Girl! Interrupted!: An interview with Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty

3 03 2011

Interviewing Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty is such a blast. As a former model and a mother she has a keen eye for what teens, especially girls are going through. Issues like peer pressure, clothing, sex and pleasing God are on top of every girls list of questions. For me (as a guy) I also learned a lot.  And now without further a due, here is our interview Teresa.

ROCK:    Teresa, why do teens especially girls get peer pressured?

Teresa: Being a model in Southern California for 15 years, I understand the expectation to maintain what Hollywood and the fashion industry consider “perfection.”  It’s a never-ending, forever changing culture that pressures especially girls to compromise character and their self-worth.  It’s unfortunate that nine in ten teen girls are influenced by T.V. fashion mags and models.  Even though most girls know that the photos they’re looking at have been altered or photoshopped, still 75% of girls become depressed after fifteen minutes of reading a glam mag.  What I’ve learned after working in the entertainment industry is to be content with my body, and be happy and with whom I am when I look at myself in a mirror.

ROCK: How does this affect their life specifically being a Christian? How about you as a teen then?

I made mistakes as a young adult and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity at a second marriage that my fiancé’ stated that he would only marry me if I made Christ a priority in my life. I was a young Christian at the time, and I didn’t want to fail at another marriage, so I read my Bible often and listen to Christian radio broadcasts. I’ve learned to stand firm and trust God with my life, my marriage, the raising of four girls, and a ministry.

The Bible gives us an edge over the culture’s deception. As Christians we exist in Christ and in this world. But like most of us, it’s easier to listen to the lies that we’re unworthy than to believe that we are “Wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  Romans 12 is key to remember when we struggle with those lies that whisper where not good enough.  The Bible says for Christians to be transformed by the “renewing of our mind” and not to conform to the pressures of a hostile world. Allowing God to transform us is like a metamorphosis, it’s a total change in our attitude towards how we think or feel about ourselves that develops from the inside out.

ROCK:   I thought this generation or culture taught us individualism yet why do teens and young adults fall for conformity on what media thinks, views on sexuality and the more obvious how they dress up?

Teresa: Media is always saying “Be your own girl!” “Embrace your uniqueness!” but then flashy sexy cover stories that read, “How to Look Like Your Fav Celeb”, or “25 Ways to Look Sexy.” Our culture is double-minded and if we choose the counterfeit culture over Christ we will set ourselves up for failure.

When I modeled, my life evolved around having a sexy appearance. I think for me that word “appearance” says it all. I appeared sexy, but that really wasn’t my heart at all. It was what I thought I was supposed to be, the girl with the sexiest clothes and the hottest body wins…right?

But after rededicating my life to Christ, I was convicted over the clothes I’d been wearing I began asking myself these questions:

Why do I choose to wear “sexy” outfits? Am I really that insecure that have to show off my body to compete with other women? Is it a rush knowing that my body caught a man’s eye and became the focus of his attention?

I think it’s important for every girl that struggles with modesty to ask themselves these questions, so that they can keep their heart in check with God’s standards and not the worlds.

 

ROCK: What are your advice for teens on how do they stand out while maintaining their Christian values?

Teresa: Isaiah 59:15 says “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes prey.”

I believe this next generation of Christians must stand firm and engage in the truth of God’s Word. We have become too passive and have allowed evil to walk all over us.  It’s time for a grass-roots movement of repentance to wash across our heart so God can heal us and our land.

That’s why I’ve created the “Rebellion Newsletter.” It’s an email the gets basted all around the world to encourage girls to speak up against the culture when others are afraid too.

ROCK:   Lets go to clothing, why is clothing very important to teens?

Teresa: For teenagers, clothing is a social statement. It expresses to their friends and everyone else who they are and what they like.  It’s their signature or identity.  Clothing can categorize you into cliques or groups by what you wear. But most the time, teens are into a certain look of clothing because of peer pressure to wear the latest style.

ROCK:   How about sex. How can we tell teens to wait and invest in purity while their friends had given it already?

Teresa: Over 50% of teen girls between the ages of 12-17 feel pressured into having sex, either by their boyfriend or class mates.

Here are some statistics that I just read today from the Alan Guttmacher Institute:  They’re reporting there are 4 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) that infect teens each year. And that the Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections account for about half of STIs diagnosed among 15- 24year olds each year.
I also found a study dated Tuesday, January 26, 2010 that reads: Following decade-long decline, U.S. teen pregnancy rate increases as both birth and abortions rise.

But let’s not forget about the AIDS/HIV report from The Kaiser Foundation that “new HIV infections among young people are at 2.6 million.”

I could go on about the statistics and risks of premarital sex, but many girls believe that getting pregnant or an STD would never happen to them. The reality is…its happening. And it’s happening to girl’s every day that have to go home and tell their parents their pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease because they couldn’t wait till they were married to have sex.

I think it’s time for us girls to get real.
God is a relational God, and He created a husband and wife to be sexual. Marriage invites a man and a woman into each other’s life to know and to be known. There’s no shame. No regrets. No boundaries. Sex God’s way, is the best and safest sex out there!

But how do you wait when everyone around you isn’t? I tell teens that their feeling toward wanting to experience sex is normal. But God says to wait and for very good reasons until you’re married. Did you know that over 25% of teens that have premarital sex become depressed.  Dating and breaking up then dating again when sex is involved with different partners, overtime will callous your heart. What you’ve done is trained your heart, your body, and your brain to not fully give or accept love the way God intended.

Now that you know the truth, it’ll be easier for you to overcome Satan’s scheme.  Read Ephesians 5:5 and keep this verse in your brain. “Let there not be a HINT of sexual immorality.” What that means is this: When you talk to the opposite sex there should not be an indirect suggestion, a slight indication, a touch, a trace, and a drop of a hint or a potential opportunity for sexual behavior.

ROCK: Wow, Teresa very well said.   I know there are parents out their reading this, so what can you say to them on the proper way to talk to their kids about Christian modesty?

Teresa: It’s important to talk to your children about modesty when they’re still young. Instilling morals and values right away into your children teaches them that this is your family’s life style and expectation. Otherwise when your children become teenagers you’ll be battling over a freedom that once belonged to them. The double standard will cause friction and frustration between you and your teen.

ROCK: Any tips or advice to teens and young adults that I know for sure wants to please God and their parents. So what do think are the steps in doing it?

Teresa: Every teen deep down wants to please their parents. I’ll give you a few tips that I believe teens need to be intentional about that are non-negotiable when it comes to relationships with God and their parents.

The first tip is trust. If you break your parents trust, it’ll take time to rebuild, so don’t expect your parents to just hand over the car keys or allow you to go out after you’ve gotten caught breaking the rules. Many times teens feel the need to sneak around behind their parents back.  This behavior only results in a guilty conscience that will cause all kinds of emotional and physical attitudes to flare up between you, your parents, your friends, including your relationship with God.  The best thing to do is talk with your parents about how your feeling, before there’s a mountain of tension in your relationship.

