Monday, March 2, 2015

Don't settle for CHEAP WORSHIP

It's quite common to see statuses on facebook on a sunday or monday about people's experiences with worship. I often see "I had an awesome worship session today at church", or "You guys should seriously come to our church, we have an awesome worship team!", or "I just had THE BEST worship today at my church, God is good!"

In my OWN spiritual journey, a journey to seek Christ and try to get to know Him, I have learnt that worship is not dependent on where you are, the sound system, the worship team, or even the pastor's delivery of the sermons. In fact, it has nothing to do with all that (I can almost see alot of eyebrows going up right about now haha). But seriously, I believe that It has more to do with your relationship with Jesus . And more importantly: HOW MUCH OF YOURSELF you SURRENDER to Him on a daily basis (or at that moment of worship). 

I remember writing the song "Found Me" about a couple of years ago. I had this tune when I woke up and the words just flowed out of my mouth. The chorus goes "I SURRENDER! My life I give to you, there's no one else but You. You rescued me.". And at that moment, I completely surrendered myself while writing this song and I found myself in tears and crying like a baby that I couldn't go on. Just acoustic my pajamas...unfinished lyrics and broken chords...but still deep in worship.

A Christian man told me once that he disagreed with my definition of worship, that he best experiences Jesus (and feels connected to Him the most) when the sound system is awesome and the worship band is spot on. 

I didn't respond to it, but I had one thought in my head and it was...

"So are you saying that a child in Africa who is living in poverty and has no access to an expensive sound system (or a conference) has less of an opportunity to experience Christ?".

I want to clear something up:
I'm NOT saying that pastors' sermons are a waste of time. 
I'm NOT against conferences or churches who have awesome sound systems and a great worship band. =)

What I am saying is that YES they may help, BUT they are just tools. We shouldn't be dependent on these tools alone. When we rely on attending a conference, or depend on WHO the pastor is (Oh yeh, we gotta go to this church coz THAT GUY is the pastor there), or depend on the worship band (AS IF it's THEIR responsibility) to have a closer connection with Jesus, that's when it becomes wrong. This is what I call "cheap worship", don't settle for it. Seek Him and you shall always experience His love no matter where you are.

This is when we need to think about our relationship with Jesus, and really be honest about it. Jesus didn't die on the cross for us so that we can experience Him in full JUST on Sundays and sometimes throughout the year when we attend conferences and festivals! 

The WORD is the same and is always relevant, regardless of who is delivering it, when and where.

We need to challenge ourselves to REALLY seek the WORD, to have a deeper connection with JESUS everyday!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Take heart

I was listening to a song by Elevation Worship called "Give Me Faith" which has these words:

I need You to soften my heart
And break me apart.
I need You to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life.

Such powerful words and speaks so much truth about how our God can restore us when we feel so hurt or broken.

This song takes me back to 12 years ago when God started to put me back together again.

In my early 20's, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Something I'm sure my parents were not proud of (as a parent myself, I would know how they would have felt)...or maybe they didn't know because I was here in Australia whilst they were back in Manila, Philippines. 
It got SO bad that I started selling drugs so that I could buy it at a discounted rate and make money at the same time. But what I didn't realize at that time was that it was destroying my life. I lost all my friends, lost contact with my family, and I was so thin I looked sick all the time. 

I was beaten, shattered to a thousand pieces, and I felt like I couldn't live my life anymore. I wanted to end it.

Debt collectors were chasing me, my work kept calling me wondering where I was (I just stopped turning up to work), and I couldn't afford to pay rent, my bills, and food. So I took the plug off my home phone to avoid people, locked the doors of my apartment, closed all the windows & locked myself in for 2 weeks, with no source of food except for what was left in my fridge; which wasn't much.

I started arguing with God one night. It was very dark as my electricity was cut off, I remember sitting in one corner of the house, no hope, no future, frail, lost, confused, ANGRY. I was shattered. Broken. Beaten. I cried to God that night for the 1st time of my life. At first I was angry and blamed Him for everything. "Is this it?! Is this THE life that you have given me?!"

My anger turned to confusion...then sorrow. So I asked for His help to get me out of this mess. "Jesus, if You are there, please help me; save me!"

The next day when I woke up, I plugged my home phone in and it rang, after 2 weeks of being offline. To my surprise, it was Juanita (my wife). She was checking up on me & was worried. That's when I picked up the bible for the first time which led me to John 3:16. I knew that God sent me an angel and this was my 1st step to healing.

Just because you are broken, it doesn't mean you can't be fixed. Sometimes we need to be broken from our old ways so that God can slowly put the pieces of our puzzle together...the right way. His way. The way that it is meant to be.

