The wonderful AHF Philippines first retreat entitled: “God is in the House Family Retreat 2011” was held at the Penthouse Suite of Holiday Inn Galleria Manila on October 29-30. We first gathered in Max’s Restaurant in Robinsons Galleria, had our lunch and started on the retreat sessions. Each of us was given a New Creation 101 manual which is full of teachings with five parts which we are to learn about as we go through our retreat. The New Creation Manual was written and made concise by Pastor Lyle Lopez who integrated important Christian principle, and focused Biblical truths in this book using only the Infallible word of God. We had a breakout session with our leaders to make each person focused on the teachings of the Lord. Everyone entrusted his life in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and accepted His gift of eternal life. We committed to love and obey His will starting that moment. After a while, we moved into the suite and had free time for an hour. The youth spent their allotted time in swimming, the others engaged in continuing their unfinished discussions of the teachings.
Pastor Lyle Lopez gathered us in the living room of the suite and continued our journey through the teachings of the Lord. Together, we read verses from the Bible. As New Creations, we may wonder what it means to be born again. Being born again is not a fad nor is a conversion to a religion. It is an absolute condition where one can’t have eternal life without being born again. We have two kinds of birth: the physical and the spiritual. In John 3:8, Jesus explains that being born of the Spirit is like the wind; one cannot see the wind but feels its presence because of its effect. It is the same with the spiritual birth of a man; one cannot see the Spirit in that man but sees its effects on his life as for being full of love, patience, humility, etc. Our part in being born again is to believe in Jesus Christ according to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Those who reject Jesus Christ are already condemned according to John 3:18. We opened our hearts and minds to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we started to understand Him and have a relationship with Him. We understood that God indwells believers that according to Romans 8:9-11, if the spirit of Christ is in you, you are controlled by the spirit, not by your sinful nature; you belong to Christ; your body is now dead to sin; and He will give life to your bodies. After the teachings of the Lord about our spiritual birth, He provided us such a wonderful dinner and together we ate our meal as Pastor Lyle answered queries that the youth ministry had about our belief, our faith walk and the road to sanctification.
Then Pastor Lyle called us all to gather, we sang songs of praise and worship as we glorified God with our praises. We then listened to the teaching: “Delivered from Sin” By Pastor Lyle Lopez. We learned that though many claim to be Christians; only a few truly worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus calls these people who does not bear fruit, who only goes through the motion of Christianity: Pseudo Christians. These people are evildoers in the sight of the Lord as found in Matthew 7:23. People would say that they are sons/daughters of God; that they received and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, yet they would act in a different way: they still live unrighteous lives. A true Christian is within one who obeys and believes in the Lord, one who repents his sins that he had committed and one who has the desire to make changes in his life for the better. We know that we are all guilty of being a sinner, yet our God wants us to be delivered from all sins and have eternal and abundant life. We had our breakout again and continued the lesson with our leaders. We prepared our deliverance list where we listed down the names of the people we desire to have our relationships restored, those who we would like to pray for that they may be enlightened and receive the salvation of Jesus Christ and another list of the people who have done wrong things to us, our enemies, every feeling of resentment and ill idealism we have, and every habitual sin that we have ever committed. We confessed and surrendered everything to the Lord; we asked for His forgiveness and turned our hearts to Him. We ended the night with a prayer led by Pastor Lyle. We, then, said good night to each other. All men stayed in one suite and all women stayed in the other suite.
Early in the morning, we had first our breakfast together at the breakfast buffet in Fab Restaurant, it was a delightful feast of intercontinental cuisine. During the course of breakfast, we were able to encourage and edify each other a we enjoyed the wonderful company. We resumed our teachings and moved into the last part of our retreat, Baptism and Worship. We sang praise and worship songs led by our worship leaders, Tania and Akeem. Right after, Pastor Lyle explained the importance of baptism; We learned that baptism is an outward symbol of an inner change and transformation that is supposed to take place beforehand. This can only be done through the power and strength of Jesus Christ. We repent of our past sins and have our mind made up that we want to overcome sin as we will allow God to be in us. A person must first receive and believe the gospel message. Every person who has believed in Christ should be baptized as in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed and accepted His message were baptized…,” We learned that baptism is a public declaration of identification with Christ in which a person is completely immersed in water and that it is not a means to salvation, but a declaration of salvation. We also learned what worship is and the purpose of worship. Worship is the proper response to who God is. The purpose of our worship is to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God. We must worship Him in spirit and in truth. We cannot worship God in any way we want. Jesus says in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” When we worship God, we develop our character of forgiveness, tenderness, justice, righteousness, purity, kindness, and love as we prepare for our eternal life in heaven with God and Christ. We read Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, and not on things on the earth.” We closed in prayer and moved into the other suite’s Jacuzzi to do the baptism. In the presence of the Saints and as the worship leaders sing a song of worship, Pastor Lyle began the ceremony of the dedication and the baptism and all those who were dedicated and baptized were prayed for and blessed by the power and strength of the Lord. And there came the New Creations by God’s grace and power. All were blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Everyone prepared their things and relaxed for a while as we enjoyed pizza and refreshments on the dining table. Then we finally bid farewell, to each other, to our brethren and those who stood by our side as we journeyed and focused on God alone. There was hope, much hope as we went through that doorway; we came in with our old selves and lo, we are standing anew by the grace of God and His tender mercies.
Our retreat was full of magnificent activities by the movement of the Holy Spirit. We were blessed by the teachings of the Lord. How He desires for us to draw closer to Him and focus on Him alone. I am so blessed by everyone as we all went through a transformation. All were blessed by the powerful indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As we went our separate ways, going back home; a feeling of warmth and blessing came with the smile of everyone. In such a smile, you see redemption and in hope we find forgiveness. Indeed, God is truly amazing as He transformed us, changed our innermost beings as we stand: NEW CREATIONS, not by might, not by power but the Spirit of God. Praise God for our successful, God-focused family retreat! Blessed by our Pastor, our Dear AHF Family as we stand together; a family of believers bearing His standard and praising Him with our Lifesong. To God Be The Glory!
About The Author of AHF Viewpoint:Ate Nikki is the Head Girl of The Armor Bearers which is the official Youth Ministry of Abundant Harvest Fellowship Philippines. She is also a writer for the Abundant Harvest Fellowship Web Team. A graduating senior, her testimony, viewpoints and, changed life is such a blessing to Abundant Harvest Fellowship Philippines, Her Family and Friends. We truly Praise God for Her Life.