When we don’t know who we have been designed to be,
we end up attempting to be someone we’re not.

I know because I’ve tried.

From peer pressure to aspiring to be someone, this pierces through the vein of every man, woman, teen and even child, desiring to be someone or achieve something.

Jesus was in the wilderness, tempted by the devil to be who He wasn’t supposed to be. Satan tempted him by starting his statements with “if you really are the Son of God, then…”

It was interesting that this event came right after His Heavenly Father just confirmed His identity and pleasure towards Him as His Son. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) God declared this before Jesus’ ministry started, way before He’s done anything to please His Father.

It’s not much different with you and me.

When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we end up trying to please God by earning His favor through self-effort and sheer performance. Consequently, we end up doing things we weren’t designed to become.

It’s like seeing…

* A princess feeding from the dumpster
* A prince living like a pauper
* A free man living like a slave
* A child trying to prove Himself to his father
* An heir working for his inheritance he already received.

Translating this to current reality…

* Women looking for love, seeking to find it from one relationship to the next, not realizing that genuine, unconditional and unending love can only be found from our Heavenly Father.
* Men seeking for satisfaction through porn because they’ve settled for a cheap and temporary substitute.
* Students burning hours/days trying to finish an iPad game instead of accomplishing what’s on their plate at this time.
* Entertainers selling their dignity whether live or onscreen “for the sake of art.”
* Public servants who are serving no one else but themselves.
* Business people who have sold everything including their character to achieve financial success.

How do I know? I’ve done it…so many times. It may not have been in these terms but in so many words, I’ve traded Christ’s identity for something unintended for me because I’ve forgotten who He’s made me to be and called me to become.

Thankfully, we are reminded daily by His Word .

I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)
I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1,2)
I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)
I have been established, anointed,
and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)
I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me
will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)
I am significant. I am the salt and light of the earth. (Matthew 5:13,14)
I am God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)
I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)



PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fuzzylittlemanpeach/


It’s so easy to replace the message of the gospel with other fillers as we chronologically advance in our walk with God.

I say chronologically advance because it is possible to grow old in the faith but not necessarily grow up in our faith journey.

Meet a few of hypothetical church members that may be sitting in our pews these days.

1. Busy Bobby

Bobby is busy jumping from one church conference to the next, a current ministry to an additional one and one church activity to another.

However, Bobby’s world and God’s world have never crossed paths. All the church activities have had little impact on his heart and on how his life is being lived.

For him, the gospel is reduced to participation in church activities and ministries.

2. Legalistic Louie

Louie has a set of rule for every situation. He is a walking list of dos and don’ts. His children sees Christianity as a set of rules which has become a heavy burden to carry.

Legalism ignores the depth of our inability to earn God’s favor and pursues the goal of performing to gain God’s nod.

3. Mystic Marie

Marie thrives on emotional experiences. She hops from one conference to another hoping to get a spiritual high every time.

However, while goose bumps are experienced, her faith often falls flat. She faces discouragement and depression 24/7.

Our faith in Christ is not stoic. Our Christianity is peppered with human emotion. However, we cannot reduce the gospel to mere emotional experiences with Jesus.

4. Theological Thomas

Thomas knows the Bible inside and out. He has memorized hundreds of verses and can cite different theological views by every known Bible scholar out there.

However, his character is far from being Christ-like. He is arrogant, critical and looks down on people who opposes his views.

He has mastered the Word but has not allowed the Word to master him.

5. Psychological Sally

Sally loves God but is an offense magnet. Because of the rejection she has experienced in life, she looks to the Word to bring healing and restoration. And rightly so.

But if we see others’ sin as greater than our own, we have a tendency to see Christ as a therapist rather than Savior.

We are flawed and in major debt yet we are unconditionally loved and accepted.

The Bible is not a mere self help book. It is the narrative of God’s redemptive plan for you and me.

These have become replacements to the gospel.

I love what Karl Barth said when asked what’s the one most profound theological precept he has ever encountered.

This was his answer, “Jesus loves me this I know… for the Bible tells me so.”

The gospel is not a self help technique. It is not a mere emotional experience neither a theological thought. It is not a way to gain favor from God.
It is a message that we receive, believe and respond to.
It is good news. This is the gospel by which we have been saved.

The gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)



It’s amazing how the Bible, when lived out by a few ordinary people can be used by God to create a miracle of “changed lives.”

Watch Jappeth’s story of how his life turned around when Jesus stepped in.



I remember when I was young, whenever I’d feel bad about my spiritual condition, I’d go confess my sins and I would be told to pray a number of memorized prayers and then my sins would be “absolved.”

I carried this over in my faith journey when I met Christ. There were moments when I would feel bad about what I ‘ve done, I would ‘punish’ myself by not watching TV or going out with friends for a week.

But before the ‘penalty week’ was over, I would end up doing the same thing again and another week would be added.

