Monthly Archives: June 2014

Got Answers? Delighting Grace Interviews Jun Ballesteros 

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It’s such a great joy to review a Pinoy Christian book. Not only does it tell you that the Philippine Christian literature scene is still alive and well, but it is something we can be proud about. That’s why Delighting Grace is helping local books and author to have a voice in the local market. One of which is the bestseller “Mga Mahahalagang Tanong At Mga Sagot (Important Questions and Answers” by Ptr. Jun Ballesteros. I contacted Ptr. Ballesteros and ask for an interview covering apologetics and of course his book.

Delighting Grace: Pastor Jun, in the scale of 1-10, how would you rate Pinoy Christians in terms of their knowledge with apologetics, how they incorporate in their ministry and church; and why?

Jun Ballesteros: I think it a 2, but I could be wrong. I say this because most of the apologists I know of are those who’ve gone through rigid training at seminaries or bible schools such as pastors and missionaries. These institutions have almost always been the only venue for equipping Christ’s disciples in this area of apologetics. It’s a must that we make churches “little” seminaries and train them how to hold on to sound doctrines and be able to defend their faith especially these days when the onslaught of false teachers is at its height, 2 John 1:7; 1 John 4:1.

Delighting Grace: How important is apologetics to a Christian? Many believers will dismiss that it will only harbor debates. Is that true?

Jun Ballesteros: It is not necessarily true. Sure, apologetics is very important. All believers in Christ should stand firm and be able to contend earnestly for the faith, Jude 3. Knowing the Bible’s sound doctrine does not encourage debates. It will make Christians to be always ready to give an answer to anyone, 1 Peter 3:15 and all true Christians should! However, to debate is a choice. Any Christian may choose not to in obedience to Paul’s admonition in II Tim. 2:14, 24. Our goal is to win as many souls as we can to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, not engage in debates. We are supposed to win friends, not arguments.

Delighting Grace: Its been said that sometimes asking questions means that you are an eager learner. So how can Christians profit from asking questions especially in matters of apologetics?

Jun Ballesteros: Asking questions and getting answers from right people can deepen knowledge and strengthen commitment; it broadens biblical perspective and it would also boost up faith and conviction.  When Christians have achieved this depth, width and height as people of the Word, they are ready for anything. Thus, they don’t waiver easily nor be swayed by any false teachings.

Delighting GraceWhere did you get the idea in writing a book like this? Can you elaborate the process of producing this bestseller?

Jun Ballesteros: As a church planting missionary some years ago, I knew I would not stay long in the island of Mindoro. One day I gathered a bunch of leaders for a seminar on Hermeneutics, Ecclesiology, Homiletics, Eschatology and other subjects. Just before the final session was closed, most of them raised a real concern, “What if we’re confronted with tough questions and objections, what should we do?” I remember saying, “Don’t worry, I will prepare some ready materials.”

As promised, l prepared a type-written material which contains common questions which I myself had encountered in some years of ministry. In this hand-out with several pages back then, I knew I provided them the same answers which I used to give to honest seekers, scoffers and narrow-minded objectors as well. Then I realized that what I did was not just giving the head-knowledge or the push and drive they needed. Then I handed to them this material several days I made that promise. I was able to give them a tool: an Easy Reference and a Ready Defence!

So they went forth and led Bible Studies without fear, ready at all times. As a matter of fact, some of them even had spearheaded several church planting ventures. Hence, this book was originally written for Christian leaders and workers who haven’t been through a formal training in Seminary or Bible School.  When my manuscript was used in a publication called, The Life Times Magazine, it was always a sought-after article. The Life Times Magazine editorial committee, which was headed by Brother Ric Avelino, Diony Espiritu, Gerry Oliveros among others, encouraged me to publish it as a book. So, in 1997 the first 1,000 copies were printed and copyrighted the following year.

Delighting Grace: As a writer what are the lessons you have learn while producing this great book?

