Showing posts with label Students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Students. Show all posts

I dare to dream


Luke 10: 1-4, "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road."

As I studied Luke 10:1-4, I saw four things which I dream and pray will be true for every Christian on campus.

1. I dream of Christians whose eyes are open to see the great multitude in need of Jesus.

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few (v. 2).” Do you see this harvest? They are the people in your dorm rooms, corridors, classrooms, organizations.

They are the people walking along the Acad Oval, the people at the Sunken, in the Main library. When you see them, do you think of eternity? Do you recognize the thug of the Spirit telling you that they also need Jesus?

Ask the Lord to grant you those pair of eyes. Pray that eternity be stamped on your eyeballs, never to leave your every waking hour. “When you look at a person,” said one Welsh missionary, “think of their eternity.”

I pray that we will do this everyday. To have eyes for the lost is something caught rather than taught. I cannot teach you to love people. I cannot force or threaten you to reach those who are far from Jesus. I cannot bribe you to be active in God’s ministry.

You have to ask the Lord to pour into your heart a deep longing to be His messenger. For when you are caught by the passion for people’s souls, your life will never be the same again. It happened to me. I pray that it will also happen to you.

2. I dream of Christians willing to align their entire lives to the Gospel cause

When God grants you the eyes of eternity, you will immediately recognize that the harvest is too great and the laborers too few. Who are these laborers?

Is Jesus calling us to be full-time missionaries, pastors,church workers, youth workers? Not necessarily. Jesus is looking for people who are willing to align the whole of their lives-- wherever they are and whatever they’re doing-- for the Gospel.

These are the laborers whom Jesus seeks. Lest we forget, we are Christians first before anything else-- students, sons/daughters, employees, church worker.

Saying yes to the Gospel means full submission to one Lord. We become His own and He becomes ours.

You are studying a course. How can God use that for the advancement of His Kingdom? You have an organization. How can God use that for the advancement of His Kingdom? You live in a dorm and have several roommates. How can God use that for the advancement of His kingdom?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,(Colossians 3:23).”

3. I dream of Christians willing to face persecution and trials head-on for Jesus

Is this call easy? Jesus said, “...I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves (v.3).” No one said being Christian in this world would be easy.

Jesus actually promised persecution, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12).” For the early believers, this persecution is a matter of life and death.

They may be flogged, imprisoned and executed for preaching Jesus. For us today, especially here in the Philippines, what persecution and challenges are we facing?

Discrimination on campus. Mockery of friends, teachers and family. What else? I am not saying that these are not valid, but compared to what they faced in the first century, ours seem trivial. By the way, persecution does not include the consequences of our wrong actions.

The standard for believers has been set so high that only by God’s grace can we reach it. Consider Luke 9:57-62. Those who want to follow Christ must remember three things.

a. There is no assurance of worldly comfort when you follow Him.
b. When you want to follow Him, you must not and cannot delay.
c. When you want to follow Him, you cannot have divided loyalty.

But like the eyes that see eternity, only God can grant us courage to stand in the face of persecution and trials, unwavering for the Gospel cause. Pray and ask God for the willingness to sacrifice for Him.

4. I dream of Christians willing to fully trust Jesus as they live out the Gospel

In the face of all these challenges, what does Jesus require of us? TRUST.

Trust Him who provides (v.4). Trust Him who looks out for His sheep (v.19). Trust Him who is in control of eternity.

There is a rebuke waiting for us here. We have to stop thinking of a pizza and embrace the horse carriage wheel. What do I mean?

The Christian life is not like a pizza which you divide parts for God, your career, your acads, your love life, your family etc. This mentality only breeds the attitude that says, “I’ll get serious with God when I’m now okay with ____________.”

Fill in the blank. Acads, career, family, health, etc. This cannot be the attitude. Remember that Jesus pervades all of life. He is the center and from Him branches out all other aspects of life.

This is the image of the horse carriage wheel. We align our acads, family life, orgs, friendships, careers to God’s will for His glory. We give Him all as we trust the Potter to mold our smallness for His renown.

Sometimes, our unwillingness to give our all shows how much we distrust God. We work ourselves to death, forgetting that He can easily provide our daily needs (v.4). We trust in our own knowledge and skills at school, not understanding that all wisdom comes from God (James 1:5). We spread ourselves to thinly in the hope of securing good career and future, overlooking that God controls all things (Psalm 135:6).

Can you trust God enough to let Him hold your worries and trials in His hands?

Conclusion:

There is a second part to v.2. Jesus said, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

The only ones who can pray this prayer are the ones who have been actively working for God’s Kingdom, seeing the great multitudes and the great need for laborers.

How many Christians in UP do you know have eyes and heart for the lost? Are willing to align their lives for the Gospel cause? Willing to face persecution for Jesus? Willing to trust God’s provisions and grace as they serve in the Great Commission?

Reflect on these things and surely, you’ll be moved to pray for more laborers. Just be sensitive as well, because most of the time, we are the answers to our prayers.

I dare to dream because I know my God will answer. God bless us all!

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Image taken from: http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2010/213/e/f/mang_oble_by_geekyspaz.jpg

Navigating through romance



February 28 is the new hearts day for DCF! We capped the Valentines season with our Banquet Dinner and Ladies and Gents Night. This is our way of realigning our hearts and minds with God's on the subject of love and relationships.

Prof. Bot Jocano, our faculty adviser delivered the message. It was actually a repeat of his talk in the freshmen fellowship on Eros Love.Here are some of the striking insights from the message:

1. On the issue of romantic love, are you willing to let go of what feels good to do what‘s right?

2. When considering romantic relationships ask, "Will he or she bring me closer to or farther away from God?"

3. Before entering a relationship, consider your unfinished business and ask, "At this moment of life, what is God calling me to do first and to prioritize?"

4. Even before considering romance, reflect upon your relationship with God. How can your romantic relationship sail smoothly when your walk with God is on a nosedive?

5. Guys, are you willing to wait and labor for the woman you love even if it takes you several years like Jacob?

6. Don‘t enter into a relationship if you‘re not considering marriage.

7. Evangeligaw, disciple chicks and misistry are definitely off the list.

Listen to Sir Bot's message here:



Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ



Come February and everyone begins talking about romantic love. That's the norm worldwide. For the UP Christian Community, however, February meant more than romance. The UPCC decided to focus on brotherly love among siblings in the Lord.

Bro. Jade Gascon from the Jesus is Lord Church exhorted the body to truly stand united in its testimony for Jesus in the UP Diliman Campus.  This is made possible only if the members had genuine love for one another flowing from their common ground-- the blood of Jesus poured out for their salvation.

He tackled love on the one hand and wrapped it around unity. With a diverse Christian tradition on campus, unity thrives only when there is love. Unity, of course, is different from uniformity. We can celebrate our uniqueness as Christians and still be united in Christ through our love for one another.

My brother may be all-out for contemporary Christian music and I may be a fan of classical hymns. But what is this outward difference compared to our bond in Jesus? Because of our Savior, the Apostle Paul can write this about the Christian community, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)."

