A good place to start

You – yes – what’s inside of you is the starting point.

What you have inside will manifest outwardly. Our relationship with ourselves reflects our relationship with God. The Apostle John recorded what Jesus said about this: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4). If what’s inside of us is detached from the source of Life, we will whither and not produce fruit. Our lives will reflect what’s inside of us.

The first Old Testament verse that Jesus quoted was Deuteronomy 8:3 when He said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.‘” (Matt.4:4). What we consume is cast back out.

Let’s take a look at some of the things we consume – things that influence us. We have heard the teaching, “The eyes are a window to the soul.” 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! ” – Matt. 6:22-23. Are we full of light or are we in great darkness?

It is hard to hide what’s inside of us. Jesus said in Matt. 23:27, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

This coming year will not be different than this year if what’s inside of us remain the same. We can change the way we clothe ourselves, we can change jobs and we can change relationships, but if we continue to consume the same things (physical and spiritual), we will produce the same fruit. Unless we remain in Jesus and unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we cannot expect different fruits.

It’s not to late to plan (or change your plan) for 2018. This coming year could be the best year ever. What would you like in 2018? Here’s a promise – from God, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matt. 6:33  

Have a joyful 2018

What’s inside of you is the starting point in 2018.



Merlin GonzalesA good place to start
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Gracious Carelessness

Something is wrong!

My heart is beating harder these past 2 days. My shoulder is tense. What’s wrong with my body? I noticed that anxiety is trying to creep in. This couldn’t be. Last week was wonderful! We had a great leaders’ prayer meeting, stocked the food pantry with healthy food and provided food to dozens of people, the collaboration meeting that I facilitated went very well and the annual fundraiser at the end of the week was a success. Everything was good last week…except the way I put pressure on myself.

Why worry

This morning while waiting for a lab technician to draw blood from my arm for some test, my wife sent me a message about the Verse of the day: Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – NIV

Care-less could be a good thing!

Care-less could be a good thing!

Gracious carelessness

I like the phrase that Matthew Henry, my favorite Bible commentator said, “Gracious Carelessness” for the morrow. The thoughts of being a good leader and to perform well in everything I do afflicted my thoughts and crept in my entire being. I allowed myself to focus on the stuff that disturbed my joy in the Spirit. My thoughts were dominated by the things I need to do next, plan for the coming events and try to solve things while laying down in my bed – things that keep my mind in suspense of what’s going to happen next.

God commanded us not to worry about tomorrow to repress us from polluting our minds about the things of this earth and may lead to distrusting Him. Instead of spending our thoughts on the troubles that may not happen anyway, we should put our trust in Christ. He reminds us not to conform with the cares of the world but rather be consumed by the thoughts of the Kingdom.

God knows our needs better than ourselves. He also know that there are troubles in this world but we should not lust in trying to go ahead of ourselves and even worse, go ahead of God’s timing and plan. This is gracious carelessness – knowing that God got our backs. He reminded us that as He provides for all the creatures of the earth, He would care for us better than we care for ourselves.

The reminder

Today, I will try to remind myself that it is foolish to dwell in the things of tomorrow’s trouble that may not come anyway. I will remind myself not to lust on solving the troubles of the morrow. I will remind myself to deal with the troubles of just this day since my brain and emotion can only handle limited amount of stuff. I will not be foolish to take on the troubles of tomorrow today. I will not pull myself altogether at once because I was not created that way. I will not be my own tormentor by going through the dark alleys of my mind and by allowing the offensive emotions come into my heart. I will focus on praying when my mind says otherwise, to keep my joy in the Spirit by applying the gracious carelessness.

Merlin GonzalesGracious Carelessness
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Doing good is part of the pact

Many times Jesus led His disciples in doing good.

Action speaks louder that voice

Action speaks louder than voice

Acts 10:38, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”

Our model

The early disciples knew that Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him. He was a promoter of outreaches. He did not stay in synagogue or places of worship but he went around to show everyone God’s love in every realm of their lives – spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, etc.

Jesus set an example for His disciples to follow – love others both in word and in action. He would normally go ahead of the disciples to show them how to help others, how to pray and how to be supernaturally natural – the basics of expanding the Kingdom.

Jesus did not stay behind a desk or in the temple and just gave instructions to His disciples to do the job. He did not just organize things, wrote the vision and the plan, nor just did the research and came up with a timeline for his disciples to implement while He evaluate their progress. Instead, Jesus presented the Gospel in its fullness.

