Monday, December 26, 2011

Singleness: When you're single in a married world

In our culture and society, singleness seems to be acceptable only until your early twenties. I have had someone ask me, "What's wrong with you?" when he learned that I was still single. When you're single and people think it's high-time for you to get married, you can expect:

- people telling you to lower your standards
- matchmaking schemes 
- people telling you you're way past calendar age
- being pressured, because you might not have a child anymore
- being called an old maid
- feeling ugly or embarrassed
- feeling that every guy that comes along and pays you attention is a "prospect"

Some people who tell you these things or seem to make you feel bad have good intentions of course.  The married and in-a-relationship ones want you to feel the same happiness they are experiencing.  Parents and family members want to ensure that the good genes get passed on.  In short, people just want everyone, including you, to be happy.

It makes you wonder though, is singleness inferior to the married life? Because of worldly standards, single godly men and women have the tendency to compromise their godly standards.  We settle for men or women who are ungodly just so we wouldn't be lonely or feel bad because everyone around us is married or going there.  Or we date around, giving pieces of our hearts to each and every guy that comes along.  

It is a challenge for singles to remain pure physically, emotionally and spiritually. But with God's grace it is possible.  The only standards worth thinking about are the standards of God. 

"Single" is not an inferior status compared to "married"

Singleness, if anything, is a gift.  Some people are called to marriage, some people are called to singleness. The Bible does not have a "dating" status.   If you're not married, you're single.  One day, you might get married.  But until then, you're single.   The apostle Paul said that it is good for widows and the unmarried to stay single.     

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
Does this contradict the Adam and Eve story?  After all, God gave Adam a helpmate, Eve, because he saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone.  No.  Both singleness and marriage is a gift. Paul did not have to worry about the stresses of marriage. He could devote his time to ministry and to God. But some people function better with a tag team partner.  They can also glorify God through their relationship and their family.

Don't let singleness become the devil's foothold

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  He tells you that you're ugly, that you're worthless, that you're lonely. He robs you of your joy in Christ. It's also tempting to remain in or get into an ungodly relationship, or to question God when you've been single for a long time. But having a boyfriend is not the standard for you to live a full life.  Jesus Christ is the only requirement for a full life.  Are you ready to compromise Jesus Christ for a boyfriend or a husband?

2 Corinthians 6:14 

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The only eternal relationship is our relationship with God 

Our relationships on earth are temporary.  We value them and treasure them, because with them, we glorify God.  In the end though, our relationship with God is only one that will last.

Mark 12:25 

For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:29-30 

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

It's all about God

Faith comes when we remove the focus on ourselves and focus on the God who watches over us.  Whatever status we are in -- single or married -- the point is to glorify Him. Remember God's faithfulness.  It's easy to choose a tangible person over God when God is not a personal God. But when we remember the cross and what He did to win us over, everything else fades away.  Are you single?  You are not alone.

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. ~ Hosea 2:19-20

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to Help Typhoon Sendong Victims in the Philippines

update as of December 21, 2011 2pm, Sendong death toll tops 1,000

The Sendong death toll has risen to 652 as of 6:00 pm yesterday, with 800 more missing. We can add "help Sendong victims" to our Christmas to-do-lists, aside from the usual gift-buying and Christmas parties.  Here's one way for you to help the 8,000 families in the Philippines who were affected by Typhoon Sendong.

 Right Start Foundation, a non-profit, non-stock NGO that supports underprivileged children, will be holding relief operations in CDO next week, according to the blog of Pastor Dennis Sy of Victory Greenhills.  Right Start is one of the foundations supported by Victory Christian Fellowship.

photo from Rock Ed Philippines on facebook

They need our help.  Photo from Arlene Sy.

from Twitter #Sendong
More Sendong photos:

Donations can be sent to:

Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) account under RIGHT START COMMUNITY DEV’T INC. 
Account Number: 004021-0129-42

Banco de Oro account under RIGHT START COMMUNITY DEV’T INC. 
Account Number: 2030132221

Banco de Oro under account name Right Start Community Dev’t Inc.

Account number: 102030129115

Typhoon Sendong is the worst typhoon to hit the Philippines in 25 years.  Spread the word and send your help now.  

Update: Filipinos abroad, send your donations to credible and recognized organizations. Be wary of donation scams for Sendong victims.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Saved Festival 2011 Manila Concert Report

SAVED FESTIVAL 2011, Manila - Six hours of worship with eight amazing Christian bands and performers and one inspiring pastor.  Was the 1k ticket worth it? Are you kidding me?! There's no price tag for uninhibited, passionate, and sincere worship for God!

A concert for worship

Gary V's fire-filled performances left us wanting for more of God

The difference between this Christian concert with other concerts I had attended in the past was that all the shouting, clapping and frenzied joy were not for idols we were watching, but for the one true God who alone is worthy of our praise.  Every performer exhibited this attitude for God when they went onstage.  

Gary V. is one of the, if not the, most well-known and vocal Christian performers in the Philippines today.  To put his popular songs like "Take me Out of the Dark" and "Natutulog ba ang Diyos" in context, he interspersed his singing and dancing with readings from bible verses and some personal reflections. He told us that sometimes when he performed and said stuff like "praise Jesus", people would usually look at him oddly. He said that it felt great to be in the presence of people who would actually understand what he meant when he said things like those.  I feel you Gary V!  In a concert such as this, you really wouldn't be able to help praising and thanking God.

