Thursday, July 9, 2009

How should a Christian respond to government failures and anomalies?

Recent happenings in the Philippines are not very encouraging.

It's difficult to trust government these days but I will continue to pray for government ( 1 Timothy 2:1-2) and submit to authority (1 Peter 2:13-14).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

Can you describe your relationship with God by sincerely saying, "I love you with all my heart?"
We could say we obey Him, we serve Him, we worship Him and we fear Him. But we cannot say that we love Him.
Do you really want to love the Lord your God with all your heart? He will allow no comparison. He says:

You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matt. 6:24

I love Rhea F. Miller's expression of love for Jesus in the hymn she wrote.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Reflect on the meaning of the words. If you could only have one or the other, which would you honestly choose?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God's love sustains us through difficult times

Have you really felt God's love?

For a long time as a Christian, the phrase "love of God" for me was just an idea and a theological concept. From the moment I heard my first Bible story, I was told that God loves me and I had no trouble believing that because I could feel it from my parents and other people around me. But I could not remember that I really experienced it as a warm physical affection from God Himself. It may be wishful thinking to really expect a hug from Him for God shows His love for us through His creations. But everything changed when I came to understand the cross.

John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 3:16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

1 John 4:9-10 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Everytime I start to doubt and question His love, I just look at the cross. In the cross, all my doubts and questions are answered. The death of Jesus-Christ and His resurrection are God's final, total, and complete expression He loves us. Some may have trouble believing that because they could not experience it from the people around them. But if you have accepted Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord, and everyone else turns against you, be assured that God's love has not and will never change. Look at the cross where He has proven it. And that love will sustain us through difficult times.

Romans 8:35, 37, 38, 39
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our success in the ministry will not exceed our dependence on God

As a young pastor, I can't help to think of ways to grow His church in our area. I read several books and articles looking for "best practices" we can employ in our church to be more effective. I "interact" with successful pastors online, trying to learn their secrets. I listen to podcasts. Certainly I learned so much from them. But with all those strategies I have learned from them, I feel worry and pressure. I am afraid I might fail. I know in my hearts of hearts that strategies and ideas are not really what is essential.

The other night, as I was having my time alone with God, I asked Him what it really takes to be His faithful servant. A thought just came to me. All men and women who were used by God were people who were totally dependent on Him. Their exploits were not because of their own abilities and strength but by God's power working in and through them. Even as they were experiencing victories and success, when they would start working on their own, they would be brought down.

I believe that should be the same for us now. The moment we take our eyes off Him, and start to believe that our ideas and efforts are what will make things happen, we are in big trouble. We should always rely on His Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us. "Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit," says the Lord.

My success in the ministry will not exceed my dependence on God. My dependence on Him is determined by my devotion to a love relationship with God. This is manifested in my obedience to His commands, my prayers, in my time spent in His words, and in fellowship with other believers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

First Membership Class - March 8, 2009

We had our first session in our membership module that will run until April 19, 2009. On that Lord's Day, that is also our 13th church anniversary, as a congregation we will sign a Membership Covenant together. This is the first time we are doing this in our church. Not many churches in our area require their members to sign a covenant. Churches and attenders have this habit of "assuming membership", that when somebody has been attending church services regularly, they are assumed to be members already. I think that is one of the many reasons why there are so many Christians not actively involved in their local churches. Because when they joined the church, there were no expectations, responsibilities, and priveleges. Some of them even don't know what their churches believe in. They think it's all the same, so when they have the slightest reason to leave that church, they can hop to another so easily.

I hope this step that we are doing as a church will be used by God to strengthen His people. Ironically, during this first session, attendance is cut almost to half. That is something I have to be thinking for a good one week.

Sunday Service March 8, 2009

At 9 AM as people are coming in, we have time for thanksgiving. We usually encourage people to tell the congregation of answered prayers and victories. But this morning is different. I asked them to tell us their failed expectations, and seemingly unanswered prayers. I thought it would be uncomfortable for them to do it. But I was surprised how they could readily speak of their frustrations yet thank God for allowing them to happen. Some of them took it as an opportunity to release the pain kept inside for a longer time, and turned it into a learning experience. It was not emotional. The smile was surprising though. I was not necessarily that that they thanked God for the pain, but they were grateful for the change it brought about in their lives.

As a young pastor, I have also my frustrations and failed expectations. I am not the poster boy for 1 Thessalonians 5:17, but I thank God that this morning of the Lord's day, our members taught me to thank Him for everything.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday Service September 21, 2008

We had our highest attendance of 71 this Sunday since coming to this church family. While we try to figure out the reason for this relatively fast growth, we acknowledge that it is primarily the work of God through the Holy Spirit.

