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Category Archives: Discipleship

Too Busy for Quiet Time

Quiet time, according to Google and Wikipedia, is a term used to describe regular individual sessions of Christian spiritual activities, such as prayer, private meditation, or study of the Bible. This is a term that is widely used in a lot of Christian Churches no matter what denomination you may be a part of. It’s one language that cuts across different Christian cultures.

In my youth groups in Church, I’d always emphasize the value of reading, meditating, loving and desiring God’s word. I believe that if we would just get it right with our private devotion with God then everything else will follow, especially our growth in Him. I’m very thankful for the people who modelled, demonstrated and imparted this to me. Now it’s my turn to pass it on to the next generation.

In my efforts to impart this to the next generation, I’d set-up challenging activities that aims to encourage and inspire us to read God’s word together daily. Research have shown that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This led me to set-up a 30 day (added 9 additional days to up the ante) challenge of reading God’s word with my youth groups. It proved to be effective as I saw the habit being formed and developed with the people I mentor. I think that I should do it again with the new set of people I’m mentoring (LIGHT BULB MOMENT!).

21days

In the past few weeks, however, I’ve been uncharacteristically missing some of my quiet time with God. Missing my time with God felt a bit bad because I knew that it should be priority. This led me to wanting to justify why I wasn’t able to make time for that. I started to rationalize that because of my work, it’ll be inevitable for me to miss a few days every so often. Sometimes there’s just moments where I had to work from very early in the morning until night. By the time I get home I’d already be exhausted.

Excuses excuses excuses.

Last Saturday, however, as I was reading the book of Luke a few verses about Jesus’ life struck me. These verses read as follows:

Luke 4:42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place…

Luke 5:16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Luke 6:12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

These verses, just to name a few, shows Jesus’ commitment to his personal devotion with God. Jesus is arguably the busiest person ever to walk the face of the planet. He fed 5,000 people, healed the sick, delivered sermons, stopped a boat from capsizing, carried his cross on the way to Golgotha, died on that same cross and after three days resurrected from the dead. These are some of the things he did just to name A FEW. Take note: A FEW. However, even though he was the busiest person in history, he modeled and demonstrated to us that our relationship with God should be top priority. Jesus did not let the busyness of his ministry exempt him from devoting time for God. Jesus did not make that an excuse even though he had very legitimate reasons.

Reading the verses above, I just knew that God was saying something to me. I got convicted on how the busiest person on earth can still make time with God whereas I’d make excuses on why I would miss them ever so often. It’s really a question of priorities and values more than it being an issue of busyness. Jesus didn’t compromise.

morning-with-jesus-quiet-time-with-the-Lord

We should do so as well. I’ll never forget a quote from Martin Luther that I read back in college, it says this:

“I have so much to do today that I must spend at least three hours in prayer.”

The first time I saw this, it didn’t make sense at all to me. It was something totally counterintuitive. I thought to myself, how can you say that you’d be spending three hours in prayer when you have so many things to do? Intuitively, what I’d do in a situation like that is drop my quiet time so that I’d have more time accomplishing my work checklist. I may not be able to explain logically or economically why Martin Luther’s statement above makes sense however, after seeing how Jesus prioritized his devotion to God it then made perfect sense.

I think the reason Jesus never got to busy for his devotion with God is because this was one of the things that was giving him strength with all the work he had to do. The verses said he withdrew to desolate places to pray.

Sometimes, when life gets to busy, when the demands of work and school seems overwhelming, I think that it’s a fantastic idea to just go to a solitary place, read your Bible and pray to God.

It’s counterintuitive yet, in reality, it’s more productive. 🙂

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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Discipleship

 

Pao Santi testimony (Get Wired to the FULL LIFE)

Last week, we had our recently concluded event titled: LIVE – Get Wired to the FULL LIFE. It was a great event which hosted 160+ LaSallian and St. Scholastican students. We hold events like these to invite first timers to Church and help them get to know how to live LIFE to the FULL. People had fun at LIVE and at the same time got to know about the one true light of the world: Jesus Christ.

