Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday: A Grateful Heart Despite the Pain

I find this post the most difficult one to write, so far. Upon logging in, I mistyped my password thrice. My hands and my mind are at a loss to do anything due to the pain, the wounds, the breaking of my heart. But since I made a commitment to thank Him always and to verbalize all of my thanksgiving here in this blog every Tuesday, I chose to write and thank Him today, despite the cloud of brokenness and the storm of deceits.

I thank Him for His sustaining grace. Though I am not okay by human standards, I thank Him still because I know that He is at work within me. I thank Him because right now, I cannot see clearly but He said that everything works for the best of His children. I thank Him for my limited vision now because I know that His vision is better and wider than mine. He knows what he is doing and He is in control. I thank Him for the broken heart because I know, in my brokenness, He will make me whole.

My situation right now is not easy. Well, yes, it is easy to say all of the above but it is quite hard every time I am reminded of the pain, the hurt, and the insults. It would have been easier if the person who made the hurt, the pain and the insults is an unbeliever. But no, unfortunately, the one who insulted me and gave me the pain is a supposed child of God. As a human being, it is easily tempting to coddle my emotions and take vengeance.

But I thank my Savior and King because He said that vengeance is His. I thank Him because He sees and He knows each of our every thought, every word, every deed. He is a just God and I know He will not let wickedness and unrighteousness unpunished. I thank Him because this person has the accountability to Jesus Christ.

You see, there is so much to thank for when in pain. I thank Him because I know that He is also letting me see my mistakes, convicting me with His Spirit. I thank Him because I know that He is teaching me a lesson, molding me into the child that He wants me to be.

I am thankful because Jesus is my Lord, my King, my Savior, my Redeemer, my best friend, my perfect lover, my defender, my strength!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Today, I worship the Most High God with thanksgiving and praise for finally bringing to His church last Sunday a family of souls needing healing and reconciliation! :-) It's funny how things in our lives happen and I was fortunate to be a witness of God's hands working to make something beautiful out of something bad, His business of turning trash into beauty.

She's my client for the Free Legal Aid Program and from the very first time I saw her, I can see my old self in her--longing, dreaming, yearning and searching for the perfect love at all the wrong places. I can remember that our "client interview" lasted for almost three hours. Usually, I do these interviews at the most of thirty minutes but the Holy Spirit in me prompted me to stay longer and to listen more to Her. It was awkward listening to her whines and complaints and stories of abuse in her marriage when I have never married. But in a way, I did relate to her. By God's grace, in my very humble ways, I was able to share to her the One True Love which is demonstrated by Jesus Christ.

Fast forward six months later and I ushered her to His church with her husband and their four-year-old son. In between these months, I did pray for her though not as intensely as I pray for her now. Most of the time, I was just listening and until very recently that I had my heart broken, I was so intense in sharing to her the Gospel of Jesus. I opened up to her, sharing the lessons I have learned in my latest heart pain. And I can sense now that Jesus is healing both of us in His very own timing.

Today, I praise and thank God for this opportunity. Today, I thank God for teaching me how to wrestle in prayer, how to abide in Him, and how to have this beautiful, sacred, and perfect exchange of life as I know it to the life that He wants me to have.

Today, I thank God for His message in Paul's letter to Philemon. I thank and praise Him for these beautiful souls writing their story of release, experience of seeking and finding Him, a life of total devotion, and an understanding of His healing power.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for everything!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Self-control…and my utter lack of it

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and
to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
~Titus 2:11-14

Last night, I gave in to my self. Again. I’ve been praying for His cleansing and purifying power to give me a pure heart and a pure mind. But my sinful self took over. The enemy knew my weakness and with his scheming tactics, I fell.

It’s quite disappointing, really. It came so unexpectedly. One thing led to another and then another and before I could even stop to think, I was left with a series of destructive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. And these did not just destroy me but those around me as well. Worst of all, it destroyed my relationship with my King and Savior. I was down and grumpy and I could not clearly see His ways.

