BRO. AUDEE VILLARAZA: I’m going to open the Talk for today.

I pray that you receive this with an open heart. Because if you remember, we’re still in our Mini-Series called What Matters Most.

What matters most to you? Is it your Faith? Is it your Family? Your Finance?

Your Fitness?

Here’s the last one we’re going to talk about: The fifth essential that you need in life: It’s called Friendship.

How many of you here are introverts? What are introverts? That’s a good question. I’ll show you what introverts are like:

The last photo I can really relate to.

From Introvert…

I’m an introvert, believe it or not. I’m like the type of person who enjoys being by himself. I like dating myself. When I was single, I used to love going to the movies by myself.

Are you like that?

And if you’re an introvert, it’s okay for you to eat alone in public places. You don’t mind doing that.

You don’t mind people looking at you if you’re alone by yourself. And you can do that for hours.

You know, when I was young, you could bring me to a playground, bringing just one toy, and you could leave me there for hours. I could create a multiverse in that playground. That’s what I was.

…to Disciple

But you know, something happened when I grew up and when I entered into (the Light of Jesus) Community.

Community life is so different especially for introverts like me. Because all of a sudden, all of these people just started coming and started knocking on your door and they want to get to know you, they want to get into your life– and it was hard. It’s hard being in Community when you’re an introvert.

But I realized something: That when I believed and I embraced the life of being a disciple, and I realized that the Lord also wanted to disciple me, you know what the one thing I finally understood? It’s that how in the world will I be able to disciple people if I don’t like people, if I don’t open my life to people?

Here’s the truth that you can take home today: Discipleship is relationship. If you look at the model of Jesus, the life that He modeled and He showed us, you will see what the first thing He did to start His Ministry.

You want to know the first thing that He did? He didn’t perform miracles.

He didn’t show that He was God.

You know the first thing that He did, He looked for people. He looked for 12 guys. And you know the way that He invited them? He befriended them. He was not in a rush, not in a haste. He built a relationship around His disciples. That’s how He started.

And this is the lesson for us. I’ll give you Two Quick Lessons:

First lesson is this — and this is for all the introverts—you need friends. I mean that’s basic in life. No man is an island.

But here’s a second lesson for all the extroverts:

You need friends, yes. But you don’t really need a lot. You just need a few good friends.

How To Disciple People

Turn to the person beside you and tell that person: “You need just me.” Because that’s the truth. I mean look at Jesus. Jesus had followers, yes.

A multitude wanted to follow Jesus. But here’s the key: He had many followers but he had only a few close friends—the people that He kept around Him. He had 12, by the way.

The Bible says that when one time, Jesus went up the mountain and He transfigured, how many friends he had with Him? Only 3. When He went to the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader, to heal his daughter, how many persons were with Him? Only 3. So, Jesus even cut the group—the 12 persons He trusted and walked with. But here’s something that you need to learn: it’s not an assurance that if you’re friends with people that they’re real friends with you. I mean look at Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus. And it’s okay—that’s the lesson. It’s okay that if you’re not close to the person who’s close to you — it’s okay. Why? Because you’re not really meant to give access to everybody.

That’s how you disciple people. Jesus, when He came into the world, He did not disciple the world. How many did He disciple? It is said, at one point, there were 500 disciples.

Now, question: There were probably already thousands, hundreds of thousands of persons living back then. Jesus was able to disciple only 500. You know who discipled the others? It was His disciples who spread the Gospel all over the world.

So, your lesson for today is this: Yes, you need friends, you need people to walk with, you need accountability partners. But you don’t really need a lot. You need just very close persons—quality friends who you can walk with, who you can journey with, who really know who you are, who can pray for you.

Are you grateful for real friends? Do you have real friends with you right now?

Praise God. Clap for those friends.

That’s what we’re going to talk about today. And I’m so grateful to be here in front of you because I get to introduce a real friend of mine who will preach to you, who will bless you, who will inspire you.

I’d like to call on none other than one of our Builders here at The Feast, Coach JC Libiran. Give him a big, big hand, Everyone.


COACH JC LIBIRAN: Thank you, Auds. Thank you, Everyone, for being here—against all odds. So, let’s applaud the Lord and each other.

And I really believe that however bad the climate is, our God is more than good. That’s how God is good to each one of us.

