Because He is…

“We underestimate the power of our own will.”

That’s what struck me from a sermon I just finished listening few minutes ago. It is somehow a good intro of what I want to share on how my 2019 turned out to be.

I must say 2019 was a continuation of my 2018 journey.  Though really, our journey is not bounded by end or start of a year. It just keeps going.

2019 was a very humbling year for me. God helped me discover things about myself that I didn’t know were happening to me. What I went through during the later part of the year is hard to explain. It’s really true that only God knows the deepest of our heart. When I share it to people, it would seem petty and just really a normal struggle anyone can go through. But from my end, it was a battle. I struggled with anxiety and deep fear that paralyzed my faith, took away my joy and shattered my peace. No matter how hard I fought it, I would find myself back into the pit. It’s like quicksand.

As a child of God, the only way to overcome the battle was to continue reading God’s Word even if it was hard holding on to it. I kept asking myself what was really the cause of all of it. I thought it was my stressful work. I thought it was certain circumstances that didn’t go the way I wanted it to be. God eventually made it clear for me. He showed me that I’m weak. Not that I didn’t know I am weak. I for sure am aware that I am weak – on certain areas in my life. But God showed to me the kind of weakness that I wasn’t aware has slowly been crawling into my life.

I am weak in allowing myself to be slowly swayed into the comfort and “good” of the world without being aware of it. I am weak that I was becoming self-entitled and demanding in a very subtle way without being aware of it. I am weak that I was becoming ungrateful when things didn’t turn out the way I thought it would be. I am weak in thinking that when God provides, it will always be smooth and easy. I am weak when my focus was starting to be about myself and what I want and what I deserve. I am weak that even just little difficulties, I would just want to give up.

It is so true that most of the time we underestimate the power of our will. We don’t realize the little things we feed into our mind will eventually change the way we think and the way we believe. I’m still in that battlefield, letting God continue to renew my mind and transform my heart. Fear & anxiety would try to creep in from time to time, but Jesus helps me overcome. His peace is undefeated.

People who know me might think that I am always okay. When people see me at church, they would probably think I am doing well with my walk with God. That those I mentioned above never manifested when they see me or when I serve. All I can say, despite my weakness, God’s work will continue to move. And that’s what amazes me. In the midst of my struggles, His work doesn’t stop.

The biggest blessing for me in the midst of this struggling time is to experience God’s presence and to see how He can continue His work through a season of brokenness. Every time I would find myself going to church, being at work, serving in ministry, meeting my discipleship group or cleaning my room – I know that it was all Him. My own will would just be in a depressed state, in my bed and just be thoughtless. But His grace was working during the time my own will just couldn’t. 

In my almost 15 years as a follower of Christ, I was never in this state of deep anxiety and fear. And somehow, I have understood how those people who really struggled with depression, on how hard must it be for them especially if they don’t know Jesus. What’s the source of their hope? What are they holding on to keep going?

Please include me in your prayers and pray for your loved ones who are probably going through difficult times right now.

If there’s one thing I would like you to take from this is that to remember that we have a sovereign and powerful God. Because He is who He says He is,  even if I am weak, His work will prevail. I may be defeated, but Jesus is not defeated. And that’s the truth that I am holding on. That even if there were days that I have failed, Jesus has already overcome it for me.

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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:10-13

 

A Conference to Remember

From a worshiper to a worshiper:

Just this weekend, I attended the Worship Central Conference. I wasn’t really planning to attend as I thought the conference was just for the worship music ministry of the different churches. However, some of my friends who planned to go needed a closer place (which is my place) to stay for overnight as they will be going home late. I was thinking, if I would be staying up late to wait for them, why don’t I just go with them. And, good thing I didn’t have a plan for the weekend. I checked the conference details and I realized the plenary sessions and workshops were actually applicable to any Christian believer. So, I went.

I attended with no expectation but just to meet God in that conference. And indeed, I got what I needed and more.

