Are We Preaching Prosperity Gospel?

Every now and then, people would approach me and ask about prosperity gospel. The questions come in different forms but the gist always boils down to this: are we preaching prosperity gospel in Victory?

My short answer is “no”. My long answer is “Noooooo!!!” We  preach finance sermons from time to time because money is one of the common idols of our day and one biblical way to battle idolatry is to expose it in the light of the gospel.

Continue reading Are We Preaching Prosperity Gospel?

Black-market Relationships

Ray Ortlund on Proverbs 1:8-19:

Have you ever felt that envy and resentment deep inside? It is where violence begins. Your heart is lying in wait for blood. When this rage pops up to the surface, observe yourself carefully. You will probably recruit others to your cause. Sin tends to recruit. Watch those thoughts and feelings creeping into conversations with other people. You will want to get others on your side.

Look at [Proverbs 1:14]: “Throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse.” A cause, even a negative cause, provides a group to belong to. It is one way we nurse our grudges, and it feels good. But whenever we gather around grievance rather than Jesus, that is counterfeit community, black-market relationships, and that negativity is in collision with reality. It cannot succeed long-term.

An Unholy Delusion

Joseph Loconte on the Great War:

For the intellectual class as well as the ordinary man on the street, the Great War had defamed the values of the Old World, along with the religious doctrines that helped to underwrite them. Moral advancement, even the idea of morality itself, seemed an illusion. . . . [T]he war to make the world safe for democracy, the holy war to advance Christian ideals, was an unholy delusion.

What Does the Bible Say About Dreams and Visions?

Last week I received a message from a victory group leader asking what the Bible teaches about dreams and visions. We know about people in the Bible having significant dreams (like Joseph and Daniel) but does God still reveal things to us that way?

One of the fascinating books I read more than a year ago was Nabeel Qureshi’s “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” where he recounted his dream of standing outside a narrow door and not being able to get into a wedding feast; a dream he later realized was taken straight out of the parable of Jesus in Luke 12:22-29. Qureshi was a Muslim who had been wrestling with the decision to accept Christ but was held back by so much intellectual doubting. Seeing a series of three dreams was his final confirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Today, Qureshi is one of the itinerary speakers at the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. (Edit: In September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi died of stomach cancer). Continue reading What Does the Bible Say About Dreams and Visions?

We Confuse Prayers with Wishes

Lord, teach us to pray!

That request sounds odd to our modern ears. Why would anyone need instruction in prayer?

Ahh, but that question betrays our misunderstanding. Most often, we confuse prayer with wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, and pouring out of feelings. No. Prayer is different. Prayer is finding a way to talk to God. For that to happen, we need Christ, the Christ of the Bible.

Building a Discipleship Culture

More than a year ago we did our first post-Yolanda discipleship training here in Tacloban. There were only 15 of us but we were hopeful that the Lord will grow the seeds we were planting at that time.

This Saturday, we will have our fourth Victory Weekend with 25 participants. By the time this week is over, we would have baptized close to 100 people in less than two years, over 90% of them are locals. That is amazing. The first time I came here in early 2014, almost half of those who attended our services were foreigners. Every week we would pray for more locals to be plugged into the church. We conducted discipleship trainings, did One2One and formed victory groups even if it seemed like nothing was happening. Continue reading Building a Discipleship Culture

He Is Our Grief Absorber

We know of shock absorbers.

I first came across this word in college when the seniors ahead of me wrote in their thesis acknowledgments the names of people who were their shock absorbers. These were close friends who listened patiently as they ranted about professors and thesis advisers who gave them academic hell.

Then of course there’s the shock absorbers for cars and other vehicles.

The point of shock absorbers is to lessen impact, to make collision less painful, less damaging. A bit similar to what Jesus was saying in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He offers wide open arms to those who have heavy loads to carry, those who have untold griefs bursting in their chests. Continue reading He Is Our Grief Absorber

Where Do You Find Broad Wings?

Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”

These words, from the mouth of any other man, would be ridiculous, and even blasphemous. Take the greatest poet, the greatest teacher of philosophy, or the greatest king, and anyone with the biggest soul, who among them would dare to say to all the laboring and heavy laden ones in the whole human race. “Come to me, and I will give you rest”?

Where do you find wings broad enough to spread over every sorrowing soul, except the wings of Christ? Where do you find a harbor big enough to hold all the navies of the world, to give refuge to every storm-worn vessel that ever crossed the sea; —where, but in the haven of the soul of Christ, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead; and, therefore, in whom there is room enough and to spare for all the troubled children of men?

Just Because I Keep Forgetting This

I have always been confused with the difference between a priori and a posteriori so here goes my way of distinguishing them:

Something is knowable a priori if it can be known by a person without experiencing it. Something is knowable a posteriori if you have to experience it in order to know it. For example, if you say that all bachelors are unmarried, that is a priori. If you say that it is raining outside now, that is a posteriori.

A person who knows (a priori) that “All bachelors are unmarried” doesn’t have to experience bachelorhood in order know it. On the other hand, if I say that “It is raining outside,” I should have a previosu experience with rains in order to know for sure that it is indeed raining.

Their Lips Would Turn to Clay

Garth Rosell on his father and his preacher friends, which included Billy Graham and Harold Ockenga:

I remember the sense of absolute wonder and awe that would suddenly come over my father when his comments would turn, as they invariably did, to the discussion of the surprising work of God in their midst. And I remember the terrible urgency to preach the gospel that seemed to grip my father and all of his preacher friends. Like Jonathan Edwards before them, they were absolutely amazed that God has chosen them. They were thrilled to be a part of it all, of course, but they were absolutely certain that they had not caused it, and they all knew in their heart of hearts that if they dared to take even the smallest measure of credit from that which belonged solely to the sovereign Lord of the universe, “their lips would turn to clay,” as they often phrased it.

Money and Paper Trails

Why do we talk about money every year? Two reasons come to mind:

First, because our spiritual maturity is most obvious in the way we spend money. I’m sure there are people in your life who you really admired until you saw their attitude towards money. Some, you admire all the more. Others, well, you just shake your head and wish you hadn’t seen them acting that way.

Second, you will know who you love the most by just looking at the receipts of your purchases. I forgot who told me this but about nine years ago, this was revolutionary to my ears. Back then, I greedily stockpiled all the [pirated] DVDs I could find in Quiapo and St. Francis Square. Having been deprived of TV shows and movies in my childhood years, the sight of all the affordable DVDs thrilled me. I bought everything I wanted: Smallville, Lost, Koreanovelas, Terminator Series, Back to the Future, and James Bond, to name a few. Then someone told me that receipts are paper trails of love. The person or thing you spend most of your money on is the true love of your life. Continue reading Money and Paper Trails