Book Review: Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: Practical Guide by Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson

There are few books that are geared for this kind of topic. The most notable and most popular is the “Purpose Driven Youth Ministry” by Doug Fields which really sets the bar of what an effective and practical guide in youth ministry. Fields mostly sets the program (complete with diagrams, templates, graphs) which is comprehensive. He shared some biblical insights here and there. But in “Gospel-Centred Youth Ministry”, having the gospel in the very heart of this kind of ministry IS practical.
To tell you honesty I have no idea who are the editors and contributors except for Elizabeth Elliot and the Collin Hansen (who wrote the foreword). However, that didn’t deter me to check this book out. Unlike other how to books with one author in every topic, Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry” the contributors provides their forte in every phase of the youth ministry. Sharing biblical insights, personal experiences and practical tips every entry bring reinforcement to youth workers who needs help for this ministry. The book is divided into three sections: foundations of an effective ministry, four practical elements of the ministry and students role in reaching out the world.
Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: Practical Guide is must read for youth workers, pastors and lay people. This book is the real deal. It delivers a gospel saturated message that is not full of gimmicks or quick fix.


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

NightKAP Batangas City

A cup of cappuccino at Starbucks in a rainy August 5 evening is what you call cool. Adding some godly chat with other Christians for the greatest cause for Christ you might as well call it super awesome.  And it has a name, its “NightKAP”. “

NightKAP” is a meet up organized by SEND Philippines that aims to have a friendly and cozy conversation about mission and the great commission. Held at Starbucks Batangas, the venue made the event more laid-back and loose (although some of us are a bit shy). We came from different denominations, age and ministry backgrounds to share thoughts about those two topics that matter to the body of Christ.

Helen Tan of SEND moderates the event as nine of us took turns to introduce ourselves, how we get to know SEND and our perceptions on the different angles of mission.  Each of us shared remarkable stories about how God is moving through our ministry. Blend in some laughter here and there, the hour pass so fast that our two hour affair is not enough. Anyone for round 2?

For more information about NightKAP you can check out SEND Philippines or their Facebook Page.

The Elements of Style and the Beatitudes

We bloggers need constant help in our writing so that every post will connect to our readers. Not just correct grammar but a good structure of sentences to give clarity and smooth flow in reading. One of the best books in writing I would highly recommend for bloggers is the book “The Elements of Style” by Williams Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Short but very practical, I think recommending it to you might not be a surprise (if you’re writer).

In page 26 of this superb book, Stunk and White notes a principle composition method that brings clarity to the readers by repeating a word in a series of sentences. In the book it is called “Express coordinate ideas in similar form”. And they use an example from the Bible. It’s the opening words of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount found it Matthew 5.

“This principle that of parallel construction, requires that expressions similar in content and function be outwardly similar. The likeness of form enables the reader to recognize more readily the likeness of content and function. The familiar Beatitudes exemplify the virtue of parallel construction.”

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

More than a great model of the said method, The Beatitudes is the radical approach in Christian living straight from our Lord’s lips. The structure of the sentences is excellent and Jesus wants it more than a monumental speech. He wants to enumerate things that create a vast gulf of what it means to live in this world pursuing God and what the rest of this world thinks what is great. He resolves it in this unforgettable Element of Style cuts it on verse 6 on the book. Let’s read the rest of it:

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5:7-11, KJV)

The MacArthur Study Bible said it well about the Beatitudes:

“The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. The Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.”

So The Beatitudes are the new attitudes that we need to follow as Christians. May we walk on it and make our Christian walk a light to this dark world.

Additional resources

Here a great bumper video when teaching the Beatitudes. “God-o-nomics” by Dan Stevers.

Download a FREE e-book on The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes (.pdf)
Thomas Watson

Book Review: Giving Up Is Not an Option by William B. Girao

There are few (i.e. two actually) Pinoy Christian authors that I truly respect and look forward in read their books. One is William B. Girao, a prolific author and a Bible expositor (because we are so saturated with foreign authors and with a dash of colonial mentality, sometimes that title is reserved for the likes of John McArthur etc.,) . He, as I observe, is handling tough issues (like the previous book he wrote) with the biblical perspective and a gentle pastoral care to the readers. I don’t know about you but we Pinoy readers are so soaked with foreign authors that we forget great authors like him. Maybe we got hook in the hype of an international bestseller book or the Pinoy author won’t give justice to the topic at hand (the stigma that it will turn into icky, mushy, bakya or baduy). But not with this author.

