Reflections: Being and Bringing Christ to others

So, first of all, to my few followers, hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, solely because things have been so busy lately, and I haven’t necessarily had much to say, and with regards to movie reviews, well, just haven’t been able to find the time. On to my random reflection for today.

A week ago, I was sent out to Hamilton to visit SFC, and help out with their COWR (Covenant Orientation Weekend Retreat for those not in the CFC Family Ministries). As I was introducing myself, I began to share that I had been in SFC since 2007, meaning that this was now 10 years in SFC, and 14 years in the CFC Community as a whole. This was a bit of an eye opener for me, because just towards the end of last year, I was experiencing the burn out that most leaders have experienced at least once in their lives. In fact, I was experiencing it so badly that towards the end of last year, I was beginning to question whether I should even still be in this community. Why? Because after 10 years, I was beginning to question if the time I had put in was worth it, or whether I had achieved anything. What made it harder was the fact that all around me, friends were moving on with their lives, and I was still here in SFC, doing the same old thing. As friends transitioned into CFC or elsewhere, I was still “Kuya Carl”, the reliable one everyone could ask for help and would always come through. Because of all of this, I was very firm on quitting. Stepping aside and just moving on. I felt like nothing I had done had made any difference. Yes, I was serving God and doing the work that was asked of me, but I wasn’t sure any more if I still wanted to do it.

Then last week’s Hamilton trip happened. At that moment, that was where for the first time, I remembered what it felt like when God speaks directly to your heart. If we rewind a bit, two years ago, myself and a group of other SFC from Auckland drove down to Hamilton and started their CLP there, and all of them are still active now. In fact, the participants that we handled, are now all of SFC Hamilton’s leaders. Watching them all in action, God was telling me at that moment,
“Carl, this is why you kept saying yes all those years. This is the reason I asked you to serve. It was never for you Carl. It was so you could bring them back to me. But if you ever doubted that what you have done all these years has been worth it, look at them. By saying yes, you allowed me to reach them, and now they are doing the same for others. It’s not your work, its mine”.
So to SFC Hamilton, my heart felt thanks for being a reminder of the work of God and the reason we all serve.

I was reminded then of all the times people would tell me that on earth, we are called to be the hands, feet, ears, eyes and mouth of Christ to others, because we are all a part of the body of Christ,

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:27

Each of us has a part to play in being and bringing Christ to others. It is because of this we are SFC, so that we can live out the vision and mission we all hold to,

Every single man and woman all over the world experiencing Christ

Not “experienced” being a one time thing in the past, but “experiencing” being an everyday encounter with Christ himself. I was often told that Christianity is not just a one time choice, but an everyday battle. It is a battle to choose Christ everyday, and choose to live for Him and as mentioned before, to be and bring Him to others all over the world.

Given my little reawakening thanks to SFC Hamilton, I remembered why it was that I did what I did. Because of the joy we experience seeing others experiencing and bringing Jesus to others. I began to reflect further as to why I had drifted so far away, and realized I had become a bit lazy with that daily choice. I allowed my love of God and others to become like a job that I got tired. I was giving and giving and giving, but never really taking time to have my own prayer time. Jesus says to us:

A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

Love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself. While we can be busy bringing Christ to others and working away, we also have to allow ourselves to experience Christ in our own day to day. This then reminded me of WYD08, and then theme we had for that year, Acts 1:8,

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

Reflecting on this further in light of all of the last few weeks, I began asking myself how does this apply to me? What is my Jerusalem? My Judea? And beyond? It was that reminder then, that in the context of today, were Jesus saying this to me today, he would probably have said something like “you shall be My witness both in Albany, and in all of Auckland and Hamilton, and even to the remotest part of the earth”. The challenge each of us has is to be witnesses and missionaries where we are first, and work outwards. Moving along that train of thought, being witnesses and disciples starts from within. Because from within is the closest thing to us. The challenge as leaders, as Christians, not just limited to SFC, or whatever Church or community you belong to, but as Christians, is to be witness from within and work outwards. Only then, can we truly be and bring Christ to others.

