Blog Banners.001In my recent Japan bike trip with Ryan (click here to read about it), we were guided by Google maps on my phone. I would shout out directions to Ryan if we needed to turn left or right. When I would give an instruction, he would do it, not because it was a command but because it was a relationship based on trust.

Discipleship is following Jesus and helping others follow Christ. As we follow Christ, we listen to His instructions not because we have to but because we want to, knowing that He desires what’s best for us. This trust is based on the relationship we have with Him.

Discipleship is relationship.

It is a relationship on 3 levels:
Relationship with God.
Relationship with other believers.
Relationship with the lost.

If we are going to help others follow Christ, there are 3 choices we will need to make as we do so.

1. OPPORTUNITY OVER OUTCOME

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up… (Luke 19:5a)

Jesus had a mission. He was about to sacrifice His life so that mankind could be saved. It was important to get to Calvary but wasn’t so focused on the outcome that He missed the opportunity to stop and speak with Zacchaeus. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem but when He got to Jericho, He looked up and took some time to be with Zacchaeus.

Sometimes we are so busy that we miss out on divine appointments.

We miss out on divine appointments when we are quick to dismiss seemingly human distractions.

2. RELATIONSHIP OVER RULES

Jesus… said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5b)

During those days, there was an unwritten rule that they were not to eat with sinners and tax collectors. People hated tax collectors because though they were Jewish, they worked for their enemy at that time, the Romans. Moreover, when they would collect taxes, they would get more than required so they could pocket the extra. They were corrupt and abusive aside from working for the enemy.

Jesus stopped to speak with Zacchaeus. In fact, He didn’t just want to eat dinner with him, He wanted to stay in his house! People were wondering, “Jesus, what are you doing?!!!” This is not acceptable!”

But Jesus broke the ‘rule’ so that He could build a relationship with Zacchaeus.

To treat people the way Jesus treated them, we need to see them the way Jesus saw them.

I’m just grateful God valued me so much that He sacrificed His only Son so I can have redemption. I was insecure, lost and without purpose. Thank God for the gospel that saved me.

3. PEOPLE OVER PROCESS

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Jesus had a process He was going to go through – suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. But He wasn’t so caught up with that process that He missed out on the very people He was going to die for.

Why? Because lost people matter to God.

Sometimes, we can get so caught up with the process that we miss out on the simplicity of loving people. We are worried about the form, that we miss out on caring for people. We are wrapped up with the program that we miss out on the very reason why we even have a program.

I remember going through One2One discipleship with someone I met 2 and a half years ago. We initially started with One2One booklet. But because he had a lot of questions, we had to set the booklet aside to answer his questions. We tried to do the Purple book. We got to chapter 4 and it was helpful. But since he still had lots of questions, we actually went straight to the book of Romans. The process is important but sometimes, we have to ask God for wisdom what tool to use because people are more important than the process. Finally, after 2 years, we finished one2one and he was able to go through Victory Weekend this past March.

Jesus stopped to encounter Zacchaeus. He had a process to go through but He didn’t let that stop Him from spending time with the very people He was about to die for. Why? It’s because lost people matter to God.

I love how Joey Bonifacio put it:

God who is most valuable, so valued us that He gave us Jesus who is most valuable to Him.

As we continue to honor God and make disciples, may we do it with zeal coupled with sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the compassion of Jesus.

Blog Banners.001“I don’t think you really believe in what you’re saying.”

Joe Kim (not his real name) was telling me today regarding his experience before he met Christ. He was in high school when someone shared the gospel to him in Korea. He felt that his friend had just come from an evangelistic seminar and he was his friend’s first “project.”

Growing up in a Buddhist background, Joe wasn’t all that interested. In fact, he challenged his friend’s faith by telling him that “he really didn’t believe in what he was saying.”

When his friend asked how come he said that, Joe’s answer was, “Well, if you really believed in what you’re saying, it would show in how you live.” Joe loved his friend. In fact, they were often together, even in parties and drinking sprees. But he concluded that what his friend declared didn’t really work.

“If you believed in what you are declaring, you’re life would be different.”

Joe’s statement hit me. In fact, it hit me quite hard.
I began to look at my own life to see if what I believed lined up with how I lived my life.