Joyce Meyer was sexually abused by her dad when she was young. Jeremy Camp lost his wife from cancer a few days after they got married. Bo Sanchez was abused when he was young. They are ordinary people who lived a hurtful life and now live an extraordinary life serving God. They used their painful experiences not to blame God but to inspire others to love God. They are perfect examples of how God can turn our lives around, and how He can use us to lead and inspire others.

If you are going through some brokenness, take heart! Don't give up. Focus on Jesus and I promise you that He will take you out of your darkness.

And it gets better - If you commit to Him and follow his lead, He will bless you with all the joys of this world. All you have to do is ask.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I want to be cool

I have always wanted an iPhone ever since 4 year ago (2009).  Early that year it seemed that all of my friends had one, which they admired. I mean, why wouldn’t you want one? With this gadget, you can call, text, check emails, go on facebook and twitter, check your bank account, play games, listen to music, and download some cool apps that would change my life – the perfect phone! Plus the fact that having an iPhone would make me look 1,000 times cooler. Later that year on my birthday, I decided to give myself a gift…yes a brand new iPhone 4. This was the latest thing! All my friends had either the iPhone 3 or 3S. I would be the coolest cat in the block! I was able to download my favorite music on the spot, play cool games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja whilst waiting on the train to work, check my emails on the go and reply straight away, post stuff on facebook and share things to people anytime I wanted to; I was on this thing for most of the day, it was great!

After months of giving it my full attention, it hit me like a ton of bricks; I realized that it’s really not that great. That it was an artificial happiness. That it was compromising the one thing that mattered the most, my family time.

I remember my wife kept telling me (felt like nagging, but don’t tell her that) “You spend too much time on that thing, its not good. You have to spend more time with us”. And I remember always replying with “But I just need to send this email, or send this text, or post this on facebook”, or even to a point of desperation I say “But this is cool, I can download some games for the kids to play”.

You see my friends; this is what happens when we get obsessed with the things of this world. We make excuses. In the bible it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world” (Rom 12:2, NIV). The world will always tell us that this product is great, that you need this, that without this you will suffer, that this shiny thing is the best thing in the world, that this will make you really pretty and popular, that you will not be cool without it. In Colossians 3:2 it tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

It reminds me of the movie, The Matrix. When Neo chose to learn more about what the Matrix truly is. It is an artificial world created by robots where humans are used as slaves. When I was young, I was na├»ve. The older I get, the more I realize that what this world has to offer is not what I truly want. Yes I did upgrade to a newer iPhone 5 recently, but it is really nothing special but a toy created by men who do a great job in making other people realize that they need to buy it. The difference nowadays is that I am aware of this fact and that I have stopped making excuses to my wife about why I need it. The fact of the matter is, I don’t need it. I am not a slave to it anymore. I focus more on God’s promise: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33, ESV).

Focus Question:
Are you living by the standards of this world? Or by God’s standards?

You are awesome!

Let me be the first to admit that when I was young, I was a trouble-maker.
I was the black sheep of the family, the middle child, the irresponsible one.
My family migrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1991. I was 13, going on 14 that year. 
It was hard for me, going into a new country and feeling that I had to go back to square 1. New friends. New home. New school. New lifestyle.
During my time in primary school, particularly towards the end of primary school (grades 5 to 7), I was bullied. Most probably because of my appearance.
I was short, fat, and wore glasses...the 3 worst things you can have in an all-boys exclusive private school in Manila. 
But when we moved to Australia, I decided to be a new "me", leave my old "me" behind and start afresh.
I started to play basketball which resulted in hanging out with the "cool group" throughout high school in Brisbane.
This meant doing the wrong things and being in trouble by the teachers. 
But I didn't care, I was at the top of my game and felt that I was invincible.
But when there is a high, there will definitely be a low. 
One of the lowest part of my high school life and one that I will never forget is during year 12 when the guidance counselor of our school told me that I had no future. 
That I wasn't going to make it in life. 
OUCH! What was that now?! You are a guidance counselor, right??? 

Friends, I will share to you something SO IMPORTANT. Something that no-one has ever told me while growing up.
And if someone did, maybe (just maybe) I would've been a better person alot sooner. 
Are you ready for this?

You are a child of THE KING!
You were created in God's image!
You are destined to do GREAT THINGS!
Don't EVER doubt yourself.

Philppians 4:13 says that I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.

Do me a favour. I want you to write this verse down on large font on a piece of paper and stick in on your bedroom wall.
Let it be one of the 1st things that you see when you wake up.
Say it out loud if you can, repeatedly.
Let it be your prayer everyday for the rest of your life.

