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.

Run It!

Last November, I signed myself in running class to fulfill my requirement for P.E. In spite being the only member of our block to sign up for that class and the fact that it starts at 7:30 A.M. every Monday and Thursday, I still opted for it. I feared volleyball (surprisingly) and preferred to travel early morning (when there’s less traffic) than to rush for my 9 A.M. strength training class (considering my ever faithful vehicle, the MRT going northbound, was a human sardine-like can from 8 to 10 A.M).  I never regretted that decision.

Running is so simple and cheap you actually don’t need a class to study it. However in school,  you have to require an activity for students to feel compelled to attend the class regardless of their feelings. I also believe that a formal class was (and still is) necessary so that the coach can assess and take note of the students’ progresses. I am thankful for Coach Lei Mangubat who was very patient with all of us. 🙂 Although there were times when I felt like sleeping longer on Monday morning instead of running, I enjoyed the running sessions and felt energized afterwards (my brain cells were exercising their muscles for my next class:  CHEM. @_@)

Last Sunday, my classmates and I culminated our running class by joining a fun run hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. This run celebrated the 25 years of the prominent newspaper company. However, we still have classes until the 2nd or 3rd week of March. But who cares?! 😀 If running sessions in Ortigas were a-okay, this run is epic. At least for me. Even if I finished quite late (40 minutes), I am determined to beat my record soon.  The run was my first and by far longest run considering that I’m not that much of a runner (even as a child!) and I only started running seriously last November. The strength that kept me going emanated from the loving heart of my Fathers–Heavenly and earthly–and my Mom.  They supported me all the way: from the training, to the fee,  to the early morning ride to the venue, to the shoes and my companion, Nathaniel Stefan (a.k.a. iPod shuffle. My gadgets have guy names. HAHA!) I am so blessed! Thanks, Dads and Mom!

Here are some pictures from the run at Bonifacio High Street.

Runner 5519

Kailangan talaga nakapikit. haha! 🙂 Side kwento (story): After 39 minutes of running, I was so tired and my legs burned like crazy; but when I saw the digital clock by the finish line several feet away, I ran as quickly as I could, parang kotseng nasa 5th gear sa SLEX. Haha!

with classmates Fatima and France

with my Dadday

(L-R) Coach Lei, Ivy, France, Olivia, Ja and Fatima 🙂 too bad we’re incomplete in the picture! 😐

the winning pose 😀

By the way, I would like to thank the following sponsors:

Adidas, for my shoes and jogging pants

Apples  – one for my ears (iPod shuffle) and  the other for my stomach :))

Mizuno – for the singlet (the sleeveless jersey)

Nature Valley – for the yummy treat after the run: Granola bar with dark chocolate and nuts! 🙂

Powerade – the much needed colored fluid after the run

P.S.: I was so inspired by this run that I willingly woke up early this morning at 5:30 AM to run! Hope early morning running becomes one of my habits 😀

The Sun Never Sets on High School

March 24, 2010. 0930 hours.

This was the day I would either hate the most or love the most. This is a moment so trying, nerve-wracking and spine-tingling that only five people are allowed to witness and be part of it inside a hollow, warm room. Only the fittest  and the strongest shall survive and surpass the nostalgic stage.

This was the moment of truth. The declaration of the top 3 honors  for the graduating batch of school year 2009-2010.

Okay, maybe I was exaggerating a little, but to tell you the truth, this was how I partly felt. The other part of me was scared and relaxed altogether because I know that things can change by just a small factor of one decimal point. The healthy competition I had with my other two competitors, Deuel and Abby, (who happened to be my two bestest friends in our batch) was a really tight, exciting one. Our scores and averages were so close that 8 or more teachers are required to meet together, calculate and decide who receives which. Although it was quite obvious that Deo (Deuel’s nickname) would be our class valedictorian, double, triple, and quadruple calculations and ‘checkings’ are required to avoid biases, miscalculations and other mishaps. To tell you the truth, it seemed like the competition was just between me and Abby. Not that we did not strive for the first, but our averages compared to Deo’s were as far as the distance a person travels by car from Makati to Ortigas on a Friday night. It’s possible, but it would take a heck a lot of patience, determination, diligence and perspiration. For that reason, I only had my hope on the second place.

So there we were–the three of us–inside our memorable room together with our adviser, Ms. Abarca, and  another high school teacher, Mrs. Cayanan. After a word of prayer, Deo, Abby, Mrs. Cayanan and I sat on our unusually cold and plastic armchairs while Ms. Abarca remained standing. She explained how the deliberation process took place yesterday evening and a past session with all our subject teachers. They made sure that all the papers and grades were quadruple checked and calculated. She pointed our attention to the set of grades she wrote on the whiteboard earlier. Our final grades were written, but our names weren’t. This added tension. Ms. Abarca then wrote our names on the board. As expected, Deuel ranked first. The question now is, who’s second and who’s third?

It was an unexpected result. Abby and I tied. Our averages were exactly the same. To the very last decimal point.

If our ranking would be based on our scholastic grades alone, then our batch would have two salutatorians. Thus our school created a system for ranking graduating honor students. The 70% would be our academics, 20% extra-curricular activities and 10% character (since our school is a Christian institution). As for the extra-curricular activities, Abby ranked 1st, Deo 2nd and I third. As for charater, Deo ranked 1st, I ranked 2nd and Abby ranked third.

