Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PARENTING WINNERS…a true winner indeed

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” (1 Chronicles 16:8)

The house was already packed before the event started
And for the PARENTING WINNERS talk that was recently concluded on December 4, 2010, so I shall.

God did it again!  He used Francis Kong’s amazing motivational gifts and Peter Tan Chi’s fantastic content and turned PARENTING WINNERS into a once in a lifetime event .  To say that people were blessed by what He has done through these two powerful men would be a criminal understatement.

A little over 3,000 people packed the Limketkai Atrium to listen to the nation’s very best speakers give their parenting experiences and principles.

Francis Kong was funny and inspirational as always.  He talked about his experiences as a dad of three winners and as his experiences as a motivational speaker in many fields.  Some of the info reflected the sad fact that many parents in this country do a dismal job in raising up their kids.

Francis Kong was up first

I was especially taken by his experiences when he was speaking in schools filled with students who struggled with shocking issues and misplaced values.  Below is a sample of his talk that highlights this.

However, also excellent, and the highlight of the event for many people, was the portion of Peter Tan Chi.  If Francis Kong was the comedian and motivator extraordinaire, then his mentor was the consummate content speaker who spoke with so much authority and wisdom that you can’t help but be blown away and mutter superlatives to yourself (this is not to say that Mr. Kong was weak on content or that Mr. Tan Chi was not funny; they both had all these traits in spades).
Peter Tan Chi spoke for the 2nd half of the program

But that’s what you’d from the Senior Pastor of one of the most successful churches in the Philippines, and the father of five ridiculously achieving children.

Instead of a video clip of Mr. Tan Chi speaking (the DVD is still not finished, unfortunately), I’d like to give the simple-to-remember acrostic that he used for principles on how one can parent winners: MOTIVATE.  Namely:

M – Model

O – Open Communication

T – Time

I – Intimacy

V – Vision

A – Affirmation

T – Training

E – Enduring Legacy

I obviously don’t have the time and the space here to summarize what Mr. Tan Chi covered with each letter.  It won’t do the talk justice, anyway.  When the DVD is completed, I’ll post more clips.

Well, I hope you took heed of my invitations on this site and went to PARENTING WINNERS.  I’m not sure if we will be blessed with a Kong/Tan Chi tandem ever again.  One thing I do know, the future of this country is very dependent on how well we raise our kids now, and so I’d advise you to take advantage of every seminar like this.
from left: Peter Tan Chi; Peter’s wife, Dionna; Francis Kong

There would be many parenting-based activities that are coming in 2011, and I will inform you about them here.  Stay tuned, and comments are welcome.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas message from yours truly – plus the Christmas story told thru Facebook

As I write this, it’s nearly 3 AM Christmas morning. We just threw one heck of a party (that honored the Celebrant, of course…no drinking or debauchery.) and wifey is out cold while the kids are still getting themselves to sleep.

Before I’m out for the night…er, morning; I’d like to thank you all for visiting my page. Your visits, and especially your comments, truly make my day, and I hope I can continue to write articles on parenting, faith, and the everyday life of a family living in CDO with the frequency that I’ve been doing every since I started here.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I’d like to leave you with a very nice video. Would you like to know what would happen if Facebook was around during Mary and Joseph’s time? Well, enjoy…and may the Reason for the Season richly dwell in your hearts!

“… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:20-23)

Once again, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A parenting word about gift giving, part 2: "I Want That Toy!"

In my previous blog on the subject, I promised that I would make an entry on what gifts I’d like to recommend.  Well, one of my greatest parenting mentors beat me to it, and on a national daily, no less.

One of my bosses, Ann Barrameda, was featured in the Manila Bulletin article called “I Want That Toy!” In it, towards the end, she gave excellent suggestions on what gifts to buy for the little ones.  They’re all spot on, but that’s what you’d expect from one of the best Montessori educators in the country. I have learned so much from her, not only as a member of the faculty, and not only in the parenting talks she gives in the church we go to, but even just having casual conversations with her over lunch breaks at the school.

Much of the best advice I’ve ever gotten came from Teacher Ann, as she is fondly called in the school.  In fact, I’ve gotten, and will continue to get, all of the suggestions she mentioned in the article.

The article, however, is about handling your child’s tantrums during Christmas shopping, and the advice given on that matter is excellent as well.  Again, long before this article came out; I have taken her advice and let the kids indulge themselves in NBS and Booksale during trips to the mall.  They can stay there for hours!

Enjoy the article, and make the right choices this Christmas season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A parenting word about gift giving

This is a reprint and modification of a blog I made years ago.  Hope you enjoy it.

It’s Christmas time again, and one of the SOPs of this time of year is gift giving.  For me, the frequency of gift giving is pretty intense during the ‘ber months.  My birthday is in October, my wife’s in November.  My two oldest children were born in December and October, respectively.  Then there’s the manic gift giving of Christmas…and for me that means buying a gift for the Kris cringles of all three of my kids, my work Christmas party, my small group’s Christmas party, and my mom’s small group’s party…and…and…it’s just so much.

