Ministry from the inside-out

29 Jan

The past three days was not only a welcome retreat but a much-needed Sabbath (which was, very aptly, the first session during the retreat). I am grateful for the break from the daily grind, for God’s Word, for the fellowship, the fun, for the open space and nature, and, yes, for the very cold weather in Tagaytay.

Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

Greenhills Christian Fellowship (our local Church where Eugene “works” as a Youth Pastor) annually holds a retreat for all the satellites pastors, their wives, and core staff. This is already the 3rd year since it started but this is actually our first time to attend. This year’s theme has been entitled “Ministry from the inside-out” by our speaker, Ptr. Carlos “Caloy” Peña, who was previously with FEBC and is currently a pastor in a local Church in Singapore. The retreat was held at CCT Retreat and Training Center in Tagaytay.

Enjoying the cool (freezing) weather in Tagaytay.

Enjoying the cool (freezing) weather in Tagaytay and nature.

I’m sharing the notes/outline I took down for the four sessions we had…

Session 1. Resting on a bed of grace

Rest is an interruption that reminds us of the purpose of God. God invites us to a sacred rest which develops a rhythm essential to our life.

Three fundamental principles of Sabbath (creates balance in life and ministry)

1.  A defense against excessive working (Exodus 20: 8 – 11; 16: 22 – 30; 31: 16 – 17)

    • Basic to our constitution
      • It was mentioned in the Bible even before (Exodus 16) the Ten Commandments
      • Excess work is wrong—it is against God’s pattern
      • Keep your Sabbath unlike Church/different or distinct from work
    • Provided as an example of our Creator
      • God doesn’t get tired but still rested
      • God is capable of refreshment—God wants us, too, to experience refreshment
      • God not only commanded rest, He did it Himself
    • Emblem of the covenant (Exodus 31: 16 – 17)
      • Unwillingness to observe Sabbath indicates lost of spiritual allegiance, pride
      • If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we are finished
      • The Sabbath liberates us from the need to finish

2.  A deed of extreme believing (Leviticus 25: 1 – 7, 8 – 55; Deuteronomy 15: 1 – 18)

    • The Sabbath “command” is mentioned over and over again unlike the other commandments in the Ten Commandments (four times: Exodus 16, 20, 30, 35)
    • Observing Sabbath requires faith in God that He will provide for our needs during the times of rest from work

3.  A day of extravagant giving (Exodus 20: 10b; 23: 10 – 11; Deuteronomy 15: 1 – 14; Leviticus 25: 10)

    • An act of generosity
    • An act of charity
    • An act of magnanimity
      • Release of slaves
      • Cancellation of debts
      • Release of property (reverted to the original owner)
      • The Sabbath teaches us to release from grip and people


  1. Receive: Carve out a program of rest (Mark 6: 31)
  2. Rely: Claim the promise of rest (Isaiah 40: 31)
  3. Release: Come to the place of rest (Matthew 11: 28 – 30)

Session 2. Broken for the seasons of grace

This session was a character study of Moses, a man whom I’ve always viewed as a man of big faith but who, as I have learned during the session, was a broken man.

Moses: A portrait of a wounded man

1.  Wound of an injustice

    • Wound of an unjust law (Exodus 1: 15 – 16)
    • Wound of an abandoned child (Exodus 2: 3)
    • Wound of a surrogate mother (Exodus 2: 7 – 9)
    • Wound of an adopted child (Exodus 2: 10)

2.  Wound of insecurity

    • A Hebrew stock (Exodus 2: 11)
    • An Egyptian citizen (Exodus 2: 10)
    • An Egyptian chic (Exodus 2: 19)
    • A “Hebregyptian” (Exodus 2: 11, 13 – 14)

3.  Wound of indignation

    • A burning emotion (Exodus 2: 11)
    • A consuming passion (Exodus 2: 12)
    • A lingering disposition (Numbers 20: 8 – 12)

Grace object lessons

1.  Be’er – Reflection (Exodus 2: 15)

    • We must take responsibility for what’s going inside of us, or else the act of leadership will create more wounds(?) in us

2.  Boy – Confession (Exodus 2: 22)

    • We need a “homecoming” like what Moses had
    • Taking responsibility for oneself may be more demanding than taking responsibility for a congregation

3.  Bush – Vocation (Exodus 3: 2 – 3)

    • Moses paid attention
    • His latent anger burned and consumed him
    • The same kind of passion and emotion can be used for holiness and righteousness


  1. Moses was a man of humility (Numbers 12: 3)
  2. Moses was a man of intimacy (Deuteronomy 34: 10)

Session 3. Falling of a cliff called grace: Vulnerabilities to a performance-driven ministry (a personal reflection by Ptr. Carlos Pena)

Ptr. Caloy started this session with a test where we are to rate ourselves according to the following points: 1 – Irrelevant, 2 – Rarely feel, 3 – Occasionally identify, 4 – Identify often, 5 – Identify most of the time

  1. When I have nothing else to say and rely on others for what needs to be said
  2. When I ran on empty and am controlled by the “show must go on” mentality
  3. When entertainment weighs more heavily than truth impact
  4. When my need for affirmation smothers the people’s need for revelation
  5. When the approval of many takes precedence over the audience of One
  6. When deceit gains a foothold in my life and I am unaware of it yet others are
  7. When competence is not supported by character
  8. When I resist authenticity and prefer cold orthodoxy
  9. When superficial results become the measure for spiritual success
  10. When ministry turns into a tournament rather than alignment
  11. When I confuse spiritual life with professionalism
  12. When I fail to receive the love of Jesus and strive to prove my worthiness

Maintaining grace-filled ministry: Eyeball-to-eyeball discipleship

  1. Flee the temptation of ministry comparison
  2. Find affirmation in God’s love
  3. Fix eye’s vision on God’s call: “YOU follow Me”

Session 4. Mark 1: 35 – 39

1.  Jesus was in tune with His heavenly Father

    • The character of Jesus’ devotional time:
      • Distraction-free
      • Deliberate
      • Destitute
      • Defining

2.  Jesus was in touch with His handpicked few

    • The quality of Jesus’ discipleship tour
      • Togetherness
      • Time-boundedness
      • Thoroughness

3.  Jesus was at terms with His holy function

    • The nature of Jesus decision-making template
      • A dark place
      • A demonstrable power
      • A divine purpose

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