IDENTIFYING PASSION KILLERS

While preparing for the message for the Youth Service, my good friend and fellow campus missionary, Roel Layug shared to me about passion killers among the youth in the church. What are passion killers? These are things that rob our enthusiasm and zeal for our faith and relationship with Jesus.

  1. Ungodly relationships : Relationships that lead us away from our intimacy with God, causing us to sin and disobey God’s will. Godly relationships help us to value more our relationship with God and pushes us to honor Him and walk an ever increasing path of obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Mike (not his real name), a student, came to know Jesus at our campus ministry. Realizing what Jesus did for him, he left his ungodly relationship with his girlfriend, pursued his relationship with Jesus, and is now one of our fruitful leaders – sharing the gospel in his campus and leading fellow students to Christ.
  2. Unbelief : This comes from a heart that is not sold out to God, who He is, His ability, His promises, His unfailing Love, His forgiveness, His redemption, and His sovereignty. When challenges come, our unbelief can cause us to be overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, and insecurity. The only way to counter unbelief is to move in faith in God’s words and promises. When in doubt that God will provide, believe that everything comes from Him. When sickness strikes, believe God’s word for healing. When relationships are broken and dysfunctional, move in faith that God is able to change hearts and minds. When faced with uncertainties, hang on to God’s promises. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of God will last forever. Even in the midst of unbelief, God remains to be faithful and loving. Unbelief hinders us from fully receiving God’s promises and breakthroughs. The only way to counter unbelief is to hold on to God’s word, and that can happen when we commit to do our part of knowing God through the Bible, prayer and devotion, and a community of believers.
  3. Voices we listen to – Nowadays, social media, society and peers makes huge influence in our youth; they set the trends of what is in or out, what is cool and what is out-of-the-date; and most of the time, these are the voices our youth listens to. First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character”. It is true that whoever we listen to or who we are with most of the time, influences us, whether big or small. I’m not saying that we must not be with them, actually we must be with them, like what Paul did, but we need to filter the things that is according to God’s word and that are not – this can happen if we soak and meditate in His Word. Ultimately the only voice we need to listen is the voice of God. To hear God we need to create that quiet environment for us to hear Him speak. When we know God’s voice we easily discern other voices that are not from God. God’s voice is redemptive, regardless of our failures, shortcomings and sins. The voice of God is distinctive, it loves you but it leaves you unchanged, accepts you, affirms you, comforts you, and secures you. What matters most is the voice of God than the opinion of men.

Every time I meet with young people and hear of their challenges, I ask these questions, What is God telling you? How is your quite time and daily bible reading? What is/are God’s word regarding the matter.  As they faithfully seek God and keep the spiritual disciplines, our young people will remain passionate for God and the gospel.

I’m thankful to my fellow campus missionaries in Ortigas for sharing their insights about this topic.

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Motives 2017 | Heart to serve 

This was the main call for my fellow missionaries and I during our first meeting for the year. Realizing how excited we are to carry out our tasks and victoriously overcome the challenges in our responsibilities in the campuses and in the church (and of course to achieve our respective personal goals), it is also equally important that we reflect on what our hearts truly desire for this year. Why does our service matter? And, what is the heart behind our service?

No matter how good our actions are, at the end of the day, motivation matters. Our heart before God is of UTMOST importance− more than our actions and their results. The Bible says,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

In these verses, we are reminded to serve, not to promote our own interest and reputation, but to serve the interests of others. Whether you consider yourself a leader or not, we are reminded to serve GOD and not man. How can I serve God by serving my teammates and leaders more? How can I be a blessing to God by being a blessing to my campus, my community, and my family?

If we find our hearts gearing towards focusing on our own interests and what we will gain in exchange of our “service” to God and others, it would not hurt to take a few steps back, to rethink and recalibrate our hearts with this Scripture and with Jesus. By overcoming pride  and honestly assessing the motives behind our services, we become more like Jesus, our ultimate example of humility and genuine service. As we have more and more of Jesus in us, there becomes less and less of us each day as we continue to serve. Again our motives matters most to God than our actions.

For Christians, may we always be reminded to imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to serve the way he did – selflessly.

Rejoicing amid brokeness

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, Where most  families gather together and having a meaningful celebration, the birth of the savior. It’s the time of the year we look forward to be re-united with our loved ones and spend dinner together.

But what if this Christmas, you are home alone or far from family and loved ones? What if a family member has passed away and you don’t feel celebrating Christmas. What if because of irreconcilable difference with loved ones makes it impossible to be together? What if you found out some one in you love is dying out o cancer or going through legal battles?

Whatever it may be, the Bible is very clear :

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice. – Philippians 4:4   

God is good even when circumstances is bad. No matter how bad things are around, we can always rejoice.

The birth of Jesus Christ is the only happening that can bring greater joy. He came for the forgiveness of our sins, the hope of our salvation. In him we have redemption and freedom. In him we have peace. He is the testimony of God’s mercy and goodness to us.

In Jesus Christ I have found the  very reason to rejoice, the comfort and strength. His love and goodness is so overwhelming, I can’t help but rejoice and be filled with gratitude. This is the invitation of Jesus for each and everyone.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior. – Habakkuk 3:18

If you only rejoice when you feel like it, and circumstances warrants it, you will never rejoice much and you will miss a lot of joy. For when you rejoice in the Lord and focus on Him, joy begins to flow out of your inner being and strengthens you.The Joy that is more than having peace and security, unstoppable in all circumstance, that is incomparable in all things, that can only be found on Jesus.