Jesus addressed the crowds and told them this about the religious leaders of his time,

“Pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” (Matthew 23:3)
What they taught didn’t line up with how they lived.

Our lives are sometimes the only Bible our friends will read. We can say one thing but if our life exemplifies something else, it will be difficult to believe. Does this mean that our lives need to be perfect? By no means. However, the important thing is that we’re progressing towards what God intended for us to go towards – to become like Christ. And THAT would be entirely by His grace working itself out in our daily lives.

LORD, thank You for saving me by Your grace. It is never by personal merit or deserved achievement. As I grow in the knowledge of Your grace and salvation, allow me to grow in greater Christ-likeness and holiness. May my life be a story of someone who was undeserving yet unconditionally cared for, fully known yet fully loved. And for that, I am forever grateful. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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The goal is not life change but Jesus.

We want to see a person’s life to change for the better. And that’s not a bad thing. It really isn’t. However, the problem with making it the goal is that if we push for change without emphasizing Jesus, change becomes merely external.

Drunkenness, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, substance abuse, greed, pride are all acts of the sinful nature. But asking a person to get rid of all these is purely external apart from introducing them to Christ. Life change is not the goal, Jesus is. When we introduce people to Jesus, as they realize the everlasting love He offers through the message of the gospel, people will embrace a greater value than what they are holding onto at the moment.

What happens on the inside will eventually show up on the outside.

Elevating conversation from life change to the Life Giver will radically shift the focus. Our goal is to bring them to Jesus. As we do, it is He who will bring the necessary adjustments according to His Word and in conformity with His time table. Remember He is God, not us. The Holy Spirit is the Change Agent not us. Sometimes we act as if we are the assistant of the Holy Spirit. We try to bring conviction in the lives of the people we are reaching out to. That’s not our job. It’s God’s Holy Spirit that will accomplish that.

Let me share a few things you can do:

1. Pray.
2. Serve the person you’re reaching out to.
3. Love him/her the way Jesus loved you and showed His grace upon you.
4. Use God’s Word to bring counsel for it has power more than our personal experience.
5. Trust God for the results.

May God give us wisdom as we share His love to those we love.

As a member of the Every Nation family, Victory gathers together with other churches in the region for our version of APEC – Asian Pastors Equipping Conference.

This year’s theme was “100 Years From Now” held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a fresh take on the core values we have as a church movement.

1. Lordship
2. Evangelism
3. Discipleship
4. Leadership
5. Family

The following are the tweets I posted this week while Jenn and I were in APEC. These were some of the myriad of take-aways we had.

The starting point of everything is the honor of God. – Steve Murrell

 

Follow the pattern. Guard the good deposit. – Steve Murrell on 2 Timothy 1:13-14

 

Jesus is my Lord not because I have no choice but because it is a logical choice for He is in absolute control. – Timothy Lo.

 

Prayer is important because where there’s great opportunity comes great opposition. – Manny Carlos

 

Mission draws us together.
Relationship keeps us together.
Doctrine is worked out together.
Experience is judged together. – Steve Murrell

 

No to entitlement. Just be thankful you are part of the game. – Jun Escosar

 

Our sons don’t need our lessons but our presence. – Rod Plummer

 

On building teams: Some activities are too dangerous to do alone like law enforcement, scuba diving and ministry! Build a team. – Steve Murrell

 

To be a leader, you need to build a team, lead the team and trust the team. – Steve Murrell

 

You’re the leader not necessarily because you’re the smartest. Maybe it’s just because you got there first. Stay humble. – Steve Murrell

 

Character is built by grace and faith but greatly in the midst of suffering.. – Joey Bonifacio

 

Your wife will be the heart of the home when she is in the heart of her husband. – Eddie Asato

 

Build your family to honor God and His word. – Eddie Asato

 

God is more at work in our children’s lives more than we could ever be. He loves them more than we could ever love them. – Eddie Asato

 

People share many things through their social networks but how significant they are may differ from one account to another. From food to friends, good news to bad reports, from highs to lows, people either randomly or deliberately post their photos and thoughts.

There even those who posted photos of themselves sleeping being taken by themselves. (I know that my statement doesn’t really make sense.)

