Posted by Joseph on May 20, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
You might have seen this picture back when my wife Instagrammed about our trip to Pagadian almost two months ago. Here’s a short series of pictures that show stuff from it.
One lesson this shows is, it’s never about just one person. Everyone is where they are because of other people in their lives. In a few weeks, we’ll have our Ignite Conference. There’ll be a total of less than a hundred people on stage but to make this work would be the efforts of over a thousand volunteers, security guards, students, communications creative specialists, technical experts, campus missionaries, etc. It’s always about the people you’re working with.
What about you? Do you have people in your life who can help you get where you need to go?
Posted by Joseph on May 10, 2013 in Personal | 1 comment
Just thought I’d share about some highlights from this week. It had its share of difficulty and challenges, some personal, some with friends, and some at work. But God is good! Here is the week of unexpected treats.
- Hang out with my blockmates. I blogged about this here. It was really great catching up with each other and seeing how we all were doing.
- Cooking! I am a very enthusiastic, untrained, unskilled, barely adequate to read a recipe cook. But I love doing it. It’s one of my favorite de-stressers. This week I tried a new recipe for a 40 clove garlic chicken stew. It was very simple, inexpensive, lasted for three meals, and it produced 40 cloves of softened, spreadable garlic that I put in my rice. Perfect!
- Carla coming home. My wife was away the whole day Saturday and Monday and I got a tiny picture of what my life would be like without her. And I don’t like it. It was great having her home again. I even got to cook with tofu for the first time for her dinner.
- Talking with people and seeing them get it. – Whether it was a couple who are preparing for marriage or some of the guys in my discipleship group, one of the highlights of my week is always seeing people “get it.” They come away knowing God more and better prepared to face life. I love it.
- Victory Group Leaders. – Victory Fort had an equipping meeting for hundreds of Victory group leaders last Wednesday. Pastor Paolo did an amazing job teaching us. I was particularly excited to be there with four leaders that I’m “raising up” to take the lead in our group. I put quotes around “raising up” because really these men are strong in the faith already, I’m just another link in the chain of their development. I’m excited for them!
That's us at the round table with the people.
- Ignite Updates. – Thursday was full of great meetings and updates for Ignite! Whether it was the news of more internationals coming to the conference, the committee meeting where the hardworking staff are really bringing everything together, the meeting with the preachers (and I am sooo excited for the messages they’ll share), or a number of small conversations full of promises of different goodies and treats all designed to help students understand the Bible better and be equipped to Honor God and Make Disciples. I can’t wait!
- Our campus ministry team. Thursday night ended with a dinner celebrating a fruitful school year of making disciples on campus at at Victory Fort. We saw videos sharing testimonies of men and women who were changed. And we heard plans for the future. There were pastors, campus missionaries, volunteers, teachers who partner with us, and ministry partners who support us financially. I’ll blog more about this next time. But for now, I’ll just say it was so encouraging to see a roomful of people from different background and careers, united in their passion to reach students.
- Unexpected Vacation. And now it’s Friday. Some people from a resort asked Carla to blog about their resort and they gave us a free stay for the weekend. I’m thankful for this surprise gift. So I’m ending this blog now to spend more time with my date. See ya!
Every time I see this girl, I think God must really love me.
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.
This is something that is connected to a message Carla and I did last Friday, and another one that I preached yesterday. But it’s hardly original to us and you’ll see in this blog that we just learned it from others. I’m grateful for the men and women like my parents, Pastor Steve and Deborah Murrell, and Pastor Paolo and Jenn Punzalan who not only preach this but live it.
Of the many things we’ve learned, one of the things I’m glad we agreed on right away is the idea of boundaries in marriage. Carla and I have very frank and open conversations with one another about what I’ll allow myself to do and her as well.
Here are some examples: Note, these are not biblically-based or universal. But they’re our application of biblical truths.
- No women friends of my own. Pastor Steve once said, “I don’t have any women friends who aren’t Deborah’s friends.” That statement stuck with me ever since. I have no business keeping female contacts who don’t have anything to do with my wife. We’re one now. There is no Joseph without Carla.
