Living on Band-Aids

When I was still working as a software engineer/developer, I have learned the skill of doing temporary fixes. When we encounter system/application issues and we could not find the root cause of the problem, we implement a work around just to reduce the issues until we figure out the root of it. And sometimes, we end up not fixing it. It’s not ideal but we just learned to live with it.

The world we are living in has been like that. We put band-aids to everything that becomes a moral issue in our society to reduce the noise until everyone will just learn to accept it.

I’m not sure what your belief is. I’m a Christian and I believe everything that is written in the Bible. Everything not good that is happening anywhere in this world does not come as a surprise to me anymore since I became a follower of Christ. God gave that warning during the early days of the church.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-3

If you ask the question, “Why would God allow such things if He is really real?” I would like you to watch the video that hopefully will encourage you to seek God more.

Going back to putting band-aids… One of the things that my heart is really breaking for is the implementation of SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) topics as part of education.  To know more details, you can go to this site: https://www.sogieducation.org

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Why did this become a need to implement? What is really the main reason?sogi2

Source: https://www.bccpac.bc.ca/upload/2017/12/2017-11-29-BCCPAC-SOGI-FAQ-for-Parents-with-References.pdf

When I was still in grade school, my father never failed to remind us the importance of education. He required us to study so hard, get good marks because he believed that we are capable. That’s just one of the many things of the role of being a parent. They disciplined us, they taught us how to behave properly as a girl and as a boy, they taught us how to dress properly, they taught us the right values. Because they are parents, they are responsible in helping us build a good foundation of our lives.

The struggle of kids on their sexuality, on bullying, on suicide – these are not issues that should be primarily “resolved” in schools. These are issues that need to be tackled within the family. If a child is reported to be bullying someone, it is the responsibility of the parent to talk to that child and correct that child. If a child is struggling with his/her sexuality, it is the responsibility of the parent to help that child overcome that struggle. If a child has suicide tendencies, it is the responsibility of the parent to assure that the child is loved no matter what. The problem with our society, some of the parents have lost their authority over their children. The society has more authority now over these kids than their parents.

SOGI is a band-aid. It is a work around that will never give a permanent solution. It will probably reduce bullying or suicide attempts but it will also cause more problems in the future for the young generation.

There is only one FIX for all the problems of this world. That fix was rejected 2000+ years ago up unto now. Just like anybody, I have my own struggles and problems in life. It may not be the same as the struggles on sexuality or bullying or depression but they are also real struggles in life. However, I chose the permanent FIX and not just a band-aid.

I chose JESUS to FIX my life and not what this world wants to offer. If you are a parent, choose what can really help your children so that when they grow up, they have a strong foundation that will help them overcome trials and challenges in this world. They need a foundation that will NEVER BE SHAKEN. And that’s only through a relationship with Jesus – the ONE who promised a life that is full and abundant.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – JESUS (John 10:10)

I am not a parent but I care so much for the young generation that it breaks my heart that they will be brought to a knowledge that will just add more confusion to their young and innocent minds.

The verses below show the heart of Jesus for the children. Before the parents loved them, Jesus already did even before they were formed into their mother’s womb. He knew them and He designed them with a life that is meaningful and purposeful (Psalm 19:13-18).

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. – Mark 10:13-16

I hope that we pray for the young generation that they will experience the love of God through His Son Jesus who alone can assure them of their true identity. I hope that we pray for parents and families who are going through these struggles and challenges that they will experience the transforming power of Jesus.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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Courage to Slow Down

When God answered my prayer to work for a different company, I was very happy and excited. I had been praying for it and this year I just felt that it was the right time. And indeed, God confirmed it. You can read more about that here.

My first few weeks in the new company were just refreshing. It started slow so I got a lot of time to learn and read about the company. As weeks continued to pass, I felt that the pace was still the same. It’s a pace that I was not used to. And it became a struggle for me. Most of us struggle with busyness in our day to day work. I did not know that slowing down would also become a struggle for me.

My heart started to complain. I started to grumble. In all honesty, there was no reason to grumble at all. During those weeks, my mind kept telling me to be grateful because I am very blessed and I am in a very good place. But you see, I entertained discontent in my heart. It was like that for weeks. I was already thinking of not extending my contract. I wanted a working environment that was the same as my previous company. I was struggling to adjust and embrace change.

