Tag Archives: God

On waiting… (again)

Waiting can really bring out the worst in people. I’m not very good at waiting, and this is proven by the fact that I am writing about this yet again (if you missed it, I first wrote about it here).

When I find myself in a situation where I have to wait, not only do I get impatient, but I tend to become more distracted and more emotional. I try to find ways to take away the discomfort that I feel, and more often than not, I end up spending my time on things that aren’t very important. Anything that will numb my “pain” quickly.

I know it’s the same for some people, but maybe the distractions and temporary solutions differ. Not all methods are bad, but they’re probably not the wisest ideas either.

The sad reality is that the distractions and temporary solutions never fully heal us or take away the discomfort, because the discomfort is there for a reason. I find that it usually serves as a warning signal–a sign that something needs to be checked.

When I find myself in a time of waiting, that’s when my enemies come out to play:  my impatience, lack of focus, skewed perspectives, tendency to be overly anxious,  even my selfishness and self-centeredness. All sorts of stuff come out during times like these, and when I do take the time to stop and really take a good look at myself, I am disgusted and frustrated, but at the end of the day, I am also grateful. The sooner these things come out, the sooner I am humbled, and the sooner I am more willing (and wanting!) to step aside and let God do His work in me. I can’t make all of these recurring or surfacing issues go away on my own, but He is able. I just wish I would remember this sooner, and run to Him first, instead of wasting my time on other things. *Sigh*

I like the way King David put it:

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”
-Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG)

Can you relate? What have you seen in the mirror lately?

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Don’t you love surprises?

When I don’t know what to write, it helps to go back to my old diaries and blogs. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. There are lots of random stuff, there are lots of stuff that are better off staying hidden, but there are also a lot of memories, thoughts, and insights that are golden–they’re valuable to me because they’ve been part of my journey.

I came across this entry that I wrote on this same week in the year 2007 (the year I made my decision to make Jesus the Lord of my life), which I thought I’d share with you.

“The other night, while we were having a steady night (shopping, dinner, dessert), I caught myself silently watching the Rivermaya Bagong Liwanag finalists who were sitting across me. They seem like nice people…young, optimistic, passionate, excited, shy…

I was thinking about how much their lives have already changed in the last couple of months and how much the life of the winner is going to change after the results are announced this week. As we were leisurely strolling around the Ortigas area, trying to burn calories and pass the time, I asked where they thought they would be if they had never auditioned for the show. I don’t recall them giving a definite answer; I just remember that they mumbled stuff and we laughed about it, but I’m pretty sure that they never expected to be tagging along with a seemingly random group of strangers on a steady Friday night, some of which, they would only listen to over the radio or see on TV. As for me, well, I’m as random as it can get. Haha.

I, for one, had no idea at the start of the year, that this is what life would be like for me this year. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. So much has happened this year. I felt like I’ve been to the bottom and back. I’m pretty certain that I’m not the person I was back in January.

A friend and I were talking last week about life’s uncertainties…I had even blogged about it, too. He said something that this year really served to remind us all about uncertainty…and how it does lead to excitement once you’ve worked it out in your head. After all, he said, we did realize that things were ALWAYS uncertain, and its the people around us that really matter.

This brings me to a thought I’ve had for last couple of years. Before, I just wanted to go away. I wanted to go back to New York, where I felt that anything was possible. I used to think that if I stayed here, I could already predict the way my life was going to go. I could already predict the type of people I would meet. I had myself believing that life in Manila would be like being stuck at a dead end. I used to think that only I had control over my destiny, and that if I had made wrong choices, I would miss out, or I would delay what was meant for me.

I’m so grateful for this year, because this was the year that the blinders came off, my old beliefs were shattered, and my perspective changed. I realized just how limited my vision used to be.

There are exciting and great things ahead. I believe that. This year proved to me that God can change the unchangeable, reach the unreachable, and He can soften the hardest of hearts. He is the Master of Surprises—and boy oh boy, do I love surprises.”

I wrote that in 2007, and it’s still so relevant for me today. This year has been filled with wonderful surprises for me, and I am simply amazed and grateful. If you told me last year that I would go through all of what I’ve been through in the past 9/10 months, I probably would’ve just laughed. This was the year that I’ve traveled more than I have ever traveled in my life, a reality that I can only attribute to God and His crazy generosity. I met wonderful people and experienced incredible things. I was pressed and pushed out of my comfort zone and I’ve been through the desert and back. But every twist and turn was worth it.

What about you–did you think you’d be where you are today? How did God surprise you this year?

Why bother with theology?

