Do Not Fear the Future, Thomas

I had been meaning to write something about how September greeted me with so many unexpected things in life since Day 1. But much to my chagrin, I wasn’t able to sit down face-to-face with this white blank page until today.

To summarize what’s the fuzz in my mind about: I am just overwhelmingly grateful of how the Big Guy favored me in the most unexpected time in my most unguarded moment.

If you ever heard about the disciple named Thomas, you might actually heard about me: the Doubter. I am a person who doubts a lot – mostly, the subject of all my doubts is myself. I got this very low regard with my capabilities as an individual; I tend to focus more on what I might fail to do or what I might actually done wrong to a perfect situation. I’ve come to learn that that’s not humility. Whenever we say, I can’t do this or I don’t know how to do that, we really are hindering all the possibilities where God can intervene in our lives. Sometimes, when doubt just pops out a big CAUTION: This might be dangerous for you, it is strongly suggested for you not to continue – we just freeze and we just want to stay where we are comfortable. Fear takes over. Doubt is eating up on Hope, every second that it counts.

Last month, I was really at the edge of my seat wanting to dive in my sea of worries. And I did so, because I lost heart like losing a battle I’m itching to win. That particular Friday, I became emotional, too emotional, that I cried to God to ask Him what does He want from me because I believe I gave it my all and all I wanted is some consolation – what about what I want, for a change? Selfish little brat that I am, I did ask that.

I wanted to explore a new field. I already proclaimed it with all conviction that I’ll be in one on September. And then doubt came in halfway August and I panicked. How can I possibly enter September with new beginnings if the company I’m applying for – the company which my mother told me to try – haven’t been in contact with me after two days? Spell #atat. LOL. (Now that I’m looking back, it was actually funny that I think they won’t ever consider getting me since they haven’t given me a text, call or email…and it was only two days passed!!!) That day, I seriously accepted the fact that they won’t ever regard me. See what our emotional hormones can do?

I was discussing all my drama to the Lord and just before I dwell deeper into the quicksand of paranoia and worry, a text message came in. Guess what the message was about? Yup, it’s God telling me, Why are you in such a hurry? Have you forgotten that everything is under my control? because the company already came in contact with me and told me that I am scheduled for an exam and interview the following week.

In that week, I finally surrendered all my doubts. I prayed to God that if the job really is for me, He’ll make way; if it’s not, I prayed that He’ll bless my heart whatever the decision may be. I will not elaborate point-per-point how everything unfold the way it did. All I know was, the Lord backed me up big time. Meaning, He approved of me getting it and so I did. Everything went smoothly by God’s grace! True enough, what I proclaimed September to be, it happened.

After getting the job, another set of doubt – actually, fear – came in. Since I’m getting myself in a new field, I’m fully aware that it’s different from what (some) people will expect from me. I’m afraid that they’ll judge me. Some of them – I saw through their actions and words – seemed to think through on my decision, assessing if I’m doing the right one. I know that they are just concerned, but that kind of quiet pressure, made me doubt my decision to explore this new field too. And I remembered that I prayed about this, the Lord gave His answers clear. I need not to worry.

You see, we all are in varying stages or phases in our lives where we are choosing what we want to be, where we want to be. To tell you honestly, I don’t know where I wanted to be and what I want to become, yet. If others are sure that they wanted to be teachers, accountants, doctors, writers, musicians, etcetera; all I wanted – as of this moment – was to be an explorer of life: to do things with my heart, to feel the world in my hands. I swear, I see nothing wrong with that. I think it’s beautiful to enjoy the voyage when you haven’t got a clue where you are headed. At least for me, that’s the case.

Although I fear the future, calculating if my decisions will benefit me in the long run, I have come to realize that I don’t have to, because the Lord has promised to be with me wherever I go.

And as for my Doubt,

Doubt was cool. Doubt was predictable. It broke my heart a lot less. But over time, that changed and I realized that all doubt really did was stifle truth. I am always grateful for that. There are big things out there for each of us. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just believe.

-Isabel Garcia

Take that! Lol

Instead of Fear, I’ll choose to Hope. Hope always lets you believe that you can fly and it has always been a liberating feeling touching the clouds.

