Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Thrill of Fellowship

I love the thrill that I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people
What a sight just to see all the happy faces
Praising God in heavenly places
Love the thrill that I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people.”

My last post talked about the long bus rides I have been taking and their significance to me. Last Wednesday, that’s exactly what I took again – a long bus ride.

The student Pastors 
The Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) had its national assembly last week and the students at our Bible School (NNBBC) which I plan to write about in the near future, were to perform a few numbers during the Institution Night.

Our school is relatively small in comparison to the other Bible institutions under the Convention. So,  it was understandable why all our students were a little jittery while waiting for their turn.  I, too, who was assigned to be the narrator had butterflies eagles fighting inside my stomach. In the many years that I have been into public speaking, I have not been nervous like I was that night. There were over a thousand pastors and church workers in attendance. I have spoken to an audience bigger than that but somehow, that night, I. WAS. JUST. VERY. NERVOUS!

Set Free Skit
Light of a Million Mornings

The students performed 3 numbers that depict unity in the body of Christ. It was grace displayed. Considering our limitations in time and resources, it was really God's Grace that helped us pull through.  The performances were very amazing, people were touched and God was glorified. After the performance, people couldn’t stop talking about it. There’s a reason why people can’t get over it. There’s a history that has God’s providence written all over it. Story for another day!

But there’s something that really left an impression in my heart. It is the overwhelming warmth of the pastors. As I watched them gather in small circles, talk about random things, I can hear them laugh like they have no cares in the world. (And to think, pastoring a church is one of the most stressful work there could ever be.) Their clothes depict simplicity yet they have a posture of contentment.  It was really wonderful sitting down with them and getting some of that energy and unwavering spirit in serving the Lord.
Young and Older  pastors taking a break 

It’s now Saturday and I still can't shake off that wonderful feeling of being with people who share the same passion as I do. It is meet-ups like this that encourage me to sing…

“ I love the thrill that I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people
What a sight just to see all the happy faces
Praising God in heavenly places
Love the thrill that I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people.”
My kind of Guys!! A photo opportunity with some of my  Young Pastor-friends..with a few older ones! I love being with them. Inspiring!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love and Bus Rides


I have a long standing relationship with the yellow buses called “Ceres”. It’s a love-hate relationship. I love them because they take me to places I need to be in but hate them too because they leave me with no options. Talk about monopoly!

For as long as I could remember, bus rides play a role in my memories. When I was about 8 or 9, I remember my father telling me and my younger sisters  about a long bus ride we were going to take to see his parents. It was going to be a 3-hour ride. Roads were terrible back then and travels were long. I remember vomiting in the bus. But I don’t remember my parents being uncomfortable about it. Years after, I dreaded the vacation for fear of vomiting again in the bus. I was so anxious that at the moment we would hop on the bus, I’d tell my father I was gonna vomit right away. Haha!

I outgrew that fear of bus rides in high school. I was 15 when I first traveled alone. I endured a 2-hour bus ride to spend the summer with my cousins. 

My fear of travelling alone was addressed in college. I went to a university in Manila and stayed with my Uncle and his family. They lived an hour and a half by bus from my school. And traffic was just T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E. I had to leave by 5 am so I won’t be late for my 8 am class.  

But it was during those bus rides when poetry started dancing in my mind. My mind wandered as the bus rolled through the coastal road in Paranaque. I didn’t have the luxury of owning a phone when I was in college so my lines were crookedly written in a tiny notebook that I had handy.

When I started working, Monday bus rides were dreaded  but a late Friday night ride home was all I looked forward to the whole week. And that longing to be home intensified when I fell in love.

Love. Yes, that too had its own share of bus ride memories. I once packed my resume in my suitcase and took an 8-hour bus ride to Cebu, with the intention of starting a life where love blooms. The promises of warm embraces and that “soon-to-be blissful morning”  were all I have in my bags. After what seemed like the longest 8 months of my life, after a long  afternoon talk with the man I have loved for years,  I headed for the bus stop. On a cold January night, I packed my suitcase along with my broken heart and headed home.

Bus rides never stopped amusing me. I have had my best moments and best cries, too, inside the bus. Since I moved back home, I constantly travel to Bacolod for my appointments. Everytime I look at the landscape or the intricate designs of the clouds, I can’t figure out why men still deny the presence of God. its awesome how God reveals himself to me in those moments.

But I also had my irritating bus ride moments. Like, when I was teaching at a Bible School for two semesters, every Tuesday I’d take the bus down there and the ‘konduktor’ would always drop me 50 meters way past my stop. It was always by mistake despite my constant reminders. Then there were times too, especially on a Friday night, when the bus would be so full you could hardly move and the rain would pour down hard. Naturally, they’d close the windows and bam…my claustrophobic self would then be in tears.

More than once, I had commented on how I love bus rides except the part where it reminds me of my singleness. (Especially when I overhear lovers' conversations...and sometimes, their phone conversations too. Haha!)

Bus rides have also played a great role in my ministry. I travel most times via bus. Once, I traveled 4 hours to speak to a group of pastors. There were just 12 of them. At times, the bus takes me to appointments with hundreds, and once a thousand or more.
This the bus ride we took to Caramay, Palawan during a
mission trip to the Batak Tribe in 2010.

