Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Beloved BERNARD Turns 30

Blessed I am when I met you
At that time His plan for us I don't know
We simply sat during VCS and sang "The B-I-B-L-E"
Who would expect we share even songs of Lecrae

Elementary years we were cat and dog
We can't sit together otherwise World War II
Now we laughed at those crazy days
Especially that event in Ma'am Nelly's place

"Rah for dear SEPNAS" - our next home
On our third year, suddenly -- BOOM!
Changed in hearts, changed in relationship
Thanks to CHRIST, in Him we found our friendship

New interests, new goals - everything was changed
Oh what a magnificent Love into our hearts overflowed
With you I have a bestfriend, a father, a discipler - I am blessed
Working together in His vineyard, His Name is forever praised

A bunch of memories we shared in UP Baguio
Many people asked if we you were my boyfriend and I got tired of answering no
Who would have believe the bond we have; you are more than a brother to me
A bond that desires nothing else that the exaltation of God's glory

Relationship now becomes much sweeter
For CHRIST reveals that you are my GODsend ever
I'm pretty sure you will tease me of that moment on March 9
When chao fan was not eaten because of throbbing heart of mine

Days passed by so quickly; two months after our awaited June 30
I still can't help to marvel and stand in awe of God's display of His majesty
You are now thirty, I hope to renew that vow with you after twenty years
But I wonder if we can still do the Sunset Bay adventures

Monday, April 30, 2012

Single Vision: Entranced by the Beauty of Christ

But my eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord…(Psalm 141:8a) 

In Matthew 6: 22-23, it says:
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Consulting John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, this is what I got:
The eye is the lamp of the body - And what the eye is to the body, the intention is to the soul. We may observe with what exact propriety our Lord places purity of intention between worldly desires and worldly cares, either of which directly tend to destroy. If thine eye be single - Singly fixed on God and heaven, thy whole soul will be full of holiness and happiness. If thine eye be evil - Not single, aiming at any thing else.
No wonder that the lamp of the wicked is haughty eyes which are detestable to God (Proverbs 21:4; Proverbs 6:16-17). 

Warnings about Our Eyes
  • Lust of the eyes is one of the sinful desires and proofs that you love the world. It is not from the Father (I John 2:16). One of the devil’s deceiving ways is not to show you something bad but to entice you with what is pleasing to the eye. (see Genesis 3:6, the fruit was pleasing to the eye of Eve) 
  •  What is seen by the eyes is tempting to become our standards of living. God has warned Samuel in I Samuel 16:7 not to look at the outward appearance for man intends to look that way. The eye can deceive us not to look beyond. Because the things of the worlds seem to be more attractive sometimes, that is the need that we need to look above and train our eyes to be focused on the cross of Christ. 
  • Our eyes deceive us to focus on ourselves and become selfish and self-righteous (Proverbs 3:7). There is the danger also on looking more often at yourself, not just at the world. Pharisees are wise in their own eyes but are fools in front of God. May we never be a Pharisee, keeping the eyes on one’s state and always looking at himself higher and more righteous that the others. 
  •  Lust of the flesh starts with the eyes (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28). 

Take the following examples and how they use their eyes:
  • Eve (Gen. 3:6) – she was deceived by the pleasing appearance of the forbidden fruit 
  •  Lot (Gen. 13:8-11) – he chose what is pleasing to his eyes and was led to Sodom and Gommorah and later needed to run away from it for the Lord will destroy the place
  • Israelites (Exodus 14) – they saw the Egyptian army and was easily deceived that they have forgotten what the Lord has just done to them
  • Samson (Judges 14) – Samson’s weakness as they say are women when in fact, his weakness is his eyes. He is easily attracted and he gives in easily to what is pleasing to his eyes.
  • Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) – he saw the power of the God working in the lives of the apostles and so, instead of standing in awe of God’s greatness, he was enticed by the power he saw. 

Some Spiritual Disciplines for the Eyes 

  1.  We should fix our eyes on Jesus. (Psalm 25:15; 121:1; 141:8;Hebrews 12:2)  
  2. We should fix our eyes on God and His precepts. (Psalm 17:2; 119:6, 15, 14) 
  3. We should fix our eyes not on temporal things but on eternal and spiritual. (II Corinthians 4:18)
  4. We should forsake anything worthless. (Psalm 101:3; 119:37)
  5. We should fix our eyes on those who set godly examples. (Philippians 3:17)
  6. We should fix our eyes on the needs of others more than our needs. (Philippians 2:4)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Unto Us, Not Unto Us

Mighty in power, Sovereignly He reigns
When He thunders, the earth shakes
And by His touch, He soothes my stone heart

