I just finished reading
I want to write down what happened to me today because I want this day and the lesson I learned today to be remembered.
One of things that I believe God is teaching me lately is Perseverance. And if there’s one thing I learned previously about perseverance, it is only developed through experiencing trials and hardships of many kinds over a prolonged period of time. With all the challenges I’m experiencing right in the three most important aspects of my life ~work, family and ministry~ I know for sure that I am undergoing a period of testing of my faith. God confirmed this to me through my Bible study with my leader yesterday on James 1. James 1 has always been my reference Chapter whenever I’m experiencing sufferings because the first few verses in that Chapter says that:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
You see, remembering these verses makes it easier for me to remain grateful and even joyful during times of trial. But because God knows that I already know about these things on the importance of perservering during trials, He gave me a fresh and different insight on James 1. He taught me about listening and doing:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (Jas 1:22-25 NIV)
So I learned that listening to God means doing what He says in His word. And how is this related to my current circumstances?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)
One of the truths about Jesus that I love sharing to people whenever I share the Gospel is the promise of full life.
I love sharing this truth because I am a living testimony of how Jesus transformed my life from nothing into something meaningful. Like the Ephesians, I was once dead to my transgressions and sins but now I am made alive in Christ. I was reminded of this truth once again yesterday, during the Sunday service.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 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. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 NIV
A friend once told me that we live in the most stressful generation, and I totally agree with her. It’s very evident with the increasing number of people who find the need to travel a lot, drink and be merry every weekend or even find a meaningful just to unwind from work-related stress or whatever troubles they are experiencing in life. Actually, I used to envy people who can just easily pack their bags and go somewhere else every weekend whenever they want to.
But then God reminded me to look at the motives and reasons why most people live the way they live now. These people are looking for something that will give meaning and satisfaction to their lives and they are looking for it in other things except from God. So when I realized this, my envy has turned into compassion because I know that no matter how hard try to fill their lives with things, experiences, work, hobbies, and even people, they will never experience the full life that God has originally designed for us, unless they turn to Jesus.
Sure they will feel happy after visiting every destination, or after partying with friends over the weekend, or even doing something that they are passionate about, but these will never give them a lasting joy and peace. After every travel, partying or whatever activity they do, they will still have to go back to their respective workplaces and face the reality of life which remains the same after they left it.
What they need is Someone who will give them a spring of living water who will satisfy their hunger and thirst for something, who is actually Jesus Himself. As what Agustine of Hippo has said, the human heart is restless until it finds itself in God.
That is why every person need Jesus. Actually, Jesus is all we need to break the cycle of looking and finding the meaning of life. Once we finally meet Him, we will realize that we don’t need much to feel happy and contented because He can meet us right where we are.
This is also the reason why lately I realized that travelling or doing my favorite hobby is no longer appealing to me. I no longer feel stressed and tired all the time because I’ve learned how to find rest in God. The time I spent with Gid every morning and the ministry that God has entrusted to me which seemingly looks tiring, are the very reasons why I don’t feel stressed. Jesus is now my life and the source of lasting joy and peace.
If you’re feeling tired, restless and empty, maybe Jesus is nudging you to go back to Him and receive His free gift of life.
How are you, people?!
I’m down to my last 7 posts for this so let’s get going.
The truth is, I always get annoyed when people say something about my non-existent lovelife especially when they are trying to point out that I’m missing out on something huge in my life for not having one. I always try to act cool whenever these things happen, but there’s one incident though that I can’t help but lashed out over a certain comment made by a high school classmate. I wouln’t even call him a friend because he’s not.
We were having our usual banter in our group chat when one of our classmates started teasing me to this guy classmate. They know that I have this irrational dislike on this guy so they always make fun of me by teasing me to him. And because I don’t want the teasing to continue, I always tell them that it’ll not gonna happen because he’s not my type. The guy answered by telling me to stop being choosy. Then he said something, and in a mocking way, like ‘are you not jealous of our other classmates? You’re the only one who’s not married yet’.
I don’t usually take comments like this personally, but because that comment came from a least favorite person, I really got annoyed. I still tried to sound gracious so I just answered him and my other classmates who are also reading our conversation with something like “getting married is not the ultimate purpose of life”.
I have so much to say about why I’m not jealous of my high school friends who now have their own family and why I’m not worried even if I remain single for life but I chose to remain silent that time because I know that our chat group was not a proper venue for that. I also know that they wouldn’t understand even if I told them why so I just kept my thoughts to myself.