In summary, what did I realize? That God calls each of us to be and bring Christ to others, and while we may not necessarily always see the results, our efforts are never wasted. Even if we feel like quitting, God will somehow remind us why we do what we do. And if we want to continue being and bringing Christ to others, then the best place to start is with ourselves. We start in our own Jerusalem and Judea, and then work outwards. For each of us, the challenge is, to start with the Jerusalem inside. Be a witness to our own lives and allow God to transform us. Then we can do what is asked of us, and answer that call to be Christ’s witnesses. My dear brothers in sisters in Christ, God has chosen you to be His disciple. Are you ready to answer the call? Let us continue to pray for one another, that we can live the life we have chosen, a life for Christ. A life to know Christ and make Christ known.

I sign off with this song that wraps up everything I’ve realized over the last few weeks. God bless you all!!

Christ Bound – A reflection on SFC NZ Natcon 2016

Romans 12:2 says

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This was the theme for this year’s SFC New Zealand National Conference, as well as all the other National and Regional Conferences for SFC around the world. Now, for those of you that know me, you know that usually, I’m excited to attend, can’t wait to go, but for some reason, this year, I “wasn’t feeling it”. To put things into perspective, I’ve been a member of the CFC Family Ministries community since 2003. I came in through YFC, and transitioned through into SFC, with not much of a break. I had the odd inactive period here and there, but nothing major. And usually for more interesting reasons.

Over the last year, especially having transitioned from being Head of Music Min and handling a Household to now being Unit Head, things changed. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed with the duties I had to do, there was a lot to worry about, plan, a heck of a lot more admin, plus more meetings that I was used to, in addition to trying to balance work, social life, relationships, family, all of the above. Plus the feeling really hit home during the Covenant Orientation Weekend we had earlier this year when I stood there thinking to myself, “well, here we are again”. Not that it mattered when it came to the actual doing, I would still throw myself head first into whatever opportunity to serve came up because that’s what I would do, and part of it was because I felt like that’s what people expected of me. In my own mind, I began thinking that people saw me as “Kuya Carl”, the Leader, the reliable one, the one who would do anything asked of him. And I soon realized I was getting tired, not because I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing anymore, but because I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

Everything about this Natcon was different, and admittedly, part of my own thinking was, “well that’s not how we would have done it if we were the hosts”, but I had to let that part go. And I was happy that I did, because everything about the weekend was pleasantly surprising. Leading up to Natcon, I remember we were asked to be the band for the Club Praise Evening, and also playing for one Worship, which I absolutely loved because it reconnected me with one of the things I enjoyed about service in the first place, Music Ministry. But the thing that I wasn’t expecting was being asked to be a sharer for Session 1. However, from the usual meeting new friends, reflecting on my sharing about spaghetti cans (you had to be there), I think a lot of what this conference did for me was remind me of the reasons why I do things. A call back to the commitment of “I want to serve” rather than “I have to serve”. A part of what this conference did was connect me with what I had not really forgotten, but put to the side, the one who I serve. A year ago, had you asked me why, I would tell you, “I say yes because God is asking. Because what He has done for me, I want to give to others also”. Leading up to Natcon, “…yeah I said yes, I guess I have to, but yeah, just want to rest. I feel like people are expecting me to, so I probably should do it. I’m a leader, I have to”. And that was the difference, “I want to” vs “I have to”. In essence, I allowed myself to be shaped by a worldly view, in this case, a position, a title. “Unit Head”, and because of it, I struggled, was tired, and began to feel burned out. Being in Christchurch, I remembered again, especially in one of the biggest areas – relationships.

Now I’m not only talking of romantic relationships here, but the relationships you have with people around you. This was the main focus of Session 3, and it was what stood out to me the most. Because I found myself remembering what it was that drew me in all those years ago. The relationships I built with the people I have been called to serve, why. because, as we were reminded over the weekend, we are called to see Christ in all those we serve and in all those around us. One of the best parts of the weekend was the reflection on St Theresa of Calcutta and how she always chose to see Christ in everyone, and it was there where I was reminded the answer to the question. why do I keep saying yes to service, because I see Christ in these people, and I want to give back what He has given me.

