Connected Ka Ba? #afterthoughts

Despite the heavy rain and traffic, I braved Ortigas last Tuesday because I needed to get my hands on this new book written by one of my coolest OJT Supervisors back in ISACC days: Sir Rei Lemuel Crizaldo! Woot woot! Yes, my dear friends, I’m one of the firsts to have had witnessed this book in flesh before the Manila International Book Fair 2013 opened yesterday and before this book’s formal launch on Saturday at 1pm at OMF Literature’s booth at MIBF (make sure you’ll have the time to go there because the author will be there to sign your very own copies of his book)!

Several months ago, I heard that Sir Rei would be writing a book about prayer. Initially, I thought: why prayer? I honestly think that this wouldn’t be something that most people my age might be interested in, unlike love stories, sci-fi, novels and such. But kudos to his courage, I definitely salute what he had done in the book!

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The book is entitled Connected Ka Ba? (How to Pray Kahit Lo-batt Ka Na) which only contains 93 pages worth of read. It is very light that you could finish it in a matter of 1 (if you’re a fast reader) to 2.5 (or a slow one, like me) hours. The number of pages and the hours you’re going to read it doesn’t equate to the insights that you may gain or may be enlightened about as you go through the book. Not only that, I promise you that it’s enjoyable. I never thought Sir Rei had this sense of humor. Haha! There were parts that made me laugh and say to myself: Oo nga, noh? In all fairness with this book, #mahusay.

At the early discussions in it, I was glad to see a familiar name being quoted. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a Marshall McLuhan being quoted on a particular book outside your readings back in College. As a Communication Research graduate, McLuhan played a vital role in all of my exams back in my very first year-first semester in College. So, seeing him in the book gives me a jolt of joy like bumping with an old friend across a street in a city you haven’t been to. Lol. Babaw.

Anyways, according to McLuhan: We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Technology has unleashed its power of changing the way we view our world, especially when it comes to social media. Nowadays, everybody gets connected easily. We are the children of the digital age where Facebook comes second after brushing our teeth in the morning. The book tackled the reality of how convenient we think it would be for us if we were to find God in these social media applications we are so hyped about. Maybe then, praying would be easier. Maybe then, we could not just guess what God is telling us since He could directly comment on our status or PM us whenever He wanted to say anything or whenever He wanted to answer all our questions and requests. E di sana, ang dali ng buhay!

I love how the book reminded me that prayer is always personal. That each of us got different styles when it comes to praying – some sing it, dance it, write it, talk to God about it, being silent, staring at the ceiling like gazing stars at the top of a mountain, etcetera. It varies for every person. The book integrated how our culture as Filipinos somehow affects the way we behave when it comes to praying. Since we Filipinos have this ability to comprehend non-verbal actions impeccably, we also express ourselves non-verbally – if we can’t say what we want, we act it out. And yet, no two Filipinos pray the exact same way. It is a beauty to witness that even when we’re very similar, we are also very different.

“…Alam niyang sapat na kahit ang buntong-hininga para maipa-abot sa Diyos anuman ang laman ng kanyang kalooban.”

And even when we are different, the Lord just understands each of us perfectly. I love it! Shows you that the God we serve is not a puny God., right?

The book is honest in a way that it says how our motives and actions have consequences in our prayer life. You know how sometimes we harbor sin in our hearts and that hinders God from hearing us? This is one of the things I fear, that God won’t hear me because I let myself be covered with sin. That doesn’t mean to say that God is angry at us when we sin, He is angry at sin and He loves us so greatly that Forgiveness is always waiting in the wings. We just have to choose it. When we confess and let go of our most treasured sin, He is faithful and just to hear our petitions.

“Don’t worry. Hindi naman maramot ang Diyos sa pag-scan at pag-delete sa mga kasalanang nagagawa natin.”

What’s more overwhelming is that not only He hears us when we call but God wanted His children to call Him, Father. Nux, close na close!

“…Sa madaling salita, hindi ka basta-basta lalapit sa Diyos na makapangyarihan at kabanal-banalan. Pero binaliktad ito ni Jesus. Sabi Niya chill lang tayo. Let’s call the Lord, ‘Dad.’

