Thursday, July 31, 2008

August Speakers for the English Worship Service (Makati Gospel Church)

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Please invite friends and relatives to join
our English Worship Service.
We meet every Sunday, 8:20AM,
at Makati Gospel Church,
7650 Dela Rosa, Makati.
For more info, call (632) 8160634.
You can also e-mail me for the location map.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Starbucks Saved His Life?

In Michael Gill’s own words, “I was born with just about every advantage you could imagine, or even wish for.”1 Born the first son of a prominent family, went to Yale, climbed the corporate ladder until he became a top executive of the world’s biggest ad agency at that time, received a six-figure salary, he got it made!

Or, so he thought. At 53, he got fired. He started a consulting company. It fizzled. Then his wife of twenty-years divorced him due to an affair where he sired a son. Then, his doctor found a brain tumor. Only Job had hit lower than that!

Gill described his morning ritual: “I was dressing up everyday with a tie. It’s sad now to think about it, but I was dressing up like I was an executive when I didn't have any work. I was surprised at my inability to cope.” Talk about hopelessness! One day, he entered a Starbucks store. That time the coffee shop was hiring. The manager approached him, “Would you like a job?” Drained and desperate, Gill could only nod.


Gill became a barista. He found it scary at first. “It’s one thing to get fired from J. Walter Thompson. It’s another thing to be fired from Starbucks because you can’t even do the basic job.” But now Gill claims he found his calling—serving others. He chronicled his life in the memoir, “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.” Gill says the book’s claim is not an exaggeration. “It’s literally true. My life for me was over. I’m so much happier serving than I ever was being served.” (By the way, his brain tumor was not life threatening.)

There’s a Son
of privilege who learned to live like everyone else, who went so much lower but not to save His life but ours. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NIV) Our Lord Jesus willingly and lovingly left the comforts of heaven to be crucified for our sins. He did not become a barista. He became our Savior. Brethren, let us share how Jesus saved our lives.

1 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/12/22/sunday/main3642078.shtml#

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dark Knight

Though I won’t recommend that kids watch it (it should be rated R for excessive violence rather than PG13), The Dark Knight is truly “a rich, multi-layered movie filled with great performances, memorable dialogue, and moral complexity.” (Gary Robinson, The Choices of Bruce Wayne, Breakpoint 7/22/08) It made blockbuster history by posting US$158.4 million in its opening weekend, beating Spiderman 3 by more than $7 million! (Heath Ledger’s untimely death after portraying the devilish Joker in the movie surely fueled much interest in the movie. But in fairness, the producers did not capitalize on his death in the promotion of the movie.) Indeed, it’s a rich movie, both literally and figuratively!

I won’t share the plot so as not to spoil the fun. But, in one scene, Batman was about to crack under pressure. His ever-loyal butler, Alfred, exhorted him, “Endure! You can be the outcast. You can make the choice that no one else will face—the right choice.” I like the lesson distilled by Breakpoint on the movie: “To attain their greatest good, he finds he must sacrifice the good will of the people he’s trying to help. …Will we move forward, heedless of what people will think or say? Or will we shrink back into the shadows of safety?” It would be wonderful when our decision is both right and popular. But, both in the reel and the real life, it’s not always together.

A parent must make the right decisions, even if their children would not agree with that judgment call. An employee should not lie for his employer, despite the threat of termination. An employer must decide to practice biblical ethics, though his business might suffer for it. A teenager must take a stance for his faith, at the expense of losing his so-called “friends.” A student ought to avoid cheating in his exams, even if it could cost him his scholarship. Life and leadership is about making the right choices, albeit unpopular and costly.

Brethren, endure!

P.S.: Please volunteer to help the Passion Manila, August 1, 730PM, PhilSports Arena (formerly ULTRA). For more details, log-on at the http://www.268generation.com/ or call Sowers at (632) 7521696.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No Story Worth Your Life?

Thanks to the Internet, even while I was in the US of A, I got to follow closely the news on the kidnapping of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon and her two cameramen by the dreaded Abu Sayaff. They went to the Sulu forest supposedly to interview Abu Sayyaf commander Radulan Sahiron. It turned out to be a ruse. One cameraman got the scare of his life when the bandits bound him and made him kneel as a prelude to beheading him. Then, the cell phone rang at that very moment with a call from the negotiators. True to their training, the cameramen secretly took footages of their ordeal, which the network aired in a recent TV documentary. After 9 days, allegedly upon payment of ransom, the bandits released them.

