Posted by Joseph on May 15, 2013 in Thoughts | 1 comment
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2
The elections are over. The results have been counted. We have a new crop of leaders for some positions of government. I don’t know of anyone yet who saw all of their senatorial choices win. Most, including me, have some (or a few) who won and some (or many) who lost.
- If you voted, good job. Thank you for caring enough to do that. I saw a few (defensive?) posts of people saying that they still love the Philippines even though they didn’t exercise their right to vote. But with the great efforts the COMELEC has made (even though there are still significant screw-ups), there is less and less of an excuse. Basically, if you can get concert tickets, premiere tickets to the showing of Iron Man, or your school clearance, then you can probably vote. So congratulations to all of us who did.
- Now the votes have been counted and winners have been decided. It’s time for us to respect and submit to whoever is sitting there. The whole point of a democracy is we all agree to abide with the decision of the majority. It’s not, “Well, that’s not what I want so I’m going to disengage from the process.” That’s like those kids who lose at board games and kick the board over. As good citizens, it’s our role to pray for our leaders, support them, and give constructive feedback. Like a good friend of mine said, “There’s a difference between criticizing and bullying.”
- We don’t have to wait for the next election to do something for the country. We can be active today! Many people have complained about how the poor in this country voted, stating the woes of how easy it is to buy their votes. I agree that it is short sighted thinking, but I’ve also never been in the situation where P500 is the difference between life and death. I think I would be extremely “short-sighted” too if I was watching my family go hungry.
- What if we help the greatest demographic of our country today by giving what we can to lift people out of poverty? One of our pastors sponsored the daughter of their maid to fix her cross-eye. Then they helped her get a scholarship through Real Life Foundation and now she’s a college graduate and will get a good job. I grew up with my parents actively concerned for our helper and drivers’ education and family’s well-fare, even sponsoring their distance education so they could get a diploma. Bo Sanchez has blogged about how he has helped his maids form an investment portfolio. Earlier this year, my wife and I went through all of our things and gave away most of my clothes and plenty of school books to our helper and driver for their children’s education. My in-laws Paula and Charlie are active in Diksyonaryo Atbp and are constantly drumming up support for various causes. My brother, David, works two jobs, but has spent huge amounts of his time working with Habitat for Humanity, Center for Community Transformation, and Real Life Foundation. Everyone has needs and problems. We all could be using the time and money to better our own lives a little bit more. But we all can do something as well. The point isn’t to compare with one another but to do our part. Just like one vote counts, your life and what you do with it counts.
So to the new officials, congratulations and God be with you. We hope that you will serve with integrity, excellence, and as much diligence as you showed while campaigning. (Haha, like they’ll get to read this.)
And to the rest of us ordinary people, great work on the voting. Now let’s continue to do what we can to serve our country and fellow Filipinos.
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.
Posted by Joseph on Apr 29, 2013 in Thoughts | 9 comments
Some time ago I was watching American Idol with my wife. A woman stormed out angrily from the auditions when the judges didn’t pick her. She was certain they were all wrong and she was destined for fame and fortune. Because God told her so. (It seems like every season has someone like this.)
A couple of teenagers start dating. They’ve got great potential but they refuse to receive counsel. There’s already cause for concern in the way they treat each other. People offer their time and assistance but they don’t take it. Why would they need it? They say God told them to date and that they don’t need other people. (This is a pretty repetitive pattern too.)
A few months ago, I preached in Victory Alabang. After the message an eighteen year old came up to me. I asked him if he needed prayer, but he shook his head. “I want to pray for you. God told me to,” he said. He prayed a prayer for me that was very encouraging and insightful for what I was concerned about that time.
These people were all convinced that God had spoken to them. And they’re just a few examples of billions throughout history who were sure they had heard from the divine.
What do we do with these people? Or what do we do if we’re that person? There are two extreme responses to this situation:
OPTION 1: God doesn’t talk to you! / God doesn’t talk to people! / No one hears from God!
It’s tempting to say this because it’s just too weird, difficult, or strange to process that thought of God, the Almighty, speaking to an individual.
But that would be a mistake because God does speak with people. And when He does, it’s unmistakeable. While watching the recently aired Bible series by the History Channel, my wife and I commented on how well the show depicted the strangeness of Abraham in saying he heard from God. But as strange as it was, the effect on his life and on the succeeding generations was unmistakably good. He really did hear from God.
So let’s not be closed to the possibility that you or other people can hear from Him. The Bible says that we can know the thoughts of God by the Holy Spirit which He gives to all who have believed in His Son Jesus.