I long to see the fulfilment of Jesus' prayer for us in John 17:20-21, "“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, tthat they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

As a take home, I am challenged to think about how much I love my brethren in the UPCC, and what else I can do to make our unity more evident in the eyes of our campus. All these for the glory of Jesus and the renown of His salvation.

Listen to the full sermon here and be blessed:


Check this out on Chirbit

Chronicles of a Staff Worker (Week 4 Jan 2014)

Dear Praying Friends,

Thank you so much for journeying with me through the first month of 2014. Time flies so quickly! As we face February together, let me take this time to update you on the closing week of January.

I was down with flu during the last update, but God has granted me healing. As of today, I only have slight cough especially in the evening when it gets so cold. Please continue to pray for my body that God will make it strong and free from any sickness.

Taken from www.rappler.com
I wasn't able to meet the Pisay students last week. They had a week-long class suspension because of the clash between the police and illegal settlers infront of their campus. The Quezon City government carried on its planned demolition of illegally-built houses along Agham Road.

The demolition became violent because the residents refused to leave the area. They began to throw rocks, bottles, improvised explosive and even human waste just to stop the demolition. The police responded with force. Armed with shields, clubs and a number of firearms, they retaliated, injuring several civilians. They also arrested demonstrators.

The place turned into a war zone, prompting the Pisay administration to cancel classes altogether. Let us pray for everyone involved in the clash. I know that the government wants to improve our city, hence the decision to tear down the illegal houses. However, I also understand the grievances of those displaced.

I may not be involved in the urban poor ministry, but let us ask our Jehovah Jireh (The LORD our Provider) to look down with mercy and give the affected families a new beginning. If anyone of you know of mercy ministries that may help, please drop me a word.


Last week, we also had our second gathering of UP Christian Orgs at the UP Christian Community Koinonia-Night. Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship. Incidentally, that was  also the topic for the meeting. The CC core invited Pastor Benjie Baclagon from the Grace Bible Church to share God's Word.

He emphasized that genuine fellowship involved genuine love. It is not simply about an event or a program, but a relationship bound by Christ. We have fellowship with people when we have them in our minds, we have them in our hearts and we remember them in our prayers. Listen to his talk HERE.

The K-Night was also a wonderful opportunity to be reunited with our brothers and sisters from the different orgs on campus. I gained new friends and met younger students. I even teased the graduating leaders that they were already old. God is indeed faithful. These leaders were once wide-eyed freshmen but they've grown to be fine young men and women in the full service of the Lord.

Continue to pray for them that they will be influential salt and light in the workplace or the next phase of their lives after graduation.

I was able to join Cente and the Freshies Fellowship. Cente usually holds its fellowship on a Wednesday but the members had it on a Tuesday last week to make room for the K-Night. I spoke about Jehovah Jireh as an opening to their series on the Names of God.

The preparations caught me by surprise because apparently this Name had much to do with salvation. Before, I thought Jehovah Jireh only involved daily provisions like food, clothing, and shelter among others. After studying it deeper, however, God showed me that in its proper context, the provision was a sacrifice for sin.

It was Abraham who called God Jehovah Jireh (The LORD will provide) during that episode when He asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. At just the right moment, God provided a ram in place of the boy. This is a foreshadowing of Jesus' own sacrificial death in our place as the Lamb of God.

We also had a simple birthday celebration for Christian last week. We gave him a cake and sang a birthday song! He was surprised by our small gift because he didn't notice the cake. I joked that we were experts at hide-and-seek so he didn't see our gifts hidden just a few feet behind him. Once more, "Happy Birthday Christian!"

Kuya Caloy will be talking about the Justice of God this Wednesday. Please pray with us that God will use him mightily in delivering the message to the Cente students. Pray also that the CCMers will be able to invite friends and roommates to the fellowship. We desire to be used in the Cente dorm more, and one simple way is by reaching out to roommates and inviting them to hear God's Word in the fellowship.

Ask God for boldness for the Cente people as they build bridges with their dormmates. Please pray for Jim and the Cente Core as they implement innovations to reach more students with the Gospel.



Kuya Jaylord spoke at the Freshmen Fellowship last Thursday. He was the closing act in their Parables Series, tackling the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. I praise God because the freshmen have started taking roles in FDCF. A few weeks ago, we were praying that they will respond positively to our leadership challenge. God answered our prayers and the freshies responded with zeal.

I was also happy to see Fiehl (guy in grey sweater) again. He was busy the past weeks because of org activities. Please pray for him as he balances his time amid a busy week ahead. I'm praying that we can continue ministering to him though the FDCF.

Please pray that God will grow Christlikeness in these students. Several of them join me in Bible Studies and I've figured that they are challenged to live out Christ in their classes and rooms. Ask God to transform their characters so that they can have powerful testimonies for Jesus.

I remember a very moving statement from a pastor long ago. He said, "Our lives may be the only Bible other people will read." Let us pray that what they'll see will be a life consistent with our preaching of the truth.

Continue to pray for our preparations for the DCF elections. The exec has started challenging several students to pray for God's leading for next year's fellowships. Please journey with us in prayer so that we can sensitively respond to God's voice in the area of leadership.

Other than this, we are also busy preparing for the February Banquet Night and Ladies and Gents Night. Our Alumni Association has expressed a desire to partner with the students in this event. I praise God for that! They will be providing couples as speakers in the fellowship. We're also inviting you to join us at the Banquet Night on Februrary 28. More details to follow.

After the simple GA, the ladies and gents will separate into two groups to continue discussing relevant issues on love, courtship, marriage and sex. The ladies will go to Ate Flor's house while the gents will stay at DCBC's student center.


On a personal note, please pray for me as I continue to help our local church's afternoon service. We had a whole-day meeting last Friday to iron out the different committees. I'm currently assigned in the Tech Team, tasked to take care of the AVPs every Sunday. We're five in the team with three students on board. May this simple ministry be used to further God's work on campus.

We have several plans in mind but they're still plans as of the moment. We'll be meeting soon to concretize  our ideas for the church.


Finally, I want to thank God for the free leadership training we joined on Saturday. Five DCFers were present together with students from the Living Word Christian Fellowship from the Quezon Province. Kuya Caloy invited us to the training spearheaded by "Ignite: Leading Like Jesus."

I enjoyed the session on Fear and Pride the most. It was a wonderful reminder to always check my heart's motivation in leadership. When fear or pride take the center stage, I can be sure that terrible consequences are coming. I must always be motivated by a genuine love for God and other people in order to lead like Jesus.

Aside from the leadership principles, the event also gave us opportunities to be reconnected with our friends from SLSU Tiaong and Lucban. We had a Missions Exposure Trip with them last October, and the leadership conference served as our reunion after three months. I'm blessed to see our partners in ministry growing in their faith.

Roy, SLSU Tiaong's President also updated me on the fruits of our trip in Tagkawayan. A regular Bible Study fellowship has started with Ate Nocel, SLSU's worker in the area, taking the lead. It's always encouraging to recognize that God gave us a part in that blooming fellowship. I'm thankful to have served Him in the building of His Kingdom in the Quezon Province.

Thank you for reading! I'll update you next week! God bless!

