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!

Random Blog: Intro to my life with Keratoconus

I’ve been having one of those weeks again, where, while I’m grateful for the fact that I can see fine, it’s just the whole routine I have to go through every night is so repetitive and sometimes frustrating.

Here’s the whole background. I’ve been using glasses on and off since I was about 14 years old, and then regularly from about 19-20 on wards. At around 23-24 years old during an optometrist appointment, my optometrist at the time suspected I may have keratoconus. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she described it to me. But instead of butchering the description, here’s the Wikipedia version:

Keratoconus (KC, KTCN) is a degenerative disorder of the eye in which structural changes within the cornea cause it to thin and change to a more conical shape than the more normal gradual curve. Keratoconus can cause substantial distortion of vision, with multiple images, streaking and sensitivity to light all often reported by the person. It is typically diagnosed in the person’s adolescentyears. If both eyes are significantly affected, the deterioration in vision can affect the person’s ability to drive a car or read normal print.

– From Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keratoconus 

Scary right? Basically, it does this to my eye (you may want to look away if you’re not comfortable with weird stuff)

Keratoconus eye.jpg ……yeah…exactly (no it’s not my eye).

And in terms of vision, the guys over at Keratomania put a nice little simulation of what a typical Keratoconus patient sees like. Here is below:

Keratoconus Vision Simulation

At first it wasn’t so bad, and my glasses were working fine,  but fast forward to a couple of years ago, my eyesight was so bad that glasses couldn’t correct my vision.

From August 2014 until sometime in 2015, I was custom fit with RGP contact lenses, which pretty much restored my vision to 20-20. Not your normal contact lenses, they’re rigid as opposed to the usual floppy ones. Thus, the point of the blog post, Life with Keratoconus.

For the most part, everything is usual, I have to clean the contacts every night, and all that stuff, but that’s where it gets interesting. These little RGP lenses are a blessing and a curse. They correct vision perfectly, fit fine (they were custom fit to my eyeballs), but the fact that I have to do this every night for the rest of my life is sometimes frustrating. I’ll be honest, there are days where I wish I could get away with just glasses, or just have some kind of surgery to fix it (nope, no laser for me. Can’t do it due to the corneas on both being thin enough as it is). One other thing I’ve noticed about these rgp lenses, airconditioning dries them out like crazy…which isn’t good for me being in an airconditioned office.

But like I said, blessing and curse. Curse because of all the annoyances I put up with (and the fact that I’m feeling annoyed about them right now), but blessing because, without my rgp lenses, with my glasses only, I barely qualify to drive. Yes, that bad! I still remember the day I went home after all the fittings were done, and I had my lenses on. Imagine life going from 144p to 1080p Full HD. That’s how much of a jump it was for me. And because I’d been living on 144p for so long, that I had no idea what it was I was missing out on. One of the funnier moments was once I had the lenses fit, actually seeing people’s faces clearly for the first time, and not having to squint and struggle to see things. To not have to be sitting 1 inch away from my computer screen or holding my phone so close that my nose was touching the screen.

It’s been a very mixed bag of experiences, 2 years in. We’ll see how things move forward from here, but having described all the annoyances and frustrations, I am still thankful that I have the opportunity to be able to see properly again at all. Big shout out to OPSM for helping me through the process. My next check up to review the fit after 1 year is due in a few months time. More updates on this journey to come 🙂

Training Post: Whole30 – Day 8

doing-the-w30-fb-cover

Not quite training, but related anyway. 6 days ago, I began the Whole30 program. It’s now Day 6.

I probably should have done a mini post at Day 1, but as usual, life gets in the way and things get busy. Anyway, here I am now at Day 6. Things I’ve noticed so far – the food isn’t as boring as I thought it was going to be. And I’m probably doubling the original vegetable intake I had previously.

I’m not sure what effect it’s having on weight just yet, because part of the program is that you don’t weigh yourself during the 30 days. Which makes it a bit weird in terms of, I have no idea how I’m doing. What I have noticed though is a few smarter choices in food, but the biggest challenge so far has been NO RICE!! Now as a Filipino man, I have to wonder….why am I depriving myself of something that makes up 90% of our cuisine? That’s been the hardest part, but everything else seems fine.

Good things I have noticed, energy levels seem to be up and I’m less reliant on my coffee (now with Almond milk instead of plain milk). I feel a bit more positive and happier, which may or may not be a side effect of food. I’m also way more conscious of what I’m eating. Ohh and I have saved a lot of money by making my own lunch rather than eating out all the time (and usually grabbing sushi, or something sandwich like).

Fun fact though – The Whole30 program requires you to stay away from grains as well, which includes bread. There I am at Mass on Sunday, after having received Communion, and a friend of mine leans over and said “I thought you weren’t allowed bread…isn’t that breaking the diet?”. Lol I’m pretty sure we don’t need to be that strict 😛

Anyway, updates as they come. If there is progress, I’ll probably post it on Instagram.

For anyone interested in the Whole30 program, check out the Whole 30 website by clicking here or entering http://whole30.com/ into your browser.

Happy training everyone!

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!!

Random Blog Post 1: It’s tomorrow!!

I can’t believe tomorrow is the day I have been waiting for, probably my entire life. Tomorrow is the day I get to watch Batman v Superman!!

Here’s the thing guys, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a superhero fan. I ate it all up, DC, Marvel, heck even other publishers producing characters like Spawn, the Milestone comics characters like Static (yes,I know, they’re DC now lol). But when it all came down to it, it was always Superman and Batman for me. Spidey was also up there for me, probably at the number 3 spot, but Superman and Batman, probably my two favorite characters of all time!! Here’s why:

With Superman, I’ve always liked the fact that, especially in the Post Crisis Pre New 52 era (yes, I’m that much of a geek), Superman didn’t need to have a reason to be good, he just was thanks to how his adopted parents brought him up. Even with unlimited power, he still respected his parents who taught him the valuable lesson of using his talents to help people.

Batman, because he’s Batman!! Kidding aside, Batman represented for me, the fact that you can have a drive to do good even in the face of tragedy.

This is the movie I’ve been looking forward to for pretty much my whole life. Honestly, would love to see this bring out a World’s Finest movie. For those that don’t know, Superman and Batman were referred to as the World’s Finest heroes in the pre Crisis. It was later Superman/Batman in post crisis.

My two favorite childhood heroes come to life together and we have tickets for tomorrow night 🙂 I feel like I’m that 5 year old kid again who sat down in the Chris Reeve movies, silently clapping away when Superman showed up on screen 🙂

Full review after the movie 🙂

So it begins

Well, it starts! I decided that I would start blogging about my experiences as a member of SFC and as a member of the Music Ministry here in New Zealand. Not sure how this will go, or what will happen next, but ah well, we need to start somewhere!!

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Just like setting up equipment, it may not look like much at first, but eventually it takes shape.

Thus begins the online adventure!!

God bless!!