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

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Pizza & Passion

I’m currently reading one of John Maxwell’s books entitled, “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow” (thanks to a good friend for giving this book).  Past days, I was reading the chapter about the importance of Passion. Maxwell shared the story of how Papa John’s Pizza started and grew.  Maxwell describes the owner as, “John Schnatter not only eats Papa John’s Pizza; he breathes, sleeps and lives it.” The success of Papa John’s Pizza is because of passion.

As I continued to read, it made me ask myself what is the one thing that I am really passionate about? What is the one thing that I am willing to spend hours and hours to do it? What is it that I specifically accomplish that gives me a sense of fulfillment? Sounds cliche, right? But it’s a question that most of us are really finding it hard to answer.

As I thought about it, I realized there is one consistent thing that I always enjoy doing and is always present in all phases of my life – teaching/coaching/mentoring.

I remember when I was in grade school, I would play pretend as a teacher of an imaginary class. When I was in high school, I remember I did tutorials to some of my classmates. When I was in college, I volunteered teaching kids on a Saturday as well as did tutorials for Korean students. I also tutored my younger brother on his Math. When I started working and grew in my career, I learned and enjoyed coaching/mentoring people in my team. Currently, I volunteer on some Sundays to teach kids during Sunday school. As part of my ministry, I’ve been doing discipleship with group of single women that allows me to encourage and mentor them as we all grow together in our walk with God.

I believe God has cultivated in my life to have a heart for people’s growth. If there’s one thing I can see myself really being patient – it is on people who are willing to learn and grow.  However, this so-called passion that I think I have is something I still haven’t really thought about deeply. I just know that I enjoyed coaching people at work or teaching kids but the pattern since I was young never occurred to me until recently.

This is something I really have to think through in the coming days, weeks, months. I must stop ignoring and really start not just thinking but also praying and seeking wisdom on how I can pursue it with an end goal in mind.

As Schnatter’s philosophy goes, “Concentrate on what you do well and do it better than anybody else.”

Also, just like Jesus when He was here on earth. He is the perfect example of what it means to pursue your passion. He never got off tracked of what He needed to do. He did the one thing that was expected of Him. And because of that, His passion (suffering) and resurrection made way for us to have the hope of a new life and be reconciled with God.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

How about you? What are you willing to suffer and spend long hours at night? What is the one thing that excites you and you will never get tired of doing?

A conceptual image representing a focus on passion

Meeting over Spicy Tuna Pesto and Turbo Chicken

I invited everyone in the core group of the ministry I am part of – Singles@Work to have the continuation of our planning and meeting at my place over dinner.

I prepared two main dishes which are two of my favorites. I prepared a turbo whole chicken marinated in salt, pepper, calamansi, oregano, some seasoning and lemon grass. I let it soak for more than 2 hours.  (I forgot to take a picture when it got cooked. )

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I also prepared my specialty – spicy tuna pesto pasta. I usually buy a ready to mix pesto sauce but unfortunately the supermarket near my place ran out of it so I have to do the sauce from scratch, for the first time. I used my Magic Bullet blender to make the sauce. I mixed the fresh basil leaves (which I sooo love the smell!) with olive oil first, then, added chopped garlic and little bit of salt and pepper.

Then, I sauteed the tuna with onions. I mix Century Tuna Spicy and the one in Vegetable oil. After which, I added the pesto sauce I have made. I put in the pasta then added the nuts as last. I don’t like mixing the nuts when I do the sauce.

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My visitors and their happy stomachs. 🙂

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S@W

Tonight, I attended the Friday session of Singles at Work discussing about Success. The best way to spend a Friday night is this – Fellowship.

Every Friday, professional singles meet in a building in Ortigas to tackle different topics related to our day to day life. And then we break out into groups to discuss further about it. Encouraging one another. What’s more nice is we always make sure that what is tackled is always based on God’s Word.

After the session, we would normally go out for dinner or coffee( or tea for some or cold drinks ..heee).

This is a good venue to just air out the whole week sentimens from work without anyone judging you. 🙂

Praise God for S@W!