WE’RE BETTER TOGETHER #YolandaRelief

The synergy that goes into coming together for a united purpose is invaluable.

In the recent days, we’ve seen many come from all walks of life contribute to the relief efforts ongoing to alleviate the pain and suffering of our countrymen in Leyte, Samar, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cebu and other parts of the Visayan region.

While at Victory we try our best to contribute our small part, we realize that what we do won’t even make a dent in the overall picture.

But when we all pitch in, like every brick that is placed during construction, at the end of it all, we see a cathedral or an amazing edifice not because one brick was more important than the other but because each brick was vital to seeing the whole come together.

Just wanted to say thanks to all who have pitched in and continues to do so.

The international relief efforts, big and small organizations, that help mitigate the misery.
The private businesses that have donated, shared, and contributed their resources.
The schools that allowed their students to participate in the repacking, loading and hauling.
The armed forces of the Philippines who did everything possible to help the victims.
The churches that prayed and prayed and prayed for more goods to come.
The bloggers and social networkers who have helped communicate the needs and praise reports.

(Please feel free to add to the list.)

ONE BIG THANKS!

The work is far from over but just wanted to drop a note of appreciation.

 

Pastor (Col.) Dennis Isleta with Lt. Col. Nelson Morales on our first delivery (10 tons of goods) to Tacloban via C130.
My batchmates from high school who pitched in and gathered all they could.
5300 bags repacked the first 7 hours of relief operations
Partnering with Operation Blessing. These goods (6 tons) went to Coron, Palawan and Tacloban.
Youth and children even pitched in repacking.

PACQUIAO’S REAL FIGHT

I’m not a boxing analyst so this is really not an evaluation of the fight.

But reading the tweets after the Pacquiao-Marquez fight has been interesting to say the least.

Some cheer Manny on saying that they still believe in him while others predict the end of his career.

The most interesting ones are those that credit his loss to his faith in God.
That one, I don’t understand.

Unfortunately, God gets the blame in the process.
People will crucify you for your faith. If I remember correctly, that’s what was done to Jesus.

But the other thought I had was this:
Faith is tested both in the winning and in the losing.

It is fun to win. No doubt about that.
Equally true is the difficulty in accepting defeat.  At least, I know I do.

But fact remains,
“It’s not what happens to you that is important but how you respond to what happens to you.”

You can win and end up losing.
Conversely, you can lose and end up winning.

(Great blog by my friend, Dennis Sy, found here by the way.)

Looks to me that Manny’s responding well which is a test of character and a test of faith. It surely is a difficult one to swallow and a tough one to accept, but this is where the rubber meets the road.

I believe Manny will surpass this test.
His identity and security is no longer in the championship belt but on the Champion Himself.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3, NLT)

APEC-TIVE TAKEAWAYS

It was a privilege to be sitting in and listening to all the equipping sessions and reports from the different nations in Asia during our Asian Pastors Equipping Conference (APEC).

Here are a few things I got from it:

The most dangerous threat to to a strong successful fruitful mature ministry is pride in our own heart, not division, opposition and attack.  (Steve Murrell)

The goal is that ministry should be taken out of the  hands of the ‘experts’ and ‘pros’ and onto the hands of amateurs and volunteers. (Steve Murrell on Empowering Leadership)

Do you spend more time ministering to people or preparing people to minister? (Steve Murrell)

If you want to empower people to do ministry, mistakes are not optional. They are required!  (Steve Murrell)

Who you are when you gather is who you are when you scatter. (Kevin York on the Church)

The goal in preaching is feed the sheep (John 21) and not give goat food but preach the Word that it makes sense to the unchurched. (Steve Murrell)

Biggest competitor of Lordship over us is finance, not even Satan.  (Timothy Loh)

Without it, we will still go to heaven. But we might get there earlier than planned. (Rachel Ong teaching on the topic of having structures in an organization)

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. (Scott Douma)

“I want those who know me the most to repeat me the best.”  – Rick Warren via Scott Douma

Success without relationships is miserable. (Steve Murrell on Absalom who built a monument to himself because he wasn’t able to build ‘sons’ and the next generation)

Campus ministry is not a department. It is a long-term investment. (Joseph Bonifacio)

(Find audio podcasts of the sessions here – http://apec2012.ph/messages/)

(Pictures here)

APEC 2012 Recap Video from APEC on Vimeo.

