Friday, December 28, 2007

My Christmas Vacation with Family

Forgive my “late-report”. It’s just now that I got the time to tell my Christmas vacation (dated December 24 – 26). The place? Well, Taal Vista Hotel at Tagaytay City. The brochures say that it only takes an hour ride from Manila. It’s right IF there’s no traffic. Still though, it’s worth the stay.

Actually, the hotel in itself is quite a tourist spot. After all, the main attraction of that hotel is the best view of Taal Volcano, the smallest volcano in the world (if my memory serves me right). I think that it’s what we paid for in that place aside from the hotel out accommodations itself.

I have pictures with me of the view of the place. Actually, I’m planning to put these view as my background in my strips. Hmmm, how about GradS Tayo in Tagaytay?

Anyways, what I enjoy in that Christmas vacation most is being with family. Mom, my Big Bro AC, his wife Sarah and their cute daughter (my niece) Ocean, Tito Jojo, his wife Tita Gina, their kids Gia, Gem, Gel, my grandparents Tatay Mamer and Nanay Laling are all there. Yes, the place is nice, but it became nicer with them around. For two straight years, I spent my holidays with them without compromising my time in the church. Not only that, sweet girl Amie came to make my holiday even warmer. She made two special occasions in my life warmer this year 2007: my birthday (she’s also with us when I celebrated my 27th birthday) and my Christmas vacation. To my surprise, she gave me a gift. By the way, I gave her a gift: a bigger Ernie (her favorite Sesame Street character). She gave me a pig pillow with a small bell. It’s cute that it’s inside my car. It looks nice in my car.

Actually, I know Amie is a busy girl, and she has about 20 godchildren (inaanak in tagalong). Thus, it’s the thought, the effort, the time spent in buying the gift that counts. After all, I’m child-like; I appreciate things, be it small or big. Well, maybe Amie and I are not really meant for each other, but I will always cherish this sweet friendship. In fact, Mom and the rest of the family like her. Still though, I have to admit that there’s still that part of me that says that I love her.

Ocean’s in her playful self there. She enjoyed the place, like a typical 2 year old girl. Then, I saw Kuya and Sarah and Ocean walking. Oh well, I can’t help, but think when will I start my own family. Reality kicks in: I’m getting older, but I’m not adequately prepared to be a family guy. I can’t even budget my own money. I can’t even organize myself. If I did, I should have finished my project study in PNU. Oh well, enough of that for now. Indeed, I have many words to say on how I spent my Christmas vacation, but it’s all boiled up in this short words: the vacation is well spent and I thanked God for giving me the time to spent with them.

For the pictures, browse at this site:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

my say on the upcoming Christmas and legalism and random advice

As I’m typing this one, it’s 5 days before Christmas. Exactly a week after Christmas, it will be 2008. I admit that I felt that I didn’t maximize my time that much. I wasted a significant amount of my time. If I just used my time, talent, and money properly, I could have done better. I could have passed my comprehensive exam. I could have saved more. I’m quite a disappointment. However, like I always say to the youngsters in the new church, “yes, what we see wrong is really true. However, it’s the attitude that counts after you saw the wrong things.” Indeed, it is true. Yes, I may have wasted a significant amount of time, and it will never be returned. That’s the point. Why will I complain on things that I can’t have anymore, like a lost time? It will just be another learning experience for me. This year, for the first time in the youth ministry, be it in the old or new church, I organized an inter-church activity which is simply called YPF day. I thanked God for using me on this ministry in spite of that terribly stupid mistake. Yes, I wasted my time one way or another, but there’s learning from that. Thus, those experiences were not really a waste.

Back in the old church, Christmas celebration is not the thing. In fact, even greeting, “Merry Christmas!” is discouraged. Well, there are many reasons why. Christmas celebration has its pagan origin. Even pastors who celebrate Christmas acknowledged this. In fact, Puritans, under the leadership Cromwell, outlawed this celebration. If there will come a time that I’m allowed to go back to the old church, I’ll respect that stand of the old church. However, there are many things pagan in the Philippines that even Baptist churches have:
1) our name itself
2) the calendar (Gregorian calendar; January comes from Janus for example)
3) the name of the days of the week (Saturday was derived from Saturn)

Those are some stuff that is pagan in origin. If we don’t like Christmas because of its pagan origin, then, let us scrap our name, our calendar. Besides, Philippines is a Gentile nation, not Jewish, what will you expect? How about not accepting Christmas bonus for the sake of that “stand”, even if your bonuses are 5 figured amount or more?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bulldoze Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas. Besides, let me tell you my personal stand on Christmas:

1) Jesus Christ was not born on December 25.
2) Christmas, though pagan in nature, is a perfect time to share God’s Word.
3) This is a perfect time to show generosity (by the way, generosity is Biblical).
4) The wise men gave gifts and worship Jesus; there’s no alcohol drinking involved.
5) Christmas time is a holiday; it’s a best time to be with family, friends, loved ones. Is that wrong?