I refused to have my nightly and morning prayer-times and devotions, because, I reasoned out, I will deal with God once my issues were over. What Leslie Ludy wrote in her devotional and in her book with her husband is really true. Once I start to sincerely have a desire to build a wall of fortification around Jesus, the enemy works double time. Resorting to a show of deceptions, he will make me confused and down-trodden.

Last night and this morning, the enemy accomplished his purpose. I was defeated. And I lost my appetite to pray and spend time with my King.

But you see, the enemy’s deceptions do not last long. Because the truth of the matter is, what he uses are only deceptions, counterfeits, and lies. The truth will always come out, sooner or later, depending on how gracious I am to let the Holy Spirit work in me.

And every time I allow God’s Spirit to do the real work instead of my weak self doing it, I always feel renewed, transformed, and changed. And you see, even at the time of that enemy attack last night, the Lord is already winning the battle for me, He was just waiting for me to acknowledge Him, take His hand, and accept His Kingship over my self.

If you are also keen in your desire to build your life around your King and have been experiencing constant enemy attacks, I sincerely pray that whoever you are, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’s salvation and the blessed hope He brings fill you with His strength, might and valor.

Click here to read and get blessed by Leslie Ludy’s devotional. You might also want to get a copy of their book, Wrestling Prayer.  

A Pure Heart

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.
In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God,
but by their actions deny Him.” ~Titus 1:15-16

            A pure mind and a pure heart—these, I want. Not for my own glory but for the glory of my King, Jesus Christ. I desire to have a pure heart all the time, no matter what the circumstances are and who I am with. I want to live and see everybody I meet just as Jesus Christ sees them. I want to look at my enemies and see Jesus in them. I want to love and think like Jesus that those who do not know may know Him through me and in me.

            Pure. About two years ago, Jesus worked in my heart to let me know His standards of purity in earthly relationships. The purity He requires includes not only what the world sees as sexual purity but also physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and all-aspects-of-my-being purity.

            This time around, God is telling me to check my mind and my heart and to make sure that His purity is also present there. This is not purity in earthly relationship but purity in my relationship with Him as well as in my relationships with believers and unbelievers. This is purity in my totality as a Christian, as a believer, as His follower. I believe, with all Godly audacity, that this is in preparation to His making of me as His mighty soldier.

            A word as simple as pure is easy to understand that sometimes, I tend to lose the real meaning of it. A quick search for its synonyms gave me two eye-opening words: wholesome and nourishing. Another click and I got spotless and faithful. And another search gave me undamaged and unpolluted. I asked the Lord for more and He gave this: without malice.

            If this is God’s standards, then, I am a wretched soul. Too many times I’ve looked at a person and all I see is his damaged and broken self. This is not spiritually nourishing to me but to the person as well. Too many times I’ve interpreted someone’s words or deeds in a very negative way. Indeed, this is not faithful to the command in the Bible that a Christian is to think only of whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is noble. Too many times I’ve doubted a believer or an unbeliever. Certainly, this is not wholesome. There were times, too, that my mind was so quick to think of what might possibly happen in a very malicious way. This is damaged and polluted.  

            All these show that I am still self-righteous and I still lack trust in my Lord.

            But because God is a just and loving God, He wants me to sincerely get rid of all these, not by my own strength but by the strength and righteousness of Jesus Christ. And I praise Him for this opportunity to grow in His love. I praise Him and thank Him because He loves me so much He does not want me to remain in my old sinful self.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Every Morning

I woke up early this morning and the Lord blessed me so much in my devotion like a loving Father telling His great love for his wide-eyed child and I am this wide-eyed child.

I've been singing and have been blessed too many times with the lyrics of a song which says that His mercies are new every morning. I loved it. I love the fact that I wake up everyday with the sun shining, fresh air wafting, and our home still intact. I love Him because despite my shortcomings and sinfulness, He still looks at me with love and compassion that He provides me with everything I need.

But today, He gave a new meaning to that line. His mercies are new every morning, yes. But it is not just about the material provisions. It's about His great love.