I’m still not sure why I got easily annoyed by that comment. I always have a ready answer for that question but during that time, I felt as if I got tired of answering those kind of questions and of feeling the need to always explain myself. I know I’m happy with being single and I don’t need to convince them that I am. Maybe I’m just disappointed that some people are not used to being not in a relationship so they don’t understand why some people can be happy and contented even if they’re single.
While it’s true that we are really made for meaningful relationships, I don’t believe believe that being in a romantic relationship is the only way to be happy. We are designed to love and be loved, but the highest form of love that we can experience is the love of God. Once you experience the love of God and you are secured in God’s love for you, you won’t feel the need of receiving that kind of love from other people. And this is the reason why I’m fine with being single. I am secured in Jesus’ love for me.
So if you’re in a relationship and you’re happy with it, good for you. But please stop telling your single friends to go and find their other half, specially when they are having the time of their life. I know you mean well and you only want them to experience the same joy you’re having when you are in a relationship, but please stop telling them to keep looking. Because being in a relationship is not always a bed of roses, that’s why it takes commitment. If you’re single friends say they are happy, believe them and just let them be. Don’t make them feel there’s something wrong with them just because they don’t have a romantic partner.
Actually, I didn’t.
I didn’t plan anything for my birthday, partly because I’ve been in denial about it for the past weeks, and partly because I can’t think of anything to celebrate it. So, I just prayed and left everything to God and let Him surprise me on the day of my birthday. I also tried to treat the day just like any other day. Since my birthday will fall on Friday, I thought that my scheduled bible study and prayer meeting on that day is already enough to celebrate my 30th birthday day in a meaningful way. But since God loves me so much, He didn’t allow me to not celebrate my special day, and I got a surprise birthday treat from my officemates.
Actually, I had an advanced celebration with my sweet friend, Sheryl the night before my birthday, when she also got me a cake during our dinner. Then on the morning, I started the day with my usual quiet time. I didn’t have any expectation on what is God’s message for me for that day, until I’m about to open my Bible and remembered that the passage for that day was Jeremiah 29. I sort of had an idea already that it will be a good birthday message because Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the common life verse for most people.
It was a wonderful time with God indeed! I even sort of laughed when I read this verse:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
Jeremiah 29:5-6 NIV
I was like, ‘Lord, are you serious about this?! Is this a command that I need to obey?!’
I didn’t really want to ask God about it but He gave me an answer anyway. I thought it was God’s way of telling me that I should not give up on the idea of marriage but I should not worry and fret over it for now.
I was also encouraged when I read this verse:
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)
It was a reminder and encouragement for me to pray more for the places where God has planted me because their prosperity also means my own prosperity.
Lastly, it was only during that time when the famous verse Jeremiah 29:11 made sense to me.
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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord , “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV
I’ve always known that God’s plan for me is always pleasing and perfect. But I also forget that God’s plan is not necessarily the same as mine. When my plan does not coincide with God’s plan, my tendency is to always complain and grumble.
I also tend to hinder my own growth by blocking off or refusing things that may cause me discomfort or incovenience even though I know they are necessary, so God can’t work in me and through me.
So this message is actually a reminder for me to really embrace whatever God will allow to happen in my life because He is only up to my own good. Blessings and prosperity are important. So are sufferings and discipline. They are all being used by God to develop and make me the kind of woman He wants me to be.
So hello, 30s! I welcome you with open arms. 😊
Yesterday, I tried setting up a monthly budget so I could manage my finances better this year. The reason behind this is because I want to save up enough money so we could start the renovation of our house here in the province.
It has always been my dream to have our house renovated ever since I started working. However, unexpected things that require more of our attention happen every year so we always need to bump off house renovation from the list of our priority expenses and I was sort of secretly complaining to God about this situation. I may not have said it out loud but deep in my heart, I have a lot of questions:
‘Lord, I know that my current salary is already enough to cover our house renovation but how come that we have to put it off because of my father’s medication?‘
‘Lord, our income is relatively higher than these so and so people yet they were able to build a more decent home, while you have brought sickness to our family that eats up much of our expenses?’
‘Lord, why does our life need to be harder than others especially those who are unbelivers?!Why are they seemingly more prosperous than us?!’
I don’t resent supporting my father’s medication so I myself can’t believe that I have these secret complaints to God. Since God knows my heart, He showed me this morning the kind of attitude I have inside through my quiet time on Jeremiah 12.