There were so many sessions and workshops that I needed time (which was the whole afternoon today!) to digest, chew and absorb everything that God has reminded, revealed, rebuked, taught and spoken to me.

The theme of the conference is: “STEP IN”.

Here are my reflections/take-aways/action points from the conference:

  • The story of the Samaritan woman (John 4) reminded me of how Jesus steps into our life, not to make us feel guilty of our offenses and sins but to have a personal relationship with Him. He exposes our sins to us but He does not leave us in that situation. He offers love, hope, redemption and forgiveness. And importantly, He wants us to be aware of our sins but He gives us the assurance that He still loves us. He does not want us to doubt of His love, ever. And that’s what the Samaritan woman experienced at the well. It changed her life and influenced other people.
  • The story of the lame person (Acts 3) since birth sitting at the Beautiful Gate asking for alms rebuked me of how I respond to the homeless people I see on the streets.  In all honesty and I’m not proud of, I always have the feeling of fear when I see homeless people on streets. I feel compassion and really wants to help in my own small ways however, fear precedes more. And this has been a struggle that I’ve been praying for a long time. And God just broke my heart. The words that really etched in my mind were – Fear Less, Love More. I have to stop seeing them as what the society sees them (homeless, addict, etc.). I have to start seeing them as people whom God also loves and whom God also sent Jesus for.  Just like me, they are people who need Jesus to set them free  and save them from their brokenness. And I really pray, that I will be able to find ways to reach out to them.
  • As I was reflecting on the story of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), especially on these verses: “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.  Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. “… God opened my eyes to a very relevant truth. I am standing on a valley of dry bones. God did not just bring me here to Canada to start a new life. He “set me down in the midst of the valley”.  For almost four years, I still keep figuring out why God put a desire in my heart to come here and why He brought me here. There could be so many different reasons, but I believe His revelation this weekend is one of those reasons why I am here. I just don’t pray for this nation, I need to break my heart and weep in prayer for this country. God seeks people He can use to breathe into so that through them, He can give life to those dry bones. I must become the hands, feet and voice of God. Where? In my families, in my circle of friends, in my neighborhood, at my workplace, on the streets. 
  • Another comforting reminder also was the importance for us believers in understanding and in knowing the authority that we have in Jesus Christ. Even if I was at the conference, there were those moments that I would think about my Monday meeting at work. You see, I’ve been doing meetings with senior leadership for so many times. However, I would still feel nervous. And because I am just new to the company, all the more I feel more nervous. I don’t want to mess up and leave a bad impression. But those words from the conference, “AUTHORITY” in Christ put a peace in my heart. God brought me to that new workplace not to be defeated by my own self-focused worries. God brought me there because He knows that I can be a platform, for Him to do something in that workplace. He has given me the authority to speak blessings, to encourage, to be a light, to excel, to influence – not to FEAR, but to LOVE.
  • Greatly reminded of what the true heart of a worshiper should be. As the speaker Pete Greig said (in the context of worshiping in songs)…

“Worship is not being excited about the music or making music. Worship is being excited in meeting Jesus through the music.”

And my longer version that I need to keep reminding myself daily…

“Worship is to be excited not on the things that God has prepared us to do

…not on the music or making music

…not on the outcome of circumstances

…not on the answers of our prayers

…not on the provisions & victories

…not on the ministry work or task

…not on the people we encounter.

It is to be excited on the presence of God

…on meeting God

…on knowing God

…on experiencing God in every detail, in every moment of our life.

Worship is being excited on Jesus!”

We must be like Peter, always ready to plunge!

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. (John 21:7)

The most amazing thing in that conference is to see, feel and experience the presence of God in a very tangible way. And I pray that all of us who attended there – singing songs of revival and surrender, nodding  and saying Amen’s to the messages, have responded not just within the halls of that building but have responded beyond those walls to our God who is seeking worshipers that He can send to valleys of dry bones. May we Step In.

When we step into the presence of God, we just don't chill out.

