Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jules' Lament

This is Papa's recording of "Kahit Isang Saglit" by Martin Nievera. Papa's context fits the song better than Martin's. The word "sana..." is really a hopeless, desperate wish. But to no avail. Our only consolation is that we have a glorious hope of a great reunion in Heaven. And that is not SANA for us who put our faith and trust in the work and in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Papa's song is played here with the Manila String Machine as accompaniment.

The video's purpose is so that I can paste the song here in my blog. There is no music pasting option so I decided to put together video clips of us! I dont have pictures of mama in my computer, but this video is taken from our eulogies during the wake. The song, with all its sadness, is actually the opposite of what we experienced during the funeral, the time was filled with victory and true joy.

I hope you like the song, ladies and gentlemen, my Dad Jules Amper, singing Kahit Isang Saglit for his beloved wife Aurora, and the Manila String Machine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Faithful Ones

Dearest Faithful ones, I commend you for fighting the good fight, and hopefully, when we do finish the race, we have all kept the faith and have not backslid to a point where we're not even sure we're saved at all.

Alright, in my recent article, I mentioned that how we look and act affects our target audience/unbelievers. It may be positive or negative, or plain ineffective. There is a common philosophy going around in youth churches that in order to penetrate the youth culture more effectively, you have to use strategic ways to get to them. To a degree, I agree. Yes, we have to be creative and very wise and shrewd as snakes.

I don't go and speak in a young people's congregation dressed up in coat and tie, in my shiny black leather shoes, and well pressed slacks. I usually go in jeans, a nice polo shirt, and with a neat haircut and a clean shave. Why? I don't want to gap myself too distant to the generation Im speaking to. Impression is very vital to a speaker's attention retention. However, I know of a speaker whose name is Paul Washer, who never cared for what he looked like, but focused on the Power of God to say His message...and I tell you, it didn't need fashion to do so. Bottom line, its really the Holy Spirit factor that counts.

But, at times there is credit to the "reach the audience" philosophy. Like the new translations of the Bible offer an easier understanding of the Scriptures as compared to the King James Version of it. And I know lots of young people drawn to the Lord because of churches using the contemporary music style, and "the preacher talking relevant topics of today's generation" talks.

I agree. Yes I do. But there is a flaw in this philosophy, that makes it soooo dangerous. If we as a church target these audience and do too much of the "Christians are cool too" philosophy, we neglect the change of heart part, the turning away from sin. We focus on Jesus as the gift of God, we hand Him out like pamphlets to people we meet in evangelistic meetings, but never focus on the relationship with Him. Jesus cant be your best friend if you're not willing to follow Him. He cant be Lord if you don't want to follow Him. Yes you're saved and all, but without Jesus as LORD, the whole point is missed. The kids only get to heaven, not be with the Savior.

Alright, as for my real message, the faithful ones now adapt this lifestyle of being like the world. Yes, again I do not disagree. But this lifestyle must be done with EXTREME caution. The style of music, the fashion trends, the places we go to, the lifestyle we show and live by more often than OFTEN changes us. In a scale of 1-100, it's 99% effective in changing the way of thinking of a young person.

Take my life as an example. I grew up learning classical music, Broadway musicals, church music and those stuff. I hated it. I then turned to Rock and heavy metal music, then to rap and dark poetry. Very appealing. God used the new trend of Praise and Worship music to "lure" me into the ministry, and I got addicted to the music ministry. But wait, had I stayed in the addiction, I would have easily fallen away and did something else in my life.

Music, has a lot that comes with it. The philosophies of the genre (punk is really an against the authority philo, rock is more of an emotion driven music, from where we get emo, Jazz is the enjoy playing and improvisation, freedom, etc, etc. etc. ) Once you learn the songs and get a preference your belief structure would soon conform to the music's structure. Also, fashion and the places these music are linked to become a common downfall of many Christians.

I am a rocker by nature. I have been a part of a metal band, a rock band, and acoustic band, a jazz-rnb band, a hip hop group, and all those music, before I got into classical music, orchestral, and the things old people usually listen to. In a word, I've done it all, been there, done that. My life was strangely preserved against the forces of music because after I got into the ministry, God gave me the commitment that I should worship Him and not the music style. I learned to respect other musical preferences and learned from them also. I was taught to simply listen and get what you need from any kind of music, and use it for God's glory, but God always reminded not to immerse myself in music that does not glorify Him.