I’m currently reading Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. The book talks a lot about three words that make most people squirm (myself included): theology, orthodoxy, and doctrine. I don’t often read books like this one, but I pushed myself to give it a try. In the first chapter, Harris already gave me a good reason to read further. I want to share with you what stood out for me, because I think he wrote it beautifully:

“I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God’s nature–what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him–affects every part of your life.”

He goes on to write:

“I know the idea of ‘studying’ God often rubs people the wrong way. It sounds cold and theoretical, as if God were a frog carcass to dissect in a lab or a set of ideas that we memorize like math proofs.

But studying God doesn’t have to be like that. You can study him the way you study a sunset that leaves you speechless. You can study him the way a man studies the wife he passionately loves. Does anyone fault him for noting her every like and dislike? Is it clinical for him to desire to know the thoughts and longings of her heart? Or to want to hear her speak?

Knowledge doesn’t have to be dry and lifeless. And when you think about it, exactly what is our alternative? Ignorance? Falsehood?

We are either building our lives on the reality of what God is truly like and what he’s about, or we’re basing our lives on our own imagination and misconceptions.

We’re all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.”

Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep

I like how he said that studying God can be like studying a sunset. Just last night, I saw the star-filled sky and it took my breath away. I could’ve easily missed it if I didn’t stop and look up.

For me, getting to know God is sort of like that. Whenever I manage to take the time to stop and really offer up and open up my senses to Him, He always takes my breath away.

What do we know about God? How does that affect the way that we live?

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What would you do…

…if you were confident that God was with you?

Some people would say, “Wait a minute…isn’t God always with us?”

And to that, I’d reply, “Yes He is. But we’re not always confident that He is. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we doubt. You can tell by our actions (or lack thereof).”

So let me ask that again:

What would you do TODAY if you were confident that God was with you?

Would you do something differently?
Would you start that conversation?
Would you take on that challenge?
Would you make that phone call?
Would you send that message?
Would you ask that question?
Would you submit that form?
Would you give that speech?
Would you see that doctor?
Would you give that away?
Would you sell that item?
Would you take that test?
Would you give that gift?
Would you ask for help?

Think about it. Think about what you would do.

I won’t even ask you what you’re afraid of, because I’ve found that when we’re busy focusing on our fears, we miss out on what’s really important.

“The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
– Psalm 117:6

Fears = small

God = BIG

Think about it.

What would you do?

A powerful insight about grace

USC professor and author Dallas Willard

Early this year, I had the privilege of seeing and hearing philosopher, professor, and author Dallas Willard speak in person at the Catalyst West 2010 conference, where he was interviewed on stage by one of my favorite authors and speakers, John Ortberg.

This session was one of the highlights of the conference for me. Willard is not only brilliant and deep, he’s incredibly funny and witty, too. A guy named Jake Ishmael even tweeted: “Dallas Willard makes Yoda look like an idiot.” Sorry to all the Star Wars fans, but I have to agree!

Willard had several Twitter-worthy statements, but there was one that still resonates with me today:

“Grace doesn’t make us passive…
We have to understand, grace is not opposed to effort.
It’s opposed to earning.
Effort is action. Earning is attitude.
You can’t mix God’s action with you with
the idea that ‘I’m earning this’.
That’s the wrong basis for the relationship.”

You can view part of the interview here: (the part about grace begins at 1:54)

While I was doing my research for this post, I came across a transcript of some remarks given by Dallas Willard at the C.S. Lewis Foundation Summer Conference at the University of San Diego. I think it just changed me. If you’re a teacher, you might want to read it.

Since I don’t know how to reach him, I’ll just say this here: thank you, Mr. Willard, for opening my mind and speaking to my heart.

What can you say about effort vs. earning? Does this insight help you?

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What you need to know about living a great story

The “-ber” months are just around the corner! I was feeling a little nostalgic lately, so I was prompted to look back at my blog archives (on both LiveJournal and WordPress) to see what happened at this time (last week of August to 1st week of September) in the past years. I found two things that I wrote about that seemed pretty cool and interesting back then, but now that I’m able to see how the stories played out, I can really say, “WOW!”

I’m sharing them here because I’m hoping that these stories will encourage you too.

What went on this week in 2007:

1) After lots of planning, persevering, and praying, my friend, Jorel Corpus, passed his auditions for Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. That was great news, but it was also just the beginning, because he still had to think about tuition, airfare, board & lodging, living expenses, and living apart from his family, friends, and bands (Kjwan, Happy Meals, Brigada), etc.