This post is inspired by a recent bus ride I took to speak to over a hundred young people last Friday night. I spoke about LOVE. It was amazing to watch these kids burn with so much passion for God and spend their time and energy worshipping Him. On my way home, though tired and sleepless, I couldn’t help but think about it. Then I was reminded of what I spoke about:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he gave his life for his friends.” John 15:13

The cross was not a bus ride away, yet he came.

And so I thought, all these long bus rides are worth it. All these long, bus rides alone are worth it. They are nothing compared to what Jesus had to go through.

And oh, we can never tell, love might also just be a bus ride away. *wink*

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Decors and Planners

A few days back, I took down the Christmas decors. I put it up last Christmas and actually wrote a blogpost in my mind about it. Obviously, it didn’t get to the papers.

So I took them down with thoughts of how similarly, when we decorate ourselves with things that don’t last, the ‘removing process’ is always tedious and unenjoyable. I love Christmas decors. Although I know that decors don’t say much about what Christmas really means to me, I still insist on putting them up. I make a big deal out of Christmas. I have all the reasons, right?

Taking them down is not an enjoyable as putting them up. And same thing is true when God asks you to take down some seemingly nice things in your life when their season is over. There are some things, however, that should have not been in your life in the first place.

My new year’s reflection, Isaiah 43: 18 – 21 says

“Remember not the former things, 
nor consider the things of old. 
Behold, I am doing a new thing; 
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 
I will make a way in the wilderness 
and rivers in the desert. 
The wild beasts will honor me, 
the jackals and the ostriches, 
for I give water in the wilderness, 
rivers in the desert, 
to give drink to my chosen people, 
the people whom I formed for myself 
that they might declare my praise. 

There are many things about the last year that God has been talking to me about with 2 strong words: DROP IT!

At first, I tried to ask God to explain to me these things. How silly. I asked as if, when God explains them, my small mind would understand. “My thoughts are not your thoughts…” . I went back to sanity soon enough and surrendered.

There is a reason why God wants us to ‘bury’ these things away. The Lord has promised that He is doing a new thing:

(a) A way in the wilderness – The dead-end situations will see new pathways to freedom.

(b) Rivers in the desert – The Lord will make appointments to refresh us just when we can’t see Him.

(c) The wild beast will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches – All that make you afraid will fall before my feet. There is nothing to fear.

All these because we are chosen with one purpose: TO DECLARE HIS PRAISE.

So, out with the decors, in with the planner!

Its time to surrender the plans to the maker so He can plot His praise!

I always decorate my planner. So here's the 'Planning the planner'  scene.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Into the Dawn of 2012

I am  thankful at the sound of my keyboard as I type. Its thrilling! I intend to write more regularly. I have decided to not wait for the 'perfect words'. I am no longer writing for art. I am writing to testify. And somehow, my love (and struggle) for artful writing has hostaged my testimonies. When you read, I hope you find LIFE not just art.

My last update was in November and I’d like to pick up where I left off.

So the 11th of November came and we all were hauled to Balai Isabel, a very picturesque venue for the wedding of my cousin Sherl. It was raining the whole time, with forecasts of typhoon. But God was so great! The sun smiled at us when Sherl walked down the aisle.

That day!
Speaking of her walking down the aisle, that in itself is a miracle. She almost didn’t make it to the altar. She was dehydrated the day before due to a stomach malfunction (if that’s an acceptable term..hehehe). She ate a plateful of shrimps and it wasn’t too friendly for her stomach. She was on IV from the car to the resort and slept through the day, missing her own rehearsal dinner. So, when we saw her walk down the aisle, we were in tears.

Cousins with Lolo
Family time after the wedding was awesome. Nothing beats having 30 plus people sleep in one big house. I had to take some Jacuzzi time just so I could nap. Seriously! It was my version of ‘no room in the inn’! haha!

Then, Christmas came!!!!!
Our Family picture after the church choir cantata!

I had a less-busy holiday schedule this year compared to last year. No speaking engagements, no parties. Yeah, the perks of being unemployed includes:  no shopping for office exchange gifts, no rummaging the closet for what to wear, and no worries of what to bring to the party. In other words, no spending! I went to a quiet dinner with friends and the annual high school homecoming. So far those were my two social events. Haha!

Leading the kids during games.
Our high school class, PNULHS Class of '98, had an outreach program again. This year, we teamed up with batch '86. I am thankful for this opportunity that God has given us to bring His love to kids. this year, we also launched our 'RACE to DECEMBER 2013' campaign. Its an effort to get the PNU Alumni excited for 2013, the year when our class hosts the homecoming. 
The girls with the LOGO on our backs.

New years was great! While my side of the world was busy chasing bad energy away via fireworks (so, animistic!), I was tucked in my bed reading an article in a book entitled “Einstein and Faith”.

I felt empty. I wanted a big-bang realization. An Aha! Moment to start the year. A miraculous phone call from a long lost person. A spinning. A thrill.


I closed the book. Then,  my ears were suddenly accommodating the sounds of the firecrackers. One by one, as if they come in layers, I peeled them off my system and found myself following  a trail to my soul. My quiet soul.  Yes, a quiet soul I found. No realizations, no spinnings, no thrills. Peace. Just peace.

Peace. And it was enough for me.

Philippians 4:7 “…and the PEACE of God that transcends all understanding will guards your minds in Christ Jesus.”

No firework could beat the grand explosion of peace in my heart. 2012 had some welcome!!!!

I do this when I'm surprised. Just with wider eyes. Hehehe! 2012 will see lots of this! :)