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 1:17 Every 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.
There’s a difference between loving someone and being “in love” with someone. Loving someone involves action, decision, commitment and feelings. Being “in love” is just the feeling.
I used to think that being “in love” wasn’t a biblical concept but I was wrong. It does appear in the Bible. The Bible uses the phrase “fell in love” twice in the NIV translation to describe two particularly passionate men who fell in love with beautiful women.
The first is in Judges 16:4, “Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.”
Short Version: Samson fell in love with Delilah and against the instructions of his parents and the wisdom of the culture he grew up in, he went for her. Later she turned him over to his enemies for money. He already knew along the way that she was only using him, but he wasn’t thinking. How could he? He was in love.
The second is in 2 Samuel 13:1, “In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.”
Short Version: Amnon fell in love with his half sister. He looked frustrated and tired all the time because his emotions were out of control. Acting on the advice of a devious friend, he tricked her into being alone with him and raped her. It gets worse.
2 Samuel 13:15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
He had her thrown out of his house by the servants. His actions would eventually get him killed and would lead to a civil war in Israel. But then, who can blame him? He was in love when it happened.
Falling in love doesn’t mean anything on its own. The feelings alone aren’t worth anything. Anyone can have feelings. If we base our decisions on feelings alone, we’ll make the mistake of these men:
- Like Samson, we’ll be blind to wrong decisions and choices. The results will be more painful than the “love” we thought we had.
- Like Amnon, we’ll be surprised by how quickly those loving feelings can evaporate. A person who says they can’t control their infatuation will also be unable to control his selfishness, lust, and rage.
Often these two combine when both people are just “in love.” One is like Amnon, using the other for their own gain. The other is like Samson, playing a blind eye to it all.
Girls, if a guy says he’s so in love with you that he can’t control himself, be very wary. That won’t be the last time he’ll use that excuse. And next time, you might not be the one he’s confessing his feelings to.
If the need to do something NOW is so urgent, ask yourself, “Is this person still doing these things for me or for himself?”
If he says he can’t sleep, he can’t walk properly, or that his stomach lurches, that’s not a sign of true love. It might just be nausea or diarrhea. So try Bonamine or Diatabs.
Being in love isn’t bad. I’ve felt it. It was strong and seemingly uncontrollable. I was nervous and silly. It was an emotional rollercoaster!
But it’s not enough. It has to lead to something more. In my next blog we’ll see what that is.
Posted by Joseph on Dec 7, 2012 in Campus Ministry | 1 comment
To take a break from the relationship stuff, I’m sticking to answering one question that was asked twice.
Hello! I was just wondering, how did you start out as a campus missionary? When you started how sure were you that you wanted it and, more importantly, that GOD wanted you there? I just wanna hear your story. Thanks!
Hi, pastor! I was just really wondering after graduating from college did you immediately went on to do the campus missions thing? When you started were you 100% sure that it was were GOD wanted you? I just really wanna hear your story regarding that.
My parents became Christians when I was a year old. My dad became a volunteer pastor when I was six, and was leading our local church in Makati when I was 12. So you could say ministry was always an option that existed in my periphery. I was never closed or resistant to the idea, but I wasn’t too excited about it either. It wasn’t a passion.
I often got questions like, “Are you going to be a pastor, like your dad?” I’m thankful neither of my parents forced it on us or even communicated any expectations in that direction. They just expected us to honor God with our lives and follow His direction.
When I was 15, I became more active in our campus ministry. I had mentors like Crunchie Cervantes, Mel (Bong) Calingo, and, especially Rico Ricafort. They let us serve and experience what ministry was like. They corrected us when we were wrong, but gave us a chance to try again. They taught us to love God and love his people. They showed us how to read the Bible.
We would share our faith with people, lead Victory groups, plan events, lead volunteer teams, go on mission trips, etc. The more I tried it, the more exciting it became. Rico was this amazing guy who loved God, discipled others, and had fun. He made going into ministry such a great option for us.
At the same time, I’d go home and talk about my experiences with my dad. While he was careful not to push me into it prematurely, I really enjoyed our times to discuss the realities of ministry, not just the easy parts. Our talks helped prepare me for the challenges that going into vocational ministry would present.