That's Jorel (in the pink shirt). The other guy is the friendly neighborhood fishball vendor!

2) The same week, one of the Philippines’ most popular bands, Rivermaya, started their search for a new singer. These guys are good friends of mine, and I was privileged to be a witness to what was happening behind the scenes–from the auditions, to the challenges, to the Finals Night. I was also able to meet and spend time with the last two finalists, and that’s how I met the simple and humble 18-year old Bicolano, Jayson Fernandez.

I took this photo of Jayson during one of the challenges

Now let’s look at 2010:

  • Jorel is living in the beautiful city of Boston and learning awesome stuff everyday at Berklee.

Jorel in Boston (May 2010)

The cool news is that Jorel isn’t just enjoying the experience–he’s maximizing it too.

He's a consistent Dean's Lister!

He’s also blessing others by coaching other musicians, and maximizing his network and his resources to help others.

  • After winning the competition back in 2007, Jayson has come into his own as the lead singer of Rivermaya. This young man is living his dream of being a member of his favorite band, plus he gets to travel all over the Philippines and Asia. But what’s so amazing for me is that I’ve seen how he has grown and evolved–not just in his craft but also in his faith and love for God. Today, I am blown away as I see him share joy, hope, love, and so much of his faith–with full confidence–wherever he goes. He SHINES.

This is one of the music videos that Rivermaya made early this year.
The song, “Lipad”, means “To fly”.

I look at all of this (and if you missed the video telling the story of Jojo and Tin Ibaretta, you must see it too) and I’m amazed. God has been so faithful and so good.

But here’s the other reality that we face: it takes a while before we can appreciate some of our stories. Sometimes, we look at someone’s story (like Jorel’s or Jayson’s), and we think it was just a smooth process of moving from point A to point B. We don’t always get to see what happens in between. Take these two stories, for instance. Most people don’t get to see the struggles that Jorel and Jayson had to go through.

But the truth is that we do have an idea of what happens in between, because the journey is similar for all of us! Whether it’s in the beginning or somewhere in the middle, we come across a challenge, roadblock, struggle, or problem. Or sometimes, something happens that causes excruciating pain. We reach that point where it’s just easier to just turn around and walk away. It’s easier to just run away and hide.

If you watch a movie, you wouldn’t leave right after the opening sequence, and I’d like to think that you wouldn’t walk out when the lead character starts getting into trouble. Where’s the fun in that? No, you sit in your seat, expectant and eager to see how the story plays out. You stay because you want to know what happens next. And you stick around because you want to see how it all ends.

Our lives can be made up of great stories, our lives can even tell great stories, but most importantly, our lives are also part of God’s great story. But we only get to appreciate these truths when we embrace this fact: GREAT STORIES NEED TIME.

In time…

  • disappointments will be redeemed
  • difficult situations will evolve into good stories
  • good stories will turn into great stories
  • great stories will get even better
  • some prayers will be answered
  • better plans will be unveiled
  • hearts will be transformed
  • lives will be changed
  • promises will be fulfilled
  • enduring blessings will be revealed

Great stories need time, and some may need more time than others. That’s just how it is, because every story is different. But in the meantime, we pray for the grace to be patient, to endure, to persevere, and to be faithful through all the challenges, hurts, and difficulties. And we pray for open hearts, minds, and eyes to see and embrace what God has done and what He is doing. It isn’t always going to be easy, but I’m clinging on to this promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

If you have the time, watch this talk given by our senior pastor, Joey Bonifacio, when he was a guest speaker at Citipointe Church in Brisbane, Australia. It gave me the perspective and the hope that I needed.

Do you have a way of looking back on what has happened in you, through you, and around you? Do you have an encouraging story to share? Tell us about it!

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What to do when your thoughts are out of control

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, just when I’m about to go to sleep, my mind plays back the less-than-stellar moments of my day, and I have thoughts like these:

  • “Wow, what I said earlier sounded pretty stupid.”
  • “I should’ve said that. I can’t believe I forgot to say that.”
  • “Did I offend her?”
  • “I don’t think he understood what I was trying to say.”
  • “Did they think I was showing off?”
  • “I didn’t do enough. I could’ve done more.”
  • “I feel like an idiot.”
  • “I am a poor excuse for a friend.”
  • “I’m never going to learn this lesson.”

And then I start obsessing over these thoughts. I think about sending text messages to apologize to people or to make clarifications or to defend myself. In other words, I think about how to fix my mistakes.

Sometimes, these thoughts do have some truth behind them. In fact, sometimes, I really DO feel convicted about something that I did and I really do need to apologize to someone. But other times, especially when the thoughts are FLOODING in, I need to remember to just stop and breathe and ask myself what’s really behind the thoughts.