It came to a point that I couldn’t even fulfill the commitment to punish myself.

This kept on, not realizing that guilt was what was driving my spiritual life.

If I felt guilty, I’d go to church.
If I felt guilty, I’d read my Bible more.
If I felt guilty, I’d serve others.
If I felt guilty, I’d give extra in the offering plate.

But that’s not what Jesus died for.

The gospel tells us that we have been freed from guilt and shame.

Much more, it never works for guilt to drive my spiritual life.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ’s love compels us.”

In other words, it understanding that I am loved by Him… unconditionally.
THAT is what drives me to love Him back.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I pray that this would be a gentle reminder for everyone of us as we start off this week with Jesus as our number 1 priority.


PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24278074@N08/


I had a meal with a young man some time ago.

He opened up to me that he has been trying to measure up to his parents expectations but he just couldn’t. Unfortunately, this has been carried over to his relationship with Jesus. He told me that growing up, when he doesn’t make it to a particular grade, his father gets upset. Worse, he gets compared with his siblings.

This is not an isolated situation.

Having been a kids pastor for 11 years before, I have heard kids being told that if they don’t make it to second honor, they will not go to Hong Kong Disneyland. Now, that’s pressure. The whole family vacation was placed on the shoulders of that particular 3rd grade student.

This is why the gospel is so freeing.
The redemption story is indeed redeeming.

Jesus destroys any performance orientation embedded in our psyche.

He accomplished what we couldn’t.
He performed what we were unable to.
He finished what we couldn’t even sustain.

Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

If we are unable to wrap our brains around this, we will end up trying to please our Heavenly Father to gain His favor.
Remember, if you are a child of God, you don’t have to try to gain His favor. You ALREADY have His favor through Christ.

Jesus loves you the way you are.
But He loves you too much to let you remain the way you are.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7

OUT OF AN OVERFLOW (#TindogTacloban)

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.



Good news is meant to be shared.

Salary increase. Job promotion. Miraculous healing. Amazing provision. Long awaited pregnancy. Answer to prayers.

When we don’t share it, we rob people of the joy being inspired more so rob God the glory that is due Him.

In 2Kings 7, four lepers were in the middle of a famine in Samaria because food supply was cut off by Aramean army who was taking seige of the city. Positioned at the entrance of the city gate because they are considered ceremonially “unclean”, they had 3 options in the middle of the famine. Die of hunger outside the city gate, die of hunger in the city gates or go to the Aramean camp who’s army surrounds them and die by the sword unless shown mercy.

Their options were to die, die or die. It will be just a question of how.

But if they find favor, they will be allowed to live.

So they decide to go to the camp. To their surprise, the camp was empty. No one was there but everything was still there.

Doritos with the salsa on the table, iPad still plugged on the outlet, TV was on in HBO, coffee brewing in the pot.

What happened?

The Bible says, “… the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” (2 Kings 7:6)

Because of this, they ended up with lots of food and lots of treasures (gold, silver, etc.)

After a whole night of feasting, they talked among themselves…

Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.” (2 Kings 7:9)

They either suddenly grew a conscience or they received divine revelation about their situation.

But for whatever reason they said what they said, it was good to realize, “what we are doing is not right… this is a day of good news.”

All of us are like the 4 lepers.

While we are not in a physical famine, we are in a spiritual one.

The lepers were dejected, disconnected and doomed.

Dejected because they were unclean and considered untouchable.
Disconnected because they were told to stay away from everyone else, thus only allowed to be outside the city gates.
Doomed because of the imminent famine, hunger will slowly eat them up. (Pardon the pun.)

Spiritually, we are dejected because we are unclean.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

We are also spiritually disconnected … because of our sin.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

And we are doomed.

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

But because of His great love, we were rescued from this condition. Jesus saved us from dejection, disconnection and damnation.

God demands more than we could ever think YET He offers more than we could ever imagine.

We will never genuinely appreciate how good the good news is until we realize how bad the bad news is.

Concurrently, how passionate we are in sharing the good news is dependent on how deeply we understand how bad the bad news is.




The word ‘but’ is such a powerful word.

It is a conjunction that is used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned.

“We were losing the game, BUT my teammate made a three point shot that won the game.”
“I was sad and lonely BUT then you came along.” (Boom!)
“My business was on a downturn BUT suddenly sales picked up because of the Christmas season.”
“I was this close to dying BUT God healed me supernaturally.”
“I was lost BUT now found.”

I remember the first time I tried to water ski on a lake.

After a few tries, I was able to successfully do it. One the 5th or 6th try, the speedboat driver told me to hold on. Before I was even able to prepare, I found myself being dragged underwater, swallowing gallons (so it seemed) of lake water.

He then told me to get onto the boat really quick.

Before I had the chance to wring his neck for almost drowning me, he explains that there was a poisonous snake crossing the lake and it was approaching the area where I was.