 

‘Twas a good year

First blog entry of 2018! Wooohooo! I thought I would be writing more last year as I hope I would, but there was just too much to write that I can’t keep up. LOL…

But of course, I will never start the year without a recap of my 2017 and what to look forward to for this new year.

Last year was about taking more risks, as I wrote in my 2017 first blog entry.

As I mentioned in my previous shares, I am not the type of person that would really take risks. I always want certainty. Every time I make a decision, I always make sure that’s really what God wants me to do. And, God has been so gracious to me that He truly works in my life that way also. He does not allow confusion in my life. He really knows me well. 🙂 It’s always a Yes or No.

Anyway, the risks I was telling you were really more on taking bigger steps on things that I feel like I won’t really be able to do and hoping would have lasting value. And by God’s grace, He enabled me to take some. As I look back now, I don’t know how I could have done it. But He is a good Father. He does not let us stay the same. He wants us to walk by faith. And I always tell God, if He does not want it, then just stop me from doing it. So, I still have to see how things will be. But before I talk about the future, I’d like to share what I had done last year that really made me grow as a person. It may not be risks for you, but me knowing me, I just don’t know how I could have done it. Amazingly, God also uses people to just push you, walk with you, support you, pray for you and encourage you. And, I’m truly grateful for those people!!

My 2017 Risk list… LOL…

1. Push your limit

Every summer, my church friends and I would always try to do a lot of hiking as it’s really the only time of the year we can do a lot of outdoor activities. Years before, we’ve always wanted to go to Wedgemount Lake but the trail is difficult. But, last year we just had to do it. We kinda hesitated but still in the end we found ourselves hiking to the lake. And I must say, it was really the most difficult trail I have done but the view was worth it. Though, I don’t think I will ever do it again. I don’t know how we survived the last part of the trail. I was praying endlessly as the trail was really dangerous. Thank God we made it back down!

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Another physical activity I challenged my self to do was the Rugged Maniac obstacle race. I always enjoyed obstacle races, it’s kinda like Amazing Race. However, the obstacle races I’ve done did not require strength and physical endurance. Those were just for fun. Rugged Maniac might be the easiest obstacle race compared to the other ones – Spartan, Tough Mudder, etc. But for me, it was the most extreme physical activity I’ve done in my whole life. LOL. So, I was kinda scared because I didn’t know if I’ll finish it – whole and safe. It was good because I had girlfriends with me who also joined for the first time. This one, I might do again next time. I really had fun – all mud & falling.

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Another not so physical activity that I had been procrastinating was to take my road test. For one, I never drove in the Philippines. I had some lessons but that’s it. Growing up, our family never owned a vehicle until I graduated from university. But then, I left home and moved to Manila. And living in Manila did not really encourage me to drive also. I don’t think I’ll ever dare. But when I moved here, I realize it’s really about time. I always feel like driving is not for me knowing that I’m no risk-taker. I feel like driving  is a risk…haha! I’m too cautious. It took me a lot of courage. Finally, I took my road test. And of course, I failed. Haha! But then, now I can keep moving. I just have to keep trying until I make it.

2. BIG Decisions

I was never a big dreamer until God showed me that indeed nothing is truly impossible for Him. On the latter part of 2016, I started having the desire to start my own company. This desire started when I realize how unfortunate it is for IT graduates at my hometown, Bacolod City, to not have so many opportunities for them to really work using their degree when they have so much potential. And so, when I went home that year, I asked my college classmates if they are interested to join me. I did not really get any response.  Fast forward next year , 2017. Two of my college classmates wanted to do the same. And so, we gave it a try. March of 2017, we launched our start up company and had our first client. We don’t know how to run a company. But, we do know how to provide service. And for me, that was enough to start. Our start up is based in Bacolod City. It is still struggling but I’m hoping that one day, we will be able to hire so many graduates and help build the IT workforce in Bacolod. Last December, we organized a hackathon event to really see the skills of the IT students. And, I was just impressed of how much potential Bacolod truly has. I really hope more IT jobs will come to Bacolod. And if you know potential clients, please let us know! More clients mean more jobs for the fresh graduates!

