Friday, September 28, 2007

Temporary Restraining Order

The funniest thing happened.

Blogger actually closed me down. At least for a couple of days. Imagine me, the Resurgent Blogger, all ready to blog again, something that is not exactly easy to do when you're new (again) at this and are trying to get your rhythm back. Then, you get a note that your blog has been locked for possible violations of terms of agreement. I had no idea what I did wrong! Apparently, my blog was under observation and was being suspected to be a spam blog. Imagine that. A TRO on blogging. Made me laugh last night.

It's Friday today, my absolute favorite day of the week. I love this day for two reasons.

First, because Friday is youth day for me. We hold our youth services every Friday evening at Galleria (one of Manila's favorite malls for the benefit of readers abroad). What a great way to end the work week -- with young people, transformed by the grace of God, jumping around to great music. My discipleship group leader Pinky is preaching today about Esther. We're having a mock beauty pageant to start things off. I'm excited.

Second reason is obviously that Friday signals the end of the week. Although I have to go to work a few hours tomorrow to interview some men who will be getting baptized tomorrow after Victory Weekend, I am excited to get some rest, to get some reading done for the Fall Into Reading challenge and watch Veronica Mars.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007: A Reading Challenge

I took part in a reading challenge early this year also hosted by Katrina. Failed quite miserably. I am still not able to read as much as I want to but I have been consciously going back to my old cycle of reading a chapter or two a night. I've even managed to finish a book in a week. Not bad considering my current schedule.

I am hoping that I will get to move out of my mom's before the end of the year. Without a TV in the house, I am guessing I will be able to read more books. I digress.

Anyway, if you're a book hound like me, please do visit the Fall Into Reading 2007 site and sign up!

Here's my list of books for this new challenge:

1. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist

I am down to my last 15 pages or so and I am determined to finish it within the week. It's a book I borrowed from Varsha ages ago. Here's the thing. I am dreading the last few pages because I know the part where the lead has to go back home is coming. I'm so feeling bad for her.

2. Becoming a Woman of Spiritual Passion by Donna Morley

Halfway done with this one. It's pretty good. What I like about this book is that Donna Morley uses a lot of true stories to better illustrate the point she's trying to drive at. These stories I am able to use when I minister to the women in my small groups.

3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

One of the books I own that I have lent more than I've read.

4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I am intrigued by all the great reviews this book's gotten. Saw the trailer of the feature film based on this book on Apple trailers last night. Got even more intrigued.

5. A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

One of my favorite authors. There's just something magical about the way she writes. Tugs at my heart all the time.

6. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

My friend Meg told me this book made her literally sick. The bitter ending left her with a fever.

7. The Penny by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford

I love Joyce Meyer and am curious how good of a fiction writer she is. This one's supposed to be good.

8. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Plot seems gripping. Excited to read it.

9. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I'm done with about a quarter of this book. Pretty good so far. But I am told there are better Picoult novels.

10. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I have been looking for this book for the past 6 months! Stock finally arrived at Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street. Immediately grabbed a copy and went straight to cashier.

That's it so far. Will update this post as I go along with the challenge. Excited to go home and get started!

Rainy Days & Mondays never get me down

It's Monday and I'm at work.

• It's been a long time since I've worked on a Monday. I appreciate the peace and quiet. Don't get me wrong, I love working with the bunch of people I work with (I share the room with a few pastors, two church secretaries, two worship leaders and our music director.) I just also appreciate silence. Tomorrow when they come in on their first day of the week, I will be coming in on my second day all done with the work I usually don't get to tackle until Tuesday.

• If you've been checking out our website, you know that it's been down all of last week. We encountered some problems with our server. But I assure you that our IT Team is working extra hard to fix the problem. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused. And we do hope to have all Victory sites up and running in the next few days.