In Christ,

Pau

Chronicles of a Staff Worker (Week 3 Jan 2014)


I spent most of my week at home because of flu. In fact, I slept most of the time, giving my body time to heal.

What started as sneezing and runny nose on Wednesday ended up immobilizing me on bed for the rest of the week. I had muscle and joint pains, headache, fever, cough and colds. But I am a lot better now. The fact that I can now update you means I'm out of my bed and am now typing this blog post.

I want to thank God because He is my Jehovah Rapha (The Lord our Healer). Though most of the time I was asleep and wasn't able to talk to Him, I knew that He heard the prayers of everyone who interceded for me. I am humbled because I felt the support and love of people from our church, my family, friends, my students and even my college classmates.

The words of encouragement and prayers gave me a full heart even when I was bed-ridden at home.

The few things I was able to do this week included my Bible study with freshmen from the Molave dorm. We're doing a series on evangelism in our small group. We looked at the motivations for sharing Jesus as well as our part and God's in evangelism.

I always emphasize that love for God should motivate us rather than fear or guilt. At the same time, we must always desire God's glory as the end result of all our evangelism.

Immediately after our SG, I went on to join Lads and Gay to apply our lesson. Every Monday, DCF shares Jesus to students in the dorms and the Sunken Garden. The program is called "Sheep Among Wolves" or SAW.

God opened wonderful Gospel opportunities for me that day. I was able to talk to three freshmen from the University of the East. They were very polite and listened intently to what I was sharing.

One of the students was very much interested. He kept asking questions and clarifying things. He later revealed that he used to have interactions with several religious groups that's why he was so interested with the subject. Please pray that God will water and nurture the seeds of truth planted in his heart. I'm praying to be reconnected with this group even just through Facebook.

I also met another Christian, a helper who was waiting for her alaga who had a swimming lesson in the nearby UP swimming pool. We had a wonderful time of conversation. She told me that she could not find a church near their place in Pasig. Please pray that she can find a community of believers there. She also had no Bible of her own. I wanted to give her one, but I'm hoping I can meet her again this week for the Bible. The good thing is I have her contact number so I can ask her if she is on campus.

While sharing in the Sunken Garden, Gay had the chance to witness to a student who joins the "god the mother" group in UP. Their conversation lasted almost an hour. We've long since interacted with this group, helping the students whom they've recruited understand the Bible more clearly, rather than simply using verses out of context.

Please pray that God will open their eyes to Jesus so that they can find satisfaction in Him alone rather than in any other man-made teachings or philosophies.


In the afternoon of the same day, I went to our small group in the Philippine Science High School-Diliman. I've been volunteering in ACTS Pisay for the past three years. I have a group of Juniors in my SG and I'm working with Ate Jean from the Capitol City Baptist Church.

We've decided to talk about the New Life as we entered the new year. This series is a follow up for the new and the young believers in our group. But it is also effective for continuing Gospel discussions with those who don't have a relationship with Jesus yet.

During that particular Monday, the Pisay community was busy preparing for a school-wide fair. Most of my students could not come because they're rushing projects and requirements for the event. Two attended, however-- JC and Michael.

I'm blessed by one of Michael's reflections after our meeting. He saw the importance of living out our faith in Jesus as a testimony to those around us. This meant always being intentional to radiate Christlikeness in everything we do, everyday.

He even noted that when a professing believer lives a life contrary to Jesus' teachings, he taints Jesus' Name. His wonderful realizations bring me to Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." This is also my prayer for all the students I'm teaching at Pisay. Though they are still young, I pray that God set them up on the way of Truth that they will never depart from it until their dying days.

At the close of Monday, I joined DCF's prayer meeting at the Centennial Dormitory. This is our first prayer meeting for the year to dedicate to God all our plans for 2014. Many of the praise items have to do with the Christmas vacation. The students were grateful for the rest and family bonding last December.

At the start of this year, however, they were greeted by numerous academic requirements and tests. So, it's not a surprise that many of the prayer items dealt with exams, papers and theses. As a ministry, DCF's entering its election phase. The biggest prayer item is for God to raise up leaders for the next generation.

The dorm ministry has always been student-led. Please pray that the younger ones will catch this vision even as they are challenged to stand up for greater leadership roles next year.

Because of my flu, I was only able to attend one fellowship this week. Yakal opted for a birthday surprise for MC, our vice-chair 1, on Tuesday evening. They had a simple celebration with the famous DCF birthday song, a cake, Bible verses and words of encouragement.


On Wednesday evening, the Centennial Christian Movement held its first formal fellowship this year. It was the kick-off of a new series on the Names of God vis-a-vis our common misconceptions of His nature. We've been praying for greater coordination in the Cente dorm last week. Praise God! They were able to meet and really plan how to go about their fellowship in a more organized manner.

We'll be starting with Jehovah-Jireh this week, clarifying what it meant that God is our Provider versus He is our personal Genie. Please pray for the last-minute preparations and that we can also invite friends to the fellowship.

After Wednesday, I was at home most of the time, bed-ridden because of flu. But God granted me healing on Saturday. I was able to meet Christian, a freshman from Cente, for our weekly Bible Study. We're learning the OIA method of studying the Bible. This was his request so that he can grow more in his understanding of God's Word.

It was Christian's birthday yesterday! If you know him, you can still greet him a belated Happy Birthday!

Then on the afternoon, I joined our local church's evangelistic event at the Sunken Garden. We called it, "No Ordinary Picnic." The idea was for the congregation to gather in fellowship at the Sunken Garden while a number of us go out and share Jesus. It was a simple step of reaching out to the Diliman Community, but one that left me truly blessed.

I went with Eden, the daughter of our Tagalog pastor. Eden was my ever supportive prayer warrior. While I shared the Gospel, she was very fervent in praying. She gave the comment that we met so many kind people in our witnessing. I encouraged her by saying that they were God's answers to our prayer requests.

We'll be doing the NOP once a month. Pray with me that more from our local church can join us.


Thank you for reading. Please continue to pray for healing. I developed a cough after the flu. Ask God that He will clean my lungs and restore my health. God bless you all!

A snapshot in the life of o:)


My earliest memory of him travels back more than a decade ago. It was a sunny day and we were   inside a room with our school's directress. I think it was because of a contest that we were gathered. There were other students with us but I could no longer recall any of them.

For some reason, I remembered him. He was a quiet boy, sitting by himself in one corner of the room. I was already in high school, then, and he was still in elementary. At hindsight, I think he was shy because he was in the company of upperclassmen. But I would not really know.

I am also quite reserved, so I never had the chance to interact with him. Not a word.

The next thing I can remember is a tricycle ride. We left our elementary school going to one of the public schools in our city where the contest was to be held. We rode in groups of four or three, and I was with him together with a teacher. He took the back ride while I sat inside the tricycle.

I do not recall why I took the safer seat though I was the older student. Maybe I was not mature enough then to realize that I had responsibility over younger pupils.

Abruptly, my memory of him ends in that tricycle ride. I did get his name when we all introduced earlier-- Angel Faith.