In addition to this mini realization of mine, I was also blessed enough to hear the stories of others, stories of their victories, their struggles and ultimately, where they saw God in all of this. And the encouragement to seek God in all we do, especially with the content covered during session 1, seeking God in career, lifestyle, relationships and service. And to be honest, this was the first conference which really challenged me to consider my career thanks to Session 2. Session 3, as I mentioned above, really hit home with centering relationships on Christ and seeing Christ in all that I do, where as Session 4 was the challenge to remain true to our destination on this journey we call life. One of the most refreshing things, surprisingly, was the fact that, for the first time in a long time, I heard a Priest speak on the actual effects of Sin, and the realities of Hell. Something we sometimes tend to shy away from, but as Christians, we must also realize that this is a very big part of our mission as members of the Church, to save souls and to bring and be Christ to others.

We all go to these conferences for many different reasons, but what I can at least share is that, God will always speak to you some how, there’s always something He wants you to hear. And while I may have felt a little lost for a while, I have been reminded to no longer be shaped by the world, but to seek God’s will in what I do. I have been reminded that, I no longer have to seek the approval of others views of my service, but I choose to serve because I see Christ in them, and because I also love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been reminded that in this journey we call life, the greatest thing for all of us to do is to choose to be Christ Bound. A big thank you again to SFC Christchurch. Praise. For your service and an amazing conference! Shout out to our hosts, Einx and Iktong, love you both! 

May God Be Praised!

Album Review – “Liveloud: In Gloria Dei” by Ablaze Music

Because we’re here in New Zealand, I can only really rely on videos and photos from friends back home whenever Liveloud decides to hold a concert. So you can only imagine my initial state of shock when I was browsing through my Google Play Music and saw that Ablaze Music had released a new album, Liveloud: In Gloria Dei. I own both Liveloud 2013 and Liveloud: One in the Lord on CD, bought them when I was back in Manila. I was expecting to have to wait to go back to Manila before getting my hands on this, but thank you Google Play Music! I can stream it for free! On to the review!

The Album follows the latest Liveloud 2016 event, which I wish I got to attend, and has 8 tracks, which are as follows:

  1. Shout
  2. Take Me
  3. No One Like You
  4. With You
  5. Forever Be With You
  6. You Have Chosen Me
  7. You Alone
  8. King (Remix)

 

Tracks 1 and 3, Shout, and No One Like You, were tracks that I had been waiting for. Shout, I first heard during the SFC Oceania ReCon 2015, and No One Like You, during ICON 2016. Both of which, I really liked, and was so happy that I now had a clean recording of to play along to. This is especially important for those of us who are usually serving in Music Ministry. The other tracks which I’m still trying to get to know are Take Me, and You Alone. Both sound great! But, as with all new worship songs to learn, there’s that little lag in familiarity, but I could see them being used a lot! Seeing as it’s only been a few days since I’ve been listening to this, nothing has jumped out yet in the same way that Reaching did on Liveloud: One in the Lord.

Having said that, overall, the quality of what’s on the CD is pretty good. The one that did take me by surprise was the King Remix. Odd choice to be put onto a CD when compared to the previous 2, but a fun little edition. Though part of me does wish that another new song had been included in its place. I’m a bit bias toward a song one of the members in my Unit Household wrote, but aren’t all household leaders bias to their members? Another pleasant surprise was the inclusion of With You, which took me straight back to my YFC days. I hadn’t heard the song for such a long time, yet there I was singing along straight away with no trouble at all.

Overall, good album to add to the collection. When I’m next in Manila, I will definitely be picking up a physical copy so I’m not streaming anymore (legally streaming though, Google Play Music). YFC, SFC, and CFC, I’d definitely recommend this.

Ablaze Music can be found on Google Play by clicking here and Liveloud: In Gloria Dei can also be found on iTunes here

God bless!!

 

Shameless Plug 2: CFC-Singles For Christ Auckland Christian Life Program Starting Friday!!!

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Yes, Shameless Plug again!!

Calling all Single Men and Women (Single being unmarried. You can be in a relationship, it’s ok 😀 ) in the Auckland area.

