Basta Advice ni Kuya: ROCK interviews Kuya Kevin Sanders

19 06 2010

Love, sex and relationships. These three grabs Pinoys interest. You don’t believe me? Well check out tons of Mexican and Korean telenovelas out there. Or your neighborhood sari-sari store pocketbooks for rent. Or try to tune in the radio to hear Joe D’ Mangos wannabes. Filipinos love talking about these topics.

ROCK Ministry recently got a hold with Kuya Kevin Sanders, a campus minister, author and host of the radio show “Basta Love Life” and asked some questions about his blog, books, radio and campus ministry.

ROCK Ministry: How did all this things happen? Did you plan all this? When did you start being a kuya?

Kuya Kevin: I became a Christian when I was very young.  A few years later (my teenage years) I felt that God was calling me to serve Him.  It didn’t make much sense to me at the time because I’m more of an introvert (shy type).  But God has continued to confirm this decision.

To make a long story short, I got interested in missions when I was in college.  I told God I would be willing to go if He would make a way.  He eventually did, and I ended up here.  One of the reasons I chose Manila is I really wanted to work with college students.  There are hundreds of thousands of them here, so I have plenty of work to do.  This is my dream job!

ROCK Ministry:  There are lots of people especially in the media that has this love advice segments or columns. Dr. Love copycats are like mushroom here. So tell us what makes your advice different from those gazillions out there who wants to take a stab on someone’s relationship problem?

Kuya Kevin: The show was started in part as a response to some of the shallow, worldly advice that seems so prevalent on some shows.  Erwin (my co-host) got the idea while on a late-night bus ride.  He heard this radio “counselor” telling a caller that same-sex relationships are OK as long as you are in love (definitely not what the Bible teaches).  We started talking about doing our own show–a show based on biblical principles.

I think what sets us apart is the biblical approach.  We stick to the Word and try to make it very practical and relevant.

We are also careful to avoid legalism.  The Bible gives us some clear guidelines (such as saving sex for marriage), but I’m afraid some Christian teachers and authors go a little overboard.  It makes me think of Paul’s words: “Do not go beyond what is written” (1st Conrinthians 6:4).

ROCK Ministry:    One question that rises is: you are American, so how can you give advice to Pinoy considering the culture background?

Kuya Kevin: Well, part of the answer is this: many of the issues I deal with are common among youth/singles all around the world.  Sometimes I find myself personally relating to questions I’m asked–things I’ve experienced myself when I was a student in the States.

But culture does play a role.  I had already lived in the Philippines for a few years before I started doing purity seminars–I didn’t start this as soon as I stepped off the plane.  In other words, I had a pretty decent understanding of Filipino culture by the time this aspect of ministry developed.

ROCK Ministry: Wow. So what can you say about Pinoys and how they handle their love life?

Kuya Kevin: I think Filipinos tend to take courtship very seriously.  The process is a little more formal than what we do in the States.  We Westerners, for example, only use the term “propose” to refer to a marriage proposal.  We don’t make a formal proposal for courtship.

I hate to admit this, but the Filipinos’ biggest problem is they are starting to act like Americans–having premarital sex, having children outside of wedlock, cohabitation (living together outside of marriage), etc.  The traditional Filipino values more closely match the biblical teaching on love, sex, and marriage.

RM: What do you think makes good advice?

KK: First and foremost, good advice is based on the Bible.  Beyond that I think keeping things as simple and as practical as possible is the way to go.

RM: In your experience as a campus minister, what are the challenges you face daily as you minister to students? Do you have an unforgettable story you can share with us?

KK: The ministry I do is kind of unique in that I spend a great deal of time outside the church.  Most of my ministry happens in schools, with students that may not have any spiritual background.  The greatest challenge is reaching out and being patient with the students’ responses–even those who are not interested in the gospel.

I’m not sure that I have one favorite story–there are so many.  Celebrating victories is important, so I make sure to reflect on every life I see changed by the power of the gospel.

RM:   I’m also a campus minister and I learned a lot from listening to students when they pour their hearts out. It’s not just to connect to their generation but to share what I experienced. How about you? What is the most important lesson you have learned while these college kids express how they feel?

KK: The most important thing I learn is whatever is going on in that particular student’s life.  It is a great honor to have someone share his or her life with you.  I’ve learned that just being willing to listen goes a long way in doing ministry.

RM:  Who do you seek for encouragement and advice?

