Posted by Joseph on May 21, 2012 in Thoughts | 2 comments
You do realize that the way you just read that title could be a giveaway to your age range and your childhood influences, right?
As a child, my wife said she liked Egon. She says this prepared her for her life with me. What?
Anyway, I had an interesting set of two phone calls this evening. The first was with Paolo Punzalan, a pastor at our church and good family friend. I had a couple of particularly sticky discipleship and counseling situations that I needed advice on. I’ve been in ministry for a while, but these were things I knew nothing about. Paolo had great insight as usual and I know I’m ready to proceed in the right direction for the benefit of the people concerned.
The second call was with Dennis Sy, also a good friend and pastor. We talked about similar experiences we’d had recently and he gave me advice on how to handle it. After hanging up, I felt so encouraged to just have been able to talk with someone about this and to know that it was going well.
As I sat with my wife, watching her have dinner just half an hour ago, I thought about so many people who I’ve received wisdom. encouragement, and counsel from through the years. There’s Tito Butch, a 66 year old man, who I go to for marriage, leadership, organizational, and writing questions. He always has a way of giving practical and sound counsel. I enjoy the way he laughs at my problems sometimes and assures me, “Wala pa yon, no. Wait till you get to my age.”
A seemingly unlikely, but very wise source is Pin Antonio, the famous hairdresser. I’ve engaged her in several conversations on leadership, building teams, and training staff. Her success in developing new leaders in her field and launching their careers encourages me to imitate her diligence and generosity.
Early last week, I was on a phone call with Randel Tiongson, the financial adviser. He’d just come back from a trip to Beijing, but he was eager enough to be of service. In 15 minutes he answered some really knotty issues that my wife and I had been arguing about.
Couples fighting about money? Who ever heard of such a thing?
I guess what I’m saying is, every one of us need people like that in our life. People who we have built relationships with so we can go for advice when we need it. No one’s got a monopoly on wisdom and even the most astute person has blind spots. But with many people around us, we can figure out the best path.
I’m not talking about blindly following someone else just because they said so. That’s a not-so-shrewd way of ducking the responsibility. “It wasn’t my fault. He told me to.” But getting advice from people then deciding the best option for ourselves is what I’m saying here. How do you know you’re getting quality stuff? Well, judge the results. Is their advice leading to good or harm? Are you better or worse of for listening to them? Find the right ones and invest on those relationships.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
Posted by Joseph on May 21, 2012 in Thoughts | 491 comments
Some clarifications to start:
I’m not saying it’s wrong to protest her. I’m just relating why I’m not doing that.
I don’t think it’s a harmless concert either. I’m aware of much of the message of her music and life and I don’t think it’s eternally beneficial.
I am not talking about parents who don’t allow their children to watch it. God has given parents the authority to raise their children. As far as I’m concerned, if you eat their food, drink their water, use their internet, order their maids around, then they get to call the shots. If you don’t want that life, go live on your own and make your own rules. (Honestly, there are tons of less privileged people who would love that kind of life.)
I’m only talking about protesting the upcoming concert and why I’m not doing that.
How dare you not pander to my every whim! What gives you the right, aside from you clothe me, feed me, shelter me, and provide for my education?!
1. It’s after the fact.
I don’t buy this talk of Lady Gaga’s concert bringing a tide of filth and sin into our country. First of all, it’s not like the songs and their messages haven’t made it here already. So that’s not the concert alone. Secondly, our country is plenty sinful on its own without her concert. Is the concert really going to cause people to morph into rampant sinners?
Here’s a question: Is Lady Gaga’s popularity causing people to live a certain way? Or is she popular because people are already living a certain way? In other words, her music has an audience partially because it hits the core sinfulness of people who want to reject God and His Kingdom. (Some people just like the sound of repeating syllables.) A concert didn’t cause that, and stopping a concert won’t fix it. We need something else.
2. It’s inconsistent.
Does Lady Gaga’s music contain elements that do not honor God the way He must be honored? Yes. Definitely. But then again, what doesn’t? Why are we protesting this concert in particular?
Did we protest Katy Perry when she kissed a girl and liked it? Did we protest Beyonce with her music and movements? Were the Black Eyed Peas paragons of virtue? Why didn’t they draw this much flak?
For that matter, where were these protests when the Spice Girls came and sang Two Become One? (Or did we think that was within the confines of marriage? Heads up, the Backstreet Boys are coming in June to tell people to Get Down.) And what about Frank Sinatra who insists “I Did It My Way?” Are we gonna strike that off our list too?
We’re using a standard that’s different from God’s Word, the Bible, if we act inconsistently like this. It’s like there are “okay” sins and there are “protest-worthy” sins. Where do we draw the line?