Lyrics were projected for free worship. These are lines from one of my many favorite Gary V. songs 
Mr. Pure Energy

Gary V. is also known as Mr. Pure Energy, and people just naturally assume that it's because of his awesome dance moves.  To quote roughly:  "I'm called Mr. Pure Energy, not because of this (dances a bit for the audience); all the energy comes from God"

Mr. Pure Energy himself

Everyone who follows the Filipino pop scene must know that Gary has been battling Type 1 Juvenile diabetes, a sickness he has lived with since he was 14 years old. He emphasized that it was amazing that he was even performing for us at that moment. Isn't God amazing?

More Pinoy worship leaders

 After many songs from Gary V (which I believe was already worth more than 1k!), Quest motivated us to let go and enjoy the party. He got everyone up on their feet to dance.

I also loved his smooth and inspiring RnB/rap grooves that were just so good for the spirit. Those who like Pinoy Christian worship might recognize Quest as Jose Villanueva III, the one who composed the touching "Lord of All".

Sideshow followed Quest's upbeat performance with some Pinoy Christian rock. There should be more powerful voices and bands like Sideshow! Kamown Pinoy Christian musicians! Rock for God!

Photo from Sideshow's Facebook page

It was the first time I heard Jodi King. She sang Breathing in/Breathing Out plus some other songs with her husband on the guitar (awww so sweet).

Beautiful woman of God

 One of the best things about the concert was hearing life testimonies of the grace of God. Pastor Steve Ruetschle of the Union Church of Manila talked about his personal experience with brokenness and the power of prayer.  He was in a motorcycle accident that made him a quadriplegic, and doctors told him that he would never walk again.  It was the faith and prayers of his friends and wife that pushed him through this difficult phase.  He likens his story to the story of the paralytic whose friends wanted to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus to be healed. However, the house where Jesus was staying was already filled with people when they got there, so the friends decided to course the paralytic through the roof. This way, Jesus was able to heal the man.  Pastor Steve reminds us that everyone suffers from brokenness in one form or the other.  During our times of brokenness, we should never underestimate the power of praying for each other.  

In a benefit concert for Pastor Steve, Gary V told the audience that he had a vision of the then-paralyzed Pastor running. Seeing Gary V onstage, dancing and singing, and comparing himself seated on a wheelchair, Pastor Steve found this unbelievable. His friends did not lose faith though and continued to pray for him. Today, the pastor praises God for His faithfulness.

He's not just walking...preach it, Pastor Steve!

Pastor Steve: Walking, but not running...."yet"

 Two in One

Other amazing testimonies were those of the Parachute Band and Martin Smith of Delirious?

Parachute Band Frontman Omega Levine talked about being bullied growing up because of a physical deformity.  He became bitter and angry despite being raised in a Christian family with a pastor for a father.  It was the love of God that brought about the positive transformation in his life.  The band led all of us to an amazing worship and sang their new song, "Keep the Fire Burning". 

Martin Smith's testimony really inspired me.  Martin is the composer of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" and most people know him as the lead singer of Delirious?, a popular Christian band. Martin said that the band's schedule could get really busy, and they had to rush and fly around the world to go to gigs. It got to a point that his intimacy with Jesus became compromised.  It was because of this that Delirious? decided to disband.  Martin said that sometimes, you just had to do things like "leave the band" because you have to set your sights on a bigger prize -- Jesus Christ.

It was great seeing Martin Smith and the Parachute Band together, singing.  Despite their relatively popular status, they shifted our eyes from being starstruck and led us to praise God.

Photo from Facebook wallpage of Parachute Band
Dancing and Singing with Starfield

Martin Smith and Parachute Band were followed by Starfield. The band stimulated us yet again with a string of Christian rock tunes. Lead singer Tim Neufeld also lent some humor to the concert and led the crowd to groove to some, as he says it, "ridiculous" dance moves.

Hosanna in the Highest

Beautiful man of God

Saved...the ending and the beginning.

Need I say that Citipointe rocked Araneta?

Six hours of praise and worship wasn't tiring.  It was refreshing. I left that concert knowing that something in me had changed and that the best things had been revived. Praise God for beautiful endings and even more beautiful beginnings.

Photo shared by Amalia dela Cruz on Facebook


Beautiful people I was with

Ria, Mabs, April

VGmates from Ortigas and Los Banos

Beautiful Church that led me here

The shirt is my Saved Festival souvenir

Beautiful God

Saved Festival 2011 was held at the Araneta Coliseum, Manila last Nov. 26, 2011. 
More (and better) pictures here

Saved is an annual God-centered festival where people from all over the world will travel far and wide to witness the great gathering of united Filipino believers in Jesus Christ!

From the Saved 2011 Facebook page:

The SAVED FESTIVAL 2011 is for the benefit of:


THE WORSHIP PROJECT recognizes the need to enable committed and qualified individuals to lead the local churches in their spiritual worship, equipped with Bible-based discipleship and high-quality instruments. THE WORSHIP PROJECT will target select churches in Metro Manila in need of better instruments in order to further encourage and reinforce that our worship to the Almighty Father should be nothing short of excellent. The following program provides discipleship and interactive training sessions to further advance each team member’s growth in their skills, God-given talents, and spiritual life.

At the end of the program, the participating churches will be rewarded and equipped with instruments of upgraded/enhanced quality as available.