OPTION 2: Everyone who says they hear from God is right! / Everyone is hearing from God right now. / It’s about what you feel.
In effect, this no longer focuses on what God is actually saying. It’s just a way of saying that whatever you hear and feel is right. People can easily abuse this perspective by claiming their own fantasies as God’s will. As a minister, I can’t count the number of times people have flashed this card only to have to retract later on what they were “absolutely sure” was from God.
But more concerning than the potential of being wrong, is how casually people throw around the name of God. I believe that God can speak to anyone and through anyone. But with this ability to hear from Him comes the responsibility to communicate it correctly.
God will not allow people to take His Name in vain. The Bible is full of warnings and judgments from God against people who claim to speak from Him but speak falsely. They do it to make themselves famous, take advantage of others, or get away with what their wicked hearts wanted to do all along. We say things like, “I’m sure this is what God would want for me,” when really we’re just looking to justify our own desires.
Honestly, I get very concerned for people who don’t take this seriously because God will not let His name taken for granted like that. For every time that we say, “God told me this…” we’ll have to give an account. He is very jealous about His name. And if He takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.
Both of these extremes are wrong. So what’s the remaining option then?
OPTION 3: God speaks and we must test and see which words are really His.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Don’t disregard that God could be talking. Don’t ignore what the Holy Spirit is saying.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. But don’t just swallow things without thinking. Test them and see if they are right.
There are at least four tests we know from the Bible that we can use.
1. Godly counsel - Other people hear from God too. If we’re wondering if a particular insight, plan, or course of action is from God, other godly people in your life will probably hear it also.
2. Word of God - God will never say anything that goes against His written word, the Bible. If we really want to know it’s God speaking and not just the burrito you had for lunch, read the Bible.
3. Will be confirmed - If God says something’s gonna happen, it happens. Until there’s confirmation, then we should remember to keep open the possibility that we might be mistaken. You think you’re destined for American Idol stardom? Other people will confirm that in you. You think God has shown you who your future husband is? It’ll happen if it’s really from God.
4. Good fruit – If something is from God it produces good fruit. If something is leading you to sin, error, lying, acting without love, then we should check if this is really from God. I’m not saying God’s will never has any difficulty, but even when it’s difficult God gives us the grace to thrive in it.
Posted by Joseph on Apr 26, 2013 in Leadership, Thoughts | 6 comments
“Hindi bagay” is a Filipino phrase that means something “doesn’t match.” And there are few things more out of place, more ill-fitting, more off, more painful to observe, more useless, and more ugly than a leader who is sulking. For my Filipino readers, ang lider na nagtatampo.
Everyone has sulked at least once in his/her life. For some people it’s more becoming than others. Like sometimes when my wife does it to me it’s adorable.
But it’s never adorable when a leader does it. It’s not just ugly and pathetic, it’s twisted and perverted. Perverted means to corrupt something from the original course
Here’s why: leaders are meant to lead! To fix problems not throw tantrums until they get their way. Leaders are there to make the first move, not play hard to get. Leaders are there to encourage the cowardly, motivate the lazy, and activate the passive.
Sulking is the complete opposite of leadership because it’s cowardly, lazy, and passive. It’s waiting for the other person to initiate the reconciliation. It’s putting our own hurt feelings over the good of the team. It’s resigning from taking responsibility.
We aren’t always in leadership situations. Sometimes we’re followers. But when you’re the leader, don’t resign from your post. When there’s something wrong in the team, do something about it.
Of the five options here, four are for leaders and one is used by toddlers. Which one are you?
Recently, there was another chapter in that on-going debate about the greatest NBA player. Michael Jordan, when asked who he would pick, Kobe or Lebron, said, “Five (titles) beats one every time I look at it. And not that (James) won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”
Of course, what Jordan didn’t say, but we all heard loud and clear was that he remains at the top of that list with his own 6 championship rings.
Lebron, the King (of Being Defensive), replied, “(Jordan) said he would take Kobe over me because … five rings are better than one, and the last time he checked, five is better than one. At the end of the day, rings don’t always define someone’s career. If that’s the case, then I’d sit up here and say I would take (Bill) Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take Russell over Jordan. Russell has 11 rings, Jordan has six. I wouldn’t do that.” (But you just did, Lebron.)
I’m not trying to weigh in on who is truly Jordan’s replacement. It is an interesting dynamic that this debate doesn’t go away. It’s clear that for everyone involved the concern is for themselves and their own legacy.
