Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holydays

Hi, y'all! I'm much better! I was at a wedding last night, which took place in scenic Tagaytay, a beautiful vacation spot about two hours away from Manila. The night was cool, the decor was gorgeous, the food was yummy, and there was love all around.

Christmas is 100% about Jesus, definitely, but God is love, and I saw God all around last night. Thank You for beauty, Lord, in all its forms!

Listening to: Natalie Grant Your Great Name

Friday, December 17, 2010

Witnessing His blessings

I'll make this short and sweet: the Greenhills church for which I work recently finished its Overflow series on extreme generosity and audacious faith. Challenged and encouraged, I decided to bless someone with my iPod Classic to a worshiper who loves to worship but has never had an mp3 player in his life.

Two weeks later, I received an iPod Touch. Not long after that, my Nokia 1400 - so entry-level, its highest feature is a flashlight - was replaced by a spanking brand-new Blackberry Curve 9300.

I almost want to give away my car. (Hello, Volkswagen New Beetle?) I'm also tempted to give away our Las Pinas townhouse so that we might receive a Makati condo or something, but you know, God also recommends self-control, so I'll let it be.

Listening to: Tobymac Christmas This Year

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting through Christmas

I've not been feeling well lately. I've been waking up with backaches and feeling feverish. The weather hasn't been helping, and frankly, I know that stress is a partial cause. I don't know what to do (other than prayer, of course), because I can see that we need to work hard to raise volunteers up, and I've been struggling with it. Oh well.

Listening to: Matthew West One Last Christmas

Monday, November 29, 2010

He tried... and failed

Satan tried his best. He figured out a way to let the projector crash. He somehow got to the bass guitar and made it wonky. He even tried to make Thammie and me fall ill to sore throats and acid reflux. Kulang na lang, masunog ang bahay at mag-move into an apartelle in Quezon City.

We persevered by God's grace. He was with us the entire time, and the expressions of worship we lifted up to Him in gratitude were out of hearts grateful for His love and desperate for His help with all the technical and physical issues. The Name of the Lord be praised.

Listening to: TobyMac Christmas This Year

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can I escape for just a day?

I just launched another new website today, this time for a Filipino song arranger named Archie Castillo, who I used to work with at Victory Fort Bonifacio. Yesterday, it was for a Filipino mom blogger named Thammie Sy, who is the wife of my boss.

I've been churning out websites left and right, that I'm kinda sick of my computer right now, if you can believe that. I wish I could just escape for a few hours, or maybe a day. If there were an apartelle in Quezon City that I could sleep in, or maybe a cinema that was showing a movie that I could just watch over and over, and doze off to...

Well, there will be those days. Meanwhile, I've another website I want to work on. Hopefully, that'll earn me another few thousand bucks as well.

Listening to: Chris August Come Now Our King

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Totally rebuked

Today, God was very explicit in His Word for me. He wasn't happy.

"I myself said,
"'How gladly would I treat you like sons
and give you a desirable land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.'
I thought you would call me 'Father'
and not turn away from following me."

Jeremiah 3:19

"Therefore O house of Israle, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall."

Ezekiel 18:30

"Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."

2 Timothy 2:19

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

James 4:7-8

It was a horrific and eye-opening wake-up call for me. I'd become complacent in my sin and comfortable in my self-righteousness. God obviously was not pleased, and He let me know it. Bright as day, clear as crystal. I've repented, and am just grateful that I'm loved by and serve a God Who doesn't hesitate to let me know when I've been bad, and doesn't hesitate to give me another chance.

Listening to: Kristian Stanfill, Day After Day

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miles to miles to go before I sleep

In the past three days, I've been driving all over Metro Manila. Yesterday, it was to take my daughter to school, then my wife to an appointment with Yahoo!, then to a reunion with her old high school friends... my feet are killing me. But you know what? Life's awesome.

Listening to: Kutless This is Christmas

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let the pressure begin

It's only eight days before we launch our third Sunday service. It's supposed to be relatively easy, but I've got butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Not really sure why, but I'm relying on God. He reigns on high, and our services are His. I've nothing to worry about. My help comes from the Lord.

Listening to: Kristian Stanfill Day After Day

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sabotaging the self

A few weeks ago, I joined the fitness program of the church in Greenhills for which I work, but it hasn't been smooth sailing. At all.