Jun Ballesteros: I have learned that there are a lot more to learn to be able to help others learn as well! No one can give away what he does not have. Also, equipping Christians does not only mean providing the head-knowledge, the grip and the drive. It should also include a ready arm: a quick reference to the Bible’s sound doctrines.

Delighting Grace: As I check your book, there are lots of positive feedback, praises and stories from people who read it. So which is the most notable and really touched your heart?

Jun Ballesteros: Every feedback given is notable and touched my heart! To know that the Lord is using a very simple work gives me an awe-inspiring feeling! I am giving the glory back to our Lord God who gave me wisdom and the burden to write. I praise Him because this material, although it was originally written for Christian leaders and workers is also now leading the lost to come face-to-face with the Truth and that is Jesus Christ who is also the Way and Life (John 14:6).

Delighting Grace: How do you handle your critics especially when presenting the truth? What is the proper response of a Christian like if they see something on the internet that attacks their core beliefs?

Jun Ballesteros: God has gifted our country much freedom and we live in a democratic government where anyone can express his or her ideas. I have presented in print what I believe is true, by this same token, thus anyone has the right to prove it otherwise. Incidentally, let me mention that I didn’t have any iota of assault in mind against any religion when I wrote this book.  I just gave answers to questions which I myself had encountered in my years of ministry and put them altogether so others could also them as they are confronted.

Delighting Grace: Pastor Jun thank you for your time. Its a pleasure chatting with you. So tell our readers why they should get your book  “Mga Mahahalagang Tanong At Mga Sagot”.

Again, this book was not written for you my co-pastors and co-missionaries who have graduated from seminaries and Bible schools.  However, since all God’s children are and should always be at the cutting-edge leading lost people to Christ through cell-groups, they must be equipped and armed with this apologetic tool, Christians’ Easy Reference and a Ready Defence. This is the very reason why each of them ought to have a copy of this book. I am not surprised if some pastors, like Bishop John Sagaoinit of World Changers International, require or much less encourage their cell leaders and other workers to own a copy of this book. Amen!

Delighting Grace: Any parting words to people who already read the book? How can they maximize the use of this helpful tool?

Jun Ballesteros: Thanks to all for reading this book. Please help others to obtain a copy in its original book form and not the photocopy.  Let us remind them the Christian virtue of honesty and not the art of perjury though intellectual piracy.  The only way to maximize the use of this tool is for lay-workers to utilize it in the context of reaching people to Christ and providing answers to sincere queries on faith. Also, it is useful for their personal growth, increasing biblical knowledge and deepening conviction.

Ptr Jun’s book “Mga Mahahalagang Tanong At Mga Sagot” is translated in Filipino, Cebuano and English. The book is available at your nearest CLC Bookshops, PCBS, National Bookstore or online at http://www.clcphilippines.com

Book Review: A Better Way To Think by H Norman Wright

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Receiving the review copy of this book from CLC Philippines, it reminds me of a message of one of our preacher last prayer meeting. He points out that God is a God of second chances and He has given us a chance to change our wrong mindset, change our attitudes and do the right thing. The message convicted me and I think this book by H. Norman Wright might assist me to dig more on it.

This is not just a “think positive” book but a book that will challenge you to take control of your self-talk or thought life under the Word of God. No self help stuff. No new age teaching. Just a book that will lead you to biblical principles. I have to check it twice and see some chapters I think will give deliver some unbiblical methods. The good news it doesnt have one.

Aside from a study guide in every chapter, this book has a sort of workbook thing, it was questions that you need to answer on the blank portions. This book will make you ponder and indeed move you to the next level of relinquishing those negative thoughts.

As any Christian book, let use it as a guide to go rely more on God’s Word. Knowing that this book aims to push you to the Bible, may it be use prayerfully and carefully.

“15 Days/15 Books” Book Campaign

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In celebration of National Children’s Book Day this coming July 15, Delighting Grace blog launches its “15 Days/15 Books” book campaign. Beginning on July 1st till the 15th, Delighting Grace will post everyday, short book reviews of children’s books published by Hiyas, an imprint of OMF Lit. The book reviews also carries a gospel message to reach out for those who hasn’t come to Christ. “15 Days/15 Books” aims to promote children’s book, advocate literacy and share the gospel of Christ as the supreme hope and joy of everyone.

