weorð

weird is worth it

When You Choose Lust Over God

Beautiful things happened to me and my family last week. There were so many beautiful experiences that I should be thanking God for. But here I am choosing lust over praise. Here I am lazily choosing ingratitude over meditating on God’s word.

And being single doesn’t help. My mind would wander time and again, vacillating whether this act is indeed a sin or not.

I’m talking about masturbation.

Some days, I’d tell myself, “I’m not hurting anyone.” “My imagination doesn’t even star someone I know from the opposite sex.” “Better to do it this way than to have premarital sex, coz that surely will have regretful repercussions.” But right after the completion of sin, I am filled with shame. There is no peace. Only condemnation.

I know it in my heart that masturbation does not please

It is written in Romans 8: 5-8:

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

It pains me that I couldn’t get out of it. I neither have the wisdom to resolve the vacillating that has exhausted my mind, nor the power to overcome these desires.

But the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child (Hebrews 12:6). In the following days and weeks, I was bombarded with messages about lust and sexual immorality. God has been so proactive in giving me the wisdom and discipline that I need.

In my Tuesday bible study group, God used the story of Joseph to firmly rebuke me.

Genesis 39 says that the LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered. When Potiphar, Joseph’s master saw that the Lord was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and his master put him in charge of his household and everything he owned, until Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt Joseph into sleeping with her. Joseph refused. He FLED. HE RAN OUT OF THE HOUSE  even without his cloak on (Genesis 39:15). And yet he was put into prison despite of his innocence. But even while in prison, the LORD was with him and Joseph found favor in the prison warden’ eyes, and so Joseph was successful in whatever he did. By the end of the story, Joseph became the second highest official in Egypt, next to Pharaoh.

So how did Joseph gain victory over lust? These are the pointers we discussed in our bible study:

  1. The man/woman of God consistently walks with God.

Galatians 5:16 says, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Prior to this, I was in a week-long vacation with my family where I never really made an effort to meditate on His word. There was no quality time with my God, no intense Bible reading, no intimate prayer time. And when we got back home, instead of saving my time and energy for Him, I chose to waste my time watching movies, thinking lustful thoughts, and reading sexually-inciting articles online.

I was prepping myself for a sure defeat. The only way to overcome lust is to walk by the Spirit, and in order to walk by the Spirit, I should take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

Indeed, there is a great mysterious power that comes in reading the word of God.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

  1. The man/woman of God develops a very strong fear of God.

This new revelation brought great fear in me. It made me evaluate myself. Is my fear of God lacking? Is my understanding of what fear of God means right and biblical?

There was a time when all I know of God is that He is a punishing God. I had a hard time looking at the works of His hand with awe and wonder. There was no godly sorrow in me. These was no marveling at the height and width of His great love for me. I can’t go on living with a false knowledge of who God really is.

And I don’t want to live questioning myself time and again if my faith is real. I want to bear good fruit! And someday, I want my Lord and Savior to commend me for winning the race, for standing firm against the devil, and for rising in victory with him every after struggle.

To develop a strong fear of God, read and meditate on God’s word. I must take time to know God intimately if I want to worship Him not because He requires it of me, but because of His great love for me.

  1. The woman of God is willing to lose all things rather than yield to sexual sin.

Am I willing to lose everything to please God? Joseph lost everything the moment he stepped out of his master’s house. Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

There were consequences when I disobeyed God. Consequences that could have been God’s rewards. And I saw this at work: that in order for God to really get my attention, He would sometimes use my job to discipline me. There were accounts withheld, pitch lost, even good opportunities passed on to someone else…

But if losing career opportunities is what will take me to an everlasting path of sanctification and purity, then so be it. I am reminded of this quote I read a long time ago: God cares more about my character than my career.

But like David when his first child with Bathsheba died, he continued to pray and plea for God’s mercy, so am I in my prayers for God to spare me from the wrath of His discipline.

  1. The man/woman of God is rewarded for her victory.

The story of Joseph ends with such a motivating plot twist. Pharaoh entrusted all of Egypt to him. He was able to save his family from a 7-year famine. His life was blessed through and through. And who doesn’t want such a happy ending? Who doesn’t want to become an instrument of God’s blessings?

Surely, a few minutes of pleasure isn’t worth giving up a lifetime of God’s favour and blessing.

 

God didn’t just use our group bible study to get through me. He also used my best friend who is also a Christian to encourage me when I told her about the things that are happening at work and how they all seem like the consequences of my disobedience to God. No surprise, my best friend also used the story Joseph to pacify my heart.

