Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yes...I am a Sinner and I Married a Sinner

I am torn between two men I love. I don't know to whom I will give my wholehearted devotion and affection. I went to Man 1 and though his face is blurry in my sight, I know I love him much. He looks at me affectionately and I know he loves me too. Suddenly he became too busy and it seems I am not there. I try to talk to him but he lifts his hand, "wait". He then changed his mood. I suddenly feel a pain in my heart as I see him in that scenario I do not want to see. I ran crying and I found myself to Man 2, I can't see his physique. He's crying with me, wiping my tears. With his touch and look at me I can feel his love. I love this man so much too. He is so gentle and I am secured in his arms. But I ran away still. Who am I going to choose? I  know I only love a man with my whole heart. How can I love two men? 
As I was running away, I looked behind me and I saw them both running after me. I am in great struggle, crying as I don't want to choose between them. They were drawing closer and closer to me. I still can't see who is who. Suddenly, when they were few steps away from me, I just saw them merged and there was my husband infront of me, offering his hands to lift me up. I struggled to open my eyes. IT WAS A DREAM. I looked at my cell phone (December 22, 4:06 am). 
I couldn't get my sleep back since then. The dream was like a video in my mind, it kept on playing. I found myself praying and asking GOD for His grace. The message was very clear to me. I love my husband, whether he is in good shape as I wanted him to be or he is in bad shape which I fear and don't like to see. I cannot deny the fact that eventhough he is at his worst, I still love him. 

That dream made me realized that I cannot separate those weakness of him from the strength I treasure in him. I then fear myself that I may not be able to complement him when those weaknesses appear. It has been my struggle how to show my appreciation of him despite his weaknesses. I am consumed by these thoughts that I really pray I will be enabled to show how I cherish him everyday and that since June 30 of 2012, I am blessed everyday because of him.

Yes, I am a sinner saved by grace and that is why on GOD's grace I solely depend. Seeing that I myself have my own weaknesses and fearing those weaknesses remind me of a book entitled "When Sinners Say 'I Do'". I haven't read the book yet (how I wish I have one) but I love how Sovereign Grace Ministries Store introduced it and this line is striking: "But realizing the truth about our sin points us to the glory of God’s grace and power to change us." Yes, we are sinners when we exchanged vows but we know that only through Christ can we be able to live everyday displaying GOD's glory in our marriage.

I am thankful that GOD uses many ways to assure me that He is with us in this marriage. I thank GOD how He corrects me of my possible separation of my husband's strength and weakness. I smile when I read this quote from Dave Harvey, “Could it be that God already knows you are sinners, yet gives you everything you need to build a thriving marriage anyway?” That's the grace of GOD. I am thankful that GOD wrote our love story and He is still writing our married life story.

I love my husband more than anyone. In order that I may love him in a way that glorifies God, C. S. Lewis taught me how: When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. And may GOD be glorified to increase my love of Him so I may love my husband all the more.


While drafting this blog, my husband came home with a new tablet for me. He was thinking I am sad for my former tablet is not functioning anymore. I will write it here what I told you, Mahal: You are my treasure (next to GOD, of course) and I am happy being with you. Material things won't make me happy, you know it. GOD enables me that you will be the great source of my happiness and I will also love you increasingly until my last breath.

Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church. (John Piper)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Risks of my Intimacy with Unbelieving Friends

There are times when I feel the guilt of spending too much time with unbelievers and I can't have the guts to share the gospel to them. I always ask myself: Why do I love to be with him/her/them? When we had our New Testament survey in I Corinthians when I was still a youth in my home church, I learned that the very reason that you are supposed to be mingling with unbelievers is the Great Commission. If you cannot share the gospel to them, do not be yoked with them as warned by Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 6:14.

It is unavoidable to have circle of friends in our workplaces or schools. It would even be a negative testimony if we would shun them and isolate ourselves. It is often a question of up to what extend should our friendship with them be. But that is not for me to answer in this blog, I will try to enumerate some effects of having friendship with the unbelievers and the answer to our question will be answered by you yourself.

