Overcoming Christmas stress? 

Feeling tossed between tidal waves in the middle of the ocean since my return to Manila a week ago -that’s how I can describe myself, at least in the past few days. Christmas time is an awesome, wonderful time to celebrate and reunite with good old friends, colleagues, and family. However, this “awesome, wonderful time” can also cost us with a lot of things and inconveniences. If we are not watchful, we will unknowingly grow hearts of complaints and grudges because of the many things that are happening around us. And this is not the way it should be!

Below are some points on how we can avoid and overcome this:

IDENTIFYING THE STRESS FACTOR

Stress can be both good and bad. But what is causing the stress within us? When stress begins to surface, it’s important to identify what triggers it by asking ourselves honest questions like:

  • Am I stressed because things are not happening my way?
  • Am I stressed because my travel time went beyond what I expected?
  • Am I stressed because I have so many expenses for all the Christmas parties I need to go to?
  • Am I stressed because I’m not getting the things I want?

And there are a lot of other questions that we can ask ourselves whenever we start getting stressed!

As we examine what triggers stress in us, let us also examine the way we respond to these triggers. Our response reveals a lot about the condition of our hearts before God. It takes humility to be honest before God with how we feel about ourselves and our situation, and to surrender everything unto Him.

GRATITUDE!

Christmas parties! From officemates, to friends, neighborhood, community, family reunions, volunteer group, churchmates, discipleship group and a lot more depending on your involvement. There are just so many parties to go to that sometimes, we come to a point that one party becomes “just another activity.” This is the point when I start thanking God for each group and party, and for the fruitful relationships I have this people. But honestly, I’ve had to let go of some parties, especially those with conflict in schedule and location.

Having a thankful heart for all the people and relationships in this season will help us go above feeling overwhelmed with all the parties and events.

EXPENSE! (BOTH TIME AND MONEY)

Celebrating this season means going through many inconveniences – from heavy traffic jam, to crowded malls, to so much things to buy. Most of the time, exchange gifts are set to a range of amount and parties have prescribed outfits or costumes. When budget starts to run low, expense stress also starts. We have to think smart and organize when it comes to spending. Come to think of it, almost everyone is giving away something this season, both time and gifts. Expense is temporary, but the relationships being built through the time spent and appreciation given to people go a long way. When we start to see people as expenses, we should start checking and recalibrating our hearts also. Examine why we have come to this point.

On the other hand, when we start to magnify God’s goodness, kindness and generosity, and fully understand the expense of our forgiveness and redemption, I am sure the sure our hearts response is gratitude and rejoicing. The expenses we have at this time are nothing compared to God’s expense when He sent His Son to us – the Reason why we are supposed to celebrate (and not fret over) this season.

JESUS IS THE REASON

Let us always go back to the reason of the season. It is not the sale going on the malls, nor the presents we give and get, nor the Christmas parties and bazaars we go to. Neither is it about you and me! Christmas season is always about our LORD JESUS CHRIST, nothing more, nothing less.

Whatever stresses and frustrates you, don’t miss out the very reason for the season, our Lord Jesus. The greatest gift we can have for ourselves is accepting Jesus in our hearts as Lord and Savior.

The greatest gift we can also give to our friends, colleagues, and families, is letting them know the saving knowledge of receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, trusting in His finished work on the cross for our Salvation and forgiveness of our sins. He has accomplished what we can never accomplish on our own and that is more than enough to keep us rejoicing and celebrating this season.

Have a joyful, stress-free and merry Christmas!

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Know the condition of your flock.

How do we lead the people entrusted to us?  How do we work with them? As leaders, what should be our posture towards our team?  What guiding principles can work on a general img_8332setting? As of writing, I am reading a new book entitled, “The Way of the Shepherd”,  7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People by Dr. Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak.

The first chapter tackles the principle: “Know the condition of your flock.

As leaders, managers, and overseers we can be preoccupied with the work but not with the workers. Yes, we need to get things done, but we should be reminded as well that people are tired of being treated like a number. They don’t want to be treated just as employees or volunteer but as individuals. It is our people who get things done. Our people is our greatest advantage.

