May 28, 2012

The Way of the Brave

In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you.
I won't give up on you;
I won't leave you.
Strength! Courage!
    - God (The book of Joshua)

It's Monday... and one week to go before I go back to being a teacher and erstwhile-graduate-student.

So help me God, I will be brave.


Being brave means:
  • taking responsibility for myself instead of blaming others;
  • looking at the big picture and planning ahead;
  • doing what I love and loving what I do;
  • being unperturbed as I look towards the goal; and
  • just putting that foot out already!

As a believer of Christ, being brave boils down to continuing to believe in Him. The war is already won; the victory is already assured! The only question is whose side we are on. :)

Interestingly, the BibleGateway Verse of the Day (found as a widget on the upper right side of this blog) reads:

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)

In obeying God I am often overwhelmed or discouraged. Lord, please remind me that it is YOUR strength and power that enables me to live for You. Then it would be quite easy to be brave.

May 22, 2012

Blessing, not sorrow

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
and comes down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 
- James 1:17

Yesterday afternoon I listed down what I need as a working graduate student, the things I want and the things I don't want. Less than 24 hours later, I am staying in a new place that fit my qualifications. Actually, it was even the first option I checked out.

When God blesses, He blesses. I am reminded of Proverbs 10:22. The passage is rendered in several translations below:

God's blessing makes life rich;
nothing we do can improve on God.
(The Message)

The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.
(New King James Version)

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
(New International Version)

This doesn't mean we should just bum around while expecting to get rich and famous. God places value on our work and its well-earned rewards. But "blessing" means "gift" --- pure unadulterated goodness. Thank You God for "all the good and perfect gifts" You shower upon us. May we use them well. :)

And in case you were wondering: that's neither me nor the view from my window... but the sentiments are the same ^_^  Thank You God :)

May 21, 2012

Truth hurts but...

"The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, 
but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies."
- Proverbs 27:6

The truth often hurts.
The "proper" or "gracious" manner can only do so much.
Thankfully, the truth also sets us free.

May 19, 2012

The Memoirs of a Wedding Guest


Tonight caps  my "three-weddings-in-one-week" adventure. What have I learned?

* God will provide --- from money for a wedding (if it's His will), to someone to marry in the first place (again, if it's His will).

* I am honored to be invited to each friend's/relative's/co-worker's wedding: one of the most special days in their lives. To witness, to pray for, to share joy in. It is a privilege.

* Surprisingly, I feel no bitterness. I'm single and will be 30 in two months. Society dictates I should be panicking by now (and dating around instead of... *blogging*). But, it's OK. I'm walking with God and He's in control; He knows best.

* "There is no more condemnation for those in Christ."  No more manipulation, guilt tripping, emotional blackmail, playing on insecurities, and defrauding. No more abuse. "All good things come from the Father." God-centered relationships are not perfect, of course, but may we recognize (and take action) if we are in a relationship that does us more harm than good. I would rather be single than in a relationship that displeases God and people. Well, prayer answered / wish granted --> I'm single now.

* I love people! These three weddings enabled me to hang out with three different sets: churchmates, family, and co-teachers. In particular, I love what my married co-teachers said: It's not about age, background, status.. It's about God, and who He'll send. Just pray. Wow. Amen.

* May the guests not just partake of the wedding; may they support the marriage too, for better or worse.

* I love food. I've said before that my goal for this year (and how many years before?) was to develop "the Spirit of self-control". Hmm. Tomorrow I'll exercise na, promise. ;)

* I'm looking forward to my own wedding, God-willing. Our Lord Jesus tells us that if we ask according to His will, He hears and answers. It turns out I still have a lot to learn about God's will, but on the plus side, at least I'm learning.

* Lastly, I should look forward to each day, single or not, approaching my wedding or not. "This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." There is a command to rejoice; it is an act of faith for those who wish their lives could be different. But God is good and great. Let's remember, and trust, and live each day to the full. Attend a wedding even.

May 16, 2012

No fear, only love :)

Since yesterday, I've had this urge to get a Venti (largest) Starbucks frappucino. My favorite is Dark Mocha, but they're featuring a new flavor, Cookie Crumble.

I'm not rich: I work for every centavo I get. Neither am I brand-conscious: I'm just as happy with a four-peso Nescafe instant coffee sachet.

My Starbucks cravings would appear to be an extravagant luxury, and that's actually the point: This is my date with God.

Disclaimer 1: Every now and then I check my heart if I'm just using God as an excuse.
Disclaimer 2: Of course, God can speak to us at any time and any place.
Disclaimer 3: The Bible reminds us that obedience (a flexible heart) is more important than sacrifice (an inflexible ritual).