CFC-Singles For Christ, Auckland Chapter would like to invite you to participate in our Christian Life Program.

How much does it cost you ask? It’s FREE!! Yes, that’s right, you saw what I said…FREE! As in, you pay nothing 🙂

What is it exactly? The Christian Life Program is a series of talks exploring the basics of our faith, and how we as Single Men and Women can grow and apply our faith in today’s world.

Who can come? Are you unmarried? Are you aged between 20 to 40(ish)? Do you live in Auckland? If you answered yes to those questions, then yes YOU are invited 🙂

Why should I come? From personal experience, it was an eye opening experience for me with regards to deepening my own faith and growing in understanding of what I believed in and why I believed in it. Plus on top of that, you get to meet a lot of new people and make new friends along the way.

Where is this? Liston Hall, St Patrick’s Cathedral in the Auckland CBD. Nice and central for everyone!

When is it? Sessions will be starting this Friday, 7pm and continue for subsequent weeks.

We would love to have you there! Please see the poster above for contact details and how to express your interest – or if you want, comment below and I’ll put you in touch with the right people!!

Hope to see you there!

God bless!!

Shameless Plug: SFC Auckland’s First CLP of 2016

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It’s that time of year again!! Always super excited when these kick off, so here I am with my shameless plug for the event 🙂

For those Single men and women (Single being unmarried, you can bring your significant other along too!!) living in the Auckland area, we would like to invite you to our Christian Life Program.

The Christian Life Program is 12 weeks of exploring and understanding our faith, getting back to the basics, and allowing us to deepen that faith.

This year, we will be holding it every Friday night from April 8 for 12 weeks 🙂 I know, I know, it’s a Friday night, but I can guarantee it will be both fun and informative!!

Having been through it myself, a d subsequently helping run them in varying degrees, I can tell you that it’s definitely worth it. I can’t say too much otherwise the Team Leaders for this one will accuse me of giving away spoilers 😅

Anyway, shameless plug over, please contact the numbers on the poster for any questions 🙂 Or comment below and we’ll put you in touch with the right people!!

God bless!!

Covers, covers, covers

Before I continue, side note: I’m actually not sure how this whole blogging thing works. How often am I supposed to be posting here?  Anyway, in an attempt to make things more interesting, I thought I’d post a few links to our covers/practice sessions over the last couple of years. I was tempted to do one for each, but figured that would be overkill, so below is a selection (pretty much all) of the videos 🙂 Enjoy!!

The first is Hallelujah: 
This was a personal favorite of mine thanks to the added harmonies from Mr Joshua Roxas.

Next, For You Almighty:
This one, I absolutely fell in love with the lyrics!

Reaching:

Another where the lyrics blew me away. Especially the line “if I break..”

And finally, a solo cover (please minimize the laughing haha 😛 ) of Oh I Love You:

Only the second time I ever posted a solo cover. I’m quite shy when it comes to my voice and how I sound. Super self conscious.

Any way, there you have it. Why am I posting these? One reason I did post them on YouTube over the years was because each of these songs spoke to me in some way. It could just be a single line, “They say your love is stronger”, or “Stir my heart when I lose my purpose”. And because of that, I thought I’d give them another chance to live on through the blog.

I promise, the next one will be a bit more reflective, but for now, enjoy the music, keep singing, keep praying and God bless you all!

 

 

#sfcPOSTicon2016

We have now hit a week since the end of the 2016 SFC International Conference in Singapore. It’s crazy to think that last year, this was just a dream that we all looked forward to, and now we’re back to reality, and back to our everyday and our own status quo. However, what I have always appreciated about these conferences, this year more so than usual are the things I get to take home, and not just from the speakers, sharers and workshops. So, hopefully without boring too many people, I present to you – several things I learned during the pre-icon and icon journey.

 

1) Music is a universal language –

This is probably more of a reminder than anything else, but Music is one of those things that crosses language barriers, cultural barriers and really brings people together. Actually the first friends I made during preicon was because of music (Shout out to Tricia and Jom). The culture of praise and worship within the CFC Family ministries is always amazing to witness in action. Music, for me, is like any other language. God can use it to speak to use in the most intimate ways. Worship through music is what God used to hook me in this community, and being able to experience it with others from around the globe is very inspiring and amazing. Much like when I was starting out in this culture of praise and worship, experiencing God through music takes a first step, God reaches out through the song it’s up to us to respond by singing it.

