In Deed and In Truth

thoughts from a Christian

My Pride

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with is comparing myself to others who have walked the same road that I have.  There are many people whom I admire and respect, those who have accomplished so many things, accomplishments that I hope to achieve some day, achievements that I can’t seem to wait to lay a hold of.

Then there are individuals who are walking the same path that I am currently.  It’s a hard-fought battle for me, not to see them as competition or adversaries, but rather teammates and comrades.  It’s a feeling of one-upmanship, being pushed to be greater, to do better, to do more than the next person.  In a capitalistic American society, this is the right mind-set, but in the area of ministry, one can be considered delusional.

It was the apostle John that stated “He must increase but I must decrease.”  How absolutely necessary when speaking about our Savior and apropo when talking about our peers.

In my mind, I use Proverbs 27:17 as a quasi-justification for my emotions: “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  My friends, my peers, those I look up to, are used to sharpen my countenance, therefore I must do the same.  I must be an iron to them to help sharpen their countenance.

But this in turn transforms into a challenge, a competition, a desire to “beat” and “win.”  It no longer becomes a humble ministry, but rather a prideful contest.

I can do more.  I can influence more people.  I can be more popular.  I can win.  I will win.

What sad state of affairs when this mentality has infiltrated my character.  I loathe myself because of it.  And it is not something that I can simply set aside.  I’ve been working so hard at it.  Everytime I see someone I love accomplish something great for the Lord, I hate that my first gut reaction is to ask myself “How can I top that?  How can I do better than him?”

This is all for the Lord.  And one of my greatest weaknesses is to assume otherwise due to the pride of life that has permeated throughout my thinking and my heart’s direction.  It is James that reminds me not to boast in my tomorrow, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ (James 4:15)

Unfortunately, I have “boast[ed] in [my] arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.”  (James 4:16)  My pride is but one of the thorns of my flesh.  It is this relocation to the Philippines that I hope my pride will be set aside in place of humility.  “For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Prov. 3:34)

To my friends who walk this journey with me, in sincerity, humility, and love, your progress and achievements inspire me to do more but to be LESS.  Though I may not have voiced it to you, I ask that you forgive me for challenging you, and placing myself in a position to try and supercede you in my superficial, fictional contest of ministry.  Please pray for and teach me how to be more humble, to approach ministry and friendship the way you have with me; with genuineness and a fervor to simply serve the Lord out of obedience, not acclaim, prestige or rewards.

My delusional idea of a competitive ministry has brought me to the edge of my cliff.  It’ll be my pride, or lack thereof, that decides whether or not I take another step.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! – James 4:8

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October 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Autumn Reflection

Autumn Reflection 2

I suppose it’s time for some reflection.  It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything on In Deed In Truth and it’s not for lack of content.  I’d even hate to pawn it off on lack of time.  But reality is reality.  Can’t fake the funk.

It has been a ridiculously insane 2 months.  The beginning of autumn was a progressive, forward thinking, looking toward new and exciting developments, time of the year.  On August 7, 2009, we welcomed our second daughter into the world.  The last 3 months has been filled with diapers, wipes, breast milk, screaming newborns, screaming older sisters, and not nearly enough time to cultivate and nurture the marriage between a husband and wife.  Up’s and downs.  In’s and Outs.  Kriss and Kross… don’t it make you wanna jump, jump.

Not only did the Lord give me another beautiful baby daughte, but my secular full time job maintains its consistent demands as well as the church in Pasadena, CA.  Unfortunately, many things had to take a back seat and the last 6 months has forced me to prioritize big time.

I’ve tried to maintain the level of activity with Events For Christ, but my family, church, and work has demanded more of my time and attention.  As much as I wanted to keep EFC going and growing, it was just far too difficult.  But things are starting to slow down and get into a nice rhythm.  EFC seems to be back on my radar and I can’t be more excited.  Thank you to all those who continue to encourage us with your support for Events For Christ

Not only is EFC back on my radar, but a brand new ministry movement has pushed itself to the front of the line.  The Road to Peace is a new ministry that the Lord has placed on my heart and I’ve obliged to undertake.  Starting with a rally this month, a conference in January, videos, pictures, books, t-shirts, sponsorships, collaborations, and the sort spewed about, needless to say, not much else has found its way into my schedule.  I have a team of 4 individuals with another 4 consultants.  It’s God’s providence that He doesn’t allow me to feel how big this may get.  We are the US division.  We already have a South African contingent.  Sometime in 2010, we’re hoping to be able to travel internationally and bring this movement overseas.  (We’re looking into penetrating the Philippine market starting in 2010 as well.)  Big ideas.  An even bigger God.