Alright, here are the basics. Hairstyle is a little debatable, so the emo hairstyle (though I hate it) I'd go with allowing it if it was in my church. The music, I would say that even though everyone has their own preference, we must learn to WORSHIP GOD not the style of worship music. People often drift to other mental activities if the song style gets too corny for them or offends their taste. We should look at what the song is saying and if it glorifies God, makes a lot of sense, has a reasonably singable melody, has STRONG SCRIPTURAL content, why be bothered by the style?

If we cater too much to the "please me" generation, even our churches would find it hard to "please God". Its really not about us, what pleases the congregation, what is more comfortable, what is more stylish or in trend, these are all marketing strategies. And market caters to customers who are ALWAYS RIGHT. And if we focus on being a business too much, we get to serve the "Comfort" of the people, not their real needs.

Just study it. Statistics often tells us information whether we were effective or not. How many young people did we really effectively share the "CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE" to in our youth catering camps? How many young people really committed to transforming their lifestyles, loved God with all their heart, and become faithful members of a church? If a vast majority is still the same, or even got more confused because we tell them they're saved but they cant reconcile it with the fact that their lives are still unchanged, therefore we're missing the point. But some churches got their plans correctly coz they are effectively reaching their target people. Not 100%, but a lot of them.

Some churches boast of reaching 50,000 souls. I thank God they did share the gospel to those kids. But it should never get to your head, because I tell you not even a thousand faithfully attend their youth gatherings, and are really transformed. What happened to the 49,000? Our church is no different. Possibly, given a big budget, we would also focus on the peripherals too. My prayer is that God would work mightily in the lives of young people, and use people who really care for them and disciple them and be accountable to, and watch them grow as Christians. Numbers are great. But there are only so much you can do to make those numbers really count. Right now, I am focusing on my praise team members. I watch them, take care of them, train them, and ultimately to be better than I am. But I cannot commit to more than that. If my members commit to 3 people too, train them, disciple them, teach them God's ways and watch over them, then I would be confident that our small congregation of 800, would reach more effectively than a 50,000 youth-catering camp.

So, to all Faithful Ones, focus on God. Do the basics. Those marketing stuff are only good for a while, its the basics that count.

Where Have All the Faithful "Once" Gone?

It maybe is a funny thing, but really it makes me smile. I've worked for the Lord for many years now, and "faithfully" accomplished His assignments so far. It doesn't make me a better Christian actually, it never will. And my services to God will never make Him love me more over those who arent faithful. Nope, His favor remains the same...SAME TO EVERYONE. With my point established that Im not a goody-two-shoes, or holier than thou person, or a better Christian, because I know Im a dirty rotten sinner too. BUT, maybe because of the new nature God has given the believer, it makes me hate sin now, and though I get tempted alot, and I admit I desire to wallow in the mud (because its SOOO EASY), but there's the Holy Spirit always tugging at my shirt, reminding me, so0metimes spanking me softly (but sharply) to remind me of what I'm not supposed to do. I am a work in progress. Yes, I am born again, a new creation, but the curse of sin and death still affects me (BUT WILL NEVER HAVE ITS VICTORY OVER ME).

Why am I saying this? I have in my "sinful" mode, have wandered into attractive friends in my friendster account. Attractive-meaning scantily dressed, and provocatively posed. Yes, I admit. I'm no better than the sinner who's reading this! But in my wandering, I noticed that these beautiful ladies were part of our church once. Or some of them, have gone to our youth camps a long time ago, got our numbers and emails, connected with us via friendster, and VOILA! As if they learned nothing at camp. Some of course put in their affiliations "so-and-so" church, listed the Bible and Purpose Driven Life as their favorite Books, loves Christian Music, and all those Christian stuff, but poses almost nude and gives ALL the men a wrong impression of them.
I wonder, where have they gone? What has gone into their minds to make them boldly declare themselves in a fashion the Lord Jesus would be ashamed of? They were in my small group once, as I remember EXPLICITLY reminding them of the dangers of sexual sins, being identified as OF the world, as one of them.

Oooo, I hear the objections already.... even from the faithful ones. "Its alright to look like them, but we're not doing what they do and we don't believe what they believe." Fine. That's a given. You're still in church and you're serving Him faithfully. You say you look and act like them so you could reach them with the gospel. Are you really? But ask yourself, are you paying more attention to how you look as compared to how much time you spend reading God's Word? For me, I ask myself the same questions too. AM I SINGING TO THE LORD TOO MUCH AS OPPOSED TO LISTENING TO HIM THROUGH HIS WORD? I'm in the same category as you are, and I'm preaching to myself, because no one is perfect! BUT THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR ALL OF US TO STOP STRIVING TO BE PERFECT! The King James Version says that "Be Perfect as the Father in heaven is Perfect." In other translations, "Be holy, as the Father in heaven is Holy". But Holy and perfect mean the same thing when it comes to sin and a godly lifestyle.