Too often, we draw the line where it doesn’t exclude us. But anyone different from us, anyone who makes us uncomfortable, anyone who is “obviously a sinner,” those people have to be outside the line.
Where do we draw the line? And whose call is it?
People notice this double standard too. The mayor of Pasay said he’d allow the concert to continue, but he asked her to refrain from anything blasphemous or morally offensive. Someone commented on the internet asking what about all of the motels and prostitution that proliferate the area. And why stop at sex? What about corruption, laziness, etc.? That’s sin too, right?
How can we honestly condemn one act of sin while guilty of another ourselves? Once, when Jesus was preaching, people brought a sinful woman before him. Some religious people had tricked her and caught her in the act of adultery. Like any good lynch mob, this was lopsided from the beginning – the man was noticeably absent. Two people were in sin, the man was ignored, and they all condemned her.
Jesus, after writing in the dirt said, “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” In other words, let the ones who have not made any sin at all, be the first to condemn. In doing this, Jesus was not saying what she did was okay. He did correct her later on.
But He was also pointing out that sin is sin, no matter what sin it is. We must be careful what judgment you insist on others, because we bring the axe down on our own necks as well. None of us are sinless, so none of us can condemn each other. After he said this, he started writing on the dirt again, as each of the accusers dropped their case and walked away. He extended his hand to her, said He didn’t condemn her, and told her to sin no more. (You can’t miss that last part.)
no different from you and me
The story shows that while none of the people could condemn her, there is one sinless person though. And that person WILL judge. And that’s Jesus Himself. The Bible says, He will return to judge every action, word, thought, and motive. At the end of our lives, we all will stand before Him and give an account. Lady Gaga will. So will the Pope. So will you. And we would all fail.
But because He loves us, Jesus died the punishment we should have died. He took away the rottenness of all our sin – the sin in Lady Gaga’s music and the sin in your heart when you couldn’t forgive someone – all of it, when He died on the Cross for us. And to those who believe Him, He gives new life. And that’s the only dividing line between who’s in and who’s out. And anyone who believes will be in. Even Lady Gaga.
So here’s what we can do instead – we can make disciples. We can tell people about Jesus, so that they’ll believe. Then we teach them to follow Him so that they’ll do the same. Incidentally, that’s the very thing Jesus told us to keep busy with. (Matthew 28:18-20)
In the words of my friend, Ryan, when asked about what he was doing about the upcoming Lady Gaga concert, “I’m gonna do what we’ve always been doing. Make disciples.”
My wife and I just got back from our short time in Dagupan. It was amazing seeing more than a thousand student leaders gathered from Central and North Luzon worshipping God, hearing His word, and encouraging each other. Here are some of my highlights from the day.
1. Seeing everyone together.
Having trained most the campus missionaries there over the past three and a half years, it was great seeing them all moving in their roles. And boy, it was beautiful to watch. After preaching, I loved walking all over the place and seeing over 50 of our campus staff running around doing their roles – leading worship, overseeing the technical requirements, handling registration, hospitality, or making sure the students got in safely. At different points in the program, our national director, CJ, had different staff leading on stage. Seeing them all move in their gifts and strengths was such a fun thing to watch.
Special mention goes to Pastor Anthony Minguez who’s been in campus ministry for years and ran the entire event, all the while being able to smile and greet people.
different locations, different ages, different backgrounds, same passions
2. Students worshipping God
This was all worth it to see this. I think for every campus missionary, volunteer, or LIFE group leader, the sight of even just one student having a life-changing encounter with God is enough to energize us to get back to work. I just love hearing students worship even if I’m already being deafened by their shouts. There’s just something so right about seeing people at a young age follow Jesus. As they took time to pray for each other, it was exciting to think about what kind of wonders God will do through them this school year.
3. Support from the Senior Leaders
As I got up to preach, one thing that surprised me was seeing all of these senior pastors in attendance. They dressed inconspicuously and sat among the students. Many took notes and during the breaks you could find them supporting in little ways that they could. I was just so encouraged to watch these men and their wives who, amidst their busy schedules, decided that this time with their students and campus missionaries was worth the long drive.
It wasn’t even a political-candidate type of support also. They weren’t loud or showy about it. There weren’t any signs saying, “This convergence is a gift from Pastor Abubakar.” They came to serve quietly, even though I know that for many of them, it meant financial sacrifice. Maybe it’s because they came from campus ministry before also; maybe it’s because they’re passing on what’s been passed to them. Either way, I consider it a privilege to work with humble and powerful leaders like them.
