Travel Time: Delighting Grace Interviews J. P. Leo Castillo of Shoestring Travelers

VvhZcDoWhat do you want to start this 2019? Do you want to be adventurous and travel?  Will it be cool if you pick up a camera and start photography? Or show your hidden writing skills and set up a blog? What if I told you you can do all of those things? Well your 2019 will be a spectacular ride! Delighting Grace recently connected with J. P. Leo Castillo, a travel blogger of Shoestring Traveler and took time to chat about blogging, photography and travelling.

Delighting Grace:  How does it feel to be always on the top travel bloggers in the Philippines?

J. P. Leo Castillo: We were on a top 40 list of travel bloggers done by another blogger – it’s not an official recognition – so it wasn’t really that big of a deal but it still felt rewarding.

Delighting Grace: Tell us when did you and your wife started travel blogging?

J. P. Leo Castillo:  Around 2011 if I remember correctly.

Delighting Grace: You go travel blogging with your wife. Is there some sort of advantage of bringing some than being alone in your trip?

J. P. Leo Castillo:  Two is obviously an advantage. You get to help each other, there’s someone with whom you can share the joys and difficulties of a trip and there’s more wisdom with two collective minds when you need to make difficult decisions on a trip.

Delighting Grace: Great! I notice that some travel bloggers are young and alone in backpacking. Compare to them to you and your wife with advance in age. Do still deliver some edge in blogging despite of the age? How does your blog stand out among the rest?

J. P. Leo Castillo: There are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to age in traveling – the younger ones can go to places that may be too extreme for us, for instance. Our advantage as older people is probably that we have more resources at our disposal – generally speaking – to go on those trips. For travel blogging I’m not sure if age is an advantage or disadvantage as it depends more on the writing capabilities of the blogger. 

Delighting Grace: As of this date, how many places did you visited here and abroad? Which one is your favorite?

J. P. Leo Castillo: Hard to count at this stage for local places. We’ve been to all the Southeast Asian countries plus China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and some Middle East countries. Only been to Europe once – Barcelona – and lived and worked in the U.S. for almost 3 years. 

Locally, it’s hard to list a single favorite but rather a group of destinations – Romblon Island, Cuatro Islas and Kalanggaman Island in Leyte, Palawan (Port Barton, Coron and El Nido), Siquijor, Catanduanes, the Caramoan Peninsula (Camarines Sur) and Dumaguete City. Internationally it’s Vietnam and the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, San Diego and the destinations along California’s Highway 395 in the U.S. 

Delighting Grace: Wow. Can you share one travel story that you wont ever forget for the rest of your life?

J. P. Leo Castillo:  A trip to the Khyber Pass at the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan which ended at the Afghan border in 2000, a year before the 9-11 attacks. This was an assignment from our Christian missions organization to see what we could do to reach the Afghan refugees then living inside Pakistan. I love history and the Khyber Pass is full of historical events from Alexander the Great’s time (300 B.C.) down to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970’s (and later the American/NATO operations in Afghanistan). Also got to meet the fierce but very hospitable Pashtun tribesmen who were cradling AK-47 assault rifles as part of their everyday life. 

Delighting Grace:  It feels like its taken out of a movie. Your photography is awesome. It goes well with the travel. How did you learn about photography?

J. P. Leo Castillo:  My team leader back in the 1990’s for the SE Asian office of our missions organization made me the photographer of our team and gave me a film DSLR, then later a digital camera. It was then that I realized I had a knack for taking pictures. My photo compositions came out well even when I had yet to study composition. Later on I began studying digital photography seriously by going to photography web sites that offered free courses. 

Delighting Grace:  If someone wants to start a travel blog, what advice can you give to them?

J. P. Leo Castillo:  Write from the heart. Write regularly. Use photos to draw in more interest to your story. Don’t write very long blogs. 

Delighting Grace:  As Christians how do we keep at awe to God as we look at His creations as we travel?

J. P. Leo Castillo: I think if you are in regular fellowship with Him you’ll appreciate His creation more. 

Delighting Grace: Aside from the travel blog you are involved in outreaches, can you fill us out on that.

J. P. Leo Castillo: We start house/simple/organic churches, equipping people to disciple others in the process. Along with partners and people that we work with in the professional and business community. We support young people from needy communities with their education – providing school supplies, providing supplemental educational training and providing college scholarship. We also mentor those who want to start simple churches. 

Delighting Grace: I think that goes along when you blog. As you look around and look back at what you have like talents specifically in our blogging we feel that kind of “advocacy” to help out people. Anyways, please invite them to check your blog and social media accounts for Shoestring Travelers.

