“Who do you say I am?”

Jesus went to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi, where he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

“Some say John the Baptist,” they answered. “Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.”

“What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

“Good for you, Simon son of John!” answered Jesus. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19, GNB)

“I believe that God does wanna take us deeper and He wants us to be reminded of who He is. And its easy in an environment like this — you can be in bible college, you can be in church forever, and you know a lot about God and you know who God is for a lot of other people. I believe that you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for some revelation of Jesus but I think [that] sometimes, we have to remind ourselves who is Jesus to us, who is Jesus to me personally. Because it’s not enough to live your life around someone’s faith because sooner or later, you’re gonna find yourself denying Christ. You’re gonna find yourself like Peter was, ready to be martyred for his faith. At that moment, it’s not going to be somebody else’s faith that’s gonna keep you. It’s going to be your own revelation of Jesus. I challenge every single person {here} to ask yourself that question, ‘Jesus, who are you to me? Who do I say that you are?'”

- Joel Houston, from the video of Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (Acoustic) – Live at Elevate

Be the blessing! It’s cool being spiritual!

Leaders: Humility and Desire

I joined my ministry back in 2004. Just after my first year, I dreamt of holding every position there is in our ministry, and they are:  YLSS/YE Class Shepherd, Team Head, become one of the Tricord (now Pentacord), Pastoral Shepherd, YE Facilitator, and Working Team Head. These aren’t just titles to me. I really love my ministry and I really want to be very involved, and through those positions, I believe I could do more for the ministry. Out of all those positions, the only ones I wasn’t able to get was being one of the Tricord/Pentacord and one of the Working Team Heads. Compared to some, I have attained a lot. Not very many were fortunate enough to hold that much positions within the ministry. But even though I was able to hold those many positions, I can’t say I was a very effective and good leader. Thankfully, God used those experiences, even those failures to teach me a lot. Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned came from the time I wanted to become one of the 12 Team Heads so bad.

Summer 2006, YLSS 8SP — I was called to serve as a Shepherd for that year’s YLSS. I know that after that YLSS, a new set of Team Heads will be selected and being part of the Pastoral Team would make me eligible to be selected as one of the incoming Team Heads. I wanted to be one of the Praise Team Heads. At that time, only one out of 2 slots is vacant for the Praise Team Head position. The ministry had already someone in mind but I personally believe that he wasn’t the right person for the position. So, nagpaka-bibo ako that time. I was a member of the Praise Team so I tried to show everyone how talented I am and how capable I am, that I was the right person for the job.

Fast-forward to July or August (can’t remember which exactly), I wasn’t chosen to be one of the new Team Heads. The person, who was everyone’s bet in becoming the next Praise Team Head got my dream position. I became bitter, jealous, and very disappointed. I became more jealous because 2 of my co-lambs became Team Heads as well. Iniyakan ko yun and I even thought of leaving the ministry just because of that.

“God doesn’t call those who are qualified. Rather, He qualifies those who are called.”

God knew that nagpaka-bibo lang ako just to show everyone that I’m the right person for the job. Not only I was very proud, it wasn’t the real me. I mean, God knew that I was just showing off and if I were actually given that position, I might not be able to do my job properly. That I didn’t really have the necessary skills, knowledge, wisdom, and experience to handle that position. But even if I was qualified, a good servant is not proud and with that I am no longer suitable to be a head. A good servant and leader is humble and I wasn’t that at that time. So I tried to get my act straight. I tried to understand why that had to happen and what was God’s plan for me. What was the silver lining? Just after about 2 months, one of the 12 Team Heads decided to leave. To my surprise, I was chosen to fill the slot and I was assigned to be one of the Intercessory Team Heads and that is where I served for 3 years before I got my dream position as a Team Head, the Praise Team Head.

When I became the Intercessory Team Head, I had no idea why I was assigned in that team. I wasn’t a good intercessor. I actually didn’t pray a lot. Again, I was reminded that “God qualifies those who are called”. Sure enough, even though I am more of a musician than an intercessor, I can honestly say that I’ve learned more and done more as an Intercessory Team Head than as a Praise Team Head. It was actually more fulfilling. And I think I was more successful as a leader when I was the Intercessory Team Head. I was able to develop and use my gift of Faith and Healing back when I was in that team. All I was able to develop when I was the Praise Team Head was my stubbornness, hot-headedness, and being very strict.