“Giving Up Is Not an Option” delivers the message that God is sovereign, clearly and very understandably and you won’t shout “Is there a John Piper in the house?” That’s right a book that handles the doctrine of sovereignty of God that you’ll actually read and easily indulge without losing its doctrinal integrity. Girao draws from the life examples of Moses, Isaiah, Esther, Daniel and John the Beloved of God being in control in every situation a Christian is facing. Read as these biblical heroes face calamities, despair, persecution and death with the God. It won’t be pleasant look but we all experience things like that in our lives. But Oh how wonderful to know that God is with every believers ups and downs as the book shed a powerful message to bank our hope on God and His sovereign hands.

Sovereignty of God is a very heavy topic and it’s something that you won’t want to tackle in the midst of despair and anxiety we Christians go through. It’s not the best time to talk about theology. You won’t be at lost with the topic because how it is tailored for the Filipino readers. Taking examples to current events and Philippine history, it will hit our hearts and minds. This book is something you can draw from the bookshelves; give it to someone without leaving them boggled with the language and topic. The book premise deals with ruling power of God in everything without being pushy but grounded in firm biblical stance. In every page, Girao lovingly points the readers to look to God despite hopeless predicaments. It won’t leave you with just a few advices but an encouraging hope: that God will not leave us and He is still in control no matter what. Reading this book not just theologically reinforces you with biblical truths but it will uplift your spirit towards hope, perseverance, heaven and a Sovereign God.

Notable Quotes:
“In spite of the seeming overwhelming power of wicked man, God has not reigned from His rule and will never do so.”
“Whatever God may allow us to go through; the certainty of establishment of God’s and His Christ’s eternal Kingdom is, nevertheless, sure.”
“We could face everything life brings with equanimity, peace of heart and mind, joy, excitement and confidence, not because we have buried our head under the sand but because we have a God who is in absolute control of all things.”

Are you in the middle of a crisis? Are you feeling hopeless? Let this book push you to open the Scriptures and draw near to God. Take a new view on how God is working in your circumstances and find Him still in command of every twist and turns of our lives. Published by OMF Lit, this book is 200 pesos and part of their “Think Biblically Series”.

Meeting William Girao

“Late”. That’s the word that keeps running in my mind. It seems that I won’t get a glimpse of Carmen Vargas at the Christ Strengthening Ministry (CSM )booth (the loudest booth at the fair).

It’s Saturday September 15, 2012. That’s the date that we will visit the “33rd Manila International Book Fair” at SMX Mall of Asia. I’ve been anticipating it for months now and finally its here. We will check the Christian booths over that event, buy some books, do camera frolic and rub elbows with authors. But time became the enemy. Also the bad weather threatens us.  But I won’t go home defeated. I will be the victor ha! 🙂

We came almost 3PM at MOA and got lost first before we found SMX Convention Center. We paid 20 pesos for the entrance fee. As we enter we can see swarms of book enthusiast and lots of booths making some part of the book fair crowded and as I have experienced it was hard to check the books you want to buy. Despite the dilemma, we still enjoy the booths of different local and international publishers. Discounted books over here and there, we are tempted to open our wallets and give in to buy books. We have to pinch ourselves not to because we are here to buy Christian books (goodbye Ambeth Ocampo).

We stop over to the foremost leader in Christian publishing here in the Philippines, OMF Lit. As expected it was a blockbuster. Jam-pack is the right word from the people checking the display rack to the cashier lane we can see that people still patronize Christian books especially from OMF.  We had a hard time to move around and checking books that we want to take home. Still it was fun. We get to buy discounted books like the newly revised book of R.C. Sproul “Knowing Scripture”, the new book from William Girao “Giving Up is Not An Option” (which will soon be reviewed here in this blog) and a devotional book for my friend I tag along. Speaking of William Girao, let’s jump to that story, because this whole post is all about that encounter.

I’m not expecting to see this prolific Christian author in the fair. I was expecting Carmen Vargas of DZAS at the CSM booth (well it’s too late and I’m not interested to see Pilar Pilapil’s appearance there). As I was browsing some books someone announced that Pastor Girao will be there at the OMF booth and will be signing his books. So I grab his latest book and my diglot Bible for a chance to get it signed. I saw him and he is what you may call a typical pastor. At first glance you won’t he is a widely read author. But the built, the clothes and the looks. Mukhang isa sa mga senior pastor sa iglesia ninyo. He resembles one of our pastors here in Batangas City. He welcomed me with a warm smile, a hand shake and start signing the book and my Bible. I’m star stuck at that moment, so I reinforce myself and courageously try to start a conversation. I open the topic of Calvinism. I told him I thought he is a Calvinist and it is one hot topic back at home. He looked at me and we launched into a 3 minute or so conversation about his stand on Calvinism. He said Calvinism is an open-end debate. There are questions that will be left unanswered. He could say that he is a “limited Calvinist” (or I think he’s standing on the moderate Calvinism approach). If we see Bible verses pertaining to election we should preach it and if we verse that points man’s part in salvation we should also preach it. ‘It’s in the Bible isn’t it?” he said” So there is no conflict in that.” I think our chat is getting too long but as I check at my back I’m the only one in the line (thank goodness). It was a great and memorable talk. I’m honor to meet this Bible expositor and learn spiritual lessons from his books. I hope in the coming year OMF Lit will do this again. Thank you OMF!