Therefore, if He’s our Dad and we are His children, we don’t only ask from Him, we also need to listen to what He has to say about whatever it is that we are going through, right? Prayer is communication – we speak, we listen. Most times, just like many of us, I tell the Lord all I wanted to say and I intentionally forget to listen to what He has to say about me. It’s like He hasn’t responded yet but I already put the phone down. We work that way, we are creatures of convenience. Sometimes, we think that the Lord is not giving us answers, that He’s just not there when we need Him when we were the ones who can’t bear His answers we could find in silence.

“Prayer is when you realize and take God as your environment. He is always there, always speaking. It is a matter of paying attention.”

I love that the book doesn’t just discuss how we pray for ourselves but the need for us to pray for other people. It is called interceding for others. I liked how the book said this:

“Sa mata ng Diyos, hindi rin tama ang manalangin para sa sarili lang natin. Dahil ang lahat ng bagay ay magkakaugnay, mararapat lang na ang lahat ng tao ay marunong makiramay.

There are a lot of insights that I got from the book but my ultimate favorite was the realization that prayer is our life, it is the way we live. When we pray more, we depend on God more. Thus, our relationship with Him grows intimately. Whatever we do could be an act of prayer, an act of full dependence to that Someone we call Father. I think it is super nice to know that even God is an Almighty, He desires a relationship with us – a nobody. And for that, I am grateful.

Prayer is, indeed, an exciting journey after all. :)

The Street Performer and the Sugarfree Song

I had discovered a new way to battle stress and earn inspiration and that is: to run! Haha! :)

I had made a schedule of T-Th-S run nights and thank God for will power and discipline, I was at it for a month now (not counting last week since I got a full sched and wasn’t able to do some runs). And since I was stressed out yesternight – don’t worry, my primary cause of stress is myself, I think a lot about this thing I should be doing yet I’m not putting in the effort to finish it which causes my hormones to strain my neck and give me severe headaches – I decided that it was the right time to revamp my Run Game. The last week run that I had was just below the target line of the previous runs so I’m trying my hardest to get back on that run-game-face. But my new found passion for running is not the sole purpose of this entry (I could talk about that some other time soon).

Just got carried away at the moment. Sorry.

I run at Track 30 in Bonifacio Global City because it’s nice to run there and it’s just fifteen-jeepney-minutes away from our house. To go there, I shall pass through Market Market then Bonifcaio High Street then to Track 30. Btdubs, BHS will be the setting of the story. (haba lang ng intro lol)

As I was on my way home yesternight, I passed by a Street Performer whom was also there when I was on my way to my run. Did you get that? Pardon my English; it’s just messed up sometimes. The Street Performer got an old OPM song lined up that night and when he sang the chorus as I was passing by him, it just really gives me the feels. THE. FEELS. You know how a song works and stir your core, right? That’s what it did at that moment and it made me think of many many things to which also reminded me of a love story a Pastor at our church shared last Sunday.

The story was about a mother’s love for her daughter who left their village to pursue the life in the city. At such a young age, the daughter thought that if she will get into the city, she will live the life that she has always dreamed of. One day she left home without saying goodbye to her mother. When the mother found out that her daughter was gone, she sold everything she have and went looking for her in the city because she knew that that’s the place her daughter went. In the city, she printed out photos of her daughter and posted it in every hotel in the hope to find her. Months passed and she doesn’t have anything that would lead to her daughter and so she went back to the village. After a few years, the daughter’s life became chaotic and hopeless; as she was walking down the streets, at a shady hotel she found a familiar photo by the window, she recognized that the little girl in the photo was her, she knew that her mother went looking for her when she ran from home. She looked at the back of the photo and saw her mother’s handwriting:

Wherever you are, whatever you have done, whatever you have become, I love you. Please come home.

The daughter did and she was reconciled with her mother. Love. That was just pure love of a mother.

From the OPM song that I heard from the Street Performer, the line that captured my soul was:

Kung wala ka ng makapitan
(If you don’t have someone to hold on to)
Kapit ka sa Akin, kapit ka sa Akin
(Hold on to Me, Hold on to Me)
Hindi Kita bibitawan
(I will never let you go)

And I thought the Lord was speaking to me just like the mother’s handwriting spoke to the heart of her daughter in the love story.

When I got home, the first thing I did is to search for the title and the whole lyrics of the song since it was years ago when I heard it. The title of the OPM song was Wag Ka Nang Umiyak (Please Don’t Cry) by Sugarfree.