Speaking of the Philippines, a little birdie told me that there’s a need for my presence in Forest Hills, Cebu City, where the main organizational ministry is located.  As vice-chairman of EL International Church Inc, it’s important for me to be in the midst of all the goings on of EL International.  Lord willing, we’ll be opening our elementary school next year, continuing the construction of the building, attending to the details of the library, and adding more components to the computer lab.  Not to mention the 7 additional congregations that are currently planted.  There’s a congregation in Valenzuela city, PI that is still without a pastor but diligently worships and serves weekly.

As busy as I think I am here in the US, I know that things are 100 times more arduous and hectic in Pinas.  It helps me keep things in perspective.

My older sister warned me earlier this week of the work load that I’m carrying.  From her viewpoint, being the sole provider of my family and carrying everything else is unhealthy and hazardous to my heart.  A myocardial infarction might be in my future.  I pray that it’s not.

All in all, as busy as my days, nights, weeks, and weekends may be… as overwhelmed as I may potentially feel, I’m having fun.  I’m doing what I love to do, which is serve the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  I don’t feel like I’m wasting any of my talents and gifts because I’m just focusing on giving it back to Him.  It brings joy to my heart.

And as long as my daughters rush to the door every time they hear me and usher me into my home with open arms and wide smiles, welcomed to a family based on love and support, God’s goodness is revealed to me every single day.

And I challenge God…Can it really get any better?

(Picture taken October 2009, Keilah Naomi at Finkbiner Park in Glendora, CA)

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Autographs Please

No Autographs Please

A while back, I remember having a conversation with someone at an event.  Our conversation was going quite well and we were discussing many issues of the ministry.  Mid sentence, he stopped me from talking and asked me if I could take a picture of him and the speaker for the evening, that had just so happened to be within proximity of where we were.  At that moment, our conversation ceased as his conversation with the other person began.

What am I to think?  Obviously what I was saying wasn’t nearly as interesting as what he could be talking about with the other person.  In retrospect, the look on his face as I was speaking made it look like he had mentally checked out and was just looking for an opportunity to ask me to take this famous photograph.

I can’t fault him for his actions.  If you want to talk to somebody, then you want to talk to somebody.  I just hope that I’m never the cause of a cancelled conversation.

Coming in a day and age where there is so much exposure, self made, man made with an ease of publicity, anybody at any time can become popular on many levels.  Want to show your face?  Youtube it is.  Got something to say.  Podcast.  Afraid of exposing your face or voice?  Get a blog.  Anybody, anywhere can come out of nowhere and rise to prominence and fame.  (Daniel’s little horn anyone?)

But just as everybody is going in one direction, hoping for that recognition, I’ve been spending the last few years, trying to stay away from the pull of popularity.  (Even at this moment, this blog is read only by my family and a few friends.  Though this entry may make me seem hypocritical, I assure you, my intent for this blog is not for popularity.  In due time, it will be a vehicle meant for more theological, educational purposes).

As carnal human beings, there are insecurities that lie in wait.  When others begin to feed our insecurities, the more we crave it.  When others shower us with praise and push us toward celebrity status, it’s hard to remain humble.  The enemy takes hold of any opening, and we begin down a slippery slope.

As a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, we should all be defined by service.  I work, do the things I do, sacrifice, and toil because I want to serve.  I want to serve because I was bought at a price.  I want to serve because greater love has no man than this, than a man serve (lay down his life for) his friends.  I need to serve… because Christ served me by dying for me.  This act of service shouldn’t be done with attaining worldy rewards in mind.