Today, we are excited. Just before we jump into reading our Word, our message for today, we want to celebrate our relationships. It has been a great, great time for us in this series, What Matters Most.

So far, now we have been able to discuss the first four topics of the series: Faith—putting our faith in God; Family—making God the center of our family; Fitness—how important it is to have self-care and taking care of others; and we talked about Finances.

And today, we’re going to talk about Friendship. That’s why, here at The Feast, we want to celebrate our friendship.

I love this quote from author and columnist Lois Wyse:

“A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”

Priceless Gift

Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of our great doctors of the Church, said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Pope Francis even tweeted this:

“Friendship is one of life’s gifts and a grace from God. Faithful friends who stand at our side in times of difficulty, are a reflection of the Lord’s love, His gentle and consoling presence in our lives.”

 My dear friends, I remember, my daughter Yana, whenever my wife Milen and I bring her here, to The Feast, at the backstage, she plays around, makes friends with kids, and even with grownups— sharing her food, toys, friendship bracelets, and even asking them to sign her Slum Book.

How come, Yana, young as she is, makes friends easily?

How come, we grownups, we have become strangers to one another?

And we are drifting away from our most important relationships.

I feel like, my dear friends, maybe we’ve been hurt, maybe at some point, somehow, there’s no longer trust between one of our friends and us. There’s toxicity, negativity. And maybe the reason we have built walls. We’re no longer connected—we’re disconnected from that friend.

Today, our one big message is this: God calls you to celebrate His friendship to the world.

The question is: Are you ready to celebrate His friendship in your life?

Let’s now serenade the Word of God.

Together we sing:

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet And a Light unto my path.

This brings us to the Gospel of John 15: 13-15:

This is already the Lord telling you: That you’re no longer a slave. You are a friend of God.

If you want, clap for that and just acknowledge it.

Celebrate that!


In the Scriptures, we see, particularly in the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 20: 41-42, the friendship of David and Jonathan.

We have been into The Feast series on Wilderness. Where we have seen the covenant of God—the friendship of Yahweh with His people, Israel.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus having friends– His disciples.

And up until today, in our Church, here at The Feast, we welcome you home where you are loved—because we celebrate God’s friendship today.


Friends, I ask you once again, let’s serenade the Word of God:

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet And a Light unto my path.


Real Talk

You know, we’ve been talking about what matters most to us.

But Real Talk: I want you to look at these photos– and I’m sure you’re familiar with some of them: Anthony Bourdain, Marilyn Monroe, Moon Bin, Goo Hara, and Robin Williams.

They were popular celebrities. They gained a lot of success. And they knew a lot of people. But how come, still they felt alone, lonely. And they took their life.

That’s why, my dear friends, in this fractured world where loneliness is an epidemic, we really need companions. We really need friends.

That’s why our greatest blessing is the fortune of having good friends, being loved and loving others.

Yes, we’re reminded as well of this viral video of 11-year-old Shayden Walker (in Amarillo, Texas) who went to his neighbor knocking and begging to have friends—after he was bullied.

The boy said, “I just wanted to see if you knew any kids around like 11 or 12, maybe, coz I need some friends—like some, really bad… What my life was like before, kids were manipulating me, and they would be my friends but when they ask me to do something horrible, I don’t feel like they’re actually my friend…”

Sounds familiar? With our friendships and relationships?

This video, uploaded on Tiktok, became viral. His neighbors even set up a “Go-Fund-Me” account for this boy. They were able to raise $37,000 to launch an anti-bullying advocacy, Shine Like Shayden.

Instantly, he had lots of friends–people who are complete strangers to him.

Joys and Pains of Friendship

We also hear this a lot:

So, if you want to predict your future, show me your friends.

Are you happy and blessed with your friends? Are you with them right now?

You know, I remember the story about these four Catholic moms bragging about their sons. They were friends. They were discussing about who is the best among the sons.

So, the first mom says, “You know, whenever my son would come, since he’s a father, everybody respects him.”

The second mom says, “Whenever my son comes around, in a room, since he is a Bishop, everybody says, “Your grace…”

The third mom says, “Whenever my son comes, he’s a Cardinal, everybody says, “His Eminence…”

The fourth mom says, “Well, my son, he’s six-footer, tall, with broad soldiers, and incredibly handsome—so, when he comes into the room, everybody says, “Oh, My God!”