KK: My parents have been a source of support and encouragement for me.  They’ve always told me to do whatever it is God is calling me to do.

I have some great friends, and each of them encourage me in different ways.  Some of them may just hang out with me for coffee and a movie.  I have a friend in the States who has known me since college.  He’s the one I usually email to talk about issues in my personal life–I can pretty much tell him anything.

I’ve also been blessed with some great mentors over the years.  I still keep in touch with most of them.

RM:  Lets get to your books, you wrote two of them. Can you tell us about the books? How did you get the idea to put out a book?

KK: It all started with the blog (KuyaKevin.com).  I was looking for a way to connect with students I met in seminars–a way to keep sharing my thoughts with them once the seminar was over and they go back home.  I started blogging as a way to share advice.

Students were responding to my blog articles, so I kept writing.  I contacted Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM, my publisher) after a year or so of writing–it seemed publishing was the next logical step.

That’s how Basta LoveLife came into being.

I’ll give you a little more background on Basta LoveLife.  I noticed two things when looking at relationship books in the Philippines: 1. Most of the books here were simply imported from the States.  2.  It seemed many of the locally authored books were written by women.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I figured it was time for something written from the masculine perspective.

This first book is basically a collection of my thoughts about love, sex and relationships–from a biblical perspective, of course.

The second book, Learning the Hard Way, also started on my blog.  I was seeing a lot of sad stories in my email inbox–testimonies of those who were making terrible mistakes and paying the price. “What if stories like these were used to warn others?”  I asked myself.

I started a “Learning the Hard Way” section on my blog, and it was a big hit.  It seemed like it would make a good book, so I approached my publisher (CSM) about it.  The end result was book number 2.  Erwin designed the cover and artwork for it.

RM: Those are things that a Christian Pinoy looks for. You know Kevin “Basta Love Life” book is very Pinoy. What are some reaction of people who read that book?

KK: It’s funny you mention that.  One of the greatest honors I’ve received is hearing Filipinos tell me they can relate to what I’ve written.  It puts a smile on my face because I known I somehow managed to reach my target audience.

RM: Your radio show/podcast is great. You and Kuya Erwin make a good tandem. So tell us how do you prepare for the radio show? Have you already made your response to the questions that you received? How do you pick the questions you will discuss in the show?
KK: Thanks–I’m glad you like the show.  Erwin and I jokingly call ourselves the Philippines’ most unprofessional broadcasters.  Don’t get me wrong–we are very concerned with quality.  But neither of us really come from a broadcasting background, and both of us have full-time ministries off the air.

Here’s how we usually arrange the show:  I choose the topics and questions, and Erwin is responsible for the music and production.  You’ve heard the show, so you know he also gives his own insights during counseling segments section.  This arrangement works well because Erwin is the musician/artist.

Or different cultural backgrounds are also a big asset.  Erwin is a Filipino.  He grew up in Manila, moved to the States as a teenager, and moved back to the Philippines a few years back.   I’m an American who moved here about eight years ago.  I think it gives us a pretty good balance in terms of cultural perspectives.

RM: You have a blog, books, radio podcast and you minister to students. I think many are curious; do you still have time for your own love life?

KK: Well, it can be challenging to balance full-time ministry and a social life.  But the biggest challenge for me has been finding the right person, not finding the time.  I can always make time for the right person.

I’ll add something here–something I find a little amusing.  People have asked me how I can write a book on love when I’m not married.  Here’s my answer: my books are not about married life.

I think it is great to hear from those who marry young and had relatively few romantic troubles.  But what about the rest of us?  I think we need to hear from those who, like me, have experienced rejection, breakups, blind dates, and all the other trials of single life.  Basta LoveLife, for example, has a chapter or two on breakups.  I included this because I noticed this kind of thing was mysteriously absent in some Christian books–as if Christians never experience broken hearts.  Believers need to know God is with them in the midst of their most trying moments.

RM:  In closing, please give a message to those who follow you in Twitter, Facebook, read your blog and books and listen to your podcast. Most of them really benefited with your advices for sure.

KK: I would probably refer back to the “two commandments”: be pure and be wise.  Keep yourself sexually pure and use biblical wisdom in your relationship choices.  Do this and you’ll avoid most of the disasters.

Bro Kevin thanks for giving your time for this interview and God bless as you minister to students.





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.