When He created me way before He created the world, He already laid out a plan for me. That's how He loves me much. When He died on the Cross, He loves me much. When He was resurrected, He loves me much. And He wooed and pursued me with much of His love. When I accepted Him, He gave me His love. But what's even greater? Everyday, His love is new. Everyday, He works in my heart to show me wounds, dirt and dust that need to be purified by His love.

I've written it in one of my posts but I will say it again: Jesus loves me so much despite my sin and imperfections but His love for me is so great that He will not allow me to stay stagnant and unchanging.

His love transforms, every morning. 

When I accepted Jesus, His love slowly enabled me to let go of my old self, the part of me which was finding pleasure and comfort in late-night parties. And then He worked in the way I used to dress. His love made me re-think and change my attachment to material provisions. And now, His love is working in me to change the very core of my heart. His love make me new every morning!

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. ~Titus 3:3-8

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greatest is His Love

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth… Love never fails.”
~1 Corinthians 13: 6, 8

[Blogger’s Note: For clarification purposes, I have liberally used the term, “Valentine’s Day,” but have enclosed such term in quotation marks to indicate that I do not believe nor do I subscribe to this celebration.]

Mid-afternoon of February 13th, I was walking down a crowded shopping center with too many things running in my head. I kept on seeing stalls with nicely-arranged flowers, elegant balloon arrangements, elaborate bouquets, and lots and lots of heart-shaped and cupid cutouts. Then, I muttered to myself, wondering, “Why on earth are they celebrating their supposed “Valentine’s day” early? Would not these flowers wilt?”

            It was only hours after, after I’ve seen too many coffee-shops with overrated good-for-two promos and after my elementary classmate greeted me an advanced “Happy Valentine’s Day” while I was having some documents photocopied—it was only then that I realized that yes, for the unbelievers, “Valentine’s Day” was the day after that.  

            I don’t know their reason for celebrating or the history of it, though I must admit that before I became a Christian, I used to buy the worldly and highly-commercialized idea of Valentine’s Day. I used to be fascinated with chocolates, flowers, balloons, and love songs. I used to get excited for February 14.

            By God’s grace, however, as I accepted Christ, I was able to see the non-necessity of celebrating this day of love. I was fortunate to have attended a Bible-centered church and February 14 was usually spent evangelizing about the greatest love of all—the Father’s love demonstrated through Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who despite our being sinners, died for us and was resurrected to give us a new life (Romans 5:8). Of course, this change of heart and mind came slowly and there were times that I had to fight and struggle with my worldly and fleshly nature.

            And so I am writing this entry to celebrate this Perfect and Greatest Love and to remind myself that with Christ, everyday is a day of His Perfect Love. 

            The aforequoted verse came out as I was preparing my mother’s speech for the Hearts Day Celebration of the public elementary schools which invited her to be a speaker. It was my desire that through her speech, the love of God may also be preached though my mom has yet to fully understand Jesus Christ.

I praise Jesus and I thank Him profusely that He has appointed this task to me, that even if I cannot personally tell these elementary kids about the Greatest Love this day, I can write about it. What’s more, my mom can actually read what I’ve written and I know that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in her heart to fully understand what it is to accept Christ. I know, God is just amazing, right?

Anyway, back to my point. I’ve been reading this Biblical definition of love for quite some time now, even way before I became a Christian. Too many times I’ve pondered on this, studied this, quoted this and memorized this passage about love.

But it was only today that 1 Corinthians 13:6 made a great impact in my life. It was by His grace that this verse has been given new meaning and life in my existence.

Love does not delight in evil. When Jesus Christ died for me out of His Perfect Love for me, He has pulled me out from the pit of darkness. I was living in sin but His grace was overflowing that He chose me, despite the filth that I was in. He chose to save me and die for me because He did not enjoy nor did He savor the fact that His beloved child was entangled in a web of wickedness.

Jesus sacrificed for me out of His Great Love. He chose to overlook all my sins and instead covered all of them with His own blood. He didn’t ask me of my family or educational background; He did not ask me to explain my sins; He did not criticize me. Instead, He looked at me with so much compassion and love. And He has freely given Himself as the full payment and ransom to the enemy in exchange for my life.