(NOTE: I don't want to impose a Pharisaic attitude here; I am also guilty of them most of the time.)

It degrades our standard of morality.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says that bad company corrupts good character. At first, their curses are stench to us. Their choice of words are unpleasant to our ears. Their topics when they converse  are alien to us. Eventually, we do curse even in our mind or even sometimes it just slips into our mouth.We communicate to them in their jargon and we know their up-to-date topics. We even sometimes lead the conversations. 

It lets us spend our time in unfruitful ways.

When I was in college, I enjoyed spending a vacant time in the woods to read a book or listen a song. Somehow, I am missing that solitude. Now I find myself, most of the time, spending vacant periods chatting with unbelieving friends. There is a very thin line between knowing the news or updates from colleagues to gossiping. I usually convince myself that I need to know what's happening in my community but sometimes I just catch myself gossiping already.

It shifts our attention away from our godly visions.

It is not only that actions and lifestyles are degraded. Even the high standards we have with our principles and convictions are compromised. Our GOD-entranced vision becomes patterned into this world. We lower our standards now and begin to love the things of this world. We may find ourselves adapting this world's definition of beauty that we forget to cultivate the inner beauty which is so precious to God (I Peter 3:3-4).

It changes our priorities.

We also change our priorities. The usual Bible/book reading becomes TV watching. Praying time becomes fb/chat/twitter/selfie/google plus/DOTA time. I also surf the net and I was rebuked on spending much time in it at night for instead of spending a quality time with my husband and with our GOD, I am there infront of the netbook. My pursuit of heavenly perspective is blurred by my pursuit to be "in" and be not left behind by my friends.

It affects our testimony.

Our testimony is also at stake. There are common sayings: "Tell me who your friends are ad I will tell you who you are." And "birds of the same feather, flock together." Not that true at all? "It depends upon the situations", you may say. Then how come that the Bible says, "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" (Amos 3:3) 

Whether we face it or not, there will be eyes that may be looking up to us. How do we show that we are different from this world when we love to join the world?

Proverbs 12:26 says that the righteous choose their friends carefully. I am not into the position to judge you for having unbelieving friends, I also have mine. But I am reminding you as I ask the Lord to always remind me the level of intimacy I am supposed to give them. Heart check should also be frequently done so we will not be dragged easily into this world and not be enticed by its ways. But if we know that we are easily influenced by them, may be it is time to look for believers in your community. If you can't find one, ask the LORD to give you one.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Blessed Night with Hubby

I and my beloved husband, Bernard, planned to go out and eat today. I thought it would be just like before, simple snacks (I was even imagining pizza because I miss it already).  What happened really put me into cloud nine. I feel so loved by GOD because of a husband like Nard.

First, I was shocked when he put on his long sleeves and tie. It was really unusual because we are used to casual clothes (often if we will dine just nearby, he wears simple shirt and shorts). I took a picture because I am really shocked; I thought he was just joking.

He looked perfectly nice. Actually, I changed clothes also because I felt so awkward being beside a very formal husband. He was teasing me when I got conscious with my dress.

We went into our wrangler and another unusual thing happened. He opened first the passenger seat's door for me and I was so surprised to see a bouquet of pink flowers (As far as I can remember, this is the very first flowers he bought for me. He knows that I am better moved by chocolates than flowers but chocolates are forbidden for me as of now.) He then took me to Casa Bella (the restaurant in our place that we so long wanted to visit).

It was our first time so we don't know what to order. We just laughed when our orders arrived and they were good for 4-5 persons. We don't know how to eat them all. We agreed to minimize eating rice so we can hopefully eat them all.

I could feel God's presence when hubby prayed. He indeed wrote this love story and the end of that story excites me more as He reveals His providence, guidance and workings in our lives as husband and wife. Pausing eating from time to time somehow gives us ample time to chat and talk about us. I miss that moment so much. Don't get me wrong because we do chat but seldom we talk with a romantic atmosphere. (hehehe) We ended that date with a takeout left-over (the steak) for we really can't have it anymore. We were so full.