You are always righteous,Lord,
when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me,Lord;
you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.” (Jeremiah 12:1-4)
The complaint of Jeremiah sounds very familiar to me as these are the same questions I have for God.
Why do wicked peole prosper? Why do faithless people live at ease? Why is it easier for them to do whatever they want and do as they please without even considering what God wants for them?
I found God’s answer to these questions in the following verses:
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
Your relatives, members of your own family— even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.
(Jeremiah 12:4-6 NIV)
God’s answer was plain and simple—
“My child, if you had it easy, how would you be able to stand up against the more challenging life in the future? How will you be able to stand against this cruel world?!”
I’ve always known that we live in a broken world and life was never meant to be fair and easy. That my present life is just a preparation for my life in the future.
Yet, I always tend to forget so God has to remind me about this truth over and over again. I have to be reminded about the principle of faithfulness in small things. If I keep on complaining about the simple things that God has asked me to do, then I will not have the strenght to do the bigger things that He will entrust to me in the future. So for now, I need to overcome whatever life has thrown at me so I could prepare for more challenging yet abundant and fulfilling life in the future.
Going back to the budgeting I did yesterday, I want to share what I discovered while doing the exercise. As I try to make all ends meet with my income and fixed monthly expenses, I can’t help but feel amazed at how God has been faithful in providing for me and my family last year. Our expenses continue to grow but God’s provision was also always on time that I was still able to buy things for myself and spend on entertainment. Then I was reminded about this verse:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
I repent for the kind of attitude I have about suffering and life’s challenges. I know that these sufferings are your way to help me grow in faith and to form Christ in me. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have warned us that in this life, we will have trouble. But you also promised that we will overcome because You overcomed the world. Thank you that in You, we have the victory and that by sharing with your suffering will also result in future glory with you. Amen.
It’s the time of the year again to sit down and think about how God has been faithful to me throughout the year. As you may recall, I was a little bit apprehensive to face the new year last January. I was afraid of the things that will unfold in 2017 because the previous year was generally difficult for me and my family. But then God assured me that I need not to be afraid because He is always in control. The word He gave to me as my guide for the whole year was Jeremiah 33. It was a promise of restoration. I particularly claimed His promise in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Indeed, 2017 was a year when I get to know God at a different level. It’s a year of restoration, abundant peace and security. The year has been great for me not only in my personal ministry but also in my family and even in my work. Let me now share to you some the things that God has done for me in 2017:
- Birthday Celebration with my family. This year’s celebration of my birthday was a little extra special because I celebrated it with my parents. I can’t even remember when was the last time I celebrated my birthday with my family. If I recall it right, I think I was still in high school or even in elementary when we celebrated my birthday as a complete family. But I don’t resent it because I understand that birthday celebrations have to be that way because of our circumstances. I got so used to celebrating my birthday either alone or with my friends that I’ve learned how to make my birthday celebrations more meaningful every year, with or without my family. So this year, God has given me the grace to celebrate it with them. 🙂 Plus, He answered my three specific birthday requests which I will share later.
- Free local and international travels. Two of the things I asked from God for my birthday were free local and international travels. I wasn’t able to travel much in 2016 because I realized that travel isn’t everything. I came to a point where I thought the places I’ve been to looked all the same to me so it’s no longer exciting. Plus, our situation in 2016 would not allow me to stay out of town for a long time. But then I thought maybe I should try traveling again and see if I can look at it in a different perspective. So I ask God to allow me to go to different places in the country and allow me to travel abroad again this year, and God was gracious to answer my prayer. I’ve been to at least four new provinces (Dipolog, Antique, Baler and Dinapigue, Isabela) and I was able to go back to two of my favorite places in the country (Palawan and Iloilo). God has also allowed me to travel to Thailand for the first time. All of these travels are for free so I was spared from spending too much on experience. The places I’ve been to this year still all looked the same to me but what makes each place special are the people I get to spend time with during these travels. The journey going to these places are also notable so I praise God for these experiences.
- National Cell Leaders’ Summit (NCLS) 2017. The NCLS was one of the things I’ve been looking forward to in 2017. Although I’m not sure at first if I will be able to meet the requirement for attending the summit, by faith, I claimed that I will be able to go and see my friends from other ministry areas. True enough God has arranged the circumstances so I would be able to meet the requirements and attend the summit. It was indeed a refreshing and encouraging time with my brethren from all over the country. During the summit, God has reminded me to take my commitment to Him seriously and realize the urgency of the Gospel.