The second tip is to obey your parents.  Many times teens refuse to listen and will talk back or flat out rebel because they don’t agree with their parents rules. It’s important for the teen to understand that your parents are there to empower you through your teen years to help prepare you now, so that you will make wise choices for your future.

My last tip is to honor your parents. I know that this could be difficult for some teens that have been neglected and hurt by their parents.  I was mistreated growing up, and my mom made me feel as though I was destroying the family when I chose to get Christian counseling. But when she got older, I honored her by lovingly caring for her needs. It’s important to honor your parents by the choices you make with your life. The things you choose to do are a reflection of your Heavenly Father.

These simple steps are what God desires from you too.  He wants your relationship to be built on trust, as you depend on Him to get you through the turbulent times of your teenage years.  However, that depends on you being obedient to His Word, and putting it into action in your life.  And most of all God wants you to honor Him by representing Him and His Kingdom.

ROCK: Teresa it’s such a pleasure interviewing you. I learned a lot from you. Now, Teresa what is Power of Modesty? Please tell us about it? Invite them to check you website or Facebook page.

Power of Modesty was founded in 2004 and it was created to be a safe environment where teen girls can find the love, understanding, support, accountability and guidance that they’re seeking through relationships, and to give them the message of freedom and grace that we can only receive through Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to be a process and a journey so they can make a positive influence on our culture.

I would love to have your readers’ blog me and join the Rebellion Newsletter on the P.O.M. website at http://www.powerofmodesty.com





Culture Clashed? : An interview with Justin Holcomb of The Resurgence

20 02 2011

You may have just “Like” the Resurgence page on Facebook because your online friends did. But checking the website and reading articles is another thing. For me it’s a blessing. One author that really got me is Justin Holcomb, the director of Resurgence. He emphasizes culture and Christians should respond to it. I had the privilege to get in touch with Pastor Holcomb and ask him questions about culture, Christianity and social media.

ROCK: Hello Ptr Justin. In this post modern world who do you think gains the most influence? Christianity or culture? Do you think it’s good or bad?

Justin Holcomb: Well, I think it’s safe to say that the post-modern (western) world borrows it’s worldview from Christianity. Without the God of the universe ordering things and giving us tools like the laws of logic to understand the world, we wouldn’t have any understanding at all. This is a big statement but I believe Christianity gives us a basis for understanding but much of our culture simply doesn’t understand that. So there’s the over-arching concept of God’s created order and how we understand things. Then there is the issue of where we are in history. To me, it seems as though the church (in the west at least) is in decline. This is discouraging in a sense because we want to see more people come to love Jesus! On the other hand, it’s exciting that there is such an opportunity for us as missionaries.

ROCK: I read some of your articles and I notice how culture has this sort of spiritual side, sometimes culture has its own take on words we use as believers. Why is culture drifting that way? Is it just a fad?

Justin Holcomb: I think maybe what you’re getting at is that there is a sort of acceptable “spiritual talk” that people use that is socially acceptable? If so, I would agree. Our culture is in favor of someone being “spiritual but not religious”. The problem comes in when that “spirituality” isn’t centered on Jesus, his life, death and resurrection. If faith is devoid of that, it is an empty, self serving, false spirituality. Spirituality in America is focused on transformation and becoming a better you. And culture is obsessed with self so that concept of spirituality makes sense to people. But Christianity is saying our purpose in life isn’t to build up our own egos, accomplishments or well-being but to worship Jesus.

ROCK: Some Christians think that engaging with culture equals being worldly. What can you say to these Christians and how can we really have a sort of “balance’ between our faith and culture?

Justin Holcomb: Jesus went head-to-head on this issue with the Pharisees. The Pharisees lifted up a specific version of their Jewish culture by claiming that holiness was defined (in part) by the rituals you observe, the foods you do or do not eat, etc. Jesus said that it wasn’t the foods or lack of ritual that defiled a person but that it was the human heart that was the problem. Maybe from a contemporary perspective, some Christians say that a believer should never drink wine or watch a movie that has strong language. The problem with this outlook is that these “things” (movies, wine) are just “things”. They are not evil in and of themselves and they don’t cause people to sin. The motivation of the heart causes people to pervert these things and put sin into motion. By saying this, I am not advocating that every Christian is free to do whatever they want at any time. Every Christian needs to prayerfully use discernment in these matters and what may be okay for one person is not for another.

ROCK: This decade is define with the word “social networking” specifically Facebook. How does this phenomenon affected Christians on how they communicate to others?

Justin Holcomb: Social networking is a great tool for evangelism to be sure. But it can’t take the place of face to face conversation and evangelism or preaching. Social networking can be really helpful as an information tool but not necessarily as a way to enact transformation.

ROCK: How do we make a connection to this digital culture in terms of sharing the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Justin Holcomb: By making good use of it for the sake of the gospel. We share our faith and good Christian resources with others in a hope that they’ll meet Jesus, repent of sin and get connected to other like-minded believers.

ROCK: Do we really have to keep up with the culture just to make our message relevant and easily understood?

Justin Holcomb: Any good missionary is going to learn the language and customs of a people group so that they can effectively communicate the truths of the gospel. It’s important to understand the culture around us for the same mission-minded reasons. But in being a good student of the culture, we never compromise on the God’s truth, or personal holiness.

ROCK: Some articles you wrote features some giants of the faith like Luther, Calvin, Edwards etc. Are their messages still relevant in this digital age?

Justin Holcomb: Absolutely. A high view of Jesus and the Bible is the great heritage these men have passed down to us. That’s always timeless! Many people aren’t prepared (or not interested) in the depth of much of this scholarship. But the great thing about the technology and social media we have at our disposal is that we’re able to share the core ideas of these great thinkers and for those that are interested in reading more in-depth, the distribution channels for books and materials is literally just a click away.

ROCK: At a personal level, how did culture shape you as a Christian and a pastor?

Justin Holcomb: My aim is not to shape culture. My response to God’s love is to worship him, love my wife and children well, and serve on God’s mission where he has me. We need more pastors doing that and stop trying to change the world.

ROCK: Pastor Justin, you have this great organization, The Resurgence and a wonderful website http://www.theresurgence.org . Please tell us about it and invite those who are reading this.

Justin Holcomb: The Resurgence is a tool that is intended to serve Christian leaders in their ministries. We publish books, provide thousands of free online articles and blogs, we host conferences and events. Our goal is to provide leaders with tools so that they can build their churches and make disciples.





Fully Booked! Enjoying Christian Books: an Interview with Church Strengthening Ministry Publishing

21 05 2010

Aside from the Bible, we ought to read Christian books. Reading makes us grow and mature as Christians. We learn a lot and discover things about being a Christian .So we asked Ms. Joy C. Solina, Editorial Manager of Church Strengthening Ministry Publishing, about Christian books, what to read and more…

ROCK Ministry: What’s the importance of reading Christian books?