This night is a night I want to be remembered not just as memorable because it is romantic. I am blogging this experience for the main reason why we are together is GOD alone. And His workings in us for the past years especially for the past days are very remarkable. In His grace we rely and His grace abounds in us.

I can feel the joy flowing in us as well as the love we have for each other because I can feel God's presence in us is so mighty and intimate. I will forever stand in awe whenever I reminisce how God worked all things together to put us together. In fact, as I am penning this blog post, he is drafting the Bible quiz questions for tomorrow's Family Day and we are joyfully sharing ideas and even laughing together at our slight memory loss in Bible trivias. 

May GOD be always pleased to keep our passion single and that as our hearts beat for each other, our hearts beat together more for the glory of GOD...alone. Hallelujah!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Still Waiting and Hoping...yet Praising GOD

image source: http://s1.hubimg.com/u/4950838_f520.jpg
Eleven months have passed since I penned this. I already underwent the laparoscopic surgery and the six-month GnRH therapy. And just last August, I underwent Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) Test only to find out that the blockage in my right fallopian tube has recurred.

On my first monitoring cycle after my GnRH therapy (since during those months I stopped having my monthly period), still no follicle was found in my left ovary; instead, the OB-Gyne found a cystic follicle in my right. This follicle is larger than the normal and the moment I will have my period and will suffer dymenorrhea, it may again absorb some of the supposedly waste blood.

My OB-Gyne prescribed that I take Letrozole on my second cycle. On my 10th day, a small follicle in my left ovary (the healthy one) was found. According to my OB, it was still small because it was just my 10th day. Nonetheless, this small follicle has caused me and my husband greater joy and hope.

I had my ultrasound again last Saturday (day 17) but we need to wait for the next Saturday to meet my OB and explain the result. Analyzing it though on our own understanding and comparing the result from my previous ultrasound, there were many different results. I and my husband were left perplexed. I was worried and became anxiously waiting for Saturday. I struggled for nights because of "what if's" I created. I was hurt because of "what if's" I generated. Two sleep-deprived nights kept me seeking for the answer to "why me".

But thanks be to GOD for mending my hurt heart and filling my head with His Truth. I cannot explain the sudden change of my thoughts and feelings. It's just that GOD is so good to use varied ways to keep us on our knees and to draw us nearer unto Him. I also know that there are many people praying for me and I know that their prayers were heard. I thank GOD for these precious people He has given me and for those encouragements God gave me through them.

Now going back to the result...I still do not have the answer as of now. But I am now confident in my GOD that whatever lot He has given me, He has also taught me to sing, "It is well...It is well with my soul." Glory to GOD for His unfathomable grace and love.
If I'm standing on a mountain or drowning in a sea
If I am filled with hope or crying out for mercy
If I'm singing hallelujah or scared to make a sound
If I am learning how to walk or when I'm falling down
I'm saying You are still my God, Still my God
In a world where so much seems uncertain
You remain hope for the strong and broken
No matter where we are; You are never far
And nothing changes who You are (Avalon, Still my God)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections from Judges 4-5

By the grace of God, I am assigned to handle the adult Sunday School in Binmaley United Methodist Church. The church requested a chronological discussion of the events from the Old Testament. At first, I thought it would just be like a story telling session. However, my husband, who is our pastor also, challenged me to share some reflections from the stories tackled.

We are now in the book of Judges and awhile ago, we discussed Judges chapters 4-5. It was the story of Deborah. I know the story since I was a kid but I appreciate the story more now. Indeed, you will enjoy being a learner if you are the teacher because the Holy Spirit is the One guiding you to understand the Bible. I thank GOD for His guidance as well as His wisdom as I prepared the lesson.

I am blogging it today because I would like it to be recorded so I won't also forget these insights in the near future.

INSIGHT #1: The story of Deborah is not an issue of the "girl power".

