Posts

Showing posts from 2009

"Reimagining Church"

That's the title of a radical book (written by Frank Viola, “an influential voice in the contemporary house church movement”) which I am reading during this Christmas break. Though I may not agree with some of his proposals, what he pointed out regarding the practical implications of the church being an organism and not an organization resonated with my heart. God designed the church as an “authentic community.” It is rooted in the very relational, triune nature of God: “It is the unity of a community of persons who love each other and live together in harmony… They are what they are only in relationship with one another… There is no solitary person separated from the others; no above and below; no first, second, third in importance; no ruling and controlling and being ruled and controlled; no position of privilege to be maintained over against others; no question of conflict concerning who is in charge; no need to assert independence and authority of one at the expense of the oth…

He is "Bro"?

Due to a popular, local telenovela, many people now call our Lord Jesus as “Bro” (short for “brother”). It seems to be a sincere attempt to humanize God. They feel that they could get close to Him that way. I suppose there was no intention to demean Him. However, we cannot call the Lord with just any name we want. In the Bible, the name reflects the nature (character) of the person. The names that Isaiah 9:6 gave to our Lord Jesus Christ revealed His divine nature.“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (ESV)

Here He is called “Mighty God.” Cults that deny the deity of Christ try to wiggle out of its weight by saying that He is not the almighty God but only the mighty God. They usually claim that mighty is different from almighty. But Isaiah appears to be not making such a distinction. In Isaiah 10, he connected “mighty God” (v. 21…

PCEC Statement on the Maguindanao Massacre

We, members of the Evangelical community, convey our deepest sorrow and share the enormous grief and anguish of our fellow citizens in Mindanao, the whole nation, and the international community, for the tragic and untimely loss of brothers and sisters who were mercilessly murdered in broad daylight last November 23, 2009, in the municipality of Ampatuan, Maguindanao Province. There is no adequate expression of what we feel and carry in our hearts. It is a most unfortunate event.
We condemn in the strongest possible way this senseless act of carnage against unarmed and helpless civilians – women of the Mangudadatu clan, women-lawyers, media practitioners, indigenous peoples representative(s), and other members of the delegation – all were there in their line of duty, including unborn children and innocent travelers on that ill-fated day.
We lament because of this mass killing. It is a barbaric and savage act, with complete disregard to the rule of law, human rights, dignity and even s…

Brazen

At first, I was thinking of writing about the new era of the global Filipino, elated over the TKO victory of Manny Pacquiao and his record seventh belt plus the awarding of the CNN Hero of the Year to Filipino educator Efren Penaflorida for his “Kariton Klasrum” (pushcart classroom).
But news images of the brazen mass murder of innocent civilians in Baranggay Salman, at Ampatuan, Maguindanao allegedly committed by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and his private army kept flashing in my mind. The group blocked the six-car convoy of the Mangundadatus (their political rivals), their supporters and media correspondents. The Mangundadatus was on their way to file Certificates of Candidacies to challenge the Ampatuans’ grip on political power. Then the carnage ensued. The murderers did not spare even the people whose vehicles just happened to be behind the convoy. Then they hastily buried the bodies, including the vehicles, in mass graves miles apart from each other. But, when they were…

No Wang-Wang

Image
It was a Friday night. Jacqueline Siapno with her 5-year-old son, Hadomi, quietly arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. After a warm embrace with her mother, they took a cab to a Pasay bus terminal. After a five-hour bus trip to Dagupan City, they rode a tricycle to her house in Baranggay Bonuan Gueset. It simply looks like the typical homecoming of a “balikbayan” or a Filipina who returned to the country after working overseas.


But then again Siapno is not typical. According to a Phil. Daily Inquirer column, “Pinoy Kasi” (April 17, 2009), “She earned her master’s from the School of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of London and her Ph.D. from the University of California in Berkeley… Her doctoral research in Indonesia produced a book, ‘Gender, Islam, Nationalism and the State in Aceh.’ She was also associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. She teaches at the Universidade da Paz in Dili [That’s in East Timor].”

To top it all, she is Tim…

“Clarify the Win”

“Define what is important at every level of the organization. Clarify the win.”This is the first of the “7 Practices of Effective Ministry,” which Andy Stanley, founding pastor of North Point Community Church and North Point Ministries, wrote. What’s a “win” anyway?

For a basketball team, their win is not how many of their players have commercial endorsements. Every play, every pass, every rebound, every defensive and every offensive move is a means to an end: To shoot the ball into the basket. Their win is how much points they actually scored and how much points they kept their opponents from scoring. It is the scores that would determine who won and who lost. Thus, Stanley wrote, “The church should be more determined than any other kind of organization to ‘clarify the win’ simply because the stakes are so much higher: Eternity hangs in the balance.”(Ibid) If we fail to clarify our win, no matter how busy we are in our church activities, we will end up just playing church.

