Victas to SD: Baby Steps

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Friends, the process has begun. Last Sunday, November 8, Carlo filed the petition so we could apply for an immigrant visa for me. It will be a long process but we are praying, trusting, and making sure we are on top of things. As the application continues, we will be posting some updates until our departure date.

Carlo misses Chula Vista and I'm excited to go there by next year! Would you consider praying with us? :)

My Problem with These Three Words

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I get the sense that the words "You are enough" is, well, not enough. And perhaps this really is just about semantics.

I understand what this is meant to convey. I am aware that this is to remind people how loved and valued they are, and that there is no need to prove themselves or be someone else because who they are is, in a sense, enough.

But I feel like we are shortchanging our sisters (and brothers for that matter) when we remind them that they are enough without saying WHY they are enough. Or more specifically, WHO it is that makes them enough.

Because I believe in Christ, I believe in this Grand Story, this glorious euangelio (good news) that Jesus Christ came down to live, die, and live again so that we may be made right with God.

So that we are redeemed and no longer slaves to our sins.
So that we may be cleansed,
declared righteous,
forgiven.
So that we may inherit life eternal and become citizens of God's kingdom 
where love, peace, and righteousness dwell.
So that we may be COMPLETE

On the other side of "being enough" is also "not being enough" to save ourselves or having the ability to earn God's favor.

He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. In God's sight, because of Jesus, we are enough. And that is all I'm concerned about, really. If we are believers and we forget to give praise to whom praise is due, the very source of our identity and hence, our "enough-ness," then something is amiss.

I'm of the opinion that the full impact of that three-word statement is lacking if we don't also acknowledge that there is someone who eternally, absolutely, and perfectly loves us during our darkest and lowest moments.

Having said all of that, I want to tell you that you *are* loved. That you *are* valued. That you were created uniquely for a divine purpose by God whose image you bear.

You are enough because our God is more than enough.

Hello, HelloMornings!

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I've wanted to become a morning person for the longest time but so far, my attempts have not yielded long term results. 

SLEEPING/WAKING PATTERN DILEMMA

Being a night owl was not an issue until I graduated from college and started working. Unlike my university days, evening to early morning study binges were easy. But when I started my job, midnight was the latest I could stay up to read or do something where my mind has to be fully engaged. Even as I started sleeping earlier, I still oversleep.  Our office was within walking distance from where I lived so there was no reason for me to get up ridiculously early; there was no traffic to prepare for and breakfast was quick and easy. My body clock got whacked during college and it got even more confused during employment. This affected how I started my day, when and where I did my quiet times, and how I managed my time in general. I was getting by but my walk with the Lord was not flourishing.

I quit that job after two years to get married and go back to school. I have been married and in seminary for a little over six months now. Because of yet another life change, my schedules now change every three months depending on my classes. I often find myself either over- or underestimating my time budget. From college, to employment, to newlywed life in seminary, I learned that one big obstacle was my lack of structure for myself, especially one that I can adapt whenever life seasons change. My lack of prayer and dependence on God to help me cultivate healthy habits was also another major obstacle.

I figured that the answer was to become a morning person. However, I'd like to clarify a few things. First, it doesn't mean that I consider early risers who read Scripture, pray to God, and accomplish a bajillion stuff by sunrise more blessed than the night owls who do these things. I'm sure you'll agree that God does not prefer one time of the day over the other. Becoming a morning person in and of itself won't solve anything. Second, I don't think that becoming a morning person is the best way but I do believe there is wisdom in starting the day early to seek God. Third, "early" is relative. My personal goal is to wake up at 6:30 instead of 8 (even on Saturdays I wake up at 8 but I think 6:30-7:30 a.m. is a good margin of time for myself).

A HAPPY ACCIDENT
I was just so dissatisfied with my lack of structure and the way the I start my day. I don't allow myself that time and space to be still, to think, to just be with God, to treat the day as a gift and not another empty 24 hours to fill with the usual activities. At night, I would be too tired to even fill myself up with things I enjoy doing. For these reasons, I remain determined to change my sleeping and waking habits. But I fight to keep in mind that any transformation I desire cannot be achieved apart from God, as John 15 teaches us.

Three days ago, I was on Google looking for tips on how to become a morning person. Happily, I stumbled upon the Hello Mornings website. And friends, I  just knew this is what I needed.



Hello Mornings focuses on three core things: God, Plan, and Move. I'll let their site blurb explain what it's all about:

Our motto is “God.Plan.Move.” and we aim to empower women to spend time with God, plan their day and make healthy choices first thing in the morning. [...] In just a few minutes each morning, we can attend to the most important aspects of our lives – our relationship with God, planning, and improving our health. The goal isn’t overnight transformation, but slow and steady progress toward life long habits that radically change the direction of our lives and allow us to thrive in whatever role God has given us. (from the site's About page)
This is it. Something structured to get me started on the road to good morning habits. On top of the worksheets for the 6-week session, participants can join an accountability group for support and encouragement. I decided to join a group with 14 other ladies to get added motivation.

The new session starts tomorrow and I'm thoroughly excited about it. At the end (or beginning?) of the day, it's not simply about a physical change that I'm after. I realize that it's more than adjusting my wake up time from 8 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. so I can cram my day with work to do. Rather, it's about taking the necessary steps to grow in my relationship with God and realizing that all of the tasks that follow are actually means for me to know Him better. Without his empowering, I can't even go through the next six weeks fruitfully.

This is not about legalism but about discipline. By the same token, it isn't the morning activities themselves that will earn my intimacy with God. But in cultivating healthy habits, these morning disciplines (quiet time, exercise, planning), they become means of grace. The Hello Mornings challenge for me is a means to an end. Ultimately, the end goal is to seek God first (literally), his kingdom and his righteousness.

Tomorrow I say "hello!" for the first time to a commitment, one that I'm laying down at God's feet. May he use the next six weeks to show me and teach me things that I've been missing out on from lack of discipline.

See you in the morning!

(Question: Are you a lark or an owl? Do you have any morning rituals?)


An Unexpected Favorite

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Photo from A Holy Experience
Can I confess something?

I have a bit of an aversion towards much of what is labeled "Christian Women's Literature" in book stores. I understand that this makes me sound like a snob. But most of the titles I see here in my context target just the emotions, as if being a godly woman is all about emotional management. The devotionals offer piecemeal growth and do not encourage deep study of the Word. While I'm all for the cultivation of healthy emotions, I lament the lack of meat in the Women's Section of my local Christian book store.

When I first heard of One Thousand Gifts a couple of years ago, I had no idea who Ann Voskamp was and what the book was all about. The book's subtitle is "a dare to live fully right where you are" and to be honest, I thought the content would be cheesy. Still, I placed the book in my imaginary to-look-into pile. I had become so cynical and disillusioned by some Christian female writers and teachers that I thought, "Ah, here's another popular book that does not make much of Jesus or the gospel, and it's all about you, you, you."

Boy, was I wrong. This is what happens when I judge a book even before finding out what it's all about.

I finally decided to pick up One Thousand Gifts when I had some spare time a few weeks ago. Since going into grad school, I haven't had much time to read for leisure. For some reason, when I cleared my schedule to allow for some fun reading, I chose One Thousand Gifts.

The result? Ann's words impacted me more than I expected it to.

She wrestled with much of what I'm wrestling with at the time I read her book. It was filled not only with vignettes of her life experiences but also of Scripture. She asked hard questions, confessed from the depths of her heart, and encouraged with such colorful poetic prose. I had a knot in my heart that loosened up because I read her words at the perfect moment. I could have sworn that God used that book to teach me a lesson or two. There is so much depth and beauty in Ann's words that it immediately became one of my favorite books after I finished reading.

I started making my own gratitude list or rather, I finally had more consistency now than in my previous attempts to make one. One Thousand Gifts is in that list. Gratitude, the eucharisteo way of life, takes discipline. But through Scripture and life experiences, Ann has demonstrated to me that it is possible and it is worth it.

 There are also many books out there that claim to be biblical but are in fact self-help/pop psychology guides in disguise; One Thousand Gifts is not one of them. It is not an academic book, which was a really good thing when I read it. Being in seminary, some days I just want to pause reading textbooks and dive into something that is not scholarly but still meaty. Ann's book is not a book of propositions but her theology is alive and kicking. It made me uncomfortable but it also comforted me at the same time. Reading the book just left me so...grateful.

I was losing a battle for joy, gratitude and humility in my life. One Thousand Gifts reminded me it's not too late.


“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.” 

― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are


Question: Have you had any unexpected moments with books? How did that author impact you?

ST. PAUL, 'INSIDE OUT,' AND THE FORGOTTEN VALUE OF SADNESS

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While Inside Out premiered in the U.S. in June, the Philippines had to wait til this week in August to catch the film on the big screen. Oh well—for this moviegoer [Carlo], it was worth the wait.

"Sadness is normal. Sadness is important. 
Sadness is not the opposite of Joy, she's her partner." 
—Matt Zoller Seitz, "In praise of Sadness: the healing insight of Inside Out"

“Sorrow is better than laughter, 
because sober reflection is good for the heart.” 
—Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:3‬, ‭NET‬‬

*     *     *

In a world wracked by tragedy and grief, we have taken Happiness and crowned her queen. And the proof—if you will excuse the pun—can be found inside and out.

Today, popular ads on TV hinge on their appeal to our personal happiness. Our life goals are often propelled by self-satisfaction. And even modern theology has frequently pegged human comfort and pleasure as the predominating concerns of the kingdom of God—a quick glance at the titles of many bestselling Christian books the past few years should be enough to confirm this. Now there's nothing wrong with wanting to be happy; we all do, don't we? But our obsession with personal satisfaction both in and outside of the church makes me wonder: with all our good intentions, have we oversimplified what life and health are really all about?

Well, just leave it to Pixar yet again to uncover virtues both fading and long-forgotten.

THE HIP HOP OF HEAVEN ("UNEXPECTED WORSHIP" PT. 2)

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The second installment of the "Five Artists who Inspire Unexpected Worship" series brings things out of the rock genre and into the world of hip hop. But Jay-Z and Kanye this is not. Instead think: the orchestra in the ghetto at the end of the world.

One of my [Carlo's] secret music fixations over the past few years? Collecting well-crafted instrumental hip hop. Don't get me wrong, I do love rappers who can spit fire and turn a phrase. But there's something about the flexibility of instrumental tunes that has often helped me write, reflect, work, relax, and yes—get psyched up to kill the day's task list whatever that might be.

I particularly dig hip hop instrumentalists who blend acoustic and electronic elements in seamless fashion, as in the music of Emancipator, most anything from Cult Classic Records, and our featured artist below—a criminally underrated duo that has frequently left both Pat and myself in awe of more than just their music.

FIVE ARTISTS WHO INSPIRE UNEXPECTED WORSHIP: PAPER ROUTE (PT. 1)

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Carlo kicks off a new five-part series with a Nashville, TN band that knows how to write about loss and grief as well as love and hope.


"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD."
—Psalm 150:6

*     *     *

Moments of worshipful transcendence are everywhere—even within some popular music.

I wonder how many Christians have attended Paramore shows and wanted to lift their hands in surrender during the climactic bridge of “My Heart”: “This heart / It beats / Beats for only you." (Or is it "You"?) On the folk rock side of things, there are great articles online that discuss the raw spirituality of Mumford & Sons lyrics. And then there are the interviews with Christian singer-songwriter Eric Owyoung (Future of Forestry, Something Like Silas). Since I started following Owyoung's musical exploits back in 2004, he has never been shy in speaking of how his Sigur Rós concert experiences constitute some of the most worshipful experiences he has ever had—and he is not aloneAnd it is on this last note that I can certainly relate.

Now it's not that I’ve had similar “God encounters” at Sigur Rós shows. (One of my biggest life regrets up to this point: missing all the shows they’ve played in Southern California.) It’s just that both Pat and I, like Owyoung, have frequently found ourselves drawn into worship by artists who don’t even label their music as “worship.” Is this sacrilegious or misguided? Let us briefly explore further.

GODS AT WAR, THE GREAT COMMANDMENT, AND CULTURAL IDOLATRY

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jeroboam Offering Sacrifice for the Idol (1752) - oil on canvas

You may have read one of the more popular articles here at Victapolis entitled “Culture Matters.” Well, yes it does. I make no apologies for that whatsoever. ;) But listen carefully when I say that culture isn’t the only thing that matters in life and ministry—nor is it the most important thing. In fact, when we start saying that “culture is king,” we then move beyond the danger of being irrelevant into another extreme of being idolatrous.

I'm currently reading Kyle Idleman's Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, and it is shaping up to be a timely read. Sometimes means can become ends, sometimes goals can become gods, and sometimes even good things can become “god things.” For instance, I am reminded that Christian consumers of entertainment culture (TV, movies, video games, etc.) must take care that harmless goals of contextualization and relaxation do not lead to harmful practices and cultural idolatry. Paul toured the Athenian pantheon in Acts 17 and found a helpful sermon intro (the altar to an unknown god); what he didn’t do was set up any of those idols in his home or his heart.

Listen well, dear brothers and sisters: There is nothing wrong with a hobby or a pastime. There is, however, everything wrong with a God-replacing obsession. This is not a given, but rather a possibility: some of our self-proclaimed pastimes may be idols in disguise.

"FIVE FAVORITE FILMS" WITH CARLO VICTA

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Lately I [Carlo] have been browsing Rotten Tomatoes' "Five Favorite Films" series, where actors, directors, and other celebrities discuss the movies that have stayed with them long after the credits stopped rolling. In light of this (and further inspired by Pat, who is currently writing a "theology of film" paper for one of her classes), I thought it might be fun to share my five favorites as well!

NOTE: The five films below haven't been chosen because they're necessarily the best I've seen (otherwise: The Godfather. Where?). Moreover, this list will probably change in a couple years or weeks or tomorrow. Really, the following five are just movies that I flat-out love. Here they are in no particular order (with Pat's short list following):

VICTAPOLIS VIDEO: KEY AND PEELE'S "TEACHINGCENTER"

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Few do comedy quite like Key & Peele. Their brand of socially-aware humor with high production values occasionally provokes and critiques even as it incites gut-busting laughter. Case in point: The recent skit entitled “TeachingCenter,” which poses the question: “What if teachers were treated like pro athletes?” The sketch comes complete with a teacher draft, a “Highlight of the Day,” and even a fancy car commercial with a pro teacher endorsement. Check it out below.

On a related note, it seems all but confirmed that I [Carlo] will be teaching English as a second language for a season here in Baguio starting next month. :-) More on this to come. In the meantime, enjoy the video! --C.

WEB CLASSICS: "WHY SWITCHFOOT WON'T WRITE CHRISTIAN SONGS"

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Some Christians espouse the view that the only music worth listening to is Christian music. But if you ponder this idea long enough, a curious question then arises: What counts as "Christian music" anyway?

When asked in 2004 if the Grammy-nominated Switchfoot was a Christian band, frontman Jon Foreman offered a classic answer. If you haven't read this yet, well, you're in for a treat. Foreman's words lead us to question what we mean exactly when we use the words "Christian" and "secular" to describe the things we make, do, and consume, and they lead us to pursue faithfulness to Christ no matter what our calling in life might be. So tell us, Jon: Is Switchfoot a Christian band or not?

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF [Switchfoot] tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Do Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonatas Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Gilead, Our French Press, and Slow Living

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Marilynne Robinson's Gilead.


 This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.”
― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

I'm often unable to pay attention, especially when the busy seasons start to kick in. Stillness, that oh so needed time to replenish the reserves of the heart and mind, seems to be elusive in our fast-paced world. Productivity is the name of the game (and ironically, I just wrote a post on how to manage your time well so you can get stuff done). Somewhere deep in my heart I know that a frenetic lifestyle isn't sustainable and the day to day is more than a list of tasks to be completed. It is also a challenge to be mindful when our culture seems to value high-speed consumption of goods, including information. We chew and swallow quickly, and before we could even digest it, we're stuffing ourselves with more. Sometimes I find it hard to linger in gatherings when there's a deadline coming up quickly. These thoughts came to my mind as I ate breakfast with my husband today, Coldplay playing in the background. 

I kept thinking about what it means to live slowly while I made my morning coffee and somehow, our French press gave me some nuggets of wisdom. Making pressed coffee is not complicated at all but today I found something special about the method. It requires me to slow down and pay attention to what I'm doing. I was captivated by the process: Boil the water and heat up the pot with some of it, estimate and scoop the amount of coffee needed, pour the rest of the water, stir the coffee to let it bloom, wait, decant, enjoy.

GET STUFF DONE.

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Oops :3 Image source.

Hey friends! Pat here. We are now on week 6 here at seminary and boy, are we feeling the burn. We're halfway through the first trimester and our calendars are getting a bit more colorful (unless you only use one ink color). Having said that, I'd like to share a few time management tools--methods and apps--that have worked for me in the past. With the exception of Google Calendar, I admit that I'm yet to apply/use them while I'm in grad school so this post is also partly for me. It's high time for me to come up with a game plan.

So let's look at the list, shall we?

Seminary Diaries: (Almost) One Month In

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Friends, I [Patricia] am feeling it.

Assignments to be turned in.
Lectures to review.
Papers to be researched.
Papers to be written.
Books to be read.

I am feeling it and I'm loving it.

SAMSON'S MISTAKE AND HOPE AFTER BAD HAIRCUTS (JUDGES 16:22)

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Jan Havicksz Steen, Samson and Delilah (1668) - Holland, oil on canvas

I have a new Bible verse to rank among my favorites. But hold on- it may actually surprise you. 

Behold, Judges 16:22:

"But the hair on [Samson's] head began to grow again after it had been shaved."

"Huh? Why is that so meaningful?" Well, remember that Samson's hair represented his Nazirite vow and commitment to the Lord. (In Judges 13:4, his mother was told: "You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.") Remember also that both his hair and his power were shorn from him after one climactic moment of disobedience. But God wasn't through with him yet.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS BEHIND-THE-SCENES REEL (COMIC CON 2015)

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It was only a matter of time before you saw a Star Wars post on this blog, yeah? Don't worry, it won't be the last. :)

A behind-the-scenes look at Episode VII debuted at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 last week, and it is a thing of beauty. Check it out below. The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th.



Oh, one more thing: if you're a SW fan and you haven't read How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor, let me Force Persuade you to check it out.  The front cover blurb is right: it's not just fascinating history, it's also "a creativity manual" to boot. ;)  --C.

10 THINGS I LEARNED IN SEMINARY - #4-10: THE FINAL EDITION

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[Don't worry- this is "The Final Edition" for this series only. Carlo will be posting new articles highlighting the "Culture" district of Victapolis soon, and Pat has some new content coming as well!]

Today I’m posting the remaining 7 of the “10 Things I Learned in Seminary” in one little article. Why, you may ask? Well, starting next week I’ll be engaged in English tutoring, TA responsibilities for a seminary class, and more research for my book project. Moreover, there are a few other opportunities on the horizon that I won’t mention just yet ;) That combined with the prospect of other Victapolis articles means you get the whole "10 Things" enchilada right here and now!

A little disclaimer: During my three years of seminary, I learned much more than can be shared in a single post. Consider these broad strokes just a sampling of the whole!

10 THINGS I LEARNED IN SEMINARY - #3: CULTURE MATTERS

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It was the discovery that rocked my world.

Flashback to my Biblical Theology of Missions class in 2012. I was poring over Acts 17:16-34 (which describes Paul’s ministry in Athens), with an aim to determine whether the apostle modified his theology to reach non-Jews or plowed ahead with the same ministry methods he used in earlier settings. I came to his speech in the Areopagus council which includes two quotations in 17:28: “’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” And while doing some research on these lines, it hit me.

Paul didn’t quote the Old Testament or even “secular” poets in his Acts 17 sermon.

However, he did quote two poems fashioned to extol the glories of the Greek god Zeus. And as we will find, the implications here for our ministries are staggering.

10 THINGS I LEARNED IN SEMINARY - #2: PREACHING POINTS

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[If you missed Carlo's first post on "Biblical Languages," check it out here! All the same, read on for some preaching tips he has learned over the past few years in this week's installment of "10 Things."]

"Great preachers aren't bornthey're developed." What do you think? I saw this posted on Facebook recently and I really do agree. After all, whether someone is clearly born with communication skills or God gifts them with preaching grace later in life, it stands that every minister will likely look back on their early sermons with a head shake and a smile.

Heck, I'm no different. I preached my first sermons in 2009 and there are certainly phrases, paragraphs and entire preaching times I wish I could take back. But I've learned a thing or two since then, both in seminary and behind the pulpit. Here are 16 things I've come to realize:

16 TRUTHS ABOUT PREACHING

1. Louder does not mean “more anointed.”

2. Faster does not mean “more anointed.”

3. Preaching with a manuscript does not mean “less anointed.”

4. Boring preaching is a sin unless you love boring preaching. (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)

5. All the exegesis in the world means nothing if your church is asleep.

Seminary Diaries: The First Two Weeks

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Hey friends! Patricia here :) At the time of this post's writing, Carlo and I have just returned from the last Spiritual Emphasis Week chapel service. Our guest speaker from New Zealand ministered to us on prophecy and the prophetic office. This encouraged me to really go deeper in the Word because through it, the Lord always speaks.

Anyway, it's now been two weeks since I started classes at Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. The first class sessions have been good and I'm adjusting well to life on campus. I've gotten to know more people through orientation week, my classes, meal times, and chapel. It's also good to reconnect with some old friends I met when Carlo was still a student. I'm so grateful to the Lord for placing us here. APTS is amazing :)

CULTURE: FOXES' NEW MUSIC VIDEO "BODY TALK"

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Singer-songwriter Louisa Rose Allen (stage name: Foxes) is back with a retro new single.

I [Carlo] love pop artists who can put out good music without relying on raunchiness. Foxes (of "Clarity" fame) is back with her new single "Body Talk," which isn't about what you might think: It celebrates dance as one way to cope with breakups and bad days. The video features a slick 70's/80's vibe that I really dig. Check it out below:



Ooh, let your body talk
Even when you feel so lost
Spinning when the tears
They fall, you gotta just let it go

La la la la la

10 THINGS I LEARNED IN SEMINARY - #1: BIBLICAL LANGUAGES

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[This post is the first in a series that highlights ten things that have stayed with Carlo following his graduation from Asia Pacific Theological Seminary. Read on, friend!]

How important is it to know Hebrew and Greek for Christian ministry? Is it essential, helpful, or completely unnecessary? Over the past few years I have heard both laypeople and seminary students insinuate that learning either language is pointless. After all, aren’t decent Bible study tools, common sense, and a “literal” Bible translation enough? Is busting my brain to grasp Greek participles or Hebrew verb stems really worth it in the end?

Now I’m no William Tyndale (Bible translator who mastered over 6 languages including Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish), and I’m no John Wesley (preacher who could quote Scripture in Greek better than in English). Having said that, I have completed over a year of modern Hebrew, over a year of biblical Hebrew (there are differences), and a year and a half of biblical Greek. I’ve been in the trenches with oodles of vocab cards and translations of long biblical passages, and beyond that, since graduating with my Master of Divinity degree I’ve sought to utilize my newfound skills during ministry preparation to see if they’re actually useful. What have I discovered? Here are three things I’ve found that a knowledge of Hebrew/Greek can’t do, and three things it has done for me.

AT THE GYM: OUR P90X3 JOURNEY

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Exercise is hard. 

Most of the time the difficulty springs from lack of motivation. I take my age for granted thinking that I can get away with (occasionally) eating junk and just using the stairs or walking more. While doing those things is better than slacking off and eating potato chips all day, Carlo and I both know that we need to make lifestyle changes if we want to live and minister for a long time.

"... for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." - 1 Timothy 4:8, ESV (italics mine)
We believe that the physical affects the spiritual, and vice versa. When we are filled with the Spirit and the word of God abides in us, there is a certain glow within us that people will recognize. Our actions and attitudes also reveal what is going on in our hearts. In the same way, when we don't take care of our bodies, we may not make the most of our spiritual activities. It takes a great amount of energy to preach, travel, meet with people, write papers, sit through class, and many others. If we're not fit, we'll feel weak all the time and we may get sick more often. I have to agree with Paul's words to Timothy: bodily training is of some value. If we can, let us take care of our bodies as we continue to train ourselves in godliness.

MINISTRY WATCH: GREAT TIMES AT BACC/YA'S BOOT CAMP 2015, "BATTLES OF OUR TIME"

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Over 100 high school/college attendees and 40+ staff invaded Santol, La Union to learn how to "fight the good fight" (1 Tim 6:12)! (Photo: Von Mark Burbos Cacayurin)

Five days. 12 sessions. Shots were fired. The annual BACC (Baguio Assembly City Church) youth camp, Boot Camp 2015: "Battles of Our Time" from May 31-June 5 was a huge success! The enemy's days are numbered, and a new generation is preparing to make their mark in the city. Here are some highlights:
  • Awesome times of worship and prophetic ministry. The Spirit of God moved upon hearts to bring peace, healing, unity, and hope.
  • Battle studies. Most of the preaching responsibilities were split between Ps. Sur del Rosario (National Youth Director of the Philippine General Council of the Assemblies of God) and myself [Carlo]- five sessions apiece. He shed light on the various battles youth face today (purity, the heart, temptation, etc.), and I talked about how to overcome in each of them.
  • Some of us engaged in deliverance ministry. During the Tuesday night session, a demonized young girl was set free through repentance and the power of Jesus' name. Praise God!
  • An army is rising. Around 25 young people were baptized in water on the last day of the camp.

Yours truly preaching at the first morning session of Boot Camp 2015 (June 1st). Christ won a decisive victory for us at Calvary! "The cross is the victory that makes all other victories possible." (Photo: Von Mark Burbos Cacayurin)

Since I graduated from seminary this past March, I'll have more time for similar ministry in months to come. We'll keep you posted! -C.

READY PLAYER ONE, HEARTHSTONE, AND WISDOM'S CALL IN THE DIGITAL AGE

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[DISCLAIMER: There are some minor spoilers of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One in this article. If you have read the book, don’t plan on reading it, or can tolerate discussions of theme that don’t involve major plot revelations, read on! -C.]

What is the cost of success within virtual reality? Is it success in the real world? Or can the former be obtained without sacrificing the latter? Of course we’d need to define “success” in all of this, but since we’re on the subject: can virtual success be considered real success at all?

These are but some of the questions bandied about by Ernest Cline in Ready Player One, a novel that envisions a future in which most people spend more time in a virtual reality world called the OASIS than in real life. After OASIS creator James Halliday kicks off a massive contest to determine the heir of his billion dollar fortune, the young protagonist Wade Watts must utilize his gaming and computing skills as well as his extensive pop culture knowledge to win the contest before more unsavory types do. But if virtual success carries a hefty price tag, what does Wade need to pay to stay ahead of the game?

WHAT IS “VICTAPOLIS”? A GREETING FROM THE MAYORS

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Hi, and welcome to Victapolis!

If you’re wondering what all the hullaballoo is about, here it is:

Patricia and I have maintained various blogs separately throughout the years, and even before meeting each other and getting married we tended to write about the same things. A ministry update here, an album review there, and all sorts of life and randomness in between. So after tying the knot we thought, “Why not create a common space for all the interests we share and love?"

The result is our city, Victapolis. (Polis is Greek for “city” and Victa is our surname.) Why a city theme for our personal blog, you may ask? Well, in addition to our love for all things Star Wars, literature, and Jesus, we also share a love for all things urban. We believe God wants to impact cities with his gospel of light and love, such that both cities and the people who reside in them are utterly transformed. Additionally, we love tracing intersections between art and spirituality that often materialize in the city.

All things considered, you will find Victapolis to be a repository of our experiences with faith and culture in everyday life. We pray you will be encouraged and enlightened during your time here, and we invite you to interact with us and the content as well. After all, this is your city too. :)

Love,
Carlo & Patricia

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