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Another thing that happens whenever we conduct events like these, is we see students maximize their giftings and talents for the sake of advancing God’s kingdom. Many new student’s talents were discovered during the planning and execution of this event. Students also grow in their leadership skills since they had to deal with other people together in accomplishing a goal. One person whose leadership skill was tested the most is Paolo Santillan.

Pao Santi Final

Pao was the overall project head this time around. That means he had to lead different committee heads for this event. Pao did an awesome job for this LIVE and has grown tremendously in character, skills and leadership. I’m really so proud of him and you would be too if you just knew more about his story.

Pao’s Story

I met Pao around 4-5 years ago at KFC near our church in Victory Malate. His sister introduced him to me and was totally NR. I tried to engage him but he wasn’t responsive, it felt like he wasn’t interested in meeting new people in Church. I got his number so that I could invite him to our discipleship group, however, he didn’t reply to me that time. 😦 Siguro may pinagdadaanan siya back then. (Hi Pao Santi!)

Everything Happens for a Reason

After that initial encounter with Pao 4-5 years ago, I didn’t see him as often anymore in Church. I’d catch him once in a while but he’d still be NR to me. Little did I know that he was undergoing a tough time during that season. How’d I know? Check out his testimony below:

As Pao said, those were the times where he started to walk away from God because he blamed him for all the bad choices he made. He had so many unfortunate events that happened in his life, he started to drink, stopped going to class and hanged out with people who couldn’t help him. Pao would later drop out from DLSU and transfer to CSB.

God of Second Chances

For many people, that could have been the end. Getting kicked out from a school would probably make you feel like a failure. The good thing though is that life’s always full of second chances. Failure is just an event, it’s not a person and God will always give us another shot of getting it right with Him. We’ve all been there, we’ve all failed at one point but we thank God for the continuous outpouring of his forgiveness and grace.

Pao started to go back to church back in 2012. He mentioned to me that he saw church as an opportunity of trying to get back in good terms with his family. He attended a youth camp with his sisters and the rest was history. In that camp, Pao encountered God and finally took his walk with Him seriously.

The youth camp was summer of 2012 and when the school year came, that’s when he started doing 121 and growing in his walk with Jesus. By 2013, he started leading his own life group in CSB and people started to notice the gift of leadership in his life. He started exhorting in our youth services and discipleship meetings encouraging others students with God’s word. The gift of wisdom is very evident in his life. He also started leading and organizing discipleship meetings for our campus ministry in DLSU and CSB.

Last March 11 he was able to lead a successful event: LIVE. One of the biggest he’s ever handled. From the person who didn’t like making new friends in Church to the person that he’s now become, clearly this is one unique turnaround story by God. 🙂

Also, as much as he’s leading events in our campus ministry, he doesn’t forget his other priorities. Pao today continues to disciple others, grow in his relationship with his family and excel in school. A few weeks ago he told me how he got the highest grade in class from a subject that’s known to be difficult in Benilde. God is indeed gracious and can help turn around someone’s life 180 degrees. It’s really true what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We have millions of stories whose lives has been turned around by Christ. Pao’s story is just one of them. The reason why Pao Santi’s life has turned around is because of one person: Jesus Christ.

LIVE – Get Wired to the FULL LIFE isn’t just a nice title for an event so that we can get people to go. It’s an event ran by students whose lives has been personally changed by God himself and are all now living life to the fullest. 🙂

I know that Pao still has a long way to go. There’d still be more challenges to face but I just know that as long as he continues to walk in Christ then he’d always be living life to the full. Pao is one of many world changers who’d continue to affect other people’s lives one person at a time. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Discipleship

 

What is God’s will for my life?

What is God’s will for my life? Have you ever asked yourself that question? I sure did, and still continuously do so even today. Constantly seeking for God’s will for our lives is one of the most important things that we can ever do. I often find myself faced with this question in my walk with God and when I talk with other people. Last Thursday, I spent time with a student and one of our conversations zeroed in on the subject of God’s will.

The question of “What is God’s will for my life?” is one of the biggest question for a person who have recently made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. That question is a $64,000 dollar question for a lot of Christians today. Most Christians feel that if that question just gets answered… then everything will go smooth sailing for their lives. We think that if we can just unlock the secrets and the mystery of God’s will then life is going to be easy. We think that we no longer have to be surprised by uncertainties in our lives.

know-gods-willWhat’s God’s will for my life?! What’s God’s will for my life?! What’s God’s will for my life?!

