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!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life is a Miracle

What is it about life that we find so interesting and worth it? Is it your friends? Your family? Is it the anticipation of going out with your close friends and getting excited about the awesome night that you are about to have? Or maybe it’s the idea of the unknown, the excitement of what lies ahead, the thought of being able to do it again tomorrow but somehow “differently”.
You might be one of those people that take it day-by-day, focusing on what is now. Not really concerned on what you are going to do or eat tomorrow. Someone who is more focused on what you can achieve today and not aware of the consequences tomorrow. Absolutely nothing wrong with that! Every person is different – unique.
Or maybe you are someone who thinks ahead. Someone who plans their life 2 or even 5 years into the future.  Someone who has committed to a 3-monthly budget system or even putting away 10% of your pay towards a savings account. Someone who just gets excited by the thought of what the future holds. Just so you know, I would most certainly fall into this category. Easily and without a doubt! Want some proof? Check the Hizon budget spreadsheet, it is all there – 2 months worth of expense and revenue. Some people call it pedantic. Some say obsessive-compulsive. I’m a Virgo, what can I say?
But alas! I was not always like this. I remember living through life one step at a time. Back in my early 20’s, I was filled with youthful desires, enthusiasm, ego, testosterone, you name it! But didn’t you know that it was completely normal for a young male to be experiencing this in their life? I was young, had a full-time job, had friends, had no curfew, was independent, and not a care in the world. I used to look forward to Fridays for the fact that it was going to be a weekend full of – well the UNKNOWN. The idea of going out clubbing with my friends, being in the midst of hundreds of people in the City or the Valley, drinking our heads off with all the possible combination of alcohol in the list, and taking as much drugs as we could get our hands on. My friends and I would start the afternoon at someone’s pad with a “bong” session, as apparently smoking pot was the base of all great nights. Not sure which Chinese Proverb this was out of, but we believed it anyway. Then the excitement as it got dark, and we start to get ready for the clubs; putting on our best clothes and cologne, turning on the music as loud as possible, bopping and dancing along to the music whilst we finish off our hair. Maybe a game or two of Tekken on the PS2 to put us in a mood…not sure what mood it was, but boys will be boys. OK, I’m going to “fast forward” a bit. The night was going great and as planned! There I was, in the middle of the dance floor, dancing the night away at 2am, not a care in the world. Alcoholic beverages were bottomless, and it was such a great vibe! Great people in the clubs, great music, great everything! Even though my wallet was $300 lighter….did you think I cared? Well, that’s how I felt anyway. Can you relate? By this time, I was blind as a bat and felt like the happiest person in the world! I remember being happy, coz I kept hugging all my friends (including males) and telling them how much I loved them. OK ok, a little weird? Not when you’re in the moment. Plus by then, I would’ve had a total of 5 ecstasy pills, 4 lines of coke, and a point of ice.
NOT A CARE IN THE WORLD. I was focused on what was NOW and didn’t care about my life tomorrow or in the future. No savings account, no 2-month budget plan, no plans for the future…NOTHING. But where there is a high, there is also a low….very low. I know I’ve hurt many people, especially my loved ones. And I certainly realised that I am lucky to be alive after abusing my body with all that alcohol and drugs. Yes I was irresponsible, an alcoholic and drug abuser, and it is something that I will carry on my shoulders as long as I live. Even to this day, I think that I was irresponsible not only to myself, but more so to my loved ones. What if I had one bad ecstasy tablet, a dud, I could’ve had an overdose – can you imagine what my family would’ve felt if they found out I was dead from a drug or alcohol overdose?! Do you think this was the life that my parents wanted me to live?
People tend to forget the beauty of life. Especially when they’re so consumed by their human desires. These days, my kids keep me grounded. Whenever I’m having a bad day at work or some guy cut me off whilst out driving, I just have to watch my kids play and I snap out of it. That is when I realise that even with all the bad things in the world, there are always good things around us. You just have to learn where to look. Up to this day, I still can’t believe that I have been given these 2 beautiful little boys. And soon about to be blessed with a 3rd child. Some people say that there is no proof that God exists and questions about his so-called miracles. HELLO?!?! Look around you! LIFE…..IS A MIRACLE!!! Just think about this for a second. If life is a miracle, and we have been given life, then WE…are all miracles. Yes YOU…you ARE a miracle. There’s your proof! Can you believe that? I can. Just imagine this scenario….there you are, a small baby, and your parents holding you tight for the first time…proud as ever. As a father, I can be certain your parents would be thinking that you are an angel brought down from heaven…the most beautiful thing in the world….a miracle.
Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Take care of the body that you have been given. Take care of all your families and friends who love you. Take care of your future. Be considerate of other people and don’t be so consumed with all the earthly matters. Fair enough, go out and have fun and be the young person that you are. But you must know where to draw the line. Set some boundaries for yourself. Fight for what you believe in! Learn to say enough is enough. And lastly, be the person that God wants you to be, which is to be happy, kind to others, forgiving, thoughtful, considerate of others, positive, loyal, grateful to your parents and people that have helped you, and most of all, loving. God bless yaz! Peace!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Attitudes Are Contagious

