Tag Archives: Faith

On waiting… (again)

Waiting can really bring out the worst in people. I’m not very good at waiting, and this is proven by the fact that I am writing about this yet again (if you missed it, I first wrote about it here).

When I find myself in a situation where I have to wait, not only do I get impatient, but I tend to become more distracted and more emotional. I try to find ways to take away the discomfort that I feel, and more often than not, I end up spending my time on things that aren’t very important. Anything that will numb my “pain” quickly.

I know it’s the same for some people, but maybe the distractions and temporary solutions differ. Not all methods are bad, but they’re probably not the wisest ideas either.

The sad reality is that the distractions and temporary solutions never fully heal us or take away the discomfort, because the discomfort is there for a reason. I find that it usually serves as a warning signal–a sign that something needs to be checked.

When I find myself in a time of waiting, that’s when my enemies come out to play:  my impatience, lack of focus, skewed perspectives, tendency to be overly anxious,  even my selfishness and self-centeredness. All sorts of stuff come out during times like these, and when I do take the time to stop and really take a good look at myself, I am disgusted and frustrated, but at the end of the day, I am also grateful. The sooner these things come out, the sooner I am humbled, and the sooner I am more willing (and wanting!) to step aside and let God do His work in me. I can’t make all of these recurring or surfacing issues go away on my own, but He is able. I just wish I would remember this sooner, and run to Him first, instead of wasting my time on other things. *Sigh*

I like the way King David put it:

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”
-Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG)

Can you relate? What have you seen in the mirror lately?

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The Soundtrack to Our Lives

Some of my favorite soundtracks :)

I like listening to film scores. The music tells stories, just as much as the visuals do. I specifically like listening to the first and final tracks.

The first tracks are usually played in the beginning of the movie while the opening titles are appearing–there’s that feeling of hope and anticipation and excitement. I love music that makes you feel like anything can happen. In a way, there’s also a sense of history; it’s like the music lets you know that the story picks up from somewhere, and what will unfold next will be quite a journey. I love that.

Meanwhile, I like the final tracks because there’s some sort of happy ending (or at least you can tell which types of film scores I prefer). You can feel it in the music–there’s a sense of victory, triumph, and joy. A great score is one that leaves you with those feelings even after the music ends.

But a score will always be incomplete without the tracks in the middle. They’re not my favorite ones–they’re the ones filled with conflict, awkwardness, pain, and the like. When you listen to them on their own, without seeing the visuals–without context–it’s difficult to appreciate them at all. But we all know that we can’t take them out of the story. Without those tracks, the story would have no texture and the final tracks won’t have the same oomph.

As much as I love the beautiful first and final tracks, they can’t play all throughout the movie. A victory won’t exist without a battle, and moments of joy won’t stand out without seeing the moments of pain.

The same goes with life, though I often forget this. More often than not, I just want the good stuff to play on the background forever. But the truth is that there are going to have to be shifts and breaks–those are all part of my story. By faith, I know and believe that there is something even better to hold on to: the hope and the promise of a beautiful and wonderful final track.

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Don’t you love surprises?

When I don’t know what to write, it helps to go back to my old diaries and blogs. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. There are lots of random stuff, there are lots of stuff that are better off staying hidden, but there are also a lot of memories, thoughts, and insights that are golden–they’re valuable to me because they’ve been part of my journey.

I came across this entry that I wrote on this same week in the year 2007 (the year I made my decision to make Jesus the Lord of my life), which I thought I’d share with you.

“The other night, while we were having a steady night (shopping, dinner, dessert), I caught myself silently watching the Rivermaya Bagong Liwanag finalists who were sitting across me. They seem like nice people…young, optimistic, passionate, excited, shy…

I was thinking about how much their lives have already changed in the last couple of months and how much the life of the winner is going to change after the results are announced this week. As we were leisurely strolling around the Ortigas area, trying to burn calories and pass the time, I asked where they thought they would be if they had never auditioned for the show. I don’t recall them giving a definite answer; I just remember that they mumbled stuff and we laughed about it, but I’m pretty sure that they never expected to be tagging along with a seemingly random group of strangers on a steady Friday night, some of which, they would only listen to over the radio or see on TV. As for me, well, I’m as random as it can get. Haha.

I, for one, had no idea at the start of the year, that this is what life would be like for me this year. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. So much has happened this year. I felt like I’ve been to the bottom and back. I’m pretty certain that I’m not the person I was back in January.

