

Soon enough, I found myself swapping ebooks with friends and even (gasp!) encouraging others to take the same route. Now, instead of dreaming of filling my old school ratty bookshelf at home, I found myself getting ready to fill my ebook library as well!

This is the reason why I got excited when I found out that one of my most favorite bookstores in the world, OMF Literature is now offering ebooks to their “techie” clients. The excitement of having even more titles added to my “techie” library was exciting.

Switching from the safety of my books to ebooks was a major step for me, simply because I am a creature of habit. However, I have come to realize that stepping out of one’s comfort zone does bring about lovely surprises and this maybe just a small feat but it definitely encouraged me to step out more often because who knows what joy that risk would bring about.

Making a u-turn involves more than just saying the words, “I’m sorry”. Genuine repentance is not apologizing and then swinging back to sin. It is a firm decision to turn away, and never go back to it again.

The following steps describe how making a U-turn is best done:

 

Admit that you’ve sinned

God knows it and you know it. You went the wrong way and you messed up. Confess it. There is nothing we can hide from God anyways. Be honest and come to Him as you are. There’s no room for pride.

Cry out to God for mercy

A desperate cry is more than lip-service. A heartless sorry does not count for anything. God always looks at the condition of the heart. Being sincerely sorry requires genuine regret. Pain gets into the picture, especially when you realize that you have broken the heart of God.

Accept responsibility for your actions

Facing the consequences of your actions today, no matter how difficult, can save you from facing bigger ones tomorrow if you opt to postpone. Repair damages in as much as you are able. If relationships have been strained, be quick to mend them.

Break free from the clutches of that sin

Whatever happens, decide to say no. Since it took time to form that bad habit, it may also take time to undo it. Temptations will come. When they do, be strong. Ask God for help, and He will lead you to a way out of it.

Put some feet to your faith

Action steps are required. Remember, we don’t want to do the same mistakes again. So the best step is to walk away from the sin, or from anything that causes us to sin. If your sin is engaging in a vice, or  having a relationship with someone who does not love God, or living with a bad habit, then quit it.

 

Say no to the sin and flee as far as you can, from temptation. The moment you do is when you’ve really repented. No shortcuts. It’s the only way.

But stop right here if you start thinking that these steps are needed for you to receive God’s grace. Again, God’s grace is not something we can earn for our good works. We can even read in Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The initiative to love comes from God. In 1 John 4:19 it is stated quite simply

We love because He first loved us

So male no mistake about it. Even the ability to make the U-turn comes from God.

 

*taken from Back on Track by Ru dela Torre

ipad_Back on TrackAfter getting on the road with God, what does a young person do when the excitement fizzles and he returns to his rebellious ways? This sequel of the bestselling Road Trip focuses on how grace and repentance can help the lost again find his way back to God.

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ipad-frame_LovestruckPresenting…the singles! In this excerpt from the bestselling Lovestruck: Singles Edition, dare ni Ronald Molmisa sa mga singles na alamin kung saang grupo sila under. Di kailangan matakot. Silipin natin ang iba’t-ibang reasons sa likod ng iisang status!

Kung type ninyong basahin ang Lovestruck: Singles Edition, available na rin ito in digital format sa Amazon at Flipreads. Perfect for your gadgets!

 

 

 

The Huwag-Na-Muna Squad

Sila ang talagang hindi pa qualified pumasok sa relasyon dahil wala pa sila sa tamang season ng kanilang buhay. Kailangan nilang unahin ang pag-aaral para makahanap ng maayos na trabaho. Madidistract lang sila ng romantic relationship kaya huwag na muna.

The Tsaka-Na-Breadwinner-Kasi-Ako-O-di-pa-Ako-Ready Group

Sa dami ng puwedeng gawin na responsibilidad sa buhay, sila ang nagdesisyon na i-delay ang pakikipagrelasyon o pag-aasawa. Kabilang dito ang mga nagtatrabaho at sumusuporta sa pamilya nila. Ang iba, gusto munang i-enjoy ang buhay binata/dalaga bago lumagay sa tahimik. They enjoy being single while others dream of having an established career.

The Uber Busy Cluster

Sila ang walang panahon para sa romantic endeavors. They are simply too busy to be in love. They work all day at pag-uwi sa bahay ay matutulog na lang.

The High Value Group

Mataas ang standards nila sa future partner. Ito ang mga pihikan. Dahil malaki ang sweldo, may lifestyle like the rich and famous, at kayang-kaya magpamilya anytime. Gusto nila ng kapartner na kapantay ng kanilang “halaga.”

The Wala Talaga Circle

Para sa mga babae, hindi dahil sa ginusto nilang maging single kundi dahil wala pa silang natatagpuan na bibihag sa kanilang puso. Inaakala din nilang lahat ng eligible men ay taken na. Ang counterpart naman nito sa mga lalaki ay ang “The Always Basted” clan.

The Love Hurts Society

Sila ang mga ingat na ingat na ibigay ang kanilang puso. May mga bitter silang pinagdaanan sa pakikipagrelasyon. Some still suffer from loneliness and grief due to a break-up or loss of a loved one. O kaya naman ay naapektuhan sila ng masasamang karanasan sa pag-ibig ng kanilang mga kaibigan o mahal sa buhay. Kinandado at kinaha-de-yero ang puso. Nangangailangan sila ng matinding emotional rehabilitation. Sila lang ang nakakaalam kung kailan sila muling mai-inlove.

The Last Trip/Chance Passenger Clan

They are on the road to spinsterhood/bachelordom. Lampas na sila sa kalendaryo kaya nagmamadali na at umaasa na makakasama pa sila sa huling biyahe. Ang iba ay desperado na dahil stressed na sa kahihintay. Samantalang ang iba, chillax lang.

The Single-blessed Assembly

Sila ang mga kumbinsidong hindi sila tinatawag para mag-asawa at magkapamilya. You may call them different names pero hindi sila apektado ng anumang panunukso. Kayang-kaya nila harapin ang hassles ng pagiging single. They have discovered that being single is their destiny. At hindi nila pinagsisisihan iyon.

The At Iba Pa Group

Kasama rito ang mga pumipiling maging single dahil sa hindi sila naniniwala sa kasal (kaya hanggang cohabitation o live-in lang), may ibang pananaw at ugali ukol sa opposite sex (i.e. woman/man hater), o sadyang hindi pa kayang pumasok sa seryosong commitment. May mga tao ring walang kakayahang mag-asawa dahil sa kanilang pisikal na kalagayan (i.e. may “Down’s Syndrome,” o kaya yung may certain disabilities or physical limitations that will make it impossible for them to marry).

 

Aling grupo ka nakakarelate? Sa Lovestruck: Singles Edition, dinidiscuss ni Ronald Molmisa ang iba’t-ibang struggles ng mga singles at kung paano haharapin ang mga ito. Written in Taglish, pag-uusapan din sa librong ito ang online romance, courtship at pagpapakasal.  Lovestruck: Singles Edition ranks fifth in the National Book Store Bestsellers List for Philippine Publications. Mabibili din ito sa paperback sa lahat ng OMF Lit Bookshops, PCBS at National Book Stores nationwide for P75 only.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronald MolmisaRonald Molmisa is the best-selling author of Lovestruck and Pass or Fail? Both books reached the National Book Store Bestsellers List for Philippine Publications.  He has more than 15 years of experience in youth ministry and is currently the Head Pastor of Generation 3:16 Ministries. He has served as a professor in both Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University, and taught also in the Rizal High School, Pasig.  He is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines.

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