Last Monday I got to hang out with a couple of friends from my university days. Miguel, Daimler, and I were blockmates in Political Science. We are also some of the few in our course who didn’t go into law school.
But our friendship was actually strange because we couldn’t be more different.
You're free to guess which one was mine, but if you pick the middle one I don't know you.
One of us played basketball regularly. The other played like a ballet dancer. And the other didn’t play at all.
One of us took Arnis for P.E. The dancer was the only straight guy in his jazz dancing class. And one of us didn’t take P.E. at all because he was a member of the shooting varsity.
One drove a blue hatchback car with HUGE speakers. One drove a white Nissan car that was pretty old. While one had an eight year old Tamaraw FX that he constantly locked himself out of.
But for all of our differences we were united by a common passion: we were willing to settle for mediocre grades as long as we could play Counterstrike. We would cut class, rank each other, and brag about our kills. Blueskies along Katipunan was our favorite spot.
Daimler (nickname: Chamba) was the best, always playing as a sniper. Miguel (nickname: Buonciko) would have bright spots from time to time, especially with the carbine. While I (nickname: Batman) would manage not to make too much of a fool of myself, except at Mansion where I would occasionally be excellent. Our common passion for Counterstrike helped build a friendship.
But last Monday, as we talked, I was amazed and thankful for our friendship. Still different as ever, we always had three different approaches to life, different areas of expertise, and different interests. But this time there’s a better common passion. Now, we’re all followers of Jesus.
When I met Miguel and Daimler on May 2000, they didn’t believe in Jesus yet. But over time, God brought about experiences in their lives that led them to faith in Him. Miguel came to know Jesus during the summer vacation after our first year. He attended our youth service, heard the Gospel, and believed in Jesus that day. Two years later, Daimler had an encounter with Jesus at a church retreat.
Our different lives have had ups and downs. Hardly a perfect journey, instead they’ve been full of bumps, mistakes, and failings. But Jesus has been faithful. And last Monday was an amazing moment for me. I’m so thankful for these two guys – their friendship, the advice they give, how steady they’ve been – but to be able to talk with them about faith stuff is just amazing.
So if you’re praying for your classmates or your family members to come to know Jesus:
Don’t stop praying. God wants them saved more than we do. He will do it.
Don’t stop sharing. You never know what God will use. You never know what invitation will be accepted. Just obey.
Don’t stop believing.(Did you sing that in your head?) Don’t let the current situation change what you know about God. He will do what He promised.
There’s a book I like by Seth Godin titled Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It’s about providing real value in any team or organization so that you become indispensable. I learned a lot from the book and I refer to people constantly.
But the reverse question occurred to me today. ARE YOU DISPENSABLE?
Yes, I agree that you want to work hard and be excellent at what you do so that you provide a valuable service to others. But if you’re trying to build something greater than yourself the goal should be more than being indispensable. Because if you’re indispensable, what happens when you INEVITABLY have to leave? Does everything collapse around your departure? Is that success?
A friend of mine recounted recently how he realized he had a wrong mindset when he was assigned a project with one company that he had learned and mastered completely but failed to teach to anyone else. When he was reassigned to another company, he watched his pet project fail as the people who took it over did not know it as well as he did. He was indispensable. But his project failed and all the earlier time spent on it was wasted. Is that success?
Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook has taken over. At this point, Apple under his administration has not wowed the world at the level that it did under Jobs. Steve Jobs seems indispensable now. But if the company fails after he’s gone, that doesn’t mean much does it? Is this success? We’re about to find out.
Last Saturday, at a gathering of our discipleship group leaders at Victory Fort, we were shown a video of a woman who started one discipleship group which eventually grew to 10 discipleship groups. Since then, she’s moved out of the group, keeping the relationships but letting the next in line people lead. It’s gotten bigger without her. She wasn’t indispensable. She built something that went beyond her. That’s success.
Dan Monterde, one of our campus directors, approached me last year looking for a new responsibility. He had grown our campus ministry in Metro East from five people to over a thousand. But at that point, he felt that Jeff Dacumos, the next-in-line, could lead just as well if not better than him. So he stepped down, turned it over to Jeff, and now serves in a number of other capacities. He built something that the next generation could run with. That’s success.