I got the pronoun right. Angel Faith is a guy. His name is quite unusual for a male. That's what I first thought as well. I later found out that all three siblings had “Angel” for a first name. They only differed  in their second names-- Faith, Hope and Love.

For Bible geeks out there, 1 Corinthians 13:13 easily jumps out, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I haven't really confirmed if their names came from the verse, but I think they did.

Fast forward to 2012. From that last memory in the tricycle, I was about to meet Angel again after a very long time. How were we reconnected? One word. College. My last memory of him was of a quiet elementary pupil, then, there was a big leap. He was about to enter Ateneo de Manila with a Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences.

I expected nothing less from their high school batch's ace student.


I graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2010 but continued to live on campus. So  I made it my unofficial duty to help students from my high school who entered either UP or Ateneo. I've been doing this since 2009.

That's how I got in touch with Angel or Gel, as some fondly call him. We agreed to meet one time in June 2012 so I could tour him around UP's flagship campus. In turn, he would also tour me in Ateneo at a latter date.

We had a number of correspondences via text and Facebook until we finally settled on a Sunday. The quiet boy a few years back had become more talkative... at least on cyberspace.

I met him on a Sunday afternoon. He was a lot taller than I last remembered, much taller than me, in fact. His growth spurt seemed to have stretched his body vertically, making him lanky. His jawbone was more prominent now, giving him angular features on his face. His hair was also curlier than I remembered.

I called out to him when he alighted from the jeepney. That was our first real interaction. I figured that Gel was still a bit quiet in person, a "man of few words," as the poets of the old would say. Yet he was a keen listener, processing every bit of information I told him.

I soon realized that his moments of silence and serious look were processing time. I did not know that at first, so I thought he disagreed with some of the things I was telling him. Yet as the seconds of conversation turned to hours and days, I understood that he enjoyed dissecting ideas, thoughts and words before giving his own opinions-- a deep thinker.


In Ateneo, he involved himself with cause-oriented groups. One of his organizations focused on children in  urban poor areas in Manila. They would spend time teaching and mentoring these kids, journeying with them out of poverty.

His dedication and love for these children always inspire me. Once he shared that they had to go and check on the community they were helping because of the floodings happening in the Metro. They made sure that the children and their families were okay, so they visited and helped them even if the weather had not yet cleared.

He has one profile picture on Facebook that captures this passion best. It was their organization's Christmas event and they were giving their adopted communities a treat. Gel posed beside one of his orgmates while carrying on piggy-back a young boy of around eight. Though he hunched at the weight of the boy, on his face was still the signature pursed-lips smile. The small boy behind him also gave a sweet smile of contentment and joy.


Yet Gel doesn't stop there. His passion for people is also evident in his active involvement with the humanitarian group, Gawad Kalinga. He frequents GK's house builds, going as far as Nueva Ecija up north just to help build decent houses for indigent Filipinos. He even spent his last birthday “GK site hopping,” serving people even during his special day.

I want to share what he posted after one of his GK builds last December. He writes, “I think this picture best summarizes my day today. 'Lundagin mo beybe!'” Then he adds the photo below to cap the experience.


For all his seeming reservations, Gel is actually an outgoing person. He loves trying new things,  but still has a soft spot for the old ones he has grown to love. Take his high school friends for example. Though most of his barkada went on to continue their schooling in our province in La Union, he never forgot to reconnect with them when time permitted.

This usually meant breaks-- summer, Christmas and semestral. They always find time to go outing when everyone's in the province. Whether it be on the beach, on a swimming pool, visiting our old high school or simply eating out in one of the fast-food chains in San Fernando City, it did not matter.

He may have successfully made new friends in Ateneo, but Gel keeps true to the old song that goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.”


Finally, his sketch would be incomplete without mentioning Gel as the son and the big brother. His dad, Tito Rex, works abroad in the Middle East for some time now. This may explain Gel's independence in many ways. Despite the distance, however, Gel's relationship with him never suffered. They had a father-and-son bond that no distance or time can break.

As proof of that, he considers him "one of the greatest gifts God has given me, my family, and this world."

I also remember Gel telling me that he opens up to his dad about many things, but he is among the few people he can talk to about spiritual topics.

Yup, Angel Faith is very active in church. He had been an altar boy in our high school and continues to serve when he has the time in Ateneo. I think this is also what drew us together. I, myself, am interested in spiritual things about God, the Bible and Jesus among others.


His mom, Tita Jocel, works in the Philippines. Because Angel and his sister are already in college, she's usually alone in the province. I have not really asked Gel about his mom yet so I can only share a little about her, but this one thing I can say. She has been very supportive of Angel Faith early on, perhaps explaining his courage in experimenting with the new and the challenging.

In one mother's day message, I got a glimpse of Gel's affection for his mom. He writes as introduction,"Para sa pinakamamahal naming Inay, walang katulad walang kapantay, walang kapares, walang kasingdakila't mas lalong walang kasingganda. Happy Mother's Day! We love you! o:)" Then in another lengthy message, he altered several lines from famous Pinoy movies to fit a mother's day message.

One example is a line from the movie, "One More Chance." In honor of his mom, he edited it to read, "She loved me at my worst. She had me at my best, at kahit isang beses, hindi niya binalewala ang lahat… And she never chose to break my heart.”




And as to his younger sister, Gel has been her guardian ever since she entered college in the University of Sto. Tomas. He is protective of Angel Love, finding ways to spend time with her as she adjusts in her first year of college.

They spend time eating together and making selfies together. From their photos alone, one can see the closeness of the siblings. Angel Love even posts as a birthday greeting, “Dahil sobrang gwapo ng kuya ko kahit sino o ano pa ang itabi sa kanya. Akalain mong kinaya ng mundo ang isang Angel Faith!? ...Love you pogi!”


These things are only a fragment of the life of Gel. Of course it did not take that one meeting for me to know all these information about him. It took dozens of other meetings and conversations and texts and chats. And my impressions of him are borne out of personal observations these past two years. I'm a trained journalist after all!

But beyond the countless hours of exchanging thoughts about faith and life in general, our meet ups always had endings. When he rides back to Ateneo after spending some time in UP, I always utter a simple prayer-- that God would protect Gel and draw him closer to Himself day after day.

Why did I remember him from back then? I still don't have the answers. But perhaps God allowed it so that I can immortalize in words today a snapshot of Angel Faith's journey as he once more ventures into a new year of his life.

Happy Birthday! o:)
----

This may be long overdue but I've picked two quotes from Christian author C.S. Lewis for a summary of my birthday greeting.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

Thanks for the friendship! God bless you always! :)



Chronicles of a Staff Worker (Week 1-2 Jan 2014)

Dear Praying Friends,

The first two weeks of 2014 have come and gone. So many things are happening on campus that I can barely keep up, let alone update you of God's ministry in the dorms in UP Diliman. But God is faithful, and He has kept me able in my service to UP students.

The past 14 days are full of blessings and challenges. With the start of the new year, I am witnessing the beginning of a new generation in DCF. The once young and shy lower years are now taking leadership responsibilities in the different dorms.

Jasper (in red) celebrated his birthday with us. His father and relatives joined us.

