RAISING SONS NOT SERVANTS

Raising next generation leaders is a lot like parenting.

Because leadership development is a process and not a one-time event, there are a lot of conversations, teachable moments and even correction that happen along the way.

I was speaking with Joseph Bonifacio, our Every Nation Campus Executive Director the other day on this exact topic. We were trying to assess our own leadership styles and the styles we’ve seen others employ.

There are those who are like policemen.
Policemen check if people are following the rules.
Policemen are quick to waive their badge to wield authority.
Policemen are swift in making judgments and giving penalties.

Don’t get me wrong. We need policemen. They maintain order and they bring a sense of security. They serve and protect.

However, when leading a church or an organization, leading as a father rather than a policeman is the better route.

A policeman leads with rules while a father is by relationship.
Both have a vision.
Both have a mission they want to accomplish.
Both have tasks.
Both have people they lead.
Both have people they are accountable to.
But one leads with rules and the other by relationship.

As Steve Murrell said in one of our Asian Pastors Equipping Conferences, “I know that Joey Bonifacio has said that discipleship is relationship. I am here to also say that leadership is relationship.” I couldn’t agree more.

As a result, I have to look at my own leadership and ask, “Am I raising sons or am I raising servants?”

Servants say, “We have to obey because Pastor Paolo is here watching.”
Servants say, “We need to do this because Paolo said.”
Servants say, “We are obliged to do this because that’s the policy.”

Policies should serve the people and not people serving the policies.

Sons have a different perspective.
Sons say, “I do this not because I have to but because I want to.”
Sons say, “It is my privilege as a son to serve in the house.”
Sons say, “I have responsibility and ownership because I am a son.”

A policeman will patrol, regulate, protect and enforce. They may end up having their objectives accomplished but in the end, will raise servants (obedient citizens) and never sons.

As a father, I want to raise sons who can think critically and lead in the future. Maybe even replace me and become way better than me.

A LIFE THAT HAS BEEN SHOWN MERCY

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Emil grew up in a squatter’s area in Pasay city called Tripa de Galina. Because he grew up poor, he believed that he will die poor. All that changed when he met Dustin.

Dustin met him in the University of the Philippines. Because he wanted to reach out to Emil, he did something quite brilliant. He asked Emil if they could register together for the next semester. That being the case, he registered for the same classes and had the same breaks so that he could take advantage of those moments to share Christ with Emil. It actually worked!screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-8-44-20-am

“One thing that Dustin said that really hit me was when he said, ‘Emil, you have a great destiny in God.'”
“Who me? A poor squatter kid from Pasay?”

As Emil embraced the gospel of Christ, his life started to change. He realized how loved and accepted he was by his Father in heaven. That through Jesus Christ, he indeed had a great hope and future.

Today, he teaches urban poor kids about the love of Jesus and they too have a ‘great destiny in God.’ After finishing his mechanical engineering course from UP, he had a lot of offer to work in the country and abroad. But because of his extreme gratitude for God’s salvation project in his life, he chose to do kingdom work and is now a children’s pastor in Victory Katipunan.

Truly, when we have received mercy, we too can extend mercy. When we have received grace, we too can dispense grace. That’s the power by which we can do good.

Luke 10 tells us the story of the Good Samaritan. A man got mugged, robbed and left for dead. It wasn’t the Levite nor the priest that helped but the Samaritan, their lifelong enemy. Because of the racial divide, the Samaritan owed the man nothing but hostility and hate. But that wasn’t what he did. He helped the man, bandaged him, used his donkey and sent him to an inn to be nursed back to full health.

I realize that when we read this story, we point to ourselves and motivate ourselves through guilt. We need to be like the Good Samaritan. But we can’t be like the Good Samaritan until we meet the Great Samaritan. Until we meet the True Neighbor, we can’t be the neighbor we need to be for others. Jesus is the Great Samaritan who came down to our road of despair, picked us up from our destitution and nursed us back into newness of life.

May God give us the grace to always remember that what we have received, we can give away for that alone is the way to truly be a neighbor to others.

LORD, thank You for saving me. I was downtrodden and on the road towards destruction and yet you picked me up and rescued me. I have nothing to boast about for there was no way out of my destitution and sin. But You came. Your rescued. You gave me a new life. As a result, I can extend kindness to others for I have been shown kindness. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

THE DIFFICULTY OF DEALING WITH OFFENSE

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Offense is a very difficult thing to deal with.
False accusations.
Untrue statements.
Stolen opportunities.
Painful conversations.
Hurtful words.
Silent treatment.

These and more are hard to go through.

In Luke 15:20, when the prodigal son came to his senses and endeavored to return home to his father after squandering all his inheritance and ended up working in a pig pen, he didn’t know what to expect.