Robert Gonzalez, another one of our campus directors, is a similar story. Just this year, he stepped down from leading his large team of campus missionaries to focus on preaching and discipling young people. With the agreement of yet another veteran, Patrick Mercado, he turned the reins over to Brian Sebastian – a young man he led to Jesus personally and is fifteen years younger than him. Already we’re getting great feedback on Brian’s leadership. But what struck me most was a conversation with Robert where he shared his high hopes for Brian. Robert raised up a new leader who now works with him. That’s success.
So in this era of social-networking, which is often little more than self-promotion. What’s your definition of success? Does it live and die with you? Or will it go beyond you? Will you give your very best in your current season seeing success and growth, then turn it over to those who come after to see them take it higher and farther than you?
This has got to be one of my favorite meetings of the year.
This morning, most of our campus missionaries from Metro Manila and several from the provinces came together to worship God and ask for Him to be with us as we plan for Ignite, our Every Nation Asia Campus Conference.
We held it in Cuneta Astrodome where the conference will be in 35 days. We crammed into a room much too small for us which overwhelmed the brave but useless efforts of the airconditioners. And with sweat running down our faces, began to worship God and pray. I loved every minute of it.
Not Pictured: The multi-sensory experience that the venue provided.
It reminded me of the early days of all our centers when airconditioning was an unheard of luxury, which it still is for many locations.
It reminded me of packed youth services where the smell of sweat indicated just how many young people were present and how passionately they were worshipping – giving birth to our expression, “Smells like the harvest.”
But more than all of that, it was fun because it’s always great to praise and worship our God. And even as the preparations for the conference are growing, we wanted to remind ourselves that this isn’t about us, but about our God. In fact, the reason we need to pray is because this is Beyond Us. On so many levels.
Beyond Our Abilities – Everything that’s going to happen here is beyond us. We can do our best in planning things, but if God doesn’t go ahead of us, then nothing will happen. This is true about Ignite and for all of our lives. We’re like the Kid Darth Vader in the Volkswagen commercial. We can wave our hands around, but God’s got the real power.
Beyond the Natural – There are spiritual realities at work that we do not always see or comprehend. To go without prayer is to march in blindly. Good thing Jesus said He defeated any enemy we will face on the Cross. When we pray we are taking that victory Jesus won and applying it to every area we’re walking in to.
Beyond our Location – Whenever God does something in the Bible, it always goes far beyond what the original participants expect. In the same way, Ignite 2013 is beyond LifeBox or Victory. It’s beyond the Philippines. But we are believing that God will use this time to make an impact in nations all around the world. With delegates from 17 nations coming,we are excited and hopeful for the inception this can be for them.
In short, with big tasks and big goals facing big opposition, you better be praying to a big God. What an energizing way to start the day.
After that, I spent 5 hours in a coffee shop writing some of the materials for the conference.
Then I ended the day with my Victory group meeting while my wife met her’s next door. Good day! But now I need a long shower and some sleep. Good night!
Last Monday, I flew to Jakarta with Dan Monterde, our LifeBox Regional Director over Central Luzon, to train and plan with a few churches here in campus ministry. This is my fourth visit to Indonesia and every time it feels like visiting a relative from whom I was separated at birth. We have so many similarities in culture, geography, language, and even demographics. We joked with a singer at a restaurant, asking for a Filipino song, and they promptly responded with Freddie Aguilar’s Anak. (video at the bottom)
Our church there, Morning Star International, is really doing an amazing job reaching out to their community
Here are some highlights from our trip:
Meeting with Students
For a campus missionary, there’s nothing more energizing than meeting with students face to face. And meeting these young people in Jakarta was no different. There were many similarities between Filipinos and Indonesian students – in fact, with students we’ve met around the world. Primary concerns are with school, parents, and friends, are excited and curious about love life, and they respond well to encouragement.
When we weren’t meeting students at universities, we were staff and volunteers who work in campuses in six cities around Indonesia. Dan and I took this time to share principles we’ve learned and developed in campus ministry and the Philippines. This is one of the most exciting parts because each leader represents more than just themselves – leader can disciple students, leaders can pioneer new work or deepen existing work, and leaders raise other leaders. If you want to reach the campus effectively, train leaders.
Pastors and Leaders of Jakarta
We were also privileged to meet some really great pastors and volunteer leaders of our church in Jakarta. It was great seeing them minister on stage and in person. But more than their stage persona, it was nice to get to know them better and spend time. You know that someone really lives what they proclaim when you see the truth translated to their families and everyday lives.