It is also worth noting the balance of our attendance. We had 26 adults, 28 children, and 17 young people. It has been our mission to bring the families in our community to the family of God. Basically that would include the parents, specially the fathers. We believe that when the father is a Christian, he could greatly influence the other members of the family.

As one of the pastors of the church, I never tire of lifting up our members to God in prayer. I don't follow a list in my prayers but what I do is I try to remember those in the front row going to the rear. A church in that size, it is still possible to remember their names and where they are sitting that Sunday. Sooner I will not be able to pray this way, but I believe there will be more people praying for others by that time.

Just for the practical things we do in our church, let me enumerate some.

At the start of every service, we read the Bible together as a church. We assign three verses for each, including the children. We read two chapters from the books we are reading in series. We are done with Ephesians and Philippians and we are going to read Colossians this coming Sunday. We are upholding the authority of God's Word in our lives and at the same time training our members to make Bible reading a part of their lives.

We also give time for corporate prayer before the end of the service. We ask for prayer requests and inform people of answered prayers every time. We have emphasized the importance of prayer in our existence as a church.

In lieu of the usual Sunday school, we break into small groups after the sermon to discuss how we could apply the truth and principles we have just heard from the sermon. I think this one is really a defining part of the way we do church. Most of the churches are unable to help their members find opportunities to apply God's Word in their daily lives. It doesn't matter how skillful the sermon is; what matters is the impact it makes in the life of the Christian. A changed life is always the goal of every sermon. A life redirected, inspired, and empowered to serve God and glorify Him is what defines the things we do in the church.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“…Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:…”

I am feeling a little confused these days. I don't know if you have tried working in a secular job, but I think I am in where it's getting nearer and nearer to a place where I have to choose between full-time ministry and my job. And I know I am going to choose ministry. At least I have a much clearer vision now that God wants me in the ministry. (When I was 15 I made a commitment to become a pastor, but I took a different route. Now I am 29, I think I never really succeeded in this career at least to my expectations.) After 14 years, I am involved in His work as a pastor while working on my Bible degree. I think that is not a coincidence.

What is really bothering me is the timing. I know eventually I will resign from work. To be honest, working in the business world is not exciting anymore like it used to be. I have learned a lot in my work from giving trainings, which is my main job, to events organizing, marketing and more, and I am dying to use those skills in the Church.

I happened to read Phil 1, “…Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two:…”

I think for now I’ll just take Paul’s advice: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. I think this is how Paul also lived his life, conscious of the reality that anything could happen, gave his whole heart to whatever he finds to do. I will just give my best shot in whatever I do, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord.”

Friday, September 5, 2008


"Maturity is the length of time you can wait to be recognized for any accomplishment."

When I started in my current job (not the pastoral but the secular job as company trainer), every now and then I would be praised fro every accomplishment. I would be motivated to work harder because of the recognition I am was getting. After sometime, my work is no longer an avenue for applause and recognition. It is not that I am no longer performing. In fact, I am confident that I am better, more equipped and more effective than ever.

I think it is a natural point in one's career that recognition and praises are things in the past. We should get past the stage where we draw our motivation from people's approval. Naturally, we are being required to grow into a certain degree of maturity to not even expect for compliments. I have realized that my effectiveness in work is not determined by compliments but by the impact it makes in creating positive change in others and in the organization.

My motivation is no longer to "win their favor when their eyes is in (me)," but "doing the will of God from (my) heart" and to "serve wholeheartedly, as if (I) were serving the Lord, not men, because (I) know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does..." (Ephesians 6:6-8)

The rewards may not be immediate, but the longer I can wait, the more my maturity.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday Service August 31, 2008

Yesterday we had a record attendance of 54. We are praying to reach at least 60 regular attendance at the end of the year. I think it's good number considering that at the start of the year there were barely 20.
We praise Him for His work in this church. Clearly it is God's power in display. We couldn't have done it on our own.
Admittedly, the pastors in this church are not the most gifted pastors around. We are virtually neophyte except for the 12 years of pastoral experience of my father. But this is his first pastorate after more than a decade of being away from the ministry. I am just in my first year of my theological studies. Kuya Joel, the other pastor has no "formal" Bible training. What we have is our hearts committed to Jesus. We have the Passion for God, and Compassion for People.

We don't worry about what we don't have and what we don't know. We just try to be faithful with what we have and what we know. We just allowed God so much room to work in. We consider ourselves as partners, with God as our Chairman, President, CEO and General Manager. When you do that, you could never go wrong.