Category Archives: local church

DISCIPLES Everywhere!

HAVE YOU TRIED TO KNOW HOW MUCH of an impact discipleship could make in our world? The effect could be overwhelmingly huge, and yet it could also be felt in a personal level.

Let me highlight this truth as we look at these amazing verses in the second letter of apostle Paul to Timothy — verses that show us these three-pronged approach of discipleship.

HOME FRONT. Yes. Discipleship isn’t suppose to be detached from the comfort of our homes. No matter what situation we are in our relationships at home, discipleship could still work. Look at this verse.

2Tim. 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you (Timothy) also.

If you examine closely the family background of this young man Timothy, you would conclude that he didn’t really have a perfect family set up. His mother Eunice, who was described readily by the Scriptures as a ‘believer’, presumably was married to a Greek husband, which we can safely assume as unbelieving.

Acts 16:1b where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.

Yet this ‘sincere faith’ was passed down unhindered generationally. There must have been some form discipleship even at the home front.

WORK PLACE. Remember where most of Jesus’ disciples were called? In their respective work place. Peter and John were fishing in Matthew 4.18. Matthew was collecting taxes in Matthew 9.9. Simon was pretty much involved in the political life of the nation. That’s why he was referred to as a Zealot. Mark 3.18, Luke 6.15, Acts 1.13. I could imagine the rest of the ‘gang’. So check this out.

2Tim. 2:2 And the things you (Timothy) have heard me (Paul) say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to 3reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

So whether you’re in the campus, in the church, in the community, or even in your company, discipleship could be expressed in every level of relationships.

Could we also safely say that there was a 360 degree discipleship? It might be a little stretch to say that the ‘many witnesses’ could be his colleagues in (peer) discipleship too.

WORLD WIDE. Yes. Discipleship can be done domestically (2 Tim 1.5), locally (2 Tim 2.2), and globally, of course.

2Tim. 4:17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

It took time for it to happen globally, but it did move! First to the Jews in Acts 2, then to the Samaritans in Acts 8, then finally to the Gentiles starting in Acts 10. That movement was the fulfillment of Jesus promise in Acts 1 that says:

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The movement of this disciple-making mandate is outward. And no barrier or trap of the enemy can stop it. White fences like in the States won’t work. Cemented hollow-block walls with broken glasses on top like in the Philippines won’t work. A wrought-iron fortified cement walls like that in Germany won’t work. Or even a well guarded electric iron wire fences like that in Korea and South Africa could work.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is, for me, like an orange hot lava furiously flowing out of a volcano that could consume any element that’s on its path. Unstoppable!

So now, imagine your siblings, your parents, even your grand parents, nephews and nieces, coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Your colleagues, bosses, and clients at work. Students, professors, and teachers in your campuses.

And then at the same time, to every nation of the world!

Disciples in every area of life.

Disciples everywhere!

So know this that—

Disciple-making Knows No Bounds.


Have you ever wondered what should be the driving force behind every attempt to make disciples?

Here are some questionable ones.

“Evange-ligaw” (courting a girl), “Bible-steady”, “disciple-chicks” trying to be a missionary to the opposite gender. Hoping at the end they’ll end up being together. The person, most of the time, becomes a recipient of Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 6.14. Rather than winning the person to Christ, he ends up winning the person for his own benefit.

status to survive and acquire personal gain. In Judges 17.7-13, a young Levite became Micah’s personal priest (“this Levite has become my priest.”). Many ministers have become peddlers for profit rather than preachers of the Gospel.

Or many more other motives that Paul exposed in lives of the believers in Philippi. Out of envy and rivalry (Phil 1.15) and out of self ambition, not sincerely (Phil 1.17). So what could be the right motives in making long lasting disciples?

A Desire To Please God

2Cor. 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Pleasing God should be everyone’s business in every area of life. It is not a lip service; it’s our hearts’ pursuit. Faith then is necessary (Hebrews 11.6). Before you share and impart faith, you better make sure you’re possessed. Yup. Possessed with faith.