And this will mean:

  • Follow-up the status of your people as well as the status of the work.
  • Getting to know them one at a time,  their goals and dreams, motivations, career ambitions and frustrations, intentionally knowing what impacts them at the moment.
  • Engaging them through the regular basis. This happens when we go out of our comfort zones and getting along with them, keeping eyes and ears open and asking plenty of questions.
  • The most important is this – following them through, it means keeping up with them with what’s going on in their lives.

Above all else, this should come from a heart that really cares for people. Whether they are full time staff or committed volunteers, knowing the condition of your flocks matters.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

This chapter reminds me so much of Proverbs 27:23.

“Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds”

Leaders won’t be able to manage what they don’t know.

Reflection questions:

  1. What is the posture of my heart towards the people I lead?
  2. Do I compromise my people for the sake of the work?
  3. Am I intentionally getting to know them and going out of my way?
  4. Am I listening to them?
  5. Am I asking enough questions?
  6. Am I keeping up with what’s going on in their lives?
  7. Is my motivation really to care for them?

As we try to reflect and answer these questions, we need the grace of the Lord Jesus to be the leader He wants us to be. We need Him to change our hearts. We need Him to overflow in our hearts so that we can genuinely love and care for the people – His people.

Gratefully offended daily

Offense is one of  life’s inescapable reality, whether  we like it or not it will come our way. We all had our taste of offense whether we may be the cause or the receiving end. But how can I be grateful when the offense happens daily? How do you handle it? or take it?

As I was reading and reflecting on the lines of Isaiah 59:22

“but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

These lines speaks so powerfully of what separates me from my creator, SIN, that causes me to be independent from God. This reminded me that deep in my core, I am truly a sinner and nothing of it deserves God’s goodness and grace. That, by faith alone in Jesus and His finish work, we can only be save and nothing else. That we can have rich and have satisfying life. That forgiveness is made available and true freedom can be attained at the cross. That is the gospel!

Daily, I need to seek God, pray and read the bible and remind myself that only Jesus can save me, nor ultimately satisfy and give me fulfilment. My good works have no value, but only the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. My great representative in fulfilling the law that I can never fulfill. This is where the daily offense happen.

The truth is the gospel is offensive because..

  1.  It tells us we are not capable of saving ourselves.
  2.  It tells us that we need a Savior, more capable and powerful than us.
  3.  It tells us that we are foolish like a sheep that needs a shepherd.
  4.  It tell us that on our own, we will never amount to anything.
  5.  It tells us that human intellect is limited.

and a lot more reasons to be offended.

And yet I chose to embrace all this everyday. The truth is God’s truth is offensive. Our response is either humility and embrace Jesus in our life or be led away by pride, independence and arrogance.

God’s truth is offensive yet worth embracing and worth rejoicing. We will never know how wonderful the good news is unless we fully understand how really awful the bad news is. We need a Savior in the name of Jesus Christ.

For that I am truly grateful to the core. And I don’t know with you, with what you choose. But I pray that you may consider the truth and respond in humility, acknowledging that salvation, freedom and joy can only come from Jesus Christ.

“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.” – Tim Keller

 

Belief governs actions

I’m currently re-reading one of the old books I’ve been keeping, titled, “The case against Christ.”by John Young. On this blog I will share a portion on the questions about the church in the hope to help and encourage our next generation leaders be equipped and be in love with reading.

Until now I still hear this statement:

“It doesn’t matter what you believe provided you live a good life. Sincerity counts more than anything else. Is it what you do that matters, not what your believe.”

Statement like this are common when people discuss religion. The trouble is they oversimplify, for beliefs and actions are tied up together.

  • If you believe that gods are pleased by human sacrifice, then it is  tough on your children.
  • If your witch doctor believe that a hole bored in your head will cure headaches, it is tough on you.
  • If the terrorist who hijacks your plane sincerely believes in this cause,  you are in for a rough time.

In our present context:

  • If people believe that due process is not important, then we are all in danger of being executed anytime, anywhere.
  • If a social media user sincerely believes in bashing against all those who goes against political beliefs in a way of shutting up people from sharing their voice and honest opinions, then, our freedom of expression is suppressed.

Belief brings a great impact to our actions.

We are right to value sincerity, but false beliefs – even sincerely held false beliefs- can be disastrous. Indeed the more sincerely your “doctor” is about boring a hole in your head, the worse it will be. And the most sincere terrorist is the most dangerous of all.

Belief governs actions.