I became stubborn for those weeks, playing deaf with God’s Word until He had to deal with me. He led me to Numbers 11.

“…but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'” – Numbers 11:20

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.” Numbers 11:1

Those verses described me, grumbling and complaining. I was asking God if His answered prayer was really what He wanted for me. I asked God, “Do you really want me to stay?” Very discontent. Very ungrateful.

God’s word for me this year is COURAGE.  I was thinking it was courage for things that He wanted me to pursue this year, courage to pursue bigger things that will help me accomplish my own personal goals. However, God’s thoughts were different. I did not expect at all.

All my grumbling weren’t because of my work. It was my heart. God asked me, Do you have the courage to stay in the company where I put you even if it is an environment that you are not used to and that you will struggle to adjust?

“So if you are tempted to walk away, make sure to seek God, because you never know what he might do if you have the courage to stay. ” – Divine Direction by Craig Groeschel

And He did not end there. Slowing down was not just in terms of work but on everything. I was planning so many things that I just wanted to keep going. I wanted to accomplish a lot that I can’t just slow down. But God wanted me to slow down on everything, no exceptions. And that was the most difficult. I had so many things I wanted to do this year – starting to build my company, starting a business back home. But then God said, drop everything. Pause.

That was it! Courage…to slow down. It’s so hard. I felt like I’m going to run out of time if I pause. I felt like I will be losing my opportunity. But who am I to question God’s ways? I need to be courageous in pursuing a life that takes time to relax, to rest, to think, to reflect, to prepare, to plan.

By God’s grace, I obeyed.

How has it been so far? I’m so happy to say that it has been so liberating. I didn’t know that God can truly give me this season to just enjoy the flowers on the wayside. I am learning to appreciate boredom. I have more time now to reflect. I don’t feel the pressure of making things happen. I don’t think about things that are years and years ahead. I am learning to just think about the next few days. Importantly, I am enjoying this time of letting God use this season of my life for His work.

Indeed, there is a time for everything. We all just need the courage to embrace that.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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BREAK-UP

I’m just a bit emotional. I felt like someone broke up with me. Though, I really haven’t experienced one. Haha! But anyway, I just feel like it.

Last 2013, was my first time to resign from the first company that I worked for more than 8 years. But when I left, it was a different kind of emotion. I felt free. Here’s a throwback. 😀

Just this Friday, I said my farewell to the second company I have worked for almost 4 years. And the reason I’m writing now is because I just needed an outlet of how I feel and let it be. I really don’t like dramas but you know what, this is my blog site. I just  want to be dramatic right now. LOL.

Anyway, leaving was my personal choice. It was time to move forward and explore other industries for my own growth. I had to choose growth over comfort. However, leaving this time was not easy.

In my years at the company, I had moved from one team to another. Worked with different people on different projects. Had multiple bosses. Change was super constant. But the last seven months were different. I became part of a team wherein we could all grow together. And to become a part of something that evolves and improves, it’s not just about work. It’s really about building relationship. It was just getting better. And that’s why it was sad to leave. And probably, it’s just me. It’s something I didn’t want to lose.

I just feel like a portion of my life right now got ripped. #drama … lol… But, that’s how I feel. It’s going to take a while. I’ll definitely miss our daily stand-ups and sometimes, excessive clapping. 😀 I will miss grooming  & retro sessions where everyone just really gets “passionate”.  😀  I will miss the crunch time moments when it’s close to end of sprint and everyone just jumps in to help. Just so many things going on everyday that I will surely miss. But most of all, I will miss the team and being part of the team. I will miss working with people who turned out to be friends.

Okay enough with this drama…haha… but those are all sincere words… I’m not going too far so I know I will still see them.

Next week, I will be walking down the hall, seeing unfamiliar faces. And I might still be sad. It’s going to be weird for a while, I guess. We’ll see…

National Leave the Office Early Day!

Until One Day

In my quiet time reading today, I was reading about a rich, young man who asked Jesus the most important question anyone can ask,

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18)

As I reflect on it, it made me look back of how my life was before.

Before I came to know who Jesus really is and really have a personal relationship with Him, everything written in the Bible are merely stories for me. It didn’t have any meaning in my life. I didn’t know back then what was really the end goal of having faith. For what?

Until one day, I started asking myself what is really the purpose of doing all the religious activities I did growing up.