Many feminists are using this story as an example of a woman leader and even a woman overpowering a man. But we can see here that in Judges 4:3, the Israelites were under the oppression of the Canaanites and in verse 4, here comes Deborah introduced as a prophetess leading/judging Israel that time. And her task was to settle disputes among Israelites (verse 5).

She was not raised as a judge like the judges before her; that is as a deliverer of the Israelites againsts oppressors. In fact, when it was time to liberate Israel, the Lord ordered her to send a man in the person of Barak to do that task (vv.6-7).

Yes, Barak was hesitant to do the task and he asked for the company of Deborah (v.8).  And when Deborah said that as a result of Barak's hesistance, the honor will be given to a woman (v.9), she was not talking about herself either (see 4:21). Moreover, Deborah's name was not mentioned during the battle and pursuit with Sisera; it was Barak who advanced (v.15) and pursued Sisera (v.22).

In my analysis, verse 9 was just a rebuke to Barak because he hesitated to do a task as a man leading/delivering Israel. There are too many women rising to do the task of being leaders and heads because godly men fail to do their God-given task of doing so. If you are a man reading this blog, may you not wait for God to raise a Deborah because you are not doing your God-given task. If you are a man being called by God into the pastoral ministry, may you not wait for God to raise a Deborah to lead His church.

INSIGHT #2: If GOD calls you into a mission, He goes ahead of you.

We are sometimes afraid to do a mission or a ministry eventhough we know that God calls us into that work. What we are forgetting is that when Moses hesitated to go back to Egypt and free his brothers from slavery, God had answers to every excuses he made. He was then told that his brother Aaron has been notified to help him. That means God had already gone to Egypt and had been working already there even before He called Moses into that mission.

Deborah assured Barak in verse 14, "Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?"

INSIGHT #3: The LORD Himself will fight for you.

When we say "yes" to God, He will not just guide us, He will fight for us. When Barak and his army advanced, the LORD routed Sisera (v.15). How I love those words! The LORD was fighting for them and this insight leads us to number 4.

INSIGHT #4: Victory doesn't depend on what you have.

It was recorded that whenever Sisera was described, his 900 iron chariots was always recorded as well (vv.3, 13). But what happened to those 900 iron chariots? Verse 15 says that Sisera and his army abandoned their chariots and fled on foot.

It was the Canaanites' advantage yet it was nothing in the hands of God. Ministry, mission or even victory in any situation doesn't depend on us and what we have, it is always in the hands of God.

INSIGHT #5:  Lessons from the life of Jael

a) She knows who the God of Israel is and she treasures GOD more that earthly alliance with the enemies. 

She knows the friendly relation between King Jabin of Canaan and her husband Heber. She knows the favor her family might receive from the king and she knows the punishment of what she did if ever Canaan would not fallinto the hands of the Israelites. But I guess, she knows the God of Israel and she treasures Him more and fears Him more. As a result, she was called "most blessed women...most blessed of tent-dwelling women."

b) The daily tasks she does lead her to do a mighty work

She was left in their tent, most probably doing her everyday task. Maybe that includes showing hospitality to visitors, most probably Sisera had been one of them too. And in that day, where it could be one of her ordinary days, a mighty task of delivering Israel against an enemy becomes her task. She was the woman prophesied by Deborah in verse 9.

We don't need to look for a greater opportunity just to serve the Lord. We don't need to wait for a mission rally just to do a ministry. Let us be faithful in our everyday task, in our daily job, and we may not expect that one of those ordinary days can be an extraordinary mission for the Lord.

c) She exceeds ordinary hospitality

Deborah praised Jael's hospitality in 5:25. And that is a challenge for me. How will I surpass a normal way of showing kindness, of love, of hospitality, of service to others? How about if that is towards an enemy? I remember the quote we kept on telling to ourselves during Christmas camp when I was still in the youth fellowship: "Wag na wag kang papayag na may mas mabait sa'yo." [Do not let someone be more kind than you.]

The picture of how Elisabeth Elliot can forgive, can serve and can love the very person who killed her husband comes into my mind. May the grace of GOD help me exceed what is natural and ordinary to others.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Help! I'm just too emotional...