At church, I was a bit startled to know that the message was about sexual immorality. Upping the ante, God also orchestrated for this same verse to come up not just in our bible study group but also at church and it totally settled all the questions about masturbation that have been bothering me all these years.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthian 6:18

God also used the sharer’s testimony to help me identify what triggers my desire to masturbate:

  • When I’m alone, idle, and unsure of whether to read God’s word or not
  • When I’m physically tired
  • When I’m stressing myself out over a problem that is not surrendered to God

I praise God for His mercy and grace. This has been a 360-degree approach to make sure that I will pick up His message. The world has been sinking so deep into sin that when I asked my non-Christian friends about it, they would easily tell how normal it is, and that it promotes good health, and there’s basically nothing wrong with it. But we, Christians, ought to live for a higher standard that Jesus Christ set not to cage us in but to protect us.

All of these lessons led me to recommit my life to my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST. Only by God’s wisdom and power will I be able to overcome lust. I praise God for His patience and for not letting me go. I pray that my life will embrace this one true great desire, that is to please GOD, and to be more and more like His one and only son Jesus Christ.

May all who read this discover how Jesus loves us, and that we were bought at a price. It cost Jesus his life just so you and I can be in heaven with him someday. Let us then honor God with our body.

 

Moon and Stars

I did something crazy. In fact, for a woman it’s an upshot of desperation and foolishness combined. It’s a mixture of not being able to stay still and my unbelief on the power and sovereignty of God. So let’s just leave it at that–I did something crazy, desperate, and stupid.

I would like to draw some inspiration from the story of Abram in Genesis 12. Abram feared for his life, so he asked his wife, Sarai to tell the people of Egypt that she is instead his sister.  To preserve his life, he was willing to sacrifice his wife. I did the same thing to someone. I lied so I can escape further humiliation and embarrassment.

I wouldn’t know how my lies had ruined God’s good plans. I fear for its repercussions. Will I suffer the same fate as that of Abram and Lot, and Abram and Hagar? How much of what I did would spiral out of control? Well, just as I finished typing the last letter of the last word of that last sentence, I knew the answer is not as important as knowing that God is in control and that His ways are higher than my ways. My friend, as she patiently peruses through my rambling messages on Facebook, wisely summed it up with this verse from Psalm 139:16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God will never run out of love, grace, and mercy, and they are all there for the taking. I was a bit resolute to go for a short run today at the park, so I went. I was positive that running will somehow get my mind off my messes and fears. And by God’s amazing grace, under the pale light burst of the unusually big moon set on the dusty Manila sky, He reminded me of that special scene where God took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5) 

Just 3 chapters away from whence Abram took a detour and lied about Sarai being his wife and yet God, full of grace and mercy, still chose Abram to bear and experience His amazing love and promises.

The moon, the landscape, the lights, Oh! they were so magical and mysterious and awesome, just like God’s promises for me. I know He will keep His word in spite of what I’ve done. There is no condemnation in Jesus. I know He’s not finished yet. More good is yet to come.

 

The Malcontent

It’s easier to drown ourselves with negative thoughts. We are fed with lies that tell us to expect and hope less. We’ve grown accustomed to despair, depression, and cynicism. As a result, we lose a big chunk of our joyful and peaceful self that we couldn’t live life anymore without our insecurities and fear, because we feel that without them, we are nothing.

When blessings came pouring in, we fail to recognize the works of God ‘s hand, who has pulled off amazing stunts and little miracles just so we can live inside His grace and love. We and the enemy rob treasures of joys from ourselves, until it drains us, leaving us with no vision and desire to share Jesus to others; worse, it prods us to live dissatisfied lives, as if nothing will ever go right. We become malcontents.

malcontent

noun

: a person who is always or often unhappy or angry about something

Here’s what the Bible has to say about malcontents.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude 14 – 16

And this has made me realize how important it is to have a “gratitude attitude” and to hold on tightly on the truth found in the Word of God. Where it is sometimes easier to entertain cynical and negative thoughts, the Bible calls us to “turn [our] back on the turbulent desires of youth and give [our] positive attention to goodness, faith, love, and peace.”

It is important that we remain vigilant. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We become malcontents or grumblers because we let evil thoughts linger in our minds. From thoughts, to feelings, to actions. And I have caught myself time and again a victim of this process. Sin is born within this cycle, from envy, lust, gossip, to anger and murder. Let us, then, take heed what this verse is reminding us:

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Proverbs 4:23 NCV

Shame, the Condemning Teacher

There’s this friend that I haven’t seen for a very long time. I couldn’t even remember the last time I spoke to her, until one night she called me and we had the best conversation, talking about mistakes and how God has been teaching us the value of humility.