END OF THE WORLD

(NOTE: These are my notes for the 1st installment of “THE END” series at Victory Fort. I’m posting this for those who might have missed the verses I tackled because I went through them quite fast.)

This year is supposed to be the end of time – 2012. Not only because of the movie, but because some believe that this is based on the Mayan calendar.

Throughout history there have been 242 failed predictions and counting, from Montanus to Harold Camping. (site here)

There’s a fascination on knowing when Jesus will come and thereby usher in the end of time as we know it.

As Wayne Grudem says in his Systematic Theology book,

“(People) can make reasonable predictions about future events based on patterns of past occurrences, but in the nature of human experience, it is clear that human beings of themselves cannot know the future.”

But at the same breath, God does give us verses in Scripture to let us know a few things we can expect.

1. When will this happen?

Acts 1:6-7. He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

Matthew 24:36.”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Matthew 24:42. “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”

Matthew 24:44. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

The degree to which we actually long for Christ’s return is a measure of the spiritual condition of our lives at the moment.

Philippians 1:23-24. “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

2. How will this happen?

It will be visible, personal, public and sudden.

VISIBLE.

Acts 1:11. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

PERSONAL.

Luke 21:27. “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

PUBLIC.

Revelation 1:7. “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him.”

SUDDEN.

2 Peter 3:10. “The day of the Lord will come like a thief…”

3. What should we do?

When the disciples were asking Jesus when He’ll come back, He told them this.

Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We must focus on the task rather than on the time of His coming. His kingdom will continue to advance.

Isaiah 9:7. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

Matthew 11:12. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Jesus told us to keep doing His work until He comes back.

Luke 19:13. “Occupy till I come.”

The way we view the future will dictate the decisions we make today.

STICKING TO YOUR CALLING

Reading through the book of Nehemiah for our recent series “Ako, Ikaw, Tayo,” I noticed a shift in chapter 8.
Nehemiah takes a step back and Ezra steps in to read the Book of the Law to the people of Israel.

It’s interesting that Nehemiah didn’t step beyond what God called him to do – to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

As the church continues to grow by the grace of God, many have come suggesting that we need to focus on this more, teach on that better, prioritize this more and concentrate on that a bit more.

Hinging from what we read in Nehemiah, not understanding the call and stewardship God has given may lead to confusion.

Lesson? Know what God’s called you to do and stick to it. Well meaning people with wonderful intentions may come and suggest which will inadvertently distract you from what God’s called you to do.

So what is it for Victory? HONOR GOD. MAKE DISCIPLES.

 

 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

As Steve Murrell would put it, it’s the same ole’ boring strokes.

While the method may change, the message has remained the same throughout these years: Preach Christ and Him crucified.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

 

 


HOW DARE STEVE JOBS

There’s  a lot of hype going on these days because the iPhone 5 is coming out soon.

Because of all the iGadgets, our life has never been the same – from music to movies to reading books to social networking. Steve Jobs and Apple have successfully revolutionized how we live our lives.

Or has he?

Why did he have a measure of success?
He was crazy enough to believe that he could change the world.

I remember when he was trying to get John Sculley to join his team. John Sculley was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Pepsi Cola Company. He was trying to convince him to come on board.

Here’s what Steve told John:

Because of this, John Sculley was able to successfully apply his marketing prowess in the personal computer market.

Steve Jobs had the audacity to believe that he could change the world.

Here’s my question to the church:
How dare Steve Jobs have a greater vision than the church of Jesus?

Better yet:
How dare us allow Steve Jobs have a greater vision to change the world than God’s very people?

And iPhone or iPad will last you 3 or at most 5 years…

The Gospel of Jesus will last for eternity. It will transform a life, a family, a city and a nation.

I know it has changed mine. And I bet my life (if I were a betting man) that it is going to change this nation only if we continue to honor God and make disciples, advancing His kingdom in every sphere of society.

Steve Jobs was crazy enough to believe that he could change the world with gadgets.

Do we have the audacity to believe that the Gospel of Jesus is potent enough to change my world, your world, our world?

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

So… who’s crazy enough?

WHY DO I STILL STRUGGLE WITH SIN?

I thought I was already free in Christ?
Should I still supposed to be struggling with this sin?
Why am I still having a hard time overcoming temptation?

