Getting It

Reading a chapter or verse from the Bible does not automatically make you get it just as you can’t fly a plane after a 2-hour, one-on-one session with a professional pilot. Getting it, really learning it, takes time and constant practice depending on the subject matter. I remember when I was a little girl, about 7 years of age, I couldn’t read the clock properly. My knowledge was limited to hourly readings. I don’t think I really got it until I was ten or twelve. It took me years to read time–whether it be in quarters and halves–properly and correctly with ease. That was five years ago and the things I learned were simpler. Lately, things have been tough.

Growing up in a Christian home, I thought I already knew the Bible. I do know and understand Biblical doctrine (at least half of it) at the back of my hand and with conviction, but I didn’t know I haven’t gotten it just yet. How do I know? Well, for the past few months since 2011 started, I was compromising. A lot. I generalized one sin after another, saying it can be condoned because it’s not that bad. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into until I found myself in the aftermath of all my actions. Bitterness, ill-thinking, gluttony (it was still there all along), selfishness, and pride slowly but surely paved their way into my heart one compromise at a time. The effect was staggering. Since my temperament make-up tends towards the introvert side, I don’t throw wild tantrums or instigate quarrels with my family and friends. I find it more terrifying to be the silent type. Ika nga, nasa loob ang kulo ko. When I reach my boiling point, instead of whistling, I well up with emotions–sorrow, bitterness, anger–you name it.  This is the same girl who grew up memorizing all 66 books of the Bible by heart, singing Psalty songs, and teaching young kids in Sunday school. Saints can get pretty messed up, too.

What I was trying to “get” was totally unreachable. God Himself already said it:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

– Isaiah 55:9

“Child, getting it completely is not the point. Obedience and love is.”

I can never fully understand God’s ways until I see Him face to face! 🙂  His love is unfathomable. In effect, I was trying to see if my knowledge can match with God. Obviously, my effort failed. He did not ask me to know Him completely in one sitting or in one year. For this reason, the Bible often makes use of the verb seek. “Seek and you will find.”  A stomach stops seeking food and water when it is full. The Bible says seek His face. Seek the Lord. Day in, day out. You can never be “full” with God that you have to pause and say, “I can take it from here. Thanks, God.”

” My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

– Psalm 27:8

A true child of God will hear and feel his heart cry this statement out: SEEK His face! A true child of God who has wasted plenty of time in worldly affairs will eventually hunger and thirst for true spiritual feeding. Getting it, coming to your senses, is the first step in true repentance. No matter how often you listen to Gospel sermons, unless you get it–unless the heart and the mind connect–there is no transformation.

Have you gotten it? God will wait. The moment you do start to go back to Him like I did, He’ll start running. Yes, God runs. It’s been a habit of Him ever since the first ear-piercing sound was heard: the crunch of a bitten fruit in the middle of  a beautiful and perfect Garden. And He’ll never stop running to you until you get it. 😉

End Of The World…Not!

As we all know (and can see and experience), today, May 21st of the year of our Lord 2011, is NOT the end of the world. To those of you who are still frantic about the “last things” to accomplish, run frantically no more. You are only wasting your time.

The first time I saw of this crazy and undeniably foolish ‘prediction’ on one of the opened tabs of my Dad on his Macbook, I snickered. How stubborn can people get, really? I’m not saying I’m perfect–yes, I am as stubborn creature myself–but I’m not too stubborn and foolish to the point of attempting to do something utterly impossible: stating the exact date of the end of the world. How many times does Jesus have to say this:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. ”

– Mark 13:32-33

To those who mathematically computed for Doomsday’s date which was not genuine at all, please learn from your mistake. WE will NEVER KNOW until the real day comes. Indeed, the second coming of the King of Kings (no longer as a suffering Servant) is drawing closer and closer each day. The initial signs are obvious:

  • false prophets
  • wars (and rumors of  wars, both within society and among nations)
  • one nation hating another
  • famines
  • earthquakes
And may I add, tsunamis and floods (though you don’t have to worry about mountain-high floods; God promised He won’t repeat the Great Deluge ever again). According to Jesus, those are just the beginning of birth pains. Like a mother laboring to deliver her precious baby, so the world will cry and wallow in pain until the Son of Man, the Lord Almighty, comes in glory.
Why such the long wait for the actual end of the world? Why throw at us the signs, Lord? This period is something we should not complain about, but instead, thank God for! He is being very, very, very ultra mega patient with us, waiting for broken people to return to Him because He desires no one to perish. Not a soul (2 Peter 3:8-10). Indeed God is just, but even His justice flows from His undying love for humanity–His undying, sacrificial and patient love for you and for me. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t wait for the “end of the world”–whenever that is–because once the “first end” comes, you would wish you received Christ earlier. By God’s grace, He has given me the privilege of studying about the end times in our church last year. The series contained mostly facts that I myself wouldn’t want to hear, but I cannot help heeding the truth. Do you want a sneak-peek of the “end of the world?” Here’s what it looks like:
  1.  “At that time….There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered….” (Daniel 12:1) The world will marvel at this occurrence, but not for long because..
  2. “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’…. then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16) the Antichrist shall rise and gain control of the world. This marks the beginning of what we call the Tribulation period.  This will last for 7 years. Oh and it’s not just “it-will-last-for-seven-years-let’s-have-fun” kind of period. The most grueling pain and suffering mankind will ever experience shall take place in this period. The movies make it look manageable, but the Bible says in Revelation 9:6:
“During those days [end days] people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.”
While it is not yet the end of the world, there is hope. Remember, above all else: GOD IS LOVE! He is just, but He is LOVE. 🙂 He wants YOU to have a bright, limitless and awesome, eternal future with Him starting here on earth. Don’t wait when darkness falls and you can no longer see the light of day until you come to your senses and say, “God save me.” Life spent well is a life spent bonding faithfully with Jesus. 🙂
Have you eternal life? God loves you, dear one. He really does.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16
Now replace the underlined words with your name (or appropriate pronoun). See? This is God’s gift. 🙂
*All Bible verses are taken from BibleGateway, NIV 

Brotherly Love

“Jenny, keep an eye on your brothers. Take care of them, okay? Don’t leave them….I trust you….Alagaan mo mga kapatid mo.’Wag mo silang pababayaan….”

For weeks  Mom kept repeating to me until the day she and Dad left for Australia two weeks ago. Being the responsible, oldest daughter that I was (no pride intended–that’s what they called me),  I took these words to heart, thinking I would never break them even if it cost me my happiness. Last Sunday I was tested to see if I passed or failed the Brothers’ Keepers Test. Whatever comes out of it is a matter of life and death because two precious souls are at stake.

The “test” (at the time that it happened it was simply an incident) began the moment the 10 A.M. worship service concluded. About a thousand people made their way out of the 5th floor auditorium and headed in different directions: the parking lot, Megamall, Podium, St. Francis food court, restrooms and Sunday school to pick up their children. I belonged in the last category except I wasn’t picking up my children but my brothers. My cousin, Rej, accompanied me to the 3rd floor. For some reason we separated, she heading to the elementary rooms where my youngest brother, James, and our family friend, Arman, were, while I headed to the intermediate  rooms where my 12-year old brother, Josh, was. I went to the Grade 6 room only to find it dark and empty, so I immediately went outside Sunday school. Upon exiting, I found Ate Rej, James and Arman, but not Joshua. Whatever happened to that absent-minded guy? It took us 2 minutes to finally locate him and because I was in a hurry to eat (it was lunchtime already!) I forgot where he went and where we found him. That was only the first of his escapades.

Right after locating Joshua, we met up with the Evaristo family, other relatives of ours. Together–me, Miko and Rej–mounted and dismounted escalators and made our way outside St. Francis Square. I distinctly remember Joshua, again absent-minded, trailing behind us. Making sure of this, I conversed with my cousins (Miko and Rej), laughing and teasing each other like we used to. James and Arman were held by our cousin Kuya Renjay so I relaxed. I was taking care of my brothers without sacrificing my happiness and comfort. Or so I thought.

Three minutes have passed since we entered the doors of Megamall when we reached Pizza Hut Bistro located in the 3rd floor. Kuya Renjay, the younger kids and other relatives arrived earlier to save two tables and order the food. My cousins and I talked some more, then I checked on James, Arman and Kurt (the younger brother of Miko, about James’ age). I asked James where his kuya Josh was, but he shook his head and said, “he’s just around.” I looked around but found no sight of Josh. I did not worry…not yet anyway. Maybe he’s in a store somewhere. Oh there, in Blue Magic. My cousins Rej and Miko went right to locate Josh while I walked left towards Blue Magic. The store replete with stuffed toys and “love” items probably did not attract my brother (like me) so I left it immediately. After three minutes, Yaya Aida, the helper of our aunt Jayjay, called me and asked if we have found Josh. News spreads fast nowadays, doesn’t it? Calmly, I said we haven’t, but assured her we will. Or was it myself that I assured? Either way, we just wanted to locate my brother.

The rest of the brood that were not part of the search-and-rescue team rested on the chairs, waiting for the ordered food. I instructed James to stay with our other aunt, Tita Judith, while I go look for our brother. Where could he be? The last time I saw him was in National Bookstore. I dashed to the ground floor.

As I brisk-walked to NBS, I couldn’t help but worry and imagine the bad things that could have met my brother. Episodes in CSI and Law and Order of 50-year old pedophiles abducting and taking advantage of young boys flashed in my head. Oh Lord, please, no. Not Josh. Not when our parents are thousands of miles away from us, enjoying and having fun. Oh God, no. Please, help me find Josh. Make our paths cross. At the same time, I told myself: This is all your fault. I should have paid attention to him. I should have watched him. I’m such a bad sister.

Immediately I entered National Bookstore upon arrival and searched for a boy in a blue and green striped Gap shirt, denim shorts and red-and-black basketball shoes. No match found. I stopped beside the Teens shelves and contemplated at his present location. He was trained well; he should have stayed here and waited for us to find him. Oh Lord, please keep my brother safe. Please–

*insert CSI: New York theme song* It was my phone. An unregistered number appeared, but I assumed it was my cousin Rejoice. For once, my presupposition was true.

“Hello Jenny? We found Joshua na. “

Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving. The episodes quickly faded. “Where did you find him?”

“In National Bookstore. We’re in Pizza Hut already.”

He was trained, after all. “Oh…haha, I see. Andito ako ngayon. Sige, aakyat na ako.” (I’m here now. Alright, I’ll go up now.)

We ended our conversation and I went out of the bookstore–thankful, relieved and almost teary-eyed. I hated these incidents, but it is in these adrenaline-pumping moments where I see how good God is and how much attention I gave or have not given my brothers. As I walked to the third floor, I resolved in my heart not to scold my brother. I’ve had enough sermons and worries for the day. (Besides, it was Tita Jayjay who did the scolding. Haha!)

While my parents were away, I kept asking God what His purpose/s is/are for not allowing me, Josh and James to visit Australia with our parents. I guess I had to learn a lot of lessons–lessons I would learn only apart from my parents, to see how their 16-year training will be translated into proper application. Over all, I believe God wanted to teach me the value of brotherly love–literally. 🙂 After that incident, I never took my eyes off my brothers except when they bathed and in the evening when we slept. My momentary lack of attention to Josh did not mean that I didn’t love him, but that I chose to focus on myself. My comfort, my happiness, my time. After all, I took care of them very well when we were in our Tita Amy’s house. But that’s the thing about love: it’s inexcusable.  Love suffers long. Come to think of it, I was not going to “suffer” for watching over my brothers! Thankfully, God never kept His eyes off Joshua. 🙂

You may be the bunso (youngest child) in your family, the middle child (like Josh) or the panganay (eldest) like me. If you have a sibling (siblings), choose to love them. Trust me, I’m not that loving now towards my brothers, but I can tell you that by the grace of God, I have changed for the better. I was more patient than I was a year ago or two years ago. Love ought to be practiced faithfully today. Now is the time. You may say, “Well, my siblings don’t care if I exist. We’re on our own now.” The truth is, they do. They desire as much affection and love as you do. Oldest children, our younger siblings look up to us. On the outside, they may be rebellious, disobedient, naughty and stubborn, but really, all they’re looking for is an ate or kuya (older sister or brother) who would love them no matter what. Family members look only for love outside the family when they can’t find it inside the family. Be the first one to initiate the love. 

Here are pictures of me with Joshua and James. I love ’em!

proudly wearing his medal on him! forgot which award it was, though. Haha!  🙂

smartest boy. evarr. 😀

with our cousin Rej. Our missing footwear is a sign of respecting holy ground. Seriously. :)))

CUTEST!!!! 🙂 :>

Love Believes The Best

Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wrote that “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  After listening to our pastor speak yesterday morning, I found that one thing a hundred times mightier than the pen or sword combined: the mind. The destiny of a man lies in the course of his actions; his actions are bred by the thoughts spurred on by his mind. In other words, the way we think matters. It matters not only because it affects our behavior, but more importantly, our thought life affects our relationships with the people around us.

In Godly wisdom and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Peter preached yesterday morning:

“To fall in love is nothing; it’s easy, shallow. But to stay in love for a long time–that is another story….It’s hard; it takes more effort and discipline.”

Fairy tales have mastered the art of concealing this basic principle, the commitment to stay in love. One applicable and practical way of staying in love is by believing in the best in people. Love believes the best.

“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7 NASB

I found this message comforting and at the same time rebuking mainly for 3 reasons:

  1. I realized that I have been subjecting my thought life to wrong masters, namely Vain Imagination (including those daydreams such as when my crush talks to me one-on-one and hugs me from behind :|), the Worst is Yet To Come and Miss Pity.
  2. God believes in me–He sees the best that would come in time as I grow in Him. He will never, ever give up on me or YOU. 🙂
  3. People can change. In God’s vocabulary, you won’t find incorrigible (unless the person’s dead). There is hope for every person no matter how utterly terrible his past, how numerous and grave his mistakes and how late he was in life to realize his need of a Savior.

“You cannot be lazy in the way you think,” Pastor Peter exhorted. “Every Christian is responsible for the way he thinks.” When I heard this, my soul twitched and my heart jumped as if a needle pricked it for a millisecond. I recalled the instances in my life where I concocted a vain thought, warranted it search my soul and allowed it to govern my actions. The consequences were destructive–at least for me. I lost, to some extent but not completely, in the sea of awkwardness, a friend. I developed this nasty habit of avoiding people because I allowed my vain (and stupid) imaginations to determine my perspective and govern my actions. By God’s grace and with the hope I have in Jesus Christ, I’m coping from a mild deluge. 🙂

So how does one believe the best in people? To avoid confusion, Pastor Peter differentiated believing and trusting people from being gullible. Trusting people is accepting what they tell us regardless of the truth value and leaving the judgement to God. After all, judging is not our role. Being gullible on the other hand is to believe what people say and live by them instead of living securely in what God says is true. Believing in the best is giving people the benefit of the doubt; being gullible is doubting the benefit by allowing doubt to cloud your thinking. Believing in the best is not raising your voice or replying in all caps when your friend does not respond to your messages or calls; being gullible is ignoring the truth so that you let your friend keep on doing what she/he does without you asking her/him gently or helping her/him fix with a problem. Difficult, huh? I realized that differentiating between trusting and being gullible requires the exclusive wisdom available only to God’s kids. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, a person can still fail to hope and believe in the best (especially if he has all the reasons not to).

This morning God reinforced this message to me. 😉 Thanks, Father. Another Godly and wise man, Tom Holladay, wrote a book entitled The Relationship Principles of Jesus. I highly recommend this book if you desire to grow deeper and deeper in your relationships. The principles are life-changing, applicable, simple (though not easy to do), tested proven and reliable. Anyway, there’s a part of the book which I heard God tell me. Don’t ask me how I heard it, but this I tell you and it is true: When God speaks, He makes sure the hearer hears Him loud and clear. When I read this passage I felt my heart pricked with needles, that twitch:

“You may be right on the edge of quitting in a relationship…..I’ll face this with you. I believe in you. I’ll look forward to the future with you. Even when every bone in my body wants to run and hide, we’re bound together. I will stay with you and we’ll overcome together.”

Although that passage was directed to Christians and their relationships with the people around them, it was first directed to the Christian from God. For the past few days, I have been feeling lax in my walk with God because I allowed my mistakes to define me. Don’t allow your mistakes to define you! You are who God says you are. When God sees us, He does not look at our sins; He sees what we can become. 🙂 God is a Judge, but He does not condemn us. This is precisely why we should not judge others; a sinner cannot judge another sinner.

If ever you feel like giving up on life or a relationship, do not despair! Believe in the best. Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 NASB

Tom Holladay wrote, “I was taught to trust God instead of myself for forgiveness. God has plenty of good things He wants us to do, but these good deeds are a response to His grace and not a way to earn His grace.”