  • Why was the nazis cause such havoc in Europe? it was because they believed that the German people were a super race, with a destiny to rule the world.
  • Why did the american government cause such suffering by dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945? this was because they believed that this would shorten the war ( or that it would impress the Russians, depending on your view of history).

This connection between faith and action applies to everything. It is what a person believes that makes him or her an atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Christian or a Communist or a terrorist. Our beliefs are vitally important.

Changed life| Christiane Bulawan

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I found joy and fulfilment in having same sex relationship and immorality. I didn’t care what people would say. I was happy with myself and my choices even if I was being bullied and being taken advantage of.  All I cared was finding love and being loved specially by handsome good looking men.

But then the love and care that I was looking for was not enough. There was deep loneliness and emptiness that I could not explain. I thought I was living the life as it should be then I found myself in search for the real meaning and purpose of my being.

I rejected the idea of  attending Youth Service in Victory Ortigas where I was invited. I came once and thought I already knew God and that was enough. I was constantly being invited and I would always make my academic busyness as an excuse.

After a year, I invited myself and showed up in the Youth Service. While I was standing up during the worship time I felt the presence of the Lord for the first time. I felt complete, cared and forgiven. After the service, a campus missionary approached me and connected me to a Victory Group and to a person who led me to grow more in my relationship with God. I did not hesitate, for deep within I wanted a change in my life.

It was during the one 2 one discipleship I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My  desires for flesh was still there and so were my struggles. As I continued my journey for my personal relationship with Jesus, slowly I found myself turning away from my old ways and God gave me new desires in my heart that honor Him.  

Cristiane in the middle after his water baptism.

 I finally found the love that I was looking for. Truly, only God can satisfy the deepest desires of my heart and I am grateful that He replaced those ungodly desires and continues to replace it with what pleases Him. His love is so compelling that I started to share the Gospel to my schoolmates and even to those who bullied me.  The same Gospel that transformed me is the same Gospel that I am sharing to them; the message that brings salvation, hope and forgiveness that can be found in Jesus Christ. Indeed, the change has come in my life and it can happen to anyone!”

– Christiane Bulawan; changed by the love of Christ!

Christiane is now one of our Youth leaders in Arellano University – Pasig. Recently, he made a post on facebook status.
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“I don’t want to be called ‘sis’, ‘gay’ or  ‘bhesty’. Because that is not the identity God gave me. I want to be called ‘bro’ or by my real name. The old has gone, the new has come.” – Cristiane Bulawan

ONE CONFERENCE 2016

Every Nation Campus Philippines held an event called ONE Conference last July 30, 2016 at PhilSports Area. 5,500 student leaders representing various campuses in Metro Manila participated.

Why ONE Conference?  We are one team, one campus ministry, under one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And together we are one in bringing the gospel in the campuses and communities. 

Here is a short recap video of ONE Conference.

Campus 101 by Ptr. Jon Dolor

Great notes by Zam Urbano a the school of Campus Ministry.

Campus Ministry 101 – Notes from Ptr. Jon Dolor in the School of Campus Ministry

Security
– we are called to DO ministry not make it grow.
– we are called to DO ministry and He’ll make it grow.
1 Cor. 3:7
– God doesn’t measure our numbers, He measures our faithfulness

– a title/position can never give security like identity in God can.
Rom. 8:15

Vision
– If a vision is from God, it’s always too big for us to achieve apart from God.

Is your vision for your campus ministry too big enough to achieve?

Volunteerism
– you don’t volunteer to something you OWN.
– when you allow your volunteers to OWN the ministry, you empower them raising volunteerism to the next level.

Discipleship
– The next generation is always an endangered species.

We are intentional in raising and developing young leaders.

– Events attract crowds but events…

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Mobile Apps | Youth Leader Starter Pack

As our Youth leaders’ are excited to go back to school, they are also excited to have their allowance back. But at the same time they are also excited to fulfill the Great Commission. What is the most basic app that would help them in their mission of changing the campus and changing the world?

1. The God Test 

Because evangelism is a lifestyle, doing the God test is a great tool to help you engage your schoolmates. Start the conversation about God and join the global survey. The God Test App is both available for android and IOS users.

The God Test App

If you want to know how to do the God test, you can visit http://www.thegodtest.org, which has video guide on how to use it or you may approach your Every Nation Campus coach.