His generation

In order to get the message into the minds of people, Jesus told the story of a man who was going on a road less travelled from Jerusalem to Jericho – because it is a dangerous place where robbers and thugs hang out. He concluded that this man was attacked by robbers, took everything he had including his clothes and left him half dead. Then, a priest happen to pass by the same road, saw the man but passed by on the other side. Later, a Levite passed by and did the same thing.  Soon, a Samaritan passed by and helped the man immediately and made sure the man was taken care of afterwards. (Luke 10:25-37)

Our generation

Consequently, it’s not hard to locate places like that road from Jerusalem to Jericho in our cities. Last year, the former Indianapolis Mayor identified 6 most dangerous Indy-area neighborhoods. Recently, IMPD created an equation called Social Disorder Index to identify which areas have the most crime and which crimes are occurring in those areas. Similarly, the priests (preachers) and the Levites (those who assist the religious people) of our time would normally drive by these neighborhoods on a regular basis. But how many times have we seen clergies giving a cup of cold water to one of these little ones (Matthew 10:42) or praying for healing at street corners?

My experience working with leaders and pastors, reveal that the majority are very active in delivering persuasive speeches to influence the thought and conduct of an audience. They use many venues such as places of worship or different forms of media and the Internet. They come up with different trainings, conferences, religious jargons and fancy phrases. They are so compelling and yet, we can hardly see most of them in the hood. They are very good in casting visions and in creating plans for others to do. Although it is partially true, our generation has accepted the norm that leaders should lead, assess the situations and train others who in turn would implement his or her plan. The leaders were supposed to rally the people and get them excited but many of them stay behind a desk or a podium. They were to train and to equip their people but your can hardly see them model what they teach out in the mission field.

His ministry

Based on the examples of Jesus and on the action of the early disciples, the Gospel spread quickly, people received healing (both physically and spiritually) and the disciples were trained more effectively. By being hands-on and by putting what they learned in action immediately, the disciples were able to come up with what the society needs and better solutions to cope with the rapid growth of the movement.

Normally, while Jesus was busy doing good, the Pharisees and Sadducees were busy criticizing Him. One occasion Jesus told them “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Stop criticizing and analyzing; just to do it. Jesus may say, “You will learn more as you do the ministry and revelation will come as you experience My teachings.”

“But I have sermons to prepare, I have budget to balance and I have training materials I have to finish”, some leaders may say. But Jesus is saying to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus did the unusual not because He wants to be different but because He was influencing the people to accept the dimension of the Kingdom – in words and in action. His prayer was “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – doing and being. Doing is part of the pact!


Our “personal” ministry

It behooves me to encourage you to experience the blessings in serving in the field. This not to say that you are not but to continue to lift you up as you do ministry. Not only you would experience the favor that God has given you but also to witness the manifestation of your prayers. As you see miracles happen before your eyes, you would have more testimonial of the presence of the living God inside of you (not to dazzle people with you experience, but to exhort them in their faith). It would help you to evaluate your spiritual walk as you engage in “ministry” and help validate your personal ministry. You will see the true picture of your calling and you will be amazed how God collaborates with you as you do the stuff.


God bless you,



Merlin GonzalesDoing good is part of the pact
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Session 7: Experience it!


Jesus HouseFoodThe worship for our last session was led by the Jesus House. After the worship, we had dinner together catered by Olive Garden restaurant.

There are many ways to “Experience”  God’s Dominion here on earth. One of them is through serving, so some of the class participants shared their planned outreaches during FHL Week on July 24 – 30:

  • Prayer Table out in a public place
  • Discovering the beauty in nature through the eyes of the children
  • Adopt a Block to connect with the residents
  • Street Outreaches

There are many more outreaches that were shared and more are still in the planning stage. We talked about the importance of SWOT to evaluate our projects and services. Evaluation of the projects could be as important as the project itself. We need to find out the project’s Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat.

GraduationWe had the actual graduation after a brief class discussion. I am so proud of all of you! The completion of the class is just a step in your deeper spiritual walk with God. As we learn more about His character, we will experience more of the Kingdom here on earth.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your spiritual journey. I am looking forward to join you on your outreaches soon!

Listen to Session 7

Part 1

Part 2

God bless you!


Merlin GonzalesSession 7: Experience it!
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