The question is not who ranked first since it was quite obvious that Deo aced the competition. The question is, who will be called the salutatorian?

Ms. Abarca did a mathematical evaluation with each of the three parts of our grades (academics, extra-curricular, character) to arrive at the weighted rank. The person with the lowest number is the 1st and the person with the highest number is the 3rd. (This is because our final averages were multiplied according to the factor indicated. Our final grades in academics were multiplied by 7 [70%], extra-curricular by 2 and character by 1)

Deo had 12 points. Abby had 19 points. I had 22.

As I saw those numbers, my world nearly crashed down. I thought I would emerge victorious. I thought I would land at a “Heavenly place.” Sa Tagalog, masayado akong nag-akala. Nakalimutan ko na lahat ng akala mali. Sobrang mali.

I can feel the tears about to rush out of my tear ducts and pour profusely down my face. I chose to reserve those tears for my alone time with God. I kept a firm yet happy countenance as we opened the dividers and let our other batch mates in.

We proceeded downstairs to head to our school-church’s auditorium. I wore my black, filtering shades because I realized I could not hide the tears any longer. I chose a path not-so-distanced from my classmates to avoid empathetic questions. I only had one question and it’s directed to God and myself. Why?

I took my iPod and wished I had the song “Just Once” so I could sing to the first verse and relate. I sung it in my head.

“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough. ‘Cause here I am back where I was before….”

Here I am again, back at #3.

Later that evening, as I knelt down in prayer, I burst into tears, the tears I have been trying so hard to control. This time, I can cry all I want and the Person I was gonna cry to would never push me aside nor be judgmental towards me. Once again, God humbled me. He made me realize that I had even more potential and diligence to pour on my education; I wasn’t just seeing it yet. It was not impossible, but it’s certainly difficult. I would rather win third in the most challenging and difficult race in the world than first in the race I know I would ace so easily. When I read the Bible that day, I was encouraged and amazed by the strong and courageous leader, Joshua. An astonishing and seemingly impossible story about him and the Israelites could be found in the 10th chapter of his book. After hearing how Joshua and the Israelites defeated the kings of Jericho and Ai and how the Gibeonites made a peace treaty with them, five Amorite kings conspired against the Gibeonites and attacked them. By doing so, they actually planned their own tragic demise. God used Joshua and the Israelites to help the Gibeonites defeat the evil kings because the Gibeonites were the only foreigners kind enough to God’s chosen nation. As the battle waged, Joshua did an astonishing thing. He commanded, in the presence of God and Israel, the sun to stand still and the moon to stop moving. As a result, “the sun stopped in t he middle of the day and delayed going down about a full day!”

Scientifically, that is impossible! To me, it is very astonishing and amazing! I am also encouraged by the story and Joshua because I know what kind of God I am serving and entrusting my whole life to. Not because we’re sinful, He no longer listens to us. In fact, He delights in answering our prayers, as long as they are aligned to His will.

I may have landed third place in high school, but that is not the end of everything. In fact, it’s just a taste to what the real competition looks like: COLLEGE. I thank God because He never bases His love and acceptance and my worth on medals and other earthly achievement. As long as I performed the best way He wanted me to, I know He’s proud of me. I can see Him smiling.

The sun has not set over my time yet. It’s only beginning to rise.

Purity, Purity! Wherefore art thou, O Purity?

Local news reports are brimming with bad news. Murders here, fires there, corruption on the left, economic breakdown the right. But you know what bad news hurts me the most? The fact that the Department of Health is constantly encouraging people, especially the youth, to purchase condoms or other form of contraceptive. They are so persistent to the extent that they bring the “urgent news” to Grade 5 kids! I have a brother on the same level and I can’t imagine him learning how to use a condom. Why should he know? Why should kids know? Besides, who has the right to teach kids (including teenagers) these things? The government has trespassed parental border.

Why does the DOH insist on the entire Philippines using condoms? They believe these “things” help decrease cases of STDs as well as the spread of the HIV virus which causes AIDS, or the total destroying of the immune system. Research shows that the use of contraceptives do not eliminate the risks of acquiring these diseases completely. It’s still a risky thing to do.

What will completely eliminate this problem, then? I believe the answer lies on the inner heart of man.  Purity , and purity alone, is the  key to eliminate such diseases. King Solomon was right when he said that there is a generation who thinks they are pure, but in reality they are not washed away from their own filthiness. (Proverbs 30:12) People always want the easy way out so they choose condoms over purity. Purity is a lifelong trait that ought to be maintained, but it’s sure worth the maintenance.

This I say out of the things I have learned from the Bible as well as my desire to see a ‘purity movement’ in this nation. I myself can stumble at some points because purity is not just about not having sex. It’s everything in you–your words, actions and thoughts. We can’t do this on our own; we need God’s Word and Spirit to guide and lead us. The question now is, what are we going to do about it? Before leaving this page, please leave a comment saying how you can help revive purity in a sin-contaminated world. Jesus wants to return and see His bride clean and pure, eagerly awaiting for His appearance. Let us encourage others, especially fellow teens (if you’re still part of that bracket) to do the same. Share other insights God has revealed to you.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12 (emphasis added)