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.

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?

 

 

It is never enough to hold our tongues


As I read “Wisdom and Declarations” written by my good friend Caleb Galaraga, it reminded me of the good people who have encouraged me & spoke powerful declarations in my life that helped me become a better person. However, it also reminded me of the devastating words said to me that had a negative impact in my life as well as the things that I’ve said that brought more damage than encouragement. The bible says that the tongue has the power of life and death. In his book, Caleb encourages us to live a life committed to choose to speak life. It means speaking words that build people up, intentionally encouraging others, and choosing your words wisely, no matter what situation or circumstance we are in.

I remember those times when I was sleepless, pressured, and frustrated while running the university week activities with the student council officers and volunteers. At the main hall, I vented my anger on someone in public with a scandalous yelling and reprimand.  That forever changed my relationship with a fellow student and officer at the student council. A great wall was created in defense to me. I have repented and apologized so many times, I tried to restore the friendship and working relationship that affected me and the entire student organization I was in. There was no excuse for my behavior. What has been said cannot be taken back.

 
About a year ago, my friends and I attended a wedding. One of my friends who went to that event at that time was an atheist. There was a time in the event wherein we had the opportunity to hang out with a pastor along with his wife, during the hangout conversation, the hurting experiences he had in the past from church leaders resurfaced. It was a powerful moment when the pastor listened to him and sincerely apologized in behalf of the leaders. We all felt that forgiveness has been release, healing and restoration took place. After that I have never heard him utter words of hate or anger towards the church.( as far as I know)  Our ability to humbly ask for forgiveness brings people whom we have hurt to the healing and restoration process.

To most of us who have uttered damaging and not so encouraging words, when we learn our mistakes, it is never enough to hold our tongues and say we will never do it again. I like what Caleb said in his e-book, “choose to commit to a life that speaks life, regardless who we speak to, regardless of their past and their mistakes, regardless of circumstances and situations”. The words we speak brings good or bad results.

 
I highly recommend the e-book to everyone and also for group study and discussions. Caleb’s e-book “Wisdom and Declaration” is free for download, click the link below and it will direct you to the download site.

Click here : http://calebgalaraga.com/book/

 

 

Social Media | Optimizing influence 

Life is precious that in our lifetime, we are gifted with influence and one of the avenues of our influence is on social media. In social media alone, over 32% of the total Philippine population in 2015 are involved and most of them are on Facebook.


With that in mind, whatever we communicate in our social media platforms (Facebook, tweeter, Instagram and etc.) brings a certain degree of influence and bearing. Come to think of it, How are we going to effectively use our social media platforms? How are we going to make a difference through these things ? Here are some principles we can consider in making greater impact in your social media sites:

1. Identify your values

What we post intentionally or unintentionally may communicate or miscommunicate what you value. Identifying what we value helps us have a clear judgement on what we consistently pound to the public.

Let the people know what is valuable, so innate in you and close to your heart and share them to the world.

2. Personal Mission Statement 

Once you have identified your core values, now, comes your sense of purpose that enables you to a have missional life, so what’s your personal mission statement? If you haven’t have one, now is the best time to reflect, whether it may be for this season or longterm.

Be missional and be intentional, whether it may be inspiring others through photos and encouraging and uplifting others through words. What’s your advocacy? Where do you think God is placing your purpose in the puzzle of a global picture?

3. Communicate consistently what you value. 

There is power in consistency, If you’re a person who aspires to bring encouragement to people through social media or whatever endeavor it may be, then, consistently communicates it. Over-communicating the same message in different ways enables readers and followers to actually grasp deeply what you want to say. Make it to a point that they would eagerly look forward for your next post.

4. Filter what you post.

Embracing what you value will be your ultimate guide in filtering your messages. Filtering is necessary to check whether what we are about to communicate is align to our values.

I had my share of irresponsible postings that completely miscommunicated in million ways just by a single picture or a sentence.

In my journey towards living a life with purpose, and reaching the next generation. God showed me that I am a steward of my social media influence as well. To bring the same message of Hope that He gives me, share his faithfulness and plant the seed of his power through the readers and social media followers.

Honoring Leaders | Lynn Nawata

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Today, I want to honor and give thanks to one of the people who made an impact to my life and perhaps, to many more, Ms. Lynn Nawata. She served as the Real Life Foundation Director for the past 8 years. REAL LIFE FOUNDATION is a scholarship program that helps the deserving underprivileged youth to finish college degree for a better future.

As she journeys to the next season of her career, it brings both sadness and joy. But joyful for her as she continues to faithfully serve God to where she is called.

Ms. Lyn, your compassion for helping the poor is so contagious. Everytime we would hear you speak about helping others, it never fails to move people for it has always come to us in a voice of a woman filled with so much passion.

Ms. Lyn, one of the things I will never forget is the line “What is your sobrang happy thought?” Thank you for the #SobrangHappyThoughts. This line always reminds me to recall God’s goodness and faithfulness in my life. When things are rough and difficult, recalling this line puts me back to a heart of gratitude and makes me appreciate every small detail of God’s loving grace , provision and gift of life.

I like what Pastor Steve Murell said during the Metro Manila Staff Meeting that for most of the Real Life scholars and for us alumni you are a “Nanay” (mom). Thank you for the impact you made into the lives of many.

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You bring sobrang happy thoughts into our hearts and we are excited as you bring crossroads to more people across Asia and the world. As you have touched our hearts, surely, you will touch thousands more around the globe.