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.

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!


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Many today misuse the grace of God to excuse their behavior to continue living in their lifestyle of sin.

Yes, the grace of God is available to save us from sin, but it is also available for us to say NO to sin.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Nick and Elma came to church after being invited by their children. They have been in a live-in situation for years and had thought that since they’ve been in the same situation for 25 years, God would somehow understand.

The grace of God empowers us to correct whatever wrong we’ve stood for in the past.

Watch their testimony on how God spoke to them to make things right.



For many, life has become an endless search for acceptance.

It can be caused by a myriad of reasons – from growing up in a dysfunctional home to rejection by a parent, from being an outcast to always being the last one picked for a team.

As a result, the search has led them to look for it in the wrong places.

In John chapter 4, Jesus met a woman who had everything going against her. She was an outcast for she was a Samaritan, broken for she has had 5 husbands, and thirsty for she asked about water that won’t make you thirsty ever again.

Jesus knew everything about her – her background, her lostness, her brokenness and her transgressions.

But here was the clincher …

Jesus knew her absolutely yet loved her unconditionally.

She recognizes that this man she was talking to was no ordinary man but a prophet. In fact, when she started to talk about the Messiah, he introduces Himself and says, “I who speak to you am He.”
Her life from that day was no longer the same.

She shares to people from her hometown, and the Bible says many then believed in Christ. And here’s their declaration,

“It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

Even if your life’s a mess, Jesus can turn it into a message.
He did it for the Samaritan woman. He can definitely do it for you and me.


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These days, grace has been taken to unbiblical proportions. There’s a lot of talk, conversations and messages about grace but I believe that it needs recalibrating back to what Scripture declares.

I know that one blog can’t cover the vastness of this truth.
I also realize that it might not be the most popular post I’ll write about.

As a pastor, I encounter countless of counseling sessions with couples who live in for a variety of reasons ranging from convenience to financial pragmatism. As i officiate baby dedications, a number of the parents had their babies first before they got married. Granted that repentance and faith were part of the journey, the chronology of the God’s original design for marriage and family life has now been reversed. The original sequence of courtship, engagement, marriage, honeymoon and then babies has been interchanged.

The unbiblical teaching of “it’s-ok-because-I-can-repent-tomorrow-because-God-is-gracious-and-forgiving” has become prevalent.  It has taken a turn towards licentiousness.

Titus 2:11-12 declares: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”


The Apostle Paul tells Titus that God’s grace has appeared to bring salvation. It is by grace we have been saved through faith which is God’s gift, totally undeserved so that no one can boast. We were all deserving eternal punishment because of our sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23) Even if we’ve tried to produce righteous acts of our own, they are still filthy rags in His sight. (Isaiah 64:6)

But because of the mercy and kindness of God, He sent His one and only Son to provide a way for us to be reconciled back to the Father. (See John 3:16)


Paul says that grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Grace doesn’t give us the license to do whatever we want.
Grace empowers us to do all that God commands.

When people preach on the Lordship of Christ, it is very possible that they be dubbed as legalistic. There is a thin line between legalism and pursuit of holiness. What is it, you may ask? The motive.

Legalism desires to gain greater favor from God by accumulating brownie points in heaven while impressing others with their moralistic self-righteousness. On the other hand, the one who pursues holiness does so out of gratitude to the immense salvation he received because of the grace of God.

I love how R. Kent Hughes puts in his book, The Disciplines of a Godly Man.

“There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline. Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.”

Legalism is man trying to be saved (or gain divine favor) through his good works, while Biblical holiness is one who is already saved, showing good works as a result of their salvation.



PHOTO CREDIT: http://joshuareich.org/2015/06/29/when-grace-isnt-what-you-expected/


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You and I have met people who are curt and abrasive with their words that leave people wounded and hurt after a simple conversation.

On the other hand, we also have been with people who is all grace that it has become mere tolerance of sin. And THAT is  not biblical grace.

I recently was talking to a young person from church who had a bad experience. She looked up to this person because of her admirable leadership qualities. But with her strength came certain weaknesses. She was quick to cut conversations and swift to make conclusions. Most of the time, she was actually right. But the way it was done was offensive.

Many times, it is not what is being said but how it is said.

The other extreme is to merely listen and remain silent to the point of tolerance. I met with someone with a similar experience. His friend was clearly in sin. But since he wanted to stay connected with his friend, he didn’t want to say anything. It was borderline tolerance and condoning.

The Bible says that “wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

Paul says in Colossians 4:6,Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 

May  know when to speak and when to listen, what to say and how to say it, and be a friend rather than an observer for open rebuke is better than hidden love.


Lord, remind me that I have been given two ears and one mouth so that I may listen more and speak less. And when I speak, may I speak with truth combined with grace. You came, Word made flesh, dwelt among us full of grace and truth. May we live life as well filled with grace and truth. In Jesus name. Amen.


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


One of our pastors in Manila related to us the story of a young man who served in church and was seemingly on fire for Jesus. (There are 15 locations with 100 plus pastors serving in Manila.)

But when he found out that he was in a pattern of sexual immorality – going home to sleep with his girlfriend after serving in church, he confronted this young man. He asked if how he felt about this and if he know this lifestyle was displeasing to God.