Here's my point. Why are we confessing we are Christians, when actually we hate to follow Christ? Why do we pick out what's good about Christianity, weed out the "Thou shalt not's", and conform the Bible to our lifestyle instead of us conforming to IT? Why do we shut off God during the week and pay attention (ows?) to Him on a 30min message on Sunday?

I am not a model of perfection. God is. Jesus is. If you look at my life, you might find things you would be wondering why a Christian still has those struggles. BUT I AM NOT PROUD OF IT. I would be ashamed if anyone knew about my secrets, (hmm actually, I have not much, and if I do, I can easily confess them) I constantly battle the evil in me and I pray everyday to God that He would equip me with His armor, that I would be able to stand against the attacks of the enemy, that in all my temptations I would choose the way out provided by God. But I fail. I succeed, I fail again, I win again. Sometimes I fail more, sometimes I win more. But I FIGHT.

I speak as though I am strong, no. Do not look upon me as a pillar, for when I fail, you might stumble too. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

It makes me smile...
but in my heart i cry.

As i discover where my old friends in the faith have gone, I cry.

Why aren't you fighting anymore? Is the blood of Jesus not enough for your reward? Has life's struggles overcome your faith? Why aren't you fighting anymore? Is Jesus' name worth living for for you? Why aren't you fighting?

Where have all the faithful "once" gone?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Grave Cannot Silence My Mom's Praise

This is my own few words for mama. I took the time to write them out to be more organized, but I didn't expect that my short "speech" would be a stand up comic act!

Here's my sister Frances' short talk:

my other sister Jacqui:

My brother's and my Dad's will be uploaded on the next entry. Truly, my mom left a legacy of hope and joy only a true Christian woman could leave her family. Let her children call her "blessed!".

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Time and Another Place

My mom passed away last September 27, 2008 and I have lost the words to describe how deep both our loss and our joy at her passing. I loved this song by Sandy Patty and Wayne Watson, and ever since the day I heard it, years before my mom's passing, I loved how the song describes the writer's longing for home...heaven. Where all his hopes and dreams here on earth would at last be captured, and even more, with just
one look at Jesus face. How I longed for that time too. Over and over I cried just singing and listening to that song.... and then my mom died.

Another Time and Another Place

I've always heard there is a land
Beyond the mortal dreams of man
Where every tear will be left behind
But it must be in another time

There'll be an everlasting light
Shining a purest holy white
And every fear will be erased
But it must be in another place

So, I'm waiting for another time and another place
Where all my hopes and dreams will be captured
With one look at Jesus' face
Oh, my heart's been burnin'
My soul keeps yearnin'
Sometimes I can't hardly wait
For that sweet, sweet someday
When I'll be swept away
To another time and another place

I've grown so tired of earthly things
They promise peace but furnish pain
All of life's sweetest joys combined
Could never match those in another time

And though I've put my trust in Christ
And felt His Spirit move in my life
I know it's truly just a taste
Of His glory in another place

So, I'm waiting for another time and another place
Where all my hopes and dreams will be captured
With one look at Jesus' face
Oh, my heart's been burnin'
My soul keeps yearnin'
Sometimes I can't hardly wait
For that sweet, sweet someday
When I'll be swept away
To another time and another place

Indeed, for many of us the day God takes our life is a dreaded one. It is normal I suppose, for like someone taking his final exam, one gets to be nervous how he'll get through with it. And death is like that, it is the final experience one has to go through before seeing God and going to heaven. Its one of these two: either He comes back to take us in rapture, or we go home to Him in death. Both are good things really. Specially the confidence you have when you know you prepared for that final exam very well. And its a comfort to others when they know you prepared for it as well. There's this certainty that you passed, an absolutely-no-questions-asked attitude only a true believer can possess.

The song described that "dreaded" day of death as "sweet, sweet someday, when I'll be swept away to another time and another place." For my mom, Saturday, September 27, at 3pm... it was a sweet, sweet day...when my mom was swept away, to that other time, and that other place...

...I'll surely miss you Ma, but I'll see you again. I'll see you again.

tamperproof worshipper

tamperproof worshipper
rock it for Jesus