Neither did the father know what to expect. Without context and without knowing how the son would respond, he runs to him and embraces him. He leaves his porch and offers forgiveness to his son.

I thought that was incredible. Without any idea how the son why the son came back and how he would respond, he goes. The son could be coming back for more money. He could be coming back to steal from his brother. He could be coming back for some other reason but without context, the father goes and offers forgiveness.

When he embraced his son, he must have smelled like the pig pen. Remember, he just came from there. But here’s the truth:

The magnitude of God’s love is greater than the stench of our sin.

He buries his face into the son’s shoulders and kisses him.
He must have played this scenario in his mind over and over.

When offense happens, we usually replay both the painful experience and what we would do when we see that person – what we would say, how our facial reactions be like and our rebuttal to their excuses. But the father must’ve replayed in his heart how he would respond for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak and our actions will show. His response? Compassionate and forgiving love.

And here’s my main point: When offense happens it’s always your move.

Jesus said in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.”
And then in Matthew 5:23, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.”

In both scenarios, Jesus says to go and offer forgiveness, whether you’re the offender or the offended. It’s always your move.

The father didn’t stay on the porch standing and waiting for his son to crawl on his knees and beg for forgiveness. He runs and offers it.

That’s the picture of many homes today. Too many people stand on their porches with folded arms and the painful experience replaying in their hearts waiting for the offender to crawl for forgiveness.

“Well, it’s his fault.”
“She started it.”
“I’m not to blame. He is.”
“They caused the mess. They need to clean it up.”

We all stand on our porches of pride and sink into hellish misery.

May the Lord give us grace to remember that the way we’ve been forgiven empowers us to forgive others. With the mercy dispensed to us, we can dispense it to those who have offended us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing example of forgiveness. None of us deserve it. Not of us are worthy of it. And yet, You did not remain on Your porch in heaven but came to us – from heaven to earth, that we may receive forgiveness, freedom and restored fellowship with You. Help us to do the same with people whom we have offended and those who have offended us. May we be a people who is forgiving for we knows what it means to be forgiven. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER

blog-banners-001(Snippets from Carol Mkize’s message at the Every Nation World Conference 2016 Day 3)

Ukunqoba is a word that means overcomer.
You are an overcomer because God abides in you.
Intimacy with God will drive you to continue when you are no longer with other people.
You will overcome because God’s word abides in you.
Chaos is fertile ground for Christians.
Everything we learned we can now apply in the campus.
1 Samuel 17:38-40: Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
To (Spiritual) Fathers:  
What God used for you to overcome, it might be time to put it down.
The armor you used may not be the armor the next generation will use.
To the Next Generation.
Try it on first.
Don’t deny it right away.
Obedience and submission are not out of the question.
Don’t assume first that it will not work.
We have to walk with this God our fathers walked with.

CAMPUS NIGHT

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(This message was shared by Joseph Bonifacio at the Every Nation World Conference 2016 Day 3)

Why do we do campus ministry?

We do it because we are crazy enough to believe that if we can change the campus, then we can change the world.
This is not just a slogan. It’s our objective.
This is not just a dream we have for ourselves.
This is Jesus’ dream for every son and daughter of God.

How then does this translate?

1. CONNECT WITHOUT COMPROMISING.

Matthew 5:13. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Everyone is called to do this.
Let’s teach the next generation to connect with their generation without compromising their faith and values.

2. EXCEL FOR GOD’S GLORY.

Matthew 5:14. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Excellence cannot be hidden and neither can lack of excellence.
Excel for Christ so that the world will ask why and would want you to be in their team.

3. REDEEM ALL OF SOCIETY.

Matthew 5:16. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Salt that remains in the salt shaker is useless.

The answer to the complication of wickedness is a complication of righteousness. The problem of society is found in the root of sin. And that answer to that is Jesus.

Don’t blame the rottenness of the world. You are called salt and light mainly for that reason – so that you can bring the needed change.

VIDEO SNAPSHOTS FROM CAMPUS NIGHT HERE:

MULTI-ETHNIC HEADACHE

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(This was a message given by Pastor Steve Murrell at Every Nation World Conference 2016, Day 1.)

When Pastor Steve’s American friend met his future father in law who is Japanese, they had no clue how their cultures were so different.

When introduced, one will shake hands (American)  and the other will bow (Japanese). But his friend got a little too close to give a handshake. With a slight bow and being so close to his future father in law, they ended up bumping heads… a multi-ethnic headache.

In Luke 24, there was not a lot of ethnicity in the church. God had to open their minds to understand what Jesus mentions in verses 45-47.