A friend and I were talking last week about life’s uncertainties…I had even blogged about it, too. He said something that this year really served to remind us all about uncertainty…and how it does lead to excitement once you’ve worked it out in your head. After all, he said, we did realize that things were ALWAYS uncertain, and its the people around us that really matter.

This brings me to a thought I’ve had for last couple of years. Before, I just wanted to go away. I wanted to go back to New York, where I felt that anything was possible. I used to think that if I stayed here, I could already predict the way my life was going to go. I could already predict the type of people I would meet. I had myself believing that life in Manila would be like being stuck at a dead end. I used to think that only I had control over my destiny, and that if I had made wrong choices, I would miss out, or I would delay what was meant for me.

I’m so grateful for this year, because this was the year that the blinders came off, my old beliefs were shattered, and my perspective changed. I realized just how limited my vision used to be.

There are exciting and great things ahead. I believe that. This year proved to me that God can change the unchangeable, reach the unreachable, and He can soften the hardest of hearts. He is the Master of Surprises—and boy oh boy, do I love surprises.”

I wrote that in 2007, and it’s still so relevant for me today. This year has been filled with wonderful surprises for me, and I am simply amazed and grateful. If you told me last year that I would go through all of what I’ve been through in the past 9/10 months, I probably would’ve just laughed. This was the year that I’ve traveled more than I have ever traveled in my life, a reality that I can only attribute to God and His crazy generosity. I met wonderful people and experienced incredible things. I was pressed and pushed out of my comfort zone and I’ve been through the desert and back. But every twist and turn was worth it.

What about you–did you think you’d be where you are today? How did God surprise you this year?

Never Say Never (A guest post by David Bonifacio)

This is a guest post by David Bonifacio. I am constantly amazed at how David balances all the things that he has on his plate. But companies and job titles aside, I know this to be consistently true: he is a gifted writer and artist, and he composes music, too. He’s one of my favorite bloggers, so I’m grateful that he gamely agreed to write a guest post for this blog while I’m offline. This post is classic David: it’ll reel you in and make you think. I’m glad to share it with you:

Most of the people who know me know that I spend my Saturday mornings at the Real LIFE Foundation’s feeding program where we feed and play games with kids every week at our eco-friendly facility in Pasig. Despite usually having only 3 staff members there, Real LIFE is able to pull this off with a lot of help from volunteers and the LIFE Scholars, young men and women of leadership, integrity, faith, and excellence whose educations are sponsored by Real LIFE.

While at I was at last Saturday’s feeding, I was talking with one of the LIFE Scholars when, while talking about how much we both loved kids, he asked me a question from my personal FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Scholar: Planning to have some of your own soon?

Me (sidestepping the question): You? Haha!

Scholar: I never want to have any.

Me: You don’t? But you’re good with kids.

Scholar: I’ve thought about it, and I don’t want my children to experience what happened to me because of my dad. I don’t want to make them go through what my dad made me go through.

When I heard him say this I really felt something inside drop, not so much because he didn’t want to have kids, but more because of his reason: “I don’t want my children to experience what happened to me because of my dad. I don’t want to make them go through what my dad made me go through.” Here was this wonderful young man, smart, hardworking, determined, can run 5k in 15 minutes (that’s fast by the way), telling me that his reason for not wanting to have children was his fear of following in his father’s footsteps.

And many of us have similar fears.

Fears that we’ll become like our predecessors.

Fears that we won’t.

Fears that we’ll make the same mistakes.

Fears that we won’t reach the same heights.

Fears of never being able to break the limitations they’ve lived with and passed on to you.

Fears that we will drop the baton when it’s our turn.

We have our own versions that have trapped us Never-land–not the one from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, but a lie cooked-up in hell–that we will never fulfill a dream because it’s too big, that we will never make a wish since it won’t come true anyway, or that we will never break through because no one has.

But as I said, that’s a lie–a lie that has no power over us unless we let it capture our hearts and minds.

So let me tell you the truth, and this is what I told my young friend earlier: Never say never. Because the things we call impossible today will be reality tomorrow, just like the things once declared impossible. Here are some examples:

  1. “Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” — The Boston Post, 1865
  2. “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidised item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.” — Steve Ballmer, USA Today, 2007
  3. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
  4. “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” –New York Times, 1936.
  5. “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.” — Bill Gates, speaking at the launch of MSX in 1983

These statements seem dumb today but these were made by respected experts who knew what they were talking about–or so they thought.

Sometimes the world seems like an impossible place to realize the dreams and imaginations of our hearts and minds, but never say never. Never say you’ll never make it, because you don’t know what breakthrough is waiting for you. Never say you’ll never be successful; you don’t know what great thing has been prepared for you to achieve. Just because no one can see it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean you won’t discover. And just because you never have, doesn’t mean you never will.

