Worship Explosion 2015
A worshipping church. That is one of our distinctives. And this year, after more than a decade, we will again be having a worship camp at the newly-opened, freshly-renovated Camp Praise Valley! There in the place where we first belted our songs of praise and adoration to God. There in the place where we first experienced God. There in the place where God is. There is our place of worship... where we will experience a WORSHIP EXPLOSION.
Jehovah M’Kaddesh, the Lord who Sanctifies
C-L-E-A-N. These five letters may be incomprehensible to you— You who are living a life of lies and deceptions... who are running against the law… who are stealing things, forbidden moments—even futures and lives. Or you who are being haunted by your murky past: an illegal job… a police record… an abandoned family… a bloodstained knife. Even you who everybody perceives as pristine clean—innocent—but are hoping for the demise of somebody… nurturing wild imaginings… plotting evil schemes
Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts
“In this world you will have trouble.” Think of dwindling economy, job layoffs, bill pileups, hospital medications, relationship glitches, and deep heartaches. We see these happening all around us—even experience these ourselves. So much so that we might be thinking, ‘Are we still in the era of wars and conquests?’ Life IS a battle. Living with this fact, however, does not mean life has to be miserable. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE overcome the world.” That, from the One who commands the hosts of angels, who commands rain to pour forth and storm winds to be still—the very One who commanded this world to existence.
JEHOVAH RAPHA, THE LORD WHO HEALS
To say that she was desperate is an understatement. She had been bleeding for twelve long years. She should have been limp and powerless. She should be staying at home. But she knew that the help she had been waiting for for years had come, so she battled her way out to touch just the edge of His cloak. The result? “…and immediately her bleeding stopped.” He was her only son. So when he died, she did not just cry. She howled and bawled. Seeing her irrepressible grief, He reached out to her and said, “Don’t cry.” But He did not stop there. He touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up.” And the boy did!
Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness
A God who is perfect… spotless… holy. Such a God should NOT have anything to do with men. Vile and corrupt in every way, we are His exact opposite. He SHOULD have been revolted. But He was not. Instead, He did the most unthinkable act: He embraced us… Clothed us with His righteousness… Sent His only Son to bear our sin—even became sin for us. All these, just so we could be granted entrance into His holy courts. JEHOVAH TSIDKENU. Through Him we are forgiven. Deception, evil plotting, sexual fantasies, physical abuse, rape, murder—whatever our sins may be—if we repent and ask for mercy, we will be forgiven. Because there on the cross He bore the sin of all mankind.
Unsung Heroes: CALEB
Unsung Heroes: CALEB A PROMISE TO CLAIM He was one of the twelve sent by Moses to spy on the Promised Land. Chosen to represent his tribe in this critical mission, we could say that Caleb was indeed a cut above the rest. What’s more, he was one of the only two spies who believed that they, just like what God had told them, could conquer Canaan. Even when the land had fortified cities inhabited by strong people and even, by giants. And because of that, he pleased the heart of God, so much so that in Numbers 14:24, he was promised an inheritance: “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”
TSIDKENU: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
Over and over again, our beloved nation is bewildered by the despairing evils in the society. We hear of reports such as theft, robbery and murder that claim lives of innocent people. Moreover, we are not blind to the reigning oppression that violently deprives the poor and the needy of the quality of life. Sadly, in all of these, we hunger for truth to be upheld and justice to be served to our fellow countrymen. Amidst the despairing scenario, the Almighty God gives us hope by revealing Himself as Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness. This is a consoling message to each one of us who might be tempted to believe that all our efforts to fight against the evils in the society are futile. We remember that we have a God who is against all forms of wickedness. Thus, we can say that Tsidkenu is always on our side in this fight for the triumph of good in our country.
JIREH: THE LORD WHO PROVIDES ALL OUR NEEDS
For the years, we, as a nation, have struggled with seeming hopelessness concerning our country’s huge debt. Sometimes, we wonder if we will someday be able to leave this situation behind and move on towards progress. Furthermore, we cannot help but remember our fellow countrymen who are sunk deep in endless debt. We ask ourselves, where is the hope for our country and our people? This is the same cry of the King David, and found the absolute answer to his heart-wrenching questions, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7). No circumstance, no matter how seemingly irreversible, can ever erase the truth that our blessed hope is our Almighty God. And in such a time as this, He reveals Himself to us as Jireh – the Lord Who Provides. He is the God who can miraculously turn our country’s situation upside down.
Jireh, the Lord Who Provides
From the most basic to the most complex, man is never without needs. Consider: that street beggar who is without proper nourishment, neat clothes, or a shield against the sun and rain… that minimum wage earner who only has enough for three meals a day and no budget for expenses like house rental, medicine bills, or school fees… or even that upperclassman who has a mansion in Forbes Park, a Lamborghini, and thriving businesses but is always restless and stressed - at work and especially at home. Because whatever the status in life, there will always be that something that is lacking. Unless we go to the One True Source of it all… the Lord Who provides… JIREH.
LIFE’S UTMOST REWARD
A toga, a cap, a stole, and - don’t forget - a diploma. After years and years of studying, you have finally earned it! It’s no surprise that you are elated to walk up the stage in front of your classmates, teachers and loved ones. But as you get off the stage, you wonder, is that really it? Endless nights of burning the midnight oil capped off by only a few seconds at the stage? You see, a toga, cap, stole and diploma - these are rewards, yes. But not THE reward of school life. 'Then what is?' you ask. I say, 'Wisdom - that is, applying the knowledge you have acquired in real life.' For, of what use are your 123's if you haven’t learned to count your blessings? Your ABCs if you haven’t learned to be polite in your words? Those formulas, theorems and laws of science are nothing if you have not learned to live by the principles of life - love, respect, unity, to name but a few.
Unsung Heroes: HANNAH
Unsung Heroes: HANNAH THE ANSWER: GOD “…I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord…” –1 Samuel 1:26-28 Yes, she was loved. But that was the only ray of sunshine in her otherwise dark life. She was one of two wives. And she was barren. And what’s worse, every opportunity that presented itself was just another chance for her rival to ridicule her, to provoke her and to torment her… and maybe make her brood over the worst things: that maybe God had cursed her by not giving her a son; that maybe someday her husband would cease to love her because she could not give him a child; that maybe she was barren because she deserved to be childless; or that maybe the reason why she had no children was because she was unfit to become a mother.
EL ELYON: THE LORD WHO OWNS OUR BELOVED NATION
Let me start with two heartbreaking realities. Millions of Filipinos are starving to death all over the Philippines. As this despairing scenario is happening, heartless men and women in power are living an unbelievably luxurious life all in the name of selfish ambition, greed and corruption. It is but natural to feel some sort of hopelessness in knowing these things. Yet, these two contrasting realities must, in the same way, awaken us to the truth of God’s revelation: He is El Elyon, the God Most High and the possessor of heaven and earth. With this, we gain a new perspective on how to see what is happening in our beloved country. As Psalm 78:35 says, “They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” This means that He sovereignly reigns over every single thing on the surface of the earth and over every situation that we are going through.
El Elyon, the Lord Who Owns
Imagine a boy, soiled and sweaty after playing in the backyard. His father sees him—dirt, mud and all. But instead of being revolted, his father gently scoops him from the mud and says, “Let’s get you cleaned up, son.” Now that same boy would not go to school, for he is being bullied by his classmates. So his father instructs him, “Muster your courage. You can’t just run from your fears,” then adds, “I’ve got your back.” And when the boy gets sick, his father watches over him all through the night and whispers, “If you need anything, I’m just here.” So when the boy grows up, he makes a name for himself and receives wide recognition. In the midst of the cheering crowd is his father, smiling contentedly and says, “That’s my son.”
Unsung Heroes: STEPHEN
UNSUNG HEROES: STEPHEN SEE JESUS “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” This could have been uttered by a man so deep in prayer that he received assurance from the God of Prayer… a person who had reached the pinnacle of worship and communed with the God of Worship… or someone so deeply immersed in the Holy Scriptures that he actually met the God of the Scriptures. But these words were not uttered during a prayerful meditation. Nor was it delivered in the height of a powerful worship experience. These were, in fact, the words of a man surrounded by a mob mad with rage. These were the words of Stephen right before he was stoned to death (Acts 7).
RAAH: THE LOVING SHEPHERD OF OUR NATION
More than 100 million Filipinos – this is how numerous we are right now. Consequently, this means that we certainly live in a diverse community with different languages, cultural orientation and religious beliefs. This is precisely the reason why we are like a flock of sheep that desperately needs a true shepherd. As a nation, we are totally helpless on our own, making sustainable growth and progress unattainable for us. Add to this the conflicting perspectives that divide us into fragments, leaving us unable to work as one country.
HIS LOVE SONG
“Cause all of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections…” Probably everyone who hears that song gets that shivery-fuzzy positive feeling (called kilig). And why not? For such profession of devotion to escape his lips even after contemplating his love’s flaws and weaknesses, the songwriter must be at the Everest of his love! We may not be songwriters, but we sure have our own ‘love songs.’ Playing hide-and-seek with your son after a tiresome day… Staying up late to look after your sick grandmother… Enduring years in a foreign land to provide for your family’s needs… Donating your organ to an ailing brother… Throwing yourself into a burning building to rescue your wife.
Raah, the Lord our Shepherd
Someone who leads, protects, nurtures, and cares for. That is what spiritual leaders are. Shepherds. From Abraham to Jacob to David to the leaders of the early Palestinian church, the Bible is loaded with depictions of shepherd-sheep relationships. If you are barely making ends meet, if you are dreading that the next knock would be your landlady, or if you have expended all your energy trying to earn an extra penny for that hospital bill—then believe that He is Raah… that He will lead you beside green pastures.
Elohim, the God Who Creates
In the beginning, the earth was dark and formless and void. Nothing. Then came a voice that echoed throughout the vast nothingness, “Let there be light!” And there was. Elohim. The God who created the wondrous universe - from the majestic sunset to the roaring waterfalls... the tiny insect to the gigantic Mt. Everest... the bodies of water to the clusters of galaxies - without ever lifting a hand. Elohim. The God who transformed an old Abraham into a father of many nations... a young Joseph into a rescuer from famine... a stuttering Moses into a leader of God’s people... a fearful Peter into a bold disciple... and a persecutor Paul into a great apostle.
ELOHIM: THE CREATOR OF OUR GLORIOUS PROPHETIC DESTINY
Happy, blessed and victorious new year to all my fellow Filipinos here and abroad! As a nation, the recent years will definitely be recorded as among the ranks of the most terrible times in the history of the Philippines. The dreadful earthquakes, typhoons and storm surges - they all tested the stability of our faith and hope in the Almighty God, as well as our fortitude as a country. And if we look at statistics on deaths and destruction left behind by these catastrophes, we cannot help but feel overwhelming grief towards our fellow Filipinos, especially those directly affected by these calamities.
The crackling sound of fireworks resonating through the air... the fascinating display of lights dancing in the sky... and the joyous cries of people of every age and status filling the atmosphere. Joy and hope. This was the scenario last January 1, 2015. But, come to think of it, this IS the scenario EVERY January 1st of the unpredictability of the coming year, every one welcomes life with a smile. Because every new year, every one hopes that things will change... that things will be better! Regardless of the unpleasantness of the past year and regardless But isn’t it that the only true joy lies in a life with Christ? Isn’t it that the only solid hope we have is Jesus? He who is the Fountain of joy and the Spring of hope? If all would just realize this, then maybe, we would welcome each new year quite differently - still with a bang, but a different kind of bang -
Unsung Heroes: THE SOLDIER WITH A NAME
He is always spoken of as the doting husband of Bathsheba, brutally slain to cover up for King David’s misdeed with her. The helpless victim of a kingdom-wide adultery scandal, Uriah is often depicted as the stain in the otherwise clean record of the “man after the heart of God.” Sadly, his death had easily been the highlight of his life, that only a handful few took the time to know the kind of life he lived. But while his account can be found in only a chapter in the 39 books of the Old Testament, it is still a story worth reflecting on. Because there was definitely more to remember about him than his sad death. He was, after all, not just a simple-minded soldier who blindly walked towards his downfall, but a loyal soldier who refused to abandon his post... even to the point of death.