I have to admit my drive to get fit isn't as strong as it used to be. I'm a bit disheartened. I'm watching everyone around me drop pounds and I have no idea how I'm doing. I'm getting increasingly fidgety about it, but I know I'm not going to get anywhere unless I do something about this.

It's almost like I'm sabotaging myself. More on this later; I need to gather up my thoughts and cling to God. Phil 4:13, Lord, give me strength.

Listening to: Shawn McDonald Closer

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's just a car

Last Thursday night, on the way home from work, a truck rammed my Hyundai Getz. I wasn't hurt, but the left passenger side of my car was damaged. I spent about two hours at the local police station trying desperately to communicate with the traffic enforcers, due to my fractured Tagalog, and by the time I returned home, it was almost 1:00am.

My wife's first words? "It's just a car." I'm so privileged that my wife knows her priorities. I'm safe. God protected me. That's all that matters.

Listening to: Hawk Nelson Crazy Love

Monday, October 11, 2010

I wanna sink my teeth into it

My job at the Greenhills church where I work is so juicy, I can't wait to sink my teeth into it! lol

Last night, I addressed the leaders of Victory Greenhills in a five-minute segment the pastors gave me (and fellow newbie Rica Monzon, who is the Discipleship Ministry admin). During that time, I gave just one major point: A Victory Greenhills volunteer is a happy volunteer. (Taking that from Serve the Lord with gladness. - Ps 100:2a)

We are more than just volunteers. We are sons or daughters, we are husbands or wives, we are friends, we are family, we are so many things. However, above and beyond that, we are children of the God Most High, and we are loved. When we realize that, how easy it is to take joy and pleasure in serving God to the fullest. I'm privileged to be in full-time ministry, but I'm equally privileged to be the one assigned to ensuring those who aren't in full-time ministry continue to enjoy their service of God in our church.

Honor God. Make disciples. Have a heckuva lot of fun doing so. That's my new motto.

Listening to: Tenth Avenue North You Are More

Friday, October 08, 2010

Wednesday is the New Sunday

I led worship at the Wednesday service of Victory Greenhills, the church in Greenhills with whom I now labor for Christ. It was my first time to visit the premises, and to lead there was, honestly, fun. I love worshiping God in any place, but Teatrino in particular was a blast and a half.

For starters, the venue itself is tiny and intimate. Teatrino's dinner-theater-type setup makes for a closer experience with the pastor and the congregation. The sound system is superb, and the musicians with whom I worked last weekend were terrific. I'm looking forward to next week, when we're going to do even more amazing things in the Name of Jesus, by the grace of our Father.

I didn't think worshiping on Wednesdays would be half as exciting as it is now! Teatrino's the place to be, baby! It's an exciting time!

Listening to: Jason Castro You Are

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The first Sunday

It's my first Sunday at the church in Greenhills where I now work, and I gotta tell you, I am psyched. I just set up my table, and it looks nice and clean. (Enjoy it while you have it, because in the next few days, it's gonna get messy.) There are two holes in the wall that are bothering me beyond belief, but I'll get over 'em. I just gotta figure out the right thing to do to cover 'em.

In a few minutes, I'll head on over to Music Museum and arrange to meet with the music ministry. (I understand Charles is leading today, which is exciting. I love how that young man worships.) Then I'll spend the first service with Tech then the second service with Stage Management.

I'm listing things down and enjoying the relatively light day because this is as good as it gets. From here, it's going to get progressively harder, but that's when we rely on God the most, and it's gonna be awesome.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Four days to go

Well, technically, three, until I transfer from the church in Manila that I currently work for, to the church in Greenhills where I will be working.

At Victory Fort Bonifacio, I am (was) the Communications Director. I pretty much oversaw the production of communications collateral in print, video, and Web; with my trusty colleague Raz, who shot and edited the video concepts with which we came up, we made a pretty strong, albeit sometimes harassed, team. I also oversaw the Communications Ministry volunteers (photographers, graphic designers, etc.)

At Victory Greenhills, I will be Worship Services Coordinator. I'll be in charge of what happens behind the scenes at the Sunday and Wednesday services. I'll also be responsible for ensuring the volunteers of the Greenhills church are happy and taken care of. I'll also be concurrently holding the Music Ministry Coordinator role, to which I'm really looking forward, because Music is my first love, and I can't wait to work with the talented musicians and vocalists of Greenhills.

Four more days. :)

Listening to MercyMe Beautiful

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When God smacks down...

... you take it gratefully!