Our old small group. We had a fascination with mafia movies also, hence the attempt at a mafia pic. All of us have since participated in some form of ministry and many became full-time ministers.
My passion grew to the point that I would serve in almost any capacity at our campus ministry over the weekends and use the weekdays (school days) to recuperate. By the time I graduated, I wanted to go into full-time ministry. Other professions are just as important and vital in God’s eyes, but I knew this was the one He wanted me to do. I shared this with my parents, Rico, and a few other trusted friends and mentors and they agreed. So in July 2004, I went into full-time campus ministry and I’ve been doing that since.
For those of you who are contemplating this decision, here are some questions that might be helpful to ask:
1. Do I want to this? If you don’t feel ANY passion for it at all, it’s probably not for you. Don’t worry about it. Find another vocation that excites that God-given passion inside you.
2. Have I counted the cost? Some people want to go into ministry because they see a narrow window of someone going onstage, or someone enjoying success. But just like any other profession, we can easily misjudge the discipline and sacrifice involved if we don’t take the time to count the cost. Vocational ministry involves sacrifice and hard work. It requires being willing to relate with people and lay your life for them, often with little appreciation or compensation. Be sure to factor that in to your decision-making process.
3. Do other people agree with my feelings? Or are they just my own imagination? This is not a calling that is done in isolation. We walk with other people as we do this. If we really are called by God into this vocation, then others – spiritual leaders, church authorities, parents (especially if they’re Christian) – will see and confirm this in us. If you don’t have anyone like that yet, try volunteering somewhere first to see if these are real desires from God or just fantasies.
4. The Million Dollar Question: Can I do anything else with my life and still be obedient to God’s call and fulfilled and satisfied? Meaning, is there anything else you can do besides this? Is there any profession, calling, job offer, that you can consider? Because if there is, go do that first. Ministry will always be there if you want to go back to it. But it’s better to enter without any sense of regret or “what ifs”
If you answered “no” to any of the first three or “yes” to the last, then maybe it isn’t the call for you, or it isn’t time yet. Don’t worry about that. Every vocation is from God and He honors us for our faith and not our jobs. Check out this blog to see what I mean.
If you answered “yes” to the first three and “no” to the last, then have fun! It’s a great ride – not easy, but super worth it.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at Campus Harvest, a student conference put together by the History Makers which started as a church youth group and grew to include hundreds of churches and thousands of students. It started in the church of Pastor Manny Santiago, who with his wife, Helen, and their four daughters, began to share what they knew about discipleship to other churches.
There were no strings attached, just one part of the body helping the other parts. That’s how the network grew.
pic by Dennis Sy, click on it to see his blog on the event
I first encountered them when a friend connected me with Pastor Benson, a youth pastor from their network. I invited him to attend Ignite, our student conference, last May 2011. Afterward, he said, “You’ll want to meet with our pastors.” They visited our office in the Fort, a few pastors from the network, including Pastor Manny and Faythe. I was struck by the sameness of our priorities – campus ministry, discipleship, church planting. And we stayed in touch – visiting their churches, meeting some of their leaders, inviting them to our training, etc.
It is such an encouragement to us to see so many young people so committed to Jesus and to discipling their friends. Here are some thoughts I had running through my mind during the event.
1.) Young people need an encounter with Jesus.
One thing that will strike you immediately with this family is the passion of the four daughters – Faythe, Lovely, Keeneth, and Mitch (Shobe), all in their early 20s, except Shobe who’s 18. Yesterday, Shobe preached a powerful message about the power of the Holy Spirit and the best illustration of her point was her life itself. And that went for the older three also, whether it was Keeneth’s dance group, Lovely’s excellent video productions, or Faythe’s leadership and preaching.
We asked Pastor Manny over lunch what he did to get children like that. He shrugged and said, “To be honest, I’m definitely not a perfect dad. I made mistakes. But, I dunno, somewhere along the way they met Jesus and that’s how they are now.”
Young people need an encounter with Jesus. Parents, campus missionaries, teachers, kuyas, ates – our primary objective should be to connect them with him. And that’ll be more than enough.
2.) There are no “secret recipes” or “hidden techniques.”