• Can you believe I've been blogging multiple entries for the past few days since I first started this blog? I hope to keep this up. But so far I'm enjoying. I'm beginning to see why it was so difficult for me to sustain my past blogs. I think it was more the pressure of writing something substantial. While I do hope I am also not rambling purposelessly, I also am beginning to see that this is my personal blog and I can say what I want to say. I don't always have to have mind-blowing thoughts (although I do hope I occasionally say something of substance, or at the very least something that will make you laugh) or mini-preaching messages. This is just me, writing from the heart.

• Okay, it's time for lunch. I'm still spotty, by the way. So consider yourself warned. Please try not to stare at my face so much. Haha. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happening this week

Grey's Anatomy season 4 premieres! I am so excited! Lexie Grey is now an intern at Seattle Grace, George is an intern AGAIN, Burke is officially gone. Here's a preview of what's to come on Thursday:

Ugly Betty comes back with a bang!

Retro TV

While browsing through videos on youtube today, I began to search for old TV shows I used to enjoy as a kid.

Does anyone remember this show called Rags to Riches? I loved, loved, loved this show and seeing some song and dance numbers on youtube brought back so many wonderful memories of watching late night TV on RPN.

I also remember when Nickelodeon used to be on Channel 4. I would have my snack ready at 4pm (or was it 430?) so I could watch Nick on PTV 4. The shows they had then were Mr. Wizard's World (where I learned lots of cool science tricks), Black Beauty, The Campbells, Double Dare, and of course, You Can't Do That on Television, which had hilarious "slime" scenes (Slime would come pouring on a kid's head when he/she says "I don't know"):

And of course, my absolute favorite -- Batibot. I learned so much from this show and I can probably say that this show is responsible for my high grades in Filipino from Grade School all the way to college. The other shows that followed just didn't seem to cut it. Here's a clip that will bring back loads of memories if you were an 80's kid:

Oh, how I miss 80's TV!

This is church

I am officially a fan of Perry Noble and Newspring Church.

Was browsing through their website and came across their Mother's Day message. This one brought me to tears. God is amazing and the way He has orchestrated everything so that His church (NOT the building but the PEOPLE) would shine His light and enfold into loving family those who are alone, lonely, sick, rejected, lost, confused, broken is just brilliant. Goes to show how God is not just kind and merciful. He's THE Genius of all geniuses. (Come to think of it. God plans amazingly well, He executes amazingly well, His creativity is off the charts, and His leadership skills are tops. Gosh, the list will never end. How great is our God!)

This is an awesome picture of church. Watch and weep.

Jesus Christ and the Superstars

This blog entry's title I got from an article they had on Philippine Star (one of the leading dailies in the Philippines) today. It talks about my church (the one that I also work for) and how we have a lot of celebrities (political, those from the entertainment industry, athletes, etc..) with us.

The fact that we have them in church is something I am happy about. Not because they are beautiful, rich, and famous, but because just like you and me, they are people who were lost and needed to found. That they are influential may be considered a bonus, or not.

When you're famous and a Christian, you are more subject to public scrutiny. The industry, the media, and the audience watch closely what you do and say, ready to pounce at every lapse in judgment, every moody outburst, every role you choose to play -- thinking that people who have given their lives to Jesus are not entitled to not be perfect. To be a celebrity and a Christian, I surmise, is difficult. I am glad I can make a mistake and not have to worry about the country (or the world via TFC) finding out by the time the evening news is aired.

And that is why I salute our celebrities who have stepped out in faith and accepted the purpose of shining God's light in the entertainment industry (or political arena, or sports world, or social circles).

However, while we honor and love them as much as we do the people who make up over 90% of our congregation, they do not get special treatment. I think this is also one of the reasons they like coming. When they come to church, they are just people who are seeking God, they are just people who, like everyone else, need other people to care about them and speak into their lives. They are just people like us, sinners who need a Savior.

I'm pasting the article here since apparently takes down articles after 3 days.

Jesus Christ & Superstars
HOT FUSS SUNDAE By Paolo Lorenzana
Saturday, September 22, 2007

There’s probably enough dirt here to go around — enough to quash the significance of all those gossip shows, scandal-glorifying blogs, and rumor-fueled conversations that keep the showbiz kiln burning brightly. In such a pristine environment — a church heralding liberation from sin and spiritual sustenance from the imperfections of humanity — was a congregation scattered with the broken, the weary and, interestingly, the famous.