I’m sure we have the joys and pains now with our friends. That’s why Proverbs 27:9 says:

So, do you have friendships that refreshes you? Yes?

If you don’t have one, then start becoming a friend yourself.

Let me share with you three lessons on how we can celebrate God’s Friendship to the world:

I don’t know if you’ve come across one of my best-selling stories –that I made friends with my cellphone snatchers.

And true enough, I was able to get back my phone from them—because I respected them. By the grace of God, I befriended them.

Actually, today, I invited them here—look around… Just kidding :).

But yes, that’s really a true story. I did something good to them—I was kind to them and they reciprocated that kindness to me.

Who Are You With?

Maybe because the world that we live in right now is full of hatred, negativity,

I even came across this in one of the stores:

That’s why maybe, waiting in the line, maybe when you are in traffic, raining, flooded streets, maybe you’re honking at the driver of the car in front of you—but you just don’t know what the person is also going through…

Everybody is fighting a hard battle. Yes?

This is from my upcoming book, Life Begins Today:

When you’re friendlier, your world expands. You can go wherever you want. Yes?

But when you have a lot of enemies, or “frenemies,” you just cave in: “I’ll just stay here because if I go there, I will see that enemy.

Recently, my wife Milen and I went to Bacolod.

I facilitated a Team Building session for a company overnight. Right after that, the next three days we celebrated our Boyfriend-Girlfriend Anniversary.

We’re now married—this coming December, our marriage is turning 12 years.

And you know, in Bacolod, I enjoyed not just the sites, not just the food. But I also enjoyed the company of the people with us. I met members of our Feast Bacolod there—they were celebrating their 10th Founding Anniversary. And I also enjoyed reunion with my childhood friends.

So, we will always remember that trip not just because of the food, not just because of the souvenirs. We were even reminded that it’s not just the destination, it’s not just who you are becoming in the process. But who you are with in your life journey.

Are you a friend to the people around you? Or maybe, you’re the one asking them: “Be a friend to me.”

The Chosen Few

You see, when I was in Elementary and High

School, I was a social butterfly. I didn’t have a solid group, or gang, or friends. I hopped from one group to another. And I enjoyed that.

But I’m sure—this is also a common realization– that when you are growing older, gracefully growing older, you’re now looking for authentic, you’re looking for relationship with deeper meaning.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, my dear friends, because the Lord Himself preached to many—thousands. But at the same time, He was also with His inner circle—with the disciples, with Peter, James, and John.

I remember, from the movie,

The Greatest Showman, Charity said to PT Barnum: “You don’t need the whole world to love you. Just few good people.

So, do you have those few good people?

I hope you also wanted the chosen few.

And normally, when we make friends, it starts like this: strangers becoming acquaintances; friends becoming best friends; and eventually you’ll have BFF—Best Friends Forever—beshies.

I want to share with you what Shasta Nelson shared: The Frientimacy Triangle. If you want to have a happy and healthy relationship with your friends, these are the steps:

Positivity. That gives life hope– you love together, you smile, and you are satisfied.

Consistency. Eventually, you move up.

Maybe, just like in high school, we meet together. That’s why we remember our high school friends.

Here, at The Feast, we meet regularly. That’s why if you’re sitting always on the same seat,

I hope you have friends among the people around you there. Consistency is important because now, you feel safe.

Do you feel safe with the person beside you?

Vulnerability. Eventually, you become vulnerable. You are seen. You open up—and this takes time.

You see, authentic and meaningful friendship doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.

The question is this: Are you giving time?

Right at this moment, I am inviting you to honor, acknowledge, even reach out to your friends. Remember, think, maybe you can text or reach out to your friend.

You can do that actually as I shout out to my friends: Randel Serrano; the late Ram

Causing; Joseph Antiquera, Tony Valenzuela, Migs Ramirez, Audee Villaraza; my Light Group; The Feast Bay Area Builders; and most of all, my best friend, my wife, Milen.

You know, I’m just so blessed that God has given me this gift of Frientimacy.

I’m no longer jumping from one group to another. But I already have a solid, legit, group of friends.

Let’s acknowledge our friends. Applaud them.

Roof Friends

I remember the Gospel about the paralytic. For him to be able to reach Jesus, four of his friends brought him. And I call them roof friends. They did not just raise the roof, but they tore the roof.