Now if you’re here and you’re reading this blog and you constantly find yourself asking this question. I have great news for you! God’s will in your life is knowable! In fact, I’m going to tell you below, the primary way that we can know God’s will! Are you ready? Here it goes, here’s the answer:

We can primarily know God’s will for our lives by reading His word

Reading-Bible-pd

TADAAA! There it is, you can know God’s will for your life by reading the Bible. Surprise surprise!

But WAITTTT!! Did the answer somehow fail your expectations? Have you heard this answer so many times already and was expecting a different one? Did you expect an answer that will give you the key in unlocking where God wants to lead you in this season? Well if that’s you, then hopefully you’ll continue to read along to see where I’m getting at. 🙂

I believe that, for a lot of us, whenever we ask the question: What is God’s will for my life? We’re primarily thinking about his SPECIFIC WILL for our lives. This concerns more of the “WHAT WILL WE BECOME”. God’s specific will zeroes in more on these questions:

“Lord, am I going to be an engineer one day?”
“God, what college should I go to?”
“What course should I take?”
For the singles: “Lord, what’s the name of the person whom I’m going to marry one day?”
And so on and so forth.

God has a specific will for our lives! That’s true and I believe that that is the beauty of this Christian walk. Our walk with God is an adventure! It’s the most exciting thing we can ever journey through in this walk called life. However, as much as this is true, sometimes our tendency is to give too much focus and emphasis on God’s SPECIFIC WILL rather than the other part of God’s will which is his GENERAL WILL.

Yup! That’s right, I believe that this is one way that we can look at the topic of God’s will. There’s his GENERAL WILL (sometimes we call this as his MORAL WILL) and his SPECIFIC WILL (sometimes referred to as his WILL OF EVENTS or PROVIDENTIAL WILL).

Our hearts, our questions, our desires focuses more on the SPECIFIC than the GENERAL. Too many times, we tend to lose sight and focus on his GENERAL WILL. I think that this is funny especially when it comes to the question: “WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE?” because 95% of God’s will is already found in scripture. I forgot where I learned that quote, but it’s an idiomatic expression saying that MOST of GOD’S WILL is already found in scripture. We just have to read and apply it in our lives.

If we’re really truly concerned about God’s will we will CONSTANTLY read his word and apply it in our lives.

If there’s anything that I want to achieve in this blog, it’s this: that you will focus more on God’s GENERAL WILL than his SPECIFIC WILL. Again, God’s specific will is amazing. Knowing and seeing how he moves directly in our lives shows us that our God is real and directly concerned in our lives. However, if you think about it, focusing too much on the SPECIFIC WILL without concerning on the GENERAL WILL may leave you most of the time frustrated. It will lead you frustrated, because you’re always asking those questions:

“Lord, am I going to be an engineer one day?”
“God, what college should I go to?”
“What course should I take?”
For the singles: “Lord, what’s the name of the person whom I’m going to marry one day?”

If you just observe closely all these questions that concerns God’s specific will in our lives, these are questions that only occasionally happens in our lives. They occur once in a blue moon. The answer to “God, what college should I go to?” only happens when we enter high school or college, after that you never had to worry about the question ever again in your life.  Whereas in our everyday lives, God’s GENERAL WILL occurs more frequently. Imagine if we just took the time to focus on his GENERAL WILL then we would know what to do in these situations:

Whenever feel lazy
When we get tempted
When someone offends us
When we see a first-timer in church
Should we honor our parents or not?
Any many many many other situations.

These are moments that we will encounter more, more than the questions I posted above relating to God’s SPECIFIC WILL. If we have just been busy in concerning ourselves in knowing and following God’s GENERAL WILL, then we would know how to act and respond properly in those situations. I believe that one of the reason why they say that 95% of God’s will is already in the Bible is because God has already given us instruction how to face most of the challenges we face in life. I believe that 95% of the events that will happen in our lives are part of God’s GENERAL WILL, while the 5% is part of God’s SPECIFIC WILL. We can choose today and decide what will we focus on and put our energies in.