People will try to break you, they will try to tell you that you are not good enough.
They will try to hurt you and take you to their place where they are in pain and suffering. 
This is life. I'm just being honest. 
I used to get angry and retaliate. I used to feel so unworthy and broken. I used to come home grumpy and take it out on my wife and kids.
Let me tell you now that this is not what God has intended for us to be, 
He wants nothing more than to give us all the joys of this world. But the devil on the other hand would love to see us suffer.
I have learnt to say "NO" to the devil and push him away. I do this by always seeking Jesus whenever I find myself in a negative situation.
I have learnt to say a simple prayer and just say His name "Jesus" many times. 

My prayer to you is that you will realise how important you are to God. 
That you will go forth in this world knowing that you are a child of God and that you can do all things through Christ! Amen!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Think BIG!

Every now and then I get a realisation about who I truly am, who I have become as a person, and what my purpose in life is. In this busy world that I live in trying to juggle work, family, music, etc  that little tap on the shoulder from God is a breath of fresh air. Last night I had one of those taps, but on a bigger scale. In all honesty, it was more like a couple of slaps across the face. Along with several other Catholic friends, I attended the Indescribable Worship Event here in Brisbane. It was a great feeling to be surrounded with 2,000 other people that believed in Jesus, and singing songs of praise to music led by the Parachute Band, Henry Seeley (Planetshakers), and Chris Tomlin and to top it off was hearing the Indescribable talk in person. It seemed like it was just me, Louie Giglio, and Jesus in that room because eventhough I have seen the talk before many times, it felt like I was hearing it again for the first time. It wasn’t so much that there was Louie Giglio right infront of me, in the flesh, but more so the fact that he and the whole team brought me even closer to God. Louie talked about how big our God truly is, and also how small we really are in this world. He mentioned about how God created the Universe and when He spoke, there was light (Gen 1:3). He also pointed out the fact that God is so huge that one breath out of his mouth, he created light; and the fact that the speed of light travels at 300,000 km per second! That is how BIG our GOD is.

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6 (NIV)

That scripture was the main theme for River Jordan 20ten, a youth event that Juanita and I organised which focused on showcasing the God-given talents of our local youths while raising money for youth homelessness. Organising an event is very challenging but also very rewarding. I’ve always believed that we should do more for our Lord. Something inside of me knows that there is so much more than this. That we can do it much better for our Lord! That by putting that little bit of an extra effort makes it more rewarding in the end. I am talking about serving God, the quality of our service, the effort that we put in to our service. Do you feel this way? Are you feeling discontent with just going to church every week? Are you longing for something more? Do you dream about serving God in a much bigger way? Do you have the desire of getting hundreds of people together to praise our God with one voice?! Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should not go to church just because you feel no satisfaction or if you feel that there is still something missing. The problem there is maybe you haven’t opened up your heart to God, and therefore not able to hear His message. Going to church and visiting God in His Home on a regular basis is one of the most important things you need to do in this earth. I’m more focused on doing MORE for Him, thinking of ways to do it better for Him in terms of your service. And I firmly believe that making a big deal about an event for our God is very important.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

I remember spending hours creating visuals and multimedia for River Jordan and with the previous events, choosing the right songs for the praise and worship, day after day rehearsing with the band to get the songs right, countless emails sent to performers and crew members to ensure that everything is going as planned, and most importantly spending hours upon hours with our Lord, just talking to Him and making sure that the event is how He would want it. I believe that when we are serving the Lord it has to be unconditional, consistent, loving, open, unmeasured, and radical. There are 3 steps that I would like you to try from now on:

1.    Take away your pride – be reminded that this is not about YOU, but all about our GOD. Your ideas might be great and achievable, but God’s ideas are even better!
2.    Surrender your heart – recognise that He is your God and you are His servant. You are serving Him and not your own ego. Once you surrender to Him, then that is the only time that you will be able to hear His plans.
3.    Think of what you know now and about how you do things now and multiply that by 100 – think outside the little box that you live in. Always invite yourself to think that it could be so much better than this!  Stop thinking that it is not possible, that you are too busy now as it is, do not be fearful of the unknown and start trusting in the Lord who makes all things possible. If you serve Him and Him alone, nothing can go wrong. NOTHING!

Our God is so much more greater than you’ll ever comprehend! He created the Heavens and the Earth! He can create the stars by the breath of his mouth. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, iHHimthe King of all kings, our Creator. He wants nothing more than to be praised and for us to give Him all our love. Be with Him. Love Him. Adore Him. Spend time with Him. Serve Him with all of your heart and soul and please make a big deal out of it! Because even with all our flaws, He still makes a big deal out of you.