He found me blinded by the world's romantic schemes
What an incomparable beauty I see, though these are just Your Majesty's beams
Glory and majesty, show me more of Your glory
My heart was so satisfied, I faced no worry

Year after year You never fail, my GOD, to excite me
You even gave me a Bestfriend, a co-warrior in this journey
But from time to time, I try to make it on my own
So you also gave me a Discipler to immerse me on Your Word

Much of the knowledge, I need to also have the heart
So I was given a Father so discipline won't be so hard
But what is Biblical womanhood without a man?
So I desire to have one as You taught me Proverbs 31

But this heart is so deceitful, it started to man-hunt
But the more I looked, the more pain I got
And when my heart was enveloped with unbelief and anxiety
You always tell me, "Delight yourself in Me"

May this poem testify my foolish actions
Whenever "Is there really one for me?" I question
For in time I gave up this "impossible mission"
There you told me to untie my gift's ribbon

Oh, how could I've been so fool looking around
Waiting and be depressed in this chain I made myself bound
And was it not a year ago when I was too overwhelm and in awe
For back way in past eternity, you already had that gift prepared for me

And for twelve months, you did never depart from us
You even let us enjoy You together with this new passion and convictions
"Not unto us, not unto us", may it stay so true in our hearts
And I love thy Bernard for he loves You, my Lord, that much

Three Decades of God's Faithfulness: A Reflection

When I was just a recent convert, one of the songs I love to sing is Steve Kuban's Hallowed Be Thy Name (lyrics here). This song taught me some of the Names of God and their meanings. Names found in this song are very true in my three decades of existence.

"The LORD will provide" (Genesis 22:14)

I can't count the times whenever I'm in need and then blessings come my way. I seldom buy my stuffs; they just come to me when I need them. God's providence in my life is truly remarkable that everytime I count His blessings I always stand in awe and lost in counting.

One of the greatest gift God has given me was on this day last year, I finally met my Godsend. Who would have expected that? Last night, I was scanning my journals and they can testify the cycle of struggles in waiting and the contentment/satisfaction with being single. And God has indeed provided me Bernard.

"The LORD is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1)

I can not forget the illustration of the faithful shepherd - he is someone who leads the sheep their way, draws them back to the line with his staff if ever they are wandering off, pastures them in the greenest and safest place and is willing to risk his life when predators are near.

I am always safe and secure because the LORD is indeed my Shepherd.

"The LORD Is Peace" (Judges 6:24)

Gideon felt the doom when he saw the angel; but the LORD assured him he would not die. And how can I fathom how Christ made me at peace with God (Ephesians 2:14) and how peace that transcends understanding guards my heart (Philippians 4:7)? Oh, His mercy and goodness is indeed beyond understanding! But I know it well that my heart is always at peace in His presence and all I can say is BLESSED BE YOUR NAME, my LORD!


"I am the LORD, your healer" (Exodus 15:26)

I have thoracic dextroscoliosis. I was almost not admitted in UP Baguio because they fear that Baguio's climate might harm me. I am not totally healed from this illness yet the Lord spares me from pain and suffering. I have heard people complaining about back pains but God is too good, He is sooooo good to me. He is my Jehovah Rohi.

Two instances that my loved ones were spared too. My mother almost died giving birth to our youngest. We were told by the doctor that we needed to choose between her and the baby, it was January 18th, Sunday. While I was in the church, praising God and laying at His feet my troubled heart, Mama gave birth safely. A year after, my father needed surgery in his brain. We had to transfer him from Pangasinan General Hospital to Baguio but we were warned (and tortured, I guess) that he might not be able to make the transfer. That incident happened just few months before I entered college. I am working now for about eight years, my Papa is still with us.

Those were the years that God is so real in my life. I can never and will never doubt His workings in my life. He is alive and He is real! My Jehovah Rohi, He really heals!


"The LORD is our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6)

...the Son of God only is; who is become so by his obedience to the law, and by bearing the penalty of it; and who, having been delivered for our offences, rose again for our justification: and this righteousness, which he has wrought out to the satisfaction of law and justice, becomes "ours"; it being signed for us, and wrought out for us, by a free gift of it is given to us; ours through the imputation of it to us by the Father, and in virtue of our union to Christ, and interest in him; and through the application of it to us by the Spirit of God; who puts it upon us, and clothes us with it, and enables us to lay hold upon it, and claim interest in it... (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

I am righteous in the sight of GOD because Christ's righteousness has become mine. Blessed be Your Name, my Jehovah Tsidkenu!

