It's been a while...

...since I posted something up in here. My drafts have piled up, and I couldn't seem to come up with a satisfying entry even though God has showered and blessed me throughout this year. Maybe I've been too drawn into savoring and enjoying God's grace and surprises. And I've been frustrated on how I cannot encompass God's greatness moving within me through my works. I cannot do justice capturing His beauty and grandness!

And then I realized, of course, I can never do that. It's just that God is the greatest and the most wonderful Artist--the Master of all! He is UNCONTAINABLE! I can only try--and I've been embracing His greatness ever since--but I just won't amass the right words to fully express what can only be felt and experienced.

And so, I must learn to do away with these frustrations of mine. Now, I shall come back to glorifying Him through my humble writings.


A month ago, Every Nation held a three-day Asian Campus Conference here in Manila: the IGNITE 2013!

I was blessed to be a part of this second IGNITE conference. It only happens once every two years, and every delegates from all the Asian countries with Every Nation churches are encouraged to go. IGNITE 2013 is hosted by LifeBox, the campus ministry of Every Nation Philippines. This year’s theme is “Holiness: Holy God, Holy Life, Holy Calling.” Their vision is to stir up a passion in everyone to pursue God’s holiness even in a world that disregards it. (See more here)

The conference had seven sessions, focusing on a certain biblical character on each and envisioning that character in today's setting: the modern day campus dwellers. Here's my take on what I learned and gained knowledge of in those sessions:

Session 1: JOSHUA -- Consecrate and Concentrate!

The speaker, Mr. Olajide Pariola emphasized the significance of dedicating oneself for a sacred purpose, which is to be holy. We are called to be holy because we serve a holy God. Separating ourselves from the 'rubbish' that this world surrounds us with will help us to concentrate on how to live a pleasing and glorifying life for our Lord.

Here's another point that I got from this session:
Be holy, not do holiness. It's who you are, not what you do.

Session 2: DANIEL -- Resolve or Dissolve?

As Ptr. Edrei Canda talked about Daniel, he highlighted the two options that we have today in our fighting chance of living a holy life: to resolve and take a stand or to dissolve and melt into the a culture. This is a good point to discuss among the youth, for it is a real battling issue for everyone. Peer pressure, temptations, persecutions, bashing and the like are all round every Christian youth, and it is not easy to just shrug these things off. It's so hard to live holy when almost everything around you seems to be pulling you into the opposite direction!

But as Nate Punzalan pointed out in this quote:

knowing and being secured with all the promises that the Lord gave us as His precious sons and daughters, we wouldn't even dare to go astray! For we know that God has the best things in store for us. That His plans are far greater than whatever we could ever conceive. So who would you trust yourself with? The world who has constantly persecuted and inflicted pain on you, or to Jesus Christ who did nothing to harm you? Who comforts you, and who actually saved and redeemed you? Who gave you life and light?

Session 3: ESTHER -- God provides the opportunity & ability!

Ms. Lianne Silla talked about the position and situation God has placed Esther in her time to be able to make a difference to her people. Esther's life is a good reflection of how God is truly mindful of our every situation, and that He does not do things for nothing. He has planned our lives for specific purposes and He carefully threads our situations that will be favorable and in line with His plans.

We may not understand immediately why and how did we end up in such situations, but if we hold still in His unfailing love and guidance, we are sure to see His will for us and He Himself will grace us with everything that we'll need to materialize His plans. Our God will never let us down, so if He has set you to do something for Him and His people, we should take heart and courage from our Ultimate Provider, and glorify His name by fulfilling our destinies determined by Him.

Session 4: SAMSON -- Don't trade your birthright for something that feels right!

For this part, Ptr. CJ Nunag tackled the sad fate of Samson; a blessed man who tuned his focus away from God and in the end, was left by God. He is such an iconic Bible character, but understanding his poor choices and decision makings is such a pitiful experience. As was pointed out in Session 3, when God provides the opportunity and the ability--a thing which is bountiful in Samson--we should use both to glorify His name and do His will.  But Samson was blinded by what this world had offered him, and he let himself be succumbed.

The gifts and potentials that God gave us are tools for the fulfillment of His grand plans. We shouldn't waste them, making ourselves a tool of the enemy. We are born for more glorious things!

Session 5: ANANIAS -- Be bold and conquer your fears!

Everyone gets jitters when asked to disciple someone. Especially if that someone is way beyond of our league, and is actually very vocal about not wanting to be a part of any 'spiritual' stuff. Well, God actually asked us to "go and make disciples", and no one is exempted from this order! Ptr. Dan Monterde talked about the importance of discipleship and being a disciple.

Before you came to know Christ, someone had been bold enough to invite you or to share with you the Gospel. Someone took a leap of faith and conquered his fears of rejection or persecution, with the thought of wanting you to be saved and be blessed. God sent that someone for you, and aren't you glad that He did? You are now experiencing His great, overflowing love because someone introduces you to Him! Wouldn't you want that happiness and love be felt by everyone, anyone? Especially the people close to you? Well, God is now sending you to these people to make them closer to Him!

Session 6: JONAH -- Will you run away from God's calling?

The life of Jonah depicts a life of faith, but lacking of courage. Jonah has been talking directly to God and he has received so many favors from Him. But when he was asked to go forth someplace, he refused and ran away from God! How is this possible? Why did fear get the better of this blessed man?

Sometimes, we get overwhelmed by the things that God has called us to do, thinking that there is no way that we can do such. Or sometimes we have other things in mind that we'd like to get busy with. Nonetheless, turning back from God's will is never a great scenario. First is that we're disobeying the will of the Perfect Planner, the Author of all things! Second is we'll be missing out the best moments of our lives--the fulfilling sense of being able to glorify our Father.

Whatever our reasons may be, there should actually never be a reason to go out of God's paved path for us.

Session 7: PAUL -- The radical disciple

Ptr. Steve Murell pointed out Paul's character as someone who "considered his life 'worth nothing' compared to everything that Jesus did for him." Only if every sinner would have the same perspective as Paul, it'd be a better and brighter world for everyone! But not all has the knowledge of the race that we're in--sharing the gospel and proclaiming God's goodness and greatness--, the task that we're given--our mission to make disciples and make Jesus' sacrifice for everyone be known to men--, and the gospel that we share--Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the way we should have died!

And because we know these three things, we should spread these to everyone! Not among ourselves who's already been equipped by God to be His witnesses, but to the people who still hasn't got a clue of the light that Jesus had shed for them so they could have a new life!

All in all, this experience has been a wonderful and an emotional thing for me. I was pumped up to GO OUT more for Christ, and share how He changed me and my life as a whole.

We ended the conference with a declaration:


I want what He wants!

When we pray for something, we have that confidence that God hears us and will surely answer our pleas. If one does not have that, why would one pray in the first place?

A great professor of mine once told our class, "God has only three ways to answer our prayers." He then picked up a chalk and scribbled three words on the board: Yes, No, and Wait. I haven't realized it before, but he was right. And I haven't fully understood the latter two answers until God actually answered me with those.

Planting our faith firmly on our Savior, Jesus Christ, we all conclude our prayers with 'in Jesus' name, amen!', 'through Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, amen!', and the like. We do this because we know that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5). And with the strong sense of favor that we have from Him, in our hearts and in mind, we are confident that God would answer us positively. And yet, if God does that, would He still be God at all? If you're own plans and longings shall be granted to you each time you'd ask, everyone will be out of control and ask God everything as if He's a vending machine--you put some bill on it (prayers) and you expect to have in return the exact thing that you chose (answers). But God does not work that way! According to 1 John 5:14,
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
We are encouraged to present all our requests to God by praying (Philippians 4:6), but we must not forget that His plans are better than ours. Actually, they are the best of the best! And our human intellect will never, ever come up with the brilliant ideas that God has in store for us on our own; not even close! With this in mind, we should not feel bitter about 'unanswered prayers'. Actually, no such thing exists! It's that that we may be ignoring His answers because we're too busy waiting for what we want.

I haven't been able to update this blog, and with all the things that has happened to me in between my last post and this, I can say that God truly wanted me to embrace and accept this as a fact: I am not gonna get everything that I want because He's already planned out when will He give me everything that I need that are immensely beyond what I asked for.

Discipleship 2013

* This is a late post regarding last month's event in VCF. * 
What wisdom do you have if you do not share it? And what wisdom do you boast if it is not from you?

Last month (February 9), I was privileged to attend the annual leadership conference of the Victory Christian Fellowship. Helping two beautiful young women now with their first steps in their walk with God through One2One, I am now considered a leader. But what is a leader, really?

Out of the various denotation of the word leader that I've searched, I love these two the most:

First, a leader is a guide. Being a leader already implies that you are able to pull other people to a certain goal or vision. But do all leaders really guide?

Imagine yourself in a car drive--your leader is the driver and you (a follower) is his passenger. The driver have in mind a specific place to arrive at and he's already shared that to you (that's why you came with him). Now, if the driver only steered and kept the engine running without explaining the route that you're taking or introducing the facades that you're passing through, chances are, you will arrive at your destination as if they've been blindfolded during their trip; you are no different from the person that hopped on to the ride. You were unchanged from point A to point B.

Taking up the responsibility of bringing people from one point to another doesn't only mean that you'll get them there; you must also ensure that you get them there prepared and well. You ain't just a driver--you'd be a tour guide.

Secondly, a leader conducts. He is the prime mover of the group. In our case, God is our ultimate leader (Revelation 17:14), and everyone that He called on to lead are His workers who are envisioned to follow Christ's example and teachings. Faith without action is dead (James 2:26), and so, leading with just words are futile. If God truly is the Director of our lives, you--as a leader--ain't just a storyteller or a narrator, but is an actor of God's will in His play. If your disciples aren't seeing any desirable acts and example done by you, how and why would they follow you, and ultimately, God? This case would be worse if you're teaching them something then acting out the exact opposite of your message--that's hypocrisy. You're performing before people, but that does not please God. That will just blow your credibility and your own spiritual growth.

Also, I finally realized my ultimate goal as a leader: raising a better leader than what I already am. Then, our services for Him will go on and on and on...

Overall, this leaders' convention taught me many things, and I got to share my thoughts, too. This is what I love about being a leader--I don't have to stand alone! I've got God--the ultimate source of Wisdom--and I've got these amazing people--the other leaders--with me to guide and counsel me all through out. Being a leader doesn't mean that you've got to raise your disciples on your own. It is actually an effort of the whole church in itself, just as what was proven in Discipleship 2013; we're all in this together!

And I smile for that.

:( count: 4
:) count: 9

Starting my year with more of HIM!

Two weeks ago, I participated in the annual Prayer and Fasting of the Victory Christian Fellowship. It was my first time in doing so, and honestly, I have not prepared for it physically. I have been praying about this fasting long before (since I first heard about it), but I never knew that I should have gradually prepared my physical body, too. And due to being a first timer, I was advised not to do the water only or liquid fast so I opted to take only two servings of oatmeal a day--a very challenging take to my body which was accustomed to 'eat-whenever-you-want-and-don't-if-you-don't-feel-like-it'. But thanks to God's unfailing guidance and sustenance, I have gone through the week without any difficulties.

Now that I look back at it, that week was actually one of my most peaceful and fast-paced week, ever. I learned and digested a lot with what our praying and fasting handbook offered us. And during those five days of praying, meditating, reading and just talking to Him (while doing school works and stuff and everything in between), aside from what our handbook taught me, I got to realize these five things:

#1: We allocate/spend so much time and money on food

First of all, I should clarify that I found nothing wrong about this. It's just that I have failed to see this before in my self and was actually surprised by this mere fact: we do spend a lot and eat a lot! I think we people eat like we breathe. Being a student, fueling up to get by tons of school work and spending hours in school, most of our allowance goes down the drain for food. From our lunches to small confections like candies and gums, I saw for the first time what we use our mouths for the most--it's either by talking or eating. On normal days, we spend more time chewing something off than reading the bible or praying or meditating. And since it is my first time defying my physical body's needs in order to focus more on Him, I realized that if I get to combine all the time I spend eating and devoting it to my quiet time, I think I might have finished all my unread/pending inspirational books and some books in the bible I've been targeting to finish by now.