(I won’t be translating from here)

Wag ka nang umiyak sa mundong pabago-bago
Pag-ibig ko ay totoo
Ako ang iyong bangka
Kung magalit man ang alon at panahon
Sabay tayong aahon

Chorus:
Kung wala ka ng maintindihan
Kung wala ka ng makapitan
Kapit ka sa akin (kapit ka sa akin)
Hindi kita bibitawan

Wag ka nang umiyak mahaba man ang araw
Uuwi ka sa yakap ko
Wag mo nang damdamin
Kung wala ako sa iyong tabi
Iiwan ko ang puso ko sayo
At kung pakiramdaman mo’y
Wala ka ng kakampi
Isipin mo ako dahil
Puso’t isip ko’y nasa iyong tabi

Kung wala ka nang maintindihan
Kung wala ka nang makapitan
Kapit ka sa akin (kapit ka sa akin)
Hindi kita bibitawan
Hindi kita paba-bayaan (di kita paba-bayaan)
Kapit ka… kumapit ka…

I know that it’s a love song (for a person) but I really feel that this is what God is saying to each one of us.

You know, it is a fact that the Lord loves us. It will never ever change no matter what the circumstances in our life are or how we respond to them, etc etc. Jesus loves us, it’s a constant. The question is, do we love Him? Do we love our Father that we would want to hold on to Him when everything around us fails and falls? He is always there looking out for us and it’s not because of what we’ve done, it is because He is what He is. He is love. He loves us. He’s there for us not because we are great but because He is great.

And that’s why we love Him, because He first loved us.

The song is just too sweet of a reminder: Kumapit ka sa Akin at hindi Kita bibitawan (hold on to Me and I will never let you go). We only need to run… Run to the arms of our One true GOD! :)

PS: Wag Ka Nang Umiyak was such a bad title for this song. I was teary-eyed when I felt every line of it. Haha! Ain’t it so good? Thank you Lord for music! #nakakakiligKalang :)

 

Unstoppable Faith

Last Saturday, I was able to witness a living miracle inspiring hundreds of thousands of people all over the world and it was just so amazing to hear him speak live before my eyes.

A man of faith, Nick Vujicic, was born with no arms and no legs but that “limitation” did not stop him from being unstoppable for God.

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Nick Vujicic | photo via Google

At age eight, Nick shared, it was very difficult for him to understand why God did not give him what every other people has. He was so confused and devastated, asking God that if He truly loves him then why did He made him with no arms and no legs while every other kid in their school has their arms and legs.

“My question to God is ‘why me?’”

There were lies, he said, that crawled at the back of his mind. Lies like: he will never ever walk or run, he will never have a family of his own, he will always be alone, he will never hold someone’s hands or carry his own son. At age ten, he wanted to end his life and all his sufferings but one thing had stopped him – his parents. All his life he only felt love and support from his parents and siblings that he couldn’t bear to see them crying on his grave, hurting, just because he gave up.

“Whatever broken pieces you have, whatever the enemy uses for bad; if you offer it to the Lord, Jesus will set it to something beautiful.”

Nick chose to believe the Truth. He chose to believe the Word of God. And God gave him peace. At age fifteen, he encountered a story in the Bible where Jesus was asked by this person why injustices, sickness, bad things are happening in his life; that’s when Jesus answered that those things are happening so that the world will know how God will work on his life.

See, Jesus don’t give us bad things; that’s Satan. But our Lord won the battle, He won the war. He met Satan face to face and Satan has nothing on Him. Satan may come to steal and destroy but Jesus comes to heal and restore. If we only give our lives to the Lord, He will always be there for us every step of the way. There may be circumstances that would make it hard for us to understand yet our focus, our Hope, should be in God.

Nick kept praying for arms and legs but he came to the understanding that God has the best plan for his life. Who needs arms and legs, he said, when he is flying with the wings of the Spirit.

Be the Miracle

“It’s very tempting to be jealous; it’s very tempting to see what everyone else has. Did my circumstances change? No. What changed is my heart. Arms and legs are not happiness. The greatest things in life are not things; any pleasure you can see, touch or hold is only temporary.

Can I smile? Yes. But does that mean that I don’t cry? No. But even though I walk through the valley of shadow and death, I can smile.

Brokenness is brokenness; but, don’t let brokenness define your future. Don’t let your circumstances define your joy.

I stand in front of you as a miracle of God that world cannot argue with.”

What are we waiting for? Let’s put our faith in action. Should bad things happen to us, it is never the end. Our faith is unstoppable because we have an unstoppable God.

You know the paradox of a Christian life? You give and it will come back to you. You surrender so that you may have. You die so you live. It will never be an easy life but I loved that no matter what we’re going through, somewhere along the line, if we truly lay it down at the foot of the cross, it could be used by God so that others may know His goodness and mercy? Amazing, right?

If God can use someone with no arms and no legs, I’m sure God will use us too, God will use you. Are we willing to be used by God?

Grow deep in the faith.

Be of Faith

“There is no recession of the peace of God. There is no recession of the grace of God.”

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A Review of Some Sort

Today, we will talk about Love. Yes, I’ll go straight to the point. This is what happens when children grow up, they talk about love and stuff. Haha. Anyways…

Few weeks back, I finally read Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

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I’ve seen this book being read by my blockmates back in College; I knew then that it would be something worth reading. But at that time, I got this very little patience when it comes to “practical” books (those that give suggestions on what to do with your life and all that), I’m only fond of reading fiction novels ergo I read no Joshua in College Days. September last year however, when I went to a book fair, I finally decided to buy the book. Oh, please don’t judge if I just read it three weeks ago. ;)

The book got my attention in the first few chapters. A lightning struck; I got hooked. Joshua shared his convictions with regards to dating – if he is not ready for intimacy, for marriage, he will not commit to be in a relationship with someone (even giving hints when there are times that he already got a prospect in mind). He is very ideal. The reason why he decided to choose this path is that he believes that this is what The Lord wanted him to do: to develop intimacy with God and to value relationships with the people surrounding him (not leading them to something that will become confusing and messy, but taking care of them like brothers and sisters).

Joshua considers the plans of The Lord in stored for him and he is willing to wait while he is in the season of singleness in his life. He’s willing to sacrifice the good now in order to get the best later. While in his current season, he wanted to grow deeper in his relationship with God; exploring and obeying where The Lord has placed him to go, to reach out, to serve.

When I was eleven years old, even when I got silly crushes, I was ideal as Joshua’s. While in the middle of reading his book, I found out, ten years after that I made myself vulnerable to compromise. I haven’t been in any relationships ever since although I got this certain person that I really really like and I always thought that if this guy will pursue me, I might say yes. As Joshua says, God placed in our hearts the desire to be in a relationship, to be in a commitment, but we should only do so at the right time, at the right place, with the right person.

I always thank God that He never made this guy that I like pursue me. For one, thank God that the guy doesn’t like me the way I did for him; second, The Lord knows how deceiving my heart can be and I know that He’s protecting me. God will grant my desire of being in a relationship when he knows that I am ready. He doesn’t want me to settle. And I also know that I shouldn’t be equally yoke with an unbeliever. It is hard, yes, but focusing on God will make it easier for us. And I need, like Joshua and all of us Christians, to grow deeper in love with The Lord first and everything will just fall in its right pieces of the puzzle.

I hated that the book revealed my petty desires for the things and persons that I wanted now. Dyahe. Haha. It is also the same reason, however, that I loved it because it speaks of the truth, of what we all should pursue of if we wanted to honor God in our relationships.

I liked that Joshua pointed out our selfish tendencies when we like a person; how we always wanted to know if our feelings are reciprocated and if it were, we feel good. Most times, we only think about what good we can get and love is not like that. Love is thinking of what is best for the other person, it involves wisdom when to know the right timing to be with each other. Of course, it is easier said than done. But we always have to start with our choices. As the old saying goes, nothing worth-having comes out easy.

Hustle while we wait! Lets not just stand here and do nothing. Lets serve God with all our might, focusing our undivided attention to him, seeking to pursue the joy of obeying our Master. Ladies, lets behave like a queen to attract a king. Don’t ever settle. And while we’re here, lets make the most of our time!

As for me, I’m renewing my vows to relationships and commitment, bringing back my eleven to my twenty-one year old self. ;)

Bookmarked!

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No! to Lady Gaga

A proposal to take our stand as Christians who love the Lord and all that He loves in this world.