Over the years, my wife and I, and especially our kids, have received tons of gifts.  Unfortunately, many of these gifts are not necessarily beneficial to the ones who receive them.

I have attended many parenting talks hosted by my church community (Christ’s Commission Fellowship, or CCF for short, a great disciple-making church located downtown), and often times, the verse Luke 2:52 comes up.  It is the last verse of Jesus’ childhood, and it goes:

“and Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God and man.”

Here’s a great model of how a child should grow.  Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectually) and stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually) and man (socially).  Everything that we do with our kids should be purposeful in developing these four areas.  To me, that “everything” should include gift giving.  I have made it a point that whenever I give a gift, it should help develop the recipient intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Allow me, oh gift-givers, to list down what I’d stray away from when I shop for gifts (very un-Luke 2:52).  I’m sure this list in not extensive, but it’s a great start.

A dentist’s worst nightmare
1.  Candy.  Often times, loved ones (especially from abroad) will shower my kids with huge bags of candy.  I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think it’s the best thing for them. The reasons are obvious: bad teeth, negative nutritional value, and bad dietary habits (it will take many, many days of constant junk-food binging to finish these bags).  I actually tell them my concerns here and instead advise them to give dried berries & trail mix goodies instead. Generally, the relatives comply.

2.  Toy guns.  I was advised by a great parent and mentor not to buy guns for my son, because they do nothing for him except allow him to make-believingly act out violent scenes.  I totally agree.  Kids don’t need to pretend-shoot their friends, and they won’t benefit or learn anything from doing so.  Remember, the young child is constructing himself—and if that construction involves “bang, bang—you’re dead”…well, he may not ever shoot anyone, but he’s not learning the best values, either.

3.  Violent programs/cartoons.  A mentor of mine often says that kids of a certain age tend to hero worship and tend try to be like the heroes they idolize.  Now, if the moral example they get is very violent, what will be absorbed in their little heads?  I know some irresponsible parents who allow their kids to watch violent programs (explicative-filled action movies, reality boxing shows, etc.), and then their kids run out and re-enact the scenes on the playground.  Even children’s programs themed on “good guy beats the tar out of the bad guy” shouldn’t be shown to very young audiences.

4.  Video games.  Same story as above plus (and this is a HUGE plus) they are very, very addicting…I should know.  I have some video games for the kids in the computer, but they’re usually puzzle games or ones that teach typing skills.  Still, kids today are quite sedentary compared to previous generations, and so the gifts given should encourage them to get out some (grow in stature, remember?).  Video games, with few exceptions, don’t do that.

5.  Media or toy franchises that promote vanity or self-consciousness.  With all the narcissism that gets pounded into our minds every day, the last thing my kids need is some Bratz merchandise that will make them more conscious of “strutting their stuff” and all other emotions focused on self.  I want my kids to be modest and others-centered.  Their Christian and Montessori backgrounds do a good job there, but they can’t be totally sheltered from all the “spaghetti pababa” (a suggestive Filipino song) stuff out in the world.  Me, as a gift-giver, will not promote that culture to the kids I give gifts to.

This season, I will do my utmost in choosing gifts that help the recipient grow in wisdom, and stature, in favor with God, and man.  If I have time, I’d post a blog with my recommendations on Luke 2:52 gifts.  Stay tuned.  Oh, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Permit the children to come to Me

I’ll never forget what the head of the Children’s Ministry program of the church I go to told me and several volunteers in a training session many years ago.  (The church is Christ’s Commission Fellowship or CCF for short.)

She told of the very familiar scene, mentioned at least three times in the Bible, where Jesus was speaking to a crowd, and there were parents in the audience who wanted to bring their kids to meet Jesus so that He could bless them.  But the disciples, who I guess were concerned that doing so would waste their Master’s valuable time, stopped them in their tracks.  Here’s the story, as told in Mark 10: 13-16.

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

15 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

The trainer’s challenge was this: if we don’t pay attention to our Children’s Ministry; if we don’t give our absolute best effort for these kids week in and week out; then aren’t we doing the exact same thing that the disciples were doing?  We’re hindering the children from being blessed by Christ!

Wow.  I never thought of it that way.  I’ll have to admit, I didn’t look forward to my stint as a Sunday school teacher, and I’m sure there were others who feel the same way.  But man, if my rotten attitude made me a hindrance that kept these young souls from being blessed by Christ, then shame on me.

What made this even bigger was that when the disciples got in the way of the children, Jesus was indignant.  Do you know what that means?  Encarta’s definition is: “angry at the apparent unfairness of something.”  So if your church doesn’t pay much attention to its children’s ministry, or worse, doesn’t have a children’s ministry at all…we are making Him indignant.  I love Christ too much to knowingly disappoint him so greatly.

If bringing children to our Lord was so important for Him then; then we, as His hands and feet, should consider it equally as important now.

Well, I now, even if I have to miss our powerful Sunday messages for a month, look forward to my turn with the kids.  CCF’s bench of volunteers has grown so huge that my group and I only have to do this once a year (Yay!  Oh, I mean, awwww!), but we still get involved during special times of the year…and this is one of those times.