This was a nice treat. It's like a crepe stuffed with this delicious fresh avocado cream thing. They also had it in durian flavor but we passed.
There is so much to enjoy from the diverse culinary heritage of Indonesia – similarities to Malay cuisine, Chinese influence, Dutch influence and the rich flavors from Asia. Tahu telur (tofu omelette with bean sprouts, lettuce, peanuts, and a light sauce), matarbak (think a pancake sandwich – pancakes loaded with butter, stuffed with chocolate and cheese), soto ayam (Soto means soup, from what I gather. This kind uses tamarind so it’s sour like our sinigang.), satay, rawon (a black beef soup), bakmi (which is noodles like the way Filipinos enjoy mami) and my favorite – nasi uduk! It’s rice cooked with coconut milk/oil (gata) then seasoned with fried shallots. Yum! I really enjoy the variety of spices of Indonesian cuisine. My perfect house in an ideal world would have access to the best Korean, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and of course, Filipino delicacies.
Check out Dan's seat assignment label.
Working with a great friend
This is the third time I went on an international campus ministry trip with my friend, Dan. It seems like it just gets better and better. This time, I was so thankful to have him because his practical campus ministry experience and insight surpass mine on many levels. He facilitated many of the group discussions we had and he handled it excellently. We’re both very excited for the promise that the campus ministry in Indonesia has.
We got in this morning and the trip just made me more eager and excited to work toward Ignite because we will see not just 8000+ students from the Philippines, but delegates from 17 other nations! What a privilege to be able to serve other nations this way.
But before the work stuff, I’m just glad to be back with my wife. So I’m ending this blog now because we have to go to the grocery together.
Thank you, Lord, for a great trip. we ask you to continue the work that you started in that nation. Amen.
Last week, LifeBox held its first ever Campus Directors’ Training. A campus director is a staff member who oversees our staff and work in a particular area. These men and women have taken on the weight of leading our campus ministry. Everything we do is possible because of their service.
It was a confluence of both the past and future.
We could've used the word "merging" but just think, we learned a new word today!
Of the past because it felt like the culmination of years of trial and error, initial successes, and plenty of skinned knees. But it was also a picture of the future because it made me excited to think about what the future would look like as we trained this men and women in their leadership skills – how many more would they raise up and how much more effective would they be?
Even as the event was going on, three powerful lessons were underscored to me. These lessons are obvious, but I believe they are great reminders for anyone in leadership or anyone who intends to accomplish something significant.
1. The Power of Team
As we assembled everyone in the room, we couldn’t help but think about how far we all had come because we work together. Whether it’s the few campus groups that number in the thousands or hundreds or dozens, we are glad to be walking together. I’m so thankful for the people who have modeled this for us even as we now model it to others – we can accomplish so much more if we stay together. Or as this picture says,
Sometimes these internet humor sites contain wisdom. SOMETIMES
2. Invest In New Leaders
To be honest, we almost cancelled this training late last year. With so much going on at work and everyone’s schedules getting full, it seemed better to just focus on the immediate, urgent needs. But now that we’re done, this is easily one of the most significant things we will accomplish this year. It said a lot that Pastors Gilbert and Paolo, both busy men with huge responsibilities over a lot of people, made the time to invest in the future by sharing of their wisdom and spending time with the attendees.
Leadership development isn’t easy and is usually pretty inconvenient. It’s easy to let the immediate demands push leadership development aside. But taking the time to Identify, Instruct, and Impart to young leaders will pay off dividends for years to come. As I listened to these men and women process cases and tackle problems, they constantly quoted and referred to instances in the past when someone took the time to train them. One of them even cited a conversation we had together, which I cannot recall today. But it has become a guiding principle for him. Always be investing in new leaders.
3. Listen to the Holy Spirit
We came into the three day training with notes, case studies, giveaways – everything we’d need. I really appreciate the work that our office did in putting everything together. It was like watching a well-run basketball play, everyone knew their parts and executed to perfection.
But there was also enough room to adjust a the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We made two huge changes to the last day of the program that we only came up with the day before. But those changes were some of the more significant things we did. Even as people thanked us for it, CJ, Dan, Ryan, Patrick, and I just knew we didn’t come up with this on our own. It was a great reminder that for all of our planning we don’t know everything. And we were grateful for the Holy Spirit in all of us, speaking and guiding us into the right direction.
