April 28, 2011 by by Fiona Mae Alvero
This is a guest post from my friend Abby Bayona. When I was thinking of a young person who I can ask to write a blog on the topic of love, Abby was one of the people that immediately popped in my head because I’ve seen how she have set an example in love to young people like me. And for me this blog that she wrote is only a proof that we are never too young to have such wisdom in topics like love and relationships. Enjoy reading!

Greek: AGAPE
Operational Definition: Wag ka munang manligaw… ang AGA Pa Eh. ☺

Let’s KISS—keep it short and sweet!

All right. You can laugh if you found it funny, or you can cringe if you found the opening a bit corny. Either way, I’d love for you to ponder what I’m trying to say. We all put on our rose-colored glasses when it comes to love. We all dream and anticipate, and, more often than not, we’re averse to the word “wait.”
As a linguist, I appreciate the Greek language very much because it gives a clear distinction between the different types of love. The language knows how to accurately discriminate between agape (spiritual love), storge (familial love), philia (the love between friends), and eros (sexual love).
Now, since this blog is dedicated to the young people, let me connect this whole writing to a very good verse to take to heart as well, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The Greek word for love used here was agape. It is telling the young people to be excellent examples to the believers—old, middle-aged, and young alike. Beyond that, it even has a double effect of admonishing the youth to be excellent examples because unbelievers will always be watching their lives, too. It is commanding—yes, commanding and not requesting—the young people to do all that it says including being excellent in agape-ing God and the people around them. However, what does “agape-ing” someone mean?
Let me shine the spotlight now on romantic love, or the love between a man and a woman that makes sparks fly and palms sweat. What a duo! Yes, there is a reason why I used “a man and a woman”, and not “a boy and a girl.” There is a big difference.
Let me talk to the young ones—young people like me, at 22 years old. Yes, I’m still young. Don’t argue! You people like me better listen (read) up. That includes the early teenagers in high school, the late teenagers in college, and the yuppies like yours truly. What does this agape look like for us?
Young as we are, to agape someone you like (or think you love) means to wait. Waiting is actually more of an action verb than a stative verb. It is not a passive kind of thing where you just lie on your back helplessly like sleeping beauty waiting for the dear prince to give her a kiss, or that ugly frog waiting for a princess to kiss him back into human form despite the eeeewwwness factor.
Waiting is acting out your love the agape style. Not the eros style! If you know what I mean… and I know you know what I mean!
If you’re a young man, to be excellent in agape-ing your super crush means to let her be—at least until she’s gotten a degree and has found herself a good career. Do not pursue her if you’re still asking for “life support” from your parents. Do not run after her like mad if you cannot vow in front of a minister that you will agape her for the rest of your life without batting an eyelash. Do not pursue her just because someone else is throwing glances her way. Be secure and wait. If she’s GG (no, not that GG for the DotA fans out there)—God’s Gift to you, then He will give her to you in His proper timing and provision, financially and otherwise. I hope you get where I’m going. In other words, to be excellent in agape-ing her means to not be so atat. The measure of being a real man is not how eloquent he is in expressing his emotions, but how he endures the season of waiting and holding back.
If you are a young woman, to be a good example of an agape-ing kind of person is to wait… properly. Don’t just sit around! Do something to improve yourself, and make yourself more of the GG that your “the one” will receive eagerly with a WOW sign stamped on his forehead. Just as Esther had to beautify herself before she could meet the king, we too ought to send ourselves to a soul and spirit spa that should deepen our relationships with the darling King of Kings before he gives us to those blessed chaps who have found favor in His eyes. I’ll admit that sometimes there will be moments when I’d want to choose the lesser loves instead of agape. There are times when I go, “God bakit wala pa siya? 22 years na akong naghihintay.” But every time this happens, God reminds me, “Agape-ing your future hubby starts today. Do not go for the cheap thrills that will never stand the refiner’s fire. I will give you a true agape that will last a lifetime.”
The bottom line is: love is simple. Not easy but simple. There are some things we don’t have to pray about because God already said them clearly and distinctly in scripture. We just have to obey these clear commands. Period. A friend of mine (Hi Gavs!☺) summarized love a la agape this way: J-O-Y. Jesus first. Others next. You last. In a romantic or wish-to-be-romantic-in-the-future relationship, this would mean we put the will of God first, the welfare of the other person next, and our own whims last. Strictly in that order, please.
This is the real essence of being excellent in love, and being a true example for everybody to see our lives as living gospels. Agape. JOY down in our hearts! Deep deep down in our hearts! So the next time you want to get into a relationship prematurely, think, “AGA Pa Eh!”