We sometimes…

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Our Lord Jesus asked His disciples that question. Their answer is all-important. To paraphrase what A.W. Tozer wrote, “What we believe about Christ is the most important thing about us.” Religious groups have opposing views about Him. For example, one group denies that He is God and insists that He is a man. Another counters that by saying that He is a god and not man. A group believes that Jesus is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then another group teaches that Jesus and Satan were spirit brothers. But they became enemies because God the Father chose Christ’s plan of salvation over Satan. And the divergent views go on. Thus, we need to know what we believe about Jesus and why we believe it.

Second Corinthians 11:3-4 gave this warning, “And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ. It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preached—differ…

Ghosts

It’s that time of year again when people want to be spooked. Whenever All Saints’ Day is approaching, the media usually works doubly hard to conjure ghost stories. (I should know. I’ve been there. But I made a commitment back then not to write such stories.) Were it not for Typhoon Santi and the recent political storm, we will be so flooded with these eerie tales. Yet still we read about it. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer article, Cathy C. Yamsuan wrote in her “Wandering spirits need our prayers” that “Urban legends tell us that spirits warn the living, seek justice for untimely deaths, or send a specific message.” (Oct. 31, 2009) In his book, “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult,” Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia, chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Manila, quoted Catholic mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich, “There are also souls neither in heaven, purgatory, nor hell, but wandering the earth, in trouble and in anguish, aiming at something they are bound to perform.” (Ibid)…

The Jesus of History vs. the Christ of Faith?

Though still more than 60 days away, Christmas seems to be just around the corner despite the calamities. Though there are those who will be celebrating the birth of Christ, sadly there are others also who will be criticizing it. A few years back, Newsweek came up with a cover story on “The Birth of Christ.” In that article, managing editor Jon Meacham debated the historicity of the nativity. “Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, some scholars treat the Christmas narratives as first-century inventions designed to strengthen the seemingly tenuous claim that Jesus was the Messiah.” (Issue 12/13/2004) He claimed that “the Gospels mixed faith and history to the Christmas story and make the case for Christ.” (Ibid) Later on, when Larry King interviewed him, Meacham made this assertion: “Things don’t have to be accurate to be true.” (“Who was Jesus,” CNN Larry King Live, 12/24/2004) In other words, even if something is not accurate, it is still considered true or valid to you as long …

Barney and Obama

What do Barney the dinosaur and US President Barack Obama have in common? They were both accused of being… hold your breath… the Antichrist! Check out Barney first. We all know he is a “CUTE PURPLE DINOSAUR.” Now, let’s change all the U’s in that description to V’s (which converts it to Latin form). So we now have “CVTE PVRPLE DINOSAVR.” When we extract all the Roman numerals, we end up with “CV VL DIV”. If we now convert it to its Arabic numerical values, we get 100 + 5 + 5 + 50 + 500 +1 + 5. Add it all up and the shocking result is… [Psycho movie theme in the background, please]… 666! Yes, the mark of the Beast. Proof positive that Barney is the Antichrist! (Source: http://bible.org/illustration/barney)

Of course, that’s outrageous. It’s really crazy. That’s exactly what entered my mind when I saw the YouTube video that claims Obama is the Antichrist. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlQJ2neOG_I&feature=player_embedded) The basis for that accusation is a (contrived) word study of …

Overnight Success

Image
“Overnight success takes time,”as Bro. Francis Kong, well-known Christian motivational speaker and prolific author, put it. (Our Tuesday Circle of Care attended his talk, “Surviving the Economic Crisis: Developing a Personal Culture of Excellence,” that he gave recently in the New Millennium Evangelical Church.) He also pointed out, “There is no such thing as a shortcut to success. But there’s an expressway to disaster.”I agree 100%. If we shortcut the process, we will end up short-circuiting it. Some people may think that church is a picnic. But, it’s more about sleepless nights, mental torture and emotional anguish. (I know. I’m a bit exaggerating. But you get the picture, right?) Yet, as Brother Francis added, “In tough times, leaders work together as a team.”


I praise God He gave me the privilege to work with a great team. The relief work we got involved with these past weeks is another crystal clear expression of our battle cry, “One God. One Mission. One MGC.” Volunteers poured i…

A Drop in the Bucket

It was not a headline-hogging relief operation. In fact, we felt like it’s a teardrop in a huge bucket. But, nonetheless, it’s a much needed drop. In two days, members and friends of Makati Gospel Church lovingly and sacrificially gave P170,000 worth of assorted groceries (put in 1,215 regular-sized plastic bags.), more or less P30,000 (cash and check), 300 plus gallons of water (in one gallon containers), about 200 pieces of bread, 631 bags of soap and toothpastes and boxes upon boxes of brand-new and used clothes, blankets, bags and shoes (about 380 plus bags). Volunteers in the Kaibigan Center of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) packed it for us. Somebody also donated through CCT 500 plus foam mattresses.