Other pastors, preachers, teachers, speakers, evangelists, theologians, and clergy leaders may love the attention, crave it, and possibly handle it better than I could.  Kudos to them.  However, let’s not be mistaken.  I’m not saying that ALL attention is bad.  I just don’t want any additional attention that might tempt me to think of myself as anything more than a servant of God.

I’m not walking that path.  Give me the path less travelled by.  Let me walk the road marred by sacrifice and tears.  Let me trod the trail that evidences no sign of celebrity compromise, blinded by the flash of photography.

And let me walk it with Christ leading me.

Picture taken from http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/paparazzi.jpg

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Am I Good Enough?

disappointed

One of the biggest struggles for me is the thought that I haven’t done enough.  Somewhere between my underachieving adolescent high school days and now, I’ve developed into some sort of type-A, insanely active, must-get-things-done-for-the-sake-of-remaining-productive creature of conditioned, ministerial habit.  How and when did it change?  I have no clue.  You can ask my sisters about what their brother was like and how listless and stubborn I was growing up.

But now, I can’t seem to do enough.  And, as we all know, the harshest critics always tend to be ourselves.  I come down on myself harder than anybody else.  This is why I feel I can take people’s criticism and expectations because how I scrutinize myself and what I expect out of what I can do far exceeds anybody else.

But therein is the problem.  When I fall short of what I feel was a necessary effort, I come down on myself.  Hard.  I become disappointed, ashamed, guilty, and convicted of what I did or didn’t do.

Especially when it comes to the Lord’s work.

When I analyze my work and my effort, in retrospect, during some cases I become disappointed in my preparation, my organization, my time management, my work ethic in getting ready for a moment where I can share God’s Word, show God’s love, or be a character witness to others that Jesus Christ is real and that He died for each and every one of us.  When I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, it eats me alive inside.  It forces me to reconsider my character, my mind set, my schedule, my focus, my priorities in order to give to Him and to others what they rightfully deserve: a full hearted effort of love, time, attention, and all my ability to serve.

This leads to extreme peaks and valleys.  I crash, hit rock bottom, disgusted at myself for not giving more in service to God and to others.  I wonder… Am I good enough?

When I was 15 years old, I remember walking around after work (yes I was working at that age.. 14 to be exact) and looking up at the sky.  I spoke out, praying to God, asking why me?  Why has He placed this burden of His ministry on my heart?  What is it about me that had Him set me apart from my friends and others my age?

I remember asking Him to just let me go.  God, please just let me fail.  Just leave me alone to live a life without the pressure that I currently feel.  I’m not the person you want.  I’m not the person you need.  I’m not good enough.

But I’m reminded of 1 John 3:20 that “If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.”  When that little voice in my ear begins to make me doubt my status as a child of God, as His loved one, as someone whom God deemed important enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, I just remind myself that even when my own heart condemns me, God is greater than that.

And as far as me being good enough?  I’ll just tell you what God reminded me in His Word:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Picture taken from http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/disappointed.jpg

August 18, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pray For Me

Pray For Me

I was listening to the radio and I heard something that was interesting, convicting, and revealing all at the same time.  It made me sit up and think if I was guilty of what the pastor on the other side of the radio was claiming.  If so, I definitely needed to think about my position, my character, and my intentions and consider that I may need to make changes.

To paraphrase, the statement made was that whenever a person prays, or comes to prayer, it is mainly with them in mind.  It is a prayer about “me.”

I sat and thought about this statement.  But after considering my own actions, I mainly concur with his claim.  When I come to prayer, it will normally start off with petitions on my behalf.  “Lord, please give me strength.  Lord please provide for my needs.  Please answer my prayers.  Please Lord, I need hope and patience.  Please Lord, I need, I want, I request, if in accordance to Your will, let it happen.”

Yes, we are absolutely needy people and in no way am I telling people not to pray to God for our own needs and petitions, but we cannot forget to emphasize a prayer based on others.  We must be thoughtful and considerate of others when it comes to our prayer time.  To pray for another person’s needs.  To pray for somebody else’s well being.  To pray for somebody else’s relationship with God.

Let’s think about it.  When we come to a realization that we need to go to prayer at some random, spur of the moment time during the day, is it because we are thinking about somebody that has a need or because we encountered a situation where we need to rely upon God’s strength and ask for His mercy and grace to be bestowed upon us personally?

