November 23, 2014

Body + Love

"With my body I thee worship."

So goes the old wedding vow.

But could that vow apply to singles too?

Or, more accurately, could we not apply that as humans relating to our God?
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."  
-- Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:19-20)

Loving God through the body He gave me.

Like everything else, our body is a gift that we can use or misuse. It's something we can develop or destroy. Maintenance takes effort, but it goes a long way to maximize what we've got. :)

"In Christ, there is no more condemnation."

Today, I had a lot of opportunities to work out. Which I did *not* take. Again. But the attitude is already there. And baby steps (back to working out, eating right)...

Let's go Lord! Life is too precious to waste. :)

My desktop right now ;)

November 10, 2014

Don't have much? Give, give, give

These days I feel like I don't have much. Not really zero balance, but getting there.

It really does feel like my net worth is five loaves and two fishes.

Remembering how Jesus fed a multitude:
He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”  
Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

So Philip was the math whiz. Knowing more is not always a good thing, because in this case, he knew how much they did not have.

But our Lord knows more, and can do more.
But this Jesus said to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He would do.

So He fed five thousand men, plus women and children. He provided so much food that twelve baskets of leftovers were collected after. 

I've heard this story many times that I need to let that sink in again.

Darn you, math skills. Not that math is bad, but our skills in the natural sciences may make it more difficult to trust in the supernatural. (Quick countermeasure: remembering the tangible goodness and greatness of God.)

It's not about what we have, but what we do with what we have.

It's not about what we have, but what we give.

The boy with the loaves and fishes obviously just had enough for himself. But he chose to give it to Jesus.

Jesus could have raised his eyebrows in contempt, or his voice in frustration. But Jesus chose to raise his eyes to heaven, and give thanks.

Jesus then gave the bread to the disciples, who could have eaten the food immediately. They could have insisted on their VIP rights, or said "we must be strong to serve you." But they chose to give it away.

Don't have much? Yes, that could be true. It's totally understandable if we choose to keep what little we have to ourselves.

But we could still give it to Jesus, give thanks, and give it away...

And watch the miracle happen. 
“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" 

Scriptures taken from: John 6:5-7, Mark 12:43-44, and Matthew 16:24-26



The week after I wrote this, the miracle!

So we can give more. And love God more by loving others more, financially and otherwise.

Thank You Lord. People say we can never outgive God. If you don't believe that, feel free to try ;) (Everybody wins!)

February 26, 2014

God's perfect will in an imperfect world

Some people expect God to bless their choice.
Others ask God for His choice, and expect to be blessed.

But first, a disclaimer!

There is no perfect person to marry,
no perfect job to take,
no perfect friend to hang out with.

To prove this, let's look at some examples of "perfection" and think of how unrealistic they are :)  (On the off-chance that you have all of these, congratulations! But I'd bet you still have a flaw, even just one...)

Wanted: Perfect Life

The Perfect Female Face 
according to Men (top) and Women (bottom)

The Perfect Day
work plan

If perfection is impossible, why bother looking around?

Because... we have a perfect God.

And He is calling us to be more like Him. 

Because He has a Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
and this is available to anyone and everyone who asks for it.

Because He reminds us to listen to Him instead of the foolish, self-serving norms of this world.

Because I'm not perfect,

but He is, and so is His will for me.


I am not perfect, and nobody else is. But I'm not going to marry the first Y-chromosome-carrier I see. Of all the billions of people in the world, not everyone would share my goals and my dreams. My future husband and I cannot build a life together if we cannot even agree. Yes, we can always decide and commit together as a couple. But it's much easier to live for what God is calling me to do, as a single, before embarking on a journey and a shared calling with a life partner. This way, I'm sure that I am living for God, first and foremost. 

And if I do get married, will it be because I want to, or because God wants to? There are many men (!) that I wanted for myself, but thank God He didn't answer my prayers. (Or, He answered with a resounding "No!")  I am NOT talking about somebody being superior or inferior... just a bad combination. Somebody could be a "really great girl", or "a man after God's own heart", but the union could still be a hindrance to one or both of them.

Love and marriage do not conquer all, but God does. I've seen friends who live for God yet cross continents to join their spouses, and that's great. I know others who, in living for God, decide to end their romantic relationship. I can say that's great too --- because they pursued God, regardless of where He would lead them, regardless if their hearts are broken.

And I know that His will is always good, pleasing and perfect. No man is perfect, no woman is perfect, but God will bless and purify the union of those who seek His blessing. But I do not have to wait for marriage to seek His blessing --- I can ask for His guidance now, and even His will in who to date and to marry :)

Recommended read:

"When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

--  Paul to the Romans


Unlike marriage, which is a lifelong commitment, looking for a job might be a little easier:

But if I am living for God, how will my priorities change? Specifically, what job should I look for, how well should I do that job, and what will I do with my spare time and extra income from that job?