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David Bonifacio is the president of Issho Genki International and founder of naturalhealth.ph. When he’s not working he spends his time serving with Habitat for Humanity, Real LIFE Foundation, and the Center for Community Transformation. You can read more of his work at davidbonifacio.blogspot.com and thoughtsofalostboy.blogspot.com.

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What you need to know about living a great story

The “-ber” months are just around the corner! I was feeling a little nostalgic lately, so I was prompted to look back at my blog archives (on both LiveJournal and WordPress) to see what happened at this time (last week of August to 1st week of September) in the past years. I found two things that I wrote about that seemed pretty cool and interesting back then, but now that I’m able to see how the stories played out, I can really say, “WOW!”

I’m sharing them here because I’m hoping that these stories will encourage you too.

What went on this week in 2007:

1) After lots of planning, persevering, and praying, my friend, Jorel Corpus, passed his auditions for Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. That was great news, but it was also just the beginning, because he still had to think about tuition, airfare, board & lodging, living expenses, and living apart from his family, friends, and bands (Kjwan, Happy Meals, Brigada), etc.

That's Jorel (in the pink shirt). The other guy is the friendly neighborhood fishball vendor!

2) The same week, one of the Philippines’ most popular bands, Rivermaya, started their search for a new singer. These guys are good friends of mine, and I was privileged to be a witness to what was happening behind the scenes–from the auditions, to the challenges, to the Finals Night. I was also able to meet and spend time with the last two finalists, and that’s how I met the simple and humble 18-year old Bicolano, Jayson Fernandez.

I took this photo of Jayson during one of the challenges

Now let’s look at 2010:

  • Jorel is living in the beautiful city of Boston and learning awesome stuff everyday at Berklee.

Jorel in Boston (May 2010)

The cool news is that Jorel isn’t just enjoying the experience–he’s maximizing it too.

He's a consistent Dean's Lister!

He’s also blessing others by coaching other musicians, and maximizing his network and his resources to help others.

  • After winning the competition back in 2007, Jayson has come into his own as the lead singer of Rivermaya. This young man is living his dream of being a member of his favorite band, plus he gets to travel all over the Philippines and Asia. But what’s so amazing for me is that I’ve seen how he has grown and evolved–not just in his craft but also in his faith and love for God. Today, I am blown away as I see him share joy, hope, love, and so much of his faith–with full confidence–wherever he goes. He SHINES.

This is one of the music videos that Rivermaya made early this year.
The song, “Lipad”, means “To fly”.

I look at all of this (and if you missed the video telling the story of Jojo and Tin Ibaretta, you must see it too) and I’m amazed. God has been so faithful and so good.

But here’s the other reality that we face: it takes a while before we can appreciate some of our stories. Sometimes, we look at someone’s story (like Jorel’s or Jayson’s), and we think it was just a smooth process of moving from point A to point B. We don’t always get to see what happens in between. Take these two stories, for instance. Most people don’t get to see the struggles that Jorel and Jayson had to go through.

But the truth is that we do have an idea of what happens in between, because the journey is similar for all of us! Whether it’s in the beginning or somewhere in the middle, we come across a challenge, roadblock, struggle, or problem. Or sometimes, something happens that causes excruciating pain. We reach that point where it’s just easier to just turn around and walk away. It’s easier to just run away and hide.

If you watch a movie, you wouldn’t leave right after the opening sequence, and I’d like to think that you wouldn’t walk out when the lead character starts getting into trouble. Where’s the fun in that? No, you sit in your seat, expectant and eager to see how the story plays out. You stay because you want to know what happens next. And you stick around because you want to see how it all ends.

Our lives can be made up of great stories, our lives can even tell great stories, but most importantly, our lives are also part of God’s great story. But we only get to appreciate these truths when we embrace this fact: GREAT STORIES NEED TIME.

In time…

  • disappointments will be redeemed
  • difficult situations will evolve into good stories
  • good stories will turn into great stories
  • great stories will get even better
  • some prayers will be answered
  • better plans will be unveiled
  • hearts will be transformed
  • lives will be changed
  • promises will be fulfilled
  • enduring blessings will be revealed

Great stories need time, and some may need more time than others. That’s just how it is, because every story is different. But in the meantime, we pray for the grace to be patient, to endure, to persevere, and to be faithful through all the challenges, hurts, and difficulties. And we pray for open hearts, minds, and eyes to see and embrace what God has done and what He is doing. It isn’t always going to be easy, but I’m clinging on to this promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

If you have the time, watch this talk given by our senior pastor, Joey Bonifacio, when he was a guest speaker at Citipointe Church in Brisbane, Australia. It gave me the perspective and the hope that I needed.