There’s a lot to learn in this new expedition. I pray that the Lord will give me Courage to face the calmness of the sea, as well as its rages. For the now, let’s take heed of my September Moodboard (yes, it’s back!!!): Do Not Fear the Future :)

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Connected Ka Ba? #afterthoughts

Despite the heavy rain and traffic, I braved Ortigas last Tuesday because I needed to get my hands on this new book written by one of my coolest OJT Supervisors back in ISACC days: Sir Rei Lemuel Crizaldo! Woot woot! Yes, my dear friends, I’m one of the firsts to have had witnessed this book in flesh before the Manila International Book Fair 2013 opened yesterday and before this book’s formal launch on Saturday at 1pm at OMF Literature’s booth at MIBF (make sure you’ll have the time to go there because the author will be there to sign your very own copies of his book)!

Several months ago, I heard that Sir Rei would be writing a book about prayer. Initially, I thought: why prayer? I honestly think that this wouldn’t be something that most people my age might be interested in, unlike love stories, sci-fi, novels and such. But kudos to his courage, I definitely salute what he had done in the book!

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The book is entitled Connected Ka Ba? (How to Pray Kahit Lo-batt Ka Na) which only contains 93 pages worth of read. It is very light that you could finish it in a matter of 1 (if you’re a fast reader) to 2.5 (or a slow one, like me) hours. The number of pages and the hours you’re going to read it doesn’t equate to the insights that you may gain or may be enlightened about as you go through the book. Not only that, I promise you that it’s enjoyable. I never thought Sir Rei had this sense of humor. Haha! There were parts that made me laugh and say to myself: Oo nga, noh? In all fairness with this book, #mahusay.

At the early discussions in it, I was glad to see a familiar name being quoted. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a Marshall McLuhan being quoted on a particular book outside your readings back in College. As a Communication Research graduate, McLuhan played a vital role in all of my exams back in my very first year-first semester in College. So, seeing him in the book gives me a jolt of joy like bumping with an old friend across a street in a city you haven’t been to. Lol. Babaw.

Anyways, according to McLuhan: We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Technology has unleashed its power of changing the way we view our world, especially when it comes to social media. Nowadays, everybody gets connected easily. We are the children of the digital age where Facebook comes second after brushing our teeth in the morning. The book tackled the reality of how convenient we think it would be for us if we were to find God in these social media applications we are so hyped about. Maybe then, praying would be easier. Maybe then, we could not just guess what God is telling us since He could directly comment on our status or PM us whenever He wanted to say anything or whenever He wanted to answer all our questions and requests. E di sana, ang dali ng buhay!

I love how the book reminded me that prayer is always personal. That each of us got different styles when it comes to praying – some sing it, dance it, write it, talk to God about it, being silent, staring at the ceiling like gazing stars at the top of a mountain, etcetera. It varies for every person. The book integrated how our culture as Filipinos somehow affects the way we behave when it comes to praying. Since we Filipinos have this ability to comprehend non-verbal actions impeccably, we also express ourselves non-verbally – if we can’t say what we want, we act it out. And yet, no two Filipinos pray the exact same way. It is a beauty to witness that even when we’re very similar, we are also very different.

“…Alam niyang sapat na kahit ang buntong-hininga para maipa-abot sa Diyos anuman ang laman ng kanyang kalooban.”

And even when we are different, the Lord just understands each of us perfectly. I love it! Shows you that the God we serve is not a puny God., right?

The book is honest in a way that it says how our motives and actions have consequences in our prayer life. You know how sometimes we harbor sin in our hearts and that hinders God from hearing us? This is one of the things I fear, that God won’t hear me because I let myself be covered with sin. That doesn’t mean to say that God is angry at us when we sin, He is angry at sin and He loves us so greatly that Forgiveness is always waiting in the wings. We just have to choose it. When we confess and let go of our most treasured sin, He is faithful and just to hear our petitions.

“Don’t worry. Hindi naman maramot ang Diyos sa pag-scan at pag-delete sa mga kasalanang nagagawa natin.”

What’s more overwhelming is that not only He hears us when we call but God wanted His children to call Him, Father. Nux, close na close!

“…Sa madaling salita, hindi ka basta-basta lalapit sa Diyos na makapangyarihan at kabanal-banalan. Pero binaliktad ito ni Jesus. Sabi Niya chill lang tayo. Let’s call the Lord, ‘Dad.’

Therefore, if He’s our Dad and we are His children, we don’t only ask from Him, we also need to listen to what He has to say about whatever it is that we are going through, right? Prayer is communication – we speak, we listen. Most times, just like many of us, I tell the Lord all I wanted to say and I intentionally forget to listen to what He has to say about me. It’s like He hasn’t responded yet but I already put the phone down. We work that way, we are creatures of convenience. Sometimes, we think that the Lord is not giving us answers, that He’s just not there when we need Him when we were the ones who can’t bear His answers we could find in silence.

“Prayer is when you realize and take God as your environment. He is always there, always speaking. It is a matter of paying attention.”

I love that the book doesn’t just discuss how we pray for ourselves but the need for us to pray for other people. It is called interceding for others. I liked how the book said this:

“Sa mata ng Diyos, hindi rin tama ang manalangin para sa sarili lang natin. Dahil ang lahat ng bagay ay magkakaugnay, mararapat lang na ang lahat ng tao ay marunong makiramay.

There are a lot of insights that I got from the book but my ultimate favorite was the realization that prayer is our life, it is the way we live. When we pray more, we depend on God more. Thus, our relationship with Him grows intimately. Whatever we do could be an act of prayer, an act of full dependence to that Someone we call Father. I think it is super nice to know that even God is an Almighty, He desires a relationship with us – a nobody. And for that, I am grateful.

Prayer is, indeed, an exciting journey after all. :)

You Can’t Box It In

When events in our lives are unfolding the way it should, it’s so easy to praise God — feeling all His favors pouring on us like pixie dusts. But when events unravel the other way around a.k.a. the unexpected this-is-not-how-it-suppose-to-happen-ever way, do we still see God’s favor like rain — showering on us in the desert of chaos? Are we ever still grateful?

Last night in our DGroup, our discipleship leader asked us: what comes to your mind when you hear the word “favor?

I would want to formulate some smart answer as what I always intend to do to look smart in front of people (haha, and rarely succeeding at it ((read: never))) but she already called my attention to respond to the question (talk about, God doesn’t always want you to think that you should always be smart in answering questions — “It’s not a beauty pageant anyways; we’re just here spending Quality Time and it’s appreciated for you to answer truthfully.” — I can hear Him speak to my pride in my mind HAHA). So, what I told them was the first thing that I always feel with the word, and well yes, favor for me is like grace – something that is given to me which I really don’t deserve most of the time. Other words that came up in the discussion include favor being a blessing and a gift.

Then my DGroup leader gave some definitions of favor in reference to her notes, I was able to write some favorite points:

Favor is God’s goodness given to a person’s life, to which it’s only God who can get the credit.

Favor is a relationship with God of great confidence where no matter what, you know that with God, you will always end up on top.

Favor is the acceptance, approval and assistance of God awarded to us in the finish work of Jesus.

In different stories from the Bible, we’ll see how our Lord favors His people — there’s Abraham who became the father of all nations; Sarah who bore a child at a tender age and despite the fact that she’s barren (imagine that!); Jonah who was eventually thrown out from the insides of a whale; Daniel who was spared in the lion’s den; Joseph who was once a slave and became a king; David who battled Goliath (we all know this story); Gideon who was the timid and shy and yet considered a warrior in God’s sight; Paul who once a persecutor of Christians then became a servant of Jesus, reaching out to so many people and building so many ministries; etcetera etcetera. Then there was our dear friend, Mary, the virgin who gave birth to Jesus. Then there was Jesus who chose to suffer death on the cross for all of us. Amazing these favors from God are!

Every so often, though, our visions of these favors are limited when it comes to facing unbearable circumstances in our lives. When trials come gate crashing our mini-parties of happiness and just drenching every positive molecule of our being, sometimes we think the favors of God are nowhere. Have we ever learned to thank God when everything’s going great and when everything’s going not so?

You see, trials are also God’s way in wrapping up our favors for us. The problem is, we never really wanted to take those final exams even when we were in school – afraid of stress and failure. We always wanted a carefree life where we can chill to the max with good friends and good music as company. But we need those trials – our character is being molded and the power of God in our lives is revealed through it. More so, when we surpass it, it’s incredible how God polished us all throughout. We just need to persevere, after when the finals are done, here comes the summer break, or even, the graduation – where we can get enough time to bum before proceeding to our next stage in life a.k.a when trials will come pouring in again in metric tons.

As we continued to discuss favor, we were asked to examine our lives and share the most wonderful favor God has given us. The seven of us in the group, who were present that night, impart each one’s “favor story”. It sounded different from time to time but all of it were like bead strings attached to each one – like our story could be presented like a bead work; our stories interconnect. And I believe it’s the same in everyone of us when we all tell our “favor story”, it’ll always boil down to one: unimaginable. I can’t imagine going through life without God in it. I mean, you cannot express in words how God just do things in your life and place you wherever you are right now because His favor has always been on you. Oh, salvation is sweet!

“I’ll be good to you because I wanted to be good to you.” -God

It’s His attribute: He is Love and He is Good. He is our Father who always wanted to shower favors upon favors on us. Have you ever thought of that? Or do you always think that wherever you are right now, it is because of all you’ve done to make the most out of life; and the universe, somehow, is indebted to you that’s why it’s giving you what you are due?

When I heard the favor stories of the other girls in the group and what I’ve witnessed personally in my own life, I cannot help but be humbled by just about everything. And I can’t think of any other way but to be grateful for all of it. You can’t box favor. You can’t box what the Lord wants to give you – it will always fill your cup, it will always have an overflow in your heart. You can’t box God in all His great might! Once we do realize how God sees us and just gives generously in this life for us, we can never be the same. I can only live to give Him the praise everyday of my life. It’s just wonderful. It’s undeserved. It’s overwhelming. It’s all God’s favor!

Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 113:2)

Live High

Lately, things keep blowing in front of our face. Reality is stinging every corner of our minds. We thought we know how the world works like the back of our hands, but, do we really?

Everything is fast-phased. It’s like we’re all in a bullet train. All we know is evolving in a snap — technology, communication, relationships, culture, faith. How do we define choices? What constitutes our beliefs? What do freedom and equality really mean? Why are we keep on accepting the behavior that this world keeps on imposing unto us? Is it absolutely okay to tolerate ideologies just so we can say we are accommodating to everyone’s perspectives? Who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? Why are there so many questions and why can’t we find an answer?

There’s something wrong in our world today; there’s something terribly wrong that’s happening. And I cannot, for the life of me, understand how will I properly respond to this. I never wanted to cast judgment on the way people deal with their life choices because I am never worthy to do so; I am a messed-up person myself. But it seems like this world is telling us that everything is okay as long as you’re happy and you’re true to yourself. What kinds of standard are we living in today? It pains me to see the picture that we are all living for the sake of ourselves — for our own rights, for our own happiness. We are nearly living in a Love-Only-Yourself kind of World, a Selfie (selfish) Generation. It’s all about us now, isn’t it — what we want, we should get.

Really?

Is that all there is to live? For people to know how great we are? How amazing our talents are and the things we do? How we can bend the rules and break them just for us to do the things we want to do?

Really? That’s life? That’s what we call living to the fullest?

NO. There’s more to life than just us. There’s more to life than all these — pleasures of the world we believe we must possess.

I want you to know that Happiness is different from Joy. Doing what we are ought to do will always be worthy than doing what we want to do. And that our choice is always important. Please don’t be deceived that you don’t have any control as to what and how you are going to feel; it’s not true. Saying that you don’t have a choice is like you not owning up to any consequences of your actions. Be man enough! Stand by your choices! I can only hope that you are choosing the right ones. But if you find yourself stuck in a mistake, you can always get out. Please choose to get out.

This world is ever-changing. This world could easily die to the standards that we people regard as virtue back then. But that doesn’t mean we should die with the world. We believe in God, right? He gave us an example to follow. And yet the freedom to choose what we do with our lives is in our hands.

Live high. Live mighty. Live righteously.

 

Have You Ever Wonder…?

How you can use the social media to promote and expand the ministries of your church or Christian organization?

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Attend “The Word in the Web”: Social Media and Ministry Seminar, on July 6, 2013 Saturday, from 8am to 12 noon at the Philippine Bible Society Building, UN Avenue, Manila.

Seminar fee is P200. Register now for the Early Bird promo with a discounted fee of P150 plus a free book from OMF Literature for the first 30 registrants.

Register online here. For more information, contact 0916-4308745 / 0923-1448432 or email freespacemedia.ph@gmail.com.

Sessions:
The Ills of New Media (Abuse, Addiction, Hazards)
by Ms. Maloi Salumbides (DZAS Braodcaster, best-selling author of Protips)

Wired World: Understanding New Media
by Mighty Rasing (youth worker, blogger and new media practitioner)

Mixing Faith and Facebook: Understanding New Media
by Rei Lemuel Crizaldo (Communication Research Specialist)

The Gospel in a Tweet: Evangelism and New Media
by Caloy Diño (FEBC Director for Corporate Planning)

Tips on Creating Quick Videos for Social Media Ministry
by Ms. Kathleen Lei Limayo (Independent Filmmaker)

This might be a helpful tool for you and your church! Don’t miss the opportunity, register now! :)

Unstoppable Faith

Last Saturday, I was able to witness a living miracle inspiring hundreds of thousands of people all over the world and it was just so amazing to hear him speak live before my eyes.

A man of faith, Nick Vujicic, was born with no arms and no legs but that “limitation” did not stop him from being unstoppable for God.

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Nick Vujicic | photo via Google

At age eight, Nick shared, it was very difficult for him to understand why God did not give him what every other people has. He was so confused and devastated, asking God that if He truly loves him then why did He made him with no arms and no legs while every other kid in their school has their arms and legs.

“My question to God is ‘why me?’”

There were lies, he said, that crawled at the back of his mind. Lies like: he will never ever walk or run, he will never have a family of his own, he will always be alone, he will never hold someone’s hands or carry his own son. At age ten, he wanted to end his life and all his sufferings but one thing had stopped him – his parents. All his life he only felt love and support from his parents and siblings that he couldn’t bear to see them crying on his grave, hurting, just because he gave up.

“Whatever broken pieces you have, whatever the enemy uses for bad; if you offer it to the Lord, Jesus will set it to something beautiful.”

Nick chose to believe the Truth. He chose to believe the Word of God. And God gave him peace. At age fifteen, he encountered a story in the Bible where Jesus was asked by this person why injustices, sickness, bad things are happening in his life; that’s when Jesus answered that those things are happening so that the world will know how God will work on his life.

See, Jesus don’t give us bad things; that’s Satan. But our Lord won the battle, He won the war. He met Satan face to face and Satan has nothing on Him. Satan may come to steal and destroy but Jesus comes to heal and restore. If we only give our lives to the Lord, He will always be there for us every step of the way. There may be circumstances that would make it hard for us to understand yet our focus, our Hope, should be in God.

Nick kept praying for arms and legs but he came to the understanding that God has the best plan for his life. Who needs arms and legs, he said, when he is flying with the wings of the Spirit.

Be the Miracle

“It’s very tempting to be jealous; it’s very tempting to see what everyone else has. Did my circumstances change? No. What changed is my heart. Arms and legs are not happiness. The greatest things in life are not things; any pleasure you can see, touch or hold is only temporary.

Can I smile? Yes. But does that mean that I don’t cry? No. But even though I walk through the valley of shadow and death, I can smile.

Brokenness is brokenness; but, don’t let brokenness define your future. Don’t let your circumstances define your joy.

I stand in front of you as a miracle of God that world cannot argue with.”

What are we waiting for? Let’s put our faith in action. Should bad things happen to us, it is never the end. Our faith is unstoppable because we have an unstoppable God.

You know the paradox of a Christian life? You give and it will come back to you. You surrender so that you may have. You die so you live. It will never be an easy life but I loved that no matter what we’re going through, somewhere along the line, if we truly lay it down at the foot of the cross, it could be used by God so that others may know His goodness and mercy? Amazing, right?

If God can use someone with no arms and no legs, I’m sure God will use us too, God will use you. Are we willing to be used by God?

Grow deep in the faith.