This morning, Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby took me to Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The Blackabys wrote: What you think about in your unguarded moments reflects what your mind dwells on. What does your mind dwell on? What you give it. Fill your mind with filth and it will more likely spew filth than good things; fill it with good things and holy things and it will more likely give out good things than filth.

Confession #1: the past few weeks, I fell victim again to my old online haunts. To many people, I imagine many of the sites I visited weren't problematic; they were mostly humorous in nature, but some jokes/images were of an adult nature, and I knew in my heart that if I exposed myself to those materials, it wouldn't be long before my jokes would reflect it. Sure enough, I made a few jokes in the past few days that should not have come out of a Christian mouth.

It came to a head last night when I learned that my favorite 90s group, Wilson Phillips, was reuniting for a Christmas CD. In my excitement to share this good news, I kinda reverted back to a lot of the habits from which I turned away after I began my relationship with Jesus. I am not proud of the things I wrote on Facebook; I promptly erased or sanitized what I could, but in my heart, the damage was done.

The chapter of the What Matters Most for Men book I read followed up with astounding serendipity what I'd read in the Blackaby book: sexual purity. It dealt with the importance of avoiding temptation (one choice question: Is there a source of temptation in your life that needs to be starved? Certain TV channels of websites?); it also had a story on porn, which was my old-time nemesis back in the day. I knew if I kept this going, I would eventually stumble back into porn, and that was a non-negotiable that I had to stop.

In a nutshell, God revealed to me about two things that needed to change: 1) I needed to stop visiting these websites cold turkey; and 2) I needed to believe Him for total change of the way I carry myself. In a few weeks, I will be in an even greater position of influence, and I cannot compromise that mandate because of how I act.

How I act?

Confession #2: I have spent much, much time in prayer believing God would change habits, actions, and mannerisms in my heart and mind that would hinder me from serving Him to the best of my ability. I believe He is changing me for the better; we work our salvation out by His grace, day by day. A lot of this angst stems from my sometimes effeminate mannerisms and speech. Now that I will be in an even higher position of church leadership, it is even more imperative to me that these mannerisms stop; it will not benefit the church if they think less of their leaders, bias or no bias.

Last night, those accusations came hurtling back at me with the force of a tornado as I realized with horror what I'd written on Facebook. It was high school all over again, and I had put myself in that situation. I don't know what my wife must've been thinking as I celebrated the return of Chynna, Carnie, and Wendy, but bless her heart that she did not tear into me for that decidedly unmasculine celebration. I am so sorry, honey; won't happen again.

I am believing God that in the next few weeks, as I immerse in the culture of Victory Greenhills, He will work in my heart, mind, mouth, and body, that I will be exactly how God willed, intended, and created me to be: a mighty, powerful man whose heart, mind, soul, and body belongs to Him. He will surround me with godly men who will speak into my life and be good examples of fatherhood and manhood; He will afford me more time and opportunity to be with my wife and children so I can delight in those blessings, the blessings of truth and not self-doubt and lies. (Here are some truths: I am a son of God; I am a husband to a beautiful woman who loves me despite my idiocy; I am a father to a boy and girl who will grow up to be world-changers. I will not hold onto the lies that I was afforded when I was younger and unsaved.)

What a morning!

Listening to: Chris Tomlin, I Will Follow

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

16 days to go

There are approximately 16 days to go before the new season begins. I've taken home all my personal belongings from my cubicle at the church in Manila where I currently work, even as I prepare for the next season at the church in Greenhills. The annual planning for Victory Greenhills is on October 8, and I'm really excited about that and the things we'll be doing.

It's going to be terrific!

Listening to Chris Tomlin I Will Follow

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sick again

So here's a funny story: I'm sick. My sore throat has progressed into a head cold, and I'm trying to expectorate but it won't come. Ah well. Psalm 103 tells us not to forget all God's benefits, which include healing of disease and forgiveness of sin.

Lord, I won't forget. It's Your promise to me, and my privilege as Your child. Thank You for my healing!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's really happening!

So, I was told today by my boss at the Manila church where I work that I may actually be released by the end of September to my original home church in Manila. I'm speechless; I don't actually have words. I mean, I'm obviously excited, but end of September? Really?

This feels so weird. I'm not exactly sure how to feel about it - probably because in the back of my head, I'm not sure it's really happening - but I just need to declare it to myself: this is God working. This is God paving the way for the next season. He told this to me at EN2010, and now He's making it happen.