J. P. Leo Castillo: You can find out latest adventure over our blog, Shoestring Traveler, follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.

Delighting Grace: Thank you Sir Leo for the opportunity. Looking forward for your next adventures!

The Quotable Round-Up #44

Here are some of the quotes from the book “Tactics” by Christian apologist Greg Koukl. If you enjoy this quotes, please feel free to share this post over your social media. God bless you and enjoy your week!
“Without the work of the Spirit, no argument — no matter how persuasive — will be effective. But neither will any act of love nor any simple presentation of the gospel. Add the Spirit, though, and the equation changes dramatically.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Here’s the key principle: Without God’s work, nothing else works; but with God’s work, many things work. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, love persuades. By the power of God, the gospel transforms. And with Jesus at work, arguments convince. God is happy to use each of these methods.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Our job is to communicate the gospel as clearly, graciously, and persuasively as possible. God’s job is to take it from there. We may plant the seeds or water the saplings, but God causes whatever increase comes from our efforts.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Understanding God’s central role in the process removes a tremendous burden. We can focus on our job — being clear, gracious, and persuasive — and then leave the results to God (what I called “100% God and 100% man”).”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Sometimes the little things have the greatest impact. Using simple leading questions is an almost effortless way to introduce spiritual topics to a conversation without seeming abrupt, rude, or pushy.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth

The Quotable Round-Up #43

Here are some of the quotes from the book “Tactics” by Christian apologist Greg Koukl. If you enjoy this quotes, please feel free to share this post over your social media. God bless you and enjoy your week!
“Beware when rhetoric becomes a substitute for substance. You always know that a person has a weak position when he tries to accomplish with the clever use of words what argument alone cannot do.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Always make it a goal to keep your conversations cordial. Sometimes that will not be possible. If a principled, charitable expression of your ideas makes someone mad, there’s little you can do about it. Jesus’ teaching made some people furious. Just make sure it’s your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“To be of one mind biblically doesn’t mean that all have to share the same opinion. It means a warm fellowship based on communion with Christ in the midst of differences. It does not mean abandoning all attempts at refining our knowledge by enforcing an artificial unanimity. True maturity means learning how to disagree in an aggressive fashion, yet still maintaining a peaceful harmony in the church.” — Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
” We need to cultivate the ability to disagree with civility and not take opposition personally. We must also have the grace to allow our own views to be challenged with evidence, reasoning, and Scripture. Those who refuse to dispute have a poor chance of growing in their understanding of truth.” — Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“This is a dangerous attitude for the church because the minute one is labeled mean-spirited simply for raising an opposing view, debate is silenced. If we disqualify legitimate discussion, we compromise our ability to know the truth.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth
“Arguments are good, and dispute is healthy. They clarify the truth and protect us from error and religious despotism. When the church discourages principled debates and a free flow of ideas, the result is shallow Chris tian ity and a false sense of unity.”– Gregory Koukl, Tactics #apologetics #christianconviction #defendingthetruth

Quotable Round-Up # 40

Here are some of the quotes from the book “The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage” which is part of the series titled “The Gospel for Life”. If you enjoy this quotes, please feel free to share this post over your social media. God bless you and enjoy your week!
“While marriage is certainly of concern to the church, it has a scope of consequence that goes beyond just the four walls of a church. By definition, marriage is a public institution, which means it serves the public good by helping facilitate access to the common good. In other words, marriage is for everyone––not just Christians.”– Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“..marriage is a creational institution ordained by God meant for the furtherance of the human race, the stability of society, and the satisfaction of deep longing for relationship and intimacy that exists between men and women.”– Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“We might say that marriage’s purpose exists on two levels. First, it’s a human institution intricately woven into the nature of existence and human civilization. Second, in the Bible, marriage is depicted as an earthly shadow of the most important truth of the universe: the gospel of Jesus Christ.”– Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“By echoing the “one flesh” union of Genesis 2, Jesus is putting the purpose of marriage on full display: that men and women unite comprehensively together in marriage through a physical, spiritual, and emotional bond that is oriented to and fulfilled by the creation and rearing of children.”– Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“Marriage is ultimately Christian because God created it, but it isn’t exclusive to Christians right now, since God designed marriage to be available to all of creation.” — Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“The “one flesh” symbolism is a powerful metaphor for how profound the union is of a man and woman. Man and woman fit together in a way unique to their complementary design. This simple story captures the essence of every human society; for at the foundation of every society is the union of one man and one woman. For from man and woman comes the only possibility for the continuation of mission and society through the bearing of children.” — Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samesexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“The Bible is silent on offering any constructive case for same-sex marriage because the Bible’s definition of marriage prohibits the very concept of same-sex marriage. Looking at all that the Bible says on marriage, same-sex marriage simply isn’t fathomable without contorting and twisting the Bible beyond the bounds of reason.” — Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samelsexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage
“Marriage isn’t just about children. But neither is marriage just about adult romance. It isn’t just about deep emotional connection. Marriage is ultimately about the glory of God in the gospel.”– Russel Moore and Andrew Walker, The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage (The Gospel for Life Series) #biblicalmarriage #samelsexmarriage #russelmoore #andrewwalker #thegospelandsamesexmarriage