Having said those, there are moments when I feel that He has something to say, and that I better be all eyes-ears-and-heart-ready. Like yesterday. I was thinking, Lord, You can talk to me here and I don't have to go to a coffee shop, right? But again, that's part of the point. Not that Starbucks is a holier place than the metro train or our living room, but it's probably because I have to be really out of my comfort zone, doing nothing but listening to Him.

This morning, around noon, I finally got up, ordered the new Cookie Crumble frap (venti please!), and sat down.

And listened.

Perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18)

Love extravagantly. Live generously. (1 Corinthians) 

Love  <--->  Eternal Life
Hate  <--->  Murder
(1 John 3:14-15) 

My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love
     Shut down debilitating self-criticism (even if there's some truth to it)
God is greater than our worried hearts
     and knows more about us than we do ourselves
We're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves
     We're bold and free before God!

We're able to stretch our hands out
     and receive what we asked for
     because we're doing what He said,
     doing what pleases Him
          ==> Believe in Jesus Christ
          ==> Love each other
As we keep His commands,
     we live deeply and surely in Him
     and He lives in us.
And this is how we experience His deep and abiding presence in us:
     by the Spirit He gave us.
(1 John 3:18-24)

My dear friends,
     don't believe everything you hear.
Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you
     Not everyone who talks about God comes from God
     There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
(1 John 4:1)

Let us continue to love each other
      since love comes from God
Everyone who loves
      is born of God
     and experiences a relationship with God.
(1 John 4:7-8)

If we love one another, God dwells deeply within us
     and His love becomes complete in us --- perfect love!
(1 John 4:12)

To love, to be loved (1 John 4:17-21)
God is love.
When we take up permanent residence in a life of love,
     we live in God and God lives in us.
This way, love has the run of the house,
     becomes at home and mature in us,
      so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day ---
      our standing in the world is identical with Christ's.
There is no room in love for fear.
     Well-formed love banishes fear.
     Since fear is crippling, a fearful life
     --- fear of death, fear of judgment ---
     is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love --- love and be loved.
     First we were loved, now we love.
     He loved us first.
If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating..., he is a liar.
The command we have from Christ is blunt:
     Loving God includes loving people.
     You've got to love both.

May 15, 2012

Not always reasonable“After Anunciation”
Madeleine L'Engle 

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.


Underground Warfare

Here's a journal entry of a man in deep spiritual warfare. From the book "Fight" by Kenny Luck.

December 9, 2006

"It was a hot LZ [landing zone; military term]. I never stopped firing. I prayed for the destruction of the building by an earthquake as an event that would speak to this people about God's displeasure and create an openness to a witness of the gospel. I claimed every life I encountered for Jesus, every wood beam, and every brick. Alan and I acted like we were pointing and commenting when, in fact, we were praying warfare prayers. I have never seen this kind of paganism, and yet Jesus was with Alan and me. We could sense His presence and covering like Daniel and his friends did in the flames of the fiery furnace.

"We prayed against all powers, thrones, principalities, and evil raised up in this place against the knowledge of God. We prayed against the lies and bondage of these precious ones of God (“Woe to those who make My little ones stumble”). We asked for the destruction of all images and idols. We asked for God's kingdom to come. We asked for God to set these captives at our feet free. We prayed the Scripture from John 17:3: “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” We prayed for every cacique's [local mob boss'] mind and for the destruction of strongholds and patterns of thought. We prayed for miraculous signs that would cut through culture and communicate God's power like nothing else. We declared the drunken before us for Jesus and not for evil, that they would drink a new wine of the Holy Spirit. 

"We prayed the Scripture. We prayed truth. We prayed in His mighty Name."

May 11, 2012

Life can be good again

Get Well Soon! 

"Slowly, with many lost days, I come back to life.
I try to follow Dr. Aurelius' advice, just going through the motions,
amazed when one finally has meaning again.

"We seal the pages with salt water 
and promises to live well to make their deaths count.

"What I need is the dandelion in the spring.
The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.
The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.
That it can be good again."

- Katniss Everdeen, Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3)   

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today:
I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. 
Choose life so that you and your children will live. 
And love God, your God, listening obediently to Him, firmly embracing him. 
Oh yes, He is life itself, 
a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors.
- Moses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

May 10, 2012

It's what GOD does for us

Excerpts from Romans 12, The Message version:

Embracing what God does for you
is the best thing you can do for Him

Fix your attention on God.
You'll be changed from the inside out.

Readily recognize what He wants from you,
and quickly respond to it.

God brings out the best out of you,
develops well-formed maturity in you.

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace,
it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God.
No, God brings it all to you.

The only accurate way to understand ourselves
is by what God is and what He does for us,
not by what we are and what we do for Him.

May 9, 2012

For my mom :)

I'm so thankful to God for my mother. We just had a 51-minute phone conversation last night. (I'm also thankful for the Sun phone network :D )

She endured my outbursts, analyzed my explanations, and spoke truth to me bravely but graciously.

Celebrating Mothers' Day couldn't be more timely.

May 5, 2012

Build up the kids, you build up the future :)

The constructive approach is constructive; the destructive/punitive approach is destructive.

This is a very good read whether you're in the academe or not. It explores the psychological, emotional, and biological effects of constructive education:

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

“If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, you’re going to have a much harder time concentrating in school and being able to complete your work.”  

“We tell our kids we love them. They’re important to us.”

“When students understand they’re not responsible for the family they were born into, but they are responsible for who they will become as adults, and when they can see the power in that, it’s just amazing what happens.” 

"We accept them for who they are. Their future is more important than their past.” 

"One of the keys has been a staff that embraces two basic concepts: toxic stress prevents kids from learning, and moving from a punitive approach to a supportive, educational approach changes behavior. Gordon says it’s also the unconditional love that the teachers at Lincoln High show the kids on a regular basis."

May 3, 2012

When you find that love ^_^

Reposting from my grade school (!) classmate Renee:

It's been three years since we first said "I do." So far, here's what I've learned: romance is a flame that blazes and then burns out, but love is a river that runs quiet and deep. It approaches obstacles and doesn't flinch. It flows around, underneath and through, and when there's no other way, it makes canyons out of mountains to get to the ocean. And this is how you know you've found love; it looks you in the eye and sees all that you are, and doesn't flinch. It challenges you to be a better person, not for its own selfish gain but for your own, and for all whose lives touch yours. It finds a way through everything, and it knows no difficulty too great, no wound too deep, no pride too high to find its way back to you. When you find that love, you say "I do," and you keep saying "I do" every single day, for as long as you both shall live.

Happy anniversary,
Ray Maranan, my husband, best friend and partner in everything. It's been so much fun being married to you, but the greatest joy has been to know that no matter where I am in life or how far I drift to find my dreams, I can find, flow or fight my way back to you and know that you will always do the same for me. Here's to a lifetime of finding ourselves and finding each other. ♥

(Awww. :)  )

May 2, 2012

The Fundies of Love

Yes, this is funny :)

Christians (currently aka Fundies or Fundamentals) have been known to hate, hurt and even kill in the name of God. If we are strict about God's commands (including those on idolatry and homosexuality) --- we should remember that these boil down to (1) loving God and (2) loving your neighbor.
If we speak the truth about what pleases God and what disgusts Him... do we speak it in love for the hearers' sake? Or do we speak it in love for ourselves, in disgust of "others", and overall self-righteousness?

If we talk about God's judgment at the end of days, do we also talk about the Son that sets us free?

If we bombard people with accounts of hell, do we also give them glimpses of heaven?

There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Sometimes, we share the "Good News" by focusing on the "Bad News" --- that one is a wretched sinner. Guess what: the sinner probably already knows the problem. Why not focus on the solution: talk more about God Himself?

Love does not mean tolerating or condoning the evil actions of the beloved. But true love goes the extra mile to help the loved one. Jesus left heaven to restore us. If we are already saved, what have we been doing?

Start and end the week right

Does your week go something like this?


First things first... and last. 

"Begin the first day in holy worship;
don't do any regular work on that day.
Conclude the seventh day in holy worship;
don't do any regular work on that day."
       --- Numbers 28:18,25 (The Message version)

"On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
...On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work."
       --- Numbers 28:18,25 (New International Version)

Is this where we got Saturday and Sunday as "week-ends"? For the ancient Israelites, one day was actually their week-end and the other the week-start. Still, I usually just see both as rest days at the end of my week, if my work even ended at all.

Do we do this? Worship God first, and last too, for the week? How about for the day? Perhaps if we're feeling particularly pious (or need something really bad), this could be how we start and end our year...

Let's remember our priorities. First Person first... and last.... and all throughout our days.

May 1, 2012

Labor Day prayer :)

May we all find work that 

gives us the deepest fulfillment, 

blesses those around us, 

and provides for our needs and wants. 

Amen. :)

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men."
(Colossians 3:23)

Stand for God by kneeling

Standing up for God by falling on his knees. Hats off to American Idol finalist Colton Dixon. :)

This, his swan song, was the first time I heard him sing. May he always sing for God's glory :)

P.S. This is his rendition of "Everything" by Lifehouse.