I should work on managing my time and spending on food that my body desires and indulge and focus more on what would satisfy my deepest hunger--the bread of life.

#2: We have too many 'pop-up' priorities
You alone are God of all. You alone are worthy, Lord!
You know about those things that aren't really in your schedule, and yet when it comes to your attention, it suddenly holds all of your focus and worry that you think that you just got to do it, ASAP! I think everyone has experienced that. I did, and I still do. And we have sooooo many of those pop-up priorities that most of the times, we spend our times just worrying about them and letting that worry eat up our time. Then, we'd fail to attend to even a single one in our agenda and we end up not finishing anything. Sometimes, by just thinking about those, they could literally sucks up all your energy! No matter how much we try to organize, there'd still be a sudden thing that will come up and these may cloud our judgement and priority setting.

Having to fast for the first time, I just realized how much pop-ups I encounter mainly because I had more time being preoccupied by quietness and stillness (and by that, I don't mean that my quiet time is nothing. I do it as a personal 'emptying time'--an intimate moment where I try to detach myself from this world and just be in His presence.) But I realized that there's a dangerous part right there: emptying yourself makes you vulnerable to anything that wants to enter you. So here's what I concluded: for every ounce of anything that I'll empty my self of, I shall acquire a ton of God's greatness in me to fill that gap so that nothing and no one else--not even the dirty tactics of the enemy--may infiltrate my frail and human heart. Do not let yourself be a prey to the hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8). Pray for His guidance and security of keeping you away from the enemy's darkness.

#3: We fail to pray for what isn't within our grasp
With all I am I live to see Your kingdom come, and in my heart I pray you'd let Your will be done.
As our busy life goes, we tend to do or attend to things that we need right now or to get what the moment calls for. It's the same with our faith; we pray for things that we need/want right away. It's like acknowledging things just because they've come to our attention now, praying earnestly for it, though in the past, you might have never even thought of it. What kind of trust are we showing Him when we do that? Is that the right display of our surrender to His will and power over us?

I learned from this realization that this isn't how God wants us to communicate with Him. I realized that we should always pray for whatever God has planned for us even long before it is to be revealed. We do have an assurance that God has planned each and every detail of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and yet, why do we still get surprised or scared whenever a new wind blows our way? Praying in advance for the unknown brings comfort and peace inside of us that only God could instill in us. And when we practice this--praying for everything that His plans for our future holds--whenever grand things come our way (may it be blessings or struggles) we would be at ease knowing that God will get you through anything. Trusting Him completely and laying everything down to Him is the key for that inner peace that everyone desires! (Psalms 62:8)

#4: Strengthening my faith means that I should become weaker
...'til I see You face to face and grace amazing takes me home, I'll trust in You!
Out of all the new year prayers that my friends have shared with me, one have struck me to be the most eccentric and most interesting. He concluded his message to me with a "... and above all, I pray that you become weaker this 2013!" Of course my initial reaction was... "WHAAAAAAAAT?" Then I realized as he explained that "I am praying for that because you got to be weak so you'd be more dependent on Him!" And then, I got his point. The irony of that message was written in John 3:30; Having less of our self means more space for God in our lives. Humbling our self means more glory to our Father. One might say, 'What if you'll loose your identity in the process, being all clingy and relying too much on God?' Well, what's wrong with that? That's actually how God wants us to be! What other identity do you need other than the one that you have in Christ and Christ has in you? Also, being dependent on Him about everything means acknowledging His overall control in our lives and not relying on our imperfect thinking, reasoning and feelings on how to live each day. It doesn't mean that we're just gonna sit back, relax, do all the praying and not move an inch; it simply means that we'd use all the things that God blesses us with with our lives but more importantly, that we'd trust and owe Him whatever fruits our works may bear.