As for me because of the book fair experience, it added my appreciation to books and its impact to our lives a Christians. Next year I will be planning for this event with more friends to tag along and a bigger budget. And I hope next year I will see you there. Till next year, keep reading books guys!

Worth the Wait: Delighting Grace Interviews True Love Waits Philippines



 Bumping into the National Director of True Love Waits (TLW) Philippines is something that won’t happen everyday. But as Derek Ross told me it is not an accident, it has a purpose. While having a sortie over Batangas City, his team is preparing for a TLW events on the campus, I met him and ask him if I can interview him about TLW. He gave me his business card and by e-mail I ask questions with the topic about co-habitation, pre-marital sex and RH Bill. And of course True Love Waits. So here is the interview with True Love Waits Philippines (Christin Alvarez,  Editorial Coordinator):

Delighting Grace: Hello, I accidentally bumped at you while youre in a plaza in Batangas City.You corrected me and said God is in it has a purpose. So what are you doing there or rather whats TLW up to?

True Love Waits: First of all, TLW is a group effort of myself and 4 wonderful staff, Ree Soria in Marketing, Leslie Vergara in Training, Oda Zapanta our Technical Head and Christin Alvarez our Editorial Coordinator who wrote most of this article with my small input. Plus, we have about 145 volunteers who join us when we need to do an event or talk in a school. In Batangas we were giving out Sex tracts and sharing to people what God has to say about sex during Batangas City Day. Check our site if you want to know more about Sex Tracts.

Delighting Grace: So tell us what is True Love Waits & what does TLW offer? I think you conduct seminars at school. What’s it all about?

True Love Waits: True Love Waits Philippines is a non-profit organization and our goal is to connect Filipino youth to God and His plan for absolute purity. We are committed to impacting youth by teaching them to be pure in heart which will lead them to make the right choices, especially in the issue of sexual abstinence until marriage. We reach the youth by holding conferences around the country; conducting talks and trainings to students and adults alike in churches, schools, government offices and other various organizations; we also conduct talks specifically tailored for parents. More than the goal of challenging Filipino youth to be pure in heart through these activities, we desire to equip and partner with them to spread the message of  “Purity and Abstinence” nationwide.

Delighting Grace:How does True Love Waits differ from that of US and here in the Philippines in terms of how you handle people response about sex.Are they the same?

True Love Waits:TLW is a world-wide campaign but purity is God’s idea, not just a good idea. Living in a Facebook world; Filipino youth might have more in common with American (or Korean) youth than they have with their Filipino Parents. So in regards to temptations and character, we’re about the same.

Delighting Grace:Now lets talk about co-habitation or live-in. What is it & why do people engage in this set up?

True Love Waits:Well, live-in arrangements among couples have become so popular because they can be boyfriend-girlfriend while enjoying sexual intimacy that is only exclusive for a husband-wife relationship. In short more than a dating relationship but also less than marriage. People prefer living-in because they don’t have to keep the life-long commitment that married couples do in front of many witnesses. In a way, it’s easier for both parties because they have not committed their lives to each other. The moment someone changes his/her mind about the relationship, he/she can just move out without thinking much about it.

 Delighting Grace:What are the dangers of live-in?

True Love Waits:Marriage has its own problems but live-in arrangements has ten times the problems. The dangers of live-in are innumerable because from one wrong deed springs another wrong and so on, like roots sprouting more roots in different directions. Live-in arrangement was never God’s plan for a man and woman who love each other. It’s either you stay single or you get married. It may seem that God has such an absolute and irrevocable plan that it would cause many to rebel against Him because He’s so unreasonable and such a killjoy. “Why can’t we do as we please as long as we don’t hurt anybody” ? we’d ask. Well, we’re wrong most of the time. Humans are the real joy killer and not God. He made parameters for sex to be inside marriage because He want to protect us from dangers of non-committal relationships like live-in arrangements. God wants to give us joy in marriage but we keep trying to kill it.