Lastly, again this is not to say that I’m against the SPECIFIC WILL. What I just want to say is that hopefully we’ll focus more on his GENERAL WILL, because at the end of the day:

God’s more concerned in WHO you are becoming than WHAT you are becoming

The good news is, if we constantly live a life that obeys and honors God’s GENERAL WILL, then our character gets built. The WHO in us becomes refined and mature so that when God reveals to us his SPECIFIC WILL, we will be ready. Pastor Steve said in his book WikiChurch:

“My experience tells me that if we are ever to find that special grace and calling, we will most likely find it while in pursuit of doing what God has already called us to do. For me, that meant embracing the Great Commission as my own. Following the Lord’s command generally led me to a more specific understanding of what God wanted from my life.

There you have it, from Victory’s founding pastor himself. Constantly living a life that obeys God’s GENERAL WILL, will ultimately lead us towards God’s SPECIFIC CALLING in our lives.

May God give you the grace to obey his general will for your life as he slowly but surely reveals his specific calling for you.

God bless and Happy Monday everyone!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Discipleship

 

Remember the Sabbath

Happy Monday to everyone! Yes it’s Monday again and that only means one thing especially for people like me who works full-time in the Church: Rest Day or Day Off. However, more than this just being a rest day, it is primarily our Sabbath.

Sabbath, as defined by google, “is a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.”

Sabbath is very famous to a lot of people because it is part of the ten commandments:

Exodus 20:8-11
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Growing up, the concept of a Sabbath in the culture I lived in means making sure that I go to Church once a week. Over the years however, as I became a Christian, my mindset of the Sabbath changed. For the past years, honoring the Sabbath for me means that I shouldn’t be working on this day. Hooray for rest day! I used to picture the Sabbath as a day where I can freely do all my hobbies without having to think of my responsibilities in work. For me that means a day of either: Sleeping, watching Sports (NBA, MMA, Tennis), listening to the songs of my favorite bands, playing the guitar (well not that much anymore), running, writing, Studying Mathematics (YES I consider that a hobby), oh and did I mention sleeping? That’s my “ideal” kind of Sabbath, a day where I can just freely do anything that I wanted.

Guitarlebrondunk1-e1388277581455 o-IS-MATHEMATICS-INVENTED-OR-DISCOVERED-facebook

However as I continued to study and learn more about the word of God. I realized that my picture of what the Sabbath should look like is a bit off tangent. It’s not totally wrong, but the focus and center of my picture of the Sabbath isn’t what it should totally be. The things I mentioned above are part of it, but Sabbath is something more than those things.

Following are three important things I learned about the Sabbath (even as I write this I’m still in the process of discovery and learning more about the Sabbath):

1) The Sabbath day is PRIMARILY a time of FELLOWSHIP between GOD and MAN.

Yup! You read that write. Sabbath is more than just a day off or a “no-work” day. God made the Sabbath so that we can just enjoy our relationship with him on this special day. Don’t get me wrong, we should enjoy our relationship with God every single day, however there’s something about the Sabbath where we’re commanded to not work so that we can focus more on our relationship with God. I see this every Monday. I see that I have a LOT of time in my hands compared to a usual work day. Now, because of the amount of time I have in my hands, I no longer have any excuse not to have my quiet time with the Lord. In fact because of the Sabbath I even have extended periods of time just reading his word and letting him speak to my mind and heart.

In Genesis, when God created the heavens and the earths it says there that on the seventh day God rested:

Genesis 2:2-3
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Pastor Joey Bonifacio, author of the book “The Lego Principle”, explained that the reason God rested was not because he got tired, because God never grows tired nor weary. No, God rested from his work so that he can have fellowship with us. That’s the reason for the Sabbath day.

How have you been spending your sabbaths? Pastor Manny Carlos, the executive director of Victory Ministers Association said that the Sabbath day shouldn’t be a “FLESH BREAK”, it’s a time we commune with God so that we can rest, draw energy from him and be ready for the week that is ahead of us.

2) Honoring the Sabbath day communicates our TRUST in God.