Wow, Lord, You work fast. Just a heads-up, I'm going to rely on You more than ever, so please don't ever leave me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The week that was

Last week:

  • My mother ended up in the hospital. We shelled out a loooot of money in hospital fees and other mother-related expenses.
  • The Macbook Pro assigned to me by the church in Manila for which I work crashed, taking with it all my current projects.
  • I must've gained ten pounds by sheer stress.
  • I lost the stylus of my mobile phone. I now have to tap it with my fat fingers.
In the midst of all this, God is my comfort, my refuge, and my strength. The Name of the Lord be praised.

Listening to: Keith and Kristyn Getty, By Faith

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Butterflies in my stomach

Lately, people at Victory Fort have been paying me compliments. I wonder if they know.

I'm meeting with my boss tomorrow, probably over lunch. I pray things go well. It's time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Believing God for something greater

I was given a rare and welcome opportunity to sing with the worship teams of the church in Manila for which I work. We were challenged to sing Ashmont Hill's Show My Love, which is one of my favorite praise songs. I thank Him that, for the most part, the numbers went well, despite a steadily deteriorating voice. (No one would want to do six services in a row, much less an amateur like myself. But when we don't know how to say "No," well, that's the end result.)

Having said all this, I have to admit I sang Show My Love from a heart heavy with concern. Like I mentioned in a previous post, my mother has been in the hospital for almost a week. During that time, she's racked up hundreds of thousands of pesos in hospital bills. Even sans health card and senior citizen discount, with professional fees and all, we're still looking at almost Php70,000 in expenses. She wants to check out tomorrow, but I don't know or see how we're going to be able to do that because we simply don't have that kind of money.

This morning, I read out of Ps 25, and verse 3 stood out: "No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame." I hope and I trust in God's great providential power to provide for His children. What is Php70,000, Php80,000, Php100,00, for a great and mighty God, anyway?

It's always easier said than done, but in the midst of the trials, in the utter hopelessness of the dark, when God's light comes shining through, when God gives us that miracle, WOW. I await with an expectant heart. My God will not let me down.

Listening to: Jimmy Needham, Grace Amazing

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The past few days have been difficult. My mother has been ill, and we learned just now that what we thought were mere gallstones may be more complicated, because her liver is apparently infected. Meanwhile, my little three-year-old girl has a recurring fever. Couple that with restricted finances and a significantly heavy workload this week at the church in Manila that I work for, it all feels like too much.

It's times like these that I always have to remind myself:

The Lord is a refuge, a strong tower in times of trouble. He knows those who trust in Him. - Na 1:7

Lord, I trust You. Please help us.

Listening to: Audrey Assad, Restless (Thank you, Audrey, your song couldn't have come at a more opportune time.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Nobu No Good!

Last night, my wife and I were privileged and honored to stand as godparents to the one-year-old son of very good friends from our church in Manila. It was a short but memorable and meaningful ceremony; from the cake to the souvenirs, from the Biblical message about parenting to the message of gratitude from the parents, it was all so well-planned and organized.

As the saying goes, though, "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry," and the chink in this otherwise joyous celebration comes at the hands of the venue that my friends unfortunately chose for their son's dedication. The disastrous choice: Nobu Grill and Bar at the Blue Wave entertainment center along Macapagal Avenue. My friends reserved the entire second floor of the Nobu Grill and Bar, at Php299 a head, I assume. They had reserved for 80 guests; because of inclement weather, only around 60 arrived.