3 Self-Examining Questions Every Christian Should Consider (Part 2)

We can’t go further in our pursuit to please God if there is something wrong in us spiritually. That is why we should have a reality check. In this final part of our lesson we will see the last two questions that are penetrating. It will bring forth who we are in the light of the Bible and lead us to repentance to God. We need to be broken and humbled to be of much use in God’s kingdom. Let’s go back to the Book of Job to see the final two.

2. “what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?” – Job 31:14

“What if God ask you and what shall you say to him?” is a question about the weight of God’s demand to response to His inquiry. Or will we be able to answer Him. What if God ask you on why did you made those decisions that are not God glorifying? What if God demand you to answer those behaviors that are not Christ like? What will you say? Knowing this are we not to be more careful of what we say and do?

3. “Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?” – Job 31: 4

We as believers should not walk in the “counsel of the wicked” (Psalms 1:1) and consider the Bible as the lamp to guide our steps (Psalms 119:1) because as this verse in the Book of Job indicates that He can see our ways and the steps we take. It is therefore a call to be authentic and leave the sinful and superficial things we do in the name of Christ. We can easily play with the thought that God is omniscient and omnipresent in other things but not on us. Here God’s attributes must make us think and floored us with its truth. We must walk in humble obedience to Him because He knows everything about us. Let us focus on how to be true and let this question shake us and do the right thing.  May our merciful God guide us as we desire to please Him in every ways.

More articles here: https://delightinggrace.wordpress.com

The Quotable Round-Up #32

Hello guys! Here’s your weekly dose of quotes featuring the book “God’s Word, Our Story” published by Crossway. Enjoy and God bless!

“If you’re Chinese  and you become a Christian, you don’t become an African Christian. You don’t become a European Christian. You’re a Chinese  Christian. But your Christianity goes underneath your Chineseness. Likewise, it goes underneath your Italianness. It goes underneath your being a nurse or a lawyer. It goes underneath being an  abused child. It goes underneath anything. It goes to the uttermost  foundations.”–Tim Keller, God’s Word, Our Story

We can  know many things and be quite intelligent, but if our knowledge  is not founded upon and encased in the fear of God, then we just  don’t get it”– Paige Brown,  God’s Word, Our Story

“The fear of God, which is  a huge concept in the Scriptures, is the awe, the reverence, the  honor, and the worship demanded by the majesty of his person,  his power, and his position. This fear is the only proper response  to the God of the Bible. He is, of course, to be before all things in  our hearts, because he is before all things in reality. Therefore, this  fear is supremely rational.”– Paige Brown,  God’s Word, Our Story

“The gracious restoration of a right relationship through  God’s covenant with his people is the story of the rest of the Bible.”– Paige Brown,  God’s Word, Our Story

“A servile fear is appropriate for  those not belonging to God; a filial fear replaces that servile fear  and then characterizes those who are the people of God.”– Paige Brown,  God’s Word, Our Story

“The  fear of God always motivates our living and our doing. The fear  of God is not a contemplation. It is a motivation.”– Paige Brown,  God’s Word, Our Story

The Quotable Round-Up #28

Here are the quotes for the week featuring the book by R. C. Sproul “What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics”. Enjoy and God bless!

“The remission of sins is tied to the atoning work of Christ. In the atonement both propitiation and expiation are involved. Propitiation refers to Christ’s satisfaction of God’s justice, making it “propitious” for God to forgive us. Propitiation may be seen as a vertical act of Christ directed to the Father. At the same time, Christ is an expiation for our sins, removing or carrying away from us our sins.”

“True faith is never alone. It always manifests itself in works. Works that flow out of faith, however, are in no way the ground of our justification. They contribute nothing of merit before God. The only ground or basis of our justification is the merit of Christ. Nor is faith itself a meritorious work or the ground of our justification.”