You know, go the extra mile, so that you will be able to do the impossible in your life. For a moment, think about your roof friends. They’ve been with you. Imagine, they did not give up on you—despite your mischiefs. They’re there— your friends are with you.

I love this and I want you to read this with me, together:

So, I hope we are not just surface-level friends. Our friendships are going deeper and deeper. As the song goes, you want to grow old with them. Tell that to your friend beside you: “I want to grow old with you.”

On Sand…or On Stone?

I remember this story in the Jom and Terry show. They were walking in the wilderness and then they had an argument—and all of a sudden, Jom slapped Terry.

Then Terry went down on his knees, and wrote on the sand, “Today, my friend slapped me.”

And they continued their journey.

Then, all of a sudden, Terry, while walking, fell into a quick sand. So, he needed help. And Jom came to the rescue, helped Terry, and he was able to survive that accident.

And after that, he got a rock— and he wrote on the rock: “Today, my friend saved me.”

So, question: How come Terry was doing all these – earlier he wrote on the sand, and then now, he’s writing on stone. What’s the purpose?

He said, “You do something wrong to me, I write it on the sand so that it will be forgotten. I’ll be able to forgive you. I write this on stone so that I’ll be able to remember the amazing favors you have done in my life.”

I hope, my dear friends, just like that, we also know how to forgive our friends and how to be grateful and celebrate the amazing people that God has given us.

Let’s give them another round of applause.

Just before I wrap up, I love this verse, 1 Thessalonians 5: 11:

You see, we come here at The Feast, and I know we are blessed. Yes?

Every week, this is our refill, our recharge. But we don’t want you to just attend The Feast. Just to be an attendee.

I want to honor our servants. You see them here, or maybe backstage.

This is more than just doing a weekly thing. But this is discipleship by friendship. We’re inviting you to be together with us so that we can become closer to God.

And as we become closer, right after our weekly service, when you go back to your family, to your friends, to your colleagues, to your businesses, to your advocacies, you know that you are meant for something more. God wants you to celebrate

His friendship wherever you are.

I hope that we don’t get to do this only for feeling good vibes, here at The Feast. I hope that we get to share it to the people who matter most to us.

Two Widowed Penguins

I love this photo. A picture paints a thousand words. It’s very cute. This photo, taken by photographer Tobias Baumgaertner, received a prize in the 2020 Ocean Photography Awards presented by Oceanographic magazine. These are two widowed fairy penguins that can be seen gazing over the Melbourne skyline.

Wow. How sweet.

But let’s zoom in. The older female penguin, who is lighter, lost her companion that year 2020.

The younger penguin, who is darker, lost his partner in 2018. They gather each night to offer support to one another, and biologists have been watching them.

Together, they stand for hours while observing the lights.

I’m Here for You…Until the End’

Sometimes, more than words, it’s the presence and support that matters most.

So, friend, you don’t need to give advice to your friend. Actually, sometimes, when you give advice, you inadvertently hurt feelings.

Maybe just what you need to do is say, “Friend, even if I don’t understand, I’m here for you—until the end.”

These are penguins, amazing creatures.

But, my dear friends, we have a friend in Jesus. What kind of friendship can match that? Nothing.

The Lord is with you.

I love these heARtworks by real life forge.

God is there in your life— yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And it’s just reminding us that, “Friend,

I’m here for you. I’m here until the end. The world may have abandoned you. People may have said mean words to you. Or you, yourself, you are too hard on yourself. You have not become a best friend to yourself.

The Lord says to you: “I’m here for you…There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I no longer call you slaves. Now you are my friends… Set yourself free. You are meant for more. Now, you are my friends.”

Today, God is calling you to celebrate your friendship. Not just for yourself.

Not just with the people around you. But God is calling you to celebrate His friendship to the rest of the world. Amen.

Let’s come before God, as we worship, as we celebrate His friendship. He has been faithful. And now it’s your time to respond—to be faithful to Him as well.

Yes, Lord, you’re so good. You’re so good to each one of us. You’ve chosen us to be Your friends. You call us Your friends. Lord, I sin,

I stumble, I struggle with our friendship. But here You are still choosing me.

Lord, thank You. I don’t deserve this.

But today, I receive You as my faithful, authentic, true, ultimate Friend.

And, Lord, thank You for not leaving me behind. I will follow You right here, right now. I declare and I celebrate Your friendship today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!



Published by THE FEAST (August 6, 2023)


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