God believes in you and me. He is at work in our lives. He told me not to focus on myself and to focus on Him so that I won’t lose hope. He tells you the same thing. 🙂 Hold his hand; give Him your mind so that your actions won’t go wayward. Give people the benefit of the doubt and leave the judgement to God.  God bless you!

Love? God? I don’t get it. I would love to tell you more about establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ here.

PS: Watch this music video! May Josh Wilson’s track entitled Before The Morning encourage you today. 🙂

SOURCES

Holladay, Tom. The Relationship Principles of Jesus. Singapore: Campus

Crusade Asia Ltd., 2009.

Tan-chi, Peter. “Love Believes the Best.” 40 Days of Love Series – Sunday

Worship Service. Christ’s Commission Fellowship, Ortigas Center, Pasig

City. 3 April 2011.

The New American Standard Bible. Ed. BibleGateway.com

(www.biblegateway.com). 1995.

The Duh?! Stuff

Robert Fulghum was right. All we ever needed to know we learned in kindergarten. At times when I commit stupid mistakes (which happens all the time. Not proud of them though), I get this idea that my mistakes are growing more difficult as I grow older. However when I analyze my mistakes and see the root causes (did I just say I analyze my mistakes? @_@), I don’t see a physics problem or a differential equation causing me to commit a heinous act. The cause is usually–if not, always–a failure to follow a kindergarten rule. The Duh?! stuff–the things ingrained in my memory that seemed to have been reformatted during life’s delinquent moments. Thus, following Mr. Fulghum’s footsteps, I created my own list of All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten list that would serve as a reminder for decision making–the Top 20 Duh?! Stuff.

  1. Knock before opening a door.

  2. Always say “Po” and “Opo” to a person older than you.

  3. The magic words are as magical as the days of Abraham and Isaac: thank you and please.

  4. Don’t pester your Mom and Dad to buy you stuff (even if they can afford it). It diminishes your cuteness factor by adding lines to the benefactors’ foreheads (or pimples,  depending on the genes)

  5.  Fighting is for babies, the wimps and the chickens. For the so-called “mature adults” that includes backbiting, gossiping, slandering via Facebook and YM statuses (patama ng patama, hindi naman niya mabababasa!)

  6. Ask permission if you want to use the things of others. Even if it’s just a Panda ballpen. Ask. For. The. Owner’s. Permission. PLEASE.

  7. Make sure you run with your shoe laces tied.

  8. Don’t hesitate to ask Dad and Mom for help and to tell them if you’re hurt in any way. Being a Daddy’s angel or a Momma’s boy is the best role to play. Ever. 🙂

  9. Pray to God everyday. He’s listening to you (no matter how old or young you are).

  10. STUDY FIRST BEFORE YOU PLAY OUTSIDE. Or inside if your DoTA, Farmville, Sims or Left 4 Dead apparatus and friends are inside a shop, or worse, your house.

  11. Make friends with the outsiders, the weird bunch and the geeks.

  12. Share your food with friends especially when they have little or no baon. (Kaso hindi. Minsan konti na nga baon niya, nakakailang tikim ka. Ang tikim isang kapiranggot lang, okay?)

  13. Don’t watch too near the TV, unless you want to undergo Lasik surgery or wear contacts by the age of 13.

  14. Obey Dad, Mom, teachers, Ate, Kuya, policeman (unless he’s unaware of the traffic rule you’re defending) and pastors. Enough said.

  15. Make sure you change your shirt when your back is sweaty so that you won’t get cough and/or colds. Spares Dad and Mom the worry and expenses for your medicines.

  16. Look to the left and to the right before you cross the street. God gave you 2 eyes. Use them.

  17. Eat your vegetables. (Meat and junk-food lovers have higher risks of heart disease and other major illnesses because they refused veggies when they were kids.)

  18. Fix your things the night before going to school so that you won’t have to ask paper all the time from your classmate who was responsible enough to fix his things the night before he went to school. Ouch.

  19. Sleep at 9:00 (or 9:30). checks time 10:50…@_@

  20. Never talk to strangers. Especially if they look, act and speak strangely nice and accommodating. There ain’t no prince charming to kiss you because you were either too foolish or too hungry that you ate a poison apple offered by a homely, conniving witch.

There are hundreds of other lessons that state the obvious. Mind sharing me your favorites? 🙂