Joy C. Solina: Christian books are literature or reading material that are written from a Christian or biblical perspective. They help hone the reader’s mind to see things from a biblical point of view and learn to think that way. Otherwise, he is vulnerable to all sorts of ideas that do not necessarily reflect spiritual values or have anything to do with God. Good Christian books, next to the Bible, satisfy one’s spiritual hunger for knowledge and guidance in dealing with life’s struggles and questions. They have often inspired gifted Christian writers to fulfill their calling of changing people’s lives through the printed word. What would this world be like without the works of C.S. Lewis, John Stott, A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Rick Warren and Billy Graham?

ROCK Ministry: How do we cultivate reading as part of our Christian life?

Joy C. Solina: It pays to start early. If you grew up in a family that loved books, you already have an advantage. You have developed the interest and the habit, and all you have to do is choose the books you read. If you didn’t grow up reading books for pleasure, you can still develop the interest and habit. First of all, you have to believe in its overall spiritual benefit because if you’re not fully convinced that it will make you a better person and Christian, you’ve lost the battle before you’ve even started. Second, ask godly people you admire and respect what books they can recommend to you. They would most likely lend or even give you some books that have blessed them tremendously in their spiritual growth. It also goes without saying that reading the Bible everyday helps instill the discipline if not the passion for reading Christian books.

ROCK Ministry: Many Christians read but are not readers. How do you encourage them to pick up a book?

Joy C. Solina: If you’ve personally enjoyed a book, you won’t keep that to yourself. You would gladly recommend it to your family, your friends or people you’re discipling. Aside from a highly respected author’s name on a book, a friend’s recommendation is a good enough motivation to read that book. Like a coach, ask feedback after a couple of days or weeks. If your Christian friend stopped reading it, ask why. Point out which sections you enjoyed the most or have proven helpful in your life and encourage him to read some more. When he has finished the book, suggest another one and help him get a hold of a copy. Nothing is as effective as a friend’s encouragement and example.

ROCK Ministry: For first-timers, what advice or book do they need to read?

Joy C. Solina: If you mean first-timers in reading Christian books, I would encourage them to find out who’s the best Christian author in the genre that interests them the most. If a person is fond of historical novels, go look for one that was written by a Christian. If a person is fond of biographies, find one that’s about a well-known Christian. If a person is fond of deep, philosophical discussions, find one that’s written by a Christian philosopher or apologist. You may also look for books that can help meet a pressing or current need. If a person is new in the faith, offer books that explain what salvation means and how to grow as a Christian. If a person is having trouble with finances or people at work, look for Christian books that deal with this.

ROCK Ministry: How do Christians choose the right Christian book?

Joy C. Solina: The “right” Christian book will depend on your interest, your need, and your budget. Whichever of these three takes priority, ask your pastor, your friend who loves books, your discipler, and Christians you look up to for their recommendations. Check the blurbs of books for endorsements. Classical authors on the Christian faith such as C. S. Lewis, John Stott and A.W. Tozer are always a good choice. The latest best-selling title by a Christian author may not necessarily appeal to you unless someone you know personally benefitted from reading it. If you have learned a lot from a Bible study guide or curriculum, you may take note of books mentioned in the lessons or in a reading list given by the author(s).

RM: Is there a right time to read a particular type of book? Let’s say, a new Christian should read Christian living first then if he is mature enough, he can read about apologetics.

JCS: New Christians instinctively know that they need to study the basics of the faith for them to grow spiritually but I would not limit them to one kind of books. It will also depend on their level of reading “maturity” and the genre they’re interested in. Those who love to read can read “unexplored territory” to find out if they’re prepared for it or not. If a new Christian wants to know what apologetics is all about, he can go ahead and read it, then decide for himself if he can already handle it or not.

But to maximize one’s time (hardly anyone has all the time in the world to read anything), I would recommend a mix of serious study and light reading. Choose a tested and proven study material on growing spiritually, such as Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God or Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His, alongside an easy-to-read but insightfully loaded book, such as Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison’s Cat & Dog Theology or Rene Resurreccion’s Called to Excel.

RM: Church Strengthening Ministry has lots of titles to offer. Tell us what books you highly recommend to people.

JCS: We have a lot. I’ll try to be brief (if I could). This year we have local editions of best-selling Christian authors in the US, such as Gary Chapman (Five Love Languages, Five Love Languages for Singles, Five Love Languages for Teenagers), Nancy Leigh de Moss (Surrender, Brokenness, Lies Women Believe, Lies Young Women Believe), and Richard Blackaby (Unlimiting God).

For church lay leaders and pastors, James Garlow’s Partners in Ministry will enlighten and equip pastoral and ministry teams. Pastors can add variety to their exhortation when officiating the Lord’s Supper by using Jim Townsend’s Two-Minute Messages for Communion.

The Lord has blessed us with more local authors who have equally powerful messages to share to Filipino believers and Filipinos in general. Rene Resurreccion’s The Power to Create Righteous Wealth and The Heart of the Economic Crisis are positive reads for facing these financially challenging times. Bing Pajaron’s Parenting Teens gives much-needed advice and biblical principles to parents struggling to understand and raise their teenaged kids the right way. Campus minister Kevin Sanders’ second book with CSM, Learning the Hard Way, uses true-to-life stories sent by readers of his blog. Former mayor Marides Fernando’s Urbanidad explains how urban dwellers can live harmoniously under the law based on biblical insights shared by DZAS station manager and pastor Eric C. Maliwat who also has his first book with us, Maging Ubas Huwag Pasas.

A growing number of readers now prefer conversational Tagalog and need not feel limited in choosing books to read. For people in the workplace, Maloi Salumbides’ ProTips, Standing Tall through Tough Times and Shining Attitudes for Women at Work are ideal reads while traveling to and from the office or during break times. For young mothers, Bessie Rios’ Memo ni Mommy serves as daily doses of advice and encouragement. For couples wanting to communicate with each other better, Gary Chapman’s Now You’re Speaking My Language in conversational Tagalog offers practical tips on developing intimacy in your marriage. For anyone else who wants to relate to God more deeply, Joey Umali’s Mahal Ka ng Diyos contains selected messages from his well-loved early morning radio program, Hardin ng Panalangin.

For readers who also listen to MP3s and audio CDs, we have compiled Ed Lapiz’s messages into 15 audio CDs, each containing eight (8) messages, and have also produced three (3) audio books of his best-selling titles, I Will Survive, Pera o Puri and Sa Tao ang Ngawa.

RM: How does CSM choose a book to release? Do you choose it because this will be a best seller; it’s the fad or what?

JCS: A publisher always wishes each title it releases becomes a bestseller. But realistically, that will not happen. So what’s our basis for choosing which books to publish? Those that align with our company’s mission of strengthening the church, equipping the saints and reaching mankind for the Lord—what our name stands for. When we translate this mission into products, they fall into the following categories: evangelism, discipleship, worker training, family enrichment, Christian living, missions, and leadership.

Our core products have always been church-based curriculum (Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, discipleship and pastoral resources) which we consider our special niche in local Christian publishing. Therefore, we are on the constant lookout for curriculum writers, editorial board members, reviewers, translators and songwriters/arrangers.