Yesterday, Wednesday, September 30, 15 volunteers (10 of them young people) from our church along with CCT brought the relief goods to their Marikina branch. Along the way we saw the massive devastation that Typhoon Ondoy wrought. We saw muddied residents trying to cle…

Ondoy

It was an epic flood due to a record rainfall. Tropical storm Ondoy, “bearing winds of 85 kilometers per hour with gusts of 100 kilometers” (Source: http://inquirer.net/) hit us mid-morning. “About 100 families in different areas in Metro Manila have been evacuated as incessant rains caused heavy flooding in the national capital region… In San Mateo, Rizal, at least 269 families were reported to be severely affected by rising floodwater”. As I was writing this, the statistics are steadily rising. In the news, the government just declared Metro Manila and 25 provinces under state of calamity.

Dela Rosa Street became the Dela Rosa River. (Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv7KKVtRbRQ) The floodwater rapidly reached waist deep. It engulfed the cars parked along the street while the owners watched hapless and helpless. Our basement parking overflowed to the brim. Slowly, the waters seeped into our church office. We hurriedly cleared up the lower shelves of our filing ca…

Issachar

It’s more than 230 days before the 2010 national and local elections. But it seems things are heating up. Even my Facebook page is getting flooded with posts campaigning for this or that presidentiable! In fact, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches recently came up with guidelines should a church decide to be partisan (that is, endorsing or campaigning for a certain candidate) or non-partisan (engaging in voter’s education without endorsing anyone in particular) for this coming elections. (In case you are asking, our church will remain non-partisan.)

In the midst of all these I believe we should be like the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32, NIV). Though very few in number, “They were men of great skill above any of their neighbours” (Source: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible). Dubbed as “weather-wise,” they knew the right time to plant and to harvest. Deuteronomy 33:19 tells us that “They will summon pe…

Feast in Front of Foes (Part 2)

I wrote this article here in San Carlos City, Pangasinan during the ministry week of the International Graduate School of Leadership which started last Thursday, September 10. (Deacon Manuel Go, Jr. is with the Baguio team.) As soon as we arrived in Pangasinan, we hit the ground running by doing classroom evangelism in Dagupan National High Scholl. I almost lost my voice speaking before students in hot and humid classrooms. The next day our team evangelized the students of Turac National High School (Believe it or not, this public school of around 600 students has a Wi-Fi hotspot!) We are also training pastors and church workers in facilitating small groups, youth ministry, church leadership and preaching seminars. This Sunday (September I3), I will be preaching in the worship service of San Carlos City Baptist Church.

Other than what I went through personally in the past weeks, I saw that the enemy busied himself attacking. Last week, Pastor Cesar Magalong, the pastor of our host chur…

Feast in Front of Foes

When it rains, it…? And it appears that when it pours, it’s a downpour. You already know that my son Jessey was hospitalized due to dengue. (Thanks for your prayers! His recovery is really a miracle.) Then, a few days later, his PSP has gone kaput. The technician lamented that it is beyond repair. Then, last Thursday, around 6PM, he got held up on his way home from school. His school bag, including my Macbook, got stolen. He brought the laptop to school for a class presentation. Three teenage suspects picked him up right in front of our house, brought him a block away then robbed him. I just praise God he was unharmed. That was really scary! Nowadays people get stabbed or shot or beaten up. I told him, “God gives us problems either to punish us or to polish us.”

The morning before the mugging, I spoke before grade and high school students, faculty and staff of a Filipino-Chinese Christian School. My verse was Psalm 23:5. “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You w…

Money Matters in Marriage

Image
“Money is not worth fighting about.”
Ambie Bulos, spouse of the editor-in-chief of “Money Sense” magazine, underscored this in their “Money Sense Live! Family Finance 101” seminar organized by Learning Curve. Her husband, Heinz, pointed out that couples fight over money because they have “different money personalities” (probably, the husband is a storer while the wife is a spender), they value money differently, “both parties [wanted] to take charge or one is clueless or not interested”, “both parties still live as if they’re single”, they have “difficulty trusting” each other and they are irresponsible.

The key is that the couples should see themselves as “one unit” as described in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (NIV) For example, they may handle money unlike each other. But unity is not uniformity. Husband and wife just need to agree on their “money goals and plans”. They can still be…

My Son Jessey

Image
“It’s like watching the stock market,” one of our members texted referring to my son’s platelet count. As you may know, Jessey is in the hospital due to dengue since Wednesday (August 19). His platelet count seems more like the prices of oil, only this time in reverse. It goes down fast but goes up ever so slowly. From 200,000, it slid down to 93,000 then 73,000 till it crashed to 33,000 low before stabilizing at that number. Then, it inched up to 43,000 the next day. As of the last blood test result Saturday morning, it went up a notch higher at 46,000. The doctor assured that it’s a positive trend though it is an uphill climb. God willing, Jessey will be released from the hospital soon, the earliest would be Sunday afternoon.

