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    Notes from THE HAVEN
    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    Tuesday night's Plus Group was amazing. I had had a long day at work.. and yes, compared to everyone else, it was not as long, but unusual to my usual departure from the office at 4:30, I left at 7 (Just an aside, Jinx (a good mate) and I made a quick calculation on money earned per hour and per minute. His busy marriage to UBS Bank earns him predominantly less on an hourly basis to what I earn with HVS. With further calculation, many investment bankers earn less, on a per minute basis, than a waiter at Pizza Hut. Sorry dudes, it’s just a fact of life). Tuesday was frightfully eventful, the MD and I were cracking away at our contracts and doing our usual detective work and interviews, when we were approached with more clients and clients looking for impossible people which is good for the challenge, and very rewarding (For all those who are wondering, yes, I am still on the Tokyo contract, I know it has taken about 6 months now but it has been very grueling).

    At Plus (Bible Study), we had a small group. For worship, Andrew came up with the amazing idea to encourage each other. For each person present, Andy Higgins, RRR-Honda, Lollylaw, Andrew and Christine Gardener, Blair, Gislenie and baby Armele and myself, there was a piece of paper for everyone to write an anonymous note about what it is that we like about that person. Funnily enough, it reminded me about when we were in a secondary school in Cebu and nothing worked, seriously, the MD broke down, the CD was missing, the microphone was hissing, and so we spent some time in groups to get to know each other and try to squeeze in some ministry. With my group and after introductions, I asked each member to share what it is about the person next to them they like the most. With each piece of paper I jotted the many things that I thought were awesome with each person. I realized, when I was done with most of the people that everyone was on their second or third sheet, poking my fingers together, I tried to look productive. Then everyone got theirs back and read with much curiosity. Everyone blushed. Blair decided that he would write Christine G's note in my sheet, no worries!! Nothing beats reading something serious from someone you are usually very crazy and non-stop joking with. And one of the comments managed to send some leakage in the eye department. It was a short and concise note that had about 3 major points to it. The major-major point, however was that I used my expertise to help others and bring joy to them. This affected me in many ways, it was first, confirmation that I am indeed trying to follow God's direction in my calling in counseling. It also meant that unknowingly, and with little effort or strain, I was able to touch at least one person which only opened up the possibility of not having helped someone for self gratification or indulgence. This, I found was very important to me as I had found in counsel in the past, I had used it for personal reward, either for someone to recognize that I had been a good boy, or something as malicious as doing a favor so that a favor will be returned in the future. It is always good to know that you have the capacity to give, with the knowledge that you need nothing in return because God has already offered all the treasures of heaven to you. For this, I am glad because this is a fruit that comes with faith. Thinking further, it also has to do with how the information had been delivered to you. Much of my counseling skills had been passed on freely to me by my MD, and without holding back. Synopsis: God gave me an amazing job that would polish my counseling techniques, an amazing teacher to facilitate that, an amazing church that offers support, amazing leaders to point directions, and Jesus for the best teachings ever all for free. Freely I had received, freely I try to give.

    This, however, was not all. The evening unraveled itself and we went to what Andy Higgins has named, “Hot Potatoes”, which is basically asking questions that are very difficult to answer about our faith. Lolly asked something about marriage (seeking to follow her calling, *wink*), followed by a few more. I asked two questions, although I had many on my mind for example, “Did God not crate sin and therefore know the downfall of man?” or something on Euthanasia or Evolution. Instead, I asked practical questions, one on the understanding of Catholicism and one about non-christian friends.

    1. The early catholic church was the one of the post powerful means of spreading the gospel. For centuries it ruled until the likes of Oliver Cromwell protested and the modern Christian church was born. It has been written that we are to respect all forms of authority, the Catholic Church was the government in Europe for the longest time. Take away the atrocities the Catholic church had been involved in, and the Pope and hierarchy, Catholicism still preaches the love of Jesus and the wonders of the lord. Their beliefs are obviously different to ours, the major one being the relationship with God. Question – Are we as Christians to accept some of the Catholic beliefs to be true, if so, should we minister to Catholics, if so, then how do we minister to Catholics without judgment?

    Andy Higgins’ answer was perfect, and it sounded very much like the Christine Caine sermon I attended at Hillsong this year (I will be paraphrasing), “The relationship with Jesus is what we as Christians know. We are called to love all people so the best thing to ever happen to them is knowing Jesus, because it is then that miracles happen. This is what is lacking in the Catholic faith”. I’d like to add that when you have the heart to minister to anyone or any se of people, the best thing you can ever equip yourself with is knowledge of them, their behavior and their beliefs.

    2. If your non-Christian friend had a non-christian event in his life that brought joy, and you recognize it to be good for him/her, is it wrong to acknowledge the event’s benefits? Basically, a friend of mine was a wee bit down, met a girl and slept with her. The relationship will not last, but as I understand, they are ok with it and remain friends. He has changed a lot and the bounce is back in his stride and I felt that this is a very good thing to kick start a new chapter in his life.

    Andrew Gardener answered this by explaining that there is a difference between being happy for someone’s joy and endorsing his actions. The truth remains that if we want the best for our friends, we try our best to bring God’s messages and teachings as best we can, at their level of acceptance because what He wants is the best for all of us.

    Thank you all for one amazing Plus group. I slept very well Tuesday night.