This is especially true with the sophomore batch in charge of the freshmen fellowship. Just a year ago, they were the "babies" of DCF, but now, they are taking care of first years from the Kalayaan and Molave dorms. They are also slowly transitioning the freshmen ministry into the hands of the younger batch as they prepare to serve in the upperclassmen dorms.

Please pray for the sophomore batch so that God will preserve their testimony. May they also have a heart to reach out to their dormmates and classmates with the Gospel.

By the way, the changes in the dorm admission have blurred the dorm fellowship distinctions. We were used to having unique identities based on our dorm fellowships in DCF. Younger DCFers, however, are defined more by their batches now rather than their fellowships. This has been the case because most of the residents have been constantly changing dorms every year.

God has also blessed us with very active freshies. We have a mixed group of young men and ladies coming from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds. I say they are active because it has been a while since I last witnessed freshies joining stranger evangelism in DCF. It is a joy to see even the young ones taking part in the expansion of God's Kingdom.

I don't remember joining evangelistic events when I was a freshman. I wasn't even active back then. But for this batch, I thank God for enabling them to boldly approach strangers to share Jesus. Of course I remind them that we are not after the numbers. Instead, we share because we want Jesus to be lifted high. We want people to meet the Jesus of the Bible, and prayerfully decide to trust Him as personal Lord and Savior.

In an age when most campus ministries go for the numbers, I encourage them to aim for faithfulness, instead. Pray that by God's grace, we can faithfully proclaim Him in words and deeds in the contexts of our lives.

Lads, DCF's chairperson, has spearheaded a weekly dorm and campus witnessing. We do it on a Monday from 10 am to 3 pm. We go around the dorms and at the Sunken Garden sharing about Jesus to everyone we meet. You can also join us if you're free. Your presence will be a great encouragement to the DCFers.

The upperclassmen fellowships in Yakal, Sampa-Kamia and Cente are also continuing. There's a noticeable decline in attendance compared to my time as student in DCF, but God is faithful and has continued to bring people to the fellowship.

On a positive note, discipleship through small-group Bible Studies were strengthened this academic year. We made a curriculum that covers topics about Jesus, Hermeneutics, Evangelism and Doctrines. It is now slowly being implemented, and a number of upperclassmen have started using it in their Bible Studies. Please pray that all DCFers will have a Bible Study group to help them deepen their faith and relationship with God.

(L-R: Elaine, Mylie, Jeanette)

Remember the Sampa and Kamia Fellowships in prayer. Ask God to send people who are willing to help in the ladies' dorm ministry. There are several Christians in these dorms but most are busy with their own endeavors. We praise God that we are given specific ministries, but we desire to be used as instruments in uniting these efforts to reach the dormers of the ladies fellowship.

If you have free time every Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 pm, I invite you to join their fellowship. You can also volunteer as a speaker or a Bible study leader. The ladies dorms need as much help from able and willing hearts as possible.

(L-R: Joseph, Jm, Shalom, Josiah, Soren, Warren and Bry)

The Cente Dorm needs to be more organized. Please pray for wisdom and sensitivity to God's direction for the leaders . I'm also praying that they can soon involve the younger members of the fellowship. I noticed that those who got involved were the ones who fully understood the ministry cause and cost. Most of the time, they grew in their faith faster than those who simply attended the gatherings.

I remember our church's thrust for Full Employment. I also pray for full employment for every DCFer, not just in Cente.

(L-R: Lads, Mark Neil, Chester)
Back in Yakal, Lads is working hard with Mark Neil, YCF's dorm core head. I can visit them more often now ever since Cente moved their fellowship on a Wednesday. Yakal is hosting a number of female Tacloban students until the end of the semester. Though the fellowship is still mostly males (Yakal was all-male until recently) we are praying for opportunity to reach out to the Taclobanons in Yakal. There are no specific plans yet, so pray for wisdom for Lads and YCF.

God also blessed Yakal with two freshmen attendees, though only one has consistently joined the meetings. Please pray that there will be urgency in the hearts of the YCFers to connect with their roommates. Ask God to open opportunities for Gospel conversation in Yakal.

This pretty much covers the happenings in the past two weeks. I hope to update you weekly so that you can partner with me in prayer.

On a personal note, please pray that I can offer 2014 as a year of prayer to God. Pray also that God will be gracious as I seek to walk in holiness and purity for His glory.

Thank you so much! God bless you all!

In Christ,

Pau T.

Paradoxes: Encouraging the UPCC to Share Jesus

Paradoxes UP Christian Community

I'm uploading the message I shared in the first Koinonia Night (K-Night) of the UP Christian Community for AY 2013-2014. This is a reflection on the persecution experienced by Stephen and the believers in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 7:54-8:4. 

I pray that this message will encourage everyone in the UP Christian Community to passionately share Jesus. It is a timely message especially at the start of UPCC's Jesus-Weeks (Dec. 5-18) when every Christian in UP is called to join the sharing of the Gospel on campus. We hope to partner with all of you in God's work in UP Diliman. 

Feel free to listen and share the message. May God alone be glorified!



This is the video mentioned in the podcast. Watch it before continuing with the message.



You can read the outline of the message below. You can share it freely to your friends.





Onward to Tagkawayan


20 years is a very long time. A newborn baby would have bid farewell to his teenage years at 20. A fledgling business would have become well-known after 20 years. Two decades equal 20 years or a "score" as in Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," "Four score and seven years ago..."

But for us at the UP Dormitories Christian Fellowship (UPDCF), 20 years signify our sovereign God's faithfulness to the Missions Exposure Trip (MET).  From its beginnings in 1994, God has enabled generation after generation of DCFers to go out into different parts of the Philippines to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Based on available data and interviews with alumni, I've compiled a list of the different provinces, cities and municipalities God has blessed through the MET. They are as follows:

1994: Calapan, Mindoro
1995: Lucena, Quezon
1996: Catanauan, Quezon
1997: Manaoag, Pangasinan
1998: Benguet
1999: Sorsogon City, Sorsogon
2000: Daraga, Legazpi
2001: Mindoro
2002: Sta. Maria, Isabela
2003: Antique and Guimaras
2004: Irosin, Sorsogon
2005: Amulung, Cagayan
2006: Lucban, Quezon
2007: Sibalom, Antique
2008: Sta. Maria, Isabela
2009: Infanta, Quezon
2010: Sta. Maria, Boac, Marinduque
2011: Catanauan, Quezon
2012: Sorsogon City, Sorsogon

And this October 15-22, 2013, the executive committee and Kuya Caloy Novisteros decided to help a pioneering church-based campus ministry in Tagkawayan, Quezon.


This will be my sixth Missions Expo since my sophomore days in UP Diliman, and I can attest to the transforming power of the Gospel both in the lives of the team and the communities we visit.

1 John 4:10 and 19 serve as the MET team's battle cry this year. Here we read two of the most striking verses about "agape" or unconditional love penned by the Apostle John, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins...We love because he first loved us."