When it comes to books, we follow the same basic guideline. For imported titles, we choose the titles from publishers’ catalogs, request review copies from the publishers, have them read and reviewed, then seek republishing rights. For local titles, we choose the authors and/or manuscripts based on certain criteria, such as writers’ credentials, writing style, unique approach, timeliness of message, theological stance, etc.

RM: Just an observation, why do most Pinoy Christian readers prefer foreign titles than home grown titles?

JCS: We haven’t gotten over the colonial mentality or the Pinoy’s propensity to be mesmerized by anything foreign. But that is significantly changing. Our line-up of local authors and conversational Tagalog titles is increasing. More and more Pinoys are buying locally written books, but the preference for foreign authors (especially the famous ones) is still strong.

For one thing, foreign titles have the uncontested advantage of “marketing” or media mileage. They’re more exposed to the international market because of the much promoted success or wide following of the authors’ ministries in their home countries. We can already learn something from that picture. We do have gifted Pinoy Christian leaders who have a lot to say that will benefit a much wider audience. The challenge lies in putting those messages into well-written, attractive, affordable print form and getting it into the hands of readers who will appreciate it the most.

RM: I’ve checked your website and you carry Ed Lapiz titles. Tell us more about him and his books.

JCS: Ed Lapiz’s books have enjoyed huge sales in mainstream bookstores for years. His success as an author is the exception to what you previously said about Pinoys preferring foreign titles to local ones. I can only explain the secret to his publishing success as his ability to communicate flawlessly and to teach deep, biblical truths simply to any Pinoy who reads his book. When I asked a friend why she likes reading Ed Lapiz, she said in Tagalog, “I don’t have to analyze further or ask someone to explain to me what he means. I get it right away.” His radio program, Day by Day, raises the ratings of any radio station that airs it. We are, therefore, so privileged to enter into an agreement with him to exclusively distribute his titles and will soon publish two new book titles from him.

RM: Please tell us more about CSM, what you do and how they can contact you. What can we look forward to in the coming year from you?

JCS: In keeping with our name, we also publish curriculum for churches and Christian schools, conduct training seminars and workshops for church workers and pastors, and produce audio books and videos for equipping and outreach. We strive to keep up with the changing times by studying how technology affects the way people communicate and learn. Thus, we have added audio (MP3 format) and video CDs to our list of products.

We have just produced our first one-year children’s Sunday school curriculum pack called Faith Grower containing free CDs for the music and reproducible teaching pictures. We plan to release another one-year Sunday school curriculum pack for all ages with a separate CD of new songs by the end of this year. We also released our first children’s music video entitled Songs for Jesus that was quickly sold out. Another children’s music video entitled God of Creation will be released soon.

In our last training season (November to April), we organized over 30 training workshops for Vacation Bible School and children’s Sunday school for local church workers and volunteers in partnership with PCBS bookstores as well as Thompson Chain Bible Institute seminars for pastors and preachers all over the country. We will expand our training program to include youth and adult Sunday school teacher workshops, parenting seminars, and trainings for school teachers.

This year we started offering music clinics for worship teams. Some of our clinic instructors are our video “authors” (Bernie Duran for Learning to Play Bass Guitar, Dehann Ballesteros for Guitar for Beginners, Relly Villanueva for Drums for Beginners). Other instructional videos in our Music Station line-up are Worship Leading by Roy Fabella and Voice Lessons by Lyn Fabella, the husband and wife team of Windsong. We are exploring possibilities for training accredited facilitators of these instructional videos.

We’re the first Christian publisher to offer audio books. We have released 22 titles by local authors: Leah Darwin’s Yes! I’m a Pastor’s Wife, Eric Maliwat’s Maging Ubas Huwag Pasas, Maloi Salumbides’ ProTips in 3 volumes, Standing Tall and Shining Attitudes, and Ed Lapiz’s messages in 15 volume CDs. We have just released three (3) audio books by Ed Lapiz and three (3) new Ed Lapiz videos soon. Our latest MP3 audio CD title is John Maxwell’s Leadership 101 containing nine of his books.

CSM also offers design, typesetting and printing services for your church and school. Our building has facilities that churches and other groups can use for seminars and corporate events, and guest units for travelers at affordable rates. We are located very near the international airport or NAIA 1 and can be contacted by phone (8527301 to 02) or email (direct@csm-publishing.com). You may also visit our website (www.csm-publishing.com) for a complete listing of products, updates and upcoming events.

RM: Thank you granting us an interview and God bless your publishing ministry. God bless also those Christians who read and support your books.





Eye Candies: An Interview with Justin Jackson of Central Films

5 05 2010

You may have catch it on Youtube, someone might have posted it at Facebook or featured on our Soul Fuel gatherings. No matter how you have seen it, you were blown away. Videos like The Truth, God’s Pie and Good-O-Meter connected and sticks lessons about God in your life. We recently got a hold of Justin Jackson, Creative Director of Central Christian Church and talked about these videos and more.

ROCK Ministry: How did you start making these short films? Where did you get the idea?

Justin Jackson: I work for a church in Las Vegas. We are committed to using story and creativity to help communicate the life-saving truths of the Bible. Film/video is not only a powerful way to do so, but also a very reproducible way to do so. In other words, live stage elements such as drama and interactive speaker elements are powerful, but only at the time they are done and only for the people who are in the room. Video has a life of it’s own after the live event is over.

ROCK Ministry: How do you plan in making these videos? Do you consult the church first for the need or do you have those light bulb moments that needs to be laid into film?

Justin Jackson: My church gives me an incredible luxury: they plan in advance. Sometimes 6 months in advance. This gives me the opportunity to think and soak on the topics that we will be addressing. We accumulate ideas over time, pitch them and get approval. Then we go to work writing and producing the videos.

ROCK Ministry: Who are the actors in those video presentations? Do you pick them or did they volunteer? Does their real life character sometimes reflect on the roles they play? I think what they are in real life makes them play their role better.

Justin Jackson: They are all volunteers who were hand chosen. And yes, if a character calls for a certain look or personality, we’ll often ‘play to the strengths’ of the actors / volunteers that I have access to.

ROCK Ministry: In producing a video what materials and equipment you usually use? How about the technical stuff, who are the people behind it? Justin Jackson: Most people think that the camera is the most important piece of equipment, but I find audiences are much more demanding of good audio than good images. Good audio means you have clear, echo-free dialog, engaging, fitting music and convincing sound effects.

That said, two of the videos you referenced don’t have dialog or footage, but rather are graphical videos. These are created using Adobe After Effects. This is in invaluable tool. Lately we have invested in DSLR technology. These are amazing little cameras that produce incredible imagery. They are opening up whole new worlds or possibilities for us. We currenlt have a Canon 7D and a Canon T2i. We also have 3 Panasonic hpx 170s.

Currently our team consists of myself (Writer, Director, Producer, Shooter, Sound Designer and Editor) and David Tate (Shooter, Editor, Effect Supervisor, Colorist, After Effects Artist and Sound Mixer).