More often than not, it’s all in my head. What really happens is that I’m imagining things, making assumptions, and letting unfounded messages beat me down.

What I’ve learned to do is to just put my knee-jerk reactions aside and ask God to help me out. I tell Him what’s bugging me, and I ask Him to show me what’s really going on. Maybe my pride is getting in the way, maybe it’s the fear of rejection, maybe it’s a need for acceptance and validation, or maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever it is, I acknowledge it….then I take it to Him.

Admittedly, it’s easier said than done, and I even have trouble following my advice. But that’s what I try to do. Because if I don’t, those thoughts will eat me alive, and quite possibly–out of anxiety and desperation–lead me to say or do things that I might regret later. Sometimes He gently offers an answer as to what I ought to do, but most of the time, He simply offers His comfort and peace. And I’ve found, that’s more than enough to get me through the night…and thankfully, the days that follow, too.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  – Matthew 11:28-29

If you haven’t tried it, would you give it a try?

Can you relate? Are there thoughts that bug you, too

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How He Loves Me

One of my favorite bloggers, Lindsey Nobles, has a series on her blog where she invited other great bloggers to write guest posts reflecting on the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. On the last post of the series, she invited readers to share their reflections on the song. This one is mine.

I first heard the song when I was hanging out with some friends, several months ago. One of them just started singing it and playing it on the guitar, and everyone just ended up joining in, even if it was the first time some of us heard the song. It was just one of those moments that you can’t quite capture in words. Just like love….words cannot fully describe it.

I was out for a run this afternoon, and I started thinking about love. I wasn’t thinking about romantic love, just love in general. I was thinking about how it feels to love people, and how sometimes, I feel like I have so much love to give that my heart wants to burst. I was thinking about how I love seeing my nephews smile and I was thinking about what else I can do when I’m with them to bring out those smiles more often. I was thinking about how often I can hug them without them getting tired of it and how I can tell them I love them again and again without them thinking that something’s wrong with me. I was thinking about how, even though I’m single, God hasn’t given me a shortage of people to love and how He has surrounded me with loving people. And I was thinking about how grateful I am that God even gave me the capacity and ability to love, and how easily I could mess it up sometimes, as I’ve done so many times before. I was thinking about how the old version of my self would be too selfish, too needy, too insecure, too scared, too analytical, and too cynical to truly love others. I was thinking about how, sometimes, it’s easy to fall back into my old ways. I was thinking about the times that I felt unloved, overlooked or forgotten, and how God pulled me through those bouts and reminded me time and time again that He sees me, hears me, and loves me as if I’m the most precious and special being in the world. I was thinking about how amazing it is that I even find myself in this place–this place of being able to give love instead of holding it hostage, waiting for something in return.  This was not the heart I used to have. My old heart was numb. My old heart was hiding. My old heart was hibernating.

And when I try to think back at how my heart changed, it all goes back to God and His amazing, mind-boggling, unwavering love.

I am only able to love because He first loved me. That’s the beautiful and humbling truth. And I am so thankful, SO THANKFUL, for the times when I had no choice but to surrender into His loving arms and be consumed by His incomprehensible love. That means I’m grateful for the disappointments and heartbreaks, the seasons of loneliness, days of depression, and moments of frustration that opened, softened, and prepared my heart to feel and receive God’s overflowing grace, and ultimately, His abundant and unconditional love.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” -Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

I didn’t see how He was working then, and sometimes I still miss it. But it’s the truth that surrounds me every day. I go through tough times and difficult seasons, but through it all, He cares for my heart as if it was the most precious treasure in the world.

It’s crazy, but that’s how He loves me. And that’s how He loves you. And if you haven’t felt it, tell Him. Ask Him. That’s what I did. And though I can’t say things changed overnight, I am where I am today because He heard me then…and I know He’ll hear you, too.

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What’s your battle cry?

When you feel like the world’s crashing down on you and you feel very afraid and alone, what’s your battle cry?

Here’s one of mine:

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
– Psalm 56:3-4

When I’m afraid, I need to know that there’s someone I can run to, someone bigger than me, someone more powerful than me, who loves me and is looking out for me. How about you? Do you have someone to run to? Just so you know, His arms are wide open for you, too.

Bible “OOH!” Moment for the Week

I’ve read this verse a lot of times:

“Is anything too hard* for the LORD?” -Genesis 14:18

But I often miss the footnote. Don’t miss this one.

* or wonderful