I never knew that God can use my pain from the past and the shame caused by my arrogance to reconnect with a long lost friend. Years ago, I experienced rejection after rejection. I jumped from one job to another.

No job was good enough for me. I blamed everyone for everything. I quit anytime I want even if it meant causing my company trouble. I just didn’t care.I’m good at what I do. That’s all that matters, I told myself. It was only a matter of time ’til the consequences of having a proud attitude found me at my weakest point.

I wish I didn’t have to go through it all. I wish I listened to my parents and saved myself the disgrace and pain of being kicked out of a job. I wish I had corrected my attitude earlier. I wish I didn’t gone far out from God. But the amazing thing is, God can use my pain to connect and minister to others, who are going through the same thing.

It is only by God’s grace that my experience can also serve as a warning plan to teach others not to go through the same mistakes. I haven’t had a talk like that with my friend since we became friends. But I trust that by the time we hung up the phone, she knew that she has a friend to whom she can confide with without any fear of judgment and condemnation.

I pray that through my story, she will also learn that God loves those whom he disciplines and that brokenness is not the end but a start to discover and emulate the humility displayed by Jesus Christ.

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore. Psalm 51:17

When the soul has laid down its fault at the feet of God, it feels as though it had wings. -Eugenie de Guerin

“Follow your heart.” But should I really?

Three long years have passed by since Mark and I spoke to each other.

In that three long years, I knew that God had been disciplining me. He’s been revealing to me gems of wisdom that I wouldn’t have known had I continued on from one displeasing relationship to another. But despite of the many problems and humbling turn of events that I had to go through, I’d still say that these single years were good only because God is with me.

But, nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

A few hours before the year 2015 began, my mother reprimanded me about how I’ve failed to move on from the past. Of course, this was met with great indignation. I was in denial. I was afraid that the consequences of my disobedience and my impure relationships are just right in the corner, waiting for the most opportune time to get me.

But God, by His mercy and grace, is patient and loving. He led me to this verse from Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

From that point on, I resolved to fight the fears I had in my mind and the condemnation I felt. I also made a decision to repress my thoughts about Mark; no more questions like “Is he thinking of me?” “Will there ever be a second chance for us?”

Then one late afternoon, a few months after I made my resolution, Mark (after his three years of absence in my life) sent me a message. I wish I could say I handled it very well, that I was able to hold up with some grace and poise to welcome a man whom I think deserves neither my love nor friendship. That could have been a fine anecdote. But that didn’t happen.

I was not prepared for this. I have conditioned myself that he will never again become a part of my life. That was his choice anyway; a choice, which I believe was forced upon me at the time.

The bittersweet memories of the time we shared together rushed in, from the very first time I met him to the last hateful message I got from him. The fast cut-to-cut sequence that tossed me in waves of confusion and anger overwhelmed me.

It took me by surprise to know that I still want this man to be a part of my life even if we’ve been separated for so long. I never really believed in getting back together; what’s the point of going through all the motions of desiring to move on, only to let your peace and joy be taken away the second time around. But for him…I want him to be the exception.

My struggle to keep my composure took so much energy. I love him and I want to keep him at a close distance as much as possible–a safe length where I can still keep my heart guarded, while being friends with him. But the problem is…

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

How sure am I that this will be good for us? I was down that road before, executing my own love story before God could even direct it.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

This inner conflict has shown me my own irresponsibility and flaws as well. If I were to put aside the fact that he is an unbeliever and put myself under the microscope, I’d see myself as a total wreck, unfit for the sort of commitment that I have been longing to have. Here I am wanting a man to commit to me–a commitment that can only be expected from marriage–while I, myself, couldn’t even do the same.

Through our week-long conversation, I had a glimpse of what our future could have been, say if we married each other without laying the foundation of our relationship in Jesus Christ. They said that your marriage can either be heaven or hell on Earth. And the latter was the picture that was painted before me as we go up and about our unsettled past and issues.

Even if I were to believe his love for me and my love for him, I saw how it can never be enough to support our relationship. I saw that without the love and grace poured out by Jesus through the cross, we shall never connect to the pains and needs of one another. I couldn’t bring myself to understand him and vice versa.

And how can he see Jesus amid the pain, anger and indecisiveness I hurled back at him? How could he see through the compromise I made years ago, when I suppressed my faith just so I could be with him? Thinking about it, how ironic that in choosing him over Christ, I have lost him.

