“God has laid in my heart on an important topic named ‘Choices.’ Have you heard of this statement, ‘You are free to choose but you are not free to escape the consequences of your decisions’? Life is about choices,” said Pastor Peter Tan-chi of the 60,000-strong Christ’s Commission Fellowship in the Philippines, in the LEAD Conference in DUMC on 4 June 2015.
We make choices every day – our career, who to marry, and whether to follow Jesus or not. We are free to choose but we are not free to escape its consequences.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Gal 6:7)
Firstly, do not be deceived. Have you been deceived? How do you feel? When Pastor Peter was in college, he was deceived into buying an adulterated gold bar out of greed.
“It’s one thing to be cheated and another thing to cheat others. But its worst to cheat yourself. Do not deceive yourself,” said Pastor Peter.
Secondly, God is not mocked. We cannot make a fool out of God, for whatever a man sows, that is what he will reap. A Chinese proverbs once said, ‘Whatever you plant, that you will reap.’ If you plant corn, you will reap corn.
There’s also another principle: what you sow, you will not reap immediately. However, many young people cannot connect their life choices with consequences because the latter is not immediate.
“I have a friend who’s a pilot who said, ‘If you’re off one-degree in flying, every sixty miles, you miss your target by one mile. If you’re in a short distance and you see the runway, you can make it.
“But if you travel for 6000 miles and you are off by just one degree, by the end of it, you will not see the runway. You cannot see the airport. You are way off. Why? This is because one degree off after a long time has serious consequences. I realized it’s about life,” said Pastor Peter emphasizing again that we are free to choose but we are not free to escape the consequences of our choices.
In Genesis 25, Scripture tells us how Isaac and Rebekah bore Esau and Jacob, and Isaac favoured Esau as a man who hunts while Rebekah favoured Jacob as a quiet man who dwelled mostly in the tent.
“If you want family problem, you play favouritism. This is the worse… My advice to you parents, ‘Please do not show favouritism.’ Because if you show favouritism, you are sowing the seed of future problems,” said Pastor Peter.
On a side note, a few people had been asking him on whether loving each child equally is possible.
“I have five wonderful kids and I love all of them. Now, when I love all of them the same, what do I mean? I know there are some kids are probably more like me, and because they are more like me, we are more compatible.
“But I make sure that I love them all the same. So, if you ask all my kids, they will tell you, ‘They are my favourite.’ I make sure they know that I really love them,” said Pastor Peter Tanchi.
He would habitually tuck his children in by kissing them nose-to-nose, cheek-to-cheek, and head-to-head. And then, he would asked each child, “Who loves you?” to which each would jump and say, “Daddy loves me!” The Bible is descriptive in this story, meaning honest with the failures of the men of God, to teach us the disasters of playing favouritism with our children.
Relating back to appetite, Pastor Peter shared how Jacob was cooking stew when Esau came in to ask for a bowl of stew. But Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” (Gen 25:31) In the Middle East culture, the eldest child has the birthright to have authority in the family and double portion of everything.
All of us have appetites, which is not wrong, such as food, popularity, and sex. But sin has distorted our appetite. And this distortion has caused our appetite to shout, “I want it now! And I want more and more and more.” Because of appetite, Esau sold his birthright, which he despised. (Gen 25:33-34)
This one decision of taking that bowl of stew is momentous, which effects magnified across the years! Years later, Moses described God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with no mention of Esau. And 2000 years later, Matthew wrote about the genealogy of Messiah beginning from the son of Abraham, the son of Isaac, and the son of Jacob. That is the far-reaching consequences of selling your birthright.
“Because of appetite, you make choices. You are free to make choices but remember, you are not free to escape its consequences,” said Pastor Peter.
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done. (Heb 12:16-17)
Pastor Peter Tanchi shared how a former church member made a string of bad choices, which involved priotizing money and career over faith and family, and committing adultery. And while the family is reconciled now, this person was not free from the hurt he caused himself, his wife, his children, and his fallen reputation.
“Remember that appetite does not have any complete satisfaction. Appetite always want more, more, and more. One of it is money. Money will always say, ‘I want more, I want more, I want more.’ And the problem with appetite is that if you give into appetite, they will kill you,” said Pastor Peter.
He added, “Appetite is in everyone of us but you need to learn how to manage your appetite. The Bible says that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Let me ask you, ‘What is your bowl of soup?’ Do you have a bowl of soup in your life?”
The Lord forgives us but we are not free from the consequences of our decisions. Pastor Peter shared how his wife Deonna made an important decision years ago of submitting to and obeying God.
Deonna was serving in the Campus Crusade for Christ in Saint Hosea, when the Lord gave her a vision through fasting and praying of how she would impact many people in Asia. She was a part of the singing group Crossroads that would be singing in nine countries including Malaysia.
“So, I came leaving my family, my boyfriend, and I came excited to serve God in Asia, knowing that He has a purpose and a plan. But you know, God is always testing our heart. And when I got here, and I remember God spoke to me, ‘Deonna, are you willing to be single for me?’
