8 Sept 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
“Our faith is transcendent and transformational. It helps us walk on waters in the midst of storm, overcome the den of lions, outwit the fox, and empowers us to see the invisible and embrace the invisible,” said Rev Samuel Rodriguez, special topics speaker of the World Pentecostal Conference 2013 on August 28, at Calvary Convention Centre.
Our faith requires light because we are living in dark times, with sin, immorality, moral relativism, spiritual apathy, cultural decadence, racism, pornography, hypocrisy, voyeurism, materialism, discord, division, hatred, and disbelief.
“These are dark times. Yet, in the midst of darkness, stand a profound truth that you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men!” said Samuel.
Be Light by who you are
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
“In the Old Testament, God revealed who he was. In the New Covenant, God revealed who we are to Him. Who are we as Pentecostals, as part of an emerging generation?” he added.
Are we ‘feel-good’ machineries? Are we an antique conduit that is no longer relevant in the modern word? How you respond to who you are will determine how your light shines in Christ.
Who are we? We must be the light of the substance of who we are. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit in us (Acts 2:38-39). We are the redeemed children of God (Psalm 107:2). And we have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness (Eph 5:11)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
“We are not defeated, condemned, and forsaken prisoners of this world. But we are the chosen generation, temples of the Holy Spirit, and conquerors in God, sanctified and delivered as the light of the world.”
“Why? You are who you are because God says so. You are not defined by our circumstances, critics, and past, but you are defined by the prophetic purposes in God and how God define you to be,” said Samuel.
When Gideon was threshing wheat on the ground to protect it from the Midianites, an angel suddenly visited him and told him that he was a mighty warrior (Judges 6:14). Gideon was told that he would defeat the Midianites with the strength he had at that point in time, not what he would be or what he would received three months later or in the future.
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Has anyone experienced dark moments? You need to believe that, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the season of dark times are over right now,” said Samuel.
Be Light by removing the bowl
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
“Be light by removing the obstacle of hiding your lamp under your bed. There’s nothing like being a comfortable Christian; it is an oxymoron. You cannot say that you’re spiritually empowered and have a silent Pentecostal. What is that?”
“Our challenges are to remove today’s complacency, which is tomorrow’s captivity, and to removestagnation, which always leads to atrophy. We are prophetic, not pathetic. We are called to share the light of Christ constantly,” said Samuel.
1 John 2:8
Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
God has not called us to engage the culture but change it. As an apolitical advisor to the presidents of United States, a reported asked him before on whether he was on the ‘Donkey’ side resembling the democrat or the ‘Elephant’ side resembling the republican.
Samuel replied, “I am not choosing the donkey or the elephant but I am married to the Lamb.” ‘The Lamb’s Agenda’ incidentally is the title of a book he has written, which is the only agenda that can save the world.
“We share the message of love and stability by charitable management, not by eloquent theory,” said Samuel emphasizing the Pentecostal movement should manifest in practical and goodwill actions.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
“We are not a flashlight but a lamp. A flashlight turns on and off. But as long as the lamp is connected to the source, it will continue to shine. We don’t need flashlight Pentecostals,” said Samuel.
Be Light where you stand
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
“That light must be placed on the stand. And the cross of Jesus Christ is our platform,” said Samuel.
The cross is the most powerful symbol, which has transformed the world. It is a universal symbol that is more powerful than Coca Cola and Microsoft. The cross is both vertical and horizontal, signifying that a Christian life must be vertically connected to God in His glory and horizontally connected to the community and society in relationships. In other words, our faith is built on both redemption (John 3:16) and relationship (Romans 12:5).
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
“What is the strongest part of the cross? It is the center, where redemption meets relationship, conviction meets compassion, and the New Jerusalem meets Kuala Lumpur. We need a generation that rises up in substance and character,” said Samuel.