Now, my point is this: if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I will respect that. However, please respect me for greeting you, “Merry Christmas”, the way I respect other people’s stand on not celebrating Christmas.

Random note: for me, believers should be legalistic. Oops. Yes, you saw the writings right: believers should be legalistic. Wait, does that mean I believe that salvation is by works? No way.

Let me explain: the Bible is full of orders, not requests. For example, “Pray without ceasing.” It’s an order, not an option. Bible is legalistic; it’s full of things that a believer in Christ MUST DO. However, when it comes to salvation, it’s by grace through faith. Still, there is a legal color in that. If a person doesn’t follow what 1 John 1:9, John 3:16, Romans 10:13, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, etc. said, and made another way of salvation, the person will surely go to Hell.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we are living in the church age or grace dispensation. I believed that man can only be saved by grace through faith. I just said those two paragraphs just to say that people accusing Baptists as legalistic to carefully pick the term to be used. Personally, what I discouraged is what Diotrephes in III John 9 did: being too technical and dogmatic.

Well, just a random note.

Christmas is coming. I know this is cliché, but instead of thinking what to receive, think of what you can give. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Don’t think, “Hah, you start it.” Or “I know someone who needs to start it.” Don’t think that way. Instead, think of what you, and you alone (no finger pointing… Finger pointing is the reason why there are Christians inside the church who don’t participate. They think other people can do that), can give. It can be material or something intangibles. Don’t misunderstand my words; it’s purely a reminder, a piece of advice. That’s all. Try it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Today, December 16, 2007, will be the last Sunday for our Youngsters in the new church. I decided that the youngsters should have a Holiday break from the Youth ministry (only). However, it doesn’t mean they’ll have a Holiday break in the church. Since this is Christmas season, the new church will have a Christmas activity next Sunday, December 23. Besides, this is also a perfect time to spend with family, relatives, true friends, loved ones, etc.

The YPF will resume next year, January 6, 2008. Still though, I still plan to have an informal meeting with the college and working singles on what to do at 2008. Honestly, I spend time, money, and energy to these people because not all the time, I’ll be there for them. I believe that these singles can do better than I am. Besides, my assistant, Joef, may not be that dynamic, but he has rapport to the youngsters, especially to a specific youngster (I admit. I’m still praying for this youngster. I don’t know. Is it me or is it just the John Maxwell principle that a strong person will just follow a stronger person [stronger being that person]? Still though, whatever the reason is [only God knows], I can’t force someone to follow my lead. It is really earned).

It will be my 2nd Christmas in this new church. Honestly, I enjoyed my stay here. Even until now, I still thanked God for using this new church for me to bounce back. At times, I miss the old church. Someone indirectly told me that my place is not in this new church; it is in the old church. Yep, the person who said that is very much right, but what can I do? The leadership had spoken: I need to stay longer in this new church. I don’t want to play a rebel (like a typical excommunicated one). Thus, I will stay here, and I’m enjoying my stay here. I don’t want to be distracted with something that I can’t have for the mean time (you know what I mean). Still, I will let God move which church I should be, whether it be the old church or the new church. In case I’ll be back in the old church, it will be a struggle. My Mom and AC don’t want me there if they will have it their way (which the old church SHOULD understand).

Still though, at the end of the day, the fact remains: I’m a kick out. All of this is a by-product of what I have done. I have no choice but to live with it, while moving on.

However, Christmas is in the air. I don’t want to spoil the holiday because of this distraction in my head. God used the new church in order for me to feel the love and grace of God. I will always cherish this church that adopted me. I will always value them. Why? Most of them know what I did, yet they accepted me with open arms.

I don’t care if I’ll not be rewarded in Heaven for this ministry because this ministry is not connected with the old church. If God will just let me stay here until He comes without me serving the sentence in the old church, so be it. After, God is in charge, and I accept it with open arms. I just can’t help but serve God through the youth ministry. Christmas is in the air. I miss the old church, but God gave a new church to love and be loved, until the time that God doesn’t want me there.

For now, I just want to greet you advance Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Finally, i met this poet

Last Tuesday (December 4), I met someone at Adamson University (my alma mater). Her name is Maika, and a 1st year mass communication student. Actually, we have met before in Deviantart. She’s one of my poetic friends there. She’s cute, isn’t she? Some people say she looks like either Yasmien Kurdi or Bea Alonzo (minus the height…hehehehe..Maika, if you’re reading this, peace, sistah…hehehehe). In fact, she’s one of the three persons that inspire me to do poetry (like I said). By the way, they’re younger than I am. Still, it doesn’t stop me from learning some stuff, like poetry. We chat for about 30 minutes. Then, at around 6pm, I left the place. I need to get my car at SM – San Lazaro (I was stuck in the traffic. I’m still Chinese General Hospital at around 2:40PM, and I’m coding. Because of that, I decided to park my car at that Mall).