- No entertaining long Facebook, Twitter, email, or text conversations with women. I will contact someone for work, but it won’t become a conversation that goes beyond more than a couple replies.
- Avoid giving car rides to just one woman. This is something that changed a lot from when I was single. I used to give people rides home all the time, especially in my Tamaraw FX. But now, not anymore. Occasionally multiple officemates may ride and I don’t mind that. In those rare occasions that one woman is left in the car with me, I appreciate her sensitivity to stay in the back seat. Looking like a driver isn’t that big a deal.
- No one on one counseling with a woman. Sometimes I’ll have to talk to someone, I always make sure it’s in a public and open place. I appreciate that most of our rooms in the church are open and see through. This also has a practical purpose: I’m not gonna fool myself into thinking I can help better than another woman can.
- Don’t travel alone. It’s more expensive to travel with others, but it’s worth it. Carla is obviously the best companion. When I bring her with me, we have to pay for her side of the expenses, but that’s worth every peso.
- She gets veto power. I don’t know how else to term this. I’m not married to a jealous or exacting woman, but if she ever takes an issue with anything I’m doing or anyone I’m meeting, she gets veto power. I don’t need “my own space.” I’m not “still trying to grow as an individual.” I didn’t get married in order to “find myself.” I’m growing old with her and that’s it.
Ring Vows: "As I place this on your finger and you receive it, you acknowledge that you are no longer your own but mine." Light moment with serious consequences.
To a few people who hear about this it seems like too much. And there are some questions that are the usual responses:
Don’t you trust each other? – We do. Carla trusts me but I don’t know if I trust myself in every situation. I know my own limits and since I don’t EVER want to gamble on our marriage, we stay far away from them.
Isn’t that restrictive? – And this seems to be the main issue people have with boundaries. They’re restrictive and stifling. They keep us from enjoying ourselves. But that shows we fail to understand the very nature of boundaries.
Boundaries are put in place not to restrict, but to preserve and protect. When a person buys a patch of undeveloped land, one of the first things they do is put up fences and boundaries. It’s not to imprison the land (as if the land cares), but to protect it. If not it might be used as a garbage dump or toilet by people walking past.
Putting boundaries on something shows how much we value it. The more we value something, the more the boundaries we put on it. When I was single and living with my parents, there were some nights that I’d leave the front door unlocked when I got in. But now that I’m married living in our own house, I miraculously learned to lock up every night. My values adjusted. This is my home we’re talking about and I needed to guard it.
Boundaries allow you to develop, improve, and build on something. Our church is going through a building project right now. And one thing that all construction sites have are boundaries. Because clearly defined boundaries will get the right people in to build it up and the wrong people out. There’s a very definite goal in a building project and not everyone is necessary.
BOUNDARIES: Someone valued the property on top. No one cares about the one on the bottom.
So it really isn’t a question of restrictions but of how much we value something. If we aren’t willing to give up something that poses a threat to our relationship to our spouse, then we’re really saying, “This is more valuable to me than you are.”
Maybe that seems like an exaggeration. It’s not like every husband who offers a woman a ride home is cheating. Or not every wife who confides in a male officemate isn’t trying to have an affair. And if you’re ready to take that risk, then that’s your call to make.
But that’s the whole point of boundaries. We’re not willing to risk it. I’ve got something really great, really special with my wife. This is what we want to preserve and protect. This is what we want to build for. This is what we value. And I’m happy with this choice.
Posted by Joseph on Dec 11, 2012 in Personal | 0 comments
My dad’s book, The Lego Principle, is out. It’s been a unique learning experience to witness the entire process of writing over 4 years – the late nights at his computer, the dozens of open books all over his office for research, and the endless conversations about how to write a certain chapter.
I’m reading it for the third time and and I’m honestly so proud of it (and my dad). It’s intellectually meaty enough to sink your teeth into, very practical to everyday life, and peppered with stories all throughout to keep you engaged.
Click the pic to go to the Amazon page.
More than the pleasure and insight from reading the book itself, I’m excited for the effect it’ll have on the people who read it. It’s designed to activate (my dad’s favorite word, I think) everyday “ordinary” Christians to the amazing work God’s called all of us to.