ROCK Ministry: Among those you produced which is your favorite and why? Justin Jackson: Right now my personal favorite is a graphical video we did called Hijacked. I got to voice it and do all the sound design. David had a lot of fun animating it. You can watch it here.

http://www.youtube.com/thatjustinguy#p/u/5/H_Q9Ar4-Fe8

ROCK Ministry: Tell me how can we present a slick, humorous and cool video while it really connects to the viewers and most of all, maintaining it biblical? Justin Jackson: Well, I think it all comes down to honesty. The reason God’s Pie connects with so many people is because it’s how we feel… or at least, it’s how I feel. Many times, I felt exactly like that guy who just wants there to be a little left over for him… and then realizes he has left nothing for God.

Once we had the visual analogy, the direction was very easy. Good ideas are always simple, too. Not simplistic… but simple. If it takes you 2 minutes to explain a 2 minute video, it’s too complex. If you can explain your idea in a sentence or two (and have people like it) then you are on to something. And at the core of every story, whether it be a 2 hour movie or a 2 minute video, is truth.

The more universal and ‘felt’ the truth is, the more it connects with an audience. Fortunately for us, the Bible is full of truths. The trick is conveying those truths in a way that is understandable and emotional. I’m afraid there is no formula for this. It’s just something you shoot for.

ROCK Minstry: We have shown your videos in our monthly gatherings called Soul Fuel; we got a lot of reactions on your videos. We would like to list some of it here and can you give us insights or interesting facts on these videos.

1. God’s Pie

Justin Jackson: This has been downloaded and shown by 2,000 churches. The volunteer actor who played God is frequently recognized on the street even when travels to other cities. He’s lost track of how many times strangers have offered to buy him a piece of pie.

2. The Truth

Justin Jackson: This was based on an Argentinean political ad. Granger Community Church was the first to spin the technique of this ad (the reversing lines) into a church video. We made our own version – with the music arranged and performed by one of our worship leaders.

3. Good-O-Meter

Justin Jackson: We did a Man on the Street interview in Las Vegas where we asked people, “How do you get to heaven.” 48 of 50 people said, “By being a good person.” I wanted a simple, visual way to show the Christian principle of Grace, and how it differs from the predominant public opinion. I think the most shocking thing about this video is the bitter, vitriolic comments we get. People are enraged that God would operate this way. I honestly thought it would be good news for people, but there seems to be a basic human need for self-right(eous)ness. People want heaven on their own terms, not God’s. This video (lighthearted as it is) either produces heartfelt gratitude or angry / searing bombast.

4. Love Lesson Learned (not yet shown but coming soon)

Justin Jackson: This was the easiest video I ever wrote. It’s my story. I was married at a young age to a non-Christian. It ended in divorce. This devastating experience drew me to God and He accepted me. Healed me. And most surprisingly, wanted to use me. Most churches consider the divorced to be damaged goods. Outsiders. Failures. Second-class Christians. This is a tragedy. It’s a misrepresentation of God’s character. God restores the repentant. He rebuilds the broken. And then uses them.

Its saddens my heart that more churches have not shown this video. I’m so thankful for Youtube. I pray God will land this message in front of people when they need it most.

ROCK Ministry: For those who want to do this for their church or as an individual what advise can you give to them?

Justin Jackson: Technology is getting cheaper and cheaper. Blogs and web-training are more and more prolific. If you have an interest in making films, it has never been easier. My advice: start. Just do it. Learn by trying, failing, correcting, succeeding and trying again.

1) buy a camera like the Cannon t2i ($900)

2) buy a good mic like a Wired Countryman b6 and plug it into a zoom h4n ($350 + $300)

3) listen to podcasts like http://www.izzyvideo.com or http://www.thec47.com (small fee + free)

4) read The DV Rebel by Stu Manshowitz ($20)

5) buy an iMac with Final Cut Express ($1,500 – $2,000)

For under $4k you are ready to go. ROCK Ministry: In closing, please tell us your ministry, your church and how can they view the videos.

Justin Jackson: My personal Youtube site is here.

http://www.youtube.com/thatjustinguy

Our official Central Films page is here.

http://www.vimeo.com/centralfilms

You can purchase and download several of our videos here.

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/producers/124/Central-Christian-Church

Thanks for the great questions! And thanks for all you do to bring attention to faith, truth and God.

ROCK (Reaching Out for Christ’s Kingdom) Ministry has a monthly gathering called Soul Fuel. We presented some of Central Film’s videos and we got a lot of feedback on this. Catch more videos (including Justin’s creation) on Soul Fuel. If you missed out some of them you can catch them at ROCK’s Facebook Fan Page or check those videos below:





Sex Sold: An Interview about Prostitution with Mastering Life Ministry

12 03 2010

We always hear these stories about prostitutes in some campus. They are students by day and prostitute by night. Others go by groups to a certain beach destination and sell their bodies. Its hard to imagine the oldest profession in the world can be found in an institution that promotes morality and dignity.

ROCK Ministry recently got a privilege to interview David Kyle Foster a former prostitute, now a pastor and heads Mastering Life Ministry and Pure Passion TV. We talk this very sensitive and controversial topic and we learned a lot from this issue.

ROCK Ministry:  First why prostitute yourself? Is their no other alternative to chose from for an individual? Do these individuals count what will cost them to sell their bodies? What really goes through their minds?

David Kyle Foster: The reasons people prostitute themselves vary widely. For me, I was very angry at God and wanted to do something that would demonstrate my extreme anger at Him. I happened to be at a location where prostitution was going on and accepted an offer from someone.

Financial need drives most prostitutes to do it. They are generally people who are being propositioned often anyway, so they decide to meet their need that way because it is the quickest way. They often dot not seriously consider the dangers because their need is so great.

ROCK Ministry:  What are the reasons why some goes to prostitution? I think no one will go to the mirror one day and say “I will prostitute myself today”.

David Kyle Foster: Sometimes people are violently forced into prostitution and sometimes they are tricked into it and then fed drugs and are beaten to keep them doing it.

Others continue because they are sex addicts and it becomes a way to satiate their unquenchable sexual appetite.

ROCK Ministry: I know that you have talked to people who gone to this line of “work”. What was the first time experience for them? How did they start? Do they look for a pimp or what?
David Kyle Foster: Every story is completely different. Some people are sold into prostitution by their parents or guardians. Others are lured by pimps. No one goes looking for a pimp. Male prostitutes almost never work for pimps.

ROCK Ministry:  What are the emotional and mental effects of having sex every night and getting paid for it? Especially for students how can they live a normal life by day and be a prostitute at night?
David Kyle Foster: Emotionally it is very difficult. It makes you feel less than human, worthless, perverted and sick. It is likely that the person already felt this way about themselves which is why they even considered prostitution to begin with. But to actually do it makes you feel like dirt.

ROCK Ministry: Are their any physical abuse? Any horror story you might have heard?
David Kyle Foster:  Every male prostitute gets beaten by about 10% of those who pick them up. For females, it is probably closer to 40%. A smaller percentage also attempts to torture the prostitute. It’s only a matter of time and luck before it happens. People tried to murder me on 3 occasions during my 7 years as a prostitute.

RM: what diseases they might catch in having different sex partner? Are they curable? How about HIV? Do you have cases that got AIDS?

DF: It is guaranteed that a prostitute will contract many sexually transmitted diseases, no matter how careful they try to be. Even condoms do not prevent some diseases like HPV virus, which eventually causes cancer. HIV is also prevalent. I have had many friends and acquaintances die from AIDS.

RM: I don’t think some of them really like this kind of work. But is their a point in time that they actually enjoy what they are doing?

DF: If the prostitute is a sex addict, there are times when they enjoy the work on the surface, but the underlying self-hatred and self-disgust never goes away.

RM: Does nymphomania develop to prostitutes? What other abnormal behavior do they get in this?

DF: Some prostitutes are nymphomaniacs or sex addicts and even more male prostitutes are satyrs or sex addicts. The consequences of this behavior are very severe. Demonic spirits from customers enter the prostitutes, so they end up with a great need for deliverance, for example. Needless to say, they are rendered incapable of ever having a normal, satisfying sexual relationship once they marry without significant inner healing prayer and ministry.

RM: Can a prostitute especially students sell their bodies without being hooked into smoking, drinking or even drugs?

DF:  It is extremely rare for a prostitute not to develop smoking, drug and/or drinking problems because they need those substances to cover up the psychic pain of their lives.

RM: Do straight prostitute eventually end up being a homosexual?
DF: Male prostitutes who start out mostly straight will inevitably program their minds and bodies to respond more and more homosexually over time if they are having sex with other men.

RM: How about those who will do it “just once” and their out? I mean just to pay this one tuition fee or pay a project for the school and that’s it. Nothing to follow. What can you say to them?

DF: Prostitution is like quicksand. Once you enter it, you cannot escape consequences. There will be spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical consequences that can be quite severe from the very start.

RM: Are prostitutes still longing for a real relationship? Even if they feel dirty do they still hope to have a family? Do they think someone will get serious to them in spite of what they have done?

DF: Prostitutes desperately long to be normal and to have normal relationships. However, their behavior prevents them from having that. Just the fear of their spouse finding out – that alone can ruin the peace they otherwise might have in a marriage. It is extremely rare for someone to fall in love with someone they know has been a prostitute. It happens in Hollywood movies, but almost never in real life.

RM: For guys and even girls who found out their partner is or use to be a prostitute, how can they face this issue? How can they forgive their partner and still be with them or call it a split? How can they live out their relationship day by day thinking his or her partner is a prostitute?

DF: No one should stay in a relationship with someone who is a prostitute. You never know what day they will bring home to AIDS virus, or some other incurable disease.

If they fall in love with someone who used to be a prostitute, that is another story. They should take measures to be certain, however, that the person has truly been transformed from that way of thinking and living, and have been checked out physically by a doctor.

RM: How can a prostitute forgive that one who led them to prostitution? Maybe a partner or a family member who force them to this work.
DF: Sometimes only God can give us the power to forgive someone, but He does do that if we want Him to.

RM: What if someone wants to get out of this lifestyle? What is the first thing they have to do? Maybe someone reading this and they want to get out. Is their hope for them?

DF: A person who wants out need only turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, cleansing, healing and transformation.

They need to get into fellowship with believers who are faithful to God’s Word and who study it together and pray for each other.

They need to find a church that practices intimate worship of God, which is spiritual warfare.

I ended up attending a large church that also had small home fellowship groups, where I got alot of prayer. I also went through various healing and deliverance sessions at conferences and at a YWAM training school.

RM: How do they get back the respect for themselves? How can they go back to society with dignity and without guilt? How do healing the wounds starts? Who can they approach?
DF: Only God can give them their self-respect back. They need to pursue an intimate relationship with God where He speaks worth and value into their hearts, and where they come to experience the fact that Jesus’ blood has cleansed them from all sin. They need to practice believing 1 JN 1:9 and operate from what God says rather than from what they feel or have felt in the past. The Bible says that they are a new creation if they have repented and made Jesus Christ truly the Lord of their life. They need to learn and practice spiritual warfare. Dean Sherman’s book, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian really helped me.

As for who to approach, they need to carefully watch people in church and see who are the ones who pray for and care about sexually broken people, and approach them.

RM:  I remember this one story about Ravi Zacharias. He was witnessing in a red light district and a prostitute say something like” If Jesus can really get us out this, how can He help us to find our daily living?” What practical help can a Christian do for these people?

DF: Our churches need to have outreaches to people who are coming out of these kinds of highly dysfunctional lifestyles. We need outreaches to former prostitutes, and human trafficking victims, and strippers and homosexuals and you name it. Pray for God to send those who can minister to such populations as Christ would and approach your pastors and entreat them to financially support such outreaches. As I read the Bible, these kinds of outreaches were among Jesus’ favorite!

People coming out of sex trafficking, for example, often need a place to live for a year or so while being trained in job skills as well as discipled in God’s ways. The church should finance these things. It is infinitely more important than plush carpeting and all the other excesses that we too often concern ourselves with.

RM: Thank you for this interview. We learn alot from you. Can you tell us about your ministry, what does it do and how can we reach you.

DF: Our ministry (www.MasteringLife.org) does 2 things: 1. we reach out to sexually bound and broken people with the news that God can set anyone free from anything, teaching them how He does it, and 2. we equip the Church to do the same.

We are trying to reach as many people as possible and so now put all our efforts into media outreaches, whether it be our weekly TV program (www.PurePassion.us), our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/purepassiontv), our iPhone app (which should be ready in a few weeks), our multi-front internet outreaches, Google ads, and our teaching resources (DVDs, CDs, books).

Currently our Pure Passion TV program is seen on 11 TV networks around the world in English, Bulgarian, Romanian, Spanish, Arabic and Russian, and we hope that we will be seen in every country and every main language very soon.





Eat This Book: Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

12 03 2010

Everybody got excited with this book. Not just because we gave it for free but the central theme of this book. Its rarely we see a subject about salvation dealt this way. So we gave Fifty Reasons… book five reasons why we like this book:

  1. It answers the “Why” questions. Everybody wants answers to why questions. Fifty thought provoking answers drawn from the New Testament. Some are common, some are very intriguing. John Piper opens those common answers then expounded with clarity and those intriguing answers, that we often miss, were given the magnifying glass treatment for us to zero in and intimately know more.
  2. The theme is about salvation and we only say “Wow. Jesus did all that!” You will never look at Christ redemptive act the same way again. It tackles also justification, sanctification and future glorification.
  3. An easy to read book. Because every reason or (God’s purpose as the book calls it) acts like a chapter which is just 2 pages long. You can actually finish this 127 pgs book in 1 day or so. Done in sort of a “countdown style”, you want to read it until you get to the “Top 50”.
  4. Not only is it a Christian living book but also an evangelistic one. It represents the gospel within those reasons. It mentions salvation by faith alone and eternal security to name a few.
  5. It’s not just a Christian living or evangelistic book but you can use it as a devotional book. Those fifty reasons can be use in a fifty day devotionals. Every chapter starts with Bible verses. Talk about usefulness.

My Top Five Favorite Reasons (and must read reason):

  1. Reason #5 To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners
  2. Reason #7 To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us
  3. Reason #22 To Bring Us to God
  1. Reason #28 To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry
  2. Reason #37 To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love

Quotables:

“Imitation is not salvation. But salvation brings imitation. Christ

is not given to us first as model, but as Savior. In the experience

of the believer, first comes the pardon of Christ, then the pattern of Christ.” pg. 92-93

“When all is said and done, God is the gospel. Gospel means

“good news.” Christianity is not first theology, but news.” pg. 62

John Piper’s “Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die” will give the reader a better understanding of Jesus Christ of why He came to die. Powerful read for everyone who seeks more depth on why God send His Son for us.

This book is available for FREE to ANY one in Lyceum of the Philippines University Batangas City campus Please contact leaders and advisers of ROCK campus ministry for your copy. Also you can download this book FREE (PDF format) by clicking here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_pojc/bpojc_all.pdf





Truth Twisting: An interview about Cults with Fran Shankey of Tower to Truth Ministry

12 03 2010

ROCK Ministry: First Lets define an important word. What is a cult?
Fran Shankey: The word cult comes from the Latin word cultus and originally carried the meaning “to worship or give reverence to a deity.” So, originally, the term cult could be applied to any group of religious believers: Southern Baptists, Mormons, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Hindus or Muslims. However, as words change over the years the word cult wouldn’t be applied like this anymore but means something else.

I deal with what is sometimes referred to as non-Christian cults, which would be any group that claims to be Christian but distorts, perverts or deviates from Orthodox Christianity. It’s important to understand that a cult will deny one or more of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Essential doctrines are those that are indispensable beliefs for a true Christian because they are integral to the Person of God and the gospel message. These would be doctrines like the Deity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the Trinity, salvation by God’s grace through faith apart from works, the bodily resurrection of Christ and His second coming.

Teachings that are important, but would not brand a group as a cult if they differed from your views would be, for example, the timing of end time’s events such as the rapture of the church, speaking in tongues, Calvinism, how often communion is shared in the local church, etc. Again, these teachings are important but not ones we should divide over.

ROCK Ministry: What are the marks of a cult and why are they dangerous?
Fran Shankey: The marks of a cult can vary from group to group. Not all cults will have all of the following marks, but will usually have at least 1 or more. Although the list isn’t exhaustive, some of the marks of a cult would be:
1) A deviation from essential doctrines of the Scriptures, as mentioned already.
2) An authority figure whose word is final on all matters. This could be an individual who calls himself a prophet, or an organization that governs all affairs. They often claim to be hearing directly from God, or are commissioned by Him in some way.
3) Cults may strip you of your former identity. Some cults in an effort to conform a person to their organization will go as far as replacing one’s personal clothing with the groups. We saw this in the UFO cult group Heaven’s Gate in the late 1990’s. When found dead in a house in California, all were wearing the same color sneakers. Some cults require you to give over your bank accounts and all personal possessions to the group. Some will even change your name or replace your family members with themselves. Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, from the Unification Church, have done this. They’re referred to by members as their ‘True Parents’
4) Cults often use mind control on members. One form of this is information control which filters outside information away from the group, such as TV, radio, phone or internet access. A less extreme example is the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) which warns members about reading any religious material other than its own. That’s why JWs will refuse your tracts but have no problem handing you theirs.
5) Behavior control is another make of a cult. Cult groups often keep their members so busy with the group activity that they have little time to rest and think. The Moonies (Unification Church) do this as many of their members are out early in the morning selling flowers and come home very late at night exhausted.
6) Fear tactics are often employed by cults. Most non-Christian cults claim that adhering to the group is the only way a person can be saved and will tell its members that leaving the group will result in severe disfavor, discipline or damnation from God.
ROCK Ministry: How do they differ from Protestants or Bible believing Christians? Why is it so easy for people to lump a true Christian and a cult member?
Fran Shankey: Cults generally differ from Protestant/Bible believing churches for all of the reasons I already mentioned above. They deny one or more of the essential doctrines of the faith and/or use some type of control over their members to keep them under the group’s power. A good Bible church would never challenge anyone from thinking or acting independently, reading the Bible on their own, nor would it manipulate anyone’s personal life or claim one must read its own literature as a requirement for salvation. It also will never put its own writings on par with Scripture as, for example, the Mormons and Unification church do. Also, no sound Bible church will ever claim to be the only true church and the only way a person can be saved.
The reason why people lump zealous Christians in with a cult is basically because they don’t know what a cult is, nor do they usually know what a Bible believing church is. It’s basically done out of ignorance on their part. Plus unbelievers lack the understanding that when someone gets saved, they have a profound love for Jesus that overflows into their daily life. This zealousness for God is abnormal to the unbeliever since they don’t have the Holy Spirit so they lump them together with weird religious groups they see in the news.
ROCK Ministry: What’s the difference between a cult and false religion?

Fran Shankey: Good question. The main world religions today are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. These are not cults. They aren’t all true, of course only Christianity is true, but none of these is a cult. They’re all separate religions that don’t claim to be Christian, so they can’t be examined as such. They have their own particular doctrines, teachings and holy books that they hold to. However, there are cults within these religions. For example, a cult of Islam is the Nation of Islam. A cult of Hinduism is the Hare Krishna’s. My ministry, Tower to Truth, concentrates on exposing and evangelizing cults that would claim to be Christian, but, of course, are not.