God defined love as Jesus' ultimate sacrifice for the human race. Motivated by this love, we also share Christ to people who don't know Him yet so that they too may take part of the joy of salvation. The truth is, unless God loved us first, called us first, we would be unable to respond to the Gospel. It is truly purely by grace that we are saved.



As with last year's MET, several activities have been lined up to bless the communities we'll be visiting. At the heart of the Missions Trip is a day-long campus evangelism. We will be visiting the Katimo National High School and the Kinatakutan National High School to share Jesus on campus and in the classrooms.

Please pray with us so that the school principals and officials will open the schools to the team. Pray also for adequate preparations and training for each team member, especially for those who are joining the first time.


We will also invite the students to a whole day seminar on love, sex and marriage using the "True Love Waits" curriculum. The talks and activities aim to give the students Biblical foundations on these three crucial issues. It is our desire to see the attendees committing themselves to a life of purity as they wait on God's perfect plan for their lives.



Other than the campus, the team will also be sent to the community to do house-to-house evangelism. This usually happens in the neighborhood where the team stays. In the past years, I found this kind of evangelism more challenging because people do not readily open their houses to strangers.

We ask for your prayers, then, so that God will soften the hearts of the people in the community. Pray also that the Lord will embolden the team so that they can share the Gospel clearly and powerfully to the people they'll encounter.


The last evangelistic activity involves a ministry originally started by Kuya Dave Griffiths in the Philippines. Kuya Dave is a British Missionary who spent several years helping the dorms fellowships. He brought the Beach Missions (BM) in the country almost four years ago.

The BM is originally designed to engage locals and tourists who flock the Philippine beaches during the Holy Week. We included the BM in our MET last year because Sorsogon City has several coastal barangays.
Instead of foreigners, however, we ministered to more locals who live just around the area.


Because we're going to help a church-planting effort in Tagkawayan, I'm not sure if there is an established youth fellowship that can partner with us there, but we have still prepared a night of worship and fellowship. This is our way of strengthen and encouraging one another to continue God's work in our individual Jerusalems.

Songs and Biblical exhortations will fill the program. This will also help recharge our spiritual batteries as we continue to minister to the community.


And at the end of the entire MET, the team will spend time relaxing and resting in preparation for the long journey home. The RnR (rest and recreation) is usually a simple fellowship where the entire team shares about God's mighty workings throughout the trip. It is during this time that we echo back God's goodness through our individual experiences in sharing the Gospel and leading people to Christ.

~*~

In this 20th year of the Missions Exposure Trip, I invite you all to journey with us. Journey with the 40-member team in prayer and giving. Pray especially as we begin to invite people to join the trip. Pray also as we start to raise funds for the needed Php 150,000 for this year's MET.

It may seem a large amount, but God has been faithful these past 19 years, we're confident that He will again provide for His work in Tagkawayan, Quezon.

Pray for the workers who have gone ahead of us and will be staying long after we've finished the Missions Trip. May God ever empower them to continue proclaiming His Name in their Jerusalem.

Finally, pray for all of us in DCF and the Living Word Christian Fellowship (LWCF), our partner ministry from Lucban, Quezon. May God prepare us for this ministry. May God transform lives through this ministry. May we learn to love the Gospel more, share it more and live it more not only in MET communities but most especially in our campuses, dorms, families, churches, neighborhood and classrooms.

To God be all the glory, honor and praise!

~*~

If you're interested to join, please fill up this FORM
If you want to help in any way, please contact me directly at 09265531527.

Dis-a-fear: When fear meets God



 Listen to a talk I gave among freshmen on the issue of fear. Though originally the topic covered overcoming fears of college life, I chose to zoom out and talk about fear itself. How can one overcome fear? Not by one's power or might but by God's enabling alone. This talk also looked into the source of fear and the importance of having God as the foundation of one's life. May you be blessed, encouraged and challenged!




Reconsidering Discipleship


Note: I shared this message at a fellowship among university students living in the dorms. May you be blessed! Click on this link if you want to hear the recorded message.


Discipleship is Worship

Let me begin by saying that discipleship is worship. Why worship? Because in discipleship, we give God the glory He deserves as we submit to His will of sanctification. Sanctification is that part of salvation when the Holy Spirit slowly transforms us into more like Jesus in speech, deeds, thoughts and actions.

Note that Justification is that moment when we cross-over from death to life, from being enemies to being sons and daughters of God because by God’s grace we are enabled to put our faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-10). It happens instantaneously. In a moment. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a life-long process of being transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus.

Unless we are justified—we have entered into that saving relationship with Jesus—He will not sanctify us. Finally, when Jesus Christ returns, our salvation becomes complete! No more sin, no more corruptible bodies. We may adopt the word “perfect” as we describe the fulfillment of God’s planned salvation story in our glorification (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). All by grace. 

If we are to position discipleship, I believe that it falls mainly on the sanctification part of our salvation. Discipleship is one of God’s ways—if not God’s major means—of sanctifying us. It is worship because as we disciple or as we are discipled, we honor, obey and trust God by submitting to His ways for our sanctification.

Grace in Discipleship

Let us not forget that this whole idea of discipleship, and this process of sanctification still relies on the mercy and grace of God. It succeeds not because we have the best tools, nor the most trained staff, nor the most passionate people, nor the most innovative system. No. It succeeds because the God who began a good work in us “will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).”

The keyword here is grace, coupled by one of God’s most wonderful attributes, faithfulness. We are commonly admonished to be faithful to God, but by simply examining our lives, we can all admit that many times, we’ve failed on this. However, there is this “trustworthy saying” in 2 Timothy 2:13 that goes, “if we are faithless”—we do not believe, or we are in a state of unbelief—“he (God) will remain faithful for he cannot disown himself.”

God’s faithfulness is dependent on His character and not our circumstances. That’s why when Scripture says He will carry on the good work He began in us Christians and complete it, our assurance is not on our goodness, but on who God is. He is faithful because it is His nature.

Thus, if you know you are justified by grace through faith in Jesus, you will surely be sanctified one way or another.  
Discipleship does not make you more of a Christian

Now, discipleship is not a means of making us “more saved” or “more Christian” than other Christians. No. Scripture is clear in Acts 16:31 that when we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are saved. This means that when we trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, turning from sin and rebellion to complete submission to the Son of God, we are fully and wholly saved.

We are saved in whole and not in chunks. Thus, it is simply either you are saved or you are not. You cannot be in the middle. You cannot be saved today and doomed tomorrow. Once you are saved, once you’re in, you’re in (John 10:28).

In this regard, we see that though Christians are in varying stages of Christlikeness, they are all saved, provided that they’ve been truly justified, that they have “truly accepted Jesus into their hearts,” to borrow a modern way of saying it.

Thus, discipleship is not a means of making you more of a Christian, but a result of your being a Christian. Because discipleship is one of God’s ways of sanctifying us—our minds, hearts, attitudes, our whole being—into Christlikeness, it is and must be natural for all  and any saved individual to desire, hunger, long for Bible-based discipleship one way or another.

Salvation = Desire to know more of God

When Paul wrote, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17),” I see a miraculous transformation. In an instant, God puts in our hearts a sudden love for the things God loves and hatred for the things God hates. There is a sudden hunger and desire to know God, to understand everything about Him, to understand His Word.