I was placed to be in charge of the 6-8 y.o. class’ Christmas presentation.  This is the youngest class I’ve ever held, and boy did I get a culture shock.  I usually handle the 10-12 class, and they’re very behaved and mature.  But these guys…wow, I was putting more effort in quieting them down than instructing.  But I’m very excited for our presentation.  I’ve been staying up late getting it ready…and I think, Lord be praised, it’s going to be grrrreat!

I can’t give details on what I’m cooking up (people will kill me if I give spoilers), but I’m so excited that I can’t help but give you one song I’m using for one half of the presentation.  It’s Strange Way to Save the World, a beautiful song by Jump5.  I heard it first from my eldest daughter because she has their CD, but I’m sure you hear it on the Christian radio at this time of the year (103.3FM).  Below is a vid from youtube featuring the song with its beautiful lyrics.

For the rest of the presentation, I am hoping to use my goofy sense of humor and the cuteness of these kids to make something really special.  I can’t give more details than that…you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

Actually, this month is gonna be awesome, because during each Sunday service, there would be at least two groups who would give special numbers.  We want to show how fun it is in our church and how great it is to be part of such a vibrant Christian community.  Here is the sched of presentations:

December 12: singles (always a hit); kids 9-12 (Lynn and Mesoo, my 2 eldest kids, will perform)

December 19: adult d-groups (yes, my mom will perform); kids 6-8 (this is the one I’m working on)

December 26: young couples (including my group); kids 3-5 (Happy, my youngest, is in this one, with my wife teaching the song/dance).

If you’d like to come watch the performances and to get to know our culture a little bit, we’d be happy to welcome you to CCF.  The church is located at Papa Juanito’s Square, just across the street from Robinson’s car park entrance.  The performances would be on the 10AM services.

I’d now like to show you some of the presentations done in the past.  Enjoy.

A mime presentation of “We Are The Reason,” Christmas Party 2008.  Lynn was in this one…somewhere.

Sunday School 3-5 class song, “Be Brave, Be Strong,” Mother’s Day (?) 2009.  Happy is the little guy in Maroon.

Sunday School 8-9 and 10-12 classes singing “He Knows My Name.” Father’s Day 2010 or 2009.  Lynn and Mesoo are both here.

Practice of the kids who volunteered to play the flute for Mother’s Day 2010.  Lessons were free.  All three of my kids were participants.

I’m looking forward to adding Christmas 2010 to this list of memories and ministry.  If you’d like to visit, see you then.  🙂

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Children see, children do

This video, an advertisement from NAPCAN, was shown in one of the parenting seminars in my church a few years back.  It tells a very powerful message about how our behavior as parents influences what our children become.  It stuck strongly in my head, even if it was a long time ago.  Here’s the vid:

So true, isn’t it?  That’s why it’s so, so, SO important that we train ourselves as parents whenever possible.  Again, I would like to encourage you, beg you even, to attend the December 4 parenting talk by two of Asia’s best motivational speakers, Francis Kong and Peter Tan Chi.  It’s at the Limketkai Atrium, 2-6pm.

PARENTING WINNERS is already next weekend, and it is my hope that you already have your tickets for it.  It’s been sold out in the school I work for, but maybe you can ask Rotary or the school your child attends if there’s still any more.

Truly, I would love to see you there.  Anyone can father a child, but rarely do men truly father.  I don’t think I’ve arrived yet, but if it weren’t for the equipping I get from events like these, I’d be much worse off than I am now.

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 23:12)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parenting Winners!

I often get mixed feelings when I think about bringing up my three kids in this day and age.  As a professed techie growing up in what my little ones consider the stone age, where there were no cell phones, mp3 players, motion-control videogames,  movie-making media, HD-TVs, and almost limitless information at the click of a button, I can’t help but feel a bit envious that they have at their very fingertips such great gadgets, technology, and opportunity.

But on the other end, I can’t shake the feeling that they are living in a very dark age, and it’s just going to get worse as they grow into adults.  Certainly, many of the mores that were considered taboo and abhorrent during my days growing up are now the norm today.  How would the world be when my kids become adults, themselves?  Scary, isn’t it?

According to popular author Josh McDowell, in the next 12 months:
  • 500,000 children will attempt suicide
  • More than 1 million will run away from home
  • 75,000 teens will give birth to illegitimate babies
  • 418,000 girls under 19 will have received abortion to end unwanted pregnancy
  • 12,000,000 teens will take some form of narcotics and regularly use drugs
  • 3,300,000 young people will experience a serious drinking problem
  • 5,000,000 children will become victims of broken homes
  • 4,000,000 children will be beaten, molested, or otherwise abused by their parents
  • More than 50% of the 21 million teens between 15-19 are sexually active
  • Another 2M between 13 and 14 are believed to be sexually active

These statistics were taken many years ago, and I’m sure it hasn’t improved since.  Don’t think we’re any better off because this survey was taken in the west.  Even when there’s no divorce here, broken families abound.  Couple this with the common situation of one or both parents leaving for work abroad, and the general economic situation that many face…well, this is the world our children are growing up in, and the world they will inherit will likely be worse.