Too many Christians nowadays are benching themselves – not participating in what God’s called them to. Here’s a quote by the late Elton Trueblood, chaplain of Harvard and Stanford, from Chapter 12 of The Lego Principle,
Perhaps the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian church is that millions of supposed members are not really involved at all and, what is worse, do not think it strange that they are not.
The Church was never designed to sit on the bench. We are forcefully advancing and everyone has a part to play. It isn’t about a few experts. Here’s a picture of some of our volunteer teachers in Victory Fort. They teach Victory Weekend – a difficult, challenging course that takes a lot from their time. But they serve anyway. And we are all made better because of them.
No bench players here. Thanks Alex Monis for the pic.
More than this, there are thousands of volunteers who serve weekly all over Metro Manila. There are thousands of Victory group leaders who reach out to their friends, disciple people, pray for the sick, serve their fellow man, etc. We all have a part to play.
So get off the bench! Serve somewhere. Get connected into a discipleship group. Build key relationships with people who can help you and people you can help. And buy a copy of the book if you like. It’ll be a great gift for anyone looking to activate themselves or other people.
Check out my wife’s article on the book launch in one of the country’s broadsheets.
Posted by Joseph on Nov 30, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
Pastor! kailan ba ang tamang panahon para manligaw? (When is the right time to court someone?)
I’m assuming you’re a guy because I’ve only heard this question from guys.
Dating is only a recent social invention and is meant to be a transitory stage into the beauty of marriage that God designed for us.
I don’t think there’s an actual time frame, but more of who are you and what are you ready for. Like my dad told me, and I tell the young men you disciple, the hardest part about chasing a woman isn’t the chase, but what you do if you catch her. Are you ready to love her by dying to yourself now, the way Jesus did for us? (Ephesians 5:25)
So my recommendation, and this only a recommendation not a biblical, all-encompassing rule, is to begin thinking about dating, courting, or whatever when you’ve thought about what comes after and you’re looking for this stage to lead into that.
Hi,ptr.joe!iam really blessed with your love story. How did you overcome temptations? Was it difficult for you and carla to keep your purity before marriage?
Oh yeah! One reason is coz she’s really hot. But more than that, my old sinful nature keeps trying to drag me back into someone God didn’t make me to be.
We were able to overcome by first realizing that because of Jesus, this sinful tendency is powerless. It seems like the urges are strong, but really they’ve been beaten and crushed by Jesus already. Secondly, we constantly asked the Holy Spirit to help us as we fight these temptations. We’d remind each other of the stand we made and how much more beautiful God’s plans for us were than the promise of illicit sex. Thirdly, we worked out these spiritual truths into practical steps: get counsel and accountability from others, don’t put ourselves in compromising situations (two of us alone for extended periods of time in a room, etc).
Good day pastor Joseph! How do you become a missionary? My husband and I have been contemplating on joining the field and volunteering but we are having second thoughts especially when it comes to leaving our jobs (bills, support for family, etc.)…
There are so many ways people become vocational ministers. So it’ll be hard to be very specific here. I think generally, at least for our movement, just volunteer first. Serve somewhere, anywhere. (Every Christian should be doing that anyway.)
And if God’s calling you to do it full-time, you’ll know and so will the people around you. And if He is calling you do it, He’ll take care of the finances. Just like He will for any other vocation – business people, academics, manual laborers, etc.
Super thank you for not asking a relationship related question.
Why did you decide against collating your podcast in one site?
Good question. Maybe I’ll start it up again. I just thought it was too much work.
Hi Pastor Joseph! Have you ever had a money issue with Carla? How do you manage if the wife has more money than the husband before marriage? Thanks!
From what I’ve learned from much wiser, much more mature, and much more experienced couples, there are different ways that marriages handle money. But there are biblical principles we can follow that can guide us.
Personally, Carla and I agreed that I would provide for our needs and she would work and make money for extra stuff. So we’ve decided to live entirely on what I bring in. This allows me to lead in a way that is helpful for both of us. And she doesn’t have the burden of sustaining the family financially.
You’re right in saying that she had more money than me before getting married, but now that we are one, we see it as one account. But I still don’t touch it, unless she volunteers it for special things like helping her family, giving to a specific need of someone else, or investing for the future.