Honoring our Sabbath means to not work (not to the point of LEGALISM though like what the Pharisees instituted). Last 2014, I thank God that I was able to honor my Mondays last year. I made it a point, and was very intentional in leaving work in Church. I learned from one leadership podcast that God made the Sabbath to tell us that he will still choose to love and bless us even if we don’t work. The reason there is because God values more our relationship with him more than our performance for him. Honoring our Sabbath communicates how much we trust God because we know that even if we don’t think about work, God has everything under his control.

3) Sabbath is about ENJOYING the beauty of CREATION with the CREATOR

Lastly, I mentioned above that it’s not totally wrong to engage in our favorite pastimes during the Sabbath. However, what we need to be to be careful of is making these things the ultimate thing during our Sabbaths. I believe that it’s about enjoying these created things with God together and not taking him out of the picture. Like a Father to a Son or a Daughter I believe God wants us to see the beautiful world around us that he created. This is the picture I see in Genesis.

Imagine for a second with me. God had just performed the greatest show on earth by setting-up the whole universe with all the galaxies, stars and planets in their proper places. After that, God’s now just finalizing his finishing touches in one of his masterpiece called Earth. Then the seventh day came when he rested with the pinnacle of creation: Mankind. As soon as mankind opens his eyes and activates all of his senses, he immediately sees God and the whole universe that he had created. I picture that to be a breathtaking sight. One way of resting and enjoying our sabbaths: By enjoying the beauty of God’s creation with God himself.

Creation

Hope this blog helped you gain more insight in what the Sabbath day really is for. Again, I’m still learning about the Sabbath but I do believe that it is really primarily a time of FELLOWSHIP with GOD and MAN, TRUSTING Him more and more, and lastly enjoying the beautiful world that God created together with him.

Have a great Sabbath ahead of you! 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Discipleship

 

What does Great Faith look like?

With the year 2014 coming down to a close, one of my prayers to God for 2015 is to be a more faith-filled person. I want to have an increased faith just like what the apostles asked of Jesus: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5. That’s the same prayer I have entering 2015!

In the gospel of Matthew there’s an account of a person who stood out to Jesus because of the kind of faith that he had. The faith of this person caught Jesus’ attention so much that he even said that he had not found such a faith as his in the whole of Israel. The person I’m talking about is the centurion who had an encounter with Jesus. You may read the account of the centurion in one of the gospels:

Matthew 8:5-10
When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

As I read about the story of the centurion, I tried to understand what made his faith so special. What kind of faith could a man have such that it will impress even Jesus himself and stand out amongst the crowd? Is this a kind of faith that believes for great, mighty and impossible things? Is this the kind of faith that will dare to do just about anything because of courage, guts and relentlessness? What made his faith so special?

Great-Faith

As I read the story of the centurion again and again, the qualities I mentioned above weren’t really the things that stood out from that man’s faith. The centurion’s faith isn’t the faith that I’d expect from someone who would have such great and amazing faith. His was different from what the world and even most Christians describe as a faith that is so great. I thought to myself, what could have been so distinct about this man’s faith that would cause Jesus to give such high praises for him. I tried my best to understand what was it from his story that stood out. Following are the things that I observed from the centurion’s life and why he was dubbed as someone of great faith:

1) The centurion had an attitude of humility, he knew his place before God.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof

The centurion tells Jesus here that he isn’t worthy to have the Lord of creation come to his house and meet with him face to face. At first we may think that we’ve got a pretty insecure fellow here who got starstruck because he’s able to have a conversation with Jesus face-to-face. Not quite the man we normally thought would be a person identified with great faith. However, for me, I think that the centurion didn’t say those words just because he was insecure or starstruck when he saw Jesus. I think that he said those things because he knew exactly who he was in the light of the presence of the Lord of creation.

Centurion

The truth is we are really undeserving people of the riches of God’s mercy and grace. Lest at any point we become entitled to anything in this lifetime we should stop for a while and think again. The centurion knew his place, he knew who he really was in front of a Holy God. Time and time again the Bible tells us that the truth is we are nothing but dust and ashes. It takes GREAT FAITH to be able to see that and not be blinded by what we see with our position, achievement and status in life. GREAT FAITH is grounded in humility.