Do you have a way of looking back on what has happened in you, through you, and around you? Do you have an encouraging story to share? Tell us about it!

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Practicing Leadership, Integrity, Faith, and Excellence at Work

The other day, I blogged about practicing what we preach. And if you missed it, I highlighted the importance of walking and working with other people. (If you want the breakdown, you can read the post here)

With that in mind, I want to share a resource with you that I recently discovered, which I think is incredibly helpful and insightful: a website called Lifebiz.ph.

I think it’s still in its early stage, but if you go there now, you can already view a number of posts from their regular bloggers David Bonifacio (who I have trouble to keeping up with…last I checked, he’s a businessman who’s also involved with Habitat for Humanity and Real Life Foundation), Walden Chu (president of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the Philippines), and Ganns Deen (blogger, songwriter, and communications/social media expert), among others. These men are great writers and they have such good insights, that I love reading what they have to say.

I don’t know about you, but I often wish that I had more mentors in my life, or at least more time with the ones I’m currently blessed to have. But to be practical, time is such a rare commodity nowadays, so it’s difficult to find schedules that work together. That’s why I like reading articles, blogs, and books, because I feel like I get to learn from some mentors that I can meet with during a time that works for me.

Here’s a video that highlights what LIFE BIZ is all about:

Who are your favorite blogger-mentors (or should I say mentor-bloggers)?

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Faith and exercise

You’ve heard it all before: to be healthy and fit, we need to exercise. To sleep well at night, we need to exercise. And lately, since I’ve been lacking sleep and eating more, my mind’s been sounding the exercise alarm.

The thought of exercising has been hounding me lately, so I wasn’t surprised when I was praying yesterday about a message to use for the offering, and God told me to USE EXERCISE!

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” -Luke 16:10 (NLT)

One important thing that God helped me realized this past year is that faith is a way of life; it’s not a one-time thing. One way of looking at it is that faith is a muscle, and just like our body muscles, our faith needs to be exercised.

Yes, I said the E-word again!

Exercising our faith can come in many shapes and forms. One usual way that we’re called to exercise our faith is in giving tithes, but there are many other ways that God calls us to exercise our faith. It could be moving to a new place, leaving a job, giving away some of your belongings, forgiving an enemy, letting go of an addiction, speaking in public, singing on stage, getting married, staying single, learning how to drive, etc…I can go on and on! After all, we find ourselves coming face to face with our fears (big or small) on a regular basis. Whenever we make decisions like these that move us out of our comfort zones, we find ourselves exercising our faith.

Athletes exercise to make their muscles stronger. When their muscles are strong, they can run faster and leap higher. They also have more power. Look at all the weightlifters…those weights they have to lift are mind-blowing! But before they got around to lifting 200+ kg, they had to start small. As their muscles were strengthened, the weights were increased. It was important for them to work on strengthening their muscles to get them prepared for carrying the heavier weights.

God wants us to exercise and strengthen our faith because He wants us to be prepared and ready for the LARGER things that He has planned for us. They could be larger roles, larger responsibilities, or larger blessings. We need to exercise our faith so we can strengthen our faith!

Chances are, you and I may never be able to get the physical exercise that would allow us to lift 200kg, but the Bible tells us that our faith can move mountains! There are no limits to what God can do; however, we tend to put limits on our faith. These are the times when we might find ourselves saying, “I know God is great and all, but that [insert dream, desire, or request here]…it’s impossible. It’s never going to happen.”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26

I find that my faith is weakened when I forget who God is in my life. On the other hand, my faith is strengthened when I remember that each time I stepped out in faith and obedience, God met me (usually more than halfway!) and ushered me into His wonderful plan every time. But if I did not have those ‘strengthening’ experiences to look back on, I don’t think I’d be as confident and convinced. God uses those strengthening experiences to build my faith muscle, because He knows that I would need greater faith for the greater things that He has in store for me.

Is God calling you to step out in faith today?

Maybe at this moment, you feel that what He’s telling you to do is too difficult, too “BIG” for you. Let me assure you and encourage you…even if it feels like a big step or a big sacrifice, know that our God is loving, generous, and faithful, and believe that what He wants to give you is much better, and much, much BIGGER. We can’t out-give God! So exercise and build your faith today, and get ready for the fullness and LARGENESS of what God has in store for you!

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