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Archive for the tag “Jesus Christ”

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?

 

Love After Valentine’s Day

Is it always a good time to talk about love? I didn’t really expect me to talk about such a mystical and yet ubiquitous subject matter like love but I got quite a handful of readings about it the other day, which I intend to share with everybody.

I’m reading the book Inferno for the second time. As I was going through Canto V, where one of the most celebrated writers in history, Dante Alighieri, illustrated the damnation the lustful suffers in hell, these lines caused me to pause for a little bit so I decided to read it over and over again:

Love, that can quickly seize the gentle heart, took hold of him because of the fair body taken from me—how that was done still wounds me.

Love, that releases no beloved from loving, took hold of me so strongly through his beauty that, as you see, it has not left me yet.

Love led the two of us unto one death.

Such beautiful composition! Aren’t they?

Then I remembered that for this week I’m actually studying the life of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife. And her story tells us of a predicament about love—presently a cliche—the love triangle. It was Rachel whom Jacob loves and adores but Leah had him first; it was her who bore Jacob his first sons. God sees the unloved Leah as He sees the barren Rachel, and both He blessed (Genesis 25 – 35).

All these make me wonder. Do any of us in this world know what love really is? Are all the definitions we have assumed, reflected, analyzed through the course of our experiences enough to grasp its full meaning?

Relationships isn’t really my strength. In fact, I already had six failed relationships and currently have several complicated ones with family and friends. I discovered that love is too big a word for me that I could never truly understand it apart from what Jesus did on the cross. The thought of love without God, without knowing who He really is is an impasse, a dead end. Love is too incomprehensible because that is who God is.

It is funny that as I think of ways to end this post, I found out that the devotional I read today was wrong. I accidentally advanced to the next chapter. But it did provide me a fresh insight about God who has purposefully plotted all the details of my life. I skimmed through the page that I was supposed to read today and I truly felt God’s love speaking to me.  Earlier this week, I was being skeptic about Genesis 30:22 that says, “God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and opened her womb.” And I felt dismayed because to me it implied that God forgot about Rachel, but I am wrong. To prove that He listens to my thoughts, He answered me straight to the point and with such great humor and love; my devo reads:

God remembered Rachel, but He had never really forgotten her. When the Bible uses the word remember, it doesn’t mean that God forgets and then suddenly recalls. As if the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe suddenly hits his forehead with the heel of His hand and says, “Oops! I forgot all about Rachel. I’d better do something quickly!”

No, when the Bible says God remembers something, it expresses God’s love and compassion for His people. It reminds us of God’s promise never to abandon us or leave us without support or relief. He will never forsake us. He will never forget us. He will always remember us. (Source: Women of the Bible, Spangler and Syswerda)

To give my short musings about love a perfect ending, let me part not with happily ever after but with this verse from Luke 1:49 which to me is equally romantic:

The Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.

Turn My Water into Wine

I have cringed in shame.

In shame, a life under curse has lain.

Every day I labor and pray.

This heart, this soul needs change.

 

Truths frees and some stings:

Like knowing that inside, wickedness never flees.

This weight of sadness presses on,

like a jar of not so potable water that I have to drink on.

 

But before I came to be, you knew my water can never run as deep

So, you came in so much slick, in your own time, steady and humbly

while I’m being poured to my own reek;

married to darkness, engaged in a lifetime of ignominy

 

I have called and perhaps not,

yet you knocked and listened to an insolent pride.

You stirred me in love and gentleness

my empty jars, you filled with future and promises

 

From your truth, grace and peace whence emerge my Vine,

Always, you would invite, ‘Come and I will turn your shame into wine.’

You lifted my curse, patched waves into my staleness

and for this, I have longed and thirst for what all men have yearned so long ago.

A Savior.

 

Excellence in the Workplace: Becoming the Best You Can Ever Be

EIW

It has been a week since I attended the Excellence in the Workplace conference in SMX Convention Center. Writing this blog just now would only mean that I have been mulling over it too long because applying what I just learned is harder than I thought.