2) The centurion recognized God’s POWER

“…but only say the word, and my servant will be healed...”

The centurion had so much trust in God’s power to be able to heal the servant. He had GREAT FAITH because of his level of trust in God. He knew that the moment Jesus would speak a promise, its fruition would immediately come to pass.

3) The centurion recognized God’s AUTHORITY

“…For I too am a man under authority,…”

The centurion also respected and honored Jesus’ authority. While many of his contemporaries like the pharisees disrespected Jesus’ authority, the centurion had GREAT FAITH to see who Christ really was. To many people during Jesus’ time, he was just an ordinary man, blasphemous, a carpenter, a nobody. However, the centurion went and saw beyond the physical. He knew and recognized Jesus’ authority over all life and creation. It takes GREAT FAITH to be able to do that.

The centurion modelled what GREAT FAITH is really all about. Like what I said earlier, the characteristics of the centurion above may not be what we have imagined GREAT FAITH to be; however the account of the centurion shows us what Jesus thinks great faith is.

Faith according to A.W. Tozer

I think A.W. Tozer explains what faith really is all about in his book “The Pursuit of God”. Here, he gives us a working definition of what faith is all about. He said that Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God. After reading this book, my mindset on faith totally change. It hit me that faith is ALL about God and NEVER about the “strength” of the faith of a person. Great Faith has nothing to do with abilities of a person but the more about the object of our faith. A.W. Tozer adds these other nuggets of wisdom about what faith is all about:

“Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves—blessed riddance.”

“Faith is not in itself a meritorious act; the merit is in the One toward Whom it is directed. Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus. Sin has twisted our vision inward and made it self-regarding. Unbelief has put self where God should be,…Faith looks out instead of in and the whole life falls into line.”

Those words from Tozer hit me hard. Faith is never about the act, it’s never about what I can do, never about how talented or strong I am. Great Faith is all about seeing less and less of me and more and more of God. Great Faith is never about us, it’s all about God. My hope and prayer that this insight helped you as you continue to grow in your relationship with God. Remember, faith is important and essential in our Christian walk. We must continue to grow in it but again we it should be clear what great faith looks like lest we go pursue after the wrong definition of it.

God bless! 🙂

P.S.
Oh and did you notice that the centurion wasn’t even named in this story? Nobody knows his name, background, clan or lineage. All that we know is that he was someone who had one of the greatest faith Israel. Great Faith doesn’t need to be known by other people it’s primarily between us and God.

Praying for faith to continually arise in all of us. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2014 in Discipleship

 

Make the most of your Christmas Break

Christmas is just around the corner! 3 days to go! A lot of schools are already in vacation mode. Offices in this season are generally reaching a down peak. My brother is here at our home doing his favorite hobby of cooking. Christmas Season = Christmas Break! Most look forward to this for that “much needed break”; break from work for those who are working, and break from studies for those who are studying.

Ideally this should be the season where we’re no longer busy. Ideally this should be a season where we can no longer make any excuses for not reading our Bible and spending time with God. Right? Well the truth is sometimes, when we go on a “break” our quiet times and moments with God take a break as well. Yep! I also feel the same tension. Why? I don’t really understand, but maybe it’s because our Christmas Break is a time where we’re in our comfort zones. Our comfort zones are times when we don’t rely on God as much. Biblically, this has also been the pattern. My hope and prayer is that we’ll fight to spend time with God. As you’re reading this I’m also trying my best to fight for my time with God. The whole day has such been a lazy day for me. Good thing is I already did my quiet time this morning. 🙂

Christmas Break

Following are things that we can do together this Christmas break:

1) Don’t forget the LORD

Deuteronomy 8:11
“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”

This is what I’ve been talking about above. God reminded the Israelites through Moses to be very careful not to forget God when they become successful as they gain possession of the promise land. The promise land is a land flowing with milk and honey. It was a place of comfort for them. Periods of successes and comfort zones, most of the time, are the times when we tend not to rely on God as much.