Are our kids in trouble, friends?  I think the obvious answer is yes.

But is there hope?  Is there still hope that you can raise positive kids in a negative world that’s getting more and more negative?

The answer, I believe, is also yes…but we need all the help we can get.

Whether you feel that you have arrived as a mom or a dad, or parenting woes have left you heartbroken and down on your knees, allow me to invite you to a fantastic event that would greatly help you in this area.

Two of the nation’s top motivational speakers, Francis Kong and Peter Tan Chi, will speak on how to inspire your children to become winners.  Mark your calendars on December 4, 2010 as they will grace us with their presence and wisdom for four hours of the afternoon (2-6 PM) in what’s surely going to be a wonderful time.  The venue for this exciting event is Limketkai Atrium, with the cost being a ridiculously low P100.00.

Francis Kong needs no introduction, as he is very well known as an author, media personality, and is a very in-demand speaker all across Asia.  Peter Tan Chi is an educator and mentor extraordinaire, and surely a great speaker in his own right—especially on the topic of parenting.  When I think about it, Mr. Tan Chi is probably my favorite speaker and foremost role-model on this topic.  You will find out why on December 4.

I been blessed to have listened to both men several times on different occasions; and after each time, I left the venue a changed and inspired man.  They are surely big draws on their own, but to have them both at the same event?  That is truly a rare gem…a gem that you absolutely must avail of.  All you’ll need to do is to call 857-3000 or the participating schools (see poster) for your tickets.

Make no bones about it: if you care about raising winners in an age where it’s exceedingly difficult to do so, you need to be in attendance.  I feel a little awkward when it comes to rating myself as a parent; but without a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t be nearly as good a dad as I am now if it weren’t for events like these.

I’m sure you’d be blessed as well.  I’d like to give a truckload of thanks to Cagayan de Oro Association of Private Elementary Schools, Rotary Club of Kalayaan, Rotary Club of Metro Cagayan de Oro, Philippine Society of Anesthesiologists—Northern Mindanao Chapter, and Christ’s Commission Fellowship for making this event happen.

PARENTING WINNERS with Peter Tan Chi and Francis Kong.  December 4, 2010.  Limketkai Atrium.  2:00 – 6:00 PM.  I expect to see you all there!

Oh, before I end…if you have a high school or college age child, Mr. Francis Kong will speak on BECOMING A PERSON OF EXCELLENCE at Christ’s Commission Fellowship at 9:30 AM that same morning.  It’s actually very near to Limketkai, just across the street from the Robinson’s Car Park entrance.  This youth talk is absolutely free, so feel, uh…free to bring him or her there.  Did I mention your child will get to see Francis Kong for free?  As in, absolutely no charge? Again, 857-3000 is the number to call.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Birthday weekend blog

Wow, what a birthday weekend.  I was expecting a pretty rough birthday, because it knew I was going to have a rough day at work.  Well, it turned out to be blessed.

October 1, a day before my birthday, I dragged my feet to my young couples d-group after another tough day in the office.  To my surprise (actually, it’s been such a tradition that it’s no longer a surprise) they had a cake and Jhean made my favorite food.  We had a great time and a very good study session (we’re starting Biblical Foundation 2, a very good module).  They’re such wonderful people, and even if we’re smaller than many of the other groups, we make up for it with genuine love.

October 2, went to dawn watch at CCF for prayer (because boy did I need it), and as my family and I stepped in the church I was also greeted by the guys who were there.  Everybody broke out into singing happy birthday for me…and I was very nearly late for work as a result.  Oh well.

So, I was expecting a rough day and it sure wasn’t smooth sailing.  But lo and behold, around 3 in the afternoon, my family snuck in a big tray of delicious pancit malabon, Red Ribbon cake, and several balloons at my work.  So here I was, blushing like a tomato as the faculty, the students who were present, and their parents looked on as they brought their offering and sang me yet another birthday song.  But since I had to stay, the fam celebrated at Country Club without me.

So as I finally finished my work at around 7pm, I got a call from Jhean, telling me to hurry up and go to the club after them.  And when I did, lo and behold, there was my family as well as the family of one of my cousins waiting for me…and again they serenaded me with a birthday song.

After a wonderful dinner, we went home and I opened the FB to find out that my page has been swamped with greetings.  I must have had around a hundred or so.  Well, maybe that’s a bit much, but still!  That’s what I get for making lasting friendships in two countries, developing a church family, and having nearly all students (current and former) as FB friends.  To say that I was flattered and moved is a gross understatement.  Two messages in particular, one from a co-worker and another from a d-group member nearly brought me to tears.

As the very tired celebrant got himself ready for the sorely-missed bed, I couldn’t help but thank God for such a great family (both earthly family and family in Christ), great co-workers, great friends…and such a great day, period.  And doing so, I was once again reminded of how I so need to be the kind of man that loves, honors, and protects such wonderful people.