Until one day, I realize my sinfulness.

Until one day, I became personal with God. I became curious about Him. Who He really is. Why do I need to pray to Him? I don’t even see Him.

All those “concepts” I learned about God became truth to me. And not just simply truth, they became true in my life. The Bible started having meaning in my life – all the way from Genesis to Revelation.

Eternal Life? I never knew that would be true. That’s only for characters I see on television. You know, those who never die. Superheroes. Vampires. But that’s not God’s idea of eternal life. It’s incomparable.

As I continued to seek God and what Jesus did for me, I was opened to the truth. God created eternal life. And it has always been His plan. It started at the Garden of Eden. Before men fell into sin.

You might be in the same place I was more than a decade ago. Knowing but not really understanding. Doing but not really knowing the reason for it. Going on with life, thinking as long as everything seems to be going well, life is good.

I can’t convince you just like other people wasn’t able to convince me about the truth of the Bible. The truth of Jesus. The truth of eternal life. Only God can really do the work. But because I opened my heart to Him. I allowed Him to reveal the truth to me.  I was changed. And it will always be the best decision I have made in my life.

There’s a big difference with just knowing… it should be knowing Him & experiencing Him – His love, His forgiveness, His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His holiness. That my friend is life-changing.

I pray that you will give God a chance if you haven’t. What can you really lose?

Just like that rich, young man, for sure you have a lot of questions also. Give God a chance to answer it. Start with an open mind and heart.

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On Deeper Faith

Two Sundays ago, I had the privilege to share one of my faith journeys during the worship service. I know I’ve blogged already about this 3 years ago, but I just thought it would be good to share again. I hope that this will encourage you to entrust your life to Jesus Christ so that you can walk in deeper faith. Blessed reading!

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Before I came to know Jesus I was a very independent person.  I am logical and thorough in my decision-making that I barely asked for counsel or advice from others. I would always want things done my way and was the type of person who would never make a decision until I was sure it would work out.  I was even awarded Most Self-Reliant in grade school.  Before I became a Christian, I did not know that God is not just an idea but a real person whom I can depend on and lead me. It took me a long time in my Christian walk to be in a place of surrender and dependence on God.  This is one the stories of the how the Lord shook my faith and brought me to that place of surrender and dependence.

It happened in the late part of 2013. My theme verse for that year was Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” — As I wrote in my journal, Jan. 20, 2013, “At this time of my life, I can sense God testing my faith. I can feel His hands pushing my faith beyond what I am used to.” End of writing– This was a time in my life when I had been praying if I should quit my corporate job and work fulltime in ministry.  By faith, I was ready to say yes to God and was ready to give up my career, my opportunities, my dreams – including my dream of immigrating to Canada.

In October 2013, there was an open position for Online Evangelism which I was very interested in. I submitted my application and went through the process. I said to myself that the result of my application will be my confirmation if I should stay or leave my corporate work. Of course I had to make sure, right? However, God had a different plan.  I sensed He wanted me to walk in faith and not by sight. So despite not being sure if my ministry application would be approved, and even with a chance of a promotion at work, I decided to resign. It was not an easy decision to make but God gave me a peace that “transcends understanding”.  November 23, 2013 –I wrote in my journal, “Many would say that I should not quit unless I have a new work to move to. However, that wasn’t what God is telling me. Every decision I made has been a step of faith and I’ve been grateful that God has been enabling me. I never thought I could make such decisions on my own. Without God, there would only be fear and doubts and lots of anxieties. And as I decided, it is with great faith and trust that God holds my future and it is for the best, it is for His glory. Whatever it will be, I know that He has prepared it and He will be with me as I journey towards it. End of writing —

Dec 27, 2013 was my last day in the company that I’ve worked for almost 9 years.  That was a day I will never forget. Do you believe in God’s perfect timing? That same day, I checked my personal email and saw a message from CCF HR. My application for the ministry was not accepted. Great timing, right? Of all the days I could’ve received that message, it was on my last day when there was no backing out of resigning.  I thought that when God asked me to walk in faith, it was about my willingness to give up my career and work full time. But His thoughts were different. He wanted me to walk in faith by bringing me to a place of uncertainty, to a great unknown.