We ended our week-long conversation as enemies. I wish I could have done everything differently. Be kinder, be more patient, more forgiving. Be the light by which he is able to see God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

But this is how it should be for now, so I could learn, perhaps: to let go and to stop acquitting myself; just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean that I had no part, no role to play in this failed relationship. I am as guilty and at fault as he was.

The only consolation I could get from us parting (yet again) is the hope that I could turn all that I have learned into wise application; the hope that wherever he maybe, God will find him and bring him into His loving arms.

Ours is a story that started in the shallow plot of boy-meets-girl set on the flaky world of music and movies. And has any of it–the chemistry, the similarities, the romance, the perfect date night, the little black dress, the perfect kiss, his sweet short posts on my timeline, the efforts, the laughter, that one long night of warm embrace–mattered in the end? How could I have missed the most important element, that is Jesus Christ?

 

The Many Men in the Life of the Samaritan Woman–and in mine

After reading the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), I drew out some parallelisms between my life and that of the Samaritan woman, and from there I tried to understand her backstory.

Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for some water. Confused or perhaps, surprised that this man of Jewish nature spoke to her–for Jews did their best to avoid Samaritans, despising them as half breeds who worshipped not in the temple at Jerusalem but at their shrine at Mount Gerizim (Women of the Bible, Spangler & Syswerda)–she might have replied with utter bitterness or just about the right mix of unfriendliness to throw this man off.

But then, at the height of their conversation, as Jesus was undeniably patient with her, He asked her to call her husband. This marked the turning point of their meeting. The Samaritan told Him that she has no husband. And Jesus knew this to be true. In fact, He told her that she has had five husbands and the husband she’s with at the moment they were talking is not really her husband.

How come the Samaritan woman has had five husbands? Maybe she was a beautiful woman with many suitors. Maybe she had been a widow. Or maybe, she was like me, who had been with more than five men in her early 20s, was looking for unconditional love, for security and untiring attention to fill in the hole in her heart.

Jumping from one man to another, men who differ from each other in terms of background, personality, economic status, I supposed that in these shallow qualifications was where my joy or happiness lies. I was enormously mistaken to think that I can have an everlasting inspired life with them, that having their love would complete me.

Maybe the Samaritan woman was tired of being with men who do nothing for her, not even to fetch some water for her. Maybe at the back of her mind, she knew she had tried all her options and found out that there is no man in the world that could ever satisfy the longing of her soul: the same thing I realized after going through the so many, unnecessary heartaches that sprung from being in a relationship with men who do not know Jesus.

Jesus knew what the Samaritan woman was thirsty of; He knew that perhaps at the very core of her heart was a dying flower that is desperately in need of water and she didn’t know where else to turn to–maybe that was why the structure of their conversation was designed this way: before He requested her to call her husband, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus perhaps was already hinting to her at this point, knocking on her heart, graciously allowing her to know that she can always turn to Him, that whatever her need may be–healing, provision, love, hope–He can give it all to her. Jesus will never deny us His love and His gift of eternal life, if we draw closer to Him and ask Him for fogiveness.

As their conversation progressed, she may have recalled this and said, “I know that the Messiah is coming. When He comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then she received what could be the most important revelation in her life when Jesus replied, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4: 25-26)

Back then, I knew who Jesus was but did I worship God in spirit and truth? Did I obey His will? No. I chose to go my own way, took shortcuts, grabbed tangible opportunities of worldly love for what? For security and intimacy, the very things that God so longs to offer and give us.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. (John 4:23)

 

True believers of Jesus follow His voice, obey His commands and do His will. And this is what I hope to do now, by His grace.

When His disciples came back to Sychar, they urged Jesus to eat the food they bought Him, but this was Jesus’ reply (John 4:31-34):

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

 

And because Jesus did the will of His Father, He was refreshed and satisfied. This is how our thirst for an overflowing joy shall be satisfied: by being with our Savior and doing God’s will.

The Samaritan woman came to know Jesus and she shared her testimony among the other Samaritans and they also came to believe in Jesus not just because of her testimony, but because Jesus, full of love and compassion, stayed with them for two days.

Did the Samaritan woman ever marry again? Did she acquire a new husband? I, for sure, know that she did, for it is said in Isaiah 54:4-5,

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is His name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the Earth.”

 

Wow! The Samaritan woman and any woman for that matter could indeed have true love in Jesus Christ. ♥

The Only Question that Matters: Was It All Done with Love?