The truth is a labratory-like comparison between the players is impossible. Each has their own season and brings their own unique contribution.
The truth is Kobe and Lebron are building on a foundation that Jordan and many others have built. They wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are today if it wasn’t for the generation that went before.
The truth is Kobe and Lebron are also dealing with massive amounts of competition that the new league has produced. Lebron is able to do things that previous generations only dreamed of, and that’s not a bad thing. That’s great for basketball.
I'm afraid some people are gonna ignore the rest of the blog and debate about this this topic in the comments section
We can have our own version of this debate too when we compare unfairly across generations – whether that’s colleagues or family members who have gone ahead of us or those who follow after.
I’m thankful for the men and women who don’t think this way, and instead honor those who have gone before and build up those who follow.
People often introduce me as being a better preacher than my dad. But I wouldn’t even be a preacher if it wasn’t for my dad and mom’s influence, coaching, mentoring, and nonstop encouragement in that area. For him, being the best preacher isn’t the goal. He’s just happy to see the next generation excel. Thanks Pop and Mom.
We look at our campus ministry now, LifeBox, and are thankful for how far it’s come in the past five years. CJ Nunag and I have had the joy of leading it, but we also know we are only building on what greater men have lain for us. God used men like Ferdie Cabiling, Rico Ricafort, LA Mumar, Gilbert Foliente, Marc Constantino, Dennis Sy and Christian Flores who have their own sets of skills and gifts that have been turned into priceless contributions today. When their turn came to pass it on, they did so graciously without needing to position themselves on the top. They’ve transitioned into other areas where they can continue to break ground and pioneer.
We look at the people who are coming after – students and staff who are so capable and committed. Like Lebron, they’re accomplishing great things at such a young age that we didn’t accomplish till much later. I preached my first sermon to 80 people at 15 years old. I was so nervous that I finished in eight minutes. But everyone stayed supportive. Mark Muleta, at the same age, preached to over four thousand people and hit a homerun. And we’ve got another one lined up for this year’s Ignite.
Just one of many young men and women who provide a glimpse of an awesome future ahead.
I’m excited for what these people represent because it makes me hopeful and really excited for the future.
At the end of the day, it’s a question of what we’re really after. If we’re after personal glory, then we will do everything possible to lift ourselves up and tear others down. If we’re after something bigger, something more meaningful, then we will honor those who have gone before and empower those who are coming after. All this leaves for us is to do our best in the season and time we are in right now.
As Gandalf the Grey said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Are you honoring those who have gone before you? Are you empowering those who are coming up?
Posted by Joseph on Feb 20, 2013 in Thoughts | 0 comments
How funny that I would get to apply the blog even as I was writing it. I just came back from a great trip to Palawan with three of our campus directors. We had a great time meeting with youth pastors from a number of other churches. It’s inspiring to see other groups who also value and prioritize students.
But this is about something else. As I was on the plane, writing the last blog, I noticed a young woman, with major high heels and a shorts that weren’t much longer than her shoes. She took her seat on the far end of our row, with an empty seat between us.
I thanked God for the principles in the blog I was writing and for the men of conviction who I travelled with. And I had to chuckle at the chance to apply the blog so quickly, particularly the point of traveling with other people.
- This isn’t a statement about her character or personality. For all we know she’s a well-intentioned, sensible person.
- This isn’t a presumption that anything would have happened. It would most definitely be nothing. But that’s not the point.
- This is an honest acknowledgement of the reality of sin. The battle would be in my own mind and heart first. The Bible says to look lustfully at a woman is already sin.
So I guess the short point in this blog I’m making, almost an appendix to the previous one, is I’m so thankful for friends and family who have high standards and boundaries for me to observe and emulate. I felt so secure around them knowing they walked by the same principles as well and that they’d remind me to walk in mine as well.
In the previous blog, someone left a comment saying there was a problem with the boundaries I mentioned, that they were too high. And for much of my life, I’d feel embarrassed for professing what I believed. But that’s not necessary.
Obviously, we shouldn’t take pride in them or consider ourselves superior to others because of them. (I’ve made that mistake too.) But neither should we be ashamed of them.
There was a 19 year old girl who attended a talk that Carla and I did who described being pressured by people around her to lower her high standards which she believed were from God. But she did well by sticking to her convictions. She did not need to be ashamed. Neither do we.
Instead, find people who are walking the same way because God told it to them too. And enjoy the benefits of that disciplined life.
So do you have people you can trust to help you maintain those boundaries?