To this, the young man replied, “Well, God’s grace is abundant anyway. I can just go to Him to ask for forgiveness every time we sin.”

Paul wrote to the church in Rome to clarify certain things about the gospel of grace. The Jews and Gentiles were swinging from legalism to licentiousness and vice versa.

Here were a few clarifications he wrote down.


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1,2)

No man can at the same time be both dead and alive. And since we are dead to sin, then sin no longer has power of us.

Some have reasoned that since grace increases “all the more” when sin abounds, then believers ought to sin more so they could experience more grace!

To this, Paul vehemently retorts, “By no means!”

The abundance of God’s grace was not designed to encourage sin.

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4)


His grace doesn’t just have the power to set us free, but also to empower us walk in freedom.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with – that we should no longer be slaves to sin -because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)

In others words, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SIN! You and I are no longer powerless to say no to sin. Whence before, we were unable to go against the flow, now we can.

The grace of God has not only freed us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin.


A dead salmon can never swim upstream. Why? He’s dead! Lifeless. No power.

But a live one is able to go against the flow. Same with us. We were dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1) but now we are alive in Christ. Thus, we are empowered by the grace of God to live righteously.

This is not to say we live perfect lives. It only means we now can say no to sin and yes to God.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

I love what Max Lucado said,
“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.”


One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to compare yourself with someone weaker or lesser. That’s one of the oldest tricks in the book.

When it comes to spirituality, we carry this over and feel good about our walk with God because “I’m not as bad as the other guy.”

But coming to Christ by His grace won’t work if we think that way.

We are saved BY GRACE … not by what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). The standard is set by Him not by us. And because this is so, then it doesn’t matter if we are better than the other person because the Bible says that ALL have sinned and have fallen short (Romans 3:23)

I love how Max Lucado puts it in his book “In the Grip of Grace.”

Judging others is the quick and easy way to feel good about ourselves. A convenience-store-ego-boost. Standing next to all the Mussolinis and Hitlers and Dahmers of the world, we boast, “Look God, compared to them I’m not that bad.”

But that’s the problem. God doesn’t compare us to them. They aren’t the standard. God is. And compared to him, Paul will argue, “There is no one does anything good” (Rom. 3:12).

Suppose God simplified matters and reduced the Bible to one command: “Thou must jump so high in the air that you touch the moon.” No need to love your neighbor or pray or follow Jesus; just touch the moon by virtue of a jump, and you’ll be saved.

We’d never make it. There may be a few who jump three or four feet, even fewer who jump five or six; but compared to the distance we have to go, no one gets very far. Though you may jump six inches higher than I do, it’s scarcely reason to boast.

Now, God hasn’t called us to touch the moon, but he might as well have. He said, “You must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). None of us can meet God’s standard. As a result, none of us deserves to don the robe and stand behind the bench and judge others. Why? We aren’t good enough. Dahmer may jump six inches and you may jump six feet, but compared to the 230,000 miles that remain, who can boast?

The thought of it is almost comical. We who jump three feet look at the fellow who jumped one inch and say, “What a lousy jump.” Why do we engage in such accusations? It’s a ploy. As long as I am thinking of your weaknesses, then I don’t have to think about my own. As long as I am looking at your puny jump, then I don’t have to be honest about my own. I’m like the man who went to see the psychiatrist with a turtle on his head and a strip of bacon dangling from each ear and said, “I’m here to talk to you about my brother.”


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your situation? I have.

Sometimes, life feels a lot like a juggling act – family, work, personal, ministry, responsibilities…

The same grace God gives to save is the very same grace to empower and enable.

Here’s what John Blanchard says,

“So he [God] supplies perfectly measured grace to meet the needs of the godly. For daily needs there is daily grace; for sudden needs, sudden grace; for overwhelming need, overwhelming grace. God’s grace is given wonderfully, but not wastefully; freely but not foolishly; bountifully but not blindly.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)



I received a Facebook message asking how to talk to a person who is living in with her boyfriend.

“During the small group discussion, they found out that this new girl was living in with her boyfriend. The new girl had questions with regards to relationships.

…being in that situation, what would be the best thing to say and do? Open the Bible and direct her to the verses that apply to her? Oh, to make things a little more complicated, the newbie’s boyfriend told her that if she leaves him because of her religion/faith, it’s like she’s condemning him.

I know that the choice of words matter a lot if I wanted the right message to be conveyed.”

This was my reply to her…

First of all, let me establish biblical principles and standards.

Fornication is sin. Sexual immorality is against the design of God. (1 Thes. 4:7)
Sex is something God created and it is beautiful … within the boundaries of marriage and marriage ALONE.

Now, in terms of confronting a person in your small group, it is important to consider the relationship.
If you have a good relationship, the Bible says that open rebuke is better than hidden love. Therefore, i will ask God for the perfect opportunity to talk to my friend about the ‘live in’ relationship. Obviously not in front of anyone so that he/she won’t be put on the spot.

If there’s no relationship, I will do my best to connect with this person so that i can earn the right to be heard so that i can come and approach with love, compassion and much of the grace of God.

The gospel is not just for those who don’t know Christ. It is equally for those who know Jesus and yet living in sin.

When Jesus said, it is finished, He meant, it is paid for – both for the Christian and those who don’t follow Christ.

Hope this helps.