Being called to go to every nation, we will be with people who look different, talk different and maybe even smell different. But the call remains – Go to all the nations!

This gospel is going to be preached to all nations.
The word for nations is the word “ethnos”.
The gospel is going to other ethnicities.

People talk about being color blind. But the problem with being color blind is that you don’t get to celebrate color.

“The church is like the eye. It has a little black in it and a little white in it. And without both, we cannot see.” – C.H. Mason

This gospel message has to go out to the nations and you are the messenger.
A witness is a messenger.
But you are not going alone. Jesus said that His Holy Spirit is going to come.

As a motorcyclist is foolish to go out without a helmet, so is a witness who goes out without the Holy Spirit. It will not only be foolish but also dangerous.

WALKING TOGETHER

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(This was a message given by Pastor Brett Fuller of Every Nation Virginia at Every Nation World Conference 2016, Day 2.)

Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? Amos 3:3

Walking together has many benefits. It may have challenges but the fruit we produce is so much better. We can do things much better than if we do them all by ourselves.img_3429

Walking together requires CONVICTION, CONSISTENCY and COMMITMENT.

1. CONVICTION

Conviction to walk together in the midst of diversity.
Acts 13 shows us picture of diversity. The leaders were Barnabas who was Jewish, Simeon who was also called Niger (word when translated is black), Menaen who was a friend of Herod, Lucius from Cyrene and Saul who was a Jew who loved Gentiles.

Walking together requires a conviction to walk with each other no matter the differences.

2. CONSISTENCY

Walking together also requires consistency.
There ought to be a rhythm.
We are with one another enough that we have lots of opportunities to offend each other. But that is not the issue. We are walking together in the rhythm of the same beat – to go and make disciples of all nations.

We walk together towards a specific direction.
Direction is necessary to get to where we need to go. Going the same direction means confining myself to a navigable route. One of the highlights being in an Every Nation Conference is being in the sessions. But equally amazing is walking through the lobby meeting with the people we can call family.

“We may not know each other – I don’t know you and you don’t know me but I like being with you because we’re going the same direction.”

3. COMMITMENT

And finally, walking together requires commitment.
We are with each other enough, we will give more than enough reason to stop walking with each other. We will say things that may offend. We will give each other dozens of opportunity to say goodbye. But we are here for the long haul. And it is a privilege to walk together for the long haul for the purposes of God.

This is miraculous.
But while it’s miraculous, it doesn’t happen by serendipitous moments.
It is because we make a commitment.
Coming to a conference like this maybe inconvenient and expensive but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re walking together for the long term purposes of God.

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HOW AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE CHANGES HOW WE VIEW THE PRESENT

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In the day to day ministry that I am privileged to participate in, I get to speak with many people who would hit a speed bump in their relationships, careers and future aspirations.

Jessie (not his real name) is uncertain about his future in the current position for he has in the company because he decided to keep his integrity intact by not giving in to the pressure of getting involved with under the table deals. As a result, he gets bypassed for every possible promotion he should’ve had the past years.

Sharon just found out that her husband has had an affair. Though it wasn’t a long drawn out relationship, still, it has crushed her and has no clue how to put the pieces back together with her 2 children.

Rick perseveres to witness to his schoolmates about the gospel message of Christ and yet rejection and persecution slammed the door shut everytime he opened up spiritual conversations.

Now, with our limited perspective, it seems that giving up is a viable option. But this is not what we are told in the Scriptures. The Bible will make no sense at all without the eternal perspective.

In Colossians 3:2-4, Paul declares:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We are told that as a result of what Jesus has done, our lives are no longer lived for our own benefit. With this in mind, we are given a perspective – “this life isn’t all that there is!”  There is a glory that will appear when Christ appears. There is a better end than what we are living in right now. Sin has been conquered. We have been redeemed and heaven and earth will be restored when the New Jerusalem appears. All the troubles, hardship, brokenness and sacrifice would make no sense without an eternal perspective.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied than all men.”
If God isn’t taking us somewhere, then following Jesus is a sheer waste of time!

Why would Jessie keep standing up for his convictions in the workplace?
In everyone’s eyes, he is being stupid.
Why would Rita forgive her husband’s transgression? He doesn’t deserve it. He may be repentant but he’s caused her lots of pain. Without eternal perspective, she is just getting duped.
Why would Rick persist on sharing God’s love to his friends?
If there’s no eternity, then he is just wasting his time.

Everything God does and everything God calls us to do will only make sense from an eternal perspective. Paul says, if our hope is only in this life, then “we are to be pitied than all men.”

But that’s not where the story ends. The story ends with Christ as King of all kings and Lord of all Lords. The story ends with Jesus on the throne victorious. The story ends with God’s people from every tribe, language, nation and people worshiping the Ancient of Days.