Sometimes, emotions are the very things that shatter our world. I find it easy advising people about not being driven away by their emotions and to still cling unto God and decide/do things that are God-glorifying. However, when I'm also into the deepest pit of struggle with my emotions, I find my advice so idealistic. So I'm penning this short post to let readers know that you are not alone in this struggle and for me to have something to read again to remind myself of God's faithfulness in my life.

Below are some helpful ways to overcome negative emotions:

Listen to songs that exalt GOD.

I do not merely say that you listen to songs. There are sentimental songs that worsen the situation; that instead of encouraging you, they even pamper the negative emotions. So I made sure that I listen to songs that are GOD-centered in order for me to see that GOD is far greater powerful than whatever struggles I have. In that way also, the blurring vision of who GOD is in my life becomes clearer. I am reminded that whatever action/s I am about to do will reflect my testimony of who GOD is in my life. I used to believe the lie that when a woman is in pain, her actions are justifiable. Believe me, consequences of actions initiated by being too emotional are far more painful than what you have been through. There will be regrets and lots of "I wish...".

Fill your head and heart with the Words of GOD.

*Listen to audio sermons

Instead of staring at the ceiling or pounding your pillows, try to listen to audio sermons that will again magnify the greatness of GOD. There are times that breaking us more will make us whole again. And when I listen, I really choose preachers who will not tell me what I want to hear, I choose those who will tell me what I really need to hear.

*Read the Bible.

If there are no available e-sermons, reading the Bible is very helpful too. I love reading Psalms during my "downs". I love meeting David that in times of his depression and while he is in his deepest pit, he is still able to tell himself to put his hope in God for he will still praise Him (Psalm 42:5-6, 11; 43:5).

Talk and pray with a friend.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 says, "If one falls down, his friend can help him up." The book of Proverbs even defines friend as someone who loves at all times and who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 17:17; 18:24). Go to a friend who loves Christ more that you - that is the friend you need. He/She is the one who may wound/break you more but can be trusted (Prov.27:6). Go to a friend who has greater passion for God's glory because he/she will be more concern of magnifying Christ in you than empowering your ego. He/She will help you to look on God and not on yourself; he/she will help you let go and let God.

Be still and know God. (Psalm 46:10)

Have you tried doing the third tip and still find yourself in a maze? There are times that the struggle is beyond words that you couldn't explain to a friend what you are going through. There are times that even you, yourself, couldn't understand the negative feelings that envelope you. There are times that you can even utter that you don't know yourself anymore.

That is possible to happen but not impossible to overcome. God knows us more that we know ourselves; God understands. He is still the Bestfriend we can have. If times come that I think I'm alone, I always remind myself I am not. What a great relationship and privilege we have if we entrust God our everything! We can cry and utter words beyond comprehension and we are assured that He listens, that He understands. It is comforting that even what we can just say is "Abba, Father", God in His Sovereignty will make all things beautiful in His time.

I guess this is the secret of King David as he is known as the "man after God's heart". He knows His God so much that even when he doesn't understand what he is undergoing, He just needs to immerse Himself in the presence of God and so he can confidently say "I will still praise the Lord." Just be still and know God. Calm that heart and know God. If you still think that your heart is more powerful than your will to calm it, don't listen to it still. John comforts us in his letter that our God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. (I John 3:20) If Jesus can calm the storm and the raging sea, how much more can He tame a wild heart? How much more can He soothe a hurt heart? How much more can He mend a broken heart? How much more can He lift a depressed/discouraged heart?

I want to quote John Piper before I end this:
“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes - many times - my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens - and it happens every day in some measure - I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.”  

Let us pray that when negative feelings are there, our minds and eyes will still be focused on God. Great is God's faithfulness. I have proven that over and over again.

When I am into a situation I think I can't bear, I just sing:
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

My feelings are changing; they are not constant. My GOD is eternal and great. 

I just want ro share a very encouraging song by Joni Eareckson Tada:
Copyright His Beloved 2011.