Let’s not forget God especially in this season. I think one of the ways to fight that is to look back 2014 and thank God for all the things he’s done to our lives. 🙂

1 Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

2) Set aside a day of SOLITUDE

I got this practice from John Ortberg in his book: “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” (One of the best books I’ve ever read please buy it!). Once a year I spend a whole day with God undisturbed and all by myself. I usually go home to my province in Lipa City just to meditate on his word the whole day. I found this to be very helpful in terms of aligning my life to God’s word and God’s will. John Ortberg wrote this in his book to help us better understand what solitude is for:

“Francis de Sales used the image of a clock to express his need for extended solitude.

There is no clock, no matter how good it may be, that doesn’t need resetting and rewinding twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. In addition, at least once a year it must be taken apart to remove the dirt clogging it, straighten out bent parts, and repair those worn out. In like manner, every morning and evening a man who really takes care of his heart must rewind it for God’s service… Moreover, he must often reflect on his condition in order to reform and improve it. Finally, at least once a year he must take it apart and examine  every piece in detail, that is every affection and passion, in order to repair whatever defects there  may be.”

John Ortberg says that this may feel like a waste of time because in these moments your mind will tend to wonder but usually that happens the first time. The second, third time we’ll get used to it more and more. We must fight for moments like this with God. Here’s a pattern John Ortberg wrote down on how to do a day of solitude and I quote:


Extended Solitude

1. Find a place where you can be uninterrupted and alone, such as a part or a retreat center.
2. Spend a brief time the night before to get ready, to ask God to bless the day, and to tell him you want to devote the day to him. This day is your gift to God, but even more, it is a gift God wants to give you. What do you need from the Lord: a sense of healing and forgiveness? Conviction for an apathetic heart? Compassion? A renewed sense of mission? Ask him for this.
3. Arrange the day around listening to God. The following format is adapted from Glandion Carney’s book The Spiritual Toolkit.

8:00 – 9:00 Prepare your mind and heart, take a walk, or do whatever will help you set aside concerns over tasks and responsibilities. Try to arrange your mornings so you can remain in silence from the time you awaken.
9:00 – 11:00 Read and meditate on Scripture, taking time to stop to reflect when God seems to be speaking to you through the text.
11:00 – 12:00 Write down responses to what you have read. Speak to God about them.
12:00 – 1:00 Eat lunch and take a walk, reflecting on the morning.
1:00 – 2:00 Take a nap.
2:00 – 3:00 Set goals that emerge from the day’s reflection.
3:00 – 4:00 Write down these goals and other thoughts in a journal. You may want to do this in the form of a letter to God. Prepare to reenter society.

3) Write down a personal MISSION STATEMENT

This has also been my practice for the past couple of years already. I started writing this I think four years ago until I kept on refining and refining it. Writing a mission statement just like setting aside a day of solitude helps me align my will to God’s will. There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about carefully searching our hearts and making sure that we align it to God’s will:

Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

After years of doing this, my personal mission statement is still being refined. The only thing I think I got right is the first part of my mission statement and that is: “To live for the glory of God” or “Honor God”. The other part of my mission statement is still under construction. You can start doing yours! It’s not going to be a very easy task. It will take more than one sitting to do it but you have to start somewhere. As you start to do it then you’ll continually refine it and continually align your life to the honor of God. 🙂

God bless you and may you make the most out of your Christmas Break. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Discipleship

 

The GOD TEST

Finally it’s here! A few months ago, there was a big campaign in our Victory Metro Manila Churches that equipped and empowered leaders on how to use the GOD TEST.

TheGodTest

The God Test is something to be excited about because the it is currently being used in many parts of the world. As said in its official website:

“THE GOD TEST is being used literally around the world as a groundbreaking tool for Evangelism. From New York to Cape Town, it has not only sparked tens of thousands of gospel conversations, but it is also helping believers to be more equipped and secure in their faith.” – http://www.thegodtest.org

My goal in this blog is to encourage our leaders and potential leaders to proactively engage other people with the GOD TEST. The reason for this writing is because I believe that this campaign will not come without challenges. We may all start out very excited and pumped up to share with our friends, loved ones and even strangers but it only takes one bad experience to hinder us from evangelizing. My hope is that when you read the reasons below, you’ll be reminded on why we are doing this thus gaining more confidence in engaging with the GOD TEST. 🙂 The reasons below are not exhaustive. Feel free to comment below for other motivations to do the GOD TEST. I’d love to hear and learn from you. 🙂