(Personally, it brought back memories of my work experiences with that network about a decade ago. I again realized how God faithfully kept me when we visited with Kabayan Noli De Castro the camps of the New People’s Army to interview its spokesperson, Ka Roger, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to interview its leader at that time, Hashim Salamat. Praise God that kidnapping us did not enter their minds!)

Though thankful for the release, ABS-CBN still suspended Ces Drilon for three months. It appears her immediate superiors ordered her not to proceed with the dangerous interview but she disobeyed and pushed through with it. On hindsight, Ces Drilon said, “No story is worth losing your life for.”

There is a story worth our lives. In fact, we are to invest in that story not just our time, talents and treasure but even our totality. That story is His story, the Good News of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul himself attested to that: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24, ESV) It promises eternal life to those who would put their faith in the Lord as Savior. That’s why we should not just pursue this story but share it with everyone.

Brethren, the Gospel is worth dying for!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Boon or Bane?

To hear about the persecuted church is one thing. To have a face associated with the persecuted church is another.

Last Tuesday, our cell group had the privilege of meeting Pastor Dan (name changed for security reasons) from Vietnam. He is one of the graduates of the Global Proclamation Academy. We learned firsthand how he experienced persecution because of his faith from the communist government. Though Vietnam puts a facade of religious freedom to entice investors, believers there are still being harassed. Their children are also kicked out of the public school. The authorities disturb their worship meetings. A pastor-friend recently visited Vietnam with a team to conduct trainings for pastors and church workers there. The authorities got wind of the conference. The police “invited” one of the trainers to the station and interrogated him for some hours.

Then, I recently got e-mail from another graduate of the GPA, Pastor Romy of Sri Lanka (again, name changed for security reasons). Last Sunday, a mob instigated by a local Buddhist priest attacked a church, hurting four people and damaging the church building. The police tried to intervene by arresting the priest. Then, people demonstrated in front of the police station, demanding that they release the priest. The incident happened about a kilometer away from where Pastor Romy’s church meets. But, someone just threatened the church, that if they would not stop their worship services, the same thing would happen to them. They need our prayers.

Admittedly, there are times we find it hard to identify with what’s happening to these persecuted believers because we enjoy religious freedom here in our country. According to Pastor Dan, freedom is a blessing. But, the convenience and comfort of worship can lull us to lethargy. It can end up a curse when we fail to make the most of the opportunity God gave us to multiply Biblical, committed and loving followers of Jesus Christ. It is either a boon or a bane for us. We need not wait for persecution to break out in here before we take our faith seriously.

Brethren, let us enjoy our freedom responsibly.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Stick to the Game Plane

Last Sunday, we rejoiced when Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao won the World Boxing Council lightweight crown by KO in the ninth round against Mexican David Diaz. He made history by being the first Filipino to win the title, which even the legendary Flash Elorde failed to do so. He is also the first Asian to bag four world titles in four different weight categories. (Frankly, I was afraid that he would lose due to the fact that he had to gain a few pounds to level up to lightweight category.)

“It was a masterpiece!” as one newspaper headline trumpeted it. The secret? By his own analysis, Pacquiao said he fought according to the game plan. A jab here, a jab there. In and out. Move in and move out. Never go toe-to-toe exchange of blows. That was so unlike him actually. He tried to slug it out in the past. More brawling than boxing. One sports analyst wrote, “He likes to give the crowd what they want, even at the risk of losing the fight.” But, not this time. Thus, he carved his niche in history and made all Filipinos proud.

Stick to the game plan. That’s the key not just in boxing but also in life. Keeping the main thing main. Note also that we lose in this fight of life when we try to give the crowd what they want. We cannot seek to please God and people at the same time. We cannot stick to the game plan that way.

What’s our game plan as a church in Makati Gospel Church? Our mission statement spells it out: “Glorify God By Multiplying Biblical, Committed And Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.” Every goal, every plan, every activity and even every “successful result” has to be measured according to that mission statement. That’s our main thing. We must never lose sight of our mission. Sensing his imminent death, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” In the Greek, the phrases “the good fight,” “the race” and “the faith” are emphatic. That means that no matter how much we fight or finish or keep, if it is not the good fight, the race and the faith, then we failed to stick to the game plan.

Brethren, let us stick to God’s game plan!

P.S.

Discover how to safeguard your marriage. Makati Gospel Church's Couple's Fellowship has invited Bro. Francis Kong, best-selling author and motivational speaker, to speak on "Affair Proof Your Marriage" on July 19, 2008, 730PM. For more info, please call 8160634 (Look for Sheng). It's free!