Talk 11:
Stumbling Blocks And Crippled Lives

Today, I want to preach the message, “God made you an Influencer.”

Recently, I was reading how many jobs today did not exist 10 years ago: App Developer. App Designer. Podcast Producer. Telemedicine Doctor. Blockchain Analyst. And Zoom Event Hosts. (Who would have thought this would be a thing? But believe me, this takes real skill.)

Here’s another job that’s very common today: Social Media Managers. Social Media started more than 10 years ago, but we didn’t need managers to manage our accounts. But now, we do.

Last example. Last month, I was talking to a 9-year old. I asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” During my time, kids will say, “Astronaut” and “Pilot” and “Firefighter”.

The little boy told me, “I want to be an Influencer.”

Once upon a time, you had to be a big star like Sharon Cuneta or Piolo Pascual to be an influencer. Now, anyone can be one. Because of the power of Facebook and YouTube and Tiktok, you can influence your followers to do this, watch this, read this, buy this, do that…

You’re An Influencer

But in a very real sense, social media is just amplifying a spiritual truth that is as old as Adam and Eve: We are all powerful influencers. We will be shocked if we find out how our words and actions reverberate through space and time.

“The Domino Effect”

 So I wrote a children’s story titled, “The Domino Effect”.

But because it’s such a boring title, I changed the title to, “Why Rosalina The Cat Has A Short Tail”.

The story begins one morning when Bowser stands up from bed, but because it was still dark, accidentally steps on Baby Bowser’s Lego toy. (And parents, you know how painful that is. The CIA will soon figure this out and use it to torture terrorists.)

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” Bowser says, limping to the bathroom.

Later that day, he goes to the office still in a bad mood.

Mario, his office assistant, submits a report to him. And Mr. Bowser scolds Mario for giving it late. He says with anger, “Mario, I needed your report at 9am. Why are you giving this to me at 10am? I thought you were a professional?”

Mario is upset. He didn’t even know about the deadline.

Later that evening, Mario goes home also in a bad mood. When he walks through the door, his wife Peach asks him, “Why are you late again?” (she said that because she really misses him). But Mario says, “Because I was working. Unlike some people I know who watch Kdrama all day!”

Peach is hurt. Deeply hurt. That night, 7-year old Junior doesn’t want to go to bed because he still wants to play. Mama Peach shouts at him, “Ang tigas-tigas ng ulo mo! Go to your room NOW!”

Junior sulks to his room. On the way, he sees his pet dog Yoshi sleeping on the corridor, blocking his path. He kicks his pet and says, “Get out of my way, you lazy dog!”

Yoshi the dog is angry. That’s when he sees Rosalina the cat minding her own business with her tail in full display. And he bites it off.

So now you know why Rosalina the cat has a short tail.

 Another Version Of The Story

But do you know that there’s an alternate universe with the same characters. In this parallel universe, Mr. Bowser, after stepping on his son’s toy, goes into prayer and reads his Bible.

He thanks God, saying, “Lord, my foot is still hurting because I stepped on my son’s toy. But that only means I have a son! And that means I have money to buy him toys. Thank you for your blessings!”

When he went to the office, his assistant Mario was late in giving him his report. Mr. Bowser told him, “Mario, I’ll appreciate if tomorrow, you give it to me at 9am. But thank you for all your hard work.”

Mario smiled, “Yes, of course.” On the way back to his desk, he thanked God for his kind Boss.

When Mario went home, his wife Peach asked him, “Why are you late again?” Mario chuckled and asked, “Is that how much you miss me?” And he gave Peace a big hug, which made Peach feel wonderful.

That night, Junior still wanted to play and didn’t want to sleep yet. Mama Peach said, “I’ll give you 10 more minutes. Will you promise me to go to sleep after that?”  “Yes Mama!” Junior said.

Ten minutes later, when the little boy saw Yoshi the dog sleeping in the corridor, he steps over him. And the dog continued to sleep in peace.

And that’s why in this alternate universe, Rosalina the cat has a normal tail.

And that, my friend, is the Domino Effect.

We have more influence then we think we have. Because of the domino effect, what you say and what you do impacts thousands of people, even across generations. You shape your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren more than you realize! Even if you don’t have children, you shape your nephews and nieces—and their children and grandchildren—more than you can imagine.