1. Should we ban the concert of Lady Gaga?

NO. Concern for censorship reflects more the weakness and failings of the fearful party rather than the actual capacity/power of the censored object. Why be afraid of Lady Gaga’s music if people have been adequately grounded in their faith through faithful discipleship and all? (See Ephesians 4:13-14)

2. Should the church suppress the songs of Lady Gaga and rally against it?

NO. The antidote to “bad communication” is not “no communication” but “good communication.” In other words, freedom of expression is always best safeguarded. If one finds a message lacking in truth and is presenting an inadequate account of reality, the best way to counter it is to offer a response -one that offers a more compelling alternative. Besides the church has more pressing issues to rally against. What about the slaughter of helpless trees by these greedy gigantic malls? The escape of a Panamian who raped a daughter of our nation? The crooks in the government who keep blocking the government’s crusade against corruption? The massive poverty in our communities aggravated by the presence of unjust and oppressive structures and legislative provisions? By addressing these issues, the church may gain more support for its press-briefings. (See the spirit of the verse in Matthew 23:23)

3. Can the church ignore the songs of Lady Gaga?

NO. The apparent affinity and comfort that certain segments of young people (esp. the outcasts and misunderstood) feel for the message of her songs reveal a social reality that the seems to have been ignored or left to the fringes by the church. The church might actually learn a thing or two from Lady Gaga on how to speak from where the new generation is coming from. It might as well be argued that no matter how depraved or wretched in sin, figments and fragments of God’s grace remains to be present in the world. (See Psalms 24:1)

4. Should the church be overly concerned of the disturbing subliminal messages and latent metaphors and images commonly associated with the “dark forces” of the world (e.g. Satanic)?

NO. Messages like these have long proliferated in the Internet particularly in the music/media industry. Why single out Lady Gaga just because of her popularity? Given the pace of technology nowadays, it would also be impossible to have such things out of reach by the media savvy young people. A more pressing question is what contributes to her popularity among the youth despite the rather “dark” nature of her materials?

5. Should the church spend its time exposing and fishing for “anti-Christian” elements that Lady Gaga embedded in her music?

NO. In a world where the audience is empowered to read their own personal meanings into any work, it would prove to be a better use of time to discover ways on how to make use of the motivations that leads people to patronize her music. This information could better be of use to the church as it tries to re-capture the attention and imagination allured by Lady Gaga’s musical outputs. Besides, it would be unfair to expect reflection of biblical values in the works of someone who does not at all claim to uphold Christ or his teachings. In other words, we should not condemn Lady Gaga for creating music at its best according to the standards that is within her grasp. (See Romans 8:7).

6. Should the church keep silent about the impact of Lady Gaga’s music?

NO. Just as it is Lady Gaga’s right and interest to craft music according to her inclinations and disposition, the church should craft ways on how to creatively popularize and mainstream biblical values and perspectives. Should Lady Gaga be enjoying a wider hearing is not her fault at all. It will just show how the church is losing and biting the dust with regards to packaging and proclaiming its “well-kept secret message.” It should be a wake-up call for the church to launch its artists and musicians into the world rather than keep and stifle their creativity within the four-walls of the church. Jesus himself said, “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)

7. Should the church approve of Lady Gaga’s perspectives on life and morality?

No. Trying to grapple with the social dimension of her music and all the valuable lessons that it can give doesn’t should not dilute the fact that it steps over Christian virtues and Filipino cultural values. We should be able to call a spade a spade even at the expense of losing popular approval (II Timothy 4:1-5). Understanding her worldview and those that benefits from her music (e.g. homosexuals, etc.) is different from legitimizing it in the public space. Sympathy doesn’t necessarily need to translate to approval. Nor should we, Christians, let it be misunderstood that way.

8. Would Jesus be threatened by the derogatory and blasphemous remarks made by Lady Gaga?

Not at all! Every authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt. 28:19). He is reigning now as King of Kings and Lords of lords. No statement made by anyone not even by Satan could trample upon that authority. In the end, every knee shall bow upon His name. This thought should keep us from allowing Satan’s lie (that he is getting the upperhand in the epic battle for rulership of God’s creation) to creep into our minds and hearts. Let us be aware that our well-meaning efforts to defend God may actually be hindering the onward march of His kingdom. As the well known quote puts it, “the best way to defend the Lion is not to get in its way. It should simply be let loose and fend for itself.”

Let our “No” to Lady Gaga be a “Yes” to sanity and goodwill. He who has ears, let him hear.

Article GRABBED was written by Rei Lemuel Crizaldo.