“The dispute between justification by the infusion of Christ’s righteousness and the imputation of his righteousness is no tempest in a teapot. It makes all the difference in the world whether the ground of my justification rests within me or is accomplished for me. Christ fulfilled the law for me and gained the merit necessary for my justification. This is the ground not only of my justification, but also of my assurance of salvation. If I must wait until I cooperate with the righteousness of Christ infused within me, to the degree that I become inherently righteous, I despair of ever attaining salvation. This is not gospel or “good news”; it is bad news.”

“In our justification, faith is the means by which we are linked to Christ and receive the benefits of his saving work. By faith we receive the transfer or imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Faith is not only a necessary condition, it is a sufficient condition for Christ’s righteousness to be imputed to us. Faith, true faith, is all that is required to be justified by the righteousness of Christ. Faith trusts in and lays hold of a righteousness that is not our own.”

“Forensic justification means we are declared righteous by God in a legal sense. The ground of this legal declaration is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account.”

The doctrine of justification deals with what may be the deepest existential problem a human being can ever face: How can a sinner, an unjust person, ever withstand the judgment of a holy and just God?

Book Review: Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

This book is a sort of sequel to “Total Church” with the same authors. This is a sort of “the rubber meets the road” kind of book. Picking up this book you’ll dive immediately to the subject. Not that you need to get “Total Church” to understand this (which I haven’t read also) but as you can see this book can be categorized with those “church engaging the culture” books that are already out in the market. Yet this book even if you read similar stuff does have some great insights and some gems in it. This book uses 2 Peter as main text drawing some principles.

The book opens with a discussion of Christians are in the marginalized in society and culture. Along with that are other things to consider as a church reaches out in this culture were tackled in the first chapter. The rest of the chapters carry Chapter 1 to further emphasize the role of the church, the challenge and the response to a culture we once knew. This is a short book but straight to the point, engaging and practical. The book concludes with the challenge for Christians to reach out despite of how the world treats us, live and breathe the gospel every day, reinforce us through Scriptures who we are in the eyes of God and how to live beyond mediocre Christianity.

My verdict 3 out of 5.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through the Blog Review Program.

The Quotable Round-Up #25

Here are the freshest quotes for the week featuring John Murray’s book “Redemption: Accomplished and Applied”. Enjoy!

“When Christ is presented to lost men in the proclamation of the gospel, it is as Saviour he is presented, as one who ever continues to be the embodiment of the salvation he has once for all accomplished. It is not the possibility of salvation that is offered to lost men but the Saviour himself and therefore salvation full and perfect. There is no imperfection in the salvation offered and there is no restriction to its overture—it is full, free, and unrestricted.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“Regeneration is the act of God and of God alone. But faith is not the act of God; it is not God who believes in Christ for salvation, it is the sinner. It is by God’s grace that a person is able to believe but faith is an activity on the part of the person and of him alone. In faith we receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“The embrace of Christ in faith is the first evidence of regeneration and only thus may we know that we have been regenerated.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“No one can say in truth that Jesus is the Christ except by regeneration of the Spirit and that is one of the ways by which the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“Regeneration is the beginning of all saving grace in us, and all saving grace in exercise on our part proceeds from the fountain of regeneration. We are not born again by faith or repentance or conversion; we repent and believe because we have been regenerated.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“For unless God by sovereign, operative grace had turned our enmity to love and our disbelief to faith we would never yield the response of faith and love.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

“Regeneration is the beginning of inwardly operative saving grace.”
— John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

7 Things We Miss Out If We Reject the Gospel (Part 4)

Before we go to the last point on our list, I would like to thank you for giving your time to read this article for the pass weeks. I hope and pray that you have been edified with the topic. If you haven’t accepted Christ as Lord and personal Savior, prayer goes out with you. If you have questions please free to ask me by posting it on the comment section or just simple sending a personal message. I will try to answer your questions. And now for #7 which is no surprise if we neglect the gospel. Heaven is last on the list because I want to show you that what you gain with salvation is not just heaven.
7. Heaven
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3: 19-20

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. in my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, i would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. and if i go and prepare a place for you, i will come again, And receive you unto myself; that where i am, there ye may be also” John 14: 2-3 (KJV)
Heaven is not a reward. Reward has to be worked out. Jesus already did it for us. The promise of heaven is included with the gift of salvation. It is based upon the grace of God. Rejecting the gospel forfeits us for receiving heaven. The soul has two destinations. Its either Heaven or Hell. And what you do with the gospel will determine where you will spend eternity. Will you accept the gospel today?