2) There’s no place like home –

While a huge part of the icon experience is meeting and interacting with people from all around the world (shout out to the pre-iconers!), one thing I really enjoyed was being with SFC from NZ (BIG SHOUT OUT to SFC NZ). Because at the end of the day, they are the ones I’ll be serving side by side with, so to have the opportunity to strengthen our own faith together, was a huge blessing already. Much like when Jesus said to go from Judea, Samaria and then the ends of the earth, we start in our own Judea, the area closest to us, our own.

3) Your well thought out plans won’t always match what God has planned for you –

Whether it’s a missed train, you’re running late, get stuck somewhere (hello Emmanuel!), someone gets lost (hi Dimple), or someone sleeps in, lots of things feel like they could have gone wrong, especially with our accommodation being a reasonable commute away. Now, for those who know me, I like things to go to plan, however the 10 days in Singapore, instead God was teaching me to trust in Him and follow His plan rather than being caught up in my own.

4) Everyone has an amazing story to tell –

Going back to the other delegates, speaking with them, taking the time to get to know them, listening to their own stories about their journey with God and how He has moved in their lives is always eye opening and inspiring. Sometimes, without realizing it, your own story can be a source of hope to someone else. The shout out here goes to Brenda from Canada and her sharing during pre-icon. You are an amazing young woman and you inspire me.

5) God wants to bless you so you can bless others –

That line I remembered from our workshop, God is Generous. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it’s not just a financial thing, but in all areas of your life. So often, we all think that we must just give and give and give, until we have nothing left to give. But it was nice to be reminded that God also has to fill up our cups if we are to fill up the cups of others.

6) Knowing the person you pray to is important –

Shout out here goes to Ate Martha and session 2 of icon. I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes, in my own prayer time, I just go through the motions, especially when I’m tired. But being reminded that to deepen our relationship with God, we must take the time to know who God is in our own life, that was definitely eye opening.

7) Little things can make a huge difference –

The days of outreach during pre-icon were the ones that were quite memorable. The more memorable moments were at the hospice as we served afternoon tea. While there were some funnier moments (Joanne, you know what I’m talking about 😛 ), over all, just being there and spending time with our older uncles and aunties as we called them, and seeing that, even just being there to be with them made all the difference. Sure, some were harder to get through to at times, due to either language barriers, or in some cases, just wanting to sleep, but over all, the experience showed me that everyone just needs someone to talk to from time to time. While it may not seem like a big deal to us, sitting and listening can be a huge thing for the other person. On a side note, they were all expert bingo players.

8) It’s not over yet –

One of the best quotes of the conference was “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end”. As soon as we got back to New Zealand, it was straight back into planning, and households, and work and everything that we’d put on hold when we left. Admittedly, for a moment, there was some anxiety and stress associated, but being reminded that, it’s not yet the end, the best is yet to come, was reassuring. Not just for the tasks at hand, but overall in life, we’ve all had moments where we feel like everything is falling to pieces, but it’s not yet the end.

There they are, a handful of the things I have learned and experienced this past conference. There is a lot more, but those are better left for personal sharing. In the end, all I can do is express feelings of gratitude. I thank God for allowing me to experience another ICON experience.
I thank SFC NZ, Leah, Arnie, Sandro, Ann, Einx, Donna, Iktong, Andrew, Kennedy, Tita Susan, and Tito Essie,

for walking with me on the whole journey. I pray our bonds of friendship continue to grow so we can bring home what we have learned and continue to help our area grow through our service.

To the pre-iconers,

especially our team leads, Kuya Tox and Ate Amor, thank you for being my new family and friends in this community (other pre-iconers, there’s so many to tag hahaha!). I really hope and pray that this is not the last time we see each other, and I really hope that we can serve with each other again soon. Until next time, may God bless each and every one of you and may He live in you and may you serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

May God be praised!!