4. Congratulations Victory Dagupan!
Our first church plant outside of Metro Manila is celebrating its 25th year! It promises to be an amazing anniversary, after planting many churches in the nearby regions, training dozens of staff, and touching thousands of lives who are now all over the world. Thank you for being faithful in honoring God and making disciples!
totally worth it
Posted by Joseph on May 18, 2012 in Personal | 2 comments
My wife and I are in Dagupan now for the Regional Convergence of LifeBox for North and Central Luzon. This is a gathering of over a thousand student leaders from this part of the country. I’m really excited for tomorrow, just connecting with these people who I only see twice or three times a year, and seeing these students as well.
But the fun part for me today was just getting here with my wife. We drove from Subic, having come from a family vacation. I love just spending the whole day with this woman. We listened to music – her Caro Emerald, my One Fine Day OST and Phantom of the Opera. I love how we can just get into anything together. Then we listened to an iTunes University class on Bible Interpretation.
And when that got a little boring, we could just talk, about everything – the plot of Phantom of the Opera, the brilliant blog she was about to write, her plans for the future, relationships we thank God for, etc. I am so thankful for this girl; she isn’t just the hottest woman in the world, she’s my best friend. I really don’t have a lesson in this blog (just sharing, lalang), but let me prescribe one of two things: If you aren’t married yet, pick someone who can be your friend.
Along the way we got caught in a powerful thunderstorm. Watching these things from the safety of a building is awesome enough. Being caught in them with the rain coming sideways and the wind rocking your petite car can be a little terrifying. I took the time to teach my wife the rule of thumb of measuring the distance of a lightning bolt. (When you see the flash start counting. The number of seconds between the flash and the thunder divided by 5 is the distance in miles.)
But we couldn’t keep it up as the sound came right on top of lightning bolts. “Um, Sweetheart, that means that the lightning is all around us.” We even got to see a post get hit with sparks flying and everything. The thunderclap was like a concussive force. Cool, in a terrifying way. It made me think about how little in control I really am of the big things in life. I’m just glad I know the One who is in control, and I know I can trust Him.
Anyway, we’re here now and excited for tomorrow. Good night! Hope you get a good rest too.
Last night, I watched How to Train Your Dragon with my family – my dad, mom, David, Joshua, Joshua’s girlfriend, Kristie, and my wife. Well, we watched while some cooked (Carla and I), some baked (Mom and Kristie), some played Kingdom Rush (Joshua and Kristie) and some dozed off (Pop, Dave, and Kristie).
Anyway, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I would highly recommend it. You know this will be worth it because I don’t recommend silly-waste-of-time shows. (I didn’t say I don’t watch them. I just don’t recommend them. Hehe) It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great story with deep father-son dynamics. Here are some thoughts I had afterwards:
1. It is common for generations to have disagreements.
This almost doesn’t need to be pointed out. It’s so common; it’s a typical movie cliché. There are so many comedies of an older guy not getting the younger guy, the misunderstood child, the irritable but well-meaning older person, etc.
While this doesn’t sound positive, this is actually good news. For one, it means that what you’re going through isn’t a unique scenario that only applies to you. There’s no need for the drama that insists you’re the only one going through that pain. (Sorry, Simple Plan) It also means that your kid isn’t necessarily possessed by the devil. He might just be younger. Secondly, if it’s common, it’s also beatable. How do we know? Because many people can work out their generational gap. That means, we can make it work.
Excellently voiced by Gerard Butler the phantom Leonidas
2. Same values don’t always mean same methods.
We might have different ways of doing things, but that doesn’t always mean that we don’t care about the same things. Instead of debating over methods first, let’s establish a point of agreement based on values.
3. New ideas often come from the fringes.
Don’t count people out. The weird, unpopular loser could come up with something everyone will be thankful for. Families accept each other along with our idiosyncrasies. Good organizations build in processes that bring in ideas from the edge.
Are you in touch with the fringes?
4. Words of affirmation from the older generation are so powerful.
Four simple words by the father – “I’m proud of you,” and Hiccup felt like he could do anything. If the older generation knew just how valuable and powerful their encouragement was, they would give it generously. Younger people act like they don’t care, but they really like it.
5. There is an irreplaceable synergy when generations work together.
People often bemoan that it’s a shame that the energy of the young can’t be combined with the wisdom of age and experience. Well, that can’t be done by an individual (except Benjamin Button), but it can be done by a team, by a family. When we learn how to talk and work with each other, we accomplish much more than either can do alone.
6. Nightfuries were not in the original books that inspired the movie.
A fact pointed out to me by one of the children mentioned in my wife’s blog
. It makes me want to read the books now.