Once again I was reminded of a song that I have been reflecting on quite a bit lately.  It’s a very challenging song that hits me right in the heart as a father and as a husband.  It’s one of the theme songs of my life, probably THE anthem of my life, that is.  Please watch the video in its entirety.  It’s a beautiful, beautiful reminder of the man that I need to be, and maybe you can ever relate to it as well .

God bless you all, and thanks again for the greetings.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thank godness I graduation!!

Sorry, I haven’t had much time to blog lately.  Been super-duper busy.  One of the things that kept me occupied was completing my final requirements of the GLC course that I took.  If you don’t know yet, GLC stands for Global Leadership Center, and it’s a course that CCF (the church I go to) gives to members who are willing to strengthen themselves in their walk and testimony as Christians and as leaders.

Well, all 93 of us, graduated last Saturday …quite a bit, but miniscule compared to the 650 and 700+ who graduated from the first and second batch in Manila, respectively (gosh that’s more than our whole congregation).  Nonetheless, it’s still a good group and it makes me so glad to see such a number of people—many of them running circles around me spiritually—so dedicated to growing in the Lord and serving him.  Not surprisingly, I didn’t win any honors and I’m likely wallowing somewhere at the bottom of the class.

Well, at least I graduated.

I don’t have much time to blog about it, but I’ll let my 3-minute testimony (a requirement for graduation) and the pictures tell the story.  Kudos once again to CCF and to my fellow graduates.  But let’s not forget that this is not an undertaking so that we can get extra privileges or bragging rights.  This whole program serves as the final nail on our crosses, signifying that we are ready and willing to follow Him wherever He may lead us.  As Isaiah said in the book that bears his name, “Here am I.  Send me!”  (Is. 6:8)

Here’s my testimony.  Enjoy.

Carlo Manuel P. Alado
August 9, 2010
GLC 3-minute testimony

It’s difficult to put my GLC experience into words, because it was one great rollercoaster ride that allowed me to experience a smorgasbord of emotions, from great joy to great sadness, great anticipation to great exasperation, great seriousness to great silliness, great times of inspiration to great times of challenge.  It’s this wide range of emotions that would make the rest of this piece seem very random.  My apologies, but there is just so many thoughts swimming in my head, and each one so different from the other.  But overall, it was a very positive experience and easily one of the milestones in my Christian walk.

Firstly, I am just awed by how wonderful God is in His allowing me to be a part of such a fantastic program.   One, he allowed me and my family to be a part of such a wonderful church that puts so much effort and emphasis in disciple-making and equipping.  I’ve never been happier to have stumbled into CCF-CDO a decade ago than I am now.  Secondly, I very nearly failed to be a student of this program.  Workload was high and finances were low, and, even though I really wanted to join, I was already resigned to the fact that this would not be my year.  But lo and behold, a benefactor enrolled me without my knowledge, and here I am, writing this testimony.  God is good.

Secondly, it is obvious how this program has impacted its students.  My mom noticed how different the students were after only a few weeks into the program.  Generally, they were more excited about doing God’s work and seem more confident about life in general.  Indeed, the GLC program is very holistic, greatly equipping us not only in spiritual principles and Biblical knowledge, but also when it comes to parenting, financial stewardship, health, and, most importantly, in making disciples.

We truly learned so much.  The course was a gold mine for all of us.  My favorite topics where I learned new information were: Making Disciples 3, for teaching me how to do counseling and mentoring; Personal Development, which strongly taught us how important it is to be not only spiritually healthy, but physically, mentally, and relationally healthy as well; and Apologetics 1, which taught us how to relate to those who do not share our Christian views.

There were also sessions that made me squirm in my seat.  The Family Life topic is an example, as it made me realize how much I still need to improve as a genuinely Christian husband and father.  Another was Biblical Stewardship, which challenged me to be a better steward of my money, my time, and my talents.  Don’t think that since I squirmed in my seat, the experience was negative.  Even these experiences were very positive, because they exposed blind spots and showed us what was wrong, even when we didn’t realize that something was amiss.

With that said, I couldn’t recommend the GLC program highly enough.  Sure, it was quite a mad scramble to get things done on time; but I’m sure all 93 of us are better Christians, better leaders, and better people after these past 10 months.  Even better, the upcoming batch will have a newer and better curriculum than what we have had, which is actually quite enviable.  God is truly moving mightily in our midst, and I pray that more people will join Him in His work.

It’s amazing that we have 93 newly minted leaders of our local church.  I can just imagine the fruitful growth that CCF-CDO will have thanks to the efforts of these excited, dedicated, and, thanks to this course,  equipped people.  All these new speakers, d-group leaders, mentors, councilors, ministry heads…wow, just the thought of it makes me want to greatly rejoice.  May all of us truly carry out CCF’s slogan, which is “To make Christ-Committed Followers, who will make Christ-Committed Followers, who will make Christ-Committed Followers…”

One of the great mentors in my life, my D-12 leader, Dr. Allan Melicor

To see all the pics of the graduation rites.  Click here. The new batch will start next month.  Already, in my d-group, my wife has enrolled, as well as another couple very close to us.  If you also worship in our church, I strongly suggest you invest in the GLC.  You will never be the same person again.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My mom's 60th birthday

My mom turned 60 last Saturday, May 29, 2010.  She usually doesn’t celebrate birthdays, but this just had to be an exception.  She reached the big six-oh, and it’s her first birthday in nearly four decades without my dad around.