Juanita and I currently have 2 beautiful boys: Isaiah aged 6 and Noah aged 2. It is quite clear that little Noah admires his big brother. Everything that Isaiah does, Noah tries to copy him. Isaiah is very artistic as he loves to draw, colour, and do art craft work. He has his art box and every now and then, he pulls it out and makes something out of nothing. He loves to create. Noah thinks that it is so cool, so he pulls out his own paper and pen and sits next to Isaiah. All he does is scribble and goes “Look everyone!”, and we usually reply saying “Awww, that’s good Noah!”. Isaiah just shakes his head and laughs.

They are typical brothers; one minute they love each other and really care for each other, the next they are the worse of enemies and are scrapping and screaming at each other. One time Isaiah got so angry, he advised Noah (in a loud screaming voice of course) to “Shut up!”….added with a bit of “Loser!” in the end of the sentence. Since then, Noah started saying those words as well. And nowadays, every time Noah disagreed with our requests, he would tell us to S-up and call us Losers. Ha, funny to think about it now - this little, cute, innocent 2yr old, but not so funny during the time. Can you imagine us in the shopping centre – “Noah, don’t do that please.” … and all you can hear is this loud voice going SHUT UP DADDY (or MUMMY)! LOSER! LOSER! People would be staring at us and we just feel like melting. Deep-down inside you feel like doing what Homer (Simpson) does to Bart…”Why you little!!!”.

“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” – Author Unknown

When I was growing up, I was troublesome. My parents can vouch for that. I don’t remember how many times I’ve tried to run away from home. And I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve had a screaming battle with my parents, and brothers as well. I can’t tell you why that was or what started it all. Maybe I needed to feel loved? Needed more attention? But then again, I’m sure my parents and brothers tried to show me love and gave me heaps of attention. I think maybe I just needed to snap out of it and mature. I don’t know. All I know is that I feel ever so bad every time I think back and realise how awful I treated the people around me, the people who love me the most. But hey, you can just apologise and move on and make it right from then on. Have you ever noticed that when you are in a good mood, that everything around you feels so positive and beautiful? And when you are in a bad mood, it feels like the whole world is falling on top of you? Just think that you have complete control of your emotions. There are only 2 ways to go about it: happy or sad. Which one will you choose? I know it is hard sometimes to snap out of it when someone's just called you a nasty name or has made negative comments about you. What I would suggest that you could do, is find your "quiet space". For me, it is sitting somewhere where I can see the sky, put on my iPod and listen to Christian music, and just chill out. For you it could be the same, or could be going to the mall and just window shopping, or maybe read a book somewhere quiet? Whatever or where ever it may be, make sure that you use that time wisely. Make sure that you put a real effort in going back to your positive state. And please....don't vent so that everyone else can see it. This will give everyone else the impression of a person whom you are truly not. If you need to talk to someone about it, then do it quietly. Do you have a friend who you can trust who would listen to you and make it better? Remember, God didn't make you a bad person. YOU are NOT a bad person. Sure, you have had bad experiences in life, but hey, everyone else does. It is how you deal with the situation that matters.

I wasn’t really aware of my behaviour and attitude when I was growing up, I just had this huge chip on my shoulder. And I could tell that no-one wanted to hang around with me as I always set this negative vibe. I would always hear people around me whispering to each other saying how grumpy I was. My brothers would always say that it was “Joey vs. the World”. Which is true! Or WAS true. Nowadays I’m a lot more aware of my surroundings and I try to project a positive environment for when I am at home, or at work…or wherever it is. Maybe it was all a part of growing up, a journey. That is what life for me is all about. Life is a journey, and not a destination. It is about learning what is right from what is wrong. It is applying what you have learnt and making it better next time. And foremost, it is sharing your experience with others, especially with my kids.

1 Peter 2:12 - "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peer Pressure

Have you ever been in a position where you know that something is not right, but you go along with it anyway as that is what everyone else is doing? Or that you are forced (maybe unbeknownst to yourself) to be in a situation where deep-down inside you know that it is not right?

Back when I was in High School, they used to refer to it as “peer pressure”. Does that ring a bell? I used to hang out with this group of kids in High School who were considered the cool group. Zillmere train station used to have this shed on the platform and us “cool” High School kids used to have a smoking session in there after school, while waiting for our train to come. We got busted by one of the teachers, and the next day, I got sent to the Deputy Principal’s office and I got the cane. Any of you not aware of what it is, let me put it simply….its a big stick that they used to whack you with on your palms. OUCH! Nowadays, that method of disciplining is not allowed in schools here anymore…or maybe there are still teachers out there who secretly do it, haha, I dunno. My point is, I was not aware that I was a victim of peer pressure! It wasn’t anyone’s fault, certainly not the other kids’ fault, but mine. I loved hanging out with those boys! I loved being part of a “group”. I loved being accepted….who doesn’t? But deep-down inside….I knew it was wrong…but I went along with it anyway. Sound familiar? Maybe because that is the exact line I used in my first sentence. Or maybe…you ARE in that situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn back time and change anything, as I truly believe that we all have a purpose. And that our lives have already been mapped out even before we realise it. That whatever we do, WE ARE MEANT TO DO IT. What for? Maybe to teach us a lesson? Maybe to be a better person in the end? Or maybe “all of the above” so that we can then share our experiences with others. What a gift?! To be able to tell your story and then inspire other people at the same time.

Let me share you this. And sorry for being blunt. God gave us a brain. And has given us one of the best gifts of all…FREE WILL. He has given us the gift to think for ourselves, and not let others do the thinking for us. If you know that something is not right, ASK QUESTIONS! Search for the truth! Look at the bigger picture. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world that we forget what is happening outside of it. I reckon you should think outside the square. I always tell people that the truth will set you free. But I have learnt the fact that people sometimes get so blinded by their own little…and I mean LITTLE…world that they can’t actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is an actual fact. Have you ever heard of stories of people falling so in love that they forget about everyone else around them? Including stories about a partner (boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, or wife) who is abusive towards the other person whether physically or mentally, BUT YET he or she still loves the other person? Even though everyone else around them says so otherwise? It brings me back to my all-time favourite movie – The Matrix. Just when Neo thinks that his life is what it is and there is nothing else, he gets introduced to a whole new world that he never knew existed.

Sometimes you just have to stop….and think. Trust your instincts! There’s nothing wrong with being a follower, just be an active follower instead of a passive one. And if you are scared to ask questions as you may upset other people, then that is a clear indication that there is something wrong with your relationship. A relationship should be open to criticism, discussion, and improvement. And it certainly should be a place where you can voice out your opinion without being attacked by your peers (whether verbally or physically). And if people act negatively towards your opinion or decision, then it’s their loss. All you can do is pray for them.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

There are so many things in that passage that I can use to prove a point…but one that strikes me at this very moment is verse 6 where it says that LOVE REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. Rejoice….to feel happiness…to feel joyful…to be delighted…to be content….isn’t that what LOVE is all about? Isn’t that how a friendship should be? Sure there are times when you have your differences, but with love, it should be sorted out in the end.

Let me end by sharing a quote from our beloved POPE JOHN PAUL II – “The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.”

God bless you and your family always. Regardless if you know about God or not, He still loves you anyway! PEACE!