Isn't this over-spiritualizing (or over-thinking)? After all, the Bible says:


So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God.
 -- Paul to the Corinthians

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, 

as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 
since you know that you will receive 
an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. 
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
-- Paul to the Colossians

Serve wholeheartedly,
as if you were serving the Lord, not people,
because you know that the Lord will reward each one
for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
-- Paul to the Ephesians

Okay, so do whatever, right? As long as it's for God.

That's just it. Not all things honor, glorify and please Him. If I work in a company that regularly engages in fraud and corruption, or if my work environment encourages or even requires immorality, should I continue working there?

Some people choose to stay and fight the good fight, to be that one little candle in that dark corner, to challenge, revolutionize and reform their place. Others leave for better pastures, that will help them help others better. Still, others make their own company, build them up from scratch with God as their cornerstone. I think all these actions glorify God, but it is up to each person to determine God's specific action plan for himself.

Of course, we work to buy the "basics": food, clothing, and shelter. Yet Jesus reminded us of our priorities: 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-- Jesus (The Gospel of Matthew)

The main driving force in my life, including my career, should be the spread of God's Kingdom -- His righteousness, truth, love, grace, peace, justice. He will provide the "basics". But He is calling us to work (literally) for more than that.

Recommended read:
"Lifework: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day" by Darrow Miller    
**This is a shorter version for free 

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come, Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread."

-- Jesus (The Gospel of Matthew)


Think of your best friend. The bestest friend you have ever had. Did you have at least one fight? Or at least one issue you disagreed on? Was there something that left you disappointed or even betrayed?

Thank God that He is our Perfect and Best Friend, our Rock, Rescuer, and Defender. 

Thank God because: 
  • He loved me in spite of my faults;
  • He forgave me before I asked;
  • He died in my place so justice would be served;
  • His Spirit is always available to transform me, to cleanse those faults, and to empower me to rise above them.

But God's commands boil down to these: 

Our life with God does not end with God. He should always be first and foremost, but loving Him means also loving the people He created --- including the least lovable people we know ;)

God loved us without waiting for us to be perfect. He calls us to do the same (and interestingly, He calls this "being perfect"):

“You have heard that it was said,

‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
 -- Jesus (The Gospel of Matthew)

But, like marriage and career, we need to choose wisely if we're looking for mutual, life-giving, healthy friendships.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
     “I will live with them and walk among them,
     and I will be their God and they will be my people.”
     “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.
     Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.”

-- Paul to the Corinthians

This might seem confusing. Let's backtrack: 

God created everyone and loves everyone, 
so we should love everyone too.
(If that's hard to do, think of your worst sin,
and how God already loved and forgave you for that. ♥ )

But when it comes to seeking advice, guidance, inspiration, responsibility and accountability, who will we go to? Shouldn't we go to the people who would encourage us to do right, and not wrong? Even (especially) when we are weak? 

And let us consider
how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another —
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
-- Letter to the Hebrews

Again, this is not looking down on (fellow) imperfect people, but just doing what is wise. If I am tempted to do drugs, should I get advice from a drug addict or a drug pusher? Of course not! I should get advice from (a) someone who has never struggled with that issue, or better yet, (b) someone who has struggled and overcome. How inspiring is that, and directly applicable to my own present issue!

Again, nobody is perfect, in our lives and relationships. We are called to love imperfect people perfectly. But if I know that someone is walking with God, then I have more confidence that I can walk with him too: same Way, same goal.

Recommended read:

"What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey
** This is a related study guide for free

Stop Looking Around

How easy it is for us to use "I'm not perfect" as an excuse to continue doing wrong. Being an imperfect, flawed sinner is an explanation but never an excuse. Instead of wallowing in the mud of our faults, or slinging that mud to others, we can simply ask the one and only perfect God for help. He will never disappoint.
I have a challenge for you: to stop looking around for perfection; and to seek God, the only One who is perfect. We become who we follow. When we seek God, we become more like Him --- still with human flaws and no divine powers, but we can mirror His character and be His agents of blessing, power, grace, love and truth in this world.

First, first, first, our focus should be on God. Oh, how perfect!

But as we live in this fallen world, we join God on His quest to redeem and restore this world, one good deed at a time. Perhaps we do seek perfection, impossible though it may be. But we have God as our Author and our Finisher, and with Him, all things are possible.

God's will is good, pleasing and perfect. The more we seek HIS will to be done, the more we will encounter His Kingdom --- on earth, as in Heaven.

Recommended read:
"The Bible" by God :) 

As for God, His way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
He shields all who take refuge in Him.

-- Psalm 18 

Not my will but Yours be done.

-- Jesus to God the Father

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
-- Proverbs

1366x768 Perfect Me

February 10, 2014

Bad Eye Day

This week I have an infected lower eyelid. Last week it was the upper lid of my other eye. I'd love to show some pictures but, let's keep those disturbing images to ourselves  ;)

So what's the cause? Allergies? Fatigue? Malnutrition (!) ?


Filipino folklore says a person gets an eyelid cyst or sty from peeping around. So I'm already used to someone cracking that joke when they see me with a "bad eye". Then I'll come up with a witty retort...

But these past few days I do feel God drawing me gently towards Him again. Thank God I still feel Him. Thank God He does not let go but He does not force anyone to love Him either.

I've been busy. But that's not an excuse. One's hands can be busy but still have a heart, mind, and soul connected to God, our One True Love. It's humbling to admit that I have to be "forced" to STOP moving, to experience the lack of joy in going after anything else, before turning back to Him. 

I had to apologize, and I need to claim His forgiveness. 

"Your eye is the lamp of your body. 
When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. 
But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 
Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, 
it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you."
--- Jesus  (Luke 11:34-36)

Ultimately, God the Son says we just have to do two things: Love God, and love one another. This season, both my relationship with God and with others needed a major reboot.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven... 
For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
--- Jesus  (Luke 6:37,38)

I've heard the above passages many times and really taken them to heart. I think. Lately I've been seeing more of the depths of my evil nature, which makes my physical condition a very appropriate (ironic? sublime? gentle? funny?) reflection of my spiritual condition.

Continuing from the same passage above:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye

and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye,
and then you will see clearly
to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
--- Jesus  (Luke 6:41-42)

These days my eyes burn with tears, and it's not because of the dust around me. I'm filled with shame and sorrow for the filth inside of me.

But tears cleanse and purify.

On my way home tonight, I was surprised at how CRISP and clear my vision was. I still had my cyst, and that offensive nature... but I can see much clearer now.

"For judgement I have come into this world,
so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind...
If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin;
but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

 --- Jesus  (John 9:39,41)

For some people, it might seem like a miracle to be finally made aware of their own sins! (*Ouch!*) But it's still not enough. There is no use realizing you're on the wrong way of a one-way road, if you don't do anything about it.

"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness,
we lie and do not live out the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, 

we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
If we claim we have not sinned,
we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us."

--- John  (1 John 1:5-10)

To have healthy eyes, they must be kept clean. Feed them with the right nutrients. Don't make them suffer in darkness; keep them in the light.

Take care of your eyes and they will keep on showing you the truth about your surroundings, and even about yourself.

And now, to take care of my eyes by going to sleep. Good Night!

January 11, 2014

Heaven, Hell and In-Between? (On purgatory)

Yesterday, I was talking to two colleagues about sin and faith. We're all scientists and teachers (!) so we just delve right into theology, history, and philosophy with mouths that move almost as fast as our brains. (Wow I'm so humble. :p )

What we're learning from each other is great enough. But even better is that there's an atmosphere of mutual respect and just an eagerness to understand God better to live more fully for Him. :)  Awesome. And there is an appreciation for how this same God moves in different groups and cultures to draw all people to Himself. Indeed He is real and He is simply the Greatest. ♥

So this morning the discussion continued via email, focusing on purgatory. I'm reposting my reply below because I hope it will help shed some light on what Jesus' life, death and resurrection means for us today, especially in our (Philippine) culture. 


Hi bros!

Yes ---, it's refreshing to talk to you and --- yesterday. One God and One Spirit indeed. After our talk I was inspired to tweet and post this :)

All human institutions are prone to error. But nothing is beyond God's saving, redeeming Power, Truth and Love. #OneGod

Before anything else, I'll just take back what I said yesterday, careless words ---  about venial vs. mortal sins as determination whether one lands in purgatory or hell. I don't believe in purgatory so I just carelessly said that. Sorry, my mistake.

Starting question / Food for thought: The concept of purgatory --- when did it start being taught?


I'll comment on this point:  
"Some Fundamentalists also charge, as though it actually proved something, "The word purgatory is nowhere found in Scripture." This is true, and yet it does not disprove the existence of purgatory or the fact that belief in it has always been part of Church teaching. The words Trinity and Incarnation aren’t in Scripture either, yet those doctrines are clearly taught in it."

The concept of purgatory is not only unmentioned in the Bible, it is in conflict with what the Bible explicitly teaches. Christ says that on Judgment Day, he will separate the sheep and the goats (either you're in or you're out) (Matthew 25:31-46). He also gave the parable of a poor man named Lazarus who died and went to heaven, while a rich man died and was sent to hell. The rich man requested Abraham for some water, and Abraham said "...between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." (Luke 16:26).

Jesus is the only one who can and already saved us from hell. Upon being saved, indeed we are now being sanctified and are growing in Christlikeness. Indeed, no follower of Christ suddenly becomes perfect like God, but isn't it great that we are improving, becoming more like Him, even in this life, before we die?

Questions: Is perfection a requirement to eternal life? How do we attain this perfection? Wouldn't this just point us back to Christ and the cross? Nobody is perfect, everybody is sinful, we all need a Savior. Even when we follow Christ we are still imperfect sinners, but what can purgatory do that Jesus has not already done? (Why not just go back and claim Jesus' forgiveness for all the sins I have done today?)


I'll also comment on this point:
"After all, if a guilty soul is merely "covered," if its sinful state still exists but is officially ignored, then it is still a guilty soul. It is still unclean."

Is this implying that Jesus' death and resurrection are not enough? Let's be careful now! 

"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" --- John the Baptist (John 1:29,36), also according to Old Testament prophecies

Yesterday we were talking about consistency which points to authenticity. I respect the authority of the Catholic Church (!) but again, let us look into the consistency of this teaching. When I trusted Jesus as my Savior, I let Him save me by His taking the punishment for my sins. That means I am saved, covered, and yes, clean. That's my belief, based on my understanding of the Bible. I'll explain below. If there is disagreement, let's talk about it (find time! :) ).

Many times Jesus told people, "Your sins are forgiven... You are healed... Today you will be with me in paradise." Period. Jesus never said, "You need a period of purging first." It's just yes or no. Even when He charged Peter and the apostles (which I know Catholics love to quote!) --> "Everything you bind on earth will be bound in heaven... Everything you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18) It's yes or no. In or out. He never said maybe, and He never taught it.

It's true that Jesus sometimes told people to do something (ex: go wash in the pool, or show themselves to the priests), and we can argue that their healing and/or salvation is conditional. (That might be a longer discussion for another time.) But my point here is, there's no maybe. Either they were healed or not. Either Jesus assured them of heaven (like the thief beside Him on the cross), or not. Yes or no.


So, can we just view this present life as purgatory?

Indeed, nobody attains perfection when they get baptized, pray a particular prayer, do this or that. Nobody becomes a Christian and suddenly achieves perfection. Essentially, every moment we are being called to be more Christlike --- so I think non-Catholic Christians just (implicitly) see this present life as purgatory... only in the sense that one is walking with Christ and becoming "more" like Christ (thereby being "better and implicitly "more" perfect...?)

But non-Catholic Christians (I'll call NCC?) don't really perceive perfection as a goal, because it implies "I want to be like God" which is both impossible and dangerously idolatrous (like Satan tempting Eve). And NCC don't view death as the moment when you achieved perfection such that you may already "graduate". So that's where the analogy of this life and purgatory ends. (Well, it's not really an issue for NCC, but I'm just trying to apply the concept of sanctification here...)


To summarize: Humans are imperfect and sinful and all deserve eternal punishment for our sins, which means hell. We cannot save ourselves because no one (human) is good enough. Only Jesus, fully God and fully man, can take our place and receive our punishment such that we can also receive His righteousness. For all my sins (past present and future), I can receive my just punishment (hell or eternal existence away from God), or I can let God save me (receive Jesus as my Savior, that He died in my place so I can receive His righteousness). 
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:23-26)

As you quoted "nothing unclean shall enter heaven", in the same way that "no one can see God's face and live " (Exodus 33:20). And people who become Christian are still imperfect and prone to sin. But these all just point back to Christ as the solution: not just for our salvation but also for our redemption and sanctification: 
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he'd made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

So Christians are not perfect, only cleansed, forgiven, and *continuously* being sanctified to be more like Christ. We can call this sanctification a "purging", but the formal Catholic definition of purgatory (a state of purification before entering Heaven) is not what the Bible teaches (each person has an eternal destiny, either with God in Heaven or away from God in Hell; with no middle way or in-between state).


Thank you guys for hearing me out! :) Thank God I was able to read this message (--- sends a lot, I just couldn't get to read them!). And thank you for listening.

God bless, and see you next week ^_^

Your sis in Christ,

Teci :)