"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." (Albert Einstein)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

O Singing CHRISTmas Tree!

GCFCC Christmas cantata 2006: The Singing CHRISTmas Tree!

Indeed, that's a photo I took of a singing Christmas tree! As a choir alumna, I've been blessed to sing for God in last year's Christmas Reunion Concert (and in other special reunion events). But a few Sundays back (10th of December), I was likewise blessed to joyfully and worshipfully celebrate the Lord Jesus' birth while watching the Christmas cantata. And much as I love to vocally sing for Him, I also love to silently sing in my heart as part of the audience/congregation. Yet to our delight, we (the congregation) were asked to sing our favorite Christmas carols with the singing Christmas tree at the grand finale.

The poem below spoke to me and reminded me about the Christ of CHRISTmas, Who is the Reason for the season. Hope it inspires you too. To everyone,
Merry CHRISTmas & a Happy New Year!


Christmas is a special time
To reflect on Jesus Christ
The wonder of His lowly birth
Brings meaning to our lives

There really is no other reason
We celebrate this day
The birth of God’s precious son
And the life He willingly gave

But so much seems to distract us
In the busy-ness of our lives
We lose our focus in all the happenings
Not knowing, we leave out Christ

We lose sight of the true meaning
As we endlessly rush about
Trying to find that perfect gift
Seems to cloud our Saviour out

We need to stop and reflect awhile
Remembering our precious Lord
His birth, His life and sacrifice
And all that He stands for

For though the world may celebrate
It seems though for other reasons
Let’s keep in mind that Jesus Christ
Is the true meaning of the season

© By M. S. Lowndes
poem from www.heavensinspirations.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It inspires me!

Around this time of the year, high school seniors take their college entrance exams. A particular senior showed me an essay she wrote for her college application, where she mentioned me. Since she is one of my students, it's heartwarming and inspiring for me to see that I made an impact in her life. I believe that my ultimate Master is God, and God gives us gifts to serve our fellowmen for His glory. I've been quite busy with work and other matters. And her essay is a real boost and motivation from God, giving me so much fulfillment. Thanks to her. And thank You, Lord! :) As a reminder to me, I quoted the essay below (verbatim).

how i see the mentor-mentee relationship
from www.allposters.com

One of Life's Lessons

I was just a typical high school freshman who was excited to get into high school. The reason is that I would be considered more mature and independent. But like most teenagers, I would just do okay in academics and focus more on my social life. This means going to the mall with friends, watching movies, attending concerts, and basically not paying a lot of attention to school work. In other words, I took my studies for granted.

Then one day, I just woke up and realized that I have to put a stop to it. I figured out that I just could not go on that way. I needed to do better in my studies, so that I could reach my goals. I have to do well in high school in order to get into a good college. Of course I knew that a good college is the best stepping-stone for a good future, because college is where you are molded for the real world. To do that, I prayed to God, got help from my mentor and close friend _____ (a.k.a. scanns, who is the best motivator for will power you could ever have), and from my family (through their unconditional love and support). And most important of all, I gave my best in everything that I needed to do.

After that phase, I am proud to say that I have been through a lot, and it was all worth it. This was all a learning experience in life for me. I became a stronger person, and I am happy to say that I am graduating this March. Now I am ready for the next level, which is college, and I am hoping for that to be _____.

Friday, July 07, 2006

CHRISTmas Always Shines, more concert pics (part 2 of 2)

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a peek into the rehearsals: stage chorus centerstage,
taking instructions from choreographer Rene H.

Ate Rose holding the baby who played Baby Jesus in the cantata,
this cutie baby's actually a girl!

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Indeed, it's such a joy to sing for the Lord!

my students/friends...

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after the cantata, with the pit chorus...

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reunion of former officemates...

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Aren't they cute? They played the international kids in the cantata.