It is written in the present tense of the verb. God’s love does not delight in evil. Now that I am His child through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He does not want me to continue gratifying my sinful and horrible nature. He has to cleanse me and prune me so I will remain in His love (John 15). He has to cut all of my connections with the darkness because He does not bask in the darkness.

Instead, He savors the light and He is light Himself. All my connections to darkness include my wounds of the past, my insecurities, my inferiorities, my negative thoughts, my malicious feelings, my scandalous emotions, my doubts, my envy, my jealousy, my lack of trust, my repulsive nature—all these and more He wants to separate from me as far as the east is from the west. He wants that He alone illuminates in me.

And now, He wants me to rejoice in the truth. Rejoice has several listed synonyms, including celebrate and remember. At this point of my life, Jesus is telling me to celebrate the forgiveness that He has given me, the Perfect Love that He is continuing to share with me. He wants me to exult and take pride in Him and Him alone. He wants me to accept His forgiveness with so much openness and be happy in His love and in nothing else.

Jesus also wants me to remember the truth—that I am His and He is mine; that He has called me by name (Isaiah 43:1), that He has erased all of my past sins and have completely forgotten about all of them. He wants me to live this truth that in Him, I have been given a new life, a life that must be spent wholly and completely abiding in Him. He wants me to keep in mind and learn by heart that because of His great love for me, He has defeated sin and the enemy. In times of temptations and enemy attacks, He wants me to bring to mind that I am fighting from His victory, that I will never lose because He has won the battle already. The battle belongs to Him!

He wants me and He needs me to say to the enemy the truth—that His sacrifice on the cross is more than enough, that the enemy is powerless to bring back my old sins on my mind because Jesus has separated all of them from me.

And at the end of it all, His love never fails. I may fall and falter, I will sin again, I will feel bad and be bitter in some days but because His love never fails, I am assured that I can fight all the aforementioned battles with Him in me. The enemy may attack but the Lord Jesus will always remain victorious. He will always be the victor, the winner.

How great is Jesus—my King and Savior! And as I finish writing this blog entry, I am so full of His love and I can proudly say that I am more and more in love with Him!

And I pray that as you read along, you have been blessed by my realizations. And I pray, that you, too, will get to experience the Greatest Love of all, the love of Jesus Christ!

On God's Purpose

I stumbled upon this site, on God's purpose, that is.

This is so timely.

Please click here to know more about the Greatest Love of All.

Be blessed! :-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No Longer I

            The apostle Paul eloquently said: “It is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me.”

            I want to say this too! Not in a whisper, not by my deathbed, not in hopelessness or in desperation, no, I want to say this in a victorious, happy, and rejoicing way, just as God had intended me to be. I want to say this not just once or twice but I want to say this in every moment of my life, in every area of my Christianity, in every square inch of my flesh.

            I am dead. My old self is gone. My old patterns of living have long been buried just as Jesus Christ died, was buried, and has defeated the enemy. I am clothed in new garments, not my own but that of Jesus Christ just as He was resurrected on the third day. God has purchased me from my reckless, imprudent, and sinful nature by the blood and body of Jesus Christ. His love covers all of my sins!

            But why do I live in defeat? Why do I keep on giving in to my temper, to my negative thoughts, to my guilt? Why do I always care about me and myself and constantly wallow in self-pity, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and all other methods of self-promotion?

            Because, I, just like the Israelites, is a forgetful person. I easily forget what Christ has done for me. I easily forget His mercy, His grace for which I am undeserving. I easily forget His power and His forgiveness. I am too preoccupied with self because I forget that there, in all His valor and majesty, my God is much, much greater than me.

            Eric Ludy wrote that when he compares himself to God, he always feels like a can of Diet Coke next to the highest building in the world. This is so true. But I always forget about this. Too many times in my life I felt like I am the Petronas Tower and God is a four-storey building. How wretched I am to ever think of this!

            And so, I am easily broken down when the enemy attacks. When it comes to temper and negative thoughts, I would easily yield to self rather than to Christ. In this area of my life, I am always vulnerable to defeat. And though this is not something to be proud of, I must admit that this has been my struggle for almost three years already.