It’s good to plan and prepare as much as we can. But we must also always remember that all leaders are still under an authority – God Himself. What is His agenda for our organization, team, workforce, family, personal lives? When we plan and act, it would be wise to leave room for the more effective work of the Holy Spirit to manifest.
My wife and I are speaking on Sex at the Victory Fort youth service later. It’s our first time to be preaching on that subject alone and we’re pretty excited. I’ll be sure to post a link from the podcast when we’re done, probably on Monday next week.
As we talked about our different perspectives on it – as a man and as a woman, as someone who was a virgin when we got married and as someone with multiple relationships in the past – we realized that much of this generation’s fascination with sex is driven by a feeling that says, “I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to miss out on pleasure. I don’t want to miss out on love. I don’t want to miss out on what everyone else seems to be doing.”
And this notion isn’t found in sex alone. It can drive us at work – “If I don’t do well, I’ll miss the window for my promotion.”
Or in finding a partner for life – “What if that person who just got down from the jeep is my soulmate?! How will I ever find that person again??? I better marry the next person who fancies me.”
Or in looking for a job – “I need to pull that other person down, because if they get the promotion, there will be less for me.”
In fact, this feeling of missing out is what motivated the very first humans to disobey God and sin. Here’s the lie as recorded in the Bible,
Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
God knows there’s something great out there. And for whatever reason, He isn’t giving it to you. It’s time to take it for yourself. It’s the fear of missing out, the fear of being passed over. I can’t trust that I’m gonna get it so I’ll do what I can, cross whatever boundary, use anyone, the consequences be damned as long as I get what’s mine.
The girl having sex coz she doesn’t want to lose the guy, the office worker pulling down his officemates because he wants to ensure his promotion, the teenager rebelling from his parents to be more like his barkada - they’re all driven by this idea. This is such a normal part of our thought process that we lapse into it automatically, thinking it’s normal.
So it really isn’t a question of sex, money, love, or whatever. Ultimately, it goes back to your view of God and His ordering of the universe. Here’s the question you can grapple with:
Is your God the kind of God who will withhold good gifts from those He loves?
Is your God the kind who will create something you need and desperately want and still maliciously, sadistically decide He doesn’t want you to have it? You might ask, how can we be sure He loves us?
Let’s be clear. This isn’t anything we deserve or earn. It’s not like God owes us anything. Before we shake our first at Heaven, asking for more money, a love life, or an iPad, let’s remember that if we got what we really deserve we’d be in Hell now. Conversation over. But because He loves us, Jesus died for our sins, we are forgiven and have a new life.
But wait! There’s more!
Romans 8:31-32 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If God would give His own Son to die for us when we least deserve, would He really withhold everything else we need from us? Would He really say, “I’ll send Jesus to be tortured, beaten, humiliated, to pay for your horrible sins. But you want a love life? Sobra ka na ah…”
As a high school and college student, I remember the external and internal pressure to start dating and start having sex. I still remember the weird looks that people gave when they asked about my decisions. As if wearing glasses since I was 9 and braces for all of high school weren’t weird enough.
You merely adopted nerdiness. I was born in it. Molded by it. I didn't see fashionability until late in my college life and by then it was too late.
I’d also feel the pressure to act from within. “What if they’re right? What if I am missing out? What if I won’t know how to have sex when I’m married because I’m not practicing now? It’s like this is all one big inside joke and I’m the only one on the outside!”
During those moments, I’m thankful for friends and spiritual family who helped remind me that I wasn’t alone. I’m grateful for people who went ahead of me who set an example.
But the most important thing they did was remind me of the kind of God we have.
I wasn’t missing out in obeying Him. He knows what I need, He knows what I want, and He wants the best for me. And if I ever doubt that, I need only look at Jesus and what He did for us. If He would do that for me at my worst, surely everything else – a healthy sex life, a great and fulfilling job, whatever material things I’d need – He will take care of as well.
As my wife said so brilliantly yesterday, “I hope all the single people here realize that they don’t need to wish for a love life. Because they have a love life. They are loved by Jesus, and the rest will follow at the right time.”
James 1:17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not changelike shifting shadows.
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
If you’re in Christ, stop being afraid of missing out. Obey Him in faith that even though the entire world conspired against you, it could not prevent the good things that God has prepared for you! You won’t miss a thing.
If you don’t know Him that way, you can. Read the verses I wrote above. Talk to someone who does. Message me. Come to one of our meetings. We’ll let you know about this hope we have that you can to.