Offline, Delighting Grace with support of its church, Good Shepherd Baptist Mission San Pascual Batangas will donate Christian children’s books on July 15 in a day care center in the San Pascual area. The program will include a storytelling portion for children which is also evangelistic. You can read the book reviews and updates of the campaign at http://delighting.wordpress.com. Please uphold this program in prayer. God bless all of you for supporting this program.

All Covered Up: Delighting Grace Interviews Nixon Na 

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I know you’ll consider me predictable because the topic of this interview is book covers and inevitably, I’ll mention the quote “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. Well you can judge a literal book by its cover, because Nixon Na, OMF Lit’s Art Director, points out that it tells what the book is all about. That and more will be discuss in this interview. Also as a bonus, we will get to have a sneak peek on his comicbook projects. Sweet….

Delighting Grace: How important is a good cover for a book? What do you think is the impact of it to the reader?

Nixon Na: In the book industry, where your first sales pitch is your cover, the cover should capture the interest of the book’s intended market in the first 3 to 5 seconds. In those few seconds a good book cover must say:
1. What the book is about
2. Who is the intended reader, and
3. “BUY ME!”

Delighting Grace: I think readers might have noticed this, why does the local edition and international or US edition of the same book have a different cover? Why do you have to come up with a Pinoy version when it already has one?

Nixon Na:Sometimes it has to do with licensing but most of the time it’s a marketing issue. The original cover may not work locally or the cover design is outdated. In these cases, our Marketing department along with the Editorial department recommend a “facelift.”

Here are some examples of re-covers I’ve done.

Saving My First Kiss by Liza Velthouse

Philippine Version

International Version

This is a good example where the original cover may not have worked well in the local market since the image of confetti is not something many Filipinos are familiar with.

Other times it becomes more of a “packaging” concern. In the case of Hearing God by Dallas Willard, by changing the cover OMF Lit was able to reach a younger and wider range of audience.

Philippine Version

International Version

Desiring God’s Will by David G. Benner is an example where giving it a “facelift” would help to increase sales of the product.

 

 

Philippine Version

International Version

Delighting Grace: Those are great examples of re-covers, Nixon.Please tell us the process involved in creating book covers for OMF Lit.

Nixon Na:To start, I will need some key information about the book. First is the book title, this may sound insignificant but knowing the title is important because it determines the type of image I will choose for the cover.

Sometimes, the artists are assigned to start conceptualizing the design but the book only has a working title, the title is not yet finalized. So you really can’t fully design the cover yet.

Second is the primary target audience. This info will help me choose the design style or design approach that is best suited for the project. Third and last is the author’s writing style. Knowing the “writer’s voice” serves as a guide on how I should make the design. Will it look whimsical? Serious? Academic? etc.

Once I have all of these information I then start researching (for photos, texture, fonts, other design elements). When I can’t find the right stock photo or image, sometimes I take the photos or illustrate the image. I then make thumbnail sketches of the design and then lay-out the design in Photoshop. Usually, I make three cover studies. The covers are presented to the covers committee. When the committee has chosen the most suitable cover study, I then finalize the design.

Delighting Grace: Say for example, OMF Lit wants you to do a local cover for Joshua Harris’s bestselling book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” which has this iconic cover, what will your cover be like?

Nixon Na: HAHAHA! You put me on the spot here.
I would have to consider that the original cover is already iconic, and we are just giving it a facelift for the present-day audience. I guess my three studies will look like this:

Study One: Photo of a guy with the same iconic pose and image cropped similarly. The guy will still have the same kind of hat but I’d loosen the stiffness of the suit in the original cover and have the guy  wear a simple long-sleeved shirt. I’ll stick to the same fonts used in the original cover.