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Aren't we cute? hehe... :-)

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Just like the good old days!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

CHRISTmas Always Shines, even on my birthday month! (part 1 of 2)

Since I opened this blog and it became my main personal website, I haven't been visiting my geocities webpage as much. So imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I recently saw this comment on my geocities guestbook from t'nils. This was her comment:

"Enjoyed your blog on the GCFCC--your recollections of past activities under my directorship and the current ones (25th anniv of GCF and reunion concert). Would you disclose your identity to me by e-mailing me a personal note? I need to know whom I'm thanking for a job well done."

She was our choir director, my discipler, and will always be my friend. Thank you, t'nils, for your very kind words and appreciation, and for blessing me with your life, ministry, and friendship. I'll email you after posting this blog entry (on updates and pictures of our reunion concert), so you'll know who I am and about this new post.

What she chanced upon (while surfing the net) was the blog entry which I posted last December, entitled CHRISTmas Still Shines!!! (You may click on the preceding underscored words if you want to read it.) In it, I reminisced (using words and pictures) about my love for singing, singing for the Lord, and singing in the choir. And it was an invitation to the "GCF Chancel Choir Reunion Concert" (circa 1985 to present) with my fellow alumni and current members of the GCFCC, plus the Praise Factory (kids). More than that, this concert was also a reunion with t'nils, who is actually our beloved Ate Nila (concert conductor), and her husband Kuya Ed D. (cantata overture composer, arranger and pianist), together with Rev. David (GCF founding pastor) and Patty Jo Y., who were all "home for Christmas" from abroad.

The reunion concert was just like old times and more... In the thick of the preparation, practices and performances, it's such a joy that we not just rekindled old friendships, but also built new friendships. There was an overflow of laughter, tears of joy, heartwarming memories, inspiring messages, and bittersweet goodbyes. It's always great to celebrate the birth of the Reason for the season (the Christ of CHRISTmas) with family. During performances, sometimes memories would surge that we'd get goosebumps. Sometimes we were overwhelmed with emotion that we almost choked while singing.

Some of the GCFCC alumni who joined did not sing with us in the concert, but served as narrators, cast members, and production staff. And we acknowledged our fellow alumni who were part of the audience. I'm so glad I was able to take these pictures to preserve our new memories. And I posted the pictures here to share this momentous occasion with you all, whether you were there or not, whether you are here or abroad (as the cybernet knows no geographic boundaries). So let's look at the pictures and reminisce... hope you all enjoy this trip down memory lane. May God continue to bless, guide, strengthen and inspire us all, wherever we may be!

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backstage, while waiting for our cue...

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onstage, while closing in prayer... all glory to Jesus!

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the audience, on their feet to join us in prayer...

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stage-left with the pit chorus, right after the concert...

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We lingered on to capture more memories. The cute kids on the photos are Ofie's younger daughter, and my nephew and niece.

Such a great picture from Jean R., thanks a lot for sharing your photos with me!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Colors of Summer

fruits galore...

That's the resto, with my pamangkin (nephew) & company waiting for the meal... and the first of those yummy dishes, sinabawang halaan.

more of those delectable dishes... crabs in sauce with spices and calamares

some more yum-yum dishes... baked tahong with garlic & cheese,
and pinaputok na pampano stuffed with veggies & spices

more fruits, and savoring the cold "special halo-halo" of Iceberg by the seaside (just perfect for the hot summer)...

oh, the seaside...

Friday, April 21, 2006

why do we greet each other "Happy Easter"...

At 9pm onwards last Friday (Good Friday), I watched on cable TV the movie "The Passion of the CHRIST" for the first time. Heart-rending...I really cried buckets! Up until now, scenes still flash inside my head sometimes, which explains this entry. I heard before that a man actually surrendered to the police for his crime after he saw this movie, now I understand why... Seeing this movie so deeply reminded me how much Jesus loves us! "Being God Himself" (John 1:1-5, 10-14, 17) and "sinless" (Hebrews 4:14-16), Jesus is the only one who can, and did, sacrifice Himself on the cross to offer each of us salvation (Philippians 2:5-11). If we (who are not sinless) can pay for our sins by good works or sacrifice, then why did Jesus (the holy Son of God) have to die for us on the cross? Good works cannot buy us Heaven, but being a citizen of Heaven (by faith in Jesus) results to our good works out of love for Jesus! As Ephesians 2:8-10 clearly says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

I thank Jesus so much that He has given me eternal life in Heaven--since I committed my life to Him and invited Him by faith to be my own personal Savior & Lord on that day some years ago! And by the end of the movie, when I saw Jesus' resurrection, the empty tomb, and His nail-scarred hands, my tears were replaced by reverential awe, overflowing peace, comforting love, unspeakable joy, and infinite hope... What a reminder that more than 2000 years ago, Jesus won the battle over sin, death, hell and the enemy! And if we are in Christ, we already have the victory! May God bless every person who reads this, so that he (she) too will commit his (her) life to Jesus by faith--which is the only way he (she) will be 100% sure of eternal life in Heaven and a victorious life on earth! Jesus' resurrection is why we greet each other Happy Easter! :)

Below are two very enlightening articles based on God's Word, the Bible: the first one is on the crucifixion (Lenten Season); and the second one is on the resurrection (Easter). These articles are actually two tracts quoted from http://www.gnpcb.org

The Cross
by: Lindsay Terry

picture of the crucifixion from http://www.thepassionofthechrist.com

There have been few methods of execution more torturous or more excruciatingly painful than crucifixion--and the Romans mastered it.

By design, death on a cross was not quick. No vital organs were damaged, so it was a slow, agonizing demise. Soldiers would first whip the victim with a scourge and then force him to carry his own crossbeam to the execution site. Once suspended on a cross, the hours in a strained position took its toll on the individual's body, causing difficulty in breathing--and often suffocation. Some victims died of heart failure. And sometimes a person would hang alive for days, finally succumbing to death as a welcomed relief.

It wasn't until A.D. 337 that crucifixion was banned in Rome by the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great. But by then thousands had been tortured on a cross--including one named Jesus Christ. Interestingly enough, it was out of reverence for this very Jesus that Constantine outlawed this method of execution three centuries later.

When Jesus was crucified He voluntarily took the guilt of your sins and mine to the cross with Him. As death drew near, the Son of God summoned all of His human strength and said, "It is finished!"

What did that mean?--"It is finished!" It meant that there was no more need for bloodshed. Never again would innocent lambs have to be sacrificed to atone for man's sins as had been done in Old Testament times. The blood flow was finished. Our salvation had been paid for in full!

A famous preacher of yesteryear explained it in this fashion: As Jesus' blood--the blood of God--coursed down the crude Roman cross and into the sand, it was as if the sand whispered to a blade of grass, "It is finished." The blade of grass leaned toward a tree and said, "It is finished!" The tree lifted its leafy limbs heavenward and shouted to an eagle, "It is finished!" The soaring eagle rose higher and higher and screamed to the whole earth, "IT IS FINISHED!"

And so it was--finished! My sin and yours were paid for with the precious blood of Christ.

Though there were thousands of men who were crucified, only the crucifixion of the sinless Son of God was worthy to be part of God's eternal plan for man's salvation. The cross should be a constant reminder to each of us of the goodness of God in allowing His only Son to die in that manner and, especially, to die in our place. There is only one reason . . .YOU! He gave His life for YOU--and for me. So each of us is personally responsible for receiving or rejecting God's offer of cleansing from our sins.

The thing that makes Jesus' experience with crucifixion so unique and supreme is that He was taken from the cross, placed in a sealed tomb, and after three days ROSE FROM THE DEAD! He ever lives to be our Savior and Lord. Thus, God's plan for our salvation was made complete.

Although it cost Jesus everything to pay for your sins and mine, He makes it very easy for us to know Him personally and to be saved. We are the sinners; He is the sacrifice. We have the problem; He is the provider. Here is God's plan of salvation for you and me, according to the Bible.

First, admit that you are lost and need a Savior.
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Second, realize that a heavy penalty is on your sin.
"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
"Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)

Third, acknowledge that God made a way for you to be saved.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:8)

Fourth, accept God's plan for your salvation . . .today!
"He [Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)
"But as many as received him [Jesus], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)

Read the following prayer several times and then earnestly pray that prayer, accepting Christ personally, and God will forgive your sins and make you one of His own:
"Dear Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a guilty sinner and that I need to be saved. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay my sin debt. Please forgive my sins, come into my heart, and save my soul. I turn my life over to You. Help me to live for You from now on. Amen."

If you have received Christ as your personal Savior, welcome to the family of God! Please send your name and address to the address below, and additional literature will be sent to you to help you in your new life with Christ.

Good News / Crossway
1300 Crescent Street
Wheaton, IL 60187
or email: info@gnpcb.org

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jesus Is Alive!
Easter--Breaking Through the Barrier

picture of the resurrection from http://www.calderdale-online.org/cards/create.php?f=christian_celebrations/easter_resurrection.jpg&template=

The good news of Easter is that Jesus Christ is alive! His empty tomb, the newfound confidence of His disciples after His resurrection, and His presence in the lives of believers today all testify to the fact that the Savior of mankind has literally risen from the dead and is alive!

But the fact of the resurrection alone--amazing as it is--doesn’t tell the whole story. The significance of the resurrection is that Jesus Christ has broken through the death-barrier for you and me. The most solemn fact of all human consciousness is the certainty of death. And it’s God’s book, the Bible, that tells us that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Such death not only means the end of physical life, but the separation of the soul from God--a barrier between us and God: "Your iniquities [sins] have made a separation between you and your God" (Isaiah 59:2).

The death of Jesus was a very public event, yet it was in no way the result of any sin of His own, for He had no sin. But in a mysterious and wonderful way that only God could arrange, Jesus was dying for you and me. By taking the punishment for all our sins, Jesus "suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). The Lord "laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). By being our substitute, Jesus can thereby save us from the consequences of our sins.

Therefore, when Jesus was raised from the dead, it meant more than restoration of physical life. It meant that He had paid our full punishment, and He had broken through the spiritual death-barrier for sinful people. The payment for our sins had been paid to God, and the resurrection proved that God had accepted the payment. The fact that Jesus is alive today assures an eternal destiny in heaven to those who believe that what Jesus did was done on their behalf.

When you put your faith in the risen Jesus Christ, God will first save you from spiritual death. Though we are all spiritually "dead in trespasses," the Bible says that God will make us "alive together with Christ," (Ephesians 2:5) when we trust in Him for salvation from sin. Those who trust in Jesus Christ are forgiven, accepted by God, and made spiritually alive by Him.

The time is coming when the physical death-barrier will be smashed for those who have died trusting in Jesus Christ. At a future time that only God knows, He will transform the perishable bodies of believers who have died into imperishable bodies like Christ’s resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). They will then be truly ready to enjoy living in God’s heaven!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ can mean spiritual life to you now and life in heaven with God after life on earth. Eternal life can be yours if you believe that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, died for your sins, and that God raised Him from the dead. You have Jesus’ word on it from the Bible: "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why Worry?

Holy Week (Lenten Season and Easter) is approaching. What are your plans for next week? By the way, what is the significance of this season to you? In the meantime, I want to share this (an email I got some time ago) with you, friends...
There are only two things in life to worry about:

Whether you are well
or whether you are sick.

If you are well,

then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are sick,

there are only two things to worry about:

Whether you are going to get well

or whether you are going to die.

If you get well,

then there is nothing to worry about.

But if you die,

there are only two things to worry about:

Whether you are going to go to heaven
or whether you are going to go to hell.

If you'll go to heaven,

then you have nothing to worry about.

But if you'll go to hell,

then you should be worried!

But instead of worrying,
go to the Bible so you'll know
how you can be sure of Heaven!

*Do not cry if the Sun sets at the end of the day,
because the tears will not let you enjoy the beauty of the Stars.