We share our thoughts about a nice new movie, a mega sale coming up, passing the board exam among many others.

But while we share a lot of things that may seem inconsequential, why can’t we share the most important and powerful thing that has radically changed our lives? If the gospel of Jesus has transformed us, why are we not sharing it?

I reckon we don’t understand the reason behind why God wants us to.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 15:1-7. A shepherd lost one sheep. And instead of staying with the 99, he risks everything to run after the 1. Now THAT doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because leaving the 99 in the open fields mean wolves ravaging them. It also doesn’t make sense because it seems that staying with the 99 may sound more logical.

But Jesus said that the shepherd runs after the 1.
Why? Because each one matter to God.
Every lost person matters to God.

What does it mean to leave the 99 and run after the 1?

1. VALUE THE LOST.

Seeing people the way Jesus sees them is the starting point. Oftentimes, we see people on the basis of the externals – cars they drive, watches on their wrists, address on their business card, clothes they wear.

But people don’t matter to God because of these. They matter to God because each have been created in the image and likeness of God.

As long as there’s one lost person out there, we have not accomplished our mission.

2. PREACH THE GOSPEL.

Evangelism seems like a daunting word. But simply put, it is sharing the good news of Jesus’ salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It simpler terms, it is talking to others about what we’ve experienced so that others can experience Christ as well.

Is it just about numbers? Yes and no.
Numbers are important to God that He wrote a book entitled Numbers.
No, because it’s not just about numbers.
Because behind every number is an individual.
Behind every individual is a name.
Behind every name is a story.
And every story matters to God.

Valuing the lost is the starting point. Preaching the gospel is the action point.

3. CELEBRATE THE FOUND.

When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he calls all his friends to party.

This is how heaven sees when even just one comes to Christ. All of heaven parties.

We cannot share what we have not experienced.

If we have not experienced the life changing power of Jesus, there’s no way we’re sharing it. It’s like a salesman talking you into buying something he doesn’t even believe in.

 

TWICE MINE

Let me illustrate using a story.

Tommy carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tommy sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tommy tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.

Tommy ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom mysadly went home.

The next day, on the way home from school, Tommy spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see — sure enough — it was his!

Tommy hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!”
“Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”

Tommy ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.”

As he left the store, Tommy hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”

Think about what Tommy said. It’s exactly what God is saying to you and to me.

Now you’re twice mine. First I made you and now I bought you.

God made us in His image and likeness. But it wasn’t He who broke the string. We deliberately, intentionally and rebelliously broke that string.

But in spite of that, He was the One who pursued and made an all out search for us.

We are twice His. First He made us, now He bought us… a price we couldn’t cough up.
We owed a debt we couldn’t pay. And He paid a debt He didn’t owe.

That’s radical love.

And that radical love demands a radical response – to go out into all the nations and preach that radical love that we’ve experienced.

 

This is Mang Simon.

After Yolanda hit (typhoon Haiyan), they’re house was completely destroyed which was why they were relocated to Cebu temporarily.

I met him at Victory Tacloban when I preached last Sunday.

I was introduced to him by Kix Javier, our executive pastor and Lifebox Campus Missionary there.

Mang Simon told me not only their experience during the typhoon but also after the typhoon. When they got to Cebu, they met a family that took them in, shared their blessings to his family, provided for them in the meantime. But more importantly, the Mercado family from Cebu shared Jesus to them.

One Sunday, they invited Mang Simon and his family to church. Since then, they’ve been attending services and when Mang Simon went back to Tacloban, his first order of the day was to locate our church there.

Mang Simon relayed to me how blown away he has been.

“Hindi ako makapaniwala na may ganoong mga tao pa din pala… mapagbigay, maalaga and maka-Diyos.”
(I couldn’t believe that there’s still people like them who were generous, thoughtful and godly.)

He was so touched that he was in tears and gave me a hug after.

You see, it doesn’t have to be Christmas for us to practice generosity. The Mercado family gave out of an overflow… an overflow from their relationship with Jesus.
And as they did, a family has been touched by the gospel.

This is how we take over a city with the gospel of Jesus – one person, one family, one community at a time.