Abby Bayona is a Liguistics graduate in University of the Philippines Diliman. She is an English & Spanish Instructor at University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos.
04.28.11 9:32pm
April 20, 2011 by by Fiona Mae Alvero

This is a guest post from Gelo Caancan. Gelo is a friend who I met in church. He is one of our student volunteers in Night LIFE and someone I look up to because of his leadership, passion for the youth and love for Jesus. I asked him to write a blog on the topic of LIFE, so here it is. Enjoy! :)

Life is comprised of many choices that we face each and every day.
Has there ever been a time when you thought about taking your own life, for whatever reason? Had it come to a point when you wanted to end everything because you couldn’t handle everything that’s happening to you and around you? Well, if you’re reading this and can relate to it, I’m glad you didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t.
Life is a gift in itself, and it is given to us for us to take care of. Our minds are clouded by the world around us, but as it says in Romans, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) Many people don’t understand that our lives are basically a gift from God, and they let the worldly things take over them.
I admit, back then, I was guilty of this; that is, until I found new life in Christ. And boy, it was so amazing. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4,5) It is in this new life that we become children of God.

It’s this new life in Christ that’s sustaining me right now, and I honestly couldn’t ask for more. God just does wonders, and I’m just amazed each and every day with what He does in my life. He’s changed me in ways I never imagined possible back then. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)
But, it doesn’t end there. Life, as I’ve mentioned earlier, consists of choices. Most of the time, it’s in the simple everyday decisions we make that we focus more on ourselves than what God is planning for us. We’d choose to remain angry with someone who did us wrong. We’d choose to satisfy our mundane cravings, even though we have full knowledge that this is against the teachings of the Bible, against His Word. It starts with these simple things; the simple everyday choices we make. And it shows in how we live our lives.
It’s hard, I know. Even I have struggles I face everyday. So, what helps? Choosing to be in Christ, each and every waking moment of our lives. What can go wrong, then? Every moment of our lives is a test of faith, a testimony as to whether we truly are in Christ.
When things seem to go wrong, talk to God. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12 NIV) Tell him of your worries, but I’m sure, He’ll reassure you, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
We are where we are right now because of the choices we made. More importantly, it is God’s will for us to be where we stand. Take a look at your journey with Christ and take notice of all the marvelous things He’s done. What better way is there to repay Him of the love He gives, than become a good child of God? It’s our choice to live out to our names as Christians, as children of God. It’s the challenge for all Christians.
“To call yourself a child of God is one thing. To be called a child of God by those who watch your life is another thing altogether.” (Max Lucado)
It’s never too early to be a good example. It only shows how God gives us the strength and wisdom to be light to others; light that emanates, reaches our and touches the lives of others, especially those who are lost in the midst of darkness in this world. If you feel that life’s bringing you down, remember that God has a plan for you. The challenge is how you’ll respond to everything that’s happening in your life, the choices you make—will these be according to God’s plan, or will you let the worldly things take over?
It all starts with the decision to live a life in Christ—every aspect, every moment—and just let Him work His wonders in you. I’m sure you’ve experienced this at least once in your life, and wouldn’t you say it’s worth it? Wouldn’t you want that feeling you get when you glorify His name for the rest of you life? Wouldn’t you want to experience eternal life with God? I know I would. It’s something I wouldn’t give up for the world. How about you? :)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NIV)

Gelo is a college student in Ateneo taking up Film and Production. He is also a volleyball varsity player. You can check out his blogsite here.
04.20.2011 9:17pm
April 16, 2011 by by Fiona Mae Alvero
Here’s a blog on faith written by guest blogger, Apple Ampit. Enjoy!

“And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
I sat on a cozy couch, breathing in the aroma of coffee and mocha. Below the terrace I am in, I could see the picturesque view where an outdoor wedding took place. My parents attended it, and I was just upstairs checking out on the Internet. I was told that the final grade of my Calculus subject would be given out that day. As I fixed my eyes on my laptop, figuring out whether the choice was to panic or not, my heart was a major on palpitation. I kept on refreshing my email, anxious about the possibilities of a failing grade.
I remember that day perfectly well.
The nth time I refreshed my email, my professor’s message came up. The subject gave me chills down my spine: “Final Grade.”
I tried to courageously click it. I looked for my class number and found a red mark on my grade.
I don’t know what force drove me to ask my professor a question. I was certain about something. I asked him for the breakdown of grades. My tears were already at a stampede and at the brink of giving in from eyes as I waited for his reply.
I remember writing this last October 25, 2010:
“A mail was delivered to me by my professor, which didn’t really sound like a blessing to me at first. My heart didn’t stop palpitating, my eyes were nothing but drowned in stopped tears, and I did not want to talk about it. There was a battle.”
There was a BATTLE.
“I called Chessie and cried over the phone. At first I really felt helpless. Along our conversation, I was encouraged, all the more my love for God sparked like excited fireworks. I was EXCITED. EXCITED TO MAKE THE DEVIL FALL. False hope, devil, I am not going to curse God for this. And I searched for something about miracles, it says, NEVER STOP BELIEVING, BE PERSISTENT! And then my eyes were opened, I KNOW I AM BELIEVING FOR SOMETHING AND IT’S NOT YET OVER!”
At this point, I was reminded of this verse: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11: 1
There was this positivity in me. I had a strong feeling about it. I don’t know why. I was crying but then I felt so positive, I felt like I could draw strength from somewhere…
“And I remembered PSALM 23. All the more, it sparked up my faith. There is nothing to fear. The LORD owns me, the Lord is my shepherd! He is the One who takes care of me. What is there to fear? I know things will just be all right, I just have to remain still. I may have panicked a lot, but this time I have to sit silent and wait on Him.”
And this came to my mind while rewriting the experience, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“I am writing this and I know it is long, but I can’t measure how much I love GOD now. I love Him more than ever; it just overflows! I know that whatever happens, He is in control.”
I may have cried due to temporary sadness when I was over the phone, but I know SOON I’m gonna cry again.. not because of sadness, but of PERMANENT JOY! :)”
As I wrote these last paragraphs of my note, I looked like a crazy girl in a coffee shop, alone with her laptop crying and smiling brightly at the same time.
I decided to conquer it by setting my qualifying-for-removals exam two weeks after the giving out of grades. I was there, stunned by the questions, plainly mental-blocked because of the possibilities. But as I took the exam, I prayed. I ceaselessly prayed.
What grace! I passed that test for removal exams. But there were still lots of battles that I had to face within me. I had to postpone it several times because I was honestly—overwhelmed by the fear that if I might fail I might lose my scholarship. Months passed, a lot of times I fasted about it.
Time came when God already gave different signs that I needed to take the removal exam. I cried. I called my mom (long-distance) and I kept on crying. I thank God that my mom is an encourager. She gave me verses to meditate on, instances that reminded me of how strong my God is, of how able my God is. I prayed, and again the certainty that something uncertain would happen, dawned upon me. It was strong—too strong. After a week I took an exam and I declared that everything went well. What more, it was such a favor from God because it was the Midterm exam that I took for the sem!
A few days after that, my professor just told me to go check the registration site for where the grades are already permanently posted. He was in a serious tone but still I decided to keep a firm ground on the promises God has given to me. I was in my small group when I checked the site.
Then I cried.
I cried in disbelief.
Nothing is ever impossible with God especially if you pray with faith. Praying with faith, as I learned about it, works when you fully give your full TRUST in GOD. It is hard, it needs a further push, it needs going against the current, but GOD delights so much in those who love to obey Him and those who are strong in faith.
Be strong in faith, because we have a FAITHFUL God. ☺

Apple Ampit is a 2nd year BS Biology student in University of the Philippines Diliman, a faituful Victory group leader and a worship leader in Victory Quezon City. She is also a vocalist in a band called “Set Apart.”

04.16.11 10:47am
April 1, 2011 by by Fiona Mae Alvero
Okay, before I get any busier, I think it’s time to start posting the blogs that my guest bloggers wrote for my blog site’s first year anniversary last March 25. I know, this is late already.

I’ve been just really preoccupied lately with the transitions that’s happening in my life. I just recently graduated from college and on the fourth day of me being unemployed, I got hired. While I was still coping up with how it’s like to be a new graduate student and out of school for the first time since I was four (pretty hard), I also have to begin coping up with how it’s like to be working for real. But I’m cool with it. God’s grace has brought me to this job that I really desire, so I know it is also the grace of God that will cause me to go through whatever I will face in this new season. :)

I wanted to do something new for the first year of this blog site, so I asked some of my good friends to write a blog on the topic of the very heart and theme of this blog site – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example to the believers IN SPEECH, IN LIFE, IN LOVE, IN FAITH AND IN PURITY. (1 Timothy 4:12) This passage in the Bible means a lot to me. It always reminds and encourages me that a young person like me is not a side issue – not in the society, and ultimately not in the eyes of God. It has also set me to do the very calling that I have as a young person.

For the next blogs that I will be posting, we will hear from different young people – young world changers at that – who, when you look at their lives, it shouts that verse that Paul writes in 1 Timothy. May it be an encouragement not just to young generation, but in all walks of life as well.

I believe in young people.

To get everything started, here’s a blog by Babes Bato. Babes Bato is a campus missionary, an officemate, a mentor, a good friend of mine, a person who loves Jesus, a person who believes in the youth with all her heart. Hope it will bless you like how it blessed me. Enjoy!

By Babes Bato
I’m excited to write this blog, not only because it touches the very calling God has set me out to do but more so because I want to inspire (the) YOUth to continuously challenge the prevailing norm and be set apart for what they have been made for. The fact that a youth challenged me to do this, all the more made this really exciting – thank you Fiona, it’s a privilege to be featured in your site.
I believe in the youth for two very simple reasons: God believed in me and someone has invested her/his life in my growth when I was young. That may sound cliché to some but try telling it to a youth who has not experienced any of it and see how it will impact their lives.
When I was young I was unwanted, a family of seven children and six daughters doesn’t necessarily need another daughter most especially when the reason for having one more child was in the hope of having a boy. That was my life story – I was consistently out there proving there’s a reason for my existence in a family I felt I was not needed.
Until I came to UPLB, there I met a group of young, radical men and women who welcomed me gladly without knowing who I was and who I can be – that was refreshing! That same year I met Jesus and I found Life Himself – its like I’ve been searching for this in my entire existence and there He was just waiting for me to accept Him. My life was literally transformed – from a nobody to having a whole identity.
God walked me thru a life of purpose and passion. He gave me leaders who without any ounce of pretense would tell me: “Babes, you can do greater things than all the leaders you are looking up to right now.” For me that was revolutionary – that time, I was young, inexperienced and got nothing to prove for myself, their words were like a pump of adrenaline to my soul and it gave me the needed boost to step out, dream big dreams and go out to live a faith-filled life.
So this blog goes out to the young people in the house, I’m not just here to encourage you or tell you “good things” but I’m here to share a truth that I hope would penetrate your body, soul and spirit:
“DON’T LET ANYONE look down on you because you are YOUNG, BUT SET an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
I did not invent this but God made sure that on the book of Truth you will get to see this and believe that the God of the universe believes in YOU(th).
✔Don’t let anyone look down on you! – now that sounds like a great don’t from the Bible.
✔Don’t allow people, or circumstances, or challenges dictate what your future will be – ask God about it and you’ll have the biggest surprise of your life.
✔Don’t be swayed by what the world is screaming at you to do – rather scream back at it, be radical, stand out; redefine coolness according to the standards of the Bible.
✔Do the impossible, defy the culture, challenge other young people, excel, live life beyond its boundaries.
I have seen it before, children in Vacation bible school praying for their parents and they get healed, students inspiring change in their campuses – challenging activism – redefining the student government. There are also a lot of young men and women fighting the battle of purity amidst intense criticism. I want you to know right now that you are never alone in doing this. There’s a young boy I met who was able to lead his whole family to Christ. All over the Philippines there are students ranking top of their class without sacrificing their integrity. The list goes on – whether its something personal as believing for their own emotional healing to something as grand as leading thousands of young people to a purposeful life – it’s real and it’s happening, the only question is are you one of these young people?
I want to challenge you today to stand up for your generation, be the one who would cry out to God to redeem the labels so many people has tagged you with. Make a difference today – ask the Holy Spirit to infused you with an audacious faith to reach out to your generation. It’s never too late and you are never alone.
Last truth I want to share and this is something Jesus said:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” – John 14:12
You will do greater! You will be a voice in this generation! Yes the youth can!
04.05.11 9:44pm