Have you ever been with new believers? Have you felt their infectious and bursting passion for God? Or do you remember that moment when you first became a believer? I certainly miss that overflowing awe and wonder I felt when I first believed in Jesus. God literally drew me to Himself! I wanted to learn everything about Him overnight. I wanted to finish reading His Word the fastest way possible. I wanted to master all the doctrines and teachings I could master. I wanted to know Him. I wanted to experience Him daily. I wanted to hear His voice. I wanted Him so much! I could not describe the feeling. It’s far better than the feeling of being in loved.

I can distinctly remember that even before I became a Christian, a number of people already invited me to join their Bible Studies. I could remember, in fact, that when I was a freshman (I wasn’t a Christian yet, then), I attended three Bible Studies. I had so many not because I was so passionate for the Lord. I had so many because I didn’t know how to say, “No.”

Though I had three, I was clever enough to evade at least two in a week, and just go through the motions of the last one. My disinterest in God’s Word which is central in discipleship was clear evidence that I was not saved at all. But when I came to know Jesus, that’s the time I hungered for His Word. I genuinely desired Bible Studies. I sought disciplers and discipleship. I no longer evaded but longed to learn about and grow in God.

A Christian Not Being Discipled

How about the phenomenon of Christians not being discipled? If the person is a genuine believer and he or she evades discipleship for whatever reason, there is clearly disobedience to God. But remember that when I say discipleship I’m not thinking exclusively of structured discipleship processes. I use the word discipleship to mean avenues of learning more about Jesus and growing deeper in our faith relationship with Him and with fellow Christians.

If a genuine believer evades these discipleship avenues, then his or her sanctification is compromised. God will still be able to sanctify the person through other means, but it will take longer, more painful even. The elementary truths that would have renewed his mind and transformed his actions may be learned through painful experiences, as God sees fit.

And because he will learn more slowly, he will be limited in his service to God and fellow believers. He will miss out on the great joy of salvation here on earth—being able to give oneself fully in the service of the Lord (Psalm 100). And as a matter of warning, even if you’re already a Christian, assured of heaven and eternity, you will still stand before the Most Holy God. God says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

What will God judge us of? How have we lived our lives as believers?

But what do we do with these Christians who run away from discipleship? Never give up on them. Pray for them! Pursue them!

What if you are this Christian? Listen to what God says in Hebrews 6:1, “…let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” May you not be contented with only what you know. When Jesus admonished us to love God with all our being (Luke 10:27), He specifically mentioned that we Love God…with all our mind. People have missed on the depths of God’s glory because they’re contented with milk and not the meat of Scriptures, and they never reach that stage when God’s Word is as honey to them.

When you hear God’s Word preached in fellowship or in church, you will learn a lot. But there are a lot more in stored when you make time for discipleship. In that small circle of believers, you can ask and challenge, you can share and care, you can open up and be accountable. You enter into a community, you journey together into knowing more about God. I tell you, this is one of the few experiences that I will never trade for anything else in the world.   

The Aim of Discipleship

But why are doing all these? Because we want to reach Col. 1:28 “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

Our goal must be to present everyone mature in Christ. By whatever means possible, let us strive and work to achieve this. And it is not easy, I tell you.

Discipleship should replicate Christlikeness—renewed minds, equipped hands for ministry, transformed hearts. This is a bit of a warning for all of us handling Bible Studies (T-Groups, Shepherding Groups, Small Groups). Discipleship is not a simple mentorship. You should not be producing disciples who are dependent on you, their discipler. You should not be producing disciples who are your clones—laughing at the same joke, frowning on the same movies, having the same mannerisms. No!

As someone involved in discipleship, it has always been my desire to point everyone I teach to Jesus and make them realize that we should all run to Jesus, we should all learn about Him, we must all depend on Him, we must draw strength and inspiration from Him, we must all be like Him. This is also the reason why I seldom or almost never call anyone my disciple, because we are all disciples of the one Great Discipler—Jesus Christ.

A Final Note

There is a reason why Paul told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” The reason is continuity. God desires that every generation of believers will grow in their relationship with Jesus so that He can use them to lead and guide the next generation of believers.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is also very telling. We read, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…”

I am actually overstaying if you may. In DCF, this is no longer my generation. My generation ended in 2010. But I stayed because I felt that I have not yet fulfilled Colossians 1:28 to the best of my abilities. I urge you, however, to take the lead, not to depend on me, but to take the bold strides of faith in discipleship.

Do not miss out on your generation’s great privilege of discipling the younger generation. And to the younger generations, be excited and prepare yourselves as the helm will be passed on to you very soon. Don’t worry, because all these will come to pass, by the grace and mercy of God. Amen.

Your Lord and King (Luke 18:18-23)

Writer's Note: I gave this talk to the graduating class of the UP College of Education during their graduation ecumenical service.

Image source: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kuj0v0RcGN1qzlw80.jpg

I have discovered from the preaching of one influential Christian Apologist and Philosopher, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, that there is a very effective way of identifying Easterners (from a Eurocentric perspective this includes Asians, Middle Eastern People among others) from Westerners (Americans, Englishmen) if one is speaking to a multi-cultural group.

And I will illustrate this by means of his experience. One time, Dr. Zacharias was asked to speak in the United Nations before hundreds of representatives from countries all over the world. As he began his talk, he opened by saying, “I will tell you a story…”

From his vantage point he saw that representatives from the Middle East, East Asia, South East Asia, the Eastern half of the globe were suddenly leaning forward, concentrating  and looking more intently at him. This was as opposed to the almost unchanged expression and countenance of the Western representatives.

The key element there is the word “STORY.” We love stories as a people. And living in the context of the Middle East, it is not surprising that Jesus Himself used stories when He taught. We are all Easterners here, and so I choose to leave with you a story as you leave the walls of this university.  

But this story is not a product of my imagination. It is a historic narrative in the life of Jesus as recorded by Dr. Luke, the evangelist. For those of you who would want to read it after, it is found in Luke 18:18-23, in the Bible.

The Rich Young Ruler

Let me tell you the story… One time, a young ruler of the Jewish Sanhedrin, this is like a council or a court of justice during the New Testament Times, who was very rich went to Jesus and talked to Him. The Gospel of Mark notes that he ran up to Jesus and even fell on his knees as he spoke to Him, saying “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus, standing there, looked at him and saw beyond the fa├žade. He answered back, challenging the rich young ruler’s words, “Good Master…,” because He knew that the young ruler had neither the faith nor the understanding of Jesus’ identity to back the confession, “Good Master…”

And so He answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” That was Jesus’ way of saying, “You call me Good Master, but do you know who I am? Do you know that I am the Son of God (Matthew 16:16), the exact representation of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3), that the fullness of the Deity dwells in me in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)? 

But before the rich ruler had the time to answer, Jesus turns to his main question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And He quotes a very familiar set of commands as reply. “You know the commandments,” Jesus said, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”

These are five of the 10 Commandments recorded in Exodus 20—Commandments number five through nine or the man-ward commandments. These deal with how one should treat his or her fellow human being in the sight of God.