The Fear Of The Lord

2Cor. 5:11  Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

We persuade men out of our healthy knowledge of the fear of the Lord. Are there rewards too? Definitely. But ultimately, we know that it is still the terror of God that makes us wise (Ps 111.10; Prov 9.10). And therefore makes us win souls (Prov 11.30).

Compassion For The Multitudes

2Cor. 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

“Out of goodwill (Phil 1.15b)” done “in love” (Phil 1.16a), melts the hearts of people. The Gospel becomes real in the lives of many. There’s an undeniable effect. They not only see it, they could feel it too. Now I am compelled. Not out of mere emotion, but out of sure revelation (Rom 5.8). See Matthew 9.36 and be convinced.

But here’s the twist…

Phil. 1:18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Wow… I am thoroughly amazed of Paul’s high end sincerity. In light of the Philippians’ ‘envy’, ‘rivalry’, ‘self ambition’, and lack of ‘sincerity’, you could sense that Paul had no trace of legalism at all! As long as men and women come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it’s enough to make Paul happy. But I advice the ones who have adapted the opposite motives, get into further discipleship in Christ. Embrace the true motives he enumerated in his second letter to the Corinthians chapter five.

So the next time you’re tempted to adapt the false ones, think again.

As long as Christ is exalted above all…

Let’s go keep making disciples…

VIP -EQUIPPING The Disciples (3/6): “It’s HIP To Be EQUIPPED”

WHERE DID YOU GET ALL THESE LEADERS, Steve?” inquired by a visiting missionary to our beloved pastor. “Just right here.” And he would add, “You should have seen them when we found them. You wldn’t recognize them at all! And you should have heard how (horrible) they preach before…”

We just laugh about it when Steve would tell these types of conversations. The ‘trade secret’ of the ministry was so simple but usually not given much attention: a consistent hard work of making and equipping disciples, in-house. The philosophy behind our version of ‘ENLI’– in-house leadership training school, ‘Leadership Labs‘ during summer time, two-by-two evangelism in the campuses, etc, etc…is the desire to raise leaders from the ranks. There is that undeniable culture of discipleship. Where streams of students would get, not just teaching-impartation of Bible knowledge and values, but also training, where there’s an avenue for impartation of skills and wisdom.

Ephesians 4:12
“to prepare God’s people for works of service…”

A conscious effort of ‘preparing God’s people for works of service’ across the board is what makes us able to multiply and develop leaders. A ‘man-of-God’ syndrome is abhorred, or at least, minimized. Success in ministry, at least in the campuses, is measured by having successors rather than a numbers game.

Speaking of developing leaders, one of the best descriptions regarding David that I really treasure in the Scriptures is the one found in Psalms. This verse really epitomizes the importance of having the skills needed in leadership as it is contrasted with having the character (integrity of heart).

Leading God’s people requires the balance of both.

Psalms 78:72
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart (impartation by teaching); with skillful hands (impartation by training) he led them.

An “integrity of heart” – a “skillful hands = inefficiency.


A “skillful hands”- an“integrity of heart” = shallowness.


An “integrity of heart + a “skillful hands” = epitome (of a shepherd of God’s people).

I believe we have variety of opportunities for our local church members, who are small group leaders, to get to a place of further equipping.

Through our small groups, where each member is exposed to a firsthand life/ministry coaching; through our two years of in-house leadership training classes (E.N.L.I.); through our Leaders’ Lectures; through our bi-monthly all-small-group-leaders rally (V.I.P.); and every other month of impartation and encouragement from each pastoral staff to his/her block of small group leaders; or at least, someone who cares enough about you to share a time in a regular basis, to help bring you to a ‘hole natha’ level in leadership.

I hope by now, you’ve surmised how I value (as a local church pastor), leadership development. And I believe this is the way to be assured that the movement’s core values and DNA are passed down to the next generation of leaders.

I think my conclusion is undeniable:

“It’s HIP to be EQUIPPED!”