"I am the LORD who sanctifies" (Leviticus 20:8)

Looking back at my life before God found me, I will really shrink in shame. Never ask me how I start to look for and love GOD; I really don't know. Thank be to His grace that He works in me so I can see Him; otherwise, I am not Christian until now. Never can I see myself at that such filthiness and stone-hearted state to desire God. God did not just change me; He is continually purifying and sanctifying me. Bernard and I can't help to cry whenever we talk about how the grace of GOD continually transforms us. My Jehovah M'Kaddesh, glory unto You alone! He is the one who purifies me, sanctifies me.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Thessalonians 5:23 )

"The LORD is my Banner" (Exodus 17:15)

I can never forget how this Name calmed my heart. Tired of the battle, hopeless for SCC-UMYF's renewal...lowered my sword, cried my heart out during Steve Kuban's concert. Everybody is rejoicing but I am in the middle of them, crushed and defeated. The LORD upheld me and I am not sure if Bernard can still remember that on that day, he was given unto me as my partner in ministry, a blessing to SCC-UMYFP. The battle is won, I can say. Seeing these young people grow in the knowledge of God made me stand in awe! And though there are more battles ahead of us, that incident has taught me lesson I will never forget. My GOD is victorious until the end and He is my Banner!

"The LORD Is There" (Ezekiel 48:35)

My God is Omnipresent! I can not hide from Him and wherever I will be, He is always there for me. Looking back again during my father's operation in Baguio, my friends Maridol and Bernard had no idea where I was and what we were up to. I needed someone to at least hold on to but I got no one. I tried to call any of them but I was unable to do so. My mother told me first of her need for support; I was not even given a chance to tell her how I felt also. Nobody was there but there was peace and the courage I couldn't explain; the Lord was there with me. He is always there with me.

These are not enough to testify God's goodness and faithfulness in my life for the past three decades. I am here crying as I draft this reflection. Oh, how blessed I am to be loved by You, my LORD! Hallowed be Thy Name!

What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention. (Job 7:17)

What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Biblical Courtship: Radical Living for the Lover of My Soul

The following are some quotations which manifest the misconceptions about love and dating:

It’s not like I really have to have a boyfriend, but I do like the confirmation that someone likes me.(quoted from DeMoss & Gresh, 2008)

At school, it is really hard as Christian to try to stand up for waiting for the right guy to come along. It is really pushed to have a boyfriend, because that is what everyone else does. (quoted from DeMoss & Gresh, 2008)

I wanted the excitement of romance and the comfort of being liked. (quoted from Harris, 2004)

To find true love, a young woman must put a huge amount of effort into the pursuit of romantic relationships. (quoted from Ludy, 2009)

Courtship and dating are supposed to be synonymous in meaning. However, both have developed different connotations that made them so opposite from each other. What do I mean with that? Let us see this insight from Scott Croft:

"Courtship ordinarily begins when a single man approaches a single woman by going through the woman's father, and then conducts his relationship with the woman under the authority of her father, family, or church, whichever is most appropriate. Courtship always has marriage as its direct goal.

Dating, a more modern approach, begins when either the man or the woman initiates a more- than-friends relationship with the other, and then they conduct that relationship outside of any oversight or authority. Dating may or may not have marriage as its goal."

Kissing Dating Goodbye; Embracing Biblical Courtship

The Principle
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

The whole aspect of our being should shout and display the glory of God...and that includes our principles, our attitudes and our approach towards love and courtship.

Practical Applications

1. HEART: Biblical Motive
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1Corinthians 10:31)

The very purpose and end of courtship is marriage; therefore, if we have a motive other than that, then we have to seek God's grace to change our hearts. Christians should not be selfish to pursue their own desires and needs.

"The motive for dating or courting is marriage. The practical advice I give the singles at our church is, if you cannot happily see yourself as a married man (or woman) in less than one year, then you are not ready to date." (Scott Croft)

"Therefore my counsel is that as the electric charge begins to happen between two seventeen-year-olds, they better think really clearly about how to manage that. And if they don't intend to get married in the next year or so, they better not pair off but keep it in groups and step back from it." (John Piper)

2. MIND: Biblical Mindset
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a)

Courtship could be one of the best ways to show servanthood. It is not the way of finding the one who can make you happy or who can boost your ego and never to complete you (no human relation can ever satisfy you, Christ alone can give that satisfaction). Whatever reason/s you hear around you about their fanaticism about this "love thing", BE DIFFERENT. Time to be a freak in their sight. But remember, a radical and different action starts with a transformed mindset. You can not act against what you believe in; so the very principle that shapes you, that is what you always do.