A person who has gone through a Victory Weekend retreat where in we establish spiritual principles from Scripture, experience spiritual freedom and encourage spiritual fruit, one might say, “I thought I am free since whom the Son sets free is free indeed?”

But how come I am still feeling the pull of the sin I used to struggle with?

I love how John Piper put it:

“I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than … to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.”

When you and I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8), then there will be such a distaste to our old life that that would no longer be a pull to go back to it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)




SHARING YOUR FAITH

Talking about the most important thing in your life can also be the most difficult thing.

I’m referring to our relationship with Christ.

Sharing what God has done and how you have come to faith in Him, particularly to your family, relatives and friends can be tricky, not to mention difficult.

I spoke to a friend who is also one of our Victory Small group leaders yesterday. He has found a simple way to share his faith to friends and family… PODCAST.

He said that he would pray and ask God for direction. Then he would sent the link of the particular podcast he thinks will speak and minister to their needs at the time.

That way, they can either choose to listen to it right away, or later, or never.  But he said, it has been an effective door opener to talk about Jesus when they would see those he sent the podcast links to.

As a matter of fact, he already has a friend who started coming to church as a result. He would come late because he’s still feeling his way through the “praise and worship” part, but enjoys the message immensely.

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For Victory Fort Podcasts, CLICK HERE.
For messages from various Victory Pastors metrowide, CLICK HERE.

THAT THING YOU DO

We started a new series all over Victory entitled “That Thing You Do.”  It is a journey through Acts chapter 2 studying what the early disciples did and how the church grew not just in numbers but also in spiritual maturity.

For the next three weeks, here are the topics.

  • July 28 and 29: Read – Know what it means to love God’s Word
  • August 4 and 5: Share – Find out the importance of true Biblical relationships
  • August 11 and 12: Pray – Discover the value of prayer
Last weekend, we gave out a reading plan where we can journey together as we read through the Scriptures. I’ve attached the file below in case you’d need a digital copy.

 

1. The Word of God brings joy.

Psalm 119:111 says, “Your statutes are my heritage forever;  they are the joy of my heart.”

There are many things that can make you happy while there are only a few that can really bring joy.

Gadgets can bring happiness and so does promotion, salary increase, new relationships. But these can be temporary. God’s word brings something way beyond happiness that is based on happenings. God’s word brings joy, therefore, we are to value it.

 

2. The Word of God brings power.
God’s word is able to transform lives.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Only God’s Word is able to bring genuine transformation.
The world came into being by the very word of God.  Something came out of nothing as a result of the very words that came from the mouth of God.
The same power from those words is the same power that is in God’s Word, the Bible.
It is powerful, therefore we can believe it.

 

3. The Word of God brings growth.
We see our lives flourish when we read God’s word.
But ultimately, the Word of God is not about us.
It really is about Jesus.
Jesus says in John 5:39-40, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Ultimately, THAT THING YOU DO IS BECAUSE OF THAT THING HE DID.
We devote ourselves to Him as we realize how much He’s been devoted to us.

LOSING HIS LEG, BUT NOT HIS FAITH

Mike Romero is an amazing story.

He is one of our new volunteers in the Kids Ministry of Victory Fort.

He lost his leg after being run over by a bus and yet now is back serving in Kids Ministry.

Read his story below. It will amaze you.

 

God has blessed me with a very supportive family – my Victory Kids Church family. I got into an accident last April 5 when I was going home; I fell from the bus I was on while trying to run after the person/s who snatched my wallet. Sadly, I lost my right leg in the process and was in a critical condition in the ICU for a week.

My Kids Church family was there the whole time. Pastor Mark Tusoy and most of my team took time from the start to visit me in the ICU and prayed for me. I didn’t expect that a lot of people from KC would be there because I was a new volunteer. As it was unexpected, I was really happy that they visited (much to the dismay of the ICU staff as they had to monitor if more people snuck in :p). Looking back at it now, it was probably a nudge from God to push myself to recover faster.

Even in Facebook, which I just found out when I got discharged from the hospital, they offered their prayers of healing and provision. They even went to my house (after probably what was a week’s worth of discussions on our team’s FB wall :p)to ensure that I was well and bouncing back properly. I remember they brought a ton of food and even planned games.

Although those were very trying times for me, the love and support of my Kids Church family has shown God’s love for me. Being new to walking the path to God, their support has strengthened my faith in Him and to trust in what He has planned for me.