WILL JOHNNIE KEEP WALKING?

200903201541090.johnnie_walkerThe last blog I wrote (click here in case you missed it), has gotten a lot of feedback.  Got comments and additional questions from people.

A few more random thoughts on the subject…

THE PENDULUM

I was talking to a couple of people yesterday on separate occasions.  We were talking about people swinging to the other side of the pendulum.

I realize that when we started (Victory), there was a lot of zeal that needed some wisdom.  In fact, there were clear danger signs of legalism.

However, while that was something we needed to be cautious about, I also said that we are not to forget what brought us to where we are today.  During those days, there was a strong emphasis on purity and holiness.  God has a standard.  The Bible is clear about those standards.  And no matter what ‘progress’ or ‘innovations’ there may be in culture, certain standards need to be upheld.

Because of an apprehension of swinging to the side of legalism, I fear that we might be in danger of swinging to the side of tolerance.  We can’t.  We mustn’t.

FREEDOM ABUSED

Paul states it clearly…

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature…” (Gal. 5:13)

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

You and I are free in Christ.  But it is clear what has been said already that “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”

You can drink water from the Pasig River in case you get very thirsty, but it won’t necessarily be wise and beneficial.

Just because he can, doesn’t mean you can.

Paul says that one man’s conscience allows him to do certain things while if you do it, it actually violates something inside of you.

PERSONAL STORY

Since I surrendered my life to Jesus, I made a decision not to drink.  Is it because I can’t?  No… because as a Christ follower, I have the freedom because I am no longer under the law.  While that is true, I also cannot use my freedom to indulge in the sinful nature.

However, it was a decision born out of a conviction that resulted from an experience years ago.

My step father was an alcoholic.  He drank in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.  We had a ‘mini-bar’ in the house where all the “J&B’s”, “Cutty Sarks”, “Fundadors”, “Johnny Walkers” were displayed and consumed.

I saw with my very own eyes how my sister was physically beaten up because one man was under another ‘spirit’, out of control…drunk.

Because of that, I made a decision that that will have no place…NONE AT ALL… in my family.  Again, this is just me… a decision for myself and my family.

That’s why.

But I cannot ram my convictions into someone’s throat.

You need to go to God, ask Him what He wants you to do.

To do that, you and I will need to read His word, see what it says… and UPHOLD IT!

HUMILITY AT ITS FINEST

Watching David Robinson’s speech during the NBA Hall of Fame ceremonies blew me away.  He thanked people who helped him get to where he is now.  What an epitome of humility and not to mention wisdom.  We never get to where we are today apart from the people around us who helped us along the way.

Comparing it to Jordan’s speech, unfortunately, it was all about him.

Loved Dennis Sy’s perspective on this.  Click *here* to read his blog.

CAN I DRINK AND STILL BE A CHRISTIAN?

Can I drink and still be a Christian?  
Is it a sin to smoke? Is oral sex wrong since there’s no actual intercourse?

These are a few questions I get asked.

First of all, I have no intentions of turning what is black and white in Scripture into something grey.  Neither am I trying to turn something grey to become black and white.  That’s the reason why I will refer to what the Bible says.

While there are certain issues that the Bible doesn’t explicitly talk about, this doesn’t mean that it is quiet about that particular topic.  There are certain principles we can glean from so that we can answer the questions we might have.

For example, someone might say that since there’s nothing about internet por.nography in the Bible, then it must be ok.  Obviously, it won’t be there because computers didn’t exist.  But the Bible does talk about lust and impurity.

Paul gives us a guiding principle in 1 Corintians 6:12.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.

Not everything is beneficial…

Beneficial for who?  And for what?

Three questions we can ask ourselves…

1. Will it benefit me?

If you ask me, “Can I eat my cellphone?”  My answer?  “Sure! If you want to but it surely won’t be beneficial to you.”

Is it wrong?  Not really.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

2. Will it benefit others?

If a pregnant woman asks me, “Can I join our 7 day prayer and fasting and do a water fast?”

While the activity is very spiritual, I’m just not sure it’s very wise.  We have to ask ourselves the question, “Will this thing benefit/affect the others?”

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

3. Will it benefit God’s kingdom?

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  This means that whatever is going on in heaven, we desire to happen here on earth as well.

And if that is our prayer, then will this thing I do honor God and advance His kingdom?  Or will it hurt the cause of Christ?  Will I misrepresent His kingdom, since I am His ambassador?

These are tough questions but we do need to answer them.  And when we do, I think we’ll have a pretty good gauge about what we need to do.

As Oswald Chambers said, “Holiness, not happiness is the chief end of man.”

HOW THICK IS YOUR FAITH?

Picture 1“It’s not the size of your faith but the object of your faith.”

Jenn and I stayed in St. Petersburg, Russia for a year to help Pastor Michael Paderes plant a church.  During our stay, we were able to go through the complete four season experience – summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Winter time, Neva River, the main river that runs thru St. Pete freezes over.  We’ve had the fun experience of walking on top of it.

But before stepping onto the ice, because it’s my first time, there’s a level of fear/anxiety that comes.  I can try to convince myself and speak positivity into the situation and say “I won’t go through and sink… I won’t go through and sink… I won’t go through and sink.”  No matter how hard I try to convince myself, if the ice is just 2 inch thick, I’ll be an ice cube in no time.

However, if I stand by the river, though I may be full of anxiety, yet if the ice is 2 feet thick, when I jump, I will not go through.