Eat this Book: Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints by John Piper and Justin Taylor

15 05 2010

This is the by far the best in the Desiring God Conference turned into print form. Best because 3 of the leading Christian authors (my favorites) John Piper, Jerry Bridges and John MacArthur Jr. are here. It’s like the best of three worlds in one great book. Rarely would you find such book. You will get some teasers on what their ministry offers here also. And oh don’t forget Randy Alcorn and Helen Roseveare. You may think these two not so famous speakers won’t make such great contribution on this book. But in fact their part is important.

As the title suggest it’s about enduring and standing firm to what God calls every Christian. As the world tells us to embrace change and go for greener pastures, God tells us to hold on and stand firm no matter what. The authors are perfectly picked to be included to this book. Not only does it give biblical response to endurance but also personal experience from the authors. So the interview part in the last part is exciting. At first an interview part is odd for me but it adds more personal and up close profile on the lives of these men (and a woman) of God. Each one is gave different talk about godly endurance but when blend together its one power pack book.

The book opens with Jerry Bridges (author of Pursuit of Holiness) with his usual bible teaching combined with his enduring to the end journey titled “Four Essentials for Finishing Well”. He is good in discipleship teachings and I think you’ll appreciate this. Then John Piper (author of Don’t Waste Your Life and Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ) exhorts “Getting Old for the Glory of God” on which he discusses and tell us to make Christ our treasure till the end of our lives. You can sense some Don’t Waste Your Life sprinkled over his piece. John MacArthur (Grace to You, author of Ashamed of the Gospel) relates his 40 years as a pastor of Grace Community Church. Randy Alcorn (author of Heaven and Treasure Principle) wave his Christian flag for the fight of the unborn. Lastly Helen Roseveare with her experience in a war torn mission field. Truly this is a book you won’t ignore.

The best part for me is the one from Helen Roseveare. She gave something that no other contributors can give: the woman side of godly endurance. Her talk was filled with fascinating stories about her mission in Africa. Teenage and young adult girls read her piece first specially the latter part. You will be inspired and be blessed for sure.

Recommended to mature Christians and leaders this book not only inspires but makes you think and evaluate your life in Christ if it counts. Go beyond fascination with the lives of the contributors. Make your Christian call count. Stand firm to the end and finish it well.

You can buy this book at PCBS for P195 only or you can download the entire book on PDF format from the Desiring God website FREE by clicking here. R.O.C.K. Ministry also gives hard copies of it for FREE to all supporters, leaders and committee members of the student organization.





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!





Eat This Book: Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

2 12 2009

THE GLAM: I’ve been contemplating on how I wasted my years as a Christian in those time I was young. I should have done this and that. It’s like that milk commercial “growth gap” years. With the use of paper dolls as illustration, it shows that between a certain age you have a gap of no growth. If by judging that I can say: Yes I truly wasted it. Maybe you have done it too.

The book “Do Hard Things” by the Harris twins, Alex and Brett (younger brothers of Joshua Harris author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye) does not provide salt for your wounds but insights and a message that its not too late or early to do for the glory of God. Filled with heroic stories, humorous anecdotes and biblical insights from rebelutionaries (as they call themselves) to combat low expectations and wrong culture upbringings that stops teens and young adults to do hard things. Mind you, this not a Alex and Brett show. In the first part its there stories how they amazingly started the rebelution and finish off with ordinary teens stories of what they have done. As they say, this is a different kind of teen book. They should change the title to “Christian Teen Counterculture Made Easy” (well thats every uncool title, please pardon me). Because it is easy to do hard things when your in God’s team.

The part that really hit me are the the Kidult and The Myth of Adolescence (check the link at the end of the review to read the excerpt). The twins thought this book really hard. This not the usual dos and donts for teens. It changes the way you look at things we do for God a great way. Every pages shouts to you “Doing hard things is cool!”. In God’s family your enlisted to be rebelutionaries, but will you heed the call to go out of your comfort zone?

If you think this book is geared to Western readers only, think again. You’ll find in the midst of rebelutionary, stories of three Christian Pinoy teens who done the hard things. Now your worry about getting lost is dropped and you dont need a Penaflorida to inspire you. Just be as ordinary as yourself and you can move the world with the gospel. Prepare to do hard things. It starts by obeying God’s will and putting it to action. Teens (and adults too) the book really has an impact. Its an engaging and easy read. This book calls you stand up, fight back and be cool.

Taste Test: Read articles included in the book originally posted from The Rebelution blog:

My First Shower Nearly Killed Me

The Myth of Adolescence Part 1

The Myth of Adolescence Part 2