In 2014 while everyone was looking forward to new beginnings, I was facing a new year of uncertainty. I got confused and lost. Walking in faith was getting harder. God asked me to quit my corporate job but it seemed He did not want me to do a ministry either.  Also, I prayed that when I quit my job I hoped there wouldn’t be any unplanned expenses for my family because I would no longer have health coverage but just 2 weeks after my last day my dad got into an accident. Talk about timing! God was really testing my faith. But despite the circumstances, He also enabled me to keep trusting Him. His peace did not allow fear and worries to overpower me. He showed to me in a very personal way that He had my back. All I needed to do was to depend on Him because I was reminded that He is the one who provided for my family and not me. He had the power to bless them without my help.

My journey into the great unknown continued. I kept seeking God on what He wanted me to do but the waiting was getting more difficult.  A GLC position in CCF became available and I thought, maybe this was what God wanted me to do and not the Online Evangelism job. I went to CCF to meet the GLC director and I was told that they really wanted me however there was no definite timeframe on when they would hire. It was very clear that God was once again saying, “No.”  That was another day I will never forget.  I was discouraged and everything just overwhelmed me. I felt like I gave up my career for nothing!  On my way home that day, I cried and got a bit annoyed with God. I asked Him, “Why don’t you want me to work fulltime for you when I already gave up my career and my dreams so that I can fully serve you? It just doesn’t make sense.” At the end of that day, I just gave up and surrendered to God. I stopped rationalizing. I decided to stop asking what, how, why, when. He wanted me to stay still and wait. And the only thing I can really do was to obey. And, so I did.

After four days, God gave me an answer. Feb. 22, 2014 – I got an email from Canada Immigration requesting my passport. My PR application for Canada was approved! I honestly thought it would not happen anymore because I already gave up on that dream.

That day, God once again showed to me how sovereign and gracious He is. Everything started making sense beginning that day.  For example leaving my job allowed me spend quality time with my family and friends before I left for Canada. Because I had a lot of free days, I was able to volunteer and be part of the Ravi Zacharias Conference in CCF.  And while I had financial challenges for my move to Canada, God was faithful and He provided for all my needs. He even prepared the way for me when I learned that just 1 month before arriving in Canada, CCF Vancouver launched and I had a home church to go to! I realized God did not really say, “No” to my desire to serve Him fulltime. It’s just that what He had in mind was different with what I had in mind. He allowed me to serve and be a part of this church-planting movement and meet such a loving family of God.  He also gave back to me what I surrendered to Him – my dreams, my career. Obedience is truly hard and it is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that we can take that step to keep trusting God amidst uncertainties. There were so many blessings that came with walking in faith and obedience. Indeed, He is an awesome and faithful God!

And while I am grateful for all those blessings, I honestly consider them as bonuses. The greatest reward I received was experiencing God in a very personal and intimate way as He led me on a journey that resulted in deeper faith and dependence on Him. Those moments will always remind me of the amazing love of God and how real Jesus is. Because of Jesus, who is my Lord, my Savior, my Source of peace and the Author of my faith, I was able to walk in faith and get out of the boat of comfort, self-reliance, fears and worries. Apart from Jesus, I will never be able to walk in faith towards the unknowns in my life.

My name is Stifany Araneta, I was self-reliant and I feared uncertainties in life but now by the grace of God through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I continue to learn to depend on God and not on myself. I continue to learn to walk in faith and not by sight.  On times of waiting and uncertainty, Hebrews 12:2 says, let us fix our eyes on Jesus always, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Praise and Glory be to God!Sunset chaser

Do you want to be sure?

Waking up on a Monday morning, feeling yucky with colds and cough was nothing when I read the news that my brother shared to me very early in the morning. Another shooting happened in US (Las Vegas) which killed 50 people. It is always heartbreaking to hear this kind of news. More heartbreaking for those families who lost their loved ones.

Just very recent also, the father of one of my best friends passed away. Such event in someone’s life reminds us that death is indeed inevitable. I, myself, experienced also a lost when my sister passed away 11 years ago. And, there are still days I would cry because of longing. But, after those tears is a comfort when I remember God’s promise of eternal life in heaven someday.

I’m not sure how you take the reality of heaven. As for me, I can never take it lightly. The reality of heaven also means there is a reality of hell. When someone passed away, the automatic thinking of people is the person who passed away will go to heaven. Who doesn’t want to go to heaven, right? But if we think heaven is “always” the destination of those who died, what is the purpose of hell, then?

