Living A Life that Demands Questions

23 07 2014

“I think I’m going to be dipped in the water as well!” Edgar came into conclusion after being convinced by his friend Romy who stops smoking after his baptism.

“So Edgar,” I’ve started my conversation with him after his baptism today, “what is this story that I’ve heard about your friend Romy?”

“Yeah, it’s unbelievable!” Edgar exclaimed. “Who would believe he could do that? I knew him as a smoker for 30 years and it’s quite a shock to see him stops!”

“And when did he stops smoking anyway?”

“After his baptism.” Edgar replied.

This photo was taken today. He was baptized by his friend Litoy who is also a disciple. Edgar’s wife was baptized by Albert.

Like Romy, we should live a life that demands questions.

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“Jesus died for our sin, and so are we. You are dead in God’s sight and what should we do with dead people?” These are the words that I spoke to Edgar during his baptism.

“We should bury them.” Answered Edgar.

“People who wants to follow Jesus must be baptized in the water as a symbol of his death. Your old life that’s the result of sin we buried in baptism. Why? Because you will be given a new life. A new life for you to live in following Him. Are you ready to to follow Jesus and become His disciple?” I ask Edgar.

“Oh yes!” Was his big answer.

“Are you ready to become a part of His kingdom?”

A resounding yes we heard while taking a video.





Sent Two Disciples Today

1 02 2014

“Hey uncle,” Arlen approach me today, “can I go home to the mountains this afternoon while there are still some waters at the river?”

“What? What about having ‘waters in the river’ mean?” I’m quite confused.

“I should go home with Analyn today,” she explained,” because it rained a lot last night and we had some five baptisms pending because of lack of water.”

I get it.

Arlen, 19yo, along with her younger sister Analyn were the 2nd generation disciples. Their brother Albert, 1st generation 21yo, has made them both one morning during breakfast here. They all, along with their other two younger sister, have been living with us for almost 5 years now. Their father died two years ago, their mom named Auling who became a widow, (2nd generation also, Albert made her into a disciple), is a disciple-maker also. The families were all involve in disciple-making, about 30 people have been baptized last month reaching up to the 5th generation.

The family has a house up in the mountains where their father has built for them. They went to school there walking for an hour in the bushes and of course another hour going back. When we transferred in the same town closer to them (after our family house was burned with fire 7 years ago) we decided to help them have an easy access to school, this requires them to live with us. From time to time, they go up to their own house and make disciples there. Their own family clans and old friends have become disciples too. “Who are they anyway?” I ask what’s the relationship between these five people who were ready to be baptized and Arlen. “They’re my barkada before.” she replied. “Barkada” is a Cebuano group name for your circle of friends. There comes a time in your life in school where you met nice people and they became your friends and your relationships with them deepens until they will become a sort of your “second” family. You go to them not only just for fun but also for advices when you need a hand. No leadership of one person required, only what all can agree with and all directly do it together. When they meet together they don’t depend on schedules or programs, they just come and wants to see each other because they liked each other. Most of these people who has become your “barkada” would also become your best friend “in life.” A “barkada” is so common to us as Filipinos. Almost everybody has one either they’re religious groups or not, in school or in companies, each has one or can create one without knowing it. One can start it even without realizing. And then later he would know.

One thing we have in common here why a disciple can easily find people to make disciples: friends. We make disciples to those whom that we have relationships already. We don’t evangelism in this definition: preach at to someone in the park to the person whom you do not even know or knows you. We make disciples through our circle of friends.

Well, Jesus did.

Calling peoples names like Nathaniel, Zaccheus, Nicodemus, surely He has built some relationships with among them. If not, then He knows how to, like the Samaritan woman. I once was in the taxi in Manila with an “evangelist” friend of mine and right away he shared the gospel to the driver. “I don’t make disciples to the person unless he’s a friend.” I interrupted him.

“Wait a minute,” he’s confused I know. I intentionally do that to him. “Did I hear that right? What do you mean?” He insisted.

“I don’t just do what you did. We don’t do that in making disciples.” I replied, “but surely I understand if one is doing some evangelism. Are you?”

“Well Molong, what if God told you to make disciples to the person you just meet?” A very good question right?

“That’s easy. I will make him my friend.” How long does it take for you to become a friend to the person? How long does it take for Jesus to become a friend of the Samaritan woman? To the tax sinner and collectors? I don’t know about you but one thing I know for sure: Jesus makes friends with sinners. He was even called a “friend of sinners.”

Here the problem lies, we don’t have an “unbelieving” friends anymore! We’ve lost them all. We’ve been deceived by these Bible verses itself: “Do not be unequally yoke with unbelievers.” “He who is a friend of the world is an enmity with God.” “Do not love the world.” We simply miss the point if we’re not looking unto Jesus way of making disciples – He makes friends first!

Jesus is 30 years old when He started His mission. What did He do then before that? I believe He makes friends. The disciples He has been long His friends. He “calls them by name” when He choose them to become His disciples. He knows Nathaniel’s name and calls him as He sits under the fig tree. How did He know his name?

Back to the story above. People up in the mountain depends on rain water so much for their daily use. Their wells dried up on hot season. They can’t even plant vegetables on their soil because there’s lack of water. As much as they can, they gather rain on big buckets. We baptized many people in the rain there. And yes, it’s very cold water for their bodies. It has been raining here since the biggest typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan, its international name). Recently, about 13 days of non-stop rain and flooding a lot of cities and landslides and many died too. In three months straight, we were bombarded with a 7.2 quake, a biggest typhoon ever, and floods. And honestly, the very reason why Arlen went home with her sister to do some baptisms with their friends at the river while there is still water because we just had a category two typhoon last night! It rained more water with some air blowing everywhere.

Thanks for the typhoon, God must have sent it to use it to cleanse people’s sin? huh!  





House2House Questionaire

19 12 2013
I just received a monthly news-letter from house2house.com written by my friend Paul Byrley. He talks about church “movements” including those who are in the simple, organic, house church movement if either we become like the others who are only good for a start but has a “bad or not so satisfying” ending. He quoted an analogy by an author named Mike Breen saying that “so many movements in the Western church have failed in the past century. They are a car without an engine, it won’t go anywhere.” The same is true with simple churches: if we simply do what we have been doing, even multiply it by hundreds of times; the programs, the meetings, the leadership, the systems in our simple churches, it won’t go anywhere.

I had my share of “honey, I shrunk the church” for 8 years. I have seen the complications of multiplying the system into smaller churches rather than multiply disciples. I had to face myself of questions of which I do not have the answer. I felt so ashamed of myself in the sight of God and friends. I know how to evangelize and do crusades, start churches and to preach, start a band and do concerts at mall, do discipleship ‘classes’ and sunday schools BUT I do not know HOW to make disciples that makes disciples. I decided, with my wife, to kill ourselves: literally stop doing what we are currently doing and wait on God to give us the work and teach us how to do it. A person who wants to obey the King’s command to make disciples has to stop doing what He is currently doing or else he can’t do what the King have ask him to do. So we die so that He might live.

“What are you doing to be the Church?”

“How do you make disciples?”

“How are you caring for the least of these?”

After reading the article and the above questions was challenge by its readers I want to share a bit of our stories. Although many stories of how we live Jesus-Life-Together as a family in our sites and Felicity has written a new one, allow me to write something.

It is important to “treat” each other’s members as part of your extended family. If someone is at fault or there’s a need of correction and rebuking I always ask myself, “What if he is my own brother/sister how should I talk to him/her?” I normally ended up not talking to the person unless I know exactly what to say, when to say, where to say and how to say it. At times, I wish I had a duct tape on my mouth. “He who manage well of his own children can manage the household of God.” This is what Paul says to his “son in the faith” Timothy. Being the church is being family to each other. Now, that’s a lot of relationships in there. We are a body and so the hand could not say to  the foot, “I have no need of you until next Sunday.” Because the way we look at church as a family, we do not have Christian “neighbors” then. We don’t “support” a brother, we “help” him of his need. We serve one another in the community through our gifting and talent that Father has given to each one of us. We start living next door to each other. We started sharing each others possessions. We do not buy from each other and we do not sell to each other. We give and receive, we “accept” one another. Following the apostolic pattern in Acts 2:42-46 and the life of the Thessalonian Saints, yes, we have had our struggles and challenges. Only different than how most Institutional Churches and house churches look like.

We have orphans and widows among us and around us. We helped the widows on their need and fathered and mothered the orphans. We don’t start “orphanages mentality ministries” such as Children’s Feeding Centers or Orphanages or Elderly Homes. We invite them to our families and become families. We encourage families to adopt a parentless child like one of my sisters adopted one orphan who has two children (orphans too right?) and start helping her of her needs. Thus, widows have families to be with and orphans have father-mother figure. I normally say that a child in the orphanage is an orphan but an orphan in the family is a child.

Because it’s a family-based relationships and not just meeting-based relationships, we don’t do meetings we just meet a lot as any normal healthy families do. We don’t “attend” a family, we are family. We live the Life of Jesus Together in the community in a daily basis (Hebrews 3:13) thus meetings is only a by-product of our lives being knit-together. As one of my fathers in the Lord Mike Peters would say, “A family that you “attend” is not a family, it is an orphanage. People in the orphanage may do-things-together, eat together or play together yet it is still an orphanage, not a family.”

This is what we are doing to be the church with each other. How about to be the church to our neighbor? A story might be a good idea at this point:

“Albert, why not read your Bible in the morning with a widow that we just handed a wheelchair?” I encourages him to not waste his time reading his Bible alone every morning and instead do “one more mile” by reading it “aloud” to a widow who cannot read anymore. I don’t know if I was led or not but one night I kept on thinking what can we do to serve the community around us. I woke up in the morning and start roaming around, get in to small foot paths and right inside to small houses. Found several old lonely people, one is even look like she’s inside a cage for years. Then I went to one of the Japanese surplus shop and get a rusty, flat tire broken wheelchair for $50. Tied it with my bike and went home and fix it and took it to one of the old-widow woman in the community. That’s when Albert starts seeing her every morning, brining her food from our common garden, help cook food, fetch water, clean her house and eat together and read the Word of God. And in four days of loving and caring he baptizes her on her toilet room. Some verses I am not good to remember, but somewhere in the Bible it says that “you young man should take good care of your widows”?

Not for long, the friends we make have become disciples. We know how to make people curious about the Kingdom of God. We just live kingdom life amongst them and then they start asking good questions. Our way of life demands a question: What are you guys? Why are you doing this? Why did you do that? Why you do things differently? Why you see things differently? What is this all about? What is your religion? Any kinds of questions we led them into the kingdom of God by answering back, “Do you really want to know? Are you really seeking the truth? Do you want to know the truth?” And mostly their answer is yes and then we continue, “If so, then I cannot tell you yet what and why. I am gonna have to make you a disciple first.”

As normal in our making disciples conversations one would ask more, “Why?”

“Because spiritually dead people could not understand spiritual things. So, I’m going to make you a disciple first and then later I will explain to you what kind of stuff I am made of and what country I belong.” This is how we bring people into a decision to become Jesus disciples. We don’t give our pearls to pigs and let them trample it. People who ask questions about the way you live are normally ready to enter into the Kingdom of God. Because the kingdom will not be given to people who do not even know how to ask the right question. You have become the “witness” of it, an “ambassador” of your country, the “Kingdom of God.” This is how we start making disciples and within 3-6 minutes “making,” the person is already willing to be baptized immediately without delay.

We don’t negotiate with dead people. We bury them as quick as we can. When Jesus said “go and make disciples AND baptize them” means that it is your prerogative to make baptism happen, not the other guy. But if he himself offered to be baptized during the “making” like the Eunuch with Stephen who shares the Messiah then you’re an expert if making disciples!

“How are you caring with the least of these brethren?”

Here is the architecture of the New Testament Church: 1) They have orphans and widows 2) They have spiritual parents who look after their “children in the Lord” as a family, the one’s that they’ve made into disciples 3) They have kingdom projects that in turn support the 1 & 2 and number four, their “last priority” is they support the poor that is “outside” of them, why? because there is no poor “inside” of them. “No on is poor among them because they own everything.” (Wolfgang Simson)

When it comes to loving one another as disciples of Jesus, we ask a question: How much can we lay down our lives to one another? We’re not that expert yet about it but we have had some wonderful times together obeying Jesus commands to take care the members of our family.





Lunch Time Conversation:

16 10 2013

Lunch Time Conversation:

Lunch time conversation:

“Francisca wants to be baptize,” Albert’s mom shared. She came from the mountain where she lived. “Can we baptize her today?”

“Just what did you do, why it’s easier for you to just ask people to be baptize?” Her daughter inquired.

“Well, they believe in me and whatever I say to them they will believe it also.” She replied.

“Why, what did you just said anyway?” I ask while cooking eggplant for lunch.

“I told her that you must go through baptism so that your sins since while you were youth will be forgiven and you will be cleansed. Imagine how old you are now?”

Francisca is a widow already and over sixty years old.

“And how did Francisca replied?” I ask.

“‘That must be right because when I was a baby and baptized in a Catholic Church I have no idea what’s going on.’ Was Francisca’s reply.”

Catholics in my country has backgrounds of Jesus death on the cross. This makes more easier to let them believe in Jesus when you make them His disciples.

(On the right is Auling, Albert’s mother, whom he makes into a disciple one midnight. On the left is Analyn, Albert’s sister who has made some disciples as well. One who took this photo is Arlen, older sister of Analyn who made a lot of disciples that reach up to the 14th generation. Three of them were sent for two days to make disciples and they made five. Actually, we don’t intentionally sent disciples to make disciples, that happens only when planned out. But normally, as we ‘go along’ our daily routine here and there it just happens. As i always said, if one really knows his real job [make disciples] then other things are just temporary. You just happen to be a carpenter or a doctor or just a person cutting grasses on people’s lawns. You are a disciple-maker and you are aware of that every moment of your day. This is our life-style: makers of finest disciples who makes disciples!)





Discipleship, what is it really?

12 10 2013
“Discipleship” is not defined or identified as a group of folks meeting on a 2-hour study of a particular subject on a particular day. I have no idea where’s this thing came from since Jesus and the disciples never did it.
Jesus could have asked Peter to pass around copies of Discipleship Lesson 2 On Faith when they enter into the upper room in Jerusalem or synagogue. But instead, as they passes… by hills and valleys and they hear birds singing Jesus said, “look at the birds” and it’s about faith. “See these grasses?” Jesus added and it becomes a lesson on trust.
The way our master discipler, Jesus, raised them as sons and daughters of the kingdom, (not as faithful members of a social religious fan (god) club) is very effective and powerful that He can just leave after three years with them. And a revolution starts with just a bunch of smelly fishermen. We must go back to the basics of discipleship which is apprenticeship: one who is bound to serve one another for a long period of time. Full of endurance to learn the art of changing lives. As we are called to serve Him and one another, Jesus then develops His followers and all who wants to follow Him to be servants. “Denying” “dying to yourself” “laying down ones life to your brother” “no desire of yourself  whatsoever” is not a “leadership course” at all to attend in a classroom during a conference. As we see most leadership stuff develops in the “barn” whereas servanthood is develop in the “field.”
Imagine if Jesus had only spent 12-hours a day with His disciples for 3 years time, and we do it for a 2-hour academic knowledge once a week discipleship training. Do you know how many years would it take for us to become Jesus disciples?
36 years!
No wonder it is in the “togetherness,” it’s in the “daily from house to house” “breaking bread” and “in the apostles doctrine” (Acts 2:42-46) that the earliest church functioned as a body of Christ, (not fragmented species) to corporately obey their King. A “change life” depends on “one another” and not on a weekly 2-hour knowledge puff-up style.
There are 168 hours in one week. If we spent only 2 or 4 hour in a quick meeting-based church having a “talk-shows” instead of “do-it-together LIFE” you know what? It doesn’t transfer kingdom values!




Is it Discipleship or Making Disciples?

19 09 2013

We don’t do ‘discipleship’ because we don’t ‘disciple’ people. The idea behind ‘discipleship’ is ‘teaching the person for a lifetime.’ Let alone relationship handles that! And what’s more irony is that we’re sending the wrong message that instead of Jesus owns the person as His student, we say in turn “he is ‘my’ disciple” simply because ‘we disciple’ him.

In contrast, we do make disciples. ‘Teaching’ for a lifetime is not the focus but ‘relationship for a lifetime’ is. This in turn make teaching into a ‘lifestyle’ and that’s how Christianity is really, back in the days of the early church.

We do ‘make’ disciples. That’s the command: to go and make disciples. Disciples of who? Me? No, I am not Jesus. He is. I only ‘make’ people a disciple of Jesus, not mine. So that means it’s quick, simple and fast to reach the growing population.

Jesus didn’t say “go and disciple” but he said, “go and make disciples.” That’s where we make making disciples complicated. Because we thought as if discipling the people belongs to us. It is not. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit that’s living ‘inside’ the person after baptism. What could be His job dwelling in you if not to ‘teach you into all truth’? I often ask. “What kind of truth can I teach the person when the Truth resides in him? Am I better than the Holy Spirit?” This puts me to shame. So for me to taste the fullness of Him I have to trust Him fully.

So, my job and your job is only to ‘make’ the person a disciple of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s job is to disciple the person. And Jesus job is to build His Church. Got the ‘job’ description?

Jesus has a hard time building His church because we try to do His job. It is obvious then that we didn’t do our job. And the Holy Spirit also has having a hard time ‘discipling’ the person because we also tried to do that job for Him. Thus, instead the person will look like Jesus, he looks more of like you and me. Simply put, that because God cannot multiply His Self by the way we do things ‘our way’ we just multiply ourselves then without even asking His permission. So many of ‘our’ disciples look like us.

Paul warned, “there are those that are among you who will draw disciples for themselves.” My friend, we are only taking men to Christ for him to be discipled.

It all goes down to its implications. “Discipleship” today is not what it’s suppose to be. Try to see the difference between statements below and it’s implications:

“I disciple you.”
“I will make you a disciple.”

See how the later is simple, quick and fast and the other one is complicated?

So, if your way of making disciples is complicated then you will be the very reason why Jesus didn’t comeback yet.





Part Two: BUTUAN TRIP

16 08 2012

Another late at night table conversations again with just Ronie, Jomie and I. This time his struggles of catching up people that needed to be baptized immediately has been delayed. And there are already some of them who are backing out.

“Why, you cannot baptize them directly?” I ask Ronnie.

“They are still on their working time,” he spoke in a soft voice, “these people are bakeshop workers.”

“Well, since the owner allowed you to hold Bible studies to her workers why not ask for a couple of minutes to take them to a nearby sea or pool or let her buy a big water drum to use it for baptism just at the back of her shop?”

“I already ask her permission but it was too late. Probably next time we could do it.” Ronnie is very excited about making disciples, he is sure now that he knows how to make people disciples of Jesus. It is however a normal struggles for beginners. Especially when you are used to preaching to the crowds or just sharing the Good News to someone hoping to let them do a “sinner’s prayer” and gave them ‘new’ life without burying the ‘old.’

We had the same experience here in Cebu when I made Albert a disciple, not until Albert made Jomie a disciple that both of them were baptized together. But I only baptizes Albert, and let Jomie help me out. And after I baptized Albert I let him baptized Jomie and I help him out. Passing the baton of not just making disciples to the next generation but also doing baptisms is important for multiplication. I suspect, in Acts 2, after Peter’s preaching to the crowd, there are those who was ‘cut to the heart’ and ask, “What shall we do to be saved then?” Three thousand souls were added to the church that day. How did they do baptisms then? In Jerusalem there are pools around to use for taking baths. More than 30 of them scattered in the city. So, they divided the crowds among the 120 disciples with Peter and baptizes them all in one day. Probably baptizing each other too.

From Albert, whom I made and baptized, he is the first person that I make a disciple of Jesus two and half years ago. And on his wing alone, he made 42 disciples up to the 12th generation. Actually, its Jomie and him partnering together. Several times, both of them made two, each take on each one and within just 5-6 minutes they baptizes the person already. Many stories after stories from their sites www.albertpacquiao.wordpress.com and www.pation.wordpress.com

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