If we truly obey God’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39) then should we not give precedence to our brethren when it comes to prayer?  Should we not be considerate when we are given the blessing to come before God and boldly approach His throne of grace that at that moment, we should consider others when considering ourselves?

Maybe I’m in the small majority that carries this mindset.  If so, it’s a change in my thinking that led to this frame of mind when it comes to prayer:

Is it our first instinct to pray for others?  Or for ourselves?

Picture taken from http://ckpj.com/Projects/Youth%20Faith/Youth%20Faith%20Photos/Faith_01_web.jpg

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jaelyn Audrey Lacanilao

Jaelyn Audrey Lacanilao

On Friday, August 7, 2009 At 2:02pm, our second daughter, Jaelyn Audrey was welcomed into the world.  I can’t even described how wonderfully awesome it is to see Jaelyn come into this world.  She now joins her big sister, Keilah Naomi as an addition to the Lacanilao family.

In so many ways, I cannot imagine or even start to understand the strength that my wife carries.  To endure what she’s endured brings such a level of humility, a feeling that I don’t deserve anything from her for what she puts herself through, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  To my wife as well as every woman who has endured the labor of child birth.  Thank you…

Compared to last year, when I was waiting on the birth of our first daughter, I sensed a bit more joy during this birth.  Not because I love Jaelyn more than Keilah.  Not at all!  It’s because last year, I was more overcome by a feeling of anxiety, worry, concern, and the unknown.  I didn’t know what to expect when Keilah was born because I had never been a father.  I even felt apprehensive when leaving the hospital.  (They do EVERYTHING for you… we were being pampered!  And we weren’t alone.)  I knew that once we got home, it would just be Gina and I.

But with Jaelyn, I knew what to expect and I knew that we could handle the first few months of dealing with an infant.  We’re not that far removed from the 2 hour wake up/feedings and the jars and jars of Similac.  It’s no longer an unknown.

So instead of the anxiety, worry, and concern, I could just focus on the fact that my daughter was finally here… And how great that made me feel!

Gina is doing well.  Jaelyn is healthy.  Keilah is sitting on dad’s lap as he is writing this.  The Lacanilao family is doing well.

Thank you for your prayers and endless support.  The overwhelming sense of grace and the expedite, safe, and unhindered delivery of Jaelyn, I am confident, are due to the all of your petitions to the Lord on our behalf.

Thank you..Thank you.. Thank you..

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Me… Unplugged

screaming-baby

Am I intense?  Sure.  Passionate?  Definitely.  Depending on who you ask, maybe even borderline maniacal.  That’s one of the most difficult things I have to overcome, the understanding that not everyone is going to be as gung-ho about any idea as I am.  Too often I’ve pushed the limits, and by pushing the limits, I’ve pushed people away.

I’ve been called overly ambitious, told to slow down, forced to focus on one idea and one goal at a time.  I’ve been doubted many times.  Perhaps that’s the reason why I carry this boulder of chip on my shoulder.  To prove them wrong?  Possibly.  To prove to myself.  Most likely.

But the single greatest reason why I strive to do more and get as much out of my talents, time, effort, and abilities?  Devoting any of that to anything else would be completely in vain.  1 year ago, I came to a decision that I’m going to give all of myself to the ministry (after giving priority to my family first, which is also something I still battle with).

Nevertheless, I went down the path of corporate America and on the verge of climbing a couple rungs of the ladder, I stepped down.  I pursued the road of starting my own business, and on the cusp of expansion, growth, and profit I chose the road less travelled by.

But the church.  Ministry has always been a permanent facet of my life.  Nothing else fit as perfectly as that.  Nothing felt more natural, gratifying, and humbling than the journey with my Lord.

Maybe people want me to slow down.  Maybe people are turned off by my intensity and seemingly aggressive ambition.  Maybe people feel threatened, find me as competition.  Maybe people question my integrity, sincerity, or purpose.  Maybe people find me hypocritical.  Maybe people are offended by how I operate.

For any of that, I’m sorry.  I’ll work on it.  I promise I will.  Just tell me how I’ve offended you and in all humility, I will make amends.  I promise.  I’m still working, always working on becoming a better man.

