under the magnifying glass

watch me as i journey to another time and place...

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I'm saved by grace. I have nothing to boast except for the fact that I have the greatest Being on my side.

Monday, April 24, 2006

one band...one sound...one God...

April 22, 2006: I guess that I can only describe "Adore. Desire. Testify." in one word, and that is the word: "Wow!" Indeed, God really just works in such mysterious, yet incredible ways...

It was just so amazing to see how the events leading to the concert just unfolded in front of my eyes: how I heard from Jaga that there was a plan to push for a praise and worship concert; how we got the approval of Kuya Bobot and the core group; how the triplets spent two hours selecting a song lineup; how I spent awesome bonding moments with the members of the band; how decisions and sacrifices were made for this concert; how I personally saw my own spiritual growth as well as the spiritual growth of my co-OWLS; how we planned the shirt design; how we carried out the practices...I could go on for much longer, but I'm sure that whoever reads this would get the picture. Things just worked out in the way that God wanted it to work out: in a way where we would not look at our own abilities or skills, but we would just recognize His goodness and give Him all the glory. There's no denying that there were some complications and problems encountered along the way. Micah and Jaga had throat irritations and for some time were unable to sing, arrangements for songs and band had to be changed, publicity of the concert was not taken care of until later on, there was still the habit of coming late for practice, and I was not around for the last practice before the concert. In other words, the preparation for the concert was an ultimate test of patience and humility for all of us as we learned that in order to really give God our best we had to be united as a team, recognizing what we as individuals can and cannot do and how much our own God can do.

That Saturday, I went to church early to see my fellow OWLS who were part of the VBS. Before leaving home, I told my Mom that I was having a bad headache--one that had been around since Thursday night. We knew right away that it was no ordinary headache, but an attack from the Enemy himself. So we prayed to the Lord for my healing and my protection, as well as the concert that was to take place that evening. The headache disappeared when I was in church, and it didn't show up during the time that I was in ATC with Janine, Migs, Erica, Dino, Marc, Anton, Jade, and Arthon. However, around 3:30
that afternoon, while Janine, Anton, Dino, and I were at Marc's house playing Casino, I began to feel heat all around my face as if I were coming down with a fever. I thought at first that it was because of the heat of the day, although it seemed odd because Marc's room was airconditioned. So I just washed my face with cold water and prayed that I would feel better. During our last soundcheck and quick dry-run, I was starting to get disoriented and I always forgot to signal the band. I was starting to feel so uncomfortable already because I felt I was messing everything up. Cholo was there and he was reminding me to signal to the band, and I thought to myself, "I know all about that already! I've done it before! What I don't get is why I feel so messed up I don't seem to be able to do anything right?" It didn't help to know that we were almost an hour late already. When we got to the music room to pray, I asked the members of the band to pray for me again and I told them that I was really feeling bad and that I was already shaking uncontrollably. I felt tired and exhausted, and I knew that it was the Enemy's work again. I had been anticipating an attack from him, but I had not expected it to come on the day itself, and so I really just lifted up my condition to the Lord as well as the whole concert.

We started 7:30...an hour later than what was originally scheduled. As I stepped onto the stage with my fellow OWLS, we felt the Lord take control of the entire event. The power of God just seemed to show up and emanate through each musician and through each vocalist. I cannot describe much more about what happened then, but let me just say that the experience was beyond words. We all know it.

The moment the last chord was played and the last note was sung, I knew for a fact that the Lord won the battle that night. Just like that, my feeling of discomfort and physical weakness completely disappeared. I stopped shaking and I just felt renewed with God's strength--I was back in tip-top condition! As we stepped down that stage, we knew that the victory that night was ours and the Lord's.

After the session, there was a rather long and tiring pictorial session as parents and friends crowded around us with their cameras and acted like the paparazzi. As we huddled up in the stage, confused yet laughing since we didn't know which camera to look at first, I felt the strong bond existing in our group. The OWLS are not limited only to a small number now. The OWLS have now gained a lot more additional members, and I just can't wait to see how much more we can do for Him!

"One band. One sound. One God." This is the motto of the Obedient Workers for the Lord's Service (OWLS). And it is my prayer that we will continue to reflect it in our ministry as the youth praise and worship team. We are one band, playing one sound, and glorifying one God.

My fellow OWLS, both old and new, let me just thank each and every one of you for playing such a significant part in my life for these past few weeks:

To Anton, Dino, and Ralph: Being in your company these past few weeks has just been so fun! I know that it's only been lately that I actually started talking to you guys, but thanks for just allowing me to share those great "popcorn-and-mango juice moments" with all of you! Continue to rock for God!

To Marc: Your shirt design rocks big time, dude!! Thanks for finding the time to do it, and for really just showing your enthusiasm for this team. Oh, and thanks for keeping me alive with your sense of humor! God bless you man!

To Jade: I am always so overwhelmed by the kind of love you show to our Lord and also to the members of the OWLS. Thanks for just being such a blessing to me. Oh, and thank you so much for helping us get the shirts made! Love ya!

To Erica, Pam, Vini, Nesa, Patrick, and Diegs: The people whom I see as my own younger brothers and sisters...It is always inspiring to see young people your age just giving glory and honor to our Lord! May you continue to grow in Him. Love you guys!

To Philip, John, and Niko: It's too bad that you guys weren't able to be part of the concert band, but it doesn't change the fact that you guys are definitely OWLS! I'm really looking forward to serving God with you guys!

To Migs: I am so grateful to you for exerting so much effort in helping the band prepare, not only for the concert, but for every single service that we play and sing in! May the Lord just reward you tenfold for everything that you've done for us!

To Janine: After long last, you finally came into the picture again! I had not seen you in ages! But it's a good thing you showed up, since you got to be part of the awesome experience! I hope to see you more often now that you're back with us.

To Kuya Bobot: The wise old OWL! The moment I shared to you the experience that we had during the praise and worship retreat, I knew that you would be so instrumental in just building and teaching this young group of musicians and servants of God. Thank you so much for your patience, love, and encouragement for each one of us. We are just so grateful to you for every bit of help that you gave and continue to give us. Thank you also because, in addition to being like an older brother to us, you show concern to us as a father as well. Love you so much!

To the members of the core group: Thanks for allowing us this opportunity to serve God through praise and worship. It is also our desire to see the youth of our church on fire for the Lord!

To Micah and Jaga: My fellow triplets! The project that we have prepared and prayed for has finally come to an end. I thank God that he gave us the privilege to be His appointed worship leaders for the concert. When I think about it, there was hardly ever a time when we three didn't have something common to do! No amount of words can express my thankfulness to God for the extremely tight bond that I feel with both of you! During these past few months, I felt the three of us go through each of life's trials and difficulties together, as well as through each fun and memorable moment. The times that we spent together were always just too short, even if we went out these past few weeks so often already. There is no denying that what we have goes beyond a typical friendship or partnership; what we have is a sibling relationship tied by God's grace and love. You two will always have a special place in my life. Love you both!

Guys, this is just the start of the awesome work that God has planned for all of us, not just as a band but also as His individual servants. Always adore Him, desire to know Him, and testify about His goodness in your lives. May the Lord always continue to guide and protect you all in your endeavors. God bless you OWLS!

I end this blog entry by saying one more thank-you, and that is, of course, to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Lord, thank you for choosing me, a mere human, to be a part of Your great work. I am forever in awe of Your love and goodness. I am Your servant! You are my Master! Praise you Lord God! Hallelujah!

Monday, April 10, 2006

the "O" word...

In our last youth praise and worship service, Ptr. Doy talked about decisions and their consequences. This got me to think about the decisions I and my fellow OWLS made this past week and about the consequences these decisions brought. I'm not going to go into specifics, but I know that each one of us has gone through a specific "obedience" trial these past few days.

Obedience. Probably one of the toughest words existing in the human vocabulary: easy to say and pronounce, but very difficult to actually do. How difficult is it to obey? Depends? Yeah, I suppose that would be the most reasonable answer. It's easy to obey when what you are told to do would hardly require you to lift a finger. But what about in situations where you are told to make sacrifices? What about situations where you feel tempted to do something wrong? What about situations when you feel that authority figures just don't seem to get the picture? Totally different situation, huh? Kinda makes me wonder about the obedience of people like Jeremiah, Moses, Paul...even Jesus himself. I mean, come on! They had tough lives (actually, tough would be an understatement), and yet their obedience to follow God and obey His commands doesn't fail to amaze me. How many people are willing to live a life of "hell on earth" just to do what the Authority tells them to do?

For the past few days, I've been thinking about what OWLS stands for: Obedient Workers for the Lord's Service. The first word strikes me hard. Obedient. What did I mean when I came up with the word "obedient" as one of the words for our group? Let me first explain how the word came to be part of it in the first place. There aren't much adjectives that begin with the letter O, and to come up with the appropriate "O" adjective for a team of anointed musicians and singers is not easy. What word to use then? Opposing? No, that would be totally wrong! Outstanding? Mm...not quite. Okay? Heck, who uses "okay" for a group name? Then it hit me...obedient. Perfect. After all, being an OWL means being a servant of God. How can one be a servant of God when one cannot be obedient to God and follow His directions?

So what does it mean to obey God? It's not as simple as saying, "Doing what He wants us to do." Truth be told, obeying God is tougher than obeying our own parents (or any other authority figure, for that matter). Why? Because obeying our parents is just one act of obedience to God. It says in Ephesians 6:1: "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." In another verse in the Bible, it says to "obey them that rule over you." So, if it's hard to obey human authorities, then obviously obeying God would be so much more difficult, wouldn't it? Because if we disobey those whom God placed to be our authorities, we are, in effect also disobeying Him. This is why I said obedience is just so hard to do during certain situations. We have that desire to obey God and to do what He wants us to do, but then, circumstances just arise that make us want to go for the easier way out.

Let me now connect it to what I said earlier about decisions and consequences. To obey or disobey are decisions we make in life. And, as Pastor Doy said, every decision has its own consequences. And we have to admit, more often than not, the consequences of our decisions do not always appeal to us. And I'm not talking only about the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes, the consequences of obedience may not always be to our liking. But then, does it really have to be all about us? I realize that it's not about us; it's about God. It's about Him being glorified in our own lives. It's about Him reigning in our own lives.

After looking at the obedience perspective of servanthood, I figure being a servant of God is so much tougher than what I first perceived it to be. I remember the story of Saul in I Samuel 15, when he was rebuked for disobeying God by sparing the king of the Amalekites and by sparing the best of the livestock for a sacrifice to God. The words Samuel said, "To obey is better than to sacrifice." seems to just speak so strongly to me. I can't help but think, "Yes, sacrifice is good and it is pleasing to God. But then, I think what matters to God more is an obedient heart." When I think about it in terms of my ministry in the praise and worship team, I think to myself, "Yes, to offer praises and worship to God is a good thing. But, have I been obeying Him and actually living according to how He wants me to live?" It's actually food for thought...

I think it's a good thing that the first word in the name OWLS really is the word "obedient." It serves as a reminder to me, and to all of us I think, that before being workers in the Lord's service, we have to be obedient to Him.


Only a few more days to go before April 22! The excitement is reaching fever pitch, and we still have two more sets to practice. Also, a week from now, I'll be going to Antipolo to attend Ted's camp to be a vocalist. I have a busy April to look forward to. Thank God that He's opening more doors for me, not only to develop my talent in singing, but more importantly, to serve and glorify Him!