V.I.P. Disc. Leaders (2/6) ESTABLISH In Sp. Foundations & Sp. Family: “Quit Drifting, Get ANCHORED”

WHAT MADE THE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ penetrate the known world for only thirty-three years right after the resurrection? Imagine accomplishing that without mobile phones, internet, jet planes, emails, chat rooms, television, telephones, websites, etc.

What sort of transformation took place between Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1? What happened between the conversion of the sinners to becoming preachers of the Gospel?

I believe it has something to do with the foundations laid in the lives of the new believers and the genuine fellowship (family atmosphere) formed among them. In short, they were established – solidly grounded.

Take a look at this:
Acts 2:42-47
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Apostle Paul himself was established spiritually – a foundation was laid, when a disciple named Ananias assisted him in his new-found faith (Acts 9.10-19). Then another Christian disciple, Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’), introduced him to the rest of the spiritual family (Acts 9.27).

Now, imagine the effect in his life and ministry. He wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, which were designed to help establish new believers in different regions, mostly churches he started.

One of the epistles, not the wives of the apostles, which he wrote to the Hebrews was designed to help them press on to spiritual progress and maturity. Some were neglecting the Word that he exhorted them not to drift away (Hebrews 2.1).

Try to look around us and see lots of people who responded well to the Gospel but in a stunted stage because they are drifting away like a boat, afloat but with no direction. No exertion of effort. Just at the mercy of the incoming waves. Before you know it, you’ve become so far away from the shore, and beyond reach.

But, thanks be to God, new believers don’t have to be adrift. They can be established firmly and securely (with the help of fellow ‘ship mates’).

When the storms of life start to attack us on every side; we will have nothing to worry, for our hope (Jesus Christ), is the Anchor of our lives.

Hebrews 6:19a
“We have this hope (Jesus Christ) as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

OUTRAGEOUS Sayings Of Jesus: All You Can Eat

OUTRAGEOUS FOODS ARE here to stay. We have different weird ones in almost every country: “veggie mite” of the Aussies; “chicken feet” of China; “monkey’s brain” of Hong Kong; some sort of “hippopotamus” meat of South Africa; “ceviche” of Peru; “sushi” dipped in wasabe with soy souce of Japan…(the rest of our readers out there, feel free to share your contri, especially if you’re a fan Andrew Zimmer of Discovery Channel: (‘Bizarre Foods’).

We don’t even have to go far to see some bizarre ones. In the Philippines, we have a lot of those: “Azucena” adobo dog meat of Baguio; fried “cricket” of Tuguegarao; “durian” fruit of Davao; the world famous and I think, Ptr. Steve’s fave, “balut”, a boiled unhatched duck egg of Pateros.

But there is this unique Filipino dish that’s so good to eat with rice cake (puto): “Dinuguan”. Side note, “Sabi nila, pinaglihi daw ako sa puto…kaya lang nahulog sa dinuguan kaya naging ganito ang kulay ko.” It’s pork meat with some mysterious parts mixed with pig’s blood.

I know…I know you are a bit squeamished about the idea. But imagine telling that to the Jewish people!

Well, Jesus mentioned something even more outrageous that “dinuguan”.

John 6:52-55
“Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

But what made this statement so outrageous; being one of the most original hard sayings in the Bible, is not because of the ‘cannibalism’ idea in it; not because they can’t understand the saying; but it is the difficulty of accepting the meaning of it. So hard that many disciples, I mean DISCIPLES, turned there backs and no longer followed Him.

This has become the saddest verse in the entire Scriptures, which is found in, what I call, the ‘666’ verse- John 6.66.

What made Christianity so unique is that it is highly EXPERIENCIAL. He was telling us to feed on Him! And He wasn’t the first one to talk about eating the things of God, though:

Psalms 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Ezekiel 3:2-3
“So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”

Since the words He used were associated with ritual sacrifice terms, Jesus was here claiming to be the Lamb of God, the sacrifice that would be offered for the sins of the world.

It is almost like Jesus was telling them, the disciples then, and today, that:

“Only Jesus Satisfies Our Hunger.”