Upon hearing this, the rich young ruler blurted out, “All these I have kept since I was a boy.” His claim was that he never committed adultery, he never murdered anyone, he never stole anything, never gave false testimonies against anyone and he always honored his father and mother.

Interestingly, Jesus never disputed the young man’s claims. But the key to their conversation was what He left out from the 10 Commandments—the First, the Second, the Third, the Fourth and the Tenth. From Exodus 20, “(1) I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods before me. (2) You shall not make for yourself an image… bow down to them or worship them. (3) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord Your God. (4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. And (10) You shall not covet.”

Upon these, Jesus makes His reply and says to the rich young ruler, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The connection between the five commandments that were left out and Jesus’ recommendation for the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned and give to the poor is a HEART ISSUE. Jesus was not concerned with what the man can do so that he will inherit eternal life. Instead, He was concerned with what his heart was running after for. Jesus was concerned with what or who was sitting on the throne of the man’s heart as Lord, and as King.

We get a glimpse of the rich young ruler’s heart when, upon hearing Jesus’ response to "sell all his possessions and give to the poor,” he became not only sad, but VERY sad. Why? Because he was “a man of great wealth.”

Lessons We Learn
What do we learn from the narrative?

First what or who occupies the throne of our hearts? You see the young ruler. What was in his heart? What was he running after for? What was King and Lord, sitting on his life’s throne? The answer is great wealth. 

Commandments one through four are God-ward commandments summed up by Jesus as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).” That is, God should not just be number one, He should be the ONLY ONE occupying the throne of your life—not wealth or power, popularity or status, name, fame or beauty, politics, religion. No! God should be the only one.

Commandment number 10 has something to do with covetousness. And the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes to the Colossian Church that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Incidentally, any form of disobedience to the God-ward commandments is basically idolatry.

Second, do we know the Jesus of the Scriptures? You remember that Jesus opened with a challenge that is summed up in the question, “You call me Good Master, but do you know me?”

If the young man knew Jesus, he would have gladly given up his earthly possessions because if he did, he would have given the throne of his heart to the King of kings, the Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16), the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End (Revelations 1:8, 22:13), the True God (1 John 5:20), the Bread of Life (John 6:35; 6:48), the Savior or Messiah (Luke 2:11), the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), the Light of the World (John 8:12), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14), the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

He would have given his life to Hims who died for our sins and rose again, overpowering death itself (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

A Challenge

As you leave the university, I challenge you to think about who or what is sitting on the throne of your heart. Because that will be your foundation, the rock upon which you will stand or fall in the face of life’s struggles. Will God see riches, fame, honor, glory, pride? Or will He see Jesus enthroned rightfully where He belongs?

And I challenge you to yearn for that which produces eternal fruit (Matthew 6:19-21). May you strive for a purpose that is beyond the here and now to what is there in eternity. May God through Jesus ever so fill your hearts so that you will find peace. In my own experience, Blaise Pascal was right when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

When I was about to graduate in UP, I had the luxury of good grades, the distinct honor of graduating Magna cum Laude, valedictorian of my batch, best thesis in the College of Mass Communication, and a ready job at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But between these things and Jesus Christ, only Jesus, having a personal relationship with Him, gave me peace, security, purpose and identity. 

That is why I can say with the Apostle Paul, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil. 3:7-8).”

May you come to that point when you will also see the radiance of God in the face of Jesus that you may surrender to Him as Lord and Savior by grace through faith alone in the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).”

Amen and Amen.

The Family Challenge


Taken from: http://liveruralnl.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/family.jpg

A number of students who come to know the Lord in college often face the family challenge. By this I mean failing to reach out to one's relatives, parents and siblings with the Good News of Jesus.

This is not surprising on the one hand because my interactions with students in the past two years made me see how many of them come from essentially "broken" families. Theirs may not be a literal broken family but genuine interaction or concern among the members is essentially lacking.

Parents are too busy with their work. Siblings are focused on their academics, careers, or their peers and "barkada." There is so little room for conversation and "kamustahan" because members spend more time in front of their computers, smartphones or tablets rather than with one another.

But on the other, I find it frightening that students fail to reach out to their closest relatives and families because this shows that something's lacking in their understanding of the Gospel.

I do acknowledge, however, the difficulty of proclaiming Christ especially if you are the youngest or among the younger members of the family. Your authority is simply not there. If you have a strict father or an over bearing mother or successful siblings, what possibility is there for them to believe you?


But in the many years that I have shared Jesus in my own family, God made me realize that it's not a matter of authority or age. In the end, it's about God's grace working intricately with one's testimony and commitment to reach out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before I came to know Jesus, I practically took my family for granted. I wasn't really close with my parents and siblings because I was focused on my dreams and ambitions. Thus, when I surrendered my life to Jesus, this was one area He worked in me.

It wasn't easy. Even when I became a believer, I still found it challenging to regain the lost time and affection towards my family. But I made a commitment to do my best to reach out to them. There were times when doing so involved sacrifices and I faced them by God's grace.

I have to admit that there were times when I didn't feel like living out my commitment. But God used several circumstances and people to remind and encourage me to continue.

Just yesterday, for example, I was talking to a brother in Christ whose family is facing challenges. His commitment to love his siblings, parents and relatives coupled with his deep faith in Jesus encouraged me to continue reaching out to my own family.

He's right when he said, "Never take your family for granted. While they're there and while you can, spend time with them. Make them feel that you care."

As much as this is a reminder and a challenge to me, I also leave it as a challenge and a reminder to all student believers. Let us not forget that back in our respective homes is a family that also needs Jesus. Let us pray for them. Let us strive to cultivate deeper relationships with our parents and siblings.

May we never grow tired of loving them even if it's difficult sometimes. And if we've been hurt by those closest to us before, let us ask Christ to teach us to forgive especially now that we've received His forgiveness.

It's no mystery that among God's 10 commandments is an instruction pertaining to our parents, "Honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12)." The family is God's gift for all practical and spiritual reasons. When we were still young, God provided for us primarily through our parents.

Our first lessons in life came from them. For those who grew up in Christian homes, their first Bible studies were with their fathers and mothers.

And when we look at Jesus, we will see His concern for His earthly mother, Mary. Even in the face of death on the cross,  He remembered to entrust her to John, one of His apostles. He knew that He was leaving soon but He wanted someone to look after His earthly mother.

This is why we read in John 19:26-27, "When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, 'Woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."

May we never forget that even if we have spiritual families when we come to Christ, our biological families should remain a passion in our hearts. May we never fall in the trap of escaping from our biological families while substituting our spiritual ones for them. This has never been God's design.

I believe that for many college students who become Christians only in the university, God's purpose is for them to be salt and light in their homes. I pray that we will never miss that opportunity. Sure it is more difficult to minister there, but in the end, Christ never promised us comfort when He called, "Come follow me."

After reading this, may you offer a moment of prayer for your family. I hope that you will also join me in my commitment to reach out to my
parents, siblings and relatives for Jesus. May God bless you all!

In Christ,




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