- New ministry areas and clearer ministry direction. One of the things I prayed to God at the start of the year was to grant me a clearer ministry direction. I was also challenged to ask God where He would want to use me in the advancement of His kingdom. So right after the NCLS, I was instructed to stay at my place in Quezon City because He is about to start a ministry in the area. Before the summit, I’ve already decided to move out and transfer to a place nearer to my work place. But few days before we transfer, God challenged me to abandon my plan and told me to stay. It was not an easy decision to stay, but for every argument I present to God, He always have an answer. So even if it’s hard, I have to obey God and chose to stay. Later, I realized it was not a bad decision after all. God has indeed made my personal ministry a little easier for me this year by opening up new ministry opportunities near my workplace. I also now have an idea where God wants to use. As bonus, He also answered my prayer to open up ministry opportunity in one of the places I’m praying for after my LDI in 2013.
- New and Rekindled Friendships. If there’s one thing that made my 2017 a colorful year, it’s the time I spent with my friends not only from the ministry but also from other circles. I used to complain a few years ago about how having so many circle of friends can also be disadvantageous. So I intentionally distanced myself from old friends and decided to focus in the ministry. I don’t know what happened but I got more social this year. Not the drink and be merry type of social, but more on hanging out with friends to catch up. I’m glad that after four years, I was able to go and hang out with my LDI batchmates from Metro Manila. I also enjoyed every conversation I had with my friends from work every lunch. The new prayer meeting group I joined this year also gave me new opportunities to meet new friends and know more people from church. Lastly, God has also provided me opportunities to spend more time with my old high school and college friends.
These are just some of the things that I want to praise God for. I still don’t know what to look forward to in 2018 but I trust God that it will be another great year.
Just so you know, I’m not planning to give up on this challenge so….
And because I’m so excited to share my favorite fictional characters, let’s skip that long introduction and let’s get straight down to business.
I have several characters in mind when it comes to fictional characters that I can identify with. But because I want to make this post short and sweet, I’ll just mention my two most favorite characters. The first one is Stargirl Caraway from the book, Stargirl; and the second one is Anne Shirley of the Anne of Green Gables series.
She laughed when there was no joke. She danced when there was no music.She had no friends, yet she was the friendliest person in school. In her answers in class, she often spoke of sea horses and stars, but she did not know what a football was…
She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.
I read the book a few years ago and I fell in love with Stargirl’s character right away. As I’ve said in my book review, I like Stargirl because she’s weird, innocent and carefree. I can easily relate with her because sometimes, I feel like I’m also living in my own world, and I don’t care if people will find me weird. Just like her, I also try to act nonchalant but deep inside, I care a lot. She’s misunderstood by most people because she does not conform to the poplular opinion of the around her.
Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this: A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.
So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.
The first time I met Anne Shirley through this description and her conversation with Matthew, I thought she’s amusing and a very talk4ative girl. As the story progress, I found out that she’s indeed amusing and there’s more to her than meets the eye. She’s also a kindred spirit who loves big words, ambitious, and is full of imagination. As you get to know her throughout the story, you’ll discover that she’s one of the fictional character with the most beautiful soul. Despite her sad family background and childhood, she still have this positive outlook in life and can even add life and joy to the people around her. Because of her beautiful character, her life also ended up very well in the end.
I said I can relate with Anne Shirley because I wanted to be like her. I also want to add joy to the people around me and bring positive influence to them.
That’s all for now. 😀
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)
Perhaps most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. Some may even consider this passage as their favorite because the story of the prodigal son is something that we can easily relate to. Like the younger son, we are prone to wander somewhere and squander our Father’s wealth in wild living. And of course, how could we not love God who, like the father, is willing to wait for us to come back to our senses and welcome us when we return, despite of what we have done?
I used to love this passage as well and lately, God has been reminding me about the story of the prodigal son. But this time, instead of the younger son, I can identify myself more with the older son.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 11:25-31)
Just like the older son, I have been with God ever since I came to know Him. I’ve been slaving for Him and trying not to disobey His orders. But then recently, my heart is starting to argue with God about how come I cannot enjoy my life so much and celebrate it with my friends, so now I’m on the verge of refusing to join the celebration for the return of my lost brothers and sisters? I am at a point of my faith life where I’m starting to question God’s promise on my personal ministry that better things are yet to come. And honestly, even praying is a struggle for me these days because I’m not even sure God will give me positive answer.
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
This answer of the Father to the older son’s argument also seems open-ended and vague to me. Just like the older son, I really don’t know how to respond to this.
Will you please pray for me again?