There were encouraging testimonies from individuals and churches during the event. One stuck out in particular, by Pastor Nanding Mates and Keen (Carlo) from Word for the World in Market! Market!. I’d met them before and was thrilled to hear Pastor Nanding describe how God used their church to reach and disciple many, after being stagnant for so long.
It wasn’t a new thing he learned or somehow unlocked. He just made disciples, just like Jesus told him to. Jesus promised to build His church. Our job is to disciple and leave the results to Him.
L-R: Keeneth Santiago (works in ABS-CBN, leads the dance ministry), Joseph (looking silly), Manny Santiago (senior pastor and head of History Makers), CJ Nunag (LifeBox National Director), Acel Bisa-Van Ommen (award-winning singer/songwriter, mom, wife, and Christian)
3.) It really is a beautiful thing when brothers and sisters come together in unity.
It’s so cool, that in our movement of Victory and Lifebox we are in the middle of a series about the importance of reaching the campuses. All over Metro Manila and different parts of the Philippines, students, senior pastors, and campus missionaries are reminding people of our calling there. And while this is happening we get to witness and participate in another movement that’s doing the same thing. And I know it’s not the only one.
Luke tells a story of when Jesus caused Peter’s fishing boat to pull in a catch of fish so great that their nets began to break. They signalled the other boats to come help them and both boats were filled. In the same way, the students of the Philippines need to know Jesus. And they are also ready to serve to reach their own friends.
We need the whole body preaching the whole Gospel to the whole world.
bunch of students, worshipping Jesus, ready to make disciples - felt right at home
Who does it take to impact the next generation?
Who does it take to make a difference for the future?
Who does it take to ensure that what God has done today goes into a greater level tomorrow?
I believe more than asking what it takes, WHO is the greater question for us to ask and to answer. Too many people want to outsource the raising of the next generation to others. Parents rant at schools who fail to fashion their children into their wishes. Older batches comment about how the new students of their alma mater aren’t made of the same stuff. And when we see a kid going crazy – whether they’re children acting bratty in a grocery or teenagers who go off the deep end – we often breathe a sigh of relief that they’re not ours.
New Reality TV/Comedy Show: Whose Problem Is It Anyway?
Pastor Steve Murrell has a great blog about the consequences of a selfish, generation-centric attitude that doesn’t look beyond its own time. I’m grateful for the many people I know who willingly work so that their lives have an impact in the next generation. Yesterday, while our church was focusing on discipling the next generation, I saw many instances of this.
- There was a businessman who came up to me after one of the services. He works in a company whose objective is to help people get out of poverty. He said he had part time jobs with flexible time that we could recommend to students and volunteers so they could free up their schedule to do more campus ministry. He was taking what he has and using it to disciple the next generation.
- In another service there was the student leader – president of the supreme student council of his university. Being an upperclassman he didn’t have too many years left. But he was asking how we can design curricula (plural of curriculum, not Dracula’s sister)to reach the students in his university for Jesus and develop their skills for life. I look forward to working more with him this year. And he’s just one of many students who’ve been discipled and decide to
- There were the parents praying to God for their sons and daughters, asking for His grace to raise them well. You just knew that for every parent represented there, there countless hours of talking, relating, and discipling. They’re not perfect by any means, which is why they acknowledged the need for God’s grace. There were also plenty of uncles and aunts, lolos and lolas, kuyas and ates who through different circumstances have taken on the responsibility of raising their relatives. These people impact the next generation everyday.
- While preaching at Victory U-Belt, I watched as the campus missionaries and students from their Leaders Camp arrived. Over 450 student leaders were there, having saved and earned money to go. Like clockwork, you could see the campus missionaries immediately . Some were unpacking the equipment, others were making sure all the students were safe, some even had counseling sessions to attend to. After seeing them at work in the camp, I marveled at how energetically and eagerly they got to it. But then again, these are the people who quit their jobs and rejected regular income, in order to disciple more students.
- At the end of the three services in U-Belt, many of the members signed up to express their intention to learn more about campus ministry and maybe partner with some of the campus missionaries. Most of these people aren’t extremely rich and many of them need financial breakthrough for themselves, but they’re willing to set aside a portion of their income each month to make sure high school and college students get discipled.
Reaching the next generation cannot be outsourced. They need a whole family, biological and spiritual. They need a community. As the African proverb supposedly goes
, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
“what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.”
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