End of sharing.

My point is the moment you think and feel that you’re the right person for the job is the moment you become the wrong person for the job. It takes a lot of humility to be that close to God and to serve God in a bigger way. When much is given, more is required — more of God and less of you in yourself and life. You can’t be your normal self and have that only-a-member lifestyle when you become a leader. You need to leave your old self, become better and be a good example for everyone no matter how tough and frustrating that can be. Some leaders make their “being a leader” a year- (2 or more in some cases) long fasting.

Being a leader is never easy. It shouldn’t be easy because it requires a lot of hard work and discipline. But just because it ain’t easy doesn’t mean we should never want being a leader. Being a leader brings forth challenges, and these challenges, like problems in life, are needed to help us become better servants and persons. We should all desire to improve ourselves. We should all desire to have responsibilities. We should all desire to become leaders.

Be The Miracle

God: The wonderful thing–no matter how filthy something gets, you could always clean it right up.

Bruce: There were so many. I just gave them all what they wanted.

God: Yeah. But since when does anyone have a clue about what they want?

Bruce: So what do I do?

God: Parting your suit is not a miracle, Bruce. That’s a magic trick. A single mom who’s working two jobs and still finds time to take her kids to soccer practice, that’s a miracle. A teenager who says no to drugs and yes to education, that’s a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. What they don’t realize is they have the power. You wanna see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.

Bruce: Wait. Are you leaving?God: Yeah. I figure you can handle things now.

Bruce: What if I need you? What if I have questions?

God: That’s your problem, Bruce. That’s everybody’s problem. You keep looking up!

[from the movie Bruce Almighty (2003)]

Pain Leads To Happiness

My fingers are sore from playing the cajon today at our worship service, but it’s worth it. =)

Pain may cause happiness.

Even though having sore fingers are a bit painful, it makes me happy knowing that this pain was brought by serving the Lord through music.

Today, at our ministry’s PWA (Post-Worship Activity), we talked about how the cross was a sign of pain, suffering, punishment,  and disgrace years ago. Through Christ, that meaning changed. Now, the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, hope, love, discipline, patience. Through Christ’s suffering, we are now free and can have a happier life, with God of course.

Serving God, you’ll go through a lot of challenges. These challenges are very difficult and they only become more and more difficult everytime you surpass one. It’s God’s way of molding us. These challenges may often cause pain and suffering and, in the end, all of it is nothing compared to the joy or reward after we overcome those challenges.

Instead of running away from the pain and/or letting it eat you up inside, we should embrace it, just like Jesus did when He held that cross. He embraced it, accepted it, and understood why it had to happen.

These sore fingers are not the only pains in my life right now. I’m accepting every pain little by little, trying to understand why it had to happen, what good thing can I get or learn from all of it, and use it to make myself better.

So carry your cross, own it, embrace it, learn from it. I’m sure the pain is all worth it in the end. =)

Devil May Try

Filled, Led, and Protected — Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit…was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. (February 24, Discovering God’s Daily Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby)

The first thing that came into mind, while reading this scripture, was the time I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at our ministry’s Life in the Spirit Seminar Proper back in the summer of 2004.

I can’t seem to remember any part of the proper except for the baptism and exhortation parts. During the baptism, when I was prayed over by my shepherd, I can still remember how cold it was in the room. It was raining outside with howling winds same as how the apostles experienced it during the Pentecost. Amidst the loud voices of other shepherds around, I can hear the quiet and calm voice of my shepherd, reminding me to give it all up to God, telling me to say Hallelujah over and over again to prompt the gift of tongues, and reminding me to ask for the Gifts that I asked God for. Little did I notice, I was falling into this relaxed state, as if I were in a quiet room, slowly drifting away. I never felt so peaceful and relaxed. I don’t even remember falling backwards. That’s how I felt being filled with the spirit. I became conscious of my surroundings a few minutes later. I could hear people speaking in tongues, people praying in loud voices, people singing in front. Later on, we were asked to stand up and join in on the worship.