(In a way, I made an illustration about this idea in what we can call ‘Salad Bar’ theology, and the story as I have said it at the end of my message in this podcast.)

With that truth, He must have attached this note: “Re’spondez S’il Vous Plait” (R.S.V.P.)…short for, “Please reply.”

Only few, twelve disciples to be exact, responded well (vv.67-69).

Will you?

If you will, then I say to you…

“Bon Appetit!”

OUTRAGEOUS Sayings of Jesus: The Camel And The Eye Of The Needle (No ID,No Entry)

INSTEAD OF BEING MUSHY and just focus on ‘boy and girl’ relationships this month of love- February, allow me to go through other aspects of our hearts’ pursuits.

In conjunction to our new series, we will be dealing with several ‘hard’ or shall I say ‘outrageous’ sayings of Jesus. To start with, let’s jump right in to the most difficult sayings of all: The camel and the needle’s eye.

This encounter with ‘the rich young ruler’ gives a rich picture of the radical nature of discipleship. The impossibility of one’s attempt to save self or to enter heaven.

Fulfilling the laws of Moses cannot guarantee it. It can only point a person to the right direction, but it can not bring you to a lasting security. Now Jesus pointed out the real issue of the matter in the life of this man: a LOVE for the things of this world.

The Scripture tells us…

1John 2:15
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Colossians 3:1-2
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

There were attempts to tone down this hard-to-believe declaration of Christ. Some say that the ‘eye of the needle’ was a reference to a small opening, giving an independent access to the city. A visitor can dismount and get through the small entrance on foot but the camel, especially if it’s loaded, can’t get through. It must wait for the main gate to be opened to let it through. This is a charming explanation but it has no evidence at all; that a subsidiary entrance really did not exist in history.

Another attempt was made, but this time in the area of definition. The word ‘camel’, they say, has the same sounding in Greek with the word ‘cable’. If it is the case, then it can be translated as ‘rope’. This then can be more acceptable and rational to say compared to what Jesus declared. Well, at least a ‘rope’ is easier to accept than a camel or an elephant! But once again, this is nothing but futile attempt to lessen the impact of the meaning of this language…a language of hyperbole that Jesus used.

Whatever one might say, realize that it is humanly impossible for a person, rich or poor, to enter the kingdom of God apart from the divinely initiated ultimate act: Christ’s death on the cross.

Our “identity” should be establish on who Christ is and what he did (faith in Christ) before we can attain eternal life. Salvation is impossible apart from Christ, who was sacrificed on the cross of Calvary. More like a student trying to enter through the campus main gate seeing this notice: “No ID, No Entry”.

So to follow the logic of what Christ said:

The Way To Enter The Eye Of The Needle Is Through The Foot Of The Cross!

VIP Disc. Leaders (1/6) -ENGAGING The Culture: “All Things To All”

We have decided as pastors and small group discipleship leaders of Victory Ortigas to come together for a night of Vision, Instruction, and Prayer (VIP), once every two months for the year of 2008. We will continue with our weekly leadership group.  Once a month we will have either our VIP or interest-based small group leaders fellowship with different pastors and ‘lay’ leaders.

I will endeavor to write a teaser blog every time we do a VIP.

I believe this is the text that will pave the way for the year 2008 for us:

1Corinthians 9:19-23
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

I can not think of any more passage of Scriptures that epitomizes the idea of engaging the surrounding culture than this one. A very challenging text.

There are Christians who would argue that they “don’t care what people say,” they “care more of what God would say.” This is a noble thing to declare. I can’t argue with it. As long as it deals with moral convictions. In fact, every follower of Christ should have this solemn oath.

But, when it comes to relating and reaching out to the people within our culture, this is a major blunder.

The apostle of all the apostles, Apostle Paul, gave us a very insightful principle on missions: “All things to all.” For what purpose? The word, “to win” was mentioned five times in this passage to tell us something: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” The transformation of lives.