 
2. One 2 one Discipleship App

This app is designed to help you walk in faith those made the decision to accept Jesus as Lord and saviour.

one2one

Helpful features:

  1. 121 Discipleship Journey tracker ( helpful in tracker which chapter you last shared to your classmate.
  2. Different 121 Language versions (includes English, Tagalog, and other foreign languages).

 

3. Bible app

Never go without this app, although you may be using the printed version when at home, this apps comes handy and on the go. Sometimes we are on the morning rush and don’t the time to read and reflect upon waking up, whether you are on the jeep or bus. You can still have the time to savour God’s words on the go.

There are so many app versions out there, I am using YOU version and bible.is. Both provides an option for audio, as the bible say’s faith comes from hearing the message.

 

4. Dictionary

This app is helpful not just in our academics, but even in understanding God’s word. As leaders we value understanding and clearly defined words.

dictionary

 

5. Podcast

Victory App provides you podcast from your Victory Pastor preaching and sermon base materials. If ever you miss the preaching or want  to hear other preachers. This app is both available in android and IOS mobile phones.

victory app

Another app on IOS is the podcast.

podcast

 

Relationships | Why dispose? 

On my previous blog, I wrote about relationships and how they aren’t disposable.  I shared about how my friends and I overcame the challenges and how to stand firm in saying “no” to disposable relationships. These are the friends I found in church who are truly for keeps. They have been a blessing and indeed, as described in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  That is why I truly value them. 

Now, let’s talk about the people who we allow to influence us . Among the key relationships within our circles, Identify among them who you need to move to your outer circle of influence or totally disconnect with, due to it’s unhealthy influence in us. The Bible warns us about that in 1 corinthians 15:33, It says;

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Let me share with you other versions to help us better understand it.

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Spot on these quote…

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People who we choose  as friends are the people who we allow to have influence in our lives. The bible says in Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

We need friends that point us back to God in whatever situations, Who are  honest and sincere to point out our shortcoming, mistake and sin and walk with us in our faith and vision in in life. However we do not completely dispose those who we feel that brings us aways from God’s purpose,but leave enough space to keep the line open for us to share the gospel and minister to, and even have them in our prayers.

Here are a few questions to ponder on our current relationship that we allow to influence us most?

  1.  Are my friends empowering me to live a Godly life?
  2. Are my friends pushing me to go deeper in my intimacy with God?
  3. Are my friends building up my character and faith in God?
  4. Are my friends tolerating me in my worldly and ungodly ways?
  5. Do they speak the truth? and choose not to please me?

We need Godly men and women in our lives, that will help us grow deeper in our faith and relationship with Jesus. People whom we keep close to our hearts that remind of faith, vision and direction in life. People who stand along with us in our journeys and battles.

 

Relationship | Is It Disposable? 

Dispose the disposables! I was laughing out loud upon hearing these words from a friend during an evening of coffee and catching up. We weren’t talking about some used styro cup or trash. We were talking about those people who’s been missing out on our hangouts for various reasons. They have been my good friends for about 9 years now.  Would I dispose good friends just because of a bad incident, disappointments, or change in belief?

Definitely not! No matter what comes our the way–offenses and hurts, misunderstandings, or betrayals–we will not allow ourselves to become a victim of frustrations, bitterness and unforgiveness. Our hashtag has always been #NoToDisposableRelationships.  The journey to this friendship has not been easy and has been and is filled with challenges. Some choose to walk away, some choose to stay despite offense and hurts.

To say NO TO DISPOSABLE RELATIONSHIPS, we had to:

  • Swallow our pride and humble ourselves
  • Forgive and let God do the work
  • Acknowledge our mistakes and say sorry
  • Stand for God’s truth and set aside our personal emotions
  • Accept and love people for who they are, as God accepts and loves them.
  • Be truthful always.

All these has brought us to greater maturity and deeper friendship. Through thick and thin, my friends are my chosen family. Personally I have been frustrated, disappointed, and corrected. But I’m glad it happened, because it developed me to be a better person and taught me how to handle relationships with the opposite sex.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.                                  – Proverbs 17:17 NIV

Let love be the only reason and motive in all things that you do, and be reminded of how God loved you first, never letting you go and never disposing you.

But here reason why you may consider disposing:  Relationships | Why dispose?