On behalf of our entire family, allow me to appreciate all of our brothers and sisters for your overwhelming support in prayer. It is an opportunity for us all to trust God. Our cell phones kept on ringing due to encouraging calls and text messages. My Facebook …

Success Secret

Image
“What are the factors behind the success of the world’s wealthiest self-made tycoons”?

Wilson Lee Flores posed this question in his “Bull Market, Bull Sheet” opinion column (Source: Philippine Star).



He then shared his gleanings from W. Randall Jones’ “The Richest Man in Town: The Twelve Commandments of Wealth.” These are “the inside secrets of America’s self-made millionaires culled from the author’s interviews with the richest self-made tycoons… None of those interviewees inherited their fortune or CEOs of a major Fortune 500 firm.” (Ibid) Among those that Jones interviewed were Microsoft’s Bill Gates, FedEx’s Frederick Smith and Nike’s Phil Knight.



There are those who argue that in order to get ahead in life or business, one must cheat, lie or steal. They scoff at those who would mix the Bible and business. But what caught my eye was this “commandment of wealth”: “Moor yourself to morals… contrary to what many may think, integrity is still integral to the creation of vast wealth and …

Marriage

Image
To reword a Chinese saying, “The strength of the nation depends upon the strength of its marriages.” This week I participated in the recent 6th National Convention of Solemnizing Officers (6NCSO) spearheaded by the National Statistics Office. One of those that caught my attention was the alarming, growing statistics on the breakup or dissolution of marriages. Last month, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) decried “that there were 7,753 annulment cases filed in 2007 and 7,138 filed in 2006. Prior to that year, the annulment cases had supposedly never breached the 7,000 mark.” (Here in the Philippines, we have annulment of marriages, not divorce.) But “it is very likely that the number of petitioner for annulments of marriages is much larger”. One reason was that supposedly the petitioners must provide copies to the OSG and the Provincial or City Prosecutor’s Office. The OSG represents the State in contesting those cases “by preventing collusion between the parties, or the fabric…

Tita Cory

Image
From http://inquirer.net/

“Tita” (Auntie) Cory, as former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was fondly called, drew her last breath yesterday, August 1, 2009, at 3:18 A.M., after a brief but brave fight against the big C. She was 76. The news of her death even upstaged the news about the recent meeting between our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and US President Barrack Obama.

She was not only our first woman president in the Philippines (serving from February 1983 to June 1992) but also Asia’s. She was Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1986. She “will be remembered as an icon of democracy, having led a military-backed popular revolt in 1986 that ousted a dictator who ruled the country for 20 years.” (http://inquirer.net/)


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cory_Aquino_-_Woman_of_the_Year.jpg

Before her husband, Senator Benigno Aquino, was assassinated in 1983, he said that he pities the person who would succeed then President Ferdinand Marcos. Little did he know that his wife …

Surviving Without Money

Image
Daniel Suelo of Moab, Utah claims he has “figured out that the best way to stay solvent is to never be solvent in the first place.” (Source: Details.Com)


Almost 10 years ago, he just decided to quit money. He lives in a cave. He eats wild plants, grubs, lizards and roadkill. He also scavenges leftovers in the garbage in a nearby desert town. Yet, he is no crazy hermit. He has a degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado. 

But a tour with the Peace Corps in an Ecuadoran village jolted him. Tasked to monitor the health of the villagers, he saw how they sank as they took on “the economics of modernity.” With the earnings from their produce, they bought things they didn’t really need. Suelo sadly noted, “The more they spent, the more their health declined. It looked like money was impoverishing them.” (Ibid)

Mixing Christianity and Buddhism, he then decided to give up on money. “When I lived with money, I was always lacking. Money represents lack. Money represents things in the …

Walking Economy

While I was digging in my file looking for something (anything!) to somehow inspire myself to write (Yes, I do get writer’s block at times), I found a compilation of quotes and quips on money and generosity by Rev. Brian Kluth of www.maximumgenerosity.com.

One time, a man lamented, “I’m a walking economy. My hairline’s in recession, my waist is a victim of inflation, and together they’re putting me in a deep depression!”

I think a wife said this, “A joint checking account is never overdrawn by the wife; it’s just under-deposited by her husband.”

Nowadays, because of the global financial crisis, “the safest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your pocket.”

Here’s another good one: “With the price of everything else going up these days, aren’t you glad the Lord hasn’t increased the tithe to 15%?”

While our dire situation is no laughing matter, there are times I feel that one of the only ways to cope is to find humor in it. But I believe the best way to conquer a…