Although we had little of both treasures and time, we absolutely had to make sure that the birthday would be special.  And it was.  The outpouring of love was overwhelming.  Nearly one hundred people came.  Her co-workers, family, friends, church  friends and her Discipleship Group…so many honored my mom with their attendance and participation.

There were hilarious games, lively song numbers (several from her eldest granddaughter), and testimonies from people who she has blessed.  And indeed, I realize even more strongly now how she has blessed so many people.  She was, and continues to be, a mentor and a councilor par excellence.  Many of the people giving their testimony broke down, most especially my wife, a woman whom, as a mother-in-law, she has given so much love and grace.  If there’s ever a person who can testify on how the Lord uses my mom to bring out the best in others, it’s Jhean.

The event once again shows that people are honored not on the size of their bank accounts, or job position, or accomplishments, or how they look, or how many toys they have.  What really counts is how one invests in and blesses others.  I’ve seen that so many times, and I saw it again last Saturday.  My mom was floored by such a great outpouring of love…and it’s because of how she touched their lives.

Below is a video that a family friend (one of the women that mom has discipled) made in her honor.  Below that is the transcript of the speech that I gave to my mom that night.  I hope you enjoy both.

Speech for mom’s birthday

First of all, I thank you for coming tonight.  You truly honor my mom with your presence.    So many areas in mom’s life are represented here.  This evening, I see family, church mates, co-workers…so many people who have blessed mom with friendship and company, and I hope she has blessed their lives as well.

I’m pretty sure she has, though.  You see, through the years I’ve heard many superlatives about my mom: everything from her being beautiful, to being the best boss some people have ever had, to having such a great disposition, and all that…you’ve heard them here earlier this evening.

But far and away, the best trait that my mom has is echoed in a bible passage I dug up for this occasion.    Say what you will about mom’s appearance or how easy she is to get along with, but “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

My mom’s relationship with God is, to me, the true reason why she is so admired, most likely because it is the source of it.

This vertical relationship has had a profound effect her outlook on life.  People around her say that she’s a very positive person, has a definite grace under pressure, and is rarely, if ever angry and rattled.  More than once, people have come up to her and said, in bewilderment, “There’s something very different about you.”  It’s not as if she’s had a problem free life.  Two out-of-the-country moves, changes in career, raising a stubborn only child who has been hospitalized several times, deaths of loved ones…and the basic problems that go on in life.  The trials were definitely there.  But I always see my mom shine above them, not because she’s headstrong, but because she’s surrendered.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11-12, NIV). None of us knows what the future holds, but we can know who holds the future.  And know him in a personal way like she does.

This vertical relationship has also affected her horizontal relationships.  She has a very forgiving spirit.  She needed that, bringing up somebody like me…but truly, she’s one of the most forgiving people I know.  I’m beginning to realize that she’s like that because she has been forgiven, herself.  She gives grace, because she has received it.  Those of us who have been on the receiving end of this forgiveness should also display it to others.  Isn’t it silly to have a Father in heaven who has forgiven us of all our sins but then we hold grudges against the next guy?

She also gets along with everyone.  I’ve never heard of her getting involved in office politics, gossip, or any other backbiting activity.  This is also biblical, where it says repeatedly that you have to live in peace with everyone and be motivated by love.

Many of you here know her as mentor, and Jhean and I are very familiar with that role of hers.  Whenever my wife needs guidance, she first runs to my mom, because for sure she would get solid, biblical advice that is correct just about every time.  There are only a handful of women who can give advice as good as she does.  In fact, I remember many years ago when CCF held a one day women’s conference.  There were four keynote speakers for that event, here are the first three: Ann Barrameda, Blessie Melicor, and Peachy Cacanando.  Now, you know them as wives of ministers, right?  Well, the fourth is an exception to that…and she was my mom.  And some of the attendees called the foursome the Dream Team.  Truly, when mom is asked to speak on anything, especially on spiritual things, she delivers…powerfully.

Another thing great about my mom is that she’s quite patriotic.  I remember when we were living in the states, and she saw that me and many of my peers were running the risk of losing our identity as Filipinos and instead becoming brown skinned Americans.  She spearheaded a movement in the local Filipino association to hold a Philippine cultural show in order to get us immersed in the culture of our homeland.  The reason why I use Filipino products whenever possible is because if her influence.