I was mad BUT when I understood why he did what he did, I turned thankful.

Concurrently, I was supposed to be dead due to a poison bite BUT I was rescued.

“BUT” is a powerful word.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:3-4, “we were by nature deserving of wrath. BUT because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…”

Because we of our sins, we were enemies of God, deserving punishment, hell and life eternally separated from Him.


That was the ultimate game changer.

I pray that this truth will never be less than overwhelmed with His great love for me. I pray that same thing for you too.



The opening number by Judah Paolo, Quest and Yeng Constantino was one of the best I’ve seen seen in any conference. It was inspiring, explosive and anointed. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was at work through the presentation and that Jesus was glorified.

9. J.S.

The fresh preaching of the gospel of Jesus is always a highlight for me. There’s no other message will match the message of the cross. J.S. represented our delegates from different nations. Watching young people from restricted nations worship Jesus openly is an amazing sight.


From the countdown to the session introductions, our video team poured every drop of their creative juices into these videos. The countdown videos were fun and engaging while the session videos set up the message to help both the speaker and the listener.


This one you didn’t want to miss. Both day 2 and day 3 half time shows were out of the ball park. Rachel Ann Go, Yeng Constantino, Quest, Christian Bautista gave the students a treat as they sang. The crowd went wild when Boy Pick Up went on stage. It was such an amazing blessing to hear Ogie Alcasid share his journey of faith and walk with Jesus.

No words here. You just have to be there. It’s just plain “whoa!”

And worshipping Jesus with 9,600 students was unbelievable.

The worship team led and God showed up in every meeting. Kudos to the team.


Listening to a young lady preaching the Word was powerful. She was precise, clear and on point. It was inspiring to believe for more powerful preachers like her.

“The situations you are in right now are not mere coincidences; they are opportunities. And when God provides the opportunities, He will also supply the ability.” – Liane Silla

Edrei’s one point really stuck: “Resolve or dissolve? (like sugar in water)” He spoke about Daniel and how he stood for the right thing.

CJ shared a message on sexual purity. It was indeed an apt message for this generation.

“Your purpose is to glorify God with your heart, soul, mind, strength and body.” – CJ Nunag.

Pastor Jide started out the conference with a bang! “If you live a life that is consecrated and concentrated, the world will realize that you are walking with a holy God.”

4. DAN

The man was the message.

He spoke on the life of Ananias.

His one point? “To make disciples, you just have to be a disciple.”

Simple yet powerful.

He lives this one out. Seeing him from where he was before and where he is now is remarkably inspiring.


More than being his father, I see a young man who has been rescued by Jesus and now lives his life for Him.

Seeing him share his testimony on standing up for Jesus in the campus was stirring and encouraging (running out of adjectives).

I’ve been in the front row watching God work in his life. My wife and i cannot claim any credit. We’re just thankful for the grace of God.

“My relationship with God is more valuable that any of the temporary pleasures that this world has to offer.”


The president and founder of Victory, Steve Murrell, shared a classic.

What kept Paul the apostle persevere through the persecutions? THE RACE, THE TASK, THE GOSPEL.

Finish the race. Complete the task. Testify to the gospel.

But more than his 30 minute message, it’s the 30 years of living this out here in Manila.

Thanks Pastor Steve.


No other name.

He is the very reason why we even have Ignite Conference.

He is the mover, supplier, influencer, provider, rescuer, the cause and the objective of all that we are and do.

You alone are worthy.


How about you, what was yours? Feel free to add to this list.

For more IGNITE CONFERENCE photos, updates, blogs, podcast and audio remixes, click here.



I recently flew in an airplane for a trip with my wife, Jenn.

We usually ride economy because we really love flying economy … the tight seats compared to lazy boy type of seats in business class, the peanuts and bottled water as compared to all you can eat finger foods, the long line leading up to the lavatory as compared to practically none in business class. (You may now snicker because that was a joke.)

And while seated in economy, you look ahead and see this conspicuous and very apparent curtain that divides the wasteland and the promise land.

You are told right at the beginning of the flight that you are not allowed to go in there. You only get to pass through when you are boarding or disembarking.

You pass through and see the sumptuous snacks the favored ones are enjoying, seated comfortably watching “Big Bang Theory” through their personal monitors.

Spiritually speaking, that’s where we were.

Sin has kept us away from the favor. Our offense has separated us from He who desires closeness and intimacy with us.

I said that’s where we were because it is a thing of the past if you’ve experienced being rescued by Jesus.

His redemption enables us to enter into His presence along with enjoying all the benefits of a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

The Bible says that because of Christ’s finished work at the cross, the access to the Father has been opened up. It was symbolized by what happened the very hour He died.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)

Through Christ, the veil has been torn. No more economy nor business class seats in the Kingdom.

Thank God.