Remember, this life isn’t all that there is.
When we see things from an eternal perspective, things eventually make sense.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

RADICAL FORGIVENESS: “First A Sinner, And Second, Sinned Against.”

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A failure to grasp the grace that have been demonstrated to me will cause the failure of demonstrating grace to other people.

I grew up religious. But we all know that being religious doesn’t necessarily mean being righteous. I had a semblance of virtue but only I knew the wickedness brewing inside of me.

It didn’t take long to show on the outside what stemmed from the inside – pride, greed, immorality, selfishness, self-righteousness. And when it did, I would mess up big time.

Gratefully, at 17, God rescued me from my sinfulness. But that rescue mission didn’t stop that moment when I accepted Christ. He had to rescue me daily from slipping back to my old self. I am forever grateful for the gospel that frees me from sin, the Holy Spirit that sanctifies me to become more like Christ and the hope of the resurrection that is to come where sin will no longer be present.

I used to have great difficulty dispensing forgiveness. I said “great difficulty” because to this day, offense is never an easy thing to deal with. But it has become quicker to forgive when I remember that I myself have been forgiven.

I love how Colossians 3:13 (NLT) puts it.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Make allowance for each other’s faults.
In other words, Paul was telling the church, “Expect it. You’ll have to practice forgiveness for offense will happen. The people you have relationship with, they have faults. They are not perfect. Because of that, not only will you have to make allowances for their faults but choose to forgive when the opportunity arises.”

How in the world can we do it?
As the Lord has forgiven, we are to forgive others.

This we need to remember, we are first a sinner
and only secondarily sinned against.
Read it again.
We are first a sinner and only secondarily sinned against.

When we have no idea how much we have been forgiven, it will be hard for us to release forgiveness. If we don’t comprehend how much grace has been dispensed toward us, then we will have a hard time dispensing the same grace to others.

And this will extend to our marriage, friendships, work relationships, family relationships, classmates and church friends.

The more aware we are of our own need for grace, we become more willing to extend it to others.

“But this person doesn’t deserve my grace! You have no idea how much he/she offended me.”
Well, that’s why it’s called grace.
Grace is kindness undeserved.
The bottom line is that the person we choose to forgive may not change when we first extend grace.

Once we embrace this truth, it will not just benefit those we forgive. It will greatly free us from baggages we’ve been carrying for days, weeks, months, maybe even years.

Grace changes everything!

NOTE TO SELF, PASTORS AND FULL TIME MINISTERS

 

 

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The call to shepherd God’s people is an amazing privilege. While I believe that every calling is important in whatever arena – marketplace, academe, athletics, business, entertainment, media – God has specific instructions to those who have been called to full-time ministry.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)

We are called to serve in these ways:

1. Willingly NOT obligatory.

It is an extreme privilege to serve the King.

Serving Him is not a “have-to” but a “get-to”.
Imagine, we get to do what we do. Years ago, we were lost, without purpose and no direction. But because of His grace, we have been given the opportunity to feed the sheep (John 21) and care for the flock (1 Peter 5).

If you find that you are forcing yourself to meet people, prepare for the message on Sunday, pray for people, then consider what’s causing it. Either check your attitude or check your calling.

2. Sacrificial service not personal gain.

We live in a culture where people love to serve. We are a very hospitable people. People love to serve those who are called to serve in the Kingdom of God full time.

As a result, it is quite possible that we can start to enjoy certain ‘privileges’ that are given. We are called to serve and not be served. Jesus came to do just that. We are called to follow that example.

You might find yourself being the first in the buffet line, or being given a seat while everyone stands, or getting special treatment because you are the ‘special guest’ or your Starbucks drink is paid for with an extra chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. When you do find yourselves in these situations, consider the reasons, motives, and consequences.

3. Leading by example NOT lording over people.

A lot of lessons are really more caught than taught. And the power of example can never be underestimated. Paul declared, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Peter encourages the elders of the church he was writing to lead by example. It’s a tough call but the grace of God is overwhelmingly available. He who called us is faithful and He will do it. (1 Thes. 5:24).

Are we asking people to do things that we ourselves won’t do?
If no one else will do it, are we willing to take the initiative?
As we lead, are we doing it for Christ or just so we can give a good example?

That being said, let’s continue to pray for one another, the church of Jesus and all who have yet to hear the wonderful message of Christ’s work on the cross.

Jesus said that He will build His church and the gates of Hades will not prevail. Our role? To continue to plant and water. The growth and increase? That’s up to God.

To all the pastors, thank you for all that you do for the Kingdom of God. I honor you for loving Jesus, preaching the gospel and training leaders who will go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.