Be Light by what you do
A reporter once asked Samuel, “What do Christians do?” since all they do is criticize and complain. Furthermore, Hollywood did not paint a positive picture of being a Christian either.
Samuel replied, “We love, we forgive, we turn the other cheek, we bless our enemies, we walk with integrity, we quench the thirst, we feed the hungry, we shine the light of Christ, we do justice, we show mercy, we walk humbly, and… we change the world!”
Sharing a conversation he had with a celebrity in the green room, the celebrity asked Samuel a very peculiar question, “I am starting to go to church but I am looking for one of those churches. Are you one of those spirit-churches?”
“If you mean… are we those churches who lift our hands and worship freely, having people speak in a language you don’t understand, and seeing people falling back on the power of God, then yes! We are one of those churches,” said Samuel who is convicted that Hollywood will be changed if only we see the power of God.
How do we shine his light? We cannot be holy ourselves but with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Samuel being the literal Light
In fact, Samuel experienced being the literal light for God before. While he was in McDonalds more than a decade ago, a lady stood behind the counter when he went to make his order. She looked up at him and started crying.
“I immediately thought, ‘Do I have bad-breath.’ She said, ‘I can’t take that order.’ So, the manager came over and thought what was that about,” said Samuel.
The lady approached him later and asked if he was a pastor. She told him that when he walked through the door, there was a light shining upon her from him. As he came closer to order, she started to see what were wrong in her life. Turned out, she grew up as a Catholic but she never went to church for years. And that light convicted her that she need to know God.
“My friend and I looked at her and we laid hands upon her in McDonalds. On that day, she was born again and she accepted Christ as her savior,” said Samuel.
“So, I encourage you to shine the light of Christ, by what you said, by who you are, and what you do. Make sure your actions would lead people to Christ, not obstacles. We need to shine the light of Christ through the substance of biblical truth, reconciling the vertical and horizontal, and have an authentic encounter with Jesus,” he added.
Authentic encounter with the Light
Raised in Pennsylvania before 14 years old, Samuel was a nerd in Math and Physics.With a logical side, he doubted everything the Bible said; he did not believe in miracles or the Holy Spirit. In short, he called himself as an ‘agnostic Pentecostal.’
But one day, God revealed himself to him. A teenager was singing in a choir at church when suddenly he shouted his name, to which everyone in church pointed at him; he was the only Samuel in church.
“The boy said, ‘Samuel, the Lord says, I will make you a voice of the people and you’re gonna preach the Word.’ I don't like preachers, I don’t even like church,” recalled Samuel.
He went home, thinking that the possibility of the boy calling the name ‘Samuel’ is like calling the name ‘Maria’ and ‘Joseph’ in a Spanish-speaking church, where half of the church would stand up. Like the two latter names, ‘Samuel’ was a popular name in a Spanish-speaking society.
One year later, another preacher came to the church and in the middle of the sermon, he shouted again, “Samuel, because I spoke to me over a year ago and you doubted me, I came back to you and said it to you again.”
Now, that should be a confirmation of God’s calling in his life yet Samuel was not convinced. The day after, a pastor reconfirmed his calling by telling Samuel exactly what he did the night before, that ‘there was a chance in a zillion’ that the pastor guessed it correctly.
“My dad believes in the word and he prayed for me every single day from six years old, ‘Do your will in his life,’” said Samuel. “I could be joining gangs and all but I couldn’t.”
Following God’s calling, Rev Samuel Rodriguez found himself sitting in the senator office of the United States. Thanks to his dad’s prayer, Samuel is doing the Will of God now where God said to him, “You are the light! I made you a light because your daddy prayed for you. You will shine my light in the midst of darkness.’”
While that's the word of God for Samuel,it is also the word of God for all of us as the children of God. Now, shine the light for God!
Note: The Wall Street Journal identified him as one of America’s seven most influential Hispanic leaders, with him as the only religious leader on the list. He is the president of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which is America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization with over 30,000 member churches.
References for pictures: