“There’s is a difference between optimism and hope. Optimism says ‘It’s all good, it’s all good, it’s all good’. Is it really all good? Maybe not. Hope says, ‘Yes, it’s bad. But I still trust God.’ Optimism is psychological. Hope is theological. -Rick Warren
For the past 2 years, it has been my practice to think about my “one word focus” for the year.
“Focus”, not “Resolution”. Resolutions are meant to be broken come February.
Just one word. Not 10, or 5 or even 2. Just one. I’m a simply guy. I need simple and dumb. One is simple. Simple is easy to follow.
Last year 2014, my one word was “Go“. I wanted to pursue new things with complete trust in what God has in stored for me. As a result, we’ve launched LifeChurch Makati in its new location at the Holiday Inn & Suites Manila. That’s one new and, honestly, scary thing to pursue. But God is good.
Professionally, I’ve also started a new facet in my professional life. New work habit, new client, and learned new technologies.
* * *
This year, my one word focus is consistency.
I’m a guy that starts fast and furious with so much passion. But I’m the embodiment of a Filipino trait called “Ningas Kugon”. (Can somebody translate that to us in English? :D ). I would start well, but following through has been my issue.
So, this year, with God’s grace, I want to focus on consistency.
Professionally, I want to be consistent. I want to properly manage my time to be able to effectively beat deadlines and have more margin for other great personal projects I’ve started last year.
At church — my passion to see more people come to Christ — as we’ve laid down the foundations for LifeChurch Makati last year, I want to see consistency. I want to see myself following through what we have planned for this year.
At home, I want to consistently make my bride my priority and the kids be given full attention, love and guidance.
So, consistency. Let’s see how I’m going to evaluate myself come January, 2016.
What’s your One Word Focus for 2015?
Ok, calm down. If you’re a Lifer, everything’s fine. No reason to freak out. :)
I recently found a relatively new (1 year old) blog post that’s really cool and quite honestly, scary. It was a review of a book written by a former Oklahoma city satanist. One of the satanic tasks, among others, that he tried to accomplish is trying to kill Craig Groeschel. For those of you who do not know Craig, he’s the founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, one of the fastest growing church in America, and probably the biggest. He is also well loved teaching pastor among the 150 NetworkChurches across the United States and the world, where LifeChurch Makati is part of.
Here’s an excerpt of his story:
One night when Leehan was home alone, he heard strange sounds emanate from his master bedroom, including scratching on the walls, guttural groans, and then chanting. “The demonic sounds from the unholy choir directed me to the living room,” where he was engulfed by an evil presence that overpowered his will.
Mission to kill
He felt an indwelling which seemed to be an angel of death. “This spirit gave me a mission: ‘Kill Craig Groeschel.’” The satanic spirit explained that another man had been give the task but had backed down. Leehan was the chosen one to complete the assignment.
Groeschel founded Life Covenant Church in 1996 in a suburb of Oklahoma City, and it had grown to become the largest church in that area and one of the largest in the U.S.
For a year, Leehan stalked Groeschel with a 9 millimeter Glock and two clips, which he hid under his shirt as he sat in the foyer of the large church and studied the church’s security arrangements. Leehan never ventured inside the sanctuary, because of his hatred of worship and the people of God.
(Spoiler alert: if you plan to read Leehan’s riveting book, stop here.)
On the day he decided to kill Groeschel, something unexpected happened. As Leehan sat and listened to the reading of God’s Word, the praises of His people, and the message of the gospel, it pierced his heart. The stone wall Satan had erected around his heart began to be dismantled, and the light of heaven began to work.
When an usher came over to him, Leehan confessed what he had been planning to do. The man stood there speechless, his eyes wide with shock and horror.
Leehan quickly left the church with his girlfriend, but the next week, his photo was plastered in the staff rooms of every LifeChurch around Oklahoma City. A caption beneath his photo read, “If you see this man, call security or the police.”
When he went back to the church the following Sunday, he forgot his weapon. As he sat in the foyer once more, an armed deputy sheriff confronted him, and Leehan was taken into the main offices. When Leehan was searched, they found no weapon on him.
“Why are you here?” one asked. “Is it to harm a certain staff member?”
“I’m done with that,” Leehan replied. “I think I am seeking freedom from the life I’ve been living for so long. I think I’m seeking your God. I’m just not sure what to do next. I just need some time… and a little space.”
Surprised by grace
Somewhat perplexed by this strange turn of events, the staff decided to let Leehan go, they informed him. They would talk among themselves, seek God’s will, and decide what to do next.
“I was amazed I was allowed to leave the property…and they didn’t have me detained and arrested,” Leehan recounts.
The next day, Chris Spradlin called him from LifeChurch. “I want you to know you are welcome at LifeChurch at any time. On one condition: you need to text John Ziegler (head of security) on Sunday morning and let him know which service you’re going to be attending. John will be watching you…you will need to sit in the same place every Sunday and conduct yourself in a way that would be pleasing to God. That’s all we’re asking.”
“If you need anything from me, don’t hesitate to ask. God bless you, Mike,” Spradlin added.
Leehan couldn’t believe it. They were welcoming him back without any pressure or forced meetings. The conditions seemed completely reasonable, considering he planned to kill their pastor only days before.
The grace shown to him began to melt his heart. “I had never seen that kind of love before,” Leehan says. “I kept on going back because they let me go.”
Over the next three months Leehan attended the church, but Satan would not give up his possession without a fight. Leehan found himself engulfed in an intense spiritual battle for his allegiance.
You can read his story on this blog post.
“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ— God’s righteousness.” -Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:7-9 MSG)
Every new year is a year of hope, a new beginning. But in our pursuit of happiness, pleasure and dreams, there is a great possibility that we’ll loose focus on the more important thing. And as a follower of Jesus, he should be the most important thing. My dreams, my plans, my happiness all depends on him and him alone.
As we enter the new year, my prayer for you and me is that we make everything else insignificant compared to our pursuit of Christ. May 2015 be all about Jesus in your life. If you’re not yet a follower of Christ, my hope is you’ll consider him this year — or at least investigate the possibility that his claims might be true — that he can forgive, love and give meaning to life.
Happy New Year!
(Photo credit: Huffington Post)
I’m not part of Pope Francis’ organization, but I know enough about Roman Catholic doctrines to say that these ABS-CBN produced t-shirts are misrepresenting him. They probably get so excited about his visit that they tried to produce catchy phrases that are supposed to represent his message. But nope, my Roman Catholic friends, Pope Francis didn’t say “No Religion…” just for the sake of embracing diversity. Or didn’t say be passive about the wrongdoings of your fellowmen in the name of “acceptance”.
And even if he did say this, Jesus will disagree. He grew up a Jew and was the founder of Christianity. He was so exclusive that he even said he is the only way, the truth and the life, that no one comes to the father except through him. So let’s embrace diversity. But don’t use religion.
And yes, Jesus also did say it’s ok to judge. It’s in the Bible. ;)