The point?  It’s not about the size of our faith but the object of our faith.  Why can we jump into the river?  Because our God is big, no matter how small our faith is.

SMALL STUFF… BIG DEAL…

Family meal times are one of the special parts of the day I always look forward to.

Maybe a small thing to some but it’s a big deal for me.

Three reasons I look forward to it (not exhaustive)…

1. DOWNLOAD.  That’s the time of the day where we can all gather and talk about what happened to every member of the family’s day – friends, school, disappointments, exciting stuff, future trips, memories from previous trips, Bible, experiences, real life stuff, etc.

2. UPLOAD.  This is a moment where Jenn and I can ‘upload’ some stuff in to their hearts during their most unguarded moments.  From Bible verses to conventional wisdom… values to vision for the future…

3. FILE SHARING. This can be anything to everything.  Crazy stuff.  Fun stuff.  Insane stuff.  Time where we watch Nathan moonwalk (or at least try to) like M.J.; where Janina sings her new favorite song; where Ryan… simply becomes Ryan… the funny guy… and Joaquin… well, what can I say about this cute guy.

Below is a video that just happened last night during dinner.  These things I actually look forward too.

Small stuff?  Big deal… at least for us…

Joaquin’s Beautiful Eyes from Paolo Punzalan on Vimeo.

PS. Here are a few links I got about the importance of meal times…

http://family.samhsa.gov/get/mealtime.aspx

http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Food-and-Nutrition/-/4-to-13-years/The-importance-of-family-meal-times.aspx

http://marriage.about.com/od/recipes/a/mealtime.htm

http://www.poweroffamilymeals.com/Mealtime_Matters/

WHO’S TOO GOOD?

09062009137God is just too good!

Juilus Fabregas preached a powerful message last night at the 5 and 7 pm services at the Fort.  Should be on podcast soon at victoryfort.org.

Is has been said that there are more than 7,000 promises in the Bible (not sure who counted but that’s a lot!).  He has given promises for His children.  Julius gave us 4 key thoughts to think about…

1. His promises are conditional.


Deuteronomy 28:1-2.  “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.”

The question is, “Are we walking in obedience?”

2. He gives specific promises.

Joshua 1:3-4.   I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.

We love the first part about being given every place where we set our foot on.  But God gives us boundaries.  He gave the Israelites specifics about the territory extending from Lebanon to the Great Sea on the west.

Within the boundaries God has set, we can claim the promises God has for us.

The question is, “Where has God placed you today and what are the giftings He has given?”  That’s probably where you will flourish and claim His promises.

3. He gives promises that we don’t deserve.

Joshua 24:13.  So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

God gave the Israelites land they did not work for.  They got cities they didn’t even build.  How true is that in our lives?  We’ve been given lots in our lives we didn’t even toil for and build.  He truly gives us what we don’t deserve.

4. He fulfills every promise.

Joshua 21:45. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

When God releases His promise, you can be confident that He will uphold what He has said.  Obviously, that doesn’t mean unconditional fulfillment.  Remember point no. 1?

But as we walk with Him, we are confident that the blessings will not only come upon us but will also ‘accompany’ us wherever we go as Deut. 28 tells us.

God is just too good!

SUNDAY, BUDDY, SUNDAY…

worshipI’ve been reading a book by Bob Russell and he’s been pointing out key principles for the church.

The chapter I’m on is about worship. He says that the primary reason for attending church should be to worship God – not to be entertained, or to critique whoever/whatever or to ‘enjoy’ the service.

“Sometimes, we evaluate a worship service like it’s a performance to be rated.  ‘Did you like the song she sang?’  ‘That was a great illustration.’  ‘He’s very funny.’  ‘The skit was entertaining.’  I thought the message today was about a seven on a scale of one to ten.'”

Tim Kelly said, “Worship is taking our affection off our idols (and these are not necessarily statues and pictures) and putting it on God.”

He tells us to ask 3 primary questions about corporate worship:

1. Does our worship honor God?
2. Does it inspire, uplift, and transform the worshipper?
3. Is it powerful enough to draw the unchurched to an encounter with Jesus?


So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2, Message)

DON’T FORGET

Kids had a sleepover and came up with an MTV… pretty funny, yet super cool.

SAY WHAT?

08172009101I spoke to one of our ministry staff yesterday.  Since he is quite new in the team, he wanted to clarify a few things.

He mentioned that he appreciated the environment that everyone’s ideas and opinions are heard during the staff meeting.  He said that he was told before that “less talk, less mistakes”.

I told him that we try not to operate that way.  Joey Bonifacio has created an environment that each idea is heard that’s why at the end of the discussion, we feel we end up with the best decision since we’ve listened to all perspectives.

I was listening to a leadership podcast this morning that confirmed this.


“You are probably not the smartest person in the organization; you’re just the leader.”

Kabam!  That’s so true!  (Though I had no doubts about this statement way before I heard it because it was so obvious to the others I am leading even to my family).  As a leader, you and I are not probably the smartest people, we’re just the leader.  Sometimes we’ve place so much premium in the role and end up thinking the leader has to end up with all the answers.

Which is why we have to create an environment where listen and that everyone in the leadership team is heard.
Why?
– Leaders are attracted to environments where their ideas and opinions are heard.

– Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded with people who have nothing important to say.  And that would be that saddest day in any leader’s life.