Study Two: Again photo of a guy with the same iconic pose and image cropped similarly. But this time he’ll be wearing a cap and a T-shirt. Since this cover design is a bit more modern looking, I’ll typeset the title similar to how the title of Boy Meets Girl was typeset.

Study Three : Hmm…. I guess I’ll “cheat” and combine the image from study# 2 with the font treatment from study# 1 and make it monochromatic to make it look closer to the original cover, Hahaha! Paano, on the spot kasi eh :p

Delighting Grace: Hehehe. For you, what makes the best book design or cover?

Nixon Na: To answer this question, I’ll put myself in the position of a would-be buyer. For me, a book design has done its job well when it captures my attention and speaks me even if I’m eight feet away from it. If by simply looking at it I can already tell the tone of the author’s voice, then it’s a good design. And of course my best gauge for an effective book design is when the cover makes me want to buy the book even if I have no plans of reading it. Heaven knows I’ve done this more than a few times already, but the good thing is I’ve discovered some excellent writers this way.

Delighting Grace: Nixon you also illustrate comic books. How did you get into this kind of work?

Nixon Na:Illustrating comics is something I’ve always wanted to try ever since I was in high school. But not having the skills to write a story, I knew I would have to rely on a writer to be able to produce a comic book. I didn’t have many writer friends then. But when I started working at OMF Lit, I was blessed to meet Ian Magallona, who’s an editor. Through him, I met Emil Flores, one of the founders of Polyhedron Comics, who is a writer. Also through Ian, I met his best friend, writer-illustrator Robert Magnuson. Long story cut short, things clicked between me and these guys and so then I started illustrating comics with Polyhedron.

Delighting Grace: You’re working on your on solo project. I read somewhere you’re a bit hesitant with doing it on your own. Can you tell us more about it?

Nixon Na: I finished working on “CADRE: First-Born Sons” in November of 2011. In March 2012, by God’s grace, I was in C.B. Cebulski’s list of potential artists to work for Marvel Comics. So I was on a high! But there were no new stories for me to illustrate under Polyhedron. With no writer to partner with, I realize, I’m pretty much stuck with drawing pin-ups. By this time, I’ve also been designing book covers with OMF Lit for more than 10 years.

I soon started feeling dry creatively. I felt edgy. Then came a low point in my life which I prefer not to  discuss for now. Sensing how I felt, Robert encouraged me to write my own story.

With low grades in my English subjects, I’ve never considered myself a writer. So yes, I was very hesitant. But with Robert constantly encouraging me, and later on, Emil giving me his insights, I felt a little more confident to write a story. Best of all, my wife, Joan, who’s an editor (she’s also Robert’s editor), read my draft and told me I should pursue the story. So that’s how this solo project started. Now, I just pray that I can finish the first issue before the year ends.

Delighting Grace: Thats something to look forward too. So Nixon to wrap this interview up, please tell our readers to check out  your comic books. Do you have Facebook and other social media outlets so fans can connect with you?

Nixon Na: Yes, thank you for asking.  I illustrated Ulupong ng Morong, which can be found in the anthology titled, Triple Punch Komiks. Also look for CADRE: First-Born Sons. Both of these stories were written by Ian Val Magallona and published under Polyhedron Comics. I also illustrated a short story by Jordan Santos titled New Digs, which you can see on my Deviant Art account:  caswallon.deviantart.com. Also you can find me on Facebook: Nixon Na Art.

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something introvert whose passion is to proclaim the good news about God. He wears many hats but he is just an ordinary guy serving an extraordinary God. You can reach him at his FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Book Review: Controlling Your Anger Before It Controls You by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD

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Anger may trigger the Incredible Hulk to have his power, but the effects of it leaves everything in the rubble. We might not be the Incredible Hulk, nevertheless we know how anger has devastating effects. CLC Philippines fresh serving titled “Controlling Your Anger Before It Controls You” gets you in the heart of the matter.

The book first introduces us that anger is God-given. But due to sin like all other emotions, we allocate anger in the wrong way that brings ungodly results.