Another trait that my mom exemplifies is simplicity.  Yes, she comes from a family of privilege, but you can never tell if you look at her.  People from similar or even lesser backgrounds can be preoccupied with acquiring pretty, shiny, and expensive things, but mom is not ensnared with the showboating and materialism that has gripped so many.  In fact, she’s one of the few women I know who doesn’t like to shop.  She’s quite frugal, very frugal.  In fact you may notice that she doesn’t usually celebrate birthdays.  We’ll make an exception this one time.  This, again, is related to her relationship with God.  The bible says that “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” 1 Tim 6:6-10 NIV

Finally, related to her simplicity is her servant’s heart.  She’s a great leader because she leads by serving.  Nothing is more inspiring than a leader who is willing to go down to the trenches along side you.  Also, few leaders are as nurturing and approachable as she is, as she often wants to make sure that even her staff’s lives outside the office are in order.  Many of you can vouch for that I’m sure.  I can vouch of this as her role today, as a mother of a married son.  As a mother and mother in law, she initiates and gives advice, but she never controls or becomes overbearing.

And many of you can vouch how she loves to serve the Lord.  I remember she was involved in the women’s ministry, in her D Group, the street kids ministry, the DSWD battered women ministry, children’s ministry, even in some of the admin work.  Right now, her D Group is handling the children’s ministry for the month of June, and mom is doing an excellent job as one of the teachers of the 10-12 year old class, at least that’s according to the teacher’s pet, her eldest granddaughter.

In fact, if there’s a source of frustration in her life right now, it’s that she’s not able to be a spiritual influence as much as she wants to, as much as she used to.  God seems to be teaching her how to be patient, even if it’s for His Kingdom work.  But I’m sure, mom, this dry period will end and one day you’ll be able to serve Him once again with gusto.

Well, I’ve said quite a mouthful.  So, mom, 60 years have passed, and it’s been one great ride.  I’ve placed you quite on a pedestal in the last few minutes, but I know you have your own faults.  Everybody does.  You’re not perfect…even better, you’re forgiven, and thank you for passing the source of that forgiveness to me and the rest of your family.

I would like to end with excerpts of Proverbs 31.  Many of you are familiar with these verses, but I’d like to read them as someone who is proud to be a son of a mother who exemplifies them more than just about any other woman I know.

Proverbs 31:10-12 and 25-31

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things,but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Yup, that is SO mom.  And so the final verse of that passage says:

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Well, I hope this party is a good enough reward, but I’m sure it’s nothing to the rewards waiting for you.  Happy 60th birthday, mom.  May you continue to be used by God for his glory.

If you want to see pictures of the event, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We have a bigger role than submitting a ballot

“When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability”. (Proverbs 28:2, NLT)

I was torn between doing a Mother’s Day blog to honor both my mother and the mother of my children (both very deserving of the glowing written piece I had in mind), or a blog as a citizen of a country that is on the verge of undergoing a great change in governance.

I was leaning towards the former, since Jhean and I are not voting in this election (long and very frustrating story) and we were quite involved in the Mother’s Day prep for our church. But the message of Pastor Peter Tanchi, our senior pastor and in my opinion one of the best Christian speakers in the country, was so good that I decided to do the latter. The message was so, so, so spot on. I’m going to try (keyword: try…I’m nowhere near Pastor Peter) to transfer his message to this blog.

Well, we Filipinos have a huge role to play today. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, circumstances dictate that the family wouldn’t be able to vote, which is such a shame because we have very strong opinions about our choices for both the local and national elections. All we can do is give vocal support (“molar support,” as they humorously say in these parts). But boy, is today’s decision important. The bible even says so, as you can see with the verse that I used to start this blog.

What kind of people should we cast our ballot for? While it was given in a different context, Exodus 18:21 shows what kind of guy (or girl, as is the case nowadays) we should vote for:

“But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. “ (Ex. 18:21, NIV)

But after all the dust settles and this country’s new leader is chosen, what’s next? We just go on our merry, irresponsible, get-me-to-the-US-embassy-quick ways? Or are we to do a task that’s bigger, much bigger, than submitting a ballot? Pastor Peter proposes that voting today is just one of the many duties as a citizen. There’s much more to be done.

One thing we should do is to be a good example. In the case of the aftermath of the elections, it’s to respect and cooperate with whoever wins. A member of my d-group and a dear friend of the family put it well. She posted her personal prayer as a Facebook status message the read something like (this is far from verbatim), “Lord, I have my bet, but I am willing to submit myself to whoever You put in office.” Beautiful.

Whether you like it or not, God placed governing authorities over us. Whoever wins, wins only because God allowed it, whether it be to bless us or to curse us. The first two verses of Romans 13 puts it this way, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Rom. 13:1-2, NIV)

But you may object and say, “But our government is so corrupt! Am I supposed to submit to something so horrid?” Well, who was in power when this verse was written? It was the Romans, who ruled over the Jewish people, destroyed the temple, kept the audience of the book of Romans as slaves, and who carried the biggest misdeed of all time when they crucified the Son of God…yet readers we’re commanded to submit to them. If the audience of the biblical books were tasked to do that, then we are to do so to the Philippine gov’t as well, under whoever wins today.