The first speaker, Miriam Quiambao, willfully said, “Success comes from God.” The next speaker reiterated what the former beauty queen said but with more drive and power, “Believe we are designed for success and destined for greatness.” Anthony Pangilinan followed that grand statement with more mind-booster concepts but one particularly struck me the most. The chief disturber–that’s what he billed himself as although supported by logical reasons–asked, “Can you tell this to yourself: There’s no one else I’d rather be than me (inside and out)? That alone disturbed the ordinary cycle of my thinking. And lastly, Francis Kong, put a life long reflection on an even simpler note: Understand that I am unique.

I am 26 years old and for me, life at this point is full of confusing cross roads. I’ve been working for the past 5 years, jumping from one job to another, yet I am still lost. What am I really looking for? Two months in a new job, I am all excited and optimistic. The days that’ll follow, all I could ever see is a bunch of reasons to leave. “What do I get out of this job,” I would ask myself. There’s a whole self-centered universe going round my daily angst against life and my job. To me, labor is a curse.

Then I was hit exactly at the core of my disdainful heart. Francis Kong advised, “Change your vocabulary.I should love the fact that God gave me a job. I should love and appreciate the fact that I have a job. Miriam Quiambao offered a loving take on work and asked us, “Do I serve with love at work? What do I do for others?” It has been a long running concept but it rings truth nevertheless: We make life by what we give. What will turn this whole dilemma around is to think, and accept that God-love-life-work are interconnected.

I was fascinated by the fact that hanapbuhay (Filipino word for job or work) actually means to find (hanap) life (buhay). And the only way to actually find life is to find God who is love. And so, my prayer took a slight shift after learning that enthusiasm actually came from a Greek word which means to be inspired by God. It’s exactly what I need! Miriam wrapped up her talk with LIFE which we all should apply not only in the workplace but also at home or just about wherever God places us:

L – Love in action

I – Inspire positive change in people

F – Fulfill a vision

E – Engage and build relationships

Anthony Pangilinan shared with us tips on how to improve our gifts/talents:

M – mentor. Find a mentor.

A – apprentice

X – exercise. Keep on going, Keep on training yourself.

I – Investment. According to Gallup International, talent invested on is equivalent to strength (Talent x Investment = Strength)

T – Testimony. Share to others how God has nurtured your gifts. It is now your time to inspire and encourage others with the same inspiration and encouragement that God gave you.

However, to those–like me–who are at odds at identifying their gifts or talents, here are some key points that will help you in your discovery:

C – Contribution (Where do I have value? Am I able to contribute something good?)

E – Excellence (Can I excel?)

N – Natural ability (nature nurtured = #1; Where do I perform well while exerting less effort? What am I most productive at with less effort?)

T – Turn on (Does it give me joy?)

S – Spirit leading (Does it have God’s approval?)

News reporter Atom Araullo covered these plaguing problems of mine: complacency and attitude. I fail to nurture a culture of discipline for myself. I tend to be lax at doing things. In my head, as long as I was able to give an output, that’s the end of it–never mind the quality of my work or evaluating myself to pinpoint rooms for improvement. I love writing. I dreamed of becoming a writer but what am I doing to help myself do better at my next projects? I instead cower like an ashamed recluse and quit at life, at the world and change yet again directions. I lack focus.  Atom used the hedgehog concept to portray the effectiveness of knowing where I am good at and focusing my energy on that alone. I’ve also been meaning to try his tip on making a Stop Doing list.

Veteran inspirational speaker, Francis Kong, braved the stage with strong, inspiring statements such as: Blaming others is a loser’s game. There is no shortcut to success. Only Jesus can exalt you without making you proud and only He can correct you without making you feel like a loser.

I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to attend this conference. I do hope that I may be able to absorb all these and put it all into action. Job: this aspect of my life has since been a struggle but I know deeply in my heart that through Jesus Christ, I will come out of this renewed and stronger. I was almost in tears when this verse from Jeremiah 29:11, the first verse that I came to know as a child, was mentioned: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I long to be one with God in everything that I do because only with Him will I bear good fruits and have an abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

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