Be of Faith

“There is no recession of the peace of God. There is no recession of the grace of God.”

Jacob and I

Do you know how certain things, ideas or concepts sometimes doesn’t make sense in your point of view? Like no matter what angle you take a look on the sides of the coin, you don’t see a totem that was supposed to be there? It’s just wasn’t there and your perplexed mind then don’t see how much that coin’s worth?

If there’s someone in history that I can’t comprehend or sympathize with for quite a long time now is this Genesis-28-guy, Jacob. I don’t really get the point of him being chosen – at all. I don’t get it. I don’t accept it. I really don’t understand it. When I heard preachings about Jacob, I got mood-blank verges. I never enjoyed discussing him, BUT, I tried.

Miles Halter of Looking For Alaska once said,

But we can’t know better until knowing better became useless.

I tried my hardest to cope up with my I-don’t-quite-like-this-Jacob-guy protest because I know there’s something in him, in his story, that sets the tone on a different note. I don’t wanna risk the opportunity of not giving the guy a chance. After all, it might be that I’m on another chapter of the page that’s why I don’t see any significant narrative scripts at all. And yes, I wanna know better details about him now before I regret not knowing these details later. Ha! Are we still communicating? In other words, do you still get me or what I say? Pardon me, I’m hazy somemost times.

Alright, you might wonder why am I treating Jacob like this anyways? I got two reasons.

For one, he is chosen. If you’ll go through his account and story in Genesis, it will show you that even before he was born, he was already chosen by God (Genesis 25:23). He is the youngest, but he was bound to be blessed than his older brother.

Secondly, he is chosen but he seemed not worthy of a choice. He is a liar, a schemer and a deceiver (Genesis 27). To get the blessing dedicated to his brother, he deceived his father. It’s awful, right?

I am actually debating this in my mind. See, God is the God of Justice – He is fair to everyone. But, why does He need to choose? And between Jacob and his older brother, Esau, why choose the younger one? Why did God has this plan of the younger leading the older? Another question that pops out of my mind is that, yes the Big Guy already chosen someone – but then, how can you be choosing someone who is like him? I felt like in so many ways, Jacob doesn’t deserve to be chosen.

When I’m pondering on these thoughts one day, reality hit me like a train on a rack. I don’t suppose to question God’s choice or His decision because I cannot fathom the mind of Christ at all. He knows what to do, He is God. And then, I realize I am categorizing Jacob as a “bad guy” in my mind. If you’re going to choose someone to make a difference in the world and lay out your plan for mankind, you should pick the better guy instead. Yes, I was so judgmental on Jacob that I forgot that indeed, God is the God fairness and equality. I didn’t see that I was trying to be told here that even out of Jacob’s ugly past, his imperfections, God chose him just as He chose you. Just as He chose me.

You know, Jacob at the end, understood God – His presence, protection and favor He gave him. After he experienced a taste of his own medicine when he himself was the object of lying, scheming and deceiving by his father-in-law, he was astound by how God kept him. And right there and then, he chose to follow God.

I was mad about God picking Jacob that I forgot that if that’s the case, I should be mad about why God picked me as well – a worrier, doubtful person, no talent, ordinary, a wallflower, failure in many ways and a bad girl stained with imperfection. Upon realizing that, I understood now why Jacob was chosen. God wants me to see that He can use even a schemer to impact the present with that story of his past. It won’t happen that way, though, if Jacob didn’t choose God. But gratefully, he did. And there’s something we can look back to now.

God loves and chooses us first before we love and choose Him back. He is a perfect gentleman, he’ll take ninety steps towards you but you gonna make that last step to Him. He will not force you or me to go to Him, He will wait there. Patiently.

Wouldn’t it make you extremely joyful that even you’re not an all-time good person, God chose you despite of it? I think it’s comforting to play in the arena if your Team Captain chose you despite the fact that you cannot even dribble the ball properly. It’s like, you’ve been allowed to play in Miami versus Thunders NBA Finals even when your field of expertise is something very far from it.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that I’m chosen even I’m me (translation: imperfect), that means a lot. And I hope I do the right things in bestest way to make my Coach proud. After all, He saw me as someone worthy of a chance when I, myself doesn’t see which side of me is that. :)