Change topic: December 7, 2007. That’s the date when I posted this one. 18 days to go, it’s Christmas Day. I admit that I’m still adjusting to the Christmas atmosphere. Why? I grew up in a Baptist church that doesn’t celebrate Christmas (the old church). No, don’t get me wrong. I respect their stand on that. I have received my 13th month pay. I bought some stuff, like the usual comic books, writing stuff, and a 80 gb external hard disk. I also bought a headphone w/ microphone. I wanted in my laptop without disturbing others.

Seriously, enough of those stuff for now. What I really wanted to say is this: after the success of YPF day, distraction is starting to creep in. I wasted countless hours on nothing but pondering, doing nothing. Blogging is much better than just mere pondering. At least in blogging, you put entries, learning from it especially when you reread the post.

In addition, a youth member is telling that she has a problem with things, with a guy. I notice a pattern of behavior: she shares a problem via text messages. However, when you talk to her in person, especially in the church, she’ll just look left and right. At times, she’ll play dumb as if she didn’t say anything at all. In fact, she even denied once that we exchanged text message in a specific day. There are times that she became rude to me, only to apologize at text (sounds very familiar? It’s like after you have shown to the whole world that you did that me, then you’ll PRIVATELY apologize). She did that about three times. There is one instance that this youth member denied that she knows something about a brethren’s case (I know that she knows everything; she shared some of those to me) by pointing my assistant leader (knows many things). When I asked what the real deal is, she just said that she will sleep. I didn’t dig deeper. I don’t dig things, especially to people who don’t want to be dug. I respect one’s privacy.

Still, being a youth leader, I know that it will be wrong to side with her solidly. Why? I haven’t heard the other side (she shared to me before that she is at odds with a fellow single lady. Now, she’s at odds with another single lady. I don’t want to mention what words she said, but it is piercing). I wanted to ask the other side of the issue (being their leader, I should, even if one of them is lying. It’s no longer my fault if they lied), but I wanted to talk to them in such a way that I’m being fair enough. What caught my ire is when the youngster said that the reason why the new church can’t grow is because of this and that. I didn’t reply back when she said that. I just told that I’ll pray for her. I told that she’s more blessed than I am. She justified with rebuttals. Because she’s 19, I’m wise enough not to argue and let her speak. I told her that I’ll pray for her the way I pray for other youngsters.

This is what I’m telling the youngsters a few weeks back: strive not to be distracted after YPF day. Her conflicts, if confirmed true (through two or more witnesses, which is Biblical), are distractions that will make a Christian quit. Still though, even if I’m in the new church, the youngsters are still the same.

Still though, I tried not to think too much about that. It will just ruin my day. Besides, I leave the answering to God when I prayed on this matter.

As the youth leader of the new church for 13 months, I have learned that listening is a must. I learned that it is really wise not to react too fast (except if life and death situations…hehehe) because you didn’t hear “the conclusion of the story” yet. I also learned to focus on the goal, the outcomes, and strengths, not on the weakness of a fellow brethren.

I pray that God will give me more wisdom in dealing with this. Still though, I find youth ministry fulfilling.

Monday, December 3, 2007

another piece of past that i confronted...good.

A former co-leader in the old church made a “Friendster request” to me. At first, I was quite hesitant. She is the one who sarcastically told me, “Before you call me ‘sister’, have a public apology first”. Still, I added her. Then, I prayed what words to say. I have to say what I felt at those times. I need to tell her that, yes, what I have done is wrong, but what she had said to me was wrong. Yes, she may not accept it, but at least I have said. At least I have followed what the Bible said on this matter: if a brother is offended to someone, say it to the person personally.

Then, I gave her a two-part statement. It’s a tell-all. I told her honestly, yet tactfully as possible, what I felt. I told her that what she said is wrong. I told that that’s not how you treat a fallen brother. She replied, with a short one or two sentence, saying, “Oh well, it’s okay. Don’t worry. Past is past. It’s a good thing that you’re back.”

I admit, the reply is quite bitchy. She never admitted her mistake because I committed fornication. It’s like even if she said wrong things, it’s right because the one you’ll address committed something wrong. I believe in the principle of sowing and reaping. Sin begets sin. A snatcher will be robbed also, one way or another, AND the one who robbed him? Something will also happen to him and so on and so forth.

Oh well, at least I have said what I wanted to say. At least I have seen how irresponsible she is with her statements. Still, I know it will be easier said than done, I forgave her for that, the way God forgave me, the way I’m trying to forgive myself for what I did wrong.

Still, even if this is quite long, I will not allow my Monday to be ruined by that reality. It’s a good day…isn’t it?