#5: I have an unlimited access to Him
You are the voice that called the universe to be, You are the whisper in my heart that speaks to me.

This concept isn't new to me, but going through the praying and fasting week, I appreciated it more than I did before. Basically having more spare time (like my lunch and dinner time) than the usual, my mind was constantly preoccupied by Him! It may be a word or a verse that He let me read at that time, or maybe a situation on my present time that He's brought up to my vision. Well, whatever it may be, He just practically talked and talked to me, and I was freely talking to Him, too! It feels good that we are blessed to have this never-ending connection with Him that no matter what I'm doing or wherever I am, I have the privilege and liberty to talk to Him and Him to me. It made me feel closer and more intimate with Him. We have a real relationship! We communicate and interact. We both take our time talking and listening. And I am deeply grateful about how much He welcomes me into His greatness.

All in all, I may not have readied my body for the physical challenges that I have undergone during the fasting, but ultimately, I now know this for certain: no matter how much you think you are ready for His blessings and wisdom, you'll always be a child in awe of what He'll give, show and let you know. I am in awe of Him! Always. :)

[All the lyrics quoted in this entry was from the song 'Til I See You by Hillsong]

Love and Loss

Last month, I got to listen to this sweet, beautiful phone conversation between an innocent child and a radio personality. It's been years since stories about it have surfaced the media, but it is my first time hearing about it. I thought I'd share it to others and internalize its message more.

Logan's story was touching and such an eye-opener. Many believers fail to remind themselves of what they need to look at everyday in every aspect of their lives: the Cross. The ultimate sacrifice and gift of God for us. Sure, every Christian and believer has heard of it, but for me, hearing this story and its purpose again and again, it never fails to stir up a sense of awe inside me--like I'm listening to the sweetest love story of all time. The greatest love story of my life, and it happened long ago even though I'm not yet here on earth. This phone conversation reminded me of two powerful emotions or feeling: love and loss.

God's loving nature is displayed on the smallest details of every single thing in our lives. God has put us in situations that may seem unfathomable to us, but our faith in Him and His deliverance will get us through anything. In addition to that, He will generously let His light shine in these moments so we could see the wisdom and greatness behind His every move.

Losing someone--specially a dear one--is one of the most painful things a person may experience. It's that bond and relationship that we have with the person (or even an animal, say, a pet) that makes us uneasy to let go. Once we love another, we would never want to lose such connection. God has provided us the gift of experiencing these wonderful connections and relationships under His embrace. But then again, nothing's permanent in this world.

I believe, God has also undergone these painful sense of loss. First is when we, His children and creations, were separated from Him through our sins, and second, is when He let His child Jesus Christ die on the cross. But He planned all of it--and it was for all of us! He has one purpose: He formulated this one big substitution in order for us--the sinners--to be able to connect with Him again. He chose to sacrifice Christ to save everyone from an eternal separation from Him--hell. He let One die and pay for our own wrongdoings! But He did that because despite our shortcomings, He felt sad that we were separated from Him. Not angry! Or annoyed! He was sad. And He wants us to have an access to Him again--to be close to Him again. He didn't want to lose anyone; not a single life. He didn't mind sending His only son to suffer in our place. He didn't even think twice to do it! He wants us all to live in His kingdom and dwell in it with Him. He wants us to prosper in spirit and grow up in preparation to entering His holy palace. Hell wasn't made for us. It is in heaven where He plans us to live with Him for all eternity.

I pray that God will give me that kind of heart. A heart that will see through the pain of every loss and to focus on what this pain can gain and will teach me. A heart that will not fear to experience pain for the greater good. A heart that will not think twice in the pursuit of glorifying His name. God, work on my heart day and night and bless me to have a true servant's heart.

I thank God for that great act of grace and love for us. I thank God for enduring the pain of separation, and giving us the ultimate solution for it: Jesus Christ. I thank God for the salvation He's offering everyone, so that no one will ever lose anyone again--for I believe that we will all be together in heaven, forever, with Him. I thank God for just about everything!

And I smile for that.

:( count: 4
:) count: 8
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