The other invisible side of the live-in issue is Multiple conconcurrent sex partnerships which resemble a giant, invisible web of relationships through which HIV/AIDS spreads according to Dr. Edward Green, Senior Research Scientist Harvard School of Public Health.

Filipino couples say “We’re in Love” and that’s why we’re together. That statement is followed by “We’re committed”. But this kind of commitment is short term. It’s called SERIAL MONOGAMY. You’re truly committed to one person but only for a year or two and then your fully committed to another for another year or two. This is how HIV is spreading in the Philippines.

Delighting Grace:How would you advice couples considering or in that kind of relationship?

True Love Waits:Based on what I’ve already said, couples should strive to have relationships that are life-long rather than jumping from one relationship to another and breaking their own hearts.

Delighting Grace:The R.H. Bill is a hot topic right now. What is the stand of TLW on this very controversial issue? Is TLW, somewhat affected by this issue?

True Love Waits: The issue is not whether TLW is affected but how are people affected or are going to be affected by it. We cannot nitpick in talking about RH Bill because it covers such a broad subject in an attempt to solve economic problems. But if we delve deeper, the problem is not actually economic but social. It also just happens that TLW is in a line of work where we are promoting sexual abstinence until marriage and the RH Bill is promoting promiscuity by distributing condoms. Pro-RH people cringe at this kind of argument that it’s not all about condoms.

Okay, it’s not all about condoms but they cannot deny the fact that they will distribute condoms for free without restrictions as to whoever asks for it, and that includes young people which is the majority of the demographic TLW ministers to. The RH Bill definitely affecst how people will behave socially especially in the aspect of sexuality. The bill poses a possibility for young people to perform risky sexual behaviors as majority lack the knowledge that condoms don’t give 100% protection.

 Delighting Grace: Please invite our readers to check True Love Waits.

True Love Waits: If you are interested to know more what True Love Waits is about, please visit and check out our blogs, music other purity movement resources. We.d love to hear from you too! We have a get together night coming this September in our Manila office, everyone is invited Friday September 21st.

Delighting Grace: Any parting words for those who are seeking a relationship?

True Love Waits: We all yearn to be loved and accepted that’s why we seek to be in a relationship. But earthly relationships can only last for so long. You get married and probably spend your life with that person for 40-60 years and after that what? You die and your relationship is no more. Pursuing God is the greatest way you can truly experience True Love because after all, He is the source of it all.

My Book Fair 2012 at SMX Experience

    The bad weather didn’t seems to stop the excitement and enthusiasm as we took a trip over SMX Mall of  Asia Convention Center for the “33rd Manila International Book Fair 2012”. This 5 day book fair (Sept 12-16) showcase local and international book publishers and of course their products. You can buy them in discounted prices and lots of goodies that comes along with it. We came (and counquer) last Saturday Sept 15 on its 4th day of the event. We have to pay an entrance fee of 20 pesos and once inside, man books, books and more books!

       Its my first time to go to that annual event and also my first time in MOA. The place was packed and crawling with bookworms like me that sometimes its hard to find a book your looking for. Our first stop was the Anvil Publishing booth reeking with Filipino literatures. Found new “Looking Back” books by Ambeth Ocampo but I hold on to my dear cash to buy Christian books (well his book can wait). After browsing it we immediately went to the OMF booth.Their booth as expected is swelling with great Christian books (saw Holliness of God by R.C. Sproul) but before I go dive in I have another mission on that book fair. I ask someone from OMF if they can help our small ministry for books to be donated in schools. He referred me to the Marketing Supervisor of OMF Literature, Gladys Calalang. We had an interesting chat, gave me her business card and told me to e-mail me a concrete proposal of our request. So please guys  pray for the project to push through and many will get to know Christ.Before I leave the OMF booth I grab “Knowing Scripture” by R.C. Sproul , a devotional book for my friends and a suprise. Well I got to meet Christian author William Girao. But before I go on I might as well save the encounter in another post. So wait for it guys it’s awesome!

We also check some Bible Societies in the Philippines who has booths there also. We went by CLC then Lighthouse (did we?).
Then to top it all off, we went to the loudest booth in the fair. Will all much hype not only for their booth but for  the whole book fair they should get an award. Church Strengthening Ministry’s with their “CSM Book Madness” Christians are in for a treat. For 100 Pesos you can buy anything as in anything you eyes can see in the booth. What a jaw dropping deal. So I brought “The Pleasures of God”
MP3 audiobook and “When I Don’t Desire God” book by John Piper. I couldn’t believe it cost that cheap I even ask them if its 100 pesos! As if I had enough, the Navpress Philippines booth is offering 99 pesos of Jerry Bridges title. I took “The Fruitful Life” and currently reading it.