With that framework, let’s dive into the Word…

Wrong Salbabida

Today’s Bible reading is PG18. It talks about death by drowning, self-mutilation, and hell. It’s not an easy message, but Jesus taught it. So it will bless us. Are you ready? Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to …  By “little ones”, he doesn’t mean small kids, because a few verses before this, He called His disciples to be “little ones”.  So let’s rephrase what He said, “If anyone causes a disciple to stumble,” He said, “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  (Matthew  NIV) The millstone is a heavy basalt circular rock used to crush wheat. Believe me, you wouldn’t want that as your salbabida if you go swimming.

Question: Do you know of people who were disenchanted with their faith because of the wrong example of Christians?

 When We Cause Others To Fall

One day, I talked to a young man whose father was a well-known Preacher. I asked him, “Do you attend your father’s prayer meetings?”

He shook his head. “The last thing I want to do with my life is to join any religious group.”

I said, “I’m so sorry to hear this. May I know why?”

His answer did not surprise me. He said, “My father and his religious friends are self-righteous hypocrites. They’re judgmental, proud, and hateful. If that’s who Jesus is, I don’t want to follow Jesus.”

I told him, “That’s not the Jesus I know.”

Jesus said, Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come… (v.7) Let me paraphrase: Temptation is bad news, but being the source of the temptation is reaaaaaaaally bad.


3 Practical Questions

You’re a powerful influencer. 

Whether you admit it or not.

It’s not a job you applied for. But by the mere fact that you’re breathing and alive on planet earth, your words and actions impact the people around you—for bad or for good. 

Here are three practical questions you must ask yourself:

  1. Have I Hurt Others Because Of My Character Flaws?

Jesus knew He was building a messy Church with messy people.

So He knew that because of our character flaws, we were going to hurt each other.  We were going to tempt each other.

Each day, before going to bed, do an examination of conscience and ask this question: Have I hurt anyone through my character flaws today? Have I hurt others because I was selfish, or greedy, or proud, or impatient?

Each day, God invites you to submit your character flaws under the transforming power of the Spirit.

  1. How Do I Respond When I’m Hurt?

Truth: Hurt people hurt people.

That’s just how the world operates.

Animal experts warn us that a wounded animal is more dangerous than a hungry one. Because a wounded animal runs after his prey not to satisfy his hunger but to satisfy his anger.

Sadly, humans act in the same way. When we’re wounded, we like to retaliate. We like to lash out at anyone around us.

But in God’s Family, being hurt is not a license to hurt others.

 If you’ve been hurt, break the cycle of hurt. Help those who hurt you. Bless those who curse you. Love those who hate you.

  1. Do I Cause Others To Soar To ?

Is your life a stepping stone or a stumbling block?

In this verses above, Jesus talked about avoiding Hell.

But for Jesus, Hell—just like Heaven—is not just a future destination but a present reality. Hell happens here and now.

Here’s an example. In the Epistle of James, he says, “the tongue is a flame of fire.” (James 3:6 NLT)

Truth: The tongue can create hell in this world. Just think how gossip can destroy relationships and families. Even churches. (Have you heard of prayerful gossip?  “Sis! I discern that our dear sister Ludy is having an affair. Someone saw her with a younger man. Let’s pray for her…”)

The more I read the Bible, the more I realize that God’s judgment is God simply allowing the consequences of our actions.  By our words and actions, we create our own heaven or hell; And because we’re influencers, we create heaven and hell for other people too.


Choose The Right Pain!

Jesus was so serious about this, He shocks everyone by saying, If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (v.8-9)

Jesus didn’t mean literal self-mutilation. Or all churches will be filled with one-eyed, one-handed, and one-legged Christians. (Imagine Bible verses on eye patches.)

But why such intense language?  Jesus wants to wake us up. He wants to tell us, “If you want to create heaven for yourself and for others, get ready for pain.”  And Jesus says it’s worth the pain.

Becoming more patient, kind, and selfless is painful.

But Jesus says it’s worth it. That’s how you create heaven on earth.

For yourself and for others.

In life, you can never avoid pain. You can only choose the pain of growth or the pain of regret. Which will it be? 

Be Pipeline Of Grace

In our deep dive of Matthew, we’re already in chapter.

So at this point, Jesus is already walking towards Jerusalem to die. And on the Cross, He will take our Hell and bear it in His body.

Today, as we come to Him in worship, think of one person that God is calling you to “influence” for Him. He doesn’t call you to be the source of Grace for that person, just the pipeline of Grace.

As an Influencer, God isn’t calling you to be the Messiah but the Messenger.

I repeat: Loving that person may be inconvenient. Uncomfortable. Even painful. But Jesus said it will be worth it.


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