Nobu Blue Wave Macapagal is a grill and hotpot restaurant that opened July 2 at Blue Wave Macapagal. It affords diners the chance to cook four types of cuisine: Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Brazilian BBQ. Since it's a virtually brand-new place - less than two months in operation, and there's a sign on its large display window that says it's still in "soft opening mode" - there are certain things we may have to forgive them, but in general, here is how I feel about Blue Wave's Nobu Grill Bar:
  • Food is unremarkable. We are supposed to cook the food ourselves, but given the nature of the party, we were served pre-cooked food, and the food was forgettable. From the sweetish yet overpoweringly spicy kimchi - we know kimchi, and Nobu's kimchi will rank somewhere near the bottom of our list - to the strangely tough samgyupsal, from the chewy deep fried meat - was it gizzard? chicken? pork? to date, it was still a mystery - to the disturbingly bland hotpot stew, no viand - NOT ONE! - was memorable for its flavor, taste, texture, and appearance.
  • Service was appalling. The ground floor wasn't particularly full, and the restaurant is largely self-service, so the fact that we had perhaps three waiters for our party of 60 was, in my opinion, oddly disturbing. Guess what? The entire duration of our meal, my refillable iced tea was refilled... once. The remaining four to five refills? I got up and refilled them myself from the three to four pitchers that stood ignored on a bartop counter at the far end of the room. It took a while after all pitchers were empty before waiters came to refill them.
  • Where were the grills? There was a significantly large display of fresh vegetables and seafoods waiting to be cooked on the portable grills or hotpot ovens that were in grand display on the ground floor. However, we on the second floor did not get enough grills. I counted three tables, mine among them, that did not get grills. My wife asked for one several times; none arrived. No grills, no food! I wonder what my friends did with all the leftover vegetables to which she was entitled (because they paid for them); they obviously weren't cooked that night.
  • The air-conditioning was broken. In a way, I guess it was a blessing that we didn't have grills, because it was HOT. Hot and humid because it was raining outside. My poor friends! My poor inaanak, who had to take off his adorable blue cheongsam because of the inclement weather and uncomfortable temperature!
  • It was tight. The tables were cramped so close together that it was difficult to move around. Not necessarily the fault of the restaurant, but if you know you can't comfortable seat 80 - we were only 60, what if the full 80 came? - you need to tell your clients so.
At the end of the evening, my friends had to pay the Nobu Grill & Bar Blue Wave Macapagal for the full 80 guests even if only 60 showed up. (That is fair.) However, they received far less than what they paid for. The unremarkable food, insufficient facilities, and inadequate service, mean two things: 1) I will not return, and 2) I sure as heck won't recommend Nobu Grill and Bar anytime soon to anyone who asks.

I'm listening to: Third Day, Lift Up Your Face

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Dream prayers

Last night, I had a dream about one of my colleagues. I was particularly struck by the dream because in it, I found myself praying over, for, and with him. This was highly unusual because we never pray together. I remember being somewhat conscious of the prayer, and was quite taken by it, because in that dream, I found myself praying for him all kinds of things that I wouldn't pray over him in "real life."

I don't get them much, but dream prayers can be interesting. We know that God can speak to us in dreams; we also know that dreams are a way for our subconscious to process emotions and ideas that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do in the waking world. (And I'll be darned if I let any of the fallacious ideas foisted by Inception take root in my subconscious.) So whether or not these dreams are "God-breathed," they certainly are worth praying about.

My relationship with said colleague is precarious at best. I have many issues with him, issues that I try to overcome or deal with simply with prayer and according him the respect and honor due him by his position and age. I've had difficulty with the whole honor thing, though, because, like I said, I disagree with him on a variety of issues.

In the dream, though, I found myself praying over and for him with a sympathy I'd not known before. The dream me - which I was very conscious of as being me yet not me - was praying things for him that I personally wouldn't have. They were honest. They were open. I was surprised, quite frankly. It was almost as if my dream helped me process how I felt about that colleague, and in God's mercy, allowed me to see how I should treat him.

When I awoke, the first thing I said, literally, was, "Wow, God, are you asking me to pray for ?" A few minutes later, after the sleep-haziness had gone from me, I asked more lucidly but somewhat jokingly, "Does my dream prayer count?" I knew it didn't, so I prayed for him, and I know that how I treat him now and in the future will have been changed by that dream.

I'm currently listening to: Phil Wickham In My Love

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

64 Days before EN2010

So many of us at the church in the Philippines we attend are so excited for the Every Nation World Conference (EN2010), our once-every-three-years international conference!

EN2010's speakers and special guests include:
We're believing God is really going to show Himself mighty and powerful from July 22 to 24 at EN2010. The way that EN2010 is arranged is really to allow for maximum convenience.
  • You don't have to take three days worth of leave! July 22's events are only in the evening. July 23 starts in the afternoon, so you only need to take a half-day's leave. Saturday, most people don't have work. Yay!
  • Parade of Nations (Thursday night). Imagine 20,000 people from dozens of nations wearing their national costumes and all that! It'll be breathtaking!
  • CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida will be speaking!
  • Hillsong Worship pastor and international Contemporary Christian singer Darlene Zschech will speak too! At night, so even students don't have to miss this!
  • We're going to attempt to break a Guinness World Record!
The Conference details are here, in case you'd like to join us. It's only Php800 for all three days! You can buy tickets at at TicketWorld or even at any Victory church starting this weekend. I really hope to see you all there. (Come look for me and let's take photo ops!)