I began to lead a group of single women a year ago, but the group eventually dissolved. Leading people to Christ gave more pressure on me than pleasure. I should have felt more privileged because it is indeed an honor to be used by God for the expansion of His kingdom. But I was trying too hard back then to please people. I was more concerned with trivial, unimportant things like wanting to be liked or be more eloquent in my speech. The focus was on me and not on God. It came out to be more like a burden than a gift.

Then a year later, God gave me another opportunity to lead a group of single women from a retreat. This time, I made sure that I brought with me the lessons of last year’s failed attempt to disciple. So I let God move, stepping one level forward or backward as He commanded. I tried to shrug off of my mind the pressure of discipleship and of wanting to have good “fruits”. I learned that bringing people closer to God is all about building relationships.

After the retreat, our group took off. It fared well, I guess, for a few months. God provided plenty of rooms to improve our relationships. But the thing with relationships, everyone is vulnerable. Pretensions can only go too far. Sooner, your true character will fill in the holes and eventually you will be known for who you really are, no matter how hard you try to hide your flaws and character defects. Too bad for me, my bad temper found me.

I haven’t given much thought about how people from different backgrounds with different attitudes and struggles may clash with one another. I was all on cloud nine, thinking what a fresh start it was for me. I didn’t think of the cost it’s gonna take for me to protect and care for my group.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? Luke 14:28

So it happened… That while my disciple and I were exchanging e-mails about her struggles, we got into a heated conversation that spiraled out of control because I yielded to my impatience and irritability.

It started with me giving her an advice,which she took the wrong way, impelling her to retort in a manner that was rather rude to me. I felt in me a very strong urge to fight back. So without considering how God wants me to handle the situation, I replied tersely, allowing my irritation to get the best of me. I even suggested that she consider moving to another group. I was rationalizing my reaction by citing Scriptures that will prove how right I was and how wrong she was.

But does it really matter who’s right and wrong? Does it matter how many Bible verses I support the argument with? What was the most important thing I should have considered while dealing with the situation? From giving the advice to fighting back? What did I miss?

I consulted a friend and through her, God channeled His wisdom, gently rebuking me and pointing out what I did wrong. Over the phone, she recited this beautiful verse from 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

How can I have missed on love? When I shot that angry e-mail at her, was it driven by love? Was any of my action rooted from love? When I gave her an advice, did I do it out of love?

Honestly, I felt obligated to give her an advice; I was afraid that she will see me as an incompetent leader who couldn’t even shed light to her problem. These thoughts and feelings only lasted for a brief moment but little did I know that these little “wickedness” in me have began to pile up, becoming a hard-bound book that influences my actions.

I failed to count the cost…And what is the cost that I must be willing to give to every person that God brings into my life: the cost is love, patience, humility, self-control, gentleness…

From the onset, my focus on myself shows how absent love was in my hopes to sustain my group. I am reminded by what Dannah Gresh said in her book Get Lost: we don’t win people by being right. We win people through love. It is all that matters.

Why are You Sorry

Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, playfully and adoringly told Scarlet O’hara, who was then played by Vivien Leigh, “You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”

In my weakness and foolishness, I most of the time act this way. Crying out loud, feigning repentance not because I was a hundred percent sorry for what I did, let alone sorry that I disobeyed and displeased God; I was sorry because I couldn’t anymore escape the consequences of my actions and I fear the consequences more than the insult I brought upon God through my actions.

I have been asking God for forgiveness not knowing that my heart does not truly desire to make amends with Jesus whom I so offended. I was just so afraid of what my sins entail that I needed to come to God for Him to clean up my mess. How selfish asking for forgiveness can be I didn’t know up until now, when this verse from 2 Corinthians 7:10 was used in today’s message at church:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret from that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (NLT)

Even when asking for His forgiveness, we need the grace of God. We need His wisdom to see it His way. Our sorrow and pain have to point us to Him and to the repentance that is fitting for a Savior like Him. I confessed to Jesus that I could not bring myself to change the selfish motivations behind my prayers.

The truth was I just wanted to never suffer the consequences of my sins and then, go on and enjoy the goodness of the remaining days of my life. I want to hate and forsake my sins, I want to turn around, but this desire to change was not driven by love–love that crazily yearns to please God. It was a desire driven by fear now that I’ve seen the consequences.