Matthew 12:44-45 – Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

Before LSS Proper, my shepherd warned me that after the baptism, we would be attacked by the evil ones, trying to convince us that we didn’t receive the empowerment of the Spirit. I found that to be true during the exhortation. I had a hard time focusing on the worship. I wondered why I wasn’t able to speak in tongues like my co-lambs. That thought bothered me till I got home. Later that night, I texted my shepherd that something’s troubling me and then he called me on the phone. He comforted me and  reminded me of the warning he gave before the Proper. So we prayed on the phone and I was able to rest peacefully somehow that night. The gift of tongues manifested 2 years later, just before I was called to be an under-shepherd.

The devil will try everything to make us feel unworthy, that we are not capable of great things, that we aren’t lucky or blessed, that we can’t change, that we can’t be good or we’re not good. The devil trying is not the problem but the moment that we succumb to him is. We have to remember the promises of God, that He will never leave us, that He won’t let anything bad happen to us as long us we put our trust and faith in Him. We should make God our foundation because He is firm and solid. If God is with us, who can be against us? But in case we give in, know that God is very forgiving. But let us not use that as an excuse to easily give in and sin. The devil may try to tempt us but we could also try to be better Christians–strong Christians.

Maging Akin Muli (Be Mine Again)

Today is Ash Wednesday so I attended Mass today at noon. During the part of the Mass where we’ll be smeared with ash on our foreheads, the choir sang the song entitled Maging Akin Muli” by Bubbles Bandojo and Arnel Aquino.

The first time I heard this song was about 2 years ago during our ministry’s Life in the Spirit Seminar Proper. I remember, when I heard that song, I cried so hard. I was going through a lot that time and I felt that, even if I was part of a ministry and had lots of friends there, I was so lonely. That song made me realize that I was looking for love and attention from the wrong people. There was this person who never left my side, who never gave up on me, who was so proud of me, who loves me and would always will, but it was I who never gave Him the attention He so desired from me. I felt He was calling me through that song. I felt so bad for forgetting about Him, for not seeking Him first, for hating Him at times. When will you come back to me, Noel?

Today, when I heard that song, I couldn’t help but cry a little bit. Thank God that there was big enough space between me and the person sitting next to me (I was at the very end of the pew). She must have thought I was so dramatic or something if she saw me crying. Anyway, those same feelings that I felt when I first heard that song all came back to me. I never gave God much attention these past few months. That’s why I decided to put up this blog, to force myself to reflect and somewhat feel obligated to reflect and post something for my readers (no matter how many or few they are).

Sometimes, even if you’re with a lot of people most of the time, you still feel lonely. Sometimes, you almost have everything in the world yet you’re not happy still. It’s because we desire earthly things. We look for happiness at the wrong places (and people). Material things, places, activities, even friends and family become our idols and our false gods. We must remember that as Christians, without Christ, it’s IAN: I Am Nothing–we are nothing. We should seek God above everything. Seek the Giver than the gift. Seek the Healer before the healing. Seek THE Lover before a lover (haha). Seek the…well, you get the idea.

So here’s a video of the song. It’s, of course, a Tagalog song. I posted the lyrics below as well. I can try to translate the lyrics into English but the meaning or impact of the lyrics might change if I do so. Listen to it and be blessed! =D

 

Lyrics:

Manlamig man sa Akin puso mong maramdamin
Lisanin man ng tuwa puso mong namamanglaw
Manginig man sa takot masindakin mong puso
Mag-ulap man sa lungkot diwa mong mapag-imbot.

Kapiling mo Akong laging naghihintay sa tanging tawag mo.
Pag-ibig Kong ito isang pananabik sa puso Ko
Sa ‘yong pagbabalik sa piling Kong puspos ng pagsuyo
Manahimik at makinig ka’t maging Akin muli.

Di mo rin akalain tinig mo’y hanap Ko rin,
Ang ‘yong tuwa at sakit, Aking galak at pait.
Kung lingid pa sa iyo, Aking pakikiloob,
Tuklasin mong totoo: tunay mong pagkatao.