I really had fun over that event and next year I will plan for it (bigger budget and more friends to tag long). By the way, did you come to that event too? Please post your story on the comment section. God bless you till next blog post!

Ken Ham on Richard Dawkins

Creation Scientist and founder of Answers in Genesis Ken Ham comments on Richard Dawkins atheism:

“Richard Dawkins is an atheist and one of the world’s leading spokespersons for evolution. An interviewer once made this statement to him: “The idea of evolution and natural selection makes some people feel that everything is meaningless, people’s individual lives and life in general.” Dr. Dawkins responded that, “If it’s true that it causes people to feel despair. That’s tough. If it’s true, its true; and you had better live with it.” So if I believe in atheistic evolution and it causes me to despair, what can I do? Be tough. Get used to it. That’s what it’s all about. Live with it.


And then he was asked this question, “What do you see is the problem with a terminally ill cancer patient believing in an afterlife?” Dr. Dawkins responded, “No problem at all. If I could have word with a would-be suicide bomber who thinks he is going to paradise, I would say ‘Don’t imagine for one second that you are going to paradise, you’re going to rot in the ground.’ ” At least Dr. Dawkins is consistent and honest. Without God, nothing matters. It doesn’t matter if you are terminally ill or if you are a terrorist. You are going to die, and that is the end of it. Life, then, is utterly meaningless. Nothing you can do will make a difference. When you die, you won’t even remember you were here, and in a short time, no one else will remember you either. Life has no meaning; it never did; it doesn’t now; and it never will. It’s just time and death. That’s all. That’s tough. Get used to it.


By the way, if what Dr. Dawkins is saying is true, why does he bother arguing about anything? What’s the point? Think about it! I have often wondered why an atheistic evolutionist would bother trying to convince someone of something. They believe that when you die that’s the end of you. Isaac Asimov believed that, Carl Sagan believed that, and that’s what Richard Dawkins is saying. When you die, you rot, that’s it. From that perspective, you won’t even know you were ever here; you won’t even know you ever existed. You won’t remember any of it . . . and neither will anyone else; so therefore, what is the point of arguing with the creationists? I don’t understand the point.”


(“How Could a Loving God?…Powerful Answers on Sufferings” by and © 2007 Ken Ham, pp. 52-53, Masters Book, Inc.)

The Lion, The Witch and The Logic

Last week I’ve brought 3 books of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Now I’m half way in C.S. Lewis “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”. The book so far unfolds lots of action and adventure that’s truly exciting. Not only it’s filled with that but some of the ideas from C.S. Lewis. For those who don’t yet know, C.S. Lewis wrote books on Christian apologetics (defense of the faith).  His works especially “Mere Christianity” is the most quoted because of its irrefutable arguments. Books after books on apologetics they include his famous argument when the deity of Jesus Christ is scrutinized. It great that you can find it also in his own fiction works. Let’s see if you recognize this line:

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

Familiar? Well let’s turn to his classic “Mere Christianity” for a clearer view:

“Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit on Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

In other words, if some is making an incredible claim, check if the evidence points to the truth. Then you must decide: is he telling a lie, or is he simply insane or is he telling the truth. As for the case of Jesus Christ, as Lewis points, Jesus may either be liar, lunatic or Lord.

Anyways, it’s great to know that Lewis intends to share some of his great thoughts even in his fiction works. I just can’t wait to read the next book of the series and find such great treasures.

6 Important Things to Prepare for a Youth Group Fellowship

Being a youth group leader is a hard task but its fulfilling because you get to share yourself and most importantly God’s Word. So if you’re a novice on this ministry let’s look at 6 important things you need to prepare for this kind of fellowship:

  1. The time- We hold our fellowship after lunch or 1:30pm before our Gospel Hour. Set your time, be punctual and stick with it.
  2. The place-Of course it should be at church but on special fellowships it can be on another church or at our members’ home.
  3. Materials- Bible, notebooks, pens, stuff to be used in games or reflection, microphones, etc.
  4. Guest speaker- the guest speaker needs to be reminded beforehand the time and place of the fellowship. Also the topic he will preach.
  5. Everyone’s part –make sure you have delegated it to the group. Before hand they know who will be the opening prayer, games, reflection, special number etc.
  6. A devotional message- The most important in any fellowships is the preaching part. Know what topic your youth group needs (does it need topic about leadership or evangelism).  Prepare it a week before if possible.

I love to hear thoughts about this topic. Please post your comments.