And so, I asked for God’s mercy. “I’m asking my Father, my Jesus to give me a life that is ALL for Him, wanting to obey Him completely, never wanting to hurt, offend, and insult Him. I want to forsake sin all because I love Him and I fear hurting and disobeying Him more than my sins’ consequences. Father, I don’t want to be one of the lukewarm Christians anymore, who want to go to heaven while in their hearts wishing they can enter it without loving and obeying You. Mercy, O Lord. I beg for Your mercy.” This was how my prayer went as I felt guilt killing my peace and as fear paralyzed me.

Then, as I was looking for a particular verse from Proverbs to share with a friend, I accidentally skimmed through this verse:

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but he whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

To caught an eye on such a verse that directly answers my prayer is just so amazing. It is God’s mercy and grace working! I don’t deserve this and I know that no matter how hard I work for it, I will never be worthy of so much as to speak His most precious Name. This is His love.This is how much He loves….

Once Ashamed to Stand Up for Jesus

I’ve just finished watching God’s Not Dead.
God's_Not_Dead
I am one for cinematic, breath-taking and critically acclaimed movies and I won’t pretend that God’s Not Dead is one of them. Yet it’s moved me to do one of the most important things one can ever do in life: first is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and second, which I would emphatically talk about, is to proclaim the good news to the whole world.

There are no accidents in life. Like the multiple mentions I gathered today on Matthew 10:32 is no coincidence. It was one the verses used in the movie to move the protagonist named Josh Wheaton to go face-to-face with his professor as the defendant and the rest of his class as the jury and convince them that–well, God’s not dead.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

And the truth is I have been a lukewarm Christian, avoiding discussions about Jesus most especially with my parents. I couldn’t take that risk, that leap of faith. I have been a coward. And this movie showed me the kind of mediocre faith I profess.

This quote from C.S Lewis produced the same effects on me as it did on Josh.

“Only a real risk tests the quality of a belief.”

So I asked myself, “What real risk have I taken for Jesus?” Francis Chan said in his book Crazy Love, “Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.”

To think that I pride myself for being a risk-taker. When I am asked about the few good qualities that I possess, I would unabashedly answer risk-taker. But I couldn’t take losing my face, losing everything for Jesus. How can this be when all there is in life only points out to Him? What good am I if not to give my 100% to the one true King?

A month ago, I volunteered to usher for a photo exhibit that the Missions ministry in our church organized. And I read in that exhibit that according to statistics, everyday, 100,000 people enter eternity without Christ; one-third of the people in the world do not even know a Christian who could tell them about Jesus. It was good research but my stance remained the same: I have to wait until my life embodies and mirrors what a true Christian really should be. But when is that perfection going to happen?

I have been hiding behind my pretentious rationale while millions of people live and die as a lost sheep.

I ought to do better for the One who died and gave up His life for me.

Moving without the Go Signal

Christians are taught to pause and ask God for answers before moving ahead with their plans. Literally, we wait for signs before we can progress to the next level. We do so, so that our mistakes would be minimal, more time saved, no unnecessary heartaches. This is ideally, living according to God’s will.

I have no qualms about this. It is wise to wait for God and learn His will before making major decisions in life. This is sound advice. But I’ve also learned that God, in His infinite wisdom, at times conceal a matter, so that we can search out for it on our own.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2

Searching for God’s will in contrast to waiting for His will to happen. I heard it somewhere that God designed the universe in such a way that we will be moved to search and discover answers to its strategically plotted mysteries. Through this adventure, we will also discover more His majesty and glory.

I believe God does not take it against us to go along our daily grinds and adventures in life, making things happen on our own, looking for ways to find where we can best fit in and utilize our gifts, as long as we dedicate every move we take to Him; as long as we commit our plans to Him; as long as we know deep within our hearts that He is in control, that He is the prime mover of our destiny.

I believe God gives us the freedom and enough independence to make our own choices when He is silent. Because even if it turned out that that decision was wrong, it doesn’t mean that He isn’t going to be there for us when we fall. He, at times, allow us to make bad choices so we can experience His loving discipline.

Because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father [to] the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:12

Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Hebrews 12:6

Mistakes are inevitable. There are times that we can avoid them through wise counsel, while, in the absence of it, we suffer its consequences. Mistakes will always be a part of our existence and by God’s grace and mercy, He will turn our mistakes into something good. Consequently, allowing us to grow and mature, depend on Him more, and experience His love and forgiveness like never before.

I believe having God frees us from the fear of the unknown. Having Him makes us move in this life with courage and faith, trusting that He in His own time would intervene when He sees us going in the wrong direction, when we call on Him and pray. Sometimes, there is no Yes or No, sometimes He withholds His answer and let our own experience be the answer.

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