The woman singing from the expansive stage facing a couple hundred people espoused all of the above. Kitchie Nadal, no stranger to the public’s speculation and who’d resonated with the inner pain of female singers she’d once idolized, was now singing a song entitled Grace. This gig demanded no talent fee or attempt at promoting a new EP. She wasn’t even singing for an audience that, despite having its fair share of CD-purchasing youthful-demographic types, was diverse in all respects. No, one of local rock’s most regaled female denizens was singing for God.


What has stirred the showbiz community more than Gretchen Barretto’s dalliances, Ruffa Gutierrez’s caustic marital life, or any scandal worthy of Boy Abunda’s two cents, is God. Victory Christian Fellowship, which began in 1984 as a relatively tiny assembly of 150 students in Manila’s U-Belt, has become the leading purveyor of this movement, now evangelizing 24,000 adherents in 11 venues around the metro, including a flagship church located in Bonifacio Global City. Nationally, its church has grown in all regions, and globally, its track record just as impressive — Filipino missionaries setting out as far as Afghanistan to spread Christ’s word. Still, its most visible envoys are its celebrities — sexy ‘80s persona Carmi Martin, a smattering of basketball stars, and MTV alum Donita Rose-Villarama, one of the church’s most stalwart devotees — listening raptly to the preaching on the power of grace after Nadal’s exclusive performance; the “guest list” on this particular Sunday but a fraction of Victory’s stellar army.

With today’s most luminous personalities — namely Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga — having clung to this rampant conversion, subtly dropping their beliefs in interviews and raising the public’s speculation in a country whose culture is permeated with the sins of its stars and is buttressed by its solemn Catholic backbone, skeptics have been driven to taint Victory and the progression of Born-Again Christianity with the sort of celebrity domination that Scientology has harbored in Hollywood.

Yet in the ministry of Victory, there is no alien ruler or iconic member known for jumping on couches that have made it an easy target of ridicule. And though the church itself resembles any modern corporate structure — with elevators, escalators and high-tech audiovisual slideshows projected in an auditorium used for its regular services — its mission, put simply, is the development of a willing visitor’s personal relationship with Christ rather than the hawkish throttling of a new religion. This, as Victory’s senior pastor Joey Bonifacio declares in a service interspersed with comedic repartee and his enrapturing lilt, is “supernatural grace,” or rather, Christ’s call enabling a person to become what He has created him or her to become, no matter how littered with sin one’s past is.

Saved! No, Really...

Siguro the most attractive thing about all of it is that sinners are allowed in,” says Rica Peralejo, a Mary Magdalene of sorts you might be familiar with from movies like Balahibong Pusa and Dos Ekis, a week after Bonifacio’s preaching on grace. “I lived a hardcore life — everything you can think of — downing 11 glasses of Kurant and staying up ‘til 10 a.m., drugs and sleeping around ‘cause I thought that was the way to be somebody. My weakness was that no one protected me.”

She’d been around the Christian type before and initially reacted as many have — “turned off” by its “corniness”: members’ exhilarated sing-and-clap worship at the beginning of a service; the whole business of admitting you were a sinner and being “saved”; and having to make life all about God while denying herself the hedonistic perks that came with the celebrity lifestyle. She remembers the exact date she was “shaken” by God May 1, 2006 — when, after much resistance, her “weakness” was neutered; Rica finally unshackling herself from her desperation for male adoration and, with discipleship from actress-turned-evangelist Coney Reyes, dedicating her entirety to Him.