            I need help. I need God’s help. I need the supernatural, extraordinary power of Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps. I want to rise above my own mediocre version of Christianity. I need the mighty valor of Jesus to rescue me and to rebuild the walls of fortification around my life, His Jerusalem.

I want to yield every square inch of my body to my King. I am His Kingdom and I know that He yearns to govern all aspects of my life.

Yet, I cannot do this on my own. I need Jesus Christ and He alone can rescue me out of this pit and make something beautiful out of this mess.

So, today and onwards, I embark on this journey to reclaim Jebus for my King and allow Him to transform it to Jerusalem. Today, by His grace, I will start remembering that it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me.

I want not just to know this in my mind or in my heart but to actually live this out in my life. I desire to make my King my all in all and in turn, give my all in all for Him.

So, I embark on this journey of wrestling prayer, asking the King of all kings, the Most High God, to enable me and equip me to do this. I will pray continually, relentlessly, unceasingly until my King reclaims this parcel of my life. I will not stop until by His grace, I am fully yielded to Christ and until the protestation of my self have been silenced.

Everything works for the good of those who believe in Him. I know this is possible by His grace. Only by His grace. Will you pray for me and with me, then?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Quake

"When these things begin to take place, 
stand up and lift up your heads, 
because your redemption is drawing near." ~Luke 21:28

I haven't experienced a major earthquake until now, save that one when I was in the fourth floor of the University Library of Ferris University in Yokohama late in the evening, ten years ago.

That was the most terrifying as I imagined all those tall pile of books burying me alive. Though looking back, it was a milder one, compared to what happened to Japan and the recent one in the Visayas part of the Philippines. What impressed it to me as real scary was the fact that it was my first bout with earthquakes. But soon, thereafter, I began to get used to it, as I had often awakened to earthquakes during my one-year stay there.

With the fact that Japan is a highly-advanced technological country and the assurance from my professors that most of the building are earthquake-friendly (they told me Japanese engineers and architects have devised a way to make buildings just sway and bounce during earthquakes, not shake and collapse), I had full trust that nothing bad will happen to the Land of the Rising Sun.

So imagine my shock and devastation when at the middle of a working afternoon, news scattered that a big tsunami hit Japan. And as I was browsing the Internet pictures of the magnitude and intensity of destruction, I was reminded with the song, God is the God of this City.

You see, I was already a Christian at that time. And I already know fully well that no matter how strong a country is by human standards, God is sovereign. And He can break that country and its people so their strength will no longer be on their own but on Him.

When the earthquake hit at around ten o'clock in the morning today, I was assisting the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Ministry Partner Training in Church. We had to stop for about ten minutes and soon thereafter, text messages came flooding, warning of a tsunami and more aftershocks.

But the training went on, well until five o'clock in the afternoon. God's purpose was accomplished and I was extremely and abundantly blessed to be part of it.

Going home, more and more scary images from Negros Oriental (the capital city, Dumaguete, is the city I consider as my second home) and more and more stories of fear and worry came from my family members. And as they went on, I chose to find solace in my own room, crying out to Jesus to spare us and give us another chance to repent and know Him.

It was in this moment of my conversation to Him that He led me to His verses in the Bible. Mark 4:35-41 narrates of how Jesus calmed an intense storm, just by the command of His mouth. And I found so much peace, comfort, and strength in the fact that this God I worship, this Jesus I consider as my Lord and Savior, is also the Lord and God of nature. The seas, the wind, the mountains and everything bow down to His commands. He is the Lord of all lords, King of all kings. Praise God!

Also, Luke 21 says that when signs in the moon, in the sun, and in the earth begin to appear, the coming again of Jesus Christ is near. We know that in His appointed time, all these things must happen to fulfill His perfect will.

As a Christian, I rejoice at the fact that I am going to meet my King soon. And all the more this encourages me (and to all Christians) to love and serve Jesus more and more and bring His gospel of salvation to every unbeliever that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

"When these things begin to take place, 
stand up and lift up your heads, 
because your redemption is drawing near." ~Luke 21:28