This is not a run-of-the-mill anger management book but a book that you’ll love on a subject that needs to be addressed. Anger in this book is presented not just a visible war but a battle within ourselves that as Christians needs to be put under God’s power. Using real life examples and Bible verses, this book is an eye opener in the subject of anger…and much much more. Believe me, it covered alot of grounds. Dr. Jantz knows what he is talking about at hits it straight on. If you read it without being affected, you might not be human.

It a bit comprehensive but not technical. Its not obviously a quick read but a book that needs time to be read. The contents of this helpful book justifies the heftiness.  It will challenge you to examine yourself and gives out practical things for you to apply.

After putting down “Controlling Your Anger Before It Controls You”, it will leave you thinking and analyzing yourself. Its time to put back joy and happiness in your life. Dr. Jantz wrote a book that is a life changer. Be ready to step to change by getting a copy at your nearest CLC Philippines or online http://www.clcphilippines.com

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something introvert whose passion is to proclaim the good news about God. He wears many hats but he is just an ordinary guy serving an extraordinary God. You can reach him at his FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram.

The Right Response to the Wrong Fear

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“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,” – Acts 4:24- 29

For the pass weeks, we have been tackling being fearless for God. Knowing that who should fear God rather than men, one might ask what shall we do then. You might have been in the situation that fear grips you because of what men can do to you because of being a Christian. But by grounding ourselves on the truth’s found in God’s Word, we see the light of hope for everyone to be bold for God.

 

We read in Acts 4 that Peter and the other apostles faced their enemy. They were arrested, tried and threatened. Nevertheless, they came out victorious because their allegiance to God is much stronger. How did they react after coming to that incident is vital for us to see and apply to our lives. Here are three things a Christian must consider:

1.)    They praised God – “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:” Acts 4:24. Instead of being sorry for themselves of the what happen, they gather together and praise God. What will you do if you face trials concerning your faith? Let’s imitate what the disciples did. Praise God no matter what.

2.)    They acknowledge God’s sovereignty of the matter – “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Acts 4:28. These believers are “Calvinist”. They are aware that God’s purpose will still stand as the dust of human threats fades. Whatever happens to them it is for their benefit and God’s might hand is in it. In this hostile world, expect people who will put you down. But take heed, God is in every twist and turns of your Christian life.

3.)    Never give up – “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,” Acts 4: 29. Because of the power of God shown to these followers of Christ, they ask for more boldness to stand up for the truth that people need to know. Please do not give up because God is in the business to fuel us up to go further for His glory.

 

Marianito “Nitoy” Gonzales is a 30 something introvert who’s passion is to proclaim the good news about God. He wears many hats but he is just an ordinary guy serving an extraordinary God. You can reach him at his FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram.

Book Review: Hopeful Parenting by David Jeremiah 

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Its been said that coaching is a combination of instructing and encouraging. While we need instructions in playing the game, encouragement gets the big slice of the cake in coaching. “Hopeful Parenting” by David Jeremiah harps this kind of “coaching” for parents and would-be parents. Written by a seasoned pastor, this book drips with humbleness and care that only comes from that David Jeremiah.

Focusing not to only on the child who needs parenting, this book focuses on building up the confidence of every parents that will read this book. Somewhat stand alone-ish, Hopeful Parenting’s chapters offers different perspective in parenting like having a solid foundation, benefits of a Christian home, when your kids left the nest etc.

Hopeful Parenting is like building a brick wall. Of course, brick wall are not just all about bricks. Its has also other ingredients like cement, sand etc. This book layers the two ingredients that is the “how-tos” and the encouragement to make the right balance of both. The strength is on both ingredients. Both had a fair share treatment. Also inspiring stories (including one from John Piper) abound that adds color to this already powerful book.

The book ends with a chapter or should I say a letter to single parents which for me is uncoventional but the way David Jeremiah treats it, its a superb way of ending a great book.

All in all this book gives a fresh look on parenting. Please dont miss this one! Get you copy at your nearest CLC Bookshops or online http://www.clcphilippines.com