And it was so

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The book of Genesis starts by narrating how dark, formless and void the world was. (1:2) But the chapter ends in total contrast as it states that everything was very good! (1:31)

Darkness, formlesness and voidness are not good. When God did something about it, everything became very good.

Genesis records that darkness, formlesness, and voidness were dealt with a series of “And God said” (1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24) and culminated with: “And it was so.” (1:30)

God said it and it was so!

Continue reading “And it was so”

The man who was naked & wounded

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Nothing can be worse than seeing a guy running around naked. This isn’t a frat initiation. John Mark’s record tells of a guy who was  insane, naked, violent, strong, dirty, yelling, and worst— night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. (Mk.5:5)

This guy’s demonized.

Continue reading “The man who was naked & wounded”

Winning an Argument

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I came across a heated argument between two parties with diverging religious views. Both parties made their case to prove the other wrong.

How do you win a religious argument? To win a religious argument is not to argue at all.

Except maybe on a platform that requires a thourough case for the Christian faith, one has to be precisely careful not to utilize oral or written threads of arguments to win souls for the Kingdom. This is of course not setting aside occasions that call for apologetics.

Here’s why:

1. It produces quarrels.

2 Tim. 2:3
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

If at the end of the day you come out victorious with a confident argument, you are still not victorious if you haven’t inched your “opponent” closer to the saving knowledge of Christ.

You gain a more determined enemy crafting a more persuasive case to exact revenge on you.

2. It is unprofitable and useless

Titus 3:9
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

Note: unprofitable and useless.

You get how many hours a day to spare talking about or preaching the gospel? If those few hours are spent arguing and quarreling, it’s such a waste of time. While you waste time, remember that a soul is wasted.

I recently talked to someone telling me that it’s now the Last Days so we need to be more vigilant with the Devil’s tactics and bla bla. I almost blurted out: Since it’s the Last Days, might as well double time on Christ’s Last Words: Make Disciples.

So, how do you really win an argument without actually arguing?

My good friend Rye Delubio gave me a very good illustration. He said a dog who holds fast on its bone is determined to keep its bone. Once you try to take it from him, he bites and he bites hard. The only way to get the bone is to provide him with a savouring meat. That way, it leaves its lock on the bone and proceeds to eat the meat.

Arguing is like forcefully taking someone’s bone. It gets too messy and not to mention bloody if you do that.

The only way to win a person without resorting to a hostile argument is to present them with something better than the all dried up bone they have. In most cases, it’s the irrefutable argument of a changed life. Nobody can refute a changed life. At the end of the day, your life–a life changed by the gospel–is your winning piece.

Family Discussion

We just had our first Leaders Meeting for 2014. Met with with some of our ministry volunteers and leaders. We simply gave updates about where we are at as a church. The past months were like a whirlwind, things happened so fast and we figured out it would be best to get everyone on the same page and make sure everyone’s on the right track. We finally cascaded the system my we worked so hard on the past weeks. I also introduced the new guys on working on new roles in the church. I sensed a deep love for this spiritual family my wife and I share our lives with. I reiterated that awhile ago’s meeting was more like a “family discussion” than a leaders meeting. It is such a great privilege to serve the Lord alongside fiery and passionate, and loving and dedicated men and women such as this home church of mine.

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Praying together as a church
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Kids Coordinator Hya Tuquib fighting for the Kids Ministry.
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Tom Villegas updating the leaders regarding our campus ministry
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John Hupa showing the current growth trend of the ministry
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Discussing current trends in the ministry

Victory Dumaguete at Essencia

We have been holding our worship services out of our center for two weeks now. This is because of magnitude 7 earthquake that shook Visayas two weeks ago. We’re doing this as a precautionary measure until we deem our building safe to hold a big and wild congregation like us. This Sunday, we went to Hotel Essencia in downtown Dumaguete. It was one awesome Sunday made possible by our awesomely dedicated volunteers. Being afloat the past weeks coupled by the transitions we have been having the past months, it’s amazing that our people are in high spirits and are in faith for greater things like never before. Below are some pictures of our volunteers in action:

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Aldon Donesa serving as our greeter in the lobby
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Our greeters at the main entrance handing out candies with a smile
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Tech crew doing what they do best—make things run
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Big smiles amidst the big move
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Our 5pm crowd enjoying the service
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5pm service from the back

I wasn’t able to take shots in the morning service because we were figuring out things with some of our volunteers. To all the volunteers of Victory Dumaguete, my wife and I, together with the leadership team of the church send out our heartfelt appreciation for your commitment that’s beyond compare.  Thank you for your selfless service week in and week out. People who grow the most are people who serve the most!

The Huddle: Going to the Nations

The Huddle is our church’s monthly leaders’ convergence. In every The Huddle meeting we simply aim to come together to motivate, celebrate, and strategize. We celebrate life events, testimonies and victories. We also motivate our leaders from God’s Word and we glean on each other’s prayers. Topping off every meeting is our strategizing for our next moves in the coming weeks and months. The meeting is exclusive for those leading a Victory Group. We desire to bring as many people as we can to the meeting and so we try to help and assist more people to lead their own Victory Groups.

Tonight we had another fruitful and fun-filled meeting. We pitched in the vision to go to the nations. As a local church, we are embarking on two short term mission trips next year. We gave everyone the opportunity as we raffled the names for our two teams for both trips. That sure was fun! We are going to two creative access nations next year and this is really faith building. I’m praying that this will start and spark something new and something big for our leaders and for our church.

Tonight in some degree I believe we have created a shift in our local movement here in Dumaguete. We are serious in becoming a glocal (global local) church. It is our prayer that our church will be filled with more movers and shakers who would dream big and act big!

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Registration
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Ushers dressed as Vietnamese and Burmese
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Reviewing trivias for the nations
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Pinoy Henyo: Missions Edition
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Victory Dumaguete Staff and volunteer staff
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With Rianne. Sharing the passion for the Muslim world

Compromise or Consensus (Team Meeting Context)

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In preparation for our upcoming church strategic planning on May, our would-be facilitator and consultant gave me a very interesting book about running meetings. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
Rarely does it happen on a team to always be agreeable with everything. If that is prevalent, then we got ourselves “yes” men in the team or a set of non committed individuals. A good team usually brews challenges without foregoing the rules of engagement.
To come up with a major decision a team usually would either make:
A Compromise or 
A Consensus
Compromise
When some interesting points are being discussed, usually a leader in a team pursues compromise to give in to the unanimous decision of the majority. This promotes gridlock and unity. Lest one point can take up the entire day which is absolutely draining for everyone. The little sacrifice after all is for the good of the all. This practice is somewhat effective. However, it usually brings out unhappy team members despite the decision to just give in.
Consensus
Consensus on the other hand is an interesting practice. Rather than pursuing a “give in”, it is more interested on having “buy ins”. Meaning to say as a leader and team member you have given a “fair hearing in the court and the jury simply has decided” therefore because people agreed to disagree, then you begin to pick up the matter and decide to buy in. Buying in means the “trial” is done and you have no business of opening up the matter outside the “court”. Since you were not able to convince everyone in the team then you are now convinced that everyone else’s proposition is convincing.

Avoiding Stragedy

Bo’s Coffee. 12 noon. Monday.

Putting our books down my wife and I decided to discuss what needs to be discussed. Our leaders are leaving on the 28th and that’s roughly 3 days from now. That leaves both of us to lead and carry on the huge work that they have started and lead the past 12 years, of which both my wife and I are fruits of.

The nature of ministry is quite diverse and unique. Having worked with my pastor for six years, I am a firsthand witness of the travails and adventures of a minister. I myslef decided to be one and I will have to say that I have been comfortable under the wings of my pastor. I have been bold and confident over the years simply because I got myself a good sounding board in him. I have made mistakes upon mistakes over the years and he carried the responsibilities of it simply because he is the leader. At the end of the day, all the weight falls on him and that’s simply how its is.

My wife and I made a commitment that we will serve our leaders wherever God leads them. And it has been our desire to make them look good, defend them, protect them, pray for them, and simply rally with them. I may have failed them on all those areas at some point, but nevertheless that’s my battlecry.

What made our relationship stronger with the Perezes are the battlescars that we bear from the battles we fought together. Our battle scars are indicative of the loyalty and undying commitment for each other. And if differences between us may arise, our battle scars remind us that we are for each other and never against one another.

Far from our wildest imagination that God would orchestrate something huge. Huge in a sense that He has paved a route for us to part ways. We learned about the news April of last year. We did not see it coming. Battling through sleepless nights from our initial conversation of which we were hiding our defiance over the idea, my wife and I finally ceded and realized that this is how things are. As missionaries, there’s nothing permanent. The most sensible thing to do is to obey.

Fastforward to almost a year after, they’re finally all packed up.

And so this morning over a cup of coffee, Rianne and I would again talk about the same thing. This has been the nth time we have been discussing this. We would talk about:

How are we to go about this.
How do we handle the pressure.
How are we to pick from the things that they’ve left.
How are we to compensate for the lack of experience.
How do we raise money.
How do we deal with issues.
How do we staff the church.
How could I still watch UFC.
And so on.

My wirings would always bring me to the drawing board and utilize my mind to think of the strategies for the next coming months. On the same aspect Rianne would always come out with brilliant ideas in her spontaneity. She could always blurt out the brilliant ideas during lounge conversations or formal meetings.
BUT both of us together with our team would be cautious in considering that the best way to always come out with the best is to always inquire of the Lord. We need to be in step with the Holy Spirit. Ater all, this is His work.

Everytime the Israelites would take their step in line with what God wants them to do, they are always fierce and they can route ten thousand enemies in a single battle. And everytime they take the matter to themselves, they are the ones routed.
In the same way, we always have to be careful not to leave God off the picture. I have slowly gathered for myself a team with the most brilliant mind I could think. But at the end of the day, it is always God’s wisdom and grace that would enable people to pull things off.

What makes us confident is the fact that this is God’s work, this is God’s church, and we are God’s people. Our daily operations and strategies will come in full reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Lest our strategies become tragedies.  We call it a stragedy.

——-

I want to thank Ptr Dawny and Te Janet for raising us up, for believing in us, for trusting us, and for leaving with us a legacy that is marked by your faithfulness and passion for God. It’s hard to imagine a Sunday without you, but nonetheless we are biting the bullet and we are committed to take on the responsibility. We will miss you.

I want to thank my wife Rianne who has agreed to marry me in the first place knowing full well that by doing so she will have to give up her own dreams. From the beginning I’ve always known that you are a missionary by heart and you are cut out for this. Thank you for inspiring me to be the best at my craft. I always pray for you and I am utterly proud of you. You simply are the best.

To evryone at Victory Dumaguete, there is no better place to be at than where we are right now and where we are headed. Let’s get it on!

Strat Plan, Meetings, Stress, & Some Love

What has been keeping me up lately are the things that we have been talking about at work. We have been reeling on a couple of things as we prepare for the things ahead. Some of the stuff that we need to prepare for as a church are events like the anniversary, launching another cycle of our discipleship process (small groups, training for victory, victory weekend),church leadership transitions, the big move to a new center. I have no idea why these things need to happen altogether at the same time. But I’m just so confident to have a great team working with me. I work with a bunch of volunteers who guts it out like there’s no tomorrow. Plus I enjoy working people who knows how to have fun. But in my line of work, nothing can be sweeter than a loving and supportive wife. My wife’s got no idea how much she inspires me. I don’t care getting swamped at work as long as I come home to a real home with some real love from my wife. I feel like I can take on the world with the love she constantly gives me!