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26

Monday, December 13, 2010

Know Your Calling part 2

1 Timothy 4:14 (NET) Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you.

In my last post I talked about searching for your purpose, your “calling” in life. This is somewhat a continuation of that post where I will be discussing more about your talents. Just to clarify, what I mean by talent is not merely artistic talents such as musical abilities, but any type of outpouring of yourself to others. If you are unsure what your talents are then ask yourself this question. What is it that you can do, not just for yourself but for others?

Juanita and I attended our first Catholic conference together as a married couple, back in 2006. It was for a charismatic Catholic community called Couples For Christ. The conference was held at the Gold Coast, here in Australia. I was blessed to have been part of the worship team, which was just one of many ministries during the weekend. Being part of the worship team made me realise that my true passion was to serve God through my music. There were other ministries such as production, multimedia, and technical staff. However I would like to pay special attention to the following ministries: child minding, transportation, catering, ushers, registration, even the people that tidy up. These my brothers are sisters are all ministries of our Lord. In God’s eyes, it doesn’t matter if you are up on the stage and leading the worship, or at the back of the venue opening doors for people. As long as your heart is fulfilling your role for God then it is an act of ministry. Let me ask you again. What is it that you can do, not just for yourself but ESPECIALLY for others? What is your calling? Are you good with music? Then maybe you are called to be part of the music ministry. Do you have IT background? Maybe you are called to serve in the technical areas, setting up laptops for talks or projectors or even multimedia. Do you have a passion for kids? Then maybe you can help by being part of child-minding during events? Do you like meeting new friends? Maybe you are called to serve as part of the transport team where you may be meeting new people.

When you use your talents to serve God, then that is when you will realise your full potential - as a musician, as a youth worker, as a child minder, parking attendant, caterer, IT person, but mostly as a person that God has intended you to be. This includes helping your fellow brothers and sisters, especially the needy regardless if they are Christian or not. When you are helping them then you are helping God’s people. And when you are helping God’s people then you are serving God.

1 Peter 4:10 (NET) Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God

God Bless you always!

Your Bro in Christ,


Monday, December 6, 2010

Know Your Calling part 1

Less than a year ago I asked my (then) 6-year old son, Isaiah, what he wanted to be when he grows up. He had a blank look on his face (as if he has not been asked this question by anyone in his life!). His immediate reply was "I dunno". So I interrogated him a bit further, being the persistent dad that I am. I asked him "So, what do you enjoy doing? Is it playing sports? Or dancing? Or drawing?". His reply was "I like playing with Pivot and playing with Wii and Playstation and the DS." Pivot is a computer program where you can create an animation using stick figures. "Oh I see", I replied excitedly. "Do you know that there is this job called a Games Programmer, where people get paid creating computer games?". And in a flash, his eyes lit up and there was this huge smile on his face. Suddenly the confused boy became an inspired programmer - the future is bright! Last week, I asked him again what he wanted to be when he grows up. His reply "A Games Programmer, dad!".

When I was young, I always wanted to be in the army. I had this army uniform that I got given when I was about 5, and according to my mum, I used to wear it everyday. The closest that I got to a real army uniform was when I was given a brochure about joining the Australian Army Reserve, when I was about 23 years old - 10 years ago.

Let me ask you this. What is it that your heart desires so much of? Do you know why you are here, on earth? What do you enjoy doing the most? What is your calling in life? I never knew the word "calling" until I started hanging around with Jesus-loving people. But it really sums up our core existence...our spiritual being...our purpose. When I was growing up, I used to keep a diary, which showed my love for writing. I also loved to sing in our church choir. I think that was the only reason I went to church back then. Oh and meeting girls, hehe. In highschool, I used to love jamming with some guys in the music room, playing the drums and also abit of the guitar.

Now that I think about it, those were seeds that God planted in my life. And what happens to a seed when it is planted over time? It can grow into this massive tree, roots going deep into the ground, branches that stretch out as far as it can, an abundant amount of leaves hanging on the many branches, and of course flowers or fruit. Wow!!! Isn't that amazing?! Isn't it a miracle happening right before our eyes?! I think it is! Like a tree, that is how I see myself, how I see this life that God has given me. What is my calling? To sing to and for our God! To write and share my heart to all His people via this blog or talks or even Facebook! To proclaim His glory using a pen, some scraps of paper, and my voice and hands! THAT is what I was created to do. THAT is what I enjoy the most. THAT is what my heart so desires. THAT my brothers and sisters, is my CALLING! That's right! There's no "buts" or "ifs" about it. I find inner peace and joy when I am with my God through my music, writing songs for Him, singing His praise, or sharing my life experiences to people so that they too can learn more about my God.

2 Timothy 1:9 (NET) "He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began."

Again I ask you. What is YOUR CALLING?

Have a blessed day!