Apart from suffering mockery from family and friends, her admission was one that laid her career under a guillotine, paring down her selection of roles as she declined dancing sexily on variety shows and the half-naked laddie mag features — an arduous transition after being known for writhing against a tree in Tatarin rather than baring her soul to the Lord. “People really saw me as stupid. And then a pastor said ‘Don’t worry, nothing can go against the miracle of a changed life’ and I was like, ‘Okay, whatever that means…’ But now, I know it’s real. If you were to come up with your own words, you can’t explain Him. There’s just so much change in me that was impossible.”

As Rica speaks, eyes glazed with childlike wonder, we are sitting at a cafĂ© across the Ateneo de Manila University, where the 26-year-old is a freshman majoring in creative writing; this second life of schooling she considers her “fuel and inspiration” and a decision she counts as one of the many dramatic transformations brought on by her faith. Indeed, that former starlet is buried six feet under but what has sprung forth is a rejuvenated star who admirably balances a demanding education with a morning show and a new teleserye entitled Pangarap na Bituin, a show that illustrates the rocky road showbiz may sometimes lead its stars down.

Boundless doubt to all of this is welcome, of course, and Rica realizes that, especially when the God of Born-Again Christianity seems to have become an all-encompassing manager and publicist in the realm of showbiz, shifting past scandal into salvation and turning sexy stars and drug-dredged lotharios into disciples. Still, Victory will relentlessly continue its fellowship in the hippest way possible, whether to the life-threatened Afghans or star-steeped community, and Rica, like each member of the celebrity stronghold who have sacrificed their careers for the sacrifice of Christ, will continue to keep the faith. “I have my human tendencies but the difference is that I’m well aware of the sinner I am. There’s a spirit in you that tells you that you gotta ask for help. For now, work is such a godly act for me. ‘Cause if you ask me, I don’t want to be in the business. But if I disciple and tell you there’s a God, so what? But He put me somewhere I can serve him best. It’s funny, and you may not believe me, but my job is where I see the hand of God move the most. Every damn day of this business, I see him.”

God as local Tinseltown’s most sincere endorsement may be a bit of a stretch, but maybe all the admission that results decrees a little admiration. It even makes all the dirt we’d sought all along seem irrelevant.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Question

Came across this blog entry by Perry Noble. He asks:

What Would You Be Willing To Attempt For God If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

A few things come to mind:

1. Go to campuses and speak to young women. I have no idea how this will come about but I have been asking around how I can get more involved in campus ministry. I am not sure if I am doing enough but God has always come through for me in terms of opening doors. The last thing I want to do is be overzealous and go ahead of God. I know somewhere down the road the vision He has given me will come to pass. It's scary, nervewracking. But I know I need to step out in faith if this vision is to become reality.

2. Move out. Again I am torn. I don't want to just go for it. On the other hand, there's a fear in me that I am staying home because this is my comfort zone. I guess what I and my two other future housemates are looking for is favor. Then, we will know if this is something God wants us to do now.

If only courage were something that God can just hand to those who need it. But for courage to come, we need to step out and obey what God has called us to do, no matter how frightening, how uncertain, how utterly uncomfortable it may be.

Psalm 34:4 says "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."

I take hold of that truth as I face the fears that come with obeying what God has called me to do.

Weekend Woman

I finally have weekends off.

I've been working for a church in Manila for the past year and a half. That means I have almost always had to work on weekends since most church activities happen during the weekend. I just realized how this has taken a toll on me.

I had days off and sabbath days, of course. But I guess my body is still used to two consecutive days of rest, being able to also get to spend time at home with my family.

It's a real blessing that my boss decided that I'm better off working on Mondays, a more productive day for someone who is in charge of our church's website and podcast.

Ushering in a new season of blogging

I must admit. I am not a very good blogger.

It frustrates me to no end that I cannot seem to keep a blog going.

I start. I stop. I start again. I stop again. I start yet again. I stop yet again.

You get the drift.

But I also have to admit. I am dead set on becoming the best blogger I can be.

Why is this so important to me?

Because it is.

I have a need to write. I have a need to have people read what I write. I have a need to write without having to be my own screening committee. I have the need to be able to write freely.

And so, welcome The Resurgent Blogger.

I hope you'll see me again sometime soon.