I’ve always enjoyed organizing events. God has blessed me with administrative gift that I am able to use it not just in my day to day job but also in ministries. Such a privilege. Last year, I organized two events – one for our church and one for Beautifully Waiting. And of course, I can never do it on my own. The difficult part of organizing is the time of planning and preparing. Last year was really one of the busiest and most tiring at my workplace for me. I was working on a big initiative that I felt like it used up all my mental and physical energy that every time I come home from work, I just want to go to bed. However, I trusted that God would sustain me as I took a step of faith in organizing those events. The good thing about those events were those were God’s events, not mine. And so, I just really surrendered to Him everything. And by His grace, He carried me through until the end. And also very grateful, there were people who were always willing to help. Also, for Beautifully Waiting event, it was my first time to speak and share in an event. When the event ended, I looked back of the journey before the event started and I was just in awe of how God just made everything happen. He did it!

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2017 was just the start of taking risks. This year, God has impressed in my heart that I need all the courage I could have to face all that’s going to happen this year. New opportunities, growth of our start up company, more events to share Jesus and spread His love, bigger decisions, lots of challenges. I told God to allow me to go through so many failures and rejections so that I will be more courageous. I am still that person who gets a little cautious at times. Scared of taking risks. Doesn’t want to take steps of faith. However, with what God had allowed me to go through last year, God showed to me that with the little faith I have, He can use it to accomplish big things. Really, it’s not just me being courageous but it is also because I have a BIG GOD who can do things beyond my expectations.

I know this is a pretty long blog but I hope I have somehow encouraged you, that we can never stay the same as we were years ago. For us to grow, we need to take little steps of faith, take some risks. But make sure, that those are really well-prayed. Prayer is the only weapon you have as you make those decisions.

May you have a courage-filled 2018!  God bless your 2018!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

It doesn’t matter

One thing I am grateful for social media is it allows me to see the world. I see vacation posts, heartbreaking stories, inspiring stories, government updates, economic news,  parenting tips, etc. You name it.

Though, whatever I read or see triggers different thoughts and emotions in me. I would wish I can go for a vacation also. Or, I wish I could help. Or, I get disapppointed. Or, I want to encourage too. 

But when all of those thoughts and emotions pass, I would ALWAYS be reminded of God’s Word. “Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things.” I always ask the question, “Does it really matter to God?”

…if I go or not go for a vacation?

…if the whole world does not know my own little acts of kindness?

…if I live in a country with economic problems?

…if I can only inspire one or two compared to others who can inspire the world?

…if I don’t ever become a parent?

God’s answer to me, “The Lord DELIGHTS in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭147:11‬

That’s what matters to God. How I honor Him, fear Him, love Him. The condition of my heart is really what matters to God. I should never measure the worth of my life by earthly things. And I can only do this if I have Jesus in my life, His Son whom He is well pleased.

#thoughtsbeforeisleep

What’s wrong with me?

Seriously, what is wrong with me?

I felt like I’ve been trapped in fear of failure. I am truly grateful for my work but the past days, I feel like I’m slowly losing confidence on myself. I feel like I’m going to fail anytime. This is how I always feel when I’m not in my comfort zone.

I don’t know if my brain just really got slower in processing new knowledge every day or I am just really incapable of my work. I never liked this feeling of waking up each day, fearing that things might not go well at work.

And maybe the reason for this is I tend to think what other people might think of me. Instead of just focusing on what I need to do, I tend to over think of how things might turn out to be in a negative way.

I don’t like this struggle. God is enough to assure me that He will help me and sustain me. But I still give in to fear that I end up spaced out and worn out.

I know I just have to trust God each day with every detail of my work. I know He cares about what I do because He cares for me. I know there is nothing to be afraid or worry about. He will guide me every step of the way.

What’s wrong with me? The way I think is what’s wrong with me. I pray that God will continue to renew my mind that I may overcome fear through Jesus.

Hope tomorrow will be a better day!