The next thing we do is to be prayerful. Who else will pray for this country besides those of us who truly believe in Jesus? Most Filipinos tend to condemn our gov’t leaders. I even catch some of my church mates (gasp!) doing this. Look, these guys need our prayers, not our criticisms. Again, we go to the Bible to see an example of a command (this time, regarding prayer) when the environment was far from ideal. Jeremiah wrote to the Israelites held captive as slaves in a foreign land:

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jer. 29:7-8, NIV)

Wow. Pray for the pagan city that holds you captive as a slave. Amazing. Shame on us, as free men, who lambast our local and national leaders when we should be on our knees, praying on their behalf. Pray for them, for if they prosper, we prosper.

Let me end this entry by once again reminding you that although we are to choose our earthly ruler today, it is only because the true ruler of the universe and of this country has allowed it.  The song we sang in worship service yesterday is so apt for this truth, a video of which I have below. God is the God of the Philippines and of Cagayan de Oro, and greater things are yet to come. May He bless the Philippines.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nick Vujicic: No hands, no feet…but what a heart!

This is a video of someone born without any arms or legs.  Can you imagine that?  Yet this video, which I showed to my students and to the youth, is both an inspiration and a challenge to me (and hopefully, to all of us who see it).

Why?  Well, we complain over much less.  Yet most of us do not see life like he does nor impact lives the way he does.  Anyway, watch and enjoy the video to see what I mean.

May God continue to bless this man.  And guys, guess what…the same source of strength that he has is readily available to us as well!

I think of David, in the midst of the toughest trials that would break any man, writing “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.  My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
I will end this blog with my favorite worship song, a song that so beautifully puts this wonderful promise in music.  God bless you all.

Recommended reading:  Nick Vujicic’s books.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

CCF's newest (and scariest) ministry

One of the many things I like about the church that I worship in is how sensitive the leadership is to the needs of the congregation, and how seriously and creatively they and the rest of the church take action to meet these needs.

Examples: with so many small groups, they came up with a D-group management ministry that helps people find a D Group that’s right for them.  CCF nourishes the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of the less fortunate by forming CUPCOM (CCF Urban Poor Community Outreach Ministry).  Our beautiful women over 50 years old have a Sunshine ladies ministry.  There’s a jail ministry, a single parents ministry, a ministry that reaches out to the PNP, a singles ministry, a college ministry, a flower arranging ministry, a music ministry, a children’s ministry, a high school youth ministry.  There’s just so much going on, all the time…and I believe CCF does a pretty thorough job shepherding and meeting the needs of God’s worshippers who choose to worship Him within her halls.

However, for the longest time, they have not touched all the bases.

There was an important demographic in the congregation that may have missed the dutiful eyes of our church leaders: girls of the young teen and tween age.  Good thing our elders wizened up and came up with the newest and scariest CCF ministry: the HUNKS ministry!!

You see, the world has a very strong pull to these young girls’ hearts, a pull that puts them in a trance that’s almost impossible to break.  I remember the young girls of my generation were so into New Kids On The Block that they would swoon every time one of their videos comes on or when one of their songs gets a bit of airtime on the radio.  In the late 90’s, my ear drums (and girls’ hearts) were bombarded by musical (?) acts such as Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Boyzone, F4, and their ilk.  Today, my students go gaga over Korean and Japanese boy bands (very effeminate boy bands) like N.E.W.S.  Lastly, adorably cute teen sensation Justin Berbier currently has the number one album in America, showing just how strong this demographic is, and how important it is to get their attention for the glory of God.

What I usually like about Christian media is that they seem do a good job attracting the younger generation nowadays.  My kids are into Kids Praise!, Veggie Tales, Herbie and Friends, and Hillsong Kids.  My eldest daughter has a CD of the Christian teen pop band, Jump 5.  Many of my evangelical Christian students are huge fans of God-glorifying acts like Cutlass, Hillsong United, 7th Day Slumber, Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, 33 Miles, and others.

But it seems like the Boy Band genre has slipped under everyone’s radar.  There’s simply no Christian answer to the likes of Beiber, NEWS, Backstreet boys, etc.

Well, Christian girls rejoice, the CCF HUNKS are here!  Now you ladies can get your fill of dashing young men and honor the Lord at the same time.   Let me tell you, auditions were tough, and the criteria nearly impossible to meet: musical, Godly, irresistibly gorgeous.  Many wonderful young men from the TOUCH singles ministry had their hearts broken and their egos forever scarred because they didn’t make the cut.  But the whole process was worth it, and the HUNKS are now available to lead you into worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ and look darn good doing so!

So come on girls, check them out!  To give you a little snippet of their awesomeness, here they are with their version of

Made to Worship.  Enjoy!

Oh, by the way, today is April 1.  Gotcha!!

I was just in the mood to do something for April Fool’s Day and I remember the video of the TOUCH Singles guys goofing off during one of their seminars.  (If I’m not mistaken, they were waiting for the food to be prepared and were bored crazy…well, crazier than usual)

I hope you got a good chuckle out of this.  Would love to get your comments.

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