"Modern dating asks, 'How can I find the one for me?' while biblical courtship asks, 'How can I be the one for her?'...Biblical courtship means that a man does not look for a laundry list of characteristics that comprise his fantasy woman so that his every desire can be fulfilled, but he looks for a godly woman as Scripture defines her — a woman he can love and, yes, be attracted to, but a woman whom he can serve and love as a godly husband." (Scott Croft)

3. ACTS: Biblical Method
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

A transformed mind leads to transformed acts. If you know that you never intend to marry someone, then do not cross the line over friendship. I thought at first, since Bernard is my bestfriend for more than a decade now, change is minimal with our new romantic relationship. I was wrong! God gives us different intimacy and deeper godly affections towards each other since we agreed to have this commitment with each other. More surprises of His grace await us everyday that whenever we are together, we are always in awe of His workings in our lives.

God-glorifying relationship is not satisfied with "kiligs". It aims that the relationship will lead each other for a deeper relationship with God and portrayal of Christlike service towards each other.

"In modern dating, intimacy precedes commitment. In biblical courtship, commitment precedes intimacy." (Scott Croft)

"A Christian who is waiting upon the Lord is a figure of faithful activity – praying, expectantly anticipating God’s action, not obsessed with his or her own unfulfilled desires but looking beyond the horizon of personal need, ministering to the needs of others. (William Risk)"

Gentlemen, it is your duty to lead and initiate. Lead the ladies in a way that Christ will be their sole treasure and not you. I remember an insight I learned from Joshua Harris (I think it was from his book) that do not say "I love you" to a lady if you will not and you can not marry her ("can not" denotes your capability to wed her).

Ladies, pray for a man who will make you his number two only (for GOD alone is the Lover of his soul). We are prone to the pride of exclusive attention, of pampering. And we can easily fall with somebody who lets us feel to be like a princess. But pray and wait for a man whose blood and passion is to deepen your knowledge of God. Pray and wait for a man who wants you to have a deeper and more intimate relationship with God each day and not that man who just wants to be intimate with you.

Lastly, may we learn from Leslie Ludy about how he describes Eric (her husband):

"Whenever I was around him, his spiritual fire seemed to ignite my own, and after being with him I would usually end up on my knees poring over my Bible, digesting all the new thoughts and insights he had inspired within me. Throughout our friendship, Eric had never attempted to draw my attention to himself, but always pointed me back to my true Prince, Jesus Christ. He actively helped me protect my inner sanctuary...
Every stage of a love story that is truly initiated by our Prince—both the friendship and the romance—only enhances our intimacy with Him. If a relationship is not leading us closer and closer to Him, it will quickly become just another one of the “other lovers” cluttering up our sanctuary. Sadly, too many of us begin to build an inner sanctuary for our Prince and then get thrown completely off course because of a romantic relationship. A romantic relationship might very well have been initiated by God, but the moment our focus moves from our Prince to a human love story is the moment we cease to guard our sanctuary, and our entire foundation for success crumbles into ashes. A relationship that leads us closer to our Prince and carefully protects our inner sanctuary is the key to discovering romance as it was truly intended to be—a little taste of heaven on earth."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Essential Qualities of a Leader

According to an Indian student leader P.T. Chandapilla, “Christian leadership is a vocation which blends both human and divine qualities in a harmony of ministry by God and His people for the blessing of others.” The following qualities of a leader are excerpt from my discussion in Lay Institute for Christian Advancement (LIfCA) last Saturday, January 7. Insights are adapted and revised from Oswald J. Sanders’ book entitled Spiritual Leadership.

1. Disciplined

Whatever gift or talent you have, if you don’t have discipline, it will decline. Athletes need to train and exercise to maintain their body and their skills and it takes a discipline on their part to achieve that.

Without this essential quality, all other gifts remain as dwarfs: they cannot grow. (Oswald Sanders)

The road to godliness is a road of discipline.” (Bill Hull)

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight;

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night. (Anonymous)

2. Visionary

You can’t lead if you don’t have a plan or a vision for your group. You should set a target so you know where you are going.

Vision involves foresight as well as insight. (Sanders, 1997)

A vision without a task makes a visionary.

A task without a vision is drudgery.

A vision with a task makes a missionary. (N. G. Dunning)

Vision leads the leader. It paints the target. It sparks and fuels the fire within. Show me a leader without vision, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t going anywhere. (John Maxwell)

3. Wise and Passionate

I see wisdom and passion should go hand-in-hand. Wisdom should kindle your heart to burn in passion while you cannot be passionate for something you are not familiar with or you don’t know much; that is too dangerous.