But as far as slowing down, lowering my intensity, or turning my attention elsewhere, I’d be hard pressed to apologize for that.  Sorry, but that’s not how I operate.

My only concern is that my family still loves me, my wife still supports my cause, and my daughters are still proud of me.  If what I’m doing enables all that to happen, then I only have one more person to please.

And all I want to hear from Him is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

(Pic taken from http://in-this-economy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/screaming-baby.bmp)

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Darkness of Mankind

Candleburning

In preparation for PCC’s youth camp, I’m in the process of trying to convey the seriousness of the darkness of mankind and how to present it both intelligently and practically to, a rather mature youth group, who from what I’ve experienced so far, have made it a point not to conform to this world (Romans 12:2)

However, the darkness of mankind cannot be understated.  At one point, all of us were condemned and headed toward hell, judgment and punishment for our unrighteousness and iniquity.  The standards of righteousness and the definition of sin will always be debated, but if you base it on the absolute, universal truth of the Word of God, then there can be no argument.

Righteousness and sin cannot be subjective.  If it were, then God cannot be defined as just because then He would have to judge each person in accordance to their own understanding and definition of righteousness, thus not allowing Him to be objective.  We are to be judged in accordance to God’s standards, and because of that we all fall short.  (Romans 3:23)

I was talking with a friend (also in the ministry) who told me a story of how one of his youth told him that he thinks it’s ok to look at pornography because everybody else is doing it.  Is that our current mindset?  If so, then what about the person doing drugs because it’s the “in” thing to do or the rapist who harbors insecurities, or the shooter who walks into a school and kills everyone who ridiculed him for looking different?  Are they all justified in their actions because their scruples are on a case by case basis?

Or the family who sits in the back row of the church because it’s what “they’re supposed to do on Sundays,” goes home to a nice dinner in their 4 bedroom 2 ½ bath house in the valley.  They’re never in the public spotlight, never for anything good or anything bad.  Their children graduate from school, finish the graduate program, get a job, raise kids, who then perpetuate the cycle by becoming good, outstanding citizens of the community.

But never realizes the need for Christ in their life.  Whose more unrighteous then?

I’m just saying… Everybody looks the same in the dark.

(Pic taken from http://www.thecandlestick.org/)

August 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Excerpt… “Ask”

Taken from our current series of messages from 1 John.

Excerpt-Ask-prayer 

1 John 3:22- “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”  August 2, 2009

The Greek word for “ask” is alteo.  It means to “request or beg.”[1]  The context is that of an inferior asking from a superior.  This is evident of our relationship with God.  It is unfortunate that many people will pray and command things of God.  Prayer is always a petition.  A petitioner never has the authority or the grounds to demand or command from the person they are petitioning.  Contrary to how it may be interpreted in Isaiah 45:11- “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”  In light of the context, which includes verses 9-10, verse 11 should really be a question as opposed to a statement.

It’s unfortunate that many people have the audacity to command things from God, actually believing that they have the authority to demand things from the God of this universe.  As Isaiah 45:9-10 states, “Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, what makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?  Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou?  or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?”

Whenever we approach the throne of grace, it should always be with the intent of a petition or a request.  We must humble ourselves, understanding that at one point even our prayers were an abomination (Prov. 28:9)  If ever we believe that we have the position or permission to demand things from God, under the premise that we have the authority to do so, we can remember the response that Job received from God when his self-righteousness got the best of him:

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements?  Surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laids its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:5-7)

God’s responses to Job continues for another 68 verses.  Once in his place, Job answers God:

 “Behold, I am vile.  What shall I answer you?”  (Job 40:4)

We must ask, with humility, that above all else, God’s will to be done.  If we ever approach God in prayer with selfish ambitions exuding with carnal confidence that God will answer whatever we specifically ask for because we demand it as His children, then rest assured, we will one day have to answer for our pride and self-righteousness with the same response that Job gave.

(Pic taken from http://www.sasspc.bc.ca/files/sasspc/prayer.jpg)

 


[1] Zodhiates Key Word Study Bible 1684

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment