Train of Thanks 19-20

Because we’ll never run out of things to be grateful for.

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March is almost over, and holy week is here! While some are getting pumped up for their holy week escapades, we in the church are busy preppin’ up for our “Journey to the Cross” on March 23-25, 5pm-10pm at the Marikina Freedom Park. “Journey”, is an interactive walkthrough to relive the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is open to all and is free of charge!

Journey

Going back to the essence of this blog series, let me recall all my thanksgivings for the past few weeks:

1. I am grateful for the physical strength and wisdom the Lord has given me as I speak for the Servant’s Orientation for the “Journey”. I explained in detail the reasons and lessons behind all the stations and together with the volunteers, we were reminded of the actual journey Jesus went through to save us. The story of His death and resurrection is not just something we should be familiar with – it is something we embrace and live in faith. It shapes us from the inside and is manifested in our actions. Jesus died on the cross and lived again for our sins – this is the basis of our allegiance to Him.

2. Last Sunday was packed with series of opportunities to teach and challenge behind the pulpit. I was requested to teach for the 3rd module of our Membership 101 class in the morning, tasked to challenge the congregation for tithes and offering for the 2nd service and scheduled to speak for the Salt and Light service in the afternoon. It was a super-packed day! Thank God for sustaining me with strength!

3. I praise the Lord for the lives of the Youth and Teens He led me to minister to. It is a very daunting task, I may say but very rewarding. To be honest I am not a cheerful, sociable kind of person unlike other youth leaders I know that’s why I am grateful for the people who support me in this ministry. Special mention to the most cheerful person I know, Demdem! 🙂

If I may add, I enjoyed listening to the point of views and arguments of the participants of our debate about our lesson on image and character. It’s overwhelming to know that once most of them were just my Grade 3 Sunday school students and now they are continuously maturing in the Lord.

4. If there is a highlight for my thanksgiving for these past weeks, it is my entry to Ptr. Ronald Molmisa’s 2nd batch of Young Ezra Project trainees. Supposedly for ages 18-25 aspiring writers, I still took my chance for this once in a lifetime opportunity to be mentored for writing – one thing that I really love doing. In short, I made it to his final list, though I am already 27 years old! All by God’s grace! All the more I am so excited for God’s purposes in my life.

5. As part of Ptr. Ronald’s mentoring program, he required us to attend Christian Writers’ Fellowship held at OMF, Mandaluyong. It is overwhelming to be in a room packed with Christian writers (and literally hundreds of books around!), hearing their testimonies on how being a part of a writing club helped them in their craft. The highlight of the event was Dr. Melba Maggay’s talk on the Role of Christian Writers in a Fast Changing World. Through her talk I appreciated my identity as a Filipino, and how we have become somehow disconnected with our national identity. According to Dr. Maggay, that there is something wrong when we cannot speak to our own people. As writers we have to enter the universe of discourse of the people. Her talk was an “ouch” moment, because as a writers write to express themselves. However Christian writers ought to communicate God’s timeless message of truth and grace, thus the need to connect to their readers and enter their universe of discourse.

Holy Week is up! Don’t forget to remember what the Lord has done for you, not just for this season but for all the days to come.

Train of Thanks 12-13

Because we’ll never run out of things to be grateful for.

I am making a back-to-back version of my Monday thanksgivings because of, *umm, confession* complacency. But let me redeem myself with some of the awesome things that happened to me for the past two weeks. For God is good and greatly to be praised!

  1. I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to attend the National Leaders Strategic Conference and Retreat (NLSCR) of Foursquare Philippines for the second time, recently held at Davao City Foursquare Gospel Church. Hearing from the national leadership and working with the district leaders to plan and envision the future of the denomination to be a missional movement for the cause of Christ is an overwhelming experience. I thank God for letting me witness how driven the pastors are in accomplishing the Great Commission.
  2. I was able to meet the Christian Education directors and representatives of the 27 districts of Foursquare churches in the Philippines. Incidentally I also represented my district for the National Foursquare Youth Presidents meeting. Issues were discussed, questions were raised and not a few pictures and groupies were taken. In the end, plans we’re ruled out and some matters were settled. Working with the Christian Educators and Youth Leaders from different regions is a both encouraging and refreshing.IMG_1141
  3. Would you believe that this is the first time I boarded a plane? Now I am scrapping it off my bucket list. 🙂
  4. Barry Buzza, former national leader of the Foursquare Church in Canada served as the NLSCR plenary speaker with his lessons on serendipities on the life of David. I really appreciate the extent of his preparation, carefully examining the life of David and drawing out 70 conclusions that relates to the pastorate. I thank the Lord for His revelations through Dr. Buzza’s series of preaching.
  5. I was dared and I survived durian shake! Haha! Also, the MMND delegates for NLSCR, of which I am a part of, had the chance to bond as we roam around Davao and munched on the sumptuous meals (a lot of eat-all-you-can places, mind you! I was able to fill myself with 3 different sessions of buffet breakfast and lunch. One of the best part of the (food) trip was the grilled tuna and kilawin! Awesome!
  6. My guest blogging invitation did materialize! I thank God for the wisdom that I was able to share my biblical insights on how to move on from your past mistakes and how to keep on moving forward. I thank Ms. Charmaine of Organized Lunacy for hosting my blog post. Visit my guest blog here: (link)
  7. When I came back to Manila, I catched up with some of my best buddies and we ended up in Bieter Sizzling Place at B.G. Molina St. Parang, Marikina City. The place is oozing with colors and fun illustrations, which complements the friendliness of the staff and the creativity of their menu. It’s as if I am warped inside a video game. We’ve decided to visit the place again some other time.
  8. I thank the Lord that my online purchase, a stretchable belt bag for my biking sessions, reached me this time. Unlike my previous purchase, I don’t know where in the world it landed. I was also able to buy an arm sleeves and gloves, which I first used for my Mt. Talamitam escapade!
  9. I feel overwhelmed and encouraged every time I sit in the Sunday school class of the teenagers. I feel like I am going back in time when I was just like them, listening to the testimonies of my classmates and sharing my own. I see the future in the young generation today. Thus my conclusion, whatever way we shape the youth of today will be the kind of mold the future will have. Kudos to all the educators who willingly share their lives to the young generation.
  10. We were able to conquer the summit of Mt. Talamitam! I don’t want to spoil the moment because this has to go on a separate post. But praise the Lord for the beauty of His creation!

There you have it, my two-week thanksgiving roundup. What are the things that you are thankful for the last week?

Train of Thanks 11

Because we’ll never run out of things to be grateful for.

I am posting this Train of Thanks post not on a Monday because I was very busy yesterday. But better late than never right? The good thing is even when we sometimes get behind our schedule and frustrate our plans, God is never late in accomplishing His plans in our life. That alone is a great blessing we can always praise Him for.

Let’s start the round up!

  1. I am thankful for the kindness of my client for allowing me to take a leave for a week and for her payment for my VA services – just in time for my Davao errands! I am thankful that my PayPal account does not remain stagnant. 😀
  2. I was forced to rest from my daily work due to *excuse me* LBM. I am thankful for the healing, and also thankful for the rest.
  3. This week has the first payday weekday of the year! Yay!
  4. I was given a chance to speak about the topic “Feed My Sheep”, in reference to Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter on John 21. During and after my message preparation, my appreciation of Jesus being the Good Shepherd to His pasture soared higher. I even posted a status about it. Researching on the behaviour of the sheep and relating it to myself being a wayward sheep at times, I could not help myself but thank God for tending me in spite of all my waywardness. In every sermon preparation, the speaker is the first recipient of every rebuke, every instruction and every blessing God’s word brings.Quote 3
  5. I could not thank God enough for His timely provisions. I thank God for people He uses to bless me materially so I have some money to spare for the busy week to come (has now come as I am writing this).

What are your thanksgivings for the week?

He Can Catch You When You Fall

The question is, are you willing to trust Him just like what Miriam did?

The life of Ms. Miriam Quiambao – Roberto, Ms. Universe 1st Runner Up 1999, is a story most of us can find encouragement. She has her share of fame and fortune, as well as of failures, and this is the reason why most of us can actually relate to her. We may not be as popular nor rich like her, particularly when she was still an active celebrity, but we can always identify with her tears and disappointments in life.

He Can Catch You When You FallMs. Quiambao – Roberto was the guest speaker for our 47th church anniversary held at the Ballroom Hall, Riverbanks Convention Center on November 29. She was accompanied by her husband, Mr. Ardy Roberto – the man behind the books “Ang Buhay na Hindi Bitin”, “Ang Pera na Hindi Bitin”, and “Real Men are P.O.G.I.”. I kinda feel elated sitting just a few seats from them, but more than the couple’s presence, what moved me more is the story behind Ms. Miriam Quiambao’s conversion.

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Miriam Quiambao-Roberto speaking for our 47th Church Anniversary

Her testimony has already been broadcasted in 700 Club Asia of GMA News TV 11.

Here are some of my ruminations on her testimony

  1. God is our Great Orchestrator

Miriam recalls that since childhood, she longs to be a beauty queen someday but the desire died down awhile as she prepares to be a Licensed Physical Therapist. However, God has orchestrated things for her. God acknowledged her childhood dream and brought her in the ranks of the most beautiful women in the world.

You wanted to turn to the right but you took the opposite direction. Perhaps this isn’t “misdirection” – it is God’s predetermined direction for you.

Like us, we have different longings inside. Have you ever experienced a seemingly “misdirection” in your life? You wanted to be a successful engineer but circumstances led you to a different field, say you ended up being an entrepreneur or an accountant instead. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a distinguished celebrity or fashion model but you landed in a very rewarding teaching career – away from the glitz and glam of show business. You wanted to turn to the right but you took the opposite direction. Perhaps this isn’t “misdirection” – it is God’s predetermined direction for you.

Miriam’s Ms. Universe stint is a story of fulfilled childhood dream, but for most of us, we’ve never realized our childhood desire [yet]. But wherever you are and whatever you might be doing in life right now is exactly where God wants you to be and wants you to do. In His perspective, there is never an accident nor an out-of-place-scenario. He is the Great Orchestrator and all things are perfect in His plans.

  1. God is our Great Problem Solver

She thought she had it all going well on her life. With her popularity and riches, she felt secure. She even had high hopes on her first marriage on 2004 with an Italian businessman. But two years later, they ended up in divorce, which led to her depression. As if this isn’t enough, she lost much of her showbiz projects and was even scammed of her investments by people she once trusted. It was a season of falling, of disappointments.

More than the usual problems we experience from day to day, our greatest problem is our sins and separation from God. But thanks be to Jesus, we now have a solution.

They say that when it rains, it pours. For Miriam, all her treasured possessions – career, investments, connections, relationships – seemed to be smashed into pieces. Problems – no matter how simple or complicated they may seem, makes us dependent to others for help. In response to our dire need of help, God sends us people who will help lift us up from the miry clay we’re drenched into. In Miriam’s case, it was Mr. Anthony Pangilinan. She was led to Jesus and soon enough, the once depressed, miserable Miriam Quiambao has held her hopes in the loving-kindness and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course not in an instant, but her problems met solutions in the Lord, and the marred pieces of her life were replaced with brand new ones.

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and acknowledging Him to be the only One who can save us from the wretchedness of our lives is the eternal solution to all our problems. More than the usual problems we experience from day to day, our greatest problem is our sins and separation from God. But thanks be to Jesus, we now have a solution. He is not just a problem solver – He is the solution Himself.

  1. He is the Great Provider

After all the bitter incidences in Miriam’s life, she found hope in Jesus. Now she is ready to embrace what the Lord is willing to offer her – immeasurable joy of having Christ in her heart. Eventually she regained what was taken away from her: occasional showbiz projects and other sources of income, restored relationships with people dear to her, was relieved of her depression and a partner in life in the person of Mr. Ardy Roberto. On top of these, she is actively involved in the ministry, inspiring people with her testimony. She can also be seen in CBN Asia as one of the hosts. God has indeed redeemed the Beauty Queen and made her God’s Princess.

God is our great provider. No matter what was lost to us, He can and He is willing to give it back, even hundredfold. What’s asked of us is complete surrender to His plans and obedience to His promptings. Miriam wasn’t given favor because she is beautiful or influential. She was restored because she is just like us, in need of grace and mercy, hopeless on our own. God doesn’t look down on people and look at their beauty or physical appearance. God looks at the heart. And He is delighted to reveal Himself to those whose hearts are yielded to Him.

What are your pressing needs today? God is more than willing to provide – and His provision goes beyond material things! Be it peace of mind, restored relationships, secured future or even food on the plate, He can be trusted. The question is, are you willing to trust Him just like what Miriam did? Surrender it all to Jesus, and you will never regret it the rest of your life.


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Buti pa si mama (and friends) nakapagpa-picture kay Ms. Miriam 🙂

I was led to this blog (link here) about Ms. Miriam and Mr. Ardy’s wedding. Indeed weddings are events where you can capture joy at its finest. Just look at the pictures! Hearing Miriam’s testimony firsthand, I love how God orchestrated everything for her life, solved all her problems and provided what her heart yearns for. What a remarkable story. Indeed He can catch you when you fall!

If you want to purchase a copy of Miriam’s book “He Can Catch You When You Fall”, you may visit your nearest bookstores or you may order it online through Philippine Christian Book Stores or CSM Publishing.

20 Facts About Me

The most important fact that I want to share is my faith. I am a Christian, and proud to be one.

I seldom take an inventory of my skills ans abilities, much more assess my personality. As far as I can remember, the last time I checked upon my “personality” and “intelligence” was way back February 2008.

Allow me to share 20 things I think people don’t know about me yet. Let’s get started!

1. My name’s Martin, not because of any patron saint or any valiant warrior but simply because I was born on a Tuesday – Martes. Creativity at its best.

2. I should have been named Ezekiel should my parents won over the name war with my lola. Oh, I have posted a separate blog just about this topic 🙂

3. There was a time in my life, during my elementary years, na hindi ako nasundo ng parents ko sa school until midnight! Good thing there was a group of teenage girls who, after their CAT class, took care of me for a couple of hours hanggang sa kailangan na talaga akong iwanan sa baranggay dahil uuwi na rin sila. No, I wasn’t abused of any sort, pero parang pang anime na rin ang eksena. Haha!

4. During elementary years as well, I use to buy La-La chocolates and sell them tingi-tingi sa mga classmates kong babae. Hanggang ngayon iniisip ko pa rin kung magaling nga ba ako magbenta o sadya lang silang utu-uto.

5. My first puppy love brought me places – literally. Para akong batang stalker. Pumupunta ako sa likod bahay ng crush ko, naghihintay ng pagdungaw sa bintana habang kumakanta ako ng mga Jeremiah songs.

6. During one of the lunch breaks, I brought my lunch and we’ve decided to eat together – me, my crush and two other friends. Sa sobrang tawanan, habang kumakain, di ko napigilan yung sarili ko na ibuga sa crush ko yung kanin. Haha! #awkward. Parang gusto kong lumubog sa lupa.

7. I vied for honors, and my rival is, again my crush. Kaya nung nalaman ko na hindi ako ang magiging valedictorian, di ko alam kung matutuwa ba ako o hindi. Haha!

8. My favorite childhood memory ay ang sumayaw ng “Mag-excercise Tayo Tuwing Umaga” at ng “LA Walk” araw-araw. Pinakamasayang bahagi ng buhay elementary.

9. Yung gagala ka sa neighborhood with your toga on  kasama ng buong tropa, wearing your ribbons, sampaguita garlands and medal. Squad goals ba kamo? I call that kahihiyan. Hahaha!

10. Drama naman. Prior to highschool, dahil kapos sa pera, kinailangan kong maghugas ng bote para pagdagdag sa enrolment fees. Not just that, nagtinda din ako ng pandesal sa umaga at hot monay sa hapon na wala naman halos bumibili kundi mga kamag-anak rin.

11. During highschool days, I think I have mastered the art of stalking. I always have a ready notebook to jot down the exact time and place I see my crush as well as thr exact conversation that we had, if there’s any. Ang creepy ko pala nun.

12. I have developed my passion to read books during these days. The first book I have enjoyed is the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and later on its sequels. I also had a taste of the classics – Jules Verne’s and Charles Dickens’, of which Tale of Two Cities (not Cuties) is my favorite.

13. During this season, I have also discovered my talent in writing poems and short stories. I was even tagged the “class poet” by my English teacher, which I find offensive then. Siguro dahil sa pagkakasabi niya. Haha! I have written my own version of ‘Click’ and ‘G-Mik’ story and my own ‘dragon-prince-princess’ genre. Ang kaso di ko na alam kung nasaan napunta.

14. I have written a short story titled “A Piece of String”, a requirement for my English class but I intended for my crush to read. However, upon reading it, she just commented, ‘di ko type’. Para na rin akong nabasted. Haha!

15. Sa sobrang kaadikan ko sa computer games, during examination week, while it is prohibited, nagpunta pa rin kami sa computer shop, and poof! May dumating na mga pulis at dinala kami sa baranggay. Kinailangan ko pang manghiram ng nanay sa classmate ko para lang makalabas ng baranggay. Kinabukasan sa flag ceremony, after parangalan ng principal ang mga nagbigay karangalan sa school, kami din ay pinarangalan, “na huwag na huwag kaming tutularan”.

16. It was highschool when I began to attend church regularly. But before that, I have met a friend from the Jehovah’s Witnesses who diligently follows up on me and answers all my questions on life and faith. But God has a better plan.

17. I really wanted to be an Electrical Engineer. But things went insane and I ended up taking Financial and Management Accounting. All I can remember is my shallow reasoning na – “ang ganda kasing pakinggan”.

18. During college, I joined a rally once in my life! Sa Morayta hanggang sa Mendiola sana kundi lang kami naharang ng mga bumbero. Nakakatakot din pala, lalo na kung maiisip mo na baka mapanood ka ng mga magulang mo on national television! Todo iwas kaya ako sa camera ng GMA nun.

19. Ok seryoso na. My greatest desire is to be an influential writer in the field of Christian Literature. In fact I already have a concept for my book but until now I am still trying to make both ends meet to finish it.

20. The most important fact that I want to share is my faith. I am a Christian, and proud to be one. While my previous experiences contradict the faith I have just expressed, I know and I believe that I am not defined by who I am before, because I am now a new creation, redeemed for greater cause.

02/30 of Blogging Challenge

What’s in a name?

Every name has its own story. Mine’s a story of, I don’t know what you call that – a whimsical act or a deliberate decision?

When I was a kid I have learned the story behind my name. According to my mother, it was my lola (not my biological lola though) who should be held responsible for my name. Just to spare you some precious time guessing what my name is, I’d like to introduce myself – my name’s Martin.

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Mas maiintindihan ko sana kung may malalim na pinaghugutan ang naging pangalan ko – pwede namang kinuha kay Martin Luther King, o kay San Martin de Porres. Ang kaso, kaya ganito ang pangalan ko ay dahil lang sa ipinanganak ako ng Martes. Ayun, ako ngayon si Martin. There was even a joke that I was born in the middle of the night, that’s why I have this not-so-fair complexion.

I could have been named Exequiel should my mother insisted her authority over my lola. However, being the obedient daughter she is, she succumbed to my lola’s whims.

I am Martin Valenzuela, simply because I was born on a Tuesday, Martes.

As a child, I never really liked my name. Given the chance I’d rather be called Mark or John, or any other name, no matter how common, I’d still choose it over my name. To all Martins out there, please don’t get offended. Walang mali sa pangalan natin, kung di lang madalas akong tuksuhin na Tintin Patpatin, o di kaya ay Martiniko. My name just makes it obvious that I grew up thin and sickly. Lampayatot.

In school o kahit sa bahay, kapag tinawag na ako sa buong pangalan ko I easily get uneasy. Lalo na kapag sinamahan na ng apelyido – Mr. MARTIN VALENZUELA let’s talk after class, ok? O kaya, Mr. MARTIN VALENZUELA, please proceed to the principal’s office immediately. Pero eto pa ang matindi – ANAK KA TALAGA NG MAGALING MONG TATAY, MARTIN VALENZUELA! Lalo na kapag may kasama nang gigil. Isa lang ang ibig sabihin niyan!

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Maybe this is one function of our formal names – to get our attention. May gigil o wala, kapag tinawag ka sa buong pangalan mo, you immediately give your full attention to the one who calls you by name.

Every name has its own story. Mine’s a story of, I don’t know what you call that – a whimsical act or a deliberate decision?

Before the disciples of Jesus were called into the ministry, they were just common people. No one take notice of them, except their relatives and friends. They are just like most of us, until they were called in their formal names by no other than Jesus Himself.

Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was called in his formal name, Simon, not just once but many times. And whenever Jesus calls him in such manner, usually they were big moments.

One of these moments was when Jesus was asking His disciples about who do people think He is. Some of his disciples answered, “some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

But when Jesus asked them their personal thoughts about Him, it was Peter who claimed “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

Jesus called Peter in his full, formal name! It was a very personal discourse between them. It’s as if Jesus is telling Peter, or Simon in this context, that He is a personal God.

Jesus’ reply is priceless – “Blessed are you, SIMON, BAR-JONAH for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 16:17

Jesus called Peter in his full, formal name! It was a very personal discourse between them. It’s as if Jesus is telling Peter, or Simon in this context, that He is a personal God. He knows everything about Simon – his family (BAR-JONAH means Son of Jonah), his worries and joys, his sacrifices and desires. He knows Simon very well, and their relationship is not just like a boss-employee, but more of friends. Moreover, he calls Simon as BLESSED! I’m sure that to Simon, who was once a fisherman, to be called by Jesus in his formal name is a defining moment, equipping him to become a full-pledged fisher-of-men.

It doesn’t matter what story your name has. It can be a story of significance or just plain existence in your own realm. Either you have the name that is highly regarded by people or just like me when I was still a kid, you’d rather change your name to something else. But whatever your name is, God has something to tell you:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name and you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

You are being called by God, in your very formal name to catch your attention. Don’t worry, He knows everything about you and He doesn’t mind whether you messed up big time in the past. Just yield to Him. Take heed to His call. Just like Peter, he calls you to a relationship with Him and to turn the world upside down for Him.

As a grown-up man, no longer will I choose any other name for myself, because in this name I have been called by my God. Natuto rin akong makuntento at magpasalamat.

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Before I met Jesus, I am an insecure Martin, who doesn’t like his very own name. But when I accepted Him as Christ, Lord and Savior, I have my own version of Jesus telling me – “Blessed are you, MARTIN VALENZUELA.”