If knowledge is the accumulation of facts, and intelligence the development of reason, wisdom is heavenly discernment. It is insight into the heart of things. Wisdom involves knowing God and the subtleties of the human heart. More than knowledge, it is the right application of knowledge in moral and spiritual matters, in handling dilemmas, in negotiating complex relationships…If knowledge comes by study; wisdom comes by Holy Spirit filling. (Oswald Sanders)

Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,

Have oftentimes no connection. Knowledge dwells

In head replete with thoughts of other men:

Wisdom, in minds attentive to their own.

Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much,

Wisdom is humble, that he knows no more. (Author unknown)

The giants of the faith all had one thing in common: neither victory nor success but passion. (Philip Yancey)

4. Decision-Maker and Prayerful

A leader, in as much as he is supposed to be independent enough to make decisions; he should know that his primary task is to seek his Master’s will through prayers before coming up with a decision. It is easy for a leader to decide by the will of God if he spends more of his time in prayer; fro in prayer you’ll know the very heart of God.

When all the facts are in, swift and clear decision is the mark of a true leader. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide. An impulsive person may be quick to declare a preference; but a leader must weigh evidence and make his decision on sound premises. (Oswald Sanders)

Prayer helps us to increasingly see the world how God sees it. (Christine Dillon)

5. Courageous and Spirit-dependent

There is once a war movie I love which taught me how to be a leader. Mel Gibson in that movie assured his subordinates as they get ready for a battle that he will be the first to step on the battlefield but will be the last one to step out of it. That is a leader. He possesses such courage and the blessedness of being a Christian leader is that his courage is not his own; it is the Holy Spirit who gives him that courage.

Courage is that quality of mind which enables people to encounter danger or difficulty firmly, without fear or discouragement…

…Consider these two contrasting statements: “With the doors locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19), and, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John” (Acts4:13). These statements describe the same disciples and the same opposition. What happened between the first and the second? The difference is the Holy Spirit. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). And when the Holy Spirit is given control of the personality he gives not “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7). (Oswald Sanders)

6. Humble

Humility is the hallmark of the spiritual leader…The spiritual leader will choose the hidden path of sacrificial service and approval of the Lord over the flamboyant self-advertising of the world. (Oswald Sanders)

Let us learn from two of the great men in the Bible about humility:

John the Baptist: He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30)

Paul: I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle. (I Corinthians 15:9)

I am less than the least of all God’s people. (Ephesians 3:8)

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. (I Timothy 1:15)

7. With Integrity and Sincerity

You life is being watched and imitated by your followers so walk with integrity and talk with sincerity.

Surely the spiritual leader must be sincere in promise, faithful in discharge of duty, upright in finances, loyal in service, and honest in speech. (Oswald Sanders)

You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 18:13)

8. Patient

When fruits or results are often unseen, we tend to rush and pressure our followers. A leader should be patient enough to understand his followers’ weaknesses. Remember how patient is the Lord with our shortcomings.

A leader shows patience by not running too far ahead of his followers and thus discouraging them. While keeping ahead, he stays near enough for them to keep him in sight and hear his call forward. He is not so strong that he cannot show a strengthening sympathy for the weakness of his fellows. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak,” Paul wrote in Romans 15:1. (Oswald Sanders)

9. Tact and With Diplomacy

A leader is not a dictator and sensitivity to your followers’ needs and situations is needed for their growth.

The root meaning of “tact” has to do with touching. The tactile sense is the ability to feel through touch. Concerning relationships, tact is the ability to deal with people sensitively, to avoid giving offense, to have a feel for the proper words or responses to a delicate situation.

Diplomacy is the ability to manage delicate situations, especially involving people from different cultures, and certainly from differing opinions. (Oswald Sanders)

10. With Strong Conviction and Inspirational Power

A leader who is visionary is a leader with conviction. Otherwise, his vision will remain as an ambition or unfulfilled dream. But his strong conviction should not remain in his heart alone; his conviction is infectious that it will be felt and embraced by his followers too. This conviction is not a burden to his followers because it will be a source of inspiration among his followers as the leader also possesses inspirational power. He keeps of pushing them and lifting them; encouraging them to joyfully shout their single passion, their single conviction.

The power of inspiring others to service and sacrifice will mark God’s leader. The leader is like a light for others around…Nehemiah had this quality. The people in Jerusalem were utterly disheartened and dispirited when he arrived. In no time he built them into an effective team of workers. Such were his powers that before long we read, “The people had a mind to work.” (Oswald Sanders)

The problem with most leaders today is they don’t stand for anything. If you don’t stand for some thing, you’ll fall for anything. (Don Shula)

Copyright His Beloved 2011.