PROMISE KEEPER

Empty words…
Broken promises…
Unfulfilled expectations…

Are you tired of them? Are you tired of being disappointed? Or is your heart too broken to even care anymore?

My friend, try Jesus. Today. Not tomorrow. Not later. But today.

When the wounds are still fresh.
When the pain still lingers.
When the hurt still stings.

He promised restoration to the widow in Naim, and her son was brought back to life.

He promised life to the Samaritan at the well, and life-giving water sprung forth from her heart.

He promised the paralytic that he would be forgiven of his sins, and the latter did leap for joy.

He promised Mary and Martha that they would have their brother back, and they were in awe as they saw the stone rolled away from the tomb as a their dead brother strolled out alive.

He promised His disciples that He would live again after three days, and He surely did!

How about you? Has God made any promise in your life that is still unfulfilled today? Hang on. Hold on. Hope.

In Psalm 105, it says:

“For he remembered his holy promise” (Psalm 105:42)

Today, turn to Jesus. With your pain. With your hurts. With your disappointments.

With your hope.

Don’t doubt. For the God you pray to is faithful.

And He keeps His promises to the end!

Have a blessed weekend!

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I Wanna Be Like Mike: Always a Disciple, Always on Mission

St. Augustine’s famous line goes: Late have I known thee.

I can say the same when it comes to Mike Joseph, Jr.

I admit that I was just a messed up teen-ager patrolling the corridors of the University of the Philippines when Mike was at the peak of his missionary service in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal particularly in CYA. When I joined CYA in 1992, Mike just stepped down as National Director. When I joined the Servants of the Word, Mike just left to go on mission to China. While I served in CYA and went to law school, Mike was actively helping out other Charismatic groups.

By the time Mike returned to Ligaya ng Panginoon, our community, I was already starting my preaching ministry as head of Pathways, the evangelization ministry of Ligaya. During those times, Mike was just a legendary name to me who excited and inspired me as a preacher. He was, after all, the founder of Christ’s Youth in Action, the organization that changed my life.

It was a few years ago, when I hit a crossroads in my walk as a preacher and a community member when Mike walked into my life. I sought him out and he gladly obliged and made time for me. I can still remember Mike seated across the table at Starbucks at the ground floor of RCBC towers in Makati, with those compassionate eyes gazing back at me, as I poured my heart out to him. Like a seasoned pastor, he listened, counselled and comforted me. As we embraced each other after the meeting, I knew that I gained on that day, not only a mentor, but a real friend and brother in Christ.

This was the first of a series of meetings with me as the student and Mike as the teacher. He shared his life with me. His vision. His missionary dreams. His regrets (although very little). His plans. He emptied his mind and heart as he filled mine. I was getting schooled, as if undergoing a crash course, on what it means to be a disciple, a missionary and a preacher. There were moments when my eyes moistened listening to him because of the passion for God that emanated from him. In my heart I whispered that I wanted to be like him: passionate, inspiring, genuine and radical.

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

Mike inspired me in so many ways and gave me ideas I would never have had. He spoke of Pathways becoming a vibrant prayer group for all kinds of people to encounter God. He actually engineered for us a structure in Pathways that would be a springboard for exponential growth. He spoke of a future LNP school for evangelization which now has its beginnings in the Harvest Conference. He spoke of the revival of a healing ministry as an evangelization tool which led to the establishment of the Pathways Healing Ministry. He spoke of expansion and growth. He spoke of going across boundaries for mission and giving all for God.

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

His last service in Ligaya, I believe, was with Pathways in the recently concluded Harvest Conference where he gave a powerful plenary talk entitled “Timeless Principles on Mass and Strategic Evangelization” and led a track on “Organizing Quality Evangelistic Events”. During his plenary talk, Mike asked those who would want to go on mission to the ends of the earth to stand up. A handful of us did. He prayed over us and commissioned us to go where the Holy Spirit leads. And he said that he believes that it is his calling to equip missionaries to go to the ends of the earth. Hearing this from him, I said a prayer in my heart: “Lord” I said “let me be that missionary.”

Yes, I want to be like Mike. But there will really be no one like him.

In one of our last conversations at Resorts World hotel where he treated me for dinner, Mike said something to me that I will never forget.

“Bob”, Mike said “If God wants it, there is nothing you can do to stop it. If He doesn’t, there is nothing you can do to make it happen.”

If it was up to me, I would have wanted for Mike to stay a little longer. I was just getting to know him and I was just learning so much from him. But I guess God wants Mike home. And as Mike said, “If God wants it, there is nothing you can do to stop it.”

Mike, I am sure many would always want to be like you. But I am also sure that you will be quick to say, “Don’t be like Mike. Be like Jesus!”

As I leave today for Kuwait to speak at the Gulf Catholic Charismatic Faith Conference, I bring with me the spirit, passion, humor, wit, courage and boldness of Mike Joseph, Jr. May I make you proud, Mike.

You were always a disciple. And you were always on mission. Now, it’s time to rest.

Rest well, big brother. You deserve it big time!

Sin and Self-Respect: A Vicious Cycle

A few days ago, I was told by a police officer to remove my car from where I was supposed to park because no one was allowed to park there. I looked outside my car window and saw that there was also another car parked along the same area.

I respectfully asked the police officer, “Chief, eh bakit pinayagan niyo po yung isang kotse na yun?”

The officer sheepishly smiled, “Kotse po yan ni Attorney eh. Attorney ni General.”

“So?” I asked. “Bakit po siya pwede mag-park dyan? Akala ko ba no parking dito?”

“Si attorney nga po yan sir. Attorney ni General”

“Chief,” I replied “Akala ko ba pantay ang batas? Dapat po hindi niyo pinapayagan yan kahit sino pa man siya. Kaya po di tayo umaasenso eh.”

The officer scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Eh hanggang dito na lang po talaga ako sir. Di na talaga ako aasenso.”

More than irritation, the prevailing emotion that I felt was pity. I pitied the police officer who might have been so used to compromising his values that he has completely lost his self-respect.

That’s what sin does. Sin causes one to de-value one’s self. And once a person feels his worthlessness, it becomes easier for him to repeatedly give in to sin.

A vicious cycle.

Sin de-values people. De-valued people sin all the more.

Today, make a decision to break the cycle. How?

Know your real value in the eyes of God.

I remember a true story about a prankster who broke inside a department store in the middle of the night in order to exchange the price tags of the items for sale. The next day was mayhem. A car was sold for the price of a shirt. A shirt was sold for the price of a fridge. Shoes were sold for the price of a bed. Beds were sold for a price of spoon.

In a similar way, that’s what Satan has done. He made us think less than our real value. That’s why it is sometimes easier for us to sell ourselves to temptation. We don’t value ourselves in as much as God values us.

Scriptures says:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

Friend, you are a child of a King. A prince. A princess. A royalty.

Break the cycle today.

Don’t sell yourself cheap.

No Substitute for You!

Recently, while driving home from one of our one-to-one dates, I struck a conversation with my eldest daughter Robelle.

“Robelle,” I said “do you think we’re rich?”

“No.” was her quick reply (she didn’t even think about it).

“Well, do you want us to be richer?”

She shrugged, “We have everything that we need Pang…Why are you asking me this question?”

“Well,” I said “If you want us to be richer, then that means I will have to work harder but that would mean less time with you. Is that ok with you?”

She gazed outside the car window for awhile and then replied, “No. I want you Pang. I want more time with you.”

Tears. My eyes glistened. I wiped it a bit as she looked away.

While my daughter appreciated all the fruits of my hard work, at the end of the day, she wants nothing and no one less than me.

Isn’t it the case that we often forget that for people, people are still the most important thing? Presence. Being there. Being together.

More than the new gadget or the latest clothes, what we want are to be with the people we love.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with working hard to earn. And for some, you will even have to leave your family, go abroad just to make ends meet. But let us never make the mistake of thinking that things can substitute for people. Whenever we are with the people who matter most to us, let’s really be there. Be present for them. Make the most of your time with them. Make a moment out of your times together. And don’t let your many cares rob you of your time with your loved ones. Do not let your ‘what ifs’ ruin your ‘what is’. Live in the present moment.

In today’s gospel, Martha committed that mistake. She was anxious trying to do many things to make Jesus feel at home. She forgot the more important thing: that Jesus wanted her more than her home.

Jesus said: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Today, decide to be there for those you value most in your life especially God.

Remember, there is no substitute for you!

Like a Child

Scriptural Basis:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Like a child who…

…believes without question
…trusts without hesitation
…loves with all affection
…is honest with his or her emotions
…expects with pure anticipation

That’s what your heavenly Dad requires of you, child.

Today, even for just awhile, stop being a strong father, busy mom, take-charge executive, or crusading missionary.

Be a “child”. 

Unassuming. Innocent. Totally reliant.

And why not? God is your Dad!