REASON #1: We do the GOD TEST because…

Nothing in this world is more essential than GOD

Yes, NOTHING in this world will be more essential than God. This is why we have to engage people in a conversation about Him. Some people may think it weird that we’re doing the GOD TEST. People may have already labeled us as religious, holy, or just plain weird. Maybe you’ve encountered some of them. Maybe they made fun of you already. A lot of skeptics today feel that because of quantum leaps in the development of science and technology; God or the “concept” of God is no longer essential. I beg to differ with that because God still remains the most essential thing in people’s lives. It’ll take another blog to explain why God is still the most essential thing in this world but that’s not my point here. Your skeptic friends may not know it, or they may not believe it, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Don’t be discouraged when your friends or loved ones make fun of you. For others, what they consider as essential is stuff like personal needs, education, money, career, studies etc. However, none of those things can ever compare to God because it’s God who created all of those things whether people believe it or not. A lot of people just don’t realize this yet, that’s why we have to do our best to engage them in a conversation about God.

Continue on doing the GOD TEST and don’t be discouraged, I believe God is already working in the lives of the people we do the GOD TEST with. He’s also pleased with you and that is a fact. 🙂

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

REASON #2: We do the GOD TEST because…

We want to OBEY GOD

Jesus said in Mark 16:15 (NIV)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

At the end of the day, the GOD TEST is just a tool but a good excuse for us Christians to share the message of the gospel to our friends and loved ones. Jesus said in the passage above to preach the gospel to all the world and creation. That’s a direct command for all Christians. Sometimes, we have great difficulties on sharing the gospel to people because we don’t know where to start. The God Test, based on my experience, made it easier to share the gospel. I praise God for this tool! Sharing the gospel has never been this easy!

What’s our excuse? 🙂 When we preach the gospel we obey God. Sometimes the reason we don’t want to obey God is because it’s too difficult, the GOD TEST made it a bit easier. I never had this tool back when I was in college, now it’s here. Let’s continue to maximize it.

REASON #3: We do the GOD TEST because…

God wants all men to get saved

A lot of us know this already, but most of the time we just need to be reminded of the significance of what we’re doing. When people receive Jesus Christ in their lives, something happens, people cross over from death to life. The Bible says that we were all dead in our transgressions apart from Jesus Christ. The gospel is the only way for us to be saved, there’s no other way (John 14:6). Although at the end of the day it is not our job to save people, God has given us the privilege of sharing the message of salvation to others. I hope we never take that for granted, that’s something definitely mind-blowing if we just really think about it. When we share the gospel, we become channels for others to know and hear what Christ did for us on the cross. I remember the time when someone shared the gospel to me:

The first time I understood the message of the gospel was back in college. Two strangers approached me and my block mates one afternoon. They shared to us the gospel through a material called the Four Spiritual Laws. At first I didn’t understand what they shared to us, but after a while I joined their fellowship. One of the stranger’s names was kuya Paul Aragones and he continued to explain to me what Christ did for me on the cross after our initial meet-up. I still remember that moment and from then on I realized that Jesus Christ died and paid for my sins so that I can have eternal life. I realized I am saved by grace through faith and not by what I do for God. I realized that because of the cross I now have eternal life in Jesus Christ. Imagine if he didn’t share to me the gospel, where would I be right now? Now the same is true for us who now shares the gospel to other people. We’re like kuya Paul in my testimony, people will remember us and be thankful to us because we shared the gospel to them.

When people make a decision to put their faith in Christ, they’re making the best decision of their lives. When we share the gospel to our friends and loved ones, we become part of the most important moment of their lives. May we never lose our wonder and amazement every time that happens. The Bible says that all of heavens are rejoicing in times like these. So we should as well. 🙂

I hope and pray that because of those three reasons, we’ll continue to be excited in using the GOD TEST. The stakes are high and time is of the essence. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Discipleship