RM: If someone handed you a cult literature say a magazine or tract, what would you initially expect to see or read from those materials?
FS: Probably a lot of truth. Remember, cults do teach truth. The problem is that it’s mixed with error. Rodent poison usually contains 98% ingredients that are harmless to the rodent. Only 2% of it is poisonous. Satan didn’t tell all lies to Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. This is why cults are hard to detect for the average person. Unless you have good discernment and are studied up on the subject of false teaching, many cults initially come across as just another Christian denomination. It’s important to have a good knowledge of the Bible, to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and test the spirits (1 John 4:1) because a cult will reveal itself in time by its teachings and practices.
For example, the 1st article of faith from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost”. Sounds good to me! But upon further inspection into the doctrines of Mormonism, you’ll find out that they believe in a totally different God, Jesus and Holy Ghost. Their vocabulary is the same as ours, but their definitions are much different.
RM: We use the same Bible but how come some eventually use it and turn into cults?
FS: Why groups go astray and become cults is not always clear. The Bible gives us clues. Man is inherently sinful (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12) and, because of this, likes to take advantage of others. Some people start cults because they want power and control. It feeds their flesh. They like the attention, women, money, fame. Peter talks about these people in scathing detail. For instance, 2 Peter 2:14 says these false teachers have “eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls”.
Others start cults perhaps because they are deceived themselves and truly believe they have the truth. I have sometimes wondered if Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, really had some of the supernatural visions he claimed. Personally, I don’t know. Remember, 2 Co 11:14, 15 says that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light and his ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness. If Smith did have encounters with an angel, we can be sure from the angel’s message that he certainly wasn’t from God. Whether men start cults with full knowledge that they’re duping others or whether they are demonically deceived themselves is difficult to fully know. Maybe some of both is true. 2 Timothy 3:13 says that “evil men will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived”. It seems to suggest that after a while, you begin to buy your own lie.
RM: Some of the cults here in the Philippines dates from WW1 and WW2. How do these times significantly contribute to the development of cults?
FS: I would have to take a stab at this one since I never researched this. I would say that cults prey on man’s fears. Certainly fear is at its pinnacle in times of uncertainty like war. Cults promise men peace and happiness apart from the wicked ways of the world. They promote themselves as safe havens that have the blessing of God and naturally draw those who are looking for meaning, security and satisfaction in life. These groups often advertise a utopian society but never deliver the goods.
RM: Some readers might say that we are so judgmental and unloving about these people. What can you say about that?
FS: If ‘we’ is referring to Christians at large, I would have to say that, sadly, some of us are judgmental and unloving toward these people. This plays into the cult’s hand as the leaders often tell the group that the world will attack and hate them. I would hope anyone reading this interview, or anyone calling themselves a Christian, wouldn’t be like this. Jesus had compassion on the multitudes because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.
This can be tricky because the Bible has some very scathing descriptions and warnings about false teachers. It describes them, among other things, as beasts, dogs and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps a good way to reconcile this is that Jesus was compassionate with the multitudes but had very harsh words against the religious leaders who led them astray. It’s easy to get angry at people who pervert the gospel since its so dear to us, but we must strive, as Paul wrote, to speak the truth in love. This should be every apologist’s life verse.
But there is nothing unbiblical about calling someone’s doctrine wrong and trying to persuade them to the truth. Some Christians feel as though any negative remark against anyone’s religion is judgmental and unloving. I would like to see this verse in the New Testament since I haven’t read it yet. To say nothing or, even worse, to encourage someone in their error is perhaps the most unloving thing we can do. Sitting idly by watching others go to hell isn’t in my definition of love. The New Testament is full of verses that exhort Christians to share the truth with people in error, to correct those in opposition (2 Timothy 2:25) and to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The Apostle Paul didn’t go into Corinth or Athens and say “Oh, well, as long as you really believe in your religion, who am I to judge?” He traveled throughout the Grecian world telling idol worshippers they had the wrong God and that they needed to repent and put their faith in the only true Savior, Jesus Christ.
RM: Are those people in cults aware that they might be wrong? Well I think they can sense they are different from others but have this sort of skepticism to prompt them to check what is truth?
FS: People in cults are people. Real people have doubts. I think most of us would say that at some time in our walk we’ve asked ourselves if we’re sure Christianity is really true or if God truly exists. Questioning our beliefs is a normal part of being human. Although cult groups try to dissuade independent thinking, they can’t stop it altogether. So, yes, people in cults ask themselves these things too. Does their questioning lead them to seek the truth? Maybe. Hopefully. Can God send someone who knows Jesus to them at just the right time when they doubt? Definitely. Many ex-cult members began their exodus from the group by questioning the group’s teachings. The questioning is usually bottled up inside but its there.
RM: How can someone get out of cults? What are the steps in finding freedom from it?
FS: Getting out of a cult isn’t like leaving the Baptist church to go to the Lutheran church down the street. You have to understand that it’s often leaving your entire known world. If someone was in the group long enough, they often will leave many friends and close family behind, maybe forever. All they know, do, and lived for will be forsaken.
Many ex-cultists, even when out of the group for considerable time are scared to death to go to another church. The cult mentality still dictates their thinking even though they’re inactive. Depending on the length of time spent inside, leaving a cult is painful, frightening, lonely and bleak. If you know someone in this position they need a very loving and patient person to walk them through the process. There are groups online that specialize in getting former members of specific cult groups together. Sometimes they meet together once a month at someone’s house or at a restaurant. These groups can be invaluable and places where confused people can meet others who have trod down this terrifying road before them, and lived to tell about it. One thing we need to remember is that just getting someone out of a cult doesn’t mean the job is done. It’s a two-fold process. Out of the cult and into the truth.
RM: Schools here have religious freedom and are tolerant to spirituality. How can we be still maintain respect to their religious freedom and point them to truth? How do you witness to someone who is your friend or classmate or a professor? I think that’s very hard to do.
FS: Religious freedom is a good thing. We should be able to choose which religion we want to follow. Jesus never forced conversions. He invited men to Himself. I meet people in my daily life from all sorts of religious backgrounds. I’ve learned a lot about them and their beliefs by asking questions. I try to maintain an outward interest in them as individuals and show respect to them, even though I disagree with their religion. Questions are one of the best ways to witness. It shows you’re interested in the person plus it allows you to place thought provoking questions into their minds. You can ask questions to anyone whether you have known them all your life or just met 5 minutes ago. If you are witnessing to a religious person you may want to check out some books by Ron Rhodes. He has a series of books called Reasoning from the Scriptures. He has them on a variety of groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Roman Catholicism. Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason (str.org) also does a great work regarding sharing your faith, especially with those with a postmodern worldview. Although we should equip ourselves the best we can, the best witness can be as simple as just sharing a simple gospel presentation and what Jesus did for you. The man in John 9 said “I was blind but now I see”. Simple and to the point.
RM: Some may come to you to talk about their religion. How would you graciously decline such conversations? When is the time to give them answers to their beliefs?
FS: Personally I love it when people come to me and want to talk about their religion. I just wish it would happen more! I might not ever decline, as long as the time was appropriate. Paul said to be ready in season and out of season. Think about it, there are only 2 times we need to share our faith: in season and out of season. The rest of the time we have an excuse. Ha! If someone comes to you and you don’t have the time or feel unprepared, the best way to handle that is to ask them if you could speak to them at another time that you both agree on. This will give you time to pray, prepare and become more confident in your witness.
RM: I love your radio show “Test All Things”. It’s short but very informative. Tell us about it, your ministry, website and how can we contact you for further information.
FS: Test all Things is an extension of Tower to Truth Ministries. Tower to Truth was started about 10 years ago to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The name Tower to Truth is a play on the word Watchtower (from the Watchtower to the truth). The radio show began in October, 2004 and it continues airing twice a week on WVCH in the Philadelphia, PA (USA) area. Since beginning, the topics have grown considerably but the show is focused on apologetics, exposing false teachings and equipping Christians to share their faith more effectively.
My web site is at http://www.towertotruth.net You’ll find articles and a huge inventory of downloadable mp3 files of my radio show and personal testimonies of former cult members. Feel free to contact me by email at help@towertotruth.net or by phone at 610-513-5525. Thank you for this opportunity and God bless your ministry!