“And I remember thinking, ‘Lord, I will be happiest doing your will. So, yes, I’m willing. But of course you know, I like to be married. So, just in case, you want me to marry, here’s what kind of man I pray for.’ So I listed.
“So, if you’re single, I’m encouraging you, you pray this prayer. Be willing to be single because you will only be happiest doing God’s Will. I listed down the qualities but God told me that on top of my list is that I wanted a man who really loves God and serves God,” said Deonna.
She made this prayer in November 1971. And on January 1972 in a concert, a tall and handsome Chinese man walked in – that was Pastor Peter Tan-Chi. And as Deonna began to know him, she realized that he had everything she wanted in her list but there was no word from God.
Peter left to the United States for work while Deonna had a concert in Sibu. After the concert, she returned to her room in the ship. There, the Spirit revealed to her that Peter was going to ask for her hand in marriage upon his return from the States.
“I was shocked because we had not discuss marriage. And I remember praying again, ‘Well Lord, we are of different race, different countries, and different cultures, is this really Your Will? Is it okay?’
“And then God gave me a verse, ‘In Christ, there’s no more Jews or Gentiles, males or females, slaves or free men, for all are one in Christ, and other verses. So, by the end of the evening, after talking to God, I knew that He wanted me to marry Peter.
“But I was so scared of the commitment of leaving my country and everything. I called in my teammate. I said, ‘I’m calling you to be my witness. God has told me that I will be marrying Peter and I am afraid. Of course, I will follow Him. But you’re here, so I won’t back out,’” said Deonna.
Two days later when she was in Manila, Peter indeed called and proposed to her. The Bible said that the steps of a righteous man is ordered by God. (Psalm 37:23). And because God has prepared Deonna, He has given her the grace to make that decision to marry Peter.
“Honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I have made in my life after receiving Christ. You know, I looked back, God has given me a verse, it says, ‘No one has left father, mother, family, home, properties for my sake, that I will give them back hundred times in this life, along with persecution that were to come.
“See, I left the States with three suitcases. And today, I have a wonderful husband, the best, seeing God’s mighty power at work, and five wonderful children and as they say five wonderful in-laws, fifteen grandchildren, and one on the way.
“You know there are choices we make and there are consequences. Those are the blessings. But I think, had I not followed the Lord – by the way, Peter, thank you for following the Lord too, asking me to marry you – I would have none of that and I would not have been here tonight to share my testimony with you that God is so good,” said Deonna.
Life is about choices and Deonna made the choice to follow Jesus, and that choice led to other choices, which included going to Asia and marrying Pastor Peter.
“Sometimes, it’s costly to follow Jesus but I discovered that it’s more costly not to follow Jesus. You don’t know what you are missing. Life is about choices,” said Pastor Peter.
At that very moment as well, around the time Deonna was having a concert in Sibu, Pastor Peter was given the choice to work in Atlanta for Coca Cola. But he decided to reject the offer because the absence of accountability, would place him in a dangerous position for temptation.
“So, my choice is that I am not going to the States, I am not ready, I am going to stay in the Philippines. How did I know by staying in the Philippines, God will send a girl from the States.
“I tell singles the 3 M’s of life, the choices. The first ‘M’ is master, that’s important. The next one is mission, and the last one is mate. So, I pray that you make Jesus your master. Once you make Jesus your master, He will tell you your mission. And the next one is mate. Life is about choices,” said Pastor Peter.
All of us have appetites but we need to learn to manage it. The problem with appetites is that we want things now like Esau who could not wait for his bowl of soup. Manage your appetite or your appetite will manage you.
When we are tempted and the appetite becomes very strong, what do we do? Pastor Peter shared Deonna’s prescription for managing appetite with the acronym ‘PRAY.’
First, we are called to ‘pause’, meaning to take a deep breath when we face the decision to whether to indulge our appetite or not, such as watching pornography or pursuing women. Then, we are called to ‘resist’ the first impulse. Next, we are called to ‘ask’ God. And lastly, we need to ‘yield’ to the Spirit of God for whatever He asks us to do.
“You are free to choose but you are not free to escape the consequences. Please think, ‘What is your bowl of soup?’ What is your appetite that you are ready to trade in your birthright?
“I see many Christians willing to trade their birthrights. You know what is your birthright? You are princes and princesses. God has a fantastic future for you and your family.
“Why are you going to sacrifice those amazing privileges, amazing future of being used by God? You know why? Appetite. If you don’t learn to manage this appetite, it’s going to be a problem,” said Pastor Peter.
Again, you are free to choose but you are not free to escape its consequences. But when you are faced with a temptation to fulfil your appetite, remember the acronym ‘PRAY’ which stands for pause, resist, ask, and yield. And remember also the three ‘M’ in choosing, which stands for master, mission, and mate. Make Jesus your master, follow His mission, and commit your mate to Him.
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