So, my challenge to all of us reading this blog entry: “Let’s not be enslaved by our own personal preferences; let’s endeavor to be ALL THINGS TO ALL!”

The world is at a lost. Without hope. All under the rain of wrath. Would you want to offer someone near you to “stand under your umbrella”?

Be a friend. Start the year with being “all things to all.”

Stay engaged.

BRANDED Cert. Christ Follower (4/4): Bearing Fruit

What a way to end this series.

John 15:8 says,

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

I am glad Jesus has described our relationship with Him in a biotic level: bearing fruit. He never explained it in a technocratic way; like machines.

Yet the challenge still remains: bear much fruit! Without it, we are as good as dead. To be cut-off. Thrown into the fire.

But if we bear fruit, we still have to be cut. Cut in a different way- to be cut-clean. I don’t have time to talk about pruning in viticulture, but that’s how the Word of God managed to illuminate it beautifully.

I want us to understand though that we as branches, don’t produce fruits. Yup, you heard me. We never produce fruits. It is the vine that produces the ability for the branches to bear fruits. Therefore, we can safely say that, we are like racks where fruits are hanged. Branches don’t have the capability to come up with fruits.

So, how can we, as branches, not just bear fruits, but bear much fruits? I am glad you asked: abide in the Vine. Just stay in there. You may be feeling the ‘heat’ (cutting) from the Gardener, remain anyway.

Since John 15:1 said this in red letters: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” Then you know what I mean when I say ‘abide in the Vine’.

So, which one do you like? To be cut-off or to be cut-clean? Branches that are bearing fruit need to be cut clean so they may bear ever more fruit. Yield to the pruning. God knows what He is doing. Remain connected with the Vine. The fruits will follow.

When that happens, people will start to see something. The bible described several aspects of fruits… to you my dear readers… would you please tell us some of the these fruits that are expected to be seen in us as Christ followers? Feel free to join in the discussion…

Well, let me reword it. If being a Christ follower is a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Ouch..

Don’t be burdened. It’s a privilege. Bearing much fruit is not for your sakes. It’s for the glory of our Father in heaven.

Wow. Let me continue to bear much fruit then.

Glory to God!

BRANDED Cert. Christ Follower (3/4): Loving One Another

When a person decides to become a follower of someone, he becomes branded as what that person represents. Now, that’s easy and automatic. It is almost like becoming a “fan”. The downside though, is that there is no lasting and deep impression in a person’s heart.

A classic example of this is found in this text:

John 6:66
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

I would like us to see the other side of being a follower. A follower of Christ, I mean. I consider it a responsibility. An awesome responsibility. Apostle John took the time to present an old truth in a new way:

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

It is a command, not a suggestion. It is incumbent upon us to do so. How?

1John 3:16
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Having said these, what about the great impact of loving one another?

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Wow… talking about being branded as a follower of Christ! I call that a privilege. A great privilege of being associated with Jesus Christ.

Whether I like it or not, the way I relate with others reflects my brand of Christianity.

I can say then that:

“Loving one another is our endorsement to the world that we are Christ followers”

Let’s enjoy this video clip that shows how others flaunt their brand..

BRANDED Cert. Christ Follower (2/4): Living the Word

One of my heroes in the field of discipleship is no other than the founder of  TheDawson Trotman Navigators, Dawson Trotman.

The main emphasis of the discipleship process he has espoused in the lives of believers is the passion for the Word.

For the next three weeks, we will explore the three discipleship marks that John mentioned in the Gospel book that he wrote.

This week, we will focus on the first one…

John 8:31
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

I believe that the life we have received from God through Christ, causes us to have a desire for learning, and learning leads us to freedom.

The next verse tells us…

John 8:32
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.


..a real Christ follower anchors his whole life on God’s Word.

It’s great to be passionate for the Word of God like these men that I know: Ptr. Winston Reyes (the walking concordance), Atty. Banjo Navarro, and many others.

But it’s another thing to impart that same passion to other fellow believers.

Dawson Trotman (1906-1956), did just that.

Now that’s what I call discipleship.