I desire that all my loved ones will go to heaven. God desires the same thing for all of us. 2 Peter 3:9 says, that the Lord is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. However, it is very important to base our statement from Biblical truth and not just declaring it because that’s what we want to believe.

God gave us the assurance of our salvation and eternal life through His Word. It is a life that we can look forward to and a promise that gives us hope that indeed, our life here on earth is temporary and the best is yet to come.

How can we have that assurance? How can our loved ones have that assurance?

From the words of Jesus, Himself…

John 14: 2-3 –  “ My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” 

John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

Some of us might have known Jesus since childhood, through our parents, going to church or even at school. Some of us might have not known Jesus at all. Whatever we know or not know, the truth remains the same that it is only through Jesus that we can go to the Father and to the place that He has prepared. The question is what to do with that truth? Do we explore or do we take it lightly?

The word “believe” that is used in the Bible is more than just accepting truth.  BELIEVE – PISTUEO – to trust in and rely upon, commit to the charge of, confide in, have a mental persuasion. God wants us to have a relationship with His Son, Jesus. He wants us to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose after 3 days, and anyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). And by having Jesus in our life means we will have the Holy Spirit who will help us live a transformed life – turning away from our old sinful ways. There is so much to know about what it means to live a life for God when we read the Bible.  But we have to take that first step – believe in Jesus. Allow Him to transform you. Let Him take charge. Have a relationship with Him.  That is how we get to heaven! Through Jesus alone.

And, what about hell? The Bible also speaks a lot about hell –  a place that will keep someone eternally separated from God.

Revelations 21: 8 – But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Matthew 25: 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Physical death is not the end. Second death or the spiritual death is. It is the death that we don’t want to experience. (Luke 16: 19-31)

I wish I can fit in one blog everything the Bible talks about heaven and hell. But, it is a truth worth exploring. At the end of the day, all of us want to be assured of one thing. Our life after this lifetime. And God is so loving and gracious that He gives us promises and warnings that we may know, hope and believe based on the truth of His Word.

As I think about those 50 people who died, it made me ask the question, did they believe in Jesus? Are they saved? Will they go to heaven? For that person who shot them, it made me ask a question – what if he had a relationship with Jesus?

Death is only scary when you are not sure where you go after. Heaven or Hell?

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And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12)

 

 

 

Gratitude Attitude

I just finished watching the CCF Sunday Message through Livestream and the message hit me big time.

I don’t know when it started but I had again a phase of grumbling and complaining at work. Things at work are mostly really busy for me. If I can eat lunch with my colleagues on time and consistent in a week, that is already a huge break for me.  And, I really think that God allows it to happen to reveal what is in my heart and to test my character.  You see, being busy at work is not really the problem. It’s not even like I bring work at home. However, because I am overwhelmed with work that I expect other people to work in same pace and provide results as I do. That’s when the grumbling and complaining happens.

The message I just listened talked about “Entitlement”. And how to avoid it is to always have a gratitude attitude. And this really hit me. I feel like I complained too much that I already lose sight of the true important things. Things that I should learn to count and be grateful for. I also forgot that I myself is a recipient of grace. In God’s standard, I will never be good. But because of His grace through Jesus, He is able to forgive me of my misses and failures. I am reminded that I should be the same to other people. I have to stop easily judging people and see them  as how God sees them.

I used to have reminder at my desk at work, “Increase Appreciation, Lower Expectation”. I should really put that back to remind me to always learn to see the good on people. It is very hard especially when you expect people to perform based on their status and position. By God’s grace, I’m praying that I will really learn to lower my expectation and even more surrender those to God as He is the one who is really in control.

The cause of my busyness was a big project I was part of that just got implemented recently. It’s a good accomplishment and it was successful. But, in all honesty, I feel that I failed the test God gave me. I ended up grumbling so much instead of rejoicing more. I became loud inside instead of allowing peace to work in my heart. I forgot to be grateful of the blessing of work and blessing of relationship. I lose sight of what truly matters for eternity.

I know that God will always bring me to circumstances that  will prune and mold me as God’s purpose for us has always been Christ-likeness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray that I will be better next time.

I want to end this by thanking God for a lifetime of grace that is overflowing for me and for you that we may always be reminded of what truly matters and to always be grateful.

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3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:3-8

be grateful!